Posts Tagged ‘cloud computing’

Article from SFGate.

Oracle has agreed to buy Eloqua Inc. for about $871 million, further expanding in cloud computing and ratcheting up competition with Salesforce.com and SAP.

The $23.50-per-share offer is more than twice Eloqua’s initial public offering price in August, and 31 percent higher than its closing price Wednesday. The board of Eloqua, whose Web-based tools are used in marketing and revenue-performance management, approved the deal, according to a statement.

Oracle’s $871 million offer, which is net of Eloqua’s cash, is more than nine times the target company’s sales over the last 12 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In two previous large cloud-computing deals this year, Redwood City-based Oracle paid 6.3 times sales for HR tools maker Taleo Corp. in April, and 7.1 times the revenue of customer support software maker RightNow Technologies Inc., which it acquired in January.

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Article from GigaOm.

“Huawei is planning to boost its cloud computing offerings on the software side through acquisitions, but thanks to the uncertain politics related to the Chinese government, U.S. startups may not be in the running. The Chinese telecom gear maker has had its eye on the data center market for some time, and cloud computing is a hot opportunity in China(sub req’d) where the client-server computing paradigm didn’t have much chance to become entrenched.

Reuters reports that Li Sanqi, chief technology officer of Huawei’s IT hardware product line, said:

“I feel that we will have acquisitions in the cloud and ICT (information and communications technology) arenas. We are searching, but we’ll be careful in the United States for political reasons.”

His caution is well founded, as the United States has taken steps recently to prevent Huawei from selling gear that could be used in public safety equipment, and in February blocked it from acquiring the assets of a networking hardware startup called 3Leaf systems. The government prevented the deal at the recommendation of The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which exists to prevent sensitive technology from being acquired by foreign companies. The U.S. government has long been suspicious of Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government.

Huawei has repeatedly denied or downplayed those ties. However, fears of China’s hacking skills and technological advancements remain a large concern in the United States. For this reason, Huawei says it will look for startup companies in Canada, China and Israel, which means the myriad U.S. cloud software startups will have to find buyers a little closer to home.”

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Article from SFGate.

“The hottest trends in technology also represent some of the gravest threats to corporate data security.

Mobile devices, social networking and cloud computing are opening up new avenues for both cyber criminals and competitors to access critical business information, according to speakers at this week’s RSA Conference 2011 at San Francisco‘s Moscone Center and a survey set for release this morning.

The poll of 10,000 security professionals, by Mountain View market research firm Frost & Sullivan, also concluded that corporate technology staffs are frequently ill prepared to deal with many of the new threats presented by these emerging technologies.

“The professionals are really struggling to keep up,” said Rob Ayoub, global program director for information security research at Frost & Sullivan.

Mobile: Mobile devices ranked near the top of their security concerns, coming in second behind applications, such as internally developed software and Internet browsers.

Businesses face a number of threats from the increasingly common use of smart phones and tablets by their workers, including malicious software that attacks the operating systems, or the simple loss or theft of devices often laden with corporate information.

Juniper Networks, a sponsor of the RSA conference, presented some eye-catching – if also self-serving – statistics during a session titled “Defend Your Mobile Life.”

Mark Bauhaus, an executive vice president at Juniper, said that 98 percent of mobile devices like smart phones and tablets aren’t protected with any security software, and that few users set up a password. That’s troublesome, he said, given that:

— 2 million people in the United States either lost or had their phones stolen last year;

— 40 percent of people use their smart phone for both personal and business use;

— 72 percent access sensitive information, including banking, credit card and medical records;

— 80 percent access their employer’s network over these devices without permission.

Bauhaus stressed the need to adopt mobile applications and online services – which Juniper not coincidentally provides – that remotely turn off and wipe gadgets, blacklist spammers, detect and remove viruses, and ensure that devices are safe before connecting to corporate networks.

Hackers have already tried to exploit the popularity of mobile applications by writing Trojan Horses, malicious programs that appear to be helpful apps in online markets, said two researchers from Lookout Mobile Security of San Francisco in a separate session.

Once users install the app, however, it can disable the phone, force it to execute commands or snatch information.

Since late December, two Trojans have been identified on Android phones that represented significant leaps in technological sophistication, said Kevin Mahaffey, chief technology officer of Lookout, which also develops mobile security services.

Known as Geinimi and HongTouTou, both are examples of malicious software inserted into otherwise familiar and legitimate apps.

“We’re nowhere near the level of sophistication you see in desktop malware, but it’s definitely a step up from what we’ve seen to date,” Mahaffey said.

Cloud: A Wednesday morning session titled “Cloud Computing: A Brave New World for Security and Privacy,” highlighted the considerations that businesses should bear in mind before using such a system, in which data are stored on remote server farms rather than ensconced behind a company’s own walls.

Placing corporate e-mails, human resource information or credit card numbers outside the company’s physical domain raises a number of legal, privacy and security issues, according to the panel.

Hackers go after cloud providers for the same reason that criminals rob banks, said Eran Freigenbaum, director of security for Google Apps.

“Cloud providers are going to get attacked and get attacked, because that’s where the data is,” he said.

The measure of a cloud service, like those provided by Google, Amazon.com or Salesforce.com, are how they hold up against such assaults and respond to exposed vulnerabilities, he said.”

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Article from SFGate.

“Amazon.com Vice President James Hamilton’s schooling in computer-data centers started under the hood of a Lamborghini Countach.

Fixing luxury Italian autos in British Columbia while in his 20s taught Hamilton, 51, valuable lessons in problem solving, forcing him to come up with creative ways to repair cars because replacement parts were hard to find.

“It’s amazing how many things you can pick up in one industry and apply to another,” Hamilton, who also has been a distinguished engineer at Amazon since 2009, said.

Hamilton is putting these skills to use at Amazon, where he’s central to an effort by Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos to make Amazon Web Services, which leases server space and computing power to other companies, as big as the core e-commerce business. He’s charged with finding ways to make data centers work faster and more efficiently while fending off competition from Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp., his two prior employers, and AT&T Inc.

$56 billion in 2014

Revenue from the kinds of cloud services offered by Amazon is expected to reach $56 billion in 2014, up from more than $16 billion in 2009, according to research firm IDC.

Amazon’s Web services brought in about $500 million in revenue in the past year, according to estimates from Barclays Capital and Lazard Capital Markets, or about 1.5 percent of Amazon’s $34.2 billion in sales. The company doesn’t disclose revenue from Web services, also called cloud computing.

As they pursue growth, Hamilton and his team will have to ensure that Amazon’s investment in Web services is well spent. Investors pummeled shares of the Seattle e-commerce giant on Jan. 28, the day after the company said it would boost spending on data centers and warehouses, fueling concern that margins will narrow.

Although still relatively small, Amazon Web Services is growing at a faster rate than the company’s core business, and it’s more profitable, said Sandeep Aggarwal, an analyst at Caris & Co. in San Francisco. Web services may generate as much as $900 million in sales this year, and operating margins could be as wide as 23 percent, compared with 5 percent margins in the main business, Aggarwal said.

Hamilton, who has filed almost 50 patents in various technologies, is developing new ideas in cloud computing, which lets companies run their software and infrastructure in remote data centers on an as-needed basis, rather than in a computer room down the hall.

He spends much of his time shuttling between departments, encouraging teams focused on storage, databases, networking and other functions to work together. One aim: devising ways to squeeze costs out of multimillion-dollar data centers and passing those savings on to customers such as Eli Lilly & Co. and Netflix Inc.

Among the challenges Hamilton and his colleagues face is making Amazon flexible enough for customers that want custom services, while overcoming companies’ concerns about storing sensitive information outside their own secure firewalls. They’ve met with early success, with Amazon emerging as the leader in cloud computing among developers, according to consulting and research firm Forrester Research Inc.

Innovation required

Amazon’s Web services unit will have to stay innovative to keep ahead of competition from Rackspace Hosting Inc., which manages applications for businesses. Startups such as Cloud.com also are trying to carve their own niche in cloud computing.

Amazon has been able to stand apart from rivals by introducing unique products, said Jeff Hammond, an analyst at Forrester. For example, the company unveiled a service last month called Elastic Beanstalk, which lets even novices who don’t know how to write computer code plug into Amazon’s computing power.

“These guys continue to innovate in a way that the large traditional companies – the IBMs and the Oracles and the Microsofts of the world – are not doing,” Hammond said.

Last year, Amazon introduced Spot Instances, which took a nontraditional approach to managing underused servers. While many companies pack tasks onto underused servers and unplug the extra ones, Hamilton and his colleagues began auctioning off idle computing capacity. The result: Amazon got revenue rather than an unused server and the customer got a cheaper price than the normal rental rate.

“The trick is to find a steady stream of things like that,” said Hamilton. “We can make such a big difference here on services and server efficiency.”

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Here is an interresting article from SFgate.com.

“Microsoft is betting the cloud will deliver it and its customers the most opportunities for innovation and development. And according to CEO Steve Ballmer, five key reasons are driving the company’s confidence in — and technology strategy for — cloud computing in the coming years.

Microsoft’s 2010 task: Make the cloud clear

“For the cloud, we’re all in,” said Ballmer during an address and live Webcast at the University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering in Seattle. “Literally, I will tell you we are betting our company on it.”

In addition to Microsoft’s Azure platform, Ballmer said the cloud and its potential is behind Microsoft’s technology strategy and that the company, while perhaps behind in some areas such as phones, is with the market leaders when it comes to cloud computing.

“The cloud fuels Microsoft and Microsoft fuels the cloud,” Ballmer said. “We have 40,000 people employed building software around the globe, about 70% of the folks that work for us are doing something designed exclusively for the cloud or designed to serve one of the five points I spoke about today. A year from now, it would be 90%. How we are thinking about delivering it really builds from this cloud base.”

During the hour-long address, Ballmer detailed the five key dimensions of the cloud driving Microsoft, the first being that “the cloud creates opportunities and responsibilities.” That means it provides people the opportunity to create and share content “instantaneously,” but also requires a responsibility around privacy and confidentiality. “It is a dimension of the cloud that needs all of our best work in my opinion,” Ballmer said.

The second key dimension is around learning, what the cloud learns about the world and about users, bringing data together to enable better decisions.

But the cloud, like many disruptive technologies, is not a static entity, he suggested. “The cloud needs to learn about you and needs to keep learning and figure out about the world that has been described virtually,” Ballmer said. “The cloud itself needs to learn, it has to represent the real world and keep getting smarter and better to help me learn.”

The next dimension Ballmer detailed involves how the cloud “enhances your social and professional interactions” and enables people to connect on multi-faceted levels.

“The ability to really connect people and help people connect is just beginning to be tapped,” Ballmer said.

Using an example of Xbox Live tapping into British television service Sky, Simon Atwell, senior program manager at Microsoft’s XBox division, showed how users could virtually watch TV together, interact via prompts and connect socially using the gaming platform, without actually having to be playing games the entire time. While the demonstration suffered from “4,700 miles of geographic latency,” Atwell was able to display the experience in part.”

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