All posts by Zach Marzouk

Google buys cyber security firm Mandiant for $5.4 billion

Zach Marzouk

8 Mar, 2022

Google confirmed today it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Mandiant, which will join Google Cloud once the deal closes.

The deal will be completed for $23 per share, in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $5.4 billion.

Google said the acquisition of Mandiant will complement Google Cloud’s existing strengths in security. With the addition of Mandiant, it aims to enhance its offerings to deliver end-to-end security operations with even greater capabilities to support customers across their cloud and on-premise environments.

The tech giant underlined that Mandiant brings real-time and in-depth threat intelligence gained on the frontlines of cyber security with the largest organisations in the world. Google said it will help enterprises stay protected at every stage of the security lifecycle.

This will be done through Mandiant’s advisory services, threat detection and intelligence, automation and response tools, testing and validation, and managed defence.

“Organisations around the world are facing unprecedented cybersecurity challenges as the sophistication and severity of attacks that were previously used to target major governments are now being used to target companies in every industry,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO at Google Cloud.

“We look forward to welcoming Mandiant to Google Cloud to further enhance our security operations suite and advisory services, and help customers address their most important security challenges.”

Google Cloud added that it’s deeply committed to supporting the technology partners of both companies, including the endpoint ecosystem. The acquisition will enable system integrators, resellers, and managed security providers to offer broader products to customers, it said.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of Mandiant stockholder and regulatory approvals, and is expected to close later this year.

“There has never been a more critical time in cybersecurity. Since our founding in 2004, Mandiant’s mission has been to combat cyber attacks and protect our customers from the latest threats,” said Kevin Mandia, CEO at Mandiant. “To that end, we are thrilled to be joining forces with Google Cloud. Together, we will deliver expertise and intelligence at scale, changing the security industry.”

At the beginning of February, Mandiant found that one in seven double-extortion ransomware attacks are leaking sensitive information that could provide access to physical systems. It found data stolen from ransomware victims related to operational technology systems, underlining that some of the data discovered included usernames and passwords for the systems, IP addresses, remote services, and more.

Google Cloud partners with Flipkart for digital transformation

Zach Marzouk

8 Mar, 2022

Google Cloud and Flipkart have partnered to help the Indian e-commerce company with innovation and its cloud strategy.

Flipkart, founded in 2007, has a registered customer base of over 400 million and offers over 150 million products across more than 80 categories. It claims to be one of India’s leading digital commerce entities.

Flipkart stated that it will scale on Google Cloud’s infrastructure to reach more customers. This will help the company deliver robust app access and performance, even during peak purchase seasons with heightened traffic. It will also build new products on the Google Cloud, helping it to expand into new markets in India.

The e-commerce company is also set to deploy Google Cloud’s data analytics and machine learning technologies, to help it better analyse traffic and transactional data, discover real-time insights into customer purchasing and shopping behaviour, and identify trends and patterns with increased demand.

Lastly, Flipkart will advance productivity and collaboration globally with Google Workspace. It aims to expand the tech giant’s platform to improve employees’ experience and connections.

“Our strategic alliance with Google Cloud will enable us to accelerate our digital transformation, power productivity and advance our innovation agenda,” said Jeyandran Venugopal, chief product and technology officer at Flipkart. “We are excited by Google Cloud’s unique strengths and experience in AI/ML and its proven scalability and security, all of which will be critical in our next phase of growth.”

Flipkart hopes that the partnership will propel it into its next phase of growth and advance its vision of onboarding India’s next 200 million shoppers and thousands of sellers.

“Flipkart’s growth in India has been powered by its digital-first strategy and forward-thinking approach to cloud technology,” said Bikram Singh Bedi, managing director of Google Cloud India. “As the company continues to scale and grow its e-commerce platform, we will work together to drive technological innovations and help Flipkart drive breakthrough businesses in the future.”

The news comes after Google Cloud recently invested in a new office in Pune, India. It said last month that it aims to open the location during the second half of 2022 and has already begun hiring for new positions. The teams located at the new office will help build advanced enterprise cloud technologies in collaboration with global engineering teams and deliver product and implementation expertise for digital transformation.​​

Microsoft to set up largest India data centre region in Hyderabad

Zach Marzouk

7 Mar, 2022

Microsoft has announced plans to establish its fourth data centre region in India in the city of Hyderabad in Telangana.

The company revealed that the investment aligns with its commitment to help customers thrive in a cloud and AI-enabled digital economy and will become part of the world’s largest cloud infrastructure.

The new data centre region in Hyderabad will complement the tech giant’s existing network of three regions across the country in Pune, Mumbai, and Chennai. It will offer Microsoft’s entire portfolio across the cloud, AI, productivity tools CRM with advanced data security, and more.

Microsoft said Telangana is emerging as a “challenger” in the Indian IT sector due to its software exports registering an increase of 7% year-on-year to reach $67.4 billion in 2021, citing a government report.

It added that it is partnering with the Telangana government to accelerate its adoption of cloud, AI, IoT, and cyber security tools for governance. This includes efforts to upskill government officials in next-generation technology, support young girls to build careers in cyber security through the CyberShikshaa programme, and partner on skilling programmes like DigiSaksham with the ministry of labour and employment to equip job seekers from rural areas with technical skills.

“Today’s commitment to the people and businesses of India will position the country among the world’s digital leaders,” said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Electronics & Information Technology. “A Microsoft data center region provides a competitive advantage to our digital economy and is a long-term investment in our country’s potential.”

The new data centre region will also be built with sustainable design and operations in mind, the company said. This will help Microsoft responsibly deliver reliable and highly available cloud services at scale.

Microsoft underlined that customer demand for cloud as a platform for digital transformation, driving economic growth and societal progress across India, is increasing. Microsoft data centre regions in the country contributed $9.5 billion in revenue to the economy between 2016 and 2020, according to a Microsoft-sponsored IDC report. The report also estimated 1.5 million jobs were added to the economy, including 169,000 new skilled IT jobs.

Microsoft isn’t the only big tech firm with an interest in India, as Google Cloud announced in January that it would open a new office in Pune this year. This is part of its ongoing investment in the country after opening its second cloud region in the country last July. The new location will open in the second half of 2022, although the company has already started hiring for positions.

Microsoft wins contract to build Singapore’s first sovereign cloud

Zach Marzouk

11 Feb, 2022

Singapore’s Home Team Science and Technology agency (HTX) has chosen Microsoft to develop a sovereign cloud to accelerate its digital transformation.

HTX said the agreement will play a key role in helping domestic services, such as the police or civil defence force, to deliver improved safety and security to all citizens, residents, and visitors to the city-state.

The sovereign cloud will be built on Microsoft’s Azure platform and equip HTX with on-demand high-performance cloud computing and data storage resources. It hopes this will help the agency quickly adopt and create new technologies and reduce time-to-market in introducing new digital capabilities.

It added that it will provide home team officers on the ground with real time data to help them respond quicker to incidents and make decisions faster.

“This strategic partnership with Microsoft to develop a sovereign cloud here in Singapore will enable us to push the boundaries of innovation and be in the forefront of technology,” said Chan Tsan, CEO of HTX and deputy secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“This way, we will be well-poised to exponentially enhance the capabilities of the home team and to keep Singapore as the safest place on the planet.”

Microsoft will also provide additional training and educational opportunities as part of the agreement, including 600 training places along with exam certificates to be made annually to the organisation. It hopes that the training will advance the technical skills of cloud technology professionals in Singapore.

“We’re delivering a trusted sovereign cloud that adheres to and meets the needs of the Singapore government – one that will expedite their digital transformation efforts,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Microsoft. “Our agreement will enable key technological advancements and provide access to data and insights to help drive change across various communities.”

Although Microsoft does have an Azure cloud region in Singapore, it remains unclear as to where the new sovereign cloud will be housed. Building data centres in the city is still restricted but the government is planning to lift the ban on their construction once new rules placing strict energy efficiency requirements on all new sites come into force.

Sophos to launch new data centre in Mumbai

Zach Marzouk

9 Feb, 2022

Sophos is set to launch a new data centre in Mumbai in March, as well as one in São Paulo in May.

The cyber security company said the new data centres will help organisations in the regions meet strict data sovereignty laws and regulations. It said this is increasingly required for those in banking, government, and other tightly regulated market sectors.

The new data centres will expand Sophos’ existing base around the world in the US, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Japan, and Australia.

The data centres are also set to provide organisations with the ability to store, manage, and access data locally from Sophos Central, its cloud management platform.

Products and services with access to the new data centres will initially include Sophos Extended Detection and Response, Sophos Intercept X, Intercept X for Server, Sophos Encryption, and Sophos Managed Threat Response services. Its other offerings are planned to be introduced over time, although it didn’t specify when.

“The data centre in Mumbai would help Indian organisations accelerate digital transformation and cloud migration,” said Sunil Sharma, managing director of sales for India and SAARC at  Sophos.

“India is one of the important markets for us and we have heavily invested in the country. We already have a large base of our research and development in India, and the data centre would enable Sophos to further build its leadership presence in the region by providing local data sovereignty and security solutions.”

Sophos added it is also focused on Brazil, where its new data centre would serve as a resource for local organisations as well as Latin American and other international companies planning to do business there.

“Sophos is planning to answer a critical market need for data sovereignty solutions in Brazil, which has strict regulatory requirements,” said Oscar Chavez-Arrieta, vice president for Latin America.

“Sophos is experiencing tremendous demand and growth momentum in Brazil and across Latin America, and significant investments are planned to expand and comprehensively address regional data regulations, including the Brazilian General Data Protection Law (LGPD) and Complementary Standard NC-14 regulations.”

Cloud companies are increasingly expanding into India, with Google Cloud announcing in late January it would open a new office in the city of Pune. This comes after the company opened its second cloud region in the country in Delhi last July, hoping it would better support customers and the public sector in India and across Asia Pacific.

Google to invest up to $1 billion in India’s second largest telco

Zach Marzouk

28 Jan, 2022

Google is investing up to $1 billion in Bharti Airtel as part of its Google for India Digitisation Fund.

The deal includes an investment of $700 million to acquire a 1.28% ownership in the Indian telco and up to $300 million towards mutually agreed multi-year commercial agreements over the course of the next five years.

As part of the first commercial agreement under the deal, the companies will work to scale Airtel’s offerings that cover a range of devices through affordability programmes. In the long term, both companies also plan to co-create India-specific network domain use cases for 5G and other standards, and focus on shaping and growing the cloud ecosystem in India by helping to accelerate digital transformation.

Google also said it’s looking to create new business models to help grow the Android OEM ecosystem in India with Airtel, but didn’t specify what kind of models these would be.

It also highlighted that it has made steady progress on the goals it set out to achieve with its Google for India Digitisation Fund, including building an India-focused Android experience and partnering with companies that build localised content experiences.

Airtel is a leading pioneer shaping India’s digital future, and we are proud to partner on a shared vision for expanding connectivity and ensuring equitable access to the Internet for more Indians,” said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet. “Our commercial and equity investment in Airtel is a continuation of our Google for India Digitization Fund’s efforts to increase access to smartphones, enhance connectivity to support new business models, and help companies on their digital transformation journey.”

Airtel has around 30.43% market share of wireless subscribers in India as of 30 November, 2021, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Reliance Jio leads the market with a 36.71% share, while Vodafone Idea has 22.88%.

Google outlined in 2020 that it would invest $10 billion in India over the following five to seven years through its India Digitisation Fund. The company is set to invest it through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, operations, infrastructure, and ecosystem investments.

Google said its goal was to make the Internet helpful for 1.3 billion Indians and help power the country’s economic engine.

Google, however, isn’t the only tech firm that has invested in Indian telcos, as in July 2020 Intel invested $253.5 million in Jio platforms, the country’s biggest telco, through its Intel Capital investment arm. The deal gave it a 0.39% stake in Jio.

Three months earlier, Facebook also invested $5.7 billion in Jio, as the telco’s owner Mukesh Ambani was selling off 20-25% of the company to raise money for its debt-ridden parent company, Reliance Industries.

Apple will let businesses accept payments on iPhones without the need for extra hardware

Zach Marzouk

27 Jan, 2022

Apple is reportedly planning a new service that will allow businesses to accept payments using an iPhone without the need for extra hardware.

The new feature has been in development since 2020, following Apple’s acquisition of Canadian startup Mobeewave for around $100 million, according to a report from Bloomberg. Mobeewave previously developed technology for smartphones to accept payments with a tap of a credit card.

The system is likely to use the iPhone’s near field communications (NFC) chip that it currently uses for Apple Pay. This is seen as a boost for small businesses as currently to accept an order on an iPhone, merchants must use third-party payment terminals that plug into the device or communicate with it via Bluetooth.

The new feature, however, will effectively create a payment terminal inside the device and remove the need for additional hardware. Users will be able to accept payments with a tap of a credit card or another iPhone onto the back of their device.

This could be bad news for payment providers that use the iPhone to facilitate sales, like Block’s Square. If Apple requires merchants to use Apple Pay or its own payment processing system to use the technology, this would shut out other providers.

For now, it’s unclear whether the new payment functionality will be part of Apple Pay, although Bloomberg has reported that the team building the feature have been working with Apple’s payment division since the Mobeewave acquisition.

Apple could potentially start introducing the feature in a software update in the coming months. It’s expected to release its first beta version of iOS 15.4 soon, with a potential final release for consumers in the spring.

IT Pro has contacted Apple and Square for comment.

The technology is yet another example of Apple’s attempt to dig further into the small business space. The company recently launched a new package of support services designed to help SMB IT teams manage their employee devices in November last year. The package includes 24/7 phone support for IT managers and end-users, business iCloud storage, device management capabilities, and on-site repairs for businesses of 500 employees or fewer.

IBM reports biggest sales growth in ten years

Zach Marzouk

25 Jan, 2022

IBM reported its biggest sales growth in the last ten years in its first quarterly earnings report following the spinoff of Kyndryl.

Sales increased by 6.5% to 16.7 billion in the quarter between October and December, while IBM’s software unit, its biggest business group, grew by 8.2% to $7.3 billion. Its consulting unit also reported $4.7 billion in revenue, up 13%, while its infrastructure revenue was flat, up 2% to reach $4.4 billion.

Hybrid cloud revenue also grew to $6.2 billion, an increase of 16%. Red Hat sales led this area, which increased by a total of 19%. For the full year, hybrid cloud revenue took in $20.2 billion, up by 20% overall.

“We increased revenue in the fourth quarter with hybrid cloud adoption driving growth in software and consulting,” said Arvind Krishna, IBM chairman and chief executive officer. “Our fourth-quarter results give us confidence in our ability to deliver our objectives of sustained mid-single-digit revenue growth and strong free cash flow in 2022.”

Krishna continues to make strategic moves for the business, as yesterday IBM entered into an agreement to sell its Watson Health assets to private equity firm Francisco Partners. The deal will allow IBM to focus on its platform-based hybrid cloud and AI strategy. Although terms of the deal weren’t announced, there were reports that the value of the assets being sold was over $1 billion.

“In 2021, we continued to invest for the future by increasing R&D spending, expanding our ecosystem and acquiring 15 companies to strengthen our hybrid cloud and AI capabilities,” said James Kavanaugh, IBM senior vice president and chief financial officer.

“With the separation of Kyndryl we now have taken the next step in the evolution of our strategy, creating value through focus and strengthening our financial profile.”

This is the first earnings report after IBM completed the spinoff of Kyndryl in November, which it hoped would give the business more freedom to pursue new opportunities. Its first major deal following the split was with Microsoft, where it was set to develop new products built on the Microsoft Cloud to drive digital transformation for customers.

Google Cloud to open new office in Pune

Zach Marzouk

24 Jan, 2022

Google has announced it is opening a new office in the city of Pune, expanding on its investment in India after opening its second cloud region in the country last July.

The company will focus on hiring members for its cloud product engineering, technical support, and global delivery centre organisations. It said these teams will help build advanced enterprise cloud technologies in collaboration with global engineering teams, provide real-time technical advice, and deliver product and implementation expertise for digital transformation.

The new location is set to open in the second half of 2022 but the company is eager to begin hiring now alongside its growing teams in Gurgaon, Hyderabad, and Bangalore. Google revealed that the planned expansion is the latest in a series of investments to fuel its customer growth and valued offerings to organisations of all sizes.

There are already open positions on Google careers for jobs located in the new office, including roles such as manager of technical solutions engineering, an engineering manager, a big data technical solutions specialist, and a software engineer.

“India has long been a hub for technology and innovation, and the strong talent pool here makes it a strategic location for Google Cloud to invest in our cloud infrastructure, grow our operations and expand our workforce to support our growing customer base,” said Anil Bhansali, Google Cloud’s VP of cloud engineering in India.

Bhansali underlined that India is one of a small handful of countries in Asia Pacific where Google operates two Google Cloud regions, and last October the company committed to training over 40 million new people globally on Google Cloud skills, which many in India continue to take advantage of.

Google Cloud opened its new region last July in Delhi, after launching the Mumbai region in 2017. The company said this would better support customers and the public sector in India and actress Asia Pacific. The region has three availability zones to protect against service disruptions, and customers are able to benefit from low latency and high performance of their cloud-based workloads and data, according to the company.

Singapore and Madrid named biggest movers in latest data centre rankings

Zach Marzouk

20 Jan, 2022

Singapore and Silicon Valley ranked joint second when it comes to data centres, with Northern Virginia taking first place and expected to become the world’s first two-gigawatt market.

A new report from Cushman & Wakefield, a global real estate firm, has ranked global data centres by scrutinising them against 13 factors, including political stability, connectivity, and sustainability.

The authors analysed 30 research sources, 55 global markets, and 1,333 data centres as part of the study.

Atlanta and Chicago were ranked in joint-fourth place, followed by Hong Kong, Phoenix, Sydney and Dallas. In joint tenth place were Portland and Seattle.

The report said it comes as no surprise that Northern Virginia finished in first place as it’s the largest data centre market in the world, with excellent connectivity, attractive incentives, and low-cost power. Demand for data centres is high, with operators and tenants alike interested in expansion. The report predicts the area will become the world’s first two-gigawatt market over the next two years.

Singapore moved up from fifth place last year to joint second with Silicon Valley, despite a lack of available development land in both. This is especially surprising in Singapore’s case, as it has had a ban on new data centre construction over the past year.

The report said both have strong ecosystems, excellent connectivity, consistent demand, and all major cloud services available and expanding where possible.

Hong Kong jumped into the top 10 for the first time this year, largely due to its robust development pipeline, excellent networks, and availability of all major cloud services.

However, Madrid was by far the largest gainer in the rankings, moving up to 19 from 34, thanks to it’s low-risk location in respect to natural disasters, and its support for major cloud services.

Singapore also came first when it came to fibre connectivity and smart cities. However, it also ranked in 53rd place when it came to land price for data centres, priced at just under $2,000 per square foot at land, compared to Columbus in first place which was priced at less than $5.

The city-state has had a moratorium on building new data centres for the past year, although the government is planning to lift this soon after constructing new rules that place strict energy efficiency requirements on all new sites. Singapore’s government plans to only authorise new data centres that are best in class in terms of resource efficiency, and it will be more selective of which data centres it can accommodate.