Acronis has relaunched a simpler but more complete suite that it says more readily spans data protection across the physical, virtual and cloud computing spectrum.
As well as a simpler user interface and a claimed 50 percent hike in performance, the newly dubbed AnyData lines offers both disk, VM, file, single-pass and sector-by-sector backups, full or fast incremental or differential backups and allows for the exclusion of files during backups. On the storage side, it offers a unified backup format, universal restore, deduplication, backup and staging to cloud (as well as tape), encryption, staging to tiered storage and multi-destination staging and retention.
CEO Serguei Beloussov explained in a recent press briefing that the new software was designed to address growing data volumes. Acronis' re-branding and new product suite comes nearly a year after Co-Founder Beloussov returned to Acronis. Beloussov, who is also chairman and onetime CEO of Parallels, took the helm at Acronis following a revolving door of chief executives over the years. The most recent before Beloussov was Alex Pinchev, a former Red Hat president who Acronis tapped in January 2012 and only lasted 14 months.
As part of its new focus, Acronis has four business units: personal, business, mobility and cloud. The personal unit offers backup and storage solutions for individuals, the business group is focused on backup and recovery for small- and medium-sized enterprises, mobility provides secure access, file synchronization and sharing tools, and cloud targets managed service providers, telecommunications carriers and hosters with backup and storage software.
Beloussov said despite the new products and company imaging, Acronis business is strong, saying the last quarter was the best in the company's history with a 50 percent year-over-year increase in large purchases and 70 percent EBIDA growth. While he wouldn't disclose actual revenues, Beloussov indicated the company only had $100 million in revenues a few years ago and now it's up to "several" hundred million.
The suite includes software that protects both data and applications running on clients and servicer in virtual, physical and cloud environments, offering data backup, bare-metal restore capabilities, migration and system environments. It supports Linux, Windows and is compatible with all major file formats including ReFS, FAT16/32, Ext2/3/4, ReiserFS3, XFS, JFS, among others.
AnyData supports all the major virtual platforms including VMware, Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Parallels. It can migrate virtual to virtual, virtual to physical, physical to virtual and physical to physical. It runs agentless in VMware and Hyper-V, supports VMware vCenter integration, simultaneous virtual machine backup, change block tracking, Hyper-V cluster support, any-to-any migration and simultaneous backup in virtual environments.
Acronis is also offering application-specific modules include Exchange, SQL Server, SharePoint and Active Directory.
While Acronis boasts large customers such as Chevron, Ford, Intel, Honeywell, NASA, Samsung and Wells Fargo, the company's primary customers are groups with several hundred employees. Even its large customers tend to be remote groups or units, Beloussov acknowledged.
"They have really renewed their focus on the small business customer and the consumer," said Robert Amatruda, research director of data-protection and recovery at IDC. "I was skeptical but pleasantly surprised at the rapid speed these guys have reworked the company. The way they have rebuilt this product, it is now feature-rich around virtualization, and around migration of data for physical to virtual and virtual to virtual. I think you will see Acronis in environments where you have remote offices and workgroups in organizations that need these features."
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/03/2014 at 5:11 PM0 comments
IBM pulled out all the stops this week to convince the IT world that it's transforming its entire business into a cloud company where all its hardware and software will be consumable as a service.
Big Blue used its annual Pulse conference in Las Vegas to outline to the 11,000 attendees how it will fill the gaps in its current cloud portfolio. Much of that effort centers around last year's $2 billion acquisition of SoftLayer, which operates a large global Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) public cloud. At last year's Pulse conference, IBM made a big push around OpenStack, saying the open source cloud IaaS platform would be the basis of its entire cloud infrastructure offerings, including its SmartCloud public IaaS.
Recognizing it needed a more substantial public IaaS than the SmartCloud it was building out, IBM months later acquired SoftLayer, which is now the core of Big Blue's public and private cloud strategy overall. While it offers the IaaS needed to provide compute, storage and networking as a service, IBM spelled out how SoftLayer will offer PaaS and SaaS on-demand applications and API services.
The unofficial buzz at Pulse was that SoftLayer founder and CEO Lance Crosby and his team now have the run of the house at IBM, so to speak. That was evident in everything the company talked about. Here are some of the numerous announcements at Pulse:
- Application Services: Building on top of the SoftLayer IaaS, IBM will build PaaS and SaaS offerings using CloudFoundry as its underpinning. As I reported earlier this week, IBM is a founding member of the new CloudFoundry foundation that Pivotal is spinning off (other members include Pivotal parent EMC, and its offspring VMware, along with Hewlett-Packard, Rackspace and SAP).
- BlueMix: To enable the PaaS capabilities in IBM's SoftLayer cloud, IBM launched BlueMix, which the company describes as orchestration software that enables dev-ops management of cloud infrastructure and applications. Designed to run on CloudFoundry public and private clouds, BlueMix will allow for rapid development of what IBM touts as "composable services." These services are API-based, IBM officials emphasized. The beta is available for download now.
- Database as a Service: Looking to offer database as a service for cloud and mobile apps, IBM realized its DB2 and Informix databases wouldn't cut it for many of today's modern apps. So the company said it has acquired Cloudant, a leading NoSQL database platform. Cloudant conveniently runs on the SoftLayer network. Because it handles all data as JSON documents, IBM said it will appeal to developers who don't have database programming experience and need to build Web-scale applications.
- Middleware to the Cloud: IBM will offer its key middleware offerings, specifically its WebSphere portfolio, as a service in the SoftLayer cloud. The company said there are 200 middleware patterns available from IBM and its partners.
- Systems Management as a Service: The company is extending its systems management tools to enable IT pros to optimize and manage workloads and applications both on-prem and in the cloud.
- Power on SoftLayer: Like most of the large cloud service providers, SoftLayer is based on x86 servers. Looking to provide higher levels of performance for high-performance scale computing, the company will offer its Power platform running Linux, as well. In addition to offering bare-metal servers, IBM will offer various solutions on Power running in the cloud, including several based on its artificially-intelligent computer platform Watson. Later in the year, IBM will also offer its DB2 BLU database and Cognos analytics solutions running on Power on SoftLayer.
Much of the attention centered around BlueMix, which will be the key enabler of moving traditional software to utility computing and application services, said Robert LeBlanc, senior VP for middleware in the IBM Software Group.
"BlueMix is really focused at the enterprise with a pre-integrated set of services to enable clients to build out the next generation of applications that combine systems of engagement and systems of record, all based on an open platform and a set of capabilities we're now moving as a service," LeBlanc explained. "We have shifted a lot of our technologists and our people to these new areas of opportunities."
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/27/2014 at 1:45 PM0 comments
Pivotal on Monday said it will spin off its Cloud Foundry Platform as a Service (PaaS) open source project, which will have its own governance model by this summer.
Joining the effort as founding members of the new foundation are Pivotal's parent company EMC and VMware, along with IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Rackspace, SAP, telecommunications provider CenturyLink (which operates the Savvis cloud services) and ActiveState.
Cloud Foundry is an Apache License 2.0 project. As it transitions into an independent foundation, the licenses will carry over, as well, Pivotal said. Spun off last year from EMC and VMware, Pivotal said Cloud Foundry has benefited under its stewardship with 750 contributors.
The move looks to create an open source PaaS just as Rackspace's contribution of OpenStack to an independent foundation has done for open source Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). By creating a foundation, the goal is to create portability and interoperability among public and private PaaS offerings. Some public and private PaaS cloud offerings are already built on Cloud Foundry, including the SoftLayer public cloud that IBM acquired last year for $2 billion.
Describing it as a strong complement to its commitment to OpenStack, IBM talked up its plans to join the Cloud Foundry foundation at its annual Pulse conference, taking place this week in Las Vegas.
"The enthusiasm from the development community to leverage this open Platform as a Service is immense," said Dave Lindquist, an IBM Fellow and CTO for the company's Smarter Cloud infrastructure, during the opening keynote presentation at Pulse. "We are expecting tremendous growth around the Cloud Foundry ecosystem."
Robert LeBlanc, senior VP for middleware in IBM's software group, used the opening keynote to chide those who aren't participating. Asked whom he was referring to, LeBlanc declined to name any company, but obvious players that are not participating are Amazon Web Services, Citrix, Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce.com.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/24/2014 at 2:32 PM0 comments
Cloud Cruiser has extended the analytics engine designed to help IT decision makers determine whether it's more financially feasible to use private or public cloud services.
The company's new Cost Advisor tool tracks usage of datacenter resources, including compute, network and storage capacity, and compares with public cloud service usage and costs. It uses the metrics to predict costs and determine whether it would be more affordable to run specific jobs in a private or public cloud based on historical and future usage.
Cost Advisor initially works in hybrid cloud scenarios running on Microsoft's Windows Server with System Center and the Windows Azure Pack, as well as with its Windows Azure public cloud service, explained Nick van der Zweep, Cloud Cruiser's VP of strategy. However, the company plans to roll out Cost Advisor on the other platforms its namesake product supports, including Amazon Web Services, VMware, Hewlett-Packard and Rackspace.
"Our intent is to go broad," van der Zweep said.
"We are able to normalize the data that we're getting from Windows Azure private and public clouds, and then we compare and contrast and do recommendations to customers," he added. "Ultimately, you're going to see us do that across multiple private and public clouds and make recommendations to customers based on our financial analytics where it's best to put your workloads."
Cloud Cruiser is known for its namesake product, used to help CIOs and CFOs track usage of public and private cloud services, provide charge back, and determine multitenant billing and cost of public cloud services.
The company this week also announced a partnership with Rackspace, which will support Cloud Cruiser on OpenStack-based Rackspace Private Cloud. It will be bundled with the Rackspace offering but the companies have not yet struck any kind of resale deal.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/20/2014 at 12:17 PM0 comments
Convirture is hoping it can spread the use of its multi-hypervisor management software by letting administrators manage their KVM and Xen virtual machines (VMs) in the cloud.
The San Mateo, Calif.-based company on Thursday launched a new version of its open source software that lets Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers manage KVM and Xen VMs on local Linux servers and in the cloud. ConVirt Open Source is the free version of Convirture's software that provides basic management of virtualized environments.
Convirture's advanced commercial versions include ConVirt Enterprise, which includes extended automation and backup and recovery, while the premium ConVirt Enterprise and Cloud version offers substantially higher levels of security, integration and multitenant support (see this comparison).
In addition to KVM and Xen, the commercial versions of ConVirt also support VMware environments. The company last month also added support for Microsoft's Hyper-V. Arsalan Farooq, CEO of Convirture, argued that ConVirt can manage multiple hypervisors at a fraction of the cost of Microsoft's System Center Operations Manager.
ConVirt OpenSource 2.5 is available as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) and can securely link to the KVM and Xen hypervisors via the new ConVirt Connector. The company says this should appeal to developers and testers looking to extend their virtual infrastructures using Amazon rather than requiring additional datacenter capacity.
"As more of our users and customers move their IT functions to the cloud, it only makes sense for them to have the option of moving the management capabilities into the cloud, as well," Farooq said in a statement.
By making ConVirt OpenSource available as an AMI, the company is hoping to introduce its software to administrators who haven't tried managing hybrid clouds, while giving existing enterprise customers the ability to manage all of the hypervisor stacks available on AWS. It's a safe bet ConVirt Enterprise and ConVirt Enterprise and Cloud are in the queue to become AMIs.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/20/2014 at 10:44 AM0 comments
The sudden "retirement" of CEO Lanham Napier has brought to the surface a lingering question looming over Rackspace: Can the pure-play cloud and hosting provider sustain its battle with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and a slew of other formidable challengers?
After 14 years at Rackspace and eight years as its CEO, Napier is stepping down and his predecessor, Rackspace Chairman and Founder Graham Weston, is returning to the helm, the company announced Monday. Despite posting a decent fourth quarter of 2013 with $408 million in revenues -- up 16 percent year-over-year -- and earnings of $.14 a share, Rackspace's profit slipped 33 percent year-over-year. Moreover, growth has slowed and annual earnings declined for the first time since Rackspace went public in 2008.
Revenues for the year reached $1.5 billion and the company boasted having 100 customers of its OpenStack-based private cloud offering, launched in the middle of last year. While the company issued slightly better-than-expected guidance for this year, Napier's unexpected departure hammered the company's stock by about 25 percent, though it bounced back by about 3 percent Thursday.
During the earnings call Monday, Napier indicated his reason for leaving was burnout and the desire to move on. But as CEO, Napier oversaw Rackspace's bet-the-company move to take on Amazon by leading the OpenStack project, which has cut into its bottom line over the past few years. Nevertheless, Rackspace officials believe the move has positioned the company well for 2014 and beyond.
If the move to OpenStack was aimed at mounting a challenge against Amazon, that has yet to bear fruit. A survey of potential customers by investment banking firm Jefferies found 57 percent were considering Amazon for their cloud deployments compared with just 33 percent for Rackspace, The Wall Street Journal reported. Also, Rackspace's public cloud business grew only 35 percent last year.
"As far as the 35 percent growth, of course, we always wanted to grow faster," Weston said in response to an analyst question during the company's earnings call (see transcript). "But I think that it's important to just understand that all of our strength has always been around serving that pragmatist customer. And I think that an awful lot of the growth for the cloud so far at other companies has been serving the do-it-yourself company, the company that loves the science project that the cloud is giving them."
In other words, Rackspace sees its growth in serving enterprise customers running business-critical applications looking at hybrid cloud deployments and requiring services to provide that application integration. The problem is that so do AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, VMware and Verizon, which are backed by much larger businesses with large enterprise customer bases. Despite vowing to remain independent, it begs the question: Can Rackspace go it alone indefinitely?
To be clear, I'm only posing the question. I've heard nothing to suggest this is under consideration but public companies are always weighing and making offers. Furthermore, I'm not advocating it as a good idea -- the more independent players, the greater competition we see, so long as the economics allow for it. But if, on the other hand, IBM, HP or someone else believes that with Rackspace they can challenge Amazon and the price is right, it's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility.
Weston's remarks that he is in no rush to hire a new CEO despite saying he is instituting a search of internal and external candidates suggest that maybe he's weighing other options. Maybe not. But considering the stock was trading near $41 per share before the news hit and some analysts believe it could fall to as low as $15, it could be attractive to a number of players looking to beef up their cloud footprint.
Before IBM acquired SoftLayer last year, rumors surfaced that Big Blue was circling the wagons but the price was too high. Now, with Rackspace trading more than 50 percent less, maybe IBM will give it a second look if the share price continues to fall. According to WSJ, even at its current stock price, Rackspace may be too expensive. But considering the stock once traded at a peak of $81, if it were to fall in the teens, investors are likely to become impatient.
As Forrester analyst James Staten noted in a blog post following the report, Rackspace is a company that has evolved from a traditional managed hosting provider to a pure-play cloud computing company by making the investments traditional managed service providers (MSP) balked at in fear of cannibalizing existing revenue streams.
"What makes Rackspace different is that it has already figured out that cloud computing is more profitable than traditional hosting," Staten wrote. "This is a serious struggle for most MSPs who have a hard time looking at cloud outside the lens of the traditional hosting business. When viewed this way, cloud looks cheaper, more risky and more expensive to operate. Plus customers can come and go as they please which upsets the capitalization model. But take this lens off and look at cloud with fresh eyes and you can see that it's actually more efficient, carries higher margins and delivers more predictable revenues."
I've talked to numerous Rackspace executives over the years and I doubt I've ever had one conversation when the exec didn't point out the company's "fanatical support." Indeed, this is what sets Rackspace apart from Amazon's "do-it-yourself" approach, as Rackspace put it.
"Loyalty in cloud isn't set by the contract but by the value delivered and where Rackspace shines is in support and service, where loyalty really lives," Staten added.
That has served Rackspace well when catering to midsized, organizations but the company has yet to gain a strong presence among large Fortune 500 enterprises.
"It's getting there slowly but breaking into the CIO ranks of the top companies takes time and persistence," Staten said. "Thankfully some of its long-loyal companies have grown into enterprise leaders and can help with reference calls. But many of the incumbents are now using a Rackspace calling card against them."
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/13/2014 at 4:45 PM0 comments
A project underwritten by the Linux Foundation this week released the first open source tool for software-defined networks (SDNs).
The software, called Hydrogen, was released by the foundation's OpenDaylight Project at its first summit held in Santa Clara, Calif.
While SDNs are still emerging, they promise to create the level of network required for elastic infrastructure services for cloud computing and applications requiring scalability and high performance. Ensuring interoperability will be key to convincing enterprises and service providers alike to invest in SDN.
The Hydrogen framework is downloadable code that was engineered to provide a standard platform to create interoperable SDNs and network functions virtualization (NFV), a modern approach to building next-generation datacenters. The framework incorporates the OpenFlow standards originated by the Open Networking Foundation.
Looking to bring that work to the open source community, the Linux Foundation launched the OpenDaylight Project last April. Key participants in OpenDaylight include Cisco, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Intel and Brocade.
Hydrogen is designed to create programmable SDN-based infrastructure and NFV-based networks that can connect large and widely scalable datacenters. The Hydrogen code released this week includes plug-ins based on the OpenFlow specifications for defining SDNs.
Based on more than a million lines of code, OpenDaylight released three editions of its Hydrogen framework: a base, for those looking to experiment or build proof of concepts; virtualization, intended for datacenter deployments and managing virtual tenant networks and virtual overlays; and service provider for carriers and those operating commercial infrastructure.
In concert with the release of Hydrogen, IBM announced an OpenDaylight-based SDN controller called the Software Defined Network for Virtual Environments (SDN VE), designed to automate and accelerate the provisioning of SDNs.
"Our goal is to take advantage of the openness of the OpenDaylight platform and deliver that advantage to clients by collaborating with other developers to establish an ecosystem of interoperable network applications and services," said Inder Gopal, IBM vice president of System Networking Development, in a statement. IBM said SDN VE will be available this quarter.
Hydrogen currently only supports Fedora and Ubuntu virtual machines, though vendors are likely to add support for other VMs. For example, IBM's new SDN VE supports VMware and KVM. The Hydrogen release available for download here from the OpenDaylight Project.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/06/2014 at 4:45 PM0 comments
In its latest round of price cuts, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is reducing pricing for its S3 and Elastic Block Storage Service (EBS).
The cloud provider will reduce S3 pricing by 22 percent and EBS will cost up to 50 percent less.
As usual, those using the largest amount of capacity will save the most. S3 customers will save at least 1 cent per gigabyte, with pricing for those using less than a terabyte paying $0.85, down from $0.95, which amounts to an 11 percent reduction. Those using more than 500 TB of the S3 storage service will save 22 percent, with pricing per GB dropping from $0.055 to $0.043. S3 customers using 1 to 50 TB of capacity will see pricing drop by only 6 percent from $0.080 to $0.075.
Amazon more substantially reduced its EBS pricing, the storage service for customers requiring lower-latency block storage rather than the object storage S3 provides. While the company noted that its price changes vary from region to region, it said the cuts are as high as 50 percent in some locations -- notably the Northern Virginia region, where EBS standard volumes could drop from $0.10 and $0.05.
Meanwhile, Amazon also said it was adding two new instance sizes to its second-generation EC2 instances, called M3.
"The M3 instances offer higher clock frequencies, significantly improved memory performance, and SSD-based instance storage, all at a lower price," noted AWS evangelist Jeff Barr in a blog post. "If you are currently using M1 instances, switching to M3 instances will provide your users with better and more consistent performance while also decreasing your AWS bill."
The two new instance sizes are both smaller than the original two launched a year ago. The new m3.medium with one virtual CPU, and m3.large with two virtual CPUs join the m3.xlarge with four vCPUs and m3.2xlarge (eight vCPUs) instances Amazon launched last year.
||Instance Storage (SSD)
||1 x 4 GB
||1 x 32 GB
||2 x 40 GB
||2 x 80 GB
Source: Amazon Web Services
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/23/2014 at 3:35 PM0 comments
IBM on Friday said it will invest $1.2 billion to extend the global footprint of its public cloud infrastructure.
Big Blue will add new datacenters in 13 countries across five continents. By the end of the year, IBM said it will have 40 datacenters.
With last year's acquisition of SoftLayer for a reported, but unconfirmed, price of $2 billion, and the build-out over several years of its own SmartCloud Enterprise cloud, IBM is about two-thirds of the way toward its goal of having 40 datacenters, according to Dennis Quan, IBM's vice president of cloud infrastructure. SoftLayer had 13 datacenters when the acquisition deal was announced last June, which suggests IBM had the same number; thus, the company is adding 13 or 14 more this year.
The effort is clearly a bid to take on Amazon Web Services (AWS), by far the most widely used cloud provider by enterprises. IBM didn't identify AWS as the reason for its aggressive expansion. But in an uncharacteristic move back in November, IBM made clear that AWS is in its crosshairs by running full-page ads in major newspapers and on buses and billboards during the AWS re:Invent customer and developer conference in Las Vegas.
"Being able to provide an enterprise-grade cloud capability to our clients requires us to have this distributed datacenter strategy so we can provide services to our customers in any geography they do business," Quan said in an interview. "If you look at our competitors, they are really not able to meet those requirements."
Over the past year, IBM has stepped up its effort to extend its fledgling cloud infrastructure, called SmartCloud. At its Pulse conference last year in Las Vegas, IBM proclaimed its intention to focus more on building out its cloud infrastructure with a major companywide commitment to standards, notably OpenStack.
That commitment led to speculation that IBM would make an expeditious move to extend its cloud footprint by acquiring Rackspace, one of the largest independent providers and an author, along with NASA, of the original (and now open source) OpenStack code. At Pulse last year, IBM vowed to become the largest contributor of OpenStack code, a distinction now held, at last count, by Red Hat.
Rackspace was out of reach for IBM with a market cap last year of $5 billion. Unable to bag Rackspace at the time, IBM acquired SoftLayer, a smaller but still major cloud provider. Ironically, SoftLayer was not operating an OpenStack cloud, an effort Quan said IBM is addressing by offering over 2,000 APIs. Late last year, IBM said it is phasing out its SmartCloud infrastructure in converting customers to the SoftLayer cloud. IBM has earmarked the end of this month to complete that effort.
"We've had a lot of success in transitioning our customers from SmartCloud Enterprise to SoftLayer," Quan said, describing SoftLayer as "a larger-scale and more reliable cloud computing infrastructure."
Asked if the SoftLayer team would be leading the datacenter expansion effort, Quan said: "We're really applying the SoftLayer model. We're just kicking it into overdrive by applying synergies from the rest of the IBM Corporation. We are going to be able to greatly accelerate the datacenter rollout plan, We're going create these SoftLayer datacenters according to the same SoftLayer model, access to the same SoftLayer private network with worldwide access through the exact same APIs, and exact same portal."
Investing $1.2 billion on more datacenters is potentially less expensive than making more acquisitions, such as trying to grab Rackspace or going after smaller providers, though Quan noted, as he's obligated to do, that IBM doesn't discuss potential acquisition plans.
As IBM looks to expand its footprint, the company will face other major competitors, including Microsoft, Google, VMware, Rackspace, AT&T, Verizon and Hewlett-Packard. Yet according to experts, no one is coming close to approaching AWS' share. Though with IBM's large base of enterprise and public sector customers around the world and its large bench of expertise in vertical sectors, Quan insists IBM will be a major provider of enterprise cloud services.
"Our globally distributed private network, which is very unique for SoftLayer, as well as our bare-metal server capability, enables not only data-intensive applications to run more efficiently but also for certain mission-critical elements of the infrastructure to provide a high-level control that you really can't get from a pure virtual machine based cloud," Quan said.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/17/2014 at 3:35 PM0 comments
Oracle kicked off the new year with a noteworthy deal to acquire a cloud infrastructure provider. The company has agreed to buy Corente, whose Cloud Services Exchange (CSX) connects enterprises that operate as service providers with other private and public clouds over IP networks.
Terms of the deal, slated to close later this quarter, were not disclosed.
CSX is a service that interconnects, secures and manages distributed apps via disparate networks. CSX claims to support any transport, application or service provider network so long as it's an IT network. Oracle said it intends to offer cloud infrastructure services with software-defined networks virtualizing enterprise LANs and WANs, letting enterprises -- namely those that operate as their own internal service providers -- to securely manage and interconnect multiple clouds and networks.
Most of Oracle's major cloud acquisitions -- including CRM provider RightNow and Taleo, which helps organizations manage human resources -- have been aimed at taking on archrival Salesforce.com by bolstering its Software as a Service (SaaS) portfolio. Just last month, Oracle said it will pay $1.5 billion to acquire Responsys, which provides cloud-based marketing software.
But at its annual OpenWorld conference in San Francisco in October, Oracle indicated it will step up its cloud infrastructure portfolio, as well, launching Oracle Compute Cloud and Oracle Object Storage Cloud. Oracle also extended its cloud hardware portfolio last month with the Elastic Cloud X4-2, which provides hardware, software, networking and storage in a single machine.
The addition of Corente gives Oracle a service provider network to provide interconnectivity between multiple private and public clouds.
"Oracle customers need networking solutions that span their datacenters and global networks," said Edward Screven, Oracle's chief corporate architect. "By combining Oracle's technology portfolio with Corente's industry-leading, platform-extending software-defined networking to global networks, enterprises will be able to easily and securely deliver applications and cloud services to their globally distributed locations."
Ironically, Corente's key technology partners include some Oracle rivals, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, as well as British Telecom, Cisco, Microsoft and VMware. Oracle's absence from Corente's list of strategic technology partners doesn't mean the two companies haven't worked together. Either way, it will be interesting to see if Oracle will maintain those relationships after the deal closes.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/09/2014 at 3:35 PM0 comments
Rackspace today said it will offer cloud automation services for organizations with agile software development processes -- particularly those with dynamically changing business requirements.
The company sees its new DevOps Automation Service as an evolution in cloud computing services. It will offer live, real-time management of an organization's managed cloud infrastructure, allowing customers to automate their processes, including test and development, deployment and maintenance.
"What we're providing is the expertise to run that framework on your behalf using configuration management tools like Chef," said Klee Kleber, Rackspace senior vice president for product development. "It's really the managed 'fanatical' support approach that we've always historically had but applied to the new modern software stack, and the new modern way software is getting developed. This is something we've heard loud and clear from our customers who say they need it."
The service will cost the same as Rackspace's traditional managed cloud services, Kleber said, but is aimed at shops that have a continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) model of software development, where changes to an app can be made in minutes or hours, and they need the infrastructure to dynamically respond to those changes.
"We have customers do this today that will make changes multiple times a day to their code base," Kleber said. "That same idea is now pervasive into the infrastructure. The old world was you would set up your infrastructure, load all your software on it and hope it all worked. The new world is that you treat the infrastructure as code and you make changes to it constantly, as well. That may include adding cloud capacity and making changes to security settings."
Matt Barlow, senior manager for dev-ops automation at Rackspace, said his team writes the code that automates a customer's infrastructure and shares that code with the customers, where it collaborates with them. Using automation tools such as Ansible or Chef Cookbooks, they create scripts and templates that enable systems automation based on new code created by developers. The focus is to keep the development and production environments in sync, Barlow said.
"By making sure that your environments are all in sync, it decreases your time-to-market to release new features and allows the business to remain competitive," Barlow explained. "Since everything is automated, with Chef, the underlying infrastructure is abstracted away."
DevOps Automation is targeted at online-centric businesses or groups outside a traditional enterprise that may have a Web-centric business model. It doesn't lend itself to shops with legacy software and older waterfall development processes.
Rackspace is offering limited tests now and plans to make the service generally available toward the end of the first quarter of 2014.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 12/12/2013 at 5:20 AM0 comments
OwnCloud, a rapidly growing startup offering IT managers an answer to the bane of their existence (Dropbox), is on the verge of closing on its first round of financing and has upgraded the community version of its offering.
Founded just two years ago, ownCloud raised $4.4 million this week, the Boston Business Journal reported on Monday, and is slated to close on a full round of $7 million.
I recently talked to ownCloud Co-Founder and CEO Markus Rex. The company appears to be off to a strong start. Rex said ownCloud has over 100 paying enterprise customers, with anywhere from 50 users to (in the case of its largest customer) 30,000 users. Licensing costs start at $9,000 per year for 50 users. Also, Rex counts 3 million downloads of ownCloud's free open source edition.
The company is not a Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft SkyDrive wannabe, but promises the antidote to those services: the ability to provide the same experience as Dropbox while giving IT management the option of storing data on premises or in a cloud of their choice -- or any combination of scenarios. But ownCloud doesn't operate its own service; it's a software provider with both commercial and open source editions.
OwnCloud has an app for mobile devices (iOS- and Android-based), Windows PCs (though not a Windows Store app) and Macs. "It gives you a Dropbox-style user experience and the same type of access to your data and your files," Rex said.
Though the user experience is the same -- perhaps even better since IT can give users more capacity and flexibility -- data is better protected with ownCloud, according to Rex. If a device is lost or stolen, IT can shut off access to a specific device and implement other policies, as well.
Customers can install the ownCloud software on any Web server, including Apache and Microsoft's IIS. It can support Windows and Linux servers and integrates with Active Directory. Rex said ownCloud can work with popular enterprise storage platforms and, for those who want to use the public cloud, supports Amazon Web Services S3 storage, as well as OpenStack Swift storage. Rex said ownCloud will support other cloud services as customers request it.
The company this week released ownCloud 6, a new community edition of the software that offers improved performance and stability, as described by Co-Founder Frank Karlitschek in a blog post Wednesday. Rex said the company is targeting next quarter to release an upgrade to the commercial version.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 12/11/2013 at 2:16 PM0 comments