All posts by Lavanya

Amazon sells a part of its Chinese business for $301 million

The strict rules in China is clearly affecting American businesses. The latest casualty in this list is Amazon. In announced that it will be selling computing equipment used for its cloud services to its local partner, Beijin Sinnet Technology Company. This move is aimed to comply with the new Chinese regulations on how foreign companies can operate on Chinese soil.

Amazon sold this crucial aspect of its business to its Chinese partner for $301 million. However, the company reiterated that it would continue to hold the intellectual property rights for its hardware worldwide.

The latest Chinese regulations that came into effect in June requires companies to store data locally. This law was aimed to tighten the scrutiny of cross-border transactions and to implement stricter surveillance measures.

Already, Amazon had to contend with a lot of regulations due to China’s tight Internet controls. In August, Beijing Sinnet was forced to shut down its VPN and other services that could circumvent the Great Firewall of China. So, this made it more difficult for Chinese to access any content that was not approved by the government.

Though there were a few critics who thought this move by Amazon could trigger problems later on for the company, it was nevertheless necessary for Amazon to continue its operations in China and to even expand to other business areas in the market.

Interestingly, AWS has a hardware partnership with Ningxia province in northwest China. But, the company clarified that this venture will not be affected in any way as all public cloud services of Amazon in China is exclusively managed by Sinnet.

Though Amazon paints a perfect picture, it’s not so perfect really as it casts a shadow over the way other companies such as Microsoft and IBM operate in China. It remains to be seen how the other major players will react to this sale and how they will change their respective business to comply with Chinese laws.

The biggest advantage from these moves goes undoubtedly to local Chinese firms, which is also the aim of the government. Currently, about 80 percent of all cloud services revenue and more than half of all data centers are owned by Chinese companies. These numbers could go up, thereby signaling bonhomie for Chinese tech companies.

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More Super quantum processors coming your way

Imagine how cool it’ll be if you got to work on super computers and super processors.. You’ll be able to do at least twice the amount of work in half the time that you’re using right now.

Well, this could be a reality as companies are looking to offer their supercomputers and super processors as a cloud service.

Leading the way is IBM that has decided to offer its 20-qubit quantum computer as a cloud service. This could be available as soon as the end of this year. The power of quantum computers can be accessed through an open-source platform like QISKit.

Such a cloud-based service is expected to be a big hit because businesses can now leverage huge computing powers without ever having to invest a ton of money in hardware or infrastructure. To give you an example, businesses will be able to process quantum algorithms in 90 microseconds through this quantum computing service.

And that’s not all. IBM is working on a 50-qubit quantum computer that it hopes to be available as a service by next year. Its engineers and data scientists are constantly working on adding qubits and converting the same into a service that will benefit businesses and even the society at large.

It’s not a surprise that IBM is leading the way in quantum computing as a service as the company has always been at the forefront of technological innovation. Other companies are expected to come up with such supercomputing and super-processing services soon. Within the next few years, these super processors will be more ubiquitous for businesses and individuals.

What remains to be seen is how these computers are used by different businesses, research organizations or even individuals to create path-breaking applications.

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What’s new in Nutanix?

Over the last couple of years, Nutanix has been calmly creating and readying a set of tools and processes for companies that want to deploy cloud computing within their own IT departments.

To this end, Nutanix has announced that it will be adding a few developer tools and services to its Enterprise Cloud OS software that should make it easy for developers to deploy to a hybrid cloud system. In addition, it is also planning to bring new enhancements to its virtualization technology to help companies manage their distributed cloud environments.

One of the key changes that we can see is the Acropolis Object Storage. This product provides an Amazon S3-compatible API that’ll allow developers to do things like data archival on a demand basis. This will be similar to other public cloud offerings that are available today, but it will be applicable only for a hybrid environment.

During these announcements, one thing that Nutanix makes it clear is that it doesn’t want to build data centers. This is partly why it entered into an agreement with Google, so that the GCP can use Nutanix’s Acropolis Hypervisor for managing data in the cloud. This agreement with Google is a key aspect to the future of Nutanix and for that matter, the entire cloud industry, because it represents a big step towards a multi-cloud system.

Let’s say, a customer wants to have the data of project A in a public cloud while it wants to have project B in their in-house data center. Now, it is creating a project C that needs to be partially in the cloud and partially in data-centers. From the company’s perspective, running three different clouds is tough because of differences in operating systems and compatibility issues. Further, application dependencies complicate the problem even more.

But, Nutanix’s Enterprise Cloud OS combines these different cloud strands and makes it look like a single piece of computing fabric.

This integration is what makes Nutanix’s offerings so interesting for customers. Though the exact dates of release and pricing information is not available, the new products have sure created a buzz among cloud users.

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Kroger in on cloud, but not on AWS

The nation’s largest grocery store chain, Kroger, is moving to the cloud.  But, it has decided to stay away from Amazon Web Services (AWS). Instead, it has decided to give millions of dollars to Microsoft and Google for using their cloud services.

This pattern is something that we’ve come to see across many retail giants. A few months back, there was a big tussle between Walmart and AWS, where the former asked its IT providers to avoid using AWS.

This stand-off between AWS and leading grocery chains continues with Kroger deciding to park its data and applications in Microsoft and Google. This move is likely to counter the foray of Amazon into different industries, including retail grocery.

In one sense, it’s not right to blame Walmart, Target or for that matter, Kroger, because if Amazon enters the retail grocery market, then it becomes a direct competitor for the others. So, it makes no sense to keep data on a competitors storage service.

For Kroger, the entry of Amazon poses a direct threat. And that’s because Amazon wants to enter the pharmacy market and reduce the prices of generic medicines. That’s not good news for Kroger because it gets about nine percent of its total sales from its 2,200 pharmacies. If Amazon enters and disrupts this market, then it can affect the profitability levels of Kroger.

If you remember, that’s exactly what Amazon did with Whole Foods. It bought the company for $13.7 billion and immediately slashed the prices of this upscale grocery chain. So, if it does the same with pharmacy, it can put Kroger in a difficult financial spot.

This strategy seems to apply only to new initiatives, as Kroger already has a few projects on AWS.

But, it doesn’t seem to affect AWS in any way as it announced another stellar quarter where revenue surged by 42 percent.

In the meanwhile, it’s great news for Microsoft and Google that are looking to catch up with AWS.

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2018 Cloud Predictions from Forrester

Forrester has come up with a bunch of predictions for 2018 and how it can transform the cloud industry.

  • Dominant players : The existing cloud companies would continue their dominance in 2018 too. Currently, AWS, Google and Microsoft account for 76 percent of the total market share in the cloud industry. This will increase to 80 percent by 2018, thereby signaling a clear dominance by these top three players.
  • SaaS vendors: SaaS vendors will transform into platform providers and will expand to provide deployment options.
  • Increase in cloud spending: Microsoft Azure Spark will create an increase in private and hybrid cloud spending, as more businesses will consider one of the two options to move their data and applications.
  • Shift in providers: Many cloud providers are considering to move around 10 percent of their traffic to other providers from existing carrier providers. This move will see a significant impact in revenue for telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon.
  • Increased public cloud: As cloud computing spreads its wings far and wide, more businesses are expected to use these services. In fact, Forrester predicts that 50 percent of global enterprises will use at least one cloud provider for their business.
  • Bigger growth:  It goes without saying that the entire cloud industry will grow by leaps and bounds and there will be a surge in the overall revenue generated by different cloud companies. Forrester predicts that the total cloud market will be worth $178 billion in 2018, up from the current $146 billion. It is also predicted to grow at a whopping compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22 percent.
  • Container war: The container war will be won by Kubernetes and it will establish itself as the most dominant player in this segment by 2018.
  • Cloud security: There will be a renewed focus on cloud security and in most cases, it will be integrated with existing cloud platforms, thereby making it a central aspect and selling point for all cloud platforms.
  • Training programs: Forrester predicts that enterprises will move towards an immersive training program to bring about a cultural shift within the organization.

Let’s wait for 2018 to see how these predictions span out. Overall, it looks good for the cloud market and we can expect a solid growth for this industry.

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Google and Salesforce come together to twist the cloud market

Two major giants in the world of cloud computing, Google and Salesforce, entered into a key partnership on Monday.

Under the terms of this agreement, Salesforce’s clients who don’t currently use  G Suite will get this package free for one year. This move is expected to increase the user base of G Suite. Also, Salesforce will add Google’s cloud service to its list of certified partners. Interestingly enough, AWS is on this list as well.

Besides G Suite, Google’s Analytics 360 service will be integrated with Salesforce’s products. This Analytics 360 is a marketing tool that will help Salesforce’s clients to track sales and other advertising-related information. At this point in time, not all Salesforce products have this feature, so it should work well for both companies. This addition of Google’s products is sure to help Salesforce to reach to a wider audience with its products while for Google, it’s a big win obviously because it has access to the entire customer base of Salesforce.

This deal is not so much of a surprise really because earlier this year, a few analysts had predicted that one of the major players can make a bid to acquire Salesforce. One analyst even went to the extent of saying that Google should pay $73 billion to acquire Salesforce. At this point though, there is no mention of a takeover either by Google or Salesforce. In fact, Google even refused to comment on whether it will eventually take over Salesforce.

This deal also represent Google’s strategy to enter into strategic partnerships with other companies to ensure that both the players get mutual benefit through it. In this series, the deal with Salesforce maybe the biggest and could give Google one of the biggest market advantage.

Let’s see how this plays out for both the companies in the short as well as long run.

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Are we nearing the end of cloud?

Does this question surprise you, especially at a time when all major cloud companies such as AWS, Microsoft and Google are reporting stellar profits buoyed by the success of their cloud business?

Well, we’re still nearing the end of cloud and here’s why.

Long-term sustainability

Building applications in the cloud is not easy, especially when you’re looking to use it over a span of a few years. This is because the app will generate more data every day, so storage and analysis becomes difficult over time. This means, as the app grows, you’re going to spend more time and effort on it.

Bandwidth limitations

Our storage and computing speeds are growing at astronomical rates, but are network bandwidth capacity is not growing so much. As we move to the age of 4k, HD and even 8k, we’re pushing the limits of bandwidth.

Also, the way the Internet is create doesn’t help either. For example, let’s say 100 of us want to see a picture. This means 100 downloads from the same server for the same picture. So, this clogs the servers and makes it more difficult for networks to handle this traffic.


The entire cloud system is centralized and that, in many ways, makes it vulnerable to outside attacks and natural disasters.

Though you can argue that all data is stored across different servers and locations, still it poses a risk. What is AWS or Microsoft decides to shut off access to your important documents? You have no control over what they can do. Even if it’ not that drastic, still you’re dependent on them to access your files. That’s scary by itself.

Identity thefts

When your data is sitting within the servers of a single company, it increases the chances for attacks. Remember, what happened to Equifax? Private and sensitive information of 140 million Americans was stolen and even distributed in the dark web before it came to light.

The possibility for such incidents is high because all that a hacker has to do is breach a single point in the network.

All these factors could eventually spell the demise of cloud, unless someone comes up with something drastic to change the way it works.

Probably, a more practical solution is to use technologies like blockchain that alleviates some of these problems. Though blockchain is its nascent changes, it has the power to transform the way we store and access data in the future.

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Alibaba does it again

Alibaba, often called as the fastest growing cloud company in the world, has once again declared stellar results for the third that ended in September.

A statement released by the company says that overall sales increased by 61 percent, and this includes both its cloud computing and core ecommerce businesses.  The cloud computing revenue alone rose by 99 percent to reach $447 million for the quarter. Much of this increase is attributed to value-added services that the company offered to its customers such as content delivery network, security services, data analysis and more. The addition of these services lead to an increase in the number of paying customers, and this is what led to the surge in revenue for the company.

Further, the company said that it wants to capitalize on its cloud business and to this end, it wants to invest $15 billion over the next three years. Much of this money is expected to go towards research and development and also, to further expand its portfolio of cloud services for customers.

Besides cloud, its core ecommerce business also did well for Alibaba. It climbed 63 percent to fetch about $6.98 billion for the company during the last quarter.  Much of this revenue came from new active users, that increased to 549 million during the last three months. These numbers go to show the power that Alibaba yields in the Chinese ecommerce market.

These numbers blew past the analysts expectations, which is again not a surprise.  The company reported a non-GAAP revenue of $8.3 billion or $1.29 per share while analysts were expecting just $7.9 billion or $1.09 per share.

Due to these impressive numbers, the company raised its full-year revenue growth to a range of 49 to 53 percent. Earlier, it was pegged at a range of 45 to 49 percent.

Such impressive growth numbers are a sure threat to the cloud industry giants, namely, AWS, Microsoft and Google. Though Alibaba is not even in the range of what these three giants earn, it could catch up over time, if Alibaba is able to produce the same results over the next few years.

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Why did Doppler Labs fail?

Doppler labs, the maker of Here One ear-buds, is shutting down.

This San Francisco-based company was founded in 2013 by Noah Kraft and Fritz Lanman, who continued to be the CEO and Chairman respectively. Kraft had experience in the entertainment industry while Lanman was an angel investor. Both of them came together to create a company that would manufacture an alternative to Apple’s Airpods.

To this end, it obtained many rounds of funding. The first of these was a $17 million Series B funding in July 2015 by The Chernin Group and Acequia Capital. With this capital, it began manufacturing and by the early part of 2017, it released its flagship product called Here One earbuds.

This was truly a different kind of product as the earbuds were supported with a companion app that allowed you to tune out external noise. For example, you could tune out airplane noise without tuning out the voice of the person sitting next to you. Likewise, you could amplify the bass at a concert and do other tricks to create a personalized listening space for you.

Despite these advanced features, Here One didn’t take off. According to a report, the company sold only 25,000 units as against the expected hundred thousand plus units. Due to this failure to sell, investors were not ready to invest more or back up this company in any way. Also, it couldn’t find a reasonable buyer, so Doppler labs decided to shut down its operations.

As a final good-bye, Doppler labs released an app that allowed Here One to be used as an app-based hearing assistant aid. This was one of the biggest ambitions of the company, so it fulfilled that and gracefully shut down its operations.

This shut down came as a surprise to many people simply because they weren’t expecting it at all. Internally, the company was stable with Kraft and Lanman providing the right leadership. Also, the product is a good one, though it failed to attract a large customer base. Maybe with time and more marketing, this product could have become a hit with customers. Though it’s hard to say, the exit of Doppler labs is sure to leave a small, but significant void in this industry.

However, the idea that in-ear computers are the next frontier has reached well within the industry. Let’s hope this leads to more developments on this front.

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Aibo robot dog – cuteness and smartness bundled together

Aibo robot is an artificial intelligence-powered robot from the house of Sony. This robot dog can wag its tail, chase balls and even learn new tricks from you like giving you a hug or a high five when you come back home.

According to Sony, this new robot can form an emotional bond with you and your family members and shower on you tons of love and affection, just like any dog would.  It may even give you the pleasure of nurturing and living with a companion. It has the capability to understand words of praise and over time, can even know what actions make you happy or angry.

At the same time, it can also do digital things for you. It constantly stores and updates data in the cloud, so based on your mood, it can change its personality. Besides, Aibo can take pictures and store them on the cloud. This means, you can browse through these images on the Aibo app as and when you want.

This robot is a resurrection of the attempt made by Sony almost a decade ago when it experimented with artificial intelligence. In fact, it is a testimony of Sony’s pioneering efforts in the world of robotics and artificial intelligence.

The first attempt to create such a robot happened in 1999. Aibo, which stands for artificial intelligence robot, got people excited. The first 3,000 units were sold within the first 20 minutes of sale online. But unfortunately, interest in Aibo waned after more artificial intelligence robots came into the market. So, it stopped making Aibo in 2006.

But now, artificial intelligence is booming again and many major companies are entering into the fray with their own products. So, Sony also wants to get back in. After all, it has a lead in this market and all that it has to do is capitalize on this lead and brand image.

For reviving Aibo and to fund other artificial intelligence products, Sony entered into a venture capital fund partnership with the U.S company Cogital. Since then, it has been investing in many AI startups.

This cute Aibo dog goes on sale in Japan today and retails for $1,740 before tax. let’s see if this move helps Sony to take on tech giants like Amazon and Google in the artificial intelligence market.

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