Category Archives: Technology

Cloud Infographic: The Future Of Big Data

Cloud Infographic: The Future Of Big Data

Cloud Infographic: The Future Of Big Data

Big data is not new. It has existed for ages and can be attributed even to the initial years of computing. However, one might do well to consider why is there an increased buzz around this now. The answer is quite simple: Significant advances that have been brought about by x86 hardware have actually helped in bringing computing power to the masses. However, with new technologies, cloud computing has extended this power. Now, users have extended perimeters, while still being able to control costs effectively. 

big data infographic

Infographic Source: OnlineBusinessDegree

Survival In The Cloud Depends On Experimentation

Survival In The Cloud Depends On Experimentation

I was fascinated to hear Jeff Bezos comment that Amazon’s expected $1.5 billion in revenue via their Amazon Web services business was successful due their focus on experimentation. The experimentation paradigm is the most important strategy for cloud executives to execute successfully, lest they fail to take full advantage of the monumental opportunity the cloud is offering.

Our brains are actively involved in mental experiments almost continuously. We’re always speculating about what comes next and what our response will be. However, the experimental process Bezos is referring to is something much more formal and takes a lot more effort. Focusing on this more formal level of experimentation requires a commitment to the experimental process.

Executing Experimental Concepts For Success

An experiment involves assumptions, exercises, and measurement. With regard to assumptions, it is critical to start with the right statements or questions. By asking concrete questions specific to your task, you will be guided to the specific answers you’re looking for. The key here’s to avoid interesting but distracting rabbit trails. An example of a concrete question could be: If we hire a writer to write sales copy and sales increase 20% percent, what will our return on investment (ROI) be?

The next step is to develop exercises or assumptions. That way you will know what to measure in step three to determine whether or not the experiment was successful.

  • Hypothesis #1: if we invest $1000 for a writer and sales go up 20%, we will have gained an ROI of 30%
  • Hypothesis #2: if we invest $1000 for a writer and sales go up 10%, we will have gained an ROI of 15%
  • Hypothesis #3: if we invest $1000 for a writer and sales do not go up we will have a loss of $1000.
  • Result #1: when we invested $1000 for a writer and sales grew 20%, should we assign more work to this writer?
  • Result #2: we invested $1000 for a writer and sales grew 10%, what can we do next time to get sales up to the targeted 20% increase? (Hire a different writer?)
  • Result #3: we invested $1000 for a writer and sales did not go up and we lost thousand dollars, what’s other strategies can we experiment with to get sales up to the targeted 20% increase?

Before you write off the oversimplification of the above example, consider how many of us actually put pen to paper at the various stages described above?

By writing through the research process we are better able to strategize and track results. Many believe they can wing it by simply thinking about it. However, memory is not as accurate as we would like it to be. Life’s daily distractions cloud an unwritten experiment while a written one holds us accountable to the success we seek.

Most of us will not achieve $1.5 billion in revenue. But we can increase our business year after year by disciplining ourselves to take experimentation to a new level.

By Donald Cleveland

Robin Hood Gone Evil: Loophole Leading To Cloud Pickpocketing Identified

Robin Hood Gone Evil: Loophole Leading To Cloud Pickpocketing Identified

Researchers at North Carolina State university and University of Oregon have proposed a jaw-dropping price tag for performing heavy duty cloud computing task – as low as zero dollars. Experiments reveal that cloud-based web browsers can be exploited to hijack the underlying computational power, and that as well, in total anonymity.

The result could be as unforgivable as cloud computing time theft of mammoth proportions. The pickpocketed resources, once fallen into the wrong hands, can be used for just about anything, including brute force password crack attempts, denial of service attacks and other genres of cycle-hungry attacks.

Contrary to relying upon the end-user’s device to perform the number crunching, cloud-based browsers make the most out of cloud resources to process and deliver web pages. This functionality of cloud-based browsers (likes of Opera Mini, Amazon Silk and Puffin) can be imitated by creating customized variants that have the potential to trick servers into performing word counts, string parsing, text search and other tasks for free. The above is accomplished by a neat hack termed as the browser MapReduce, BMR.

BMR spawns from Google’s MapReduce, an alternative mechanism to manage parallel processing of utterly large datasets. In simple words, Browser MapReduce operates by amassing free JavaScript processing cycles, in unison with a punctilious scheduling plan to effectively work around the processing bounds enforced originally by the cloud-browser providers.

The team has proved their point by saving chunks of data on URL-shortening sites, effectually deceiving them and the cloud browser providers into processing about 100MB of data for free. “What we were able to do was chain together a bunch of requests to make a larger computation“, Enck, the primary research investigator, explained.

Things are not all gloomy though. The team also presented ways to fix the cloud exploitation problem, the most effective requiring a check on the number of requests that can be directed towards the core server cluster originating from a single user. A user-authentication mechanism built into the browser should do the trick pretty well. Enck pointed out that “Instead of allowing anyone on the Internet to make requests of their servers, end users should have accounts.”

Such a methodology would allow for the service providers to notice whenever one account is generating requests that are enormously volumetric for a genuine human user. The team is all set to present their research findings at the Annual Computer Security Alliance summit to be held in the first week of December 2012.

The title of the research work, “Abusing Cloud-Based Browsers for Fun and Profit” almost says it all – cloud security measures associated with mobile devices require further fortification.

Loopholes of such sort continue to assist the bad guys in using cloud computing horsepower for not-so-noble purposes. Its about time that cloud-browser service providers take note of such weak links in the mobile cloud computing chain before the tables are turned on them.

By Humayun Shahid

Cloud Infographic: Fresh Insights Into Cloud Adoption Trends

Cloud Infographic: Fresh Insights Into Cloud Adoption Trends

Cloud Infographic: Fresh Insights Into Cloud Adoption Trends

Cloud computing is now in heavy use in the industry and even the consumer market is starting to consider the benefits of cloud computing. Even though it is using the same technology that we have since more than 10 years ago, the cloud computing paradigm made all of the difference by simply changing the implementation of networking technology. But what exactly drives the development of cloud technology, what motivates its constant update, and what prevents people from adopting it?

Infographic Source:  Capgemini

What Is The Key Criterion For Selecting A Cloud Service Provider?

What Is The Key Criterion For Selecting A Cloud Service Provider?

Cloud computing has matured enough for a lot of people that jumping on it is no longer scary. The technology has also advanced enough that even data conversion and migration are no longer considered as daunting, just a little annoying. Because of this new influx of prospective clients, many cloud service providers are popping out every day. But the problem is that not all of them are the first-hand owners of a cloud infrastructure. Most of them are actually just “re-branders” or “white-label brands”. This means that they are only partnered with a bigger provider which owns the infrastructure and these smaller providers connecting to it are merely distributors, simple middlemen with customized services.

Normally this is not a problem, but since they are all connected to a bigger infrastructure provider, when it goes down, all “middlemen” go down with it. Because of this, the main selection criteria that one should look at when comparing cloud providers are not security, privacy, or data integrity—all of these are a given with cloud computing service providers, and chances are most of them have the same policies regarding these issues.

The key criterion that one should look at are Service Level Agreements (SLAs). These are the write-ups that outline what services are being provided and how much of it a customer gets. Probably all cloud service providers have SLAs, but most of these SLAs were written to protect the vendors as opposed to being customer-centric. That has to change, and customers have to demand more with regard to service and the assurance of it because not all users of cloud computing are actually getting the savings that are being promised by the technology itself. Vendors are already taking notice that more and more clients are checking out and comparing SLAs rather than just simple service customization and the related costs.

By Abdul Salam

The Storage Wars: Google And Amazon Battle It Out, Microsoft Turns Turtle

The Storage Wars: Google and Amazon Battle It Out, Microsoft Turns Turtle

The past week witnessed Google and Amazon slashing the price tag associated with their respective cloud storage services one after the other. Interestingly, the price lowering spree from both the giants seems more like an immediate business reflex rather than a thoroughly chalked out pricing plan.

Google started the sequel by introducing to the world a novel storage form, the Durable Reduced Availability, priced at a mere $ 0.7 per gigabyte per month. This translated to a price reduction as significant as 20 percent on Google’s storage solutions, setting off shockwaves at the Amazon base camp. Amazon was prompt to respond. Its web services division bit back by announcing a price cut as much as 25 percent on its S3 services, sprinkling the essential ‘economies of scale’ flavour to its cloud recipes. What was Google’s take on the move? Dave Barth, product manager at Google, reiterated in an official blog post that the company is committed to deliver on the “best value” in the market to ventures and developers set to carry out operations in the cloud. Google meant exactly what it said, and (to our delight) sprung back with an additional 10 percent shed on its cloud storage pricing, effectively raising the price-cut bar to a whopping 30 percent.

Surprisingly enough, things at Microsoft are headed quite the other way around. Instead of coming up with a pricing offer that would pin Google and Amazon to the ground, Microsoft has, as Amit Singh puts it, “increased their price by 15 percent for no (apparent) reason“. Singh, president of Google enterprise, deems the competition posed by Microsoft nothing serious to be worried about.

Google’s pricing structure sure is competitive, and the associated migration procedure a piece of cake. The consumer base is now looking up to Amazon in hopes of a compelling reason for them to stay on-board. For Microsoft, it needs to haste in re-formulating the pricing model for its cloud offerings in response to the recent price cuts by Google. Sure, Microsoft is known for being ever-loyal to its pro-enterprise product design philosophy. However, in a market studded with blossoming tech startups, failure to capitalize on the small business consumer segment might land the software a serious blow.

There you have it. This one-of-a-kind war between Google, Amazon and Microsoft has painted a significantly vibrant and competitive cloud-storage landscape for consumers to breathe in. The consumer folk can only hope for other service providers to plunge into the battlefield, an occurrence that would ensure further price drops – fingers crossed.

By Humayun Shahid

What Happens When Cloud Computing Embraces Evolving Antivirus Brands As Security Models?

What Happens When Cloud Computing Embraces Evolving Antivirus Brands As Security Models?

Three areas of cloud computing are the crisis points of security breaches. Were it not for Software as a Service (SaaS) programs, there would be no malware. Similarly, but for the openings in the server connections in a network or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), cases of mistrust between proxies would never be an issue. Lastly, were it not for the break in the wall of Platform as a Service (PaaS) as the development platform where hackers can find a field day, there wouldn’t be any security concerns for the cloud community.

Still, the evolving nature of traditional antivirus giants may one day become the saving grace against hardware and cyber crimes that center on mistrust. Though antivirus is like a physical injection, it still qualifies as an all-embracing technology that has legal implications. For example, McAfee, one of the biggest antivirus providers has migrated into the cloud with the aim to certify server networks and a collection of IP sites in a certain domain with particular security details. If the cloud computing providers breach these enforcements, they stand to lose their support by the antivirus companies while their clients may learn that their data stays unguarded.

There are many things that can happen when companies that were purely anti-malware evangelists a few years ago join in the frontline of cloud security. The advent of external monitoring, where the antivirus tool has mandate not on a single PC, but thousands, will keep the security certificates in par with a certain standard. Indeed, it is like bringing the IT department into the cloud—here, any breach will not find a ready culprit in the person of a technician, but in a remote tool that has failed to diagnose a security issue. Perhaps a possible oversight is what has prompted antivirus giants to request network kingpins and server hosts to divulge on ISP certificates and other details of safety installations to help perpetuate collective intelligence.

Talking about intelligence related to the rest of the networks in the cloud, the future technology against malware will be minimalist. It will not occupy intimidating space on the CPU like it does now. In fact, issues of setting up a program will no longer be attended by third-party assertions that the installation can only happen when an accessory virus technology is also a part of the download. In other words, the good side of this evolving technology is that it will lighten up hard disk space when working on the desktop, surfing the Internet, or tapping SaaS data because the facilitation will be ingrained in the cloud.

Finally, network intelligence will also help alleviate cloud security emergencies because the antivirus tools will be able to detect instantly the presence of a bug through analytical and networking means. It will quickly use existing resources to trace the source. Who knows, it might even penalize the infrastructure service from which the malware emerges. Right now, it is difficult to trace the path of a bug along the access-intermediary-core layers other than knowing that it comes from a certain link to a customer’s PC. Collective intelligence will help open up new horizons in the cloud that can map the career of a virus.

In short, debugging in the cloud may not be just that of customers relying on the service providers to safeguard their data. Rather, an evolving antivirus might help shield end users from frequent hardware attacks from unknown sources. It will use remote monitoring and will certify major networks that serve data users in their security mandates.

By John Omwamba

What Successful Businesses Have Been Developed By Providing SaaS, PaaS and IaaS

What Successful Businesses Have Been Developed By Providing SaaS, PaaS and IaaS

We have written quite a few articles about the 3 most significant service models it presents, SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. Yet the thing that makes understanding these models difficult is the fact that there are so very few examples of companies that are actually making a successful business out of providing one or all of these services. And it is so difficult to find a palpable example for each category because most of these service providers are focused on the business market so, as individuals, we don’t really have the chance to interact with them. So let’s look at some of the most successful companies in each category and see what they can teach us about them.

Big Names in SaaS

Some of the biggest names in the Software as a Service model include NetSuite Inc, and Open Table Inc and Real Page. Net Suite was the first to come up with an SaaS ERP solution, way before SAP and Oracle ever thought of doing it. They may be oriented at the business sector but their vision is one of the key pieces of the cloud. Open Table is the dream of every husband who forgot to make dinner reservations on that one important night because they work with more than 20000 restaurants to provide real time online dinner reservations. They make their money from the restaurants rather than the clients and that is another huge plus of the cloud business. Real Page is a property management solution managing more than 6 million rental houses. They are basically the perfect example of an unstoppable cloud based business.

Big Names in PaaS

When it comes to Platform as a Service model there are some names that we have all heard of and others that only key programmers and businesses know of, but their revenue and importance of the market are huge. Amazon is actually one of the biggest names in PaaS with their Amazon Web Service, AWS. They already have a toolkit for Eclipse, a package that lets developers create Amazon resources called Cloud Formation and many cloud based database options. Sales Force is another great example of a PaaS with its two main products AppExchange and Heruko. Their products are extraordinary that they were able to help build and install 3000 apps in less than 24 hours.

Big Names in IaaS

Although not very well known to the general public IaaS businesses do provide some of the most interesting services that could actually be used by individuals just as well as by some businesses. For example Bluelock provides companies the ability to build public, private or both cloud services and it further allows companies to monitor just how much money they are spending. That is definitely a service that most of us are going to need in the near future. GoGrid is a pure-play cloud service offering Xen based IaaS and working to deliver a third party platform where its clients will be able to trade their own software products.

By Luchi Gabriel Manescu

CloudTweaks Comics
How Your Startup Can Benefit From Cloud Computing And Growth Hacking

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10 Trending US Cities For Tech Jobs And Startups

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Containerization: The Bold Face Of The Cloud In 2016

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Cloud Infographic – Guide To Small Business Cloud Computing

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