This week, Ericsson acquired a majority stake in Apcera, a platform as a service vendor that enables organizations to control how applications are used in cloud computing environments. Apcera’s Continuum platform allows customers to monitor the usage of IT infrastructures, orchestrate application deployment and implement governance and security policies. The acquisition of Apcera promises to enhance the Ericsson platform by delivering cloud automation as well as security, governance and application management functionality that gives users more granular insight about the performance of their infrastructure and its constituent environment. Apcera’s technology takes aim at the rapidly emerging discipline of business processes dedicated to risk management, security and compliance by providing Ericsson customers with enhanced abilities to organize and delineate security and governance protocols as they relate to infrastructure components and applications. The acquisition constitutes a notable feather in Ericsson’s IaaS cap as it builds out its cloud portfolio to serve the needs of enterprise customers, many of whom are compelled to leverage audit, compliance and security protocols to satisfy the requirements of investors and state and federal regulatory agencies.
Amazon Web Services has initiated a massive reboot of EC2 instances in response to a security flaw that the company has yet to identify. AWS has notified customers to expect reboots to instances spanning multiple availability zones and regions. Many sources speculate that the reboot involves a security vulnerability in the open source Xen-108 hypervisor, the security patch for which is currently available via pre-release, embargoed code. Depending on the time zone of the targeted instance, the reboot starts on September 25 or 26 and ends on September 30. Amazon has confirmed that details of a security flaw specific to the Xen hypervisor will be officially released on October 1, but that “following security best practices, the details of this update are embargoed until then.” According to a RightScale blog post, T1, T2, M2, R3, and HS1 instances will not be affected and less than 10% of all EC2 instances will be impacted by the reboot and concomitant security patch. Notably, customers that independently reboot their EC2 instance will not necessarily experience the installation of the requisite security patch on their host machine. The reboot represents one of Amazon’s largest reboots in recent years and has the potential to affect application uptime, although the reboots will be staggered across different availability zones to minimize service disruptions.
CloudBees revealed plans to discontinue its Java Platfom as a Service and focus instead on delivering Jenkins, the continuous integration system, roughly a fortnight ago. As a result, CloudBees will terminate RUN@cloud, its Java PaaS and focus instead on enterprise-grade delivery of Jenkins, the continuous integration platform for software development that streamlines the development, deployment and ongoing operational management of software applications. The CloudBees portfolio now features three products: (1) Jenkins Enterprise, an on premise, enterprise-grade version of the open source continuous integration server; (2) Jenkins Operations, which enables customers to manage multiple deployments of Jenkins; and (3) Dev@cloud, a cloud-based version of the Jenkins platform. CloudBees will assist customers to transition to other PaaS platforms through October 31, 2014, a couple of months in advance of the planned December 2014 discontinuation of RUN@cloud. Meanwhile, CloudBees announced a partnership with Pivotal Software to deliver Jenkins Enterprise on the Pivotal Network by year’s end.
The decision by CloudBees to transition away from PaaS toward continuous integration speaks volumes about the state of the contemporary PaaS landscape, which wrestles with the technological threat posed by Docker, whose containers enable portability across application stacks and environments in ways that resemble the preconfigured environments of PaaS platforms. As former AppFog CEO Lucas Carlson points out, however, there are notable differences between Docker and PaaS, and another reason for increased competition in the PaaS space involves the prominence of Cloud Foundry, stewarded by Pivotal. The bottom line is that the PaaS space is experiencing an exciting and profound transformation whereby only the most nimble, visionary and strategic vendors are likely to survive as the market goes through a shakeout in the wake of a redefinition of the very concept of the “platform,” as Carlson notes in a blog post. Carlson’s polyglot PaaS AppFog was acquired by CenturyLink in June 2013.
Earlier this month, Informatica announced 60 day free trials of Informatica Big Data Edition for Cloudera QuickStart VM and the Hortonworks Sandbox. The 60 day trial means that the Informatica Big Data Edition will be pre-installed in the sandbox environments of two of the leading Hadoop distributions in the Big Data marketplace today. Developers using the Cloudera QuickStart VM and Hortwonworks Sandbox now have streamlined access to Informatica’s renowned big data cleansing, data integration, master data management and data visualization tools. The code-free, graphical user interface-based Informatica Big Data Edition allows customers to create ETL and data integration workflows as well as take advantage of the hundreds of pre-installed parsers, transformations, connectors and data quality rules for Hadoop data processing and analytics. The Informatica Big Data platform specializes in Hadoop profiling, parsing, cleansing, loading, enrichment, transformation, integration, analysis and visualization and reportedly improves developer productivity five-fold by means of its automation and visual interface built on the Vibe virtual data machine.
Although the Informatica Big Data Edition supports MapR and Pivotal Hadoop distributions, the free 60 day trial is currently available only for Cloudera and Hortonworks. Informatica’s success in seeding its Big Data Edition with Cloudera and Hortonworks increases the likelihood that developers will explore and subsequently use its Big Data Edition platform as a means of discovering and manipulating Big Data sets. As such, Informatica’s Big Data Edition competes with products like Trifacta that similarly facilitate the manipulation, cleansing and visualization of Big Data by means of a code free user interface that increases analyst productivity and accelerates the derivation of actionable business intelligence. On one hand, the recent proliferation of Big Data products that allow users to explore Big Data without learning the intricacies of MapReduce democratizes access to Hadoop–based datasets. That said, the ability of graphical user interface-driven Big Data discovery and manipulation platforms to enable the granular identification of data anomalies, exceptions and eccentricities that may otherwise become obscured by large-scale trend analysis remains to be seen.
Base, the CRM that leverages real-time data and analytics, recently announced the release of a bevy of new features and functionality that brings real-time, Big Data analytics to cloud-based sales productivity management. Base’s proprietary technology aggregates data from sources such as phone calls, in person meetings, social network-based prospects and news feeds and subsequently produces real-time notifications to sales professionals. As a result, sales teams can minimize their manual input of sales-related data and instead take advantage of the analytic and data visualization capabilities of the Base platform. The Base platform testifies to a qualitative shift within the CRM space marked by the delivery of enhanced automation to sales operations workflows resulting from the conjunction of real-time data, predictive analytics and data visualization. Uzi Shmilovici, CEO of Base, remarked on the positioning of Base within the larger CRM landscape as follows:
Base picks up where other CRMs have left off. Until now, legacy cloud Sales and CRM products like Salesforce have been accepted as ‘the norm’ by the enterprise market. However, recent advancements in big data, mobility and real-time computing reveal a need for a new generation of intelligent sales software that offers flexibility, visibility, and real-time functionality. If you’re using outdated technology that cannot adapt to the advanced needs of modern day sales teams, your competition will crush you.
Here, Shmilovici comments on the way in which big data, real-time analytics and the proliferation of mobile devices have precipitated the creation of a new class of sales applications that outstrip the functionality of “legacy cloud Sales and CRM products like Salesforce.” In a phone interview with Cloud Computing Today, Shmilovici elaborated on the ability of the Base platform to aggregate disparate data sources to produce rich, multivalent profiles of sales prospects that augment the ability of sales teams to convert leads into qualified sales. Base’s ability to enhance sales operations by means of data-driven analytics are illustrated by the screenshot below:
The graphic above illustrates the platform’s ability to track sales conversions at the level of individual sales professionals as well as sales managers or owners within a team. VPs of Sales can customize analytics regarding the progress of their teams to enable enhanced talent and performance management in addition to gaining greater visibility as to where the market poses its stiffest challenges. More importantly, however, Base delivers a veritable library of customized analytics that illustrates a prominent use case for the convergence of cloud computing, real-time analytics and Big Data technologies. As such, the success of the platform will depend on its ability to continue enhancing its algorithms and analytics while concurrently enriching the user experience that remains integral to the daily experience of sales teams.
AppFirst recently revealed an enterprise-grade version of its monitoring platform for applications and infrastructures. The AppFirst platform takes its place in the realm of “appops” applications that provide analytics and performance optimization services not only with respect to servers and virtual machines, but also regarding application performance and its intersection with infrastructure. The AppFirst platform creates a time series that enhances the insight had by application owners and IT administrators regarding application and infrastructure performance. Based on the theory that you cannot control what you cannot see, AppFirst aims to expand the capture of events such as “every application call, system event, log file entry, configuration change, third party application or custom code event, and data from thousands of plug-ins.” The AppFirst platform delivers a sub-millisecond timeline of events that it subsequently transforms into actionable business intelligence as illustrated below:
The graphic above illustrates topologies and interdependencies within an environment that morph as the infrastructure and constituent applications themselves change in relation to incoming data feeds and user behavior. Importantly, AppFirst introduces little to no latency to existing applications and can operate within on premise, cloud and hybrid infrastructures via an unobtrusive installation. In conjunction with the news of this week’s release, AppFirst also revealed a partnership with Accretive that enables it to deliver predictive analytics regarding the Big Data collected by its platform with respect to application and infrastructure performance. The partnership with Accretive empowers AppFirst customers to identify trends related to analytics such as cost, performance, types of users and resource consumption. The key point worth noting about AppFirst’s technology platform, however, is the granularity of the data collected by its proprietary data aggregation technology that, in conjunction with its data visualization functionality, and predictive analytics, deliver a degree of insight into application and infrastructure performance not provided by vendors who limit their scope to machine data analytics. Moreover, AppFirst’s ability to manage on premise, public and private cloud environments renders it a key player within the space of platforms dedicated to monitoring infrastructure and application performance in hybrid cloud environments.
Larry Ellison resigned on Thursday as CEO of Oracle after a 37 year stint as the head of the company that he founded in 1977. Ellison, 70, will be replaced by CEO Mark Hurd and CEO Safra Catz. Hurd will take responsibility for sales and marketing whereas Catz will run finance, legal and manufacturing. Meanwhile, Oracle’s Board of Directors elected Ellison Executive Chairman of the Board and CTO. Jeff Henley will serve as Vice Chairman of the Board after serving as Chairman for the last ten years. The reconfigured leadership structure preserves the triumvirate of Ellison, Hurd and Catz but creates an uncommon scenario whereby the company has two CEOs. Ellison leaves Oracle after leading the company to a staggering $185 billion valuation and acquiring a personal net worth of $51 billion as reported in Forbes. Given that software, hardware and engineering will continue to be under Ellison’s purview, the implications for Oracle’s cloud and big data strategy are likely to be minimal.
Oracle Board’s Presiding Director, Dr. Michael Boskin, commented on Ellison’s decision to step down as CEO as follows:
Larry has made it very clear that he wants to keep working full time and focus his energy on product engineering, technology development and strategy. Safra and Mark are exceptional executives who have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to lead, manage and grow the company. The Directors are thrilled that the best senior executive team in the industry will continue to move the company forward into a bright future.
Ellison’s continued influence and responsibility over technology strategy suggests that the decision may well have been motivated by a desire to retain the talent of Safra and Hurd in order to pre-empt lateral moves they might have considered making in the industry. In 2008, Ellison famously compared cloud computing to a fad that would pass and termed it “complete gibberish,” claiming that the “computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-drive than women’s fashion.” Since then, however, Ellison has completely reversed his position and embraced a number of cloud-based acquisitions and product roll-outs. That said, Oracle still has the cash to make a major cloud infrastructure acquisition analogous to Cisco’s acquisition of Metacloud or HP’s purchase of Eucalyptus, although this is something we still might see given Oracle’s enviable cash position.