Technology Archive

How do we define cloud computing?

It’s comes up again. Folks are asking us to define cloud computing and every time we do, we refine it a little more. At times it’s seemed like Cloud Computing became the new web 2.0 as a blanket term for everything:). I actually think we define it similarly to the Wikipedia definition. For us it breaks down into two categories: cloud services and cloud infrastructure.

Cloud services are defined as technologies that provide a virtual service either through and Open API or through a user interface. Examples range from the classic Salesforce.com to cloud email like Gmail or Twitter and the Twitter Open API, and Facebook Connect. There are lots others, and it’s growing at a frantic pace. Open API’s like Facebook Connect and the Twitter API are incredibly powerful for driving traffic and getting your product, brand, and service out there. In the past we would build a social network from scratch for a web site, that would mean custom application development and maintenance, now we use Javascript and REST to interface with Facebook Connect and we are up and running in a fraction of the time it used to take in the past.

Cloud infrastructure is defined as the virtual and physical infrastructure powering web and digital applications. Cloud infrastructure was strongly enabled through technologies like VMWare that made it possible to make one physical server into 10 or more virtual servers. This coupled with low cast storage created an elastic scalable platform to enable us to do things that weren’t feasible using the old cost models. These services are metered and you only pay as you go, which is a drastic departure from the buy a server, manage and drive it all the time whether you use it or not. While it used to take weeks to get a server up and ready now takes minutes and all you need is a credit card. Companies paving the way include Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, with traditional hosting companies like Rackspace, Savvis, Terremark and others also making these infrastructure services available.

We believe the cloud and it’s ability to scale at a lower cost point will enable more innovation like never before.

Cloudfront, Amazon's Caching Delivery Network (CDN)

Speed differences between Amazon S3 and CloudF... Image by playerx via Flickr

It’s nice to see Amazon moving into the CDN space with their Cloudfront offering, it seems like the CDN market can definitely use some fresh look at the challenge. It looks like it builds off your usage of Amazon S3 but with an accelerator finding the closest cache server to deliver your content. With this approach it doesn’t seem like a great fit as a CDN for any architecture. The chart on the right is an interesting comparison.

I’ve been intrigued over the last couple of years with Coral Caching. Peer to peer open source caching seems like it’s ripe with opportunity, wouldn’t it be cool if my mediacenter pc, apple tv and other laptops that sit at home idle during the day could be leveraged to help offload servers. I guess it’s a balance of saving power and sleeping or turning off the box vs. using less server power.

This is a diagram of a Wikipedia:Peer-to-Peer ... Image via Wikipedia

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How does cloud technology benefit marketing and service organizations?

** **Lots of folks have been asking about how Cloud Computing helps marketing or web development projects. Here’s a couple of the key benefits that have bubbled to the top of the conversations.

  • Cost, cloud services are drastically less expensive than tradition hosting options, so the marketer can do more and innovate more with their money. Cloud services enable some basic things such as faster time to market, so faster results because we can build solutions in less time and not have to wait for an technology team to allocate servers and setup physical devices.

  • Faster scalability to better keep up with the peaks and valleys of marketing campaigns** and user traffic**. In the old days we would have to prepare for an ad, email, keyword, or offline-online campaign and get servers ready on standby. With cloud services we can scale on demand with a lower cost and faster timeline. That’s because we aren’t limited by physical servers

  • Strategically, social services are enabled through cloud computing, new offerings like Facebook connect, Twitter/delicious/reddit/digg/etc. apis, or even Youtube embed capabilities are all cloud services that enable you to drive traffic to your site without having to build your own social network. Facebook connect is a cloud service that enables the portable social graph bringing users to your property. One user post back to a user’s Facebook wall results in three more users accessing your site. So not only do you get exposure, but you save on Google keyword buysJ. In the old days, 3 years ago, we tried to build social networks on sites like flip.com and other properties, now we tie into the cloud service and get the same functionality in a fraction of time .

*lastly, there’s a word of caution around cloud services. Make sure you have some sort of redundancy, i.e. multiple services to achieve the same goal. We worked with Billboard on the latest release of their site which is a great example. See the red arrow as good example, if Facebook goes away, we are still sharing with other services. Other questions arise around redundancy for infrastructure cloud providers. The cloud computing manifesto is at least acknowledging the need for redundancy, but how to get the providers to do it.

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.gov is saving money and time with cloud computing

Cnet reports today on how Vivek Kundra, the US Chief Information Officer (CIO), is pushing for more movement into the clould computing space to help save taxpayer dollars. There are definitely huge savings with clould computing and it’s getting harder and harder for enterprises to ignore. Especially with the recent announcement around Amazon’s Private Cloud, it seems like the enterprise barriers to adoption are slowly eroding away.

I did find Vivek’s assertion here, hard to believe,

_“Using a traditional approach to add scalability and flexibility, he said, it would have taken six months and cost the government $2.5 million a year. But by turning to a cloud computing approach, the upgrade took just a day and cost only $800,000 a year.”_

but not knowing all the details it might real. Six months down to one day, sounds too much like pixie dust to me!

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Razorfish Technology Capabilities Differentiates

It’s great to get some market recognition for all our efforts. In this post Forrester recognizes that technology differentiates and our addition to Publicis will help strengthen their market position. This captured our attention

‘_“What about _Razorfish? The firm has much stronger design capabilities, both for user experience and what we call “brand image”. Plus – and this is just my opinion because we did not evaluate them on this – it has stronger technology capabilities as well. ‘

And validation of what we’ve been saying from the start

Because ultimately, a great design has to actually work in order to deliver a great customer experience.”’

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Big CMS news

Image representing Autonomy as depicted in Cru... Image via CrunchBase

Interwoven has been purchased by Autonomy. Interwoven is definitely one of the most common CMS platforms we see at our enterprise 500 clients, interestingly much more than autonomy. Overall, this seems like a great opportunity for the two to grow market share. From a technology architecture perspective, there are a lot of great synergies that could come out of this merger. For example, publish content, update index. Or plug autonomy in to your content repository, interrogate your data and provide insights. I wonder how Metatagger fits in?

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