Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Knots And Cloud Service Providers

Knots And Cloud Service Providers

How Do These Two Compare?

In Boy Scouts, I learned how to tie knots. The quickest knot you can tie is the slipknot. It’s very effective for connecting one thing to another via the rope you have. It was used in setting up tents, mooring boats to docks temporarily and lifting your food up into the air to prevent wild animals from eating your camp dinner (otherwise you went hungry).

What do slipknots have to do with clouds? A lot more than you would think. First off, the concept of picking a cloud service provider is a lot like picking a knot. The goal of a knot is to connect something to something else. Which, by the way, is why people pick cloud service providers. They want to connect an internal business application to the cloud for a variety of purposes. The similarity is that if you pick the wrong knot you end up with a problem. Slipknots are aptly named, they slip as they tighten. You wouldn’t want your cloud selected to be different after selection than during the selection.

tech-csp

The other thing about knots that you have to be careful about is the form of the knot and the function of the knot. A square knot or reef knot as it is sometimes called it a very strong knot that connects two ropes together firmly. But you have to have two ropes for a square knot to be effective. The same is true of picking a cloud service provider (CSP). What does the CSP do? How does the CSP do it? Those are the two easy question you need to pick the right CSP that does things the way you need them done for your solution.

Simple right? Never fails. Easy to do.

Not always. In fact if you consider knot selection as a process you evaluate not only what you initially need from the knot but also what you will need from that knot over time. A secure long term connection is better serviced by a reef knot then it would be by a slip knot. A quick and simple connection that is short term in nature is better served by a slip knot.

We can say the same thing for cloud service providers. What do we need from the cloud service? If we need high performance that will limit the CSP’s we consider. If we need massive amounts of storage that will limit the CSP’s we consider. If we have an existing technology solution that will change the CSP’s we consider.

Then into that initial bucket of providers we have to consider what the solution does and how that will work in the CSP’s solution set. A performance model that supports not seasonality, which is a fairly standard cloud term that describes when a solution needs more processing power. Rather does our CSP support the concept of intelligent seasonality?

Intelligent seasonality is a new term. It’s not in wiki or I would give you a link. It’s a term that supports the concept of not just bursting, but bursting intelligently. It’s the concept of looking at the entire process I am running and determining if, in fact, bursting even makes sense. A great example of this is found in the kitchen (a common theme of mine). As you cook you add things in a specific order. Adding them early or speeding up one process at times is more detrimental than useful. It’s a balancing act. That balancing act in the end is intelligent seasonality. Speed the process as a whole and things work. Speed up only one part of the process and you may end up with something that doesn’t work.

In the end, that is why CSP selection and knot selection are critical and similar. Pick the wrong CSP or the wrong knot and you will end up with something that works but is not optimal. Pick the right CSP and the right knot – and you have a fully functional success.

By Scott Andersen

HP’s split doesn’t help its cloud outlook

HP’s split doesn’t help its cloud outlook

One of the rationales behind Hewlett-Packard’s decision to split itself into two companies — one focused on PCs and printers, the other on enterprise gear and services — is to be more focused and more nimble by being smaller. When it comes to the cloud, which HP brings up often, HP is neither inferior nor superior. But it certainly isn’t a contender. As Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft are gathering more steam, HP appears to be left further and further behind.

Read the source article at infoworld.com

Airbnb And Amazon Web Services – An Unlikely Friendship

Airbnb And Amazon Web Services – An Unlikely Friendship

Airbnb and Amazon Web Services

Since its launch six years ago, Airbnb has become synonymous with the home rental market. The premise of the firm was simple enough – allowing homeowners to find willing renters and holidaymakers for their properties without the cost, contracts and time associated with traditional estate agents – but the underlying processes of managing payments, updating property availability and collecting data was not so simple. 

The start-up has grown tremendously quickly. They recently closed a $450 million round of funding and they now have 500,000 listings across 192 countries. As more users joined, more strain was put on the servers. They desperately needed a service that could keep up, and they eventually found their way to Amazon Web Services (AWS) – Amazon’s public cloud. 

Airbnb’s Vice President of Engineering, Mike Curtis, explained why the decision to move to Amazon was an easy one. “We concentrate more of our energy to solving problems unique to Airbnb” he said at GigaOM Structure Conference in June – noting that if they didn’t have employees working around the clock to ensure servers are up and running, they could spend more time, money and energy on Airbnb’s actual core business. 

The start-up now has more than a hundred employees, and the fact that none of them are working on server-side operations means they can instead organise themselves around different tasks – so that although the strategy is set by management, the tactics and execution of that strategy is largely left to the teams themselves. Curtis himself contrasts the situation at Airbnb with that at Yahoo – his former employer – saying that at any single point up to two thirds of the team at the internet giant was working on infrastructure and operations, rather than product development. 

The crucial reason why Amazon Web Services are such a perfect fit for Airbnb, however, is that it is running workloads that are amazon-web-servicesfrequently scaled up and down. The start-up is running more than a thousand EC2 instances at a given time, while their technology stack includes Hadoop for data processing, Ruby on Rails as its application framework, Apache Mesos for cluster management, and MySQL running on the Amazon Relative Database Service (RDS) for database services. 

Curtis does recognise that using MySQL on Amazon’s RDS also has its drawbacks – it means that it is essentially stuck there forever due to the switching costs. He admits that it was a problem when AWS was less reliable than it is now, but today Airbnb has become for one of Amazon’s flagship customers – a benefit that includes direct representation in Amazon’s head office. It means more transparency and improved service performance, along with less worries about system failures. 

Amazon Web Services certainly is not right for every business – but Curtis says it’s the little features (like the recently-introduced access MySQL logs) that make the increased prices worthwhile. His advice to would-be cloud users is to try before you buy and actually get a system up and running the way you want before you commit.

It’s a unlikely friendship that holds lessons for all cloud-using businesses – choose you provider wisely and they’ll be a strong ally throughout your growth, choose badly, and you’ll incur extra costs and hassles that most start-ups cannot absorb.

By Daniel Price

Overcoming Obstacles In Cloud Computing Adoption

Overcoming Obstacles In Cloud Computing Adoption

Overcoming The Numerous Challenges

According to Buyya et al. (2008), “A Cloud is a type of parallel and distributed system consisting of a collection of inter-connected and virtualized computers that are dynamically provisioned and presented as one or more unified computing resources based on service-level agreements established through negotiation between the service provider and consumers.” The enormous advantages of cloud computing in improving businesses have generated unprecedented interest in its adoption. However, customers of a cloud face numerous challenges such as service requirements; unexpected outages; invalid assumptions about the operating environment; poor isolation between users, hardware degradation, misconfiguration of software; cost implications of failure and uncertainty about cloud providers’ ability to meet service level agreements (SLA). Cloud providers are usually responsible for problems related to their own infrastructure. Although cloud providers monitor their physical resources such as servers, storage and network systems to provide a highly stable infrastructure, they usually do not guarantee individual instance availability.

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In addition, Benson and his colleagues analysed the problems users faced and categorized them into five categories: Application-related (e.g. Email server setup, Windows Licensing, LAMP setup, Linux), Virtual Infrastructure-related ( e.g. Virtualized Storage, Attach/Detach, Virtualized load balancer, DNS & Virtualized IP) , Image Management-related ( Image bundling issues, storage and migration of image between buckets, Update/kernel install issues),Performance-related ( Instance not responding, Instance stuck in terminating, EBS performance), and Connectivity-related (General connectivity, Firewall, Connection performance, Connecting to app).

These risks hinder the adoption of cloud. Zardri et al. (2013) believe that “evaluating pre adoption choices at early stages is cost-effective strategy to mitigate risks for probable losses due to wrong or uninformed selection decisions”. They suggested that companies should identify obstacles and their importance through understanding their consequences on the adoption process (obstacle prioritization). Then, appropriate tactics should be used to handle, manage, and solve the problems. Furthermore, analysing Service Level Agreements (SLA) of cloud providers and matching them against users’ requirements can be useful in revealing potential SLA violations, conflicts and probable risks.

Benson (2013) also  introduced several strategies that cloud providers can apply to help users.

Best Effort Support Model: “user forumis considered as one of the most common version of support models. Unfortunately, cloud providers do not make guarantee on the response time of the operators and the resolution time of the problem.

Premium Support Model: In this model, cloud providers guarantee the user that problems will be resolved within a certain period of time. The SLA provided to a user is inversely proportional to the price paid by the users; a higher price demands a guaranteed for a shorter resolution time. Certain providers also ensure that users have access to dedicated operators who are familiar with the user’s environment and needs.”

As discussed above, it would seem that companies should identify and understand early the properties of the problems that they will face in using a cloud before migrating any servers, databases, applications or data to the cloud.  Data security and privacy breaches, as well as regulatory and legal compliance are significant issues when moving from in-house IT infrastructure to cloud services. Therefore, specific standards, education, and appropriate support mechanisms should be designed to solve the problems.

(Image Source: Shutterstock.com)

By Mojgan Afshari

Cloud Infographic: 5 App Development Myths

Cloud Infographic: 5 App Development Myths

Cloud Infographic: 5 App Development Myths

Microsoft Windows 10 is being hailed as the first OS to deliver on Microsoft’s “mobile-first, cloud-first” strategy. But just how close are enterprises to becoming mobile-first and cloud-first?

Last year cloud-based mobile app platform vendor, FeedHenry, commissioned a survey by Vanson Bourne to discover the number and complexity of mobile apps being developed by UK enterprises. Vanson Bourne found that just 7 per cent of the enterprises it spoke to had a fully developed mobile strategy. The majority reported that they developed apps on an ad-hoc basis.

Today’s technology allows for the swift creation of apps without vendor lock-in,” says Cathal McGloin, CEO of FeedHenry. “Agile, open, collaborative and powerful cloud-based mobile application platforms render obsolete notions around lengthy and complex mobile app development and deployment.”

Twelve months on, FeedHenry analysed enterprise RFPs and customer project requirements and identified five common barriers to enterprise mobile app development. These include the notion that enterprise apps take at least six months to develop and deploy, requiring the appointment of a “chief of mobility” to oversee them; the fear that developers will have to keep up with multiple coding languages; the belief that it’s too complicated for mobile apps to access legacy systems and that enterprise apps are too data heavy for mobile devices to handle. In this infographic, FeedHenry offers real-world advice to counter each myth.

5Myths_App_Development_Infographic2

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