Category Archives: Platform as a service

Alibaba Cloud launches ModelScope platform

Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, started its recent annual Apsara Conference by announcing the launch of  ModelScope. This is an open-source Model-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform that comes with hundreds of AI models, including large pre-trained models for global developers and researchers. During its flagship conference, the cloud provider also introduced… Read more »

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Skyhigh, Check Point claim cloud security simplification

Cloud securityCloud access security broker Skyhigh Networks and security vendor Check Point claim they’ve jointly made security, compliance and governance policies for cloud services a lot easier to manage.

The initial launch of their combined service is aimed at regulating software, platform and infrastructure (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS) as a service offerings.

The integration of their security offerings means that mutual customers can use Skyhigh’s cloud access security broker (CASB) and Check Point’s firewall more effectively while taking less time to set up and enforce internal policies. The idea is to alleviate the work of enterprise security managers as they try to comply with external regulations and protect corporate data.

Meanwhile Skyhigh is offering a free cloud audit as it claims that an all time high adoption of cloud has not been matched by cloud security standards. According to the Q4 2015 Skyhigh Cloud Adoption and Risk Report, the average company uses 1,154 cloud services and uploads over 5.6 TB to file sharing services each month. However, this vast migration of data to the cloud is creating a security gulf, it claims, because the rush to cut costs has seen companies lose visibility and control over their IT estate.

The combined Skyhigh Check Point service promises to shed more light on the state of the network, enforce data loss prevention (DLP) policies, protect company data, consolidate usage of cloud services, identify any risky data uploads or downloads from questionable service providers and protect against data exfiltration attempts. By applying threat intelligence to analyse cloud traffic patterns, detecting anomalous behaviour and remediating against users or cloud services the two partners claim they can restore the levels of security enterprises need, by making it easier to implement.

“Companies want to embrace cloud services, but they can’t leave behind security controls as corporate data moves off-premises,” said Chris Cesio, business development VP at Skyhigh Networks.

Oracle launches a mission critical PaaS from its Slough data centre

OracleOracle has added new Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud offerings from its Slough data centre, which currently caters for 500 UK and global customers.

Clients from both the private and public sector are being promised tailored versions of the new services, which include Oracle’s Database, Dedicated Compute, Big Data and Exadata cloud services.

Oracles claims that it is offering enterprises a mission critical PaaS and outlined four main selling points for the new services. Clients will now be able to develop, test and launch applications much more rapidly and cheaply, it claims. No supporting figures were given to exemplify this, however. Secondly, the new service will give companies greater flexibility without compromising their security, Oracle claims.

It will also use Hadoop’s open-source software framework for storing data and running applications on clusters of commodity hardware. This, says Oracle, will provide massive storage for any kind of data, boost the available pool of processing power and allow the data centre to handle a far greater volume of concurrent jobs. Oracle claimed that this can be delivered as a secure, automated service that meshes with existing enterprise data in Oracle Database. The fourth plank of its new offering is instant access to a virtual computing environment to run large scale applications on the Oracle Cloud.

Oracle currently has 19 data centres running its Oracle Cloud from various points of the globe. Last week it announced the intention to open a new Cloud data centre in Abu Dhabi. Oracle will be investing in two new cloud sales centres in Amsterdam and Cairo along with new offices opening this year in Dubai, Dublin and Prague.

In December 2015, BCN reported that Oracle’s co-chief executive Safra Catz warned fiscal 2016 will be “a trough year for profitability as we move to the cloud.”

In January 2016, however, BCN reported that Oracle had announced aggressive expansion plans with a recruitment drive for junior and senior sales staff to be based in six cities across EMEA.

The cloud software giant is now actively headhunting for 1,400 new cloud sales staff to work out of sales HQs in Amsterdam, Cairo, Dubai, Dublin, Malaga and Prague.

OVH claims integration of TimeSeries PaaS with Sigfox IoT cloud

France-based ISP turned cloud operator OVH has announced that its TimeSeries platform service is now integrated with the IoT simcloud service provided by IoT specialist Sigfox.

The fine tuning of the two services was announced at the CES 2016 show in Las Vegas, where the two service providers demonstrated showed how the OVH TimeSeries platform as a service (PaaS) can analyse and act on data being fed in from 7,000 sensors connected to the Sigfox IoT.

OVH claimed that machine-learning algorithms within the TimeSeries service can identify patterns and automatically trigger actions in response to the perceived situation. Having started as an ISP in Roubaix, France OVH has evolved to become a cloud service provider in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Finland.

In November BCN reported how it has launched a public cloud service in the UK with customisable security as protection against cyber attacks becomes a major selling point alongside open systems mobility. It recently expanded its offering into the US and Canada. It currently has 220,000 servers in 17 data centres but claims it will have opened 12 new data centres by 2018.

The new integration means that now companies can use OVH’s PaaS TimeSeries application programming interfaces to retrieve data. This frees companies from having to build and manage their own databases, it claims.

The integration and demo at CES will help companies to understand the entire value chain of the Internet of Things, according to OVH CEO Laurent Allard. “A turn-key system for storing and managing data and hosting business applications makes it much simpler, quicker and cheaper to get running with the IoT,” said Allard.

In other news, Sigfox has also announced a pilot programme with the French postal service company La Poste. The two companies are collaborating to invent a new of online postal.

The Domino programme aims to automate the ordering of parcel pickup and delivery via Sigfox’s IoT network. A regional rollout will start in the first half of 2016.

Oracle cloud sales boom but at what price?

Oracle plane However Oracle’s co-chief executive Safra Catz warned fiscal 2016 will be “a trough year for profitability as we move to the cloud.”

Oracle’s total revenues were down by 6% to $9.0 billion with the sales of ‘cloud plus on-premise software’ down 4% to $7.0 billion. Meanwhile, total cloud revenue has gone up in the last quarter by 26% (in US dollars) and Oracle made $649 million on pure cloud software. The two most successful categories of cloud software for Oracle have been SaaS and PaaS which accounted for $484 million, a rise of 34%. Cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) revenue was $165 million, a rise of 7%.

Expect the SaaS and PaaS revenue to grow by 50% in Q3 and 60% in Q4, said Catz. According to Oracle it won 100 Fusion Human Capital Management system contracts and over 300 Fusion Enterprise resource planning deals in the last quarter. Oracle said it is on target to sell and book more than $1.5 billion of new SaaS and PaaS business this fiscal year.

“We now have more than 1,500 ERP customers in the cloud, that’s at least ten times more ERP customers than Workday,” said Oracle’s other joint CEO, Mark Hurd. “It was a very strong growth quarter for our cloud business, with SaaS and PaaS bookings up 75% in constant currency and billings up 68% in U.S. dollars.”

Not everyone in Wall Street is convinced however. “While the company is showing some signs of cloud success, the meat and potatoes legacy database and app business is under major secular pressure,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives told MarketWatch.

Oracle’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.15 per share of outstanding common stock.

Cloud Foundry launches PaaS certification to combat vendor lock-in

Cloud computingTrade body the Cloud Foundry Foundation, has announced the industry’s first certification programme for platform as a service (PaaS) offerings as part of its drive to standardise the PaaS sector of cloud computing.

Cloud Foundry Certification aims to ensure all certified products use the same core Cloud Foundry software. Certification will be awarded to products and services that meet strict technical requirements outlined by the foundation’s technical governing body, it claims. Products called “Cloud Foundry” can only use that designation after meeting Cloud Foundry Certification standards. Products must re-certify every year.

The goal is to make applications work across any PaaS in a multi-vendor, multi-cloud environment. The first products to be tested for certification will be CenturyLink’s AppFog, HPE Helion Cloud Foundry, Huawei FusionStage, IBM Bluemix, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, SAP HANA Cloud Platform and Swisscom Application Cloud.

The standard is necessary because the first generation of cloud computing companies saved time and money by tying themselves to a single cloud provider such as Amazon or Google, according to Cloud Foundry CEO Sam Ramji. As the second generation of companies begins businesses want long term commitment and need an industry standard in order to regain control of their applications.

“Now that companies are regularly building new applications on their platforms they want broad standardisation across vendors,” said ESG Analyst Stephen Hendrick. Gartner research reports the PaaS market crossed the $4 billion mark this year and Wikibon Research predicts it will grow to $68.3 billion by 2026.

IDC predicts that by 2016, there will be an 11% shift In IT spending, with money being moved from traditional in-house IT delivery to the cloud and by 2017, 35% of new applications will use cloud-based as faster DevOps life cycles to streamline app production.

Cloud Foundry is collectively developed by 55 member companies in banking, telecoms, heavy industry, management consulting and large-scale computing vendors such as Pivotal, IBM, SAP, HPE, Intel, EMC, VMware, Cisco.

The platform is portable across Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, OpenStack and a range of data centre infrastructure.

Red Hat launches OpenShift Dedicated for enterprise public cloud

redhat office logoOpen source software vendor Red Hat has launched a new cloud service for enterprise IT and development teams who want help in braving the public cloud.

OpenShift Dedicated has the Docker container and Kubernetes orchestration technologies that were included in the recent OpenShift Enterprise 3.1 release. The new cloud service aims to build on OpenShift Online, Red Hat’s vehicle to help individual developers build, launch and host their own applications in a shared public cloud that it supports.

The new cloud service includes single-tenant isolation and a resource pool of 100GB SSD-based persistent storage, 48TB network Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS) and nine nodes for deploying container-based applications. It offers admin and security controls to let each customer customise and secure their cloud environment using virtual private networking and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) functions. Customers will also be able to use Red Hat’s JBoss Middleware from applications developed and deployed on OpenShift.

The new cloud service gives potential customer a third option for using Red Hat’s OpenShift Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering, it says. Clients can now choose between OpenShift Enterprise, OpenShift Online and the new OpenShift Dedicated cloud service.

OpenShift Enterprise is for those who want to manage their OpenShift instances on their choice of on-premise hardware or cloud provider. The Online option is for those who want to access OpenShift as a service in the public cloud. The third option, the new OpenShift Dedicated service, is for those who want to use Red Hat technology to deploy, manage and support their OpenShift instances running on AWS, it said.

The new option is for the increasing number of customers who want more control over the building and isolation process for their applications, but not complete responsibility for admin and operational management.

OpenShift Dedicated is globally available today for Red Hat customers in all AWS hosting regions, with support for other public cloud options expected in future.

Mendix targets technical debt avoidance with PaaS release

Mendix aPaaSApplication platform as a service (aPaaS) vendor Mendix has launched a new Application Quality Monitor service, in partnership with software quality advisor SIG. The cloud-based service will initially monitor the upkeep of Mendix applications.

Bimodal IT specialist Mendix claims to help companies create a two-tier service, combining the basic foundations of a reliable but conventional IT infrastructure with the option for ‘Mode 2 capabilities’ to provide better speed and agility. According to Mendix, many CIOs fail to pay enough attention to detail when implementing Mode 2, which can lead to mistake on refactoring and ballooning ‘technical debt’.

Technical debt is defined by researcher Gartner as the loose ends that need resolving and the refactoring required as a result of the development process. The debt may take many forms, from design debt, to documentation debt, to unused and duplicated code. Addressing technical debt will be one of the big challenges of the cloud, according to Gartner. A new genre of cloud vendors will be needed to ensure that software is well-designed, well-written and maintainable, it says.

“Anyone can go faster; the challenge is doing so sustainably,” says Gartner analyst Mary Mesaglio in an April report released by the firm.

The Mendix Application Quality Monitor performs a daily monitoring of software quality, improving maintainability and cutting lifecycle costs. The cloud service is powered by SIG, which performs a static analysis of Mendix application models according to ISO 25010 standard for maintainability. The analysis covers key aspects of the application such as the ability to analyse, modify and divide it into modules. It rates the applications on values such as volume, duplication, unit complexity and dependencies. A dashboard offers the quality rating on a scale from 1 to 5, and highlights potential areas for further investigation. The ratings are based on benchmarks of thousands of projects.

There’s a strong correlation between the cost and effort of handling issues and enhancements and the maintainability rating of an application, according to Joost Visser, head of research at SIG and Professor of Large Scale Software Systems at Radboud University. “Issue resolution time and enhancement effort increase exponentially for applications with lower ratings,” he said.

Cloud28+ promises to clear up the cloudy issues of compliance

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) claims its new Cloud28+ cloud service catalogue will simplify the search for compliant cloud services for European enterprises.

Cloud 28+ is a community of commercial and public sector organisations aimed at expanding cloud service adoption across Europe. The Cloud28+ catalogue, on the other hand, is a centralized enterprise app store which now lists 680 cloud services from 150 members across the range of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings. To date 1000 end user organisations have pre-registered to use the catalogue.

The matchmaking Cloud28+ service online catalogue, now on general availability, promises a broad range of benefits for European customers. It allows customers to specify data centre locations and providers, in accordance with local laws and business requirements. It will helps users to find cloud-native independent software vendors with whom they can partner and it will help companies market themselves more expansively by letting them publishing their own services in the catalogue. This could allow end user organisations to turn their IT teams into ‘revenue-generating engines’, claims HPE.

The main benefit of the Cloud28+ service catalogue, HPE claims, is that it gives open access to huge numbers of enterprise cloud services. This will help cloud buyers to compare the cloud market, on functional and non-functional criteria, including price, service level agreements and certification levels.

One of the main selling points of the system is that is makes it easier to comply with increasingly strict data protections laws in the EU, according to James Kinsella, founder of Zettabox a cloud storage and team sharing system and the latest addition to the Cloud28+ catalogue. “It’s a logical community for Zettabox to join, as its mission is to build a cohesive and collaborative cloud environment, for Europeans by Europeans,” said Kinsella.

The Cloud28+ technology framework is based on HPE Helion OpenStack. This will give it the portability of cloud services and eliminate vendor lock-in, said Xavier Poisson, Hybrid IT VP at HPE. “This is an important milestone on the journey to a European Digital Single Market,” said Poisson.

The overturning of the Safe Harbour agreement in European courts had tremendous implications for cloud service providers, according to one analyst. “It certainly makes services that comply with European data privacy requirements more attractive,” said William Fellows, analyst at 451 Research.

Autodesk launches $100m PaaS developer programme

Autodesk forge platformCAD software maker Autodesk has put $100m on the table and challenged developers create new cloud friendly design automation systems on its Forge development platform.

In an official statement on its web site Autodesk, famous for its AutoCAD computer aided design (CAD) system, explains that it wants the cloud-based Forge system to catalyse a change in the way products are designed made and used. The Forge scheme was announced at Autodesk University the company’s conference in Las Vegas.

The initiative consists of three major components, a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering, a developer programme and a $100 million investment fund.

The Forge Platform is a set of cloud services that span early stage design, engineering, visualization, collaboration, production and operations. It offers open application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) for developers wanting to build cloud powered apps and services. The Forge Developer Program provides training, resources and support and will host an inaugural Forge Developer Conference in June 2016. In addition to financial support for companies that quality for the developer fund, Autodesk will give business and technical support.

The logic of the scheme is that industrial production methods used to design, make and use products is changing and new technologies disrupt every aspect of the product lifecycle. This can make production risky, since investments are poured into the creation of a new product line only for the market to be destroyed by some other invention before the manufacturer can launch their products.

Cloud computing, by creating a more flexible fluid economies of design and manufacture, could help make CAD systems adapt to the new market conditions, according to Amar Hanspal, senior VP of Products at Autodesk. “Autodesk is launching Forge to help developers build new businesses in the changing manufacturing landscape,” said Hanspal, “we are inviting innovators to take advantage of Autodesk’s cloud platform to build services that turn today’s disconnected technologies into highly connected, personalised experiences.”

Autodesk itself has evolved as the manufacturing changed. It started by creating computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software, which was used by engineers to create parts on screen before manufacturing them. However, in later years it has evolved into product lifecycle management (PLM) systems and offers services such as simulation and modelling. It has taken on a stronger mobile and cloud focus with offerings such as AutoCAD 360, a mobile companion to AutoCAD that engineers can use to call up blueprints while away from their desks.