iCloud

Cloud Computing 2011: The Year in Review

Whereas Time magazine selected “The Protester” as the Person of the Year, the award for Technology of the Year surely goes to Cloud Computing. 2011 marked the year that cloud computing emerged with force and gravitas onto the enterprise landscape. In the case of enterprise CIOs and IT leaders pondering the use of cloud computing infrastructures, the question of the day suddenly morphed from whether to engage the services of a cloud provider to when and how. Over the course of the year, cloud providers grew, emerged, acquired companies or were acquired, raised venture capital and announced products at a dizzying pace.

Within months, the cloud computing landscape transformed from the Amazon, Rackspace, Joyent, Terremark, Savvis show to something radically heterogeneous and complex. As more and more cloud technologies proliferated, analysts and technologists alike began to feel that the term “cloud computing” itself was losing its meaning. Meanwhile, news agencies and blogs struggled to keep up with the pace of innovation and deployment as startups and enterprises alike announced new, exciting and powerful cloud technologies day after day, week after week.

Below are some of the highlights of cloud computing in 2011, the year of the cloud:

• In January and February, Amazon Web Services busted out of the gate in 2011 with the launch of Elastic Beanstalk and CloudFormation. Elastic Beanstalk automates the process of deploying an application on Amazon’s virtual servers. CloudFormation automates the provisioning of virtual resources using templates that streamline the setup of an infrastructure for deployments of new instances.

• In May, Citrix announced plans to launch Project Olympus, an IaaS platform that allows customers to leverage the OpenStack operating system code to create public or private clouds. Project Olympus marked the first commercialization of OpenStack and thereby inaugurated a series of commercial OpenStack deployments throughout the remainder of 2011.

• In May, Red Hat launched IaaS platform CloudForms and PaaS platform OpenShift. CloudForms signaled genuine innovation in the IaaS space because of its Application Lifecycle Management capabilities and hybrid infrastructure flexibility. OpenShift, meanwhile, presented direct competition to Google Apps, Windows Azure and Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk because of the breadth of its deployment platform and claims about increased portability.

• In June, Apple announced details of iCloud, a software framework that synchronizes files across multiple devices such as iPads, iPhones and personal computers, and pushes software updates to a constellation of devices in unison. In a keynote address at the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), Steve Jobs famously remarked that iCloud would “demote the PC and Mac to being a device,” because “we’re going to move the digital hub into the cloud.”

• In August, Amazon Web Services announced the launch of GovCloud, a private cloud for government agencies that complies with regulatory and compliance rules for the Federal government such as FISMA, FIPS 140-2 compliant end points, SAS-70, ISO 27001, and PCI DSS Level 1.

• In September, OpenStack, the open source cloud computing infrastructure that gained the backing of 144 companies including AMD, Canonical, Cisco, Dell, Intel and Citrix, released Diablo, its latest software version since the Cactus release in April 2011. Diablo, the first upgrade to OpenStack released on a 6 month schedule, upgrades its existing Nova, Object Storage and Glance components.

• Also in September, Joshua McKenty’s startup Piston Cloud Computing launched pentOS, one of the first enterprise grade versions of OpenStack for private clouds. With the launch of pentOS, Piston joined HP, Citrix Systems, Nebula and Dell in an elite group of vendors that commercialized the OpenStack platform in the latter half of 2011.

• In October, Rackspace revealed plans to turn over the leadership of OpenStack to an independent foundation. After founding OpenStack with the collaboration of NASA in the summer of 2010, Rackspace decided to hand over trademarks and copyrights to an independent foundation to ensure that OpenStack remains vendor neutral.

The meteoric rise of OpenStack constituted the cloud computing story of the year, by far. Commercial deployments of OpenStack by Piston Cloud Computing and other vendors underscored the emerging power of OpenStack as an increasingly competitive option to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) vendors such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. Moreover, OpenStack promised global cloud inter-operability and standards resulting from an open source organizational framework for which respect snowballed within the developer and enterprise community alike. Much of the story of cloud computing in 2012 will hinge on the ability of the OpenStack foundation to continue to promote the software framework’s adoption in the private sector and establish itself as a credible counterweight to first mover Amazon Web Services and other proprietary cloud vendors.

Categories: Amazon Web Services, Citrix Systems, Cloud Computing, Cloud Computing Market Share, Cloud Inter-Operability, Dell, HP, IaaS, iCloud, OpenStack, Piston Cloud Computing, Platform as a Service, Rackspace | 4 Comments

Quotes from Apple CEO Steve Jobs on iCloud and device synchronization at 2011 WWDC

The following text is a partial transcription of Steve Jobs’s June 6 keynote address at the 2011 Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), with a specific focus on Jobs’s remarks on the iCloud. Jobs introduced the vision for Apple’s iCloud product by discussing the contemporary difficulty of synchronizing files across multiple machines and devices. Apple’s CEO goes on to describe the comapny’s vision for iCloud and the changing nature of computing, more generally. Jobs proposes to relegate the PC and Mac to just another device and provide an infrastructure for a personal computing experience that enables synchronization across multiple devices. iCloud also pushes application updates to users in a way “that just works,” thereby absolving users of the responsibility of learning about cloud computing.

Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Inc, June 6 keynote address at the 2011 Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC):

“About 10 years ago we had one of our most important insights and that was, that the PC was going to become the digital hub for your digital life. What does that mean? It meant that’s where you were going to put your digital photos, where else were you going to put them? Your digital video off your digital camcorder, and of course your music. Right, you were going to acquire, in the device or potentially on your Mac, and you were going to basically sync it to the Mac, and everything was going to work fine.

And it did, for the better part of ten years, but it’s broken down in the last few years. Why?
Well, because the devices have changed. They now all have music. They now all have photos. They now all have video. And so if I acquire a song, I buy it right on my iPhone, I wanna get that to my other devices.

Right. I pick up my iPad and it doesn’t have that song on it. So I have to sync my iPhone to my Mac. Then I have to sync my other devices to the Mac to get that song but then they’ve deposited some photos on the Mac so I have to sync the iPhone again with the Mac to get those photos and keeping those devices in sync is driving us crazy. So we’ve got a great solution for this problem. And we think this solution is our next big insight. Which is we’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device. Just like an iPhone, an iPad or an iPod Touch. And we’re going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud.

Because all these new devices have communications built into them. They can all talk to the cloud whenever they want. And so now, if I get something on my iPhone it’s sent up to the cloud immediately. Let’s say I take some pictures with it, those pictures are in the cloud, and they are now pushed down to my devices completely automatically. And now everything’s in sync with me not even having to think about it. I don’t even have to take the devices out of my pocket. I don’t have to be near my Mac or PC.

Now some people think the cloud is just a hard disk in the sky. Right, and you take a bunch of stuff and you put it in your Dropbox or your iDisk or whatever and it transfers it up to the cloud and stores it and then you drag whatever you want back out on your other devices.

We think it’s way more than that and we call it iCloud. Now iCloud stores your content in the Cloud and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices. So it automatically uploads it, stores it and automatically pushes it to all your other devices. But also, it’s completely integrated with your apps and so everything happens automatically and there’s nothing new to learn. It’s just all works. It just works.”

Categories: Apple, iCloud | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Apple’s iCloud takes cloud computing beyond IaaS, PaaS and SaaS trinity

Contemporary discussions about cloud computing typically revolve around the concepts of Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). Amazon Web Services (AWS) constitutes the paradigmatic example of IaaS whereas Microsoft Azure aptly exemplifies PaaS while Salesforce.com illustrates SaaS. Where does Apple’s iCloud stand in relation to the Iaas, PaaS and SaaS trinity? Technically speaking, iCloud constitutes a SaaS application insofar as it represents a software product, delivered over the internet, that empowers users to:

•Synchronize photographs, music and iWork files across multiple devices such as iPads, iPhones and personal computers
•Remotely access iTunes or music files by matching them against iCloud’s online collection.
•Resume working where they left work on one device, upon opening a different one.
•Synchronize user settings such as passwords and browser settings across all devices.
•Enjoy free email, calendars and online storage.
•Leverage pushed updates to applications across all devices.

But taken as a whole, these features amount to a disruptive technology with the power to transform user relationships to personal computers in a way that the SaaS moniker fails to accurately capture. In other words, whereas cloud computing has traditionally acted either as a (1) platform for software development (IaaS or Paas); or (2) a mechanism for software delivery (Saas), iCloud promises to use cloud computing to create an infrastructure for personal productivity across PCs, Macs, iPads and iPhones. As Apple CEO Steve Jobs remarked in his keynote address at the 2011 WWDC conference, “We’re going to demote the PC and Mac to being a device. We’re going to move the digital hub into the cloud.”

Apple’s iCloud features all of the benefits that enterprises obtain from cloud computing in addition to some functionality specific to personal users. For example, just as enterprises often use cloud computing to harmonize updates across an ecosystem of machines, the iCloud serves the same purpose of keeping machines in sync. iCloud transforms the role of the personal computer from a platform for personal productivity to a means of inscribing upon a virtual environment for personal productivity. The personal computer becomes one point of access amongst many to an online space in which all of one’s personal productivity is performed. In other words, the iCloud promises to turn a cloud based, virtual environment into the fundamental plane for accessing music, pictures, writing, spreadsheets and more. Understood in these terms, the iCloud is less SaaS than an online space from which multiple SaaS applications originate and interact with a constellation of machines.

Read more about Apple’s iCloud, in Jobs’s own words, here.

Categories: Apple, Cloud Computing, iCloud | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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