Author Archives: Jeff Norman

Can The Cloud Help A Marketing Professional?

Can The Cloud Help A Marketing Professional?

Can the Cloud Help a Marketing Professional?

“Absolutely!” is the answer to this article’s titular question. Cloud computing’s natural talent in rendering everyday essential business maneuvers automatic, more flexible, and more timely makes it a downright essential for successful modern-day marketing campaigns. Here are a few reasons why.

Selection of services is one of the primary advantages of the cloud to marketing professionals. Many cloud products allow prospective parties to test-drive them before committing financially via nifty free trials, inviting you to sample them and gauge their appropriateness for your particular marketing aims. Much of these professionals’ affairs involving data can also be completed in increments (mining it for relevant info, integrating it with larger documents) can be executed in the cloud outside of the often expensive 9-to-5 schedule, which can be an economical move.

Because using the cloud doesn’t involve having to buy into hardware or software, you remain independent of any contracts. Not having to fret over the precise figure of storage required to maintain every shred of data is another bonus here, in that cloud computing can be scaled up or down in a pay-as-you-go platform, a move which does away with having to spend an exorbitant amount on an initial infrastructure.

The cloud also fosters intrinsic and efficient collaboration between fellow professionals or members of a marketing team. Handling a multifaceted campaign is thus made much simpler, as information in the cloud can be disseminated faster and with less fuss. As long as each client has access to a solid connection to the Internet and cloud-accessible equipment, she can take part in this collaborative spirit. Communal storage proves to be another key value of the cloud. This entails a complete severing of the necessity of purchasing pricey data protection infrastructure to safeguard important documents. With the cloud, your data can be stored in a location accessible only by staff granted the requisite permission.

But perhaps the greatest advantage of cloud for the marketing set is the seamless transition from CapEx (capital expenditure: fixed assets, machinery, etc.) to OpEx (operational expenditure: rent, wages, machinery maintenance, etc.) that it readily allows. Economically, this switch can divert more monetary resources toward the flashier sector of a marketing strategy, namely the campaigns that will earn that desired return on investment. And this capacity to launch better campaigns more quickly equalizes smaller marketing teams with their larger and ostensibly better equipped counterparts.

By Jeff Norman

Cloud Security: Public Or Private, It’s Getting Better

Cloud Security: Public or Private, It’s Getting Better

It’s the tale as old as time: manifold businesses and organizations hesitate to relocate their most important cloud programs from their private data centers into the more spacious public cloud sphere, out of fear that they’ll jeopardize security and protection in the move. Oftentimes articles will endeavor to rewire these professionals’ thinking about the public cloud, enlighten them to the advantages of making that switch and its potential assets to an enterprise. Yet this article seeks to — gasp! — work with private cloud stalwarts, as well as public cloud champions, on their own terms. For no matter which you feel more comfortable with, security measures have been vastly ameliorated and made more flexible by innovations in one important cloud process: automated functionality.

The majority of security issues in the cloud are understandably generated by some human foible. If cloud systems simply employed a much larger array of automated capacities, such as in regards to the orientation and structure of servers, security would therefore be mightily improved as a consequence. Such a focus on automating the system streamlines operational costs, preempts abnormalities that may encourage a security issue, and heightens enterprises’ practical nimbleness. Obviously not every cloud enterprise will gel seamlessly with every automated server available. However, investing work into locating the ideal match could result in an optimal realignment and maintenance of the operating system, database, and myriad other essential components.

And such meticulous attention to the state of one’s cloud system, with a focus on economizing, can translate into improved data protection. Conducting a full scale assessment of the cloud applications run in an operating system and ensuring that what is on the computers matches what is on the official bookkeeping records can improve a cloud-savvy enterprise at least twofold. Not only would this exercise (greatly facilitated by an asset discovery program or tool) will either prevent or forestall duplication and obsolescence of applications, but it would also provide security personnel with a tighter grasp on the applications and services that require attention to protection measures.

No panacea yet exists to cure every cloud enterprise’s concern with security. Admittedly, keeping track of the latest in protection possibilities in cloud is an almost-full time endeavor. (Read PC World’s dynamic article on the subject here.) However, our rightful fixation on the security conversation continues to inspire companies to take a chance and enter the fray. The more organizations who trust their applications to run in the cloud, the sooner concern over protection will be match with smoother cloud management tools and services.

By Jeff Norman

Go Away – You’re Not Serious About The Cloud

Go Away – You’re Not Serious about the Cloud

Quit reading this. Move on. Your business has no chance of cloud prosperity. You’ve chosen to ignore several key tenets of successful integration into the cloud computing sphere, and you now find your business in an IT rut. Should you still continue to be reading this, pat yourself on the back. You’re at least willing to entertain the idea that your cloud acumen could improve. I’ll keep it simple. If you can’t shape up in at least one of these three vital areas to cloud success, you ought to ship out.

Have you embraced service-reverent architecture? Remember that cloud is, at is most elemental, an amalgam of services. Lacking a solid or well-refined strategy that considers how a company may grow into cloud computing can easily create a balloon in unneeded expenditures and services that mimic, rather than compliment, one another. It is worth investigating what Wikipedia describes as service-based architecture: the implementation of a system of services as the bedrock of a business endeavor that can adapt or streamline as needed. Within such architecture, cloud applications are selected based on their capacity to harmonize with the business’ fundamental identity, as well as on how well they synchronize with existent software.

Have you appointed a “cloud mastermind?” Every thriving business operates on some agreement of hierarchy, and this same insistence on leadership should inform a business’ cloud computing aspirations. A well vetted expert should be appointed with the responsibility of determining, for example, the expectations of cloud services, which of those services are purchased, and how the organization will go about bankrolling them. I would go so far as to describe such a professional as a “cloud mastermind.” But the judgment of this figure is not so clouded as to ignore a long-term perspective on cloud within the business. Cloud computing continues to exist cyclically. Healthy businesses regularly grow into and out of services, and any cloud mastermind worth her salt should develop a plan that accounts for a selection of, and a foreshadowing into, cloud-borne resources both today and a year (or two) from now.

Finally, how complex can you stand cloud computing to be? The previously rampant belief in the diametric opposition between public clouds and their private counterparts is now considered an old hat vestige of IT snob appeal. Few tech professionals in today’s landscape will profess an adherence to any one type of cloud, rather opting for a “cloud constellation” that encompasses many a computing system: public, private, hybrid, and independent service providers. A business in pursuit of reaping cloud’s benefits should sow the seeds of a plural cloud mentality at the outset, one that is personalized and adapted to that particular business’ needs. Failure to do so leaves a business susceptible to risks such as vendor/service entrapment, challenges in recalling data on demand, and struggles in scalability calibrated to the ebbs and flows of demand.

By Jeff Norman

Rumors In Cloud: What A Tangled Web We’ve Woven

Rumors in Cloud: What a Tangled Web We’ve Woven

As our community has witnessed cloud’s rise to headliner, we have also failed to dispel certain rumors that could hinder its acceptance. Incorrect information merely hampers the progress cloud computing could make as the IT phenomenon it is. A couple ideas in particular stand out to me right now, hackneyed and trotted out too often.

The first misconception: “private cloud is too pricey for rookies.” The rhetoric of public versus private colors many sectors of society: education, class, government, and onward. It holds that “public” connotes less of something provided for more, and “private” the exact opposite: more of it for less of us. This diction does not necessarily hold water in the cloud computing conversation. True, public cloud and its “pay-as-you-go” construction does appear to cost less. Yet delivery from a private cloud can actually beat the public option in spendthrift efficiency, in the same way that buying groceries and eating in costs less, in the long run, than eating out nightly. Newbies to the cloud will need to take into serious account such details as business size, data protection, and compliance concerns, beyond just pricing of service, to determine and strategize between public and private cloud.

Another contentious thought: “In the pool of cloud computing, you ought first to dip in your toes.” My recommendation: cannonball instead. The mere consideration of cloud computing is an essential gesture toward rendering a business more efficient, flexible, and technologically empowered. But the consideration remains just that — an opening gesture — and cloud’s true assets will remain untapped until the business leaps into the fray wholeheartedly. 2010s-era IT is unprecedentedly demanding: today’s enterprises must contend with data consumption that can explode or slim down by the day, the costs of addressing such techy heave-ho, and similar iterations of a faster-paced landscape. Cloud, when bravely, completely embraced, can equip a company with a full array of applications required to truncate demand for human employees (liberating them to be of greater use elsewhere) within mere hours. And managing these applications is made a cinch these days with enormous progress in OS systems. In short, going the whole hog on cloud can have you saying “hooray” much more quickly.

We all have a stake in clarifying cloud. Without transparency, such myths will distract attention away from the deeper concerns that deserve bigger recognition: namely, the global failure to address redundancy in all clouds, public and private alike. (More on this issue to come, next week.)

By Jeff Norman

Vroom For The VoIP: Cloud Computing Is On The Line

Vroom for the VoIP: Cloud Computing is on the Line

Cloud computing has now extended its reach into the telecommunications sphere. The Salt Lake Tribune recently wrote on how cloud is empowering consumers with the mobile equivalent of private branch exchanges, PBXs — essentially customized telephone service systems, whose expense typically reserves them for well-endowed businesses on the make. But as the cloud touts virtualized servers that can handle demand from anywhere worldwide, and can subsequently be made available to consumers as a regularly offered service, it has simplified the process of communicating cloud-style through our devices (cell phones, smart phones, tablets, and more).

These private branch exchanges souped up with cloud computing are lessening telecom costs, particularly for SMBs. With the Internet providing the fuel and boundless space required for the cloud to fulfill its duties, it has never been less expensive for an individual or a business to take advantage of cloud phone service. And because every customer utilizes a portion of the cloud as her phone service’s foundation, escalating or streamlining her usage of cloud is also a breeze. How exactly can cloud create a virtualized service such as this? Simply by “plugging a VoIP (voice-over Internet protocol)-capable desk phone into an Ethernet line and logging in to your phone-system account on the Web or from your smartphone,” according to the article.

Yet the “911” controversy threatens to overshadow the assets of “VoIP via cloud.” In the past, PBXs both in and out of the cloud were ill equipped to handle emergency phone calls, which often rely upon a clearly established VoIP telecom line that was traditionally accounted for an integrated into the emergency information of a given local municipality. In the event of an emergency, critics argue that a cell phone not registered on the grid in this way would be rendered useless, especially if its owner were incapable of speaking into the phone at that particular moment.

Circumventing this potential hazard requires that a phone-as-a-service user firstly determine the landline numbers of emergency contacts (poison control, police, et cetera) and have them on hand, within the phone. Contact to these authorities, to register the cloud-powered phone’s number with them, is a smart next move. Thirdly, it is essential that one vet his network to ensure the sensibility of a switch to cloud VoIP. It often proves helpful to research multiple cloud phone service providers, such as Phonebooth, Panasonic and sipgate, and have them each assess your particular needs.

By Jeff Norman

Christmas For The Cloud Comes In June

Christmas For The Cloud Comes In June

Christmas For the Cloud Comes in June

Break out your naughty-or-nice list! Bake those cookies, and pour a complementary glass of milk. Structure 2012, one of the most important gatherings of the year, nigh on holiday, for true cloud cognoscenti. And once you arrive at the event in San Francisco, being held this year from June 20-21, don’t be surprised if your eyes catch passing glances of DropBox elves or iCloud Kris Kringles.

For the fifth year, the Structure cloud conference has been produced by GigaOM, the online news network heralded for its coverage of emergent technologies and the shifting sands of contemporary media. The world’s leading cloud organizations regularly send fleets’ worth of representatives each year, including Netflix, Intel, Microsoft, and Box. Sponsoring the event are some of the most significant companies of any industry, such as Dell, Cisco, and IBM.

Two more words you might have for me: who cares? No one of any great importance, obviously. Only Satya Nadella, the president of Servers and Tools Business at Microsoft, responsible for Windows Azure and “Microsoft’s enterprise transformation into the cloud.” Derek Collison might indicate some interest as well; he was just the CTO and Chief Architect of the Cloud Division at VMWare. Oh yes, I don’t want to leave out Debra Chrapathy, who may just make an appearance at the conference. She’s only the Chief Information Officer for Zynga. But Structure’s no big whoop. Clearly.

So perhaps I’ve succeeded in persuading you that some fairly important people care about Structure. A rundown of the some of the schedule sessions to be held this year might further pique your interest. “New Foundations: Building a SaaS On Top of Paas” will consider the worthy question: “Has anyone built a big company on PaaS? Can it be done?”

Learn about what Microsoft is “thinking about big data relative to its cloud offerings” in a session led by Mr. Nadella. This year’s Structure will also host LaunchPad, which uplifts some of the leading cloud computing startups. Finalists of the event will enjoy a Startup Bootcamp to groom them for long-term cloud excellence. Not bad for just a couple of days in San Francisco.

True, with a registration cost of $1500, the majority of people interested will be priced out from the conference. But although attendance at Structure may not be possible this year, keeping the conference on your radar is a shrewd move. Monitoring the experts involved is a surefire way to gauge who’s who in cloud, and to foreshadow the movers and shakers in cloud computing that are sure to make news throughout the year. Even the seminar breakdowns provide fodder to challenge your understanding of cloud and can be an impetus to your own research on topics relevant to Structure 2012, like Node.js, Zynga’s infrastructure, and IBM Watson.

Bottom line: If I’ve riled you up about Structure, either in excitement of its existence or annoyance with its four-figure entry fee, it’s time to pat yourself on the back. Congratulations: you’re already an unwitting yet in-the-know cloud insider. You’ll attend structure this year, alright — in philosophy and in spirit.

By Jeff Norman

Forget The Time 100: Here’s The Coolest In Cloud

Forget the Time 100: Here’s the Coolest in Cloud

Cloud computing always seems to progress at a rapid pace. Over just the past few years, the cloud as an industry model has matured from a promising yet passable curiosity enjoying fifteen minutes of fame into an indelible and mushrooming contributor to the contemporary technology community. But capitalizing on cloud demands serious legwork in terms of deciding with whom to invest your time and money. Such almost breakneck growth in cloud has made it a bit tricky to sort those who are truly shaping what cloud will become from their convenient bandwagon counterparts.

Enter CRN to save the day and simplify the process of identify the veritable movers and shakers in cloud computing today. Each year, the well regarded IT news source compiles a list of the creme de la creme among cloud providers. Only the 100 most enterprising and forward-thinking of cloud vendors make the list each year, ranging across five key categories: PaaS, IaaS, software and applications, storage, and security. Those in the cloud community can survey the list to check for peers who made the cut, and competitors who weren’t so fortunate. Anyone who is considering entering the cloud, or maintaining or upgrading their presence therein, should set aside an afternoon to peruse the list and cherry-pick their cloud vendors from this elite selection.

Among those selected for the excellence in cloud security are Acronis, who concentrates on disaster recovery and protection, specifically via the maintenance of business continuity and a minimization of downtime away from the cloud in a crisis. CA Technologies also made the cut this year, in large part for its CloudMinder-branded array of identity management and security amenities. On the storage front, AppAssure stands out for its replication capacity and facility with use with the majority of primary hypervisors. Speedily growing Carbonite has made a name for itself through its automatized online data backup schemes, earning a place among the top cloud 100.

This year’s choices for top-flight infrastructure vendors include Eucalyptus Systems, a provider of private PaaS and responsible for having fueled more than 25,000 startups in cloud. And as a “pure-play IaaS provider,” GoGrid is tough to beat for deployment of new applications and streamlining of workloads.

Clearly it’s more than just offering cloud service that vaults a cloud vendor into this elite 100. Those fortunate enough to have been chosen embody a knockout distinguishing feature, like a mastery of a niche or a rare amalgamation of amenities and components once considered to be unrelated. To the advantage of those interested in cloud, CRN’s selection makes it simple to land upon a true cloud computing winner.

By Jeff Norman

Be A Cloud Executive Officer

Be a Cloud Executive Officer

Chief executive officers of the 2010s ignore the cloud at their peril. As we at CloudTweaks know better than most, cloud computing has become an indelible centerpiece of the national conversation on all things technology. Few developments since the arrival of the Internet have ignited such discourse or stood to offer so much change to our relationship with computers. A refusal to acknowledge cloud, then, is essentially an admission of irrelevance in virtually every industry that involves either computer-borne data, the Internet, or a combination thereof.

Employees in such industries, now more self-sufficient and enterprising than ever, probably nurse secret (or not-so-secret) fixations on the cloud, be it positive – “The cloud’s the best thing since the advent of the Web” – or negative – “Cloud equals disaster for data security and protection, et cetera.”

No matter an employee’s perspective on cloud, a CEO’s resistance to it is unequivocally futile. Big corporate businesses already outmuscle more diminutive operations with comparatively massive technological resources, both virtual and human. Smart companies the same size as one’s own have probably already embraced cloud to some degree. And the cloud can convert a petite young upstart into a serious pretender to a larger company’s throne in one fell swoop. Cloud can equalize as easily as it can sift the savvy from the slackers.

Successful — savvy — CEOs marry their chiefdom with at least a modicum of dexterity within the cloud. After having exercised some reconnaissance work, which should involve pinpointing their business’ current shortcomings and analyzing potential ROI figures, they ascertain how the cloud can allow their company to streamline and economize. They conduct a cloud cost benefit analysis: a determination of the set-up and entry costs for cloud, an assessment of the applications most apt for a cloud computing retrofit, and a mining of the current resources and limitations of their business (the scope of the budget, identifying standout knowledgeable employees, etc.)

The choice to proactively mount their own data security and protection schemes elevates great Cloud Executive Officers from wimpy or uninspired dabblers. These CEOs thoroughly vet each type of cloud (from Gmail and other types of SaaS to IaaS providers like Amazon EC2). They plot each move before taking a step forward, refusing to fall for just any software offered as-a-service. What is more, they harness governmental resources to support their backup aims, including FedRAMP, FISMA, and SSAE 16.

Legendary cloud CEOs, upon executing several of the above directives, stay the course. Attempts to dissuade them from cloud’s capacities are rebuffed by the deep belief they have already been developing. Instead, they motivate and convince their employees, peers, stockholders, all involved, about the potential of cloud computing in spite of its risks. Each grand gesture – unveiling a new setup and overhaul scheme, for example — is backed up by deliberation and tact. And naturally, they nourish their knowledge with rich sources (like CloudTweaks, of course) to stay cloud-sharp and successful.

By Jeff Norman

CloudTweaks Comics
Smart Connected Cities Must Learn To Efficiently Collaborate

Smart Connected Cities Must Learn To Efficiently Collaborate

Smart City Collaboration A study from research firm Gartner demonstrates how smart and connected cities require a large number of players to collaborate efficiently, in order to unlock the huge potential associated with cities of the future. The study focused on Europe and showed clearly how a number of Northern European and Scandinavian mid-size cities…

5 Predictions For Education Technology

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Is The Fintech Industry The Next Tech Bubble?

Is The Fintech Industry The Next Tech Bubble?

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Why Small Businesses Need A Business Intelligence Dashboard

Why Small Businesses Need A Business Intelligence Dashboard

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The Storytelling Machine: Big Content and Big Data

The Storytelling Machine: Big Content and Big Data

Bridging The Gap Between Big Content and Big Data Advances in cloud computing, along with the big data movement, have transformed the business IT landscape. Leveraging the cloud, companies are now afforded on demand capacity and mobile accessibility to their business-critical systems and information. At the same time, the amount of structured and unstructured data…

Cloud Infographic – The Internet Of Things In 2020

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What the Dyn DDoS Attacks Taught Us About Cloud-Only EFSS

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DDoS Attacks October 21st, 2016 went into the annals of Internet history for the large scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that made popular Internet properties like Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify and Box inaccessible to many users in the US. The DDoS attack happened in three waves targeting DNS service provider Dyn, resulting in a total of about…

The Cloud Is Not Enough! Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions

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Three Factors For Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy

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Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy A few weeks ago I visited the global headquarters of a large multi-national company to discuss cloud strategy with the CIO. I arrived 30 minutes early and took a tour of the area where the marketing team showcased their award winning brands. I was impressed by the digital marketing strategy…

Digital Transformation: Not Just For Large Enterprises Anymore

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What the Dyn DDoS Attacks Taught Us About Cloud-Only EFSS

What the Dyn DDoS Attacks Taught Us About Cloud-Only EFSS

DDoS Attacks October 21st, 2016 went into the annals of Internet history for the large scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that made popular Internet properties like Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify and Box inaccessible to many users in the US. The DDoS attack happened in three waves targeting DNS service provider Dyn, resulting in a total of about…

Digital Twin And The End Of The Dreaded Product Recall

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Moving Your Email To The Cloud? Beware Of Unintentional Data Spoliation!

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Adopting A Cohesive GRC Mindset For Cloud Security

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Having Your Cybersecurity And Eating It Too

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