David Kirkpatrick

June 3, 2010

Google’s Chrome OS coming out this fall

As much as I love the Chrome browser, I don’t see myself switching to the Chrome OS, but it will be very interesting to see how quickly it’s adopted and how it actually works out in the wild stability- and privacy-wise. Particularly the latter of those two.

From the link:

Google said Wednesday it is planning to release its Chrome operating system, seen as a rival to Microsoft’s Windows system, for free in the autumn.

April 21, 2010

The downside of Google’s Chrome OS?

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:04 pm

Privacy issues. I consider privacy the big bugaboo of cloud computing in general, and the simple nature of Google’s Chrome operating system and the company’s penchant for (really its corporate raison d’etre) data mining the potential for serious abuse of user data is there.

I don’t have a problem with all data mining and I certainly understand what Google does and why. I absolutely love the Chrome browser and recommend it for everyone, and I use Gmail for a number of secondary email accounts, but I’m not even close to ready to trusting all my data to a cloud controlled by Google, or any other entity for that matter.

From the link:

The naming scheme is no accident. It reflects Google’s ambition to create an operating system that is all but indistinguishable from the browser. Gone will be the normal files, directories, and applications. Instead, Chrome OS will put Google’s cloud computing infrastructure–services and applications delivered over the Internet from its vast array of servers–at the heart of practically everything you do. Within a few years, Chrome OS could become the planet’s simplest, fastest, and safest environment for personal computing. But there’s a catch: it will also make Google the gatekeeper of your personal information. It could let Google delve further into your data to make its online advertising business more profitable than ever.

There is one upside — your “backup” data is located in your computer, so when it craps out the real data still resides on Google’s servers and isn’t lost. That alone might make the Chrome OS attractive to some people.

Also from the link:

Google’s engineers have explained that Chrome OS will use your computer’s hard drive as a cache, making copies of whatever you’re working on so that you won’t burn up your netbook’s wireless data plan (or your batteries). All that personal data will be encrypted, so you won’t need to worry if you happen to lose the machine. And if for some reason your computer gets corrupted–perhaps by a virus–you’ll be able to wipe it and start over without losing any work at all, since your data is stored in the cloud.

March 13, 2010

Google makes cloud acquisition

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:20 pm

This move really pushes Microsoft because it’s going to give Google’s users the opportunity to access full-featured Microsoft Office files in the cloud before Microsoft provides that service.

From the link:

Late last week, Google (GOOG) made another aggressive move to stay ahead of Microsoft (MSFT) in the online productivity tools space by acquiring DocVerse, a startup founded by two former Microsoft employees, known for tools that let users collaborate on Microsoft Office files on the Web.

Google nabbed the three-year-old, San Francisco-based DocVerse for $25 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. What Google gets in return is the technology to make Microsoft Office operate more like Google Docs.

DocVerse provides a 1MB plug-in to Office 2007 that allows users to edit and share Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents online and in real-time with all the features of the Office client versions intact.

February 18, 2010

One major advantage with cloud computing — experimentation

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:22 pm

This link goes an article titled, “Cloud Computing’s Three Revolutions: Part 2,” and the whole piece is worth checking out (along with the first part) if you’re interesting in cloud computing. I have some serious concerns about cloud computing, particularly with privacy and the current state of legal precedent regarding the public/private status of data in the cloud (hint: right now people computing in the cloud are “not truly acting in private space at all” per U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman.)

Those concerns aside, this point from the first link details one place where a secure, private cloud can really help push innovation by removing a traditional roadblock to IT experimentation:

Low Cost Fosters Experimentation

An aspect of cloud computing that isn’t emphasized enough in most discussions about it is the fact that it is ideally suited for application experimentation. Just as the high-cost, capital-intensive IT of the past caused investment to focus on the safest, lowest-risk applications, the low-cost, capital-lite IT of cloud computing will motivate business organizations to experiment with new business initiatives. Business initiatives that, in the past, couldn’t have gotten enough support to justify sharing precious capital to take a flyer on them, will find a far friendlier environment in cloud computing.

A good example of this is the NASDAQ Market Replay application that leverages Amazon Web Services. Trying to buy enough equipment for this application would have been prohibitive, even though the application’s value seemed intuitive. Using AWS, the application could be developed for much less, which made launching it much lower risk. New applications can be tried out at a cost of hundreds or thousands of dollars, rather than the hundreds of thousands of dollars required heretofore. If you are a line of business executive with innovative ideas, cloud computing is going to make your prospects much brighter.

In the “low cost fosters experimentation” perspective, cloud computing is much like open source. In his book Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky noted that open source’s low cost encourages experimentation and making mistakes. When the stakes are low, trials that don’t work out are much more acceptable—and increasing the numbers of trials increases the odds for success.

January 29, 2010

Cloud computing and privacy

The early results are not too promising.

From the link:

Loosely defined, cloud computing involves programs or services that run on Internet servers. Despite the buzz surrounding it, the idea isn’t new–think Web mail. But huge benefits, such as being able to gain access to your data from anywhere and not having to worry about backups, have led more people to leap to the Internet to do everything from writing documents and watching movies to managing their businesses. Unfortunately, privacy is often still stuck at home.

Behind the Times

Archaic laws that focus on where your information is, rather than what it is, are part of the problem. But a disturbing lack of respect for essential privacy among industry heavyweights who should know better is also evident.

Consider comments that Google CEO Eric Schmidt made during a recent CNBC interview. In response to the question, “People are treating Google (GOOG) like their most trusted friend. Should they be?” Schmidt responded, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

This kind of “only the guilty have anything to hide” mindset is a privacy killer, and rests on the completely flawed no tion that people want privacy only when they’re doing something wrong. There’s nothing wrong with my taking a shower or searching for information about a medical condition. But it’s still private.

It’s possible Schmidt spoke without thinking–Google is mum for now on the prospect of issuing a clarification of any kind. But meanwhile, privacy is taking a pounding in other areas, as well.

Last summer, a U.S. District Court judge in Oregon ruled that government law enforcement agencies need not provide you with a copy of a warrant they have obtained in order to read all of your e-mail stored on an Internet server–where most of us keep e-mail these days. It’s sufficient to give your Internet service provider notice, according to Judge Michael Mosman.

In his opinion and order, Mosman noted the Fourth Amendment’s “strong privacy protection for homes and the items within them in the physical world.” Still, he said, “When a person uses the Internet, however, the user’s actions are no longer in his or her physical home; in fact he or she is not truly acting in private space at all.”

I bolded that last bit of text, and that may be the most important statement regarding cloud computing and privacy — when you are operating in the cloud, United States Fourth Amendment law as it is currently read does not protect your privacy.

Let me restate that — any actions you take in any aspect of cloud computing conceivably are not covered by your Fourth Amendment right to privacy. This fact should give anyone who is considering the cloud for anything beyond trivial usage a great deal of pause.

January 27, 2010

Cloud computing security

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:07 pm

Security is certainly the most prominent concern going right now with cloud computing. Having a long memory of dodgey connectivity using dial-up and even DSL lines, just making certain I could get to my data, services, et.al. in the cloud remain something of a personal concern.

From the link:

The hype around cloud computing would make you think mass adoption will happen tomorrow. But recent studies by a number of sources have shown that security is the biggest barrier to cloud adoption. The reality is cloud computing is simply another step in technology evolution following the path of mainframe, client server and Web applications, all of which had — and still have — their own security issues

Security concerns did not stop those technologies from being deployed and they will not stop the adoption of cloud applications that solve real business needs. To secure the cloud, it needs to be treated as the next evolution in technology not a revolution that requires broad based changes to your security model. Security policies and procedures need to be adapted to include cloud models in order to prepare for the adoption of cloud-based services. Like other technologies, we’re seeing early adopters take the lead and instill confidence in the cloud model by deploying private clouds or by experimenting with less-critical information in public clouds.

January 22, 2010

Microsoft wants data center legal protection

Filed under: Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:22 pm

Actually, not a bad idea.

From the link:

Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT) top legal official yesterday called on Congress to create new laws that would give data stored in the cloud the same protections as data stored on a PC. He also called for tougher penalties for hackers who access data centers, citing significant damage that’s often done in such attacks.

Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, told an audience at a Brookings Institution forum here today that laws now protecting electronic data were written in the early days of PCs. “We need Congress to modernize the laws and adapt them to the cloud,” he said.

Click here to find out more!While many consumers have adopted cloud computing by subscribing to e-mail services like Google (GOOG) Gmail, to social networks like Facebook and to Microsoft’s increasing online services offerings, enterprises have been somewhat cautious about moving corporate data to hosted systems due to legal and security concerns both here and abroad. Those fears have been causing problem for IT vendors, forcing some to provide significant protections to large users.

January 15, 2010

Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard teaming for cloud computing project

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:27 am

To the tune of a quarter billion dollars. Pretty serious initiative, I’d say.

From the link:

“This is all about integrating technology and making things as close to ‘plug and play’ as we can,” HP CEO Mark Hurd said during a telephone conference call with Microsoft  and other executives, in which they announced a partnership that appears to represent another move toward consolidation in the commercial tech industry.

The two tech giants said they will collaborate in designing a full “stack” of data center , software management tools and other applications, as well as on Windows Azure, which is Microsoft’s operating platform for , in which customers can access data center services over the Internet.

Microsoft, which is a major provider of business software, said it will use HP hardware in the data centers that run the Azure platform. HP, which is a leading provider of data center hardware, said it will develop products that can be sold pre-loaded with Microsoft’s operating system, database program or other software.

“We’re driving ahead aggressively with Hewlett-Packard,” Ballmer said during the announcement. However, he also noted that both companies will continue to develop products in collaboration with other partners in the tech industry, such as Oracle and Dell.

Both executives also said their companies will continue to develop hardware and software that works with products from other tech vendors.

November 20, 2009

Google’s Chrome OS is out

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:32 pm

Here’s a quick report from Technology Review. I’m not convinced naming the operating system to match the browser is that great an idea. I see confusion amongst the casual user. I’m guessing that’s what Google is shooting for, but I don’t see any real advantage there. Both products need marketing — marketing to separate groups — to gain any real traction, and I can’t imagine any level of confusion among users is going to help those efforts.

From the link:

Google gave the first demonstration of its Chrome operating system today, at the same time opening the source code to the public. The company highlighted features that have grown out of what vice president of product management Sundar Pichai called “a fundamentally different model of computing.” Unlike other operating systems, which merely incorporate the Internet, Chrome is completely focused on it.

The Chrome OS is based so aggressively on the Internet that devices running it will not even have hard drives, Pichai said, emphasizing that “every app is a Web app.” All data will be stored in the cloud, and every application will be accessed through the Chrome browser. Because of this, he added, users will never have to install software or manage updates on the device.

The user interface closely resembles the Chrome browser. When the user opens applications, they appear as tabbed windows across the top of the screen. Users can stick their favorite applications to the desktop with one click, creating permanent tabs for them.

October 30, 2009

A cloud computing primer

Filed under: Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:05 pm

I’ve done plenty of blogging about cloud computing, but as the buzzword gets more and more mainstream, more people become curious. This article lays out the basics, pros and cons of cloud computing for anyone looking for a quick primer.

From the second link:

What exactly are we talking about? The “cloud” is an IT term for the Internet, and cloud computing, or cloud integration, means storing and having access to your computer data and software on the Internet, rather than running it on your personal computer or office server. In fact, if you use programs such as Gmail or Google docs (GOOG), you may not realize you are already doing cloud computing.

Part of the confusion is that the terminology is rather vaporous, particularly for non-tech-savvy types, including many small business owners. And it does represent a major shift in how businesses and individuals use and store digital information. We’ll go through some pros and cons that may help you decide whether this is right for your firm.

October 13, 2009

Storage Networking Industry Association in the cloud

Cloud computing is moving beyond buzzword status and entering the realm of the wide-release meme. You’re going to hear “cloud” all over the place, and get hit with cloud computing opinions from people who effectively have no clue what they’re talking about.

Projects like these should help quantify and define this tech movement.

From the link:

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) announced today the formation of the Cloud Storage Initiative (CSI) in order to establish a lexicon of cloud-computing terminology, publish use cases, white papers and technical specifications, and to create reference implementation models for grid-storage architectures.

The CSI will coordinate and deliver educational materials for cloud storage vendors and user communities. The organization also plans to perform market outreach highlighting the virtues of cloud storage. The group is developing a single specification as part of its efforts. The Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI) will be an application programming interface to which vendors can write management software that will allow interoperability between heterogeneous cloud storage offerings, according to Wayne Adams, SNIA’s chairman emeritus. The SNIA made the announcement at the Storage Networking World conference, which is co-sponsored by Computerworld .

Cybersecurity and cloud computing

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:25 pm

There are many pitfalls out there vis-a-vis security and privacy and cloud computing. Both enterprise and individuals should approach cloud computing methodically and really put some thought into what data goes into the cloud.

From the link:

The best defense against data theft, malware and viruses in the cloud is self defense, researchers at the Hack In The Box (HITB) security conference said. But getting people to change how they use the Internet, such as what personal data they make public, won’t be easy.

Also from the link:

Access to personal data on the cloud from just about anywhere on a variety of devices, from smartphones and laptops to home PCs, shows another major vulnerability because other people may be able to find that data, too.

“As an attacker, you should be licking your lips,” said Haroon Meer, a researcher at Sensepost, a South African security company that has focused on Web applications for the past six years. “If all data is accessible from anywhere, then the perimeter disappears. It makes hacking like hacking in the movies.”

October 12, 2009

Pentagon’s cloud computing availability claim off …

… by a thousandth of one percent. That ‘s some retraction.

From the link:

Days after claiming 99.999% availability for its newcloud computing service, a U.S. Defense Department spokesman says he misspoke and meant to say the agency is achieving 99.99% availability instead.

October 9, 2009

Cloud computing in D.C.

Filed under: Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:40 pm

CIO.com carried two stories today on cloud computing in Washington. The first covers a cloud computing conference in D.C. going on this week, and the second covers an endorsement of cloud computing by the CIA for internal use.

From the second link:

One of the U.S. government’s strongest advocates of cloud computing is also one of its most secretive operations: the Central Intelligence Agency. But the CIA has adopted cloud computing in a big way, and the agency believes that the cloud approach makes IT environments more flexible and secure.

Jill Tummler Singer, the CIA’s deputy CIO, says that she sees enormous benefits to a cloud approach. And while the CIA has been moving steadily to build a cloud-friendly infrastructure — it has adopted virtualization, among other things — cloud computing is still a relatively new idea among federal agencies.

“Cloud computing as a term really didn’t hit our vocabulary until a year ago,” said Singer.

But now that the CIA is building an internal cloud, Singer sees numerous benefits. For example, a cloud approach could bolster security , in part, because it entails the use of a standards-based environment that reduces complexity and allows faster deployment of patches.

“By keeping the cloud inside your firewalls, you can focus your strongest intrusion-detection and -prevention sensors on your perimeter, thus gaining significant advantage over the most common attack vector, the Internet,” said Singer.

October 5, 2009

IBM throws down a cloud gauntlet

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:46 pm

By undercutting Google’s  business email service at $36 a year against Google’s $50 annual rate. IBM, old and hoary as it might be, has a strong track record for supporting enterprise-level applications, and a strong case on the difference between consumer and enterprise support — a serious cloud computing issue — but at the end of the day I don’t see Big Blue cutting too far into Google’s expanding empire.

From the link:

Without providing specifics, Google says its corporate users now number in the “hundreds of thousands.” Some companies, including Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc., switched from IBM’s premium e-mail service that costs substantially more than Web-based e-mail.

Now, IBM is counter-punching. IBM thinks the timing for its e-mail alternative is ideal, given that Google’s service suffered a highly publicized outage that locked out corporate customers for nearly two hours last month.

“Candidly, Google has shown itself to be weak” in some areas of e-mail, said Sean Poulley, an IBM executive overseeing the company’s e-mail service. “There is a world of difference between supporting a consumer-grade service and a business-grade service.”

October 1, 2009

Cloud computing and security

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:16 pm

An interesting overview from Bill Brenner at CIO.com.

From the link, the conclusion:

Having said that, I also agree with Mike Versace that we should offer some basic approaches that ease the learning curve and ask some basic questions. The approach that I’ve been using is what I coined RAIN, which is just a plain old tried-and-true planning and analysis approach with emphasis on interfacing.

  • (R)equirement: understand your business requirements, and derive technical, non-technical, regulatory and security requirements.
  • (A)nalysis: from your requirements, analyze what tasks or services you want to or can outsource, and clearly define which party is responsible for which tasks, to reduce confusion and conflict later; perform risk analysis, especially with respect to cloud connectivity, mutli-tenancy, local data privacy regulations (of your providers), and business continuity.
  • (I)nterface: clearly define system and human interfaces. Who and how to contact providers for services or problems? What API or webpages to use and how, what the returned result should look like? The more interfaces/touch points, the higher the risk for breakages or problems.
  • e(N)sure – verify and ensure services are performed according to agreements. (Validate and boundary) Test the results sent from providers to ensure that they are in the correct formats and are what you expected; audit or pen test services; perform practice runs with your providers.

This is nothing new or fancy, but I’ve witnessed light-bulb moments without glassy eyes when I explained cloud computing challenges with this approach.

In more cloud computing news today, here’s Technology Review and CIO.com on Amazon’s cloud services.

September 4, 2009

Google blackout bad omen for cloud computing?

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:11 pm

Incidents like Google’s outage are exactly what gives me qualms about cloud computing. I had a pretty dodgy DSL line for a while and every time it was down for any amount of time I was a train wreck. If I was busy at the time it was even worse since I work out of a home office. I know for a fact I lost at least one contract because my service was out for an afternoon.

Thinking about going total cloud makes me imagine that scenario jacked up a few orders of magnitude. If your documents are in the cloud any outage takes them away. Running a cloud operating system? A blackout means a black desktop.

Anyone who runs a business using Gmail for a primary email and Google Apps for document storgage was totally shut down Tuesday afternoon.

Cloud computing definitely has some serious kinks to work out before it’s a serious option for real-world application.

From the link:

What have we learned from Google‘s latest outage? That 99.9 percent uptime doesn’t matter during the other one-tenth of one percent.

Yesterday’s outage was not Google’s first. They don’t happen very often, but they do happen often enough that anyone seriously considering Google for cloud computing ought to think again.

Gmail is the core of the Google Apps suite that is targeting Microsoft Office. Imagine Google does that successfully and tens, maybe hundreds of millions of users’ connected offices go offline simultaneously due to some Google glitch.

(My colleague Ian Paul agrees that the outage casts a dark cloud over cloud computing).

That prospect ought to be enough for sensible people to let others enjoy Google’s growing pains. Which is also why Gmail and Google Apps users are wise to retain other ways of getting their work done. But, if we can’t rely on Google Apps, why are we using them?

July 2, 2009

Cloud computing and Wall Street

Looks like IT tight budgets at financial firms are the rubber and cloud computing is the new road.

From the link:

Can new technology initiatives help pull Wall Street out of the danger zone? A new survey released by IBM and Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) finds that IT budgets are tight on Wall Street, but things are loosening up, and there’s going to be plenty of demand for new technology initiatives in the near future as firms on the Street look to “transformational” solutions to help better manage risk.

The survey of more than 350 Wall Street IT professionals found a “significant” increase in interest in new technologies and computing models, in particular cloud computing, as firms seek to overcome budgetary restrictions and skills shortages. Almost half of the respondents now see cloud computing as a disruptive force.

The past year has seen marked growth interest in cloud computing. The number of respondents predicting that cloud computing would force significant business change more than doubled (from 21% in 2008 to 46% in 2009), making it the top disruptive technology, ahead of operational risk modeling and mobile technologies.

Major initiatives underway at most Wall Street firms include enhancing electronic trading tools (69%), improving data capacity and bandwidth (58%), and improving technology framework and infrastructure
(58%). It can be assumed that the last item includes SOA efforts.

July 1, 2009

Amazon and cloud computing

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:15 pm

Did you know Amazon is in the cloud computing outsourcing business? Me either. Looks like the books and products e-tailer is now offering outsourcing for “a storage service, a compute service, a database service, a messaging service and a payment service.”

Overreach away from a core competency or a great business idea to leverage internal knowledge?

June 19, 2009

Cloud computing and accounting

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:04 pm

Now there’s a header I didn’t expect to be typing anytime soon. A coupling of one of the buzziest of tech buzzwords going and bean counting. Who knows, maybe the two go together like butter and toast. It’s going to be interesting to watch and see how much of cloud computing is just a lot of hot (and in this case opaque) air, and how much turns into real world applications. For the record, I’m not certain some of the actual applications cited in this article truly relate to current concept of cloud computing.

From the link:

Cloud-based computing is an extension of SaaS. Rather than hosting the client and their data on a specific fixed server, the application provider often has multiple servers in multiple locations, and a user can be actually operating on different computers every time they call.

According to Dr. Chandra Bhansali, chief executive of Hauppauge, N.Y.-based AccountantsWorld, one of the earliest providers of Web-based accountant-oriented applications, “This is the time where accountants are starting to see the promise of cloud computing. The most important benefit the Internet brings is collaboration. There is no other profession where the client works so closely with the service provider.”


The burgeoning remote trend has become especially appealing to small businesses that often lack the IT resources of their larger counterparts.

For Penny Banker-Mertz, EA, proprietor of Penny Banker Tax & Financial in Bay City, Texas, being able to work remotely, and with clients that also sometimes need the same remote capability, is a big plus. She uses AccountantsWorld’s Accounting Relief product. “I can review accounting from anywhere I have a high-speed connection. I don’t have to be tied to my office. Some of my clients who are also self-employed like this feature as well.”

June 5, 2009

Cloud computing and business

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:16 pm

I’ve done plenty of blogging about cloud computing in the past and here are two more links on the topic. First up is a BusinessWeek breakdown on how cloud computing will change business and next is the thoughts of Microsoft’s chief software architect, Ray Ozzie, on cloud computing.

From the BusinessWeek link:

In 1990, in a keynote speech at the Comdex computer conference, Microsoft’s (MSFT) then-chief executive, Bill Gates, bolstered his bona fides as a tech visionary when he declared the PC industry would produce advances within a few years that would put information at people’s fingertips. To get there, Gates said, the world needed three things: a more “personal” personal computer, more powerful communications networks, and easy access to a broad range of information. Sometimes visionaries are right on the vision but off on the timing.

Only now is Gates’ grand vision finally becoming a reality for businesses. While pieces of what he had in mind have been available for years, they typically were expensive and difficult to set up and use. Now that more personal PC is here in the form of smartphones and mini-laptops, and broadband wireless networks make it possible for people to be connected almost anytime and anywhere. At the same time, we’re seeing the rise of cloud computing, the vast array of interconnected machines managing the data and software that used to run on PCs. This combination of mobile and cloud technologies is shaping up to be one of most significant advances in the computing universe in decades. “The big vision: We’re finally getting there,” says Donagh Herlihy, chief information officer of Avon Products (AVP). “Today, wherever you are, you can connect to all the information you need.”

And here’s Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie:

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect and the guest speaker at last night’s dinner (Techmeme), said the company wasn’t necessarily talking or thinking about the cloud when he came on board as part of the acquisition of his company, called Groove Networks, in 2005. When it came time to start offering a new way of thinking about the cloud and software, the approach came slowly. At the event, he said:

In any large organization, the government, the military, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, change of management is a challenge. You cannot effect change by mandate. You can’t say this is the way it’s gonna be and everyone snaps.

Speaking at any event where the topic has to do with cloud computing means that you inevitably are asked to define cloud computing. Clearly, Ozzie must have given a lot of thought to a definition for the cloud but he actually may have given it too much thought. While not quite as babbling as Sen. Ted Stevens’ explanation of how the Internet works (remember the “series of tubes?”), Ozzie’s definition of cloud computing was definitely worthy of a “huh?” head shake.

…self-service on-demand way of accessing resources with a virtualized abstraction that is relatively homogeneous

Wow. That’s a mouthful. But it also goes to show that even someone like the Chief Software Architect at Microsoft struggles with a way to define the cloud. Still, he spoke highly of the work that Microsoft does in the cloud environment, as well as on the client side, to meet the changing needs of all types of customers, from consumers to large enterprise.

May 21, 2009

Cloud computing not ready for prime time

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:51 pm

A fact pounded home by Google’s recent problems with outages and malicious links in search results.

Here’s a CIO.com article on cloud computing and why a slow and steady approach is best:

These are troubling events that illustrate just how perilous the cloud can be. But don’t believe those who suggest this is a new threat. It merely validates the security concerns smart people have been raising for a very long time.

One of the people I trust on this issue is Chris Hoff, whose recent cloud security talk at SOURCE Boston attracted a crowd that included security luminaries like Dan Geer [ CSO podcast interview with Geer] and Marcus Ranum.

Hoff has warned repeatedly that companies are moving too fast on cloud computing without truly understanding what it’s about first. [“This love affair with abusing the amorphous thing called ‘THE Cloud’ is rapidly approaching meteoric levels of asininity,” he told me in one interview.]

Another voice I trust on the issue is Ariel Silverstone, a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces with experience in physical and information security who regularly contributes to information technology certification exams and to newspapers, magazines and online publications like CSOonline.

In his latest CSO column [ Cloud Security: Danger (and Opportunity) Ahead] Silverstone noted that the breathtaking pace of cloud computing adoption demands that the technology evolve with stronger security woven into the architecture.

“We approach quickly the point in which the amount of data and of processing in the cloud will be not only unmanageable but also pose a security and related privacy risk to the users of the data, and to people who the data concerns,” he wrote.

April 24, 2009

Search and seizure and data centers

Filed under: Business, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:34 pm

This ought to be troubling for anyone storing data anywhere other than a drive in their possession. Hopefully you’d at least be backed-up somewhere in your possession, but the idea your data could be indefinitely seized and pored over by the authorities should be very chilling. And as the article mentions, should be a significant aspect of the the cloud computing argument.

From the link:

The FBI’s target in the data center raid—one of five seizures conducted that day—is simply listed as Cabinet 24.02.900 in the affidavit and search warrant.

Cabinet 24.02.900 allegedly held the computers and data used to serve voice-over-IP clients for the companies at the center of the case. Yet, it was also home to the digital presence of dozens of other businesses, according to press reports. To LiquidMotors, a company that provides inventory management to car dealers, the servers held its client data and hosted its managed inventory services. The FBI seizure of the servers in the data center rack effectively shut down the company, which filed a lawsuit against the FBI the same day to get the data back.

“Although the search warrant was not issued for the purpose of seizing property belonging to Liquid Motors, the FBI seized all of the servers and backup tapes belonging to Liquid Motors, Inc.,” the company stated in its court filing. “Since the FBI seized its computer equipment earlier today, Liquid Motors has been unable to operate its business.”

The court denied the company’s attempt to get its data back, but the FBI offered to copy the data to blank tapes to help the company restart its services, according to a report in Wired.

The incident has worried IT managers, especially those with a stake in cloud computing, where a company’s data could be co-mingled with other businesses’ data on a collection of servers.

“The issue, I think, is one of how search and seizure laws are being interpreted for assets hosted in third-party facilities,” James Urquhart, manager of Cisco Systems’ Data Center 3.0 strategy, said in a recent blog post. “If the court upholds that servers can be seized despite no direct warrants being served on the owners of those servers—or the owners of the software and data housed on those servers—then imagine what that means for hosting your business in a cloud shared by thousands or millions of other users.”

March 9, 2009

Web 2.0 government

Filed under: Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:29 am

Looks like the nation’s first CIO is looking to make some needed changes around D.C. I particularly like the idea of a data.gov site with open format access to U.S. government information and documents. Bring the government of the people back to the people.

From the link:

The U.S. government’s first CIO, Vivek Kundra, introduced himself Thursday as someone who will act aggressively to change the federal government’s use of IT by adopting consumer technology and ensuring that government data is open and accessible.

Kundra also wants to use technology such as cloud computing to attack the government’s culture of big-contract boondoggles and its hiring of contractors who end up “on the payroll indefinitely.”

Kundra, in a conference call Thursday with reporters shortly after President Barack Obama named him as federal CIO said one of his first projects is to create a data.gov Web site to “democratize” the federal government’s vast information treasures by making them accessible in open formats and in feeds that can be used by application developers.

“How can we leverage the power of technology to make sure the country is moving in the right direction?” asked Kundra, stressing that his ambition is to “revolutionize technology in the public sector.”

Kundra was expansive about his tech goals and critical of the government’s contracting record for IT projects that “frankly haven’t performed well,” saying there have been few consequences for failures.

August 26, 2008

Cloud computing brings security benefits

I’ve blogged on cloud computing before and this Technology Review article suggests the concept might be the best way to keep PCs virus-free.

From the second link:

Most people know better than to connect a computer to the Internet without first installing up-to-date antivirus software. But even the best software protection won’t catch every new virus, and performing a thorough system scan can require plenty of processor power, slowing some computers to a crawl.

New research from the Universityof Michigan suggests that computers could be better protected from viruses without sacrificing performance if antivirus software were moved from the PC to “the cloud”–a collection of servers that work seamlessly as one powerful machine. Using this approach, researchers found that they could detect 35 percent more recent viruses than a single antivirus program (88 percent compared with 73 percent). Moreover, using the distributed software, called Cloud AV, they caught 98 percent of all malicious software, compared with 83 percent, on average, for a single antivirus solution.

August 8, 2008

A cloud computing backgrounder

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:26 pm

If you’ve been reading any info tech media lately I’m sure you’ve at least come across the hottest buzzword around — cloud computing.

CIO.com has a fairly comprehensive article titled “Demystifying Cloud Computing.” It’s a great place to start to learn more about the topic.

From the link:

Welcome Cloud Computing

Staten describes the concept as “a pool of abstracted, highly-scalable, and managed compute infrastructure capable of hosting end-customer applications and billed by consumption.”

Simply put, cloud computing is the next generation model of computing services. It combines the concepts of software being provided as a service, working on the utility computing business model, and running on grid or cluster computing technologies. Cloud computing aims to leverage supercomputing power, which can be measured in tens of trillions of computations per second, to deliver various IT services to users through the Web.

In his report, Staten refers to cloud computing as a service delivery platform, which is built on the same basic fundamentals of traditional hosting or SaaS. The building blocks of cloud computing, he says, that take the concept beyond conventional forms of IT service delivery models are:

— A prescripted and abstracted infrastructure. Fundamental to the cloud computing model is standardization of infrastructure and abstraction layers that allow the fluid placement and movement of services. It starts with a flat implementation of scale-out server hardware that, for some clouds, serves as both compute and storage infrastructure (others are leveraging SAN storage). Their infrastructure enables the cloud and is decided upon solely by the cloud vendor; customers don’t get to specify the infrastructure they want — a major shift from traditional hosting.

— Fully virtualized. Nearly every cloud computing vendor abstracts the hardware with some sort of server virtualization. The majority employ a hypervisor to keep costs low. Some have solutions that span virtual and physical servers via another middleware element, such as a grid engine.

— Equipped with dynamic infrastructure software. Most clouds employ infrastructure software that can easily add, move, or change an application with very little, if any, intervention by cloud provider personnel.

— Pay by use. Most clouds charge by actual use of resources in CPU hours, gigabits (Gbs) consumed, and gigabits per second (Gbps) transferred, rather than by a server or with a monthly fee. Their pricing is compelling.

— Free of long-term contracts. Most cloud vendors let you come and go as you please. The minimum order through XCalibre’s FlexiScale cloud, for example, is one hour, with no sign-up fee. This makes clouds an ideal place to prototype a new service, conduct test and development, or run a limited-time campaign without IT commitments.

— Application and OS independent. In most cases, the architectures of clouds support nearly any type of app a customer may want to host as long as it does not need direct access to hardware or specialized hardware elements. Cloud vendors told say there’s nothing about their infrastructures that would prevent them from supporting any x86-compatible OS.

— Free of software or hardware installation. You tap into a cloud just as you would any remote server. All you need is a log-in. There’s no software or hardware requirement at the customer end nor the need for specialized tools.

Update 8/11/08 — More on cloud computing from AccountantsWorld.com. I don’t if it’s just the IT updatesI receive or not, but it seems I can’t turn around without hearing something about cloud computing right now.

Update number 2 from 8/11 — See what I mean? Here’s another CIO.com article, this time featuring Dell. It appears the Texas-based computer company tried to copyright the term “cloud computing,” that effort has hit some Fed roadblocks. Dell does own www.cloudcomputing.com.