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From: The Ox10/5/2017 8:07:11 AM
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From: Glenn Petersen10/5/2017 11:00:31 PM
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Switch prices IPO above range at $17, raises more than $500 million

By Jeremy C. Owens
Published: Oct 5, 2017 7:25 p.m. ET

Data-center operator Switch Inc. SWCH, +0.00% priced its initial public offering higher than expected Thursday evening to pull in more than half a billion dollars. The Las Vegas-based data-center company, which owns three large data centers and is developing a fourth, announced that it would sell 31.25 million shares at $17 apiece, after previously stating a target range of $14 to $16. At that price, Switch stands to collect at least $531.25 million at a valuation of about $4.2 billion; underwriters have access to another 4.7 million shares, which could push the take even higher. The company has said it will use the proceeds to buy out investors in Switch Ltd. and take control of that company though Switch Inc., which was just incorporated in 2017. A multi-class share structure will allow founder and Chief Executive Rob Roy to maintain control, as his shares will have 10 times the voting rights of common shares. Switch is expected to begin trading Friday morning on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SWCH.

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From: Glenn Petersen10/13/2017 9:48:05 AM
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How Amazon, Google, Microsoft, And IBM Sell AI As A Service

The tech giants with cloud computing businesses are using artificial intelligence offerings to distinguish themselves and win business.

By Fast Company Staff

10.11.1712:30 pm

The success of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant has reverberated throughout the business world, making AI- powered chat the next big thing. [Illustration: Daniel Zender]

Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft have all discovered that the artificial intelligence they use to make their own products better can be turned into a service and sold to corporate customers as a value-added service on top of their booming cloud-computing businesses.

Alphabet and its best-known subsidiary, Google, have put considerable resources into machine learning going back to 1999, the first year that Google acknowledged publicly that it used AI to improve Google Search, then its only product. Once Google decided to get more serious about its cloud computing business and serving enterprise customers—Google Cloud storage officially launched in 2010—it has found more ways to take its AI investment and acumen and use it to serve others. Diane Greene, SVP of Google Cloud, has admitted that enterprise customers had been wary of Google because the company has been so consumer focused; its AI capabilities have played a meaningful role in winning them over.

Alphabet has two major divisions working on AI: Google Brain and DeepMind, which it acquired for $500 million in 2014. Both groups have worked on applying AI in healthcare, for example, which then allows Google Cloud to better serve businesses in that field. The company’s efforts in image recognition can become valuable for Airbus and other aerospace businesses that need to process and glean insights from large volumes of satellite imagery. All of Google’s work on Google Translate can now help any global business with a call center. Although most of the value in Google’s AI accrues to its own products and services, the company has stated that Google Cloud is one of its fastest-growing business units.

Amazon has a much more natural synergy between its AI efforts and how it can sell those initiatives to others via its industry-leading cloud computing service. As CEO Jeff Bezos wrote earlier this year in his letter to shareholders, “Much of what we do with machine learning happens beneath the surface . . . quietly but meaningfully improving core operations.” The examples Bezos cites include demand forecasting, fraud detection, and translations—all features that any business would value. As our feature on the Great AI War recounts, a sheriff’s department in Oregon pays Amazon about $6 a month to use Amazon’s facial-recognition service on an ongoing basis.

More than any of its rivals, Amazon has electrified the public with its audacious vision for an AI-powered future. Its line of Echo devices, brought to life by the artificially intelligent Alexa, has defined the path for the next generation of home automation and commerce and made voice-powered speakers arguably the hottest segment in consumer electronics. That success has enabled Amazon to release the technology powering Alexa as its own product so that any company can develop its own intelligent voice applications.

This strategy is central to Amazon’s history of success; it has largely always relied upon its ability to transform something it built for itself into something it can then sell to millions of businesses. Amazon started as a mere bookseller and then opened up its marketplace to let other retailers take advantage of its e-commerce platform. After it built warehouses to fulfill orders for customers, it offered Fulfillment by Amazon to those same marketplace businesses. Amazon Web Services started because Amazon had had to build excess computing capacity to support its business during the busiest shopping season; it could then sell that capacity to a host of others. This is how Amazon’s famous “flywheel” works and AI-powered services are its next frontier.

To that end, keep a close eye on the company’s retail concept called Go. It relies on computer vision and machine learning to present a different kind of shopping experience. Amazon has yet to open this new take on the convenience store to the public almost a year after announcing the idea. But once the company gets Go working, do not expect the company to roll out thousands of Go stores across the country. It is far more likely that Amazon will offer up this AI-powered retail infrastructure to existing shopkeepers who will pay Amazon a recurring fee to use it.

Also note that Amazon Web Services currently represents almost 10% of the company’s annual revenue and it is a part of Amazon’s business that investors monitor very closely. The more Amazon can keep AWS humming, the more its entire enterprise thrives.

Unlike Alphabet/Google or Amazon, almost all of Microsoft’s business lies in serving enterprise customers. It is the tech giant most focused on converting AI directly into revenue. “Our company’s identity is fundamentally about creating technology so that others can create more technology,” CEO Satya Nadella told Fast Company recently. “And it’s essential that it is being used for empowering more people.”

Artificial intelligence “is at the intersection of our ambitions,” Nadella told an audience of Microsoft partners in September 2016, suggesting that it will let the company “reason over large amounts of data and convert that into intelligence.” A few months later, Microsoft officially closed its $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, giving the company a large amount of data about employees, companies, and recruiting to reason over and try to make smarter.

In August, it debuted a real-time AI system for its enterprise cloud customers, which could help the company win business from companies who want to deploy such business initiatives as dynamic pricing and retail personalization. Microsoft’s mission to help companies in a wide range of industries to be more productive and effective means that it is the one company whose AI work is most keenly connected to its future prospects.

Similarly, IBM’s approach has been to target specific industries, from healthcare to retail, and learn those domains so that its Watson-branded AI (which IBM calls cognitive computing) can alleviate drudge work and wrangle impossibly large sets of data. “There’s a reason we call it cognitive [computing],” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty told the CNBC personality Jim Cramer in June 2017. “It’s about augmenting what you and I do so we can do what we’re supposed to, our best.”

IBM’s argument to customers is that it is the only company offering sector-based AI solutions and those businesses within them can own their own AI rather than just rent it. It’s also made the most overt effort to connect its industrial internet of things initiative to Watson, as best seen in IBM’s 2016 acquisition of The Weather Company for approximately $2 billion. The deal gave IBM access to 2.2 billion forecast points worldwide, a trove of data that Watson churns through to fuel multiple client services. These efforts have generated a lot of attention and Watson is arguably the strongest brand in AI, but they haven’t yet turned around IBM’s business.

A version of this article appeared in the November 2017 issue of Fast Company magazine.

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From: Glenn Petersen10/24/2017 10:06:57 AM
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h/t Sr K

U.S. Will Curb ‘Sneak-and-Peek’ Searches Microsoft Sued Over

By Dina Bass and Chris Strohm
October 23, 2017, 8:46 PM EDT Updated on October 23, 2017, 9:09 PM EDT

> Microsoft had sued Justice Department citing free-speech right

> New federal guidelines call for more selective use of practice

The U.S. Justice Department is moving to scale back the use of orders forcing technology companies to turn over customer data without alerting users to the clandestine interception of their information.

Microsoft Corp., which sued the government over the practice last year, and other internet giants have argued that the future of cloud computing is in jeopardy if customers can’t trust that their data will remain private. Microsoft declined to comment Monday on whether it will drop its lawsuit, which was backed by rivals including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Inc.

The rapid growth of the cloud, in which customer data is stored by providers like Microsoft, Apple Inc., Amazon and Google in the technology companies’ own data centers, has increased the frequency of warrants seeking data.

Going forward, prosecutors must “conduct an individualized and meaningful assessment" of whether a secrecy order is needed, according to a memo issued by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. For internet users whose data is sought, the government shouldn’t delay notifying them for more than a year, except "barring exceptional circumstances," according to the memo. Microsoft argued in court that too many data requests carry secrecy provisions, often of indefinite duration, that violate the company’s free-speech rights.

The Justice Department said the changes will protect the rights of citizens and preserve companies’ relationships with their customers.

“This update further ensures that the department can protect the rights of citizens we serve, while allowing companies to maintain relationships with their customers by notifying those suspected of crimes, or believed to have information relevant to a crime, in a timely manner that information was obtained relating to their user accounts,” the department said in an emailed statement.

The dispute centered on the application of the Stored Communications Act, part of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a law that predates the advent of the World Wide Web. Microsoft contended that while some cases might require secrecy because disclosure could create a risk of harm or endanger the government’s case, the practice had become far too common.

In the 18 months before Microsoft sued in April 2016 in Seattle, the company said 2,756 of the legal demands it received from the U.S. government came with secrecy orders and two-thirds appeared to extend indefinitely. Microsoft defeated the government’s bid for dismissal of the suit in February, though the judge didn’t rule on the merits of the case.

Microsoft in September announced new cloud encryption technology that could offer an end-run around government secretive snooping by enabling customers to control access to content stored in Microsoft data centers.

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From: Sam10/26/2017 4:49:17 PM
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Microsoft, Alphabet and Amazon all beat and are rising AH. The Cloud is on fire!

Microsoft Rising: FYQ1 Beats, Nadella Says Cloud Ahead of Plan
By Tiernan Ray
Updated Oct. 26, 2017 4:20 p.m. ET

Microsoft ( MSFT) this afternoon reported fiscal Q1 revenue and earnings per share that easily topped analysts' expectations, sending its shares higher in late trading.

Revenue in the three months ended in September rose to $24.5 billion, yielding EPS of 84 cents.

Analysts had been modeling $23.52 billion in revenue, and 72 cents a share in earnings.

Chief Satya Nadella said that the company's "commercial cloud" business topped $20 billion in "annualized recurring revenue," which he said was faster than the company's promise two years earlier.

Microsoft's "productivity" division, including its "Office" suite, saw sales rise 28%, to $8.2 billion.

Revenue in the "Intelligent Cloud" group was up 14% at $6.9 billion. That includes Azure cloud computing, which saw sales rise 90%.

The "More Personal Computing" division saw sales decline 1% in constant-currency terms, to $9.4 billion. That includes a 4% increase in the manufacturer revenue for Windows software licenses on PCs, a 12% jump in Surface computer devices, and a 1% rise in video game revenue, including a 21% rise in Xbox software and services.

Microsoft stock is up $1.10, or 1.5%, at $79.86, in late trading.

[Microsoft is now trading at $81.71-81.74 AH.]

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From: Sam10/26/2017 4:59:23 PM
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Microsoft's Services Revenue Lifts Quarterly Results
DOW JONES & COMPANY, INC. 4:57 PM ET 10/26/2017

Symbol Last Price Change
78.76 +0.13 (+0.17%)
QUOTES AS OF 04:00:00 PM ET 10/26/2017

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has ridden the cloud-computing wave for several quarters, and once again its revenues surged on the strength of its emerging business of selling web-based, on-demand computing services.

In the fiscal first quarter, the two biggest pieces of Microsoft's(MSFT) cloud-computing operations -- its Azure infrastructure services and Office 365 online-productivity business -- saw revenue soar 90% and 42%, respectively.

While the software giant doesn't disclose revenue figures for those businesses, it said its commercial-cloud run- rate -- the last month of sales of its Azure and Office 365 products, multiplied by 12 -- hit $20.4 billion.

"They crushed it again," said Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Brad Reback. "These were really strong growth rates."

Those gains continued to offset the company's Windows PC operating-system franchise, which has slowed in recent years. Revenue in Microsoft's(MSFT) More Personal Computing segment, which includes Windows as well as the mobile-phone and gaming businesses, stayed flat at about $9.4 billion. Microsoft(MSFT) doesn't break out revenue for its Windows business. Earlier in October, International Data Corp. reported world-wide PC shipments fell 0.5% in the third quarter.

Overall, Microsoft(MSFT) posted $6.58 billion in net income, or 84 cents a share, compared with a profit of $5.67 billion, or 72 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue gained 12% to $24.54 billion.

Analysts surveyed by S&P Global Market Intelligence Microsoft to report per-share earnings of 72 cents on $23.56 billion in revenue.

Shares rose 2.6% to $80.74 in after-hours trading after results beat expectations. If Microsoft(MSFT) shares stay at these levels when markets open Friday, it would be an all-time high. The stock has gained 27% so far this year.

The engines of Microsoft's(MSFT) growth have been its Intelligent Cloud segment, which includes Azure, and its Productivity and Business Processes segment, which includes the Office franchise. Revenue in Intelligent Cloud rose 14% to $6.92 billion, while revenue in Productivity and Business Processes climbed 28% to $8.24 billion.

The Productivity and Business Processes unit also includes Microsoft's(MSFT) Dynamics business, which sells software and services to help sales representatives manage customer relationships and finance departments manage corporate resources. It is a market where Microsoft(MSFT) competes with Inc., among others, and one in which the company has placed growing emphasis. Dynamics revenue grew 13%, though the company didn't disclose a revenue figure.

Microsoft (MSFT) purchased LinkedIn, the professional social network, in December for $27 billion, in part, to boost the Dynamics business. In the quarter, LinkedIn added $1.14 billion in revenue and posted a $294 million operating loss.

To support its growing cloud business, Microsoft(MSFT) is doling out huge sums to build expensive data centers around the world. In the quarter, Microsoft(MSFT) spent $2.7 billion in capital expenses, with much of that money going toward its data- center expansion. A year ago, Microsoft(MSFT) recorded $2.3 billion in capital expenses.

Microsoft (MSFT) launched a bevy of new Surface computers earlier this year, including a refreshed Surface Pro tablet- laptop hybrid and a lightweight laptop to compete with Apple's MacBook Air.

Microsoft (MSFT) didn't break out specific revenue figures for the devices, but noted that Surface revenue gained 12% in the quarter.

Write to Jay Greene at

[MSFT is trading at $81.62-81.65 AH right now.]

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From: Sam10/26/2017 6:08:44 PM
1 Recommendation   of 1483
Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Intel find billions more in profit
MARKETWATCH 6:06 PM ET 10/26/2017

Symbol Last Price Change
972.43 -0.48 (-0.05%)
972.56 -0.77 (-0.08%)
78.76 +0.13 (+0.17%)
41.35 +0.57 (+1.4%)
QUOTES AS OF 04:00:00 PM ET 10/26/2017

Amazon (AMZN), Google(GOOG), Microsoft(MSFT) and Intel(INTC) increased profits by more than $2 billion and revenue by $23 billion in just one year

Technology companies have been dominating the news and investors' attention, and a series of earnings reports Thursday afternoon showed why.

Four of the most valuable tech companies in the Inc.(AMZN) , Google(GOOG) parent company Alphabet Inc.(GOOG) , Microsoft Corp.(MSFT) and Intel Corp.(INTC) --destroyed expectations for profit and revenue in third- quarter reports Thursday afternoon, collectively bringing in about $2.2 billion more profit and $23 billion more revenue than the same quarter a year ago. Stock in those four companies jumped across the board in late trading, which would make them worth even more than the combined market cap of nearly $2 trillion they enjoyed at the end of Thursday's trading session.

-- Alphabet had perhaps the most astounding beat of the afternoon, as profit rose $1.12 billion and revenue $9.5 billion from the year before. The Google(GOOG) parent company reported ( surges-in-late-trading-after-third-quarter-earnings-sales-beat-2017-10-26) third-quarter net income of $6.73 billion, or $9.57 a share, on revenue of $27.8 billion. That performance destroyed forecasts, as analysts on average expected Alphabet to report earnings of $8.31 a share on revenue of $21.94 billion. In a conference call, Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat credited mobile search, the Google Cloud Platform and Google's(GOOG) expanded hardware efforts for boosting the company, as well as YouTube(GOOG). The company's stock rise in late trading but it close to a $700 billion market cap, which would make it only the second company in U.S. history to achieve that mark, after Apple Inc. (AAPL)

BookWatch: Amazon(AMZN), Apple, Google(GOOG) and Facebook will all go away within 50 years, says author (http://

-- Amazon(AMZN) enjoyed the largest initial stock pop in after-hours trading ( spending-ways-hit-earnings-but-dont-expect-a-shift-to-thrift-2017-07-27) of the four after the e-commerce giant produced an unexpectedly large profit. Amazon(AMZN) investors and analysts were understandably expecting small profits after the company's earnings plunged 77% in the previous quarter ( earnings-but-dont-expect-a-shift-to-thrift-2017-07-27) and executives were unapologetic about their free-spending ways before turning around and buying Whole Foods Market Inc., a lower-margin business. While profit has never been Amazon's(AMZN) strong suit, the company has managed to steadily boost its huge revenue totals, and that paid off in the third quarter. Amazon(AMZN) increased revenue by $11.03 billion from the third quarter of 2016, to a record quarterly total of $43.7 billion, to post the same earnings as last year's third quarter, 52 cents a share. It expects to easily break that record in the current quarter, projecting holiday-season sales of $56 billion to $60.5 billion, easily higher than analysts were estimating.

-- Microsoft(MSFT) recently topped a $600 billion market cap ( maintain-600-billion-market-cap-2017-10-25) for the first time since the dot-com boom, and shares headed to record levels in late trading Thursday ( first-quarter-earnings-2017-10-26) after the company destroyed estimates with growth mostly credited to the cloud. The company reported its fiscal first-quarter earnings rose to $6.58 billion, or 84 cents a share, from $5.67 billion, or 72 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue grew $2.2 billion to $24.5 billion total. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had projected earnings of 71 cents a share on revenue of $23.52 billion.

-- Intel(INTC) is the oldest of this bunch of companies, helping to establish the San Francisco Bay Area as Silicon Valley thanks to its pioneering semiconductors. The chip maker, though, has experienced trouble growing its profit and revenue as it missed the boat on mobile and personal computers became less important. So while Intel's(INTC) increasing revenue and profit may have looked small when compared with Amazon(AMZN), Microsoft(MSFT) and Alphabet, it could be more important to the company in the long run, as the world's largest chip maker looks to new areas for growth. The company reported (http:// third-quarter net income of $4.52 billion, or 94 cents a share, compared with $3.38 billion, or 69 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue rose to $16.15 billion from $15.78 billion in the year-ago period, and Intel(INTC) raised its full-year outlook for adjusted earnings to $3.25 a share, plus or minus 5 cents, and revenue to $62 billion, plus or minus $500 million.

Not all tech companies were as fortunate Thursday, in a busy afternoon for earnings, showing a definite divide between the largest tech companies and those struggling to compete. Chinese internet giant Baidu Inc. (BIDU) also showed a gargantuan increase in profit, but its forecast for the current quarter sent its stock tumbling (http://, while Expedia Inc. (EXPE) dropped more than 8% after missing profit and revenue expectations ( stock-falls-8-on-earnings-revenue-miss-2017-10-26).

-Jeremy C. Owens; 415-439-6400;

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From: Glenn Petersen10/27/2017 10:06:39 AM
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Google and Cisco team up in the cloud wars against Amazon

  • Google and Cisco will jointly develop products for use in the cloud and in on-premise data centers.
  • Early customers will have access to the products in the first half of 2018.
  • Google is racing to catch Amazon in cloud infrastructure.
Ari Levy | @levynews
Published 8:00 AM ET Wed, 25 Oct 2017 Updated 8:11 AM ET Wed, 25 Oct 2017

Ashlee Espinal | CNBC
Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco

When Chuck Robbins was promoted to CEO of Cisco in 2015, the company's technology was in danger of losing relevance.

When Google named Diane Greene as head of its cloud division that same year, her unit was desperate to close the gap with Amazon Web Services.

Two years later, Robbins and Greene are teaming up to develop and sell cloud technology and services in a whole new way and to take on AWS.

On Wednesday, Cisco and Google announced a partnership that will combine Google's expertise in building massive data centers and open source software with Cisco's global salesforce, customer support and security.

Tony Avelar | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Diane Greene, Google

Cloud infrastructure, the technology that allows businesses to offload their computing and storage needs and access their data from anywhere, has become a huge and fast growing market — and Amazon dominates it. The company's AWS business got started in 2006 and is now generating over $4 billion in sales a quarter.

AWS controls 34 percent of the market, according to Synergy Research Group. Google is a distant fourth with around 5 percent of the market, behind AWS, Microsoft, and IBM.

But the cloud is maturing, creating new openings for competitors.

In particular, big companies with thousands of employees and legacy servers aren't dumping all of their data into AWS. Instead, they often do new projects in the cloud and let developers test and build apps there, while leaving core data in their own data centers.

This is particularly true for complicated and heavily regulated businesses like hospitals and banks — exactly the kinds of businesses an enterprise upstart like Google wants to reach.

Coming in 2018

"This whole cloud phenomenon is gaining steam pretty rapidly, and it's really become a strategic imperative for people," Greene told CNBC.

"But it just can't happen that fast. It's a lot to take all your on-premise data centers to the cloud and not everything will necessarily move."

As part of the agreement, Google and Cisco are co-developing a hybrid offering that will bring some of Google's tools for working with cloud services to enterprises that aren't ready to go all-in on the cloud. Cisco will provide security and support as well as computer networking.

A winning cloud strategy is also critical for Cisco. There's not much growth left in selling hardware like routers and switches, which have generated the bulk of Cisco's revenue, and its software products for communications and collaboration operate in highly competitive markets.

But Cisco has relationships with the largest enterprises and governments around the world. Because those customers demand modern tools for application development and for running machine learning workloads, Cisco's ability to offer Google's services may be a way to keep them from fleeing.

"We've listened to our customers," Robbins told CNBC. "They're looking for cloud speed and scale and agility, but they want the flexibility of running applications in private data centers as well as in public clouds."

The Google-Cisco offering will be available for early customers in the first half of 2018 and will hit the broader market in the second half of the year.

Greene highlighted Kubernetes and Istio as two open-source products that will have particular resonance with Cisco customers. Kubernetes was developed by Google, and allows developers to build and deploy apps in digital containers. Istio was created by Google, IBM and ride-hailing start-up Lyft and is used for managing microservices, or small software programs that are stitched together to perform a variety of functions. Both technologies help programmers build software more quickly and flexibly, and make it more reliable and less likely to crash.

Google and Cisco aren't divulging how the revenue split will work. And Robbins said there's nothing in the deal that precludes Cisco from forging similar partnerships with other cloud providers, should the opportunity arise.

With AWS still growing at almost 40 percent a year, Google is eager to show the market where it has advantages over its rivals.

"Customers are excited about this when we explain it to them," Greene said. "It lets them see where we're going and how we're going to do it."

-- CNBC's Josh Lipton contributed to this report.

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From: FUBHO11/6/2017 11:44:04 AM
1 Recommendation   of 1483
Google and Cisco Signed the Papers, and Now Starts the Heavy Lifting - What to look out for when the latest marriage in the land of hybrid cloud starts bearing fruit.

What to look out for when the latest marriage in the land of hybrid cloud starts bearing fruit.
There is probably no vendor closer than Cisco to the kind of ubiquity VMware enjoys in enterprise data centers. Zooming out from the technical details of Cisco’s recently announced cloud partnership with Google, this is a key thing to understand.

Recently, the leadership at Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform started taking steps that demonstrate an understanding that the road to the traditional enterprise market lies through companies whose products are already in enterprise data centers. Their top rivals – Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle – are such companies, and the most obvious way to deal with that reality is to partner with other enterprise stalwarts, such as Cisco and VMware.

Hence, since this past August you can spin up VMware servers in AWS that reportedly look and act like they’re on the same network as your on-premises VMware environment (result of

a partnership between Amazon and VMware announced a year earlier), and sometime next year you’ll be able to run a Google cloud software stack on a Cisco HyperFlex system inside your data center that will make GCP an extension of your on-premises IT (or vice versa).

“This type of announcement gets them [Google] a tremendous amount of enterprise attention,” Stephen Elliot, program VP for management software and DevOps at IDC Research, said in an interview with Data Center Knowledge. “These types of announcements are a recognition that the companies that are going to win in the future are going to be those that really understand the legacy challenges” but present a roadmap for transitioning that legacy to any cloud environment.

Another thing Google and Cisco’s partnership does is provide new enterprise distribution opportunities for Kubernetes, the Google-born open source project that’s quickly becoming the dominant platform for managing and orchestrating Linux containers, he added. Built to mimic the way Google deploys and runs software across its global data center network, Kubernetes will likely become core to the way most developers and IT operations staff work in the future.

In Google and Cisco’s vision, Kubernetes is how software deployed on-premises will run the same way cloud-native software runs in the cloud. In a different partnership, Google, VMware, and Pivotal are busy adopting Kubernetes for VMware – another path to the enterprise data center for the open source platform; both Amazon and Microsoft recently joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, the Linux Foundation group that now administers Kubernetes; and Docker, the company that did more than any other to popularize use of application containers, is integrating Kuberneteswith its flagship enterprise product.

Also born at Google, also open source, and also part of the future hybrid cloud stack by Cisco and GCP is Istio, whose alpha release Google, IBM, and Lyft launched in May. An enabling technology for container-based systems, it is a way to combine micro-services that run in containers into applications without altering their code and to manage and secure them in a consistent manner.

Another part of the stack is Apigee, the API management platform Google acquired last year. This is key to unlocking the value of hybrid cloud. Through APIs, services running in Google’s cloud will be able to access and use data stored on legacy enterprise systems in company data centers.

Big QuestionsWe’re witnessing early stages of what Elliot described as a “massive workload migration decade,” and both technology vendors and their customers are going through the thought process necessary to build the enterprise technology platforms of the future. As enterprises go through the process, the vendors have to be prepared to help them migrate to those platforms.

There are tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars of “technical debt,” or investment in existing enterprise data centers out there. “There’s also CIOs recognizing that different workloads are going to be on different types of architectures,” Elliot said.

Helping CIOs get to a point where their teams are using modern application architectures while leveraging their existing tech investments is key. A partnership like Google and Cisco’s can be really interesting for large enterprise accounts, but it will depend on the way the partners will handle the integration.

Since the partnership revolves around open source technology, there’s also the question of how much the vendors expect to rely on the open source communities to enable this integration, and how much individual enterprise end users are willing to invest in open source development efforts themselves, he pointed out.

The fundamental question overall is how complete of a package enterprises can expect to see once the solution hits the market. What level of integration between Kubernetes, Istio, Apigee and their own systems should they expect, how much security will be baked in, and what level of support they will get?

We’ll start seeing answers to those questions next year, but they are questions all technology vendors who are hoping to survive in the enterprise market should be working to answer. “It’s going to be a multi-cloud world, and it’s going to be pretty complex,” Elliot said. “If you’re not in this game, making these kinds of announcements, you’re on the edge of a cliff.”

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To: FUBHO who wrote (1411)11/6/2017 11:47:42 AM
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Comparing Top Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Solutions: the 2017 Edition - Things are changing rapidly in the hyper-converged infrastructure space. Here’s what you need to know today.

Things are changing rapidly in the hyper-converged infrastructure space. Here’s what you need to know today.
I love working with converged (CI) and hyper-converged (HCI) infrastructure technologies. These types of data center systems have allowed administrators from all sorts of environments realize some big benefits when it comes to optimization and architecture.

First, it’s important to define and understand HCI and note that there are numerous similarities between HCI and CI environments. Both are deployed as blocks, and both converge critical resources to deliver higher levels of density. However, the biggest difference comes in how these environments are managed. In HCI, the management layer (storage for example) is controlled at the virtual layer. Specifically, HCI incorporates a virtual appliance that runs within the cluster. This virtual controller runs on each node within the cluster to ensure better failover capabilities, resiliency, and uptime.

Benefits of hyper-converged infrastructure include:

Integrated VDI, convergence, and hypervisor managementRapid-scale deployment of VMs and applicationsSmaller data center footprintGreater levels of application, desktop, and user densitiesDirect integration with the software layerCreation of hyper-scale capabilitiesLeveraging all-flash systemsIntegration with cloud systemsIncreased capabilities around resiliency, business continuity, and disaster recovery HCI is a quickly growing market. According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Converged Systems Tracker, worldwide converged systems vendor revenues increased 6.2 percent year over year to $3.15 billion during the second quarter of 2017. The market consumed 1.78 exabytes of new storage capacity during the quarter, which was up 5.6 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

"The converged systems market is benefiting from an expansion into new environments and a new set of customers," said Eric Sheppard, research director, Enterprise Storage & Converged Systems. "This expansion is driven by products that are offering new levels of automation, tighter integration between technologies, and, in many cases, software-defined solutions based on scale-out architectures."

What’s Changed?IDC’s numbers indicate that Dell EMC has taken the top spot when it comes to hyper-converged infrastructure. However, it needs to be noted that the Dell EMC XC appliances are powered by Nutanix software, which is arguably the engine that’s driving a lot of that growth. Also, let’s not forget that Nutanix sells its own hyper-converged infrastructure appliances too.

Here’s an overview of the top players in hyper-converged infrastructure and their solutions:

Cisco HyperFlexIn April of last year, I wrote a post about what HyperFlex was and wasn’t good at. Well, at version 2.5, I can honestly say that HyperFlex has come a long way. First of all, HyperFlex Connect, a standalone HTML5 interface for the management and orchestration of HyperFlex from any device, makes management way simpler. Connect acts as an extensible interface that is hypervisor agnostic and has built-in automation with RESTful API.

They also added higher-capacity all-flash nodes, which are now coupled with their 40-Gbps USC fabric. All of this translates to big performance enhancements, more density, better VDI multi-tenancy, and optimized resource controls. Another big add was native replication of clusters. This helps protect data and applications. HyperFlex now also includes data-at-rest security options using self-encrypting drives.

Finally, remember that CLiQr acquisition? We’re seeing even deeper integration with Cisco CloudCenter and HyperFlex. That being said, integration with existing Cisco systems has been made much easier as well. That is, working with existing UCS domains and incorporating HyperFlex has been greatly simplified. So, if you’re a Cisco shop that wants to support remote office or leverage Cisco’s hyper-converged infrastructure, HyperFlex is a great option!

HPE (SimpliVity)HPE has been in the CI space for quite some time. However, they became a real HCI player with the 2017 acquisition of SimpliVity. In its own space, SimpliVity was a solid product, going head-to-head with Nutanix. Starting out in 2009, they quickly gained more than a thousand partners with customers worldwide. They had some very cool innovation keys to success, which HPE is leveraging.

What is now called the “HPE” OmniStack Data Accelerator Card performs inline deduplication, compression, and data optimization across primary and backup storage repositories, offloading this processing so VMs suffer no performance penalty. As per HPE SimpliVity, the median data efficiency is rate 40:1.

From there, HPE SimpliVity Data Virtualization Platform operates as a virtual controller on vSphere ESXi and abstracts data from the underlying hardware. Designed for a bunch of use cases, the HPE SimpliVity 380 HCI architecture is a solid option for organizations looking to support remote office or new virtualization deployments.

Dell EMCWe’re seeing some real muscle-flexing from Dell EMC (and VMware). At the last VMworld, Dell EMC and VMware announced two joint solutions, VxRail 4.5 and VxRack. In its newest version, VxRail 4.5 includes automation and lifecycle management for VMware’s vSAN and vSphere. The really cool part here is that upgrading and patching software is now highly automated. This helps reduce configuration errors and allow admins to focus on more valuable operations. This level of automation is awesome for DevOps, higher levels of scale, and fast deployments.

Updates also include multi-node scaling, which automates the scaling of a single VxRail appliance to multi-node environments. Finally, you’ll see some cool updates around REST-based APIs for programmatic lifecycle management. You can now manage a single appliance or entire clusters.

I didn’t forget about VxRack, the beefier version of VxRail. At VMworld we saw improved capabilities around a self-contained system via integration with VMware Cloud Foundation for simplified management of VMware vSphere 6.5, vSAN 6.6, and the network virtualization product NSX 6.3.

Dell EMC
The other cool part here is the hybrid cloud option. You can now run Dell EMC’s Enterprise Hybrid Cloud (EHC) on top of VxRack. When it comes to Dell EMC, whether you’re a smaller shop or a large data center, there are options for use cases here. Plus, deep integration with your underlying VMware environment make, this tech a must when examining HCI.

NutanixI’d call Nutanix of the original companies behind the hyper-converged infrastructure revolution. And, they’re still here and making waves. The Acropolis Operating System (AOS), formerly known as the Nutanix Operating System, has continued to see updates and improvements. Their recent 5.1 release allows customers to add performance to their clusters simply by increasing their SSD tier for example. This is accomplished by adding an all-flash node to an existing hybrid cluster, and the new SSDs are seamlessly added to existing storage containers.

Furthermore, instead of doing forklift migrations from hybrid systems to all-flash systems, users can add all-flash nodes to existing clusters and retire their older hybrid gear.

In 5.1, we also saw capacity optimization improvements. According to Nutanix, the erasure coding algorithm is more intelligent in 5.1, where every time a node gets added new EC strips or existing EC strips on writes will automatically take advantage of the new nodes. This functionality improves capacity utilization across while still maintaining the same protection levels as the cluster grows and shrinks.

Another really cool function has been the further enhancement around containerization. In 5.0 we saw some cool support for things like Docker. In 5.1 we see even deeper integration with the Acropolis Container Services.

Another cool addition is general availability for support of XenServer. This helps further support workloads like XenApp, XenDesktop, and virtual NetScaler appliances.

Overall, Nutanix is an absolute leader in the hyper-converged infrastructure space. However, their strength isn’t just in the hardware. Their software architecture around AOS is truly impressive. Nutanix should be a consideration in almost any HCI scenario.

Scale ComputingStaring out in 2007, Scale Computing is one of the last standalone HCI vendors on the market. With thousands of customers and deployments, this is a mature solution offering serious benefits to the customer. The new HC3 architecture has big improvements around storage deduplication, multi-cluster remote management, disaster recovery capabilities, and even user management. Plus, HC3 allows you to deploy single appliances – instead of the previously required minimum of three. You’d still want a cluster for HA and primary production systems, but if you’re a smaller business and have no need for all that extra horsepower, the single appliance will work for you.

Scale has also done a solid job getting into the automation space. They’ve created an automated an intelligent mechanism to allocate storage across the tiers. According to the company, this tuning capacity allows you to increase the allocation of flash for workloads that have higher I/O requirements while decreasing the allocation for virtual disks and workloads that have minimal I/O needs. I’ve always been a fan of Scale Computing. If you’re looking to support smaller offices and are on a budget (but still want awesome tech), look to Scale as a solid option.

Scale Computing
Let’s be clear -- I know this isn’t the full list of hyper-converged infrastructure vendors. Plus, there are going to be more hardware vendors supporting CI using software (like Pivot3 or Nutanix OEM) to deliver HCI solutions. Lenovo is a great example of that. Furthermore, we’re seeing a broadening market around whitebox integration with HCI software options. Whichever way you approach it, the HCI landscape continues to change and evolve.

Goodbye Atlantis Computing; Hello Hive-IOAtlantis computing has been in the market for a long time. If you’ve worked with virtualization technologies (XenAppp and XenDesktop in particular) you’ll know about Atlantis. They came to market with their ILIO products and then further impacted the industry with USX. Then, they released their Hyperscale HCI appliance and attempted to enter a very volatile market. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Its concepts behind hyper-scale were actually really awesome, but there were challenges with the hardware, where it could be deployed, and issues with the deployment itself.

And so, Atlantis Computing’s assets were sold to Hive-IO, a young software-defined focused organization. According to Hive-IO, they’ll continue to support all of Atlantis products and work to retain its essence and technology to help expand Hive-IO's storage offering to include intelligent software-defined solutions. The focus will revolve around an area which both Hive-IO and Atlantis know very well: VDI.

Final ThoughtsOver the past few quarters, I can honestly say that CI and HCI have dominated a lot of the projects we’ve been working on. We’ve seen use cases in healthcare, government, pharma, education, manufacturing, and other verticals. Furthermore, we’re seeing growth in how HCI is being deployed within remote and branch locations.

For HCI to be successful, make sure you know your use case and where you’re deploying the environment. Do your best to reduce complexity and fragmentation by leveraging hyper-converged infrastructure systems that easily integrate with existing data center and virtualization components. Finally, I always recommend testing these systems out. Deploying HCI in parallel with your existing environment can help you better understand utilization, best practices, and where the design can positively impact your specific requirements.

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