Posts Tagged ‘cloud computing’

Saturday, June 26, 2010

8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Washington Convention Center – 143A

 

Twitter hashtag – #litacloud

 

This session was presented as a panel discussion followed by a lightning round followed by another panel discussion. Some of the panelists included:

 

Marshall Breeding, Vanderbilt

Karen Coombs, OCLC

Terry Reese, Oregon State University


 

Cloud computing: characteristics

 

NIST Definition – http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SNS/cloud-computing/

on-demand self-service

broad network access

resource pooling

rapid elasticity

measured services

 

Gartner definition

service based

uses internet technologies

shared

scalable and elastic

metered by use

 

Cloud computing is not merely a delivery method.

 

Cloud based software-as-a-service

software delivered via the cloud

 

Cloud based platform-as-a-service

platforms (LAMP stack, Ruby on Rails stack, etc.) delivered via the web

 

Cloud based infrastructure-as-a-service

 

www.heroku.com – Heroku provides an online development/testing platform

Requires a Ruby on Rails application that you’re uploading.

Heroku is using Amazon’s online services as the infrastructure for their own platform as service.

 

Marshall Breeding, Vanderbilt University

 

Continuum of Abstraction

Locally owned and installed servers

Co-located servers

Co-located virtual servers

Web hosting

Server hosting services

Application service provider

Software as-a-service

Platform-as-a-service

 

Cloud computing – formal definitions

Highly abstracted computing model

Utility model

Provisioned on demand

Scaled according to variable needs

Discrete virtual machines

Compute cycles on demand

Storage on demand

Elastic – consumption of resources can grow and contract on demand

 

Hosting Services

Web Hosting

Web site only

Standard support for PHP, Perl, and other dynamic page generation

Dedicated Server

Appropriate for applications that have not been tested and deployed in a virtual environment

 

Advantages

Increasing opportunities to eliminate local servers and tech support

All of Serials Solutions’ offerings are delivered as software-as-a-service

 

Liblime

Liblime Enterprise Koha deployed in Amazon EC2

LAMP stack implemented on Virtual Machine Image

Ability to meet larger site requirements through high-performance cloud-delivered platform

 

Karen Coombs, OCLC

 

Cloud, Community, Collaboration

 

Collaboration in the Cloud

Infrastructure and tools exist to facilitate better collaboration across libraries

Beak down boundaries between developers in different libraries

Infrastructure alone is not enough. We have to change the ways libraries collaborate.

 

Transparency and the Cloud

Documentation of cloud application’s infrastructure and capabilities

Web services to as many aspects of the application as possible

Standards based systems (web standards, not library standards)

Blackboxes in the cloud diminish the real power of the cloud – collaborative innovation

 

Software in the Cloud

Ability to develop in potentially a device and platform independent way

computers, smart phones, single-purpose devices like e-readers

Creates opportunity for geater scalability

Relives the burden of installation and updates

Shared software, libraries, and infrastructure

Don’t have to develop all of these core services locally

 

Software Development and the Cloud

Cooperative development

Open source projects have been doing this for some time

Shared development effort

Ability for institutions and individuals to participate in different ways

Crowd Sourcing

Testing

Coding

Systems are designed in a modular fashion to allow developers to extend them.

 

Terry Reese, Oregon State University

 

Moving Library IT to “International Waters”

 

International waters – the idea that in some environments, a completely different set of rules apply.

 

Shared IT Resources Are Hard

IT resources (staff and hardware) represent a finite and expensive resource

Disks are cheap until you get a lot of them

Server cycles are expensive because they are finite within a given infrastructure

Possibly the biggest barrier is organizational

While projects will have multiple partners, one partner has the responsibility for managing and support the infrastructure.

 

With cloud computing you can move the project outside the organizational bureaucracy and into international waters where projects can function unencumbered.

 

With freedom comes options:

Add new partners at will

Partners determine how resources are managed; if you change you mind, that’s fine.

Allows a project to “think bigger” because most cloud resources will scale almost at will.

 

DuraCloud – DuraSpace

A hosted service and open technology to help organizations and end users effectively utilize public cloud services.

Built upon existing cloud services.

The service can work on Amazon, Atmos, Sun, Rackspace, and other cloud services.

LOCKSS in the cloud based on DuraCloud.

 

Chronopolis Project – designed primarily as a preservation storage system

Chronopolis Tools also monitors files and does auditing.

IRODS

 

TerraPod – digital video library

Allows you to outsource upload and data creation to the creators of the content.

 

Disadvantages

Data in the cloud – loss of control

Terms of service

API lag

Varying support

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As a general rule, I don’t like my data in the cloud. Let me go ahead and get that out there so my prejudices are fully disclosed. I use it because I must, but I don’t like it. The primary reason I don’t like it is a practical one: data in the cloud means that you have to be able to connect to the cloud, and far too often, I can’t. Living and traveling in a largely rural area, network coverage is far from ubiquitous. And no network coverage sometimes translates into no data. Setting aside security concerns and the additional hook into my devices that each application seems to want, connectivity is my main concern.

Until recently, that is. Several months ago, a friend recommended Evernote. There are a lot of things I like about Evernote. I like the clipping feature, and I like the IDEA of being able to access my notes from many locations. Unfortunately, I recently lost a lot of data to Evernote. As in POOF – gone forever.

I was recently on vacation, and I started making some travel notes with Evernote. As luck would have it, my vacation area didn’t have great coverage, and Evernote had a lot of trouble every time it tried to sync with the Evernote server.  Initially the result was relatively benign but nevertheless annoying: sections of content would be duplicated several times throughout the document. I had to scroll up and down, find the old stuff, find the new stuff, delete the duplicate stuff, and save it again. Annoying, but doable.

Until the very last day. Over the course of my vacation I spent several hours making notes so that I could remember specific details about the trip. And then the last day everything disappeared. Well . . . almost everything. I still have a blank document with a title, but that’s all. Everything else – all of my CONTENT – is gone. It happened after one of those periods when my local application was trying to phone home. Apparently something went awry, it couldn’t connect properly to the Evernote server, and Evernote inexplicably thought that I wanted to delete all of my content. Grrrrr. Double-grrrrr even.

These were just vacation notes, true. It wasn’t critical work/medical/financial information. But the principle is the same. I relied on the cloud. The cloud ate my data. The cloud failed. The scary thing is that more and more companies are pushing data for mobile devices into the cloud. While the idea is a good one, the execution is everything. If you’re going to eat my data, I really can’t trust your service. Moreover, I can’t in good conscience recommend it to others.

I’m sitting here late at night in the hotel working away as I build a survey. Let me say again, it’s late at night. Now I like my sleep as much as the next person, but late can be good. Late at night there is very little e-mail coming in. E-mail. You know – that nagging little thing that sits in your inbox and quietly demands a response. Late at night there are no phone calls. There are no updates from social networking sites. Late at night you can really dig into a project and just cruise . . .

 

Until . . .

 

Somewhere for some reason some part of the network goes down.

 

And all work stops.

 

The survey questions themselves are essentially written. I’m busy adding the login questions to branch my respondents to varying sets of questions depending upon their answers. Or rather, I was. Before the network went down.

 

This reminds me of an article I read earlier today. The point of the article is to highlight the inherent dangers of relying too much on cloud data and applications. A lot can happen. Servers can go down. Network connections can go down. Something between you and your data or app can go down. Of course when everything is working fine, it’s all very convenient.

 

But when something does go down, all you can do it sit, fume, and wait for services to be restored. I find it both interesting and frustrating that the very tools that enable us to do much of our work are also the same tools that prevent us from being able to do our work. Yes, a fascinating irony.

 

So I’m tired of sitting and waiting. I guess I’ll post this tomorrow. Sometime. When my network connection comes back up.

 

Reference: Google Users Live By the Cloud, Die By the Cloud

Seems like every couple of days we’re hearing more about data in the cloud. I’ve thought about this one in considering the iPhone, and I’m still thinking about it as I read more about the Palm Pre. One of my biggest gripes about the iPhone has to do with synching data across multiple computers. I do this all the time with my old Palm Treo. I drop it in a cradle attached to my desktop computer, I drop it into a cradle attached to my home desktop, and I connect it to a cable attached to my laptop. The frequency varies, but the long and short of it is that if I’m in a network dead zone and I need to get something from a computer onto my handheld (or vice versa), I can connect a cable, push a button, and I’m done. Not so with the iPhone. If I need to sync data across multiple computers with the iPhone, I have to subscribe to Apple’s $99 per year MobileMe service. Even after subscribing to that service I wouldn’t be able to sync the way I want to: I can’t simply connect the two devices with a cable and push a button. MobileMe depends upon having a network connection so that my data can copy itself to Apple’s server in the cloud. Eventually the updates trickle across the network to the other computers. As I read more about the Palm Pre and Palm’s new WebOS, it seems that this device will follow the same path, and that disappoints me.

As I’ve previously mentioned, I simply may not want some of my data to live in the cloud. Yet I still need to synchronize with multiple computers. What’s a person to do then? But ignoring the fact that I don’t want all of my data to live in the cloud, there are other considerations. I live in an area with MANY network dead zones, so it simply isn’t always even possible to sync data. Let’s think about travelers. Do you really want to pay for an hour’s worth of network time in every airport you pass through just to keep all your data synchronized? Probably not.

I’m trying to keep an open mind about cloud data and apps. Some people love it, and it works well for them. That’s great for those people, but it shouldn’t come at a cost in functionality. If data synchronization with the cloud is just another option, then that’s a good way to go. Nothing wrong with giving people options. But why take away functionality that already works? Don’t do it, Palm!

I’m still considering the options, but while I wait and cogitate, the performance on my Treo 680 continues to degrade. It suffers from inexplicable slow-downs, random reboots, and increasingly poor web browsing. (Seriously Palm, don’t you think it’s about time for a Blazer update? And don’t even get me started on Opera Mini!)

So . . . I’m waiting for details on this mythical next-generation device and OS from Palm. Yawn. Some year perhaps.

I waited for Android to finally roll out. Interesting, but it still needs to prove itself.

BlackBerry Storm? Looks very good, and I’ve never even really liked the looks of BlackBerry devices. However, it’s getting some mixed reviews from users. Some like it as a first smartphone, but others say it’s a step down from a traditional BlackBerry or even an iPhone. Lots of buzz over on Engadget.

And then there’s the iPhone. I’ve played with an iPhone a number of times. I like the device, and over the years Apple has given us some truly brilliant interface designs. I WANT to like the iPhone even more. But human nature compels us to compare the new with the familiar. My Treo, tired and dated though it is, still goes the iPhone one better in a number of areas. I keep wondering – when the iPhone is so superior is so many areas – why does Apple let it fail on some keys points that are of genuine concern/interest to iPhone users and would-be users?

Although I’ve played with an iPhone many times, I don’t use one as my primary device, I don’t sync data on it, and I haven’t had to do any installation or setup with one. I’m drawing my concerns from a number of sources around the Internet, and in trying to make an informed decision, I find myself wondering just what I can live without if I make the iPhone jump.

No Video Recording
What was Apple thinking? Hello! The camera is already on the phone. It is attached to what is perhaps the largest hard drive on any cell phone out there. So why can’t users record video? Surely the processor and hard drive can keep up, so what are the limiting factors? Software? Laziness? Apple?

No multimedia MMS
Again, what were they thinking? Cell phones have been doing this for years. Why would they roll out a device without a feature that is now pretty much standard issue on phones in this class?

No Sync with Outlook Notes
From what I’ve read the iPhone can successfully synchronize Outlook e-mail, contacts, and calendar information, but it cannot sync notes or tasks. While this was excusable when the device rolled out, what’s the hold-up now? Apple is working hard to push this device in enterprise markets. So why – this long after its release – are users still waiting for full integration between the device and a piece of software heavily used in the corporate world? I use notes extensively for everything from project lists to troubleshooting and installation tips. I use my notes regularly, and I like being able to sync them and carry them around on my phone. Since I use them so much, this inability to sync Outlook notes is a major shortcoming for me.

No Built-in Multisync Option
Again, considering the way I work, the fact that there is no native way to sync an iPhone with multiple computers is another major shortcoming. I regularly move between an office desktop, a home desktop, and a laptop. I need to be able to keep data in sync between all of these devices and my handheld. This is actually a pretty easy thing to accomplish with a Palm device. In fact, I’ve been able to sync with multiple computers for years on a variety of Palm handhelds. Apple makes it annoyingly difficult – so difficult in fact, that they want to sell you a $99 subscription to their MobileMe service. Fail. I don’t want my data to live in their cloud, and I suspect many corporate environments wouldn’t want that either. I don’t want a suite of fancy web apps to let me manage my data online. I just want to plug my device into 3 different computers and press a sync button.

So . . . I’m still undecided. The iPhone definitely has a great interface, but do I really want to sacrifice functionality I have now on my old, outdated device?