Click here to close now.


Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Stephen Baker, Victoria Livschitz, Ed Featherston, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

New Cloud Rising: Adopt New Technologies to Gain a Competitive Edge

A frog in a well does not know the great sea

The defining moment came when I was in Grade 8. My social studies teacher, Mr.Thiele, told us how and why Japan became a manufacturing leader after World War II. He had a theory. As the Japanese were forced to rebuild factories and infrastructure from scratch, they used cutting-edge technology to leapfrog other nations like Canada and the United States. My classmates were not convinced. How could it be an advantage to start all over again? Mr. Thiele contended that by building anew, Japan had access to newer and more efficient technologies that were beyond the reach of other countries. Combining modern management techniques and new infrastructure, Japan surpassed nations burdened by antiquated infrastructure and no money or compelling motivation to invest in new technologies.

I'm not sure Mr. Thiele got all his facts right, and I don’t mean to trivialize the challenges faced (and overcome) in post-war Japan. But starting from scratch with newer and better technologies can allow a company to gain a competitive edge. In this context, the Thiele Principle has guided me throughout my IT career.

Japan to Greece: A Thoughtful Approach for Improving IT Processes
When I investigate how an IT process works and why it came into being, I like to use the Socratic method to stimulate critical thinking and to generate new ideas. One of my favorite questions to ask IT staff is, how would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today? Usually the question gets the creative juices flowing, and people brainstorm new solutions. Which leads me to ask the next question: Why don't we go ahead and make the change then? In my opinion, this is a more effective way to solicit input rather than asking people to think of change simply in terms of cost-benefit analysis. It often turns out that IT staff see sunk costs as the biggest hurdle. That’s not good enough. I believe that sunk costs are irrelevant to the debate and lead to paralysis. Let me demonstrate the method with a real-life example.

The Road to the Cloud: From On-site to Co-located Servers
An employer had all its servers located in-house, with the exception of the web and incoming mail servers. This practice led to all kinds of problems. Water was often turned off in our aging office tower to allow for plumbing repairs. With water unavailable, the air conditioning did not work, and we had to turn power off in the server room to avoid over-heating.

In-house servers also required our staff to maintain them and transport backups to an off-site location on a daily basis. Capital costs were running too high. Most importantly, with no 24-7 on-site staff to troubleshoot server crashes, our European employees and partners had no access to the system during their working hours.

"How would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today?"

"Well, I'd have our servers moved to a co-location facility with guaranteed power, 24x7 staff, and have them do the backups."

"Why don't we go ahead and make the change then?"

Nobody could think of a good reason not to make the change, so we went ahead. The switch to co-located servers solved some of our problems, but not all of them. And new issues arose. Scaling on demand was unavailable due to hardware constraints and custom software design. It still took months to requisition, configure, and put new servers into production.

Once again I asked, "How would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today?"

"Well, I'd go with virtual servers instead of our own co-located ones."

"Why don't we go ahead and make the change then?"

This time, staff came up with legitimate reasons why we couldn't just toss our existing servers and move to a virtual infrastructure. It was simply too costly to terminate co-location contracts with external vendors. It also meant we would have to rewrite all our applications to make them work in a virtual environment. Still, we decided to use the then fledging virtual private server technology for our new projects. We achieved mixed results. While we could spin up a physical server in an instant, it would be unprovisioned with our environment, and required middleware and heavy-duty IT involvement to make it work. Development, staging, and production environments were not identical, which resulted in many errors.

"How would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today?"


In reality, there was no good solution to the problem at the time. At least until the private Platform as a Service (PasS) came along.

Private Platform as a Service: Opening the Path for Innovation
In the last six to eighteen months, the advent of viable enterprise private PaaS products has significantly changed the IT landscape. PaaS guarantees an identical environment throughout the development and deployment cycles, can handle any language, and is automatically configured and scaled on demand without IT intervention. PaaS effectively removes all the barriers that delay project rollouts, and allows staff to focus on real business problems rather than waste time fixing the IT infrastructure. With PaaS, innovation becomes possible.

Technology changes so rapidly that a business will be left behind if it does not constantly consider newer and better ways of doing things. Innovation starts with asking the right questions. When reviewing legacy systems and practices, ask your team, “How would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today?” The Japanese taught us that a frog in a well does not know the great sea. Chances are that if you are not thinking out of the box, looking ahead, and making continuous advancements, your competitors will. And it may take you years to catch up if you miss the boat.

More Stories By Brent Smithurst

Brent Smithurst is ActiveState's Director of Product Management and he thinks about Stackato 24x7. Prior to joining ActiveState, he held leadership positions in software product management, IT, operations, and marketing for organizations in security/computer management, motion picture/television, food services, and hardware retail/online industries.

@ThingsExpo Stories
“The Internet of Things transforms the way organizations leverage machine data and gain insights from it,” noted Splunk’s CTO Snehal Antani, as Splunk announced accelerated momentum in Industrial Data and the IoT. The trend is driven by Splunk’s continued investment in its products and partner ecosystem as well as the creativity of customers and the flexibility to deploy Splunk IoT solutions as software, cloud services or in a hybrid environment. Customers are using Splunk® solutions to collect and correlate data from control systems, sensors, mobile devices and IT systems for a variety of Ind...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
As enterprises capture more and more data of all types – structured, semi-structured, and unstructured – data discovery requirements for business intelligence (BI), Big Data, and predictive analytics initiatives grow more complex. A company’s ability to become data-driven and compete on analytics depends on the speed with which it can provision their analytics applications with all relevant information. The task of finding data has traditionally resided with IT, but now organizations increasingly turn towards data source discovery tools to find the right data, in context, for business users, d...
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless Thingies, will discuss and demonstrate how devices and humans can be integrated from a simple clust...
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a software development company, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software development company with representative offices in Atlanta (US), Sheffield (UK) and Würzburg (Germany); and development centers in Ukraine. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 150 developers, designers, quality assurance engineers, project manage...
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Raxak has been named “Media & Session Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Raxak Protect automates security compliance across private and public clouds. Using the SaaS tool or managed service, developers can deploy cloud apps quickly, cost-effectively, and without error.
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, will discuss the impact of technology on identity. Should we federate, or not? How should identity be secured? Who owns the identity? How is identity ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgeniakhela will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgeniakhela is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dramatically improve productivity, reduce collaboration costs, and increase the overall enterprise value by bringing ...
Sensors and effectors of IoT are solving problems in new ways, but small businesses have been slow to join the quantified world. They’ll need information from IoT using applications as varied as the businesses themselves. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Meike, Distinguished Engineer, Director of Technology Innovation at Intuit, will show how IoT manufacturers can use open standards, public APIs and custom apps to enable the Quantified Small Business. He will use a Raspberry Pi to connect sensors to web services, and cloud integration to connect accounting and data, providing a Bluetooth...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron's memory solutions enable the world's most innovative computing, consumer,...
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.