Amazon Web Services Opens New U.S. Datacenter

Amazon Web Services has opened its seventh global datacenter and its second on the west coast of the United States. The new facility in Oregon offers a lower-cost alternative to the cloud computing provider's Northern California location.

Like Amazon's other datacenters throughout the world, the Oregon facility will offer multiple Availability Zones, Amazon said on Wednesday. The addition of another datacenter should appeal to customers who want further redundancy, an issue that has come up more after the spate of Amazon outages this year.

Nevertheless, the company is emphasizing that the new Oregon datacenter has lower usage fees than its location in Northern California, on the order of about 10 percent.

"Launching this new lower-priced U.S. West Region today is another example of our commitment to driving down costs for our customers," said Amazon senior VP Andy Jassy in a statement. "Now developers and businesses with operations or end users near the west coast of the United States can use our U.S. West Infrastructure at an even lower cost than they could before."

While it's true that Amazon has frequently reduced its fees, the prices associated with the Oregon facility is the same as its East Coast datacenter in Virginia, Amazon said.

The new datacenter offers the portfolio of Amazon's cloud offerings, including Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2), Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic Block Store (EBS), a variety of database services, Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and Elastic Load Balancing (EBS).

Among those services not yet available in Oregon are Premium Support, HPC, CloudFront, ElastiCache, Beanstalk, Simple Email Service, Route 53, Direct Connect and Import/Export services, noted Gartner analyst Kyle Hilgendorf in a Tweet. "If AWS follows past trends, these missing services will show up in Oregon over coming days/weeks/months," Hilgendorf added.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on November 10, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Rackspace Now Lets Customers Build Private Clouds

Rackspace is a company synonymous with dedicated hosting and cloud computing services. While hosting and cloud services are different, the company's business model over the past 13 years has been predicated on customers using Rackspace's datacenters.

That has changed this week with the launch of Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition, an offering by which the company will help customers build clouds within their own datacenters. The debut of this new offering has been anticipated for some time.

The company launched Rackspace Cloud Builders back in March, a program aimed at providing training, education and certification to those who want to build clouds based on the OpenStack open source platform. Rackspace gained the capability to offer Cloud Builders from its acquisition of Anso Labs, a professional services firm that has helped several large organizations build OpenStack-based clouds.

In fact, the rationale behind Rackspace's decision to team up with NASA and create the OpenStack Project was to build an ecosystem that it hoped would give it an edge over Amazon Web Services and VMware. "Anyone who wants to build and run OpenStack clouds the way we do will have access to that technology," said Jim Curry, general manager of Rackspace Cloud Builders.

With this new private cloud offering, customers also will have the option of building their own OpenStack-based private clouds using a reference architecture published by Rackspace, which will offer optional remote administration. Alternatively, Rackspace is certifying its partners to build OpenStack-based private clouds for their customers. So far, Rackspace has certified Cloud Technology Partners (cloudTP), MomentumSI, and China's TeamSun.

The current hardware architecture is built on Cisco network switches and Dell servers, though Rackspace said it will add other options next year. Infrastructure automation and management vendors Opscode and RightScale also said they are supporting the new Rackspace private cloud offering.

Rackspace this week also upgraded its RackConnect service, which allows customers to securely link systems running in its public cloud with its managed hosting service. Launched a year ago, 10 percent of Rackspace customers are using RackConnect, said Toby Owen, senior manager of Rackspace Hybrid Cloud Product Solutions. "It has definitely moved from a niche offering to a mainstream capability for many of our customers," Owen said.

With the new release, Rackspace has added automation to RackConnect. For example, if a hosting customer needs more capacity, they can scale using the cloud service, Owen said. "We are trying to reduce the administrative burden and all the messiness around infrastructure provisioning and make it a lot more seamless from the customer perspective," he said.

Rackspace has also added a new user interface to the RackConnect portal, giving customers visibility to both their cloud and dedicated hosting environments and RackConnect itself. Also new in RackConnect is a network security policy interface for customers. With the new interface, customers can configure firewalls, both physical and cloud-based, on their own.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on November 09, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Google Kills Gmail App for BlackBerry

Google said it is pulling support for the native Gmail app for the BlackBerry, a move not likely to be popular among users of that smartphone. But it doesn't mean Google is walking away from providing connectivity to the BlackBerry for enterprises users.

In a brief blog post on Tuesday, Google said it will no longer support the Gmail App for BlackBerry effective Nov. 22. Users can still run the existing app but it will no longer be supported, Google said. It will be available for download for the next two weeks. Google said BlackBerry users can still access their Gmail through the mobile Web app via the device's Web browser.

Even with a declining share of the overall smartphone market, the BlackBerry still has a sizeable chunk of business users that plan on sticking with the device. For users of Google Apps for Business, the company continues to offer support for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, through a connector that provides synchronization. It would behoove Google to continue support for that connector if it wants to see more enterprise wins.

So far, Google has had mixed success on getting those huge enterprise wins. While its partner CSC has struggled to bring a large chunk of the city of Los Angeles online two years after winning that contract, it looks like Google is on the cusp of a huge win with General Motors; the auto giant is reportedly looking at Google Apps for up to 100,000 employees. Gartner also recently said Gmail is now viable for enterprises.

While not at the top of the list for those considering Google Apps or Office 365, BlackBerry support is important, especially among government users.

Also, Microsoft's lack of BlackBerry Enterprise Server integration with Office 365 at launch this summer did not go unnoticed by customers and partners, many of whom have said they would delay upgrading from the older Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS) until the BlackBerry support was made available.

Research In Motion two weeks ago released the beta of a service that will link the BlackBerry service to Office 365. As long as Microsoft continues to provide enterprise support for the BlackBerry service through Office 365, I can't imagine Google will kill off its own connector any time soon.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on November 09, 2011 at 11:59 AM1 comments


Will Facebook's Open Compute Project Reshape the Datacenter?

Last week a group called the Open Compute Project held its first summit in New York, where it laid out its agenda for creating power-efficient and lower-cost datacenters based on open source hardware designs.

The OCP was formed by Facebook back in April as an effort to share the hardware design of its datacenter in Prineville, Ore. The social networking giant said at the time that its datacenter improved efficiency by 38 percent and lowered costs by 24 percent. Facebook said it achieved a power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 1.07, compared with 1.5 for its other datacenters.

Facebook published the specs of the datacenter's servers, power supplies, server racks, uninterruptible power supplies and building design to the OCP. Fast forward to last week's Open Compute Project Summit. "Today open source is not just something that you can use to describe software but also to describe the hardware space as well," said Frank Frankovsky, director of technical operations at Facebook, in his keynote address.

"When we looked at the results of the datacenter we designed and built in Prineville and looked at the efficiency, we said why not share this, because the aggregate impact is if everyone started designing datacenters like this, we could lessen the impact on the environment pretty tremendously," he said.

Now Facebook is trying to hand this off to an independent community, though seemingly with a firm grip. Early last month it created the Open Compute Project Foundation. A board of directors led by Frankovsky includes Jason Waxman, GM for high-density computing in Intel's Data Center Group; Mark Roenigk, Rackspace Hosting's chief operating officer; Andy Bechtolshiem, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems and current chairman of Arista Networks; and Don Duet, a Goldman-Sachs managing director.

Frankovsky told attendees that the board has developed a well thought-out intellectual property policy, co-developed with Intel and some of the other founders of the board. The OCP is modeled after the Apache Software Foundation. Everything goes through an incubation committee consisting of nine people with diverse backgrounds.

Even Facebook's contributions will go through the committee, he said. More important is getting other suppliers to contribute. It looks like some key players will including Amazon Web Services, Dell, Hyve Solutions (a new division of distributor Synnex), Intel and Red Hat, among others are on board.

"We think most suppliers will feel comfortable now contributing their IP to this project to move things forward and also to create opportunities to the supply base so we really do focus here on mutual benefit," Frankovsky said. "Not only the consumers but also the suppliers in this community."

For its part, Intel appears to be actively engaged. "What it's going to do is democratize and bring together much more choice in the industry for how people can get these efficient platforms," Waxman told attendees. "We at Intel forecast that the growth rate of server deployments is going to double over the next five years. We forecast if you don't deploy greater efficiencies in the server infrastructure, that the equivalent of 45 coal power plants will need to be deployed just to keep up with that growth of server infrastructure. This is really not just an individual problem but a collective problem that we need to address."

Brian Stevens, Red Hat's CTO and VP of worldwide engineering, told attendees that until now it was difficult to share information among hardware vendors due to confidentiality agreements. "Now we can have a much more open dialog with our developers in the open source community as we go through this process based on the OCP specifications," Stevens said.

So far, it looks like Facebook has taken an interesting first step toward getting the hardware industry to talk about sharing IP that could help reduce the cost and energy requirements of running large scale datacenters. Let's see if a broad enough set of players step up and contribute, and perhaps establish more standards in the area of datacenter design and infrastructure.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on November 03, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Google Partners Form Cloud Alliance

A group of seven Google partners this week formed an alliance that plans to work closely on helping customers to add different third-party business applications that run with Google Apps.

The Cloud Alliance for Google Apps claims it represents the most heavily deployed applications in the Google Apps Marketplace and appears to be looking to leverage its combined strength to jointly try to reach enterprise customers through outreach and ensuring interoperability where it makes sense.

Members of the alliance include Cloud Sherpas, Expensify, Insightly, Okta, RunMyProcess, SmartSheet and Spanning. Heading up the group is David Politis, chairman of Cloud Alliance and a vice president at Cloud Sherpas. Politis told me this is not a Cloud Sherpas effort, nor is Google involved.

"We believe there is an opportunity to improve the selection experience for end users and admins of Google Apps," Politis said. "As they go into the marketplace, it can be quite a process to evaluate, install, purchase, un-install and test different apps to figure out which ones to accept. We've taken the best of breed applications, we've created this alliance to go out and make that process easier for end users and administrators."

Each member will host a webinar starting Nov. 16 and running through March 14 on how to enhance Google Apps. Politis said over time, the group will add more members but first wanted to start out with a manageable number.

"I believe this alliance will evolve quite a bit," Politis said. "This ecosystem is still figuring out where it's going to go and it's still evolving."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on November 02, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


New Hybrid Cloud DR Services Target SMBs

Business continuity has long been an afterthought for many small and mid-sized enterprises. Even those that do run backup and recovery software on their networks don't have a setup that allows them to recover from a disabling disaster at a given location.

The cloud is making it easier for companies of all sizes to establish disaster recovery plans without the cost and complexity associated with it. And just about every supplier of backup and recovery software is offering services to enable customers to use the cloud to store their data.

Two companies, Axcient and KineticD, last week launched hybrid cloud-based solutions and services aimed at making it easier for small and medium businesses to backup and recover data.

Axcient is taking a unique approach to backup and recovery. The Mountain View, Calif.-based vendor's Axcient Cloud Continuity is a service that lets organizations back up data and apps running on PCs and servers, and gain virtual access via the Web in the event a site goes down.

The hybrid cloud platform allows organizations to back up all of the applications, files and folders running on PCs, as well as on servers. Rather than installing software on every device, an appliance developed by Hewlett-Packard extracts images from systems using Active Directory APIs.

When a customer site has an outage, users can access their data and applications, including Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint as well as any other business apps running on a company's network. Users can log in to the Axcient service from any location, launch their virtual office and gain VPN access to all their apps and data, said Axcient's CEO Jason Moore. "We don't just focus on the data, we focus on the applications, and that's a huge difference," Moore said.

Meanwhile, KineticD's new KineticCloud for Servers is also a hybrid cloud offering that allows SMBs and branch offices of larger organizations to back up data locally to a server or upload those backups to the cloud. The service carries a monthly cost of $19.95 per network and 50 cents per gigabyte.

It uses data de-duplication on the servers, a process of only backing up data that has changed, providing much faster backup times. "The idea is you sync to the cloud and have a full backup," said Jamie Brenzel, KineticD's CEO.

KineticD's new offering was made possible thanks to its acquisition of ROBOBAK earlier this year. That company's agentless disk-to-disk backup solution is delivered to customers via managed services providers. Slated for release early next year, the new offering is now available for beta testing.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on November 02, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Now You, Too, Can Build an App Marketplace

Application stores and marketplaces are becoming a popular means of distributing software and cloud-based apps for PCs and mobile devices.

Made popular by Apple with the iTunes App Store, now it seems every major software and cloud provider has released one or has one in the works. App stores and marketplaces will be among the top 10 strategic technologies for enterprises next year, according to a forecast released by Gartner last week.

The market researcher is predicting that app stores will facilitate 70 billion downloads of mobile apps per year by 2014. While it is primarily consumer-driven today, it will gain momentum for enterprise apps as well, according to Gartner.

"With enterprise app stores, the role of IT shifts from that of a centralized planner to a market manager providing governance and brokerage services to users and potentially an ecosystem to support entrepreneurs," according to the Gartner report. "Enterprises should use a managed diversity approach to focus on app store efforts and segment apps by risk and value."

Looking to capitalize on that trend, FullArmor on Wednesday launched the AppPortal Marketplace, which allows enterprises, ISVs, solution providers, distributors and bandwidth providers such as telcos to create their own application stores. It is a cloud-based service that lets those who want to create their own app stores to provision and host them.

It provides the functions needed to create an app store or marketplace, including setup of storefronts and catalogs, checkout and billing, explained FullArmor CEO Rich Farrell. "It's a turnkey system," he said.

For enterprises, it provides a form of governance over the use of applications that can be procured through third-party app marketplaces, Farrell said. IT organizations have lost control over the procurement of such applications since many are free or low-cost, allowing end users to bypass IT.

That creates all sorts of issues ranging from system configuration management, security and licensing. The AppPortal Marketplace creates an app store that IT can configure themselves for employees to use, while providing a chargeback and tracking mechanism, according to Farrell.

For ISVs, resellers, distributors and telcos, the marketplace allows them to host their own stores or create them for their customers. The starting price is $50,000 but costs are determined based on the number of apps that are in the marketplace and how many systems need to be integrated.

AppPortal Marketplace is currently hosted on Microsoft's Windows Azure platform, though FullArmor plans to support other cloud services, including those provided by Amazon, VMware and others, Farrell said.

It is likely FullArmor will aim to sell this platform to a larger vendor. The company's business model is that of an incubator. Among the technologies it has developed and sold off are Group Policy Administrator, acquired by NetIQ; Workflow Studio, an IT automation tool that Citrix bought; and Mail Portal Migrator, a tool for moving in-house Exchange-based systems to the cloud, which Quest Software picked up last year.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 27, 2011 at 11:59 AM1 comments


Internap Launches First Public Cloud Based on OpenStack Compute

Internap on Thursday said it is offering the first public cloud service based on the compute service of OpenStack, the rapidly growing open source platform aimed at providing interoperable public and private clouds.

More than 100 companies have signed on to the OpenStack project, founded by NASA and Rackspace. Internap's release of what it calls Open Public Cloud is a noteworthy milestone in the evolution of OpenStack, which consists of open APIs that allow portability between cloud providers.

Of course, that portability will only become a reality as more cloud providers offer compute services based on OpenStack. Rackspace is in the midst of doing so, as recently reported, and others such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard are planning to do the same. But it also allows for compatibility with private OpenStack-based clouds.

For its part, Internap will offer two cloud services: Open Public Cloud and Custom Public Cloud. The latter is based on VMware's vCloud Director platform and is likely to be preferred for enterprise applications requiring high availability, said Paul Carmody, Internap's senior VP of product management and business development.

Enterprise CIOs "are looking for a place for their internal private cloud to land, they want a VMware based platform because that's what they already virtualized on," Carmody said. "In addition, they may be running some commercial applications that are only certified to run in VMware VMs, so they need that landing place, it's a great answer for that audience."

The OpenStack-based cloud service will appeal more to startups or those looking to host Internet-based applications, according to Carmody. It will also be appropriate for those who want to use it for development and testing.

Besides portability, the appeal of Internap's OpenStack-based service will be cost. While he wouldn't discuss pricing other than to say both offerings will be based on the common usage-based model, Carmody said Open Public Cloud will be a less expensive option. That said, it will lack the performance of its Custom Public Cloud offering, he acknowledged.

"Obviously, OpenStack cloud is priced to be more of a cost-effective type cloud offering, where VMware is a more feature-rich HA-type environment," Carmody said. "Clearly, OpenStack itself is a maturing platform, it's a great starting point. There are features that will develop over time. I'd say VMware is very mature from a networking sophistication standpoint. You can construct fairly complicated application, networking topologies inside of VMware using vCloud Director that aren't currently supported by OpenStack. We think those networking complexities will mature over time with OpenStack, as well."

Indeed, the next release of OpenStack, code-named Essex, will focus on improved networking. The consortium is developing an API that dynamically requests and configures virtual networks. It will also offer advanced networking and virtualization capabilities.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 27, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Dell Boomi Aims To Simplify Cloud App Integration

Dell Boomi on Tuesday released an upgrade to its AtomSphere cloud integration service, adding the ability to use the collective intelligence of its customer base to map applications and data.

It's been nearly one year since Dell said it agreed to acquire Boomi, whose AtomSphere service is designed to simplify integration between cloud and premises-based applications. The new release, dubbed AtomSphere Fall 11, is aimed at addressing more complex integration requirements.

"The interesting trend here is that the integrations that we're seeing that our customers are using Boomi for are increasing in complexity," said Rick Nucci, founder and CTO of Dell Boomi, during a briefing with press and analysts. "The average number of applications connected today across Boomi's customer base is 11, which is a nice indicator of increasing complexity in integration that Boomi is helping to simplify."

Boomi Suggest, launched last year, allows customers to share an anonymous index of every data map built by Boomi users. Nucci said while customers have the option of opting out, so far no one has done so. The index suggests how developers should be mapping their data fields. When Boomi Suggest was launched, there were 5,000 maps in the index; now there are 50,000. And within those 50,000 maps, over 1.5 million individual data mappings are in that index, Nucci said.

With AtomSphere Fall 11, Dell Boomi is adding a mapping function, where customers can build filed level transformations on data.

Dell Boomi has also added the following new features in the release:

  • Business Rules: Users can now build multi-step conditional business rule logic into their integration workflows.

  • Partner Dashboards: These provide the ability for Boomi partners to create centralized dashboards. Currently, Dell Boomi has 70 ISV and systems integration partners, and the Partner Dashboards let them have centralized control of data and application integrations, while enabling them to monitor usage detail.

  • Expanded trust.boomi.com: Launched last year, this feature is designed to provide transparency of Dell Boomi's operational performance. Now the company is extending that capability by providing "improved transparency," where metrics will be published.

  • Predictive Assistance: Customers can gather return-on-investment metrics using analytics that measure usage characteristics.

The new features in Dell Boomi AtomSphere are available now, though Business Rules is only offered with Dell Boomi AtomSphere Professional or higher. Pricing starts at $550 per month.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 25, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Big Money Follows Cloud Storage

It seems everyone wants a piece of the cloud storage pie.

Cloud storage provider Dropbox this week received a whopping $250 million infusion from Index Ventures, with new investors Benchmark Capital, Goldman Sachs, Greylock Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, RIT Capital Partners and Valiant Capital Partners also contributing. 

Dropbox is the subject of a cover story in the Nov. 7 issue of Forbes, which recounts a meeting nearly two years ago between founder Drew Houston and Apple founder Steve Jobs, who apparently had an interest in Dropbox. Jobs, who passed away earlier this month after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, warned Houston that Apple was looking to develop a cloud storage service like Dropbox. That service, of course is iCloud, which debuted last week.

And yet another cloud storage high-flyer, Box.net, last week received $81 million from Salesforce.com, SAP Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners. The infusion brings Box.net's total amount of funding raised up to $162 million, giving it a reported $600 million valuation.  

Box.net reportedly spurned a $600 million takeover bid from Citrix, according to Forbes. Citrix, which now views cloud storage and document management as a key pillar of its desktop virtualization story, instead last week said it has acquired ShareFile for an undisclosed amount.

Like Box.net and Dropbox, ShareFile allows business users to store and synchronize files across multiple devices.

"Think of this as iCloud for the enterprise," said Sumit Dhawan, a Citrix Group VP. "iCloud is designed for consumers for sharing their pictures and videos and keeping it online along with your consumer apps. Think of [ShareFile] as enterprise-grade, with all the capabilities that enterprises need, including encryption, control and policy and things like that where you give users the flexibility to have access to their documents and data in the cloud on any device, while at the same time ensuring IT does not lose control but actually regains control so that users are not using unsanctioned ways of sending data to these devices where all of a sudden where you are compromising all IT policies and running into compliance issues."

Dropbox, which says it has 45 million users, is primarily a consumer-based cloud storage service, though individuals certainly are known to use it for business purposes. By comparison, Box.net and ShareFile bill themselves as cloud services providers for enterprises with an emphasis on document sharing and collaboration.

ShareFile, based in Raleigh, N.C., launched its first service in 2005 and says it now has 17,000 corporate customers. With the acquisition of ShareFile, Citrix said it will offer "follow-me-data" capabilities, allowing users to access data from any device and to collaborate with others.

Box.net said it has 7 million individuals among 100,000 enterprises using its service, including an 18,000-user deal with Proctor & Gamble. Next month Box.net plans to launch the Box Innovation Network, aimed at enabling developers to integrate their applications with the company's cloud service.

The company said it already integrates with 120 applications from the likes of Google (Apps), Salesforce.com, NetSuite and SAP. The company said it plans to use the funding to expand its international presence and to extend its U.S. infrastructure, including the launch of a third datacenter next year. Box.net and Citrix say they plan to boost their ISV and partner ecosystems.

For its part, Dropbox believes it has only addressed a sliver of its addressable market of 2 billion Internet-connected users, Houston told Reuters.

While anything is possible, it doesn't look like either of these companies is going to get scooped up any time soon. As larger rivals such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and now Citrix, among others, build out their cloud storage capabilities, it will be interesting to see to what extent Box.net and Dropbox upset the status quo.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 20, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


CenterBeam Challenges Microsoft's Office 365

Enterprises wanting to move from using in-house e-mail, productivity and collaboration software to Microsoft's new Office 365 may have to embark on upgrades they don't want to make. For example, to get the most out of Office 365's enterprise edition, shops need to upgrade to Office 365 and be able to provide single sign-on via Microsoft's Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS).

Third-party cloud providers are finding ways to help customers circumvent such requirements.

The latest to do so is a company called CenterBeam. The San Jose, Calif.-based managed services provider this week launched CenterBeam 365+ and has come out swinging at the cloud-based offerings from Google, Microsoft and others.

"We believe most of the players out there are delivering consumer-class services," said Shahin Pirooz, CenterBeam's CTO. "The solutions are vanilla and the intention is they don't offer a lot of customizing. With a lot of the systems, one size fits all. There's a mentality of 'figure it out yourself,' if you will, whether it's through a partner or through a third party."

For its part, closely held CenterBeam has been around since 1999, has 185 employees, serves users in 49 countries and claims it is profitable. The company says it developed the first multi-tenant hosted version of Exchange in conjunction with Microsoft back in 1999. At the time, Microsoft had invested in the company to gain access to CenterBeam's IP, said Karen Hayward, the company's CMO. CenterBeam's services are geared toward mid-sized enterprise with anywhere from 100 to 4,000 PC users (typically distributed) or with revenues ranging from $10 million to $1 billion.

With CenterBeam 365+, customers can use Office 2003, Active Directory 2000 and .PST files, while enjoying greater flexibility for customization versus Microsoft's Office 365, company officials said. CenterBeam 365+ is available with Office Web Apps. And CenterBeam has a 24x7 helpdesk staffed with level 2 engineers, many of whom have Microsoft and other (such as Apple, Cisco, Citrix and VMware) certifications. The engineers are equipped to remote into user desktops, if needed, Pirooz said.

"One of the key differentiators we bring to the table is how cloud can play in a true hybrid environment with integration back into the customer's environment," he said. "This model gives our customers the ability to move at their pace on their timing and move the pieces and parts that they feel appropriate."

Pirooz said CenterBeam 365+ offers other features that mimic the in-house Exchange environment, such as support for public folders, BlackBerry application push, global address list segmentation and the ability to provision users in multiple datacenters. "The solution has all the bells and whistles and advantages of an enterprise-class model that can be customized, but it has the financial and scale benefits of a cloud-based model," he said. "We deliver similar functionality to customers as if they had their on-premise environment."

With the release of CenterBeam 365+, the company is looking to extend its reach. It is doing so by launching its first-ever partner program. CenterBeam is recruiting both referral partners and resellers, Hayward said.

The company's key appeal to partners is it will allow them to control the billing relationship with customers, something Microsoft allows only with its largest partners "We allow the partner to bill the customer," Hayward said. The company handles the onboarding of customers for partners, she added.

Pricing starts at $10 per user per month and runs up to $21 for the highest grade of service.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 19, 2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Google Revs App Engine Platform

Google has been busy over the past few weeks upgrading its Google App Engine cloud service.

The company last week said it has updated its cloud storage, added premium support and released the preview of a new cloud database service. Google App Engine is the company's Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud offering, designed for those who want to build and host their applications.

More than 200,000 developers have built apps that run atop Google's cloud services, claimed Google Group product manager Jessie Jiang in a blog post. Google appears to be hoping that its newly announced upgrades to Google App Engine will make its cloud platform more appealing to larger enterprises.

Google Storage for Developers, introduced earlier this year, is now called Google Cloud Storage. The company has lowered the price of the storage service and is no longer charging upload fees. Larger customers are eligible for volume discounts, said Google Cloud Storage product manger Navneet Joneja in a blog post.

Pricing starts at 13 cents per gigabyte and scales down to 10.5 cents per gigabyte for up to 90 TB. For those requiring additional storage, customers can contact the company.

The company also added two experimental features to Google Cloud Storage. One is the ability to read and write data using the App Engines File API. The other is an API that gives users detailed usage information.

With the new Google App Engine Premier Accounts, customers will receive a 99.95 uptime service-level agreement and will be permitted to post an unlimited amount of apps on their accounts. Also, there are no minimum monthly fees for each app. Customers only pay for what they use, Google said.

The service costs $500 a month and is only available during business hours, not weekends or holidays. Customers are also expected to first "use reasonable efforts to fix any error, bug, malfunction or network connectivity defect without escalation to Google," according to the technical support guidelines.

Google also launched the preview of Google Cloud SQL, its cloud-based database. Google characterized a cloud database as one of the most-requested features for App Engine.

The preview, which allows customers to run MySQL databases in the cloud, is designed to support applications developed in Java or Python, allows for database instances up to 10 GB, and supports both asynchronous and synchronous replication.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 18, 2011 at 11:59 AM1 comments


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