Tag: Cloud

SAP wants its software on the cloud

cloud1SAP, the maker of expensive esoteric business software which no one really understand wants to deliver its product onto the cloud.

This means you can be completely baffled by the product, without having to store it on your local servers.

Luka Mucic told the Euro am Sonntag business weekly that contract cloud work becomes profitable over time and in the long term; they can definitely become more profitable than classic licence sales.

SAP said last week its push to deliver cloud-based products via the internet would “dampen profitability” until at least 2018, even if it attempts to blow dry its profitability with a hair-dryer or makes it stand in the sun for a few hours.

This is because unlike the packaged software SAP has been selling for decades, for which clients pay a immediate licence fee, cloud-based software is generally paid for by subscription over time, but most of the costs for the software provider are upfront.

Mucic said contracts were loss making for the first year of operation.

SAP agreed in September to buy cloud-based travel and expenses software maker Concur for $7.3 billion in cash, its biggest takeover ever, but about what you can expect to pay for a single SAP business consultant.

Mucic said SAP might add another, smaller tranche, perhaps as soon as the first half of this year, but added that otherwise the company had no need for further capital. He did not say why SAP needed the money.

Worldwide IT spending still to grow

Pic Mike MageeIT spending worldwide will reach $3.8 trillion 2015 – that’s up 2.4 percent from last year.
But market intelligence company Gartner has warned that its earlier prediction of 3.9 percent will be affected by the rise in the price of the US dollar as well as conservative sentiment about services and devices.
But Gartner research VP John-David Lovelock sought to play down the reduction.  He said it “is less dramatic than it might at first seem.  The rising US dollar is chiefly responsible for the change.  Stripping out the impact of exchange rate movements, the corresponding growth figure is 3.7 percent.”
Gartner breaks down the spending by categories as follows:

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 12.09.23

Datacentre systems will be worth $143 billion in 2015, while enterprise software will total $335 billion.
There will be a price war in cloud per seat during 2015 with price drops of as much as 25 percent right through until 2018.  Vendors are discounting cloud offerings heavily, said Gartner.

 

Only 10 percent of cloud apps are secure

Every silver has a cloudy liningNew research has found that only one in ten cloud apps are secure enough for enterprise use.

According to a report from cloud experts Netskope, organisations are employing an average of over 600 business cloud apps, despite the majority of software posing a high risk of data leak.

More than 15 percent of logins for business cloud apps used by organisations had been breached by hackers.

One in five businesses in the Netskope cloud actively used more than 1,000 cloud apps, and over eight per cent of files in corporate-sanctioned cloud storage apps were in violation of DLP policies, source code, and other policies surrounding confidential and sensitive data.

A quarter of all files are shared with one or more people outside of the organisation, and of external users with links to shared content, almost 12 percent have access to 100 or more files.

Netskope CEO Sanjay Beri said that 2014 left an indelible mark on security – between ongoing high-profile breaches and the onslaught of vulnerabilities like Shellshock and Heartbleed, CSOs and CISOs had more on their plate than ever.

“These events underscore the sobering reality that many in the workforce have been impacted by data breaches and will subsequently use compromised accounts in their work lives, putting sensitive information at risk,” he added.

The research also found that the most insecure apps were primarily linked with marketing, finance and human resource software, while cloud storage, social and IT/app management programmes had the lowest proportion of insecure apps.

“Employees today have shifted from thinking of apps as a nice-to-have to a must-have, and CISOs must continue to adapt to that trend to secure their sensitive corporate and customer data across all cloud apps, including those unsanctioned by IT,” Beri continued.

Google Drive, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Gmail were among the apps investigated.

How Snowden put the brakes on Amazon’s cloud

snowdenWhile the industry is telling the world+dog know that 2015 was the year of the cloud, one has to wonder what it would have been like if Edward Snowden had not revealed high level snooping of off-site data centres.

This year Taser discovered first hand some of the problems. It won a high-profile contract to supply body cameras to the London police. But the deal nearly collapsed because video footage on Amazon’s cloud.

The deal survived only after Taser dropped Amazon.com because it did not have a data centre in Britain.  The UK coppers did not want their data going overseas where it could be snooped upon by the US.

Larger companies are getting worried about relying too heavily on Amazon’s public cloud servers, preferring to store data on their own premises or work with cloud providers that can offer them the option of dedicated servers.

It has opened the door for Microsoft which has flogged the private cloud over the public and offered companies more direct oversight of their data in the cloud.

Steve Herrod, the former chief technology officer of VMware now a venture capitalist at General Catalyst Partners said Edward Snowden did more to create a future with many clouds in many locations than any tech company has managed.

A web of new laws restricting how data can move across national borders creates another hurdle for Amazon and led for calls for it to build more localised clouds.

SAP has ruled out working with Amazon on many upcoming projects due partly to data-location issues.

Amazon insists that demand for AWS, including in Europe and Asia, has never been stronger, and that any contracts lost to rivals are the extreme exception. It said that it will build data centres in every large country over time, but that will cost a bomb.

However it is having to face that fact that the model it pioneered in 2006 is slowing down because it is UScentric – at least for now.

AWS is five times the computing capacity of its next 14 rivals, including Microsoft, Google and IBM, according to Gartner and analysts are predicting that AWS revenue will more than double from 2014 levels to $10.5 billion in 2017, faster than the market overall.

But Synergy Research Group said that it could have been a lot different. At the moment  AWS holds a 27 percent market share in the third quarter of 2014, compared to 10 percent for Microsoft’s Azure cloud business. Azure, however, grew 136 percent on a rolling annualized basis in the quarter, while AWS grew 56 percent.

Part of the reason that Azure did so well is because that Microsoft is willing to work with third-party data centre managers, such as Fujitsu, when clients are required to keep data within a country’s borders.

 

Vole is helping companies add cloud capabilities to their existing data centres and create a “hybrid” model that Amazon has only just started to offer.

Aix months ago, Barclays chose  Azure over AWS to power some development and testing work because of its private-cloud option, along with Barclays’ existing familiarity with Microsoft’s data-centre software.

Vole has the advantage that it knows a few people in corporate and government and is using them to  peddle Azure. AWS has only just started to build such ties.

It would have been different if it had not been for Snowden making those corporates and governments very nervous about allowing their data out of their sight.

 

2014 a breakthrough year for the cloud

29295727Big Blue is telling the world+dog that 2014 was its breakthrough year for its cloud computing business.

IBM said it will expand the number of data centres it offers clients around the world by 25 percent to meet fast-rising demand for internet-based services.

The outfit has quadrupled the number of cloud data facilities it offers around the world to 49 in the past 18 months, responding in part to laws requiring the local retention of data following revelations over US government Web surveillance as well as increased corporate compliance rules.

The company said on Wednesday it has now struck a partnership with data centre provider Equinix for nine more cloud centres in Australia, France, Japan, Singapore, The Netherlands and the United States. It is also opening up three new cloud computer facilities of its own in Germany, Mexico and Japan.

Angel Luiz Diaz, vice president in charge of IBM’s cloud computing business, told Reuters that the company had a good year which was a “breakthrough year in cloud.”

IBM’s cloud revenue amounted to $4.4 billion in 2013 and was up by 50 percent in the first nine months of this year, it reported in October, making it one of IBM’s fastest-growing businesses, although it still accounts for only a fraction of the $94 billion in total revenues which IBM is expected by analysts to generate this year.

It looks like IBM’s multi-year deals of more than $4 billion that are fuelling the company’s expansion in data centres.

IBM also said it had reached a cloud services deal with National Express Group to enable the UK-based bus and trains operator to offer commuters up-to-the-minute train schedules and what it said would be Britain’s first postcode-to-postcode journey planner.

Rackspace joins anti-Intel server group

IBM logoServer company Rackspace has joined an IBM inspired server group, snubbing its primary chip supplier, Intel.

The Openpower foundation was formed a year ago and has something like 80 worldwide members, working on producing server technology built using IBM rather than Intel microprocessor architecture.

The group already has members including Nvidia, Tyan and Google.

Rackspace has been working behind the scenes with the group for over 18 months, but openly declared its hand yesterday.  Senior director Aaron Sullivan said that Openpower has an open firmware stack, and better access to chips, memory and storage than, for example, Intel.

Other additions to the powerful consortium include Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Mumbai Indian Institute of Technology, and worldwide distributor Avnet.

Openpower said its first summit will be held mid March at the San Jose Convention Center in California.

Microsoft accuses US of double standards

janus1Software giant Microsoft has accused the US government of operating a system of double standards when it comes to snooping on other countries.

Microsoft’s executive Vice President and General Counsel, Brad Smith said that by demanding companies hand over customer data stored overseas the US government was operating a double standard that it would not accept from other countries.

Writing in his blog, Smith said: “Imagine this scenario. Officers of the local Stadtpolizei investigating a suspected leak to the press descend on Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. They serve a warrant to seize a bundle of private letters that a New York Times reporter is storing in a safe deposit box at a Deutsche Bank USA branch in Manhattan. The bank complies by ordering the New York branch manager to open the reporter’s box with a master key, rummage through it, and fax the private letters to the Stadtpolizei.”

Microsoft has applied to the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals in its ongoing case challenging a US government search warrant for customer data stored in Ireland. Microsoft filed the appeal after a US district court judge rejected the company’s argument that the warrant is illegal because it calls for the seizure of emails stored outside the United States.

If the situation was reversed the US government would be furious if a foreign government attempted to sidestep international law by demanding that a foreign company with offices in the United States produce the personal communications of an American journalist.

He pointed out that the Secretary of State would fume that he or she was outraged by the decision to bypass existing formal procedures that the European Union and the United States have agreed on for bilateral cooperation.

And then, if the Germans had responded the way the US had done,  they would claim that they did not conduct an extraterritorial search – in fact we didn’t search anything at all.

“No German officer ever set foot in the United States. The Stadtpolizei merely ordered a German company to produce its own business records, which were in its own possession, custody, and control. The American reporter’s privacy interests were fully protected, because the Stadtpolizei secured a warrant from a neutral magistrate,” Smith said.

That would not satisfy the Americans because the documents held by the foreign company for safekeeping are private letters, not business records.

“And any attempt to take possession of those letters through a warrant – even one served on the company entrusted with those letters – would constitute a seizure by a foreign government of private information located in another country,” Smith wrote.

As far as the US Government is concerned, your emails become the business records of a cloud provider. Because business records have a lower level of legal protection, the Government claims it can use a different and broader legal authority to reach emails stored anywhere in the world.

IBM assesses top cyber threats

ibm-officeBig Blue has assessed that 80 percent of executives in charge of security think that challenges by external threats to their enterprises are on the rise.

And IBM said 60 percent of enterprises believe they are being outgunned in the cyber war.

Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) think that sophisticated external threats is their biggest challenge – with 40 percent believing that they top other challenges they face.

Data leakage prevention, cloud security and mobile security are the top three areas that CISOs believe are the areas that need addressing urgently.

Of the respondents surveyed by IBM, 90 percent have either adopted or will adopt cloud initiatives and they expect their cloud security budgets to increase over the next five years.

Only 45 percent of the CISOs think that mobile and device security is being adequately addressed.

IBM goes Dutch on big cloud contract

blue_klompenBeleaguered Big Blue has signed a 10-year, multi-billion dollar deal to provide computer infrastructure services to Dutch bank Amro.

Amro thinks that the men in suits are exactly the sorts of types it wants running its cloud operations. However it is a case of “better the devil you know”. IBM has been running Amro’s computer services for a while now.

Under the first €1.5bn deal in 2005, 1,500 people in IT lost their jobs when the bank outsourced most of its IT to the global outsourcing arm of IBM.

At the time, IBM took over the management of the datacentres for the bank’s commercial and consumer clients, private clients, asset management, and new growth markets.

IBM has had some difficulty attracting much interest in its internet-delivered services, as it seems a bit outclassed by the likes of Oracle, Microsoft and Amazon.

IBM will provide fully managed services for mainframe computers, servers, storage and end-user computing as well as a help desk and other technical support. IBM did not disclose financial details of the deal.

Actually it has been a good few weeks for IBM. It recently won a 7-year outsourcing contract from Germany’s Lufthansa worth $1.25 billion that will see the U.S. company take over the airline’s information technology infrastructure services division and staff.

 

China firewalls the cloud

great wallChina has expanded its Great Firewall of China to include a major hosting and cloud services company.

According to internet freedom watchdog GreatFire.org, the EdgeCast content delivery network (CDN), which “provides cloud services to thousands of websites and apps in China”, has been partially blocked.

A number of major international companies have been affected by the block, including The Atlantic, Sony Mobile, and websites related to the Firefox web browser.

Filtering escalated this week with an increasing number of popular web properties impacted and even many domains being partially blocked.

The blocking of a major CDN such as EdgeCast marks a significant escalation in the efforts of Chinese censors to keep the country’s internet free of unwanted outside influence.

Charlie Smith, founder of GreatFire, told the South China Morning Post that taking down so many sites in one go will have a huge economic impact – online commerce, trade, even academia will all be affected by this.

“While the economic cost is huge, the authorities are also risking upsetting Chinese netizens who suddenly wake up to find out that they cannot access a plethora of websites.”

The problem, as far as China is concerned, is that free speech activists and anti-censorship groups such as GreatFire have been using cloud services to create mirrors of sensitive information which cannot be blocked.

This included the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) report on the use of offshore tax havens by Chinese businessmen and officials. The report was uploaded to Amazon’s cloud servers, which, because of their design and encryption, are impossible to block on an individual website or page basis.

However killing off the entire cloud domain would cause significant harm to the businesses of the thousands of Chinese websites, including major corporations, who  depend on its services for database management and other cloud computing.

GreatFire said in a blog post since the Great Firewall cannot distinguish traffic to our mirror sites and other traffic to the cloud provider which means they cannot block access to its mirror sites without blocking access to all the sites hosted by the CDN.

It sees this as a form of ‘collateral freedom’ which hinges on the gamble that the Chinese authorities will not block access to global CDNs because they understand the value of China being integrated with the global internet.

It looks like the authorities do not care and are just going to cut China off from the global internet, rather than letting that work around happen.

Ironically, China hosted the World Internet Conference in Zhejiang province. Talks include “An interconnected world shared and governed by all” and “Cross-border e-commerce and economic globalisation.”

SAP to stop buying companies

sapbeerAfter a spending spree that saw it spending over $7 billion software company Concur, German CRM giant appears to have decided enough is enough.

CEO Bill McDermott told a conference in Barcelona today that SAP is going to “step down” its acquisition efforts.

It had pledged to buy itself into a position of real power in the market, but according to a report by Reuters it was going to tuck itself into bed and that would probably put people to sleep.

SAP has seen some tough times in the recent past but McDermott believes it now has a business plan that will see it do reasonably well between 2015 and 2020.

SAP’s major competitors include Salesforce, Oracle and Workday and that market is becoming increasingly competitive.

McDermott’s strategy is to sell more of its products through the cloud, and that makes it just like every other vendor and therefore more vulnerable to competition too.

Microsoft’s cloud blue screens

Pic Mike MageeMicrosoft ‘s Azure cloud-computing service, suffered a kick in the credibility on Tuesday after it suffered serious outages. Microsoft’s MSN web portal was taken offline.

According to Microsoft’s Azure status page, the problems started around 5pm Pacific time and have still not been fully solved. “We are experiencing a connectivity issue across multiple Azure Services,” the page said.

“Microsoft is investigating an issue affecting access to some Microsoft services,” said a Microsoft spokesperson. “We are working to restore full access to these services as quickly as possible.”

Azure outages are a serious problem for Microsoft as the company tries to sell its cloud-computing service as a cost-effective and reliable alternative to Amazon’s AWS.

The outage was a major problem for those punters relying on Azure to host websites – such as Microsoft.

Microsoft suffered its last major Azure outage in August.  Amazon also has outages which does not bode well for those who look to the cloud for total reliability.

 

Servers become central heating units

171879main_LimbFlareJan12_lgA German company is building a cloud which puts servers in people’s houses in exchange for the free heating.

Cloud&Heat is a cloud infrastructure company that has started distributing its servers to people who want to store them in exchange for free heat in their homes or offices.

Customers pay to have a Cloud&Heat fire-proof cabinet installed in their homes or offices which is about the same as a standard heating system. Cloud&Heat pays for the electricity and internet service the cabinet needs and the owner gets to enjoy free heat and hot water. Plus Cloud&Heat has some clever fixes in place.

Now that would be great if it was not for that annoying thing called summer. However, apparently if the servers do heavy data processing when no one needs the heat, the system stores hot water in a “buffering tank.” Cloud&Heat cabinets can also vent outside in the spring and summer.

One of the downsides is the matter of security, because anyone’s data could be in anyone else’s house at a given time. Cloud&Heat said that all of its data is encrypted and only its employees can open the cabinets.

IBM claims first for intelligent cloud security

clouds3Big Blue claimed it is the first company to build an intelligent security profile that protects data, applications and people in the cloud.

The offerings it announced use what IBM described as advanced analytics to react to threats across enterprise, public, private and mobile clouds  – so called hybrid clouds.

IBM said that while the cloud is being rapidly adopted worldwide, attackers are more sophisticated and more able to hide their activities.  Indeed, IBM claims that three quarters of security breaches take days, weeks or months to be discovered.

Its managed security services platform is intended to protect IBM customers as well as customers of firms like Amazon Web Services and Salesforce.

It said that its intelligent threat protection monitors the cloud environment, analysing billions of security events and including correlation and external data feeds.

IBM estimates that nearly half of large enterprises will use hybrid clouds by the end of 2017 and claims that it is the largest hybrid cloud vendor.

Boffins will have a personal cloud

tornadoResearchers will soon have their own clouds, thanks to the efforts of a non-Profit organisation Internet2.

Internet2 has worked out a way to let scientists create and connect to virtual spaces, within which they will be able to conduct research across disciplines and to experiment on the nature of the web.

Robert Ricci, a research assistant professor at the University of Utah’s School of Computing said that this will allow computer-science researchers to look at new ways of potentially designing networks that could influence how the internet itself works.

Internet2 connects more than 250 American colleges and universities, as well as corporations, research groups, and government agencies. The group also facilitates research by connecting campuses and transmitting large amounts of data at a faster speed than commercial networks offer.

New software developed by the group divides the Internet2 network into private sectors with two projects, CloudLab and Chameleon, provide frameworks for the creation of clouds connected by Internet2.

Ricci said that this will enable computer scientists to do is come up with better network-management systems to support scientists who have these large data transfers.

Boffins will benefit from the project, but so should computational scientists and researchers in other fields.

This will be a big hand in situations where digital and physical worlds intersect, such as in the collaboration between researchers.

The programme is funded by a $10-million grant from the National Science Foundation, and will be free to researchers whose proposals are approved.

It means that Universities with a large hardware budget will not be the only ones who benefit from this sort of technology.