Attention Span 2009.04.28

Some of the things that caught my attention today:

How Hackers Can Steal Secrets from Reflections

In experiments here at his laboratory at Saarland University in Germany, Backes has discovered that an alarmingly wide range of objects can bounce secrets right off our screens and into an eavesdropper’s camera. Spectacles work just fine, as do coffee cups, plastic bottles, metal jewelry—even, in his most recent work, the eyeballs of the computer user.

Recipe for Disaster: The Formula that Killed Wall Street

For five years, Li's formula, known as a Gaussian copula function, looked like an unambiguously positive breakthrough, a piece of financial technology that allowed hugely complex risks to be modeled with more ease and accuracy than ever before. With his brilliant spark of mathematical legerdemain, Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels. ...Then the model fell apart.

Virtual Reality

Organizations looking to the future of virtualization and cloud computing must also consider what will be necessary to move their infrastructure from traditional static architectures to more dynamic implementations. In order to support the dynamic and volatile nature of virtualized / cloud computing infrastructures, flexibility in the supporting network and application network infrastructure is necessary.


Kindlefeeder is a service for Amazon Kindle owners that lets you aggregate your favorite feeds and have them delivered to your Kindle in a convenient, easy-to-navigate format. You can also have your feeds delivered to your Kindle automatically on a schedule.


DestroyTwitter is a compact though robust Twitter application built to run on Mac, Windows, and Linux using Adobe AIR. It consists of a series of canvases that constantly update to keep tweets up-to-date using notifications that appear when a new tweet arrives.

The "Open" Cloud is Coming

It means something different to be an ‘Open Service’. We all want to be able to export and move our applications from Google App Engine or Force.com when we leave. We also want to take the virtual machine images that we build on Amazon or GoGrid and move them elsewhere. Today we can, but it’s just a nuisance. New standards will make interoperability and portability easy and convenient. If anything, cloud computing is becoming ‘open’ faster than anything before it.

A Twitter Convo with George Hulme

Once in a while, George Hulme and I will banter on Twitter. What's nice about it, is the constraint that 140 characters places on the conversation will often allow me to focus better. Tonight's conversation was a perfect outlet for some thoughts that have been rattling around my brain for the past weeks.


Attention Span 2009.04.27

This is what caught my attention today:


The IETF announced the formation of an official working group to cover Locator/Identifier Separation Protocol (LISP). It's been brewing for a couple of years, and has piqued by interest because of its relevance to cloud interoperability and interworking.


Given my personal love of applications that use intelligent filtering and analysis of data to detect "weak signals" in economics, politics and health, this week's obsession with swine flu and the possibilities brought Veratect to my attention.


Following on the thought of using intelligent models and natural language in conjunction with serious analysis, I can't help but squirm in anticipation of the release of Wolfram|Apha. Reading stories from folks who've actually had a look at it serves only to heighten the anticipation.

DMTF Open Cloud Standards Incubator

In addition to the VMAN initiative and, specifically, the Open Virtualizaiton Format (OVF), DMTF’s Open Cloud Standards Incubator will focus on standardizing interactions between cloud environments by developing cloud resource management protocols, packaging formats and security mechanisms to facilitate interoperability.


Forbes.com article quoting Bill Coleman that Cassatt is "close to the end." Company's been quietly shopped, but to no avail. It's another example of great vision and poor depth perception. (Something with which I am ALL to familiar.)


Attention Span 2009.04.26

What caught my eye and engaged my time this week:

SAP Virtualization Week

The third 'virtualization week' in the annual series and the third I've attended. I've always learned a lot at these events, and it's one of the best venues to meet and truly converse with other attendees. Always a pleasure and thought provoking experience.

Under the Radar Cloud Computing 2009.04.24

Dealmaker Media's series of conferences -- this one showcased startups in the cloud computing arena. Another great source of timely information, zeitgeist and good conversation.


This is a long-standing soapbox. I've found it frustrating to be so uninformed about the DMTF's efforts regarding the creation of OVF 1.1 and 2.0. By keeping even the highest level indicators of charter and objectives under wraps, the DMTF is doing themselves (and those of us who aren't members of DMTF) no favors. It leads us to expressions of concern and frustration like Lori MacVittie's OVF: A few layers short of a full stack.

IP Address Management

Folks like Greg Ness at InfoBlox are doing a great job educating the technology public about the state of IP address management in the enterprise, and the (surprising) diseconomies and threats involved. But, I found Denise Dubie's article on Managing IP addresses with free tools quite worthwhile, both for the pointers to interesting OSS projects but also as an anecdotal reportage of IT management's reaction to the issue.

information aesthetics

Feeding my amateur's love of data visualization, I just re-discovered this site.


A heatmap style visualization of breaking news. Multiple languages, organized by country and organized by high-level topic areas (e.g. world news, national, business, sports, ...)

World Builder

A holodeck environment designer creates the ultimate romantic bouquet for his love, including obsessing about the one flaw he sees after it's too late to fix.

World Digital Library

The World Digital Library (WDL) makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world. High quality, high resolution photos and scans of documents, maps and artifacts from as early as 8000 BC to the present. More of a memory palace than a library.


ZFS based open NAS/iSCSI for the enterprise, based on virtualized storage.

VMware's vSphere

What can I say? The dog-and-pony show this week was pretty good. The amount of really new information about feature and function was nominal, but the understanding of packaging, pricing and the timing starts to provide a sense of its impending release to the world at large. Oh, and a pretty good "guide" to what's happening in vSphere.

Cloud Slam '09

A virtual conference on Cloud Computing, presented via WebEx, April 20-24. I'm not sure if one can still register in order to get access to the recorded sessions. I certainly HOPE so.

How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write

Steven Johnson's very perceptive (as usual) and thought provoking article on eBooks, eBook readers and the nature of book publishing. (WSJ online, so it requires subscription.)


This UI almost makes me want to use Windows... ALMOST...


And, in the continuing taste testing for twitter clients, I'm finding that I'm using Nambu and Seesmic Desktop almost exclusively, but just found this one this morning and ... it's close to overwhelming. Browser based, and therefore requires you to provide your twitter credentials to them...(which I'm loath to do unless they've been vetted): 'PeopleBrowsr is a simple visual dashboard that adds more power to Twitter, your other online identities and those of your friends.'

Before providing your login information, use it by selecting the 'skip login' URL. I've tried it with my test account using Safari 4 beta, and it's REALLY good!!


A couple I forgot ...


Matt Asay's article was one of the best I encountered this week in my mini-project to look through the issues regarding OSS licensing and the deployment of such projects as services.

Reading Design Fiction

Bruce Sterling rarely fails to entertain and enlighten. This is some wonderful insight into the culture that fosters science fiction.

What the user base genuinely wanted was immersive fantasies. They wanted warmly supportive subcultures in which they could safely abandon their cruelly limiting real-life roles, and play semi-permanent dress-up.

News Timeline

Andy Hertzfeld's latest and greatest. Well done!!


InterCloud Portability Reality Check

I noted the SD Times piece yesterday by David Worthington, and had something of a sinking feeling. Here was AMZN, HP, IBM, MSFT and CRM singing the cloudy version of the old Burger King spot - "Have it your way." ... "We are open and continue to be. Customer choice is our philosophy." Mmmm.   

So, with a hat tip to James Urquhart for pointing out this reality check, I want to thank William Vambenepe. What I appreciate about the discussion in this post is his willingness to distinguish what "portability" might mean when operating at the various levels of cloud service -- application, platform or infrastructure.

William is legitimately skeptical about the likelihood of "application portability across IaaS providers", though I don't think I'd buy his pessimistic prediction of 10 years to achieve it. There is certainly a challenge for workload mobility across "interoperable" IaaS providers. I'll be a bit more positive about the possibilities. I foresee a much quicker uptake on the requirements he sets out by the introduction of a new set of players or, if not new players, significantly new services offered. I think of them as the set of Core Service providers for the InterCloud.

  • standards for key parts of the Cloud computing domain that Vambenepe lists (security, monitoring, provisioning, configuration, language runtime and/or OS, data storage/retrieval, network configuration, integration with local apps, metering/billing)
  • the existence of the requisite set of third-party services to deliver the aforementioned services in a uniform, authoritative and trusted manner
  • the availability of "RightScale-like tools" or the OA&M offerings of the Core Services providers to supply a lot of the heavy lifting required for discovering, mapping, hiding, transforming. (No... I didn't write this to introduce yet another acronym ... Cloud Management as a Service is too unwieldy.)
  • certification of application platforms that support workload migration across major IaaS providers

I'm particularly taken with the notion of an industry segment made up of InterCloud Core Service providers. (Ask anyone who's been unfortunate enough to have me bend their ear for the past couple of months. It's definitely been on my list of speaking points.) I plan to put more emphasis on their identification and definition in posts over the course of the next few weeks.

Reality check on Cloud portability


Because the reality is that, Manifesto or no Manifesto, you are not going to get application portability across IaaS-type Cloud providers. At least for production applications. Sorry. As a consolation prize, you may get some runtime portability such that we’ll be shown nice demos of prototype apps moving from one provider to another (either as applications or as virtual machines). Clap clap until you realize that they left behind their monitoring capabilities, or that their configuration rules don’t validate anything anymore. And that your printer ran out of red ink when printing the latest compliance report. Oops


Standards are always supposed to prevent vendor lock-in. And there is a need for some of that, of course. But look at the track records. How many applications do you know that are certified and supported on any SQL database, any Unix operating system and any J2EE app server? And yet, standardizing queries on relational data and standardizing an enterprise-class runtime environment for one programming language are pretty constrained scopes in the grand scheme of things. At least compared to all the aspects that you need to standardize to provide real Cloud portability (security, monitoring, provisioning, configuration, language runtime and/or OS, data storage/retrieval, network configuration, integration with local apps, metering/billing, etc). And we’re supposed to put together a nice bundle of standards that will guarantee drag-and-drop portability accross all these concerns? In how many lifetimes?


The Cloud's Kicking Mike D's Butt

Mike DiPetrillo took the job of global cloud architect at VMware in January, and has been pretty light on the blogging since then. I follow him and a group of virtualization-cloud-network-datacenter folks on Twitter, so there's not been a total loss of visibility. Today he's given voice to what many others are feeling.

  • Cloud is (and I apologize) a nebulous concept.

  • Because there's "something for everyone", everyone wants it (or a piece of it).

  • All the providers and pundits are "Cloud" and have been Cloud since before there WAS a cloud. (We just called it something else.)

  • What's REALLY important about Cloud is "up ahead."    

So, of course, we are all ignorant about Cloud. But the nature of the phenomenon is such that, in order to unwrap the gifts of Cloud, one pretty much has to wade in and participate. The Cloud is not meant to be a spectator sport, but you are obligated to watch what everyone is doing.

Mike D's Blog - The Cloud is Kicking My Butt

All of this leads me to the conclusion. I need to blog more. I need to share all of the details on what’s going on not only at VMware but with customers and service providers and standards and everything in between. I have a new mission in life and that’s to provide an inside look at what’s going on with cloud from the perspective of an engineer that’s helping enterprises and service providers build clouds on a daily basis. I guess I just need to cut out some of the 4 hours of sleep I’ve been getting in order to do all of this.

There’s a fair warning to all of this. Cloud is in flux. Standards don’t really exist. Everyone is labeling everything from toaster ovens to BMWs as “cloud enabled”. The information I share can and will change. Some of it will become obsolete. Some of it may seem very scary like no one has their act together. That’s just the nature of cloud at the moment. Everyone in the industry is stumbling through this together. In the end it’s all going to be worth it. For now though sit back, keep reading the posts, and prepare to get your butt kicked by the cloud.

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