Google Drive: Finally coming this April

Google’s online storage service, rumored to be called GDrive is like the wolf in the fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Well, after long history of false alarms, the storage drive might just see the day in early April, according to my well placed sources familiar with company’s plans. I say might, just because of Google’s history with the Google Drive.

The rumors of Google’s Gdrive first emerged in 2006 and then in 2007 via The Wall Street Journal. Nothing came of those rumors. Two years later, same story, and one more time, nothing came to fruition. In 2010, Google announced that it would allow you to upload documents and files to Google Docs. In February 2012, the rumors started again with another report from The Wall Street Journal.

However, if all goes to plan, this time we might see it for real. I am told the big day is sometime during the first week of April 2012. Google, of course is not talking. A spokesperson sent me the boilerplate — we don’t comment on rumors or speculation.

According to the details from my sources, Google is going to offer 1 Gb of storage space for free, but will charge for more storage. The market leader Dropbox currently offers 2 Gb for free. Google’s product will come with a local client and the web interface will look much like the Google Docs interface. Interestingly, it will launch for Google Apps customers and will be domain specific as well. Google has also built an API for third party apps with this service so folks can store content from other apps in the Google drive. My sources are impressed, so far with what they have seen.

I have watched Google and have been amazed by its inability to launch a cloud storage offering. When I wrote about it earlier this year, many readers weighed in with  smart comments that are worth reading.

How Google competes with Microsoft in cloud

Google's cloud portfolio has come a long way from simply provisioning Google Docs, essentially a cheaper online alternative to competing productivity suites like Microsoft Office and OpenOffice, to offering a fairly robust platform for integrated software development, as done with Google App Engine and the Google Apps Marketplace.
However, Google has not yet proposed any infrastructure-based service, such as what Microsoft has done with its Azure VM Role and Hyper-V private cloud solution, or even something less proprietary, such as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud. So far, Google's strategy seems to be focused elsewhere, as they look toward a different segment of the enterprise cloud market--the SaaS one.
With Microsoft's concurrent advances with both private and public cloud technologies, it seems as if they intend to slowly move their existing clientele over to the public end of the equation.
In other words, one day, everything will run entirely on Windows Azure. A typical scenario for an enterprise would be to build their infrastructure in a private cloud, or with Hyper-V, and once it has reached an acceptable level of sustainability, move it to Windows Azure. There, the enterprise can begin to take advantage of a compute-based cost model, as well as an application platform, such as with services like the Azure Web Role and SQL Azure. Google, initially being a search engine and display advertising company, has come into the game late and doesn't have the familiarity and know-how with software that Microsoft has built up with users over the years.
There is no Google server, no Google database, and no business intelligence product, and to a certain extent, no full-fledged productivity/office/collaboration suite that matches the capabilities of Microsoft Office and SharePoint. Yes, there's Google Apps, which now includes the likes of Gmail, with a number of contact management features. And yes, there's the Apps Marketplace, which includes a whole slew of tools that can sync up and extend the capabilities of Google Docs. But these are all rather new revelations. And I suppose this is why Google has pushed Chrome as a hardware independent alternative to your typical operating system, with the ability to install and use applications with little-to-no infrastructure needed outside of an Internet connection.
Chrome, and even the Chromebook, might prove to be a viable strategy for Google, in the face of the cloud enterprise. It can allow for relatively seamless adoption across a company of users, most of which only need a relatively limited set of capabilities when it comes to word processing, spreadsheets, email and contact management. The per person cost of such an implementation could produce astronomical cost savings as a replacement for licensed on-premise software, as well as immediately reduce the cost of hardware, with the Chromebook. Furthermore, with Google Docs open XML formats, and with third-party companies like Salesforce offering integration with their own platforms, Chrome lays the groundwork for staging organizations in the cloud.
Microsoft had a fairly sizable head start on Google in terms of migration. However, Google has now provided the means for a different looking cloud. Largely, it seems as if Google's strategy going forward is to become a purveyor of SaaS applications, to fill in the gap between productivity software like Google Docs, and ERP software, like Microsoft Dynamics. The Google Apps Marketplace might cut it for now, but this is something Google needs to consider, perhaps through a major acquisition down the road. Also, Google Apps itself has yet to prove itself a worthwhile option to office staples like MS Word, and Excel -- something I'll be exploring in my posts on Google and how it fits into the enterprise cloud to come.
Ian is a manager of business intelligence/analytics for a small cap NYSE traded energy company. He also freelance writes about business and technology, as well as consults SMBs upon Internet marketing strategy.

Bill Gates' $160 Billion Nightmare: The Cloud That's Raining on Microsoft's Parade

The Motley Fool Bill GatesBy Austin Edwards, The Motley Fool

What terrifies a man as smart and successful as Bill Gates? Just two words, it turns out.

Some say these two words keep him up at night. Others claim they are the real reason for his early retirement. Still others assert that the concept behind these words is a bigger threat to Microsoft (MSFT) than Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), and Facebook combined.

The two words that upended Bill Gates' world? "Cloud computing."

It Begins on Oct. 30, 2005 in Redmond ...

Bill Gates knew the world he created was in danger of being upended, and on a gray autumn afternoon he sent an urgent memo to his top engineers and most trusted managers.

It sounded the alarm that a disruptive "wave" was about to wash over the entire world, forever changing the way we get information and do business. It also warned that this could wipe out the $300 billion empire he'd spent his life building.

It was happening a few hundred miles south, on the banks of the Columbia River. A mysterious outfit known only as "Design, LLC" constructed two massive, windowless warehouses -- which the International Herald Tribune described as "looming like an information-age nuclear plant."

Inside those monoliths, the "wave" Bill Gates feared was being built under the code name "Project 2."

Today, "Project 2" -- or "cloud computing" -- is a $160 billion tsunami. And experts say it will capsize a $1 trillion industry.

Same Story, Different Century

For an eerily similar tale, step into the time machine. On Feb. 28, 1881, a British stenographer named Samuel Insull arrived in the port of New York, hired by Thomas Edison's chief engineer to serve as Edison's private secretary.

Insull knew the model Edison had created was flawed. He got his chance to unleash his "wave" -- to change the trajectory of the electricity industry -- when, after overseeing the merger that created General Electric, he was offered the presidency of the Chicago Edison Company.

At the time, cities like Chicago had dozens of small, privately owned power stations transmitting direct-current electricity to nearby neighborhoods. Insull envisioned a centralized serving center -- akin to today's "cloud" -- that would do away with the inefficiencies of the one-station, one-neighborhood model.

Little did anyone know that the world of electricity was about to change drastically.

How to One-Up Thomas Edison

Insull's vision was to create a "utility" by building giant central power stations that would transmit alternating-current electricity over great distances. These power stations could be linked to form a giant grid that would serve homes, businesses, and industries in even the most remote locations.

Because these utilities could match supply with demand, realize economies of scale, and use their capacity more efficiently, they could deliver electricity at a fraction of the cost.

He was right on the money: By 1907, utilities produced 40% of the power in the U.S. In 1920, that number stood at 70%, and a decade later, it was over 90%. And what was once unimaginable suddenly became reality.

Mr. Insull Goes to Silicon Valley

Insull transformed Edison's legacy into something greater and more efficient than its creator had imagined. Today's visionaries are doing the same.

Remember when computers took up entire rooms and were used for mathematical calculations? Then Intel (INTC) unveiled the microprocessor, and a geeky college dropout started writing software with his former high school pal. PCs replaced the mainframe. Companies began building interoffice networks for employees to run programs like Microsoft Office and access files or printers from a central server.

But, like Edison's, Bill Gates' model was far from perfect.

PC networks were inefficient. Every time a company needed a new application, it had to expand its data centers, reprogram old systems, and hire technicians.

As a result, global IT spending jumped from under $100 billion a year in the 1970s to over $1 trillion by the turn of this century. IT consulting firm IDC reports that every dollar a company spends on a Microsoft product forces $8 more of IT expenses.

Expensive and inefficient -- just like Chicago's unlinked power stations.

Enter the Cloud

It was only a handful of years ago that access to new programs required that you buy and install all-new software. Today we look up restaurants on Google (GOOG), find directions on MapQuest, watch videos on YouTube, and sell furniture on Craigslist -- and all we need is an Internet connection. Now none of that content is even stored on your computer.

Thanks to the thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable laid during the 1990s, the speed of computer networks caught up with the speed of the computer processors. Computers that were once isolated are now linked in a giant network, or "cloud."

Like electricity, cloud computing isn't just a modern convenience -- it's becoming an enormous industry. Everyone from individuals to multinational corporations can now simply tap into the "cloud" to get all the things they used to have to supply and maintain themselves.

As a result, computing is fast becoming a utility in much the same way that electricity did. And most of us don't give any of it a second thought -- just like you don't think twice about where the electricity is coming from when you plug an appliance into the wall.

This shift will save some major companies millions -- and will make smart investors billions. Three companies in particular are on the forefront of this massive shift. (Click here for an in-depth presentation about these companies and the explosive new industry.)

As IT expert Nicholas Carr explains, "What the fiber-optic Internet does for computing is exactly what the alternating-current network did for electricity." Even Bill Gates now admits that "the next sea change is upon us."

Motley Fool contributor Austin Edwards owns shares of Apple and Google. For more on the three companies Motley Fool stock analysts say are leading the charge in the post-Microsoft world, see our free in-depth video report. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel, Google, Microsoft,, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel, Google, Apple,, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft and Apple.

Cisco Buys NDS for $5 Billion

Guess this means Cisco won’t be selling its Atlantic-Scientific set-top box unit

By: Maureen O'Gara

Believing that the Internet is going to turn into one big cloud-ified television set, Cisco said Thursday that it's going to buy England's NDS Group for roughly $5 billion.
It's Cisco biggest acquisition since it bought Tandberg, the video conferencing outfit, back in 2009 for $3.4 billion, and it's meant to compensate for the lagging growth it's seeing in its core networks business.
According to a canned statement ascribed to Cisco CEO John Chambers "Our strategy has always been driven by customer need and on capturing market transitions. Our acquisition of NDS fits squarely into this strategy enabling content and service providers to deliver new video solutions that leverage the cloud and drive new monetization opportunities and service differentiation."

NDS sells content streaming and protection software to service providers and media companies so they can deliver and monetize video entertainment. Subscribers can view, search and navigate digital content anytime, anywhere and on any device or devices.
NDS has pushed into India and China, which suits Cisco to a "T."
The acquisition is supposed to complement Cisco's like-minded Videoscape streaming platform and broaden its opportunities in the SP market.
Cisco will pay $4 billion for the company, which was taken private in 2008 by News Corp and Permira, a London-based private equity group. It'll spend another billion assuming its debt and paying retention-based incentives. The deal is expected to close during the second half and be accretive on a non-GAAP basis in its first full year.
Guess this means Cisco won't be selling its Atlantic-Scientific set-top box business as speculated.
The NDS widgetry works with set-top boxes, DVRs, PCs and mobile devices.
Over 90 of the world's pay-TV platforms rely on its stuff including British Sky Broadcasting, Canal Plus and DirecTV. Its middleware is on 214 million devices, its DRM in 125 million pay-TV households and its DVR technology on 47 million devices. Evidently NDS contracts generally run for a nice stable five years.
The operation with its 5,000 employees will become part of Cisco's Service Provider Video Technology Group (SPVTG) under general manager Jesper Andersen and NDS executive chairman Abe Peled will be chief strategist of Cisco's Video & Collaboration Group. SPVTG is part of that group. Peled will report to Marthin De Beer, head of the Video and Collaboration Group.

Study predicts cloud computing could replace PCs by 2014

Study predicts cloud computing could replace PCs by 2014

Demand High for Cloud Computing Specialists

Cloud computing skills are most frequently advertised for jobs located in the San Jose metropolitan area.

More than 5,000 cloud computing job ads were posted online in the United States in February, according to Wanted Analytics, a specialist in real-time business intelligence for the talent marketplace. Hiring demand for cloud skills has grown drastically, up 92 percent versus February 2011 and 400 percent compared to the same time in 2010. With the demand for cloud skills growing so quickly, the gap between hiring demand and talent supply across the United States is getting larger and causing more difficulties in sourcing candidates, the report indicated.

Software engineers, systems engineers, and network administrators are the technology occupations most commonly required to have cloud computing skills. More than 3,400 of the ads during February were for tech talent, growing 99 percent year-over-year. Although cloud knowledge is most commonly required of computer specialists, technology jobs only account for two-thirds of cloud computing hiring demand during February. Other fields that increasingly require this experience include marketing managers, sales managers, management analysts, and financial analysts.

Cloud computing skills are most frequently advertised for jobs located in the San Jose metropolitan area. During February, more than 900 job ads in San Jose included requirements for cloud computing, growing 144 percent over the past year. Other metro areas with high demand for cloud skills were Seattle, Washington (DC), San Francisco, and New York. While employers in San Jose placed the highest number of job ads for this talent pool, the highest year-over-year growth was seen nearby in San Francisco at more than 150 percent.

Although hiring demand continues, the talent pool remains limited and companies sourcing for cloud computing jobs are likely to find them difficult-to-fill. According to the company s Hiring Scale, recruiters in San Francisco are experiencing some of the most challenging conditions when recruiting candidates with this skill set. With the volume of job ads more than doubling in the past year, hiring demand outpaces the local talent pool of qualified candidates.

Employers in San Francisco are likely to compete heavily to attract potential candidates and experience a longer time-to-fill than other areas across the United States. The report found recruiters in this area keep job ads online for an average of 8 weeks. In comparison, the Hiring Scale also shows that the best markets for recruiting these skills are Tucson, Arizona, Madison, Wisconsin, and Charlottesville, Virginia. Lower hiring demand compared to the talent supply in these areas mean that recruiters are likely to fill job openings in as few as 5.5 weeks, faster than the national average, research showed.

Virtualization’s Limits, and Optimal Use in the Cloud

Eric Johnson
Knowing virtualization's limits and applying them to virtual machines -- as well as virtual networks -- can help optimize.
Virtualization has been increasingly used for leveraging underutilized compute resources, but there are questions about whether we are trying to use virtual machines (VMs) in situations for which they were not intended. Virtual computing has a much longer history than most imagine. Like many technological approaches that have been repurposed over time (Tag Switching/Multiprotocol Label Switching, or MPLS, comes to mind), virtual computing initially had a different value proposition, enabling legacy applications to execute on modern systems.
Today as we use VMs more extensively we tend to gloss over the fact that from a systems engineering perspective, regardless of how much we abstract the virtual from the physical we are still left with physical system constraints. In cloud computing architectures one of the key factors that will distinguish between successful — even viable — cloud computing architectures and those that are unsuccessful or unreliable, will be the degree to which these virtualization implementations map to the physical world.
For example, we can mount dozens of virtual machines on a system, but we will be gated by the physical channel within the physical host. These physical resources can starve long before some system resources such as CPU reach saturation. Even before that point, applications executing on the host may receive sub-optimal service. The same holds true for virtual switches. They are really just a logical forwarding element, essentially a shared adapter. That distinction segues to network virtualization.
In the case of network virtualization, many are using this term in a manner analogous to server virtualization, and in doing so they misuse the concept. Virtualization enables single resources to look and feel like many resources and conversely many resources to look and feel like a single resource; the network virtualization being discussed simply doesn’t natively accomplish that, and to expect that behavior natively only invites disappointment. Compute virtualization natively leverages unused resources in a contained system, and is a significant tool when used properly, as in with regard to physical constraints.
Network virtualization occurs in a system of systems. It has been commonly codified as the re-location of control plane logic from that which has been implemented by the vendor of a switch, to a control plane managed remotely using a customer’s implementation of control plane logic. Based upon this, most believe that the establishment of multiple control planes is adequate to “virtualize” the network.
Yet this methodology by itself is inadequate to utilize unused network resources. Greater global knowledge, higher layer knowledge, and more dynamic affirmative capabilities than exist by simply abstracting multiple control planes from the data plane are required for network virtualization to natively use underutilized network resources and to be more analogous to compute virtualization.
Positioned properly, both compute and network virtualizations are incredibly powerful tools to architect and build unified data centers and networks we all want and need. However, in current widely discussed network virtualization approaches, the inability to provide affirmative measures of service delivery simply means until we do so, these abstractions will be of greater academic value and less value add for production environments.
Photo: dcmorton/Flickr
Eric Johnson is Chairman and CEO of ADARA Networks. He is a subject matter expert, and speaker on advanced technology, networking, security, cloud computing and architecture, and he is an adviser to Congress and the Department of Defense.

Cloud industry to employ millions in India: study

Cloud computing is expected to create over two million jobs by 2015 in India, which is 15 percent of total jobs created by cloud computing across the world followed by manufacturing and banking sector.

The study by International Data Centre (IDC) commissioned by Microsoft said more than two million jobs each will be generated in the “communications and media” and manufacturing sectors, followed by banking at over 1.4 million. Pointing to the strong linkage between cloud, innovation and entrepreneurship, the study estimates that revenues from cloud innovation could reach US$1.1 trillion per year by 2015.

Combined with cloud efficiencies, this will drive significant organizational reinvestment and job growth.

Cloud computing is already changing how IT delivers economic value to countries, cities, industries, and businesses. The IDC estimates that in 2011 alone, IT cloud services helped businesses around the world generate more than US$600 billion in revenue and 1.5 million new jobs.

The study also indicates that countries investing in key cloud infrastructure will experience greater job growth. The factors determining the number of jobs that might be created in a particular country include projected level of spending on IT, degree of automation, workforce size among others.

“For most organizations, cloud computing is a no-brainer when considering it enables massive return on investment and flexibility,” said John F Gantz, chief research officer and senior vice president at IDC.