Demise of the desktop [continued…]

February 8, 2010

Some of you may remember one of my recent blog posts “2010: Demise of the desktop?” well, a recent report by business consultancy Deloitte, published in Computer Weekly, supports my sentiment. The article states that companies will increasingly allow their workers to choose their own devices to link into the corporate network. Interesting to note it also supports the idea of a self-maintenance or ‘car allowance’ type agreement that will help to drive adoption.

http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2010/01/19/239999/Employees-will-choose-their-own-computers-in-2010.htm

I think adoption of Hosted Virtual Desktop (HVD) will see organisations drive applications through web services or a common architecture ‘shop window’ like a browser. There is also the possibility to use a terminal server or desktop emulation software to ensure the processing stays within the organisations data centre. Exciting stuff!

However, the first hurdle in any move toward HVD is the perceived risk associated with loss of control. These risks include; security of your company’s network and data, as well as the means of accessing your company’s electronic assets; after all the information contained within these networks is the life blood of any organisation?

So how does a company lay down enough governance to protect itself? Well, one way of course is for organisations to continue to dictate security standards i.e. making it compulsory for staff to run Anti Virus (AV) software. But moving to HVD definitely needs wider consideration – it’s a potential mine field of regulation and risk. But once standards and policies are in place, I believe there are real business benefits to be enjoyed.

So what would your top three considerations for governance in providing the ability for you to adopt the notion of employee ‘self provision’ for access to corporate compute resources?

I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to use my Apple laptop for work or maybe in a few years even an iPad!

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Snowed in but logged on!

January 12, 2010

Well what a start to the year! It seems like everyone has been experiencing some sort of extreme weather! In most cases it’s proved a challenge for people to get to work. Last Wednesday, just like most of the UK, I was stuck at home; snowed in – car unable to move. Those with a 4×4 may have found themselves in a privileged position – able to at least get out of their drive!

Over the last week you could not ignore the continued weather reports in the media. Twitter streams such as #uksnow also provided instant updates on the weather throughout the UK.

Even our friends in Oz have been affected by extreme weather with Melbourne experiencing its hottest temperatures since 1908!

So how was it for you? How prepared was your company in either providing access to computer systems or alternative offices/transport during this peak of extreme weather? Lucky for me, my company has excellent plans in place for such events and all systems are securely available through the internet – so I was ok working from home. The cogs continued to turn; our operational teams were all in place, our data centres were manned, everything was working as normal.

However, not everyone is as fortunate. If you look at a report published after last year’s snow by the federation of small business (FSB), one in five people (a total of 6.4 million workers) could not make it to work – denting the UK’s economy at an estimated £1.2billion! Reports on the front pages of some news papers suggest that this year the cost is expected to be ten times higher! So how can you keep your business up and running and ensure that not extreme weather conditions don’t affect you?

This question leads me back to my recent post on hosted virtual desktop (HVD) [see the demise of the desktop]. The opportunities discussed in that post empower staff to access your systems anytime, anywhere. Therefore, HVD provides an effective solution to the issues of extreme weather and lost productivity.

Of course, you would need to have access to the technologies that enable you to ‘swing’ your IT and provide an ‘access anywhere’ service to necessary stakeholders e.g. employees and suppliers. But as long as employees have a half decent internet connection at home, you would be able to continue to deliver service to your customers…

In 2010 more organisations should start to pilot technology like HVD within a cloud/Infrastructure-as-a-Service … surely extreme weather alone is now a serious case for deployment? What’s your thoughts?


Cloud Computing & Data Portability: Technology (Part One)

December 4, 2009

“With hundreds of terabytes in the cloud — you are no longer portable and you’re not going to be portable, so get over it,”*

This thought grabbed my attention… the idea that when you store a lot of data within a ‘cloud’, I mean terabytes… that you’re then stuck in that cloud and can not migrate, port or replicate to a another cloud provider (regardless of whether they provide private or public clouds), you can’t even revert to your own private cloud! In some ways I concur with this – if you’re running within a cloud you’re just buying virtual machines and the storage presentation to the virtual machine is so intertwined that it’s hard to unravel…

So this is where I think a private cloud offering gives you the assurance that you’re still able to migrate, port or replicate from your own data centre into the cloud and vice versa back out of the cloud.  The technology itself is very important, your provider needs to pick the right mix of technology so that you always have the option to migrate or move away from that specific provider if you decide to move your data elsewhere…

Anyway back to the data… so lets take an example of how you can migrate in and migrate out utilising migration technology through replication… if the ‘store’ service in a private cloud platform utilises multi-vendor virtualisation technology it can support a larger quantity of vendors arrays. This means multiple arrays from multiple vendors can be supported through a multi protocol fabric.

An example of how this could work for a customer migrating to the cloud would be the following… btw this is in the roadmap for 2010 (POC has already been completed with some great results!!) 

It’s possible to deploy ‘virtualisation appliances’ into a customer’s data centre, enabling the customer to have a virtual storage platform and giving them a ‘single view’ of their storage. The customer will have to accept some change(s) but will not have to make their current IT investment redundant thus prolonging the life of their current storage assets – providing ROI and TCO in a single proposition for their management! Once virtualised, it’s possible to replicate the data into a storage cloud. (This is already up and running in our cloud today!)

This strategy provides a stepped approach for migration to cloud services, the first step is ‘cloud recovery’, then you begin to migrate production services as and when the business has seen the benefits and trusts the ‘cloud’ to run it’s mission critical applications!

So already you can see some benefits – when you want to move out of the cloud you reverse the process… see cloud can be portable!

* See article full article here


Cloud Computing Security: Multi-tenancy Vulnerabilities

December 1, 2009

I’ve heard a lot being said on the subject of cloud security, particularly over concerns with multi-tenancy. Multi-tenancy is where your OS/Apps run on a single piece of hardware or move around on multiple hardware systems within a virtual machine. The key concern here lies in the fact that many other customers use exactly the same hardware or multiple systems, thus multiple virtual machines amongst multiple customers… for an enterprise customer this posses a real security threat.

Picked up this article a few weeks ago, it’s an interesting read on the subject of multi-tenancy and discusses potential security concerns in more detail: http://people.csail.mit.edu/tromer/cloudsec/

I believe multi-tenancy services and ‘public’ cloud architecture do have a place. These types of cloud services built the foundations for cloud computing, pushing the boundaries and making ‘cloud’ the latest IT buzz word for 2009. The model provides the fundamentals for the flexibility to buy on demand computing! However, enterprises have a right to be concerned with public, multi-tenancy cloud models – after all your technology supports the business intelligence fundamental to your stability, growth and sustainability. It’s therefore important to do your research when you look at these multi-tenancy services:

  • Is the provider SAS 70 certified?
  • Can you see the report?
  • Do they offer a penetration test on your set-up within the cloud before it goes live?
  • Can you have a platform that is dedicated to you but still benefit from the virtualisation features of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) AND still have a dedicated hardware platform that runs the virtualisation software to enable the provision of virtual machine within this DEDICATED resource?
  • Can you have a dedicated ‘virtual firewall’ that has your own rule base so you can command what you want to let in and what you want let out?(… this would be great and possibly alleviate a number of concerns that the CIO/CTO/CXO have.) and to enable VPN (Virtual Private Network) services from either client or your firewall at your office(s)
  • Can you know where your data is and can you have it encrypted? But that’s another subject for another time…