IDG Contributor Network: Challenges in realizing the promises of the holistic edge

Cloud providers such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft are already rolling out distributed cloud infrastructure. Whilst the central cloud is established as an integral part of current and future networks, there are key issues that make the central cloud simply not the solution to several use cases.

  • Latency, also known as the Laws of Physics: The longer the distance is between two communicating entities, the longer the time it takes to move content there. Whilst the delay of reaching out to the cloud today might be tolerable for some applications, it will not be the case for emerging applications that will require nearly instantaneous responses (e.g. in industrial IoT control, robots, machines, autonomous cars, drones, etc.).
  • Data volume: The capacity of communication networks will simply not scale with the insane amount of raw data that is anticipated will need ferrying to and from a remote cloud center.
  • Running costs: The cost of a truly massive computational and storage load in the cloud will simply not be economically sustainable over the longer term.
  • Regulatory: There are and will very likely be new constraints (privacy, security, sovereignty, etc.) which will impose restrictions on what data may or may not be transferred and processed in the cloud.

So it certainly does make sense to distribute the cloud and interconnect this distributed infrastructure together with the central cloud. This process has already begun. One good tangible example is Amazon’s launch of the AWS GreenGrass (AWS for the Edge) product and their declared intentions to use their Whole Foods Stores (in addition to the small matter of selling groceries) as locations for future edge clouds/data centers. In general, cloud providers, perhaps driven by their real estate choices, have a relatively conservative view of the edge, restricting it to a point of presence typically 10 to 50 km from the consumer.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Challenges in realizing the promises of the holistic edge

Cloud providers such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft are already rolling out distributed cloud infrastructure. Whilst the central cloud is established as an integral part of current and future networks, there are key issues that make the central cloud simply not the solution to several use cases.

  • Latency, also known as the Laws of Physics: The longer the distance is between two communicating entities, the longer the time it takes to move content there. Whilst the delay of reaching out to the cloud today might be tolerable for some applications, it will not be the case for emerging applications that will require nearly instantaneous responses (e.g. in industrial IoT control, robots, machines, autonomous cars, drones, etc.).
  • Data volume: The capacity of communication networks will simply not scale with the insane amount of raw data that is anticipated will need ferrying to and from a remote cloud center.
  • Running costs: The cost of a truly massive computational and storage load in the cloud will simply not be economically sustainable over the longer term.
  • Regulatory: There are and will very likely be new constraints (privacy, security, sovereignty, etc.) which will impose restrictions on what data may or may not be transferred and processed in the cloud.

So it certainly does make sense to distribute the cloud and interconnect this distributed infrastructure together with the central cloud. This process has already begun. One good tangible example is Amazon’s launch of the AWS GreenGrass (AWS for the Edge) product and their declared intentions to use their Whole Foods Stores (in addition to the small matter of selling groceries) as locations for future edge clouds/data centers. In general, cloud providers, perhaps driven by their real estate choices, have a relatively conservative view of the edge, restricting it to a point of presence typically 10 to 50 km from the consumer.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Lending as a service (LaaS) and why it matters

The financial crisis of 2008 caused global shockwaves, wrecking businesses and wiping away thousands of dollars’ worth of individuals’ savings. World markets are still recovering to this day, and governments have enacted strong reforms to prevent a repeat occurrence. These new, stricter regulations have deeply changed the financial world. Along with shifts in consumer preferences, banks and lenders are now faced with a vastly different financing landscape.

Traditional financial services providers have tightened their lending requirements, leading to tougher barriers for regular customers to find funding. Whereas customers with weaker credit had few problems finding loans in the past, banks are now turning them away in droves. For many small business owners, this harder path to access financing through loans means that they are left with few channels to uncover the capital they need. However, developments in financial technology and online lending offer small businesses a new alternative in the form of lending as a service, or LaaS.

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Artificial intelligence and digital communication are disrupting the contact center space

The customer service (contact center) space is accelerating faster than the market has ever seen up to this point. Artificial intelligence and digital communication is changing everything.

Let’s start with some context. Right now we’re in the middle of a major market disruption by cloud-based contact center software platforms. They’re turning the conservative call center space into cutting-edge contact centers by helping them give up the expense and complexity of their hosted gear for easy-to-use, budget-friendly software as a service products in the cloud. They’re doing a great job of convincing and it’s coming at the expense of the traditional on-premise sellers at nearly 24% year over year growth (projected average over the next five years). That’s a ton of market share to lose in a very short amount of time.

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: The history of cloud: a fairy tale

Once upon a time, in a magic, faraway land called “The 1990s,” every application had its own set of physical servers. Citizens of this land, who sometimes called themselves “developers,” feared getting fired for not having enough capacity to handle peak loads. New physical servers took months to be delivered, so developers ordered more data center hardware than they probably needed. Because it was so difficult to get new machines, developers treated them like pets, gave them names and took great care to keep them up and running at all times. Everybody was so excited about the “Internet Bubble” and the land grab that was going on that no one seemed to care about underutilized hardware. 

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Network World Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: 8 steps to IT control in a self-service cloud world

The natural cycle in IT is to move from decentralized to centralized services. When networking first appeared, it was implemented at a department level for printer sharing. It was decentralized—resulting in a hodgepodge of networks and protocols. Eventually IT organizations determined that it was much more efficient to centralize this effort and we saw the adoption of large-scale, TCP/IP networks. Today nearly every IT organization has a centralized networking team that manages and deploys IP-based infrastructure.

When SaaS applications such as Salesforce first appeared, they were adopted by sales organizations. As adoption levels grew, enterprises needed centralized data integration, identity and access management, and other functions that are inefficient to deliver at departmental scale. Today Salesforce is typically managed by a centralized IT organization.

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Network World Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: When to use a public or private cloud infrastructure

With the vast quantities of data generated daily and the complexities of the required processing escalating, the cloud is emerging as a forerunner in the computing domain. Reducing operational costs and improving analytical power, there is little doubt that cloud computing is the way to go to optimize organizational business intelligence.

The question, though, arises with regard to which platform to select. There are three platforms to keep in mind – private, public and hybrid clouds – and each is designed for specific targets depending on the type of data being used, and the level of security and management required. Depending on particular business needs and intricacy, different platforms are suited and different questions should be asked.

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Network World Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: How immersive technologies will reshape networks

In the late 1990s and early 2000s when it became too difficult for large companies to manage their own WAN footprints, they adopted managed multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) services. These offered a simple connection at every location and offloaded the complexities of building large-scale routed networks from enterprises to the service provider.

The advent of cloud computing, however, changed the dynamics of MPLS forever. Enterprises not only needed ubiquitous site-to-site connectivity, but also required better performance from the network to support Software as a Service-based business applications hosted in third-party data centers. In addition, video was becoming a standard mode of communication for corporate meeting and training applications, boosting the need for more bandwidth across the network.

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Network World Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: The incredible, shrinking shelf life of healthcare technology strategy

As CIOs and industry executives grapple with the rate of change of technology, CEOs – especially in healthcare – grapple with an increasing number of unknowns in the environment that could disrupt their businesses. A survey by consulting firm Deloitte in May 2017 makes a telling statement: While CEO-level themes have remained largely the same since 2015, the urgency levels have ratcheted up. The study indicates that while CEO’s are concerned with protecting margins and managing the transition to population health and value-based care in an uncertain policy environment, they are also very concerned with technology and cybersecurity risks. The increasing consumerization of healthcare has become a CEO-level issue in a sector that barely cared about the healthcare consumer till recently.

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Simpler applications and smarter databases, Part 2

In my last blog post, I talked about the emergence of NoSQL as an antidote to the deficiencies of traditional SQL RDBMS products, and I concluded with the question about where the data management industry is going given the current environment, and whether we’re really addressing the needs of senior technology leadership.

Let’s start with going a bit further into the trade-offs represented by NoSQL.

KISS and the cloud

The NoSQL movement is not merely a slam against the traditional RDBMS. NoSQL seeks to offer solutions, solutions that address the list of needs I outlined in my last post.

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Driving operational excellence with your cloud vendors

Once, there was a pin factory. It employed ten workers – each of whom performed a different task. This organizational structure allowed them to generate 48,000 pins every day. If the people working at the plant were working independently, the output of each would have been limited to 20 pins at most – totaling 200 pins. This story describing division of labor was used in Adam Smith’s 1776 book The Wealth of Nations, as an example of operational excellence (OE).

If your company is to survive in a competitive market, OE must be sought, explained Faisal Hoque in Fast Company. In other words, the enterprise must “identify, understand and create the capabilities, behaviors and focuses necessary for repeatable, continuous and measurable operational improvement,” said Hoque.

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Network World Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: SIP trunks are more reliable than a PRI T1

Are SIP trunks as reliable as an ISDN PRI T1?

I’m asked this question a lot, so I thought it’d be a great blog topic.

I don’t think you are as concerned with this as the amber lights in the server room… But if you are making any changes to your company’s phone system, I’m assuming this question is on your mind.

The simple answer is… no. SIP trunks are not as reliable. They are more reliable than a Primary Rate Interface (PRI). But it has nothing to do with the public Internet.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: The promise and payoff of NoSQL, Part 1

The current database landscape can be confusing, even for experienced technology professionals.  There was a time when a one-size-fits-all database system was an adequate answer to any database question, but that’s no longer true.  Decisions about database systems now involve a dizzying array of application requirements, products, features, buying-criteria, and vendor claims.   

This confusing environment has left application architects and strategists with a mess of confusion as they consider database technology going forward. Meanwhile, the recent explosion in database choices has fragmented the market and made it more challenging to weed through the different options. The question for many is: Is this a permanent state of affairs or a transition phase? What can we expect next, and how can application architects plan for it?

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: When to use a public or private cloud infrastructure

With the vast quantities of data generated daily and the complexities of the required processing escalating, the cloud is emerging as a forerunner in the computing domain. Reducing operational costs and improving analytical power, there is little doubt that cloud computing is the way to go to optimize organizational business intelligence.

The question, though, arises with regard to which platform to select. There are three platforms to keep in mind – private, public and hybrid clouds – and each is designed for specific targets depending on the type of data being used, and the level of security and management required. Depending on particular business needs and intricacy, different platforms are suited and different questions should be asked.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Cloud security: Trends and strategy

Cloud computing can generate mixed feelings. Corporate leaders generally welcome technologies that produce efficiency, agility and speed. Cloud services deliver those benefits, yet many are concerned about security, even while being often uninformed about how widely the cloud is used within their own businesses.

Executives of large companies, for instance, tell us that they are holding back on the cloud because of security concerns. But when our professional services teams engage with them, we generate log files and find evidence of large numbers of cloud services the company’s employees are using every day.

It is easy to understand the disconnect. Consider a simple example: a director of HR, tasked with filling several critical positions as quickly and confidentially as possible, turns to a low-cost SaaS recruiting tool. Job descriptions, resumes, cover letters, job offers and other documents are shared and possibly uploaded to a third-party server. Soon enough, candidates arrive for interviews. Mission accomplished, thanks to an efficient cloud-based business tool, with the C-suite never needing to know all the details.

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Must-have features for enterprise VoIP

If your company has 100+ users and is in the market for a hosted VoIP phone system, be careful.

Remember the scene in the movie Tommy Boy, “Fat Guy in a Little Coat”? You don’t want your company’s new phone system to feel like this.

You won’t hear it from the salespeople [collective gasp] but most hosted VoIP solutions are designed for micro-size companies. If you want an “enterprise” system, you will have to dig a little to find a provider catering to larger companies.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Headache for the CIO: Shadow IT is soaring as LoBs seek greater autonomy

Cloud computing has become the de facto standard for organizations around the globe. In a recent study, McAfee concluded that 93 percent of organizations utilize cloud services in some shape or form. More than 80 percent even embrace a “cloud-first” strategy, in which applications are prioritized that can be procured as a service or deployed in the cloud over those deployed on-premises. Those prioritizing off-premises believe that their IT budgets will be 80 percent cloud services in less than 12 months, while those without such a stringent strategy think it will be closer to 20 months.

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Has big data reached a tipping point in the cloud?

There is no doubt that big data analytics is fast becoming integral to business intelligence. Besides many initial failed projects, primarily due to the massive infrastructure needed to store, process and analyze big data in-house, there is an increasing number of success stories. This gives pause to completely discount the paradigm.

Moving big data analytics to the cloud seems to accompany these successes. It is impossible to ignore the competitive edge gained by organizations leveraging big data analysis. From real-time data analytics facilitating industrial processes to financial trading algorithms, big data is a definitive part of the corporate future.

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Machine intelligence: Build your own vs. as-a-service

Fans of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” may recall the plotline earlier this season in which Erlich Bachman secures $ 200,000 in VC funding for See Food, a camera app that recognizes various kinds of food and instantly surfaces useful information, such as nutritional data.

Bachman is 5% technologist and 95% charlatan, give or take, so naturally there’s a hitch: See Food doesn’t exist. The funding is the result of a misunderstanding that Bachman quickly compounded into a lie. Antics ensue as Bachman, determined to keep the money, attempts to transmute his vaporware into a working prototype.

Here’s what struck me: Many of these antics, such as Bachman’s attempt to con a class of Stanford undergrads into training a machine learning model, are predictably hilarious—but from a technical standpoint, virtually none of them is implausible.  

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Fix poor VoIP call quality with a dedicated circuit

This is a bummer but I’m going to say it.

Getting a huge fiber Internet connection may not do anything to help your company’s VoIP call quality.

Assuming everything is squared away on your LAN, the most common causes of poor call quality are latency, packet loss and jitter; None of which can be controlled over the public Internet, no matter how much bandwidth you throw at it.

“But what if we have a 1G dedicated Internet connection?” Sorry, it’s not immune.

“But what if it’s fiber from a Tier 1 provider?” Your call quality is still high-risk.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Suse fronts up — there’s a method to their (perceived) madness

I was happy when Hewlett-Packard (as it was known then) acquired the Stackato PaaS from ActiveState, a Canadian developer tool company. Of course there was some self-interest there, I was an adviser to ActiveState and was actually involved in one of the companies that ended up becoming part of the Stackato product.

But beyond self-interest, I thought it was a deal that made sense. As I see it, HP’s business selling physical servers is rapidly dwindling and the company needs to move up the stack and add more value to its customers.

The not-insignificant investment that HP made in OpenStack was part of this — millions and millions of dollars poured into creating HP’s Helion OpenStack platform, again as an attempt to do more than just sell people pieces of tin with flashing lights on them.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: How to plan your successful cloud migration

Recent Accenture Strategy research found that four out of five companies run up to half of their business functions in the cloud. Moreover, that figure is likely to increase significantly over the next few years. The research reveals that a clear majority of business leaders see the cloud platform as a critical enabler of greater innovation and competitive edge.

Yet, companies still struggle when it comes to structuring the cloud transformation, beginning with the fundamental first step — planning a successful migration. What’s lacking is a solid comprehension of what value the cloud brings, its potential and its elasticity.

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Network World Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: What companies need to know about interconnection to succeed at digital business

What is interconnection, and why does it matter?

Interconnection is the deployment of IT traffic exchange points that integrate direct, private connections between counterparties. Interconnection is best achieved hosted in carrier-neutral data center campuses, where distributed IT components are collocated. In an age when reams of information race around the world with the click of a finger and massive transactions routinely occur several times faster than the blink of an eye, interconnection powers digital business.

Interconnection is much more than successfully connecting Point A to Point B. Telephone wires pulled off that kind of simple connectivity ages ago. Today’s enterprise-grade interconnection has some key characteristics that can help take digital business to the next level:

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Network World Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Xero breaks through its glass ceiling: customers, revenue and cashflow

It’s fair to say that no one has been covering Xero longer than I have. I first talked to its co-founder and CEO, Rod Drury, long before the company launched a product. Trawling back through my emails and I discovered that we first talked about his vision 10 years ago to the day. (Rod, we really should have a celebratory beer!) I can’t imagine he’ll be celebrating the milestone, but it does go to show just how long Drury has been on this journey.

When it was founded, Xero took a very unusual path, listing on the New Zealand Stock Exchange before it even had a real product and customers. Backed by some high-profile names, and with Drury’s masterful marketing execution, Xero got its IPO away in the nick of time, just before the GFC really took its hold.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Azure Stack and the role of context

There were dozens of announcements at Microsoft’s Build conference last week, but perhaps one caused the most angst among the cloud cognoscenti.

I’m referring to the upcoming general availability of Azure Stack. Microsoft’s offering will let organizations leverage the Azure cloud operating system, but only within the context of an on-premises deployment.

Azure Stack has something of a checkered past — it has been announced, in one guise or another, more than once. I remember years ago the notion of a private cloud deployment that would involve Microsoft software and partner hardware. That never really eventuated, and things went quiet.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Data at the edge: the promise and challenge

What happens when cloud computing goes away? A bold—and perhaps surprising—question. But one that Peter Levine, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, didn’t shy away from asking during a presentation at the VC firm’s a16z Summit in 2016.

Just as the distributed client server model that took off in the 1980s replaced the centralized mainframes of the 1960s and 1970s, distributed edge intelligence will replace today’s centralized cloud computing, Levine predicts. And he believes this change is already underway but will really take off beginning in 2020.

“Everything that’s ever popular in technology always gets replaced by something else,” Levine said. “It always goes away. That’s either the opportunity or the beauty of the business.”

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InfoWorld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Future-proof your business with cloud ERP

Today you face a choice. Be a disruptor or be disrupted. Beat or be beaten by the opposition. And while you’re weighing the options, every new digital development is making your margin for error smaller.

What you could have dealt with 10 years ago, before the availability of real-time data and digital channels, is now enough to be fatal. Company size, market share and market cap aren’t the only metrics that matter to a company. Digital value and innovation are increasingly important and with good reason. It’s about being able to create digital value and innovate – and that’s no longer just a nice-to-have.

If you’re like me, and billions of others, you expect customization and personalization. You’re unique. Your needs are unique. Why should your car or your Nikes be just like all the others?

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Doesn’t the cloud solve all of my performance issues?

I have heard it said many times that the cloud can solve all of our performance issues. There are two reasons why this claim is not necessarily true:

  1. A misunderstanding of the difference between performance and scalability.
  2. Performance remains application-dependent.

Performance versus scalability

The terms performance and scalability are sometimes used interchangeably, but in actuality they have very distinct differences. The important distinction between the terms is that performance is a measure of a data point, such as the response time of a request, the amount of CPU or memory that a request needs, etc. Scalability, on the other hand, measures your application’s ability to maintain its performance as load increases. In other words, if you can service a single request in 500ms, can you service 1000 requests at 500ms each or does the response time degrade as your load increases?

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Network World Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: The future is not the cloud or the fog: it is actually the SEA!

A casual reflection on the last few years in the evolution of the wireless network provides us all the insights necessary to reason that there is at least one final frontier coming down the road. Who can deny that the last few years have been owned by the cloud, virtualization and softwarization (if that is even a word!). Edge Computing too, which is really nothing more than the pushing of all of these concepts deep into places in the network where they have never been before. Fog computing is another term (created by Cisco) for something similar but driven in its genesis more bottom up from the many Internet of Things use cases. The bigger trend is obvious; network intelligence is distributing but where will it, can it go, beyond this?

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Network World Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Cloud API integration platforms make the digital economy work

In the digital economy, integration and collaboration involving platforms and applications is essential for success. Whether with a startup or a mature enterprise, one of the most important strategic initiatives a business puts forth is the design and implementation of a clean and efficient SaaS-based application programming interface (API) integration system.

“APIs are important because no man is an island,” says Matthew Woodget, CEO of Go Narrative, a Seattle-based marketing consultancy specializing in storytelling for business. “We are interconnected and our technology needs to be too.”

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CIO Cloud Computing