Has Amazon Solved Its Private Cloud Dilemma?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is great, but many of our enterprise clients want those cloud services and values delivered on premise, behind their firewall, which may feel more comfortable for protecting their intellectual property (even if it isn't). AWS isn't very interested in providing an on-premise version of its solution (and I don't blame them). Today's partnership announcement with Eucalyptus Systems doesn't address this customer demand but does give some degree of assurance that your private cloud can be AWS compatible.

This partnership is a key value for organizations who have already seen significant adoption of AWS by their developers, as those empowered employees have established programmatic best practices for using these cloud services — procedures that call AWS' APIs directly. Getting them to switch to your private cloud (or use both) would mean a significant change for them. And winning over your developers to use your cloud is key to a successful private cloud strategy. It also could double your work to design and deploy cloud management solutions that span the two environments. 

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A New Venn Of Access Control For The API Economy

Cloud providers and many federated IAM practitioners are excited about OAuth, a new(ish) security technology on the scene. I’ve written about OAuth in Protecting Enterprise APIs With A Light Touch. The cheat-sheet list I keep of major OAuth product support announcements already includes items from Apigee, Covisint, Google, IBM, Layer 7, Microsoft, Ping Identity, and salesforce.com. (Did I miss yours? Let me know.)

OAuth specializes in securing API/web service access by a uniquely identified client app on behalf of a uniquely identified user. It has flows for letting the user explicitly consent to (authorize) this connection, but generally relies on authorizing the actions of the calling application itself through simple authentication. So does the auth part of the name stand for authentication, authorization, or what? Let’s go with “all of the above.”

However, OAuth is merely plumbing of a sort similar to the WS-Security standard (or, for that matter, HTTP Basic Authentication). It doesn’t solve every auth* problem known to humankind, not by a long shot. What other IAM solutions are popping up in the API-economy universe? Two standards communities are building solutions on top of OAuth to round out the picture:

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CeBIT 2012: App Stores and Cloud Marketplaces Meet Business Applications

CeBIT 2012 kicks off tomorrow — and believe it or not, it’s still the world’s biggest IT show, attracting 339,000 visitors last year and very likely even more this year.

Cloud computing is all over the fair this year (again), but some vendors have managed to move beyond cloud infrastructure and are starting to combine the ease of use, standardization, and opex-based consumption with business software. I had the chance to talk to some vendors last week about their upcoming announcements. Forrester analyst Holger Kisker has already pointed it out in his 10 Cloud Predictions For 2012:

The Wild West of cloud procurement is over! More enterprises and SMBs than ever are discovering a formal strategy to purchase cloud services in 2012. The easiest consolidated way to do this is an app store or cloud marketplace.

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Dell’s Turn For Infrastructure Announcements — Common Theme Emerging For 2012?

Last week it was Dell’s turn to tout its new wares, as it pulled back the curtain on its 12th-eneration servers and associated infrastructure. I’m still digging through all the details, but at first glance it looks like Dell has been listening to a lot of the same customer input as HP, and as a result their messages (and very likely the value delivered) are in many ways similar. Among the highlights of Dell’s messaging are:

  • Faster provisioning with next-gen agentless intelligent controllers — Dell’s version is iDRAC7, and in conjunction with its LifeCyle Controller firmware, Dell makes many of the same claims as HP, including faster time to provision and maintain new servers, automatic firmware updates, and many fewer administrative steps, resulting in opex savings.
  • Intelligent storage tiering and aggressive use of flash memory, under the aegis of Dell’s “Fluid Storage” architecture, introduced last year.
  • A high-profile positioning for its Virtual Network architecture, building on its acquisition of Force10 Networks last year. With HP and now Dell aiming for more of the network budget in the data center, it’s not hard to understand why Cisco was so aggressive in pursuing its piece of the server opportunity — any pretense of civil coexistence in the world of enterprise networks is gone, and the only mutual interest holding the vendors together is their customers’ demand that they continue to play well together.
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Social Technologies Will Drive Businesses To Focus On The Complete Customer Experience

Consumers across Asia Pacific are using multiple touchpoints to obtain and share information and purchase products and services. Organizations — both public and private — are struggling to support and enhance these new customer experiences across rapidly evolving channels like application marketplaces and mobile devices that are increasingly contributing to revenue growth.

  • Customer relationships will continue to change faster than CRM tools. Organizations are unable to cater to non-traditional touchpoints using their legacy systems. They are beginning to understand how these new touchpoints are impacting engagement at every phase of the customer lifecycle and across multiple channels and touchpoints. Organizations that truly value customers will invest in social tools (and platforms) in 2012 to better manage relationships.
  • Organizations will increasingly be forced to evolve from "transactional" customer interaction methods to customer "engagement." Organizations across multiple industries like FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), retail, professional services, and media & entertainment in Asia Pacific are already thinking about the customer lifecycle beyond legacy CRM tools — which were typically designed to support organizational processes, not customer ones. Over 2012, we expect organizations across Asia Pacific to expand their use of social technologies, mobility solutions, and analytics to improve engagement.
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How Telcos Will Play A Larger Role In Cloud Computing

Corporate CIOs should not ignore the network-centric nature of cloud-based solutions when developing their cloud strategies and choosing their cloud providers. And end users should understand what role(s) telcos are likely to play in the evolution of the wider cloud marketplace.

Like many IT suppliers, telcos view cloud computing as a big opportunity to grow their business. Cloud computing will dramatically affect telcos — but not by generating significant additional revenues. Instead, cloud computing will alter the role of telcos in the value chain irreversibly, putting their control over usage metering and billing at risk. Alarm bells should ring for telcos as Google, Amazon, et al. put their own billing and payment relationships with customers in place.

Telcos must defend their revenue collection role at all costs; failure to do so will accelerate their decline to invisible utility status. At the same time, cloud computing offers telcos a chance to become more than bitpipe providers. Cloud solutions will increasingly be delivered by ecosystems of providers that include telcos, software, hardware, network equipment vendors, and OTT providers.

Telcos have a chance to leverage their network and financial assets to grow into the role of ecosystem manager. To start on this path, telcos will provide cloud-based solutions that are adjacent to communication services they already provide (like home area networking and machine-to-machine solutions), such as connected healthcare and smart grid solutions. Expanding from this beachhead into a broader role in cloud solutions markets is a tricky path that only some telcos will successfully navigate.

We are analyzing the potential role of telcos in cloud computing markets in the research report Telcos as Cloud Rainmakers.

Cloud's Impact On IT Operations: Don't Overlook Your Legacy

Cloud computing has provided opportunities for organizations of all kinds to reduce the risks associated with IT acquisition (software and hardware), expand in sync with business needs, and contain costs. Some have even evolved their internal IT department from a reactive cost center to a more proactive service delivery center. Over the past two or three years, the very same cloud computing model that has helped CIOs deliver these benefits has also resulted in many IT organizations becoming more focused on auditing, inspecting, reviewing, and modernizing their internal IT capabilities. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, there has been little to no forethought about how internal IT can be extended to embrace public clouds. In effect, IT organizations have so far turned a blind eye to external cloud solutions and focused instead on delivering internal (or private) cloud functionality.

Increasingly, organizations will try to replicate the value of cloud by modernizing, restructuring, and reimplementing their existing IT architectures using cloud concepts such as self-provisioning, elasticity, multitenancy, service-oriented architecture (SOA), and virtualization. Their well-meaning intent is to convert their existing siloed, massive, and underutilized IT systems to a better and efficiently connected cloud (private) environment.

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