Author Archives: Humayun

Research Study: Cloud Financing And Associated Justification

Research Study: Cloud Financing and Associated Justification

Queries surrounding cloud computing financing and associated pecuniary rationalization have lately been investigated in a novel research study involving feedback more than 900 business professionals and IT firms combined. The study has been undertaken by CompTIA, the foremost IT vendor industry association.

In majority of circumstances, the relevant information technology departments are responsible for the fiscal arrangements pertinent to the organizations’ cloud appetite. A hefty 56% of the surveyed ventures pay for their cloud computing resources via the IT departmental budget head. In addition, 28% of the companies fervently wait for their ever essential hop onto the cloud computing bandwagon that remains subject to approval of the special endowment requested for the said shift.

The findings unveil another prevalent trend – businesses now are not reliant upon the IT department alone for cloud funding. About 48% of companies have been found billing their respective cloud service provider(s) by means of dedicated line-of-business budget provisions perceived as imperative to running the enterprise.

The multitude of available options aimed at fuelling the relevant cloud services translates to the important development that ventures nowadays are ankle deep in investigating the dynamics of cloud financing. Justifying the cloud-incurred expenses has become equally vital for companies. A greater number of present day financial advisors and managers are eager to determine where the recompense will take place. An estimated 53% of the repliers that actually do compute a prospective gain on investment require a higher level of fiscal dynamics detail; while on the other hand, 47% are in need of a comparatively moderate level of the same.

Probing further, the associated return on investment reveals splendour for cloud zealots. A whoping 79% of companies, having passed though the painstaking dual stage process of (i) scrutiny before allocating funds for cloud initiatives and (ii) post-implementation follow up, proudly report that the shift to the cloud has lead to unsurpassed savings. The gains have either been well in-line with or have easily surpassed the formulated return estimates.

The research findings shed light upon another dimension of rate of returns relatable to the ever-important cloud shift. Regardless of how tempting it seems, the cost savings might not be the optimized quantifier of cloud computing success. The report clearly points out that the number of firms experiencing cloud returns dipping below the original estimates significantly increases after the second year of cloud adaptation courtesy of latent costs mounting over time. The beginning of cloud endorsement, however, is cost efficient and appealing.

It would be unjust not mentioning the plausible positives that may lead to superior return on investment, but at the same time, are complicated to quantify. Such factors include but are not limited to suppleness, elasticity, customer satisfaction and time to market. The impact might not be as mathematically traceable as soaring ROI measures; cloud computing endorsement is still bound to influence the said factors constructively, bringing excellence to the venture overall.

By Humayun Shahid

The Vitality Of Seeding Openness Within The Cloud

The Vitality Of Seeding Openness Within The Cloud

In the context of cloud investment and associated justifications, present day ventures are particular about three core concerns that are by no means novel and have haunted the IT industry since day one – agility, flexibility and customization. The parameters sound exceedingly familiar, especially to those who have had a taste of Linux, an operating system that takes pride in capitalizing on the said concerns and morphing them into benefits. Although contemporary cloud giants are burning midnight oil to deliver on the best of consumer-end innovations, monetary restrictions are clearly holding them back from providing the much-needed open eco-system for cloud technology.

The IT industry today stands at a turning point where openness in terms of software dynamics is in escalated demand, rather than mere acceptance. Cloud computing is evidently undergoing the same characteristic chain of pre open-transformation phases, just like operating systems and virtualized environments had once. Initiatives like OpenStack have exhibited clear-cut commitment to develop open-source private and public clouds by supporting like-minded developers and software architects. The community software project has successfully secured backing of over 180 organizations (and counting).

The very conceptual foundations of open-source software philosophy provide the boost to proceed ahead of the procedural restrictions intrinsic to proprietary technology, rendering software collaborative, reasonably priced and easily accessible.

Cloud computing should deliver fully on its promise of scalability, seamless deployment and ease of use. Achieving the said feat while being stuck with a single solution seems quite unlikely. There’s a fierce battle out in the open; the top guns are ardently preparing custom cloud solutions on top of their indigenous ‘hypervisors’ – a term that has its roots in virtualization and has extended to cloud computing. On real grounds, however, only a handful of ventures deploy a single hypervisor. This translates to dependency on multiple cloud solutions expected to collaborate autonomously. This is not flexibility; anything that doesn’t integrate well doesn’t fit well. The open cloud initiative on the other hand offers better integration and is continuously pumping resources to improve on the same, leading to organization-wide hassle-free operations.

In addition, within an open solution, security concerns are easier to manage – breaches traceable and rectifiable. The same with a proprietary system is near to impossible. The reason is simple. A number of security experts and experienced developers with a broad spectrum of experience, interacting in a highly collaborative open setup, scrutinizing the code for vulnerabilities – this all adds up to an overall reduced probability of security lapse and within-code bug prevalence. Unlike the proprietary approach, it is not up to a single vendor to come up with a solution should a situation arise; the open-source advocates are prompt to response with fixes and updates (unpaid that are).

There is sufficient rationale to promote an open cloud ecosystem. A powerful open community that craves for cloud novelty and technological advancement is all that is needed to steer cloud computing towards an entire new level.

By Humayun Shahid

Developing Economies In Love With Cloud Computing

Developing Economies in Love with Cloud Computing

The Business Software Alliance, in a recent research study, has reported that time is ripe for the cloud computing service providers to make a lasting impact particularly in budding economies via free as well as paid offerings, but at the same time the malicious lot amongst the beneficiaries is more probable to share user-identification specifics, rendering license misuse inevitable in some cases. The research findings are an outcome of mutual collaboration between Business Software Alliance and Ipsos Public Affairs.

BSA and IPA collectively covered about 15,000 end users in roughly 33 different countries, probing into their understanding of cloud computing services and gaining an insight into how they benefit from the cloud. Online services enable creation, management and storage of digital content and allow remote access via almost any internet enabled device, computers in particular – this is how 45 percent of end-users across the globe describe their utility of computers.

It is startling to discover that the same percentage of the said utility rises to as high as 50% for developing economies such as Thailand, Peru, Argentina and Malaysia. Established economies such as United States, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, on the other hand, exhibit a lower proportion – 33% to be exact.

Statistics further reveal that more than 85 percent of cloud users rely upon cloud computing services for personal purposes including storage and retrieval of digital content. In addition, 33 percent classify their usage of cloud services purely for business motives. The figures, again, are higher for the case of developing economies as opposed to the established ones.

President and CEO of BSA, Robert Holleyman, explains that “We’re seeing a leapfrog effect. A lot of recent adopters of computers and information technology are jumping straight to the cloud. If you live in a developing economy and use a computer, then, likely as not, you also use cloud computing services at least some of the time for email, word processing, document or photo storage, or other things – although you might not understand those services to be cloud computing.’’

While this all is primarily positive, the survey still unveils a source of dire unease. There are about 42 percent of business end users that possess active subscriptions to paid cloud services and ironically, share their login details within their organization.

There is, however, an evident segregation in the above mentioned context amongst the budding and the established economies. In budding economies, 45 percent of the business cloud users share their cloud account internally, while the same percentage for developed economies lies at 20 percent, mounting to the difference of a significant 15 percent.

Holleyman describes these statistics as eye-opening. He clarified that “It doesn’t necessarily mean 42 percent of business users are pirating cloud services. Some licenses may allow sharing of accounts — and many cloud service providers charge not by seat but by the volume of computing resources consumed, making the path users take to access those resources less important.”

The figures are a vivid indicative of budding economies’ willingness to endorse both paid and free versions of cloud services. This is bound to serve as good news for cloud service providers and associated start ups. In addition, 56 percent of paid cloud users considering credential-sharing unethical is a healthy omen for the future of cloud licensing in promising economies.

By Humayun Shahid

Eco Activism: Greenpeace Slashes iCloud With The Poorest Of Grades

Eco Activism: Greenpeace Slashes iCloud with the Poorest of Grades

Apple finds itself stranded yet again in another vortex of criticism – this time as a consequence of its decision to halt surrendering its merchandise for examination under the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (abbreviated EPEAT) certification drive. The disparagement rises in the wake of the company falling short of its pledge to support and implement cleaner computing processes, particularly in the cloud domain.

Apple as a corporation has been growing by leaps and bounds, leading product innovation like no other. However, during the same time frame, the technological giant has lagged behind many a miles in terms of fulfilling its environmental obligation.

Greenpeace, on the most proactive environment protection groups, publically bashed Apple for with-drawing from the EPEAT. The group further stated that Apple has been sluggish to fulfil its promise pertinent to fuelling its data centres with green renewable energy sources and putting an end to power generation from coal reserves.

Greenpeace has also brought to the table A Clean Energy Road Map for Apple – the organization’s latest analytical report that “updates the evaluation of Apple to account for its recent clean energy announcements, and outlines the additional steps Apple should take to fulfil its laudable ambition to set a new bar with a ‘coal-free’ and 100% renewably-powered iCloud”.

The report suggests that Apple still has to go a long way to live up to its word of operating the North Carolina data-centre solely on renewable energy. Same goes for the plan to render its major data centres free of coal based fuel by the end of the year 2013.

Subtle improvement by Apple has been documented in the report – a mere unit step transition from D to C in Energy Efficiency category, as well as that in Infrastructure Siting category, from an F to a D. Sadly, no up-gradation has been observed in the Energy Transparency category; Apple still stands shy at a disgruntling D.

Apple’s decision to dump the EPEAT has been driven by the company’s preference of compelling design over greener parameters like reusability and ease of disassembly. Senior policy analyst at Greenpeace, Gary Cook, is of the view that apple’s prioritization of design over recyclability will prove to be disastrous for the collective global effort to vouchsafe a greener environment.

Greenpeace is equally apprehensive about the deficiency of renewable energy’s clear-cut description at Apple’s end. This narrows down to the harsh reality that even today, Apple is the primary buyer of coal-derived power.

The report is bound to serve as an eye-opener for the advocates of a greener planet – Apple may claim to be a coal-free venture on paper but the truth is quite (bitter and) contradictory. It’s about time that the hefty iConsumer-base convinces the billion dollar venture to reconsider its stance on compromising reusability for design.

By Humayun Shahid

The Department Of Defence Meets The Cloud

Beginning of an Overcast Era: The Department of Defence Meets the Cloud

The United States Department of Defence has recently endorsed the (long awaited) shift to the cloud. The cloud computing strategy, as the feds calls it, expounds the departments’ intention to relocate the existent network applications from the whirlpool of conventionally burdensome, overly expensive in-house application set to a light-weight, secure out-bound cost-effective eco-system.

The responsibility for choreographing the cloud transition has been entrusted to Defence Information Systems Agency. Teri Takai, Chief Information Officer at Department of Defence, publicized the said information. In addition, a note has been published to inform the higher ups at Pentagon of the cloud broker’s final selection.

“We are moving to an enterprise cloud environment that provides tangible benefits across the department by supporting the delivery of the joint information environment,” announced Takai.

Takai explained the core mission of the DISA’s Enterprise Cloud – bringing to the front cloud computing services aimed at providing exceptional information technology competence, and that as well, at the lowest incurred expenses and the highest echelon of consistency and protection.

Takai believes that “This strategy lays the groundwork, as part of the Joint Information Environment framework, for achieving cloud adoption within the department.” She is a strong advocate of the said strategy and hopes that it will function to streamline the information theory effectiveness programme, the data centre integration and the overall cloud computing efforts.

The specific responsibilities of DISA as a Cloud Service Broker were also highlighted in the published note – the first and foremost of them being improvement in cloud service safety and efficacy. The second important task handed over to DISA is the fusion of cloud services within the operational dynamics of the Department of Defence. The third vital responsibility is to provide on-going assistance to the Department of Defence in custom tailoring the cloud services for their technical and mission critical needs.

DISA’s lead on the strategy has been intended not only to stress on the achievement of the above mentioned objectives, but also to shape up the department to comply with the guidelines crafted by FedRAMP as well as to fit seamlessly in the U.S Cyber Command defence operations. As per chalked out plan, constituents under the Department of Defence will be required either to acquire cloud services via DISA or to attain a waiver from a nominated evaluation authority as per agency stipulations. DISA’s role, intrinsically as a broker, has been formulated by the National Institute of Science and Technology’s cloud computing reference architecture.

The strategy is primarily motivated by its promising cost cut-down and smooth operation features – something the Department of Defence is in dire need of. A few months time will reveal the consequences of the cloud shift, hopefully positive and fruitful.

By Humayun Shahid

Cloud Fringe Benefits: Tackling The Olympic Rush With Cloud Computing

Cloud Fringe Benefits: Tackling The Olympic Rush With Cloud Computing

The London Olympics 2012, an event definitely expected to result in festivity throughout the United Kingdom, might not prove to be that much of an auspicious experience for businesses located within (and even outside) the city. The reasons are quite understandable – higher magnitudes of traffic density and crowds pouring in like rain are bound to serve as overt impediments to the normal operational dynamics of business ventures.

Matt Gordon-Smith, director of security at Attenda, considers cloud technology to be a clear-cut savior in this particular situation. Matt believes that business ventures that haven’t already undergone the shift towards the cloud should seriously concentrate on employing cloud technology to safeguardthe work effectiveness of employees during the Olympic season.

Cloud computing could serve to painlessly handle the issues that might surface during the Olympic period, the foremost of which could be the commotion of mass rapid transit and other means of public transportation, particularly during the rush hour. In worst cases, businesses might face situations as serious as employees not being able to reach offices or finding it difficult to reach to customers.

By carrying out the move to the cloud, corporations can make sure that the relevant personnel within the workforce are provided protected admittance to company information without actually needing to be present at the office in person.

This boils down to a very important outcome – empowered workers presented with an unmatched opportunity to conduct work from within their home or, for that matter, from any distant location outside of central London. This comes with the inherent advantage of time being saved and used efficiently, which otherwise would have definitely gone to waste because of the bottlenecks in transportation.

Research findings dug up by the Confederation of British Industry disclose that about 46 percent of the companies located within the city are demonstrating a significant level of panic with regards to their homework concerning the summer Games that lie ahead. Furthermore, the study reveals that about one half of those companies are contemplating incorporating the work-from-home option as a means of gearing up against the expected work outage. The stated proportion of ventures, however, are not adequately prepared to take on the home-sourcing challenge.

In addition to the transit issue, part of the problem ventures could face is the inclination of the workforce to play their part in the mega event, either by volunteering or becoming part of a live audience, both of which require being away from the workplace.

“Certainly transport disruptions are going to be a key impact, and making sure that all those people have the ability to continue to perform their role remotely is the key. So, having the technical infrastructure in place to allow remote working, without compromising the data you’re working with, is a key consideration,” Matt Gordon-Smith explained.

The CBI further reports that with these concerns aside, most businesses are of the view that the Olympics will have an overall healthy impact on the country. The positive impact could be more pronounced if cloud technology comes in to ensure that businesses continue to operate in a streamlined manner during the Olympic Games period.

By Humayun Shahid

All Things Apologetic: Cisco Connect Cloud Gets Overhauled

All Things Apologetic: Cisco Connect Cloud Gets Overhauled

Last week witnessed the networking giant Cisco being exposed to an immense conflagration of criticism from its customers, primarily because of policies pertinent to its novel Cisco Connect Cloud solution. A fresh line-up of Linksys Wi-Fi routers meant for home usage was revealed – the EA2700, the EA3500 and the EA4500. Cisco boasted about the ability of the amalgam of its software and hardware, which ensures administration of the wireless LAN from a remote location by means of a smartphone app or Web browser. In addition, about six third-party apps were presented, designed to fuse with the service and open up the platform for further development.

The cloud went live, and everything was running smoothly until last week when some owners of the EA3500 and EA4500 routers raised their voice on official user forums, complaining that Cisco had updated their router firmware overnight, consequently pushing them unwittingly towards cloud-based management. A stripped-down, LAN-based option was made available, lacking many features that were that were existent prior to the update.

To add to the agony, peeved customers dug deep into the Cloud Connect terms of service and discovered a clause stating that Cisco might collect information pertinent to use of the particular service, including user Internet browsing history. Yet another section stated that Cisco reserves the right to share “aggregated and anonymous user experience information” with third parties. Such clauses lead to a public outburst against Cisco, with responses as bitter as users threatening to stop purchasing Linksys routers in the future.

Cisco has been lightning fast to respond to the tsunami of customer complaints and in the healthiest of fashions. The company has taken a crucial step back from its Cloud Connect service, shunning it as the default setting selection for management of its Linksys routers. The default mechanism for controlling the high-end routers has been modified to the conventional over-the-LAN mode. Users who wish to make the most of the company’s Cloud Connect paradigm will have to choose it on their own.

Furthermore, Cisco has sincerely apologized, not once but twice, for the spread of confusion, and is whole-heartedly trying to put out the customer firestorm regarding privacy and automated firmware updates.

In a blog post declaring the changes, Brett Wingo, vice president and general manager of Cisco Home Networking division, clarified that “Cisco will not push software updates to customers’ Linksys routers when the auto-update setting is turned off”.

“Cisco Connect Cloud and Cisco Linksys routers do not monitor or store information about how our customers are using the Internet, and we do not arbitrarily disconnect customers from the Internet. The Cisco Connect Cloud Service has never monitored customers’ Internet usage, nor was it designed to do so,” Wingo stated.

Cisco has stepped up to the issue and has been prompt in modifying the default management setting of the Cisco Connect Cloud, as well as modifying its privacy policy – still, the level to which the whirlpool of customer complaints has been quashed will only be revealed in due course.

By Humayun Shahid

The Stormy Outage: Criticism Pouring On The Amazon Cloud

The Stormy Outage: Criticism Pouring On The Amazon Cloud

Last Friday night proved very gloomy for Amazon’s Cloud Service. It all started off with colossal thunderstorms jolting the Amazon US East datacenter and reportedly bringing it down (yet again). On the other hand, alternate cloud computing services within the same geographical location remained intact and continued to operate smoothly.

The incident has raised numerous questions, of which the most serious point out the core architectural foundation of the Amazon Cloud setup. Whether the repetitive cloud service hiccups are an outcome of intrinsic technical flaws that extend beyond the mere wrath of nature remains unanswered. This particular disruption, which happens to be the second experienced this month, resulted in Instagram, Pinterest, Netflix and Heroku being taken down for several hours.

Without the slightest shadow of a doubt, the storm was utterly merciless, leaving more than a million dwellers of Washington D.C. startled and deprived of electrical power for a significantly disturbing time. Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud was severely hit by the same power outage, which had a lasting impact.

Surprisingly, Amazon’s cloud hosting competitor Joyent experienced absolutely no outage during the same time frame. This is where things get dubious – Amazon Cloud, with its soaring claims pertinent to network accessibility and architectural redundancy, should have been resilient to natural hazards just like other service providers.

The disruption served as an opportunity for rivals to chip in with their share of criticism. Steve Zivanic, Vice President of the marketing division for Nirvanix Cloud Storage, advised that customers should rightly stop sticking to the Amazon Cloud by default. “It is becoming rather clear that the answer for (Amazon’s) customers is not to try to master the AWS cloud and learn how to leverage multiple availability zones in an attempt to avoid the next outage but rather to look into a multi-vendor cloud strategy to ensure continuous business operations,” rattled Steve.

A spokeswoman at Amazon explained that the disastrous storm lead Amazon to a trembling loss of not only its primary power source, but also of the crucial backup generator for its customer district located in the east. Service restoration was also reiterated. Amazon is expected to share further details on the incident in the days to come.

It is a bitter reality that even cloud giants such as Amazon are not one hundred percent outage-proof; courtesy of them inherently being a datacenter-reliant business. The outage should serve as a lesson for ventures that are yet to adopt a multi-cloud strategy in their operational dynamics. It seems Heroku has been the most avid of learners, and is reported to be “evaluating its options for actively seeking other cloud platform partners.”

By Humayun Shahid

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