August 2011

Cloud computing 'won't hurt IT jobs'

Grazed from Experian QAS.  Author:  Neil Hill.

The increasing popularity of cloud computing will not have a damaging effect on IT jobs, according to one expert.

Speaking to Cloud Pro, Tim Griffin, Dell’s global vice president (VP) for services and solutions, said that although new technologies will always lead to concerns over the future of IT professionals, the industry will always need workers...

CIOs lack adequate Cloud computing knowledge

Grazed from CIO.  Author:  Stephanie Overby.

Traditional IT outsourcing customers are struggling with cloud computing, according to IT service providers and outsourcing advisors surveyed by KPMG Sourcing Advisory. IT service providers and advisors rated their IT executive customers' facility with various aspects of cloud computing on a scale of one to five, where one represented "very unskilled" and five represented "very skilled." IT executives earned embarrassing scores from their providers and advisors: None garnered even a middling score of three...

When it comes to managing and governing cloud initiatives, IT leaders earned their lowest scores from respondents: 1.69 from advisors and 2.19 from providers.

Their skills in cloud sourcing and structuring cloud engagements didn't fare much better. Advisors gave their IT customers a ranking of 1.81. Providers were marginally more generous with a ranking of 2.35.

 

IT executives also received low marks for their ability to assess the near-term maturity of cloud computing and its viability to support enterprise computing needs: 2.19 by advisors and 2.68 by providers.

Outsourcing providers gave their highest score of 2.81 to customers for understanding how cloud computing options can complement or supplant traditional enterprise systems and outsourcing investments. Advisors gave customers a score of 2.03.

Stan Lepeak, director of KPMG Sourcing Advisory Global Research, was not surprised by the low scores. "Most of the cloud computing focus has been around long-term futures, not scrutinizing real short-term opportunities and deciphering the reality from vendor and service provider claims," says Lepeak.

Notably absent are clear business cases that verify cloud computing vendors' claims of lower costs, he adds. "It's not so much that buyers are not skilled at cloud computing capabilities," says Lepeak, "but that they have not had much real-world practice at utilizing them, or that there is not enough relevant, real-world data available from providers to do meaningful business case assessments."

Despite the low ratings IT executives received, IT service providers are bullish on buyer uptake of cloud-based solutions. Forty-two percent of service providers polled said that their clients have one or more live cloud services deployments and that cloud engagements would increase to 66 percent in the next year, according to the KPMG survey.

It's that fast-moving nature of the market that has made it difficult for customers to keep up, says Lepeak, who compares cloud computing to the early days of the Internet, when buyers struggled to define and execute strategies to exploit its full business potential.

The cloud computing learning curve for traditional IT outsourcing buyers is "elevated, but not steep," Lepeak says. "It's as much a function of practicing the skills as acquiring them."

The same general framework and processes that customers use for traditional outsourcing contracts can be employed for cloud computing deals: define the scope of the deal, create a business case, vet the vendor, determine measurable metrics for success, plan for transition and ongoing management, and outline a change management plan.

Customers need to get up to speed with cloud computing skills quickly to keep up with an increasingly diverse set of cloud computing options, but it's unlikely that they will, says Lepeak. Consequently, cloud deployments might get worse before they get better. "Look for lots of press in one to two years over cloud failures, [unmet] expectations, and overpromised benefits," adds Lepeak.

Regulation, automation, and cloud computing

Grazed from CNet.  Author:  James Urquhart.

Chris Hoff, a former colleague now at Juniper Systems, and a great blogger in his own right, penned a piece last week about the weak underbelly of automation: our decreased opportunity to react manually to negative situations before they become a crisis. Hoff put the problem extremely well in the opening of the post:

I'm a huge proponent of automation. Taking rote processes from the hands of humans & leveraging machines of all types to enable higher agility, lower cost and increased efficacy is a wonderful thing.

However, there's a trade off; as automation matures and feedback loops become more closed with higher and higher clock rates yielding less time between execution, our ability to both detect and recover -- let alone prevent -- within a cascading failure domain is diminished.

I've stated very similar things in the past, but Hoff went on to give a few brilliant examples of the kinds of things that can go wrong with automation. I recommend reading his post and following some of the links, as they will open your eyes to the challenges we face in an automated IT future...

One of the things I always think about when I ponder the subject of cloud automation, however, is how we handle one of the most important--and difficult--things we have to control in this globally distributed model: legality and compliance.

If we are changing the very configuration of our applications--including location, vendors supplying service, even security technologies applied to our requirements--how the heck are we going to assure that we don't start breaking laws or running afoul of our compliance agreements?

It wouldn't be such a big deal if we could just build the law and compliance regulations into our automated environment, but I want you to stop and think about that for a second. Not only do laws and regulations change on an almost daily basis (though any given law or regulation might change occasionally), but there are so many of them that it is difficult to know which rules to apply to which systems for any given action.

In fact, I long ago figured out that we will never codify into automation the laws required to keep IT systems legal and compliant. Not all of them, anyway. This is precisely because humanity has built a huge (and highly paid) professional class to test and stretch the boundaries of those same rules every day: the legal profession.

How is the law a challenge to cloud automation? Imagine a situation in which an application is distributed between two cloud vendor services. A change is applied to key compliance rules by an authorized regulatory body.

That change is implemented by a change in the operations automation of the application within one of the cloud vendor's service. That change triggers behavior in the distributed application that the other cloud vendor sees as an anomalous operational event in that same application.

The second vendor triggers changes via automation that the first vendor now sees as a violation of the newly applied rules, so it initiates action to get back into compliance. The second vendor sees those new actions as another anomaly, and the cycle repeats itself.

Even changes not related to compliance run the risk of triggering a cascading series of actions that result in either failure of the application or unintentionally falling out of compliance. In cloud, regulatory behavior is dependent on technology, and technology behavior is dependent on the rules it is asked to adhere to.

Are "black swan" regulatory events likely to occur? For any given application, not really. In fact, one of the things I love about the complex systems nature of the cloud is the ability for individual "agents" to adapt. (In this case, the "agents" are defined by application developers and operators.) Developers can be aware of what the cloud system does to their apps, or what their next deployment might need to do to stay compliant, and take action.

However, the nature of complex systems is that within the system as a whole, they will occur. Sometimes to great detriment. It's just that the positive effect of the system will outweigh the cost of those negative events...or the system will die.

I stumbled recently on a concept called "systems thinking" which I think holds promise as a framework for addressing these problems. From Wikipedia:

Systems Thinking has been defined as an approach to problem solving, by viewing "problems" as parts of an overall system, rather than reacting to specific part, outcomes or events and potentially contributing to further development of unintended consequences. Systems thinking is not one thing but a set of habits or practices within a framework that is based on the belief that the component parts of a system can best be understood in the context of relationships with each other and with other systems, rather than in isolation. Systems thinking focuses on cyclical rather than linear cause and effect.

Dealing with IT regulation and compliance in an automated environment will take systems thinking--understanding the relationship between components in the cloud, as well as the instructed behavior of each component with regard to those relationships. I think that's a way of thinking about applications that is highly foreign to most software architects, and will be one of the great challenges of the next five to 10 years.

Of course, to what extent the cloud should face regulation is another nightmare entirely.

Amazon opens cloud computing contest

Grazed from ComputerWorld.  Author:  Mikael Ricknäs.
 
Amazon Web Services has opened the fifth annual AWS Start-Up Challenge, a contest that aims to recognize innovative uses of its cloud computing platform, the company said on Monday.

Cloud services are a good fit for startups. They have leveled the playing field as smaller companies gain the resources to compete in ways that were very expensive and often cost-prohibitive in the past, according to Amazon...

Smart thermostat links to cloud for energy savings

Grazed from CNet.  Author: Martin LaMonica.

EnergyHub is making smart thermostats smarter by hitching them to a large database.

The residential energy company today announced a software system that works with connected thermostats in people's homes to optimize settings for energy savings. Called Mercury, the software is aimed at broadband providers, utilities, and thermostat manufacturers, which will offer the service to consumers...

Sequencing giant BGI shoots for the cloud

Grazed from Fierce Biotech IT.  Author:  Ryan McBride.

With DNA sequencing data storage and analysis stressing the computing capacity of some labs, BGI is expanding into the realm of cloud computing from its core business of providing sequencing services, Nature News reports. And some genomics researchers are keeping an eye on the effort as their groups wrestle with the complexities of managing massive amounts of data for studies...

Overcoming Challenges to CRM Cloud Computing Migration

Grazed from TMCNet.com.  Author:  Susan J. Campbell.

The buzz throughout the technology space is the trend toward cloud computing. While cloud computing vendors are helping to create and drive that buzz, a number of companies are reporting challenges to adoption. Without a clear strategy to overcome these challenges, the adoption of CRM cloud computing is likely to suffer.

According to this Wireless Week (News - Alert) report, the Yankee Group’s survey on the adoption of cloud computing found that 55 percent of IT decision makers are reporting cost and migration difficulties as key barriers to the adoption of CRM cloud computing. Another obstacle that is making an impact is the lack of confidence in security processes to protect data...

Advantages and drawbacks to public cloud services

Grazed from TechTarget.  Author:  Stephen J. Bigelow.

Public cloud computing services offers organizations the opportunity to realize many of the advantages offered by private clouds, but without many of the costs. There are, however, drawbacks to public cloud options that could outweigh the potential cost savings for companies. This tip explains the benefits and potential disadvantages of public clouds...

Upcoming Online Experiences - Cloud advances will connect people like never before.

Grazed from SIGNALOnline.  Author:  Rita Boland.

The future of the Internet is beginning to take shape as Web 3.0 capabilities become available for everyday lives in both personal and professional capacities. But as technology continues to blaze forward at blinding rates, the opportunities for innovators to affect that future abound. Leaders of major companies agree on some of the trends consumers can expect to experience, but they also have their own ideas about how their organizations will shape, and fit into, the new digital landscape...

How To Integrate Cloud Computing Into Service Offerings

Grazed from CRN.  Author:  Pete Malcom.

I just saw a TV ad where a mother solved her family photo issues by “going to the cloud.” While a bit far fetched, it’s an indicator that cloud has definitely entered the mainstream and is here to stay. But the ad itself is both a testimony to the cloud value proposition and the fact that it’s an unbounded solution. Ed. note: For more information on this topic, check out 8 Questions You Need To Answer When Selling a Cloud Solution...

BlueBridge and Bluemile Join to Optimize Cloud Computing Platform

Grazed from TMCNet.com.  Author: Shamila Janakiraman.

Cleveland-based BlueBridge Networks a provider of data center services announced a multimillion-dollar joint investment with Columbus-based Bluemile, Inc. to offer the most robust, scalable and secure cloud computing platform.

Michael Marlowe, Bluemile President and co-founder, said in a release, “We are delivering a service based on our client’s demand. You pay for what you use, which makes our customization scalable. When our clients’ needs change, we change with them.”...

CumuLogic Offers Private PaaS Cloud Software

Grazed from PCWorld.  Author:  Nancy Gohring.

CumuLogic is releasing a beta version of software that lets enterprises build a private platform-as-a-service cloud for running Java applications.

The software, which CumuLogic says will help companies reduce costs associated with managing the underlying infrastructure of their private clouds, works on clouds running Cloud.com, Eucalyptus and VMware. CumuLogic is working on compatibility with OpenStack...

External and internal cloud computing strategies from the trenches

Grazed from TechTarget.  Author:  Christina Torode.

If you believe some vendors, a cloud computing strategy is as simple as turning on a service remotely -- a cloud in 30 days. It's more likely, however, to be three to five years before all the underlying governance, infrastructure and new service delivery models are put into place for a cloud computing strategy, said enterprise IT executives at the recent Gartner Catalyst Conference in San Diego...

Time to think about cloud governance

Grazed from ZDNet.  Author:  Phil Wainewright.

Very few enterprises that are adopting cloud applications and infrastructure are giving enough thought to governance. The result is a mish-mash of SaaS silos and cloud islands, with very little attention paid to data consistency and integration, and even less to policy management and oversight. This is bad enough in organisations that run all their operations in the cloud, but most enterprises are not in that happy space. The vast majority have to manage a hybrid infrastructure that encompasses large swathes of existing on-premise IT assets along with a swelling population of SaaS applications and a handful of cloud infrastructure initiatives...

I’ve been advising enterprises to put a strategy in place that looks something like the schematic above, which comes from a webinar I presented on Focus.com back in April (unfortunately the webinar is now offline). Developing a strategy along these lines at least forces you to start thinking about the issues — such as how to extend access policies from the existing enterprise infrastructure out to cloud applications; how to automate other aspects of policy management; and how to manage connections between applications, data and other resources...

Logicalis Unveils Two Cloud Centers of Excellence

Grazed from PRWeb.  Author: PR Annoucement.

Logicalis, an international provider of integrated information and communications technology (ICT) solutions and services, announced today that it has opened two Cloud Centers of Excellence based on the HP CloudSystem Matrix – one in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and the other in Irvine, California...

9th Annual Cloud Computing Expo - The Only Enterprise IT Event in 2011 Covering the Entire Scope of the Cloud Computing Spectrum

Grazed from CloudComputingExpo.com.   Author: PR Announcment.

Cloud Expo was announced on February 24, 2007, the day the term "cloud computing" was coined. That same year, the first Cloud Expo took place in New York City with 450 delegates. This coming November 7-10, 2011, Cloud Expo is returning to Santa Clara with more than 5,000 delegates and over 100 sponsors and exhibitors.

"Cloud" has become synonymous with "computing" and "software" in two short years. Cloud Expo is the new PC Expo, Comdex, and InternetWorld of our decade. By 2012, more than 50,000 delegates per year will participate in Cloud Expo worldwide...

Virtual Bridges and Savvis Partner to Deliver On-Demand Virtual Desktop Services on the Savvis Symphony Cloud Platform

Grazed from Business Wire.  Author: PR Announcement.

Virtual Bridges, Inc. and Savvis, a global leader in cloud infrastructure and hosted IT solutions for enterprises, today announced a partnership to deliver Virtual Bridges VERDE™ virtual desktop management and provisioning capabilities as an on-demand solution to organizations worldwide. Featuring online, offline and branch VDI, VERDE is proven to help organizations reduce the cost and complexity of managing desktops, while minimizing security concerns and business risk...

Fujitsu to Boost Cloud Computing Service

Grazed from TMCNet.  Author:  PR Announcement.

Fujitsu Ltd. hopes to increase sales in cloud computing business in Japan to one trillion yen in fiscal 2015, its president said Tuesday.

The company had 38 billion yen in sales from the Internet-based software and solution service in Japan in fiscal 2010 that ended in March....

Virtualization: Does Real Estate Factor In Your Cloud Computing Decision?

Grazed from TMCNet.  Author:  David Sims

Here’s a new one: When you think of cloud computing and virtualization and contemplating whether you should jump in or not, do you ever think about real estate?

Forrester (News - Alert) Research has published a report titled, “Build or Buy? The Economics of Data Center Facilities,” that looks at “current trends including power and cooling considerations, the consolidation/virtualization movement, and modular data center design,” according to this Carousel Connect blog...

Demystifying the myths of cloud computing

Grazed from DatacenterDynamics.  Author:  Penny Jones.

Myth #1 - Cloud isn’t secure 
For any cloud provider, security is always the top priority. Most companies don’t have the luxury of dedicating resources on security. Cloud uses all the same security tactics and strategies, including physical data center security, separation of the network, isolation of the server hardware, and isolation of storage that enterprise data centers have used for the last 30 years, and good providers will in fact invest a lot more...