On March 28, PACT hopes to clear the air with Phorum 2012, a national cloud conference at the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.
The conference title, “Transforming Your Business with the Cloud,” is apt. Unlike events that focus on the actual technology surrounding cloud computing, Phorum will explore how it can help companies achieve business goals.
“This is not a conference just for the CIO or CTO, although they are certainly welcome,” says Dean Miller, President and CEO of PACT, which is presenting the event in partnership with Dell Inc. and Fairmount Partners. “Phorum is for the executive who wants to run a business more efficiently.”
Allen Born, who runs the Internet and cloud computing investment-banking practice at Fairmount Partners, would agree. “There are lots of cloud conferences that focus on cloud as a technology,” he says. “Our goal was to create a conference with the enterprise-level decision-maker in mind and focus on cloud as a strategy.”
The topic, the target audience and the speakers make Phorum a destination event for attendees across the country. “We will have the great minds in the industry talking about business applications,” Miller says. “That is worth someone getting on a plane and coming to Philadelphia.”
Breaking the mold
As opposed to the old application service provider model, in which a third party hosts and maintains software for the client on its servers, cloud technology is scalable and highly virtual.
“The technology has clearly advanced in the last five years,” says Moul, the new CEO of appRenaissance, which sells mobile applications and mobile infrastructure tools.
Cloud computing hit the public spotlight in a big way last year with the advent of iCloud, an Apple product that automatically syncs information - calendars, contacts and to-do lists - across devices. However, many casual users have already been using cloud computing via Google Docs, which lets you create spreadsheets and documents you can access from anywhere with a free Google account and share them with others.
Brian Hughes, a Partner at KPMG, says there is no question that cloud computing is at the forefront of many business leaders’ minds. Yet many need guidance. How can they best improve processes with cloud technology? How do they gain a market advantage?
Organizers hope Phorum attendees will walk away with some answers. “We want to help executives understand these technologies and learn how they can accomplish their business goals or change the way they go to market,” says Moul, leader of Phorum’s steering committee.
The event is focused on information; there is no exhibit space. Don’t expect a stuffy hotel ballroom event with PowerPoint presentations. The event is being held at the World Cafe Live, an upscale venue with flexible seating and a three-tiered performance space. “It’s very engaging — a different sort of venue,” Moul says.
Learn from the leaders
The speaker lineup is equally cutting edge. The day starts with a cloud primer given by John Treadway, North American Practice Director for Cloud and Data Center Transformation at Unisys. Treadway is responsible for leading the Unisys services business for private and public cloud adoption, as well as leading strategic services to transform customers’ data center investments.
Keynote speaker Nick Carr, author of The Big Switch and the Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, will discuss changing technology trends and their impact on the enterprise. His book ITAL Does IT Matter UNITAL was listed one of the top 15 groundbreaking management books by CIO Insight. Carr is the former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review and a Pulitzer Prize nominee. He’s appeared on CNBC and CNN.
Peter Coffee - Vice President and Head of Platform Research at salesforce.com, a leader of cloud-based applications - will talk about how cloud computing can provide business value. As the author of Auditing Cloud Computering: A Security and Privacy Guide, his presentation should be particularly interesting to those concerned about security issues. Coffee spent nearly 20 years as a senior contributor to PC Tech Journal, PC Week and eWEEK.
James Staten, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, will focus on the state of the cloud computing industry. Staten, who’s been named the top cloud computing analyst by Web Hosting Industry Review and Apollo Research, provides insight to infrastructure and operations professionals. He has nearly 20 years of experience in the industry. He’s been a reseller, vendor strategist, CMO, journalist and analyst.
The full day will also include four panel discussions and a cocktail reception.
The conference’s goal is to help companies understand cloud strategy’s benefits, Hughes says. Moul would agree. However, he hopes that while contemplating the technology, they will also review processes. “In the early days of computers, we used to say if you automate processes without rethinking them, you’re just paving cow paths,” he says. The same is true with cloud computing.
All the organizers say Phorum 2012 will boost attention to Philadelphia as a forward-thinking city focused on technology. “We want Philadelphia to be recognized as a center for new technologies, and cloud technologies in particular,” Miller says. “Our mission is to grow the entrepreneurial technology sector. In Philadelphia, when the IT entrepreneur wins, the Philadelphia enterprise wins.”
Phorum 2012 Agenda March 28
7:30 to 8:15 a.m.
8:30 to 9:30 pm.
9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
10:45 to 11:45 a.m.
11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
1:45 to 2:30 p.m.
2:45 to 3:30 p.m.
3:45 to 4:30 p.m.
4:45 to 5:30 p.m.
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
If you go:
Phorum 2012: Transforming Your Business with the Cloud When: March 28, 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Where: World Cafe Live Fee: A full-conference ticket is $250 and a networking-only ticket is $75. More information: www.phorumphilly.com; @phorumphilly on Twitter, #phorum
Sponsors include Anexinet, BMC Software, CA Technologies, Cisco, ColdLight Solutions, Comcast Business Services, Dell, EvolveIP, Fairmount Partners, Fiberlink Communications, KPMG, Hollister Creative, ICG, LiquidHub, Quatro, Polycom, Slice Communications, SmartCEO, SunGard Availability Services, Unisys, USeed and Xtium.