|By Richard Stone||
|September 13, 2010 07:15 AM EDT||
In Lewis Carroll's classic story "Through the Looking Glass," Humpty Dumpty remarked: "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." It seems that the same principle applies to almost any industry expert and IT vendor when they talk about Cloud Computing. So, in an effort not to fall into the same trap as Humpty Dumpty, let's start with the obvious first question:
What exactly is Cloud Computing?
The most authoritative definition is from the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), the U.S. federal technology agency that works with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements, and standards. The latest version of the "NIST Definition of Cloud Computing" is available online, but it can be summarized as shown in Figure 1.
What's driving Cloud Computing today?
As the world gradually pulls itself out of recession, companies are starting to implement "return to growth" strategies, which means growing revenue rather than trying to cut their way to profitability. An essential part of this is to re-connect with customers by aligning their marketing and sales channels with the ways that their customers want to evaluate and purchase their products. As they do this, an undeniable truth emerges: The way that customers expect to interact with them has undergone a fundamental and permanent change, and on a scale and pace that has never been seen before. Businesses find a whole new generation of customers who are impatient, unencumbered with antiquated notions such as brand loyalty, and who expect things to work the way that they want them work. Customers now demand speed, immediacy, and ease-of-use. They expect to be able to do business with you wherever and whenever they want, and on whatever device they choose. The new customer experience benchmarks are Facebook, YouTube and iTunes, and if you can't provide that quality of experience, they'll simply find someone who can.
So when businesses turn their attention from survival mode to growth mode, they quickly realize that "reconnecting with the customer" is not a return to business as usual, but something that requires a complete rethink of the way they work, both externally and internally.
The new business imperatives for customer interaction are agility to meet rapidly changing market conditions, flexibility in the way that they do business and rapid time-to-value as trends are increasingly measured in days and weeks - not months and years. Inside organizations, new tools and business processes are needed to manage new ways to create demand, manage new distribution channels, communicate value to customers and provide visibility on rapidly changing customer trends.
Given the huge amount of publicity, it is inevitable that the CEO will hear or read the pitch that "Cloud provides agility, flexibility, and quicker time-to-value," and get hooked. What's keeping them awake at night is the need for a fundamental change in the way that they interact with customers, and the answer is right there in front of them - Cloud Computing. It's exactly what they need to immediately start challenging the IT department to develop a cloud strategy. As proof of this, a recent survey conducted by the 451 Group in June 2010 confirms that it is CEOs, not CIOs, who are driving Cloud Computing initiatives in most organizations.
The answer to the question - what's driving cloud computing - is very clear: Business Needs. Led by the CEO, the primary driver of cloud computing inside most organizations today is the line of business, where it's seen as an essential component of a "return to growth" strategy. Reducing cost, the primary focus for the last few years, is still important, but it's no longer one of the top priority items in an increasing number of company budgets today.
What does this mean to IT?
IT's traditional reaction to pressures from the business and customers, especially in larger enterprises, is to comprehend new requirements in the rolling three-year or five-year strategic IT plan. After all, building a new sales force automation or customer relationship management solution takes time - there are the RFI and RFQ processes to go through, detailed ROI calculations, budget approval cycles and extensive/detailed vendor contract negotiations. Once that's all done, the lengthy implementation phase can begin, where the chosen solution is customized (sometimes extensively) to fit the company's systems.
For most businesses, this process is a frustrating "take it or leave it" approach driven by IT, executed at IT's pace, and riddled with delays and cost overruns. What's more, it's completely inconsistent with the customer-facing and internally facing imperatives that the CEO and business leaders are now grappling with, in a fashion that IT cannot continue to operate in.
Cloud Computing offers a compelling alternative to the old way of providing IT services. Instead of internally developed monolithic systems, with lengthy and costly implementations of customized third-party business solutions, Cloud Computing provides an agile and flexible environment with shorter solution implementation cycles at a much lower cost. It represents a fundamental shift in the way that enterprises acquire and implement new IT functionality (computing power, storage, software, etc.) to support customer and organizational needs. In short, Cloud Computing offers IT a new way of implementing the functionality that the business units are demanding, and at a speed and cost that meets their expectations.
What this means to IT is that they are facing a critical choice that has to be made soon - either "Do nothing" or "Lead from the front." If they do nothing, business units have a choice now and they'll turn to any of the hundreds of SaaS vendors that can deliver 95 percent of the new functionality they need. These "fly under the corporate IT radar" solutions can be delivered as fast as it takes them to enter their credit card information, so they can have a great Salesforce Automation solution today with no commitment, no delay, and no IT.
"Leading from the front" is the only right course. IT owns IT, regardless of whether it comes from inside or outside the organization. Along with delivering completely new applications to the business, Cloud Computing will allow IT to enhance the functionality of existing applications by leveraging content and services from third-party providers. These "borderless" applications offer a best-of-both-worlds approach - the existing investments in legacy applications and the "systems of record" are protected, and new functionality to meet new needs can be delivered quickly and at a low initial cost.
What are the risks, and how can IT mitigate them?
From a line-of-business perspective, Cloud Computing is raising expectations on how quickly and cost-effectively new IT functionality can be made available to them. More important, even though the delivery chain for these "borderless applications" now crosses organizational and geographic boundaries, users will still expect the applications to perform well, and will hold IT accountable if they don't.
The bottom line is that IT has to meet the business' expectation of faster delivery of new functionality and good performance, while at the same time addressing two key risks: ensuring that sensitive data remains protected in compliance with company policy and state/federal legislation; and maintaining end-to-end visibility and control of service performance and availability of borderless applications.
For many IT organizations, data security was a "show stopper" for adopting Cloud Computing, especially for applications in public clouds, simply because there were no existing solutions that addressed the unique security issues posed by the cloud. However, a new generation of security products from industry leaders such as Symantec, McAfee (to be acquired by Intel,) and Covisint is changing the security landscape. When combined with best practices from industry analysts such as Gartner, the issues are being effectively addressed for an increasing number of companies, including those in heavily regulated industries. Security is, and always will be, a critical issue whether companies are "in the cloud" or not, but it is no longer necessarily a show stopper.
Performance and Availability
From an end-user perspective, poor performance or non-availability of an application looks exactly the same, regardless of where the problem is in the service delivery chain - the service provider, in the data center, across the network, in the enterprise or with the end user's own device - and has exactly the same productivity impact to the business. Rapid resolution of the problem requires end-to-end visibility of the entire service delivery chain to isolate and fix the problem. The problem for many organizations is that the current generation of Application Performance Management (APM) solutions in use from most vendors fails to meet that challenge because they address data center or Internet performance issues in a narrow, compartmentalized view.
Recent experience by companies who have actually implemented cloud solutions paints an interesting picture of where IT should be focusing its risk mitigation efforts to ensure that cloud delivers real business benefits. Prior to implementation, many IT departments were unconvinced that Cloud Computing would deliver the promised business agility and flexibility benefits, and believed that the big win would be cost savings. They also believed that security concerns would tower above everything else as the number one unresolved problem, and that application performance and service level management problems would be solved by simply extending the capabilities of their existing APM solutions. Practical experience was quite different. Agility and flexibility turned out to be the number one win by a long shot; and performance and availability turned out to be tough problems that couldn't be effectively solved with their existing or planned APM solutions.
What's so hard about managing performance in the cloud?
Service providers are typically unwilling to commit to specific service level agreements; and for those that do, there is a lot of inconsistency - and confusion - in their definitions of performance and availability. Amazon for instance currently quotes availability in terms of "outages" - periods of five minutes or more during the service year in which Amazon EC2 was in the state of "region unavailable." Others prefer to quote more general statistics such as "multiple redundant gigabit Internet connections" and "greater than 99.95% service availability." To put these figures into context, a 99.95% availability means that unplanned downtime of a cloud-based service will average no more than 12 minutes per month. Compare this with about 95 minutes per month of downtime for the average exchange server, and the initial reaction is that there's no need to worry about performance and availability. However, this is a very dangerous assumption, since it ignores a critically important point: the service provider is just one part of the application delivery chain.
From an end-user perspective, poor performance or non-availability of an application looks exactly the same, regardless of where the problem actually is in the application delivery chain - one of the service providers, in the data center, across the network, in the enterprise, in the cloud or with the end user's own device - and has exactly the same productivity impact to the business. For example, a mortgage loan pre-approval application that utilizes cloud-based services, what happens if one of the services performs badly or is not available at all? How can the enterprise determine if it's a service provider problem, a network problem or an end-user device problem?
To further complicate things, geographic location can also have a dramatic impact on the overall performance of a cloud-based application - this is somewhat contrary to the popular belief that Internet communication is virtually instantaneous. A worse-case scenario is that "all lights are green" in the data center, but some (not all) customers are complaining about performance issues. Without detailed fault-domain information across the entire delivery chain, it is virtually impossible to isolate and fix performance and availability issues in a timely manner, before they start to impact users.
CloudSleuth Web Portal: The Compuware-sponsored CloudSleuth community web portal is designed to meet the growing need for authoritative, objective measurements of cloud service providers. It provides free access to real-time performance and availability visualizations of leading cloud providers around the world, plus other valuable data such as blogs, forums and white papers - all focused on best practices for building, deploying, and managing cloud-based applications.
To illustrate how all the components of the delivery chain can impact performance of a web-based application, Figures 5 and 6 show actual measurements from CloudSleuth, a Compuware-sponsored web portal that provides real-time visualizations of the performance and availability of cloud service providers. CloudSleuth measures performance of a simple application (no I/O- or CPU-intensive tasks) deployed anonymously at a number of cloud services providers. The Gomez Performance Network is then used to access those applications from backbone and "Last Mile" locations around the world to provide actual performance results. All the tests below use only Amazon EC2 East and West.
"Figure 5: Last Mile" Internet Service Provider (ISP) Performance: This test shows how the response time is impacted by the performance of the user's ISP (the so-called "last mile" connection).
Note that users in Wyoming are experiencing performance issues because of "last mile" connectivity problems, not because of Amazon.
Figure 6: Geography: The graphs clearly show that the farther away the user is from the application, the longer the response time.
This test also illustrates that if enterprises have a choice of service providers, it is best to choose one that is nearest to their user and/or customer base.
Figure 7: Time of Day: This test shows that the performance of cloud service providers is not constant, but can vary quite widely throughout the day. This is generally because the service provider is handling a varying load from other users on their systems.
Figure 7 also illustrates another practical point about cloud performance: The cloud theoretically provides "rapid elasticity," meaning that wide variations in load can be accommodated without significantly impacting the performance of individual applications. In reality, cloud service providers have to live by the same rules of economics as everyone else - they do not have banks of servers lying idle to cope with these peaks in demand. Although applications operate in their own "instances" at the service provider, their performance is affected by what their neighbors are doing!
Conclusion - Putting It All Together
Cloud Computing represents the new way for businesses to re-connect with their customers. It allows IT to meet the business need for agility, flexibility and time-to-value - all of these are vital to success in the new, customer-driven world where "work anywhere is what we do." But despite the increasingly proven business benefits, Cloud Computing introduces new business risks, and IT must play a leadership role in addressing those risks.
A key concern is managing the end-user experience of cloud-based applications by maintain complete visibility of the performance of these new borderless applications. Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, once remarked: "Information about the package is as important as the package itself." He was making the case that it's not enough to provide a general statement of service quality; you must be able to present information on the particular service you are delivering to a particular customer at a particular time, regardless of where the package is. The same is true for borderless applications - these require a solution that can monitor and manage application performance regardless of physical, virtual or cloud attributes.
Traditional enterprise application performance management tools are unsuited to the task of managing this new generation of applications, because they only provide narrow, technology-centric keyhole views into the performance of specific components or processes. The only way to truly solve performance and availability problems is through a holistic view of application performance that encompasses the entire application delivery chain.
1. The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing: http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SNS/cloud-computing/cloud-def-v15.doc
The IoT has the potential to create a renaissance of manufacturing in the US and elsewhere. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Florent Solt, CTO and chief architect of Netvibes, will discuss how the expected exponential increase in the amount of data that will be processed, transported, stored, and accessed means there will be a huge demand for smart technologies to deliver it. Florent Solt is the CTO and chief architect of Netvibes. Prior to joining Netvibes in 2007, he co-founded Rift Technol...
Apr. 28, 2016 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,462
Join IBM June 8 at 18th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn how to innovate like a startup and scale for the enterprise. You need to deliver quality applications faster and cheaper, attract and retain customers with an engaging experience across devices, and seamlessly integrate your enterprise systems. And you can't take 12 months to do it.
Apr. 28, 2016 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,721
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
Apr. 28, 2016 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,611
IoT device adoption is growing at staggering rates, and with it comes opportunity for developers to meet consumer demand for an ever more connected world. Wireless communication is the key part of the encompassing components of any IoT device. Wireless connectivity enhances the device utility at the expense of ease of use and deployment challenges. Since connectivity is fundamental for IoT device development, engineers must understand how to overcome the hurdles inherent in incorporating multipl...
Apr. 28, 2016 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,357
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
Apr. 28, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,544
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
Apr. 28, 2016 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,082
The paradigm has shifted. A Gartner survey shows that 43% of organizations are using or plan to implement the Internet of Things in 2016. However, not just a handful of companies are still using the old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways, unaware of the critical barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can you become a winner? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan will present a methodical approach to guide the holistic adoption and enablement of IoT implementations. This ov...
Apr. 28, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,496
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Apr. 28, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,445
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
Apr. 28, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,597
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
Apr. 28, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 527
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Apr. 28, 2016 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,167
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
Apr. 28, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,390
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
Apr. 28, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 522
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Apr. 28, 2016 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 934
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
Apr. 28, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 709
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
Apr. 28, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 670
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
Apr. 28, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,496
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
Apr. 28, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 523
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
Apr. 28, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 941
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
Apr. 28, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 784