Friday, January 31, 2020

Welcome to Cyberthoughts (cloudrant.com)

Cyberthoughts, also known as cloudrant.com, is a techblog focused on “Cloud Computing”.

* Cyberthought.com   * Twitter Feed

----- A b o u t    C l o u d     C o m p u t i n g by Christian Claborne -------

* What is it?    * Advantages    * Risks & Challenges

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Blockchain -- The Next Internet

When bitcoin gained some notoriety in 2013, I did a little research and then put it away to work on it later.  This summer I decided to dedicate part of my vacation to bringing myself back up to speed on “Blockchain” and “Bitcoin” by reading the book by Don and Alex Tapscott titled “Blockchain Revolution -- How the technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and The World”.  


I’m now leaning toward the thought that the blockchain has the potential to impact society in a way that might surpass the birth of the internet.  Core to this impact is the “disintermediation” that it will bring.  The millions of people that intermediate transactions and profit off of the exchange of wealth will largely be removed.  Entire industries may be shoved into upheaval.  What Apple did to the phone industry, music industry, application industry, gaming industry, etc... blockchain has the potential to transform financial industry, real estate industry, securities and stock markets, music industry (again), government voting, corporate governance,  and more.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Getting Organized with Trello

I’ve been looking for a way to do personal task management for years.  I tried a paper in many forms multiple times (I don’t have it with me when I need it, its not searchable, etc).  I’ve tried all kinds of todo list apps on iOS.  I’ve tried Outlook multiple times with complete failure. I even tried a mind-mapping app.  Oh yes, and there was that time I used a white board which was really hard to carry around.

I like the "agile / scrum" approach that uses a "backlog" of things to do.  You drag things from the backlog list to some level of To Do this week or in-progress, work on it, then drag it to QA or Done. When I think of my own approach to managing my task list it really works well.  I can toss a whole bunch of things on the backlog and then by dragging them into a "start working on this list" to work on for the week (my sprint), it helps me focus on the stuff I really want to get done. It also helps me stop procrastinating.  My rule is that I need to start the first step for everything in the "ToDo this week" list.

I setup a Jira project for personal task management, complete with a scrum board and it was Kanban style.  I didn’t like Jira for personal because there is way too much overhead and no connection to my personal phone (and it was slow).

I had a quasi requirements list but finding the right package really helped me better understand my needs as well.  Here's my simple requirements:
  • Fast and easy
  • Web & iOS
  • Offer something like the Jira Scrum plugin with the visual kanban style of tracking stuff.
  • Ability to get a little more fancy (dates, attachments and more), but only if I need it.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Improving your Security Posture

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Everyone, including the author, has plenty of room for improvement in regards to computer, network and operational security.  As people become more computer savvy (or your adversaries know someone that is) users are more exposed to computer security related threats.  There are many tools that make hacking your systems easier for the less skilled, and with very little skill, thieves can access stolen hard drives in minutes.  We rely on computers for everything from banking, commerce and running entire businesses. Laptops contain enough processing and storage to hold years of client and other confidential data.  


One of the biggest problems comes from malware, and the fact that virtually any website or email attachment can silently put your computer under the control of criminal gangs, usually in other countries.   Often these gangs are from Russian speaking countries with sketchy cybercrime enforcement.  These gangs make billions each year compromising the computers and bank accounts of unsuspecting users all over the world. Most business owners are unaware of a compromised system.  If that system is used for online banking, hackers drain the business account which has fewer of the protections afforded to consumer accounts.  This can kill a business and cause personal financial ruin overnight.  Dave <last name redacted>, a security expert in San Diego, has a small document on how to prevent this scenario provided below in the “operational security” section of this.


This article is applicable to everyone but if you are a small business owner, it’s wise to take a look at this article and get your security house in order.  According to a 2012 report from Symantec, the largest growth area for targeted attacks were businesses with fewer than 250 employees, acounting for 31 percent of all attacks targeted.  In some cases, it may become a legal issue if a business isn’t conducting some basic due diligence in regards to security.  If a business isn’t taking what may be considered basic precautions to protect client information, that attorney, accountant, or social worker may have significant legal exposure.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Zynga Returning to AWS Part 2

In my last cloud article, “Zynga and the cost of agility”, I referenced an article about Zynga’s return to AWS  While at at AWS re:Invent 2015, I had a chance to hear first hand from Zynga’s CIO, Dorion Carroll, why Zynga left AWS in the early days and why they’re back.  It was an excellent presentation and the story is a real lesson as to why a CIO should think real hard before they start buying infrastructure (even if you are going to deploy in a co-location facility).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

DIY NAS + Plex Server Build

I’ve been running a network attached storage (NAS) device for many years.  I’ve really enjoyed the Netgear ReadyNAS product as an  easy to use reliable appliance.  I started out with a ReadyNAS NV+ and upgraded about 5 years later to a ReadyNAS Ultra.  I’m still happy with the unit but I need to add more storage and I want to use my NAS box to also serve movies and other media.  To do that I need a lot more storage and I need more processing power.  The Plex media server that I’m going to use transcodes the movies to the target viewing platform on the fly so it’s fairly CPU intensive, a lot more than the ReadyNAS is designed for.  It’s time to build a custom NAS and media server.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Zynga and the cost of agility

This article from RW was interesting.  I remember I did a double-take when hearing that Zynga was leaving AWS but there was general agreement at the time that you could save money by hosting it yourself (as well as some flexibility) if your environment aligned to that model, but it wasn't clear what the formula was. To me it's clear that AWS has an advantage when the use case is not static environments.  When your needs change, you aren't dragging the ball and chain of past decision around.  This is especially true for big-data efforts and emerging businesses.
But what is static these days?  Businesses come and go.  Product lines change.  Customers needs change.  State of the art in compute and architecture changes.  Its' difficult to find the use case where change isn't a persistent march.  Where change is slower, SaaS product prevail by taking a mature service and cost-optimizing it for their customers (ala CRM, email, etc.).  Here is a small quote from the article.

    As the company tried to make the shift to mobile, however, its infrastructure did it no favors. As Amazon Web Services data science chief Matt Wood told me in an interview:
    Those that go out and buy expensive infrastructure find that the problem scope and domain shift really quickly. By the time they get around to answering the original question, the business has moved on.

    While Wood was speaking of solving tough data science problems, the same principles apply to IT infrastructure, generally. When you build out a data center to solve particular problems, you're stuck with infrastructure that may not suit itself to new business challenges that arise.


There are a lot of advantages of cloud computing, but this is might be a really good example of the agility advantage.
-- Chris Claborne

Monday, January 26, 2015

Why The Snake Oil IBM?

When I was at the 2014 AWS re:Invent, IBM plastered busses with advertisements that their cloud business had surpassed Amazon’s.  People laughed but in my opinion, IBM has tarnished their esteemed position in industry and eroded trust.  I didn’t buy the IBM cloud biz was bigger but I didn’t have the data.  According to ReadWrite, they do.


IBM The World's Largest Cloud? Not Even Close


What’s wrong with IBM?  Why have they become a “snake oil salesman”?  IBM’s history is viewed by me as a trusted advisor to business.  They were professional and welcomed to the bidding when it came to tech and services.  By doing this, they close doors and raise the big question mark. Why?

-- Chris Claborne

Sunday, January 25, 2015

AWS re:Invent 2014

Although I'm getting this out a bit late, here is my annual review of the AWS re:Invent love-in cloud.  I was excited to see what this year’s annual conference in Las Vegas would bring.  I attend the conference for several reasons.  I wanted to see what’s announced at the show, but more importantly, I wanted to find out what the theme and core messaging and trends are.  By attending, you pick up on the theme and cantor of AWS by listening to all of the presenters.  This applies not only the AWS employees at the show, but their customer presenters.  AWS curates their presenters and topics to align to their marketing vector.  


AWS continues to be the leader of the pack by a wide margin, taking their planetary scale to the next level year after year.  What follows are some of my thoughts about AWS as influenced by re:Invent.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

2013 AWS re:Invent Conference Was Excellent

I had the opportunity to attend Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing conference, “AWS re:Invent” at the end of 2013.  I had a lot of fun, it was a lot of work, and I also went through the typical three phases of a conference attendee:
  • Shock and Awe -- The overwhelming stimulus input at the beginning of the show
  • Bewitchment -- The infatuation with the great ideas and marketing
  • Oversaturation -- Inability to take in one more presentation, product, or discussion about cloud computing.
Overall, AWS re:Invent, was one of the best conferences that I’ve been too in a while.  Here are some of my key takeaways from the event.

Is the PaaS market as we know it dying? I don't think so.

I just finished reading an article by Brandon Butler titled “Is the Paas market as we know it dying?”.  I don’t think PaaS market will die but the market will change by collapsing most PaaS into IaaS portfolios but I also feel it’s still a budding market and surprises are in store.


Platform as a service (PaaS) is a way to deliver an environment by which a developer can develop and deploy their applications without thinking about all of the infrastructure under that platform (servers, storage, networking, clustering, etc).  For the most part, unless the infrastructure has a direct impact to the desired outcome, a developer would rather ignore what model of blade and SAN storage is in the rack to drive the application.  Deliver enough performance and reliability and what is actually driving the platform becomes mute to a developer.  By doing this in the cloud, IT shops can outsource everything else below the line (For more, see my other PaaS article).  


As long as all of the services and tools that a developer needs are on the PaaS platform, all is well. If a critical piece is missing, you will need to move down the stack and implement the platform on top of “Infrastructure as a Service”  (IaaS) along with custom tooling.  IaaS gives the developer shop full-control but it comes at a cost.  By moving down the stack the team will need to own all of the responsibilities that comes with owning that layer.  


I think we will continue to see IaaS providers deploy PaaS or acquire others that have PaaS offerings.  It will be interesting to see what AWS does in this space.  In my opinion Elastic Beanstalk is their current solution.  Where this doesn’t fit, companies are using AWS OppsWorks as a repeatable way to deliver consistent PaaS environments do their developers.  The footprint of AWS and the myriad of additional services (message queue, database, analytics, workflow...) make it an attractive option without offering a PaaS like Heroku.    


I think the PaaS market will continue to bubble and boil.  It’s a much more turbulent environment than IaaS because of the amount of change that goes on at that layer.  Development languages, and software development tools, extensions, and development environments are changing rapidly.  If asked what I would do on a particular project it would depend on the amount of change and size.  The larger the project, the more risk that I will get into a situation that will force me to go the IaaS route.  It it’s a small, closed in project, I’ll go with pure play PaaS.


Reference


-- Chris Claborne

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Cloud Replacing Enterprise Hardware Vendors

In David Linthicum's latest article, he had this quote from Barclays to substantiate his claim that dollars will shift from hardware provider's to cloud:
    Barclays, in its global technology outlook, has reached the same conclusion: "We believe the deflationary impact from the cloud ($1 spent on cloud infrastructure actually results in several dollars coming out of other IT end-markets) should prevent IT spending from growing meaningfully in 2014 and 2015. ... We believe global IT spending will remain challenged in the lower single-digit growth range."
In addition, according to 451 Group, IaaS revenue will jump at an annual rate of 57% through 2016!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Salesforce is taking it up a notch???


Last week we saw AWS VP James Hamilton talk about how they are hosting data, transactions, and raw compute for companies at a scale like we’ve never seen before.  Then he gave us a peek at how they do it, using custom servers, routers, power substations and software in order to achieve economies of scale and deliver incredible capabilities for pennies.  On Monday, Salesforce.com announces they are going toinstall HP servers for customers to use.  So, Salesforce is going to kill it (profit wise) with big iron they are buying from HP.  Hmmm, I wonder.

- Chris Claborne

Monday, September 16, 2013

Is the Apple A7 part of a Long Term Strategic Play?

This article by Simon Bisson at ZDNet points out that the Apple A7 chip that was just announced as part of the iPhone 5S (and most likely will carry over to the rest of the product line as they refresh) is bigger than a lot of people think.  I think he may be right.  The implications to a more secure OS is delightful.
    With a virtualisation-ready processor in its new phone, Apple can now start to move iOS in the direction of a hypervisor-controlled sandbox environment, perhaps using a technology like Microsoft's research OS Drawbridge.
    Here the operating system component of a VM is tailored to the application it is hosting – minimising the attack surface of each secure partition. Combined with a fingerprint sensor to identify users, Apple has the tools it needs to deliver biometric access control, allowing devices to support multiple users, with files and apps for one user hidden from another using hardware encryption.
This article in Apple Insider, is another good read.  It describes what the author thinks is Apple catching one of it's biggest competitors and the field flat footed.

-- Chris Claborne

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Clouds Bringing Suite Rain (pun intended)

Clouds Bringing Suite Rain (pun intended)

According to an IDG survey, top IT Mgt. continues to see value in cloud.  The following is a portion of David Linthicum’s recent article on the topic.

Three takeaways emerge from this survey:
  • Cloud computing does not have much of a downside, considering the largely positive response from this and other surveys.
  • The bubble that many predicted does not seem to be coming any time soon. Indeed, the use of cloud computing seems to be more of an evolution and slower growing style of technology adoption, not a mass movement.
  • Businesses are beginning to understand the true value that cloud computing can bring. This means the strategic use of business data and access to mission-critical enterprise applications they would not be able to afford, were it not for the cloud. That's a good development away from the initial focus on just cheaper infrastructure.


- Chris Claborne