Author Archives: Jeff Norman

The Art of Professional (and Personal) Branding with the Cloud

The Art of Professional (and Personal) Branding with the Cloud

Branding — the watchword of the zeitgeist. From billion-dollar conglomerates to everyday individuals who dream of reshaping their image, it seems as if we’re all on a mission to brand ourselves and shape other’s perceptions of us. When properly executed, a branding (or re-branding) effort can augment a business’ profile and revenue, attract a more influential network, and help a person or company follow trend or transition into a more appropriate, compelling image. Do you know what other concept continues to gain traction, and positive branding, for achieving these very same ideals? If you said “cloud computing,” give yourself a shiny gold star.

Indeed, the cloud is enjoying an ever-increasing and improving persona as a tool essential for anyone who aspires to greater efficiency, creativity, and (potentially) profit. Rumor has it that cloud computing can also tag-team with a branding strategy, on levels both personal and professional, to positively redefine who uses it. Here are a couple ideas on just how this cloud-branding harmony can be accomplished:

Harness cloud computing to prep for a massive inflow of visitor traffic during a (re)branding campaign. Many of the greatest and most effective marketing missions in business history never came to be, due to those missions’ failure to cogently answer a key question: how will the client’s website handle the skyrocketing demand and visitor influx? We’re happy to report that cloud computing offers an attractively flexible answer to this question.

Cloud-based web servers can upscale to absorb a spike in hits and interest, preventing a crash, while those same servers can downscale as the attention ebbs. With the cloud, a well-marketed, shiny and new web campaign will withstand the positive pandemonium every branding effort prays for.

Configure your cloud correctly to brand your business/client on outstanding customer/fan service. Say that, during a (re)branding period, a massive change to your virtual interactions ensues. You dismantle your old blog in order to refurbish a new one, for example. Or your team has yet to eradicate every bug and glitch to your business’ sparkling, souped-up web site, so you need time to troubleshoot. Such fissures in web presence can spell frustration for regular customers or interested fans, who might complain/unfollow/un-Like in protest.

You can address and allay this dismay, however, by establishing a special phone number or temporary site, via the cloud. Cloud computing’s flexibility also enables you to reach out to your web community before, during, and after a major re-tooling. All of these steps both preserve your respect and declare that your fans/customers come first, cementing their loyalty and potentially attracting more interest.

Cloud loving readers: how have you used the cloud to help fuel and sustain your (re)branding campaign?

By Jeff Norman

Air Force and Army Clouds Debate: Commercial or Gov’t?

Air Force and Army Clouds Debate: Commercial or Gov’t?

It is now official: cloud computing now has serious gov cred. We recently learned that the Air Force was strongly considering the possibility of leaping into the cloud, as a strategy to slash the girth of maintenance and operations in their budget, as well as to tighten security measures. Many readers will wince at that last aim; cloud computing and great security are hardly synonymous, they will muse. The Air Force has nevertheless honed in on several of the cloud’s virtues from a military perspective.

These advantages may lie in cloud’s capacity for “zero” and “thin clients;” the former entails the classic cloud computing setup of just a keyboard, monitor, and mouse, no additional processor to be found. A “thin client” expands on the “zero client” with the addition of an integrated processor, ideal for graphics and media — which might come in handy for an everyday military operation, we think. (Wink, wink.)

Both the cloud’s “zero” and “thin” clients would actually enhance security. The lack of physical processing power prevents someone from uploading software, reducing the risk of virus contraction. Updating these computing units is a snap via the cloud, since one click can disseminate a major change to all relevant units. The clients would also liberate Air Force personnel to flit between computer terminals more quickly, since their data would be stored — and protected — up yonder.

Word recently broke that the Army has also worked up a notion to hop aboard the cloud. The imposing military branch presented nine cloud-enabled companies with contracts, including Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Northrop Grumman. Like the Air Force, the Army is seeking to slim down and economize. Unlike the Air Force, the Army appears to have already decided to focus on the possibilities of a commercially nurtured cloud. The airborne military branch continues to waver in a decision between a commercial or government cloud provider.

Commercial cloud computing, the Air Force holds, would offer a greater amount of monetary savings. A government cloud proposal, in contrast, could lead to more taut barriers vis-a-vis data protection and security. It’s a choice of frugality against frugality over defense, both of which are key aims that the military at large looks to espouse.

We leave it to you readers: if you were heading the Air Force, which type of cloud structure would you select?

By Jeff Norman

Food, Water, Shelter, Cloud: The New Essential For Budding Entrepreneurs

Food, Water, Shelter, Cloud: The New Essential for Budding Entrepreneurs

Thanks to cloud computing, entrepreneurship has never seemed so inviting. The cloud instinctively sizes itself to the needs of a business, eradicating overspending. In addition, its ease of access and zero expenditure on capital significantly simplify launch time. Even Forbes is proclaiming cloud computing’s advantages for a new wave of “lightweight” upstarts.

Here’s an outline of three top tactics entrepreneurs should heed to best profit from cloud:

Reconnoiter.

Entrepreneurs ought to implement the cloud throughout the process of developing their product or business, particularly during the architecting phase. They should give ample thought to the size of power they’ll count on from the cloud, and the source of said power: one large source of data, or several small pockets of streaming availability. Consider team size; is this a solo operation, or should one or two niche experts be brought in? Emphasis on “one or two:” any start-up based on the cloud should be run by a team as lean as possible.

Take baby steps with the big boys.

A full-scale overhaul move into the cloud is not strictly essential for budding entrepreneurs and fresh business plans. Incremental entry can also work well. Needs such as data storage and e-mail duties are well-trod areas within the cloud and make for a nice starting point. Entrepreneurs should incorporate more elements of their business as their cloud acumen augments. What’s more, this incorporation should take place via the products of the Big Three: Microsoft, Amazon, or Google. These juggernauts of the cloud aren’t necessarily the best for the long haul, but they provide exceptional support to fledgling operations who are looking to capitalize on cloud, not succumb to the confusion that can surround it.

Don’t rush in; source out.

The cloud’s resources enable entrepreneurs to add substance to their business’ supplies at a much slower pace. Issues such as server capacity and scaling no longer hinder new enterprises. However, these benefits from cloud computing begin to shrink after two or three years of operation; IT costs will eventually catch up with any entrepreneur. Those two to three years are the perfect opportunity for her to seriously bone up on her IT/cloud knowledge, developing a new roster of tech skills to effectively navigate the coming demands. New entrepreneurs can also outsource complex duties like quality assurance during this time, letting them concentrate on their strengths (design, advertising, sales, what have you).

By Jeff Norman

Cloud Computing Cracks Job Crisis Conundrum?

Cloud Computing Cracks Job Crisis Conundrum?

As our country continues its procession toward the 2012 presidential election, the nation’s employment woes continue to vex communities and rank as the first concern on the platforms of pundits and candidates. In my opinion, cloud computing should definitely elbow the job crisis on the docket of relevant issues. Recent reports have proven the cloud’s ability to vitaminize American job markets for the long haul, and not solely in IT.

A newly released report and infographic show how cloud computing will create 20,000 new jobs in the City of Brotherly Love, many of them in the information technology sector. Philadelphia will also enjoy the cloud’s “spillover” effect, in that several other job categories (including education, retail, and healthcare) will also experience job growth as a result of the cloud’s influence on efficiency.

Skeptics might blow off this news as a silly Philly phenomenon. Yet the cloud actually stands to amplify jobs worldwide, by up to 30% in 2015. Stateside, an array of major metropolises will enjoy this growth, from perennial powerhouse New York City to the beleaguered Detroit and Washington, D.C. (in which the cloud will magnify its employment presence by 18% and 19.3%, respectively). These figures encompass both public and private or hybrid jobs, further indication that this growth isn’t just a niche venture.

How exactly is the cloud accomplishing such heroic job creation figures? The Sand Hill Group recently published a study gauging the specifics on cloud’s employment potential, which Forbes elaborated on. It found that cloud computing has a brilliant propensity to empower efficiency for even the riskiest type of companies, venture capitals, who relish the cloud for its slashing of start-up costs and seemingly astronomical annual growth potential. The cloud also wins brownie points for enabling small businesses (the lifeblood of American employment) to launch quickly, due to minuscule required investment to get started, and elevating them shoulder to shoulder with big businesses from the get-go.

So we’re clear: cloud computing could potentially remedy American unemployment, at least to a sizable degree. But is this some esoteric hope that escapes the government’s ability, or willingness, to implement it? Refreshingly, no. U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra recently authored a Federal Cloud Computing Strategy report, detailing how Capitol Hill could capitalize on the technology to improve its own efficiency. If the cloud can improve governmental operations in-house, perhaps the Obama administration will see fit to try the cloud on for size nationwide.

We’d love to hear from you! What are measures you think our gov’t should take to more fully embrace cloud computing and its potential?

By Jeff Norman

Bill Gates Caves In To The Cloud?

Bill Gates Caves In to the Cloud?

Apparently, even Bill Gates battled his own personal Bogeyman.

A new article penned by Austin Edwards, aka “The Motley Fool,” alleges that the technological legend was forced into an early retirement by a fear of the then unknown and upcoming “cloud.” Apparently Mr. Gates had sent a foreboding message to the top flight members of his company, alerting them to a “disruptive wave [which was] about to wash over the entire world, forever changing the way we get information and do business.” To save face, Gates would never publicly name the cloud as this “wave” and foe that even his particular genius could not hold off.

But it doesn’t require Mr. Gates’ brilliance to identify cloud computing as the new tech vogue with the vroom to endure. Its reach has already crept into how the general public interacts with the Internet, and has even influenced how people communicate with one another within the Web. In his article, the Motley Fools expands his argument by comparing this boom in cloud computing to the advent of electricity.

Everyone can simply ‘tap into’ the cloud,” he believes, in order to access a gamut of tools and resources that sustain businesses and personal lives both on and away from our computers. “[Just] like [with] electricity,” the cloud is becoming an “enormous” industry.

But “enormous” doesn’t equal invincible. Gates’ Microsoft continues to rank as a vanguard within the cloud, having shape-shifted as an strategy of adaptation to modernity, or of survival in futurity. A bevy of well-advertised products, including Microsoft 365, Windows Azure, and the management- and security-specific Windows Intune, trends well with consumers. Not to mention the brand-name appeal: people are just more likely to buy a cloud product with Gates’ stamp prominent.

The thorny riskiness inherent to the cloud also continues to lodge itself deeper in the technology’s side. Should a cloud company suffer a power outage, organizations involved with it ache in turn. Such a threat will always prevent cloud computing from maximizing its potential to trounce Microsoft and other such juggernauts.

In actuality, the cloud is slowly but surely threatening substantial upheaval to another big hitter: the corporate world. Jobs centered on internal IT development within this sector are on the fence, with cloud computing brandishing an ax not far away. Up to half a year is required to develop a new corporate server; in the cloud, that time shrinks to mere hours. Plus, the cloud is also reducing the need for copious staff to maintain the groundwork once in place.

Perhaps the cloud never truly played the role of Gates’ Bogeyman; it was too busy consternating corporate America.

By Jeff Norman

Cloud Apps of the Week: Comondo Cloud

Cloud Apps of the Week: Comondo Cloud

From sexy Emmy winners to tip-top security, this week’s selection of apps keeps both entertainment and assurance at the fore.

Let’s not get started on the heated discussion of whether (or not) Crocs count as viable footwear. For every detractor, it seems like two Croc-oholics come along right on cue. A brand new app is targeted squarely at such connoisseurs of Crocs, called Crocs Mix & Match. (Search for the most recent app using your smartphone now.) This application, available on both the iPhone and the Android, allows users to virtually sample and even try on their favorite pair of the comfy shoes. Free of cost, this application works by the user snapping a shot of their outfit and uploading it. The app then flits through around three hundred of the latest Crocs models — including boat shoes, penny loafers, and wedges — sorting through them in pursuit of the most ideal Crocs for your particular ten toes.

Modern Family, Mad Men, Downton Abbey — the inescapable pandemonium for all of these shows, and countless others, is undeniably due (in part) to the hugely warm reception they annually from the Emmy Awards, celebrating the best in television. Industry insiders are elected each year to decide who’ll get the trophies every September; obviously, they’ll need to watch more than a few hours of TV, on ready-to-watch DVDs called “screeners,” to make the best choice. Enter the first-ever Emmy screener iPad application, also known as the NBCU Screen It app, powered by Brightcove’s App Cloud. Now Emmy voters will have the incentive of watching Sofia Vergara or Jon Hamm in beautiful form, thanks to the cloud’s assets to entertainment.

In response to increasing public scrutiny of the cloud re: its security, several cloud security apps have been released. Among the most noteworthy of these is Comodo Cloud, which helps protects users’ data by storing it in multiple locations via its sync features. Five gigabytes of free storage are available right off the bat, and every file a user uploads is automatically backed up. With a download size of just over 1M, Comodo Cloud is also quite ideal for those with little space for such a helpful application.

Another security app you should know about is Bitdefender’s Safebox, which offers users 2 gigs of space gratis, with more on offer for a nominal fee. Safebox differs from Comodo in that the app can be manipulated to automatically back up a file whenever it is altered. Whichever app you pick, you won’t go wrong, but rather securely right.

By Jeff Norman

Banking On Cloud Computing

Banking On Cloud Computing

Kylie Minogue’s classic song, “I Just Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” could double as the theme song for the current tech zeitgeist as it relates to the cloud. Everyone seems to be either embracing or debating cloud computing around proverbial water coolers. Even our grandmothers are wise to the new truth that mentioning a cloud doesn’t always mean a glance out the window. These septuagenarians (and older) are actually outshining a community whose relevance matters most to our wallets, our banks.

Banks and other financial institutions remain exorbitantly coy about what cloud computing stands to offer them. Begrudgingly, I admit that this is a reasonable fear. The recent economic crisis continues to linger, and public opinion locates banks at the epicenter of the financial quake. These houses of finance are determined to regain our trust; any other unconstrained fiascos would mar their progress toward that goal. Transferring the bulk of data regarding their primary systems to a cloud whose security and data protection are still suspect would definitely not be complete fiasco avoidance.

Yet despite these understandable misgivings, cloud computing offers several assets that savvy, bold banks could capitalize upon. The cloud can galvanize banks’ data processing potential, and magnify their scale of operations. The technology could also augment their everyday efficiency, letting them save on labor and channel employees’ smarts toward the end of bettering their computerized operations.

The BBC already reports how one gutsy bank is already feasting on the spoils of its cloud conversion. BBVA, a banking juggernaut in Spain, Mexico, and parts of the American south, has adapted its data to Google’s family of cloud services, such as GMail. Their aim in such a conversion: to “achieve a cultural change” and get “the whole company working together,” a worthy goal whose reward arrives in the form of heightened revenue, as well as in improved “innovation,” decisiveness, and “productivity.”

So what needs to happen for even more banks to make like BBVA and leap to the cloud? For one thing, some more time needs to pass, so that banks can have enough capital in order to leverage a substantial tech move. They’ll need to emulate BBVA’s insistence on “legacy systems,” or trustworthy repositories for old e-mails and other information, which allow employees to enter the cloud with a minimum of discombobulation. Simple moves like these will attract more banks to cloud computing, and (crossing fingers) inspire a new wave of efficiency and fidelity in the depositories of our hard-earned dollars.

By Jeff Norman

Megatrends “Cloud” PC Judgment

Megatrends “Cloud” PC Judgment

Legend bids us to beware the Ides of March. Recent cloud computing news is actually recalibrating this phrase of fear for a future warning of woe, aimed directly at the PC community: mind the tide of 2014. For in that year, cloud bloggers predict en masse, the era of the personal computer will draw to a close, supplanted by a new and widespread entity, also known as the PC.

Indeed, the PC will replace the PC. In a wave of confusing acronyms, the Gartner Newsroom provides clarity. The blog recently presented a set of forthcoming “Megatrends” in technology that will usher in the administration of the new PC, the “personal cloud.”

Among the five trends explicated, three hold particular merit. Few sectors would deny, for instance, that “the advent of the cloud for servicing individual users opens a whole new level of opportunity,” stated in the fourth Megatrend. The cloud has provided for both a democratization and autonomy in the relationship between computer users and technology. No longer are they subservient to too-clever tech tricks. Instead they’re blossoming, now that technology is inspiring them to innovate and explore.

There’s equally little to gripe about with Megatrend 5, “The Mobility Shift,” which claims that the kinesthetic interactivity displayed by the majority of cloud-powered devices brands cloud computing as exceptionally friendly and congenial to users. Arguably the most cogent Megatrend featured is the first, which declares “you ain’t seen nothing yet.” Heartily agreed. Cloud’s biggest heyday is yet to come, especially as it continues to surmount its challenges of still-troubled security concerns and an overall lack of familiarity with tech laymen.

But why is the cloud blogosphere ringing that other PC’s (the personal computer) death knell so darn soon? Twenty-three months seems awfully quick for a deeply entrenched and established enterprise, with which generations now are so comfortable, to out and out vanish. Both cloud devices and applications still seem expensive when paired with really cheap PCs and their requisite software. And although the media has been Apple-obsessed for years on end now, the general public has yet to be entirely swayed on PCs being “uncool” or “so twenty years ago.”

Personally, I’m all for both PCs continuing to gain momentum in both their technical sophistication and value to Joe Public. These concepts of reigns and administrations are, in my view, old hat. I support rivalries, respectful adversaries, unafraid to compete passionately for those lovely two syllables, “better.” As to which is wholly better, the cloud or the PC, I’m on the fence. But I await 2014, or whichever year when a new tech king will be crowned, with baited breath. Until then, two refrains come to mind:

Long live the PC. Up with the cloud.”

By Jeff Norman

CloudTweaks Comics
Explosive Growth Of Data-Driven Marketing

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Cloud Infographic: Programming Languages To Build Your Cloud

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