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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.
Following criticism accusing Microsoft of giving the National Security Agency (NSA) easy access to customer data, Microsoft is now allowing overseas customers to keep their information stored outside of the United States.
"People should have the ability to know whether their data are being subjected to the laws and access of governments in some other country, and should have the ability to make an informed choice of where their data resides," said Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel, in a statement to reporters.
If this happens, it will mark one of the more drastic moves by companies trying to limit concern over the access NSA has to documents, files, and personal information. Other companies prefer to keep information stored in the U.S., even with NSA snooping concerns, and will follow Microsoft's overseas effort carefully.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has continually denied that the NSA has a Microsoft-created backdoor to access information ranging from customer data to cloud access to browse files.
During the first half of last year, Microsoft found itself in a bit of hot water when the British Sky Broadcasting Group took Redmond to court over the SkyDrive name. Following the courts ruling, Microsoft agreed to change its cloud service's name to something else. Today, more than six months later, the new name has arrived.
Microsoft SkyDrive will now be known as Microsoft One Drive, and the company says that the re-branding will take place soon, and that no changes will be made to the service that affects your data. In a statement, Microsoft said: The Service "will continue to operate as you expect and all of your content will be available on OneDrive and OneDrive for Business respectively as the new name is rolled out across the portfolio."
"Changing the name of a product as loved as SkyDrive wasn't easy," admits Microsoft's Ryan Gavin. "We are excited about what is to come, and can't wait to share more." Gavin's statement leads us to believe that Microsoft is planning the launch of new features for OneDrive, but with the service already fully featured, I am not sure what else they could add.
The battle for cloud computing supremacy recently accelerated to a new level, with Amazon and Microsoft both slashing prices to stay competitive. Amazon should stay the leader in public cloud offerings, but Microsoft's immediate response indicated it's a fight that will continue for the foreseeable future.
From the Microsoft website: Here are the details... We are matching AWS' lowest prices (US East Region) for S3 and EBS by reducing prices by up to 20% and making the lower prices available in all regions worldwide. For Locally Redundant Disks/Page Blobs Storage we are reducing prices by up to 28%. We are also reducing the price of Azure Storage transactions by 50%.
Amazon cut prices for the S3 storage prices by 22 percent, while the EBS Standard volume storage and I/O operations saw a price cut up to 50 percent.
In the future, both companies will continue to roll out enhanced features with more competitive pricing, so consumers and business users have more flexibility in choosing a service. Google, IBM, Rackspace, and other established cloud vendors also have cut prices to undercut competitors and force additional sales and marketing efforts from rivals.
IBM recently announced the newest generation of its X-Architecture for System x and PureSystems, as the company continues to focus on business clients. As more companies embrace cloud computing and big data analytics, there is a need for a modern architecture that is scalable to support changing business needs. Of note, the IBM X6 provides three times more scalable memory than rival X86-based systems, with up to 12.8 terabytes of flash memory support.
"Our enterprise X-Architecture for x86-based servers and solutions delivers high performance and the highest customer satisfaction in the industry, making us number one in hig-end x86 systems," said Adalio Sanchez, IBM x86 general manager, in a statement. "We continue to innovate and deliver leadership performance, reliability and investment protection for mission-critical workloads with X6."
IBM remains an industry leader in enterprise technologies, though tends to not grab the same amount of media attention as rivals.
According to John Dinsdale, an analyst at market research Synergy, Amazon "dwarfs all competition" when it comes to cloud computing. Considering the total cloud computing market pulled in a total revenue of $2.5 billion in Q3 alone, this is a big market.
Amazon took most of this revenue, growing its own cloud revenues by 55%, as well as increasing its overall market share. The problem is, Amazon doesn't report just how much money it makes in the cloud, as it throws its cloud-based revenue into the "other revenue" category. It's estimated that Amazon will generate over $3 billion from its cloud business this year.
This hasn't stopped Synergy from pushing out estimates that Amazon had cloud revenues of around $700 million, making Amazon's cloud business more profitable than that of Microsoft, IBM, Google and Salesforce.com... combined, by 15%.
Sony is doing wonders behind the cloud, thanks to its acquisition of cloud gaming service Gaikai last year. But what is Microsoft doing? Well, according to 'sources familiar with a meeting' who revealed to The Verge, it has shown off Halo 4 running on a Windows Phone and PC, both streaming the first-person shooter from the cloud.
It's currently just a concept project, but reportedly ran smoothly on both devices, with the Redmond-based giant getting the latency on a Lumia 520 down to just 45ms. The demonstration at Microsoft had a Windows Phone with an Xbox controller attached through an accessory, and a low-end hybrid PC. The company doesn't have a name for its cloud-based service just yet, but it should be quite the announcement when Microsoft decides to out the service.
We could see Microsoft pushing out backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games to the X box One, with Microsoft's Senior Director of Xbox, Albert Penello, saying: "it could be more complicated things like rendering full games like a Gaikai and delivering it to the box."
Microsoft's cloud service, SkyDrive Pro, has seen an increase of its base 7GB storage to a better-competing 25GB. Administrators can even increase this to 100GB, if they're willing to shell out the coin for it.
Microsoft is even offering incentives if you use that extra space, where the Redmond-based software giant now offers a larger 2GB file cap, automatic versioning for new users and a new client view that displays all shared documents. The new storage should be hitting users right now, so if you're a SkyDrive Pro user, check your account!
Russian search giant Yandex announced today that it would be expanding its Google Drive-like cloud storage service to include more storage based on a new pricing structure. 20GB of space is currently free and users can now buy an additional 10GB for just $1 per month, or $10 per year. 100GB will cost you $5 per month or just $50 per year, and those who need a lot of cloud storage can purchase 1TB for $30 per month or $300 per year.
The company says that even though this cloud service is based in Russia, Yandex.Disk is available internationally and already has apps for Windows, Mac, Android, Windows Phone, and a browser-based UI. Yandex has also reported that the service has over 12 million unique users per month, with the majority of the traffic coming from within Russia and about 7 percent from the rest of the world.
Lenovo enters the cloud storage market with new Reach service, will officially launch 'later this year'
Lenovo has announced their intentions to enter into the cloud storage market. Their new service is called Reach and will feature a beta starting June 22. Consumers can preview the service, though only a few select testers will gain access to the beta.
The official launch will come "later this year", with the exact date depending on how smoothly the initial beta goes. Lenovo could have some trouble gaining market share as there are already a plethora of free cloud storage offerings. Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, and others offer centralized storage for free, with more space available for an up-charge.
With new software offerings like BitTorrent Sync, Lenovo could face even more difficulty obtaining users as some only use Dropbox for its syncing functionality. Sync has easily replaced Dropbox for my needs.
We'll have more on Lenovo Reach when an official announcement is made.