Category Archives: Vendor

Cisco boosts SDN range with ACI update

Cisco corporateCisco claims that customers can take a further step towards network automation as it launched a new release of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) software to its software defined networking range.

Despite massive demand there are only 5% of networks being automated, according to Cisco’s own customer feedback. In response it has moved to simplify the task by making it easier to address all the various autonomous segments of any complicated network infrastructure.

The new software revision of ACI makes it capable of microsegmentation of both physical (i.e. bare metal) applications and virtualized applications, which are separated from the hardware by virtual operating systems such as VMware VDS and Microsoft Hyper-V. By extending ACI across multi-site environments it will enable cloud operators and network managers to devise policy-driven automation of multiple data centres.

In addition, Cisco claimed it has paved the way for integration with Docker containers through its contributions to open source. This, it said, means customers can get a consistent policy model and have more options to choose from when using the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC).

ACI now supports automated service insertion for any third party service running between layers four and seven on the network stack, it said. More support will be put behind cloud automation tools like VMware vRealize Automation and OpenStack, including open standards-based Opflex support with Open vSwitch (OVS).

The ACI ecosystem now makes the automation of entire application suites possible, including Platform as a Service (PAAS) and Software as a Service (SAAS) and there are now over 5000 Nexus 9000 ACI-ready customers using Cisco’s open platform it said.

“Customers tell me that only five to ten percent of their networks are automated today,” said Soni Jiandani, SVP at Cisco. Though they are eager to adopt comprehensive automation for their networks and network services through a single pane of management, they haven’t managed it yet. However, since several ACI customers have achieved full this could be the next step, said Jiandani.

Amazon Pop-up Loft programme to give start ups free web service training

amazon awsThe Amazon Web Services (AWS) Pop-up Loft programme has extended to London, with the opening of dedicated office space where start ups can get free support from cloud computing experts.

The Fore Street offices, close to the city of London, will be open until the end of October with the intention of bringing together developers, engineers, entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts. AWS is offering personal help and guidance from a range of experts from both AWS and its partners, with the intention of encouraging entrepreneurs to build new systems on AWS or create their own startups. Once registered, visitors can participate in training courses, boot camps, self-paced labs, seminars or networking events.

The programme will feature a number of educational strands for would-be developers. Under the Ask an Architect initiative, AWS users can book appointment for a one to one meeting with an AWS systems expert to discuss technical questions about their AWS architecture, AWS features and cost optimization. The AWS Technical Bootcamps will be free one day training sessions run by experienced AWS instructors and systems designers, with the aim of giving delegates hands-on experience using a live environment with the AWS Management Console.

The free technical sessions are designed to cover development areas in which experienced instructors are rare in the cloud industry, such as mobile and gaming, databases, big data, compute and networking, architecture, operations, and security. AWS customers, partners and industrialists will also host evening sessions to share their experiences.

Startups will also get the chance to hear from customers, venture capitalists and incubators. Experts in venture capital, from Seedcamp and Techstars, will be on had to offer funding and business development guidance.

Intel, a supporter of the programme, will host talks and demonstrate new advances in Xeon processors and the Internet of Things. IT automation company Chef will advise on development operations.

Pop-up Loft London is the third initiative in the programme after previous events in San Francisco and New York as AWS aims to help local startups to grow their businesses using its cloud services.  Two thirds of the UK’s startups with valuations of over a billion dollars, including Skyscanner, JustEat, Powa, Fanduel and Shazam, now use AWS to run their services, Amazon claims.

“We’re bringing some of the brightest and most creative minds in the industry to help startups across the UK,” said Amazon CTO Werner Vogels.

Ciber machine will convert Cobol into cloud ready code

Legacy code is keeping enterprises from migrating to the cloud

Legacy code is keeping enterprises from migrating to the cloud

Service provider Ciber claims it has solved one of the most expensive problems in business: upgrading legacy systems to make them secure and cloud friendly.

Its new system, Ciber Momentum, converts the code from languages such as Cobol, Ada and Pascal into a more cloud-ready format. By automating the conversion of machine code into a modern format, the Momentum system creates massive time and money savings on projects that can take up to three years if conducted using human resources, according to Ciber.

Gartner research estimates that companies spend 70 per cent of their IT budget on maintaining existing systems, Ciber claims, leaving only 30 per cent available for new projects. This is because few of the programmers familiar with the languages used to create legacy applications are available for work today.

This means that Cobol writers, for example, are three times as expensive to hire as modern developers and, with few hiring options, companies find it difficult to dictate terms.

Since the conversion of a trading system written in Cobol can take years, this is creating a crippling expense and leaving companies vulnerable to competition from cloud based start ups that can move much faster, Ciber claims. Legacy apps are not only inflexible, they are more likely to be a security liability, said Michael Boustridge, president and chief executive of Ciber.

“Most of the time companies get hacked, the criminals are exploiting vulnerabilities of an old system,” said Boustridge, “legacy computers are not secure.”

Boustridge said Ciber intends to reverse the formula for the industry, so that CIOs will be able to spend 70 per cent of their budgets on new projects and only 30 per cent on maintenance.

The fast-track to the cloud can only be 80 to 85 per cent software generated as some human checking and balancing will be necessary. However, Boustridge claimed that conversion project times will be halved.

The automated system will also uncover any anomalies in legacy coding. These logical inconsistencies were often created by programmers who were notorious for over complicating systems in order to inflate their value to their employers, according to Boustridge. “Anything in the old code that doesn’t add up will be exposed,” said Boustridge.

The system, now on global release, will be available for partners to white label and offer as part of their own client service.

Intel partners with OHSU in using cloud, big data to cure cancer

Intel is working with the OHSU to develop a secure, federate cloud service for healthcare practitioners treating cancer

Intel is working with the OHSU to develop a secure, federate cloud service for healthcare practitioners treating cancer

Intel is testing a cloud-based platform as a service in conjunction with the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) that can help diagnose and treat individuals for cancer based on their genetic pre-dispositions.

The organisations want to develop a cloud service that can be used by healthcare practitioners to soak up a range of data including genetic information, data about a patient’s environment and lifestyle to deliver tailored cancer treatment plans quickly to those in need.

“The Collaborative Cancer Cloud is a precision medicine analytics platform that allows institutions to securely share patient genomic, imaging and clinical data for potentially lifesaving discoveries. It will enable large amounts of data from sites all around the world to be analyzed in a distributed way, while preserving the privacy and security of that patient data at each site,” explained Eric Dishman director of proactive health research at Intel.

“The end goal is to empower researchers and doctors to help patients receive a diagnosis based on their genome and potentially arm clinicians with the data needed for a targeted treatment plan. By 2020, we envision this happening in 24 hours — All in One Day. The focus is to help cancer centres worldwide—and eventually centers for other diseases—securely share their private clinical and research data with one another to generate larger datasets to benefit research and inform the specific treatment of their individual patients.”

Initially, Intel and the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) will launch the Collaborative Cancer Cloud, but the organisations expect two more institutions will be on board by 2016.

From there, Intel said, the organisations hope to federate the cloud service with other healthcare service providers, and open it up for use to treat other diseases like Alzheimer’s.

“In the same timeframe, we also intend to deliver open source code contributions to ensure the broadest developer base possible is working on delivering interoperable solutions. Open sourcing this code will drive both interoperability across different clouds, and allow analytics across a broader set of data – resulting in better insights for personalized care,” Dishman said.

Fujitsu, Red Hat partner on OpenStack-based private clouds

Red Hat and Fujitsu are partnering to develop OpenStack converged infrastructure solutions

Red Hat and Fujitsu are partnering to develop OpenStack converged infrastructure solutions

Fujitsu and Red Hat have jointly developed a dedicated solution to simplify the creation of OpenStack private clouds.

The Primeflex is a converged compute and storage combines Fujitsu’s server technology with Red Hat OpenStack and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform software, and backed by Fujitsu’s professional services outfit.

The companies said the OpenStack-based converged offering will speed up cloud deployment.

Harald Bernreuther, director global infrastructure solutions at Fujitsu said: “Primeflex for Red Hat OpenStack can underpin any organisation’s plan to transform their business model by leveraging cloud computing. By opting for an OpenStack-based solution, organisations can run new cloud-scale workloads while also optimising costs.

“Primeflex for Red Hat OpenStack extends the philosophy of cost optimisation, through simplifying system maintenance and consolidating technology updates across the entire system stack, all the way from the underlying hardware through to the operating system,” Bernreuther said.

Red Hat said there is value in driving strong integration between software and hardware in the cloud space.

“OpenStack is a rapidly-growing, open source cloud infrastructure platform that is cost-effective, open, flexible and highly scalable,” said Radhesh Balakrishnan, general manager, OpenStack, Red Hat.

“We are excited about Fujitsu’s offering based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform to deliver private cloud infrastructure solutions and we look forward to continuing the collaboration to provide customers with an innovative cloud platform for digital business initiatives,” he said.

Red Hat isn’t the only OpenStack vendor boosting its converged infrastructure strategy as of late. In July Mirantis unveiled plans to work with a range of vendors, initially Dell and Juniper, to deliver OpenStack-based converged infrastructure solutions for enterprises.

Symantec to sell IM business Vertias for $8.9bn

Symantec is selling its IM business to an investor consoritum

Symantec is selling its IM business to an investor consoritum and refocusing on security

Digital security heavyweight Symantec announced this week it would sell its information management business, Veritas, to a group led by The Carlyle Group together with GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, for a total of $8.3bn.

The move confirms Symantec will continue to focus on security following the announcement last October that the company would split in two, with its IM business and security business going separate ways.

“Since the Board first announced the separation of Veritas, we have been preparing the company to operate independently and evolving our business strategy, while continuing to deliver industry-leading solutions to our customers. We are thrilled to partner with The Carlyle Group and GIC, which have a strong track record of successfully growing businesses and share our dedication to Veritas’ strategy and success,” said John Gannon, Symantec executive vice president and Veritas general manager.

“Veritas will continue to provide next-generation information management solutions to serve the world’s largest and most complex environments, including multiple cloud deployments, managed services and on-premise infrastructure,” Gannon said.

Symantec expects to receive $6.3bn in cash for Veritas, and has authorized a $1.5bn increase to its existing share repurchase program, bringing the total to $2.6 billion, yielding a total of $8.9bn from the sale. Veritas was originally acquired by Symantec for $13.5bn in 2005.

Michael A. Brown, Symantec president and chief executive said: “This transaction strengthens our financial foundation, paving the way for Symantec to grow its security business and increase its lead as the world’s largest cybersecurity company. We believe the agreement with the investors, including The Carlyle Group and GIC, delivers an attractive and certain value for the Veritas business, and is in the best interests of all stakeholders.”

The divestment isn’t terribly surprising giving Symantec’s messaging at the tail end of last year. Upon announcing the company would split Brown said its security and IM businesses each face unique market opportunities and challenges.

“It has become clear that winning in both security and information management requires distinct strategies, focused investments and go-to market innovation,” he said at the time.

Now it seems Symentec is refocusing exclusively on security, and said the sale would give it a much needed cash influx to help it fund both organic and inorganic growth through targeted acquisitions.

Edge Up Sports taps IBM Watson to give fantasy football a cognitive computing boost

Edge Up is using Watson to improve fantasy football decision-making

Edge Up is using Watson to improve fantasy football decision-making

Fantasy football analytics provider Edge Up Sports is partnering with IBM to deploy a Watson-based service that helps users manage the performance of their teams.

Edge Up, which will launch alongside the upcoming NFL season, bills itself as a one-stop shop of insights for users to supplement their current fantasy platforms, providing analysis of additional information like NFL players’ Twitter activity and coach statistics.

The company has enlisted IBM’s Watson-as-a-Service to bring some of the platform’s cognitive capabilities to bear on some of the more nuanced elements involved in how a team performs, like the emotional preparedness of a team, or how well players sustain hits on the field.

“Edge Up grabs vast amounts of available NFL data, and with the help of Watson, team general managers are able to make informed decisions and adjustments to their fantasy football roster picks,” said Edge Up Sports chief executive Illya Tabakh.

“By leveraging Watson technologies, we’re excited to be able to transform the way fantasy football is played, and provide a platform that is assisting team owners with the necessary analysis and insights that could increase their chances in winning their league.”

The companies said combining more data points and automating the analysis of how teams performance will help reduce the amount of time users need to spend on fantasy football decision-making.

“The purpose of opening up IBM Watson capabilities to our Ecosystem Partners via an open developer platform is to accelerate creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, and Edge Up Sports is a perfect example,” said Lauri Saft, vice president, IBM Watson.

Infor buys GT Nexus to strengthen manufacturing ERP cloud

Infor has acquired GT Nexus to boost its supply chain management capabilities

Infor has acquired GT Nexus to boost its supply chain management capabilities

Infor said this week it plans to acquire supply chain management cloud software vendor for $675m, a move the company expects will strengthen and broaden the capabilities of its ERP software.

GT Nexus’ cloud-based supply chain management software is particularly popular with manufacturer and retailers. The company claims to have over 25,000 customers including the likes of Adidas Group, Caterpillar, Columbia Sportswear, Levi Strauss & Co., Maersk, Pfizer, and UPS.

Infor said the acquisition would strengthen its portfolio as the retail industry continues to shift towards contract-based manufacturing, where much of the activity and commercial production takes place outside the brand owner’s operations (and ERP platform).

The company said GT Nexus and Infor CloudSuite have very similar architectures, making them relateively straightforward to integrate.

“Together, Infor and GT Nexus will provide customers with unprecedented visibility into their supply chains to manage production and monitor goods in transit and at rest,” said Charles Phillips, chief executive of Infor. “In a complex, high velocity supply chain, all partners need to know what was ordered, when it was built, where it is in transit, if the order has changed, and has it cleared customs. Specialization and speed are moving the future of manufacturing into the commerce cloud.”

Sean Feeney, chief executive of GT Nexus said: “Infor is a great home for GT Nexus, and we’re excited to join forces with a company with a strong manufacturing, retail, and supply chain pedigree.”

Hootsuite, IBM strike cloud deal

IBM and Hootsuite are teaming up on social media skills development

IBM and Hootsuite are teaming up on social media skills development

Hootsuite will deploy its App Directory service on SoftLayer infrastructure, the companies announced this week. The two companies also intend to team up to create a university programme aimed at fostering social media analysis skills development.

The social media tool provider has previously teamed up with IBM in the past – it integrated IBM’s marketing automation service, Silverpop, with App Directory – but the latest deal will see Hootsuite move its service onto SoftLayer’s IaaS.

“IBM Cloud offers high performance, granular control and flexibility. When you couple that with its globally integrated footprint, we will have the ability to move data between datacentres efficiently which will provide resiliency, flexibility and control,” said Aaron Budge, vice president of operations and IT at Hootsuite.

“We have had a great relationship with IBM for more than two years and are excited about expanding our relationship with new product integrations and the ability to leverage IBM technology,” Budge said.

The two companies are also joining forces to develop a no-charge university program that pairs IBM’s Academic Initiative with Hootsuite’s Higher Education Program, which blends analytics and cloud training with social media skill development. The move will see the two companies offer students and faculty at participating universities access to IBM and Hootsuite technical experts and technology.

“The partnership between IBM and Hootsuite will blend analytics and social technologies to provide students and professionals the skills they need for social marketing,” said Randy Hlavac, a lecturer at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and a member of IBM’s Academic Initiative.

“Utilizing IBM Cloud and Analytic solutions, students are able to gain deep market knowledge. The Hootsuite tools will utilize this insight and allow students to test messaging immediately and deliver the most engaging content globally,” Hlavac said.

Google creates Alphabet to address bloat, heterogeneity

Google's holding company is intended to help it more effectively manage a growing and increasingly broad set of businesses

Google’s holding company is intended to help it more effectively manage a growing and increasingly broad set of businesses

Google has taken the decision to form a new holding company, Alphabet, of which its biggest component will be Google with its internet and cloud services. The move is likely to appeal to investors who don’t want expensive experiments and general sprawl bringing down its share price.

The company’s chief executive Larry Page revealed the news in a blog post this week.

“We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes. But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.”

“Our company is operating well today, but we think we can make it cleaner and more accountable. So we are creating a new company, called Alphabet. I am really excited to be running Alphabet as CEO with help from my capable partner, Sergey, as President.”

Alphabet is a holding company that will include Google, the largest of its components, which will retain the internet-centric services it provides (including YouTube, Search, Maps, and its cloud services). But its other projects and divisions including Nest, Google X, Research, Fibre, and it venture capital arms (Ventures and Capital) will be spun out and operate under the broader Alphabet umbrella.

Page will serve as chief executive of Alphabet and Sergey Brin as its president. Sundar Pichai, who has led product development and engineering efforts for its internet businesses, will be bumped up to lead Google as chief executive.

“This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main Internet products contained in Alphabet instead.”

“Fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related. Alphabet is about businesses prospering through strong leaders and independence. In general, our model is to have a strong CEO who runs each business, with Sergey and me in service to them as needed. We will rigorously handle capital allocation and work to make sure each business is executing well.”