Yon Cloud Provider is glowing in the dark :-)

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  • Single business seeking like minded organizations to share a cloud.
  • Angel investor seeking organization willing to accept investment.
  • Marketing company seeking other organizations interested in a co-op community cloud.
  • Expanding manufacturing company seeking supplies for shared cloud solution.
  • Distribution company seeking manufacturing companies for a distribution network cloud.

I won’t go on. There are so many more. Frankly the reality of cloud computing today is as much what may be as it is what is. That is very similar to the prospects and reality of dating. You don’t date for what is, you date for what may be (at least once you have moved beyond the initial dating process). There isn’t one outcome there are many outcomes. From Community clouds to private clouds the world flows around you.

Now, if you were to ask in this great Cloud Dating Game, how do I pick the right cloud, that is a different question. In the Cloud Dating game you were only given six questions to ask of the various cloud businesses represented in the game. (3 to be exact). In real life you can ask many more than 6 questions. But now the reality becomes which questions should you ask.

For example (initial business questions):

  • How long have you been in business?
  • What is your current credit rating?
  • Do you have any partnerships or affiliations you want to (or SHOULD) disclose?
  • Are you currently seeking investors for growth or investors to stabilize your business?

I love what President Obama said, it’s the Eco-System that supports businesses and successful business’ thrive within the specific eco-system that they are in. You can start with the business questions and then move to the technical questions. You can ask them what hardware they use and what Hypervisor stack. You can ask them what processes they use for migration and how much data they can move. Ask them what they change you for migration bandwidth and will they give you a discount. How is their technical cloud configured? Are they effectively built to handle migrations or are they built to run a day to day cloud operation?

To live in such a world, with people such as these…

.doc

Technology and the Olympics

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I have few more cloud “singles” ads to post this week. Most likely later in the week. Its easy to come up with the ads, but some of them are very cheesy so you have to do a little pre-posting editing.

Today I would like to switch gears and talk a little about the Olympics. I am a huge sports fan and I love watching three sports (basketball, football and baseball). But when the Olympics roll around I watch a number of sports that I have either played in the past (cricket, soccer, volleyball, swimming) or sports that I haven’t played but I am there to root on team USA.

I was thinking about the technology of the Olympics. How it has changed the viewing process. I watched a bit of the US Olympic Men’s basketball game against France via the Internet, read the awesome article about Mrs. Obama hugging every player on the team at the end of the game. That article was the highlight of the day for me – what a great show of both support for your country but also great support of a country for a team.

The technology of the Olympics – you can watch them anytime now, anywhere. On your iPad, IPhone, Windows Mobile device or Android phone (I suspect I can on my blackberry but frankly it is being freaky right now and not working). The mobile age meets the sporting world and they are now good friends.

The other side of the technology is now we get in the pool (underwater cameras) so that the analysts can tell us why swimmers won or lost the race. HD video allows you to pause it without the shaky blurred affects of S.D. video so you can in effect see more of the action even when paused.

Technology has impacted the Olympics in ways that are amazing every time I see the new abilities and options. I think back to the first time I watched any of the Olympics, in 1968. The coverage was controlled, we only saw small bits of various sports. We were used to that type of coverage (those were the days of ABC’s Wide World of Sports). Now you can see every minute of every sport. You can see the pride of the family there cheering on their family member in the event of their dreams.

There are always positive and negative impacts of anything we create. A positive impact of technology is the ability for us to see more of the Olympic sporting events so that the athletes and coaches who work so hard can have their great work showcased on its own not packaged into a tiny highlight package.

Go Team USA!

.doc

Enough for now –

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I’ve spent the past few days being highly satirical about cloud computing, why? First off it is a maturing offering for many cloud providers and something many organizations are still pondering. Secondly because there are many aspects of choosing the right cloud vendor that are similar to dating.

There is an old adage about dating that I believe applies in the area of cloud vendor selection. There are girls (or guys) you date and guys (or girls) you bring home to meet your parents. Sure as you get older that line blurs you no longer date people because they look or act cool. That is the reality that cloud computing has to face in the next 2 or so years. Moving past the cool factor to become a main stay business process.

Many of the smaller vendors will fade to black and disappear. Many of the smaller vendors will be swallowed whole by large corporations seeking to expand their market share quickly. Cost will level and become consistent across various vendors solutions (no one wants to be seen as the expensive option, unless they truly offer a Lexus solution – even then you lose a huge market).

I started all of this thinking two weeks ago with a question of what lies beyond cloud. The mix of technologies that will spring forth and become the new paradigm. It is in fact a time of transition. We are moving from computing as it has been for more than 40 years to a new paradigm of computing.

Applications that have traditionally fallen by the wayside in these types of transitions are the established solutions that don’t innovate quickly. I see a number of niche players in the near term struggling to sell their solutions. The reality of commercialization is that as it spreads before cloud solutions people being to expect the light weight interface and the small application footprints of mobility. As the traditional vendors strive to innovate they will inevitably reduce competition in the market. For the short run reduced competition is actually a good thing. It allows the rapid rate of innovation to come under control. From there we will see a steady state that manages innovation and operates solutions with less overall risk.

The other side of controlled innovation is that for a short time solutions will increase in overall cost. It also means a short term loss overall of net new functionality. You have to be able to effectively backup the information you are producing or in effect all your information is at risk. The balancing act that is produced slows innovation over time.

Eventually we settle into a lull (which we’ve been in for the past 10 or so years) and that is when the initial innovations occur again. So in considering what is beyond cloud you have to look to that lull. When the adoption of cloud computing solutions in effect slows, the market consolidates and the next new thing beings to emerge.

Enough for now –

.doc

You’ve waited all show and now we will have a winner!

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Host: Sometimes the commercials are so good I wonder why we need a show to separate them. All commercial all the time, welcome back to the Cloud Dating game for question 6. This is our final question and at the end our Lucky Business will have a chance to select a cloud vendor for their business. Take it away Lucky Business.

Lucky Business: Thanks Bob. The last question actually came to me from my companies board of directors and they asked for a number of reasons that it be read exactly the way they wrote it. “We are most interested in your terms of severability. Once we sever the contract we are also intrigued by your thoughts on what responsibility you have for portability if/when we choose to move to another solution offered by another vendor?” Let’s start with Cloud Business Three and sir, questions are most welcomed.

Cloud Business Three: I actually don’t have any questions for this one…(pauses for affect)

-Studio audience and host chuckle-

its pretty clear cut. Like all contracts (except cell phones) we offer fair and equitable severability rates. Our goal is to be your cloud partner. If you business needs change, we are happy to change with you even if that means ending our business relationship. Now as for portability I won’t lie to you. While that is a proposed reality of cloud computing, it remains today vendor specific. As such its really hard to guarantee a solution will be portable. There are two sides to that argument the first being will I have access to my information and systems at the right level that I could easily take control and move them from my cloud solution. The answer to that is yes we provide you will full administrative control to your solution. The second part of portability is something you will have to ask the vendors you are building your solution out of. It does not behoove a COTs solution to be portable today. Many Open Source solutions have multiple forks in their code which also limit portability and frankly for Open Source solutions there aren’t often commercially available and tested migration solutions. Portability is the dream of cloud computing and it will happen, someday. Today we can easily sever your contract. We cannot as easily help you sever your relationship with the software vendor upon which you built your solution.

Lucky Business: Thank you very much Cloud Business Three, Cloud Business One the same question…

Cloud Business One: We offer industry leading severability clauses in our contracts for all customers. We adhere to the NIST standards and support portability in all our solutions.

Lucky Business: Thanks Cloud Business One, Same question to you Cloud Business Two.

Cloud Business Two: I agree with both of the other cloud business’ we offer portability and severability within the limits of our contract. For example if you have a large balance owed we may reserve the right to seize your assets rather than allow you to remove them upon severance. Portability is wholly dependent upon the solution you build and where you want to move it to. We don’t control the software vendors and frankly each of their solutions has unique things about it that makes portability very very difficult if not impossible.

Lucky Business: Thanks Cloud Business Two.

Host: With that we are going to cut to commercial again. We have to keep all those COTs vendors happy and frankly we need the money to pay for the fabulous prize our lucky business and lucky cloud business will win at the end of the show. We will be right back.

(http://www.youtube.com search for NIST and Portability – interesting videos)

Host: And we are back! We’ve waited all show Lucky Business we need to know – who are you going to partner with for your cloud solution?

Lucky Business: Wow Bob its that time already. Well all three vendors had many interesting answers to the questions. But I have to say it was the questions of Cloud Business Three that swayed me. Any company willing to risk their competitive advantage by asking me refining questions is the partner I want to have.

Host: Awesome – good choice. We won’t send Cloud Business One and Cloud Business Two away empty handed. Both of them will leave with a fantastic one week public speaking course from the Dale Carnegie institute called “How to win your customer’s cloud business.” Cloud Business Three please come on out and meet your newest customer.

Cloud Business Three appears from off stage, audience applauds. He walks over to shake the hand of Lucky Business.

Host: While you two are signing contracts and preparing for migrations let me tell you what you have won. First off Lucky Business We will pay for your first year of cloud services from Cloud Business Three. We will also send both of your companies a free DVD with this show recorded on it for you to replay at company meetings. Finally from our sponsor Ralph’s shoes we are giving each of you a pair of sneakers. That way if the network fails you will always have “Ralph’s sneaker net” running. Thanks all and good night.

Host, Cloud Business Three and Lucky Business all wave to the studio audience as we fade to black.

.doc

and now The Cloud Dating game

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Host: those commercials never fail to entertain. Everyone should grab a coke during the break so we can all enjoy while we listen to question 5. Take it away, Lucky Business.

Lucky Business: Thanks Bob. Question 5 actually comes from my CISO, he says, and this is a direct quote. “the cloud isn’t secure.” Help me convince him that in fact the cloud is open, secure and ready for our business. Let’s start with Cloud Business two this time.

Cloud Business Two: There are a number of layers of security that have to be considered by cloud vendors. The primary focus we take is making sure we have the best trained security analysts in the business.

Lucky Business: Thanks Cloud Business Two, let’s go to Cloud Business Three and of course you can ask further questions.

-audience now getting the trend laughs as does the host –

Cloud Business Three: I hope my questions are bothering you, but since you said I could ask some, the first thing about security that I would need to know is how do you secure data on your network today. Have you have security issues? Do you have data that requires special or specific handling?

Lucky Business: Actually I have been enjoying your questions I was just teasing you a little.  In fact we do have regulated data that is provided to the government we work with, depending upon the location of the mine. We are also required to track and monitor where and what we survey as we search for new depositions and finally of course like every company we do have financial records we don’t want everyone to see.

Cloud Business Three: Thanks for that. Now the first questions my team would focus on is what you would be moving to the cloud, you may actually end up leaving the vast majority of your regulated data in your own data center. Over time as you grow more comfortable with cloud computing you may move everything, but in the initial phase we probably wouldn’t move that sensitive information. As far as what your CISO said, he’s right Cloud Computing isn’t secure. In fact, as is, out of the box, computers and computing are insecure. We work with you and your team to make sure we have safeguards that are at every level. In our cloud we offer you the virtual data center concept. This gives you complete control over everything within your own computing environment. Consider it a private cloud nestled neatly in the public cloud offering of our company.

Lucky Business: Thanks Cloud Business Three, Cloud Business One the same question.

Cloud Business One: Security is a can of worms. No single piece of information is ever truly secure. You can print it, file it and lock the file, then push the file into a safe. Push the safe into a larger safe and then drop it on the bottom of the ocean. Two days later you will read that information in the newspaper and see a picture of your safe in a safe in a safe open on the front page. Security is about delaying bad people while enabling good people to get the information. We take the approach of working with you as the previous business said but we also consider who will or might be attacking you. We study previous attacks of the likely “attackers” and build security that is focused on the types of attacks they use. We only have to catch them once, and if we have the right layers around your solution they have to be right more than we do. We consider security a risk mitigation process. Taking the existing risk and making it as small as possible.

Lucky Business: Thanks Cloud Business One.

Host: Sorry to cut in again but its time to pay the bills. Let’s tune out for a commercial break!

.doc

.doc

The Cloud Dating Game

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Host: What a great commercial sponsor, simply one pill and all your cloud problems go away – thank you cloud.inc. Lucky Business time for question four.

Lucky Business: Thanks Bob. We will go back to Cloud Business One for this question. My CIO expressed concerns to me before the show today about the as he called it “viability” of a number of our core business applications in the cloud. How can you help us with that? We’ve heard that the primary model for good cloud applications are those that spike or have intermittent usage. We have a number of applications that are used consistently all day every day with few if any spikes. How will you help us move to your cloud?

Cloud Business One: We tend to outsource that to one of our partners who does services.

Lucky Business: Thanks Cloud Business One, Cloud Business Two the same question.

Cloud Business Two: We do a comprehensive review of your current infrastructure starting day one after we agree to terms. We look at every part of your application portfolio and your WAN to determine what can and should be in the cloud. We then present you with a report so that you can prepare for migration.

Lucky Business: Thanks Cloud Business Two, Cloud Business Three same question and you are welcome to ask clarifying questions.

Cloud Business Three: That is a very detailed question you’ve asked thanks for all that detail, but well there are a couple of things I need to know beyond what you’ve said so far.

Lucky Business: Sure thing – fire away with questions.

Cloud Business Three: Well the first has to do with your portfolio of applications. Have you done a functionality evaluation?

Lucky Business: Funny you should ask that. My CIO this morning said to me “we don’t have a clear picture of the application functionality in our portfolio today.” So the answer I suspect would be no.

Cloud Business Three: We would probably want to start that process right away as frankly building out and mapping an application portfolio in an enterprise can take some time. The reality of the modern computing age is that we have built solutions based on either the sedimentary, metamorphic or volcanic models. Volcanic in that solution explode out of the corporate office and become standard. Sedimentary in that we layer new solutions over old ones, often forgetting the older solutions are still there. Finally metamorphic in the sense that the solution starts in a branch office and slowly spreads throughout the organization. We call that the reality of IT Sprawl. We do an assessment first of the type of IT Sprawl you have, then we come up with a managed plan to determine the two sides of the functionality coin. First being what you need to make money or complete your mission. Second being how many different ways can user sin your organization complete that functionality in your organization today. Once all of that has been completed we setup a plan for your solutions. The first part of that plan is determining what information you currently store that is critical to your organization. Not all information in your IT portfolio is critical. Some information can be stored offline or near-line for slower retrieval when needed. Some information has to be available right away. My CTO says its similar to going to a store, and as you are checking out with your purchases, instead of each item having its pricing, which would be critical, the cashier has to look up each item, which would take a lot more time. Once we have an agreed upon Portfolio we then look at the overall functionality. While your CIO is correct, most good cloud applications are spiky today, there are a number of other factors to consider. The first of those factors is the overall value of that particular application. Again back to my CTO’s example, for a grocery store having the price on each item is critical because you won’t buy 12 or less items most of the time you are in the store so waiting is a huge time sink. Now for a high end home theatre store you may not want prices on each item. Sticker shock may delay your overall sales process. Plus that is a more personalized checkout anyway and your more willing to spend the extra time having the sales representative write every thing down. Then we can talk about moving your applications to the right place for your business/organization.

Lucky Business: Wow thank you Cloud Business Three.

Host: Sorry to break in folks but this is television and we do have to pay the bills. So, without further ado, our commercial sponsors!

,doc

The Cloud Dating Game

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Host: Now weren’t those interesting spots from our advertisers. One more paid announcement before we move on to question three. From the good people at Cloud Incorporated. “Your product isn’t cloud ready until you say it is.” Lucky business please ask question 3.

Lucky Business: thanks Bob. Cloud Business Three, with all the recent failures of cloud based solution providers can you tell me about you deal with COOP and DR? And of course you can ask clarifying questions.

Cloud Business Three: Thanks – I hope my questions aren’t offensive. When you say DR, are you referring to DR for our organization or DR for our customers?

Lucky Business: Your questions are fine – actually I would be intrigued by your thoughts on both.

Cloud Business Three: OK – well for our organization we have three geographically dispersed data centers that are connected by what used to be called an OC48 Sonnet Ring.  Our customers can opt (for an additional charge of course) to have information stored in all three, any two or just one data center. We keep a duplicate of any one data center in the other centers but the additional fault tolerance is for those customer’s whose solution cannot go down, ever. Much like the old dual homed servers it simply offers greater fault tolerance in the case of a disaster. In the case of COOP, we are an ISO and ITIL shop, as much of continuity services relies on the human element. We work with our customer’s constantly on drills and practice runs to prevent outages.

Lucky Business: Thanks Cloud Business Three. Cloud Business Two the same question?

Cloud Business Two: We offer a variety of options in both COOP, HA and DR. We find it is as much about the overall cost of the program as it is anything else.

Lucky Business:: Thanks you Cloud Business Two, Cloud Business One the same question please.

Cloud Business One: We offer tiered pricing like the other two vendors. We feel we are uniquely positioned in this space as we work with you on what is actually something you will need in the case of a DR. Rather than moving 100% of your stuff between various dispersed data center we find the “required” functionality, applications and data and have those available for you in the DR Window. Additional, nice to have functionality comes along alter.

Lucky Business: thanks! That was an interesting answer Cloud Business One.

Host: Sorry to cut in but we have to go to another commercial break. We will be back in a jiffy with question four!

.doc

The Cloud Dating Game…

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Host: Glad to see my viewer and contestants all returned from our commercial break. Now we move on to question 2.

Lucky Business: Cloud Business two, I am looking not only for VDI technologies but also for a SaaS and PaaS set of solutions that will enable my workforce. We talked in the last question about them being distributed. They also range, our office staff tends to be less computer savvy, our field staff tends to be extremely computer savvy. What type of training solutions do you offer today?

Cloud Business Two: Thank you for the question, we offer CBT, ILT both online and classroom as well as SPOT training. Each of our instructors has credentials both as a technology specialist but also as a trainer.

Lucky Business: Thanks Cloud Business Two, Cloud Business One the same question please.

Cloud Business One: We find Cloud based training to be the most effective and offer a variety of cloud hosted CBT training modules for our customers and their end users. You can use the training right from your computer any time you want to.

Lucky Business: Thanks Cloud Business Two, Cloud Business Three the same question please.

Cloud Business Three: wow I hate to do this again, but can I ask some clarifying questions?

Lucky Business: you sure can.

Cloud Business Three: What modalities of training have worked for your organization in the past during migrations? Do you prefer Instructor Led Training (ILT’s) or Computer based training (CBT) or does your organization need a hands on white-gloves approach?

Lucky Business: that is a great question. I guess in the past we have struggled with training. We haven’t really been able to deliver the best training to our users in a way that they could leverage easily. We have struggled with migrations as well in part because we can’t deliver effective training. IT is perceived as a drain rather than a value right now, which is why we are looking to the cloud to solve all our problems.

Cloud Business Three: First of all in that scenario I wouldn’t recommend you simply leap to the cloud. There are a number of things you need to consider. For example while a migration featuring white-glove processes is more expensive, your users may in the end perceive it as a more effective way to migrate. You can then focus your training on the power users and they can in turn provide additional support for the rest of their teams during the transition. The other side of training is you have to consider the effective modality of the training to be delivered. Many companies rush in with easy training answers and that isn’t the right way to approach this. I would recommend starting with a few varied training exercises to see which modalities fit your workforce knowing that your work force may approach things from two different ways.

Lucky Business: Thanks Cloud Business Three you’ve really given me something to think about. Perhaps we have been going about this all wrong.

Fade to black – commercials again (well we have to pay for this show somehow)

.doc

Welcome back to the cloud dating game

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Cloud Business Three: Thanks for that information can I ask one more question?

Lucky Business: Certainly.

Cloud Business three: Do you have mobile applications today?

Lucky Business: Actually we don’t. Our IT team has been swamped with the Windows 7 upgrade and just hasn’t had time to move anything to our mobile platform.

Cloud Business Three: Interesting, but you do in fact have a mobile platform?

Lucky Business: Yes, we are considering one of two mobile platform or PaaS vendors for mobile applications.

Cloud Business Three: Excellent, sorry for the extra questions we are very able to move forward and help you. The first thing we would do is to do an assessment of your current state environment. Once we have established what your solution looks like today we would then talk about what is next. By what is next we would be looking at the upgrades you are considering in your overall solutions. Such as are you considering an upgrade to Windows 8 or another version of a productivity suite. Then we would talk about the how of your actual migration. Every migration is unique, but all migrations have common ground. We would establish the common ground of your migration before we embarked with you on your journey to the cloud.

Lucky Business: Thank you Cloud Business 3, that was an excellent answer.

Host: Now let’s move on to question 2…

.doc

The cloud dating game…

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Today our lucky business is from Sioux Falls South Dakota and is seeking to move their entire business to a cloud based solution. Our contestant will pick from three different companies that offer cloud solutions based on a series of questions.

Host: Welcome Lucky Business to the show please.

(studio audience applauds)

Host: And now welcome our three cloud businesses!

(studio audience applauds)

Host: OK lucky business you are allowed to ask a total of 6 questions of each of the cloud companies, but first could you tell our studio audience a little about your business problem that you wish to cloudify?

Lucky Business one: Sure Bob, I would be happy to. I am a mining company from South Dakota. I have a series of mines pulling various natural resources from the ground. I also have a team of people who roam the world looking for new properties for us to acquire with additional mineral resources. We are looking to move everything to a centralized cloud solution that is managed by someone who understands IT, so that we can focus on pulling more ore from the ground.

Host: Thank you very much. You may begin your questions now…

Lucky Business one: thanks again Bob. Cloud Company One, I have a distributed workforce and would like to have support for a number of remote mobile devices for that workforce. I need to be able to have each of my workers access email, collaboration on documents and also securely share both financial and scientific information with other members of our distributed team. Can you tell me how you would do that for my company?

Cloud Business One: Well we would move your internal system to our cloud based hosting model. We offer an Open source email solution and collaboration engine that will provide you with the security you want and the collaboration you need. We allow you to send and receive up to 25 gigabyte emails. That should support the vast majority of your financial and scientific information transfers. We also offer integration with a number of external vendors who provide additional financial and scientific solution support.

Lucky Business: Thank you Cloud Business One, Cloud Business two the same question please?

Cloud Business Two: Thank you for asking! We leverage a series of COTs solutions from a single vendor to provide you with a unified inbox, collaboration and infrastructure experience that will provide you users with a best of breed solution in every area. We have multiple points of presence around the world and would be able to provide you with the best solution available on the market today.

Lucky Business: Thank you Cloud Business Two, Cloud Business Three that same question please?

Cloud Business Three: Well that is a tough question. Can I ask you a couple of questions to clarify what you need?

Lucky Business: Please do.

Cloud Business Three: What do you mean by a distributed workforce? Are they all in offices that have Wide Area Network connectivity or are they on Satellite phones using that for both voice and data in the middle of the desert?

Lucky Business: Great question Cloud Business Three. About a quarter of my workforce works at the various stationary mines that I own throughout the US. There are WAN connections to each of those locations and few of the workers located there travel, ever. I have a couple of overseas locations that include WAN connectivity as well but the majority of overseas users have very different bandwidth. Some are as you asked on Satellite phones, some are are standard cellular phones and others connect from hotel networks. Does that help?

Cloud Business Three: It does. I have another question. What if any time constraints do you have around the data you are moving? Do you have competitors in your business doing the same things?

Lucky Business: Another great question Cloud Business Three. We in fact often operate under significant time constraints.

More to come…

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