Saturday
May022009

Attention Span 2009.05.02

What caught my attention today... actually, I tried to stay OFF the web today, and focus on writing. So, not too much:


Number Crunching Made Easy


Newsweek calls out the use of the OSS emanating from Argonne. Globus' Nimbus makes the mainstream press.



The cloud is already making high-performance computing more readily available to researchers in the developed world. The Nimbus project at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois has developed open-source software that can launch a virtual supercomputer within minutes on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud. Earlier this month, nuclear physicists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York used the service to rush through a set of new simulations on data from the lab's Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collider—set up to give a glimpse into what the universe may have looked like in its first few moments—rather than waiting weeks or months for a slot to open up on the lab's big computers. The innovation could have a profound effect: simplifying and speeding up research in everything from renewable energies to drug testing.




Neo4j - the graph database


This, to me, sounds so appropriate for a number of projects I've been contemplating. I'm hoping that the skills curve is not so steep that I can't chip away at it.



Neo4j is a graph database. It is an embedded, disk-based, fully transactional Java persistence engine that stores data structured in graphs rather than in tables. A graph (mathematical lingo for a network) is a flexible data structure that allows a more agile and rapid style of development.

You can think of Neo4j as a high-performance graph engine with all the features of a mature and robust database. The programmer works with an object-oriented, flexible network structure rather than with strict and static tables — yet enjoys all the benefits of a fully transactional, enterprise-strength database.


Friday
May012009

Attention Span 2009.05.01

May Day! May Day!


US 'should go on cyber-offensive'


Unnhh... right... go public with it, and after going public, make sure to establish a new 'Geneva Convention' to make sure that use of the botnet against a hospital's IT becomes a war crime. Can't decide what's worse... the content of the interview or the decision of the Beeb to put it on the air.



A US Air Force officer has told the BBC that his country should create an offensive botnet to target any forces that launch a cyber-attack against it.

Speaking on Radio 4's The Report, Col Charlie Williamson said the US was currently in "defensive mode" on cyber-warfare and that needed to change.

...

"I recommend that we make our botnet - the botnet I propose - public. The whole world knows about it. That we exercise it on ranges that other countries can see electronically, that they know what we're doing and then they are going to be more likely to back off before doing an attack because they have to take this into account," he said.




70 percent of Kindle owners over 40?



We can't call this the most scientific poll ever taken, but it's probably a good indicator of the Kindle's age demographic. If you add it all up, over half the owners are over 50 and 70 percent are over 40.

Like I said in my previous post, if you look at the Amazon thread, a lot of senior folks bought the Kindle--and now the Kindle 2--partially because the digital reader is easier to handle than regular books for arthritis sufferers. It also helps that you can increase the font size, if you have trouble viewing small print in books.




Unified Computing System Manager Revealed


Omar Sultan has a two part (part 1 and part 2) screen-cast of the UCS Manager. (... now, where's my popcorn?)



OK, so it took a bit longer than I planned, but here is the first of a two-part walk-through of UCS Manager with Brian Schwarz. As context, I would also suggest you check out the prior two posts on UCS Manager here and here.

Thursday
Apr302009

Attention Span 2009.04.30 (Evening Edition)

What caught my attention:


Federal government cloud adoption will triple by 2013



Government agencies are moving slower on cloud computing than the IT industry as a whole, but federal government spending on the cloud will nearly triple by 2013, a new report says.

“Adoption has been slow; federal and state and local government organizations are gun-shy about migrating capabilities – especially mission-critical capabilities – to ‘the cloud,’” market research firm INPUT states in Evolution of the Cloud: The Future of Cloud Computing in Government. “However, the convergence of tight budgets, aggressive market players, and increasing acceptance of the cloud computing model will fuel an uptick in demand for cloud computing.”



Cloud Security IS Host-Based…At The Moment



The reality is that depending upon the *aaS model you’re referring to, HIPS *is* Cloud Security. Specifically, in IaaS/PaaS environments when you can’t plumb in virtual network appliances (or physical for that matter) then you’re basically left with whatever the provider gives you at the “network” layer (which is usually not much) or you focus on host-based controls. HIPS is as good as any other solution at that point.



Eucalyptus in the cloud: researchers commercialize OSS project



The Eucalyptus project, which aims to provide open source infrastructure for cloud computing, is growing beyond its university roots and is heading straight for enterprise data centers. The key developers behind the project have launched a company with the intent of commercializing the technology, and have received $5.5 million in venture capital funding to get them started.




The Wolfram Alpha Demo Returns, This Time With Actual Footage Of The Service



Yesterday, days of hype culminated in the unveiling of the Wolfram Alpha search engine, which made its debut at a presentation put on by Harvard University’s Berkman Center. Unfortunately the resulting video footage turned out to be an exercise in frustration (or boredom). Not because it was uninteresting, mind you, but because we couldn’t see the apparently innovative search engine that creator Stephen Wolfram was talking about.

Apparently someone has had a change of heart over the media squeeze, because the Berkman Center has posted a new version of the video (or at least 10 minutes of it), this time with footage of the service.

Thursday
Apr302009

Attention Span 2009.04.30 (Morning Edition)

What caught my attention today this morning:


Is Social Media a Hostile Work Environment



There is a very real danger in making the use of social media an “official” part of a person’s role within the organization without guidelines and expectations. When one chooses to interact via social media they bear the responsibility. They can follow and unfollow at will, and they can always decide it’s too hostile for them and choose not to interact.




Beyond Using Open Source


Coté at Redmonk recaps a recent presentation given at the Free Open Source software License Insight Conference in Korea. It's a great consolidation of the issues involved in corporate use of OSS, but more importantly makes the point that corporate "use" is best accompanied by corporate "contribution."



For an organization, open source offers the chance to of not only lower costs, more open communities to draw from, and, in the best case, innovative software. Ultimately, moving beyond simply “using” open source into being involved with and supporting open source affords the organization a better chance to share control over the ongoing life of software it depends on. This translates into more overall control of an organization’s own destiny, which is clearly a highly desirable outcome for any strategic decision, such as becoming more involved in open source.




Surgient revs fake server headache pill


In my continuing search for virtual systems management vendors that are succeeding in the current environment, Surgient continues to show up as one of the few pure VSM plays that's doing well.



..the Surgient tool has grown up into a self-service kiosk of sorts for physical and virtual servers that takes away a lot of the headaches of - and for some, perhaps the paychecks of - system administrators who have to set up, test, and deploy iron (physical or virtual makes little different) to run applications.




Akamai: We're a Cloud Provider, Not a CDN  



During yesterday's first-quarter earnings call, Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM) CEO Paul Sagan might have signaled a shift in describing the company as a cloud computing provider, moving away from dreaded term "CDN" (content delivery network).

According to the transcript of yesterday's call you'll find only about 10 mentions of "delivery" or "content delivery," some of which are tied to the description of what other competitors have to offer. But do a search for "cloud" or "cloud computing" and you'll see that Sagan mentioned those terms 14 times.




Analyzing The Cloud

Mike Schaffner of Forbes on the affinities for cloud computing that naturally occur within small- to medium-enterprises (SMEs) and the possible diseconomies for large enterprise pointed out by the McKinsey 'Clearing the air on cloud computing' report. It's still an over-simplified argument, and definitely does NOT take into account the distinction between cloud services and internal cloud computing.

(Will) Forrest (of McKinsey & Co.) contends that the labor savings of going to the cloud are not as significant as perceived as it relates primarily to "touch labor" roles of the data center. This analysis is basically a traditional "make vs. buy" supply chain analysis, and therefore, it is not surprising that some large enterprises could have equal or better economics by keeping the data center in-house.

If you agree with Forrest's analysis, it would be logical to expect cloud computing to make inroads within SMEs but not large enterprises. This is the exact same conclusion we came to earlier but from an entirely different approach.




Cloud Security Needs Its Rainmaker


George Hulme assesses the announcement of the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), picks a few nits, may have even picked a few legitimate fights.



If you think it's tough managing identities, devices, malware, exploit attacks, mitigating software vulnerabilities, and conducting meaningful audits today -- you haven't seen anything yet compared to what's coming with the hyper-connected nature of data, people, infrastructure, devices, and applications in "The Cloud."

Explaining and selling this important fact to business leaders, IT vendors, service providers, and convincing corporations that they're better off to pay a little now for much better security -- than to pay much more later on for much less security -- is perhaps the CSA's most important and ambitious task.

I ask you to join the debate on Twitter hashtag #csaguide




Power corrupts. Imaginary power corrupts obsoletely


What he said...



Could it be that Twitter has become the gin cart of our time - not in all cases, but in enough to constitute a kind of methadone for TV addicts? Just a thought.

My point, however, isn’t about TV or Twitter, or SEO, or obsessive posting for its own sake. It’s about being constructive. Because I think life is a constant series of choices. Either we put our shoulder to a wheel, or we just take a ride. Either we build something, or we just occupy a space.




What's Mad Cloud Disease (MCD)?



People are found sitting in a meeting and starting to mumble strange words like scalability, capex, opex, Amazon, EC2, S3, EBS, SimpleDB, AppEngine, Salesforce, or Azure.

Beware, those men and woman are infested with a newly discovered illness: the Mad Cloud Disease (MCD)

Wednesday
Apr292009

Attention Span 2009.04.29

In case you're wondering, I've been experimenting with keeping a running post of things that I encounter during the day. I now believe that putting a little running commentary / reaction in addition to a salient quote is the best approach. With any luck, there are a few of these that may find their way into a full-blown post soon.


Here's what caught my eye.


Google's Take on Cloud Computing



There's quite a bit of talk these days about corporations building a "private cloud" with concepts like virtualization, and there can be significant benefits to this approach. But those advantages are amplified greatly when customers use applications in the scalable datacenters provided by companies like Google, Amazon, Salesforce.com and soon, Microsoft. In this model, customers can leverage hardware infrastructure, distributed software infrastructure, and applications that are built for the cloud, and let us run it for them. This offers them much lower cost applications, and removes the IT maintenance burden that can cripple many organizations today. It also allows customers to deliver innovation to their end users much more rapidly.



Security simplified



Let me propose a better way to approach security.   Start with three simple rules of security.

1. Good end point security assumes the network is hostile.

2. Good network security assumes the end point is hostile.

3. Good data security assumes the user is hostile.

Applying these simple concepts is a powerful way to direct security investments, product development, and ultimately achieve better security.



SolarWinds adds IP address management to Orion



SolarWinds hopes to provide another option for IT managers looking to optimize their IP address management (IPAM) processes. The company this week announced a new add-on module for its Orion management suite as well as a free tool customers can download to get started tracking IP addresses



Reliable messaging - 'feeds meet queues'



The BBC uses AMQP/RabbitMQ as the basis for Feeds Hub. 'Some of the more high level requirements we aim to solve with Feeds Hub include giving data source owners who register feeds proper usage statistics on how and where their data is used and how effective the feed is (stats on click-throughs). ...



Tier 1 Research: Higher Prices Ahead for Data Centers


This is an interesting turn of events. Particularly because the banks (and infrastructure providers) have long-enough memories to remember the collapse of Exodus and other capital-intensive co-lo facilities. If the hosting providers -> XaaS providers start looking too much like those companies, it will be NO surprise that the banks and suppliers who might otherwise be willing to put purchases on the tab, will make it MORE expensive for those companies that are supplying the Cloud and are, in fact, capital intensive.



Demand for data center services has declined only slightly, Golding says, while the amount of new supply has been constrained by the credit crunch. The tough economy has led many many providers to hold pricing steady, but that trend won’t hold as the supply-demand imbalance continues to deteriorate in major data center markets, particularly if the economy improves.



Wolfram|Alpha ... the time approaches


Still wanting to get behind the wheel of this puppy...



Stephen Wolfram, creator of the Wolfram/Alpha search engine, on Tuesday demonstrated his much ballyhooed “computational knowledge engine” at a talk at Harvard University. Wolfram likened his effort to reproducing a global reference library and said Wolfram/Alpha will launch in “a few weeks.”



IBM's Dynamic Infrastructure and Service Management Ctr for Cloud Computing


Hmm... despite protestations to the contrary, this still seems suspiciously similar to the SOSM (Same Ol' Systems Management) from Tivoli ...



IBM Service Management helps you manage the complexities of cloud computing by delivering visibility, control and automation across your dynamic, virtualized environment:

Visibility to respond faster and make better decisions, delivering improved visibility into the performance and availability of services that span heterogeneous and virtual environments.

Control to manage risk, compliance and shared costs, providing security management across shared infrastructures and applications. Also helps you monitor shared resource usage and cost in a virtualized environment.

Automation to lower costs and build agility into your operations, enabling you to leverage automation to address the operational complexities associated with managing virtual resources.

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