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Paul Merrell

Cloud Computing: The Nine Features of an Ideal PaaS Cloud - 0 views

  • What sort of cloud computer(s) should we be building or expecting from vendors? Are there issues of lock-in that should concern customers of either SaaS clouds or PaaS clouds? I’ve been thinking about this problem as the CEO of a PaaS cloud computing company for some time. Clouds should be open. They shouldn’t be proprietary. More broadly, I believe no vendor currently does everything that’s required to serve customers well. What’s required for such a cloud? I think an ideal PaaS cloud would have the following nine features:
  • 1. Virtualization Layer Network Stability
  • 2. API for Creation, Deletion, Cloning of Instances
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  • 3. Application Layer Interoperability
  • 4. State Layer Interoperability
  • 5. Application Services (e.g. email infrastructure, payments infrastructure)
  • 6. Automatic Scale (deploy and forget about it)
  • 7. Hardware Load Balancing
  • 8. Storage as a Service
  • 9. “Root”, If Required
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Paul Merrell

BitTorrent Sync creates private, peer-to-peer Dropbox, no cloud required | Ars Technica - 6 views

  • BitTorrent today released folder syncing software that replicates files across multiple computers using the same peer-to-peer file sharing technology that powers BitTorrent clients. The free BitTorrent Sync application is labeled as being in the alpha stage, so it's not necessarily ready for prime-time, but it is publicly available for download and working as advertised on my home network. BitTorrent, Inc. (yes, there is a legitimate company behind BitTorrent) took to its blog to announce the move from a pre-alpha, private program to the publicly available alpha. Additions since the private alpha include one-way synchronization, one-time secrets for sharing files with a friend or colleague, and the ability to exclude specific files and directories.
  • BitTorrent Sync provides "unlimited, secure file-syncing," the company said. "You can use it for remote backup. Or, you can use it to transfer large folders of personal media between users and machines; editors and collaborators. It’s simple. It’s free. It’s the awesome power of P2P, applied to file-syncing." File transfers are encrypted, with private information never being stored on an external server or in the "cloud." "Since Sync is based on P2P and doesn’t require a pit-stop in the cloud, you can transfer files at the maximum speed supported by your network," BitTorrent said. "BitTorrent Sync is specifically designed to handle large files, so you can sync original, high quality, uncompressed files."
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    Direct P2P encrypted file syncing, no cloud intermediate, which should translate to far more secure exchange of files, with less opportunity for snooping by governments or others, than with cloud-based services. 
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    Hey Paul, is there an open source document management system that I could hook the BitTorrent Sync to?
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    More detail please. What do you want to do with the doc management system? Platform? Server-side or stand-alone? Industrial strength and highly configurable or lightweight and simple? What do you mean by "hook?" Not that I would be able to answer anyway. I really know very little about BitTorrent Sync. In fact, as far as I'd gone before your question was to look at the FAQ. It's linked from . But there's a link to a forum on the same page. Giving the first page a quick scan confirms that this really is alpha-state software. But that would probably be a better place to ask. (Just give them more specific information of what you'd like to do.) There are other projects out there working on getting around the surveillance problem. I2P is one that is a farther along than BitTorrent Sync and quite a bit more flexible. See . (But I haven't used it, so caveat emptor.)
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    There is a great list of PRISM Proof software at http://prism-break.org/. Includes a link to I2P. I want to replace gmail though, but would like another Web based system since I need multi device access. Of course, I need to replace my Google Apps / Google Docs system. That's why I asked about a PRISM Proof sync-share-store DMS. My guess is that there are many users similarly seeking a PRISM Proof platform of communications, content and collaborative computing systems. BusinessIndiser.com is crushed with articles about Google struggling to squirm out from under the NSA PRISM boot-on-the-back-of-their-neck situation. As if blaming the NSA makes up for the dragnet that they consented/allowed/conceded to cover their entire platform. Perhaps we should be watching Germany? There must be tons of startup operations underway, all seeking to replace Google, Amazon, FaceBook, Microsoft, Skype and so many others. It's a great day for Libertyware :)
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    Is the NSA involvement the "Kiss of Death"? Google seems to think so. I'm wondering what the impact would be if ZOHO were to announce a PRISM Proof productivity platform?
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    It is indeed. The E.U. has far more protective digital privacy rights than we do (none). If you're looking for a Dropbox replacement (you should be), for a cloud-based solution take a look at . Unlike Dropbox, all of the encryption/decryption happens on your local machine; Wuala never sees your files unencrypted. Dropbox folks have admitted that there's no technical barrier to them looking at your files. Their encrypt/decrypt operations are done in the cloud (if they actually bother) and they have the key. Which makes it more chilling that the PRISM docs Snowden link make reference to Dropbox being the next cloud service NSA plans to add to their collection. Wuala also is located (as are its servers) in Switzerland, which also has far stronger digital data privacy laws than the U.S. Plus the Swiss are well along the path to E.U. membership; they've ratified many of the E.U. treaties including the treaty on Human Rights, which as I recall is where the digital privacy sections are. I've begun to migrate from Dropbox to Wuala. It seems to be neck and neck with Dropbox on features and supported platforms, with the advantage of a far more secure approach and 5 GB free. But I'd also love to see more approaches akin to IP2 and Bittorrent Sync that provide the means to bypass the cloud. Don't depend on government to ensure digital privacy, route around the government voyeurs. Hmmm ... I wonder if the NSA has the computer capacity to handle millions of people switching to encrypted communication? :-) Thanks for the link to the software list.
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    Re: Google. I don't know if it's the 'kiss of death" but they're definitely going to take a hit, particularly outside the U.S. BTW, I'm remembering from a few years back when the ODF Foundation was still kicking. I did a fair bit of research on the bureaucratic forces in the E.U. that were pushing for the Open Document Exchange Formats. That grew out of a then-ongoing push to get all of the E.U. nations connected via a network that is not dependent on the Internet. It was fairly complete at the time down to the national level and was branching out to the local level and the plan from there was to push connections to business and then to Joe Sixpack and wife. Interop was key, hence ODEF. The E.U. might not be that far away from an ability to sever the digital connections with the U.S. Say a bunch of daisy-chained proxy anonymizers for communications with the U.S. Of course they'd have to block the UK from the network and treat it like it is the U.S. There's a formal signals intelligence service collaboration/integration dating back to WW 2, as I recall, among the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Don't remember its name. But it's the same group of nations that were collaborating on Echelon. So the E.U. wouldn't want to let the UK fox inside their new chicken coop. Ah, it's just a fantasy. The U.S. and the E.U. are too interdependent. I have no idea hard it would be for the Zoho folk to come up with desktop/side encryption/decryption. And I don't know whether their servers are located outside the reach of a U.S. court's search warrant. But I think Google is going to have to move in that direction fast if it wants to minimize the damage. Or get way out in front of the hounds chomping at the NSA's ankles and reduce the NSA to compost. OTOH, Google might be a government covert op. for all I know. :-) I'm really enjoying watching the NSA show. Who knows what facet of their Big Brother operation gets revealed next?
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    ZOHO is an Indian company with USA marketing offices. No idea where the server farm is located, but they were not on the NSA list. I've known Raju Vegesna for years, mostly from the old Web 2.0 and Office 2.0 Conferences. Raju runs the USA offices in Santa Clara. I'll try to catch up with him on Thursday. How he could miss this once in a lifetime moment to clean out Google, Microsoft and SalesForce.com is something I'd like to find out about. Thanks for the Wuala tip. You sent me that years ago, when i was working on research and design for the SurDocs project. Incredible that all our notes, research, designs and correspondence was left to rot in Google Wave! Too too funny. I recall telling Alex from SurDocs that he had to use a USA host, like Amazon, that could be trusted by USA customers to keep their docs safe and secure. Now look what i've done! I've tossed his entire company information set into the laps of the NSA and their cabal of connected corporatists :)
Paul Merrell

AT&T ups the ante in speech recognition | Signal Strength - CNET News - 2 views

  • It's developed a core technology platform, known as Watson, which is a cloud-based system of services that not only identifies words but interprets meaning and context to deliver more accurate results. The system itself is built on servers that model and compare speech to recorded voices. Watson is an evolving platform that with more data is able to adapt and learn so that it continues to improve accuracy and also cross reference data to use speech as input for getting to all kinds of communication and data. "We are really on the cusp of a technology revolution in speech and language technology," said Mazin Gilbert, executive director of speech and language technology at AT&T Labs. "It's no longer about simply trying to get the words right. It's about adding intelligence to interpret what is being said and then using that to apply to other modes of communication, such as text or video."
  • The system is designed to get more accurate over time as it learns the speech patterns of large numbers of users.
Gary Edwards

ongoing · What's "Cloud Interop"? - 0 views

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    The question that seems more important than all the rest is "Can I afford to switch vendors?" Let's consider some examples. When printers wear out, you can buy new printers from whoever with little concern for switching cost. If you're unhappy with your current servers, you can replace them with models from lots of vendors (Sun, Dell, HP, IBM, others) without worrying too much about compatibility (well, you may have some racking and cabling pain); the issues are price, performance, and support. If you're grouchy about your OS, you can move between *n*x flavors like Debian, SUSE, and Solaris pretty freely in most (granted, not all) cases; with maybe some deployment and sysadmin pain. If you're unhappy with your desktop environment, well too bad, you're stuck. Your users are too deeply bought into some combination of Outlook calendaring and Excel macros and Sharepoint collab. The price of rebuilding the whole environment is simply too high for most businesses to consider. If you're unhappy with your Oracle licensing charges, you probably have to suck it up and deal with it. SQL is a good technology but a lousy standard, offering near-zero interoperability; the cost of re-tooling your apps so they'll run on someone else's database is probably unthinkable. Like they say, you date your systems vendor but you marry Larry Ellison.
Paul Merrell

Cloud Has Shrinking Effect on StarOffice Price Tag - 0 views

  • Last Friday Sun Microsystems, its fortunes about as low as a snake’s belly, moved its StarOffice franchise into a new Cloud Computing unit with clear instructions to “grow revenues.” StarOffice 9, the latest rev of the Microsoft wannabe, was sent to market Monday priced at $34.95 for a one-off download, half the price of its predecessor, leaving one to assume that it wasn’t selling at 70 bucks – especially since pretty much the same thing can be had for nothing from OpenOffice.org.
  • Volume licenses from Sun start at $25 per user.
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    The author clearly missed that Sun is a full-fledged Microsoft partner and that StarOffice 9, of all OpenOffice.org clones, is the only one that has write support for both ODF v. 1.2 and ODF v. 1.1, the latter of which is the only ODF version being implemented by Microsoft. The other OOo clones write only to ODF 1.2, which is dramatically different from ODF 1.2. So StarOffice will almost certainly have better interop via ODF with MS Office 2007 than will OOo 3.x or Lotus Symphony. For $25 per seat in the enterprise, $34.95 retail. The author simply misses that "pretty much the same thing can [NOT] be had for nothing from OpenOffice.org." There is a method to the claimed Sun madness, methinks. IBM gets left standing at the altar again.
Gary Edwards

Can Cloud Computing Achieve Interoperable Platforms? - 0 views

  • the fact is that today if a customer has heavily invested in either platform then there isn't a straightforward way for customers to extricate themselves from the platform and switch to another vendor. In addition there is not a competitive marketplace of vendors providing standard/interoperable platforms as there are with email hosting or Web hosting providers.
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    Response from Microsoft's Dare Obasanjo to the Tim Bray blog: Get in the Cloud. .. "When it comes to cloud computing platforms, you have all of the same problems described above and a few extra ones. The key wrinkle with cloud computing platforms is that there is no standardization of the APIs and platform technologies that underlie these services. The APIs provided by Amazon's cloud computing platform (EC2/S3/EBS/etc) are radically different from those provided by Google App Engine (Datastore API/Python runtime/Images API/etc). For zero lock-in to occur in this space, there need to be multiple providers of the same underlying APIs. Otherwise, migrating between cloud computing platforms will be more like switching your application from Ruby on Rails and MySQL to Django and PostgreSQL (i.e. a complete rewrite)...." Although cloud computing vendors are not explicitly trying to lock-in customers to their platform, the fact is that today if a customer has heavily invested in either platform then there isn't a straightforward way for customers to extricate themselves from the platform and switch to another vendor. In addition there is not a competitive marketplace of vendors providing standard/interoperable platforms as there are with email hosting or Web hosting providers.
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