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Microsoft is raising prices of Office 365, with the Enterprise Agreement (EA) E1, E3 and E4 and government SKUs affected by the price increase. The price hike begins in August and will increase pricing around 15 percent, focused on customers that don't have a Software Assurance (SA) plans.
"The vast majority of our customers will not see an increase in the cost of Office 365. All existing Office 365 EA customers are guaranteed prices will not change for the duration of their agreement," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "New Office 365 EA customers who don't have a previous investment in our products will see an increase to align our pricing to our other channels."
When Office 365 was first launched, and business users were still unsure if they wanted to move into the cloud, there were many confusing SKUs. Microsoft trimmed back on the number of SKUs, and its value-added resellers (VARs) are more comfortable recommending the appropriate plan for their clients.
The City of San Jose and Intel are working together to help stimulate the local economy and embrace their "Green Vision" efforts by collaborating for Smart Cities USA. City officials hope to embrace the Internet of Things and utilize the Intel Smart City Demonstration Platform so residents have real-time, local data that can help guide their energy consumption and daily activities.
"To help improve quality of life in San Jose, we're exploring new ways of capturing and sharing localized information to our residents," said Kerrie Romanow, San Jose Environmental Services Department director. "With better information, we tend to make better decisions. We're optimistic that the real-time air quality data will help our staff understand how we can positively influence the environment right here in San José as well as regionally and globally."
When people think of Silicon Valley, they tend to think more of San Francisco - but over the next 30 years, the population of San Jose is expected to increase to 1.4 million. Moving forward, the city hopes to continue attracting tech and biotech companies, and launching "smart city" initiatives will continue to draw attention.
Microsoft continues to try and transition its business into cloud computing and going mobile, hoping additional product announcements and partnerships should help. The Azure ExpressRoute gives users the chance to operate private connections between their Azure network and on-premise environments, along with increased mobility to integrate with Apple iOS and Google Android.
"Mobility and cloud are the future of business, and the future is now," said Brad Anderson, Microsoft Cloud & Enterprise Division Corporate VP. "Our differentiated cloud innovations, comprehensive mobile productivity solutions and developer tools help all of our customers realize the true potential of the cloud era."
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was largely unable to usher Microsoft into the future, with new CEO Satya Nadella trying to follow a more aggressive roadmap. The software giant will continue to push resellers to drum up interest among end-users, though will remain an uphill battle in increasingly competitive markets.
Google has just dropped the price on its cloud storage service, Drive, to ridiculous levels. Google provides 15GB of free storage through Drive, but now the company is making it much cheaper to throw more content onto the cloud. Here's the new pricing:
- 15GB - Free
- 100GB - $1.99 a month
- 1TB - $9.99 a month
- 10TB or more - $99.99 a month
Competitors Apple and Dropbox have just had their cloud storage businesses look a little worse today, with Dropbox offering 100GB of cloud storage for $9.99 per month, so Google is really dominating Dropbox here. Previously Google charged $4.99 for the 100GB of cloud storage, so the drop to just $1.99 is a significant one.
Apple charges annually for its iCloud service, at $100 per year for 50GB which means you're paying $8.30 per month. $8.30 per month for 50GB is a much higher price to pay than what Google was offering before its price cuts at 100GB for $4.99 per month, but now at $1.99 per month for 100GB of storage through Drive, Google has really dived out ahead of its competitors.
ASRock has announced that it has partnered up with Kloudian to unveil its own cloud storage service, ASRock Cloud. ASRock Cloud includes a three-year subscription to Orbweb.ME Professional, which is priced at $149.97.
This is a personal cloud storage service which is normally priced at $49.99 per year, as well as one-month upgrade to Orbweb.ME Ultimate, which gives consumers access to a Remote Desktop function. James Wei, the CEO of Kloudian, said: "It is very exciting to work with ASRock, one of the world's largest motherboard manufacturers. With the continued proliferation of mobile devices and the growing demand to 'stay connected', we are proud to provide a powerful and convenient solution to enable users the freedom of their portable device plus the power of their ASRock personal computer."
ASRock Cloud comes in both iOS and Android apps, or you can your web browser on your PC, where you can then remotely power on your PC, stream music, photos and video clips remotely through Orbweb.ME's file Xplorer, at anytime, anywhere. In order to jump in on this, you have to own an ASRock motherboard, and then visit this link for more info.
MWC 2014 - Enterprise management company CA Technologies launched the Management Cloud for Mobility platform, a new cloud service. There is specific interest in the advancing enterprise mobility management (EMM) technology aimed at keeping devices secure in an increasingly mobile workplace.
CA Technology hopes "Smart Containerization" will give companies the chance to address security, device performance and compliance while not interfering in day-to-day use.
"The growth of mobile devices and apps in the enterprise is blurring the lines between personal and corporate data and leading to new challenges for enterprises," said Chris Hazelton, Research Director for Mobile & Wireless solutions at 451 Research, in a statement. "The EMM space is evolving as companies are looking for more complete offerings that support customers and productive mobile employees."
The EMM market is on full display at both MWC in Spain and the 2014 RSA Conference currently underway in San Francisco - as businesses understand keeping mobile solutions secure is a major priority.
Its been a few months since I first reported on Microsoft being forced to rename SkyDrive, and just a few weeks ago we learned that the service would be transitioning to the moniker "OneDrive." The initial announcement said that it would take several weeks for the new branding to be fully implemented, and today Microsoft's cloud storage service is now officially named OneDrive.
Visiting Skydrive.com redirects you to the OneDrive site as does OneDrive.com, but the official URL is OneDrive.live.com, something that may be confusing to some non-technical customers. Microsoft has only changed the service's name and all functionality appears to have remained the same. New users who sign up receive 7GB of free storage space and an additional 500MB for each additional user they invite to the service. Additionally, users who opt into auto backing up images from their smartphone receive an additional 3GB of free storage space.
"Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to get all of your favorite stuff in one place - one place that is accessible via all of the devices you use every day, at home and at work. Because let's face it, until now, cloud storage services have been pretty hard to use, and the vast majority of us still have our stuff spread out everywhere," said Microsoft's Chris Jones. "In fact, according to a recent poll, at least 77 percent of people who are familiar with the cloud still have content stored on a device that is not backed up elsewhere. We want to change that."
Microsoft has just made a big change to its cloud storage service, where it has changed its name from SkyDrive to OneDrive. This is something that has gone into effect today.
The software giant has also updated its Android app, which now features automatic camera backups that will see your precious moments automatically uploaded to your OneDrive account. Microsoft is also rolling out monthly storage plans, which start at $4.49 per month for 50GB, ranging up to $11.49 per month for 200GB.
Enterprise IT spending will mainly focus helping companies move forward with cloud computing and mobile-based services, while overall budgets are increasing. Mobile app development should see a strong boost in 2014, with decision makers hoping to keep users productive and customers happy.
"One of the learnings we had early last year when we were starting to play with cloud technologies was that there was always a risk of something like this happening," said Hugh Scott, Energy Plus CIO, when speaking of a recent Amazon Web Services outage. The downtime hit Netflix, Instagram, Pinterest, and countless other services that had to deal with upset customers.
Both Google and VMware recently announced a joint effort to accelerate development of corporate desktops, powered for the "Mobile Cloud Era." The service is designed to provide businesses and enterprises with access to a secure cloud on desktops, smartphones, and mobile devices.
New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella plans to spend a large portion of his early days at Microsoft moving the company forward in the mobile and cloud markets.
Cloud computing is predicted to reach $121.1 billion by 2015, according to a report from MarketsandMarkets, though other analysts guess the market will have a difficult time in 2014. Embracing the cloud gives users the chance to utilize a scalable and cost-effective way to access and share information from any Web-connected device.
For companies trying to sell cloud services to the consumer or B2B markets, it's quickly coming down to service quality. Any company trying to drive innovation in the cloud market must pay attention to good product support, customer support, and clear lines of communication with users.
Companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon tend to get a lot of headlines for their respective cloud efforts, though software providers like Red Hat and CA are expected to have a difficult time growing this year.