A Brief History of Cloud Computing

There are probably as many definitions of Cloud Computing as there are self-acclaimed Cloud Specialist. Most of those definitions include pay-per-use, instant availability,  scalability, hardware abstraction, self-provisioning, virtualization and internet. A short but safe summary would be “Cloud Computing is a new way of delivering IT services: end users can deploy the services they need when they need them. Many of those services are available over the internet and users are only charged for what they consume.” The Cloud Computing market is typically segmented into public clouds (services offered over the internet), private clouds (internal enterprise) and hybrid clouds (a mix of both). The Public Cloud market is often sub-segmented into IAAS (Infrastructure as a Service), PAAS (Platform) and SAAS (Software).

Cloud Computing found its origin in the success of server virtualization and the possibilities to run IT more efficiently through server consolidation. Soon, visionaries came up with idea to bring virtualization to a next level by implementing some early storage and network virtualization techniques and thus making abstraction of the hardware in the entire data center. Add to this self-provisioning and auto scaling, and Cloud Computing was born. At the time it was called utility computing, however, and only Amazon – a bookstore – was good at it. Amazon saw a growing popularity of its EC2 (compute) and S3 (storage) and the Amazon API was being used by thousands of developers and many more customers to deploy and run infrastructure in the Cloud.

The first BYOC (build your own cloud) products that were brought to the market came from companies like Flexiscale (UK), 3Tera (US) and Q-layer (BE). They aimed at the ISP’s – who had an urgent need for innovation: ISP’s had entered into a price war amongst themselves and their market was now also threatened by newcomers like Amazon, Microsoft and Google. The first new services those ISP’s offered were nothing more than virtual machines – allowing them to run their facilities more efficiently and still charge the same prices to their customers. Soon, companies like Savvis, GoGrid and Rackspace added interfaces that enabled end users to control their own infrastructure. In early 2009, Sun Microsystems launched the Virtual Data Center (VDC), a graphical interface with drag&drop that enables users to create and manage a full virtual data center in the cloud.

Currently, the battle has moved to the Private Clouds. Enterprises seem to be ready to cloud-enable their infrastructure either in a purely Private or a Hybrid (enabling cloud-bursting to Public Clouds for certain services) environment. All the leading software providers have announced their products and I expect an important role for integrators and telcos to help enterprises to pick a best of breed for their own implementation.

Implementing a private cloud affects the entire business, including the entire IT infrastructure (hardware, software, services) but also most business processes (e.g. regulatory compliance). As none of the big software providers have teams with experience in all those fields – except maybe IBM – enterprises will  have to rely on integrators to build their clouds. I do expect, however, that quite a few enterprises will build their clouds all by themselves (e.g. Wall Street banks).

So what is the benefit? What is the promise of Cloud Computing? That really depends on the point of view you are taking. The CIO should be able to serve his customer more efficiently. The user at home will probably not be aware but they already use Animoto, Gmail, Flickr and Facebook – all of this not possible without Cloud Computing. The test engineer in an enterprise will be able to deploy his servers in seconds – not minutes. The CFO will be able to negotiate better conditions with his energy supplier thanks to more efficient metering of energy consumption. The are plenty of scenarios of how Cloud Computing benefits users and providers. In my opinion however, it all comes down to using new technologies to really abstract the hardware and to make, supply and use software independently from the hardware it runs on.

Read on at http://java.sys-con.com/node/1150011

How I Created a Global Cloud Product , Ran a Global Ad Campaign – In 24 hours and What Happened ?!

I have been closely involved in the Startup scene for quite some time now, in fact for slightly more than a decade. During this course, I have experimented with different business models – Setting up, Legal aspects, product management, customer feedback, sales, the works.

Given the recent take-off in  Cloud based businesses and with sometime in my hands, I decided to test the waters of the Cloud. For non-cloud folks, the Cloud represents a new way of using software – all you need is a PC, Browser and a Website link which allows you to access the software. For greater understanding of the Cloud, you can read the rest of my Blog posts.

So I tied up with a Cloud Provider as their reseller(more on that elsewhere) and started plotting my campaign. Fast forward, the product was ready, pricing catalog completed and branding done. Its time to jump into the lucrative(?) world of online ad campaigns. Given the nature of business, it was logical to try this with the new LinkedIn Ad product. simply put, I deduced I was in the B2B space and only corporate guys will buy this cloud software. Which means they pay a subscription month over month till they fall exhausted. While the subscription revenues pour in globally into my bank accounts. Or So I thought. You can check http://exult.runhosting.com for the full product details, with pricing et al.

Cutting short my logistics trip thru linkedin, Here I was on their Ad management site. So I created my Ad Campaign – Cloud Hosting. LinkedIn was kind enough to allow for two variations of the Ad. They were also kind enough to warn me to select payment only when someone clicks on my Ad(CTR) and not when someone sees my ad (CPC)

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Then came the real campaign planning as you can see below. This took several hours of thinking and coffee whichever order you deem fit!  So, I decided to do a Global campaign targetting decision makers with a Grand budget of $60 to be run for 24 hours.

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And I pressed Confirm!

The Campaign launched globally!  I ran it over a dawn to dusk schedule to cover the US and Europe market. There was no clicks or activity for the first few hours. So I had to retire to bed and wake up a Billionaire !  so as you can imagine the tension was palpable.

Next Day:

I jumped from my bed to check my LinkedIn account and my bank account simultaneously. I wasn’t sure if the bank was fast enough to credit my first billion so I kept another bank account on standby.

Sure enough, there were 3 folks who had clicked on my ads and wanted me to contact them. My heart skipped a beat. Sure enough, a Billion starts with a few dollars in the first place. and my ad had stopped giving me some more time to re-run my ads.

So I did tap away response emails with follow-up phone calls. To cut short my agony and sorrow, two of the leads didn’t respond to my mails. The third fellow from Delhi (of all places!) wanted to know how he can get a job away from India(at my expense and phone call). There ended my hopes of cruising the high seas as a Billionaire, the first Vegetarian One to conquer the Cloud.

Lesson Learnt:  To earn a small fortune in Las Vegas, You first come with a Large fortune!

Still, I do have the satisfaction of creating a Global product, launching a Global campaign, reaching thousands of decision makers, all with an investment of $60 and in 24 hours. Thats the Power of the Cloud which is essentially what I set out to Prove and had a Complete Success!

If you would like more details, do drop a note to nckumar@gmail.com or comment on this post. I will revert. Meantime, here are the snapshots from the campaign.

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