Archive for cloud hosting

With the way conferences this year seems to be themed it would seem that everyone is jumping onboard the cloud computing bandwagon. And why wouldn’t they? The ability to have your data hosted from multiple points allows for the perfect fail safe. If one area dies another is there to pick up the slack, if one server farm gets attacked by hackers, relax there are many more.

It would seem to be the ultimate answer to solving the enterprise question of stability and reliability. After all in an enterprise environment, any small amount of downtime can cause very big problems.

And on this note I am going to say the top 5 reasons for enterprises to not use cloud computing:

  1. No Basic Standard
  2. Application Migration Hassle
  3. Managing Cloud Application Hassle
  4. High Risk
  5. Re-Education of the IT Staff

Sadly, there is no base standard for cloud computing. Heck, it would be hard to find a standard definition of cloud computing. Even the Cloud Manifesto that has come out recently doesn’t define cloud computing, merely its function.

Without a base standard for cloud computing, if you moved all of your functions to a provider and then ended up outgrowing that provider, moving to a new cloud host would require your company to re-migrate the applications and essentially start from scratch.

An enterprise cannot directly migrate current applications to cloud applications. It requires customization and time spent on moving valuable data to more cloud friendly applications.

Managing current cloud applications is not difficult. But it does require a change in company protocols (you no longer manage hardware, instead you manage software) and the use of multiple management tools.

Cloud computing is hosted so it requires the use of a firm Service Level Agreement that can guarantee the always on view of cloud computing. However, you would be very hard pressed for anyone to ever consider guaranteeing always on. Another issue is the case for core competencies. Sure Amazon understands managing huge server farms, but are they focused on the success of those endeavors? If their cloud computing side doesn’t make a large profit will it continue to support the technology or focus its efforts back to their main business of being an Internet superstore. Are the cloud computing companies capable of long range sustainability? The list of risk factors goes on.

As stated before, the emphasis in cloud computing is not on hardware, but on software. The IT department has to make the transition from monitoring hardware, being able to shut down systems for security purposes, etc. to being able to monitor software use, working with another company (heaven forbid) when it comes to troubleshooting problems, etc.

Personally, I like cloud computing and I believe every one of the above challenges can be overcome. However, I think companies should take realistic looks at the system before thinking it is right for them. And this goes not only for the optimistic views of cloud computing, but the pessimistic views as well.

Categories : Features
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Cloud and IBM/Cisco's Extensive Manifesto

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A declaration of principles and intentions is the definition of a manifesto and the Open Cloud Manifesto was definitely following that definition to a T.

What I find funny is the Open Cloud Manifesto was not really open. It didn’t really start open and its not really open to the major cloud players at the moment either. Instead it basically says open platform or else, which hasn’t really made folks like Amazon or Microsoft want to join in.

Its not a bad document it has a lot of areas where I think everyone can agree, but IBM is no slouch when it comes to this sort of thing and the message is definitely hand crafted for ultimate affect. And as I read it over and over again I can only conclude that that message was meant as a slap to those already in the cloud computing space.

Maybe I am wrong in thinking this but this seems more to me like posturing then actually trying to devise something for the cloud space.

There are already several companies who have penetrated the cloud market and with a few exceptions, the big ones are missing.

Although IBM says that this is only meant to start a discussion and a discourse I am wondering if it will. Surely companies thinking of starting cloud offerings and the smaller players will look into it, but will it actually foster change or just be one of many action groups that falls by the wayside?

The tenants of the manifesto are laudable but in the end, I think this will just fade away after many meetings and several action committees present various findings it will move to the background as other companies present their own cloud solutions.

And then the cycle will start again.

Categories : Commentary
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I got a chance to interview Jack Zubarev, President Service Provider Division of Parallels, and he told me that if you are loosing money or if your company is failing, the cloud is not going to fix the problem. I found this statement to be very satisfying because of how true it is. If your company is not doing well then you really should find ways of fixing that before you make a leap into a different technology. But that is a different article.

Touring the exhibit hall this year was a lot different than last year’s Parallels Summit. The Hall was far bigger and more open. You did not have to walk through it to get to the other areas, although you could, it wasn’t essential. When I first arrived to check out the hall, I thought the foot traffic was a lot less than the previous year, however as the day wore on the number of people on the floor greatly increased. After talking to various vendors, many echoed those sentiments.

From the exhibit hall it looks like the companies to follow this year are CloudMark (more on them in a separate post), keepit, Open-Xchange, SmarterTools, and Sarito (makers of Horde Skins plus).

This year’s Summit also included many schools and universities in attendance. Some showed up to cut costs (there even was a specific conference session on this called Virtualization Super Story: Oregon City School District Cuts IT Budget 60%) while others came in order to look for software and hardware for their IT classes. Hopefully, more academics will come out next year so they can see where the future of the Web Hosting industry is headed.

Although the tone of this Parallels Summit was focused on Cloud computing, I think there are a few more important lessons that can be learned from this Summit:

  • Know your customers
  • Understand your market
  • Due to the economy, look for acquisition opportunities.

Especially the last one. With the global economy slowing down, now is a great time to buy out the smaller companies. Combine this with understanding your market and knowing what you customers need, 2009 can be a very profitable year.

Categories : Commentary, Conferences
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Parallels Day 1: Press Rooms and the Cloud

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The Press Room made my cry. It was the single most beautiful thing I have seen in my 10 years of covering the Web host industry. Coffee, snacks, water, power sockets in the long table, coffee, comfy chairs, coffee, and did I mention comfy chairs? Journalist heaven, but I digress.

After a healthy breakfast (which sadly, did not include self-service coffee, but that’s probably a good thing) everyone went to the main room for a whirlwind three speaker set: John Eng, Serguei Beloussou, and Morris Miller. This set started off with video testimonials, a trend popularized by FastServers some two years ago. My hat is off to the folks at FastServers.

The Summit boasts some healthy statistics:

  • 1000 + attendees
  • 100+ ISVs
  • 50 sessions
  • And Serguei backed by a laser light show!

These stats are nice, but lets put them into perspective. Last year there were 500+ attendees, 20+ ISVs, less sessions, and more important, no laser light show.

The word on everyone’s lips for this Summit is Cloud Hosting and what it means to the future of Web Hosting. I think Serguei said it best when he said, “The problem with the cloud is that it is… cloudy.”

Which sadly, is very true. Many definitions of cloud hosting has been floating around for years. What is interesting is the concept of cloud hosting has been around since the first electronic computers. Back then it was a local concept, mainframe and terminals connecting to the mainframe. Single computer attached to a lot of local computers. With the Internet we are going back to this primitive setup, because well it works. Only now we have many computers interconnected with smart terminals (our computers and Internet ready devices). The Internet has grown to the point of being able to handle the traffic involved with this mass scale setup and the future for it looks bright indeed. Cloud hosting is not just about hosting sites, it’s about promoting services, increasing stability, and reducing overhead costs based on need not on some theoretical amount of resources that a user may or may not need.

However, while the debate continues as to how or what Cloud Hosting is let me leave you with a few statistics from Parallels.

  • In 2008, Cloud Hosting expenditures took up 4% of IT budgets around the world.
  • In 2010, it is estimated that this will grow to 9% of all IT budgets.
  • This is a 26 billion dollar increase.

The question remains, will you make the move or will you stand still?

Categories : Commentary, Conferences
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