Cloud Computing


With all the hype and information surrounding cloud, the decision to switch over to the cloud can lead anyone’s mind spinning. The move from a desktop based product to a SaaS based business model requires a specialized provider. This post lists the most important factors that ISV’s should look into before engaging with a service provider.

Business: Assess the business drivers behind considering cloud adoption like moving to a newer business model. If there is no immediate competition then the need to migrate may not be necessary. But if moving to the cloud helps lower the operational expenditure then migration would make sense.

Risk: Switching to the cloud completely changes the business model. What was once a license based business model would become a subscription based business model. Customer service becomes key in success of the product as the switching costs for the customer become very low. Risks in terms of frequent product releases, availability, security become pertinent.

While technology is relevant it may not necessarily be as important as the business and risk factors. Compatibility in terms of infrastructure and application platform helps narrow down the choice in choosing the appropriate technology.

Reference: cloudtweaks.com

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According to National Institute of Standards and Technology, cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (eg: networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

Cloud computing architecture of a cloud solution is the structure of the system, which comprises on-premise and cloud resources, services, middleware and other software components. The factors to consider by ISV’s looking at cloud computing architectures are:

  • Availability & Reliability – Group the applications based on the need for availability. Depending upon the availability requirements, the service provider needs to be appropriately chosen. Multi site, disaster recovery, mitigation plan play crucial roles. Performance in terms of vertical scaling, horizontal scaling, multi-site, network capacity etc also need to be evaluated
  • Security – Loss of sensitive data, data storage security, addressing data standards compliance are some factors. Where the data will reside, who can access what, how the vendor controls the data etc. play a major role in performing audits and ensuring compliance.
  • Manageability – Accountability for the customer and vendor need to be clearly defined.

 While there exist many sub factors, the factors written here are critical and cannot be ignored while considering a cloud computing architecture.

~ Ramya

Faster bandwidth, cheaper storage and virtualization have made the vision of Software-as-a-Service a reality. With the recent Amazon EC2 outage, many companies are starting to rethink their cloud strategy. This outage can be compared to a plane crash. We still travel by planes even though we hear about a plane crash. Cloud computing will continue to grow but with focus on redundant cloud architecture. While cloud computing is mainly infrastructure management, security management is also a huge concern.

Security account management in Windows Azure

This post is about some of the best practices for creating and managing administrative accounts in Windows Azure.

  • Account Ownership – Microsoft Online Services Customer Portal handles Windows Azure’s account management and billing. Through this service, users sign up for subscriptions. Assign account owner and service administrator roles for each subscription, creating individual accounts for each of the roles.
  • Certificate Management – There are two different kinds of certificates: service certificates and management certificates. Service certificates are traditional SSL certificates used to secure end point communications. Management certificates are used to authenticate developers for your Windows Azure deployment.
  • Employee Transitions – When an employee leaves the organization, the first step is to reset passwords for any service administrator accounts to which the former employee had access. Re-issue any pertinent management certificates. These certificates provide means of authentication to hosted services through Visual Studio and Windows Azure API’s. Re-issue management certificates.

~ Ramya

(Reference: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/gg607453.aspx)