Cloud Computing -- The Talk of the Town

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Cloud Computing -- The Talk of the Town

Postby admin » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:20 pm

Cloud Computing seems to be one of the trendiest topics to talk about in IT. A successor topic to the virtualization market overall, Cloud Computing seems to be a coalescence of a variety of IT topics into one integrated trend -- perhaps analogous to the universal string theory physicist always look for (sorry for the scientific reference). It's not clear if its real in the sense of being a defined market with distinct product needs or rather a overarching term that more applies to IT architectures than any single product someone might look to buy.

In my mind, the Internet is what is giving birth to Cloud Computing -- providing the ability to cross connect internal computing and external computing. In many respects, it's not a new topic in that companies have for a long time looked to build IT infrastructures that take into account local and remote computing needs. The difference this time is really several fold:

1. Virtualization makes the implementation of services to support Cloud Computing architectures affordable. This means real and sustaining businesses can emerge that provide External cloud services to an IT department.

2. The Internet provides the needed connectivity to make Cloud nodes linkable. This means enterprises can assemble cloud architectures in more of a plug-and-play model than they every have been before.

Some areas of weakness perhaps:
1. Security -- remains a challenge to the software industry overall. Implementing Clouds essentially means data is distributed, access rights are distributed -- two things that leave potential risk factors higher than some companies would like. We need to improve security at all levels of the computing stack for this issue to reduce below a noise level.

2. Reliability -- perhaps on the cusp of being a pro and a con -- with the right data back up models, failures can be handled by altering plug and play services to those that remain up. Perhaps we have lessons to learn with the utility companies who have had to master, as much as they can, models to reroute traffic to maintain high levels of reliability.

3. Cost -- If Cloud is not cheaper than doing it all yourself, why do it. Nonetheless, the pricing/revenue models have to be rich enough for companies to want to be in the cloud services business. Enterprises lean towards service survivors versus fly-by-night startups. After all, that's why IBM and HP continually get business when you think they would not.

Interesting topics to discuss perhaps:
1. What business opportunities exist around Cloud?
2. Is the current views of Cloud worth hanging on to, or should we just treat it as a buzz term and see what's next?
3. Should certain computing infrastructures be institutionalized (eeech -- under government control), given how much society at all levels is dependent on it for (I think this used to be what people saw in the old "utility computing models" talked about early in the first decade of 2000).

Let's have a go at it ...
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Re: Cloud Computing -- The Talk of the Town

Postby akw » Mon May 10, 2010 12:28 am

Let me grab business opportunities.

Security is a big issue with the cloud. How do you keep prying eyes out and keep the important stuff from getting out

Provisioning and managing - How do you get the resources you need when you need them and in the right spot

Reporting - How does one show the value of cloud computing to stakeholders
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Re: Cloud Computing -- The Talk of the Town

Postby pselvana » Thu Aug 26, 2010 4:41 pm

Since every problem is a business opportunity waiting to be born, here are some other weaknesses with building on the Cloud.

1. Vendor lock-in - Once your data is up on the cloud, it really isn't your data as much as your data residing in someone else's house. If you want to rent somewhere else, there's migration issues that need to be dealt with. Web 2.0 users are seeing this with some similar scenarios like Flickr which offered Rogers Communication Inc customers free "Pro" accounts. When that offer was rescinded, Flickr held the photos at ransom until you paid out of pocket for a Pro account.

2. Network bandwidth/Neutrality - With much of the computation/storage occurring on the other end of the pipe, some services provided will need fatter pipes and guaranteed QoS to maintain a usable system. Both of those requirements cost money. The bandwidth providers (both wired and cellular) will no doubt enjoy the upcoming transition, as will their stockholders no doubt. Services like OnLive require low latency and large bandwidth (720P compressed video) to allow people to play games via the Cloud.


At the same time, the Cloud model does offer some interesting benefits:
1. Thin client - The return of thin clients allows up front costs to be lowered and, if done right, requires upgrading the back-end as opposed to upgrading each and every individual user facing machine. With no customization capable on the front end, a defective client is removed and a spare one replaces it outright with little to no downtime. Benefits are rolled out as needed with the bottleneck becoming the capability for a user to consume them.

2. Economies of Scale - Self explanatory. Added benefits for services among multiple time zones include free load-balancing as users in one half of the world go to sleep as others awaken.

3. Immense Data - Google is great at letting users feed them with data. Data they can and do turn around and analyze to gain value and insight. Other companies can also benefit from having more data than they can compute provided to them - so long as it is secondary to the function and not primary to their service deliverables. Identifying two files are the same or similar, for instance, can lead to removal of redundancies or soft links to clone.

There seem to be a lot of problems as well as benefits with moving to the Cloud. As a model, it might not be right for all. But, if you can get some sure footing in the Cloud, you might be able to raise your business to new heights.
Last edited by pselvana on Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cloud Computing -- The Talk of the Town

Postby LoveGolf » Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:52 pm

Data privacy seems to be a prevalent issue across many aspects of IT -- look at the problems RIM is having in off shore areas -- will Cloud providers need to provide 'insider' access to their virtual services to local government to protect against terrorism? What if the access gets into the wrong hands -- easily done I am sure. A nightmare for everyone involved. If there was a big breach, would it push people back to owning their own IT or do we just need to weather the storm for a while until the technology settles down?

I am not sure I understand your point on Immense Data -- is it that the Cloud providers can use the data to derive some 3rd party value?
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Re: Cloud Computing -- The Talk of the Town

Postby pselvana » Fri Aug 27, 2010 8:06 am

LoveGolf wrote: If there was a big breach, would it push people back to owning their own IT or do we just need to weather the storm for a while until the technology settles down?

I am not sure I understand your point on Immense Data -- is it that the Cloud providers can use the data to derive some 3rd party value?


Security is always a concern. Smaller companies will tend to benefit from their security provided by Cloud services because they don't have the capacity to worry about security effectively. I'd imagine owning your own IT would make sense in some Cloud scenarios but transitioning back and forth becomes costly. If you are risk adverse, your organization is better off working with the cloud partner to analyze security risks before signing up with them.

On the subject of "Immense Data", your interpretation of my point was correct. Google provides growing Gigabytes of storage because they store their data effectively. When an e-mail is sent from one gmail user to 4 others, there's only one copy of that e-mail on their servers. Likewise when you quote an e-mail. Those algorithms could have been implemented at launch but I'm sure a lot were also implemented after using the data they already had and realized could be stored effectively. I'm sure the same applies for the Advertisement algorithms that use more than just the context of each e-mail to show you ads. Google believes in live deployment of their software just before full out deployment to see it working under a real load and not a simulated one and to see if a small group of real users find any major issues before launch (i.e. invite only betas and live search deployed for a few users).
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Re: Cloud Computing -- The Talk of the Town

Postby LoveGolf » Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:03 pm

I guess i see most Cloud services as black box in nature so they should not have access to the data. This is different that ASP services like email where you can control and optimize appropriately -- to me this is not Cloud, especially as ASP is already in place pre-dating much of what is generally called Cloud (or used to be considered Utility Computing using IBM's term).

Given this site is for entrepreneurs, what do you think are the best business opportunities to explore in Cloud if you were to become a participant?
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Re: Cloud Computing -- The Talk of the Town

Postby pselvana » Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:29 pm

LoveGolf wrote:I guess i see most Cloud services as black box in nature so they should not have access to the data.
[...]

Given this site is for entrepreneurs, what do you think are the best business opportunities to explore in Cloud if you were to become a participant?


Black box is really a function of the contract you have signed with the provider. A sufficiently open contract might allow them to use your data to "optimize" their service and "reduce costs".

As an entrepreneur, I'd imagine there is a wealth of entry points depending on where you want to fit into the market. You could act as a security consultant or a consultant transitioning existing solutions into the cloud if you want to be 3rd-party provider not tied to a solution. You could provide middleware for authentication or to enable more clients through custom apps (blackberry's, iPads) if you want to act as a proponent helping other others create cloud-based solutions. You could create your own service, modify an existing one or combine two others in a novel way.

I personally believe there needs to be an intermediary step. The "household cloud" is something that needs to bridge entry into the generic cloud by allowing individuals and small groups to have their data available to them in a secure and personal manner. Not everyone is ready to give up their data and hand over security to 3rd parties quite yet. Network bandwidth within the home is much better than attaching to the cloud. Performing computation on the back-end is also something that would be useful for allowing usability on smaller lightweight clients - cellphones/netbooks/tablets/entertainment devices. Imagine a personal OnLive-like server stashed in your closet with which you can play a graphics intense game from your netbook. HP's CloudStart seems to be a similar transition tool aimed at Enterprises.

I do apologize that my comments above were not a direct response to your question. My intent was to show what is available. I firmly believe that with entrepreneurial ventures you have many options but are limited to the ones you, and a your resources, are capable of. For each entrepreneur, the opportunities are different, based on, but not limited to: scale, funding, locality, connections, timing, risk and circumstance. It's a risk after all and what's best for you may not be right for some.
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