Thursday, July 10, 2014

Microsoft's Azure Adds 8K Customers per Week, New Regions Activated

Microsoft continues to report growing momentum for Azure -- more than 8,000 customers and partners are joining Azure every week.

Next week, Microsoft is hosting its Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., and the company is looking to entice IT integration vendors with a range of Azure services they can sell to their customers.

Some highlights from blog postings by Microsoft:

  • Microsoft has just activated two new Azure regions online -- US Central and US East 2 regions in Iowa and Virginia, respectively.
  • Azure ExpressRoute is expanding to six more Equinix data centers worldwide. Azure ExpressRoute provides a dedicated, private connection with low latency from the colo to the Microsoft cloud.
  • Beginning next month, a new Microsoft Azure StorSimple service will provide a hybrid cloud storage solution for Microsoft's IT integration partners.  Azure StorSimple simplifies disaster recovery, consolidates management and brings on-premises data to the cloud for development and testing of new apps.
  • The Azure Machine Learning service is now available for preview. Partners can use the service to build advanced analytic cloud services for their customers.
  • Microsoft is adding IaaS functionality to its Azure Preview Portal to allow users to manage virtual machines, as well as single-click SharePoint deployment for the management of multiple virtual machines within the Portal.
  • A new Azure Event Hubs service can broker millions of events per second, allowing partners and customers to pull in, process and analyze data from cloud-connected smart devices.
  • Microsoft is planning to expand its Azure government cloud, including offering a new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online U.S. government cloud offering.
  • A new service called Delve will bring machine learning and advance search capabilities to Office 365.

In May, Microsoft confirmed that Azure ExpressRoute connections will be available with partners AT&T, BT, Equinix, Level 5, TeleCity, SingTel and Verizon. Azure ExpressRoute ensures private connections between Azure data centers and on-premise infrastructure or colocation facilities by using an MPLS VPN or other secure tunnel. In addition:
  • Azure Virtual Network now supports more than one site-to-site VPN connection. This enables customers to securely connect multiple on-premises locations. With new VNET-to-VNET connectivity, multiple virtual networks can be directly and securely linked to one another for disaster prevention.  Another new capability is IP Reservation, which allows the customer to reserve public IP addresses and use them as virtual IP addresses—ideal for applications that need static public IP addresses or when there is a need to swap reserved IP addresses to update applications.
  • Azure Traffic Manager, now generally available, supports both Azure & external endpoints, for building highly available applications across Azure and on-premises.

  • Also effective today, two new compute-intensive virtual machine instances — A8 and A9 — came online.  Microsoft said these instances bring faster processors and interconnectivity, more virtual cores, and larger memory.

Microsoft Azure to Support Docker and Google's Kubernetes

Microsoft, which recently announced support for Docker containers on Azure Virtual Machines, and has just announced plans to collaborate with Google and Docker to bring support for both Kubernetes and libswarm open source projects on the Microsoft Azure platform.

Docker is an open platform which can be used to build, ship, and run distributed applications on various clouds. The use of a container allows the same app to run unchanged on laptops, servers, data center VMs or the cloud -- similar to the concept of shipping container for the transportation industry.

Kubernetes is a container cluster management tool developed by Google. It builds on top of Docker to construct a clustered container scheduling service.

Microsoft is also supporting Docker’s libswarm project, which offers imperative management on Docker, so that libswarm will natively support Azure in enabling deployment of containers on Azure Virtual Machines.

In June, Docker 1.0 was officially released, marking an important milestone for this open platform which can be used to build, ship, and run distributed applications on various clouds. 

Docker enables applications to be quickly assembled from components and eliminates the friction between environments.  It consists of the Docker Engine, the de facto container standard, and Docker Hub, a new cloud-based service from Docker Inc., the start-up company behind the open source Docker project and chief sponsor of the Docker ecosystem.

Docker Inc. is now providing Long Term Support assurances for commercial users of Docker 1.0.  The company is based in San Francisco. 

Amazon Zocalo Offers Cloud Document Storage/Sharing

Amazon Web Services introduced a fully managed, secure document storage and sharing service for the enterprise.

Amazon Zocalo is a cloud storage service that lets users selectively share it with others (inside or outside of their organization), solicit feedback, manage versions and track deadlines.

A Zocalo client application on the desktop/laptop is used to sync files in a designated folder.  AWS initially is supporting Windows 7 and MacOS (version 10.7 or later). Pricing start at $5 per user per month, including 200 GB of storage. A limited preview is underway.

Gigamon's Visibility Fabric Adds Security Tools

Gigamon is enhancing its Unified Visibility Fabric with forthcoming set of modules to address inline traffic security with high availability modes, as well as intelligent load distribution across multiple inline and out-of-band security tools.

The new GigaVUE-HC2 modules extend the power of the Visibility Fabric with Active Visibility, utilizing intelligence and robust bypass capabilities to better protect both critical IT traffic and the inline tools designed to prevent malicious activity. The company said high traffic volumes can be efficiently handled by sending only the appropriate data to each tool. The Visibility Fabric can also monitor the health of the attached inline tools and in the event of a tool failure will bypass the outage to ensure the network remains available and protected. For example, an inline appliance can be removed for maintenance while allowing network traffic to be sustained.

“The threat envelope to organizations is constantly expanding. As a result, many organizations have taken a multi-tiered approach to security by deploying both inline and out-of-band security solutions,” said Shehzad Merchant, chief strategy officer at Gigamon. “All of these security solutions depend on getting a relevant, consistent and accurate stream of traffic data. With these new security offerings, Gigamon’s Visibility Fabric will provide a comprehensive and sophisticated security services delivery platform that addresses the stringent traffic delivery needs along with the resiliency and uptime requirements for continuous security management.”

Avere Raises $20 Million for NAS to the Cloud

Avere Systems, a start-up based in Pittsburgh, PA, raised an additional $20 million in venture financing for its enterprise storage solutions for the hybrid cloud.

Avere has developed a flexible, software-defined storage tiering methodology that fosters intelligent use of multiple storage technologies (RAM, SSD, SAS and SATA) that can negate the weaknesses of one type of media or accelerate underutilized strengths in another. Its product portfolio is optimized according to workload requirements ranging from small enterprise to the most intense storage scenarios in the world.

“The reality for 99% of enterprises is they will operate increasingly in a hybrid IT storage environment for many years to come. This means that no single storage technology will win, and both on-premises and cloud storage will be required to achieve cost and performance goals,” said Ron Bianchini, president and CEO of Avere Systems. “With this Series D funding round, we continue to scale the company so that we can provide the best solutions to customers embarking on their hybrid cloud path.”

The Series D funding round was led by Western Digital Capital, with participation from previous investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners and Tenaya Capital. This bring total funding for the company to $72 million.

CenturyLink Wins 10-year NIH Colocation Contract

CenturyLink was selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide colocation, network connectivity and disaster recovery services to the NIH National Library of Medicine and the NIH Center for Information Technology. The deal could be worth nearly $63 million over the next 10 years. The new agreement follows a previous 10-year contract for these services that was also awarded to CenturyLink.

The National Library of Medicine, located on the NIH campus, is the world's largest medical library. Its collection offers information and research services in all areas of biomedicine and health care. It also coordinates a 6,000-member National Network of Libraries of Medicine that provides access to health information in communities across the U.S.

The NIH Center for Information Technology manages the agency's IT resources, which include operating the NIH computer center and providing data processing and technical services to more than 40,000 users in NIH, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other government agencies.

AWS Direct Connect Opens in Sydney

Amazon announced the 12th location where AWS Direct Connect is now available -- the Global Switch SY6 data center in Sydney, Australia.  This is the second Direct Connect location.  It is also offered at the Equinix IBX in Sydney.

Customers who are hosted within an APN Partner can now connect through the Global Switch SY6 data center using a dedicated 1 Gbps or 10 Gbps network connection, which can be provisioned through the AWS Management Console.

Germany's Fraunhofer ESK Explores Gigabit over Existing Copper

Germany's Fraunhofer ESK has launched a multi-year research project in collaboration with Lantiq and InnoRoute Gmbh aimed at achieving gigabit broadband rates over existing copper access lines.

The research will explore channel properties in the 300 MHz frequency range over relatively short lengths of existing copper. VDSL2 utilizes frequencies up to 30 MHz.

The project is funded by the Bavarian Research Institute.