Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I have been interested in social, mobile, and cloud for several years, but only in the last year or two have I noticed that these areas have become closely intertwined. It's as if they were destined to work together in a new paradigm. I almost can't think of one without the other two. Mobile lets me be more social. Social led me to cloud. Cloud just is.
The Intersection of Cloud, Mobile and Social — Increasingly organizations are looking to tap the collective power of social, mobile and cloud technologies. We asked Ric Telford, IBM VP of Cloud Services, to share his perspective on the trend in light of IBM's new social business software including SmartCloud Docs, a cloud-based office productivity suite. University of Texas at El Paso is using the software to collaborate in the cloud using mobile devices. Cloud Computing Journal: What’s the connection between Social, Mobile and Cloud. Are they just three tech buzzwords? Ric Telford: Social, mobile and cloud are inextricably linked as three facets of the same movement – a new era of computing. Some call it the "third platform," others "SoMoClo, let's just call it "new era" for now. Cloud is the delivery, mobile is the ubiquitous access and social is the personal engagement. Cloud is scalable, flexible IT resources on-demand with the compute power to handle real-time analytics and Big Data; mobile is having simplified, user-friendly access anywhere. Social adds the power of collaboration. As one consolidated framework, this "new era" enables flexible delivery of services and expanding reach – bringing communication and productivity to whole new levels.
Article URL: http://cloudcomputing.sys-con.com/node/2474846

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Power of Mobile (and Social): Makes a Happy Coincidence

I just got back from attending the most amazing IBM Redbooks social media residency on Mobile Enterprise, where I spent a week face-to-face with colleagues from across IBM to discuss mobile computing, and an interesting thing happened on my way home today.

I got to the airport well before my boarding time, so I had some time to kill. I found a comfortable place to sit near my gate, and pulled out my smartphone to check emails, read news - catch up with the rest of my life, basically. I looked at Facebook to see what my friends were doing, and noticed that an old acquaintance, Margaret, who I hadn't seen in a while, posted an update to her wall saying that she would be in Pittsburgh (where I was heading) and asked if any of her friends there would like to meet up and hang out while she was in town. 

As I read it, I admitted to myself with a pinch of regret that I had lost touch with this person. I didn't even know that she moved away from Pittsburgh. Several years ago, we studied dance together, and even performed in the same troupe together. She was kind, fun to be around, and had a tall graceful figure that I envied. Dance was a big part of my life at the time, and I shared a significant bond with my dance classmates. I have since lapsed from dance to focus on other pursuits, but I miss those days. While I sat there and considered making a reply, and as boarding time drew near, a tall graceful woman sat down right next to me. It was her! We were on the same flight back to Pittsburgh.

Of course, we had a nice chat to catch up, and here I am, marveling at the coincidence - all made possible by the ubiquity of wifi, mobile devices, and social media. I was glad to see her again.

So why do I find that so remarkable, and important? Well, I like connecting with people, and I have a lot of connections. A quick check of social networks that I use mostly for friends and family tells me that:

I have 620 friends on Facebook.
I'm following 450 people on my (personal) Twitter account.

Granted, they aren't all close connections, but I'm following them all for one reason or another. Without social media, and the ability to take it with me (on a mobile device) where ever I go, I wouldn't be able to stay connected to nearly as many people as I do. 

As time rolls on, the memory fades, and as we lose touch with people, we forget about them. It wasn't all that long ago that I last saw Margaret, and I'm sure that I would have recognized her in the airport, even if I didn't see her status update on Facebook today, but if it had been a much longer span of time, I'm not quite so sure. I can thank mobile (and social) for making it a happy coincidence today. 

Needless to say, you will be hearing more about my week at the residency. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mobile Application Development: Starting from Scratch

That's where I was only a few months ago - starting from scratch. Now that I've been through the "crucible" so to speak, I have some wisdom to share about my experience, and a few tips to pass on. Here is my guide to getting up to speed quickly.


HTML5 is a blanket term used to describe the latest web technologies from W3C, including HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. The web revolves around this now, but it still has yet to prove itself on the mobile front. It might not be as fast or efficient as using native code. However, it's the logical choice when developing for multiple platforms, and better to brush up on these skills before diving into any enterprise web project. Here's a "crash" course:
There's also a new IBM self-paced course offering:
ZU370 Introduction to HTML5 and JavaScript Programming - no travel required. Once you sign up for the course, you have 60 days to complete it online at your own pace. You also get access to a remote lab environment to do the hands-on labs.

UI Frameworks

Another technology you will run across in the world of mobile app development is the use of UI frameworks. These are collections of tools, libraries, and controls that can simplify the development process, provide a rich web experience, and a consistent user interface. Among the more popular UI frameworks (this is not an exhaustive list) are:
IBM course offerings include:
ZU371 Developing Mobile Web Applications with Dojo - available now as a self-paced virtual course.
ZU372 Developing Mobile Web Applications with jQuery - coming soon!

These tools, conveniently, also happen to integrate well with IBM Worklight.

IBM Worklight

IBM Worklight is a complete mobile application development platform that you can use to create all kinds of native, web-based, or hybrid mobile applications. Here's a white paper that explains in detail what the difference is and why you should care. Each approach has it's benefits and limitations. An hybrid application combines both native and web code, and therefore can take advantage of each of those approaches. IBM Worklight makes it easy to develop hybrid applications - and believe me when I say, if I think it's easy, it's super-easy. If you have the aforementioned basics covered, you can get up to speed on Worklight very quickly. There's also a new course offering (see below). You can download the IBM Worklight V5 Developer Edition from here for free.

Meet new course - WU503 Mobile Application Development with IBM Worklight V5 – Early Education. This is a 5-day instructor-led deep dive into using Worklight to develop, deploy, and manage mobile applications. Look for open enrollment classes to be scheduled in the near future, or request onsite training at your facility.

Lawrence Wilkes on SOA, EA, AM and CC: Developing Reference 'Things' - Reference Architec...

Developing Reference 'Things' - Reference Architec...: I have spent a lot of time in recent years developing various reference 'things' for clients and as part of our own research. Whether it has...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

OpenStack announcement & #cloudchat today!

Big announcement today about IBM and the OpenStack Foundation. OpenStack enhances the IBM SmartCloud Foundation offerings by expanding support for different hypervisors at the IaaS Cloud layer. It uses standards such as TOSCA and Linked Data to integrate workload optimization and deployment simplification higher in the cloud management stack.

You can learn more about the OpenStack Foundation at http://www.openstack.org.

Today's #cloudchat (April 12) will discuss the newly announced OpenStack Foundation. Join from 4 to 5 p.m. ET on Twitter. Panelists will be:
  • Rackspace’s VP Business & Corporate Development Mark Collier 
  • IBM’s VP Standards Angel Diaz 
Here is how the #cloudchat works:
  • What: A tweetchat is an online conversation held at a pre-arranged time following a specific hashtag, in this case #cloudchat. You will need a Twitter ID to take part. 
  • When: Thursday, April 12, at 4 p.m. ET, repeating the 2nd Thursday of every month at 4 p.m. ET. 
  • Where: The chat can be followed on Twitter using the hashtag #cloudchat. Alternatively, log on and access the chat on twebevent. A recap will be posted on this blog the following Friday. 
  • Why: To facilitate additional industry dialogue and provide a forum for questions, idea sharing, and problem solving. We want your input on what you’d like to discuss during future chats, so please leave a comment on this post or tweet @ibmcloud with topic ideas. 
  • Who: Anyone and everyone is welcome to join! 
Get more info at http://thoughtsoncloud.com/index.php/2012/04/save-the-date-april-12-cloudchat/

Also check out these articles:

Follow @ibmcloud and @openstack for up-to-the-minute tweets from IBM and OpenStack members.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

IBM Technical World for Smarter Computing

IBM Technical World for Smarter Computing 

featuring Cloud, Power Systems and System z 

April 16-19, 2012

San Francisco, CA


IBM Technical World for Smarter Computing

Very excited about speaking at this show next week! I will be giving these talks on cloud computing:
  • cBU09 – Birds of a Feather: Cloud and Social Media – Tuesday 10:30 - Franciscan C
  • cBU06 – Planning Your Cloud Education – Wednesday 1:00 - Union Square 1/2
  • cBU07 – An IBM Cloud Offering Decoder – Wednesday 2:30;
    repeat Thursday 9:00 - Union Square 1/2
 I also plan on doing some live social media reporting. Look for my tweets @mirv_pgh.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

When your audience says: “No time. No money. No thanks.”

I ran across this article on John Stepper's blog, and it does a great job of explaining how to make the case for social media to an audience that is particularly resistent. His conclusion:
Social business platforms are good for the individual. They make their job easier while giving them a way to shape their reputation and access opportunities.
And they’re good for the firm. Good for finding waste and eliminating it. Good for finding commercial opportunities and exploiting them. Good for finding great people and giving them the best jobs.
The audience had warmed up. Heads were nodding. Eyes were shining.
“Now, let’s set up our next meeting. Let’s start changing the way you work.”
Well said, and nicely done. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cloud Computing: My Very Short List

A coworker just told me that she knew nothing about cloud and wanted recommendations on where to start. Here is my very short list of links, for those who are otherwise tech savvy, just not about cloud:

The IBM Cloud blog:

The learning path on developerWorks:

The IBM Cloud YouTube Channel:

The developerWorks Cloud Computing Central community:

See also, my articles on Planning Your Cloud Education, and the IBM Cloud Offering Decoder.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

IBM leading in application infrastructure and middleware space

I'll say again that 2011 was a good year for IBM, and especially for WebSphere.
I'm hoping that I can make it to Impact 2012!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Privacy in a Public Cloud

[This article was submitted for future publication on ThoughtsOnCloud.com]

Remember the skepticism around online shopping and e-commerce sites back in the day when the web was young? Everyone was afraid of giving out their credit card information over the Internet, for fear it would be intercepted. We eventually got over that fear, thanks to encryption technologies such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which make e-commerce much safer today. That same technology also plays a role in cloud security, and that is one thing to consider, along with other security issues when moving your application to the cloud.

Public cloud versus on-premises
You basically have the same security issues and considerations for deploying applications on the cloud as you do for running them on premises. The difference is that on cloud, some of those issues are handled by your cloud service provider. The important thing to consider is how far the cloud service provider's responsibilities extend, and where your responsibilities as the client, or virtual machine (VM) instance owner, take over.

First, thoroughly investigate your cloud service provider's policies. Treat them like any other outsourced service. Check their references. Clearly define the service level agreements (SLAs) in your contract. SLAs can cover things like backups, up time, disaster recovery, change management, and so on. Audit your cloud provider or consider third-party audits to ensure that those policies are enforced.

For example, the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise has many mechanisms in place to offer a safe and secure environment, such as:

  • Firewall and intrusion protection system (IPS) between guest VMs and the Internet
  • IP-filtering technology and multiple IP addresses per instance for enabling security zones
  • Optional virtual private network (VPN) and virtual local area network (VLAN) isolation of account instances
  • Encrypted connections: IBM is isolated from customer VMs through customer secure shell (SSH) keys and server passwords
  • Hypervisor-based (kernel-based virtual machine) isolation with client-configurable firewall rules
  • Public images patched and scanned regularly
  • Patch servers for private images
  • Root access for customers to guest virtual machines, allowing further hardening of VMs
  • No sharing of private images between accounts on the cloud
  • Access to the portal and APIs, which requires a user ID and password
Users must comply with IBM's stringent security policies, and are subject to regular security scans.

Not all cloud providers offer the same kind of protection, so do your homework!

Image — or instance — is everything
As a VM instance owner on the IBM SmartCloud, you have root access and control over that instance as if it were one of your own on premises, and you are responsible for security on the instance itself. That means that it is up to you to configure access to that resource, install and run anti-virus software on it, and so on. Treat it like any other client in your enterprise; it is just as vulnerable to threats and attack. This blog post lists several useful links to articles about securing and managing your instances.

Get started with the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise: This article describes how to securely connect to, configure the firewall of, and manage (encryption) keys for your instances. You should take care of these tasks immediately upon creating your instances. Determine who will need access to your instances, determine the firewall ports that need to be open or closed, and be prepared to use and manage keys for access.

Why key management is important
IBM SmartCloud employs encryption so you can control access to your applications and data in the cloud. However, encryption alone does not guarantee security. Keys must also be stored and managed properly.

Secure multi-user access to IBM Cloud instances with VNC and SSH: Provides a detailed description of how to configure cloud instances and clients for secure access.

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise tip: Integrate your authentication policy using a proxy: Describes how to create a proxy bridge between your homegrown applications and the IBM SmartCloud. This bridge can allow you to implement finer-grained access control that cannot be directly implemented in the IBM SmartCloud portal. In other words, you can use this technique to control not only who can access, but how, where, or when they can access data.

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise tip: Secure access for Android devices: Describes how to set up secure access to a cloud instance for Android mobile devices.

Cloud security considerations: This good general article is about high-level cloud security concepts. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it does give a very concise overview.

Extra credit
Model-driven cloud security: This article discusses the challenges of cloud application security policy automation and describes how it can be achieved through a model-driven security architecture and deployment.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cloud for “Everyman”

[This article was submitted for future publication on ThoughtsOnCloud.com]

There is a lot of discussion here about cloud for business, but what about cloud for Everyman – the average Joe – the man on the street? How will cloud computing change life for the average person? In short, cloud has already changed things significantly, and will continue to have an impact on our lives for years to come.

A cloud of sound

There are numerous applications now available for people to create, record, upload, and share music with the world. As a musician, I think this is awesome and amazing. I can share my favorite songs with my friends on social networks, and I can listen to their favorite songs – all for the price of “a song” (essentially, for free). I wonder how this has affected the music business, and how it will impact the future of the music industry? I imagine that it has provided more opportunities to musicians, and made music more accessible to a wider audience. It has been a boon to the independent artists and small record labels, but have the big record companies suffered as a result? I grew up in an era of mega-rock stars and arena tours, but those days are gone. They will be the stuff of legends that I will tell my grand kids.

A cloud of words

If you want to publish your own book or magazine, there are many options available to you, thanks to cloud. Actually, cloud has made the term self-publishing essentially meaningless. All of the publishing tools that you could possibly need are now provided on the cloud – everything from editing and production, to distribution and finding an audience. It has taken self-publishing quite a number of steps further than merely making a book. The distinction is more a matter of “corporate” publishing (the big companies) versus independent presses and smaller co-ops. For the rest of us, this means that if we have Internet connection, we can find something to read about anything. ANYTHING. The history of the Belgian lute? How to make beef jerky? Card games of the middle ages? It's all there.

A cloud of images

...and most of those images are of cats. Seriously. Do you know anyone with a cat who hasn't posted a photo of it on the Internet? But it's not just about the Internet. The Internet gives us the network to share our books and music and images with the world, but cloud gives us the tools and services that make it possible for us to create those books, songs, and images. We are not merely uploading our photos, we are editing them, collecting them into albums, turning them into videos with sound, and so on.

We will soon rely on cloud for all kinds of services. When we go shopping, the cloud will send coupons for the products we want to buy directly to our smart phone or mobile device. When we seek medical care, our diagnosis will come from the cloud. When we are traveling in a foreign country, cloud will translate for us.

How has cloud changed your world?