Friday, October 31, 2008

Government still wary of cloud computing

Federal News Radio interviewed Ron Markezich, a corporate vice president of Microsoft, Mike Bradshaw, president of Google federal, and Michael Farber, a partner with Booz Allen on the government's approach to cloud computing. Key comments:
  • Michael Farber - many agencies understand this approach, but few have figured out the best way.
  • Ron Markezich - Agencies need to understand how the cloud could fit into their architecture. The focus must be on the benefits.
  • Mike Bradshaw - The consumer model is less expensive than other models because you don't have to focus as much on the infrastructure.
You can download Jason Miller's report to hear the entire interview.
To learn more about cloud computing in the Federal space, sign up for CloudCamp Federal, Nov 12, 2008, 3-9 pm in Chantilly, VA.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Microsoft Azure

With the announcement of Azure, Microsoft has finally made it's cloud computing plans public. Maybe Larry Ellison is now ready to revise his opinion, huh? While this announcement is definitely a good thing, it also seems to be a defensive move on the software giant's part. In a USA Today article "Ray Valdes, an analyst at researcher Gartner, said that Microsoft's Web services strategy still isn't cohesive. It's "taking every major asset of intellectual property, and cloud-enabling it to some degree."

Key components of the Azure Services Platform include:

  • Windows Azure for service hosting and management, low-level scalable storage, computation and networking;
  • Microsoft SQL Services for a wide range of database services and reporting;
  • Microsoft .NET Services which are service-based implementations of familiar .NET Framework concepts such as workflow and access control;
  • Live Services for a consistent way for users to store, share and synchronize documents, photos, files and information across their PCs, phones, PC applications and Web sites;
  • Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services for business content, collaboration and rapid solution development in the cloud.

When this is coupled with Amazon's October 1st announcement to host Microsoft solutions on its EC2 platform, one can only wonder how long it will take before agencies just stop buying licenses and paying for maintenance on these products.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Federal Grants from the Cloud

In case you mised it, the Department of Interior has announced that it plans to build a cloud computing platform to manage the processing and distributing of government grants.

" is re-aligning its business efforts to allow it to focus principally on its core business
This means that will no longer be in the ownership and management of IT
As a consequence, anticipates pursuing the acquisition of a "cloud computing" environment to include but not limited to service-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capability to fulfill its mission needs."

In a requirement description, the agency also clearly outlined its requirements.

"From a mission perspective, a cloud computing environment possessing the follow capabilities would be considered as a viable candidate to establish a relationship with

  • An established capability (technology and staff) to develop (with business rules), test, deploy, host, manage, and maintain forms on a single integrated technological environment (minimizing development & deployment costs, & allowing for rapid forms deployment)
    Delivers a compelling user experience
  • Built-in Scalability (up and down on demand), Reliability, and Security
  • Built-in integration with web services and databases (maximum leveraging of existing software & third-party web services)
  • Supports applicant collaboration (particularly in fellowship & complex/multi-project settings to meet applicant and grantor expectations)
  • Deep application instrumentation (to allow for highly granular analysis of user activities to enable future cost recovery models for grantors based on system usage vice flat or subscription fees)
  • Supports existing grantor and applicant system-to-system connectivity within the federal grants community
  • Ability to advise on forms development & management oversight to minimize duplication

Budget pressues are sure to make this route a popular option for many agencies.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 : Let it rise

This week, The Economist provides an insightful special report on cloud computing.

"Computing is fast becoming a “cloud”—a collection of disembodied services accessible from anywhere and detached from the underlying hardware. The chances are that much of business and everyday computing will one day be mediated by this ethereal cloud."

I highly recommend the report as it presents an excellent case for disruptive nature of cloud computing.

"In the years to come companies are likely to venture much farther. For one, operators of computing clouds such as Amazon and Google have shown that this is a far more efficient way of running IT systems. Secondly, many firms will find they have no choice. The way in which their IT infrastructure has grown is proving unsustainable. Most corporate data centres today are complex warrens of underused hardware that require more and more people, space and power to keep them going. The current economic malaise will increase the pressure on companies to become more efficient. More has to be done with less, which is cloud computing’s main promise."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Some More Cloud Computing Survey Results

As promised, here are some more results from the MIT/"Cloud Musings" on-line survey!

Please remember, THIS IS NOT A SCIENTIFIC SURVEY !! The purpose is only to get a sense of the government cloud computing marketplace.

Total responses - 121

Type of Respondent Organization
Federal Government - 41%
Industry - 37%
State/Local Government - 20%
Educational Institution - 2%

Familiarity with Cloud Computing
Somewhat familiar - 63%
Not at all - 21%
Very familiar - 17%

Geographic Distribution
North East - 41%
North Central - 17%
West - 15%
Southeast - 9%
South Central - 9%

Challenges to address with Cloud Computing
Capital Budget Limitations - 24%
Storage Limitations - 15%
Event driven information requirements - 13%
Ubiquitous information access - 13%
Composite application requirements (Mash-ups) - 10%
Data center limitations-  9%
Operational spikes exceed IT infrastructure capacity - 9%
Other - 7%

Main Concern
Security - 54%
Finance/Budget - 12%
Unfamiliar with technology - 12%
Access - 8%
Adoption by organization - 8%
Contracting vehicle - 4%
Use with existing grid - 4%

This is just a snapshot, but there are a few take-aways:
  • The federal government is definitely interested in cloud computing technology. State agencies are exploring the possibilities as well
  • 21% of the respondents knew nothing about cloud computing.
  • Respondents were concentrated in the northeast US.
  • Capital budget limitations is the leading driver of interest in cloud computing
  • Security is the main concern

Friday, October 24, 2008

Steve Ballmer comments on Microsoft's cloud plans

On October 17th in the "Redmond Channel Partner Online", a Microsoft Partner community publication, Kurt Mackie reported on Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer's comments on the company's vision for syncing up applications in the Internet cloud. Although Ballmer held back on much of the details he did say that Microsoft is planning to release big news on this topic at its Professional Developers Conference, which is scheduled to take place on Oct. 27 in Los Angeles.

According to Ballmer, Microsoft's applications will not have to be rewritten to run in the cloud, "but we'll encourage developers to do something to make apps more manageable at a higher level,".

"It's a transformation for our business, but I don't think we'll be buying all of the world's data servers," he said. Instead, Microsoft will have to "service-enable our partners and customers."

Ballmer also denied that Google was Microsoft's most significant competition. He said that Microsoft's main challenges are the open source business model and getting good at advertising for the consumer market.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why the Cloud? Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination

So why is the intelligence community so interested in cloud computing? Three letters: PED (Processing, Exploitation, Dissemination). Take these two real life examples from the publishing industry.

Jim Staten of Forrester Research provided an example of how the New York Times leverage the cloud. The Times wanted to makes its historic archives available for online access. They needed to process 11 million articles and turn them into .pdf files. Initial estimates outlined that hundreds of servers and about 4 Tb of storage would be necessary. The IT organization at the Times estimated a months-long delay before beginning, the need for a significant budget and highlighted the difficulty of locating the computing resources. The project manager give Amazon Web Services a try and kicked off 100 EC2 instances and 4 terabytes of S3 storage. The job was finished the next day with a total cost of $240.

Another hard example comes from the Washington Post. Peter Harkins, a Senior Engineer at The Washington Post, used the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to launch 200 server instances to process 17,481 pages of non-searchable PDF images into a searchable online library. With a processing speed of approximately 60 seconds per page, job was completed within nine hours and provided web portal access to the public 26 hours later. Harkins ruminates, “EC2 made it possible for this project to happen at the speed of breaking news. I used 1,407 hours of virtual machine time for a final expense of $144.62. The database of Hillary Clinton’s 1993-2001 Schedule is publicly available at:

Examples like this show how cloud computing techniques can be used to revolutionize PED processes. By increasing the use of automation and focusing our analyst on higher level exploitation tasks, near-real time exploitation and dissemination of critical intelligence products may be enabled in the very near term with cloud computing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Summit of Cloud Computing: "Enterprise Cloud Computing" work group

To leverage attendees of the World Summit of Cloud Computing, a kick-off meeting of the "Enterprise Cloud Computing" work group will be held near Tel Aviv, Israel on December 3, 2008. The stated goal of this meeting will be to exchange information about best practices, use cases, standardizations, success stories, emerging technologies, and issues in Enterprise Cloud Computing.

This clearly is a grass roots attempt towards creating a framework to facilitate the future global movement towards Cloud Computing. As put by Avner Algom of the Israeli Association of Grid Technologies:

"The rapid growth of this technology will require a trusted source of objective information to enable enterprises to understand the opportunities and risks in this area. An Enterprise Cloud Computing Group can play this role and provide value to both vendors and customers."

Bob Marcus of the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium is supporting this effort by providing questions on key issues from many enterprise and government representatives. According to Mr. Marcus, current areas of interest to NCOIC members include:

  • Security of applications and data in public Clouds
  • Availability, risk management, and SLAs for public Clouds
  • Interoperability between public Clouds and enterprise systems
  • Management and governance of services across public Clouds and the enterprise
  • Best practices for migrating appropriate applications to Cloud environments
  • Use cases and patterns for Cloud deployments

According to Mr. Algom, he has already receive intent interest from many groups. So far, he is expecting participation from the following organizations:

  • 451 Group
  • Forrester
  • BMC Software
  • Sun
  • Amazon
  • IBM
  • Cohesiveft

By the way, the summit has collected quite an impressive list of speakers, including:

  • Cristophe Bisciglia, Senior Software Engineer, Google
  • Paul Strong, Distinguished Research Scientist, eBay
  • Simone Brunozzi, Web Services Evangelist, Amazon Web Services
  • Dr. Owen O'Malley, Hadoop Architect and Apache VP for Hadoop, Yahoo
  • Charles Brett, Principal Analyst, Forrester
  • Nati Shalom, Founder & CTO, GigaSpaces
  • Peter Nickolov, President, COO and CTO, 3Tera
  • Russ Daniels, Vice-President & CTOHP Cloud Services Strategy, HP
  • Jon Mountjoy, Developer Relations Manager ,
  • Richard Zippel, Vice President of Technology in the Chief Technologist's Office, Sun Microsystems

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cloud Package Management

In his post "Missing in the Cloud: package management", Dave Rosenberg highlights a critical issue in the adoption of cloud computing by government agencies.

"I dare say that a standard needs to be introduced--or at least a quasi-standard like we see for Linux with Yum, RPM and Synaptic (essentially flavors of the same ideal.)

Since Amazon doesn't currently offer this feature, I wonder what vendor will step in to fill this void. So far all the Cloud app guys have taken different approaches which will certainly introduce some additional complexity related to portability (which also needs to be standardized.)"

There was, in fact, quite a bit of feedback on this in the MIT Cloud Computing Survey.

Matthew Small from Rightscale agrees and puts it this way:

"It's a lot of work. Our ServerTemplate model has abstracted the configuration of the server from the base image that must be launched in the host. This provides for interoperability on public and private clouds. My assumption is that eventually there will be a standard "cloud computing unit" of measurement, but every host and vendor now has their own way of doing things and I don't expect that to stop."

"An IT architect at a large IT services company" had the following opinion on interoperability between cloud and enterprise systems:

"The handwriting is on the wall: the cloud will win. The economics are absurdly on the side of the cloud. But as enterprise architects mull things over, they'll want some backup or an alternative in the case one of their cloud providers goes down. If the payroll system is down on Tuesday, who cares? But if it's down on Friday, the enterprise will have a revolt on its hands. (And payroll has long been outsourced.) Right now no two cloud offerings are alike, so anyone indulging in the cloud is instantly locked into a vendor. For the cloud to truly create commodity computing, there must be standards. Standards that are coordinated and define various levels of service and what the interfaces look like (why can't they appear as services?) etc. This will be a hideously complex undertaking but the market will force it so that service consumers will have choice. Otherwise there is no true competition. I see this taking years, and the market will in large measure determine whose approach defines the standard. (Remember ISO OSI? It was all the rage way back when, but TCP/IP buried it in the dust via sheer force of market presence.)"

Bob Marcus and the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC) are currently addressing their member concerns through discussions around the following topics:

Standardizations Needed

  • APIs between Cloud layers (e.g. PaaS and IaaS)
  • Interoperability across Clouds
  • Interoperability between public Clouds and enterprise systems

Implementation Guidelines

  • Best practices for migrating appropriate applications to Cloud environments
  • Use cases and patterns for Cloud deployments
  • Organizational support with the Enterprise for Cloud Computing

Robust Cloud Operations

  • Security of applications and data in public Clouds
  • Availability, risk management, and SLAs for public Clouds
  • Governance of services across public Clouds and the enterprise

The entire list of NCOIC questions is in the SOA-R wiki. If you are a member of NCOIC, please work with the newly formed Enterprise Cloud Computing Group to provide answers to these important concerns. If you're not a member, please provide your comments here or directly to Bob Marcus at (You could also consider joining the NCOIC)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Information Week has just launched as their cloud computing destination. In his Non Linear Thinking blog, Bill Martin calls it a movement aimed at "providing a source and forum for IT pros, and the general population, to understand what the cloud computing trend/phenomena means to them and their companies".

John Foley, InformationWeek Editor-at-Large, in his announcement of the site's launch, explained the importance of cloud computing this way:

"We created it to address the growing need among IT pros to better understand what this trend means to them and their companies. Just this week, Gartner listed cloud computing second, right behind virtualization, on its list of the top 10 strategic technologies for 2009.

Our research tells us that business technologists are intrigued by cloud computing, but not yet swayed. InformationWeek Analytics (our in-depth reports business) surveyed 456 business technology professionals to gauge their plans for cloud computing. Among the respondents, 20% were considering cloud services, while another 28% said they didn't know enough about them. In other words, nearly half are still mulling it over. Of the rest, 18% said they were already using cloud services and 34% had no interest."

My sincere thanks goes to Mr. Foley for including "Cloud Musings" on the site's "Favorite Blog" list. I am honored and look forward to continuing this discussion on the use of cloud computing technologies within the public sector.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Is the cloud computing hype bad?

"It’s too simplistic to say cloud hype is bad . If we are technically expert is might irritate us with its breadth and abstraction, but we are not the only audience.  Somehow the idea has to  cross the corridor into other business departments and that’s just as likely to be via a Business Week article or even (dare I say it?) an airline in-flight magazine.  Whether we like it or not, repeatedly promoting a basic collective term through broader media has a long history of overcoming corporate resistance and inertia in ways IT departments can’t do alone. ‘The cloud’ is a BIG idea, its a reasonable visual metaphor and most of all its not an acronym.  It may not be perfect, but if it captures the imaginations of a broader audience of decision makers we should cut it some slack.  IT must remember that even its biggest ideas compete for mind-share with other major strategic change and improvement options - like moving to the Chinese market, restructuring the finances, building a new headquarters, or re-branding."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stop the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) !!

Dan Morrill! Count me in !!

In his excellent article, "Cloud Computing is Scary - But the FUD Has to Stop",  Dan makes some excellent points:

  • It is time to start embracing where business is going, and trying to make sure that they are doing it in the safest way possible.
  • What security professionals need to be doing rather than creating their own FUD is work out ways to make it safer.
  • While we might struggle with new technology, it is time for information security folks to step up to the plate and get smart on how the technology works, what the risks are, and how those risks can be reasonably addressed by good security solutions. 
  • There are some great resources for good information, Cloud Ave is one of them, but trend micro, IBM, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle and others who have all figured out that this can be a very neat technology and help companies expand and contract according to business need and market conditions.
Hear ! Hear !

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

IBM, Microsoft and Google

On October 6th, IBM launched their cloud services initiative. This is a:

 "[C]ompany-wide initiative that extends its traditional software delivery model toward a mix of on-premise and cloud computing applications with new software, services and technical resources for clients and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs). IBM's new cloud services can help businesses of all sizes more easily adopt cloud computing models to better manage data, lower operational costs and make collaboration easier."

Since IBM has partnered on cloud computing with Google, this commentary on Microsoft by Michael Vizard may be telling:

"Just about everything that Microsoft does and says about cloud computing comes across as fairly reactionary. Essentially, Microsoft has let Google set the tone for much of the last two years and every service that it rolls out is compared and contrasted to something Google already did...."

" ...Unfortunately, it looks like Microsoft is pretty much asleep at the wheel when it comes to cloud computing in the channel. Of course, one of these days Google is going to wake up to the same opportunity. And before Microsoft realizes, a large swath of the channel might find common cause with Google simply because it might actually be trying to make an effort."

But Google has issues as well. From the same commentary:


"Right now, it doesn’t look like Google even knows how to spell the word channel. But that’s not likely to stay the case forever. In the meantime, Microsoft is pretty much ignoring a coalition of the willing at its own peril."

Microsoft clearly has a chance to leverage it's dominance in the application space by helping it's partners port millions of applications to the cloud using the Microsoft Cloud OS. But will they move before Google wakes up and smells the channel?  

When is comes to channels, IBM also knows a few things so this will indeed be interesting.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Government in the Cloud

Back in mid-September, there was quite a thread in the Google Cloud Computing Group on the use of cloud computing by the federal government.  Some of the interesting comments were:

"Not an actual use case yet, but I see that electronic voting (e.g. US presidential elections) would be a good use case for cloud computing, given technology allows eliminate electoral fraud and provides reliable audit trail. "

(NOTE: Throughout the thread, many participants disgreed with this as a good use case)

"Another use case in my mind would be optimization of USPS, that might be beneficial for both government, businesses and cloud providers, but I'll leave it here, until I'm ready with specifics." 

"As the first U.S. E-Govt Administrator, I am very intrigued by applications of Cloud Computing to government.  The best use case for this would be electronic filings, especially quarterly Tax payments and annual Tax returns.  However, business gateways and citizen service portals that cut across levels of government would also be good. "

"Another one would be turbotax etc." 

"At CNIPA (the Italian eGovernment-supporting technical body) we are just organizing a series of seminars on cloud computing with industry and consultancies. My understanding is that electronic voting will not be a viable use case for a number of reasons which have little to do with the infrastructure or the paradigm that might be used. Much better eGovernment use case could be a "my government" portal, where people could exchange official communications with the administration, update their filings and perform payments after being digitally identified. A cloud infrastructure could be the best choice to experiment with a "zero-latency government", where back-office interactions are not visible to citizens. There are a lot of things that should be analysed and piloted before, including legislative and privacy issues. The effort could be extremely rewarding, though."

Friday, October 10, 2008

CloudCamp Partners With SOA-R !!

I'm proud to announce that the final SOA-R Cloud Computing Education Event will be held in collaboration with CloudCamp. Now dubbed CloudCamp:Federal, the event will be held as an "unconference" to help early adopters meet and share our experiences, challenges and solutions. At CloudCamp, you are encouraged to share your thoughts in several open discussions, as we strive for the advancement of Cloud Computing. End users, IT professionals and vendors are all encouraged to participate.

Due to the expected large number of attendees, we will be moving from our normal Tyson's Corner location.  CloudCamp: Federal will be hosted by Apptis, Inc at their conference and training facility, 4800 Westfields Blvd, Chantilly, VA 20151. We will also be changing the start time from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Federal Cloud Computing Wiki

With the fast growing interest in cloud computing, the Federal Government community has established a Federal Cloud Computing Wiki. This wiki is managed by Dr. Brand Niemann, Senior Enterprise Architect with the US Environmental Protection Agency. This new wiki, along with the Federal SOA Community of Practice wiki are Web 2.0 tools for the Federal IT architect. 

"The Federal SOA CoP is an open community of practice fostered to assist government and commercial organizations in achieving the promise of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) through collaboration, demonstration and community efforts. The Federal SOA CoP is open to all.  Participation is encouraged by users, who want to better understand how SOA may benefit their organization, by academia who may want to discuss research directions, and by standards organizations and vendors who would like to better understand user needs and help users better understand how the SOA approach can benefit their organization."

Please take a look at Dr. Niemann's talk oncollaborative wikis and Communities of Practice.

Cloud Musings and the SOA-R Interactive Network Group looks forward to sharing and collaborating with the Federal Cloud Computing wiki and the Federal SOA CoP.

SOA-R!! Another Hit !!

Yesterday's SOA-R event coverage by TECH Bisnow Washington was yet another indication that cloud computing is real in the Federal space. Thanks goes to Mr. Dave Stegon from Bisnow on Business and Pauline Healy from Apptis.  Thanks also to Tim May from Apptis for him and his team's support of cloud computing in the Federal marketplace.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

World Summit of Cloud Computing, December 1-2, 2008, Wohl Centre, Ramat Gan, Israel

I am proud to announce that I've been invited to speak at the "World Summit of Cloud Computing", December 1-2, 2008, at the Wohl Centre in Ramat Gan, Israel. As their homepage attests;

"...the maturity of the Virtualization technologies, both at the VM and at the IT infrastructure levels, and the convergence of the Grid, Virtualization and SOA concepts, enables the business implementation of the Cloud Computing for utility and SaaS services."

This year's anual IGT event will focus on cloud computing and its impact on enterprise IT, the next generation data center, sofware as a service, and utility computing. I am honored to be sharing the stage with representatives from Google, Amazon Web Services, Yahoo, ebay, Sun, HP, IBM, 3Tera, Forrester, and a host of other prominent cloud computing community leaders.

My presentation will be centered on the goverment customer insights expected to be gained from the MIT Cloud Computing Survey. Please visit the summit website at for more information or email the organizers at .

You should also visit their Cloud Information Center for a wealth of information in this exploding area.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

MIT Survey: What A Response !!

We've been quite surprised by the number of survey responses we've received. 
That subset of the cloud computing community interested in national security and public sector applications is certainly making its views known. To whet your appetite for the upcoming special report in Military Information Technology magazine and to encourage more participation, here are some preliminary results:
  • We have enjoyed participation from a wide range or Federal, State, Local and Public Sector organizations, including Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, NASA,  United States Marine Corps, United States Navy, United States Air Force, United State Army, NATO, Air National Guard, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Spokane Regional Health District, Manvel Police Department, Norwalk, CT Department of Public Works,  Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, New York State Education Department and the  Texas Health & Human Services Commission.
  • Representation from industry includes Apptis, Inc., BAE Systems, Cisco Systems, CollabNet, Computer Sciences Corporation, eVectis Technologies, General Dynamics, General Electric, IBM, Iterative Designs, Mission Mobility, MITRE, Nirvanix, Raytheon, RightScale,  Sila Solutions Group, Venturian Group, Verizon Federal and ViaSat
  • Over 50 people from both government and industry have volunteered to be interviewed for this report. More Federal government participation is STRONGLY encouraged. Remember, your comments are for non-attribution and can be provided anonymously.  All we ask is that you provide the Department or Agency.
  • In response to the question,"Are you familiar with cloud computing?",  only 18% of the respondents answered "Not at all". 45% indicated they were "Somewhat familiar" while 19% said they were "Very familiar".
  • Overall the top challenge for customers who are considering a cloud computing solution is "Capital budget limitations" at 26% with "storage limitations" second at 16%.
  • The overwhelming main concern with any cloud computing solution is "Security" at 61%
Please keep your input and comments coming! Just click the MIT Survey link or go to .

Friday, October 3, 2008

Cloud Auction Business Model

The other day I talked about how cloud computing could change the government's budgeting process. Well what about this!

Last week, Google filed a patent application that describes a system that would allow users to auction their network connection business to participating carriers, in real time! Instead of buying a month-to-month or contract service with a single designated carrier, the Google patent would allow carriers to bid, in real-time, for the user’s business. This would create sort of a bandwidth cloud with “bandwidth on-demand” services.

"Devices using the system would send networks a description of their requirements – for example, a phone call or access to the Internet – and receive back bids with a per-minute cost, or flat rate, at which those needs could be met. Users could either manually accept the bid that looks best to them, or have the phone choose one automatically, based on pre-programmed criteria. The patent does not specify particular access technologies, so it could apply to any form of wired or wireless access platform, such as GSM, 3G, Wi-Fi or planned "white space" spectrum. "

Such a option would definitely play havoc with current budgeting processes.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Oracle: To Cloud or Not To Cloud ...

First Oracle's Larry Ellison bashes cloud computing as nothing but hype and then his company announces that it will let customers run Oracle 10g and 11g databases and its Fusion middleware in virtual machines within Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud service (Oracle Unveils New Products, Then Drifts Into The Cloud ).

Larry's quote, as reported by many sources, was;

"The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we've redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do. I can't think of anything that isn't cloud computing with all of these announcements. The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women's fashion. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It's complete gibberish. It's insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?"

Also Larry, what are you going to say to the cloud computing poster child and Oracle customer ? Last week Parker Harris, their executive vice president for technology said:

"At we massively scale Oracle databases as our core business. Oracle is a great company but we need to go beyond that. One bug can take out a massive complex if you get it wrong. Everybody has kind of hit this."

Larry. You're either with us, or against us. You should also read my earlier post on cloud databases.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Capacity planning in a cloud environment

In her post "Cloud computing killed the capacity star", Ivanka Menken brings up some good points. Just think what changes this could bring to the government budgeting process. The trends that Ivanka addresses could result in the following:
  • Traditionally, demand management is used as an input into a capacity plan that is then used for capital expenditure budgeting. In the new world, this will no longer be sufficient, because the ability to rent capacity on "pay as you go" basis will now be a much more important input into the operational side of the budget.
  • In economically unstable times (such as today) the focus is on low fixed cost. The accompanying budget strategy is to purchase infrastructure with excess capacity and sit on it for as long as possible. While this may not be the lowest initial cost approach, it does minimize the risk of mission failure over the longer term. In the new budget world, agencies can purchase the minimum infrastructure needed to meet current steady state requirements. This would typically result in an IT platform with minimal excess capacity. If more is needed later, one would use operational funds for cloud based services. This new strategy would conceivably result in lower initial cost and lower lifecycle cost as well.
  • With IT services as a utility, budgeting for it will become more akin to budgeting for office electricity. Do agencies do a annual capacity plan for electricity? No. A flat rate is set based on another related factor ( number of employees, number of offices, etc). This approach could actually result in absolutely zero capital budget for IT !!

What do you bean counters think about that !!