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December 5, 2011 Robert Cathey Building a cloud that works like AWS or Google involves a complete rethink of just about every concept considered canonical in enterprise IT for the past 20 years. This is the message Randy Bias and Lew Tucker (Vice President and CTO, Cloud Computing at Cisco) delivered on the main stage CloudBeat 2011 last Wednesday.
CIO — I was looking through the program for an upcoming cloud computing conference and noted a number of sessions devoted to negotiating contracts and service level agreements (SLAs) with cloud providers. Reading the session descriptions, one cannot help but draw the conclusion that carefully crafting an SLA is fundamental to successfully using cloud computing. The sessions described at length how they would help attendees with cloud computing topics like: Definitions of uptime, availability and performance Negotiation techniques in crafting an SLA What factors to include in an SLA: virtual machines availability, response times, network latency, etc. Negotiating penalties for SLA violation Having sat through a number of discussions on the topic of SLAs, these session descriptions ineluctably brought to mind the following truth: SLAs are not about increasing availability; their purpose is to provide the basis for post-incident legal combat.
The intersection of cloud and mobile computing means the next generation of software will be available everywhere, but getting there won't be easy. Although relatively new technology, cloud implementations have been quickly adopted on the Web, and spurred innovation by coinciding with the proliferation of mobile and tablet devices. We are moving away from software that exists on our hard drives to applications that exist both in the cloud and in our pockets. The future of software is in “everywhere apps” that aren’t tied to a single device, but rather to the end user - available on any platform the user prefers. We no longer expect to go to the software - we expect the software to come to us. Turn and Face the Strain...
June 23, 2011, 12:18 PM — It may not be the reason someone named it Cloud Computing, but the truth is there's more smoke and uncertainty in the highly abstracted, distributed, shared-resource model of computing than almost anything else in IT right now. (BTW, higher concentrations of smoke and mirrors can be found mostly in the neighborhood of certain high-vision, low-detail IT-vendor CEOs and evangelists.) Some of the uncertainty is inherent in a technology specifically designed to hide the servers and storage from users and lie to the hardware about what is running on it and where everything is. On a physical server a sysadmin knows the boot sequence that supports a specific app and how well the OS microkernel and server firmware get along. In the cloud you're lucky if you know where your data is physically stored and whether the app you're using even lives in your time zone.
June 16, 2011, 2:01 PM — The pitfalls of outsourcing to the cloud Don't wan't to deal with their own IT department? Then they have to deal with someone else's IT department. A customer/provider relationship is very different than supervisor/employee or interdepartmental one. The provider can choose to stop taking the customer's money and tell him to go away.
Microsoft has served up another apology for the unreliability of its cloud after burning converts to its BPOS collaboration service by killing their email. Dave Thompson, corporate vice president for Microsoft's online services, has been telling customers who've gone " all in " on Microsoft's BPOS cloud that he's really "sorry for the inconvenience" that they've suffered. Customers on BPOS in the US and worldwide were kicked off their hosted Exchange email systems, being unable to read, write, or access their messages. All users were affected – from down in the cubicle farm all the way up to the CEO's corner office. The outages started Tuesday and came after weeks of the service slowly degrading.
I do not envy the small business owner who has to make sense of the broad terms that are used to describe technology infrastructure. The cloud is abstract enough. But the term "private cloud" is even worse. Luckily, it's a phrase that looks to have seen its day in the limelight.
April 29, 2011 Now that we have fully restored functionality to all affected services, we would like to share more details with our customers about the events that occurred with the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (“EC2”) last week, our efforts to restore the services, and what we are doing to prevent this sort of issue from happening again. We are very aware that many of our customers were significantly impacted by this event, and as with any significant service issue, our intention is to share the details of what happened and how we will improve the service for our customers.
Blocks and Files Cirtas is cutting back its cloud storage activities as it finds businesses are not taking to storing primary data in the public cloud as ducks might take to water. Think about it. I'm a business and I'm being besieged by suppliers telling me I need to cut the latency applications endure when reading or writing primary data, the blocks or files on the fastest disks needed straight away. This is what is sparking the move to using solid state drives (SSDs) instead of hard drives, and also the use of flash caches between memory and the hard drives.
I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve warned about the potential impact of a catastrophic outage on these pages and yet that is exactly what happened last week at Amazon’s East Coast node. The knock on effect impacted hundreds of services and many thousands of customers. On the one hand you can say it is a great advert for the fact Amazon is shaking up the world of Internet infrastructure provision. Its financials certainly point towards a business model set to grow well over the coming months and years and in which Amazon is prepared to place large bets. On the other hand it is a terrible advert for those who didn’t/couldn’t understand the demands of building out a scalable architecture based upon Amazon’s infrastructure. If you are a professional advising clients on using SaaS then this is important.
So many cloud pundits are piling on to the misfortunes of Amazon Web Services this week as a response to the massive failures in the AWS Virginia region. If you think this week exposed weakness in the cloud, you don't get it: it was the cloud's shining moment, exposing the strength of cloud computing. In short, if your systems failed in the Amazon cloud this week, it wasn't Amazon's fault. You either deemed an outage of this nature an acceptable risk or you failed to design for Amazon's cloud computing model. The strength of cloud computing is that it puts control over application availability in the hands of the application developer and not in the hands of your IT staff, data center limitations, or a managed services provider.
Oracle's sales increased 37% to $8.76 billion last quarter, according to Bloomberg . Cloud computing gets some of the credit for the revenue jump, causing a surge of interest in Oracle's databases and a 29% gain in new license sales. Earlier this year David Linthicum wrote a post titled " Amazon's Oracle move shows open source won't gain in the cloud " in response to Amazon Web Services offering Oracle Databases on RDS . EnterpriseDB CEO Ed Boyajian disagrees. EnterpriseDB provides commercial support and management tools for PostGRES databases.
Forrester released two reports on cloud-based e-mail this week: one on selecting a provider , and another on migrating to the cloud . Although Forrester doesn't recommend any specific providers, the firm does cite three areas to consider when comparing providers. For the migration report, Forrester looked at the lessons learned by major companies that have moved to the cloud. For example, GlaxoSmithKline moved about 90,000 users to Microsoft Online. Choosing a Provider Forrester cites three areas to consider when differentiating providers: