Category Archives: News & Analysis

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.

AI is getting there but still confusing…

Robotic hand, accessing on laptop, the virtual world of information. Concept of artificial intelligence and replacement of humans by machines.Research from Narrative Science claims confusion over the definition of artificial intelligence is holding it back, although 62% of enterprise respondents believe it will be place by 2018, reports

Although this is an encouraging statistic, the report also highlights there is confusion over the definition of the technology itself. 62% of those who contributed to the survey said they were not using AI currently, however later in the survey 88% of the same people were then found to be products or solutions which are under pinned by AI technology. 20% of the respondents highlighted AI wouldn’t be implemented in their organization until there was more clarity on what the technology is, where it fits into the IT function and what the benefits are.

These statistics more than anything else highlight confusion, and ignorance to the artificial intelligence technology which is already present in their day-to-day lives. AI isn’t new, in science fiction movies or in real life. From Siri on Apple devices to Amazon’s recommended purchases or Facebook’s content recommendations, AI has been drip feed into the real-world of technology with few people realizing its impact. The functions mentioned are AI at one of its simplest versions, though IBM has been making progress with its Watson offering moving into more complex arenas, such as medical diagnosis, building management and weather modelling systems.

But what is the real potential of artificial intelligence? According to the report, predictive analytics is the most prominent use-case. 38% of the respondents believe prediction on activity relating to machines, customers or business health is the most relevant use-case. This is one of the more obvious use-cases as there is a direct link to the bottom line, recouping the investment made in the technologies. Whether this is repairs on leased equipment, understanding which customers are most likely to churn or understanding external factors which may impact the supply/demand dynamic, these are all use-cases which impact the bottom line.

These use-cases can also be linked back to the growth of big data and the desire to become more competitive by being more intelligent. The more information a company has access to, the more well-informed decisions become and the risk undertaken is reduced. Dependent on who you speak to the industry is either very good or very bad at using data. The number is almost certainly in the middle, as there is only so many man hours which can be contributed towards the analysis of this data, and data scientists are in-demand.

With the introduction of IoT, increased efficiency in collection and more effective real-time solutions, the tidal wave of information available to an organization will continue to grow. For the investment in data collection, storage and management to be realized, an artificially intelligent solution to comprehend the information and turn it into insight is an alternative, as a human could not stay awake long enough to do the same level of work. To ensure ROI and avoid drowning in the swell of information, artificial intelligence could be critical.

Another area which received attention during the report was automation. This would appear to be low on the agenda currently, though 25% of the respondents felt this was the most important use-case moving forward. One of the myths which have been swirling around artificial intelligence since the release of Terminator is the idea AI will eventually remove the requirement for humans. It’s all very doom and gloom, however AI offers companies the opportunity to take the more mundane, simplistic and repetitive tasks away from employees, to ensure they can focus more time on what would be considered more valuable and critical to the success of the business.

While there still needs to be a focus around what artificial intelligence actually is and what can be achieved through the implementation of such next gen technologies, progress is beginning to be seen. Should cloud computing and 5G be the driving forces towards IoT, to ensure the time and investment is not a waste, assistance from AI driven solutions would appear to be crucial. An AI solution will not (or at least in the near future) make business critical decisions, though the promise of big data is to provide a suitable level of information to ensure businesses are making informed decisions. AI could be the link between information and insight.

Europe looks to set new rules for OTT in September

EuropeThe European Commission is set to release new rules in September, which will aim to tighten up how OTT’s such as WhatsApp and Skype are regulated in the European markets, according to the Financial Times.

How Over-the-top players are regulated has been a point of contention within the European markets in recent years, as it does fall into a grey area currently. Although telcos are under guidance from the European Commission regarding SMS and traditional voice calling, these rules do not directly address the services offered by the OTT’s, such as Facebook’s WhatsApp, which has been stealing business off the telcos. According to the FT, this grey area will be addressed in September, when the commission will release new rules focusing on how OTT’s comply with security requests from the state, and also how customer data can be monetized.

According to the reports, the commission will make an initial announcement in September, before providing more clarity in a separate review of the EU’s “ePrivacy” law later in the year. This is one of a number of moves across the industry to redefine regulation in light of how quickly technology has advanced over the last few years. French authorities for example, will decide in September whether Google, Viber and Skype should be registered as a telecoms provider, a move which has the potential for widespread ripples.

The reports will come as good news to various players in the telco industry, who have not been happy with the light-touch regulation which is in place for the OTT’s. Back in 2014, Spanish giant Telefónica complained there wasn’t a level playing field, as the OTT’s do not have to comply with the EU’s regulation on issues such as user rights, antitrust, security, net neutrality or Significant Market Power (SMP) obligations. The complaint, which is largely a fair one, was built on the idea that if OTT’s offer similar, or almost identical, services, they should be held accountable to the same rules.

These complaints were furthered last year, as a group of European operators, including Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and KPN, wrote to the President of the European Commission urging changes to the regulatory landscape to enable the telcos to better compete with the new waves of OTT’s. While the telcos have been held accountable to strict regulation in recent years to ensure competition and a fair deal to the consumer, the growth in popularity for OTT’s has proved to be a tough time for the industry.

Only recently Ofcom released its Communications Market Report 2016 which added weight to the claims OTT’s are becoming increasingly popular across various demographics. The report claims the number of people who are now using instant messaging services such as WhatsApp is up from 28% to 43% in the UK. This surge in popularity has seemingly come at the expense of more traditional means of communication, such as SMS and email, which demonstrated a decline of eight and seven percentage points respectively. These stats highlight the growth of the OTT’s is likely to continue, as well as the plight of the operators.

While it has not been confirmed whether the regulations will be changed in the near future, a problem which could be faced by the European Commission may focus around investments in network infrastructure. Over recent months there have been a number of mergers which have been rejected by the European Commission, most notably O2 and Three in the UK, with the reasoning relating to competition.

Should the level of competition drop in any markets, the need for telcos to continue investment in their own infrastructures to remain competitive would also drop. This is a concern of the European Commission, though the growth of OTT’s could inadvertently have the same impact. OTT’s are certainly providing cheaper services to the consumer, though the result is a decrease in revenues for the telcos which could impact the investments which are made elsewhere within an operators business.

The report from the FT remains officially unconfirmed for the moment, though it should not be seen as a surprise should it be true. The issue over OTT regulation has been bubbling away for some time, and considering the telecommunications industry is one of the heavier hitters in terms of lobbying, pressure would have likely been exerting on the commission for some time.

Although the European Commission would not confirm the rumours, it did offer us a statement:

“The Commission is indeed working on an update of EU telecoms rules under its Digital Single Market strategy. The upcoming reform of the EU telecoms framework should incentivise and leverage more private investment in next generation networks, provide regulatory predictability and the right conditions for all operators to invest,” said Nathalie Vandystadt, Spokesperson for the Digital Single Market at the European Commission.

“The Commission has been looking into the growing importance of online players that provide similar or equivalent services to traditional communication services. The Commission is looking into to what extent people can consider OTT services like WhatsApp and Skype to be functional substitutes for services provided by traditional telecoms operators, and is considering whether scope of the current EU rules needs to be adapted, to ensure adequate levels of consumer protection and ensure that regulation does not distort competition. This does not necessarily mean treating all communications services the same for all purposes. We will present our reform of the EU telecoms framework in September.”

Intel digs deep into wallet to buy its way into AI game

AI-Artificial-Intelligence-Machine-Learning-Cognitive-ComputingVirtual reality may well have been capturing the imagination of the industry in recent months, but Intel’s $400 million of AI start-up Nervana highlights it’s not all fun and games, reports

Having set its position as a leader in the data centre market and then largely missed out on the smartphone revolution, it would appear Intel is determined not to miss out on the burgeoning IoT segment, with the Nervana purchase added more firepower to the company’s efforts. The acquisition also highlights the importance of artificial intelligence to the development of the technology industry.

“Intel is a company that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices,” said Diane Bryant, GM of the Data Center Group at Intel. “Thanks to the pervasive reach of cloud computing, the ever decreasing cost of compute enabled by Moore’s Law, and the increasing availability of connectivity, these connected devices are generating millions of terabytes of data every single day. The ability to analyse and derive value from that data is one of the most exciting opportunities for us all. Central to that opportunity is artificial intelligence.”

The IoT revolution is coming whether we like it or not, and with it will come such vast amounts of data. Due to the volume, it will beyond comprehension for humans to develop insight from the information. Current data analytics tools and processes could be described (at best) as adequate, though this is before the surge in connected devices. Statista estimates the number of connected devices will grow from 18.2 billion in 2015, through to 50.2 billion in 2020. The devices themselves will also improve, increasing the amount of information which can be collected individually, which will lead to a tidal wave of data to be analysed.

If it is assumed to be immensely difficult or more likely impossible to analyse this data and turn it into actionable insight, what is the point in collecting it in the first place. This is the justification of artificial intelligence. Using such technologies to undertake more rudimentary decision making capabilities brought about through data analysis, or presenting insight to the more complex decisions to business leaders, is where the value of artificial intelligence will be felt. If cloud computing enables the IoT revolution, artificial intelligence will make sure it’s not a waste of time or money.

For a notable proportion of the population, AI is likened to Terminator or other such doomsday stories. But as Bryant notes below, the applications of AI will stretch throughout the life of a consumer, but perhaps more importantly, the business, manufacturing and services world.

“While artificial intelligence is often equated with great science fiction, it isn’t relegated to novels and movies,” said Bryant. “AI is all around us, from the commonplace (talk-to-text, photo tagging, and fraud detection) to the cutting edge (precision medicine, injury prediction, autonomous cars). Encompassing compute methods like advanced data analytics, computer vision, natural language processing and machine learning, artificial intelligence is transforming the way businesses operate and how people engage with the world.”

The acquisition does answer a question raised by a couple of weeks ago. During early July, Intel announced a new initiative with BMW and Mobileye to drive forward the development of autonomous vehicles. The initiative showed potential, though should BMW are to supply the cars, Intel the chips and Mobileye the detection capabilities, have the body, the muscles and the eyes, but not the brain/AI to bring it all together. This Nervana acquisition in theory completes the circle and provides the intelligence aspect of the car.

Artificial intelligence has the potential to shape the technology industry moving forward, and it would appear this is a view which is shared by the major players. Google has acquired nine AI firms, including Deepmind for $625 million, Twitter has four major acquisitions, most recently Magic Pony for $150 million, Salesforce has acquired two AI start-ups already this year and Apple reported bought Turi for $200 million. The money being spent to gain the upper hand in this sub-sector is beginning to rival the early days of cloud computing.

CMA ruling requires open API for banks to bring finances into single app

Mobile bankingThe Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has released the final report from its retail banking market investigation enforcing widespread technological upgrades in some of the industry’s more traditional institutions, report

The five person investigation committee, which was initially launched in November 2014, were required to decide whether features of the retail banking industry distorted competition within the UK. After two years, the report stated traditional retail banks were not doing enough to ensure the consumer is receiving the best possible deal, and has now set out a number of new rules including the introduction of an open API to enable customer’s access to all their finances, irrelevant of organization, on a single app.

“The reforms we have announced today will shake up retail banking for years to come, and ensure that both personal customers and small businesses get a better deal from their banks,” said Alasdair Smith, Chair of the retail banking investigation. “Our central reform is the Open Banking programme to harness the technological changes which we have seen transform other markets. We want customers to be able to access new and innovative apps which will tailor services, information and advice to their individual needs.”

The development and adoption of an open API standard will have to be in place in all retail banks by Q1 2018, and will enable customers to see their finances, whether they be current accounts, savings accounts or mortgages, in a single app. By providing a single place for all accounts, the CMA hopes this will benefit consumers in a number of ways including avoiding fees incurred by unauthorized overdrafts, which currently adds £1.2 billion a year to the pockets of the retail banks.

Other rules from the CMA include enforcing banks to make all products available to customers through mobile applications, including loans, investments and mortgages. Despite the promise of banking apps, the report has concluded the technology in the more established retail banks is lagging behind other industries. Technology has proved to be a leveller in other sectors, AirBnB is a prime example of technology encouraging the growth of a SME, though this would not appear to be the case in the retail banking sector.

“Mobile financial services have long been approached as a luxury to the banked population in Britain, with banks offering limited services only through their respective applications,” said Maya Barkay, Product Marketing Manager for Mobile Financial Services at Amdocs. “In fact, the true potential of mobile financial services as a whole is being best explored in developing countries, such as Kenya and the Philippines, where these services are providing both basic and advanced financial services to a previously unbanked population.

“Regulation has time and time again been proven an essential enabler to mobile financial services, and this new ruling from the CMA is ensuring that British citizens will finally have the opportunity to harness mobile financial banking in a more useful and user-friendly way.”

The rules set in place are set to encourage more competition in the retail banking market, as larger organizations do not currently have to work hard enough to acquire or retain customers. Moving banks, irrelevant of the money which can be saved is too difficult, thus making growth for challenger banks more difficult and not encouraging competition in the industry.

Despite the efforts of the CMA to increase competition in the industry and provide more of a level playing field for smaller banks, some in the industry do not believe the report has gone far enough.

“As expected, the CMA’s report has fallen short and failed to deliver solutions to a number of the key issues it identified, in particular those facing SMEs seeking larger loans,” said Rishi Khosla, CEO of OakNorth Bank. “The CMA has explicitly stated in its report that a combination of factors make it difficult for new entrants and smaller banks such as OakNorth to effectively compete. Yet despite this, the solutions it’s provided for SME lending are limited to unsecured loans of up to £25,000, so won’t address the issues facing SMEs that need secured or larger loans.

“The fact that the CMA is simply going to pass the buck to the Treasury who won’t look to launch their own investigation until two years from now is extremely disappointing. There are millions of SMEs that are struggling to secure growth capital who may now need to wait up to four years for the situation to improve.”

While the CMA’s ruling does have the best interest of the consumer in mind, aiming to create a more transparent and competitive banking environment, the reception will not be truly known until the Open Banking app is released. During a time where security is top of the agenda and headlines detailing data breaches are not uncommon, it is not clear how many customers would agree to have all their financial information in one place.

Google backs multi-cloud strategy with Orbitera purchase

Googlers having funGoogle has confirmed the acquisition of cloud commerce platform Orbitera, marking an alternative strategy to its main cloud rivals AWS and Microsoft, reports

The Orbitera platform acts as a marketplace for cloud solutions which simplifies the way in which customers search and purchase products. The platform currently supports deploying applications on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, but not currently Google Cloud Platform, though the company said it would continue to support software deployments on platforms other than its own.

As the practise of cloud computing has become normalized throughout the industry, multi-cloud strategies have become more common as enterprise organizations aim to spread workloads to reduce risk. It would appear Google are using the move to multi-cloud environments to further establish its platform and build credibility in the industry. Although Google is generally ranked in the top three cloud providers worldwide, the gap between Microsoft and AWS, and Google in third place has been widening slightly in recent quarters.

Microsoft and AWS do also support multi-cloud propositions, though the majority of the marketing messages are focused on standardizing on a single platform. It would seem Google are moving to a position which would be more aligned with customer trends in the cloud ecosystem.

“At Google, we partner closely with our enterprise customers and software providers to ensure their transition to the cloud is as simple and seamless as possible,” said Nan Boden, Head of Global Technology Partners, on the company’s blog. “We recognize that both enterprise customers and ISVs want to be able to use more than one cloud provider and have a way to conduct product trials and proofs of concept before building a full production deployment, all using their trusted SIs (System Integrators), resellers and normal sales cycles.”

The deal ties in well with another acquisition which the internet giant made in recent months. Back in November the company acquired enterprise development platform start-up bebop, which some industry commentators believed was a move to lure former VMware CEO Diane Greene to head a new business-oriented cloud service. The bebop business created a set of tools which simplified the process for enterprise organizations to build cloud apps. Combining Orbitera with Bebop could potentially form the central theme of a new marketing message for Google; simplifying the cloud.

Google are still playing catch-up with cloud rivals AWS and Microsoft, though it does have lofty ambitions. Last year, Urs Hölzle, SVP for Technical Infrastructure, stated he believes the cloud business has the potential to exceed advertising revenues for the internet giant, which stood at $19 billion for the last quarter. Although the company has been growing in the cloud space, its competitors are expanding at a faster pace. Taking Microsoft and AWS on at their own game does not appear to be working, though a new strategy have the potential to act as a differentiator, as it does match customer trends moving towards multi-cloud strategies.

Apple gives Siri an AI facelift

Apple 1Apple has continued its journey into the world of artificial intelligence through the $200 million acquisition of machine learning start-up Turi, according to Geekwire.

The deal has not been explicitly confirmed by the team at Apple, though it does back up claims from CEO Tim Cook the company is extending its footprint into the growing sub-sector. Although Apple has not been the most prominent in the industry in terms of grabbing headlines, Google and IBM have been particularly vocal, a number of its products are built on the basic principles of artificial intelligence. Siri is a prime example though expanding its potential through the implementation of more advanced technologies offers the potential to improve the user experience.

Turi offers tools which enable developers to embed machine learning into applications, which automatically scale and tune. Use cases for the technology include product recommendations, sentiment analysis, churn prediction and lead scoring for trial customers.

The long-term plan for the business is not clear for the moment. Whether the tools will be made available for the Apple developer community, or remain in-house for the tech giant, or even if the company will remain in Seattle, are unknown as the acquisition still remains officially unconfirmed.

“These experiences become more powerful and intuitive as we continue our long history of enriching our products through advanced artificial intelligence,” said Cook on the company’s earnings call last month. “We have focused our AI efforts on the features that best enhance the customer experience.”

During the briefing, Cook highlighted the potential for Siri to not only understand words from the user, but also identify the sentiment. The acquisition of Turi could be a link between a relatively simplistic function currently, to one which can more effectively predict what the consumer wants and better refine search results.

“We’re also using machine learning in many other ways across our products and services, including recommending songs, apps, and news,” said Cook. “Machine learning is improving facial and image recognition in photos, predicting word choice while typing in messages and mail, and providing context awareness in maps for better directions.

“Deep learning within our products even enables them to recognize usage patterns and improve their own battery life. And most importantly, we deliver these intelligent services while protecting users’ privacy. Most of the AI processing takes place on the device rather than being sent to the cloud.”

Although less vocal than other industry players Apple has been expanding its capabilities through various acquisitions. Since the turn of 2015 the company has acquired 15 organizations, not including Turi for the moment, which does contain a number of machine learning competences. VocalIQ, a UK speech tech firm, and Perceptio, an image recognition company, were both bought in September last year, as well as facial recognition business Emotient in January.

The sluggish smartphone market has been causing challenges for manufacturers, driving the need to provide more differentiation. Hardware has provided little opportunity for brands to differentiate products and operating systems offer even less variance, meaning manufacturers have had to invest more in software solutions. Siri is already one of the more recognizable personal assistant features on the market, and the inclusion of an in-phone AI offering could bring about much needed differentiation.

Media and comms growth fueled by telcos

Money Tree, Currency, Growth.Telcos have accounted for roughly 50% of growth in the media and communications industry, which stood at a £0.4 billion increase to £56 billion, a rise of 0.9%, reports

According to Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2016, the telco industry grew by £200 million over the course of 2015, which has been attributed to the growth of 4G and bundled packages, amongst other factors. 4G coverage is now available to 97.8% of the UK and 80% of households now have access to superfast broadband. Uptake now stands at 48% of adults and 37% of fixed broadband connections are providing actual speeds of 30Mbit/s. 4G coverage is now almost on par with 2G and 3G services.

Telcos were also bolstered by an increase in bundled services, which saw an increase when comparing Q1 2016 to 2015. The bundled services are generally viewed as the industry’s fight against the trend of being relegated to the likes of a utility. 68% of households reported buying at least two of their communications services together in a bundle in 2016, which demonstrated an increase from 63% in 2015. Dual-play packages of landline and broadband, and triple-play packages of landline, broadband and TV, were the most popular.

The report also highlighted the continual shift in the way the UK consumes popular media, as on-demand services become more popular and more adults shift towards OTT services such as WhatsApp. Live TV could be seen as one of the casualties of the report as viewing fell by 5.5 minutes year on year, while recorded and catch-up viewing within a week of broadcast increased by 1.3 minutes. The number of adults who used Video-on-Demand (VoD) services increased over the course of 2015, and while this growth is slowing in some demographics, paid-for services are increasing becoming more popular.

A more worrying sign for the live broadcasting segment could be seen in the breakdown of the age demographics. Although those in the 65+ bracket are continuing to watch live TV, 83% watch live TV over VoD, in the ‘Adult’ age bracket, this number decreases to 63%. The 16-24 age bracket, which could be seen as the future target market for numerous live TV broadcasters claim they spend 37% of their time watching live TV against VoD. Overall, the number of people who view live TV over the course of the week has declined by three percentage points.

These statistics imply there is a shift in the way the younger generations in the UK consume popular media, posing the challenge to traditional broadcasters, who to date may not have considered VoD services such as Netflix as a direct competitor. This is also backed up by the increase in average data usage from households (fixed-line), which grew by 41% over the 12 month period. While a concern to the live broadcasters, this could be seen as a lifeline for the telco industry which is becoming increasingly reliant on bundled services to counter the challenge of the OTT’s.

When looking at the OTT’s, there once again has been an increase in popularity. The number of people who are using the instant messaging services such as WhatsApp is up from 28% to 43%, and photo/ video messaging (MMS) has risen to more than a fifth of adults in a given week. These services have been at the expense of SMS and email, which has seen a decline year-on-year of eight and seven percentage points respectively.

The shift implies a shift in the means in which consumers interact with the media and communications industry. While the utility concern has been on at the forefront of the industry for some time, the increasing popularity of bundled services and VoD services, could offer compensation. That said, the OTT’s are becoming more prominent not only in the younger generations but also the older, demographics which could be seen as somewhat of a cash-cow for the telcos. The 16-24 year old demographic are more likely to embrace the new offerings, though the trend can be seen to be penetrating the ‘Adult’ demographics also.

With this in mind, Philip Marnick, Ofcom’s Group Director of Spectrum, believes the trends will impact the allocation of spectrum.

“One of Ofcom’s key jobs is to manage the UK’s spectrum to enable existing services to grow and new services to develop and come to the market,” said Marnick in the report. “We often hear about the demands for more spectrum to support the increasing demand for mobile data, which is expected to increase by as much as 31 times by 2020 in Western Europe.

“As most spectrum is occupied, we have to consider moving one service to make way for another; for example, squeezing up TV to make more spectrum (700MHz) available for mobile. As part of this, and given the high levels of use of wireless microphones, we are now enabling these to share with aeronautical services.

“We are already looking at the spectrum needs of 5G, which will provide higher capacity networks that are more responsive and can offer faster speeds. This will open up a new range of frequencies in the millimetric bands – an area of spectrum in which satellites provide TV, radio navigation services, support for emergency services, and broadband for very remote locations, on land, in the air and at sea.”

The role of Ofcom is to ensure all services work effectively without interference, though the picture is becoming increasingly complicated with the faster introduction of new services. Alongside the greater reliance on mobile technologies and data, autonomous cars and the connected home may require exclusive spectrum, adding to the “three dimensional jigsaw”.

AWS, Microsoft, Google and IBM continue cloud market dominance

male and female during the run of the marathon raceNew research from Synergy states while the cloud market is growing at a healthy rate quarter-by-quarter, the four dominate cloud brands are continuing to pull away from the pack, controlled more market share month-by-month, reports

Data from Synergy Research claims the four companies now collectively control more than 50% of worldwide cloud market share (IaaS, PaaS and Hosted Private Cloud), with AWS maintaining its lead at the top of the leader board controlling almost a third of worldwide share. Over the course of the second quarter of 2016, the top four grew revenues by 68%, while the next 20 players, who roughly account for a quarter of the market share, grew 41%. All other vendors in this space grew by a collective 27%.

“In a variety of ways Amazon and the other big three players have distanced themselves from the competition in this market and continue to widen the gap,” said John Dinsdale, Research Director at Synergy Research Group. “What marks them out as different is their global presence, marketing muscle, ability to fund huge investments in hyper scale data centres and, in most cases, a determination to succeed in the market.

“The ranking of the next 20 largest cloud providers features some interesting companies, with Alibaba and Oracle growing particularly strongly, but they are all starting from a long way behind Google, which is itself growing by well over 100% per year and yet remains only a sixth the size of Amazon.”

Although AWS is still the dominant market player, growth is slowing. Google and Microsoft both posted growth figures of more than 100%, though it is far too soon to write AWS’ obituary, as it still controls more than three times the market share of its nearest rival, Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft has been going through a number of transformation projects in recent years, and while the market share for cloud shows it will still be some time before it catches AWS, the team are finding success in other arenas. According to additional research from Synergy, in the data centre infrastructure market, HPE and Cisco may be leading the way for public and private cloud hardware, but Microsoft now accounts for just over 40% of cloud software share, with VMWare its nearest competitor at roughly 20%. The research including share for servers, server OS, storage, networking, network security and virtualization software.

“With spend on cloud services growing by over 50% per year and spend on SaaS growing by over 30%, there is little surprise that cloud operator capex continues to drive strong growth in public cloud infrastructure,” said Jeremy Duke, Synergy Research Chief Analyst. “But on the enterprise data centre side too we continue to see a big swing towards spend on private cloud infrastructure as companies seek to benefit from more flexible and agile IT technology. The transition to cloud still has a long way to go.”

Microsoft Azure to deliver 2016 Olympics

athletics trackMicrosoft has announced it has partnered with broadcaster NBC for its Azure cloud platform to help deliver cross-platform multi-streaming coverage of the 2016 Olympic Games, reports

The Azure cloud platform will help NBC deliver more than 4,500 hours of coverage from the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games throughout August. According to Microsoft, it will be providing cloud encoding and hosting with video workflows for the NBC Olympics’ production of the Games, and will assist with live and on-demand multiplatform streaming coverage.

The NBC app will host all of the content and will be available on most devices and platforms including Android, iOS, the US’s biggest selling smart TV set top box Roku, Amazon Fire TV, any device running Windows 10, including Xbox, as well as PC and Mac.

“We always strive to deliver more content in real time to more channels and devices around the world,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise Group at Microsoft. “During the Sochi Olympic Games, NBC Olympics had more than 1 million concurrent live viewers watching a collective average of 600,000 hours of coverage per day. We are planning for even greater viewing numbers for Rio, and are excited to power the experience again using Microsoft Azure.”

“The Rio Olympics have nearly three times as many events per day as the Sochi Games,” said Rick Cordella, senior vice president and general manager, Digital Media, NBC Sports Group. “With the Azure cloud platform, Microsoft is partnering with us to deliver the secure, scalable cloud we depend on to bring the Games to millions of viewers on whichever device they prefer, via end-to-end live streaming entirely in the cloud.”

This agreement is in addition to NBC’s plans on delivering more than 80 hours of content through virtual reality headsets, after it signed an agreement with Samsung last month to bring the next-generation viewing experience to mobile users with the Galaxy Gear VR and compatible accompanying handset.