Cloud computing

The GNU GPL Is An Enforceable Contract At Last

It would be difficult to imagine the technological enhancements to the world we live in today without open-source software. You will find it somewhere in most of your consumer electronics, in the unseen data centres of the cloud, in machines, gadgets, and tools, in fact almost anywhere a microcomputer is used in a product. The willingness of software developers to share their work freely under licences that guarantee its continued free propagation has been as large a contributor to the success of our tech economy as any hardware innovation.

Though open-source licences have been with us for decades now, there have been relatively few moments in which they have been truly tested in a court. There have been frequent licence violations in which closed-source products have been found to contain open-source software, but they have more often resulted in out-of-court settlement than lengthy public legal fights. Sometimes the open-source community has gained previously closed-source projects, as their licence violations have involved software whose licence terms included a requirement for a whole project in which it is included to have the same licence. These terms are sometimes referred to as viral clauses by open-source detractors, and the most famous such licence is the GNU GPL, or General Public…

Google launches Cloud Spanner globally distributed relational database service out of beta

Google today announced that Cloud Spanner, the company’s globally distributed relational database service, is now generally available. The company is promising enterprise database features, including ANSI 2011 SQL support, ACID transactions, 99.999 percent availability, and strong consistency — all without compromising latency.

Cloud Spanner first launched in beta just three months ago. The service is an implementation of the Spanner software that Google documented in a 2012 paper and has been using internally for years. Now customers can use the same software that Google uses to power Google Play and AdWords.

Thanks to atomic clocks and GPS receivers across Google’s global network, Cloud Spanner also offers additional accuracy, reliability, and performance in the form of a fully managed cloud database service. Google says Cloud Spanner is already powering mission-critical applications…

How Microsoft wants us all to get creative with Artificial Intelligence

How Microsoft wants us all to get creative with Artificial Intelligence

It is hardly surprising that Artificial Intelligence was a major focus of Microsoft’s Build 2017 conference. In fact, given the rapid advancements in all areas of AI technology and the raging debates about if – or rather, when – robots will take over our jobs, it would be surprising if one of the world’s biggest technology companies weren’t thinking about these problems in a big way.

When Harry Shum – Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s AI and Research group – took to the main stage on Monday, he talked about how soon it will be almost impossible to imagine a technology that doesn’t tap into the power of AI in one way or another. What made this possible, he continued, was the convergence of three forces – increased cloud computing power, algorithms running off deep neural networks, and access to massive datasets. This means that AI does indeed have the potential to disturb every single industry and process out there.

But while the disruption does seem inevitable, companies like Microsoft are betting they can make it a positive one, talking about the possibilities it brings to amplify human ingenuity, augmenting people’s capabilities and helping them to be more productive.

“I’m really glad we’re having all these conversations about the disruptive power of AI, and it’s a good thing that we’re being so thoughtful about the ways in which we’re designing these systems, because it’s crucial that they are designed for people, to help them do their jobs better,” says Lili Cheng distinguished engineer, general manager FUSE labs.

Microsoft has been creating building blocks for the current wave of AI breakthroughs for more than two decades, and now it wants to leverage that accumulated research with the massive amounts of data available to them through the Microsoft Graph portfolio of products and Azure’s computing power, moving towards its vision of the “Intelligent Cloud”.

“One of the things we’ve done with our bot framework and the cognitive services is that we componentized things so that they can…

What to consider when parsing through your Parse alternatives

What to consider when parsing through your Parse alternatives

At the conclusion of January, Facebook had officially shuttered Parse, disabling the API on an app by app basis.

As a Backend as a Service (BaaS) product, the development platform provided SDKs and APIs that allowed developers to quickly build their apps without having to build a backend from scratch. Facebook did’t present much insight into the motivation to shut down the platform. But Parse’s customers, following the 2013 acquisition, comprised heavily of small to medium sized developers that had a lower propensity to spend.

While Facebook was burdened with having to answer to post-IPO investor concerns about desktop growth plateauing and uncertain mobile revenue, the Parse acquisition was a quick fix, helping secure Facebook’s grasp on widespread mobile adoption.

Despite Parse being the backend backbone for 60,000+ apps at the time of the acquisition, Parse, like many low-cost BaaS solutions, had limitations for businesses and developers who wanted to scale their app. Amazon, Microsoft and Google, who acquired Firebase afterwards, all followed Facebook’s suit, but aggressively doubled down on maximizing the assets in their developer platforms, while Facebook stood pat with Parse after accomplishing what they needed to do to establish their mobile adoption.

Realizing the peak of “mBaas”

The resulting shutdown of Parse should be viewed as a wakeup call to developers that a BaaS solution alone cannot be a long-term choice for sustainable digital, mobile and progressive web businesses.

The 2016 announcement of the shutdown gave developers time to find alternative solutions to migrate their applications. While a BaaS solution facilitates a quick time to market, API-centric development, and innovation, the drawbacks have become more evident.

  • Business data is more likely to be exposed on a cloud-based shared database. Customers starting to value data privacy more will be turned off by a solution that can be exposed with the vulnerabilities of a shared database.
  • As a business grows, extending the backend will be difficult because of the limitations BaaS offers for individual solutions. This will become a concern if your business needs to extend the…

What’s New in Windows 10’s Fall Creators Update, Arriving September 2017

Windows 10’s Fall Creators Update, codenamed Redstone 3, will be released in September 2017. Here are all the new features Microsoft announced at its BUILD 2017 event on May 11.

There will be many more new features and small changes that make Windows better to use, just as there were in previous updates. We’ll learn about those through the Insider Previews released between now and September, so check back with this post for more useful, smaller, geeky features.

OneDrive Shows Files in the Cloud, Downloading Them on Demand

Microsoft announced “OneDrive Files on Demand”, which allows some files to be stored in the cloud and available to you without being synced on your local device. An older version of this feature appeared in Windows 8.1, and people have been asking for it since. Dropbox and Google Drive are incorporating a similar feature, too.

Interestingly enough, this works with files in the Desktop and Documents folder, so it isn’t just limited to files in the OneDrive folder.

When you try to open a file that isn’t stored on your PC, Windows will download it and open it for you. This is implemented at a low level in the operating system and works with any application, even command line ones.

Windows Syncs Your Clipboard Between Your PCs and Phones

There’s now a cloud-based clipboard that allows you to copy and paste data between your devices. This will work in Windows without developers having to do anything. Copy something on one of your Windows PCs, and it’ll be available on the clipboard on your other Windows PCs. It’ll also work with Microsoft’s SwiftKey keyboard on iPhone and Android.

The Microsoft Office team is working on a clipboard history feature, allowing you to paste things you’ve copied to your clipboard in the past. That’s just one example of what app developers could do with this feature, and Microsoft hopes other app developers take further advantage of it.

Microsoft Graph Tracks Your Activities, and the Timeline Helps You Resume Them Anywhere

According to Microsoft, “the Windows PC will help you roam from device to device using the Microsoft Graph”. Windows knows whether you were working on a document, playing music, browsing the web, reading news, or watching a video through the Microsoft Graph. There’s a new Timeline feature that shows the activities you perform on your PC over time, and it’s searchable.

Cortana’s “Pick up where you left off” feature suggests activities you might want to resume when you switch to another PC.

This feature works iPhones and Android phones, too. If you install the Cortana app, Cortana will prompt you to pick up where you left off on your phone when you leave your PC. Cortana is aware of your timeline, so you can choose to resume activities you were working on. Perform an activity on your phone and it will appear in the timeline on your PC later, too.

To make this easier to set up, there’s a new “Phone” icon on the main Settings app screen that will guide users through setting this up. This will also enable syncing notifications with Android devices and syncing reminders to iPhones and…

Microsoft announces new Azure mobile applications for Android and iOS

Microsoft announces new Azure mobile applications for Android and iOS

Today, on stage at Microsoft’s Build Conference in Seattle, Principal Program Manager Scott Hanselman, announced a couple of major updates for Microsoft’s cloud computing platform.

The biggest is a brand new management application for Android and iOS, which promises to allow sysadmins to manage their systems from…

Adobe brings AI-powered Virtual Analyst to Analytics Cloud

Adobe will today announce the introduction of Virtual Analyst, powered by its Sensei AI.

The analyst runs 24/7 in the background to monitor data and detect and find the root cause of anomalies in online activity. This replaces the painstaking process of an engineer or data team manually searching analytics reports for insights, which can diminish in value over time.

“Insights we do believe have a shelf life and to have a system be automated and can handle these on its own is really key, I think,” Adobe marketing manager Nate Smith told VentureBeat in a phone interview.

Sensei was first introduced last fall as an artificial intelligence service trained by massive amounts of data gathered from Adobe Creative, Marketing, and Analytics cloud software.

Sensei can do things like auto-caption images, deliver data insights, or talk people through how to use Adobe software. Adobe ultimately wants the AI to also train novice creatives how to…

Roundup Of Cloud Computing Forecasts, 2017

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The City Of Atlanta Will Now Pick Up Its Trash Using An App From Tech Startup Rubicon Global

Cloud platforms are enabling new, complex business models and orchestrating more globally-based integration networks in 2017 than many analyst and advisory firms predicted. Combined with Cloud Services adoption increasing in the mid-tier and small & medium businesses (SMB), leading researchers including Forrester are adjusting their forecasts upward. The best check of any forecast is revenue. Amazon’s latest quarterly results released two days ago show Amazon Web Services (AWS) attained 43% year-over-year growth, contributing 10% of consolidated revenue and 89% of consolidated operating income.

Additional key takeaways from the roundup include the following:

  • Wikibon is predicting enterprise cloud spending is growing at a 16% compound annual growth (CAGR) run rate between 2016 and 2026. The research firm also predicts that by 2022, Amazon Web Services (AWS) will reach $43B in revenue, and be 8.2% of all cloud spending. Source: Wikibon report preview: How big can Amazon Web Services get?
Wikibon Worldwide Enterprise IT Projection By Vendor Revenue
https://siliconangle.com/blog/2017/02/20/wikibon-report-preview-big-can-amazon-web-services-get/

Wikibon Worldwide Enterprise IT Projection By Vendor Revenue

Rapid Growth of Cloud Computing, 2015–2020
http://www.salesforce.com/assets/pdf/misc/IDC-salesforce-economy-study-2016.pdf

Rapid Growth of Cloud Computing, 2015–2020

Worldwide Public Cloud Services Forecast (Millions of Dollars)
Gartner Says Worldwide Public Cloud Services Market to Grow 18 Percent in 2017

Worldwide Public Cloud Services Forecast (Millions of Dollars)

  • By the end of 2018, spending on IT-as-a-Service for data centers, software and services will be $547B. Deloitte Global predicts that procurement of IT technologies will accelerate in the next 2.5 years from $361B to $547B. At this pace, IT-as-a-Service will represent more than half of IT spending by the 2021/2022 timeframe. Source: Deloitte Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions, 2017 (PDF, 80 pp., no opt-in).
Deloitte IT-as-a-Service Forecast
https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Technology-Media-Telecommunications/gx-deloitte-2017-tmt-predictions.pdf

Deloitte IT-as-a-Service Forecast

  • Total spending on IT infrastructure products (server, enterprise storage, and Ethernet switches) for deployment in cloud environments will increase 15.3% year over year in 2017 to $41.7B. IDC predicts that public cloud data centers will account for the majority of this spending ( 60.5%) while off-premises private cloud environments will represent 14.9% of spending. On-premises private clouds will account for 62.3% of spending on private cloud IT infrastructure and will grow 13.1% year over year in 2017. Source: Spending on IT Infrastructure for Public Cloud Deployments Will Return to Double-Digit Growth in 2017, According to IDC.
Worldwide Cloud IT Infrastructure Market Forecast
Worldwide Cloud IT Infrastructure Market Forecast

http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS42454117

Worldwide Cloud IT Infrastructure Market Forecast

  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) adoption is predicted to be the fastest-growing sector of cloud platforms according to KPMG, growing from 32% in 2017 to 56% adoption in 2020. Results from the 2016 Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey indicate that cloud adoption is now mainstream and accelerating as enterprises shift data-intensive operations to the cloud. Source: Journey to the Cloud, The Creative CIO Agenda, KPMG (PDF, no opt-in, 14 pp.)

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing

Streaming content from your Plex Media Server is great, but sometimes—like when you’re going to be offline or stuck with cruddy internet speeds while traveling—there’s no substitution for having a copy of the media stored on your device instead of in the cloud. Fortunately, it’s easy to grab your media and go.

Downloading, Syncing, and the Premium Difference

With Plex, there are two ways to approach this issue, dependent on whether you’re a free Plex user or a Plex Premium user. Both free and premium users can download content from their Plex Media Servers, but this download functionality is 1) manual action only; 2) simply downloads a copy of the media to the computer or mobile device you are using; and 3) does not automatically transcode your media (to make it smaller and more mobile-storage friendly).

The upside to this technique is that you get a copy of the media to do whatever you want with (like give to a friend) and that copy is in the original quality. The downside is that it does not automatically sync, you have to manually transcode if you want smaller file sizes, and you have to load the media in a third-party player (e.g. if you download a movie to your iPhone using the manual download method, the movie won’t load in the Plex app but it will load in any media player on your iPhone capable of playing it).

The other method, available only to Plex Pass premium subscribers, is the sync method. While the download method might be great for a one-off download (like grabbing a movie or two to copy to your laptop before you head to the airport), the syncing method is vastly superior for consistent use (like keeping the most recent episodes of your favorite TV show synced to your phone and ready for viewing on the commuter train). The upside to the syncing method is that it is fully automated and highly customizable, thanks to flexible syncing rules. You can sync files from your Plex Server to any Plex app that is registered to your Plex account, including Plex for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows desktop.

Let’s take a look at how to download and sync content, respectively, using a season of the TV show Archer as our sample media.

How to Download Content from Your Plex Media Server (Free or Premium)

To download a couple one-off videos from your Plex Media Server, you simply need to be logged into your Plex account and access the web interface. You can do this either while your’e at home or while you’re away from home, as long as you have a good internet connection. The only real restriction on downloading is that you must be the owner of the Plex Media Server—this means you can download everything from your own server, but you can’t download content from a server someone has shared with you, nor can they download from a server you share with them.

From that web interface, it’s super simple to download content. First, navigate to the media you’re interested in. We’re interested in grabbing a few episodes from Season 1 of Archer to watch away from home, so we’ll head there now. Here in the Season 1 entry, we need to select Episode 1 and then click on the “…” menu icon, as seen below.

In the context menu, click “Download”.

The file will be downloaded, in it’s full original file size and resolution, to you computer or mobile device. Additionally, you can also click on the full detailed entry for any media item (individual TV episodes, movies, songs in your music library, etc.) and click on the “…” menu in the left side navigation bar to also select “Download”. You cannot download entire seasons of TV shows at one time and will need to repeat this process for every episode you wish…

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing

Streaming content from your Plex Media Server is great, but sometimes—like when you’re going to be offline or stuck with cruddy internet speeds while traveling—there’s no substitution for having a copy of the media stored on your device instead of in the cloud. Fortunately, it’s easy to grab your media and go.

Downloading, Syncing, and the Premium Difference

With Plex, there are two ways to approach this issue, dependent on whether you’re a free Plex user or a Plex Premium user. Both free and premium users can download content from their Plex Media Servers, but this download functionality is 1) manual action only; 2) simply downloads a copy of the media to the computer or mobile device you are using; and 3) does not automatically transcode your media (to make it smaller and more mobile-storage friendly).

The upside to this technique is that you get a copy of the media to do whatever you want with (like give to a friend) and that copy is in the original quality. The downside is that it does not automatically sync, you have to manually transcode if you want smaller file sizes, and you have to load the media in a third-party player (e.g. if you download a movie to your iPhone using the manual download method, the movie won’t load in the Plex app but it will load in any media player on your iPhone capable of playing it).

The other method, available only to Plex Pass premium subscribers, is the sync method. While the download method might be great for a one-off download (like grabbing a movie or two to copy to your laptop before you head to the airport), the syncing method is vastly superior for consistent use (like keeping the most recent episodes of your favorite TV show synced to your phone and ready for viewing on the commuter train). The upside to the syncing method is that it is fully automated and highly customizable, thanks to flexible syncing rules. You can sync files from your Plex Server to any Plex app that is registered to your Plex account, including Plex for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows desktop.

Let’s take a look at how to download and sync content, respectively, using a season of the TV show Archer as our sample media.

How to Download Content from Your Plex Media Server (Free or Premium)

To download a couple one-off videos from your Plex Media Server, you simply need to be logged into your Plex account and access the web interface. You can do this either while your’e at home or while you’re away from home, as long as you have a good internet connection. The only real restriction on downloading is that you must be the owner of the Plex Media Server—this means you can download everything from your own server, but you can’t download content from a server someone has shared with you, nor can they download from a server you share with them.

From that web interface, it’s super simple to download content. First, navigate to the media you’re interested in. We’re interested in grabbing a few episodes from Season 1 of Archer to watch away from home, so we’ll head there now. Here in the Season 1 entry, we need to select Episode 1 and then click on the “…” menu icon, as seen below.

In the context menu, click “Download”.

The file will be downloaded, in it’s full original file size and resolution, to you computer or mobile device. Additionally, you can also click on the full detailed entry for any media item (individual TV episodes, movies, songs in your music library, etc.) and click on the “…” menu in the left side navigation bar to also select “Download”. You cannot download entire seasons of TV shows at one time and will need to repeat this process for every episode you wish…