The Cloud becoming a genuine extension of Data Centers

datacenters migrate to hybrid cloud modelA new study examining the ways large companies use computing platforms concludes that the cloud is passing the tipping point between its earlier status as a playground for marketing and dev/ops projects and is becoming a genuine extension of Data Center resources.

During the last 12 months large companies have increased their spending on cloud services by 45 percent and shifted the type of workloads housed on cloud platforms to the point that production applications now account for 60 percent of all corporate cloud usage, according to the 2013 State of the Enterprise Cloud Report, an annual effort from Verizon Terremark – the hosting and cloud-services company acquired by Verizon in 2011.
The report, based on Verizon/Terremark’s own usage data from the past 12 months, shows corporate customers have increased their use of cloud-based storage by 90 percent during the past year and doubled their use of cloud-based memory.

At the same time, the number of virtual machines (VMs) running in the cloud has increased only 35 percent – indicating that the apps running in those VMs are far more resource-intensive than was typical during the previous year, according to Verizon’s analysis.

It also indicates corporate users are consciously avoiding cloud-based virtual-server sprawl by limiting the number of VMs running on public clouds and making better use of the VMs they do launch with more memory and storage capacity, according to analyst Brian Profitt, in a blog at ReadWrite.com.

Enterprises “have moved beyond development and testing and are running external-facing and critical business applications in the cloud,” according to the report, and sixty percent of the corporate apps housed in the cloud are also web-based or Internet-facing, which makes them simpler to run in a virtual environment and manage through the cloud rather than in a physical Data Center, according to the report.

A very different kind of app – back-office applications such as manufacturing, resource planning and other core business software – now account for 23 percent of all corporate apps in the cloud. Back-office applications don’t benefit much from the web-centric nature of the cloud, but do require higher levels of security, availability and industry-specific regulatory or interoperability requirements.

That, as much as the 45 percent increase in corporate spending on cloud services, shows corporate IT managers are using the cloud as a way to extend or expand their existing Data Centers, not just porting their most web-friendly apps to the cloud to get them out of the Data Center.

The conversion isn’t complete, however. Internet-facing production applications are the most common business apps in the cloud, while internal-facing production software is fourth most common. Nos. 2, 3 and 4 in the list are still the development, staging and proof-of-concept apps that have made up the biggest proportion of corporate cloud use until recently.

“Many” enterprises are still just moving low-priority or commodity services to the cloud, according to Verizon’s report, which didn’t note the number it considers “many.” The mix of internal- and external-facing apps and rapid increase in demand for more resource-rich virtual machines to run demanding workloads, however, indicates a genuine shift toward hybrid cloud models in which apps are housed in the datacenter or cloud based on where they’ll run most efficiently.

Even the most virtualized Data Centers are still in the early stages of a migration to a hybrid cloud model, the report admits. Increases in usage and type of workloads running on the cloud don’t mean the corporate world has converted to hybrid computing in toto. It does mean that “IT is done playing around with cloud,” however, and is on the way to turning it into something more useful than a file locker or developer’s sandbox, Proffitt wrote.


Image: Niyazz /Shutterstock.com

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This article, Datacenters Quit Playing With Cloud; Put it to Work Instead, is syndicated from slashdot and is posted here with permission.

 

Setting up email accounts with RackNine

In this how-to article we’ll show you how you can create email addresses using the Workspace Control Center in a quick and easy way.

  1. First you need to log in to your Account Manager and click on ‘EMAIL’. Besides our regular email plans, RackNine also provides free email addresses when registering a domain, or when purchasing web hosting from us. If this is the first time you’re setting up an email address you will see all those free offers displayed when you click on ‘EMAIL’.
  2. Click ‘Launch’ next to the account you want to set up the email for or click ‘Set Up’ to select the free account credit you want to redeem, then select the domain or product you want to associate with this email account.
  3. Once set up, the new account will display in the email account list. Click the ‘Launch’ button next to the account (you may need to refresh your browser for the new email plan to display in your list.)
  4. At the top of the email address list, click Create. The Create Account window displays with your most frequently used, available email Plan selected by default. If you don’t have any email accounts, you will be asked to ‘create one now’.
  5. Enter the email address you want to create. For example, yourname@example.com, and enter and confirm a Password for the new email address.
  6. Optionally, you can configure additional options by clicking on ‘Show additional options’, where you can select the email ‘Plan’ in which to create this email address, the ‘Quota’ or amount of storage space for the email address, whether to ‘Make this a catch-all account’ that receives all messages sent to any incorrect email address for the same domain, ‘Send copy to’ that sends copies of the messages addressed to this account, ‘SMTP relays per day’ that selects the number of SMTP relays to assign to this address (please note that to prevent spam, we limit our email accounts to 250 SMTP relays per day), ‘Enable SPAM filter’ that selects how spam should be handled for this address, and ‘Enable auto reply’ to configure an automatic reply to any messages sent to this address.
  7. Click Create.

Once your new email account has been created, you are ready to log in to your web-based email through the Workspace Control Center and start sending and receiving email messages, but if you prefer to use a third party email client or your mobile device, we can help you out with that as well. We have step-by-step guides for some of the most popular email clients such as:

  • Android devices
  • Apple iPad
  • Apple iPhone
  • Apple Mail
  • Auto-Setup for Apple devices
  • BlackBerry
  • Eudora
  • Microsoft Entourage
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft Outlook Express
  • Microsoft Surface tablet
  • Microsoft Windows phone
  • Mozilla Thunderbird

If you are using our Hosted Exchange email Plan which is available with select Personal and Group email plans, you can retrieve email from several Hosted Exchange Email addresses in Outlook. However only one email address can be configured to use Exchange. If you need additional email addresses you can set them up as POP or IMAP accounts.

For more information please read the information posted at our Hosted Exchange email page.

Sentiment Analysis in Social Media

Sentiment AnalysisSentiment forces have always been at play throughout the history of mankind, shaping the course of events, both at individual levels and more persuasively at collective levels, where in many cases they can become almost unstoppable. Take Market Sentiment for instance, that influences the stock market to the point of  pushing the price of stocks upwards when the sentiment of a majority of investors become bullish, or downward when bearish, contrarians notwithstanding. By measuring Market Sentiment using tools such as News Analytics, which include Sentiment Analysis on textual stories about companies and sectors, investors are somehow able to predict market movements, at least to some extent, and invest accordingly, in theory at least.

Sentiment Analysis is conventionally known as the application of Natural Language Processing, Computational Linguistics, and Text Analytics techniques that help to identify and extract subjective patterns and information from a variety of sources. Sentiment Analysis may for example gather data from the attitude that some speakers or writers display in regards to a particular subject. Although that attitude may originate from a genuine desire to provide an honest and unbiased evaluation, in most cases it invariably ends up reflecting the emotional state of the author when writing, and indirectly the emotional effect the author tries to embed on the reader, making the whole affair rather subjective, or sentimental if you prefer.

Sentiment Analysis on a large scale is still in its infancy and most of the academic research is being done by several teams in universities around the world, who presently are mostly focusing on trying to understand what are the underlying sentiment dynamics behind today’s Virtual Communities. The CyberEmotions project, for example, recently identified the role of negative emotions in driving social networks trends, which could provide clues about why certain online communities such as MySpace are deserted by their members, while others such as Facebook keep attracting such large number of users.

It’s easy to see how Sentiment Analysis has become such a valuable tool for businesses looking to advertise their products, identify new markets and manage their reputations. By using data from reviews, ratings, recommendations and other forms of online evaluation and applying advanced Data Mining algorithms, business can now effectively filter out the noise, get a better understanding of online trends, and identify content that is relevant to a particular product or service.

Social Media applied to politics is another obvious field of expertise where Sentiment Analysis is indispensable, and has become part of the arsenal of most political candidates who know what a big difference it makes to act timely upon the appropriate set of mass feelings on Social Media outlets.

However, the larger the scope the more difficult it becomes to translate a chunk of written text into a positive or negative sentiment. To the variable that states that humans often disagree on most sentimental issues we need to add other factors such as cultural backgrounds, linguistic nuances and different contexts that illustrate how big of a task it is for computers to get all this data properly analyzed and provide meaningful results and accurate predictions.


If you wish to investigate further on the subject of Sentiment Analysis you can try the following resources:

  • IBM’s Social Sentiment Index
    A very useful discovery tool that reveals public opinions and trends by distinguishing subtle traits like sarcasm or sincerity, and that applies machine learning to identify which social media commentary is important—and which is just background noise.
  • We Feel Fine
    A database of several million human feelings, harvested from blogs and social pages in the Web. Using a series of playful interfaces, the feelings can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices. Web api available as well.
  • CyberEmotions
    The CyberEmotions project focuses on the role of collective emotions in creating, forming and breaking-up ecommunities. It makes available for download three datasets containing news and comments from the BBC News forum, Digg and MySpace, only for academic research and only after the submission of an application form.

Home Automation: It’s Already Here

The year is 2062 and the domestic world is awash with flat-TV screens, videophones that you talk to, wristwatches that talk to you, earrings that play music, robotic butlers equipped with robotic vacuum cleaners, and flying cars. All at the touch of a button and yet people have the nerve to complain about how stressful all that is for their fingertips. Remember the Jetsons?



We are still about 50 years away from that hypothetical scenario but most of those inventions are already common household items. Others, such as flying cars (http://www.terrafugia.com/) and domestic robots (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=personal-robot-research) will soon be. Well, perhaps that’s too optimistic. Realistically speaking, I don’t think we’ll see flying cars for a while, but I’m confident they’ll be around in less than half a century.

In today’s world the explosion of high-speed Internet and app-centric smartphones have made possible (and affordable) the implementation of home automation systems that can remotely control light modules, alarms, security cameras, thermostats, door sensors and other appliances that wirelessly connect to the home’s high-speed Internet,making them addressable from any personal computing device.

The popularity of home automation systems have been increasing greatly in recent years as prices drop and the systems become more user-friendly. Thanks to smartphone and tablet connectivity the “Internet of Things” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_of_Things) is finally coming alive at home allowing us to remotely control numerous domestic activities, which apart from convenience, brings in energy efficiency and safety.

Another beneficial side effect is that since statistical information can now be gathered about the usage of every connected household appliance the concept of ‘Big Data’ takes a whole new meaning (http://mashable.com/2013/02/27/home-automation-ux-design/) that will provide UX professionals with a greater insight into how products are used in real life and will provide opportunities to create a more personalized user experience.

Google has made clear that wants to be at the forefront of this home automation revolution. At its 2011 Google I/O developer conference, the company declared that “We wanna go one step further and really broaden the concept of what exactly is an Android accessory. We’d like to think of your entire home as an accessory — or better yet, as a network of accessories — and think of Android as the operating system for your home. We call this vision Android@Home.” However, for some unexplained reason Android@Home did not evolve past that announcement.

The problem seemed to be a lack of standards, since there isn’t enough regulation to keep the quality of the systems to specific standards. Virtually every home automation brand has its own protocol and specification, and no company wants to invest heavily developing a product before all the red tape is cleared up.

Google however is finding another way of tapping into the home automation market, this time through Google Glass, whose engineers at Mountain View think it can also be used to do such mundane things as controlling your refrigerator, TV, garage door, alarm and lighting systems, office appliances, and even espresso makers (http://www.grepscience.com/archives/12859).

Google is also planning a home automation role for its Google Glass head-mounted display (HMD) computer, that according to the patent application, will be able to control a compatible appliance in proximity using a “virtual control interface” powered by a variety of technologies such as the HMD’s camera, RFID, IR, QR codes, GPS, acoustic or optical signals, WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, cellular, or NFC. The application I/O includes gestures, head motions and voice controls.

The Jetsons would have certainly liked that. No more fingertip stress.

The Best of the Best Portable Applications for 2012

Another year goes by and another edition of  “The Best of the Best Free Portable Applications” sees the light.

This year you will find most of the same portable apps that were already featured in 2011. One notable change however is the absence of Chrome, that although  started the year very strong, it later suffered from many performance issues that prevent it to take the lead from its main competitors, Firefox and IE. Those were the kind of issues that for example would make a web page render perfect in all major browsers except in Chrome, bringing back memories of the much-hated IE6. Therefore this year we have decided to give back to Firefox the “Best Portable Browser” Award , mainly because of its reliability, and the great extensions that make it the perfect companion for designers and developers alike.

2012 has seen some incredible developments in terms capacity of USB drives, like the new USB 3.0 Flash Drive from Kingston Digital that can hold up to 1TB of storage and made its debut at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. That’s the  kind of capacity allows you now to carry around not only your portable applications, but fully featured operating systems, with a complete suite of programs, like this year’s starred package, BackTrack Linux, the Penetration Testing and Security Auditing Linux Distribution.

As always, all applications in this list are available free of charge. No shareware, demos, 30-days trials or any other commercial venues either. Also note that this list has been made from a Web Design and Development point of view, so if you are into business applications or some other field, you may find some of them of not much use for your every day tasks. But since they’re all completely free, you may want to try them out anyway.

Best Portable Browser

firefox-logoMozilla Firefox is fast and leaves no personal information behind on the machine you run it on, so you can take your favorite browser along with all your favorite bookmarks and extensions with you wherever you go. Among those extensions is Firebug, that integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of development tools at your fingertips while you browse, allowing to edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page.

More Info & Download

 

Best Portable e-mail Client

Mozilla ThunderBird A very complete e-mail client that comes with every feature a regular user may need and works quite well. A simple and friendly interface helps coming to grips with this program that supports many protocols including SMTP, POP3, IMAP4, NNTP and RSS, and whose functionality can be extended with the use of plug-ins.

More Info & Download

 

Best Portable FTP client

FileZilla A fully-featured FTP client that is fast and highly reliable FTP client with lots of handy features. FileZilla supports some very nice features resume on both downloads and uploads, timeout detection, firewall support, SOCKS4/5 and HTTP1.1 support, SSL, SFTP and much more, all within an intuitive user interface.

More Info & Download

 

Best Portable Text Editor

NotePad++ Portable Not only the best replacement you can find for that clumsy NotePad application that comes with all Windows computers by default, but also the best companion for those who deal with large chunks of text on a regular basis. Among its nicest features are Syntax Highlighting and Syntax Folding in C, C++, HTML, ASP, Java, Pascal, CSS and others.

More Info & Download

 

Best Portable Image Viewer

IrfanViewPortableIrfanView Portable Tiny, fast and able to read and write just about any image format imaginable, including those pesky .ico favicons. Some basic editing functions allow you to crop, rotate, adjust colors and do a little retouching. Other advanced features include batch conversion, slideshow creation, support for Adobe Photoshop Filters, etc.

More Info & Download

 

Best Portable Image Editor

GIMPPortableThe Gimp It’s a little known fact that The Gimp can do for free just about all that costly Photoshop can, and then some more, like advanced batch image processing, and the ability of being portable. Just don’t let the unusual interface put you off. Once you get used to its way of handling things you’ll find yourself reaching high levels of productivity and focusing on the production issues that really matter.

More Info & Download

 

Best Portable Vector Editor

inkscapeInkscape Also little known is the fact that Inkscape can do for free just about all that costly Illustrator can, and then some more, such as its superb handling of .svg vectors, and the ability of being portable. Inkscape supports many advanced SVG features, such as markers, clones, alpha blending, etc., that are much needed when creating icons for mobile applications, for example.

More Info & Download

 

Best Portable Multimedia Player

vlcVLC A free portable alternative to Windows Media Player that handles most multimedia formats, including MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, XviD, WMV, mp3, ogg, etc. as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a media converter or even as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.

More Info & Download

 

Best Portable Linux Distribution

backtrackBackTrack is a Linux-based penetration testing arsenal that aids security professionals in the ability to perform assessments in a purely native environment dedicated to hacking. Regardless if you’re making BackTrack you Install BackTrack, boot it from a Live DVD or thumbdrive, the penetration distribution has been customized down to every package, kernel configuration, script and patch solely for the purpose of the penetration tester.

More Info & Download