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Posts Tagged ‘cloud space’

Productivity and Creativity Software Coming To Steam

August 8th, 2012 08:17 admin View Comments

Software

lga writes “Valve announced today in a press release that they are expanding Steam beyond games and will start to deliver other software. This means that Steam will compete directly with Microsoft’s Windows Store and perhaps explains some of Gabe Newell’s disdain for Windows 8. The ability to save documents to Steam Cloud space also brings Valve into competition with the likes of Dropbox and Skydrive. According to the press release, ‘The Software titles coming to Steam range from creativity to productivity. Many of the launch titles will take advantage of popular Steamworks features, such as easy installation, automatic updating, and the ability to save your work to your personal Steam Cloud space so your files may travel with you.’”

Source: Productivity and Creativity Software Coming To Steam

Top 10 Enterprise Cloud Apps and Services of 2011

December 26th, 2011 12:15 admin View Comments

BestOf2011.pngIt seems like just like summer, Bill Murray used to sing, and that’s because it was. This year, for the first time, ReadWriteWeb expanded its coverage of the technologies that change our world through the Web, with new emphasis on cloud-based services to consumers and cloud technologies for businesses. Cloud services are more than just hosts for apps. They’re resources that you can provision for your changing needs, and which you can scale up or down as necessary.

Certainly 2011 was dramatically different from 2010 for businesses for one critical reason: In a very short time, suddenly true scalability for every IT service appeared within their reach. A market that was almost non-existent by the end of last year, has grown past what many analysts would consider the point of adolescence, with the shakeout subsiding and brand dropouts declining. Someone should remind these cloud service folks there’s a recession going on.

For ReadWriteWeb’s first list of top choices in enterprise cloud services, we took a cue from one of our winners and evaluated the social data stream, to see which services you talked about – and which ones got the favorable tweets, especially for customer service. Hosting companies aren’t covered on this list, even if they’re cloud host providers, unless they offer some form of value-add that makes their service more useful to a targeted class of customers.

Not every candidate for this list offers its own cloud platform; we considered services that are offered on others’ cloud platforms. And we considered the platforms on which they’re offered, too, if they presented a value-add that made them unique. Beta services were not eligible; we stuck with general availability only.


10. Xeround. This service, which premiered in late 2010, quite easily (judging from customers’ comments) deploys new or existing MySQL databases on cloud platforms such as Amazon EC2, Rackspace, and Heroku. Rather than just shoving off databases into the cloud space, Xeround manages storage on the back end with built-in scalability.

111220 Xeround database architecture.jpg

The back-end storage, whose configuration is kept transparent from the user, is managed by a homegrown system that scales itself by means of virtual partitioning as opposed to sharding. Each partition is maintained on independent nodes using shared-nothing architecture (meaning, no single point of failure leads to cascading node elimination). Your database application never sees the partitioning take place, and isn’t even involved; and scaling takes place with the goal of zero downtime – which thus far appears to have been achieved.

Usually a company’s own predictions for the coming year are rather self-serving, so Xeround’s #1 event for 2012 may come as something of a shock: “The Cloud will disappear,” writes Xeround’s Itamar Haber, “not in the sense that it will be gone (far from it) but rather in that that it will become all-encompassing and omnipresent. We will no longer see The Cloud as a trend or even an alternate model for using compute resources – it will become transparent as it will be the de facto default means of choice for nearly all IT-backed projects across industry sectors.” I guess that makes this the last year for this Top 10 list as well, eh?


9. Bime might not have qualified as a cloud service per se, except for the clever way it serves as storage for business intelligence. It’s not a particularly sophisticated data store, but it doesn’t have to be for its main purpose: visualizing and analyzing data from large databases. Many businesses used to rely on exporting data to Excel for this purpose, in what often became one of the clumsier exercises in database versioning.

111220 Top 10 Ent Cloud Apps 02.jpg

Bime Analytics makes itself visible to the world through interesting, if often fairly trivial, sample renderings of data that’s fascinating to someone. My daughter, for example, will find interesting this “data cloud”-style subdivision (above) of the various villains that appeared in Doctor Who, organized by relative area in proportion with their appearances throughout the entire franchise history, and organized in blocks by the year of their first episode. It’s an example of the Bime visualization engine putting itself through its paces using innocuous data (though I gather the Sontarans could start a cosmic war to avoid being sublimated by the Cybermen).

Essentially, Bime is a data visualization firm, which ordinarily would render it just an app. What makes Bime’s business model not only cloud-centric but also more viable are two things: 1) If you’re going to visualize your own data, you need a way to get it into the system. So Bime can afford to charge a premium for storage ($60/month for the first gigabyte, $120/month for up to 10 GB) since what you’ll really be using it for anyway is visualization. Imagine paying $60 a month for something that only billed itself as a graphics app. 2) As my friend and colleague Pam Baker showed us last August, Bime offers an API for developers to build their own apps that utilize the visualization functionality, that in turn uses the data you’re paying Bime a premium to store for you. It is an excellent business concept, and a way to use cloud resources to twist an otherwise point-and-shoot SaaS app into a viable business.


8. Okta. Almost four years ago, this service was founded with the notion of providing identity federation for a handful of familiar SaaS apps like Google Apps and online services like Facebook. Well, Facebook wants to be a major player in the identity game in its own right. Besides, simply federating single-sign-on access to an expanding list of players isn’t an exciting business model when that number of players begins to dwindle.

So earlier this year, as David Strom told you in August, Okta put a new cloud-style spin on its service: In adding a new layer of Active Directory integration, it made itself into a kind of all-purpose AD app. Your single sign-on takes place through this app, rather than through some complex federation service on-premise. And because all the users in a business are checking in through one place, Okta becomes the dashboard for delegating privileges and permissions to those users. Through Active Directory, the same password that enables users to enter the network in the first place, logs them onto Okta as well.

Last year at this time, developers and administrators alike were in a quandary over how to manage the identities that users must assume in order to access multiple applications, both on-premise and through the cloud. Okta is not yet the total solution to this problem, but the fact that it has taken a serious bite out of the problem in so short a time points to the possibility of a cloud-based solution to the broader identity management problem.

Next page: Service-as-a-service…

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Source: Top 10 Enterprise Cloud Apps and Services of 2011

Smoothly Hopping from Cloud to Cloud: VMware vCloud Connector 1.5

November 16th, 2011 11:45 admin View Comments

VMware (blue, 150 sq).jpgOne of the problems many data centers face today with virtualization is not always having a way to predict in advance the extent to which a virtual machine’s capacity will need to scale up. VMware already gives VMs tremendous flexibility, but when your virtual data center is clustered and its storage is highly distributed, you may find the capacity of your physical data center to support it becoming somewhat stretched.

So what would be nice is if you could slide all or even part of your workload into a leased, public cloud space. VMware has been addressing this need with a product called vCloud Connector. But the problem, as Gartner analyst Kyle Hilgendorf reported last July, was klunky performance that made the 1.0 version of Connector difficult to use.

At the time Hilgendorf published his document, he said, “there were issues such as no network transmission intelligence, restart protocol, and the fact that vCloud Connector had to temporarily make a copy of the OVF/VMDK and store it in a temporary holding area. All of these factors contributed to really poor VM mobility performance.”

Today, VMware addressed at least some of Hilgendorf’s issues with the general availability of vCloud Connector 1.5. According to VMware’s release notes, no longer is it necessary for vCloud Connector Server to copy the VM master file first into a kind of purgatory, from which it then gets copied to its destination. That’s a big plus with respect to getting the migration process started. However, with respect to shifting workloads between clouds, including your own private one, by way of vCloud Connector Nodes, temporary holding files are still necessary. But performance degradation on that level may be less noticeable.

VMware vCloud Connector diagram.png

VCloud Connector Server is the system’s central access point for controlling transferrable workloads between VMware-compatible clouds. You use it to register the nodes for any addressable cloud, including public ones, where your workloads may be hosted, and then to monitor performance on those nodes in real-time. With Connector 1.5, VMware makes this control accessible through a Web browser located anywhere, through the URL vcloud.vmware.com.

111116 VMware vCloud Connector.jpg

Although VMware’s release notes state only Internet Explorer 7+ and Firefox 3+ browsers are supported, the screenshot supplied here by VMware clearly shows Google Chrome for Mac.

Source: Smoothly Hopping from Cloud to Cloud: VMware vCloud Connector 1.5

Smoothly Hopping from Cloud to Cloud: VMware vCloud Connector 1.5

November 16th, 2011 11:45 admin View Comments

VMware (blue, 150 sq).jpgOne of the problems many data centers face today with virtualization is not always having a way to predict in advance the extent to which a virtual machine’s capacity will need to scale up. VMware already gives VMs tremendous flexibility, but when your virtual data center is clustered and its storage is highly distributed, you may find the capacity of your physical data center to support it becoming somewhat stretched.

So what would be nice is if you could slide all or even part of your workload into a leased, public cloud space. VMware has been addressing this need with a product called vCloud Connector. But the problem, as Gartner analyst Kyle Hilgendorf reported last July, was klunky performance that made the 1.0 version of Connector difficult to use.

At the time Hilgendorf published his document, he said, “there were issues such as no network transmission intelligence, restart protocol, and the fact that vCloud Connector had to temporarily make a copy of the OVF/VMDK and store it in a temporary holding area. All of these factors contributed to really poor VM mobility performance.”

Today, VMware addressed at least some of Hilgendorf’s issues with the general availability of vCloud Connector 1.5. According to VMware’s release notes, no longer is it necessary for vCloud Connector Server to copy the VM master file first into a kind of purgatory, from which it then gets copied to its destination. That’s a big plus with respect to getting the migration process started. However, with respect to shifting workloads between clouds, including your own private one, by way of vCloud Connector Nodes, temporary holding files are still necessary. But performance degradation on that level may be less noticeable.

VMware vCloud Connector diagram.png

VCloud Connector Server is the system’s central access point for controlling transferrable workloads between VMware-compatible clouds. You use it to register the nodes for any addressable cloud, including public ones, where your workloads may be hosted, and then to monitor performance on those nodes in real-time. With Connector 1.5, VMware makes this control accessible through a Web browser located anywhere, through the URL vcloud.vmware.com.

111116 VMware vCloud Connector.jpg

Although VMware’s release notes state only Internet Explorer 7+ and Firefox 3+ browsers are supported, the screenshot supplied here by VMware clearly shows Google Chrome for Mac.

Source: Smoothly Hopping from Cloud to Cloud: VMware vCloud Connector 1.5

Hitachi Announces First USB 3.0 External Drives, Bundled With Personal Cloud Space

April 19th, 2011 04:45 admin View Comments

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (which was just acquired by Western Digital) has announced the company’s first USB 3.0 external hard drives, the so-called Touro Mobile Pro Portable Drive and the Touro Desk Pro External Drive (the bigger one in the picture). What’s special about these devices is the personal cloud-based back up solution they come with.

In other words, you can store data on your hardware and online – if things go awry in either one of these “two levels of protection” (Hitachi), you don’t have to worry about losing valuable data. Both drives spin at 7,200rpm.

In the US, the Touro Mobile Pro Portable Drive are already available with 500GB ($109.99) or 750GB ($129.99) on board, while the desktop version will be launched in three versions in June: 1TB ($129.99), 2TB ($179.99) or 3TB ($229.99).

Included in these prices are 3GB of free storage space “in the cloud”, which is not really all that much (it costs $49 per year to upgrade 250GB).

Hitachi GST also plans to ship USB 2.0 versions, by the way (full details in the press release).


Serkan Toto is a Tokyo-based web and mobile industry consultant. You can tweet him here, find him on LinkedIn here or email him at serkan at crunchgear dot com.

Source: Hitachi Announces First USB 3.0 External Drives, Bundled With Personal Cloud Space

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