Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cloud computing Vs Virtualization: Differences and Similarity

Virtualization and Cloud computing are been rapidly embracing the internet techies.With the rapid growth of these technologies, innovative trends captured the whole Home and Business computing platforms.Let us walk through what these technologies aims for and current underlying platforms in web that backs up these ideas.

For new to these technological terms simply speaking “Cloud computing is a technology that uses the internet and central remote servers to maintain data and applications. Cloud computing allows consumers and businesses to use applications without installation and access their personal files at any computer with internet access. This technology allows for much more efficient computing by centralizing storage, memory, processing and bandwidth”.A simple example of cloud computing is Yahoo email or Gmail etc. You dont need a software or a server to use them. All a consumer would need is just an internet connection and you can start sending emails. The server and email management software is all on the cloud ( internet) and is totally managed by the cloud service provider Yahoo , Google etc. The consumer gets to use the software alone and enjoy the benefits.

Both the terms Cloud computing  and virtualization  are some way or other interrelated.The basic difference is “virtualization” happens on your own hardware and “cloud computing” happens on someone else’s hardware. At the lowest level they are the same.Virtualization and Private Cloud Computing are inter-related yet clearly different from each other. Virtualization itself can take several forms, from server virtualization, to network, desktop and storage virtualization. In each case, and importantly, virtualization abstracts the resource, i.e. Windows or Linux server, from the underlying physical hardware. The most popular products for virtualization include VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, KVM and Citrix Xen.Private Cloud Computing is the application of Cloud Computing concepts to a privately owned and operated data center(s). Thus, features such as on-demand provisioning, distributed redundant architecture, and self-service administration should be part of a Private Cloud Computing implementation. Companies such as VMware are expanding their Virtualization offerings to support buildout of a full Private Cloud.”Virtualization is simply one of the elements that makes cloud computing, so cloud computing can happen without virtualization..

Glenn Dasmalchi, technical chief of staff in the office of the CTO at Cisco, provides a summary of how cloud computing and virtualization are related, and what advantages are afforded to customers. He also touches on the network play with the cloud-virtualization linkage.

Spoon.net -pioneer in application virtualization and cloud computing technologies

Named by Virtualization Review as one of the top two companies to follow in 2011, Spoon is a pioneer in application virtualization and cloud computing technologies. Spoon enables users to launch desktop applications from the web with no install, so you can test and use applications instantly, wherever you are.Today Spoon.net has over a thousand apps available for launch from the cloud with a simple browser plugin. Imagine what’s coming next.

Spoon is a virtualization platform that lets you run desktop apps from the cloud. If you install the provided plug-in, you will be able to access these applications you love without having to worry about installing or updating them. Since everything is hosted on the cloud, that part is done for you.There is nothing to install, and no need to ensure you have the latest version or patch. As long as you have installed the Spoon plug-in, you will be able to play all the games that are included on the site.Some of the featured apps are TweetDeck, Skype, VLC Media Player, Adobe Reader, WinAmp, GOMPlayer… You can check the best of the best on the main page. And the same goes for the featured games, of course – the best titles are spotlighted for all to see.Visit Spoon.net.

Citrix XenApp-employing Virtualized Applications.
Citrix XenApp is a remote access publishing platform that allows users to connect to their business applications, available from XenApp servers located in central locations (as Data Centers). Applications can be open it in these XenApp servers, using server hardware (CPU, Memory, hard disk, etc), and images are send to user client devices, instead to the server screen. A XenApp client shows the XenApp published applications to users like a local installed application.

XenApp it is a recently name given by Citrix, renamed from Presentation Server, which was originally known it as Metaframe. Citrix renamed the product due inclusion of many features which gave it new functionalities and to create a “line” of virtualization products, which includes XenDesktop and XenServer.

According Citrix, XenApp means:
Xen = Virtualization
App = Application
XenApp = Virtualized Applications

One XenApp server can support many users, generally from 30 to 80 users, depending of the XenApp server hardware specs, application requirements to run and user usage. A set of XenApp server constitute into a Citrix XenApp Farm. A farm can have around 5000 XenApp servers, supporting thousands and thousands of users.To use Citrix XenApp, you need Windows Servers with Terminal Services capabilities and install specific Citrix XenApp client on user machines. XenApp versions have different features, going from Standard/Advanced to Platinum, with more configuration options and integrated products. XenApp client installations will depend of which operational system you will use on client computers, and can be Windows (all versions), Linux, Dos, Mac Os and others.

Example of Citrix XenApp utilization

A new user is hired in a remote site of a company and needs a computer with Microsoft Office, SAP and some legacy applications using a dedicated and limited WAN link. IT department can create his domain and email account and associate domain groups to give him access to XenApp published applications. Then, IT department can send by post a Thin Client to user with instructions about how to plug mouse and keyboard, and how to turn on the device. After turn on the Thin Client, user will asked for his domain credentials and will see a Windows XP interface (blocked to any user software installations) and with all application icons in Start Menu, ready to work.

If for some reason, a XenApp server has a problem, when opening a new application, user will be automatically redirected to other healthy XenApp servers. If user workstation (ThinClient) has a problem, the same user can input his credentials in any other company workstation and have all same interface, applications and files. And if this user is going to visit an external location, he can easily keep one eye on his XenApp applications using his mobile.

If this company decide to migrate all 10.000 users from Microsoft Office 2003 to Microsoft Office 2007, the job can be done in just few hours in a weekend. IT team needs just deploy the new Office into XenApp farm, if everybody in company it is using Citrix XenApp.This is an video from Citrix made in 2003 – which is still very relevant.

Discussion on cloud and virtualization technologies never ends since it involves diversity such as desktop virtualization , storage virtualization as well as  further applications employing these  technologies such as wine, VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Browser OS etc .

A Digital Library Better than Google?

On Tuesday, Denny Chin, a federal judge in Manhattan, rejected the settlement between Google, which aims to digitise every book ever published, and a group of authors and publishers who had sued the company for copyright infringement. This decision is a victory for the public good, preventing one firm from monopolising access to our common cultural heritage.

Nonetheless, we should not abandon Google’s dream of making all the books in the world available to everyone. Instead, we should build a digital public library, which would provide these digital copies free of charge to readers. Yes, many problems — legal, financial, technological, political — stand in the way. All can be solved.

Let’s consider the legal questions raised by the rejected settlement. Beginning in 2005, Google’s book project made the contents of millions of titles searchable online, leading the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers to claim that the snippets madeavailable to readers violated their copyrights. Google could have defended its actions as fair use, but the company chose, instead, to negotiate a deal.
The result was an extremely long and complicated document known as the Amended Settlement Agreement that simply divided up the pie. Google would sell access to its digitised database, and it would share the profits with the plaintiffs, who would now become its partners. The company would take 37%; the authors would get 63%. That solution amounted to changing copyright by means of a private lawsuit, and it gave Google legal protection that would be denied to its competitors. This was what Chin found most objectionable.

In court hearings in February 2010, several people argued that the Authors Guild, which has 8,000 members, did not represent them or the many writers who had published books during the last decades. Some said they preferred to make their works available under different conditions; some even wanted to make their work available free of charge. Yet, the settlement set terms for all authors, unless they specifically notified Google that they were opting out.

In other words, the settlement didn’t do what settlements are supposed to do, like correct an alleged infringement of copyright, or provide damages for past incidents; instead, it seemed to determine the way the digital world of books would evolve in the future.

Chin addressed that issue by concentrating on the question of orphan books — that is, copyrighted books whose rightsholders have not been identified. The settlement gives Google the exclusive right to digitise and sell access to those books without being subject to suits for infringement of copyright. According to Chin, that provision would give Google “a de facto monopoly over unclaimed works”, raising serious antitrust concerns.
Chin invited Google and the litigants to rewrite the settlement yet again, perhaps by changing its opt-out to opt-in provisions. But Google might well refuse to change its basic commercial strategy. That’s why what we really need is a non-commercial option: a digital public library.

A coalition of foundations could come up with the money — estimates of digitising one page vary enormously, from 10 cents to $10 or more — and a coalition of research libraries could supply the books. The library would respect copyright, of course, and it probably would exclude works that are now in print unless their authors wanted to make them available. It would include orphan books, assuming that Congress passed legislation to free them for non-commercial use in a genuinely public library.

To dismiss this as quixotic would be to ignore digital projects that have proven their value and practicability throughout the last 20 years. All major research libraries have digitised parts of their collections. Large-scale enterprises like the Knowledge Commons and the Internet Archive have themselves digitised several million books. A number of countries are also determined to out-Google Google by scanning the entire contents of their national libraries. France is spending €750 million to digitise its cultural treasures; the National Library of the Netherlands is trying to digitise every Dutch book and periodical published since 1470; Australia, Finland and Norway are undertaking their own efforts.

Perhaps Google itself could be enlisted to the cause of the digital public library. It has scanned about 15 million books; two million of that total are in the public domain and could be turned over to the library as the foundation of its collection. The company would lose nothing by this generosity, and might win admiration for its good deed.

Through technological wizardry and sheer audacity, Google has shown how we can transform the intellectual riches of our libraries, books lying inert and underused on shelves.

But only a digital public library will provide readers with what they require to face the challenges of the 21st century — a vast collection of resources that can be tapped, free of charge, by anyone, anywhere, at any time.

The author is a professor and
the director of the Harvard
University Library)
© The New York Times News Service

Monday, May 23, 2011

Top 3 Free Replacements for Microsoft's Skype

Skype has always been proprietary so those that prefer to use only Open Source have relied upon free alternatives. Now with Microsoft's purchase of Skype, Linux users are already predicting the end for them and are looking for alternatives as well. It turns out that the Free Software Foundation has had "Free software replacement for Skype" on their High-Priority List for a while.

The FSF suggests that folks use one of the free programs available for Linux and help development by sending in bug reports. They cite China's spying on Skype conversations as a good reason. Does anyone doubt Microsoft is capable of similar? So, even if Microsoft doesn't give Linux (and Mac) users the kibosh, I wouldn't trust them and proprietary software with my phone calls.

Quite an extensive list of alternatives is already compiled at the FSF, some of which I'd never heard of before. But several bring a familiar ring - if you'll pardon the pun.

1. Linphone - Linphone is an internet phone or VoIP much like Skype. It seems the page at the FSF needs a bit of updating, because Linphone 3.4.0 was released in February 2011. The news page states that "the main point of this new release is support for multiple simultaneous calls, with pause, resume and transfer functionality." It is released under the GNU GPL v2 license and commercial support is available as well. It comes in binaries for Debian-based distros or build from source. Here's a screenshot from the Linphone Website:

2. Ekiga - Ekiga was formerly known as GnomeMeeting, which many have heard of. GnomeMeeting used to come with lots of distributions and Ekiga is still seen in several. So, check your distribution's repos. It provides "SoftPhone, Video Conferencing and Instant Messenger application[s] over the Internet" and supports SIP and H.323. Ekiga is released under the GPL and comes in binaries for lots of distros and in source code. Again, scarfed screenshot from Ekiga Website:


3. Empathy - "Empathy is a messaging program which supports text, voice, and video chat and file transfers over many different protocols." This one is probably most well known because of its inclusion in Ubuntu. 3.1 was released May 9. It is released under the GPL and comes in binaries for Ubuntu. Looks like others will have to build it from source. Again, shamelessly stolen screenshot:

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