Google’s Secret Android OS To Rule The Internet Of Things

Google is reportedly developing a new operating system (OS) under the Android brand, aimed at running low-powered devices (as low as 64 or even 32 MB RAM), which are very common in today’s connected world. If the new operating system, code-named ‘Brillo’, gains similar traction as the Android brand, it may become the engine running the multitude of connected devices now looking for a common platform. Google may also offer it free of charge for OEMs to increase penetration.

This is not the first indication that Google wants to be the framework that drives the Internet of Things (IoT). Last year Google initiated the Thread Group, an open consortium of industry leaders which by now has over 80 members, with the goal of defining the communications protocol for the Internet of Things. Last month the Thread Group also partnered with the ZigBee Alliance, the alliance behind the popular ZigBee open wireless standard for IoT, to support interoperability and enable the ZigBee Cluster Library to run over Thread networks.

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Google also promotes IoT on the research front. Last December Google launched an open IoT research program called the “Open Web of Things”, to encourage research around burning topics in IoT such as security, privacy and protocols.

Another interesting angle that I bet Google will explore is the integration with its latest big data cloud offering to enable processing, storage and analytics of the massive amounts of data generated by the IoT, enhancing its cloud’s IoT solutions.

What exactly is the new ‘Brillo’ OS? How does it relate to the Thread Group’s protocol? How will that integrate with Google’s cloud offering? We’ll probably get more information in a couple of days at Google I/O conference.

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The Community Needs Quality Tech News. Don’t Let TechCrunch Go Down Like Gigaom

Only fast-paced hi-tech industry can produce such drama: TechCrunch just reported its own acquisition, together with the parent company AOL, by Verizon. Verizon will buy AOL for $4.4 Billion. However, it is still unclear what Verizon is going to do with AOL’s different activities, including TechCrunch. As TechCrunch writer and editor Ingrid Lunden wrote

There are lingering questions about whether it’s an all-in deal for the longer term, or whether certain operations that are not as central to Verizon’s bigger strategy may eventually get offloaded.

Reading this, I could not help remembering what happened with the successful tech blog Gigaom just a couple of months ago. Back then, Gigaom publisher fired all of its employees in quite a surprising announcement. In that case, it turned out financial debts were accumulating quietly. The drama was big, from the first dripping tweets to the following network flood, with rumors, guesses, protests, bits shared by Gigaom employees, best wishes by the community members, and one touching statement by Gigaom founder Om Malik, confessing

It is not how you want the story of a company you founded to end.

But beyond the financial details and drama, the bigger picture is that the websites and blogs serve as a vital voice for the tech community, and a place for the community to get together, both virtually and physically in their impressive conferences. We need these channels up, running, quality and objective.

Good Luck to all TechCrunch team!

Read the TechCrunch coverage of the acquisition here.

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Microsoft Brings Azure Cloud To The Enterprise Datacenter

Cloud computing is a market with huge potential, as the financial reports from Amazon and Microsoft earlier this month showed. But the really big potential yet vastly untapped is the enterprise cloud. Enterprises find it difficult to transition their IT to the cloud with their large array of existing applications, datacenters and security requirements. This is the holy grail for the cloud providers.

While big cloud providers Amazon and Google come from the consumers and are now trying to make their way to the enterprises, for Microsoft enterprises are the traditional playground, and Microsoft is trying to build on that and position its Azure public cloud as the enterprise preferred cloud. When hearing Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise group, the man and the red shirt, lay out his vision this week, it was clear Microsoft is pushing it harder than ever.

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Now Microsoft wants to put Azure also in the enterprises’ data center, with its new service announced this week – Azure Stack. Built on the same core technology as Azure, the new service takes the compute, networking, storage and security solutions and brings them on-premise in a consistent way. Existing Microsoft-based customers will have the advantage of keeping their existing Microsoft assets in their data center, such as SQL Server, SharePoint, and Exchange, and connect them to modern distributed applications and services while maintaining centralized oversight.

The new Azure Stack will enable hybrid cloud strategy for the enterprises, so that the customer can create applications once and then decide where to deploy them later. This will give Microsoft the desired agent for transitioning enterprises to the public cloud in a gradual, controlled and smooth path.

A preview of Azure Stack will become available this summer. At first stage Azure Stack will focus on Linux and Windows virtual machines. But seeing how cloud and containers grow closer and Microsoft integrating Docker into Azure, I expect we’d be seeing container support pretty soon as well.

Check out the full details from Microsoft’s official site.

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OpenStack Kilo Is Out, Major Updates on Bare Metal, Containers, NFV And More

OpenStack’s latest release, code-named Kilo, is out. And it brings some interesting updates. The most prominent part is by far Ironic, OpenStack’s bare-metal provisioning support, which is officially released. It will enable provisioning of VM-based as well as container-based deployments on top of bare metal machines using same familiar APIs and conventions. The community keeps on promoting containers and make them available as first citizens on the new features.

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On the networking side Network Virtualization gets attention, with port security for OpenVSwitch, VLAN transparency and MTU API extensions. IPv6 is now also supported, allowing the extended address space to fit current demand and proliferation of connected devices which come with the Internet of Things (IoT).

On the storage front, Swift now supports, in addition to replicas, also erasure-coded storage, so users can choose the right tradeoffs per case. Kilo also brings container-level temporary URLs which allow time-limited access to a set of objects in a container. Kilo also offers improvements to global cluster replication, storage policy metrics and full Chinese translation.

Other aspects addressed are support for hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud models in Keystone Identity management, and automated provisioning and orchestration of entire application environments in a single template, much similar to Amazon’s CloudFormation.

Not less important is the great emphasis given to maturity, stability, scalability and usability of OpenStack, subjects of much debate and major barriers of adoption by organizations. We are yet to see if that brings smoother adoption of OpenStack in the industry for production use cases.

Read the full details here.

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Insight on Cloud Market from Amazon, Microsoft Latest Reports

Amazon owns the biggest public cloud to date, Amazon Web Services (AWS). It is the most veteran, reportedly running about a third of the world’s public cloud infrastructure, and some even say it’s bigger than the sum of all of its major competitors, including major players such as Google and Microsoft.

But how big is it actually? Up till now Amazon hasn’t disclosed its figures on its AWS business, reporting it under “Other” on the financial reports. But that’s now changed.

On its financial reports yesterday Amazon for the first time disclosed the explicit portion of its AWS unit, which shows a yearly run rate of $5 billion, and growing fast! The quarterly results of $1.6 billion show 50% increase year-to-year. On its statement, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said

Amazon Web Services is a $5 billion business and still growing fast — in fact it’s accelerating

Those who were debating how profitable it could be, with the aggressive price cuts Amazon has been employing, would be surprised to see Amazon reports an operating margin of nearly 17%. Quite impressive I’d say. And putting the rest of Amazon’s business in the shadow. If AWS were its own company, that would make a very strong player…

Microsoft also reported its cloud business, quoting $6.3 billion yearly. However, careful examination shows that this category doesn’t only include the Azure cloud business (which would be the equivalent of Amazon’s AWS) but also its other hosted services such as Office 365, and CRM. Microsoft hasn’t released figures around its operating margins to see how profitable the business is there.

These impressive figures show the size and growth of the cloud services business, and a glimpse at what’s we’re expected to see in coming years. Cloud is not only here to stay, it’s hear to take over IT, especially with the adoption of popular DevOps tools such as Docker.

And cloud doesn’t end with providing mere infrastructure (IaaS, Infrastructure-as-a-Service). On one of my last posts I covered the fierce fight between the cloud vendors on big data & analytics, a hot topic these days. Another hot is the Internet of Things (IoT), which Amazon, Microsoft and others are targeting. These higher-level services, commonly known as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), will ultimately enable constructing full offerings organically in the cloud, will free IT companies to focus on their core business value, and will enable lean start-up companies to jump in and bring innovation without need for major up-front investments.

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Microsoft Launches New Big Data Stream Analytics Cloud Service

In the last couple of weeks we saw the fight heating up between Google and Amazon over big data in the cloud. Now Microsoft is calling the bet, announcing the general availability of its Azure Stream Analytics (ASA). The new cloud service, which was launched in public preview late last year, enables real-time stream processing of data from various sources, such as applications, devices, sensors, mobile phones or connected cars. In fact, Microsoft places strong emphasis on the use cases of the Internet of Things, a hot topic these days which Microsoft pioneered back in the 1990 but somehow managed to miss the wave, and is now trying to get back on it.

Earlier this year Microsoft bought Revolution Analytics, the company behind the open source R programming language that has become popular for statistical analysis on big data, as part of Microsoft’s effort to develop its suite of advanced analytics.

Microsoft puts emphasis, same as its competitors, on making its stream analytics service easy for development and operations, so small companies and even start-ups can get into this hot field without massive up-front investment. That while leveraging the power of the cloud to ensure transparent resilience and scalability, security and multi-tenancy.

Another interesting aspect is the built-in integration of Azure Stream Analytics with Microsoft’s Event Hubs, Microsoft’s Publish-Subscribe messaging service, which was made generally availability late last year, and is said to be able to log millions of events per second. Microsoft also targets this service for Internet of Things and telemetry ingestion use cases. This part of Microsoft’s offering is similar to Google’s Pub/Sub and Amazon’s Kinesis.

In a blog post by Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice President of Information Management & Machine Learning at Microsoft, he shares customer use cases by Fujitsu, NEC and Aerocrine. Quoting Allen Ganz, Director of Business Development at NEC:

NEC has found that using the Azure IoT Services has enabled us to quickly build compelling intelligent digital signage solutions that meet our customer’s needs and help them transform their business processes

Microsoft, same as its competitors, is aiming at providing a full and organic suite to cover the full cycle of big data ingestion, processing and analytics, to cater for the proliferation of big data use cases and ventures, and especially around the Internet of Things.

You can read more on the new Azure Stream Analytics here.

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Google-Amazon Fight Over Big Data In The Cloud Is Heating Up

Google today announced that it’s releasing its Cloud Dataflow in open beta. This big data analytics service was launched in closed beta version at Google’s annual developer conference last June, with a major update last December when they released an open source Java SDK to make it easier for developers to integrate with the new service.

Just last month Google announced that it was moving its Cloud Pub/Sub into public beta. This service for real-time messaging is yet another layer in the overall big data and analytics suite that Google has been building up.

Google’s strategy aims to cater for the full big data and analytics cycle of Capture->Store->Process->Analyze from within Google Cloud Platform’s organic services (such as Pub/Sub, Dataflow and BigQuery), as well as with plugging in external popular frameworks such as Hadoop, Spark and Kafka, in a modular way.

Google Cloud Platform BI conf

Google Cloud Platform BI Suite

Google’s offering comes as a response to Amazon’s offering in the big data and analytics area, with services such as KinesisRedShift, Elastic MapReduce and Lambda. Interesting to note that last week at the AWS Summit in San Francisco Amazon announced Lambda service is generally available for production use. Amazon also maintains its smart strategy of tightening integration between their services, now enabling to run AWS Lambda functions in response to events in Amazon Cognito.

Amazon also puts emphasis on optimizing the infrastructure services for big data. A couple of weeks ago AWS launched new type of EC2 instances with high density storage optimized for storing and processing multi-terabyte data sets.

Another very interesting announcement from AWS last week was the announcement of Amazon Machine Learning new service, which gives an important dimension of analytics to their suite.

Amazon and Google are not the only players in the big data cloud services. With big companies such Oracle and Microsoft, this market definitely becomes hot.

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