Category: Products

Companies reject cloud for fog

Fog.PNGEnterprise CIOs are starting to twig that the cloud is not all it is cracked up to be and are looking at a new buzzword – the Fog –  instead.

One of the problems with the cloud is that many of the services and apps, and data used in critical decision-making are better kept on premise or in smaller enterprise data centres. Cloud goes against the demand for mobility too as the data needs to be kept closer to the machine.

Now Cisco, Dell, Microsoft, Intel and ARM, as well as researchers at Princeton University, are betting that the future of enterprise computing will be a hybrid model where information, applications and services are split between the cloud and the fog. Cisco came up with the name “fog computing” you can probably tell.

Cloud based data centres are huge and are working ok for now. But when, and if the IoT appears on the scene things are going to get messy.

When everything from cars and drones to video cameras and home appliances are transmitting enormous amounts of data from trillions of sensors, network traffic will grow exponentially. Real-time services that require split-second response times or location-awareness for accurate decision-making will need to be deployed closer to the edge to be useful, something which would cause the cloud to break.

The only thing which will save the cloud really is increased technology,  or coming up with a hybrid approach to data. That will enable distributed fog networks in enterprise data centres, around cities, in vehicles, in homes and neighbourhoods, and even on your person via wearable devices and sensors.

If this sounds like the old “distributed computing” over “Centralised computing” debate which happened as the Internet was starting to arrive, it pretty much is. What Cisco is suggesting is incredibly complex networks.

IBM announces blockchain services for cloud

grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloudBig Blue has  announced new services to help companies design and develop blockchain technology in a secure environment in the cloud.

Blockchain is the tech behind bitcoin and does a shedloads of functions such as recording and verifying transactions. The big idea is that the it can create cost-efficient business networks without requiring central control.

Jerry Cuomo, vice president, Blockchain at IBM, said in a statement that the only problem with blockchain is concerns about security.

“While there is a sense of urgency to pioneer blockchain for business, most organisations need help to define the ideal cloud environment that enables blockchain networks to run securely in the cloud,” he said.

IBM said it is addressing security problems in several ways, including cloud services with the highest Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS 140-2) and Evaluation Assurance Levels (EAL) in the industry to support the use of blockchain in government, financial services and healthcare.

The technology company also announced the opening of an IBM “Garage” in New York and London. These “garages” are similar to research labs on the blockchain created by several major financial institutions over the past year. IBM’s garages are dedicated to helping clients design and develop their blockchain networks, said Cuomo.

Garages in Tokyo, London and Singapore will also open in the coming weeks to let customers talk to IBM experts on the design and implementation of blockchain for business.

Dell starts IoT partner programme

michael-dell-2Tin Box shifter Michael Dell has started an IoT solutions partner programme designed to make it easier for partners to identify themselves as specialists in this area.

The vendor is contacting providers to encourage them to use its technology in their offerings to provide more features, including security and data analytics.

Dell has been listing the tech it provides for intelligent gateways, embedded PCs, security, manageability tools, data center and cloud infrastructure and data analytic tools. It also is building ‘use case blueprints’ that will make it easier for partners to deploy IoT gear.

The IoT partner programme has three tiers – executive, associate and registered.

Registered partners might be doing enough to get the public backing of Dell but do not have enough experience to get the sort of recommendation other tiers. Associates can deliver more differentiated and proven solutions when compared to the registered level. Executives are those that have a stand out proposition and are seen as ‘best in class’ with a proven ability to deliver.

The IoT partner programme includes working with firms including GE, SAP, Software AG, Microsoft, OSIsoft and others.

Dell also stressed that it would continue to build relationships with systems integrators that have vertical expertise.

 

HPE updates ProLiant Gen9 server portfolio

ML350_Gen9_rack_Bezel_FTThe outfit formally known as HP, HPE, has told its partners that it has updated its enterprise workhorse ProLiant Gen9 server portfolio.

HPE’s Gen9 ProLiant DL360 and DL380 servers will get Intel’s newest Broadwell processor as well as its new persistent memory technology, which allows the server’s memory to serve as a high-performance storage tier.

The new servers also include new management, security and storage capabilities aimed at helping customers tie on-premise data center infrastructures to the cloud for running mission-critical applications.

The refresh should help channel partners make their presence felt in the server market. Over the last six months HPE has flat out improving its visabily after being eclipsed by Cisco UCS and VCE .

The updated ProLiant DL360 and ProLiant DL380 servers are based on Intel’s new Xeon E5-2600 v4 processors and come with a significant boost in performance boost.

Persistent memory is another buzzword.  It brings together standard DRAM along with NAND flash memory and a micro controller with an integrated battery on a module that fits in a standard memory slot. This means it can deliver the performance levels you see with DRAM in storeage.

Thin clients are thin on the ground

skeleton-woman-615While thin client set ups have been touted as the “next big thing” for nearly two decades, it would appear that no-one can make cash from them.

Bean counters at IDC said that the market leaders HP and Dell suffered double-digit shipment drops last year. Apparently companies are walking away from, or cancelling their thin-client projects. Ironically mostly before the poor economic climate, thin clients were touted as a cost-saving measure.

Thin client projects are being canned or postponed in the face of the faltering economic climate and reduced public budgets, IDC said as it warned that shipments in the sector shrank last year.

According to IDC, thin and terminal-client shipments fell 6.9 per cent to 5.08 million in 2015, with market leaders Dell and HP enduring double-digit drops.

To be fair it is not all doom. Thin-clients did better than PCs which fell 10.6 per cent last year.  IDC insists that the outlook for thin clients and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) remains favourable, although people have been saying that since networking became a thing.

Jay Chou, research manager, worldwide enterprise client device trackers at IDC said that while there was a certain amount of slowdown expected as many organisations had just refreshed their systems a year or two ago, the extent of economic and currency-related issues had a definite impact in the budget and timeline of other projects which were supposed to be in the pipeline.

“Nonetheless, awareness around VDI continues to improve, and IDC does expect an improved outlook ahead, especially as companies begin to think about moving beyond Windows 7.”

While the PC market may be consolidating into the hands of fewer players, the same cannot be said of thin clients, where market leaders Dell and HP lost market share hand over fist during the year.

The US duo’s collective share of thin-client shipments fell from 55.1 to 50.6 per cent between 2014 and 2015, with Dell seeing shipments drop 13.8 per cent and HP suffering a 15 per cent fall, IDC said.

NComputing came third as its shipments rose 12.8 per cent to 518,000, IDC said.

BT wins big Boots contract

boots_1419530bBT has won a big contract to provide the underling infrastructure for Boots as it prepares to push forward with an ‘omni-channel’ strategy.

Boots has contracted BT to overhaul its IT infrastructure in the UK and the rest of Europe as part of a wider digital transformation. It wants to get better at omni-channel retailing, it thinks that is where the money is.

The high street retailer will soon be bringing in more ways for customers to interact with the brand online and in-store. And new voice and communications technologies for staff will also be introduced.

Boots has a lot more network requirements and a lot more bandwidth requirements – with that goes resilience.

“If you become dependent on digital tools in-store, you don’t want those things to be unavailable.”

BT will roll out dedicated fibre Ethernet services and copper-based networks to flagship stores, improve internal systems, and shops will have a “future-ready” network to adapt to new technologies. This should also speed up in-store processing time for pharmacy orders, stock replenishment and booking appointments.

Currently the outfit has a lots of different legacy systems – in data, in data centres, networking and other infrastructure. So the company was after a way to centralise network services in one place, in a way that was better for security and application control.

It is also an early adopter of BT Connect Intelligence IWAN. It’s a managed service that allows for automatic routing and optimisation of network traffic, and the intention is to provide more visibility on applications performance.

Boots tried several contractors but BT came out on top in terms of reliability and for its innovations like IWAN. It was also a good deal money wise.

 

Cisco unveils DNA

DNA_000046710792_640Networking outfit Cisco is launching of an extensible and software driven architecture for digital business solution, Digital Network Architecture (DNA).

Cisco DNA is part of the company’s datacentre based Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) technology by extending the policy driven approach and software strategy throughout the entire network.

Cisco enterprise products and solutions senior vice-president, Rob Soderbery, said this extends it from campus to branch, wired to wireless, and core to edge.

Cisco DNA is part of the Cisco ONETM Software family which his supposed to simplify software-based licensing, and helping with investment protection and flexibility.

Soderbery said that Cisco DNA was built on the principal of virtualising everything that moves to allow organisations freedom to run any service anywhere, independent of the underlying platform – physical or virtual, on premise or in the Cloud.

DNA is designed for automation to make networks and services on those networks easy to deploy, manage and maintain, fundamentally changing the approach to network management.  It also has pervasive analytics to provide insights on the operation of the network, IT infrastructure and the business.

He said service management can be delivered from the Cloud to unify policy and orchestration across the network.

It also integrates Cisco and third party technology, open APIs, and a developer platform to support an ecosystem of network-enabled applications

Dell adds security add-on service

michael-dell-2Tin box shifter Dell has announced an add-on service to its SonicWALL firewall product.

The cloud offering, called the SonicWALL Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) Service analysies files and traffic for threats using three filter engines.

These engines are the VMRay third-generation Analyzer, Lastline Breach Detection platform and the Dell SonicWALL Sonic Sandbox.

Dell thinks that, combined, they deliver better protection against the growing prevalence of zero-day attacks which are designed to evade sandboxes like badly behaved kittens.

In addition to having multiple analysis engines, the solution has hypervisor-level analysis and full-system emulation.

Dell’s system sends suspicious files to the cloud for analysis and there is no limit on the file size so it can capture a lot of malware in its net. Once a threat has been detected, Dell sends remediation signatures through its existing solutions.

Dell thinks that it can block malware at the gateway, and provide a much more effective protection of the network.

The Dell SonicWALL Capture ATP Service solution is currently available as a beta and will be available for purchase “by mid-year 2016.”

EU gives its cloud to BT, IBM, Accenture and Atos

Eu-flag-vector-material2The European Commission has announced BT, IBM, Accenture and Atos will get most of the contracts to supply its new cloud services.

Contracts were broken out into three “lots,” covering a private cloud setup, public cloud setup, and platform-as-a-service, for which it will pay $38.5 million.
The whole lot will be platformed by Telecom Italia which is a bit unfortunate. That outfit is under resourced and its mobile arm TIM just adopted the iChing hexagram for “standing still” as its logo.waiting

It is unusual that Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Amazon and none of the other big cloud outfits managed to get their paws on the EU’s clouds.

The Commission said that all the systems will be physically located within the European Union, the Commission noted, “to be compliant with EU data handling requirements” basically it means that the US will not be able to steal it.

According to the announcement, the contract will “enable the Commission to follow the ceaseless pace of today’s technological race.”

The EU hopes that use of cloud services will help it come up with future improvements to how it works, such as using “Big Data.”

The private cloud service will provide computing and storage facilities through a private network link connected to the EC’s data centres, and will be hosted by a single provider. The public cloud infrastructure will be run over the public internet. And the public platform-as-a-service will include both operating systems and database services run over the cloud.

The first cloud services should appear this year.

Oracle predicts explosion of born-in-the-cloud partners

oracleOracle has claimed that the launch of its new Cloud Programme will see an “explosion” of born-in-the-cloud partners coming to the firm.

Dubbed the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN), the programme has launched yesterday and is Oracle’s first cloud-focused partner scheme.

There are four accreditations: Cloud Standard, Cloud Select, Cloud Premier and Cloud Elite.

Cloud Standard requires partners to have a certain cloud specialisation and the benefits are focused on moving these partners to the next level, Cloud Select.

Cloud Select has a $2m cloud-revenue requirement and partners have to designate sales and marketing resources. The benefits of this level include MDF funds, Oracle’s cloud discounts and more visibility at Oracle cloud events.

The Cloud Premier level has a $6m cloud-revenue requirement and partners must have hired number of certified cloud specialists. The benefits include dedicated account managers, sales training and enhanced partner visibility.

The Cloud Elite has a $20m cloud-revenue requirement and for the Global Cloud Elite level this rises to $40m. The benefits include increased go-to-market support with free cloud environments for development tests and demos.

Oracle hopes the programme would help migrate existing partners and attract new types of channel players. It thinks that it opens the partner programme up to the regional “born-in-the-cloud digital natives” that have ruled out Oracle because it did not really fit into their structure.

These cloud resellers are often focused on the mid-market which is not an area Oracle has been involved. Oracle’s not having a cloud programme. But with the OPN programme, and Oracle’s drive into the mid-market, he expects to see a flurry of this new type of partner coming to the vendor.
Oracle has more than 800 UK partners and when asked how many more resellers it wants to recruit more with its new OPN programme.

Microsoft changes Enterprise Agreement volume licensing deals

Microsoft campusSoftware King of the World Microsoft’s cunning plan to develop ‘one volume licence agreement to rule them’ starts with a new change to its Enterprise Agreement minimums, takes effect July 1, 2016.

The move is to try and simplify Vole’s Byzantine style licensing. According to what Vole is telling resellers, on July 1, 2016 business users who want to go the Enterprise Agreement approach will face a minimum requirement of 500 users or devices, rather than the current 250.

Those who want fewer than 500 devices/users will be steered to the Microsoft Product and Services Agreement (MPSA) and Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) programmes.

The MPSA software/services licence appeared in 2014 and CSP shortly thereafter. Microsoft currently trying to kill off its Select Plus volume license agreement.

Microsoft wants customers to be able to manage their various licensing agreements with the company so that it feels like they only have one.

Vole says that it does not want anyone to have to buy something they don’t need and it wants to have one place where customers could see all their purchases.

Microsoft’s ultimate goal is to get all customers to use MPSA and CSP for their licensing.

Microsoft has seen the composition of its business-customer licensing deals shifting. In fiscal 2015, more than half were for online services only, with no enterprise-wide coverage requirement,

Worldwide Licensing and Pricing. MPSA and CSP are more suited toward addressing these kinds of scenarios, he said.

Cisco releases new tool in cloudy push

Cisco Kid Desperate to provide a better cloud package, Cisco has released a new monitoring tool.

On the face of it Cloud Consumption as a Service, which monitors how employees use third-party software is a bit of a yawn, however it could make Cisco a little more useful to its partners who can flog it on the basis that it will solve a lot of complicated regulations around the privacy of data.

It  helps companies manage software employees might download and use independently, for example email programs like Google’s Gmail or file-storage services like Dropbox.

While the services, which IT professionals dub “shadow IT,” provide convenience for employees, they can create headaches if they expose vulnerability to malware attacks, eat up bandwidth, or fail to comply with laws.

Shadow IT is creating a growing corporate challenge. Most companies with over 5,000 employees estimate around 90 such services are deployed around their computer infrastructure, but the actual number is typically over 1,200, according to Cisco executive Bob Dimicco.

Of those, more than 40 fall in the high-risk category.

Cisco plans to bill monthly at a cost of $1-$2 per employee, will help Cisco expand its offerings in the fast-growing business area of cloud services.

Cisco  has been trying to beef up its offerings catering to the increasingly Internet-based technology culture at many companies. It has introduced products like Cisco Meraki, which controls routing and security over the Internet, and Cisco WebEx, which offers Internet-based video conferencing and similar products.

Many companies, including Cloudability, Netskope and Skyhigh, offer services similar to Cisco’s cloud consumption service, but Cisco says its product goes beyond the others because it offers more details on usage and about each individual third-party app provider, such as if it complies with relevant regulations.

 

 

Oracle adds auto-update

oracleOracle has announced the release and general availability of the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) 4 for the Oracle Linux operating system.

The move is an important selling point for Oracle partners because they can pitch performance improvements and enhancements for some essential components.

Real-time kernel patching was one of the most requested features by Oracle Linux customers and is  possible thanks to the Ksplice open-source extension of the Linux kernel 4 branch,. This lets users apply patches to the running kernel without the need to reboot the system, thus improving security and simplifying the management of cloud infrastructures.

Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 4 is now available for the Oracle Enterprise Linux 6 and Oracle Enterprise Linux 7 series of operating systems based on Red Hat’s RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) OS.

“The Oracle Linux team is pleased to announce the general availability of the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) Release 4 for Oracle Linux 6 and Oracle Linux 7. This release, based on the 4.1 mainline kernel, delivers many important new features and enhancements engineered for modern cloud infrastructure,” said Michele Casey.

The update includes CPU schedulers and Automatic NUMA Balancing, along with powerful new features, such as real-time kernel patching.

Oracle boosted the security of its Oracle Enterprise Linux systems, as well as to the hosted apps, by implementing features like a new random number system call, kernel address space randomization, and updates for the SELinux, SHA512, SHA256, and nftables programs.

There are also new real-time kernel features like timerless (tickless) multitasking and deadline scheduling class, support for Firefly-based Ceph Storage for Oracle Linux Release 1.0, Oracle Linux DTrace improvements, and better InfiniBand support. Moreover, there are updates to the Btrfs, EXT4, XFS, NFS, FUSE and OverlafFS filesystem, as well as updated drivers to support new hardware.

Microsoft moves server software to per-core licensing

microsoft-in-chinaMicrosoft seems set to move its Windows Server 2016 to a per-core licensing system.

Windows Server will not arrive until the second half of next year, but Vole will probably change the way it licenses its server operating system.  Currently Microsoft uses a per socket licensing system, but now it wants to charge per core.

Windows Server 2012’s two main editions, Standard and Datacenter, had identical features, and differed only in terms of the number of virtual operating system instances they supported. Standard supported two virtual machines while the Datacenter product was unlimited. Licenses for both editions were sold in two socket units and a license was needed for each pair of sockets a system contained.

What appears to be happening with Windows Server 2016 is that this simple system is going to become more complex. There will be functional differences between Standard and Datacenter editions. Datacenter will gain additional storage replication capabilities, a new network stack with richer virtualisation options, and shielded virtual machines that protect the content of a virtual machine from the administrator of the host operating system.

More significant is that 2016 will use a two core pack, with the licence cost of each 2016 pack being 1/8th the price of the corresponding two socket pack for 2012. Each system running Windows Server 2016 must have a minimum of eight cores per processor, and a minimum of 16 cores per system.

In most cases with systems with up to four processors and up to eight cores per processor, this won’t change the overall licensing cost. But for heavier multi-processing and core use the prices will increase. Two or four processors with 10 cores per processor will cost 25 percent more to run Windows Server 2016 than they did 2012.

Those who know the black art which is Microsoft’s licensing will realise that this brings Windows Server’s licensing in line with SQL Server’s.  SQL Server has been using a per core model since 2014. BizTalk has been using the model since 2013. Azure is also licensed on the basis of virtual machine cores, rather than sockets.

What Microsoft appears to be doing is adapting its licencing to increased  processor core counts and a marked reduction of high socket count systems.

Some customers are going to lose money on the move, particularly those who are unfortunate enough to have Software Assurance agreements that cover systems that were licensed using 2012’s socket-based scheme.

Cisco leans on programmable networks

Cisco Kid Cisco updated its IOS XR network operating system while adding three additional routers to its portfolio as part of a drive to programmable networks.

Greg Smith, head of service provider marketing for Cisco said that rather than asking service providers to build their own programmable networks, Cisco via its IOS XR is committed to delivering those capabilities as a core part of the operating system.

He said service providers would rather buy these capabilities than build it themselves.

The Cisco network initiative is centred on a set of APIs which model data traveling across the network. There is also a software development kit that service providers can use to more easily expose network services to developers and their customers.

Cisco expects service providers to use these tools to create self-service portals through which end customers can provision network services in minutes instead of the several weeks.

Developers could use them to build applications that use those network services through the APIs that Cisco is releasing in its operating system and the announced software-defined Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) networking architecture.

Smith said that the cunning plan is to insert these technologies into the existing tool chain of service providers, because they don’t have a lot of real-time insights into the network.

To help facilitate the deployment of those services at scale, Cisco this week also unveiled the Cisco NCS 5000 Series, which can be configured with up to 40-80 10GE ports and 4 100GE ports, a Cisco NCS 5500 Series that provides up to 288 routed 100GE ports for WAN aggregation, and the Cisco NCS 1000 Series, which provides access to 100/200/250G-bit wavelengths over distances exceeding 3,000km with existing fibre.

Smith claims that Cisco is the only provider of network infrastructure capable of unifying local and wide area networks at that distance.