Sunday, January 25, 2015

Enterprise Cloud Providers

As you know, I'm a big follower of cloud technology. Early this year I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal.

In this article the WSJ reported on a recent survey by Piper Jaffray of 112 CIOs. Piper Jaffray asked the CIOs to name their preferred public cloud provider.

Amazon Web Services led the responses with a 2 percentage point increase from 33% to 35%. Microsoft's Azure increased from 20% to 21%. IBM Softlayer had the biggest gain increasing from 4% to 6%.

The big loser was Google falling from 12% to 7%.

Reminds me of the old saying that "Nobody got fired for choosing IBM." Or Microsoft.

There's an interesting comparison of Amazon and Microsoft's cloud offerings here.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Google Keep

My quest for the perfect grocery list continues. I've been using I Sync Tasks as described here. The author has been very responsive and the service updates the shared lists in about 60 seconds. It costs $1 per person per month.

In November Google updated it's Keep service with sharing. It syncs in real time for free. I lke the price.

There are good clients for the web and Android. iOS is notable by its absence.

Certainly Google will come out with an iOS client but in the mean time I started searching. I came across an article on GuidingTech. It referenced TurboNote for iOS and GoKeep for iOS.

When I tested TurboNote for iOS it would never complete logging in as others have noted in the reviews. It hasn't been updated since June 2014 so I'd avoid it.

GoKeep for iOS fared much better. The reviews that suggest that this is just the web presentation aren't completely correct. The body of the app is the web presentation but it is "wrapped." There are additional functions in the wrapping including an online/offline toggle and a slide-in bar on the left. This is where you can enable the zoom capability. Some reviews note that you aren't able to delete a note. This is because the note deletion function is in the drop-down of the "..." at the bottom of a note. As some other reviews mention this drop-down menu just blinks and goes away.

I found that it was easier to use the Google Keep web site on a non-iOS browser to set the various options and then use the iOS app.

GoKeep for iOS was updated late Novermber 2014.

To get a feel for GoKeep for iOS browse to in Safari. Incidentally the "..." drop-down doesn't work there either. If that looks good then install the free version. The paid version for $1.99 is actually a separate app so you'll want to uninstall the free version and then install the paid version.

There are still some downsides to Google Keep. I used the Google Tasks ability to have subordinate list items. Google Keep doesn't support this. I also used the "widget" capability of Google Tasks to present the list on the Google Mail and Google Calendar web pages. Hopefully Google will bring these capabilities to Google Keep in the future.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Software-Defined SANs

The headline caught my attention - Server SANs: Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater

The author does a really good job of discussing the advantages and disadvantages of leveraging server storage as a virtual Storage Area Network (SAN).

I'm sure that the bean counters will jump on this and that the server salesmen will push this because it will help them sell more kit.

But this is really a bad idea.

While the following example is regarding ancient technology, the math doesn't change.

IBM 3380 Standard DASD had issues with internal paths. The details are arcane and not directly applicable to this discussion but suffice it to say that as you increased the capacity of the 3380 sub-system, the performance degraded. Worse the performance was different to different devices. While the average degraded gracefully, the standard deviation was all over the place. Siebo Friesenborg and I had a spirited discussion of this at the IBM Washington Systems Center.

The result was that the performance was erratic and very hard to manage.

Mapping the local storage of a cluster of servers into a virtual SAN can't help but suffer the same characteristics.

Storage that is mapped locally on a server will undoubtedly perform better than storage that is mapped 2 servers away.

Complicate the locality issue with the all too frequent I/O bandwidth issues of blade servers and you've got a solution that will make the performance consultants happy.

Call me.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Your Father's Phone Service

Remember in my journey to VoIP I encounted OBiVoice (now Vestalink). I signed up for their service when Obihai and Google had their little spat. For the price it worked really well.

After Obihai and Google kissed and made up, I revisited Vestalink as I was reconfiguring my OBi100 back to Google Voice.

When I hit Vestalink's home page, here's what I got.

What's up with that? And why are they looking at a Blackberry?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Hard Drive Costs

Everybody knows how fast hard drive costs are dropping, don't they? But really, let's look at the figures.

Here's a chart from That Data Dude.

Impressive. But look closer. The "Avg. Cost per GB" scale is logarithmic!

And look at the knee between 1989 and 1994. The cost per gigabyte dropped 98%. As I recall that was in the throes of  IBM 3390s. The 3390 was announced November 14, 1989 at 946MB. The last entry in the family was the 3390 Model 9 announced May 20, 1993 at 8.51GB. Bigger by a factor of 9.

Looking down at current costs they are pennies per GB. Several organizations with deep pockets have started offering "free" storage.

Think of the opportunities this will offer. Think of the problems this will cause.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Can You Afford for Google to Fail

I guess that headline got you to read this! No, I don't see Google failing as an organization anytime soon. What is evident though is that Google is part of the "Fail Fast, Fail Often" culture.

Google, like many other Silicon Valley companies, tends to iterate through products rapidly. Google so much that it precipitated a meme around Google's Graveyard.

That may be good for Google but is it good for you?

Even though I'm a huge Google user, I've joined the hue and cry about this.

     C'mon Google
     Google Plus Photos NOT
     Google Docs Gadget
     Google Being a Pain

One of the podcasts I listen to regularly is Speaking in Tech. While this is principally enterprise focused, episode #138 covered a couple of Google consumer issues. At 3:47 Greg Knieriemen goes off on Android Lollipop. Then at 10:47 the discussion turns to Google in general.

Sarah Vela puts a point on it.
(Google) can afford to fail in places where their users invest and then (the users) get burned. It makes me a little weary.
And John Troyer adds:
It also makes me wonder what happens when they are running my cloud. ... And ...  what happens when they're driving my car.
Well said.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lessons from Sony

There's been a big story lately on a hack of Sony Pictures. Terabytes of sensitive data were exfiltrated and posted publicly. There're several theories about the motivations behind this but I want to focus on the security practices. Let's be slow to throw rocks because this could be you.

I'm a big proponent of leveraging size to reduce cost. Sony, Sony Pictures' parent company, had consolidated security management into its global organization. At first that seems like a good idea.

But the result was that the global organization couldn't/didn't focus on local issues. The global team was failing to monitor 149 out of 869 of Sony Pictures systems in their scope. That's 17% of the systems unmonitored.

And the global organization's IT management was aware of this gap and didn't remedy it. Even with 17% of the systems being unmonitored, almost 200 security incidents were reported to the global organization between September 2013 and June 2014.

It is not known if the penetration leveraged any of these unmonitored systems but they certainly were vulnerable.

Lesson: Cost should not be a primary consideration in IT security decisions.

There were also several issues that emanated from the leaked data. In the data were hundreds of RSA SecurID tokens, Lotus Notes IDs, passwords, and certificates - many of them with the required passphrase. One of the certificates was a certificate Sony Pictures used to sign code. Its password was the filename.

Lesson: Lock up the family jewels.

One of the other firestorms has been the content of the leaked e-mails. Beside all the sensitive business discussions were some pretty damning dialogs concerning actors and actresses.

Lesson: Have a policy about what is allowed in e-mail and recurrency training on the necessity of this policy.

Finally, face up to the fact that your company will be hacked.

Articles that I used in this post: