Veeam, Savvis and Parallels Add Cloud Storage

It seems every day, a software supplier or service provider offers new options to use the public cloud for storage and data protection.

The latest came this week, when Veeam Software released a connector that will let users of its backup and recovery software use any of 15 public cloud Infrastructures as a Service (IaaS) as backup targets. Among them are Microsoft's Windows Azure, Rackspace's Cloud Files, HP Cloud and Amazon Web Services' S3 storage and Glacier archiving services.

Veeam Backup Cloud Edition addresses data security with support for AES 256-bit encryption and aims to address network performance via its compression and de-duplication algorithms. Customers can also boost performance using WAN accelerators, explained Rick Vanover, Veeam's product strategy specialist. The company has partnerships with WAN optimization vendor Riverbed and cloud gateway supplier TwinStrata.

Customers can backup virtual machines, Vanover said. The offering allows enterprise customers to choose IaaS providers without having to learn their respective APIs. Are customers really looking to replace traditional tape with the cloud as a backup target? "People have been asking for this," Vanover said.

Last week, cloud provider Savvis announced the release of its Symphony Cloud Storage offering. PJ Farmer, director of Savvis' cloud storage product management, said in a blog post that the service offers "automatic protection from geographic disaster and for easily providing local storage targets for distributed applications."

Based on EMC's Atmos platform, Symphony Cloud Storage offers built-in replication and enables organizations that must address data sovereignty to set policies where data is stored.

But it's not just the big players that are eying storage and backup and recovery. I've talked to a number of providers who target small and medium businesses (SMBs). Cloud storage was a big topic at the Parallels Summit in Las Vegas last week, where the company launched Parallels Cloud Storage, a platform that allows SMB-focused cloud and hosting providers to improve storage capacity and utilization to create self-healing, distributed, high-performance storage pools.

"It's highly available, self-healing and fully fault-tolerant with auto-recovery," explained Parallels CEO Birger Steen. "It looks simple. It's hard to do but conceptually it's pretty simple."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/12/2013 at 12:48 PM0 comments


Startup Ravello Launches Cloud Application Hypervisor

Rami Tamir and Benny Schnaider, who helped lead the development and distribution of the open source KVM hypervisor, on Tuesday launched what they hope will be an encore performance.  

Their latest venture, Ravello Systems, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based company they formed in 2011, has come out of stealth mode. Ravello has developed what it's calling a "cloud application hypervisor." Coinciding with the company's launch, Ravello revealed it has raised a sizeable $26 million in financing from Sequoia Capital, Norwest Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners.

Ravello president and chairman Schnaider said in a statement that the company's Cloud Application Hypervisor "encapsulates multi-VM applications along with their entire environment including the VMs, networking, storage, etc. so that enterprises can run any application in any cloud without making any changes."

It's designed to make it easier for organizations to employ an approach to hybrid cloud computing known as "cloudbursting," where apps running in enterprise datacenters are subject to sudden demands for compute capacity resulting from unpredictable bursts in workload demands or transaction activity. Cloudbursting lets organizations obtain that compute from a public cloud provider.

Ravello's Cloud Application Hypervisor is designed to "normalize the application environment across private and public cloud," making it possible to run, taking into account the infrastructure discrepancies between the two, noted CEO Tamir.

Both Tamir and Schnaider are hoping to repeat their earlier success when they founded KVM distributor Qumranet, which Red Hat acquired in 2008. Tamir went on to become VP of engineering at Red Hat and Schnaider VP of development. Another Qumranet alumnus, Navin Thadani, who ran the virtualization business at Red Hat, has joined Ravello as senior VP of products.

Tuesday's launch includes the release of the public beta of Ravello's service designed to let developers simulate their existing apps to run in public and private clouds without changing them.

The company counts Amazon Web Services, Rackspace and HP's cloud services business as its initial partners.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/05/2013 at 12:48 PM3 comments


IBM Aims To Move SAP Customers to Its SmartCloud Service

IBM has offered SAP consulting, integration and implementation services for decades so it should come as little surprise that it's looking to migrate those customers to the cloud. What's surprising is that an unlikely rival beat Big Blue to the punch -- and I'm not referring to Accenture, Capgemini or Hewlett-Packard.

Amazon Web Services and SAP made a big splash together at re: Invent, AWS's first-ever customer, developer and partner conference held in late November. AWS has certified SAP's key offerings to run in EC2, including the SAP Business Suite, HANA One, Business All-in-One, Business Objects BI solutions, SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS) and Afaria.

While more customers by far use Amazon's EC2 to host their systems and apps than any other cloud service provider, IBM officials aren't worried about their customers fleeing. Dennis Quan, IBM's VP of SmartCloud services, argues Amazon can't match IBM's 99.7 percent SLA combined with its Business Consulting Services and industry-specific SAP expertise. As you may recall, IBM back in October launched SmartCloud Application Services (SCAS), a platform as a service (PaaS) offering for enterprises to run production applications. This is the first SCAS deliverable and Quan told me on Monday that it goes beyond just letting customers host SAP instances.

"What we're doing is building on a base of dedicated services to enterprise clients and coupling that with specific expertise in SAP," Quan said. For now, IBM is only offering the SAP Business Suite and Business Objects BI portfolio as a managed PaaS offering. Asked if there are plans to support other SAP products, notably HANA, the company's rapidly growing in-memory database platform, Quan said IBM isn't prepared to discuss future offerings.

IBM of course has its own database offerings, notably DB2, and many of its SAP customers already use it. Asked if his company has concerns that customers will choose HANA over DB2, Quan didn't rule out offering SAP's database. "Our customers run a variety of workloads," he said. "A lot of then make use of IBM technologies and a lot use technology from competitors."

The SAP service is the first of a number of software as a service (SaaS) offerings IBM will offer under its SmartCloud umbrella in the coming year, according to Quan.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/29/2013 at 12:48 PM0 comments


Cloud Service Targets Agile Development with Visual Studio and TFS

If your shop has groups of Visual Studio developers who use Microsoft's Team Foundation Server (TFS) looking to enable more agile development and testing processes, a new cloud-based offering aims to automate the provisioning of these tools.

The new service is not from Microsoft but rather Skytap, a boutique provider of cloud-based infrastructure targeted at developers. The Skytap Automation Pack for Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server is designed to dynamically create development and testing environments by automatically provisioning TFS, Visual Studio and Microsoft's Testing Manager workflows using Skytap Cloud.

Sumit Mehrotra, Skytap's director of product management, explained that developers can use the automation pack in a variety of scenarios, such as those building .NET client apps and for n-Tier server environments such as SharePoint Web Parts. The automation pack is designed to make it easier to define environments and bring them up repeatedly via the click of a button or an API call, according to Mehrotra.

"Within a minute you can stand-up a complex SharePoint Web Part and deploy it to that farm," Mehrotra said. "And you can do it multiple times and multiple people can do it in parallel. That ease of use really puts the speed back in agile development."

Though Skytap is an established cloud provider, I asked Mehrotra why shops would opt to run it on his company's service rather than Microsoft's Windows Azure. While there's no reason one couldn't do that, he argued that "it would take a fair bit of effort to set up that environment and set up the capabilities, so it could be served up as a golden template and copies of it could be brought up at the click of a button."

The company launched the Skytap Automation Pack for Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server at the Microsoft ALM 3 Summit, taking place this week in Redmond.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/29/2013 at 12:48 PM0 comments


Amazon Adds High-Memory Cluster Instances to EC2

Amazon Web Services now wants customers to use its EC2 cloud infrastructure to perhaps sequence the human genome and perform other compute-intensive advanced analytics using in-memory databases such as HANA from its partner SAP.

The latest EC2 instance for in-memory computing is aimed at hosting applications that "have a voracious need for compute power, memory, and network bandwidth such as in-memory databases, graph databases, and memory intensive HPC," according to AWS evangelist Jeff Barr in a blog post.

Configured with a total of 88 ECUs (EC2 compute units), it's based on two Intel E5-2670 processors with NUMA (non-uniform memory access) support, 244 GB of RAM and two 120 GB solid state drives (SSDs) for instance storage. It requires hardware virtual machines (HVMs) and supports only Amazon Elastic Block Storage AMIs. It supports 10 Gbps networking.

"You can use it to run applications that are hungry for lots of memory and that can take advantage of 32 hyper-threaded cores (16 per processor)," Barr noted, adding that support for Intel's Turbo Boost feature also adds to the performance boost. "When the operating system requests the maximum possible processing power, the CPU increases the clock frequency while monitoring the number of active cores, the total power consumption and the processor temperature. The processor runs as fast as possible while staying within its documented temperature envelope."

Pricing starts at $3.50 per hour for Linux instances and $3.831 per hour for Windows instances, currently available in Amazon's U.S. East Region in Northern Virginia. Barr noted Amazon plans to make the instances available in other regions, though he didn't say when.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/22/2013 at 12:48 PM0 comments


Red Hat Extends Cloud Management with ManageIQ

Look for Red Hat to step up its portfolio of cloud management wares now that it has acquired ManageIQ. The company today said it has closed the $104 million deal announced last month during the holidays.

Acquiring the New Jersey-based company will let Red Hat flesh out its CloudForms Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) management tooling. Like BMC, CA, Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft, RightScale and VMware, among others, Red Hat is looking to offer "single pane of glass management" of public and private cloud infrastructures.

ManageIQ's EVM suite is built on the company's so-called Adaptive Management Platform, aimed at providing common monitoring, administration and view to multiple public and private cloud platforms. It can manage Amazon Web Services EC2 and infrastructure based on OpenStack, as well as VMware's vCloud-based services and virtualization environments from VMware, Microsoft and Red Hat. Furthermore, it has hooks into enterprise management systems from BMC, CA, HP, Microsoft and ServiceNow, and supports virtual desktop infrastructures.

At the core of ManageIQ's EVM is its Virtual Management Database (VMDB), which it describes as a low-latency but scalable engine that simplifies the automation of management tasks by "eliminating the need to federate management databases." The platform provides automated policy management, orchestration and workflows, while tracking relationships and providing directory-based classification and role-based access control.

Red Hat officials said on a webcast today outlining its plans for ManageIQ that the ability to manage multiple clouds, operating systems and VM infrastructures is critical. "It's going to be very important for enterprises, as they move towards this new cloud architecture, that [IT has] the ability to bring in the diversity of infrastructure and the diversity of resources into the same cloud environment," said Bryan Che, general manager of Red Hat's cloud business unit. "Enterprises don't want to be setting up 100 new cloud silos and having to manage them with 100 new different set of management tools, one for every single workload that they want to stand out."

Che, joined by ManageIQ co-founder and chief products officer Joseph Fitzgerald, said the goal is to integrate ManageIQ EVM with Red Hat's CloudForms. In essence, ManageIQ EVM fills holes in CloudForms and vice versa. ManageIQ offers operational management of the virtualized and cloud infrastructure by providing monitoring, orchestration, analytics and chargeback, among other features, Che explained. "These are all capabilities which we have not built out in CloudForms," he said.

CloudForms has enabled the management of cloud infrastructure and aggregating capacity and configuring infrastructure, while offering application lifecycle management capabilities, which were lacking from ManageIQ, Che said. "We think it's a very good fit in terms of how the technologies come together," he said.

Integrating the two should be relatively straightforward, he argued, because both are based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and developed in Ruby on Rails. Che gave no timeframe for when the company will release the integrated platform.

Che also noted that given Red Hat's open source legacy, ManageIQ's technologies will be made available to developers, though he didn't reveal specifics.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/22/2013 at 12:48 PM0 comments


HP's Public Cloud GM Departs

Hewlett-Packard on Thursday confirmed the departure of the architect of its public cloud effort, Zorawar "Biri" Singh, who was senior vice president and general manager.

Singh's departure was first reported by All Things D. Singh oversaw HP's efforts to build a public Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering that would compete with the likes of Amazon Web Services, Rackspace and his former employer IBM.

I spoke with Singh last year and he was quite bullish about HP's prospects in both competing and partnering with Amazon. I'd say it's too early to write that effort off as a failure, but I've also seen little evidence that it has made strong inroads.

CRN raises the question: Was Singh pushed or did he jump? At this time, it's unclear whether he was poached by a competitor or left due to a reorganization that led to the launch of a consolidated Converged Cloud business that combined HP's various cloud efforts.

Under that reorg, former CTO of networking Saar Gillai, who had reported to Singh, was named general manager of the new cross-divisional organization. Gillai now reports to HP COO Bill Veghte. HP's VP of technology and customer operations for its Cloud Services business will run HP Cloud Services in an interim basis.

Have you bought into HP's public and cloud initiative? I'd like to hear how you're using its private and public cloud offerings. Drop me a line at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/18/2013 at 12:48 PM7 comments


Startup NuoDB Launches Relational Database for Cloud

One of the key inhibitors to using cloud infrastructures for applications that process thousands or even millions of transactions per second is the latency associated with those architectures. Storage, security and the network can all impact cloud performance. Another variable is the database, which is pivotal to modern systems that process real-time data that can range from the processing of financial transactions to feeds that populate social media networks.

Startup NuoDB, financed and operated by veterans of the database industry, hopes to solve the issue of processing and transacting real-time data in public, private and hybrid cloud architectures. At a lavish event in Boston on Tuesday, the company hosted a coming-out party where officials and some early customers explained how the company hopes to re-invent the database for the cloud era.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company claims its Cloud Data Management System (CDMS) called NuoDB Starlings 1.0 has unique technology (and patents) that address the issue of scaling out while also supporting traditional SQL commands and reliable ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation and Durability) transactions.

In addition, Starlings runs on commodity hardware, handles unstructured data and non-SQL models and most importantly is designed for elastic scale-out and scale-down cloud architectures. It is also designed to ensure reliability in cloud scenarios where network latency is an issue.

On Monday I spoke with NuoDB CEO and Co-Founder Barry Morris, who described Starlings as a single logical relational database management system that can scale by simply adding multiple servers. Morris argued that traditional SQL DBMSes from the likes of Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and SAP's Sybase unit can't do that at Web scale (they would beg to differ). He also claimed Starlings can process 1 million transactions per second on 24 hosts running on commodity hardware costing about $50,000, according to a Yahoo Cloud Serving Benchmark (YCSB).

"All we are doing is right-clicking and adding another machine. We are not doing any clever partitioning of this data or building of caching systems or anything," Morris said. "You just add more machines and it goes faster."

It's also designed to address the network latency issue associated with cloud computing. "The network behaviors on these clouds are highly unpredictable, in terms of latency," Morris said. "If you've got 20 to 30 to 50 machines all taking part in a database and you don't know how long it will take to send a message across the network in the Amazon cloud, that's a problem for database systems. Our system is carefully designed so all those communications are asynchronous, so we are actually quite tolerant of these cloud systems."

Pointing to a published benchmark of one of the world's fastest transaction-oriented database architectures, an Oracle Database 11g R2 Enterprise Edition with RAC and partitioning running on SPARC SuperCluster servers could cost more than $2 million per year to process 500,000 transactions per second, Morris reasoned. He cited TPC-C benchmarks (though I must admit I don't give a whole lot of credence to such comparisons since they are simulations).

At any rate Morris argued the Starlings database would cost 20 percent of a traditional RDMS topology, though he acknowledged the 1.0 release hasn't been tested in scenarios with petabytes of data. He estimates a 500 gigabyte Starlings database would cost $15,000. It can run on premises or in public clouds. The company offers up to 4 GB of data running on up to two hosts free of charge indefinitely. Add two more hosts and 16 GB or more and pricing starts at $1,200 per year, according to the company's Web site. NuoDB offers unlimited capacity free of charge to developers.

About 20 percent of the company's 3,500 early customers are running Starlings in public clouds, primarily using Amazon Web Services EC2 and Simple Storage Service (S3), though plans call for testing on other services, Morris said. Among the customers using Starlings are auto parts retailer AutoZone, IT service provider NorthPoint Solutions, and food service and hospitality supplier Compliance Metrix.

Time will tell if NuoDB shakes up the database market as it claims it will. But given the credentials and brain trust behind the NuoDB team, the company is certainly worthy of attention.

The inventor of the NuoDB Emergent Architecture that powers Starlings is Jim Starkey, who in the late '70s developed Rdb at Digital Equipment Corp., the core relational database engine that DEC ultimately sold to Oracle in 1994. Starkey later went on to found Interbase Software, which provided popular RDMBSes for engineering workstations. In 2000, he founded Netinfrastructure, where developed a Web-scale relational engine that was later acquired by MySQL. At the end of last year, his work done at NuoDB, he retired.

Morris' credentials include CEO stints at Iona Technologies, a provider of popular transaction-oriented middleware that was acquired by Progress Software, and later Streambase Systems, a popular supplier of complex event processing software.

Also worth noting, as Morris pointed out, is all of the code was developed by the company. For better or worse, it's not based on open source code. If you're testing Starlings, drop me a line at [email protected] or share you observations in the comments section below.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/15/2013 at 12:48 PM1 comments


Alfresco Taps Doug Dennerline for CEO

In a move to accelerate its shift to the cloud, enterprise content management supplier Alfresco named Silicon Valley veteran Doug Dennerline as its new CEO, replacing co-founder John Powell.

Dennerline spent much of his career at Cisco, where he ran its WebEx division. Among his other cloud credentials, Dennerline worked for Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff as executive VP of sales and most recently as president of SuccessFactors, a software as a service talent management provider that SAP acquired last year for $3.4 million.

Alfresco, a London-based software provider that counts the United States for half its sales, will extend its presence in San Francisco looking to tap the region's IT sales, marketing and development expertise. The company made a major move toward enabling its ECM platform to run in the cloud as a service and target mobile devices a year ago with the release Alfresco Enterprise 4.

In an interview on Monday, Dennerline said he found Alfresco's desire to accelerate the company's cloud push, support for mobile devices along with its steady growth and its open source model appealing.

"I've been living in the cloud for seven years and watching what CIOs are doing and being asked to do in terms of making use of the public cloud, which seems to be pretty well accepted around the world now," Dennerline said. "CEOs are going to CIOs and saying, 'You need to lower the cost of your infrastructure and the applications you're supporting to the end users, and candidly you need to give them a better experience than they now have so they can be more productive.'"

The company said it just completed its 24th consecutive quarter of year-over-year revenue growth with numerous deals valued at $1 million and higher. Dennerline sounded like he has ambitious plans for Alfresco, which he admitted he hopes will include an initial public offering.

"That would be on an ideal outcome here," he said. "We are on trajectory in terms of growth and number of customers and are growing at a steady pace. If we can accelerate that, that would be something we would want to do because we will need the public market financing to help us grow even faster than we already are."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/15/2013 at 12:48 PM2 comments


BYOD and Cloud Fuel IDMaaS Landscape in 2013

The growing use of tablets, smart phones and cloud services is making it more complicated for IT organizations to manage user authentication and authorization to enterprise resources – as if it wasn’t difficult enough.

Consequently, the market for technology that provides secure single sign on is heating up. I delved into growing identity management as a services (IDMaaS) landscape a few months ago (see Going Cloud: Identity Management as a Service). In recent weeks, a number of companies have moved to up the IDMaaS ante including Centrify, Microsoft and Okta. And this week IBM rolled out an upgrade to its Tivoli Security Access Manager, with the launch of ISAM v. 7.0.

There’re a slew of other players including CA, Intel and its McAfee division, Ping Identity, SailPoint, Simplified, Symantec and VMware, among others that have furthered their push to advance IDMaaS in 2012 and will undoubtedly continue to do so in the coming year.

Looking at the latest developments alphabetically, Centrify earlier this month launched DirectControl for SaaS, which authenticates users via their Active Directory credentials to access software as a service-based solutions. Among those SaaS offerings Centrify supports include Box, Google Apps, Marketo, Microsoft’s Office 365, Postini, Salesforce.com, WebEx, Zendesk and Zoho. 

Centrify designed DirectControl for SaaS to allow single sign on access to these and other SaaS with a user’s Active Directory credentials, explained Centrify CEO Tom Kemp. Users can access any resource tied to Active Directory from traditional mobile PCs as well as Android and iOS-based smartphones and tablets whether they’re company issued or owned by employees.

Kemp said Centrify’s new offering doesn’t require changes to Active Directory or to endpoint security systems. “Our cloud offering is in effect an identity bridge to a customer's Active Directory,” Kemp said.

IBM’s new Tivoli ISAM v7.0 tackles IDMaaS from a slightly different perspective. Like Centrify’s offering, Big Blue said it provides context-aware management for mobile devices. But the new ISAM is helps centrally manage rights throughout the policy lifecycle from file creation to publishing, while enforcing compliance requirements.

In addition to controlling access to in-house systems, apps and data, the new ISAM release provides federated single sign on to various cloud service providers.

Looking to extend its Active Directory technology to the cloud, Microsoft is expected to launch Windows Azure Active Directory at some point next year. While Microsoft hasn’t said when it will be generally available, the WAAD is now available for beta testing.

Active Directory made its move to the cloud in 2011 with the launch of Office 365, when Microsoft permitted customers to federate their Active Directory domains to the service. Now users’ Active Directory credentials can be found in a Microsoft’s other cloud offerings including the online versions of its Dynamics applications and Windows Intune.

The next step for Active Directory’s cloud migration is to Microsoft’s Windows Azure service. In beta now, Microsoft last month said it will over access control in Windows Azure Active Directory (WAAD), free of charge upon release.

“If you’re building a service in Windows Azure, you can create your own tenant in Azure and create users and we let you manage those users, who can be connected to your cloud services,” Uday Hegde, principal group program manager for Active Directory at Microsoft told me earlier this month. Furthermore, Hegde said Windows Server customers running Active Directory on premise can connect to WAAD and avail all its features.

Microsoft is betting its large customer base running Active Directory will propagate it to WAAD. It stands to reason those who move Windows Server apps to Windows Azure, or build new ones will provide authentication services through WAAD.

Yet there’s a lot of money riding on IDMaaS alternatives. Okta earlier this month received a cash infusion of $25 million in Series C funding led by Sequoia Capital, bringing the total amount it has raised to $52 million.

Okta is using Active Directory and WAAD APIs to enable single sign on to SaaS and traditional apps. “A CIO wants to have one single identity system that connects them to these different applications,” said Okta VP Eric Berg.

Indeed I've heard that refrain for many years. We’ll see if the latest offerings, and a number of others, deliver.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 12/20/2012 at 6:23 AM0 comments


Citrix Bolters Its MDM Solutions with Zenprise Buy

Citrix wants to ensure its place in managing employee-owned tablets, PCs and smartphones as well as cloud-based file sharing with the planned acquisition of leading MDM supplier Zenprise.

Citrix announced the agreement on Tuesday, for undisclosed terms. Citrix plans to integrate the Zenprise MobileManager, Zencloud and Zensuite offerings with its own MDM solution CloudGateway and the [email protected] portfolio, which includes the respective GoToMeeting and ShareFile cloud-based conferencing and document storage services.

"Consumerization and BYO have given rise to very difficult challenges for businesses in enabling a productive, mobile workforce while still maintaining tight controls over company information," said Sumit Dhawan, Citrix vice president and general manager of mobile solutions. "Zenprise was a clear choice for Citrix, with its leading MDM product, an experienced team, a history of innovation, and a footprint on more than one million devices. With a complete Citrix enterprise mobility solution, customers have all the necessary pieces to manage and secure mobile apps, content and devices."

When Citrix launched CloudGateway last year, it described it as a tool to manage and securely distribute mobile apps in addition to managing PCs, Web and software as a service (SaaS) apps. It remains to be seen how Zenprise tools are integrated with CloudGateway but Zenprise has focused on MDM for nearly a decade and is seen as a leader by analyst firms Forrester and Gartner.

Presumably it means Zenprise will also provide management of Citirix's various cloud offerings including its new ShareFile. But Zenprise's flagship MobileManager software allows IT to control the deployment, configuration, provisioning based on enterprise policies, security (including the blocking of data synchronization with public cloud services such as iCloud), monitoring and decommissioning (wiping) of devices.

For those that don't want to deploy Zenprise MobileManager on site, the company offers Zencloud, which promsines 100 percent uptime SLAs and is housed in SSAE 16/SOC1, FISMA Moderate compliant facility.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 12/06/2012 at 6:23 AM5 comments


Amazon Brings Data Warehousing to the Cloud

Less than seven years ago, Amazon Web Services disrupted traditional datacenter computing with its cloud-based infrastructure services, allowing enterprise customers to provision compute and storage and pay based on usage without having to make capital outlays for hardware or software. Many who have moved to this model of paying for IT infrastructure as an operational expense have enjoyed considerable reductions in capital expenditures.

Now, Amazon is looking to similarly upend the way organizations deploy data warehouses.

Kicking off its first-ever partner and customer conference on Wednesday, Amazon launched a cloud-based data warehousing service called Redshift. Amazon says the service will substantially reduce the cost of deploying data warehouses by eliminating the need to acquire conventional software and hardware provided by the likes of EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and Teradata.

In his opening keynote address at the company's re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, Amazon Web Services Senior VP Andy Jassy cited an IBM-commissioned report that found typical data warehouse installations can cost anywhere from $19,000 to $25,000 per terabyte per year. Using reserved data warehouse instances on Amazon's forthcoming Redshift, the average annual cost per terabyte will amount to less than $1,000 per TB year, according to Jassy.

"It allows you to easily and rapidly analyze petabytes of data. It's about a tenth of the cost of traditional data warehouse solutions. It automates the deployment and it works with the popular business intelligence tools," Jassy told 6,000 attendees present at re:Invent and 12,000 registered viewers (including yours truly) of the live webcast.

Customers can choose from either 16 TB nodes or 2 TB nodes and can configure up to 100 nodes per hour up to 1.6 petabytes starting at 85 cents per hour for a 2 TB node. The data is stored in columnar format, Jassy said, which means that the I/O moves much more quickly and queries of data will render much faster than a typical data warehouse solution. The service supports queries with standard SQL, JDBC and ODBC, he noted.

The parent company of AWS, the flagship Amazon retail site, has been testing Redshift for several months. Jassy said the group took 2 billion rows of data and ran six of its most complex queries typically performed in its existing Netezza (now part of IBM) data warehouse. On two 16-terabyte nodes of Redshift, it cost $3.65 per hour equating to $32,000 per year. "Instead of spending millions of dollars, they spent $32,000 a year and ended up with 10 times faster queries," Jassy said.

"Some multi-hour queries finish in under an hour, and some queries that took five to 19 minutes on our current data warehouse are now returning in seconds with Amazon Redshift," said Erik Selberg, manager of Amazon.com's data warehouse team, in a statement.

Redshift's underlying data warehouse engine is powered by ParAccel, a venture-backed company with a deep bench of data warehousing veterans that offers its own high performance analytic database. Initially Redshift will support BI tools from Jaspersoft and MicroStrategy but Jassy said it will also support other leading tools including Cognos from IBM and BusinessObjects from SAP. Early customers that are already participating in a private beta are Flipboard, the team of NASA/Jet Propulsion Labs, Netflix and Schumacher Group.

The service is available now for a limited preview but Amazon is targeting early next year to make Redshift commercially available.

So will Redshift take a bite out of the traditional data warehousing business? That remains to be seen but if Amazon delivers the price-performance that it's promising, it'll offer a compelling alternative, particularly to organizations that can't afford a traditional data warehouse today that have the need to analyze information.

"It doesn't necessarily mean customers are going to chuck the data warehouses they've already got," said Forrester Research analyst James Staten in a telephone interview. "If you've already go one you've already sunk that cost in. But if you're going to have to double or triple that data warehouse in size, it's really going to be hard to justify the cost of keeping them on premises."

That said, despite the rapid growth of the cloud business of Amazon and other providers, many organizations remain reluctant to move mission-critical or sensitive data off premise and that could certainly impact how quickly data warehousing and big data analytics moves to the cloud.

Jassy made clear Amazon will continue its path to be a disruptive force in datacenter computing and I'll spell that out in a post on Thursday following Amazon CTO Werner Vogels' keynote.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 11/28/2012 at 6:23 AM0 comments


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