Monday, 13 December 2010

Cloud computing 'could boost EU'

Widespread adoption of cloud  computing could give the top five EU economies a 763bn-euro (£645bn; $1tn) boost  over five years, a report has said.

The CEBR said it could also create 2.4m jobs. The technology gives software  and computing power on demand over the net.
But experts warn that cloud computing can be very disruptive to business, and  companies could end up "disillusioned".
"Nothing kills a new technology better than a poor user experience," said  Damian Saunders of Citrix.

Friday, 10 December 2010

It's Called Cloud Computing Not Cheap Computing

The debate between private and public cloud is ridiculous and we shouldn’t even be having it in the first place.

There’s a growing sector of the “cloud” market that is mobilizing to “discredit” private cloud. That ulterior motives exist behind this effort is certain (as followers of the movement would similarly claim regarding those who continue to support the private cloud) and these will certainly vary based on whom may be leading the charge at any given moment.

Reality is, however, that enterprises are going to build “cloud-like” architectural models whether the movement succeeds or not. While folks like Phil Wainewright can patiently point out that public clouds are less expensive and have a better TCO than any so-called private cloud implementation, he and others miss that it isn’t necessarily about raw dollars. It’s about a relationship between costs and benefits and risks, and analysis of the cost-risk-benefit relationship cannot be performed in a generalized, abstract manner. Such business analysis requires careful consideration of, well, the business and its needs – and that can’t be extrapolated and turned into a generalized formula without a lot of fine print, disclaimers, and caveats.

But let’s assume for a moment that no matter what the real cost-benefit analysis of private cloud versus public cloud might be for an organization that public cloud is less expensive.

So what?
If price were the only factor in IT acquisitions then a whole lot of us would be out of a job. Face it, just because a cheaper alternative to “leading brand X” exists does not mean that organizations buy into them (and vice-versa). Organizations have requirements for functionality, support, compliance with government and industry regulations and standards; they have an architecture into which such solutions must fit and integrate, interoperate and collaborate; they have needs that are both operational and business that must be balanced against costs.

Did you buy a Yugo instead of that BMW? No? Why not? The Yugo was certainly cheaper, after all, and that’s what counts, right?

IT organizations are no different. Do they want to lower their costs? Heck yeah. Do they want to do it at the expense of their business and operational requirements? Heck no. IT acquisition is always a balancing act and while there’s certainly an upper bounds for pricing it isn’t necessarily the deciding factor nor is it always a deal breaker.

It’s about the value of the solution for the cost. In some infrastructure that’s about performance and port density. In other it’s about features and flexibility. In still others it’s how well supported it is by other application infrastructure. The value of public cloud right now is in cheap compute and storage resources. For some organizations that’s enough, for others, it’s barely breaking the surface. The value of cloud is in its ability to orchestrate – to automatically manage resources according to business and operational needs. Those needs are unique to each organization and thus the cost-benefit-risk analysis of public versus private cloud must also be unique. Unilaterally declaring either public or private a “better value” is ludicrous unless you’ve factored in all the variables in the equation.
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Thursday, 9 December 2010

Cloud Computing Acquisition: Cisco To Acquire LineSider

"Cloud computing represents a significant opportunity for Cisco customers to create more effective business models and increase the operating efficiency of the network," said Jesper Andersen, senior vice president of Cisco's Network Management Technology Group (NMTG), as Cisco this week announced its intent to acquire privately held LineSider Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of network management software that "helps customers build the network services necessary to securely create and deploy cloud computing infrastructure."
"With the acquisition of LineSider," Anderson continued, "Cisco will gain a key component to helping customers make this shift."
Based in Danvers, MA, LineSider will be bringing to Cisco advanced network management software that integrates both physical and virtual network services with a policy-based approach and makes networks more flexible and responsive to change. This - said Cisco in an announcement - will enhance its ability to rapidly provision network services.

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Google and Its Cloudware Win Largest Federal Site Yet

GSA expects the deal, plucked out from under Microsoft, to cut its costs in half over the next five years

Google has won the General Services Administration (GSA) over to Gmail and Google Apps for Government.
The GSA, which is sorta like the federal government's quartermaster corps, said it's the first federal agency to move e-mail to a cloud-based system agency-wide.
It expects the deal, plucked out from under Microsoft, to cut its costs in half over the next five years and save it $15 million.
It will bring Google another 15,000 seats.
The agency said the widgetry better suits its mobile work force and is "in step with the administration's ‘cloud first' strategy."
The order is worth $6.7 million to Unisys which partnered with Google, Tempus Nova and Acumen Solutions. Unisys will provide the services and implement Google's software. It will tear out IBM's Lotus Notes and Domino software.

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F5 Gets More Cloud-Friendly

F5 is making file virtualization more cloud friendly with the introduction of  software that translates storage protocols, making it possible to store files in  public or private cloud networks using a range of technologies.ARX Cloud Extender software runs on servers that sit between F5's ARX file  virtualization appliances and storage networks that may use different protocols  than are used by the devices the files are being sent from, the company says.

So if CIFS files are being stored in an Iron  Mountain (IRM) Virtual File  Store service cloud, the ARX Cloud Extender will make the protocol translation.  The software can handle any NSF or CIFS implementations as well as Iron Mountain  VFS and NetApp (NTAP) StorageGrid.

The software is expected to be available by the end of the year. F5 isn’t releasing pricing.

F5 is also opening up an application programming interface to its ARX appliance, which will enable customers to get new functionality from the devices. For example, using the API, a script could be written to compile the changes to a file or storage system since an application last scanned it. When
the application scans for an update, the script would feed it just the changes since the last scan rather than having the application scan the whole system itself, a more time-consuming option.

The API will be provided to customers as part of their maintenance contracts for the ARX, the company says.

F5 is announcing a virtual version of its ARX appliance that can be sold to OEMs to be bundled with  other products such as WAN optimization gear or file servers. Also, customers interested in an ARX
could readily download a trial comply of ARX to test before deciding whether to buy, the company says.
The virtual version supports VMware (VMW) virtual environments and will cost less than the ARX appliance, but F5 wouldn’t say how much it costs. It's available in the first quarter of next year, and comes in three models the 500, 2000 and 4000 for varying capacities.
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A Year in the Clouds - How Cloud Computing Exceeded the Hype

We have now reached that time of year when the great and the good partake in the festive tradition of crystal ball gazing, as they predict the IT industry’s future trends for the next twelve months.
Over the next three weeks or so we will be deluged with various top tens, who will move, who will shake, who’ll hit tech heaven with the next iPad and who will reach tech hell with the next Sega Dreamcast.

It was about this time last year that seemingly every list published featured cloud computing as the number one game changer, the one trend that would have the greatest impact on the delivery of IT services. Some went as far as to predict that cloud should be viewed as the single most evolutionary computing development since the web itself was established. Not many argued against the list compilers rankings, but many viewed the prediction with a healthy pinch of cynicism.
It was Winston Churchill who once famously stated that “It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.”

We find ourselves one year on, with all of us having been bestowed with that marvellous gift of hindsight, and are now in a position to judge whether the soothsayers were on the money or whether Churchill’s cautionary note rings true.

So in 2010, did we reach for the cloud? The answer has to be a resounding yes, with the reality matching, and quite possibly exceeding, the hype.

Earlier this week, Angus MacSween, industry veteran and CEO of the UK’s iomart group plc told Dow Jones “I have never seen something happen quite as quickly as this. Six months ago around one-fifth to one-tenth of enquiries from potential customers related to cloud computing; now it is roughly nine out of ten.” He also stated that the attitude of firms’ IT departments has changed. “Whereas once they were reluctant to cede control of new projects, now they look to outsource to the cloud from the word go. We are witnessing a paradigm shift away from traditional on-premise models to the cloud”.
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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Peeling Onions in the Cloud

From a conceptual standpoint, consumability through abstraction is arguably one of the most important benefits of cloud computing. The cloud offers up some collection of raw resources (i.e., servers, networks, storage, and applications) as a set of pre-configured, pre-integrated, and ready to use services. As a result, users typically need to know a good deal less about how those resources are setup, and can instead concentrate on consuming them to deliver their own set of services.

While the benefits offered by abstraction (namely consumability) are most certainly a good thing, abstraction can also be problematic. What do I mean? Well, while users understand the benefits they get from abstraction, sometimes they need to peel back the layers of the onion. In other words, they need to pop the hood and exercise more control over resource configuration within their cloud. While I expect this need is really news to no one, the implications on the cloud service provider, and subsequently cloud service consumer, are quite interesting to examine.

In order to provide a sense of concreteness around this discussion, I want to share the kind of discussions I have with users on a regular basis. A considerable part of my day job involves working with users implementing a cloud management device that allows them to more rapidly and consistently provision application middleware environments into an on-premise cloud. The fundamental premise of this solution is that of a patterns-based approach to middleware in the cloud. In this sense, a pattern is a representation of a particular application environment. Further, to a deployer, a pattern abstracts the inane details of the integration and configuration of the middleware supporting an application, and instead presents a simple, cloud-deployable unit. Therefore, the patterns are an abstraction of middleware resources delivered in the cloud.
While the patterns-based approach offers up a nice abstraction to the deployer, not everyone in an organization plays the role of deployer. Some within the organization are responsible for building the patterns that represent their desired middleware environments. It should come as no shock that these environments require customizations, and these customizations apply to many different layers in the software stack. Let the peeling begin!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Two Weeks, Two Companies, Two Results: The Tale of SalesForce and Cisco

The stock price of Cisco, a darling of the stock market for a long time, fell 16% and contributed to a 73 point drop in the Dow index on November 11, 2010. SalesForce, on the other hand, shot into the upper atmosphere, up by 18%. Interestingly, Cisco market cap fell by $24 billion, more than the total market cap of SalesForce.

While stock swings are not as common, what made these two companies change their market value so rapidly? Investors usually peer into the future and buy or sell stocks based on the projections. Cloud computing is being recognized by investors as an engine of growth and rewarding certain companies like SalesForce.

Cisco, the sixth largest technology company by market value(1), has some products that are challenged by solutions delivered free or virtually free. One example is the consumer facing umi telepresence compared to Skype or Gtalk. Also, the next iPad is rumored to have a camera built in and there is a plethora of smartphones planned or that have with video chat capability. In this example, Cisco is going after a video conferencing market already crowded with cheap solutions. I expect for Cisco to make some good cloud start-up acquisitions to enhance their server product line capabilities in the cloud market.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Google’s Office Trojan Horse

It’s no secret that Google has been eying Microsoft’s lucrative Office application franchise since the release of the premium, supported version of Google Apps a couple years ago.

Taking a page from Apple’s old playbook of using the education market to get a foot in the door, Google has scored some big wins among university and government IT buyers. They claim to have over 10 million students using Google Apps with over 3 million companies making the switch -- undoubtedly most of these are small firms, but a recent win with the State of Wyoming for over 10,000 seats shows Google triumphant in some head-to-head enterprise contests with Microsoft.

Targeting price sensitive individuals and students, who are also less attached to legacy software and used to running their lives online, was a logical opening gambit, but Google is making its next move squarely into the mainstream enterprise market with the beta release this week of their Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office.

The technology, originally acquired from DocVerse, bridges the gap between thick local applications and data, and cloud-based software and storage. Cloud Connect is a plug-in for Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 (sorry, no Mac support yet) that allows editing Office documents within the familiar confines of Word or PowerPoint, while automatically syncing them to Google’s cloud service. An interesting wrinkle is that once in the cloud, the documents inherit Google’s versioning and multi-user editing capabilities, so that several users can simultaneously edit a document, even locally within Office, without stepping on one another’s changes. (The technology is quite amazing -- those of you with a CS bent can read the full details of how they pull this off starting with the challenges, the solution and finally the optimizations).

Of course, Microsoft now has similar capabilities with Office 2010 (and Mac Office 2011) with it’s ability to save to Windows SkyDrive, but Cloud Connect certainly could drive a wedge between Office users who don’t yet have an enterprise collaboration implementation and their Microsoft account rep seeking to sell them on SharePoint of BPOS.

Many could find the hybrid approach coupling Google’s strength in online document sharing and collaboration with the familiar standby of Microsoft’s Office suite the best of both worlds. The risk for Microsoft is that once documents are in Google’s ecosystem, users could find themselves doing more and more of the content creation, editing and sharing online, rendering Office increasingly superfluous.

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Optimizing Performance and Availability in Virtual Infrastructures

Many IT administrators have already learned the hard way that managing the performance and availability of services built on virtualization technologies can be difficult, if not impossible, at times. All too often, early adopters of virtualization have struggled with limited technology features and stability constraints, while learning new ways to effectively manage capacity requirements. Fortunately, some platforms now offer clustering solutions that are mature enough to automate the balancing of workloads across physical resources. When combined with disciplined capacity planning and sound deployment configurations, it is possible to achieve fast, scalable, and highly available IT services using virtualization.

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The Top 5 Overlooked Reasons Why Business Belongs in the Cloud

There are plenty of “Top 5 lists” with generic reasons for why businesses should migrate into SaaS and cloud computing. Scalability, cost, mobility – they’re good reasons, sure, but we’ve heard them before: what else does cloud computing offer? If you’re thinking about moving your business into the cloud but haven’t yet, here are five reasons that are often overlooked:

1. Clients notice. Traditionally, IT has served a “backend” role in business. With the exception of email and websites, most businesses hide their IT solutions from clients, and with good reason: IT is ugly. Cloud computing changes that. Many SaaS offerings and cloud-based applications incorporate new ways of reaching clients as part of their workflow solutions. For example, Solve360, a popular online CRM, allows users to “publish” select materials from project workspaces, enabling real-time client collaboration. E-signature services allow clients to sign documents via a slick, paperless delivery model, and Helpdesk software lets clients access knowledge base forums and ticketed support in a branded, easy to use online environment. When it works, clients notice that you’re new, different, modern, and “slick.” IT itself becomes a branding exercise.

2. Smarter architecture. Amid all the fuss about cloud differentiation it’s easy to forget that, aside from being cloud-based, many cloud apps are simply designed better than their on-premise counterparts. This could be attributable to a whole host of reasons, the most prominent of which is that (good) cloud apps have been designed entirely from the ground up. Whereas most on-premise solutions have strong ancestral roots in software designed 10-20 years ago, cloud apps have been developed much more recently, meaning they’ve benefited from years of accumulated programming and business experience. Cloud apps are designed for modern businesses: most on-premise apps simply aren’t.

3. Usability. One of the great innovations of cloud-computing has been the focus put on end-users. Many legacy apps put function first and usability second (MS Access, anyone?), whereas good cloud apps don’t see a difference between the two. This key principle can’t be underestimated: software is only as powerful as the people using it. Generally speaking (and yes, there are exceptions to this) cloud-based software understands that people matter, creating a better user experience and increasing efficiency.

4. Integration. We just published a blog post blasting API integration, but it’s worth noting that at least cloud-based software makes API integration a viable and affordable workflow solution. Good luck getting anything to work well with a legacy app, especially on the cheap: compare that reality with the generous and freely available API’s that most SaaS and cloud-based vendors offer and it’s an easy sell.

5. Quality of Service. This only applies to SaaS, but it’s a powerful enough attribute that I’m listing it as an argument for all cloud-computing. In a traditional IT setting, clients have a one-time transaction with vendors, repeated every few years for product upgrades. In the world of SaaS, clients generally pay vendors month-to-month and upgrades and bug-fixes are released on a significantly ramped-up timescale. This means that: A) clients can drop out at any time, giving vendors a perpetual incentive to innovate, and: B) clients get a product that’s updated far, far more frequently than before. In addition, SaaS vendors increasingly have robust forums and user communities where support questions and feature requests are addressed quickly, effectively, and by multiple user types. This establishes a culture of support and user-driven innovation that has long been missing from on-premise software.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Fed up of wonky Wi-fi? Then join our Facebook Group now!

Yesterday we kicked off our campaign Say No to Wi-fi NotSpots, where with your help, we're waging war against failing Wi-fi hotspots. Have you had it up to your eyeballs with wonky Wi-fi when you're on the go? If the answer's yes, then join our Facebook Group, and show Wi-fi providers that you want something better.

We want your Wi-fi NotSpot horror stories too. We've already heard tales of nurses bombarded by patients desperate to get a Facebook fix, and the woeful state of Wi-fi some of our readers find in fast food and hotel chains.
If you're sat somewhere still waiting for this page to load because of a tardy connection, then give us a shout on the Facebook Group or tweet us @electricpig, dropping in your location and the provider with the hashtag #notspot.
Join the digital march, give us your gripes, and help us put pressure on the providers to give us a better service!

Microsoft Reveals Its Cloud Business Strategy

Cloud Computing Journal
A few days ago, Microsoft published The Economics of the Cloud, a whitepaper that has so far not gotten nearly as much attention or consideration as it deserves. Perhaps this indifference is due to a collective freshman flashback on the dreaded "Econ 101" or, to skepticism about Microsoft's importance in the new world of cloud computing. Either way, it is unfortunate because the paper presents some startling new data about the cloud, and, not entirely intentionally, reveals the company's cloud strategy at a level of nuance that we have not seen before.
read more

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Feature: Windows Phone 7: The 10 features Microsoft should add ASAP

Ars Technica

I've been using Windows Phone 7 full-time for about a month now, and I like it a great deal. It's a very livable operating system that's been thoughtfully designed and well put-together. So much so that it's almost a surprise that it came from Microsoft.
But perfect it ain't, and there's a lot Microsoft could do to make using Windows Phone 7 even better.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Increase Enterprise iPad Utilization by 20%

Although I don’t have any data or studies to prove this, I have a hunch that iPad utilization in enterprises could be enhanced by at least 10% and perhaps as much as 20% by extending its physical accessibility.
You’re probably aware that iPad (without a case) is a slippery device. And while you can get far better grip on it when used with a case, it’s still not ideal in certain work environments. In fact, some cases in certain realms actually create counter-productive outcomes. Desktop stands and docking solutions provide some degree of improved utilization, but only for office workers. Unfortunately a significant crop of information workers don’t work at desks and many who work with information, also use their hands.
Increasing Accessibility
image iPad use, and the benefits that go along with this new device in context with the emerging app-centric enterprise, can flourish in organizations if you add one additional level of agility –
the ability to stick the iPad to a solid surface.
A little company in Melbourne, Australia has had similar thoughts and has created a system for sticking up iPads where they can become more accessible and utilized more effectively. It’s line of Wallee products include snap-on cases (hard shell plastic and very protective) and attachment accessories designed for a wide variety of environments.
Wallee is based on a simple design – a standardized wall “button” that really isn’t required for walls at all. This little fastening button can be mounted on just about anything you can imagine; their customer photos clearly show some creativity with this mounting device and the new ideas emerging in the Wallee lab are impressive.
Wallee is simple, smart, and blends well with almost every environment. That’s the key – finding ideas and ways where the synergy of a particular environment exposes the power of the magical iPad. This is more about techno-chemistry and less about the individual parts – Wallee and iPad.
image As I’ve written in the past (see “iPad in Business: It’s All About Utility”), iPad is well-versed in creating unique experiences. Wallee is equally well designed to allow those experiences to take happen in places that are environmentally challenged.
For example… every health club and corporate health facility should have a few Wallee’s available for members. Setting aside the benefit of using some of the clever iPad exercise tracking systems, there are other business benefits that aren’t so obvious such as employees staying on top of important activities easily, or the decreased likelihood that an iPad will be damaged in a workout center.
Imagine these scenarios just in the hospitality industry. Don’t get me started on health care.
  • Host/hostess workstation; limited workspace, constantly mobile.
  • Housekeepers; constantly mobile, iPad affixed to the cleaning cart; used to track quality, tasks, checklists.
  • Events and conferences staff; hang on wall between shifts; seamless flow of knowledge throughout the day.
  • Resort hotel security; mount in vehicles, golf carts.
  • Head chef; always in the kitchen; rarely at a desk, but in need of information about food supplies, schedules, reservations.
  • Business center or concierge; mounted on counter for guests.
Businesses need to think outside the box to envision how to embrace iPad in specific physical environments.
Anywhere you see clipboards hanging on a wall – that’s a clue where Wallee-affixed iPads should be hanging instead of this centuries-old device.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 8: iPad dock revealed!

The Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 8. Do iPad docks come much more bonkers than this? We doubt it. B&O have hatched a dock specifically targeting Apple’s tablet, but also catering for iPhone and iPod, and it looks like it’s left over from the set of 2001. Read on for more photos and the full details.

The selling point for the BeoSound 8 is that it can take the iPad, along with the iPhone, iPods and everything else. There’s the docking plug for Apple devices, but there’s also a line in, and USB input.

The white speaker discs are conical behind, and you can slot a bunch of different colours onto these white cones. The two plate-like speaker fronts are actually floating, mounted on an aluminium bridge, so the base of the disc doesn’t actually touch the surface the BeoSound 8 is placed on.

The central control is the glowing aluminium disc, and there’s also a remote that mirrors the design of the BeoSound 8 control. If you’re a Bang & Olufsen addict, there’s some good news for you here too – the BeoSound 8 is compatible with all other Bang & Olufsen remote controls, the Bang & Olufsen alarm clock, and best of all for moneybags music fans, if you’ve got a Bang & Olufsen phone you can turn the volume down on the BeoSound 8 via your mobile.
The speakers are active two way speakers, which means that in the BeoSound 8 there’s a four drive units and four amplifiers. It’s delivered with a wall bracket, and there’s a positioning control which means you can tell the system where in the room you’ve put the BeoSound 8 and it will adjust its acoustics to suit the place best. Now, are you ready for the BeoSound 8 price tag? Deep breaths please….. £895.

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Ingram Micro Cloud – Ingram Micro Takes Cloud Computing Strategy Online

Distributor furthers its cloud strategy with new Ingram Micro Cloud partner enablement platform, Cloud Services Network and online Cloud Marketplace

SANTA ANA, Calif., Nov. 8, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — Expanding its leadership and visibility as a master aggregator of IT services, Ingram Micro Inc. (NYSE:IM) is pleased to announce the Ingram Micro Cloud.
Referred to as the epicenter of the distributor’s successful and growing IT services strategy, the new partner enablement platform, which includes the new partner website, as well as the Ingram Micro Cloud Services Network and online Cloud Marketplace, is being introduced to accelerate adoption of cloud computing within the IT channel.
“Ingram Micro Cloud is a growth catalyst for the IT industry and will help alleviate the fear and uncertainty many channel partners have around cloud computing,” says Renee Bergeron, vice president, managed services and cloud computing, Ingram Micro North America. “Focused on education, training and sales enablement, Ingram Micro Cloud simplifies cloud computing from all angles and gives channel partners both a technical advantage and a sizable business advantage when it comes to delivering cloud services.”
Available to channel partners in the U.S. and Canada, Ingram Micro Cloud is the go-to business and education resource for solutions providers and managed service providers (MSPs) looking to establish and grow their cloud computing services, says Bergeron. “The resources, services and support offered as part of Ingram Micro Cloud were selected based on the feedback of our channel partners,” she explains.
New Resources, Online Marketplace and Services Network Work Together to Simplify Cloud Services
Ingram Micro Cloud provides several business, sales, marketing and technical resources, including a single-source, onlineCloud Marketplace. The Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace features detailed information on a growing number of cloud computing solutions and services from Ingram Micro hardware and software vendors, Ingram Micro Seismic vendors, new cloud computing vendors on Ingram Micro’s line card, as well as Ingram Micro cloud computing affiliate vendors and strategic alliances.
“The new online Cloud Marketplace offers channel partners a quick and easy way to access and learn more about the technologies, services, resources and what collateral is readily available to them all in one place,” says Jason Beal, director of sales, services, Ingram Micro North America. “Taking it one step further, the Ingram Micro Cloud is also home to our new Cloud Services Network which enables our channel partners to collaborate with one another in a non-competitive environment to offer the cloud services and support they need both regionally and throughout North America.”
Offered as an extension of the Ingram Micro Services Network (IMSN), the new Cloud Services Network is an aggregation of best-of-breed cloud computing professional service providers whose delivery capabilities and technical expertise include private and public cloud consulting; cloud computing assessments; design and deployment of cloud solutions; and integration, configuration, implementation and customization services.  The Cloud Services Network uses the efficient and safe partnering ecosystem and infrastructure of the IMSN to enable channel partners to work together to meet the needs of their customers throughout North America.
The Ingram Micro Cloud also features an impressive rolodex of educational whitepapers, case studies and training modules for channel partners to reference and download, as well as a comprehensive Business Development curriculum including Cloud Essentials which provides step-by-step, role-based training for effectively marketing, selling and supporting cloud services.
“The new Ingram Micro Cloud is a time-saving platform and business resource that will certainly make it easier and more cost-effective for us to navigate these new waters and extend our expertise and service capabilities into the cloud,” says Greg Onoprijenko, president and managing director of sales for successful Canadian MSP e-ternity.

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Thursday, 18 November 2010

2011 Cloud Computing Predictions

In 2010, we have seen a transformation of skeptics from their belief that cloud computing is suited mainly for small to mid-sized business, to a general acceptance that “the cloud” is everywhere. However, we have also seen a lot of inconsistency in how to differentiate cloud-based computing from on-premise computing. As a result, there has been confusion created in the market as software vendors like Microsoft promote their cloud offerings, and CIOs of large companies claim that their private cloud has been in place for years.
As I take a macro look at the industry today, it is clear that 2011 will continue a trend toward the convergence of the consumer and the enterprise web. Historically, the enterprise web has lagged the functionality and scalability of the consumer web because of several factors — the most significant of which are application complexity and the need for robust data security.  Today, the capabilities of the public cloud make the support of enterprise applications routine, and we see evidence of it being implemented every day.  With that said, there are changes in the ecosystem that will impact the speed to adoption among large enterprises.
What’s to Come for the Cloud
Large consultancies (e.g. Accenture, Deloitte) will continue to push private cloud and have minimal success with the public cloud
There is an almost religious debate brewing among cloud purists that recognize the difference between service-oriented architecture (SOA) and a true software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution.
Large organizations have been much more accepting of SOA-based solutions that reside entirely within their own firewall. This type of service has been branded as the private cloud and has gained a lot of traction among the Fortune 500.
Why are many in the Fortune 500 slow to adopt the public cloud? The answer has to do with risk tolerance. CIOs have taken notice of the cloud computing (e.g. SaaS, PaaS, IaaS) benefits, however, they have accountability for their actions and as much as they want to demonstrate that they have a cloud strategy, they are still concerned about allowing their data to reside outside of their firewall and relying on a service that is “out of their control.” The notion of the private cloud has been a nice entry point that allows them to answer to their boards, but they are still not realizing the real benefits of the public cloud. By definition, cloud-based systems are public; if you have a cloud in your own data center, check your servers because something is burning!
The big services organizations that serve the Fortune 500 will continue to push the private cloud because it serves the interests of their customers, but beyond 2011 we will see a shift as the market continues to evolve.
User demand for access to cloud-based content and applications whether on a PC, laptop, tablet or smart phone will grow
The ability to access applications through a browser is powerful in terms of maintenance and deployment. However, a side effect is that there is parity among these hardware devices as long as they support a browser that can run the applications. And in the end, the employee benefits by being able to choose the device that optimizes their experience.
The interesting note about this prediction is that hardware manufacturers will drive much of the change. The iPad, iPhone and Android devices have exploded in the market and are quickly capturing the attention of the business community. In my own experience, I have seen several companies buy pallets of these devices, and only then start asking questions about how they can re-architect their enterprise solutions in the cloud to optimize their use. It is truly a case where the intuition of IT groups and business decision makers tells them that these new devices are game-changing, and they are willing to figure out how they will benefit after they have made the purchase!
Adobe AIR will gain recognition as a leading cross platform mobile technology
We’ve seen the acceptance of AIR across many standard devices, and that continues today as Adobe has tipped their hand about additional OS support for Android and BlackBerry. The momentum around cloud services is not all about shared infrastructure, but also the ability for these systems to support a rich, flexible user experience that surpasses that of Windows-based solutions.
More recently, Adobe has stressed the importance of adoption on non-traditional devices such as televisions, smart phones and set top boxes. Adobe AIR (version 2.5) brings this cross-platform vision into your home. Now the only remaining battleground is the border war between Apple and Adobe. In 2011, the momentum of Adobe will require that we finally see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel when it comes to the long-running conflicts between these two organizations…somehow.

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How To Get High Performance Cloud Storage

One of the challenges with cloud storage is the connection between you and the storage. For almost everyone it is going to be slower than what is available within the data center. This performance difference does not mean a more limited use of cloud storage, it means that greater intelligence is needed to load data into the cloud. With that intelligence cloud storage could be leveraged for even the most demanding of applications.

In almost all use cases, but especially cloud storage as part of a primary storage solution, it is going to require some sort of local presence to cache the active data sets. This local presence can come in the form of a stand alone appliance, a virtual appliance or can be integrated into the storage system itself. The goal of the local presence is to store the active data subset on local high speed storage and then as the data ages push it out to the cloud storage service but do so transparently.

This hybrid type of deployment does mean that the data set does have to be something that can be segregated by access dates. It also means that the ideal data set is one where it has a short create and edit cycle, then is rarely accessed in the future. A file server is an obvious example but messaging and group collaboration tools are as well.
No matter what the local data set is you are always going to need to copy data to the cloud. Most of these hybrid type of solutions will want to copy all new or modified data the moment that the change occurs, this provides a level of redundancy from a data protection perspective but means that the WAN bandwidth utilization is upfront as well. Most of these hybrid type of devices can trickle data to your cloud provider so bandwidth can be throttled back. More importantly most of them have some form of WAN optimization either compression or deduplication that reduces the data set before it is sent and after it lands. For example in the solution we are currently testing, while we have placed 77GB's of data in the cache device only 27GB's of that data has been actually transferred and stored thanks to compression and deduplication.

Even with this intelligent use of the available bandwidth there are some practical steps you will want to take. First you need to have a decent connection to the internet. When we began our testing we immediately found our connectivity to be a little lacking. We doubled our bandwidth for about 15% extra per month and it made the application significantly more usable.
Second you also want to select a data set that can be gradually migrated to the cloud, net new projects are ideal or data that can be easily isolated by age, migrating the oldest data sets one at a time. In our case if we used it for hosting our various projects and simply decided that all new projects would go on the cloud storage appliance. As a result we have seen almost no impact from having all of our data be on the cloud storage device and we have seen a performance improvement in local response time since our appliance is on high speed storage,
With these considerations in mind cloud storage can be a viable option for many applications and data sets. As the hybrid technology continues to improve and the cost of bandwidth continues to come down even more applications and data sets will be deemed cloud appropriate, but the time to develop a cloud storage strategy is now. We will be answering questions like this in more detail in tomorrow's live webinar "What's Your Cloud Strategy, Answering The Top Ten Questions".

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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

How Companies Can Reap the Benefits of Cloud Computing?

Organizations are going through unprecedented level of changes to meet their changing customer behaviours

Organizations are going through unprecedented level of changes to meet their changing customer behaviours and advancements in the IT such as Service Orientation and Cloud-based services.  In this status quo, Organisations are facing with challenges ranging from changing their workforce to adapt to the needs of the new IT initiatives to building a sustainable platform for future growth.  While this is not imperative at first, every enterprise architect will be facing some form or shape of these challenges in the organisation. Although there is an argument that outsource service providers or system integrators may have a little value in provisioning cloud based offering, these new initiatives present unique set of challenges to the organisation.
Danger of missing requirements:
First and foremost, the weakness to assume the solution to a problem too quickly, without sufficiently analysing the problem space. For example, it is easy for an organisation to engage in a strategic service offering from a cloud service provider for a CRM initiative either for cost reduction or for increasing operational excellence.  While majority (60% approximate) of the requirements could be offered by the cloud service provider, the rest of the requirements (40%) become very difficult to meet.  And most often, this could be to do with the way the organisation is doing its business, its differentiation in the market place or could be attributed to its own ineffciencies.    As an end result the organisation may have deployed a cloud based offering but still failed to address the rest of the requirements which will lead to building solutions that create IT silos leading to lack of operational efficiency in handling customer needs.
While the initial journey to use the cloud service may seem lucrative, these challenges are hidden or not thought through in its fullest depth leading to fragmentation in organisation's information processing ability.
Traditional Contracts
Adding to the complexity, the legacy IT systems are outsourced to the System Integrators or Outsourced service providers based on their execution competency.  For example, the number of operational reports, governance methodologies, monitoring, SLAs and their ability to convince the organisation that they can deliver the job.  Surely the organisation spent lot of time in structuring these contracts not based on what service the service provider can offer but based on how they could be a potential fit by understanding their business problems.  Note that the focus here is not "standard service offering" instead it is to do with validating whether the outsource provider or SI has understood my unique problem or business?  A shift from this perspective to a "standardised" cloud based offering involves a significant business change.  It is important that the organisation has an appetite to understand these challenges and find a way of driving this through.  In other words, while ensuring that the traditional execution knowledge is not lost and equally sailing the organisation to the new cloud based offering.
A way out
An approach to address this shift is to empower the business to define the requirements not at the functional or micro level but at the capability level.  In particular what outcome does the business is after by deploying a specific capability.  Then give additional considerations to constraints and analyse the impact of delivering that capability within the organisation.
The next step is to get the Enterprise Architecture team to assess the potential cloud services that can be leveraged.  However, there is significant value in ensuring that your SI or outsource vendor is engaged in providing a point of view in getting the business value of the initiative.  While the cloud computing vendor can sell you to SLAs, services and how quick and easy to deploy the services,  your system integrator or Service provider will augment your rationale by providing organisational constraints and challenges making the transition easier.

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What Dell's Purchase of Cloud Company Signals

A little-noted announcement earlier this month could have huge implications for cloud take-up in smaller businesses. Dell has snapped up Boomi, a company that describes itself as a "cloud integrator."

What this means is that Boomi produces software such as AtomSphere that make it devastatingly easy to mix together resources of the cloud and your own existing physical hardware and software. With Boomi it's as simple as drag-and-drop to get everything working smoothly.
It's all part of Dell's (DELLgrand plan to move into the cloud, but two profound realizations come out of the acquisition announcement.
First, Dell could soon be selling you the utility of computing, but not necessarily the physical computer. Next, when companies like Dell begin to offer cloud services, the cloud is probably coming to businesses of all sizes, whether they like it or not. You'd better get ready.
It seems as if Dell plans to bring the cloud down to earth and make it less exotic, with particular relevance to businesses that shy away from innovative approaches to IT.
Here's how it could work: Dell will sell or rent you a complete server package. You'll get physical hardware on your premises for immediate needs and, should you find yourself needing additional capacity in the future, you'll be able to seamlessly plug-into Dell's cloud and get all the computing power or storage that you need. Billing will be done via your existing service contract with Dell.
There'll be no need to research or sign-up to third-party cloud services, and--more importantly--no need for hackish third-party integration software to make everything work nicely together.
This being Dell, no doubt everything will be priced competitively, and there will be fleets of salespersons demonstrating how easy and useful the cloud can be for every size of business. Indeed, Dell should be praised for being brave enough to make a move away from simple box-shifting.
Purely from the point of view of those who understand what cloud computing is all about, Dell's recent cloud announcements are quite simply great news.
Of course, I could be wrong. Cynics might suggest that the inverse is true: Dell bought Boomi to either stop it from falling into the hands of others, or to simply make a show of being savvy about the cloud.
However, Dell makes a lot of money from selling the hardware needed by businesses, and has done for a very long time. Why would it want to throw all that away by trying to get a piece of the already competitive but burgeoning cloud marketplace?

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