Tag: Cloud

EU close to banning US clouds

Europe with flags - Wikimedia CommonsIt seems that the US government is prepared to sacrifice its nation’s cloud business on the bonfire of its obsession with spying.

European Union privacy regulators are leaning toward the restriction of personal data transfers to the United States because of the risk of US. surveillance, mostly because the US government will not back down.

A top EU court last year struck down the Safe Harbour system, used by thousands of businesses to easily transfer data across the Atlantic, because the data were not protected enough from any US snooping.

A plenary meeting on next month will decide to what extent companies should be allowed to continue transferring Europeans’ data to the United States in light of the ruling.

In a preparatory meeting on Wednesday the authorities discussed a range of possible outcomes, including “freezing” all new authorisations for US data transfers on the basis of binding corporate rules within multinationals or standard contractual clauses between companies.

Under EU data protection law, companies cannot shift Europeans’ data to countries outside the EU deemed to have insufficient privacy safeguards, which applies to the United States according to the authorities’ assessment of the US  legal system.

However, data transfers are allowed if firms set up complex legal structures such as binding corporate rules or standard contractual clauses.

A final decision will only be taken at the plenary meeting and not all regulators were in favor of the restrictive approach, the sources said.

If the European Commission, which is negotiating a replacement for Safe Harbour with Washington, presents the regulators with a strengthened system their position may change.

Freezing all new authorizations for US data transfers using binding corporate rules or standard contractual clauses will kill off transatlantic data flows which are the highest in the world.  Businesses say that will end the borderless nature of the Internet is being jeopardized. The EU says that is not its fault, and the US needs to stop spying on people.



Financial services spent a bundle on new technology

Clouds over the Old Power Station, OxfordA report by market research firm IDC said financial services giants spent around $114 billion on big data, analytics, cloud computing and mobility this year.

IDC describes this market as the “third platform” and said the four pillars of this temple are mobility, cloud, big data and analytics, and social business.

Karen Massey, a senior research analyst at IDC, said these four elements have “caused a fundamental shift in how financial services are consuming and budgeting for IT and applications”.

Mobility includes hardware like smartphones and tablets;mobile software; and mobile services.

Cloud includes software as a service (SaaS); Platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

Big data and analytics is important to financial service companies because it helps to optimise business, improves compliance and “engages customers by using data driven deision making”.

EMC likely to keep Virtustream

emc-rack-close-up-2As part of a cunning plan to boost shareholder support for its sale to Dell, EMC appears to be thinking it is wise to retain a majority stake in Virtustream.

It had planned to place the loss-making cloud services provider in a joint venture with VMware. This will help improve VMware’s shares, which have lost about a quarter of their value since Dell’s $60 billion deal to buy EMC was announced on October 12.

EMC’s share value puts the acquisition at risk because Dell was set to pay EMC shareholders $24.05 per share in cash and a special stock that tracks the common shares of VMware.

Word on the street is that under the new plan, EMC would assume Virtustream’s losses by keeping a majority stake, and VMware would only have a minority stake. EMC may announce the plan as early as December.

Under the terms of the Dell deal, EMC shareholders will receive a 0.111 share of VMware tracking stock for each EMC share.  Analysts have said the plan would pressure VMware’s share price as it effectively increases the size of the float.


Google has another cloud push

Ary Pleysier - Beach View with Boats - Wikimedia CommonsGoogle has tapped VMware co-founder and industry veteran Diane Greene to lead another push on the cloud.

CEO Sundar Pichai is very keen to press ahead with efforts to gain more market share on the cloud. He wants to sell cloud storage space to enterprises and see off rivals like Amazon.com and Microsoft.

Amazon’s cloud business is now its fastest-growing business, while Microsoft is banking on cloud computing to make up for slowing sales of personal computers.

Greene has been a Google director for three years. She will lead a new team combining the company’s cloud businesses, including Google for Work, Cloud Platform, and Google Apps.

Google will buy Greene’s startup bebop Technologies which is a development platform that helps build and maintain enterprise applications. Greene and the bebop team will join Google after the transaction closes this year.

She will continue to serve on Google’s board as a non-independent director, the company said.

Greene was replaced as VMware’s CEO by former Microsoft Corp executive Paul Maritz in 2008.

Microsoft launches cloudy bitcoin experiment

cloudMicrosoft has launched a cloud-based blockchain platform on which will allow financial institutions to experiment cheaply and easily with bitcoin.

Vole has teamed up with ConsensYs to create a huge, decentralized ledger of every bitcoin transaction, which is verified and shared by a global computer network. It is supposed to be virtually tamper-proof.

Blockchain technology is not limited to bitcoin and can be used to secure and validate the exchange of any data. Others are building blockchains to provide additional features to the bitcoin. Vole is using one of them, called Ethereum, as its blockchain platform.

Microsoft’s cunning plan is to make the platform will be available to banks and insurance companies that are already using Azure. Vole said four large global financial institutions had already signed up to the service.

Vole claims the platform provided a “fail fast, fail cheap” model for firms: they can experiment with the cloud-based technology using templates provided by Microsoft without having to build their own systems.

The technology allows companies to create their own private blockchains, or so-called “smart contracts” that automatically execute the terms of an agreement, in 20 minutes, even with no prior experience.

Microsoft has been attempting to shift its focus to cloud services as demand for the Windows operating system slows. Last month it reported an eight percent increase in its cloud business for the first quarter.

Microsoft is out of the Ballmer doledrums

steve-ballmer-tongue-540x334The software king of the world has finally broken free from its bad case of the Ballmers.

After being static for a while now, the software giant Microsoft has seen its figures go through the roof, thanks mostly to its cloud technology.

Microsoft reported better than expected quarterly adjusted revenue boosted by burgeoning demand for its cloud products. This sent the value of its shares soaring by 9.8 percent.

Chief Executive Satya Nadella has been shifting the company focus to software and cloud services as demand for the Windows operating system slows in a weak PC market. The figures seem to show he was right.

Revenue from Microsoft’s cloud business, which includes products such as Windows Server and cloud-based platforms such as Azure, rose 8 percent to $5.9 billion and is expected to reach $6.2-$6.3 billion in the current quarter.

Microsoft  has also been cutting costs and fired some of its staff, streamlining its operations to focus on more lucrative businesses.

“The job reductions were spread across more than one business area and country and reflect adaptations to business needs,” a spokeswoman said in an email. The cuts are in addition to the 7,800 jobs Microsoft said it would cut in July.

Excluding the impact of the strong dollar, revenue in the business rose 14 percent, accounting for about 29 percent of overall revenue in the quarter ended September 30.

The results were the first to include Windows 10, Microsoft’s first new operating system in almost three years..

Sales of Windows to computer makers fell six percent in the quarter – slowing from the double-digit declines seen in recent quarters.

The big test for Windows will be in coming quarters as Microsoft rolls out its latest devices, including its first laptop, a revamped Surface Pro tablet and new Lumia phones.

Revenue in the business that includes Windows, fell 17 percent to $9.4 billion, accounting for 46 percent of total revenue, and is forecast to hit $12.0-$12.4 billion in the current quarter.

Microsoft got about 54 percent of its revenue from outside the United States in 2015.

The company’s net income rose to $4.62 billion in the quarter, from $4.54 billion last year.

Adjusted revenue fell 6.6 percent to $21.66 billion. Analysts on average were expecting revenue of $21.03 billion.


Google hunts down Microsoft Office

Microsoft campusMicrosoft Office is still a cash generator for the Redmond outfit but now it looks like Google wants to snaffle that business from it in the enterprise market.

Google said in a statement that it will not charge for its Google Apps for Work software for three years and will also subsidise companies that want to move from the Microsoft software to its own.

Google already makes a considerable amount of money from its software and services, and the attraction to enterprises could be that they won’t have to sign long contracts for programs – that’s the Microsoft model.

Instead, Google wants to offer subscriptions which will give access to software and end up costing companies far less.

Microsoft isn’t sitting down on the cloud front – its Office 365 is a cloud product that seems to be doing pretty well.

SAP claims its cloud is on target

SAP logoThe mysterious German software company which makes expensive business software is doing better than expected.

SAP has been putting a ton of money investing in the cloud and it said that its strong third quarter results were the result.

In a statement, SAP reported a 19 percent rise in third-quarter operating profit to $1.54 billion, confirming results it pre-announced last week.

Chief Executive Bill McDermott claimed that the reason why SAP didn’t raise the guidance is because it is an annual guidance and the biggest part of the annual operating plan is still to be determined based on SAP’s fourth-quarter.

SAP has a target to increase cloud and software revenue by eight to 10 percent in constant currencies during 2015. McDermott thinks he is on track to do that.

The company is doing a lot better than IBM in getting its cloud act together, but is still not as big a market player as Salesforce or Amazon,


Big Blue still blue and seeing dark clouds

Clouds over the Old Power Station, OxfordDespite all its restructuring, IBM can’t pull itself out of trouble.

Yesterday Big Blue had a bigger than expected drop in revenue and cut its full year profit forecast.

It appears that the stronger US dollar had made IBM slump in demand from China and emerging markets much worse.

It is the 14th time in a row that Big Blue’s revenues have fallen. The outfit has sold off a lot of its low margin businesses but the more lucrative area of cloud computing has not paid off yet.

IBM’s China business was particularly hard hit, with fewer big deals causing revenue from that country to fall 17 percent, IBM’s chief financial officer said on a conference call with analysts. Sales in Brazil, Russia, India and China combined were down 30 percent.

The company gets more than half its business from overseas saw overall revenue from continuing operations was cut nine percent by a strong US dollar.

The company’s total revenue fell 13.9 percent to $19.28 billion in the quarter, below analysts’ average forecast of $19.62 billion.

Martin Schroeder IBM’s CFO said there were weakness in its consulting and storage businesses for the revenue shortfall, after taking currency moves and discontinued business into account.

“I would characterise it as the consulting and systems integration business moving away from these large, packaged applications and the storage business moving to flash and to the cloud,” Schroeter said.

Revenue from what the company calls “strategic imperatives,” which include cloud and mobile computing, data analytics, social and security software, rose about 17 percent in the third quarter ended September 30.

Yet the new businesses have so far failed to make up for revenue lost to divestitures.

IBM’s net income from continuing operations fell to $2.96 billion from $3.46 billion a year earlier.

Consolidated net income rose to $2.95 billion from $18 million last year. Last year profit was hurt by non-recurring pre-tax charge of $3.3 billion, net of tax, for discontinued operations.

Amazon lets punters build apps on its cloud

AmazonAmazon’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services, has launched a service to help customers build applications to connect devices through the cloud.

It is all part of the “Internet of Things” idea which has put the cloud in a central place in developers’ thinking.

The service, called “AWS IoT”, will allow factory floors, vehicles, health care systems, household appliances among other “things” to connect through cloud services, a spokesAmazon said.

Amazon’s Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogels said at a company event in Las Vegas that the beta version of the service is now available,

The connection to the cloud will be fast and lightweight, making it a good fit for devices that have limited memory, processing power, or battery life, Amazon said.

Technology firms including Google, Intel, Cisco, Samsung  and Vodafone and Verizon are betting heavily on the relatively new technology to drive revenue and profit in the future. However they really need a cloud system behind it all to make it go.

Microsoft also launched an IoT suite last week.

Amazon said  there were no minimum fees for AWS IoT and customers using the service will have to only pay for what they use.

The prices will be determined on the number of messages, defined by Amazon as a 512-byte block of data, exchanged between devices and AWS IoT.

Amazon said it would offer customers 250,000 free messages per month, for 12 months. Prices start at $5 for every million messages, the company said.

Fortune reported on Monday that Amazon planned to announce a cloud-based service for the “Internet of Things”.