Why clouds suck – And how to make them better

Every year there is a new IT buzzword, the new thing that is supposed to change the way everything will be. And every year I have been disappointed at the gap between the message and the reality. Some would call this the marketecture vs reality gap.

And most of these great ideas had been around for decades before they became the latest fashion.

As an example do you remember HSM? Hierarchical Storage Management was the hot buzz word for years in storage,. People loved hearing about it and would spend months or years evaluating all the available options before finding the one that most closely met their needs, and then didn’t buy it.

We all remember eco, lean, blades, object orientation, virtual, web 2.0, ERP, Social, groupware, collaboration, open source, C. and so many more. They each had their day in the marketecture limelight, where they were promised as the cure to all ills, and they all exist today,. But none really lived up to the pleasentville-esque beautiful world of perfection they were presented as.

The latest over-hyped and generally misunderstood buzzword is “cloud”. Actually today pretty much everyone is using cloud technology. This blog is hosted on a virtual server that was automatically provisioned, and is really easy and cheap to setup and consume.

But here’s the thing, the cloud of today is still re-learning the lessons that were learnt by enterprise IT pioneers decades ago. When you look at a cloud, what you are really looking at is a mildly virtualized environment combining processing, memory, storage and networking.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying clouds don’t exist or don’t work well, they do and they very much do. But there is a lot more they need to offer.

Let’s look at what a future cloud needs to offer.

1. The user should have no knowledge of the elements of the environment they are using. When you use the cloud, you are actually running a process, you should not care about the operating system or the operating systems resource needs. And when you run that process you should only care about the units of processing power it consumed. The idea that today you have to “provision” a server before you can run a process it just as artifact of the client server world, and gets in the way of consuming clouds.

2. Security in the cloud should be holistic. Every process, application, element of storage, file, record or field needs to be automatically parsed against a security database. Where each user is given explicit rights to each element or is given group rights that cover multiple elements. Access control and intrusion detection should be tightly bound together. No user should have excessive rights, and all accesses should be recorded.

3. All references should be universal. That is to say that all files and all lines of executable code, along with every field in every record in every database should have a universal resource locator just like a URL, so that it can be accessed wherever it sits in the cloud. This needs a very sophisticated and high performance routing system, but is critical to limitless clouds.

4. The hardware configuration of the processing elements of the cloud must tightly bind the CPU with the memory and allow for very fast swapping of code in and out. This can allow code to be spread across the available processing units and swapped in and out as needed without consuming resource when not required.

Imagine how this cloud would work. It would offer users virtually unlimited processing capacity, and allow very high system utilization, close to 100% , 100% of the time. While at the same time only charging a user for the actual processing they perform. And it would be incredibly secure.

Actually none of these ideas are new, they have been around for decades. The issue is that they are not used (well) today in the Wintel (windows / intel) and lintel (linux / intel) based environments that the cloud is being build upon. Anyone who has used a mainframe in the last 10 years knows all of this.

Ask a mainframer about hypervizors and then compare what they tell you to Microsoft or VMwares hypervisors.

I’m not saying that the mainframe got everything right. Actually I think that the mainframe got as much wrong as it did right. But there is an amazing amount of knowledge already in place that can be leveraged to make the next platform better. Ignoring this is a crime.

The issue is that Microsoft and Intel and all the other cloud leaders today have not used these technologies, and are relearning the lessons of the past, and remaking the same mistakes of the past.

The mainframe today has a ridiculous number of complex licensing models, simply because over time they all made sense to someone.

As the cloud is evolving, it needs to listen to the voices from the mainframe and avoid making these same mistakes.

But if you speak to the thought leaders of the cloud, they don’t see it this way. They think that looking backwards will slow their ability to innovate, and maybe they are right. But just maybe moving slightly slower, but building a better model is a worthwhile exercise.

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Hall of Shame for Bloomberg, #1 Restaurant

Take a guess as to the #1 restaurant east of Las Vegas last year; do you know it?  Joe’s Stone Crab (I had to look it up too btw).

I used to know what it was; I knew what it was in 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, an on and on-  The answer?  Tavern on the Green.

Tavern on the Green in NYC’s Central Park along Central Park West.  Revenue in 2007?  $38M!  Number of diners per year?  Half a million!  Taxes and fees paid to NYC and NY state? A buttload!  Number of employees?  400!  400 good paying jobs at a $38M/year business that had been successful for decades.

Since 2009?  Zero. Zip. Bubkes on all fronts.  Why?  Well, the restaurant sits on city land so they are in effect, the landlords.  The city’s “experts” essentially decided to end the long successful partnership with the family that ran Tavern because they thought they could get a “better deal” for the city.  Better deal???  This is perhaps the biggest waste in New York since the ill-fated Hamptons Subway system was built and never used.

The restaurant experts presiding over this mess (and responsible for making the decision to boot the group that ran it for decades)?  The Parks Department of course.  Yes, the NYC Parks Department!

Mayor Bloomberg’s restaurant experts

Flash forward to today… going on 3 years and counting of all zeros at the former #1 independent restaurant in the world.  All this was done as NYC was (and is), struggling with the impacts of a crushing recession, including high unemployment and budget troubles.  The latest update?   Parks officials, for their part, say only that “the selection process is still ongoing.”

The NYC Parks Department???   Really?   Clearly Uncle Leo’s son Jeffrey has been promoted and now runs the Department.  Hey Mayor Bloomberg: message to you and your Parks Department and Cousin Jeffrey…, “Hello!!!”

 

“Uncle Leo” – Proud father to Parks Dept.’s Jeffrey

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Why are we scared of differences

My dog is a racist. It’s a fact of nature, he barks at other dogs that are not like himself. Anytime he sees a small white fluffy dog, it’s all sniffing and hugs, but when he sees a brown dog all of a sudden it’s barks and running around. Squirrels, birds and cats of course get the same treatment.

Now he’s a dog, so I’m willing to give him a little latitude for his limited brain capacity. But I’m not willing to give people the same “get away with being stupid” card.

When I grew up, the only black people I ever saw worked on the underground system, and so I used to call black people train drivers. My parents explained to me at a very early age that skin color is just a pigment that sits below the skin, and is a way that the amount of sunlight that is reflected is controlled, and is a factor associated with their place of origin. I grew up in a very cosmopolitan environment and so just saw skin color as an indicator of where a persons most recent ancestors came from. It’s not complex.

Skin color, cultural background, religion, hair color, height are used by people to differentiate themselves from others. And many people (like my stupid but lovable dog) only like people like themselves. I believe these stupid people are scared of anything not like themselves. It must be terrifying to be scared of so much.

Of course some differences are not so obvious, and for those terrified individuals they must shit themselves at the possibility that the person next to them may have a different sexual orientation. How scary that the bloke next to them on the train may have a boyfriend, or the nice lady at the supermarket once had a penis.

The terror must be very deep when they are willing to look like such bigoted assholes and actively fight to restrict other peoples human and civil rights.

Sexual orientation is so clearly just a genetic coding position in everyone’s DNA. People are who they are. But how can you expect anyone who doesn’t accept science as fact to understand that simple truth. Actually I don’t expect idiots to understand anything, I just expect them to deal with the reality that everyone has the right to live their lives as they please, and accept the fact that everyone has the same rights.

It seems likely that a lot of the most fervent campaigners against equal rights, are in fact fighting an internal battle over their own personal sexuality. And if they can’t accept themselves, how can they accept others.

Stupidity ,self hating and bigotry seem to go hand in hand.

There is no place for bigotry in this universe, so get over it.

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Where’s My Awesome Stuff???

I’m angry because I feel I’ve been cheated.  Shortchanged. Bait and Switched.  Overpromised and “Underdelivered to.”

Hoverboards, flying cars (or at least aqua cars), wristwatch TV/phone, holographic 3-D chess and much, much, more were “promised” to me as a child and now it’s 2012 they’re not here (iPhones and Droids don’t count btw – too big and Siri has a big voice recognition problem).

So to all of you involved in making me long for these things I say, “Shame on you and all the people that failed to make them happen!”

The Big Tease From Bergdorf Goodman

OK, I’ll survive.  I’ll be fine and I can live without those things for now; they’re just gadgets really.  But what about my “Monkey Butler?”  Weren’t we all really led to believe we’d each have a smartly dressed, exquisitely-trained monkey servant by now?  I certainly was and I’m ready to take delivery now.  Is he ready?  Well, the Bergdorf-Goodman department store (as well as a shop on Lexington Ave.), teased me a few years back by featuring Monkey Butlers in their 5th Avenue windows and I thought maybe the time had finally come… but alas, it hadn’t.

Michael Jackson had Bubbles, Homer Simpson had Mojo the Helper Monkey, Stacee Jaxx has one named “Hey Man” in the new Rock of Ages movie.  Even that schlub Ross had Marcel in TV’s “Friends,” so where’s mine?  Indiana Jones had an evil one, but he was still cool (right up until his “bad date”).

Famous “Monkey Butler-Man” duos in history.

Look, I know me having a Monkey Butler will eventually lead to the demise of the human race (see Monkey Shines, Outbreak, and of course Apes, Planet of), but that’s a while off and I really want one!  Making my co-workers/employees act like one just isn’t cutting it anymore (but I do appreciate the effort David).

“Planet of the Apes: The Musical” – Now playing at the Springfield Theater

I don’t want to be angry with the monkeys but I’m afraid I may start to blame them for not stepping up.  My favorite 70’s show “Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp” shows us they can easily do the job and Downton Abby (if not the original Hobson from Arthur) shows that there should be no shame in having the job of butler, so it’s not that.  I’m just worried that if I don’t get my own real Monkey Butler soon it’ll be me, not Troy McClure from “Planet of the Apes: The Musical,” scream-singing the sad refrain, “I hate every ape I see, from chimpan A to chimpan…Z!

The Elusive Monkey Butler Store?
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I hate profiteering

When I grew up the people who influenced my childhood had lived through one and in some cases two world wars. My parents were born around the Second World War, and my grandparents and everyone in the age groups in-between had experience of war time living. One thing that all these generations had in common was an understanding of how evil it was to profit during times of war. The term war profiteer was given to the people, who were the lowest of the low, those without a shred of decency or any form of backbone or ethical code.

The concept that you would make a fortune out of others misery was considered disgusting. That is not to say that industry wouldn’t build the machinery needed to meet the need, just that the companies who build things and those who were involved in the distribution of goods understood the importance of their work, and the importance of not bleeding the country dry in the process.

That sense of decency and morality seems to have disappeared. Now wars are looked upon as a fantastic way of moving money from the majority to the ultra rich, and there are no limits on how much profit can be made. Taxes are not even levied to cover the costs of war, instead no-bid contracts are given to the friends of those in power, who have no issue in charging top price for their goods and services.

The concept of war profiteering, now that it is not considered disgusting has been extended. Now huge companies feel no pangs of guilt changing maximum prices for agriculture, fuel and even medical supplies and services.

More recently it has been seen as reasonable to move work to places in the world that offer the cheapest labor. Even though these low cost places offer so little support for their people as to be considered slave labor.

And now we see that the ultra rich are also being sneaky and using devices to create laws that allow them to move their money to places where they don’t have to return a reasonable level to the societies that live in to pay for basic services (taxes).

People, who run companies, generally are smart and hard working, and the ones that found companies are normally grounded in a very strong ethical code. It seems the children of these pioneers of industry and commerce lost some of this ethical base. Lets hope that the next generation of capitalists remembers.
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Exercise videos – multiple types of pain.

Okay, I get it, I understand why people want to be fit. I can see the benefits of being healthy, of increasing your heart rate and burning more energy to grow muscle and reduce flab. It makes sense.

But every year I head about people keeling over from heart attacks or other bit bursting during exercise. It’s dangerous, but I guess sitting on the sofa and watching TV 15 hours a day is probably more dangerous.

So people turn to exercise videos. I’ve been persuaded that I should “do” the Jillian Michaels video. OH MY GOD!!!! Who is this woman from hell. The warm up is enough to kill me. Actually I thing I broken a leg bone just doing the stretches. And her psychological warefare techniques are worse. She lies! Just one more minute, is always a lie. She is one tough task master.

Evil Task Master

So I’ve looked for a less aggressive version of the “exercise” video, and so far every one I’ve looked at has some serious issues. There is no way I can watch a crazy staring woman for 45 minutes. Some of their googly eyes are seriously freaky.

Any they need to learn a better script. “we’re walking and walking and walking” isn’t going to hold my attention.

One day there will be an issue-free exercise video, and I will have no more excuses, but until then I have an out, and I’m going to use it wahahahaha (evil laugh)

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Naymz – Don’t Be “That Guy”

Naymz… Naymz.com… yes I’m talking to you.  No, I’m not answering one of your many automated emails or Reputation Intercept Alert offers, I’m talking to you eMano-a-Mano.  My message?  Back off, take a breath, and reflect on your life so far and your life yet to be.

Evolution or Unintelligent Design?

Look, face it – you’re not LinkedIn or even Plaxo and never will be – It’s not the end of the world!  Admitting you’re an “also ran” and that you will always be sucking hind teat is part of the process for you now.  Becoming some pathetic hybrid by adding weak chromosomes from  reputation.com and that cheesy LifeLock service is not the answer.  Changing your name to visible.me and then back again to Naymz clearly wasn’t either btw (quick game of Qwikster-Netflixter anyone?).

Prodigy,  AltaVista,  Rayovac, RC Cola, Eric Roberts, Buttbook and the rest of your brethren have nothing to be ashamed of, so neither do you (OK, I made up Buttbook but you get my drift, right?).

New Naymz Spokesperson Eric Roberts?

Be comfortable in your own skin, accept reality and stop “calling” us like you’re an important part of our lives – Don’t be “that guy” that we tolerate nagging us and then have to cut off completely, OK?  Be the sometimes interesting uncle we check in on when WE want to; it’s really better for all of us.

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Discussing the third rail.

If you travel on an electrified railway, I’m sure you are familiar with the third rail. That’s the one with 600 Volts of High Current DC that powers the train. It’s the one that under any circumstances you don’t want to touch. Everyone knows that if you touch the third rail you will be instantly desiccated into a puff of smoke. So we all know never to tough the third rail.

In America there is a topic, which is the equivalent of the third rail, it’s gun control.

I like guns. I’ve had the chance to fire a range of target rifles and pistols, colt 45’s, Magnums, semi automatics, an AK47 and once a grenade launcher, and it’s great fun. I’ve never hunted animals with anything more than a camera, but that really just because of lack of opportunity rather than any sort of tree hugging mindset.

When I’ve used a gun I’ve taken it very seriously, and I recognize the deadly power of the weapon. It amazes me that people keep guns at home, in their cars, in their handbags and on their persons. These are deadly weapons and need to be protected at all times.

I’ve known people that keep a gun in every room in their house, yet leave their doors unlocked at night and when they leave because “their” street is so safe. Badly controlled weapons will eventually fall into the hands of thieves, who sell them to those who plan to commit greater crimes.

Guns are NOT toys, and are a serious weapon and a serious issue.

Today anyone can get a gun. Go to a shop and buy one, with an ID and waiting period or go to a gun show and pick one up for cash, no questions asked. If you happen to have a tattoo on your forehead that indicates you plan to shoot someone, it’s possible that you may just have to pick one up on the black market. Bottom line is that absolutely anyone however obviously crazy can get a gun or several guns easier than a fifteen year old can get a pack of cigarettes. The controls in place are useless.

But there has to be some reasonable control on how guns are consumed and used in America. It seems crazy that there are such weak controls on who can own a gun and how they can use them. With the exception of farmers and hunters, guns for civilian use are almost entirely for fun, or terror. The concept of using a gun for “personal protection” is not reasonable in a civilized society. The chance of someone using it inappropriately is dramatically higher than using it appropriately.

Mandatory training, regular psych tests, yearly certification and registration, biometric access controls, limiting firing rates, limiting loaded capacities, restricting armor plate piecing rounds, limiting calibers would all be a good start.

The terrible cost of even a small number of nut cases with arsenals is not acceptable.

There will always be deranged people who perform horrible crimes, and society should make it as hard as possible for them to perform wide spread carnage.

It is not enough for politicians to look sad and say they will pray for the souls of the dead. We need a serious debate and serious action to ensure that every year the number of people killed by guns in America goes down.

If a country’s people wish to allow guns in society, then the people need to think very carefully about the consequences and put in place serious controls to weed out crazies and limit the chance of mass murder.

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“The Weatherman” – Scam or Sham?

As I recently zipped through the city on yet another beautiful, sunny day in which people are carrying umbrellas and wearing rain gear I realize that I’m still angry about the sham (or is it scam?), that is “the Weatherman.”  This includes the Weatherwoman, Weathergirl, Doppler 3000 Weatherputer and all the rest.  You’re failing!
There are just as many days where throngs of umbrella-less Weather Report watching faithful are fighting in the downpour for the feeble number of taxicab drivers who showed up for work (because taxi drivers listen to the “forecast” as well).  Failure!

Extended forecasts?… 5 Day Forecast, 7 Day Forecast, 10 Day Forecast!  Come on now, you can’t get tomorrow right half the time and I’m supposed to make plans for next week based on your “expertise.”  A blindfolded monkey with a pencil in his mouth is just as likely to get it right as you guys.  I mean that.  I’d wager that the printed-once-a-year Farmer’s Almanac and the damn Groundhog (Phil to his friends), have better performance records than you air-brushed, teeth-capped, surgically-altered, always smiling “weather experts.”  Why are you smiling btw?  It certainly can’t be pride in performance.  

Sham or scam is my only question.  Do you really know that you and all your meteorological tables and tech have no clue what the weather will be, but are pretending you do (scam)? Or do you genuinely think you can predict the weather but are just wrong more than half of the time (sham)?  Either way, you’re essentially stealing money if you get paid more than a Carnival Guesser.

The only accurate human Weatherman was WKRP’s Les Nessman in Cincinnati who did up to the minute “Eyewitness Weather” reports based on looking around outside and “witnessing” the weather… and you Mr. Weatherman are no Les Nessman. 

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How to game the system

Firstly it helps if you own the system. It’s really hard to own a pure democratic system, where every person’s vote is equal. So step one is to work in a few kinks in to the system to ensure that some votes are more valuable than others.

Then it’s really important to ensure that there are no limits on how much can be invested in getting “the right” people elected.

Now you can focus on throwing tons of cash at the people that are most important. Obviously since everyone has tons of cash this is fair (everyone does have tons of cash, at least everyone that counts. Those without cash just don’t count)

Now you can get the people elected that will do what you want. And here’s what you want. You want laws that ensure that people just like you get an advantage. Of course it’s all, legal, you made sure of that.

Lets make sure that the way that you make money is taxed at continually decreasing levels, and to make up for it let’s tax everyone else at increasing levels.

Lets make sure that things that your companies make are bought using taxpayer money at the highest possible prices (military equipment, medical equipment and drugs etc).

Now lets make sure that we can hire workers at ever decreasing prices. Lets get rid of all those complexities such as minimum wages, benefits and health and safety, they are just overhead. If we can’t get rid of it quickly enough let’s make our stuff in places in the world where these restrictions just don’t exist.

Hey when I look at these places, I like what I see. You can treat workers like crap, and if they don’t like it imprison them. And wow, look at how those places have created fantastic lives for the people (those that count, those on top), by circumventing the whole idea of “electing” people.

Wow those guys have it right, just get a whole team of smartly dressed people in uniforms with really great hats to enforce good business practice.

High quality production, low cost of production, maximum profit and it’s all legal.

Oh right, we need to be morale. Hey I have a great idea, lets redefine morality. I know let’s us the term “freedom” to justify pretty much anything. And lets use a new version of the teachings of Jesus (or any other religious concept) as a way of crapping on anyone not just like ourselves.

Now were legal, morale and rich… Job done.

Feel free to convert this way of thinking to any extreme view, it works just as well for extreme left, extreme right, any strongly religious group, or any group who thinks their way is the only way.

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