Lost in the Cloud

But Wilber is probably right to take it seriously. The Cloud is made up of hundreds of thousands of components and millions of lines of code. Anyone of which could go wrong and cause disruption in Wilber’s organization.

And then forget about the inconvenience of not having email, file transfer and voice services for a day. What about specific but less visible processes that can affect costs and architectures? Such as standards wars and disputes, security breeches, or catastrophic events such as brown-outs, fires, explosions, etc.?

The Enterprise Network has numerous ways of breaking down and disrupting communications. Wilber has to make sure that enterprise applications running on his internal IT network are up and running 24/7 and if outsourced to the Cloud, that his suppliers are also 24/7.

Enough to give anyone a headache!

Maybe Wilber should just come home, have a beer, put his feet up and watch the Game.

The Cloud, like the Internet, appears to have as many definitions as users. Intel, a key supplier of chip components, uses a fairly broad description; a definition that encompasses infrastructure, platform and software, or a total operating ecosystem.

“cloud computing (is) a highly available computing environment where secure services and data are delivered on-demand to authenticated devices and users utilizing a shared, elastic infrastructure that concurrently supports multiple tenants.”

What distinguishes cloud computing from conventional computing is the shared and multiple user-centric web model. Attributes such as on-demand self-service, network access from anywhere, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, measured services and sharing by multiple tenants are the main requirements for cloud based offerings.

Because the definition is so broad, Intel also distinguishes three primary categories of cloud computing services;
Infrastructure services (IaaS) such as servers, storage, and network, delivered as a cloud service;
Platform services (PaaS) used to develop and deploy applications; and Software (SaaS) providing hosted services accessed over the Internet.

In fact, it is similar to the Internet, which also has an infrastructure, platform and software environment. Cloud computing uses many of the same web tools and technologies freely available on the internet. Like the Internet, it is made up of many different hardware and software platforms that enable the networking of digital bits and bytes. But as some see it, the increasing commercialization of the internet behind “walled gardens” of proprietary standards will impede innovation.

This seems unlikely.

The competition among proprietary environments for cloud based services will continue to be a spur, not an impediment to innovation. What is developed on one platform, if successful, will be ported to another. Applications developed and tested in the “garage” of the web environment will be adopted for use in enterprise networks.

What is different are the specific claims of openness and interoperability made by the owners of these proprietary standards (IP). Ease of interconnecting is a key issue for people like Wilber. The nature of business and increasing globalisation makes interoperability a necessity, particularly for supply chain or customer service applications.

Apple announced this week that all its Mobile Me and iDisk users will now be moved onto its new iCloud. ICloud services like storage and synching will be free along with an update of Apple’s iOS mobile software, which will be made available through downloads. Those are iPhone users, of which there are many.

The service marks the expansion of Apple’s current proprietary cloud services beyond iTunes, App Store and iBooks.

So getting back to poor frazzled Wilber. It looks as though prospects are brightening. Faced with an unending demand for more services at less cost – more for less – the mantra of business, – he has a number of choices. He is able to select services from any one of a number of competing giants, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, most of which will claim to save his organization money and resources.

But moving to the Cloud is not without its challenges too. If a cloud collapses, as did part of RIMs global network this week, Wilber needs to have a contingency plan in place. He is right to continue taking this cloud thing seriously.


The paradox of unstoppable growth in an economic meltdown.

A year ago I was writing about the fantastic growth of internet users around the globe. Today that exponential growth shows no sign of stopping. A sixth of the planet’s population has access to the world wide web – excluding mobile phone devices. Exponential growth of the internet The spread of smart phones and internet enabled tablets will only serve to maintain the current growth trend.

Although not exactly in a frenzy, given the recent financial melt down, investors are again beginning to get excited about the opportunities in the tech sector. The private placement for Facebook, the company’s valuation at $50+, the Twitter and Linked In valuations, Microsoft’s purchase of Skype for $8.5 billion, and with M&A activity on the rise, people are beginning to question whether another “tech bubble” is forming.

Yes, the tech sector is coming back but it is different this time. This is not a bubble, nor is it an inflated Y2K fear-driven, industry-wide, forced upgrade. This is steady growth on a global scale, seemingly infinite because ICT has become a commodity and the way it is delivered over the internet has made it accessible to even the very small businesses and start-ups. So many more people and businesses are now connected than just a decade ago and, as The Economist points out, most of the valuations are being carried out in the private markets.

With recession gripping much of the developed world, it is also reassuring to see that a key driver for this growth is from companies looking for efficiencies in their business functions. Doing more for less is the mantra behind that quest. Transactions and communications, the arteries of business, are made more efficient with the use of web and now “Cloud” based technologies.

Most impressive is the integration and use of mobile platforms and applications in the business organization. From apps that can monitor large networks and devices, to apps that can manage manufacturing automation. Smartphones and tablets are becoming portable terminal devices that monitor, track and account for many types of transactions.

Inevitably this has led to a scramble for applications that provide security and tracking of the devices themselves, most important if they are being used as terminals for financial transactions. A company like Airpatrol, for example, can geolocate, track and monitor usage of devices anywhere in the world.

Such evidence of unstoppable growth in the ICT sector should be good news in a time of recession, a bright cloud of new products, services and applications aimed at making life easier, for us all, whether that’s in the home or the marketplace.

Can Social Technologies Increase Our Dunbar Limit?

Can Social Technologies Increase Our Dunbar Limit?.

This is an interesting take on social media analysis, particularly when there is push from all sides to increase the number of social links, friends, connections, followers. The touted rewards are either an enhanced status (presence) or more opportunities for finding a suitable career or soulmate, whatever the quest.

The Dunbar principle refers to a theoretical cognitive limit that the average person has for maintaining stable social relationships. And yes, there is debate on what constitutes a stable social relationship, but Professor Dunbar uses a specific definition. Beyond this limit, relationships break down or are forgotten.

In his article, Michael Wu asks whether this limit can be extended through the power of social web technologies and how they can help to keep it all together.

He concludes by saying that because socializing involves more than just communicating via the web, it is unlikely that this limit will increase much beyond the approximately 150 currently set as the limit. Socializing and establishing solid relationships entails a certain amount of physical intimacy, touch, smell and other non verbal cues.

The value that social web technologies bring is the ability to access large populations quickly and easily and to capture their attention. He also mentions the meshing tools that put together brands, companies and users. So breadth but not depth is what he concludes. At least when it comes to social relationships between people. Relationships between things is something else.

On tweets and twittering

If the equivalent of an essay in the Google age is the blog, what then is the tweet?

A tweet is a part of the tidal wave of human twittering, but as such, runs a close risk of becoming an overwhelming flood-tide of twaddle. If new media is anything like old media, the generic will always float to the top as it has with TV. We have to dig down deep and arm ourselves with the right tools if we are to find our nuggets of relevant information.

The growth of twittering has been remarkable as shown below;

Just assume that over the next few years, as the web continues its stratospheric growth, more and more people will be texting and tweeting over their mobile phones. How are we to deal with the sheer volume of information that is being constantly generated onto the web? How do we turn off all the noise it creates, reduce the addiction to all the RSS feeds, blogs and tweets we read everyday? And the compulsion to communicate with friends and family or colleagues on social sites like Facebook or Linked In?

Mitch Joel, who writes a blog on Digital media, makes a very wise suggestion; forget the noise, turn it off, retreat, and become more selective about how we use the information available to us. He suggests making more use of filters and search engines to weed out what adds value to us personally or professionally. But no search engine or other web tool can do this better than us as readers. In other words, we need to become better editors. Use the available technology tools but use value as our yardstick. For those who produce content, he recommends reflecting more on the value that content generates to its audience rather than on just putting out some noise.

Good advice, but such is the diversity of users that one person’s noise will be another person’s object of value.

In the same way, tweets are just noise, 140-character bits of information that get tossed out as invitations to dialogue as support (or not) for on-going dialogues, as challenges, or markers, or simply to express one’s status or location. On the other hand, a gathering of like minded twitterers will swell into a cloud of followers all swarming over some topic or other.

So if the essay is a blog, I would define the tweet as a kind of digital hieroglyph, carving some kind of mark out of the digital landscape. It acquires value through the sheer volume of followers and re-tweeters, its relevance to the times, and ultimately, by how long it remains alive and twittering on the web.