Tag: Cloud

Microsoft results better than expected

SmaugMicrosoft reported higher than expected quarterly revenue, helped by stronger sales of its phones, Surface tablets and cloud-computing products for companies.

The cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street had been a little concerned that Microsoft might  suffer from am industry shift toward lower-margin cloud services.

Redmond shares, which have climbed 33 percent over the past year, rose another three percent in after-hours trading. You can pick up a good used share, with low mileage, for $46.36.

The Volish results fly in the face of negative earnings results from tech bellwethers Oracle, IBM, SAP, VMware, and EMC.

Big Blue’s miserable results were expected to be repeated by Microsoft  as all of them had made tentative inroads into the cloud, which generally yields thinner margins.

Microsoft did not disclose its cloud-based revenue for the fiscal first quarter, but said commercial cloud sales rose 128 percent, while sales of services based on its Azure cloud platform rose 121 percent.

Perhaps more importantly, it said gross profit margin in the unit that includes Azure rose 194 percent, despite rising infrastructure costs, which includes the huge expense of building and operating datacenters.

In the last four years, Microsoft’s gross profit margin has drifted down to about 65 percent from above 80 percent, largely due to its move into tablets and phones.

Microsoft is predicted to make $6 billion a year in cloud revenue soon, which would make it the industry’s largest cloud. However would still be only about six percent of overall expected revenue this fiscal year.

CEO Satya Nadella, in a conference call with analysts, said that Microsoft was the only company with cloud revenue that is growing at triple digit rates.

Nadella was keen to stress that Microsoft is more focused on selling higher-margin services via the cloud to its commercial customers.

Microsoft’s fiscal first quarter profit actually fell 13 percent, largely due to an expected $1.1 billion charge related to mass layoffs announced in July.

However it still collected a profit of $4.5 billion compared with $5.2 billion, or 62 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. It easily beat Wall Street’s forecasts.

Revenue rose 25 percent to $23.2 billion, thanks to the phone business it bought from Nokia in April.  Lumia smartphones sales hit 9.3 million in the first full quarter since the close of the Nokia deal. Sales of the Surface tablet more than doubled to $908 million from $400 million last year.



SAP loses money because of the cloud

cloudThe esoteric management software outfit, SAP, which makes expensive software which no one actually can say what it does, is starting to lose money on its cloud set-ups.

SAP, which was slower than many expected to set up cloud offerings,cut its outlook for full-year operating profit amid an accelerating shift by customers to buy its software over the internet rather than as packaged software.

The company said that this has delayed recognition of those sales and now expects its expects operating profit of $7.14-7.40 billion down from $7.65 billion.

Company executives said the accelerating switch from licence-software sales to internet-based, so-called cloud software is to cut into its 2014 profit, but that these sales would begin to bolster revenue and profit in coming quarters.

SAP Finance Chief Luka Mucic told reporters on a conference call that there were no plans to give up on the cloud based systems and it was “hitting the gas pedal as much as we can.” He is confident that “SAP will see the positive returns in the longer run”.

SAP’s customers, including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Vodafone, prefer cloud computing because there are no upfront costs for software licences, dedicated hardware or installation, giving  customers more flexibility to respond to shifting market demand.

But cloud sales are recognised gradually over three years. They require more upfront investments and will bolster sales and profit in future quarters.


IBM wants to dam big data deluge

IBM logoBig Blue says it has created a new model for enterprise data storage intended to work across a large number of IT solutions.

Jamie Thomas, general manager of storage at IBM, said that it’s time the “traditional” storage model must change. That’s because data is churned out to 2.5 billion gigabytes every day.

Enterprises need to make real time decisions based on this data.  Storage and data centres are the foundation for the model using analytical tools.

She said IBM has introduced something called the Elastic Storage Server, a software storage appliance that works in conjunction with IBM Power 8 servers.

She said that software defined storage is changing the entire industry and IBM can now sell products to customers that want to manage, organise, and use data as a competitive tool.

IBM will offers its Software Defined Storage products through Elastic Storage, SAN Volume Controller and the Virtual Storage Centre.

HP joggles PC/printer divisions – again

Whitman's-SamplerOnce Again, HP has decided to evolve the PC and Printer operations as a distinct and separate corporate entity.

HP came close to selling both divisions during the short reign of Leo Apotheker. After the discovery of a massive over payment for Autonomy Corp. HP’s Board decided Leo had to go and PC & Printers had to stay.

Slipping to the number two position behind Lenovo, HP has decided to spin the combined organization into a separate entity under the aegis of Dion Weisler as CEO (Weisler is an exec in the PC and printer operation currently). Patricia Russo will be installed as the Enterprise company’s new Chairman (former lead independent director).  Meg Whitman will remain CEO of the Enterprise company and oversee corporate guidance of the PC/Printer entity as Chairman.

What difference does this make? Reporting structures loaded with changes in culpability mostly, freeing Whitman up for minding the Enterprise store and:

  • Aligns Weisler for the fall when and if the PC/Printers Division comes in under plan.
  • Allows time to position the PC/Printer Group for a potential sale.

HP has been struggling in their efforts at penetrating the Cloud with their Moonshot technology – Whitman may find the ice a little thin for skating this Winter and into next Spring.

HP’s merger discussions with EMC recently ended. We’re left wondering if what we are now seeing is part of a “Plan B” by HP’s Board of Directors…,


Cisco gets into cloudbusting

Clouds in Oxford: pic Mike MageeNetwork giant Cisco said it has added 30 partners to its Intercloud initiative.

Customers want the cloud to be less hazy less than it is and Cisco believes it can help itself and them by developing standardised cloud apps as well as very secure hybrid clouds.

New partners include Deutsche Telekom BY, NTT Data and Equinix and said it will put up $1 billion for cloud financing using its equity arm, Cisco Capital.

Cisco claims that its announcements will expand the reach of its cloud initiative across 250 datacentres in 50 countries.

Rob Lloyd, Cisco’s president of sales and development said that his company is in a position to connect different cloud services by using a common stack.

Cisco signed a number of providers to build a channel programme using Comstor, Ingram Micro and Tech Data.

The firmis offering Cisco hybrid cloud bundles – a combination of tech and services – to help enterprise customers to build different kinds of cloud environments.

SAP agrees to Concur

Clouds in Oxford: pic Mike MageeSAP, the maker of expensive business software, which no one understands,  has written a cheque for expense management software maker Concur Technologies.

The all-stock deal is valued at $7.3 billion and will help SAP expand its esoteric presence in cloud computing.

SAP said in a statement it would offer $129 per share for the outfit and, while  this is 20 percent more than the September 17 closing price, it is lower than the $130.36 high Concur had at the beginning of the year.

SAP’s offer is rather generous. Concur is valued at $7.3 billion. Including debt, the offer represents an enterprise value of about $8.3 billion. However it will give SAP 12 million more cloud users.

In a statement SAP Chief Executive Bill McDermott said that buying Concur was consistent with SAPs focus on the business network.

Concur has 23,000 clients that include companies, governments and universities, with more than 25 million users of its business expense and travel management software and services.

More than a third of Concur users run SAP software and the southern-Germany based company expects to add Concur customers.

The Concur acquisition gives SAP deeper access to an area of corporate finance where it is not dominant. “SAP now has a business network that is 75 percent bigger than Amazon, eBay and Alibaba combined,” said CEO McDermott.

The company entered the cloud business quite late in 2012 after spending $7.7 billion on buying internet-based computing companies Ariba and SuccessFactors.

It wants to get 3 billion-3.5 billion euros in sales from cloud computing by 2017 out of a total of at least 22 billion. McDermott said that SAP will raise the outlook after completion of the Concur acquisition.



Microsoft intros MSN beta

Microsoft campusSoftware giant Microsoft said it has introduced a beta version of its new MSN.

The company said it’s designed for a world where the cloud and mobile are the name of the game.  It has content from major worldwide media and comes with productivity tools.

The software is available on the web right now and will soon be available for Windows, Apple iOS and Android too.

Microsoft claims MSN’s existing audience is 425 million people.

Steve Lynas, the MS suit in charge of MSN, waxed lyrical about the thing. “Microsoft’s DNA is about empowerment,” he said weirdly.  “The new MSN brings together content from over 1,000 publishers with experiences that help people live fuller lives.  We’ve completely reimagined the experience to embrace this opportunity.”

Media mates include the Guardian, the Independent, Sky News and the Telegraph.  It has struck similar deals in other countries across the world.

It’s got reviews of over 1.5 million bottles of wine, and 300,000 recipes.

You can have a dekko at Microsoft’s latest rock star by clicking here.

Microsoft defies judge’s cloud ruling

cloud 1A US judge has demanded that software giant Microsoft hand over emails which are stored on a foreign server to the government. Microsoft however has refused to do so until its appeal is heard in another court.

Apparently, the emails are sitting on a server in Ireland. If the ruling stands then it means that Microsoft could fall foul of EU law, where the emails are stored and if Redmond does allow the data to fall into US government hands, it can kiss good-bye to billions of EU cloud business.

Practically it means that if you have your data stored in a cloud owned by a US company you are effectively giving that data to US spooks. In fact, the US government could then sell on that data to US business rivals.

Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the US District Court in Manhattan had on July 31 upheld a magistrate judge’s ruling on the emails.  It is not clear why the government wants to read the emails just that it applied for a warrant.

Microsoft has been desperate to prove to customers that it does not allow the US government unchallenged access to personal data on its servers.

Preska had delayed enforcement of the government’s search warrant so Microsoft could appeal.

But prosecutors later said that because her order was not a “final, appealable order” and because Microsoft had yet to be held in contempt, there was no legal reason to enforce the stay.

Preska agreed, saying her order “merely confirmed the government’s temporary forbearing of its right to stay enforcement of the order it secured.”

Microsoft is still refusing to comply with the judge’s order, pending attempts to overturn it. A spokesVole said that everyone agreed this case can and will proceed to the appeals court. This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen,

This appears to be the first case in which a corporation has challenged a US search warrant seeking data held abroad. It is backed by AT&T, Apple, Cisco Systems and Verizon.



Microsoft wins PR blitz over cloud

Clouds in Oxford: pic Mike MageeMicrosoft’s several-hour outage of the cloud-based Visual Studio Online services might have been a PR disaster, but Redmond appears to have won the hearts and minds of its customers by actually doing the right thing.

Computer World spend the day ringing around hoping to find a “moaning customers” story but was surprised to find hat Microsoft’s customers were happy at the way that the outage was handled.

Apparently Redmond did something radical – it did not spin, it did not pretend that nothing happened, and it provided customers with the information they really needed.

The genius behind this strategy was, Brian Harry, a Microsoft Technical Fellow, corporate vice president, and product unit manager for Team Foundation Server.

Writing in his bog, Harry said detailed the August 14 outage of Visual Studio Online, the cloud service designed to help development teams manage complex projects.

Visual Studio Online was offline in some regions late Wednesday and early Thursdaybut troubles mounted Thursday morning until they became a total outage that lasted five-and-a-half hours.

“This duration and severity makes this one of the worst incidents we’ve ever had on VS Online,” Harry admitted.

Harry apologised for the outage dove into a technical explanation of what triggered the blackout, and laid out some steps the team planned to take to stymie a repeat.

“We’ve gotten sloppy. Sloppy is probably too harsh. As with any team, we are pulled in the tension between eating our Wheaties and adding capabilities that customers are asking for,” said Harry. “In the drive toward rapid cadence, value every sprint, etc., we’ve allowed some of the engineering rigor that we had put in place back then to atrophy — or more precisely, not carried it forward to new code that we’ve been writing. This, I believe, is the root cause.”

Customers loved this approach and in the comments they praised his candour. “Let me simply say: nice analysis write-up, that was refreshingly direct,” said Benjamin Treynor in a comment appended to Harry’s piece.

“A perfect template for no BS straight talking. Well done, very impressed,” added someone identified only as “Craig” in a latter comment. “Lots of good lessons in there, too, that we can all benefit and learn from.”

Harry’s admission that Microsoft’s push for a faster pace was behind the outage might have won him the support of customers, but it does not bode well for his internal political future. Microsoft is on a mission to accelerate development and its release “mobile-first, cloud-first” strategy.

Still there cannot be many in Microsoft who can see their product fail and still get their customers to support them. At this rate, Harry should be made PR manager.


Cloud teaches teaches robots

robby the robotResearchers at Cornell, Stanford and Brown universities and the University of California have come up with a method of teaching robots using the cloud.

Dubbed Robo Brain , the system is a large-scale computational system that learns from publicly available Internet resources. The data is translated and stored in a robot-friendly format that robots can draw on when they need it.
Ashutosh Saxena, assistant professor of computer science at Cornell University said that since  laptops and mobile phones don’t have access to all the information we want, the robot can query Robo Brain in the cloud.

Robo Brain will process images to pick out the objects in them, and by connecting images and video with text, it will learn to recognize objects and how they are used, along with human language and behaviour.

It speeds up the development time that a robot needs to work out what to do. If a robot sees a teacup, it can learn from Robo Brain not only that it is a teacup and not a coffee mug. It also can learn that liquids can be poured into or out of it, that it can be grasped by the handle, and that it must be carried upright when it is full.

The system employs what computer scientists call “structured deep learning,” where information is stored in many levels of abstraction. An easy chair is a member of the class of chairs, and going up another level, chairs are furniture. Robo Brain knows that chairs are something you can sit on, but that a human can also sit on a stool, a bench or the lawn.

The robot stores the information in a mathematical model, which can be represented graphically as a set of points connected by lines. The nodes could represent objects, actions or parts of an image, and each one is assigned a probability – how much you can vary it and still be correct.

This means that the robot’s brain makes its own chain and looks for one in the knowledge base that matches within those limits.


Cloud lifts Salesforce aloft

Clouds in Oxford: pic Mike MageeSalesforce surprised the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street by reporting better-than-expected quarterly revenue.

According to the company, its revenue was helped by an increase in demand for its web-based sales and marketing software. It also raised its full-year profit and revenue forecast.

Salesforce expects an adjusted profit of 50-52 cents per share on revenue of $5.34-$5.37 billion for the year ending Jan. 31. It had previously predicted it would make 49-51 cents on revenue of $5.30-$5.34 billion. Wall Street had been expected a profit of 51 cents per share on revenue of $5.34 billion.

Wall Street now suspects that Salesforce is sitting on a few mega-deals in the pipeline that it should close.

Salesforce is investing in software targeted at specific sectors such as healthcare to boost growth and has already signed some deals with Dutch healthcare and lighting company Philips to offer online management of chronic diseases.

Salesforce reported net loss of $61.1 million for the second quarter ended July 31, compared with a profit of $76.6 million, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $1.32 billion from $957.1 million.

The outfit’s subscription and support revenue, which accounts for 93 percent of total revenue, rose 37 percent. Professional services revenue rose 58 percent.

Azure fails

cloud (264 x 264)Microsoft has fixed a worldwide outage on its Azure cloud computing service, which occurred across multiple regions.

Partial disruptions began as of 1.40pm on Aug. 18, the company said on the Azure website.

This is bad news for Microsoft which is touting its cloud-based platform for creating, deploying and maintaining online applications and services such as websites and web-hosted applications. As such, it has to work 24/7 or customers will be severely put out.

Azure is used by governments and corporations around the world, supports various programming languages, tools and frameworks.

Microsoft said that Azure services such as virtual machines, cloud services, mobile services, service bus, site recovery, HDInsight, websites and Storsimple were down during the outage.

However, Vole insisted that the core platform components were working properly throughout and only a small subset of customers were affected by the outage.

Still reports of outages might make many firms question if moving to the cloud is such a good idea, or if they can get the same levels of reliability on-site.

IBM applies science to HR cloud

Clouds in Oxford: pic Mike MageeBig Blue said that it has introduced cloud software and initiatives aimed at using analytics and workforce science to human relations.

The buzzwords IBM is using are “workforce engagement and transformation” – it is introducing a talent and change consulting practice supported by 100 behavioural scientists.

The big idea is to use social analytics to identify “top performers”, and guard against people leaving or being poached.

IBM did a survey which revealed that two out of five CEOs believe a big threat to keeping top people on comes from organisations outside their sectors.

The three cloud based applications are Kenexa Predictive Hiring, Kenexa Workforce Readiness and Kenexa Predicting Retention. IBM is starting to sell these cloud based products today.

Hackers hack Amazon’s cloud

Amazon-Cloud-OutageHackers have worked out a way to break into Amazon’s cloud and install DDoS malware.

The hole is thanks to a vulnerability in distributed search engine software Elasticsearch which is a popular open-source search engine server. The software was  developed in Java that allows applications to perform full-text search for various types of documents through a REST API (representational state transfer application programming interface).

Elasticsearch is commonly used in cloud environments and is used on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine and other cloud platforms.

Versions 1.1.x of Elasticsearch have support for active scripting through API calls in their default configuration. For some reason this does not require authentication which is how the malware writers have broke into the systm.

Elasticsearch’s developers have not released a patch for the 1.1.x branch, but starting with version 1.2.0, released on May 22, dynamic scripting is disabled by default.

Kaspersky Lab has found variants of Mayday, a Trojan program for Linux that’s used to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

One of the new Mayday variants was found running on compromised Amazon EC2 server instances.

Kaspersky Lab researcher Kurt Baumgartner said that it was not the only victim. The attackers break into   virtual machines run by Amazon EC2 customers by exploiting the CVE-2014-3120 vulnerability in Elasticsearch 1.1.x, which is still being used by some organisations in active commercial deployments despite being superseded by Elasticsearch 1.2.x and 1.3.x.

Baumgartner saw the early stages of the Elasticsearch attacks and that the hackers modified publicly available proof-of-concept exploit code for CVE-2014-3120 and used it to install a Perl-based Web shell. This gave them a backdoor script that allows remote attackers to execute Linux shell commands over the Web. The script, downloads the new version of the Mayday DDoS bot, detected as Backdoor.Linux.Mayday.g.

Connected makes Vine main channel man

Kevin VineKevin Vine is to be a VP of Connected Data and will expand the company’s channel efforts.

Vine has previously worked for Buffalo and for megadistie Ingram Micro.

He will continue to work with disties including Ingram, CMS, Comline and Beta Distribution but will also aim to boost the number of channel partners selling the Drobo “smart storage” range and the Transporter cloud offering.

Vine said that these brands “present a compelling proposition to build a major channel business across EMEA”. He said the technology is outstanding and the business potential to sell and integrate the products is “excellent”.

In the role, he will report to Jillian Mansolf, executive BP of global sales at Connected. CEO Geoff Barrall said he has a background in building US product market share in the region.  Connected will concentrate on building its sales, marketing and technical support in the region as part of a  major push in the second half of this year.