Category Archives: Europe

HP launches cloud service catalogue for European Union

HPHP has launched a new ‘one stop’ cloud shop for Europe. The announcement was made by HP Helion VP Xavier Poisson to a gathering of HP’s Cloud28+ partner community in Brussels.

A new catalogue – also called Cloud28+ – will be a centralised cloud services portal for all the systems created by the 110 official members of the community that create or use cloud services in Europe.

HP claims it has made it easier for enterprises to identify and implement the cloud services they need, while complying with local regulations. In addition, the EuroCloud Star Audit (ECSA) program will, it claims, save members from the expense of performing their own individual audits. The rationale is to create a high level of transparency and guidance for customers and service providers, Poisson told delegates.

Lack of knowledge, security concerns and legal uncertainty are the biggest barriers to cloud adoption in Europe, according to a Eurostat survey, quoted by HP. The study, conducted by the EU’s statistical office, asked staff at 151,000 EU companies about their aspirations for using cloud services and their reservations over purchasing processes.

In response, HP has designed an easy and transparent system for matching cloud services to both functional and non-functional criteria, such as security or data privacy regulations, according to Poisson. The system is also designed to provide a need to know briefing on legal and compliance variations across Europe. The Cloud28+ catalogue is to be hosted and secured in Europe.

It’s time for a common framework of quality, costs and security, said Poisson. “This is already creating new opportunities for cloud service providers, greater choice for enterprises, and better access for developers and will play an integral role accelerating organizations’ transformation to hybrid infrastructure.”

Mounting frustration with cloud technology is stifling adoption – research

An influential group of senior business executives is being disillusioned by experiences with cloud hosted applications, according to new research. The proportions, though relatively low, are growing as cloud disenchantment threatens to set in.

The revelations come from research by cloud service provider Stratogen. Its main finding was that the expense, the lack of both applications and support and the downtime involved are all disappointing the company decision makers who backed cloud computing in their companies.

If news of the disenchantment spreads among the business community, the bad feedback could nip cloud growth in the bud, according to Karl Robinson, chief commercial officer at StratoGen. “The research highlights a major problem for cloud technology,” said Robinson, “It is clear UK businesses today have a distinct lack of confidence in the cloud’s ability to deliver the benefits it is capable of.”

The study, conducted independently by Arlington Research, involved a survey of 1000 senior business executives. Around three quarters (74 per cent) of the survey group reported day to day frustrations with using cloud hosted applications.

The main complaint for 20 per cent of the study group was the high cost of their cloud applications. Another minority (17 per cent) complained about the lack of available cloud applications. The lack of IT support was mentioned by 16 per cent of the survey and one tenth of those surveyed were not happy with the amount of downtime.

As a result, a minority of the survey group (17 per cent of the business leaders quizzed) are concerned that their cloud systems are preventing their company from growing. Around the same proportion (14 per cent) are worried that downtime is affecting employee productivity and creating a loss of company earnings.

Though these are complaints from a small minority, the survey figures seem to indicate that their influence is disproportionally high, since 33 per cent of the business leaders say they are now ready to remove their business off the cloud completely. A further 31 per cent are also considering a cloud exodus.

“The perceived high cost of cloud hosting is a direct result of the unexpected metered costs businesses are all too often hit with,” said Robinson, “migration challenges and the time invested in integrating cloud technology with legacy applications can further increase the cost of cloud computing.”

Cloud strategy still tentative for many UK corporations – study

IT managers and CIOs should not feel they’ve missed the boat as the majority of enterprises have only just started their cloud journey, according to a new enterprise study.

If a study of 200 senior IT managers in large public and private sector organisations is an accurate reflection of the nation’s IT, only 3 per cent of enterprises have arrived at their final cloud destination. Not far from half (41 per cent) of IT managers surveyed were categorised as ‘still taking their first tentative steps towards cloud’ by the survey conductor Vanson Bourne. The study, run on behalf of UK cloud services provider Redcentric, also identified another significantly large group (32 per cent) that said they’re only half way to their cloud destination.

The study also identified the five types of personality trait that emerge among IT managers and CIOs as the pressure to adopt cloud technology builds. Five genres of manager were identified – in ascending order of caution – as Experimenters, Evolutionaries, Accelerators, Progressives and Cautionaries.

The relative proportions of these self-identified personality types did not always match the spread of cloud installations, however. Four per cent of cloud managers identified themselves as ‘risk-taking experimenters’ who were ‘willing to accept the ups and downs of moving to the cloud and not entirely sure the direction they will take’. This roughly equated to the proportion of managers (3%) who were satisfied they had completed their cloud journey.

Equal numbers of IT mangers and CIOs saw themselves as Accelerators (16%) who want to move to the cloud as fast as possible and Progressives (16%) who want to use cloud to make bold business changes. Taken together, these categories indicate that 32 per cent of the study group are frustrated in their ambitions for the cloud. This matched exactly the number (32 per cent) of companies that have yet to reach the half way point of their cloud migration.

The majority of the study group (50 per cent) identified themselves as Evolutionary and stated that they take a steady approach where cloud is a natural progression for the business.

There is a significant group of Cautionaries (15 per cent) who are most cynical about cloud overall. However, only 3 per cent of the group have not embarked on cloud projects, which indicates that 12 per cent of IT managers and CIOs have embarked on a cloud migration without having any faith in the technology.

“We wanted to help UK organisations understand where they are and where their journey is likely to take them next,” said Redcentric sales director Andy Mills, “The findings show there is huge untapped potential still to explore.”

UK SME cloud adoption swells on flexible working growth

UK SMEs are turning to the cloud to support their flexible working needs

UK SMEs are turning to the cloud to support their flexible working needs

UK SMEs are upping their use of cloud services in a bid to cater to more flexible working practices, recently released research from the BT Business and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) suggests.

According to a survey of over 300 decision makers working in small and medium-sized business in the UK, nine out of ten (91 per cent) of companies have at least one member of staff working from home, and a fifth of businesses (19 per cent) said more than half of their workforce working away from their main office location.

The BCC said the results are directly linked to growing cloud service use. About 69 per cent of businesses use cloud-based applications, and more than half (53 per cent) saying that they are critical to effective remote working.

As one might have guessed, internet connectivity was also rated quite highly on the list of core elements required to effectively facilitate flexible working (63 per cent), and smartphones are seen as the technology that has made the biggest difference to businesses in the last 12 months (according to 68 per cent of respondents).

“It is vital to ensure that UK businesses have access to world-class digital infrastructure if they are to maintain their competitiveness in a global marketplace,” said Adam Marshall, executive director of policy and external affairs, BCC.

“Cloud and mobile technologies are becoming increasingly important as firms expand into new markets and explore new ways of working – especially overseas. It is encouraging to see that so many British firms are adapting their working practices to take advantage of these developments,” he added.

Legislation that came into effect last summer means employees in the UK with over 26 weeks service are eligible to request flexible working hours, allowing more employees to set up home offices and work remotely. Research from the Office for National Statistics found that in the first three months of 2014, 4.2 million staff across the country worked from home, equating to 13.9 per cent of the workforce, a figure that is only set to grow since the law’s passing.

Cisco bolsters IoT partnerships with French startups

Cisco is beefing up its IoT strategy and targeting French startups to do it

Cisco is beefing up its IoT strategy and targeting French startups to do it

Cisco is making good on a promise made in February to team up with the French government on a $100m initiative to help fund local Internet of Things (IoT) startups, partner with local businesses and cultivate IoT-specific skills.

Among the company’s initiatives include a competition to develop enterprise-focused IoT services and apps that foster social and environmental innovation, and a partnership with the NUMA Sprint accelerator programme which will see the company support up to 22 IoT startups incubated in the programme.

Cisco also said it’s partnering with Actility, a provider of IoT and machine-to-machine services for energy management, to improve connectivity between low-power sensors using LoRaWAN, and investing in Parisian startup 6Wind, a software firm developing software-defined networking and network function virtualisation solutions.

“Innovation is in the DNA of Cisco. France has almost limitless potential and our mission is to support innovation across our entire ecosystem,” Robert Vassoyan, chief executive of Cisco France. “These first initiatives demonstrate our active cooperation with innovative companies to aid them in their development, and show that we are committed to continuing our efforts in this area to drive growth, competitivity and employment of our country.”

Cisco has stepped up its IoT strategy as of late, most recently buying connected things tracker and network security specialist OpenDNS for $635m.

Orange creates NFV, cloud testing lab for 5G advances

Orange and Inria are partnering on an NFV, cloud testing lab for 5G

Orange and Inria are partnering on an NFV, cloud testing lab for 5G

Orange has unveiled its new lab dedicated to network virtualization and cloud computing, called I/O Lab. It’s targeting an open and accessible environment for collaboration with the wider industry.

In a particularly buzzwordy announcement, the telco has claimed the new testing environment for NFV and cloud tech will enable advances in the development of 5G, IoT and Big Data; while also referencing “fog” computing – a form distributed cloud computing where near-user network edge devices are utilised for storage – and Mobile Edge Computing.

“The networks… will undergo a radical transformation in the next decade as a result of the progress of virtualization techniques,” Orange said in a statement. “General purpose servers will be able to use software to incorporate more and more network functions, all while meeting the networks’ growing needs for capacity and reliability. At the same time, cloud computing techniques will contribute to the development of flexible storage and processing capacities in data centres and even within networks and their peripheries, including connected devices and objects.” This trend could be strengthened by the increased momentum of the Internet of Things and Big Data processing”

“The I/O Lab’s vision is to develop a coherent, flexible and reliable management structure for the networks of the future, seen as distributed communication, storage and processing infrastructures. This will be achieved by virtue of the dual distributed network and software culture of its partners and a large contribution of the worldwide Open Source communities.”

The lab has been developed in partnership with Inria, the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation, and the two companies say the test-bed will be dedicated to contributing heavily to relevant Open Source communities.

Orange also claims the lab will promote and develop a broad scale network OS, called “Global OS”, which will be designed to support a variety of app development for the infrastructure, including security, performance, availability, cost and energy efficiency management. It has also targeted 2020 for tangible outputs from the lab in terms of network infrastructure ready for 5G-compatible deployment.

UK Department of Health taps Accenture, Avanade for cloud deployment

The UK Department of Health is overhauling its comms technology

The UK Department of Health is overhauling its comms technology

Department of Health in England and NHS National Services Scotland have selected Accenture and Avanade to implement a range of cloud-based communications service across England and Scotland.

The NHSmail service is being developed and deployed to enable secure communication to users of less secure systems such as non-NHS partners and patients.

“Almost 700,000 doctors, clinicians and other health and care employees already use NHSmail to communicate securely,” said Aimie Chapple, managing director for Accenture’s UK health business.

“The new improved NHSmail service will provide significant digital technology improvements to help NHS staff drive even more effective collaboration at all points of patient care. This will be one of the largest mailbox migrations ever delivered and will bring significant benefits to the way NHS employees exchange information, communicate and interact across healthcare,” she said.

The five-year deal will also see Accenture and Avanade help overhaul the department’s internal email service and deploy other cloud-based communications services across the NHS including an enterprise-wide directory and Microsoft Lync for enabling instant messaging, VOIP, audio and video communication in a bid to enhance collaboration among NHS healthcare workers across the UK.

Over the past few years the NHS has sought to lean more heavily on cloud services in a bid to improve the care services offered to patients and to reduce the cost of provision, though by its own admission it has struggled.

In the NHS’s five year plan released in November 2014 the department said past failures to successfully adopt more robust IT infrastructure and make its digital services more effective is because it hasn’t changed how it procures those technologies and services, which is where the UK government hopes programmes like G-Cloud will play a leading role, and the lack of attention paid to standards.

“Part of why progress has not been as fast as it should have been is that the NHS has oscillated between two opposite approaches to information technology adoption – neither of which now makes sense. At times we have tried highly centralised national procurements and implementations. When they have failed due to lack of local engagement and lack of sensitivity to local circumstances, we have veered to the opposite extreme of ‘letting a thousand flowers bloom’,” the Five Year Forward View reads. “The result has been systems that don’t talk to each other, and a failure to harness the shared benefits that come from interoperable systems.”

Facebook to build Open Compute datacentre in Ireland

Facebook plans to build a datacentre in Ireland, its second in Europe

Facebook plans to build a datacentre in Ireland, its second in Europe

Facebook this week revealed plans to build an Open Compute datacentre in a bid to support its growth ambitions in Europe.

The proposed location of the new datacentre in County Meath will enable the company to make use of local renewable energy sources and talent, and would be the social media giant’s second in Europe. The first, in Lulea, Sweden, uses 100 per cent hydroelectricity to power its servers.

Facebook said the datacentre could generate hundreds of millions of euros in economic benefits for the region. The project is being supported by the by the Department of Jobs through IDA Ireland. Martin Shanahan, the organisation’s chief executive said: “Facebook’s existing relationship with Ireland is extremely strong and extensive in scope, but the news that the company wants to build its second European data centre in a regional location such as Meath will cement the relationship even further.”

“Ireland has been a home for Facebook since 2007 and today’s planning application demonstrates our continued interest to invest in Ireland,” said Facebook’s datacentre strategy head Rachel Peterson.

“We hope to build an innovative, environmentally friendly data centre that will help us continue to connect people in Ireland and around the world – while supporting local job creation and Ireland’s successful technology economy. We look forward to continuing our conversations with the Clonee community in coming weeks,” she said.

Facebook has less than a handful of datacentres globally but the data volumes it generates – and the infrastructure it needs to support its services – is significant. The company adds 300 million new photos every day, has a data warehouse of over 300 petabytes and processes hundreds of terabytes of data daily. And given nearly three quarters of Facebook users are outside the US, its build-out in Europe and other key strategic regions (India for instance) outside North America will likely continue.

iomart buys cloud consultancy for SystemsUp for £12.5

iomart is buying IT consultancy SystemsUp for an estimate £12.5m

iomart is buying IT consultancy SystemsUp for an estimate £12.5m

UK cloud service provider iomart announced it has entered into a deal to acquire IT consultancy SystemsUp, which specialises in designing and delivering cloud solutions, for up to £12.5m.

The deal will see iomart pay £9m in an initial cash consideration for the London-based consultancy with a contingent consideration of up to £3.5m depending on performance.

iomart said the move would broaden its cloud computing expertise. SystemsUp designs and delivers solutions made to run on Google, AWS and Microsoft public clouds among other platforms, and specialises in the public sector cloud strategies.

“The market for cloud computing is becoming incredibly complex and the demand for public cloud services is increasing at pace,” said Angus MacSween, chief executive of iomart. “With the acquisition of SystemsUp, iomart has broadened its ability to engage at a strategic level and act as a trusted advisor on cloud strategy to organisations wanting to create the right blend of cloud services, both public and private, to fit their requirements.”

While iomart offers its own cloud services the company seems to recognise the need to build up skills in a range of other platforms; the company said SystemsUp will remain an “impartial, agnostic, expert consultancy.”

Peter Burgess, managing director of SystemsUp said: “We have already built up a significant reputation and expertise in helping organisations use public cloud to drive down IT costs and improve efficiency. As part of iomart we can leverage their award winning managed services offerings to deepen and widen our toolset to deliver a broader set of cloud services, alongside continuing to deliver the strategic advice and deployment of complex large public and private sector cloud projects.”

The move comes six months after iomart’s last acquisition, when the company announced it had bought ServerSpace, a rival cloud service provider, for £4.25m.

IBM, UK gov ink $313m deal to promote big data, cognitive compute research

IBM and the UK government are pouring £313m into big data and cognitive computing R&D

IBM and the UK government are pouring £313m into big data and cognitive computing R&D

The UK government has signed a deal with IBM that will see the two parties fund a series of initiatives aimed at expanding cognitive computing and big data research.

The £313m partnership will see the UK government commit £113m to expand the Hartree Centre at Daresbury, a publicly funded facility geared towards reducing the cost and improving the efficiency and user-friendliness of high performance computing and big data for research and development purposes.

IBM said it will further support the project with technology and onsite expertise worth up to £200m, including access to the company’s cognitive computing platform Watson. The company will also place 24 IBM researchers at the Centre, who will help the researchers commercialise any promising innovations developed there.

The organisations will also explore how to leverage OpenPower-based systems for high performance computing.

“We live in an information economy – from the smart devices we use every day to the super-computers that helped find the Higgs Boson, the power of advanced computing means we now have access to vast amounts of data,” said UK Minister for Universities and Science Jo Johnson.

“This partnership with IBM, which builds on our £113 million investment to expand the Hartree Centre, will help businesses make the best use of big data to develop better products and services that will boost productivity, drive growth and create jobs.”

David Stokes, chief executive for IBM in the UK and Ireland said: “We’re at the dawn of a new era of cognitive computing, during which advanced data-centric computing models and open innovation approaches will allow technology to greatly augment decision-making capabilities for business and government.”

“The expansion of our collaboration with STFC builds upon Hartree’s successful engagement with industry and its record in commercialising technological developments, and provides a world-class environment using Watson and OpenPower technologies to extend the boundaries of Big Data and cognitive computing,” he added.