Hardware

Hybrid computing, not cloud computing, is the future of technology

TechRepublic member dcolbert believes that cloud computing will compliment -- rather than replace -- traditional local computing. Do you agree? Is hybrid computing the future of technology?

One of the few remaining print technology magazines with a viable market recently did a series on turning failure into success. Among these articles was a piece on Larry Ellison's vision of thin-client network computing.

In 1995, there was a sudden uptick among executive management across the world of secure thin-client computing devices. The concept was that a single piece of "big iron" in the background would house all data and applications, and that small, light-weight, and inexpensive thin-client network devices would sit on user desktops and access the server side data on the back end.

Oracle's Larry Ellison was one of the driving forces evangelizing this paradigm shift in how we approached the end-user computing experience. Supposed benefits included lower TCO due to reduced administration, plus less expensive equipment, longer life cycles, and increased security.

In reality, these machines turned out to be stripped-down PCs with very limited processors, no local internal storage, and often no optical, magnetic, or -- at the time -- still viable, floppy disk drives. Otherwise, they hooked up to the same industry standard 17" CRTs, PC 101 layout keyboards, and two or three button mice.

The improved security was always a dubious claim. The lack of any kind of disk input/output (we were still some years away from inexpensive flash media thumb drives) was supposed to prevent malicious employees from transferring data onto removable media in corporate espionage schemes. This limited the portability of data for other, legitimate reasons as well -- but if the model was a centralized server with thin clients hooked into it, why would you want to have your data portable outside of your network anyhow, right?

At the time, I was working for MCI VANSIS/SGUS (Value Added Networking System Integration Services/State Government University Systems). A high-level executive asked me to perform an analysis on thin-client computing. I'm not sure that what I came up with was exactly what he had in mind, but I do know that MCI never instituted a large-scale thin-client computing initiative in that group.

Within my report, I stated that ultimately, these systems were closed architecture machines that had a very limited life span. I didn't know that there was a name for Moore's Law at that point in my career, but I had worked with PCs and related technology long enough to realize that things change quite a bit every couple of years.

I claimed that users want to be able to store their data locally, to copy it, take it to other machines, and even work on it from home. I felt that the lack of a local hard drive was a serious negative, and although I had not begun my experience as an early adopter and core expert on high-availability solutions, I also realized intuitively that the centralized server model introduced a single point of failure.

With the traditional model of PC computing, even today, if you have a copy of your data on removable media and your PC or your connection to the network or back-end server goes down, you can find another machine and keep going. With the thin-client model that was proposed in 1995, if any of these components failed, you weren't doing any work until the issue was resolved.

I presented all of these opinions to this executive, but I never heard back from him. I often wonder if he watched network computing devices arrive and then fail for most of the reasons I outlined in my presentation.

Some of the early adopters struggled with these proprietary network devices, which required special keyboards, mice, monitors, and non-standard power supplies -- devices that locked them into small vendors who charged far more for these components than the same commodity PC equivalent.

Other shops ended up replacing these devices with full PCs a couple years later. After all, PCs had quadruple the processing power, huge (for the time) hard drives, and the ability to inexpensively write optical media – at the same price they had paid for the dead-end, dated, non-upgradable network computing devices.

Thin-client network computing devices (which, 20 years earlier, were called "dumb-terminal/mainframe" computing devices) quietly died a second death, for the same reasons they had been replaced by the IBM-compatible PC in business applications during the PC revolution of the ‘80s. I thought to myself, "Well, I nailed it, and I'll certainly never find myself concerned with that model of computing again.”

But then something happened. The Internet became the single most important driver of personal computing. Everyone ended up on their PCs, hooked to the Internet, with broadband connections, on machines so incredibly powerful that companies like Sun gave up on what had always been considered "powerhouse, industrial, RISC computing platforms."

Coincidentally, people started suggesting that "cloud computing” was the new wave of how people would use their PCs. Over the last few years, that quiet buzz has turned into a crescendo of incessant chatter about how the future of computing is "in the cloud." Again, Larry Ellison is one of the most vocal proponents of this model, but it still has many of the same inherent risks as before.

The difference this time is that low-cost "disposable" machines are not the key selling point – instead, it’s the convenience of centralized computing. And while apps and data are stored in a centralized machine, it isn't quite "thin-client" computing we're talking about. That’s an important distinction that people seem to miss when they claim that the arrival of the cloud is the model that Larry Ellison and other network computing device advocates proposed in the mid-90s.

Thin-client computing utilizes an application and data on a central server. All of the heavy lifting occurs on a machine across the network. The network computing device -- the thin-client -- only handles screen refreshes and input/output. Citrix and Windows Terminal Server are two common examples of this paradigm of computing.

In contrast, when you load a web app, it loads and executes in a native engine on your PC. A slower PC will perform worse than a faster machine. The same basic principles of local computing apply with cloud computing, but you're still dependent on that remote back-end server. If it’s down or unreachable, you can't get to your applications or your data.

Many cloud solutions, such as Google Docs, promise to deliver "local, offline" access to both apps and data. Again, this is not the same thing as thin-client computing. In fact, it is just a web delivery of the same model of local computing that has been popular since the PC revolution of the ‘80s. A copy of the app and a copy of the data sit on your local machine. Instead of using the web to execute the app and load the data, you access it locally -- but through your browser (an added layer of complexity) instead of your desktop.

You might find it ironic, but I’m writing this with Google Docs, which means that I actually use the cloud-based model that I seem to be writing against in this piece. But do not misunderstand me. I’m not saying that the cloud model will fail. Cloud computing will complement -- rather than replace -- traditional local computing. In my honest opinion, a hybrid approach to computing is the future of technology.

About

Donovan Colbert has over 16 years of experience in the IT Industry. He's worked in help-desk, enterprise software support, systems administration and engineering, IT management, and is a regular contributor for TechRepublic. Currently, his profession...

31 comments
angelascanio
angelascanio

Your articles are EXCELLENT, but they would be much comprehensible -and visually attractive- if you could put one or two diagrams, pictures, a snapshot of a slide, or any other visual element that could reinforce the idea, mainly for readers from other non-english countries, like me. We could quickly get the picture or catch the main idea of the article, making it more friendly. Keep the good articles. Un abrazo.

santeewelding
santeewelding

It's complement with an, "e", Sonja and Donovan. Otherwise, Donovan, that was an astoundingly good piece. The only mind-bender for me was trying to fit "compliment" into such a thing so high-flown.

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

TechRepublic member dcolbert believes that cloud computing will compliment -- rather than replace -- traditional local computing. Do you agree? Is hybrid computing the future of technology?

dcolbert
dcolbert

Gracias por sus palabras buenas. Yo entiendo es muy dificil a aprendar un idioma nueva. Su inglis es mas mayor tan mi espanol. :) In my technical articles, I've tried to include diagrams - but hadn't considered doing so in my editorials. I'll talk to my editors and see if I can include a little more graphic flair in future stories.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Google Doc spell-checker is still a little sketchy, and I'm actually a horrible speller. It is all the tricky ones that get me. Similar, familiar, definitely, occurred and their ilk. I suppose I am in good company. Funny, seeing it spelled correctly, I can see immediately that you're right, and that it is a word I habitually spell wrong. (Blame it on Google Docs, and both the writer and the editor walk on a technicality.) :)

andy.gravett
andy.gravett

I have read quite a lot of posts and wanted to try and give my opinion, first off I work for Citrix so if I appear biased I'm sorry. I think there are a few things that we need to clear up. 1. like real cloud's there are many types of cloud architectures (Public, Private Enterprise, Hybrid). 2. One of the goals of Private Enterprise cloud's from an business perspective is cost saving but this is not at the loss of productivity or security, the main areas of focus are improved IT service agility, infrastructure and service management and the use of existing surplus server farm processing capacity i.e. do more with less with secure Server Virtualisation platform's like Xen Server Enterprise and Virtual Desktop Infrastructures, it is not just flipping services and data over to a hosted service provider solution, though some services and testing maybe suitable for this it is normally only really small pilot type activity. Current server based computing offer's superior security and management and agility over distributed client server based architectures by controlling access to centralised data that can be backed up or mirrored or both and provide a single point of security and audit. It comes in many flavours the current Citrix XenDesktop 4.0 offers Hosted VDI and Published Applications or Streamed Virtual Desktop's and App's (enabling mobile users to disconnect from the network and roam for a predefined lease period) so in effect a hybrid cloud :-) 3. There are also new solutions from public cloud providers like Amazon EC2 to secure and extend Enterprise Cloud architectures onto their enterprise cloud solution and ring fence the architecture, thus allowing businesses to leverage the extra power during heavy load or DR scenario's or the entire enterprise in the cloud on service providers like Softlayer. All of this does not mean you should just jump in blindly and not perform due diligence but I think that depending on the cloud architecture you are adopting to meet your business needs and the level of security your business data requires will determine if you need and a public, private enterprise or hybrid cloud or not. And there you have it my completely biased reasons for adopting an enterprise cloud based approach to IT service delivery :-)

jck
jck

And, it's going to be a variable hybrid based on the business requirements of the client involved. Right now, my place of work is trying out Google Apps. To me, I see some value in it. However, I posed the question to one of the IT staff here. If: - there are zero-cost, web-based clients to be had here - there are zero-cost, network based communications programs we can use (both in-house and internet-based) to do voice, video and scribble conferencing - we already have the hardware in-house Why go to cloud? I can see offsiting storage of non-critical files to a site where we don't have to continually upgrade storage. However, what reliability, cost savings, timeliness of support does the cloud offer over our current setup? I think in 2-3 years, they'll see that flipping everything to the cloud like they want to do is going to end up costing them.

CG IT
CG IT

businesses are always looking for a way to save a buck, to make a buck. Computer hardware and software mfgs are no different. They have to sell their products to make money and stay in business. That means they have to continually provide new products and then convince those that would buy the product they need it. Businesses and consumers see computers like typewriters, file cabinets, or TVs and cars. Capital equipment that they pay for and then depreciate over time. There will always be those people who have to have a new car every year. The latest gadget, the newest TV but the vast majority can't afford it. Cloud Computing, where applications and data are provided to users from a centralized server via the internet, and are charged a monthly fee for it's use, is a way for computer hardware and software mfgs to change computers and the software from a capital equipment investment that those who buy it often keep it longer than 3 or 4 years to a utility like phone service, electricity, heat, water, and credit cards that you pay for by the month. The computer and hardware mfgs sell this idea by telling businesses and consumers that they will save money. The biggest sell to business is that cloud computing will reduce their IT budget. But what the cloud computing providers don't say is that while the service might save capital expenditure of new equipment, its services adds to their monthly operating expenses thus increases their monthly revenue requirements. Thus what is what I call the Cloud Computing paradox. The computer hardware and software manufacturers can't rely upon the those who will always want the latest and greatest software and hardware to stay in business. That market is small in comparison to the larger world wide market of computer businesses and consumers who buy computers and software, then use it for years not spending any more money on it before upgrading to new. The paradox is, with cloud computing, you'll have to pay a monthly fee on top of your internet access fee to use your computer. You have to be connected to the internet. With a purchase of computer equipment and software, you don't have to be connected to the internet to use your computer and you don't have to pay a montly fee to use the equipment you bought. Cloud computing you do.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I work for a healthcare solution provider. This is going to be complicated, and I've got to be a little careful - but... here goes: We host Electronic Practice Management and Electronic Medical Record services (EPM/EMR) for small, medium and large medical practices. We also do billing, posting, and other medical clerical, administrative and related services. The federal government has mandated that practice adopt EPM and EMR solutions for medical records. They offer incentives to early adopters and they fine those who drag their feet. There are also all kinds of regulations, including HIPAA and Red-Flag laws that affect the healthcare industry. A small medical practice can't afford to host their own SQL DB, their own electronic prescription service, their own EMR and EPM solution. It is really a disaster and a tempest all at once. The Doctors are *doctors*. They're not businessmen. They're certainly not I.T. But what happens in an industry like this is that you get some group of Doctors who either fund some developers, or who learn how to develop themselves, and create an app for themselves, and then decide to market it. You end up with a mix of all the problems of healthcare and all of the problems of I.T. People in I.T. love to feel under-appreciated and think (say), "If I.T. shut down, packed up and went home, how long could this business operate". And often it is true. I.T. is seen as a cost-center, as difficult to deal with, as egotistical and not in tune with the rest of the business - and I.T. is seen as being "enabled" to have this kind of attitude by a lot of business. There is no doubt, I.T. is critical, regardless of if it is seen as a cost-center or not. You're going to have to pay up for I.T. one way or another. Doctors *are* the core business commodity of health-care. If they pack up and go home, it is the same thing. They've got a lot of ego. They're highly educated, they're seen as abrasive, with bad bedside manner, as anal-retentive, marching around with a God complex. It is a *really* bad mix. It isn't just oil and water, it is oil, water, and a spark. Now you've got doctors who've managed to avoid a lot of the I.T. world for far longer than other business - used to doing things the same way since they've done since... heck, probably the early 1900s, anyway. The cost of education has gone up, they have to constantly train on the latest advancements in medical knowledge and technology (another thing I.T. people complain about) - and everyone wants a piece of their pie. Huge student loans, huge staff salaries, outrageous medical equipment costs, insurance hassles. And along comes the federal government and says, "You've got to have EMR. You've got to have EPM. You've got to have eRx." And suddenly the I.T. guys show up. And they say... You're going to have to have SQL, and that takes a DBA. You're going to have to have workstations - and that takes desktop support. You're going to have to have networking, and that takes a network specialist. You'll need servers, and you'll need to figure out complex licensing. You'll need anti-virus. You'll need backup. You'll need disaster recovery and you'll need UPS and you'll need cooling and you'll need electricity. You'll need e-mail. And you'll need e-Discovery. And you'll need scalability. And you'll need... And some Docs find a little consultant or consultant group that says, "We can do this for you". But, a lot of times, a little general consulting group isn't going to know enough about HIPAA, or eDiscovery and how important that is in an industry where malpractice lawyers on retention swarm like flies and malpractice insurance is as necessary as car insurance. Not to mention, putting all that equipment in the medical office and having some small consultant support it when it is mission critical *clinical* data you're dealing with (not dollars and cents lost in downtime, potentially *lives* lost in downtime) - it just isn't a great idea. But most practices can't have their OWN I.T. staff on site 24x7. I.T. operations is *not* their core business. Healthcare is. If you're real small, the small consultant is probably your only choice, and the Doctor becomes his own I.T. expert. And this is a disaster waiting to happen. If you're real BIG, you *do* have an I.T. department, and maybe they absorb all of these duties. But in the middle, you're probably going to host. You're too big to have a small consulting group nickle-and-diming you to death or to try doing it all yourself. You're too small to justify servers and I.T. departments. So my business, we host Practice Management and Medical Record solutions. That is our core business. But we also provide e-mail hosting. It isn't our core business. And it distracts from our core focus, takes resources, time, and is generally outside of the scope of our mission. I'd like to outsource it. Dealing with mail issues, in particular e-Discovery and retention issues, drive me nuts. But there are lots of other issues. People have become accustomed to having GB of file storage in e-mail and being able to send huge files. But I don't have banks of SMTP and POP/Imap servers hooked to endless supplies of network pipe and SAN storage. My users can't understand a 50MB mailbox limit and a 3mb max file attachment size. My users can't understand that when I increase sensitivity of spam filters I get more false positives, when I lower sensitivity the flood gates open on viagra and gambling ads. E-mail hosting creates more footprint for vulnerability on my network. Even though we are a provider of hosted services, using a hosted e-mail service is very attractive for me. I am certain that I spend more time and money for less return on e-mail than on any other app, platform, or service in my data center. I don't have the expertise to dedicate to e-mail that is really necessary, and can't afford that staff member. At some point, you're painted into a corner. I've resisted the desire to outsource my e-mail needs for awhile. As an I.T. engineer I understand fully the risks, liabilities and compromises associated with outsourcing. But ultimately, I can't really see any alternative. As for the "applications as a utility" model - I see it that way already. My licensing costs are a huge part of my operational overhead - and platforms like Exchange are not inexpensive. Microsoft knows this and really cranks up the price on their platforms that offer robust scalability - their "Enterprise" platforms. Standard platforms are priced for easy admission - but when you step up to Enterprise, you're going to get hammered. Oddly enough, I am moving all of my services and apps to a web-based model. I don't want fat client connections. I want to get rid of that model, because I end up having to deliver all kinds of kludges to enable my internal employees to work securely and effectively with external practices. VPNs, point to point T1s, shared documents and folders. There are lots of solutions where the industry is lagging. Document collaboration and organization (think Sharepoint, intranet and extranet) is really behind the curve, and critical. Business models have changed. In the past, a company's internal documents were generally only used internally, and if you needed to share, you would send them a floppy disk or fax it. Now companies are used to partnership based-collaboration. Companies are embracing remote workforces and work-from-home flexibility. All of the solutions that allow your remote work experience to faithfully mimic your office work experience are complex and prone to issues that become an I.T. support nightmare. The more that I can make available through your browser, the less complicated my support becomes. It boils it down to... "Can you get to Yahoo? No? Can you get to Google? No? Can you get to CNN? No? Ok... call your ISP". or if "yes", "Ok... it looks like there is a problem on our end, let us research this and get back to you". Right now... it is, "Do you have a hardware VPN? Do You have a Software VPN? Do you have a PtPT1? Do you know how to recycle your hardware VPN device? Do you know how to confirm that your software VPN has an active link? Do you have an internet connection? Is your home wireless working," and getting dragged into ever deeper levels of support that are not really in our realm but that have to be fixed so that our services and apps are available. So from that perspective, I'm a actually *pushing* to move our model to a "cloud delivery model" - to the point of almost removing the "hybrid" nature completely. By the time I'm done, I want all user documents published on some sort of searchable web interface - something like Sharepoint Server. I don't want file shares and word documents as flat files. That paradigm doesn't work for shared documents. It works for single users on multi-user networks. "I've got a shared folder, I'll copy a document here, you can pick it up, work on it, call me back, let me know you've put the modified version back, and I'll pick it up ". That works. What doesn't is, "Our department has 11 people who use this document, we collaborate with an external partner who also uses this document, and also has 11 people who use this document, let's put it in a share, give them a VPN so they can see the share... now let's try to make sure we don't get multiple revisions of the document without any change tracking and oh well - someone accidentally deleted the file, anyhow - can you recover the last version from tape". That approach is dying - and a web facing solution is the obvious answer. I'm not sure if Google Docs is going to be it. For me, sending that out to be hosted *doesn't* make sense - but I'll be selling it to OTHER businesses where it does make sense for them to have it hosted for them. But the idea that hosting is going to so fundamentally change computing that EVERYTHING will be hosted and you won't need Windows anymore... that is the Larry Ellison vision of the cloud. And that, I don't see that happening. I think that is pie-in-the-sky Cloud optimism.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Privacy issues blew it out of the water. I'd love to see a local distribution though. A Google Apps type setup managed within the company would solve the privacy issues and provide central computing benefits to users and IT.

CG IT
CG IT

based networks. But all it will take is the news media to air a story about how medical records of a medical office were leaked or stolen then used for credit card fraud, identity theft, medicare fraud from a Cloud provider, the I would venture there would be an exodus back to internal computing. I see criminals seeing an opportunity in Cloud Computing on a scale that dwarfs what they do now. Especially if businesses move to the bring your own equipment.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Kind of hard to say if this practice got gouged or not, as I don't know if anything else was involved - but... This is certainly part of the problem - and listen, the Docs *hate* being at the mercy of "advice" from Techies. Especially when they hear one thing from one tech and another from a different one. This is part of the reason our industry has such dismal respect among medical circles. Which is when they start considering hosting. They don't have to worry about hardware life cylces for their office outside of desktop machines and medical equipment.If there isn't any HIPAA ePHI, they don't have to worry about that. Where I see practices run their own servers, I see lots of frustration, disappointment, and headache. I find an old tower PC, *maybe* a low end tower server in some closet, with a badly wired patch and comm switch with a cable modem or dsl modem - covered with dust - that has been worked on by several different small consulting groups over the years. Some cables just dangle uselessly, and you don't know why they're there - and no one knows. The Office Manager is the chief "IT" person - a 35 year old house wife making $30,000 a year who has been pressed into the role of trying to understand the office LAN and public internet connection and how it interfaces with all of the medical practice systems in the office. That is, if it isn't just some system under a desk. There may well be small practices running their own servers with only support from outside consulting groups and doing a good job of it - but I doubt there are many of them. Eventually, someone is going to consolidate that market and offer the one stop solution for hosted EMR/EPM for medical practices. It just doesn't make sense for small and medium practices to have their own IT departments, and IT consultants are unreliable and inconsistent. They get "real" jobs and close their consulting business. They go out of business, or they're simply not qualified. A business model like this makes sense for the cloud. But, the loss of direct control - over IT staff, over IT equipment, over how budget is applied to both - in moving from an employer to a *customer* - that is part of adopting a could based system - *doesn't* make sense for a large practice. There are lots of factors other than initial expense that go into TCO - and that may make it economically more reasonable for the small company to go hosted, but the larger company should probably host itself. And this is just one industry. I think it'll be a different formula for every industry. Microsoft would like to see a world where everyone signs up for an annual software subscription package and pays a monthly fee, maybe plus usage, for software as a service. Companies and individuals. The thing is, consumers don't want another $45 a year charge, or $45 a month bill. Cable and Cell and Internet are already too much. I see the cloud making little overall impact with consumers. With businesses, it'll be a case by case situation, and app by app, as well. Some things, that are very expensive in TCO, will get outsourced. But will companies want to pay re-occurring monthly costs for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations? The fact that Microsoft hasn't done a lot to *force* this model, indicates that the answer is "probably not". So, we'll remain on a hybrid model. Hosting Solutions where they make sense, local where they don't. Local computing and the Windows desktop are not going to go away. They're going to be supplemented. Thin-client computing will not return as the dominant method of computing - no matter how much Larry Ellison wants to see it come true in some form or another.

CG IT
CG IT

HIPAA regulations are not all that difficult to meet, nor for a small medical practice to comply with. But HIPAA does require monitoring the network and performing periodic audits to ensure compliance. That requires someone with IT experience. While small medical offices don't want to pay for for IT services if they transmit ePHI information electronically, they do have to comply. It is possible for a small medical office to have their own database server, heck with a Windows Small Business Server, Email server and SQL and comply with HIPAA. The problem is the consultants who will, to make money, sell what isn't needed. I know one dentist office that was quoted $30,000.00 USD to replace their aging desktops [ 3 ea]running Windows XP plus hook up their digital Xray program on a laptop. For around $500.00 he could have purchased a laptop, loaded up the digital Xray software himself, and got going. He chose instead to spend $30,000.00 for a new system he really didn't need. This is what happens in most medical offices. Consultants or providers think the MD has lots of money and doesn't know any better so double and triple the price. All in the "it's business". And we wonder why they screw us?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

- including a third party rarely increase security of data - as a third party, they are not obligated to protect my data the way they would protect there data (eg. financial data) - the recent breach illuminates both staff software issues and inappropriately lax controls on allowing data access by authorities - the bigger the organization, statistically, the more questionable staff exist within it. Example; a few years back, government workers where caught celebrity watching through travel or drivers license databases during there lunch break; even with controls in place, staff could abuse access - anything put on another person's computer is out of your control and they can do with it what they want (eg. facebook) - nothing gets deleted on google; only removed from your current view - Google's hosting is bound by US law which is inappropriately invasive; we've had to move our own databases onto Canadian soil already because of this (equally, we have data that is required to remain on US soil) - I can't confirm how my data is stored on google's servers; is it open to anyone with a staff password or is it fed into an encrypted blob file which only my user account can access - I don't want to give Google any more data than I already do through use of search and Earth related services - data on our own servers is clearly under our ownership - local laws clearly apply to our server locations - I know what access controls are in place A version of google apps released from Google for local use would be fantastic though. I'd have no issue installing it as a webapp on our own internal server provided it's only connection back to Google's servers was my manual request to check for updates (if not properly distributed as a-la package repository like Webmin). (Encase anyone is going to jump in with "if you've nothing to hide" type crap; privacy is not always about hiding bad things and the idea that only bad people hide things is a pretty foolish fallacy.)

dcolbert
dcolbert

Can you elaborate on the privacy issues that turned you away from Google apps? Just curious. They claim to be HIPAA complaint, and that is a fairly strict security regulation. Do you think they're over-selling their security?

gknight
gknight

Way to look at the big picture jck!

dcolbert
dcolbert

I'm completely with you on this - down to the feeling of "sleazy sales-tech pre-sales support" guys who constantly say, "Well, that question is a little too deep for me to answer, but I can certainly talk with the developers and get back to you with an answer on that". The loss of control is one of my big concerns. The idea that major hosting services are "overbooking" also concerns me. They're operating on skeleton support staffs trying to cover more customers than they have staff to cover in a worst case scenario (but enough to cover during average load).

jck
jck

Most people label it as being negligent. Executives and other management-talk types call it "risk mitigation". Why pay for what might never happen when you can push your 10,000,000 stock shares $.02 higher and buy a new Mercedes for Christmas? Right? I remember the days when companies were run right, everything that could be planned for, setup for almost every case to be handled, etc., was the status quo. Now its become only planning for what is going to or will likely happen. Bah. I need to start my LLC. I have been putting it off too long.

Old-Fart-IV
Old-Fart-IV

At a previous company we looked at using their storage capacity as a repository -- the price was lower than buying / renting additional storage hardware. The exec was all for saving money, us techies were skeptical about the whole taco. When we asked about moving the data from Host cloud (A) to Host Cloud (B) we found a big sticking point: We could get the copy of our data from (A), but whether (B) could read the data in the format provided by (A) could not be guaranteed. Without data portability between cloud providers, our risk assessment overcame the exec's glee at meeting one of his yearly goals (saving money).

CG IT
CG IT

Often cost reductions overshadow requirements where the executives hope they never "get caught".

jck
jck

...I am sure the cloud provider will give you a backup of your data...for the right price. Of course, look at what happened with the Danger datacenters that Microsoft owns/hired/subbed to do their Windows phone data storage/archiving. Oops...no backup and we just ditched the old servers...so sorry. And that was just phones. What happens when it's like my organization who is required by law to keep documents 4-10 years...and the provider goes "We just lost 2006-2009 of your archives. Oops! Sorry." They are in breach of contract, and you are in court for not practicing due diligence to ensure you have those files.

CG IT
CG IT

Cloud computing is like cell phones except all your important company data is held by the provider. While you can show around for new phone service and new phones without a lot of hassle, once on the cloud provider, you can't simply show around for a cheaper or better provider. I'm sure the Cloud providers will come up with some sales pitch mitigating that "pain point" but it's a reality that I doubt many company executives really think about. For the company exectuvies, it's how much money do they make. That depends on how much money they spend. Spend less make more. If the company goes belly up, who cares. The executives have gotten their pay and bonuses.

jck
jck

All cloud computing, such as Google Apps, is...is a mutation of webhosting. Just that Google wrote the webapp instead of you.

jck
jck

There are a plethora of issues against as well as cases for cloud. I just see it as the current, cool, "in" tech paradigm that everyone is trying to push...especially Microsoft. Just think of cloud this way tho: When you have moved all your data and apps over to the cloud, are almost exclusively dependent on it, have decommissioned and liquidated your hardware and software, and have made the appropriate cuts that any good penny-pinching management type will insist you make after downsizing your functional responsibilities... Then companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft/Danger, etc., really have you by the balls...cause then, getting the money enough to reacquire hardware if you change your mind becomes almost impossible, getting the people back you had is probably impossible period, and the cloud holders will squeeze your family jewels for every penny they can get out of you. Then, they'll off-shore the cloud sites to India, Afghanistan, the Phillipines, Singapore or China...wherever the cost of "call support" manpower is cheapest. So, not only does cloud eventually kill your budget when you're absurdly dependent. But, it probably also kills any chance you have of getting back to the way you were.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I figured you meant WTS but wasn't sure if CG was meaning the specific Microsoft version or a generic term referring to a programming/delivery method. Otherwise, my understanding of WTS, Citrix visualized apps and similar seems spot on for the moment. These days, for a centralized system the webapp would be my preference too. My issue with webapps is the "cloud" salesman-in-a-cheap-suit spin and relying on servers/controls outside of the company that owns the data.

dcolbert
dcolbert

In Windows parlance, does leverage Windows Terminal Services (Remote Desktop Protocol, RDP). I guess I should expand. When you log into a remote desktop via RDP, and you load an app, it runs on THAT server. All you are seeing is screen updates and pointer updates, and the only information travelling back and forth is mouse and keyboard I/O. If you set up an app there, it is running on the RDP server. With WTS, if you have multiple users, they're all running this app - all fighting for the same resources. Citrix handles this better, and gives you the "published app" feature where you can bypass even having the desktop component of the remote session appear. It seems like the app loads, and it LOOKS as if the app is running locally. But it still isn't. It is running on the remote machine, and those resources are shared with all current sessions. With a genuine web app, the app code is running on your local machine. The pipe between your system and back-end data may be fatter - but you're not worrying as much about shared resources. So, yes, I mean Windows Terminal services, as a branded product - but yeah, it is providing a remote desktop from a central server. Lots of people use solutions like this to kind of shoe-horn an app that isn't "Web designed" into being web accessible. I'd rather have clients hit a web server delivering a app designed for web access.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Terminal Service would be more like providing a remote desktop from a central server wouldn't it? Or do you mean terminal services as a generic rather than brand name? I'm thinking more the flexibility of the standard html (html5?) format read by any old current browser on the client side; the OS platform becomes irrelevant both on client and server sides. The IT management benefits are the usual suspects; control of data, ease of app upgrades, central access management, instant "install" for any validated network node be they local or VPN.

dcolbert
dcolbert

WTS doesn't deliver very good on this solution via public network. It is more suited to LAN and WAN terminal solutions delivery. Citrix is better. But even it has some challenges. In part, because you're trying to make what are local apps work as web based apps, in most cases where you deploy a solution like this. To have a native web-based app is always going to be superior.

CG IT
CG IT

you can write your own apps and provide them via a server [Terminal Services].

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