August 8, 2011
Volume XXXVI, Issue 2
Pres. Obama Names Steven VanRoekel as Federal CIO
Excerpted from Digital Media Wire Report by Rich Scherr
Six weeks after Vivek Kundra announced plans to step down as the nation's first federal CIO, President Obama on Thursday named former Microsoft executive Steven VanRoekel as his replacement.
VanRoekel currently serves as Executive Director of Citizen and Organizational Engagement at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and previously was Managing Director of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He earlier spent 15 years at Microsoft.
If confirmed by Congress, VanRoekel would take over a key role in the White House, directing the policy and planning of federal information technology (IT) investments and overseeing federal IT spending.
Kundra in June announced plans to depart for a fellowship at Harvard University. He is scheduled to leave in mid-August.
TV Stations Need to Stream Their Signals Now
Excerpted from TVNewsCheck Report by Preston Padden
Television stations need to begin streaming their live signals, and to offer streams of past programs, before the future passes them by. The first steps are to fashion a business model and secure the necessary rights from broadcast networks. It's in the networks' interest to extend those rights to affiliates, which are still the strongest distribution platform around.
Streaming video is a big part of today's television experience and it will only get bigger. It concerns me to see the streaming phenomenon grow without the full participation of TV stations. To be blunt, I worry that local stations could miss out on the future of television.
The broadcast networks have jumped on the streaming bandwagon with their own ".com" sites and through deals with Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and others. That is great, but what about their traditional station partners? Some networks, like ABC, allow local stations to sell some of the ads in network streams to viewers in the station's local market. And some stations stream their local news. Unfortunately, these laudable, but fragmented, streaming initiatives are not the same as streaming the station's entire signal.
The questions are how to fashion a business model and how to secure the necessary rights.
Let's start with how not to get there. Some advocates for stations have tried to make two particularly unpersuasive legal arguments.
First they argue that historical affiliation agreements between networks and stations already confer streaming rights to the affiliates. But, the basic grant of "first call" program rights in most of these agreements dates back to a time when the only "streams" around were those with trout in them.
The second ill-considered argument is that the cable compulsory copyright license somehow confers on affiliates the right to stream all the programs on their schedule. The Copyright Office has soundly rejected this argument. In my opinion, the time spent on arguments like these is time wasted as streaming becomes entrenched everywhere except on TV stations.
My suggestion is that instead of advancing strained legal arguments, stations should develop credible streaming business models and then engage in good-faith negotiations with their program suppliers, including the networks, to secure the necessary rights. Geo-location technology, like Syncbak, is available to appropriately limit a local station's streams to its DMA. But stations first need to negotiate for the rights. And, the sooner the better.
If I were running a station, I would negotiate for exclusive live streaming rights for all of my programming. Then viewers in my market (including those who don't subscribe to cable or satellite) could watch my station live on their iPads, Android tablets, smart-phones, and other devices, without needing to fight for the inclusion of VSB receivers in these devices, which is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
In addition to exclusive live streaming rights, I would negotiate for non-exclusive streaming rights in the programs on my schedule subsequent to their live broadcasts. It is perfectly fine that the networks offer after-broadcast streams on their own ".com" sites and authorize Hulu, Amazon, and others to do the same. But stations with credible business models should be able to offer consumers the same after-broadcast streaming opportunity on a non-exclusive basis.
If I were running a network, I would want my affiliates to participate in the streaming revolution. Stations are the strongest distribution platform in television - by a wide margin.
Assuming that stations can develop streaming business models that generate revenue for their networks, it would serve the best interests of the networks to keep this great partnership going into the streaming future.
Unless I am missing something, there is the potential for a real "win-win-win" here for stations, networks, and viewers. Unfortunately, there is also the potential for stations to miss out on the streaming future of television. That would be a crying shame.
Report from CEO Marty Lafferty
This is our final call for speakers to participate in the DCIA's CONTENT IN THE CLOUD (CITC) session at Streaming Media West (SMW) taking place November 7th-9th in Los Angeles, CA.
We commend Dan Rayburn and the entire SMW team for planning a terrific conference this year that will cover the entire online video ecosystem, from content creation and management to monetization and distribution.
With more than 100 speakers and 30 sessions, SMW will provide vital and immediately applicable business information. At SMW, nearly 75% of the speakers are customers who are buying and deploying relevant products and services right now.
CITC at SMW follows our standing room only (SRO) 2011 CONTENT IN THE CLOUD sessions this year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show, and Digital Media Conference (DMC).
DCINFO readers wishing to speak on CITC at SMW are urged to contact us directly (410-476-7965 or firstname.lastname@example.org). We are particularly interested in content rights-holder customers of cloud solutions providers. We have already lined-up an excellent core group of speakers and would like to finalize panelists this week.
Below is a sampling of confirmed sessions at this fall's SMW that promise to be of particular interest to distributed computing industry participants.
Cloud Demos: Amazon CloudFront and Windows Azure - With no up-front expenses and no long-term commitment, both Amazon's CloudFront platform and Microsoft's Windows Azure platform enable you to pay only for the resources you use, and it's simple to configure both of them within minutes to store and deliver your content and applications. In this session, you'll see how they both work and learn how to use them.
The Impact of Carrier Based CDNs on Video Delivery - This panel will discuss the CDN plans and implementations of major North American carriers for delivering video to the last-mile. Topics will include the technologies, economics and product offerings that make carrier CDNs compelling and how they may disrupt the traditional CDN model. Panelists will provide updates on their companies' strategies, perspective on the market and unique relationships their companies can forge with content owners and other partners.
Best Practices for Live Streaming - Producers are taking advantage of new technologies, workflows, and production methods to create successful live events. This session will discuss the entire webcasting workflow, including how to get the video signal from the site to end user; how to build an audience; when to use multi-bit rate streaming; strategies to consider for reaching mobile devices, and how to leverage social media platforms. Presenters on this session are the ones in the trenches, producing some of the live events you see on the web today.
Connected Device Demos -As the number of broadband-enabled devices and platforms invading the living room continues to grow, lots of questions remain about their capabilities. In this session, company executives from some of the leading device companies will demo their latest TV platforms and devices. Attendees will see these devices and platforms in action, learn which content is available on them, and get their questions answered in a Q&A session.
How To: Encoding For Adaptive Streaming - This seminar identifies the most relevant adaptive streaming technologies and details the most critical factors for comparing them. Next, the seminar details how to choose the ideal number of streams and key encoding parameters. Then it provides an overview of options for encoding and serving the streams, and closes by describing techniques for serving multiple target platforms like Flash and iDevices with one set of encoded H.264 files.
Simplifying the Multi-Format Video Workflow - A variety of streaming formats-Silverlight, Flash, HLS, WebM-is generally required to serve the multitude of screens through which content is consumed. Each format can include separate workflows, storage components, and strategies. Network-based media processing offers an increasingly popular approach to simplifying these workflows. How does packaging of media elements in the network (versus on the encoder) work? What are the benefits? What additional features are possible with network packaging (DRM, CAS, ad insertion)? Does this approach work for both small and large operations? In this session, we'll answer these questions and hear various approaches to this new workflow methodology.
Please get in touch now if you're interested in participating in CONTENT IN THE CLOUD at Streaming Media West as a speaker: 410-476-7965 or email@example.com. Share wisely, and take care.
In Deal with NBC, Amazon Seeks to Widen Its Video Streaming Service
Excerpted from NY Times Report by Brian Stelter
Amazon, the online retailing giant, announced a deal with NBC Universal for access to part of Universal Pictures' film library on Thursday, its second such pact in the streaming video space in as many weeks.
The attention around its content acquisitions suggests a budding rivalry with Netflix and a strategy of stocking up on films and TV shows for the tablet computer that the company is developing. Much like Apple, Amazon wants to have an assortment of content available for owners of the forthcoming device.
The NBC deal gives Amazon non-exclusive access to films like "Elizabeth," "Babe," and "Billy Elliott."
Last week, Amazon and CBS announced a similar deal that lets Amazon stream about 2,000 episodes of older TV shows like "The Tudors" and "Medium."
In both cases the content is available through Amazon Prime, a $79-a-year membership service that gives buyers free two-day shipping. The five-month-old streaming service is available at no additional cost for members.
Amazon is just one of the Internet companies that is seeking to compete more directly with Netflix, which has about 25 million subscribers, many of whom stream films and TV shows, but which may look vulnerable this summer and fall as it imposes a price increase for some subscribers.
Netflix acknowledged in its earnings letter to shareholders this week that both Amazon and Hulu Plus, the subscription arm of Hulu, are in the marketplace, but noted that it has "vastly more streaming content" than Amazon and has many more customers than either service.
"So far, we haven't detected an impact on our business from Amazon Prime," the letter from Netflix stated.
For media companies, the suitors are welcome. At the time of the Amazon-CBS deal, Anthony DiClemente of Barclays Capital said that he believed CBS was in talks with other online distributors for similar deals, citing Microsoft, Facebook, and Google, which owns YouTube, as potential partners.
Given that multiple online distributors are bidding for such content, "we remain of the belief that digital media distribution is an incremental boon to core film/TV studio economics, as media content owners like CBS continue to benefit from the simple laws of supply and demand," Mr. DiClemente wrote in an analyst note.
Zaslav Says Discovery's Talking to Streamers
Excerpted from Broadcasting & Cable Report by Jon Lafayette
Discovery Communications might finally be ready to make some of its programs available digitally.
During Thursday's conference call to discuss the company's second-quarter earnings, CEO David Zaslav said Discovery is talking to the Netflixes and Amazons of the world that are starting to shell out serious money for content they can stream to subscribers.
"We sat out the use of our long-form content on the web because the economics weren't there," Zaslav said. Discovery now puts only clips from its shows online. Discovery also has said it supports TV Everywhere, but hasn't made any deals with distributors to put shows on laptops, tablets, or smart-phones. But things are changing.
"There's probably never been a better time to be in the content business, particularly when you own your content. We have a 20-year library. We've converted it into HD and digitized it. And a lot of that is content that really works and has a long life. So the good news for us is that we own all of our content," he said. "And for the first time, in terms of older windows, there were a number of players out there that are interested in offering that content in different ways, whether it's Netflix, Amazon, or Google. Wal-Mart announced the other day that they are starting a service. And so all of that, directionally, is an opportunity for us."
Zaslav said that Discovery is working through getting the right value for its content when it does a deal with a streaming distributor. "It's very encouraging to have a number of new players out there that are looking to offer existing content to consumers and that the consumers are starting to like the opportunity, to consume it. So for us, we think it's good, and we continue - we're talking to all of them, and we'll continue to talk to them," he said.
Another new technology is developing more slowly that Discovery had hoped: 3D.
"The good news for us is that we've gotten a lot of experience with it. If it transitions into a technology where you don't use glasses and it becomes robust, we'll be there," Zaslav said, adding, "there are a number of markets where distributors feel like they need to hedge, even though the consumer demand isn't significant yet, that from a brand perspective it's important for them to have 3D or be a leader in 3D. And so the fact that we have it is important."
The Best of Both Worlds: Making Online Video and TV Work Together
Excerpted from Online Video Insider Report by Brian Mandelbaum
Many of my agency colleagues, already knee-deep in planning for 2012, have asked for advice on how to think about online video. What's interesting is that these inquiries are coming from both the digital and broadcast realm, highlighting the sea-change that is upon us: the online and offline worlds are truly converging.
Video has become the nexus point for this merger, because in-stream video advertising is the primary focus of an audience's attention, much like TV, except with the targeting and interactive capabilities of rich-media display. The next logical step is to ask: How does one plan a video campaign taking into account TV investment and reach?
Think about aggregate gross rating points (GRPs). GRPs are a divisive subject in the online video world, but despite what the pundits say, the currency of the TV world is not going anywhere anytime soon. This is why it's important to think about GRPs when planning a campaign, with certain caveats.
Consider your buy at total target audience and think about combined reach instead of looking at TV and Digital separately. Understand if you are getting the optimal reach for your target audience by working with video partners and platforms that give you the ability to consider both your video audience and TV audience with an unduplicated reach and frequency. When planning, always be wary of combining multiple datasets from multiple platforms. Pulling differently defined data points from more than one platform can give you a misread on your true reach and frequency.
Understand what you're purchasing. While the lower CPMs of in-banner and in-text video ads can be alluring, both the content and the audience behaviors are drastically different. This is why many publishers aggregate their videos to a separate video page within their portal. Simply put, in-stream is the primary focus of the consumer. Due to banner blindness, in-banner inventory can drastically lose value depending on where it is placed. While it can be an inexpensive and useful means of increasing reach, you tend to get what you pay for.
Capitalize on creative formats that promote engagement. One of the major differences between in-stream video and traditional TV is the abundance of creative formats and interactive capabilities that drive engagement. Use these interactive techniques to enhance that 15- to 30-second spot. Data collected from these interactive capabilities can help you learn what audiences engage with - and, more importantly, where you might find incremental "earned media." Using this data, apply display thinking to your in-stream campaigns.
Target, measure, and optimize. Use the tools of the web to your advantage. Target, measure, and optimize your buys according to your campaign objectives utilizing real-time data. Focus your targeting on in-stream video. Use retargeting as a complementary overlay to the stream, but always remember that content and context drive consumer engagement. Behaviors can differ drastically from in-page to in-stream.
During your campaign, measure and optimize repeatedly. Make use of the various metrics and measuring tools including more advanced tools, such as in-stream surveys. Additionally, you should learn which audiences are engaging with your creative and those who are not, but be wary of placing too much significance on display metrics like CTR. Video is still primarily a branding vehicle, so invest more heavily where you see brand lift.
Respect the new medium. The most important aspect to remember when planning an in-stream campaign is that online video is neither simply an extension of TV nor Display. It is its own unique medium that deserves to be respected, studied, and understood. Take note of the subtle and overt differences when you plan and use all of its capabilities to make your campaign truly succeed.
"A Lonely Place for Dying" a Smash-Hit on BitTorrent
Excerpted from TorrentFreak Report
VODO, the BitTorrent-powered distribution network for independent films, has released a few dozen high-quality movies in the past year but last month saw the premiere of a particularly important title.
Cold War spy thriller "A Lonely Place for Dying" boasts James Cromwell as Executive Producer, a Hollywood veteran with movies such as "LA Confidential," "The Green Mile," and "Secretariat" under his belt.
But the talent doesn't stop there. With actor Michael Wincott on board ("The Crow," "The Assassination of Richard Nixon," not to mention appearances in dozens of other movies and videogame "Halo2") and first-time Director Justin Eugene Evans, the seeds to a great movie had been planted.
On July 1st 2011 those creative seeds were converted to BitTorrent seeds courtesy of VODO and part one of the movie was released out into the wild. Now, just over one month later, "A Lonely Place for Dying" is proving a smash hit online.
At the time of writing it has climbed to 3rd position in the VODO charts after amassing more than 1 million official downloads. Only "Pioneer One" and "Zenith" have achieved more in total but both have been available for several months already and in multiple episodes.
"Achieving over one million downloads on VODO in one month has exceeded our wildest expectations," director Justin Eugene Evans told TorrentFreak.
In addition to huge download stats, for the last couple of weeks "A Lonely Place for Dying" has also been the best-seeded movie available on BitTorrent worldwide, even beating the likes of "Source Code" and "X-Men First Class."
Savtira Selects Vivicast as Content Aggregator for Internet TV
Savtira Corporation, a new provider of B2B e-commerce solutions, announced the Savtira Cloud Commerce platform will include Internet TV channels. Savtira selected Vivicast Media, a leader in linear content for multiple platforms, as the company's content aggregator for subscription-based Internet channels.
Savtira's Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Cloud Commerce solution covers both digital and physical goods, using e-commerce to sell everything from downloadable entertainment programs to consumer electronics. All Savtira eStores are branded and custom-tailored for Savtira clients so that no two eStores are alike. The new arrangement with Vivicast allows Savtira to deliver a suite of subscription linear channels to multiple user devices like tablets and smart-phones. Vivicast has distribution rights to networks ranging from full-time 3D, music, professional sports and unique lifestyle channels to varied and robust packages of international programming.
"Consumers today want to view all types of content instantly on any device. We are thrilled with the prospect of offering subscription Internet TV stations on our platform, significantly broadening our catalog of Internet radio, games, eBooks, audiobooks, software, and other digital content," said Timothy Roberts, CEO of Savtira.
"Vivicast is proud to assist Savtira with licensing of premium Internet TV channels for the Savtira Cloud Commerce platform. Savtira's SaaS platform is an innovative B2B offering that will further expand the audience and revenue potential for Vivicast partners," said Stuart Smitherman, President of Vivicast.
Rethinking Distributed Computing
Excerpted from CTO Edge Report by Mike Vizard
One of the fundamental issues with distributed computing has been that in order to scale any application, it generally requires the addition of another server. But deploying that server obviously takes a fair amount of time to provision, which tends to make distributed computing a little cumbersome.
A new start-up called Translattice wants to make that scalability issue a thing of the past with a new platform that scales simply by adding another server node that is dynamically discovered and provisioned by the operating environment.
According to Translattice CTO Michael Lyle, the Translattice Application Platform 2.0 can span 20 nodes, each of which can consist of a processor with 12 cores. The platform then manages all the application workloads that are distributed across all the nodes in the system, which IT organizations can add as they see fit whenever they need to add more capacity.
To accomplish that goal, the Translattice system is homogenous in that it comes with a relational database, application server, storage and load balancing tools all tightly integrated within the system, as opposed to requiring IT organizations to acquire and manage what Lyle says should be seen as components of a system rather than standalone products.
Lyle says the real problem with distributed computing as we know it today is that it is unsustainable. The complexity of managing the overall environment not only adds costs in terms of the amount of labor required to manage it, but the platforms themselves are not truly elastic. These issues, says Lyle, ultimately serve to hamper the deployment of true cloud computing environments because the servers running the applications today can scale up but not out. As such, distributed servers as we know them today are elastic only to a point.
It's too early to say whether Translattice will unseat the likes of IBM, Oracle, and Hewlett-Packard. But the Translattice Application Platform is indicative of where distributed computing systems are headed along with the future of IT management.
Top 10 States with the Fastest Internet Speeds
Excerpted from Huffington Post Report by Cooper Smith
As part of a study conducted between January and June 2011, Pando Networks, a company that provides online "content delivery solutions," examined which states possess the fastest Internet speeds and download completion rates.
By tracking the downloads of 4 million users across the United States, Pando Networks' data found that each state is not equal, at least in terms of Internet connectivity speed.
"The most striking findings were the core differences among the average speeds on a state-by-state basis," reported Pando Networks in its "Nationwide ISP and Network Study." "The data indicates that the fastest state was almost three times faster than the slowest."
On a regional scale, the Mid-Atlantic region contains eight of the ten fastest states. On the other hand, the West coast has three states in the top 15. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the rural Midwest and Mountain-West states represent nine of the ten slowest states overall. Pando Networks suspects that widespread populations and a lower demand for high-speed infrastructure could be the underlying reason for slow connectivity in middle-America.
Unlike Pando Networks, which found Rhode Island to be the fastest state in terms of Internet speed, Akamai Technologies conducted a similar study as part of its quarterly "State of the Internet" report, and determined that Delaware boasted the quickest web connection. Akamai's study also analyzed global data, which found South Korea boasted the world's fastest Internet speeds.
Earlier this year, the FCC launched 'The National Broadband Map', to help residents identify the fastest Internet service providers (ISPs) in their region. It's worth checking out if you are in the market for an ISP upgrade.
Lastly, it's important to note that broadband is no longer a luxurious alternative to dial-up, but rather an essential asset for many professionals. Wall street traders know the telecom speed game better than anyone, but more businesses are realizing the benefits that come with using a reliable and fast Internet connection.
Telcos Need to Rethink Their Cloud Strategies
Excerpted from Telecom TV Report
Informa has been tracking the activities of 90 telcos worldwide to try and identify their cloud strategies. Despite over $8 billion already invested in physical assets, principally data centers, there is concern over investment strategy - where's the money going, what's the end-game and where's the financial return?
Camille Mendler, Principal Analyst at Informa, questions the lack of differentiation by telcos, which so far appear to be adopting similar approaches and offering only basic commodity services.
A better approach, she argues, would be to focus on specific vertical communities, which have their own unique sets of requirements and which are prepared to pay a little more for this attention.
The alternative is price differentiation, which won't help any of them. Telcos need to act now if they are to realize their ambitious profit targets for cloud services.
Please click here to view this video report.
Huawei Moves into the Cloud
Excerpted from China Daily Report by Shen Jingting
Huawei launched its first mobile phone offering cloud-based services on Wednesday, joining other Chinese companies including Alibaba and Baidu in the move to apply cloud computing technology to smart-phones.
Huawei Device, the terminal branch of the world's No 2 telecommunication equipment maker Huawei Technologies, launched a 3.7-inch touch-screen mobile phone called "Vision" in its cloud phone global launch ceremony in Beijing on Wednesday.
The handset runs on the Android 2.3 operating system and is connected to Huawei's cloud platform. The cloud reserves 160 gigabytes (GB) of storage for every Huawei cloud phone user, and it can wirelessly push applications, music, photos and documents to users' devices automatically.
The service is similar to Apple's iCloud for iPhone users, which was introduced in June at Apple's annual developer summit. Apple said it plans to launch the service in September.
It appears that some Chinese companies, such as Alibaba and Shenzhen-based Yulong Technologies, which makes Coolpad smart-phones, acted ahead of their foreign competitors in producing cloud-based smart-phones.
Alibaba launched its first smart-phone on July 28th, using an internally developed operating system known as Aliyun. The handset provides cloud-based services, with 100 GB storage for each user.
Yulong, which analysts described as a Chinese smart-phone maker with an unusually strong research and development ability, was presenting cloud phones as early as the beginning of this year.
China's Internet search engine giant Baidu has also hinted it could be developing a mobile operating system that allows smart-phone users to perform a wide range of online activities through its web browser. "All the moves can only bring long-term strategic benefits for those Chinese companies, as the current Chinese telecom network cannot fully support the function of cloud-based mobile phones," Lu Libin, an analyst with Beijing-based research firm Analysys International, said.
Lu pointed out that customers can't fully enjoy the convenience of cloud phones unless the wireless networks provide a faster speed.
"We should wait for the 4G era to see the maturation of cloud-based smart-phones," Lu added.
Sun Kai, telecom analyst with research firm GFK, said the cloud-based phones are suited to use in first- and second-tier cities, where 3G networks and WiFi hotspots are generally built up, but it isn't worthwhile for rural residents to buy an expensive cloud phone.
Huawei said its cloud-based smart-phones will hit the Chinese market as soon as September, but declined to reveal the price.
The company is drawing on the popularity of the "2011 Italian Supercoppa," with huge numbers of Chinese soccer fans, in the hope of promoting its cloud-computing smart-phones.
Huawei invested about $15.4 million to become the sole sponsor of the soccer match between the two top Italian teams - AC Milan and Inter Milan - held in Beijing's iconic Olympics stadium, the Bird's Nest, on August 6th.
"We hope Huawei Vision will sell more than 1 million units in China by the end of this year," Victor Xu, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of Huawei Device, told China Daily.
He added the handset is targeting "young social networkers".
First-half revenue of Huawei Device reached $4.2 billion, up 64% year-on-year.
The company shipped 72 million mobile phones in the same period, a 40% increase.
Intel Invests $30 Million in the Future of Cloud Computing
Aimed at shaping the future of cloud computing and how increasing numbers of everyday devices will add computing capabilities, Intel Labs announced the latest Intel Science and Technology Centers (ISTC) both headquartered at Carnegie Mellon University.
These centers represent the next $30 million installment of Intel's recently announced 5-year, $100 million ISTC program to increase university research and accelerate innovation in a handful of key areas. As with previously announced ISTCs for visual computing and secure computing, the new centers encourage tighter collaboration between university thought leaders and Intel. To encourage further collaboration, the ISTCs use open IP models with results publicly available through technical publications and open-source software releases.
"These new ISTCs are expected to open amazing possibilities," said Justin Rattner, Intel Chief Technology Officer (CTO). "Imagine, for example, future cars equipped with embedded sensors and microprocessors to constantly collect and analyze traffic and weather data. That information could be shared and analyzed in the cloud so that drivers could be provided with suggestions for quicker and safer routes."
The ISTC forms a new cloud computing research community that broadens Intel's "Cloud 2015" vision with new ideas from top academic researchers, and includes research that extends and improves on Intel's existing cloud computing initiatives.
The center combines top researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of California Berkeley, Princeton University, and Intel. The researchers will explore technology that will have has important future implications for the cloud, including built-in application optimization, more efficient and effective support of big data analytics on massive amounts of online data, and making the cloud more distributed and localized by extending cloud capabilities to the network edge and even to client devices.
In the future, these capabilities could enable a digital personal handler via a device wired into your glasses that sees what you see, to constantly pull data from the cloud and whisper information to you during the day - telling you who people are, where to buy an item you just saw, or how to adjust your plans when something new comes up.
Apple Opens iCloud Beta Ahead of Fall Debut
Excerpted from Moco News Report by Tom Krazit
It's still the middle of the summer but Apple has gone ahead and opened up its iCloud service, due this fall, as a beta for developers and a few lucky consumers to kick the tires. Early reviews suggest that Apple continues to bring the iOS design aesthetic to the other parts of its arsenal, but the true test will come when Apple opens the service to the general public and crosses its fingers that it hasn't produced another MobileMe.
A sign-in page appeared at iCloud.com late Monday afternoon, and the door will open for those with an Apple Developer account as well as certain iOS users who might have used the Find My iPhone feature or previous MobileMe account holders, according to various reports.
As expected, the service comes with browser-based hooks into former MobileMe Web services like Mail and Calendar, confirming Apple's reassurance that it would let users access their mail through any browser after reports surfaced that it had something else in mind.
Apple also revealed the pricing structure for the service. Users will get 5GBs of online storage for free when they sign up for the service, but additional storage can be purchased: 10GBs of additional storage will cost $20 a year, 20GBs of additional storage will cost $40 a year, and 50GBs will cost $100 a year. Unlike MobileMe, the basic iCloud service will be free, and will allow iOS users to back up their applications and data to Apple's data centers and access that information from any computer or other iOS device that they own.
Apple's also hoping that iCloud won't resemble MobileMe in one key aspect: reliability. The relaunch of MobileMe in July 2008 was a disaster, with servers melting down and important parts of the service shaky for weeks as Apple struggled to fix the issues.
One big difference this time around is that Apple has invested billions in a new data center in North Carolina that should give it more capacity to throw at the iCloud launch, but the first few weeks of the new service will still be a test for a company that hasn't always shown the same attention to detail and craftsmanship on the Web that it brings to its products.
Several blogs and other reports were able to obtain screenshots of the new applications, such as 9to5Mac.com and TechCrunch. GigaOM also posted a walk-through of the basic web applications in the new beta.
How Cloud Computing Will Change the Way You Do Business
Excerpted from Smart Business Network Report by Ben Grele
You may not know it yet, but cloud computing is going to change the way you do business.
Gone will be the days of provisioning hardware and software, creating space to house them, doing data backup and paying for maintenance. Instead, companies are paying a monthly fee and having that all done for them, says Ben Grele, director of the IT services practice group at Burr Pilger Mayer.
"You could compare cloud computing to a utility such as electricity, where no one is running a generator to power their business," says Grele. "Yet everyone expects that when they flip a switch, the light comes on. Cloud computing offers that same value proposition, where all you do is log in and off you go. You shouldn't have to worry about running IT systems yourself; it makes a lot more sense to focus on your core business."
Smart Business spoke with Grele about how cloud computing can help move your company into the future.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is basically referring to IT resources that are accessible over the Internet and available as a service, on demand. There are many services that can be provided over the cloud that are commonly referred to as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Whatever the service, it is completely managed by the provider, and is for the most part immaterial to the end user. For example, enterprise grade e-mail, CRM or ERP are available as cloud computing services from many providers.
How can cloud computing benefit a business?
First, it gives businesses the ability to deploy new applications very quickly without having to provision expensive hardware and software or going through the installation and setup, as they would normally do in a traditional on-premise deployment. Second, it's flexible and allows businesses to rapidly scale resources up or down depending on needs. Ordinarily for an on-premise deployment, companies go through a complex sizing process to determine the amount of computing power they'll need to handle peak processing, even when peak represents a very small percentage of the time. This means that the rest of time the environment is well underutilized. Third, in a cloud computing model, companies end up paying for how much of the service they use as they use it, much like they do with any other utility.
Additionally, in a traditional on-premise environment, companies have to account for the whole life cycle of the new application they just deployed, like power and cooling, patching, hardware and software upgrades, backup and archive, disaster recovery and so forth. All these functions are complicated, costly and time-consuming and, let's face it, do not contribute positively to the bottom line.
Can a business make the transition on its own, or does it need expert help?
Whether migrating an existing application to the cloud or deploying a new application in the cloud, it is a good idea to leverage an experienced consulting firm. Most companies, especially small and medium-sized companies, have limited IT capabilities and personnel. So hiring an outside consulting firm to help with the deployment of applications on the cloud to shorten the timeline and avoid common pitfalls makes perfect sense. Migrating to the cloud is an iterative process and an experienced consulting firm can help put together the optimum migration strategy to match requirements.
A consultant can help you identify your needs and integrate your specific business processes into your new cloud solution. An experienced consultant will also be able to help you take advantage of new features or functions that are now available to your business.
What are some common mistakes businesses make when moving to the cloud?
Pitfalls include failing to leverage solutions to their full capability and not provisioning the security aspect of using an application on the cloud. It does require a different approach from a security perspective, and take into consideration that some of the traffic between end users and the application goes over the Internet.
It is also important to understand where your proprietary data resides on the cloud and how it is protected. Most cloud computing service providers have very strict security protocols to guarantee any data protection level to meet even the most stringent regulatory compliance levels. Most cloud service providers will match or exceed the security level that you would have in your own data center.
Do you foresee a time when on-premise systems become a thing of the past?
Absolutely. The world of information technology is evolving at a pace that even large companies with mature IT departments and sophisticated business processes struggle to keep up with. Typical deployments of new applications require substantial investments in both money and people and are quite complex and lengthy. Cloud computing is changing that paradigm by removing most capital expenditures, shortening deployment timelines and greatly reducing the overall costs of deploying new applications. It enables business leaders to drive adoption of new 'in the cloud' solutions based on business requirements, without burdening the ROI with the traditional IT costs of on-premise deployments.
Coming Events of Interest
TransmitCHINA Talks - September 14th-16th at the Great Wall of China. International leaders, thinkers, innovators, and creators will have an exclusive opportunity to hear a cross-section of preeminent thought leaders from some of the world's most innovative organizations in the digital and creative content ecosystem.
NY Games Conference - September 21st-22nd in New York, NY. The most influential decision-makers in the digital media industry gather at this event, now in its third year, to network, do deals, and share ideas about the future of games and connected entertainment. Lively debate on timely cutting-edge business topics.
Digital Music Forum West - October 5th-6th in Los Angeles. CA. Top music, technology, and policy leaders come together for high-level discussions and debate, intimate meetings, and unrivaled networking about the future of digital music. Digital Music Forum is known worldwide.
Digital Hollywood Fall - October 17th-20th in Marina del Rey, CA. Digital Hollywood (DH), the premier entertainment and technology conference in the country, once again welcomes the Variety Summit, which has been co-located with its past three DH events.
Future of Film Summit - November 7th-8th in Los Angeles, CA. An exclusive group of industry thought-leaders discuss the current state of the industry, and how film and transmedia deals will be struck in the coming years. This is a unique opportunity for creatives, producers, buyers, and film financiers.
Streaming Media West - November 8th-9th in Los Angeles, CA. Attended by more than 2,500 executives last year, SMW covers the entire online video ecosystem from content creation and management, to monetization and distribution. The number-one place to come see, learn, and discuss what is taking place with all forms of online video business models and technology.
World Telecom Summit 2011 - November 9th-11th in Singapore. The 2011 program will focus on topics that demonstrate innovation across the telecommunications industry, both on a commercial and technical level, to improve profitability and quality of next generation technologies and customer experiences.
Future of Television - November 17th-18th in New York, NY. Top television and digital media industry executives discuss the increasing importance digital media for the future of the television industry. Topics include viewer trends; programming for non-traditional platforms including online video, VoD, HD, IPTV, broadband and mobile.