All posts by Daniel Todd

Cisco acquires container security startup Banzai Cloud

Daniel Todd

18 Nov, 2020

Cisco has announced plans to acquire Hungarian container security startup Banzai Cloud, as the networking giant looks to further expand its portfolio of cloud-native technologies. 

The deal is expected to close at the end of this quarter for an undisclosed sum and follows hot on the heels of Cisco’s takeover of cloud-native security company Portshift back in October.

Founded in 2017, Budapest-based Banzai Cloud offers a Kubernetes-based platform that is designed to help businesses develop and deploy cloud-native applications.

The firm’s assets and employees will now become part of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies and Incubation group, which focuses on incubating new projects for cloud-native networking, security and edge computing environments for modern distributed applications. 

In a blog post, Liz Centoni, SVP of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies and Incubation group, explained that the move would help the company address the challenges presented by modern cloud-native applications and their environments. 

“This team has demonstrated experience with complete end-to-end cloud-native application development, deployment, runtime and security workflows,” Centoni said. 

“They have built and deployed software tools that solve critical real-world pain points and are active participants in the open-source community as sponsors, contributors and maintainers of several open-source projects.”

The acquisition is the latest move in Cisco’s push to grow its cloud security portfolio, following its acquisition of Israeli startup Portshift last month for a reported $100 million.

The Tel-Aviv-based business provides a Kubernetes-based platform to secure containers and serverless applications and will also fall under Cisco’s Emerging Technologies and Incubation umbrella. 

“These two cross-border acquisitions are a testament to the globalisation of the cloud-native ecosystem and underscore our commitment to hybrid, multi-cloud application-first infrastructure as the de facto mode of operating IT,” Centoni added. 

“The Emerging Technologies and Incubation team’s mission is to incubate impactful technologies and to attract, foster and grow the global talent needed to drive innovation and support our customers’ digital transformation initiatives.”

BT adds Zoom to digital workplace portfolio

Daniel Todd

13 Oct, 2020

BT has announced an expansion of its range of cloud-based audio and video collaboration managed services with the addition of Zoom Meetings to its portfolio. 

The move follows the signing of a new carrier agreement between the pair, with BT becoming the first global provider to offer a fully-managed Zoom Meetings service to its customers. 

The service will feature a choice of connectivity and integration with BT’s global voice network, the telecommunications firm said, as well as end-to-end experience monitoring and enhanced security

The new agreement also allows BT to provide Zoom Rooms, Zoom’s extendable software-based conference room offering.

“We’re keeping it simple for customers, helping them create secure and productive digital workplaces for their people, wherever they are,” commented Andrew Small, director of Global portfolio at BT. 

“Our new managed service allows global enterprises, typically with complex network and IT infrastructure, to consume Zoom Meetings in a simple, consistent and secure way with optimised experiences for their people around the world.”

Video conferencing provider Zoom saw a huge spike in popularity this year, as COVID-19 lockdown measures were implemented around the world. Users flocked to the service to stay in touch with family, friends and work colleagues as face-to-face meetings were cancelled to help contain the spread of the virus. 

Many organisations also started using the platform to hold virtual business meetings and group communications – but this presented a number of security concerns for IT departments who had little to no control over the service.

However, through the new agreement with BT, there are now security options such as encrypted communications and user ID protection, alongside secure and private MPLS connectivity, dedicated network gateways, and user adoption programmes for education. In terms of connectivity, choices include internet, global SIP, PSTN or MPLS.

“We chose BT as a global managed service partner because it’s a trusted and established leader in the world market with in-depth enterprise voice, video, security, cloud and networking expertise,” said Ryan Azus, chief revenue officer at Zoom. 

“Our new agreement will help large enterprises fully experience the benefits Zoom Meetings, Zoom Phone and Zoom Rooms offer. This partnership will also expand Zoom’s global footprint and enterprise sales capabilities.”

Veeam acquires Kubernetes specialist Kasten

Daniel Todd

7 Oct, 2020

Veeam has announced the acquisition of Kasten, a leading Kubernetes container backup and disaster recovery specialist, in a deal worth a reported $150 million.

Announcing the move, Veeam said the takeover comes at a time when businesses using containerised workloads continues to rise, with Gartner predicting that 75% of enterprises will be running containers in production by 2022.

The pair previously announced a collaboration back in May to deliver Kubernetes-native backup and Veeam CTO Danny Allan said this acquisition represents the natural next stage of the company’s Kubernetes journey.

“Veeam’s acquisition of Kasten is the next step in a strong partnership and shared sense of passion for delivering cloud data management,” he commented. “It also represents a testament and critical milestone in our commitment to support our customers’ business transformation to future-ready architectures.”

The acquisition will see Kasten’s K10 Data Management Platform integrated into its Veeam Backup & Replication and Cloud Data Management platforms – but it will also remain available as a standalone product for those that require it.

The application-centric, scalable platform protects Kubernetes containers in the cloud and on-premises, tackling dynamic apps with ease and offers quick and simple deployment. K10 also offers multi-cloud capability for flexibility and seamless movement, as well as support for popular relational and NoSQL databases.

“Longer term, as announced in our partnership earlier this year and like our other cloud-native solutions, you can expect to see capabilities like unified Veeam repositories with the all the value of data movement, tiering and management that comes with it,” Allan said. 

“You can expect to see Kubernetes assets visible and integrated in the Veeam Cloud Data Management Platform. And you can continue to expect to see our continued focus on simplicity, flexibility and reliability.”

Post-purchase, Veeam confirmed that Kasten will continue to operate independently, forming a new business unit under Niraj Tolia, Kasten’s current CEO.

“Our charter is to continue to invest in and build out the Kasten K10 platform,” Tolia said in a blog post. “For our joint customers, we will deliver a single modern data management platform that will protect data across virtual machines, physical servers, SaaS applications, and now, containers. 

“For our Kubernetes-only customers, we will continue to provide the freedom of choice to run K10 wherever they are today and will be tomorrow.”

Cisco announces intent to buy security startup Portshift

Daniel Todd

6 Oct, 2020

Cisco has revealed plans to acquire Israeli cyber security startup Portshift, in a move the tech firm says will enable its security platform to better deploy and manage Kubernetes container clusters. 

Announcing the acquisition, Cisco said that Portshift aligns to its own approach to providing secure connectivity between users, devices and apps, regardless of where they are based. 

A Kubernetes-native security platform, Portshift enables DevOps, security and operations teams to maintain security of the entire containerised applications life-cycle, from their creation to implementation. 

Portshift’s products are also designed to provide vulnerability and configuration management, network segmentation, data encryption, as well as compliance auditing.

“Today, the application security space is highly fragmented with many vendors addressing only part of the problem,” commented Cisco SVP Liz Centoni said in a blog post. “The Portshift team is building capabilities that span a large portion of the lifecycle of the cloud-native application.

“They bring cloud native application security capabilities and expertise for containers and service meshes for Kubernetes environments to Cisco, which will allow us to move toward the delivery of security for all phases of the application development​ lifecycle.”

Portshift was founded in 2018 by CEO Ran Ilany, the former head of security infrastructure at Check Point Technologies, and vice president of research and development Zohar Kaufman, who also previously co-founded CTERA networks. 

The Tel-Aviv firm has raised around $5.3 million in seed funding from the Team8 cybersecurity foundry and currently has a workforce of 14 employees. 

Cisco said it expects to complete the transaction during the first half of its FY21 but did not reveal any financial details surrounding the move. According to a report from Globes, however, the figure is expected to total around $100 million.

Microsoft unveils Azure for Operators to unlock 5G potential

Daniel Todd

30 Sep, 2020

Microsoft has announced a new cloud platform called Azure for Operators that has been designed to help telecommunications operators unlock the full potential of 5G.

The new offering will help communication service providers create new opportunities and provide core infrastructure, the Redmond giant says, using cloud, cellular and edge to create the lowest latency and largest reach for a low cost.

Ultimately, Azure for Operators aims to help providers create advanced industry solutions based on connections to AI, signature consumer experiences with new forms of mixed reality content, as well as an ecosystem of developers that can quickly leverage 5G network opportunities. 

“We’re building a carrier-grade cloud and bringing more Microsoft technology to the operator’s edge,” commented Jason Zander, Executive Vice President of Microsoft Azure, in a blog post

“This, in combination with our developer ecosystem, will help operators to future-proof their networks, drive down costs, and create new services and business models.”

Building on its acquisitions of Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch, Microsoft says the move will enable operators to offer a wide range of services such as ultra-reliable, low-latency connectivity, mixed reality communications services, network slicing, as well as highly scalable Internet of Things (IoT) apps.

With Azure, businesses can also implement a more flexible and scalable model, bring down infrastructure cost, as well as automate operations using AI and machine learning to differentiate their services.

Microsoft also highlighted that it will support operators as they evolve their infrastructure and operations using tech such as software-defined networking, network function virtualisation and service-based architectures.  

“We are bringing to market a carrier-grade platform for edge and cloud to support the operator’s goals to future proof their infrastructure with disaggregated, and containerised network architectures,” Zander added. 

“Recognising that not everything will move to the public cloud, we will meet operators where they are—whether at the enterprise edge, the network edge, or in the cloud.”

Schneider Electric, StorMagic and HPE unveil ‘Edge in a Box’

Daniel Todd

29 Sep, 2020

Schneider Electric, StorMagic and HPE have joined forces to create ‘Edge in a Box’, a new micro data centre solution that provides IT systems for edge computing environments.

Available immediately worldwide, the joint offering includes Schneider Electric’s 6U Wall Mount EcoStruxure Micro Data Centre, alongside StorMagic SvSAN software and two HPE ProLiant Servers.

Designed to meet the compute requirements of small workspaces, ‘Edge in a Box’ can be wall-mounted and fully customised through a global network of channel partners. In terms of performance, the solution delivers resilient power, ultra-low latency connectivity, as well as secure, on-premise servers and data storage, the trio says.

“Customers with edge sites are experiencing a number of unique challenges, including budget constraints, lack of space and limited, or non-existent IT support,” commented David Terry, vice president of IT Channels at Schneider Electric, Europe. 

“The 6U EcoStruxure Micro Data Center is the smallest, secure and lightweight data centre solution in the market, helping organisations to quickly modernise their IT infrastructure, while reducing the costs associated with deployment, servicing and maintenance.”

Optimised to run edge applications, the system offers up industry-leading uptime, the companies say, thanks to its combination of StorMagic software, two HPE ProLiant servers, choice of VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V or Linux KVM hypervisor, APC Smart-UPS with Lithium-ion models, APC power distribution unit (PDU), as well as HPE Aruba Networking. 

“IT teams must be able to quickly deliver what the business needs – simplicity, low-cost and 100% uptime to ensure confidence that business-critical applications are always running,” said Bruce Kornfeld, chief marketing and product officer at StorMagic. 

“By combining StorMagic SvSAN with APC by Schneider Electric infrastructure and HPE servers, customers can work with their integration partner of choice to customise, build and deploy ‘Edge in a Box’ solutions that meet their budget and space requirements.”

Ultimately, the trio says ‘Edge in a Box’ will enable IT professionals to mitigate IT downtime and its impact on business, reduce the complexity of on-site work, simplify system configuration and programming, as well as minimise order complexity and delivery times for rapid installation.

“By integrating HPE ProLiant servers with advanced technologies from Schneider Electric, we are able to power the edge in the box solution,” said David Stone, vice president, Worldwide Ecosystem Sales Leader at HPE. 

“Together we are making it easier for customers to deploy and manage edge computing solutions and enable them to focus on unlocking new value and creating new experiences from edge-driven data.”

T-Mobile launches new small business plans with Microsoft 365

Daniel Todd

22 Sep, 2020

T-Mobile has unveiled new rate plans for small business with Microsoft 365 included, which have been designed to give customers access to Office apps, cloud services, device management and advanced security

Access to Microsoft 365 Business Basic on T-Mobile’s Magenta for Business Plans now comes at no extra charge on up to two lines per account, while the service provider has also upgraded its 7,000-plus retail stores, as well as more than doubled its team of specially-trained experts to help better support SMBs.

Announcing the new plans, T-Mobile said it has reimagined its offerings to help small businesses save time and money, boost productivity, as well as suitably equip them to “navigate new realities”. 

“We celebrate small businesses every day at T-Mobile – they are the backbone of our communities. Today, we’re going even bigger for small businesses with Microsoft 365 on Us, providing critical Microsoft tools to help them survive and thrive in the face of new realities,” commented Mike Katz, EVP of T-Mobile for Business.

“Additionally, small business owners now have a new experience when they step into retail stores with highly trained mobile experts ready to serve them and other small businesses in the area. These businesses have endured such great challenges in 2020, and we want them to know – we’re with you.”

The new Magenta for Business and Magenta for Business Plus include Microsoft’s 365 productivity suite of tools for no extra charge and, for a limited time, T-Mobile is offering switchers up to 90 days of free wireless service. 

On top of the freshly-redesigned small-business plans, T-Mobile said it is doubling down on its support for SMBs, with the service provider more than doubling its number of dedicated staff and increasing business space in-store by 500%.

“T-Mobile and Microsoft have a shared commitment to helping small businesses save time and money by providing the tools and technology they need to succeed both now and into the future,” said Mark Kroese, General Manager at Microsoft 365 for SMB. 

“With the new offering, T-Mobile is making Microsoft 365 tools available to T-Mobile for Business customers, and in the process helping small business owners stay connected and productive in a new world of remote work.”

HPE brings new HPE GreenLake cloud experience to Europe

Daniel Todd

17 Jul, 2020

HPE has teamed up with colocation service provider Interxion to bring GreenLake services to the European market, in a move it says will offer a managed cloud experience without the complexity of managing data centres.

Hosted at Interxion’s colocation data centres, the HPE GreenLake cloud services initiative has been designed to allow customers to maintain ownership of their data and workloads, minus the need to manage on-site data.

Announcing the move, the tech giant said the setup will bring a host of benefits – such as greater visibility of resource utilisation across co-located and public cloud-based workloads, as well as governance across enterprise applications and data. It will also enable enterprises to interconnect with connectivity providers, public clouds and each other, the firm said.

To begin with, HPE is introducing a pilot program in Ireland – but a successful trial will see the scheme quickly expand to the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

“As the cloud gateway to Europe, Ireland is the perfect market to trial this new hosted HPE GreenLake cloud offer,” commented Maeve Culloty, Managing Director of HPE Ireland. “By running workloads as a service on dedicated hardware at a colocation data center, customers are getting the best of both worlds: the convenience of cloud and the security and compliance associated with a traditional on-premise infrastructure.”

The announcement follows the launch of new HPE GreenLake’s new cloud services last month, which opened up access to a host of cloud services that can be deployed via HPE GreenLake Central.

Now, thanks to the Interxion collaboration, customers can leverage further key benefits – such as eliminating the cost of on-premise data centres and gaining access to public cloud providers, the company claims. Businesses will also have visibility over usage and spend, keep control of data and processes, all while running their workloads in data centres powered by 100% renewable energy.

Initially, HPE and Interxion said they are offering HPE GreenLake cloud services for private cloud with containers or virtual machines, and data centre infrastructure – which will be available via HPE and HPE channel partners.

“Our agreement to launch HPE GreenLake cloud services hosted in our data centers improves speed and agility by increasing customers’ connectivity to public clouds while staying in control of cost, security and compliance without the need to invest in an on-premise data center, as they can deploy HPE GreenLake solutions in Interxion’s colocation data centers,” commented Séamus Dunne, managing director of Interxion Ireland.

“Interxion will help businesses safeguard mission-critical data, while also taking into account their security needs and operational reliability.”

Rancher Labs unveils new Kubernetes certification programme

Daniel Todd

20 May, 2020

Rancher Labs has announced the launch of Rancher Academy, a new certification program that the open source software firm says will address the growing Kubernetes skills gap.

The initiative arrives as a result of accelerating enterprise adoption of containers, as well as 250% year-on-year growth in Rancher’s training programs, with the initiative aiming to enable “the complete democratisation of Kubernetes”.

A no-cost and zero-obligation programme, users can now take on the five-week Certified Rancher Operator: Level 1 course via Rancher Academy, with new classes to be announced later this year, the company said.

“This Rancher certification is designed to help Kubernetes practitioners demonstrate their knowledge and competence with Kubernetes and Rancher,” commented Adrian Goins (pictured), director of Community and Evangelism at Rancher.

According to a recent Dice Tech Job Report for 2020, there has been an 82% increase in job demand for workers with Kubernetes skills over the last year, with Dice predicting a further 67% growth rate for the decade ahead.

A 250% increase in Rancher’s Rodeo and Master Class registrations over the last 12 months also highlights practitioners’ desire to build competencies in Kubernetes concepts and architectures, the software firm said.

The comprehensive and self-paced Rancher Academy training scheme aims to counter this demand by covering all the key details for deploying and managing Rancher, as well as how to use the platform to deploy and manage Kubernetes clusters from any provider.

Rancher Labs says the course has been built using educational best practices, featuring a mix of passive and active learning, as well as an increasing difficulty as the weeks progress.

More specifically, Rancher Academy offers video introductions, theory work, demonstrations, hands-on labs, quizzes and a final exam.

“Not only do we want all members of our community to have the most relevant and up-to-date skills on the industry’s most widely adopted Kubernetes management platform. But we also want to empower them to be at the forefront of the cloud-native way of doing business, which is agile, open source-oriented and maniacally-focused on fast access to innovation,” Goins explained.

Coronavirus pandemic provides boost for cloud sales

Daniel Todd

5 May, 2020

The current global COVID-19 pandemic has had a “mildly positive impact” on cloud sales, the latest analysis from Synergy Research has revealed.

As other industries have suffered at the hands of the virus and subsequent containment measures, cloud service providers have recorded significant growth as many businesses switch to remote working.

During Q1 2020, spending on cloud infrastructure services hit $29 billion, marking a 37% increase from the first quarter of last year. Although this was in line with expected market growth rate, the research firm said there were no signs of a meaningful negative impact and “anecdotal evidence” suggested positive market tailwinds.

Synergy also estimated that market revenue for the last 12 months totalled $104 billion, with public Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (Paas) increasing by 39% during Q1 2020.

“While COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on communities and economies around the world, indications are that it is having a mildly positive impact on the cloud infrastructure services market,” commented John Dinsdale, chief analyst at Synergy Research Group.

In terms of the big market providers, Amazon Web Services (AWS) continued to mirror the overall market trend with a global market share of 32%, while Microsoft increased to 18% following a strong year of growth.

Key players Google, Alibaba and Tencent were also found to be significantly outpacing the market and gaining market share, Synergy added, with all three firms seeing revenue increases of 45% or more year-on-year.

“For sure the pandemic is causing some issues for cloud providers, but in uncertain times the public cloud is providing flexibility and a safe haven for enterprises that are struggling to maintain normal operations,” Dinsdale added.

“Cloud provider revenues continue to grow at truly impressive rates, with AWS and Azure in aggregate now having an annual revenue run rate of well over $60 billion.”