all bits considered data to information to knowledge


HIPAA compliance in the cloud: cover your bases

Are there any HIPAA certified hosting providers out there? The short answer is - No.

Since there is no certifying body for HIPAA the best you can do is to to make sure that your hosting provider did his homework: conducted independent HIPAA audit, employee training etc.

In short, the provider has covered his and your respective behinds from potential litigation in case there will be data breach.

Yes, the chances for the safeguarding of your data are higher - after all there is a document stating that all 54 HIPAA citations and 136 audited components have been examined by a Certified HIPAA Practitioner...

Five Questions to Ask Your HIPAA Hosting Provider



Out in the cloud

For a long time – probably, since the beginning – the CFOs viewed IT as a necessary evil, a cost center, and when the siren song of outsourcing came along, the temptation was all but irresistible.  The common wisdom of the day was: “If I need milk – why buy a cow?” Turns out that that quality of milk depends on the how well the cow is taken care of.  When 90% savings failed to materialize they have set their collective eyesight lower: 50, 20, 10, 5 percent… Then in-sourcing began.

It turned out that while you might not be in business of IT, the IT is in your business. And that makes all the difference. As soon as you begin building custom solutions to gain some competitive advantage you need a friend in IT  who understands your business from inside out.  Not exactly what you’d trust your friendly outsourcer next door with, and it won’t have time to do it anyway.

A decade later, wizened up but still suspicious, the CFOs turned to the cloud. And this time they just might be right. The skills to be outsources are the commodity skills that do not require deep knowledge of how business operates. And what is more commodity than setting up, configuring and maintaining infrastructure? As the questions about security and reliability gets addressed, expect to see more of data centers moved into cloud. It just makes sense: a server is a server is a server. Keep them tuned and monitored.

Now, back to the business, and the custom IT projects as one of the main differentiators, deployed on the outsourced commodity infrastructure.


Oracle/Sun: Some questions answered, some are raised..

In my previous post I was pondering future for Sun technologies under Oracle ownership... The latest press conference with Oracle's exec team shed some light on their plans:

Java figures prominently into Oracle's future. Let's wait and see how they are going to handle the open source community...

JavaFX will get aggressive investments. Oracle is going after Flash and Silverlight.

GlassFish is delegated to the status of Microsoft Access (if RDBMS metaphors to be used), departmental use at best. Bye.

NetBeans will remain as a "lightweight development environment for Java developers". Ouch. RIP.

Interestingly enough, the open source continuous integration server HUDSON was mentioned during this heavyweights conference. Not sure what this would spell for the application... Got a feeling that Oracle will try competing in ALM market.

SUN Cloud is officially dead. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had declared it a fad. I think he's dead wrong on this, just as Bill Gates managed to go spectacularly wrong with his "Internet is but a fad" and "Nobody needs more that 640KB of RAM" assertions.

Nothing specific on either Solaris or MySQL...


Tunnel vision(s)

At the inaugural meeting of the New York Technology Council Thursday night, Google Vice President of Research Alfred Spector and Microsoft architect evangelist Bill Zack debated their views on how data will be stored and shared in the future.

Google leads shift to the "web as platform" paradigm, and Microsoft has a grip on desktop, and - to a significant degree - on the server market. Not surprisingly, they see the world through their respective rosy glasses: Google wants everything to be in the cloud ("network computing", anyone?), and Microsoft puts forward his "three screens" strategy blancing its cash cows - Windows + MS Office - with a bet on cloud computing, the new Azure platform. Google does not have the legacy ties, it was in the cloud business from day one, though recent developments such as Android and Chrome OS indicate that they might be bridging the gap in opposite direction...

If the only tool one has is a hammer suddenly every problem starts looking like a nail..


Dark waters and thick clouds of the skies…*

Will cloud change the ways we architect software?

Despite all the hype, cloud computing is little more than ability to procure computing capacity on demand, platform as a service; it is virtualization on steroids...
It holds the same promise as Internet had in the beginning  - levelling of the playing field. Instead of buying expensive hardware and software one could configure a whole farm of servers within an hour, pay only for what it is being use, and shut down when no longer needed: no unused licenses, no hardware to auction. Ultimate flexibility.

This also would give rise to unique architectural solutions..Imagine, that your system decides that it needs to increase computing or storage capacity to meet an increasing demand. In physical world this would mean buying and configuring a server, plugging it into network, installing all the software - and this would  involve someone doing the actual work... In the cloud all of this can be done automatically through API.
A software system that grows, shrinks and configures itself... This what I call paradigm shift!

SOA yields itself very nicely to the cloud, one might say this is a marriage made in heaven; ultimate in distributed computing, a first class cloud citizen. Imagine a self assembling software where kernel system discovers services, and strings them together into useful processes according to some vaguely spec'd needs... I can dream, can't I?

*He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. Psalm 18:11


Lightweight Development in the Cloud

One of the advantages of placing developer's workstation in the cloud would be the speed with which it could be procured and decommissioned, not to mention the cost savings.

 Yet developing through RDP (or similar protocol) console, even with a fast enough internet connection might be less than ideal. One way to alleviate the pain would be developing locally, and saving the work to the cloud via WebDAV.

The fact that the communications occur over HTTP make it the least common denominator for most corporate environments (though being verbose effectively limits it to relatively small data volumes).

 In my particular case, a developer was set up to save edited “classic” ASP, JavaScript and HTML files to a machine in the cloud while using Dreamweaver MX environment; once saved, the application immediately becomes available to the testers (and other developers) spread all over the country. The process is extremely lightweight (and also could be error-prone); it does not yield itself (easily) to versioning, and requires rather high degree of team coordination and trust. Yet it could be a useful technique for streamlining bureaucracy (server procurement, firewall requests etc.); with modifications (version control, issue tracking, continuous build integration etc.) it could even be made robust enough for enterprise level development.

 Here are some information on setting up WebDAV with IIS (comes with Amazan EC2 Windows AMI); also WebDAV with PHP  and  WebDAV with Tomcat