One-cloud solution takes a media company to new heights

Art Fort

Art Fort

For the past year, I’ve been working with a media and entertainment client on a SaaS application. Hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS), the application provides creative professionals with a “one-cloud” solution for media and content collection, collaboration, production, and transcoding of high-value, high-definition content.

I’ve been fortunate to be part of this project from the beginning—starting with some small proof of concepts, to doing a cloud migration assessment of their on-premise technologies, and ultimately contributing to application architecture, development, and deployment onto AWS. For me, two things set this project apart: the team and the technology. Read more of this post

Webinar: Accelerating SharePoint for Mobile Solutions on the AWS Cloud

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman specializes in cloud computing and the Windows Azure Platform.

I wanted to take the opportunity to post about an exciting upcoming live webinar that is being co-delivered by Slalom Consulting and Amazon Web Services entitled Accelerating SharePoint for Mobile Solutions on the AWS Cloud.

On Wednesday, August 15th at 10:00 AM PST, we will bring several emerging topics together around mobility and the cloud. You will have the opportunity to learn more about how to make SharePoint applications available to your mobile users using the AWS cloud directly from an AWS Solution Architect. Then, we will demonstrate how they can quickly and securely mobilize SharePoint content with our SharePoint Mobile Accelerator. The Accelerator is a framework that can target both on-premise and cloud SharePoint implementations, and allows for rapid development of custom iPhone & iPad applications to enable your growing mobile workforce while maintaining corporate security standards.

Here are the individuals that will be presenting during this live session: Read more of this post

Your Future in the Clouds: How Cloud Computing is Transforming the IT Landscape

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman specializes in cloud computing and the Windows Azure Platform.

Since 2008, I have been working on building applications on the cloud.  Over the past four years, I have seen terms such as “platform-as-a-service”, “multi-tenancy”, “elastic compute”, and “hybrid-cloud” become part of my everyday vocabulary. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that the cloud itself is still an emerging space. There are many companies today who have yet to explore the opportunities that may exist for their organization in the way of cloud services. And there are many more individuals who hear the buzzwords are not quite sure what they mean and why they should care about them.

Dan Maycock, fellow Slalom consultant and national lead for technology strategy, and I recently took a step back and published a white paper entitled Your Future in the Clouds: How Cloud Computing is Transforming the IT Landscape. Geared towards the cloud newbie, the paper talks about cloud computing, some of its key concepts and benefits, and highlights a few of the projects Slalom has recently completed in the space. We try to provide a simple perspective on topics such as Computing Models, Storage, Security, and countless others.

Recently our paper has been featured on CIO.com! We look forward to helping you navigate the cloud and realize the opportunities that exist in your organization.

Installing Sybase Unwired Platform in AWS Part 2 – Installation

This is second in a series of posts by Jesse which he calls “Unwiring the Enterprise—Slalom Experiments in the Cloud” about deploying the Sybase Unwired Platform in the Amazon Web Services environment.

Slalom Consultant Jesse Anarde

Slalom Consultant Jesse Anarde is an experienced developer, DBA, and BI specialist who is a resident expert on the Sybase Unwired Platform with Slalom Consulting's National Mobility team.

Once you’ve configured Amazon Web Services (AWS) to accommodate the licensing requirements of the Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP)—for more about this, if you haven’t already you may want to read my previous post, Installing Sybase Unwired Platform in AWS Part 1 – Licensing—you’re ready to install.

Assumptions: This installation assumes that you are deploying SUP 2.0, onto a m1.large Amazon Machine Image (AMI) running Windows 2008 Server R2.

SUP is essentially a set of several Sybase products that work together to provide a series of interfaces and services to help facilitate rapid mobile application integration.  There are three components to SUP: The Unwired Server, the Data Tier, and the Unwired Workspace. Each of these requires specific port access for both internal and external functions. These port requirements introduce a certain amount of complexity when preparing an SUP installation in the cloud and it is easy to get lost in the morass of security tiers and port dependencies.

Let’s start with the required Read more of this post

Installing Sybase Unwired Platform in AWS Part 1 – Licensing

This is first in a series of posts by Jesse which he calls “Unwiring the Enterprise—Slalom Experiments in the Cloud” about deploying the Sybase Unwired Platform in the Amazon Web Services environment.

Slalom Consultant Jesse Anarde

Slalom Consultant Jesse Anarde is an experienced developer, DBA, and BI specialist who is a resident expert on the Sybase Unwired Platform with Slalom Consulting's National Mobility team.

One of the advantages of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) feature is the ability to quickly spin up an enterprise class server for a relatively low price. This can accelerate a project significantly and reduce costs in a very meaningful way. However, since AWS is essentially a huge virtualization farm, when it comes to Sybase licensing, there are several pitfalls that one can fall into while configuring a Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) environment.  Most of these can be easily mitigated by keeping a couple of rules in mind and by using readily available tools in the AWS toolkit.

All AWS instances are virtual machines. Sybase’s license generation requires the physical address of the machine (MAC Address) and the hostname to bind the license to the SUP host.  So what does this mean?

Firstly it means you cannot terminate the instance without invalidating the license. You can reboot the instance, but you have to do a couple things to afford you this freedom. When you initially set up your AWS instance it must be initialized as an Elastic Block Storage (EBS) backed instance (rather than an EC2 instance store-backed AMI on S3). EBS instances can be rebooted (but still not terminated) without losing your MAC Address.

Secondly it means that you will also need Read more of this post

Where the Cloud Meets the Road

Slalom Consultant Derek Martin

Slalom Consultant Derek Martin is an accomplished Microsoft systems developer and integrator, experienced in developing and deploying SharePoint and CRM solutions, integrating line of business applications, and leveraging existing infrastructure investments.

It occurs to me that a lot of gesticulation has been going on about the cloud over the past few quarters: is it good for business, is it secure, will it really reduce costs, etc. ad nauseam.  I myself have pondered these questions, much to the benefit of my own mental exercise, but what about the practical – the on the ground client stuff?  Let’s be real for a minute – the scenarios that businesses are considering right now are that either a hybrid public cloud/private cloud or a public cloud/no cloud makes the most sense. The reality is that for many companies’ cloud engagements, the cloud is still a messy, hodgepodge, dynamic environment that is growing not by leaps and bounds but spits and spurts as the technology continues to improve and the costs continue to come down.

Anyone except the solo entrepreneur will tell you that in order to effectively leverage the cloud, you’ve got to be able to make it work with your internal infrastructure, not replace it.  There are fountains of technology gizmos that can make this happen like Azure Connect, BCP for SQL database replication, ADFS, AppFabric etc.  The problem is that for all of the talk about how great these tools are and some of the practical use cases are, no one seems to be talking about the people and the processes.  To start filling this gap here are a few questions that you might be asking yourself and some Read more of this post

Recommended Amazon S3 Tools

Slalom Consultant Jeff Barber

Jeff Barber is a Seattle-based leader in Slalom Consulting’s mobility solutions practice. He's a mobile technology expert with deep experience helping clients “operationalize” mobile technologies.

Last year, our team deployed an iPhone mobile video solution for a client using S3 as the storage repository and CloudFront for content delivery. In addition to dozens of H.264 (iPhone standard) videos, the content library included over a hundred image and PDF files. We were working on MacBook Pro laptops but the client was standardized on Windows. I was tasked with finding an S3 tool that the client could use to manage their content library.

Before I reveal my favorite shareware S3 client, I will mention that Greg Martin succeeded in converting me to Panic Transmit. If you work on a Mac, and are willing to shell out $30, it’s a great all-purpose FTP tool that includes S3 support. It’s easy to use and provides those sweet features that converted us all to Mac users. It’s worth the $30 just to be able to edit a filename on S3 without deleting and re-uploading the file (note that renaming a file this way can cause a problem with content delivery if you are using S3 with Amazon CloudFront; if you are using CloudFront, delete and rename the file and update your URL reference to ensure that the correct file instance is copied from S3 to the edge server).

The list of shareware and licensed S3 clients continues to grow. I found these Read more of this post

Getting Started on the Cloud with Amazon Simple Storage Service

Slalom Consultant Jeff Barber

Jeff Barber is a Seattle-based leader in Slalom Consulting’s mobility solutions practice. He's a mobile technology expert with deep experience helping clients “operationalize” mobile technologies.

This is the first of a series of posts about Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is Amazon.com’s answer to cloud computing and provides a unique and compelling set of service offerings, in my opinion, when compared to offerings by Microsoft, Google and co-location providers.

AWS is not for everyone, but it is especially well suited to e-commerce, SaaS, and digital content storage and delivery applications—no surprise there, given who created it—and there is a growing base of companies who have launched entire businesses and technology solutions that otherwise would have been cost-prohibitive using AWS.

If you’re not familiar with the wonders of AWS, the first service you should know about is Amazon S3. S3 stands for Simple Storage Service. It’s basically a virtual, scalable FTP server in the cloud that uses configurable “buckets” (folders) to store your files. Files within buckets can be programmatically referenced using URLs to launch cloud-based files from websites and applications.

S3 interacts with two complimentary AWS content management Read more of this post

Another perspective on mobility and the cloud

Slalom Consultant Jeff Barber

Jeff Barber is a Seattle-based leader in Slalom Consulting’s mobility solutions practice. He's a mobile technology expert with deep experience helping clients “operationalize” mobile technologies.

This is the first of a series of posts about Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is Amazon.com’s answer to cloud computing and provides a unique and compelling set of service offerings, in my opinion, when compared to offerings by Microsoft, Google and co-location providers.

Greetings! As the latest author to join the SlalomWorks blog, I’ll start out by posting some key learnings from 2009, adding another perspective to the Mobility and Cloud discussions. Last year I worked as a business analyst and PM on projects involving iPhone apps, Amazon Web Services, mobile video as an education and training tool, and content management challenges in multi-channel digital marketing and corporate communications. Look for a mix of practical advice, big picture insights, and food for thought in my posts.

- Jeff

Follow Jeff on Twitter: @jbarber_slalom

Slalom Consulting's Seattle Office Slalom Consulting's Mobile Focus Area
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