Author Archives: CloudTweaks

Infographic: Debugging Applications, the Silent Resource Drain

Infographic: Debugging Applications, the Silent Resource Drain

Debugging Applications

The way most companies today are boosting competitiveness and relevance is by focusing on being as nimble as possible. Amazon pushes new code countless times a day, so do Google, Facebook, Uber and many others. Forward looking software developer leaders understand that to deliver innovation to customers they must effectively manage entire SaaS application lifecycles across a diverse range of infrastructures, a process that begins with identifying and eliminating bugs as early as possible so that teams can focus on adding end-user value.

Testing is a crucial part of an application’s lifecycle, but it’s inherently challenging to ensure that tests done in development will mirror what happens in production. A recent survey from ClusterHQ uncovered that 60% of developer team members spend up to half their day debugging errors, instead of developing new features—proving that debugging is a huge resource drain for DevOps team.

Why are bugs in production so commonplace?

A deeper look are the challenges around application testing showed that recreating production environments was cited as the leading cause of bugs appearing in production. This challenge was followed closely by interdependence on external systems that makes integration testing cumbersome, which leads into the third most cited challenge: testing against unrealistic data. At present, data is difficult to move between all the places that it is needed, including in test infrastructure. As a result, unrealistic, mock data sets are often used to test applications. However, these unrealistic data sets cannot prepare applications for all real world variables, and thus cause serious, expensive, and time consuming issues down the line.

The infographic below outlines additional key findings.

Debugging Applications

By Glenn Blake

3 Reasons SaaS Providers Must Have An App Store

3 Reasons SaaS Providers Must Have An App Store

SaaS Providers and APIs

In the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry, building an app store has moved from “nice to have” to a requirement. Most SaaS providers who go this route use application programming interfaces (API) to integrate with third-party apps. It has become the dominant way to exert some enterprise control over the apps employees get from sources outside the enterprise.

A Forrester Research report found that enterprise-specific apps were among the top five app categories by usage, but a report by Appboy found less than 25 percent of people return to an app the day after they initially install it. SaaS providers need to avoid becoming this statistic – having their apps downloaded and then not used beyond the first day. That’s why they keep beating the API drum.

However, simply stitching one app to another or to an enterprise doesn’t instantly grant increased usage. Employees aren’t motivated to use an integration just because it exists. Moreover, apps aren’t as standardized as one might hope. A Netskope survey has revealed that of the roughly 500 apps used in enterprises, 88 percent of them don’t meet enterprise readiness. In addition, 81 percent of data downloaded occurred in apps with no encryption of data at rest.

While it’s a given that cloud apps are being used in nearly every enterprise today, safe cloud enablement is by no means a ‘one-size fits all’ solution,” said Sanjay Beri, founder and chief executive officer at Netskope.

So, What’s a SaaS to Do?

To better serve enterprise customers, SaaS providers need to go beyond API integration into an ecosystem for their application. Essentially, they need their own app store.

An enterprise app store is essentially an online place where end users can access, download and install corporate-approved apps. These apps can include a mix of internally-built apps from the SaaS provider, its customers, or third-party apps from popular external app stores.

A SaaS Provider Case

SaaS Providers

For example, an enterprise file synch and share (EFSS) SaaS provider wants to helps its IT customers enforce content security and compliance. But, such a SaaS provider also needs to ensure better collaboration and productivity are selling points. In this way, all users win. IT gets the content security and governance it demands across the enterprise. Meanwhile, users see improved collaboration and productivity without security mechanisms getting in the way.

But, today third-party apps have gone from trickling into the enterprise to flooding it. Content is running amok and the EFSS solution can’t plug the gaps. SaaS providers have had to figure out a way to more closely integrate popular apps with core EFSS solutions. Having corporate-sanctioned apps that deeply integrate into the EFSS SaaS vendor’s product, well beyond what APIs can do, resolves this. From here, there are a few benefits.

Increase Visibility and Usage of Integrated Products

IT management might be able to peer into which content moved from its enterprise storage through an app and to where. This kind of insight is not just crucial for overarching content security and governance, it’s now vital business insight too. Organizations can glean valuable information about if content is being consumed as desired.

Every organization wants to be the center of attention with their employees, customers, partners and vendors. Apps can become a valuable medium for this. People interact with apps on average several hours a day. Building your own app store is a great way to sustain visibility with core audiences. Your app store can solicit app feedback and ratings just like big third-party apps stores do. This helps foster participation in your app community. It can help you stand out from the competition and increase loyalty, and more.

Provide a Unified Experience for Users that IT Can Control 

While securing and controlling content is an IT department’s primary concern, an enterprise user’s primary concern is just getting the job done with a good app. Often, this means a third-party app.

So, the SaaS provider must unify a user’s content experience, regardless of the device or app they prefer to use for the task at hand. This means creating corporate-sanctioned apps users favor. Obviously, this requires partnerships with popular enterprise app vendors.

Attract Partners and Build on Your Platform  

In the end, an app store is as good as the apps it offers. So, ensuring participation from other app providers will be crucial. The ecosystem should provide for high quality partner apps whose functionality is woven into the fabric of the SaaS platform at a molecular level.

Our hypothetical EFSS SaaS provider might need to support apps for document creation, sharing and editing. It might also be good to have apps for capturing signatures or other approval mechanisms, and a host of other related apps. In this case, direct integration with third party apps ultimately allows seamless and secure content access and visibility via the EFSS platform.

It’s Just How Business is Done

While APIs have blossomed in providing some form of app control for the enterprise, for SaaS vendors it’s no longer enough. They need to anchor an ecosystem for their application with an app store that provides best-in-class support for desktop, online and mobile app platforms. With the right app ecosystem, a SaaS provider can more closely unify their solution with the apps their IT customers need to support.

A successfully executed SaaS app store hinges on a SaaS provider’s ability to attract app partners to build on its platform. But with these challenges met, the SaaS provider and app providers can deliver value-added integration to IT customers while helping their IT customers create a unified and smooth experience for the end users who just want to work.

By Ronen Vengosh, Vice President of Business Development at Egnyte

A Resilient Cloud Strategy: Standardize or Diversify?

A Resilient Cloud Strategy: Standardize or Diversify?

A Resilient Cloud Strategy

Over the past few years, I have seen IT organizations adopt cloud in very different ways. Some organizations prefer to standardize their cloud infrastructure to drive efficiencies in their data centers. As a result, they eventually reduce the number of suppliers across their entire IT value chain. Conversely, other organizations adopt a ‘best of breed’ approach and tend to put in place complex and heterogeneous IT environments that enable them to optimize their IT infrastructure for the specific applications they need to run.

For example, a large enterprise – whose CIO recently visited our executive briefing center – runs their backend ERP system in their data centers; they rely on public cloud providers primarily for a portion of their office productivity applications. They also have multiple LoB applications running in their self-managed on-premises private cloud. Additionally, they have deployed a large portion of their customer-facing billing applications in a hosted private cloud environment managed by a large system integrator. This type of mix of environments to suite different business needs is typical in the organizations I have worked with.

As organizations continue to increase their appetite for cloud services, do we expect senior IT decision makers to increase or decrease their choice of cloud providers? We asked IDC to help us understand these trends on a global scale and we sponsored a broad cloud market research study, which was completed earlier this year. The market study highlighted important findings. 

Organizations with Advanced Cloud Strategies Use Multiple Cloud Providers

Diversify, Diversify, Diversify. I know just common sense you may think … We see this principle being applied by smart investors (they diversify their investment portfolio to better manage risk across a number of possible and unpredictable market conditions.) We also see the same principle applied when selecting suppliers (for example to increase your bargaining power.) We can all think of other examples I am sure. So you may wonder, why would we expect the thinking behind the formulation of cloud strategies to be radically different?

The use of multiple cloud providers is another hallmark of mature cloud organizations. The most mature organizations expect to be able to choose from multiple cloud providers based on location, policies, and governance principles. This was one of the key findings of the IDC study.

More interestingly, as organizations get better regarding their ability to extract maximum value from their cloud environments their appetite to consume cloud services from multiple cloud providers grows. In fact, 84% of organizations with ‘optimized’ cloud strategies expect to choose from multiple cloud providers. Similarly, organizations with more mature cloud strategies are more likely to have implemented collaborative business and IT governance to define cloud management policies and SLAs. 

The Challenge

However, multicloud environments can increase complexity. The challenge many organizations face is that of being able to manage and orchestrate that diverse portfolio of cloud-based applications. And this where we can help.

Specifically, Cisco CloudCenter™ is an application-centric hybrid cloud management platform that securely provisions infrastructure resources and deploys applications to data center, private cloud, and public cloud environments.

With our Cisco CloudCenter application-centric technology, you can:

  • Model: Quickly and easily build a cloud-independent application profile that defines the deployment and management requirements of an entire application stack.
  • Deploy: Use one click to deploy the application profile and related components and data to any data center or cloud environment.
  • Manage: Apply a wide range of application lifecycle actions to set policies to enable in-place scaling, support cross-environment bursting or high availability and disaster recovery, and stop the deployment.

Cisco CloudCenter administration and governance capabilities span applications, clouds, and users. Administrators can centrally manage cloud accounts, better control costs with financial plans, and report on use. They can also manage tenants and users and provide tag-based governance and role-based access control (RBAC). If you focus on the application, you can tailor IT services to meet the unique needs of your users. With an application-centric service model – IT stays in the loop wherever workloads are deployed.

All of this helps IT organizations pursue a well-diversified and hybrid IT strategy that includes IT as a service (ITaaS), automated DevOps or continuous delivery, temporary capacity augmentation, and permanent application migration capabilities. And if you need help navigate the multicloud maze our Cisco Cloud Professional Services portfolio can provide additional guidance and reduce your risk profile.

Originally published on November 29th, 2016

By Enrico Fuiano, Senior Solutions Marketing Manager, Cisco Cloud Marketing

Autonomous Vehicles – Are European Drivers Ready To Go Driverless?

Autonomous Vehicles – Are European Drivers Ready To Go Driverless?

Driverless Autonomous Vehicles

Technology is progressing so fast that we are able to now do things that were never thought possible. We can step inside of our cars and relax while the car drives itself. These are called autonomous vehicles (AV’s), and are certainly the future.

One of the biggest tire manufacturers on the planet, Goodyear, decided they wanted to know more about this emerging industry. They decided to collaborate with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) on a study. They study would find out European’s attitudes towards driverless cars via an online survey in 11 different countries and a focus group in 4 countries.

The results of the study seem to be largely mixed. One on side, respondents believed that AV’s would likely be safer and that accidents would be lowered because most are caused by human error. However, a majority of respondents said they wouldn’t be comfortable being driven around and would want to maintain some kind of control and would worry about the car malfunctioning. Overall, it seems like people can see the benefits of driverless cars, but simply don’t know enough about them or how they would work to feel totally comfortable with relinquishing all control to the AVs.

To the General Director of the Goodyear Innovation Center, Carlos Cipollitti, the results were not too surprising:

AVs are coming. Understanding how drivers experience the road today and how they feel AVs should fit in is crucial. Goodyear is exploring some of the key areas that are shaping the future of mobility. We hope that the insights generated by this research will help all relevant stakeholders to work together towards a successful introduction of AVs.

This study was a part of the ThinkGoodMobility platform that Goodyear has. This platform is looking to the future and analyzing the relationship between cars and their drivers. It also aims to look at smart and sustainable mobility. However, the existence of AV’s is more than just a new technology, as Dr. Chris Tennant of the LSE explains:

AVs are not simply another new technology. They are emerging in an intensely social space with a wide range of factors influencing the public’s levels of openness towards them.”

Driverless Autonomous Vehicles

(Infographic Source: Goodyear/Marketwired)

The 11 countries that were included in the study were: Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Serbia, France, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. Of these countries, those from the Netherlands and Italy seemed the least concerned about the possible drawbacks of AVs, while those from the Czech Republic were the most concerns. Nations such as Poland and France were on the fence as they showed some belief in the technology, but also some concern as well.

By Kale Havervold

IIA Report Infographic: Mobile Shopping Statistics

IIA Report Infographic: Mobile Shopping Statistics

Mobile Shopping Statistics

The internet has been blowing up in recent years and offering people things they never thought possible. Not only that, but a new report from the Internet Innovation Alliance says mobile shopping can save you a ton of money too.

In fact, the report has indicated that the average American family can save more than $11,000 a year on household spending thanks to the internet. This is due to the fact that there are many significant opportunities to save money on the internet, especially around the holidays. Certified financial planner Nicholas Delgado says “Getting caught up in the holiday spirit doesn’t mean you have to overspend on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, to name a few,” said Delgado. “Thankfully, broadband delivers a significant return on investment with valuable opportunities for deal comparison, group-buying, and online-only discounts that make it easier to stick to a budget…

Since 2010, the IIA has recorded savings that are internet-enabled in a number of different categories. Their data comes from the annual Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The possible savings have skyrocketed from around $7000 in 2010, to well over $11,000 this year. You can find big savings on anything from clothing, to apparel, to health insurance and more.

The biggest savings are in the areas of entertainment, housing and automotive. The report found that you can save upwards of $3,000 in each of these categories.  (Included is an infographic by the IIA providing a further breakdown)

Mobile Shopping Statistics

Compared to IIA’s financial analysis last year, the greatest increases in savings opportunities emerged in Housing (23.50% in 2015, compared to 16.53% in 2014) and News (54.05% in 2015, compared to 39.29% in 2014). However, the percentage of savings on food (12.65% in 2015, compared to 25.68% in 2014), apparel (44.84% in 2015, compared to 62.55% in 2014) and gasoline (2.05% in 2015, compared to 12.28% in 2014) dipped. Of note, in 2015 spending on gasoline decreased by 15.32%, down from $2,468.00 the year prior.

Holiday season is spending season — from buying presents to traveling for vacations and family visits,” commented IIA Co-Chairman Jamal Simmons. “Luckily, savvy use of broadband tools can help families get more for their money.” Of the 180 million U.S. adults expecting to shop Black Friday week through Cyber Monday this year, 114 million plan to shop online and 70 percent will use mobile devices, according to a new Consumer Technology Association (CTA) survey.

Simmons added, “Encouraging investment in 5G technology that will extend broadband to all Americans, from urban centers to rural areas, should be a top priority for policymakers...”

These are impressive numbers and are surely to only keep rising in the coming years as more people flock to using the internet to save money.

Kale Havervold

Sports Data Analytics and the National Hockey League (NHL)

Sports Data Analytics and the National Hockey League (NHL)

Sport Data Analytics

Sports teams are always looking to get ahead of the competition. Winning doesn’t come easy and many different decisions go into making sure you are successful. Decisions like what players to draft, who to trade, and style of coaching all can help a team win.

However, when Billy Beane of the Oakland A’s came along, things were about to change. In the mid-1990’s, Beane used sabermetrics to determine the value, making him the first to prioritize advanced statistical data in predicting player performance. The method worked and saved the team money as they had one of the smallest budgets in the league, but were one of the best teams. He is not the first to ever use analytics in sports, but he is the one who brought it to the mainstream.

Due to the success of Beane and the Oakland A’s, other teams in various different leagues took notice. As a result, almost every professional sports team has a department or individual in charge of analytics.

Hockey is one of the newest sports to get into the sports data analytics bandwagon. While bloggers and amateur statisticians have been using data analysis in hockey for a while, it is finally coming to the forefront. Teams are finally adopting these methods and even the NHL officially partnered with SAP SE in order to create and enhanced and more diverse stat package for their website.

Sports Data AnalyticsThere are different advanced stats that each league uses and the NHL focuses on three in particular. They are Corsi, Fenwick and PDO. Corsi looks at the sum of shots on goal (including misses and blocked shots). This is used to approximate a players puck possession. Fenwick is similar, but it doesn’t look at blocked shots and is viewed to have a stronger correlation to scoring chances. PDO is the sum of a team’s shooting percentage and its save percentage. This is basically a way to see how “lucky” a team is as most teams will regress to a sum of 100.

But despite the proven success of these stats and their widespread use in many sports, many players aren’t a fan of them. For instance, Drew Doughty (one of the best Corsi scores in the NHL) said that the method is “a bunch of crap”. Many players share his testaments as they are use to goals and assists measuring their success, not their shot percentage and even-strength shot differential.

But whether they like it or not, using advanced metrics and stats to judge players is likely here to stay. In fact, Florida Panthers let go of their head coach Gerard Gallant who often spoke openly against analytics usage (something which the Panthers want to use heavily going forward).

 “The Panthers’ ownership and other team officials want the club to rely heavily on advanced statistics, and Gallant and Kelly were not the biggest fans of the analytics craze. They spoke openly about how their views differed from the perspective of Florida’s management on the analytics issue in August 2015, at a fundraising event hosted by the University of Prince Edward Island…”

Many different NHL teams have made personnel hiring decisions recently that show they are adapting to the changes in the sport. The Toronto Maple Leafs hired Kyle Dubas as their assistant GM, and numerous other teams have brought on bloggers and advanced stats pioneers like Sunny Mehta and Tyler Dellow. However, not everything is peaches and cream for these guys as the Canadiens let go of their analytics man (Matt Pfeffer) after he advised them to not trade P.K Subban to the Predators.

If you are interested in learning more about these advanced stats for players and teams, there are a number of different sites that you can visit. These sites will give you a deeper understanding about the value of a player or an inside look at how the teams are doing.

Some recommended sites are: stats.hockeyanalysis, behindthenet.capuckalytics.com and sportlogiq.com are just a few of them.

By Kale Havervold

CloudTweaks Comics
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