How Lean is your Cloud


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One of the things I have talked about quite a bit in the last couple of months is the disjoint between the needs of enterprise IT and the offerings of a wide swath of the cloud marketplace. Some times it seems like many cloud vendors are telling customers “here’s what we choose to offer you, deal with it”. Problem is, oftentimes what they’re offering is not what the enterprise needs. There are of course some great examples of how to do cloud for the enterprise, Rackspace (among others) has done a smashing job of offering users a server with added services to install a database or web server on those servers. There are still some security concerns that the enterprise needs to address, but at least it’s a solid start toward giving IT the option of using the cloud in the same manner that they use VMs. Microsoft has done a good job of setting up databases that follow a... (more)

Private Clouds: Old Wine in a New Bottle

I recently read a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report about cloud computing, and they described private clouds as "old wine in a new bottle." I think they nailed it! The report points out that a typical private cloud set-up looks much the same as the infrastructure components currently found in a corporate data center, with virtualization added to the mix. While the virtualization provides somewhat better server utilization, the elasticity and efficiency available in the public cloud has private clouds beat by a mile. In short, the term "private cloud" is usually just a buzzword for virtualized internal environments that have been around for years. By replicating existing data center architectures, they also recreate the same cost and maintenance issues that cloud computing aims to alleviate. Despite their limitations, there is still a lot of industry talk about c... (more)

Why IT Needs to Take Control of Public Cloud Computing

IT organizations that fail to provide guidance for and governance over public cloud computing usage will be unhappy with the results… While it is highly unlikely that business users will “control their own destiny” by provisioning servers in cloud computing environments that doesn’t mean they won’t be involved. In fact it’s likely that IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) cloud computing environments will be leveraged by business users to avoid the hassles they perceive (and oft times actually do) exist in their quest to deploy a given business application. It’s just that they won’t themselves be pushing the buttons. There have been many experts that have expounded upon the ways in which cloud computing is forcing a shift within IT and the way in which assets are provisioned, acquired, and managed. One of those shifts is likely to also occur “outside” of IT with exter... (more)

A Formula for Just in Time Provisioning in the Cloud

One of the ways in which traditional architectures and deployment models is actually superior (yes, I said superior) to cloud computing is in provisioning.  Before you label me a cloud heretic, let me explain. In traditional deployment models capacity is generally allocated based on anticipated peaks in demand. Because the time to acquire, deploy, and integrate hardware into the network and application infrastructure this process is planned for and well-understood, and the resources required are in place before they are needed. In cloud computing, the benefit is that the time required to acquire those resources is contracted to virtually nothing, making capacity planning much more difficult. The goal is just-in-time provisioning – resources are not provisioned until you are sure you’re going to need them because part of the value proposition of cloud and highly vi... (more)

Gartner’s Cloud Numbers Don’t Add Up (Again!)

Once again, Gartner has publicized entirely useless and (worse) misleading numbers on the global market for cloud computing services.  Their numbers from last year were disputed by me (here, and here) and several others, yet they kept to their fataly flawed methodology for the 2010 update.  This is despite at least one of the analysts who’s name appears on the report privately agreeing with me that last years numbers were “rubbish” and that they were pressured into using this methodology. The press release cited above indicates that “cloud services revenue is forecast to reach $68.3 billion in 2010…”  My primary question is “Hey Gartner, what color is the sky in your world?”  Or perhaps it should be “What have you been smoking?” I should point out at this point that someone totally unrelated to this blog or my job recently handed me a copy of the complete Dataquest ... (more)

Beyond the Cloud

Last week I read a good article on cloud computing, Cloud ROI: A Grounded View.  It seems that even with all the hype (or because of it?) most are not “running blindly” to adopt “the cloud”.  I must admit the cloud metaphor has a powerful poetic charm to it.  That is probably why it has grabbed the attention of so many over the past few years. Everything in our world is ephemeral, so there is an aptness to the concept of a “cloud”. Moreover, I too like and use cloud analogies. But I am now looking for clearer skies!  Here is a short list of my gripes about "the cloud": What does “cloud computing” mean? It isn’t at all clear! Here is some data: CIO magazine cites a Forrester report that says "the number one challenge in cloud computing today is determining what it really is". CIO also reported on a McKinsey study that "found 22 separate definitions of cloud computing"... (more)

Cloud Computing Pragmatics

In October of 2009 I was interviewed by GovIT Journal and in that article I presented my view that   The actual quote given was, “Which just goes to show, the telco providers still hold all this stuff by the balls!”  More than ever, based on my work over the past four months as Merlin International’s Chief Architect, I still believe this is a critical and pertinent factor regardless of your Cloud Computing architecture. Indeed, I have relished these past few months because they have presented me with the opportunity to delve deep into the muscle tissue of Cloud Computing.  One of Merlin’s key areas of success has been in providing networking and data center hardware and software.   While many architects can talk a good game about Cloud Computing, few have actually walked the stack top to bottom and actually touched the underbelly of the beast.  Shoot, I even became... (more)

MVC for the Cloud

While planning for a talk at Cloud Expo Europe a few weeks ago I was thinking about appropriate metaphors for the way APIs are changing the web. Although the title was APIs as glue for the Cloud, I think the core metaphor behind it deserves some explanation: MVC for the Cloud. I thought I'd add some notes here as to what this might mean. MVC or Model View Controller is an architectural pattern for software that seperates out three import things - Models (or Data), Views (visualisation of that data) and Controllers (operations on the data). Since it's invention at Xerox Parc in the late 70's, MVC has a had a huge impact on software engineering and nowhere more so that on Web Applications - there are MVC frameworks for almost every Web programming language and framework out there. What I'd call "1st generation" MVC was applied to desktop applications and gave great n... (more)

Foursquare “Lifts” Mobile Advertising Legitimacy

The Mobile Proof Presence (MPOP) checkin game is white-hot and set to explode. In a relatively short amount of time, most people (with an iPhone, at least)  know what a “checkin” is and the most popular checkin platform (Foursquare) is adding 15,000 people per day! Foursquare is chasing 2 Million users, each opting-in to broadcast the details of their location-based interactions with real businesses in the context of their larger trusted social networks. This is no longer a fad. This is real and could finally be the legitimizing “lift” mobile advertising has long been looking for. Thanks to checkins, realtime social network updates are no longer just static, general “What you are doing?” posts. They now convey “What are you doing, where are you, and who are you there with.” While this has certainly been a fast-moving location-based social media phenomenon, the real... (more)

Data Center Consolidation and Cloud Computing in Indonesia

2010 brings great opportunities and challenges to IT organizations in Indonesia. Technology refresh, aggressive development of telecom and Internet infrastructure, with aggressive deployment of “eEverything” is shaking the ICT industry. Even the most steadfast division-level IT managers are beginning to recognize the futility in trying to maintain their own closet “data center” in a world of virtualization, cloud computing, and drive to increase both data center economics and data security. Of course there are very good models on the street for data center consolidation, particularly on government levels. In the United States, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) lists data center consolidation as the second highest priority, immediately after getting better control over managing budget and operational cost. In March the Australian g... (more)

Give Your Unstructured Data the Meyers-Briggs

For those who don’t know, according to the Meyers & Briggs Foundation, part of the Meyers-Briggs Assessment is defined as: The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent… The same can be said about your data. Much that is seemingly random is consistent and predictable. One of the problems currently facing the enterprise is to properly categorize that data so that its “personality” is well known. You cannot sort (or tier) what you don’t know, and this is a simple proposal for how you might begin such a categorization. No matter what your organization does, it has a variety of data in a variety of types with a variety of attributes that can be built into indices to help you understand not only what you have, but how much of it you have, what its relative importance is to the organization, and... (more)