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12093-cloud-se_articleThe old tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” can be applied to the current state of cloud security. Like the gullible emperor, people rely on cloud services to live their online lives and are too trusting in what companies try to sell. Big cloud companies often market fancy-sounding security and encryption features — like the invisible fabric the emperor could not see but was made to believe was there.

These cloud providers tout “the most secure” or “NSA-proof” services, but leave out the most vital detail: encryption is only one thread in the security and privacy fabric. The only way to close the loop on data privacy is to take a look at where keys are stored.

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10 Nerdy Things To Do In Las Vegas

19 Mar 2014, Posted by admin in Blog

25C7DBB7FDEE98EB339313F2B55B68D5At the end of March, IT engineers and architects will descend upon Las Vegas for Interop, the biggest independent IT conference of the year. The show will be packed with the latest technology, including everything from OpenFlow to 802.11ac and SSDs to DIMMs. But even the biggest technophile needs have a little fun at the end of the day, and Las Vegas is certainly the place to find it. If you want to get away from the glitzy shows and casinos, check out these places where nerds can let loose.

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screen-image-low-batteryIn a six-year span, one major laboratory has been the principal source of two contradictory reports on the power consumption of cloud data centers. The most recent report concludes that moving to the cloud saves energy, yet close inspection of the data reveals that virtualization — not the use of the technology in the cloud — is behind power reduction.

In 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned Congress that the power draw from cloud data centers appeared to be doubling every five years. At that rate, cloud data centers would be adding more stress to the nation’s power grid than new citizens being added to the population.

Then last June, a study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory proclaimed that businesses moving their e-mail, productivity, and CRM applications to SaaS providers could reduce their power consumption by as much as 87%.

The Cloud Energy and Emissions Research (CLEER) Model, funded in part by Google and introduced by LBNL in its June report, used survey data submitted by U.S. businesses to estimate significant power savings achievable through SaaS. Using this model, researchers extrapolated the following: If all U.S. businesses were to shift their critical business applications to cloud service providers, enough energy savings would be attained each year to power the entire city of Los Angeles.

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Enterprise Cloud Adoption: 5 Hard Truths

07 Mar 2014, Posted by admin in Blog

bigstock_The_Truth_Just_Ahead_Green_Ro_11944751Last fall I had the honor of sitting on the selection committee for the inaugural ICE (Innovation in Cloud for Enterprise) Awards, sponsored by the Cloud Connect show and Everest Group. The experience taught me how large enterprises are adopting cloud computing in ways that are often compelling, sometimes surprising, and occasionally breathtaking.

The winner, Revlon, Inc., presented an impressive case for how it leverages cloud to achieve organizational transformation that boosts competitiveness and consumer wallet share.

As impressive as each individual entry was, there were five recurring themes that emerged across the enterprise cloud adoption stories we read. While certainly not scientific, they reflect what enterprises themselves report as important factors in the success of their cloud deployments.

1. Identify a compelling reason to step out of the comfort zone.

We’ve read about the importance of senior management buy-in to achieve success in cloud transformation. But what we found in the award entry submissions is that the truth is even starker: Senior management must believe that cloud adoption is critical to organizational survival.

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social-mobile-appCloud-based enterprise applications vendor Workday announced Thursday that it’s bringing a consumer-web-app look and feel to its human capital management and financial applications.

Expanding its use of HTML5 from mobile devices to the desktop, Workday says it’s poised to deliver a clean look, better usability, and a consistent user experience to desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Going beyond interface design, Workday has also introduced an agile-development, test, and release approach that it says will improve the company’s approach to introducing new features.

Workday’s new look is already visible to customers in preview mode. Those who are ready to take it into production will be able to turn it on as soon as Feb. 3. Inspired by the likes of Google, Amazon, and LinkedIn, the new look is described as simple and utilitarian, with plenty of white space and user-friendly functionality. For example, as you start to type in names of workers, business processes, or transaction types, you’ll see type-ahead suggestions, just as you do on Google. Personnel profiles in the HCM app make use of the kind of iconography and white space you see on Amazon or LinkedIn.

RoadSolid-state storage is marching through the datacenter, displacing disks in everything from servers to standalone storage arrays. The reasons are clear: significantly lower power, faster access times — particularly for reads — and most importantly, price points that make SSDs both technically feasible and fiscally preferable alternative to mechanical disks for more and more applications.

SSDs are certainly becoming more common in enterprise datacenters, according to InformationWeek’s 2014 State of Enterprise Storage Survey. The survey showed 40% of survey respondents using SSDs in disk arrays, up eight points from last year, while 39% now deploy SSDs in servers, up 10 points from last year. Deployments are still broad, but not deep, as nearly two-thirds of survey respondents outfit 20% or fewer of their servers with SSDs, and just 48% have SSDs in more than 20% of their storage arrays.

Better Videoconferencing In The Cloud

10 Feb 2014, Posted by admin in Blog

T3A critical part of the CIO’s job is to keep the enterprise’s technology environment up to date and relevant. When it comes to communication, most CIOs have focused on upgrading email systems and bringing in VOIP telephones — but many have missed the boat on desktop videoconferencing.

A more convenient and efficient alternative to traveling, videoconferencing is becoming a preferred way to conduct both one-on-one and group meetings. It allows employees to participate in a more relaxed and comfortable setting, whether they’re working from home or in the office. Live video feeds allow participants to interact in real time. This leads to increased involvement and stronger personal connections. Within the enterprise, videoconferencing can also reduce time spent walking between campuses and buildings. Better yet, recent advances in videoconferencing technology make it more appealing and cost-effective than ever.

Why conference room videoconferencing often fails

When I served as CIO of the US Department of Transportation, many of our conference rooms were equipped with videoconferencing technology. I observed first-hand why these systems failed.

3 Datacenter Trends To Watch In 2014

07 Feb 2014, Posted by admin in Blog

BInocularsThere was so much activity in the datacenter arena in 2013 — from innovative approaches to reducing data centers’ environmental impact to the software-defined-everything trend — that it would be foolhardy to try to sum up all the datacenter trends to watch for in 2014 in a single post.

That said, much of what we can expect to see in the datacenter arena in the coming year falls into one of three categories. So rather than trying to boil the ocean here, let’s focus on those three overarching trends:

1) Datacenter operators will continue to experiment with new ways of reducing their facilities’ carbon footprints.

One of the most persistent trends of 2013 was the steady stream of alternative methods for powering and cooling data centers. From Microsoft’s work to essentially place tiny power plants on server racks to Facebook’s plans to power a data center in Altoona, Iowa entirely with wind, there seemed to be no end to the ideas for making datacenters more self-sustaining.

If there was any doubt that this trend would accelerate in 2014, it was erased with the news that the NSA was getting into the act with a deal to purchase wastewater from nearby Howard County, Maryland to cool a data center the agency is building at Forte Meade. When an agency such as the NSA starts thinking about conservation of water and power, it’s safe to declare the environmental bandwagon as very crowded.

Microsoft’s Strong Quarter: 5 Key Facts

05 Feb 2014, Posted by admin in Blog

Microsoft handily beat Wall Street estimates Thursday, announcing revenue of $24.52 billion for its second fiscal quarter, which ended Dec. 31. The highest-grossing quarter in company history, Microsoft’s second quarter, was up from $21.5 billion in the same quarter last year. Net income was $6.6 billion, which translated to 78 cents per share.New-Microsoft-Logo-PPT-Backgrounds

Analysts had expected net income of $5.8 billion and revenue of $23.7 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

If Thursday marked the last earnings report for outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer, he will have exited on a high note. Since announcing his retirement plans in August, Ballmer has been a punching bag in the press, with reports not only critiquing his previous leadership but also implying that he and Bill Gates have become impediments to the search for Ballmer’s successor. But since bottoming out in July, when the company took an embarrassing $900 million write-down on unsold Surface inventory, the company has exceeded expectations in consecutive quarters.

The Evolving PUE of Containerized Datacenters

03 Feb 2014, Posted by admin in Blog

When I first started designing containerized datacenters, I looked at them as ways to tidy up many of the problems bedeviling the IT department, such as acceptance testing, installation disruption, cabling, and overall performance. As things evolved, we found ways to reduce inefficiencies in power utilization.installationIn turn, this led to x64 server designs that are more efficient still, and the efforts spent in improving unit cooling led to the realization that the traditional concept of providing a chilled air environment was fading into the history books.

A lot of factors make this increase in power usage effectiveness (PUE) possible. The advent of multi-core x64 CPUs keeps the power profile in a typical 1U server constant, while boosting power tremendously. Lower power memory matches the CPU, so that current servers have much better GFLOPS/watt. At the same time, power supplies are capable of much better efficiencies today, reducing the heat load in the server box.

The largest breakthrough came from the realization that cooling had to be decoupled from the server engine in a container. We tried water cooling (it leaks!), roof refrigeration and sidewall refrigeration. In the process, it became obvious that we could drop the chilling if we used bigger fans on the servers, and with racks full of the same structure, we could use 5-inch or bigger fans for cooling. (A techy aside — the bigger the fan, the better the airflow, and it’s roughly a square law, so a 5-inch fan versus a ¾-inch fan is no contest!)