Tag Archives: Google

Android Pie Is Filled with AI | Operating Systems


Artificial Intelligence plays a big role in Android 9, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, released Monday.

Called “Android Pie,” the OS is designed to learn from its users’ behavior, and apply those lessons to simplify and customize their phone experiences.

“From predicting your next task so you can jump right into the action you want to take, to prioritizing battery power for the apps you use most, to helping you disconnect from your phone at the end of the day, Android 9 adapts to your life and the ways you like to use your phone,” noted Sameer Samat, Google’s vice president of product management for Android and Google Play.

google's android 9 pie

Adaptive Brightness and Adaptive Battery are two ways Android Pie uses AI to customize and improve a phone’s performance.

Adaptive Brightness learns what brightness levels a user likes in certain conditions and automatically adjusts the display to those settings when those conditions arise.

Adaptive Battery plugs into Google’s DeepMind systems and can learn a person’s phone usage patterns and make adjustments to optimize power usage.

“Users of the Android P beta program on Google Pixel phones found a 20 percent increase in battery life,” said David McQueen, research director for consumer devices in the London offices of ABI Research, a technology advisory firm.

“Battery life has always been a major pain point for the smartphone user, so this implementation of AI will be welcome relief,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Seeing Will Be Believing

The power management feature works without adding additional hardware, McQueen pointed out.

Huawei introduced performance-enhancing AI in its Mate 10 Pro product, he said, but to do it, the company had to add a chip to the device, which it called a “neural processing unit.”

“There’s not much going on in terms of new battery technology that can lengthen battery life, so Adaptive Battery could be a good thing,” suggested William Stofega, program director for mobile phones and drones at
IDC, a market analysis company based in Framingham, Massachusetts.

The Adaptive Battery feature appears to be compelling, acknowledged Tuong Nguyen,
a senior principal analyst at Gartner, a research and advisory company
based in Stamford, Connecticut. However, he is withholding judgment on the feature until the verdict from users comes in.

“We see a lot of power optimization announcements, and I’m sure they work well enough,” Nguyen told TechNewsWorld, “but my perception as a consumer is that I can never stay sufficiently charged and am always using too much battery.”

Screen Slices

Another new addition to Android is App Actions. It makes connections between when and how you use apps and makes suggestions based on those connections. For example, it’s 5:15 p.m. on a Monday. App Action may ask if you want to open the e-book you’ve been reading on your commute to and from work for the past week.

Google also announced a feature for Android Pie called “Slices,” which won’t appear in the OS until later this fall.

Slices shows relevant information from apps depending on a user’s screen activity. So if a user started typing Lyft into Google Search, Slice would display a slice of the Lyft app with information such as prices to a destination and the ETA for a driver.

“Slices is great because it brings us a step closer to the post-app world,” Nguyen said.

“Instead of searching through a dozen of apps and individually opening them,” he continued, “the UI allows me to use them with fewer steps.”

Better Security

Android Pie also sports a new single home button for simpler navigation.

In addition, Android’s Overview feature has been redesigned to display full screen previews of recently used apps. It also now supports Smart Text Selection, providing action suggestions based on selected text.

Security has been beefed up in Android 9. It has an improved security model for biometrics. It uses a secure, dedicated chip to enable hardware security capabilities that protect sensitive data, such as credit card information.

Android 9 chooses the TLS protocol by default, as well as DNS over TLS, to help protect all Web communications and keep them private.

Multi-Camera and HEIF Support

Android’s photographic capabilities are expanded in Pie. It supports multiple cameras, which enables developers to access streams from a number of physical cameras simultaneously.

“Multi-camera support is a potentially cool feature because it impacts the trajectory of immersive augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality experiences,” Nguyen said.

“Anything that advances immersive is exciting for me, but it’s a long road, so don’t expect to see something with a super impact immediately,” he added. “It’s more of a building block for bigger things to come.”

Android Pie also supports a new image format, HEIF. The format provides better compression than the widely used JPEG format without a loss in quality. Apple has been using the format for awhile.

A common complaint among consumers is a lack of storage on phones, Nguyen noted.

“I’m not familiar with the technical details on HEIF, but I think all consumers can appreciate having more room because of better compression,” he said.

Fighting Phone Addiction

With concerns rising about how much time people spend with their phones, Google decided to add some time management features to Android Pie.

“While much of the time we spend on our phones is useful, many of us wish we could disconnect more easily and free up time for other things,” observed Google’s Samat.

“In fact, over 70 percent of people we talked to in our research said they want more help with this,” he added. “So we’ve been working to add key capabilities right into Android to help people achieve the balance with technology they’re looking for. “

The new “digital well-being” features that will be added to Android Pie this fall include the following:

  • A Dashboard that helps users understand how they’re spending time on their devices;
  • An App Timer that lets an operator set time limits on apps and grays out the icon on their home screen when the time is up;
  • A Do Not Disturb mode, which silences all the visual interruptions that pop up on a screen; and
  • Wind Down, which switches on Night Light and Do Not Disturb and fades the screen to grayscale before bedtime.

While the new digital health features may be embraced by some users, they could be annoying to others.

“I can see things like Wind Down and app timers getting in the way,” IDC’s Stofega told TechNewsWorld. “I thiink people want to use their devices whenever and however they want.”

Possible Pain Points

For many Android users, all the goodies in the latest version of the OS are likely to remain out of their hands for some time, since Pie works only on Pixel models, and a few other phones that participated in the beta program for the software.

“It will be telling how quickly Android P is able to migrate to Samsung and Huawei smartphones, and then on to those that run Android One,” McQueen said.

Even for those who are able to get their hands on the new OS, there could be challenges.

“The issue always is how quickly will people be able to recognize some of these new features,” and whether these devices are “getting too complex for their own good,” Stofega said.

“These devices are becoming Swiss Army knife-like,” he remarked. “Device makers have to figure out and adjust to what people really need versus what’s technically possible.”


John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter
since 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, the
Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government
Security News
. Email John.





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Shuttleworth on Ubuntu 18.04: Multicloud Is the New Normal | Software


By Jack M. Germain

Apr 29, 2018 5:00 AM PT

Canonical last week released the
Ubuntu 18.04 LTS platform for desktop, server, cloud and Internet of Things use. Its debut followed a two-year development phase that led to innovations in cloud solutions for enterprises, as well as smoother integrations with private and public cloud services, and new tools for container and virtual machine operations.

The latest release drives new efficiencies in computing and focuses on the big surge in artificial intelligence and machine learning, said Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth in a global conference call.

Ubuntu has been a platform for innovation over the last decade, he noted. The latest release reflects that innovation and comes on the heels of extraordinary enterprise adoption on the public cloud.

The IT industry has undergone some fundamental shifts since the last Ubuntu upgrade, with digital disruption and containerization changing the way organizations think about next-generation infrastructures. Canonical is at the forefront of this transformation, providing the platform for enabling change across the public and private cloud ecosystem, desktop and containers, Shuttleworth said.

“Multicloud operations are the new normal,” he remarked. “Boot time and performance-optimized images of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on every major public cloud make it the fastest and most-efficient OS for cloud computing, especially for storage and compute-intensive tasks like machine learning,” he added.

Ubuntu 18.04 comes as a unified computing platform. Having an identical platform from workstation to edge and cloud accelerates global deployments and operations. Ubuntu 18.04 LTS features a default GNOME desktop. Other desktop environments are KDE, MATE and Budgie.

Diversified Features

The latest technologies under the Ubuntu 18.04 hood are focused on real-time optimizations and an expanded Snapcraft ecosystem to replace traditional software delivery via package management tools.

For instance, the biggest innovations in Ubuntu 18.04 are related to enhancements to cloud computing, Kubernetes integration, and Ubuntu as an IoT control platform. Features that make the new Ubuntu a platform for artificial intelligence and machine learning also are prominent.

The Canonical distribution of Kubernetes (CDK) runs on public clouds, VMware, OpenStack and bare metal. It delivers the latest upstream version, currently Kubernetes 1.10. It also supports upgrades to future versions of Kubernetes, expansion of the Kubernetes cluster on demand, and integration with optional components for storage, networking and monitoring.

As a platform for AI and ML, CDK supports GPU acceleration of workloads using the Nvidia DevicePlugin. Further, complex GPGPU workloads like Kubeflow work on CDK. That performance reflects joint efforts with Google to accelerate ML in the enterprise, providing a portable way to develop and deploy ML applications at scale. Applications built and tested with Kubeflow and CDK are perfectly transportable to Google Cloud, according to Shuttleworth.

Developers can use the new Ubuntu to create applications on their workstations, test them on private bare-metal Kubernetes with CDK, and run them across vast data sets on Google’s GKE, said Stephan Fabel, director of product management at Canonical. The resulting models and inference engines can be delivered to Ubuntu devices at the edge of the network, creating an ideal pipeline for machine learning from the workstation to rack, to cloud and device.

Snappy Improvements

The latest Ubuntu release allows desktop users to receive rapid delivery of the latest applications updates. Besides having access to typical desktop applications, software devs and enterprise IT teams can benefit from the acceleration of snaps, deployed across the desktop to the cloud.

Snaps have become a popular way to get apps on Linux. More than 3,000 snaps have been published, and millions have been installed, including official releases from Spotify, Skype, Slack and Firefox,

Snaps are fully integrated into Ubuntu GNOME 18.04 LTS and KDE Neon. Publishers deliver updates directly, and security is maintained with enhanced kernel isolation and system service mediation.

Snaps work on desktops, devices and cloud virtual machines, as well as bare-metal servers, allowing a consistent delivery mechanism for applications and frameworks.

Workstations, Cloud and IoT

Nvidia GPGPU hardware acceleration is integrated in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS cloud images and Canonical’s OpenStack and Kubernetes distributions for on-premises bare metal operations. Ubuntu 18.04 supports Kubeflow and other ML and AI workflows.

Kubeflow, the Google approach to TensorFlow on Kubernetes, is integrated into Canonical Kubernetes along with a range of CI/CD tools, and aligned with Google GKE for on-premises and on-cloud AI development.

“Having an OS that is tuned for advanced workloads such as AI and ML is critical to a high-velocity team,” said David Aronchick, product manager for Cloud AI at Google. “With the release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and Canonical’s collaborations to the Kubeflow project, Canonical has provided both a familiar and highly performant operating system that works everywhere.”

Software engineers and data scientists can use tools they already know, such as Ubuntu, Kubernetes and Kubeflow, and greatly accelerate their ability to deliver value for their customers, whether on-premises or in the cloud, he added.

Multiple Cloud Focus

Canonical has seen a significant adoption of Ubuntu in the cloud, apparently because it offers an alternative, said Canonical’s Fabel.

Typically, customers ask Canonical to deploy Open Stack and Kubernetes together. That is a pattern emerging as a common operational framework, he said. “Our focus is delivering Kubernetes across multiple clouds. We do that in alignment with Microsoft Azure service.”

Better Economics

Economically, Canonical sees Kubernetes as a commodity, so the company built it into Ubuntu’s support package for the enterprise. It is not an extra, according to Fabel.

“That lines up perfectly with the business model we see the public clouds adopting, where Kubernetes is a free service on top of the VM that you are paying for,” he said.

The plan is not to offer overly complex models based on old-school economic models, Fabel added, as that is not what developers really want.

“Our focus is on the most effective delivery of the new commodity infrastructure,” he noted.

Private Cloud Alternative to VMware

Canonical OpenStack delivers private cloud with significant savings over VMware and provides a modern, developer-friendly API, according to Canonical. It also has built-in support for NFV and GPGPUs. The Canonical OpenStack offering has become a reference cloud for digital transformation workloads.

Today, Ubuntu is at the heart of the world’s largest OpenStack clouds, both public and private, in key sectors such as finance, media, retail and telecommunications, Shuttleworth noted.

Other Highlights

Among Ubuntu 18.04’s benefits:

  • Containers for legacy workloads with LXD 3.0 — LXD 3.0 enables “lift-and-shift” of legacy workloads into containers for performance and density, an essential part of the enterprise container strategy.

    LXD provides “machine containers” that behave like virtual machines in that they contain a full and mutable Linux guest operating system, in this case, Ubuntu. Customers using unsupported or end-of-life Linux environments that have not received fixes for critical issues like Meltdown and Spectre can lift and shift those workloads into LXD on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with all the latest kernel security fixes.

  • Ultrafast Ubuntu on a Windows desktop — New Hyper-V optimized images developed in collaboration with Microsoft enhance the virtual machine experience of Ubuntu in Windows.
  • Minimal desktop install — The new minimal desktop install provides only the core desktop and browser for those looking to save disk space and customize machines with their specific apps or requirements. In corporate environments, the minimal desktop serves as a base for custom desktop images, reducing the security cross-section of the platform.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.





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Android P Tackles Phone Addiction, Distraction | Operating Systems


Google on Tuesday revealed some major new features in the next version of its Android operating system for mobile devices.

Now in public beta, the OS known as “Android P” includes features designed to address growing concerns about phone addiction and distraction.

For example, a dashboard will show users how often, when and for how long they use each application on their phone. What’s more, they can set time limits on usage.

With the help of artificial intelligence, Android P also will watch how a user handles notifications. If notifications from an app constantly are swiped away, Android P will recommend notifications be turned off for that program.

“Do Not Disturb” mode has been beefed up in Android P. Users will be able to set the mode so there are no visual cues at all on a display of notifications, not even in the notification drawer.

The mode can be activated simply by placing the phone face down on a flat surface. If a phone is set up to separate work from personal apps, it can be configured to mute all apps at once with a single toggle.

Moreover, there’s a “wind down” feature that will take the phone into Do Not Disturb mode at a bedtime set by the user.

Fighting Addiction

The new application dashboard and notification muting features target a growing social concern about smartphones.

“Google is making the product far more user-friendly and directly addressing at least some of the problems associated with smartphone addiction,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

That strikes a contrast with Android’s chief competitor, iOS.

“Apple is more focused on ensuring privacy and doesn’t seem to be as aggressively addressing the addiction problem,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld.

It remains to be seen whether users will take advantage of the tools.

“Folks should care more about this — but, like any addiction, they likely feel they can deal with this one without help,” Enderle remarked.

The success of the features will depend on Google, noted Gerrit Schneemann, senior analyst at IHS Markit Technology.

“I firmly believe that many smartphone users do not use all the features of their phone to their full potential,” he told TechNewsWorld. “It seems like that could be the case here.”

“If Google focuses on things like ‘wind down’ to expose users to the capabilities, I think there could be traction,” Schneemann said. “However, depending on users to discover the dashboard alone will be problematic on a broad scale.”

More Than Well Being

In addition to the new “digital well-being” features, Android P will provide a new way to navigate phones.

There’s the familiar home button, but with modified behavior. With new gestures, a user swipes up to get an overview of open apps, and swipes up further to go to the app tray.

The back button is still there, but it only appears inside apps.

Google has added screenshot editing to Android P, allowing users to mark up screenshots without having to use another app.

Google also has injected smarts into app searching in Android P. When a search is performed, things that can be done with an app appear along with its icon. So if you search for a ride-sharing app, for example, the results might include a button to hail a ride.

The Android P team partnered with
DeepMind on a new Adaptive Battery feature that optimizes app usage, noted Dave Burke, VP of engineering for Android.

“Adaptive Battery uses machine learning to prioritize access to system resources for the apps the user cares about most,” he wrote in an online post. “It puts running apps into groups with different restrictions using four new ‘App Standby buckets’ ranging from ‘active’ to ‘rare.’ Apps will change buckets over time, and apps not in the ‘active’ bucket will have restrictions in: jobs, alarms, network and high-priority Firebase Cloud Messages.”

Android P Adaptive Battery

Personal Touch

Android P shows Google wants to make the OS more personal and relevant for individuals, noted Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner.

“There’s a lot of new features in Android, but they all center on how can Google users have a more holistic and personal interaction with technology,” he told TechNewsWorld.

With Android P, Google is making a pitch to use less technology, Blau maintained.

“They’re saying you don’t need technology at every last pinpoint in every day of your life,” he continued. “Maybe you need more effective technology with fewer interactions. With Android P, Google is taking away the rough edges. That, over time, means what you will see is an Android that caters much more to the individual.”

From a feature and user interface perspective, Android P is one of the more significant rollouts for the OS in a while, noted Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.

“They’re also letting the beta run on more third-party phones,” he told TechNewsWorld. “In the past, betas only ran on a Nexus or Pixel device.”

Those third-party phones include the Essential Phone, Sony’s Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2S, Nokia’s 7 Plus, Vivo’s X21, Oppo’s R15 Pro and the soon-to-be-released OnePlus 6.


John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter
since 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, the
Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government
Security News
. Email John.





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Red Hat Launches Fuse 7, Fuse Online for Better Cloud Integration | Enterprise


By Jack M. Germain

Jun 5, 2018 7:00 AM PT

Red Hat on Monday launched its Fuse 7 cloud-native integration solution and introduced Fuse Online, an alternative integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS).

Red Hat Fuse is a lightweight modular and flexible integration platform with a new-style enterprise service bus (ESB) to unlock information. It provides a single, unified platform across hybrid cloud environments for collaboration between integration experts, application developers and business users.

The Fuse 7 upgrade expands the platform’s integration capabilities natively to Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. OpenShift is a comprehensive enterprise Kubernetes platform.

Fuse Online includes a set of automated tools for connecting software applications that are deployed in different environments. iPaaS often is used by large business-to-business (B2B) enterprises that need to integrate on-premises applications and data with cloud applications and data.

Red Hat customers already using Fuse are likely to welcome the new additions and updates, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. Those who are actively utilizing the company’s OpenShift container solutions, and those planning hybrid cloud implementations may be especially interested.

“I’m not sure whether those features will attract significant numbers of new customers to Red Hat, but Fuse 7 appears to do a solid job of integrating the company’s container and hybrid cloud technologies into a seamless whole,” King told LinuxInsider.

Competitive Differentiator

Because Red Hat’s Fuse enables subscribers to integrate custom and packaged applications across the hybrid cloud quickly and efficiently, it can be a competitive differentiator for organizations today, the company said.

The new iPaaS offering allows diverse users such as integration experts, application developers and nontechnical citizen integrators to participate independently in the integration process. It gives users a single platform that maintains compliance with corporate governance and processes.

By taking advantage of capabilities in Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Fuse offers greater productivity and manageability in private, public or hybrid clouds, said Sameer Parulkar, senior product marketing manager at Red Hat.

“This native OpenShift-based experience provides portability for services and integrations across runtime environments and enables diverse users to work more collaboratively,” he told LinuxInsider.

Fuse Capabilities

Fuse 7 introduces a browser-based graphical interface with low-code drag-and-drop capabilities that enable business users and developers to integrate applications and services more rapidly, using more than 200 predefined connectors and components, said Parulkar.

Based on Apache Camel, the components include more than 50 new connectors for big data, cloud services and Software as a Service (SaaS) endpoints. Organizations can adapt and scale endpoints for legacy systems, application programming interfaces, Internet of Things devices and cloud-native applications.

Customers can extend services and integrations for use by third-party providers and partners. Users can deploy Fuse alongside Red Hat’s 3scale API Management offering to add capabilities for security, monetization, rate limiting and community features.

Fuse Online is a new service, but it is based on the existing structure of the Fuse application. Fuse online is a 24/7 service with drag and drop integration capabilities.

“The foundation is the same. It can be used in conjunction with Fuse 7 or separately with the ability to abstract all the customer’s existing data,” said Parulkar. “It allows an organization to get started much more quickly.”

Expanding Agility

Combined with Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform and 3scale API Management, Fuse forms the foundation of Red Hat’s agile integration architecture. 3scale API Management 2.2, released last month, introduced new tools for graphical configuration of policies, policy extensibility and shareability. It also expanded Transport Layer Security (TLS) support.

The result makes it easier for business users to implement their organization’s API program. Combined integration technologies let users more quickly, easily and reliably integrate systems across their hybrid cloud environments, Parulkar said.

“Data integration is critical to the National Migration Department’s mission of effective threat prediction, and Red Hat Fuse plays a crucial role in this process,” said Osmar Alza, coordinator of migration control for Direccin Nacional de Migraciones de la Repblica Argentina. “The Red Hat Fuse platform provides unified access to a complete view of a person for smarter, more efficient analysis, and supports flexible integration

Access and Use

Red Hat Fuse 7 is available for download by members of the Red Hat Developer community. Existing Fuse users automatically get the Fuse 7 upgrade.

Fuse Online is available for free trial followed by a monthly subscription.

Both products use the same interface, so the customer gets a unified platform whether used in the cloud or on premises. Fuse offers users more integration than similar solutions provided by IBM, Oracle and Google, Parulkar said.

“The key benefits of any integrated PaaS platform are simplified implementation and centralized management functions. On first glance, Fuse Online seems to hit those notes via well-established and road-tested Red Hat technologies, including OpenShift,” said King.

Fusing Advantages

From the very beginning, the goal of Red Hat Fuse was to simplify integration across the extended enterprise and help organizations compete and differentiate themselves, said Mike Piech, vice president and general manager for middleware at Red Hat.

“With Fuse 7, which includes Fuse Online, we are continuing to enhance and evolve the platform to meet the changing needs of today’s businesses, building off of our strength in hybrid cloud and better serving both the technical and non-technical professionals involved in integration today,” he said.

Red Hat simplifies what otherwise could be a cumbersome task — that is, integrating disparate applications, services, devices and APIs across the extended enterprise.

Fuse enables customers to achieve agile integration to their advantage, noted Saurabh Sharma, principal analyst at
Ovum.

“Red Hat’s new iPaaS solution fosters developer productivity and supports a wider range of user personas to ease the complexity of hybrid integration,” he said.

Right Path to the Cloud

Red Hat’s new Fuse offerings are further proof that businesses — and especially enterprises — have embraced the hybrid cloud as the preferred path forward, said Pund-IT’s King.

“That is a stick in the eye to evangelists who have long claimed that public cloud will eventually dominate IT and rapidly make internal IT infrastructures a thing of the past,” he remarked.

Pushing Old Limits

Fuse comes from a more traditional or legacy enterprise applications approach centered around service-oriented architecture (SOA) and enterprise service bus (ESB). As was common back in the day, there’s a lot of emphasis on formal standard compliance as opposed to de facto open source standardization through project development, noted Roman Shaposhnik, vice president for product and strategy at
Zededa.

While the current generation of enterprise application architectures unquestionably is based on microservices and 12-factor apps, Fuse and ESB in general still enjoy a lot of use in existing applications, he told LinuxInsider. That use, however, is predominantly within existing on-premises data center deployments.

“Thus the question becomes: How many enterprises will use the move to the cloud as a forcing function to rethink their application architecture in the process, versus conducting a lift-n-shift exercise first?” Shaposhnik asked.

It is hard to predict the split. There will be a nontrivial percentage that will pick the latter and will greatly benefit from a more cloud-native implementation of Fuse, he noted.

“This is very similar to how Amazon Web Services had its initial next generation-focused, greenfield application deployments built, exclusively based on cloud-native principles and APIs, but which over time had to support a lot of legacy bridging technologies like Amazon Elastic File System,” Shaposhnik said. “That is basically as old school of a [network-attached storage]-based on [network file system] protocol as one can get.”

Possible Drawbacks

The advantage to the workaround technology is clearly one more roadblock removed from being able to seamlessly lift-and-shift legacy enterprise applications into cloud-native deployment environments. That becomes a disadvantage, Shaposhnik noted.

“The easier the cloud and infrastructure providers make it for enterprises to continue using legacy bridging technologies, the more they delay migration to the next-generation architectures, which are critical for scalability and rapid iteration on the application design and implementation,” he said.

Red Hat’s technology can be essential to enterprise cloud use, said Ian McClarty, CEO of
PhoenixNAP Global It Solutions.

“To organizations leveraging the Red Hat ecosystem, Fuse helps manage components that today are handled from disparate sources into a much simpler-to-use interface with the capability of extending functionality,” he told LinuxInsider.

The advantage of an iPaaS offering is ease of use, said McClarty. Further, added management for multiple assets becomes a lot easier and scale-out becomes a possibility.

One disadvantage is the availability of the system. Since it is a hosted solution, subscribers are limited by the uptime of the vendor, said McClarty.

Another disadvantage is that vendor lock becomes a stronger reality, he pointed out. The DevOps/system administrator relies on the iPaaS system to do daily tasks, so the vendor becomes much harder to displace.


Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.





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Private Cloud May Be the Best Bet: Report | Enterprise


By Jack M. Germain

Jun 13, 2018 5:00 AM PT

News flash: Private cloud economics can offer more cost efficiency than public cloud pricing structures.

Private (or on-premises) cloud solutions can be more cost-effective than public cloud options, according to “Busting the Myths of Private Cloud Economics,” a report 451 Research and Canonical released Wednesday. That conclusion counters the notion that public cloud platforms traditionally are more cost-efficient than private infrastructures.

Half of the enterprise IT decision-makers who participated in the study identified cost as the No. 1 pain point associated with the public cloud. Forty percent mentioned cost-savings as a key driver of cloud migration.

“We understand that people are looking for more cost-effective infrastructure. This was not necessarily news to us,” said Mark Baker, program director at Canonical.

“It was interesting to see the report point out that operating on-premises infrastructure can be as cost-effective as using public cloud services if done in the right way,” he told LinuxInsider.

Report Parameters

The Cloud Price Index, 451 Group’s tracking of public and private cloud pricing since 2015, supplied the data underpinning the latest report. Companies tracked in the Cloud Price Index include but are not limited to Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft, VMware, Rackspace, IBM, Oracle, HPE, NTT and CenturyLink.

The Cloud Price Index is based on quarterly surveys of some 50 providers across the globe that together represent around nearly 90 percent of global Infrastructure as a Service revenue, noted Owen Rogers, director of the Digital Economics Unit at 451 Research.

“Most providers give us data in return for complimentary research. Canonical asked us if they could participate as well. Any provider is welcome to submit a quotation and to be eligible for this research,” he told LinuxInsider.

Providers are not compared directly with each other directly because each vendor and each enterprise scenario is different. It is not fair to say Provider A is cheaper than Provider B in all circumstances, Rogers explained.

“We just provide benchmarks and pricing distributions for a specific use-case so that enterprises can evaluate if the price they are paying is proportional to the value they are getting from that specific vendor,” he said. “Because we keep individual providers’ pricing confidential, we get more accurate and independent data.”

Private Cloud Trend

The private cloud sector continues to attract enterprise customers looking for a combination of price economy and cloud productivity. That combination is a driving point for Canonical’s cloud service, said Baker.

“We see customers wanting to be able to continue running workloads on-premises as well as on public cloud and wanting to get that public cloud economics within a private cloud. We have been very focused on helping them do that,” he said.

Enterprise customers have multiple reasons for choosing on-premises or public cloud services. They ranges from workload characteristics and highly variable workloads to different business types, such as retail operations. Public clouds let users vary their capacity.

“You see the rates of innovation delivered by the public cloud because of the new services they are launching,” said Baker, “but there is a need for some to run workloads on-premises as well. That can be for compliance reasons, security reasons, or cases where systems are already in place.”

In some cases, maintaining cloud operations on-premises can be even more cost-effective than running in the public cloud, he pointed out. Cost is only one element, albeit a very important one.

Report Highlights

The public cloud is not always the bargain buyers expect, the report suggests. Cloud computing may not deliver the promised huge cost savings for some enterprises.

Reducing costs was the enterprise’s main reason for moving to the cloud, based on a study conducted last summer. More than half of the decision-makers polled said cost factors were still their top pain point in a follow-up study a few months later.

Once companies start consuming cloud services, they realize the value that on-demand access to IT resources brings in terms of quicker time to market, easier product development, and the ability to scale to meet unexpected opportunities.

As a result, enterprises consume more and more cloud services as they look to grow revenue and increase productivity. With scale, public cloud costs can mount rapidly, without savings from economies of scale being passed on, the latest report concludes.

Private Clouds Can Be Cheaper If…

Enterprises using private or on-premises clouds need the right combination of tools and partnerships. Cost efficiency is only possible when operating in a “Goldilocks zone” of high utilization and high labor efficiency.

Enterprises should use tools, outsourced services and partnerships to optimize their private cloud as much as possible to save money, 451 recommended. That will enhance their ability to profit from value-added private cloud benefits.

Many managed private clouds were priced reasonably compared to public cloud services, the report found, providing enterprises with the best of both worlds — private cloud peace of mind, control and security, yet at a friendlier price.

Managed services can increase labor efficiency by providing access to qualified, experienced engineers. They also can reduce some operational burdens with the outsourcing and automation of day-to-day operations, the report notes.

Convincing Study

While public cloud services can be valuable in many circumstances, they are not necessarily the Utopian IT platform of the future that proponents make them out to be, observed Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“As the report suggests, these points are clearly the case where enterprises are involved. However, they are increasingly relevant for many smaller companies, especially those that rely heavily on IT-based service models,” he told LinuxInsider.

An interesting point about the popularity of private cloud services is that their success relates to generational shifts in IT management processes and practices, King noted. Younger admins and other personnel gravitate toward services that offer simplified tools and intuitive graphical user interfaces that are commonplace in public cloud platforms but unusual in enterprise systems.

“Public cloud players deserve kudos for seeing and responding to those issues,” King said. “However, the increasing success of private cloud solutions is due in large part to system vendors adapting to those same generational changes.”

The Canonical Factor

Canonical’s managed private cloud compares favorably to public cloud services, the report found. Canonical last year engaged with 451 Research for the Cloud Price Index, which compared its pricing and services against the industry at large using the CPI’s benchmark averages and market distributions.

Canonical’s managed private cloud was cheaper than 25 of the public cloud providers included in the CPI price distributions, which proves that the benefits of outsourced management and private cloud do not have to come at a premium, according to the report’s authors.

High levels of automation drive down management costs significantly. Canonical is a pioneer in model-driven operations that reduce the amount of fragmentation and customization required for diverse OpenStack architectures and deployments.

That likely is a contributing factor to the report’s finding that Canonical was priced competitively against other hosted private cloud providers. Canonical’s offering is a full-featured open cloud with a wide range of reference architectures and the ability to address the entire range of workload needs at a competitive price.

Dividing Options

It is not so much a divide between private and public cloud usage in enterprise markets today, suggested Pund-IT’s King, as a case of organizations developing a clearer understanding or sophistication about what works best in various cloud scenarios and what does not.

“The Canonical study clarifies how the financial issues driving initial public cloud adoption can and do change over time and often favor returning to privately owned cloud-style IT deployments,” he explained. “But other factors, including privacy and security concerns, also affect which data and workloads companies will entrust to public clouds.”

A valid case exists for using both public and private infrastructure, according to the 451 Research report. Multicloud options are the endgame for most organizations today. This approach avoids vendor lock-in and enables enterprises to leverage the best attributes of each platform, but the economics have to be realistic.

It is worth considering private cloud as an option rather than assuming that public cloud is the only viable route, the report concludes. The economics showcased in the report suggest that a private cloud strategy could be a better solution.


Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.





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