Cloud computing's secret sauce

Vivek Kundra, the federal government's first CIO, said recently that he likes cloud computing because it provides "access to powerful technology resources faster and at lower costs."

That's a great reason and perhaps it will be the key underlying drive behind cloud computing's increased popularity as an IT delivery mechanism. But should it be the reason? That is, are there other, better reasons to move to the cloud?

Yes, there are. Among them, as Dan Woods points out, is the increased control that end users, and not just IT, gains over critical IT infrastructure. While … Read more

Sleek and simple editor

Image editors are a dime a dozen these days, and a lot of them just aren't worth messing with. Image Editor and Converter Pro, however, is. It's not going to replace Photoshop, but it's a well-designed program that puts the most common photo-editing functions at your fingertips.

The program's interface is clearly modeled after Office 2007, which makes it extremely easy to navigate. Users simply open the image they want to edit and access the program's various tools through a set of well-organized tabs. The Edit tab contains basics, such as rotation, flipping, cropping, and … Read more

McAfee updates firewall hardware for enterprises

McAfee announced Tuesday the release of its new Firewall Enterprise 8 appliance, touting it as the next generation in firewall devices. The company is targeting the new firewall at security administrators trying to protect their networks from the growing threats of malware and hackers.

IT administrators will be able to set up and enforce policies to filter out thousands of different applications that can sometimes sneak past traditional firewalls, according to McAfee. By tapping into McAfee's cloud-based services and networks, users of the new Firewall Enterprise hardware should be able to keep up with newly developed malware and other … Read more

Meat the crew of the Starship Enterprise

Looking at this decidedly non-vegetarian Enterprise model, you might think, "Well, gee whiz, how hard can it be to make a replica of Captain Kirk's starship?"

It's not as easy as it looks. Trust me. This one looks much sturdier than the one my friend and I tried to make for a gingerbread house contest back in high school. Pro tip: Gingerbread does not, in fact, support the weight of the peppermint stick warp nacelles.

Nor does making a gingerbread Enterprise make the ladies flock to you.

(Via Gizmodo)

Gartner: Blended enterprise architecture on the way

Companies are not only aware of the number of enterprise architecture designs but will soon embrace their diversity, according to a new report from analyst firm Gartner.

Gartner analysts predict that 95 percent of companies will support multiple approaches to enterprise architecture (EA) by 2015 and that the majority of clients will need to support a mixture of more than one of these approaches based on their business needs.

The important thing to note is the realization that enterprises will have no choice but to blend these architecture types into one larger strategy. Gone are days of attempting to strictly … Read more

Mobile propping up enterprise IT

Despite Gartner projecting a 5.3 percent increase in IT spending in 2010 over 2009, and IT vendors reporting rosy earnings, venture capitalists have been moving away from investing as much in enterprise IT in the past several years. As The Wall Street Journal reports, IT represented 53 percent of VC deals in 2001 but it has plummeted to 33 percent in 2009.

It's not as if those VCs are holding their money. They're actively investing in health care, green tech, and other sectors...

...like mobile.

The irony with mobile is that while it's siphoning away VC … Read more

The changing face of private cloud

The debate over private clouds will likely continue in the foreseeable future as public-cloud usage becomes more acceptable in the enterprise, and private-cloud vendors offer more solutions-oriented approaches to create cloud-like infrastructure.

And it's only getting more confusing as the cloud term has effectively lost any specific meaning and is thrown around in relation to everything from Internet-based storage to grid computing.

To the extent that cloud offerings can be categorized for ease of discussion, I like RedMonk analyst Michael Cote's explanation. (He also uses a burger metaphor in describing these layers.)

IaaS = servers, storage PaaS = middleware SaaS = applications

Most vendors focused on private clouds are targeting the IaaS layer, which for ease of discussion is similar to Amazon Web Services (AWS) EC2. And while EC2 sets the tone for how most people think about clouds, it lacks (and maybe doesn't require?) the same kind of tooling enterprises need to manage their complete infrastructure.

Tooling and management is arguably the most important aspect for enterprise private clouds to be successful but may also be the most difficult to get right.

But tools may also be where the money is. And considering the cloud has yet to rain down the cash we all hope for, it seems like it's time to reset thinking a bit and focus more on enabling applications and infrastructure to make it appear more cloud-like rather than focusing on specifically making clouds. (Note: see my blog colleague James Urquhart's excellent series on DevOps to learn more about what happens after you have a cloud deployment.)

In terms of private-cloud software, its becoming less clear that enterprises want to run their own version of EC2, but perhaps that they want to make their existing infrastructure behave the same way--that is, allow for APIs and such to turn up VMs with a variety of images that are relevant to their organization.

And, perhaps more interestingly, I've recently heard from several enterprises that they are interested in programming-language and/or application-specific private clouds for Java application or other infrastructure like internal content management tools that require variability in their scaling. … Read more

IT pros happy with enterprise software support

Tech support often gets a bad rap, but information technology pros seem happy with the support they get from enterprise software vendors, according to the results of an IDC survey released Wednesday.

The report, "IDC Customer Satisfaction Study: Top Performers in Enterprise Software Support Services," revealed that IT professionals are quite satisfied with the overall support and individual support options provided by five of the top enterprise software companies.

The survey asked more than 1,000 IT pros to rate how happy they were with the software support provided by different vendors. Looking at the top five vendors, … Read more

Ruckus intros affordable enterprise access points

For the majority of homes and apartments, a home router such as the D-Link DIR-855 or Linksys WRT320N would make a viable wireless network. However, if you want to share the Internet with a few neighbors or cover a warehouse with a wireless signal, you'd need an enterprise-class access point. The problem is this type of access point is generally expensive.

Ruckus Wireless wants to change this fact and announced Monday its new line of enterprise-class access points, the ZoneFlex 7300 series, which includes two products, the ZoneFlex 7343 and ZoneFlex 7363. The former is a single-band (2.4GHz) Wireless-N access point that offers speeds up to 300Mbps and costs $499. According to Ruckus, this is the only sub-$500 enterprise Wireless-N access point on the market.

The ZoneFlex 7363, on the other hand, has support for the dual-band standard (2.4GHz and 5GHz) and offers the maximum bandwidth of up to 600Mbps. For this reason it costs $100 more than the ZoneFlex 7343.

According to Ruckus, the ZoneFlex 7300 series models are the first access points in their class to integrate Ruckus patented smart antenna array and dynamic beam-forming technology, called BeamFlex, designed to deliver high throughput speeds at long range.… Read more

Dell earnings: Enterprise spending rebounds

Dell reported a better-than-expected fourth quarter as enterprise sales rebounded. The company said that it was "cautiously optimistic" that commercial IT spending will improve throughout the year ahead amid "ongoing signs of stabilization."

Dell reported fiscal fourth quarter net income of $334 million, or 17 cents a share, on revenue of $14.9 billion, up 11 percent from a year ago. That sales tally was $1 billion more than Wall Street expected. Non-GAAP earnings were $544 million, or 28 cents a share, a penny ahead of Wall Street estimates.

For fiscal 2010, Dell reported net income … Read more