Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dynamic IT

CIO Magazine just surveyed 173 IT business leaders to gauge what the common attitudes are towards cloud computing in the enterprise. 58 percent indicated that cloud computing will dramatically change the IT business, and 47 percent said they are already using it. On the other side, 18 percent think that cloud computing is a fad. survey

CIO used the broad definition of cloud computing: "a style of computing where massively scalable IT-related capabilities are provided 'as a service' using Internet technologies to multiple external customers". Other terms used are "on-demand services", "cloud services", "Software-as-a-Service".

The survey confirmed that cloud computing is a solution to the need for flexibility in IT resource management. IT needs flexibility and cost savings, but is unwilling to jump in with both feet until some lingering concerns are addressed: the top concern being security.

Cloud computing will be used in many pilot/proof-of-concept projects by the incumbents, and it will be experimented with as full blown business models by a growing cadre of start-ups. We have described this many times in this blog that the cloud computing model will be driven by the small and medium business segment because they value cost savings over security or SLAs. And typically with technologies that offer dramatic cost savings, when successful, there will be carnage among the companies that are holding on too tightly to old fashioned business models.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bluehouse is in public beta

IBM announced cloud computing applications at Lotusphere in January of this year. A service called Bluehouse is a web-delivered social networking and collaboration service targeted to the SMB market. Bluehouse enables people to share documents, projects, and contacts, and offers online conferencing features as well. The Bluehouse service has gone into public beta.

Willy Chiu, VP at IBM of High Performance On-Demand Solutions stated: "We are moving our clients, the industry and even IBM itself to have a mixture of data and applications that live in the data centre and in the cloud." IBM's approach is to expand its cloud computing offerings through a 'four-pronged strategy':

  • Deliver a home spun set of cloud services

  • Enable ISVs to design and build cloud services

  • Help customers integrate cloud services into their business

  • Sell cloud computing infrastructure to businesses for on-premise deployments

  • In addition to Bluehouse, IBM is also rolling out a handful of web services. Policy Tester On-Demand will automate the scanning of web content to ensure that it complies with industry legislation, and AppScan On-Demand will scan web applications for security bugs. Sean Poulley, VP of Online Collaboration Services compared the Bluehouse tools to those of Microsoft and Google: "Whereas Microsoft is document centric and Google is email centric, our solution is a mixture of both".

    IBM's $400M investment in a new data center to support this new mid-market SaaS/Cloud Computing services portfolio, brings another large player into the mix. These tools have been a long time coming but with every major brand now on-line, the branding wars can begin.

    Thursday, October 2, 2008

    Windows Server on Amazon EC2

    As soon as I finished yesterday's blog entry, I became aware of a posting by Amazon's CTO, Werner Vogels, where he announces that Microsoft's Windows Server is available on Amazon EC2. According to Vogels: "we can now run the majority of popular software systems in the cloud". So there you have it, both Amazon and Microsoft are/will be offering Windows based applications in the cloud.

    According the Vogels' blog the area that accelerated to adoption of this functionality in Amazon's Elastic Cloud was the entertainment industry due to the wide range of excellent codecs available for Windows. Here is the power of Microsoft's dominance of the client side translating into a huge benefit for cloud adoption. With 20-20 hindsight, the benefit of quality codecs is now obvious, and it will drive very quick adoption of Windows in the Cloud. Content apparently is still king and thus the conduit that delivers it is a critical component. Turns out that Microsoft does have an unfair advantage in the Cloud space.

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    Red Dog and Windows Cloud: Microsoft is coming!

    Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference 2008 makes it clear that the nature of software development is radically changing. Microsoft, as no other vendor, has always recognized that the riches of the platform are directly proportional to the number of good developers that work on your platform. As such, Microsoft has always had absolutely fantastic development tools for all aspects and segments of the IT workload. Typically, they are not leading with technologies, but they sure know how to package and disseminate technology when it is ready. The C/C++ compilers are one example, Active Server Pages and C# are others.

    Enter HPC, cluster, and cloud computing: so far this has been driven by Linux mainly because there have been no commercial offerings that solve the problem of pedal-to-the-metal applications that need tight integration with the underlying hardware and operating system services such as memory, communication stacks and I/O.

    For a decade now, Google has blazed the way with web-scale hardware and software infrastructures that are showing their true value. And now Amazon Web Services is also offering an IT-for-rent model that is perfect for web based services. Detrimental to Microsoft, Google and Amazon Web Services do not enable any Microsoft application software, operating systems, development tools, or even web services. Clearly, this is moving momentum away from the Microsoft universe and they have to counter to stay relevant.

    Red Dog appears to be the first salvo across developers bows that Microsoft is coming. Red Dog is Microsoft's IT-for-rent story, as an answer to Linux centric Amazon Web Services. The second shot is dubbed "Windows Cloud". It is a development environment for Internet-based applications, as an answer to Python centric Google Gears.

    Given Microsoft's track record to build very productive development environments that have the hearts of most internal IT shops, I am confident that this will accelerate the Cloud Computing adoption in the mid-market.