“Governance is a snoozer, But poor security can be hazardous”

Just finished listening to a podcast by David Linthicum- CTO of Bick Group, and Bryan Doerr, CTO of Savvis.

The performance and cost advantages of Cloud Computing  make it unstoppable. However, David Linthicum emphasized how poor security and governance can be hazardous to your Cloud Computing efforts in the long run.

No one likes Governance. It is boring. It is  a snoozer. But without it, you risk making the wrong decision which may expose your company to an avoidable security breach.

You can listen to the full podcast here

[Shown Above: “Menaced Assassin”  by Magritte-  With the right security policies security hazards   can be menaced even before they can do  any damage.  ]

Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 8:57 am  Comments (1)  

Do a billion people have interesting things to say to each other?

I am a fan of twitter.  They have invented a category- microblogging. The beauty of twitter is its public nature, and it allows people to do trend mining.

On the other hand,  most interesting things are said when there is some expectation of privacy.  A micro blogging site which will enforce rule and role based security may persuade people to increase the number of microblogs they by one or two orders of magnitude. Many who have never microblogged may be persuaded to do so.

ow many more tweets would people at a conference like VMWorld would be willing to put, if they were restricted to a select group of friends. There was ways of achieving it, but none are satisfactorily friendly and powerful.

What is needed is an ability to define “Circles”- my inner circle of friends may get microblogs about politics- I may not want all my friends, or my work colleagues  to know about the microblogs.   People have strong views on many subjects that they need to share to a select group of people. This can easily be implemented using XACML and role and rule based security.

I would like a micro blogging site in which I can open my heart, and share my innermost thoughts.  Without fear of it becoming public.  At a more prosaic level,  a secure private micro blogging site may offer benefits to businesses and enhance communication.

Women are concerned about security, and therefore are reticent to do any significant micro blogging.  Geeks may think that publishing your GPS coordinates is cool, most women do not. On the other hand, many women would like a select group of people to know their location.

Twitter(or Microblogging) is  expected to  reach  a billion registered users in the future.  Scalability challenges of a site  like this are enormous.  Creating an affordable solution that will work at Internet scale for something like this- It is a problem worth discussing.

Published in: on September 4, 2009 at 8:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dramatic and Mild

Are dramatic improvements in levels of virtualization possible with only minor technological improvments?

Are dramatic improvements in levels of virtualization possible with only minor technological improvments?

Talking to clients it seems as if the amount of virtualization that they expect is quite low. Many will be happy with a  3X level of virtualization over current datacenter. Are much higher levels of virtualization possible with relatively minor technological improvements?   Do you want to discuss?

Above: Dramatic and Mild, by Vassily Kandinsky.

Published in: on July 27, 2009 at 2:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

From Surreal to real, the world of virtual computing burst into focus this week

The Announcement Cloud- Cisco, IBM, Sun, Microsfot and Amazon have all made announcements in Cloud Computing space

The Announcement Cloud- Cisco, IBM, Sun, Microsfot and Amazon have all made announcements in Cloud Computing space. This will be the first of the three blogs. The second blog will analyze the market requirements for Internet and Web 2.0 companies, and the third will propose a "New Century" SOA and Cloud Computing Target Reference Architecture.

“Close, but no cigar?”

In the high tech world, it is often a case of: “Close, but no cigar”. A company may have a winning product, but competition could have an even better product. So is the Cisco “Unified Computing” likely to become a case of “Close, but no cigar”? Or could it be another example of Cisco producing another winning product. You be the judge.

The Basics:

More than 20% of servers sold in the world are now bought by large players like Google, Amazon and Microsoft. Managing these servers one at a time is impossible. This has made Cloud Computing all but inevitable. Cloud Computing involves integration of computing, networking and storage in a single environment. Cisco thinks that the product it has announced that is a “Winner”. The product in my opinion can quite rightfully be dubbed a “Data Center” in a box. It integrates storage, network and computing virtualization.  I think this box along with the software from BMC could become the foundation on which corporations could create private clouds in their datacenters.

What did Cisco Announce?

Cisco announced an integrated environment which integrates a blade server, storage and network fabric.

It also announced a blade server that is based on Nehalem processors; It is not yet another blade server in my opinion. It is based on technology that Cisco bought in a spin-in. It allows support for much larger memory banks, and can thus support servers with much larger datasets. Consider databases/OLAP applications that process much larger datasets, or application servers that support much larger heap sizes, or application level caches(like GigaSpaces)that are much larger in size. It is not an also ran blade server, as is being claimed by the competition.

Currently, setting up a datacenter is a manual and tedious process. Cisco simplifies this process using BMC Management software and hardware that integrates virtualization, storage and network virtualization.

Who is the main target?

The main target appears to be large Enterprises who have complex requirements for their datacenters. It does not appear to be targeted at the lowest cost seeking Internet companies. Some of the features (such as larger memory, or sophisticated security and virtualization) may not be of enough interest to Internet companies to justify the price. Medium and small businesses may also not require the features mentioned here.

Highlights of Remarks by John Chamberlain

“Cisco does not announce point products”

Cisco sees the Unified Computing Initiative as a long term strategy with which it will unite storage, virtualization and computing needs. They have certainly put a good package together: Networking cards optimized for performance and virtualization; A blade server that uses Neheleium effectively, and more importantly integrates new technology that allows much larger amount of memory; as well as a Software Solution that makes constructing a Data Center quite simple.

Cisco's new Unified Computing System integrates virtualization, storage and networking

“Cisco sees datacenter computing power merging all the way into the home”

This caught me a little by surprise, as there is no clear indication of how this will be done. Cisco has wanted to be a fixture in the living room and on consumer desktops for years. Acquisitions like LinkSys(routers), Scientific Atlanta(set-top boxes), FlipVideo(Home Video uploaded to Internet) as well as PostPath(Email) have not quite succeded in establishing Cisco as a presence in the livingroom. However, succeeding in the consumer market is not easy, where competition can be quite fierce. It is a very low gross margin business, compared with the main networking business of Cisco. However, I do have some pointers to the Cisco vision to realize this. With the Uncertainity and flux involved in this, I would love to share this information, but only privately. (Please email me  technicalarchitect2007  at gmail dot com . )

Interesting points from Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior

After the warning shot over the bow, came the olive branch.  Padmasree Warrior(like me an alumna of IIT Delhi) , was given a difficult task: Explain product features with clarity(which she did extremely well) , even while downplaying that this is igniting a turf war with HP.

“Cisco has not announced a new product. It has announced a Common Architecture linking data resources, Virtualization products and storage. Burden of Systems Integration is still on the customer. Constructing a datacenter with integrated storage, networking and compute resources is a manual complex process, that many customers do not know how to do well.”(Paraphrased remarks)

Padmasree Warrior was given the thankless job of downplaying the vision outlined by John T. Chamberlain. Her cry for peace and love among industry players is appropriate, but sounds almost plaintive, given the broadside from HP(see   below. )

What did the competition say?

HP: “Cisco should launch its blade server in the museum”

“Following the Cisco launch, HP sent a strongly-worded response to the media raising a number of criticisms of Cisco’s approach with UCS. The release said it was “appropriate that Cisco launch(ed) their server in a museum” as the notion of unified compute, network and storage as a system was debuted with the first blades five years ago. It also questioned if you would “let a plumber build your house,” claiming Cisco’s “network-centric” view of the data centre is incomplete, and dubbed UCS as “Cisco’s Hotel California” claiming a lack of standards compatibility.”

I disagree with this assessment of the blade server. By supporting much higher levels of memory(see here) , it may be possible to do so much more than with the HP Blade Server. Everything can run faster with much higher amount of memory- from database servers to Java Application servers with larger heap sizes.

I would love to post an update, if HP were to give me data about why their blade servers can also support equivalent amount of memory, and a roadmap for their launch.

The more substantial response:

“Cisco is providing a vision with their UCS approach they’ve pre-announced, but to us that’s a vision HP is delivering on today,” said Christianotoulos. “It’s a vision for them, but for us it’s a reality today with Adaptive Infrastructure from HP.”

At the end of the day, while competitors come and go, Christianotoulos said HP has been a leader in the server segment for 20 years and remains focused on reducing cost and complexity in the data centre, regardless of competition from Cisco or others.

Has it been a long winter in Sunny california? Or maybe it is due to lack of enough love from Wall Street: But it appears that HP needs validation too.

“To be dead honest, the Cisco news is a bit of a compliment for us, I believe,” said Matt Zanner, worldwide director of data center solutions for HP Procurve, the networking division of HP. HP laid out a new open networking concept with a new family of switches in January, which provides “strong validation that we are headed in the right direction as well,” Zanner said.

How did Goldman Sachs, stock market and the financial institutions react?

Goldman Sachs was enthusiastic. It added Cisco to the “Conviction Buy” list.

“Fresh off Monday’s fanfare around its server introduction, Cisco (CSCO QuoteCramer on CSCOStock Picks) was placed on Goldman Sachs’ conviction buy list Tuesday with a price target of $18. In a somewhat apt switch, Goldman dropped Hewlett-Packard (HPQ QuoteCramer on HPQStock Picks) from its list last week. The shift coincides with Cisco’s bold and somewhat risky strategy to attack H-P’s network server turf.  “

Why has Cisco pre-announced this product?

The speculation is that this is to stop customers from signing contracts with competition. Customers who do want to benefit from Nehelium, and the new Cisco Blade server technology, are well advised to wait for the UCS launch this summer.

Some may say that unless a product is actually launched, it is impossible to decide whether it is “vaporware” or not.

Our takeaway: It is definitely not a point innovation, nor is it a revolutionary invention.

Cisco USC is definitely not a point innovation, neither is it a revolutionary invention. The cost savings promised by Cisco, could potentially be matched by others. Veteran competitors like HP may be able to create better blade servers, and put together equivalent products using other networking gear.

Cisco has definitely taken a lead in the emerging convergence of storage, virtualization and computing power.

Fly like an Eagle with VMForce.com

Is creating new Software that integrates Enterprises and SalesForce is a little too much like Rocket Science?

VMForce.com – Will it make incubating great Software easy?

“Salesforce.com and VMware are forging a high-profile partnership, according to a Web site announcing an April 27 event being held by the companies. ”


(Shown above: Clairvoyance and  Clairvoyance by Magritte )

Published in: on April 22, 2010 at 1:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Who came up with this “Collective Invention” ?

“The Collective Invention” By Magritte

Your CRM applications are running in a Force.com Cloud,  Your other webapps are running in the Google AppEngine Cloud,   Your customer facing webapps are running in Amazon EC2 CloudFront and your traditional portlets are running in the Enterprise Portal. Many of these applications  Portlets access backend databases through Enterprise DataServices and a middle tier.

One of the Portlets is running very slow. Where is the problem? Even worse, one of the portlets runs slow some of the time,  and beats SLA most of the time. Where is the problem?

Production issues like these have troubled Enterprises with n-tier applications for  years. Please click on the picture below to see a detailed diagram of a multitier  Cloud Application.

Most n-tier monitoring software is not able to track individual transactions- some only  provide very high level metrics, while others provide averages for transactions. This is not enough for 80 to 90% of real life Production Support issues.  If n-tier was hard, debugging Enterprise problems that are distributed across multiple Clouds is going to be even harder.  One key problem is that the different systems are owned by different Enterprise groups, and this leads to very long conference calls where everyone blames everyone else.  Since usually the problem is in only one or two parts of a distributed architecture, it is a strategy that even the least technically savvy can pursue and win.

“DynaTrace” with its PurePath technology may offer an answer.  It offers:

“Java and .NET transaction tracing for instant assessment of business impact and rapid problem diagnostics “

It helps you find the answers you need to resolve performance problems that matter to the business quickly and reliably:

  • Assess the impact of a problem (WHAT?)
  • Isolate the component causing the problem (WHERE?)
  • Identify the root-cause of the problem (WHY?)

DynaTrace will work with all of the components described above.  The diagram above is highly simplified.  A typical Enterprise has  30,000 to 50,000 workloads, each consisting of a multitude of applications and services.  The numbers bring perspective to the analysis.   There are many application monitoring tools which monitor, but none can deliver value in terms of diagnosing  troublespots.

  (It is unclear if it can find trouble spots
 inside a Force.com application.

But it should work well with the webservice
 calls that the application makes. )

Published in: on December 24, 2009 at 9:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

John Chambers talks tough on data centers …

Cisco has landed many deals worth $20 million or more. This makes a lot of sense. The real value of UCS is in the ease of management, and ease of management is crucial when you have large number of servers.

"Cisco may not have the necessary breadth to be a true soup-to-nuts player. IBM and HP, for example, sell their own storage gear. "  I tend to agree. I have not heard much about their consulting partners and the offerings that they are creating.

I see a very big market for Remote Desktops in middle income countries.  There is concern over license compliance in these countries, and using unlicensed software may be rampant- but users are not necessarily satisfied with the experience. If Desktop software with a per CPU license, were to be used,  economics of Remote Desktop can be extremely compelling. 

Microsoft, unfortunately, has a per client device policy. This means every netbook or client device that uses the software on the server must be licensed. This reduces the value of having server side computing.







Published in: on December 9, 2009 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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MySQL to be separated into a separate unit?

Oracle may agree to put mySQL in a separate business unit. This business unit may have a separate board, according to a news item in The Register.

Meanwhile the MariaDB fork is getting momentum.

Published in: on December 5, 2009 at 7:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Larry Ellisson on Sun-Oracle merger…

Is this what customers actually want?

“As Ellison said in October, “TJ Watson’s IBM was the greatest company in the history of enterprise in America because its combination of hardware and software was running most of the enterprises on the planet. We think with the combination of Sun technology and Oracle technology we can succeed and beat IBM. That’s our goal.”

Do we want a return to the monolithic hardware/software combination with limited choices?

How will affect choice and price?

Published in: on November 30, 2009 at 7:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Your Sharepoint, My Sharepoint

I just noticed that Ltech has announced an Integration between Google and Microsoft Sharepoint.  It is not clear but it should probably work with Sharepoint hosted in the Azure Cloud.

I will study it in detail and post about whether it is a live-live bidirectional integration, or just a way of migrating content.  I see great potential for a live-live bidirectional or on-demand synch between content in a proprietary CMS and content being displayed in the Google Apps Cloud.

Published in: on November 19, 2009 at 8:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

A compelling value proposition in the Storage Space…

This is a quick review of  this interesting company.

I first read about them in the Register:       “Compellent – the billion-dollar storage company?   Screw the recession up”

Count on El Reg to make good predictions-

Compellent is now  proposing to raise funds through an IPO.

3.34 million shares at $19.25 per share.  That should raise some cool cash to raise additional money for future sales and marketing efforts.

I think “Thin Provisioning” is the key feature that is going to drive additional sales. It is reviewed in detail here.

Published in: on November 19, 2009 at 5:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Update: 192 GB list price for Cisco UCS appears to be around 10.5G

Just saw this in the register:

Cisco UCS price appears to be around 10,500 dollars for 192 GB of memory using 48 slots.

This is a very good price for a lot of memory, and may make this a system of choice for memory intensive applications like Remote Desktops, Memcache appliances etc..

Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 7:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

10 million transactions per day for $20

Amazon EC2 has discovered the power of main memory databases- It wants to offer to 10 million transactions per day for under $20 using Times10 main memory database. My question: Why do I need to run it on Amazon to get such a low price? Over 3 years, $20 per day adds up to $20,000. A fractional share of a Times10 in-memory database on a new Dell or Cisco UCS server can deliver similar performance- with more control over the environment, live-live disaster recovery, persistence to a permanent Oracle store etc..

I can see this as useful as a temporary solution, but on an ongoing basis it is going to cost a lot more.


Published in: on October 15, 2009 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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