All posts by James

Amazon completes consumer database migration from Oracle to AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) claims it has fully migrated its consumer databases from Oracle to its own offerings – but don’t expect the mudslinging between the two companies to end just yet.

Jeff Barr, AWS evangelist, took to the Seattle giant’s official blog to confirm the last Oracle database had been turned off. AWS claims it has reduced its database costs by more than 60%, latency of consumer-facing applications was reduced by 40%, and database admin overhead went down by 70% moving to managed services.

“Over the years we realised that we were spending too much time managing and scaling thousands of legacy Oracle databases,” wrote Barr. “Instead of focusing on high-value differentiated work, our database administrators spent a lot of time simply keeping the lights on while transaction rates climbed and the overall amount of stored data mounted.”

This was by no means the only snarky remark. AWS went to the trouble of creating a video, complete with cheers, encapsulating the moment when the final Oracle DB was switched off (below), while the slide which accompanied Barr’s blog, albeit lacking somewhat in detail, was captioned ‘bye bye Oracle’.

Regular watchers of AWS and Oracle keynotes will recall various claims made by one company against the other. Only last month Larry Ellison’s OpenWorld keynote in San Francisco, which touted the company’s autonomous, next-generation cloud, compared variously with Amazon’s position on shared responsibility – a concept which Oracle is looking to eradicate.

Last November, AWS chief executive Andy Jassy noted that AWS had turned off its last Oracle data warehouse at the beginning of that month, and added that almost 90% of all databases had moved to cloud-based relational database Aurora and non-relational database DynamoDB.

The overall migration project was not limited to switching off databases. Barr added that employees who focused primarily on Oracle database admin work were retrained on AWS, as well as ‘cloud-based architectures’ and cloud security. “They now work with both internal and external customers in an advisory role, where they have an opportunity to share their first-hand experience with large-scale migration of mission-critical databases,” wrote Barr.

AWS did note that some third-party applications were ‘tightly bound’ to Oracle and were therefore not migrated.

https://www.cybersecuritycloudexpo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/cyber-security-world-series-1.pngInterested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

OVH rebrands as OVHcloud, claims more than 70% of revenues are cloud-based

OVH has announced it is changing its name to OVHcloud to mark the company’s 20th birthday – and double down on its ambitions.

The move was announced at OVH's annual jamboree, renamed this year from #OVHSummit to #OVHcloudSummit.

The company has long-held a goal to provide an alternative to the cloud hyperscalers for the European market. OVHcloud cites clarity as the primary reason for changing name: the company claims more than 70% of its revenue is ‘focused on cloud solutions.’ “By adopting the name OVHcloud, the group is aligning its identity with its business development strategy, in order to support its international growth,” the press materials note.

OVHcloud’s primary marketing is an acronym around the ‘smart’ cloud: any solution needs to be simple to implement, multi-local, accessible and predictable, reversible and open, and transparent. It is the reversibility – to ensure organisations avoid bill shock and vendor lock-in, which is particularly key, according to CEO Michel Paulin.

In a recent interview with CIO India (cached), Paulin outlined the rationale, while not naming names. “Many cloud players make it difficult or impossible for their customers to move their data out of the cloud. However we believe that customers should be free to move the data out as and when they want,” said Paulin. “The concept of reversibility is not just beneficial for the customers in the long term but will also make the multi-cloud strategy feasible.”

Writing for this publication in February, Paulin expanded further on his company’s multi-cloud ethos. “From speaking to our customers, combining on-premise and cloud infrastructure with a multi-cloud strategy has allowed them to connect to networks in a totally isolated and secure way, via numerous points of presence around the world,” Paulin wrote.

“What’s more, I’ve noticed how it has allowed organisations to shift to the cloud at their own pace and take a flexible approach – all while responding to their strategic objectives,” Paulin added. “This means businesses can control and run an application, workload, or data on any cloud based on their individual technical requirements.”

OVHcloud is looking at various industries, as well as smaller businesses, to help it differentiate. The company’s Cloud Web hosting product line, for instance, is aimed at developers and agencies. At the other end of the scale the company is promising an enriched bare metal portfolio for its enterprise solution base to provide greater performance and automation capabilities.

While Paulin noted in a statement that the company wants its brand to reflect the reality of cloud around the world, industry watchers may be wary of such nomenclature. In the much more nascent blockchain space, companies have been adding the buzzword to their name before changing their mind. The most recent was Blockchain Power Trust, which changed its name last week to Jade Power Trust after the company officially ceased cryptocurrency mining operations.

You can view the full #OVHcloudSummit keynote here (English version).

Picture credit: OVHcloud/Screenshot

https://www.cybersecuritycloudexpo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/cyber-security-world-series-1.pngInterested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

Organisations struggling with sensitive cloud data as they shun security-first approach

Corporate data may be reaching a tipping point in the cloud – but security policies are yet to follow it.

That is the key finding from a new report by security provider Thales. The study, which was put together by the Ponemon Institute and which polled more than 3,000 IT and IT security practitioners across eight countries, found that while almost half (48%) of corporate data was in the cloud, less than a third (32%) of companies had a ‘security-first approach’ to data storage in the cloud.

The rise of multi-cloud continues apace, with almost half (48%) of those polled having such a system. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and IBM were the most popular vendors among respondents. More than a quarter (28%) said they were using at least four cloud providers. Yet this leads to confusion, the report noted.

“With businesses increasingly looking to use multiple cloud platforms and providers, it’s vital they understand what data is being stored and where,” said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “Not knowing this information makes it essentially impossible to protect the most sensitive data – ultimately leaving these organisations at risk.”

In one of the more peculiar questions, respondents were asked who bore the most responsibility for sensitive data in the cloud. The answers were almost entirely split down the middle; 35% believed it was on the providers, 31% said it was their responsibility, with 33% preferring a shared responsibility model.

For almost all cases, responsibility for cloud security is shared between the vendor and the customer; the vendor will look after the infrastructure while the customer looks after applications. Oracle, meanwhile, wants to eradicate the shared responsibility model with what it calls its autonomous next-generation cloud, eliminating human error of all kinds.

There were various other survey findings: more businesses (54%) now believe that cloud storage makes it more difficult to protect sensitive data, while more than two thirds (67%) believe conventional security methods are difficult to apply when it comes to cloud-based data.

“We’d encourage all companies to take responsibility for understanding where their data sits to ensure it’s safe and secure,” added Ponemon.

https://www.cybersecuritycloudexpo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/cyber-security-world-series-1.pngInterested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

Building confidence and power: Exploring greater female leadership and participation in cloud and data analytics

Analysis Last month, Forbes published its list of America’s 100 most innovative leaders. The report’s methodology was based on four ‘essential leadership qualities of top founders and CEOs’. These were, in no particular order, perception in the media for innovation, social connections, and ‘value creation’, both in terms of track record and investor expectations.

There was, however, one glaring problem: the list of 100 featured only one woman. Barbara Rentler, CEO of retailer Ross Stories, was ranked #75, with a further indignity of having a blank avatar where everyone else’s headshots appeared.

Writing shortly afterwards, Forbes editor Randall Lane noted the ‘data-driven’ methodology behind the ranking was ‘flawed’. Given part of this methodology was focused on media perception, one can see the blame could be spread around. Yet when the Forbes Cloud 100, a list of top privately-held cloud companies, was published later in September, the story remained the same. Only three companies listed – Canva, Darktrace, and Guild Education – had female chief executives.

Questions therefore need to be asked. Is it a case of chicken and egg, or are there broader issues to dig into? More importantly, what can be done about it?

The executive and event builder viewpoint

Guild Education, based in Denver, is a cloud-based education services provider. The company does not offer courses in itself, but instead sees itself as a marketplace for large companies to provide education as a benefit to its employee base. Big ticket clients include Walmart and Disney.

It’s very important to remind yourself that you’re good at what you do, you know why you’re there, and you deserve to be there as much as anyone else in that room

Its heritage of tech for good, diversity at the boardroom level and being female-founded is key, as chief product and analytics officer Bijal Shah explains. “We’re pretty proud that we’re a technology company that is utilising technology for good, and helping these Fortune 1000 employees be able to go back and find educational pathway is really important,” Shah tells CloudTech. “Just getting recognised for the work we’re doing through the Cloud 100 is pretty impactful, both from a technology perspective but also from the perspective of the social impact we’re having.”

While there is pride at having made the list, Shah (left) argues the Cloud 100 shows how ‘there is a lot more work to do’ when it comes to greater female representation at the higher echelons of tech. “I personally believe diversity begets diversity,” says Shah. “When you value it and it becomes part of your culture, then it just naturally happens.”

Getting better female representation in STEM has long been an industry goal. While the success of these initiatives varies depending on where you sit, pushback on failures has been more marked of late. The Forbes leaders’ list is a case in point – justifiable criticism was also levelled at the lack of racial diversity among the group – while an increasing number of tweetstorms around ‘manels’ have forced tech event organisers to think twice.

UK-based Women in Data is in no danger of falling into that trap. The brand started in 2014 as a half-day relatively informal gathering, and is now a series of events with the flagship, in November, expecting up to 1500 attendees.

Rachel Keane, managing consultant at technical recruiter Datatech Analytics, put the event together with fellow co-founder Roisin McCarthy after realising the company had placed fewer women in 2014 for data and analytics roles as they had in 2000. “We thought this was really strange, because we were more profitable than ever, our client bases were growing, and as far as we were concerned we were placing the best people for the job,” Keane tells CloudTech. “We didn’t really give it much consideration. We had clients of each gender, but in terms of building those teams out we just put the right CV with the right skill set and the right attitude towards the job.”

The issues women face – seen and unseen

Both Shah and Keane note the issues women face both in terms of climbing the career ladder in STEM, never mind getting on it in the first place.

While Shah’s career prior to Guild had been a mix of technical and business development, her undergraduate degree in engineering reveals her passion. She admits that she had noted the number of women dwindling in her technical classes, going from school, to college, and eventually to the workplace. “I think it’s very important to remind yourself that you’re good at what you do, you know why you’re there, and you equally deserve to be there as much as anyone else in that room,” says Shah.

Today, Shah’s role is focused a lot more on the management side of the house, although she can still occasionally get her hands dirty in the day-to-day code spending time with different teams on more technical strategies. Keane notes the need for technical expertise even as you move further up the company’s hierarchy.

“There’s always that pull – you love the data, you don’t necessarily always want to leave the code behind,” says Keane. “More so when you move to a manager [or] director role – it is quite important that you have those skills as a coder, it is the fact you’re able to go in there and check that code and mentor your staff… it’s an important part of the role.

There are times where you have to take two steps back to take one step forward – being okay with that and being in control of that is really important

“You get some people that love to code, go up a couple of ranks and then say ‘actually, I’m going to manage clients, products, manage a team’, then you get some people who are I would say more AI and data science-traditional people, people who would normally remain relatively hands on,” adds Keane.

Other issues which affect women specifically have an onus on employers. Returning from maternity leave is never as simple as firing up your machine and getting back to work as though you had never been away, but in some technology fields women who take time out to have children can return significantly out of the loop through no fault of their own.

“Technology evolves so quickly and programming languages are one minute they’re here, one minute they’re gone,” says Keane. “SaaS programming was a massive tool back when I joined [Datatech in 2009], and now that really is a thing of the past. It’s now the Rs, the SQLs, the Pythons, and dare I say it more languages that are coming out.”

Opportunities for progress and change

The truth is that there should be a place for all women, regardless of what they want to do. As data democratises and becomes pivotal to virtually every industry, this has the potential to open things up tremendously.

Keane (left) notes that many soon-to-be school and university leavers still expect to work in finance with their maths qualifications. This is such a concern that Women in Data is in the process of putting together an informational film, with the support of many large companies including Facebook, the BBC and Sainsbury’s, to educate young girls on the many doors which will open for them with their respective degrees.

“They’re unaware of the fact that you can have a job in retail, or technology, or gaming, or any other industry sector,” she explains. “It is still very much related to finance and I’m not so sure that every girl relates herself to finance. Finance is very typically male dominated, as is insurance.”

The rise of soft skills can also be seen as a major opportunity; as data becomes a mandatory language across all business, being able to make sense of it and explain it is a boon.

“One of the things we have found that is quite encouraging is the fact that in the last few years it isn’t just about the numbers anymore,” says Keane. “We’re not looking for what they used to call backroom analysts, people who just crunch numbers. It is essential that a person is able to tell a story, and to listen, and to deliver the insight to make sense of how that business makes impact going forward. Naturally, they are skills that are normally more relative to a girl.”

Building confidence and power

The overriding message is one of confidence: be yourself, don’t take any nonsense, and be proud of everything you can do rather than fret over anything you can’t.

It is, of course, easier said than done. We all may suffer from imposter syndrome at times, but the struggle is more real if the aforementioned barriers, seen or unseen, are erected. “It’s hard to be what you cannot see,” says Shah. “My trajectory and my career are a little bit untraditional – I’ve always had a technical background but I’ve been in strategy roles and consulting roles. When you don’t see a pathway similar to your own, I think that can cause self-doubt.”

Shah is a believer that careers naturally have peaks and troughs, and that understanding this can also help remove self-doubt. This may be Shah’s millennial upbringing coming to the fore, as emerging research on Generation Z argues the most recent additions to the workforce are more likely to stay loyal if their employer repays that loyalty in kind. Yet this mindset can remove the pressure of having to get everything right first time.

“Careers are not linear – they are a path that ebbs and flows in different ways, and there are times where you have to take two steps back to take one step forward,” says Shah. “Being okay with that, and being in control of that, taking that by the reins and embracing it, is really important.”

Women need to have more confidence in the skills they have – celebrate what you have, don’t apologise for what you don’t have

That said, the famous quote about ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get’ still applies. “It’s really important to come into an organisation, put your head down and do a great job – not worry so much about what that next title is or what that next role is you’re going to get right away,” adds Shah. “I think proving your skills and capabilities opens a lot of doors.”

From a decade’s experience in recruitment, Keane believes that men and women tend to look at job specifications differently. If a woman looks at a spec and finds they can do 80% of it, they will be hesitant to apply for fear of the other 20%. Men are traditionally much more confident.

“There isn’t one person in nearly 11 years that I have placed who matches the job spec,” says Keane. “I never match anyone to a job spec – I match people on their technical capability, on the cultural environment, on what I think their unique skills are, and how I feel that company will benefit.

“Women need to have a little bit more confidence in the skills they have,” Keane adds. “Celebrate what you have, don’t apologise for what you don’t have.”

This confidence can traverse other areas as well. Keane recalls one recent candidate who was ‘in bits’ following a disastrous interview. “I just said to her ‘look, you’re really not thinking about this in the right way.’ Yes, you’re being interviewed by them, but surely you’re interviewing them too,” she says. “You don’t have to go and work there – it’s just not the right fit. When you start thinking like that, that’s when you start giving yourself your power and confidence back.”

“Everyone faces adversity in their careers,” adds Shah. “There are challenging things that come up but I don’t think it’s any different for men or women as long as you are willing to have the confidence to say ‘I can get past this’ or ‘I can get through this’. I can learn this new skill to then elevate my ability to move forward.”

https://www.cybersecuritycloudexpo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/cyber-security-world-series-1.pngInterested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

Sainsbury’s looks to Google Cloud for machine learning as retail cloud case studies continue to climb

UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is collaborating with Google Cloud on machine learning for greater customer insights – in another example of a cloud partnership among major retailers.

The company is looking at building machine learning solutions on Google Cloud Platform (GCP), in association with Accenture, to ‘provide new insights on what customers want and the trends driving their eating habits’, in the words of Alan Coad, Google Cloud managing director UKI in a blog post.

While that phrasing could be construed as peculiar, the overall goal, of building stronger customer profiles and providing greater value to customers through big data crunching, is one which resonates.

Sainsbury’s analyses data from various structured and unstructured sources, and is looking to Google to clean up the data, classify it, and deliver insights in real-time. Predictive analytics models have been deployed by the supermarket chain to sense trends and adjust inventory as a result. Google Cloud’s retail page outlines a five-step process to data nirvana: scaling infrastructure, developing new applications, unifying data streams and using collaborative tools to get insights faster.

“The grocery market continues to change rapidly. We know our customers want high quality at great value and that finding innovative and distinctive products is increasingly important to them,” said Phil Jordan, group CIO of Sainsbury’s. “With the help of Google Cloud Platform, we are generating new insights into how the world eats and lives, to help us stay ahead of market trends and provide an even better shopping experience for our customers.”

“The food sector is experiencing significant, rapid disruption, and this new cloud-based insights platform will help Sainsbury’s identify trends much earlier and adapt their product assortment in a faster, more informed way – all for the benefit of customers,” added Adrian Bertschinger, managing director for retail at Accenture.

Analysis

The rise in retailers partnering with the largest cloud providers is a trend which has been covered variously by this publication. In particular, the choice of cloud has frequently raised eyebrows. At the start of this year, US grocer Albertsons signed a three-year deal to make Microsoft Azure its preferred public cloud. Pharmaceutical giant Walgreens Boots Alliance signed a similar deal – albeit for seven years – in the same month.

This momentum, alongside a long-running saga last year where Walmart firmly placed its flag on terra Azure, led some to question whether top tier retailers were moving away from Amazon Web Services (AWS), the largest public cloud provider, whose parent company happens to be a rather large retailer. Indeed, according to the most recent Forbes Global 2000 list in May, Amazon surpassed Walmart as the leading retailer for the first time.

While it makes for a nice headline, this trend may be something of a red herring. AWS’ retail customers include Ocado, Under Armour and River Island. Perhaps its biggest customer is itself. Amazon had been gradually moving away from Oracle, and AWS chief executive Andy Jassy announced at the end of last year that Amazon’s consumer arm was now running the vast majority of critical system databases on AWS.

Speaking to CloudTech in April Jean Atelsek, digital economics unit analyst at 451 Research, dispelled the myth. “It’s easy to get the impression that retailers are fleeing AWS,” said Atelsek. “Microsoft’s big cloud partnership with Walmart seems to be the example that everyone wants to universalise to the entire cloud space. However since a lot of retailers also sell through/on AWS, they’re less likely than Walmart to see Amazon (and by extension AWS) as the devil.”

As the Sainsbury’s example shows, organisations across verticals are looking to utilise more mature machine learning models and techniques through the biggest cloud vendors. Even taking into account the buzzword factor, this year has seen an explosion of companies citing ML as a key factor, from media companies for content archiving (The Globe and Mail) to sporting brands for quicker insights (Formula 1), to both (NASCAR).

According to Kantar figures earlier this year, Sainsbury’s fell to third place in terms of the largest UK supermarkets, slipping behind Asda. The collaboration with Google Cloud will look to give the company a foot up; as Coad noted, the company’s vision is to ‘be the most trusted retailer’ and ‘make customers’ lives easier, by offering great quality and service at fair prices.’

https://www.cybersecuritycloudexpo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/cyber-security-world-series-1.pngInterested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

Google Cloud launches in Poland as European data centre expansion continues

Google Cloud’s European expansion continues with the launch of a new region in Poland, alongside unveiling strategic partnerships.

The new region will be hosted in Warsaw as part of Google’s commitment to Central and Eastern Europe. Prospective customers of the region will have access to the usual products, from Compute Engine to App Engine, to Google Kubernetes Engine, Cloud Bigtable, Cloud Spanner, and BigQuery.

“As part of our strategic partnership, DCP (Domestic Cloud Provider) will become a reseller of Google Cloud services in Poland and will build managed services capabilities around Google Cloud,” wrote CEO Thomas Kurian in a blog post. “With this DCP partnership, we will be able to boost our support for Polish enterprises, providing advanced infrastructure and software that suits their needs.

“Together, our goal is to accelerate cloud adoption by large and small businesses alike, across all industries,” Kurian added. “Over the next five years we’ll train experts to help Polish businesses onboard to the cloud, as well as provide insights and strategic advice on how companies can maximise the benefits of their cloud deployments.”

Michal Potoczek, chief executive of Poland’s national cloud operator, added: “We believe in a multi-cloud strategy. A Google Cloud region, together with our own infrastructure, will allow us to build hybrid services which will bring even more value to our customers.”

This marks the first data centre launch by one of the big three in Poland. While Microsoft claims to have the widest global reach its next European target is Norway, while for Amazon Web Services (AWS) Italy is the next port of call.

Google had previously opened the doors to its Zurich data centre region in March, while Microsoft, in the European data centre arms race, unveiled plans for Azure availability in Germany and Switzerland last month.

https://www.cybersecuritycloudexpo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/cyber-security-world-series-1.pngInterested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

Google achieves ‘quantum supremacy’ with new experiment – reports

It may sound like an amalgam of a James Bond and a Jason Bourne film title, but Google may have reached ‘quantum supremacy’ in what was described as “a milestone towards full scale quantum computing.”

Quantum computing, while still at a very early stage, is becoming something of a key battleground for the biggest cloud companies. The technology is based on the principles of quantum mechanics, where subatomic particles can exist in more than one state at any time, leading to significantly greater computation.

While the ceiling is almost unsurpassable, the brittle conditions – the merest change in temperature or ambient noise will render qubits awry – mean a long journey of research ahead. Take a project from Microsoft announced last year which aims to ‘break’ RSA encryption in 100 seconds. For classical computers, such a task would take one billion years.

Google’s achievement is no less impressive. Researchers have put a quantum computer, named Sycamore, through its paces with a series of operations which would take a supercomputer approximately 10,000 years to complete. The quantum computer finished it in 200 seconds.

As originally reported by the Financial Times, the findings appear in a paper prematurely published to a NASA website. The test involved sampling the output of a pseudo-random quantum circuit leading to ‘a nearly random assortment of numbers [which is] extremely difficult to reproduce with a classical computer’, as Science News put it.

At the start of this year this publication reported on an initiative from IBM whereby the company announced the first ‘commercially useable integrated quantum computing system.’ While there was a fair amount of PR razzmatazz involved, the overriding concept was one of advancing quantum computing beyond the laboratory.

This is similar, although writing for CloudTech in October, Travis S. Humble, of the IEEE and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, questioned whether the time was right to go forward. “Many different quantum technologies appear viable for continued exploratory research, [such as] superconducting electronics, trapped ions, and neutral atoms,” Humble wrote. “Each of these technologies face multiple layers of integration complexity that must be monitored, from the low-level physical registers up to application performance.”

“Quantum processors have thus reached the regime of quantum supremacy,” the report noted. “We expect their computational power will continue to grow at a double exponential rate: the classical cost of simulating a quantum circuit increases exponentially with computational volume, and hardware improvements will likely follow a quantum-processor equivalent of Moore’s Law.

“In reaching this milestone, we show that quantum speedup is achievable in a real-world system and is not precluded by any hidden physical laws,” the paper adds.

You can read a plaintext version of the report here.

https://www.cybersecuritycloudexpo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/cyber-security-world-series-1.pngInterested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

Cloud services and infrastructure spending breaks $150bn in six months, says Synergy

While spending across cloud infrastructure may be suffering something of a minor blip, cloud services spending appears to be shoring things up.

The latest analysis from industry analyst Synergy Research shows that, for the first half of 2019, operator and vendor revenues broke $150 billion, at a rise of 24% year on year.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS), led naturally by the hyperscalers of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, was the fastest growing segment at over 40%, while hosted private cloud, led by IBM, Rackspace and NT, grew at over 20% year on year. When it came to cloud-based software, such as enterprise SaaS and unified comms as a service (UCaaS), growth was in the 25% range yearly.

In aggregate, Synergy noted, spending on cloud services was now ‘far greater’ than spending on supporting data centre infrastructure. Despite this, areas such as public and private cloud infrastructure hardware and software, as espoused by Dell EMC, HPE et al, grew at just over 10% year on year.

“Cloud is increasingly dominating the IT landscape,” said John Dinsdale, a chief analyst at Synergy. “Cloud has opened up a range of opportunities for new market entrants and for disruptive technologies and business models. Amazon and Microsoft have led the charge in terms of driving changes and aggressively growing cloud revenue streams, but many other tech companies are also benefiting.

“The flip side is that some traditional IT players are having a hard time balancing protection of legacy businesses with the need to fully embrace cloud,” Dinsdale added.

Synergy issued a note last month which found hyperscaler capex was down 2% based on year-by-year figures. While the most recent quarter saw more than $28 billion in spending, a primary cause was seen to be China’s expenditure declining by 37% year on year.

https://www.cybersecuritycloudexpo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/cyber-security-world-series-1.pngInterested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

No Mickey Mouse Microsoft migration: Walt Disney Studios utilising Azure for content workflows

Walt Disney Studios is looking to the cloud for new ways to create, produce and distribute its content – and the media behemoth has chosen Microsoft to help.

The companies have signed a five-year ‘innovation partnership’ which will see Disney utilise Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform to ‘help accelerate innovation at The Walt Disney Studios for production and post-production processes’ – or ‘scene to screen’, as the companies put it.

The partnership will be concentrated around Disney’s StudioLAB, a technology hub focused on ‘the art of storytelling with cutting-edge tools and methods’, including virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI).

There is a third partner here in the shape of media technology firms Avid, with whom Microsoft already has a cloud alliance focused on putting together cloud-based media workflows around active backup, collaborative editing, and content archiving. The companies are ‘demonstrating that the kinds of demanding, high-performance workflows the media and entertainment industry requires can be deployed and operated with the security offered by the cloud’.

The latter is a particularly important use case for media providers; NASCAR’s move to Amazon Web Services (AWS) back in June enabled it to launch an online archive feature, while Boston-based TV station WGBH utilised object storage provider Cloudian last year to dramatically reduce the time required to access its previously tape and disk drive-oriented archive.

“By moving many of our production and post-production workflows to the cloud, we’re optimistic that we can create content more quickly and efficiently around the world,” said Jamie Voris, Walt Disney Studios CTO. “Through this innovation partnership with Microsoft, we’re able to streamline many of our processes so our talented filmmakers can focus on what they do best.”

Kate Johnson, president of Microsoft US, said cloud usage has ‘reached a tipping point’ for the media industry. “With Azure as the platform cloud for content, we’re excited to work with the team at StudioLAB to continue to drive innovation across Disney’s broad portfolio of studios,” said Johnson.

This is by no means the first cloud initiative from the wider company; back in 2017, just in time for re:Invent, it was announced that The Walt Disney Company was utilising AWS as its preferred public cloud infrastructure provider.

https://www.cybersecuritycloudexpo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/cyber-security-world-series-1.pngInterested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

Oracle wants to say goodbye to shared responsibility by ramping up autonomous next-gen cloud approach

The concept of shared responsibility in cloud computing is one which continues to be, if not so much a rancour, an ongoing concern. In February, for instance, research from Check Point Software found that, for more than a quarter of respondents, cloud security was the provider’s responsibility.

All clouds differ to a degree, but a safe bet is that the provider will take charge of security of the cloud – making sure zones remain available, the infrastructure works and so on – while the customer takes care of security in the cloud. This ranges from applications to network and firewall configuration, but most importantly, it also means security of the customer’s data.

Oracle is looking to make this a thing of the past with its autonomous database, as the company outlined at OpenWorld in San Francisco this week. While the autonomous database is something which has been long-discussed, the implications for cloud security were interesting, as CTO Larry Ellison explained.

“Amazon takes what I think is a very reasonable position,” Ellison told delegates. “You misconfigured the system, that’s your mistake, we at Amazon can’t be held responsible. If you spend the night drinking and then get into your Ford 150 and crash it, that’s not Ford’s problem.”

For regular viewers of Ellison’s keynotes, it won’t surprise that this was about the only positive word said about the Seattle giant all hour. And as Ellison continued the Ford analogy, an autonomous Tesla – where the Oracle CTO sits on the board as of the start of this year – would drive you home safely.

“Amazon’s support policy is very clear,” said Ellison. “As a customer, you maintain full control of your content and responsibility for configuring access to AWS services. That’s on you. In the AWS cloud, if you make an error, and it leads to catastrophic data loss, that’s on you. In the Oracle cloud, the database automatically provisions itself, it automatically encrypts itself, backs itself up, all the security systems are automatic.

“The generation two cloud, the autonomous database is responsible for preventing user errors; the system is responsible for preventing data loss, not you,” Ellison added. “Us – or more precisely, our automated systems.”

More comparisons with Amazon arrived when Ellison touting the ‘convergence’ features of Oracle’s autonomous database. Whereas the smartphone became an all-in-one covering cameras and calendars among dozens more, can’t there be one database to rule them all? Oracle thinks so: its offering can be a relational database, in-memory, support JSON, and even support machine learning and blockchain, Ellison claimed.

It’s autonomous almost-everything at Oracle towers these days, with the launch of Autonomous Linux high on the priority list – if a long time in coming. Oracle’s version of Linux, which Ellison said the company has been working on for two decades, is now being claimed as the first autonomous operating system in the world. Ellison compared this with IBM and Red Hat’s offering, noting that in 15 years not one single Red Hat incompatibility bug has been filed with Oracle’s Linux offering. The press materials described this as ‘a major milestone in the company’s autonomous strategy’.

Some aspects of the keynote went against the grain. Ellison gave an update on Oracle’s cloudy partnership with Microsoft, saying the latter had ‘a lot of good technology.’ The collaboration, first announced in June as one of the more surprising stories of the year, found the two companies coming together to connect Azure and Oracle Cloud data centres seamlessly. As this publication noted at the time, two of the three customers mentioned were Albertsons and Gap Inc – with retailers being a cause where Microsoft and Oracle can team up against a common enemy.

Another for the eyebrow-raising category was the launch of Oracle Cloud Free Tier, where organisations of any size, developers, and students can ‘build, learn and explore the full functionality of Oracle Autonomous Database and Oracle cloud infrastructure’, as the company put it. Ellison frequently noted that there was little to learn in Oracle’s autonomous database as, well, it does everything itself, but the ‘always free’ element is intriguing.

In total, users can utilise two Oracle autonomous databases of their choice, with 1 OCPU and 20 GB of storage capacity, two block storage volumes at 100 GB total, and 10 GB of object and archive storage, and two virtual machines with 1/8 OPCU and 1GB of memory each, alongside a smattering of extras.

Oracle also promised to launch 20 new cloud regions by the end of 2020, making a total of 36. The press materials indicated that at least part of this number will be driven by the Microsoft interconnect project, which is also being expanded, with a grand total of 14 countries cited as expansion zones. These are, in alphabetical order, Australia, Brazil, Chile, India, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, UK and US.

https://www.cybersecuritycloudexpo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/cyber-security-world-series-1.pngInterested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.