Microsoft seems to be paying a lot to buy LinkedIn if you just look at the “P&L” side of the deal.
But if you examine the long term MSFT strategy of making Office 365 thepervasive business and social platform for documents, presentations and spreadsheets, then it makes the deal worth the investment cost.
In doing work for a local healthcare product venture, I was asked to look at the network and database requirements to support mixed content transactions, video streaming all while conforming to HIPAA compliance standards. As a part of this work, I developed a Web Services Cloud-based architecture that took into account, ERH, HL7, document management and provider notation.
This tasking led me to a deep dive on the data architecture and DB requirements analysis that was required to develop the architecture.
The question of utilizing standard RDBMS (SQL) VS NoSQL was an immediate consideration. My conclusion…. It depends on a large number of technical, business and regulatory factors to derive the appropriate architectural answers. For example, what other external systems are interfaced to the applications and how do they require interaction? In general with the prolific growth in web services, mobile and cloud computing today’s enterprise will require a polyglot data architecture to satisfy all stakeholders.
A look at Healcareinformatics provides an operational insight into some of the complexities.
“Healthonomics” can be the key driving factor to trigger enterprise decisions to support multiple types of DB solutions woven together in a heterogeneous way delivering a network of web services that affect healthcare outcomes.
A recent article of an interview with the Red Hat CEO touts the benefits of private cloud implementation. See it at HERE
This debate is usually short sited and doesn’t include all CAPEX & OPEX cost associated with the “Free OS” type of cloud operations. Also the reusable components from more sophisticated partner communities afford both AWS & AZURE much greater long term valuations when responsible Enterprise accounting methods are used to drive the cost benefits analyses. The proper engineering of a cloud infrastructure which includes smart VMs well orchestrated by business-demand-level-driven auto scaling will always push the TCO/ROI argument to a public solution for large scale systems.
Microsoft actually has a TCO tool that they can use to estimate TCO of on-premises vs. Azure. There are many considerations when comparing costs of running an on-premises datacenter with full infrastructure, servers, cooling, power etc to a cloud-based service like Azure where you pay a cost based on the services consumed such as storage, compute and network egress. It can be difficult to know exactly what typical costs are for your datacenter and what the costs would be for services running in Azure. Microsoft has a pricing calculator available at http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/ which can help access costs for Azure services and a VM specific calculator at http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/virtual-machines/.
When running on-premises, you own the servers. They are available all the time which means you typically leave workloads running constantly even though they may actually only be needed during the work week. There is really no additional cost to leave them running (apart from power, cooling etc). In the cloud you pay based on consumption which means organizations go through a paradigm shift. Rather than leaving VMs and services running all the time companies focus on running services when needed to optimize their public cloud spend. Some ways that can help optimize services running are:
Auto-scale – The ability to group multiple instances of a VM/service and instances are started and stopped based on various usage metrics such as CPU and queue depth. With PaaS instances can even be created/destroyed as required
Azure Automation – The ability to run PowerShell Workflows in Azure and templates are provided to start and stop services at certain times of day making it easy to stop services at the end of the day then start them again at the start of day
Local Automation – Use an on-premises solution such as PowerShell or System Center Orchestrator to connect to Azure via REST to stop/start services
As a member of the Windows Insider Program I have had a while now to install, investigate and update the Windows 10 Technical Preview. I took a 12 year old HP Windows 7 PC and upgraded it to Windows 10. All of my hardware & programs worked flawlessly. The new browser (code named “Project Spartan” ) is really a big step forward in performance and functionality. Key features are built-in natively to the browser and their major purpose is to make web-services content easier to read, share and comment on.
Other more important revelations have to do with the stated goals of Microsoft regarding their key technology – Windows. According to the new CEO Satya Nadella, “Windows 10 marks the beginning of the more personal computing era in the mobile-first, cloud-first world.Our ambition is for the 1.5 billion people who are using Windows today to fall in love with Windows 10 and for billions more to decide to make Windows home.” If you look at the new offerings superimposed on the backdrop of existing “must have” applications, Microsoft seems determined to make itself through Windows the big dog in the internet services arena. According to Terry Myerson, “We think of Windows as a Service – in fact, one could reasonably think of Windows in the next couple of years as one of the largest Internet services on the planet.”
He continued to state that, “Windows 10 is the first step to an era of more personal computing. This vision framed our work on Windows 10, where we are moving Windows from its heritage of enabling a single device – the PC – to a world that is more mobile, natural and grounded in trust. We believe your experiences should be mobile – not just your devices. Technology should be out of the way and your apps, services and content should move with you across devices, seamlessly and easily. In our connected and transparent world, we know that people care deeply about privacy – and so do we. That’s why everything we do puts you in control – because you are our customer, not our product. We also believe that interacting with technology should be as natural as interacting with people – using voice, pen, gestures and even gaze for the right interaction, in the right way, at the right time. These concepts led our development and you saw them come to life today. “
It seems that that is the case. In fact the old-style justifications for on site servers and attendant OpEx costs don’t seem to make sense any more. Read this interesting article Is the data center in the Cloud or is the Cloud in the data center?
This is a very interesting slide deck on Internet Trends. Specifically when you dissect digital media into audio, photo, video and audio you see we are just at the beginning of a huge growth in demand for Cloud Services to support our digital lifestyle. When you combine what we want digitally with how we use it and socialize using it, the volume of digital content will grow at an unbelievable rate through 2035. internettrends052913final-130529094939-phpapp02
The IaaS and PaaS cloud models allow architects to decouple components of an application or enterprise system into the lowest functional components and design for failure how these pieces can be utilized as “independent black boxes” to form an application. This allows for provisioning elasticity and resiliency of individual components and their states in the inevitable event of hardware or software failure.
One of the least understood impacts of this approach is that the message queues used by components can become the most important elements in assuring availability, scalability and ultimate reliability. In essence the messaging infrastructure components become the most critical parts of an applications infrastructure designed to exploit elasticity. If you envision these Enterprise Apps as complex organisms, then the message queues and their reliability become mission critical organs of the living, agile enterprise architecture. Components such as controller apps, databases and such should be isolated allowing buffering of request along with replies making the network of components more durable and state independent facilitating failover and scalability.
As enterprises come to grips with Cloud Computing demands (both internal and external) the IT groups will soon realize that the Hybrid model is the “best fit” for the new Enterprise IT organization. This will also force a closer alignment with various business units and provoke a rethink of the costing models for IT. can IT really stay a coast center given the inevitable variable demand curve of Cloud Services? Enterprise IT shops will consider various vendors (E.G., Azure, HP, VMware, Amazon & others) in light of the matrix created by matching customers service type needs to flexibility of leveraging a vendors Cloud Service offerings to suit the enterprise’s complex business needs. the ease of entrance and exit will be the driving forces behind vendor selection not just cost but ease of achieving true operational excellence.
Finance, Corporate Strategy, Biz Units and IT will collaborate to determine which “flavor” of Cloud Services are needed. For example the SaaS, IaaS or PaaS models may all be needed in the view of the business objectives. The decision of what kind of service offerings to implement will drive IT’s customers to do a functional decomposition of existing applications and distil what services are used today. This will lead to an “applicability analysis” of which type of Cloud implementation makes good business sense. Some may choose from Cloud Platform as a Service, Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Cloud as a Software Service model. These may also include convent “off ramp & on ramp” strategies to allow customers to switch as circumstances dictate. An example of the choices is illustrated below:
As we look at today’s complex product, business and end-user requirements, some key ideas must be addressed to achieve profit margin goals. Almost all electronic products today utilize software, hardware and multiple suppliers/vendors to complete product functionality. The chart below is meant to trigger thinking about key items that must be included in the today’s electronic product engineering process.
As enterprises with regulatory concerns/mandates migrate to the Cloud (Private, Public, or Hybrid) compliance with regards to privacy and security will ether be barriers or demand enabling technologies.
Tricks like leveraging encryption of data at rest while keeping active keys elsewhere will allow immediate use of the IaaS platform’s compliance methods and limit the application’s need to make drastic changes in code to accommodate compliance monitoring logic.