CloudShare Gains $10 Million in Funding

CloudShare this week said it has bagged $10 million in new funding led by Globespan Capital Partners, joined by existing backers Sequoia Capital, Charles River Ventures and Gemini Israel Funds.

The company has raised a total of $26 million in three rounds since its founding in 2005. CloudShare said it will use the funding to expand its sales and market presence.

CloudShare lets developers and IT admins build, share, test, demo and train on business applications on its cloud-based infrastructure using a browser. Among its customers are Cisco, SAP, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, McAfee and Adobe. Overall, CloudShare says it has 50,000 customers.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 07/07/2011 at 1:14 PM0 comments

Dimension Data Acquires OpSource

Dimension Data last week said it has acquired OpSource, a provider of cloud hosting and managed services. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Based in Johannesburg, Dimension Data is a huge $4.7 billion global systems integrator and reseller. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NTT Holdings. Santa Clara-based OpSource provides cloud hosting and management services to more than 600 enterprises, service providers and SaaS-based ISVs.

OpSource will be moved into Dimension Data's Cloud Solutions Business unit, which reports directly to company CEO Brett Dawson.

"Our decision to accelerate our focus on cloud services aligns to our long-standing strategy to become a services-led business," Dawson said in a statement. "OpSource brings a rich set of services, a sound cloud architecture, and extensive experience in cloud services that will meet immediate client needs -- in addition to a cloud infrastructure which supports development and growth in this space. We believe OpSource provides us with an accelerated time-to-market as their infrastructure and services are well-established and tested."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 07/05/2011 at 1:14 PM0 comments

LiveOffice Offers Archiving for Office 365

Microsoft's Office 365 provides users with 25 GB of capacity per mailbox but what if you need advanced archiving capabilities?

One option is from LiveOffice, which said it is offering advanced archiving, e-discovery and compliance services for users of Office 365. The LiveOffice service automatically synchronizes Exchange and SharePoint data, enabling end users to access messages and data in the archive from Outlook. Support for content from Lync will come in the fourth quarter.

Users get unlimited storage capacity, said Steve Buccola, the company's director of product management. "As all your data is being archived. It's being sent by 365 to us," Buccola said. "We're real-time indexing that data so it's accessible to the end users inside of Outlook. It appears as a folder and users can click on it and run searches very quickly to access their archived items in real time."

Many of the company's customers are finding its service as a means of providing continuity, so if there's an outage users can still access the folder, which lets the user retrieve all the messages they've sent and received. "It's essentially their backup in the cloud," he said.

In the event of an Office 365 outage, users can access their archives from Outlook and send and receive messages from the archive folders. "Within our hosted archive, the users can continue working as if they were working in [Office 365]," he added.

The company also is promoting its service as a way to ease Office 365 setup by importing data from on-premises Exchange systems into LiveOffice and then synchronizing the mailbox with Office 365. It will synchronize messages, e-mail addresses and distribution lists.

LiveOffice provides native access from Windows Phone 7 devices and other mobile clients.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 07/05/2011 at 1:14 PM0 comments

BPOS Customers Can't Upgrade to Office 365 Yet

One week after the official launch of Office 365, partners and customers of its predecessor are realizing that they will have to wait three or four months before they can upgrade.

That's the estimate in a document (DOC) posted to the Microsoft Office 365 Transition Center, which states that transition availability for existing Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) customers will be available "roughly" four months after the Office 365 launch.

"This date represents the period when Microsoft will be able to transition most BPOS customers," the document states. "Microsoft will contact you 60 to 90 days prior to a proposed transition date. You can accept the date or request a new one."

A Microsoft spokeswoman acknowledged that BPOS customers will have to wait, but it will more likely be September that the bulk of migrations will begin.

"Microsoft is currently piloting the transition process with a select number of customers to ensure they have the best migration experience for all existing BPOS customers," the spokeswoman said in a prepared statement. "In September 2011, Microsoft will expect to begin broad transitions. There are two main factors in determining migration transition timing -- customers' response to the readiness survey and their technical eligibility."

In some cases, it could be longer, said Pete Zarras, president and CEO of New York-based Cloud Strategies LLC. For example, "anyone with BlackBerry [is] moved to the back of the line," Zarras said, noting Microsoft is waiting for Research In Motion to launch the BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Office 365.

Several partners said they believe it will be more than three months before broad migrations occur. Regardless, some BPOS customers are not pleased. "So for new customers this service available now," one customer posted in a thread on Microsoft's Online Services TechCenter. "For existing no -- we have to wait four months. Thanks Microsoft, it's really clever way to appreciate your long term clients."

Some are threatening more drastic action: "Wow, so I guess the [solution] is to terminate service and sign back up, or maybe just terminate service and go elsewhere," another customer posted.

Indeed, that is what Zarras is considering for one of his customers. "We're contemplating a pretty ugly roll-back of their partially completed BPOS migration to their on-prem Exchange Server, so we can then move them to Office 365 without waiting on the Microsoft migration queue," Zarras said.

Yet for most BPOS customers, the date for migrations shouldn't come as much of a surprise, noted Dave Cutler, general manager of Chicago-based Slalom Consulting. "I've worked with many customers and none have expressed any real concerns about this," Cutler said. "I think it's likely because Microsoft has been pretty open about this with their BPOS customers so it wasn't really a surprise."

Derek Major, CEO of ElegioIT in Calgary says he hasn't heard from Microsoft as to how long it will take before BPOS customers could upgrade, but that customers would be contacted directly by Microsoft individually regarding their specific transitions.

"I have to admit I'm anxious to go live with 365," Major said. But his clients seem OK with the delay; in fact, some are welcoming it. That's because they don't want to have to upgrade their existing Office 2003 desktops to support Office 365, he said.

Chad Mosman, principal consultant at MessageOps said many of his customers are in no rush to go through the migration and are fine waiting.

"Overall, the reaction hasn't been too bad. A fair number of organizations feel like they just migrated and don't want to go through it again. Others don't meet the [minimum] requirements, and still others would rather wait to see how the service performs," Mosman said.  "We do have a couple that want to go right away, but that number is small.  So overall it hasn't been an issue."

Is it an issue for you? Drop me a line at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 07/05/2011 at 1:14 PM3 comments

What Can You Do About Cloud Sprawl?

The proliferation of cloud services has helped many IT pros spin up capacity on demand. But one consequence of the growth of these services is cloud sprawl.

That was the conclusion of a study released earlier this month by global integrator Avanade. Based on a survey of 573 C-level execs, 60 percent were worried about cloud sprawl. Twenty percent said it's impossible to manage all of the cloud services today and 25 percent said they have no central system to track and identify the cloud services that are in their organizations.

"It's causing some growing pains," said Larry Beck, senior director of cloud strategy at Avanade. "As the public cloud services are getting faster and easier and cheaper to provision, in a lot of cases, it's outpacing IT's ability to manage and control those things."

Twenty-seven percent reported that their companies' cloud policies already prohibit the use of cloud services but people are using them anyway. Yet there's no real deterrent to using cloud services. Twenty-nine percent said there are no ramifications to violating that policy and an additional 48 percent said they give nothing more than a warning for violating the policy. And a quarter of the executives said they don't really have an open line of communication with the departments and the business unit leaders.

"This is creating a bit of a chasm between them," Beck said. "In some cases, it might be IT managers' biggest nightmare -- where there is a path, an unchecked and unmanaged path to procuring IT services around the IT department."

Beck offered some guidance for managing this cloud sprawl:

First you need to define and communicate a very clear cloud strategy and one that is user-centric. As the shape of the workforce changes and employees become tech-savvy, more people than ever are able -- and determined -- to accomplish their tasks with or without the help of IT.

Once IT has communicated a strategy, organizations need to go out into the lines of business and conduct an audit and look for all of the cloud services being used. "They need to have a clear message, which is to say, 'We will not, as a result of this effort, shut off any of the things you are doing. But we need to know what they are. We need to be able to inventory those things, be able to ensure that we're not violating any laws or any governance requirements that we have. And even if we find those things, we're not going to shut you down right away but we will at least make you aware of them.'"

Next, organizations need to create a roadmap. A migration path will be required and there will be some consolidation. Consider those that have a number of file-sharing technologies, perhaps departmental applications all the way up to things like CRM systems, BI solutions and others. "There will probably need to be an IT consolidation of those things, again staying very user-centric," Beck said. "And if it makes sense for groups to have different tools then maybe they should maintain that."

Once the roadmap has been created, it is necessary to communicate the strategy in a positive manner -- "being able to be the hero, frankly, as opposed to being the villain."

Finally, enforce the policies you've created. "You have to enforce them. Otherwise, you may as well not have the policy," Beck said. "But you also, we believe, need to be on a path of refining that policy on a regular basis," considering the rapid pace of changes to cloud technologies. Hence, according to Beck, these polices should be revisited more frequently than on an annual basis.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/30/2011 at 1:14 PM0 comments

Cloud May Bring Improvements, But Now What?

A vast majority of cloud specialists within organizations using or considering cloud services see their initiatives significantly impacting one or more business processes, yet they aren't prepared to deal with those changes.

According to a recent survey conducted by The Open Group, 82 percent said their cloud initiatives will bring about such improvements to their business process, but of those, 72 percent have no idea how to adapt to those improvements.

"Cloud computing is primarily a technical phenomenon, but it has the ability to transform business," said Chris Harding, The Open Group's director for interoperability and SOA, in a blog post.

"Its lower cost and increased agility and speed of operation can dramatically improve profitability of existing business processes," he noted. "More than this, and perhaps more importantly, it enables new ways of collaborative working and can support new processes. It is therefore not surprising that people do not yet feel fully prepared -- but it is interesting that the survey should bring this point out quite so clearly."

The survey was based on an online poll of cloud specialists within global organizations ranging in size from under 200 to over 5,000 employees, The Open Group said.

The largest proportion of respondents to the survey, 43 percent, said the cloud is on their roadmap, while an additional 24 percent have only begun implementing cloud services in the past 12 months. Only 8 percent said they have no plans to implement cloud services.

The preferred model of cloud computing was hybrid, according to 45 percent of those surveyed. Twenty-nine percent favored private clouds and only 17 percent public clouds. The rest were unsure.

Cost reduction (21 percent) was the largest reason companies are using the cloud, followed by the ability to be more agile in providing new services (20 percent). Resource optimization (17 percent) was another key factor.

Among the biggest concerns about cloud computing were security (18 percent), integration issues (15 percent), governance (14 percent), the ability to cope with change (11 percent) and vendor lock-in (9 percent).

A copy of the survey is available for download.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/30/2011 at 1:14 PM0 comments

Cloud Sherpas Targets Midwest with Beloit Acquisition

It looks like Google Apps reseller Cloud Sherpas is on an expansion binge. The company today announced its second acquisition this month, this time picking up Overland Park, Kan.-based Beloit Solutions Group for an undisclosed amount.

Atlanta-based Cloud Sherpas broadened its footprint earlier this month when it acquired Omnetic, based in San Francisco, giving the company a coveted West Coast presence. By acquiring Omnetic, Cloud Sherpas said it now has the largest concentration of Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialists outside of Google.

With offices in Austin, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., the acquisition of Beloit will increase that count of specialists and give Cloud Sherpas further penetration into the Midwest, where the company sees a large concentration of enterprises that are now Microsoft-centric.

"They've sold large accounts, which will be key for us as we target Microsoft enterprise customers in the Midwest," said Cloud Sherpas CEO Jon Hallet in a statement. "They also have deep technical skills and impressive business acumen, making them important long-term assets for Cloud Sherpas. We're excited to bring the entire Beloit team into the Cloud Sherpas fold, as we aim to work more closely with Google sales reps throughout the Midwest region."

Beloit's key customers include customers include Cosentino's Food Stores and the Midwest Air Traffic Control Systems.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/27/2011 at 1:14 PM0 comments

Verizon To Emphasize Terremark Cloud Services

Two months after closing its $1.4 billion acquisition of Terremark, Verizon Communications is talking up its plan to offer cloud services through the combined entity.

Perhaps most noteworthy is that Verizon has moved 40 of its datacenters over to the Terremark business unit. The new entity, called Terremark, a Verizon Company, now has roughly 50 datacenters throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

The professional services groups that were working on helping customers secure their enterprises and migrate applications to the cloud were all moved over to Terremark. The security and risk compliance, managed and professional services are now part of the Terremark portfolio.

"We really feel we are in a great position," said Terremark President Kerry Bailey in an interview. "The market is moving in our direction to really help enterprises begin to migrate the right applications to this new IT delivery model."

Terremark had 1,100 employees; now it has several thousand, Bailey said, pointing to Terremark's strong and successful brand. "Terremark had a brand that was accepted in this cloud market, and in this new emerging area, our view was we've got an IT-centric brand, and we have Verizon, which is known for its world-class wireless and wire-line assets," he said. "That's how we will operate and we think it will be very complementary."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/23/2011 at 1:14 PM0 comments

Public Cloud Spending Forecast To Hit $72.9 Billion by 2015

Public cloud spending will reach $72.9 billion by 2015, up from last year's $21.5 billion, according to a report released by market researcher IDC this week.

That accounts for a compounded annual growth rate of 27.6 percent over the next four years, according to the new forecast.

Public cloud services will fuel other emerging technologies, such as mobile devices, wireless networks, big data analytics and social networking, said IDC senior VP and chief analyst Frank Gens in a statement.

"Together, these technologies are merging into the industry's third major platform for long-term growth," Gens noted. "As during the mainframe and PC eras, the new platform promises to radically expand the users and uses of information technology, leading to a wide and entirely new variety of intelligent industry solutions"

Spending for public cloud services is growing upwards of four times the rate of the overall global IT market combined, according to IDC. As such, IDC anticipates one of every $7 spent on packaged software, servers and storage by 2010 will be connected to public cloud computing, IDC said.

Among some other figures highlighted by IDC:

  • Public cloud services will account for 46 percent of new growth in IT spending across five product areas -- applications, application development and deployment, systems infrastructure software, storage and servers -- by 2015.

  • Approximately three-quarters of all spending on public cloud services will be spent on software-oriented offerings, while spending on servers and storage will largely come from Software as a Services (SaaS) providers.

  • Nearly 50 percent of public IT cloud services revenues will come from the United States in 2015.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/22/2011 at 1:14 PM0 comments

Dropbox Leaves Doors Unlocked

Dropbox warned customers of its cloud-based storage service that some accounts were exposed for several hours on Sunday. The accounts were accessible to anyone without the correct password.

The company said fewer than 1 percent of all accounts were exposed during a four-hour period. The exposure was the result of a code update to the software authentication mechanism of the service, in which a bug was introduced.

"This should never have happened," said Dropbox CTO Arash Ferdowsi in a blog post. "We are scrutinizing our controls and we will be implementing additional safeguards to prevent this from happening again."

The company is investigating whether accounts were improperly accessed, and account owners will be notified if there was unusual activity, Ferdowsi noted.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/22/2011 at 1:14 PM5 comments

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra To Depart

The man who helped move the federal government to the cloud is moving on.

Vivek Kundra, the nation's first federal CIO, is taking a fellowship at Harvard University, where he will serve as a joint fellow at the Kennedy School and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the White House announced today.

Not only was Kundra responsible for moving the federal government to the cloud, but he also oversaw a massive datacenter consolidation effort. Kundra instituted a "cloud-first" policy earlier this year, saying 25 percent of the government's IT budget would be devoted to the cloud.

Overall, his efforts saved the government $3 billion in IT expenditures, said Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew in a blog post.

"He has cracked down on wasteful IT spending, saved $3 billion in taxpayer dollars; moved the government to the cloud; strengthened the cyber security posture of the nation while making it more open, transparent and participatory," Lew wrote.

Kundra will depart in August. No replacement has been named at this point, though Lew promised a "smooth transition."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/16/2011 at 1:14 PM1 comments

Intermedia Acquires Zlago

Microsoft Exchange hosting provider Intermedia on Tuesday said it has acquired Zlago, a provider of similar services as well as virtual servers and hosted desktops, for an undisclosed sum.

The move comes just weeks after New York-based Intermedia itself was acquired by private equity firm Oak Hill Partners. Zlago is based in Washington, D.C. but has a nationwide presence through a network of channel partners.

While Intermedia hosts 320,000 Exchange seats, the company is not revealing the number of seats hosted by Zlago.

In line with the acquisition, Zlago CEO Michael Gold is now president of Intermedia, reporting to its new CEO Phil Koen, who was a former CEO of Savvis. During an interview, Gold said Zlago will facilitate Intermedia's move to offering more virtualization services.

"Virtualization is a huge market opportunity," Gold said. "Virtualization is core to the cloud, so the services that Zlago offers to date and others will certainly be added."

Intermedia will transition Zlago customers and partners, Gold said. Among other things, the control panel used by Intermedia to administer all of its products and services will be made available to Zlago stakeholders, he noted. "Some services will move over faster than others," he said. "Obviously, Exchange customers would be easy to move over."

Among other things, the combined company offers hosted PBX, e-mail encryption and backup services.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/15/2011 at 1:14 PM0 comments