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Ten Things I Learned Last Week at @Cloud_Connect
by Toph Whitmore

Toph Whitmore, April 9, 2013

Several colleagues and I spent last week in Northern California at UBM TechWeb’s Cloud Connect event at the Santa Clara Convention Center. It was a great conference for ActiveState, and especially for Stackato private-PaaS technology. Here are the top ten things I learned during the recent trip to my old South Bay stomping grounds:

The future of development? PaaS-based. Stackato, for instance, lets devs code in their preferred language or framework. But what’s most compelling—and something on which we’ve heard much positive customer feedback—is that getting Stackato private-PaaS technology onto dev machines “sneaks” QA upstream in the application life cycle process: If that app works in dev, it’ll work in production. (No more pigs flying back and forth over the wall.)

The top-secret, only-in-private-beta HP Cloud Application PaaS looks slick. Not that it was on display at our booth or anything.

When “borrowing” an HP Cloud stand-up banner from the keynote area, act like you’re in a hurry. You’ll get fewer questions from security. Plus, it helps if you’re joined in the absconding by actual HPCS partners.

Amid all the noise, it’s the simple messages that work best. On Thursday, a guy walked past our booth, doubled back, and stopped to stare at our booth design. He asked if he could photograph it, noting that it was his favorite and that its clear messaging stood out from the text-heavy designs around us.

The event lived up to its name. We got to hobnob with many existing customers and partners, particularly the good folks from HPCS who stopped by for demos and some sign-stealing awesomeness.

For some vendors, an “85% solution” is good enough. Not exactly the marketing tagline I’d lead with. Here at ActiveState, we aim a little higher than say, B+.

Wearing a Canucks jersey at a Sharks game is a great way to meet snowbirds. And to endure some abuse from the home-team fans when Schneider gives up three goals in three minutes. The hockey game was at the HP Pavilion, by the way. (No, I didn’t sit in the HP private box. But I do get a nickel every time I mention “HP” in my blog posts).

Favorite quote of the week: “We need a new name for PaaS! More like ‘App-Dev as a Service.'” – Margaret Dawson, HP Cloud VP of Marketing (Woohoo! Have I hit a dollar yet?).

OpenStack is garnering attention as the open-source infrastructure du jour. Look no further than the big players voicing their commitment, but OpenStack was omnipresent at Cloud Connect. As open-source infrastructure providers make their moves, the CloudStacks of the world have their work cut out for them.

Stackato’s time has come. Maybe it’s because Stackato is the best PaaS technology out there. Maybe it’s because cloud leaders like HP, Mozilla, and ExactTarget are recognizing the transformational impact Stackato has on speed to market, strategy, and scalable management. Maybe it’s because some one-trick-pony PaaS providers are cutting back on events. Probably for all of those reasons, the ActiveState booth was crazy busy all week. See the pic—that was one of our quietest moments.

And it wasn’t just the booth. ActiveState developer evangelist John Wetherill and I gave a solutions theater presentation on Stackato’s hybrid cloud model. We expected 30 attendees. More than 85 showed up. And that was to hear a marketing guy talk… imagine that.

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Toph Whitmore leads the ActiveState marketing team, with focus on branding, communications, media management, and strategic planning. Toph has 15+ years' experience as a marketing/project lead and management consultant. He spent four years on strategic marketing assignments at Microsoft as a project manager with Caiman Consulting. Toph also headed DH Media Inc., a regional magazine publisher. Prior to that, he worked in enterprise high-tech marketing and product management in Washington State. Toph has a PMP certification and received his MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College and his BA in English from Pomona College.