imagesOracle has announced aggressive expansion plans with a recruitment drive for junior and senior sales staff to be based in six cities across EMEA.

The cloud software giant is now actively headhunting for 1,400 new cloud sales staff to work out of sales HQs in Amsterdam, Cairo, Dubai, Dublin, Malaga and Prague. Oracle will be investing in two new cloud sales centres in Amsterdam and Cairo and new offices opening this year in Dubai, Dublin and Prague.

The new initiative follows a multi-billion dollar investment in a new portfolio of cloud computing services which Oracle claiming it now has ‘everything from secure computing infrastructure to enterprise cloud applications’. It currently offers 600 cloud applications to complement its on-premise hardware and software offerings. As enterprises move to hybrid cloud computing models, Oracle says it is now placed to help them manage their overall enterprise computing environment while simplifying the potentially difficult transition to the cloud.

Oracle claims that in the six months since June 2015 it has added nearly 1,500 new software as a service (SaaS) customers and 2,100 platform as a service (PaaS) customers.

Oracle president Loic Le Guisquet, said that though these are ‘exciting times’ for the software giant it will be very cautious about who it selects. “I want socially savvy, switched on individuals who can help customers respond to the digital imperative and make their businesses future proof,” said Le Guisquet, “we’re looking for people who want to be relevant to the biggest trends shaping business and technology.”

Experienced cloud sales staff may soon come at a premium as Oracle admitted it may try to attract staff from other operators. Recruits may well come from a sales organization within another cloud technology provider,” said a spokesperson.

Other stated targets will be “people with experience in the lines of business we sell to like finance, marketing and HR,” according to Oracle.

Is hybrid IT inevitable? That’s a question we ask customers a lot. From our discussions with CIOs and CEOs there is one overriding response and that is the need for changimagese. It is very clear that across all sectors, CEOs are challenging their IT departments to innovate – to come up with something different.

Established companies are seeing new threats coming into the market. These new players are lean, hungry and driving innovation through their use of IT solutions. Our view is that more than 70 percent of all CEOs are putting a much bigger ask on their IT departments than they did a few years ago.

There has never been so much focus on the CIO or IT departmental manager from a strategic standpoint. IT directors need to demonstrate how they can drive more uptime, improve the customer experience, or enhance the e-commerce proposition for instance, in a bid to win new business. For them, it is time to step up to the plate. But in reality there’s little or no increase in budget to accommodate these new demands.

We call the difference between what the IT department is being asked to do, and what it is able to do, the resources gap. Seemingly, with the rate of change in the IT landscape increasing, the demands on CIO’s by the business increasing and with little or no increase in IT budgets from one year to the next, that gap is only going to get wider.

But by changing their way of working, companies can free up additional resources to go and find their innovative zeal and get closer to meeting their business’ demands. Embracing Hybrid IT as their infrastructure strategy can extend the range of resources available to companies and their ability to meet business demands almost overnight.

Innovate your way to growth

A Hybrid IT environment provides a combination of its existing on-premise resources with public and private cloud offerings from a third party hosting company. Hybrid IT has the ability to provide the best of both worlds – sensitive data can still be retained in-house by the user company, whilst the cloud, either private or public, provides the resources and computing power that is needed to scale up (or down) when necessary.

Traditionally, 80 percent of an IT department’s budget is spent just ‘keeping the lights on’. That means using IT to keep servers working, powering desktop PCs, backing up work and general maintenance etc.

But with the CEO now raising the bar, more innovation in the cloud is required. Companies need to keep their operation running but reapportion the budget so they can become more agile, adaptable and versatile to keep up with today’s modern business needs.

This is where Hybrid IT comes in. Companies can mix and match their needs to any type of solution. That can be their existing in-house capability, or they can share the resources and expertise of a managed services provider. The cloud can be private – servers that are the exclusive preserve of one company – or public, sharing utilities with a number of other companies.

Costs are kept to a minimum because the company only pays for what they use. They can own the computing power, but not the hardware. Crucially, it can be switched on or off according to needs. So, if there is a peak in demand, a busy time of year, a last minute rush, they can turn on this resource to match the demand. And off again.

This is the journey to the Hybrid cloud and the birth of the agile, innovative market-focused company.

Meeting the market needs

Moving to hybrid IT is a journey.  Choosing the right partner to make that journey with is crucial to the success of the business. In the past, businesses could get away with a rigid customer / supplier relationship with their service provider. Now, there needs to be a much greater emphasis on creating a partnership so that the managed services provider can really get to understand the business. Only by truly getting under the skin of a business can the layers be peeled back to reveal a solution to the underlying problem.

The relationship between customer and managed service provider is now also much more strategic and contextual. The end users are looking for outcomes, not just equipment to plug a gap.

As an example, take an airline company operating in a highly competitive environment. They view themselves as being not in the people transportation sector, but as a retailer providing a full shopping service (with a trip across the Atlantic thrown in). They want to use cloud services to take their customer on a digital experience, so the minute a customer buys a ticket is when the journey starts.

When the passenger arrives at the airport, they need to check in, choose the seats they want, do the bag drop and clear security all using on-line booking systems. Once in the lounge, they’ll access the Wi-Fi system, check their Hotmail, browse Facebook, start sharing pictures etc. They may also choose last minute adjustments to their journey like changing their booking or choosing to sit in a different part of the aircraft.

Merely saying “we’re going to do this using the cloud” is likely to lead to the project misfiring. As a good partner the service provider should have the experience of building and running traditional infrastructure environments and new based on innovative cloud solutions so that they can bring ‘real world’ transformation experience to the partnership. Importantly they must also have the confidence to demonstrate digital leadership and understand of the business and its strategy to add real value to that customer as it undertakes the journey of digital transformation.

Costs can certainly be rationalised along the way. Ultimately with a hybrid system you only pay for what you use. At the end of the day, the peak periods will cost the same, or less, than the off-peak operating expenses. So, with added security, compute power, speed, cost efficiencies and ‘value-added’ services, hybrid IT can provide the agility businesses need.

With these solutions, companies have no need to ‘mind the gap’ between the resources they need and the budget they have. Hybrid IT has the ability to bridge that gap and ensure businesses operate with the agility and speed they need to meet the needs of the competitive modern world.

Written by Jonathan Barrett, Vice President of Sales, CenturyLink, EMEA

Google-officeCloud service giant Google has announced five new deals to buy 781MW of renewable energy from suppliers in the US, Sweden and Chile, according to a report on Bloomberg.

The deals add up to the biggest-ever purchase of renewable energy ever by a company that is not a utility, according to Michael Terrell, Google’s principal of energy and global infrastructure.

Google will buy 200 megawatts of power from Oklahoma-based Renewable Energy Systems Americas’s Bluestem wind project. From the same US state another 200 megawatts will be contributed by Great Western wind project run by Electricite de France. In addition, Google will also power its cloud services with 225 megawatts of wind power from independent power producer Invenergy.

Google’s data centres and cloud services in South America could become carbon free when the 80 megawatts of solar power that it has ordered from Acciona Energia’s El Romero farm in Chile comes online.

In Scandinavia the cloud service provider has agreed to buy 76 megawatts of wind power from Eolus Vind’s Jenasen wind project to be built in Vasternorrland County, Sweden.

In July, Google committed to tripling its purchases of renewable energy by 2025. At the time, it had contracts to buy 1.1 GW of sustainably sourced power.

Google’s first ever green power deal was in 2010 when it agreed to buy power from a wind farm in Iowa. Last week, it announced plans to purchase buy 61 megawatts from a solar farm in North Carolina.

Cloud Asia Awards
24th November 2015
The Mira Hong Kong

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The Cloud Asia Awards are now OPEN for submissions! 

The Cloud Asia Awards are back for the 2nd year, taking place at The Mira Hong Kong on the 24th November 2015 as part of the Cloud Asia Forum. In a constantly evolving industry, with so many cutting-edge Cloud providers and new entrants to the market, competition at this year’s awards is set to be the most fierce yet!

Our independent panel of judges are committed to recognising excellence, and assessing the best regardless of size, stature and reputation, so put your company forward!

Submit your entry here!

The 2nd Annual Cloud Asia Awards is a celebration of the drive, innovation and hard work in the APAC cloud computing industry, with three categories recognising services from across the ecosystem. The Awards will bring together the industry leaders and experts who have driven developments in Cloud over the past year.

The drinks reception will open with a lively lions dance performance, before leading into the ceremony, which will take place at the Cloud Asia Forum in The Mira Hong Kong on the 24th of November 2015.

The Awards will be judged by world class experts in Cloud Computing, who will independently select the shortlist and also select the winners. This year’s panel:

  • May-Ann Lim, Executive Director of the Asia Cloud Computing Association
  • Michael Mudd, Secretary General of Asia, Pacific and Middle East, the Open Computing Alliance.
  • Aman Neil Dokania, Vice-Chair, Asia Cloud Computing Association

We’re excited to announce this year’s categories:

  1. Best Cloud Computing Solution
  2. Best Cloud Security Solution
  3. Best Enterprise Mobility Solution

Submit your entry here

More information here

Good luck and we hope to be celebrating with you in Hong Kong this coming November!

Guest Blog with NCC Group

Author: John Parkinson, NCC Group

During the Cloud World Forum event in London on 24 July, we discussed the opportunities for Software as a Service businesses to become more successful. Focussing on the neglected issue of commercial security, we asked how the SaaS market can provide answers to potential supply failure in the market.  By anticipating, understanding and addressing the risks for customers who rely on outsourced application services, we argued that providers can contribute more to enhancing trust and confidence in the Software as a Service market.

How are SaaS businesses reacting to the issue?  In our experience, there are three broadly different attitudes:

  1. It was Mark Twain who perceptively wrote that ‘Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt’. The Risk Deniers perform according to type in asserting that it just won’t happen. ‘I haven’t failed yet and have no plans to do so’. Said with conviction it is likely that they have convinced themselves. As Isaac Asimov once wrote, they cling to the view that the easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists
  2. The largest group, the Agnostics, take a more considered view. They concede the possibility and see the wisdom of having a plan, but only if someone raises the question.  Whether hoping against hope, firmly in the wait and see camp or just too busy with other stuff, they generally accord with the opinion elucidated by TS Eliot that humankind cannot bear too much reality.
  3. Last but by no means least are the Innovators. They align instinctively to the perspective of Peter Drucker that innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. Salmon Software is one good example of a business that recognises this. John Byrne, the Salmon MD says ‘we understand the needs of our customers and the potential impacts of them not having access to the application’. Similarly Wazuko MD, Simon Hill asserts that the objective is ‘to show our existing customers and prospects that stepping into the cloud with Wazuko is simple and secure.’ Operating in a highly regulated sector of finance is Banking system provider, Mambu. MD Eugene Danilkis in a blog article commented: ‘Regulators have rightly recognised the critical role that technology providers play to support key business processes.  In turn, technology providers need to ensure consistent and reliable delivery of these services that financial institutions depend on to reinforce trust and extend the potential for future innovation and growth.’

As a SaaS Provider, which category do you fall into – a Denier, an Agnostic or an Innovator And which type of business would you trust when outsourcing your software services?

Original NCC Group blog here

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NCC Group were a Visionary Sponsor at the Cloud World Forum 2015, which took place on the 24th – 25th June.

The Cloud & DevOps World Forum delivers speed and continuous delivery to Europe’s Digital Enterprises, and will take place on the 21st – 22nd June 2016, at Olympia in London.

Register your interest for 2016 here

Guest Blog with MongoDB

Google and Why the New Standard for Modern Applications is a Non-Relational Database Deployed in the Cloud

Author: Kelly Stirman, VP of strategy at MongoDB

It’s positively raining cloud stories. Sorry. Cloud puns are so over…cast. Regardless, recent months have seen some interesting developments in the high stakes game for control of the foundational layer of your application stack i.e. what database you use and where it’s deployed. In early May Google released Cloud BigTable as a managed NoSQL database. Two weeks later Gartner released its  Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (Cloud IaaS) report.

While unrelated, the two announcements both shine some light on our path to a new, cloud-rich future. While the aspiring cloud giant Google gave further validation, if it were needed, that  NoSQL databases deployed in the cloud are the new standard for modern applications.

You see, the workload from modern applications is quite different from what it’s been in the past. Building your own data centre and installing a relational database was fine when you could predict the size, speed and type of data. Applications in 2015 are a different breed. The growth of social, mobile and sensor data has dramatically altered the way we approach development. Developers can’t tell in advance what any of this will look like in the final production version of their application, let alone future iterations.

Many organisations are already overcoming this by deploying non-relational databases on commodity hardware in the cloud. This approach lets companies gear up for massive scale and gives them enough flexibility to incorporate new data types that will support business processes and provide operational insight.

Google’s BigTable and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant

Google’s announcement highlighted two things. One: the big infrastructure players are looking to diversify and find new ways to wring revenue from the big data stack. Two: BigTable’s release illustrated that all major data innovation is happening away from relational data models.  Relational databases aren’t going anywhere fast, but they are challenged by the requirements of modern applications. In particular the trickiest of the three Vs of big data – variety of data types. BigTable is yet another database-as-a-service offering that is designed to be deployed on the vendor’s own cloud infrastructure, see also Amazon and Microsoft.

From one cloud provider’s announcement, we now look at a broader view of the industry from Gartner. This is from the introduction to the Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide report[1]:

The market for cloud IaaS is in a state of upheaval, as many service providers are shifting their strategies after failing to gain enough market traction. Customers must exercise caution when choosing providers.

The report went on to explain that ‘all the providers evaluated are believed to be financially stable, with business plans that are adequately funded. However, many of the providers are undergoing significant re-evaluation of their cloud IaaS businesses’. In other words, some vendors may not be in it for the long haul.

What it means for you

As well as diversification into database services, the cloud competition is also sparking a healthy price war. Just a few days after the Magic Quadrant was released Google announced it was slashing prices by as much as 30%. Microsoft and Amazon are also fond of aggressive pricing as they try to eat as much market share as possible.

Which brings us back to Google’s launch of NoSQL database-as-a-service BigTable. The release came on the back of Microsoft’s recent Azure DocumentDB announcement and, of course Amazon’s own DynamoDB offering. As the competition for cloud infrastructure drives margins down, the big players are looking up the stack to drive revenue and it’s clear NoSQL technology is one of the most attractive areas.

Though it’s worth pointing out that these as-a-service database offerings generally come with a very narrow set of features. For example Cloud BigTable is a wide column store with a simple key-value query model. Like some other NoSQL databases, it is limited by:

  • A complex data model which presents a steep learning curve to developers, slowing the rate of new application development
  • Lack of features such as an expressive query language (key-value only), integrated text search, native secondary indexes, aggregations and more. Collectively, these enable organisations to build more functional applications faster

Ultimately the cloud providers can relieve users of some of the overhead of running a database but they still will have to deal with the complexity of mastering data models and working around key-value query limitations.

Out of the chaos it’s becoming clear that a non-relational database hosted in the cloud, is going to be the predominant way modern companies deploy applications. Each customer will have varying demands of control. Some will want everything ‘as-a-service’, others will want full control over how and where their database runs and security on each layer of the stack. In the modern world of cloud-ready, non-relational databases, you have more choice than ever. That choice can also bring a risk of vendor lock-in, if you select an offering that is tied to one specific platform, no matter how ‘web-scale’ that platform claims to be.

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[1] Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide, Lydia Leong et al, May 18, 2015

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MongoDB will be exhibiting at the Cloud World Forum taking place on the 24th & 25th June 2015.

Kelly Stirman is Vice President of Strategy at MongoDB, speaking at the Cloud World Forum on the 25th June at 10.35 in Theatre A: Keynote – Building Business in the Cloud on ‘Escaping Cloud Cuckoo Land: 5 Tips for Making Success a Reality in the Cloud.’

REGISTER YOUR FREE EXHIBITION PASS HERE.

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Guest Blog with IBM

Author: Simon Porter

Cloud computing is the most touted technology in the global business landscape today. Europe is no exception.

There are two main ways we’re seeing businesses take advantage of the cloud in Europe. First, there are the smaller, innovative, and born-on-the-cloud startup companies that use it to help them disrupt existing industries by getting to market faster and with less upfront capital investment.

The second area where we’re seeing European companies take advantage of cloud is at more established enterprises looking to enter new, international markets. As companies here seek to become more global, they’re looking toward non-European markets—whether by selling into those markets or tapping into suppliers. In these cases, cloud empowers them to enter these new markets by providing the flexibility, speed and scalability needed to be a global player.

Cloud also enables businesses to market and sell to customers in new and more efficient ways. With the proliferation of smartphones and social media, business success relies on turning this technology into new sales channels. This is often referred to as systems of engagement, and with unpredictable volumes, it’s ideally suited to cloud.

The economic climate in Europe is improving, but it remains very competitive. It is critical for businesses to optimize their supply chains and lower their sales and support costs. Applying sophisticated analytics is one effective way of doing this. In the past, this was prohibitively expensive. But cloud enables analytics-as-a-service, removing the need and cost for a large up-front investment in an IT system that may be used only a few hours per month.

Challenges in cloud adoption persist

According to a Eurostat study released this past year, only 19 percent of European businesses used cloud computing services in 2014. Compare that to a recent RightScale study that reports 82 percent of U.S. enterprises as having a hybrid cloud strategy (up from 74 percent in 2014), and it would appear that Europe is lagging. However, that’s only part of the story.

You can expect the European cloud adoption numbers to rise sharply this year and even more in years to come. But as with any emerging technology, there remains barriers to adoption.

Chief among those barriers is security.

According to a recent Cloud Industry Forum poll, 70 percent of U.K. executives cited data security among their biggest concerns in moving to cloud. That marks an 11 percent year-over-year increase.

What IT departments in Europe are seeing is something quite different than what the rest of the world is experiencing, and that stems from data location and security. A lot of the questions around security and data location are driven by perceptions in the market that aren’t always true. Security in a cloud-based solution will often be much stronger than that of an on-premises, in-house IT solution.

To remain competitive, European businesses must work through security challenges—and I fully believe that they will. It’s ultimately not a matter of technical or legal challenges preventing cloud adoption in Europe—it’s about business leaders understanding the transformational benefits cloud can bring to their business, and then typically for midsize businesses taking advantage of this by using a local trusted Cloud Service Provider.

The good news  is that IBM is continuing to open data centers in Europe. We now have centers in the U.K., Netherlands, Germany, France, and most recently announced, Italy. But even with this span of locations, customers want to keep their data in country.

European SMBs typically lack resources and the IT skills to take advantage of this new kind of capability. They need to turn to a local service provider that can essentially be their IT department. At IBM, we’re continuing to expand our partnerships with local cloud service providers as a means of enabling local data and secure environments with IBM’s Managed Service Providers.

A move to hybrid 

In the business world, we recognize clients have already made investments in core IT systems. We find that European customers want to protect and enhance them with new, innovative capabilities that enable them to make better business decisions faster with advanced analytics. Companies are also able to reach new customers and markets with multi-channel marketing and sales capabilities, both largely based on cloud-enabled digital and social technologies.

For example, a client may have an existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that they have invested a lot of time and money in over the years. They still need to see a return on that investment. It is impractical to completely replace it with a new solution, but perhaps enhancing it with social analytics or social engagement could help them in their customer service and marketing.

Combining mission-critical, on-premises systems with new cloud-based systems of engagement is an example of a common hybrid cloud solution. This is how many businesses in Europe protect their existing investments in IT while taking advantage of new delivery models.

An eye toward the future 

The world is only getting flatter. There are multiple new entrants in many industries, and existing businesses will have to differentiate their own offerings to remain competitive. Who would have thought the taxi industry could be disrupted in the way that Uber has done? Cloud can be the key enabler for businesses to innovate around new products and channels faster and in a lower risk manner.

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IBM will be at the Cloud World Forum on Stand D150, taking place on the 24th – 25th June 2015.

Tony Morgan, Client Chief Innovation Officer GTS Europe at IBM will be speaking on Day 1 at 11:05am in Theatre C: DevOps & Containerisation on ‘Speaker out of the Shadows: Managing Innovation with Cloud.’ 

REGISTER YOUR FREE EXHIBITION PASS HERE.

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