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July 11, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Cloud Computing

  |   Video
  • Instead of storing photos, music and other information on their own computers, more and more people are storing it online in “the Cloud”. We’ll take a look at the evolution and future of cloud computing for individuals and businesses with Anthony D’Ambrosi of i/o, a Phoenix-based company that controls two of the largest data centers in the world.
  • Anthony D'Ambrosi - I/o Chief Sales & Marketing Officer
Category: Science   |   Keywords: technology, computers, cloud computing,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: An increasing number of folks are moving information off of their home computers and storing it online in what has become known as "the cloud." Joining me to talk about what cloud computing means to individuals and businesses is Anthony D'Ambrosi of I-O, a Phoenix-based company that runs some of the world's largest data centers. Good to have you here.
Anthony D'Ambrosi: Great to be here.

Ted Simons: Again, define terms here. Cloud computing. Did I get it right? Instead of storing at home, I'm storing it somewhere?

Anthony D'Ambrosi: That’s part of the basic definition of cloud. One of the jokes in the industry, if you ask 10 people you might get 11 different definitions but actually Cloud Computing is a new delivery mechanism where a user can consume information technology as a service and not have to worry about the complexities of hardware and software.

Ted Simons: An example would be kindle, correct?

Anthony D'Ambrosi: Kindle is a great example of a cloud-based service provided by Amazon for the most part where the kindle device lets the consumer consume what they want.

Ted Simons: What lends itself to cloud computing best and what should stay on local computers?

Anthony D'Ambrosi: That's a great question. In general, the initial applications for cloud computing were based on consumer and retail sector. Where you can consume applications as a retail user off the cloud. But more and more the cloud has penetrated the enterprise. The non-critical applications. One big example - Like sales force automation, Where early on there were a lot of cloud computing solutions to do customer relations management where you could consume intelligence with your sales force over the cloud.

Ted Simons: One of the benefits of the cloud, you can access information anywhere. You're a sales force, you are out there, all over the place and you don't have to be tethered to a P.C.?

Anthony D'Ambrosi: Very true. There's a nice mobility aspect consuming over the internet and over the cloud, whereby the user is not tied to a particular location or a particular device.

Ted Simons: What about security? Sometimes when I'm doing my stuff on the computer, man, this is a lot of personal information out there and I got to trust these folks, you guys or -- who are the cloud. I've got to trust that the security issues will be handled correctly.

Anthony D'Ambrosi: It's a valid concern that many users and enterprisers have, but frankly, in a lot of scenarios, the cloud is an opportunity to provide increased security. If you think about the security risk of mission critical information on a user’s local device or a local hard drive, having security stored in an enterprise class data-center infrastructure much like we provide, with the right physical and logical physical controls make the security concerns over the data itself, less in the cloud than it would be on the users' computer.

Ted Simons: If I'm a user and not updating, I could be at risk, where if everything is on the cloud, you are updating.

Anthony D'Ambrosi: We’re updating. We're making sure that the back-end infrastructure of the cloud is highly secured and only accessed in a way that's permissible.

Ted Simons: Do the cloud data centers share information at all?

Anthony D'Ambrosi: Depending on the nature of the business process or application you might be automated. Some environments do have a shared infrastructure for certain types of computing. Other environments are dedicated and customized for a given consumer.

Ted Simons: If there are privacy concerns, if -- we used kindle as an example. It knows what book I've read and how often I've read it. That information, I'm getting it from the cloud?

Anthony D'Ambrosi: That's correct, depending on what engagement or contractual relationship the user enters into with the cloud provider, there's a certain amount of customer data that's permissible and access to that data is used. Imagine a repository with Google -- user buying patterns, however, all controlled within the bounds of permission and security. While there's intelligence in the cloud, there are controls commercially and technologically to make sure it's protected.

Ted Simons: Is that an evolving legal issue as to what has to be protected?

Anthony D'Ambrosi: Very much so. The legal issues and the contractual issues around cloud computing continue to evolve. Especially if you talk about the cross border legal environments, the regulatory environments from certain governments on how data is stored and protected, they vary from country to country.

Ted Simons: Clouds, though, just by their -- I mean, if we were -- we were talking earlier, it's almost like energy. It doesn't happen nowhere. It happens somewhere, and you know where this happens. But what happens when you crash? I mean certainly data centers can crash, can’t they?

Anthony D'Ambrosi: They certainly can. However, going to an enterprise class data center technology company like I-O, we engineer resiliency into the fabric of the cloud itself. Our mission is to convert energy into mission critical information processing. We call it digital energy technology and we use various levels of redundancy, security and resiliency to ensure business continuity within the cloud.

Ted Simons: How much equipment do you need? You're not taking all of this equipment, space off my hands but it's going on your hands. You must need pretty open space.

Anthony D'Ambrosi: We do require scalability for what we do. We consume a fair amount of physical infrastructure but we convert that into a service for our clients and using next generation hardware and software technology, we've created more dense environments and become more efficient with how we utilize space and power.

Ted Simons: Arizona is considered a pretty good hot spot for cloud computing and data center. Is that true and why?

Anthony D'Ambrosi: It is true. And no pun intended about Arizona being a hot spot. But Arizona is really fairly free from natural disaster which is a major concern that many major companies have about where they put their data center operation. It’s also a labor friendly environment in terms of availability of talent, accessibility to large scale properties to build technology centers out. Arizona really is a hot spot for data center hosting and cloud computing back-end.

Ted Simons: Is this the kind of thing as more people get involved, I put more of my stuff onto a cloud, a data center, in other words, will the cost change? Will you see price points changing and evolving?

Anthony D'Ambrosi: We do. There's a promise of the total cost of ownership savings in the cloud and reduced complexity in the cloud and alternative use of capital where users can pay as they go. We call it a utility or consumption based model. You pay for the service, instead. The products required to create the service. So one of the things we're providing is an ability for enterprises and users to consume what they need when they need it and not overspend or expend capital. We believe the economic advantage is real.

Ted Simons: Last question: Do you think we as people are ready to give up content ownership so quickly?

Anthony D'Ambrosi: That's a great question. That's the age old human change management question. But I think with the rapid rise of internet-based services and mobility and mobile computing, I think more and more, the user is interested in the user experience and the use of the information than with necessarily content ownership. You're seeing a trend toward real consumption in the cloud and there will be a class of enterprise customers that require dedicated systems as well.

Ted Simons: Anthony D'Ambrosi, thanks for joining us.

Anthony D'Ambrosi: Thank you so much.

NonPartisan Primary Elections

  |   Video
  • An effort is underway to put an proposition on the 2012 general election ballot to create nonpartisan primary elections as a way to elect more mainstream candidates. ASU Political Science professor Jennifer Steen explains how similar systems have worked in other states.
  • Jennifer Steen - ASU Professor of Political Science
Category: Government   |   Keywords: elections, primaries,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Supporters of a nonpartisan primary election system for Arizona hope to send a proposal to next year's general election ballot. Proponents believe nonpartisan or "top 2" elections are a way to produce more mainstream elected officials. Here to discuss potential consequences of a nonpartisan primary is Jennifer Steen, an assistant professor at of political science at Arizona State University. Good to have you.
Jennifer Steen: Thank you.
Ted Simons: Lets define terms here. What are we talking about? Nonpartisan primary.
Jennifer Steen: A nonpartisan primary -- using the word primary is not that accurate. There are no party nominations involved. It's a vehicle for narrowing the field of candidates to two - from however many initially seek to run for particular office. So it narrows down the fields to two and sends them on to a election. The primary is traditionally a vehicle for parties to make nominations but these won't be party nominations if the reform passes.

Ted Simons: This is the top two going into a run-off but isn't there another situation where the winner wins? Is that possible out there? Has that been done?

Jennifer Steen: Sure it's been done. And that will be what's going on with the recall election coming up for Senator Pearce. No matter -- the percentage of the votes they get. People can get elected with a very small percentage -- it's not something that is celebrated.

Ted Simons: What states have used this?

Jennifer Steen: Washington State has been using it for 2008 and 2010 and Louisiana has used a close variance, there are some distinctions but a variant of the nonpartisan primary for decades.

Jennifer Steen: What are we seeing as far as an impact in Washington and in Louisiana, because it would seem, especially with Louisiana doing it for that long, how come more states aren't doing it?

Jennifer Steen: It's funny, even though they've been using this primary in Louisiana for decades, there hasn't been good research or analysis to tell us how exactly elections and representation have turned out different in Louisiana from what they might have been under a regular system. And we can point to a number of races where the run-off included two candidates from the same party and that's a notable distinction. But it's not entirely clear that the quality of representation, the kinds of people who are elected in Louisiana -- entirely clear that the representation and people elected is substantively different than what it would be otherwise.

Ted Simons: What about Washington? I think what we're seeing in Arizona is a move to get a more moderate candidate on the ballot. Are you seeing that in Washington?

Jennifer Steen: So we don't know yet. It's too early to tell. No one has analyzed the folks elected in the last two years to see if they're closer to the center than their predecessors. There was a similar system in California that used a blanket primary and under that system we did see more moderate -- more moderate candidates getting elected and that had been the hope of the proponents that it would have a moderating influence.

Ted Simons: Conversely, what about minor parties? It seems like one or two things could happen. The minor parties are completely shut out or if you get a minor party in the top two, you have a serious chance now?

Jennifer Steen: That’s right. The system is risky for minor party candidates because they run the risk of being completely shut out. However, if one does manage to squeak by and become the number two place in a particular election, they may have a chance of winning greater than other circumstances. In Washington State, there were minor party candidates who were nominated who made it into the top two in 2010. There were six legislative candidates, but none were elected and it's not actually entirely clear they were genuine minor party candidates. For example, the parties they ran under weren't really parties at all. The ‘Problem Fixer’ party was one. The ‘Lower My Taxes’ was another. So it does seem like it’s been a positive development for minor parties in Washington State.

Ted Simons: I see, ok. What about voter turnout? We hear it's a way to get more to go to the polls. What does the research show?

Jennifer Steen: When you have a system that voter turnout goes up by a few points. The thinking is that the voters feel empowered; they feel like they have more choice and a better chance of impacting the general election outcome and that motivates them. It's true you see a spike in turnouts in these types of elections.

Ted Simons: Do you see a spike of candidates in these kind of elections?

Jennifer Steen: Actually, it doesn't -- so, I'm not sure if the answer because there's so few to really study. But what looks like what happened in Washington state, there's been a decrease in the number of democratic party candidates who've run for state legislature and the -- the likely explanation for that is that the democratic party has played a strong role in steering certain candidates away from races.

Ted Simons: Oh, interesting.

Jennifer Steen: They run a risk of having their entire candidates disqualified if too many run in a particular race. Say, five Democrats run, they may split the democratic vote and none of them make it into the top two. So both political parties have a bottleneck -- it turned out in Washington, the Republicans haven't seen a dip but the Democrats saw a decrease in the number of candidates.
Ted Simons: That almost leads to a stronger political party then?
Jennifer Steen: Well they really have to do something to defend themselves. The Washington system took away the last powers that the political parties had. They're not even con conferring nominations there. Not surprised they're fighting back for survival.
Ted Simons: Are the races in Washington and Louisiana are they more competitive? What are you seeing there?

Jennifer Steen: You see there are a number of districts that are blowout districts. And so if the top two are from opposite parties than the dominant party continues to win by a large margin and in most districts you don't see a lot of change. They'll nominate one democrat and one Republican and the traditional breakdown persists. But in Washington, you did see a number of legislative districts that nominated either two Democrats or two Republicans and so you know, one might have hoped that would mean more competition, intraparty instead of interparty. But in those races there was one dominant person in the final, so it didn't end up being so competitive.

Ted Simons: When talking about primaries or picking the candidate you want to run, could they not, if it's a legitimate primary system, could they not pull back and say we're going to pick our candidate by way of caucus, closed room votes?

Jennifer Steen: In theory, they could. I know there's been a lot of talk about what it might include but I haven't seen the legal language of it. So I don't know whether this initiative is going to allow for the possibility of political party nominations. The way it works in Washington state, political parties no longer nominate. They don't have a vehicle to nominate candidates for office. The Republican nominee is a Republican who's on the ballot and passed through the top two primary. If the Arizona constitution still allows for party nominations after nonpartisan primary is adopted, if it's adopted, of course, they certainly could opt for that. But Louisiana hasn't been using conventions all these years so, it's not clear to me why the Arizona state parties would decide to do so.

Ted Simons: Last question here, without -- you know, getting a opinion out of you, but as far as drawbacks and benefits for Arizona, something like this seem to make sense? A lot of people are pushing it, but a lot of political scientists say you don't know what you're pushing.

Jennifer Steen: We'll have a lot of electoral reform going on so it's unclear how all of those will play with this. But there is -- there is evidence that a primary like this tends to produce more moderate, more centrist candidates. If you're a centrist, that's going to sound great. You'll see that would be a step forward for Arizona. But there are a fair number of folks in Arizona who are pleased as punch with the representation they're getting and would prefer to have the political parties nominating. Loyal partisans who are, you know, more to the ends of the ideological spectrum.

Ted Simons: Fascinating stuff and it will be interesting to see how California handles this. The first time?

Jennifer Steen: Yes.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Jennifer Steen: Thank you very much.

Senate President Russell Pearce Recall

  |   Video
  • A citizens group has submitted enough valid signatures to force Senator Russell Pearce into a recall election. Find out what the next steps are with State Election Director Amy Bjelland.
  • Amy Bjelland - State Election Director
Category: Government   |   Keywords: recall, pearce, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. On Friday the secretary of state's office notified the governor that the citizens for a better Arizona committee had filed enough valid signatures to force a recall election of State Senator Russell Pearce. Here to tell us what happens next is State Election Director Amy Bjelland. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Amy Bjelland: Thank you.

Ted Simons: He has to be officially notified of all of this?

Amy Bjelland: Correct.

Ted Simons: And has he been notified?

Amy Bjelland: Yes, our office was able to do that on Friday after we completed our certification and notified the governor.

Ted Simons: He has like -- what? -- five days to respond?

Amy Bjelland: Five business days and that ends this Friday. He has until then to either decide to resign or remain in office.

Ted Simons: And I think most folks think he'll remain in office. Does he have to make it an official response?

Amy Bjelland: An act of resigning would have to be done officially and under statutes in writing.

Ted Simons: If he doesn't resign, does he have to do anything else or will he be an automatic candidate?

Amy Bjelland: He'll be an automatic candidate. Under the law, he’s allowed as a candidate who is subject to the recall to file a defensive statement with our office that would appear on the ballot.

Ted Simons: Really?

Amy Bjelland: Yeah.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the ballot in a second.

Amy Bjelland: Ok.

Ted Simons: When he says, "I'm not resigning," he does so by way of a statement as to why he's not resigning?

Amy Bjelland: Correct. Actually, it’s up to him. He does have discretion. He doesn't have to file a defensive statement but if he does want to file, then he has the ten days to do so.

Ted Simons: What happens in the unlikely case that he should resign? Then what happens?

Amy Bjelland: If he chooses to resign, there's no need for a recall. The office would be considered vacant under state law and it would be filled according to our state law, which in the legislative vacancy arena means that the precinct men in his district would need to nominate three people and the board of supervisors would complete the appointment.
Ted Simons: So it’s similar to what we’ve seen before when there were vacancies in the legislature?
Amy Bjelland: That’s right.
Ted Simons: He has a certain amount of time, 10 days, starting when, to challenge these signatures, correct?

Amy Bjelland: Correct.

Ted Simons: When does it start?

Amy Bjelland: It’s actually ten days from when Maricopa County Certified and that was last Friday, so there's ten days to challenge these signatures. And it could be anybody in Senator Pearce's camp or any electorate has the authority to challenge. But its ten days, so should be July 18th. The last day to challenge.

Ted Simons: And get a superior court judgment on that challenge and then -- what? -- all sides, whoever feels wrong, they can appeal for how long?

Amy Bjelland: They have another 10 days to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Ted Simons: Wow, there's so many dates in here.

Amy Bjelland: There are.

Ted Simons: We'll throw out more. The governor has to call an election. When -- 15 days, she has to call? When did the clock start?

Amy Bjelland: That started the day after we notified her on Friday. And so she has until July 23rd to call the election.

Ted Simons: Now, and that election would occur when?

Amy Bjelland: Based on our timeline, November 8th, that's the first consolidated election day. That's 90 days out from when she has to call the election.

Ted Simons: Let's say that Pearce doesn't resign, she calls the election. What about candidates? How many signatures are needed and how many folks can run?

Amy Bjelland: This is legislative district 18. 621 signatures, any candidate who wants to run for office and based on the total number of votes cast for that seat at the last election. Anybody can run, as long as they qualify to fill that seat. So they would have to be a qualified voter from the district. And there's no need to specify your party affiliation. Anybody can run without regard to what party they are.
Ted Simons: If I can -- if 50 people can imagine to get 621 signatures qualified -- qualified signatures, you could have 50 people on the ballot.

Amy Bjelland: That's possible, yeah.

Ted Simons: With no party affiliation? No one knows who they are.

Amy Bjelland: Correct. Like the Wild West.

Ted Simons: Like the Wild West indeed. And 621 again. And what happens if, you know, he files and he files but he didn't think he filed correctly, what kind of challenge process is there?

Amy Bjelland: Well, they would be filing between August 10th and September 9th, based on the November 8th election and after August -- or September 9th, there would be a 10-day challenge period and if there were that many candidates it could be confusing so probably a court could consolidate that into one matter.

Ted Simons: If there's too many like me or not enough like me, I don't necessarily want them on the ballot. I'm going to challenge. That could happen.

Amy Bjelland: It could.

Ted Simons: And how long do they have to get the 621 signatures?

Amy Bjelland: They have until September 9th. They can start filing their petitions with our office on August 10th.

Ted Simons: So August -- so that's a month.

Amy Bjelland: Yeah.

Ted Simons: That's why it's so little. 621 signature, right?

Amy Bjelland: Well, it's -- 621 is more than you would file for a legislative seat in this district normally but it's just -- it's based on a different calculation.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Amy Bjelland: Yes.

Ted Simons: We talked about the fact that senator Pearce has a chance to respond or make a statement of some kind. That will appear on the ballot?

Amy Bjelland: Correct. That appears on the ballot. The grounds for recall that the citizens for a better Arizona listed on the petitions, that will appear at the top of ballot and any statement that Senator Pearce files would appear on the ballot as well and below that would be the candidates, including Senator Pearce.

Ted Simons: Here's why this is happening and here's the response as to the original allegations or whatever, and then everyone and their brother could be running below.

Amy Bjelland: It's possible.

Ted Simons: It's possible?

Amy Bjelland: Yeah.

Ted Simons: The wheels are in motion and we wait and see what gives.

Amy Bjelland: Yeah.

Ted Simons: Amy, thanks for being here.

Amy Bjelland: Good to be here.