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Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is shifting the emphasis from locally managed server-client installations to externally located web-accessible computing centers consisting of thousands of servers. The development platforms, languages, and scalable enterprise databases reflect competitive forces of Fortune 1000 software and hardware companies, open source software, and intellectual property laws in a global economy. The established leaders and new entrants are implementing public, private, and hybrid clouds.  Most clouds currently operate in isolation; however, international standards, data structures, and formats which allow cloud interaction are being defined and used.

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The advantages associated with an integrated cloud include: 1- Moving data directly from one cloud to another cloud without having to download and upload the data. 2- Storing the same data in multiple clouds for backup. 3- Coordinating computation in multiple clouds. Interfaces are being developed so that data communication and synchronization can occur across different clouds. As services are able to run on platforms, the cloud becomes more central to application development by providing reliability and delivery of value to customers.

The appropriate mix and selection of hardware, software, and cloud computing technologies will be determined by a combination of Moore's Law applied to semiconductor technology and storage, budgetary constraints, and regulations imposed by governing bodies. The degree of success will be highly dependent upon the ability of organizational enterprise to educate and train its employees to maintain, develop, and migrate its computer systems.


IBM Open Cloud Architecture - System of Interaction

The IBM cloud architecture is based upon a composition and implementation of development frameworks, open standard formats, and APIs: application programming interfaces. IBM’s private, public, and hybrid clouds have a common architecture being developed to promote portability. Open source software addresses issues with vendor lock-in and competing in a growing market.

In June 2013, IBM bought SoftLayer Technologies for $2 billion. In 2014, billion dollar investments were made in data center operations and software development; there are cloud dedicated centers in 15 countries. IBM has been re-architecting its cloud business with a PaaS to accelerate web development and port existing enterprise applications to its SoftLayer platform. The middleware is through pre-defined software patterns for extending on-premises applications to hybrid off-premises cloud environments. IBM Platform LSF: Load Sharing Facility Platform software also is available. IBM installed OpenStack on its SoftLayer cloud services. Its clients can move workloads between private clouds, running IBM’s OpenStack and the SoftLayer cloud. A developer could build and test an application on SoftLayer and them be moved in-house for deployment. Or an-house application that outgrows its local infrastructure could be scaled onto IBM’s Software servers.

IBM Bluemix delivers software as composable services within a platform as a service. Bluemix is built on open source Cloud Foundry. 1New apps can be started by composing pre-integrated services into applications; the goal is accelerated development cycles. The Bluemix initiative provides software development tools and incentives for attracting outside programmers to make cloud applications for corporations. IBM strategic acquisitions include Cloudant and Compose. Cloudant is a DBaaS: Database as a Service provider for developing CouchDB-based database services - complex mobile and web applications for large organizations. Compose offers several open source database options for basic lightweight applications which can be scaled with management tooling and instrumentation. 2 The shift to cloud-based revenue flows is a challenge to IBM's traditional sales model. With the growth of the market happening in newer areas, where IBM's visibility to potential clients is lower, sustaining revenue in these areas could be problematic.

In conjunction with participation in open standards committees and open source projects, IBM has invested both in OpenStack - infrastructure as a service and Cloud Foundry platform as service projects. IBM is building a stable of developer services aimed at mobile, web apps, integration, DevOps, and data management. A style of cloud-based application development has emerged where developers combine systems of record and engagement. Cloud computing is an avenue of innovation for the IBM client base. The assumption is that IBM will continue making available to developers its suites of software as a service-based business applications as composable API-based services, including Watson. IBM’s largest investment for growth has been in hardware, software, and services for corporate customer’s data centers. Since 2005, IBM has spent $24 billion in the data analytics business; two-thirds were for acquisitions. An immense and increasing amount of data has been coming from databases, sensors, smartphones, the web, and social networks. There are industries - airlines, railroad transportation, banking, and finance where IBM can improve its customer’s bottom line by analyzing and reporting data for cost control and increasing sales. There will be issues in off-premises cloud processing compliance which will need to be addressed; this includes SOX: Sarbanes-Oxley Act, PCI: Payment Card Industry, and HIPAA: Accountability Act regulations for personal identities, financial information, and healthcare data. Innovation and personalization can be done by programming staff or third parties.

IBM was slow to grasp the significance of cloud computing which has the potential to displace big parts of the company’s business of selling hardware, software, and services. As the largest supplier, IBM has the most to lose when companies move from traditional data center computing to cloud alternatives. IBM faces competition in the cloud market - Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, HP Enterprise, and VMware - Dell Technologies. IBM has reported significant growth in its cloud business; however, most has been from private clouds with companies delivering services to employees from their own data centers. It has fared less well in public cloud services, in which multiple customers share the same pool of resources. According to a Gartner study, released in 2015, IBM offers less of the features required by mid-market and enterprise companies than Microsoft and Amazon Web Services. 3 As of the second quarter 2017, the transformation of the IBM business model and concentration on faster growing strategic imperatives has not been reflected in an increased valuation in its stock price.


Mobile Devices

Mobile devices, web information, and social media innovations are converging to impact business models and the centralized management function of the information technology department. The mobile experience is eclipsing the desktop experience and the large number of mobile device types increasingly has been disrupting the web browser uniformity with the Microsoft Windows family of desktop operating systems. Mobile devices coupled with cloud computing have changed the architecture of computing to include cloud-client. Cloud computing platforms will become a central access and control point for the client. There will be tradeoffs to be made between the use of native mobile device operating systems and HTML5 web browser alternatives.

Mobile_Device_Platforms

Consumer driven forces are challenging enterprise information technology and application development. Mobile applications now outnumber those for static deployment. End user expectations are affecting IT. Workers are expecting access from any device, from anywhere. They typically own between three and four devices today. Screen size, bandwidth, and database design issues on mobile devices present challenges to running applications coded for full screen desktop computers.

User requirements for mobile apps include: fast page load, reliability, and user interface acceptance. Mobile development requires changes in the conventional architecture: programming model, platform, and language. In order to migrate an investment in desktops and laptops to mobile devices, service oriented architecture can be applied to modularize and resize the user interface into chunks of relevant data presented in a logical sequence. Google Android is the most widely used open source mobile operating system platform. The leading commercial platforms are Apple iOS, MS Windows 10 - Phone and Surface, and Research in Motion Blackberry. Browser and hybrid apps can run natively on mobile runtimes.


IBM MobileFirst to IBM Mobile 4

In 2013, IBM launched MobileFirst for enterprise mobile application development with a full IDE: integrated development environment, a back-end system for security, notifications, analytics, distribution and version management. Microsoft Corporation acquired the Xamarin mobile app development platform in 2016. Although popular, Xamarin is not the only option for the front end. The back end is different and there are strategic infrastructure decisions and programming language choices. Mobile cloud services can be coded in Java or PHP. IBM cloud products can be used on the back end with virtual machines or defined microservices architecture. There can be shortcomings with enterprise-grade development: security, ad hoc approaches for notifications, integration third-party analytics, and release management tools into an existing platform.

There has been a change in the IBM strategy within its Bluemix and mobile cloud platforms. MobileFirst has been rebranded to IBM Mobile and designed as a back-end API and suite of web apps tools exclusive to Bluemix. Employing a combination of PaaS with IaaS: infrastructure as a service, IBM Bluemix has been positioned for both mobile cloud services. Xamarin enables developers to create native cross-platform apps for iOS and Android using C#, and IBM supports the Microsoft .NET ecosystem. This allows IBM’s large enterprise client base to use the Xamarin app-building toolset with IBM Mobile.


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Sources:
Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise, by David S.Linthicum, Publisher: Addison-Wesley Information Technology Series, 2009, First Edition, ISBN-13: 978-0136009221 ISBN-10: 978-0136009221.
Computerworld.com, IDG News Service, May 2015 by Joab Jackson.
Enterprise Cloud Computing: Technology, Architecture, and Applications, by Dr. Gautam Shroff, Cambride University Press, 2010, ISBN: 1139490915, 9781139490917.
Gartner repots - distributed by Microsoft over the Internet.
NBR: National Business Review - transcripts.
NBR, CNBC.com - Buffett set to take megamillion-dollar beating on IBM April 19, 2017 by Jeff Cox.
New York Times - Online and TechTarget reporting of statements made by Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president of IBM’s Software and Cloud Group.
Wall Street Journal - Online, IBM Strikes 10-Year Cloud Deal with Lloyds Bank by Sara Castellanos Jun 8, 2017.
Techtarget's Business Applications and Architecture Media Group of the IBM InterConnect conference by Joel Shore - Review of reported comments.
Xamarin Mobile Application Development. Xamarin Mobile Application Development Cross-Platform C# and Xamarin.Forms Fundamentals by Dan Hermes, Publisher: Apress 2015, ISBN-10: 1484202155 ISBN-13: 9781484202159 - Textbook to be reviewed.
Footnote 1:
IBM Documentation - Bluemix languages supported by default: open source - CSS, Django, Flask, GO, Grail, HTML, JavaScript, JRuby, JVM-based language or framework, Nginx, node.js, Play, Python, Rack, Rails, Ruby, and Sinatra. The proprietary .NET core languages are supported.
 
Footnote 2:
Fortune.com - IBM Snaps up Compose to Extend its Cloud Database Options, Barb Darrow, July 23, 2015, Compose includes lightweight database services based on MongoDB, Redis, Elasticsearch, PostgreSQL, RethinkDB, and other databases.
 
Footnote 3:
This information was reported in Computerworld.com, IDG News Service, May 2015 by Joab Jackson. It will be compared to hard copy IBM advertisements in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
 
Footnote 4:
SYS-ED's Director of Education has not been able to verify the accuracy of the public domain information and reporting by Techtarget on IBM MobileFirst to IBM Mobile.