Cloud News

Reliam Adds G2 Tech Group to Bolster AWS Managed Services Expertise and Provide Customers with Coast-to-Coast Geographic Coverage

Reliam LLC (Reliam), a consulting and managed services provider for public cloud platforms, and Great Hill Partners, the Boston-headquartered private equity firm focused on investments in high growth, mid-market technology companies, today announced that Reliam has incorporated Boston-based G2 Tech Group, an Advanced AWS Consulting Partner.

Like Reliam, G2 Tech Group is acutely focused on helping businesses automate, optimize, and fully leverage their public cloud infrastructure.

Following Reliam’s recent merger with Los Angeles-based AWS consulting and managed services provider Stratalux, the three companies now form a single business with considerable breadth and depth across AWS technical and strategic proficiencies – as well as a significantly expanded geographical footprint.

The combined organization has 80 AWS certifications among its cloud operations professionals and solutions architects, ready to serve customers’ unique AWS use cases and requirements.

As an Advanced AWS Consulting Partner, G2 Tech Group brings particular acumen around AWS-recognized DevOps, Healthcare, and Life Sciences competencies. The domain expertise complements that of Reliam and Stratalux, which have worked most often with businesses across media and entertainment, mobile gaming, digital media, marketing, ecommerce, and Software-as-a-Service verticals.

Leveraging this expanded proficiency and shared resources enables the unified organization to more efficiently and effectively provide services around AWS strategic consulting, migrations, cloud architecture, solution design, security and governance, cost optimization, application performance management, and 24/7 managed services and support.

DevOps implementation is also a particularly important component to the deal, with G2 bringing extensive knowledge and continued support of Boston’s DevOps and AWS communities (as seen through initiatives like its DevOps Apprentice Program).

The transaction merging G2 Tech Group into Reliam is funded by Great Hill Partners, which made up to $75M available for such acquisitions through a deal with Reliam in November 2017.

While the combined company will continue to examine further acquisition opportunities that offer strategic, geographic, technical, and cultural fits for the business, it will remain selective in these pursuits while concentrating on brand unification and customer growth.

Reliam, Stratalux, and G2 Tech Group will continue operating under their current names in the near term. A new brand identity is expected to be unveiled later in 2018.

“In G2 Tech Group, we saw a compelling opportunity to join forces with one of the most respected AWS partners in the Northeast, and a cloud services provider with AWS-recognized expertise in areas complementary to our own,” said Simon Anderson, CEO, Reliam. “Additionally, we were drawn to G2 as an exceptionally strong cultural match, from its tremendous reputation for customer engagement and success, to the way it has closely aligned itself with AWS leadership. I couldn’t be more excited about the company we’re now building together through Reliam, Stratalux, and G2.”

“From the earliest discussions with the leaders of Reliam and Stratalux, it quickly became apparent just how similar each of our visions were for building a blended managed cloud services business, and what that would look like,” said Glenn Grant, Founder and CEO, G2 Tech Group. “Combining our organizations is a choice that each of us made based on the clear cultural fit, technical synergies, and shared vision that joining forces makes us all stronger than the sum of our parts – and we think customers will agree.”

“Reliam, Stratalux, and G2 Tech Group are a natural combination with a proven, successful pedigree that enables the organization to hit the ground running as a unified public cloud services provider with a national presence,” said Drew Loucks, Principal, Great Hill Partners. “As demand for managed cloud services continues its rapid growth, we are very confident that this well-appointed company will now be able to help many more businesses optimize their public cloud performance while lowering associated costs.”

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Developers can now undo database clusters on Amazon Aurora with new backtrack feature

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has added a new ‘undo’ feature to its Aurora database engine. Called Backtrack for Amazon Aurora, the feature will allow users to quickly move an Aurora database to a prior point in time without having to restore data from a backup.

On several occasions, the developers compose the query and let it run to the production database. But later realize that they forgot to add some clauses to it, or dropped the wrong table, or made any other mistake.

The backtrack option will help the developers in such scenarios, by allowing them to pause the application and select the point in time they want to go back to. AWS said it will allow users to retain the log information going back in time up to 72 hours.

When a backtrack will be initiated, Aurora will pause the database, close the open connections, and drop the uncommitted writes. It will then roll back database to time before the error occurred.

Once the backtrack process completes, users can resume the application and proceed as if nothing really had gone wrong. Furthermore, if the users realize that they have gone back a bit too far with the process, then they can backtrack to a later time.

“I’m sure you can think of some creative and non-obvious use cases for this cool new feature. For example, you could use it to restore a test database after running a test that makes changes to the database. You can initiate the restoration from the API or the CLI, making it easy to integrate into your existing test framework,” wrote Jeff Barr, AWS Chief Evangelist, in a blog post.

Aurora is based on distributed and log-structured storage system, hence a new log record is generated every time a change is made to database. The log record is then identified by a log sequence number (LSN). When the backtrack feature is enabled, a first-in, first-out (FIFO) buffer in the cluster for storage of LSNs is provisioned. It enables quick access and recovery times measured in seconds.

Barr further wrote that backtrack feature will be applicable to newly created MySQL-compatible Aurora database clusters and to MySQL-compatible clusters that have been restored from a backup. The backtrack cannot be enabled for a running cluster.

Also read: AWS updates Amazon S3 to reduce costs and improve performance

Backtrack feature for Aurora is now available in all AWS regions where Amazon Aurora runs.

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Google launches Android Things operating system for IoT devices

Google announced the general release of Android Things (1.0), a managed operating system that enables users to build and maintain internet of things (IoT) devices at scale.

Using the new operating system, the developers can build smart and connected devices for multiple purposes like consumer, retail and industrial applications. They can use the existing Android development tools, APIs and resources to develop the new apps for devices.

Android Things is an embedded operating system which supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy and the Weave protocol, allowing multiple ways of communication between devices. It will allow developers to leverage Google’s Android partner ecosystem, machine learning capabilities, and the Google Assistant.

Furthermore, the Android Things also offers software development kits (SDKs), which will help developers to build an array of IoT devices. Google said that it is partnering with hardware manufacturers to provide more SDKs.

There is an Android Things Console, using which the developers can download and install the latest system images, manage and share OEM application across products and owners, monitor informative analytics, and push over-the-air updates.

In December 2016, it was announced as a developer preview, and since then over 10,000 developers have provided feedback about it. Google said that more than 100,000 SDKs have been downloaded in last 18 months.

In the 1.0 release, Google has added support for two new System-on-Modules (SoMs) for Android Things. These SoMs are based on NXP i.MX8M, Qualcomm SDA212, Qualcomm SDA624, and MediaTek MT8516 hardware platforms.

Android Things will continue to support the existing Raspberry Pi 3 Model B and NXP i.MX7D devices.

Google is already leading the smartphone market with Android OS. The aim of Google behind the launch of the new project is to establish its presence in the emerging IoT devices market.

To bring the Android Things products to market, Google has been working closely with LG, Lenovo, and JBL.

Also read: Google open sources Asylo framework for confidential computing

Announced at the annual I/O developer conference, Android Things 1.0 is available for free for non-commercial users, allowing management of up to 100 devices using the Android Things Console. The users who need to manage more than 100 devices can go for commercial subscriptions.

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Only 40% companies will meet GDPR compliance deadline: 2018 GDPR Compliance Report

The deadline for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance is just three weeks away, and around 60% of the companies are likely to miss the deadline, as per the 2018 GDPR Compliance Report by Crowd Research Partners.

GDPR is a kind of regulation that will require companies to protect the information and data of EU subjects and those who are dealing in any goods or services with the EU citizens. First approved and adopted by the parliament of EU in April 2016, it will generally come into action from 25th May 2018.

With this, the companies that are falling under European Union countries will need to comply with strict rules revolving around collection and usage of customer data, enforceable by the new GDPR law.

Here, the companies will need to implement strict data protection policies to safeguard the user data, like IP information, cookies, name, contact or address and ensure that it is not publicly available.

  • Only 40% companies will be GDPR compliant by deadline

In last year’s survey, it was found that only 5% companies were in full compliance for GDPR. The number hasn’t improved much till then, with only 7% companies indicated compliance readiness in the latest GDPR compliance survey.

According to the report, 33% of the companies expected to meet all the compliance requirements before the deadline.

32% companies had started the compliance process but were not sure about meeting the deadline. Whereas, 28% had plans but hadn’t made any progress.

GDPR compliance prepared

  • Half of the companies quite familiar with GDPR

50% of the companies had either deep knowledge or were quite familiar with GDPR regulation. Whereas, one quarter of the companies knew some details about GDPR.

What’s shocking is that despite the publicity surrounding GDPR, 25% of the companies had either very limited knowledge or no knowledge at all.

GDPR compliance familiarity

  • Majority of companies consider GDPR compliance a priority

Most of the companies (80%) considered GDPR compliance a top priority, with 34% counting it among top three priorities, and 46% counting it among a number of priorities.

Whereas, 20% of the companies were not even counting GDPR compliance a priority.

GDPR compliance priority

  • Top GDPR Compliance challenges

The lack of expert staff (43%) and lack of budget (40%) were the primary challenges for companies to become GDPR compliant, revealed the survey.

The other significant challenges for GDPR compliance were limited understanding of regulations (31%), lack of necessary technology (23%), and lack of management support (20%).

GDPR compliance challenges

  • GDPR compliance efforts will increase data governance budget

56% of the companies expected rise in their data governance budget to tackle the GDPR compliance challenges. 39% companies believed that it would neither increase nor decrease their budget, while only 5% expected a decline.

  • Majority of companies expect to make minor changes in security practices

The survey respondents cited cybercriminals (60%) and accidental loss by employees (57%) as the biggest threat to their organization’s data.

To become GDPR compliant, 28% of the companies said that they would need to make major changes to their security practices and systems.

A majority of companies (56%) expected minor changes, whereas 16% expected no change at all.

GDPR compliance changes

  • Majority of companies to spend at least 500 staff hours this year on GDPR efforts

Around 77% of the companies said that they would need to spend at least 500 staff hours this year on GDPR compliance.

Whereas, 23% expected to spend more than 1000 hours this year on the GDPR compliance efforts.

GDPR compliance time in efforts

  • 63% companies will take more than two months (from survey date) to become GDPR compliant

Majority of companies (63%) said that they would need more than two months from the survey date, to become GDPR compliant. 37% expected to spend at least two months more, whereas 14% will need more than 48 months.

Also read: Microsoft, Facebook, and other tech companies sign cybersecurity accord to not assist government in cyberattacks

For the comprehensive report, the IT, cybersecurity and compliance professionals in 400,000-member Information Security Community on LinkedIn were surveyed.

Images source: 2018 GDPR Compliance Report 

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25% of businesses had their data stolen from public cloud: McAfee Study

One-in-four businesses experienced data theft from a public cloud, and one-in-five businesses experienced an advanced attack against their public cloud infrastructure, as per a report released by the cybersecurity firm – McAfee.

The report, “Navigating a Cloudy Sky”, is based on the sampling of 1400 IT personnel, and was released at the RSA Conference in San Francisco.

The report outlined the current cloud adoption state, concerns with the public and private cloud services, security implications in the cloud and the impact of unmanaged cloud usage.

It was found that inadequate visibility and control were the greatest challenges to cloud adoption in any organization. However, the business benefits of cloud and availability of modern cloud security tools outweighed any security concerns, helping it move ahead.

“Despite the clear prevalence of security incidents occurring in the cloud, enterprise cloud adoption is pressing on,” said Rajiv Gupta, senior vice president of the cloud security business unit at McAfee. “By implementing security measures that allow organizations to regain visibility and control of their data in the cloud, businesses can leverage the cloud to accelerate their business and improve the security of their data.”

Other findings of the report have been summarized here:

  • Rise in cloud adoption

McAfee found that the number of businesses who used public, private and hybrid cloud had increased from 93% to 97% in the last one year. The rise in cloud adoption was significant at the hybrid cloud front.

Of the businesses who used any kind of cloud services, 88% of them stored sensitive data in the public cloud. 69% of the businesses trusted public cloud to keep their data safe. Whereas, 16% stated that they stored no sensitive data in the cloud.

61% of the businesses said that the most common sensitive data stored on the cloud was the personal information of their customers. 40% stored internal documentation, payment card details, personal staff information, and government identification data. Whereas, around 30% stored intellectual property, healthcare records, competitive intelligence and network pass cards in the cloud.

  • Malware attacks have increased

The highlight of the survey report was that one in every four businesses who used IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS cloud service had their data stolen, and one in five had experienced an advanced attack against the public cloud infrastructure.

Furthermore, the malware attacks against the cloud applications rose from 52% to 56% over the course of one year. 25% of the businesses said that the malware was injected to the cloud by phishing.

  • Decline in ‘shortage of cybersecurity skills’

The positives from the survey were that the ‘shortage of cybersecurity skills’ and its impact on the cloud adoption in the organizations had decreased.

The number of organizations who reported ‘no skills shortage’ increased from 15% to 24% in one year.

Of the organizations who reported ‘skills shortage’, only 40% reduced the rate of cloud adoption, compared to 49% last year.

  • GDPR to fuel cloud adoption

With General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming in action next month, the service providers will have to ramp up their compliance efforts. With the better compliance and security in the cloud, the businesses will be more confident about cloud adoption.

Only less than 10% businesses said that they might decrease their cloud investment because of GDPR.

Key takeaways – recommended security practices

  • Integration of development DevOps and DevSecOps within the business environments can improve the quality of coding and reduce the vulnerabilities.
  • Automation that brings together the human advantages and machine advantages are critical for modern IT operations. The use of tools like Chef and Puppet can be useful on this front.
  • The use of a unified management platform across multiple clouds, rather than multiple management tools for multiple cloud, can reduce the costs and increase the security.

Also read: McAfee Cloud Workload Security with container support to aid enterprises accelerate cloud business with compliance and security

Cloud Cloud News News

Google brings advanced Stackdriver features to non-premium users 

Google is bringing advanced functionalities and simplified pricing model to its Stackdriver— the monitoring, logging and diagnostic solution for applications that run on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Stackdriver Monitoring enables organizations to visualize the performance, uptime, and overall health of the cloud applications, by collecting metrics and metadata from GCP and AWS. It automatically discovers and monitors the resources from both the clouds.

At present, there are several monitoring features in Stackdriver which are available to premium-tier users only. These features include alerting and notification options for monitoring, and creating monitoring dashboards and alerting policies. From 30th June 2018, these advanced functionalities will be available to the users without premium pricing.

Furthermore, Google has simplified the pricing model for Stackdriver Monitoring and Stackdriver Logging services. With the new pay-as-you-go pricing model, organizations will need to pay only for the data they send for monitoring, instead of the number of resources in projects.

The free-trial option for GCP metrics will be replaced by permanent free allocation. Customers can use all GCP metrics and first 150 MB of non-GCP metrics per month for free.

Google has reduced pricing for monitoring non-GCP metrics by 80%. The non-GCP metrics include agent metrics, AWS metrics, log-based metrics and custom metrics. The pricing has been dropped from $0.258 to $0.061 per MB.

Stackdriver Logging enables organizations to store, search, analyze and alert on log data and events form GCP and AWS. It is a managed and scalable solution to ingest data from applications and systems from Virtual Machines.

Google increased retention of Stackdriver logs from seven days to three days for all the users. The Stackdriver Logging users will get 50 GB free allocation of ingested logs every month. In case of using logs over the free limit, Google will charge $0.50 per GB.

Also read: Acronis bolsters its leadership position in cloud data protection with Google Cloud partnership

The new exclusion filters option will help users to optimize the costs by applying filters for services they want to use. The new pricing models for Monitoring and Logging will be independent, and will be applicable from June 2018.

Cloud Cloud News Datacenter

Microsoft updates Microsoft 365 to meet GDPR compliance 

Microsoft announced a number of new information protection capabilities and updates to its Microsoft 365, in response to GDPR which will come into effect after 25th May.

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is aimed at protecting and empowering the data privacy of all the citizens of Europe, as well as reshaping the way organizations in Europe approach data privacy. The organizations found to be non-compliant after May 25th may face heavy fines.

It is the responsibility of an organization to meet all regulatory requirements when the data is on-premises. However, when the data is moved to cloud, it becomes the responsibility of Cloud Service Provider as well.

The updates in Microsoft 365 include general availability of Compliance Manager for Azure, Dynamics 365, and Office 365 Business and Enterprise subscribers. Compliance Manager, available for Preview since November 2017, enables organizations to perform on-going risk assessments, and makes it transparent to customers how Microsoft protects their data.

Compliance Manager includes Compliance Score feature, which allows organizations to gain visibility into compliance stature of organization with a risk-based score reference. It is available for Office 365 users.

Microsoft also announced general availability of Azure Information Protection scanner, which enables users to automatically discover, classify, label, and protect documents in on-premises repositories like File servers and on-premises SharePoint servers.

The new intelligent compliance solutions in Microsoft 365 will help organizations to protect sensitive data, support data protection in apps and across all cloud services. Organizations can use it to scan hybrid and on-premises repositories by periodically configuring it.

Additionally, Microsoft is previewing Consistent labeling schema experience, which will be used to eliminate the need to create labels in two different places across information protection solutions in Microsoft 365.

Also read: Microsoft working on adding support for Java and Python to its Bot framework

Microsoft said that its new solutions will be helpful in efficiently managing compliance risks and leverage the cloud to identify, protect and monitor sensitive data to support GDPR compliance.

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World Cloud Summit 2017 highlights: cloud paving way for datacenter transformation

World Cloud Summit – one of the most awaited industry events, which was hosted virtually this year, came to end on 6th December 2017. The two-day event hosted online, attracted over 500 attendees.

The event brought the thought leaders from all around the world to discuss about cloud, hosting, datacenter, AI and IoT.

The event started with a keynote session by Guruprit Ahuja, CEO and Co-founder – RackNap, who talked about building an enterprise cloud strategy aligning with industry trends.

He discussed about the transformation of the IT industry due to cloud and how this cloud shift will reshape IT industry in the coming years. He considered Microsoft, Google and AWS as the major trendsetters, and said that those who successfully attain this transformation will survive while the rest stand the risk of extinction.

Later, Pradeep Jhunjhunwala, Technology Strategist – Microsoft, talked about Datacenter Migration to cloud where he explained ways of workload and application migration to Azure. He said that Microsoft Azure is a complete cloud solution with hybrid capabilities and also discussed about the significance of Azure Stack.

Jan Loeffler, CTO – Plesk, shared his views on how service providers can offer a ready to code and secure platform to their end customers with Plesk Onyx.

The event also saw Sabarinathan Sampath, Senior Vice President – RackNap, discuss the importance of automation in service delivery in his session Simplifying Management and Delivery of Cloud Services.

The list of attendees included cloud providers, IaaS providers, hosters, MSPs, datacenter providers, system integrators and traditional IT service providers.

Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Tata Communications, RackNap, Plesk and ZNetLive stood as the event partners.

The organizers also announced World Cloud Summit, 2018 which will be a physical event to be held in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

Cloud News

Cisco launches cloud-based database management-as-a-service for its UCS and HyperFlex customers 

Cisco recently announced the launch of its cloud – based management platform – Cisco Intersight, for its UCS (Unified Computing System) and HyperFlex Systems.

With this, the company aims to present new ways of systems management.

Cisco Intersight will solve the challenges that customers face due to more and more distributed applications and data; mobility and IoT demanding computing beyond data center capabilities; and the fact that the traditional IT models to manage systems are insufficient to meet the complexities, scale and velocity demanded by the modern IT.

With decreasing server sales growth, the move seems to be an effort by the company to make its hyper-converged infrastructure offerings – UCS and Hyperflex, more attractive by simplifying its data center management.

As per a statement given by Todd Brannon, Director of Product marketing, Cisco, to a news portal, the new datacenter management software-as-a-service is a part of company’s 18 months long multi-year project called Starship, under which the company plans to migrate its current system management software and its customers to a cloud type data management software.

Intersight will remove the necessity to install, monitor or control Cisco’s datacenter software separately. The cloud-based software will give a single view for managing and handling all the technical aspects of operations related to the datacenter.

The company also aims to evolve the new platform and improve its capability to solve complexities. For this, it plans to add the power of AI and machine learning to the platform, through which it will collect customers’ data to understand how to diagnose problems automatically without any manual intervention.

By moving management software to the cloud, we relieve our customers of the burden of maintaining systems management software and hardware. It’s important to note that this approach can take the form of a public (Cisco managed) cloud service and also a private (customer-hosted) cloud model,” per the company blog.

The company believes that a management cloud will promote faster delivery of new services and functionalities, easy extensibility, compliance assurance due to consistent deployment and integration with Cisco TAC (Technical Assistance center).

Cisco’s move to reposition its data center software to a SaaS based model will certainly be advantageous for the company.

Cisco will be talking more about Intersight by streaming live webinar on September 26, 2017 at 10:00am (Pacific time) and 1:00pm (Eastern Time) on TechWiseTV.

Its existing customers can join the technical preview to know more about the product.

Cloud News

Dell EMC ties up with IBM, VMware for its mid-market customers

At VMworld Europe 2017, IBM and Dell EMC announced a strategic partnership to enable Dell’s commercial customers extend their VMware environments- on-premises and public cloud workloads, to the IBM Cloud with ease. This will help them create new business opportunities with access to IBM’s cloud-native services including cognitive and analytics.

This agreement aims at extension of IBM cloud reach for VMware solutions.

In a bid to help its customers quickly and embrace their digital transformations successfully, Dell EMC will offer its customers’ VMware vCenter Server on the IBM Cloud. This in turn will help them in rapid extension of on-premises data center capacity into the public cloud and realize the benefits of investments done in VMware tooling and scripts, and training.

This will provide VMware users a familiar, predictable and valuable experience and help them drive their company growth.

As a part of the Barcelona agreement, customers will not only migrate enterprise applications to the IBM-hosted environment but also maintain the same level of control and visibility as if it were part of their own data center.

Customers can choose to run VMware solutions on dedicated bare metal servers, encrypt data at rest on attached storage and connect on-premises environments to IBM’s global network of nearly 60 cloud data centers in 19 countries.

Ajay Patel, senior vice president and general manager, cloud provider software business unit, VMware said, “Through the resale of IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions, Dell EMC can offer their commercial customers a hybrid cloud choice with VMware offerings ‘as-a-Service’ as they make the cloud transition. VMware Cloud Infrastructure enables customers to run, manage, connect and secure their applications across common operating environment, empowering them with a new level of IT agility and better economics.”

Companies in every industry need fast and easy ways to deploy and move workloads to the cloud while not compromising security,” said Faiyaz Shahpurwala, general manager, IBM Cloud.

He further added,“This agreement makes it easier than ever for Dell’s thriving channel of commercial customers to access VMware’s capabilities on IBM Cloud. Now, these organizations can rapidly deploy and scale pre-configured solutions that optimize their existing IT investments, while using the public cloud to extract new insights and value.”

Barcelona announcement, is also an extension of the existing partnership of IBM with VMware, inked in 2016, with a vision to  help enterprise customers embrace the hybrid cloud, with more ease and speed . Also, to enable customers secure and efficient deployment of their software-defined solutions without having to retool operations, re-design security policies and re-architect applications.

In Q4 2017, Dell EMC will begin reselling VMware solutions on IBM Cloud to its commercial customers.

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