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Posts Tagged ‘Cloud computing

Software-defined networking (SDN) is a hot, much debated topic and although still in its infancy, it offers the potential to transform how complex networks work. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s only yet more industry hype, the era of Software Defined Everything is already upon us. Software is being applied to everything from servers, storage, data centres, right through to arguably the most ground-breaking piece of the jigsaw – the Wide Area Network.

SDN changes the way companies build their IT environments by essentially moving the “control plane” of the network away from each individual device in the network to a central controller that works with all the devices, both virtual and physical. This allows for a single controller to configure or manage the complete network, as opposed to each device managing its own functionality and being programmed individually. The technology has huge benefits for businesses, including reducing IT expenditure and enabling changes to the network quickly and easily.

The importance of the network

SDN deployments are still very limited and at their early stages of development. This is due in part to the fact that today’s corporate networks use open standards such as the IP protocol and Ethernet connectivity, but configuring the networks themselves often requires lots of manual tasks because each device on the network has separate policies and consoles. Making significant changes in the network – even with existing hardware – can be time-consuming, potentially taking a week or two. With the move towards server virtualisation and cloud computing, this has become even more complex.

With this in mind, it is no surprise that SDN is making its way to centre stage. SDN is being tackled from all sides of the ecosystem, from virtualisation vendors like VMWare to the traditional networking providers like Cisco. Not only is it going to fundamentally change the business models of the networking and server industries, but it is also going to escalate the importance of the network.

The value that SDN poses for businesses is immense. It holds greater potential for productivity increases from IT than any other development because of the way it acts as a unifying force between disparate elements – computing, networking, virtualisation, information, and business logic. There’s no doubt that SDN will be a disruptive force across cloud, carrier and enterprise networks, likely in that order. The natural progression of turning hardware into software will result in re-architected networks, data centres and infrastructures.

What the future holds

The integration of everything into the network will become a no-brainer in the coming year and this will essentially transform the network into the epicenter of ICT services. While no one can predict the SDN end-game, we are at the cusp of a revolution in the way global networks are designed, built, and managed.

By providing more real-time intelligence and deep application integration SDN is going to enable enterprises to realise innovation earlier with applications rolled out in hours instead of weeks. Organisations will achieve never-before-seen levels of agility while reducing both capital and operational overhead to the lowest levels ever delivered in enterprise solutions.

As a platform, SDN provides the potential to drive the next generation of IT services. Early high visibility adopters like Google and the recent significant increase in VC funding into the SDN area is fuelling momentum and the emergence of the era of Software Defined Everything looks set to change the power of the network for good. Organisations should be looking very seriously at how SDN can benefit their businesses before their competitors get there first.

Kristina Kozlova

Kristina Kozlova
Kristina.Kozlova@altabel.com
Skype ID: kristinakozlova 
Marketing Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

The early days of video –gaming seems to be gone away. Video games companies offer their game players new graphics and playing options to get what they want and to make better choices.
So Cloud gaming seems to be one of the recent openings and growing trends in the gaming industry. Lately gamers had to choose which game platform to buy: console, PC or portable device. Until now. Thanks to cloud gaming service the gamers can play freely through the cloud on any displays, including TVs, monitors, laptops, tablets, and even smartphones.

But what actually is cloud gaming?
Cloud gaming is a form of online games that uses a cloud provider for streaming. Its means that like all online games whether it is multiplayer games, Xbox or PlayStation cloud games as well need network connection and console to be played. However instead of having a playable copy of the game you download the game itself from the cloud service and stream it instantly.

The main advantages of cloud gaming are:
1. Instantly playable games in your browser. Cloud computing games allows the game to be streamed instantly and be played in a seconds.
2. No need of any installations. All games are stored on a cloud service, so there is no need to download and install them on the hard drive.
3. No specific hardware required. Game content isn’t stored on the user’s machine and game code execution occurs primarily at the server so it allows you to run almost all modern games even on a less powerful computer. Your computer necessarily requires only the ability to play HD-video (720p) and an Internet connection at a speed of 5 Mbit / s with low latency.

The negative effects go beyond the positive benefits and features. So let’s see what they are:
1. The main disadvantage of cloud gaming at the moment is the internet. It requires a reliable and fast internet connection to stream the game and play to your TV or monitor at home. Without a decent connection, it can make games look slow and unplayable.
2. Second hand market. There is a large amount of people who buy second-hand games. Once you completed your title, people generally trade in their old game for a new one. With Cloud gaming, you never own a physical copy making the whole process of trading in your old game for a new one redundant.

Gaikai and onLive
Currently there are two growing cloud projects launched from 2009- 2010 OnLive Game Service and Gaikai,game platforms which breathed new life into video game development.

OnLive is available on different devices: TV consoles, tablets, PCs, Mac OS, smartphones. On the official web site/store www.onlive.com the games could be purchased, rented and be downloaded as a free trial as well.Besides for 100$ you can buy box OnLive Game System, by which cloud game can run even on your TV. And the games also could be played on your tablet or on your smartphone from your PC, Mac or TV via Wireless Controller OnLive for the cost of 50$.

OnLive also provides worldwide interactive playing it means that you could share your playing with other players on the spectating Arena, share your best video moments instantly on Facebook or talk with the players with Voice Chat.

Alternatively, GAIKAI www.gaikai.com, which unlike OnLive, is a cloud-based gaming service that allows users to play high-end PC and console games via the cloud and instantly demo games and applications from a webpage or internet-connected device.Library of games from a service GAIKAI is not too big, but it has a number of popular projects that are not in OnLive, for example: FIFA 12, Bulletstorm, Crysis 2, Dead Space 2, Dragon Age 2 and others.
The benefit of Gaikai’s service is that the company isn’t limited to gaming. The company is actively soliciting streaming partners to utilize Gaikai’s infrastructure, servers, and platform.
On July 2, 2012, Sony Computer Entertainment invested $380 million USD with plans of establishing their own new cloud-based gaming service.

Betting on the future?
Is cloud gaming the future? The media companies like Sony, Gaikai and OnLive think certainly so, as they invest in its development and promotion. At the same time the gamers are still doubtful on the game quality and prefer playing on consoles than on cloud. The main problems/uncertainties that gamers point are mostly connected to the buying habit and staying online playing. The question with the internet connection seemed to be decided with cable providers like AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner, and Comcast that are planning to enter the cloud-gaming space, debuting their services as early as next year.Last thing needs to overcome is the dependence of physical owning.

So maybe if these downsides could be materialized in the benefits it will help to point the biggest skeptics out, and make them believers.

Thank you for your attention and feel free to leave your comments and share your thoughts/experience at this point!

Best regards,
Katerina Bulavskaya
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Not long ago I had to answer one very hard question, at least to try finding the answer:-):What is better Windows Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS) for cloud computing? Why can no other providers fit the bill? – may you ask, the thing is that most of them can’t provide the price points or size that Amazon or Azure can provide. In general , building up the operational capability to provide a service like AWS or Azure is a difficult proposition. Both AWS and Azure provide multiple locations and pay-by-the-hour capability. That’s actually really hard to do without massive capital behind it.

As it`s a long live debate(I mean Amazon vs Azure) it was really hard to find the answer. I`ve consulted with our technical specialists, googled this problem, asked Linkedin and Xing members to share their opinions on this question conducted some polls, etc. As you could imagine, there was no definite answer and a cure-all pill and the opinions differed.

Both AWS and Windows Azure are quite young: AWS “was born ” in 2006 and WA in 2008 however there services are used by the world-known corporations as NASA, Ericsson, Boeing, Xerox, etc and they both are considered to be the leaders of the today`s cloud sphere. The two platforms are very alike and have quite the same characteristics.

Among the two gorillas in the cloud space, some developers prefer Amazon, others think Azure is the best, but often the details are sparse as to why one option is better than the other. Among the reasons for choosing AWS/Azure, and not choosing the other they name cost, available resources, development tools and ecosystem.

Also to a great extent language support matters. AWS is platform agnostic while Azure is windows based. Getting stuck in a single framework like .NET where there is only one “provider” for .NET tools can be a huge hindrance in any future decisions you make as a company.

Microsoft (and Azure as default) seems to be all about lock-in. Lock-in on the operating system, lock-in on the language platform, as well as lock-in on the Azure services. Also, many companies do have to solve big compute problems that Java, unlike .NET, is well positioned for. While many larger companies don’t have to be as concerned with lock-in — this is a very scary thought for most start-ups that need a clearer longer-term cost structure.

Mostly the real choice is between IaaS and PaaS. Azure = PaaS and AWS is special in that it provides both IaaS and PaaS. One of the advantages of the AWS is that from AWS you can get the platform capabilities and the freedom to easily deploy brand new technologies before they become part of the platform. So people need to decide what is more important for them and how important cutting-edge is.

And what do you prefer personally: Amazon Web Services or Windows Azure? Feel free to share your opinions and considerations.

Best regards,
Anna Kozik
Business Development Manager
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Microsoft has officially rolled out Windows Server 2012, the server partner to the Windows 8 operating system it is launching on 6 October alongside the eagerly anticipated Surface tablet.

Unveiling the new offering on the 4th of September, Satya Nadella, president of Redmond’s Servers and Tools Business, has dubbed the new-gen system as the first “cloud OS.” In his keynote speech, Nadella described how Windows Server 2012 is a cornerstone of the Cloud OS, which provides one consistent platform across private, hosted and public clouds.

Windows Server 2012 is seen as a central part of Microsoft’s new enterprise ecosystem, which also features Windows Azure and System Center 2012 for customers to manage and deliver applications and services across private, hosted and public clouds.

The Microsoft Cloud OS provides enterprises with a highly elastic and scalable infrastructure with always-on, always-up services. Automated management, robust multitenant support, and self-service provisioning help enterprises transform their datacenters to support the coordination and management of pooled sets of shared resources at the datacenter level, replacing fragmented management of individual server nodes.

The new operating system provides a comprehensive set of capabilities across the enterprise private cloud datacenter, and public cloud datacenters.

• Agile Development Platform: The Microsoft Cloud OS allows enterprises to build applications they need using the tools they know, including Microsoft Visual Studio and .NET, or open-source technologies and languages, such as REST, JSON, PHP, and Java.

• Unified DevOps and Management: The Microsoft Cloud OS supports unified DevOps and unified application life-cycle management with common application frameworks across development and operations. With Microsoft System Center integration with development environments such as Visual Studio, enterprises can achieve quick time-to-solution and easy application troubleshooting and management.

• Common Identity: The Microsoft Cloud OS implements Active Directory as a powerful asset across environments to help enterprises extend to the cloud with Internet scale security using a single identity and to securely extend applications and data to devices.

• Integrated Virtualization: To help enterprises achieve the modern datacenter, the Microsoft Cloud OS includes an infrastructure which provides a generational leap in agility, leveraging virtualization to deliver a highly scalable and elastic infrastructure with always-on, always-up services across shared resources and supporting cloud service delivery models with more automated management and self-service provisioning. With Windows Server 2012, the Microsoft Cloud OS is engineered for the cloud from the metal up with virtualization built as an integrated element of the operating system, not layered onto the operating system.

• Complete Data Platform: The Microsoft Cloud OS fully supports large volumes of diverse data, advanced analytics, and enterprise BI life-cycle management, with a comprehensive set of technologies to manage petabytes of data in the cloud, to millions of transactions for the most mission-critical applications, to billions of rows of data in the hands of end users for predictive and ad-hoc analytics.

At the core of the Microsoft Cloud OS is Windows Server 2012. The software supports 320 logical processors and 4TB of physical memory per server, with 64 virtual processors per virtual machine. Virtual disks can scale up to 64TB apiece, according to the firm, or 32 times what it said the competition can offer at the moment, adding that Server 2012 is capable of virtualising 99 per cent of all SQL databases.

New features of Windows Server 2012 include a refreshed version of Hyper-V, including expanded network visualization capabilities to run multiple configurations on the same LAN. Also debuting is a new Resilient File System (ReFS), which improves reliability.

Appearance wise, Windows Server 2012 is built in the Modern UI-style, featuring a tile-based interface like that of Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Microsoft officials say that launch of Windows Server 2012 is perhaps the biggest release of their server products in history, bigger than NT. They also believe that Windows Server 2012 ushers in the era of the cloud operating system.

Do you believe the release of Windows Server 2012 is a breakthrough in the server industry? And do you think Microsoft Cloud OS will be the winner in the competition among emerging Cloud operating systems?

Thanks for sharing your opinion :)

Kind regards,
Aliona Kavalevich
Altabel Group – Professional software development

The IT world continues to sprint forward at an unrelenting pace and these are its five hottest trends so far in 2012. Let’s count them down.

5. The projectization of IT

Projects have always been a major part of IT, but in the past there were also a lot of IT resources dedicated to keeping the lights on and keeping the world running. Companies now take those operational aspects of IT for granted and want that existing infrastructure automated as much as possible and for as cheaply as possible. There’s little glory or job security in keeping the company’s existing systems on life support.
That’s why outsourcing and the cloud are such hot commodities. They allow companies to offload IT operational costs and focus their IT staff on the next project to upgrade systems, streamline business processes, and launch new IT projects to transform the business. More than ever, IT is all about the projects. It’s about the vendors that can help support IT projects (and there are infrastructure jobs for IT pros there). It’s about the business analysts and project managers who can organize people and resources to pull off projects on time and on budget. It’s about the CIOs who now base their budget and staffing decisions largely on projects rather than just the cost of keeping the server room running.

4. PC/Mobile convergence

Employees are more mobile than ever. There are a lot of factors driving that, from increased telecommuting to work/life balance where people leave early to pick up their kids and then work the rest of the afternoon from a cafe or the stands at the soccer field. There are also industries such as transportation and health care that have always had lots of non-desk employees and have had to shoe-horn computing solutions into their work environments.
The growing capabilities of smartphones and tablets are filling many of these needs as these mobile devices become more able to do the tasks of a full PC. Still, there are times when workers can be even more productive when working with a full keyboard and mouse. That’s why we’re beginning to see the rise of products like Motorola Webtop (a Smartphone docking solution), Ubuntu for Android (desktop OS embedded in a Smartphone), and Microsoft Surface (a tablet with a kickstand and keyboard cover). The lines between traditional PCs and mobile devices continue to blur.

3. Desktop thinning

Let’s be honest. The proliferation of mobile devices and the Bring Your Own Device trend has created a lot of headaches and nightmare scenarios for the IT department. For companies that need stronger security and more control over the employee environment, one of the easiest answers to the problem is to move to solutions like desktop virtualization or terminal services from vendors like VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft.
That allows the IT department to create a standard environment with all the company apps that employees can access from a company PC, their home PC or laptop (over VPN), or even a tablet or Smartphone. The environment looks and feels like a traditional PC but the apps and all the data remain on the company servers which are more secure and easier for the IT department to manage and troubleshoot. This technology has been around for years, as “thin clients.” But there are three factors driving it forward in 2012: 1.) BYOD, 2.) mobile devices, and 3.) it lets companies delay PC upgrades since it pushes all of the heavy lifting to the servers. So companies still aren’t going to thin clients in large numbers, but their desktop environments are getting a lot thinner.

2. Big Data

If “Cloud Computing” has been the overhyped and overused IT term of the last several years, the new buzz phrase of 2012 is “Big Data.” Like Cloud, Big Data gets abused by marketers. The main thing you need to understand when it comes to Big Data is that it’s about bringing together the “structured” internal data that your company has always used for its reports and mixing it with public “unstructured” data like social media streams and freely available government data (on traffic, agriculture, crime, etc.).
The act of combining these two types of data can give you new insights into how your customers feel about your products versus your competitors (from the social media streams), it can help you anticipate changes in product demand, it can help you use government trending data to anticipate the growth or decline of markets, and more. That’s why Big Data is such a big deal. But, don’t be fooled. It’s still in its infancy. There aren’t a ton of great commercial tools yet that can help you harness Big Data. It takes the right IT pros who know how to work some data magic and they are in high demand.

1. Cloud, cloud, and cloud

There are essentially three types of clouds — the full Internet cloud (some call it the “public cloud”), the private cloud (which looks a lot like a traditional data center, but with lots of virtualization), and the hybrid cloud (an integrated mix of public and private clouds). Make no mistake; all three types of clouds are thriving in 2012. The public cloud is the one that most people think of when they hear “cloud” and it’s mostly about hosted apps like Salesforce.com and Workday.com as well as Internet-hosted infrastructure like Rackspace and Amazon AWS. But, we’re increasingly seeing traditional IT players like Microsoft, IBM, and HP quietly become big players in the cloud as well.
The private cloud and the hybrid cloud are for larger companies and organizations that need stronger security or have legacy apps that are not easily moved or migrated to the cloud. Both of these types of cloud solutions are picking up steam, especially in companies that have already moved their easy stuff to the cloud and are now digging in and dealing with some of the big, expensive, entrenched stuff.

What are the hottest IT trends in your world so far in 2012?

Best Regards,
Kristina Kozlova
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

When you say “cloud” somebody’s imagination draws a sky with dozens of funny-shaped airy clouds, IT folks’ mind will recall companies’ names like Microsoft, Google, Dropbox, Amazon. Indeed, cloud computing has contributed to the business world tremendously, still there is much skepticism around such kind of services, reliability and security of remote clouds. Naturally when you store all your data in the cloud you “shift” control over it and rely on a cloud provider – here your fears of data possibly to be lost, damaged, leaked or hacked, services and sites to be kicked offline, come on to the stage. Legally according to the agreement between you and provider the service provider would be responsible should any of the aforementioned occur, but at the end of the day the possible losses endured by the business resorting to the cloud are greater than the cloud service provider’s since such actions could result in the complete destruction of the business. So a decision of moving to the cloud is a serious one.

Interesting that more than a third (36%) named security a main issue holding back uptake for them. This concern is contradictory due to a number of factors:
Firstly, the whole point of cloud computing is that the applications and data being used are sitting on multiple servers at once in data centers located around the world. Thus attacking one part of the infrastructure becomes virtually a waste of time as redundancy will always ensure access to this data. It means attacking data or performance of a targeted company becomes almost “mission impossible”.
Secondly, it makes sense to view security matter from the perspective of the capabilities of the cloud computing systems versus ones of internal software systems. How high are chances that a large cloud provider won’t have far more resources to direct at security than the average enterprise? The infrastructure of cloud computing systems is comprised of machinery and technology on the cutting edge of technological advancements in addition to the far-advanced skills and knowledge of their workers – doubtful that this is accessible to an average business or computer user. Therefore, the business has a greater chance of loss handling the company data and software internally. As more and more organizations make the move into the cloud, it’s certain that safety and security measures only increase.

Experts say a more reasonable concern relates to resilience and outages, not data breach. Outages of Amazon or Microsoft are regularly reported. They can be caused by freak weather like for instance happened to Amazon Web Services resulting in such popular services as Instagram and Netflix being pushed offline for a number of hours. Instagram’s outage hit the headlines due to a short period of downtime, but what if smaller companies using cloud providers face their sites knocked offline – how high up their cloud provider’s list of priorities will it be to get it fixed? Well, in this case for web sites it’s of vital importance to be hosted with multiple cloud providers since this makes sites virtually almost unassailable experiencing close to zero downtime.

Worries about legal compliance are probably more justifiable. Under the Data Protection Act, organisations have to agree that personal data will not be moved outside a particular group of named European countries, but a cloud provider may be storing data in multiple jurisdictions. This problem isn’t insurmountable (personal data can be anonymised, for example), but it does make the decision to move to the cloud a more complex one.

To conclude, cloud computing service providers treat security, availability, privacy and legal compliance issues very seriously since this is the essence of their very business. СSPs mostly have better machinery, technology and skills and invest more in their further advancement than an average enterprise could afford itself. Loss or damage of any data by a cloud services provider or long downtime does not only implicate a possible demise or huge direct and indirect losses of the business to which the service was provided, but can be partially or completely fatal for the cloud computing service business and its reputation. Cloud services providers are legally implied with massive liability which is very incentive for them to preserve a high quality of their services and treat issues with due diligence.
Or don’t you agree? :)

Kind regards,
Helen Boyarchuk – Business Development Manager (LI page)
Helen.Boyarchuk@altabel.com | Skype ID: helen_boyarchuk
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


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