Hewlett Packard Enterprise recently announced the general availability of Haven OnDemand, a cloud-based machine learning platform capable of performing deep learning analytics on a variety of media including text, audio, image, social, web and video. The ability of Haven OnDemand to perform advanced analytics on structured and unstructured data, in conjunction with its machine learning capabilities, empowers developers to build recommendation engines, create facial recognition applications, detect fraud and build predictive models to forecast the behavior of natural and socio-cultural phenomena. Hosted on Microsoft Azure, the HPE Haven OnDemand boasts 12,750 registered developers and offers 60 APIs and services per the agreement signed between Microsoft and Hewlett Packard Enterprise in December 2015. Importantly, the commercial availability of HPE Haven OnDemand on the Azure platform illustrates the ascendancy of Azure as a computing platform for the enterprise. HPE Haven OnDemand aims to democratize access to machine learning analytics by giving developers access to many of the algorithms and tools used by data scientists to build predictive models across structured and unstructured data. That Azure hosts HPE Haven OnDemand gives developers the added boon of the performance and scalability of the Azure platform, thereby allowing users of the platform to focus on building and iteratively refining analytics in contrast to managing the infrastructure required for their execution.
The key point about Microsoft’s earnings call from last week lies neither in the impressive numbers about growth in operating income and net income or earnings per share, but in the preliminary success of Nadella’s strategy to re-focus Microsoft around cloud technologies and cloud services. The earnings report revealed that revenue from intelligent cloud grew 5% to $6.3B with growth of 10% in cloud services revenue and products related to servers. Azure revenue increased by 140% in conjunction with a threefold growth of Azure premium services revenue, year over year. More than a third of Fortune 500 customers now use Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility suite, which reported year over year growth by a factor of three. To put things in perspective, Intelligent cloud revenue of $6.3B comes close to the $6.7B in revenue that the company reported for Productivity and Business Processes spanning Office 365 and Dynamics revenue. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s annualized revenue run rate is now greater than $9.4B and well on track to achieve the company’s target of $20B. The company’s cloud revenue run rate of $9.4B represents a brisk increase from the $8.2B figure disclosed at its previous earnings call for the quarter ending October 31, 2015. Windows 10 now runs on more than 200 million devices, a sharp increase from the previous quarter that had reported Windows 10 usage on 110 million devices. All this means that, in the space of two years, Nadella has transformed a sluggish company that seemed to be reaching the end of its life span as a tech behemoth qua dinosaur into a company bursting with life, creativity, energy and ideas. The unified simplicity of Nadella’s cloud-first mission has caught the eye of investors and positioned the company to go head to head with Amazon Web Services for ownership of the enterprise cloud services space and cloud market share more generally. Expect more innovation to burst out of Microsoft in upcoming months as it builds on its release of the Azure Stack, consolidates on its release of Windows 10 and continues to catch the attention of the enterprise and consumers alike.
Microsoft Philanthropies recently announced a commitment to donate $1B in “cloud computing resources” to universities and non-profit organizations over the next three years. Microsoft’s pledge of $1B in philanthropy toward the global expansion of cloud computing testifies to CEO Satya Nadella’s vision to ensure the realization of “the public cloud for the public good,” as noted in a blog post. Microsoft Philanthropies aims to donate cloud computing resources to 70,000 non-profits, 900 researchers and over 20 communities in more than 15 countries. In the case of non-profit organizations, Microsoft will donate access to its public cloud, Microsoft Azure, its Enterprise Mobility Suite and CRM online in addition to an expanded roll-out of the Office 365 Nonprofit program. Meanwhile, Microsoft plans to expand access to the Microsoft Azure for Research program which delivers Azure computing resources to help university faculty conduct their research. With respect to the goal of expanding cloud computing access for communities across the world that lack internet connectivity, Microsoft Philanthropies will build on its TV White Spaces project to deliver connectivity for communities in rural Kenya and the Philippines. This three pronged approach on the part of Microsoft Philanthropies to donate cloud computing resources to non-profit organizations, universities and local communities that lack connectivity complements Nadella’s interest in using the public cloud to help governments and NGOs more effectively execute their operational and strategic goals. In his blog post, Nadella cites the implementation of a cloud-based platform for digitizing electronic medical records regarding cataracts in India and the use of cloud-based data to facilitate the disbursement of compensatory payments to earthquake victims in Nepal as examples of the way in which the public cloud can promote the public good. Nadella, here, has hit the nail on the head with respect to the potentialities of the public cloud which, in conjunction with big data technologies, offers limitless opportunities to transform communities and public life, more generally, for the better. The obvious question now is the extent to which Microsoft Philanthropies can identify organizations to seek out its funding to enable the public cloud to contribute to the public good and develop an impressive roster of organizations, researchers and communities that it can showcase as evidence of the power of the public cloud to change the world.
In December, Microsoft acquired Metanautix, a Palo Alto startup founded by Google and Facebook veterans Theo Vassilakis and Toli Lerios that emerged from stealth with $7M in Series A funding in August 2014. Metanautix delivers a SQL interface for querying relational and non-relational datasets that dispenses with the need to integrate disparate data sources. Metanautix’s Quest platform brings the power of distributed computing alongside the simplicity of SQL to enable companies to concurrently ingest, analyze and visualize data from multiple datasets and data repositories. Metanautix’s platform shortens the time between data acquisition and data analysis by helping analysts understand the topography of the data within scope and subsequently enabling SQL queries to run against Hadoop, NoSQL and relational databases. The acquisition bolsters Microsoft’s portfolio of big data analytic tools and promises to fit into Microsoft’s SQL Server and Cortana Analytics Suite. Importantly, Microsoft’s acquisition of Metanautix illustrates the evolution of the concept of the traditional enterprise data warehouse given that platforms such as Metanautix empower customers to obtain 360 degree analytics by means of distributed, SQL-based queries, analytics and data visualizations, without the requirement to integrate and house all data within a single, unified warehouse or repository.
Microsoft and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have partnered to facilitate hybrid cloud computing within the enterprise by means of hardware provided by HPE that enables enterprises to deploy and manage Azure-based private clouds. The cornerstone of the collaboration between Microsoft and HPE features the HPE Hyper-Converged 250 for Microsoft Cloud Platform System Standard appliance, a hyper-converged infrastructure that empowers customers to deploy Windows and Linux-based workloads onto the Azure cloud. The appliance also features an integrated management console that provides insight into the performance of their Azure deployment. HPE will provide assistance with support for hardware and software to accelerate deployment cycles and ensure customers can expeditiously deploy and manage an Azure-based private cloud based on infrastructure within their data centers alongside their public cloud-based Azure deployments. The partnership designates Azure as HP’s preferred public cloud partners whereas correspondingly, Azure designates HP its preferred infrastructure partner for hybrid clouds. The collaboration between HPE and Microsoft underscores the acumen behind Microsoft’s strategic vision for bringing Azure to the enterprise and leveraging its long-standing relationships with enterprise customers to take command of the leadership position in the critical arena of hybrid cloud deployment and management.
On Tuesday, ActiveState announced a partnership with Microsoft Azure that renders the Stackato Platform as a Service available on Azure. Built on Cloud Foundry, Stackato PaaS supports Docker and integrates with a multitude of third party products such as New Relic, Splunk and various database platforms. Stackato’s enterprise-grade PaaS platform enhances the operational agility of developers by delivering a pre-configured, polyglot application development stack based on the open source Cloud Foundry platform. Stackato’s enterprise-grade security and professional services offerings allows customers to leverage the benefits of an open source platform derived from the contributions of developers all over the world, in conjunction with enterprise-grade user management and security functionality. Moreover, Stackato’s support for Docker renders it ideal for the development of distributed applications marked by enhanced portability both at the level of individual and multiple containers. ActiveState’s partnership with Microsoft Azure marks a coup for Stackato given that it is now available on one of the industry’s most popular IaaS platforms. Conversely, Stackato’s availability on Microsoft Azure represents yet another feather in Azure’s cap and a differentiator from Amazon Web Services, which offers only one PaaS on its IaaS platform in the form of Elastic Beanstalk. Azure already features Apprenda as another enterprise-grade PaaS on its platform in a clear sign that it intends to continue to differentiate itself from AWS by supporting a wider range of vendors and third party partnerships. With Apprenda and ActiveState Stackato available on its platform, Azure stands poised to brand itself as the IaaS with the richest set of partnership offerings, particularly in the PaaS space where IaaS and PaaS partnerships continue to proliferate as evinced by the forthcoming availability of both ActiveState Stackato and Apprenda on the Cisco Intercloud Marketplace. Meanwhile, Stackato’s Cloud Foundry-based polyglot PaaS functionality and support for Docker renders it a leader in enterprise PaaS that promises to broaden its reach further by means of its collaboration with Azure.
Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure took the two leadership positions in its latest Magic Quadrant report for Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide. Amazon is the clear market leader and, according to Gartner, claims more than 10 times the computing capacity of the other 14 vendors represented in its Magic Quadrant report. Other vendors represented in the report include Google, Rackspace, IBM SoftLayer and VMware vCloud Air. Gartner estimates that the IaaS space will experience growth of 33% in 2015 and become a $16.5B market globally with an annual growth rate of 29.1% through 2019. In a press release about the report, Gartner noted that “the market for cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is in a state of upheaval, as many service providers are shifting their strategies after failing to gain enough market traction.” The report’s finding that Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure represent the two market leaders means that the rest of the space will need to significantly differentiate their product offerings to flourish in an increasingly competitive space.