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Breaking news: TeamDrive is "Cool Vendor in Privacy" 2013

Good news from Germany. The cloud storage solution for enterprises TeamDrive has been named as a „Cool Vendor in Privacy“ 2013 by Gartner. In particular, the growing use of tablets and smartphones lead to an increased demand for hybrid cloud services that are equally easy to use and have to provide the highest level of security. One reason why TeamDrive has won this year’s title.

About TeamDrive

Team Drive is a filesync and sharing solution for companies and organizations that do not want to risk that sensitive data is scattered with external cloud services and allows data or documents in the team synchronize. Therefore TeamDrive monitors any folder on a PC or laptop that you can use and edit them together with invited users. With that data is available at any time, also offline. The automatic synchronization, backup and versioning of documents protect users from data loss. With the possibility of TeamDrive to operate the registration and hosting server in the own data center, TeamDrive can be integrated into existing IT infrastructure. For this TeamDrive provides all the necessary APIs.

Find more about TeamDrive under „TeamDrive: Dropbox für Unternehmen„. (German only.)

In addition, I am working on a security comparison between TeamDrive and the open-source cloud storage solution ownCloud. These will be published in the next few days here on CloudUser and as a paper (PDF).

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AWS OpsWorks: More PaaS functionality in Amazon's cloud portfolio

Correctly, we name the Amazon Web Services (AWS) as an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). AWS Elastic Beanstalk splits the stock, whether the service should be counted as a platform-as-a-service (PaaS). Anyway, AWS provides various PaaS functionality in its cloud portfolio for some time and extends it now with AWS OpsWorks (still in beta).

What is AWS OpsWorks?

AWS OpsWorks is a solution for the flexible and automated application management. It addresses IT administrators and DevOps developers, who can use it to manage the complete lifecycle of an application, including resource provisioning, configuration management, software updates, monitoring and access control. AWS OpsWorks can be used for free. Costs emerge for the deployed virtual AWS infrastructure resources.

OpsWorks allows you to create a logical architecture, the provisioning of the required resources based on the architecture and providing the application and the necessary software packages for a specific configuration. OpsWorks then cares about the operation of the application and supports the life cycle including autoscaling and software updates.

AWS OpsWorks details

AWS OpsWorks supports different application architectures and works with any software whose installation is script-based. Based on the Chef framework you can use your own ready recipes or those from the community. An event-based configuration system helps during the application lifecycle management. These include customizable deployments, rollbacks, patch management, auto-scaling and auto healing. With that an update can be rolled out just by updating a single configuration file. Moreover OpsWorks has the ability to host AWS instances based on a precisely self specified configuration. This also includes the scale of an application based on the application load, or a time-based auto scaling as well as monitoring the application and the replacement of faulty instances.

With OpsWorks applications can be build in so-called „Layers“. A Layer defines how a set of together managed resources are configured. An example could be a web layer. This includes EC2 instances, EBS volumes including a RAID configuration and mount points and Elastic IP addresses. In addition for each layer, a software configuration can be created. This includes installation scripts and steps for initialization. Is an instance added to a layer, OpsWorks ensures that it will receive the corresponding configurations. OpsWorks provides pre-defined layers of technologies such as Ruby, PHP, HAProxy, Memcached and MySQL. These can be customized and extended.

Technology from Germany

OpsWorks was invented in Germany and is based on the technology Scalarium of the Berlin company Peritor. Scalarium was bought in 2012 by Amazon.

Comment

Indeed, AWS OpsWorks is not a concrete PaaS offering. This is due to the building blocks philosophy of the Amazon Web Services. This means that the offered services will be made ​​available as granular as possible. The customer then has the option to integrate the services for its use case and how it needs them. For that, of course, a lot of personal contribution and knowledge is required, which for the infrastructure of a typical PaaS is not required. However, AWS OpsWorks closes in terms of convenience the gap to the PaaS market and offers more and more PaaS functionality in the Amazon Cloud.

About one thing a customer should be aware of. And that applies not only to AWS OpsWorks but for the use of each AWS service. The lock-in in the AWS infrastructure becomes bigger and bigger with each service Amazon is releasing. This need not be a bad thing. A lock-in is necessarily anything negative and may even be beneficial, on the contrary, as long as the own needs are met, and not too large compromises have to be made ​​by the customer himself.

As a customer you just have to keep this in mind before the way into the AWS cloud, as well as in any other cloud, and consider possible exit strategies or multi-cloud approaches.

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Netflix releases more "Monkeys" as open source – Eucalyptus Cloud will be pleased

As GigaOM reported, Netflix will publish more services similar to its Chaos Monkey and the Simian Army under the open source license on Github in the near future.

The Chaos Monkey

The Chaos Monkey is a service running on the Amazon Web Services which is looking for Auto Scaling Groups (ASG) and terminates instances (virtual machines) for each group randomly. The software is designed flexible enough that it works well on the platforms of other cloud providers. The service is fully configurable, but by default runs on ordinary weekdays from 09.00 until 15.00 o’clock. In most cases, Netflix has written their applications so that they continue to work when an instance has some problems. In special cases, this does not happen consciously, so that their own people have to resolve the problem in order to learn from it. The Chaos Monkey thus runs only a few hours a day so that the developers are not 100% rely on him.

Find more information about the Chaos Monkey and the Simian Army under Netflix: Der Chaos Monkey und die Simian Army – Das Vorbild für eine gute Cloud Systemarchitektur.

More services from Netflix Monkey portfolio

  • Denominator: A tool for managing multiple DNS provider.
  • Odin: An orchestration API that can be called by Jenkins and Asgard, the Netflix deployment tool. It is designed to help developers deploy more convenient.
  • Recipes: These are blueprints, which can be used to roll out several Netflix components together more easy.
  • Launcher:Rolls out the final blueprints by pressing a button.
  • Mehr Monkeys: Other Netflix Monkeys are to follow later this year, including the Conformity Monkey, the Latency Monkey and the Latency Howler Monkey. The Conformity Monkey ensures that all relevant instances are placed equivalent. The Latency Monkey simulates latencies and more errors. The Howler Monkey latency monitor whether a workload meets AWS possible limitations and reports it.

The Chaos Gorilla which randomly simulates the crash of an entire AWS Availability Zone and the Chaos Kong that simulative shoots an entire AWS region should also follow soon.

Comment

Although Netflix would offer its „Monkeys“ across multiple clouds, so that e.g. also OpenStack users can refer to it. However, with the steady release of its HA test suite Netflix plays more and more in Eucalyptus hands.

Eucalyptus Cloud lets you build a private cloud based on the basic functions of the Amazon cloud infrastructure. What is at Amazon for example an AWS Availiablty Zone represents in Eucalyptus a „Cluster“. Thus the Netflix tools allow similar HA functionality testing in the private / hybrid cloud, like Netflix already uses it themselves in the Amazon public cloud. In addition, Eucalyptus will certainly integrate the Netflix tools in its own cloud solution in the midterm to have an own HA test in their portfolio.

The release of the Netflix tools under the open source license will strengthen, not least, the cooperation of Amazon Web Services and Eucalyptus but rather make Eucalyptus more attractive for Amazon as a takeover target.

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"Liquid Work"

Luca Hammer, Gründer von work.io diskutiert in diesem Vortrag das Thema „Liquid Work“. Genauer geht es darum, was sich hinter diesem Begriff verbirgt, wie man es einsetzen kann, welchen Einfluss es hat und wie sich Unternehmen in diesem neuen Bereich orientieren sollten.

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"Work 2.0: Give and Take"

arago CEO Chris Boos talks about his view of Work 2.0 and how he is implemented this new kind of worklife in his own company.

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"The Shape of Disruption"

During his key note at the CloudOps Summit 2012 in Frankfurt, Microsoft’s Tim O’Brien showed that disruptive technologies are often assumed to drive outright replacement of existing technologies, but disruptions don’t always take the same shape. The end state of the cloud disruption is on a path to become hybrid cloud. Tim discussed the dynamics motivating this end state, including technical factors, business drivers, economics, the regulatory environment, and other considerations that businesses must contend with when charting their adoption of cloud computing.

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APIs impact for Cloud Computing

Guillaume Balas is Chief Marketing Officer at 3scale. In this interview he talks about APIs and their impact for Cloud Computing.

CloudUser: What’s the special of a cloud api comparing a “normal” api?

Guillaume Balas: APIs come in a variety of flavors: from language APIs which allow programmers to use high level functions and modules in most programming languages, to Web APIs which can be called remotely across the public Internet.
From a cloud perspective the focus is often on (1) infrastructure API – which give direct access to raw hardware and network resources, (2) platform APIs – which provide access to application specific data objects and functions and (3) Web APIs which provide access not to local but remote resources such as data, content or services.

CloudUser: What’s your opinion regarding a transparent cloud concerning a cloud api?

Guillaume Balas: Two aspects of transparency are important for cloud platform. The first is the ability to „reach through“ layers of abstraction to lower level resources – often higher-level resources abstractions make life easier but don’t always fill every needs. In 3scale’s infrastructure we often find ourselves reaching through layers to get the maximum performance out of the resources we use – having this access blocked would be a big negative for a platform. The second area of transparency is potentially in pricing and payments – API accessible resources of all types (from infrastructure to data) provide the opportunity for providers to provide metered access to resources – and match their own costs with resale prices to their users. In doing this it’s important that providers match the metrics which contribute to their own costs to their pricing plans. Obfuscating this relationship leads to inefficiencies and unhappiness in the long run!

CloudUser: Most companies are afraid of Cloud Computing due to a vendor lockin. Could a open proprietary cloud api reassure that?

Guillaume Balas: Given how much lock-in there has traditionally been with Enterprise software to date (and the difficulty of managing large changes in self hosted data centers) this concern always seems a little overblown for cloud platforms.
However it’s certainly a help to have standard cloud management APIs emerging – this reduces friction and costs for everybody by making it easier to build tools and services around compliant clouds.

CloudUser: What kind of influence will a cloud api management utility have for the acceptance of Cloud Computing?

Guillaume Balas: Service such as Rightscale already have a great impact on driving adoption – they provide peace of mind of an additional layer on top of multiple providers. Solutions like Abiquo also make it possible to migrate instances between VMs – the more flexible these tools become the better.
We often switch resources for customers transparently between customers on Amazon EC2 (between zones) – if you had explained this to someone 5 years ago they would have thought you has lost your mind.

CloudUser: Do you think a standard is important in Cloud Computing?

Guillaume Balas: 3scale’s business is in helping companies open up their APIs for partners and other users to access – this often provides massive value and helps build new ecosystems. In many of the areas we work in we see similarities emerging between APIs (there are only so many ways to structure a blogging API) and we’re convinced that there will be convergence in the long run. Cloud infrastructure APIs may be amongst the first since so many people rely on them but it will happen across the whole stack. What we’re less convinced about is the creation of de-jure standards up front – often this involves a lot of technical effort which gets bypassed by the real world and some co-evolution is valuable to have.

CloudUser: What do you think about initiatives like the Open Cloud Initiative or the OCCI (Open Cloud Computing Interface) from the OGF?

Guillaume Balas: Some of our team has been involved with OGF in the past and it’s an impressive effort – it’s certainly shared a huge amount of technical knowledge and created practical solutions to interoperability problems. However unfortunately sometimes big-group decision making gets bogged down and having some unfettered invention happening is also a good thing – and in the end will feed back into these efforts.

CloudUser: What is the most important thing for a cloud api management utility?

Guillaume Balas: At 3scale we certainly take reliability, scalability and security extremely seriously and these form the core of any infrastructure tool people rely on. Features come and go but you need to know appropriate steps are always being taken that everything stays up, running and safe. That’s something all providers need to work hard on constantly.

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"Consumerization of IT": The new BUZZ and pretty cool!

Consumerization of IT basically means that not the IT-department or the purchasing department are responsible for which devices the employees use. They choose the device and software they want. For example, everybody heard the new term „Bring your own device“.

I think consumerization of IT is – based on cloud, SaaS and mobile technologies – a reasonable trend. Because we are going more and more in the direction of a mobile cloud. That does not mean, that the cloud becomes mobile itself. Instead of this we become more mobile and flexible. Because all our important data, applications etc. are always with us. Either local or provided by a cloud.

This trend also gives the employees more liberty on how they are working and actually where they are working. I am a fan of this cultural change, because I think it is basically not important where we are working. Some people are more efficient in the office and others are in the home office or a café. It’s the same with this „classical“ nine to five jobs. It is not important when you are working. It’s important that you are working and get things done in the expected timeframe.

For example: In his Connected World Report, Cisco found out, that 3 of 5 students would like to work more flexible and want to work outside the company. See more below.

Because of that it is not necessary that the IT department is dicating everything regarding the hardware or the local software because the corporate relevant data and applications are in the cloud. Of course, the whole implementation process is not easy and may become a big challenge for the IT departments.

Image source: http://www.uisgeek.com