How is Cloud Computing Different from Others?

Mainframe difference

Cloud computing is about externalizing service. It means that the computation is done somewhere else. This requires the service provider to have powerful servers. Till this point, there is not any difference between good old mainframe and cloud computing.

BUT, cloud computing is about distributed computing. In the mainframe world, you cannot procure a data storage from one vendor, several IT services from multiple vendors, combine (mash-up) them into a business solution.  

SOA Difference

Both Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Cloud Computing focus on the flexibility and lower cost aspects of providing solutions. Both these terms include both a set of technologies and business models.

SOA is about creating a standards based framework that provides highly reusable services and workflow. Cloud Computing does not have any standards as such. Cloud vendors, at present, don’t see a value in creating standards based service offering. They are busy retooling and promoting their existing IT capabilities as Services on the Cloud. This will hurt many of these providers in the long run. Also this is making it hard for their customers to move from one vendor to another and integrate these externalized services deep inside their enterprise infrastructure.

A mix of SOA and Cloud computing would create standards based framework that can be integrated deep into the existing IT infrastructure.  This would lower cost of migration from one vendor to another. Such an offering will improve the confidence of enterprise architects in these services resulting in deep integration into Line of Business (LOB) applications.

Grid Computing Difference

Grid computing is the combination of computer resources from multiple administrative domains applied to a common task. It is mainly used for scientific or technical problems. In grid computing, a few users makes request for a large amount of computing. So, grid computing devices usually employ super computers or specialized computing devices.

In Cloud computing, each service focuses mainly on solving a single business problem.   Here, a large number of users request a small amount of computing.  In cloud computing, a large number of off the shelf computers are used to create a cloud environment.

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Promising Benefits of Cloud Computing

Business is forcing IT organizations to adapt to cloud computing because its financial benefits. IT organizations are interested in Cloud computing for its Operational Benefits, Financial Benefits, Better support for collaboration and Increased access to IT services for mobile workforce.

A cloud-based infrastructure requires its robust and redundant infrastructure. This often provides better uptime and availability at a lower cost. For example, storage on Amazon S3 can be procured as little as 0.15 cents per GB.  Since cloud services start with a prebuilt foundation, they provide good support for flexible provisioning, allows consistent upgrades, and expedites launch of new, innovative projects to gain/retain market share.

We have seen earlier that the pay-as-you go model allows greater flexibility in cash flow. This also empower companies to scale gracefully based on demand. The increased cash flow allows enterprises to fund multiple projects simultaneously, without having to provision for capacity, investments, and personnel as a priority.  Since the operational management is owned by third party service provider, ongoing operational overhead for internal IT departments would be lower.  This will bring down the total cost of ownership (TCO) for using a cloud service lower than a on-premise model that exists today.

 Collaborative and community computing facilitates multisource input and multiparty computing, which is the core strength of cloud computing model. This brings benefits that are not attainable with local computation only. For example, cloud-based threat service such as distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) or spam detection. A cloud service that has a wide visibility of the Internet traffic would see the onset of an attack more quickly and accurately than any local threat detector. Another example would be National Geographic’s topo.com that uses Amazon’s S3 to sell maps, download updated trail and trip information and even create trip maps to share with their friends.

As you probably know, not everything can be classified as cloud computing. Remember the early 90’s when you could order pizza or food over the web in the San Francisco Bay area?  It was not a web based pure play business model.  Similar to that 90’s ASP business model, a lot of technology vendor are coming up with new cloud services almost every day. Many of them are not cloud service but rather follows ASP hosted model. We will revisit this topic later in the series.

Cloud Computing 101

Cloud Computing is the latest industry buzz, which has climbed to its peak in 2009. This series of articles are an attempt to demystify the hype behind Cloud Computing.

In this series, I will write about  

          a brief overview of the cloud computing

          how it is different from good old mainframe

          how it is different from other buzz words such as SaaS, Grid Computing and SOA

          architecture of cloud computing

          usage models of cloud computing

          myths surrounding cloud computing

          concerns on cloud computing

As we go along this journey, feel free to use me as your sounding board. I am open to taking detours that would address your questions and concerns.

Cloud computing paradigm is a combination of technology practices and business models working together to deliver agility and scalability to business at a fraction of the cost it would take for traditional IT models to deliver equivalent capabilities.  

Cloud computing refers to any IT capability that can be virtualized, externalized and monetized.  By  virtualizing an IT capability, the underlying technology stake is almost irrelevant to the consumers. By externalizing, the capability is made portable and easy to manage with least number of dependencies. The ability to measure and monitor the service usage at a granular level helps create consumption based charge back model that is most attractive business clients. This way, a business can rent an IT capability without investing heavily in its IT department to stand up this service. Think cash flow!

I know I am a runner

I AM A RUNNER because my runs have names. I do tempo runs and threshold runs and fartlek runs. I do long, slow runs and track workouts. My runs are defined, even if my abs are not.

I AM A RUNNER because my shoes are training equipment, not a fashion statement. The best shoe for me is the one that makes me a better runner. I choose the shoe that goes with my running mechanics, not my running outfit.

I AM A RUNNER because I don’t have running outfits. I have technical shirts and shorts and socks. I have apparel that enhances the experience of running by allowing me to run comfortably. I can say "Coolmax" and "Gore-Tex" in the same sentence and know which does what.

I AM A RUNNER because I know what effort feels like, and I embrace it. I know when I’m pushing the limits of my comfort and why I’m doing it. I know that heavy breathing and an accelerated heart rate — things I once avoided — are necessary if I want to be a better runner.

I AM A RUNNER because I value and respect my body. It will whisper to me when I’ve done too much. And if I choose to listen to that whisper, my body won’t have to scream in pain later on.

I AM A RUNNER because I am willing to lay it all on the line. I know that every finish line has the potential to lift my spirits to new highs or devastate me, yet I line up anyway.

I AM A RUNNER because I know that despite my best efforts, I will always want more from myself. I will always want to know my limits so that I can exceed them.

I AM A RUNNER because I run. Not because I run fast. Not because I run far.

I AM A RUNNER because I say I am. And no one can tell me I’m not.

I read the above from MSN Health. It is a great inspiration for me to pick up my shoes again.

 

 

 

Top 10 IT Disasters of All Time

Remember Y2K? Though the millennium bug was not an IT disaster, it was a near disaster that affected the most number of people and businesses. Thus, Y2K made a list of the top 10 historic IT disasters.

The British online tech news service ZDNet.co.uk has published what it sees as the top 10 IT disasters of all time. Not surprising, the list is a bit European focused, but it serves as a guide to the major problems the IT world has faced.

1. A faulty Soviet early warning system nearly caused World War III. In 1983, a software bug in the Soviet system reported that the U.S. launched five ballistic missiles.

2. The AT&T network collapsed in 1990, caused by an error in a single line of code in a software upgrade. Some 75 million phone calls across the U.S. went unanswered.

3. An Ariane 5 rocket exploded shortly after liftoff in 1996. According to a New York Times Magazine article, the self-destruction was triggered by software trying to stuff "a 64-bit number into a 16-bit space."

4. Two partners used different and incompatible versions of the same software to design and assemble the Airbus A380 jetliner in 2006. When Airbus tried to bring together two halves of the aircraft, the wiring on one did not match the wiring in the other. That caused at least a one-year and very costly delay to the project.

5. Navigation errors doomed two spacecraft sent to explore Mars in 1998 when one NASA contractor used imperial units and another contractor employed metric units in the space crafts navigation systems.

6. The British Child Support Agency’s computer system operated by EDS overpaid 1.9 million people and underpaid some 700,000 in 2004, costing taxpayers over 1 billion pounds.

7. The two-digit year 2000 problem was more of a disaster avoided, except for the cost. Fixing the code, according ton one estimate, topped $825 billion.

8. When a Dell laptop exploded at a Japanese trade show in 2006, word of other laptop fires began to surface. Faulty batteries were blamed. Two recall programs for Dell and Apple cost battery maker Sony an estimated $185 million.

9. Some 500,000 British citizens discovered in the summer of 1999 that their new passports couldn’t be issued on time because the Passport Agency had brought in a new Siemens computer system without sufficiently testing it and training staff first. The British government had to pay millions in compensation, staff overtime and umbrellas for the poor people queuing in the rain for passports.

10. About 17,000 passengers found themselves stranded earlier this year at Los Angeles International Airport when a network card persisted in sending the incorrect data out across the network, causing a network failure and forcing aviation official to ground planes. Nobody could be authorized to leave or enter the U.S. through the airport for eight hours.

ZDNet did not include disasters that resulted in any deaths.

Did the list miss any big IT disasters?

-Courtesy Eric Chabrow from CIO Insight magazine

Running and Reading

I have a 18 Mile race coming up in two weeks. I have been running 6 miles on my steady runs. Not good!
So, I geared up and ran last Sunday for my long run. After an hour of running in the cold wind, I got bored and had to return. Cold wind is a serious demotivating factor. I I hope to run my 16 miles this weekend.
 
I have started reading ‘The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us‘. It is an book that talks about the past as well as the future of China and India as economic powers. I have not finished it yet. So my final comments are still out. So far, it is an interesting book. I am learning facts about China that I was not aware of before.
 

Zackman Training

For the last three days, I participated in an onsite Zachman Training on how to be an effective Enterprise Architect.
Mr John Zachman himself taught half the course. His business partner, Mr Sam, tought the rest of the course. While Zachman is an extraordinary visionary, Sam is a implentation oriented expert. Together they conducted the course very well. I am both inspired and impressed by the way an enterprise architect should be thinking.
While I would like to start dissecting our enterprise as soon as possible, I am not sure our enterprise is ready for such an exercise. So, I might have to start at project and program level. I cannot wait to start working on the six distinct aspects for all my future projects.
 
Here is a picture of Mr.Zachman teaching our course.
Zachman.jpg.
 
He has an interesting personality. He prefers to use overhead projector that is an antiquated technology in today’s standard. Here, he is teaching a framework that is twenty some years old, that can transform any enterprise in the world, and yet its full potential has not been ealized till date.
 
You can find our more about Zachman and his framework from http://www.zifa.com/.
 
 

Accomplishment

I ran my first half a marathon today. Yeah!

 

39th annual YMCA half a marathon was held in South Mountain Park today. The run felt great. The course was all uphill / downhill. That made running very difficult. I had knee and breathing problems. My running partner had hip and foot problems. So, we had to walk for a few miles. Even thought I was tired and exhausted, I and my running buddy sprinted from 100 meters from the finish line. It was well received with claps and shouting from the volunteers at the finish line. It felt as if I was accomplishing something!

 

I had salt sediments on my face and on my glass at the end of the race. I had to wash it three times during the run to keep it clean. Everytime a grandpas overtook us, I cringe and try to beat him. It kept me going. 🙂

 

The organizers and volunteers were just fabulous. The last 2.5 miles were steep hill. I remember the lady at the foothills who was giving out water. She was shouting encouraging words to us as we walked past here. So, we picked up running again. I really appreciate what they did today.

 

My running partner was great too. Without him, I don’t think I would have signed up for this event.

 

I have had knee injury on my left knee and was not able to run for the last two weeks. I also had self-doubt about being able to run with injured knee. I did not want to permanently damage it by running on a race. But, I was committed to something and did not feel like quitting. I did some reading on the knee injury and found exercises to help with it. I have been doing those exercises for the last two days.

 

 

This is the longest distance I have run to date. My previous record was 9 miles on the road. I am in the little league now. 🙂 Once I run my first Marathon, I am going to be joining the 400,000 or so people who ever ran Marathon among a world population of 6.7 billion.

 

Aged Red Wine

Murugan and I were best friends during my Masters degree in Pondicherry. It was one of the most memorable periods of my life.  Searching for a tea shop at 1 AM at night, waking him up with a bucket of water, late night discussions at beach, going to a bar with him even though I did not drink anything, Boy! Lots of memories

 

It was great to be living by the beach, having our own resort accommodation called dorm, catered by a chef in a town that blends French and Indian cultures. Yet, we both were living a miserable collage life. 🙂

 

Since both Murugan and I were relocating often, it was difficult to keep in touch with him. We meet once in a few years, catch up from where we left, and bid farewell. I have lost touch with him since 1996. Interestingly we were both looking for each other’s contact information. I had been actively looking for him for the last two months. I received an email from him yesterday.

 

Talking with Murugan was just great. It brings back a flood of memories. This morning, Murugan’s brother, Lenin, called me out of nowhere. When I was leaving for the US, both these brothers were so helpful.

 

It has been 10 years. Wow! We both are still growing — professionally and personally.

 

Since modes of communication has grown so much during this period, I hope we keep in constant touch from now on.

Top Marathon Runner Gives You 10 Training Tips

 

One of Britain’s top marathon runners, Liz Yelling, has compiled a top 10 of training tips. Yelling won bronze at last year’s Commonwealth Games and was eighth in this year’s London Marathon.

1. Ring fence your exercise time. You won’t get to the finish line without protecting your time to train. You’ve made a personal commitment to your health and well-being so it’s important to you. Prioritize your time and stick to it.

2. Create incentives. Set goals and reward yourself when you reach them. These will provide you with drive and commitment towards the 5k and help you gauge how your fitness is progressing.

3. Plan your attack. Know what you are going to do in your week and when. Your plan should be progressive, structured and appropriate to your exercise history, level of fitness and 5k goals.

4. Variation is the spice of running life. Doing the same type of running can make your routine boring. Don’t just do the same run every day. Mix it up and try different things like varying the pace, terrain and time you run for.

5. It shouldn’t be all hard work. Avoid packing all your runs together. As a rule of thumb, for every day of ‘hard’ running, take two days rest or easy running.

6. Fuel yourself. Running is a great calorie burner but you still need to replace the energy you’ve used. Carbohydrate is the body’s fuel for exercise so eat a healthy, balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids.

7. Get some support. Running with friends is social and builds togetherness. Getting a coach can help you get the right advice from an experienced specialist and keep you motivated.

8. Get the right kit. Specialist running shoes are a must for injury prevention. Choose running kit that is functional and comfortable.

9. Be patient. Don’t expect immediate results. Successful running takes time, but you’ll love the benefits of looking and feeling great when they arrive. The more you do the easier it gets.

10. Enjoy it and have fun! Running shouldn’t be a chore. It’s something you do to boost your health, wellness and vitality. Just being out there doing it is a brilliant achievement and you should remind yourself how well you’ve done.