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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. However, there is no single uniform definition of cloud computing and there are different types of clouds. The hardware and software languages, development platforms, and scalable enterprise databases reflect competitive and evolutionary forces of commercial software providers, open source software alternatives, and intellectual property laws in a global economy. High bandwidth performance has becoming increasingly important for the commercial use of analytics and video. It is required for the aggregation of immense amounts from phones, RFID: Radio Frequency Identification tags and sensors. The challenge will be to build for scale and to cluster and manage the data.

Leading hardware and software companies and new entrants are implementing and experimenting with public and private clouds. Most clouds currently operate in isolation; however, protocols, data structures, and formats which allow cloud interaction are being defined and tested. In addition to the underlying base protocols, the laws of chemistry, physics, and applied mathematics continue to result in the application of Moore's Law and significant improvements in performance and reduced cost of semiconductor technology and devices hardware. This also will lead to increased demand for specialized clouds.

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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 the data and then upload it again. 2- Storing the same data in multiple clouds for backup. 3- Coordinating computation in multiple clouds. Interfaces are being developed in order that clouds can communicate with other clouds and data be synchronized across different clouds. As services are able to run on cloud platforms, the cloud becomes more central to application development and 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 budgetary constraints, competitive forces in the market, 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 open standard formats, interoperable protocols, and APIs: application programming interfaces. IBM’s private, public, and hybrid clouds have a common architecture which is being developed to promote portability. Open source software also addresses issues with vendor lockin 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 stated that its middleware portfolio will be brought over to SoftLayer through pre-defined software patterns for extending on-premises applications to hybrid off-premises cloud environments. IBM launched its Platform LSF and Platform and Platform Symphony Software as a Service on SoftLayer.

IBM has been re-architecting its cloud business with a PaaS to accelerate web development and port existing enterprise applications to its SoftLayer platform. IBM BlueMix delivers software as composable services within a platform as a service. BlueMix is built on open source Cloud Foundry; support for languages and frameworks not supported by default. 1 New apps can be started with composing pre-integrated services that can be tied together into applications; the goal is accelerated development cycles. The BlueMix initiative is providing software development tools and incentives to attract outside programmers to make cloud applications for corporations. IBM acquired Cloudant, a DBaaS: Database as a Service provider which lets developers create mobile and web apps. The technology will become a component of BlueMix. The shift to cloud-based revenue flows is a challenge to IBM's traditional sales model and the impact of this transition is not yet clear. Initiatives to integrate products, including Compose, are targeted at shifting that perception. With the growth of the market happening in newer areas, where IBM's visibility to potential clients is lower, sustaining revenue in these areas will 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 a 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 SOX: Sarbanes-Oxley Act, PCI: Payment Card Industry, and HIPAA: Accountability Act regulations: personal identities, financial information, and healthcare data. Innovation and personalization can be done by in-house 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 to corporations in their data center. As the largest supplier to corporate data center technology, 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 in which companies deliver services to their employees from their own data centers.

As of the second quarter 2017, the transforming of the IBM business model and concentrating on faster growing strategic imperatives, including cloud computing, has not been reflected in its stock price. 2

In the third quarter 2017, IBM entered into a ten year agreement with Lloyds Banking Group to provide the United Kingdom-based financial services company with secure private cloud services for rapid deployment of new applications. 3


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 modern corporate computing to include cloud-client. Emerging trends indicate that 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. New workers getting out of college are expecting access from any device, from anywhere. They typically own between three and four devices today. Small screen size, limited mobile bandwidth, and physical and logical database design issues on mobile devices present challenges to running applications originally designed for full screen devices.

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 and utilize 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 to the user 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 native mobile runtimes.


IBM MobileFirst to IBM Mobile

In 2013, IBM launched the MobileFirst for enterprise-grade mobile-application development: full IDE: integrated development environment, a back-end system for security, notifications, analytics, distribution and version management. In 2016, Microsoft Corporation acquired the Xamarin mobile app development platform in 2016.  Although poupar, 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. T

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 allow IBM’s large enterprise client base to use the Xamarin app-building toolset with IBM Mobile.


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Sources:
Online New York Times and TechTarget reporting of statements made by Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president of IBM’s Software and Cloud Group.
Review of reported statements- TechTarget's Business Applications and Architecture Media Group of the IBM InterConnect conference by Joel Shore.
NBR: National Business Review - transcripts.
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
Enterprise Cloud Computing: Technology, Architecture, and Applications, by Dr. Gautam Shroff, Cambride University Press, 2010, ISBN: 1139490915, 9781139490917
Textbook being reviewed: 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
Footnote 1:
IBM Documentation - Bluemix languages supported by default:
open source - CSS, Django, Flask, GO, Grail, HTM, JavaScript, JRuby, JVM-based language or framework, Nginx, node.js, Play, Python, Rack, Rails, Ruby, and Sinatra. proprietary languages - .NET core.
 
Footnote 2:
NBR, CNBC.com - Buffett set to take megamillion-dollar beating on IBM April 19, 2017  by Jeff Cox
 
Footnote 3:
Online - Wall Street Journal, IBM Strikes 10-Year Cloud Deal with Lloyds Bank by Sara Castellanos Jun 8, 2017