Thursday, November 3, 2011

The State of Cloud Computing – A Message to the Government of India

Despite a forward looking IT policy, unlike the US (and to some extent the UK and Australia), India is still in a wait-and-see mode when it comes to cloud computing based IT strategies. The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) represents the government of India striving to reach the common man through Information Technology (IT). Under NeGP, the State Data Center (SDC) envisions a countrywide infrastructure reaching every state.

But when and how will this vision be implemented? Of late, we have heard of a few tactical moves from the government, for instance: Government of India to provide subsidized cloud computing to SMEs [Source] But it’s too little, although it may not be too late.

Government Cloud (G-Cloud) in India?

Whatever information there is in the public domain, from a strategic point of view, it seems government cloud in India has a yet to take those first baby steps towards utilizing the power of the cloud. But there’s indeed some good news from a few of the Indian states, and something hopeful on the horizon.

  • To implement cloud solutions, a tri-partite agreement was signed, in June 2010, by Kerala State IT Mission (KSITM), Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala (IIITM-K), Chennai (C-DAC). Though cloud has various benefits going for it, what sparked the agreement was when the authorities realized that one of the e-governance projects, SPARK (Service and Payroll Administrative Repository for Kerala) was not performing well during the peak period of computation (at the end of every month).
  • In the year June 2010, the state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) successfully utilized computing services offered by the state of Madhya Pradesh (MP) to roll out citizen services online within 60 days at zero initial cost. The pilot was successfully completed, and the state of MP received revenues from J&K on a per transaction basis.
  • The Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of India, is set to roll out India’s first government cloud (G-Cloud) policy by 2012, which will modernize and streamline government services and bureaucratic functioning.

With the above in mind, I contacted a few of the pioneers of cloud computing field with the following query:

How should the central and state governments in India formulate their cloud based IT strategy so as to facilitate communication within the government, between the government and its citizens, and between the government and businesses?

Their views follow (in random order)

Kishore (Impel CRM)

Narasimhan (Kishore) Mandyam - CEO of PK4, a Bangalore based company that delivers a SaaS - Impel CRM.

Narasimhan (Kishore) Mandyam's Interview

Your question about the approach that Govts should take in formulating their Cloud strategies is an interesting one: I've heard bureaucrats talk about “a Cloud for Peenya Industrial Estate, a Cloud for Sales Tax Dept.” and so on and that just completely obviates any value that the Cloud can bring. The whole value of the Cloud is its ubiquity – most importantly, its ubiquity across apps.

So IMHO, the best way forward is to bring the State Data Centers (SDC) and other Govt.-owned assets under one large infrastructure – call it the Govt. Cloud, if you will. Fences can be built around the whole network and web-service protocols established amongst the SDCs to ensure both Security and Integrability.

That way, a municipal corporation app that the Bruhat Mumbai Mahanagara Palike uses can be easily made available to, say, the Mysore Mahanagara Palike just by configuring the app properly – no new hardware or software to deploy. And industries can consume data services provided by the various Govt. agencies using technical formats that follow a standard across the board. End-point devices (a village agriculture inspector with an Aakash tablet, for example) would hang off the same network regardless of where s/he is. Essentially, this would be a huge “private cloud” with all its advantages of accessibility, scalability, security and Integrability.

The current infrastructure of most States supports this kind of thing, at a primary level. The SDCs and the SWANs, as they are called, have the hardware layers to support “federation” at a National level. What’s needed is the addition of elastic computing and that need not be – probably SHOULD not be – rolled out at a state level. It can be something that a NetMagic (for example) would be happy to roll out for the Govt. inside a National or regional data center.

That way, while the Govt. Cloud continues to use the current hardware assets of the States, there is a clear future path that includes growth and replacement via the National or Regional DCs. I don’t think any of this is brain surgery – it only needs a big-picture planning process that does not lose sight of the small details!


Ezhil Arasan Babaraj (CSS Corp)

Ezhilarasan Babaraj - Director of CSS Corp Labs. Ezhilarasan has been involved in cloud computing for about 2+ years and has led several projects in Amazon Web Services Platform.

Ezhilarasan Babaraj’s Interview

The strategy for India to embrace Cloud Computing should be to come up with a blue print for community cloud model that will allow every state to participate in their own way but completely controlled. Embrace software companies to start using the cloud to provide "software as a service" with the benefits of Cloud passed on to the consumers of this cloud.


Jamal Mazhar (Kaavo)

Jamal Mazhar - Founder and CEO of Kaavo. He possesses 15+ years of experience in technology, engineering and consulting with a range of Fortune 500 companies including GE and ING.
Jamal Mazhar’s Interview

I would like to emphasize two points:

1. In India broadband penetration is quite low, government needs to invest more in broadband infrastructure to make sure it is available to every household in India. These days not having a broadband Internet connectivity is equivalent of not having a basic necessity like electricity.

2. Because of Title V of the Patriot Act some of the potential jobs and revenues for the US companies are diverted to other countries, as Canada and several European countries have passed laws to restrict what type of data can be stored in the US datacenters. Indian government can learn from this and perhaps come up with policies to make India an attractive location for cloud datacenters serving global customers.

IT / Cloud Trivia in Government Sector

  • The National Informatics Centre (NIC) plays a major role in design, development & maintenance of almost all Indian government (central and state governments) websites and e-Governance initiatives. (53 departments of the Government of India, 35 State/UT Secretariats and 603 District collectorates).
  • Randomly checking, I found districts as far as Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh and Kargil in J&K have an official website. This is indeed a commendable effort by NIC.
  • Despite my praise for NIC, I must stress that, in my opinion, almost all of the websites designed by NIC look primitive and are aesthetically challenged. Serious improvement is needed in user interface. A case in point is the official website of the district/city considered the silicon valley of India – Bangalore
  • NIC was set up in 1976. (Yes, much before many of us were born!)
  • NIC has set up Internet Data Centre (IDC) at NIC headquarters, New Delhi. It has a capacity to house more than 1000 servers, and is currently equipped with 435 servers connected with 460 TB of storage capacity in the SAN.
  • Gujarat State Data Centre (GSDC) is the first State Data Centre (SDC) made operational in India.
  • PWC, 3i – Infotech and Wipro are the consultants for implementing SDC in 31 Indian states/UT. PWC is consulting for 16, Wipro for 9 and 3i – Infotech for 6 states/UT.
  • Exam results apps are the best fit cases for a cloud solution. Why? Because they are very high traffic apps just for two or three days in a year. The rest of the year they are almost idle. It is the same case with election results. Moreover, the current apps are never prepared for the sudden burst in traffic and tend to crash on d-day. By the time they are up and running the print media is already out with the exam results.

As with everything Indian, G-Cloud is rolling, albeit at a slower pace. Please share your messages via comment. Did you like this article? Spread the word…


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cloud Deployment Models – Private, Community, Public, Hybrid with Examples

How are Cloud Computing Solutions deployed? What are the general implications for different deployment options? A couple of months back I wrote about Cloud Service Models – Which one is for you? This post will cover another basic of Cloud Computing, popularly known as Cloud Deployment Models.

The content of this post is based on the recommendations of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) - Special Publication 800-146. The credit for the images used in this article goes to NIST - Special Publication 800-146. Please check references for details. This document is not subject to copyright.

Following are the four types of Cloud Deployment Models identified by NIST.

  • Private cloud
  • Community cloud
  • Public cloud
  • Hybrid cloud

Private Cloud

The cloud infrastructure is operated solely for an organization.


Contrary to popular belief, private cloud may exist off premises and can be managed by a third party. Thus, two private cloud scenarios exist, as follows:

  • On-site Private Cloud
    • Applies to private clouds implemented at a customer’s premises.
  • Outsourced Private Cloud
    • Applies to private clouds where the server side is outsourced to a hosting company.

Examples of Private Cloud:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud - UEC (powered by Eucalyptus)
  • Amazon VPC (Virtual Private Cloud)
  • VMware Cloud Infrastructure Suite
  • Microsoft ECI data center.



Community Cloud

The cloud infrastructure is shared by several organizations and supports a specific community that has shared concerns (e.g., mission, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations).  Government departments, universities, central banks etc. often find this type of cloud useful. Community cloud also has two possible scenarios:

  • On-site Community Cloud Scenario
    • Applies to community clouds implemented on the premises of
      the customers composing a community cloud
  • Outsourced Community Cloud
    • Applies to community clouds where the server side is
      outsourced to a hosting company.

Examples of Community Cloud:

  • Google Apps for Government
  • Microsoft Government Community Cloud



Public Cloud

The most ubiquitous, and almost a synonym for, cloud computing. The cloud infrastructure is made available to the general public or a large industry group and is owned by an organization selling cloud services.

Examples of Public Cloud:

  • Google App Engine
  • Microsoft Windows Azure
  • IBM Smart Cloud
  • Amazon EC2


Hybrid Cloud

The cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more clouds (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load-balancing between clouds).

Examples of Hybrid Cloud:

  • Windows Azure (capable of Hybrid Cloud)
  • VMware vCloud (Hybrid Cloud Services)


Cloud Deployment Implications

Irrespective of the deployment model, in general any organization opting for cloud must consider the following implications:

Network Dependency –  Whether you choose, on-site or off-shore, a reliable and secure network is highly desirable for good performance.

Subscribers still need IT skills – You can’t just offer a pink-slip to all your IT resources. To manage various user devices that access cloud, resources with traditional IT skills are required, though in lesser number. Additionally, your existing resources may need to update themselves with new skills for working in cloud.

Risk from multi-tenancy On-site private cloud mitigates this security risk by restricting the number of possible attackers as all the clients are typically the members of one subscriber organization. In a public cloud scenario, a single machine may be shared by the workloads of any combination of subscribers. This indeed raises the security risk as the number of potential attackers increases with number of subscribers. Therefore we can safely conclude that risk due to multi-tenancy increases in an order which can be stated as Private, Community, Hybrid, Public cloud.

Data import/export and performance limitations – Generally the on-demand bulk data import/export is limited by the cloud’s network capacity. In the on-site
private cloud scenario, however, these limits may be adjusted, although not eliminated, by provisioning high-performance and/or high-reliability networking within the subscriber's infrastructure.

Workloads Locations – Workloads refers to managing hardware resources efficiently. Generally, cloud migrates workloads between machines without any inconvenience to the clients, i.e., it’s hidden from the client. Generally, the cloud vendors take care of this but you must explicitly check with your vendor if it manages the resources efficiently.

The implications described here are general in nature. Before making any decision in favor of a specific deployment model, study the detailed implications of that particular deployment model. For details, please check the reference section.


NIST - Special Publication

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cloud Computing Preaches Design for Failure - Ezhil Arasan Babaraj

Ezhil-Arasan-Babaraj Mr. Ezhil Arasan Babaraj is primarily into research and development. One of his favorite platforms is cloud and its related technologies. He has been involved in cloud computing for about four years an has done noteworthy R&D in public and private cloud. He is associated with CSS Corp for the past 6 years and is currently managing the R&D division at CSS Corp. Ezhil and his team is actively into developing and maintaining various open source and commercial tools using Cloud Platforms such as AWS, Eucalyptus…etc. He is currently focusing on building private cloud platform for enterprise using various open source tools like Eucalyptus, Xen, KVM...etc.

Though every market research firm is predicting a robust growth in cloud computing adoption (SaaS+PaaS+IaaS) yet it seems the cloud adoption is not picking up as predicted. What is your experience?

We have been experiencing good growth in our cloud based services. As you know, the public cloud has still not penetrated well in the enterprise segment and only enterprise adoption can drive rapid growth in cloud computing. We see great potential for private cloud adoption across various business houses.

What are the different cloud services offered by CSS Corp? How does it benefit the users?

CSS Corp covers the entire life cycle of cloud computing adoption for enterprises and business houses. Being a system integrator, we offer design, prototyping, orchestration, management and monitoring services for cloud Infrastructure.

We offer standard solution stack for

  • Single Tenant SaaS enablement
  • Enterprise Email Archival
  • Consumer & Enterprise Desktop & Server Backup
  • Cloud Orchestration, Hosting & Monitoring

CSS Corp's CloudBuddy suite of products helps us quickly build a customized solution for our customer's need. From our CSS Corp R&D Labs we contribute to the open source world as well. Our flagship projects like Hybridfox and CloudSmart are available as open source in Google code.

I have listed the following products from CSS Corp that have lent us a lead over our competitors.

  • Hybridfox – to manage multiple cloud environments
  • CloudSmart - to automate infrastructure and application provisioning in cloud
  • CloudBuddy Personal - to easily manage S3 and monitor multiple AWS accounts
  • CloudBuddy Retail – to ease cloud storage for consumers
  • CloudBuddy Enterprise – to facilitate cloud storage and file sharing among enterprise users
  • CloudVault – to archive emails in cloud with a built-in workflow
  • – to address the zone apex issue in cloud and traditional computing platforms
  • CloudBuddy Analytics – to provide analytics related to S3
  • EucaWatch – to monitor private cloud instances

What is CloudBuddy? Why do you call it cloud though it needs to be downloaded and is NOT browser based?

CloudBuddy is a suite of products comprising of a Personal, Retail & Enterprise version. It is CSS Corp's identity for our cloud related products & offerings. The CloudBuddy Personal is a tool that primarily allows a Cloud Administrator to effectively manage storage & computing cloud such as AWS S3, EC2 & Eucalyptus. It comes with various innovative Plug-in's such as S3 Websites, CloudFront, AWS EC2 dashboard...etc. The technology behind the CloudBuddy Personal plug-in architecture allows one to quickly develop and integrate various third party tools as plug-ins. The CloudBuddy Personal was developed as a Windows tool to exploit various native features of Windows. Also, it is a myth that a Cloud based tool should not be a desktop tool.

What is Hybridfox?

Hybridfox is a firexfox plug-in to manage multiple cloud computing technologies such as AWS EC2, Eucalyptus and OpenStack. It is one of the several open source tools from CSS Corp R&D Labs. Hybridfox has a wide industry acceptance and has crossed nearly 20,000 downloads so far. You can download it from

What is CSS Corp's vision for cloud for the next 12 months?

Our vision is to become a global leader in ICT related services and we have a strong foundation to do so. We have a very good track record of achieving our mission 100% referenceable customers as well.

Our vision for cloud computing is to become a global leader in the cloud computing system integrator space by bringing in various innovative solutions and lead successful cloud adoption for our customers.

CSS Corp is declared as the Winner of the Top 100 CISO Awards 2011. This means you have some specific information security related practices. Data Security & Privacy is a big concern for the Cloud hosted applications. How are you addressing this concern?

Yes, of course it is a big concern for our customers too. The way we handle security in general is by proactively deploying security measures such as IDS/IPS, Data Encryption, Backup, DR...etc for our customers. CSS Corp's innovative Cloud Enablement solution assures that the customer's information is protected to the maximum possible extent and to minimize the downtime of their application by the means of cloud deployment automation.

The year 2011 has witnessed almost all the big names failing in their services during a particular point in time. That resulted in major cloud outages like Amazon Web Services, Gmail, Microsoft's BPOS, Intuit, VMware Cloud Foundry etc. How reliable is the cloud?

Cloud Computing preaches Design For Failure and I believe it is fair to accept that anything in this world can and will fail. Having given an option to automate in the cloud computing technology paradigm, we should always make sure we are able to sustain the failures by devising proper DR strategies that are automated to a great extent. Cloud computing as a technology is more reliable but we need to make sure the solution providers are implementing in the right way. As a cloud computing consumer, we should make sure that the required SLA's are met by the provider.

Students and fresher engineers are looking for a career in cloud computing. Where and how should they start?

I would say, cloud computing (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) is nothing but, a highly automated efficient data center providing self services based access to IT resources such as computing, storage, network, platform, applications and its related security. Students & Freshers should be learning cloud computing technology as an advancement of what they learn today rather than treating it as a separate subject. As a CSR activity at CSS Corp, under the banner of our Contributor Program, we provide a platform for fresh graduates to experiment with cloud technologies and add value to our existing solutions portfolio. My strong suggestion for the students would be to understand the basics in computer science in terms of networks, storage, computing, programming languages...etc thoroughly to excel themselves in the new computing arena.

Thanks you Ezhil for sharing your views with Techno-Pulse readers. Good Luck to you & CSS Corp team for future endeavors.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cloud Service Models - SaaS PaaS IaaS - Which One is for You?

Last week I was analyzing Google Analytics data of Techno-Pulse and found a few search keywords related to Cloud Service Models. It seems readers are looking for useful information on service models which can help them make decisions.  Though I’ve partially covered this topic in many posts, I’ll cover it here in a way that might help readers better understand and decide which cloud service model they should opt for.

SaaS Paas IaaS Techno-Toon

Cloud Service Models simply mean what type of services can be provided to customers. Different models cater to different kinds of requirements, and can achieve different business objectives. A simple search and you may find internet hits with dozens of Cloud * as a Service, where * can be replaced by any one of the following:

Desktop, Security, Data, Software, Platform, Infrastructure, IT, Testing, Hardware, Computing, Database, Storage etc.

All this is a bit confusing. As cloud computing is still evolving, the providers are free to innovate and offer various services, and there are no hard and fast rules governing these service offerings. So, let me simplify and put forward the most accepted type of Service Models, as defined by NIST (National institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce)

NIST identifies 3 Cloud Service Models in its Special Publication 800-146. This document has been prepared for use by Federal agencies. It may be used by nongovernmental organizations on a voluntary basis and is not subject to copyright. For attributions check Reference Section of this article.

SPI Service Models

  • SaaS (Software as a Service)
  • PaaS (Platform as a Service)
  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

NIST further defines these services in detail, the summary of which is provided below, with my own interpretation.


Here the consumer is free of any worries and hassles related to the service. The Service Provider has very high administrative control on the application and is responsible for update, deployment, maintenance and security. The provider exercises final authority over the application. For example, Gmail is a SaaS where Google is the provider and we are consumers. We have very limited administrative and user level control over it, although there is a limited range of actions, such as enabling priority inbox, signatures, undo send mail, etc, that the consumer can initiate through settings.

The following figure illustrates the relative levels of control between the provider and the subscriber – SaaS Component Stack and Scope of Control  - borrowed from the NIST document.

SaaS Component Stack and Scope of Control

Who are SaaS Subscribers?

Apart from organizations and enterprises, SaaS subscribers/users can also be individuals like you and me. In most of the cases the usage fee is calculated based on the number of users. For example, Google Apps is free up to 10 email accounts, but it charges $5 per user per month for – Google Apps for Business (more than 10 users)

When/Why should you opt for a SaaS?

When you want to focus on your business rather than wasting your time in replacing broken pieces of hardware, managing IT infrastructure, and the most critical of them all - hiring and retaining your IT staff etc.

Which SaaS should you opt for?

  • Best use of SaaS is in productivity and collaboration apps in the cloud like Google Apps, Online Project Management like DeskAway, Zoho Mail, Chat, Docs, Project, Sheet, Writer etc.
  • CRM apps – Impel CRM,, Microsoft Dynamics.
  • Cloud based Storage and Sharing services like Dropbox, Skydrive (windows live), Amazon S3, Google Docs,, Mozy.
  • SMEs/SMBs can opt for EazeWork (for HR, PayRoll and Sales)

Read More


In plain English, PaaS is a platform where software can be developed, tested and deployed, meaning the entire life cycle of a software can be operated on a PaaS. This service model is dedicated to application developers, testers, deployers and administrators. This service provides everything you need to develop a cloud SaaS application.

The following figure shows PaaS Component Stack and Scope of Control as defined by NIST:

PaaS Component Stack and Scope of Control

A PaaS typically includes the development environment, programming languages, compilers, testing tools and deployment mechanism. In some cases, like Google Apps Engine (GAE), the developers may download development environment and use them locally in the developer’s infrastructure, or the developer may access tools in the provider’s infrastructure through a browser.

Who are PaaS Subscribers?

ISV (Independent Software Vendors), IT Service providers or even individual developers who want to develop SaaS.

When/Why should you opt for a PaaS?

You focus only on developing the application, everything else will be taken care of by the platform.

Which PaaS should you opt for?

  • GAE is more popular with individual Java, Python developers.
  • Microsoft Windows Azure is targeting its pool of enterprise class users. ASP.Net (C#, VB.Net) developers will find easy to adopt it.
  • Amazon has also moved one stack up to offer its PaaS – Beanstalk (one more option for Java developers)
  • A few of the India based PaaS providers like OrangeScape and Wolf frameworks are making waves for their 5G visual PaaS. OrangeScape apps can run on all the major cloud platforms - Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, IBM SmartCloud, Amazon EC2 or data center- without having to rewrite applications.
  • Engine Yard and Heroku are leading cloud PaaS for Ruby on Rails (RoR). Heroku (acquired by is also a preferred PaaS for Facebook apps creation.
  • PHP developers can choose between PHP Fog and CloudControl.
  • For a multi-language application platform explore DotCloud.
  • India based Ozonetel Systems offers KooKoo PaaS for cloud telephony service.

Read More


Do you require virtual computers, cloud storage, network infrastructure components such as firewalls and configuration services? IaaS is what you should opt for. The System Administrators are the subscriber of this service. Usage fees are calculated per CPU hour, data GB stored per hour, network bandwidth consumed, network infrastructure used per hour, value added services used, e.g., monitoring, auto-scaling etc.

The following figure shows IaaS Component Stack and Scope of Control as defined by NIST:

IaaS Component Stack and Scope of Control

Who are IaaS Subscribers?

Are you aware of Farmville and Mafia Wars? Yes, these are the most popular Facebook games created by It has more than 230 million monthly users run more than 12000 servers on Amazon AWS. When they launch a new game, they start with a few servers and then ramp up their capacity in real time.

To prevent the DDOS attack on its servers, the controversial Wikileaks was hosted on Amazon AWS. Now it seems it has moved back to a Swedish host.

Most important among the lot are SaaS and PaaS Players who are hosted with IaaS providers.

India based online ticketing service redBus. For details read the Case study What  IRCTC can learn from redBus cloud implementation.

When/Why should you opt for an IaaS?

Very useful for startup companies who don’t know how successful their newly launched application/website will be.

You have the choice of multiple Operating System, Platforms, Databases and Content Delivery Network (CDN) – all in one place.

Note - Due to economic reasons currently it may not be advisable to host a static website with less than 10,000 visits/month on an IaaS. This may cost you around $18/month on Amazon AWS (Source:  An AWS presentation, Jan 2011)

Which IaaS should you opt for?

Amzon is the pioneer of IaaS. Other leading providers are Rackspace, GoGrid, Joyent, Rightscale and Terremark (bought by Verizon)

For India based IaaS – explore the following providers:

  • NetMagic Solutions
  • InstaCompute (from Tata Communications)

Read More

Are you still thinking which service model is right for you? Feel free to share your query in the comment section.


NIST Cloud Computing Synopsis and Recommendations - Special Publication 800-146

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why Consider Hosted Email Security?

Hosted-Email-Security When it comes to email security an organization has the option of going for two different approaches. It can either go for an off-the-shelf solution, which it implements on its own infrastructure, or it can decide to employ a cloud based solution. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, however in this article we will focus on the advantages a hosted email security solution provides in terms of security.

The first clear advantage of a hosted email security system is that your business will not require security expertise to protect your mail infrastructure. When buying an email security product to deploy on your server, you need to ensure that it is then installed in a secure manner and configured correctly for it to be fully effective. Although most modern products are easy to configure, you will still need an administrator that has a good grasp of the security concepts involved to ensure that no combination of events will lead to a security break down. Systems administrators trained in security can be hard to find and cost the company a good amount of money. Hosted email security solutions offload this burden leaving you with a peace of mind knowing that the email security infrastructure is well deployed and properly configured by professionals who have the necessary skills and work for a reputable hosted email security service.

When using a hosted email security service, any malware sent by email to your organization will be filtered at your service provider – this means that practically no malware will ever reach your organization. This has some clear advantages over having no email security at all because in such a case the malware will find itself in your users’ mailboxes; which is a high risk for the organization because someone might run the malware and infect the entire network. As for running your own mail security, there are also some small advantages here. In the event of a mis-configured solution, or even a solution lacking some features which requires additional modules to be purchased, there might be a small risk of malware getting through your organization’s defenses and even if your security solution would block and quarantine such malware, the administrator may execute the file by mistake while investigating the malware – human error that could prove cost. The risk is quite low but still it is a risk which a hosted email security solution would eliminate or, at the very least, reduce further.

Most hosted email security solutions operate as a gateway between the internet and your infrastructure in terms of email service. This means that one will still need to run his/her own mail server infrastructure. That being said however, when using a hosted email security solution, one can configure the firewall or the mail server itself to only allow connections from your service provider. This will protect your infrastructure from attacks by malicious hackers or spammers looking for servers to exploit for their spam distribution. Your server will be protected against these individuals because they will not have any access to your mail server, whereas if you were running your own infrastructure you would not be able to restrict access to any specific IP.

Email security, like other systems, needs to be kept up-to-date to be fully effective. You would need to run regular patching and upgrading to new versions as they are released by the vendor. This is not always feasible as it can be both expensive to buy the latest versions or to pay for maintenance agreements and because of resistance to change from the administrators and management. Both parties can resist upgrades for the same reasons; mainly a fear that upgrading can cause issues with a perfectly working system that could lead to downtime and financial or reputation losses.

There are various techniques email security systems use to protect your email. Some of these depend on training the system on contemporary spam and malware. Hosted email security solutions have a distinct advantage in this area in that they can get access to a wider variety of malware samples and spam to keep their systems up to date in terms of training than any other single organization ever can.

Although in this article we have gone through the different advantages a hosted solution would offer in terms of email security, there is no single solution that fits everyone’s needs. It is entirely up to you to decide what email security model you want to employ, depending on your budget and business requirements.

This guest post was provided by Emmanuel Carabott on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. More information on GFI hosted email security.

All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Check Guest Post Guidelines of Techno-Pulse

Saturday, May 14, 2011

India Based Cloud Computing Companies to Watch in 2011/12

After approximately two years of publishing a static list of India Based Cloud Computing Service Providers, readers have been requesting an updated list, and I felt the cloud ecosystem in India has experienced enough changes to justify revamping my earlier one. Following is the new, improved list.

Editorial Note:

  • Errors and Omissions excepted (E&OE). Contact via twitter @SinghBasant or through Techno-Pulse contact page
  • A few cloud companies featured in the earlier list have been removed due to lack of information or activity during the past two years.
  • Despite having been covered by Forbes India (print edition), the official websites of both ABS, Bangalore ( and Nu Street Technologies, Chennai ( don’t contain enough useful information about their services for me to include them on the list. So, I’ve not included them.
  • Similarly, Hyderbad based Trillion IT Solutions had a good response during CloudCamp India tour 2011, but I am unable to find sufficient information about their Cloud Services on their official website (yet to launch it seems).
  • There are also a few companies which many of us associate with India due to their significant presence here (including having multiple development centers, etc) and also, perhaps more importantly, the presence of a significant number of Indians in leadership positions (including founder and CEO). A few examples include Zoho, Kaavo, Navatar, Impetus, CSS Corp. These companies are not included on the list because, despite all appearances, they are headquartered in the USA.

List of India Based Cloud Computing Companies – Techno-Pulse Top 12

Order – Alphabetical







  • AppsOnAzure - PaaS


Cloud based application infrastructure using Microsoft Azure as the platform. I am yet to explore the details.


  • Cloud Enabler


Cloud related services such as:

  • Migration
  • Deployment
  • Planning
  • Consulting


  • CtrlS Cloud - IaaS


On-Demand Private Cloud.

  • 99.995% uptime
  • Tier 4 datacenter


  • EazeHR - SaaS
  • EazePayroll - SaaS
  • EazeSales - SaaS


Cloud SaaS for SMEs/SMBs.

NetMagic Solutions

  • Cloud 2.0
  • CloudNet
  • CloudServe
  • PrivateCloud


A front runner in the Indian IaaS space.


  • OrangeScape Studio - PaaS


USP - Visual PaaS.

Ozonetel Systems
  • KooKooPaaS
  • CTS - SaaS
Hyderabad In India it has definitely a first-mover advantage in cloud telephony services (CTS)

PK4 Software

  • Impel CRM - SaaS


USP – a non-western CRM for India.


  • Ramco OnDemand - SaaS


An early mover in SaaS. An ERP on the cloud.


  • Remindo - SaaS


Your company branded official social media tool in cloud (Still in Beta, free – up to 20 users)


  • DeskAway - SaaS


Cloud based project management.

Tata Communications

  • InstaCompute - IaaS
  • InstaOffice - SaaS


Data Centers located at Hyderabad, Singapore

InstaOffice is powered by GoogleApps


  • iON - ITaaS


Covers the entire spectrum of business processes for SMBs. Domains:

  • Manufacturing
  • Welness
  • Retail
  • Education

Wolf Frameworks

  • Wolf PaaS


Cloud PaaS with 99.97% SLA.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

30+ Google Cloud Computing Services for You

Although I am a Microsoft.Net developer, I am also a Google fan - one who is amazed at Google’s grand vision for cloud computing! Interestingly, starting from the most fundamental layer of web, i.e., domain name system (DNS) look-up, to more sophisticated search and productivity apps, it has a significant presence everywhere. Ten years back, even savvy computer users would have found it difficult to believe that Google could offer such a wide array of efficient services to millions of consumers so cheaply, or, in some cases, even for free.

Below is a list and brief description of the Google Cloud Services that can be consumed by an individual, small office home office (SOHO), or a micro business to achieve the desired efficiency in day to day activities. I am a consumer of most of the services mentioned here.


What exactly is Google's cloud?

I borrowed the following paragraph (in olive, italics) from BusinessWeek

“It's a network made of hundreds of thousands, or by some estimates 1 million, cheap servers, each not much more powerful than the PCs we have in our homes. It stores staggering amounts of data, including numerous copies of the World Wide Web. This makes search faster, helping ferret out answers to billions of queries in a fraction of a second. Unlike many traditional supercomputers, Google's system never ages. When its individual pieces die, usually after about three years, engineers pluck them out and replace them with new, faster boxes. This means the cloud regenerates as it grows, almost like a living thing.”

What should a Consumer Expect from any Cloud Service?

  • Data should be available irrespective of his or her location
  • Data should move seamlessly between devices (notebook, mobile phone, desktop, laptop)
  • Data should be secure
  • If needed, collaboration should be faster
  • There should be higher reliability and uptime
  • There should be extensive flexibility and control of data
  • The cloud service should be less expensive than the traditional way of achieving similar results(Google’s economies of scale)

What are Google Cloud Services?

Apart from the extremely popular Google Search, Gmail, Chrome browser and Android OS there are various Cloud services from Google. Most of these services can be categorized under SaaS (Software as a Service) and are free. A few, like Google Maps, are free only for non-commercial use. For details on the services described below, please read Google’s Terms of Services associated with each service.

Let us start from the basic services, in a random order.

Google Public DNS

Announced on December 3, 2009, Google Public DNS is a free, global Domain Name System (DNS) resolution service. It aims to make the web faster and more secured.

The Google Public DNS IP addresses are as follows:


To know more: Compare Google Public DNS, OpenDNS & ISP DNS.

Page Speed Online

Page Speed Online is for the web masters. It analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster. Page Speed Online is also suitable for mobile websites, i.e., it gives you suggestions specific to mobile optimization.

Google Places     

Its tag line is Get your business found on Google. Google Places is Google’s directory of businesses.

How many times have you used the good old Yellow Pages in the last year? Most of you may answer - never. The upcoming Facebook and Twitter generation may not even have heard of the Yellow Pages. Google Places is the new Yellow Pages, but unlike the Yellow Pages it’s free to businesses and online. To give a Google booster to your business, simply add your business and claim it.

Google Offers

After a recent failed attempt at acquiring the daily-deal site Groupon, Google responded with Google Offers. Google is already building a network of local merchants through Google Places, so it looks like Google Offers was the missing link. Offers started with a beta version in Portland, Oregon (US), on April 20, 2011.

As of the writing of this article, apart from Portland, the deals are available for five locations only: New York City Downtown, New York City Midtown, New York City Uptown, Oakland-East Bay and San Francisco (the last two are in California).

Note: Google also launched Google Earth Builder on April 20, 2011 but Google Earth Builder is not discussed here as it is an enterprise oriented application.

Google Checkout

This is an online payment processing service provided by Google. I have used Google Checkout since September 2009 for various payments, including:

I find this service hassle free, fast and easy to use as the basic information (like credit card number and shipping address) is stored by Google in the user’s account. Moreover, you can view your receipts online with all the details – anytime, anywhere.

Google’s fraud protection policy covers you against any unauthorized purchases. For online transactions, I must trust someone and I trust Google more than any other entity.

The above description describes the buyer’s experience. If you want to sell something online, check out Google Checkout for Merchants. This service charges a nominal fee per transaction (Ranges from 1.9% to 2.9% +$0.30)

Google Profile

You can use your Google account to create a publicly accessible profile in Google Profile. Like a LinkedIn or Facebook profile, this also appears in Google search if someone searches for your name. This profile represents you in the different Google products and services like Blogger, Buzz and +1 services etc.

Google +1

Google’s answer to the Facebook Like button, this service lets you vote for your favorite search results. You must have a Google Profile to use Google + 1, and the service is still in Labs so to use it, you must activate it here.

With integration of social signals into search parameters, I’m hoping this service will make Google search more relevant and efficient.

Google 1Service

Google Maps

Which service should you use to find places, get driving directions and explore street-level imagery?

Simply visit Google Maps. Type a location or business into the search box and click Search Maps.

Google Translate

Willy Brandt, a former German chancellor, once said:

"If I'm selling to you, I speak your language. If I'm buying, dann muessen Sie Deutsch sprechen [then you must speak German]."

The above statement highlights the importance of multi-language support in your site/blog. Google Translate is a free machine translation service supporting 50 languages. My personal experience (while using it for English to Hindi translation and vice-versa) is that the translation quality is not at all satisfactory and the software needs improvement.

Read more about Google Translate Widget, a website translator gadget powered by Google translate.

Google Transliterate

Converting a given written text from one script to another is called transliteration. Currently Google Transliterate supports 25 languages. The same application programming interface (API) is used for Blogger, Gmail, Orkut ,etc. You can use this API for your website as well.

Webmaster Tools

This is an absolutely free tool for webmasters. You can register your blog/website to get feedback from Google Webmaster Tools regarding:

  • Keywords
  • Indexing
  • Broken links
  • HTML suggestions
  • Sitelinks,
  • Crawl errors
  • Malware
  • Robots.txt etc.

Google Analytics (GA)

Unlike the webmaster tool described above, which is aimed at webmasters, GA is targeted at internet marketers. GA is one of my favorite services and I use it to know the following details about my blog:

  • Detailed statistics about the visitors
    • Country, City level tracking of the visitor
    • Operating System, Browser, Screen Resolution
    • Connection Speed, Service providers etc.
  • Detailed statisticsts of mobile devices and carriers used to access my blog.
  • Traffic Sources
    • Direct traffic
    • Search Engine
    • Referring Sites.
  • Details about AdSense
    • Top AdSense Content
    • Top AdSense Referrers
    • AdSense Trending etc.
  • Adword campaign details, Keyword positions etc

(See below for an explanation of AdSense and AdWords.)

Google Trends

As the name suggests it’s a service to determine the frequency of a particular search term on web. Wikipedia defines it as public web facility based on Google Search, that shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages. Check Google Trends.

Google Insights for Search

You can compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties. It’s an excellent tool for extensive Keyword Research. Also it is more feature rich and advanced than Google trends. Check Google Insights.

Google Alerts

Although this is the simplest, it is one of my favorite apps.  Google Alerts is a monitoring service, your online postman who dutifully delivers email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query. You can determine the frequency of updates.

Example - If you are interested in knowing about cloud computing, just create your alert here with the search term “cloud computing”. Or, if you are interested in knowing what others are saying about you online, you can create an alert with your “name” as the search term.

Google Reader

Read your favorite blogs/websites all in one place on Google Reader.

  • Stay up to date
  • Share with your friends
  • Use it anywhere, for free

Website Optimizer

I’ve not used this personally. This service looks like Google Analytics but a little more detailed. Google’s official site informs me that it can be used to create experiments with any element that exists as HTML code (fonts, headlines, forms etc). Based on your experiments, you can create a landing page to achieve a significant increase in your conversion rate.

Google Cloud Connect

Do you need online collaboration ability in MS-Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel)? You can share your word file right from your desktop to your team members with View only or Edit permission.  You just need to install a light weight (less than 30 sec on a broadband connection) Google Cloud Connect Plug-in to your desktop which has pre-installed MS Office 2003, 2007 or 2010. Local edits are synced back with the web version. Others who are working on the same doc can download and make their own edits. Google Docs stores all versions of the file. Google Cloud Connect is flawless and works like a charm!


P.S. - You can only edit docs locally from your computer, not online from Google Docs. The web version is a Read-Only.

Google Cloud Print

Google Cloud Print’s official page informs us:

“It is built on the idea that printing can be more intuitive, accessible, and useful. Using Google Cloud Print you can make your printers available to you from any Google Cloud Print enabled web, desktop or mobile app. To get started printing using Google Cloud Print, connect a printer to your account. Google supports both cloud ready and classic printers.”

Currently it works only with Chrome OS, Gmail for mobile and Google Docs for mobile.


A customizable Ajax-based start page or personal web portal - with a handy drag and drop interface you can organize news, photos, weather and stuff from your favorite blogs at one place.

Google News

This is an automated news aggregator. According to Wikipedia, the service is available in 19 languages (I guess now this number has increased). The English language service aggregates news from 4500 different sites. It supports four Indian languages Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Visit Google News.


Regular readers of this blog may be aware that this blog is hosted on Blogger with a custom domain. The only price I’ve paid is for a custom domain name, which I bought through Google Checkout ($10/Year). There are no hosting charges. I monitored Techno-Pulse’s uptime through Monitis, from different locations of the world for a couple of months and the uptime average was 99%. The uptime for Techno-Pulse at different locations in the US on most of the days was 100%!

Based on my monitoring, is uptime for this service somewhere near the much discussed five nines (99.999%) availability?

And who says Blogger blogs are less search engine (SE) optimized than WordPress Blogs? In the month of March, I got almost 80% of my approximately 13,000 visitors (PageViews 22000) from Google.

P.S. – My blog has approximately 60 articles (excluding static pages like About Me, Contact, etc).

Google App Engine(GAE)

This is useful for developers. It is a Platform as a Service(PaaS) for developing and hosting web applications in Google-managed data centers. Currently, it supports Python and Java (by extension other JVM languages are also supported). Google App Engine is free, but only up to a certain level of used resources.

Check out this much talked Royal Wedding site, powered by GAE.

Google Docs

In plain English, you can call this an SaaS (Software as a Service) adaptation of your desktop based office suite. It helps in providing faster, and real-time, collaboration as it can be accessed from any connected device. You can upload files up to 1024 MB. Interestingly, your storage space is also 1024 MB (= 1GB). How do I use this?

  • I’ve conducted a few CEO Interviews for Techno-Pulse using Google Docs. I share the questionnaire doc with edit permission granted to the eMail Id of the interviewee. In this way I can ask follow-up questions as well, because both of us are working on the same doc.
  • I’ve uploaded one PDF and one Presentation file to my Google Docs. I’ve linked these files with my post Download - Cloud Introduction Presentation. Whenever a user clicks the download link at the post, he or she is redirected to the Google docs page of that specific PDF/Presentation file. From here, he or she can easily download the desired file. As these files are marked “Public on the Web” anyone can view or download them without any sign-in required.
  • I’ve also used Google Docs Forms to capture information from a user in one of my posts, namely Cloud Computing Directory. The user fills up and submits the form. Immediately after a successful form submission, a few things happen behind the scenes:
  1. The Spreadsheet linked with the form is updated with user submitted data.
  2. I get an email update (that someone has edited the spread-sheet)
  3. If I wish I can also integrate (publish as a web page or embed as HTML or CSV or PDF) the above spreadsheet with any website/blog and redirect the user so that he can view the submitted data. All this can be achieved without a single line of code.

Google Site

An individual or micro business can have their website on free Google Site. Buy a custom domain through any registrar and configure (change the CNAME records) it to use with Google Site. It provides 100 MB of storage (for free account). Check this site powered by Google Site.

Picasa Web Albums (PWA)

PWA is a photo sharing web site, similar to Flickr. With a free account, it allows you to store and share 1GB of photos. Blogger implicitly stores its images at PWA.

Google Calendar

Manage and organize your schedule hassle free. Google’s official website provides the following reasons to use Google Calendar and I fully agree with it:

  • Share your schedule
  • Get your calendar on the go
  • Never forget another event again
  • Send invitations and track RSVPs
  • Sync with your desktop applications


Explore this if you want to advertise your product on different websites or blogs. Advanced users can explore DoubleClick for Advertisers.


It’s the most popular contextual advertising system on the Internet. You must apply and get an approval to start using it. Explore this if you own a website or blog. Do remember that to earn something from this program high traffic is a pre requisite. To give you an idea, apply for this only if you have a daily traffic of at least 150 unique visits. Advanced users can explore DoubleClick for Publishers.


Does this need any introduction?

This Video sharing site was acquired by Google in November 2006 for $1.65 billion, and now operates as a subsidiary of Google.

You can also explore

  • Video (Irrelevant after YouTube acquisition)
  • Orkut (Looks like everyone has migrated from here to… Facebook)
  • Buzz (Nothing can create a buzz like Twitter)
  • Wave (Too late to explore - it’s dead)

What is the Core of Google Cloud?

Google Apps – The plethora of apps available here simply confuses a common user. If you own a domain name, you can get started with this service by updating the MX records (DNS management section) to Google’s mail servers. These settings are available when you log-in to your dashboard at your domain name provider’s portal.

But the simplest way to get started is by buying a custom domain from Google apps ($10/Year). This way you can have Google Apps (Free) which supports the following apps:

For Google Apps (Free): Maximum number of users (or eMail Ids allowed) = 50

Messaging Apps

Gmail, Google calendar

collaboration Apps

Google docs, Google Sites

Other Google Apps

Google Reader, Blogger, Picasa Web Albums, AdWords etc

With All of these Choices, What About Security in the Cloud?

Cloud services are always under suspicion when it comes to security. Also, we hear about online theft almost on a regular basis. But I feel 100% protected while using Google Services. Why?

Because even if I give my account password to you, I know you cannot sign-in to my account.

I have enabled the newly launched Google’s 2 step verification for my account. Now a hacker will require something more than just my password to hack into my account. Also, Google Apps have been independently verified and have been issued SAS 70 Type II audit certification to verify confidentiality, integrity and availability of customer data.

Please share your experience with Google Cloud. Did you like this? Spread the word. +1, Tweet or Like

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