Archive for the ‘Cloud’ tag
All that’s missing are the streamers, balloons, and cheesy Best Price Ev-ah signs. Because the price competition between Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Rackspace is heating up so fast, the cloud market could be a massive virtual used car lot.
Google announced today that it is reducing the cost of its Google App Engine storage from $0.24/GB/month to $0.18 per gigabyte. App Engine operations pricing is also going down: Google is dropping database writes from $0.10 to $0.09 per 100,000 operations and reads from $0.07 to $0.06.
Google App Engine is a relative newcomer to the cloud market, having just recently started to get serious about supporting non-Google-used languages such as PHP – the programming language that runs 75 percent of the web.
But it’s already in massive use, with 4.5 trillion monthly transactions at 99.95 percent uptime.
Google is in bitter competition with Amazon Web Services, which reduced prices by about 28 percent a month ago, and Microsoft’s Azure, which just entered full public availability but is already a billion-dollar business and also just reduced prices by 21 to 33 percent. Rackspace, also a big cloud competitor, recently chopped its prices as well.
This new price decrease appears to match those from Amazon and Microsoft. The challenge, however, when evaluating cloud costs from multiple providers is that each vendor calculates costs somewhat differently, so it’s hard to get an apples to apples comparison.
Essentially, it’s become fairly obvious that cloud is a commodity, and the cheapest provider will win. The question is, can companies maintain excellent service levels while cutting pricing to the bone.
Days after finalizing a $1.1 billion Tumblr acquisition, Yahoo has bought yet another company.
PlayerScale, a cross-platform game infrastructure startup that provides tools for games played by 150 million users on platforms such as iOS and Android, announced the acquisition on its site today. And — unlike recent Yahoo acquisitions like Astrid, CEO Jesper Jensen said that the company would continue to operate as it has, supporting over 2,600 developers and 4,000 games.
In fact, he added, PlayerScale is adding 400,000 users a day.
“With Yahoo’s backing, we can crank out awesome products and improvements to our platform faster than ever before,” Jensen said.
That would be a major change from recent Yahoo acquisitions such as Stamped, OnTheAir, Snip.it, Alike, Summly, Jybe, and Astrid, all of which have been shuttered or put on notice. But it makes sense, given PlayerScale’s volume of business and growth rates.
And, presumably it makes sense given Yahoo has now signaled a move into casual gaming on iOS, Android, Facebook, the web, and even Xbox.
PlayerScale’s platform helps game developers with pretty much everything they need to make their game platform work, except the game itself. It includes payments, chat, analytics, virtual currencies, distributed caching, authentication, social sign-on, leaderboards, localization, and more.
Here’s CEO Jesper Jensen’s announcement in full:
Today is a great day — both in our journey with PlayerScale and for users of our Player.IO product. We are happy to announce the next big step toward our goal of building the best possible gaming infrastructure platform: we have been acquired by Yahoo!. And don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere. Our platform will continue to support the same great games that you love playing today … and in fact, it will only get better from here!
Our goal has always been to help developers build the best possible games, without having to worry about building and scaling the infrastructure required to operate today’s biggest successes. In working with the folks at Yahoo!, it has become clear that we share this passion.
We have spent the past four years growing a three-person startup into a product that powers games played by over 150 million people worldwide and we are adding over 400,000 new users every day. In the last four months alone, we have increased our daily user growth rate by almost sixty percent. With Yahoo!’s backing, we can crank out awesome products and improvements to our platform faster than ever before. We will continue to support our existing product and deliver new services to help you grow and manage your success in cross-platform gaming — whether it’s casual, social or mobile.
Today marks a milestone for PlayerScale and I want to sincerely thank the team, our developers and millions of users for the adventure so far and can promise there will be more to come.
- Jesper Jensen
Image credit: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat
Mystery funding of the day? That’d be YesGraph, a stealthy startup in the recruiting space founded by Ivan Kirigin, a former product manager at Facebook and Dropbox.
Kirigin today secured $1.2 million of a $1.8 million round, according to a Form D. A total of seven angel investors participated in the funding.
“The financing has enabled us to build a good product and hire talent — there is a lot that is hard about this space,” said Kirigin on a phone call.
Kirigin would not say much about the product at this stage. But he did reveal that YesGraph is building tools for tech companies to improve the hiring experience — and not just the “output.” To that end, Kirigin just released a survey, an attempt to find patterns in how startups make their first hires.
“Companies have a hard time hiring good people — we are trying to help them,” he added.
Serial entrepreneur Kirigin is also the founder of a micro-payments service called Tipjoy, which both Facebook and Twitter considered acquiring, TechCrunch reported. After negotiations fell through with Facebook, the company made Kirigin an offer, and he joined in 2009 to work on a virtual currency product. He would later join Dropbox, where he claims on his LinkedIn page to have helped drive growth 12X over 2 years.
Investors in Kirigin’s previous company Tipjoy include Chris Sacca and Y Combinator founder Paul Graham.
Elastic cloud infrastructure startup Cloudscaling has raised $10 million in its second round of funding so it can keep growing at a quick clip and innovating its cloud technology.
San Francisco-based Cloudscaling was founded in 2006 and claims to be “the leader in elastic cloud infrastructure.” Its core product is the Open Cloud System, an OpenStack-powered cloud infrastructure application that can give companies the same benefits of cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. But unlike those companies, Cloudscaling’s solution is deployable in a client’s data center under an IT team’s control. It can also run its solution on Amazon and Google’s public clouds if a customer wants to do so.
In April, Cloudscaling announced version 2.5 of Open Cloud System. Some of its newest customer wins include LivingSocial, EVault, Ubisoft, and DataFort.
The new funding was provided by prior investor Trinity Ventures and new investors Juniper Networks and Seagate. Prior to today, Cloudscaling had raised $4 million back in Sept. 2011.
“This financing round caps a tremendous year of momentum for the company,” Cloudscaling CEO Michael Grant said in a statement. “That momentum affirms the voice of the market, clearly stating that customers want more than OpenStack. They want an on-premise, OpenStack-based private or public cloud turnkey system solution that delivers architectural and behavioral fidelity with major public clouds like Amazon Web Services. Our Open Cloud System product delivers on that need to enable hybrid cloud application deployments that span private and public cloud services.”
Clouds photo via Flickr
A few months ago I bought an external 3TB hard disk for our home computer, mostly for my wife’s 53,000 photos. Turns out that if I had just waited, I could have simply uploaded them all to MyShoeBox.
“We offer unified photo storage across all your devices, for free, at 1,024-pixel quality,” founder Steve Cosman told me a few weeks ago in Toronto. “Or, you can pay $5/month for unlimited resolution.”
Today MyShoeBox is launching version two of its photo backup and sharing service, with a new iPad app, updated mobile apps, and a new shared galleries feature that allows you to build grouped sets of photos with people you went on vacation with, or family members who shared an event such as a wedding.
The freemium model has helped the company get a quick start.
After exiting from Toronto accelerator Extreme Startups in Fall last year, the service saw 13.4 million photos uploaded in its first month, November 2012. And, Cosman says, MyShoeBox users upload far more photos than Facebook or Flickr users — 3,200 each, compared to Facebook’s 220 and Flickr’s 320.
But the value proposition is much more than photo backup.
Instead, MyShoeBox is a way to enjoy all of your photos, all of the time, on any device you have. Frankly, for most people, their photos are strewn around their main computer (photos from their actual, official, camera), their phone (snapshots from their built-in camera), and their social networks (uploaded from wherever you happened to be at the time). There’s no unified view, no way to see — and search — all your photos at once.
Using MyShoeBox for the first time syncs your photos up to the cloud-based service automatically, in the background, and installing the services’ mobile apps on your Android or iOS-based phone will do the same.
That’s helpful, because we often want to see more of our photos on our mobile devices.
“Our new iPad app is an incredible way of browsing your entire photo collection,” Cosman says. “And it’s one of the only ways you can get your full photo collection on your iPad … most people don’t have enough space.”
What most interested me when I chatted to Cosman is MyShoeBox’ solution to a problem that I think I share with many other digital photographers: enjoying your own work, and finding photos. A former program manager for Microsoft’s augmented reality team for Windows Phone, Cosman has placed special emphasis on automated sorting, tagging, and exploring features.
“So many people that have given up the concept of a photo collection,” he says. “Faces, places, and things are important ways to automatically categorize photos. And they keep getting smarter every day.”
So MyShoeBox highlights places you’ve been, photos you took last year at this time, events, cameras you used, and more, creating what the company calls “an interactive infographic” of your life. That includes personal quantification data like the top times you take photos, and your most photographed neighborhoods.
And if you want to search your photo collection, MyShoeBox has just re-written its search features to be much faster and more powerful as its power users often have more than 15,000 photos each.
“iOS, Android, Windows, Mac … it works pretty much anywhere,” Cosman says. “And once together, it’s automatically organized.”
MyShoeBox is based in Toronto, Canada, and is currently raising a financing round.
Image credits: MyShoeBox
With the debut of the new Xbox One gaming system, there are many things one could focus on: hardware, flashy games, entertainment, etc. But one aspect really gets me fired up: game developers will now be able to use Microsoft Azure’s cloud computing platform to make games more powerful than ever.
Wired reports that the Xbox One will offer game developers the ability to tap Azure for all kinds of things. Developers won’t be forced to use Azure, but Microsoft will push for them to do so.
The Xbox One will not have to be always connected to play games, but it does generally require a connection to the Internet. And if developers do decide to tap Azure’s cloud computing platform to boost the power of a game, a web connection will be required to play that game.
Microsoft has been building out Azure’s cloud computing capabilities for a long while. Azure has been mostly known as a platform-as-a-service that (primarily .NET) developers use to make the process of app development easier.
Microsoft opened up Azure so it could be used for pure cloud infrastructure in June 2012. It now competes head to head with top dogs like Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, and Google Compute Engine.
Steven Martin, the general manager of Azure’s operations team, told us this past October that Azure users are consuming more compute capacity than the entire world used in 1998. As of December, Azure’s cloud storage holds more than 4 trillion objects. It also handles an average of 270,000 requests processed per second, with a peak of 880,000 requests per second.
Azure applications in gaming
Now, let’s see what you could do with all that power.
The first and most obvious application of Azure on Xbox One will be making Xbox Live more powerful and useful. All your downloaded games and achievements will be synced and available wherever you are. You’ll also have dedicated servers for every multiplayer game you participate in. Multiplayer matches will be able to host up to 128 gamers in a single session.
Xbox Live currently runs on 15,000 servers, but it will soon move to a stunning 300,000 servers later this year for the Xbox One launch. That’s a lot of power dedicated to making Xbox Live better than ever.
Second (and this is a bit more crazy), developers can offload computational tasks to the cloud instead of relying on physical hardware to do the heavy lifting. Necessary game computations for physics, rendering, and the like could be immensely enhanced with a connection to powerful virtual servers in the cloud.
“It’s not like on day one, everyone will have figured out how to take advantage of that power,” Microsoft interactive entertainment CMO Marc Whitten told Wired. “It’s just one of those stakes we’re placing.”
Screenshot via Microsoft
Communication is one of the biggest challenges facing health care today. Doctors cannot use e-mail, social media networks or SMS texting to discuss patients because it violates privacy regulations and Electronic Medical Record (EMRs) systems are traditionally incompatible with each other, which makes the secure exchange of information even more difficult.
At Healthbeat today, Verizon’s managing principal of Connected Health Care solutions Nancy Green explained how Verizon can benefit the health care community.
“When you think of Verizon, you think of our wireless network, but we have a $6 billion health care practice and a Chief Medical Officer ,” she said on stage. “We are moving and enabling the business of health care so others can innovate. We have experts on compliance and security, and startups can use the size and scope and scale of Verizon to make a difference.”
Security and authentication are major concerns when it comes to medical communication. Green said that 27 countries, the White House, and the nuclear launch codes are secured by Verizon. The company knows how to do security and authenticate people and is applying this expertise to the health care. Verizon has credentialed every clinician and physician in the United States and provide a secure channel for transmitting data, such a prescriptions. An example is Verizon’s work with Surescripts to support electronic prescriptions and set up digital signage on devices. From their iPads and iPhones, doctors can sign in using a passcode, authenticate their identity, write, confirm, and accept prescriptions, and digitally sign documents. Verizon’s “exchange layer” moves the information securely from network to network (doctor to pharmacy) so doctors don’t have to visit a terminal or use pen and paper.
Verizon’s dual persona technology is also particularly useful in the medical field. Doctors often use their personal mobile devices for work and Green said that it is a struggle to securely manage patient data on phones and keep it separate from personal information. Through an exclusive partnership with VMware, Verizon has a solution that can lock down the enterprise/clinical side of phones.
To quote Voltaire (or Uncle Ben from Spiderman), with great power comes great responsibility. Verizon has a network of 115 million people and a huge telecommunications infrastructure, and Green said the company is committed to supporting entrepreneurs and ideas that use this power for good. So is competitor AT&T, which also has health care solutions. Both companies see opportunities in an industry that makes up 17 percent of the GDP and relies heavily on mobile and telecommunication technology. These opportunities also extend beyond mobile health technology. In March, Verizon announced its new cloud service for health data exchange and a partnership with HealthSpot to power telemedicine kiosks in the field.
Photo Credit: Michael O’Donnell/VentureBeat
We’re well beyond any question about whether cloud computing is the future. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) paved the way for the idea that organizations can operate some of their most important systems in an on-premise or off-premise cloud. Small, medium and even large businesses accept that cloud computing delivers flexibility, cost and scalability that business has never had before. Companies are gravitating to cloud because it brings very short time to value and doesn’t impact the current business model. Lower cost and less risk are very attractive propositions.
How big is this move? Forrester estimates that the average company has 9.3 different SaaS applications in use. Consulting firm Cap Gemini reports that 78% of new applications are deployed into the cloud. And that’s just the applications that are being tracked. In reality, workers today are practicing BYOS (Bring Your Own Service) as they experiment with SaaS in broad ways that IT and even business managers may not know about.
Cloud has its challenges
As cloud computing continues to mature and its use expands, it hasn’t been without challenges. The single most significant limitation has been the increasing pain of a lack of integration between cloud applications and the rest of the business. This is a pain that becomes more acute as the cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-on-premise system invariably becomes more complex. On top of the integration challenge, the mechanics of cloud expose organizations to increased risk of data integrity, process latency and security. Oftentimes, SaaS applications are being marketed to the business, which likely looks at risk in a different way than IT or compliance. This is a challenge itself as the organization faces risks that aren’t understood or moratoriums on SaaS use that aren’t followed.
A way to solve this problem is to stay within a single SaaS vendor “stack,” but that leaves an organization beholden to a single vendor – a risky position. But there’s a reality of the still-maturing cloud: SaaS applications are typically limited in capability, a necessary evil of the SaaS paradigm that creates economies of scale for users by requiring customers to use highly standardized interfaces and functionality. To build out the same level of capability that’s commonplace in the on-premise world, organizations need to blend custom functionality within their own walls with multiple, disparate cloud applications and storage options. The reality of Cloud is that nearly all enterprises will need to operate a hybrid model for years to come.
TIBCO Cloud Bus
With these challenges in mind, TIBCO today released TIBCO Cloud Bus. This is an entirely new integration-platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) that uses ready-made templates and connectors to integrate cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-on-premise systems and applications, and includes integration with social networks. In keeping with the nature of the cloud, TIBCO Cloud Bus is a subscription service and pay-as-you-go without a large upfront investment or infrastructure.
The immediate benefit of this iPaaS platform comes from being able to rapidly connect SaaS applications without having to program, by using the latest graphical tools in a business-friendly user interface. Considering how critical time-to-value has become, this kind of ease of use is essential. Let’s face it, what matters enormously today may not be necessary tomorrow and likewise, business needs to constantly innovate through technology that changes, it seems, daily.
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Filed under: Business, Cloud
Leading corporate performance management (CPM) company Adaptive Planning has raised a massive $45 million in its fourth and final round of funding with a goal to further dominate the CPM space, the business said Tuesday.
Adaptive Planning offers a suite of budgeting, planning, forecasting, and data discovery software in the cloud. Its software works for small businesses all the way up to large enterprises, which now represent 25 percent of its business. The company had 1,500 customers at the end of 2012 and it estimates it will have 2,000 customers at the end of this year. Big name customers come from all kinds of industries including Box, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Jive Software, NBC News, Nissan, Red Hat, Toyota, and Zipcar.
“We address all of the CPM market — and it’s a huge market,” Adaptive Planning CEO John Herr told VentureBeat. “Most of our new customers move to us from Excel. We help customers upgrade from ‘Excel hell’ to Adaptive.”
Adaptive Planning competes with solutions from Oracle, IBM, and SAP, but its software-as-a-service has made it a leader in its space. And now the company will have more cash to hire more employees, further refine its software, and create more partnerships with resellers.
That last point is particularly important for the company, as it already has a strong reseller network of more than 400 “channel partners.” These partners help sell the product to more businesses and give it better access to international customers. One such partner is NetSuite, which offers Adaptive-based Financial Planning service that is integrated with NetSuite’s software.
The huge new funding round was led by new investor Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), with participation by existing investors ONSET Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, RBC Venture Partners, Cardinal Venture Capital, and Monitor Ventures. BVP partner Byron Deeter will join the company’s board.
“The business is on fire and this investment is a strong endorsement of what we’re about,” Herr said. “Many BVP companies are also customers of Adaptive.”
Including the new round, Adaptive Planning has raised about $85 million to date, including a $22 million round a little over a year ago.
Herr said this will be the last round of venture capital funds raised for the company and that it will explore the option of going public “in the next couple years.” He also indicated other “exit opportunities” were on the table. “We’re open to all positive outcomes,” Herr said.
Mountain View, Calif.-based Adaptive Planning was founded in 2003 and has 200 employees. Herr said the company aims to double its number of employees in the next 12 to 18 months.
Businessman with tablet via ollyy/Shutterstock
Apparently no-one, including those who are building complex web applications. And new startup Orchestrate.io just took a massive $3 million seed round to prove it. Orchestrate takes the queries that developers would typically write in order to build an application, such as geolocation, time-series, social graph, full-text search, and more, and unifies everything a developer would need in a single API.
In other words, all the time and resources that would typically go towards designing your data solution can now be redirected to building your application.
“Complex apps require highly optimized queries, so much so that major companies such as Facebook and Google wrote custom big data databases like BigTable to manage them,” founder and CEO Antony Falco told me yesterday. “Typically you would devote 20-25 percent of your resources to data management, so there’s lots of savings. But when creating new apps, you can also reduce the time barrier to building services, getting multiple weeks of savings.”
One of those savings is found in that often companies have had to run or access multiple databases to enable their applications. All of them have to be monitored and maintained, scaled as your app grows, and distributed geographically and across multiple service providers to ensure high availability and low latency.
With Orchestrate, that’s all built in, Falco told me, including geographical distribution. He used to be a VP at Akamai, the content delivery network, so he knows a few things about scalability and access.
Talking about scalability, Orchestrate is looking to fill a pretty big niche:
The $3 million is for getting Orchestrate’s existing solution into production and hiring more engineers.
It’s a largish seed round — you typically see $750,000, $500,000, or less for seed rounds, but Falco, who acknowledged that it had some aspects of an A round, says that it will help the company expand farther. And, for a company with global aspirations, some expensive requirements are just table stakes.
“With $3 million we will be globally distributed,” he says.
Falco is a serial entrepreneur, also founding Basho Technologies, makers of the open-source distributed database, Riak. Orchestrate was founded just three months ago, in March 2013, and is based in Portland, Oregon.
The investment was led by True Ventures with Frontline Ventures and Resonant Venture Partners joining in.