VMware Enters Public Cloud as Dell Exits

It's not quite a changing of the guard, but VMware this week revealed plans to launch its widely anticipated public cloud service just a day after Dell pulled the plug on its plans to provide multiple Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings.

At a launch event webcast Tuesday, VMware said its vCloud Hybrid Cloud Service is an IaaS that the company will offer based on its vSphere virtualization and vCloud Director management platform. VMware will offer an early-access program next month in the United States, with general availability slated for the third quarter of this year. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/23/2013 at 12:49 PM3 comments

TIBCO Finally Jumps onto the Cloud Bus

Longtime Software as a Service (SaaS) holdout TIBCO is now taking its enterprise application integration middleware online with the launch this week of a SaaS-based version of app connectors.

The company describes the TIBCO Cloud Bus as a subscription-based Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS) offering based on its premise-based TIBCO BusinessWorks middleware, which is used by some of the largest enterprises to connect disparate applications (premise- and cloud-based) from vendors ranging from Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce.com, SAP and hundreds of various players. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/22/2013 at 12:49 PM7 comments

SAP To Offer HANA In-Memory Database as Cloud-Based Service

SAP this week said it will make its HANA in-memory database available as an enterprise cloud service. The move will allow customers to run the company's flagship ERP, CRM and NetWeaver Business Warehouse offerings as an elastic subscription-based Software as a Service (SaaS).

The company made the announcement in advance of its annual Sapphire NOW partner conference, to be held next week in Orlando, Fla. The SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud will enable petabyte scale, according to the company. In addition, the service will support the recently released SAP Business Suite, a portfolio of applications that use HANA as the underlying database. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/09/2013 at 12:49 PM0 comments

Dell Acquires Multi-Cloud Manager Enstratius

Dell is extending its push into management of multi-cloud environments with this week's acquisition of Enstratius.

The company, which until last year was known as EnStratus, is regarded as a leading supplier of premises- and Software as a Service (SaaS)-based cloud management platforms. The 5-year-old company competes with RightScale. Both offer cloud management systems that let IT administrators monitor and control various public cloud services, including those offered by Amazon Web Services. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/08/2013 at 12:49 PM0 comments

Amazon Web Services Kicks Off Certification Program

Amazon Web Services offers a robust portfolio of cloud offerings and, rightfully, claims it operates some of the largest cloud implementations. But it has lacked a meaningful way of ensuring its partners were certified to implement its services. The new AWS Global Certification Program seeks to provide training and validation for customers and partners implementing systems and apps in the Amazon cloud.

Those that go through the new training programs outlined by AWS will go through its testing partner Kryterion. The first available exam will be for the "AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate Level." That certification will be for architects and those who design and develop apps that run on AWS, the company said. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/02/2013 at 12:49 PM3 comments

GE Takes 10 Percent Stake in Pivotal PaaS for Its Industrial Internet

Pivotal, the company spun out of VMware and its parent EMC, officially opened for business last week, announcing its Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud and a $105 million investment from GE.

Headed by former VMware CEO Paul Maritz, Pivotal sees a market now worth $8 billion that will grow to $20 billion over the next five years. More notably, at the GigaOM Structure Data conference in New York a few weeks back, Maritz said Pivotal is already a $300 million business that can grow to $1 billion in revenues by 2017. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/02/2013 at 12:49 PM2 comments

CA Extends Cloud Push with Layer 7 Buy

While CA is best known for its mainframe management software, app development, systems administration and identity management tools, it is also no secret that the company has assembled a strong portfolio of cloud migration and management wares.

At last week's CA World conference in Las Vegas, the company made clear it's not stepping back from expanding its cloud focus on a number of levels. That's no surprise, considering the company tapped former Taleo chief Michael Gregoire as its new CEO late last year. Taleo was a Software as a Service-based provider that was sold to Oracle for $1.9 billion. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/02/2013 at 12:49 PM1 comments

Box Reaches HIPAA Compliance

Box today said organizations can now securely store health care information in its popular cloud-based document storage and sharing service, now that it complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.

As a result, Box's service is considered a trusted platform for personal health information stored in its service, company officials told me. The move comes as Box is looking to extend its foothold in a number of business and public sector industries. To that end, the company is targeting the health care industry. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/25/2013 at 12:48 PM5 comments

Amazon Now Storing 2 Trillion Objects in S3

Ed.'s Note: The original headline incorrectly stated that Amazon stored 2 billion objects, instead of 2 trillion. The headline has been corrected.

In the latest sign that Amazon's enterprise cloud business remains the envy of every other service provider, the amount of data stored in Amazon Web Services (AWS) Simple Storage Service, or S3, is now 2 trillion.

To put that in context, it's double the amount of information stored in S3 since last June, when AWS hit the 1 trillion object milestone. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/25/2013 at 12:48 PM1 comments

IBM Proclaims SSD Flash Storage at a Tipping Point

Advances in solid state disk (SSD)-based flash storage technology are at a "tipping point" for high-performance systems because it can provide vastly faster throughput and lower latency, while slashing datacenter operational and software licensing costs, according to IBM.

Big Blue last week assembled its top technology execs to kick off a major corporate initiative to advance SSD-based flash. The company will invest $1 billion over the next three years to extend its flash technology and integrate it into its server, storage and middleware portfolio. IBM also said it is opening 12 centers of competencies around the world for customers and partners to test and conduct proofs of concept using its flash-based arrays.

Though IBM and its rivals have offered SSDs in their storage systems over the past several years, IBM believes the economics of flash storage make it increasingly more viable for enterprise and cloud-based systems.

Steve Mills, IBM's senior vice president and group executive for software and systems, pegged the price of low-cost disk drives at $2 per gigabyte and high-performance disks costing $6 per gigabyte. While SSD-based flash costs about $10 per gigabyte, Mills argued that because only a portion of spinning disk can actually be used in high-performance systems, the actual cost is also around $10 per gigabyte.

"This is such a profound tipping point," Mills said, speaking at a press conference held at IBM's New York offices. "There's no question that flash is the least expensive, most economical and highest-performance solution." Over the past decade, processor, memory, network, and bus speed and performance has increased tenfold while the speed of mechanical hard disk drives [HDDs] remains the same, according to Mills. "It has lagged," he said.

"We clearly think that the time [for flash] has come," he added. "This idea of using semiconductor technology to store information on a durable basis is what flash is all about."

Flash can also offer substantially faster transaction speeds -- on average just 200 microseconds compared with 3 milliseconds, Mills noted. "By reducing the amount of time, the IO wait that the database in the system is experiencing, you're able to accomplish more," he said.

Several customers were on hand to back up Mills' argument, including Karim Abdullah, director of IT operations at Sprint, which tied IBM's FlashSystem to an IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) to improve access to the wireless provider's 121 distributed call centers worldwide. The volume of calls to Sprint's call center increased dramatically two years ago when the company offered its unlimited data plan, leading to much higher volumes of database queries. "It provided a 45-fold boost in access to that piece of data," Abdullah said of the flash systems.

Al Candela, head of technical services at Thomson Reuters, implemented the flash arrays to build a trading system that could offer much lower latency than the existing architecture with HDDs allowed. "I saw benefits of a 10x improvement in throughput and a similar achievement in latency," Candela said.

Mills also said the ability to read and write from flash storage means applications will require fewer server cores, meaning licensing fees for database, operating system and virtualization software, as well as other line-of-business apps, will be much lower. That may be true, but that doesn't mean some software companies won't try to compensate by raising their licensing fees, warned PundIT analyst Charles King.

"Oracle, as an exemplar, a company that hasn't been shy about adjusting its pricing schema to ensure its profits in the face of emerging technologies," King said. "However, that could also work in IBM's favor. If the company keeps the licensing cost of DB2 steady and Oracle attempts to rejigger its own pricing, the result could make IBM's new FlashSystem solutions look even more compelling."

Because of the much smaller footprint -- Mills described a two-foot rack of flash systems capable of storing a petabyte of data -- datacenter operators can lower their costs by 80 percent, including the power and cooling expenses.

As noted, IBM is not the only company touting SSDs. A growing number of companies such as SolidFire and STORServer are targeting flash storage to enterprises and cloud providers. Incumbent storage system provides like EMC, Hewlett-Packard and NetApp also offer flash technology. Likewise, key public Infrastructure as a Service cloud providers including Amazon Web Services, Rackspace and others offer SSD-based storage.

"IBM claims its hardware-based approach offers better performance than what it called 'flash coupled' software-centric solutions from major competitors like EMC and HP, and it didn't really address smaller and emerging players," King said. "Overall, it's going to take some time to sort out who's faster/fastest and what that means to end users, but IBM's argument for the value of flash was broader and sounder than most pitches I've heard."

I'd have to agree, though the noise level on SSD-based flash from a growing number of players has definitely picked up. And it appears certain that will continue.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/16/2013 at 12:49 PM1 comments

Rackspace To Expand OpenStack Service via Global Partners

On the eve of the biannual gathering of OpenStack developers and stakeholders, Rackspace said it is lining up partners around the world to build their own Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings based on the open source cloud platform.

Rackspace made the announcement at the OpenStack Summit, taking place this week in Portland, Ore. As a founder of the OpenStack project, Rackspace has always said that getting others to deploy cloud services based on OpenStack was critical to its business interests. It has had noteworthy success as a number of players -- including AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Piston Cloud -- have rolled out OpenStack-based cloud services. But Rackspace would like to see a growing ecosystem of smaller providers and telcos around the world on board, as well.

A variety of telcos have asked Rackspace to work with them for some time, according to Jim Curry, senior VP and general manager of Rackspace's private cloud business. Until a few years ago, Curry said Rackspace had other priorities and didn't feel it had a viable offering that was portable. Now that it has OpenStack and successfully spun it off to an independent foundation last year, Curry said the timing was right to help partners deploy OpenStack networks to expand the ecosystem of providers.

"It really is more about a platform battle at this point but it definitely does have business implications for us," he said. "Right now, not too many have expertise in this area. We are among the few who do." Indeed, the effort, if successful, could be a low-cost way for Rackspace to rapidly expand its global footprint.

"We're going to package up what we know how to do in the public cloud and deploy that with service providers and telcos worldwide, and connect it together in a seamless network," Curry said. He indicated that it kills two birds with one stone, in that Rackspace can expand its footprint while doing the same with OpenStack.

The company will offer turnkey OpenStack hardware and software that it will manage for its telco partners. Curry wouldn't say if Rackspace has actually signed any partners but said the company is actively working with a number of them, who played a key role in bringing this solution to market.

Rackspace will manage the service for the partners, though the local providers will own the relationship with customers and will bill them, according to Curry. In addition to helping Rackspace spread the OpenStack footprint, it will help the cloud provider extend its own infrastructure since its customers and those of the partners will effectively share capacity.

"We're not necessarily a company that has to own all of our own datacenters to expand," Curry said. "A lot of these partners have great local market knowledge and access. If we can partner with them around our expertise on cloud and the operations of that, they can be a great partner for reaching into that market and getting access to those customers."


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/16/2013 at 12:49 PM0 comments

Salesforce.com Aims To Simplify Mobile Development

Salesforce.com believes while there's no shortage of mobile applications for consumers, the same can't be said for enterprise apps.

The leading cloud Software as a Service provider believes the reason for that is many enterprise development shops and ISVs that build business apps may have plenty of skilled software and Web application developers, but lack expertise in porting, integrating or building cloud-based apps for mobile devices.

Looking to bring them along, the company this week launched Salesforce Platform Mobile Services, aimed at letting developers and ISVs use their existing skills and preferred programming environments to port their apps to mobile form factors using the company's cloud service as a conduit.

"We've seen the explosion of applications in the consumer side, but enterprises are still learning how to do it, and it's puts into question: Where are all the enterprise mobile apps?" said Adam Seligman, VP of Salesforce developer and partner relations. "We see apps being used for business but currently they're not connected back to corporate data. The notes don't get associated with the project or customer they're associated with. This is a real challenge for a lot of businesses."

The Salesforce Platform Mobile Services includes the new Salesforce Mobile SDK 2.0, an open source project designed to enable enterprise developers to build secure connections between data residing in existing silos and HTML 5, Android or iOS-based mobile apps. It lets developers integrate authentication services and secure offline storage.

The services also include Developer Mobile Packs, templates that allow Web developers to build HTML5 or mobile apps that can provide real-time connections to Salesforce data. The packs use the company's REST-based APIs and a variety of popular JavaScript frameworks, including AngularJS, Backbone.js and jQuery Mobile.

Salesforce has already recruited some of its leading partners -- some old, some new -- to offer training and reference architectures, including Aditi (best known for its Microsoft .NET-oriented cloud integration services) and Appirio, Bluewolf, Capgemini, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Detroit Labs and Tquila.

Looking to kickstart its enterprise mobile app initiative, Salesforce will host a week's worth of developer events in 37 cities worldwide commencing April 22.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/11/2013 at 12:49 PM0 comments