If you haven't already seen, Apple announced several iPod enhancements on Wednesday, along with updates to iTunes and Apple TV. Leading up to the announcements, the blogging and social media community was abuzz with rumors about what was going to be the next big thing from Apple. One prediction that was widely made was the move of iTunes to the cloud, making it accessible on any internet-ready device.
Obviously, this wasn’t the case on Wednesday, but it makes you wonder if Apple has an aversion to the cloud. Back in February I posted about Apple's massive new data center in North Carolina, and questioned whether or not it was an indication of a move to put iTunes into the cloud. Since then, there has been an increasing amount of discussion surrounding Apple and whether or not they will move into the cloud computing space. What would this mean for consumers?
To be frank, Apple's data center won't be ready until late 2010, and that is probably the main reason no announcement was made yesterday about an iTunes cloud service, but for the sake of discussion: could security issues, and concerns for consumer privacy, also be delaying Apple's cloud move?
If we are just talking iTunes, I can't really see people being too worried about sharing their iTunes libraries, given the enormous amount of information people already make public on sites like MySpace, FourSquare, Twitter, and Facebook. Therefore, if iTunes is Apple's first move in the cloud territory, it seems like a relatively safe one. That being said, there is a difference between what people choose to make public on social media sights, and the publicly hosted information that people DO NOT want public. For example, the Google Buzz disaster is a prime example of what happens when a company, that hosts your information in the cloud, decides to roll out a "new feature" that unwittingly puts private information into public view. I can imagine that Apple will take great care in protecting information in iTunes, but I don't see them stopping at iTunes when it comes to customer cloud offerings. And why would you, if you were Apple? With a new data center up, and the cloud being a fast-moving, fun new "technology," hosting other "iData" seems like a logical next step.
Consider this: the iPhone is a great tool for sharing information online, but the iPhone, and smart phones in general, also contain a large amount of very private data. Phone numbers, calendars, text messages, and personal emails are all things that people do not typically want public.
Apple Cloud Disaster Scenario
Apple offers a "Contacts in the Cloud" service where you can backup all your contact information in the Cloud (MobileMe is pretty darn close). A Google Buzz-esque accidental release of information happens and you are going to have some seriously upset customers. With over 12 billion songs downloaded on iTunes, and over 70% of the world's online digital music sales, Apple has a lot to lose. With that in mind, I would take my time rolling out a new cloud service, but considering that Sony announced a cloud-based music service yesterday, Apple's iTunes cloud can't dilly-dally for too long.
What do you think? Are you concerned about your data's security in an Apple cloud?
Up until now a lot of the buzz around the cloud has focused on security and trusting someone else with your data, but that's all it's been: buzz. Buzz, debate, speculation, naysaying, and well... you get the point. However, a big change is starting to gain momentum: more and more lawyers and legal departments are taking interest in the cloud. I know what you're thinking, "Woohoo. Why is this a big deal?" This is a big deal because, once lawyers get involved with any new technology, the ball starts rolling.
This concept was brought to my attention by John Soat's recent post, Cloud Computing: It's Time to Send in the Lawyers. I've heard my fair share of "security this", and "privacy that" by just about everyone who hasn't passed the bar. But John's post illustrated to me that legal departments are starting to have the real talks about cloud computing. John points to one example in which the legal team of a Midwestern company all of a sudden takes an interest in the cloud once the legal team approved of a cloud solution. And really, since legal is usually the source of delay and endless red tape, once they approve of new company policy, who else will object? Lawyers are historically obstinate towards technological change since they prefer the old ways they are used to. Not to mention their job requires a lot of dissenting with practices that have the slightest possibility of risk. If privacy, security, performance and continuity are all handled and OK'ed by the lawyers, all that's left for for your company to do is implement a solution and reap the benefits.
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Erica Naone of the MIT Technology Review recently wrote an article titled "Working Towards a Smarter, Faster Cloud." The article details the next step in cloud computing: end user management of cloud infrastructure, without handling the hardware physically.
Progress towards a "smarter, faster cloud" begins at the Usinex Annual Technical Conference '10, where Professor Vytautas Valancius of the Georgia Institute of Technology gave insight into his new project which he believes will be a major step in cloud computing. The name of this project is The Transit Protocol. I know the name does seem like something out of a espionage thriller, but The Transit Protocol is not at all like the Bond movies. The basic theory behind the development of The Transit Protocol is that not all cloud applications are built alike and not all cloud applications need the same resources. Why should online video chat run on the same infrastructure as a backup service? Cloud users needs fast, quality connections, the other needs the cheapest path of transit to move data. Valancius and his team of professors from Georgia Tech, Princeton, and Tokyo are working on this project so that actual infrastructure and paths can be managed for each individual cloud service.
The Transit Protocol is already deployed in Atlanta, Princeton, New Jersey, and Madison, Wisconsin. This early version however requires advanced networking knowledge so it is not yet user friendly. However with time this could become the next thing to further optimize the cloud. Valancius noted in his presentation that this service could be used for big companies, like Amazon Web Services, as a service option or even for internal use to optimize machine use.
Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC Corp., has made a commitment to riding the cloud computing wave to a more successful business. EMC is a leading provider of digital storage means and systems for large enterprises and government. Tucci gave a statement during the EMC World annual conference, he said "we're now going through what I believe is pretty much going to be the biggest wave in the history of information technology."
EMC is following the ideas of both public and private clouds. Tucci predicts thousands of companies will begin to move to the public cloud or create personal private clouds. To prepare he is bracing his company to be the provider of software and hardware for organizations making the move to the cloud.
At a conference in May, EMC revealed a new technology to help with the building of private clouds. EMC's new VPLEX line of products allows multiple data centers, up to 60 miles apart, act as one harmonious unit. In the next version of VLPEX the distance should increase to thousands of miles, giving companies the ability to build their own cloud through multiple distanced, but interconnected data centers.
This new line of products could effectively cut data center operational costs, but it will still take time for people to completely embrace the cloud. In any case, EMC is still moving forward in their ventures in cloud computing; since last year EMC has entered a deal with data networking giant Cisco to sell integrated storage, computer and networking services, and has acquired Data Domain, a company that makes products that eliminates the unnecessary duplication of data, for 2.1 billion dollars. It's only a matter of time before the cloud, EMC, and Joe Tucci has taken ever measure to capitalize on this opportunity.
Is Cloud Computing GOING GREEN?! I thought we could get your attention by starting off this post two of today's biggest buzzphrases: "Going Green" and “Cloud Computing.” Every company these days love to brag about how they are "utilizing the Cloud," and everybody and their mother can't wait to say how they are "going green." As if, now that you have started using reusable shopping bags, Mother Nature herself is going to give you a big hug. Hummer increases the gas mileage on their H2 from 15mpg to 16.4mpg and they are shouting from the hilltops that they are "going green." Whoop-dee-do.
So what do these two have in common? Can the Cloud Buzz Blog create the most buzzworthy blog post ever by tying together today's biggest buzzwords? Probably not. However, the commonalities and connections between the two are noteworthy, and the sustainability and "green-ness" of cloud computing has become a hot ticket debate item amongst IT professionals, scientists, green activists, etc. I'll hand the mic over to Bo to discuss the connection. I'll warn you that his explanation is a bit long-winded, but very interesting and worth the read:
On one side of the spectrum, people praise cloud computing as a huge step in green business. Businesses who have their own data centers may not realize it, but their servers are guzzling energy unnecessarily. Think of it like this, a company owning a data center is kind of like the guy who owns a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640. Beautiful car, top of the line everything, runs great, runs dependably, and runs fast. Do they really care or notice that it's getting 8 miles to the gallon? Nope. They aren't paying attention to the money they are throwing into the gas tank, but most likely that same guy is trying to pinch pennies in another way. That's the typical business's attitude towards its data center. The data centers and servers must be prepared to handle double the highest amount of requests or traffic at any given time; traffic can unexpectedly double or triple a matter of minutes. To prepare, companies power much more server volume than needed at all times.
What about data management? Between backups, duplicates, and fail-safes that are always running (but not always getting use), there is a high quantity of wasted energy being pulled from the grid. Now imagine a room full with all these machines constantly putting out heat as they run, all of which have to stay below 65 degrees or they will cook themselves. Essentially these space heaters keep firing away while companies blow money on the electrical bill for air-conditioning and cooling in this ever-waging war of temperature control. Up to $3000 can be spent on one server rack: roughly half for power, and half for cooling. Oh and don't forget… after all this energy has been pulled for power and cooling, a data center is running at less than 25% of its available capacity. Seems like a very inefficient and poorly run system right? And how does this play in to the big picture? From 2000 to 2005, servers in Europe and the US were responsible for nearly 2/3's of the world's energy consumption!
The costs are largely uncontrolled, and they are masked so that organizations often have no idea how much energy they are really consuming. No one looks for a solution to a problem they don't know exists. So let's propose a solution, one that combines our notorious buzzwords:
Instead of running on their own wasteful hardware, companies could outsource and operate out of the cloud on someone else's servers. This eliminates almost all the unnecessary spending and energy wasting. Organizations can run on virtual servers, and when more capacity is needed, a new virtual machine can simply be created. When operating from the cloud there is no capital investment for hardware, cost of maintenance, and no need to wastefully consume energy on backup and emergency servers that spend their days idling. Instead, if a server fails a new virtual server is automatically recreated and a central cloud provider can be more efficient with their use of server bandwidth. Data is always backed up in the cloud, software never gets out of date, and the only charge is an hourly fee for using the servers. Companies who have switched to Amazon's EC2 have found their running costs dropped by 80%.
With all these benefits, why would one question the sustainability or efficiency of the cloud? Well, critics take into account the externalities of moving to the cloud. Since you are not operating on your own servers, you are operating on servers somewhere else and therefore some believe you just took your trash and threw it in the neighbor's back yard. Your immediate carbon footprint may look smaller but critics argue that the size hasn't changed at all, you've just made it someone else's problem. There are a number of different arguments used to further the contest but those involve skepticism around cloud security, not sustainability.
The reality of the situation, as the Five Percent blog points out, is that by outsourcing servers to those who have better resources to handle it, you are actually reducing your carbon footprint. Normal servers are never really taxed to capacity. Data centers that provide cloud computing use "virtualization," a process that allows servers to perform multiple jobs through the virtual servers and machines we discussed earlier. The reason this is so much more efficient is that virtual servers can handle all the work of a basic server, but the actual physical server running the virtual one can provide multiple virtualized servers and machines at a time. Since a server uses just about the same amount of power when it's idling as it is working, these cloud providers are efficient at making sure a physical server is working at its maximum capacity before firing up or buying a new one. The EPA reported that the postal service, by using virtualization, was able to cut down the number of servers they needed from 895 to 104. Wow.
Centralizing data requirements in massive data centers also improve efficiency and sustainability. Instead of multiple inefficient unsustainable server rooms and data centers around the world wasting money and energy, localizing all the physical machines gives room to make one highly efficient and green data center. Data centers around the world are making their facilities more sustainable through a number of methods. They are using techniques that cool the areas around the servers as opposed to the entire room, they are building data centers in cooler locations to draw in air from outside and chill water for a water economization loop, and some are even building photo voltaic cells on the roofs of their data centers (massive buildings, massive surface areas on the roofs, perfect places for solar panels).
So is cloud computing green? The jury is out and probably will be until the cloud is unanimously embraced, but we believe that the cloud is green if the provider is responsible. We at Sonian know for a fact the Amazon Web Services EC2 is efficient and responsible, so why not move to the cloud?
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Spam Marketer Issued Search Warrant by FBI
The Social Media Law blog by @SardarLawFirm recently brought up a very interesting point regarding a warrant on Google by the FBI: this appears to be the first of such warrants seeking information residing in "the cloud."
The article went on to say that Wired recently reported the findings of a search warrant carried out by the FBI for a company called Pulse Marketing. The company had sent millions of spam messages promoting acai berry, and had a system that utilized multiple Gmail and Yahoo mail accounts. Prosecutors are determining whether Pulse Marketing is in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1037, a regulation that applies to the use of fake domains and email addresses to send quantities of unsolicited commercial email.
While the terms of the warrant are interesting, more unique is how "the cloud" plays a roll in all this. The documents in question were stored in the cloud-based document sharing application, Google Docs. This will undoubtedly bring up questions about cloud security. For example, is your company documents safe in this new era of message regulation? However, email accounts have been searched and scrutinized for years for inappropriate usage, the general consensus seems to be that businesses and consumers are perfectly fine with the current state of email. That being the case, will one cloud search warrant cause a massive upheaval in cloud dissent? Doubtful. If anything, this is good news for cloud computing. Shared apps and social media are being treated with the same standards as regular email does. In fact, companies that specialize in email archiving for compliance are now beginning to offer social media and IM archiving for the same reasons. Could this incident be an indicator for a cloud shift in IT? I say no, but let's wait and see...
Article by @bocramer & @aleckphillips
Full of webinars, research reports, magazine articles, and video clips to educate you on how to keep your business safe when adopting the cloud.
InformationWeek is quoting Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in an interview saying cloud computing is starting "hockey stick" curve growth.
This is a common term in the startup world to describe a gradual ramp, and then a sudden up-tick in activity as a tipping point of adoption is reached in a market.
At Sonian we saw the up-tick in cloud computing adoption last year, and continue to experience phenomenal customer, partner, and data-under-management traction.
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Sonian Founder and CTO to Speak at State of the Cloud Executive Conference 2010
-- Greg Arnette to Present on Panel Presentation --
WHEN: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 4:00 pm ET
WHERE: State of the Cloud Executive Conference 2010, Boston, MA
Sonian, the trusted cloud-powered universal data management company, recently announced that founder and CTO Greg Arnette will be speaking on a panel session at the State of the Cloud Executive Conference, occurring on April 26 and 27, 2010.
If you can't wait until next week to hear Greg speak, check out Greg speaking at EduComm 2009 about the Future of Cloud Computing.
The State of the Cloud Executive Conference is the convenient, one-stop Cloud Computing conference designed for CEOs, CIOs, senior IT executives and other decision makers. Greg will be a panelist for the “Preparation & Organizational Workflow” session, to be held on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. ET, alongside participants from Hurwitz & Associates, Patients Know Best, Parlerai Inc. & OnCorps and Savvis.
On the panel, Greg will be discussing the benefits and potential pitfalls businesses face when moving to cloud-based applications or services, and what organizations can do to make this move as easy and efficient as possible.
Details about the State of the Cloud Executive Conference are available at: http://www.stateofthecloud.com/index.html.
Listen to this Podcast to hear Greg Arnette, the founder and CTO of Sonian, speak about how the Cloud is scalable, reliable, efficient, and money saving.
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