Saturday, March 30, 2013

How Cloud Brokerage Enables a Practical Path to Cloud IT

Join us on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 from 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM EDT to explore how to use cloud brokerage to move efficiently and securely to the cloud.

More and more business and governmental agencies are migrating to the cloud but the reality is that move can often be slow, painful, and complicated.  Even expert system integrators are struggling to stay relevant and help their customers use cloud in a practical way. Challenges that siphon away time and money and introduce risk and governance issues include:

- Designing and matching different applications to the best cloud offering
- Learning to provision and integrate using phone book-sized cloud API guides
- Developing new purchasing processes and verifying complex bills from multiple cloud providers
- Combating cloud sprawl and Shadow IT
- Not having real-time visibility, predictability, and governance of cloud cost, SLAs, and utilization

Join our guests Forrester Research Principal Analyst Stefan Ried, Ph.D., and Gravitant customer, Kevin Jackson, Vice President and General Manager of Cloud Services, NJVC, as they cut through the hype associated with cloud.  Stefan will discuss how the new cloud brokerage model can address these challenges for IT organizations, and Kevin will share how Gravitant’s cloudMatrix platform enables a next generation service delivery platform for system integrators.

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How Cloud Brokerage Enables a Practical Path to Cloud IT

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( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2012)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

NJVC Cloudcuity Management Portal to Provide Secure Cloud Brokerage Services to NCOIC for NGA

CHANTILLY, Va., March 28, 2013 — NJVC® will lead efforts to provide secure cloud brokerage services to the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium using its first-to-market Cloudcuity™ Management Portal during a series of 2013 geospatial community cloud demonstrations that will  be conducted on behalf of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). NJVC’s partners are The Aerospace Corporation, The Boeing Company and Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).

Hosted through the secure Cloudcuity Management Portal, NCOIC members will have access to CloudScreen™, an automated set of evaluation tools that:

  • Determines cloud infrastructure feasibility
  • Estimates cloud infrastructure cost and benefits
  • Conducts physical capacity for cloud  translations
  • Matches application requirements to cloud provider capabilities based on features and functionality
  • Compares provider costs and quality of service

“NJVC is honored that NCOIC chose the Cloudcuity Management Portal as its brokerage of choice to offer cloud services to the geospatial community,” said Kevin L. Jackson, vice president and general manager of NJVC Cloudcuity. “This NCOIC demonstration is significant as it will represent a new procurement model for the geospatial community, which is at the frontlines of protecting and responding to national and international crises in times of conflict. Procurement of cloud services will be less complicated, making deployments to the cloud easier and more efficient than ever before.  This will benefit first responders and other non-traditional NGA users.”

Team members’ unique contributions include:

·         The Boeing Company: Open architecture GeoServices pooling through a Boeing-developed Geospatial Interoperability Dashboard through integration initially using several solutions: Ozone dashboards, OpenGeo platform and Boeing’s geospatial data server.

·         The Aerospace Corporation: An OpenStack-based cloud and a virtual organization management system patterned after the one used by the Worldwide Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid

·         OGC: Expertise to monitor, offer advice and report on the use of OGC standards throughout the demonstration period

Once feasibility is assured and providers are selected, Cloudcuity Management Portal users will leverage the integrated virtual application and data center manager services to design virtual data centers through a user-friendly console. Once the design is finalized and approved through an automated review process, virtual resources will be provisioned simultaneously, across the group of selected providers through the cloud service bus, which has application program interface connections to different cloud providers.

The Cloudcuity Management Portal also will provide advanced monitoring, consolidated billing, chargeback and policy governance to ensure provider compliance and NCOIC satisfaction.


About NJVC®
With a focus on information technology automation, NJVC® specializes in supporting highly secure, complex IT enterprises in business- and mission-critical environments, particularly for the intelligence and defense communities. We offer a wide breadth of IT and strategic solutions to our customers, ranging from strategic consulting to managed flexible services in five business areas: Cloud Services, Cyber Security, Data Center Services, IT Services and Print Solutions. We partner with our customers to support their missions with security-cleared, dedicated and talented employees ready to deploy globally. To learn more, visit

Michelle Snyder, NJVC, 703.893.7609,
Audra Capas, 5StarPR, 703.437.9301,

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( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2012)

Monday, March 25, 2013

CloudCheckr : Amazon Complexity Challenges Many Users

     A recently released infographic from CloudCheckr ( sheds quite a bit of light on the importance of expert advice when an enterprise decides to deploy to the cloud.  When AWS made Trusted Advisor free for the month of March, they took that opportunity to conduct an internal survey of their customers’ usage. CloudCheckr compared the initial scans of 400 users against a list of 125+ best practice checks. The survey was limited to users with over 10 EC2 instances. In aggregate, the users represent a total of just over 16,000 EC2 instances.

     They categorized survey results into 3 main categories: Cost, Availability, and Security; and that over 99% of their users were operating with at least one serious best practice exception. Their primary conclusion was that although cost often grabs the headlines, users suffer from a large number of availability and security issues.

     When considering availability, there were numerous serious configuration issues. Users repeatedly failed to optimally configure Auto Scaling and ELB. The failure to create sufficient EBS snapshots was an almost universal issue. When looking at security, they saw a smaller number of issues. However, the ones that did arise were very serious. Specifically, in S3, they saw nearly 1 in 5 users allowed unfettered access to their buckets through “Upload /Delete” or “Edit Permissions” set to everyone. As we explained in an earlier whitepaper, anyone using a simple bucket finder tool could locate and access these buckets.

     In short, typical Amazon Web Services users are not following relatively well know best practices when they deploy to the cloud.  This is not an indictment of the cloud computing model, but rather a realization that most cloud users can benefit greatly from the advice and support of a professional cloud deployment team. 

      Specific conclusion as provided by CloudChekr, are :

  • 96% of all users experienced at least 1 cost related exception (with many experiencing multiple exceptions).  
  • Price optimization remains a large hurdle for AWS users 
  • Nearly 98% suffered from at least 1 availability related exception. 
  • 44% of our users had at least one serious security related exception present  

Additional observations:
  •  Spot instances worry users – there is a general concern of: “what if the price spikes and my instance is terminated?” This fear exists despite the fact that spikes occur very rarely, warnings are available, and proper configuration can significantly mitigate this “surprise termination” risk.
  • It is difficult and time consuming to map the cost scenarios for purchasing reserved instances. The customers who did make this transition had cobbled together home grown spreadsheets as a way of supporting this business decision.
  • The intricacies of matching the configurations between on demand instances and reserved instances while taking into consideration autoscaling and other necessary configurations were daunting. Many felt it was not worth the effort.
  • Amazon's own process for regularly lowering the costs is a deterrent to purchasing RIs. This is especially true for RIs with a 3 year commitment. In fact, within the customers who did purchase RI, none expressed a desire to commit to 3 year commitments. All supported their refusal by referencing the regular AWS price drops and the fact that they could not accurately predict their business requirements 3 years out.

  • Users were generally surprised with the exceptions. They believed that they “had done everything right” but then realized that they underestimated the complexity of AWS.
  • Users were often unsure of exactly why something needed to be remedied. The underlying architecture of AWS continues to unfold and users are not always familiar with the latest AWS twist.
  • AWS dynamism played a large role in the number of exceptions. Users commented that they often fixed exceptions and, after a week of usage, found new exceptions had arisen.
  • Users remained very happy with the overall level of service from AWS. Despite the exceptions which diminish overall functionality, the users still found that AWS offered tremendous functionality advantages.

  • The AWS management console offered little functionality for helping with S3 security. It does not present a useful means of monitoring and controlling S3 inventory and usage. In fact, we found that most of our users were surprised when the inventory was reported. They often had 300-500% more buckets, objects and storage than they expected.
  • S3 is often an afterthought for users. EC2 commands more user attention. Users often failed to create and implement formal policies.
  • S3 cost was contributing to factor to the problems. Given the low cost, team members throw up objects and buckets at will while secure in the knowledge that they can store huge amounts of data at a minimal cost. Similarly, the low costdisincentives users to perform inventories from each region and perform an audit of objects and policies/configurations.  Since users did not know what they had stored, they could not determine the level of security.

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( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2012)