Tag: Cloud

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.

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.