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October 10, 2011
Volume XXXVI, Issue 11

Remembering Steve Jobs - A True Visionary

The world lost one of its great lights Wednesday night when Steve Jobs died at age 56. 

If Jobs had merely been a co-founder of Apple, he would be missed. Apple is one of the largest US companies by market valuation, and that would be a proud legacy for anyone. 

But Jobs was more than that. Few men can claim to be as admired as he was in so many fields. He was a visionary who understood how consumers would use technology in years to come. He pioneered ideas about branding and marketing that were decades ahead of their time.

He was hailed as a master of public speaking, a pioneer in design, a walking master class in leadership - and he was a model of composure in the face of his own mortality.

This special report commemorates Jobs' life, shares remembrances from those who knew him, and looks at the void he'll leave behind and the lessons his life taught us all.

Media Life also compiled a day of tributes to Steve Jobs, and ZDNet provided a complete round-up of the coverage of his passing.

The DCIA offers our deepest condolences to his family and, as do the technology and media sectors generally, lauds his astonishing contributions and accomplishments.

In Steve Jobs' own words from his Stanford commencement speech, "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Please also take a moment to screen Steve Jobs on the Crazy Ones.

Report from CEO Marty Lafferty

Photo of CEO Marty LaffertyWe are very pleased to provide DCINFO readers with a sneak peak at the upcoming second annual CONTENT IN THE CLOUD Conference at CES taking place at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday January 11th at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The digital locker is revolutionizing entertainment delivery, computing, and storage.

The 2012 CITC at CES will take attendees on an insider's tour of this new reality's many benefits and potential pitfalls.

Delegates will come away with a deeper understanding of the impact of cloud-delivered content on specific segments and industries, including consumers, telecom, media, and consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers.

The DCIA was literally overwhelmed with speaker requests for this event, and even though the CEA graciously expanded our schedule, we still had to turn down numerous qualified speakers.

Following is a preview of our initial agenda and preliminary slate of participants. Stay tuned for additional announcements in the coming weeks leading up to the show.

Whether you create, deliver, or store content - or just want to know more - don't miss these sessions!

Our opening keynote will be "A Vision for Content in the Cloud" by Mike West, Founder & CTO, GenosTV. This presentation will set the stage for the entire conference program that follows, which will delve into the many ways that cloud computing is transforming content delivery.

Our first panel will explore "The Impact on Consumers of Implementing Cloud Computing for Media Storage." What does cloud storage mean to users in terms of accessing entertainment content and owning copies of movies, music, TV shows, and games? Panelists will include Sean Barger, CEO, Equilibrium; Jim Cady, CEO, Slacker; Keith Friedenberg, Head of Research & Consumer Insights, WME; Ed Haslam, SVP, Marketing, YuMe; Gigi Johnson, Executive Director, Maremel Institute; Mike Lewis, Co-Founder, Kapost; Jostein Svendsen, CEO, WeVideo; and Dave Toole, CEO, MEDIAmobz.

Our second keynote will be "Consumer Benefits of Cloud-Delivered Content: Ubiquity, Cost, Portability Improvements" by Shahi Ghanem, EVP, Strategy, BitTorrent. Cloud-based solutions are being applied to popular entertainment properties. What are the advantages to users versus older methods of online distribution?

Our third keynote will be "Consumer Drawbacks of Cloud-Delivered Content: Privacy, Reliability, Security Issues" by Jim Burger, Member, Dow Lohnes. Cloud security is raising serious questions: What experiences have other industries had with inadvertent leaks or intentional hacking of confidential data? What can users do to mitigate not having access to their applications or accidentally losing their data when they go offline? What happens if a cloud provider goes out of business?

Our next panel will discuss "The Impact on Telecommunications Industries of Cloud Computing." How will cloud computing affect the way broadband network providers manage their intellectual property, utilize network resources, and provision new services? Saul Berman, Partner & VP, IBM Global Business Services; Sean Jennings, VP, Solutions Architecture, Virtustream; Wayne Josel, Counsel, Media & Entertainment, Hughes Hubbard & Reed; Bill Kallman, President & CEO, Scayl; Tom Mullally, Principal Analyst, Numagic Consulting; Donita Prakash, Chief Marketing Officer, Acumen Solutions; Monica Ricci, Director of Product Marketing, CSG Systems; and Mark Taylor, VP, Media and IP Services, Level 3.

Our fourth keynote will be "Telecommunications Industry Benefits and Drawbacks of Cloud-Delivered Content: New Opportunities vs. Infrastructure Challenges" by Mark Peterson, GM AppGlide, Alcatel-Lucent. What advantages do cloud-based solutions applied to popular entertainment properties bring to broadband network operators? How does the on-demand, always-accessible nature of cloud-based entertainment delivery challenge conventional distribution systems? Will older distribution methods disappear?

Our next panel will explore "The Impact on Entertainment Industries of Cloud Computing." How will cloud storage and distribution affect the ways in which content rights-holders manage their intellectual property (IP), realize new cost savings, and implement new business models? Panelists will include Kris Alexander, Chief Strategist, Connected Devices & Gaming, Akamai; Peter Csathy, CEO, Sorenson Media; Mark Friedlander, National Director, New Media, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) ; Jonathan King, SVP, Business Development, Joyent; Ted Mico, EVP, Digital, Universal Music; Ty Roberts, SVP & CTO, Gracenote; Ramki Sankaranarayanan, CEO, Prime Focus Technologies; and Robert Stevenson, SVP, Business Development, Gaikai.

Our fifth keynote will be "Entertainment Industry Benefits and Drawbacks of Cloud-Delivered Content: Innovation and Flexibility vs. Disruption and Accountability Issues Keynote" by Scott Brown, US GM & VP Strategy Partnerships, Octoshape. What improvements does cloud computing offer the content distribution chain? What issues do rights-holders face in adapting their internal content management processes to cloud-based media storage?

Our final keynote will be "Consumer Electronics (CE) Manufacturer Benefits and Drawbacks of Cloud-Delivered Content: Expanded Opportunities for Products with New Features at a Range of Costs; New Challenges Related to Interoperability and Data Security" by Lucia Gradinariu, Chief Market Strategist, Huawei. What unforeseen impacts, both positive and negative, do cloud-based solutions applied to popular entertainment properties bring to CE manufacturers?

Our closing panel will address "The Impact on CE Manufacturers of Cloud Computing Deployment." Remotely accessing applications and data affects everything that must be integrated into networked end-user devices. The same holds true for servers and other edge storage hardware products. What new hurdles must be overcome with these technological solutions? Panelists will include Stefan Bewley, Director, Altman Vilandrie & Company; Shane Dyer, President, Arrayent; David Frerichs, Strategic Consultant, Pioneer Corporation; Kshitij Kumar, SVP, Mobile Video, Concurrent; AJ McGowan, CTO, Unicorn Media; Michael Papish, Solutions Architecture Director, Rovi Corporation; Jordan Rohan, Managing Director, Stifel Nicolaus; and Chuck Stormon, CEO, Attend.

Please click here to register now for the 2012 International CES. We look forward to seeing you there. Share wisely, and take care.

Disrupt Yourself Before Others Disrupt You

Excerpted from Cloud Computing Report by Chirag Mehta

Recently, Netflix separated its streaming and DVD subscription plans. As per Netflix's forecast, the company will lose about 1 million subscribers by the end of this quarter. The customers did not like what Netflix did.

A few days back, Netflix's CEO, Reed Hastings, wrote a blog post explaining why Netflix separated its plans. He also announced its new brand, Qwikster, which will be a separate DVD service from Netflix's streaming website. These two services won't share the queues and movie recommendations even if you subscribe to both of them. A lot has been said and discussed about how poorly Netflix communicated the overall situation and made wrong decisions. I have no insider information about these decisions. They might seem wrong in the short term but I am on Netflix's side and agree with the co-founder Marc Randolph that Netflix didn't screw up. I believe it was the right thing to do, but could have been executed a little better. I also see parallels between Netflix's transition from DVD to steaming and on-premise enterprise independent software vendors' (ISVs) transition from on-premise to cloud.

The on-premise ISVs don't want to cannibalize their existing on-premise businesses to move to the cloud even if they know that's the future, but they don't want to wait long enough to be in a situation where they run out of money and become irrelevant before the transition. So, what can these on-premise ISVs learn from Netflix's decisions and mistakes? Most companies run their businesses as single P&Ls and that's how the street sees them and expects certain revenue and margins. Single P&L muddies the water. The companies have no way of knowing how much money they are spending on a specific business and how much revenue it brings in.

In many cases, there is not even an internal separation between different business units. Setting up a separate business unit is a first step to get the accounting practices right including tracking cost and giving the right guidance to the street. DVD business is like maintenance revenue and the streaming is like license revenue. The investors want to know two things: you're still a growth company (streaming) and you still have enough cash coming in (DVD business) to tap into the potential to grow. 

Netflix faces competition in streaming as well as in its DVD business, but the nature of competition is quite different. For the enterprise ISVs competing with on-premise vendors is quite different than competing with SaaS vendors. The nature of business - cost structure, revenue streams, ecosystem, platform, anti-trust issues, marketing campaigns, sales strategy - is so different that you almost need a separate organization. Netflix could potentially acquire a vendor in the streaming business or in the DVD business and that makes it easy for them to integrate. This is even more true in the case of ISVs since most of the on-premise ISVs will grow into the cloud through acquisitions. 

If you're running your SaaS business as a separate entity, it is much easier to integrate the new business from technology as well as business perspective. Just as you could acquire companies, you should prepare yourself for an exit as well. Netflix could potentially sell the DVD unit to someone else. This will be a difficult transaction if its streaming business is intertwined with their DVD business. The same is true for the enterprise ISVs. One day, they might decide to sell their existing on-premise business. Running it as a separate business entity makes it much easier to attract a buyer and sell it as a clean transaction. 

Take your customers through the journey. This is where Netflix failed. They did not communicate to the customers early on and ended up designing a service that doesn't leverage existing participation of the customers such as recommendations and queues.

There is no logical reason why they cannot have a contract in place between two business units to exchange data, even if these two units are essentially separate business entities. The ISVs should not make this mistake. When you move to the cloud, make sure that your customers can connect to their on-premise systems.

Not only that, you need to take care of their current contracts and extend them to the cloud if possible and make it easy for them to transition. Don't make it painful for your customers. The whole should be great than the sum of its parts. Learn from P&G and GE. They are companies made up of companies. They do run these sub-companies independently with a function to manage them across. It does work. Netflix has a great brand and they will retain that.

As an on-premise ISV you should consider running your on-premise and cloud businesses as sub-brands under a single brand umbrella. Branding is the opposite of financials; brand is a perception and financials is a reality. Customers care for the brand and service and the street cares for the financials. They seem to be very closely related to each other for a company looking inside-in but from an outside-in perspective they are quite different. There is indeed a way to please them both. This is where the most companies make wrong decisions.

Alcatel-Lucent Forays into Surging Cloud Computing

Excerpted from The Nation Report by Jirapan Boonon

Alcatel-Lucent is entering the fast-growing cloud-computing business, starting with data-center switching solutions.

"In Thailand, the government-agency cloud can improve the efficiency of individuals and also increase the competitiveness of businesses and the economy," BG Poon, Vice President for Asia-Pacific of Alcatel-Lucent's enterprise network division, said yesterday.

Worldwide, cloud computing shows high potential for growth, he said. The global market last year was worth about $29 billion and is expected to rise to $55 billion by 2014.

Alcatel-Lucent is now offering two data-center switching solutions that support cloud computing, designed for enterprises and large organizations.

The OmniSwitch 6900 stackable local area network (LAN) switch allows enterprises to connect switches without relying on a core switch to carry server-to-server traffic. It provides up to 240 server-facing 10G ports.

The OmniSwitch 10K modular LAN chassis is a data-center switching fabric core of a network that delivers real-time applications to users across the enterprise. It employs virtual-queuing technology that enables fine-tuned application delivery control that prioritizes traffic.

"Thailand has moved ahead of other countries, even Singapore, because it is big and has a lot of domestic consumption. The cloud is always increasing domestic spending. It is very crucial that the cloud creates jobs," Poon said.

"It is an innovative product that can be used worldwide. Government services and e-health are the key drivers for the cloud so that the government and e-health can offer good services to citizens."

Cloud computing in the Asia-Pacific region is at a nascent stage and is very much driven by the government and healthcare.

Governments are trying to reduce costs and improve procedures as well as make it easy for citizens to get services. However, when they want to attract investment from abroad, they should have strong infrastructure and an electronic highway to support the business, Poon said.

It is also important for homes to access high-speed Internet because information is available and business decisions can be made very fast today. People can use their home to build a business and easily change access to business, since today a lot of people buy products and services online, he added.

Sathit Panpaisan, General manager of the enterprise solution division, said the company would provide data centers to support cloud computing via 15 business partners, focusing |on medium and large enterprises nationwide.

Cloud Computing Set to Skyrocket, Driven by Economy 

Excerpted from Forbes Magazine Report by Doug McKendrick

Cloud computing is becoming more than a tactical measure adopted by managers and professionals seeking quick solutions to business and technical problems. It is increasingly being seen as a strategic initiative. Not only are most executives now planning to adopt some form of cloud computing for their organizations, they also expect these technology services to help position their organizations to succeed in today's rough-and-tumble economy.

These are some of the findings of a new survey of 900 executives released by KPMG International and Forbes Insight. The majority, 81%, say their organizations have already moved at least some business activities to the cloud and expect 2012 investment "to skyrocket, with some companies planning to spend more than a fifth of their IT budget on cloud next year," the study finds.

Economic factors were cited by 76% as an important driver for cloud adoption, bringing strategic benefits such as transforming their business models to gain a competitive advantage. Other considerations for moving to cloud computing include improving processes to offer more agility across the enterprise (80%), and offering technical benefits that they otherwise could not gain from their own data centers (76%).

Eighty-seven percent of executives feel that the changes delivered by cloud will be "significant." This view is consistent among companies of all sizes and whether the respondents work within IT functions or business units. KPMG summarized the transformative effects cloud is delivering:

"Cloud is transformative in that it is creating new business opportunities as companies harness its power to efficiently facilitate new revenue, services and businesses. It is breaking down barriers in the supply chain, creating more effective and timely interaction between clients and suppliers. It is delivering speed, agility and cost reduction to IT and other functional areas within the enterprise. The transformative impact of cloud can readily be seen across the enterprise in areas from HR, CRM, and IT infrastructure."

Almost one-quarter of respondents say their organization already runs all core IT services on the cloud (10 percent) or is in transition to do so (13 percent). Fewer than one in 10 executives say their company has no immediate plans to enter the cloud environment.

Still, many executives feel cloud computing needs to demonstrate a cost savings of at least 10% before they sign on completely. Almost half of respondents (45%) said that, to make cloud worth the investment, IT savings would need to be from 1% to 10% from current spending, 34% said such savings would have to be from 11% to 25%, and some 10% said IT savings would need to be in excess of 25%. Still, as the survey shows, organizations are scarfing up cloud services.

The survey also finds that most cloud adopters get their feet wet with Software as a Service (SaaS) implementations, such as Salesforce.com. Of the respondents, 46% of planned implementations are in a SaaS environment. However, over the long run, the study observes, "private clouds will dominate the most critical functions."

The results of this survey demonstrate that the implications for cloud computing reach far beyond the walls of IT departments, and into corporate C-suites and boardrooms. Cloud projects often occur as tactical arrangements, either prompted by IT for greater access to tools and platforms, or by lines of business to acquire services or capabilities as needed, and often off-budget. The time has come, however, where cloud needs to be considered as a strategic investment.

BitTorrent Tests Paid uTorrent-Plus Client 

Excerpted from GigaOM Report by Janko Roettgers

BitTorrent started a limited alpha test for uTorrent Plus Thursday, a premium version of its successful uTorrent client that will eventually be available to subscribers for a $25-per-year fee. uTorrent Plus offers transcoding and syncing, making it easier to play back content on a variety of mobile and connected devices, as well as added security and file playback support. For BitTorrent, it's also a step toward diversifying its revenue streams.

BitTorrent Director of Product Management for uTorrent Jordy Berson told me the following in an e-mail about the release:

"uTorrent Plus offers a few key things our users have been asking for, most importantly play any file on any device and added security. While we are fully committed to the free uTorrent, we're really excited to offer people something new."

uTorrent has long been the most popular Windows BitTorrent client out there. Advanced users value its minimalistic simplicity, which can be challenging for newcomers. BitTorrent Inc. is trying to address this by making playback and portability of content easier in the Plus version, while at the same time, keeping the pure uTorrent experience in the free version of the app.

That approach seems clever, and it could also help BitTorrent to add another source of revenue to its business. The company has been almost exclusively dependent on bundled software that's offered to users during the installation process and through dedicated content channels.

These kinds of affiliate partnerships are common in the P2P space, but they can also be risky. Video software and codec maker DivX at one time generated 21% of its revenue by bundling the Yahoo toolbar with its free products. Then Yahoo pulled out - and DivX had to lay off 10 percent of its workforce.

BitTorrent didn't really want to acknowledge these issues played a role in its decision to launch uTorrent Plus, with the company's chief strategist Shahi Ghanem telling me via e-mail, "uTorrent Plus is not designed as a business-oriented release but was specifically created to give our users the transcoding and security features they've been asking for." Still, I'd bet BitTorrent's investors and employees are feeling good knowing the company is diversifying its revenue streams.

Rackspace CEO Sees Cloud Revolution for Decade 

Excerpted from Investor's Business Daily Report by Vance Cariaga

The rise of cloud computing has elevated Rackspace Hosting, which bills itself as "the largest pure-play cloud company."

The San Antonio, TX based company runs computer and data center operations for clients, which access their hosted data via the Internet, or "the cloud."

Rackspace has racked up six straight quarters of 23% or better year-over-year sales and per-share profit growth.

Chief Executive Lanham Napier figures his firm can maintain that momentum well into the future as it expands geographically and adds more big business customers.

Napier recently spoke with IBD about cloud computing.

IBD: Where are we in terms of the cloud's reach and impact?

Napier: Cloud has been around for a few years, so in terms of adoption we are migrating from the early adopters to more of a mainstream market. The Fortune 500 are all talking to us about cloud and how to use it. Entrepreneurial startup companies are going straight to cloud instead of investing in huge IT infrastructure. It's still early days. This revolution is going to last a decade.

IBD: What does Rackspace bring to the table that others don't?

Napier: When we visit with customers, they want a few things. They want to increase their agility in terms of technology, do it as quickly and economically as possible, do it in a world-class service standard, and put it into someone's hands they can trust. We believe Rackspace is that trusted partner.

The first thing is, we serve 150,000 customers, and these customers reference us. Our No. 1 source of growth is referral from customers we already serve. By the time customers get to us, they already have a good impression.

The second thing is, we have a lot of technology depth and experience. We have been in the business for 12 years. We were doing cloud stuff before it was called cloud. That gives us a critical mass expertise that most other providers don't have.

Last, we are a company born of the web, so this is all very natural for us.

IBD: What are a couple of specific services or technologies that help you stand out from the crowd?

Napier: We are focused on applications that run on the web. For a company that is trying to resolve issues through information technology (IT), the job might take weeks. But if you are a customer at Rackspace, you can log into the control panel and employ a server in 60 seconds.

Cloud Computing Is Changing How Businesses Work 

Excerpted from Wall Street Journal Report by Steven Jones

Cloud computing, which businesses began adopting in order to reduce costs, is now starting to change the way companies work, according to a report to be released Monday by accounting firm KPMG International.

Four out of five businesses are moving or plan to move some of their computing needs to remote networks known as clouds, according to the survey of more than 900 global companies by KPMG. One in 10 report they are already running core information systems in the cloud.

Steve Hill, who spearheaded the research as Vice Chairman of Strategic Investments at KPMG, said in an interview many companies had discovered the cloud "quickly shifting from a competitive advantage to an operational necessity."

For example, one business cited in the report, a grocery, found it had fewer episodes of goods being out of stock after it linked its suppliers via a cloud ordering network. It also improved inventory turnover and increased profits.

Cloud computing refers to networks of virtual servers that allow individuals and businesses to access information from any Internet-connected device. That is become an advantage as companies increasingly require employees to be away from their desks. The cloud services industry is expected to generate $177 billion in revenue by 2015, up from $89.4 billion this year, according to a Gartner forecast.

The cloud also enables companies to flexibly rent computing power when it needs more muscle.

Researchers at Seattle Children's Hospital recently marshaled a cloud of 475 virtual computers in three data centers on two continents for a project comparing bacterial proteins.

Eugene Kolker, the hospital's chief data officer, said renting cloud services from Microsoft allowed the facility to update a database of more than 10 million proteins in six days, far less than the several months the project would have taken on in-house systems.

"What's remarkable about the cloud is you can do this type of work on demand," said Kolker. "We've never had information ability like this before."

KPMG's survey also showed three-quarters of the respondents were able to reduce costs. Nearly 40% said moving practices such as customer relationship management to the cloud was changing the way they deal with customers. About one-third said adopting the cloud was influencing their whole business model.

Deciding to move a business function to the cloud "is becoming more of a business conversation, not just a technology conversation," said KPMG's Hill. "The chief information officer is going to become a chief integration officer."

Windstream Details Next-Gen Cloud Platform 

Excerpted from Telecompetitor Report by Andrew Burger

Looking to enhance its competitiveness in the ultra-competitive cloud services market, Windstream Hosted Solutions has launched a second-generation cloud services platform. The platform incorporates the latest technology from providers including VMWare, NetApp, EMC, Cisco, and others.

Windstream's looking to distinguish its cloud services offering by providing a combination of "Hi-Touch" personalized account consulting and flexible, self-service service customization. Supporting the latter is the tandem of VMWare's vCloud Director, custom Recovery Time Objective/Recovery Point Objective (RTO/RPO) capabilities by NetApp SnapMirror, EMC, and RecoverPoint that all work together with VCE Vblock compute, according to the press release.

Windstream identified a need for hybrid cloud connectivity on the part of its managed services customers when it introduced its first-generation cloud services platform at its Charlotte, NC data center. That's grown into a trend that has led management to develop a second-generation platform and to plan several more deployments across the US in early 2012.

The telecompetitor was one of the first in the industry to offer a hybrid cloud solution and shared load balancing, management noted. "By partnering with other industry leaders, we provide a solution that meets our clients' production and disaster recovery requirements," said Kip Turco, Senior Vice President of Data Center Operations.

Despite the buzz regarding cloud customers launching their own private cloud services platforms, Turco noted that at present "a number of our clients have found they can achieve the right balance with a hybrid cloud solution, leveraging the public cloud, and integrating with their physical or private cloud to achieve the results they need."

6 Ways Cloud Computing Helps Businesses Save Time and Money

Excerpted from OPEN Forum Report

Cloud computing has created a technology revolution for small businesses, offering access to a range of capabilities that typically only larger companies can afford. Using an Internet connection and a web browser, small companies can tap into software and services as they need them and pay for what they use on a monthly basis, like utility services. Your business can join the "Cloud" to access everything from data backup to customer relationship management systems.

Consider the following six benefits to see how your company might use the cloud.

Improved Collaboration

Cloud-based programs can be used at any time on almost any device with an Internet connection, a benefit that leads to greater collaboration, particularly for businesses with remote employees. A growing percentage of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) consider the ability to be productive remotely as critical to their operations: 66% said they need to allow employees to work anywhere at any time, according to a 2010 survey by Microsoft.

Using cloud-based software, teams in different locations can collaborate on documents without needing to e-mail attachments and share calendars and task lists from wherever they are. Participants just sign up for the service and access the program over the Internet, without downloading or installing program software.

Employees also can connect through instant messaging and even hold impromptu meetings with robust audio, video and Web conferencing capabilities. Some cloud-based services even make it possible to include customers and vendors in these meetings. This improved sharing of information has the potential to enable your company to react more quickly to business opportunities.

Managing Growth

Cloud resources are scalable, or elastic, so you can tap resources or increase capacity to support growth and handle busy periods. One of the most challenging aspects of running a small company is predicting what resources your business will need - enough to scale and take advantage of opportunities, but not so much that you overspend. With cloud resources, rather than having to predict your needs, you can react to needs as they arise and use just what is required to manage your growth and enhance your efficiency. For example, if customer and project demands require increased collaboration, you can access collaboration tools quickly and without advanced planning. Your flexibility as an organization rises when you work in the cloud because your ability to react is greatly improved.

Lower Costs

Cloud-based services can help you save money on many fronts, including server maintenance, power and cooling costs, and software licensing and upgrade expenses. Just under half -49% - of SMBs use Cloud computing to lower costs, according to the Microsoft survey.1 Rather than spending money to maintain hardware that often goes unused, subscribing to software and services for a low monthly fee can help small businesses stretch their budgets further. Along with the ability to scale up to meet increased demand, the Cloud also allows you to scale down during slower periods (e.g., remove users or use less storage space), saving your business money.

Secure Data Backup

If you don't have the time or resources to implement a backup strategy - or if you keep your backed-up data on-site - the cloud can help ensure you are able to retrieve the latest versions of your data in case of an on-site system failure or a disaster, such as fire or flood. You can choose a cloud-based service to back up your data frequently or automatically to a safe online location, so that if the unexpected happens, you can be back up and running within minutes. Many providers offer geo-redundant backup, meaning your data is saved in multiple centers across multiple locations, to improve security.

Greater Reliability

Cloud-based services often can be more reliable than services delivered on-premise, particularly if servers or other hardware are aging. Cloud service providers have a dedicated, experienced IT staff - meaning they can likely resolve problems faster than a small business with only limited IT resources.

Eased Resource Management

With servers located off-site and their management left to an experienced provider, cloud computing allows you to focus on what you do best - running your business. Because resources in the cloud can be accessed as needed, the time it takes to get started with these services shrinks from days to minutes. For small businesses wanting to stretch their resources and be more competitive, working in the cloud is becoming a must.

Virtustream Advisor 2.0 Provides Ideal Cloud Computing Environments

Virtustream, a leading cloud solution provider, today introduced Virtustream Advisor 2.0, a resource analytics and analysis engine that collects current, actual performance data on a client's compute landscape and recommends a company's ideal cloud computing environment. In addition to performance enhancements that deliver enterprise-class capacity and availability to support Virtustream Advisor 2.0 deployments, Virtustream also announced that its partners -- global systems integrators, enterprise ISVs and value-added resellers -- can now use Virtustream Advisor 2.0 to evaluate their clients' needs.

Virtustream Advisor uses an agent-less collector within a company's system for 15-60 days (depending on the customer's business cycle) to evaluate the usage, availability and demand of current computing resources. It then uses proprietary algorithms and analysis frameworks to estimate the potential impact of virtualized or cloud environments on the cost of operations, the agility of the business and the quality of service provided by the systems. Virtustream's Cloud Advisory Services group, and now Virtustream partners, will use Virtustream Advisor 2.0 to recommend an optimized architecture for on-premise, off-premise or hybrid cloud environments, in addition to providing a clear and actionable roadmap for transitioning to a more efficient virtual infrastructure or cloud architecture.

"Leveraging years of expertise in virtualization technologies and cloud services, as well as analytical frameworks tested on the front lines of hundreds of virtualization and cloud deployments, we architected Virtustream Advisor 2.0 to reduce dramatically the effort necessary to produce a comprehensive picture of the client's computing landscape and evaluate the most efficient and cost-effective IT usage," said Michael Hoch, Vice President, Cloud Advisory Services, Virtustream. "Virtustream Advisor provides our partners with the same tools we use to build a solid business case and migration plan that aligns with a company's core business objectives, timeframe and budgets."

Virtustream Advisor analyzes various virtualization technologies -- including ESX, Xen, KVM, Hyper-V and containers -- to provide a comparative analysis of the efficiencies gained by each and their applicability to each client's unique environment. Virtustream Advisor's analysis is also agnostic in its evaluation of third-party cloud services providers and can include all of the major public and third-party cloud services. Using Virtustream Advisor, enterprises can evaluate any number of public, private and enterprise cloud service options, including their projected costs, SLAs and operational efficiencies.

Virtustream Advisor reports current performance metrics and fully detailed return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) projections that illustrate clear cost, value, and risk trade-offs of applicable virtualization technologies and cloud computing solutions.

Connected TVs to Dominate Web Video Market 

Excerpted from Broadband TV News by Robert Briel

Connected TVs are definitely taken over the market of connected devices according to IMS Research.

As over-the-top (OTT) video functionality becomes standard in progressively more affordable TVs, the connected TV installed base will inherently continue to grow regardless of whether consumers are specifically seeking OTT capabilities or not. As consumers gradually connect TVs to the Internet over time, connected TVs will likely become not only the most popular OTT device, but also the most-utilized.

"Televisions, despite their higher price point compared to Blu-ray Disc players and game consoles, tend to be more mainstream devices that are purchased in greater numbers and are more universally present in a larger number of households worldwide," said Paul Erickson, Senior Analyst at IMS Research.

"As broadband penetration increases worldwide and OTT functionality becomes commonplace in all but the lowest-end TVs within the next two years, it sets the stage for connected TVs to be the most globally-significant OTT video device over time."

Although certain devices such as game consoles may have higher rates of connection to the internet in the present day, a faster-growing installed base and rising consumer OTT awareness are expected to quickly propel connected TVs ahead of game consoles in OTT usage within the next few years.

According to IMS Research, the worldwide installed base of connected TVs is already expected to surpass that of high definition game consoles by the end of this year.

"We expect yearly shipments of connected TVs to reach 180 million units worldwide in 2016, and for yearly shipments of connected TVs to begin outnumbering shipments of all other consumer OTT video devices combined by 2015. Pay-TV operators, application developers, content providers, and OTT service providers such as Netflix should all strategically be planning for a future where the most common OTT video device is the television."

Cloud Computing Is the Future of Networking 

Excerpted from Gulf News Report by Naushad Cherrayil

Every new technology is hyped as a miracle, but cloud computing managed to fog the eyes of even experienced IT people because its whole purpose is to behave as if it is a miracle.

Resources appear magically wherever and whenever they're needed, data travels to find the questions it needs to answer, servers pitch in with whatever work needs doing.

Cloud computing refers to networks of virtual servers that allow individuals and businesses to access information from any Internet-connected device.

"The cloud computing wave is going to be the most disruptive, but the most opportunistic. Cloud computing initially rose to fame as it offered a way for businesses to reduce costs, but it now offers much more. Cloud computing is not a fashion statement, it is the future," Eyad Shihabi, Managing Director, HP Middle East, told Gulf News.

He said cloud computing could answer much of the problems facing the industry today. He believes that "It is a journey. We're not going to get there tomorrow."

According to Gartner, about 35% of IT departments globally started implementing a private cloud last year and 30% are starting before the end of this year.

Public and private cloud adoption across GCC countries shows great potential for growth, with over 70% of GCC organizations acknowledging there are significant and tangible benefits to cloud computing and services, according to research firm IDC.

The cloud services industry is expected to generate $177 billion in revenue by 2015, up from $89.4 billion this year, according to a Gartner forecast.

According to a survey conducted by HP in the Middle East, CIOs and IT decision makers said agility is critical to their future success and see agility as the number one business driver for cloud.

"In this region, the overarching drivers for public cloud revolve around the desire to have access to better technology, IT skills, and the latest software techniques, while the drivers for private cloud are the desire to standardize IT and reduce costs," said Sony John, IDC's senior analyst for IT services markets in the Middle East and Africa.

Nearly 85% of IT decision makers within the region's utilities, financial services, and public sector organizations are planning to leverage cloud to reinvent how they interact with customers, citizens and employees in terms of instant access to information.

Shihabi said mission critical applications specific to utilities, financials and public sector could potentially be moved to the cloud within two to five years. The majority of Middle East IT decision makers also see services such as human resources, financials and non-core services moving to the cloud within the same timeframe.

By 2012, around 31-40% of IT will be delivered via the public or private cloud. By 2015, most of the firms in the Middle East will move into hybrid cloud.

"The biggest impact on innovation in the short term includes security, seamless delivery and openness of IT infrastructure.

The respondents agree cloud is an integral part of their journey if they want to respond to customers and be flexible around business needs."

He said the lack of understanding about hybrid cloud and security concerns represented the greatest potential barrier to the adoption of cloud for organizations. Concern about the loss of IT control is another barrier. Compliance around industry regulations is seen as a key inhibitor to moving from a tradition to cloud delivery model. "Security is the top reason organizations may not adopt either private or public cloud implementations," he said.

The IDC study shows that transportation and retail sectors lag because of insufficient information about the benefits and suitability of cloud, 55% of communications companies and 45% of banking and finance companies are using or planning to use the cloud.

OTT Video Could Hit 9 Million By 2016

Excerpted from Media Daily News Report by Wayne Friedman

Media agency MagnaGlobal says over-the-top (OTT) video services - many of which can be obtained for little or no cost - could grow to just under 10% of all US homes in five years.

By 2016, MagnaGlobal estimates there will be 9 million homes that have video services from so-called OTT TV companies - those that use digital, Internet, over-the-air, or other means.

Also in five years, the survey says it is revising its DVR estimates - downward. It had projected 63.1 million homes by 2016. It now believes DVRs will get to 57.5 million homes, or 48.7% of all US TV homes.

The survey believes - as does other analysis - that there is a maturation in the DVR market, especially when it comes to "economic pressure, causing subscribers to contain their pay TV costs." It also says DVR homes were "negatively impacted by downward revisions to new household formation growth."

Video-on-demand (VoD) services show no such slowdown. In five years, MagnaGlobal says VoD will hit 65.7 million homes - about 55.7% of TV homes. MagnaGlobal's VoD results include OTT services. This is up from the second quarter, where numbers stand at 54.8 million VoD homes, or 46.9% of total TV homes.

Looking at broadband access, MagnaGlobal says in the second quarter, there were 85.7 million homes - 72.4% of all US homes - that had some sort of Internet access, 91% of these had higher-quality broadband access. In five years, this will grow to 97.1 million online homes and 95.7 million broadband households.

The Rise of the Virtual Cable Company

Excerpted from Online Spin Report by Dave Morgan

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that its Xbox 360 would now carry free and subscription services in most major markets around the globe. Beyond gaming and Netflix and Hulu, which have been part of Xbox for some time, the connected gaming console will now carry channels like ESPN, HBO, Bravo, Syfy, BBC and services like Comcast Xfinity, Verizon FIOS and TT&T and previously web-based content like Google's YouTube.

For all of the talk of potentially disruptive over-the-top (OTT) TV services, this is probably the most significant move we've seen since Netflix and Amazon launched their streaming services. Am I being a bit extreme? I don't think so, and here are my reasons why:

Xbox already proven platform for TV viewing. Connected Xboxes today are already used for TV viewing on average of one hour per day. That dwarfs the average American's web video viewing by a factor of 10. More great content on that platform will only drive that number, and ratio, higher.

Beginning of the end of cable company proprietary set-top boxes (STBs). It is significant that several of the largest multichannel video distributors have signed up on the Xbox deal. I'm sure many of them would like to be out of the consumer hardware business. Just wait until we see large volumes of smart, connected TVs. They will become like Xbox too.

Could herald a la carte channel purchasing. With ESPN and HBO doing deals here, how long can it be before other, must-have networks, offer their channels on a stand-alone basis - AMC and "Mad Men," anyone?

Fast path to major ad revenue steam for Microsoft. Steve Ballmer has made it clear for years he aspires to eventually drive 25% of the company's revenue from advertising. Online is not likely to satisfy that goal. TV and it's big dollars just might. Don't underestimate what a company like MSFT might do to finally achieve that big audacious goal.

What do you think? Is Microsoft on a path to being our first virtual cable company?

Distributed Computing - What Is Distributed Computing? 

Excerpted from Hosting Tutorials Report

Distributed computing can be defined in various ways. In terms of web hosting, it is a type of web hosting server where an application or site is being hosted on distributed systems. Each part of the application or site has its own system, which communicates together to achieve a specific goal. There are two main conditions where the use of distributed computing is better than other hosting servers. On those conditions, there are many advantages this type of web hosting can give.

The first condition where distributed computing is used is when the site requires a communication network that separates its parts to several computers. This occurs only if some of the modules in the site perform a rigorous process that no single computer can possibly do. On this occasion, the data which is produced in one computer is constantly needed by another computer. A simple example of this condition is - when the site's host is unable to accommodate the site monolithically and resorted to separating site's database (SQL or MySQL) to its actual coded pages (consist of HTML, XHTML, CSS, or PHP) onto different servers.

The second condition where distributed computing is used is when a multiple systems server is more practical than a single system server. That is when the benefits of distributed web host outweigh the use of other web host. One of the common examples of this condition is when the use of cluster low-end server is more cost efficient compared to one high-end server. There are many sites today that are transferring or already using distributed server because of its lower maintainability cost.

There are many advantages that this type of web host has compared to others. One of this is that a multiple systems server is more reliable than a single system server. Because each process on a site is separated to different systems, most of distributed computing servers have low chance of downtime. Moreover, if there is a failure to one of the systems, the other parts of the site can still be used because they are on separate systems. Reliability of the site is very important for many businesses. The more downtimes their site suffers; the more money they lose. This is the reason why distributed servers are highly advisable for all businesses.

Another advantage of this type of web host is that it is easier to manage and expand than other hosts. Updating a single part on distributed server usually does not require an update to other parts. That is when site's owners want to change something on the database, that person doesn't need to change something on other parts of the application. This gives greater flexibility on the maintainability of the site, which is a great benefit for the company.

Distributed computing started as only a branch of computer science that deals with the study of different systems. Nowadays, the term is widely used on a lot of things, which already includes web hosting. On the web, it is one of the server types that can offer some of great and unique advantages to its users.

Coming Events of Interest

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.

2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) - January 10th-13th in Las Vegas, NV. With more than four decades of success, the International CES reaches across global markets, connects the industry and enables CE innovations to grow and thrive. This is the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow. 

CONTENT IN THE CLOUD at CES - January 11th in Las Vegas, NV. Gain a deeper understanding of the impact of cloud-delivered content on specific segments and industries, including consumers, telecom, media, and CE manufacturers.

Copyright 2008 Distributed Computing Industry Association
This page last updated October 16, 2011
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