Tag Archives | cloud computing

Goodby Google Docs, hello Google Drive

Twitter is alive with comments now that people have actually read the Google Drive transition notes. Google Docs will be gone be the end of the summer, replaced by Google Drive. A few key points:

Google Drive is being gradually rolled out. We expect to finish the transition from the Google Documents List to Google Drive by late summer (2012).

In the earliest stages, Google Drive will be available as an “opt-in” upgrade. It will later become the default web interface, but you will be able to opt-out if you prefer more time to transition from the existing Google Documents List. In the final stages of the transition, users will no longer be able to opt out and Google Drive on the web will replace the current Google Documents List interface for all users.

Early opinions are mixed. On the plus side, Google Drive is an upgrade to Google Docs that comes with extra storage. On the negative, it’s not clear how well Google Drive will play with other apps like DropBox and SkyDrive, a concern we reported in an earlier post.

Using Google Drive you are still able to create docs, share them, search, preview and sort them. Some things will change. Collections are now be called folders; new views have been to the Settings menu; the Home view is gone, replaced with My Drive to organize all of your files, folders and Google Docs. New features include the ability to sync files between all of your devices, a new visual view called the grid view and the ability to work with more file types by installing Google Drive Apps from the Chrome Web Store.

Whether you see it as a plus, or a minus, there’s no choice. If your a Google Docs user, by the end of the summer, you’ll be a Google Drive user. Google has published a help page on what’s different to get you started: Google Drive versus your Documents List.

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Security is better in the cloud

It’s usually one of the first questions we get asked when we talk about the advantages of the cloud: “Is the cloud secure?” The questions take other forms. “Will someone steal my data?” “Am I more likely to get hacked?”

When asked, we point out the reasons that cloud computing is actually more secure:

  • Your applications and data aren’t sitting in an unattended server room
  • Encryption is difficult to fully implement on your own – service providers do it
  • Cloud service providers use state-of-the-art security systems
  • Software updates are routinely done by service providers – out of date software is one of the biggest risks
  • Controlling copies is a lot easier

Microsoft has just released a survey of small and midsized business that reinforces these points. The survey shows that businesses using the cloud spend noticeably less time and money worrying about security then they did prior to the move.

The study shows that 35 percent of U.S. companies surveyed have experienced noticeably higher levels of security since moving to the cloud. In addition, 32 percent say they spend less time worrying about the threat of cyberattacks. U.S. SMBs using the cloud also spend 32 percent less time each week managing security than companies not using the cloud. They are also five times more likely to have reduced what they spend on managing security as a percentage of overall IT budget.

The press releas is here: Cloud Computing Security Benefits Dispel Adoption Barrier for Small to Midsize Businesses

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Why You Should Build Your Apps on a Cloud Platform

At Unlimited Priorities we’re strong believers in cloud-based computing. We’ve said “It’s transforming the way computing services are delivered by providing unheard of flexibility, increased reliability and drastically decreasing costs.” (See our Cloud Computing page.)

A post today by Scott Fulton on ReadWriteWeb argues that most apps today should be built in the cloud.

A key point of the article is this. As an application provider your business is to deliver service. Traditionally, applications delivered that functionality running on clients’ platforms. Running there, it becomes a slave to the browser and the operating system. Two major changes now make it possible to remove these constraints:

  • Low cost highly available bandwidth makes it possible to run major parts of an application on a server.
  • There’s a healthy and growing cloud platform market, with many players offering innovative and inexpensive services to support these applictions.

These two changes make it much easier for development teams in small to medium sized companies to focus their skills on the application not the platform it runs on.

The entire article, along with a list of platform service providers is here:

Why You Should Build Your Apps on a Cloud Platform – And How to Choose the Right One

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Another place in the cloud to store your documents: Google Drive

Google DriveLong rumored, now official, Google Drive launched today. Similar to Dropbox, but integrated with Google Docs, it lets you store all of your files in the cloud, and access them from anywhere. The integration with Google Docs makes it easy to share content with others. In addition, because of this integration, you get built in optical character recognition and image based searching. Upload a scanned clipping from a newspaper and, using OCR, search the text of the original.

Prices are comparable to Dropbox and Microsoft’s newly introduced SkyDrive. Up to 5GB is free; 25GB is $2.49/month. A terrabyte goes for $49.95/month.

Which One?

There’s a detailed review in Read Write Web which points out that Dropbox, Skydrive and Google Drive don’t really work well together. They conclude, that because of the integration with other apps you should choose based on the apps. Google Docs and Gmail users should probably go with Drive. Office and Outlook users, should go with SkyDrive. Dropbox leaves you unattached, but mainly because it’s not tied closely to any applications.

There is a privacy issue with Google Drive. Like everything else Google, when you give them your data, they actually use it — mostly to serve up ads, so don’t be surprised if you save a file about your vacation plans and you start seeing ads about resorts in the place you’re going.

The official Google announcement is here in the Google Blog.

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How to Negotiate a Cloud Contract

If you’re considering moving into the cloud, you’ll likely start by do a web search for information. You’ll find thousands of articles on the technology, the terminology, the advantages and the issues. You’ll find very little on what should be in your contract with the provider you eventually choose. There’s two articles in ITWorld which outline the key points that you should consider when signing up for cloud-based services. Not surprisingly, the standard contracts offered by providers benefit the provider. As the customer, you should modify the terms to cover the issues that matter to you.

Some of the issues covered include:

  • Termination, opt-out and automatic renewal clauses
  • Penalties for non-payment
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Vendor sharing of your information with third parties
  • Auto-renewal

Simply signing the contract as offered by the provider can easily leave you with a far less flexible and favorable contract than you’d get if you took an extra hour to review and negotiate the contract terms first.

The articles are here: How to get out of a contract with your cloud provider and How to negotiate a contract with a cloud or SaaS provider

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Learning Cloud Computing Vocabulary

If you are following developments in cloud computing, even a little, you know that there are new terms and concepts added every day. It’s easy to get lost as familiar terms get co-opted and new ones get added.

Unfortunately, it’s also hard to find decent articles to help sort through it all. Doing a Google search for “cloud computing primer”, quoted which means that the article needs to have that exact phrase in its body or title turns up a daunting 186,000 hits. Most of them are only primers if you already understand a lot about the cloud.

So it’s nice to see a simple, easy to understand piece that clearly explains many of the key concepts. “Think of EC2 as the computational brain behind an online application or service.” That sentence is one of many in the article “Cracking the cloud: An Amazon Web Services primer. It’s short and easy to understand, explaining in simple language how the Amazon Cloud works and what the key parts are. Read this and in addition to “Elastic Cloud Compute”, you’ll be able to use terms like “Elastic Load Balance” and “Elastic Block Storage” with confidence.

It won’t turn you into an expert, but it will help you when you are talking to experts about how the cloud can be used to help make your business more efficient and flexible while saving money at the same time.

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The power of the cloud to make “what-if” real

Cloud PowerWe’ve written a lot about cloud computing — because we believe it can fundamentally transform a business in very positive ways. We were delighted to see this new report by IBM, The Power of the Cloud: Driving business model innovation, that describes the benefits of cloud computing and illustrates them with examples.

The report suggests that one way to think about the role cloud computing can play is to imagine some “what-if” questions. Four that fit well with small to medium sized businesses in the information industry are:

  • What if you could give customers access to your products and services anytime, anywhere and on any device?
  • What if you could inexpensively and rapidly develop and launch new product and service offerings?
  • What if you could easily and seamlessly connect and collaborate with business partners and customers?
  • What if you could redefine your role in your industry and change your competitive positioning?

Unlimited Priorities will be speaking on cloud computing at the NFAIS Annual Conference, Born of Disruption: An Emerging New Normal for the Information Landscape this week. If you would like to discuss how cloud computing can help make these what-if questions real for your organization, please contact us at the conference or through this website.

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Cloud storage prices keep dropping – Comparing Amazon, Google and Rackspace

Hard drive vs cloudAmazon has just announced another decrease for their standard cloud storage customers. This is their fifth in five years and it reinforces the attractiveness of using the cloud to store an organization’s data.

Amazon says in their announcement “With this price change, all Amazon S3 standard storage customers will see a significant reduction in their storage costs. For instance, if you store 50 TB (terrabytes) of data on average you will see a 12% reduction in your storage costs, and if you store 500 TB of data on average you will see a 13.5% reduction in your storage costs.will see a significant reduction in their storage costs.”

That sounds good, but it’s important to dig in a little. A terrabyte (TB) is 1024 gigabytes (GB), which is 1024 megabytes (MB). New laptops are now delivered with 1 TB disks. In very round numbers, a TB of storage will hold about 200,000 high-resolution photos, 100,000 large Power Point presentations, 250,000 songs or 350 HD movies. While data storage needs are growing rapidly in all organizations, most small to medium size organizations will not need anywhere near 50 TB, even if they move all of their data into the cloud.

So how do Amazon’s prices compare with the two other big providers, Rackspace and Google, for typical amounts of data? Here’s a table of monthly storage costs constructed using the current published prices:

Company –– 1TB (1,024 GB) –– 10TB (10,240 GB) –– 50TB (51,200 GB)

For small amounts of data, the differences are not large and remain close for the normal storage needs of many small to medium sized organizations. As the amount of data stored increases, Google compares favorably with Amazon, and is in fact slightly lower at 50 TB. Prices for Rackspace increase faster as the amount of data stored increases and are well above Google and Amazon at the 50 TB mark.

Price is not the only consideration when considering the use of cloud-based file storage, but it’s an important one. Amazon’s announcement will put pressure on the other providers to come down as well and continue to increase the attractiveness of storing data securely offsite where it can be accessed by and used by anyone who needs it.

The sources are: Google cloud storage pricing, Rackspace pricing calculator and Amazon web services blog.

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Al Stevens talks Cloud Computing at the NFAIS Annual Conference

NFAIS 54th Annual Conference - Born of DisruptionAl’s experience includes running a web-based service providing 24/7 access to an online data base for thousands of users around the world. He led the effort to move that service from a set of dedicated servers in a managed hosting center to a 100% cloud-based system.

His talk will cover the motivations for considering the cloud, how a cloud-hosting service was selected, how the implementation was managed, the impacts it had on the organization and the lessons learned from moving into the cloud. Based on his real experience of making this move, he will provide advice for others who are considering or evaluating the use of cloud-computing in their organizations.


From February 26 to February 28, 2012  at the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia.

Born of Disruption: An Emerging New Normal for the Information Landscape

The emergence of e-journals, search engines, and the Web triggered the disruption of the information landscape more than twenty years ago. Accelerated by the continual introduction of new technologies, the perpetual reshaping of digital content, and the coming of age of Digital Natives, disruption is gradually transforming the entire industry as technologies mature, converge, and become mainstream. Today, the melding of broadband connectivity, mobile devices and apps, cloud computing, analytic tools, and social media has created a platform-rich information environment that can be leveraged to enhance and enrich the information discovery process. This new information environment is driving publishers and librarians around the globe to reinvent their methods of information creation, packaging, and delivery while building the requisite organizational infrastructures.

Download Program  Register Online

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In cloud computing cost and flexibility do not conflict

CloudBernard Golden, CEO of HyperStratus has just published an article in Network World where he convincingly argues that a cloud computing is both more cost effective and more flexible, or agile, than using traditional IT infrastructure:

The attempt to downplay the importance of cost regarding cloud computing is misguided. However, there is a greater mistake in branding cost and agility as conflicting choices, with the implication that choosing one means forfeiting the other. The fact is that low cost and agility both depend upon the underlying foundation of cloud computing: automation. It is automation that supports both lower costs and agility, and both of them equally reflect its nature.

He goes on to point out that in every other industry where manual processes have been replaced by automation, costs dropped, businesses that didn’t keep up failed, demand went up because of lowered costs, and everyday life was transformed.

This underscores our firm belief that small to medium sized organizations, especially those in the information industry, can effectively use the cloud today. In an earlier post we describe how cloud computing is now regularly delivering real benefits that include increased flexibility, reliability and responsiveness while lowering costs. That post is here: Moving into the cloud.

Golden’s entire article is here: Cloud Computing Both More Agile and Less Expensive

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