Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CloudFucius Investigates: The Comeback Cloud

Konfuzius-1770 Not that it was ever down and out, but the whole cloud computing concept has gotten off to a grand but challenging start.  It was all the rage when first ‘conceived’ as the new way of hosting applications with the promise of cost savings, automation, flexible/dynamic architectures, fast and repeatable deployment and a pay-as-you-go model.  The Coin Operated Cloud but with very little understanding of all the buttons, functions and risks.  As IT started to comprehend the nuances of the cloud, then some very serious questions regarding it’s ability to protect and secure information came to light.  This arrived at a time when the economic downturn could have vaulted the shared, less expensive infrastructure offerings to the top of any IT list since budgets were tight and resources scarce.  It was the perfect storm of tight budgets and cost effective computing.  However, the risk of data loss kept folks questioning the viability of putting sensitive data in the cloud.  Plus, no consent on standards kept the mix of cloud offerings all over the place while limiting the customer’s ability to mix and match.

As cloud offerings matured and *some* security concerns addressed along with IT having a better grasp on risks and mitigation, the cloud is gradually becoming more attractive to enterprises.  Like anything else that suddenly bursts on to the scene, the hype outweighs the reality and it takes time to fully understand and realize the benefits.

It seems that almost weekly a shiny new cloud computing survey is released and this week, Vanson Bourne (commissioned by Savvis) released a report that ties cloud computing to the economic recovery.  Specifically, ‘68 percent of respondents said cloud computing will help their businesses recover from the recession.’  The survey found that 54% of respondents said cost cutting and more flexible IT provisioning is the biggest issue they face and they are optimistic with the prospect that cloud computing can cut costs.  A significant number of IT decision makers, 96%, said they are as confident or more confident than they were last year that cloud computing is enterprise ready.  Yankee Group also released a report that says cloud computing is on the cusp of broad enterprise adoption.  They also indicate that the concept of cloud computing as a business enabler has jumped from 37% to 60% of respondents in just a year. 

But can cloud computing save the economy? 

That’s a stretch, according to David Linthicum in this article.  The logic goes, if companies can save money with cloud computing and are more optimistic about the prospect of cloud computing, then they will start spending IT dollars for cloud deployments.  This will, in turn, boost the cloud economy since providers will have to prepare and hire for the influx of customers.  Since accelerated growth would occur, that would attract public and private investments in cloud computing technologies.  The ‘catalyst,’ as Linthicum notes, is to get more investment dollars back into the technology industry, which should fuel the tech economy at least.  Betting that cloud computing will turn the entire economy is a huge long-shot and unrealistic.  The survey also revealed that even with all that confidence, security remains as the key adoption barrier.  52% of those who do not use cloud computing said ‘security of sensitive data’ as a top concern.

In a slightly related story, LimeWire Planning A Serious, Cloud-Based Comeback

And one from Confucius: And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.


The CloudFucius Series: Intro, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14


Technorati Tags: F5, infrastructure 2.0, integration, cloud connect, Pete Silva, security, business, education, technology, application delivery, cloud, context-aware, web, internet, openstack

twitter: @psilvas

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

CloudFucius Asks: Will Open Source Open Doors for Cloud Computing?

Konfuzius-1770 There has been a lot of press already about OpenStack’s announcement yesterday about their new open source cloud computing software.  OpenStack says that the goal is, ‘to allow any organization to create and offer cloud computing capabilities using open source software running on standard hardware.’  The software is intended to to allow companies to automatically create and manage large deployments of virtual private servers and remove the concern of vendor lock-in since the software will allow customers to span multiple cloud providers.  Customers and service providers alike can use their own physical hardware to create large cloud environments, public or private, across the globe.  It is also positioned to give customers more choice in how they want their specific cloud environment designed and deployed.  Almost 30 companies are participating with the folks at Rackspace and NASA (Nebula cloud computing platform) leading the charge.

Certainly, there are several attractive pieces to this, including the notion of cloud-standards, but will it finally open the flood gates for mass adoption of Cloud deployments?  Maybe not for the enterprise, at least initially.  Openstack honestly admits, ‘OpenStack is probably not something that the average business would consider deploying themselves yet. The big news for end customers is the potential for a halo effect of providers adopting an open and standard cloud: easy migration, cloud-bursting, better security audits, and a large ecosystem of compatible tools and services that work across cloud providers.’  This means that Openstack is really aimed at *very* technical enterprises (very large with lots of resources) and service providers.  Thus, the play for the enterprise does not exist (yet) here, *except* for management layer players who could leverage it to build something they could sell to enterprises to “make it easy” for them.  (thanks Lori!)

In addition, as Ted Julian of the Yankee Group points out in this story, security is still the great unknown since there doesn’t seem to be a security vendor on the list of Openstack participants.  I’m sure that list will grow over time, especially with the press that it’s getting, and the ever present cloud security concerns will eventually be addressed.  This project is in the very early stages and will continue to evolve as folks pick up the code, test it and decide how it might work for them.  Maybe it’ll also help push along and enable the whole Inter-Cloud notion.

And one from Confucius: The cautious seldom err.


The CloudFucius Series: Intro, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13


Technorati Tags: F5, infrastructure 2.0, integration, cloud connect, Pete Silva, security, business, education, technology, application delivery, cloud, context-aware, web, internet, openstack

twitter: @psilvas

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

CloudFucius Tunes into Radio KCloud

Konfuzius-1770 Set the dial and rip it off – all the hits from the 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond – you’re listening to the K-Cloud.  We got The Puffy & Fluffy Show to get you going in the morning, Cumulous takes you through midday with lunchtime legion, Mist and Haze get you home with 5 o’clock funnies and drive-time traffic while Vapor billows overnight for all you insomniacs.  K-Cloud; Radio Everywhere.

I came across this article which discusses Radio’s analogue to digital transition and it’s slow but eventual move to cloud computing.  How ‘Embracing cloud computing requires a complete rethinking of the design, operation and planning of a station’s data center.’  Industries like utilities, technology, insurance, government and others are already using the cloud while the broadcast community is just starting it’s exploration, according to Tom Vernon, a long-time contributor to Radio World. 

Like many of you, I grew up listening to the radio (music, I’m not that old) and still have a bunch of hole-punched record albums for being the 94th caller.  I listened to WHJY (94-HJY) in Providence and still remember the day in 1981 when it switched from JOY, a soft, classical station to Album-Orientated Rock.  Yes, I loved the hair-metal, arena rock, new wave, pop and most what they now call classic rock.  It’s weird remembering ‘Emotional Rescue’ and ‘Love Rollercoaster’ playing on the radio as Top 40 hits and now they are considered ‘classics.’   Um, what am I then?!? 

That article prompted me to explore the industries that have not embraced the cloud, and why.  Risk adverse industries immediately come to mind, like financial and health care.  There have been somewhat contradictory stories and surveys recently indicating both that, they are hesitant to adopt the cloud and ready to embrace the cloud.  A survey by LogLogic says that 60% of the financial services sector felt that cloud computing was not a priority or they were risk-averse to cloud computing.  This is generally an industry that historically has been an early adopter of new technologies.  The survey indicates that they will be spending IT dollars on ‘essential’ needs and that security questions and data governance concerns is what’s holding them back from cloud adoption.

About a week later, results from a survey done by The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) and IBM reports that there is now a strong interest in cloud computing after a couple years of reluctance.  The delay was due to the cost of implementing new technologies and the lack of talent needed to mange those systems.  Security is not the barrier that it once was since their cloud strategies include security ramifications.  They better understand the security risks and calculate that into their deployment models.  This story says that the financial services industry is indeed interested in cloud computing, as long as it’s a Private Cloud.  The one’s behind the corporate firewall, not Public floaters.  And that security was not the real issue, regulations and compliance with international border laws were the real holdback.

In the healthcare sector, according to yet another survey,  Accenture says that 73% said they are planning cloud movements while nearly one-third already have deployed cloud environments.  This story also says that ‘healthcare firms are beginning to realize that cloud providers actually may offer more robust security than is available in-house.’ 

Is there a contradiction?  Maybe.  More, I think it shows natural human behavior and progression when facing fears.  If you don’t understand something and there is a significant risk involved we’ll generally say, ‘no thanks’ to preserve our safety and security.  As the dilemma is better understood and some of the fears are either addressed or accounted for, the threat level is reduced and progress can be made.  This time around, while there are still concerns, we are more likely to give it a try since we know what to expect.  A risk assessment exercise gives us the tools to manage the fears.  Maybe the threat is high but the potential of it occurring is low or the risk is medium but we now know how to handle it.  It’s almost like jumping out of a plane.  If you’ve never done it, that first 3000ft tethered leap can be freighting – jumping at that height, hoping a huge piece of fabric will hold and glide you to a safe landing on the ground.  But once you’ve been through training, practiced it a few times, understand how to deploy your backup ‘chute and realize the odds are in your favor, then it’s not so daunting.  This may be what’s happening with risk averse industries and cloud computing.  Initially, the concerns, lack of understanding, lack of visibility, lack of maturity, lack of control, lack of security mechanisms and their overall fear kept these entities away, even with the lure of flexibility and potential cost savings.  Now that there is a better understanding of what types of security solutions a cloud provider can and cannot offer along with the knowledge of how to address specific security concerns, it’s not so scary any more.

Incidentally, I had initially used KCLD and WCLD for my cloud stations until I realized that they were already taken by real radio stations out of Minnesota and Mississippi.

And one from Confucius: Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.


The CloudFucius Series: Intro, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


Technorati Tags: F5, infrastructure 2.0, integration, cloud connect, Pete Silva, security, business, education, technology, application delivery, cloud, context-aware, web, internet

twitter: @psilvas

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

CloudFucius Dials Up the Cloud

Konfuzius-1770 According to IDC, the worldwide mobile worker population is set to increase from 919.4 million in 2008, accounting for 29% of the worldwide workforce, to 1.19 billion in 2013, accounting for 34.9% of the workforce.  The United States has the highest percentage of mobile workers in its workforce, with 72.2% of the workforce mobile in 2008.  This will grow to 75.5% by the end of the forecast period to 119.7 million mobile workers.  The U.S. will remain the most highly concentrated market for mobile workers with three-quarters of the workforce being mobile by 2013 and Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) represents the largest total number of mobile workers throughout the forecast, with 546.4 million mobile workers in 2008 and 734.5 million in 2013.  This means more workers will be using mobile devices, not being tied to an office cube and will need to have access back to the corporate network or applications hosted in the Cloud.

Enterprises and management are faced with a potential contradictory business situation.  The level of employee collaboration is on the rise; yet at the same time, the locations and work hours are changing and growing.  Additionally, companies understand the importance of providing access to their critical systems, even during a disaster; and that doesn’t necessarily mean a major tornado, flood, hurricane, earthquake or other natural phenomenon.  What does an enterprise do when it’s so cold and snowy that employees can’t get to the office?  Declare a “snow day” and close their doors?  Certainly not.  What does an employee do when they are sick, injured or their child is home from school?  Depending on the severity, they might be able to work from home.  As for the users, it's not just a bunch of office employees and road warriors accessing shared files; but it’s also consultants, contractors, telecommuters, partners and customers using home computers and mobile devices to get our job done.  Squeezed in the middle are the IT guys facing the demands of both management and users, along with the ever expanding and evolving security requirements.

SSL VPN has become the mainstream technology of choice for remote access and Infonetics reports that the Worldwide SSL VPN gateway revenue increased 13.9% to $116.8M in 4Q09 and will grow 19% to $138.7M by 4Q10.  Traditionally, corporate VPN controllers have been deployed in-house or in the corporate data center since the needed resources were also located there.  Management and control over that VPN has been critical since it’s the gateway to the corporate network along with much of the sensitive info that resides ‘on-the-inside.’  Plus, *most* VPN controllers are full appliances – dedicated/branded hardware with the vendor’s code baked in.  Finally, the advancement of cloud computing has become an enticing choice for IT departments looking to deploy corporate systems and sensitive resources for user and customer access. 

Enter FirePass SSL VPN Virtual Edition.

fpve blue

A couple weeks ago F5 released FirePass v7, improving SSL VPN functionality, scalability, third-party integration, and offering new flexible deployment options including a virtual appliance.   Virtualization as a technology, has reached a point of widespread adoption and many customers have requested the option of running FirePass as a virtual appliance.  Providing a virtual edition of FirePass allows customers to potentially save money by allowing them add SSL VPN functionality to their existing virtual infrastructure.   With FirePass VE, you get better scalability & flexibility due to the ability of being able to spin up and spin down virtual FirePass instances across the globe, in much the same way we talk about the BIG-IP appliances managing virtualized environments around the world.

FirePass Virtual Edition is the full fledged, full featured FirePass code and currently runs on VMware ESX* and ESXi 4.0*.  It’s vMotion enabled and you can cluster for config-sync, load balance VMs and service providers can have multiple VMs running on one system for a hosted VPN service.  FirePass VE provides flexibility, scalability, context, and control particularly for Small & Medium Enterprises whose budgets might still be tight but need a remote access solution.  It’s also a perfect solution for Enterprises who need a remote access business continuity solution.

*Asterisk alert: If you are like me, and see a little * after something, I immediately drop to the bottom fine print to find the catch.  FirePass VE is sold & supported just like FirePass hardware and is fully supported on the VMware products listed above.  VMware also has a link off their website about the FirePass VE/VMware interoperability.  As with any piece of software, there are minimum hardware and configuration requirements along with recommended VM provisioning but actual performance may vary depending on the target system.  The FirePass v7 VE release notes (logon may be required) does provide the VMware system minimum characteristics.  Just want to properly set expectations, especially with that pesky asterisk.  :-)

And one from Confucius: A man who has committed a mistake and doesn't correct it, is committing another mistake. 



The CloudFucius Series: Intro, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11


Technorati Tags: F5, infrastructure 2.0, integration, cloud connect, Pete Silva, security, business, education, technology, application delivery, cloud, context-aware, infrastructure 2.0, automation, web, internet, blog, vmware, ssl vpn


twitter: @psilvas

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