SiliconANGLE Extracting the signal from the noise. Sat, 06 Feb 2016 01:28:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Super Bowl tech: Experts tackle the connected stadium | #SB50 Sat, 06 Feb 2016 01:28:35 +0000 What’s it take to run stadium Wi-Fi for nearly 80 […]]]>

What’s it take to run stadium Wi-Fi for nearly 80,000 fans, keep them fed and highly entertained? We hear from the tech experts who know a thing or two about scaling IT for today’s modern, connected stadiums like Levi’s in Santa Clara, CA, host of this year’s Super Bowl event.

Built in 2014, with a seating capacity at 68,500 to 75,000, the stadium is hyped as the highest-tech sports venue in the country and promises to produce a personalized fan experience for all.

It takes a great deal of technological innovation to provide the experience and scale to the demands of a population that wants more bandwidth in order to be part of the in-person game experience.

Serving up the big game

Part of the tech team putting the technology in place is Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. As the wireless provider at Levi’s stadium, it is the driving force of the technology the stadium employs, and the evolution of wireless now provides a rich fan experience.

Explaining this evolution during an interview with John Furrier and Dave Vellante, cohosts of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, Dominic Orr, president of Aruba described the changes in wireless: “Wi-Fi was like fries with the burger,” he said. “There has been a fundamental shift since the introduction of the iPad, the iPhone and Android devices. The Happy Meal formula shifted, and now Wi-Fi is the burger and Ethernet is the fries to supporting the infrastructure.”

The instant replay

In order to support a stadium’s Wi-Fi infrastructure, the challenges are high density, roaming and supporting multimedia traffic. Orr believes deep-packet inspection will become the prevalent technology in the wireless world in managing wireless traffic.

According to Orr, it is essential for the access point to be aware of the traffic it is carrying and have the ability to throttle traffic that is not real-time sensitive. When tasked with powering instant replays in less than six seconds, with the requirement of being visible from every seat, managing the network traffic is critical.

Orr said, “The modern-day stadiums are all tuned for live replay from the angle of every seat.”

For the Super Bowl, Orr’s team had to factor in every seat, while assuming there would be standing room attendance. He explained, “It is really significantly overdesigned using a microcell technique. When you have a capacity-filled stadium like that you basically leverage the physics of using the audience body to attenuate the propagation.”

Fan connectivity

Keeping fans connected to mobile devices is a vital component to the fan experience. A key partner for Aruba is VenueNext, who developed the technology platform and context-aware app for Levi’s Stadium.

According to Chris Kozup, vice president of marketing for Aruba, it is necessary to manage and provide a secure and seamless experience for the fans at Levi’s Stadium. And supplying connectivity will be critical this Sunday when fans begin using the Levi’s Stadium app to order food and beverages to be brought to their seat and search for the restrooms with the shortest lines.

Building a faithful team

In an interview with theCUBE, Kozup was asked by host Dave Vellante about the coolest wireless experience he witnessed. “I have to point to the Levi’s Stadium as a venue that has one of the highest uses of their applications deployed,” he said. “I think roughly 30 percent of people attending the game have the app.”

To increase adoption, the app pulls users’ pictures from Facebook and displays them on the mega screens around the stadium.

Kozup said it takes a great deal of integration to pull it all together, and he is amazed at how the application provides deeper insight into guest behavior and provides ultimate control over the entire ecosystem.

On-the-field technology

Keeping fans connected is important, but stadium technology goes beyond the fan experience. The players have now become a part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Zebra Technologies Corp., a provider of real-time location solutions, is providing the NFL with the ability to track each player, on each team, in all 31 venues while generating valuable statistics for the League, teams, coaches and players.

John Furrier and Jeff Frick, cohosts of theCUBE, learned more about this technology at SportsDataSV 2015 during an interview with Michael King, director of sports products for Zebra Technologies. “Placing sensors on the pads of each player to track movement allows the league to see x-y position, accumulated distance, speed (both acceleration and deceleration) and orientation,” King said. He continued by noting that coaches can now gauge a player’s ability for Sunday’s game just by monitoring practices.

An estimated 189 million people are expected to watch Super Bowl 50, and if you are one of them, enjoy the game, the commercials and the technology that will make this event the first of its kind featuring next-gen tech.

photo credit: ecstaticist via photopin cc
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Valve gets clever with content discovery for the Lunar New Year Steam Sale Fri, 05 Feb 2016 21:40:43 +0000 A new Steam Sale is unexpectedly upon us, and PC gamers […]]]>

A new Steam Sale is unexpectedly upon us, and PC gamers everywhere are already scouring the Steam Store for the best deals on thousands of games.

With such a ridiculously large library of games, it has become increasingly difficult for users to discover new games on Steam, which is bad for both developers and fans, but for the new Lunar New Year Sale, Valve Corp has done something clever by hiding a form of content discovery in a fun “Choose Your Own Adventure” story.

On the main store page, there is a brief introduction to a story about a monkey trying to make his way home, and users are first given the option to choose between swimming across a river or hitching a ride the long way around.

Steam then shows you around two dozen games based on the theme of your choice: water themed games like Sunless Sea or Bioshock if you decided to swim, or car themed games like Euro Truck Simulator 2 or Project Cars if you decided to drive.

From there, each page offers you another choice on how you want to proceed in the story, which then takes you to another themed store page. Some of the other game themes you can find through the Choose Your Own Adventure story include ninjas, pirates, dragons, and more.

Why it matters

Steam Lunar New Year event

Obviously discovering new games is great for players, but it is also extremely important for developers, particularly for independent developers.

During the Steam Winter Sale, Valve tried a different experiment with content discovery where it offered up to three Steam Holiday Trading Cards per day for users who went through their entire Discovery Queue, which suggests a number of games based on those already in the user’s Steam library.

“One of our concerns going into the Winter Sale was that extrinsically motivating customers with a trading card might encourage people to just click through their Discovery Queue and not actually pay attention to the games being presented,” Valve said at the time. “It turned out that customers found a lot of value in using the Discovery Queue, resulting in a huge up-tick in sales and wishlist additions.”

Valve noted at the time that major games always sell well during the Holiday Sale, but thanks to its Discovery Queue experiment, a large number of games that weren’t as well known also performed strongly.

The adventure story for the Lunar New Year Sale appears to have the same goal in my, but it is definitely more fun than clicking past a bunch of games just to get your cards for the day.

Screenshot by Eric David | SiliconANGLE
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Machine vs. brain: When are algorithms smarter, and can they be trusted? | #FastForwardInnovation Fri, 05 Feb 2016 21:00:22 +0000 The idea that intelligent machines will make humans obs […]]]>

The idea that intelligent machines will make humans obsolete in many industries employing today’s population is a common concern for everyone except the people building those machines. Case in point, Micha Gorelick, a data scientist and engineer with Fast Forward Labs, doesn’t talk glowingly about the superiority of algorithms compared to brains, but rather stresses their limitations.

The crucial question people have to ask, he told Jeff Frick, cohost of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, is what problem is this algorithm solving?

“It’s important to understand how is that algorithm smarter than me and when should I not trust it?” he explained. “When should I trust myself more?” If your problem is a moving target, an algorithm may miss as often as not.

The R in R&D

Gorelick said that machine learning algorithms would best be viewed as constantly improving works in progress. Adding to them to make them smarter, make them do more, anticipate more and answer more is the name of the game. To that end, encouraging exploration in seemingly unrelated areas is key.

“Noncommercial exploration is incredibly important, and it expands the field, it expands our knowledge, and it will come back to help the commercial people,” he concluded.

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of Fast Forward Labs Innovation Day.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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Hackers broke into DayZ’s forum and gained access to hundred of usernames and passwords Fri, 05 Feb 2016 20:39:07 +0000 While most of the gaming world seems to have moved on f […]]]>

While most of the gaming world seems to have moved on from DayZ, that does not mean that the game has dropped off of hackers’ radars, and developer Bohemia Interactive AS has alerted players that hundreds of emails, usernames, and passwords have been compromised.

“A security incident occurred on recently,” Bohemia said in an email to users (via Reddit). “According to our investigation all usernames, emails and passwords from were accessed and downloaded by hackers.”

“While the passwords were not stored in plain text, but in a more secure form, it is highly recommended that if you have used the same password elsewhere you change it immediately on all applicable websites and services.”

It appears that the hack itself happened over a week ago, but Bohemia is just now contacting users to inform them of the compromised system.

“We would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused, and share with you one of the major changes planned in order to mitigate similar risks in the future,” Bohemia continued. “We will be replacing the IPBoards login system with Bohemia Account within the next two weeks. As Bohemia Account is a separate custom-built service currently used by Bohemia Interactive Forums and Store, it offers much better security and its use should prevent similar incidents going forward.”

DayZ was originally released in 2009 as a mod for military sim game Arma II, and fans of the mod were excited when a full standalone game was announced a few years later. These days interest in the game is not quite what it once was, as DayZ is has been stuck in the alpha testing phase despite having been released on Steam Early Access over two years ago.

The developers have said that a full release of the game will finally arrive this year, but so far, there has still been no official release date given.

Image courtesy of Bohemia Interactive AS
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Super Bowl wearables and other hot sports tech: Holo table, Reebok and more Fri, 05 Feb 2016 19:38:12 +0000 The Super Bowl is known for groundbreaking commercials, […]]]>

The Super Bowl is known for groundbreaking commercials, but the tech involved with such a large scale event is also impressive and is certain to influence the entire sports industry. Here we take a look at the latest tech developments in sports, from interactive fan apps to wearables that track an athlete’s every movement in real time.

Super Bowl 50 will kickoff at 6:30 PM ET on February 7, 2016 at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.

To football fans, the ability to stream the game on mobile devices or check live updates using an app is already a huge step from just watching the game on TV or listening to the radio. But thanks to technology, watching and participating in the game could become even better in the next few years.

Interactive display

HoloLensMicrosoft Corp. revealed a concept product showing how its virtual reality goggles, the HoloLens, could be utilized to make watching the game a more immersive experience.

The video demonstrated how one’s coffee table can serve as the football field, or extend the TV screen to an entire wall. A few gestures can bring up stats, allow viewers to watch the game from a different angle, or even make it appear as though a football player is bursting through the wall.

Wearable tech

A new report from Gartner, Inc. predicts that 274.6 million wearable electronic devices will be sold worldwide in 2016, an increase of 18.4 percent from 232.0 million units in 2015. Sales of wearable electronic devices will generate revenue of $28.7 billion in 2016, with $11.5 billion coming from smartwatches.

photo courtesy of Reebok

photo courtesy of Reebok

Players could greatly benefit from wearable tech such as Reebok’s Checklight, a high-tech skullcap that measures how hard the player has hit his head.

The intensity of an impact is easily viewed via lights on the device. If a yellow light blinks, the impact of the collision is near a pre-programmed threshold.  If it blinks red, the collision surpassed the said threshold, meaning the athlete should be further assessed.  

Aside from assessing the force of impact, Checklight also tallies the number of impacts sustained by the athlete over time.

UA_HealthBoxAnother wearable device that can greatly benefit football players is Under Armour, Inc.’ HealthBox.

The HealthBox is a complete fitness tracking solution that includes the UA Scale, which tracks body weight, body fat percentage and progress toward a weight goal; the UA Band, which measures sleep, resting heart rate, steps and intensity of workout; the UA Heart Rate, which is a chest strap that tracks heart rate as the user works out; and UA Record, a mobile app that collects all the data from the three devices and allows users to see progress, set goals, log workouts, measure activities and more.

Data gathered by these wearable devices can give insight as to which players needs to be benched, needs medical attention, or who should be placed on the field.

Real-time tracking

In the latter part of 2015, the National Football League announced that all its players will be equipped with tracking technology in the form of radio frequency identification (RFID) embedded in their shoulder pads. The trackers, provided by Zebra Technologies Corp., provide real-time statistics for every movement of every player on every inch of the field. This will help coaches determine how each player can improve their game.

Action camera

GoPro HeroWant to see what players see during the game? That may soon be possible if the NFL adopts a similar approach as the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), which strapped their players’ helmets with GoPro action cameras.

Though it can be a bit dizzying to watch these point-of-view shots, especially in contact sports, imagine how many fans would be drawn in to try it out? Imagine being able to see what your favorite player is seeing on your mobile device, in HD!

Live streaming and TV deals

Interested in live streaming the big game on your mobile device, gaming console or set top box like Apple TV? Get some tips here. Also, if you’re in need of a new big screen for the championship broadcast, check out some of the best deals here.

SourceSuper Bowl Wearables and What’s Next by Ross Mason, founder, MuleSoft 

Photo by FirmBee (Pixabay)
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Flash startup Tegile slashes global headcount in pre-IPO cost cutting Fri, 05 Feb 2016 19:14:01 +0000 Layoffs are a regular occurrence in the cutthroat world […]]]>

Layoffs are a regular occurrence in the cutthroat world of enterprise technology, though the bearer of bad news is usually not a startup boasting triple-digit annual sales growth. Tegile Systems Inc. this week revealed that a sizable portion of its overseas staff has been terminated in what appears to be an attempt at deflecting the global economic troubles blamed for dragging down the competition.

EMC Corp., the industry’s largest storage vendor, saw the three percent increase in worldwide demand for its systems last quarter completely nullified by the depreciation of foreign currencies against the dollar. Much the decline happened in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the same region that was targeted in Tegile’s downsizing initiative. According to The Register, the flash array maker halved its UK headcount and shuttered a branch office in the Netherlands that was opened just a few months ago.

Marketing vice president Rob Commins indicated to the publication that the savings from the cuts should more than offset the impact on Tegile’s revenue growth given that Europe accounts for “well below” a tenth of its sales. And the positive side of the restructuring grows even bigger when taking into account the fact the company will now be able to spend the resources previously taken up by remote workers in more profitable areas . However, the timing of the layoffs gives reason to believe that streamlining operations wasn’t the only motivation behind the move.

The cuts come only a few short weeks after Tegile replaced long-time CFO Ian Edmundson with Michael Morgan, an industry veteran who helped take two companies public. Tegile CEO Rohit Kshetrapal has openly stated that he intends to move down the same road within the next 18 to 24 months, which will require putting forth a solid balance sheet for prospective investors. The more unnecessary expenses the firm trims on the way there, the more attractive its pitch will become.

The fact that the cost-cutting effort has already begun suggests that more layoffs may follow as Tegile moves closer towards its stock market debut. The company will need every dollar that its new CFO can eke out in order to avoid the fate of fellow flash vendor Pure Storage Inc., which saw its share price fall nearly 20 percent since entering public trading last October due to its high burn rate.

Photo via Geralt
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Crazy enough to work? One company’s unconventional approach to innovation | #FastForwardInnovation Fri, 05 Feb 2016 19:00:16 +0000 Developers and tech professionals are bustling to find […]]]>

Developers and tech professionals are bustling to find the best applications for data and machine learning these days.

Fast Forward Labs is taking a zany and surprisingly fruitful approach to winning the race, according to Kathryn Hume, director of sales and marketing: Throw it in the water, and see if it can swim. The development phase at the company is a space for no-holds-barred experimentation, she told Jeff Frick, cohost of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team.

Collaborating with strange bedfellows

One method of sussing out unsuspected new uses for technology is collaborating with strange bedfellows for a tech company — namely artists, who essentially experiment freely with the technology and report back with the creative new ways they were able to utilize it. As opposed to the companies they routinely work with, artists don’t have specific objectives, and this allows them to dive into the technology and explore it fluidly.

The New York City-based startup prides itself on its quirky approaches in an industry many consider, well, technical. “We like weird stuff, and we try to explore things that are on the fringe and use that to influence creative applications and companies,” Hume said.

The machine learning scarecrow

When host Jeff Frick broached the topic of employee displacement that some warn is the end game of machine learning, Hume offered a nuanced dismissal of the fears. We don’t yet know to what extent machine learning can replace highly skilled, middle-class workers, she states, adding that the technology is still nascent, so “before we think about the robots taking over, let’s actually make robots that work.”

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of Fast Forward Labs Innovation Day.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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Less talking, more action: Applying data and machine learning | #FastForwardInnovation Fri, 05 Feb 2016 17:02:50 +0000 The hype about data is matched only by the complexity o […]]]>

The hype about data is matched only by the complexity of navigating and mining it for applicable uses. Above the chatter, companies are now saying simply, “Show me the application.”

In response, New York City-based Fast Forward Labs has sprung up to provide practical solutions that utilize data and machine learning. CEO and Founder Hilary Mason talked with Jeff Frick, cohost of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, about how the company approaches its customers.

“Our mission is to help people understand what the capabilities are with data, data science and machine learning,” Mason said. Fast Forward Labs uses a holistic and creative approach to tailor solutions for companies. This may involve building prototype applications and technical advising, in addition to generally educating businesses on what machine learning and data can do for them.

Reading into it: Text and image analysis

A major technology that Fast Forward Labs is leveraging is text summarization.

“Language is really messy,” Mason told Frick, explaining that neural networks for language processing have only just recently made accurate summarization plausible. The company has used text summarization to help insurance companies generate plain language summaries from complex documents, as well as extract a single synopsis from many texts, such as a large number of product reviews.

“We think there’s a lot of opportunity there for sort of better understanding the wisdom of the crowds or some social data as well,” she said.

In addition, Fast Forward Labs has also started showing companies how image analysis can be used, thanks to recent software developments that can tell users exactly what’s in a photo.

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of Fast Forward Labs Innovation Day.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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Big data has turned the corner; here’s what happens next | #CUBEconversations Fri, 05 Feb 2016 15:58:59 +0000 For the past four years, big data consultancy NewVantag […]]]>

For the past four years, big data consultancy NewVantage Partners LLC has surveyed a group of executives at large enterprises to determine their strategies surrounding big data. This year’s survey confirms that big data has turned the corner. In fact, 62.5 percent of firms reported that they now have at least one instance of big data in production and 70 percent said big data is now important or critical to their success. NewVantage CEO Randy Bean joined us for a CUBEconversation to discuss the findings and what they mean for users and big data technology providers. Bean founded the boutique consultancy in 2001. He writes a monthly column on big data for the Wall Street Journal, and is a contributor to MIT Sloan Management Review and Harvard Business Review.

This is the final edition of the survey. Why?

We host a series of breakfasts for CIOs from large companies, and about four years ago a CIO from JP Morgan said big data is a new phenomenon and he would like to understand how it is being adopted and what it means for them. We’re not in the survey business, but we had access to a couple of hundred C-level executives, particularly in financial services, so we decided to reach out to them.

The reason this is the final survey is because we realize the big data is being broadly adopted across organizations. It’s not a new phenomenon. We may come back and ask more questions next year, but they’ll be more along the lines of what results companies are seeing.

One of your findings is that more than 62 percent of the firms you surveyed now have at least one instance of big data in production. That raises the question to me of definitions. How are they defining big data?

We provide a definition of big data that we use globally. It can refer to all kinds of data: large, small, legacy, structured, unstructured. We’re referring to new approaches such as Hadoop that have made it possible to be much more agile, to democratize data processes and put data in the hands of business users much more rapidly. It really changes the whole equation. Traditionally, firms had to go through rigorous data engineering that took a lot of time. It wasn’t unusual to hear that it took 15 months and $3-$4 million to get an answer to a simple business question. Big data has changed that.

When a market goes mainstream, priorities change. Big data has been struggling to get a foothold until recently. Now that it’s mainstream, how will things change?

In the early years a lot of organizations were focused on doing proof-of-concepts, pilots, setting up an analytical sandbox, setting up a big data laboratory or center of excellence. They were trying to prove out what were the most likely use cases. Now we’re at a stage where big data is operationalized, but we’re learning that organizations aren’t able to point to the return on their investment. Many organizations can point to having created the big data environment, but very few organizations can point to the return they’re getting. In the future we see that as being the major challenge.

Your survey also found a dramatic increase in the number of people with the title of Chief Data Officer. This role means different things to different people and it lives in different parts of the organization. Are there any trends you found in how this role is being defined?

When we first started the doing this survey in 2012 only about 12 percent of organizations had a Chief Data Officer. Now it’s more than half. But there’s no clear definition of what the role means. Last week I was on the west coast with Charles Schwab, where the chief data officer reports to the chief marketing officer. In many organizations the CDO reports to the CIO, and in other organizations the position reports to the Chief Financial Officer.

There are also CDOs in both offensive and defensive roles. Many CEOs were hired to fulfill regulatory requirements. But at the same time many CDOs have strong analytical capabilities to leverage data as a corporate asset and create new products and capabilities. But much of their time is spent firefighting.

Do you see the potential for the Chief Data Officer to become a more important position than the CIO because the person is the steward of the corporate asset?

It’s unclear how the role will evolve because it’s a new role and it’s also a bit of a target. A few years into having a Chief Data Officer, some organizations are asking exactly what they’re getting for a return. It’s both an opportunity and a challenge.

In that vein, the CIO is typically responsible for technology platforms and the Chief Data Officer for data itself. Your survey found that technology was actually a minor big data issue among the executives you surveyed. Did that surprise you?

It wasn’t entirely surprising for two reasons. First, when NewVantage Partners started 15 years ago we assumed we were going to be 95 percent focused on technology and five percent on other issues. Today we’re focused five percent on technology and 95 percent on organizational issues. There’s a lot of technology that can solve data problems; the bigger issue is what the environment is like. It’s not so much a technology issue from our perspective, it’s an organization, business process and perspective issue.

Another surprising finding was that big data initiatives are currently being driven more by operational efficiency rather than business transformation, customer experience and other more strategic issues.

That’s been a major disappointment for many people because there has been hope that big data will be used for exciting things, but for the majority of financial services and life-sciences companies it’s primarily a migration from mainframes to Hadoop environments. Credit companies that in the past used to look at a subset of data to make credit decisions can now look at 10 years of data instead of one, and do it in a fraction of the time. These aren’t the sexy, consumer-focused applications that a lot of people had hoped for.

Do you think those applications will come? Are companies just looking at the low hanging fruit right now?

Absolutely. They have to provide the initial justification for return on investment, and there are some obvious processes to move from the mainframe to Hadoop. Big data should be looked at as enabling discovery in a rapid fashion. It creates a much more iterative process for an organization; rather than coming up with a hypothesis in advance, they can learn as they go. The metaphor of failing faster and more frequently is what big data enables. But innovative applications have been slower to come.

Gartner last year made some waves when it said that most big data initiatives were still in the starting blocks. Your survey indicates that they’re quite a bit further along. What’s the disconnect?

It’s a glass half-full/glass half-empty issue. There’s been substantial progress over the last three or four years in implementing big data environments, but in terms of creating new products and services, firms are still in their infancy. It’s like the adoption of the Internet; in the early stages using the World Wide Web was remarkable and 10 years down the road there was nothing special about it.

Another surprise in your research was relatively low interest in unstructured data. It seems there was a lot of excitement about tapping into social data, text documents and emails, but not much is happening yet.

It’s not the most important area thus far. A lot of organizations are focused on trying to bring in sources of data they haven’t been able to tap into in the past. For example, there may be thousands of silos within an organization, each with a different database.

Are vendors talking past their customers when they talk about technology rather than business benefits?

Big data projects are driven by the business. Business folks are focused on finding faster answers to their questions. There are a lot of technology solutions that can do the job, so the tech is not that critical at this time.

Watch the full interview (16:33)

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Why is the private cloud market so much smaller than public cloud? Wikibon explains Fri, 05 Feb 2016 14:44:34 +0000 Public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is 3.5 […]]]>

Public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is 3.5 times the size of the true private cloud market, based on Wikibon’s recently released “Private Cloud Market Sizing and Forecast for 2015-2026” (premium subscription required for full report). Given that internal IT organizations increasingly compete with public sites such as Amazon Web Services LLC (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, why is the uptake of true private cloud happening so slowly? asks Wikibon Cloud Analyst Brian Gracely in his latest Professional Alert.

Gracely finds several reasons for the lag. First, some CIOs still confuse cloud with virtualization. Virtualization is important, but it’s focused on automating management of IT infrastructure and its ROI is basically from cost savings in the IT budget due to increased utilization of servers in particular and from freeing technicians from constant manual re-optimization of the infrastructure to focus on higher-value tasks.

Cloud, in contrast, provides developers and end-users with direct access to the IT services, including applications via software-as-a-service (SaaS), on demand. One of the reasons AWS has been so popular with developers, for instance, is that coders can dial up virtual machines in minutes on a credit card as they need them and then shut them down again when finished. SaaS is becoming the preferred location for stable applications largely because end-users can gain immediate access, eliminating the lengthy delays in implementing and managing those applications in-house. As a result shadow IT, a term that once meant power users helping fellow employees with PC applications, now has come to mean the wholesale replacement of internal business applications with SaaS contracted not by the CIO but by business leaders.

True private cloud is rare

A second reason for the slow uptake of true private cloud is that many vendors do not yet provide a platform that can duplicate what is available in the public cloud. One reason is that cloud management is not a high-revenue business or a high-priority IT focus. The leading independent automation frameworks – Chef Software Inc., Puppet Labs Inc., etc. – generate $100 million or less in annual revenues, Gracely notes. Several cloud management startups have been acquired by larger players such as Red Hat Inc., EMC and Dell Inc., but because IT organizations haven’t made these tool sets a high priority, vendors haven’t either. One reason IT organizations are not excited by cloud management is because it requires development of a new set of skills. In contrast, these features are embedded in public cloud offerings, embedded behind self-service portals and programmable APIs.

Services lacking

Another problem is that many of the services offered to end-users by public cloud organizations, such as database-as-a-service, data management, elastic load-balancing and auto-scaling are managed internally by groups outside the IT organization. Therefore they haven’t been a priority for delivery as-a-service directly to users. The availability of such services in private clouds has been a significant factor in the expansion of shadow IT in many organizations.

Another problem is that IT organizations often focus their private cloud projects on common, standard business applications such as Oracle databases or Microsoft Sharepoint. But these mature core business applications are exactly the primary targets for software-as-a-service, which makes it difficult for internal IT to develop a ROI for keeping them in-house.

This leaves in-house software development as the primary value of private cloud, Gracely writes. But this puts internal IT in direct competition with the online platform-as-a-service providers, including AWS, Azure and IBM Bluemix. And most of that new software will be focused on public cloud implementation. That means that to compete, the private cloud has to provide services that duplicate those offered by the public cloud platforms.

User expectations for IT have shifted. Users now expect their internal IT organizations to be as flexible and responsive as and AWS – available on demand when needed with the desired capabilities. When it isn’t, users are increasingly likely to get out their corporate credit cards and sign up for a public service that is. To compete, therefore, IT needs what Wikibon calls “true private cloud” which provides the same end-user focused services and direct availability that their users find in the public cloud.

CIOs and IT organizations building private clouds need to set the bar higher for services delivered to business users, Gracely writes. Wikibon’s true private cloud model stresses strong alignment with public cloud services. The true private cloud framework allows IT to reduce costs and focus less on non-differentiated infrastructure capabilities while allocating more time and resources to application-level services that can differentiate the business.

Figure © 2016 Wikibon
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