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Business Agility Of Cloud Computing

Business Agility Of Cloud Computing

Business Agility of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a fresh approach to IT operations. In companies with non-agile IT organizations there is misunderstanding between IT managers and stakeholders. IT finds that money and skill sets are the problems while stakeholders feel that there is a lack of infrastructure and technology to meet the ever increasing needs of companies. The solution is simple; a private cloud that applies virtualization, automation and self service which will help improve business agility.

Business agility is one of the main reasons why enterprises are pursuing private clouds. In a survey done by IDC’s U.S. Private IT Cloud Systems Management in July 2011, 91% of enterprises listed improve business agility as a top goal. In addition to improved business agility, controlling IT capital and operational costs, improving application performance and availability, controlling IT head count and improving IT’s relationship with business were also goals for enterprises.

Because this way of storing information allows users to share and scale IT resources across workloads and user groups, cloud computing helps improve performance and availability of information. By enabling a self-service based system, cloud computing reduces IT operational costs and improves business performance.

Dell is a company that provides cloud computing solutions and allows companies to apply things like software patches, security updates and OS levels through their cloud computing solutions. By using cloud computing, companies can shorten the deployment time from days, weeks, or months to minutes or hours by allowing end users to request resources directly though self-service tools.

Cloud computing can improve business agility in many different industries. For example, healthcare professionals are in the middle of a huge change where the government has required them to update their electronic medical health records (EMR). This change was implemented to decrease the risk of accidental risks and lawsuits though sharing information that is the same and accessible across many different platforms and organizations. With so many hospitals, healthcare institutes and insurance companies across the country, important information about patients past medial history can get lost along the way when all of these enterprises are storing information differently. For all of this information to come together on a unified front, an IT department needs to transfer EMR records from paper-based file systems to computerized physicians order entry (CPOE). The healthcare industry as a whole can improve quality care though cloud computing by having the ability to share a patient’s medical record with any clinician, insurance company or hospital in the country.

In other industries besides healthcare like public-sectors, schools and banks, companies are already investing in private cloud solutions. Their current IT solutions that have been designed for physical and virtual resource operations are not capable of handling the real-time, flexible demands like cloud computing.

Self-service provisioning, automation, and workload mobility management are all results of cloud computing. As technologies increase, enterprise customers increase the number of users and services supported by cloud infrastructure and services which is why it’s becoming even more important for the future.

By David Borg

David works with Dell. When he is not working, he enjoys spending time with his children. If you’re looking for more information on Dell virtualization, David recommends you check out this link to find out more. 

The Private Cloud Strikes Back

The Private Cloud Strikes Back

Having read JP Rangaswami’s argument against private clouds (and the obvious promotion of his version of cloud) I have only to say that he’s looking for oranges in an apple tree.  His entire premise is based on the idea that enterprises are wholly concerned with cost and sharing risk when that can’t be farther from the truth.  Yes, cost is indeed a factor as is sharing risk but a bigger and more important factor facing the enterprise today is agility and flexibility…something that monolithic leviathan-like enterprise IT systems of today definitely are not. He then jumps from cost to social enterprise as if there is a causal relationship there when, in fact, they are two separate discussions.  I don’t doubt that if you are a consumer (not just customer) facing organization, it’s best to get on that social enterprise bandwagon but if your main concern is how to better equip and provide the environment and tools necessary to innovate within your organization, the whole social thing is a red herring for selling you things that you don’t need.

Traditional status quo within IT is deeply encumbered by mostly manual processes—optimized for people carrying out commodity IT tasks such as provisioning servers and OSes—that cannot be optimized any further, therefore a different, much better way had to be found.  That way is the private cloud which takes those commodity IT tasks and elevates them to automated and orchestrated, well defined workflows and then utilizes a policy-driven system to carry them out.  Whether these workflows are initiated by a human or as a result of a specific set of monitored criteria, the system dynamically creates and recreates itself based on actual business and performance need—something that is almost impossible to translate into the public cloud scenario.

Not that public cloud cannot be leveraged where appropriate, but the enterprise’s requirement is much more granular and specific than any public cloud can or should allow…simply to JP’s point that they must share the risk among many players and that risk is generic by definition within the public cloud.  Once you start creating one-off specific environments, the commonality is lost and it loses the cost benefits because now you are simply utilizing a private cloud whose assets are owned by someone else…sound like co-lo?

Finally, I wouldn’t expect someone whose main revenue source is based on the idea that a public cloud is better than a private cloud to say anything different than what JP has said, but I did expect some semblance of clarity as to where his loyalties lie…and it looks like it’s not with the best interests of the enterprise customer.

By Trevor Williamson / GreenPages Technology Solutions

Cloud Startup News: Top Startups Emerge from Summer Expo at Plug and Play

Cloud Startup News: Top Startups Emerge from Summer Expo at Plug and Play

Top Tech Startups 

Competition is fierce in the tech startup space yet few venues showcase new talent quite like Plug and Play’s quarterly EXPO. Last Thursday, over 500 attendees poured into Plug and Play Tech Center’s Sunnyvale headquarters to watch new tech startups compete. The event also featured a VC Panel with Ajay Agarwal, Jim Barnett, Kamran Elahian and Sumeet Jain. Robert Goldberg of Zynga gave the keynote and VIP judges hailed from companies like Adobe, Cisco, GoDaddy.com, Honda, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Warner Brothers and Yahoo!.

Harold Lee, Music Prodigy

“Imagine what American Idol would look like if it were looking for the best tech startups instead of pop singers; that’s pretty much what Plug and Play’s EXPO is,” said Saeed Amidi, CEO and Co-Founder of the startup accelerator Plug and Play Tech Center. “We look for entrepreneurs from all over the world, they submit their companies, we choose thirty of the best, they audition before our audience, and our judges vote to decide who wins.”

This year’s Summer EXPO winners are the mobile music learning platform Music Prodigy – whose founder, Hreold Lee, wowed the audience with his electric guitar playing – Seattle based mobile sales platform OfferUp and the big data analytics company Skytree.

Music Prodigy 

Sherman Oaks based Music Prodigy is a self-proclaimed “Gamified Rosetta Stone for Music.” As it says Music Prodigy’s site, “Our mission is to create more music, by creating more musicians… by making learning music easier, faster and more fun. – We are a young company. It had to be that way. The technology, processing power, algorithms… they didn’t exist before. And now that they do, we are not stopping with just guitar.”

OfferUp 

OfferUp’s creators sought to make the process of buying and selling goods frictionless, fast and mobile. By offering a simple selling solution, they’re helping people answer the question, “what do I do with all of the stuff I’m not using?” While presenting onstage at Summer EXPO, company President and CEO, Nick Huzar used the last thirty seconds at the end of his presentation to showcase OfferUp by taking a picture of Plug and Play’s EXPO podium and offering it for sale on his platform.

SkyTree 

San Jose based Skytree is in the business of machine learning – the science of discovering patterns and making predictions from complex data. Skytree’s product is designed to help companies make sense of everything from retail and marketing to pharmaceuticals and astronomy. When asked about his experience with EXPO, Skytree CEO and Co-Founder Martin Hack said, “Plug and Play EXPO is fantastic, not only for the Silicon Valley but for the entire startup community.”

The Competition at EXPO

This year’s competition included 27 other new startups like the social gifting company BeeBox, viral marketing platform Brandvocat and Gen4Web an upcoming social mobile game developer founded by fifteen-year-old Stanford hopeful Eric Manalac.

“There are two reasons why EXPO is great,” says Alireza Masour, Plug and Play’s Vice President of Technology Investments, “one is that it gives entrepreneurs with new ideas a chance to showcase their startups, and two – you never know what you’re going to find. You may find the next Mark Zuckerberg. You may help launch a new technology that will change people’s lives. The possibilities are endless.”

By Jennifer L. Jacobson, Plug and Play Tech Center

In-House Or Outsource – Your Data Center Infrastructure?

Outsourcing data center infrastructure

Setting up your own data center is expensive in terms of money, time and deployment of human resources but it is more efficient to outsource this service, which will save your company costs and allow the business to focus on core competencies.

According to WiseGEEK answers, infrastructure outsourcing is a subcontracting service in which the management of an organization’s IT systems and applications are handled by a third party. This service enables enterprises to achieve high performance, to cut costs and sustain profitability.

Besides reducing costs, IT infrastructure outsourcing provides a management model that allows organizations to move away from complex and inefficient IT environments and build IT capabilities that are more agile, reliable and responsive to their business models. The management of a company’s IT infrastructure and applications is often done from a remote location. Some customers choose local providers, while others prefer to outsource offshore.

What should be considered when signing an infrastructure outsourcing agreement?

  • If the management of a customer’s network routers and switches, security mechanism, desktops and peripherals, disk storage and bandwidth is also ensured by the provider, it is very important to have a clear understanding of the capabilities of the providers in-house IT department. However, the provider and the customer should collaborate in order to obtain a solution that best fits the customer’s needs and business objectives.
  • Costs. When comparing in-house data center infrastructure with outsourcing to an external hosting provider, the customer should calculate all the costs of an internal facilities and then compare these to the annual costs of external hosting. By costs of internal facilities I mean costs of licensing, maintenance, security power, connectivity, cooling, property costs, staffing resources.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, the final goal of outsourcing the data center infrastructure is to ensure the business development. Either this is done in-house, external, or through a hybrid solution, I recommend every single organization to go through a business impact analysis in order to determine the value of each process to the organisation and to establish the most appropriate solution.

By Rick Blaisdell / RicksCloud

Cloud Infographic: The Real Cost Of BYOD

Cloud Infographic: The Real Cost Of BYOD

The Real Cost Of BYOD

As employees continue to bring personal mobile devices and laptops into the workplace, most businesses have resigned themselves to dealing with the security and management headaches of the new BYOD reality. But now, with the growing popularity of cloud storage and synchronization services, companies have found themselves facing the next wave in the consumerization of IT.

Below is an interesting infographic by Xigo illustrating the potential number of Network-Connected Devices by 2015.

Infographic Source: Xigo

Unified Storage For The Cloud Means Higher-Level Interfaces

Unified Storage For The Cloud Means Higher-Level Interfaces

Unified Storage for the Cloud Means Higher-Level Interfaces

In common use, the term “unified storage” means providing block-level and file-level access to the same storage system with a single management and control interface. Traditionally, block-level access is via fiber channel or iSCSI, and file-level access is via NFS or CIFS protocol.

Recently, storage vendors are also adding _object_-level storage where the objects are entities with metadata like type, access control policies. Objects are read and written by applications using REST HTTP or SOAP and used directly at the application level. The most popular API is Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service). With the higher-abstraction level of objects, the underlying implementation (e.g., number of parts, tiered storage, etc.) is hidden even more than with block- and file-level interfaces. EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, and NetApp among others provide unified storage systems.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is bringing some different requirements for a unified storage system. Most notably, not only is the data in the cloud, but the applications and compute resources are in the cloud. Instead of pulling data from the cloud, processing the data, and pushing back to cloud, the paradigm is to have compute resources in the cloud read and write data directly, local to the cloud. The data is never moved out of the cloud unless absolutely needed.

This type of usage pushes the need for even higher-level interfaces to data like SQL, Map-Reduce, and ETL. Unified storage for the cloud needs to do more than provide multi-protocol access to data that can be managed with one system. In addition to access, there must be the ability to process the data, e.g., running an SQL query. Then applications can easily use the functionality of the cloud storage/compute system instead of using the cloud as a dumb storage system and pulling and pushing the data between the cloud storage system and compute resources.

Unified storage for block- and file- level is still required and important because of the need to integrate with compute nodes that have a block-level or file-level interface. And also, there is the cloud data bootstrap problem of how do you initially get the data in the cloud that can be efficiently done by block-level transfer.

The power of a unified cloud storage system is in the network effect of having a single management interface that allows managing users, multiple tenants, storage and resource quotas, security, access management with ACLs (access control lists) for sharing, and other functions. With the single management interface, the system administrator can effectively control the backend storage system used in a wide variety of users using a small slice of different functionality (e.g., object storage only) or users using a wide scope of data access and processing.

By Gary Ogasawara

Gary Ogasawara is the VP Engineering at Gemini Mobile Technologies. He has worked on large scale mail systems for service providers and other high-performance, high-volume software systems. Gemini’s Cloudian™ product is an S3-compatible storage software package.

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