#Computing on the cloud

What is the right amount of cloud computing for you business?
How do you get started? What’s a good application to ensure low financial and business risk?

Sound like a familiar issue in your organisation? It’s a question as common as ‘Is this the Cloud’s year?’ and there are some great answers to this.

So, the first point in making the decision is not to try and take anything too business critical in to the cloud. This should sound obvious but often isn’t. Email Storage, Archiving, Your Web Presence, leave well alone. But also…
Don’t choose a service that won’t have any impact if it fails. It’s important to have some risk as risk keeps you focused and motivated to ensuring the project is well resourced and successful

Be sure to perform a full statement of work prior to any migration or adoption. This will help you to think in advance of:
A) Any issues
B) How to back out gracefully should this happen. This is the first step to a successful cloud migration
Doing this sort of exercise will help you to plan every move and can be used to create a framework that’s custom to your business around migrating to the cloud.

Next choose a service that doesn’t require you to expose any sensitive data. So company files, data etc. – Avoid! So my semi controversial advice is avoid cloud storage before you better understand, and have a working understanding of managing the cloud. (Managing your personal Dropbox is very different to managing 100’s or 1000’s). Don’t forget managing any cloud service will give you vital insights.

If possible run a service you can run in parallel to an on premise solution this will ensure you are best prepared if anything goes wrong! Don’t forget users don’t like change and if they feel their day to day experience is in any way hampered then you will loose their trust in the cloud and therefore their willingness to help you adopt it as a business. Adopting new technology almost always affects the users.

So what is a good service to start with?
Antivirus is a good starting point. Offered by many of the major providers, McAfee and Symantec to mention two, this will give you experience in managing devices from the cloud and also experience in the issues with syncing directories between on premise systems like Active Directory and off premise solutions. This might sound trivial but can be a real inhibitor to end users productivity if they change their domain password and this then stops other services working.

Also try adding new services that can compliment them, not you as an administrator. Single Sign On is a quick and simple way to streamline the day to day work flow of your employees and makes them all feel like you’re trying to make their lives better.

No fluffy meerkats here…

Now we have more and more cloud IaaS and PaaS services coming online its critical that we have independent data driven analysis on which is best for what.

Bring in FindTheBest.com and specifically http://cloud-computing.findthebest.com/

This is a list of 64 cloud IaaS, PaaS providers. Check it out.

Managing Cloud servers security is the elephant in the room. Its critical to the success of any deployment that the data and service are secure. And in a computing model that is so linked to the public internet, cloud computing is in need of a good solution. Enter Cloud Passage a hosted management portal for cloud server security.

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From a single browser window it gives the ability to centrally configure firewalls, server configuration look at event and software vulnerabilities.

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Plus best of all it starts for free. You can get 5 servers worth of security monitoring forever! http://pages.cloudpassage.com/halo-pro.html

With clouds growing number of services how can resellers help their customers to not get lost? Arrow ECS to the rescue! ArrowSphere web site.

Ever wanted your cloud environment to resemble your physical datacentre check out this little app built on Adobe AIR with plugins to Amazon’s AWS Console

This is a sub-set of virtualfront showing a couple of servers and my S3 bucket in one rack and my Elastic Map Reduce S3 buckets in another to give logical visual separation of the applications.

gregs toolkit

Take a look for yourself at http://www.gregstoolkit.com/

Also available for iPad

I’ve been looking for a while for a way of trying to provide analytical information on my various web sites and web portals. I looked at many in the space of a month and bumped into this in the last week been having a play with it. Integrated it into virtualfront.

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From what i’ve seen so far I have been very impressed. Piwik has the capability to integrate into the web page. This then sends back information to a Piwik server either running as a separate server or on the same instance as your web server. The whole application is only 5.5Mb which is nice and light weight. It provides great multi tenancy for someone looking to use it with multiple websites and is very easily customisable to your company or brands. Check out Piwik’s live demo pointed at their forums at:

http://demo.piwik.org/

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Web based login also customisable and you can setup user accounts based on the website being monitored. Also deployable as a bitnami custom image

Will the world survive a day without Wikipedia?

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Ill tell you tomorrow…

IBM Cloud is available through IBM.com/cloud. This is the landing page for all IBM’s cloud service offerings both public, private and virtual private. Today we are going to take a look at depolying an instance from the IBM Smart Cloud Enterprise which we will refer to as SCE. SCE is IBM’s IaaS offering and can be used to provision instances based on a pre-defined list of images. imageWe are Login to the SCE control panel by selecting Cloud portal login. If you don’t have an account send me an email at david.fearne@arrowecs.co.uk. The IBM cloud as I posted below is not an EC2 or GoGrid type of cloud the IBM cloud is managed and charged in a more traditional method using the IBM reseller channel. This has its pro’s and its cons as you might imagine but the main reason for this is that unlike the other cloud providers mentioned above, IBM has rules of operation that do not allow them to host certain business types such as gambling or pornography. This also enables the traditional IBM business partner value add model. The video below is a brief introduction to getting started with the IBM SCE Cloud.

Introduction to getting started with the IBM SCE Cloud.

This video has been cut down but total deployment length is 20mins. come back soon to see how we implement overlay networks to provide global private network, load balancing and high availability.

Getting up and running with a useful cloud service has never been so simple

Bitnami (odd name but great service) have gone to the trouble of creating a large number of pre-built either packages or entire images that can be deployed as or to common Linux operating systems or Windows. The packages include Ruby on Rails, LAMP and WAMP, WordPress, Joumla and many others. The very variety and speed at which you can deploy a fully working website, blog or application makes them very attractive to people looking to deploy web services quickly and with little or no further customisation. I have experimented with a few packages now and run the very blog you are reading this post from on a bitnami WordPress package on Linux. with a few teaks…

BitNami Stacks

BitNami Stacks make it incredibly easy to deploy your favorite open source software. BitNami Stacks include an open source application and all of the other software necessary to run it, such as Apache, MySQL, PHP or Ruby. All you need to do is select your deployment format of choice (Native Installer, Virtual Machine Image or Cloud Image) and either run the installation wizard or start the image. In just minutes, your new application will be ready to run. All Native Installers for the Stacks have been packaged using BitRock’s multiplatform installer.
There are other ways of using BitNami. If you choose to install a BitNami Stack natively on your system, you can download a base Stack and then use BitNami Modules for the added benefit of being able to install several applications on top of a single infrastructure stack. Learn more about BitNami modules. We also offer VMWare images and Cloud Images for most Linux-based stacks as a download option.

BitNami Application Stacks

SugarCRM Redmine Alfresco JasperServer
WordPress Drupal Joomla OSQA
Coppermine Photo Gallery DokuWiki Moodle eZ Publish
Gallery Mantis MediaWiki ocPortal