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Look, a Bird! HP’s Acquisition of Eucalyptus Suggests ADHD

The business world was stunned when it was announced on Thursday that HP was buying Eucalyptus, a cloud provider that offers private clouds integrated with Amazon Web Services. Eucalyptus had been in the news earlier in 2014 because CEO Marten Mickos suddenly switched gears and, after years of criticism of OpenStack, said that his company would support the technology. With the acquisition, we now know the source behind Mickos’ change of heart. HP has been strongly committed to developing the OpenStack cloud. The cost of the deal has been concealed by both companies, but sources suggest Eucalyptus, which had raised $55 million, was purchased for under $100 million.

This is the first major acquisition by HP since a terrible purchase of Autonomy. In the case of Autonomy, HP overvalued the company, as acknowledged by both organizations. Since then, the two firms have turned to publicity and legal battles, with HP arguing that Autonomy’s accounting was less than straightforward while Autonomy asserts that HP’s analysis of the company was poor, with the overvaluation rooted in “HP’s own recklessness and not due to any accounting improprieties” (Wall Street Journal).

That Autonomy acquisition was not a good move for shareholder confidence, and neither is the Eucalyptus deal.

HP & Eucalyptus – Everything Must Go!

Ben Kepes calls the Eucalyptus deal a “bizarre fire sale,” noting that numerous reports suggested that the startup was low on funds and had been unable to achieve significant growth. It was vying against OpenStack, and although Mickos is an incredibly well-respected top executive, he wasn’t necessarily in the right place at the right time with this startup.

The purchase of under $100 million based on $55 million of seed money is not a strong return. Kepes considers the acquisition to be a non-substantive “‘acqui-hire.’” According to Arik Hesseldahl of Re/code, this purchase – tiny in comparison to the $11 billion Autonomy deal – requires Eucalyptus CEO Mickos to become a senior vice president in control of the Hewlett-Packard cloud.

More Signs That HP is Suffering From Mental Disorder

Kepes details the reasoning behind the acquisition from the HP perspective, although he is obviously not impressed by the decision:

In May, HP announced that its cloud service was now called Helion. Kepes viewed this as a “lick of paint,” a superficial effort at rebranding and re-publicizing an already available OpenStack product that was getting insufficient attention. HP said at the time that it would invest $1 billion through 2016 to beef up its cloud hosting environment. That appeared to many like a “What about me?” move, a follow-up to similar cloud building investments declared by IBM and Cisco. It was not news that HP was serious about the cloud. It had announced in the past that it was “all in” with the technology. The company’s main problem, per Kepes, was strategic schizophrenia within the organization, resulting in poor performance: “[Y]ou’d have to be wearing rose tinted glasses to suggest that [HP] is really a meaningful cloud player.”

Fast-forward to the Eucalyptus announcement, and we see more disorganization. In Kepes’ view, the HP cloud division would appear much more coherent and reasonable if it had either maintained its effort with its original cloud product or focused on the assumedly “new and improved” Helion model. Instead, we are now presented with the Eucalyptus acquisition, turning the HP cloud into a “Frankenstein-like monster,” by Kepes’ assessment, framing the tech giant as a mad scientist. To be less harsh, perhaps HP is simply organizationally diagnosable with ADHD.

Kepes convincingly draws attention to the leadership turnover in HP’s cloud business. Biri Singh was in charge until he left in 2013, replaced by Martin Fink. Now Mickos is the main guy, positioned immediately under CEO Meg Whitman.

As Kepes acknowledges, Mickos brings solid credibility as a cloud thought leader, and Eucalyptus is a great project. However, it will likely suffocate at HP like similar initiatives that came before it. Kepes references a quote from an HP executive about the role of Eucalyptus at HP, essentially how it will be integrated with the company’s current OpenStack ecosystem: “There’s going to be a lot of strategic discussions we have to have about that[.]” Cart before the horse? Action before thought? I’m no business psychiatrist, but it sure looks like ADHD to me.

Plus, it’s a little weird – quite obviously – to have a long-time and outspoken critic of OpenStack take over control of your OpenStack cloud. Look, a bird!

Choosing a Cloud with Predictability

At Superb, we appreciate that some cloud service providers suffer from mental disorders, and we feel incredibly empathic for their conditions. Meanwhile, we deliver a consistent and predictable cloud as an alternative. Guaranteeing resources and performance every day and every moment, we take the confusion out of the cloud. Chat with one of our representatives now.

By Kent Roberts

Image Credit: The Guardian

Government and Business Agrees on Private Cloud

Many enterprises are turning away from the public cloud and toward a private one, or opting for a hybrid cloud to take advantage of public and private features.

A recent survey of more than 2000 CIOs of large organizations found that growth of the private cloud outpaces that of the public cloud now, a trend expected to continue for half a decade. While public cloud revenue has increased 20% YOY (year over year), the private cloud is expected to expand between 40 and 50% through 2018. Allan Krans, the analyst responsible for the study, said that the private cloud will continue growing faster than the public one “at least for the next five years.”

Similarly, a Gartner report released in 2013 suggested that the hybrid cloud is increasing in popularity, with more than 50% of businesses expected to have one in place by 2017. Perhaps needless to say, the reason that hybrid clouds are becoming more prevalent is that businesses want some of their data to be in a private environment rather than “the cloud” as it’s typically understood, the public cloud.

Despite the reasonable argument that one day – once public clouds have been integrated with open standards and security has become more universally robust – the private and hybrid models will become obsolete, at this point the non-public offerings are booming. Enterprises in both the public and private sectors are adapting private cloud strategies. The State of Ohio and Honda are two examples of organizations that have deployed private clouds within the last 18 months. Their stories help illustrate enterprise needs met by this type of infrastructure.

Buckeye State Goes Private

The State of Ohio streamlined its IT systems, cutting some of its technology personnel and reducing its overhead, as outlined in an August InformationWeek report.

The sheer numbers give you a sense why those familiar with the Ohio system saw a need to downsize. At its height, the state’s various agencies were using 32 data centers and 9000 servers running through 14 different networks.

The shift toward a private cloud started 12 years ago, when Governor Bob Taft found out that it was impossible to email all department chiefs simultaneously because there were almost 20 independent email systems. Although the problem was obvious in 2002, it wasn’t until 2011 that state officials started discussing an overhaul. At that point, the CIO for the state, Stuart Davis, recommended to Gov. John Kasich that Ohio’s IT underpinnings would need to be completely rebuilt.

In March 2013, Ohio started a complete redesign of its primary datacenter (DC) in its capital city, Columbus. The DC had been built for the IT machines of the 80s. Housed in a five-story building, it had hit a ceiling on its power capabilities due to the climate-control needs of various cyber condominiums operated by individual agencies. Thousands of square feet remained completely unused other than, absurdly, as storage for holiday decorations.

Twelve months later, the State of Ohio Computing Center (SOCC) was unveiled. The SOCC would serve as the headquarters for Ohio’s private cloud. The Technology Board, a committee formed to manage IT for the state, was charged with migrating applications from the old data centers and introducing the shared services model to agency directors.

By deploying a private cloud, the State of Ohio was able to become much more efficient with its infrastructure, organizing all its disparate systems into one cohesive whole.

Cars in the Cloud

Beyond organization, private cloud is also appreciated by many for its collaborative potential. That benefit was the key selling point for Honda when they chose a private cloud to integrate their network of suppliers in 2013. As seen with Ohio, it also offered the carmaker a chance to cut costs.

The Honda supply network is massive and spread across the globe, including over 10,000 suppliers in more than 50 nations. The decision to move to the private cloud originated in 2011, when the firm started revising the way that it develops, procures, and manufactures to foster better communication and improve consistency. In order for that communication be meaningful, it’s necessary to share computer-aided design (CAD) files, which can be enormous.

The use of a private cloud allowed Honda to create a uniform worldwide environment that seamlessly met its security needs. It was able to significantly increase the rate at which large systems were deployed, in some cases by as much as 90%. Meanwhile, the cost of operation for the supplier network was reduced approximately 30%.

Private Cloud for a Competitive Edge

Mikiya Fujita, the head of system service for Honda globally, noted that the positive impact of migrating the supplier network to the cloud was seen not just in collaboration but in process standardization, “while slashing the cost and time of new system deployment.” Ohio benefited in the same ways with its private cloud. What about you? At Superb, we guarantee better cloud performance than the competition.

By Kent Roberts

Image Credit: DC Group Inc.

Panel: Private Cloud Will Melt, Like the Wicked Witch, in Public

When we discuss the cloud, we aren’t talking about one entity but a technology that creates computing environments using broadly distributed resources for more sophisticated levels of energy efficiency, performance, and reliability. The various categories of cloud – public, private, and hybrid – grew from competing business interests: simply put, saving money vs. having the strongest possible security in place. Public is cheap, private allows for greater security by isolating the data, and hybrid combines public and private into one integrated package.

Many companies are grappling with the various types of cloud, figuring out the situation that best meet their needs. The growing consensus is that hybrid is entering a boom, with Gartner predicting that half of large enterprises will have active hybrid clouds by 2017. Since hybrid is a combination of public and private, the Gartner fortune-telling implies that the three basic types of cloud are here to stay.

Strangely enough, some cloud experts argue that the private cloud will go the way of the Wicked Witch, screaming, “I’m melting,” as it disappears into the public cloud. Joe McKendrick of Forbes recently reported on a panel sponsored by BrightTalk that was organized to help businesses compare the public, private, and hybrid models. The most noteworthy comment, a point of consensus among the panelists, was that the private cloud will gradually become irrelevant.

Were the Panelists Drunk?

At present, there is no indication that the panelists – one of them an executive for Hewlett-Packard – were intoxicated during the webinar. It’s more likely that they are simply diverging from the confident hosting industry mantra that if it’s cloud-related, the only direction is up. Albeit, the panel perspective seems to disagree with many industry analyses, such as a July 2014 report from Sharon Gaudin for Computerworld.

Gaudin spoke with Allan Krans of Technology Business Research (TBR), an industry analysis firm that conducted a study to measure the adoption rates of private and public clouds. After surveying more than 2000 enterprise IT decision-makers, TBR revealed its findings that while the overall amount invested in the public cloud has risen 20% since the same time last year, the private cloud appears likely to expand between 40 and 50% annually for a few years.

Between 2010 and 2013, the private cloud market exploded 300%, from $8 billion to $32 billion. The TBR survey suggests that it will continue to expand rapidly over the next five years (although at a less breakneck pace), more than doubling to $69 billion by 2018. Krans emphasized that the private cloud should experience stronger growth than its public cousin “at least for the next five years.”

The Computerworld report and the Forbes report, both from the last 60 days, seem to be at odds.

Is Fear Turning Into Strategy?

As it turns out, the perspective of the panelists may not be that outlandish, at least as a general long-range trend (following a few years of continued growth). Chris Nolan, in a September article for Data Center Knowledge, argues that the privacy and security of the public cloud are much more advanced than they were a few years ago, citing a Gartner study on Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) that reports “public cloud has come a long way.”

Nolan remarks that both public and private clouds are gaining wider acceptance at the enterprise level. He mentions that many enterprises use both types of cloud (either separately or in a hybrid architecture), but that almost 3 out of 10 companies were only using the cloud in its public formulation. The flexibility and cost-effectiveness of the public cloud, says Nolan, give it major sway over CIO budgets.

Nolan comments that although security is a key consideration for any large organization, CIOs are becoming more comfortable with the cloud: “The debate has shifted from fear to strategy.” He also notes that IT executives may be embracing the cloud, but they aren’t doing so passively. They are incorporating apps from outside parties that allow them to manage their clouds appropriately, while maintaining a strategic focus.

Wait, is the Cloud Melting or Not?

Peter Mansell of Hewlett-Packard, one of the BrightTalk panelists, clarified his argument that the private cloud will one day be obsolete: it’s not a trend that will be immediately noticeable. Mansell said that over the next two years, the private cloud will continue to grow due to a lack of standard protocols and expectations: “you can’t get that structure at the moment.” Currently, Mansell notes, there are still major disparities between the private and public cloud models, disparities that will likely evaporate in the future.

Concurring with Mansell, Jessica Twentyman said that the parameters of public and private clouds are starting to intersect and overlap in “quite confusing ways.” She stressed that the development and maintenance of open standards “remains paramount” to data migration from one cloud environment to another.

As it turns out, the private cloud is really not going anywhere, at least not for many years. Since the fully standardized public cloud does not yet exist, private clouds and hybrid clouds will continue to gain ground (as indicated by Gartner and Technology Business Research). The future may be confusing, but the cloud doesn’t have to be: claim your performance guarantee cloud now.

By Kent Roberts

Image Credit: FunTV

Don’t Leave Your Tinkertoys to Fend for Themselves

We’ve all been there. It’s late at night, and we’re using our company’s credit card to purchase a Jumbo Tinkertoy set from Amazon for $281.56. All right, fine, maybe that’s not what we do late at night, but we can all appreciate the purposes served by the different Tinkertoy components. What use would the rods be without the spools? The different types of Tinkertoy pieces allow for a building that has structural integrity. That same type of integrity is needed to design a hybrid cloud, so just the same, you are going to need the spools. Cloud providers have created tools to connect various cloud services – the “spools” – so that the disparities between each one don’t result in an unwieldy IT environment.

What is a Hybrid Cloud?

The hybrid cloud is getting a huge amount of attention in 2014. A Gartner analysis conducted last year argued that 50% of large enterprises would have hybrid clouds deployed by 2017.

What is the hybrid cloud? In a September 7 report for Business 2 Community, Web developer Dario Zadro noted that general discussion of cloud computing has tended to center around public clouds. In a public cloud situation, computing services are made available by a hosting provider to a sizable volume of account holders. Probably the most obvious impact of the public cloud is that it has given SMB’s the ability to experience the same scale of performance that was previously the realm of large enterprises with sophisticated arrays of dedicated machines.

Although a public cloud is incredibly cost-effective, security can only be so strong when numerous organizations are all accessing the same servers. Why then did the commander of US Cyber Command, Gen. Keith Alexander, support the expansion of cloud computing within the Department of Defense in 2011? The Department of Defense is not using the cloud within a public setting, but within a private atmosphere. With that setup, the Pentagon is able to take advantage of the speed and adaptability of cloud technology alongside security parameters they established themselves.

It should be immediately obvious that both of these two types of cloud have their strong and weak suits. You don’t always need the extreme security precautions available with a private cloud, but for sensitive user data and mission-critical files, it might make sense. The hybrid cloud is the truly nebulous middle option. You can mix and match public and private clouds into one complete hybrid cloud infrastructure. It’s easy to see why this system could appeal to a wide spectrum of businesses, of any size.

Problems Faced by CIOs & How Integration Tools Help

The role of the CIO has changed rapidly, in pace with the rise of cloud computing. IBM’s Frank De Gilio commented in an August Wired article that CIOs used to be charged with setting up internal computer resources for the company’s departments and maintaining everything within a specified budget. Although the budgetary constraints of that task could sometimes be challenging, it’s now become just one piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

In the current climate, a CIO experiences some departments choosing an external cloud service for their computing budget, to benefit from the performance and low cost. De Gilio argues that providers of public cloud environments aren’t as concerned with security and compliance, so they can provide faster and more robust solutions at a lower price than is available through the CIO.

As would be expected, piecemeal outsourcing of IT can create complications: “that’s when things really start to get strained.” The department turns away from the CIO to an outside party to fulfill the computing need. If anything goes wrong – such as downtime or failure, a security breach, or lack of compatibility between the public cloud and the company’s internal environment – then the issue returns squarely to the lap of the CIO for problem-solving.

In the age of the hybrid cloud, the CIO will be able to determine what makes sense to handle internally (or as a private cloud at a third party) and what makes sense to place in a public cloud setting. Furthermore, De Gilio stresses that anything external to the company should undergo rigorous vetting to answer the following three questions:

  • Is the service right for the department’s needs?
  • Can the environment be painlessly integrated with the current system?
  • Does the solution meet the overall demands of the organization?

De Gilio then goes on to tout the IBM product BlueMix, which essentially is an integration tool. That option will be especially appealing to large enterprises. SMB’s will more likely find themselves considering hybrid clouds that are provided fully by a third party. In those cases, the integration technology is built into the hybrid package.

The key point here is that the various cloud services used by a company won’t always integrate well with a business’s internal environment. You can either solve that problem with software that allows you to connect your various pieces together, or you can contract with a hosting service that specializes in the creation, maintenance, and security of hybrid clouds: Superb Internet. Talk to us today about a fully integrated cloud solution.

By Kent Roberts

Image Credit: Waly1039

Best Way to Protect Data: Live Inside Your Hybrid Cloud

We all feel ourselves getting sucked into the soul of technology at times, the glow of the screen summoning us into the light, accompanied by a siren song of zeros and ones – that, like the ominous notes of Igor Stravinsky in the theme song of Jaws, seem to pull us into a windowless digital abyss in which, rather than our avatars representing us, we represent our avatars. Sure, getting 100% of your life energy vacuumed into the Matrix may seem unsettling, but as it turns out, a recent study suggests that you want to be as close as possible to some parts of your hybrid cloud.

Debutante Ball for the Hybrid Cloud

Apparently the hybrid cloud deserves an introduction, as indicated by the title of an August 18 Forbes piece, “Get Ready for Hybrid Cloud” (as if it hasn’t been a standard IT setup for years). Well, maybe an introduction is in order. The concept is certainly becoming much more prominent this year, with Gartner predicting that almost half of large enterprises will have active hybrid clouds by 2017.

OK… what is it? Richardson Seroter, writing in Forbes, describes a hybrid solution as a composite of two different choices that allow us to experience the positive elements of both (such as hybrid cars, which combine the sustainability of electric power with the convenience of gasoline refueling). In the case of a hybrid cloud, a business is – in most cases – combining the benefits of a private cloud (proximity, control, security) with the benefits of a public cloud (cost-effectiveness, speed, flexibility). A community cloud can also be part of the mix, according to the US government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Not everyone agrees on the governmental description above, though, reports Seroter. James Staten of Forrester defines a hybrid cloud as a cloud service that is “connected to any other corporate resource.” Staten’s picture is incredibly broad: it seems to suggest that I could claim I am running a hybrid cloud because iCloud is installed on my laptop. However, it is fair to say that even industry experts are still figuring out exactly what a hybrid cloud is. If anything, it involves slicing and dicing the various cloud technologies to meet custom needs of companies, as opposed to full commitment to one data model, infrastructural architecture, and/or location.

Why Did I Bold That Last Part?

Location, location, location: it’s a good reason not to buy swampland from a telemarketer. Heck, if you’re going to live in Florida, why not choose a neighborhood that isn’t overrun by flesh-eating reptiles? You know what, though? Location isn’t just about avoiding alligators. It can also be critical for data, according to a September 2 report by Wikibon CTO David Floyer outlined in Silicon Angle.

Floyer recommends that the location of an application should be determined by the location of data in order for a hybrid cloud to perform as well as it possibly can. Studies by Wikibon have revealed that, despite the chatter that hybrid cloud is more expensive due to its sophistication, the mix-and-match model offers the “highest value” for large enterprises and some midsize organizations. It can be more cost-effective to store huge applications on-site, says Floyer, but the key concern when creating your hybrid cloud is that applications reside physically close to the data they need to access. Location, location, location.

To make his point, Floyer notes that a common method for constructing hybrid clouds has been to maintain mission-critical data on-premise and host applications that sometimes use that data in the cloud. Floyer thinks that approach is unwise: you don’t want applications to have to travel a long way to get the data but to have it directly available – especially for cases in which there is a delay in the transfer of updated data between various locations.

So Where Do You Put Everything?

Rather than letting the nature of apps determine their location, look to the data to determine location, says Floyer. What this means is different for different scenarios. Software as a Service (SaaS) makes sense in some situations, as does a cloud hosted architecture through a provider such as Superb Internet. Floyer also emphasizes that some organizations can benefit from moving mission-critical applications and data to a colocation center, with hyperscale capabilities and immediate access to data streaming through the public Internet.

A major strength of this approach that will not be immediately evident to all readers is the effect on enterprise employees: by carefully constructing a hybrid cloud so that automation is functioning at its highest capacity, you allow those in your IT department to liberate themselves from mundane repetition and turn toward innovation: creating an app that performs all their work for them, so that they can watch reruns of MASH all day, because they love Alan Alda.

Here’s why you specifically want to work with us at Superb to design your hybrid cloud: we take the confusion out of the cloud, and we make our customers happy. Check out these quick ratings.

By Kent Roberts

Image Credit: Squarespace

Cloud Service Provider Calls Hybrid Cloud a “Halfway House”

Many organizations want to combine the two major types of cloud into one combined system. The resulting infrastructure, called a hybrid cloud, allows businesses to process and store more sensitive data within a private cloud environment, while benefiting from the performance and cost-effectiveness of the public cloud for data that is less vulnerable. TechRadar recently spoke with Sarah Lahav, CEO of Software as a Service company SysAid Technologies, about the advantages and disadvantages of the hybrid cloud.

Below is an overview of the discussion, enhanced by statistical highlights and other information from additional sources.

What is the Hybrid Cloud?

Lahav explained that by combining public and private clouds, a hybrid infrastructure allows organizations not just to treat data differently (based on its level of sensitivity) but to manage some resources on-premise and some through a hosting service, if desired (although hosting services can be used for both the public and private components). She also mentioned that the hybrid model is well-suited to companies that are interested in transitioning to the cloud but are unsure about its security capabilities.

The hybrid cloud is not just a popular topic among cloud service providers but is widely expected to be the accepted IT system of the future. In fact, a major market research company forecast last year that half of large enterprises will have hybrid clouds employed by 2017. The prediction is the subject of an investigative study compiled by Thomas Bittman and published by Gartner on October 1, 2013. Bittman determined that almost 50% of large enterprises are currently running private clouds, with a total of 89% expected to have one operating by the end of 2014.

What is the Hybrid Cloud’s Greatest Benefit?

When asked for the strongest advantage of a hybrid architecture, Lahav noted that the hybrid cloud is a “halfway house”: it allows organizations to migrate some of their data to a public cloud system while keeping their mission-critical data in private setups (either on-site or through third-party hosting providers).

Lahav reiterated that the hybrid cloud works well when companies are not prepared to use the public cloud for all their computing systems. Any sensitive data such as login information, customer account details, and proprietary code can be contained within a private cloud, while the public cloud is used for email and other less sensitive data. Lahav recommended the hybrid model specifically for its flexibility.

What is Its Biggest Disadvantage?

If you are in an organization that requires security compliance, meeting guidelines can become more complicated when the hybrid model is used. You can segregate your data within a hybrid system so that the sensitive information that must meet compliance parameters is sequestered in the private cloud portion, meeting whatever compliance parameters you need. However, if you’re concerned with meeting security guidelines for all of your hybrid cloud data, the process can be trickier since you are dealing with a more complex system, said Lahav.

What Other Factors Attract Companies to the Hybrid Cloud?

Lahav mentioned that there are a spectrum of reasons why the hybrid cloud is chosen by so many organizations: it offers an almost infinite storage capacity, is designed to scale quickly and seamlessly, can be customized for whatever needs, can be deployed much faster than legacy systems, and is cost-effective. She also noted that using a new vendor as part of a hybrid cloud on a trial basis – essentially connecting one part of your system to their service for testing purposes – gives you an opportunity to experience the provider’s technical support.

Technical support is often lacking with cloud providers, according to a report on June 24, 2014, by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). The report, based on a survey of 415 IT executives in the US, Europe, and Asia Pacific, revealed that support is the biggest complaint of American cloud users, while performance was listed as the biggest downside by users in other regions.

Performance was not limited as an issue to countries outside the United States, though. The statistics on performance were significantly stronger for those customers who used a VMware system – a standard virtualization software used by hosting companies – than for those using three major public clouds. When customers were asked if they had experienced failures or stalling, the statistics were as follows:

  • Amazon Web Services – 57%
  • Microsoft Azure – 56%
  • Rackspace – 63%
  • VMware–33%.

Clearly from the experience of these 400 IT professionals, it’s far more reliable to connect to a cloud created with independent virtualization software – properly configured and monitored by a cloud service provider – than it is to use one of the prominent public cloud systems.

No More Confusion

One of the other top complaints of cloud providers was related to lack of clarity: 38% of customers worldwide said they didn’t feel completely clear on pricing. The dearth of support creates additional confusion for many: poor support contracts “often take customers by surprise,” said the EMA paper. For your hybrid cloud, choose a vendor that takes the confusion out of the cloud: Superb Internet.

By Kent Roberts

Image Credit: Virtualization Practice