All posts by cloudtech

Uber looks to outsource server infrastructure

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Uber, the ride-sharing giant, is exploring the public cloud and leaving the privacy of its own server infrastructure. Sources say that it has solicited bids from cloud players such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google for hosting part of its server load.

An Uber deal would also mean significant PR for the winning vendor.

The ride-sharing firm has expanded rapidly and is now active in 69 countries worldwide, and it faces the challenge of keeping its servers and software in the best condition to ensure that high performance and availability.

To achieve this speed and performance, Uber is looking to set up server facilities as geographically close to its customers as it can. It would be able to expand the global power of its infrastructure by tapping the cloud computing infrastructure of major providers like Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

According to reports, Uber is only looking to shift small parts of its code to the cloud, but the volume of those parts could be massive for a cloud provider, given the scope of Uber’s worldwide operations. This may trigger significant competition among providers, including IBM and others. This news comes as cloud vendors attempt to win over larger businesses. An Uber deal would also mean significant PR for the winning vendor.

The report further indicates that Uber’s technology is seemingly vendor-neutral, so they may partner with different cloud providers, based on the data centre strength in various regions, like Microsoft in India or Alibaba and Baidu in China.

Uber has not yet commented on or confirmed the matter.

Which cloud provider do you think Uber should partner with? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Ford invests $182.2 million in cloud-based software company Pivotal

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With a view to improve its software development capabilities and fast track innovations to customers, Ford has invested $182.2 million in cloud-based software company Pivotal. The automaker is working towards becoming an auto and a mobility company. Along with a focus on its core automotive business, Ford is looking to boost its Ford Smart Mobility initiative by pursuing leadership in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.

Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO, said: “Expanding our business to be both an auto and mobility company requires leading-edge software expertise to deliver outstanding customer experiences. Our investment in Pivotal will help strengthen our ability to deliver these customer experiences at the speed of Silicon Valley, including continually expanding FordPass – our digital, physical and personal mobility experience platform.”

Ford has collaborated with Pivotal on the development of FordPass that provides new customer services, like remote access to vehicles through a smartphone app, and mobility solutions, such as parking and car sharing. Now, Ford plans to integrate Pivotal’s advanced software development methodologies and technology across the IT, product development, and research and advanced engineering teams. Ford’s on-demand Dynamic Shuttle pilot program will feature Pivotal’s next-generation cloud platform and analytics capabilities.

What are your thoughts on Ford’s investment in Pivotal? Let us know in the comments.

Technavio highlights top three trends for global enterprise cloud services market to 2020

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Research and advisory firm Technavio has brought to light three new trends that are set to play a key role in terms of market growth in the global enterprise cloud services market in the years to 2020. The trends in question are the rising adoption of hybrid cloud services, increase in adoption of BYOD policy and the rise of cloud brokerage services.

Amit Sharma, one of Technavio’s lead analysts for cloud computing research, said: “Cloud computing services enable rapid deployment and provisioning of IT infrastructure based on changing needs. Enterprise needs to meet day-to-day computing requirements encompass rapid scalability and deployment. The availability of a number of applications to meet end-user needs is another factor driving the adoption of private cloud services. Companies are gradually automating their business processes, and a number of other supporting features such as artificial intelligence (AI) are likely to be introduced aggressively during the forecast period, to ease processes.”

Given the complication associated to the integration between private and public clouds, enterprises will most probably select hybrid cloud infrastructure that exhibit features of the private cloud and that of the public cloud as they look to deal with an increase in capacity.

Technavio researchers anticipate the adoption of BYOD policies to further agility and mobility on account of a drastic increase during the forecast period. This is driven by the rising use of mobile devices and smartphones along with the reputation of mobile apps that has contributed to a significant rise in utilisation of enterprise cloud services.

Cloud service brokers serve as middlemen between cloud service providers and businesses. They offer management and maintenance services to enterprises. Cloud service brokers assess current requirement and future needs while also providing consulting services and assistance in vendor selection. They also provide deduplication, security, and data protection services to enterprises.

Can you think of other trends which could play a key role in market growth? Let us know in the comments.

IBM announces availability of quantum computing for testing on IBM cloud


IBM is making available quantum computing to the public, allowing people to access and run experiments on IBM’s quantum processor.

Scientists at the company have manufactured quantum processor that can be accessed via a quantum computing platform delivered through the IBM Cloud onto any desktop or mobile device.

The cloud-enabled quantum computing platform, called IBM Quantum Experience, facilitates the running of algorithms and experiments on IBM’s quantum processor and users can work with the individual quantum bits (qubits) while going through tutorials and simulations related to the strengths of quantum computing.

The quantum processor comprises five superconducting qubits and is based at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in New York.

The five-qubit processor represents the latest advancement in IBM’s quantum architecture that can scale to larger quantum systems. The processor is also reportedly the foremost approach towards manufacturing a universal quantum computer.

A universal quantum computer can be programmed to perform any computing task and will be exponentially faster than classical computers for a number of important applications for science and business.

Though this kind of computer is not present today, IBM foresees the presence of medium-sized quantum processors of 50-100 qubits in the next 10 years. A 50-qubit quantum computer will surpass a TOP500 supercomputer by a long way.

EMC rolls out Virtustream global hyper-scale storage cloud

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Entering a large emerging market, EMC has rolled out a global, hyper-scale storage cloud known as Virtustream Storage Cloud as the company takes on the likes of IBM Softlayer, Oracle Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services among others. EMC, which will be known as Dell EMC in the near future, considers the offering to be its vanguard webscale storage, backup and archiving instrument.

Virtustream offers a tier of cloud-management abstraction that is placed above the virtual machine management tier and provides more accurate controls for administrators. This feature makes it stand out from rival offerings. The product’s services will hit the market on May 10, 2016, as both on-premises and cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) deployments for large enterprises.

The platform has gone through wide-ranging tests with underlying elements running successfully in production for several years as the primary object storage platform for a select set of customers managing multiple exabytes of data, with hundreds of billions of objects under management and an event monitoring system that processes more than 35 billion events per day.

The new Virtustream Storage Cloud provides cloud extensibility for on-premises EMC storage, providing simple and efficient tiering, long-term backup retention, and cold storage in the cloud with single-source EMC support. EMC offerings that will support the platform in the future include Data Domain, EMC Data Protection Suite, EMC Isilon, VMAX, XtremIO and Unity Systems.

What do you think about EMC’s new Virtustream solution? Let us know in the comments.

CTERA aims for converged infrastructure customers with updated cloud storage portfolio


CTERA Networks has introduced a number of updates to its cloud storage gateway portfolio to improve flexibility, efficiency and storage capacity for remote office IT environments.

The new line-up can be deployed from KVM or VMware servers, which is suited for organisations investing in virtualised or converged infrastructure IT. It also includes a virtual application configuration for enterprises to use current their remote office/branch office (ROBO) hardware, while also getting the full benefits and functionality of their CTERA cloud storage gateway.

Additionally, CTERA has re-engineered its gateway file management system, with the primary file system executed and maintained within the cloud. It selectively syncs files to branch or remote offices according to the policies defined by the user or IT administrator. The appliances work as extra storage tiers in a cloud-based file synchronisation and management system. CTERA Sync Gateways can now support up to 64 TB of local volume size, which is a fourfold rise from older models.

CTERA’s virtual and physical cloud storage gateways can function as comprehensive storage applications to replace legacy tape backup, file/NAS servers and proprietary systems with a single cloud-integrated system. The gateway is part of the Enterprise File Services Platform from CTERA, enabling organisations to protect and manage data cross applications and offices from their own virtual or private cloud.

The company’s new cloud storage portfolio aims to lower total cost of ownership with its virtual form factor, implement high-availability office file services for remote environments, and expand virtual storage volume. The portfolio also enables on-demand file and data protection service deployments using a virtual appliance, and provides a path for converged IT.

Previous research from the company, released in July last year, found that three quarters of organisations were looking at an alternative for their public file, sync and share services. Speaking to CloudTech at the time, VP strategic marketing Rani Osnat explained how both public SaaS services and enterprise-grade storage can harmonise together. “The market is growing so much there is room for both of these things,” he said. “Companies like Box will continue to grow while private deployments also grow in parallel; these things will live side by side.”

Exponential-e collaborates with Microsoft to offer ‘render as a service’

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UK-based cloud and network provider Expontential-e has announced a collaboration with Microsoft Azure to provide a ‘render as a service’ (RaaS) platform for delivering near real-time rendering capabilities for industries that make use of 3D modelling, such as architecture, manufacturing and medicine.

The point and click solution is developed via the integration of Exponential-e’s high-speed, secure network with the hyperscale public cloud of Azure, and will provide private rendering capabilities that correspond to project delivery timescales and budget.

The solution will be powered by Exponential-e’s wholly-owned, 100 gig-Ethernet network, through private or hybrid local area networks (LANs) that connect the customer’s on premise data to the raw compute power offered by Azure.

Exponential-e managing director Mukesh Bavisi said: “Due to steadily rising image resolutions, rendering is requiring more and more computing horsepower. Also the limitations of power, space and cooling for in-house render farms means they are increasingly more expensive and complex to run. Exponential-e’s unique collaboration with Microsoft Azure solves the headache of restricted resource on maxed out internal render nodes.  It provides an on-demand, scalable solution that enables seamless hybrid integration of on premise resource privately connected to the raw compute power. The service is managed as one environment via a single self-service pane of glass.”

The RaaS solution, currently in beta testing, will facilitate competitive bidding for larger projects that have bigger batch compute needs. BAFTA-award winning, visual effects (VFX) studio, Jellyfish Pictures is already using RaaS to flexibly scale resources on demand and significantly reduce production times, simplifying its entire business model.

Bavisi concludes: “Render as a service will alleviate the key pain point for businesses that utilise render processing across the globe. Marrying our network with the Microsoft Azure cloud means greater rendering efficiencies than ever before, and provides us with the opportunity to take this solution to new sectors. By alleviating a key challenge in rendering, our customers can instead focus on driving innovation in an increasingly competitive landscape.”

Is it time for virtual reality to influence the data centre?


The part virtual reality (VR) can play in the evolution of the data centre has been mooted as far back as 2013 – but now the future looks good so long as organisations’ infrastructure can stand up to it, according to Aegis Data.

Three years ago, writing for Data Center Knowledge, Rich Miller reported on data centre provider IO, whose latest innovation was to provide a 3D visual representation and walkthrough of a customer’s specific environment, with IO describing it as a “gamification of the data centre.” And according to Greg McCulloch, CEO of Aegis Data, the data centre industry has the potential to be the largest beneficiary of VR – but it will take time.

“As a concept, its presence has been felt for a long time but limited computing power combined with slow connectivity speeds means there has always been a cap as to what can be achieved,” said McCulloch. “Now that we have the technology in place, it looks like early visionaries for VR are starting to see it come to fruition.”

Evidently, there are more obvious – and arguably sexier – candidates to benefit from the VR boom, not least gaming and entertainment, as well as enterprise use cases ranging from military to manufacturing. Yet McCulloch argues for the data centre industry, speed, connectivity, and a secure infrastructure is vital, as well as high performance computing (HPC) capabilities.

“Historically one of the criticisms levelled at VR has been its inability to handle the demands on it,” he said. “Having dedicated fibre connections to key internet exchanges will enable customers to benefit from high connectivity and speeds, allowing the user to have a seamless, unhindered experience.”

Elsewhere, Dynatrace is aiming to ease the migration path to software defined data centres (SDDC) with the release of a new version of its data centre real user management (DC RUM) solution. As IT departments need to be able to handle increasing workloads and application demands, the move towards SDDC helps this increased amount yet adds other complexities. For Dynatrace, DC RUM offers deep insights and analytics for quicker turnarounds and more seamless transition into the SDDC.

VMware opts out of joint venture with parent EMC

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In October 2015, Dell announced a $67-billion bid to acquire EMC, an entity which owns approximately 80% of VMware. A little later, EMC and VMware announced plans to create a joint venture named ‘Virtustream’ which aimed to integrate the cloud services of both entities. However, the market was not receptive to such a move, and the shares of VMware declined by close to 20% after the plan was announced.

VMware’s chief executive Pat Gelsinger had touted the benefits of a comprehensive offering for customers, however, analysts raised concerns related to profit margins on account of increased spending on servers and data centres. Nonetheless, EMC’s chief executive, Joe Tucci, said: “Putting these together will actually save money and actually put more profit on the VMware bottom line.”

Despite these reassurances, VMware has decided to opt-out of this plan for a joint venture in a move that has been lauded by the market. Opponents argued the development was aimed at creating a “dumping ground” for money-losing assets. VMware’s stock price declined when Dell announced its acquisition of EMC, and the stock declined further with the joint venture announcement.

EMC is the largest manufacturer of data storage hardware and the company has entered software and other fields through a series of acquisitions. Executives of the company have defended its corporate strategy by citing market changes and other challenges – such as the rise of cloud services – which some companies use to handle computing workloads and enable them to avoid the cost of buying their own hardware and software.

Virtustream was originally an independent company that operated its own data centres to offer cloud services as well as selling related software. EMC had announced a $1.2 billion deal in May 2015 to acquire the company, which has now become a part of the EMC conglomerate.

Do you think VMware made the right decision? Share your thoughts in the comments.

IBM announces Clearleap acquisition – will improve cloud users’ access to videos

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IBM has announced it has acquired Clearleap to improve cloud users’ access to videos, by integrating with Clearleap’s video library delivery platform.

The financial terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, but IBM has said that the seven-year old company based in Georgia will be integrated into its cloud platform. Clearleap’s platform securely delivers large video libraries to multi-screen devices and conventional televisions. With its integration into IBM’s cloud platform, enterprises will likely get a fast and easy way for growing, monetising and managing user video experiences.

The acquisition forms part of IBM’s largest strategy focused on video, which is growing in importance among businesses. Companies are increasingly looking at videos to connect with partners and customers by sharing training courses, how-to videos, customer care videos and webcasts.

The deal is a smart decision by IBM, according to Enderle Group analyst Rob Enderle. He said: “Video becomes a component of a complete cloud offering and without it, IBM would likely either be locked out of a lot of lucrative accounts or relegated to subcontractor status.”

“Video may not be a major cloud component, but it is a critical one that is necessary to their long-term strategy of becoming a complete cloud service provider at enterprise scale.”

IBM’s most recent video-based acquisition was that of Aspera in 2014. Aspera creates technology for faster large-data transfers in broadband. Another related acquisition in 2014 was Cleversafe, which builds unstructured data storage software and appliances. According to IBM, the Clearleap technology will be integrated with Cleversafe and Aspera technologies for its customers to better index, store, and retrieve video content on IBM Cloud.

Do you think Clearleap will make a valuable addition to IBM? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.