Citrix turned heads Tuesday when it announced it's contributing the CloudStack cloud management platform it acquired last summer from Cloud.com to the Apache Software Foundation with plans to release its own version of that distribution as the focal point of its cloud infrastructure offering.
The bombshell announcement didn't have to state the obvious: Citrix is dumping its previously planned support for OpenStack, the popular open source cloud management effort led by NASA and Rackspace. While Citrix didn't entirely rule out working with OpenStack in the future, there appears to be no love lost on Citrix's part.
While the announcement didn't even mention OpenStack, Peder Ulander, vice president of marketing for Citrix's cloud platforms group said in an e-mailed statement that OpenStack was not ready for major cloud implementations, a charge that OpenStack officials refuted.
"Our initial plan was to build on top of the OpenStack platform, adopting key components over time as it matured," Ulander noted. "While we remain supportive of the intent behind OpenStack and will continue to integrate any appropriate technologies into our own products as they mature, we have been disappointed with the rate of progress OpenStack has made over the past year and no longer believe we can afford to bet our cloud strategy on its success."
So where does OpenStack fall short? The biggest problem is proven scale in production, Ulander said. "It's been a full year since we first joined OpenStack, and they still don't have a single customer in production," he said. "Despite all the good intentions, the fact remains that it is not ready for prime time. During the same year, CloudStack has seen hundreds of customers go into full production. These customers include some of the biggest brands in the world, collectively generating over $1 billion in cloud revenue today. No other platform comes close."
Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the OpenStack Project Policy Board and co-founder Rackspace Cloud, told me Tuesday that's simply not true. OpenStack has a number of customers in production such as Deutsch Telecom, the San Diego Supercomputing Center and MercadoLibre, a large e-commerce site in Buenos Aires that runs about 7,000 virtual machines on OpenStack. "We've got a broad range of users," Bryce said.
Another reason Citrix decided to focus on CloudStack was its compatibility with Amazon Web Services APIs. "Every customer building a new cloud service today wants some level of compatibility with Amazon," Ulander noted. "Unfortunately, the leaders of OpenStack have decided to focus their energy on establishing an entirely new set of APIs with no assurance of Amazon compatibility (not surprising, since OpenStack is run by Rackspace, an avowed Amazon competitor). We do not believe this approach is in the best interest of the industry and would rather focus all our attention on delivering a platform that is 'Proven Amazon Compatible.'"
But in his most stinging rebuke of OpenStack, Ulander questioned whether it will adhere to true open source principles. "Rather than build OpenStack in a truly open fashion, Rackspace has decided to create a 'pay-to-play' foundation that favors corporate investment and sponsorship to lead governance, rather than developer contributions," he said. "We believe this approach taints the openness of the program, resulting in decisions driven by the internal vendor strategies, rather than what's best for customers."
When I asked Bryce about Ulander's "pay-to-play" charge, he said the process to move stewardship from the auspices of Rackspace to an independent foundation is moving along and will be completed this year. Bryce denied any notion that OpenStack had a "pay for play" model.
"That's just false," Bryce said. "If you look at the process, look at how many contributors there are to the projects. "We are far and away the most inclusive in terms of the number of companies and the number of contributors who are making code submissions. We have large and small startups and big enterprise software companies who are all actively engaged in OpenStack."
But some say OpenStack is still immature relative to CloudStack. Gartner analyst Lydia Leong described it in a blog post as "unstable and buggy and far from feature complete." By comparison, she noted, CloudStack is, at this point in its evolution, a solid product -- it's production-stable and relatively turnkey, comparable to VMware's vCloud Director (some providers who have lab-tested both even claim stability and ease of implementation are better than vCD)."
Forrester analyst James Staten agreed adding that OpenStack, appeared to be a drag on Citrix. "Ever since Citrix joined OpenStack its core technology has been in somewhat of a limbo state," Staten said in a blog post. "The code in cloudstack.org overlaps with a lot of the OpenStack code base and Citrix's official stance had been that when OpenStack was ready, it would incorporate it. This made it hard for a service provider or enterprise to bet on CloudStack today, under fear that they would have to migrate to OpenStack over time. That might still happen, as Citrix has kept the pledge to incorporate OpenStack software if and when the time is right but they are clearly betting their fortunes on cloudstack.org's success."
Timing was clearly an issue, he pointed out. "For a company that needs revenue now and has a more mature solution, a break away from OpenStack, while politically unpopular, is clearly the right business decision."
Despite Citrix's decision to pull the rug out from OpenStack, Bryce shrugged it off, at least in his response to my questions. "I don't by any means think that it's the death knell for OpenStack or anything like that," Bryce said. "I think the Apache Software Foundation is a great place to run open source projects and we will keep working with the CloudStack software wherever it makes sense."
When it comes to open source cloud computing platforms, OpenStack continues to have the momentum with well over 155 sponsors and 55 active contributors and adopters including AT&T, (Ubunto distributor) Canonical , Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Opscode and RightScale.
Analysts say Citrix had good business reasons for shifting its focus on CloudStack. Among them, Gartner analyst Leong noted was despite effectively giving away most of its CloudStack IP, it should help boost sales of its XenServer, "plus Citrix will continue to provide commercial support for CloudStack," she noted. "They rightfully see VMware as the enemy, so explicitly embracing the Amazon ecosystem makes a lot of sense."
Do you think it makes sense? Drop me a line at email@example.com.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on April 04, 2012 at 10:00 AM0 comments
There's a growing trend by providers of public cloud services to offer secure connectivity to the datacenter. The latest provider to do so is Verizon's Terremark, which this week rolled out Enterprise Cloud Private Edition.
Terremark, a major provider of public cloud services acquired last year by Verizon for $1.4 billion, said its new offering is based on its flagship platform but designed to run as a single-tenant environment for its large corporate and government clients that require security, perhaps to meet compliance requirements.
The company described Enterprise Cloud Private Edition as an extension of its hybrid cloud strategy, allowing customers to migrate workloads between dedicated infrastructure and public infrastructure services.
"Our Private Edition solution is designed to meet the strong customer demand we've seen for the agility, cost efficiencies and flexibility of cloud computing, delivered in a single-tenant, dedicated environment," said Ellen Rubin, Terremark's vice president of Cloud Products, in a statement.
Using Terremark's CloudSwitch software, customers can integrate their datacenters with its public cloud services, the company said, adding its software allows customers to migrate workloads to other cloud providers.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on April 03, 2012 at 9:59 AM0 comments
Looking to provide tighter integration between its public cloud services and enterprise datacenters, Amazon Web Services has inked an agreement with Eucalyptus Systems to support its platform.
While Eucalyptus already offers APIs designed to provide compatibility between private clouds running its platform and Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3), the deal will provide interoperability blessed and co-developed by both companies.
The move, announced last week, is Amazon's latest effort to tie its popular cloud infrastructure services to private clouds. Amazon in January released the AWS Storage Gateway, an appliance that allows customers to mirror their local storage with Amazon's cloud service.
For Eucalyptus, it can now assure customers that connecting to Amazon will work with the company's consent. "You should expect us to deliver more API interoperability faster, and with higher accuracy and fidelity," said Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mikos in an e-mail. "Customers can run applications in their existing datacenters that are compatible with popular Amazon Web Services such EC2 and S3."
Enterprises will be able to "take advantage of a common set of APIs that work with both AWS and Eucalyptus, enabling the use of scripts and other management tools across both platforms without the need to rewrite or maintain environment-specific versions," said Terry Wise, director of the AWS partner ecosystem, in a statement. "Additionally, customers can leverage their existing skills and knowledge of the AWS platform by using the same, familiar AWS SDKs and command line tools in their existing data centers."
While the companies have not specified what deliverables will come from the agreement or any timeframe, Mikos said they are both working closely. Although Eucalyptus does not disclose how many of its customers link their datacenters to Amazon, that is one of Eucalyptus' key selling points.
Eucalyptus claims it is enabling 25,000 cloud starts each year and that it is working with 20 percent of the Fortune 100 and counts among its customers the U.S. Department of Defense, the Intercontinental Hotel Group, Puma, Raytheon, Sony and a number of other federal government agencies.
While Eucalyptus bills its software as open source, critics say it didn't develop a significant community, an problem the company has started to remedy with the hiring of Red Hat veteran Greg DeKoenigsberg as Eucalyptus's VP of Community.
Eucalyptus faces a strong challenge from other open source private cloud efforts, including the VMware-led CloudFoundry effort and the OpenStack effort led by Rackspace Hosting and NASA and supported by the likes of Cisco, Citrix, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and more than 100 other players.
These open source efforts, along with other widely marketed cloud services such as Microsoft's Windows Azure, are all gunning to challenge Amazon's dominance in providing public cloud infrastructure. And they are doing so by forging interoperability with private clouds.
Since Amazon and Eucalyptus have shown no interest in any of those open source efforts to date, this marriage of convenience could benefit both providers and customers who are committed to their respective offerings.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on March 28, 2012 at 1:28 PM1 comments
Cloud infrastructure automation vendor Opscode this week said it has received $19.5 million in Series C funding led by Ignition Partners and joined by backers Battery Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. In concert with the investment, Ignition partner John Conners, the onetime Microsoft CFO, has joined Opscode's board.
The funding will help expand Opscode's development efforts as well as sales and marketing initiatives. The company is aggressively hiring developers at its Seattle headquarters as well as its new development facility in Raleigh, N.C.
Opscode's claim to fame is its Hosted Chef and Private Chef tools, designed to automate the process of building, provisioning and managing public and private clouds, respectively. Chef is designed for environments where continuous deployment and integration of cloud services is the norm. "It's a tool for defining infrastructure once and building it multiple times and iterating through the build process lots of different configurations," said Opscode CEO Mitch Hill in an interview.
The company claims adoption of its open source Chef cookbooks has grown tenfold since September 2010 with an estimated 800,000 downloads. Its open source community of 13,000 developers has produced 400 "community cookbooks," which cover everything from basic Apache, Java, MySQL and Node.js templates to more specialized infrastructures.
In addition to open source environments, there are also Chef cookbooks for proprietary platforms such as Microsoft's IIS and SQL Server. Opscode said some major customers are using Chef, including Fidelity Investments, LAN Airlines, Ancestry.com and Electronic Arts.
"Virtually all of our customers are using more complex stacks. Many are open source stacks or mixed proprietary and open source stacks, and what we see time and time again is the skills to manage these environments don't exist in the marketplace," Hill said.
"The skills are hard to build. You can't go to school to learn how to do this stuff. You have computer science grads who graduate as competent developers and systems guys but infrastructure engineers who know how to operate at the source, scale and complexity level of the world is operating at are hard to find. That's our opportunity. We feel that Chef is a force multiplier for any company that is trying to do [cloud] computing at scale."
Opscode said it will host its first user conference on May 15 to 17 with presentations by representatives of Fidelity, Intuit, Hewlett-Packard and Joyent, Ancestry.com and Fastly, among others.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on March 27, 2012 at 2:21 PM0 comments
Test results published by cloud storage provider Nasuni this week suggest it's easier to move terabytes of data to Amazon Web Services S3 service than to Microsoft's Windows Azure or Rackspace's Cloud Files.
Nasuni found that moving 12 TB blocks of data consisting of approximately 22 million files to Amazon S3 (or between S3 storage buckets) took only four hours from Windows Azure and five hours from Rackspace Cloud Files. Going the other way though took considerably longer -- 40 hours to Windows Azure and just under a week to Rackspace Cloud Files from Amazon's S3.
[Click on image for larger view.]
|Estimated minimum hours to transfer a 12 TB volume. (Source: Nasuni) |
Officials at Nasuni found the results surprising and wondered if the reason was due to the fact that Microsoft and Rackspace throttle down the bandwidth when writing data to their respective services. In the case of Windows Azure, Nasuni was able to reach peak bandwidth rates of 25 Mbps, which was deemed good, but it dropped off significantly during peak hours, said Nasuni CEO Andres Rodriguez.
"Our suspicion is that Microsoft is throttling the maximum performance to a common data set, to make sure that the quality of service is maintained to the rest of the customers, who are sharing their piece of infrastructure," Rodriguez said. "That's a good thing for everyone. It's not a great thing for those trying to get a lot of performance out of their storage tier."
While acknowledging it was his own speculation and Nasuni company had not conferred with Microsoft or Rackspace about the issue, a Microsoft spokeswoman denied Rodriguez's theory. "Microsoft does not throttle bandwidth, ever," she said. While Microsoft looked at the report, the company declined further comment, noting it doesn't have "deep insight" into Nasuni's testing methods.
Ironically, Windows Azure performed well in a December test by Nasuni, in which it ranked fastest when it came to writing large files. Amazon, Microsoft and Rackspace all performed the best in that December shootout, which is why they were singled out in the current test. (Also, Amazon is currently Nasuni's preferred storage provider.)
Conversely, Nasuni was able to move files from Windows Azure to Amazon much faster; when moving from Windows Azure to Amazon S3, Amazon received data at more than 270 Mbps, resulting in the 12 TB of data moving in approximately four hours. "This test demonstrated that Amazon S3 had tremendous write performance and bandwidth into S3, and also that Microsoft Azure could provide the data fast enough to support the movement," the report noted.
Nasuni acknowledged that writes are typically slower than reads in most storage systems and external bandwidth is far more limited than internal bandwidth. Also, Nasuni noted in the report explaining the results that the limit it hit could have either have been Amazon's write limit just as much as Microsoft's read limit -- both the result of their respective bandwidth capacity and infrastructure.
Engineers at Nasuni also noted they were surprised at the limits of Amazon's EC2 in regard to how many machines a customer can run by default -- only 20 machines (for more you have to contact Amazon). To bypass that limit, Nasuni combined machines from multiple accounts.
For its part, Rackspace officials were miffed as to why it took so much time to move data from Amazon to the Rackspace Cloud Files service. "The results were surprising to us but we are making efforts to understand how the test was run and understand where some of that limitation might have been coming from," said Scott Gibson, the company's director of product for big data. Unlike Microsoft, Gibson acknowledged there are cases when Rackspace does put some limits on requests. But he said the company just completed a significant hardware upgrade in mid-February to alleviate those situations. Nasuni conducted the tests between Jan. 31 and Feb. 8.
Gibson was skeptical that this was a burning problem among Rackspace customers. "I wouldn't say it's horribly common," he said. "We do have [some] customers who move large amounts of data between datacenters. If that level of performance was the norm, we would probably hear about it loud and clear."
Rodriguez insisted he had no axe to grind with either provider. In fact he suggested he'd like to see both companies and others be able to offer the ability to move large amounts of data between providers to give Nasuni the most flexibility to offer higher levels of price performance and redundancy. He emphasized the purpose of the test was to gauge how long it would take to move large blocks of data among the providers.
When conducting the tests, Nasuni moved data between the providers via encrypted HTTPS machines. The company did not store any data, which was encrypted at the source, on disks in transit. Nasuni scaled from one machine to 40 and saw higher error rates from the providers as the loads increased, though ultimately the transfers were completed after a number of retries, the report noted.
It would be hard to conclude from one test that anyone wanting to move large blocks of data from provider to provider would experience similar results, but it also points to the likelihood that swapping between providers is not going to be a piece of cake.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on March 22, 2012 at 2:13 PM0 comments
While software-as-a-service applications such as Cisco WebEx, Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce.com, among others, are becoming a popular way of letting organizations deliver apps to their employees, they come with an added level of baggage: managing user authentication.
Every SaaS-based app has its own login and authentication mechanism, meaning users have to separately sign into those systems. Likewise, IT has no central means of managing that authentication when an employee joins or leaves a company (or has a change in role). While directories such as Microsoft's Active Directory have helped provide single sign-on to enterprise apps, third parties such as Ping Identity, Okta and Symplified offer tools that provide connectivity to apps not accessible via AD, including SaaS-based apps. But those are expensive and complex, hence typically used by large enterprises.
Ping Identity this week said it will start offering a service in April called PingOne that will provide an alternative and/or adjunct to PingFederate, the company's premises-based identity management platform. PingOne itself is Saas-based, it will run in a cloud developed by Ping and distributed to Amazon Web Services EC2 service.
In effect PingOne, which will start at $5,000 and cost $5 per user per month, will provide single sign-on to enterprise systems and SaaS-based apps alike via Active Directory or an organization's preferred LDAP-based authentication platform. Ping claims it has 800 customers using its flagship PingFederate software, 90 percent of which are large enterprises.
But smaller and mid-sized enterprises, though they typically run Active Directory, are reticent to deploy additional software to add federated identity management, and in fact many have passed on Microsoft's own free add-on, Active Direction Federation Services (ADFS).
With PingOne, customers won't need to install any software, other than an agent in Active Directory which connects it to the cloud-based PingOne. "With that one connection to the switch you can now reach all your different SaaS vendors or applications providers," said Jonathan Buckley, VP of Ping's On-Demand Business. "This changes federation, which has been a one-to-one to one networking game."
By moving federated identity management to the cloud, organizations don't need administrators who are knowledgeable about authentication protocols like OAuth, OpenID and SAML, Buckley added. "The tools are designed with a junior to mid level IT manager in mind," he said.
Ping is not the first vendor to bring federated identity management to the cloud – Covisint offers a vertical industry portal that offers single sign-on as has Symplified and Okta. But Buckley said Ping is trying to bring federated identity management to the masses.
"The model they are pursuing is a very horizontal version of what a number of folks have done in a more vertical space with more limited circles of trust," said Forrester Research analyst Eve Maler. "I think they are trying to build an ecosystem that is global and that could be interesting if they attract the right players on the identity-producing side and the identity-consuming side, namely a lot of SaaS services."
Another effect of these cloud-based identity management services is their potential to lessen the dependence on Active Directory, said Gartner analyst Mark Diodati. PingOne promises to make that happen via its implementation of directory synchronization, Diotati said.
PingOne looks closely at an enterprise's Active Directory and detects any changes, and if so replicates them to PingOne. Specifically, if someone adds a user to an LDAP group, or moves him or her to a new organizational unit or gives it a specific attribute, that change will automatically replicate to PingOne.
"The ability to do that directory synchronization, getting identities into the hosted part of it, and also the single sign-on, are extremely difficult to do without on-premises components to pull it off," Diodati said.
Ping stresses that passwords and authentication data are not stored in the cloud. But it stands to reason many companies will have to balance the appeal of simplifying authentication and management of access rights to multiple SaaS-based apps with the novelty of extending that function into the cloud. Do you think customers will be reluctant to move federated identity management to the cloud or will they relish the simplification and cost reduction it promises? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on March 21, 2012 at 3:17 AM0 comments
Google is adding an extra layer of security for developers building applications that access a variety of its server-side platform services.
The company's new Service Accounts, launched Tuesday, will provide certificate-based authentication to Google APIs for server-to-server interactions. Until now, Google secured its APIs in these scenarios via passwords or shared keys.
"This means, for example, that a request from a Web application to Google Cloud Storage can be authenticated via a certificate instead of a shared key," said Google product manager Justin Smith, in a blog post, noting that unlike passwords and shared keys, certs can't be guessed.
In addition to Cloud Storage, Google's Prediction API, URL Shortener, OAuth 2.0 Authorization Server, APIs Console and its API libraries for Python, Java and PHPs will support certificates. Other APIs and client libraries, including Ruby and .NET, will follow over time, according to Smith.
The certs are implemented as an OAuth 2.0 flow. An app using the certificate service generates a JSON structure, which is signed with a private key and encoded as a JSON Web Token (JWT). Once the JWT accesses Google's OAuth 2.0 Authorization Server it provides an access token, which is sent to Google Cloud Storage or the Prediction API.
Adding certificate-based authentication will be welcome to those who require better security than passwords and shared keys offer, said Forrester Research analyst Eve Maler. "Government agencies and other high-risk players generally demand certificate-based authentication," she said. "This decision by Google enables, for its service ecosystem, this stronger option for those who need it. Google has experimented rapidly to come up with maximally effective API security mechanisms."
Developers can set up Service Accounts on the Google APIs Console.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on March 21, 2012 at 9:47 AM0 comments
One year has passed since Hewlett-Packard announced its plans to launch a public cloud service and it appears that service will arrive in May.
Zorawar Biri Singh, senior vice president and general manager of HP's cloud services business last week told The New York Times that the service is on pace to go online in two months. While HP is launching a portfolio of public cloud infrastructure services similar to those of Amazon Web Services, Singh is setting modest expectations for taking on the behemoth.
"We won't pull (Amazon's) customers out by the horns but we already have customers in beta who see us as a great alternative,"Singh said, adding HP does not intend to compete on price. Fully aware that Amazon has aggressively cut its rates, Singh said HP will compete by offering more "personal sales and service."
Of course, HP won't stand alone on that front as players such as Rackspace, IBM and Microsoft, just to name a few, promote their focus on customer service. That said, HP can't afford not to offer a viable public cloud service for enterprises. Along with its public cloud service, Singh said HP will offer:
- Tools for Ruby, Java and PHP developers
- Support for provisioning and management of workloads remotely
- An online store where customers can rent software in HP's cloud (as indicated last year)
- Connectivity to private clouds
- A platform layer with third party services
Offering software as a service also appears high on the agenda. The first will be a data analytics service, leveraging last year's acquisitions of Vertica and Autonomy.
HP's cloud services will launch initially with datacenters in the United States on both the east and west coasts, with a global rollout to follow. Like any major IT vendor, HP knows it must execute well in the cloud. Even if it isn't a major revenue generator in the short term, a robust cloud portfolio will be critical to HP's future.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on March 15, 2012 at 9:32 AM0 comments
It was bad enough that Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud service was unavailable for much of the day on Feb. 29 thanks to the so-called Leap Day bug. But customers struggled to find out what was going on and when service would be restored.
That's because the Windows Azure Dashboard itself wasn't fully available, noted Bill Laing, corporate VP of Microsoft's Server and Cloud division, in a blog post Friday, where he provided an in-depth post-mortem with extensive technical details outlining what went wrong. In very simple terms, it was the result of a coding error that led the system to calculate a future date that didn't exist.
But others may be less interested in what went wrong than in how reliable Windows Azure and public cloud services will be over the long haul. On that front, Laing was pretty candid, saying, "The three truths of cloud computing are: hardware fails, software has bugs and people make mistakes. Our job is to mitigate all of these unpredictable issues to provide a robust service for our customers."
Did Microsoft do enough to mitigate this issue? Laing admits Microsoft could have done better to prevent, detect and respond to the problems. In terms of prevention, Microsoft said it will improve testing to discover time-related bugs by upgrading its code analysis tools to uncover those and similar types of coding issues. The problem took too long -- 75 minutes -- to detect, Laing added, noting the specific issue regarding detecting fault with the guest agent where the bug was found.
Exacerbating the whole matter was the breakdown in communication. The Windows Azure Service Dashboard failed to "provide the granularity of detail and transparency our customers need and expect," Laing said. Hourly updates failed to appear and information on the dashboard lacked helpful insight, he acknowledged.
"Customers have asked that we provide more details and new information on the specific work taking place to resolve the issue," he said. "We are committed to providing more detail and transparency on steps we're taking to resolve an outage as well as details on progress and setbacks along the way."
Noting that customer service telephone lines were jammed due to the lack of information on the dashboard, Laing promised users will not be kept in the dark. "We are reevaluating our customer support staffing needs and taking steps to provide more transparent communication through a broader set of channels," he said. Those channels will include Facebook and Twitter, among other forums.
Windows Azure customers affected by the outage will receive a 33 percent credit, which will automatically be applied to their bills. However, such credits, while welcome, rarely make up for the cost associated with downtime. But if Microsoft delivers on Laing's commitments, perhaps the next outage will be less painful.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on March 14, 2012 at 10:18 AM1 comments
One of Google's largest cloud partners is now even larger. Cloud Sherpas, a major provider of Google Apps, this week said it has merged with GlobalOne, making it a major Salesforce.com partner, as well.
Since its founding in 2008, Atlanta-based Cloud Sherpas has focused its business on replacing premises e-mail and collaboration platforms with cloud services based on the Google Apps stack. New York-based GlobalOne has concentrated on offering CRM services from Salesforce.com since its formation in 2007.
GlobalOne CEO David Northington will now be CEO of Cloud Sherpas, while former Cloud Sherpas CEO Douglas Shepard will become president of Cloud Sherpas' Google business unit.
"Both GlobalOne and Cloud Sherpas were born in the cloud as pure-play cloud service providers," Northington said in a statement. "The combined firm further enables our singular mission -- to help customers transform their businesses by leveraging the power of the cloud. The new Cloud Sherpas has the talent, domain expertise and geographic reach to help businesses improve IT agility and lower costs through a series of cloud consulting, integration and support services."
And giving Cloud Sherpas a further boost, Columbia Capital, which last year invested $15 million in the provider, is adding a $20 million round. Cloud Sherpas said it intends to use the funds to expand into new geographic regions, add to its portfolio of vertical market offerings and extend its cloud-based applications.
The new Cloud Sherpas employs 300 people and has a presence in Atlanta, Ga.; Brisbane, Australia; Chicago; Manila, Philippines; New York; San Francisco; Sydney, Australia; and Wellington, New Zealand.
Is it only a matter of time before a major provider scoops up Cloud Sherpas? Northington told The New York Times Cloud Sherpas is targeting its own growth to offer more cloud-based services and plans to broaden its portfolio.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on March 08, 2012 at 1:24 PM0 comments
Once again, Amazon Web Services said it is cutting the price of its cloud offerings, including its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Relational Database Service (RDS) and Elastic MapReduce (EMR) offerings.
This latest reduction marks the 19th time Amazon has cut prices of its cloud services in the six years since launching them. Just last month, Amazon reduced pricing for its Simple Storage Service (S3) and Elastic Block Storage (EBS) offerings.
"Driving costs down for our customers is part of the DNA of Amazon and therefore also part of the DNA of AWS," said Amazon CTO Werner Vogels in a blog post. "We will continue to drive AWS prices down, even without any competitive pressure to do so. And we will work hard to do this across all the different services."
The cuts will amount to a 6 percent savings for usage of the On-Demand version of EC2 and 33 percent for its Reserved Instance offerings. For RDS, Amazon is reducing On-Demand prices by up to 10 percent and Reserved Instances by up to 42 percent. AWS evangelist Jeff Barr provides a complete rundown in a blog post.
While Vogels may say there's no competitive pressure to lower Amazon's prices, it comes just two weeks after Microsoft announced it is lowering prices for some of its SQL Azure service and just months after simplifying prices for Windows Azure. Google this week also lowered its cloud storage pricing, PCWorld reported.
Nevertheless, here's Vogels' reasoning:
"Reducing pricing is not just a matter of passing on the benefits of economies of scale, although that certainly plays a role," he writes. "Experiences with the highly scalable, ultra-efficient supply chains of Amazon.com drive great new innovations in the highly redundant supply chains for AWS, which lead to new efficiencies that we can pass on to our customers. Also on the business model side, we continue to innovate, as the introduction of Reserved Instances and Spot Instances have helped customers make significant savings."
Is Amazon upping the ante -- or should I say lowering the ante -- for cloud service pricing? Leave a comment below or drop me a line at email@example.com.
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on March 08, 2012 at 4:33 PM1 comments
I have yet to talk to a cloud provider that doesn't emphasize the security of its services. So it should come as no surprise that when I talked to executives overseeing IBM's cloud efforts last week at the company's Partnership Leadership Conference in New Orleans, security was a critical part of the conversation.
IBM's cloud security framework brings together assets from its Tivoli security software business and Rational development tools unit, as well as its identity management and data security approaches embedded into its servers, storage and various software offerings ranging from development tools to middleware and its business analytics software.
But when it comes to SmartCloud Enterprise, the company's public cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), IBM's approach to security begins with a simple prerequisite: You must be a known customer before it will host your data, explained Rich Lechner, vice president of cloud for IBM's Global Technology Services business.
"An individual can't simply sign up with a credit card," Lechner said. "The reason being, in a multitenant environment like that, part of the security model says you have to know who else is in the building. "A lot of other cloud providers don't offer that level of security. They are not managing or ensuring the identity of the other tenants."
Lechner acknowledged that this extra process has a downside. "It slows the on-boarding process because you now have to validate the client, but we believe, and our clients believe, that the benefits in terms of security outweigh the negatives of the slower on-boarding process."
Lechner also said IBM is using cloud technologies to power its global Security Operations Center (SOC), which he said tracks 5 billion security events daily. Hundreds of researchers who collaborate via this cloud discover between 50 and 300 brand-new, never-before-seen threats worldwide, Lechner said. They assess, identify and resolve those threats and provide inoculations and distribute them to IBM's 2,000 managed services clients, usually within 24 hours. Known threats are inoculated typically within minutes, according to Lechner.
"It's an interesting utilization of the cloud, in the sense that it leverages the processing, analytical and global reach."
Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on March 05, 2012 at 8:48 AM1 comments