Posts Tagged ‘Standards’

 

Peering Back at the Clouds – 7 Cloud Predictions from 2011

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 by

As is my annual custom, at the beginning of each year or as we are entering into a new year, I try to make some educated guesses as to the direction that Cloud Computing will take us. In December, 2010, I published “Peering Out at the Horizon – 7 Cloud Computing Predictions for 2011” and now is the time that I reflect back to see how well these predictions actually did. Just as a reminder, the predictions that I made were my own personal opinion and may not reflect others at GoGrid.

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Here is a quick recap of the 2011 Cloud Computing predictions I made and I have also mentioned how I think the prediction faired at the end of 2011:

  1. IT Procurement Includes Cloud Requisitioning – Part of me was really hoping that this would come to fruition a bit more than it did. Essentially, I believe that the Enterprise and Business Units therein would begin loosening up a bit in terms of the procurement of IT resources. It still seems that there is a division of this process. Traditional IT managers are looking to extend their hold on the physical and data center environments that they “own” and manage. However, as Gartner analyst, Lydia Leong posits, there are also those who are considered “circumventors” who bypass the traditional IT procurement process and go to the public cloud to get project-based infrastructure. The circumventers use whatever tools possible to get their jobs done. They love the characteristics and qualities of the cloud. Conversely, those IT traditionalists view the cloud as risky. They want to ensure that infrastructure is compliant, safe, secure and carefully managed. They are worried about “cloud sprawl” and not having control over infrastructure in the cloud. While previously, these groups had heated political battles about whose method was the proper one, in 2012, they will realize that both methods have advantages and by working together, they can minimize the risks. The use of Cloud Bridging (joining on-prem to public cloud), Cloud Bursting (expanding to the public cloud when resources require it), and Hybrid Hosting (combining physical and virtual appliances within the same environment) will provide both sides of these dueling mindsets with ways to get along.
    Prediction results: There is definitely some headway being made to bridge the gap between these two forces within organizations. The lines are blurring as different ways to procure both cloud and physical infrastructure are emerging.
  2. Private Clouds and Public Cloud Act to Catalyze Each Other – There is still the ongoing debate as to which comes first, a public cloud or a private cloud. It really depends who you talk to within an organization. There are those circumventers who simply “expense” the use of a public cloud and there are those traditionalists, as I mentioned, who will make all attempts to re-use existing infrastructure and make it “cloudy.” However, there are more and more companies that look to a hybridization of infrastructure, where they are creating Virtual Private Clouds to ensure better data security or compliance while leveraging existing physical infrastructures. Private clouds can definitely whet the appetites of organizations who are looking at the cloud for more efficient utilization of IT resources. And I still believe that once private clouds prove their use, there are more possibilities for public cloud adoption.
    Prediction results: We are seeing a continued growth of cloud computing in general, and within that, a mixture of the types of clouds being used, pure public or private, cloud bursting, cloud bridging, hybrid clouds and hybrid hosting in general.
  3. “Cloud Washing” Backlash Begins – Cloud washing occurs when an infrastructure vendor takes its traditional, legacy or older service offering and they simply slap the term “cloud” on it. Companies seem to be doing a better job at disguising their non-cloud (or even “false cloud”) offerings into something that resembles a cloud offering. It’s still “buyer beware” with these types of services, in my opinion. Ensure that the cloud provider you choose passes the cloud-litmus test. You shouldn’t have to have a big capital expenditure, services should be dynamic and scalable, you should be billed based on usage and the service should be consumed via internet services.
    Prediction results: For the most part, there wasn’t as much of a backlash as I would have predicted. Either cloud buyers are simply unaware of cloud-washing or it simply doesn’t matter to them and they are still getting what they believe to be cloud services. I just hope they don’t get buyers remorse once they dive a bit deeper into their selected vendor.
  4. Cracks Show with Internal Clouds as Hosted Private Clouds Emerge – The idea here is that corporations who rushed out to buy hardware and virtualization licenses in order to implement their own private cloud are now reeling from sticker shock and a high TCO. Private clouds are important to organizations, especially if data security and privacy are core requirements. However as the tab for running and maintaining a private cloud continues to climb, enterprises and larger organizations are now looking for financial and human capital efficiencies in their infrastructure management and growth. GoGrid introduced the Hosted Private Cloud service earlier this year and we are seeing great traction. In fact, Orange Business Services has been using GoGrid’s Hosted Private Cloud since early on this year. You can see their case study here.
    Prediction results: As I mention, Hosted Private Cloud interest and sales are seeing strong numbers at GoGrid and there are other cloud vendors who are now starting to offer similar services. Expect this movement to grow in 2012.
  5. Community & Sharing Of and Within the Cloud – With a proliferation of cloud services in the marketplace, it is only natural that aggregation and inter-networking of disparate clouds begin to form. With outages always a possibility, it’s important for organizations to build for failure and this is where multi-cloud utilization is important for disaster recover plans. Companies like Racemi are leveraging migration plays that can help corporations distribute their infrastructure across multiple public clouds.
    Predictions results: For the most part, the growth of peripheral cloud integration and migration services, including professional services companies, showed pretty solid growth this year with cloud consumers realizing that there are options and a plethora of services from which to choose.
  6. Breaking Down International Cloud Borders – Many analysts have said that the US is leading the cloud computing charge with Europe & Asia closely following. There are a few cloud vendors within Europe, but not to the extent of the United States. Being able to use a single cloud vendor for world-wide distribution and utilization of cloud services is critical to many companies. While due to the Patriot Act, European companies need to host their EU-centric services in Europe, many also use US-based cloud provider for their US-audiences.
    Prediction results: The European expansion started this year and won’t be slowing down any time soon as US cloud providers are realizing the importance of having a physical presence overseas. But this could all change…
  7. Cloud Standards Battle Heats Up – Cloud computing is rapidly becoming an established IT movement and no longer viewed as being simply hype or an alternative to traditional IT. It is not only replacing legacy IT environments, but also companies are building for the cloud from the get-go. While some public clouds are consumed in a proprietary manner (which causes quite a built of vendor lock-in if you build specifically for them), others are more open, allowing for easier migrations and deployments. A more flexible or adaptable (standards-based) cloud provider requires less specialization of the IT or Development teams working with that particular cloud provider. In fact, some Certification programs, generalized for Cloud Computing, are emerging as well. This indirectly pushes the marketplace toward standardization of offerings and services.
    Prediction results: While the standardization process is still a bit cloudy, progress is definitely being made. Via certifications, developers and IT professionals can now tout their cloud experience and knowledge which allows companies and individuals to document their proficiency in not only what cloud is, but also how to use it and the best ways to use it.

Whew, there you have it – my analysis and synopsis of some predictions I made early in 2011 on the directions of Cloud Computing this year. Again, these are merely my predictions and analysis and may not reflect others within GoGrid.

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Peering Out at the Horizon – 7 Cloud Computing Predictions for 2011

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 by

Now that I have reflected on what transpired in Cloud Computing during 2010, it’s time to do some skywriting and list out some of my thoughts for 2011 and what clouds will blow our way. Do note, these are my personal opinions and thoughts and may not reflect the views of others at GoGrid. That being said, let’s get on to the predictions and what clouds are on the horizon…

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  1. IT Procurement Includes Cloud Requisitioning – there is definitely a movement within IT organizations to think “outside of the box” as well as optimize expenditures and resources when it comes to developing new infrastructure environments. I dare say that the paper trail of purchase orders and approval forms may start to vaporize somewhat as businesses work to make their internal processes more efficient. Weeks or months to requisition new hardware or repurpose older hardware will become an unacceptable timeframe. We live in the world of instant gratification and “being in the now” and cloud computing is yet another example of how business processes can be re-tooled to be more efficient. Requisitioning cloud environments (publically or privately) will become line items in the procurement process, and perhaps in many organizations will become the de facto choice by IT departments as they attempt to retain control over their kingdom. They still want to be (and need to be) involved in the process and by accepting public (or private) clouds as a primary IT resource, these organizations can stay in front of the curve.
  2. Private Clouds and Public Cloud Act to Catalyze Each Other – many analysts have stated that private clouds will be a stepping stone to public clouds (adoption, usage, acceptance, etc.). However, I don’t believe this to be a uni-directional type of process. For many organizations, testing the waters within a public cloud allows for investigation, due diligence, education and understanding of what cloud computing can do for that organization. That is to say, doing a project within a public cloud can potentially make those self-same businesses pursue a similar strategy internally. However, I predict that many will realize that developing their own internal cloud or private cloud may be cost and time prohibitive and those efforts to do so will meet considerable internal resistance. Cloud computing is flexible, however, and there are ways to achieve similar results through a careful architecting of ones IT environment using a combination of public, hybrid and internal resources. On the flipside, organizations who have repurposed some of their internal IT resources to craft private or internal clouds will soon realize that their efforts are inefficient from a cost and human capital perspective and will then begin outsourcing their IT services for projects or business units to a public cloud.
  3. “Cloud Washing” Backlash Begins – for those unfamiliar with the term “cloud washing” it essentially means when a vendor or ISP repackages their legacy or older service offerings into something that they slap a “cloud” label to. We saw plenty of this begin happening over the past year or so as everyone wants to jump on the cloud bandwagon, especially from a marketing perspective. But merely stating that their product or service is “cloud” or “cloud-like” or “cloud-enabled” does injustice to cloud computing in general and may actually cause end-users to have a bad initial experience with supposed cloud services. As businesses evaluate the growing number of cloud providers in the marketplace, they will need to become savvy at reading between the lines in understanding what a purported cloud vendor provides as their “cloud” service. Buyer beware! Luckily, those investigating cloud solutions, reading the trade journals and vetting the vendors out there are becoming more vocal about and educated in their decision-making process. Those vendors with “cloud washed” services will soon see an erosion of customers as these users move to more proven, established public clouds.
  4. Cracks Show with Internal Clouds as Hosted Private Clouds Emerge – as corporations begin the deep dive into their internal IT infrastructure, attempting to breath life into aging servers, out of date software and costly data center maintenance, they will start realizing that pursuing an “internal cloud” strategy might not be the most effective use of their time and money. Those companies who have chosen the path of bringing the cloud in-house will be renewing licensing agreements, crunching numbers as they amortize the cost of hardware associated with keeping their internal cloud up and running, and ensuring their IT staff is properly utilized, while still maintaining a lean and mean organization. The cracks and flaws of this “old school” philosophy will show as CFO’s and budget managers demand a higher ROI and the internal “customers” demand more features and services from their aging internal IT environments. As this internal battle heats up, the hosted private cloud solution will become much more attractive and will move from being simply “an alternative” to “a requirement.”
  5. Community & Sharing Of and Within the Cloud – with the coming mainstream establishment of cloud computing within the workforce, now the innovations truly start to materialize. Several cloud management vendors produced marked customer adoption over the past couple of years, offering services built on top of or designed to help manage clouds, but the clouds that they managed were fairly disparate. As these 3rd parties evolve their products and services, expect to see creation of multi-cloud infrastructures that leverage the best of each cloud and the concocted shared cloud environments will represent a further hybridization of the cloud computing movement. When I say “hybrid”, in this case, I’m not talking about the combining of physical and virtual appliances within a single cloud, but rather a richer fabric of interwoven distinct clouds. These could be public and hosted private clouds, multiple public clouds or even mixtures of internal and public infrastructures (e.g., cloud bursting). Also, I expect to see some cloud providers looking to build out the sharing and community aspects within their cloud offerings, meaning that infrastructure designs can be shared and potentially distributed between users, creating efficiencies of design and faster time to market.
  6. Breaking Down International Cloud Borders – the growth of the Internet has made the world smaller. Data, transactions and information are sent at the speed of light across the globe. Users expect this immediacy and Internet services in general are helping to shrink the world as we know it. Internet protocols, infrastructures and IT in general is a common language that citizens of the Internet speak not only fluently but share as well. There is still some debate as to whether Europe or the US is leading the “cloud race” but regardless, cloud computing is becoming borderless. Sure there are still data privacy, ownership and warehousing issues, as well as countries that continue to maintain rigid controls over what data and information is delivered to whom and where, but for those countries that are more open to innovation, the political and economic walls are rapidly being torn down. Cloud Computing is a catalyst to this blurring of these borders and we can expect to see not only innovations from other countries and regions of the globe, we will also see cooperation between business, foreign and domestic. Infrastructure being the international language, cloud computing will be the vessel to bring cooperation between countries, companies and organizations around the globe.
  7. Cloud Standards Battle Heats Up – as the cloud evolves, interoperability will become increasingly important. Over the past years, multiple organizations have jockeyed to position themselves as the de facto standards governance body. Some are more accepted than others while others have simply died out. I expect the emergence of new groups, some comprised of big businesses lumping their names together is a sort of coalition while others more of a grass-roots natures (e.g., top down and bottom up). I feel that governments will provide an important push driving this movement to meet compliance and auditing requirements and concerns. Transparency will be a core driver here as customers dive deeper into the interoperability of clouds with other clouds as well as their own infrastructures. Those vendors who remain isolated, following proprietary tracts may find themselves losing ground to coalitions of providers who have either loosely coupled their offerings or who provide import/export or integration services.

I could probably go on with several other forward-looking cloud computing ideas. The point being that Cloud Computing allows innovations and ideas to truly surface and be built upon. Others in the space will have different as well as similar perspectives and I encourage you to read and contemplate on those ideas. Nobody has a magical crystal ball that can truly look into the future, but remember, all of the images of those magical fortune-telling globes seem to have one thing in common, they start with clouds!

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Analysis of Gartner’s “Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2009″

Thursday, October 16th, 2008 by

gartner_logo This week, Gartner, Inc released their list of the top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2009. This information stems from research performed within the Technology sector and factors in their client and research feedback. This list, released at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo, is considered to be potentially “disruptive to your environment or market in some way,” says Gartner analyst David Cearley.

While I sometimes find some of Gartner’s commentary on trends in technology a bit conservative and missing other critical data, this 2009 list does represent current trends that I have seen and mirrors many of my own expectations. Just last week, TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington declared that Web 2.0 was dead. I think that many of us have already moved well beyond Web 2.0. My view, for some time, has been that Web 3.0 (for lack of a better term) will be a combination of Integration and Standards and the coupling of the two, with other enabling technologies such as Cloud Computing providing the necessary lubrication. We saw the term “mashup” become prevalent during the past year or so, where companies sought to integrate similar services (or even disparate ones) in a new service delivered via the Web. A could of quick examples of this is evident with the numerous Twitter services that use Twitter data and either present this data in different ways or full integration into other services, or the advent of Yahoo!’s Pipes.

Key to Integration is making the connections easier through the use of public APIs. As more companies expose their API’s to developers, the wheels for integration become even more greased. This is all fine and good provided that these API are carefully documented, but more critical is that APIs must adhere to some sort of standard. Unfortunately, the “standards” requirement is a lot harder to require and maintain. At a recent Cloud Computing Interoperability meeting that I participated in, most attendees agreed that Standards are a huge priority, however, defining these standards would be a daunting task to undertake. But this interop was a clear step forward by the leaders in the industry towards defining these standards. If you step back a few years, you could view Web Services as a precursor to the API movement we see now (API’s are a subset of Web Services), and XML standards helped to propel the acceptance of Web Services and Integrations in general.

I feel that those companies who are currently working to aggregate (or integrate) various API’s into their business model are well positioned to be the ones who can help drive these standards. Case in point, GoGrid has a public API and recently signed up various Cloud Aggregators (such as RightScale, Appistry and GigaSpaces). These companies use a variety of other Cloud Infrastructure providers within their management services. The more that I thought about it, the more I realized how important these Cloud Aggregators’ roles are in driving some Cloud standards. They have views into all of their partner API’s and can easily find similarities and differences between these API’s. Any API’s that these aggregators come up with themselves are one step closer to a standards-based API that could potentially be generic enough for use by many if not all providers.

What is also interesting, is that this concept of Integration and Standards actually does apply to our current World Financial Crisis as well. We have a bank and financial institution pandemonium with mergers seemingly occurring daily. These institutions will need to integrate diverse systems in order to succeed and the government will be forced to derive some standards to govern their vested interest in these institutions. Sure, this is a fairly broad application of these terms in this comparison between Web 3.0 and Finance, but the ideas are similar.

But back to the Gartner predictions for 2009. First, we need to take off our rose colored glasses here. Any time you make a prediction, the odds are that you could be wrong in the long run. I realize that this is a bit pessimistic, but just look at our Economy right now. There were plenty of naysayers who told us that we were going down the wrong path, but we still proceeded ahead, ignoring these predictions. Technology trends are no different than Economic ones; you can make an attempt to predict based on the past however, the difference here is that technology seem to be a lit less volatile compared to the economy.

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