Several years ago barriers abound for companies looking into adopting cloud computing technology, including the costs among cloud providers and the debate over cloud vs. on-premise data centers and software. Today, these barriers are far less of a concern and the conversation has moved on from the “should we do it” mentality to focus on what companies can do with cloud computing. Google’s announcements align with what we’re seeing from other major cloud players like Amazon, Microsoft and IBM. The conversation among these companies revolve around how the cloud changes business operations from the small “Mom and Pop” stores to global enterprises. As this technology continues to evolve, cloud providers are modifying their offerings and improving security, making way for new business models and applications. At Google’s recent “Google Cloud Next ‘18” conference, Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene said, “Throughout Next ’18, we will be going deep on AI and security, areas that Google invests in heavily. Why? Because security is the number one worry, and AI is the number one priority.”

Continue reading at InformationWeek…

By Reuters Staff

TEL AVIV, April 16 (Reuters) – Oracle Corp co-CEO Safra Catz said on Monday she expected an acceleration in the companýs cloud business after the software maker last month reported sales from this business that fell short of Wall Street forecasts.

Catz told reporters in Tel Aviv that the companýs cloud business was impacted by a new model made available to customers three quarters ago that resulted in much higher than projected licence growth.

“That makes the appearance of a lower number (for the cloud business) even though money is actually coming into another bucket,” Catz said.

Continue reading at Reuters

By Barry Levine

There is now a B2B side to complement the previous B2C focus, pointing to more ways for Salesforcés CRM to become e-commerce-enabled.

In mid-2016, Salesforce bought commerce platform Demandware, which became the basis for its new Commerce Cloud.

Now, with the recent closing of its acquisition of commerce platform CloudCraze, Salesforce is adding B2B to its Commerce Cloud. But therés more to that story, former CloudCraze EVP of Strategy — and now Salesforce VP for B2B Commerce Strategy — Andy Peebler told me.

Aside from its focus on B2B, he said, CloudCraze offers another advantage: It́s built natively onto the Salesforce platform. By contrast, Demandware was an existing platform that is now integrated with Salesforce.

This results in faster performance for CloudCraze purchases, he said, especially when a user is coming from Salesforcés customer relationship management system (CRM). The salesperson has access to the same customer record in both the CRM and the store.

A salesperson using the Salesforce CRM, he noted, can close the sales process and then supervise the actual purchase.

In some cases, it can be very useful to have the salesperson involved through actual purchase, Peebler pointed out. For instance, therés the use case of a customer who wants to get a few new things suggested by the sales rep when supplies are reordered, and the salesperson can guide the buyer to the specific models or types.

Peebler said that, if a salesperson is using Oracle or SAP and wants to integrate the commerce platform into their CRM, they have to pay additional for that connectivity. CloudCraze, he said, is the only B2B e-commerce platform built natively into Salesforce.

Continue reading at Martech

By Scott Carey

SAP CEO Bill McDermott appears to be readying the company to lock horns with the cloud CRM incumbent Salesforce with a new product launch in June

SAP is preparing to launch a new cloud CRM product at its upcoming Sapphire event in June, in a bid to overtake the current market leader Salesforce.

Speaking on an earnings call for Q1 2018 last week, SAP CEO Bill McDermott fired the first shots in what could become a heated war of words between the two major vendors.

“So called cloud CRM is nothing more than overpriced software running on first generation SaaS architecture,” he said. “This is probably why so many have responded so eagerly to SAP’s recent statement about a new vision for CRM. They know, change is coming, we are coming.”

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This move comes in the wake of an indirect access scandal which has seen customers like Diageo effectively punished for using Salesforce software on top of their SAP ERP systems. It also follows the recent acquisitions of Callidus Cloud and Gigya, which at the time were referenced as useful assets for SAP to enhance its customer relationship management (CRM) software offering.

Going further McDermott responded to an analyst question by stating: “Basically we are going to rebrand the whole CRM category, it́s going to be a massive movement at Sapphire and we’re going to show every customer that they can be a best run business by running SAP and no longer do they have to be relegated to an outdated sales platform with complex integration layers trying to get that data out of the ERP system.”

Continue reading at IT World

By Linda Hardesty

Last week Microsoft, Amazon, and Alphabet all reported strong growth in their cloud businesses. Microsoft won the quarter in terms of revenue, compared to Amazon Web Services (AWS), and followed by Alphabet́s Google Cloud.

Microsoft́s commercial cloud revenue for its fiscal third quarter of 2018 was $6 billion, increasing 58 percent year over year. As part of its commercial cloud business, its Azure cloud service revenue grew a whopping 93 percent in the quarter, compared to the same quarter the previous year.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the intelligent cloud and the intelligent-edge era is here. “We took significant steps this quarter to put this at the forefront of everything we do, realigning our entire engineering organization to accelerate innovation,” he said, according to transcripts.

During the recent quarter, Microsoft also announced Azure Sphere, which uses Linux software to power tiny chips for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The technology includes three components: a thumbnail-sized micro-controller unit, a Linux-based operating system, and a cloud-based security service.

On the earnings call with investors, Nadella said, “Wére innovating in silicon to help customers realize the promise of a connected world of devices and things. Our just-announced Azure Sphere is a first of its kind highly secure edge solution that combines chip design and IoT operating system and a cloud service to secure more than 9 billion microcontroller-powered devices entering the market each year.”

For its first quarter of 2018, Amazon reported that its AWS business generated $5.4 billion in revenue, up 49 percent compared to the same quarter last year. Brian Olsavsky, Amazońs CFO, said AWS is seeing an increased pace of new enterprise customers, and they are trying new services. “We are seeing people move more and more of their workflows to AWS and at a faster pace,” said Olsavsky. “And customers are moving databases to AWS as Aurora continues to grow at a very rapid clip.”

Amazon Aurora is a MySQL and PostgreSQL compatible relational database built for the cloud. AWS says it combines the performance of high-end commercial databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.

AWS recently announced that the Aurora service is the fastest growing service in the history of the company with tens of thousands of users, a number that has increased by about two-and-a-half times in the last year.

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With cybersecurity making its way front and center across the world, major cloud companies are taking measures to ensure their own lessons learned and internal investments are available to everyone. This was evident at last yeaŕs Google Next conference, during which its announcements focused on how Google Next has begun to share its security expertise in cloud computing through new offerings. Following the conference, Google Next came out with more announcements and best practices about data loss prevention, identity controls and partnering with third party security companies. This underscores how much of a priority cybersecurity has become to major cloud companies and helping businesses rethink how they can manage their own data using the same tools that cloud platforms use to secure their own systems based on years of lessons.

Continue reading at Forbes…

By Kalev Leetaru

In a world of seemingly hourly data breaches, it can seem at times that the battle for cybersecurity has officially been lost and that there is nothing more for businesses to do but wait for the inevitable breaches to come and perform damage control. Smaller businesses without the means to invest in advanced cyber defenses find themselves inundated with questionable solutions that offer few protections, while larger companies struggle to afford maintaining large staffs of top security professionals. Into this cyber Wild West, the major cloud companies have begun moving aggressively to take their own lessons learned and massive internal security investments and make them broadly available to the rest of the world. Could this finally shift the cyber tide?

Cybersecurity was front and center at last yeaŕs Google Next cloud conference, with a wealth of announcements and reminders of how the company has begun externalizing its security prowess through a series of new offerings. Last month the company followed this up with a flurry of new announcements from access auditing to data loss prevention to identity controls to new partnerships with third party security companies, emphasizing just how much of a growth area the major cloud companies see the cyber environs.

Some of these new tools, like Google’s Cloud Security Command Center, are essentially cloud-scale security scanners, designed to survey a companýs entire cloud footprint, identifying potential vulnerabilities or forgotten entrance points. Given that one of the most common causes of data breaches in the cloud are misconfigured access restrictions on storage resources and forgotten or improperly secured systems, such scanners should help close the remaining gap, especially when paired with a renewed focus on user management in the cloud era. Unlike the VPN castle defenses of past, in which companies surrounded their assets with extensive monitoring, but blindly trusted anyone that got inside, cloud vendors are pushing businesses towards their own “trust nothing” model that better reflects the reality of the uncertain world in which we live. Instant infrastructure DDOS protection allows companies to better fend off crippling attacks using the same systems that protect Google itself.

Preventing malicious insiders and skilled attackers that manage to get in through the front door from walking back out the door with a companýs crown jewels has gained renewed emphasis, with Googlés DLP API removing many of the barriers to companies being able to implement enterprise-grade filtering, from OCŔing of image content to contextual detection. One-click statistical outlier detection makes it easier for companies to identify inadvertent holes in their anonymization workflows. Third party partnerships offer countless additional services, while improved auditing allows total visibility into all access of a companýs data.

Amazon and Microsoft have similarly invested heavily in helping their customers build security-conscious applications and infrastructures that are designed for todaýs world, rather than the quaint naïve blind trust of yesteryeaŕs web. Moreover, the major cloud vendorś global footprints mean companies can mitigate their physical risk as well by distributing their applications geographically, allowing for seamless continuity of operations even in the face of natural or human disasters.

Continue reading at Forbes

Knowing that smart meters can produce an ongoing stream of data for utilities has prompted Illinois regulators to change the states outdated rules that currently discourage companies from investing in apps and software that would allow them to leverage this data. A report from the Advanced Energy Economy Institute (AEE) pushes for states to consider changes that would give utility companies a financial incentive to encourage them to move to cloud computing. With smart meters becoming more and more prevalent, the potential benefits for customers and the electric grid grows as well. Danny Waggoner – one of the authors of the AEE report – says, “I think the best interest of the customer is to allow utilities to consider all of its options and equal footing.” Illinois Commerce Commission’s CEO Brien Shehan weighed in as well, saying that regulators need to “level the playing field” between hardwired software and cloud computing. He also said that “new IT models can improve the power transmission system and reduce the cost to utilities and customers.

Continue reading at Energy News…

By Kevin Stark

States could encourage investment in smart-grid apps and software by changing rules that reward spending on capital instead of services.

Smart meters produce an endless stream of data for utilities, but outdated regulations discourage them from investing in apps and software that could make use of the information.

A recent report from the Advanced Energy Economy Institute (AEE) urges states to consider reforms that would give utilities more financial incentive to embrace cloud computing and other technology. Illinois is among a handful of states already considering such changes.

The problem stems from the way most utilities make money: Companies are generally rewarded for making capital investments — think power plants or computer hardware — but not for operational costs such as salaries or software services.

As smart meters become increasingly common, the potential for cloud computing to produce tangible benefits for customers and the electric grid is growing, too. That́s why some want to see a way for utilities to incorporate those investments into a rate base.

“The financial incentives — and what they motivate utilities to do — are not always in the best interest of customers,” said Danny Waggoner, an author of the AEE report, Utility Earnings in a Service-Oriented World, which outlines ways that cloud computing and distributed energy could replace capital investment as a major source of revenue for utilities.

The report describes five potential regulatory models designed to help utilities invest in services rather than capital “at equal or lower cost to customers, while in many cases providing equivalent or greater earnings to the utility.”

As distributed energy resources rise and more and more smart devices are plugged into the grid, utilities need more advanced systems to analyze all the data, and many argue that this work should be outsourced to IT professionals. Smart meter data, for example, could be used in apps that help customers see how much it costs to run devices or appliances at certain times of the day.

“I think the best interests of the customer is to allow utilities to consider all of its options on equal footing,” Waggoner said. “Whether it is a capital investment or a service expenditure, [utilities should] make a decision on the merits of the technology and on the cost savings it can provide to customers rather than to be concerned about an earnings issues that really shouldńt be getting in the way of a good decision.”

A week after the report́s release, Waggoner met with officials from the Illinois Commerce Commission, one of the first to take up the issue.

The Commissiońs CEO, Brien Shehan, has argued for years that regulators need to “level the playing field” between hardwired software and cloud systems, and that new IT models can improve the power transmission system and reduce the cost to utilities and customers.

In December, after years of input from stakeholders, the Commission voted to begin the process for a rule change that would let utilities earn a return from investments in cloud-computing systems that help deliver power and online services to customers.

The Commissiońs move has been applauded by business and technology groups. Richard Caperton, director of national policy and regulatory affairs for Oraclés Utilities Global Business Unit, said emerging technologies can save customers money and provide a better service.

“Ím excited to see regulation in Illinois catching up with the IT revolution,” he said.

Continue reading at Energy News…