Friday, 22 October 2010

Telcos Charge After Cloud Computing

Telcos clearly play a major role in Cloud Computing. This role also puts to the lie any attempt to describe different types of Cloud as "public," "private," "enterprise," or "consumer."
Take smartphones, for example, which are now used by more than 100 million global users who get their calls and email, and access their cool apps, from satellites far above the clouds that transmit terabytes of information daily from increasing numbers of Cloud-based servers on the ground. The smartphone revolution is a clear example of a "public," "consumer" cloud.
Or is it? Doesn't business email comprise most of those messages? And don't those messages come from highly secured server environments, whether abstracted and virtualized or not? Surely all those smartphones are not sold to folks simply so they can get their onanistic jollies from games and restaurant guides, while receiving their personal Yahoo mail or gmail in the process. Right?
Among these terms, I'm not sure anymore what "private" means, anyway. Does it mean on-site? Does it mean corporate intranet? An enterprise supply chain? Sole ownership of specific third-party Cloud infrastructure, which actually wouldn't be Cloud at all?

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Thursday, 21 October 2010

Cloud Computing Vision Necessary to Succeed in the Cloud

As cloud computing adoption increases, many enterprises are not developing a full vision for their cloud computing efforts. Most of the projects being deployed in the cloud are more for testing and proof of concept than actual production, but there are projects that show such success in the cloud that they are left there permanently. I am not one to discourage enterprises from 'testing the waters' of the cloud in whatever fashion they deem proper, but I do highly recommend that an overall 'cloud computing vision' be developed when the cloud is to be officially adopted as a production resource.
As noted in a recent InfoWorld blog on the topic, this type of unstructured or experimental method of cloud adoption will probably continue for the near future. This scenario mainly applies to the public cloud, but it will soon migrate over to the private and hybrid cloud infrastructures. In limited quantities, this is a manageable scenario. When the speed and frequency of cloud migration projects begin to rise, this creates a familiar and unpleasant situation.
When server virtualization first began to take hold in the data centers of the world, the technology promised so much that IT completely ignored a key facet of any large scale deployment - management. It was so easy to build and deploy virtual machines that most organizations failed to put constraints and processes for virtual server deployments. This created the issue that many organizations are now facing - VM sprawl. Many vendors have risen to combat the growing problem of server sprawl, but this illustrates what is set to happen in the cloud computing world.

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Enough! Stephen Fry is not a tech prophet

Stephen Fry is like everyone’s favourite uncle. A national treasure ™. The uber-gadget fan. But there’s one thing he’s not: a tech prophet. As he bounded onstage yesterday at London’s Windows Phone 7 event, I couldn’t help thinking: oh not again. I know he just can’t resist the lure of the shiny new kit, it’s an understandable feeling – everyone here at Electricpig HQ has experienced it. But Stephen Fry is turning into a PR tool in every sense of the word, rolled out by firms to deploy quips and that’s just a crying shame…

You can’t dispute Stephen Fry’s credentials as a gadget fanatic. He regularly rocks multiple phones, he (along with Douglas Adams) was among the first people in Britain to buy a Mac. He has been a fanboy since before the term meant anything. His tech columns for The Guardian showed a depth of knowledge and a geeky passion that would make many a tech journalist blush. But it makes us sad to see him out there used as a stamp of approval for Windows Phone 7.

Windows Phone 7 does look good. Our final judgements will be reserved for our forthcoming reviews (let us know what you want from the HTC HD7 review by the way). But cuddling Stephen Fry to itself and using his profile to sell its new OS is a smart PR trick from Microsoft and one that he shouldn’t fall for. It’s mortgaging his profile to a conglomerate that hasn’t earned it. Do an ad voiceover for cash, sure. But turn up for free to burble platitudes which will help sell handsets? There’s really no need.

When Stephen Fry says things like “I have felt enormous pleasure using this phone,” and “Microsoft [are] doing something they can be proud of”, he’s not making a considered review. Stood on that stage, he’s firing out the unfettered enthusiasm of a gadget fan given special treatment, VIP access to brand new tech. It’s a risk that all tech journalists face: the companies are so nice to you, so want to please you, it’s a struggle to remain objective, to see what most users will experience.

Stephen Fry should obviously be allowed to write about Apple. He’s a great writer, a man of phenomenal intellect, and that usually makes for a great read. But to put his name on a review byline as Time did with his iPad review is deceptive. Stephen Fry is great friends with Jonathan Ive, the man who designed the iPad, he is given special access to Steve Jobs at keynotes. When it comes to Apple, he cannot be a journalist, he’s an acolyte.

When a product was designed by one of your friends, when you have bought every product that Apple has ever released in the UK, you are understandably incapable of being impartial. If one of my mates created a product, would I be able to see the flaws or even ask the right questions? I can’t be sure that I would.

Stephen Fry has an opportunity to do something special. He’s a trusted voice for people who don’t trust technology. Popping up at numerous events evangelising for products (whether paid or not) undermines that. Stephen, I’m not here to hate but seeing you as unpaid pitchman for Microsoft just disappoints me. The same goes for shilling for Steve Jobs or hopping into bed with HP. We share your love of tech but don’t let the tech firms fool you: they’re tapping into your brand to buoy up their own stock. You don’t need to help them with that.

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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Cloud Computing: Let's Hope Gartner Doesn't Eff it Up

It's being reported this week that Cloud Computing has reached the height of expectations on the so-called Gartner hype chart. This means it will soon fall into the trough of disillusionment.
To this I say: What an irresponsible statement! I've written before about hype and its pernicious use, but this is an example of hyping the hype about the anti-hype. This hype cycle chart has got to go. If taken seriously, it will cause grave damage to some wonderful things that are now going on the field of information technology.
It's time for the Reign of Terror to end. Time for technology marketers to stop trembling in fear of the big, bad wolf. Time to stop admiring the naked Emperor and his new clothes. It's time to stop paying attention to the hype cycle or anything else from Gartner.
Nobody Else Got the Joke
As I noted before, I thought the Hype Cycle was a damned good joke when I first encountered it. It was apparently so deeply cynical and ironic, it seemed to be the creation of Mel Brooks (or, for you younger folks, of Stephen Colbert).
But I quickly realized that laughing out loud at this creation in front of my corporate colleagues was about as smart as telling Tommy DeVito in GoodFellas that he was funny. This very unscientific, very funny "hype chart" was to be treated--as all things from Gartner are to be treated--with reverence.
Failing Upwards?
I first had my suspicions about Gartner some 20 years ago, when Manny Fernandez was appointed CEO. Prior to that, he was the CEO of Gavilan, the poster child of unfulfilled promises at the dawn of the portable computing age. In an era when Toshiba, Zenith, and others (remember the Data General One) were pushing, pushing, pushing to create the modern laptop, Gavilan stood as a singular example of a company that promised everything but delivered nothing.
Just saying the word "Gavilan" at after-work parties in the industry in those days could earn the type of guffaws that saying "online privacy" or "Jodie Fisher" would receive at your get-together today. Yet Mr. Fernandez had obvious managerial skills, and Gartner grew exponentially during his 10+ years of tenure.
Gartner filled a role that was not being filled by the pioneering IT industry market-research firms such as IDC and Dataquest. Whereas these latter two companies tracked buying patterns and made predictions of future market growth, Gartner stepped in and offered detailed critiques of the actual products. Over the years, it evolved, in Gartner's words, into "the IT Professional's best first source for addressing virtually any IT issue."
I'm not sure what the second-best first source would be, or the best second source. And I suppose the "virtually" means "everything except what we don't" rather than "virtualization," although I'm sure Gartner covers virtualization. It's tough for me, as English is the only language I understand well.
In any case, the company long ago created a world of its own, full of minor potentates who send marketing executives hopping down to the restroom when the slightest look of disdain crosses their faces. Critiquing products is one thing, and certainly any number of publications in the IT business over the years terrorized a few generations of  product marketers with their reviews. The reviewers were often admittedly subjective, at other times made use of less subjective on-site "labs," and were open about what they thought and why they thought it.
Gartner, on the other hand, gained a mystique, invoking its "proprietary methodologies" (in other words, you don't know what we're thinking and we won't tell you) that have been bought hook, line, and sinker by enough IT buyers so as to create a monster.
When it comes to the very unscientific hype cycle chart, the splendid irony is that Gartner is one of the main hypesters. I think that if you hype something, then report that it's being hyped too much, you have created a form of a tautological argument, or maybe a circular reference. When you hype something, then say it is being hyped too much, you are also trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever, you haven't really served any useful purpose, have you?
Here's Why Cloud Is Important
There are billions of people living on $1.25 a day or less in the world. I tire of hearing this statistic, because it doesn't impart any specificity to what is going on in the developing world, and is usually thrown out there to induce guilt among us "haves" and "have mores."
What it means in reality is that there are a lot of perfectly normal people getting by on two meals a day, with no electricity or running water, yet who live lives without squalor, and with close family relationships that steel them for whatever crisis is at hand. It means there are people in the world with immune systems that put the average Westerner's to shame, who will spend their entire lives with no medical care whatsoever, and who will never ride a bicycle, let alone drive a car.
But these people are not to be pitied or condescended to. Most of them come from families that have lived in their part of the world for thousands of years; they've worked out how to survive and enjoy life. There is no existential angst where there is no opportunity, only family, tradition, and shared responsibilities.
This is where Cloud Computing can do the most good. Whether delivering services through cellphones (which are plentiful in many very remote places), causing a revolution in European government that one hopes can spread to all corners of the globe, or attracting thousands of people to events in Shanghai, Tokyo, New York, Silicon Valley, and elsewhere.
I conducted a recent exercise in which I mashed a few statistics together to tease out a group of countries (including Bangladesh, Ukraine, Morocco, and Senegal) that are more aggressive than you might imagine in buying IT. True Cloud Computing, which shifts the capital expenditure burden from users to providers, should be allowed to play a major role in these countries' burgeoning use of IT.
What It Is, What It Isn't
Wait a minute, am I hyping things here? No.
Hyping literally means to say something that you don't expect people to take literally. It is overstatement, a ridiculous statement, a preposterous statement.
Hype is not "Cloud can do wonders in developing nations" or "come to the conference, you'll love it."
Hype is Merrill Lynch saying Cloud will be a $160-billion opportunity in 2011, while counting online advertising as $95 billion of that amount. There's probably no need to mention this, though, as I suppose you've grown accustomed to trusting Wall St. hypesters just as far, but no further, than your local three-card monte dealer.
Hype is Gartner saying 20% of all businesses will have absolutely no IT on-site by 2012, a statement almost guaranteed to generate severe pushback frm IT buyers (and thereby enable the self-fulfilling prophecy that Cloud is overhyped).
So let's kick this crappy hype chart thing to the curb. Let's hope the likes of Gartner don't completely screw up the momentum behind Cloud Computing through some glib hocus-pocus that passes for intellectual endeavor. Let's also hope that technology marketers will focus on what they know is best, always sensitive to what their competitors are doing of course, but spending no time worrying about quadrant nonsense.
You IT buyers out there, look for proven expertise, sure. Do your due diligence with market research. But you've got brains, use them. Throw away those crutches and live!

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Virtual Desktops and Cloud Computing

One of the major components of a cloud computing environment is, without a doubt, virtualization. Virtualization enables the cloud to provide virtualized servers to clients via the cloud, without having to rely on specific, individualized physical servers.
The cloud offers a number of advantages, of course, not the least of which is higher availability and increased efficiency. The challenge is providing access to necessary applications via divergent devices in geographically divergent locations, while maintaining high data integrity and synchronicity.
Part of the challenge of using cloud computing to provide flexible access is that users prefer fat applications for many tasks. Google Docs might be very useful and able to replace MS Office in some instances, but it’s not likely it will truly overtake the fat applications market share.
So, what do organizations who are dedicated to providing cloud computing solutions to divergent users do? One thing they’ve done is to turn to desktop virtualization tools and run them via the cloud.
Virtual desktops solve one of the biggest IT problems: the effective management and securing of corporate desktops. Managing a company’s set of virtual desktops is much less unwieldy than managing physical desktops, especially when those desktops are distributed around the world.

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Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Cloud – Is It Really a Security Risk?

There is a lot of hype around cloud computing. And there are many myths about cloud security. But is cloud computing really a risk? Interestingly, many of the potential security issues in cloud computing are overhyped - and others are vastly ignored.
Cloud computing is not only hype. It is a fundamental paradigm shift in the way we are doing IT. It is the shift from manufacturing to industrialization in IT; it is the shift from doing everything internally toward an IT that consumes services from the most appropriate service provider and is able to switch between (internal and external) service providers flexibly. It is, on the other hand, not only about external or highly scalable services. The core of cloud computing is to think in services, to optimize service procurement, and to optimize service production and delivery. The competition between internal and external service providers is part of this as well as it is the shift from a tactical use of some external services toward a strategic approach for service orchestration and service procurement.

Given that, cloud computing done right provides a lot of opportunities for achieving a higher level of security. A strategic approach for service procurement must include a standardized service description and thus clearly defined requirements for these services - not only from a functional perspective but for the "governance" part of it as well. Thus, aspects such as security requirements, encryption of transport and data, and location of data have to be covered in such requirements and mapped into SLAs (Service Level Agreements). Doing that right will automatically lead to a higher level of security compared to the tactical deployment of SaaS today - and it will reduce the number of cloud service providers you can choose from.
The biggest advantage in cloud computing for IT security besides the strategic sourcing of services is that cloud service providers are potentially better at IT operations than an organization can be. That is especially true for SMBs. Large providers with large data centers promise availability and data security - and many of them fulfill that promise. In addition, cloud services might as well help in improving IT service delivery. External backups, sort of "redundant data centers" built on IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) offerings, or just the ability to offload peaks in resource consumption to the (external) cloud are some examples.
For sure there are aspects such as the increasing number of providers within the "IT service supply chain" that lead to increasing risks in the area of availability. There is the risk of sensitive data being managed somewhere out there. However, using the strategic approach on service management mentioned earlier (including the "governance" part) will reduce and mitigate many of these risks.

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Cloud and Mobile Will Remain Hot for Foreseeable Future

IBM developerWorks ‘s 2010 IBM Tech Trends Surveyreaffirms what we've all been witnessing this past year or so. The study says mobile and cloud computing will continue to dominate the Tech world when it comes to software applications development and IT delivery through 2015.
The report gathered inputs from 2000 IT developers and specialists from 87 countries who specialize in software testing, system and network administration, software architecture, and enterprise and web application development. It came up with the following results :
  • Fifty-five percent expect that mobile software application development for devices such as smartphones like iPhone and Android sets and of course popular tablets like iPad and PlayBook will overshadow development targeted at other types of platforms by 2015.
  • Ninety-one percent of respondents think cloud computing will surpass on-premise computing as the preferred and main way businesses get their hands on IT over the next five years.

Telecommunications, financial services, health-care, and energy and utilities were cited in the study as the top four industries with best opportunities for career growth. It is quite interesting that these segments are also notably some of the primary targets when it comes to expansion and deployment of mobile and cloud computing technologies. Concepts such as mobile banking, mobile broadband, electronic medical records and cloud-based energy management systems are rapidly catching on no doubt leading to fresh new revenue opportunities for the mobile and cloud sectors. The smartphone explosion accompanied by the need to access a plethora of content from the cloud be it games, music, video, social media etc has given quite a boost to this space as well. Incidentally another recent study along similar lines fromJuniper Research reiterates the same idea and estimates that the market for cloud-based mobile applications will grow 88% from 2009 to 2014. The market was just over $400 million this past year but by 2014, it would reach $9.5 billion.

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Monday, 18 October 2010

Wyse Brings Mobility to Cloud Computing

Wyse Technology on Wednesday announced the launch of the Wyse X50c mobile thin client with PCoIP and a new, more powerful software system. Ideally suited for campus roaming access to virtual desktops, the Wyse X50c provides a flexible yet secure lightweight device that’s easier to manage and support remotely.
As organizations seek to support more flexible working with virtualized environments across campus office sites, they want to deploy clients without issues of securing, managing and updating individual clients. The current approach is to use normal laptop PCs, but those devices carry an inherent risk of data theft or loss. Not only is this not secure, it is also inconvenient for users to have to navigate the local operating system to reach their remote workspace.
The new Wyse X50c mobile client (based on Wyse-enhanced SUSE Linux) is designed for simple and secure mobile computing in and around an office campus. Optimized for use with the leading virtualization solutions including VMware View 4.5™ with the PCoIP® display protocol, the Wyse X50c requires no hands-on management and automatically updates and configures itself based on network settings. Using Wyse-enhanced SUSE Linux also gives enterprises peace of mind, as it is the only thin Linux distribution with a Microsoft patent cooperation agreement, making it a safe choice for enterprises.
The Wyse X50C is purpose designed for remote working and provides seamless access to personal workspaces. Weighing around 1.3 kg (3lbs), the device is built for high-quality mobile use with a powerful 1.33GHz Intel Atom processor, 29cm (11.6in) LED backlit screen, and up to eight hours of battery power.
Launching its latest enterprise Linux and PCoIP solution, Wyse is demonstrating its cloud client computing leadership through close collaboration with Novell, and thus giving customers the flexibility and support of the latest protocols (Citrix HDX, Microsoft RDP, and PCoIP used in VMware View) without the need for a Windows-based client.
"Our customers have loved being able to take advantage of the latest protocols like PCoIP without the labor intensive task of keeping PC’s safe and healthy," said Hector Angulo, Product Manager at Wyse. "With the new Wyse X50c, customers who require a mobile client can now enjoy the security and ease of management breakthrough benefits of Wyse-enhanced SUSE Linux."
"The Wyse X50c combines simplicity, security and convenience in one very small package," said Vittorio Viarengo, vice president, End User Computing Products, VMware. "The combination of the X50c and PCoIP will enable IT to deliver the access to remote desktops users desire while being able to easily maintain control over their client infrastructures."

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Cloud Computing Trends For 2011

A look at 5 cloud trends in the coming year courtesy of Computer World

Would you recognize a significant IT business trend if you saw one? Over the years, many products, technologies and IT-related business trends have been hyped beyond their significance. But the killers are the ones that go unnoticed and wind up being
transformational. It’s difficult to know the difference, but there’s an old journalism adage: Follow the money. With that in mind, here are five things to keep an eye on as we march toward 2011.
1. The recession is transformational. Since late 2008, many companies facing reduced top-line growth have eked out profits with deep cuts. In many cases, those savings have been held aside, awaiting the right moment. Odds are, that moment will come in 2011. For IT shops, business growth could require new technology, but additional IT resources may not be added as quickly. Senior IT leaders should be planning now how to meet the demands of anxious CEOs with smaller staffs and shorter timelines.
2. The spotlight remains on cost-saving technologies. Given the recession, it’s no surprise that virtualization, the head-slappingly obvious money-saver that was hot well before the recession, is even hotter now. A year ago, Gartner named it the No. 1 technology for 2010, based on a survey of CIOs. I’d put it there again for 2011, followed by cloud computing , software as a service and, to a lesser degree, business analytics.
Read The Rest Of The Article: ComputerWorld

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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Oracle Gets Cloud Religion

What a difference a year makes. Last September, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison  launched into a tirade about the "nonsense" that cloud computing had become. The  industry had gone haywire, he said, and slapped the buzzword on technologies  that weren't really new at all.
What a difference a year makes. Last September, Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry  Ellison launched into a
tirade about the "nonsense" that cloud computing had become
. The industry  had gone haywire, he said, and slapped the buzzword on technologies that weren't  really new at all.
Fast-forward to Oracle OpenWorld this week and Oracle is now well and truly  on the cloud bandwagon. You can hardly walk down a hallway at the Moscone  Center, where the show is being held, without bumping into a banner emblazoned  with "cloud."

In a keynote Tuesday, Executive Vice President of Product Development Thomas  Kurian declared Oracle is in the best position to provide cloud computing  products and services, thanks to its comprehensive lineup of hardware,  applications, security and management technologies.

Data centers shouldn't be based on multiple "small  building blocks" because they're too hard to manage, Kurian said. A smarter  approach is embodied by Oracle's newly announced Exalogic machine, a high-powered "cloud in a box" that combines hardware, storage and middleware to
run any kind of application at vast scale, he said.

"You get a single environment and single architecture to manage your data center," Kurian said.

He also demonstrated how Oracle's management software can "manage the entire cloud, all the way from applications down to the disk," giving administrators insight into KPIs (key performance indicators) as well as the status of servers and throughput. "Both are critical when you move to cloud," he said.

Kurian also addressed Oracle's formula for security in the cloud, touting its offerings in database-level security and identity management.
He discussed how users will be able to easily configure and tweak business processes in Oracle's upcoming Fusion Applications,

"In the past you had to call in a developer to do that. We have re-architected our middleware to change how you do this in a fundamental way," he said.

It made sense for Kurian to stress Oracle's capabilities in security and identity management, as they are not things that most pure-play SaaS (software-as-a-service) vendors can offer as of yet, said 451 Group analyst China Martens.
Oracle's cloud computing strategy doesn't appear to include a public IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) offering like Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Nor did Kurian stress concepts such as multitenancy, a SaaS architecture that lets many customers access a single instance of an application, with their data kept separate.
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Monday, 11 October 2010

Can We Kill The Terms Private, Public, and Hybrid Cloud?

It's time to rant about the use of the terms Private, Public, and Hybrid when it comes to Cloud Computing. I hate the terms, and think the sooner they disappear, the better Cloud can live long and prosper.
Hybrid is a great term for corn; less good for IT. With corn, it describes a decades-long, ongoing effort to improve yield and feed more people in the process. It is a genetic hybrid with a single goal.
With IT, and specifically with Cloud, the term Hybrid is the squishiest of all terms. It means nothing. Public and private are less squishy perhaps, but often used in a way that only confuses people.
Let's Take a LookWithin an Enterprise Cloud you'll find the corporate HR intranet (inc. the company directory, outline of benefits, insurance claim forms, tally of vacation days, personal IRA and related statements, and pictures from the joy-filled company picnic), the accounting software (including the dreaded expense account app), all the engineering stuff, and the supply-chain management system.
Within the Consumer Cloud, you'll find the corporate website, and with it, your online commerce system if you have one. The latter runs to everything from the hardy originals (eg, Amazon and eBay) to iTunes, Expedia, and anything else you would buy online.
Most companies will, therefore, have an Enterprise Cloud and a Consumer Cloud. They may have significant on-site IT, but farm out the website to an ISP. They may have significant on-site IT, but mirror it with Akamai and have Akamai do the heavy lifting to deliver video.
They may have abstracted and virtualized some or all of their online IT, utilizing their capacity more effectively and consolidating a number of servers. They have also contracted with a third-party to handle seasonal spike
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Cloud Computing in the U.S. Shows Momentum

How widespread is business use of cloud computing? The results of one survey  published Tuesday suggest use of both public and private clouds has real  momentum in the United States, with private cloud computing appearing to be more  popular.

How widespread is business use of cloud  computing?  The results of one survey published Tuesday suggest use of both  public and private clouds has real momentum in the United States, with private
cloud computing appearing to be more popular.
Among 210 IT executives in U.S. businesses, roughly one-third currently uses  only private cloud computing, while another one-third uses both private and  public clouds. Roughly 1 in 10 uses only public cloud computing, and almost  one-quarter uses no cloud computing option at all.

The survey, conducted in August by Harris  Interactive and sponsored by Novell,  indicates that 43% of IT executives with decision-making authority foresee  increased use of both public and private cloud  platforms in the future. Roughly 29% expect more use of private-cloud  platforms, while 5% expect increased use of public clouds. Another 5% have "no  plans" regarding use of cloud computing, and 7% said they are not sure.

The Harris Interactive survey also sought to find out whether cloud computing  deployments will  occur alongside, instead of replacing, company-owned data  centers. Us:

Friday, 8 October 2010

To Cloud or Not to Cloud

I've been asked quite a few times, "when will it be a good time to get into cloud computing?" by potential clients. My answer is typically it depends... I know, I know.... not much direction there, but really it all depends. Why ?

Well, some may state, "we all know of the much beaten security concerns, and we will ensure that systems on our end are secured and synced to work in tandem with the vendors' security."
Can one ensure some degree of monitoring by the implementation of an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) residing within the system hosting the gateway into the cloud?

The intent of such an implementation can be to monitor the cloud gateway system's software for anomalies, variances from expected traffic and quantity of access into an enterprise's cloud service.But will it be effective enough?

We all remember the buzz and the alarm over adopting the cloud that the occurred from the Bitbucket-EC2 debacle last year and the stories about the back and forth that left Bitbucket's services unavailable for an "eternity" in "internet time" until the EC2 team acknowledged an issue.

Were they hacked? They were DDoSed as most of you already know. Hacking as we know it today, is a for profit enterprise. But can hacking in the cloud become a common instance considering the large enterprises that are vendors, the clients they can or are providing services for, and the levels of security, disaster recovery and back up plans that these vendors claim are in place?

Maybe, but I believe that there is a good chance that any such instance can be caught and dealt with in a manner more expeditious due to the processes in place at these larger vendor facilities than it would at a smaller enterprise. I am not saying that a smaller enterprise can not mitigate an attack, just that the larger cloud vendor will have more resources to act with.

According to some, the cloud is a hackers trove of resources to say launch a DDoS attack. My question is then, to date how many such attacks have occurred with regard to a cloud deployment? Less than a dozen I believe in the last nine months, this simply because there is no real profit in a DDoS within this environment. Unless of course the aim for whatever reason is to stop traffic to a site and disrupt operations as in the case of Bitbucket.

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Cloud Computing: The Truth About What Runs on Amazon

I continue to encounter an interesting phenomenon regarding cloud computing as I speak at conferences, present to IT groups, and talk to businesspeople interested in the subject. Most people recognize the importance of cloud computing, acknowledge the relevance to their environments, and describe their initiatives.

However, one thing I often hear is that while Amazon is the clear leader in cloud computing, "it's mostly used by SMB organizations." In other words, public cloud computing is not being used by big enterprises. And, people add, even if large companies are using public clouds, it's for "unimportant" applications. The canonical example offered by people making this observation is that "no one is moving SAP to the cloud."

What I find interesting about these discussions is how poorly they match my experience and observations. From our experience, Amazon and its fellow on-demand cloud providers like Rackspace are being used by large organizations quite a bit, for important applications, and certainly the use is increasing.

So why the disconnect between actual facts on the ground and perception?

Who Led Open Source Charge? Developers

I've long thought that the rise of on-demand cloud computing reminds me a lot of the adoption of open source, and that perspective was reinforced by a couple of blog posts I read this week by Stephen O'Grady of the analyst firm RedMonk.

The first is his discussion (titled "Meet the New Kingmakers, Same as the Old Kingmakers") about a Forrester report analyzing open source adoption within enterprises. The report found significant use, buttressed by survey results and other facts. In his post, O'Grady mildly criticized Forrester for coming to a conclusion that RedMonk did four years ago.

RedMonk, he explains, believes that developers are the true decision makers in organizations and from its interactions with those type of folks, RedMonk knew years ago that open source was being used in a big way. Forrester, he notes, surveyed CIOs and senior IT decision makers -- that is, management. He quotes a post by former Red Hat sales exec Billy Marshall that "CIOs are the last to know," meaning, IT organizational decisions are actually made bottom up (i.e., by developers), and that senior management perception lags reality by a significant margin.

O'Grady states: "We are founded upon the idea that developers are the single most important constituency in technology. Open source dramatically lowers the barriers to adoption, such that developers may build upon what they want rather than what they're given." Both O'Grady and Marshall emphasize that developers use open source because it makes doing their job easier.

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Thursday, 7 October 2010

Popular Dropbox Store-Sync-Share Cloud Service Morphing Into Middleware

3. Use Cloud Storage As a Backup Target
If you are using a local PC, you can’t stop local storage from growing. However, you can backup important data to cloud storage. There are plenty cloud storage services around, such as Amazon S3, AT&T Synaptic Storage and so on. You will need to find a cloud backup solution with your cloud storage service.

4. Use Cloud Storage As Tier 2 Storage
You may have a local file server shared by everyone in the office. Over time, the file server will grow old and run our of disk space. You need to be prepared to replace it every 2-3 years. One of the best practice is to have cloud storage attached to it as tier 2 storage. After you take care of the email storage, collaboration storage and backup storage, the file server storage will not grow as fast so it will last longer. With cloud storage attached as tier2, you now have a second copy of the data in case anything goes wrong with the file server. It is more of a business continuity and disaster recovery solution.
5. Look into the Future

The best could be that there is no local storage where your desktop is in the cloud too. Everything else is online application delivered through a web browser. This way, instead of having a physical IT infrastructure, you have a virtual infrastructure. Cloud storage will still be around, the only difference is the access point changed from local desktop to cloud desktop and online applications.

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Grow Your SMB with Cloud Storage

The basic principle of growing the business is finding the best person to get the job done, with reasonable cost. That is why the payroll is outsourced to ADP; In-house Email Server replaced by Google Apps Premier; Business contacts are managed by
Your in-house data storage will grow as your business grow. Over time, it will become expensive. For example, it may take a couple of days to backup 50G data to a FTP server. It will take 200 days to do the same thing for 5 Terabytes of data.  Your business premise usually is the slowest link to the Internet. It will not be a good idea to have local storage grow to a level that it is difficult to transfer to a different location over Internet.

1. Move Your Email Server Out First
People don’t typically think of email as storage but it is with all the messages and attachments. If you keep it local, over time you will have to upgrade the email servers. It is best to move it out early.  Google Apps or Microsoft Windows Live could be good choices.

2. Leverage Online Storage Suites
If you don’t use an online storage suite, employees typically will just send email attachments around for sharing and collaboration. You may have a Sharepoint server in house for that purpose but over time, you will run into storage problems again. There are plenty online storage suites around, such as Google Docs, Windows Live SkyDrive, You can easily share files with your co-workers with these online services. All that you need is a quick and easy desktop access tool to Google Docs, SkyDrive or

3. Use Cloud Storage As a Backup Target
If you are using a local PC, you can’t stop local storage from growing. However, you can backup important data to cloud storage. There are plenty cloud storage services around, such as Amazon S3, AT&T Synaptic Storage and so on. You will need to find a cloud backup solution with your cloud storage service.

4. Use Cloud Storage As Tier 2 Storage
You may have a local file server shared by everyone in the office. Over time, the file server will grow old and run our of disk space. You need to be prepared to replace it every 2-3 years. One of the best practice is to have cloud storage attached to it as tier 2 storage. After you take care of the email storage, collaboration storage and backup storage, the file server storage will not grow as fast so it will last longer. With cloud storage attached as tier2, you now have a second copy of the data in case anything goes wrong with the file server. It is more of a business continuity and disaster recovery solution.

5. Look into the Future
The best could be that there is no local storage where your desktop is in the cloud too. Everything else is online application delivered through a web browser. This way, instead of having a physical IT infrastructure, you have a virtual infrastructure. Cloud storage will still be around, the only difference is the access point changed from local desktop to cloud desktop and online applications.

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Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Controlling Cloud and iPad. Be the Usher, Not the Bouncer

The purpose of an usher, be it at an old-time movie theater or a wedding, is to take people to suitable seats and see that they’re comfortable. The purpose of a bouncer is to throw out bums and keep the peace. These two words conjure pictures in your head of similar folks, but their function is completely opposite.
image Many of the things confronting IT today that are as much driven by the business and buzz as by IT and requirements are Cloud Computing and Wireless Devices. Look back historically and find parallels to these things, they’ll help you decide how to handle both phenomenon.

The business user that says “I don’t need you, I can go to cloud provider X” doesn’t realize what he is saying any more than the business user who said the same about SaaS vendors did. You can block  him or you can educate him. He does indeed need you, for all the reasons we’ve talked about before – Data Security, Access Control, Integration, and meaningful Reporting. He may not realize that, but he does. Even if “Cloud Provider X” is really just a SaaS vendor with a fresh coat of paint that offers a “complete”  solution, we all know that “complete” is not the same as “integrated” and certainly doesn’t imply “secure”. You just have to help the hot-head understand that fact.

The business user that wants his iPad to have 100% access to corporate resources yesterday has a similar issue. We saw this problem with Palms when they first came out. The problem is that they want access without the inherent security. It is your job to educate them on what steps are necessary and how long it will take to set things up in a secure manner, so that when they leave their iPad in a coffee shop – and some will, that is the other bit we learned about devices from the first Palm wave – your corporate systems are protected.

In both of the previous cases – SaaS and Palm – most IT shops played the bouncer, enforcing an artificial rule by locking out non-approved Palms and denying attempts to use SaaS products. And the lesson we learn from that tidbit is that those who did paid for it dearly. People don’t forget that you “roadblocked” them. And honestly, that is 100% about politics and not technology. Since IT is about giving users reasonable access to technology to do their jobs, being the usher is a better solution in the long run. New technology comes and goes like the wind, but politics has a nasty habit of sticking around to haunt you.

In both cases, emotions will run high, so short circuit that problem with the simple expedient of having a plan and sticking to it.

Ask the business to prioritize iPad access versus revamping the website, or whatever other major projects you have going on, then dedicate resources accordingly. Meet “it already almost works!” claims by iPad users with calm responses that “works” and “works securely” are not the same thing, nor is “almost works” the same as “ready for prime time”. Ask them if their phone “almost worked” if they would use it, then explain to them what the plan created above is, and when you’ll be ready to roll out access.

Cloud follows a similar vein. Ask the business to clearly state their goals in using Cloud Computing. If the goal is to be more adaptable or agile, there are a lot of routes to that destination and they don’t all fly through the clouds. Plenty of organizations are achieving a greater agility with virtualization today, without moving into the cloud and increasing complexity in an already complex world. If the answer is to meet a specific need with a  specific “SaaS sold as cloud” solution, then get the vendor name and check them out the way you would check out your own apps – do they conform to your security policies, can they integrate with your applications, etc. And present a plan to use them, or alternative solutions that will solve the same business problem. If the stated goal is to remove the roadblock of IT, well you have your work cut out for you. You’re going to have to show them how your work integrates and secures their systems, and it’s not a roadblock but a cost of doing business. You’re also going to have to listen to demands that will sometimes be reasonable… And sometimes not.

The point is, if you’re the bouncer, you’ll spend a lot more time winning back the goodwill of the business. If you’re the usher, you are taking their arm and leading them to the seat that they believe will help them grow the business. Since you work for the same business, usher is a better answer, as long as your corporate data is protected, and when someone asks for data from that “cloud” provider to be included in the data warehouse or weekly reports you have a way to meet that need. That is to say it is integrated or at least accessible.

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5 Success Factors for Upgrading Your Wireless Network to 802.11n

Join Cloud Distribution and Meraki on the 14th of October and receive a FREE Meraki Access Point including a 3 year license for their award winning Cloud Controller. Click on the image above to enroll.

During the webinar, we will discuss advancements in radio technologies, wireless management, and network automation which are important factors in upgrading a wireless network to 802.11n. The webinar will demonstrate how cloud managed wireless will improve reliability and ease of use at a lower cost. The webinar will include demos, case studies, and architectural analysis, to show you the advantages of cloud technology.

Don’t Believe the Hype – Understand Cloud Computing Before Jumping In

Much recent discussion about Cloud Computing has focused on the datacenter, given Oracle's major push at its recent annual trade show, the recent skirmish by HP and Dell to acquire storage manufacturer 3Par, and Cisco's new push to create "borderless networks" with the datacenter in the middle of all this. But we shouldn't forget what we want Cloud Computing to do. In the past few days, I've seen three interrelated examples of doing something interesting with Cloud, all involving the use of simple PCs and cell phones at the user end. All are designed with improving local economies in mind: Online Markets in Developing Countries Julius Akinyemi's UWIN project, which I've written about before, is starting to take shape. Julius is Resident Entrepreneur at the MIT Media Lab, and a former CIO at Wells Fargo and PepsiCo. He aims to bring the "wealth of nations" to develop... (more)

Morphlabs to Exhibit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley

Cloud Expo Silicon Valley $800 Savings here! SYS-CON Events announced today that Morphlabs, the leading enabler of enterprise cloud architecture platforms, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 7th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1-4, 2010, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Explore Cloud Expo Sponsorship & Exhibit Opportunities ! Morphlabs, Inc. was established in 2006 to make elastic computing possible for Enterprise Data Centers and Application Developers. Morphlabs' solutions enable enterprises and service providers to easily deploy auto... (more)

Cloud Expo 2011 East To Attract 10,000 Delegates and 600 Exhibitors

SYS-CON Events announced today that the 8th International Cloud Expo will take place June 6-9, 2011, in New York City. The International Cloud Computing Conference & Expo series is the world's leading Cloud-focused event and is held three times a year, in New York, Silicon Valley and in Europe. Over 200 corporate sponsors and 10,000 industry professionals have participated in Cloud Computing Expo since its inception, more than all other Cloud-related events put together. The four-day event will offer a rich array of sessions led by exceptional speakers about the business and tech... (more)

Cloud Computing Hype and Backlash

A wise man once told me to do all things without murmuring and arguing, clearly a very difficult task. Narrowly focusing this admonition on the task of writing articles about Cloud Computing, it seems impossible. But I'll try. As I noted earlier, the recent hype over Cloud Computing has placed it at the peak of expectations in many folks' minds. This is dangerous territory, and will no doubt be followed by innumerable articles slamming Cloud and its (imaginary) failed promise real soon now. The Handwave is Back It has not been necessarily pretty to watch each and every technology v... (more)

Five Signs You Need HTML5 WebSockets

HTML5 WebSocket is an important new technology that helps you build engaging, interactive, real-time web applications quickly and reliably. Sure, HTML5 WebSockets may be the best thing since sliced bread, but is this new technology right for you? This article identifies five types of web applications that will benefit from HTML5 WebSockets. So, without further ado... give me five! The Five Signs Your web application has data that must flow bi-directional simultaneously. Your web application must scale to large numbers of concurrent users. Your web application must extend TCP-bas... (more)

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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Early Adopters Now Running 60 to 70 Percent of Business Applications in the Cloud

Armada Group and Convene Executive Advisory Council to Bring Together Leading Cloud Innovators

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwire – October 1, 2010) –  Cloud computing innovators from Armada,, RightScale, Apigee and enStratus hosted the first Executive Advisory Council on Cloud Computing during VMworld 2010 in San Francisco, concluding that early adopters are now deploying 60 to 70 percent of their business applications in the cloud. Panelists and attendees from CA, Cisco,, Microsoft, Oracle, Netflix, VMware, Joyent, OpSource, Nvidia, SOASTA, Cloudkick and others agreed that assessing an application’s needs for dynamic scalability, requirements for specialized optimization and suitability for a cloud or dedicated environment helps determine whether the cloud is the right solution.
Discussion was lively during the behind-the-scenes event held in conjunction with VMworld 2010, as attendees explored and debated the key issues that are defining the future of cloud computing. Moderated by Dave Nielsen of Cloud Camp, Executive Advisory Council panelists in the rapid-fire “UnPanel” format addressed questions including:
  • How do you optimize an application in the cloud?
  • What are the most competitive cloud computing offerings?
  • What can help us simplify growing complexities in the cloud?
  • What happens when the cloud breaks?
  • How do cloud providers deal with audits of cloud computing requested by clients?
  • In terms of initial adoption, will customers go with a public or private cloud first?
  • What is a real ROI of cloud computing?
Key Findings

Top-level conclusions from the Executive Advisory Council on Cloud Computing included:
  • The cloud requires sound applications with good functional composition. There is no substitute for good programming. Legacy applications may need to be re-factored to run optimally in the cloud. It’s critical to conduct a thorough functional analysis of how a new application is designed for the cloud paradigm.
  • Amazon Web Services is at least two years ahead of competitors in features and functionality. Going forward, there is no clear number two. Many people think that Microsoft will eventually compete just as they have done in the past in other markets.
  • Today, there are tools available that create templates, patterns and standard architectures for simplifying deployment to the cloud. For example, companies such as enStratus and RightScale provide tools that enable companies to deploy applications in the cloud rapidly and efficiently.
  • The cloud does break. Everyone is adjusting to the new environment and dealing with multiple players in the cloud delivery chain. Who is really responsible and how do you define SLAs? The industry is still trying to figure this out. Disaster recovery and replicated sites are practical approaches that are easier to achieve in the cloud than with your own infrastructure and your own IT department.
  • If your company is large enough, you may have economies of scale that justify building your own private cloud. For smaller companies, it absolutely makes sense to use a public cloud. Fast-forward three to five years: As people get more comfortable with cloud computing and the industry matures, public clouds will come to the forefront in the enterprise.
  • Although only an estimated two percent of enterprise applications are running in the cloud today, early adopters, such as Netflix, have 60 to 70 percent of their applications running in the cloud. The cloud model enables businesses to take a fresh look at the value of maintaining legacy applications or refactoring them for the cloud. If you are developing a new application, architecting it for the cloud from the start is the way to go.
“Armada helps leading enterprises make informed decisions and leverage the value of the cloud in the most effective manner possible. The cloud computing innovators at our Executive Advisory Council validated what we are seeing from our customers — they are moving aggressively to re-factor their critical business applications to harness the cloud’s tremendous efficiencies,” said Jeff Tavangar, President, The Armada Group.

A report from the Executive Advisory Council on Cloud Computing is available at Follow up surveys showed that 100 percent of the responding attendees would attend a subsequent panel and would like to further explore cloud topics, including Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), virtualization in the cloud, and the impact of social networking.

About Armada
Since 1995, The Armada Group has been a premier Silicon Valley-based professional services firm that helps companies implement their next-generation technology strategy. As a trusted advisor to leading global technology companies such as Cisco, Paypal and eBay, Armada delivers the resources and advice to build smart, scalable technology infrastructure that leverages best practices, technology and business models to promote your company’s growth. For more information, please visit

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Cloud Security – Is The Cloud Insecure?

Cloud security is on the top of every CIO’s mind. Apparently some people even consider that cloud risks outweigh cloud benefits.  Unfortunately, an overzealous approach to cloud security can lead to arguments that detract from the real issues, with little to no analysis of the specific problems at hand.

Below is a list of cloud security issues that I believe affect large organizations:

  • Separation of duties Your existing company probably has separate application, networking and platform teams. The cloud may force a consolidation of these user groups. For example, in many companies the EC2 administrators are application programmers, have access to Security Groups (firewall) and can also spin up and take down virtual servers.
  • Home access to your servers Corporate environments are usually administered on-premise or through a VPN with two-factor authentication. Strict access controls are usually forgotten for the cloud, allowing administrators to access your cloud’s control panel from home and make changes as they see fit. Note further that cloud access keys/accounts may remain available to people who leave or get fired from your company, making home access an even bigger concern…
  • Difficulty in validating security Corporation are used to stringent access and audit controls for on-premise services, but maintaining and validating what’s happening in the cloud can become a secondary concern. This can lead some companies to lose track of the exact security posture of their cloud environments.
  • Appliances and specialized tools do not support the cloud Specialized tools may not be able to go into the cloud. For example, you may have Network Intrusion Detection appliances sitting in front of on-premise servers, and you will not be able to move such specialized boxes into the cloud. A move to Virtual Appliances may make this less of an issue for future cloud deployments.
  • Legislation and Regulations Cross border issues are a big challenge in the cloud. Privacy concerns may forbid certain user data from leaving your country, while foreign legislation may become an unneeded new challenge for your business. For example, a European business running systems on American soil may open themselves up to Patriot Act regulations.
  • Organizational processes Who has access to the cloud and what can they do? Can someone spin up an Extra Large machine and install their own software? How do you backup and restore data? Will you start replicating processes within your company simply because you’ve got a separate cloud infrastructure? Many companies are simply not familiar enough with the cloud to create the processes necessary for secure cloud operations.
  • Auditing challenges Any auditing activities that you normally undertake may be complicated if data is in the cloud. A good example is PCI — Can you actually prove that CC data is always within your control, even if it’s hosted outside of your environment somewhere in the cloud ether?
  • Public/private connectivity is a challenge Do you ever need to mix data between your public and private environments? It can become a challenge to send data between these two environments, and to do so securely. New technologies for cloud impedance matching may help.
  • Monitoring and logging You will likely have central systems monitoring your internal environment and collecting logs from your servers. Will you be able to achieve those same monitoring and log collection activities if you run servers off-premise?
  • Penetration testing Some companies run periodic penetration testing activities directly on public infrastructure. Cloud environments may not be as amenable to ‘hacking’ type activities from taking place on cloud infrastructure that they provide.
By Simon Ellis/Cloudtweaks Contributor

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Monday, 4 October 2010

Meraki Webinar Invite - 5 Success Factors for Upgrading to 802.11n

Since wireless devices have become the norm, the need for organisations to provide a fast, reliable and secure wireless network has become a requirement. This webcast discusses how advancements in radio technologies, wireless management, and network automation have enabled small, leveraged IT staffs to deploy wireless, and meet employee's needs for bandwidth and mobility.

What's more, we are providing a FREE Meraki wireless access point*, along with a license for its award-winning Cloud Controller, to IT professionals who attend. This AP can be used in your office, or can be taken home, to provide an awesome, reliable professional-level WiFi experience at your house. This is a £250 value, provided free for all who attend.

Meraki has taken a unique approach to wireless. They move the complexity of the network from your infrastructure to the cloud, providing many benefits:.

* Centrally manage access points from an intuitive browser interface
* No controller hardware to buy, no software to install
* Secure access for employees, guests and devices
* Self-configuring adaptive mesh routing
* Scalability for networks of all sizes

We look forward to showing you how Meraki’s cloud-hosted controller architecture can help you implement a simpler, faster, and more cost-effective model for wireless networks.

* Please follow this link for details of how you qualify to receive your FREE Meraki wireless access point.