Amazon Steps Up Enterprise Support for Cloud Services

While Amazon Web Services is the undisputed leading provider of cloud computing services, competitors often are able to legitimately put forth a value proposition centered on customer support. That argument might become a tad more difficult now that Amazon has said it will offer higher-touch customer support.

Amazon announced today it is extending its free support and reducing the cost of premium tiers while adding more support services. The company also said it is will be more proactive in alerting enterprise customers of opportunities to lower their costs or improve performance. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/14/2012 at 1:14 PM0 comments

Oracle Public Cloud Is Finally Available

Culminating seven years of development and billions of dollars in investment, Larry Ellison officially took the wraps off Oracle Public Cloud. At a launch event Wednesday, which was expected, Oracle CEO Ellison said all the vendor's key infrastructure and applications are now available as cloud services.

The long-planned effort, known internally as "Fusion," will allow customers to procure Oracle's broad product line as elastic, consumption-based services. Despite trailing its rivals in offering a broad cloud portfolio, Ellison argued Oracle is now delivering a public cloud service that lets enterprise IT customers seamlessly move their premises apps to its cloud and vice versa. "You can move things gracefully back and forth. You're not making a forever commitment to keep it on our cloud," Ellison said. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/07/2012 at 1:14 PM0 comments

Microsoft Covers the Bases with Revamped Azure

Whether or not Microsoft succeeds in making its Windows Azure platform a viable alternative to the Amazon Web Services cloud portfolio, it won't be for lack of trying. Microsoft on Thursday took the wraps off a major refresh of its two-year old Windows Azure service that could make it a formidable infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider.

At an event in San Francisco that was webcast, Microsoft corporate VP Scott Guthrie outlined the new Windows Azure. In addition to offering IaaS, Microsoft is adding support for Linux servers. Though Microsoft revealed its plans late Wednesday, Guthrie made it official at Thursday's launch event and in a blog post. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/07/2012 at 1:14 PM0 comments

HP Includes Amazon with New Hybrid Cloud Offerings

Looking to broaden connectivity from its private cloud portfolio of hardware and software, Hewlett-Packard this week said it is extending links to Amazon Web Services EC2 as well as its own forthcoming HP Cloud service.

The move to allow customers to burst workloads between its private cloud software and hardware and public cloud services is one of a number of noteworthy announcements HP made at its Discover 2012 conference taking place in Las Vegas this week. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/07/2012 at 1:14 PM0 comments

Microsoft Talks Up Active Directory as a Service

Identity management is a key focus in managing ensuring security in the cloud, a technology Microsoft has invested heavily in. The company has a major effort afoot to extend Active Directory, the widely used component of Windows Server for enterprise authentication and identity management, into the cloud.

Microsoft already lets users access Office 365, Dynamics CRM and Windows Intune services via its new Windows Azure Active Directory (WAAD), but its goal is to broadly offer cloud-based authentication and single sign-on as a service.

While the company has remained rather quiet about WAAD, it's starting to disseminate more information. For one, WAAD is not simply a port of the premises-based version of Active Directory bundled with Windows Server. That wouldn't provide the Internet scale and high availability to reliably offer such a service, explained Microsoft technical fellow John Shewchuk in a blog post last week. Here's the upshot:

To make the Active Directory service operate at extremely high scale and with very high availability (including the ability to do incremental servicing) and provide integrated disaster recovery, we made significant changes to the internal architecture of Active Directory and moved from a server-based system to a scale-out, cloud-based system. For example, instead of having an individual server operate as the Active Directory store and issue credentials, we split these capabilities into independent roles. We made issuing tokens a scale-out role in Windows Azure, and we partitioned the Active Directory store to operate across many servers and between data centers.

Beyond these architectural changes, it was also clear that we needed to reimagine how Active Directory would operate in the cloud. In talking with many developers, customers, and partners, we heard that they wanted us to enhance the ability for Active Directory to "connect" -- to the new Internet-based identities from Google, Facebook, and other social networks; to new SaaS applications; and to other cloud platforms.

This process has taken many years, Shewchuk noted. Now that it's baked into Office 365, Dynamics and Intune, select organizations are building applications using WAAD. One example he cites is easyJet in Europe, which is using WAAD and the Windows Azure Service Bus for passenger check-in and other tasks by gate managers.

In a follow-up post due to hit any day, Shewchuk said he will explain how Microsoft is looking to make it easier for developers to tie WAAD to their apps and use it to secure social enterprises.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/31/2012 at 1:14 PM0 comments

Oracle Planning Public Cloud Launch

Look next week for Oracle to release its public cloud platform as a service (PaaS). CEO Larry Ellison presaged the June 6 kickoff Wednesday evening at the D: All Things Digital conference in an interview with influential blogger and editor Kara Swisher.

"We're announcing the general availability of the Oracle Cloud," Ellison said. "Platform as a Service. Database Service, Java Service and a bunch of applications. All on top of other acquisitions, like Taleo for talent management."

Ellison described Taleo, a company Oracle acquired earlier this year for $1.9 billion, as a complex cloud-based ERP and HR suite that run on Oracle hardware in their own Oracle virtual machines. Around the same time, the company also acquired RightNow, a cloud-based provider of customer service apps, for $1.5 billion.

Oracle announced Oracle Public Cloud at its OpenWorld conference back in October. The company said the suite of services were built to run Oracle applications, middleware and database products as a self-service offering available for both cloud and premises-based deployment.

The company's cloud portfolio is divided into two service categories: applications and platforms. Application Services consists of Fusion CRM, Fusion HCM (human capital management) and a Social Network, an offering that provides secure collaboration using social networking concepts. Platform Services is divided among offering Java-based infrastructure and database hosting.

Ellison pointed out that Oracle Cloud will take a different approach to cloud computing than other offerings, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required). Rather than building Oracle Cloud on a multi-tenant architecture where multiple instances run on the same hardware, the company is emphasizing its VMs, which Ellison argues gives customers more control over upgrades.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/31/2012 at 1:14 PM0 comments

MongoDB Supplier 10gen Scoops $42M in Funding

10gen, the company backing the popular open-source NoSQL-based MongoDB database and a cloud-based monitoring service to support it, today said it has received a cash infusion of $42 million.

Leading the latest round of venture funding was New Enterprise Associates and backed by existing investors Sequoia Capital, Flybridge Capital Partners and Union Square Ventures. In total 10Gen has raised $73 million. The huge investment is the latest sign that MongoDB is gaining momentum as a repository for emerging big data applications.

Former DoubleClick founder and CTO Dwight Merriman and Eliot Horowitz, also an engineer coming from DoubleClick, which is now part of Google, led development of MongoDB and subsequently launched 10gen.

MongoDB is popular because it is better suited than traditional relational databases for handling documents and other unstructured data types. Unlike relational databases designed to store data in tables and rows, MongoDB stores JSON-type content with dynamic schemas. MongoDB aims to "bridge the gap between key-value stores (which are fast and scalable) and relational databases (which have rich functionality)," according to a FAQ on the 10gen site.

"We want to change the database market, to make MongoDB the best way for companies to build new applications," said Merriman, who is now10gen's CEO. "Our goal is to give tech teams not only a database that scales to any big data level required but also helps developers be productive and more nimble. That has been the vision of the MongoDB open source community and we want to continue to help make that happen."

MongoDB databases are frequently stored on cloud-based infrastructure such as Amazon Web Services EC2 and Microsoft's Windows Azure, among other services. 10gen said it plans to invest the funding in further development of MongoDB and the cloud-based MongoDB Monitoring Service as well extending support for its customers and community of developers.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/29/2012 at 1:14 PM0 comments

Google Apps Gains ISO 27001 Security Certification

Google has picked up another key security certification for its namesake cloud-based productivity suite. Google Apps is now ISO 27001-certified, the company announced Monday.

The ISO 27001 standard is recognized internationally and like other cloud security certifications such as SAS 70, SSAE 16/ISAE 3402, and FISMA, it is important to enterprise customers wary of using the cloud because they don't know if their data is safe. Gaining ISO 27001 certification requires an independent third-party audit. Google's auditor, Ernst & Young CertifyPoint, certified Google Apps.

"ISO 27001 is one of the most widely recognized, internationally accepted independent security standards and we have earned it for the systems, technology, processes and data centers serving Google Apps for Business," wrote Eran Feigenbaum, director of security for Google's enterprise business line.

Microsoft's Office 365 is also ISO 27001 certified, taking that argument off the table as both companies battle for enterprise customers. ISO 27001 is particularly important to multinational companies that are bound either by regulations or customer requirements that ISO 27001 audits have been conducted by validated third-party auditors, explained Dave Anders, CEO and managing partner at Phoenix-based SecuraStar Information Security, a consultancy focused solely on helping large enterprises prepare for ISO 27001 audits.

IS0 27001 certification is a complex process but in short it means an organization has an information security management system that outlines a company's risk assessment and controls in place to address that risk. The standard covers IT assets, personnel as well as physical security of datacenters. "One of the most important aspects is risk and how it's controlled," Anders said, in an interview.

Google said its ISO 27001 certification covers its systems, applications, people, technology processes and datacenters using Google Apps for Business. "What they are now telling the world is they have reasonable validation," Anders said. "It doesn't mean they won't have a break-in or loss of confidentiality, integrity and availability, which is the three-risk components in ISO 27001, but they're saying they have reasonable assurance that they've put a value on risk and they are addressing that value on risk to mitigate it with controls and that somebody has checked it, that's their reasonable assurance."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/29/2012 at 1:14 PM1 comments

SAP Boosts Cloud Shift with Deal To Acquire Ariba

Software giant SAP doesn't get much recognition when it comes to the topic of cloud computing, but it's not for lack of trying. The company last week used its annual Sapphire conference in Orlando to talk up some new SaaS initiatives, including new pairings from its recent $3.4 billion acquisition of human capital management provider SuccessFactors, a pact with Amazon Web Services to support SAP's Business All-In-One and Business Objects software on the EC2 cloud service, and plans to offer SAP's Sybase Afaria mobile device management platform on the AWS Marketplace.

But the big news came Tuesday when SAP said it is shelling out $4.3 billion to acquire Ariba, which operates the giant B-to-B cloud-based supply chain management network. Ariba gained fame in the late 1990s with its supplier relationship management (SRM) platform, which matches those procuring goods with sellers. SRM networks helped level the playing field and reshape the economics of supply chain management once defined by costly legacy electronic data interchange (EDI) networks. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/24/2012 at 1:14 PM0 comments

GigaSpaces Targets Clouds for Real-Time Analytics of Big Data

GigaSpaces this week rolled out a new version of its application virtualization software designed to process massive amounts of streamed data and allow users to analyze it in real time.

The company's XAP 9.0 can run in an enterprise datacenter or within a public cloud environment. The software is designed to take the proliferation of big data coming from various sources -- such as social media and financial and Web transactions -- and allow business users to extract and analyze that data in real time. Founded 12 years ago, the Israeli-based company with U.S. headquarters in New York is well regarded for its in-memory processing technology. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/24/2012 at 1:14 PM0 comments

Hybrid Clouds and Big Data Emphasized at EMC World

Hybrid clouds and big data took center stage at this week's annual EMC World conference in Las Vegas. EMC rolled out a record 42 new products crossing all of the company's key lines -- and some new ones.

Describing this year's bevy of new products as a "sweeping refresh" that spans its portfolio of storage, backup, virtualization and management hardware and software, EMC is taking such a holistic view of hybrid clouds and big data. EMC's emphasis on hybrid clouds and big data, though not surprising, is an important indicator that like most major IT providers, the company expects its storage and Documentum enterprise content management platform to evolve into services that are consumed by enterprises. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/23/2012 at 1:14 PM0 comments

EMC Jumps into Cloud-Based File Management

EMC has agreed to acquire closely held Syncplicity, operator of a cloud-based file management service. EMC, which made the announcement on Monday at the EMC World conference, is the latest to jump into the file storage market, now dominated by the likes of Box and Dropbox, along with established players including Amazon, Apple, Citrix, Google and Microsoft.

Syncplicity counts Amazon, Google, Microsoft and as partners and, like many looking to expand in the cloud storage space, the company is targeting business users. In its announcement, EMC argued Syncplicity's service is different than others because it is aimed at enterprise users, allowing them to share data on any device with security and governance. The services let organizations maintain, synchronize, share and backup their files. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/23/2012 at 1:14 PM0 comments

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