Case Study 1
Public “Personal” Clouds
Cloud computing is not solely focused on helping organizations better manage their investments in IT infrastructure and have access to scalable IT resources in real-time. The cloud has gone “personal,” and there are now a wide range of cloud services for just you as an individual. Three companies offering personal cloud services are Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.
Amazon is definitely the retail giant of the Web, but even it concedes that its market share in the digital services space is “insignificant” compared to that of Apple. So, Amazon has launched a series of personal cloud services in the hope of stealing away many of Apple’s customers. One such cloud service is Amazon Cloud Drive. Cloud Drive is an external hard disk for your computer (or tablet PC or smartphone) in the cloud. On it, you can store music, photos, videos, and documents. With any Web browser, you can access all your digital assets on Cloud Drive.
You can load your music onto Cloud Drive in one of two ways. First, when you buy digital music at Amazon’s MP3 store, you can have that music automatically loaded into your Cloud Drive space. Second, if you currently have music on your laptop or desktop (even if that music comes from iTunes), you can upload that with a few clicks. It’s also similarly easy to upload any of your other digital assets—photos, videos, or documents.
Amazon provides you with a limited amount of free space on your Cloud Drive, somewhere in the range of 5 to 10Gb. Even better, if you buy music from Amazon’s MP3 store, it doesn’t count against your free limit. If you exceed your limit with other content—photos, videos, or documents or perhaps music from some organization other than Amazon—you can buy additional storage space, which will cost approximately $1 per year per Gb. (A Gb of storage typically holds about 200 to 250 songs, depending on their length and quality.)
Partly in response to Amazon’s move, Apple also announced a personal cloud service called iCloud. iCloud is completely free, no matter how much content you store in it. iCloud is different from Amazon’s Cloud Drive in that it is built into the normal workings of Apple computers and mobile devices. When you take a photo using your iPhone, for example, that photo will be available on your Mac or iPad within a few seconds. So, whenever you create and store a document on your Mac, you are also automatically storing it in iCloud. That means you can then view and change the document on your iPad without first having to transfer the file from your Mac to your iPad.
The iCloud constantly synchronizes all your Apple digital assets, including music, photos, videos, documents, calendar, contacts, and mail across all your Apple devices. The goal is to encourage you to buy only Apple devices (a Mac, an iPad, and an iPhone) because they all remain synchronized without your ever having to do anything. And what happens when you buy a new iPhone? Just enter your ID and password and you will be instantly connected to your iCloud space, giving you access to everything you have.
It makes obvious sense that Microsoft would also be in this space. Microsoft is still the dominant provider of personal productivity software (Microsoft Office) and personal operating system software (Windows XP and Windows 7, mainly). To maintain its dominance, not lose market share, and hopefully gain market share, Microsoft offers Windows Live, personal cloud space for its users. Windows Live offers free storage space in SkyDrive, where you can upload any of your digital assets. If you own multiple Windows-based machines, SkyDrive can help you keep your digital assets on those machines always in sync. And like iCLoud, Windows Live will also synchronize your calendar, contacts, and e-mail across your Windows devices.
Windows Live allows you to create groups in your cloud space, so you can collaborate with other people on documents and projects. That feature is much easier to use while collaborating as opposed to e-mailing documents to other people, trying to keep track of changes and versions, and attempting to determine who made what changes and the order in which the changes were made.10, 11, 12
Page 219 Questions
1. Do some research on Amazon’s Cloud Drive. What is the amount of free storage space? What is the annual cost for additional storage? What about Apple’s iCLoud? Is it still free? Does Microsoft charge anything for use of its SkyDrive cloud service?
2. Putting all your personal information in the cloud means letting go of some control over information like your tax files, personal photos that you might not want anyone else to see, term papers you’re currently writing, and so on. What is your level of concern for the security of these personal digital assets in the cloud? Explain why your level of concern is high or low.
3. As we move more of our personal storage needs to the cloud, will computers really need disk storage space? Is it possible that we’re in the early stages of an outrageous industry transformation? Who are the major manufacturers of disk storage for personal computers and laptops?
4. If you choose to store all your personal information in the cloud, you’ll need a personal continuity plan, much like organizations have business continuity plans in case of some sort of disaster. Suppose that right now you begin storing all your personal information only in the cloud. Of that information, what will you also back up onto a flash drive? How often would you perform the back up process? How often do you currently back up information on your computer’s hard drive?
5. Do some research on personal cloud providers. What sort of service level agreement (SLA) do they offer? Are you willing to store your information with a personal cloud provider that offers no SLA? Why or why not?
Case study 2:
Denver Health Operates with a Private Cloud and Thin Clients
Along with its main hospital, Denver Health operates the 911 emergency medical services response system for Denver, 12 clinics based in the Denver Public Schools, the Rocky Mountain Poison Drug Center, and eight family health centers. That’s a big organization with substantial technology needs.
Denver Health faced a problem of lost time incurred by physicians and nurses upon entering a patient’s room and having to log on to a computer. Even though Gregg Veltri, Denver Health’s CIO, had procedures and processes in place to keep patient-room computers as new as possible and to refresh those computers often to rid them of spyware, adware, and other inhibitors of performance, log-on time was still about two minutes. If you multiply those two minutes throughout the day by the number of doctor visits to rooms, Denver Health calculated that it was losing almost $4 million annually in physician lost time.
So, Gregg turned to a solution called ThinIdentity. ThinIdentity utilizes a thin client—basically a high-quality monitor, mouse, and keyboard—in each patient room. All processing and information storage are maintained in Denver Health’s private cloud. These thin clients (Sun Rays) need to be upgraded only every eight years, instead of the typical two to three years for a PC. Further, each Sun Ray costs only $600, a fraction of the price for a full-blown PC.
Equally important is the sign-on procedure doctors and nurses use now. Upon arriving at work each day, a doctor or nurse signs onto a single station (Sun Ray terminal or a PC in an office), which takes about one minute, by inserting a smart card and then providing a log-on name and password. The doctor or nurse then removes the smart card, which logs off the session at that station, but leaves the session active in the cloud for the doctor or nurse. When entering a patient’s room during the day, the doctor or nurse needs only to insert the smart card and provide the log-on name and password to reactivate the session that is still active in the cloud. This process takes only 5 or 10 seconds.
ThinIdentity takes advantage of a concept called virtual location awareness (VLA). VLA maps each room Page 220to each patient according to Denver Health’s transaction processing system. When a nurse or doctor enters a specific room and reactivates his/her session in the cloud, VLA recognizes the room and immediately pulls up that patient’s information within that doctor’s or nurse’s session. This saves even more time. In total, the Thin Identity-based system has saved Denver Health an estimated $5.7 million. The savings are presented below.
$1.2 million reduction of desktop replacements
$300,000 reduction of desktop resource needs
$135,000 reduction of energy needs (Sun Rays use much less energy than traditional desktop computers)
$56,000 reduction in help desk calls
$250,000 reduction in full-time employees operating the help desk
$3.7 million reduction in physician log-on time13
1. Privacy laws and regulations require medical facilities to take measurable steps to ensure the confidentiality of patient information. From this case study, can you tell what Denver Health has done to ensure the confidentiality of its patient information?
2. Think about your school. How could it use the ThinIdentity solution to support the technology needs of (1) faculty and (2) students such as yourself?
3. In thinking about cloud computing (focusing on the public cloud), what role could it play in business continuity planning for Denver Health? That is, how could the public cloud act as a backup for Denver Health’s private cloud?
4. If Denver Health were to give each patient a smart card, log-on name, and password, which functions, features, and information could benefit patients? What security would have to be in place to ensure that patients have access to only their own information?
5. How could Denver Health extend the ThinIdentity solution beyond its brick-and-mortar walls? How would it work (i.e., need to change) to have doctors and nurses log on from home or use a mobile device such as a Blackberry or iPhone?
6. The reduction in physician log-on time is an efficiency metric. What are some effectiveness metrics that could justify Denver Health’s use of ThinIdentity?
Part 3 : Keyterms
- Abandon rate
- Abandoned registration
- Abandoned shopping cart
- Average speed to answer (ASA)
- Business continuity plan
- Business continuity planning (BCP)
- Call center metric