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Microsoft Azure Stack TP3 – leading the way to hybrid cloud adoption

Microsoft, the leading provider of legacy hardware and software products, cloud-based software and productivity solutions has always managed to stay ahead in terms of new technological developments and software inventions.

Its public cloud platform- Azure is growing exponentially, giving a tough competition to its market contemporaries – AWS and Google. While Azure was primarily focused towards the public cloud, Microsoft expanded its horizons to cover the hybrid cloud opportunity with Azure Stack.

Hybrid cloud is rising as a popular IT service adoption model with over 79.7% of large organizations already having a hybrid cloud strategy in place, against 51.4% who are using both public and private cloud, as per an IDC study commissioned by Dell EMC. With hybrid cloud, users get the benefits of both private and public cloud environments, while getting the freedom to operate in a work environment of their choice.

Azure Stack acts as a subset of its public cloud model – Azure. With it, Microsoft aims to provide the benefits of Azure public cloud services within the enterprise datacenters. The applications and VMs use the same Azure Resource Manager on Azure Stack and Azure, thus users can easily migrate between the two services.

Azure Stack promises consistent application development, purpose-built integrated systems and on-premise availability. Developers can take advantage of its PaaS services like back-ends tools, storage and API functions.

Microsoft recently launched the latest Technical Preview 3 (TP3) downloadable update for Azure Stack. The update includes new features that will enable modern application capabilities and other functionalities related to infrastructure and security. Some of the important features include, but are not limited to:

  • Easy deployment with ADFS for disconnected scenarios.
  • Enhanced infrastructure management capabilities like advanced alerting.
  • Ability to use Azure VM scale set for scale out workloads.
  • Ability to collect content from Azure marketplace in Stack.
  • Ability to create templates and deploy them with temp disks that are consistent with Azure.

Azure Stack integrated systems will be available for order from mid of the CY17 and TP3 is going to be up for final technical preview before its GA.

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Google focuses on building an AI-first world with its new Cloud TPUs

Artificial Intelligence is continuously leading the way among the span of technologies in bringing out new software designs and capabilities. Google’s new AI chip is the latest one to get added to this.

At company’s annual developer conference held recently, CEO Sundar Pichai announced a new AI chip that can be a technological break-through in the world of machine learning and automation.

With this, Google signaled the increasing role of AI in software and hardware development.

The chips known as Cloud Tensor Processing unit (TPU) are designed to speed-up the machine learning operations and are also an upgrade from the first generation of chips Google announced at its last year’s I/O meet.

The second-generation chips can deliver nearly 180 teraflops of performance which is much higher as compared to its first-generation which could only handle inferences. The new chips can be used to train machine learning models. Training is an important part as it would help the machine learning program to identify and differentiate between images, data or other things.

Pichai also went forward announcing the creation of machine-learning supercomputers which will be based on Cloud TPUs to be used along with high-speed data connections. He said, “We are building what we think of as AI-first data centers Cloud TPUs are optimized for both training and inference. This lays the foundation for significant progress (in AI).”

Google emphasized on the application of machine learning and AI models to bring better work and performance oriented results. is also the result of collective efforts towards building an AI first world.

However, Google did not clearly say anything about introducing the chip in the market, rather said that it will let companies rent access to the chip via its (Google’s) cloud computing service.

News Technology

The ransomware attack continues, affecting systems worldwide

The ransomware attack that hit the world computers on Friday affecting a lot of NHS trusts, is attracting a lot of concern from security agencies, government and IT companies, majorly because of the big data that they all deal with.

The malware operator called WannaCry or WanaCrypt 2.0 used an exploit that was leaked by a group called “ShadowBrokers” to run the malware into the computer systems of major hospitals, telecommunications, and courier services.

The malware uses strong asymmetric encryption via RSA 2048-bit cipher to lock files and then demands ransom in lieu of decrypting it. One of the identified ways through which the malware is spreading on unaware PCs is – email spams.

The attack was apparently brought to a halt by a researcher at MalwareTech – although he did not realize it at that time. The security researcher to track the traffic coming from the domain registered it which killed the ransomware. Though it could not save the already affected computers but proved to be a good way of discontinuing the spread.

What began with a security leak from the National Security Agency has till now affected more than 150 countries and the terror is not over yet.

Many reports suggest that the government data on legacy platforms that are more vulnerable to hacking attempts can be the ideal entry gateway for such attacks.

The latest virus is using a flaw in Microsoft Windows that was identified and stolen from the US intelligence. Microsoft recently launched its security patches in March and the users who upgraded the software with latest patches were saved from the attack.

Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer at Microsoft, in a blog, said, “The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call. They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world.

The latest reports identify new ransomware attacks as the week opens today after weekend including 29,000 infections in China, 2000 infected PCs in Japan and issuing of red-alerts in countries like India.

Innovation News Technology

Microsoft shifts it focus from Mobile-first Cloud-first world towards the Intelligent Cloud

Microsoft at its build 2017 conference revealed its vision of the future workplace that will run with the power of Artificial Intelligence, IoT and robotics.

Microsoft’s keynotes focused on server less and edge computing models that will bring new capabilities in almost every industry from healthcare to manufacturing.

CEO Satya Nadella spearheaded several announcements keeping in mind the developer community. He also went ahead advising developers to make good use of technology to help society advance.

He said, “We should empower people with technology – inclusive design can be an instrument for inclusive growth.” He also added, warning the developers to be more responsible, “It is up to us to take responsibility for the algorithms we create.

He considers IoT as the main data driver that needs to be analytically used for extracting maximum benefits.

The platform shift is all about data. When you have, an autonomous car generating 100GB of data at the edge, the AI will need to be more distributed. People will do training in the cloud and deploy on the edge – you need a new set of abstractions to span both the edge and the cloud,” he said.

Microsoft always emphasized on a cloud-first, mobile-first world, but with this event, it shifts its focus towards cognitive solutions and AI. Developers will get access to four new cognitive services apart from the 25 existing ones, of which three will be user customizable.

We are moving from mobile first, cloud first to a world made from an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge.” said Nadella.

Thus, the move towards intelligent cloud will be the new mantra at Microsoft.

The session also talked about the use of edge computing with Microsoft unveiling the Azure IoT Edge which is a Windows and Linux cross-platform and can run on devices smaller than Raspberry PI.

Nadella talked about the how AI could be used to identify objects and people and bring more automation in the future workplace. Their demo involving a heart patient walking around with sensors attached signified the level of AI application in future. The sensors were capable enough to send notification to the nurse if the patient felt uneasy at any point of time.

Though the keynotes seem to be promising, but their application would certainly include a lot of responsibility on the part of developers.

Cloud News Technology

Office 365 plays pivotal role in Microsoft’s growth and presents opportunities for MSPs

As per 451 Research’s Hosting and Cloud Study 2017, there has been an increase in the number of hosted application services used by the organizations. Last year, nearly 55% organizations used email, collaboration and productivity apps for increasing business productivity. With digital transformation, hosted application services like file storage, database and warehousing, CRM and others are witnessing an increased usage.

The need for collaborative communication and emailing solutions like Office 365 is also rising. As per the data released by the Microsoft, there are over 70M plus Office 365 commercial active users. Customers want more than just an emailing solution and thus, Office 365 is witnessing a rapid rise and is playing a pivotal role in Microsoft’s growth.

As per Microsoft news on its third quarter results, its revenue in productivity and Business Processes was $8.0 billion that increased 22% (up 23% in constant currency), with the following business highlights:

  • Office commercial products and cloud services revenue increased 7% (up 8% in constant currency) driven by Office 365 commercial revenue growth of 45% (up 45% in constant currency).
  • Office consumer products and cloud services revenue increased 15% (up 14% in constant currency) and Office 365 consumer subscribers increased to 26.2 million.

Our results this quarter reflect the trust customers are placing in the Microsoft Cloud,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “From large multi-nationals to small and medium businesses to non-profits all over the world, organizations are using Microsoft’s cloud platforms to power their digital transformation.

Office 365 automatic updates, improved user-adaptability, security and newly added features like Teams and Flow has resulted it in being favoured by SMBs and corporate houses alike.

Increasing demand for Office 365 and migration of email systems is a rising opportunity for service providers as well. As per 451 Research, of all SMBs surveyed, 83% have yet to switch to Office 365.

Migration is not a simple step and includes many important stages from preparation of user accounts, directory synchronization, mailbox data migration to cutover till clean up and process completion that needs help of a managed service provider.

Acquisition Cloud Hosting News Technology

IBM acquires Private cloud and hosting business of Verizon

Verizon, through an official statement, announced the decision to sell its private cloud services and hosting business to IBM.

With the new development, it seems like Verizon’s cloud services and hosting businesses have come to an end. Verizon entered the cloud market back in 2011 when it acquired Terremark, preparing a strong foundation for its private cloud business.

Cloud market is witnessing a fierce competition between major players like Amazon, Google and Microsoft who have already reserved a place for themselves. Verizon also sold its public cloud services last year and with this recent move it appears like it was not able to set a higher scale for its cloud service and now might come up with new business strategies all-together.

George Fischer, SVP and Group President at VES (Verizon Enterprise Solutions) through the official statement, pointed towards various “strategic initiatives” that both Verizon and IBM together aim to work upon with this agreement.

He said, “It is the latest development in an ongoing IT strategy aimed at allowing us to focus on helping our customers securely and reliably connect to their cloud resources and utilize cloud-enabled applications.”

He further added, “Our goal is to become one of the world’s leading managed services providers enabled by an ecosystem of best-in-class technology solutions from Verizon and a network of other leading providers.”

IBM, on the other side, has been performing seemingly well, especially in the cloud services. Though its other legacy business is seeing a downfall, its cloud service department is faring well. Here, by purchasing private cloud and hosting business of Verizon, it further strengthens its cloud service portfolio.

The acquisition is expected to close by the end of this year.

Verizon had recently closed a deal with Equinix, in which it sold 29 of its datacenter to the latter.

Cloud Datacenter News Technology

Cloud IaaS to exceed traditional data center outsourcing spend in 2017

Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service will see new highs this year exceeding traditional datacenter outsourcing spend. As per a Gartner report, traditional datacenter spend in India is predicted to reach $559 million while Cloud IaaS spending will sum around $677 million, in 2017.

Cloud IaaS services represent a cost effective and optimized model of managing infrastructural needs of the organizations and act as the reason why most of them go for these integrated systems.

Talking about the trend, Gartner Research Analyst – DD Mishra said, “As the demand for agility and flexibility grows, organizations will shift toward more industrialized, less-tailored options. Organizations that adopt hybrid infrastructure will optimize costs and increase efficiency. However, it increases the complexity of selecting the right toolset to deliver end-to-end services in a multisourced environment.”

Gartner also predicts that by 2020, hybrid infrastructure management capabilities will be high in demand with over 90 percent of organizations opting for it.

By 2021, the infrastructure utility services (IUS) and the data center outsourcing (DCO) market will account for 22 percent of the predicted $3.8 billion data center service market (DCS). Earlier, in 2016, DCO/IUS together contributed 36.5 percent of the total $1.65 billion DCS market per the report.

With this, in India, the cloud IaaS market is expected to surpass $2.1 billion in respect to end-user spending by 2021, which is approximately three times that of the traditional DCO services.

The end-user traditional DCO spending is expected to reach $693 million in 2021, that will be more than half of the overall DCS spending of $3.8 billion approximately, as per Gartner.

This means that by 2021 traditional data center services will coexist with a minority share alongside the industrialized and digitalized services.” added DD Mishra.

With digital transformation being in full swing, the IaaS market will evolve dynamically and service providers are expected to get new opportunities beyond infrastructure.

News Technology

Bitcoin records high with rising demand from Japan

Bitcoin price index went up high on Monday, with a 5.5 percent surge and touched a record of $1,422.22 and closed near $1,415 on Monday, as per CoinDesk.

CoinDesk analyst – Alex Sunnarborg, reported a rise in global trading volume majorly from Japan and its bitFlyer bitcoin exchange.

Bitcoin is a digital currency which is used for purchasing goods or services through online trading using any wallet software or an online payment service.

It is the medium through which traders buy digital technologies and with a rise in interest in cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, bitcoin is experiencing more demand.

Spurred by increasing global trading activity, the digital currency is adding more numbers in the market.

Brian Kelly, Founder – Brian Kelly Capital, told a news channel, “The biggest driver right now is you’re starting to see institutional investors take a keen interest in the entire sector.” The firm recently came up with digital assets fund for external investors.

Adding further he said, “I don’t think this is hot money. This is real money that’s going to sit around and build the new internet.”

He also believes that the consensus in the bitcoin community has moved away from Bitcoin Unlimited from last several weeks that points towards a possible split in the currency and upgrade of the current system, known as Bitcoin Core.

Bitcoin prices today opened with $1,402.08 and went up as high as $1,446.68, according to the CoinDesk bitcoin price index.

News Technology

Enterprise Mobility Transformation Ushers In New Trends and Opportunities

The enterprise mobility landscape is rapidly undergoing transformation, due to the emerging digital technologies like IoT, robotics, artificial intelligence, wearables, virtual reality and the BYOD trend. The widespread adoption of mobility solutions is a result of the increased productivity that an organization and the employees experience by using these solutions at work.

The mobility, still an emerging technology, has played a pivotal role in bringing new opportunities and trends in the commercial device market in the year 2017.

With BYOD device policies in trend, organizations see a considerable decrease in the hardware costs, as employees connect from their own devices – smartphones, tablets, laptops, Notebooks and convertibles through technologies like cloud computing, wireless IP networks, and managed services.

BYOD helps enterprises cut on procurement cost and give employees the freedom to choose a device. This makes an enterprise more flexible and responsive, especially in the scenarios where time is a constraint, enterprise mobility is a boon.

In the data released by Microsoft in Hosting and Cloud summit 2017, the major trends of enterprise mobility, how organizations will benefit from it and how it will play a pivotal role in CX (customer experience) were disclosed.

Around 50% of the organizations surveyed, plan to use enterprise mobility management (EMM) services in the coming year as per 451 Research’s study.

However, with the growth in the enterprise BYOD market, the issues of security are also predicted to see a surge as employees will bring more personal devices for workplace connectivity. Organizations will need to take steps to control what information will be shared through these devices and take proper security checks before implementing mobility policies in the organizations, with the help from right EMM services.

The coming years will see much faster app loading irrespective of the network connectivity. Offline management of apps will give users more flexibility. So, managed service providers have the chance to identify the growing opportunities in the field of app development and mobility management that can be converted into revenue streams.

Cloud Innovation News Technology

Increased IoT adoption opens new door of opportunities for providers

Increase in the internet penetration rate, growing interconnected devices and BYOD trend in the organizations along with an increase in the new technologies is leading to growth in the Internet of Things (IoT). The term IoT is used for representing a system of interconnectedness of machines, computing devices via internet, allowing easy exchange of data.

As per the data released by Microsoft in the Hosting and Cloud summit 2017, IoT is impacting all sizes of businesses from manufacturing, infrastructure, logistics, transportation to government and is helping organizations with insightful data and analytics. It also promotes asset management and remote monitoring. The coming years can see several inventions around IoT, like smart lighting to take control over energy consumption, smart parking and more.

Overall, it has a wide use cases around plethora of industries who are using big data to better manage their operations, reduce cost and increase efficiency. As per a study by 451 Research, technologies that are going to change the business landscape in the next 5 years include the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, wearables, nanotechnology and 3D printing.

Although there are no major players in the IoT landscape at present but few mention worthy names include Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, At&T, Oracle and more. There are enough opportunities for the cloud service providers to capitalize IoT by providing low cost solutions and eliminating customer bottlenecks. However, concerns for security will continue to revolve around IoT applications and platforms and, organizations will spend considerable time in choosing the right IoT provider.

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