Category Archives: SaaS

Women and Cloud Computing, Part II: Four Leading Ladies in the Cloud Conversation

Women and Cloud Computing, Part II: Four Leading Ladies in the Cloud Conversation

This series of articles shines a light on impactful female figures in cloud computing and seeks to spark a conversation on the place of women in technology.

Two thousand twelve looks to be a breakout year for several standout members of the cloud computing community, all of whom just happening to be of the female persuasion. Anticipate big things from this dynamic quartet throughout the year.

Vanessa Alvarez

As an analyst for Forrester Research, Ms. Alvarez has consistently developed a formidable reputation as an expert on storage architecture and strategy. Last year, The Next Web hailed her as one of twenty-five most influential people in cloud computing in terms of Twitter activity; Alvarez earned an enviable PeerIndex score of 66, a well-respected indicator of authority and trustworthiness.

Her stance at the vanguard of cloud computing as it evolves has allowed her to straddle both social media and traditional news; Bloomberg TV, Forbes, and CNNMoney are just a few of the prestigious outlets who regularly seek out her opinion on all things cloud.

Denise Dubie

Multihyphenate Dubie — an editor of impressive sources such as CIO.com, writer for outlets like ComputerWorld, and technological whiz — also factored among TNW’s major leagues of cloud computing voices. She primarily concentrates her opinion on issues of service assurance, management of information technology, and automation. Dubie currently serves as the New Media Principal at CA Technologies and maintains the crisp and comprehensive blog site, Service Assurance Daily.

Riitta Raesmaa

A 67 score on PeerIndex underscores the heft of Ms. Raesmaa’s notoriety and industry-wide respect. This Helsinki-born entrepreneur locates the cloud among the other critical components in the constellation of current technology: enterprise 2.0, social media, and SaaS. “Always in beta,” as is her motto, Raesmaa maintains a bilingual blog (readable in both English and Finnish), @Raesmaa. The self-professed bookworm also served as a founding partner for Sopima.

Renee Schmidt

Schmidt, a dynamo in the conversation on women in technology, helms the popular blog SheBytes. She also co-founded major New York City cloud host Madison Technology, which continues to earn clout as a major provider of Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS. The cloud computing guru emphatically examples how women can comport themselves as ladies without sacrificing technological authority; Schmidt’s affinity for stilettos has yet to stop junkets like Fox News from enlisting her point of view on the cloud and female entrepreneurship.

Read: Women and Cloud Computing, Part I

By Jeff Norman

Battle of the Document Cloud Apps: Google Docs, Apple iWorks…Which One Truly Reigns?

Battle of the Document Cloud Apps: Google Docs, Apple iWorks…Which One Truly Reigns?

Battle of the Document Cloud Apps: Google Docs, Apple iWorks…

Throughout the 1990s, 2000s, and today, Microsoft Word has served as the final word in applications designed to maximize the efficiency and output of both businesses and individual computer users regarding their documents.

Attempts to unseat its status as the number-one program of its kind have been largely futile. Many an erstwhile competitor has been outdone by the thorough richness and ease of use inherent to Word and the other members of the Microsoft Office family, such as Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint. Both the computing industry and consumers have long registered unanimous agreement in the preeminence of Word.

Then came along cloud computing…

With the development of technologies and applications that made it easy for users to access, interact with, and share their documents via the Internet, a changing of the documents app guard has begun to take place. Microsoft is shaking in their boots at the threat of cloud computing, and the applications thereby launched, to Word — indisputably one of the company’s foremost cash cows.

First came along Google Docs. The allure of Google’s cloud offering is not in its array of features or quality — Microsoft Word clearly trumps Google Docs when it comes to cool and useful attributes. But Google Docs is free for most consumers, cheap for businesses. Folks involved in government or education, especially young people, have immediately latched onto Google Docs’ pragmatic assets and simplicity.

IBM has also released a document application, plainly titled IBM Docs. Yet the wimpy name belies a formidable foe to Microsoft Word: a cloud document application that is just as abundant in nifty features as Word, at a lesser price. Another advantage for IBM is the trust that the company has engendered among business and tech elite. The IBM label makes this document app particularly attractive for those high-end computing consumers and businesses who associate intelligent application design with the potential for greater revenue: a tacit yet key characteristic of IBM’s marketing plan.

Newest to the document cloud app race is Apple’s iWork. It consists of four primary components: spreadsheets, Keynote presentations, word processing, and email. IBM Docs, Google Docs, and Word definitely outrank iWork in terms of familiarity and features. Yet iWork has a teeny weeny benefit: its direct link to the Apple family of computing juggernauts, like the iPad and the Mac.

To counter these threats to its treasured Word and Office Suite, Microsoft released Office 365: essentially a carbon copy of the Office family of products souped up for the cloud. Office 365’s primary advantage is brand recognition, bolstered by an inventively simple and entertaining series of commercial spots, targeted at people who still look to blue skies for their cloud.

So who tops the list of document cloud apps in 2012? The victor is still unclear. Yet at least consumers will benefit as the applications jockey for leadership.

By Jeff Norman

Cloud Computing Canada: HP ‘Master The Cloud’ Event (Toronto) – Part 3

Cloud Computing Canada: HP ‘Master The Cloud’ Event (Toronto) – Part 3

Cloud Computing Canada: HP ‘Master The Cloud’ Event (Toronto) – Part 3

Continued from: Part 1Part 2

The HP “Mastering The Cloud” Event drew to a close around 4:30, after one last blast of hot dogs, pretzels and other salty refreshments.  As someone who has attended, bought space in , and spoken at trade shows, and as an independent blogger, I would rate this one to be quite successful in terms of affirming HP’s role as an authority and credible partner in cloud management and cloud security. A key ingredient in this assessment is what I call the 4:00 “bedraggle factor,” in which most people who have spent all day at a trade show emerge into the light looking bleary, dehydrated, over-informed and under-stimulated.  I did not see this at this cloud computing event. Instead I saw people talking, networking and exploring, up until the last minute.

Host/emcee Adam Growe was charming in a completely Canadian-non-offensive way. His only sideswipe was his video depiction of  Toronto as a city that calls in the army when the snow gets too deep, but, hey, the mayor of Toronto at the time was a businessman, and business people do what they have to do to get things done, and that’s what HP was promoting – getting things done in a free-market open environment, instead of stifling creativity with closed-door  proprietary systems. Besides, Mr. Growe  plays a cab driver on TV, and no one complains louder in this city when the streets get clogged than the cabbies. Maybe some method acting is in order. However, he was gracious enough to admit he really didn’t understand the technologies and terms he was incorporating into his act, and good for him – he represented every company owner in this country, who must face an onslaught of indecipherable terms, all aimed at delivering a case of the willies to the C-Suite about the safety and sanctity of their own data.

This is heavy stuff. It comes on the historical heels of mainframe/dumb terminal computing in the 1970’s and 80’s, networked computing in the 1990’s, and IP/Internet computing of the 2000’s, all claiming to be the salvation to a company’s woes.  Now, once again there is a new solution, in which mashable apps and Hybrid clouds promise a future of secure data and cost savings.

In Canada, this might be a tough sell. Not that there’s anything wrong with it (cloud computing, that is,) but because Canadian business owners are cautious – they often ask “how much might we lose” rather than “how much can we make”?  They want to see the proof. Our hosts from Onx.com with whom I and other journos met over sandwiches at lunch, said it best: “How do you convince Canadians? The market will convince them. “That’s fair, I guess, especially in a shaky economy.

HP did well to bring the POD onsite as I mentioned in a  previous blog).

They also did well to deploy a legion of enthusiastic techies, who were happy to explain the transformational process:

  • 1. Build
  • 2. Consume
  • 3. Transform existing apps 
  • 4. Manage and Secure

They stressed the nature of feedback from customers throughout the process, maintaining a “federated automated and client aware” ecosystem.

In short HP did a great job in displaying themselves as a multidimensional solutions provider, not just providing the hardware, but the thinkware – the attitude and strategy – that must accompany it. HP has been doing this since the 1930’s and their alliances with other industry giants such as Microsoft point towards a particular degree of might and versatility.

The roadshow next veers west, to Calgary and Vancouver. Adam Growe is hoping to pass as a cowboy in his Tilley hat, which I know from bitter experience, won’t work. He would do best to find a bolo tie and fast. But HP will make a lot of new friends especially when they show off just what their hybrid cloud delivery systems and modular transportable PODs are doing for the mining and oil & gas industry.

By Steve Prentice

Post Sponsored by HP 

HP ‘Master The Cloud’ Event (Montreal) – Part 1

HP ‘Master The Cloud’ Event (Montreal) – Part 1

HP ‘Master The Cloud’ Event (Montreal) – Part 1

It’s a cold, bright day in Montreal, Quebec, where HP has chosen to present their day long Master the Cloud event this 26th of January, 2012. Le Palais de Congrés, or Convention Centre, is packed with Canadian HP customers, vendors, press, bloggers, and staff. Promptly at 9, Dave Frederickson, VP and General Manager of Enterprise Servers and Storage Networking take the stage. Dave knows that HP can help businesses small and large to harness the capabilities of the cloud.  Some may then reply, “But does HP have the credibility to do so?”

Well, they have been doing it for quite some time already, and are only moving forward at a pace faster than their competitors. Thanks to R& D and multiple acquisitions, coupled with hundreds of partners around the globe, HP knows exactly what the vision for the future of the cloud is. He also asks, “Who is HP? What is our strategy?” They are one of the largest providers of infrastructure, all having started out with hardware. Says Frederickson, “We’re proud of that. Everything else builds upon that expertise.” They are able to deliver cost effective solutions, expand their core with software, application and infrastructure management, information management, and security and risk management. “We have the hardware structure and the software.”

He is followed by Denis Gaudreault, Business Development Manager of Intel Canada. They have partnered with HP because they know that the cloud brings open data and open protocols that need to be dynamic and optimized. Moving from the industrial age to the information age has been, and is, painful for many industries. Just think about the newspaper business. There is too much at stake for corporations to allow IT to remain the way it is now. But it is not just the newspaper industry facing these challenges. He likens the success or failure of companies embracing the cloud to that of a good surfer who has done his homework: that surfer can handle the big waves. But, when he jumps blindly into “the big one“, it can crush them. Says Denis, “The big wave has already started. Are you ready?” Intel believes they, with their HP partnership, are. They want to make the cloud fully automated with resource optimization in power efficient data centers. Open and interoperable solutions are essential, and that’s why they formed the Opendatacenteralliance.org.

Finally, Lu Kabir, VP of HP Global Cloud Computing along with HP Canada’s Chief Solutions Manager William Dupley are up. One of the main concerns of businesses and their transition into the cloud involves an inherent feeling that there IS money in the cloud, but that they are not able to, or unaware of, how to write the business case. What is the justification? What is the ROI? One of the fundamental beliefs of HP is that even among the three “flavors” of cloud is that applications must be portable. Being able to build, develop, and test internally is great, but what happens when you want to then go public with that app? No changes should ever have to be made when transitioning between private and public clouds. Of course, if that is the case, then what about the different needs of privacy and security? For all, privacy in the cloud is paramount. It has even held Canada back due to worrying about this very issue. They a concerned about the possible lack of compliance mechanisms, fear of vendor lock-in, and even application migration challenges. One of the easiest ways to get past these fears? Don’t go proprietary. “Others are, HP is not.” They want to make sure that their customers’ applications investments are protected because they recognize that not all security is equal. Recognizing those different levels of security requirements can help with costs, in addition to the magnitudes of cost savings the cloud already offers. IT and office benefits such as server and storage efficiency, operation staff reduction and help desk efficiency. Business benefits would include faster time to market, rapid development of new business, and improved employee efficiency.

After the keynote concluded, I had an opportunity to attend a press interview with those giving the keynote speeches. They want to stress that there are three flavors of cloud solutions: Private clouds for enterprise, managed clouds, where HP and an SLA guarantees the privacy customers would expect. And finally, the public cloud, which is in beta. For enterprises who want to know more, HP will talk to you for free. They offer Cloud Discovery, a service that you can help you go in the direction you need to go. They want it to be so easy that all you have to do is call any branch and say, “I want to learn more about the cloud”. That’s all it takes.

Event Coverage by Josh Horner

Post Sponsored by HP 

I Like the Way You Move: A Boom in the Mobile Cloud

A Boom in the Mobile Cloud

Surmounting the economic challenges of 2011, cloud computing emerged as a new technological force to be reckoned with. The New Year has already announced additional strength for the cloud, particularly in the mobile phone sector.

Several major tech junkets predicted cloud computing’s push into society’s cell phones and mobile devices — predictions that I did not wholeheartedly believe.

The cloud’s flagship asset of storing and updating important data in multiple locations simultaneously is simple enough to grasp. However, most major companies have failed to communicate just how simple and useful cloud computing can actually prove to be for consumers. The general public, at least from my perspective, regards the cloud with either confusion or security-concerned contempt.

And then Apple launched their ridiculously attractive commercial for the iCloud this January. The ad makes it very clear that what a user downloads with her laptop will instantly transfer in its entirety to her smartphone, and vice versa. Apple’s elegant handling of the cloud clarifies its assets for average folks without deigning to dumb down the content.

This intelligent move has cemented Apple and iCloud at the vanguard of the reach for consumers and mobile technology. It now behooves me to admit that cloud computing will slowly but surely saturate cell phone / smartphone use throughout the year. And some research indicates that Apple won’t be alone in navigating just exactly how, and how well, mobile phone users absorb the cloud.

T-Mobile, to be fair, actually frolicked in the cloud long before the technology became all the rage. The company’s mobile devices have long featured the MobileLife Album, which has granted users the freedom to back up their pics with separate yet space-free storage. T-Mobile interestingly did not label this technology as “the cloud” or any other close synonym. But if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck…

Microsoft’s Skydrive and Dropbox, among the best known cloud applications around, are anticipated to expand their distribution into the mobile device realm as well this year. Cloud computing folk should also keep an eye out for the rise of MNOs, or “mobile network operators,” such as Verizon and AT&T, into the cloud application sector as well. Big honcho companies like these are realizing that the cloud is trending with mobile phone users who desire heightened ease of use and more malleable access to their data.

Clever admen as hired by Apple and T-Mobile are simply tapping into this already-existent embrace of cloud computing. Their brilliance manifests in how smoothly they sugarcoat cloud computing’s complexities as clear advantages for average people who want above-average phones.

By Jeff Norman

More Big Data related Startups for 2012

More Big Data related Startups for 2012

More Big Data related Startups For 2012

The number of startups related to Big Data continues to grow exponentially with a number of interesting startups to watch for in 2012. These startups include: Zillabyte, Cloudability and Kaggle.

Zillabyte

Taking a bite out of the Big Data processing business, Zillabyte.com is set to put Big Data analysis into the hands of business users through data sets and algorithms. Rather than get some Subject Matter Expert with a relevant PHD to do it for you, the company will seek to create a Big Data analysis through automation. The Zillabyte founders have had experience with Google and seen how Google’s own internal tools help to make Big Data analysis as painless as possible. This is exactly what they intend for Zillabyte which they say will provide their users with a big picture crawl of the entire Internet, so that they can get a trend or forecast one happening as easy as possible.

Cloudability

Unlike my previous set of Big Data related startups, is a startup that actually tracks Big Data and is mostly related to cloud pattern detection involving cloud spending overages. What this means in simple English is that they track your overall spending in the cloud and let you know if there is a spike. Much like when your credit card company calls you up about the $22,000 diamond encrusted thong you never bought, this lets companies dealing in the Cloud check through and find out if there is anything not right going on. Already, the company has saved several such companies from hacker activity where Cloud resources were breached and used to transfer TBs worth of data, which saw an overage spike in cloud spending for said company. Right now, Cloudability currently has $1.1 million in seed money to expand its services beyond the normal tracking that it is doing now, and we can only hope that it will focus this money on more ways of saving us money such as algorithm run forecasting tools and the like.

Kaggle

While Kaggle.com is essentially a large job market for outsourcing Big Data Analysts, they take a very novel approach to it. Rather than just offer these Big Data Analysts a job, they make it into a fun sport contest with a prize for the winner, usually in the form of cash a bit more than they would have made just by taking the job. According to Kaggle, they create and manage this community of worldwide Phd toting data analysts, who use it more as a watering hole than an actual job site, allowing Kaggle to crowdsource Big Data jobs as and when a contest is introduced. Kaggle have also mentioned that they are implementing top-secret Big Data jobs that only a select few of proven individuals from the community can participate in, which allows these participants access to this data and a chance even more premium prizes. Expect Non-Disclosure Agreements if you do get selected along with other things you may or may not want to actually know. Those looking to get their Big Data checked through would do well to check Kaggle out and start your own contest. In addition, Kaggle recently acquired $11 million in funding for even more features to come.

By Muz Ismial

Graphene And The Cloud

Graphene And The Cloud

Graphene And The Cloud

The current buzz word in the tech world asides from Big Data and the Cloud is… Graphene. Dubbed a wonder material that will revolutionize practically every field in the world, it has been tied somewhat to the parallel explosion of the Cloud.

What is it?

Graphene is actually a naturally occurring substance that is a subset material from graphite. The facts regarding graphene are as follows:

  • it is one atom thick
  • it is stronger than steel
  • it is shaped like a honeycomb lattice of carbon molecules
  • it conducts heat and electricity many times better and faster than silicon
  • it has excellent temperature stability (from 200 degrees Celsius to negative 200 degrees Celsius)

How will it speed up the Cloud?

Studies have shown that the flow of electrons is faster on graphene transistors than conventional transistors which results in faster data transfer between chips. Faster electronics will mean faster processing and thus a faster Cloud. Other studies have also shown new techniques that allow for graphene to absorb more than 60% of visible light, which makes it a prime candidate for a faster fibre optic receiver. Faster fibre optics in turn means faster Internet which will put the Cloud on overdrive by speeding up Big Data transfer and processing.

IBM is currently working on graphene transistors with their latest and greatest capable of reaching 155GHz. Researchers have also stated that graphene can be produced at low cost using standard semiconductor manufacturing processes, so all the recently opened fabrication plants or foundries need not be reworked to suit graphene, just that silicon may be replaced with graphene. Other researchers have noted that use of graphene may result in better:

  • Bendable display screens (experimental prototypes the size of TVs have been created already)
  • Batteries (silicon graphene battery sandwiches have shown charging times 10x faster than the norm)
  • Faster memory or data storage (IBM already have MRAM or Racetrack type devices on 200mm wafers)

Why hasn’t it?

Well, asides from the fact that most researchers are still basically researching how to use graphene properly, there are two major issues stopping graphene from literally flying to production.

These are:

  1. a lack of an energy gap in natural graphene: this means that graphene does not posses enough of an on-off ratio required for digital switching, making it not good for processing discrete signals (but this surprisingly makes it good for analog signals)
  2. it is very hard to keep it straight and flat: the flatter the graphene the faster and smoother the electrical conductivity but if it bends it doesn’t move as fast

Current research also points to successful attempts at scaling working devices only being at 40 nanometers. Considering that Intel’s silicon-based Sandy Bridge micro-architecture is 32nm already and that the next Intel micro-architecture in 2012 will be at 22nm means that silicon is far from completely unusable just yet.

What is being done?

Currently many of the world’s leading experts and researchers are focusing all of their efforts into developing working graphene devices. This includes MIT which opened up a graphene research centre and the UK which provided a 50 million pound research fund. Many other researchers in various different fields are currently putting their best efforts forward in graphene research.

When will I see Graphene actually doing anything?

Not now, that is for certain. Currently computer manufacturers such as Intel don’t seem to be having any problems related to going below the 32nm process. While silicon has not yet reached its physical limitations just yet, research has shown that this may come very soon as attempts at going past 16nm have not been very stable much less successful.

By Muz Ismial

Cloud Apps of the Week: Google Music

Cloud Apps of the Week: Google Music

Google Music

The New York Times has proclaimed Google Music as one of the best cloud applications released for Android phone devices last year. That the music service is offered free of charge helps explain its selection, and also locates Google Music right at home among the other applications in the Google family, all available gratis (GMail, Google Docs, et cetera). But like those other apps, comprehensive features also distinguish Google Music: users can transfer 20,000 of their tracks to the cloud via the app, which also immediately and wirelessly synchronizes what they upload to their Android. Google Music’s mammoth-sized music storage capacity dwarfs that of main competitors Amazon Cloud Drive and iCloud. What’s more, Google Music struck an enviable deal with the Android Market; through this e-marketplace, users can profit from hundreds of prime tracks to download — at no cost, of course.

SugarSync is sweetening the pot when it comes to multiple device alignment. The application keeps users in short reach of every file and document from any location or device. Many similar applications house users’ files neatly as well, but SugarSync goes the extra mile by further backing up each document online. This characteristic upstages archrival Dropbox, where a user must remember to upload a file if she’d like to find it there. SugarSync’s designers clearly intended to infuse a jack-of-all-trades aesthetic into the application; it doubles as a music streamer, a mobile app (available on everything from BlackBerry to Symbian), and a polyglot (usable in Chinese, Spanish, German, and Japanese). At as little as $5 monthly (after a month-long free trial), this “Renaissance Man” app is a multifaceted steal.

“Assembly-line” style personalization, three-dimensional design, and the beauty of ceramics intertwine in Sculpteos 3D Printing Design Maker, the perfect application for the trendy potter in your life. The process begins with a photo or portrait of the user, or of a friend, taken and available on the user’s iPad. That user uploads the pic to Sculpteo’s cloud storage system. The company’s revolutionary 3D print technology transforms the photograph into a ceramic vase, plate, mug, or the like. In addition to cloud computing, Scupteo’s application makes equally clever use of what VentureBeat terms “mass customization,” in which manufacturers utilize mass production schemes to tailor an item to an individual consumer. Scupteo’s courted top-notch artists to develop new ways of using the ceramics application to further enmesh consumers into the design process. The tailor-made ceramics begin at $70 an item.

By Jeff Norman

CloudTweaks Comics
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