Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Times’ Blackwater-Air Force Conspiracy

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The Times’ Blackwater-Air Force Conspiracy

Riechers_cdIn what may be the most bizarre article I’ve read all year, a New York Times op-ed draws a connection between Charles Riechers, the Air Force official who committed suicide last week, andBlackwater USA, the controversial military contractor:

As it happens, [Riechers] was only about three degrees of separation from Blackwater. His Pentagon job, managing a $30 billion Air Force procurement budget, had been previously held by an officer named Darleen Druyun, who in 2004 was sentenced to nine months in prison for securing jobs for herself, her daughter and her son-in-law at Boeing while favoring the company with billions of dollars of contracts. Ms. Druyun’s Pentagon post remained vacant until Mr. Riechers was appointed. He was brought in to clean up the corruption.

The connection to Blackwater? Bear with me here. The writer, Frank Rich, connects disparate dots worthy of the best tin-foil hat conspiracies. First he draws a line from former Pentagon Inspector General, Joseph Schmitz, who, by some accounts, did a crappy job investigating the Air Force/Boeing lease deal (um, he couldn’t locate the former Pentagon acquisition czar; I think someones asked him if he tried the phone book). Anyhow, I digress. Schmitz then exited the Pentagon, joining up with Prince Holdings, parent company of Blackwater. We assume that makes Schmitz bad, because Blackwater is accused of killing civilians. No Riechers, but wait, I’m getting there….

Well, the only connection is that Pentagon IG investigated the Air Force (yeah, that’s the IG’s job!), and then he went to work for Blackwater. And Riechers worked for the Air Force (a couple years after Schmitz left). Get it? They were practically brothers!

Why didn’t someone just make that final "seven-degrees of separation" connection: Schmitz, for those who don’t read US Weekly, is the brother of Mary Kay Letourneau, the ultra-hot high school teacher who was jailed for sleeping with her under-age student. Betcha didn’t know that! Actually, that’s only four degrees, so that would mean Riechers is linked to Letourneau as well.

Let me be clear. Darleen Druyun is a convicted criminal. Blackwater stands accused of killing civilians in Iraq. Schmitz, according to critics, may (or may not) be guilty of being a lousy IG (and the sister thing definitely isn’t his fault, though it must make for some awkward family reunions). The "epic corruption" in Iraq is well documented. What Charles Riechers — an Air Force official with no known affiliation to any of these characters — has to do with any of this is unclear.

In the meantime, no newspaper, from what I can see, has pointed out the original page one article in theWashington Post on Riechers, under the title "Air Force Arranged No Work Contract," was misleading, perhaps because the writer didn’t understand science and technology assistance contracts. It wasn’t a "no work contract" because the contractor provides technical assistance to the Defense Department).

If Riechers weren’t dead, the whole thing would be laughable

The Knights Templar, Knights of Malta and Blackwater’s Erik Prince

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The Knights Templar, Knights of Malta and Blackwater’s Erik Prince

By Mitch Cumstein

In a declaration under the penalty of purjury, a former employee of Erik Prince’s Blackwater defense contracting firm said Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe.”

The accuser, only known as John Doe #2 in court documents because he claims he has been threatened with “death and violence” by managers of Prince’s company, wrote that “Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Chrisian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.”

This mention of the Knights Templar is an interesting one because it shifts the focus of Iraq from a quest for oil to that of a holy war. Remember when Pres. Bush got laughs for referring to the “war on terror” as a “crusade.” And this isn’t the only time Prince and his company Blackwater have been linked, albeit tenuously, with these shadow elements of the Catholic church and Christian fundamentalists.

The European Parliament published a report by Giovanni Claudio Fava, a Socialist Group legislator, claiming that there are connections between Blackwater and Malta. Malta is where the Knights of Malta, another right-wing element of the Catholic Church similar to the Knights Templar, once lived and still maintain control of Fort St. Angelo.

The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill has also written about connections between Prince, Malta and Pres. Bush’s rendition program in which terrorist suspects were sent to other countries for the purpose of torture. The program, according to Scahill was run by Cofer Black, who is allegedly a Knight of Malta himself and used Malta in the rendition program.

Black is the current vice chairman for Blackwater. At the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC, Black was director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center.

According to a referenced Wikipedia entry:

[Black] was the United States Department of State coordinator for counterterrorism with the rank of ambassador at large from December 2002 to November 2004. After leaving public service, Black became chairman of the privately owned intelligence gathering company Total Intelligence Solutions, Inc., as well as vice chairman for Xe.

Xe is the current name of Blackwater and Total Intelligence Solutions has been dubbed as Prince’s private CIA.

But all of this “evidence” is largely hearsay and circumstantial at best. The reason for this could be that a common thread between the Knights Templare, the Knights of Malta and Blackwater is that there appears to be a concerted effort to confuse and obfiscate exactly what these groups are doing, or whether they’re even separate entities.

One tactic Prince employs to confuse people is setting up several supposedly different corporate entities. According John Doe #2, “[T]he various Price companies did not observe any corporate formalities or otherwise operate any of the Prince companies as independent entities. Instead, the Prince companies all operated as a single company.”

One of those companies is Greystone Limited headquartered in Barbados where Prince can avoid paying taxes and government scrutiny. The Virginia Pilot published a story last month stating that Greystone was operating in Iraq working for the International Republican Institute. The IRI is funded by the US government. After the slaughter of innocent Iraqis on Sept. 16, 2007 in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square by Blackwater employees, according to a court case filed against Blackwater, Blackwater was banned from operating in Iraq by the Iraqi government. And when Blackwater’s contract expired earlier this year, it was not renewed by the US State department, yet, Blackwater, under the name of Greystone Limited still operates in Iraq today.

There’s no definitive proof that Prince, Bush, Knights Templar or the Knights of Malta are conspiring to wage a modern-day crusade, but there’s something going on here, and it’s certainly worth an intensive investigation by the Dept. of Justice. This might be happening, as court documents trickle out of the US District Court in Virginia indicate. However, it’s illegal for the Dept. of Justice to speak about whether there even is an investigation, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

The US District court has consolidated five cases against Prince and his various companies into one. The cases accuse Prince of murder, conspiracy, gun smuggling, child prostitution, war crimes and waging a crusade against Islam for the purpose of global Christian supremacy. Tomorrow there’s a court date scheduled, so stay tuned, this could get really interesting really quick.

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Conservative Origins and Connections

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Conservative Origins and Connections

Prince was born into right-wing politics with an ideological bent. His father, Edgar Prince, was the head of a Michigan auto-parts company that, after his death in 1996, was sold for more than $1 billion. Edgar Prince, like his son after him, supported a bevy of right-wing causes, bankrolling the nation's most powerful Christian Right organizations and pouring money into the Republican Party.

The hard right surrounded young Prince nearly all his life. The area he grew up in Michigan was known for another massively rich corporate family with a record of funding right-wing causes and candidates: the DeVos family, which made its considerable fortune from its Amway empire (which, despite a Federal Trade Commission ruling stating otherwise, is still called a glorified pyramid scheme by detractors).

The ties between the two like-minded clans were solidified when Erik Prince's sister, Betsy, married into the family of the other local right-wing patrons. The DeVos family, she declared in 1997 in the Roll Call daily, "is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party." In his book,Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Scahill noted that Amway "would rise to become one of the greatest corporate contributors in the U.S. electoral process in the 1990s, mostly to Republican candidates and causes" (4).

Edgar Prince, who, according to Religious Right luminary and friend Gary Bauer, committed himself to Jesus Christ after a heart attack in the 1970's, set the standard for right wing philanthropy for the family (5). Edgar was instrumental in helping Bauer set up the Christian Right think tank and lobby group Family Research Council (F.R.C.). The Princes also have close ties to James Dobson, who was on the founding board of F.R.C. Dobson, a child psychologist and perhaps the most powerful figure of the Christian Right today, runs Focus on the Family, which has benefited from the Princes' lavish spending. Even after Edgar's death in 1995—at his funeral, both Bauer and Dobson eulogized him—the family held tight to the two organizations. Edgar's wife, Elsa, has served on both boards. She runs (and Erik serves as vice president for) the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, which gave at least $670,000 to F.R.C. and $500,00 to Focus on the Family from 2003 to 2006, according to (6). F.R.C. and Focus on the Family both support President George W. Bush, giving him unmitigated support and receiving high levels of access in return.

As Scahill pointedly says in his book, "If there was one lesson Edgar Prince was poised to impart on his children, it was how to build and maintain an empire based on strict Christian values, right-wing politics, and free-market economics" (7).

In the last 20 years, Erik Prince has given more than $230,000 dollars to G.O.P. candidates and conservative political action committees (8). The list of candidates to whom he has donated reads like a who's who of the far right of Washington elites: George W. Bush, Pat Buchanan, Senator Tom Coburn (Republican of Oklahoma), former Senator Rick Santorum (Republican of Pennsylvania), the late Senator Jesse Helms (Republican of North Carolina), Representative Duncan Hunter (Republican of California), and former Representative Tom Delay (Republican of Texas). Through his Freiheit Foundation, he gave $500,000 to Prison Fellowship Ministries (9), which was founded by Nixon's chief counsel Chuck Colson, who spent time in prison for crimes related to the Watergate scandal and converted to Evangelical Christianity while behind bars. In 2000, Prince also gave $30,000 to the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think tank that pushed for the invasion of Iraq and, via a revolving door with government, has unprecedented access to the Bush administration (10).

But more than just money, Prince has also given his time to right-wing causes and came of age within and among them. He had initially gone to the Naval Academy to earn his undergraduate degree, but he transferred to Hillsdale College in Michigan, a Christian-oriented school that Newsweek called "an institution with an almost Ayn Rand-like faith in free markets" (11). Though Prince liked the Navy, one of his professors at Hillsdale said that Prince had found the academy "insufficiently tough and conservative," in the words of Newsweek (Prince denied the comments). Prince interned at both F.C.R. (becoming one of their first college interns) (12) and at the George H. W. Bush White House, where he did a six-month stint (13). His burgeoning right-wing worldview was revealed in an interview he gave about the experience at the White House shortly after leaving, telling the Grand Rapids Press that he saw things there he didn't agree with, such as gay groups being invited into the White House, a budget agreement that raised taxes, and the passage of the Clean Air Act, which regulated pollution and cost businesses money (14).

The Mercenary Business

But businessmen with ties to the G.O.P. and conservative ideologies and pedigrees are not uncommon. What makes Prince special is the confluence of his ideologies in his business—Blackwater.

The two most readily discernable right-wing ideologies behind Prince and Blackwater are clearly militarism and privatization; it is, after all, a private military company.

As far as privatization goes, Blackwater depends on government outfits like the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (D.S.S.) to fall by the wayside so that the North Carolina-based mercenary outfit can pick up State contracts to do D.S.S.'s old job—guard American diplomats abroad. Protecting American interests, notably people in war zones, is how Blackwater built its business. As of late 2007, the company had lost none of its protected charges in either Iraq or Afghanistan, both places where they have a heavy presence (Blackwater's force in Iraq is two-thirds of what D.S.S. has in total around the globe) (15). But its services have not been without controversy.

Last September, Blackwater mercenaries gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians when a Blackwater-protected State convoy ran into traffic at Nisour Square in Baghdad. In a stark and troubling sign of Blackwater's usurpation of government responsibilities, it was reported that a Blackwater employee was allowed to write the initial State Department report on the incident, which—contradicting later reports, most notably the Iraqi government's—cited gunfire from the crowd as having set off the melee (16). An official with knowledge of the investigation subsequently told the New York Times that the incident had been characterized by chaos and confusion, including infighting between Blackwater employees when one of them did not heed a ceasefire call (17). Though the incident was neither the first nor last of reported Blackwater abuses, it was the first that garnered the attention of Congress. A hearing was called, and Prince, in line with Blackwater's previous statements, denied any wrongdoing. Absurdly, he even denied that Blackwater had shot and killed innocent civilians (18). None of the abuses, however, have been prosecuted either in Iraq—where American contractors enjoy immunity—or in the United States.

That immunity, however, is proving severely problematic as the Bush administration attempts to heal strained relations with it Iraqi allies, who remain outraged over the Nisour Square incident and other abuses committed by private security contractors. Contractor immunity, in fact, was one of the major holdups in United States-Iraqi negotiations for a controversial security agreement to replace the current United Nations mandate (19)

But given the hard-fought resistance to giving up contractor immunity—and the failure to prosecute alleged crimes upon return to the United States—some observers have begun to wonder if the private contractors haven't overtaken the American military in the Iraq pecking order. Pointing to a telling incident in which United States Army and Blackwater vehicles collided and Blackwater guards subsequently disarmed military personnel, researcher Madhavi Bhasin wrote, "The Iraqi Government has come to realize that the U.S. is attempting to run the Iraqi state through private contractors who cannot be held accountable for their misdeeds" (20).

Ideological Hodgepodge

Blackwater's tentacles into the world of right-wing ideology go well beyond the basics of militarism and privatization. Blackwater's chief operating officer Joseph Schmitz, for example, was involved in several controversies during his time as inspector general (I.G.) of the Defense Department. One of them, bizarrely, was his obsession with a Prussian Army officer who was a hero in the American Revolutionary War and whose motto—"Always Under the Protection of the Almighty"—Schmitz spent months working into a new logo for the I.G.'s office (21), with questionable disregard for the separation of church and state.

Schmitz, as the Pentagon's I.G., was responsible for defense contracts. His watch saw the largest increase in military contracting ever—certainly a boon to Blackwater's business. But in 2005, Schmitz resigned from the I.G. under pressure for malfeasance in his oversight—including questionably exonerating Iraq war architect Richard Perle for peddling his influence within the Pentagon (22). Though he may have lacked oversight, Schmitz was certainly not shortsighted. His Catholicism, ideological politics, and doling out of contracts to Blackwater surely helped his chances of getting a gig with Prince's outfit, which is where he landed the month after he resigned.

Another Blackwater figure with ideological underpinnings is Cofer Black, the head of Total Intelligence Solutions and former head of the C.I.A.'s Counterterrorism Center. While at the C.I.A. (where he worked until 2002), Black oversaw one of the Bush administration's forays into expanding the powers of the executive; many of those overreaches have been criticized for putting the executive branch above the law and beyond oversight. The program that Black was responsible for was no exception. According to Dana Priest of the Washington Post, under Black's watch the Counterterrorism Center ran the "extraordinary rendition" program in which suspects were kidnapped by the C.I.A., taken to secret "black sites," and interrogated with harsh methods that have given rise to accusations of torture (23). After 9/11, Black had famously told Congress that, "the gloves came off" (24). Perhaps, indeed, the gloves came off. And in addition to possibly conducting torture, those bare hands apparently also dialed up Blackwater—just two weeks after the attacks, Prince told Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, "The phone is ringing off the hook" (25).

A constant enemy of the aggressive economic right is taxation, and Blackwater Worldwide is no exception. In October 2007, Representative Henry Waxman (Democrat of California) sent a letter to Prince notifying him that there was evidence that "Blackwater may have engaged in significant tax evasion" (26). The question arose from Blackwater's classification of its armed guards as "independent contractors," for which the company is not responsible for taxes like Social Security and Medicare, "for which it is legally responsible." Waxman's letter noted that Blackwater's modus operandi was different than the two other military contractors doing private security for the State Department in Iraq, and that in at least one case, the Internal Revenue Service had deemed the independent contractor status as "without merit."

But that's not the only way Prince and Blackwater have apparently sought to shortchange the government, even as their cups runneth over with taxpayer money in the form of contracts. Scahill reports that Prince registered Greystone Limited, a new division of Blackwater, with the government in 2004. But unlike other Blackwater subsidiaries, Greystone was not incorporated in Virginia, North Carolina, or even the domestic tax haven of Delaware. Instead, wrote Scahill, "Greystone was registered offshore in the Caribbean island-nation of Barbados. It was duly classified by the U.S. government as a 'tax-exempt' 'corporate entity'" (27).

Though the offshore incorporation of Greystone happened in 2004, it was not until late 2007, just as the Nisour Square scandal broke, that Blackwater changed its name to reflect its global base and outreach, tweaking "Blackwater USA" to "Blackwater Worldwide"—a subtle change, but a meaningful one in light of Blackwater's increasing enterprises and growing scope. Bill Sizemore of the Virginian-Pilot reported that the name change coincided with significant expansions, citing Blackwater's desire for or recent foray into "a role providing private armed forces in support of international peacekeeping and nation-building operations," acquisition of "an oceangoing ship for training and potential paramilitary use," and a share of a federal "five-year federal counter narcotics contract that could be worth up to $15 billion" (28).

Sizemore also noted that Blackwater is expanding into the time-honored right-wing enterprise of traditional defense contractors—not training and private mercenary work, but rather weapons and equipment development, manufacturing, and sales. National Public Radio's Corey Flintoff reported last fall that Blackwater now provides everything "from bomb-sniffing dogs to drone reconnaissance aircraft" (29). Newsweek also reported that Blackwater "has a prototype of a spy blimp—an unmanned dirigible that could hover for days," and that Prince's "focus seems to be more on developing the latest high-tech gadgetry to sell to the government" (30).

'The Future of War'?

But Blackwater is going global in other new and troubling ways. Scahill devotes a whole chapter of his new book to "Blackwater's Man in Chile." This is the "real" vast right-wing conspiracy going international. Through extensive interviews with Blackwater's Latin-American recruiter himself, Scahill documents the relationship between Blackwater and Jose Miguel Pizarro Ovalle, the Chilean responsible for placing nearly 1,000 of his countrymen in Iraq under the employ of Blackwater. Pizarro is a passionate apologist for brutal right-wing Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the general who in 1973 led a C.I.A.-, United States government-, and multinational corporation-backed coup d'état to overthrow Chile's democratically elected socialist president, Salvador Allende.

In the congressional hearings last October, Prince tried to deflect accusations that his group is indeed a mercenary outfit. "People call us mercenaries," he told the committee. "We have Americans working for America protecting Americans," he said—omitting the fact that Blackwater employs non-Americans as well (31). A New York Times blog noted that Prince's answer is "in stark contrast to the Oxford English Dictionary definition: 'A professional soldier working for a foreign government.' But that's the second definition in The American Heritage Dictionary. Here's the first: 'Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain'" (32).

That is the essence of the problem with Blackwater. Scahill, an undisputed expert on Blackwater who has been called before Congress to testify about the mercenary group, quotes Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights: "The increasing use of contractors, private forces or as some would say 'mercenaries' makes wars easier to begin and to fight—it just takes money and not the citizenry" (33). In a time when the Right misled the people of America into a war in Iraq that appears to be based on neoconservative ideology and aggressive nationalist economic interest in oil, this is a particularly potent criticism of Prince's right-wing principles. As Scahill writes, the saga of Prince and Blackwater is "the living embodiment of the changes wrought by the revolution in military affairs and the privatization agenda radically expanded by the Bush administration under the guise of the war on terror. But more fundamentally, it is a story about the future of war, democracy, and governance" (34).

From Political Research Associates' Right Web.

Ali Gharib is a Washington, D.C.-based reporter. He contributes to P.R.A.'s Right Web and is also a writer for the Inter Press Service.

Blackwater: The Real 'Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy'?

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Blackwater: The Real 'Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy'?


Erik Prince of Blackwater Worldwide testifies on Oct. 2, 2007, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. D.C. (Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Businessmen with ties to the G.O.P. and right-wing ideologies and pedigrees are not uncommon. What makes Erik Prince special is the confluence of his core beliefs—militarism, right-wing Christianity, and privatization—in his controversial mercenary business, Blackwater Worldwide. At the center of a heated scandal over abuses committed by private military contractors in Iraq and elsewhere, Blackwater has begun to expand its business into intelligence gathering and a host of other security-related services. Its success is helping fill the coffers of some of the country's most influential conservative political figures and prompting some observers to call it the "future of war."

When Hillary Clinton coined the phrase "vast right-wing conspiracy" during her husband's presidency, she was referring only to the attacks against her husband—not to a rapidly expanding business of mercenaries and private spies whose largesse is helping fill the coffers of some of the country's most influential right-wing politicians. But such a phrase comes to mind when one considers Blackwater Worldwide and its founder and C.E.O., Erik Prince. The company and its leader are tied together in a dizzying mix of right-wing ideologies ranging from privatization and enthusiasm for an unchecked free market, to aggressive nationalistic militarism, the Christian Right, and the broad executive power they rely on for patronage.

Although already at the center of a heated controversy over the use of private military forces in Iraq and elsewhere, Blackwater has begun to expand its business into the realm of intelligence, as ardent Blackwater-watcher and journalist Jeremy Scahill reported last month in the Nation. The zealous privatization agenda of military-tied programs and the creation of what Scahill called "a structure paralleling the U.S. national security apparatus" converge in the new "private spy" mission of Total Intelligence Solutions—Blackwater's espionage subsidiary (1). Total Intelligence promises to bring "CIA-style" intelligence work to the boardrooms of mega-corporations and executive offices of foreign governments—probably among the few entities that can afford the heavy price tags associated with Blackwater services. In exchange for its massive fees, Total Intelligence Solutions delivers, according to its website, "surveillance and countersurveillance, deployed intelligence collection, and rapid safeguarding of employees or other key assets" (2).

Blackwater CEO Accused of Killing Witnesses

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Blackwater CEO Accused of Killing Witnesses
    by PRESS TV

Blackwater CEO Accused of Killing Witnesses(PHOTO Erik Prince, Founder and CEO of Blackwater Worldwide
(Aug 5, 2009) The lawsuit filed by Iraqis against the US contractor Blackwater takes turn with a former employee and a former US marine accusing the firm's owner of murder.
In sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia, the two testified that company owner and CEO Erik Prince may have murdered or arranged the murder of individuals cooperating with US federal authorities investigating the case.
"[Prince] views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," the former employee -- referred to as "John Doe 2" -- alleges in his statement.
"[Prince's] companies encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life," he adds.
Both men, whose identities were not disclosed for fear of their safety, allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq, One of them even claims that Prince profited from the "illegal" or "unlawful" transfer of weapons into Iraq on his private planes.

Pentagon CIFA Now; Blackwater Killers Tomorrow

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Pentagon CIFA Now; Blackwater Killers Tomorrow

Pentagon CIFA Now; Blackwater Killers Tomorrow"Is it possible Blackwater death squads will be lurking in your neighborhood, assassinating 'internal threats' as they confiscate legal firearms? No doubt we are one 'terrorist event' away from finding out."
How many Americans have "suspected ties to terrorist groups" and thus deserve "eavesdropping" as deemed appropriate by the BushCons?
It depends how you define "terrorist group." In Bushzarro world, "insider threats" emanate from the American populace, not al-CIA-duh terrorists, or rather a small number of Americans who are vocally opposed to the Iraq invasion and occupation.
As we now know, the Pentagon is in the business of collating "raw, unverified information picked up by the military services on suspicious activities that could involve terrorist threats," called "Talon reports," according to Walter Pincus of the Washington Post.
"The Pentagon acknowledged last week that the Talon database contained reports on peaceful civilian protests and demonstrations that should have been purged long ago under Defense Department regulations.

Phone OS 3.1: MMS & tethering via AT&T, Bluetooth file transfer

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Phone OS 3.1: MMS & tethering via AT&T, Bluetooth file transfer


iPhone OS 3.1: Modem Tethering usage

The iPhone Software 3.1 should enable MMS and modem tethering on AT&T's network. The Settings app will let you see how much tethering you've done.

With less than three weeks left to the AT&T’s self-imposed “late summer” deadline for MMS on iPhone, Apple is hastily putting the finishing touches to the iPhone Software 3.1. The update will enable MMS and modem tethering via AT&T’s cellular network, in addition to file transfers over Bluetooth and copy-pasting video files.

According to an unknown tipster, AT&T will enable MMS for iPhone users via the upcoming iPhone OS 3.1. Multiple online reports, based on developer beta seeds of the iPhone OS 3.1, confirm that the firmwareenables the MMS service and modem tethering over the AT&T’s cellular network, the two features that iPhone users around the world have been enjoying since the release of the iPhone OS 3.0.

The tethering feature will most likely require a separate AT&T tethering plan which should offer capped tethering data for a fixed monthly fee, unlike most non-U.S. carriers who count tethering data against a monthly data limit included in your iPhone plan. The iPhone OS 3.1 will also let you send and receive files (images, songs, videos, contacts, locations, etc.) via Bluetooth, the one feature that most phones, except the iPhone, have had for a long time.

9 to 5 Mac speculates that the firmware could enable other goodies, such as:

social networking of iTunes songs played, potentially a subscription-based streaming music service and more.

Apple Insider has learned that the iPhone OS 3.1 will officially support augmented reality applicationsvia the iPhone 3GS’ camera. The publication also discovered an “iProd 1,1″ reference in theUSBConfiguration.plist file of the firmware that usually indicates first-generation products like a rumored Apple tablet.

As Geek reported earlier, the iPhone OS 3.1 will also enable the VoiceControl feature over Bluetooth headsets (currently, spoken commands only work through the iPhone’s built-in microphone). You’ll be able to save video attachments to your photo album and save a copy of a trimmed clip on the iPhone 3G S without overwriting the original file. The software will apparently improve battery life on the iPhone 3G S, startup and shutdown times of applications, and the performance of OpenGL and Quartz graphic libraries. Expect the usual assortment of little touches, like a rumored anti-phishing Safari feature or the device vibrating when home screen icons are jiggling.

The iPhone OS 3.1 will be accompanied by an updated version of the SDK and Xcode 3.1.3 tools specifically designed to enable developers to tap Imagination’s PowerVR SGX GPU found in the iPhone 3G S, resulting in greater details and smoother frame rates in iPhone 3G S-optimized games.

Apple has seeded developers with the first beta of the iPhone OS 3.1 a little over two months ago, shortly after the iPhone 3G S hit stores nationwide. The third beta, labeled 7C116A, was released a month ago, indicating that the software is nearing the final release stage. With less than three weeks left before AT&T’s self-imposed “late summer” deadline for the MMS service (Autumn begins on September 22), Apple will probably release the iPhone software at the September 9 iPod event since it’ll be necessary to unlock the alleged camera and GPS hardware additions for the iPod touch.

A class action lawsuit filed at a Louisiana district court last month targeted both Apple and AT&T over the lack of MMS capability on iPhone, claiming that Apple should be made accountable for false advertising:

iphone Video editing is very basic (trimming, basically)

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Video editing is very basic (trimming, basically), but given that most phones don't have any form of video editing, it's hard to complain. It's possible to upload videos directly to YouTube, which is cool.

Overall performance

The Interface of the iPhone 3GS is very fast and responsive. I have only 26 apps on my home screen, but after a few weeks, I've never experienced any slowdown or sluggishness. To run a quick comparison, the Blackberry Storm would need a brain transplant to be like this - especially once it is bloated with emails. The Blackberry 8900 is regularly sluggish while waking up from locking state, I suspect that the content protection makes is slowing things down (don't keep a bunch of encrypted files on the device). The iPhone 3GS is also more responsive than the Nokia N97 (by far). Only the HTC Hero (MyTouch 3G) comes close, but even then, scrolling in the Map application reveals that the iPhone 3GS can move graphics about twice as fast (I'm eyeballing the framerate). At the moment, the Toshiba TG01 or a Tegra-powered device *should* deliver similar or better results.

App loading speed

One of the major improvement on the iPhone 3GS is the loading time for applications. In my own experience and in independent tests, applications have loaded faster on the iPhone 3GS when compared to older models. The additional memory that was added to the 3GS and the extra CPU clock speed make a big difference.

Battery Life

The battery life can vary greatly depending on what you do, but with my particular usage pattern, I got about 39h in between charges. Battery life can vary greatly, but you've seen my usage pattern at the beginning of this review. I have heard a lot of horror stories about the iPhone battery (the original and the 3G). Honestly, it’s hard to tell what’s going on unless I can investigate and try for myself. Sometimes, even the local conditions (signal reflectivity, distance to the tower) can affect battery life in non-negligible ways.


Boot time: the iPhone 3GS boots in 20 seconds, which is not so far from what a Netbook would do with an instant-boot OS. The N97 is comparable, but the Blackberry is just horrible during a reboot. It can take *minutes*.

Multi-tasking: The iPhone OS is getting some bashing for not being "really" multi-tasking. This is somewhat religious debate at this point. To most users, the phone is seemingly multitask. Messages do arrive in the background, phone calls arrive when you are doing something else. However, an application cannot run in the background. For example, I would like to leave Skype on in the background so that I get messages, even if I'm doing something else, like reading my emails. But right now, Skype will log-off as soon as I switch to another application. It's conceptually annoying, but so far it is not a roadblock at all, for me.

Search box: I can clear text in any search box with the cross on the right. Both Android and Windows mobile don't offer this functionality. It's one of the little things that make life easier many times a day...

OpenGL ES 2.0

Apple didn't make a whole lot of noise about the 3D performance of the iPhone 3GS, but it is substantial. I've said in a previous post that applications have the potential of looking much better than they used to, if developers dare using features that are not in previous iPhones, that said. I already know a couple of developers who are going to make a 3GS-only version of their game.

If you want to learn more details about this, head to our "iPhone 3GS: Prepare For a 3D Graphics Shock" post. In a few months, other devices will come out and will probably challenge the iPhone's graphics capabilities, but right now, no other phone can claim the portfolio of 3D applications that the iPhone has.

Software Features Highlights (3.0)

Copy/paste: It was ridiculous that it took so long before Copy/Paste was added to the iPhone OS, but now it's in and it works fairly well... mostly. Weirdly enough, it's not possible to paste a phone number into the phone dialing app.The issue is well documented.

For a touch screen, the copy paste is well implemented, but the Blackberry 8900 and its trackball do a better job in my opinion. Fingers just aren't as good as a thin cursor for text selection.

Find my phone: If you subscribe to the Mobileme service, you can trace your iPhone remotely. First, you will need to setup a mobileme email account on the iPhone. I suspect that upon a location query, MobileMe sends a notification to the phone, which replies back with its location. If the thief removes the SIM, or disables your MobileMe account, you won't be able to trace the phone anymore. May be that's why it is important to put a password in the phone to start with.

Remote wipe: If you iPhone has been stolen/lost you might want to wipe your iPhone but you should know that once you do that, you won't be able to locate it (the mobileme account gets nuked as well). The remote wipe will only prevent the other party from looking at your data (emails, contact...) and that's already a lot. Again, you need to have setup a MobileMe account and the iPhone needs to be in a state where it can receive the wipe notification and act on it.

Search: The search on the iPhone is really handy. I use it to not only search for notes or emails, but it is often faster to search for contacts there as well. I have several hundreds of contacts, and using the search makes things faster than going into the phone app, then the contacts... The results are popping in near real-time. I haven't tried to scientifically measure the search quality, but at the moment, nothing has been bugging me on this front. It works.

Voice control: Apple has added voice control to let users place calls or play a song without interacting with the touch interface. It might come in handy if you *really* can't use your hands (while driving?). It works well, if you pronounce something that's easy to recognize, like "call Randy". Now, I have a bunch of friends with foreign names and the system has a much harder time with those and ends up wasting my time. I would try using it to save my life, but otherwise, I'm not a fan of this implementation, even if I like the idea a lot. Also, pushing the home button for 3 seconds feels a little long. Having a walkie-talkie style button would be great, but yeah... it adds a button. It's not clear why Voice Control didn't make it into older phones, as it seems to be a software-only feature. May be Apple deemed the iPhone 3G to be too slow.

Nike+: Nike+ was previously available on iPod Touch, and now works the same way on the 3GS. I don't run, but most people run with their phone with them, so if you were previously carrying an iPod Touch + your phone, you just got a little lighter.


I noticed that the iPhone had the best implementation for most popular applications (Yelp...), but the ones that I use the most are Maps and Skype:

Mapping: Mapping is a pretty cool application, when it's implemented properly. Fortunately for iPhone users, Google Maps on iPhone is the best implementation that I've seen to date - it's even better than the Android version (ironic)... First of all, it is fast. When compared to the myTouch 3G, the iPhone 3GS scrolling speed is about 2X or 3X faster (20fps or less versus about 60fps) - I'm just eye balling here. Secondly, there is a search box right at the top that saves a few seconds when searching. Results are displayed directly in the map, while on other platforms, results are shown as a list. Finally, there's a little "my position" at the bottom-right on the map. Again that saves a second or two each time you have to use it. Also, simple things like dropping a pin can't be done in the MyTouch 3G. It doesn't sound like much, but all together, this makes a big difference in terms of user interface. That's the difference between finding something quickly and be happy and being frustrated and lost (my Blackberry 8900's mapping sucks). in the 3GS, Apple has integrated a compass. In the mapping application, the rotate to you show where you are headed. The compass is accurate, and unlike the Nokia N97, walking with the compass on doesn't lead to a pendulum effect in the mapping application. As a pedestrian, I can certainly do without it. In a car, the iPhone 3GS still has a lag that I consider important when compared to a personal navigation device. It's handy, but not my first choice for a GPS if I'm driving.

A final note about the iPhone 3GS and mapping: it seems to me that the GPS is invoked and shut down when not in use. It might sound like a "duh", but on my Blackberry 8900, if you leave the GPS on it just sucks power forever. Apps don't seem to do a good job at turning it on and off as needed (the downside of multitasking, I guess...).

Map scrolling speed: iPhone 3GS and MyTouch 3G (HD on YouTube)

Web page scrolling speed: 3GS versus MyTouch 3G (HD on YouTube)

Skype: Either for IM or for voice calls (over WIFI) Skype for iPhone works well. In my tests, calls were clear just like they are on a computer. I really wish that Apple would let us call over 3G, but I suspect that this is not going to happen anytime soon. It is clearly not in the interest of wireless carriers that Voice over IP (VOIP) apps start to proliferate on a popular platform.

On the IM side, you must know that it works well, as long as you stay in the Skype application. If you switch to a different task, Skype will effectively log you out (!!). That goes back to our multi-tasking discussion from earlier. This didn't bother me so much, but I can imagine that some users would be furious over the lack of background IM availability in apps like Skype.

Things that could be better

Data plan pricing: There not a lot of stuff to hate in the iPhone 3GS (hardware and software). The obvious thing that I would like is a lower price for the data plan, but business is business and if people are willing to enroll with current prices, I don't see any incentive for AT&T to lower the price.

UMA Support: I wish that the iPhone had UMA support, because it would let you use a WIFI network to: 1/guarantee perfect reception quality at home. 2/ Call without roaming charges from abroad. To be fair, the carrier must also support UMA, and the only one in the USA is T-Mobile with its HotSpot@Home. If T-Mobile USA ever carries the iPhone, we hope that it will support UMA.

Productivity: I'm entering in dangerous ground just by suggesting it, but the typing speed of the iPhone is a productivity issue and I don't think that any touch display technology will solve it in the short-term. There are promising alternatives out there, but what about making a second iPhone design with a keyboard, or do something (anything) to achieve typing speed parity with a Blackberry? Touch screen purists, fire at will!

QWERTY iPhone designed by Olivier Demangel for Ubergizmo

Screen quality + resolution: It's not that the iPhone display is bad, but current technology would allow for something better. A higher resolution and more importantly, an OLED display would be on the top of my wish list.

Locked phone: Welcome to the world of carrier subsidies. I'm not sure that AT&T would unlock the phone after two years if you ask them nicely, but they should. If they don't T-Mobile does it on a regular basis. If you don't want an unlocked phone, buy an unlocked one. Welcome into a market economy.

Closed eco-system: There's an app for everything... well, almost. In recent weeks, Apple has been more and more in the headline for refusing to distribute potentially popular applications like Google Voice. The system would gain to be more transparent.


Today, the iPhone 3GS is the king of touch phones, not only because it has good hardware, but because it also has the best applications. I suspect that it will continue to become increasingly popular with the self-employed and small businesses as well. If you're thinking of getting an iPhone 3GS, the first thing that you should consider is the total cost of ownership. With the cheapest plan, you will get close to $2,000 over the 2-year contract.

If you don't own an iPhone yet but want to get one, get the 3GS. The additional speed is well worth the $100 premium over the iPhone 3G. If you don't yet know if you should get an iPhone, then ask yourself why. If you can't afford one, don't go for it (duh!): there are more important things in life. If you fear that the virtual keyboard will impair your productivity, you are probably right. The iPhone is not great for heavy texters. Go back to the "virtual keyboard" section of this review and read it again. You think that other phones might be better for you? May be! Read the following reviews: Palm Pre, Nokia N97, Samsung OMNIA...

If you would like to know something in particular, drop a comment. I'll try to reply asap.


As usual, I recommend a number of second opinions, so you can check reviews from the following sites: Gizmodo, Engadget, CNET, Infosyncworld, Macworld.More…

iPhone 3GS Review

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iPhone 3GS Review

By Hubert Nguyen, Posted on Aug 26, 09 03:23 PM PDT

iPhone 3GS Review

By now, there's no need to introduce the iPhone 3GS: if you're looking at this review, chances are that you are just wondering how it feels and if you should jump on the wagon and get one. However, you want to know if everything that you would be enjoying on the 3GS is worth the price that the device and plan cost. Also, what are the alternatives out there? In this iPhone 3GS review, I will tell you how the iPhone has been working for me in the past month and you will hopefully be able to extrapolate from my experience what yours will be. The review is slightly aimed at those of you who don't have an iPhone yet, but if you do have one and want to upgrade to the 3GS, you might want to read this.


We all have a different usage pattern that influences how we perceive certain features. It will also affect the battery life greatly. I used the iPhone as my main phone, to check Facebook updates and emails (a lot) but I replied only moderately. I browsed the web often to check on news or stock quotes and used the map application, at least for a few minutes every other day. I don't call much (10mn a day?) and I didn't play games.

Physical design

The iPhone 3GS looks and feels (physically) like other iPhones before it. I'm pretty sure that you held one already, but if you have not, I can tell you that it feels good in the hand, but it is a little heavy in the pocket. I hold it in my left hand, and my thumb falls right onto the volume controls and the "silence" button. I can use the index to put the iPhone to sleep using the top button. It's convenient.

One of the new physical feature is the use of an oleophobic surface, that is supposed to make the surface less prone to fingerprints and easier to clean. Honestly it doesn't feel any better or worse than the iPhone 3G. If anything, the first iPhone aluminum surface in the back was much better with fingerprints. Note that the iPhone 3GS can be identifiable by the reflective material used on the text in the back.

The iPhone display performs well in direct sunlight, which is always a plus. It is slightly better than the MyTouch 3G (HTC Hero) and much better than my BlackBerry 8900 in that respect.

Why can Apple make a small wall plug,
while the rest of the industry has brick-sized ones?


The iPhone does very well with the basic phone stuff. That's one of the reason why it was so popular when it was introduced. From the unlock to the dialing to the in-call functions, it's hard to complain about any real issues. With the OS 2.0 then 3.0, Apple has fixed most of the user-interface issues, mostly related to the contact search and Exchange support (not supported when the iPhone was introduced). The basic phone functionalities work very well and that's a powerful thing to have in any phone.

With 4/5 bars, the audio quality was very good and the volume was OK, although not on the loud side: in noisy places that could be an issue.

If supported by the wireless carriers, you can enjoy visual voicemail, which is pretty cool when compared to the dumb voicemails that most people get. I personally use PhoneTag, a voicemail service that sends voicemails as .mp3 and an audio-to-text translation to my email inbox. I prefer that to AT&T's Visual Voice mail.

Phone settings

I keep all my contacts online, on an Exchange Server, so for me, setting up the iPhone mainly consisted of entering a WIFI password, then setting up an exchange account and a Gmail account. In general, the exchange setup is not too hard if you have all the information handy. Gmail is very easy to setup, so all in all, you should get started in no-time.

All the menus are fairly easy to find, because the user interface is logical, certainly more so than the Nokia N97, or Windows Mobile phones. Android is pretty good on that front.

Virtual keyboard

Let's go to the heart of what could make or break your iPhone experience: the iPhone relies only on virtual controls because it is currently the only way to get a thin phone with a large and comfortable display. The only (but important!) drawback is that you will lose some serious typing speed.

When you have physical keys, most people basically use two senses to type: touch and vision. On the iPhone, half or more of that is gone. Now, you can only rely on your eyes to type properly. For most people that translates into a much slower typing pace. In my case, I type much faster with a physical keyboard.

Now, you will probably hear that it gets better with time: it's false for most people that I know and for myself. It might get *marginally* better, but not by much. Secondly, an iPhone "fan" will tell you that he/she or someone they know can type as fast as a Blackberry-user. Well, that might be true, but that's beside the point. The real question is: can you do it? and usually, the answer is no.

If you don't type a whole lot, then you won't mind. If you come from a numeric pad phone, the virtual keyboard will be a big improvement for typing. If you come from a Blackberry, go try an iPhone and imagine yourself typing one of those long work emails or IM conversation. Everyone's tolerance to the virtual keyboard is different, that's why I recommend you to try it in a store or with a friend's phone. Type something long. For those who would not like the iPhone, this is ground zero.

If you wonder how the iPhone compares to the competition, I would say that it's better than the myTouch 3G and better than any of the touch Windows Mobile phones that I have tried like the Samsung Omnia and the HTC Touch Pro. That said, I prefer the suggestion feature of Android to be better than Apple's because it suggests more words, faster.

What I like about virtual controls is that they change depending on the context. In the web browser, there's a ".com" button, which saves four taps. It is also very easy to switch to a foreign layout like AZERTY. These are some of the huge advantages in having virtual controls: developers can do a lot of cool things.

Web browsing is an interesting test for mobile browsing

Web browsing is another area where the iPhone has changed the game. There are three things that basically make it great: display size, pinch & zoom and good JavaScript support. The net result is a very good web browsing experience. First, most sites "just work" and render properly (except when Flash is required). Secondly, pinch & zoom provide the user the best way to control how big they want things to be and what they want to look at in the page. As we said earlier, JavaScript *usually* work well. for example, the comments on this website don't work on the BlackBerry 8900...

This is a message that I’m getting too often on the Curve 8900

Another problem on my Curve 8900: Disqus comments dont’ work

Fortunately, Disqus works the iPhone (and Android)

Depending on your connection and on the site, the page loading speed can vary a lot, but overall, I think that the iPhone 3GS provides the best mobile web experience of all the phones that I used. The Palm Pre would be the next in line. The 3GS version has a faster processor and uses a faster wireless protocol (3.5G), so independent tests have shown that pages can load almost twice as fast when compared with the iPhone 3G - this is definitely not negligible if you are on the web a lot.

Flash is still not supported

Flash still doesn't work, so watching videos on sites like Hulu is still out of reach. However, YouTube for mobile will launch video in the embedded YouTube app, so you're not completely out of options, even if Hulu is better. If you wonder why Flash isn't supported, here's my opinion: On PC, Flash requires a lot of assembly code optimizations and Adobe doesn't have the manpower to write code for each platform/processor, so those who can write that code (like Nvidia and others) get good Flash support, while others don't. Apple should be able to dedicate some software resources to a Flash player, but having flash content go through an Application like YouTube effectively gives Apple more control over how web content flow to their users.

Data Speed Connection Quality

The data speed is relatively good... when you actually do have 3G coverage. I have not tested the 3G coverage in the whole city of San Francisco, but I found myself without 3G coverage in hugely popular area like near by the Ferry building and in other places Downtown (please post a comment if you don't get 3G coverage in a popular public place). My experience might not be representative of yours, but the user experience is much better with a good connection. After all the S in 3GS means "speed", including the 3.5G speed. Over time, it should get better as AT&T is supposed to expand its network. I say "supposed to" because you would think that placed like downtown SF should be well covered already.

I've run some speed tests using the free CISCO Gist (free in the app store) app:

  • 3/5 bars: 481kbps, 479kbps, 595kbps
  • 5/5 bars: 652kbps, 654kbps, 690kbps
  • WIFI: 2329kbps, 1876kbps

Great email experience + ability to add many accounts

Since OS 2.0, the iPhone has a had support for Microsoft exchange, my favorite work-email back-end. We tested Exchange, GMail and Yahoo mail, and in all three instances, email worked very well. You can also use MobileMe, a paid service from Apple, but I'm not sure how many people actually do that. It works well too.

The iPhone is a great phone to read emails on and ideally, if you don't sent back a lengthy reply, you should be more than happy with the experience. The HTML email and image attachment handling is impeccable too. I rate the iPhone email reading above any Blackberry that I had my hands on.

I personally find the Blackberry 8900 to be more productive for emails or for Live Blogging. Thanks to the keyboard shortcuts, it's faster to go to the top of the email stack, forward or reply. The typing speed obviously makes all the difference, for me. Live Blogging on the iPhone is just too painful.


Security: not bullet-proof, but it’s simple and doesn’t slow down the user

The iPhone security has come under criticism recently. In my opinion, security is good enough for consumer use, the password and the remote wipe should be enough to keep most thugs away from your data. They probably just want the phone, anyway. I don't have any particular industrial secret that I want to protect, and I assume that most of you share my situation. But it's important to realize that although nothing is uncrackable, making it harder to crack reduces greatly the chances that someone will actually have the skills, time and motivation to crack it. If you want a strong encryption on your handset's content, a BlackBerry might be a better choice.

Photo and Video

The iPhone 3GS (left) has better white balance, out of the box
when compared to the Curve 8900, which is very decent.

The iPhone and iPhone 3G have often been criticized for the low quality photos (they sucked), and their lack of video recording capabilities. The iPhone 3GS has a new camera hardware that takes good photos (for a phone). Out of the box, it is better than my Blackberry 8900 that I often consider to be quite good too. When taking photos, you can use your finger to choose the point of focus. That's a feature that works relatively well. Overall, I prefer camera phones that have a physical shutter button because I find that tapping on the screen to snap a photo sometime induces a shake right before the photo is taken, and that makes the photo blurry.

Photo taken with an iPhone 3GS. Check our samples on Flickr

The lack of camera flash in the iPhone 3GS is annoying as I have become accustomed to having one on my Blackberry 8900. Also, I tend to snap "mobile" photos during dinners, parties and other dimly lit events where I clearly don't carry a better imaging device.

The 3GS also comes with video recording, something that is still missing natively for older models, even after the iPhone OS 3.0 update. I'm not sure why Apple doesn't add video recording to the old models: there are applications out there that could do it (although at 15fps), but I don't think that they made it to the App Store. The video quality is "OK", but is far from being as good as DVD-quality. To get a feel for it, look at our video samples. Overall, video recording works very decently, for a handheld.

iPhone 3GS review

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iPhone 3GS review

by Joshua Topolsky posted Jun 17th 2009 at 2:14PM

If it ain't broke, don't fix it -- right? We know countless reviews of the iPhone 3GS may begin with that cliché, but there's little chance you'd find a better way to describe the strategy that Apple has just put into play with its latest smartphone. In many ways, the 3GS is a mirror image of the iPhone 3G; externally there's no difference. It's inside where all the changes have happened, with Apple issuing a beefed-up CPU, new internal compass, larger capacities for storage, and improved optics for its camera. More to the point, the release of the 3GS coincides with the launch of iPhone OS 3.0, a major jump from previous versions of the system software featuring highly sought after features like cut, copy, and paste, stereo Bluetooth, MMS, tethering, video recording, landscape keyboard options for more applications, and an iPhone version of Spotlight. At a glance, what Apple seems to be doing is less a reinvention of the wheel and more like retreading the wheel it's already got (and what a wheel, right?). So, do the iPhone 3GS and OS 3.0 tweak the details in just the right places, or has Apple gone and gotten lazy on us? Read on to find out.

Cloud computing

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Cloud computing

Some of the vendors providing Cloud computing services

Cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a serviceover the Internet.[1][2] Users need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure in the "cloud" that supports them.[3]

The concept generally incorporates combinations of the following:

The term cloud is used as a metaphor for the Internet, based on how the Internet is depicted in computer network diagrams and is an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it conceals.[6]

The first academic use of this term appears to be by Prof. Ramnath K. Chellappa (currently at Goizueta Business School, Emory University) who originally defined it as a computing paradigm where the boundaries of computing will be determined by economic rationale rather than technical limits.[7]





Cloud computing can be confused with:

  1. grid computing—"a form of distributed computing whereby a 'super and virtual computer' is composed of a cluster of networked, loosely coupled computers, acting in concert to perform very large tasks";
  2. utility computing—the "packaging of computing resources, such as computation and storage, as a metered service similar to a traditional public utility such as electricity";[8] and
  3. autonomic computing—"computer systems capable of self-management".[9]

Indeed, many cloud computing deployments as of 2009 depend on grids, have autonomic characteristics, and bill like utilities—but cloud computing tends to expand what is provided by grids and utilities.[10] Some successful cloud architectures have little or no centralized infrastructure or billing systems whatsoever, including peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent andSkype, and volunteer computing such as SETI@home.[11][12]

Furthermore, many analysts are keen to stress the evolutionary, incremental pathway between grid technology and cloud computing, tracing roots back to Application Service Providers (ASPs) in the 1990s and the parallels to SaaS, often referred to as applications on the cloud.[13] Some believe the true difference between these terms is marketing and branding; that the technology evolution was incremental and the marketing evolution discrete.[14]


Cloud computing customers do not generally own the physical infrastructure serving as host to the software platform in question. Instead, they avoid capital expenditure by renting usage from a third-party provider. They consume resources as a service and pay only for resources that they use. Many cloud-computing offerings employ the utility computing model, which is analogous to how traditional utility services (such as electricity) are consumed, while others bill on a subscription basis. Sharing "perishable and intangible" computing power amongmultiple tenants can improve utilization rates, as servers are not unnecessarily left idle (which can reduce costs significantly while increasing the speed of application development). A side effect of this approach is that overall computer usage rises dramatically, as customers do not have to engineer for peak load limits.[15] Additionally, "increased high-speed bandwidth" makes it possible to receive the same response times from centralized infrastructure at other sites.


Diagram showing economics of cloud computing versus traditional IT, including capital expenditure (CapEx) and operational expenditure (OpEx)

Cloud computing users can avoid capital expenditure (CapEx) on hardware, software, and services when they pay a provider only for what they use. Consumption is usually billed on a utility (e.g. resources consumed, like electricity) or subscription (e.g. time based, like a newspaper) basis with little or no upfront cost. A few cloud providers are now beginning to offer the service for a flat monthly fee as opposed to on a utility billing basis. Other benefits of this time sharing style approach are low barriers to entry, shared infrastructure and costs, low management overhead, and immediate access to a broad range of applications. Users can generally terminate the contract at any time (thereby avoiding return on investment risk and uncertainty) and the services are often covered by service level agreements (SLAs) with financial penalties.[16][17]

According to Nicholas Carr, the strategic importance of information technology is diminishing as it becomes standardized and less expensive. He argues that the cloud computing paradigm shift is similar to the displacement of electricity generators by electricity grids early in the 20th century.[18]

Although companies might be able to save on upfront capital expenditures, they might not save much and might actually pay more for operating expenses. In situations where the capital expense would be relatively small, or where the organization has more flexibility in their capital budget than their operating budget, the cloud model might not make great fiscal sense. Other factors impacting the scale of any potential cost savings include the efficiency of a company’s data center as compared to the cloud vendor’s, the companys existing operating costs, the level of adoption of cloud computing, and the type of functionality being hosted in the cloud. [19][20]


The "big four" of cloud computing services are said to be Amazon, Google, Microsoft and[21][22] Cloud computing is also being adopted by individual users through large enterprise customers including General Electric, Procter & Gamble and Valeo[23][24].


The majority of cloud computing infrastructure, as of 2009, consists of reliable services delivered through data centers and built on servers with different levels of virtualization technologies. The services are accessible anywhere that provides access to networking infrastructure. Clouds often appear as single points of access for all consumers' computing needs. Commercial offerings are generally expected to meet quality of service (QoS) requirements of customers and typically offer SLAs.[25] Open standards are critical to the growth of cloud computing, andopen source software has provided the foundation for many cloud computing implementations.[26]


The Cloud is a term that borrows from telephony. Up to the 1990s, data circuits (including those that carried Internet traffic) were hard-wired between destinations. Subsequently, long-haul telephone companies began offering Virtual Private Network (VPN) service for data communications. Telephone companies were able to offer VPN based services with the same guaranteed bandwidth as fixed circuits at a lower cost because they could switch traffic to balance utilization as they saw fit, thus utilizing their overall network bandwidth more effectively. As a result of this arrangement, it was impossible to determine in advance precisely which paths the traffic would be routed over. The term "telecom cloud" was used to describe this type of networking, and cloud computing is conceptually somewhat similar.

Cloud computing relies heavily on virtual machines (VMs), which are spawned on demand to meet user needs. A common depiction in network diagrams is a cloud outline.[6]

The underlying concept of cloud computing dates back to 1960, when John McCarthy opined that "computation may someday be organized as a public utility"; indeed it shares characteristics with service bureaus that date back to the 1960s. The term cloud had already come into commercial use in the early 1990s to refer to large Asynchronous Transfer Mode(ATM) networks. [27] Ill-fated startup General Magic launched a short-lived cloud computing product in 1995 in partnership with several telecommunications company partners such as AT&T, just before the consumer-oriented Internet became popular. By the turn of the 21st century, the term "cloud computing" began to appear more widely,[28] although most of the focus at that time was limited to SaaS.

In 1999, was established by Marc Benioff, Parker Harris, and their associates. They applied many technologies developed by companies such as Google and Yahoo! to business applications. They also provided the concept of "On demand" and SaaS with their real business and successful customers. The key for SaaS is that it is customizable by customers with limited technical support required. Business users have enthusiastically welcomed the resulting flexibility and speed.

In the early 2000s, Microsoft extended the concept of SaaS through the development of web services. IBM detailed these concepts in 2001 in the Autonomic Computing Manifesto, which described advanced automation techniques such as self-monitoring, self-healing, self-configuring, and self-optimizing in the management of complex IT systems with heterogeneous storage, servers, applications, networks, security mechanisms, and other system elements that can be virtualized across an enterprise.

Amazon played a key role in the development of cloud computing by modernizing their data centers after the dot-com bubble which, like most computer networks, were using as little as 10% of their capacity at any one time just to leave room for occasional spikes. Having found that the new cloud architecture resulted in significant internal efficiency improvements whereby, small, fast-moving "two-pizza teams" could add new features faster and easier, Amazon started providing access to their systems through Amazon Web Services on a utility computingbasis in 2005.[29]

In 2007, Google, IBM, and a number of universities embarked on a large scale cloud computing research project,[30] around the time the term started, it was a hot topic. By mid-2008, cloud computing gained popularity in the mainstream press, and numerous related events took place.[31] ng will result in dramatic growth in IT products in some areas and in significant reductions in other areas."[32]

In 2009, Cloud Computing Solutions by Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM are the most popular among users with Sun and Ubuntu following them in the Cloud.[33]

[edit]Criticism and disadvantages

This article's Criticism or Controversy section(s) may mean the article does not present a neutral point of view of the subject. It may be better to integrate the material in such sections into the article as a whole.

Because cloud computing does not allow users to physically possess the storage of their data (the exception being the possibility that data can be backed up to a user-owned storage device, such as a USB flash drive or hard disk), it does leave responsibility of data storage and control in the hands of the provider. Responsibility for backup data, disaster recovery and other static "snapshots" has been a long-standing concern for both outsourced as well as resident IT systems. Additional issues are raised around process (methods, functions, transactions, etc.) visibility and transportability given the more complex nature of cloud and web service systems. Organizations that rely upon these systems and services now have to consider the additional responsibility to be able to understand the services being offered (transforms) in order to be able to react to changes in contracted services, compatability to competing services, and be able to perform their fiduciary responsibilty for business continuity (disaster recovery, interruption of service) and business agility (ability to engage competitive services with least impact to operations). QoS (Quality of Service), SLAs (Service Level Agreements) and other parametric behaviors need to be specified as well as monitored for compliance. Although this is a new area, tested patterns for service delivery can be adapted to allow for monitoring and quality control.[1][citation needed]

Cloud computing has been criticized for limiting the freedom of users and making them dependent on the cloud computing provider, and some critics have alleged that it is only possible to use applications or services that the provider is willing to offer. Writing in the The London Times, Jonathan Weber compares cloud computing to centralized systems of the 1950s and 60s, by which users connected through "dumb" terminals to mainframe computers. Typically, users had no freedom to install new applications and needed approval from administrators to achieve certain tasks. Overall, it limited both freedom and creativity. The Times article argues that cloud computing is a regression to that time.[34]

Similarly, Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, believes that cloud computing endangers liberties because users sacrifice their privacy and personal data to a third party. He stated that cloud computing is "simply a trap aimed at forcing more people to buy into locked, proprietary systems that would cost them more and more over time."[35]

Even if data is securely stored in a cloud, many factors can temporarily disrupt access to the data, such as network outages, denial of service attacks against the service provider, and a major failure of the service provider infrastructure.

It may be a challenge to host and maintain intranet and access restricted sites (government, defense, institutional.)

Commercial sites using tools such as web analytics may not be able to capture the data required for business planning by their customers.[citation needed]

[edit]Political issues

The Cloud spans many borders and "may be the ultimate form of globalization."[36] As such, it becomes subject to complex geopolitical issues, and providers are pressed to satisfy myriad regulatory environments in order to deliver service to a global market. This dates back to the early days of the Internet, when libertarian thinkers felt that "cyberspace was a distinct place calling for laws and legal institutions of its own"[36].

Despite efforts (such as US-EU Safe Harbor) to harmonize the legal environment, as of 2009, providers such as Amazon Web Services cater to major markets (typically the United Statesand the European Union) by deploying local infrastructure and allowing customers to select "availability zones."[37] Nonetheless, concerns persist about security and privacy from individual through governmental levels (e.g., the USA PATRIOT Act, the use of national security letters, and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act's Stored Communications Act.

[edit]Legal issues

In March 2007, Dell applied to trademark the term "cloud computing" (U.S. Trademark 77,139,082) in the United States. The "Notice of Allowance" the company received in July 2008 was cancelled in August, resulting in a formal rejection of the trademark application less than a week later.

In September 2008, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a "Notice of Allowance" to CGactive LLC (U.S. Trademark 77,355,287) for "CloudOS". As defined under this notice, a cloud operating system is a generic operating system that "manage[s] the relationship between software inside the computer and on the Web", such as Microsoft Azure[38].

In November 2007, the Free Software Foundation released the Affero General Public License, a version of GPLv3 intended to close a perceived legal loophole associated with Free softwaredesigned to be run over a network, particularly SaaS. An application service provider is required to release any changes they make to Affero GPL open source code.[citation needed]

[edit]Key characteristics

  • Agility improves with users able to rapidly and inexpensively re-provision technological infrastructure resources. The cost of overall computing is unchanged, however, and the providers will merely absorb up-front costs and spread costs over a longer period.[39].
  • Cost is claimed to be greatly reduced and capital expenditure is converted to operational expenditure[40]. This ostensibly lowers barriers to entry, as infrastructure is typically provided by a third-party and does not need to be purchased for one-time or infrequent intensive computing tasks. Pricing on a utility computing basis is fine-grained with usage-based options and fewer IT skills are required for implementation (in-house).[41] Some would argue that given the low cost of computing resources, that the IT burden merely shifts the cost from in-house to outsourced providers. Furthermore, any cost reduction benefit must be weighed against a corresponding loss of control, access and security risks.
  • Device and location independence[42] enable users to access systems using a web browser regardless of their location or what device they are using (e.g., PC, mobile). As infrastructure is off-site (typically provided by a third-party) and accessed via the Internet, users can connect from anywhere.[41]
  • Multi-tenancy enables sharing of resources and costs across a large pool of users thus allowing for:
    • Centralization of infrastructure in locations with lower costs (such as real estate, electricity, etc.)
    • Peak-load capacity increases (users need not engineer for highest possible load-levels)
    • Utilization and efficiency improvements for systems that are often only 10–20% utilized.[29]
  • Reliability improves through the use of multiple redundant sites, which makes cloud computing suitable for business continuity and disaster recovery.[43] Nonetheless, many major cloud computing services have suffered outages, and IT and business managers can at times do little when they are affected.[44][45]
  • Scalability via dynamic ("on-demand") provisioning of resources on a fine-grained, self-service basis near real-time, without users having to engineer for peak loads. Performance is monitored, and consistent and loosely-coupled architectures are constructed using web services as the system interface.[41]
  • Security typically improves due to centralization of data[46], increased security-focused resources, etc., but concerns can persist about loss of control over certain sensitive data, and the lack of security for stored kernels[47]. Security is often as good as or better than under traditional systems, in part because providers are able to devote resources to solving security issues that many customers cannot afford[48]. Providers typically log accesses, but accessing the audit logs themselves can be difficult or impossible. Ownership, control and access to data controlled by "cloud" providers may be made more difficult,just as it is sometimes difficult to gain access to "live" support with current utilities. Under the cloud paradigm, management of sensitive data is placed in the hands of cloud providers and third parties. Currently, many developers are implementing OAuth (open protocol for secure API authorization), as it allows more granularity of data controls across cloud applications. OAuth is an open protocol, initiated by Blain Cook and Chris Messina, to allow secure API authorization in a standard method for desktop, mobile, and web applications.
  • Sustainability comes about through improved resource utilization, more efficient systems, and carbon neutrality.[49][50] Nonetheless, computers and associated infrastructure are major consumers of energy. A given (server-based) computing task will use X amount of energy whether it is on-site, or off.[51]


Six layers components of cloud computing


See also category: Cloud clients

A cloud client consists of computer hardware and/or computer software which relies on cloud computing for application delivery, or which is specifically designed for delivery of cloud services and which, in either case, is essentially useless without it.[52] For example:


See also category: Cloud services

A cloud service includes "products, services and solutions that are delivered and consumed in real-time over the Internet"[41]. For example,Web Services ("software system[s] designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network")[59] which may be accessed by other cloud computing components, software, e.g., Software plus services, or end users directly.[60] Specific examples include:


See also category: Cloud applications

A cloud application leverages the Cloud in software architecture, often eliminating the need to install and run the application on the customer's own computer, thus alleviating the burden of software maintenance, ongoing operation, and support. For example:


See also category: Cloud platforms

A cloud platform, such as Platform as a service, the delivery of a computing platform, and/or solution stack as a service, facilitates deployment of applications without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware and software layers.[61] For example:


See also category: Cloud infrastructure

Cloud infrastructure, such as Infrastructure as a service, is the delivery of computer infrastructure, typically a platform virtualization environment, as a service.[62] For example:


Cloud computing sample architecture

Cloud architecture,[63] the systems architecture of the software systems involved in the delivery of cloud computing, comprises hardware and software designed by a cloud architect who typically works for a cloud integrator. It typically involves multiple cloud components communicating with each other over application programming interfaces, usually web services.[64]

This closely resembles the Unix philosophy of having multiple programs each doing one thing well and working together over universal interfaces. Complexity is controlled and the resulting systems are more manageable than their monolithiccounterparts.

Cloud architecture extends to the client, where web browsers and/or software applications access cloud applications.

Cloud storage architecture is loosely coupled, where metadata operations are centralized enabling the data nodes to scale into the hundreds, each independently delivering data to applications or users.


Cloud computing types

[edit]Public cloud

Public cloud or external cloud describes cloud computing in the traditional mainstream sense, whereby resources are dynamically provisioned on a fine-grained, self-service basis over the Internet, via web applications/web services, from an off-site third-party provider who shares resources and bills on a fine-grained utility computing basis.[41]

[edit]Hybrid cloud

A hybrid cloud environment consisting of multiple internal and/or external providers[65] "will be typical for most enterprises".[66]

[edit]Private cloud

Private cloud and internal cloud are neologisms that some vendors have recently used to describe offerings that emulate cloud computing on private networks. These (typically virtualisation automation) products claim to "deliver some benefits of cloud computing without the pitfalls", capitalising on data security, corporate governance, and reliability concerns. They have been criticized on the basis that users "still have to buy, build, and manage them" and as such do not benefit from lower up-front capital costs and less hands-on management[66], essentially "[lacking] the economic model that makes cloud computing such an intriguing concept".[67][68]

While an analyst predicted in 2008 that private cloud networks would be the future of corporate IT,[69] there is some uncertainty whether they are a reality even within the same firm.[70]Analysts also claim that within five years a "huge percentage" of small and medium enterprises will get most of their computing resources from external cloud computing providers as they "will not have economies of scale to make it worth staying in the IT business" or be able to afford private clouds.[71]. Analysts have reported on Platform's view that private clouds are a stepping stone to external clouds, particularly for the financial services, and that future datacenters will look like internal clouds. [72]

The term has also been used in the logical rather than physical sense, for example in reference to platform as a service offerings[73], though such offerings including Microsoft's Azure Services Platform are not available for on-premises deployment.[74]



See also category: Cloud computing providers

A cloud computing provider or cloud computing service provider owns and operates live cloud computing systems to deliver service to third parties. Usually this requires significant resources and expertise in building and managing next-generation data centers. Some organisations realise a subset of the benefits of cloud computing by becoming "internal" cloud providers and servicing themselves, although they do not benefit from the same economies of scale and still have to engineer for peak loads. The barrier to entry is also significantly higher with capital expenditure required and billing and management creates some overhead. Nonetheless, significant operational efficiency and agility advantages can be realised, even by small organisations, and server consolidation and virtualization rollouts are already well underway.[75]

The companies listed in the Components section are providers.


See also category: Cloud computing users

A user is a consumer of cloud computing.[52] The privacy of users in cloud computing has become of increasing concern.[76] The rights of users is also an issue, which is being addressed via a community effort to create a bill of rights.[77][78][79] The Franklin Street statement was drafted with an eye towards protecting users' freedoms.[80]


See also category: Cloud computing vendors

Some vendors sell or give products and services that facilitate the delivery, adoption and use of cloud computing.[81] For example:

Some vendors provide a complete hosting a deployment package giving ISV's "Inpedendant Software Vendors" the ability to offer end users applications as SaaS "Software as a Service" Theses vendors include: RealTech Solutions


See also category: Cloud standards

Cloud standards, a number of existing, typically lightweight, open standards, have facilitated the growth of cloud computing, including:[85]

[edit]See also


  1. ^ "Gartner Says Cloud Computing Will Be As Influential As E-business". Gartner. 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
  2. ^ Gruman, Galen (2008-04-07). "What cloud computing really means". InfoWorld. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
  3. ^ Distinguishing Cloud Computing from Utility Computing
  4. ^ Williams, John M.; Chris Sears (2008-12-31). "Who Coined the Phrase Cloud Computing?". Retrieved 2009-03-03.
  5. ^ Anita Campbell (2008-08-31). "Cloud Computing - Get Used to the Term". The App Gap. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
  6. ^ a b The Internet Cloud
  7. ^ "Cloud computing---emerging paradigm for computing".
  8. ^ "It's probable that you’ve misunderstood 'Cloud Computing' until now". TechPluto.
  9. ^ What's In A Name? Utility vs. Cloud vs Grid
  10. ^ I.B.M. to Push ‘Cloud Computing,’ Using Data From Afar
  11. ^ Overheard: What the heck is computing in a cloud?
  12. ^ ACM Ubiquity: Emergence of The Academic Computing Cloud
  13. ^ Katarina Stanoevska-Slabeva, Davide Maria Parrilli, George A. Thanos: BEinGRID: Development of Business Models for the Grid Industry. GECON 2008: 140-151
  14. ^ For example: Field, Daniel (2009-06-16). "Cloud Computing – a bolt out the blue? Not quite, the writing was on the wall". GridVoices (BEinGRID). Retrieved 2009-08-24.
  15. ^ Cloud Computing: The Evolution of Software-as-a-Service
  16. ^ Forrester's Advice to CFOs: Embrace Cloud Computing to Cut Costs
  17. ^ Five cloud computing questions
  18. ^ Nicholas Carr on 'The Big Switch' to cloud computing
  19. ^ 1 Midsize Organization Busts 5 Cloud Computing Myths
  20. ^ Cloud Computing Savings - Real or Imaginary?
  21. ^ Open Cloud Computing Encounters Turbulence
  22. ^ A Quick Guide To The "Big Four" Cloud Offerings
  23. ^ Google Apps makes its way into big business
  24. ^ Google, Inc. Q2 2008 Earnings Call
  25. ^ Buyya, Rajkumar; Chee Shin Yeo, Srikumar Venugopal (PDF). Market-Oriented Cloud Computing: Vision, Hype, and Reality for Delivering IT Services as Computing Utilities. Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Australia. pp. 9. Retrieved 2008-07-31.
  26. ^ Open source fuels growth of cloud computing, software-as-a-service
  27. ^ July, 1993 meeting report from the IP over ATM working group of the IETF
  28. ^ Internet Critic Takes on Microsoft
  29. ^ a b Jeff Bezos' Risky Bet
  30. ^ Google and I.B.M. Join in ‘Cloud Computing’ Research
  31. ^ Keep an eye on cloud computing
  32. ^ Gartner Says Worldwide IT Spending On Pace to Surpass $3.4 Trillion in 2008
  33. ^ The Top Cloud Computing Solutions people are looking for in 2009– Survey by
  34. ^ Cloud computing: Are there dangers to having information infrastructure, software and services hosted on the internet rather than on our own personal computers?
  35. ^ Cloud computing is a trap, warns GNU founder Richard Stallman, Guardian, September 30, 2008
  36. ^ a b Computers without borders
  37. ^ Feature Guide: Amazon EC2 Availability Zones
  38. ^ Microsoft Plans ‘Cloud’ Operating System
  39. ^ Infrastructure Agility: Cloud Computing as a Best Practice
  40. ^ Recession Is Good For Cloud Computing – Microsoft Agrees
  41. ^ a b c d e Defining “Cloud Services” and “Cloud Computing”
  42. ^ The new geek chic: Data centers
  43. ^ Cloud Computing: Small Companies Take Flight
  44. ^ Google Apps Admins Jittery About Gmail, Hopeful About Future
  45. ^ New Resource, Born of a Cloud Feud
  46. ^ Exari: Death By Laptop
  47. ^ Encrypted Storage and Key Management for the cloud
  48. ^ Cloud computing security forecast: Clear skies
  49. ^ Google to go carbon neutral by 2008
  50. ^ What is Cloud Computing?
  51. ^ Shut off your computer
  52. ^ a b Nimbus Cloud Guide
  53. ^ Google's Open Source Android OS Will Free the Wireless Web
  54. ^ In Sync to Pierce the Cloud
  55. ^ Microsoft demos mobile cloud sync client
  56. ^ CherryPal brings cloud computing to the masses
  57. ^ Zonbu has alluring features, price
  58. ^ GOS cloud computing
  59. ^ "Web Services Glossary".
  60. ^ The Emerging Cloud Service Architecture
  61. ^ Google angles for business users with 'platform as a service'
  62. ^ EMC buys Pi and forms a cloud computing group
  63. ^ Building GrepTheWeb in the Cloud, Part 1: Cloud Architectures
  64. ^ Cloud Maturity Is Accelerating: More Than Just Reaction To The Hype?
  65. ^ IBM Embraces Juniper For Its Smart 'Hybrid Cloud', Disses Cisco (IBM)
  66. ^ a b Private Clouds Take Shape
  67. ^ Just don't call them private clouds
  68. ^ There's No Such Thing As A Private Cloud
  69. ^ Private cloud networks are the future of corporate IT
  70. ^ Private Cloud Computing: The Only Thing Real so Far is the Desire
  71. ^ Million-Dollar Private Clouds
  72. ^ From Grid to Cloud (Gridipedia)
  73. ^ Google opens private cloud to coders
  74. ^ Microsoft Nixes Private Azure Clouds
  75. ^ ACM Queue - Beyond Server Consolidation
  76. ^ Google Privacy Practices Worse Than ISP Snooping, AT&T Charges
  77. ^ The bill of rights is currently in draft.
  78. ^ Draft Cloud Computing: Bill of Rights Now Available
  79. ^ Johnston, Sam; Urquhart, James; Wellner, Rich (2008-09-16). "Cloud Computing:Bill of rights". Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  80. ^
  81. ^ List of Cloud Platforms, Providers and Enablers
  82. ^ Jeff Jaffe, Software Appliances and Cloud Computing
  83. ^ Red Hat chief: 'The clouds will all run Linux'
  84. ^ Ubuntu 9.04 beta out, now with fresh Eucalyptus
  85. ^ The Cloud and Standards
  86. ^ Lock-in, security loom as dark side of Compute Cloud
  87. ^ LinuxWorld/Next Generation Data Center attendees get schooled in cloud computing

[edit]External links



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Categories: Cloud computing | Distributed data sharing