February 20, 2012
Volume XXXVIII, Issue 6
Hot Topics at Cloud Connect
Excerpted from Information Week Report by Charles Babcock
From Amazon to Zynga, cloud leaders at this week's Cloud Connect conference gave some interesting sneak peeks at the future of cloud computing.
The telco service providers are thinking out loud about how they'd like to join the ranks of cloud service providers. CenturyLink and Verizon are already there, with their purchases of Savvis and Terremark cloud service suppliers, respectively, last year. More would like to get into the business.
I've wondered why they didn't do so sooner, given their worldwide investments in data centers to serve their large customer bases. Their data centers in some ways don't look so different from the large, "invented exclusively by us" centers built by Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and Microsoft. Still, I pull up short of believing that an AT&T or a Telefonica is about to supply infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) that's competitive with Amazon Web Services, GoGrid, or Rackspace.
But what if the telcos took a different tack? Amazon Web Services and other first-generation cloud suppliers were all builders of large-scale data centers making their services available over the Internet. So far, the debate over cloud computing, with only one or two isolated exceptions, has presumed cloud services will be dispensed over the public Internet.
What if the telcos, with their large inventory of sometimes underutilized network capacity, generated a common carrier Ethernet WAN that carried traffic, much like the Internet, over switches and routers that were not open to the public? Such a private alternative to the Internet at first blush sounds like it could never compete with free services. But Ralph Santioro, a founding member of the Metro Ethernet Forum, and director of carrier Ethernet market development at Fujitsu, clearly thought there were uses for such a private, Ethernet network.
In a talk at the Carrier Forum, a concurrent event at CloudConnect Monday, Santioro said the Internet is the WAN that delivers cloud services "but there's surprisingly little attention paid to it by the cloud community." That is to say, the cloud community loves to talk about the services it can invent. The telecom community should spend more time talking about how the network could make the services better.
That potentially leaves an opening for telcos to re-invent the cloud for the private enterprise in ways that: make network quality of service an option of cloud services; offer more guarantees of data security through denial of public access (users are purchasers of the service); and provide more private data center-types of guarantees on application performance and security.
As I've tried to point out before in the cases of Terremark and Savvis, a cloud supplier with its telco owner suddenly has the option of becoming a data chain of data centers linked together with a point-and-click choice by a customer. Such links could provide automated backup and recovery from a separate geographical area for a customer, and allow cloud services to maintain higher availability through the option of shifting workloads away from a trouble spot.
Cloud services from a global, common-carrier Ethernet network may yet emerge, not so much as a challenge to Amazon Web Services' dominant EC2, but as a completely different way of delivering cloud services.
These thoughts were running through my head at Cloud Connect when I ran across a second bit of information that strikes me as addressing that latter topic in a different way. SunGard, which now has six cloud data centers for providing high availability production environments, is about to sign a pact with Amazon Web Services to provide backup and recovery services to customers in Amazon data centers.
Please click here for the full report.
Cloud Computing Will Create New Business Models in 2012
Excerpted from Voice and Data Report
A convergence of cloud computing trends will create new business models in 2012, according to analyst firm Frost & Sullivan.
The firm has three converging predictions for the year ahead: cloud computing will finally become mainstream; the rise in cloud services will drive mobile computing; and the pervasive nature of social networking plus the need to manage online reputations will see social media widely integrated into business activities.
These three trends will combine to force an inversion of the traditional model of IT in business. Usually, IT simply responds to business needs, providing the tools that the business needs to achieve its goals. But in 2012, ICT developments will drive business process change and, in some instances, create new business models.
According to Frost & Sullivan, this shift is already evident in the media, retail, travel and hospitality industries, and the company predicts it will become widespread across other sectors in the coming year.
As such, the firm has warned executives that "no matter what their industry they will need to closely monitor the activities of technology firms, particularly leaders such as Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook, to assess how developments in these trends may impact their operations".
"Consider the effect of mobile payment products such as Google Wallet, which are enabling technology firms to compete with financial services firms and which will change the way people spend money," said Andrew Milroy, Vice President - ICT Research Asia Pacific, Frost & Sullivan.
The analyst firm also predicts the emergence of a new environment for the enterprise, powered by the cloud. In this environment, applications will be delivered via software-as-a-service (SaaS) to virtualized desktops.
Plus, an increase in tablet and smart-phone popularity in Australia (the country has a higher smart-phone penetration than the United States, the firm says) will lead to an increase in the number of employees opting for remote or home working arrangements.
This will drive increased interest in videoconferencing, using mobile, desktop and room-based systems. Unified communications (UC) is "crucial" to achieving this vision, the firm said.
In the short term, UC investment will continue mostly under a 'silo' model: "Decisions are made on the basis of an individual project rather than with a 'big picture' solution in mind," the firm said.
Report from CEO Marty Lafferty
The DCIA is excited to announce additional speakers and new sponsors for our inaugural CLOUD COMPUTING CONFERENCE, a full-day event-track within the 2012 NAB Show in Las Vegas, NV, taking place on Monday April 16th at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The NAB - CLOUD COMPUTING CONFERENCE will demonstrate new ways that cloud-based solutions are providing increased reliability and security for content distribution.
From collaboration during production, to post-production and formatting, to interim storage, delivery and playback on fixed and mobile devices, to viewership measurement and analytics, cloud computing is having an enormous impact on video delivery.
Avid and Rackspace have signed on as sponsors of this groundbreaking event.
From the most prestigious, award-winning productions, to music and movies made at home, Avid creates the technology that people use to make the most listened to, most watched, and most loved media in the world.
Fanatical support has made Rackspace the world's leading specialist in the hosting and cloud computing industry. Rackspace delivers enterprise-level hosting services to businesses of all sizes and kinds around the world.
A few outstanding sponsorship opportunities at the CLOUD COMPUTING CONFERENCE and a small number of exhibiting opportunities at the new CLOUD COMPUTING PAVILION on the show floor are still available.
If IPTV or online delivery is in your current or future operating plans, you won't want to miss these discussions focused on cloud-delivered content and its impact on consumers, television manufacturers, telecom industries, and the media. For information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a cloud services provider to digital media, NAB Show's new CLOUD COMPUTING PAVILION offers an affordable and professionally-produced turnkey package to showcase your cloud solutions. Become an exhibitor and position your innovative technology and ideas squarely in the center of this multi-billion dollar marketplace. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Our opening keynote will feature Bill Kallman, CEO, Scayl, who will introduce "The Latest Trends in Cloud Computing Solutions for the Audio/Video (A/V) Ecosystem." How are innovative cloud-based technology developers impacting A/V content creation and distribution with a host of new strategies, products, and services?
The first panel will continue this top-line overview of "Advanced Capabilities, New Features, Cost Advantages of Cloud Computing Solutions." What are the very latest ways that cloud computing is being applied throughout the creation and distribution chain for television and radio programming, motion pictures, corporate A/V production, and user-generated content (UGC)?
Panelists will include Mike Alexenko, Senior Director of Market Development, Cloud & Mobility, G-Technology; Scott Campbell, Principal, Media, Entertainment, and Telecoms, SAP; David Frerichs, Strategic Consultant, Pioneer Corporation; David Hassoun, Founder, RealEyes Media; AJ McGowan, CTO, Unicorn Media; Samir Mittal, CTO, Rimage; Michelle Munson, CEO, President, and Co-founder, Aspera; and Robert Stevenson, EVP, Business Development & Strategic Partnerships, Gaikai.
Jim Burger, Member, Dow Lohnes, will step back from the exuberance of such trends in our next keynote to examine "The Key Pitfalls Associated with Cloud Computing in High-Value Content Implementations." How are safety and predictability considerations as well as related liability factors affecting cloud adoption for A/V by content creators, rights-holders, and distributors?
The follow-on panel will further explore "Privacy Issues, Reliability Questions, Security Concerns in the Cloud Computing." What are the different but inter-related hurdles to overcome for consumers, content companies, software providers, broadband network operators, and related cloud services vendors in migrating to the cloud, and what steps is the distributed computing industry taking to address these problems?
Panelists will include Dave Asprey, VP, Cloud Security, Trend Micro; Chris Kantrowitz, CEO, Gobbler; Tom Mulally, Consultant, Numagic Consulting; Graham Oakes, Chairman, Digital Watermarking Alliance (DWA); Dan Schnapp, Partner & Chairman of New Media, Entertainment & Technology, Hughes, Hubbard & Reed; Yangbin Wang, CEO, Vobile; Marvin Wheeler, Chairman, Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA); and Vic Winkler, Author, "Securing the Cloud."
Our next keynote by Jonathan King, SVP, Joyent, will outline "Various Ways that Cloud Computing Is Being Applied to the Content Creation Process - from Pre- to Post-Production." How are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and even Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions strategically being brought to bear to improve key aspects of file-based workflow for A/V content?
The subsequent panel will delve further into "Audio/Video Pre-Production, Production, Post-Production Clouds." What are leading examples and key case studies of ways that cloud-computing solutions are accelerating processes, improving quality, and/or reducing costs of such functions as collaboration, editing, animation, applying metadata, formatting, and transcoding?
Panelists will include Jim Cady, President & CEO, Slacker; Tony Cahill, Chief Engineer, CET Universe; Guillermo Chialvo, Gerente de Tecnologia, Radio Mitre; Gerald Hensley, VP, Worldwide Entertainment Sales, Rovi Corporation; Ajay Malhotra, EVP, North America, Prime Focus Technologies; Todd Martin, SVP, Strategic Solutions Group. Chyron; Kirk Punches, VP, Business Development, Sorenson Media; and Jostein Svendsen, CEO, WeVideo.
Shahi Ghanem, SVP, Strategy & Marketing, BitTorrent, will present our next keynote on "Alternative Approaches for Implementing Cloud Storage of Content Catalogs and Libraries and Leveraging Cloud-Based Distribution." How is this most publicized area in the implementation of cloud computing for A/V - storage and delivery - progressing? What are the technology policy/rights considerations and economics behind such concepts as "cloud media lockers" and the newest peer-assisted hybrid solutions in "quantum computing?"
Exploring this more deeply will be the "The Cloud Media Storage & Delivery" panel. What are leading examples and key case studies of ways that cloud-computing solutions are accelerating processes, improving quality, and/or reducing costs of such functions as managing fungible inventories of high-value A/V content, including at the edge of the Internet, and delivering it to listeners and viewers?
Panelists will include Kris Alexander, Chief Strategist, Connected Devices & Gaming, Akamai; Bang Chang, VP, Server and Storage, SeaChange International; Stephen Condon, VP, Global Marketing Communications, Limelight Networks; Stephen Ehrlich, Dir. Media & Ent., Verizon Digital Services; Gianluca Ferremi, VP Sales & Marketing, Motive Television; Michael King, Director of Marketing, Data Direct Networks; Kshitij Kumar, SVP, Mobile Video, Concurrent; and Mark Taylor, VP, Media and IP Services, Level 3.
Our following keynote, "New Levels of Media Performance Data Enabled by Cloud Computing - and Impact on Other Sectors," will be presented by Scott Brown, GM & SVP Strategic Partnerships, Octoshape. How will marketers, sponsors, and advertisers respond to the ability to access "dashboards" that provide anonymized listener and viewer behavior in an unprecedented level of detail in real-time? How will this affect programming, scheduling, and sell-through services, as well as related industries?
The panel that succeeds Scott, "Cloud Measurement, Analytics, Implications," will cover this topic in greater depth. What are leading examples and key case studies of ways that cloud-computing solutions are accelerating processes, improving quality, and/or reducing costs of such functions as aggregating demographic and psychographic data, audience flow trends, and additional behavior information? What are the implications of cloud computing deployments in the A/V ecosystem on the consumer electronics (CE) and telecommunications industries?
Panelists will include Thomas Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates; Steve Hawley, Principal Analyst & Consultant, TVStrategies; Jonathan Hurd, Director, Altman Vilandrie & Co.; Jeff Kim, COO, US & EMEA, CDNetworks; Monica Ricci, Dir. of Product Marketing, CSG Systems; John Schiela, President, Phoenix Marketing International (PMI); Nick Strauss, Director of Sales, Verizon Digital Media Services; and Mike West, CTO, GenosTV.
Our final keynote, presented by Ashish Gupta, Strategist, Cloud Infrastructure, Huawei, will provide an overview of the ways that the "Disruptive Effects of Cloud Computing Will Continue." How will cloud computing technology continue to disrupt the A/V ecosystem, and where and when will we see the most profound changes to current business models and operations?
And the closing panel. "Years Ahead for Cloud Computing," will more thoroughly examine this provocative topic. What do the most credible forecasts and projections indicate about the ways that cloud-computing solutions will continue to impact the A/V ecosystem over the long term, and what will this mean for the underlying businesses that are based on content production and distribution?
Panelists will include Saul Berman, Lead Partner, IBM Global Business Services; Ian Donahue, President, RedThorne Media; Chris Haddad, VP, Technology Evangelism, WSO2; Wayne Josel, Counsel, Media & Entertainment, Hughes, Hubbard & Reed; Steve Mannel, Senior Director, Media & Communications, Salesforce.com; James Mitchell, CEO & Founder, Strategic Blue; David Sterling, Partner, i3m3 Solutions; and Chuck Stormon, CEO, Attend.
Please register early for the 2012 NAB Show and the CLOUD COMPUTING CONFERENCE to take advantage of discounts. This promises to be our most valuable and stimulating conference to date. Share wisely, and take care.
Digital Locker Market Grows with Increasing Consumer Interest
Excerpted from Business 2 Community Report by Jeff Adelson-Yan
Earlier this week, Google announced the arrival of its own cloud-based digital locker service. Called Google Drive, this cloud computing service is not the first of its kind. A growing trend, companies like Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft already have running with gradually growing success.
Cloud computing storage technology allows users to store extended content online and access this content on their home computers or on the go using tablets, smart-phones, or a hotel computer, for example, with nothing more than an app or Internet connection. One of the main benefits of the digital locker is its centralization of personal data and potentially unlimited availability.
A recent study uncovered a growing interest in cloud computing. A tremendous 90% of survey participants were "somewhat" to "very interested" in digital lockers. Surprisingly, the demographic with the most interest in using digital lockers is the oldest survey group, between the ages of 50-59.
The two younger age groups are 18-24 and 25-34. Despite the age difference, almost everyone in the study actively streams or downloads content monthly.
It is no surprise that additional content and access is so appealing. However, only 68% would be willing to pay a low fee of $25- $99 per year. Overall, a lot of people love the idea of a digital locker, but many are not willing to pay for it.
Fortunately, big tech companies are beginning to realize this, too. Apple's iCloud offers accounts from free to $100, with $24.99 for iTunes Match. Google Drive is expected to be free with a limited amount of storage but with the option to purchase larger plans.
The study ended with some thought-provoking suggestions. With interest in digital lockers as high as it is, digital media companies should consider taking advantage by heavily marketing their offerings, particularly toward baby boomers who are more interested in compiling their data in one place and may be more willing to pay for a service.
Targeting younger age groups through devices they use heavily, like game consoles or mobile devices is another great tactic. Additionally, companies should try to educate consumers about copyright policy and potential violations associated with digital libraries.
Telcos Poised to Disrupt Amazon's Enterprise Cloud
Excerpted from Information Week Report by David Berlind
Telephone companies have the assets and track record in delivering secure and reliable services to grab a piece of the enterprise cloud services market popularized by Amazon and Rackspace.
"The cloud is not the cloud without the network." Those were the words of NTT America CTO Doug Junkins during his keynote presentation at Monday's day-long Cloud Carrier Forum, one of several breakout summits that took place on the first day of the Cloud Connect conference in Santa Clara, CA.
Junkins was speaking to a standing-room-only (SRO) mix of cloud industry stakeholders including telcos; cloud infrastructure and management solution providers; enterprise consumers; and software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud application providers.
The message - practically a constant theme throughout the day - was that carriers like AT&T and Verizon are uniquely positioned to be the preferred providers of an array of cloud-based services to enterprises - everything from virtualized networks to public and private infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings. It's just a matter of time before the telcos recognize the opportunities, realign their currently siloed businesses, and embrace more of a "Telco 2.0" culture.
One point that was consistently made during the Forum: not only do the carriers already own the networks across which all cloud-based data and content is already trafficked, they have a decades-old and relatively bulletproof track record in delivering secure and highly available services.
The opportunity for both carriers and enterprises alike is not to be underestimated since the land grab for cloud computing customers is far from over. According to Heavy Reading senior analyst Ari Banerjee, cloud computing will account for a bare 13% of the global enterprise IT spend in 2013, leaving plenty of traditionally spent IT budget to be disrupted by the cloud.
That percentage is likely to climb through the decade as more IT pros begin to recognize that just about everything (including their networks) can be very cost-efficiently virtualized, and more organizations follow the lead of federal programs like the US government's Cloud First initiative, whereby agencies are required to consider cloud computing alternatives ahead of on-premises options.
Further explaining why carriers are well-positioned to take their piece of that pie, Banerjee detailed how the carriers "own the network, they own the subscribers, they are used to delivering five nines availability, they know how to provide turnkey applications and services to hot market segments like small and midsize businesses (SMBs), and much like the way that Amazon got started in the business of IaaS-provision, they have data centers with extra capacity."
Deep business and operations support systems (B/OSS) experience is another arrow in the quiver of telcos. Running and billing for highly available and scalable on-demand cloud-based services depends on the presence of equally scalable and available B/OSS--just another discipline that's already in the wheelhouse of all the major telcos.
Given telcos' background and existing role in delivery, the actual business opportunities are too numerous to list. For example, the economics of the telcos' data centers aren't substantially different from those of Amazon's or Rackspace's. There's no reason telcos can't deliver compute services like Amazon's EC2 or storage services like Amazon's S3, providing all of the necessary management infrastructure for migrating workloads from private to public clouds and even between multiple public clouds.
For telcos, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts, perhaps allowing them to achieve economies of scale across adjacent lines of business that companies like Amazon and Rackspace cannot. During one panel discussion, CloudScaling VP of strategy David Bernstein cited how KT (formerly Korea Telecom) was able to reduce mobile subscriber churn by 13% after adding cloud-based compute and storage services to its portfolio of offerings. With cloud-based storage in the mix, KT was able to offer storage services similar to those that Apple charges for in its iCloud service.
Another opportunity for telcos lies in the increasingly commoditized content delivery network (CDN) market that's currently dominated by the likes of Akamai. When it comes to CDNs, telcos have at least a couple natural advantages; existing multiple data centers (where the content can be located closer to its destination) and proximity of the content to network backbones that they own, thereby giving them a leg up over pure CDNs on both performance and cost.
Perhaps the best example of a telco in the CDN business is Level 3. According to Netflix lead cloud reliability engineer Jeremy Edberg, while Netflix relies on Amazon to handle the transactional part of retrieving content, Level 3 is the CDN. Once a user has the security keys to an asset, Netflix get out of the way and Level 3 delivers the content directly to the customer. Netflix is the largest consumer of the Internet bandwidth. In 2011, the Internet-based video provider peaked-out at 32% of North America's downstream traffic. "When you're streaming video, performance and reliability are everything," said Edberg. Referring to Level 3's role as a Tier 1 Network (in other words, it runs part of the Internet's backbone), Edberg said "you can't get the content any closer to the Internet than Level 3 can."
But as well-positioned as the telcos are to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Amazon and to scoop up the growing demand for enterprise cloud services, challenges remain. For example, collapsing currently siloed businesses into what customers perceive as a single cloud. Verizon enterprise strategy VP Mike Palmer gave an example of how customers want their SAP updates to come to them, no matter where they are. Traditionally for telcos however, sending that update over a multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network, versus a wireless network, to a smart-phone required the involvement of completely separate businesses. "It all has to be one business" said Palmer.
CloudScaling co-founder and CTO Randy Bias was a bit more skeptical saying that the carriers are just "throwing spaghetti against a wall waiting to see what sticks." During one panel discussion on choosing cloud models, Bias claimed that the telcos don't have the product management mentality needed to be successful in the IT space. "No one [at the telcos] owns this stuff," said Bias. "There are tons of opportunities for carriers to service companies with open clouds and to use their natural assets, but they are largely ill-equipped. It's just more of the central command and control that we're used to seeing from carriers."
Despite the challenges, the carriers seem undeterred. NTT America's Junkins and Verizon's Palmer detailed the many steps they are taking to capitalize on their natural advantages as carriers in an effort to garner attention from enterprises looking to benefit from the cloud. AT&T is in the mix too. Although its associate VP Toby Ford was a no-show for his slot onstage at the Cloud Carrier Forum, the company upped the cloud ante Monday when it announced a virtual provide cloud offering that allows customers to securely migrate their VMware-based workloads between their own data centers and AT&T's cloud.
Huawei's Big Cloud - Internal Virtual Desktops
Excerpted from iTWire Report by Stephen Withers
China-based communications vendor Huawei has revealed that more than 45,000 of its engineers around the world are using virtual desktops.
According to company officials, desktop virtualization improves efficiency and workflow for the engineers (in part because they can access the systems from almost anywhere), and reduces capital investment by 30% and power consumption by 73%.
Furthermore, system administration costs are reduced as only one IT engineer is needed per 1000 virtual desktops, compared with one per 100 physical desktops.
A Huawei spokesperson said the virtualization and cloud layer of the architecture was developed by Huawei, but cooperation with Citrix allowed the use of that company's ICA protocol to deliver Windows virtual desktops and applications to users.
In addition to its in-house use, Huawei provides desktop cloud services to 100,000 users in over 30 countries.
Joyent Cloud & Amplify Deliver Cloud Resources for Media Start-Ups
Joyent Cloud, the highest performance public cloud, and Amplify, a start-up accelerator focused on supporting innovative media and entertainment Internet start-ups, have announced a partnership to supply free cloud computing resources and marketing services to Amplify's portfolio companies.
Members of the Amplify start-up family will power their launches on Joyent SmartMachines running Joyent SmartOS, a unique operating system designed specifically for cloud computing. SmartOS and Joyent's SmartDataCenter are the core components behind Joyent's public cloud offering, a service designed specifically to deliver the premium performance required to power real-time applications.
Joyent Cloud is ideal for companies building applications that require low latency and lightning-fast end-user experiences. The Joyent Cloud currently powers over 300 million monthly unique visitors and hundreds of billions of monthly processes for leading Internet brands such as Voxer, LinkedIn, ModCloth, TaskRabbit, and Kabam.
"Joyent Cloud is focused on delivering the best performance at a reasonable price - real-time computing that can handle any end-user application," explains Oded Noy, Amplify's chief technologist and co-founder of start-ups Zag and Social Approach. "That's exactly what our startups need to develop, scale quickly and deliver great user experiences."
"Partnering with Amplify gives Joyent a chance to deliver a high-performance cloud platform that can scale up as young companies grow," said Joyent Cloud General Manager Steve Tuck. "Amplify and its first group of portfolio companies are ideally suited to take advantage of the superior performance we deliver with Joyent's SmartOS and SmartDataCenter."
Natural History Museum Selects Octoshape for Global Streaming
The Natural History Museum in London, UK will use Octoshape Infinite HD technology for streaming to global audiences. The Museum has a rich selection of unique content ranging from exhibitions and webcams to lectures and special interest group webcasts to a wide range of academic and government institutions. The Octoshape solution will complete the media installation in the Attenborough Studio.
"We have been looking for a video delivery solution that provides high quality video to a global audience," said Adam Richardson, Media Technicians Team Leader at the Natural History Museum. "Octoshape gives us more flexibility to do all the things we have wanted to do for years."
Distributing video can be very challenging when trying to reach audiences globally, or audiences inside enterprises or campus environments with restricted network resources. The Octoshape Infinite HD technology is designed differently than traditional streaming technologies to sustain high quality video experiences, while utilizing network resources in an efficient and network friendly manner.
"We are honored to work with such a prestigious and globally recognized organization such as the Natural History Museum," said Michael Koehn Milland, CEO of Octoshape. "We look forward to ensuring their content reaches their entire audience in the highest quality possible."
Zynga Changes the Game on Cloud Computing
Excerpted from WebProNews Report by Zach Walton
While Zynga's games may look simplistic, there's a lot of power and technology behind their games.
Zynga detailed the evolution of their zCloud servers that host all of their games yesterday. It's a fascinating look at the technology behind the social games that everybody knows and loves (or hates).
The company hosted its games on third-party servers at the start of their business. They didn't expect any of their games to take off as fast as Farmville did. They say that within the first six weeks on Facebook, Farmville grew from zero to 10 million daily active users. The game hit an astonishing 25 million DUAs within the first five months.
They moved Farmville to Amazon's cloud servers. They then realized that the cloud was the future of their business. The only problem is that they were on the public cloud. While it allows for massive expansion, it doesn't allow the developer to optimize how the server handles each game.
After realizing this, the company started work on their own private cloud infrastructure called zCloud:
It doesn't mean that they stopped using Amazon's service, however, as they used both cloud networks to host their games that now had millions of players. They used a new method of cloud computing in that they would use public cloud servers for the initial launch and explosion of players and then slowly move everybody over to their private cloud network.
They are slowly moving all of their games over to their private datacenters now. They even began to launch games in zCloud instead of public servers. At the start of last year, only 20 percent of their DAUs were in the zCloud. At the beginning of this year, 80 percent are now in the zCloud.
What they call a "new hybrid cloud" could be the future for large companies like Zynga that rely on massive amounts of data to support their products. Leveraging the abilities of private datacenters with what public cloud servers can supply could really speed up all kinds of applications from games to streaming films or music.
Bram Cohen: My Goal Is to Kill Off Television
Excerpted from GigaOM Report by Janko Roettgers
BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen demoed his P2P live streaming protocol at the San Francisco MusicTech Summit on Monday, which he said could potentially stream live video to millions of computers with no central infrastructure.
Cohen said that the protocol could potentially be used for video conferencing, live streams of video game tournaments or even live sports events. "My goal here is to kill off television," he joked.
Cohen has worked on P2P live streaming for a number of years, and told us a while back that he completely had to start from scratch because traditional P2P algorithms introduce too much latency for live applications.
BitTorrent hasn't said how exactly it intends to productize the protocol, but Cohen said on Monday that he is talking to a number of potential partners. BitTorrent has also started to run a number of field tests on its website in recent months, streaming weekly live music events with the P2P protocol.
The ultimate winners of a P2P-based solution could be consumers, he argued, because it would enable publishers to put much more content online at a fraction of the cost of traditional CDNs. "Most of the video that people consume today is still not on the Internet," said Cohen, adding that existing protocols aren't set up to support big live events.
Four Weird Things the Internet Is Doing to Our Understanding of Television
Excerpted from ALl Things D Report by Eric Spiegelman
People seem really intent these days on fusing television with the Internet. On one level this makes no sense. Television technology works just fine and we all understand how to use it.
We're also in the midst of a golden age when it comes to programming; I can't remember another time when there were this many good shows on. Also, television advertising rates are enormous compared to the Internet. There are people on YouTube who have more subscribers than top network sitcoms have viewers, yet they earn a minuscule fraction of the revenue.
Television, as an industry, is strong.
On another level, however, I understand the motivation. When it comes to delivering audio-visual content to a wide audience, the Internet has lowered the barriers to entry so far that anyone with even the dinkiest camera can become a major broadcaster. The television industry may face a crisis of overhead when a large number of scrappy upstarts deliver comparable value with almost no fixed costs. Also, there are some aspects of the television business that the Internet simply does better, specifically when it comes to reaching an audience.
So there is the scent of blood in the water, and out of the resulting frenzy a few lessons have appeared. Here are four of them.
There doesn't have to be a difference between a "channel" and a "show."
You probably have a clear understanding about what a television channel is. Comedy Central is a channel. Your local CBS affiliate is a channel. A channel is the thing you tune in to at a specific time to watch a particular show. A channel runs a lot of shows on it. Time Warner Cable offers 900 channels. This seems like too many. Bruce Springsteen wrote "57 channels and nothing on." That sounds so quaint now.
But if you have a conversation about YouTube channels with this concept of a "channel" in your head you may experience some cognitive dissonance. There are "tens of millions" of channels on YouTube. One company, Machinima, operates 3,380 of them. That's literally 100 times as many channels as are owned by NBC Universal, and it's not enough. YouTube just launched 100 more channels with premium content. YouTube must be using the word "channel" differently. Except they're not.
Both a YouTube channel and a television channel deliver a stream of content from a transmitting device to a receiving one. Viewers tune in to a television channel by selecting its number; they reach a YouTube channel via its URL. The main difference is that the cost of creating a television channel from scratch is incredibly high, while on YouTube it's pretty close to zero. Unlike television, a YouTube channel can turn a profit with very little programming. The comedian Ray William Johnson, for example, has one of the most lucrative channels on YouTube. It plays one show. That show adds 12 minutes of new programming per week.
If a channel online costs next to nothing, and you can build one around a single show, then why do television shows need television channels at all? Every once in a while there's a lot of fuss about getting cable channels a la carte. But who cares about that when you can have a la carte programming?
I like to think about this in the context of "The Daily Show." On cable, you're limited to 30 minutes of "The Daily Show" per day, and you have to tune in at 11 pm or set your DVR to watch it. There could easily just be a "Daily Show" channel, with all the extra programming that Comedy Central now reserves for the Web site, plus spinoffs for the various "Daily Show" correspondents. More content means more places to sell advertising, which means more profit. One challenge, of course, would be getting the audience to modify its behavior, but new technology seems to be inspiring this already.
Programming can now be delivered to your television set through a remote control.
Let's define "remote control" as a handheld piece of electronics that tells your television set what to do while you're sitting on the couch. Smart-phones and tablets fit into this category, and before you argue that this definition is too broad, I submit that an iPhone is no less a remote control than it is a camera. It commands your television set far more profoundly than your traditional remote control. At least, if you have an Apple TV. Which you should.
The Apple TV comes with a technology called AirPlay, which allows you to throw videos wirelessly from your phone or tablet to your television set. Got a movie sitting in iTunes on your computer? You can watch it on TV via AirPlay. Find a video you want to watch embedded on a Web site you read? If AirPlay is available, a little button will pop up and you can stream the video to your TV. Need some good recommendations? Try one of the many "discovery" apps out there, like Shelby.tv or ShowYou or VHX. They skim your Twitter and Facebook feeds looking for videos your friends have posted. And you can throw those to your TV.
There are apps for ESPN and Discovery Channel and PBS and other traditional channels that allow you watch their shows, on demand, on your TV, via AirPlay. There are also a growing number of apps for channels that have never been included in a traditional cable provider's lineup. The Wall Street Journal's news channel, WSJ Live, is one of them. Time Warner Cable doesn't carry it, but my iPad does.
I should note that WSJ Live is also available in the main Apple TV library, so you don't actually need to use AirPlay to watch it. But the fact that you can illustrates my point. The remote control has become a very personal device, one that you carry around with you all day long, one that you use to store and index your favorite media. A viewer is just as likely to watch a channel she's added to her home screen as anything available in the cable menu. The programming of her choice routes through her remote control.
Marketing and distribution are often the same thing.
Last month, IFC released the entire first episode of the second season of "Portlandia" online a week before its airdate. They used an embeddable video player, so that any online publication could feature the episode on its Web site. Individual sketches from the show were also made available in the same way. IFC didn't just tease the show or talk it up, they let people actually see it for themselves. The result was an 81 percent increase in viewership among 18-49 year olds when the show returned to the network.
There are few examples of this sort of thing happening before the Internet. A movie poster hanging in a theater where that movie is playing, perhaps, or a DVD insert in a magazine ad. But this is something the Internet does really well. A single sentence can promote a film and deliver it to your computer at the same time. Allow me to demonstrate: "This video is amazing."
That, of course, is the lifeblood of online publishing. Here's something that resonated with me, I'm recommending it to you, my audience. They call it "curating" now. Somehow that word got separated from "blogging" recently, and I'm not entirely sure how or why. I think Tumblr and Pinterest had something to do with it. But curating, which is a thing bloggers do, is a distinct talent. It's highly respected in other manifestations, such as museum curators or fashion buyers or television programmers. It was curators who spread that "Portlandia" preview around. And when you factor in the marketing power they brought to that show, and you consider how much a network pays to advertise a program in general, there's only one conclusion to draw. Online curators are the most undervalued talent in the television industry.
A few of those new YouTube channels seem to recognize the power of the curatorial voice. Vice, Pitchfork, SB Nation and the Bleacher Report all received funding to create new YouTube programming. Presumably their editors will create shows that they'd want to watch themselves, and with that level of personal investment, they'd vouch for those shows to their readers.
Television is no longer that different from publishing.
Just last week, the Gawker Media site Kotaku announced a programming schedule similar to that of a television network. This strategy was conceived well over a year ago, and is designed to sell audience size to advertisers, the way television does, rather than pageviews, which have been dropping in value for years.
This is only the latest example of conceptual overlap. Video embedding took off after the launch of YouTube, turning online publications into versions of The Daily Prophet, that newspaper from Harry Potter with the magical moving pictures on the front page. Some Internet video hosting and streaming services are built on content management systems designed for online publishing. When you upload a video to Blip, the last thing you click to make it go live is "publish." Awl Music, the music video channel launched by The Awl in January, is run entirely on Tumblr. You can watch it on a television set connected to Google TV.
Both traditional and online publishers are producing original video series with increasing frequency. Reuters, Slate and The Wall Street Journal all have news and documentary programming on the new YouTube channel lineup. The New York Times and New York Magazine have been doing their own video programming for years. It's only a matter of time before some of these compete with the cable news channels.
Radio's Place in the Cloud
Excerpted from Abacast Blog Report by Rob Green
The hot technology buzzword in computing today is the "cloud." You see this used all over the place from consumer services like Apple's new iCloud or Pandora to business services from companies such as Oracle or IBM but what does this mean to radio? What is the cloud? Does radio have a place in the cloud? Does radio care and if so, why?
Let's start with what "the cloud" is. Simply put, having something in the cloud just means that where you used to operate your own servers (either on your site or more likely in a data center) that performed all of your digital services (ad management, trafficking, automation, hosting, streaming, etc.), you can now run your digital services on computers that someone else manages and maintains. Furthermore, cloud companies' offer a host of important but low-level services that you don't have to think much about anymore including fault-tolerance so your services are always "on", ability to add new capacity automatically, disaster recovery, and more. This means cloud computing can dramatically lower your costs and will certainly lower the cost of launching new services and maintaining them.
All of this is now possible because the cost of the Internet has fallen dramatically and consistently, and software has gotten much more sophisticated which means it is actually easier to use across a network and it is now being designed from the outset to work this way. In fact, this is how we've designed our new digital trafficking system, Clarity, to work. It is "in" your radio station but really the guts of it reside in massive, secure, and redundant data centers.
The fact that these programs and services reside somewhere else is good for radio not only for the above mentioned reasons but it is also good for your vendors that have Cloud offerings too. That's because we don't have to spend our time and ultimately your precious dollars maintaining a bunch of computers and networks. We can now spend our time doing what we do best- writing programs that make your life easier and make your station more profitable.
There are other benefits to the Cloud, particularly if you are operating a cluster. Instead of each station working independently or someone schlepping files or sending tons of emails back and forth, the stations can be virtually connected and all information that you want to share, things like inventory levels, forecasts, campaign performance etc. can be aggregated and is available to anyone you choose. Further, this is now available across multiple devices, not just PCs, so you can log in from an iPad and have real time campaign performance information and in addition to the "cool" factor, it is just plain better for your business.
There have been questions about security regarding the migration of your systems to the cloud. I think this is more of a perception issue of no longer seeing lots of computer boxes and knowing that your data is somewhere else. To be clear, there's nothing inherently less secure about a cloud offering. In fact, it could be argued that in fact it is more secure because the data and computers are only managed by the best of the best IT professionals, people who have many, many companies data entrusted to them. In November 2011 Amazon reported that they had over 20K Cloud Front customers and their Cloud business is roughly doubling YoY.
If you are a GM or an owner and you would like to move to the cloud, there are several things you can do quickly and easily. An obvious choice is to move your Microsoft Office components from an on -premise solution to their hosted option. This means that Microsoft will manage your entire Exchange system, reducing your hardware needs and IT overhead. There are also a number of hosted IP based phone systems that eliminate the need for costly, complicated hardware and provide great features, usually at a lower cost than you can do it yourself. And, of course, you can move your online ad management system to the cloud.
In summary, what the Cloud means to radio is that it has never been easier or more cost effective to launch new services, particularly digital services. As the importance of these digital services grows, the cloud is enabling radio to invest at a lower cost and generate a higher ROI faster than ever before. In short- the cloud is enabling radio to compete and win.
Coming Events of Interest
Cloud Computing World Forum - February 28th-29th in Dubai, UAE. Now in its 2nd year, the Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East and North Africa is the only place to discuss the latest topics in cloud, including security, mobile, applications, communications, virtualization, big data, SaaS and much, much more.
Cloud Computing Imperative 2012 - March 12th-13th in Dubai, UAE. Strategies to implement IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and XaaS. Plan the shift of IT responsibilities, get fresh perspective on managing project budgets, build a strong ROI for cloud computing, understand the shift from managed services to the cloud, master the cloud infrastructure and see cloud security from a hacker's perspective.
2012 NAB Show - April 14th-19th in Las Vegas, NV. From Broadcasting to Broader-casting, the NAB Show has evolved over the last eight decades to continually lead this ever-changing industry. From creation to consumption, the NAB Show has proudly served as the incubator for excellence â€“ helping to breathe life into content everywhere.
CLOUD COMPUTING CONFERENCE at NAB - April 16th in Las Vegas, NV. Don't miss this full-day conference focusing on the impact of cloud computing solutions on all aspects of production, storage, and delivery of television programming and video.
Cloud Computing World Forum - May 8th in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Cloud Computing World Forum Africa is the only place to discuss the latest topics in cloud, including security, mobile, applications, communications, virtualization, CRM and much, much more.
Cloud Expo - June 11th-14th in New York, NY. Two unstoppable enterprise IT trends, Cloud Computing and Big Data, will converge in New York at the tenth annual Cloud Expo being held at the Javits Convention Center. A vast selection of technical and strategic General Sessions, Industry Keynotes, Power Panels, Breakout Sessions, and a bustling Expo Floor.