Category Archives: Microsoft Azure

HPE launches ‘machine-learning-as-a-service’ on Microsoft Azure

HPE office logoHPE has upgraded its Haven OnDemand proposition to deliver it as ‘machine learning as a service’ via Microsoft Azure.

The product offers a freemium model and has collected around 12,000 registered developers since the beta launch in 2014. Through the leadership of Haven OnDemand CTO, Chris Goodfellow, the service is built on the mantra of ‘the sum is greater than the parts’, utilizing more than 60 API’s which combine to provide machine learning capabilities.

“The software industry is on the cusp of a new era of breakthroughs, driven by machine learning that will power data-driven applications across all facets of life,” said Colin Mahony, GM of HPE Big Data. “HPE Haven OnDemand democratizes big data by bringing the power of machine learning, traditionally reserved for high-end, highly trained data scientists, to the mainstream developer community”

Haven OnDemand includes features designed for applications such as sentiment analysis in text, text extraction from images, face and logo recognition, social media analysis and speech recognition. Developers can also build a set of self-learning functions that analyze, predict and alert based on structured datasets. French start-up Ayni utilized the speech recognition API to help it create text transcripts of live audio streams on its foreign language education app.

Alongside the product development over the last 12 months, HPE has also run an active global hackathon program, which has provided feedback to help optimize the offering.

All HPE Haven OnDemand APIs and services are hosted on Microsoft Azure, building on the long-term strategic partnership between the two tech giants. Back in December, the partnership was extended as HPE appointed Microsoft Azure as a preferred public cloud partner. In return, HPE was granted preferred partner status in providing infrastructure and services for Microsoft hybrid cloud offerings.

“Organizations have massive quantities of information that can hold insights into business transformation, but harnessing it can be challenging,” said Garth Fort, General Manager, Partner and Channel Marketing, Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft. “Leveraging the high performance and scalability of Azure, HPE Haven OnDemand brings our mutual customers a compelling solution to help turn their data into value.”

Cloud now makes up one third of Microsoft revenues as Azure soars

AzureMicrosoft made $9.4 billion from cloud computing in its last quarter with the 140% rise of Azure revenue surpassing expectations and over shadowing other areas of business.

Yesterday Microsoft released the figures for its quarter ending on December 31, 2015 (Q2 in its 2016 financial year). With total revenues of $25.7 billion, income from cloud computing now represents over a third of its fortune. Microsoft’s stock rose in value by 7% following its earnings announcement.

The latest cloud revenue figures show a $1.2 billion rise on the previous quarter, which saw $8.2 billion revenue on cloud deals. This represents a growth rate of 14.6% every quarter, which suggest that it cloud revenue could surpass its own expectations. Microsoft has previously predicted that its cloud revenue will rise to $20 billion in 2018.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella argued that the numbers of businesses that are piloting Windows 10 leads it to expect that it will be installed on over 200 million active devices in the coming year. “Businesses everywhere are using the Microsoft Cloud as their digital platform to drive their ambitious transformation agendas,” said Nadella.

The cloud outshone all other areas of the business. While revenue from server based products rose by 10%, Azure revenue grew 140%. Office 365 now has 20.6 million subscribers, which was a major contributor to the success of the sales of Productivity and Business Processes (PBP), which rose to $6.7 billion in value, from $6.3 billion in the last quarter. The service revenue from the Intelligent Cloud (IC), grew from $5.9 billion to $6.4 billion over the same period.

Sales in the More Personal Computing category, taking in Windows, Devices, Gaming and Search, went from $9.4 billion to $12.7 billion, a rise of 25.9%, even in the teeth of a 49% fall in phone revenues. Meanwhile, Microsoft reported that its success in monetizing its search advertising had grown by 29%, which it attributed to the integration of search into Windows 10.

Microsoft returned $6.5 billion to shareholders in dividends.

Microsoft unveils new Azure Stack migration strategy

Microsoft is to build its Azure Stack by increments on a foundation of consistency and continuity, it has pledged. The software turned cloud service vendor has blogged about the next move in its hybrid cloud strategy. Later this week it will offer the first technical preview of the new Microsoft Azure Stack.

In deference to its increasing numbers of Azure users who are nervous of committing to the public cloud, Microsoft announced it will provide incremental upgrades and changes on a foundation of continuity and consistency. While Azure Stack will use identical application programming interfaces (APIs) to the ones that reach into Microsoft Azure, developers are to be given guidance on creating .Net or open source apps that can straddle both public and private cloud. Meanwhile, according to Mike Neil, Microsoft’s enterprise Cloud VP, IT professionals can transform on-premises data centre resources into Azure IaaS/PaaS services without losing their powers of management and automation.

Microsoft is seeing nearly 100,000 new Azure subscriptions every month but many enterprises fear going fully public because of the data sovereignty and regulatory issues, Neil said. Microsoft’s strategy is to work around a client base with one foot in the public cloud and one on-premises. It will do this by providing a consistent cloud platform that spans hybrid environments. In a series of Technical previews, starting on Friday 29th of January, Microsoft is to show how Azure Stack inventions for the hyperscale data centre can be layered onto the hybrid cloud.

Since the APIs are the same, in future apps can be written once and deploy to Azure and Azure Stack and use the Azure ecosystem to jumpstart their Azure Stack development efforts. The same management, DevOps and automation tools will apply said Neil. The application model is based on Azure Resource Manager, so developers can take the same declarative approach to applications, regardless of whether they run on Azure or Azure Stack. Tooling-wise, developers can use Visual Studio, PowerShell, as well as other open-source DevOps tools, creating the same end user experiences as in Azure, Neil said.

A series of technical previews will be the vehicle for adding services and content such as OS images and Azure Resource Manager templates. “Azure has hundreds of applications and components on GitHub and as the corresponding services come to Azure Stack, users can take advantage of those as well,” said Neil, who disclosed that open source partners like Canonical are contributing validated Ubuntu Linux images to make open source applications work in Azure Stack environments.

The first Technical Preview of Azure Stack on Friday, January 29 will be followed by a web cast on February 3rd by Azure CTO Mark Russinovich and Chief Architect of Enterprise Cloud Jeffrey Snover.

AWS, Azure and Google intensify cloud price war

AzureAs price competition intensifies among the top three cloud service providers, one analyst has warned that cloud buyers should not get drawn into a race to the bottom.

Following price cuts by AWS and Google, last week Microsoft lowered the price bar further with cuts to its Azure service. Though smaller players will struggle to compete on costs, the cloud service is a long way from an oligopoly, according to Quocirca analyst Clive Longbottom.

Amazon Web Services began the bidding in early January as chief technology evangelist Jeff Barr announced the company’s 51st cloud price cut on his official AWS blog.

In January 8th Google’s Julia Ferraioli argued via a blog post that Google is now a cheaper offering (in terms of cost effectiveness) as a result of its discounting scheme. “Google is anywhere from 15 to 41% less expensive than AWS for compute resources,” said Ferraioli. The key to the latest Google lead in cost effectiveness is automatic sustained usage discounts and custom machine types that AWS can’t match, claimed Ferraioli.

Last week Microsoft’s Cloud Platform product marketing director Nicole Herskowitz announced the latest round of price competition in a company blog post announcing a 17% cut off the prices of its Dv2 Virtual Machines.

Herskowitz claimed that Microsoft offers better price performance because, unlike AWS EC2, its Azure’s Dv2 instances have include load balancing and auto-scaling built-in at no extra charge.

Microsoft is also aiming to change the perception of AWS’s superiority as an infrastructure service provider. “Azure customers are using the rich set of services spanning IaaS and PaaS,” wrote Herskowitz, “today, more than half of Azure IaaS customers are benefiting by adopting higher level PaaS services.”

Price is not everything in this market warned Quocirca analyst Longbottom, an equally important side of any cloud deal is overall value. “Even though AWS, Microsoft and Google all offer high availability and there is little doubting their professionalism in putting the stack together, it doesn’t mean that these are the right platform for all workloads. They have all had downtime that shouldn’t have happened,” said Longbottom.

The level of risk the provider is willing to protect the customer from and the business and technical help they provide are still deal breakers, Longbottom said. “If you need more support, then it may well be that something like IBM SoftLayer is a better bet. If you want pre-prepared software as a service, then you need to look elsewhere. So it’s still horses for courses and these three are not the only horses in town.”

Microsoft Azure Prices Being Cut by up to 17%

At the end of last week, Microsoft announced it will be reducing prices for it’s Dv2 instances by up to 17% next month.

Blair Frank did a write-up on Computerworld:

Good news for businesses using Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform: their infrastructure bills may be shrinking come February.

Microsoft announced that it will be permanently reducing the prices for its Dv2 compute instances by up to 17 percent next month, depending on the type of instance and what it’s being used for. Users will see the greatest savings if they’re running higher performance Linux instances — up to 17 percent lower prices than they’ve been paying previously. Windows instance discounts top out at a 13 percent reduction compared to current prices.


To read the rest of the post to get complete details, click here.




Azure to lift elevators into the cloud with IoT-based maintenance service

Elevator lift cloudThe world’s one billion lift users could benefit from a new cloud based system which could elevate the mode of transport from ‘out of service’ to ‘as a service’, through a series of technical improvements.

Lift manager ThyssenKrupp has launched MAX, a system of ‘urban efficiency’ which runs via Microsoft Azure’s Internet of Things (IoT) enabled technology.

With 12 million lifts across the world shifting a billion people each day, downtime of this increasingly critical transport mechanism is becoming increasingly critical. However, management of lifts has not kept pacing with technology developments and service disruptions amount to over 190 million cumulative hours. The amount of time wasted, as staff are forced to walk up several floors, or wait for a crowded alternative lift, has not been calculated but is expected to be several times higher. However, the ThyssenKrupp Elevator company says its new MAX system will improve productivity by cutting lift service outages by half.

The MAX system aims to raise the reliability of lifts with a predictive and pre-emptive service that uses remote monitoring to dramatically increase the availability levels lifts. It uses intelligent agents to tell service technicians the needs of the lift, including the identification of repairs, component replacements and proactive system maintenance.

Data collected from millions of connected ThyssenKrupp elevators is sent to a system running in Microsoft’s Azure cloud, where an algorithm calculates the remaining lifetime of key systems and components in each elevator. From this ThyssenKrupp’s team of 20,000 global service engineers and technicians can inform building owners in advance when systems or components will need attention. These programmed interventions help avert life downtime, according to Andreas Schierenbeck, CEO of ThyssenKrupp Elevator.

“Our mission is to transform a century-old industry that has relied on established technology until now. We are very pleased to take ThyssenKrupp into the digital era and change the way the elevator industry offers maintenance services,” he said .

ThyssenKrupp aims to connect 180,000 units in North America and Europe, with the US, Germany, and Spain as pilot countries and other key countries in Europe, Asia and South America following shortly after. In two years, the offering will be expanded to all continents, becoming available to 80% of all elevators worldwide.

Hortonworks buys SequenceIQ to speed up cloud deployment of Hadoop


SequenceIQ will help boost Hortonworks’ position in the Hadoop ecosystem

Hortonworks has acquired SequenceIQ, a Hungary-based startup delivering infrastructure agnostic tools to improve Hadoop deployments. The company said the move will bolster its ability to offer speedy cloud deployments of Hadoop.

SequenceIQ’s flagship offering, Cloudbreak, is a Hadoop as a Service API for multi-tenant clusters that applies some of the capabilities of Blueprint (which lets you create a Hadoop cluster without having to use the Ambari Cluster Install Wizard) and Periscope (autoscaling for Hadoop YARN) to help speed up deployment of Hadoop on different cloud infrastructures.

The two companies have partnered extensively in the Hadoop community, and Hortonworks said the move will enhance its position among a growing number of Hadoop incumbents.

“This acquisition enriches our leadership position by providing technology that automates the launching of elastic Hadoop clusters with policy-based auto-scaling on the major cloud infrastructure platforms including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and OpenStack, as well as platforms that support Docker containers. Put simply, we now provide our customers and partners with both the broadest set of deployment choices for Hadoop and quickest and easiest automation steps,” Tim Hall, vice president of product management at Hortonworks, explained.

“As Hortonworks continues to expand globally, the SequenceIQ team further expands our European presence and firmly establishes an engineering beachhead in Budapest. We are thrilled to have them join the Hortonworks team.”

Hall said the company also plans to contribute the Cloudbreak code back into the Apache Foundation sometime this year, though whether it will do so as part of an existing project or standalone one seems yet to be decided.

Hortonworks’ bread and butter is in supporting enterprise adoption of Hadoop and bringing the services component to the table, but it’s interesting to see the company commit to feeding the Cloudbreak code – which could, at least temporarily, give it a competitive edge – back into the ecosystem.

“This move is in line with our belief that the fastest path to innovation is through open source developed within an open community,” Hall explained.

The big data M&A space has seen more consolidation over the past few months, with Hitachi Data Systems acquiring big data and analytics specialist Pentaho and Infosys’ $200m acquisition of Panaya.

Hanu Software Selected to Join the Microsoft Windows Azure Circle Program

Hanu Software today announced that they have been selected for Microsoft Corporation’s elite Windows Azure Circle program. The Azure Circle is the highest level of Microsoft’s Cloud Accelerate Partner program designed to validate the credentials of highly trained and tested partner organizations.

Hanu Software has already established a reputation of excellence developing applications to operate on Microsoft’s Azure platform. In addition to the Azure Circle selection, Microsoft will release two success stories featuring Hanu Software’s Azure development services next month.

“The Azure Circle partner program showcases our Microsoft partners’ commitment to helping shared customers take full advantage of the benefits of cloud services,” says Francesco Rietti, Business Development Manager for Microsoft US Azure Partnerships. “We appreciate the resources that our partners dedicate to mastering the latest technologies and their continued drive for success.”

As a result of the Azure Circle designation, Hanu Software will have access to additional Microsoft promotional and technical resources that will deliver faster and more cost effective results to customers.

“We are excited to be a part of the Azure Circle, furthering our efforts to help customers make strategic choices about their future in the cloud,” Anil Singh, founder and CEO of Hanu Software. “Our strong alliance with Microsoft’s Azure team assures our customers that they have a direct connection with the latest platform developments.”