Yesterday, I gave a presentation about CloudFS at Red Hat Summit in Boston. During the day I joked about how it had been scheduled at 5:30pm, with free food and beer elsewhere, so I didn’t have to worry about presenting to a large audience. How right I was. We ended up with about 40 people in a room that seats 200 – yes, I counted – and those who did attend seemed very tired from a full day’s worth of other sessions. It was a bit depressing, to be quite honest, especially when some folks got up and left half way through. Maybe it was for the free beer, maybe it’s because they realized this session wasn’t especially relevant to them, maybe it’s because I just sucked. Personally I would rate my performance as about average. I’m not a great speaker by any means, but I felt that I was able to present the material pretty clearly without pauses and stutters and nervous repetition like I saw from other speakers. There was some good back-and-forth with those who did stay, as well, and it was certainly better than not having been there at all, so I’ll try to focus on the positive.
The best thing that came out of this was probably not the in-person presentation itself but the opportunity to create a better set of slides than I had before. Here they are, in both OpenOffice and PDF forms. This includes the hidden and backup slides, plus notes that include most of what I said during the presentation and even some of the answers to questions, so if you’re reading the ODP version be sure to use a view that lets you see everything (the PDF version was already generated that way). I’m rather proud of these, actually, as I feel that they give the clearest picture to date of what CloudFS is about. Many thanks to Mark Wagner who did the performance part of the presentation (which meant that he had to put up with not having the same document on both the big and small screens due to mismatched-resolution problems with the conference setup), and to Ben England who actually did the vast majority of the testing to generate those numbers.
Just to be clear on what CloudFS’s goals are, I really really wish I could be working more actively on the “dynamo” and “paphos” (multi-site replication – so named because of this) pieces which only occupy two backup slides at the end of the presentation. Those are the features that inspired me to start the project, I think eventually they’ll be the most compelling for users, but in the interim I just saw these huge functional gaps between what current distributed filesystems provide and what’s needed to deploy them properly in a cloud environment. Frankly that stuff’s kind of boring. It involves a lot of mucking about with mundane GlusterFS implementation details, and a lot of “anyone could write this” kinds of code to interface with libraries or handle management functions, with little in the way of algorithmic excitement except for a few encryption-related bits. It’s also necessary. I firmly believe that this is the stuff people need, right now, before we go off and do the more cutting-edge stuff. Stay tuned, and we’ll get to the good part. I promise.