Tag: Cloud

Google offers cloud for those who can wait

main-01Search engine Google is offering a new cloud computing service for customers who do not need data in a hurry.

The outfit has released a new compute service on the Google Cloud Platform that costs 70 percent less on average than an equivalent standard instance in the same configuration on the Google Compute Engine.

If you use the Google Compute Engine Preemptible Virtual Machine Google can shut down the job at any time and it will be little slower.

Writing in his bog, Google Senior Product Manager Paul Nash said there were a variety of computer tasks that fit nicely into this pricing model.

The service, now in beta, would be good for fault-tolerant workloads that can be distributed easily across multiple virtual machines. Although jobs such as data analytics, genomics, and simulation and modelling can require lots of computational power, they can run periodically, or even if one or more nodes they’re using goes offline.

Google’s budget service is somewhat similar to Amazon Web Service’s Spot Instances, also designed for jobs that can be interrupted. AWS’ model is different because its price can fluctuate according to demand, whereas Google’s prices are fixed. The Compute Engine Pre-emptible Virtual Machine can cost as little as US$0.01 per instance per hour.

Google is using leftover capacity in its data centres. If demand for its services spikes, the pre-emptible virtual machines (VMs) get bumped. Users are given a 30 second warning, which should give the application time to save its current state and work. No pre-emptible VM can run for more than 24 hours straight.

Satellite imagery processing start up Descartes Labs recently required 30,000 processors to churn through a petabyte of NASA imagery. The lower costs may help the company work with even larger sets of data. Financial investment firm Citadel is another big user of cloud computing that will put these instances to work.


CRM software on the up

SalesforceCustomer Relationship Management (CRM) software may be the most boring software category in the universe but there’s money in them thar lines of code.

Revenues for CRM software amounted to £23.2 billion in 2014 and that’s a rise of 13.3 percent compared to 2013.

A Gartner report said the biggest vendors used acquisitions to increase their market share. Joanne Correia, a senior analyst at the market research company said: “We saw market consolidation continue, and price wars started quickly as large vendors fought to keep their installed base from moving to other vendors and to stop the descent of their maintenance revenue.”

Salesforce led the CRM pack last year, with 16.3 percent market share, while SAP had 12.8 percent of the market, followed by Oracle, Microsoft and IBM. The “others” had 50.4 percent market share, suggesting there’s plenty of room for more mergers and acquisitions. Microsoft was rumoured to be interested in buying Salesforce just a little while ago, but denied it was interested.

Correia said that demand for software as a service (SaaS) continued and represented 47 percent of revenues last year. That’s what kept Salesforce at number one.

She said that over 23 percent of CRM spend last year was in the communications, media and IT service sectors.

US Navy all at sea about cloud

bostin The US Navy has changed course on its cloud strategy before it gets a public broadside.

Apparently the navy has not made as much progress on data centre consolidation and moving to the cloud as it wants to and will change tactics later this year.

John Zangardi, the Navy’s deputy assistant secretary for command, control, computers, intelligence, information operations and space and acting chief information officer said that Data Centre control will have to move to better align consolidation efforts with network efforts and more fully use the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract.

He said that the Navy realised that it had to shift from a mistaken belief that all its data had to be near instead of somewhere in the cloud.

He said that this was a big shift for many within the department. It’s not going to be an easy transition.”

Since 2012, the Navy has made some progress. Zangardi, said over the last three years, the Navy has consolidated 290 systems and apps across 45 sites. But overall, he said getting bases and commands to move faster just isn’t happening.

Zangardi picked three data centres that are lagging behind and required them to develop a plan to consolidate and move their data to a centralised data centre.

The Navy is rationalising its large scale apps. Zangardi said too often people hold their applications and servers close.

He told Federal News  that  while the Navy is open to using commercial or public clouds. .


Intel wants cloud eASIC like Sunday morning

Intel's Gordon Moore and Robert NoyceIntel is to develop integrated cloudy products with eASIC — it is a fabless semiconductor company outfit peddling ASIC devices used in the production of customised silicon devices.

The cunning plan is to combine better processing performance and customizable hardware for data centres and the cloud.

Intel and eASIC  think that the result will be a two times faster than standard field programmable gate array (FPGA) for workloads like security and big data analytics. At the same time, they claim that the products will speed the time to market for custom application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) development by as much as 50 percent.

eASIC will integrate its chip technology with upcoming Intel Xeon processors. Thus, by integrating hardware accelerator solutions with the eASIC platform, Intel can deliver much faster and more flexible cloud and data-centre servers.

The eASIC news follows Intel’s announcement of the Xeon processor E7-8800/4800 v3 product families. These new Xeon chips come with up to 18 cores.

Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Centre (sic) Group in a statement that having the ability to highly customise Intel gear for a given workload will not only make the specific application run faster, but also help accelerate the growth of exciting new applications like visual search.

This collaboration is part of Intel’s strategy to integrate re-programmable technology with its Xeon processors to improve performance, power and cost, she said.

Microsoft astonishes Wall Street

surprised-newspaper-readerSoftware King of the World Microsoft has surprised the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street by making piles more money than expected.

Microsoft reported that sales of its hardware and cloud-computing services helped to offset a decline in the company’s core Windows business and that it was going to party like it was 1999.

While sales of Windows to computer manufacturers to install on new PCs fell 19 percent in the quarter, that decline was offset by higher revenue from its Surface tablet, back-end server software and cloud-related offerings.

The company said its commercial cloud-related revenue for the quarter more than doubled, and was now running at $6.3 billion a year.

Microsoft’s overall revenue rose six percent to $21.7 billion, above Wall Street’s average forecast of $21.1 billion.

If the US dollar had not been so strong revenue would have risen nine percent, Microsoft said. Still you can’t have everything. Besides a huge pile of Microsoft cash is sitting in off-shore bank accounts waiting for the day that the dollar will be worthless again.

IBM buys two companies, deals with Apple

IBM logoBig Blue bought two technology healthcare firms as it re-engineers itself to take advantage of the cloud.

It bought Phytel, a company that develops and sells cloud based services for healthcare providers.

And yesterday it also bought Explorys, a so-called “healthcare intelligence cloud company” with a set of 50 million peoples’ clinical data set.

And in another announcement, it said it was expanding its partnership with Apple – again in the cloud arena.

IBM has a Watson Health business unit, and will support APple with its ResearchKit and HealthKit frameworks. The goal is to give medical researchers a secure open data storage and also use IBM’s data analytics products.

As part of that Apple collaboration, IBM will let researchers access and share their data in the cloud. The company said it will build a suite of enterprise apps called HealthKit. The iOS based apps are intended for enterprises.

While IBM’s re-engineering and acquisition strategy isn’t receiving much notice from the press, behind the scenes it appears to be positioning itself for what it hopes is a ladership role in the cloud and in data analytics in every sector.

IBM takes internet of things to the enterprise

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 10.30.39Space isn’t the final frontier for IBM these days – it got out of storage, printers and even PCs years ago.

But just because it doesn’t do what it used to do it’s difficult to discount its influence and power.

Today it said it will plunge three billion dollars over four years to create an internet of things unit – and guess what – it will be a cloud based unit.

IBM said that it has already pioneered “smarter planets” and “smarter cities”, focusing on water management and making shops easier to walk around.

IBM’s unit will use its experience to help its customers integrate data from what it described as an “unprecedented” number of IoT andother sources.

It will build an open platform.

Bob Picciano, a senior IBM suit, said: “Our knowledge of the world grows with every connected sensr and device, but too often we are not acting on it.”

He estimates that 90 percent of data generated by tablets, smartphones, cars and appliances is never analysed. This may be a good thing in our view, but Picciano thinks not.

“As much as 60 percent of this data begins to lose value within milliseconds of being generated,” he said.

Microsoft does not want to be a US stooge

Microsoft is challenging a data request from the US government which, if it loses, could effectively kill all chances of US companies running cloud businesses anywhere else in the world.

In December 2013, the US government obtained a search warrant requesting information about an email user for an investigation apparently involving drugs and money laundering. Vole said that the data was stored in Ireland, and the company argues the US can’t force it to hand over data stored outside American soil.

The government wanted data associated with an Outlook.com email account, including the content of all emails and the identifying information of the account, according to the search warrant sent to Microsoft.

Microsoft fears that if it hands over the information it means that the US government has a right to take any information which is stored in its cloud. Since the EU would never allow that, it would mean that Microsoft’s cloud business in Europe would be threatened.

Microsoft asked the judge to throw out the request, arguing that the US government doesn’t have the authority to request data overseas with a search warrant.

However another judge in New York ruled in April that Microsoft was compelled to turn over the data regardless of where it’s stored.

In a court filing made public on Monday, Microsoft argued that a search warrant doesn’t apply overseas. Since it doesn’t give authority to “break down the doors of Microsoft’s Dublin facility,” it shouldn’t give the government authority to access data within that facility, Microsoft argued.

Vole said that the warrant was broad and vague, as it requests all content in the user’s account.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said at a conference in New York it was the broadest possible warrant that one can imagine in the 21st century.

Redmond wants the government to use another, legal way to access this kind of data: a so-called mutual legal assistance treaty, or MLAT.

Under that agreement US authorities can access data in that country but, in turn, have to comply with local laws.

The US government argues that companies can’t refuse to comply legal requests “simply by storing the data abroad”.

Preet Bharara, United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said criminals could skirt investigations by lying about their locations and thus forcing Microsoft to store data outside the US, and far from American law enforcement’s reach.

Vole has a lot of legal support for its view. Experts say the relevant law in the case, the oft-maligned 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), clearly requires warrants when accessing content information, and subpoenas have different requirements.

Microsoft said that if the US government’s position is upheld, will end up harming US citizens’ privacy interests because it will invite prosecutors abroad to conduct themselves in the same way, ignore treaty obligations, and serve some form of unilateral process on Microsoft in their countries to obtain US citizens’ data stored in the United States. 

Microsoft integrates rival Salesforce Apps

Software giant Microsoft appears not to be too enthusiastic about writing its own cloud software.

Vole plans to integrate rival Salesforce apps into its Windows and online Office platforms as part of the company’s drive to make the company more cloud-computing friendly.

Salesforce’s customer-management apps will be available on Windows desktop PCs, tablets and mobile devices, while Salesforce users will be able to access Microsoft Office content such as Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.

The pair will also allow for fuller data integration features although it is not clear who has paid for what in the deal.

The collaboration is the latest sign that Chief Executive Satya Nadella’s is intent on forcing Microsoft to work with companies that have a better hold on mobile customers. The new approach, which Nadella calls “mobile first, cloud first”.

Salesforce has been a pioneer in cloud software, Microsoft moved a little slowly to the cloud-based, subscription software model.

The announcement is also a change of heart for Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Benioff was a big fan of Apple and has parroted the anti-Microsoft angle for a long time. Vole is a direct competitor of Salesforce.com with its Microsoft Dynamics suite of business tools. 

Germans counterattack on US cloud claims

The US’s campaign to put the frighteners on European politicians by telling them it is against trade agreements is straightforward lying, the Germans say.

After the US was revealed to be spying on everything Europeans do, the EU decided it would be better to insist that all cloud data stays within the Old Country.

This meant that US companies would have to build local server farms and make sure that data did not leak across the Atlantic.

Clearly that did not sit well with the US IT companies who find it too expensive to set up clouds in the EU. They had been leaning on their paid for Washington sock puppets, er lobbying their local congressmen, to do something about it,

Last week the Office of the United States Trade Representative wrote a report saying that recent proposals from countries within the European Union to create a Europe-only electronic network  – dubbed a “Schengen cloud” by advocates-  or to create national-only electronic networks could potentially lead to “effective exclusion or discrimination against Foreign Service suppliers that are directly offering network services, or dependent on them.”

This amounts to a shot over the bows for the EU that if it does not toe the US line it could face complaints against it in the iTC and possibly trade embargos from the US.

This has not gone down well with European politicians, particularly in Germany, whose Deutsche Telekom was singled out for criticism. After all it is one thing to spy on people, but the rules are that if you are caught doing it, you have to back off. The US on the other hand is threatening that if the EU does not submit to its spying it will suffer from a trade war.

Bavaria’s Minister for Europe, Beate Merk, said while visiting the US that in her talks with the USTR, he had made it clear that our discussions of a “Schengen cloud” had no protectionist background, but is born out of need because of the lost confidence arising from the NSA scandal.

Merk said that the EU had a duty to ensure that the data of people in the EU is safe from unrestrained access by third parties.

Since the US was not offering any more data protection and data security, the EU is obliged “to propose one’s own ideas,” she added.

Merk pointed out that the EU cloud proposals were being made by commercial providers, not put in place through legislation.

This means that it is impossible to say that it is “protectionism.”

Die Welt quoted a German member of the European Parliament as saying that the criticism of the US Trade Representative was bizarre.

“It seems they’ve noticed that people have finally had enough and that spying on data will no longer be tolerated.”

The effect of USTR’s threats will probably mean that the “Schengen cloud” has become an obstacle for the planned [TAFTA/TTIP] free trade agreement.

The agreement has a few problems already. For a start, the US is insisting that its genetically modified food, hormone beef and cheese, be allowed to poison Europeans, which the EU is not prepared to agree on either.