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Cloud Computing Wars 2015 – Google, Microsoft, Docker, Sphere 3D And VMware

Cloud computing has gradually entered the second phase of the product life cycle. Naturally, several players have established strong reputations and economies of scale. Although companies with innovative technologies and superior new products can still take advantage of ample room in a fast-growing market, competition has intensified, and some early consolidations are starting to occur.

VMware (NYSE:VMW) and Citrix (NASDAQ:CTXS), two pioneers and early leaders of cloud computing, have gradually lost their leadership status to late-coming software and dot com giants. Recently, Amazon Web Services has become the market-share leader, especially in the public cloud domain, but the two biggest companies in the computer world – Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL) – are chasing closely behind and quickly narrowing the gap. These two software giants have distinct advantages over Amazon and others in the long-term battle for the cloud computing crown: they have strong roots and mass user bases in operating systems and computing hardware – two of the most fundamental elements of personal/enterprise computing.

Both companies have raised their investments (in terms of capital and human resources) in cloud computing over the past year, and have made strong vows to go “all-in” in 2015. As a result, it is probably not an overstatement to say that 2015 is the year in which the land of cloud computing will be rattled by the troops these two giants spur into action. The result of the ensuring war will have a profound impact on the market over the very long term.

As it has done so many times before, Google has been using its unparalleled ability to invent and evolve to quickly enhance its cloud products, and has made leaps in the expansion of its product capabilities and functionalities. Three months ago, the company announced VPN capability for its cloud service, and provides carrier interconnects to let users access the Google cloud platform from Equinix, IX Reach, Level 3, Tata Communications, Telx, Verizon and Zayo facilities around the world. Just this month, the company also announced the addition of monitoring services – a feature that developers love – to its cloud platform. In addition, Google has again used its superior agility to quickly seize control over three extremely valuable and strategically important gunfire points in the war of cloud computing: Docker, Sphere 3D (NASDAQ:ANY) and VMware (VMW).

The battles over the ownerships of these gunfire points can at large determine the outcome of the war this year. So far, it looks like Google has an upper hand over all competitors, including Microsoft, in all three battles. Investors of cloud computing stocks should be fully aware of these key points and constantly monitor the battles between these two giants and their alliances this year in order to reassess and adjust their positions accordingly.

Gunfire Point 1: Docker (container)

One new concept of cloud computing that emerged in 2014 and is gaining adoption at lightning speed is container-based API (Application Program Interface) and application servicing provided by Docker, an open platform for building, shipping and running distributed applications. Instead of using hypervisor, the traditional way of virtualization, Docker uses a lightweight, containerized deployment mechanism to service applications on the cloud. As the company elegantly summarizes on its website:

“Docker is an open platform for developers and sysadmins to build, ship, and run distributed applications. Consisting of Docker Engine, a portable, lightweight runtime and packaging tool, and Docker Hub, a cloud service for sharing applications and automating workflows, Docker enables apps to be quickly assembled from components and eliminates the friction between development, QA, and production environments.”

The following graph from the company’s website gives a simple and powerful visual impression of the main difference between Docker’s container-based architecture and hypervisor-based architecture.

(click to enlarge)

A slide show posted by IT architect Francisco Goncalves also gives a great overview of Docker and containers. Docker is superior over hypervisor-based cloud platforms in several important ways:

1. It uses very small VMs that allow for much higher server density by removing redundant or unnecessary operating system elements from the VMs themselves.

2. It uses nicely packaged VM stacks, which can be easily transferred, replicated and controlled, ensuring high levels of portability.

3. It uses VM software stacks that are small, removing the obstacles and problems of building a large stack of version-specific operating systems and tools that need lots of efforts to maintain and modify for different operating systems and hardware.

4. It has extremely fast startup and response times that can facilitate a more flexible infrastructure, allowing greater latitude to respond to the needs of the moment.

CoreOS CEO and container guru Alex Polvi proclaimed in a recent tweet that 2015 will be the year of production-ready containers. Music streaming service Spotify’s use case of Docker serves as a strong testimony to Alex’s statement.

Sensing the urgency, Google moved quickly last year to fully cooperate with and embrace Docker. After adding Docker to its Google Compute Engine (GCE) early last year to let developers access a large library of Docker images already in existence, in the middle of the year, Google integrated Docker into its App Engine and launched Kubernetes, an open-source container manager that helps developers deploy their containers to a fleet of machines. Last month, Google went one step further to launch a cloud-based hosting service for private Docker container registries.

Microsoft, meanwhile, surely did not just sit there and wave a white flag in surrender to Google. Last month, the company also announced the integration of the Docker engine with its Azure Marketplace. Developers can now browse the Azure Marketplace or Azure portal and easily provision a VM with the latest Docker engine pre-installed and running on Azure.

Within a year, Google’s and Microsoft’s top-notch programming teams quickly completed full life-cycle supports for Docker in their cloud platforms, making them ten miles ahead of other competitors in the industry.

The history of modularization and standardization tells us that containers will probably replace hypervisors and become the standard mechanism of virtualization in cloud computing. The battle over Docker and containers is not a winner-take-all battle, because Docker is an open-source technology that can be integrated into any cloud computing platform. However, Google’s cloud system has an inherit advantage over Microsoft’s and other competitors’ for integrating and servicing Docker because of its roots in Linux (its famous Android OS was based on Linux). Whether the company can make Docker a main selling point for its cloud platform and swing a huge number of developers away from Microsoft and others’ camps and reap material incremental profits this year is a drama that investors of cloud stocks cannot afford to miss this year.

Gunfire Point 2: Sphere 3D (microvisor, the upgraded container)

If Docker is an open-source version of the hottest superstar in cloud computing, Sphere 3D is the proprietary version of it. Similar to Docker’s container technology, Sphere 3D’s patented “microvisor” technology (used in its Glassware product line) uses software stacks that are small and run much faster than traditional VMs. Unlike Docker, though, Sphere 3D takes the convenience of servicing heterogeneous applications on the cloud further by letting a developer/IT admin add legacy applications (e.g., Office, Photoshop, AutoCAD, etc.) to a public or private cloud system in a drag-and-drop fashion within minutes. The demonstration by one of the company’s founders – John Morelli – at the 2014 VMWorld conference, an article written by Steve Anderson, and interviews done by MidasLetter and Brian Madden explained the capabilities and significance of Sphere 3D’s products very well. In addition, much-respected cloud computing analyst Simon Bramfitt gave the company’s technologies and products extremely high marks in an article published on the Virtualization Practice website last summer.

Docker’s focus has been with development, while Glassware is directed toward simplicity of containerizing an application for IT departments. To really take advantage of Docker, you need to package it within a container. This can only be done with access to the application’s source code and modifying it to fit inside a container. With Glassware, you just need the installer. Docker has gained traction with independent software vendors and Web-scale companies that run a single application stack, but it is not very easy to integrate Docker into heterogeneous workloads. Most traditional apps were not architected to take advantage of Docker’s open APIs. Some could move, but re-packaging huge amounts of programming codes in legacy applications and putting them all on Docker will take tremendous amounts of time and resources for software vendors or IT departments of companies using those applications.

Glassware addresses this great challenge by being able to service a universal cluster of applications, whether legacy or newly written ones, to a universal cluster of appliances.

Since its IPO (in Canada) in late 2013, Sphere 3D has moved forward with its business development and expansions at lightning speed. In about a year, it has acquired a virtual desktop technology innovator (V3 Systems), a leading cloud storage provider in Canada (Overland Storage Inc.) and a company specializing in data protection (Tandberg Data, through Overland Storage Inc.). It has signed agreements/contracts with an array of technology powerhouses and big organizations in the spheres of IT/Computers (VMware, Dell, Promark Ingram Micro, Atos), communication (Ericsson, Adams), healthcare (Novarad), education (Chesterfield County Schools, Texas School District), real estate (Jefferson Homebuilders) and printing services (UniPrint).

Seeing the superiority and popularity of Sphere 3D’s technologies, Google has moved quickly to team up with it and get into position to benefit from the company’s growth. Through Dell, Google has sold more than 42,000 Chromebooks preinstalled with Chrome OS and Sphere 3D’s Glassware cloud platform that is specifically fine-tuned for educational purposes in Chesterfield County and Texas school districts. Because there are approximately 49.8 million K-12 students, 98,300 public schools and 13,600 public school districts in the U.S alone, Google stands to benefit enormously if it can seize a huge portion of the education pie traditionally serviced by Wintel-based computers from Microsoft. Google’s desire for Sphere 3D’s technologies is blatantly evident from tweets with open endorsements of Sphere 3D by its top education executive, Jason Katcher (see his recent tweets here, here and here), and accumulation of the company’s shares. Jason’s fondness of Sphere 3D may stem from his respectful passion of using new technologies to revolutionize kids’ learning experiences, as he explained during a presentation to students at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

Taking its relationship with Sphere 3D further, Google announced this month that Google Drive now supports Glassware, making it simple for users to use Glassware-virtualized Windows(TM) applications, while maintaining files in their Google Drive accounts. Here again, Google stands to reap huge rewards if it can lure a significant amount of traditional Windows or iOS users to switch to Android and Chromebook devices that can run their favorite Windows or iOS-based applications.

In order not to let its troops get caught sleeping, at the close of 2014, Microsoft entered a multi-year global OEM embedded agreement with Sphere 3D that allows for the preinstallation of Microsoft Windows Embedded Server software in appliances that use Glassware 2.0 application virtualization technology. Because Sphere 3D has manufacturing factories in China (under its Tandberg Data subsidiary) and Microsoft has a strong presence and command of the majority of the personal PC market in China, in addition to North America and Europe, Microsoft can reap huge additional benefits from the Chinese market by teaming up with Sphere 3D. However, the company needs to proceed quickly in this regard, because it has a significant distance to close in order to recover the ground lost to Google in the battle of pulling Sphere 3D to its camp.

Google and Microsoft’s biggest attraction to Sphere 3D is their respective humongous bases of existing customers. Sphere 3D can choose to advertise and market its products by itself, but partnering with big companies will allow Sphere 3D to multiply its sales quickly by pushing its products through these companies’ sales channels. As Sphere 3D’s CEO and Obama administration advisor and counsel Eric Kelly said in the last business update, Sphere 3D’s “growth strategy encompass[es] leveraging our 30 years of innovation to deliver leading edge technologies, accelerating adoption of those technologies through our world class distribution and partner ecosystem, and expanding our strategic partnerships to deliver new business models and services… we are continuing to see stronger commitment and focus from our worldwide OEM partners who continue to thrive and see their businesses grow considerably through the differentiated value proposition of our offerings in their respective markets.”

Google and Microsoft have to and likely will raise their levels of engagement with Sphere 3D, because some competitors need Sphere 3D’s technologies and products more desperately than Google and Microsoft, and have been very aggressive in pulling Sphere 3D to their camps. Take Ingram Micro (NYSE:IM), for example. This month, IBM just announced that it has budgeted $1 billion to take down EMC, and EMC just dropped Ingram Micro last month as its main distributor in North America. For Ingram Micro, that means it no longer will sell EMC’s network-attached storage (NAS). To fill that missing piece of the vacuum, it is more than likely that Ingram Micro will devote a huge portion of its sales force to promote and sell Sphere 3D’s Overland SnapServer products this year. VMware has also been very aggressive in attracting Sphere 3D (see later section for more details).

A scenario that Google and Microsoft will hate to see is for Sphere 3D to sign an agreement with a major competitor, in which that competitor gets the right of exclusive representation for certain product lines in certain markets in exchange for guaranteed annual sales amounts for these product lines. That would be a huge blow to Google and Microsoft in their relationship with Sphere 3D and their shares of the pie in microvisor-related cloud computing technologies.

Gunfire Point 3: VMware (the old king of cloud computing)

If Docker and Sphere 3D are like the hottest young stars in a sport, VMware is a hall-of-famer with piled up awards and achievements in the sport, yet is gradually losing its glory. The challenge the company faces now is similar to the problem Microsoft faced in late 1990s and early 2000s. Being a pioneer in the cloud computing industry and seeing its products sell extremely well and becoming the industry-standard in the early years, VMware was too entrenched in the old, hyper-visor-based virtualization architecture. As a result, for the past few years, the company has not paid enough attention to important new technologies/architectures, and has been reluctant to re-engineer its core products. Not only has VMware seriously fallen behind in the public and hybrid cloud, but the company also faces serious challenges and is losing market share in its traditional private cloud and virtualization businesses.

At this point, because VMware is behind in public/hybrid clouds, because its RD team has not been trained to make drastic and disruptive re-designs of its products, and because it is not a match to Google and Microsoft in terms of capital and RD resources, the company is in danger of following Nokia’s footsteps of continuously losing market share and gradually fading out in its industry. Taking cues from Nokia’s recent decision to succumb to and completely fold into Microsoft’s camp to seek protection from the giant, over the past one year, VMware has made big moves to team up with rival Google. On the other hand, although VMware is losing its shine and market share, the company’s big customer base and premium brand name are still extremely valuable and unmatched by others in the industry. In addition, a savvy tech giant like Google recognizes the precious opportunity to force VMware to concede and yield more ground in negotiations. Given this, Google has put a lot of attention on VMware lately.

Early last year, Google worked with VMware to embed VMware’s Horizon DaaS in Google Chrome OS to provide users of Chromebook and other Chrome OS devices easier access to Windows desktop and applications. That was a very significant boost of Chromebook’s appeal to users of traditional Windows OS and applications at that time. This year, when VMware’s virtual desktop has lost its edge to Docker’s containers and Sphere 3D’s microvisor, Google successfully convinced VMware to give away more core technologies/products.

Last month, VMware announced it was making four Google cloud services available on its vCloud Air hybrid cloud. On the surface, this is a win-win marriage, because Google’s cloud gained a foot in the door with VMware’s install base, while VMware has the benefit of the massive scale of Google’s data center infrastructure. Behind the scenes, though, Google gained more in this deal, because in the long term, most VMware users will be forced to stick to the service because of Google’s reputation and massive scale of economy in storing and protecting their data (in other words, most people will use the service because of Google, not VMware, giving Google a stronger position in its relationship and bargaining power with VMware).

As for Microsoft, the company again lags behind Google in pulling in VMware and taking advantage of the company’s struggle at the opportune time. It wasn’t until this month when a Microsoft insider revealed that the company is going to start supporting VMware workloads on Azure’s public cloud platform starting in the third quarter of this year. Even if this information is true, Microsoft is more than one year behind Google in its addition of VMware supports. My bet is that the company will deploy more resources to collaborate with VMware this year and try to make some big deals with VMware, because it cannot afford to lose more ground to Google or others.

What makes the situation more complicated is that VMware itself is trying to pull Docker and Sphere 3D to it as well, because it too is fully aware of the importance of these two companies’ technologies. Last August, VMware started to partner with Docker, Google and Pivotal to bring container support to its cloud platforms. In late 2013, VMware invited Sphere 3D to its Technology Alliance Partner program, awarded it the Elite Membership status and invited the company to present at its VMWorld conference last August.

In the world of technology, the first-mover advantage is of ultimate importance. One reason that Google has been so successful since inception is its ability to quickly recognize the importance of a disruptive new technology and deploy top-notch engineers to work with the company that owns the technology while its competitors and most independent technical reviewers are still doubting, hesitating and waiting for the new technology to fully mature and generate a stable and high level of profit. After all, a truly unique, disruptive and revolutionary technology cannot be accurately understood and deciphered by a regular technician/engineer looking from outside and comparing the new technology with traditional, old technologies. Doing so will yield an erroneous conclusion to the feasibility of the technology and an incorrect estimate of its value. Only by sending the most intelligent scientists/engineers to closely monitor a disruptive new technology in operation and carefully review the programming details of the technology and products developed using the technology can Google thoroughly assesses the superiority of the technology and determine the best way to use it to the company’s benefit. This cannot be done without first becoming friends with the owner of a disruptive new technology and striking a collaborative agreement with the owner. Apparently, Google has done a great job with Docker and Sphere 3D – as it has done countless times in the past with other companies.

Microsoft is not far behind Google in terms of its capability to take advantage of new technologies developed by other companies, and VMware is not totally incapable in this regard either. That’s why Microsoft and VMware are not making things easy for Google in gaining control of Docker and Sphere 3D. As a result, right now Google, Microsoft, VMware, Docker and Sphere 3D are tangled in a pentagon love affair. At this moment, who eventually ends up with whom in this soap opera is a guessing game.

What is clear, though, as said at the beginning of this article, is that the interactions between these five companies – three of the biggest empires (Google, Microsoft and VMware) and two new ultimate weapons (Docker and Sphere 3D) in the world of cloud computing – will have a very profound impact on the entire industry this year. The troops are all converged to the battle field, and the moment of final collision is probably imminent and unavoidable on the short horizon. Don’t take your eyes off the battles over the next several months, because the moves of these participants may have great impacts on the values of the cloud computing companies in your portfolio.

Disclosure: The author is long GOOGL, ANY. (More…)

Additional disclosure: No content published as part of this article constitutes a recommendation that any particular investment, security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. I am not an investment adviser, and the content contained herein is not an endorsement to buy or sell any securities. Your investment decisions are made entirely at your discretion. By reading my article, you acknowledge that I am in no way liable for losses or gains arising out of commentary, analysis, and or data in this article.

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Intel’s Cloud Computing VP: 5 Years From Now We’ll Be Wondering What …

Although Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) was quite late in the mobile computing chip space, letting companies like QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) to be the market leader in that space, it is bridging the gap fast with innovation in both the computing and communication space.

Kirk Skaugen, Intel’s VP for cloud computing, was on Bloomberg to talk about the latest innovations happening at Intel.

Exciting Times Ahead

“The whole world is getting more smart and connected,” Skaugen said. “So, this is really the main event, where people watch their products for the next year and kind of talk about what’s going to be exciting.”

No More Just A PC Company

When asked about what Intel will be rolling out over the course of this year, Skaugen replied, “Well, I think Intel has been known long as a PC company, but they are going to be announcing an entire new lineup of both computing and communications chips that are going to make consumer devices, whether they are phones or tablets or phablets much higher performance and longer battery life.”

He continued, “And they will launch a new set of user experiences and a vision to basically eliminate all passwords, all wires and move the world to kind of gesture and new interface for computing.”

No Passwords, Really?

“We interview hundreds of thousands of people a year and what is really frustrating people is those passwords, both the ones that you got to do every day as well as the ones that when you are trying to get into your 401k account in the weekend and you can’t get it,” Skaugen said. “Our job is to basically make your phone your password and five years from now we’ll be wondering what the heck those things even were.'”

Posted-In: Bloomberg Kirk SkaugenCNBC Tech Media

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Cloud Computing & Big Data – SparkIndata, led by Atos, selected as a world …

SparkIndata: The first platform that brings together different sources of environmental data to provide new services for agriculture, urban planning, security, climate, health, etc


Paris, 2 March 2015 –  “SparkIndata”, a Cloud platform developed by an Atos led consortium of 11 partners*, was selected as one of 12 RD projects chosen from 34 candidate projects, to be funded by the major national programme “Investments for the Future” in the “Cloud Computing Big Data” category. Atos, an international leader in digital services, sees this as recognition of its proven innovative approach and vast expertise in Big Data and Cloud Computing through Canopy – the Atos Cloud.


“SparkIndata is one of 12 projects selected by the Commissariat-General for Investment for their high growth potential.  The aim of these innovative RD projectsis to strengthen our digital activities.Cloud Computing and Big Data transform our environment profoundly and have an impact on all industrial activities and services. Mastering them is a key element of our competitiveness”, comments Louis Schweitzer, High Commissioner of “Investments for the Future”.


Gilles Grapinet, Senior Executive Vice President of Atoshighlights: “Atos,a key player in Cloud Computing and Big Data, is proud to be leading the SparkIndata consortium made up of parties recognised as the best in their field. SparkIndata aims to bring together in one single platform different sources of Earth observation data that are cross-referenced with geographical, oceanographic and geoscientific data, to offer a catalogue of innovative services to companies from numerous sectors of activity. We have the ambition to federate other national initiatives at European level, with the help of SparkIndata. “


Within the framework of COPERNICUS (the European Programme for the establishment of a European capacity for Earth Observation, led jointly by the EU and the ESA)**, our partners and clients have access to large storage and calculation capacity to process high volumes of data and large number of users. They benefit from high added value and real time analysis capacities, pay-per-use and consideration spread across complex ecosystems, thanks to Canopy Helix Nebula platform, made available by Atos. This Infrastructure As A Service (IaaS) was developed to meet the needs of European space agencies and is capable of managing all the peak loads thanks to its widespread infrastructure and its calculation capacity. SparkIndata will provide access to environmental data taken from satellites and sensors that enable under the earth’s surface and the ocean floors to be observed. It will also provide a development environment and the opportunity of new services for the benefit of stakeholders in downstream markets (agriculture, urban planning, security, climate, risk prevention, health…).


The explosion of the volume of data available and the development of SMACS digital technologies (Social-Mobile-Analytics-Cloud-Security) are at the core of what Atos considers “the third digital revolution” (the 1st being computing and the 2nd Internet). Atos has the objective of seizing the opportunities which arise from this disruption in order to always be ahead in supporting its customers and partners in their digital transformation and thus consolidate its position as global leader in digital services, secure Cloud and Big Data.


* 11 partners:

Atos, TerraNis, Geomatys, Geosigweb, Mercator-Ocean, CNES-Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, IGN-Institut national de l’information géographique et forestier, BRGM-Bureau des Recherches Géologiques et Minières, IRIT-Institut de Recherche Informatique de Toulouse – Université Paul Sabatier, EI Purpan-Ecole d’Ingénieurs de Purpan, Aerospace Valley.



** COPERNICUS is the European Earth Observation programme, led jointly by the EU and the ESA, aiming to create independent European observation capacity on different scales (local, regional, global) for the environment and safety, in support of European policies (environment, agriculture etc.) and the Union’s international commitments.





About the Commissariat-General for Investment

The Commissariat-General for Investment (CGI) is responsible for the future investments programme in France and ensures “the coherence of the Government’s investment policy”.  The future investments programme is translated in calls for national projects aimed at selecting excellent, innovative and with high growth potential projects.


About Atos

Atos SE (Societas Europaea) is a Global digital services leader with 2014 pro forma annual revenue of circa € 10 billion and 86,000 employees in 66 countries. Serving a global client base, the Group provides Consulting Systems Integration services, Managed Services BPO, Cloud operations, Big Data Cyber-security solutions, as well as transactional services through Worldline, the European leader in the payments and transactional services industry. With its deep technology expertise and industry knowledge, the Group works with clients across different business sectors: Defense, Financial Services, Health, Manufacturing, Media, Utilities, Public sector, Retail, Telecommunications, and Transportation.

Atos is focused on business technology that powers progress and helps organizations to create their firm of the future. The Group is the Worldwide Information Technology Partner for the Olympic Paralympic Games and is listed on the Euronext Paris market. Atos operates under the brands Atos, Atos Consulting, Atos Worldgrid, Bull, Canopy, and Worldline.


For more information, contact:

Anne de Beaumont – 33 6 23 76 19 41 – [email protected]



This announcement is distributed by NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions on behalf of NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions clients.
The issuer of this announcement warrants that they are solely responsible for the content, accuracy and originality of the information contained therein.
Source: ATOS via Globenewswire

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Is cloud computing secure enough for spies? CIA bets on Amazon

When you think spy agencies and the cloud, you probably think about the National Security Agency (NSA) snooping on the cloud. Well, guess what? Intelligence agencies use the cloud for their own IT as well. Or, at least the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), aka the Company, does with its own private Amazon cloud.

Sure, the CIA used to use secret gadgets, but now it’s putting its IT on the cloud like everyone else.

Why would the CIA do this? Well, as Michael McConnell, former director of the National Security Agency, said in 2012, “The economics of the cloud are so compelling they can’t be denied. [But,] we have to get the security aspects right.”

So while I’m sure the CIA’s cloud takes the notion of a private cloud to new levels, it’s not going to share its cloud security secrets. The core technology is AWS, but this cloud, as a Government Executive writer put it, is “a public cloud built on private premises.” The CIA has, however, been more forthcoming about what else it’s going to do with its cloud.

For example, would it surprise you to know that the CIA’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud is getting ready to open its own app store? Well, believe it or not, that’s exactly what CIA’s Chief Information Officer Doug Wolfe announced at the Cloudera Federal Forum in February.

Secret CIA spy gadgets go public: photos

The Federal Times reported that Wolfe said, “Some folks had the idea that we need an environment that is much like the marketplace we see commercially. We are going to be delivering a private marketplace that will support the IC [intelligence community].

Community? Yes, community.

You see it’s not just the CIA. Amazon runs AWS GovCloud and Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). This cloud service was given a Department of Defense (DoD) provisional authorization under the DoD Cloud Security Model (CSM) for Impact Levels 1-2 last year. If you translate that from Federal bureaucratic language to English, it means that other DoD agencies can put their secrets on the cloud too.

When they get there, they’ll find the Intelligence Community app store has only about a tenth of the applications on the AWS Customer App Catalog. These secured programs will include Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and open-source apps.

But wait, there’s more. The CIA is working with Cloudera, an open-source company that specializes in Hadoop Big Data. Specifically, the CIA will be using Cloudera Enterprise to create its own enterprise data hub.

According to a report by NextGov, Wolfe said the CIA will start using Cloudera’s Enterprise Data Hub platform by April. Once proven, the Company will open its Big Data services to all 17 IC agencies.

Where will this Data Hub live? On the CIA’s AWS cloud of course.

This doesn’t sound as exciting as the CIA in spy novels or the TV series Homeland, but it is what’s needed to keep the CIA working on time and budget. So, if your CIO is still feeling twitchy about putting your applications and data on the cloud, just remind him or her that even security agencies are putting their IT eggs into the cloud basket.

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Threats to cloud computing require a solution from the 18th century

SALT LAKE CITY — As a medium of expression that blossomed in popular consciousness in the late 1990s, the Internet is beginning to reach its adolescent years.

We’ve evolved from static Web pages to social networking to “cloud computing,” which means that personal documents aren’t stored on our computers and smartphones but on servers throughout the world.

And yet citizens’ security in their digital possessions has never been more threatened. Fortunately, there are two bills — one co-sponsored by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the other co-sponsored by Utah Sen. Mike Lee — that go a long way to restoring constitutional protections for Internet information.

It’s important at the outset to dispense the shibboleth that the Internet changes everything. What the Internet needs is a strong dose of 18th century legal wisdom, not words about “freedom of expression in the 21st century,” to quote the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission during last Thursday’s vote by the agency on network neutrality.

The Constitution says that we have the right to be secure in our “persons, houses, papers and effects.” We have the right to speak free from regulation by the government. There are some who say that the Internet has rewritten the laws of supply and demand, or changed common decency and morality, or altered the possibility of being free from police surveillance. They are mistaken.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution articulates the right of Americans’ sources of private informational documents to be secure “against unreasonable searches and seizures.” This doesn’t prevent the government or the police from obtaining information upon probable cause or reasonable suspicion; it simply bars the issuance of general warrants.

On Feb. 4, a bipartisan group of senators and representatives introduced the Electronic Communications Privacy Amendments Act of 2015. “The bill we are introducing today protects Americans’ digital privacy — in their emails, and all the other files and photographs they store in the cloud,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, who has long been seeking to update this law that first passed in 1986.

The language of that original ECPA law focused too specifically on technologies used in early electronic mail services. As a result, it didn’t protect the privacy of data when stored by another company in a cloud-based service.

Both this year and during last Congress, when he introduced a similar measure, the Democrat Leahy has been joined by the Republican Lee. When the bill was reintroduced last month, Lee said: “The prevalence of email and the low cost of electronic data storage have made what were once robust protections insufficient to ensure that citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights are adequately protected.”

ECPA isn’t the only proposed law that would restore privacy protections granted in the Fourth Amendment to documents stored in the cloud. Another such measure, introduced on Feb. 12, is the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act, or LEADS.

Sponsored by Hatch and Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Dean Heller, R-Nevada, the bill addresses an unfortunate federal district court decision in June that required Microsoft to hand over data stored in an Irish data center to federal prosecutors. “If the government’s position prevails, it would have huge detrimental impacts on American cloud companies that do business abroad,’’ attorney Michael Vatis told the Washington Post. Vatis co-authored a brief by Verizon Communications defending Microsoft’s position on the Fourth Amendment.

“While I agree in principle with the ECPA reform bills,” Hatch said, speaking of the Leahy-Lee measure, it does not “establish a framework for how the U.S. government can access data stored abroad.” Hatch said that the issues faced by U.S. companies storing data on behalf of U.S. customers is important whether the data is stored in the U.S. or overseas.

A trade group advocating on behalf of Internet infrastructure companies has identified ECPA reform and the passage of the LEADS act as their key legislative priority this year. “One of the reasons that U.S. Internet infrastructure is used by businesses around the world is because people around the world know and count on the laws that govern access to data, and that they are reliable, transparent and uniformly enforced,” said David Snead, co-founder of the Internet Infrastructure Coalition.

Referring to revelations of the past two years regarding the widespread surveillance of U.S. citizens by the National Security Agency, Snead said that the LEADS Act was “of increased importance because the confidence in the Fourth Amendment has been eroded.”

The pace of technology change unleashed by the Internet makes it tempting to treat the principles in our Constitution and Bill of Rights as obsolete. But efforts to pass ECPA reform and the LEADS Act are important not because they would create new rights, but because they would restore the principles of the Fourth Amendment in the face of Internet change.

Drew Clark can be reached via email: [email protected], or on Twitter @drewclark, or at

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Solutions for Your Cloud Computing Struggles

Perhaps it’s a case of unrealistic expectations or simple lack of preparation, but companies that adopt cloud computing are finding that using it is a greater challenge than anticipated. That’s not to take away from the many benefits that the cloud can provide, such as greater enterprise agility and cost savings, but there’s always a chance the cloud can lead to more organizational struggles if not handled correctly. Research from Information Management shows just how widespread the problem is. In that recent study, a shocking 88 percent of organizations that adopted cloud computing ran into at the very least one challenge they hadn’t expected. The challenges and struggles are as varied as the cloud providers themselves, so finding an easy one-size-fits-all solution shouldn’t be the goal. But the solutions are out there. If your company finds itself struggling with your newly adopted cloud, the answers may not be too far away.


Cloud Security Problems

With so much focus placed on recent security breaches involving major corporations over the past few years, it’s no wonder cloud security is such a priority. Cyber criminal tactics continue to evolve, making the task of enhancing cloud security that much more difficult. IT departments in particular are struggling to keep up with the demands surrounding cloud security. A recent survey from the Ponemon Institute and SafeNet shows that 70 percent of IT workers say privacy and data protection in the cloud remains a challenge.

Your company may respond to these problems by limiting use of the cloud, but that may limit the benefits that can be gained from it. A better solution is to closely monitor your software, upgrading and patching it at the first opportunity. Traditional security techniques are often insufficient for dealing with modern security threats. Using your resources to update your security technology in response to changing risks is the best strategy.


Consolidating Cloud Services

There are many ways to adopt cloud computing. Your company may be attracted to Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), among many others. The struggles come when trying to combine different services they’re employing into one efficient operation. You may use Amazon Web Service’s IaaS while also utilizing Salesforce’s SaaS, but getting them to run together may prove difficult. You’re not alone in this regard. A study from Forrester shows that 83 percent of enterprise cloud users have trouble consolidating the multiple cloud services they have. Using public and private clouds in conjunction with each other is another challenge that’s difficult to overcome.

When it comes to working with so many different services, or even simply finding what services would work best for you, going with a cloud management solution may be the best bet. Many companies offer their management services to help businesses get the most out of the cloud with minimal hassle. Solutions like Dell cloud computing can offer portfolios of services and management tools to deal with the most common problems you might face with the cloud. These management services also help to secure and control data while building up a company’s private cloud.


Data Privacy Compliance

Similar to cloud security, managing data privacy in the cloud is a point of emphasis for many organizations. When using multiple cloud services, however, obstacles may arise depending on where those clouds are physically located. Laws and regulations regarding data privacy can change depending on what country or state you’re located in, which can in turn reduce the effectiveness of using cloud computing. The more locations are involved in the equation, the more complex the problem can become, which can lead to lawsuits and other damages should a security breach occur.

Gaining a clear understanding of data protection laws is a necessary step all business have to take when moving to the cloud. Generally speaking, data encryption is the safest way to satisfy most regulations out there, so your company should definitely look into a cloud encryption solution when using a cloud service. Split-key encryption also keeps the data firmly in your control, no matter what cloud provider you end up choosing.

Cloud computing is still a maturing industry, which means growing pains are a near certainty. Many companies struggle to find the best ways to utilize the cloud, and even when successful, it’s usually not without some hurdles along the way. The above examples are some of the most common problems you’ll likely encounter along the journey to fully embracing the cloud. With the right solutions in mind, you’ll be more prepared to take full advantage of the cloud’s benefits while avoiding some of the more serious pitfalls.


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IBM Outlines Profit Plan Focusing on Cloud, Analytics, Security

IBM’s CEO says the company’s plan to revamp its business Relevant Products/Services to shift away from hardware and focus on business analytics, cloud Relevant Products/Services computing, mobile Relevant Products/Services services and security Relevant Products/Services is on track.

In a media briefing ahead of an investor conference in New York on Thursday, Virginia Rometty said the company plans that the new tech markets should make up 40 percent of IBM’s business, or $40 billion, in the next 4 years. That’s up from 13 percent five years ago and 27 percent by the end of this year.

Once the dominant PC-maker known as “Big Blue,” IBM is confronting a sales slump as it struggles to adapt to big changes in the way businesses buy software Relevant Products/Services and other commercial technology. It issued another disappointing earnings report in January, as both revenue and profit fell in the December quarter.

But Rometty said the sales decline has been largely engineered by the company as it restructures its hardware business and sells off less profitable units. Hardware now makes up less than 10 percent of the company, she said.

Looking forward, IBM plans to spend $4 billion to invest in the new areas of focus like data Relevant Products/Services analytics and cloud computing, excluding acquisitions.

It also plans to focus on partnering with other businesses. It pointed to its recent partnership with Apple, once its staunch rival, to develop new mobile software. And last week IBM said it would partner with Japan’s SoftBank Telecom Corp. to develop apps and services with its Watson artificial intelligence unit.

But so far, analysts remain skeptical of the turnaround plan.

“The fall-off in the traditional businesses is dwarfing IBM’s ability to capture Relevant Products/Services new revenue opportunities as the market shifts,” Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi Jr. wrote after the company’s earnings report in January.

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5 Cloud Computing Technology Stock Recommendations

Cloud computing is a recently evolved technology that allows centralized data storage and online access to computer services or resources through remote servers and software networks. Multiple technology companies have started transitioning from IT resources into the cloud and are continuously competing with each other to become the leader in the cloud computing space. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White released a note to investors on February 24 reviewing technology stocks that are “anticipated to more aggressively embrace the Cloud over the next twenty four months with more mission critical applications.” The analyst states that “although the Cloud proved very disruptive for many of the large IT vendors over the past couple of years, [he] believe[s] the better managed companies will be able to successfully make this transition.” Highlights from the report are as follows:

Cisco Systems (CSCO):

Cisco Systems’s transition into the cloud has allowed the company to grow beyond its traditional area of routers and switches. In its latest earnings report on February 11, Cisco saw a 40% increase in its earnings driven by data relevant product and services . Cisco also reported that its Unified Computing System data center platform has been adopted by more than 41,000 customers.

Brian White currently has a Buy rating issued on Cisco Systems with a price target of $33. The analyst highlighted Cisco’s transition into software defined networking (SDN), noting “the trend toward SDN is real and will force the incumbent networking players to change their models, (e.g., Cisco Systems) but this trend will take a long time to play out.”

White explains, “You have got easy comps and a nice product cycle in routing, in switches and in SDN… And you have got a cloud product called Intercloud that is starting to ramp up.” He concluded. “The mantra at Cisco is to become the No. 1 IT company, it’s not to be the No. 1 networking company…So they are rolling out more software, more services with Intercloud and offering a revamp of their switch portfolio with (new) ACI (switches).”

Brian White has rated Cisco systems 12 times since September 2010, earning an 87% success rate recommending the company and a +14.7% average return per recommendation.


During 2014, IBM’s cloud revenue increased by 60% to $7 billion. IBM is scheduled for an investor briefing on February 26 and is expected to discuss its hybrid cloud plans. To put it simply, IBM plans to make all the separate clouds act like one. IBM believes that hybrid cloud arrangements will appeal to many companies, and compel connections between new-wave Web applications with traditional backend computing operations.

Brian White has issued a Buy rating on IBM with a $198 price target, citing “Amongst our mega-cap IT coverage, we believe investors are most concerned with IBM’s transition to the Cloud; however, we believe the company has stepped up the pace of investment in this area and will ultimately make the transition.” During its investor briefing, White “believe[s] IBM must articulate how the company has positioned itself to benefit from key secular trends around cloud computing, Big Data and mobility” in order to assure investors.

Brian White has rated IBM 10 times since September 2013 with a 60% success rate recommending the company and a -1.8% average loss per recommendation.

Oracle (ORCL):

Oracle’s latest earnings report on December 17 showed cloud revenue growth of 45% to $516 million across its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) services. Oracle has been focused on growing its cloud business and it has been showing as the company is getting bigger and its growth rate is accelerating. At the Oracle Value Chain Summit on January 27, Oracle CEO, Mark Hurd, said that within five to six years, he predicts cloud applications will take up 50-60% of the total enterprise application market due to its influence in the speed of development of new functionality, easier implementations and easier upgrades.

Brian White currently has a Buy rating on Oracle with a $48 price target.

He notes, “we believe Oracle is the furthest along amongst the large IT vendors, and we believe the company’s ability to embrace all three layers of the Cloud (in a meaningful way) will prove to be a big differentiator.”

White has rated Oracle 10 times since March 2014, earning an 80% success rate recommending the stock and a +7.7% average return per recommendation.

VMware (VMW):

VMware was later than most company’s in transitioning to the cloud as they were making a large profit with a technology called “server virtualization,” which creates multiple operating systems on a single computer server. The company transitioned to the cloud in 2013 and quickly started developing and distributing its own cloud products. Like IBM, VMware rolled with the idea of hybrid clouds so businesses could use both private and public clouds depending how much security they prefer to have. VMware recently updated its vSphere platform, its core virtualization platform and the foundation on which its cloud service is built on in order to have its hybrid cloud resources available on one combined platform without having to change the internal network or any of the standard customs its customers use.

Brian White currently has a Hold rating on VMware with a price target of $82. In regard to cloud containers, White believes “they will not be as disruptive to the leading virtualization software vendors (e.g., VMware) as the market has feared.”

White has rated VMware 4 times since December 2011 with no positive returns and a -7.7% average loss per recommendation.

Workday (WDAY):

Workday develops and provides cloud applications for finance and human resources and has established itself as one of the fastest-growing businesses in SaaS cloud computing space and Big Data business. The company last reported earnings on February 25, posting subscription revenues of $181.9 million, an increase of 64% from the same period last year. The company’s total revenues were $226.3 million, an increase of 59% from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014.

Brian White has issued a Buy rating on Workday with a price target of $121, noting “In our coverage universe, we believe Workday is best positioned amongst the next generation SaaS vendors.”

White has rated Workday 6 times since August 2014, earning an 83% success rate recommending the company and a +3.1% average return per recommendation.

Overall, Brian White has a 76% success rate recommending stocks and a +21.2% average return per recommendation.

About the author:

TipRanks uses machine learning and language processing algorithms to measure the performance of anyone giving investment advice. With TipRanks you can instantly see the track record and measured performance of any analyst or blogger you come across online going as far back as January 2009, so you know who to trust.

TipRanks gives you the information you need to make better educated investment decisions. TipRanks also lets you search for by stock or expert name, as well as provides a live feed of recommendations made by top ranked experts. You can choose to stay updated with email alerts once a recommendation is released by any expert on any stock.

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CIA claims its Amazon Web Services cloud is at ‘final operational capability’


It was one of the most fascinating battles of 2013: who would win the lucrative CIA cloud computing contract? Two horses were in the race, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and IBM; and it was the former who eventually came out on top despite appeals from the latter.

Now, according to CIA chief information officer Doug Wolfe, the AWS cloud has attained “final operational capability”.

As reported by Enterprise Tech, Wolfe told delegates at an industry event this week the CIA cloud would be “offset” on a private security network, and AWS had “made a big investment” in the project.

The AWS cloud will be unleashed across 17 US intelligence agencies according to the report, with Wolfe noting the CIA was “behind where [they] hoped to be” in terms of cloud adoption.

Wolfe had previously spoken at the Amazon Web Services government symposium in Washington back in June, where he said the AWS cloud would take “a few months to get online in a robust way.” In August, writing for Defense One, Frank Konkel reported the cloud was online.

It’s all a long way away from the argument and counter-argument when AWS and IBM were battling for the contract 18 months ago. AWS was given the decision, despite its proposal costing more than $50m a year than IBM’s.

There was a fair amount of mudslinging from both sides at the time. AWS said IBM had “belatedly” moved into cloud computing yet “does not even register on many leading commercial cloud computing analyses”, while IBM said that “unlike Amazon, IBM has a long history of delivering successful transformational projects like this for the US government.” The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report in which IBM’s complaint was both sustained and rejected, yet noting Amazon’s offer was both “the best value” and a “superior technical solution.”

IBM did lodge an appeal, in which it alleged the procedures used to rank Amazon’s proposal as technically superior were wide of the mark, but it fell on deaf ears in October 2013 when a federal judge ruled against the Armonk firm.

Wolfe defended the decision to award the contract to AWS, praising the vendor for delivering the cloud infrastructure and getting the project up and running in less than 18 months.

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