Articles about Cloud Computing

DocuLynx aims to simplify cloud storage decisions

Cloud backup documents

There are a number of reasons why businesses might move data to the cloud. To reduce storage costs, improve accessibility or simply reduce the need for on-site equipment. But how can you be sure that moving data to the cloud is the correct decision?

We looked at how businesses can approach this earlier today. Now archiving specialist DocuLynx is using the Microsoft Worldwide Partnership Conference in Washington to launch a new product aimed at making cloud storage decisions easier.

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Bing also wins at World Cup 2014

Victory Winner Free

Last night, Germany won against Argentina in the World Cup 2014 final. It was a good game, with, dare I say, an expected outcome for those who watched both teams closely during the competition. But, for tech enthusiasts, there is a second winner, and that is Microsoft's Bing.

Through the Windows Phone 8.1 personal assistant, Cortana, Bing predicted the winners in 15 out of the 16 World Cup 2014 games in the knockout stage. It only failed to foresee that The Netherlands would win against Brazil in the fight for third place. This remarkable achievement shows to prove that, contrary to what some might believe, Bing really has what it takes to shine when the pressure is on.

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Could a cloud integrator be your business's best option?

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Three quarters of UK businesses are now officially "in the cloud" in one form or another. The universal, horizontal benefits of agility and utility are undeniable and compelling, but businesses still need to be able to translate these into competitive advantage.

Getting the most from your cloud investment can be a challenge. The fact is that not all clouds are created equal, and depending on your drivers, required outcomes and preferences, some will be a far better fit than others.

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Wilson's Weekend Whine: Snowden is right to be disgusted at UK 'emergency surveillance bill'

angry

When we talk about surveillance online, it is almost always with reference to the NSA and activities in the US. But US citizens are far from being the only web users affected by surveillance. The NSA has long arms, but there are also similar activities going on in plenty of other countries. This week in the UK, the government is pushing through legislation that requires phone and internet companies to store information about customers' communication, and to hand it over to authorities on request. What made this particularly unusual was the fact that this was classed as emergency surveillance legislation with little to no debate and, more importantly, no public consultation whatsoever. Edward Snowden has plenty say on the matter, likening the British government to the NSA.

The legislation covers not only UK-based companies, but also those based in other countries who have gathered data about UK customers. It is in direct opposition to a recent European court ruling that said retention of data was a violation of European law. This in itself would be reason for any surveillance-related laws to be debated, but the government chose instead to use emergency measures -- usually reserved for times of war or disaster -- to push through laws it knows will prove unpopular. As we are now used to hearing, the surveillance is not about recording phone calls, or storing individual emails and text messages, but about retaining the related metadata -- who contacted who, when, for how long, from where, and so on.

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New private cloud allows invite only sharing

Private secure cloud

Cloud storage is an increasingly popular way of storing and sharing data, but when using public services there's always a concern about how safe your information is.

But now a new startup aims to provide controlled sharing of data via an intelligent private cloud network. Sher.ly integrates your existing hard drives into a private, tightly controlled cloud network. Rather than have to send out open links to files or share copies across a public cloud, organizations and individuals can have the security of invite-only, limited-access file-sharing that keeps data on the devices that produced it.

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What don't I understand about Xbox Music?

Xbox Music Widnows 8.1 App

Seventh in a series. I ask because the user experience can't be this bad. Can it?

My "Microsoft All-In" experiment continues, and on Day 10 I must finally gripe about Xbox Music, which experience on Windows Phone 8 is pretty good, while the desktop app really sucks. I've got Pass, which should be as much about music discovery as streaming. I see some of both, but nowhere as much as core competing services, on Nokia Lumia Icon, while Surface Pro 3 disappoints. If I'm missing something, please correct my perception and also assist anyone considering Xbox Music.

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The hidden costs of software licenses

Software agreement

We're all familiar with software licenses. It's the bit you ignore when installing a new program, right? But what's less understood is the difficulty they cause for businesses. New research by IDC sponsored by Flexera looks at the latest trends in software licensing, virtualization and the compliance issues involved.

The report points out that the software license supply chain is one of the most opaque, difficult to understand and complex to manage. As a result, the relationship between application producer and customer has often suffered in the past.

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Simpler IT makes for better business

Easy PC

Complex IT systems arise for many reasons, adding new systems to old ones, expansion through mergers or takeovers, or simply demand for more sophisticated solutions.

But a new study by IDC, sponsored by business software specialist Oracle, concludes that IT complexity leads to lower profits and curbs an organization’s ability to innovate and grow.

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Innocent victims: NSA gathered data about more ordinary web users than targets

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We already knew that the dragnet style of data collection employed by the NSA resulted in a huge level of collateral damage. As revealed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden the agency had been intercepting huge amounts of web traffic -- often with the assistance of web firms -- on an almost unbelievable scale. The NSA has tried to improve its public image by playing the national security card, as well as releasing a "transparency report" but there's no getting away from the fact that countless innocent web users got caught up in the net. But an investigation by the Washington Post reveals the true extent of the impact on the average internet users -- and it's far worse than many thought.

A four-month investigation by the newspaper found that the number of average internet users who had their data intercepted far outweighs the data of targeted individuals. And not just by a bit -- by a factor of nine. Data provided to the Washington Post by Edward Snowden shows that an astonishing 900 percent more innocent users than intended targets fell victim to the NSA's surveillance. (For the purposes of accuracy the exact figures are closer to an 11 to 89 percent split). These are staggering revelations. There has already been very vocal opposition to the NSA's activities but these were essentially "blind" complaints. Without knowing the scale of operations, it was difficult to know just how upset to be. Nine out of ten people who had their data collected were nothing more than collateral damage caught in the extremely wide net cast by the agency.

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Facebook faces official complaint over deceptive newsfeed experiment

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The revelations about Facebook's emotional experiment with users' newsfeeds back in 2012 has seen the social network fighting off a torrent of criticism. Users were upset to learn that the content of their newsfeed may have been manipulated as researchers tried to determine the effects exposure to positive and negative newsfeed content had on users' subsequent output. Now an official complaint has been lodged against the social network by thee Electronic Privacy Information Center. Epic filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission, alleging that "the company purposefully messed with people’s minds".

There are several lines of attack in the complaint, but the main thrust is that Facebook neither obtained permission from the 700,000 affected users, nor informed them about what was happening. Epic also complains that Facebook failed to warn users that their data would be shared with researchers at Cornell University and the University of California. The complaint points out that "at the time of the experiment, Facebook was subject to a consent order with the Federal Trade Commission which required the company to obtain users' affirmative express consent prior to sharing user information with third parties".

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I declare independence from Google

Monopoly-game

Fifth in a series. Two years ago today, I stepped away from Apple, following a boycott later abandoned. My problems were philosophical, regarding the company's aggressive patent litigation that thwarts innovation. This July Fourth I seek freedom from Google, and not for the first time. I don't oppose the search and information giant, nor like fanboy rally for it. I declare independence as a practical exercise; an experiment. Can you -- OK, I -- do without Big G's expansive portfolio of products and services? I want to know.

In many regards, Google is the Internet gatekeeper U.S. trustbusters asserted Microsoft would be, in their late-1990s court case. Big G is unquestionably a monopoly that integrates features and products for competitive gain. In the United States, Google's search share is about 67 percent (3.5 times greater than second-ranked Microsoft), according to ComScore, and as much as 90 percent in some countries. Android's worldwide smartphone share is about 80 percent, according to IDC.

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Cloud sprawl: What is it, and how can you beat it?

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Today's workplace plays host to employees using a variety of cloud services side-by-side with corporate-sanctioned IT. This often results in incongruent information sourcing and storage, typically known as cloud sprawl. Whilst software as a service (SaaS) can boost smarter working and innovation in businesses, information disparity issues need to be addressed to sustain efficient working environments.

As businesses adoption and management of cloud services matures, some are still suffering organizational inefficiencies due to cloud sprawl. At the moment, different software is being selected for different solutions by different departments or even individual members of staff; there is a knowledge gap where businesses aren't fully informed about how cloud technology can respond to business challenges in a different way to on-premise solutions, and so the potential for better information management is not being realized.

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Post-Snowden era will make physical location of data irrelevant

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A new report from research specialist Gartner says that the physical location of data is becoming increasingly irrelevant and that by 2020 a combination of legal, political and logical location will be more important.

Gartner research vice president Carsten Casper says that the number of data residency and data sovereignty discussions has soared in the past 12 months, and that this has stalled technology innovation in many organizations. Originally triggered by the dominance of US providers on the Internet and the Patriot Act, the perceived conflict has since been fueled by revelations of surveillance by the NSA made public by Edward Snowden.

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The future of IT spending is bright(ish)

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Worldwide IT spending is on track to reach $3.7 trillion, an increase of 2.1 percent in 2014, according to new figures released by research specialists Gartner. However, this is down on earlier projections which put this year's growth at 3.2 percent.

The slower growth outlook is down due to a reduction in growth expectations for devices, data center systems and to some extent IT services. The value of the devices market -- which includes PCs, mobile phones, tablets and printers -- is predicted to grow by 1.2 percent over last year. This is partly due to lower prices. As tablet adoption reaches 50 percent in US households, Gartner forecasts sales of high-end tablets dropping as new buyers are attracted by lower priced units.

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HyperCat protocol will make or break the Internet of Things

IOT

The idea of connected devices means far more than wireless webcams and televisions that are connected to the internet. The Internet of Things is a buzzword, but it’s also a real, tangible thing. Consumers and businesses alike are looking to the ways in which connected devices can help to make life easier, more efficient, and more profitable. In many ways, this is Internet 2.0 -- we've had Web 2.0, now the Internet is being taken to the next level -- as the benefits of getting ever more devices not only online, but also communicating with each other, are realized. But just as with the web, the IoT needs protocols to ensure compatibility between devices, and this is what HyperCat hopes to bring about.

A collaboration between dozens of UK technology firms, HyperCat is… well… let's allow it to introduce itself. "HyperCat is a media type for the web allowing servers to list catalogs of resources. It is designed to make discovery of IoT services and assets easier". It's a protocol, a specification, a standard. It's an attempt to define the semantics of the Internet of Things, helping to level the playing field and start everyone off on an even footing. As we saw with the VHS and Betamax battle, and the Blu-ray vs HD-DVD format wars, there are just no winners when there are two or more competing formats. It makes perfect sense to pin down how the IoT should work as early as possible, and this is precisely what HyperCat aims to do.

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