Category Archives: Content & Applications

IBM Bluemix Local promises developers quick fix on hybrid cloud app building

IBMIBM has launched a new hybrid cloud system that could make application building a lot quicker for enterprises – without compromising security. The system, Bluemix Local, is designed to build apps across public, private and on-premises environments.

Bluemix Local solves the time consuming problem of managing enterprise infrastructure, it says. The process of moving data and apps between disparate cloud environments is forcing managers to make comprises, says IBM, with many companies sacrificing security in order to get finished quicker or missing deadlines in order to cover all security bases. Development with Bluemix Local can now proceed quickly, but still remain behind a client’s firewall.

A ‘write once, run anywhere’ feature now helps developers avoid much of the repetition in coding, allowing programmers to quickly stitch existing systems together and connect data and application programming interfaces into a single environment. The system also maintains consistency by keeping apps current across all platforms. IBM’s expansion of the Bluemix platform has been carried out on open architecture.

The system was developed to help companies in heavily regulated industries with strict compliance rules and sensitive customer data, such as banking, healthcare and financial services. IBM recommends a hybrid cloud approach as the preferred model for seamless connection.

New features in Bluemix Local include Relay technology, which conveys sync updates across the cloud so that all environments remain current. It has a single omnipotent admin console and gives access to IBM’s catalogue of 120 open-standards-based services from both IBM and third-parties. With a private catalogue and API Management services, enterprise clients can create, publish, manage and monetize their own APIs, IBM says.

Clients can also sync data across geographies using IBM’s global network of cloud data centres throughout the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe.

“IBM now has the broadest spectrum of hybrid cloud capability in the industry,” said Steve Robinson, general manager, Cloud Platform Services, IBM.

New Mendix system replaces programme writing with system modeling in the cloud

AppsDevelopment system maker Mendix claims its new system can speed application development by replacing the programme writing with application modeling.

It claims the newly announced Mendix 6 system makes it possible to build digital applications quickly by importing and exporting a range of previously made models. It has also introduced a mechanism that supports offline functions in mobile applications, so that mobile workers can still use their cloud applications when cut off from a network.

Mendix claims developers can build mobile applications that make use of static resource storage, and use data and data entry caching in order to maintain consistency of user experience and performance when offline.

The Mendix 6 Model API (application programming interface) and open source platform software development kit will help companies avoid vendor lock-in, help them migrate from or modernize legacy systems, automate tasks and – through fault finding analytical systems – create a new level of quality assurance, claims Mendix.

The processes of legacy migration and modernization are supported by a ‘model importing system’ which, in effect, allows would be developers to use development models that have worked successfully in similar situations elsewhere. This, claims Mendix, allows organisations to ‘accelerate application modernisation at massive scale’.

The model exchange function also aims to save time for clients by making it easier to examples for documentation, to move applications to other platforms and to increase transparency.

Customers running Mendix apps on the open source platform service, Cloud Foundry. will work with simpler configurations and enjoy more resilience said Mendix CTO Johann den Haan.

“Application development doesn’t run fast enough for many companies,” said den Haan, “now you don’t have to programme apps. You model them in the cloud and click run.”

Mendix is available in the Amazon Web Services Marketplace.

Game development and the cloud

Sherman ChinBCN has partnered with the Cloud South East Asia event to interview some of its speakers. In this interview we speak to Sherman Chin, Founder & CIO of Sherman3D.

Cloud South East Asia: Please tell us more about Sherman3D and your role in the gaming industry.

Sherman Chin:  I started game development during my college days when I did game development as hobby projects. I then graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Computing from the University of Portsmouth, UK, and was the recipient of the 2002 International Game Developers Association scholarship. I formed Sherman3D shortly after and I oversaw the entire game development pipeline. Though my experience is in programming, I am able to serve as a bridge between the technical and creative team members.

I worked on over 20 internationally recognized games including Scribblenauts published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Nickelodeon Diego’s Build & Rescue published by 2K Play, and Moshi Monsters Moshling Zoo published by Activision. Sherman3D is the longest lasting Malaysian indie game development company incorporated since 2003. With Sherman3D, I am the first Malaysian to release a game on Steam, the largest digital distribution platform for games online, after being voted in by international players via the Steam Greenlight process.

Within the gaming industry, I also worked as a producer in Japan, as a project manager in Canada, and as a COO in Malaysia. With over 15 years of experience in the gaming industry, I am currently the external examiner for the games design course at LimKokWing University and a game industry consultant for the Gerson Lehrman Group providing advisory services for international investors.

How has technology such as cloud supported your growth?

One important aspect of cloud technology is how ubiquitous it is. It allows my international development team to work online from anywhere in the world. This has helped us tremendously as we move our development operations online. We have our documents edited and stored online, we have our project management online, we have our video conference sharing sessions online, and we even have our game sessions online.

These online activities are made possible with cloud technology. More directly related to our product, Alpha Kimori was initially coded as a 3D tech demo for the supercomputing grid, which was showcased at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2003.

I continued work on Alpha Kimori as a 2D JRPG that was then featured on the OnLive cloud gaming service for PC, Mac, TV, and mobile. OnLive streamed our game on multiple platforms with minimal effort on our part. Thanks to OnLive, we reached a bigger audience before finally making it on to Steam via the Greenlight voting process by players who wanted to see Alpha Kimori on Steam.

Do you think cloud has an important role in the gaming industry and do providers give you enough support?

Yes, cloud does play an important role in the gaming industry and providers do give enough support. OnLive was extremely helpful for example. It was perfect for an asynchronous game such as Alpha Kimori which had a turn based battle system. Unfortunately, synchronous realtime games have a more difficult time adapting to the slower response rate from the streaming cloud servers. In order to boost response time, servers have to be placed near the players. Depending on the location of the servers, a player’s mileage might vary.

As broadband penetration increases, this becomes less of an issue so early implementations of Cloud gaming might have been too early for its time. I do see a bright future though. We just have to match the optimum sort of games to Cloud gaming as the technology progresses.

What will you be discussing at Cloud South East Asia?

At Cloud South East Asia, I will be discussing how asynchronous Japanese Role Playing Game elements are suitable for Cloud gaming as they require less of a response time compared to synchronous real time battle games. I will also do a post mortem of Alpha Kimori on the Cloud gaming platforms it was on.

Cloud technology was not always a bed of roses for us and we had to adapt as there were not many precedents. In the end though, each cloud gaming platform that Alpha Kimori was on helped us to advance our game content further. I will also talk about the auxiliary resources on the Cloud for game design such as the amazing suite of free technology provided by Google. I will also talk a bit about the sales of Alpha Kimori on Steam and how Cloud technology affects it with features such as Steam Cards.

Why do you think it is an important industry event and who do you look forward to meeting and hearing more from?

Having its roots in Japanese Role Playing Games, Alpha Kimori was selected by the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) committee for its Indie Game Area in September, 2015. Sherman3D is once again honoured to be the only Malaysian indie team sponsored by TGS and as such, we view TGS as an important industry event for us. It will help us penetrate the Japanese market and we look forward to meeting and hearing from potential Japanese business partners willing to help us push the Alpha Kimori intellectual property in Japan.

What is next for Sherman3D?

Sherman3D will go on developing the Alpha Kimori series and licensing our Alpha Kimori intellectual property to other developers worldwide. We want to see our Alpha Kimori universe and brand grow. We are also working on the Alpha Kimori comic and anime series. Ultimately, Sherman3D will spread the Great Doubt philosophy in Alpha Kimori where it is not about the past or the future but our experience in the current moment that counts. Only from now do we see our past and future shaped by our own perspective because the truth is relative to our human senses. Attaching too much to anything causes us suffering and accepting the moment gives us true freedom as it allows us to love without inhibitions. Sherman3D will continue to spread the Great Doubt philosophy in its endeavours in the entertainment industry.

Learn more about how the cloud is developing in South East Asia by attending Cloud South East Asia on 7th & 8th October 2015 at Connexion @ Nexus, KL, Malaysia.

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Microsoft releases Office 2016 for ‘mobile-first, cloud-first world’

Microsoft Office 2016 devices croppedMicrosoft has promised to ‘re-invent productivity and business processes’ for the mobile and cloud-first world, with its new Office 2016 for Windows. It has also unveiled new additions to Office 365 and made Office 2016 for Mac available as a one-time purchase.

The latest version of Office is designed to make optimal use of Windows 10, with better collaboration and tighter security. The productivity applications within the suite have been updated to make them more cloud friendly, with changes to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Project and Visio to make them more collaborative in nature, according to Microsoft.

One reported change is that groups of employees can now work on a single Word document and view each other’s comments as they are written. The new system now includes Skype for Business so that users of any new Office app can chat, screen share or video chat directly from their documents. Another new feature, enabled by Skype integration, is the ability to simultaneously co-author documents. In October Skype will be available on Office Online, according to Microsoft.

“The way people work has changed dramatically, and that’s why Microsoft is focused on reinventing productivity and business processes for the mobile-first, cloud-first world,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

These latest changes are a ‘big step’ in transforming Office from familiar but individual productivity tools to a connected set of apps and service designed for collaboration and teamwork, according to Nadella.

The security protection for business customers has been beefed up, according to Microsoft, with built-in data loss prevention features designed to cuts the risk of data leaks. New multi-factor authentication will secure the access of those outside the corporate network. Enterprise Data Protection, promised ‘later this year’ will help business to secure the process of sharing corporate content across application and cloud locations.

The delivery of future Office desktop application updates is to change, says Microsoft, so that Office 365 subscribers receive new features and capabilities continuously.

Other new tools include an analytics from Office Delve, a personal work analytics (Delve) and additional charts and formulas for Excel.

“The Office 2016 apps run beautifully on the best Windows ever,” said Kirk Koenigsbauer, Microsoft’s corporate VP for the Office Client Applications and Services. “The Office 2016 apps simplify collaboration and remove barriers to team success.”

How the cloud enables the Bistip social marketplace to scale efficiently

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABCN has partnered with the Cloud South East Asia event to interview some of its speakers. In this interview we speak to Rohit Kanwar, CEO of Indonesian social marketplace service Bistip.

Cloud South East Asia: Who are Bistip and how are you shaking up the Indonesian market?

Rohit Kanwar:  Bistip is Peer to Peer market place for social delivery through which item seekers and travellers are connected. Bistip travellers can post their trips in the platform visible to everyone and item seekers offer them extra money for bringing them their desired items. Currently Bistip has close to 35,000 customers and more than 100,000 web visits per month.

We are analogous in the logistics industry, like Uber or AirBnB.  Social couriers existed in most of the Asian countries before, but they were limited to close friends and families. However, with the adoption of smartphone and cloud based technologies it’s faster and easier to scale and roll out services to more people now.

Indonesians love buying high value goods, which are often expensive to purchase locally; with the help of Bistip they are now accustomed to getting “Anything from anywhere globally ” within Indonesia, at affordable prices.  Our mission is reduce overseas travel cost by providing travellers with extra money. We are adding 1000 customers per month, with a revenue over 250K USD and plan to achieve 1 million registered customers by 2017.

How is technology helping you grow and reach new customers?

Our customer acquisition strategy is 100% digitally focussed; we are also using online advertising tools to reach out to new customers. We are actively using digital technology and analytics to reach our target audience and demography based on respective products. We also use social media listening technology to understand the sentiments of customers about our product and services. Modification of products based on customer insight helps us to reach new customers and better serves existing members.

What role does cloud computing play in your business?

All our web and app based platforms are on cloud based technology. Its subscription based model (Pay as you go) helps to scale up capacity in a cost effective way. Our Cloud vendors provide us with features such as managed services, Web Performance dashboards and analytics integrated platforms, which enable us to focus on our Business KPIs instead of day to day network operations. Cloud base technology is a boom to start-ups as it reduces high capex spending on IT infrastructure.

How do you think established, global technology vendors are supporting start-up companies in Indonesia?

Indonesia currently has 70 million smartphones and more than 100 million Internet users.  Jakarta generates more tweets than any other city in the world. There is huge paradigm shift among technology vendors towards Indonesia due to the growing, successful start-up ecosystem in the country. Global technology vendors such as Google, Cloudera, IBM, Microsoft, etc. are showing a keen interest in understanding business requirement for start-ups.

Tech Vendors have dedicated support teams assisting start-up companies with solving their problems. Global technology vendors regularly arrange boot camps, Hackathons and networking seminars in the country in order to support start-ups with fund raising and other mentorship activities.   A few technology vendors have venture funds to support start-ups as well.  Overall the atmosphere and ecosystem is developing faster than ever before in Indonesia.

What is next for Bistip?

Bistip is coming up with a mobile application, along with new features and services, to reduce the shipping time and provide more security to our customers. It will also have an integrated payment system. Bistip aims to achieve 1 million customers by end of 2017.

Bistip is also exploring the opportunity to start operations in other countries. We have signed two partnerships with Uber in Indonesia, Aramex and are likely to sign a few more with online travel portal and retail stores in the near future. We are also in final level talks with a VC for raising further funds. Hopefully our execution plans will follow our strategy and we can provide our travellers with more benefits and our buyers with a better service.


Learn more about how the cloud is developing in South East Asia by attending Cloud South East Asia on 7th & 8th October 2015 at Connexion @ Nexus, KL, Malaysia.

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Google and Alcatel announce content delivery network upgrades to cloud services

contentTwo major content delivery network (CDN) technology announcements have highlighted the strategic importance of CDN in delivering content without lag and latency.

Google’s Cloud Platform is to be sped up by the addition of four new content delivery networks, it has announced. The addition of CloudFlare, Fastly, Highwinds Network and Level 3 Communications to Google’s network of 70 points of presence in 33 countries forms part of Google’s new CDN Interconnect programme, which falls within the Google Cloud Interconnect line.

The plan is to cut prices for joint customers of the CDN providers and Google Cloud Platform when the customer’s traffic moves from the Google cloud to the CDN, it said. Google’s Cloud Platform product manager Ofir Roval said the additions are needed to speed delivery of rich media payloads from the Google Cloud Platform to end-user devices. Emerging web and mobile apps ‘carry hefty media assets’ which, he blogged, explains the need for new CDN additions, according to a report in The Light Reading. In time dependent enterprise business systems, users are unlikely to tolerate ‘laggy’ unresponsive applications, said Roval.

In November the cloud vendor launched Google Carrier Interconnect, to help link enterprise customers to the Google cloud. Partners in the initiative included Verizon, Equinix, Level 3 and Tata Communications.

Meanwhile, Alcatel-Lucent has moved to bolster it cloud-based IP video storage and content delivery technologies with a new Cloud DVR platform and a new Elastic content delivery network. The plan allows service providers to manage network capacity more dynamically as they deal with growing customer demand, according to Alcatel-Lucent.

The Cloud DVR platform incorporates a number of advances in storage resulting from Alcatel-Lucent’s collaboration with Intel and uses the Intel Intelligent Storage Acceleration Library.

With functions moved to the cloud, the Elastic CDN allows resources to be allocated more flexibly, said Paul Larbey, head of Alcatel-Lucent’s IP Video business. “Our IP Video portfolio helps customers better manage the changes in traffic that they are seeing. We can help providers deliver video content more intelligently and efficiently to dramatically improve the end-user experience, in line with demand but without increasing costs.”

Telco TalkTalk has tested components of the enhanced Cloud DVR in a live network environment.

Elastic CDN will be made commercially available in 2016.

The FT discusses app and cloud strategy

christy rossBCN caught up with Christy Ross, Head of Application and Publishing Services, Technology at the Financial Times, to get some insight into the company’s approach to digital publishing, mobile apps and the cloud.

BCN: From a digital perspective, what is the FT currently focussed on?

Christy Ross: Print has been written off for years now, no pun intended, but we’re still doing very well. However our main interest these days — rather than investing in print product – is in looking at how we can identify and supply other means of content delivery and then to actually make some money from that. Over the past few years we’ve done things to help us to maintain a direct relationship with our subscribers, such as building our own web app rather than place anything on the Apple Store or Play Store.

We have also done a lot around building APIs, so that we can provide distinct feeds of information to businesses, enabling them to come to us and say, ‘we are particualrly interested in these areas of news, or analysis, and will pay you for that’. Of course we’ve also seen mobile take off massively, so probably over 50% of our new subscription revenue comes from mobile, rather than fromm the browser or tablets.

Why is the FT able to be so confident when asking for revenue from its readers?

We’ve been quite lucky. We were one of if not the first UK newspaper to introduce a paywall. A lot has been made of the fact that paywalls ‘don’t work,’ and we’ve seen a number of other daily national papers put them up and pull them back down again, but we are very wedded to ours.

That’s because we are a niche product. If you like, we’re ‘the business world’s second newspaper.’ So in the UK someone will have, say, their Times or the Telegraph (or in the US they’ll have the Washington Post or the New York Times), but then their second newspaper will be the Financial Times. You can’t get our content anywhere else, particularly not the analysis we provide. While we are interested in breaking news and do follow it, our key differetnaitor is analysis and that comment of what is going on in the world and what it means long term. People aree able to use these insights in their business decisions – and people are prepared to pay for that.

Is there anything unique about your current mobile application in itself?

At the end of the day we are a  content provider. It’s about getting the content out as quickly as we can, and providing the tools to our editorial users so they can concentrate on writing and not worry so much about layout – we’re doing a lot more about templating, metadata, and making our content much richer, so that, when a reader comes on, the acutal related stories mean something to them, and it’s easier for them to navigate through our considerable archive on the same poeople and companies, and be able to form a much more rounded opinion.

What about internal technical innvoation?

We’ve built our own private cloud, and we’re also heavily investigating and starting to use AWS, so doing a lot out there to support the public cloud. One of our strategy points is that any new applcaition or new functionality that we look to bring online, we have to start by looking on the public cloud to see if we can host and proivide it on that, and there has to be a very good technical reason for not doing it. We’re pushing it much more that way.

We have also borrrowed a concept from Netflix, their Chaos Monkey appraoch, where every now and then we deliberately break parts of our estate to see how resilient applications are, and to see how we can react to some of our applications not being available and what that means to our user base. Just a a couple of weekends ago we completely turned off one of our UK data centres, where we’d put most of our publishing and membership applciations in advance, to see what it did, and also to see whether we could bring up the applications in our other data centres – to see how long it took us and what it meant for things like our recovery time objectives.


Christy Ross will be appearing at Apps World Europe (18- 19 November, Excel, London)

IBM doubles down on developers and open source

IBM is launching a cloud-based open source platform and putting its own tech at the core of it

IBM is launching a cloud-based open source platform and putting its own tech at the core of it

IBM launched developerWorks Open this week, a platform being aimed at developers looking to develop open source solutions in collaboration with IBM using the company’s technology as a foundation.

The cloud-based platform will provide access to emerging IBM tech and expertise in the form of blogs, informational videos and other multimedia, and the opportunity to collaborate with specialists.

The company said it plans to contribute upwards of 50 projects to the initiative spanning various applications in cloud, analytics and mobile, and will also make the contributed services available on Bluemix.

“IBM firmly believes that open source is the foundation of innovative application development in the cloud,” said IBM vice president of cloud architecture and technology Angel Diaz. “With developerWorks Open, we are open sourcing additional IBM innovations that we feel have the potential to grow the community and ecosystem and eventually become established technologies.”

The company is also launching a set of open source projects specifically targeting applications and workflows in a number of industry verticals including healthcare, mobile, retail, insurance and banking. It said much of the open source development today, while promising, “lacks a strategic focus” on business requirements.

IBM has in recent years looked to bolster its open source strategy, in part by creating and owning its own communities. In 2013 for instance it launched the OpenPower Foundation, a group of technology companies innovating with and on top of its Power8 microarchitecture.

The company has also thrown its weight behind a number of large cloud-centric open source projects including OpenStack, Cloud Foundry (on which Bluemix is based), Docker and more recently, Apache Spark.

Google buys Pixate to strengthen mobile app prototyping, design

Google acquired mobile design and prototyping firm Pixate this week

Google acquired mobile design and prototyping firm Pixate this week

Google quietly acquired Pixate for an undisclosed sum this week. The company, which offers a platform that helps developers and design and prototype mobile apps, may help Google bolster the UX of its own apps while helping it expand the range of services already offered to developers.

A post on the Pixate blog written by chief executive Paul Colton confirmed the acquisition.

“Our small team at Pixate has some really big ideas, and with the help of Google we’ll be able to bring those ideas to the design community at scale. We’ve become an essential part of the workflow for tens of thousands of designers, and are excited about expanding our mission at Google to reach millions of product teams worldwide,” Colton explained.

“Starting today we’re making Pixate Studio free and dramatically reducing the cost of the Pixate cloud service,” he added.

Google said “Pixate adds to our ongoing effort to develop new design and prototyping tools.”

Pixate said it counts companies like Apple, Disney and Amazon as past customers. The company’s services will no doubt complement the cloud-based testing service for Android apps unveiled earlier this year at the I/O conference. The service, based on Appurify’s technology – an acquisition it announced at the conference last year, allows developers to run their applications on simulated versions of thousands of different Android devices.

Software AG and sys integrator arvato to partner on app integration

Software AG and arvato are partnering on application integration for the retail sector

Software AG and arvato are partnering on application integration for the retail sector

Software AG and systems integrator arvato Systems announced a partnership this week that will see the two companies jointly develop application integration offerings for the retail and digital commerce sectors.

The two companies plan to offer an integrated digital business solution that uses arvato’s order management system, which connects all of the data and systems needed to manage customer relationships across various channels, and Software AG’s digital business platform, which offers real-time integration capabilities between different channels like websites, in-store apps and POSs, warehouse inventory databases.

“We are delighted to join forces with Software AG in enterprise application integration, and to be able to provide our customers with an even more extensive integration portfolio,” said Axel Mattern, director of arvato Systems. “We are now able to offer a complete solution to help our customers in retail to become masters of their digital transformation.”

As brick-and-mortar and online shops become increasingly being woven together the companies claim apps and databases are becoming siloed and more challenging to link together, a problem this partnership intends to address. The challenge seems quite acute in some sectors – like food retail – and has even contributed to the rise of platform companies looking to whitelabel their sophisticated, highly-integrated offerings for sector-specific marketplaces and back-end systems.