Platform-As-A-Service: Cloud Providers' Silver Bullet?

Stefan Ried

I’ve been writing about platform-as-a-service (PaaS) since the beginning of 2009, and we published our first Forrester Wave™ on the PaaS market about 18 months ago. While the lines between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are blurring in the minds of some end users and developers, delivering PaaS requires a lot more intellectual property on the part of the cloud provider. IaaS is “just” the offering of an industrialized infrastructure service — but full PaaS service turns the cloud provider basically into a real software vendor or VAR of a decent stack of software platform components.

The market has undergone amazing changes since 2009 and the market landscape has been shaken up considerably since the last Forrester Wave. Why? A number of vendors have joined the crowd from three different directions:

  • IaaS cloud providers such as Amazon are moving up the stack to PaaS. From advanced database, messaging, and parallel processing to identity management and federation services, Amazon is arming itself with a myriad of value-added PaaS services to combat margin pressure in the commoditizing pure infrastructure space. Other IaaS providers are about to follow, most by OEMing PaaS stacks like those from Cordys or LongJump, or some other PaaS stack that is available to third-party infrastructure provider models.
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FlexFrame Private Cloud Management For SAP – Revamped At Fujitsu Forum 2012

Stefan Ried

 

Fujitsu’s annual Fujitsu Forum attracted about 13.000 in Tokyo and even about 10.000 people over the last two days in Munich. Fujitsu’s strength is still the competitive hardware portfolio in the class of IBM and HP. And similar to HP, Fujitsu used to have a narrow and focused software portfolio, which offered value very close to their hardware. The FlexFrame infrastructure management product is a traditional example of this strategy. But, before we go into FlexFrame, I have to attest that Fujitsu’s software portfolio has become richer and broader:

  • This year’s Fujitsu Forum showed major traction for the Fujitsu Cloudstore. An ecosystem approach enables software vendors to offer SaaS application in the SMB space in Germany. The concept is now rolling out to other countries and even to the US. Fujitsu’s Cloudstore also holds Fujitsu’s own CRM solutions, which are based on an early branch of Sugar CRM and now further developed by Fujitsu.
  • A personal cloud approach, still very close to all flavors of personal hardware from Fujitsu, but well supported by multiple software tools and scenarios.
  • Fujitsu Eco Track, an energy/carbon management and compliance reporting application – delivered exclusively next quarter as a Fujitsu-developed SaaS application.
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Axway Aquires Vordel: Why Does The Acquisition Of Security Experts By Integration Vendors Make Sense?

Stefan Ried

Axway just announced it will acquire the security specialist Vordel; and you might ask, does this make sense at all?

I do believe it does!

Actually, I was personally evaluating security vendors as an acquisition target for middleware vendors and B2B integration companies a number of times over the last five years as a Forrester analyst (and before).

The need to modernize security around integration scenarios becomes more important than ever:

  • Traditional B2B integration over private networks is more and more replaced with B2B connectivity and cloud-based integration over the Internet.
  • Traditional rigid EDI gateways still exist and handle huge volumes, but many new applications are developed in the cloud and access synchronous REST or SOAP APIs for immediate customer and partner engagement.
  • Large enterprises have heterogeneous integration strategies to meet different characteristics of integration. See my recent blog for an overview.
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Wal-Mart Uses Boxee TV To Accelerate Cord-Shaving

James McQuivey

This week Wal-Mart announced that it would put significant weight behind the new Boxee TV box, a $99 set-top box that competes with the market-leading Apple TV and the runner-up Roku boxes. Wal-Mart also sells the Apple TV and Roku devices, so it might not seem like a big deal, but it is. Because Wal-Mart is going to promote Boxee TV with in-store displays and outbound marketing support. Why? Because in addition to the regular apps like Hulu, Netflix, and the rest, Boxee gives Wal-Mart customers three things they can't get from Apple or Roku:

  1. Regular TV shows from local broadcasters. Boxee's new box has a digital tuner that lets you tune to digital signals from ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, NBC, PBS, and Univision through either an over-the-air antenna or via ClearQAM. 
  2. Unlimited DVR. Not only will Boxee let you watch these channels, it is offering unlimited cloud DVR for $9.99 a month (in only the top eight markets for now) to record any shows from those networks, without managing a hard drive or paying extra if you want to store hours and hours of video.
  3. Multidevice viewing. This is the real coup for Boxee. Because its DVR is in the cloud, it can send your recorded content to any device you log in to -- whether it's in your home or in your hands while traveling for business. 
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You’re Running Out Of Excuses To Not Try Microsoft Windows Azure

James Staten

If you have dismissed Microsoft as a cloud platform player up to now, you might want to rethink that notion. With the latest release of Windows Azure here at Build, Microsoft’s premier developer shindig, this cloud service has become a serious contender for the top spot in cloud platforms. And all the old excuses that may have kept you away are quickly being eliminated.

In typical Microsoft fashion, the Redmond, Washington giant is attacking the cloud platform market with a competitive furor that can only be described as faster follower. In 2008, Microsoft quickly saw the disruptive change that Amazon Web Services (AWS) represented and accelerated its own lab project centered around delivering Windows as a cloud platform. Version 1.0 of Azure was decidedly different and immature and thus struggled to establish its place in the market. But with each iteration, Microsoft has expanded Azure’s applicability, appeal, and maturity. And the pace of change for Windows Azure has accelerated dramatically under the new leadership of Satya Nadella. He came over from the consumer Internet services side of Microsoft, where new features and capabilities are normally released every two weeks — not every two years, as had been the norm in the server and tools business prior to his arrival.

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Best In Cloud Award Winner - Congratulations From Forrester

Stefan Ried

 

Computerwoche Germany has organized this week the second annual BestInCloud Award. I had the honor to be on a jury for this unique award again. The BestInCloud Award is really unique, as it does not simply compare cloud products. It is looking at successful implementations of real cloud projects in Germany. The balance of great customer value AND a good leverage of an underlying cloud IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS is the secret source to convince the jury. I'd like to congratulate this year's winners and share with you what impressed me personally most with these projects:

 

SaaS - Public Cloud: arvato systems GmbH 

Customer: Janssen KG

Project: farmpilot - mobile farm management 

This project was the only SaaS application heavily leveraging mobile access to the cloud in addition to bringing multiple companies, including farmers, contractors, and agricultural traders, together in a way it would never be possible if a single company owned a system on premises.

 

SaaS - Privat Cloud: Plex Systems, Inc.
Customer: Inteva Products, Inc.
Projekt: Inteva Products, Inc. implemented an integrated ERP system for manufacturing

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OpenWorld And Dreamforce: A Competitive Game

Stefan Ried

Actually, most customers do not directly compare Oracle with Salesforce.com, as organizations buy very different things from these two vendors. While Oracle has a diversified portfolio of middleware components and a bunch of business applications, Salesforce still clearly makes the majority of its revenue from its SaaS CRM products, delivered exclusively via a native public cloud. You are also welcome to read the blog of my colleague James Staten, who explored Oracle Oracle’s cloud announcements in detail.

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IBM Raises The CPU Technology Bar With POWER7+

Richard Fichera

Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general of despicable ideology and consummate tactics, spoke of “keepin up the skeer,” applying continued pressure to opponents to prevent them from regrouping and counterattacking. POWER7+, the most recent version of IBM’s POWER architecture, anticipated as a follow-up to the POWER7 for almost a year, was finally announced this week, and appears to be “keepin up the skeer” in terms of its competitive potential for IBM POWER-based systems. In short, it is a hot piece of technology that will keep existing IBM users happy and should help IBM maintain its impressive momentum in the Unix systems segment.

For the chip heads, the CPU is implemented in a 32 NM process, the same as Intel’s upcoming Poulson, and embodies some interesting evolutions in high-end chip design, including:

  • Use of DRAM instead of SRAM — IBM has pioneered the use of embedded DRAM (eDRAM) as embedded L3 cache instead of the more standard and faster SRAM. In exchange for the loss of speed, eDRAM requires fewer transistors and lower power, allowing IBM to pack a total of 80 MB (a lot) of shared L3 cache, far more than any other product has ever sported.
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AMD Acquires SeaMicro — Big Bet On Architectural Shift For Servers

Richard Fichera

[For some reason this has been unpublished since April — so here it is well after AMD announced its next spin of the SeaMicro product.]

At its recent financial analyst day, AMD indicated that it intended to differentiate itself by creating products that were advantaged in niche markets, with specific mention, among other segments, of servers, and to generally shake up the trench warfare that has had it on the losing side of its lifelong battle with Intel (my interpretation, not AMD management’s words). Today, at least for the server side of the business, it made a move that can potentially offer it visibility and differentiation by acquiring innovative server startup SeaMicro.

SeaMicro has attracted our attention since its appearance (blog post 1, blog post 2) with its innovative architecture that dramatically reduces power and improves density by sharing components like I/O adapters, disks, and even BIOS over a proprietary fabric. The irony here is that SeaMicro came to market with a tight alignment with Intel, who at one point even introduced a special dual-core packaging of its Atom CPU to allow SeaMicro to improve its density and power efficiency. Most recently SeaMicro and Intel announced a new model that featured Xeon CPUs to address the more mainstream segments that were not a part of SeaMicro’s original Atom-based offering.

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Microsoft Announces Windows Server 2012

Richard Fichera

The Event

On Tuesday, September 4, Microsoft made the official announcement of Windows Server 2012, ending what has seemed like an interminable sequence of rumors, Beta releases, and endless speculation about this successor to Windows Server 2008.

So, is it worth the wait and does it live up to its hype? All omens point to a resounding “YES.”

Make no mistake, this is a really major restructuring of the OS, and a major step-function in capabilities aligned with several major strategic trends for both Microsoft and the rest of the industry. While Microsoft’s high level message is centered on the cloud, and on the Windows Server 2012 features that make it a productive platform upon which both enterprises and service providers can build a cost-effective cloud, its features will be immensely valuable to a wide range of businesses.

What It Does

The reviewers guide for Windows Server 2012 is over 220 pages long, and the OS has at least 100 features that are worth noting, so a real exploration of the features of this OS is way beyond what I can do here. Nonetheless, we can look at several buckets of technology to get an understanding of the general capabilities. Also important to note is that while Microsoft has positioned this as a very cloud-friendly OS, almost all of these cloud-related features are also very useful to an enterprise IT environment.

  • New file system — Included in WS2012 is ReFS, a new file system designed to survive failures that would bring down or corrupt the previous NTFS file system (which is still available). Combined with improvements in cluster management and failover, this is a capability that will play across the entire user spectrum.
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