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2014 Cloud by the Numbers: Stats on Adoption Prove the Computing Trend is Really a Technological Revolution

Blank cloud shaped speech bubbles Last year, statistics rolled in from numerous sources that all revealed the same basic fact: cloud computing has changed the technological landscape. The technological method, partially because of its catchy title, is viewed by many as a trend. However, its growth has become so explosive that the field is now beyond the bounds of trendiness. It’s really become a computing revolution. Ellen Messmer of Network World remarked that trust was still an issue for some companies that were concerned about privacy and security, but that companies from all economic sectors were “starting to give it a try.” How the cloud is used by businesses According to Gartner, use of the environment by businesses in 2013 was across a broad spectrum. Almost half of it – 48% – fell into the general category of advertising platforms. The other top-three most common uses in the business world were for BPaaS (business process as a service, a form of business process outsourcing) – 28% – and SaaS (software as a service) – 15%. Less popular forms of the technology included IaaS (infrastructure as a service) – 5%; automation, security, or management – 3%; and PaaS (platform as a service) or application development – 1%. The solution is typically discussed in terms of software, platforms, and infrastructure. Obviously each of those are listed above. However, it is used extensively for marketing purposes that lie outside the structure of the IT department. Once that aspect is set aside and the approach is examined specifically within an IT framework, BPaaS stands out. The infrastructural environment’s use for both business processes and software indicate, says David Linthicum of InfoWorld, that its success is expressed more in terms of “tangible activities for business users” than by the more overarching, systemic offerings provided by infrastructural or platform services. Growth of the cloud In 2013, GigaOM Research and North Bridge Venture Partners conducted a study in collaboration with almost 5 dozen businesses. Their survey gathered information from hosting providers and business executives to determine the technology’s growth rate and the factors promoting and preventing its adoption. The survey found that between 2012 and 2013, the percentage of businesses using the method in some form rose 8%, reaching a total of 75% adoption. These figures align with projections established by GigaOM that show the solution’s global market expanding to $159 billion this year, the result of 127% growth from its 2011 level. Major factors leading businesses to the approach include scalability and reliability. However, the most popular factor for adoption of the environment is expense: 7 out of 10 GigaOM/North Bridge survey respondents, including the pools of IT and general business executives, believe that a transition to the IT system would provide an equivalent or improved total cost of ownership (TCO). Government benefiting from cloud just as business world is Just as industry is benefiting from the model, so is the public sector, according to a couple of case studies reported in StateTech Magazine:
  1. Somerset County in Maine increased energy efficiency with the new strategy, cutting its IT costs by 40%.
  2. The Southeast Library System, which provides computing services to over 7 dozen libraries in Minnesota, reduced its expenses over $20,000 by transitioning to an email platform based on the approach.
StateTech’s Jimmy Daly notes that the solution has been on the rise in government because it has experienced such massive success among consumers: personal acceptance by employees has led to organizational acceptance by governmental entities. Daly also indicates that the adjustments in attitude are backed up by hard facts about how dominant it has become as an emergent technology:
  • InformationWeek predicts that the total services provided through the method  will represent a worldwide market of $180B by 2016;
  • Business Insider revealed in 2012 that even at that point, 4 out of 5 state and local governmental CIOs were using some form of services reliant on the technology for their organizations;
Also per Business Insider, 3 out of 5 CIOs of state and local governmental systems listed the transition to the new IT system as their #1 priority in 2012. It would appear, based on the strong growth of the strategy in both the public and private spheres in 2013, that prioritization became action the following year. International reach of the cloud model The adoption of the method is an IT phenomenon that extends around the globe. Its impact is not surprising in the Information Age, indicating how – in many ways – the Web has democratized technology, spreading similar standards and practices across the planet. For instance, by 2016, the system will represent the majority of new IT expenditures in India, says a Gartner study on the subject. The report indicates that 2016 will be the true game-changer year for the solution – diverging from Linthicum’s assessment that 2013 represented the peak of the approach, at least regarding the Indian market – because hybrid versions will start to become commonplace within enterprises that year. The study suggests that by 2018, almost half of India’s companies will have a hybrid environment in place. Indian Businesses, much like those in other countries, have had security-related concerns regarding the strategy due to its virtual, non-physical structure. Although companies have generally been concerned about the inability to physically locate virtual machines, making protection methods necessarily more sophisticated, Gartner notes that another major challenge for adoption of the model has been confusion. According to the research company, the concept of the new method has been defined in numerous ways, some of which have conflicted. Gartner research VP Chris Howard stated in October 2013 that people and businesses have misunderstood the technology as a single system, when it is actually “a spectrum of things complementing one another and building on a foundation of sharing.” Howard further elaborated that the diversity of elements that comprise the approach’s techniques, in combination with some companies’ desires to isolate services, have generated three distinct types of hosting that makes use of the strategy: public (the standard model), private (a standalone structure for one business), and hybrid (a mixture). It’s clear from the above statistics that this form of computing has generated an IT revolution. The strategy is being adopted quickly. Its rise to prominence is evident in both the private and public sectors, in the United States and across the globe. Its widespread acceptance has created markets for three distinct categories of the system: public, private, and hybrid.

Cloud Workouts: Best Fitness Apps for iPhone & Android

Taking a break Much of what’s covered in our blog has to do with cloud hosting and the culture developing around it. We’ve explored the effect the strategy has had on medical research. We’ve also looked at how the IT approach is used in education. The Internet of Things, also known as Web 3.0, is a subject we’ve assessed in numerous articles as well. Since mobile apps are standardly stored and accessed through the cloud – both for cost and the functionality allowed by the its speed – we’ll highlight some of those programs too. Software running on our handheld devices isn’t just changing the way we approach our lives. In some cases, they’re making us healthier. Just as cloud-based medical research makes an impact on health by leading the way to cures for diseases, fitness applications help people structure their workouts and monitor their physical development. We hope this list comes just at the right time since it’s now a couple months past January 1st. Many people make New Year’s Resolutions – fully half of Americans, for example – but most of us are unsuccessful at keeping them.  In fact, according to psychologist Richard Wiseman, only 1 in 10 of us succeeds long-term. Since “getting in shape” is one of the most common resolutions, these apps can get those back on track who are backsliding after starting 2014 with a fitness commitment. Below are a total of 20 applications, 10 for Android and 10 for iPhone, that can help you with your fitness goals. Top 10 fitness apps for Android The website Heavy covered the top 10 fitness programs for Android in 2013. They are as follows:
  1. Runtastic Pedometer – Doctors recommend that each of us take at least 10,000 steps every single day, and many of us don’t always hit that limit. That’s the basic idea behind this pedometer environment. Keep in mind, it’ll only work if you have the phone on you at all times: that’s the only way it can track your steps.
  2. Calories Counter – MyFitnessPal – There are various calorie-counting systems out there, but this one is especially complex and uses our natural social needs for motivation. Calories Counter integrates with the My Fitness Pal website and its community message boards.
  3. Endomondo Sports Tracker PRO – This tool gets really great ratings for exercises related to logging distance – biking, running, etc.. You have access to various stats and diagrams, such as your heart rate and how fast you’re going.
  4. Lose It! – Obviously you want to both be concerned about the calories that are coming in and the extent to which you’re burning them. Lose It serves as a general fitness aid by focusing on diet and exercise. You can also participate in challenges with other users.
  5. Instant Heart Rate – Azumio – This application makes it simple to know your heart rate at any time. Just put your finger on the camera of your mobile device for 10 seconds, and it’ll be able to let you know your pulse.
  6. Nike+ Running – This app gives you all your running details, such as your speed and how far you’ve gone on an established route. You can even set it up to feed pep talks from friends through the system as you run.
  7. RunKeeper – GPS Track Run Walk – Utilize GPS to gauge your progress in real time. Drawing on your speed and distance data, it then ties to caloric output, letting you know if your workouts are adequately accounting for any heavy meals.
  8. MapMyRun GPS – This tool helps you generally organize and monitor your physical activity. Its sophisticated searchability makes it especially helpful: you can search workouts by type of activity, mileage, and other variables.
  9. Zombies, Run! – This choice is nothing like the other options. It’s more like a video game. As you exercise, a plot develops. If a zombie is after you, you are urged to run faster. You can also collect items to help you survive down the road.
  10. WebMD for Android – There’s nothing like visiting a doctor, but if you want a quick sense of what might be ailing you, this program has a Symptom Checker, organized by body part or system.
Top 10 fitness apps for iPhone Just as Heavy covered Android workout and health applications last year, Active.com compiled a similar list of iPhone programs as well. Here they are:
  1. Zombies, Run! – This solution is also available for iPhone, and due to its creativity, it’s easy to see why it would be selected for both lists. Plus, novelist Naomi Alderman helped develop its storyline.
  2. Couch-to-5K App – Well, this selection is a little biased. The creator is Active.com, so it’s understandable that it’d make their “best of” list. However, Couch-to-5K is legitimately interesting due to its laser-focus, working toward a 5K race.
  3. Obstacles XRT – Extreme Reality Training – This entry offers a highly outside-the-box environment, reminiscent of the zombies app. Break free from quicksand, make it beyond fences, and get to your destination.
  4. Kettlebell Training: The Basics – Robert Budd, an expert at the kettlebells, takes users step-by-step through a series of almost 2 dozen exercises.
  5. See Me Get Fit – Make use of an interesting, almost too-obvious approach to motivate you: selfies. You can watch yourself get in shape over time.
  6. BMI Calculator – Not everyone agrees this tool’s calculations should be trusted, but it’s worth a try. It gives you your body mass index (BMI) so can have a sense of how much fat you have in relation to total weight.
  7. Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker – Crash dieting can be a huge and dangerous mistake. However, if you want to get rid of some extra pounds quickly, this app can help you with its massive dietary database and almost 400 exercises.
  8. P90X – This choice really excels in the area of interactivity, both with other users and with a complex virtual environment. Interactivity can in turn be great for goal-setting and continually raising the bar.
  9. Pocket Yoga – Convenience is critical to keep your fitness level improving. Pocket Yoga helps you keep your practice going even when you’re travelling.
  10. Abs Workout –  Like the 5K program, this one is all about specificity. Over the course of 4 weeks, you strengthen and tone your abs. It is straightforward, directing you down a narrow, disciplined path.
Mobile apps are one of the greatest assets of our technological landscape. Fitness programs are especially beneficial because so many of us resolve each year to get into shape. Cloud virtual private servers (VPS’s) provide fast, scalable, and reliable platforms to deliver these valuable environments.  

The Cloud and Web 3.0: The Third Generation of Connected Computing Has Arrived

web 3.0 icons If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least two or three times: computers involve too much manual labor. All this clicking of buttons and pushing the mouse around and plugging in physical objects with physical cords, it’s just absolutely exhausting. In fact, my doctor says it’s why I have chronic left-hand pointer-finger fatigue. I am elated to see the new developments on the horizon that could be the cure for my dysfunctional dexterity disorder (DDD): Web 3.0. We’ve covered some of the same ground here in previous posts, but it is fascinating territory, and it doesn’t hurt to further prepare ourselves for this overhaul of the relationship between the physical and the virtual. How Web 3.0 will change the world Some folks wonder when this environment is going to arrive, like a ragtag Internet commission (possibly composed of Al Gore, Tila Tequila, Stephen Hawking, and Hulk Hugan) is going to make an announcement one day that it’s here. The fact is, the third phase of the web is actually a grand transition that is connecting the physical and virtual worlds “at the hip” (the physical and virtual hips, both of which are wildly attractive). As Thoughts on Cloud suggests, it would be nice to be able to find a car key through a mobile app based in the cloud. Really, it would be nice to be able to find everything we own by clicking a button on our cell phones (regardless of the threat it poses for DDD sufferers). Our refrigerators could sense what items are running low and let us know what we need to get at the grocery store, in real-time, as we walk down the aisles. Our cars could let us know through the cloud when oil changes or tuneups are needed. All those scenarios are possible in the Internet of Things (IoT) – also known as Web 3.0. Smart phones are light-years smarter than their predecessors, and they are getting more intelligent all the time. The two primary reasons that’s the case are faster processing speeds and greater interconnection. Regarding faster processing speeds, nothing is capable of the fast and reliable performance that cloud computing offers. In fact, medical researchers have realized that the IT strategy outpaces the supercomputers that used to be the standard for handling massive scientific research data sets. Regarding greater interconnection, the fact that we’re racing toward a self-driving car – and that, in fact, one is already available on the market – should tell us how dedicated businesses are to apply new technologies to the world around us. The Internet of Things is a major, major development not just for our business and personal lives but in the unfolding history of humankind. We are building machines that replicate the real, tangible universe. It’s a mechanization, in a way, of the sixth sense. Telekinesis? You may not be able to move that object with your mind, but this device can with its artificial mind. Psychic perception? You may not be able to know immediately what’s going on across the world, but this computer can with its access to more locations, objects, and living things all the time – with high-powered algorithms and databases to understand them. We may well be able to put just about anything online. That which is not identified on the Internet could start to seem, over time, like artifacts of a quaint past. The digital world and the physical world will start to share the same space. Conceptually and philosophically, this technological transition is mind-boggling. The ramifications for security are massive – think what a hacker could do to a car traveling full-speed on the interstate. Privacy is also a major and compelling concern. But the momentum of the Internet of Things is unstoppable, revolutionizing the world in amazing ways. It’s an exciting time to be alive. Web 3.0: history & benefits As occurs when any new and game-changing technology that alters our way of life hits the market, we basically have three options, all of which are completely reasonable:
  1. run for the hills (or the mountains, if you live in the hills);
  2. stick your head in the sand (or in the dirt, if you can dig a big enough hole);
  3. get excited about the possibilities and see what it has to offer.
Here’s the skinny on the Internet of Things, with various pointers from CloudTimes. Internet of Things proposal Web 3.0 is a term meant to understand the web’s expansion into greater “real world” scenarios within the context of web history. In contrast, the Internet of Things is a popular buzzword these days among individuals and businesses: it captures our attention, even though most of us don’t think a huge amount about what it entails. The idea of interconnecting all the objects in the world – or as many as possible – was suggested in 1999. The idea then was to use an interconnected system of barcodes and RFID (radio frequency identification, as used in retail stores). Only in the last few years, though, has the idea really taken form in the public consciousness. Technologies such as global positioning systems (GPS), Wireless Fidelity (WiFi), and near field communication (NFC) have opened our eyes to the possibilities of this approach. If you don’t recognize NFC, it’s the technology that allows cell phones to establish radio communication with one another when placed in close proximity. Benefits of the Internet of Things The benefits of this movement will prove vast as they build exponentially, but several specific examples we already experience include the following:
  • watches and clocks that change in real-time to recognize adjustments in daylight savings time or time zone;
  • HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) systems that respond to changes in the local weather; and
  • recovery of stolen computers and cell phones by continued communication between the cloud and the device.
From a business and economic standpoint, further connecting the web to the world could also be highly profitable. Getting in “before the curve” with apps that integrate with this computing trend will likely make many of us millionaires (that’s right – $1 million!). Web 3.0 represents the dawn of a new age in which we can utilize the Internet to make our daily lives and businesses run more smoothly. In development since 1999, the possibilities revealed by this computing revolution are virtually endless. Cloud services allow companies to easily take advantage of opportunities as this new landscape unfolds.  

Gamification & the Cloud – 3 Tips & 2 Examples

gamification for business

Question: “Would you like to turn your business into a game?” I think the resounding answer, from everyone, is, “Absolutely – when can you make it happen?” Bosses like gamification because it engages consumers and employees. Consumers and employees like the concept because it makes online platforms much more interactive and, well, awesome – that is, if it is done correctly. According to Adam Holtby of business and technology analysis group Ovum, gamification is defined as “the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts.” It may be a buzzword, but it is also becoming a major trend throughout a wide variety of sectors. Like many tech concepts, this strategy is surrounded by some degree of confusion. Two notable places in which it has been linked to game theory are on Dell’s Tech Page One and on GreenBiz. Barry Hughes of Game Theory Strategies says that is a misunderstanding – game theory is an economic model, and it is not the source behind the IT movement. It appears that the word “theory” was added somewhere along the way to couch the trend in scientific authority, when really all the approach involves is making computer applications more game-like. Despite difficulty understanding exactly what this idea is and what terms make sense, using the cloud to gamify has become increasingly popular, per Dell. In 2011, Gartner roughly predicted that “over 70 percent” of organizations in the Forbes Global 2000 would have an application utilizing this model in place by 2014. Similarly, M2 Research has estimated that by 2018, the general industry will reach $5.5 billion. Keep in mind, this concept is still unsure ground. It was at its peak last year in Gartner’s Hype Cycle, which suggested it would plateau as a field – allowing easier implementation for businesses – in 5 to 10 years. Well, that’s fine to wait 5 or 10 years for those of us who don’t want to be ahead of the curve, but clearly there seems to be an opportunity for competitive advantage now. Gamification as a challenge & role of the cloud Games seek to engage the competitive and strategic side of consumers and employees – and the side that appreciates immediate goals and strong visuals – to improve morale, increase productivity, and drive sales.The principles of this model are simple, but turning something that’s not a game into something that feels and reacts like one is complex: it uses motivational tactics that can feel offputting if not framed correctly. The reason cloud hosting is so integrated with this strategy is that it enables the performance and reliability necessary to process the data at a user-friendly pace. Using distributed virtualization for gamified applications allows businesses a cost-effective way to achieve their core business interests. 3 gamification tips Speaking of business interests, it’s wise to look at that factor alongside other top considerations that can determine the success of the approach for any business, as outlined by Ovum’s Holtby:
  1. It must have an obvious and defined business benefit – Sure, it’s great to engage customers, increase productivity, and manage employee interaction within a user-friendly and interactive system. However, the benefit to your business must be obviously and clearly described, so that management is onboard. Create a strategic plan, spelling out the general business objectives.
  2. Think outside the PBL – Points, badges, and leader boards, a.k.a. PBL’s, represent typical scoring mechanisms of this concept’s environments (measurable parameters to drive competition and overall effectiveness). However, don’t mistake the forest for the trees: PBL’s are not what it’s all about. Like any user content, PBL’s are optimized “only when used correctly and tied to a more intrinsically meaningful value system.” In order to determine what those bigger-picture values are, you need to think about what desires drive people. Status? Praise? Achievement? User desires should be met by the environment.
  3. Utilize the big data generated by the application – Clearly engagement can be improved with games: plenty of case studies prove that, and it also seems to make objective sense because they tend to be fun. They also give us large pools of data (on such parameters as reputation and skill) about individuals internal and external to our companies.
2 gamification examples – one successful, one not The below two examples from CIO.com give us a sense of how this strategy can go right or wrong (though note that these case studies are both specific to employee scenarios):
  1. Target – We all have heard the bad news from the Target checkout line, but the good news is that Target has come up with an innovative technique for its cashiers. The time a given cashier takes to scan each item is measured against a set standard. If the standard is met, the cashier appears in green; if not, they appear in red. Frankly, this solution sounds like it could be both motivating and irritating (what if you are “red” because you stopped to answer a customer question, for instance?). It illustrates the fine line that must be walked in this arena. However, the results are in: Target’s system is a win.
  2. Omnicare – This organization creates software for pharmacy administration, essentially serving as a third-party helpdesk. Omnicare felt its employees were great in the area of expertise but that the average interaction was too long. To create a more efficient workplace, Omnicare put a leaderboard in place and started giving monetary prizes to the speediest reps. Again, it’s easy to see here how quality of service can take a hit with this model, a lesson to ensure you don’t prioritize speed at all costs. In fact, Omnicare’s model had to be modified because it was a disaster. The revised model used “non-cash incentives” and provided more open-ended goals, such as helping 3 customers on a particular day with billing-related issues.
Gamification is being used increasingly by businesses to engage both customers and their own workforces. The cloud provides the speed and agility necessary to successfully implement applications that optimize play and competition in real time. An organized and creative plan at the outset is paramount, as is learning from the successes and failures of other companies.