Easi-Clouds ITEA review – and on importance of demos

(The important message “demo or die” is at the end)

Easi-Cloud is an international collaboration project with partners from Finland, France, Germany, South Korea and Egypt. The project worked on new issues of cloud computing. Especially brokering (ways to find the best fitting provider for the case and time) and federation (ways to delegate to other providers in case of lacking resources) were key research topics. TUT team worked mainly on development aspects, i.e., how cloud affects developer experience. In practice, we made CoRED/MIDEaaS cloud-aware and developed a demonstrator that shows how applications can be automatically deployed to cloud platforms, and how brokering could be included in the developer experience. We also made a demonstrator how the cloud management, i.e., operation of the PaaS and SaaS, can be added to the tool. This means that we worked on tool support for DevOps-type operation mode.

Impressing building of Charité campus

Impressing building of Charité campus

The review was held in Charité hospital campus in Berlin, since Charité was one partner and represented the users in the consortium. The reviewers of the project were the president of ITEA3, Rudolf Haggenmüller, two members of the ITEA steering group, and a representative of the German funding organization. Before the review the project team spent 1.5 days for careful planning, rehearsal and fine-tuning of the presentations. Thanks to careful planning, the actual review session was a big success.

President of ITEA3, Rudolf Haggenmüller giving his final remarks,

President of ITEA3, Rudolf Haggenmüller giving his final remarks,

One learning from the review is importance of good demos, and I think our department has a lot to learn about that. In the review German partners showed a case of a very computationally intensive application analyzing MRI images of human brains. In the demo they first had a motivational presentation from users (a medical doctor) showing the application, then they showed how the user can use brokering to negotiate required computational resources, timing constraints and pricing. Then the demo showed the relevance and working of the technologies that the project has developed. We also showed our demo with the following key messages: how cloud brokering can show to developers and how two DevOps principles (automatic deployment and unified tooling) could materialize in a concrete tool set. During the months after summer holidays our local Easi-Clouds team has been struggling with two issues: 1) how to integrate our code with big and complex cloud system, and 2) how to make a demo to tell a story. The latter part was more important and more difficult.

Overall, I feel that we pay too little attention on how we demonstrate our research and results. The challenge is to decide what the key message is and to think how the audience sees the demo. The cool technical details we may be proud of are often completely irrelevant. Especially, if we want to convince our industrial partners, good demoing skills are important. The slogan “demo or die” comes from start-up world, but often applies to research, too. Research includes a lot of marketing and a demo is a good way to market research results. As said in one keynote of COMPSAC 2014, research papers are among the least credible sources of information to commercial companies.

Finally, there will be a demo session in XP2015 conference, stay tuned!

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