the edge of sanity

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The edge of sanity.

As I think further and further about the overall concept of both functional boundaries (use) and operational boundaries (management) I am beginning to wonder if there is an edge of sanity there as well.

What we expect from computers has evolved in the past 20 years. What we will expect will continue to evolve. I was thinking about every device in my house that is connected. The number grows every year. Where once I had a single wi-fi system now I have to have a booster and two networks (G and N) to support all the devices and types of traffic in the house.

With cloud computing evolving we are going to ask more and more of computers. With the ever expanding boundaries we are changing the way IT does its job.

Where does it end? or for that matter can it ever end?



The shell game…

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The shell game – or cloud computing find the boundary. I’ve talked a lot recently about the functional and operational boundaries within the broader concept of cloud computing. I heard an interesting conversation the other day that I find applies to the boundary discussion the where is my data conversation.

Data isn’t everywhere in the cloud, in fact if you think about it that is a huge risk for many cloud solutions, the assumption that your data is everywhere. It isn’t, and you need to plan for that.

It is a shell game, (find the pea).

Shell in the sense that you may never have to find your data, but if in fact you need to know where it it, it had better be where you expect it to be.

Shell in broader sense that you hope in fact your data isn’t easily found. Data that the broker doesn’t know where it is probably is a little safer. Of course you then run the risk of a planned outage taking your data offline.

That is the risk of the shell game. It wholly depends on which side you are on of the equation – I need to know (and am willing to take a security risk) I don’t want to know (and am willing to take an outage risk).


IT as a symbiotic helper organism

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The cloud as a membrane – well actually not the cloud, the organization as a membrane.

Think about it for a second. The firewalls represent the walls of the organism. DNA and RNA run along the physical networks, hopefully we don’t allow outsiders to modify the DNA – only the RNA.

The membrane has security built to only allow good things in (well then again maybe sometimes bad things get in). We have a system (IT) in place for when things do go wrong (IT calls on Security or white blood cells).

Like all concepts it has its flaws as it is trying to define something dynamic (IT) as something static (a membrane) and you could poke tons of holes in it.

It is however fun to think about for a couple of hours.


What are we hiding

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I was thinking further on the concept of the cloud as a presentation layer that we leverage/use to cover a variety of resources.

I installed a Boxee box yesterday – small box that connects to your TV and I realized that it was simply a network interpretation device sitting on my network. Its job was to abstract the media search process and make it easier for me.

That presentation layer (Boxee) made everything else moot as long as that box could present what I was looking for or needed.

How many other presentation layer devices do we have out there? Devices that offer a service that renders  a specific service of data on a single output device? This has to be services that render the actual service as virtually invisible to the user.

There are quite a few, and the number is growing.

So this morning I was thinking were we hiding blemishes? Things that we didn’t want the world to see?

In fact are we using a presentation layer to hide something we don’t really want people to see – the complex and somewhat confusing underbelly of cloud computing?


More Functional boundary thoughts…

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Functional boundaries continued…

A risk reward consideration for a functional boundary is a fun exercise. The risks are pretty well known (but I will list them anyway) with some of the rewards being well known as well.


  • Any device – anywhere means all applications have to have the intelligence built in to be aware of both the data to be presented as well as the presentation screen.
  • Touch devices react differently to data than do traditional mouse and keyboard devices.
  • Bandwidth intelligence has to be built into every application. You never know where it is going to be touched.


  • Users are more productive.
  • You don’t lose time as people wait for other actions – they are able to do the rest of their job while waiting for other things to happen.

The future of cloud computing lies beyond the edges of the functional and operations boundaries that have been in place for years.


Functional Boundaries

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The very edge of functionality.

I’ve been working through this issue on/in this blog for a month or so. The edge within an organization of the operations systems they can effectively manage. I introduced a term I’ve heard bandied about quite a bit the Operational and Functional Boundaries of the organization.

The reality of that problem like any other is that in fact the two are uniquely different. The functional boundary is the screen you are aiming your solution towards. You have to consider the reality of screen size, density and quality.

A 17 inch FHD display with 1.5 or more gigs of video ram driving it can easily and effectively play a full screen blue-ray movie. A Zune or iPod device can’t play full HD, but they can play close enough for the smaller size.

But you have to be aware of that delta in building future applications. Right now the gulf is narrower than it was 10 years ago. The original portable devices that were available had truly lousy resolution. The devices of today continue to get better but now you have other issues.

Ever notice that when you use a device that accepts swipes and other hand gestures that the screen size changes rapidly?

That is simply looking at one functional boundary. Like operations there are a number of other boundaries you have to consider.

  • Information security
  • Information itself (how much can the device handle)
  • Bandwidth (goes to how much information the device can handle)
  • Information quality and relevance (how quickly is the information useless, how quickly does the person need that information) The example of this functional boundary is an medical system or an airlines pilot. Any delays in information to either of those two professions can have severe consequences.

More to come…


More thoughts on the functional and operational boundaries

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I was thinking about my post of the last few days around the concept of operational and functional boundaries. It is a concept that resonates with me. To put it simply there are things you have to consider beyond simply adopting the cloud.

You have to think about what the impact of the overall solution is. People rush to cloud computing without considering the many limiting factors. Of course that leaves many rusted hulks by the side of the road and fear among CIO’s saying look, they failed, look it isn’t secure, look it goes down all the time.

The reality is however that the cloud is already there. The public cloud is a growing concern with more and more solutions offered in its ever growing library.

But simply saying if you can’t stop the bus get on isn’t the right answer, either. There has to be a measured reality or to many people will say we can’t do this, it is to hard.

Complexity doesn’t always equal failure but it doesn’t often equal success.