Aug 21, 2010

Why go with a public cloud?

Private vs. Public Clouds -

There's an ongoing debate about whether companies should embrace the public cloud or invest in a private cloud. I think it's important to set the context by defining in

"The reality of what service to choose comes down to what fits with your company culture. Even though the cloud has its own level of security, a private cloud environment may make more sense for the more conservative enterprise" Forrester's James Staten

Private Cloud - Overview and Advantages
A private cloud is a highly virtualized cloud data centre, often located inside your company's firewall. It may also be a private space dedicated to your company within a cloud vendor data centre, designed to handle your compnay's workloads.

What sets a private cloud apart from a commercially-used public cloud is how the hardware is kept and maintained. Typically, the hardware is hosted and maintained on the company's own servers, within their own network infrastructure.

The main advantage one has with a privately-managed cloud is direct control over every aspect of the cloud’s implementation: the hardware, the networking, the operating system and other software used to create the cloud itself; the way security is implemented; even the APIs used (that is, if you’re using an open source system).

Key Characteristics
  • Provides self-service provisioning of hardware and software srouces
  • supports specific workloads
  • Optimizes the use of computing resources such as servers
  • provides a well-managed environment
  • automates management tasks ans lets you bill business units for services they consume
  • allows It to provisiton services and copte capabillity to internal users in a sel-service manner

Another advantage of a private cloud is that it can generally be built from reasonably current commodity hardware. The most stringent requirements, apart from disk space and memory, are processors that support virtualization -- e.g., the Intel VT-x or AMD’s AMD-V extensions.

Most server-grade hardware, and even a fair amount of desktop-grade hardware, sold in the last few years will sport such features. If the hardware is available and isn’t provisioned for anything -- or is being de-provisioned from other things -- it can be put to use as part of a cloud.

A third advantage is locality. A cloud hosted in your own datacenter, or on your own property, is far easier to move data into (and out of) than a cloud hosting elsewhere. If you have the servers on another floor and want to use a 30GB disk image as part of your cloud setup, it’s easy enough to just walk over there and add the disk to the cloud.

A fourth advantage is security -- that is, up to a point. If you are hosting your own cloud infrastructure on a private LAN, with no connections to the outside world, it’s theoretically a good deal easier to secure. Since it’s your network and your boxes, you can exercise that much more discretion over it. That said, this presumes you have good security protocols in place to begin with:

Sounds a lot like a public cloud - a private cloud exhibits the key characteristics of a public cloud, including elasticity, scalabillity and self-service prvovisioning. The major difference is CONTROL over the enviroment. In a private cloud, the customer controls the service management. (a good analogy would be Internet vs. Intranet).

Aug 17, 2010

The Evolution of Outsourcing

In the next five years outsourcing as we know it will disappear. The legion of Indian service providers will be sidelined or absorbed. U.S. and European companies that pioneered this corner of the high tech industry will suffer similar fates if they don't wake up. Who will emerge as the new leaders? Google (GOOG) and (AMZN), brands that we associate with search and retail, will become better known for outsourcing.

Ludicrous? Not if you follow this industry. Desktop computers yielded to laptops. Web portals AOL (AOL), MSN (MSFT), and Yahoo! (YHOO) are giving way to social media sites Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Software once distributed by disk is now available as apps over the Web—often for less than the cost of a slice of pizza. And so it goes. The same Darwinian process is creating a fresh ecosystem in outsourcing, one that will usher in an era of consolidation and a new way of working with clients.

Traditionally, outsourcing companies sell customers deals that can span a decade and easily run to tens of millions of dollars. The service provider takes on the expensive, time-consuming task of building and operating the digital tools that the customer requires to vanquish the competition, often involving development of custom software to get the job done. To do that, service providers need aisles of powerful computers, armies of programmers, and lots of applications, which are housed either at the client's site or located at a third-party data center that's usually owned and paid for by the client but managed and maintained by the outsourcer. Accenture (ACN) is a good example of the old model

Aug 15, 2010

The Consumerization of IT ??

In many ways, consumerization of IT is the process by which the IT industry is being transformed from its roots as a business tool into primarily a social medium. It's consequences are expected to grow sharply in the future

Symantec conducted a survey and found marked differences in the attitudes and behaviors of millennials compared with other workers towards using Web 2.0 applications and personal devices. Notably, a full 69 percent said that they would “use whatever application/device/technology they want, regardless of source or corporate IT policies.” That’s compared with only 31 percent of employees of other generations.

They were also much more frequent users of social networking and Web-based e-mail at work, and three times as many of the millennials reported that they had downloaded software at work for their personal use. They also regularly store their work data on their personal devices—whether PCs, USB drives, or smartphones.

In discussing the increasing consumerization of IT trend, Forrester likewise picks up on the strong influence of the millennials, but notes that they aren’t alone. They observe that Gen Xers are “asking their IT departments to deliver at work the same consumer applications that they enjoy at home.” But millennials are “even bolder” and “completely eschew conventional productivity tools like email in favor of text messaging and Web 2.0 tools.” Ultimately, Forrester believes that “individual people, not IT organizations, are fueling the next wave of IT adoption.”

So what does this mean for businesses? It means that the influence of consumer technologies on your organization and your workforce is largely unavoidable—and it has some real implications on a number of fronts, including security and employee satisfaction. Ultimately, as Gartner puts it, this will be “the single most influential trend affecting the technology sector in the coming decade, but the effects are more subtle and broad-reaching than most observers originally imagined, and we have reached a tipping point.”

Aug 13, 2010

Mike Parker - On Nike

Great article on the CEO of Nike, in fast company.

I was struck by his humility and focus on Nike's business priorities.

At the end of the article, he references his choice for Nike's mission statement ""To bring inno-vation and inspiration to every athlete in the world".

Two other noteworthy quotes - which I feel are pretty inspirational.

"If you have a body, you're an athlete" and one of Nike's 9 key maxims - "Be a sponge. Curiosity is life. Assumption is death. Look around."

Just something to thing about ....

Aug 12, 2010

Windows Azure

Microsoft's Windows Azure Platform is a cloud platform offering that "provides a wide range of Internet services that can be consumed from both on-premises environments or the Internet"[1] (though the platform itself is not made available for on-premises deployments[2]). It is Microsoft's first step into cloud computing following the launch of the Microsoft Online Services offering. In short, it's Microsoft's platform as a service.

The Windows Azure platform uses a specialized operating system, called Windows Azure, to run its "fabric layer" — a cluster hosted at Microsoft's datacenters that manages computing and storage resources of the computers and provisions the resources (or a subset of them) to applications running on top of Windows Azure.

Windows Azure has been described as a "cloud layer" on top of a number of Windows Server systems, which use Windows Server 2008 and a customized version of Hyper-V[5], known as the Windows Azure Hypervisor[6] to provide virtualization of services

Aug 7, 2010

Earlier this week, the NPD group reported that Android has hit the top spot in U.S. smartphone market. "Android operating system accounted for 33 percent of all smartphones sold in the U.S. consumer market. That number pushed it ahead of Research In Motion with 28 percent and Apple with 22 percent".