Monday, June 30, 2008

Yahoo (Finally!) Jumps Big Into Cloud Computing

According to The Register , the Yahoo! technology organization led by CTO Ari Balogh will now work on "developing a world-class cloud computing and storage infrastructure; rewiring Yahoo! onto common platforms; and creating a stronger partnership between product and engineering teams." Part of the Yahoo! reorganization will include the formation of a Cloud Computing & Data Infrastructure Group.

Infoworld also reported the story.

Friday, June 27, 2008

InformationWeek Cloud Computing Newsletter

InformationWeek has started a Cloud Computing Newsletter. They will be providing news and insights on this "critical IT trend". Cloud computing ranges from the software-as-a-service market to Web-based storage services such as Amazon's S3. They will report on cloud-infrastructure technologies -- including servers, storage, and virtualization -- and new data centers under construction by Google and other service providers. They will also follow the business adoption of cloud services -- why CIOs are plugging into cloud services, how they're doing it, and the ROI behind their decisions.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is Cloud Computing just a fad?

Last week I attended an IBM SOA event in Northern Virginia. While there, I was discussiing the merits of cloud computing with some interested attendees. Their key question was if cloud computing was just a fad or did it represent a disruptive change in the marketplace.

I personally believe that cloud computing is real and that this new view on infrastructure really is disruptive. To me, hardware (server and storage) virtualization technology, the virtualization of applications through SOA and the virtualization of data connectivity through ad hoc networking, makes cloud computing technology more than just a fad. While this concept isn't new, technology to implement the concept is. Besides, would IBM invest so much into such an initiative without doing some due diligence of its own?

Last year, IBM demonstrated Blue Cloud in Shanghai which was the result of an initiative from IBM’s Almaden Research Center architecture. Blue Cloud was built on Xen and PowerVM virtualized Linux and a Hadoop parallel workload scheduling. Blue Cloud was also used to adopt service oriented architecture, Web 2.0 applications and other new technology breakthroughs.

Last year in his blog, Larry Dignan, the Editor in Chief of ZDNet and Editorial Director of TechRepublic said that the big takeaway then was " The cloud is going corporate. And this enterprise relationship will be built on trust."

I trust that IBM continues to do its due diligence, and this is definitely not a fad.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Joint Warfighting Conference 08

Last week I attended the Joint Warfighting Conference 08 (JWC 08) in Virginia Beach, Va. There were approximately 5000 attendees representing military, industry, academia, and government, registered for this year's three-day conference. Titled "DoD Capabilities for the 21st Century," the goal is to reach out to all joint warfighters. I also followed the proceedings via a live blog provided by Robert Pursell of USJFCOM Public Affairs, from which I took the following comments of note:

Air Force Col. Vincent Valdespino, J6, director, Command, Control, Communications and Computer System Directorate, on future challenges:

“Gen. Mattis has challenged me personally, ‘How do you ensure that that network is available to me and robust enough to become an enabler for me and not a problem for me. To be there when I need it, to be there when I’m out there on the edge, in an AOR, in the high wind, in the high sand of southwest Asia, and that radio, that phone, that cell, that network is going to be there be robust enough for me. How do I know it’s going to be assured, and that the information on it is going to be reliable?’ These are the things that the new boss has laid out that he wants to us to worry about, that’s what I have challenged my J6 staff to take on personally and find out how we can get better at providing these kinds of things. How are we going to do it, for example in a coalition environment, not just a joint environment but a coalition environment, not just a coalition environment but a civil environment.”

Air Force Maj. Gen. David Edgington The Director of the Joint Capabilities Development Directorate (J8) on "Leader-centric, Network-enabled"

The J8 is responsible for taking industry's ideas and research and then turning them into capabilities to support the joint warfighter. The J8 is involved in joint capability requirements, joint integrated fires, and rapid capability transition.The J8 is responsible most importantly with Command and Control Capability Portfolio Management (C2 CPM).

"Command and control is the one that they issued to USJFCOM," he said. "When they assigned this they looked at who should support this. It was delegated to the J8. "

"Command and control is a human endeavor, it's beyond science and is an art. We're getting away from the term network-centric and working towards leader-centric, network-enabled," he said. "It's about the leader telling his subordinate at any level, 'here are the tools you can use, this is how you'll do this.'"

Leslie Winters (J8) on Data Strategy:

"What we're trying to do is get a hand on the portfolio activities and push them towards a C2 goal,"

Winters said her group's goal is get data and information out to the warfighter. They do this by establishing a management construct, prioritizing the C2 data sharing needs, establishing a C2 data framework, supporting implementation and measuring progress.

"You can't do C2 without all of this data," said Winters.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

IBM Opens Africa's First "Cloud Computing" Center

...... Second Cloud Center in China

"IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced the opening of new "cloud computing" centers in South Africa and China. Cloud computing enables the delivery of personal and business services from remote, centralized servers (the "cloud") that share computing resources and bandwidth -- to any device, anywhere.
The shift to cloud computing is fueled by the dramatic growth in business collaboration, connected devices, real-time data streams, and Web 2.0 applications such as streaming media and entertainment, social networking and mobile commerce. Cloud computing represents a major step up in computing -- as it enables governments, businesses and individuals to access super-computing power, analysis of massive amounts of data, and applications five to 10-times more cost effectively.*
The new centers are designed to help clients in Africa and China tackle issues they would otherwise not be able to address. For example, using IBM's new centers, a university could access the computational power of a supercomputer to analyze data and determine how diseases might spread in a region or how climate changes will affect natural resources. "

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dataline launches SOA-R: Cloud Computing for National Security Applications

Last week, Dataline (my company), in collaboration with IBM, Google, Northrop Grumman, Cisco and Great-Circle Technologies, launched an initiative aimed at integrating an end-to-end solution for secure cloud computing. Called Service Oriented Architecture – Real Time (SOA-R), the goal is to provide the benefits of cloud computing and secure ad-hoc mobility in a modular, standards-based implementation framework to public sector organizations. By exploiting the advantages of a service oriented approach, web services and interfaces specific to the national security business domain are being developed and enhanced for deployment from and interface with a cloud computing infrastructure. By doing this, Dataline, in concert with its partners, looks to provide leading edge solutions without the risk typically associated with early adoption of leading edge technologies.

Like cloud computing, SOA-R has dual meanings. Whereas cloud computing refers to both a platform and type of application, SOA-R refers to a solution framework and domain specific solutions. To help understand these twin dualities consider the following descriptions:
  • A cloud computing platform dynamically provisions, configures, reconfigures, and de-provisions servers as needed. In a SOA-R framework, the provisioning, configuring, reconfiguring and de-provisioning of servers is driven by national security domain specific rules, metrics and mission guidelines

  • Cloud applications are applications that are extended to be accessible through the Internet from large datacenters and powerful servers that host Web applications and Web services. SOA-R applications are extended to be accessible through highly secure virtual private networks (VPN) tunnels and secure private networks (e.g. NIPRnet and SIPRnet). SOA-R applications are typically composite applications, served from powerful servers, and provided through Web Services from multiple organizations and datacenters.

For more information on SOA-R, a white paper is available. A series of educational events in McLean, VA has also been scheduled.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cloud Computing Value

In The real value of Cloud Computing, ENKI hits on why cloud computing is disruptive. It's the services stupid !!

By separating enterprises from their servers and offering universal, secured, access to the servers, cloud providers bundle the computing with value-added services. This graduated outsourcing model provids application architecture expertise, highly reliable software deployment, and live site management with greatly reduced cost. The combination of scalable computing and services lowers the technological and cost barriers to entry in the web-facing application market.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Amazon's Jeff Bezos on Cloud Computing

Amazon's Jeff Bezos on Cloud Computing

How and when Amazon began its cloud computing effort.
Why Amazon has become an innovator with Amazon Web Services and how it relates to their core business of being an online retailer.
Whether or not Wall Street recognizes Amazon’s cloud efforts.
What’s next for Amazon Web Services.
Whether or not Amazon has plans for a VC fund or for cloud computing startups. (GigaOm)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dataline, IBM, Google, Northrop Grumman on Cloud Computing

My company, Dataline LLC, in cooperation with IBM, Google and Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, is sponsoring an educational series entitled "Cloud Computing in a Netcentric Environment". The series will be held at The Tower Club in McLean, VA and is designed for those interested in understanding how cloud computing and the associated technologies can be used to support national security applications. The series schedule is as follows:

What is Cloud Computing? --------------Wed, July16, 2008
Global Information Access --------------Wed, August 13, 2008
"Increased Efficiency, Reduced Cost"----Thu, September 11, 2008
Event Driven Information --------------Wed, October 8, 2008
Information Availability ----------------Wed, October 29, 2008
Mission Relevance --------------------- Wed, November 12, 2008

Registration is available at

EMC Studies Cloud Computing Security

Storage firm EMC has joined the Daoli Trusted Infrastructure Project which conducts research into "trust and assurance" in cloud computing environments.

The team's research will focus on cloud computing, trusted computing and virtualisation.

EMC is also working with China's Tsinghua University on the research of cloud computing technologies, a hot sector which is raising attention from both manufacturers and research institutions around the world.

The Cloud Computing Marketplace

For explaination and details see Understanding the Cloud Computing/SaaS/PaaS markets: a Map of the Players in the Industry by Peter Laird, Kent Dickson, and Steve Bobrowski from Oracle.
Update: Please see the September 2008 Update of this map

Monday, June 16, 2008

Key cloud computing concerns by CXO's

Key cloud computing concerns by CXO's attending the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston were addresed in a June 9th panel of executives from Google, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and A June 14th Information Week Article by Rob Preston summarized them as:

  • Security.

It's still top of mind for most customers. The vendor argument usually comes down to scale and centralized control. Few enterprises can allocate the money and resources that companies such as Amazon, Google, IBM, and Salesforce do to secure their data centers. Data stored within the cloud, the vendors argue, is inherently safer than data that inevitably ends up on scattered laptops, smartphones, and home PCs.

  • Vendor lock-in and standards.

The cloud vendors emphasize the openness and extensibility of SOAP, XMPP, and other Web services protocols. AWS's Adam Selinsky notes that the vendor's IT infrastructure services require no capital or other up-front investments, and Ross Piper of points out that Salesforce's app service customers can start with as few as five users and commit gradually.

  • Regulatory and legal compliance.

Organizations looking to move some of their data into the cloud must navigate a labyrinth of vertical (HIPAA, PCI, FERPA, etc.) and horizontal (SOX, Patriot Act, FISMA, etc.) rules on where information must be stored and how it must be accessed, especially for e-discovery, and most of those rules are open to interpretation. The cloud vendors offer no pat answers. They can't change the laws and, in seeking clarity for potential customers, they, too, get five opinions for every four lawyers they consult.
  • Reliability.

Mary Sobiechowski, CIO of health care advertising and marketing agency Sudler & Hennessey, questions whether the cloud renders the capacity for transmitting the kinds of large files typical in an agency environment. "There's bandwidth issues," she says. "We also need real fast processing."

No matter how robust their technology infrastructures are, the cloud vendors experience outages. All the major cloud vendors point to their service-level agreements, which, of course, compensate customers for service disruptions, not for lost business. In the end, their value proposition is this: Is your application, database, storage, or compute infrastructure any more reliable than theirs? And even if it's comparable, wouldn't your IT organization rather spend its time on matters that make a competitive difference instead of managing and upgrading servers, disk arrays, applications, and other software and infrastructure?

  • Total cost of ownership (or rental)

The cloud vendors make an excellent case that it's cheaper to subscribe to their services than to buy and run premises-based hardware and software. Pay no up-front costs; pay for only what you use, with the ability to scale up and down quickly; and take advantage of the vendors' huge economies of scale. AWS's storage service, for instance, costs just 15 cents per gigabyte per month. With subscription software services, the cost equation is less clear. In most cases, it's at least a wash.
  • Choice

Options grow every day. Salesforce's Web platform,, Google, Amazon, EMC, IBM, Microsoft, Sun, and other major players are ramping up a range of services, and scores of tech startups are embracing the subscription approach.
  • Long-term vendor commitment.

The cloud vendors like to compare the current IT provisioning model with the early days of electricity, when companies ran their own generators before moving to a handful of large utility providers. Northeastern University CTO Richard Mickool questions whether high-energy, high-innovation companies such as Google and Amazon will lose interest in selling commodity, electricity-like services.

The vendors insist they're in this business for the long term, and that customers are warming to the movement. Says Google's Chandra: "It's not a matter of when or if the cloud computing paradigm is coming. It's a matter of how fast." That depends on how fast vendors can assuage customers' concerns.

Friday, June 13, 2008

IBM Cloud Computing Center

On June 5th, IBM announced it will establish the first Cloud Computing Center for software companies in China, which will be situated at the new Wuxi Tai Hu New Town Science and Education Industrial Park in Wuxi, China.

The center will offer emerging Chinese software companies the ability to tap into a virtual computing environment to support their development activities. It will be established through an agreement signed today between IBM and Wuxi Tai Lake Industry Investment and Development Company.

On the same day, IBM released an updated version of IBM's Tivoli Provisioning Manager focused on allowing data centers to benefit from cloud computing, allowing them to scale more cost-effectively. IBM is now positioning TPM at the forefront of its "Blue Cloud" cloud computing initiative.

EUCALYPTUS - An Open Source Cloud Computing Platform

Elastic Utility Computing Architecture for Linking Your Programs To Useful Systems (EUCALYPTUS) is a new project that seems to be trying to put an "open source" flavor to cloud computing. Assuming relative parity between the implementation of Elastic, Utility or Cloud computing infrastructures, EUCALYPTUS is an open-source software infrastructure for implementing computing clusters and/or workstation farms. The current interface to is interface-compatible with's EC2 but the infrastructure is designed to be modified and extended so that multiple client-side interfaces can be supported.

EUCALYPTUS is implemented using commonly-available Linux tools and basic web service technology. The goal of the EUCALYPTUS project is to foster community research and development of Elastic/Utility/Cloud service implementation technologies, resource allocation strategies, service level agreement (SLA) mechanisms and policies, and usage models. The current release includes the following features:

* Interface compatibility with EC2
* Simple installation and deployment using Rocks cluster-management tools
* Simple set of extensible cloud allocation policies
* Overlay functionality requiring no modification to the target Linux environment
* Basic "Cloud Administrator" tools for system management and user accounting
* The ability to configure multiple clusters, each with private internal network addresses, into a single Cloud.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Honorable John G. Grimes Speaks about Cloud Computing

Today I had the pleasure of hearing The Honorable John G. Grimes, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Intergration and Department of Defense CIO, speak on some key current issues. Of note to this audience is three of his points on cloud computing:
  • He met with his staff yesterday on how best to deal with the cloud computing idea;
  • DoD needs to understand how best to move towards a cloud with thin clients;
  • Industry will hear more about DoD's plans for cloud comuting in the coming months.

Sounds like there is a future for cloud computing in the DoD !

Amazon leads Google into the cloud (So what else is new)

In this May 1, 2008 Globe and Mail Update article, Mathew Ingram provides an excellent comparison of Amazon and Google's cloud computing initiatives. Bottom line: Amazon leads the pack with Google a distant second.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo - What is Cloud Computing?

For some interesting views, take a look at these video interviews on what is cloud computing. These were done during the recent Web 2.0 Expo, April 22-25 in San Francisco, CA. Co-produced by TechWeb and O'Reilly Media, this is a conference and tradeshow for the rapidly growing ranks of designers and developers, product managers, entrepreneurs, VCs, marketers, and business strategists who are embracing the opportunities created by Web 2.0 technologies.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

VMware lays out roadmap to the clouds.

Earlier this year, Diane Greene, VMware President and Co-Founder, described cloud computing as the final evolutionary step for virtualization. Reza Malekzadeh, Senior Director of Products and Marketing reinforced that view at the Nordic Virtualization Conference in June 2. They both presented a five stage vision where virtualization is used first for test and development, then for server consolidation, then for infrastructure on demand, then for data center automation and finally for cloud computing.

Is this their mantra now?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Mario Dal Canto at Virtualization Conference & Expo 2008 East

According to Mario Dal Canto, "Virtual Cloud Computing represents the next wave of virtualization and offers significant market opportunities by providing a new, simpler, and much more pervasive platform for on-demand, desktop and application service delivery."

As the Chairman and CEO of XDS, Inc, a provider of universal dialtone-based virtualization technology, he obviously sees a tremendous future in cloud computing. His personal history; CEO of Cybertel; CEO of Impres; Director of Worldwide Market Development at Sun Microsystems; and the Founder and Director of Sun Italia SpA; gives him quite a bit of credibility. If you are interested in hearing more, he will be speaking at the Virtualization Conference & Expo 2008 East, in New York City, June 23-24, 2008.

Microsoft cloud fits and starts.

Microsoft's dance with cloud comuting is very puzzling.

Point 1:

The June 5th Wall Street Journal article discusses the friction between Steve Ballmer and Bill Gagtes over NetDocs, described by WSJ writer Bob Guth as " a promising effort to offer software programs such as word processing over the Internet." Sounding very similar to Google Docs, the project died because it would have eaten into Microsoft Office revenues.

Point 2:

Microsoft's plans to open up it's entire lineup of Internet services to developers under a "Cloud OS" moniker. Alternatively described as "cloud-centric" Brian Hall, general manager of Windows Live describes this effort as "A lot of the data, a lot of the apps, a lot of the interesting things are on the edge. They are on the PCs. They are on the Xboxes. They are on the phones."

Point 3:
The ongoing Microsoft/Yahoo dance which seems to be focused on search engines and ad revenue, not cloud computing at all.

If Microsoft is planning on participating in the next revolution in computing, it really needs to change it's box-centric view and get on with moving it's applications onto the network. Cloud computing is about reducing reliance on the user client, not increasing it!

You should also read Blaise Zerega's view on the matter under his blog "Did Microsoft Let Cloud Computing Slip Away"

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Gamers now have their own cloud.

Valve, a Bellevue, Washington based entertainment software and technology company, recently announced that they will use the cloud computing paradigm as their next major update. Called "Steam Cloud" the service will allow gamers to store not only their profiles and key bindings online, but also all of their savegames created through Steamworks-supported applications.
Steam has had 114 client updates since their launch in 2003, but the biggest one is yet to come. Steam Cloud is Valve’s plan to further engage PC gamers with their games, and this is one more step to Steam becoming the core of the PC gaming experience.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Is IBM serious about cloud computing?

Last week in Eye on the Enterprise, Joe McKendrick, highlighted IBM VP Steve Mills' apparently less than enthusiastic statement regarding cloud computing. In an April 30th interview with CNET’s Dan Farber, Steve Mills said:

"The cloud as some amorphous concept that meets all needs and requirements is science fiction."

Mr. McKendrick sees this as evidence of IBM's long history of competing with itself. Personally, I believe that IBM is just being coy about it's intentions. To support my point, I refer you to Mr. Mills' statements on March 19th regarding the IBM European Cloud Computing Hub:

"Our investments in cloud computing are a prime example of how IBM is seeking out emerging global market opportunities and new computing models that benefit IBM clients," said Steve Mills, Senior Vice President and Group Executive, IBM Software Group. "Through this new facility and the cloud computing model, the wealth of talent at IBM's software lab in Ireland will be accessible to not only the rest of Europe, but Africa and the Middle East as well."

Cloud computing is good for IBM hardware and IBM software. Trust me. IBM will continue to be a leader to the cloud computing revolution.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

VMware and Cloud Computing

VMware President and Chief Executive Officer Diane Greene,in her keynote address at the JP Morgan Technology Conference in Boston, described cloud computing as the final evolutionary step for virtualization.

In her view, cloud computing starts with workloads being assigned to connections, software and services, which are accessed over a network of servers and connections in various locations, collectively known as “the cloud.” Using a thin client or other access point, like an iPhone or laptop, users can access the cloud for resources on demand. The evolutionary steps are:

  1. Users deploy virtual machines (VMs) for testing and development;
  2. VMs are then employed for server consolidation in production environments;
  3. Datacenter resources are then aggregated, virtualizing the entire center;
  4. Automation of all aggregated workloads; and finally
  5. Datacenter are finally seen as virtual resources of the "cloud"

Monday, June 2, 2008

DISA Cloud Computing Plans

During last month's Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Partnership Conference, cloud computing debuted as a "top priority" for senior leadership. Speakers described a future state when users would access computing time from DISA’s "cloud" to run applications without requiring access to a traditional server. John Garing, DISA CIO, said that the Government is looking to only pay for usage. Cloud computing and virtualization were identified as growing business segments and have quickly been adopted by DISA leadership as a service to DoD customers. Led by DISA’s Computing Services unit this new service will provide military users a faster, cheaper source to run applications in an on-demand environment. Called the Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE) this "cloud" will give warfighters the ability to configure, order and access a server on the network in less than 24 hours.

While I applaud DISA on their rapid adoption of the cloud concept, I am very concerned about their apparent implemetation path. Unless I'm reading this wrong, DISA is focused on deploying a quicker, easier and less expensive model for providing warfigher access to server hardware and storage. If so, I believe they are missing a very key point. Cloud computing is about providing quick, easy and less expensive access to information. To accomplish this, DISA must also provide web services and the means to effectively consume the information provided by those services.

What makes the Google and Amazon clouds worthwhile is their ability to manipulate information. Server hardware and storage aren't even in the discussion.

Read more about DISA's plans in the INPUT article 2008 DISA Partnership Conference - Spotlight on DISA’s Strategic Vision and the Resulting Programs