Author Archives: Pete Knight

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 8

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 8

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 8

Cloud - Padmasree Warior

As we study the innovators who have helped make cloud computing a reality, it becomes apparent that significant and lasting success in the Cloud field depends as much on entrepreneurial vision as it does technical savvy.

Harnessing the technology to get a group of servers, or even server farms to cooperate in a fashion that is capable of handling truly Big Data is a marvel. In the long run, it is probably not half as important as finding a way for the technology to not only generate a profit, but to generate profit for the end users of the technology. In many ways, this has bee as much about proselytizing as it has been about coding and computing.

Two of the strongest voices singing the praises of Cloud Computing for business have been Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology and Strategy Officer at Cisco, and Lauren States, Vice President and CTO of Cloud Computing at IBM.

Warrior took her bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in New Dehli, and holds a masters in Chemical Engineering from Cornell. In 1984 she joined Motorola as one of the few women working at their Arizona facility. In 23 years with the company she held a number positions, including Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Motorola’s Energy Systems Group, and Corporate Vice President and Chief Technology Officer in its Semiconductor Products Sector. Her promotion to CTO in 2003 also brought a senior vice presidency, and in 2005 she was promoted to executive vice president.

While she was CTO at Motorola, the company was awarded the 2004 National Medal of Technology by the President of the United States, the first time the company was so honored. Since joining Cisco in 2007, Warrior has been tasked with aligning corporate strategy and technology development to allow Cisco to anticipate, shape, and lead market transitions. As a senior vice president she led Cisco’s world wide engineering organization and has been responsible for core switching, collaboration, cloud computing and data center/virtualization, and architectures for business transformation.

Lauren States has had a wealth of experience with IBM, beginning as a Systems Engineer in New York City and moving on to roles in sales and marketing. She brings a combined perspective of business and technical expertise to the Cloud discussion.

As vice president of Cloud computing for the IBM Software Group States led the global team responsible for establishing Market Leadership in Cloud Computing. As CTO for the Cloud Computing and Growth Initiatives on IBM’s Corporate Strategy Team, States is responsible for the Technology strategy for the company’s growth in Cloud Computing, business analytics, and emerging markets.

States has written and talked extensively on the growing importance and possibilities of Cloud Strategies.

By Peter Knight

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 7, Ladies Edition

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 7, Ladies Edition

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 7, Ladies Edition

When we think of the stereotypical IT worker, for better or worse, a certain image comes to mind. Fairly or not, we tend to think of some one who takes up IT as a profession as a grown up computer geek, either a very skinny or slightly over weight guy, in either case the result of too many hours in front of the screen resulting in not enough physical activity. This has also resulted in a need for corrective lenses, if your image of the IT worker included tape on the frame of his glasses, we will not argue.

A Man’s WorldJJ-DiGeronimo

The point is, although he may not be seen as the most masculine fellow, he will be in most cases a fellow, a guy, one of the male persuasion. There is a glaring gender gap in the IT world. The Department of Labor predicts that there will nearly 1.4 million computing and IT jobs available by 2020, so there is certainly an opportunity for women to join and advance in the IT world.

Whether they will or not remains to be seen. Since 1991, when women made up 36% of the IT workforce, the numbers have been declining. In 2011, less than 20% of the PhD graduates in computer science, computer engineering, and information science were female. Things were slightly more acceptable at the masteral level, with 30% of the graduates in those disciplines being women, but at the bachelor level only 13% of degrees were handed out to women.

Two Women To Listen To

Many observers feel that Cloud Computing will could make a huge difference in closing the IT gender gap. JJ DiGeronimo, director of Global Cloud Solutions at VMware writes “Cloud computing presents an opportunity for women who are not as heavily focused on the architectural design, and how bits and bytes move through the organization.” DiGeronimo is a 20 year veteran of IT, often in entrepreneurial leadership positions. “We’ll still need women who are technical, but cloud provides the chance to also champion ideas and work cross-functionally to define how IT is delivered to business.”

Lauren Savage, senior vice president for IT Strategy and Governance at State Street Corp., sees the cloud as an opportunity for women to “take the reins.” “Women are definitely becoming more attracted to IT because they see IT becoming a critical function to business performance,” Savage says.

The IT World and the Cloud Community is ready for even more contributions from these innovative women, and others like them.

By Peter Knight

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 6 (Google and VMware)

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 6 (Google and VMware)

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 6 (Google and VMware)

If there is one company that defines the growth and importance of the Internet, the company would have to be Google. Google did not invent everything that it does on the ‘net, and to be sure, some of the things that the company is attempting to do are in arenas where Google is playing catch-up. There is no denying that in Google’s core business, search, they are still the “go-to” application for most users. Google’s power and influence make them a contender in almost any field they choose to operate in. Really, not bad for a company that a pair of Stanford students started in a friend’s garage in 1997.cloud-google-urz-hozle

Google and the Cloud

One of Google’s first ten employees was Urz Hozle, a former associate professor of computer science at UC Santa Barbara. Hozle’s current title is Google’s Senior VP for technical Infrastructure. Hozle was an early Enthusiast of Cloud computing, but realized that the current data center architecture was insufficient for the needs of Cloud users. Using concepts outlined in his very influential paper “The Data Center as a Computer: An Introduction to the Design of Warehouse-Scale Machines” (co-authored by Luiz Barroso) Hozle supervised the building of Google’s own data centers. These data centers are noteworthy in that they use half the energy of conventional enterprise data centers.

VMware

The heart of Cloud Computing is using resources and equipment located in the virtual world of the Internet to do work for the customer so that he avoids the trouble and expense of actually owning the resources or equipment himself.

The current IT scenario for most businesses is running behind because of these expenses. As IT goes, so does the core business in the modern market place, and it is a rare firm that can afford to keep up using its own hardware.

VMware officially launched in Feb, 1999 and delivered its first product, the VMware Workstation, in May of the same year. The company entered the server market in 2001.

The VMware Workstation is a “hypervisor”, or virtual machine management system, which allows users to set up and use one or more virtual machines using their own x64 computers. In essence, the hypervisor allows several operating systems to run on a single computer, including OS which are not designed for the native computer architecture.

VMware cofounder Edouard Bugnion, the company’s chief architect left the company in 2004 to found Nuova Systems, which was funded and eventually acquired by Cisco. In 2008 VMware announced that they would be collaborating with Cisco to provide joint data center solutions.

By Peter Knight

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 5

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 5

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 5

sales-force-marc

Marc Benioff has been called a pioneering “guerrilla marketer” of Software as a Service. USAToday credits him with “turning the software industry on its head” as he used the Internet to “revamp the way software programs are designed and distributed”.

Salesforce.com

Benioff grew up in San Francisco, and joined Oracle soon after graduating from USC in 1986. Unlike so many of the Silicon Valley legends, Benioff’s educational background was not in computers, but in Business Administration, although he did have a computer background as a kid. He was named Rookie of the Year at Oracle, and within three years became the company’s youngest Vice President. In March 1999, he helped to found salesforce.com, and became a leading evangelist for Software as a Service.

Salesforce.com started in a small San Francisco apartment with a stated mission of “The End Of Software”. The software/hardware debate goes back to the earliest days of personal computing and the Menlo Park Homebrew Computer Club where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak got their start. Software is the heart of the giant Microsoft as well as many other notable tech firms.

When Benioff calls for the death of software, what he means is the end of buying software and putting it on your own computer. Salesforce.com was developed on the model of Software as a Service (SaaS), where the software a business uses is accessed through the Internet on a Cloud application. Benioff’s partners in salesforce.com had previously worked on Clarify, and developed a sales automation software.

Considered a leader in enterprise cloud computing, CRM, Customer Relationship Management is the heart of salesforce.com. Their products include the Sales Cloud, the Service Cloud, the Force.com platform, Chatter, Wor.com, AppExchange, and other services.

The cloud used by salesforce.com is hosted by Oracle. In fact since leaving the company to form salesforce.com, Benioff has maintained close ties to his mentors at Oracle, but as the importance of Cloud Computing increases, the two companies find themselves as competitors, often not friendly competitors. Salesforce.com is increasing its commitment to the open-source database PostgreSQL. PostgreSQL is seen as a threat to Oracle’s core database offering.

By Peter Knight

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 4

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 4

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 4

Cloud has been a metaphor for the Internet for almost as long as there has been an Internet. As early as 1961 there were predictions “computing may someday be organized as a public utility just as the telephone system is a public utility…”John_McCarthy_Stanford

MIT/Standford Professor John McCarthy had predicted eight years before the ARPAnet began laying the foundations of the Information Super Highway, and thirteen years before Tim Berners-Lee established the World Wide Web at CERN.

As ancient as the prediction seems, it sounds a lot like what is happening today in the “Cloud Computing Revolution”. The technology we recognize as the Cloud can be traced to the giant servers developed for the on line retailer Amazon. While modernizing their data centers in the wake of the “Dot Com Bubble”, Amazon began to realize that there was income potential in the vast server farms developed for the Amazon Store. Amazon Web Services officially launched in 2006 to provide cloud computing to external customers, or a “public cloud”.

Eucalyptus Systems

Eucalyptus Systems founder Rich Wolski was a lead researcher at UC Santa Barbara on the Virtual Grid Application Software Project (VGrADS). VgraDS, with funding from the National Science Foundation, investigated large scale computational grid applications, with real world applications in the field of weather prediction, among others. In the fall of 2007, as VgrADS entered its last year, Wolski realized that the project needed to investigate ways to combine the NSF Supercomputers, with the commercial public Clouds. Wolski recognized that Amazon Web Services was the most appealing public cloud for his needs. The open source Eucalyptus software was developed using AWS APIs (Application Programming Interface) as an industry standard.

Rich-Wolski

One of the most attractive elements of Eucalyptus is its Open Source nature, using elements which are freely available as part of Linux distributions. Eucalyptus is designed to be used as a “Linux tool” rather than a separate platform. The Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (powered by Eucalyptus) was part of the Ubuntu 09.04 release.

Earlier in 2009, Eucalyptus began commercializing as an Open Source Company. Eucalyptus is a leading software platform for Infrastructure as a Service private cloud applications. Founder Rich Wolski has garnered praise from Cisco Cloud CTO and OpenStack senior director Lew Tucker, not as a competitor, but as a “passionate Cloud enthusiast who can work out magic in the essentials of cloud computing.

By Peter Knight

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 3

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 3

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 3

Lew Tucker

lewtucker-cloud

Cisco Systems was one of the companies which rode the wave of success popularly known as the “Dot Com Boom” of the late Nineties. Unlike many of the tech companies that fell to ruin when the Dot Com Bubble burst, Cisco has managed to remain relevant and innovating in the post-Bubble tech world.

There is a perception that Cisco’s core business is “routers and switches”, not the most exciting of hardware, yet indispensable on the working on the Internet, in fact, any computer network. As the battle for bandwidth developed in the first decade of the 21st century, Cisco was positioned to develop hardware systems that blurred the lines between routing and switching, in contrast to the earlier software based packet processing models.

When Cisco made the decision to become a player in the Cloud Computing Market, one of their first moves was to call on Lew Tucker. Tucker is one of the “old hands” with more than 20 years experience in the high tech industry, ranging from distributed systems and artificial intelligence to software development and systems architecture.

Before joining Cisco, Tucker had been the CTO for Cloud Computing at Sun Microsystems. When he got the call from Cisco, his reaction was that Cisco was a “switch and router company” while his Cloud building experience focused on “complex distributed computing systems”. Cisco countered that they are a networking company, and Tucker came to realize that their hardware based model could be an effective way to create fully automated Cloud systems.

Tucker is a vice-chairman of the OpenStack Foundation and has adopted OpenStack as the cloud platform for Cisco’s WebEx, a market leading Software as a Service collaboration Solution. Interestingly, Tucker is an unabashed fan of Rich Wolski, co-founder of Eucalyptus Systems, one of OpenStack’s leading competitors.

By Peter Knight

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 2

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 2

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 2

Cloudscaling

As Cloud Computing becomes more pRandy-Biasrominent and influential, a few voices rise to the top to define what it means to operate in a Cloud environment.

One of the most respected and influential of these voices is Cloudscaling co-founder and CTO, Randy Bias. Bias is a recognized expert in IT Infrastructure and one of the leading innovators in the implementation of GoGrid’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model. GoGrid had launched the beta version public cloud in 2008 and is currently a leading host of Windows/Linux virtual machines.

Bias built one of the first multi-platform, multi-cloud management systems at Cloudscale Networks. He led the way to open licensing of GoGrid’s Application Programming Interface (API), which in turn inspired Sun Microsystems, Rackspace Cloud, Vmware, and others to embrace open licensing.

Along with Adam Waters, whose background is in IP networking, routing and datacenter operations, Bias founded Cloudscaling. The company serves enterprises, service providers, and web application providers with elastic cloud infrastructure. Elastic Cloud refers to services that have the agility and performance of Amazon Web Services, yet are deployable in the customer’s own datacenter, remaining under the IT teams control.

Cloudscaling has embraced OpenStack project as a core technology. Randy Bias is one of Open Stack’s eight gold-sponsor board members.

OpenStack

OpenStack is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) project based on free open source software. The software based on code contributed from NASA/Nebula platform and RackSpace’s Cloud Files platform.

The project is committed to an open design and development process and is scheduled for updates every six months. More than 150 companies have joined the project, including AMD, Intel, Dell, IBM, Vmware, and some significant players in the Linux scene, Canonical (Ubuntu), SUSE Linux, and Red Hat.

Part of OpenStack’s appeal as open source software is that the team has worked hard to make the APIs compatible with the other players in the Cloud Market, especially Amazon Web Services. Applications written for Amazon can usually be used on OpenStack with minimal porting effort.

Currently, The OpenStack Foundation is directed by Jonathon Bryce. Bryce’s older brother was one of the first 12 employees at RackSpace, and he was happy to bring his computer-savvy little brother along. In 2005, the younger Bryce left RackSpace to form his own Cloud Hosting Service, Mosso Cloud. Mosso continued run its servers from RackSpace data centers, and soon the company and its Cloud applications grew at such a rate that Bryce had been invited back to lead RackSpace.

It was Bryce’s vision that led to contacting NASA to share the development of what would become OpenStack, and Bryce was appointed to head the OpenStack Foundation.

By Peter Knight

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 1

Heroes Of The Cloud – Part 1

Heroes Of The Cloud

Cloud computing is gaining an increase in recognition as “the next big thing” in the digital world which in turn affects the world and society as a whole. Cloud Computing is a relatively new concept with many still trying to get their heads around, but in all due time. Yet the industry has already developed a rich and fascinating history.

Over the next few days, we will be investigating this history in our Heroes of the Cloud series. It would be interesting and informing to focus the series on the people who are driving cloud growth, as a rule these pioneers are all young geniuses whose biggest contribution likely lies in the future. Instead, we will concentrate on the companies that these pioneers currently have on the ground. Along the way, we are bound to point out more than a few “geniuses worth watching”.

Nebulakemp-cloud

As the company says in their official blog, how can they avoid shooting for the stars when their story begins at NASA?

Nebula co-founder Chris Kemp got his start working at the local Apple Store. While still in University he created an on-line grocery shopping service for Kroger Stores, and has been involved with net-startups ever since. In 2006 he joined NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley help create public-private partnerships to make the space agency’s data more accessible to the public. Along the way Kemp formed partnerships with Google Earth and Microsoft, essentially bartering NASA data for funding.

It soon became obvious that NASA was going to need a private Cloud, and as CIO Kemp directed the installation of an Amazon Web Services-type infrastructure, housed in shipping containers and powered by excess electricity for the decommissioned NASA/Ames wind tunnels. The result was the NASA-Nebula project, which would eventually power other clouds for the Federal Government.

The software that NASA-Nebula had been using became unreliable, so in response to a communication from Rackspace hosting, an open-source cloud initiative known as the OpenStack Project was launched in July, 2010. Late in 2010, Kemp was placed in contact with Andy Bechtolsheim, the angel investor who helped to fund Sun Microsystems in 1982 and Google in 1998. Bechtolsheim was signalling his confidence that OpenStack had the potential to be as important in the coming decade as Sun and Google had been earlier.

One year after the launch of the OpenStack Project, Nebula Inc. was announced. Nebula’s stated mission is to enable all businesses to easily, securely, and inexpensively build large scale-out computing infrastructures.

By Peter Knight

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