Busting the five myths of cloud computing

HP argues that virtualization is not the only step to do cloud, cloud is also for business critical applications, private cloud is not that secure, public cloud is not the cheapest and there are more than one way of doing cloud, HP in its new whitepaper tries to shed light on a few myths, which IT fraternity believes to be true. Let us see what they are:

Myth one: the public cloud is the most inexpensive way to procure IT services

HP agrees ‘public cloud is a relatively inexpensive “pay-as-you-use” model’, and that the starting price for standard on-demand instances with the Amazon EC2 Web service is less than a dime per hour based on system size, operating system, and locale. However, delivery from the public cloud is not always the cheapest than that delivered by internal IT. ‘For resources that are needed constantly, enterprises can actually reduce costs by leveraging other cloud models, such as shared resources delivered via a private cloud. In cases like this, the private cloud actually is more cost-efficient than even the pay-as-you-use public cloud model,” says the whitepaper.

Myth two: baby steps in virtualization are the only way to reach the cloud

Whereas, HP says that virtualization and cloud are mutually exclusive, and that ‘virtualized infrastructure is a strong catalyst for the next step’, however, it is just one of the ways, or ‘just – a step’, to begin. Similar to virtualization, even a private cloud brings tremendous benefits such as reducing IT complexity, significantly lowering IT costs, and enabling a more flexible and agile service delivery. ‘Even private cloud automates the underlying provisioning of infrastructure and applications and adds a convenient way for end users to request IT services. A private cloud based on shared pools of resources—resources that can be automatically tapped to meet business needs—can help IT keep up. The private cloud allows IT managers to have complete control over available assets, while adhering to the security standards required both within the cloud and in the data center. The cloud provides the agility needed to automate workflows and reduce human involvement in time-consuming but necessary tasks such as the provisioning of applications.”

Myth three: critical applications do not belong in the cloud

HP points out ‘it is one thing to relegate a few servers running test and development jobs to a cloud-based infrastructure. But delivering business applications quickly and efficiently continues to be the most important charter for IT organizations.’ Studies such as a recent one by Forbes show that IT executives are under extreme pressure to:

  • Cut infrastructure costs
  • Adjust their service levels to meet changing needs
  • Deliver applications with greater speed

IT professionals are interested in cloud computing to help them address all three of these requirements. And the same applies to their business critical applications.

Myth four: all cloud security requirements are created equally

The use of a public cloud service can provide relief from investments in hardware and software, as you pay for service delivery instead. HP points out that many IT executives are unwilling to create a system where their data resides outside of their control. Fearful of the constant growth in attack methodologies, IT executives believe that the private cloud is the answer because it keeps the cloud infrastructure on the premises, inside company firewalls, and under the direct control of the IT group. However, the whitepaper notes that private cloud model penetrable as ‘vulnerabilities exist with a connection to the Internet. There also remains the threat of insider attacks and data theft.’

Myth five: there is only one way to do cloud computing

There are several, infact, such as public and private and hybrid cloud. ‘Hybrid cloud is composed of two or more clouds (private, community, or public). These clouds remain unique entities, but they are bound together by standardized technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load-balancing between clouds),’ says the whitepaper.

Source: CIOL Bureau

A Startup Hopes to Help Computers Understand Web Pages

Diffbot aims to make it easier for apps to read Web pages the way humans do – Diffbot’s visual learning technology can identify the different items that make up Web pages, like the one shown here.

No matter what language you speak, when you look at a Web page, you can get a good idea of the purpose of the different elements on it—whether they’re images, videos, text, music, or ads. It’s not so easy for machines to do the same, though. That’s where Diffbot hopes to make a difference. The startup, based in Palo Alto, California, offers application programming interfaces that make it possible for machines to “read” the various objects that make up Web pages. This could enable a publisher to repurpose the contents of pages for a mobile app, or help a startup build a price-comparison site. The company’s efforts come at a time when some tech titans are also working to add more structure to the vast amount of data on the Web. Google, for example, recently unveiled the Knowledge Graph, an effort to identify the meaning of search queries and return relevant results, rather than simply matching the text of a query with Web pages that include the same words. But these efforts usually rely on people to help by tagging Web content to infer meaning. John Davi, Diffbot’s vice president of product, says that at its heart, the company is about taking the visual learning technology that propels self-driving cars forward on a road and applying it to Web pages.

The idea, which CEO and founder Mike Tung hatched several years ago while he was a graduate student at Stanford, has hummed along since last year. That’s when Diffbot rolled out an API capable of analyzing two types of Web pages on the basis of the URL. On article pages, Diffbot can pick out headlines, the text of articles, pictures, and tags; and on home pages, it can determine basic layout elements like headlines pictures, links to articles, and ads. By now, several thousand programmers are using it to analyze over 100 million URLs each month, Tung says. There are many more types of Web pages out there, though. The company believes there are roughly 18 main types, ranging from product and job pages to photo galleries. With a $2 million round of funding announced Thursday—its first following an earlier round of seed funding—the company plans to get moving on the 16 other types. This will involve determining what makes up pages of these types—photos, prices, and so on—and using that information to build algorithms that can process unfamiliar pages.

While Diffbot offers its API to customers for free, it charges for high levels of usage. Brad Garlinghouse, the CEO of file-sharing site YouSendIt and an investor in and advisor to Diffbot, says that while the company isn’t currently profitable, it could be without too much trouble. “They’re solving some here-and-now problems that customers are willing to pay for,” says Garlinghouse. Currently, a number of Diffbot users are media companies, including Garlinghouse’s previous employer, AOL (Diffbot powers the content aggregation behind AOL’s tablet magazine, Editions). As Davi, of Diffbot, points out, media companies often purchase publications whose online content has been created with a different content management system. Diffbot’s API can ease the process of consolidating content, he says. As the company makes it possible to analyze pages of additional types, its founders hope to see Diffbot used for things like product price comparison, photo and recipe aggregation, and more. Tung says, “It’s going to be really exciting to see what people build.”

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

How Google managed to get all your private data and got away with it

Secrets spilled across the computer screen. After months of negotiation, Johannes Caspar, a German data protection official, forced Google to show him exactly what its Street View cars had been collecting from potentially millions of his fellow citizens. Snippets of e-mails, photographs, passwords, chat messages, postings on websites and social networks – all sorts of private Internet communication – were casually scooped up as the specially-equipped cars photographed the world’s streets. “It was one of the biggest violations of data protection laws that we had ever seen,” Caspar recently recalled about that long-sought viewing in late 2010. “We were very angry.” Google might be one of the coolest and smartest companies of this or any era, but it also upsets a lot of people – competitors who argue it wields its tremendous weight unfairly, officials like Caspar who says it ignores local laws, privacy advocates who think it takes too much from its users. Just this week, European anti-trust regulators gave the company an ultimatum to change its search business or face legal consequences. American regulators may not be far behind. The high-stakes anti-trust assault, which will play out this summer behind closed doors in Brussels, might be the beginning of a tough time for Google.

But never count Google out. It is superb at getting out of trouble. Just ask Caspar or any of his counterparts around the world who tried to hold Google accountable for what one of them, the Australian communication minister Stephen Conroy, called “probably the single greatest breach in the history of privacy”. The secret Street View data collection led to inquiries in at least a dozen countries, including four in the US alone. But Google is yet to give an explanation of why the data was collected and who at the company knew about it. No regulator in the US has ever seen the information that Google’s cars gathered from the citizens. The tale of how Google escaped a full accounting for Street View illustrates not only how technology companies have outstripped the regulators, but also their complicated relationship with their adoring customers. Companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple supply new ways of communication, learning, entertainment and high-tech wizardry for the masses. They have custody of the raw material of hundreds of millions of lives – the intimate e-mails, the revealing photographs, searches for help or love or escape. People willingly, at times eagerly, surrender this information. But there is a price: the loss of control, or even knowledge, of where that personal information is going and how it is being reshaped into an online identity that may resemble the real you or may not. Privacy laws and wiretapping statutes are of little guidance, because they have not kept pace with the lightning speed of technological progress.

Source: The Economic Times

What does a cloud offer? – Cloud: What is it?

Cloud has myriad of definitions, but one thing is clear that the IT industry is largely accepting it as the next phase of service delivery. Here, we tell you what it means

Cloud, cloud computing, software-as-a-service (SaaS), platfrom-as-a-service (PaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), hosting, cloud storage, private cloud, managed cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud – there was a time when you would have drawn a blank face at the utterance of these terms. Today, they are no more aliens, and it is rare to meet someone who is closely, or even not so closely, associated with the world of information technology (IT) and has not yet come across them at some  point. Vikram Bhatia, Windows Azure Lead, Microsoft, says: “While talking to CXOs at a few medium to large enterprises about cloud, I was pleasantly surprised to see the change in the content of their concerns and queries over the last two years. Two years ago, the two most common questions I had to address were: (i) what is this “cloud” business? Isn’t that marketing jargon for hosting? And (ii) what about the security of my data?” True, cloud was a mere hype back then that not many CIOs were serious about and looked upon with caution. More so because the technology in itself was not clear, and moreover, the private/public/hybrid varieties only worsened the confusion. No, we are not getting into the private vs public vs hybrid cloud frontier. That is entirely a different game altogether, something we might take up later. For now, it is just cloud, without its prefixes and suffixes.

In an interview sometime back, Andy Jassy, senior VP, Amazon Web Services, had noted: “We find all those terms such as private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud, infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, as a kind of overloaded and confusing terms. It is often the old world IT players, who talk about it, because private cloud protects the business or margin structure that they built over the past 30 years.” The frenzy back then was such that every second company wanted to reach out to the market with its ‘cloud services’. Even today, not all the CIOs are open to the idea, however, at least most of them agree that it is indeed a new form of doing one’s business. “A year later, I saw a shift happening. It is no longer about what is the cloud, but more about what can I effectively do with the cloud. The two most common queries I get today are: (i) is the cloud worth it for me? What about my existing investments (read hardware, software licenses or in-house apps)? And (ii) How will I manage cloud-based apps? Won’t this make my environment more complex? This shift in concerns tells me that the market has matured considerably and enterprises have evolved from being skeptics to adopters,” Bhatia adds.

There was a time when every executive one spoke to would have a definition or two of the cloud, which seemed more suitable to the service that they were trying to sell than something that a user wanted to hear. However, with time this has also changed. The IT industry has come to terms with technology and has started to accept it as the next phase of IT service delivery. We would try and bring to you what it means and why not all that shines out there is a cloud. To begin with here is a simple definition of what cloud is. Pradeep Agarwal, country head – India Enterprise, Google, said: “’Cloud computing’ refers to Internet-based computing, where software and information in data centres is sent over the Internet to computers, cellphones, and other devices. This technology enables people to quickly turn on applications and innovation like a utility, instead of having to install and run their own applications. Data can be accessed from any Internet-connected device.” And to put it in a simpler form, “The cloud is a service you use, not a system you build,” says Peter Coffee, VP and head, Platform Research, salesforce.com.

And if that is also not sufficient, here is a bit from its history. “What started as “co-location” a few decades ago, i.e. shared hosting of one’s servers in a third party data centre, soon evolved into ‘hosting’, which means servers owned and managed by a third party rented out to multiple organizations for running their business applications. The next stage in the evolution was outsourcing, or better yet, total outsourcing, which moved not only the machines and software, but also human resources and services to third parties. Cloud happened in the last few years, driven primarily by the need to drive down costs further through both scale and scope, but made possible because of technologies like virtualization and remote application management,” adds Bhatia.

Source: CIOL World

SAP teams-up with Amazon Web Services – To offer customers cloud-based option for mobile device and application management

SAP AG (SAP) announced that SAP Afaria mobile device management solution is now available on Amazon Web Services (AWS) Marketplace, at Sapphire Now, being held in Orlando, Florida, May 14-16, 2012. The AWS Marketplace will feature fully configured SAP Afaria 7.0 server, which brings a new user interface, consumer-like app portal with SAP Store integration and mobile analytics dashboards for business intelligence (BI) reporting. “As the cloud rapidly becomes the IT deployment model of choice for business of all sizes, Amazon Web Services is excited to be working closely with SAP in bringing enterprise solutions to the cloud,” said Andy Jassy, senior vice president, Amazon Web Services. “Adding SAP Afaria to AWS Marketplace provides customers a fast, simple and trusted way to shop for and implement an enterprise-ready mobile solution.” SAP Afaria can be found by visiting http://aws.amazon.com/marketplace “By offering SAP Afaria on the secure, scalable AWS cloud infrastructure, we are extending our existing close relationship with AWS and making it as easy as possible for customers and partners to test and deploy the industry’s leading mobile device management solution in an economical and reliable fashion,” said Sanjay Poonen, president, Product Go-to-Market, and head of Mobile Division, SAP. “This announcement is just a sneak preview of what’s coming from SAP as we lay the ground work for long-term innovation around our comprehensive, unmatched B2B and B2C mobile platform – both on premise and in the cloud.”

Source: CIOL Bureau

Apple may attempt to push Android Tabs off market

In an attempt to counter the burgeoning number of Android Tab market, tech giant Apple is releasing an ”iPad Mini” at a loss-making price of around 150 pounds. The low priced tablet will even feature the same ”Retina” display featured on its big brother, iPad 3, bringing the same 3.1million pixels to a smaller 7-8″ display. With the screen as a premium feature, it is likely Apple would have to compromise on other parts of the tablet, such as reduced storage space of, for instance, 8GB for apps, videos and music. According to the Daily Mail, tech analysts claimed that if such a stance in adopted by Apple, the firm might have to take a serious cut to its margins, if not sell the Mini at a loss. “Considering the kind of cash Apple has on hand, though, it might be willing to take the hit just to help kill-off competition from Android tablets,” IMore was reported, as saying. However, it expected to appeal people who want an iPad for casual browsing and occasional use of apps and movies, but are not willing to shell out 400 pounds for the bigger brother.

Source: The Financial Express

Social media growth falling in India: Gartner report

India may be embracing latest technologies like mobility and cloud, but factors like privacy concerns and cultural fabric could restrain social media growth in the country as compared to other nations, a report by research firm Gartner today said. The report suggests that four significant forces that will shape businesses during the next five years are IT, mobile, cloud and social media. These pivotal technologies include the explosive use of media tablets, mobile applications, context-aware computing, Internet, analytics and in-memory computing (IMC), it added. “India is poised to become one of the world’s biggest consumer economies in the coming five years. By 2014, it is expected to have more than one billion mobile subscribers and will also see significant roll-out of new IT infrastructure in both public and private sectors,” Gartner Research VP Rakesh Kumar said. The youthful, increasingly well-educated and technically sophisticated population will drive the adoption of new technologies in the country, he said. However, the use of social media during the next five years may be at lower levels in India compared with other countries.

“Although it’s easy to see how social media could grow rapidly during the next few years, privacy concerns and the cultural fabric of the country may suggest otherwise,” Kumar said. India with over 25 million users is one of the major markets for social networking site Facebook. Apart from Google’s Orkut and professional networking site LinkedIn, there are smaller networking sites operating too. Companies, especially in sectors like FMCG, consumer durables, auto and telecom are leveraging social media to connect with consumers to get feedback. “This will lead to a further engagement of brands with customers and helps the economy as well,” he said. Besides, India has gained a substantial position for application development, maintenance, support and innovation globally and the same now needs to be used domestically. “A sense of entrepreneurship is embedded into the Indian psyche which is beginning to lead to startups exploring areas such as pattern mapping. What will now be important is that the same is deployed in the domestic market as well,” he added.

Source: The Economic Times