Author: impr

About that ‘Unassailable Economic Argument’ for Public Cloud Computing

– Lori MacVittie, Senior Technical Marketing Manager at F5 Networks (www.f5.com), says: Turns out that ‘unassailable’ economic argument for public cloud computing is very assailable. “The economic arguments are unassailable. Economies of scale make cloud computing more cost effective than running their own servers for all but the largest organisations. Cloud computing is also a perfect fit for the smart mobile devices that are eating into PC and laptop market.” — Tim Anderson, “Let the Cloud Developer Wars Begin” Ah, Tim. The arguments are not unassailable and, in fact, it appears you might be guilty of having tunnel vision – seeing only the list price and forgetting to factor in the associated costs that make public cloud computing not so economically attractive under many situations. Yes, on a per hour basis, per CPU cycle, per byte of RAM, public cloud computing is almost certainly cheaper than any other option. But that doesn’t mean that arguments for cloud computing (which is much more than just cheap compute resources) are economically unassailable. Ignoring for a moment that it isn’t as clear cut as basing a deployment strategy purely on costs, the variability in bandwidth and storage costs along with other factors that generate both hard and soft costs associated with applications must be considered. MACRO versus MICRO ECONOMICS The economic arguments for cloud computing almost always boil down to the competing views...

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Cloud Services and Disaster Recovery: Understand and Test It!

– Lori MacVittie, Senior Technical Marketing Manager at F5 Networks (www.f5.com), says: If Amazon’s Availability Zone strategy had worked as advertised its outage would have been non-news. But then again, no one really knows what was advertised… There’s been a lot said about the Amazon outage and most of it had to do with cloud and, as details came to light, about EBS (Elastic Block Storage). But very little mention was made of what should be obvious: most customers didn’t – and still don’t – know how Availability Zones really work and, more importantly, what triggers a fail over. What’s worse, what triggers a fail back? Amazon’s documentation is light. Very light. Like cloud light. Now, it’s been argued that part of the reason Amazon’s outage was so impactful was a lack of meaningful communication on the part of Amazon regarding the outage. And Amazon has admitted to failing in that regard and has promised to do better in the future. But just as impactful is likely the lack of communication before the outage; before deployment. After all, the aforementioned description of Availability Zones, upon which many of the impacted customers were relying to maintain availability, does not provide enough information to understand how Availability Zones work, nor how they are architected. TRIGGERING FAIL-OVER Scrounging around the Internet turns up very little on how Availability Zones work, other than...

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If a Network Can’t Go Virtual Then Virtual Must Come to the Network

– Lori MacVittie, Senior Technical Marketing Manager at F5 Networks (www.f5.com), says: Whether it’s a need to support cloud computing or manage the myriad requirements from internal customers, the new network must go beyond multi-tenancy. There has been a plethora of content lately discussing the need for virtual network appliances. It’s only natural, after all, that once we managed to work out all the quirks and flaws of server and storage virtualization that we’d move on to the next layer of the data center, the network. What’s being discovered as enterprises build out their own cloud computing or IT as a Service environments is that multi-tenancy doesn’t always go far enough to meet the needs of their various constituents internal to the organization. It’s not just a matter of role-based administrative access or isolating configuration from one department to another, it goes deeper than that – to maintenance windows and fault-isolation and even needs for different versions of the same solution. What’s necessary to address these diverse needs in a way that is non-disruptive is a virtualized approach. But just as valid are the arguments against moving some network-oriented solutions to a virtual form factor, as pointed out by Mike Brandenburg: “For all of the compute power that a virtual environment can bring to bear on a workload, there are still many tasks that favor dedicated hardware. Network processes...

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The “Fourth Utility” In A Hospital Is A Vital Connection

– Jason Reasor , product manager at CommScope (http://www.commscope.com/), says: When a new building is being constructed, there isn’t a lot of discussion around whether or not electricity, plumbing or natural gas will be installed. It’s a given that they will be there. These utilities are ubiquitous (that’s a fancy word for “always there”). In fact, we take it for granted that when we turn on a faucet, water comes out. When we flip the switch in a room, the lights come on. When it’s cold out, our natural gas heaters keep us warm. We have learned to rely on these utilities so much that we build everything else around them.A few years ago, Cisco coined the term “Fourth Utility.” Over time, this term has been overloaded within the industry to mean a lot of things – the IT infrastructure, the Internet, cloud computing, etc. Whatever you want to call it, the bottom line is that the Fourth Utility lets our stuff (tablets, smartphones, security cameras, lighting control, fire alarms, nurse call systems, etc) connect to other things (servers, network back-up storage, Internet, printers, and anything else considered to be part of “the cloud”). The connectivity can be wired or wireless—it doesn’t matter, we just want the connectivity. There are few places where this requirement for connectivity is more apparent than in a hospital. Information must be available 24/7,...

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Securing the Data Center: Application-layer DDoS Attacks

– Rakesh Shah, director of product marketing and strategy with Arbor Networks (http://www.arbornetworks.com/), says: Application-layer DDoS attacks have quickly become the most significant threat to availability of Internet Data Center and Cloud-based services. Application-layer attacks are low bandwidth, difficult to detect and target both end customers and network operators’ own ancillary supporting services, such as HTTP web services, domain name system (DNS), etc. The Arbor Networks portfolio provides visibility into critical IP services and applications running in the IDC, such as HTTP, DNS, VoIP/SIP and SMTP traffic. They protect IDC infrastructure against numerous trypes of attack, including Spoofed / Non-Spoofed Attacks, TCP State Exhaustion, TCP SYN Floods, HTTP/Web Attacks, DNS Floods/Authentication Attacks, UDP Floods and dozens more. Enterprises are very concerned with availability of the critical services running in these data centers, and attackers view Internet facing data centers as new prime targets and use DDoS attacks to wreak havoc on these companies. The single biggest threat to IDC availability is DDoS. Arbor Networks brings carrier-class DDoS detection and mitigation capabilities to the data center. Additionally, Arbor solutions are purpose built for the IDC environment. Out of the box, carrier-class DDoS attack identification and mitigation capabilities Can be rapidly deployed with little configuration, even during an attack Focused on detecting and stopping application-layer DDoS attacks A single easy to manage platform with extensive reporting capabilities Arbor Networks solutions deliver...

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The Stealthy Ascendancy of JSON

– Lori MacVittie, Senior Technical Marketing Manager at F5 Networks (www.f5.com), says: While everyone was focused on cloud, JSON has slowly but surely been taking over the application development world. It looks like the debate between XML and JSON may be coming to a close with JSON poised to take the title of preferred format for web applications. If you don’t consider these statistics to be impressive, consider that ProgrammableWeb indicated that its “own statistics on ProgrammableWeb show a significant increase in the number of JSON APIs over 2009/2010. During 2009 there were only 191 JSON APIs registered. So far in 2010 [August] there are already 223!” Today there are 1262 JSON APIs registered, which means a growth rate of 565% in the past eight months, nearly catching up to XML which currently lists 2162 APIs. At this rate, JSON will likely overtake XML as the preferred format by the end of 2011. This is significant to both infrastructure vendors and cloud computing providers alike, because it indicates a preference for a programmatic model that must be accounted for when developing services, particularly those in the PaaS (Platform as a Service) domain. PaaS has yet to grab developers mindshare and it may be that support for JSON will be one of the ways in which that mindshare is attracted. Consider the results of the “State of Web Development 2010”...

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How to Quickly and Easily Build, Manage, and Deploy Private and Public Clouds

– Peder Ulander, Chief Marketing Officer at Cloud.com (www.cloud.com), says: Today, enterprises and service providers that are interested in launching cloud computing services face the difficult task of integrating complex software and hardware components from multiple vendors. The resulting system could end up being expensive to build and hard to operate, minimizing the original motives and benefits of moving to this new model. Cloud.com’s focus is on enabling enterprises to quickly architect, configure and deploy highly reliable, highly scalable and cost-effective cloud environments and operate in a far more flexible and cost-efficient way. Cloud.com CloudStack is an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform that helps IT managers quickly and easily build, manage and deploy private and public clouds. By integrating all of the key components, CloudStack removes the complexity of cloud infrastructure for IT managers and the data center and enables users to realize instant efficiencies without the overhead of integration, professional services, and complex deployment schedules. This means that IT managers can focus on more strategic projects while becoming more efficient in how they manage and deploy IT services. Where should CloudStack rank in terms of overall priority in the data center? For companies turning to cloud computing models as a key priority in their IT staff (the category itself has ranked in the top 3 priorities for the past couple of years), CloudStack should rank high as...

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Public, Private and Enterprise Cloud: Economy of Scale versus Efficiency of Scale

– Lori MacVittie, Senior Technical Marketing Manager at F5 Networks (www.f5.com), says: What distinguishes these three models of cloud computing are the business and operational goals for which they were implemented and the benefits derived. A brief Twitter conversation recently asked the question how one would distinguish between the three emerging dominant cloud computing models: public, private and enterprise. Interestingly, if you were to take a “public cloud” implementation and transplant it into the enterprise, it is unlikely to deliver the value IT was expecting. Conversely, transplanting a private cloud implementation to a public provider would also similarly fail to achieve the desired goals. When you dig into it, the focus of the implementation – the operational and business goals – play a much larger role in distinguishing these models than any technical architecture could. Public cloud computing is also often referred to as “utility” computing. That’s because its purpose is to reduce the costs associated with deployment and subsequent scalability of an application. It’s about economy of scale – for the customer, yes, but even more so for the provider. The provider is able to offer commoditized resources at a highly affordable rate because of the scale of its operations. The infrastructure – from the network to the server to the storage – is commoditized. It’s all shared resources that combine to form the basis for a economically...

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Convert Existing Data Center Infrastructure into a Private or Hybrid Cloud Environment

– Garima Thockchom, VP of marketing at Gale Technologies (www.galetechnologies.com), says: Why is Gale Technologies’ GaleForce Turnkey Cloud useful in today’s enterprise data centers? Why should data center and IT managers care about it? How can they benefit from it? The GaleForce Turnkey Cloud allows organizations to maximize the resource utilization out of their existing infrastructure by converting static and silo’ed environments into shared, dynamic environments. The GaleForce Turnkey Cloud allows customers to convert their existing IT infrastructure into a private or hybrid cloud environment in just two steps and as little as two weeks. GaleForce provisions and automates composite resource stacks that consist of bare metal hardware, software and virtual resources, which allows enterprises to run any workload, virtualized or not, in that cloud. Using a solution like GaleForce, organizations can dramatically increase the utilization of their existing resources by up to 85 percent, reduce capital and operational expenditures, and do more with fewer physical, virtual and human resources. With GaleForce, IT operators are able to set up a cloud, lab, demo, or data center environment in just minutes, providing secure access to resources 24/7 from anywhere in the world. Using GaleForce, operators design rich service and infrastructure templates with drag-and-drop ease and publish them to a custom brandable self-service Web portal catalog. When users of the cloud select the template they want to instantiate from the self-service...

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Visibility Into Your Entire IT Infrastructure

– Josh Duncan, Product Evangelist at Zenoss (www.zenoss.com), says: Enterprise operations teams need a way to manage and monitor all of their physical servers, networks, storage devices, and an increasing amount of virtual resources. It is no longer a simple exercise to determine where your services are physically running, and what the impact is if a device has to go offline. Zenoss provides visibility into the entire IT infrastructure, so you can address the growing challenge of efficiently managing your physical, virtual, and Cloud resources. Datacenter managers are being asked to manage dynamic environments and are rapidly finding out that management solutions built around a static CMDB paradigm don’t scale. Having a monitoring solution that provides real-time visibility will guarantee that operations is always away of the “as-is” state. This enables IT to react faster and successfully manage a constantly changing environment at much higher level of service. Operational visibility is a foundational requirement for any IT environment. However, for highly virtualized and Cloud environments, it is critical that IT is able to guarantee service delivery. Service assurance in the Cloud requires that operations can see the linkage between the devices they are monitoring and the services they are supporting. When a service starts to become degraded, operations must be able to proactively react. Biggest Challenges Mean time to resolution – In highly virtualized environments, finding the root cause...

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