I Love the Cloud: My Never-Ending Journey with the AWS
[GUEST POST] I started exploring the cloud computing world around 5 years ago, and I must admit that my initial understanding of the cloud was a disaster. At first, it was difficult to find a comprehensive definition, but I finally settled on one from the National Institute of Standards &...Read more

imageLast month I attended HP Discover (disclosure: my participation was funded by Ivy World). The IT war already started however HP stands still not taking initiatives and real risks as true leaders should take. At the three-day conference I learned why some companies don’t last and why this IT giant is at a great risk of losing in this new era IT battle. This is a story of a lasting company that might have already lost.

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imageI believe that this is the year when the enterprise will find its way to the cloud.

The mega Internet sites and applications are the new era enterprises. These will become the role models for the traditional enterprise. IT needs remain the same with regards to scale, security, SLA, etc. However, the traditional enterprise CIO has already set the goal for next year: 100% efficiency.

The traditional CIO understands that in order to achieve that goal, IT will need to start and do cloud, make sure that IT resources are utilized right, and that his teams move fast.

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Every day I talk, write and comment about the “Cloud”. Every time I mention the cloud I try to make sure that I add the name of the relevant cloud operator, “Rackspace Cloud, “MS Cloud” (Azure) or “HP Cloud”. Somehow all of these cloud titles don’t right to me – it seems the only title that really works for me is the “Amazon Cloud”. In this post, I will elaborate about the competition in the IaaS market and I will explain further why I think this is so.

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cloud-connectLast week I attended one of the most popular cloud technology conferences in the world – CloudConnect. The CloudConnect conference started about four years ago. Attending the event gave me a clear understanding of the market maturity and evolution rhythm. Check out the following sections for the main points on what I heard and learned:

Cloud Performance

The underlying infrastructure performance, round trip time, bandwidth, caching and rendering are to be counted as the major features of an online service performance. In an interesting presentation by @joeweinman (known by his famous “Cloudonomics” theory), it was claimed that latency holds the greatest weight among these faetures. I encourage you to check out his new research – As Time Goes By: The Law of Cloud Response Time presents some good formulas, methods and considerations with regards to online services’ performance and latency (including simple facts, for example, that people tend to prefer selecting from fewer options on an online page –  so you can have less content on a page and achieve a better browsing performance).

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On a vacation you often find that the best way to enjoy is to try and disconnect from the regular working day routine. Part of my blogging tasks include searching for knowledge resources and publishing news and articles to my followers. I maintain communication with my readers using social communication means such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Setting that in semi-automated state with twaitter (so I can spend my time with my lovely wife and not with my iPad …) brought me to imagine a living, breathing independent cloud creature that “feeds” itself with information.

Think out of the box and try to imagine the possibility that these lines were written by a smart algorithm utilizing the clouds and their enormous amount of information and logic. Imagine that humans don’t have keyboards but only screens to view what the “intelligent cloud creature” generates using smart BI algorithms running on a complex extremely wide integration. As we speak this integration is sprawling; basic logic routines and cross systems flows developed by humans as well as by machines.

The question “what I would like to eat for lunch ?” can be based on enormous amount of considerations such as who you are, who is connected to you, what you have already eaten today and how it fits with your diet, as well as what your best friend would like to eat because he can join you today while visiting nearby. All of these answers and more are already out there. The enormous growth in the number and the size of apps’ eco-systems, Big Data and the robust physical computing capabilities of the cloud leads to a form of intensive information calculation that can generate accurate intelligent results in an adaptive manner.

Traditional IT systems and logic were confined within their on-premise domain of variables. Collaboration wasn’t really an option and integration was (and still is) always a painful point with respect to huge investments and high risks. API deveopment task was one of the last things on the ISV priorities list. Today things can be different thanks to these clouds. The cloud accelerates the extension of eco-systems and can makes this fantasy a reality. I believe that we are heading straight into a second, even more exciting information technology revolution.

“Ask Siri to do things just by talking the way you talk. Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back. Siri is so easy to use and does so much, you’ll keep finding more and more ways to use it.”

The first time I checked this IPA (Intelligent Personal Assistant) agent was about less than two years ago. I was fascinated by the fact that besides the voice recognition and ease of use, Siri aims to generate its own intelligence using its great eco-system environment to generate suggestions and solve problems in a proactive and self-improvement manner. Eventually, I wasn’t surprised to hear that the most innovative company in the world integrated the solution inside its leading product operating system (I am just waiting for them to stop playing around and release it as part of the iOS, not only for the 4S version).

Another noteworthy example is Boomi. The company that was bought by Dell a year ago is a growing business for out-of-the-box “connectors” (the term they use for their integration widgets) platform. 

“Remember Data Integration is the key to the cloudy future. By having Boomi in its pocket, Dell is well positioned to handle these needs” wrote the cloud evangelist Krishnan Subramanian, in his article Quick Thoughts: Dell Acquires Boomi

I had a great discussion with Rick Nucci, Founder and CTO of Boomi regarding the company’s positioning and its strategy to become the heart of the enterprise business flow. The company’s offering enables the IT Organization to generate a full solution assembled from several systems. The company develops a platform that enables rapid provisioning of “connectors” that enable systems. 

“AtomSphere connects providers and customers of SaaS, cloud and on-premise applications via a pure SaaS integration platform that does not require software or appliances. .. Leading SaaS players and enterprise customers such as salesforce.com, NetSuite, RightNow, Marketo, Taleo, Zuora, Coupa, NASDAQ” Read more on Boomi’s site

Utilizing the cloud the company is able to host and maintain all of its customers’ connectors in its own cloud environment. The company takes responsibility for the connectors’ compatibly and provision them as a SaaS with a SLA. The traditional integration maintenance hassle becomes a small issue. SaaS start-ups are focusing on solving a specific problem and by so doing will not be able to solve a complete business flow. I believe that vendors such as Boomi can be positioned on top of the cloud food chain (I love that term – I encourage you to use it and comment what do you think about it), even before some of the above SaaS providers.

Traditional ISV must take action in regards to its eco-systems, both those it owns and those it participates in. Traditional ISVs have vast experience and owns data and logic that can be utilized by the new and agile SaaS developer. The ISV can leverage this experience in the cloud and take strategic steps to increase its public interface services to extend its eco-system and generate additional revenue stream. 

> > > > > Back to Reality

Without the crowd input, the user collaboration and the contribution of the fast running web developer the cloud content, systems integration and eco-system can not evolve and grow. The next IT revolution combined from the connected world and big data is just outside knocking on our door and it lies on top of a rapid pace of cloud innovations and evolution.

> > > Don’t forget to comment – What are the layers of the “cloud food chain” ? < < <

Last week I was invited to the HP Tech Day in HP’s campus in Houston to learn and hear more about the giant’s cloud offering. I appreciate HP and Ivy very much for the invitation and for a great event where I was able to learn more and see these clouds in real. I had the privilege to meet savvy and professional guys. It is always great to see people who are enthusiastic on their jobs and are proud of their company. Let me share with you HP’s cloud from my point of view.

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iCloud provides the ability to share applications, videos, music, data, and other resources among Apple devices and consume those from the cloud. One account covers as many as 10 devices (including iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch, etc.) It handles contacts, calendars, emails, music, e-books, e-magazines, documents, photos, and apps. If you make a change or purchase on one device, then all your devices will have it. Have all your key data backed up automatically as well. Apple basically becomes your core cloud services provider, offering the synchronization and storage of those files and resources that matter most to you as an individual.

> > > > My iPhone:  a Story of an Infinite Storage

 We’ve had clouds at home for some time now, such as the use of SaaS services like those provided by Google. However, iCloud is certainly an IaaS-oriented service, and the ability to use a mass-marketed IaaS cloud is new. David Linthicum claims the term  “Home Clouds” 

I use iPhone for more than 3 years and I love working with this device. When I bought my iPhone 3G (which I accidently dropped in to the toilet after three months, but nevertheless lived for a year more afterwards… amazing, isn’t it?!) and my lovely iPhone 4, I never picked the one with the biggest storage.

I never understood why I need to pay on storage for my pictures when I find them on Facebook or on Picasa using their iPhone apps. I also store and watch my clips on YouTube and my documents using Dropbox, so in fact I already use my iPhone as a cloud device. The iCloud’s benefits which I can think of are sharing playlists and apps among several devices. In my humble opinion, those benefits don’t really matter in comparison with the powerful increase of customers’ lock-in on Apple’s services. I still can’t see utterly remarkable benefits that will induce me to move my stuff into the iCloud and become a loyal Apple resident.

> > > > Browsing throughout the cloud

“Next time you want to access a cloud based service and have to type in the URL, stop and think how seamless this approach actually is! I look forward to seeing how iCloud develops and the impact/influence it will have on other companies and their Cloud Computing products.

A nice article I read talks about how iCloud will change the way of browsing throughout the cloud, hence not by the web browser but the application itself browses and uses the cloud seamlessly for the end user. Interesting, but this browsing approach has been around for some time now. A lot of mobile applications use the vendors’ cloud to retrieve data and sometimes you will find that those applications are actually pure websites.

Discussing end consumer’s cloud services, we must mention Google Chrome OS. I find that this can be the real revolution for the “Home Cloud” but indeed it will take time for people to adopt. Google and other “Web OS” vendors will need to be patient and learn how to deliver properly. I believe that the web browser will continue to evolve, to be better user friendly and will eventually replace the old fashion OS. I invite you to check I Am OnDemand Magazine to read ZDNet article on Philosophical differences: The Google cloud vs. the Apple cloud.

> > > >    MHO

“We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device,” CEO Steve Jobs said.

Are those breaking news? I’m not really sure. Together with its cool “iname”, the best thing I see about the iCloud is the announcement that serves right the “cloud ibuzz” and the increasing awareness about cloud computing. No doubt that everyone know now that the clouds are not only up in the sky but also inside their computing devices.