Posts Tagged ‘ Platform-as-a-Service ’

Cloud Computing in 2012 (continued) – Shared Resources in the Cloud

A primary characteristic of cloud computing is that the platform leverages pooled or shared assets. These computing resources can be bought, controlled externally, and used for public or private usage. As we look further into the validity of these shared computing resources, one can easily see that they are an integral component to any public or private cloud platform.

Take, for example, a business website. We begin to see standard options commonly available in today’s market. Shared hosting, is one of the choices companies have had for quite some time now. The shared approach leads them to be free from managing their own data center, and in turn, leverage a third party. Most of the time, managed hosting services lease out to their customers a dedicated server which is not the shared with other users.

Based solely on this, cloud computing looks a lot like a shared hosting model of managed services. This is due to the fact that the cloud platform provider is the third-party that manages, operates and owns the physical computing hardware and software resources which are distributed and shared. At this juncture in the paradigm is where the similarities between shared or dedicated hosting and cloud computing end.

With cloud computing set aside for a moment, the move away from IT departments utilizing self hosted resources and using outsourced IT services  has been evolving for years. This change has substantial economic impacts. Two of the main areas of change are in CAPEX and OPEX. This furthers the potential opportunity for reducing OPEX in conjunction with operating the hardware and software infrastructure. The change from CAPEX toward OPEX defines a lowering of the barrier for entry when starting a new project.

When examining self hosting, companies are required to allocate funding to be spent up front for licenses and hardware purchases. Operating under fixed costs, it is an out-of-pocket expense in the beginning of that project. Furthermore, when leveraging and outsourced offering (a.k.a. managed hosting), the upfront fees can typically be equal to a one-month start-up operational cost, and possibly a set up fee. When analyzed from a financial perspective, the annual cost is close to the same, or just a little bit lower, than the CAPEX expense for an equal project. Additionally, this can be offset by the reduction of required OPEX to manage and care for the infrastructure.

In stark comparison, when analyzing the cloud model, it is standard to see no up-front fees. With closer examination, a subscriber to cloud services can register, purchase, and be leveraging the services in much less time than it takes to read this blog.

The dramatic differential comparisons in financial expenditures you might see between these hosting models, and the cloud model, exist because the cost structures when utilizing cloud infrastructures are drastically more attractive than earlier models offered to IT.  With further investigation, it’s clear the economies of scale are multi-faceted, and driven by relation to the economics of volume. The largest cloud platform providers are able to offer a better price point to the IT consumers because they are able to bulk purchase, and offer better goods and services; which in this paradigm, are capacity, power, data storage, and compute processing power.

And so continues our 2012 blog series dedicated to understanding the core layers of cloud computing. Our next blog will focus on elasticity in cloud computing. Please check back often, or subscribe to our blog to stay up-to-date on the latest posts and perspectives and news about cloud computing. For more information about Nubifer Cloud Computing visit www.NUBIFER.com

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Fujitsu to Deliver First Windows Azure Appliance This Summer

The “private cloud” Windows Azure appliances that Microsoft announced a year ago are here. There’s an August, 2011 ship date slated for the first of them.

Fujitsu, one of three OEMs that announced initial support for the Azure Appliance concept, is going to deliver its first Azure Appliance in August 2011, Fujitsu and Microsoft announced on June 7. Fujitsu’s offering is known as the Fujitsu Fujitsu Global Cloud Platform, FGCP/A5, and will be running in Fujitsu’s datacenter in Japan. Fujitsu has been running a trial of the service since April 21, 2011, with 20 companies, according to the press release.

Microsoft officials had no further updates on the whereabouts of appliances from Dell or Hewlett-Packard. Originally, Microsoft told customers to expect Azure Appliances to be in production and available for sale by the end of 2010.

Windows Azure Appliances, as initially described, were designed to be pre-configured containers with between hundreds and thousands of servers running the Windows Azure platform. These containers will be housed, at first, at Dell’s, HP’s and Fujitsu’s datacenters, with Microsoft providing the Azure infrastructure and services for these containers.

In the longer term, Microsoft officials said they expected some large enterprises, like eBay, to house the containers in their own data-centers on site — in other words, to run their own “customer-hosted clouds.” Over time, smaller service providers also will be authorized to make Azure Appliances available to their customers as well.

Fujitsu’s goal with the new Azure-based offering is to sign up 400 enterprise companies, plus 5,000 small/medium enterprise customers and ISVs, in the five-year period following launch, a recent Fujitsu press release noted.

For more information regarding the Azure Appliances, and how they can provide you with a turn-key private cloud solution, visit Nubifer.com/azure.

Start Me Up….Cloud Tools Help Companies Accelerate the Adoption of Cloud Computing

Article reposted form HPC in the Cloud Online Magazine. Article originally posted on Nov. 29 2010:

For decision makers looking to maximize their impact on the business, cloud computing offers a myriad of benefits. At a time when cloud computing is still being defined, companies are actively researching how to take advantage of these new technology innovations for business automation, infrastructure reduction, and strategic utility based software solutions.

When leveraging “the cloud”, organizations can have on-demand access to a pool of computing resources that can instantly scale as demands change. This means IT — or even business users — can start new projects with minimal effort or interaction and only pay for the amount of IT resources they end up using.

The most basic division in cloud computing is between private and public clouds. Private clouds operate either within an organization’s DMZ or as managed compute resources operated for the client’s sole use by a third-party platform provider. Public clouds let multiple users segment resources from a collection of data-centers in order to satisfy their business needs. Resources readily available from the Cloud include:

● Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): Provides users with business applications run off-site by an application provider. Security patches, upgrades and performance enhancements are the application provider’s responsibility.

● Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): Platform providers offer a development environment with tools to aide programmers in creating new or updated applications, without having to own the software or servers.

● Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): Offers processing power, storage and bandwidth as utility services, similar to an electric utility model. The advantage is greater flexibility, scalability and interoperability with an organization’s legacy systems.

Many Platforms and Services to Choose From:

Cloud computing is still in its infancy, with a host of platform and application providers serving up a plethora of Internet-based services ranging from scalable on-demand  applications to data storage services to spam filtering. In this current IT environment, organizations’ technology ecosystem have to operate cloud-based services individually, but cloud integration specialists and ISVs (integrated software vendors) are becoming more prevalent and readily available to build on top of the emerging and powerful platforms.

Mashing together services provided by the worlds largest and best funded companies like Microsoft, Google, Salesforce.com, Rackspace, Oracle, IBM, HP and many others, gives way to an opportunity for companies to take hold and innovate, and build a competitive, cost saving cloud of their own on the backs of these software giant’s evolving view of the cloud.

Cloud computing comes into focus only when you think about what IT always needs: a way to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, licensing and maintenance of new software. Cloud computing involves all subscription-centric or pay-for-what-you-use service that extends your IT environments existing capabilities.

Before deciding whether an application is destined for the cloud, analyze you current cost of ownership. Examine more than just the original licenses and cost of ownership; factor in ongoing expenses for maintenance, power, personnel and facilities. To start, many organizations build an internal private cloud for application development and testing, and decide from their if it is cost-effective to scale fully into a public cloud environment.

“Bridging the Whitespace” between Cloud Applications

One company, Nubifer.com (which in Latin, translates to ‘bringing the clouds’) approaches simplifying the move to the Cloud for its enterprise clients by leveraging a proprietary set of Cloud tools named Nubifer Cloud:Portal, Cloud:Connector and Cloud:Link. Nubifer’s approach with Cloud:Portal enables the rapid development of “enterprise cloud mash-ups”, providing rich dash-boards for authentication, single sign-on and identity management. This increased functionality offers simple administration of accounts spanning multiple SaaS systems, and the ability to augment and quickly integrate popular cloud applications. Cloud Connector seamlessly integrates data management, data sync services, and enables highly available data interchange between platforms and applications. And Cloud:Link provides rich dashboards for analytic and monitoring metrics improving system governance and audit trails of various SLAs (Service Level Agreements).

As a Cloud computing accelerator, Nubifer focuses on aiding enterprise companies in the adoption of emerging SaaS and PaaS platforms. Our recommended approach to an initial Cloud migration is to institute a “pilot program” tailored around your platform(s) of choice to in order to fully iron-out any integration issues that may arise prior to a complete roll-out.

Nubifer’s set of Cloud Tools can be hosted on Windows Azure, Amazon EC2 or Google AppEngine. The scalability offered by these Cloud platforms promote an increased level of interoperability, availability, and a significantly lower financial barrier for entry not historically seen with current on-prem application platforms.

Cloud computing’s many flavors of services and offerings can be daunting at first review, but if you take a close look at the top providers offerings, you will see an ever increasing road map for on-boarding your existing or new applications to “the cloud”. Taking the first step is easy, and companies like Nubifer that provide the platform services, and the partner networks to aid your goals, are resourced and very eager to support your efforts.

Emerging Trends in Cloud Computing

Due to its reputation as a game-changing technology set, Cloud Computing is a hot topic when discussing emerging technology trends. Cloud Computing is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) “as a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

IT optimization has largely been the reason for the early adoption of Cloud Computing in “Global 2000” enterprises, with the early drivers being cost savings and faster infrastructure provisioning. A December 2009 Forrester Report indicated that over 70% of IT budget is spent on maintaining current IT infrastructure rather than adding new capabilities. Because of this, organizations are seeking to adopt a Cloud Computing model for their enterprise applications in order to better utilize the infrastructure investments.

Several such organizations currently have data center consolidation and virtualization initiatives underway and look to Cloud Computing as a natural progression of those initiatives. Enterprise private cloud solutions add capabilities such as self-service, automation and charge back over the virtualized infrastructure and thus make infrastructure provisioning quicker, helping to improve the over-all utilizations. Additionally, some of these organizations have been beginning to try public cloud solutions as a new infrastructure sourcing option.

IT spending of “Global 2000” enterprises makes up less than 5% of their revenues, thus optimizing IT isn’t going to impact their top or bottom line. In the current economic state, IT optimization is a good reason for these large enterprises to begin looking at Cloud Computing. So what is the true “disruptive” potential of Cloud Computing? It lies in the way it is going to aid these large enterprises in reinventing themselves and their business models in order to rise to the challenge of an evolving business landscape.

Social Networking Clouds and e-Commerce

Worldwide e-Commerce transactions will be worth over $16 trillion by 2013, and by 2012 over 50% of all adult Internet users in the U.S. will be using social networks. Currently, 49% of web users make a purchase based on a recommendation gleaned from social media. This increased adoption of social media makes it easier for consumers to remain connected and get options on products and services. Basically, the consumer has already made up their mind about a produce before even getting to the website or store. This is causing major changes in consumer marketing and the B2C business models. The relationship used to be between the enterprise and the consumer, but it is now changed to a deeper relationship that encompasses the consumer’s community.

Large enterprises can’t afford to have “websites” or “brick-and-mortar stores” any longer if they want to remain relevant and ensure customer loyalty—they need to provide online cloud hosted platforms that engage the consumers constantly along with their social community. That way, they incorporate the enterprise business services in their day-to-day life. When the Gen Y consumers reach the market, for example, “community driven” social commerce just may replace traditional “website based” e-commerce. Enterprises need to begin building such next-generation industry specific service platforms for the domain they operate it in anticipation of this.

Computing’s Pervasiveness

One half of the world population—roughly 3.3 billion—have active mobile devices, and the increased use of these hand held devices is altering the expectations of consumers when it comes to the availability of services. Consumers expect that the products and services should be available to them whenever they need the service, wherever they are, through innovative applications, the kinds of applications that can be better delivered through the cloud model.

The number of smart devices is expected to reach one trillion by 2011, due to increasing adoption of technologies like wireless sensors, wearable computing, RFIDs and more. This will lead to significant changes in the way consumers use technology, as future consumers will be used to (and be expecting) more intelligent products and services such as intelligent buildings that conserve energy and intelligent transportation systems that can make decisions based on real-time traffic information. An entirely new set of innovative products and services based on such pervasive computing will need to be created for the future generation.

Service providers will look to increase customer loyalty by providing more offerings, better services and maintaining deeper relationships as products and services become commoditized. Several industry leaders are increasingly adopting open innovation models, there by creating business clouds supported by an ecosystem of partners, in order to increase the portfolio of offerings and innovate faster. A new generation of applications must be created as Cloud Computing becomes more pervasive with the increased adoption of smart devices.

To gain a competitive edge, reduce CAPEX on infrastructure and maintenance, and take advantage of powerful SaaS technologies offered in the Cloud, Companies need to build their next generation business cloud platforms in order to better manage the scale of information.

To learn more about Cloud Computing and how companies can adopt and interoperate with the cloud, Visit Nubifer.com

Microsoft Announces Office 365

Announced October 19th 2010, Microsoft is launching Office 365, the software giants’ next cloud productivity offering syncing Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online in an “always-on” software and platform-as-a-service. Office 365 makes it simpler for organizations to get and use Microsoft’s highly-acclaimed business productivity solutions via the cloud.

With the Office 365 cloud offering, users can now work together more collaboratively from anywhere on any device with Internet connectivity, while collaborating with others inside and outside their enterprise in a secure and interoperable fashion. As part of today’s launch  announcement by Microsoft, the Redmond based software company is opening a pilot beta program for Office 365 in 13 different regions and countries.

Microsoft relied on years of experience when architecting Office 365, delivering industry-acclaimed enterprise cloud services ranging from the first browser-based e-mail to today’s Business Productivity Online Suite, Microsoft Office Live Small Business and Live@edu. Adopting the Office 365 cloud platform means Microsoft users don’t have to alter the way they work, because Office 365 works with the most prevalent browsers, smart-phone hand-sets and desktop applications people use today.

Office 365 developers worked in close association with existing customers to develop this cloud offering, resulting in a platform that is designed to meet a wide array of user needs:

“Office 365 is the best of everything we know about productivity, all in a single cloud service,” said Kurt DelBene, president of the Office Division at Microsoft. “With Office 365, your local bakery can get enterprise-caliber software and services for the first time, while a multinational pharmaceutical company can reduce costs and more easily stay current with the latest innovations. People can focus on their business, while we and our partners take care of the technology.”

With Office 365 for small businesses, professionals and small companies with fewer than 25 employees can be up and running with Office Web Apps, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and an external website in just 15 minutes, for $6 per user, per month.

Microsoft Office 365 for the enterprise introduces an wide range of choices for mid and large organizations, as well as for governmental entities, starting at $2 per user, per month for basic e-mail. Office 365 for the enterprise also includes the choice to receive Microsoft Office Professional Plus on a pay-as-you-use basis. For less than $25 per user, per month, organizations can get Office Professional Plus along with webmail, voicemail, business social networking, instant messaging, Web portals, extranets, voice-conferencing, video-conferencing, web-conferencing, 24×7 phone support, on-premises licenses, and more.

Office 365 is creating new growth opportunities for Microsoft and its partners by reaching more customers and types of users and meeting more IT needs — all while reducing the financial burden for its customers.

Product Availability

Office 365 will be available worldwide in 2011. Starting today, Microsoft will begin testing Office 365 with a few thousand organizations in 13 countries and regions, with the beat expanding to include more organizations as the platform matures. Office 365 will be generally available in over 40 countries and regions next year.

Towards the end of next year, Microsoft Office 365 will offer Dynamics CRM Online in order to provide their complete business productivity experience to organizations of all varieties and scales. Additionally, Office 365 for education will debut later next year, giving students, faculty and school employees powerful technology tailored specifically to their needs.

October 19th at Noon PDT, Microsoft will launch http://www.Office365.com. Customers and partners can sign up for the Office 365 beta and learn more at that site, or follow Office 365 on Twitter (@Office365), Facebook (Office 365), or the new Office 365 blog at http://community.office365.com to get the latest information.

Nubifer is a Microsoft Registered Partner with expertise in Office, Windows 7, BPOS and Windows Azure.  Contact a representative today to learn how the Office 365 cloud platform can streamline your business processes or visit www.nubifer.com and fill out our online questionaire.

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.

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.