Posts Tagged ‘ Nubifer ’

Cloud Computing’s Varying Forms of Functionality

Although everyone associated with the industry is likely familiar with the term cloud computing, what remains ambiguous are its offerings, both now and in the future. The benefits of cloud computing can essentially be classified into as many as five categories, the majority of which are discussed in the paragraphs to follow.

The Internet allows for you to market your brand internationally, whether you are a SMB or a multi-national organization. It also enables organizations to reach out and offer their products/services to an international audience, and the ability to combine data/applications with the ability to use remote computing resources thus creating exciting new opportunities.

Take the latest and greatest mobile app, for example. This new application has the ability to travel anywhere the user is, whether they are surfing on their TV, phone, or laptop. A tremendous amount of information has to be transferred online and shared with several services in order for that application to operate seamlessly, while guaranteeing privacy and security.

Cloud computing offers more than the storing of data off-site and allowing access through their browser. Cloud computing also has the ability to adapt and scale its services to fit each users’ needs through intelligent algorithms. The basic usage of the cloud results in a more personalized experience, as the platform acquires greater familiarity about the intents of the user. In turn, this allows users to effectively use smart services, acquire better information so they can take action wherever they happen to be.

We as human beings are social entities. We naturally and instinctively interact with those around us. In the past, communication was done by telegraph, letters, telephone and faxes, but it is now largely through the Internet. The Internet has created a plethora of communication opportunities, such as instant messaging, Internet telephony and social media. Cloud computing expands on this concept and offers the opportunity to make it possible to incorporate interaction and collaboration capabilities into areas that were seemingly beyond our reach previously.

Due to this progression of the common-place, our expectations become higher and higher over time. At some point in our past it was unthinkable for a cellular phone to be able to surf the net, and provide driving directions. But today, not only do we expect our mobile phone to give us the Internet at our fingertips, but also we expect it to guide us where we need to go.

Because of these expanding expectations, the cloud must be intelligent as well. There will be corresponding pressure for devices to catch up to cloud computing as it becomes increasingly intelligent and more intuitive.

Hand-held devices are great examples of this. Smart phones have a multitude of functions in additions to communications, such as GPS, voice recorder, camera, fame device, calculator and the list goes on. If a phone is paired with an operating system like Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, it becomes a smart device capable of using cloud services to their full capabilities.

Because the cloud is built upon the capabilities of servers, it is appropriate to imagine large data centers when thinking of cloud computing. This means that server technology must advance as the cloud does—but there is a catch. Cloud services will become more powerful as a server software does. In this way, server and cloud improvements mutually drive each other, and the user greatly benefits from this, whether the user is an individual, organization or company.

Once we tap into cloud computing fully, web sites will no longer crash because of surges in traffic—the cloud will accommodate to computing activity peaks accordingly.

For more information about the form and functionality of the cloud, visit Nubifer.com.

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Gartner Discovers 10% of IT Budgets Devoted to Cloud Computing

A recent survey conducted by Gartner reports that companies spend approximately 10 percent of their budget for external IT services on cloud computing research, migrations and implementations.

Gartner conducted the survey from April to July 2010, surveying CIOs across 40 countries, discovering that nearly 40% of respondents allocated IT budget to cloud computing. Almost 45% of the CIOs and other senior IT decision makers questioned about general IT spending trends provided answers pertaining to cloud computing and its increased adoption rates.

Among the questions asked were how organizations’ budgets for cloud computing were distributed. Detailing the results, a Research Director at Gartner noted that, “One-third of the spending on cloud computing is a continuation from the previous budget year, a further third is incremental spending that is new to the budget, and 14 percent is spending that was diverted from a different budget category in the previous year.”

Organizations polled in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and North America spent between 40 and 50 percent of their cloud budget on cloud services from external providers. The survey also discovered that almost half of respondents with a cloud computing budget planned to ramp up the use of cloud services from external platform providers.

According to Gartner analysts, the survey results demonstrated a “shift towards the ‘utility’ approach for non-core services, and increased investment in core functionality, often closely aligned with competitive differentiation.”

Additionally, more than 40% of respondents anticipated an increase in spending in private cloud implementations designed for internal or restricted use of the enterprise, compared to a third of those polled seeking to implement public clouds.

Gartner called the investment trends for cloud computing as “healthy” as a whole. Said Gartner, “This is yet another trend that indicates a shift in spending from traditional IT assets such as the data-center assets and a move towards assets that are accessed in the cloud. It is bad news for technology providers and IT service firms that are not investing and gearing up to deliver these new services seeing an increased demand by buyers.”

Discussing the findings, Chad Collins, CEO of Nubifer Cloud Computing said, “This survey supports what we are seeing at ground zero when working with our enterprise clients. Company executives are asking themselves why they should continue with business as usual, doling out up-front cap/ex investments while supporting all the risks associated with large scale IT implementations.” Collins elaborates, “Cloud platforms allow these organizations to eliminate risks and upfront investments while gaining greater interoperability and scalability features.”

Collins went on to add, “Forward thinking organizations realize that by using external providers and cloud computing models, they can gain more flexibility in their cost and management of thier application base, while also getting the elasticity and scalability needed for growth.”

To learn more about adopting a cloud platform and how your organization can realize the benefits of cloud computing technologies, contact a Nubifer representative today.

Protecting Data in the Cloud

When it comes to cloud computing, one of the major concerns is protecting the data being stored in the cloud. IT departments often lack the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions regarding the identification of sensitive data—which can cost an enterprise millions of dollars in legal costs and lost revenue.

The battle between encryption and tokenization was explored in a recent technology report, and the merits of both are being considered as securing data in the cloud becomes more and more important. Although the debate over which solution is best continues, it is ultimately good news that protection in cloud computing is available in the first place.

It is essential that data is secure while in storage or in transit (both inherent in cloud computing) in the current business climate; the protection is necessary whether dealing with retail processing, accessing personal medical records or managing government information and financial activity. It is necessary to implement the correct security measure to protect sensitive information.

So what is tokenization? Tokenization is the process in which sensitive data is segmented into one or more pieces and replaced with non-sensitive values, or tokens, and the original data is stored encrypted elsewhere. When clients need access to the sensitive data, they typically provide the token along with authentication credentials to a service that then validates the credentials, decrypts the secure data, and provides it back to the client. Even though encryption is used, the client is never involved in either the encryption or decryption process so encryption keys are never exchanged outside the token service. Tokens protect information like medical records, social security numbers, financial transactions, etc prevent unauthorized access.

Encryption, on the other hand, is the process of changing the information using an algorithm to ensure it is unreadable to anyone expect those who possess a key or special knowledge. The military and government have been using this method for some time to make sure that their sensitive information remains in the hands of the right people and organizations.

Tokenization and encryption can be applied when using cloud computing to protect the information is used in the cloud. For organizations seeking to determine which method is a better fit for them, it is necessary to ask questions about the security of the method and whether one has more pros than the others. It is necessary in this case to clearly define the objectives of the business process as well.

A clear method of protecting information is essential if cloud computing is posing benefits for the enterprise. Conversely, this can also be an obstacle to launching a cloud computing strategy. Gartner reports that 85 percent of participants cited security as a key factor that could prevent them from launching cloud-based apps.

In conclusion, there is no clear winner in the debate over tokenization versus encryption. Rather, it depends on the goals of the business and how the company plans to manage the security of their sensitive information. The data needs to be protected in a way that is easily manageable when launching a cloud computing strategy—and it is only at this point that cloud computing can be both successful and secure. For more information regarding securing data int eh cloud via tokenization, contact a Nubifer representative today.

Zoho Creator Adds Reporting & Scheduler Modules

Zoho Corp., a leader in Software as a Service business applications, announced Wednesday October 6th that their ‘Zoho Creator’ offering now allows users to create situational applications. Over the past few years, Zoho has had over 300,000 apps created on this platform, and as Zoho Creator evolves as a leading work-flow engine, they are introducing two key modules to Zoho Creator – Reports & Schedules.

Zoho offers SaaS applications and provides a wide, integrated portfolio of rich online applications for businesses. With more than 20 different applications spanning Collaboration, Business and Productivity, Zoho helps businesses and organizations get work done. Zoho’s applications are delivered via the Internet, requiring nothing but a browser, enabling organizations to focus on their business while leveraging Zoho in order to maintain the servers and keep data safe.

Reports Module
Zoho is introducing a powerful business intelligence module in Zoho Reports that lets users create different types of reports and pivot tables.This Reporting module is now integrated into Zoho Creator allowing users to analyze the data they have in their application. Users are now able to:

  • Create dynamic reports based on the data contained in their Creator app
  • Generate Pivot Tables (including multi-level pivots) with a range of options
  • Filter & Sort data with a report builder interface
  • Embed & Share reports with team members or by embedding them on a website

Scheduler Module
The newly introduced scheduler module lets users create and schedule automated tasks. These tasks can be triggered by user input or at pre-set times and/or dates. There are three general schedule types:

  • Form Schedules, which lets users configure actions to be executed based on any date/date time field in a form
  • Report Schedules lets users schedule periodic reports of data that has been added to their application
  • Custom Schedule give users the power to create and execute their own scripts

Reports Pricing

  • Two reports are available for free users and paid users with ‘Basic’ and ‘Standard’ plans.
  • Unlimited Reports are available for Paid users (Professional plans and above)

Scheduler Pricing

  • Scheduler module is available for all paid users. It includes 31 schedulers.
  • A 15 day trial version is available for free users.

These two modules are available for use now and are readily available at http://www.zoho.com.  For more information on Zoho’s suite of SaaS applications, and migration best practices please contact a Nubifer representative today. www.Nubifer.com -or- (800) 293 4496.

Developing Cloud Applications: Pattern Usage and Workload Modeling

For enterprise companies today, the process of determining one or more common application usage profiles for use in cloud platform performance testing is known as ‘application workload modeling’. Cloud application workload modeling can be accomplished in a myriad of ways, and is a critical piece to properly planning, developing and implementing successful cloud solution technologies.

Some General Best Practices when Developing Cloud Applications.

  • Understand your application usage patterns. New business processes are prime candidates for building out such apps. Silo-ed departmental initiatives often evolve into organizational best practices that get adopted by the entire enterprise, and because most of the programs are developed organically from the ground up, they can leverage the interoperability of the cloud and be scaled depending on demand. This also allows the app to be discontinued with minimal cost if the initiative isn’t deemed efficient or necessary to the organization.

  • Develop and Deploy Your Application. Creating a plan and sequence of key metric drivers help you keep your cloud deployment efforts on track. Start small, grow fast is a common mantra of many start-ups (including ours), the overwhelming majority of which are intimidated by the significant cost of on-premise infrastructure.
  1. Define and Identify the objectives
  2. Document and Identify primary usage scenarios
  3. Develop and Determine navigation paths for key scenarios
  4. Design and Determine individual user data and variances
  5. Determine the likely-hood of such scenarios
  6. Identify peak target load levels
  7. Prepare and Deploy the new cloud solution
  • Monitor Spiked Usage Patterns for “Common Utility Apps”. Within every organization, large or small, there’s at least one program or application that receives spiked usage during a certain time of the year, quarter or month. One example of this pattern is related to corporate tax software, as this app is lightly used for many months, but becomes a highly leveraged application during the end of the fiscal year tax calculation process. Another example is Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) and the periodic need for employees to subscribe to new company health plans, insurance plans, etc. Other examples include e-commerce websites like Ebay and Buy.com which experience this “peak load” requirement during holiday or special sales seasons.

The common thread across all of these types of “on-demand” cloud apps is that their usage rate is relatively standard or predictable most of the time, but become the most demanded of resources periodically. Utilizing a scalable cloud solution approach in this manner enables greater cost savings and ensures high availability of your enterprise business systems.

Application Load and Scalability, and Dynamically Reacting to Peak Load

As it is most often associated with consumer-facing web apps, unpredictable load occurs when an inordinate amount of traffic is directed toward your site, and the app is subsequently unable to meet this demand—causing the entire website to return a load error message. Nubifer has noticed sudden spikes in traffic when organizations launch fresh marketing campaigns, or receive extensive back-linking from prominent authority sites. Apps and sites eminently susceptible to these load spikes are ideal candidates for the cloud, and the most prominent advantage of this methodolgy is the auto-scale or on-demand capability.

Monitoring, a Primary Key to Any Successful Cloud Deployment

Your cloud platform monitors the patterns of Internet traffic and the utilization of the infrastructure, adding additional server resources if the traffic crosses your preset threshold. The extra servers that are added can be safely deactivated once the traffic subsides and the environment isn’t so demanding. This creates an extremely cost-efficient use case for leveraging a cloud platform for app and site hosting.

To the contrary of unpredictable load occurrences, e-commerce sites commonly experience predictable spikes in traffic. For instance, when Amazon launches pre-ordering for the next novel for Oprah’s book club, they prepare their infrastructure to handle these peak loads. Organizations of this size typically have a ballpark budget figure of the infrastructure cost because of its inherent predictability. There are many occurrences in the public sector that experience predictable bursts as well, such as electoral results and the examination of the latest census reports.

Understanding Application Usage Pattern Trends

Within your business, these patterns are manifested during a virtual company meeting or initiation of a compulsory online training for all employees, but the primary difference between this pattern of usage and the first is that there may not be a periodic recurrence of this particular pattern or spike in resource demand.

It’s paramount that your IT personnel remain cognizant of these peak load times, whether they are predictable or not, as this is a key element for effectively leveraging a cloud solution that offers support and business intelligence data regarding peak load and latency issues.

How We Have Evolved to Solve for Peak Load and Usage Monitoring

Nubifer has solved these business scenarios by developing a robust set of tools and monitoring applications for private and public clouds, named Nubifer Cloud:Link. To learn more about Cloud:Link and Nubifer’s approach to enterprise cloud monitoring visit CloudLink.pro

Google Apps Receives Federal Certification for Cloud Computing

On July 26, Google released a version of its hosted suite of applications that meets the primary federal IT security certification, making a major leap forward in its push to drive cloud computing in the government. Nearly one year in the making, Google announces its new edition of Google Apps as the first portfolio of cloud applications to have received certification under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).

The government version of Google Apps has the same pricing and services as the premier edition, including Gmail, the Docs productivity site and the Talk instant-messaging application.

Google Business Development Executive David Mihalchik said to reporters, “We see the FISMA certification in the federal government environment as really the green light for federal agencies to move forward with the adoption of cloud computing for Google Apps.”

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra announced a broad initiative to embrace the cloud across the federal government last September, as a way to reduce both costs and inefficiencies of redundant and underused IT deployments. The launch of that campaign was accompanied by the launch of Apps.gov. An online storefront for vendors to showcase their cloud-based services for federal IT manager, Apps.gov was revealed at an event at NASA’s Ames Research Center and attended by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. At the same time, Google announced plans to develop a version of its popular cloud-based services that  would meet the federal-government sector’s security requirements.

Mike Bradshaw, director of Google’s Federal Division, said, “We’re excited about this announcement and the benefits that cloud computing can bring to this market.” Bradshaw continued to say that “the President’s budget has identified the adoption of cloud computing in the federal government as a way to more efficiently use the billions of dollars spent on IT annually.” Bradshaw added that the government spends $45 million in electrical costs alone to run its data-centers and servers.

Security concerns are consistently cited by proponents of modernizing the deferral IT apparatus as the largest barrier to the adoption of cloud computing. Google is including extra security features to make federal IT buyers at agencies with more stringent security requirements feel more at ease. These extra security features are in addition to the 1,500 pages of documentation that came with Google’s FISMA certification.

Google will store government cloud accounts on dedicated servers within its data centers that will be segregated from its equipment that houses consumer and business data. Additionally, Google has committed to only use servers located in the continental U.S. for government cloud accounts. Google’s premier edition commercial customers have their data stored on servers in both the U.S. and European Union.

Mihalchik explained that security was the leading priority from the get-go in developing Google Apps for Government saying, “We set out to send a signal to government customers that the cloud is ready for government.” Adding, “today we’ve done that with the FISMA certification, and also going beyond FISMA to meet some of the other specific security requirements of government customers.”

Thus far, Google has won government customers at state and local levels such as in the cities of Los Angeles, California and Orlando, Florida. Mihalchik said that over one dozen federal agencies are in various stages of trialing or deploying elements of Google apps. Mihalchik states that several agencies are using Google anti-spam and anti-virus products to filter their email. Others, like the Department of Energy, are running pilot programs to evaluate the full suite of Google Apps in comparison with competitors’ offerings.

Find out more about cloud security and FISMA certification of Google Apps by talking to a Nubifer Consultant today.

Nubifer Cloud:Link Mobile and Why Windows Phone 7 is Worth the Wait

Sure, Android devices become more cutting-edge with each near-monthly release and Apple recently unveiled its new iPhone, but some industry experts suggest that Windows Phone 7 is worth the wait. Additionally, businesses may benefit from waiting until Windows Phone 7 arrives to properly compare the benefits and drawbacks of all three platforms before making a decision.

Everyone is buzzing about the next-generation iPhone and smartphones like the HTC Incredible and HTC EVO 4G, but iPhone and Android aren’t even the top smart phone platforms. With more market share than second place Apple and third place Microsoft combined, RIM remains the number one smartphone platform. Despite significant gains since its launch, Android is in fourth place, with only 60 percent as much market share as Microsoft.

So what gives? In two words: the business market. While iPhone was revolutionary for merging the line between consumer gadget and business tool, RIM has established itself as synonymous with mobile business communications. Apple and Google don’t provide infrastructure integration or management tools comparable to those available with the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES).

The continued divide between consumer and business is highlighted by the fact that Microsoft is still in third place with 15 percent market share. Apple and Google continue to leapfrog one another while RIM and Microsoft are waiting to make their move.

The long delay in new smartphone technology from Microsoft is the result of leadership shakeups and the fact that Microsoft completely reinvented its mobile strategy, starting from scratch. Windows Phone 7 isn’t merely an incremental evolution of Windows Mobile 6.5. Rather, Microsoft went back to the drawing board to create an entirely new OS platform that recognizes the difference between a desktop PC and a smartphone as opposed to assuming that the smartphone is a scaled-down Windows PC.

Slated to arrive later this year, Windows 7 smartphones promise an attractive combination of the intuitive touch interface and experience found in the iPhone and Android, as well as the integration and native apps to tie in with the Microsoft server infrastructure that comprises the backbone of most customers network and communications architecture.

With that said, the Windows Phone 7 platform won’t be without its own set of issues. Like Apple’s iPhone, Windows Phone 7 is expected to lack true multitasking and the copy and paste functionality from the get-go. Additionally, Microsoft is also locking down the environment with hardware and software restrictions that limit how smartphone manufacturers can customize the devices, and doing away with all backward compatibility with existing Windows Mobile hardware and apps.

As a mobile computing platform, Cloud Computing today touches many devices and end points. From Application Servers to Desktops and of course the burgeoning ecosystem of smart phone devices. When studying the landscapes and plethora of cell phone operating systems, and technology capabilities of the smart phones, you start to see a whole new and exciting layer of technology for consumers and business people alike.

Given the rich capabilities of Windows Phone 7 offering Silverlight, and/or XNA technology, we at Nubifer have become compelled to engineer the upgrades to our cloud services to inter-operate with the powerful new upcoming technologies offered by Windows Phone 7. At Nubifer, we plan to deploy and inter-operate with many popular smart phones and hand-set devices by way of linking these devices to our Nubifer Cloud:Link technology and offering extended functionality delivered by Nubifer Cloud:Connector and Cloud:Portal which enable enterprise companies to gain a deeper view into the analytics and human computer interaction of end users and subscribers of various owned and leased software systems hosted entirely in the cloud or by way of the hybrid model.

It makes sense for companies that don’t need to replace their smartphones at once to wait for Windows Phone 7 to arrive, at which point all three platforms and be compared and contrasted. May the best smartphone win!