All posts by Scott Bicheno

BCN cloud coverage moves to

Erfolg Richtung PfeilAs the cloud and telecoms sectors move ever closer together, thanks to the growing influence of virtualisation in managing networks and the emergence of IoT, the decision has been made to consolidate the coverage of both under one brand –

It is already clear that the telecoms business for the foreseeable future will be dominated by three major themes: 5G, IoT and cloud. The eventual 5G standard will lean heavily on the cloud via technologies such as NFV and SDN, while IoT will be entirely dependent on the cloud to assimilate the massive amounts of data generated by billions of IoT devices and then turn it into useful actions.

Business Cloud News has been excellently led by first Jonathan Brandon and more recently Jamie Davies. Jamie is continuing his great work on as Deputy Editor and cloud specialist. On top of that we will be working closely with our sister title Light Reading, which has also established cloud and virtualisation as a cornerstone  of its coverage.

We would like to thank BCN’s thousands of readers for their loyalty and support over the past few years and hope you continue to enjoy the cloud coverage on BCN newsletter subscribers will be transferred to the mailing list but you are, of course, free to unsubscribe at any time, much as we hope you don’t.

The whole ICT sector is on the cusp of a uniquely exciting era and we aim to ensure will remain your one-stop-shop for all the latest developments.

VMware’s new launches target hybrid cloud and software defined data centres

VMWare campus logoVirtualisation giant VMware has announced two new updates which promise to strengthen its management of the hybrid cloud and of hyperconverged software.

The new version of VMware vRealize Suite is purpose-built for the Hybrid Cloud claims the vendor. Meanwhile, in another release, the new Virtual SAN 6.2 could cater for all-flash hyper-converged systems to turbo-drive cloud computing, creating new options for data deduplication, data compression and erasure coding for as little as one dollar per usable gigabyte.

The new VMware vRealize Business for Cloud 7 promises to address intelligent operations, infrastructure modernisation and DevOps challenges. VMWare claims the vRealize Suite manages all the computing, storage, network and application services across hybrid cloud environments. The DevOps-ready IT, for example, lets IT teams build a cloud for development teams that has a complete application stack and can support developer choice in the form of both API and GUI access to resources. The possibilities are widened by continuous delivery of Code Stream, a feature which speeds up application delivery.

Meanwhile, in the engine room of the cloud, VMware vRealize Operations 6.2 creates the capacity for intelligent workload placement and tight integration with VMware’s vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler.

Meanwhile, it has carried out new engineering improvements on the high performance infrastructure for the software-defined data centre (SDDC). The key to this improvement is the VMware Virtual SAN technology which has been sold to 3,000 enterprise data centre customers in the 21 months since its initial release.

The new hyper-converged software created by a blend of VMware vSphere, Virtual SAN and vCenter Server converts Intel based x86 servers and direct-attached storage into unified, simple and ‘robust’ units of high performance computing infrastructure, VMWare claims. This slashes the hard and software costs and the management complexity while boosting performance, VMWare claims.

“VMware’s hyper-converged software is gaining customer traction due to its simple, cost-effective and high-performance architecture,” said Yanbing Li, general manager of Storage and Availability Business Unit at VMware. Virtual SAN 6.2 delivers up to ten times the efficiency, he claimed.

Cloud market growing 28% a year and worth $110 billion says study

Money cloudCloud services boomed in 2015 as the barriers to adoption toppled and confidence surged, says a new study. Operators and vendors in the six major cloud services and infrastructure market groups earned $110 billion in the four quarters ending in September 2015, according to new data from Synergy Research Group. This represents an annual growth rate of 28% on average.

The fastest growing sectors, Public Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platforms as a service (PaaS) grew at almost double the average rate, however, with a 51% increase in revenues in the 12 month period. Perhaps surprisingly, the public cloud is still growing at a faster rate than the hybrid cloud, which many pundits have tipped to be the immediate future for enterprise computing as companies hedge their bets between on and off-premise computing models.

The private and hybrid cloud infrastructure service markets grew by 45%. However, spending on infrastructure hardware and software is still higher than spending on cloud services, but the gap is narrowing rapidly. The top six companies in the hybrid cloud sector were identified as Cisco, HP Enterprise (HPE), AWS, Microsoft, IBM and Salesforce.

Even the lowest performing cloud sectors grew by 16%, Synergy reported.

The latest yearly figures, measured in the period from Q4 2014 to Q3 2015, showed that the total spend on infrastructure hardware and software to build cloud services exceeded $60 billion. Of that $60 billion, at least $30 billion was apportioned to private cloud projects. However, spending on public cloud projects, while in the minority, is growing much more rapidly.

The investments in infrastructure by the cloud service providers brought a return, the analyst says, as the figures show it helped them to generate $20 billion in revenues from cloud infrastructure services (IaaS, PaaS, private & hybrid services) and a further $27 billion from SaaS. There was also a return from additional income sources arising out of supporting internet services such as search, social networking, email and e-commerce. A new sector is emerging, as unified communications as a service (UCaaS) began to show healthy growth and, according to Synergy, is showing signs of driving some radical changes in business communications.

Last year the cloud became mainstream and moved beyond the early adopter phase as barriers to adoption fell, according to Synergy Research Group’s Chief Analyst Jeremy Duke. “Cloud technologies are now generating massive revenues and high growth rates that will continue long into the future,” said Synergy Research Group Chief Analyst John Dinsdale.

Dells finds $67 billion to acquire EMC and create cloud giant

Dell office logoAs extensively leaked PC and server outfit Dell today announced it will be acquiring storage giant EMC for $67 billion to create a leading player in the datacentre and cloud industries.

Dell is privately held by founder Michael Dell and VCs MSD Partners and Silver Lake. The combined company will remain private, while VMWare, which is majority owned by EMC will remain separate and publicly traded. This deal is the biggest tech M&A deal of all time and the resulting company will be one of the world’s largest privately held ones. Dell only cost $25 billion to take private, so it’s asking for a big contribution from its equity partners.

As with any massive M&A scale and efficiencies will be major strategic benefits, but the two companies were also keen to stress how much they complement each other, with Dell strongest in the SMB and public sector markets while EMC’s strongest area is blue-chip corporates. In terms of product portfolio the narrative inevitably refers frequently to end-to-end solutions and that sort of thing.

“The combination of Dell and EMC creates an enterprise solutions powerhouse bringing our customers industry leading innovation across their entire technology environment,” said Michael Dell. “Our new company will be exceptionally well-positioned for growth in the most strategic areas of next generation IT including digital transformation, software-defined data center, converged infrastructure, hybrid cloud, mobile and security.

“Our investments in R&D and innovation along with our privately-controlled structure will give us unmatched scale, strength and flexibility, deepening our relationships with customers of all sizes. I am incredibly excited to partner with the EMC, VMware, Pivotal, VCE, RSA and Virtustream teams and am personally committed to the success of our new company, our customers and partners.”
“I’m tremendously proud of everything we’ve built at EMC – from humble beginnings as a Boston-based startup to a global, world-class technology company with an unyielding dedication to our customers,” said Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC. “But the waves of change we now see in our industry are unprecedented and, to navigate this change, we must create a new company for a new era. I truly believe that the combination of EMC and Dell will prove to be a winning combination for our customers, employees, partners and shareholders.”
It’s not difficult to spot the customary synergies in this deal. When Dell went private it was primarily to allow a complete strategic overhaul away from the voracious quarterly demands of Wall Street. Fundamentally it wanted to move out of the highly commoditised PC market on which it was founded in the 80s, and into core enterprise IT sectors such as servers.

EMC has been in the enterprise data storage game for even longer, is been threatened by pure play cloud providers and needs to move with the times. Just as with Dell, EMC seems to be betting that removing the rabid short-termism that comes with being a public company will allow it the space to do that and, assuming MSD and Silver Lake remain patient the new company should be able to innovate and compete well in the cloud, virtualization and IoT worlds.

“We are excited and honoured to invest in the outstanding businesses built by Joe Tucci and his world-class management team,” said Egon Durban, managing partner of Silver Lake. “We believe the strategic integration of EMC and Dell will generate unparalleled depth and breadth across servers, storage, virtualization and the next era of converged infrastructure, creating a global technology platform poised for sustained long term growth and innovation in the years to come. We are doubling down and increasing our investment in this differentiated market leader for the next paradigm of enterprise computing.”

The plan is for Michael Dell to run the whole company and Tucci to move on when the deal is done. A deal this size will take a while to get approval and complete, so nothing concrete will happen for a few months yet. But when it does, the cloud market will hopefully be more competitive than ever.

Amazon continues Internet of Things push with AWS IoT

Intel AWS IoT starter kitThe new AWS platform is designed to allow IoT devices to connect to the AWS cloud as well as a managed cloud service to assist with processing the data.

AWS IoT has been launched in beta, which usually means it’s not quite ready yet, but it needs people to try it out in order to iron out lingering bugs. In essence it appears to be Amazon’s play to put itself in the thick of the IoT land-grab, as the repository of all the data constantly being generated by the billions of sensors expected to comprise the IoT.

In many ways Amazon’s many previous launches and announcements at this year’s AWS re:Invent seems to have been leading up to this, as they’ve all been about making easier to transfer data into the AWS cloud. Specifically Amazon Kenisis Firehose, which is designed to make it easier to upload wireless streaming data to the AWS cloud, seems to have been launched with IoT in mind.

“The promise of the Internet of Things is to make everyday products smarter for consumers, and for businesses to enable better, data-driven offerings that weren’t possible before,” said Marco Argenti, VP of Mobile and IoT at AWS.

“World-leading organizations like Philips, NASA JPL, and Sonos already use AWS services to support the back-end of their IoT applications. Now, AWS IoT enables a whole ecosystem of manufacturers, service providers, and application developers to easily connect their products to the cloud at scale, take action on the data they collect, and create a new class of applications that interact with the physical world.”

Device connections are handled by a device gateway, which provides tools for predetermining responses to data received. AWS IoT also creates a virtual version of each device in the cloud so it can be interacted with even in times of intermittent connectivity. A dedicated SDK aims to make it easier for developers to do clever things with IoT devices and a bunch of semiconductor companies have already got on-board by embedding the SDK into IoT chips, including Broadcom, Intel, Marvell, Mediatek, Microchip, Qualcomm and TI. There are also a bunch of IoT starter kits which can, of course, be bought on Amazon.

“At Philips we aim to empower people to take greater control of their health with digital solutions that support healthy living and improved care coordination,” said Jeroen Tas, CEO Healthcare Informatics, Solutions and Services at Philips. “Our HealthSuite digital platform and its device cloud are already managing more than seven million connected, medical-grade and consumer devices, sensors, and mobile apps.

“With the addition of AWS IoT, we will greatly accelerate the pursuit of our vision. It will be easier to acquire, process, and act upon data from heterogeneous devices in real-time. Our products, and the care they support, are enabled to grow smarter and more personalized over time.”

On top of moves like the Dash Button IoT consumables automated ordering service, this move cements Amazon’s ambition to be a major IoT player, with AWS at the core. If it delivers on the promise of making IoT easier for companies and developers all the other tech giants currently involved in the IoT land grab may need to raise their game.

Amazon Web Services makes aggressive customer acquisition play

Amazon reinvent 2015At its Amazon re:Invent event Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced a number of products and initiatives designed to make it easier for potential customers to move their business to the AWS Cloud.

AWS Snowball is a portable storage appliance designed to be an alternative to trying to upload data over networks, claiming to be able to move 100 TB of data to AWS in less than a week. Amazon is betting that companies are neither willing to prioritise their existing bandwidth, nor devote the time to do this over the network. In addition the company launched Amazon Kinesis Firehose, which is designed to make it easier to upload wireless streaming data to the AWS cloud.

“It has never been easier or more cost-effective for companies to collect, store, analyze, and share data than it is today with the AWS Cloud,” said Bill Vass, VP of AWS Storage Services. “As customers have realized that their data contains key insights that can lead to competitive advantage, they’re looking to get as much data into AWS as quickly as possible. AWS Snowball and Amazon Kinesis Firehose give customers two more important tools to get their data into AWS.”

On top of these new products Amazon announced two new database services – AWS Database Migration Service and Amazon RDS for MariaDB – designed to make it easier for enterprises to bring their production databases to AWS, which seems to take aim at Oracle customers especially.

“With more than a hundred thousand active customers, and six database engines from which to choose, Amazon RDS has become the new normal for running relational databases in the cloud,” said Hal Berenson, VP of Relational Database Services, AWS. “With the AWS Database Migration Service, and its associated Schema Conversion Tool, customers can choose either to move the same database engine from on-premises to AWS, or change from one of the proprietary engines they’re running on-premises to one of the several open source engines available in Amazon RDS.”

Continuing the theme of taking on the big enterprise IT incumbents Amazon launched QuickSight, a cloud business intelligence service that would appear to compete directly with the likes of IBM, while aiming to undercut them with a low-price as-a-service model.

“After several years of development, we’re excited to bring Amazon QuickSight to our customers – a fast and easy-to-use BI service that addresses these needs at an affordable price,” said Raju Gulabani, VP of Database Services at AWS. “At the heart of Amazon QuickSight is the brand new SPICE in-memory calculation engine, which uses the power of the AWS Cloud to make queries run lightning fast on large datasets. We’re looking forward to our customers and partners being able to SPICE up their analytics.”

Lastly Amazon announced a new business group in partnership with Accenture that is also designed to make it easier for companies to move their business to the cloud. The Accenture AWS Business Group is a joint effort between the two and is another example of Accenture putting the cloud at the centre of its strategy.

“Accenture is already a market leader in cloud and the formation of the Accenture AWS Business Group is a key part of our Accenture Cloud First agenda,” said Omar Abbosh, Chief Strategy Officer of Accenture. “Cloud is increasingly becoming a starting point with our clients for their enterprise solutions. Whether our clients need to innovate faster, create new services, or maximize value from their investments, the Accenture AWS Business Group will help them get there faster, with lower risk and with solutions optimized for AWS.”

IBM augments Watson with new cognitive business consulting arm

WatsonEnterprise tech giant IBM has announced the creation of IBM Cognitive Business Solutions, a consulting practice designed to help businesses get into the cognitive computing game.

IBM continues to invest heavily in its Watson cognitive computing operation, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to better deal with unstructured data. This consulting business will have access to over 2,000 consultants across a wide range of industries.

“Our work with clients across many industries shows that cognitive computing is the path to the next great set of possibilities for business,” said Bridget van Kralingen, SVP of IBM Global Business Services.

“Clients know they are collecting and analyzing more data than ever before, but 80 percent of all the available data — images, voice, literature, chemical formulas, social expressions — remains out of reach for traditional computing systems. We’re scaling expertise to close that gap and help our clients become cognitive banks, retailers, automakers, insurers or healthcare providers.”

“Before long, we will look back and wonder how we made important decisions or discovered new opportunities without systematically learning from all available data,” said Stephen Pratt, global leader, IBM Cognitive Business Solutions. “Over the next decade, this transformation will be very personal for professionals as we embrace learning algorithms to enhance our capacity. For clients, cognitive systems will provide organizations that adopt these powerful tools outperform their peers.”

Speaking at a Gartner symposium IBM CEO indicated the cognitive business is a cornerstone of IBM’s overall strategy. IBM says it has already invested over a billion dollars on Watson and intends to train another 25,000 IBM consultants and practitioners on cognitive computing before the end of this year.

Cloud industry shaken by European Safe Harbour ruling

Europe US court of justiceThe Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled the Safe Harbour agreement between Europe and the US, which provides blanket permission for data transfer between the two, is invalid.

Companies looking to move data from Europe to the US will now need to negotiate specific rules of engagement with each country, which is likely to have a significant impact on all businesses, but especially those heavily reliant on the cloud.

The ruling came about after Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems asked to find out what data Facebook was passing on to US intelligence agencies in the wake of the Snowden revelations. When his request was declined on the grounds that the safe harbour agreement guaranteed his protection he contested the decision and it was referred to the Court of Justice.

This decision had been anticipated, and on top of any legal contingencies already made large players such as Facebook, Google and Amazon are offered some protection by the fact that they have datacentres within Europe. However the legal and logistical strain will be felt by all, especially smaller companies that rely on US-based cloud players.

“The ability to transfer data easily and securely between Europe and the US is critical for businesses in our modern data-driven digital economy,” said Matthew Fell, CBI Director for Competitive Markets. “Businesses will want to see clarity on the immediate implications of the ECJ’s decision, together with fast action from the Commission to agree a new framework. Getting this right will be important to the future of Europe’s digital agenda, as well as doing business with our largest trading partner.”

“The ruling invalidating Safe Harbour is seismic,” said Andy Hardy, EMEA MD at Code42, which recently secured $85 million in Series B funding. “This decision will affect big businesses as well as small ones. But it need not be the end of business as we know it, in terms of data handling. What businesses need to do now is safeguard data. They need to find solutions that keep their, and their customer’s, data private – even when backed up into public cloud.”

“Symantec respects the decision of the EU Court of Justice,” said Ilias Chantzos, Senior Director of Government Affairs EMEA at Symantec. “However, we encourage further discussion in order to create a strengthened agreement with the safeguards expected by the EU Court of Justice. We believe that the recent ruling will create considerable disruption and uncertainty for those companies that have relied solely on Safe Harbour as a means of transferring data to the United States.”

“The issues are highly complex, and there are real tensions between the need for international trade, and ensuring European citizen data is treated safely and in accordance with data protection law,” said Nicky Stewart, commercial director of Skyscape Cloud Services. “We would urge potential cloud consumers not to use this ruling as a reason not to adopt cloud. There are very many European cloud providers which operate solely within the bounds of the European Union, or even within a single jurisdiction within Europe, therefore the complex challenges of the Safe Harbor agreement simply don’t apply.”

These were just some of the views offered to BCN as soon as the ruling was announced and the public hand-wringing is likely to continue for some time. From a business cloud perspective one man’s problem is another’s opportunity and companies will be queuing up to offer localised cloud services, encryption solutions, etc. In announcing a couple of new European datacentres today Netsuite was already making reference to the ruling. This seems like a positive step for privacy but only time will tell what it means for the cloud industry.

Oracle launches Communications Analytics portfolio

OracleEnterprise software giant Oracle has unveiled a new product portfolio called Oracle Communications Analytics, a business intelligence suite aimed at communications providers.

The portfolio is a combination pre-existing products and four new ones: Oracle Communications Customer Experience Analytics, Oracle Communications Network Assurance Analytics, Oracle Communications Analytics Big Data Platform, and Oracle Communications Analytics Diameter Adapter.

The Customer Experience Analytics application is designed to offer customer care people a bunch of useful analytical information in one place. The Network Assurance Analytics app offers insights into Diameter network performance, while the Analytics Big Data Platform pretty much does what it says on the tin and the Big Data Adapters are tools designed to feed in that big data.

“CSPs have an advantage – they have a lot of data about how their network operates and the kinds of experiences that customers are having,” said Doug Suriano, GM of Oracle Communications. “But without the right big data and analytics tools, the data will remain unused and siloed in various systems. Our expanded Oracle Communications Analytics portfolio is designed with this challenge in mind, offering the broader Oracle expertise in big data as well as the industry-specific understanding of the communications market.”

“As the telecommunications industry accelerates its rate of change, it’s critical that CSPs leverage and monetize their network, service, and customer information,” said Clare McCarthy, practice leader, Telecom Operations and IT, Ovum. “To do so, they must first design analytics solutions that address their business problems in real time—and integrate them with existing data warehouse and analytics solutions. The latest releases of Oracle Communications Analytics products respond to this need and can provide value to CSPs looking to advance their big data and analytics efforts.”

Nokia keen to promote its telco cloud portfolio

Nokia cloud service chainFinnish kit vendor Nokia is continuing to promote its nascent cloud offerings for telcos, three months after the launch of its AirFrame datacentre family of products, reports

AirFrame itself is now available as a containerised solution with a built in power and cooling system and Nokia has also added a software-defined storage module. It is supported by a cloud Care Services package, which is comprised of a service management module for resolving VNF faults, as well as a support package specifically for VMWare deployments.

As well as AirFrame Nokia is promoting its OSS Office for Telco Cloud offering, which seems to be more of a strategic consultation service than a physical product. All of this is stitched together by something Nokia is calling Service Chaining, which is a virtualized environment for the delivery of network services.

“Wherever operators are on their cloud transformation journey, Nokia has the solutions and expertise, all the way from strategy to migration to maintenance,” said Deepak Harie, VP of Systems Integration at Nokia Networks. “Our extensive and open cloud portfolio helps operators in making important decisions towards the most efficient processes, services and solutions across all cloud domains. With Nokia Telco Cloud, operators will be able to achieve maximum benefits from telco and IT convergence.”

Essentially Nokia is trying hard to strengthen its credentials as both a cloud player and a full managed service provider for that sector, something its main competitors have already established. You can expand Nokia’s service chain cloud diagram below.