Microsoft revs up connected car cloud service with TomTom

Connor Jones

9 Sep, 2019

Satellite navigation giant TomTom has partnered with Microsoft to integrate its technology in the Redmond company’s cloud-based Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP).

Navigation usage data will be collected and sent back to the platform, which works in tandem with Microsoft Azure, and will allow car manufacturers to make better-informed decisions for tailored services, thanks to being able to tap into the compute power of a large cloud platform. 

Diagnostic data will also be driven back to the platform which will allow car makers to make data-driven decisions for engineering and design changes.

TomTom’s location intelligence which includes traffic information and map services will also be made available to cars’ navigation apps in addition to aiding autonomous driving.

MCVP aims to unify connected cars and the data they collect with its Azure platform so its customers can create improved in-vehicle services, such as traffic alerts and better understand the needs of those with connected cars.

It extends further from just consumers, commercial and industrial vehicles are all compatible with the platform so businesses can harness the data from their fleet of trucks, ships, drones and cranes to help create more efficient processes.

Microsoft has already attracted prominent vehicle manufacturers to its platform; Volkswagen agreed last year to build its automotive cloud platform on Azure.

“Our integration with the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform means that automakers can get access to precise and reliable navigation and driving behaviour data easily, while of course adhering to privacy principles,” said Cees van Dok, chief product officer at TomTom.

“This data could, for instance, be used to predict the range of an electric vehicle based on driving behaviour and planned route more accurately; or to work out, based on navigation behaviour, what connectivity package for online navigation would be best suited for a driver. This is a game-changer for OEMs.” 

This TomTom-Microsoft partnership is an extension to its existing relationship, which was bolstered in February after the navigation specialist was selected by Microsoft to be its sole location data for its mapping services. TomTom’s data is used across a variety of Microsoft products including Azure Maps, Bing, Cortana, Windows and will also be used in future releases.

“With Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform serving as the digital chassis of the car, telematics, infotainment, and data from sensors are all connected to the cloud in the same way, effectively solving the pain point of managing different systems for scale, security, and reliability,” said Tara Prakriya, partner group program manager of Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform and mobility at Microsoft. “We’re delighted to add navigation intelligence data from TomTom to MCVP.” 

The pair’s partnership hasn’t always been so fruitful, though. Back in 2009, they both sued each other within a month, alleging patent infringements on both sides. The case was later settled with both sides having to pay the other an undisclosed sum.

New initiative aims to create ‘first ocean-powered data centre’ in Scotland

Remember Project Natick, Microsoft’s experiment last year in placing a data centre underwater off Orkney? A little further down the Scottish coast, another company is looking to use the ocean waves to create sustainability in infrastructure – but through a slightly different method.

SIMEC Atlantis Energy is looking to build the first ‘ocean-powered data centre in the world’ in Caithness, with the aim of attracting a hyperscale cloud infrastructure provider for its hosting needs. The facility will utilise electricity from a private wire network from tidal turbines at MeyGen, an existing project site, as its power supply.

“The MeyGen project has a seabed lease and consents secured for a further 80MW of tidal capacity, in addition to the 6MW operational array which has now generated more than 20,000MWh of electricity for export to the grid,” the company notes in its press materials.

SIMEC Atlantis is looking to partner with engineering firm AECOM to assess the feasibility of the project, with particular regard to connectivity, with the target date for operations set at 2024. The company noted a smaller initial data centre module could be deployed sooner.

“This exciting project represents the marriage of a world-leading renewable energy project in MeyGen with a data centre operator that seeks to provide its clients with a large amount of computing power, powered from a sustainable and reliable source – the ocean,” said Tim Cornelius, SIMEC Atlantis CEO. “At MeyGen we have many of the ingredients to provide clean power to the data centre, including a large grid connection agreement, proximity to international fibre optic connections and persistent cool weather.”

Cornelius added that Scotland can ‘play a key role in the global data centre industry.’ This is based upon the dual advantage of a more temperate climate and access to clean energy. Speaking to the BBC last year around Project Natick, Microsoft confirmed Orkney’s location was chosen primarily because of its renewable energy expertise.

Scandinavia has seen various energy-efficient initiatives taking place, many taking advantage of its suitable geography. Last year, Nordics-based provider DataPlex announced it was reusing wastage from its data centre facilities to heat apartments in Oslo. Last month, the company launched a guide to help businesses solidify their data centre strategies – with sustainability a key message. Various stakeholders are involved; as far back as 2015, this publication reported on a study in Sweden – later passed as legislation – to give tax breaks on electricity for data centre providers.

In terms of the biggest cloud providers, Google announced last April it was running all of its clouds on renewable energy. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is not at that level yet however, announcing in April new projects with the goal of achieving 100% renewable energy for its global infrastructure. A report from Greenpeace at the time however argued some of AWS’ data centres were running off as little as 12% renewable energy.

Writing for this publication in July, Hiren Parakh, senior director of cloud services EMEA at OVH, noted the key trends emerging to create sustainability in the data centre industry. “Through a fully integrated industrial model, providers are capable of building systems that are more energy efficient and should always thrive to optimise the use of data centres and server resources across their customer base,” wrote Parakh. “When it comes to managing and fitting out a data centre, it’s clear that sustainability needs to be top of mind.” in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

Five digital transformation tips for HR

Esther Kezia Thorpe

6 Sep, 2019

IT departments have long been the focus of digital transformation efforts, with business leaders expecting them both to innovate themselves, as well as drive transformation across other business departments.

But sometimes, other departments like Finance, HR and Marketing can be left behind in these initiatives, and can risk missing out on time-saving tools and software.

There are ways HR can drive digital transformation themselves without waiting for company-wide initiatives. Here are some tips to help take your HR operations digital, whilst ensuring compliance with company procedures.

What does it take to ‘go digital’ in HR? This whitepaper on ‘7 digital best practices for HR professionals’ takes you through what you need to know to make the transformation.

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Get on board with the cloud

Moving systems and processes to the cloud can be an important first step in an organisation’s digital transformation strategy, and this is certainly true when it comes to HR. It opens the door to enable flexible working, which is increasingly one of the most valued factors when employees are looking for jobs.

The cloud can also help HR and people teams analyse global workforce data to spot trends and issues in advance, as well as understand what employees need.

In fact, there are many complete HR cloud software technologies available, which manage the complete core workflow of the department. Not all businesses require this level of system; sometimes, strategic systems for specific issues are more cost-efficient.

Automate routine processes

Conversations about automation tend to revolve around stealing jobs and making the need for humans redundant. But automation can actually be used to enhance the work we do if implemented in the right way, and may, in fact, end up creating more jobs than it eliminates.

Workload automation and job scheduling of routine tasks and processes frees up HR staff to focus on higher-value tasks. It can improve productivity, efficiency and reliability of staff by removing human errors, and ensuring jobs aren’t forgotten, or run out of sequence.

Using automation in the hiring process can also help with reducing discrimination in HR. Talent insight software can analyse the workforce composition of a company, identifying areas where diversity may be an issue. There are also tools available to sift through applications automatically, identifying the best people to take to interview stage. 

Harness data and analytics

Artificial intelligence and automation are making analytics even more powerful, which in turn has benefits for HR departments. There’s a current trend for IT and HR to work together on data projects, as companies are beginning to realise that growth is reliant on connecting people to the data they need to make decisions.

Cloud human capital management (HCM) software can introduce effective tools, allowing for real-time feedback and deeper understanding with predictive analytics

Some of these data and analytics tools are giving rise to ‘people analytics’, which HR teams can use to do things like predict which of a company’s top performers is most likely to leave, so preventative action can be taken.

Smart analytics are even starting to make waves in areas like workplace health. By harnessing the power of big data and smart analytics, some employers are identifying and anticipating the health needs of their employees, and putting the right infrastructure in place to support their continuing productivity.

These examples may seem a little extreme at present, but being able to gather and use good data can improve HR’s understanding of the workforce, and help improve employee engagement by creating better experiences.

Go paperless

A key part of digital transformation is reducing the need for paper documents and workflows. Going paperless has a number of benefits for HR professionals, from reducing the time it takes to get offer and agreement letters signed, to speeding up the onboarding process. 

Demonstrating that you have a technically sophisticated digital workflow from the very start will help with attracting the best candidates who want to work for agile and forward-thinking companies.

However, transformations like this should be done alongside the IT department, as the company will need to evaluate how secure and compliant a new digital workflow is, especially when dealing with personal data.

‘7 digital best practices for HR professionals’ outlines the important ways that HR teams can make progress in their digital transformations. Download it here.

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Collaborate across departments

When it comes to digital transformation, new processes, software and tools can benefit every department in a company. Collaborating with different parts of the business to find out what processes can be made better, and which ones are working well, can be a good way of finding ways of doing things that can work across multiple departments.

Even collaboration and communication within your own HR team can quickly bring to light frustrating tasks that can be improved by introducing digital processes. 

Creating a friendly and collaborative working environment is also important when undergoing digital transformation to ensure that less tech-savvy employees don’t get left behind. If they feel able to ask for help and are encouraged to learn how to work with digital tools, this will be hugely beneficial for staff engagement and retention.

An analysis of Kubernetes and OpenStack combinations for modern data centres

Editor's note: This article was originally published on OpenStack Superuser. CloudTech has the author's permission to re-publish here.

For many telecom service providers and enterprises who are transforming their data centre to modern infrastructure, moving to containerised workloads has become a priority. However, vendors often do not choose to shift completely to a containerised model.

Data centres have to support virtual machines (VMs) as well to keep up with legacy VMs. Therefore, a model of managing virtual machines with OpenStack and containers using Kubernetes has become popular. In an OpenStack survey conducted in 2018, it was seen that 61% OpenStack deployments are also working with Kubernetes.

Apart from this, some of the recent tie-ups and releases of platforms clearly show this trend. For example:

  • AT&T’s three year deal with Mirantis to develop 5G core backed by Kubernetes and OpenStack
  • Platform9’s Managed OpenStack and Kubernetes – providing required featured sets bundled in solution stack for the service provider as well as developers. They support Kubernetes on VMware platform as well
  • Nokia’s CloudBand release – containing Kubernetes and OpenStack for workload orchestrations
  • OpenStack Foundation’s recently announced Airship project aiming to bring the power of OpenStack and Kubernetes in one framework

The core part of a telecom network or any virtualised core of a data centre has undergone a revolution, shifting from physical network functions to virtual network functions (VNFs). Organisations are now adopting cloud-native network functions (CNFs) to help bring CI/CD-driven agility into the picture.

This journey is shown in one of the slides from the Telecom User Group session at KubeCon Barcelona in May, which was delivered by Dan Kohn, the executive director of CNCF and Cheryl Hund, the director of ecosystem of CNCF. (Image source).


According to the slide, presently, application workloads deployed in virtual machines (VNFs) and containers (CNFs) can be managed with OpenStack and Kubernetes, respectively, on top of bare metal or any cloud. The optional part that is ONAP is a containerised MANO framework, which is managed with Kubernetes.

As discussed in birds-of-a-feather (BoF) – telecom user group session delivered by Kohn –  with the progress of Kubernetes for cloud-native movement, it is expected that CNFs will be a key workload type. Kubernetes will be used to orchestrate CNFs as well as VNFs. VNFs will be segregated with KubeVirt or Virtlet or OpenStack on top of Kubernetes.

Approaches for managing workloads using Kubernetes and OpenStack

Let’s understand the approaches of integrating Kubernetes with OpenStack for managing containers and VMs.

The first approach can be a basic approach wherein Kubernetes co-exists with OpenStack to manage containers. It gives a good performance but you cannot manage unified infrastructure resources through a single pane. This causes problems associated with planning and devising policies across workloads. Also, it can be difficult to diagnose any problems affecting the performance of resources in operations.

The second approach can be running a Kubernetes cluster in a VM managed by OpenStack. This enables OpenStack-based infrastructure to leverage the benefits of Kubernetes within a centrally managed OpenStack control system. Also, it allows full-feature multi-tenancy and security benefits for containers in an OpenStack environment. However, this contributes to performance lags and necessitates additional workflows to manage VMs that are hosting Kubernetes.

The third approach is an innovative one, leaning towards a completely cloud-native environment. In this approach, Kubernetes can be replaced with OpenStack to manage containers along with VMs as well. Workloads take complete advantage of hardware accelerators and Smart NICs, among others. With this, it is possible to offer integrated VNS solutions with container workloads for any data centre, but this demands improved networking capabilities like in OpenStack (SFC, provider networks, segmentation).

Kubernetes versus OpenStack –  is it true?

If you looked at the recent VMworld 2019 US event, it was clearly seen that Kubernetes would be everywhere. There were 66 sessions and plenty of hands-on training that will focus only on Kubernetes integration in every aspect of IT infrastructure.

But is that the end of OpenStack? No. As we have already seen, the combination of both systems will be a better bet for any organisation that wants to stick with traditional workloads while gradually moving to a new container-based environment.

How Kubernetes and OpenStack are going to combine

I came across a very decent LinkedIn post by Michiel Manten. He stated that there are downfalls for both containers and VMs. Both have their own use cases and orchestration tools. OpenStack and Kubernetes will complement each other if properly combined to run some of the workloads in VMs to get isolation benefits within a server and some in containers. One way to achieve this combination is to run Kubernetes clusters within VMs in OpenStack, which eliminates the security pitfalls of containers while leveraging the reliability and resiliency of VMs.

What are the benefits?

  • Combining systems will immediately benefit all current workloads so that enterprises can start their modernisation progress, maintaining high speed with much lower cost than commercial solutions
  • Kubernetes and OpenStack can be an ideal and flexible solution for any form of a cloud or new far-edge cloud where automated deployment, orchestration, and latency will be the concern
  • All workloads will be in a single network in a single IT ecosystem. This makes it easier to apply high-level network and security policies
  • OpenStack supports most enterprise storage and networking systems in use today. Running Kubernetes with and on top of OpenStack enables a seamless integration of containers into your IT infrastructure. Whether you want to run containerized applications bare metal or VMs, OpenStack allows you to run containers the best way for your business
  • Kubernetes has self-healing capabilities for infrastructure. As it is integrated into an OpenStack, it can enable easy management and resiliency to failure of core services and compute nodes
  • A recent release of OpenStack software (OpenStack Stein) has several enhancements to support Kubernetes in the stack. A team behind OpenStack Certified Kubernetes installer made it possible to deploy all containers in a cluster within five minutes regardless of the number of nodes. It was previously 10-12 minutes. With this, we can launch a very large-scale Kubernetes environment in 5 minutes

Telecom service providers who have taken steps towards 5G agreed upon the fact that a cloud-native core is imperative for a 5G network. OpenStack and Kubernetes are mature, open-source operating and orchestration frameworks today. Providing agility is the key capability of Kubernetes for data centers and OpenStack has several successful projects for focusing on storage and networking of workloads, and support for myriad applications.

Editor's note: Download the Calsoft eBook – A Deep-Dive On Kubernetes For Edge –  focusing on current scenarios of adoption of Kubernetes for edge use cases, latest Kubernetes and edge case studies, deployment approaches, commercial solutions and efforts by open communities.

The post Analysis of Kubernetes and OpenStack Combination for Modern Data Centers appeared first on Calsoft Inc. Blog. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

Now is the time to embrace remote working

Adam Shepherd

6 Sep, 2019

I’ll be honest; it’s been a little hard to concentrate on writing this month’s column. As I write, Boris Johnson and the Conservative party have lost their parliamentary majority, somehow plunging the Brexit situation into even more chaos.

This latest phase of the debacle has got me thinking about what will happen to businesses in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The potential negative impacts have been well-documented, from a shutdown of data transfers with the EU to severe delays on international shipments, but the issue that keeps playing on my mind is the strong possibility of a resulting skills crunch.

A clampdown on immigration from EU countries has been high on the list of hardcore Brexiteers’ priorities, which will likely reduce the pool of skilled tech workers entering the country. Even if European developers and specialists aren’t barred from entering the country following Brexit, and the ones already here not compelled to return home, one could hardly blame them for choosing to take their talents to a more welcoming and less chaotic nation.

A sudden lack of locally-based technology talent is a real possibility that businesses have to confront, but there are ways around it. One is to focus on upskilling or cross-skilling existing staff, but that takes time – time that organisations may not have if the impact of no deal is as sudden as some are predicting.

A better option is to embrace remote working. The fact is that, when it comes to technical roles, there’s very little need for all your staff to work out of a corporate office. Cloud infrastructure platforms and SaaS tools allow companies to manage and administrate the vast majority of their IT remotely if they so choose, and even when it comes to physical infrastructure or hands-on IT support, you only really need a small in-house team to effect physical changes, while off-site employees handle the configuration. This is even more true when it comes to developers and software engineers, who can be based anywhere in the world and still be just as effective at their jobs.

For many businesses, the biggest worry with moving to remote working is making sure staff remain connected with colleagues and managers, and continue to be engaged with the business. It’s easy for remote workers to feel isolated or ostracised if efforts aren’t made to include them, but collaboration platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Dropbox, Skype and Google Hangouts are all great tools for ensuring they still feel like part of the team.

Rolling out these tools can have benefits for employees outside of IT as well, increasing productivity and efficiency, as well as allowing office-based staff to work flexibly if they want. Ensuring new systems are adopted can be a challenge, of course, but the long-term benefits are worth it.

By making use of these technologies, organisations can make sure they can recruit and retain European tech staff in the event of a no-deal Brexit, but time is of the essence. If the walls go up on 31 October and you don’t already have wheels in motion to implement remote working within your business, you’ll be on the back foot compared to rivals that do. You may be tempted to wait and see how things pan out, but let’s be honest – it’s far better to be prepared.

Microsoft to acquire cloud migration tool provider Movere

Microsoft is to acquire Movere, a SaaS platform which increases visibility on IT environments, the companies have announced.

Movere – whom industry watchers may remember until last year as Unified Logic – aims to ‘capture, integrate and analyse the data [companies] need to make smart decisions about their IT environment’, as the company puts it.

The company’s dashboard organically scans global environments at a highest rate of 1,000 servers per hour and focuses across multiple parts of the cloud migration journey, as well as cybersecurity.

Movere has been a partner of Microsoft for more than 10 years and will join the Azure team as part of Azure Migrate, according to a Microsoft blog post.

“We’re committed to providing our customers with a comprehensive experience for migrating existing applications and infrastructure to Azure, which include the right tools, processes, and programs,” wrote Jeremy Winter, partner director for Azure management. “As part of that ongoing investment, we’re excited to welcome the leadership, talent, technology, and deep expertise Movere has built in enabling customers’ journey to the cloud over the last 11 years.”

For Kristin Ireland, CEO of Movere, the acquisition was a time of reflection on the company’s journey to date.

“On our journey to cloud, we made mistakes that cost us valuable time and resources that we didn’t have,” Ireland wrote. “As we spread our wings in the cloud, we realised the cloud was the embodiment of Movere – the unleashing of business potential through migration – we knew we had to be part of that journey for as many customers as we could.

“We passionately believe the cloud journey is what opens the door to market disrupting ideas and opportunities; to be part of that journey with customers and partners is a privilege,” added Ireland. “Thank you to our partners and customers for allowing us to be part of that journey thus far; we are so excited to continue to be faster and better for you as part of the Microsoft Azure team.”

The move represents the first cloudy acquisition of 2019 for Microsoft, aside from investing in big data analytics platform Databricks back in February. This year has been relatively quiet thus far on the acquisition front from the big two; Amazon Web Services (AWS) acquired CloudEndure for a reported $250 million at the start of this year, with undisclosed offers for TSO Logic and E8 Storage since.

Google Cloud, meanwhile, has made more of a statement around its enterprise ambitions with three acquisitions. The company bought business intelligence platform Looker for an all-cash $2.6bn transaction in June, alongside deals for Alooma and Elastifile in February and July respectively.

Financial terms of the Microsoft and Movere deal were not disclosed. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

Telstra partners with Microsoft on business-focused data-sharing hub

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

5 Sep, 2019

Telstra has launched a platform to give customers the capacity to seamlessly share data from their Internet of Things (IoT) devices using Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

The two companies have teamed up to co-develop the Telstra Data Hub, a modular system which aims to reduce the barriers that businesses face when it comes to sharing data, including the costs involved.

The technology will allow organisations, initially within the connected supply chain, water management and agribusiness industries, to share and exchange data securely.

The thinking is that by allowing businesses to harness their data through the platform, it’ll lead to productivity gains.

“Our heritage is in building national infrastructure that benefits generations,” said Telstra’s group executive for product and technology Christian von Reventlow.

“We see more than $100 billion in incremental value to customers and the economy through digitisation and data-driven collaboration.

“We are excited to be partnering with Microsoft and unveiling this new innovation today at Telstra Vantage and we look forward to sharing further news as we continue to develop this exciting product.”

The telecoms firm outlined a case study centred on the connected supply chain, in which one of Australia’s largest supermarkets has used the system to track and monitor shipping containers to reduce the cost of missing cargo.

The supermarket, and its partners, can in future use data accessed via the hub to respond to ongoing operational problems, as well as understand chokepoints and improve efficiencies within the supply chain.

Telstra identified several problems it aims to solve, including a reluctance to share data for fear of losing control, high costs in setting up platforms, a lack of data standardisation and having to integrate various systems together.

The partnership is part of a wider effort across the industry to give business customers far more power to access and exploit the vast amounts of data gathered.

Salesforce and Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example, bolstered their existing partnership in September last year to simplify data sharing, and give customers better access to data to drive digital transformation.

NHS launches new cloud procurement framework

Rene Millman

5 Sep, 2019

The NHS, through its Shared Business Services (SBS) arm, has launched a new procurement framework that provides the entire public sector with a simple and legally compliant way to purchase cloud solutions.

The Cloud Solutions Framework is comprised of 24 suppliers and will be available to the NHS, local authorities, police, educational establishments, and any other public sector organisation.

The four lot scheme covering a wide range of cloud support that includes both bespoke and off-the-shelf solutions.

Lot 1 offers solution design and consultancy, Lot 2 covers IaaS, SaaS and PaaS offerings, Lot 3 includes cloud support services, while Lot 4 offers end-to-end cloud that helps organisations find a trusted partner that can offer complete start-to-finish support for its cloud journey.

The framework will run until September 2021, but there is an option to extend this for two more years. It will also encourage suppliers to launch new products and solutions throughout the life of the agreement to benefit the public sector.

The cloud market is a very crowded and complex on, according to Phil Davies, procurement director at NHS SBS who said the aim of the new framework was to remove some of that complexity. 

“To ensure framework users have access to the very best cloud services at the most competitive price, we carried out a rigorous tender process and limited the number of suppliers on the framework to the 10 or 20 most outstanding in each Lot. The result is a specialist pool of 24 leading suppliers, which provide the greatest expertise and value-for-money to the public sector,” he said.

“The framework is structured in a way that includes a full range of cloud support services. It means that regardless of where a public body is on its journey into the cloud, or how straightforward or complex its requirements, purchasing the right support is simple, cost-effective and OJEU-compliant.”

A full list of suppliers on the new NHS SBS Cloud Solutions Framework is available here.

Microsoft snaps up cloud migration specialist

Bobby Hellard

5 Sep, 2019

Microsoft has acquired Movere, a cloud-migration specialist, for an undisclosed fee.

The Seattle-based company will add its expertise in public cloud business transitions to Azure as Microsoft look to continue to grow its partner ecosystem.

Movere, formerly known as Unified Logic, launched in 2008 as a consulting company, moved into the cloud migration space after undergoing one itself.

“On our journey to cloud, we made mistakes that cost us valuable time and resources that we didn’t have,” CEO Kristin Ireland said in a blog post. “As we spread our wings in the cloud, we realised the cloud was the embodiment of Movere.”

From there, the company became a vehicle for digital transformation, and crucially, of interest to Microsoft.

“There is an enormous amount of energy and enthusiasm about the possibilities for what Movere and Microsoft can do together to continue to bring deeper value (and data!) to customers and partners alike,” Ireland added.

Microsoft has firmly established itself as the number two in the cloud infrastructure market. The tech giant said it was committed to providing its customers with a “comprehensive experience” for migrating their existing applications and infrastructure to Azure.

“Movere’s innovative discovery and assessment capabilities will complement Azure Migrate and our integrated partner solutions, making migration an easier process for our customers,” said Jeremy Winter, partner director for Azure.

“We believe that successful cloud migrations enable business transformation and this acquisition underscores our investments to make that happen.”

This is the third Azure-based acquisition in recent months; in July, Microsoft snapped up BlueTalon, a software company that focuses on data-centric security and hybrid data environments. A month later, it acquired jClarity, a software company that specialises in Java installations.

While it still trails behind AWS, Microsoft’s cloud business is growing fast. The company reported Azure revenue grew 64% in the last quarter, while sales of AWS rose by 37%.

Why embracing the cloud means preparing for problems you can’t control

Cloud computing. Cloud-native computing. Software as a service. They're all secure and reliable. Except when they're not.

Recently, we've seen Microsoft Azure suffer an extended outage and Docker Hub get hacked. Organisations deploying SaaS applications often assume the vendor provides adequate data protection and they neglect the need for backup. However, the last few years have seen massive outages among some of the major cloud and SaaS providers that seem to have brought down the internet; service outages that might or might not have halted productivity within thousands of companies; and any number of SaaS start-ups shutting down, getting hacked or simply just losing data.

Higher standards of customer experience are driving demand among end-users for always-on services. As a result, end-user tolerance for disruption is at an all-time-low. Simultaneously, end-users now have the power to publicly vent their frustrations with disrupted organisations via social media, thus exacerbating the overall reputational damage of service outages.

Combined with the threat of disruption causing a breach of regulatory compliance and landing organisations with huge penalties such as those stipulated in the GDPR, it is understandable why some organisational leads may hesitate when migrating operational infrastructure to the cloud.

But, of course, clinging to the past would be crazy for any company that actually wants to remain competitive by using and building cutting-edge applications. For all but a small handful of companies (some of which actually run public clouds), there is no realistic vision of a successful future that doesn't involve some combination of clouds, containers and SaaS – probably all three.

The trick is adopting these things intelligently and accounting for the very real possibility that something will, at some point, go wrong. To support any cloud hosted applications, an effective back-up strategy needs to be put in place. The same goes for each SaaS application.

What the best solutions look like will vary widely based on the company, although it seems logical to settle for nothing less than cloud-native best practices around high availability and automated security patching. That means building resilience into the compute, storage and networking tiers, designing apps that tolerate component failure, and sometimes using multi-cloud platforms.

And while container security is a newer concern than, say, VM security, there are a lot of tools-from start-ups, large IT vendors and even open source communities-that can provide peace of mind. A SaaS application that doesn't let you export your data is probably not a SaaS application worth using, but the good news is there's no shortage of SaaS applications.

For example, application components can be automatically patched and upgraded, while application infrastructure should regularly be re-paved in order to expunge any system-level malware or advanced persistent threats. At the application level, a growing number of organisations are adopting tools that automatically scan code for vulnerabilities and offer guidance on how to remedy them.

Ultimately, the process of SaaS backup is similar to backing up a standard but complex on-premise application. Look at the whole service and ensure all the components and dependencies are covered in the back-up plan. When managing a SaaS application, the nature of the business is providing services to consumers, not internal staff. The stakes – in terms of both reputation and financial impact – can be significant. It is essential that, as a provider, any disruptive issues around providing the service are mitigated as much as possible. Backup is part of that continuity planning.

What businesses can't do is let fear and uncertainty get in the way of progress, which is what cloud computing, however defined and in all its forms, ultimately delivers. Getting things like security and reliability right might require spending a little more time and money on software, engineers, and maybe even lawyers, but the payoff over the long term should make up for any early investments many times over.

In today’s business environment, settling for the status quo isn't a viable option, thinking ahead is a much better option than rushing into the cloud and ending up on the receiving end of an outage, breach or other large-scale incident that could have been avoided with just a little forethought. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.