Category Archives: Cloud Computing

The Many Interpretations Of Cloud Brokers

The Many Interpretations Of Cloud Brokers

Cloud Brokers

I had an interesting discussion the other day with a person who said “I don’t believe in cloud brokers.” I thought about the opening gambit for a bit wondering if in the end Cloud Brokers like the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause were open for “interpretation.”

Anyone can argue with a concept. But Cloud Brokers aren’t real? They are so “last century?” It was an interesting conversation. Cloud Broker is a term that many organizations mis-use or twist/bend to fit their product and their definition. I am a broker they loudly proclaim and then they show their product proudly labeled “Cloud Broker.” This also comes up when you play the “IT is a Commodity” game either at home or work.

Or as some pundits now proclaim IT as a Service you can consume. The reality of IT is that it has been a commodity for many years, the large outsourcing vendors have made a living taking IT services and selling them back to the business. Commodity IT services simply represent in all cases the expertise your organization doesn’t have today, that you won’t need next week. IT Services that you will need this afternoon for two hours and maybe an hour next week. You don’t want to hire someone for that 10 hour period so instead like cloud you leverage the existing Utility model for consulting. You go to XYZ Company and you rent a consultant.

The same is true in Cloud computing. What people miss is that the nature of those two hour consulting gigs is the reality of the relationship. You don’t go create a new relationship every time you want to bring on a consultant. You leverage the existing consulting partnerships you have. The same is true of the broker. Rather than having 20 distinct connections with 20 distinct Cloud Service Providers that you manage and maintain, you have one with the broker.

Now the broker is so much more than a relationship site. But in the long run it makes solid business sense to have that one place you go for cloud services. For the first part the more customer’s the broker’s collect the more bargaining power they have. All Cloud Service Providers have tiered or discounted services models. If you have a lot of customers you most likely will be able to pass along the greatest discount.

Saving 10 to 15% overall on your cloud costs would certainly justify the 1-3% fee the broker would apply to providing that service. Plus the broker could off you so much more. Shared Security services would allow the broker to notify you of any and all attacks in the system regardless of which customer was being attacked. You get more information about attacks and the broker can provide additional security services that will ensure you don’t fall prey to the attack.

Brokers can even offer a simple transaction fee model. For most customer’s you will want the flat rate from your broker, but some smaller or less active organizations could consider a 1% per transaction fee from the broker to cover the cost and services the broker provides.

I think the more interesting statement now isn’t “Cloud Brokers aren’t real,” instead it is more along the lines of consider “who is saying brokers aren’t real.” In the long run smart cloud service providers will line up to sign up with a broker. It reduces their cost of sales and gives them a consistent and larger pool of customers. But in the short run most of them don’t like the broker model. They equate it to the 1990’s when we would book travel through a broker. They don’t like the concept of IT as a Commodity today. I suspect that will change.

My answer to the question “I don’t believe in cloud brokers” was in the end what you see above and ending with the simple statement “it was long believed that human beings were not physically capable of going faster than 35 miles per hour.

By Scott Anderson

Exploiting Big Data For Creating New Products And Innovation

Exploiting Big Data For Creating New Products And Innovation

Exploiting Big Data For Creating New Products And Innovation

Infographic-Big-Data

With the development of technology resources, organizations will increasingly depend on exploiting data for creating new products, services, innovation as well as changes in business processes. Big data is currently one of the most talked about issues in business and organizations. Big data is a collection of unstructured and multi-structured data that come from traditional and digital sources inside and outside companies representing sources for ongoing discovery and analysis.

Unstructured data refers to information that is not organized such as metadata, Twitter tweets, and other social media posts.

Multi-structured data refers to different types of organised data and data which can be generated from interactions between people and machines, for example, web applications, social networks and web log. Three significant characteristics of big data; high-volume, velocity, and variety; are important in obtaining, extracting, manipulating and interpreting it within an organization.

Many scholars believe that analysing, interpreting, and managing big data will help companies to understand their business environments, to respond to changes, and to create new products and services in order to keep their business fresh and new. Increasingly, long term commercial success is based on an ability to manage change and using data effectively. Many commentators stress the importance of leadership in the big data era. Leaders’ vision, their ability to communicate that vision, their creative thinking, their ability to spot a great opportunity, and the way that they support and deal with employees, customers, stockholders, and other stakeholders can surpass or mobilize change process. Moreover, effective leaders are able to bring together a group of competent professionals and data scientists to work with large quantities of data and information. Data scientists not only should possess statistical, analytical and creative IT skills but also they should be familiar with operations, processes and products within organizations. However, people with these competencies are difficult to find and in great demand.

Technologies such as the Hadoop framework, cloud computing and data visualization tools help skilled professionals to cope with the technical challenges. In fact, the increased volumes of data require major improvements in database technologies. Nowadays, open source platforms such as Hadoop have been designed to load, store and query massive data sets on a large, flexible grid servers, as well as perform advanced analytics. Analysing big data will not be valuable if professionals cannot understand and interpret the results of the analysis. Hence, organizations need great decision makers to examine all the assumptions made and retract the analysis to increase productivity and innovation at all organizational levels. Many scholars believe that automated administrative decision making can save time and improve efficiency. However, there is possibility of some error in computer systems that can lead to errors in interpretation of results. Hence, users should try to examine and verify the results produced by the computer.

By Mojgan Afshari

Pinup: Approxy Utilizes Cloudpaging To Bring Instant Gaming Gratification

Pinup: Approxy Utilizes Cloudpaging To Bring Instant Gaming Gratification

Pinup: Approxy Utilizes Cloudpaging To Bring Instant Gaming Gratificationapproxy

There is something to be said about getting what you want, when you want it. Granted, we have all grown up with the saying “Patience is a virtue.” However, while this might be a good motto to live most of your life by, it has no place whatsoever in the world of cloud gaming. Gamers today want to play games without having to download lengthy files. Rather, the prospect of beginning a game right after you select it is one of the Holy Grails of cloud gaming.

This is where the services provided by Approxy come in.

Approxy was spun out from parent company, Numecent, in March of 2012. While the primary goal of Numecent is to deliver solutions to larger issues relating to cloud computing in general, Approxy’s sole concentration is delivering HD-quality games instantly through a white-label service. Approxy’s stealth funding has topped $18 million from an assortment of unnamed investors.

Cloudpaging

The tech behind the exciting prospect of Approxy’s services is called cloudpaging. In essence, cloudpaging divides each game into small pieces and delivers them to the end user in an on-demand capacity. This allows the player to start the game almost instantaneously, thus bypassing the annoyance of having to wait.

As Dr.Yavuz Ahiska, co-founder and CEO of Approxy, puts it: “As modern games cross over the 10GB size, the initial day-long download experience is becoming one of frustration for users and lost revenues for publishers, especially in the free-to-play segment. Cloud-Gaming represents a tremendous global opportunity for the industry, but we need to make it ‘friction free’ for both users and publishers alike. We believe cloudpaging with the Approxy extensions is the right technology platform to make this happen.”

Cloudpaging is a technology that has sprung from the loins of a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) project dating back to the 1990s. Numecent has developed this technology and applied it to many standard cloud activities, including all Microsoft Windows applications. Numecent realized the potential of cloudpaging in terms of gaming, which resulted in the spinoff of Approxy.

The advantages of cloudpaging extend beyond simply being able to start your game without waiting. Cloudpaging uses a virtual memory management unit that is installed on the client’s device. This causes the game to launch in a virtual console, bypassing any need to install huge files on your device. This effectively reduces the amount of installed code needed to play the game, making them playable even on devices with minimal storage capacities.

As more and more of the world embraces broadband internet connections, the expectation of instantaneous cloud gaming rises in step. Approxy aims to satisfy these needs by offering its unique cloudpaging technology as a white-label service to game developers and producers.

By Joe Pellicone

Preserving The Cloud: The Wayback Machine

Preserving The Cloud: The Wayback Machine

Preserving The Cloud: The Wayback Machine

News broke this week that The Wayback Machine has now archived 4 hundred billion webpages. The Wayback Machine enables users to see how another website looked in the past, and after launching in 1996 the project now requires an incredible 5 petabytes of storage to maintain all its data.

The figures behind the project are impressive; The Wayback Machine’s database is queried over 1,000 times every second by over 500,000 people a day – making Archive.org the 250th most popular site on the entire internet.

wayback_machine_logo

The company’s mission is equally impressive, explicitly expressing their ideology on their website “Most societies place importance on preserving artifacts of their culture and heritage. Without such artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures. Our culture now produces more and more artifacts in digital form. The Archive’s mission is to help preserve those artifacts and create an Internet library for researchers, historians, and scholars”.

Brewster Kahle launched the project in 1996 at the same time he started the now-famous web crawling company Alexa Internet. The project has its roots in the development of software that could crawl and download all publicly accessible World Wide Web pages, the Gopher hierarchy, the Netnews bulletin board system, and downloadable software. The archived content itself wasn’t available until 2001 but by 1999 the archive had already expanded its collections to include texts, audio, moving images and software.

Uses of such an archive are widespread. There is a day-today practical use, as evidenced when The Wayback Machine provided access to important Federal Government sites that went dark during the Federal Government shutdown in the United States. There is also an educational aspect, with importance lessons to be learned from the vast amount of big data stored within its archives. Finally, there is a historical aspect, as the development of our internet has been preserved for future generations to enjoy.

The cloud-based project has not been without its controversies. In 2012 China restored access to the database after blocking it for several years, while in the USA an activist sued the organisation for $100,000 after claiming that archiving her site breached her terms of service. The dispute was ultimately settled out of court.

The success of the project has started to attract imitators. Online companies such as Archive.It, Freezepage, and iTools all offer similar services, but not of them can offer the same quality and depth of content as The Wayback Machine.

Is this a vital project or a waste of valuable storage space? Are there ethical questions surrounding the unhibited archiving of so many sites, or are there taking a virtual photograph of events? Let us know in the comments below.

By Daniel Price

Placing Business Continuity Ahead Of DR In The Cloud

Placing Business Continuity Ahead Of DR In The Cloud

Why You Need To Put Business Continuity Ahead Of DR In The Cloud 

The emergence of disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) has made thinking about disaster a whole lot less scary for an increasing number of organizations. It’s cheaper than outfitting a separate and equal disaster recovery site that mirrors your data center. It helps your CFO shift costs from the capital budget to the operations budget. It’s backed up by service level agreements (SLAs) with your cloud provider—or should be. It frees your IT team to concentrate on physical and personal challenges presented by the disaster itself. And it’s way faster than tape.

For all its much documented benefits, however, implementing DRaaS, does not excuse you from addressing the state of your typically unloved business continuity plan. To borrow a popular metaphor: DRaaS is the cart, and business continuity is the horse. Unless you make the commitment to develop and/or refresh your long-term business continuity strategy, your DRaaS solution will save your critical data but you could still lose your business.

DRaaS is a technology. It will save whatever data you tell it to, but the success of your business depends as much if not more on the effectiveness and efficiencies of your processes and procedures. Critically reviewing, evaluating and improving your processes and procedures, as a result, is essential to ensuring the success of your business. Skip that step and the business you are protecting with DRaaS, may still not survive.

Avoidable Failure

That’s the stick: commit yourself relentlessly to the rigors of business continuity planning or risk getting whacked with otherwise avoidable failure. There is so much to dislike about that thought that many, if not most organizations, are inclined to not think about it at all. Business continuity planning is something they did five years ago—or more—and it was so much fun then, that they never, ever want to do it again. The whole process was time consuming and disruptive. Some veterans of past business continuity initiatives compare them to being sequestered for a murder trial.

It doesn’t have to be like that. There is a carrot for business continuity…actually several:

  • Business continuity is not just about finding what’s wrong with your business operations, it’s more about identifying what’s right and then finding ways to make them more efficient, reliable and resilient. It’s an opportunity to think strategically, not tactically.
  • Business continuity is not about finger pointing, as much as it is about team building. The continuity of your business, after all, is the shared responsibility of everyone, not just the IT department, but business stakeholders as well.
  • Addressing business continuity fosters not only communications, but also collaboration across the entire organization. Business continuity planning requires that IT and business units share in the responsibility and accountability for the overall well-being of the organization.

The Power to Act

As with any long-term objective, developing a business continuity plan is best undertaken in a phased approach. A good first step is the development of a business continuity roadmap that identifies where you are now and where you want to be in the future. You need to identify risks to critical systems—business and IT—and establish just how much risk you are prepared to accept. (There is no getting rid of all risk.) The roadmap also needs to project a budget that shows specifically what needs to be done, over what period of time, and how much it will cost. You don’t have to do it all at once. Implementing your plan needs to be a sustainable effort, so you need to map out what you can accomplish with available resources over an acceptable period of time.

Cataloging and rating the threats to your survivability has the additional benefit of demystifying them and making them approachable and resolvable. It is a fact of life that most things are scarier when you have your back turned to them. Having knowledge gives you the power to act and allows you to be proactive, instead of reactive.

The key deliverables that result from a comprehensive business continuity plan are choices. You get to decide what to do before a disaster instead of afterwards or worse, in the middle of one. Better yet, you get to choose what steps you and your CFO are willing to take to reduce or eliminate risks to your organization’s continuity of operations. There may well be chances your organization is prepared to take; but you at least need to know what they are.

Living Process

Business continuity planning is not a one-time project. It is a living process like a healthy diet or an exercise routine. The scope of an effective plan needs to be as broad as the organization it is designed to protect, and to ensure that every detail is accounted for and all the right stakeholders are involved.

A good time to talk seriously about business continuity is any time your organization is facing a significant change, i.e., a major systems upgrade, acquiring another company or being acquired. Success is one of the best reasons to ensure nothing happens that would suddenly turn your fortunes in the opposite direction.

The true value of business continuity planning is not limited to technology. Done correctly, the exercise of developing and implementing a thorough business continuity plan opens ongoing conversations between IT and business units which contributes to a sense of trust as well as a shared confidence in their combined abilities to work together as an efficient team to face whatever challenges lie ahead. Hitch a well implemented DRaaS solution to a vigorous business continuity plan, and you have a winning combination of long-term sustainability and affordability.

david-kinlawBy David Kinlaw,

As Logicalis practice manager for protection services, David’s role is to develop comprehensive best practices and disaster recovery and business continuity solutions that protect Logicalis customers from suffering a significant data loss that could impact or threaten their businesses.

Eyes In The Cloud: New Technology Brings Hope To Thousands

Eyes In The Cloud: New Technology Brings Hope To Thousands

Eyes In The Cloud: New Technology Brings Hope To Thousands

A revolutionary new technology that could improve the vision of thousands of children around the world has been receiving increased coverage in recent weeks. We’ve already seen cloud computing can benefit the healthcare industry from a provider’s side, but the latest vision-screening technology is one of many that has real potential to help patients.

The global healthcare statistics are nothing for the developed countries to be proud of. One billion people lack access to any form of professional healthcare, and an estimated 7.5 million children die from preventable causes. Although the developer of the technology (VisionQuest2020) won’t able to greatly affect the bigger picture, they do hope to help some of the world’s two million blind children.

eye-health

In 1997 it was estimated that 45% of blind children were blind from avoidable causes. Today, even in the developed countries, as many as 1 in 4 school children have undetected and untreated vision disorders, while 48 percent of children under twelve have not had a professional eye exam. VisionQuest believe it to be a looming problem, saying “Not only is [the children’s] personal well-being and health being affected, but it is estimated that annual societal costs are more than $50 billion from the cost of treatment and lost productivity”.

Embracing the challenge, VisionQuest is now working with schools across the country to implement affordable school-based vision screenings. To undertake a screening, children wear special glasses whilst interacting with a video game that is designed to test the quality of their sight. The video game streams different tests from the company’s cloud-based database, depending on their age and preferences.

The cloud also plays an important role in the software’s appeal to the medical staff and opticians who are using it. Each child’s screening history is retained in an online database, enabling rescreening without record duplication as well as reports that can be reprinted at any time. It means if a child moves between schools or leaves the area they will maintain an easily-accessible record, while the same records can be opened from both a school and an off-site optician when required.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Screenings can even be performed when there is no internet connection. Once a connection is re-established, the results are consolidated into a password protected, HIPAA-compliant, cloud based data repository with restricted access.

The technology has been a great success in its trial period and has been used to screen more than 200,000 children for problems as diverse as cataracts, retina damage and colour blindness. The test’s main benefit is that the cloud removes the requirement for a professional to be present; the software’s real-time decisions and use of logic protocol to validate the results means a parent or other volunteer can perform the procedure.

With medical industry backing, the technology look certain to become more prevalent. Already its supporters are claiming that the big data gathered from widespread adoption of the system would be able to help guide public health policy decisions and provide information for continued public and private support and funding.

What role can the cloud play in the gathering of big data across all industries to help improve government spending? Is a computer game an adequate replacement for a well-trained and high-experience professional? Let us know in the comments below.

By Daniel Price

Virtual Economies: Gaming In The Cloud Is Big Business

Virtual Economies: Gaming In The Cloud Is Big Business

Virtual Economies: Gaming In the Cloud Is Big Business

A little while back, I did an article on how to make money as a professional, playing different types of cloud video games. The industry behind this phenomenon is growing at a geometric rate, with new events and tournaments popping up every year.

Fortunately for those of us who do not have the time or skills to game professionally, that is not the only aspect of cloud gaming that has real-world benefits and rewards. The economies inside the games themselves many times mirror what you would find out in the real world. And given that a whole slew of in-game items have value out in the real world, virtual economies are increasingly becoming attractive for entrepreneurs.

Eve Online
eyjolfurWhen it comes to providing an example of a cloud game that has developed in intricate and thriving virtual economy, Eve Online is sure to be the first to pop into most industry professional’s mind. In fact, Eve Online’s economy, in terms of sheer size, actually dwarfs the real-world economy of Iceland, the company from which it is based.

Size is not the only factor that makes Eve Online’s economy such an interesting thing to examine. The mechanics and operation of the economy are so intricate that they require an economist to oversee. Eyjólfur Guðmundsson, the economist responsible for Eve Online’s oversight, is quoted as saying “For all intents and purposes, this is an economy that has activity equal to a small country in real life. There’s nothing ‘virtual’ about this world.”

Second Life

The vibrancy and importance of the virtual economy goes a step further when it comes to the game Second Life. In fact, Second Life’s in-game operations and economy are so well developed, it has been designated as a virtual world instead of a game by many people.

A perfect example of the similarities between Second Life’s virtual economy and that of the real world can be seen with the scare that occurred in 2006 with CopyBot. CopyBot allowed any item in Second Life to be copied, bypassing the need to buy them with the in-game currency, Linden Dollars. This prompted the game’s creators, Linden Lab, to explore the option of filing a complaint under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This, in essence, gave real-world value to the virtual items inside the game.

Diablo 3

Blizzard, the creator of the highly-popular cloud game, Diablo 3, actually took things a bit further when they established a real money auction house (RMAH), which allowed players to auction off in-game items for real-world cash. The idea behind the RMAH was to steer players away from third-party markets held outside of the Blizzard umbrella.

Unfortunately, the result was a whole slew of new botters (gamers who use automated scripts solely to accrue virtual items), which in turn tanked the gold value in Diablo 3. This had pretty much the same effect that it would have had on a real-world economy: hyperinflation.

Virtual economies are growing in size and complexity with each cloud game that makes its mark with the public. Have you had any experience buying and selling in a virtual environment? Let us know in the Comments section below!

By Joe Pellicone

CloudTweaks Comics
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5 Surprising Ways Cloud Computing Is Changing Education

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