How Cloud Brokerage Enables a Practical Path to Cloud IT

More and more business and governmental agencies are migrating to the cloud but the reality is that move can often be slow, painful, and complicated. Even expert system integrators are struggling to stay relevant and help their customers use cloud in a practical way. Challenges that siphon away time and money and introduce risk and governance issues include:
Designing and matching different applications to the best cloud offering
Learning to provision and integrate using phone book-sized cloud API guides

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ICT Rankings to be Updated at Cloud Expo

I like to organize part of my life around Cloud Expo, coming up again in New York June 10-13. One new tradition is to published our updated Tau Index results at the event. We will be doing this in New York again this year.

We published our original Tau Index results in conjunction with Cloud Expo’s Fall 2010 Silicon Valley event.

The Tau Index takes a relative look at national ICT commitments throughout the world. Our original algorithm relied significantly on World Bank statistics regarding ICT spending, leavened by income disparity and cost of living. The idea was that high income disparity blunts the benefits of technology spending, but a low cost of living multiplies it as technology costs a similar amount everywhere.

How We Started
Our first results showed developing nations topping the list. Bangladesh was our leader, followed by Morocco, Ukraine, Egypt, Hungary, Malaysia, Bulgaria, Senegal, Czech Republic, and Vietnam rounding out the Top 10.

Our Top 25 also included (in this order) South Korea, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Thailand, India, Honduras, Slovakia, South Africa, Kenya, Philippines, Tunisia, Iran, and Russia.

The United States finished 46th out of 73 countries surveyed.

We had a subsequent discussion with the World Bank, which decided it would not be using the same source in the future, and in fact wouldn’t be listing ICT expenditures at all. We’re using the term ICT rather than IT, by the way, as it’s in common use in most of the world outside of the US, and because it includes telco.

Telco does still include “plain old telephone service” (POTS) – and in fact my local telco rep used that very term this week in describing options for our upgraded Tau Institute offices in Northwest Illinois. But all the exciting, dynamic stuff with IT is happening in conjunction telecommunications, cable, and satellite companies. Increasingly, the medium is the message in the world of ICT.

Real-World View
Our original research came from my observations as a really lucky guy who’s been able to see large parts of the world. There’s palpable energy on the streets of most Asian countries, for example, more so than dry statistics about income levels and economic growth can indicate. There’s a certain dynamism throughout what most Americans call Eastern Europe, as a variety of nations continue to fight, 20+ years on, through the ravages of their Soviet legacy. There’s new hope springing up in numerous places in vast, vast Africa.

The question arose, “how can we measure and convey this dynamism?”

There are also numerous developed nations that are outshining their regional and economic peers. Our initial results skewed so heavily toward developing nations, we decided we needed to take a renewed look at our algorithms.

Today, we’re up to 102 countries in our analysis. We focus more heavily on bandwidth, Internet access, server installations, and overall economic development than we did originally. Our process still adjusts significantly for income disparity and cost-of-living, but also takes into account factors such as the perception of corruption.

South Korea Rising
Thus, our revised, refined rankings show developed countries faring much better, and South Korea earning what we think is its rightful place at the top of the rankings. We have also created a second, “raw” index that takes less account of social factors and which thus favors many of the developing nations that fared so well in our initial rankings.

We don’t take into account specific government policies or initiatives. We believe that these are a function of the overall dynamism of a country’s ICT activity. But we’re keeping our eye on whether this area should be integrated into our process some day.

We also don’t take into account types of government. Without getting into a political argument, we’ve seen no correlation between the type of government and our rankings – with the obvious exception of a few pariah-state totalitarian dictatorships. (They wouldn’t do well if we could measure them.)

Our current rankings, which I’ve written about extensively, are broken into overall and raw tables, as well as rankings in both categories by region and income tier.

Current View
A quick review of the current Top 10 shows South Korea, Estonia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Vietnam, United Kingdom, and Lithuania. Our raw Top 10 includes Vietnam, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Bulgaria, Romania, and Morocco.

The United States continues to languish, currently residing in 34th place in the overall rankings.

We do not wish to understate the serious nature of problems facing many of these countries. We also don’t view our research as an engineering project – it’s far more important to look at specific groups of countries rather than overthink what can be minute differences between countries listed next to one another in our rankings.

We believe in peaceful solutions to all problems, hope our small voice can be heard by global leaders, and wish to start as many conversations as possible. We’ve already engaged with people in a couple dozen of countries, but wish to expand by at least a magnitude in the next 12 months. Our updated rankings and commentaries will be announced at Cloud Expo.

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Cloud Conversations: AWS EBS, Glacier and S3 Overview | Part 3

In 2012 AWS released their Storage Gateway that you can access and try for free here using either an EC2 Amazon Machine Instance (AMI), or deployed locally on a hypervisor such as VMware vSphere/ESXi. About a year ago I did a storage gateway post (First, second and third impressions) when it was first released. I will do a new post soon following up with my subsequent impressions and experiences of having used it recently. For now, my quick (fourth impressions can be found here in this AWS Marketplace review). In general, the gateway is an AWS alternative to using third product gateway, appliances of software tools for accessing AWS storage.

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AWS Going into a New Line of Work

TechCrunch noticed a want ad indicating that Amazon Web Services aims to apply its model to mobile to get deeper into enterprise by creating “what looks to be a whole new arm of its cloud division.”
The ad plainly says that “The Amazon Web Services (AWS) team is launching a new business,” and is looking for someone who wants to build “amazing customer experiences on tablet and mobile apps on Android or iOS platforms.”
The lucky candidate would be “responsible for creating and owning world-class production tablet and web client applications across major platforms including iOS and Android … As a member of the founding team, you will have significant influence on our overall strategy by helping define the product features, drive system architecture, and spearhead the best practices that enable a quality v1 product setting the ground work for a successful v2 and beyond.”

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Here Comes Oracle’s New Sparc Servers

Larry Ellison’s latest scheme for proving his multibillion-dollar investment in Sun was a brilliant scheme will be to move features from the Oracle database like accelerated queries and Java middleware into Sun silicon.
“Software in silicon is redefining enterprise computing,” he said.
Larry dropped this little nugget Tuesday when he rolled out the latest generation of Solaris-based Sparc machines claiming they housed the world’s fastest processor.
The servers, set to compete against IBM and HP, mostly IBM, are supposed to be designed for the cloud and include an entry-to-mid-range T5 and a high-end M5. They’re said to offer “near linear scalability” from one to 32 sockets.
Both chips, each 28nm and based on the S3 core design, but different in their core count and L3 cache, clock in at 3.6GHz.

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Federating Application Network Services

We (as in the industry) talk a lot about federating cloud. Usually solutions for federating cloud (aka hybrid cloud) are presented from the perspective of the end-user. We want to make it easier to transition between applications in the cloud and focus on identity management, single-sign on, and transparent integration that seamlessly directs users to the best resource, regardless of its deployment location.
But what about federation of the actual infrastructure? The architectures that support such ease of use features and functions for end-users should also be transparent and seamless and integrated. The disparity at the management layer between private cloud and traditional data center and public cloud is definitely a source of frustration for operations. Devops are code-switching between Amazon APIs, VMware vCloud solutions, and their own cloud management scripts and toolsets. Such disconnected processes result in inconsistent policies and a lack of holistic visibility into the performance and availability of applications that span environments. Ultimately, it negates the gains in deployment agility by introducing new overhead in management.

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CloudStack Now a Top-Level Apache Program

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has made CloudStack, which it took in as an incubator project a year ago, a Top-Level Program (TLP).
That’s supposed to mean that Citrix, which donated the IaaS OpenStack rival to Apache after acquiring it from in 2011, doesn’t have much, if any, control over it although it offers a commercial version of the widgetry.
CloudStack now has more contributors than just Citrix engineers and can support more than 30,000 nodes spread over different locations. Its next 4.1 release is supposed to let the stuff split a cloud deployment across multiple regions à la Amazon, make management easier and use Amazon S3 for secondary storage.

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Cloud Conversations: AWS EBS, Glacier and S3 Overview | Part 2 S3

Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently added EBS Optimized support for enhanced bandwidth EC2 instances (read more here). This industry trends and perspective cloud conversation is the second (looking at S3) in a three part series companion to the AWS EBS optimized post found here. Part I is here (closer look at EBS) and part III is here (tying it all together).
For those not familiar, Simple Storage Services (S3), Glacier and Elastic Block Storage (EBS) are part of the AWS cloud storage portfolio of services. With S3, you specify a region where a bucket is created that will contain objects that can be written, read, listed and deleted. You can create multiple buckets in a region with unlimited number of objects ranging from 1 byte to 5 Tbytes in size per bucket. Each object has a unique, user or developer assigned access key. In addition to indicating which AWS region, S3 buckets and objects are provisioned using different levels of availability, durability, SLA’s and costs (view S3 SLAs here).

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Cloud backup is a great business opportunity, but is it for you?

By Pavan Vyas, Product Marketing Manager, Asigra


As you look to expand your managed service practice, should you be looking at offering cloud services, specifically cloud backup?  With the rapid growth of both structured and unstructured data taking place in organizations today, companies are struggling with protecting this data. In specific verticals such as financial services and healthcare, organizations must even have a data protection strategy in place for compliance purposes.  These data points may cause you to have a number of questions – the foremost being – Is offering cloud backup and recovery services lucrative?  Can I make money offering cloud backup services?  The answer to both those questions is “Yes”.


In this blog post, I am going to provide you with some tips and point you to a great resource that can help you with taking this all important business decision. As a company that has helped numerous service providers across the world make the move to the cloud and build successful cloud backup and recovery services using our enterprise software platform, we know that the cloud backup market is not for everyone. So, who makes an ideal candidate for offering cloud backup services? How do you decide if it is the right business venture for you?


 As always the first step in any such process is, understanding your current business situation and your customers’ needs. There are about seven critical questions that you should be asking yourself such as “Do you have customers in highly regulated industries”? or “On an average how much incremental backup data do your customers generate each month?”. You can find those questions in this paper titled “Assessing your cloud backup opportunity”.  As you go through this assessment, not only will you determine if offering cloud backup services is right for your business, you will also uncover new ways of thinking about your customers. This can help you grow your business with your existing customers, develop strategies for attracting new customers and obtain higher levels of customer satisfaction.


 In this process of self discovery, if you ever need any help in understanding where you stand vis-à-vis your customers’ needs, we suggest that you reach out to some of your largest and trusted customers. By engaging them through surveys, interviews, or even one-on-one discussions, you can get any data points that you don’t have or answer questions that you are struggling with by yourself.


As important as it is that cloud backup services make sense to your customers, it is also critical that cloud backup services fit in with the rest of your practice today – both technologically and psychologically. It is essential that your customers can feel comfortable in trusting you to keep their critical business data – the lifeblood of their business – safe. It is also important that their current experience in working with you paves the way towards their having that confidence in you. We have a set of questions that can help you determine if cloud backup fits in well with your existing business and if this is the right time for you to proceed on making it a core component of your service offerings.  Make sure to spend some time thinking through those questions.


Cloud backup managed services offers tremendous opportunities for service providers like you. We can vouch for this based on the experience of service providers in our own ecosystem. We are sure our paper will help you make the right business decisions about entering the cloud backup and recovery market, just like it has done for so many of our hybrid partners over the decades!