Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Cloud Infographic – Capitalizing On Convergence In Your City

Cloud Infographic – Capitalizing On Convergence In Your City

Capitalizing On Convergence In Your City

Plan for the Future

“Cloud implementations must address immediate needs but a successful cloud strategy must be flexible enough to respond to rapidly changing business conditions.

By 2020, there will be more than 50 billion devices and objects connected through the Internet of Things and the Internet of Everything (IoE). With this and similar trends in mind, CIOs must anticipate how this will impact their business in terms of cost, security, customer expectations, speed of execution, and the ability to quickly adapt.”

Read Full Article By Nick Earle

In 2013, less than 20% of data was “touched” by the cloud. By 2020, that number is expected to double to 40%. There is $4.6 trillion in potential value that can be harnessed by utilizing the capabilities of the Internet of Things (IOT).  Included is an infographic discovered at GovTech which illustrates the impact and future growth potential of IOT in this burgeoning new industry.

Are you looking to collaborate and list your infographic on CloudTweaks? Contact us on how to get involved.

cisco-infographic

Security Breach – 80 Million Health Insurer Accounts Exposed

Security Breach – 80 Million Health Insurer Accounts Exposed

Security Insurer Breach Exposes 80 Million Accounts

The recent hacks and data breaches on large corporations like Sony, Target, Home Depot and many others should be a red flag to organizations to beef up security and encryption of sensitive customer information. As you probably already know, cybersecurity is at a premium in the tech world these days. Apparently, Health Insurer Anthem didn’t get the memo.

dread-security

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

According to ABC News:



Anthem Inc., the second largest U.S. health insurer, said Wednesday that its computers were hacked and data on as many as 80 million customers and employees may have been exposed. Anthem said once it discovered the attack, it immediately made every effort to close the security vulnerability, contacted the FBI and began fully cooperating with their investigation.”

The response from the FBI was very quick, and it’s a good thing that they’re on the case. Agents praised Anthem representatives for reporting the hack so soon. However, hackers were still able to compromise information of 80 million customers, which is possibly the medical information breach in history. For such a large provider, it’s surprising how easy this breach was. It would seem that Wired Magazine concurs:

It seems that Anthem’s so-called state-of-the-art security system didn’t involve encrypting Social Security numbers and birth dates—two pieces of information that are highly valuable to identity thieves. The FBI issued an alert to the healthcare industry last August warning providers that hackers were targeting them after a hospital group called Community Health Systems was hacked, resulting in data on some 4.5 million patients being stolen.”

Anthem, Inc. ensures that no credit card or medical information was stolen and vows to protect sensitive customer information in the future. Anthem will stay with Mandiant, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms, to handle their systems. Hopefully they make some changes in the future so this doesn’t happen again.

By Jason Sander

Consequences Of Combining Off Premise Cloud Storage and Corporate Data

Consequences Of Combining Off Premise Cloud Storage and Corporate Data

Off Premise Corporate Data Storage

Cloud storage is a broad term. It can encompass anything from on premise solutions, to file storage, disaster recovery and off premise options. To narrow the scope, I’ve dedicated the focus of today’s discussion to the more popular cloud storage services—such as Dropbox, Box, OneDrive—which are also known as hosted, off premise solutions.

These services have become widely popular within the consumer market. The explosive growth of the mobile device industry over the past three years has been the main driver for the cloud storage market. Consumers were in search of a way to easily share and access files, pictures and video content across all their devices whether it be a laptop, desktop or smart device. They wanted their content readily accessible and east to access. Companies like Dropbox and Box were the early pioneers of this cloud storage niche that has now become a battleground for the big players such as Google and Microsoft. The competition of this market has benefited the consumer with cost-effective pricing and almost limitless storage. Microsoft includes 1TB of OneDrive storage with the Office 365 subscription and Dropbox cost $99/year for 1TB.

Consumers, now equipped with a DropBox or similar service for personal data, demand the ability to access corporate data on their smart devices or mobile workspace in a similar manner. Initially, this leads to people using their personal accounts to store and share work related documents. With this, a variety of issues surfaced when using this approach; from security to compliance the list runs long. In order to remedy these issues, corporations began buying enterprise accounts from cloud storage providers where a higher degree of security is offered, and access control to data and improved logging addressed some compliance issues.

Service Level Agreement Omission

SLA

Though these services are scrambling to entice the enterprise market, there are still many apprehensions I have that prohibit me from recommending these services for corporate data. First and foremost, the omission of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) guaranteeing the availability of data is a concern. Most IT organizations build resilient networks with three, four or five 9’s of uptime. This equates to a high degree of availability for your corporate data. As a corporate user, you expect (or require) the same level of service for your cloud storage, yet most of these providers only commit to “provide the service as is“, “with all faults” and “as available” while providing no warranty that the service will be uninterrupted, free of harmful components or that the content will be secure or not lost or damaged. These terms and conditions significantly minimize the provider’s responsibility to ensure data is accessible, safe, error-free and uninterrupted. On the flip side, it’s hard to believe a company would accept this type of disclaimer from an internal IT department.

Maintenance Scheduling

Most IT departments schedule routine maintenance windows to patch and upgrade systems when usage is low. These windows typically occur on the weekend or late at night to minimize disruption. Cloud storage providers reserve the right, at their sole discretion, to make necessary unscheduled deployments of changes, updates or enhancements to the Service at any time.  In essence, upgrading their systems whenever they desire.

Also worth considering, is the fact that these services can terminate any account, locking users out of data at any given time with or without cause based on their sole discretion and charge an additional fee to retrieve the data once this occurs.

While the off-premise service providers’ capabilities may fit the needs of consumers, the risk potential when it comes to data loss and security can significantly inhibit satisfaction and productivity for corporate users. To shield your organization from these threats, I suggest leveraging the providers that allow on-premise implementations of their software. By doing so, companies can take advantage of the ease of use and accessibility these applications offer, while enjoying the peace of mind that comes with a higher degree of security, compliance, availability and accessibility of an incredibly valuable asset: their data.

By Marc Malizia

How The Internet Of Things Leads To Cleaner And Greener Public Spaces

How The Internet Of Things Leads To Cleaner And Greener Public Spaces

The Internet Of Things Leads And Greener Public Spaces

The internet of things revolution continues to march forward unabated. As cars, fridges, healthcare, and fitness industries all fall over themselves to take products to markets, one sector which has gone relatively unnoticed is that of waste and waste management. While the internet of things might not literally be able to take out your garbage for you (yet!), it can certainly help make the whole process considerably more efficient.

One such example of waste management that is being revolutionised by the internet of things is trash collection. Picking up rubbish and recyclable material from publicly-available bins on street corners, in parks, or on various campuses is very resource-intensive – workers have to drive collection vehicles to every collection point – regardless of whether or not they are full. A rubbish bin that could tell collection crews when to empty the different bins could save a lot of fuel and work hours for both companies and local governments.

Commercial waste company ‘Bigbelly’ is behind the trash can revolution. The company won the People’s Choice Award for top Smart City Application at the 2014/15 Internet of Things Awards, and the rubbish units have much more grandiose plans than simple managing trash.

At the ceremony they said they “Think of each waste and recycling unit as a self-contained power plant to which applications and appliances that measure foot traffic, air quality, radiation levels and more are easily attached. Its connectivity can be expanded to offer free Wi-Fi to residents. Think urban development, public safety, and broad communication for the public. Some of these ‘ideas’ are already in the works with pilot programs underway…”.

Their idea works by combining the IoT technology with solar power to create “smart” trash and recycling receptacles. Adding sensors and compactors to commercial trash cans allows them to send real-time data about their “fullness” to web or smartphone apps, so waste haulers can make those collections at the time they’re needed. It means service routes can be created on-the-go to maximise efficient use of workers and collection trucks resources.

Solar Powered Future

tech-green

It comes as no surprise to learn that thousands of these units have now been deployed globally. Solar-powered trash compactors made by Bigbelly are a familiar sight on the streets of cities such as Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago, Dublin, Hamburg, New York and Stockholm. Indeed, the company said it ended 2014 with more than 1,500 customers on its account list — in 47 countries. That’s roughly 30,000 bins worldwide. Each unit has a capacity of up to 150 gallons, more than four times the capacity of a traditional 35-gallon on-street rubbish bin – meaning collections are needed less often in the first place, before any fancy tech becomes involved.

It’s undoubtedly a tidy and rapidly growing solution to the problematic waste of labour, energy, and material in traditional rubbish collection. But what do you think? Do you think smart bins are a step too far, or are they one of the more logical uses of the IoT? Let us know in the comments below.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Daniel Price

Cloud Infographic – 21st Century Schools

Cloud Infographic – 21st Century Schools

Cloud Infographic – 21st Century Schools

Teachers have existed since the beginning of time and the practices used by modern instructors have been tried and tested over hundreds of years. Yet now we have cloud linked computers that are changing the way we do business and the way we learn. Students are becoming more versed in technology than even the instructors, so how can we keep up with this increase in technological knowledge?

Knowledge is the rising commodity in our age and being able to instruct and share that knowledge is becoming even more valuable. Here is a snapshot from Nova Southeastern University of a few ways technology is revolutionizing the way we, our children and our children’s children will be taught.
21st-Century-Schools

By Sam Hudgins

 

VMware, Openstack, Hybrid Mix And Match

VMware, Openstack, Hybrid Mix And Match

VMware, Openstack, Hybrid Mix And Match

While hybrid cloud has been a mainstay discussion in the cloud world for quite some time now (note this post of mine on hybrid cloud from 2011, when CloudStack was still Cloud.com), the reality is that setting up hybrid cloud has proven a fairly complex process. Therefore we’ve seen only a few real implementations of true hybrid cloud in the wild.

However, recent developments with the VMware landscape, have changed this reality, finally making the hybrid cloud story simple and possible.

Making hybrid cloud simple and real

While most public clouds started as an independent public cloud service and only later started to add private cloud connectivity VMware’s vCloud Air was designed in pretty much the exact opposite approach; primarily as a native extension of VMware private cloud – which has been a market leader in the cloud and virtualization arena for many years. This evolution in the VMware offering afforded the many users of VMware platforms the same tools to manage local VMware environments to manage public cloud resources, as well.

This change has made the hybrid cloud story significantly simpler and more attainable. This means users no longer need to worry about the connectivity between the two sides of the data center, and at the same time get the cost benefit of using resources on demand, and on a pay-per-use basis.

This development with VMware is a major game changer, and to me, also represents an important milestone for OpenStack users as well – which, it is no secret, is near and dear to my heart. In an ideal world, we could rely on OpenStack, or any open source cloud, alone for our cloud needs. However, the reality is that many enterprises require a multi-cloud strategy, as they have previous investments in other infrastructure many times based on VMware, including: vSphere, vCloud and others.

The reason, this was interesting to me, is in my capacity as CTO for Cloudify, this ability to make hybrid cloud so realistically possible, fit well with our pure-play orchestration vision, and made the integration with the two platforms – which .was previously an involved undertaking much more promising.

Putting it all together

vmware

VMware public cloud users have been needing a simple way to deploy and manage their applications on the cloud using DevOps tools similar to Amazon Cloud Formation. As the landscape is still being shaped, and there’s no clear winner yet, it is very important for these users to have tools that will allow them to keep their options open.

This is where TOSCA comes into play. TOSCA (Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications) has been gaining a lot of attention lately as it has filled a gap of providing a standard templating language that doesn’t tie users to a particular platform.

On top of that TOSCA orchestration, also aims to go beyond the installation part of the application and covers all the aspects of the application lifecycle through the addition of workflows and policies that can be used to handle continuous deployment, self-healing and auto-scaling processes.

This is a use case we have encountered quite frequently with Cloudify users, who many times come from the Enterprise and Telco markets. These users are already heavily invested in VMware, while at the same time, are actively looking for a more agile and cost effective way to run their data center. The ability to bring capacity on demand seamlessly into private cloud makes the entire private/hybrid cloud story now thinkable.

With the combination of public cloud, TOSCA, an orchestrator and open source cloud (in this case I’m going to use the example of vCloud Air, TOSCA, Cloudify and OpenStack to demonstrate this), you can achieve the cost benefit of using on demand resources in private data centers in a way that doesn’t tie you to a specific platform. While at the same time delivering a more complete application lifecycle and management solution that allows full automation of deployment and DevOps processes.

For those who aren’t familiar, in short VMware provides three kind of platforms today, where vCenter/VSphere environments serve many enterprise data centers today, while VMWare Integrated OpenStack provides API compatibility with OpenStack for its vSphere/vCenter environment.

A native implementation of TOSCA blueprints as a templating language across cloud environments – in this case vCloud Air, vSphere and OpenStack, provides the element of consistent management of applications across all three environments, which is where Cloudify comes in. This also enables the building of mixed resources across environments using the same blueprint.

Having pure-play orchestration and management that is backed by an industry standard enables the decoupling of the management of applications from the underlying infrastructure. While there is still the need to rely on specific APIs and features of the specific infrastructure, this kind of combination provides a new reality where the cost of the switch isn’t as significant compared with the alternative of being bound directly into the specific underlying infrastructure.

The benefit for OpenStack users

It’s no surprise that many OpenStack users are one and the same as those heavy users of VMware – namely enterprises and Telcos. This integration makes the ability to mix and match existing VMware environments together with OpenStack and public cloud, providing greater flexibility to decide which application and workload fits which environment best, while using common and consistent management to manage applications across these environments. While on top of this, these types of organizations are very much standard-driven, which is why the importance and adoption of a standard like TOSCA is becoming a driving criterion in the choice of orchestration.

By Nati Shalom

The Global Rise of Cloud Computing

The Global Rise of Cloud Computing

The Global Rise of Cloud Computing

Despite the rapid growth of cloud computing, the cloud still commands a small portion of overall enterprise IT spending. Estimates I’ve seen put the percentage between 5% and 10% of the slightly more than $2 trillion (not including telco) spent worldwide in 2014 on enterprise IT.

Yet growth projections for cloud remain healthy, and there is optimism in the air. A recent roundup of projections in Forbes paints the picture.

Cloud-IT

The Global Picture

From our studies at the Tau Institute for Global ICT studies, we believe it’s a good time to be optimistic not just in North America, but throughout the world as a whole. There are bright spots in every region, with countries such as Jordan, Latvia, Morocco, and the Philippines joining better-known places where IT is playing an increasing role in economic development.

Research we’ve been conducting for the past several years has produced a picture of how more than 100 nations throughout the world are progressing with their overall IT infrastructure, on a relative basis. We seek to find the nations that are doing the most with the economic resources they have, and we issue several specific groups of rankings. Given robust underlying infrastructure, and reasonable socio-economic conditions, a nation should be set to benefit from the continuing growth of cloud computing.

Training & Education Are Key

education-cloud

An emphasis on operating expenses instead of capital expenditure, the ability to scale (and de-scale) quickly, and provisioning in almost real-time are aspects of cloud computing that can benefit entire nations as well as single organizations.

There are significant issues of data sovereignty and security entangled in distributed cloud infrastructures that cross international borders, to be sure. But inter-governmental organizations from the European Union (EU) to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to the East African Community (EAC) and many more are stocked with serious-minded people working to address and solve the political issues so that the technology may flow and improve the lives of their people.

There will be no flow without proper, specific education and training. Although SaaS and PaaS can insulate end-users as well as developers from the tricky particulars of dealing with the underlying infrastructure, there is tremendous complexity—and opportunity—involved in designing, deploying, and provisioning that infrastructure.

The opportunity lies in training the people of the world in the languages, frameworks, platforms, and architectures that form cloud computing in the whole. Training programs from as little as a couple of days to as much as several weeks must and can be implemented anywhere in the world where people seek jobs in the developing 21st-century global economy.

Governments, corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives within large technology providers, and large organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative all espouse a renewed focus on education and technology. We encourage them also to support the cause of developing cloud computing equitably throughout the world. The distributed and increasingly granulated nature of cloud resources should, in theory, enable smaller, less developed nations benefit from the cloud in the same manner that smaller businesses can.

Setting Benchmarks

jobs-it

One exercise we’ve recently been modeling seeks to determine the ideal number of enterprise IT professionals in each of these countries. It’s not enough simply to note the paucity or plethora of IT jobs in a developing nation; a better question, is how many jobs are there relative to the nation’s current wealth? More important, how are these jobs growing, and how quickly is the rate of change growing?

How much opportunity is there? How many existing IT jobs are there worldwide, and how many will there be in the future?

We’ve studied the big picture, looking at academic research, research-company reports, and conducting our own surveys. We estimate there is one IT job for every $4 million of gross domestic product (GDP) in the US. By applying that figure to each of the nations we survey, then adjusting it for relative wealth, cost of living, and socioeconomic factors (such as income disparity, perceived corruption, and human development), we derive a benchmark figure for each of these nations. The benchmark as you can see, is based on a US benchmark.

Our research shows that the US is not as highly developed on a relative basis as we think it should be, so its middling results can thus serve as a goal for developing nations, most of which fall below the US benchmark today. We would expect most of the world’s highly developed nations to exceed this ideal, as would perhaps some of the most aggressive developing nations.

Although the IT job mosaic is a complex one, a simple calculation can provide benchmarks for the number of people involved in any particular technology—whether programming languages, scripting languages, frameworks, PaaS environments, or cloud computing infrastructure.

Please Share Your Thoughts

It would be a shame if the cloud computing revolution only serves to widen the digital divide among nations. Economies and societies that are significantly driven by IT in general and cloud computing in particular will be the ones that benefit over the long term. By establishing employment benchmarks across nations, we can work to deliver the benefits of cloud computing in a global fashion.

I encourage anyone who’s interested to contact me about our efforts, and to contribute their thoughts and opinions on the topics I’ve covered here.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Roger Strukhoff

Cloud Pinup: Cloudorado Updates Comparison Service

Cloud Pinup: Cloudorado Updates Comparison Service

Cloudorado Updates Comparison Service

cloudorado_v2

With the proliferation of cloud-based computing services (from dedicated cloud servers to hosting and consumer storage), it has become increasingly important for customers to have tools for comparing one service against another. That’s why Cloudorado created its line of comparison engines. Cloudorado takes basic specifications on each customer’s needs and returns a comparison of different cloud services based on price, including possible discounts. Customers can search services by RAM, disk size, CPU power, operating system, and location, and transfer system.

Cloudorado-price-comparison-cloud

Cloudorado is separated into four distinct comparison engines: cloud server, cloud hosting, cloud providers, and cloud storage. Each of these has its own separate control panel for selecting the option best suited to the customer’s needs. For example, the cloud storage engine allows customers to enter specifications for storage, transfer out, PUT requests, and GET requests. In addition to these specifications, there are several filters that can be applied.

marcinAs Cloudorado’s founder, Marcin Okraszewski, points out, “companies will often go with the first provider they find, just because comparing manually is a hard task and can take days or even weeks.” As a result, these companies may be missing out on important details that might make another service a better fit. And, at the very least, skipping the comparison step means that businesses are unlikely to find the best value for what they’re looking for. (On a broader level, this means that cloud providers are less incentivized to lower their prices, since customers are not as savvy about value – this is probably keeping the prices on cloud services artificially high across the board.)

Recently, Cloudorado upgraded its software with a significant new design and added features to make the comparison process easier. The main update is a significant expansion of Cloudorado’s comparison categories. There are now 117 different features that customers can use to filter their results, and many of these features have been added in new categories such as security, certifications, billing system, management features, etc.

The update also affects the view for the “cloud providers” engine – it now shows each provider’s services and features across multiple categories, in a long two-dimensional table. This is particularly helpful for companies that need many different types of cloud services, and want to bundle those services together with a single provider. From this one table, a customer can discover which providers offer the greatest number of relevant services and features, significantly expediting the comparison process.

Overall, it’s a very useful tool for those looking to price shop for the growing number of cloud based services.

By Gustav Steinhardt

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7 Common Cloud Security Missteps

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