I just returned from a week in spectacular Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. I will admit that before I travelled to Brazil I had a bit of a mis-conception of the country. Turns out my preconceived perceptions of both the country and city of Rio were almost completely wrong. Instead I found a modern, safe and vibrant city full of culture and excitement. Rio is in one word > Awesome.
What brought me to Brazil was an invitation of Giuseppe Romagnoli at Serpro -- a public IT company created by the government of Brazil which offers technology advice as well as implements internet solutions for the Brazilian Government. Serpro is considered one of the largest IT organizations in the government sector in Latin America. Recently one of Serpro's primary focuses has been in creating Brazil's national cloud computing strategy. As part of this strategy is the Cloud Computing Brazil (CCBrazil) conference in Rio last week which I had the honor of providing the keynote presentation. The conference brought together the key local industry influencers, policy makers and academics from around the country to discuss the opportunities and challenges for cloud computing in the region. Let me tell you, the opportunities are abundant.
During my time in Brazil I discovered that the country is currently under going a major economic renaissance brought about by strong foreign investment thanks in part to huge oil reserves recently found at Tupi, located some 250km offshore of the southern Brazilian coast. In one of my conversations with someone who worked for the Brazilian Oil firm Petrobras, he put the Tupi Oil field into opportunity into context, saying the oil lies some 4.5 miles beneath the ocean's surface. To reach it, Petrobras will have to run lines through 7,000 feet of water and then drill up to 17,000 feet through sand, rock, and a massive 1 mile deep salt layer before they can get to the oil. But he also said that Tupi is probably the world's biggest oil find of the last 30 years. This vast oil find is quickly moving Brazil into the position of being a major economic power player not just in América do Sul, but globally. All this new money is directly effecting how Brazil as a nation will compete on the global stage. The government also seems to realize that to do so -- they need more than just the raw resources oil provides but also the IT infrastructure to enable the country to rise as modern IT / business centric economy similar to places like the USA or Canada. It would seem that Cloud computing may play a critical roll in the revitalization of Brazil and is arguably just as important as the oil in the sense that all the oil in the world is meaningless if the average person doesn't see an increase in the quality of life because of it.
Also the reason I refer to Brazil as going through a renaissance is as I walked to through Rio last week what struck me was the style, it was a snap shot of 1970's architecture -- a kind of porthole into another heyday long since past. Today Rio is yet again an exciting place full of culture, great people and amazing sights. I was also very lucky to have a personal guide for the week in that of Paola Garcia Juarez (A.K.A Cloud Girl). Paola is a recent graduate of the Master program in Computer Science at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) as well as a key cloud evangelist in South America. Paola was one the key organizers for CloudCamp Rio which was held along side CCBrazil. (I should also note that she is currently organizing CloudCamp Lima for November) More importantly, she knew the best places to see and best places to eat (and drink) in Rio.
Needless to say, Rio is Awesome, (oh I said that already). If you're looking for a place to both play and do business than Rio is for you!