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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Internet is Getting Slower

I heard this headline on my 11pm local TV news last night and figured I better do some checking to see what was going on.  Well it seems that they were right.  As of yesterday, the FCC ruled in favor (a 3 - 2 vote along political lines) of Obama's "Net Neutrality" regulations which will put the Internet back into the dark ages.

It basically imposes three new rules:

  • no blocking content -- this means that any content including streaming audio & video are fair game for any provider or customer.
  • no slowing down -- an ISP may not slow down particular sites or type of content due to the load it places on their networks.
  • no paid fast lanes -- ISP's may not create special high speed paths for customers willing to pay more.  All bandwidth must be equal...   
The reaction from the major ISP's has been extremely negative, especially about providing high speed services for customers willing to pay for it...  The ISP's are placing major infrastructure and network upgrades on hold pending on how this regulation all settles out.  While on the surface it seems beneficial, this is akin to California's  energy crisis of 2000 where the PUC forced providers who owned generation facilities to sell off their generation capabilities and buy power from a network of providers.  This instead of lowering prices created brownouts (from artificial shortages) and increase rates over 800%.

Here are four articles with much more detail on Net Neutrality:

Read these articles for yourself.  We need to do something about this ASAP probably with legislation that both parties can support and is veto proof until Obama leaves office.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Cloud as it Should Be

Yesterday I wrote a short blog about private cloud and IaaS which is where many vendors and IT executives are trying to divert their companies in terms of cloud initiatives.  This maintains IT staff jobs and vendors are able to sell hardware and middleware to the clients.

My view of cloud is complete and total outsourcing of hardware and the middleware or technical software required to support applications development such as operating systems, database management systems, messaging systems, etc.

To me the ideal cloud vendor provides a complete environment where the client need only install (or have someone) install their business applications and use them.  This means that the client need only provide a simple Internet connection for their employees to the cloud provider.

The cloud provider needs to provide and maintain all computing equipment, networking facilities, and software required to run and operate the facility.  They should also provide real time replication to at least one other site that meets disaster recovery requirements such as being geographically separated from points of risk (i.e. the same earthquake, tornado, hurricane, etc.).

The cloud provider should provide security services running sophisticated security monitoring services with a staff of experts to insure that the clients are fully protected.  Ideally they would provide ethical hackers to check the integrity of the client's applications and identify all security risks and assist in mitigation.

The cloud provider should be highly scalable to accommodate seasonal peak period processing on a excess capacity fee schedule that reverts to normal pricing after the peak period subsides.

The net benefit to large organizations is savings of millions of dollars in hardware, software, and the human resource cost of those people who do nothing but support your hardware, infrastructure, or software that runs your computers (operating systems and middleware).

It is not unusual to see a large company with over 100 people doing nothing but supporting computer hardware and providing no direct benefit to the organization.

Most organizations have disaster recovery facilities including equipment that is never used that sits and waits for a disaster.  Disaster Recovery is often treated like an insurance policy costing the organization millions of dollars per year.  This can be eliminated with cloud.

The ability to scale to meet peak seasonal processing can result in a huge savings since most company buy computers that have the capacity to handle peak periods and remain idle most of the year.  Imagine a company that has peak processing from mid-November to the end of December.  They could be wasting millions of dollars buying hardware that supports a 45 day period.  Note that while some vendors have a "capacity on demand" program, many do not allow you to turn off the capacity when you activate it and others charge huge fees to activate.

The downside is you will be laying off a large number of employees as you embrace cloud which will cause issues within your IT and Human Resources organizations, but often early retirement or transfer to other areas of the company can mitigate the blow.

Note one final benefit is improved risk mitigation.  You will very likely receive a higher quality of technical support from the cloud provider due to their need to support many clients and their ability to hire the very best employees that you may not be able to hire.

Choosing your cloud provider is the real key.  You must have a well funded, reliable company that will survive and grow vs others that may run the risk of going out of business, or being acquired.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Is Private Cloud or IaaS for You?

My involvement in corporate IT seems to be rapidly moving towards and embracing Cloud technology to assist my clients.  The deeper I get involved with Cloud, the more I see a great deal of confusion both by customers who do not understand what cloud is or should be, and by vendors who like to maintain the confusion to maximize their revenues.

A key issue today is vendors who attempt to sell cloud technology to the existing CIO's leveraging the idea that public cloud is a big risk and the customers should create their own private cloud.  IBM happens to be one of the biggest vendors of private cloud technology.  This is a logical outcropping of C-Level executives asking their CIO to look into Cloud computing.  Private Cloud (meaning that your company buys the equipment, installs, and operates it in your own private facilities) is a good way for IT to maintain control over the computer hardware and systems software used to support the companies IT initiatives.

There are some benefits to "private" cloud.  If you aggressively adopt cloud based technology, all of your applications move into the cloud and are no longer dependent upon proprietary hardware solutions.  Your application development teams or vendors that you purchase software must support the technology you have deployed in your cloud and there are certainly benefits of standardization.  In large companies, there are additional benefits using common hardware, software, and infrastructure.  Additionally if done right, you eliminate the costs of traditional Disaster Recovery by distributing your applications across multiple "peer level" data centers and balancing work across the data centers giving you DR by default.  No longer do you have idle equipment or resources waiting for a disaster to happen!

The downside of this approach is you still have a significant investment in computer hardware, systems software, and human resources to maintain the environment.

A second approach is IaaS which is popular with CIO's where their management team have pushed them to outsource the hardware to a third party vendor.  So lets say you contract with IBM who drives all of the computer equipment in IBM data centers that you access via the Internet.  Your IT organization is responsible for maintaining the system software deploying applications and supporting the environment.  The difference? You don't own the machines.

IaaS (InfraStructure as a Service) can be advantageous for companies with season peak processing periods.  You can contract for normal day to day processing levels and have a peak period option that charges you for the resources you use during the peak period and reverts back to normal when the peak period demand subsides.  This requires a vendor who has this type of capability as well and the knowledge and infrastructure to support it.

I recognize that these are popular "cloud" solutions, but not my favorite by far.  I much prefer the models that let your company focus only on your actual business applications and let the vendor handle all of the hardware, middleware, and infrastructure including security, replication, etc.

More on this soon.