Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Ten Good Cloud Reads from 2012

At the risk (nay certainty) of excluding any number of worthwhile pieces, here's a list of nine good posts and articles (plus one book) about cloud computing from the past year. Obviously, any list like this will be a bit arbitrary but these are the links that jumped out at me as I reviewed my saved bookmarks from the past year.

The Synthesized Cloud: Hybrid Service Models by my colleague @jameslabocki discusses why using both platform and infrastructure elements is critical to maintaining flexibility and evolving to an optimized IT infrastructure. (This post by Andi on a similar theme is also great.)

Taking a step back, what is the purpose of having separate and distinct cloud computing models? Why couldn’t the models be combined to allow organizations to use elements of each based on their needs? One of the benefits of cloud computing is the ability for organizations to reach the highest level of standardization possible while increasing reuse. If this is the case, then it should be a goal to provide organizations with the ability to utilize not just a hybrid cloud, but a hybrid service model – one in which elements of IaaS could be combined with elements of a PaaS. By realizing a synthesis of IaaS and PaaS service models organizations could leverage the benefits of cloud computing more widely and realize the benefits even in what are often considered legacy, or traditional applications.

The Top 6 Disaster Recover Lessons from Sandy by Symform. Short and sweet but a nice summary.

Sandy demonstrated that many businesses don’t really think about disaster recovery (DR) plans or fully implement a true DR architecture until they have experienced a disaster or catastrophic data loss. Often that’s too late or makes it very expensive to get their systems up and running and their data restored. Let Sandy be a wake-up call—severe weather incidents are becoming more common, so many companies will likely have future use for DR preparations.

PaaS-O-Nomics 101by Gartner's Eric Knipp is an outstanding reflection on how enterprise PaaS could play an important part in accelerating application development.

The story of platforms the last decade is one of increased developer productivity. Its the main reason why we have Ruby on Rails, Groovy on Grails, Node.js, and on and on. It’s why we have cross-platform development tools like Appcelerator, Sencha, PhoneGap, and on and on. It’s why we pay certain developers more than others (well I guess not everybody does that – which is a big mistake but that’s a conversation for another time). You know in your gut that a highly productive developer isn’t just a little bit more valuable than an average developer – he’s ten times more valuable than the average developer (and more recent research puts this even higher). Productivity is the single most important area of cost optimization for application development today. The PaaS value proposition is almost completely focused on productivity. It is a match made in heaven.

Survivor: CIO Edition by CA's @andimann stands out as one of the better pieces to consider the changing role of the CIO.

Certainly there's a movement afoot in many organizations to bypass IT. And certainly the CIO's role is changing. It has to. But that doesn't mean the office is going away-at least, not universally. What is true is that those CIOs who are not adding value to their organizations are definitely at risk, because companies today are quick to eliminate positions that don't add value. And that goes double for people leading IT organizations today.

Private cloud-public cloud schism is a meaningless distraction. A short piece by @DavidLinthicum but it gets right to the very pertinent point.

The focus needs to be on the architecture and the right-fitting enabling technology, including both private and public cloud technology, and not gratuitous opinions. There should be no limits on the technology solution patterns you can apply. If that means private, public, or a mix of both, that's fine as long as you do your requirements homework and can validate that you have chosen the right solution.

Rethinking IT in the cloud computing era. Another good read about how the cloud is changing IT from @jamesurquhart of Enstratus. 

In the era of cloud computing, what the business requires of a central IT department is coordination of the application system — aiding the various application owners with what has to happen for their software to be a “good citizen” within the computing environment as a whole.

The 2nd Tenet of Hybrid Clouds: Hybrid is About Portability by another Red Hat colleague, @bryanche, talks about the multiple dimensions of portability.

In a hybrid cloud, you need to be able to manage your applications consistently across diverse, heterogenous infrastructure.  If you can’t, then you can’t bring the benefits of cloud to your entire enterprise IT.  Conversely, if you can do this, then you can break down all the silos you have built up over time and move towards a cohesive, dynamic, and agile hybrid cloud environment.  And, the only way to build such a hybrid cloud is to make sure that you are portable across a hybrid cloud in the four dimensions of computing, data and services, programming models, and applications. 

Why Amazon Web Services (AWS) Is the Best Thing To Happen To Security & Why I Desperately Want It To Succeed by @beaker (Christofer Hoff), argues for new and better security models wherever the applications physically live.

Frankly, enterprise (network) security design patterns are a crutch.  The screened-subnet DMZ patterns with perimeters is outmoded. As Gunnar Peterson eloquently described, our best attempts at “security” over time are always some variation of firewalls and SSL.  This is the sux0r.  Importantly, this is not stated to blame anyone or suggest that a bad job is being done, but rather that a better one can be.

Open APIs: The Fifth Pillar of Modern IT Openness by 451 Group's @ripcitylyman (Jay Lyman) covers how open APIs have emerged as an important aspect of openness in the context of clouds.

The other point is that while customers are typically interested in open source software for flexibility, cost savings, mitigating vendor lock-in, performance, ROI or other reasons, my conversations with both vendors and customers indicate much of the integration in the cloud centers on the openness of the APIs.

Hybrid Cloud for Dummies by Judith Hurwitz, Marcia Kaufman, Dr. Fern Halper, and Dan Kirsch is a good no-nonsense primer for hybrid cloud computing. One of the things I especially liked about it was the focus on applications and application services, which are ultimately what most businesses care about—as opposed to the underlying infrastructure. (Disclaimer: Judith and Marcia, who I've known well since my analyst days, interviewed me for the book.)

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