Yearly Archives: 2013

Microsoft unveils Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, SQL Server 2014

Posted on December 31, 2013 at 8:47 pm

New Orleans: Microsoft has announced updates across a broad range of its enterprise products and services aimed at helping IT departments move forward and with cloud computing and the new era of mobile devices.

At its TechEd 2013 conference, Microsoft announced Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, SQL Server 2014 and updates to Windows Intune all coming later this year. The firm also showed off some of the changes coming in the updated Windows 8.1 platform.

Microsoft’s theme for the event was that the Windows platform and services around it continue to be best placed to meet the needs of enterprise customers, even as those customers look to embrace cloud computing and the brave new world of mobility.

“Microsoft’s vision of the cloud is the cloud OS,” said Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools division. “We have promise to empower IT , enable modern business apps, unlock insights into data, and to transform the datacentre.”

In addition, there was the familiar refrain that Microsoft’s platforms are better together. System Center and Windows Server are more effective when combined, Azure is the best cloud platform for a Windows-based hybrid cloud strategy, and Windows Intune enables customers to extend System Center’s reach out to mobile devices.

The upcoming releases are all “Significant updates to the versions we released last year,” Anderson claimed.

For example, Windows Server 2012 R2 now supports automated storage tiering using SSD and spinning disks in its Storage Spaces disk pooling feature, delivering a claimed 16x performance boost.

When used with System Center 2012 R2, customers can also live migrate virtual machines between different versions of Windows Server, with support for compression and deduplication speeding the process, according to Microsoft.

Windows Server 2012 R2 also includes a new feature called Workplace Join to help address the bring-your-own-device trend. This enables users to use a device of their choosing to connect to corporate resources, while allowing IT to apply policies to control how it is used.

SQL Server 2014 now enables in-memory analytics capabilities, delivering more powerful transaction processing in real-time, according to Microsoft.

For Windows 8.1, Microsoft confirmed that the new platform will enable users of legacy applications to boot straight to the desktop environment, as well as user interface changes, support for wireless printing and wireless display streaming.

“With Windows 8.1, we are continuing our vision to make sure Windows 8 tablets are best business tablets, as well as delivering a better experience for users on devices such as laptops,” said Erwin Visser, senior director for Microsoft’s Windows Division.

Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014 will be available in preview later this month, Microsoft said. The first two are set to ship by the end of the year, with SQL Server 2014 following early next year.


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Apple radio rumours pick up as Warner pegged for partnership

Posted on December 29, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Apple is reportedly securing a deal which would bring a major contributor to its upcoming streaming music service.

The Wall Street Journal cited sources familiar with the matter in reporting that the company has inked a deal with Warner Music to bring the label’s content to a “radio” channel streaming service from Apple. The deal reportedly includes an agreement to pay Warner 10 percent of the service’s advertising revenues.

The rate could help lure labels towards iTunes and away from would-be rival Pandora, which is said to pay labels a smaller percentage of ad revenues.

If true, the report would lend further credibility to the belief that Apple would soon be launching its streaming music service. The company has been said to be planning a service for years, though no official word has come from Apple.

Speculation on the streaming service launch picked up earlier this year when researchers uncovered hidden code in the latest test versions of iOS. The unused components referenced versions of a streaming service from Apple.

Should Apple decide to launch its service this year, the unveiling could come as soon as next week when the company holds its annual World Wide Developer Conference. The presentation is believed to include updates on the latest versions of both OS X and iOS.

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Microsoft: Azure is the enterprise hybrid cloud platform of choice

Posted on December 27, 2013 at 1:11 pm

New Orleans: Microsoft is making the case for enterprises customers to use its Azure platform for cloud computing, and as an incentive is updating its pricing with no charges for inactive virtual machines and per-minute pricing.

At its TechEd conference, Microsoft pushed hard the promise of consistency across its Windows server and Azure cloud platforms, making the case that it makes more sense for organisations to use this combination when extending their infrastructure out to the cloud.

“Organisations should demand the ability to move virtual machines and workloads across boundaries on demand and without friction,” said Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools division.

“Azure is based on the same Windows Server 2012 platform as your datacentre, with the same management tools, the same consistency across data, so you can just move things around as you wish,” he added.

From today, Microsoft said it will no longer charge for halted virtual machines, allowing saving customers to save money workloads that are not actively being used. The firm is also moving to per-minute billing rather than per-hour.

Perhaps of more interest to Microsoft customers is the ability for Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers to now use any server licenses they have to run on Azure instead of a physical machine.

MSDN subscribers will also qualify for special rates on Azure workloads, which could see up to a 97 percent discount on products such as SQL Server Enterprise edition, and monthly credits that can be used on any Azure resources.

Meanwhile, Microsoft said it was taking the know-how it has gained from operating Azure and rolling this back into its on-premise products.

One example is the Windows Azure Pack, which delivers cloud-like orchestration and scalability across infrastructure based on Windows Server and System Center.

“You can effectively download and install in your private cloud environment a bunch of the features previously only available in Windows Azure,” said Anderson.

Despite claims from other cloud platforms that customers do not want to be tied to a single provider, Anderson touted Microsoft’s credential as the cloud provider of choice because of the sheer scale and reach of its platform.

“You’re looking for a partner can give you reach around the globe. We are deploying hundreds of thousands of new servers per year. We can guarantee SLAs. We give you the flexibility to deploy to the cloud and to bring workloads back in your datacentre if required. As of this week, we have datacentre capacity in China. That gives you support to address that market,” he said.

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Top 10 most read: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs S3 review, O2 ends free BT WiFi deal, Microsoft attacks Google

Posted on December 25, 2013 at 9:51 am

With the S4 now in the market for the past a month or so, there’s no doubt numerous owners of the former flagship S3 are wondering if it’s worth their time and money upgrading.

This was why our head-to-head review of the two devices was the most popular content of the past week, as we put the two phones through their paces. The S4 won, as you’d expect, but the S3 still remains a high-end device.

Elsewhere the ongoing war of words between Google and Microsoft over customer wins, and losses, took another turn when Redmond took advantage of the raft of negative comments on our story about Pearson embracing Google services.

Mobile users with O2 received a bit of bad news this week when the company confirmed its deal to access 4,000 or so BT Openzone hotspots was coming to an end, although O2’s own WiFi network, in locations such as McDonalds, is growing all the time.

Elsewhere, our hands-on picture blog of HP’s Moonshot technology also gave V3 readers a chance to see the low-power server technology up close and personal, as the firm used the DataCentres Europe 2013 conference as a chance to tout the technology.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S3 head-to-head review
We find out if Samsung’s latest iPhone competitor is really worth the extra money




Microsoft sticks the boot in over Google App services use at Pearson
Redmond cites unhappy users as evidence that Google is out of its depth in the enterprise market




Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 review
Tablet struggles to impress with its cheap build and high price tag




O2 ends free WiFi deal with BT
Customers lose access to thousands of hotspots





Microsoft brings anti-botnet fight to the cloud with Azure level-up
Firm looks to make businesses more agile in anti-hacker battle




Microsoft details Windows 8.1 will come with IE11
Windows 8 refresh will be available as a preview from 26 June





Workday CEO to SAP and Oracle: cloud market is passing you by
Aneel Bhusri is in fighting mood as cloud war of words continues




Google gives firms only seven days to come clean on zero-day vulnerabilities
Web firm will support researchers reporting unannounced exploits after a week




HP Moonshot low-power server technology in pictures
V3 gets up close and personal with HP’s low-power server kit





Mobile malware attacks will spread through sensors in handsets
Study describes infections that prey on hardware components

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Government touts £10bn savings as IT spending streamlined

Posted on December 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm

The government has saved £10bn in public spending through a series of financial cutbacks including a drastic overhaul of its use of IT.

The figure is a £2bn improvement on the £8bn Whitehall was hoping to save for the financial year just ended. Cabinet office minister Francis Maude said the savings underlined the success of the government’s efficiency drives including IT spending.

“For years the governments had fritted away billions on disastrous IT projects,” he said at an event in Whitehall attended by V3. “So we set about scrutinising how every pound was spent and negotiating better deals with better suppliers.”

As well as this Maude touted new IT initiatives such as the Gov.UK website as evidence of where efficiency savings were being made, claiming the new site had already saved £42m by consolidating all government sites into a single portal.

“This has enabled users to have one place for government information. This is just the start of something more transformative,” he said. “Our digital by default strategy will make it easier for users to access government services online and we estimate this could save £1.7bn a year.”

Government chief operating officer Stephen Kelly added that the Gov.UK website was now receiving over one million hits a day, while other initiatives such as the G-Cloud were also pushing improvements.

“The government cloud opens up tremendous potential for contracts to be concluded swiftly as well as working with small and medium enterprises,” he said.

In total the government estimates some £1.1bn has been saved through IT improvements and property rental and ownership reductions.

The £10bn figure represents 7.42 percent of central government spending per year of £138bn, from an entire budget, of both local and central authorities, of £695bn. The figure is also currently unaudited and so could be subject to change in the future.

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Government admits G-Cloud service is ‘underused’

Posted on December 21, 2013 at 11:55 am

The government has admitted that its cloud computing service G-Cloud is currently “underused” by public sector authorities.

The service is designed to allow the public sector to meet IT requirements by taking advantage of tools hosted in the cloud and reducing the complexity in procuring services. It is also designed to help SMEs sell to the government more easily.

However, cabinet officer minister Francis Maude said although some departments are benefiting from the G-Cloud, more need to be made aware of its use.

“It’s underused so far. There’s huge potential and those parts of the public sector that have use the CloudStore have shown very substantial savings and the ability to get stuff done very quickly,” he said.

The latest figure, from March, said that just £18m has been spent on the G-Cloud, although this is now out of date. The service celebrated its one-year anniversary earlier this year but analysts said it has struggled to gain much traction. It is still growing as 368 more firms were added to the roster of services earlier this year.

However, Maude said the G-Cloud was part of the ongoing push within the government to improve contracts in order to break the old dominance of the major IT suppliers and let smaller, younger companies into the government IT supplier arena.

“We were in a bad cycle and we ran procurements that were very complex and ran very slowly. This meant, in the world of IT, we were buying things that were obsolete by time they arrived and by the end of the contract they were ancient,” he said.

“By breaking that up you get more visibility, more transparency to see what we’re paying, and we can allow newer, smaller, more innovative and more dynamic suppliers to break into the market.”

Maude made the comments at an event on Monday announcing government savings of £10bn in the last financial year. IT savings made up a bulk of this, thanks to services like Gov.UK and a more ruthless attitude to contracts with large companies.

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Top 10 data centre insights: From cardboard boxes to HP Moonshot

Posted on December 19, 2013 at 10:30 am

Data centres may not seem like a sexy topic but they’re the 21st-century equivalent of the mines, mills and factories that powered the economic growth of the world over the last 500 years.

In Nice this week, over 1,000 delegates gathered to discuss the latest issues in the sector and celebrate its successes at the DataCentres Europe conference – and V3 was on hand to cover everything from discussions on the best locations for data centres to the costs of running ever-growing sites.

Attending various panel sessions and keynote speeches, we also heard some interesting, quirky and strange facts and thoughts on the world of data centres, and here’s our pick of the bunch.

10. The data centre market is rosy (for banks at least)

Given the huge growth of data being stored in the cloud, and therefore in data centres, the market is one that the banking sector is looking on with pound signs in its eyes.

Barclays head of telecoms, Sean Duffy, said lending to data centres is the largest part of the tech team’s balance sheet.

He said any firm operating in this space should have confidence that new funding will be available if needed, given the clear long-term drivers that will keep the data centre market buoyant.

This view was backed up by data centre consulting firm BroadGroup, which said it sees the growth of the market at between 12 to 15 percent in the coming year, driven by the demand for cloud services.

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IBM pitches analytics for human resource management

Posted on December 17, 2013 at 8:01 am

IBM has updated its Business Analytics lines with aims on changing the way companies handle employee feedback and evaluation.

The company said that its workforce analytics platform will be adding new services which will allow companies to better spot potential employee issues and provide management with a better picture of how employees see their company and its issues.

Among the new additions will be an update to Retention Analytics. The service will allow firms to compare unstructured data on employee patterns and behaviours to help firms better spot possible human resources issues ahead of time.

Murray Campbell, senior manager of business analytics for IBM research, told V3 that the service will pooint out pssible ‘hot spots’ where behaviour patterns can suggest employees will soon be on the move. By spotting issues such as rapid turnover in management or discrepancies in compensation which could be remediated before a staff exodus takes place.

“It gives them the chance to proactively respond,” Campbell explained.

“The capability that we are talking about here is predictive, it forecasts what might go on in the future versus what has already happened.”

IBM is also planning to bring its big data analytics capabilities in to the employee survey space. Designed to better manage long-form response questions, the Survey Analytics service will provide companies with a visual representation of what employees see as the key issues and terms facing their company.

By providing data organised both regionally or mapped out by company branch or level, the service seeks to enable intelligence into how employees truly see their company forming and move beyond the “check-box” performance survey format.

IBM said that it will be making the platforms available as both on-premise and service offerings, though long-term plans are to offer the platform as an on-demand cloud service.

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Google puts privacy at top of data centre location choice

Posted on December 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm

NICE: Google places customer data security as its number one criteria when selecting data centre sites to try and avoid the prying eyes of governments.

Many large technology firms, such as Google, Facebook and Apple, are rapidly growing their data centre locations to take advantage of benefits such as cool climates, access to power, and connectivity to major web hubs as user demand for their services rockets.

However, speaking at the DataCentres Europe conference on Thursday, Google programme manager for global infrastructure, Peter Jones, explained that privacy is still the overriding factor as the firm is wary of any regions where it cannot guarantee data control.

“The primary consideration is information privacy and security. Since we’re dealing with customers’ data this is a make or break criteria,” he said. “Beyond that you have issues such as corruption and importing equipment as you go further down the list [of site criteria] but how we keep data secure is the headline issue.”

Issues of data privacy are not simple, though, as Jones acknowledged, with policies differing across regions and nations, such as in the European Union.

This could change in the future, though, as the Data Protection Regulation makes its way into law. Ed Cooke, head of international data centre advisory at law firm Bird and Bird, said this could make it easier for firms like Google to operate across Europe.

“At the moment there are many variations across Europe but hopefully the new regulation will give a more consistent law implemented across the region,” he said.

The issue of data centre site selection was raised on Wednesday at the event with one UK data centre owner arguing the creation of a hub within London for data centres is bad for businesses as it puts their data at risk.

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Google introduces tabs to Gmail for desktop, Android and iPhone users

Posted on December 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Google has updated its Gmail inbox for desktop and mobile, introducing tabs to help users sort and prioritise emails.

For desktop users, the inbox will group mail into categories and these will appear as different tabs. Users will be able to choose the categories they want, allowing them to ignore promotion emails easily and concentrate on messages from their key contacts.

Google product manager Itamar Gilad said in a company blog post: “Your inbox is organised in a way that lets you see what’s new at a glance and decide which emails you want to read when. You can easily customise the new inbox, select the tabs you want from all five to none, drag-and-drop to move messages between tabs, set certain senders to always appear in a particular tab and star messages so that they also appear in the Primary tab.”

For mobile users of the Gmail for Android 4.0+ and Gmail for iPhone and iPad apps, they will see their Primary mail category when they open the app. Google has said they will then be able to easily navigate to other tabs.

Google plans to roll out the new inbox gradually to desktop, Android and iOS users in the next few weeks. If users do not like the updated inbox, they can switch off the tabs in the settings menu.

The updates to Gmail follow similar updates made by Yahoo in April to its mail service, helping users more easily manage their increasing number of daily emails. 

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