The Future of Cloud Computing

The Future of Cloud Computing

As new offerings like Amazon’s CloudFront, Microsoft’s Azure, Hosting.com’s CloudNine and VMware’s vCloud are rolled out week in, week out, the worldwide cloud computing momentum continues to grow.

Here, SYS-CON’s Cloud Computing Journal surveys a globe-girdling network of leading infrastructure experts, IT industry executives and technology commentators for their views on The Shape of Cloud Computing To Come.

Contributors include Salesforce.com’s Peter Coffee, Geve Perry of GigaSpaces, Ben Rushlo from Keynote Systems, Cloud Computing Journal editor-in-chief Alan Williamson, Enomaly founder Reuven Cohen, open source entrepreneur Krishnan Subramanian and Markus Klems of the FZI Research Center for Information Technology in Germany.

Peter Coffee was Technology Editor for industry journals PC Week and eWEEK from 1989 through 2007, after spending the prior decade in project management at Exxon and in PC planning and AI applications research at The Aerospace Corporation. He is the author of “How to Program Java” and “Peter Coffee Teaches PCs”; he served as a member of the X3J13 standards committee for ANSI Common Lisp.

1. Developer communities and system integrators will defect, in growing numbers, from established enterprise software vendors that have failed to deliver real innovation and value during the past several years.

2. Lower costs of market entry / application deployment, faster payback on development costs, and superior return on investment will make cloud-based platforms the target of choice for both entrepreneurial and enterprise developers.

3. Improved understanding of process and governance risk will shift the preferences of IT owners and regulators away from the cost and inconsistency of on-premise IT, and toward the auditable and highly professional security practices of cloud-service providers.

4. Mainstream consumers will become more aggressive in lowering their cost of both personal and business computing, and will become far more accepting of lightweight client machines running free and open-source operating systems and applications — including application-oriented Internet clients like Google’s Chrome.

5. The generation raised on broadband connections, Google search and Facebook community membership will not fear to rely on Web-delivered applications and resources for both work and leisure.

6. Companies will redefine the “C” in “CRM” to mean “Community” rather than “Customer”: they will build systems that engage their partners and customers in cooperative processes of product and service improvement, rather than building only inward-looking systems for in-house analysis of the world outside the company’s wall.

7. Developers outside the U.S. and Europe — specifically those in India, China and Brazil — will find their most rapidly growing opportunities in their own home markets, and will shift their focus toward building high-value applications for compatriot companies rather than providing low-cost labor to mature markets overseas.

8. Software market cycles will rapidly accelerate to Web speed, with multiple releases per year, rather than the glacial pace of multi-year upgrade cycles that currently results in most IT sites running legacy versions of cumbersome bloatware.

9. Global growth in development demand will increase the importance of high-leverage application frameworks that enable more rapid development of higher-quality products.

10. Too many development teams will minimize short-term pain, rather than maximizing gain, and will find themselves made irrelevant by teams that kept pace with new opportunities.
GEVA PERRY
GM of Cloud Computing, GigaSpaces

Geva Perry is General Manager of Cloud Computing at GigaSpaces, responsible for all marketing and business development activities at GigaSpaces, including strategy and positioning, product marketing, analyst/media relations and strategic alliances. Prior to joining GigaSpaces, he was COO at SeeRun, a developer of real-time business activity monitoring software. He has an MBA from Columbia Business School.

1. Trend of Large Vendors Entering Cloud Computing Will Accelerate

Amazon, Google, CA, Microsoft and IBM have all announced various initiatives in cloud computing. In 2009 this trend will accelerate with more coming from these vendors as well as VMWare, Citrix, Sun, HP, Cisco, Intuit, Symantec, Yahoo (if they remain independent) and others.

2. All Major IDEs Will Offer Cloud Deployment Options

Similar offerings to that of pioneering Aptana Cloud, as well as the announced but not yet available Visual Studio cloud offering, will be made by all major IDEs, with plug-ins for multiple cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services, GoGrid, Joyent, AppNexus, Flexiscale, Google App Engine and others.

3. Platform-as-a-Service Will Take Its First Steps into the Mainstream

In 2009, developers will start seeing web-based development and deployment platforms as a viable option for application development. Platforms such as Heroku, aimed at Ruby-on-Rails, will be in a particularly strong position to take advantage of this trend, but others as well. PaaS offering such as Force.com, Morph Labs, Bungee Connect the GigaSpaces Cloud Framework and others will mature and see initial adoption in the enterprise. Read more in the Thoughts on PaaS post.

4. A Next-Generation of “Middleware for the Cloud” Will Rise in Dominance Over Traditional J2EE Application Servers

Both start-ups and enterprises will come to realize in 2009 that the middleware products they have been using in dedicated physical server environments just don’t cut in the clouds. The promise of the cloud’s utility model (pay-per-use) cannot be taken advantage of without application platform that enable the application to both grow and shrink based on Service-Level Agreements (SLAs). Therefore, a new generation of application servers, such as GigaSpaces XAP and Appistry, will grow in popularity among the mainstream of cloud users.

5. System Administration & Configuration and Network Management Will Become a Sexy Field Bursting with Innovation

After years of stagnation, system administration, configuration and network management will thrive with innovation. New standards will emerge and people will come up with new forms of innovation in the field. Open source projects such as Puppet will experience incredible momentum. In a sense, for cloud computing to succeed, system administration needs to be eliminated. Or more accurately, automated and simplified, which creates tremendous potential.
MARKUS KLEMS
Research Assistant, FZI Research Center for Information Technology

Markus Klems is a research assistant at Germany-based FZI Research Center for Information Technology. His main areas of interests are cloud computing, grids, distributed programming and agile Web development – the technological point of view as well as business models.

1. More SaaS

Cloud Computing will certainly fuel the SaaS business. More and more Desktop applications will turn into Services or at least hybrid online/offline apps that live in the Cloud. Developers can rely on Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service, and concentrate on building more sophisticated and powerful network-centric applications.

2. Middleware in the Cloud

Scalable, on-demand middleware is an appealing vision for large enterprises: avoid bottlenecks by outsourcing parts of the middleware infrastructure into a SOA-Cloud.

Microsoft Azure is coming and Amazon provides Windows-enabled images; a playgroud for hordes of .NET developers. The departments of many mid-sized and even large enterprises run on MS Word and Excel. They can profit from a scalable Windows-Cloud, e.g. at the end of a fiscal year, when large amounts of accounting data need to be processed quickly.

3. Content Distribution and Media Hosting

Amazon’s new Web Service CloudFront points at the promising future for DIY Content Distribution and Media Hosting. We are probably going to see a lot of great Multimedia applications from innovative small cap companies in the near future.

ALAN WILLIAMSON
Editor-in-Chief, Cloud Computing Journal

Alan Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Cloud Computing Journal and is SYS-CON’s “Cloud Computing Bootcamp” Instructor. A Sun Java Champion he is the creator of OpenBlueDragon (an open source Java CFML runtime engine).  With many books, articles and speaking engagements under his belt, Williamson likes to talk passionately about what can be done TODAY and not get caught up in the marketing hype of TOMORROW.

1. In terms of cloud infrastructure, 2009 will be the year when hosting your application in the likes Amazon EC2, AppNexnus, Flexiscale, GoGrid etc, will move out of the “early adopter” phase and into the main stream.  Architects will demand more accountability and stability.

2. Traditional hosting companies will feel the pinch, as the cloud providers will drive their prices further down to counter act the harsh reality that cloud-hosting at the moment, for 24hr operations, works out more expensive.

3. 2009 will not bring any unified standard or interfaces, but the community will have woken up for the need for this and efforts will really begin to shine through.


SERGUEI BELOUSSOV
CEO, Parallels

Serguei Beloussov is Chairman and CEO at Parallels, a global leader in virtualization and automation software for consumers, businesses and service providers. He’s a successful self-made entrepreneur and business executive with an outstanding 15-year track record in building, growing and leading high-performing, multi-national high tech companies in North America, Europe and Asia.

1. The vendor landscape will dramatically change as we see a significant increase in the opportunities available to providers of cloud-based services. This will impact all types of service providers: web and managed hosters; telcos and ISPs; independent software vendors offering their software as a service; online services companies; traditional systems integrators; value-added resellers that are becoming managed service providers, and cost-plus service providers. A full range of offerings must be available. These will largely run on Linux as it is much more prevalent in this space.

2. For the cloud model to be profitable, efficiency is key, so service providers need to automate as much of the full lifecycle as possible. Customers should be able to place orders and get fulfilment and basic support without human intervention, and all billing and usage accounting needs to be completed automatically. Delegating authority to the customer also plays a significant role in making this model work – the customer should be able to perform simple administrator tasks such as resetting passwords and ordering more disk space without needing costly support calls or input from service provider staff.

REUVEN COHEN
Founder & Chief Technologist, Enomaly

Reuven Cohen is is a thought leader in the emerging cloud computing industry. He’s Founder & Chief Technologist for Toronto based Enomaly Inc. – leading developer of Cloud Computing products and solutions focused on enterprise businesses. Enomaly’s products include the Enomalism elastic computing platform, an open source cloud platform that enables a scalable enterprise IT and local cloud infrastructure platform and its customers including Intel, Best Buy, France Telecom/Orange as well as many smaller organizations.

1. Cloud computing in 2009 will be all about the user experience. AKA Quality of a user experience as the basis for scaling & managing your infrastructure. The problem is this, a cloud vendor/provider may be living up to the terms of a contract’s language, thus rating high in QoS (Quality of service), but, the actual users may be very unhappy because of a poor user experience, thus causing a low QoE.

2. In 2009 for the first time the cloud will enable us to not only scale based on superfical aspects such as load, but based on practical ones like: how fast does my application load for users in the UK?

BEN RUSHLO
Director Web Performance Consulting, Keynote Systems

Ben Rushlo is one of the world’s leading Internet performance experts. He advises Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies in the Retail, Automotive, and Financial Services industries, helping to transform their global sites into high- performing, highly available Web assets that provide excellent customer experiences every time. Before joining Keynote, he was a Senior Performance and Capacity Planning Engineer at American Express, where he served as a core member of the team that launched American Express on the Web.

1. The concept of a site as we know it will change

As cloud computing gains wider adoption, the concept of a site as we know it is changing significantly. With content, technology and infrastructure coming from multiple vendors in the “cloud”, analyzing where the problem occurred and hence managing the end user experience will become extremely complex. Companies who attempt to apply a data centric view of the world (internal monitoring, system instrumentation) in this environment will not be successful.

2. Companies that do not change will struggle in 2009

Cloud computing requires a radically new way of thinking about technical quality. Each piece, each part must work together in harmony to satisfy the user. The user doesn’t care where the content is being served, or what web service is involved, they care about it working well and working quickly. To meet their expectation a new system of user centric performance management will need to be in place. Data centric performance management is dying and will soon be dead. Companies that do not change will struggle in 2009.

KRISHNAN SUBRAMANIAN
Open Source Entrepreneur, Blogger

Seattle-based open source entrepreneur Krishnan Subramanian is an ex-physicist turned blogger with a deep philosophical connection to open source, open standards, open communications, etc. “Being an ex-physicist helps me use scientific approach towards life,” Krish notes.

1. Enterprises will open up more towards Cloud Computing. This will be due to two reasons. One is the proliferation of the so called private clouds, cloud like architectures inside the firewall. The most important reason will be the confidence gained by the enterprises on the security of the clouds. The support services offered by companies like IBM will help enterprises trust cloud computing more than ever. Also, the release and evolution of products like VPN-Cubed from CohesiveFT and others will help enterprises get better control over their data, making them more and more comfortable with Cloud Computing.

2. On the SaaS side, we will see apps will mature adding more reliability for such services. We will see a stronger support towards Health 2.0 with Microsoft and Google leading the way. Any attempt by Obama administration to revamp healthcare will include a Health 2.0 strategy. Data Portability is going to be the most vocal demand from the consumers as they realize the risks associated with the data being locked into third party servers.

3. PaaS will see a surge with Google offering support to more scripting languages. We will also see an increasing push for .NET platform on the clouds by Microsoft. Developers are going to benefit the most from such a surge and it will also have a stronger impact on the SaaS side.

OTT Content Aggregation

For generations of viewers, television was essentially  a passive, watch-what-was-scheduled activity centered  on a single living room screen. But times—and consumers—have changed. Today’s  ubiquitous Internet access on PCs, tablets, mobile  devices, and increasingly, to in-home televisions, has  created far more sophisticated and proactive viewers  and is fueling the dramatic growth in video services  delivered on-demand to many types of screens.
As a result, companies across a variety of industries  are looking to Over-The-Top (OTT) capabilities, which  provide technology to deliver the video content over  Internet broadband connections to televisions, PCs,  or mobile devices. These capabilities hold significant  implications for both consumers and industry players.
OTT is a supremely disruptive technology that creates  both threats and opportunities: changing how  consumers access video entertainment, reshaping  how content and communications companies deliver it, and encouraging new players to bypass traditional
channels and gatekeepers to open direct relationships  with viewers and subscribers.

Cloud TV is currently the most advanced (Over the top) OTT content aggregation platform, providing television contents to multi-screen equipments. Users can watch streaming media channels in a variety of terminals, like mobile phone, smart TV, PAD and high-definition player, etc., anywhere at any time.

Users can find free and paid channels in all kinds of languages on Cloud TV. Meanwhile, they can also DIY television channels,upload and manage their own channels, using platform and technology of Cloud TVto set up their own OTT applications.

Anyone or any unit can apply for multi-screen TVbusiness on Cloud TV platform, apply for customized app, sell and distributetheir own contents or the contents in Cloud TV market.

Cloud TV aggregates thousands of channels,including dozens of languages, among which are hundreds of pay-TV channels likeChinese Mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan package, India package, the package inEnglish and the Arab package. Besides, other channels are also included likeTVB HD Jade, HD Asia, five mainstreamHD satellite televisions in Taiwan, Phoenix TV, STAR Movies, TVB, FOX HD, HBOHD, discover and National Geographic Channel.

Content Aggregators Media Portal – NetScreens
Unlike early implementations of content aggregation OTT services, NetScreens’s solution offers a flexible multi-store digital mall. The solution provides an independent look & feel, business rules and marketing front-end to each content source, while allowing aggregators to manage infrastructure and overall operation via a sophisticated yet easy to use administration console.
Target Market: Service venture based on content aggregation, targeting a range of audiences via the Open Internet.
Solution: NetScreens Multi-Screen OTT Platform installed as a venture-controlled multi-tenant Application-Server hosting multiple content providers. All managed custom sections served as a unified infrastructure that preserved their identity.
Example: Broadband Provider’s revenue-sharing based partnership with leading content providers
Application Server: Cloud-based multi-tenant application platform, customized to the look & feel of each provider. The platform is managed independently but delivered as a single service initiative.
Video Streaming: Innovative 3rd-party streaming solution that drives streaming costs down, enabling aggressive monetization models such as Freemium and advertising-based revenue generation.

Cloud Printing

Cloud printing is the technology that enables printers to be accessed over a network through cloud computing.  There are, in essence, two kinds of cloud printing. On the one hand, consumer-based cloud printing connects any application to cloud-enabled home printers that people own or have access to. Using this technology, people can take digital media as their primary communications tool and create a printed page only when they need the content in a physical form.

On the other hand, professional cloud printing enables publishers, companies and content owners to print their digital publications by leveraging networks of production facilities through cloud computing technology. In short, professional cloud printing allows for the “ad-hoc transformation of digital information into physical forms in 2D or 3D.”

Benefits

For consumers, cloud ready printers eliminate the need for PC connections and print drivers, enabling them to print from mobile devices. As for publishers and content owners, cloud printing allows them to “avoid the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware, software and processes” [3] required for the production of professional print products.

Leveraging cloud print for print on demand also allows businesses to cut down on the costs associated with mass production. Moreover, cloud printing can be considered more eco-friendly, as it significantly reduces the amount of paper used and lowers carbon emissions from transportation.

Providers

Only a handful of providers are currently working towards a professional cloud print solution. Most of these operate in their own niche or focus on mobile devices. Some examples include Peecho, which provides on demand printing of digital data from within mobile applications and websites through a network of global printing facilities, HubCast, a service that allows business owners to order corporate print materials through their cloud and Hewlett-Packard‘s MagCloud, which allows digital documents to be published as print magazines.

Significantly large steps have also been taken in the consumer market with Google Cloud Print. Xerox and Ricoh followed in Google’s footsteps with their mobile cloud solutions, while Hewlett-Packard implemented a similar mechanism with their ePrint solution.

Industry experts believe that as these services become more popular, users will no longer consider printers as necessary assets but rather as devices that they can access on demand when the need to generate a printed page presents itself.

Digital publishing is growing rapidly and our affinity for consuming real-time media shows no signs of stopping. Despite this, as GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram recently reported much of the content we put online is actually getting lost in a non-stop stream of information. The problem is, hard-copy print is still best for some jobs — or for some audiences.

 Peecho, a free service that lets people turn digital content into a physical product. Peecho’s service infrastructure draws on cloud printing, a technology that helps transform digital data into printed products by tapping into networks of production facilities through the cloud. Other companies in this arena include HubCastMagCloud, and Shapeways.

Here’s how the cloud print model can streamline the process. A big financial services company typically prints tens of thousands of annual reports it sends out to shareholders — most of whom promptly toss the reports in the garbage or recycling. What if that company instead asks its shareholders to specify print or digital versions of that report. Then the company uses a digital network  of providers to print copies just for those who will really read them, eliminating wasted materials, carbon emissions creating and shipping the hard copy product, not to mention postage. Since printing remains a volume business, the price per copy is higher now, but total cost to the company falls. And as more printers see the opportunity of cloud print, the economics may improve.

In the recently published Cloud Print Manifesto,  cloud printing has a unique potential to revolutionize publishing. It promotes full-blown digitization by allowing for the “occasional” transformation of digital data into 2D or 3D objects on demand. This would help preserve valuable digital data while foregoing the aforementioned environmental costs of mass production.

Let’s explore the potential of cloud print to revolutionize publishing.

Trading virtual content for atoms 

The use of paper as the primary means of communication is coming to an end. For example, a few weeks ago, the Guardian reported that Amazon’s Kindle eBook sales are outstripping print for the first time, in line with the declining hardcover revenues reported by the Association of American Publishers in June 2012. With digital content exploding, it is hard to envision a future for print. Yet some content — lost amidst an ever-increasing amount of blog posts, status updates, tweets and videos — may be more persistent than daily news and carry deeper personal meaning.

This is exactly the kind of content that begs for the level of engagement and permanence provided by a physical product. Turning personalized, high-quality digital content into professionally managed physical objects is a service that will be increasingly in demand. Or as John Bracken eloquently states: “As more and more of the content we consume is based on bits, the ability to engage with atom-based media will, for some, gain value.”

A few applications are already embracing this model, using print to monetize digital content. PostagramPrintstagram and Canvaspop are some of the simplest examples, built to monetize Instagram photos.

The enormous amount of data on the Internet leads to a staggering market potential for these companies, but the execution is not that simple. So far, transforming digital data into physical objects is by no means a commodity.

Print as a Service

For website owners, the print feature should just work — like water from the tap or electricity in the home. In reality, the cultural differences between the digital world and the realm of mechanical product manufacturing pose a significant challenge. As a result, huge sums are spent on negotiating and integrating with one or more printing facilities, international expansion, global delivery, monitoring orders and customer service.

Therefore, simple infrastructure is required to provide Print as a Service instead. By accessing professional print as a hosted commodity resource, users can avoid the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware, software and processes.

Why didn’t anybody successfully implement this idea before? Only recently has the print industry started to shift from mass pre-production to the production of unique items on demand. Secondly, connecting a website to a service is much easier these days, using simple technologies like REST, JSON and JavaScript. However, the most important change is the decreased cost of the infrastructure itself.

Enter cloud print

The web contains a lot of content, but almost none of it conforms to required production standards: sizes, quality and aspect ratios differ greatly and cut marks, color management, spines, bleed margins or ISO certificates are unheard of. To put it bluntly, it is a mess. Transforming such heterogeneous online data to standardized, print-ready components requires serious processing firepower.

To keep associated costs and energy usage relative to revenue, systems should be able to scale up and down with demand. In other words, to cope with the Christmas peak and the January low at realistic cost levels and with as little energy consumption as possible a system should be fully elastic.  Cloud computing can offer this.

So, a profitable business case for Print as a Service can only be made by using automatically scaling cloud print.. 

The provider void

So far, significant steps towards a cloud print solution have been taken in the consumer market. Xerox and Ricoh followed in the footsteps of Google CloudPrint  with their mobile cloud solutions, while Hewlett-Packard implemented a similar mechanism with ePrint.

However, professional cloud print is not yet a commodity. Only a few independent players  – Hubcast, MagCloud, Shapeways and my company —  have ventured into this area, providing professional, on demand manufacturing of 2D and 3D products from digital assets using a network of printing facilities.

Cloud print will revolutionize publishing

 The potential of cloud print to revolutionize print publishing should not be underestimated. Websites, applications and games could be powered by a single cloud print infrastructure that allows access to a network of professional print facilities, leveraging print as a shared commodity resource while avoiding costs and complexity.

By providing eco-friendly, on-demand manufacturing, cloud print providers could support the global transition away from mass paper production towards full-blown digitization, promoting sustainability in the industry.

However, there is no dominant cloud print infrastructure provider for professional products yet. What do you think this provider should focus on? Join the discussion in the comments below and check out cloudprintmanifesto.org. 

Cisco and Xerox announced today that are pairing up to offer cloud printing services for enterprises. Cisco has added Xerox Managed Print Services (MPS) to routers, switches, data center servers (UCS), Vblock, virtual desktops and the CIUS client. The cloud print services will be for sale through Cisco’s channel this summer.

In addition to simply allowing users to print from mobile devices across a Cisco network, a public cloud or a private cloud, the plan lets network administrators monitor printers and implement policies that the companies say will protects confidential data.

The companies will build print agents into Cisco routers and switches, starting with the branch-office ISR. They will tap into Cisco’s WAN acceleration gear to help print jobs travel faster, and will use Cisco security tools to keep the data from going from winding up in unauthorized hands, the companies said.

Xerox introduced the mobile printing system earlier this year, though this partnership with Cisco makes it a little easier for the enterprise to use it. Previously, the integration with devices was left to the enterprise or system integrator.

Cisco and Xerox aren’t the first to the table with cloud print services. In March, HP announced that it was joining forces with Google to support Google Cloud Print, which lets Gmail and Google Docs users print from mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, or even Windows 7 netbooks. Google Cloud Print lets you print documents over an Internet connection without downloading printer drivers.

Users of the HP/Google combo don’t need enterprise IT to step in and provide the service. Likewise, IT professionals are given no control or security over where documents are sent.

With the HP partnership, Google Cloud Print lets users remotely print documents over the Internet to select HP printers with the EPrint capability, in which an email with print instructions is sent directly to the printer. The mobile application needs to have Google’s Cloud Print extensions. Users have to add the email address of an HP EPrint-enabled Photosmart, Envy, Officejet or LaserJet printer to a unique Google account tied to a smartphone or tablet. Multiple printers can be tied to one Google account, and on pushing the print command, users will be able to select the printer of choice. If a printer is powered down, the command will be added to a print queue.

Without the special HP hooks, a tablet user can still use Google Cloud Print but its not geared for enterprise use. A user sends documents from the tablet/smartphone to a PC connected to a printer. That PC has to have the Google Cloud Print connector downloaded and enabled in Chrome.

From an IT standpoint, offering cloud printing as a service, and gaining some aspect of management and security policy, seems to be a smarter choice than just letting users have at it by through services like Google Print. The companies say that they will eventually support other wares, too … not requiring a Cisco network from end to end and supporting printers from companies other than Xerox.

Google Cloud Print is a service that helps users send documents to printers from a variety of devices. This includes personal computers, as well as mobile phones and tablets. Because this service uses the Internet to send documents, users can send a document to a printer from anywhere, regardless of distance.

To get started with Google Cloud Print, Google recommends having a cloud-ready printer. Newer printer designs from companies like Brother, Canon, Dell, Epson, HP, Kodak and Samsung are mostly cloud-ready. Users can also find a detailed list of cloud-ready printer models on the Google Cloud Print website.

Setting up a printer for Google Cloud Print involves installing the Google Chrome system on the sending device. Users will have to navigate Google Chrome settings to sign into Google Cloud Print and enable a connector for printers. Advanced instructions can be found in Google Chrome, where a customized interface supports cloud print functionality.

Users can find additional details for handling Google Cloud Print jobs on manager printers in their Google Chrome accounts. Google also offers a side note that Windows XP users may need additional software installed to be able to use Cloud Print successfully. Those who are using Windows XP should also know that Microsoft intends to end support for this operating system, so it may make sense to transition to a newer version of Microsoft Windows if cloud printing is a desired feature.

After connecting printers and devices to Google Cloud Print, using Cloud Print is much the same as using a local area network wireless connection, which is also supported by many modern printers. The difference is that Google Cloud Print may use either Internet connections or 4G wireless connections to get a signal from a mobile device to a printer.

Scaling to Succeed in New Business Models

Executives everywhere recognize there is money in the cloud and are investing in new “anything-as-a-service” (XaaS) business models. Gartner forecasts that the market for applications, application infrastructure, and systems infrastructure delivered as public cloud services will reach $43 billion in 2015  Yet as technology providers scramble to stake
their claim in this new frontier, many of them confront a sobering reality: Creating
and implementing the right operating model to build a successful cloud business is far from easy. In fact, many executives acknowledge that it’s one of the most difficult challenges they face today.
To help leaders sort through this challenge and chart a clear course forward, Accenture recently completed a research study with more than 40 senior executives from 30 high tech and technology enabled companies. These discussions built upon the hypotheses outlined in paper from early 2011 entitled, “Where the Cloud Meets Reality: Operationally Enabling the Growth of New Business Models,” and sought to understand how companies were operationalizing new XaaS models alongside their traditional, non-cloud offerings.
Accenture research confirmed that virtually all companies are struggling to deal with the operational complexity caused by XaaS, and by new business models more broadly. The reality is that building the new XaaS capabilities required to succeed and embracing a services-centric mentality is hard work that touches every corporate function. Accenture found that in most cases the launch of new XaaS businesses far outpaces a company’s operational ability to deliver and scale. As the general manager of a cloud business unit explained , “We are going 100 mph and the cliff is 10 miles away. We go ‘kaboom’ in just a few quarters unless we get our operations functioning quickly.” Based on  research and years of client experience, accenture identified 10 recommendations across four major
focus areas that industry leaders should embrace to launch and scale XaaS models
successfully
The logic flow and order of these recommendations is critical. Success starts with achieving business model clarity as the necessary precursor. Second, companies must identify and build distinctive XaaS capabilities and incorporate them into a cohesive operating model; accenture research identified eight unique XaaS capabilities. Third   companies must develop and agree to a segmented operating model approach at the most senior levels of the company. Finally, companies require a new governance model to handle this complexity. A critical element of this model is the creation of a new role, which is Chief Operational Architect.
Collectively, implementing these recommendations requires a dramatic departure from how most incumbent companies are run today. But continuing on the current path is not an option, as customers are deciding with greater frequency that XaaS solutions can meet their needs in a superior manner to traditional models.In technology, growth is king, and every percentage point of growth a company fails to capture results in a measureable loss of shareholder value. As such, the future demands attention to these challenges today, while cash is available to fund investments and create the new capabilities required to
compete in the XaaS age.

Converting from a traditional technology company into one that delivers its former product as a service from the cloud “requires a dramatic departure from how most incumbent companies are run today,” concludes a new Accenture report, “Where the Cloud Meets Reality: Scaling to Succeed in New Business Models.”

The report cites three companies that are succeeding with cloud business models in one form or another: Salesforce.com, RightNow Technologies, and McKesson. But it also notes many technology company executives don’t understand how disruptive cloud business models are to their traditional way of building and shipping products.

he main thrust of the report is about how leading technology companies need to convert their products into cloud services and products, but are struggling to do so. Implicit is the possibility that if leading technology suppliers are troubled by the transition, then many other companies are likely to be as well. As a matter of fact, if a technology supplier doesn’t understand the cloud and is slow to convert, that’s going to leave its customers behind their competitors who are served by more cloud-adept technology suppliers.

Some technology companies, such as IBM, HP, Cisco and Dell, have decided to become cloud infrastructure service providers in one form or another, and also supply hardware and software to those companies that wish to build out cloud data centers. Likewise, Intuit and Microsoft, software publishers, are both becoming software as a service suppliers. All of these transitions require new business models to be put in place and new business processes to implement them.

[ Learn more about how cloud computing will change conventional business models. Read Accenture Sees High Tech Firms Moving To Multiple Business Models. ]

Hosting providers “have it the easiest, as the cloud is in many ways just the next generation of services that they already provide,” the report said. But they are operations-focused companies that will need to become more innovation and focus more on consultative services in the future, the report warns. Infrastructure as a service suppliers such as Rackspace and SoftLayer have become cloud suppliers by evolving their hosting businesses.

“Most companies [that] come from a transactional, product-based and channel-centric mindset are woefully unprepared to deliver the world-class customer experience demanded by anything-as-a-service models,” the Accenture authors Tim Jellison, Dave Sovie and Sam Glick concluded.

The report, issued April 23, said the transition to cloud products requires a new governance model to handle cloud complexity, and requires the creation of a new role, Chief Operational Architect.

Two companies cited in the report for having added cloud business models to their existing businesses are Apple and Sony. Both were previously producers of consumer electronics. Accenture says their emerging business model is that of content and service providers from the cloud; Apple in particular has demonstrated how additional business models in the cloud can be grafted onto a traditional device maker’s strategy.

Company executives need to define their cloud business model, which consists of how the company will make money in a particular market with its product or service. The business model is a combination of a target customer, an offering or value proposition to the customer, and a revenue model. In cloud computing, revenue is usually raised one of two ways: by charging for timed use, or through subscriptions. These elements are combined with a go-to-market approach for the full business model, according to the report.

The business model is distinct from the operational model–the set of business processes, people, and systems that implement the business model.

In the Salesforce.com example, co-founder Parker Harris told the Accenture authors that it was important that Salesforce adopted an approach to scale its applications Internet-style to thousands and tens of thousands of simultaneous users, as opposed to developing on-premises software for use by one company. In addition, a healthy tension developed between development teams, focused on innovation in three product releases per year for a total of 500 releases across the product portfolio, versus the operational team, that needed to ensure continuous operation and minimal impact of changes on the customer. Salesforce.com had to devise its own version of agile development and devOps that maintained that tension, Harris said, a different way of operation from a traditional software company. It also uses several scorecards and tools to correlate what’s going on with customers in their interactions with Salesforce.com and the likelihood they will renew their subscriptions. Salesforce appoints customer success managers to deal with customers, not technical support personnel, because users want prescriptive advice on how to better use the software in their businesses.

RightNow Technologies started out in 1997 as a SaaS and on-premises software company, with 15% of revenues coming from the on-premises customer contact software. As it matured, it found the development process for SaaS different from the on-premises model, where customers don’t want frequent updates. It was hard to figure out how to incentivize the sales force to sell both on-premises licenses and SaaS subscriptions. And having two operational models for one product complicated revenue recognition and reporting. David Vap, chief solutions officers, told Accenture that the company decided to become a SaaS-only company at a time when its competitors tried to maintain both. The move rationalized sometimes conflicted business processes in the company and allowed the development team to focus on rapid updates and leveraging the power of cloud computing, he said.

In the third example, McKesson Technology Solutions unit consisted of many independent builders of healthcare systems, each addressing different market segments and generating a combined $3 billion in revenue. As more of them became SaaS providers, Robert Hendricks, senior VP of technology planning and software development in MTS, and other company officials realized the SaaS delivery model offered new opportunities that the various business units, still operating independently, couldn’t capitalize on by themselves. In 2006, new regulations prompted the company to better address governance issues. Hendricks insisted its RelayHealth unit act in a more integrated way, adopting a definition of enterprise application architecture, along with standard process methodology, data management, testing models, and development tools. For its customers, RelayHealth was supplying connectivity solutions for the various functions of healthcare providers, pharmacies, and payers. It was important to maintain one set of standards for determining patient release, for example, across these communities as MTS built its SaaS systems. Governance has required forming strategic collaboration communities of developers, managers and users to evaluate quality and risk of new offerings. The governance communities allow the tensions inherent in providing healthcare to bubble up and be managed across a wider sphere, allowing more effective delivery of new McKesson products and services, Hendricks told the authors.

“Growing cloud-based business models is highly strategic and an immense undertaking for high-tech companies,” said Mitch Cline, global managing director with Accenture’s Electronics & High-Tech group, in a statement. Company executives wedded to traditional ways of doing business will find it hard to sort out what business models are already in use or which ones are needed to capitalize on the new opportunities that come with cloud computing. Based on interviews with 40 executives at 30 high tech companies, many “aren’t prepared strategically or operationally to cope with the magnitude of disruption they’re facing,” he said.

The report recommends that companies take these steps to help overcome the challenges:

— Determine what business models they have today and which ones are needed to capitalize on the cloud.

— Build the capabilities needed to deliver business in the cloud.

— Develop a segmented operating model to deliver the right customer experience and economics to the right groups.

— Implement governance to make key product delivery and resource allocation decision

Cloud-enabled business model accelerator

Assessing  opportunities and defining the roadmap
Individuals and businesses alike are embracing the digital revolution. Social networks and digital devices are being used to engage government, businesses and civil society, as well as friends and family. People are using mobile, interactive tools to determine who to trust, where to go and what to buy. At the same time, organizations are undertaking their own digital transformations, rethinking what customers value most, and taking advantage of the availability of vast and ubiquitous computing power to create new business and operating models primed for the digital age.
The challenge for business is how fast and how far to go – taking advantage of what’s newly possible for competitive differentiation and doing all this with an eye to what matters most to their customers.
Business value of Cloud
One of the most prominent drivers and catalysts for this digital revolution is the increasing adoption of Cloud technologies across industries. But the cloud is not just about technology – it is a paradigm shift.
Reflecting on your business, ask yourself what you would do if you…
• could give any of your customers access to any of your products and services anytime, anywhere, by any means?
• could have on demand access to unlimited computing and analytics power?
• could easily and seamlessly connect and collaborate with business partners, networks and customers wherever they happened to be?
• could inexpensively and rapidly develop and experiment with new products & services?
Cloud provides six key enablers that can fundamentally change an industry or expand the horizon of what is possible in business model innovation. These enablers ‘level the playing field’ by dramatically reducing barriers to entry, enabling companies to expand their scope, offerings, value propositions, markets as well as creating space for nimble new-comers to enter into an industry.

Cloud business value enablers
• Speed and adaptability – enables rapid prototyping, faster time to market, adoption of innovative ideas
• Scalability/elasticity – that enables fast scale-up or down of resources on-demand, limiting the effects of market volatility
• Cost flexibility – enables a shift from fixed to variable costs and transactional ‘byte-sized’ pricing models
• Analytics – enables handling massive internal and external unstructured data to garner insights
• Focus/strategic alignment – enables strategic focus on core competencies and ‘sourcing’ of non-core functions efficiently from the cloud
• Collaboration – enables creation of new value nets through customer/partner interactions, creating new ecosystems for innovation

Benefits of Cloud-enabled business model accelerator
• Understand how the Cloud is relevant in the context of  business model
• Identify and prioritize business model innovation opportunities
• Evaluate the operating model impacts and requirements for change
• Understand the high-level cloud technology requirements
• Develop a preliminary list of partnering or collaboration opportunities

Cloudnovation : Cloud collaboration

Decision-makers are realizing how migrating collaboration tools to the cloud can introduce a number of new opportunities for the business as a whole.

As the cloud computing landscape evolves, enterprise decision-makers are quickly realizing how migrating collaboration tools to the hosted environment can introduce a number of new opportunities for the business as a whole. In many cases, moving VoIP and other communication services to the cloud can reduce costs, improve operations and lead to better overall performance.

A recent Forbes Insights study of more than 500 executives highlighted how collaborating in the cloud can lead to a more connected workplace, as 64 percent of respondents said hosted solutions enabled more efficient operations than traditional premise-based services. In other words, using cloud VoIP and other communication tools helps organizations cut down on time to market, receive faster responses within teams and gain a competitive advantage over rivals still using legacy technologies.

“The ability to collaborate in the cloud is becoming a key driver of competitive advantage,” said Bruce Rogers, chief insights officer of Forbes Media. “Leading companies are doing more to foster cloud-based collaboration – not only internally, but also with an ever-wider swath of external groups including customers, suppliers, partners and even regulators.”

Innovating through the cloud
Innovation is critical in today’s highly competitive business world, as failing to adapt will only make it more difficult to keep pace with rival firms and their ongoing need to stay at the head of the pack. The survey revealed that 59 percent of executives said using cloud-based collaborative tools strengthened their ability to stimulate creativity. In fact, a number of respondents said this capability was almost inevitable when migrating solutions to the cloud.

“Clouds accelerate the rollout of collaborative technologies such as voice, video and conferencing so that companies can improve the efficiency of their decision-making and the quality of their customers’ experiences,” hosted collaboration expert Eric Schoch said.

When a VoIP network is hosted in the cloud, for example, organizations can access voice services from virtually anywhere at any time without worrying about flooding the infrastructure with too much traffic, according to Business 2 Community.

As the need for advanced telecommunication platforms continues to increase, enterprise decision-makers should consider migrating services to the cloud to improve operations, reduce costs and support innovation in and outside of the workplace. By planning ahead and working with a trusted VoIP provider, executives can find offerings that align with their specific needs.

Cloud collaboration is a newly emerging way of sharing and co-authoring computer files through the use of cloud computing, whereby documents are uploaded to a central “cloud” for storage,where they can then be accessed by others. One of the most important topics when it comes to cloud services is storage. But yet it seems that it is the most ignored by customers when shopping around. A true storage platform should have a storage layer that is physically separate from the nodes. This is important for one very good reason. Having a centralized storage allows true data elasticity. The data is able to span server’s, server pools, data-centers and even continents.

New cloud collaboration technologies have allowed users to upload, comment and collaborate on documents and even amend the document itself, evolving the document within the cloud. Businesses in the last few years have increasingly been switching to use of cloud collaboration.

Cloud collaboration brings together new advances in cloud computing and collaboration that are becoming more and more necessary in firms operating in an increasingly globalised world. Cloud computing is a marketing term for technologies that provide software, data access, and storage services that do not require end-user knowledge of the physical location and configuration of the system that delivers the services. A parallel to this concept can be drawn with the electricity grid, where end-users consume power without needing to understand the component devices or infrastructure required to provide the service.

Collaboration, in this case, refers to the ability of workers in a company to work together simultaneously on a particular task. In the past, most document collaboration would have to be completed face to face. However, collaboration has become more complex, with the need to work with people all over the world in real time on a variety of different types of documents, using different devices. While growth in the collaboration sector is still growing rapidly, it has been noted that the uptake of cloud collaboration services has reached a point where it is less to do with the ability of current technology, and more to do with the reluctance of workers to collaborate in this way. A report by Erica Rugullies mapped out five reasons why workers are reluctant to collaborate more.[3] These are:

  • People resist sharing their knowledge.
  • Users are most comfortable using e-mail as their primary electronic collaboration tool.
  • People do not have incentive to change their behaviour.
  • Teams that want to or are selected to use the software do not have strong team leaders who push for more collaboration.
  • Senior management is not actively involved in or does not support the team collaboration initiative.

As a result, many providers of cloud collaboration tools have created solutions to these problems. These include the integration of email alerts into collaboration software and the ability to see who is viewing the document at any time. All the tools a team could need are put into one piece of software so workers no longer have to rely on email based solutions.

Origins

Before cloud file sharing and collaboration software, most collaboration was limited to more primitive and less effective methods such as email and FTP among others. These did not work particularly well, and so the need emerged for a simple to use, yet feature rich cloud collaboration solution.

Very early moves into cloud computing were made by Amazon Web Services who, in 2006, began offering IT infrastructure services to businesses in the form of web services. Cloud computing only began to come to real prominence in 2007 when Google decided to move parts of its email service to a public cloud.[4] It was not long before IBM and Microsoft followed suit with LotusLive and Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS) respectively. With an increase in cloud computing services, cloud collaboration solutions were able to evolve. Since 2007, many new, innovative firms have entered the industry offering new features and a more complete cloud collaboration system, filling gaps in the market left by less adaptable large existing software firms.

Many analysts explain the rise of cloud collaboration by pointing to the increasing use by workers of non-authorised websites and online tools to do their jobs. This includes the use of instant messaging and social networks. In a survey taken in early 2011, 22% of workers admitted to having used one or more of these external non-authorised websites.[5] Cloud collaboration packages provide the ability to collaborate on documents together in real time, making the use of non-authorised instant messaging redundant. IT managers can now properly regulate internet based collaboration with a system tailor made for the office.

It has also been noted that cloud collaboration has become more and more necessary for IT departments as workforces have become more mobile and now need access to important documents wherever they are, whether this is through an internet browser, or through newer technologies such as smartphones and tablet devices. Furthermore, cloud collaboration is important in a world where business has become more globalised, with offices and clients located all over the world.

The tech industry has seen several large paradigm changes over the past few decades:

  • The mainframe computing era enabled business growth to be untethered from the number of employees needed to process transactions manually.
  • The personal computing era empowered business users to run their businesses based on individual data and applications on their PCs.
  • A decade of network computing established an unprecedented level of transparency of information across multiple groups inside a company and an amazing rate of data exchange between enterprises.

Each of these revolutions brought with it new economies of scale. The cost-per-transaction, the cost of automating office and desktop processes, and finally the cost of network bandwidth fell quickly and enabled business users to apply ICT solutions more broadly to create business value. Most analysts (Forrester, Gartner, etc.) believe that cloud computing will help unleash the next wave of tech-enabled business innovation.

During the mainframe era, client/server was initially viewed as a “toy” technology, not viable as a mainframe replacement. Yet, over time the client/server technology found its way into the enterprise. Similarly, when virtualization technology was first proposed, application compatibility concerns and potential vendor lock-in were cited as barriers to adoption. Yet underlying economics of 20 to 30 percent savings compelled CIOs to overcome these concerns, and adoption quickly accelerated.

Recent developments

Recently, cloud collaboration has seen rapid evolution. In the past, cloud collaboration tools have been quite basic with very limited features. Newer, packages are now much more document-centric in their approach to collaboration. More sophisticated tools allow users to “tag” specific areas of a document for comments which are delivered real time to those viewing the document.In some cases, the collaboration software can even be integrated into Microsoft Office, or allow users to set up video conferences.

Furthermore, the trend now is for firms to employ a single software tool to solve all their collaboration needs, rather than having to rely on multiple different techniques. Single cloud collaboration providers are now replacing a complicated tangle of instant messengers, email and FTP.[8]

Cloud collaboration today is promoted as a tool for collaboration internally between different departments within a firm, but also externally as a means for sharing documents with end-clients as receiving feedback. This makes cloud computing a very versatile tool for firms with many different applications in a business environment.

The best cloud collaboration tools:

  • Use real-time commenting and messaging features to enhance speed of project delivery
  • Leverage presence indicators to identify when others are active on documents owned by another person
  • Allow users to set permissions and manage other users’ activity profiles
  • Allow users to set personal activity feeds and email alert profiles to keep abreast of latest activities per file or user
  • Allow users to collaborate and share files with users outside the company firewall
  • Comply with company security and compliance framework
  • Ensure full auditability of files and documents shared within and outside the organization
  • Reduce workarounds for sharing and collaboration on large files

A 2011 report by Gartner outlines a five stage model on the maturity of firms when it comes to the uptake of cloud collaboration tools.  A firm in the first stage is said to be “reactive”, with only email as a collaboration platform and a culture which resists information sharing. A firm in the fifth stage is called “pervasive”, and has universal access to a rich collaboration toolset and a strong collaborative culture. The article argues that most firms are in the second stage, but as cloud collaboration becomes more important, most analysts expect to see the majority of firms moving up in the model.

Windows Azure data storage

The Windows Azure data storage offerings: Blobs, Tables, and SQL Database. These offerings are hosted in Windows Azure data centers and are available to applications whether they are running on-premises, hosted within a Windows Azure data center, or hosted within a competing cloud service. The data storage offerings offer many benefits, including high availability, scalability, fault tolerance, geo-replication, easy manageability, limitless storage, and security. In addition, the data is accessible via the Internet to any operating system (OS) and programming language.

If users are running your application code in a Windows Azure data center, then the virtual machine (VM) that is hosting the application exposes two additional storage options called local storage and Windows Azure drives.

Case studies ETSY , Netflix

As a Web site where individuals can sell handmade, vintage items, and craft supplies, Etsy.com provides a market for creative members to sell their items online. When people join Etsy, they can post their items under applicable categories, enabling buyers to search for and locate items quickly. Etsy members reside in over 150 countries across the globe.In 2009, the company acquired Adtuitive, a startup Internet advertising company. Adtuitive’s ad server was completely hosted on Amazon Web Services and served targeted retail ads at a rate of over 100 million requests per month. Aduititve’s configuration included 50 Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) volumes, Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and a data warehouse pipeline built on Amazon Elastic MapReduce. Amazon Elastic MapReduce runs on a custom domain-specific language that uses the Cascading application programming interface.
Etsy

Today, Etsy uses Amazon Elastic MapReduce for web log analysis and recommendation algorithms. Because AWS easily and economically processes enormous amounts of data, it’s ideal for the type of processing that Etsy performs. Etsy copies its HTTP server logs every hour to Amazon S3, and syncs snapshots of the production database on a nightly basis. The combination of Amazon’s products and Etsy’s syncing/storage operation provides substantial benefits for Etsy. As Dr. Jason Davis, lead scientist at Etsy, explains, “the computing power available with [Amazon Elastic MapReduce] allows us to run these operations over dozens or even hundreds of machines without the need for owning the hardware.”

Dr. Davis goes on to say, “Amazon Elastic MapReduce enables  to focus on developing Hadoop-based analysis stack without worrying about the underlying infrastructure. As  cycles shift between development and research,  software and analysis requirements change and expand constantly, and [Amazon Elastic MapReduce] effectively eliminates half of  scaling issues, allowing  to focus on what is most important.”

Etsy has realized improved results and performance by architecting their application for the cloud, with robustness and fault tolerance in mind, while providing a market for users to buy and sell handmade items online

How Cloud Computing Helped Netflix Emerge as a Streaming Media Powerhouse

Netflix may be getting a lot of bad press in recent times due to its management’s ill-advised decision to raise subscription rates by almost 50% resulting in widespread customer dissatisfaction and a groveling apology by CEO Reed Hastings, but it was not long ago that it was considered the epitome of home entertainment.Netflix is another new-age company that owes its success to cloud computing, the same way that Zynga, the creators of Facebook game sensation Farmville, does (See: Zynga, the Latest Cloud Computing Success). And not surprisingly, for both of them, the cloud provider of choice is Amazon, perhaps the earliest player in the game.

Although Netflix began life as a DVD-by-mail service in 1997, it was with the introduction of the on-demand streaming service that it saw a huge expansion of its customer base. In fact, when it crossed 10 million subscribers in 2009, it “attributed the recent surge in subscribers to growing consumer recognition of the value and convenience offered by Netflix and increasingly more ways to instantly watch a growing library of movies and TV episodes from Netflix on PCs, Intel-based Macs and TVs.”

Not surprisingly, this model was soon adopted by many other providers like Fox’s Hulu, Amazon and even Google, who created a paid version of YouTube content. Now, running such a service required a level of flexibility, resource optimization and redundancy that traditional data centers were ill-equipped to provide (See: Virtualization: The Virtual Way to Real-World Benefits). That is why Netflix today relies almost exclusively on cloud services for its infrastructure.

This point was reiterated by Netflix Cloud Security Architect Jason Chan in his presentation “Practical Cloud Security” at the United Security Summit in San Francisco. During his presentation, Chan articulated the advantages that being on the cloud provided Netflix, advantages that were not possible with traditional IT infrastructure.

Chen explained that in a traditional data center, applications are long-lived, code is pushed to running systems, and it can be difficult to enforce deployment patterns such as patches. However, on the cloud, new versions are written which replace the old ones entirely with new instances, eliminating the need for patches. Also, while earlier repeatable tasks such as adding a user account, changing firewall configurations or forensic analysis required multiple steps and interfacing with multiple systems, “these tasks are a simple API call with cloud.” Moreover, with systems being added to groups that control the connectivity, “there’s no one chokepoint” like the traditional firewall.

The key lesson  learned is you have to leave the old ways behind,” However,  that moving to the cloud did introduce some specific security concerns that had to be addressed. With Amazon having launched a similar service in direct competition with its own customer Netflix (See: Is Amazon’s Cloud Player a Game Changer in the Music Industry? ), this space should see some interesting developments in the near future.