Thursday, August 26, 2010

Virtualization - one more benefit - and one more Hewlett Packard problem

The main market for virtualization is not desktop computers - it is servers.  Rackspace for instance is really a business running virtual private servers.

Rackspace claim 99.99 percent availability - but it did stuff up once and upset Michell Maulkin and Justin Timberlake.  That was a small failing (and I would not worry too much about either of those people being upset).  But more to the point - the failing was less than 20 minutes.

We however at Bronte have a server (an old Dell box!) connected to the net via a DSL modem and the vagaries of Telstra (possibly the OECDs worst incumbent phone company).  My business website is down.  Worse - my @brontecapital.com (that is business) emails are bouncing...

The problem is - you guessed it - Telstra.

One advantage of a virtual server in the "cloud" is that it can be mirrored in jurisdictions other than my own and hence removes the Telstra risk.  Telstra risk is a serious problem in Australia.

The cloud may be an online offer - but it is almost certainly a superior product.  And to anybody whose email bounced... sorry.

Over time we will give up on in-house information technology and move entirely into the clouds.

And if you are a Hewlett Packard shareholder you should think that through.  The cloud is ultimately cheaper, allows you to outsource (or remove) your IT staff and offers superior execution.  That is wonderful for many - but for the incumbent midrange server maker having a competitor that is superior in every way looks - well - ugly.

John

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are Megan McCardle and Michelle Malkin now one and the same person? Myself, I'm not much interested in either of them, but I imagine there are many to whom this will come as interesting news.

John Hempton said...

I have corrected. I read the article a LONG time ago and did not re-read it.

My memory of Tech Crunch is faulty.

J

Anonymous said...

With stuff in cloud, aren't you ultimately even more dependent on Telstra? (if you want to work from the office, anyway).

Virtualization is trading one risk for another. Given the creaky infrastructure in some places and the cost of replacing it, it might be actually worse for some time.

On the other hand, it could be a reason to go long selected telco infrastructure companies...

John Hempton said...

If www.brontecapital.com were in the cloud it would not be down. As a financial institution (albeit a small one) disappearing is not good. Your clients might think things that are ugly and false.

My email would be stored on cloud server. At the moment it is bouncing. Try send something to myfirstname@brontecapital.com - it bounces... very bad

I can mirror my hard drive on the laptop. I do anyway - I use Unison...

http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~bcpierce/unison/

So - no - would not be dependent at all. If I needed to access the server ANY conncetion would do - an internet cafe - whatever...

Now NOBODY can get to www.brontecapital.com - and they will not until tomorrow.

J

theravednh said...

The wide-scale business use of the cloud (and therefore server side virtualisation) will not start until the cloud providers actually provide some sort of contractual guarantees of the data held.

At the moment there are absolutely none, and even a company the size of Eli Lilly haven't been able to be Amazon to budge on that. See http://searchcloudcomputing.techtarget.com/news/article/0,289142,sid201_gci1517499,00.html

In my opinion, providing a service with no actual guarantees is not a 'grown-up' way to do business, the cloud providers will have to change before businesses trust them with critical data.

BTW: For email services I would strongly recommend an Australian company (until they were bought by Opera!) - FastMail.fm. Reliable, highly configurable and with excellent web mail for both desktop and mobile browsers.

Anonymous said...

This is very similar to Akamai's business model if you think about it. Though their original business plan was to cache sites at various hubs on the internet infrastructure (MAE-East and MAE-West in the USA, for example). At least that was the old plan.

Akamai offered performance, you want up-time and stability.

dan said...

It's rather cool to learn about your education in tech John, but running your business from a home server connected by DSL is akin to visiting a backyard surgeon who sterilises his scalpels on a camping stove. It might work most of the time, but it doesn't offer you any of the reassurances a modern person would expect. I'm sorry to hear about your problems - but blaming Telstra for it is like blaming the backyard surgeon...

John Hempton said...

Its a two person operation - and it is backed up - and there is disaster recovery. Just our emails lost really.

J

John Hempton said...

One more thing - it now turns out that the copper pair was ripped out by a construction team.

Silly really. And not specifically Telstra's fault.

BUT - if the server were in the cloud and duplicated in the cloud then it would have been fine.

John

kim.rampling said...

There's no defense for Telstra. Their Bigpond service is the worst I have come across, and that's not from a user perspective - will explain another time.

Original issue was HP and and Dell: they are locked into this bidding war for 3PAR.

Good for them but think they (whoever wins) will ultimately overpay for a seat in the cloud that others have already flown away with.

theravednh said...

Hi John,

Just a note about the OpenID integration in the comments:

OpenID returns various fields about the user after they have confirmed their identity, including a unique handle and a full name. The contacting website, yours in this case, then decides what fields should be displayed.

In this case, your site is ignoring the full name and displaying the handle (which is designed to be gibberish to try to avoid conflicts with other people's identities). Also, blogspot is not even asking for the user's web site URL, but just linking to the OpenID provider's profile page - which is also pretty rubbish!

I don't know if this is a configuration item that you can fix on your site, or it is just lame OpenID integration by blogspot... or even mistakes in the OpenID implementation by my provider... but I thought I'd point out the issues.

Roni said...

Hi John,

Why not check out this small crowd for joining the cloud.

http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/index.html

They know a few things about the cloud and even the city of LA uses them! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sa9fg8tLlIs

Roni

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