Posts Tagged ‘cloud computing’

Three Steps to Build a More Agile Infrastructure

The new cloud computing model can help transform your approach to infrastructure in fundamental ways. However, with such vast opportunities within the cloud, it may be difficult to determine a starting point.Cloud Computing - Datacenter 2

The Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform Team has a three step process they blogged about last week which is worth a look, in pursuit of the goal of Agile infrastructure:

1. Rethink your traditional manual approaches in the datacenter.

One way to make your infrastructure run smoother is to reduce the manual processes for network management. The main objective when looking at your current on-premises infrastructure is to determine where your existing processes are lacking. To get the most out of the cloud it is best to identify one or two areas where you want to effect change the most, then explore how software-defined approaches could get you optimal results. Discovering ways to standardize, streamline, automate and simplify across your organizations usual processes will allow you to benefit the most.

2. Get past the more flexible and simplistic objections to the cloud.

Many organizations have a list of reasons why they feel cloud computing shouldn’t be a part of their infrastructure strategy, many of which are compliance requirements and regulatory hurdles. Your organization is probably already using many SaaS applications, using Azure Trust Center as a resource for answering any security or compliance questions is a great place to start. Cloud storage is a great starting point; you can begin moving infrequently accessed data in order to free up space on-premises.

3. Identify where the cloud will bring you the strong benefits.

There isn’t one right answer as to why you should shift your infrastructure to the cloud. If you know in advance how much scale you need or that you need significant scale, cloud deployment makes a lot of sense. If your business has developed applications that support a new line of business where the demand isn’t easily predicted you can take advantage of cloud scale on-demand instead of investing in a lot of infrastructure right off the bat. Cloud is a great solution for applications with predictable spikes in demand that would otherwise put a lot of pressure on your existing infrastructure.

Each step can allow your organization to increase efficiency, reduce costs and still allow you to have money left in your budget to make your infrastructure a competitive advantage.

To read the original article, click  here.

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Top 10 Hottest Enterprise Apps of 2013

Many people have associated apps created for mobile devices and tablets with solving the entertainment needs of consumers ie- gaming, social media usage etc. But as the app marketplace grows, organizations around the world have begun to create business oriented platforms that have proven to significantly increase business efficiency. With this in mind, Salesforce compiled a list of their top 10 hottest enterprise mobile apps for 2013. Here is that list with a brief description of their functionality and links to their websites if you would like to learn more.

Apttus – Quoting solution that allows users to quickly configure price and quotes for any product or service.

DocuSign – Allows users to quickly sign and send any document type straight from a mobile device or tablet.

Concur – Tracks travel and expense costs associated with business trips in an easy to use application.   

ServiceMax – A mobile and collaborative field service management software

Bracket Labs – Distributed, through the Salesforce App Exchange, this organization developed apps that share items such as marketing campaign calendars and shared to-do lists.  

Sylpheo – Enables sales people to make more phone calls and organize contact information easier.

Taptera – Allows for more seamless IT integration and security with syncing personal tablets with internal systems

Xactly –  A program designed to build, manage and audit sales compensation programs.

Geopointe – An integration of Force.com with Google maps, MapQuest and other geo-technologies. It is the top map app provider on Force.com

FinancialForce.com – Builds cloud applications for Salesforce CRM such as cloud accounting software, billing, online accounting, professional services and more.

 

Courtesy of: http://blogs.salesforce.com/company/2013/09/salesforce-enterprise-apps.html?d=70130000000tP4L

 

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Windows Server 2012 R2 and Storage Management

Microsoft-logo-2012-290x230Microsoft recently provided a glimpse into its next generation Windows Server at this month’s TechEd Conference. The previous release, WS 2012, was full of new features and Microsoft seems to be continuing this trend of innovation with WS 2012 R2 that promises further enhancements to storage management. Here are some of the new features:

Native tiered storage – The idea behind this feature is that if an administrator adds both solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs) to a storage space, the storage space will automatically differentiate between the two types greatly boosting read performance on Windows servers.

Write-back caching – Write operations can be cached to an SSD and then later written to HDD storage which will help overall storage performance.

Fault tolerance – New fault tolerance options are available as well as a dual parity option and an option in the New Virtual Disk Wizard to create a three-way mirror.

Data deduplication – Support of running virtual machines (VMs) on deduplicated storage. In a demo shown during the opening keynote at TechEd, five VMs were booted from non-deduplicated storage while an identical set of VMs were booted from deduplicated storage. The VMs booting from deduplicated storage booted in less than half the amount of time than their counterparts.

 

To read the original article visit: http://bit.ly/13aCHIE

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What is your Disaster Recovery Plan?

RecoveryAs data centers continue to grow in complexity and frequency of use, organizations have to begin to prepare more robust disaster recovery plans. Many administrators are turning to a cloud and virtualization solution to create a more agile environment. Having a well-laid out disaster recovery plan can save time, management overhead and all-important costs associated with extended periods of outages. The following list of disaster recovery solutions was created by Bill Kleyman, cloud and virtualization architect at MTM Technologies:

Cloud for replication: Site-to-site replication has become easier with cloud technologies. Whether its virtual machines, entire databases, or specific data points; organizations are now more capable of replicating their environments. Cloud computing has also made disaster recovery more financially feasible because the organization can dictate exactly how much downtime you can tolerate and where the costs break even.

Virtualization as a mechanism for backup and recovery: It is much easier to recover a virtual machine than a physical one. By implementing virtualization-ready backup strategies organizations are able to keep their data centers more agile.

Using software defined technologies: Software defined platforms can range from networking equipment to security appliances. The idea is to create an agile environment where various virtual networking instances can be deployed. For the end user, the transition is almost transparent. For the IT administrator, this means less downtime and faster recovery.

IaaS or “Data Center On-Demand”:  In a disaster scenario, the need to recover data is essential. Cloud computing and virtualization can allow administrators to create active/active or active/passive IaaS solutions which can be very cost effective. The point behind an on-demand platform is the flexibility that it provides.  

To read more about disaster recovery plans with cloud and virtualization, read Bill Kleyman’s article in its entirety by visiting the link below:

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2013/01/29/leveraging-cloud-virtualization-disaster-recovery/

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One in three mission critical apps currently in the cloud

SailPoint, conducted its Market Pulse Survey for 2012 and provided some interesting insight to cloud based technologies and opinions amongst IT executives. Here are some of the highlights:

Respondents to the survey believe 1 in 3 mission critical apps (focused on storage, file-sharing and communications) is currently hosted in the cloud. They also indicated they expect this number to rise to 1 in 2 mission critical apps being cloud based in the next three years.

Researchers asked the respondents to indicate the troubles they perceive with moving to the cloud. Security was the top concern coming in at 73%, with compliance (56%) and uptime and performance (48%) following second and third. With security top of mind for IT executives, it is understandable that they ranked this need a number one priority when selecting both cloud and non-cloud providers.

A third of those polled indicated that they access their company’s cloud system on a mobile device (35%). This research indicates that business users are utilizing their mobile devices for a broader range of activities than ever before. Societal trends lead researchers to conclude that we should expect to see a continued convergence of cloud and mobile over the next few years.

To read the article and research documents in their entirety, please click on the link below:

http://www.cloudcomputing-news.net/news/2012/dec/12/one-three-mission-critical-apps-currently-cloud-says-survey/

 

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Mother Nature and The Data Center

Lower Manhattan October 2012

Datagram is a hosting services provider with primary faculties in lower Manhattan.  They host clients like Gawker, Buzzfeed, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Mediate, and others.  According to an official statement, released on the Datagram website October 29, 2012, “Datagram had thoroughly tested its emergency systems at 33 Whitehall, NYC and was fully staffed awaiting the storm to hit Manhattan’s shores. Once ConEd lost power to Lower Manhattan, Datagram’s emergency systems kicked on maintaining power to Datagram’s datacenter. Unfortunately, within a couple hours of the storm hitting Manhattan’s shores, the building’s entire basement, which houses the building’s fuel tank pumps and sub pumps, was inundated with water taking the building generator system offline – essentially shutting down the entire building.”

In today’s cloud world, does it really make sense to have mission critical infrastructure so close to the sea?  Lower  Manhattan had flooding last year during Hurricane Irene as well.  Guys, please!  Common sense time.

Though I am biased, Phoenix is got to be one of the more optimal places to build data centers.

 

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The Last NASA Mainframe Gets Its Plug Pulled

 

From NASA’s CIO Linda Cureton:

“This month marks the end of an era in NASA computing. Marshall Space Flight Center powered down NASA’s last mainframe, the IBM Z9 Mainframe. For my millennial readers, I suppose that I should define what a mainframe is. Well, that’s easier said than done, but here goes — It’s a big computer that is known for being reliable, highly available, secure, and powerful. They are best suited for applications that are more transaction oriented and require a lot of input/output – that is, writing or reading from data storage devices.

They’re really not so bad honestly, and they have their place. Things like virtual machines, hypervisors, thin clients, and swapping are all old hat to the mainframe generation though they are new to the current generation of cyber youths…But all things must change.”

Insert her sigh here..

Read more at: http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/NASA-CIO-Blog/posts/post_1329017818806.html

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Cloud Jobs 2012 – Winners and Losers

There’s a lot of talk in the media lately about Cloud Computing as a driver of employment in the US.  [See this pieces by fox business below.]  A word of warning about this analysis.  While the writer here claims “11 cloud computing companies added 80,000 jobs in the U.S. in 2010, and the employment growth rate at these organizations was almost five times that of the high-tech sector overall,” the writer does not appear to allow for analysis of what jobs may be lost in the process.  A major driver of cloud is the unburdening of infrastructure duties from local teams working behind the firewall.  Those are jobs that may not be preserved as we go through this huge transition to shared public infrastructure for more and more important applications.  They call it creative destruction of a reason.  So watch where you step.

 

Cloud computing has the potential to become a greater generator of jobs in the U.S. than the Internet was in its early years, a new study says. In addition to creating very large business opportunities and hundreds of thousands of new jobs, cloud services could also save U.S. businesses billions of dollars. The driving forces are the proliferation of mobile devices, swelling social media usage and the emergence of “Big Data,” the study found.

The study, sponsored by enterprise software giant SAP, looked at the trends and indicators supporting the growth of cloud services and the ways cloud computing may create jobs. It found that 11 cloud computing companies added 80,000 jobs in the U.S. in 2010, and the employment growth rate at these organizations was almost five times that of the high-tech sector overall.

Companies selling those cloud services are projected to grow revenues by an average of $20 billion per year for the next five years, which has the potential to generate as many as 472,000 jobs in the U.S. and abroad in the next five years.

 

 

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Some really poor password choices…

For better or worse, passwords are the basis of much of the security we use in the cloud.

SplashData put out there “worst password of 2011” report, based on a blind review of their database of common passwords.  If you use any of these on any accounts you wish to protect, clearly a good idea to think about changing them soon.

  • password
  • 123456
  • 12345678
  • qwerty
  • abc123
  • monkey
  • 1234567
  • letmein
  • trustno1
  • dragon
  • baseball
  • 111111
  • iloveyou
  • master
  • sunshine
  • ashley
  • bailey
  • passw0rd
  • shadow
  • 123123
  • 654321
  • superman
  • qazwsx
  • michael
  • football

A few simple guidelines for good passwords, from around the web:

  • Use at least eight characters
  • Use a random mixture of characters, upper and lower case, numbers, punctuation, spaces and symbols.
  • Don’t use a word found in any dictionary, English or foreign.

 

Stuff that just doesn’t work well, at least not anymore, because common hacker tools know them well:

  • Don’t merely add a single digit or symbol before or after a word. e.g. “password1″
  • Don’t double a single word. e.g. “kittykitty”
  • Don’t just reverse a word. e.g. “drowssap”, or just remove the vowels. e.g. “psswrd”
  • Avoid Keyboard sequences that can easily be repeated. e.g. “qwerty”,”zxcvf” etc.
  • Don’t garble letters into numbers as the only thing between you and the dictionary, e.g. converting e to 3, L or i to 1, o to 0. as in “z3r0-10v3″

Read more about the Splashdata report in full here: http://splashdata.com/splashid/worst-passwords/index.htm

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Cyber Security Gets the DOD Cloud Treatment

eWeek.com did a nice piece, quoting extensively from recent NSA public statements, on how both cloud and data security strategies in general are starting to move into extended pilot modes.  Here is a link to the General’s presentation - below is an except from the eWeek summary.

 

U.S. Counts on the Cloud to Boost Cyber–Security

 By: Fahmida Y. Rashid, eWeek.com

Army Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency (NSA), discussed the cloud and how to defend against increasingly sophisticated cyber-threats at a recent Information Systems Security Association conference in Baltimore and in a follow-up interview with eWEEK. As commander of U.S. Cyber Command, he also discussed rules of engagement for the military in cyberspace.

The cloud is a key part of the intelligence community’s IT strategy, Alexander said, because cloud computing gives defense and intelligence agencies more visibility over hackers who are trying to breach government networks.

Within the NSA and Department of Defense (DoD), there are more than 7 million pieces of IT infrastructure and systems and 15,000 different network enclaves, according to numbers provided by the general. With each enclave protected by its own firewall, network administrators have little to no insight into what is happening in isolated and segmented networks, he said.

“Collapsing the enclaves” would provide administrators with a better end-to-end view of their networks and situational awareness, said Alexander. He added that it’s not a perfect solution, but “it is more defensible.”

In a pilot program, the NSA has reduced the number of applications it is running from 5,000 to 250 cloud applications and slashed the number of help desks from 900 to 450, according to Alexander. The agency plans to keep shrinking the infrastructure to just two help desks and 20 data centers, as well as adopt more open-source software, he said, noting that the military is already using Apache Hadoop and OpenStack.

Read the full piece here.

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