Author Archives: Jeff Norman

Can The Gov’t Avoid Gaffes In The Cloud?

Can the Gov’t Avoid Gaffes in the Cloud?

It’s no surprise that programs that shape our government on all levels of jurisdiction are rapidly and eagerly enlisting into the cloud computing fray. Finally, several of cloud’s noteworthy assets — scalable and streamlined storage and infrastructure, and services purchasable a la carte, for example — have started to beguile departments and bureaucracies frazzled by tightening budgets and increased demand for high-quality service to constituents. But governmental involvement frequently means thwarting several of risks in cloud that could hamper the experience. How can government companies enter cloud without fear of making major errors there?

Cloud computing’s usefulness for the layman user typically comes in the forms of e-mail and basic data storage. Yet exchanging messages about your cat’s vaccination records and storing pics of that Wimbledon tennis party you attended are important but relatively inane documents to protect, especially when compared to the ultra-sensitive data that fuels and nurtures serious governmental operations. Our nation’s economy and border-to-border safety in part hinge upon the material of such documents, and thus protecting them perfectly is paramount. Any gaffe-averse government program looking to enter cloud is therefore highly advised to consider a customized private cloud, where the cloud itself could manage issues like e-mail yet allow for more info-sensitive material to be handled strictly in house.

One of the fundamental and reliable tenets of cloud computing as a tool of progressive technology is that every document handled in the cloud must maintain its original quality and condition, no matter how many times that document may enter and exit the cloud itself. This principle of quality integrity holds doubly true for governmental organizations, for whom even the smallest error in a document could spur damaging repercussions. Government organizations MUST ensure that their cloud provider upholds data integrity at the outset. And any type of cloud (public, private, or a mélange of the two) must also reverence important integrity and quality-retention guidelines, especially those stipulated by the Government Records Act.

Essentially, government clients interested in cloud must exercise more vigilance than private parties. Cloud gaffes are best avoided with this additional meticulousness shown from the get-go. Not every cloud provider will demonstrate the scope of resources and support required of an sensitive-data organization. Focusing on a serious determination of just how sensitive the data involved is from the beginning can shape a cloud computing experience that’s more fruitful and protected.

By Jeff Norman

Cloud 2012: What to Expect in the Latter Six Months

Cloud 2012: What to Expect in the Latter Six Months

Don’t blink — it’s already mid-June. Indeed, 2012 has flown by, but not without cloud computing extending its reach and fame, both in the IT community and with the general public. The increased ease with which cloud is regarded by businesses and everyday folk from Boise to Ashtabula has led to a noticeable change in the trends and fashions emerging within the technology. Three of the most promising areas for change via cloud computing include ERPs, mobile technology, and optimization, each concept elucidated below.

For those not in the know, enterprise resource planning (or ERP) entails an IT system that manages the influx and outpouring of critical information throughout the entirety of an organization — a Big Concept Idea upon which Wikipedia thankfully elaborates with clarity. Suffice it to say that ERP systems are the current rage with IT-mindful businesses of every size, and cloud computing ensures that the concept reaches beyond just marketing strategy, influencing every department of a corporation, from finance to customer service and project management. The cloud’s seminal emphasis on simplicity and efficiency is just now beginning to be appreciated in the ERP conversation, and we can expect for its impact to be felt with increasing profundity as the year progresses.

Let’s face it — smartphones and tablets make the world go round, for better and for worse. Cloud computing is very likely to steer the mobile world’s influence toward the good, as the cloud will continue to seep into and even dictate the release pace and style of upcoming devices. Consumers are anticipating cloud connectivity more than ever from mobile technology, particularly those in the medical field (who arguably pioneered the wedding of the cloud with the mobile device, via electronic health management technology). Though cloud’s growing cloud in this sector is inevitable, areas of potentially difficulty in this growth could include accessibility of cloud applications across devices (a la Instagram), harmony of applications within a single mobile device, and (as always) data security.

There is no denying that the concept of storage space optimization has emerged as a significant factor in the cloud conversation thus far. But the topic should truly dominate right now, for as cloud computing’s visibility and popularity augment, so will the need for efficient methods of managing data in as little time, as with as little fuss, as possible. A subsequent uptick in service options themed on optimization should surface from the major cloud computing powers. But we can also expect for individual cloud users and businesses to concentrate more heavily on applications that will uphold the virtues of reduced cost and time when handling data. As IsUtility clarifies, cloud optimization will improve as a direct result of WAN optimization — a lofty concept that nevertheless should be heeded as the likely reality into the near future.

By Jeff Norman

What The HECK Is The Uppernet From Verizon?!

What the HECK is the Uppernet from Verizon?!

Been watching television lately? If so, the odds are more or less strong that you’ve come across yet another of Verizon’s slickly produced commercials, touting the grandeur of a superhero action movie, boldly hailing the company’s latest venture, the “Uppernet,” in all capital letters. Impressive, Grandiose, Important: the three words that immediately entered my head once the storm of a commercial subsided. But another descriptor — one that could potentially harm Verizon’s aims — surfaced as well: Confusing.

“Our cloud is not soft and fluffy,” says an authoritative baritone to open the ad. The camera runs down endless hallways of data servers, and presents angles of infrared cornea scans, showing how Verizon’s cloud is based on “combating the latest security threats.” “Scalable as far as the mind can see,” it is finally revealed that the Uppernet is “the cloud that the other clouds look up to.”

The idea of the “Uppernet” seems one meant to visually and conceptually transcend the idea of the Internet. It allows customers to scale above the World Wide Web and escape its limitations. Unfortunately, the commercial spends far too much time exampling the power of this cloud without relating what specifically it can offer to its presumable target audience: business professionals looking for a leg up over peers.

From my investigation, the “Uppernet” is overall an effective branding strategy for the cloud solution platform offered by Verizon Wireless. Some context on Verizon’s cloud history helps to correctly locate all things “Uppernet” in the IT conversation.

It was recently announced that the telecom juggernaut had partnered with two stalwarts in the cloud, EMC Corp. and Terremark. Verizon actually acquired the latter company back in April for $1.4 billion, attempting to position itself as the top brand name in cloud services and infrastructure management. Quietly yet strategically, Verizon has sought to shift shape into a major force in the cloud landscape, with the Uppernet as the ultimate fuel source in this rebranding push.

Exploring Verizon’s Uppernet webpage reveals a method to the slight madness in the advertising. The company is in truth targeting not only business-minded cloud pros, but also those in the industries of government, healthcare, and education. Verizon attempts to lure newbies into the cloud conversation with CloudSwitch, designed for a “seamless” integration into the computing programming. And right off the bat, visitors encounter an easy-to-follow article on securing data in the cloud.

The brawny, polished Uppernet’s intent is to bait viewers and pique their interest into Verizon’s cunning cloud blueprint. Verizon hasn’t yet saturated the market with this strategy, but I’ll look for this to change incrementally as the summer sizzles forward.

By Jeff Norman

Why Tablets Would Tank Without The Cloud

Why Tablets Would Tank Without The Cloud

If the late 1800s were notable for the telegram, and the 20th century is best known for the advent of the telephone, the early 2010s will go down in history as the epoch in which the tablet emerged as technological star. This is not to say that tablets immediately endeared themselves to techies; the first models of the device repelled many with their clunky structure and dearth of high-quality applications. Tablets’ tech quality grew over time, however, and cloud computing has factored in as crucial to their functionality and following popularity.

What precisely did cloud computing contribute to the construction of tablet technology that proved so revolutionary? Facilitation of services: without doubt, it was cloud’s propensity to ease and simplify how tablets handled applications and data that served as the “X Factor” in the device’s success with consumers of every stripe. By themselves, most tablets lack the heft and power required to both store and process a bounty of applications with enough speed and precision to warrant a hefty cost of purchase and monthly service charges. Enter the cloud, whose claim to fame has been scalability and efficiency, to remedy tablets’ erstwhile data deficiency.

The cloud has also (surprise!) provided a security structure for tablet technology. As data stored on the cloud can be accessed from any location, tablet users no longer have to dread losing their device with as much disappointment as before; all of their data remains unencumbered and immediately available for access. This benefit for consumers ultimately transfers back to the tablet businesses themselves, who economize enormously on storage and management costs as a result. And, naturally, those who work to run those businesses can use work-simplifying applications on their tablets via the cloud, for an additional jolt of output and potential creativity.

Goodbye, PCs. Desktop setups, hasta la vista. Seriously: we could one day bid a permanent adieu to the traditional personal computers, already on their last legs, due to the power of tablets and cloud computing to provide desktop-like access to applications with omnipresent mobility.

India, second only to China in population yet lagging behind the States in telecommunication, nevertheless manages to remain technologically relevant via cloud-powered mobile technology. Such a fact has sent tech powers-that-be, such as Google and Amazon, racing to dominate the cloud mobile app landscape.

As such juggernauts joust for first place, let’s discuss: what more could cloud do to improve our usage of mobile devices?

By Jeff Norman

US to Europe: “Eat My Cloud Dust”

US to Europe: “Eat My Cloud Dust”

Europe may trump the United States in such matters as academic prosperity in mathematics and sciences, as we know it celebrates its monarchs with far more compelling pomp and circumstance that we could possibly muster for our heads of state. But clout in cloud remains one discipline in which America continues to exert overwhelming dominance over the continent across the pond. This isn’t to say that nations like France, Germany, and even economically beleaguered Greece aren’t curious about cloud and the shot in the arm it could offer to their collective IT acumen. But heaps of curiosity won’t help Europe catch up to us Yankees for quite some time – at least two years in fact, according to UK Computing.

What exactly is holding Europe back from catching up to us Americans? Arguably the largest restraint the continent faces in cloud are the tightly controlled privacy laws and regulations that have soaked deeply and indelibly into the governmental fabric of many of its countries. Speaking of many countries, the plurality of nations also complicates a continent-wide engagement with cloud; each country’s cultures of business and economy tends, more often than not, to elbow and chafe with the tendencies of another state. Anyone who pays even faint attention to world news is aware of the painful debt debacle (Greece, cough, cough), and the subsequent pervasive recession, that has preoccupied Europe ahead of less pressing matters such as IT reform.

To elaborate on myriad European countries’ data protection regulations is an important step in fully understanding how they thwart cloud, fazing efforts to wholeheartedly embrace the promising yet not-risk-free technology. These laws seem to constantly change and mushroom, leaving several American cloud companies with no other choice than to abandon Europe in fear of challenging the Patriot Act and how it relates to European data protection law. As the European Union boasts 17 nations currently, each of them with their own unique stances on issues of new technology, these cloud providers may able be put off by the difficulty of adjusting to a plethora of diverse business procedures.

Policymakers in the EU are also restricted by an extremely lethargic and stubborn tradition of snail’s-pace bureaucracies. Add to this an economic climate hampered by persistent debt, which naturally discourages investments and encourages conservative consideration of risky ventures, and you can understand Europe’s holistic challenge to welcome opportunities like cloud. Rest assured that cloud’s undeniable assets cannot go ignored for much longer. Intelligent European businesspeople and IT folk will see to it that cloud gets its day in the EU sun. Until that day, however, we in America won’t wait for the Continent to play catch-up.

By Jeff Norman

Gauging Your Organization’s Cloud Aptitude

Gauging Your Organization’s Cloud Aptitude

Cloud computing: is it a cure-all for every technical vice that vexes how an organization manages its data? We at CloudTweaks obviously only answer this question in the affirmative. Though slightly marred by several wrinkles in its ease of use and trustworthiness, the cloud remains an indisputably worthwhile component of any IT-heavy operation. Nevertheless, conducting a thorough aptitude assessment can provide an organization with unique reassurance that cloud computing can dovetail attractively with their aims. Launch such an assessment by considering some of the following questions on cloud’s potential for you.

Is a complete relocation to the cloud worth the hassle and initial financial expense to start?

There’s no other way around it — transitioning from a traditional data management system to one run via the cloud primarily will feel like a discombobulation at first. You can expect the most difficulty in transitioning those hardware and software components that are the most complex and the most integral to your data’s foundation. Yet this hassle is validated by reduced costs to how you manage your data and OS. You can expect to see substantially lessened cost in software and hardware, naturally, but also in costs of labor as well. The monetary advantage of the switch ultimately overshadows the interruption required to make a successful switch.

What needs for quickness and space would your organization face in the cloud?

Unfortunately, creating virtual versions of several applications for use via the cloud remains impossible, as their hardware makeup (and operating speed requirements) prevents such a transition. Transferring these applications to cloud would not be feasible, and it might actually be worth considering remaining localized should managing your organization’s latency be a priority. Instead of endeavoring to relocate an entire operating system to the cloud, you may instead consider cherry-pick cloud services to accent the system, such as selecting your least-risk applications as candidates for a virtualization switch.

Should security concerns halt an effort to enter the cloud?

Firstly, you must remember that data protection begins with human surveillance; the choice of what data to place in the cloud, or anywhere online for that matter, must be carefully weighed. Moving into the cloud requires a tacit agreement with a relinquishing of 100%, watertight control over your data, as cloud computing (like almost every computing option) is by no means foolproof. If you consider your data to be especially sensitive, perhaps a complete transition into cloud should be conducted with baby steps and deliberation before each move.

By Jeff Norman

Kidney Research Reconfirms Cloud’s Importance

Kidney Research Reconfirms Cloud’s Importance

The National Kidney Registry has embraced cloud computing as a critical component of its mission to streamline and improve its organ matching processes. The NKR’s primary matching system, known as SMELAC, was recently relocated to Microsoft Windows Azure, in a move to significantly quicken the pace of processing new organ match-related data. MarketWire reports that Azure has boosted SMELAC’s computing capacity by 400%, fast enough to allow for researchers to synchronize their efforts in producing a new organ match.

Organizations from disciplines with precious and sensitive data, such as banks and hospitals, have typically been shy to engage with cloud computing and its inherent risk in data privacy and protection. Yet the National Kidney Registry’s decision to nevertheless move to cloud serves as a precedent that critical-data institutions and the new IT move can harmonize.

Forbes recent article on the conversation of cloud computing in medicine has reinvigorated the discussion, reminding readers that the cloud stands as a primary agent of change and progress in health management. As a systemic structure designed for the future, cloud computing allows organizations of myriad disciplines, including healthcare, to establish a devoted platform for specialized endeavors. In the medical sphere, this has already translated into “applied research” in subjects such as pediatric cancer and AIDS research. For kidney organ donation, cloud computing provided a method to completely renovate researchers’ interaction with data and to inject much-needed speed into NKR’s matching to patients.

Familiar to cloud aficionados is the technology’s nifty ability to scale computing power up or down on demand — a feature deeply needed by an organization like that National Kidney Registry, whose demand for kidney matching can often skyrocket overnight. Transplant surgeon Dr. Marc Melcher further commented and praised Azure’s boon to NKR by clarifying its need for “sophisticated matching algorithms that sift through and evaluate potential matches.” Cloud’s simplification of access to data injects the speed necessary to not only manage such algorithms, but also to capitalize on their potential to exact successful organ matches at top speed.

Few other technologies match cloud’s potential to wed IT considerations with the concerns of medicine and the precision of science. Via an infrastructure themed on cloud computing, critical data can be shared much more efficiently between every relevant member of the health research community, from donor registries to providers of healthcare, from genetic researchers to the surgeons and staff who can actively employ that research.

By Jeff Norman

Why Redundancy In The Cloud Is A Marvelous Thing

Why Redundancy In The Cloud Is A Marvelous Thing

Redundancy in the Cloud

Dunce, dumb, reductive: these are all words that would appear to have much in common with redundancy, if only in the similar sounds they produce when spoken. The idea of being redundant is one that repels those who read books, follow current events, and who endeavor to consistently bring original, fresh information to the table. Yet in the conversation of cloud computing, redundancy brings peace of mind to those who cringe at cloud’s ongoing kinks in data protection and security.

Redundancy in cloud computing can be defined as the supplying of duplicate copies of various data, equipment, systems, or the like, to be used in the event that part of one’s cloud computing system fails or cannot be accessed. This redundancy is made available by having fully replicated data several times on multiple computers or units involved in the same data center.

With cloud, there is no longer a need to construct a pricey “high available redundant system,” as one would need to do with a traditional IT operational system, because a fail-first mentality has been inherently built into the structure of cloud computing. The cloud was structured on the understanding that certain components in the system will give out at some point.

Those components most likely to fail include physical disks, power equipment, and memory units. By first ensuring that every file associated with such physical components has been copied three times, most cloud operating systems are protecting themselves in the event that, perhaps, the entire system itself might fall by the wayside.

Amazon Collapse

Amazon’s cloud collapse of last year serves as a cogent case study in the importance of redundancy, and the pitfalls of ignoring it. Amazon Web Services had initially seemed to be watertight and completely reliable upon its opening to the public in 2006. Yet in April 2011, the company’s data center in Virginia suffered from a devastating bout of issues regarding connectivity and latency. Companies such as HootSuite and Reddit felt the impact of these troubles, and Amazon’s redundancy strategy could not prevent a zone-wide outage.

The problem with Amazon’s cloud lay in its Availability Zones, which were not properly synchronized with one another. The result: each Zone was not constructed to fail on its own, seguing to a nearly complete system shutdown. The scope of redundancy is ironically quite complex. But ultimately, every cloud enterprise — and startups in particular — to value this concept, lest disaster strike and the operation topples with it.

By Jeff Norman

CloudTweaks Comics
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