As Clouds Reach the Enterprise, Opportunities Are Clear

It’s been about three years since Amazon made its risky bet on delivering computing and storage via the cloud. It started by offering commitment-free, pay-as-you-go storage, enabling startups to start scaling their businesses without significant investment in capital equipment. It later added compute cycles to its services and today has a host of other offerings, including a content delivery network.
Both the hype and perceived value around cloud computing has expanded since that first shot was fired, but enterprises remain cautious. What’s becoming clear is that the best way to get them to join the cloud revolution is to introduce private or internal clouds for corporate IT and then gradually merge or offload data from those private corporate clouds into public ones. In other words, for cloud vendors, the big opportunities in the cloud space are in helping enterprise customers deploy their own internal clouds (like Elastra or the larger vendors do), helping them manage multiple clouds, and figuring out how to transfer data between internal and external clouds. Read More about As Clouds Reach the Enterprise, Opportunities Are Clear

Rackable’s New Servers Like It Hot

cloudrackc2_tray_doubleRackable (s RACK) announced today an update to its CloudRack servers. The CloudRack C2 servers can run at 104 degrees inside the data center, and they offload power supply to the rack to reduce energy wasted in converting AC electricity from the wall to DC electricity used by the box to 1 percent. Since these beasts can packĀ 1,280 cores, or 320 processors, into a rack, they’re not exactly in the power-saving category, but the design ensures that the electricity is going to power the processors rather than lost as heat or waste. Read More about Rackable’s New Servers Like It Hot

Microsoft Designing Cloud Data Centers From the Silicon Up

Microsoft (s MSFT) today is expected to announce a research and development program called Cloud Computing Futures that aims to look at how the data centers underlying cloud computing can operate as efficiently as possible. The idea behind this year-old effort that will emerge from stealth mode at Microsoft’s TechFest event in Redmond, Wash., today is to save energy and also reconsider the way data centers are designed depending on the applications they are trying to run. Read More about Microsoft Designing Cloud Data Centers From the Silicon Up

HP Not So Sure About EC2

black_stretch_logo1HP (s hpq) seems to believe that firms delivering software and possibly platforms as a service will do better than those delivering infrastructure as a service (much like Amazon’s (s amzn) EC2). In its final discussion with customers about cloud computing this week, HP executives talked about research goals and identifying workflows for the cloud, as well as its vision of the cloud-filled future.

HP thinks IT will be delivered as a service by thousands of different providers, who in turn will be cobbled together to offer even more services. Sort of like an Escher drawing. For enterprises, there will be providers that can offer service-level agreements that guarantee reliability, and the resulting everything-as-a-service world will result in less IT complexity.

On the service provider side, that reduction in complexity will be the result of the service provider delivering only one application. That singular focus will enable the vendor to scale out the application to meet demand and still make a profit thanks, in part, to the reduction in complexity. It’s these vendors that HP wants to sell to, and to whom it’s referring when it calls itself the service provider’s service provider.

All of which sounds lovely, except that may not be the way cloud computing pans out. Read More about HP Not So Sure About EC2

The Rise of the Mega Data Center

Behind popular web services such as Facebook, Google and Amazon’s AWS are racks and racks of computers serving up millions of pages or providing raw computing power. The use of thousands of servers to deliver one application or act as a pool of computing resources has changed the way that chipmakers and computer vendors are building their products. It has also led to the rise of the mega data center.

Intel estimates that by 2012, up to a quarter of the server chips it sells will go into such mega data centers. Dell, which nearly two years ago created its Data Center Solutions Group to address the needs of customers buying more than 2,000 servers at a time, now says that division is the fourth- or fifth-largest server vendor in the world. In the meantime, suppliers are creating product lines and spending money on R&D to adjust to the needs of these mega data center operators, as those operators are fulfilling an increasing demand for applications and services delivered via the cloud. Read More about The Rise of the Mega Data Center

Cloud Computing Is a Tool, Not a Strategy

black_stretch_logo1This week I’m listening in as HP talks to some of its customers about cloud computing. Today’s webinar was a pretty good overview of how enterprises should think about using the cloud to deliver IT services — and underneath that, why the cloud really isn’t quite ready for enterprise adoption.

David Cannon, who works for HP (s HPQ) helping customers use IT to meet business goals, reminded the audience that the cloud right now is a tool that can help large companies by delivering highly scalable compute capacity on demand, but isn’t the underlying capabilities or service that IT needs to deliver to the business or the business’s end customers. Read More about Cloud Computing Is a Tool, Not a Strategy

HP Confines the Cloud for Enterprises

Eventually the idea of cloud computing will become an accepted part of the information technology ecosystem — but it will be just one of many tools in the IT arsenal, according to HP (s hpq). To stake its claim on the idea of pooled commodity computing resources, HP is hosting a series of webinars for its customers that explain how it sees the cloud fitting into the corporate IT mix (see chart).

Aspects of the strategy are really compelling, notably the vision held by Russ Daniels, CTO of HP’s Cloud Service Strategy, of the cloud as a sort of unified, persistent repository for data that applications or people can access. But aside from some vague nods to the benefits of accessing information in the clouds (such as with web-based email) most of HP’s detailed talk of clouds in the first webinar was depressingly similar to the idea of service-oriented architecture. HP offered clouds as merely a means to deliver IT as a service inside the enterprise. Read More about HP Confines the Cloud for Enterprises

Symbian Secures Big Backers in Mobile OS War

Symbian said today that 14 new companies, including Hewlett-Packard (s HPQ), MySpace, Qualcomm (s QCOM) and SanDisk (s SNDK), have joined its foundation. This brings the number of companies that have signed up to use the mobile operating system’s platform to 78, putting it ahead of the 47 members of the Open Handset Alliance, which supports Google’s (s GOOG) Android OS. More members are good, but Symbian still has to get those members psyched up and developing on its mobile operating system. Read More about Symbian Secures Big Backers in Mobile OS War

Mobile Computing Is Killing the Desktop PC

The impact of declining desktop and laptop demand on the PC industry became that much clearer this morning, as Microsoft (s MSFT) reported lower-than-expected second-quarter earnings driven, in part, by a deterioration of its client PC business (sever software sales are flat) and said it would cut 5,000 jobs. The crappy economy isĀ kicking the desktop PC industry while it’s down. The desktop has been suffering ever since laptops and accessible wireless connectivity started making mobile computing productive; even laptops are seeing their fortunes fall as low-cost netbooks gain an audience. Read More about Mobile Computing Is Killing the Desktop PC

When Touch Is Inappropriate

Microsoft (s MSFT) continues to push touch as a user interface, this time as a participant in the $24 million funding round for Israeli startup N-Trig, whose technology enables multitouch, or the use of more than one finger for input. Multitouch hit it big on the iPhone, where one uses multiple fingers to zoom in rather than one finger to drag things around the screen. N-Trig’s technology is also pressure-sensitive capacitive like the iPhone, rather than based on cameras, such as with the touch technologies used by HP’s (s HPQ) TouchSmart PC and the Microsoft Surface table. An article in today’s Wall Street Journal hypes Microsoft’s efforts, and spends a good amount of verbiage on how touch could replace the mouse, but won’t be useful everywhere.

Ain’t that the truth. Touch is frankly inappropriate for many tasks, from typing blog entries to dealing with Excel spreadsheets. Read More about When Touch Is Inappropriate