AWS revenues up 32% for Q1 of 2021

Bobby Hellard

30 Apr, 2021

Amazon Web Services (AWS) revenues grew 32% in the first quarter of the year, as greater demand for cloud computing continued into 2021.

The cloud computing arm of Amazon brought in $13.5 billion between January and March, jumping from $12.75 billion in the final quarter of 2020.

AWS has long maintained its position as the world’s largest cloud provider and is often Amazon’s most reliable source of income, contributing billions to its overall profits every quarter. Its success is part of the reason that its CEO, Andy Jassy, is set to replace Jeff Bezos at the end of Q2.

In a statement, Bezos referred to AWS as Amazon’s 15-year old child that had “grown-up fast” and come into its own.

“In just 15 years, AWS has become a $54 billion annual sales run rate business competing against the world’s largest technology companies, and its growth is accelerating – up 32% year over year,” Bezos said.

“Companies from Airbnb to McDonald’s to Volkswagen come to AWS because we offer what is by far the broadest set of tools and services available, and we continue to invent relentlessly on their behalf. We love AWS, and we’re proud to have them in the family.”

Microsoft also recorded increased revenues for 2021 Q1, with a third consecutive quarter of 50% growth. However, the Redmond firm still only accounts for 19% of the overall cloud market, compared to 32% taken up by AWS.

Cloud emerged as a winner across all sectors over the last year, according to Canalys research analyst Blake Murray. As such, organisations have become dependent on digital services to maintain operations and adapt.

“Though 2020 saw large-scale cloud infrastructure spending, most enterprise workloads have not yet transitioned to the cloud,” said Murray. “Migration and cloud spend will continue as customer confidence rises during 2021. Large projects that were postponed last year will resurface, while new use cases will expand the addressable market.”

IBM to acquire AIOps firm Turbonomic

Sabina Weston

30 Apr, 2021

IBM has announced plans to acquire Turbonomic, a network and application performance management software provider, for an undisclosed amount.

With the acquisition, which is expected to finalised in the second quarter of 2021, IBM aims to help its customers lower the costs of managing multiple applications within the same hybrid cloud environment.

The announcement follows IBM’s recent acquisition of Instana, as well as the launch of IBM Cloud Pak for Watson AIOps, which automates IT operations with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).

Turbonomic, which was founded in 2008 as VMTurbo, is to provide IBM with unique AI-powered automation tools capable of running on Red Hat OpenShift and across any hybrid cloud environment.

Commenting on the acquisition of Turbonomic, IBM general manager Dinesh Nirmal said that the company believes “that AI-powered automation has become inevitable, helping to make all information-centric jobs more productive”.

“That’s why IBM continues to invest in providing our customers with a one-stop-shop of AI-powered automation capabilities that spans business processes and IT. The addition of Turbonomic now takes our portfolio another major step forward by ensuring customers will have full visibility into what is going on throughout their hybrid cloud infrastructure, and across their entire enterprise,” he added.

The announcement comes just days after IBM unveiled a set of improvements to its storage portfolio designed to give its customers greater access to and management of their data across their complex hybrid cloud environments. The company previously added AI-powered automation and data management to its Cloud Pak for Data and Cloud Pak for Automation platforms, following its October 2020 decision to focus entirely on its AI capabilities and the hybrid cloud.

IBM Cloud and Data Platform senior VP Rob Thomas said that the tech giant “continues to reshape its future as a hybrid cloud and AI company”, adding that the acquisition of Turbonomic is “yet another example” of IBM’s “commitment to making the most impactful investments to advance this strategy and ensure customers find the most innovative ways to fuel their digital transformations”.

Commenting on the news, Turbonomic CEO Ben Nye said that “the combination of IBM and Turbonomic will continuously assure target application response times even during peak demand”.

IBM stated that the transaction with Turbonomic is “subject to customary closing conditions”.

US judge refuses to dismiss AWS claims that Trump interfered with JEDI cloud deal

Bobby Hellard

29 Apr, 2021

A US Federal Claims judge has refused a request from Microsoft and the US Department of Justice to dismiss Amazon’s claims that the Trump administration interfered with the bidding process for the Pentagon’s JEDI contract.

Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith decision on Wednesday paves the way for further review of a lawsuit filed by Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2019, which has maintained that the deal to provide cloud services was unfairly awarded to Microsoft.

The cloud giant claimed that the bidding for the $10 billion Joint Enterprise and Defence Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud migration contract was flawed and that the then president, Donald Trump, had used his position to influence the final decision.

“The record of improper influence by former President Trump is disturbing, and we are pleased the Court will review the remarkable impact it had on the JEDI contract award,” an AWS spokesperson said. “We continue to look forward to the Court’s review of the many material flaws in the DoD’s evaluation.”

The claims against Trump have been widely reported but, until now, haven’t been considered in a legal setting. According to a book written by Guy Snodgrass, ‘Holding The Line‘, former Pentagon secretary James Mattis claimed that the president directed him to “screw Amazon” out of a chance to bid on the JEDI contract.

In response to the decision to reject its motion, Microsoft said that it “changes little” and that professional procurement staff at the DoD chose the tech giant after a thorough review.

“We’ve continued for more than a year to do the internal work necessary to move forward on JEDI quickly, and we continue to work with DoD, as we have for more than 40 years, on mission-critical initiatives like supporting its rapid shift to remote work and the Army’s IVAS,” said Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s CVP of communications.

Judge Campbell-Smith had previously ruled that the DoD had “improperly evaluated” a price scenario, stating that part of Microsoft’s bid was not “technically feasible”. As a result, the tech giant has not been able to start working on the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI project.

The Department of Defence (DoD) has previously suggested that it would scrap the project entirely if AWS was successful in its legal challenge.

Disney+ expands AWS collaboration to fuel global rollout

Bobby Hellard

29 Apr, 2021

The Walt Disney Company has extended its partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) as it continues the global rollout of its Disney+ streaming service.

Since it was revealed in 2017, AWS has been heavily involved in the development of Disney+, providing a range of services from data analytics to storage.

The extension will see Disney tapping into more than 50 different AWS services, such as machine learning, content delivery, and serverless computing, as it continues to launch in new regions.

The service has been built on a flexible, secured cloud video infrastructure powered by AWS with the two firms collaborating “closely” to balance loads and handle usage spikes with viewing peaking during premium content like The Mandalorian and the WandaVision. When it launched in November 2019, there were more than 10 million new sign-ups within the first 24-hours.

“Disney+ has completely reinvented what’s possible in content delivery by challenging convention and using cloud technology to build a streaming product from scratch that had never been launched and marketed before on such a global scale,” said Joe Inzerillo, the executive vice president and CTO, direct-to-consumer, of the Walt Disney Company. 

“AWS has been our preferred cloud provider for years, and its proven global infrastructure and expansive suite of services has contributed meaningfully to the incredible success of Disney+.”

Amazon Kinesis, which is a data analytics platform, and Amazon DynamoDB, a database that helps manage metadata and enables content to be watched on different devices, have both been extensively used by Disney to create and deploy Disney+. The company also uses Amazon Timestream to monitor the streaming platform and ensure that users continue to have access to the highest quality video content.

With the assistance of AWS, the Walt Disney Company has been able to rapidly expand Disney+ to 59 countries across North America, Europe, Asia and South America and there are plans to continue pushing its service around the world.

Red Hat launches OpenShift Platform Plus alongside new managed cloud services

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

28 Apr, 2021

Red Hat has launched an advanced tier of its OpenShift container application platform, with added tools designed to offer a complete Kubernetes stack out-of-the-box. This is in addition to launching three new managed cloud services. 

Red Hat’s OpenShift Kubernetes Engine is the foundational layer of OpenShift, allowing customers to run containers across hybrid cloud deployments on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) OS. The OpenShift Container Platform adds developer and operations services, as well as advanced features for app development and modernisation. 

The tertiary tier, OpenShift Platform Plus, builds on the OpenShift Container Platform to provide advanced security features, ‘day two’ management capabilities and a global container registry. It brings together all the aspects needed to build, deploy and run any application where OpenShift software runs, Red Hat claims.

Its launch has come alongside a set of managed cloud services tightly integrated with the Red Hat OpenShift platform to help organisations build, deploy and manage cloud-native apps across hybrid configurations. 

Red Hat OpenShift Streams for Apache Kafka, Red Hat OpenShift Data Science and OpenShift API Management are being launched to ease the complexities of modern IT environments, while not compromising on productivity. 

OpenShift Streams for Apache Kafka is designed to make it easier for customers to create, discover and connect to real-time data streams regardless of where they’re based.

OpenShift Data Science also offers organisations a way to develop, train and test machine learning models and export in a container-ready format.

OpenShift API management, meanwhile, reduces the operational cost of delivering API-first, microservices-based apps.

“To take full advantage of the open hybrid cloud, IT leaders need to be able to use the technologies that they need in whatever IT footprint makes sense for them,” said Red Hat’s executive vice president for products and technologies, Matt Hicks, at Red Hat Summit 2021. 

“Red Hat managed cloud services effectively drops many barriers that have kept organisations from harnessing the full potential of the hybrid cloud. We believe eliminating the traditional overhead of managing cloud-scale infrastructure will spark a genesis moment for customers and open up a future of possibility where those barriers once stood.”

Red Hat OpenShift Platform Plus adds Advanced Cluster Security for Kubernetes, a standalone product developed from the firm’s recent acquisition of StackRox. This offers built-in Kubernetes-native security tools to safeguard infrastructure and management workloads through an app’s development cycle. This is in addition to Advanced Cluster Management for Kubernetes and Red Hat Quay. The former brings end-to-end visibility and control of clusters, while the latter provides a secure registry for a consistent build pipeline.

“We believe this version addresses the need for a hybrid cloud solution that we hear from our customers, and we’ll be working lead with customer-managed OpenShift across data centre, public and private cloud,” said senior vice president for cloud platforms at Red Hat, Ashesh Badani.

“This version also becomes a landing point for additional capabilities, and we have worked hard to reduce costs compared to purchasing any of these capabilities a la carte, and we will continue to offer all three versions so customers can best decide what’s appropriate for their use case, and subscribe to the best available version.”

One of the key appeals is it grants businesses system-level data collection and analysis, as well as more than 60 security policies out-of-the-box that can be enforced from the time apps are built to when they’re deployed. 

RedHat OpenShift Platform Plus also lets organisations take a DevSecOps approach to security by integrating declarative security into developer tooling and workflows.

The three managed services, being launched in the coming months, build on Red Hat’s existing suite of OpenShift apps, allowing customers and partners to build an open Kubernetes-based hybrid cloud strategy.

Based on the open source Apache Kafka project, OpenShift Streams for Apache Kafka allows dev teams to more easily incorporate streaming data into their apps. Real-time data is critical to these apps, and provide more immediate digital experiences wherever a service is delivered.

OpenShift Data Science builds on Red Hat’s Open Data Hub project and provides faster development, training and testing of machine learning models without the expected infrastructure demands. 

Finally, the OpenShift API Management managed cloud service offers full API management to Red Hat Oepnshift Dedicated, as well as OpenShift on AWS. This combines managed operations with native OpenShift integration to let organisations focus on the innovation side of things as opposed to the infrastructure. 

Red Hat OpenShift API Management also enables customers to build their own API management program, with the capabilities to control access, monitor usage, share common APIs and evolve their overall application landscape through a single DevOps pipeline.

Google and Microsoft profits surge as cloud demand continues

Carly Page

28 Apr, 2021

Google and Microsoft reported surging profits on Tuesday as the two tech giants continued to capitalise on the COVID pandemic. 

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, posted first-quarter revenues of $55.31 billion, an increase of 34% year-on-year, and profits more than doubled to $17.93 billion, marking the third consecutive quarter of record profit for the company.

Similarly, Microsoft reported that its revenues increased by 19% to $41.7 billion for the fiscal third quarter, its biggest quarterly increase since 2018, while profits soared by 44% to $15.5 billion. 

Google’s first-quarter growth was largely fuelled by its advertising business, which brought in $44.68 billion during the three-month period – a 32% increase compared to Q1 2020. 

Google Cloud also reported impressive gains during the three-month period, although it continues to make a loss for the company. The division reported $4.02 billion in revenue and had an operating loss of $974 million in Q1, compared to $3.83 billion in revenue and $1.24 billion in operating losses during Q4 2020, the first time Google broke out its cloud business’ performance separately.

Meanwhile, Alphabet’s “other bets,” which include Verily and Waymo, reported revenue of $198 million and an operating loss $1.15 billion

“Over the last year, people have turned to Google Search and many online services to stay informed, connected and entertained. We’ve continued our focus on delivering trusted services to help people around the world. Our Cloud services are helping businesses, big and small, accelerate their digital transformations,” said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet. 

Cloud remained Microsoft’s biggest driver during its fiscal third quarter. Sales of commercial cloud products generated $17.7 billion in revenue, up 33% from a year earlier, and Azure revenues soared 50% during the three-month period. Commercial Office 365 products also grew 22% during Q3 as corporate customers continued to embrace cloud-based tools as a result of the shift to mass remote working.

“Over a year into the pandemic, digital adoption curves aren’t slowing down. They’re accelerating, and it’s just the beginning,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “We are building the cloud for the next decade, expanding our addressable market and innovating across every layer of the tech stack to help our customers be resilient and transform.”

Microsoft’s Personal Computing business also saw recorded growth of 19% year-on-year, thanks to a 10% increase in Windows OEM revenue, a 10% year-over-year increase in Windows commercial products and cloud services revenue, and a 35% jump in Xbox and gaming revenue.

Red Hat bolsters Edge strategy with major RHEL platform update

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

28 Apr, 2021

Red Hat has added a host of features to its flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) platform to refine the product as a lightweight, production-grade operating system for edge computing

With RHEL 8.4, which will launch in the next few weeks, the company is adding Linux container deployment and management capabilities scaled for the intensive demands of edge computing. The latest version of the flagship operating system adds container images, enhanced management of edge deployments at scale, and automatic container updates.

Together, these improvements comprise the foundational layer for the ‘Red Hat Edge’ initiative, which aims to extend the capabilities of the firm’s hybrid cloud portfolio to edge computing across various industries. The segments being targeted initially include telecoms, transport, as well as smart vehicles. 

“The vision of open hybrid cloud – that sort of build once and deploy anywhere – that gets extended to the edge as we have seen this incredible thirst for the capabilities that edge can bring,” said senior vice president and general manager for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Stefanie Chiras, speaking on a panel at Red Hat Summit 2021. 

“As we look at what we have done with open hybrid cloud, edge becomes that next extension for us to broaden out that hybrid cloud, bringing that choice that our platform delivers out into edge use cases.”

“To me when we look at our value in edge, it fundamentally comes to our capabilities in Linux. What we’ve done in RHEL, how we’ve built that out to be the heart of an ecosystem, and a stable, secure platform, how we’ve brought that into the OpenShift platform to deliver Kubernetes and management around containerisation – all of that consistency is critically important when we get out to the edge.” 

With updates to Podman, RHEL’s open standards-based container engine, the platform will help to maintain standardisation and control across several Linux containers, which is critical to edge deployments. 

There’s also new functionality to Image Builder, a tool that creates customised deployable operating system images for a variety of users. This tool supports the creation of installation media tailored for bare metal, which helps IT teams maintain a common foundation across disconnected edge environments.

Finally, the Red Hat Universal Base Image (UBI), which allows containers to retain RHEL’s traits such as security at the application level, is now available in a lightweight micro image. This makes it ideal for building redistributable, cloud-native app standardisation on an enterprise-grade Linux foundation, minus the overhead of an entire operating system deployment. 

The latest version of RHEL also adds a few non-edge-oriented features, including greater flexibility for cloud-based applications, more simplified and automated system configuration and management, as well as greater security. 

Microsoft Teams suffers its second outage this month

Bobby Hellard

27 Apr, 2021

Microsoft Teams has suffered a global outage for the second time this month that is preventing users from sending messages and logging in to the service. 

The tech giant confirmed the issue on Twitter and said it was currently investigating the root cause. 

The issue, which is throwing up a 401 error code, is preventing users from accessing the service via the web and blocking messaging systems on the app itself. Some have managed to log in, but Microsoft has warned that they might experience “degraded performance with multiple features”. 

“We’ve confirmed that this issue affects users globally,” says Microsoft’s 365 status account on Twitter. “We’re reviewing monitoring telemetry and recent changes to isolate the source of the issue.”

The problems began around 10:30am BST, according to DownDetector, with login and server issues the most commonly cited by users. Other Microsoft services, such as Azure and Xbox have so far been unaffected, but with the pandemic still lingering and many still working from home, the outage is causing trouble for many in the UK and around the world – including Doncaster’s local planning committee.

“Unfortunately due to global issues with Microsoft Teams today’s scheduled Planning Committee is cancelled,” the organisation said on Twitter. “The meeting will be rearranged in due course, we will share details of the new date once it becomes available.”

Since, Microsoft has said that it’s identified the root cause of the issue and “performed mitigation actions”. 

“We’re seeing signs of recovery and will continue to monitor the service,” the company added. “Users still experiencing impact should restart their clients to expedite recovery. Further details can be found under TM252802.

This is the second outage Teams has suffered in April and the third its experienced in the past two months. In March, users lost four hours of usage after an authentication change knocked out access to the comms platform. That coincided with an Azure Active Directory outage that impacted Office web apps, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and other Microsoft services. 

IT Pro has approached Microsoft for details and will update this article when more information is released. 

Zoom update aims to make video calls feel like in-person meetings

Bobby Hellard

27 Apr, 2021

Zoom has rolled out a video background feature called Immersive View that aims to make its video calls feel more like physical, in-person meetings. 

The feature was unveiled last year at the firm’s Zoomtopia conference but has this week rolled out to both free and paid-for accounts for meetings and webinars of up to 25 participants. 

Zoom already has virtual background options, but Immersive View – which is available on Zoom desktop for Windows and macOS – adds functions to select and move participants into more realistic scenarios. It can be enabled via the dropdown menu where you can find ‘Speaker’ and ‘Gallery’ view.

From there, users will have the choice to either automatically place attendees in a variety of built-in virtual scenes, such as a boardroom or auditorium, or do so manually. 

Each attendee can be resized by the host and moved around a chosen scene, and users can even upload their own. It’s possible to use any image as an Immersive View background, but Zoom recommends that matching up file type, aspect ratio and resolution, as it has with its choices, will produce the best results. 

“Whether you want to create the feeling of being in a classroom, a boardroom, a conference auditorium, or your favourite place to catch up with friends, Zoom’s Immersive View assembles up to 25 participants in one fun, consistent meeting environment,” Zoom product marketing specialist, David Ball, said in a blog post.

Unfortunately, there are some limitations; calls over 25 people will see remaining guests in a strip of video thumbnails at the top of the scene. Worse, participants that are not using the latest version of Zoom will simply see the standard grid. Recordings are also subject to these limitations; they’ll be recorded in the standard Speaker or Gallery View, rather than a fun virtual scene.

IBM launches suite of hybrid cloud storage services

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

27 Apr, 2021

IBM has unveiled a set of improvements to its storage portfolio designed to give its customers greater access to and management of their data across their complex hybrid cloud environments

The technology giant, which has pivoted its operations towards hybrid cloud in recent months, will launch IBM Spectrum Fusion later this year, in addition to updating its IBM Elastic Storage System (ESS). 

IBM Spectrum Fusion is described as a container-native hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) system that integrates compute, storage and networking functions into a single platform. It’s been designed to come equipped with Red Hat’s OpenShift to allow customers to support environments for both virtual machines (VMs) and containers, and provide software-defined storage for cloud, edge and containerised data centres. A software-defined storage (SDS) version will follow in 2022.

Updates to IBM’s ESS suite, meanwhile, include a revamped model ESS 5000 that delivers 10% greater capacity, as well as a new ESS 3200 which offers double the read performance of its predecessor. They’re designed to provide scalability at double the performance of previous models for faster access to enterprise data.

“It’s clear that to build, deploy and manage applications requires advanced capabilities that help provide rapid availability to data across the entire enterprise – from the edge to the data centre to the cloud,” said Denis Kennelly, general manager for IBM Storage Systems. 

“It’s not as easy as it sounds, but it starts with building a foundational data layer, a containerised information architecture and the right storage infrastructure.”

Spectrum Fusion integrates a fully containerised version of the parallel file system and data protection software to provide businesses with a streamlined way to discover data across the organisation. Customers can also use the system to virtualise and accelerate data sets more easily by using the most relevant storage tier. 

Businesses will also only need to manage a single copy of the data, no longer needing to create duplicate data when moving workloads across the business. This eases processing functions such as data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).

With regards to IBM’s ESS updates, the IBM ESS 3200 is designed to provide data throughput of 80Gbps per node, which represents a 100% performance boost from its predecessor, the ESS 3000. The 3200 also offers up to eight InfiniBand HDR-200 or Ethernet-100 ports for high throughput and low latency.

The IBM ESS 5000 model has been updated to support 10% more density than the previously available, for a total storage capacity of 15.2PB. In addition, all ESS systems are now equipped with streamlined containerised deployment capabilities automated with the latest version of Red Hat Ansible. 

Both these models include containerised system software and support for Red Hat OpenShift and the Kubernetes Container Storage Interface (CSI), CSI snapshots and clones, Red Hat Ansible, Windows, Linux and bare metal environments. IBM Spectrum Scale is also built into them. The 3200 and 5000 units also work with IBM Cloud Pak for Data, its fully containerised platform of integrated data and AI services