Author Archives: Jeff Norman

Gussy Up Your Employment With Cloud Computing

Gussy Up Your Employment with Cloud Computing

With reports of 50,000 new jobs being launched in cloud computing/IT in Los Angeles alone, it’s official: the employment iron is hot. Strike into the fray with a sophisticated grasp of how cloud computing can improve your approach and your potential company.

Chasing versus cultivating. The sphere of cloud computing’s involvement with the hunt for a great job is populated with two contingents: those who seek to “chase” literal cloud computing positions, and those who opt to “cultivate” a reputation for their own cloud expertise. The former group, the “chasers,” are currently enjoying a bumper crop of positions as consultants and providers of cloud. However, the well of such posts may run dry as the demand for them begins to slow. To best incorporate the cloud into your work life, emulating the “cultivators” — nurturing your reputation as a cloud professional, even at your current workplace — is vital. Doing so positions you at the vanguard of the cloud in your own occupational backyard, a sage move toward solidifying your value and enhancing your cachet.

Earn cloud skills that pay the bills. You will require more than a well-stocked DropBox and regular reading of CloudTweaks (which remains highly recommended, nevertheless) to claim cloud computing proficiency at your workplace. Consider your genius in relevant, related skill sets that can support your protestations of cloud excellence. How smoothly can you cajole your co-workers (heck, even your own family) into taking up the cloud along with you? Can you rattle off the five most essential new cloud applications on demand? Can you demonstrate to your boss how participation in cloud can boost the business, offset risk and encourage reward? And can you serve as a cloud architect, proposing a structure that safely yet profitably involves your company in cloud? Until you can answer such questions with ease, hold back on tooting your cloud computing horn too loudly.

Before you head up to cloud, get grounded. Many employers will grow annoyed with staff or applicants that tout reams of information on cloud computing without a mastery of the business itself. Ground your excellence in cloud know-how with equally specific respect for the industry or enterprise at hand. Going for a position in healthcare, for example? Research the business vein of that hospital or facility, then base what you can offer via the cloud on that information. Tailoring your genius to a particular gig is doubly impresses: it educates and inspires confidence all at once.

By Jeff Norman

Cloud Emergency!

Cloud Emergency!

There is no more storied relationship in human history than the one between man (and woman and child) and disaster. Though the news may only report the most significant catastrophes of nature, arriving every few months or so, earth-borne crises arise and affect life daily. Quickly catching up to that man-versus-nature dynamic in terms of scope is the concept of man and technology, which has rapidly emerged as a tool of expedited progress, for better and for worse. Thankfully, the newest poster child of technological progress — our very own beloved cloud computing — is emerging as of late as a force of positive change in the face of disaster.

As well all know very well by now, cloud’s usefulness, even its existence, is not at all new phenomenon. Products such as e-mail, web video, and even search engines are all previously cloaked examples of the cloud. That these products also prove vital in helping a person or community find assistance and recover from an emergency already attests to cloud’s ability to prevent a disaster from completely assailing the afflicted. Yet now that cloud computing has removed the veil of its name and purpose, several new products have germinated, specifically geared toward promoting progress in the wake of a dire situation.

WebEOC, for instance, stands out as a prime example of cloud computing as a collaborator in a relief effort. The application allows for emergency staff at every social tier — from the neighborhood to the state’s offices — to unite in the design of a targeted response. Microsoft Share Point similarly provides galvanic support during a crisis through the cloud. When implemented in a community — a workplace, a university campus, a government office — the program facilitates a collaborative dynamic between enlisted members regardless of their location, exchanging documents or distributing lists of vital resources and help centers.

Ignoring the cloud’s weak points in terms of emergency management would be folly, however. Well-trained experts will be needed to expand and improve the idea of infrastructure-as-a-service during a disaster; issues with bandwidth and connectivity should not interfere with a response time or an effort to communicate. And we can’t forget that old chestnut, cloud’s trouble with dats protection and power outages, which can be remedied with backup clouds, deeper collaboration between networks, and the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, FedRAMP, which will endow cloud computing with certification protocol.

Head to Emergency Management for a continuation of the complex yet promising conversation of the cloud as a tool of relief and rescue.

By Jeff Norman

Cloud Can Do Anything – But Can It Do Better?

Cloud Can Do Anything – But Can It Do Better?

Forbes Magazine, typically an exponent of the cloud computing movement, recently questioned the trend in an article whose title goes straight for the jugular. Such a critical consideration of cloud and its import is in due order. As the piece points out, the geeks and techies of the world hold the real key to cloud computing, its history, and its ethos. Businesses and the general public have received at best, so far, a facsimile of this key — a feeling of connection to and usefulness of cloud, without responsibility for its origin and its future. But these people obviously lack the technical acumen or the sense of history to make an effective contribution to cloud computing, detractors may whine. I respectfully disagree. For the sustainability of cloud as a palpable entity, not merely an intriguing notion in a fanboy’s eye, everyone must participate in what cloud computing means, and why it matters.

One reason cited for why cloud computing’s relevance has seemingly waned is its similarity to electricity: a powerful yet ubiquitous property whose presence has seeped in everywhere, to a democratizing effect. Since we all have electricity, we’re all equal in an electrical regard. In the same vein, cloud computing wields increasing power to level the playing field between big businesses and SMBs, read-it-first tech obsessives and Joe Schmoes who’ll stumble onto iCloud. However, cloud computing as an equalizer doesn’t necessarily translate into the cloud as shrewd tool of progress. This is where cloud computing and electricity understandably differ. The latter has had more than a century of both streamlining and diversification, while the newbie cloud hasn’t yet grown completely into its full potential to both fuel IT equality and spark business strategy.

But cloud computing can undoubtedly mature into such fruition. Its propensity to improve how connected we are to our devices, documents, and digital forays is redefining the concept of being “plugged in.” With the cloud, networking is a state of mind engaged with through every product owned. Obviously cloud is emerging as a noteworthy condenser of time and labor as well. And the idea of “customer intimacy,” as pointed out by the Forbes piece, is also a major tenet and pioneering quality in which cloud is becoming an undisputed king.

What will nurture the cloud, helping to foster such hope for its future? In my view, it will be an emphasis on cloud computing as togetherness. Those of us who concentrate on how well it can unite us will help to push cloud computing into its capacity to bond us.

By Jeff Norman

The Government And The Cloud: Defining The Relationship

The Government and the Cloud: Defining the Relationship

They say change comes slowly or not at all. The cloud computing movement is thankfully maintaining a slow crawl over the powers-that-be in our governments at every level: local, state, national, even international. (But let’s save the complex, meaty discussion of the global cloud for another piece.) Although practically all of us are quite aware of the influence cloud exerts over the Internet-savvy members of our communities — that is to say, “everybody” — the government still hesitates to truly engage with the growing technological power. True, our leaders and their processes rarely belly-flop into any venture. Yet, with the pace at which cloud is growing, shouldn’t our leading administration make a bigger effort to get hip?

One cogent reason for that hipness to set in asap is how cloud computing is rewriting the definition of boundary in government. Specifically, the cloud is slowly but surely restructuring the division between the public and private sectors. The concept of information technology as business is a primary impetus in this restructuring. Certain sectors predicted last May that the cloud would explode into both sectors, and that prognostication seems to be holding true. Yet a failure to acknowledge and embrace this news will sooner or later do harm to how relevant and effectual our country’s management can be.

In light of this news, should each jurisdiction of government, at every level, conduct a cloud summit? Such a measure would grant an organization the time and focus to clearly consider the place of cloud in both culture and leadership today, potentially equipping it with advantages that streamline and optimize operations. What would a hypothetical version of such a summit comprise of? Surely it should deal with, at a minimum, the precise applications that should be placed in the cloud; the concept and implementation of data security; and the importance of the cloud to daily operations and to a long-term governmental strategy.

Getting governmental bodies comfortable with the concept of the cloud could prove more than a notion. Bureacracy’s well-worn hesitancy to adopt to speedy change position it at odds with cloud computing, whose clout mushrooms by the hour it seems. Enlisting well-vetted experts will be essential to establishing a safe and structured framework through which to introduce cloud’s possibilities to top brass in charge.

The government’s penchant to deliberate and filibuster will not accommodate cloud’s growth. Perhaps launching small projects and endeavors in the cloud, as a form of reconnaissance, would prove best. Detailed and pertinent analyses of those endeavors on their influence would definitely need to couple such investigations.

What are your ideas on how cloud and government can best harmonize and potentially improve one another?

By Jeff Norman

The Cloud For Young Entrepreneurs

The Cloud For Young Entrepreneurs

The next generation of outstanding businesspeople will have mastered the cloud, without a doubt. But these businesspeople aren’t just the set of twenty- and thirtysomethings who were wise enough to capitalize on cloud as its import became clearer. The young among us will also stand out among the crowd as they delve into how much cloud computing can offer their seedling enterprises. The moms and dads of potential business powerhouses parent their young with classic cliches of resilience: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Thanks to cloud computing, these youngsters can sell that lemonade like yet another proverbial edible: hotcakes.

Firstly, cloud allows young entrepreneurs to pace their growth. Its inherent technology allows them to harness a third-party service to manage affairs that cannot be prioritized as irrefutably necessary. (Video streaming is one aesthetically appealing example of such a task.) As demand and attention for a business mounts, the cloud can adjust to handle the added hoopla. Youngsters in business should also take to the cloud to economize, via the pay-as-you-go subscription options that have become de rigeur as of late. Paying for a service incrementally instead of in a lump sum saves cash and allows an entrepreneur to structure a plan to foster growth, not bridle or dread it.

Partnering up is the second advantage available to the young and business-inclined via cloud. Several large and well established organizations, such as Google, grant users (virtually) free access to their enormously helpful services. Such a set-up frees entrepreneurs from worry over mounting and maintaining an infrastructure for a good while. Multiple collaborators within a single business venture can employ Dropbox or Google Drive to harmonize their output. In fact, they can augment their staff, so to speak, with a tool like Freshbooks, which can almost act like an additional employee, albeit one whose sole focus is on invoicing. Again, this aspect of cloud computing allows an entrepreneur to concentrate on duties more critical to a business at present.

Lastly, cloud computing can pinpoint a young business’ progress. The technology has grown sophisticated enough to buoy a business who would have previously battled difficulty in exposure to reach customers and produce revenue. With tools like Google Analytics and Geckoboard, entrepreneurs can gauge activity and engagement on their websites and in their social media presence. When the new Meg Whitman or Warren Buffett sprouts, anticipate her or him beelining to the cloud to take launch and conquer.

By Jeff Norman

Customers And The Cloud: What Has It Done For Them Lately?

Customers and the Cloud: What Has It Done for Them Lately?

Too often, in my opinion, does the conversation on cloud computing circle around the gurus on the top and the fanboys that chase their coattails. Cloud is no different than any other technological revolution in that it provides a nurturing forum for otherwise outcast yet knowledgeable nerds to unite in esoteric discourse. But people, the nerds aren’t alone in purchasing cloud product. They don’t even comprise the majority of cloud consumption. That distinction falls to that lowly, knowledge-challenged, directionless and impressionable flock of sheep known as the general public. Sheep they may be, isn’t it high time we acknowledge their baas?

After all, these customers have been making use of the cloud unawares for years now. Or has the cloud been making use of their silent, unwitting participation? Gmail and Facebook made no active show of introducing themselves as “cloudy.” They elided that “techy,” too-smart-for-’em detail. Such cloud-enabled products, to be fair, boasted much to be attracted to; their being subtly forced upon the masses was a mutually desired occurrence. Now that more of the general public has awoken to the news of the cloud, do they refuse to push the cloud away? Heavens, no. Cloud computing’s simplicity and velocity come quite close to justifying the subterfuge of its introduction.

I have another bone to pick with the cloud gurus and fanboys. I’m writing to advocate for the customers whom they influence. The average consumer no longer writes off the term “cloud computing” as just some geek’s drug-induced daydream amid the cirrus. But as previously distracting diction loses impact, inflammatory fear tactics have replaced it. I’m talking about the too-popular narrative of “cloud as security risk.” The most noteworthy services and products in the cloud now tout state-of-the-art measures to protect data. And should such a service ever close on a consumer, she’s always had ample time to retrieve or relocate her data. I don’t mean to claim that cloud security is no longer a spicy subject. I simply believe that our community should encourage consumers to take it with a grain of salt.

Bottom line: why can’t the consumers and the cloud cognoscenti collaborate? We have all submitted to cloud’s authority. It’s challenged our perspective on data’s nature. Trying to abstain from it would mean living beneath a rock. But living in intellectual animosity between one another is an equally hard place.

By Jeff Norman

Adobe And Sears Aim For Cloud Prominence

Adobe and Sears Aim for Cloud Prominence

When it rains, it pours. On the coattails of Google’s Drive cloud announcement rides word that two other companies, one predictable and the other mildly surprisingly, have made up their minds to clear their own cloud computing pathways. Is this sudden urge to jump on cloud’s bandwagon indicative of its newly cemented position as “relevant and here to stay,” or merely a maneuver by financially rather flaccid groups to make a quick payday?  Your answer to this is as good as mine.

Vanguard software company Adobe is finally, finally making a move on the cloud, no doubt stirred by well publicized products from Apple and Microsoft. The producer of Photoshop and Flash is now introducing Creative Suite 6, the most recent edition of its claim-to-fame software package for designer and developers on the Internet. Where the cloud goes, a monetized catch seems to follow; Adobe has decided to offer Creative Suite 6 as a subscription-based component of its Creative Cloud offering, now available for pre-orders.

For $50 a year, or $75 a month sans contract, Creative Suite 6 users will be entitled to download, install, and access Flash, Acrobat, Illustrator, indeed the entire gamut of Adobe’s software output, from any computer of their choosing. Alternatively, users may cherry-pick their favorite programs to enjoy a la carte. (Cheaper pricing is offered to already existing customers, in addition to students, teachers, and business teams.)

Remember “the softer side of Sears?” Once one of the catchiest tag-lines in history, it now only serves as the location of the sales figures for the erstwhile retail juggernaut. Indeed, the company’s salad days came to an end long ago. But in an effort to rebuild its stature and reclaim its relevance, Sears is making like Adobe and hotfooting it to the cloud.

Its recently purchased subsidiary, MetaScale, will now look to corner the market on remote data management. In an effort to either warmly introduce the new venture, or to save face after more than a decade of business ennui, Sears claims, via its reps, to consider MetaScale as a logical continuation of its recent focus on Infrastructure-as-a-Service.

Like much of Sears’ activities of late, many of MetaScale’s terms of operation remain shrouded in mystery. Its clients, its fees, its revenue prospects, and its size of workforce have (purposefully?) not yet been clarified. What does come across, clear as a bell, is Sears’ obvious inspiration for its MetaScale cloud endeavor: Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

Will MetaScale match its forerunner in impact? We’ll have to eventually see its softer side to tell.

By Jeff Norman

Xerox Exclaims Its Cloud Pride

Xerox Exclaims Its Cloud Pride

On the cusp of big news from Google per its new Drive cloud offering, Xerox is following hot the big G’s heels with some vital cloud news of its very own today.

We’re ready to start talking about it,” Xerox Cloud Services’ vice president Rob Schilperoort said bemusedly to IT World recently. By “it,” Schilperoort was most likely referring to Xerox’s significant change-up and adaptation as a company, from solely document upkeep and outsourcing to an Infrastructure-as-a-Service, as well as moonlighting relatively recently as a Software-as-a-Service provider to boot.

One of Xerox Cloud Services’ most unique and absorbing capacities is to position the cloud as an instrument of disaster relief. Although several cloud companies don’t tout the strength to sustain multiple Enterprise Planning Resource systems — as is necessary during a severe emergency — Xerox’s cloud provides users with extensive backup and recovery tools, including those geared specifically at applications and operating systems. Best of all, servers on Xerox Cloud Services can be revived within a twenty-four hour span.

XCS’ SMB (Small and Medium Businesses) offering also stands out as a company highlight. It offers private network assessment and implementation, exercise management (which simulates an IT disaster for SMBs and preps them on how to cope), and full scale risk assessment to boot.

Indirect sales through resellers and partners have kept the lid on Xerox Cloud Services for the bulk of its existence thus far, as a way to lure small businesses into feeling comfortable dealing with the technology monolith. However, the swelling prominence cloud computing has taken in both business and popular culture has encouraged XCS to come from under its shell and join the fray.

But how well will Xerox navigate the congested and cutthroat waters of outsourcing providers these days? Cloud computing’s reputation for swallowing standard IT outsourcing initiatives — what Xerox has specialized in since the company’s infancy — whole has only augmented over time. In order to emerge the victor, it will behoove Xerox Cloud Services to prioritize the full range of its customers, from small businesses to towering conglomerates.

The good news, in face of the cloud’s raging growth, is that people are moving into it only in fits and starts, not en masse and rapidly. Presenting Xerox Cloud Services’ best foot forward to potential customers at the outset could establish trust and, perhaps, a long and profitable rapport.

By Jeff Norman

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