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wellington cloud

Private clouds are hot at the moment. Big companies — the computer industry calls them ‘enterprises’ probably after watching too much Star Trek — want cloud computing.

They get the cloud premise. Cloud computing replaces expensive infrastructure with pay-as-you-go services. Cloud providers charge commodity prices.

Flip IBM in favour of AWS; free up capital and slash costs. That’s the siren song they hear calling.

But public clouds are… well… public. That scares the pants of corporate boards.

It shouldn’t. Public clouds are often far safer than internal IT in almost every department.

And then there’s the need to accommodate existing applications, infrastructure and systems.

Pretty soon, someone floats the idea of a private cloud. Private means higher margins for suppliers. Bang goes commodity pricing.

Moving to a private cloud needs a lot of expensive hand-holding. It means hanging on to existing relationships.

The lesson of the 1990s Business Process Re-engineering movement was that wiping the slate clear and moving on is cheaper and more effective in the long run despite massive disruption.

Businesses will be disrupted anyway as they move to private clouds. Smarter ones are learning to take the pain on the chin and go the whole way to the public cloud.

wellington cloud

IBM made headlines over the weekend when it said it will spend US$1.2 billion to expand its cloud computing business. The plan includes adding 15 new data centres on five continents to the 13 it already has. Eventually there will be 40 data centres.

Last year IBM paid around US$2 billion to buy SoftLayer, a cloud computing business.

There’s no question the aim is playing catch up with Amazon Web Services. Amazon dominates the market. It has almost five times as much capacity as any other cloud provider and earns US$3 billion a year from the cloud.

Amazon’s cloud business is spread around the globe with 40 or so data centres.

IBM has little option but to compete with Amazon.

IBM disrupted

Cloud computing continues to grow at a steady pace. It’s already disrupted the server and enterprise computing markets where IBM plays.

IBM has struggled to stay relevant with its legacy computing business and, until now, had a fragmented and confusing cloud strategy. Revenues have been falling and its hardware business is in sharp decline.

While there’s still a market for companies to own their own computing infrastructure, the big money is now being made from cloud services. Amazon is a pure cloud play, it doesn’t sell hardware.

IBM has pushed private clouds – an idea that combines in-house infrastructure with cloud-like capabilities. Private cloud promises some of the benefits of cloud computing but it requires companies to buy hardware, install it in a data centre, buy software and hire the staff to keep everything ticking over. True cloud computing gets rid of all these costs and complications.

For everyone except the largest organisations – and that means no-one in New Zealand – a true cloud is a less expensive, more flexible and safer option.

These days IBM’s greatest strength is in providing professional services. It has much to offer cloud customers, such as integrating their cloud projects.

Apple iPhone 5S

Apple says the iPhone 5s and 5c go on sale in New Zealand on October 25. Prices are lower than anticipated. The 16GB iPhone 5c will sell here for $900, prices rise to $1050 for the 32GB model. The same money will buy a 16GB iPhone 5s while the top of the line 64GB version will cost $1350. The iPhone 4s will stay on sale at $650.

Meanwhile US sources report Apple will launch new iPad models on October 22.

  • Cloud computing juggernaut Amazon Web Services says it is now offering new services from its Sydney datacentre. Previously Amazon’s Glacier long-term backup and Redshift fast data warehouse services were available from further afield. Amazon says Glacier offers low-cost storage for achieving and cloud back-up, prices start from one cent per gigabyte per month. It describes Redshift as a petabyte-scale data warehouse in the cloud.
  • Samsung has launched a new version of its Galaxy Note smartphone with a curved display. The curve is only gentle, but apparently, it makes the phone more comfortable to grip. Samsung is using the curve as part of the user interface, rocking the device shows an information screen.  Apart from this, it’s hard to see what benefits there are in producing a curved phone beyond the endless search for novelty and differentiation. Don’t be taken in by reports this will lead to wearable computers – a rigid curved screen is a long way from a flexible display.  LG Electronics has also said it will launch a smartphone with a curved screen next month.
  • Reuters reports Cisco, Google, SAP and possibly even Samsung are in talks with BlackBerry about buying parts or all the ailing phone maker. The report says this would be an alternative to the preliminary agreement reached with a group led by BlackBerry’s main shareholder; Fairfax Financial Holdings. There’s a question mark over the group’s ability to finance its bid.