Unfortunately, there’s a lot of content that can’t be cached, and when websites need to utilize that it can be problematic for performance and user experience. CloudFlare, a provider of cloud-based services to help secure and accelerate websites, is looking to alleviate this problem for its users by “caching the uncacheable” through a new Web optimization software called Railgun.
CloudFlare users are already at an advantage, because the service will not only cache content, but also deliver it to users from its various datacenters around the world. However, according to the company’s blog, “only about 66% of content is cacheable,” meaning the remaining 34 percent has to be recovered from the server of origin. That is why the company developed Railgun, which can cache dynamically generated and/or personalized Web pages using a scheme that reduces bandwidth and speeds up the loading process.
Railgun starts the acceleration process for non-cached pages by speeding up the downloading of the initial HTML, which must happen before the rest of a page can even begin downloading.
Primarily, though, Railgun is able to send Web pages across the ‘Net much more quickly because it will compress them to an astonishingly smaller version, which it’s able to do by looking at changes on a page “from download to download.” It will reduce the pages to just 0.65 percent of their original size to ensure that they travel faster from the origin server to the user’s screen, no matter where they are.
This new service is currently only available for CloudFlare Business and Enterprise customers as a part of their service packages.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) wanted to give its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) users a present, and what better way to celebrate the holidays than with family – a new instance family, that is.
The cloud computing services provider from Amazon recently announced High Storage instances for EC2. This additional instance family is optimized for applications that required rapid access to large amounts of data, while also providing AWS customers with 35 EC2 Compute Units of computing capacity, 117 GiB of RAM and 48 TB of storage across 24 hard disk drives. Moreover, these instances are capable of delivering more than 2.4 GB of sequential I/O performance per second.
In other words, because High Storage instances provide such massive amounts of direct attached storage per instance, they are ideal for data-intensive applications like Hadoop workloads, log processing, data warehousing and parallel file systems for processing and analyzing large datasets in the AWS cloud.
High Storage instances follow eight other EC2 instance families, including Cluster Compute and High I/O instances, to help meet the evolving application requirements of Amazon EC2 customers. Like the others, High Storage instances were designed to enhance the performance and efficiency of even the most demanding applications. They also power the new petabyte-scale data warehousing service Amazon Redshift and can help Amazon Elastic MapReduce customers process larger quantities of data more resourcefully, who helps significantly lower costs.
AWS customers can immediately launch High Storage instances through the AWS Management Console, Amazon EC2 and Elastic MapReduce Command Line Interfaces, AWS SDKs and various other third-party libraries. However, at the moment this new instance family is only available in the US East Region; they will be made available in other AWS Regions “in the coming months.”
As the new year approaches, its time for small and medium-sized businesses to start getting connected to their customers in the cloud, as well as on mobile devices, according to a new trends report from cloud services solution provider j2 Global.
In compiling its report, the company found that mobility, cloud expansion and integrated business services will be “the three key trends that SMBs must be ready for in 2013.”
2011 saw a massive boon in smartphone sales – so much so that the mobile devices actually outsold PCs that year. That trend continued this year, and in 2013, j2 Global foresees companies getting more mobile-savvy, with mobile “tools” spanning industries, generations and job types and being leveraged for more than just basic communication needs.
j2 Global also points out that while many SMBs have long used smartphones and/or tablets for email and Web browsing, they must now start incorporating a wider array of other mobile business apps to increase their ability to stay connected and available and improve productivity. This can include workflow apps like mobile faxing or communication applications for VoIP calling, for example.
However, mobile isn’t the only major trend that SMBs need to adapt to as we rush into 2013. They’ll also have to start heading up into the cloud, as it provides various advantages for business owners, including faster deployment and a lower cost of ownership. And the good news for SMBs is that cloud-based technology provides a lowered cost of delivery and mobility, so they’ll save money in the long run.
The report predicts that cloud computing and As-a-Service technologies will soon become the default way that SMBs leverage technology, as they provide a lower barrier to entry, greater flexibility and virtual/remote capabilities and do away with the space and location restrictions that arise from on-premises solutions. Plus, these technologies will offers SMBs access to competitive, cost-effective and efficient advantages only available with the cloud. In fact, j2Gobal predicts that with the evolution of the cloud market, SMBs will adopt the tech more quickly, “putting at least 2 in 3 SMBs in the cloud in 2013.”
Finally, the company has discerned that integrated systems will become a much bigger part of SMB operations over the next year, as they provide greater efficiency through unified tools and systems that work collaboratively to drive results.
These fully integrated business solutions will begin to overtake disconnected systems throughout 2013. For example, email marketing will soon become one of the first applications to be completely integrated into CRM services, allowing sales and marketing teams to more easily execute campaigns and track the results from within a single application. Likewise, social capabilities will also become integrated into business platforms to help drive a faster sales cycle and lower acquisition costs; in addition, marketers will be able to manage social media campaigns more easily from their CRM services.
The new year is shaping up to be a banner year for SMBs, as long as they’re willing to adapt to and incorporate these emerging technologies into their operations. Mobile devices, integrated systems and the cloud are all going to play an increasingly bigger role in the way businesses operate over the next 12 months – is your company going to be ready?
Customers can now replicate Riak Cloud Storage (Riak CS) data across multiple data centers to assure its users that they can avoid disruptions from outages and serve content faster to multiple geographic locations, all while building upon its existing compatibility with Amazon S3.
The cloud storage service from Basho Technologies will now allow customers to spread their stored data over a series of data centers located around the world, and the integration of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure guarantees high availability. Basically, Riak CS customers will now be able to replicate their stored data on any data center they want on their own terms, in addition all of the benefits of using AWS, just to sweeten the deal. This solution also reduces some of the risks commonly associated with AWS.
Moreoever, these new replication capabilities will break large data objects into smaller blocks that will be streamed to the underlying Riak cluster, where they will then be replicated for high availability. A manifest for each object will be maintained, allowing the service to retrieve each block from the cluster and present the full object to the end-user. Global information, bucket information and manifests will all be streamed in real-time from a primary implementation to a secondary site for multi-site replication, and objects can be replicated in either “full” or “real-time” sync modes.
Riak CS, built upon Riak, the open source distributed NoSQL database, was just released by Basho last year, and the Amazon S3 integration, which provides Riak CS customers with access to S3 tools and frameworks, was only announced early in 2012.
The UK’s Parker Software company is best known for its live visitor tracking/live chat solution WhosOn and Email2DB, an email parser and business process automation solution, but the company is looking to flesh out the latter solution with the release of Email2Cloud, its new cloud-based email automation service.
Naturally, Email2Cloud is based on the Email2DB software, and the solution will automate a customer’s crucial business process to run when they receive incoming emails, which can include Twitter responses, Web page changes and database changes.
Email2Cloud will work similarly. The solution reads email messages, database records, Twitter feeds, Web pages, Excel spreadsheets, RSS feeds and “other sorts of messages,” and then extracts any useful information to add to and update a customer’s database(s) and trigger automated actions.
Parker Software’s newest solution can integrate with many widely used CRM, ERP, CMS and POS systems, including SharePoint, Salesforce, Dynamics, PayPal and QuickBooks, using Email2Cloud will allow businesses to synchronize their emails and find specific information from within these emails, which enables real-time automation thanks to tighter integrations with the company’s processes and systems, thus making them more effective.
Email2Cloud is built upon the Microsoft Azure cloud platform to ensure a high availability and resiliency within a fully managed cloud-based solution. As an added bonus, the system is even able to scale without downtime, so it works equally well for both small and enterprise-level businesses.
Customers can easily set up and configure Email2Cloud through a simple drag-and-drop process, where regular expressions are used to match information from emails and simple validation through email or SMS to approve workflows.
The open cloud company Rackspace ranks high among major players like Amazon and Windows in the cloud computing industry, which is an impressive feat. But the company isn’t about to rest on its laurels, as it just announced a slew of new features and enhanced support offerings for its Rackspace Private Cloud Software.
Rackspace just launched Private Cloud Software in August and already thousands of businesses and organizations from more than 125 different countries have downloaded it.
These new additions have been collectively named “Alamo” and incorporate “Folsom,” the latest release of the OpenStack Cloud Software platform that came out in September and included nearly 200 new features. This is the same platform that powers the Rackspace Cloud.
Alamo has allowed Rackspace to extend its service portfolio for the Rackspace Private Cloud, particularly with a new support level – Core Software Support – that includes remote access support for the Private Cloud Software stack all day long and every day of the year. Core Software Support will allow the cloud company’s engineers login to a customer’s private cloud environment to install, configure, patch and troubleshoot, as needed.
Some other new features are highly scalable Block Storage that turns external storage into an additional storage volume and Object Storage powered by OpenStack Swift that allows customers to create “massively scalable” storage resource pools for storing files, with server images taking advantage of commodity hardware to provide reduced costs. It also provides new Monitoring that includes Graphite and Collectd applications to extend monitoring and alerting capabilities. All of these new features were designed to work in private cloud environments.
DreamHost, the Web hosting and cloud computing company, is diving into the cloud-based object storage industry with its new DreamObjects service, which is built upon the open source Ceph file system originally developed by – who else? – DreamHost.
In addition to the Ceph file system, DreamObjects was built on a variety of other open source tools, including the Ubuntu Linux 12.4 OS distribution from Canonical and the open source Chef tool for automated provisioning and configuration. DreamHost will also be contributing code back to these open source communities.
Over 300,000 developers and entrepreneurs, across the world, currently make up DreamHost’s customers, and the company has been designing much of DreamObjects’s functionality based on that audience’s needs thanks to initial feedback.
Among the primary features of the DreamObjects service is API compatibility with other major object storage services (including Amazon S3 and Rackspace Cloud Files). It will also come with easy-to-use interfaces and simple pricing schemes that come standard with the service.
Pricing starts at seven cents per GB per month, and can dip below five cents per GB per month for some monthly prepaid plans. To transfer data from the service it will cost seven cents per GB.
Initially, DreamObjects will be offered as a public beta, and interested users can sign up on DreamHost's website. The company also plans to offer a free two-month trial of DreamObjects with 10GB of storage and 20GB of transfer data, only charging the regular rates for overage beyond the trial-sized resources.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is going metropolitan. For the first time, AWS Direct Connect will have a presence in New York thanks to a new partnership with datacenter provider CoreSite.
CoreSite provides datacenter products and interconnection services to over 750 customers, including enterprise-level organizations, communications providers, cloud and content companies, financial firms, media and entertainment companies, government agencies and more. And now, the company boasts AWS Direct Connect availability in its New York datacenter.
This move helps CoreSite meet the increasing customer demand for access to the AWS cloud, and will help improve its ability to service digital content communities, financial organizations and managed service providers, as Direct Connect allows customers to directly access cloud services using a secure private network connection. Direct access provides increased scalability for throughput and a more consistent network performance for reduced network costs. It also helps reduce bandwidth costs while increasing capacity.
More than anything, this decision makes it easy for CoreSite customers to establish a dedicated network connection from their location to the AWS cloud without accessing the public cloud over the Internet. This leads to improved application performance and enhanced security – two of the biggest concerns for companies using the cloud.
Customers can access Direct Connect using a standard, single-mode fiber 1 Gbps or 10 Gbps Ethernet cross connection or an Any2 Internet exchange connection, which can be ordered through the MyCoreSite online customer portal.
CoreSite has been offering AWS Direct Connect from its Los Angeles datacenter since late last year.
Cloud corporate performance management (CPM) is a niche subset of traditional CPM that was created when cloud computing began to be a major aspect of the day-to-day business processes of many enterprises. So naturally, it’s an industry that has seen impressive growth over the last year.
Host Analytics, one of the world’s premier cloud CPM companies, recently announced record company and customer growth for the first half of 2012, including revenues from Q2 that were 2.2 times higher than the same period in 2011. The company claims that its growth was spurred by a healthy mix of customer demand, product innovation and global expansion. Of course, it also conceded that a continued market trend toward cloud computing helped a bit.
In the first half of this year, Host Analytics saw a 25 percent increase in customer growth, including notable names such as Casual Male, Splunk, Angie’s List, Zoosk and more. This influx of new customers encouraged the company to expand globally, as well, opening an office in the U.K. and increasing channel sales to include Australia and New Zealand. It even grew internally, adding 12 percent to its employee headcount in just six months.
Most importantly, Host Analytics has brought a lot to the industry in the form of new product innovations. This includes the new Host Analytics Business Analytics toolkit for finance that combines CPM and business intelligence (BI) in a single solution. It also released new features in its CPM suite for dynamic financial reporting, as well as an updated interface that provides more intuitive control.
The success of Host Analytics, in conjunction with its innovative additions of cloud CPM services, seems to point toward big things for this burgeoning industry. Enterprises looking to harness the cloud for their businesses should look into how they can benefit from using a cloud CPM solution.
We hear all the time about the rapidly growing adoption rates of cloud computing. Among enterprise customers, specifically, the cloud is quickly becoming more of a present reality than a technology of the future.
Bluelock is a certified VMware vCloudR Datacenter provider of Virtual Datacenters that are hosted in the public cloud, but more importantly, it’s one of the companies helping to drive this significant public cloud growth. Earlier this week, the company announced “continued strong enterprise growth,” adding a number of midsize-to-large enterprise organizations to its roster, including the VMware vFabricT Application Director, F5 Networks, eMeter and Codesigned, among others.
The company’s growth in its Virtual Datacenter revenue now exceeds 50 percent in a year-over-year comparison.
In addition, Bluelock has been named to the list of the “10 Most Powerful IaaS Companies” by Network World, made CRN’s list of the 100 Coolest Cloud Computing Vendors of 2012 and got a mention in the “Talkin’ Cloud 100” report from Nine Lives Media. In other words, the company is becoming quite the hot commodity in the world of cloud computing.
A Bluelock Virtual Datacenter takes just a few minutes to set up using either vCloud’s Director-based self-service interface or Bluelock’s managed services team, and it allows customers to quickly build virtual machines (VM) with public or private catalogs of VM templates. Or, if they’d prefer, they can simply upload their own virtual machines that are already running in an environment.
These Datacenters also let customers subtract and add capacity as needed and offer pay-as-you-go pricing options. And thanks to the ability to upload and download VMware-compatible workloads, users can efficiently move VMDK files to and from Bluelock’s own public cloud.
The cloud computing industry is dominated by a few big names – Amazon, VMware, NetSuite, Salesforce, Dropbox, and, of course, Google always seem to take over the majority of the conversation.
However, somewhat quietly in the background, Box has been carving out its own space. The company offers simple and secure online file sharing, centralizes mobile data for customers, offers social workflow features for cloud collaboration, possesses the ability to cross-platform sync content for enterprise organizations, and even has customization options that make it compatible with a customer’s existing cloud infrastructure and applications.
It’s no wonder that major brand names like Clear Channel, Taylor Made, Procter & Gamble, and over 92 percent of Fortune 500 companies have adopted the Box platform.
And it looks like the company may soon be able to expand even further, as it just raised a startling $125 million in funding, led primarily by the General Atlantic investment firm. Other contributors were Bessemer Venture Partners, DFJ Growth, New Enterprise Associates, SAP Ventures, Scale Venture Partners, and Social+Capital.
Box has been experiencing record growth for some time now, with sales increasing by 200 percent year-over-year. In fact, the company doubled in average size during the first half of 2012. It also opened an office in London recently, which signifies a committed interest in expanding globally. With this huge increase in funding, it’ll be exciting to see what the company does next, and if it can propel itself into the upper echelon of cloud service providers.
Cloud computing has provided app developers numerous new opportunities for deploying their creations and growing their audience.
AppFog is a multi-language Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) built for the deployment and management of cloud-based applications; basically, it provides a direct avenue for developers to publish their work in the cloud. It is an infrastructure agnostic service that provides solutions for Java, .NET, node.js, Python, PHP, MySQL, MongoDB, Postgres, and Ruby, among others, so it’s got something for almost every type of developer.
A reliable, scalable, and fast platform for both mobile and Web applications, AppFog currently deploys over 60,000 apps in the cloud that are used by tens of thousands of developers across the world.
Recently, the company announced a major partnership with cloud computing aristocracy. AppFog will begin collaborating with Rackspace so that its customers can deploy applications to the open Rackspace Cloud, which is powered by the company’s OpenStack operating system.
The AppFog solution is going to be available through the brand new Rackspace Cloud Tools Marketplace, a comprehensive catalog of third-party applications designed to be used in the Rackspace Cloud.
Now, AppFog customers can develop and deploy their apps to the Rackspace Cloud in a simple, efficient, and cost effective way. They’ll receive 2GB of free RAM when they create an account, and the service will take a pay-for-RAM approach after that.
The key to this partnership is interoperability; current AppFog customers deploying their work on other Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers can redeploy the apps to the Rackspace Cloud with zero-code migrations. This provides increased flexibility for AppFog users and helps them avoid vendor lock-in.
Microsoft, once unquestionably the biggest name in technology, has fallen drastically behind the pack in most areas over the years. However, as of late the company has been making a major push to remain relevant, if not become a leader, in today’s hottest industries – not the least of which is cloud computing.
Earlier this week, Microsoft announced a new white-label-type version of its Windows Azure cloud platform for Web hosts using Windows Server.
The Service Management Portal (as it’s being called) will allow Microsoft’s hosting partners to provide their customers with an Azure-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) without having to tap into the Microsoft cloud. The service will use a standardized management portal, and will also come with extendable APIs. This will allow developers to connect their current hosted applications to their hosts’ other services, their own on-premises resources, or directly to Windows Azure.
At present, Microsoft is working on developing a collection of partnerships with various service providers, and has already named big time Web hosting and domain name company GoDaddy as the Service Management Portal’s pilot customer.
The service will also work with long-time Microsoft partner Apprenda; so, if Web hosts set up an Apprenda instance internally and plug it into the portal, their customers will be able to deploy their Web apps using the auto-scaling and other Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) capabilities of Apprenda from within the Service Management Portal.
For now, the offering is in a beta-ish Community Technology Preview mode.
Online project management solutions have been increasing in popularity as of late, and the LiquidPlanner platform seems to have taken the next logical step by partnering with Box to add cloud functionality to its tool.
According to LiquidPlanner CEO Charles Seybold, project management has undergone a “quiet revolution” since the advent of the technological revolution, and the ubiquity and added capabilities offered by the Internet have rapidly spurred this trend onward. Seybold explains that management structures are becoming increasingly social and, consequently, amorphous.
LiquidPlanner focuses primarily on social project management, allowing comment streams for every task and project, letting users attach notes, documents and images and including email notifications and integration. It also offers flexibility throughout the project lifecycle, including a “probabilistic” scheduling feature for real-time project scheduling with best and worst case estimations that predict how long a task should take to complete. In addition, users can drag and drop projects/tasks in priority order, delay, pause or assign deadlines and get instant impact analysis.
LiquidPlanner is looking to build upon the capabilities of its management platform with the aforementioned integration with the cloud-based content sharing platform, as well as introducing analytics into its solution.
The company’s deal with Box, one of the leading names in the cloud computing industry, now allows customers to manage project content using cloud technology, meaning they can share and collaborate on documents more easily, as teams managing projects, workflows and time tracking can now leverage Box functionality to attach documents stored in Box directly into LiquidPlanner projects and tasks. They will also have access to advanced document management features, such as desktop syncing, document versioning and access controls for project collateral.
Box integration is immediately available for all LiquidPlanner customers for no additional charge.
Box, considered by many to be the most underrated name in cloud computing, just released a handful of new features aimed at enterprise customers. So, if you haven’t checked it out yet, now may be the time give Box a look.
Among the recent additions are the ability to search for files across the whole company, a dashboard with more controls for administrators, mobile security options (e.g. passcode locks), multiple email domain support, activity notification archiving and an enterprise licensing agreement (ELA).
All of these features were included to help large-scale organizations more easily manage bigger, company-wide Box deployments at a scale that wasn’t possible before. This will make pesky issues like regulatory compliance go more smoothly.
Plus, the new ELA means that Box customers will get more predictable pricing when the precise size of their teams changes, as opposed to paying on a seat-by-seat basis.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is helping businesses get more interactive by launching dynamic content support for Amazon CloudFront, giving customers a simple and cost-effective way to improve the performance, reliability and global reach of their sites and delivery of their content, including dynamic content that changes for every end-user.
AWS customers can accelerate all of the content on their websites, both dynamic and static, for a single price and no up-front fees.
The ability to deliver personalized, dynamic content through CloudFront saves businesses a lot of time and effort that used to go into improving the performance and reliability of the more dynamic aspects of their websites. Typically, this used to require custom codes that had to be written, and even then the solutions offered would be hard to configure and manage.
Now users can run all kinds of Web applications and accelerate their entire sites quickly through the AWS Management Console with no additional cost or architecture complexity. The experience even improves when dynamic content is delivered with origin servers running in EC2, as Amazon will monitor and streamline the network paths from each CloudFront edge location to the various AWS Regions, improving latency and reliability in the process.
Like Prometheus, enterprise-class Web and cloud systems monitoring company Monitis is bringing power usually reserved for the largest of large-scale businesses to everybody else. The company recently announced that it was going to extend all of its enterprise monitoring features into Monitor.Us, its free monitoring service.
Now, businesses of any size will be able to leverage enterprise-class features to gain insights into the performance of their Web systems. This major change will make Monitor.Us one of the most feature-rich free hosted Web and cloud-monitoring systems on the market.
This move was made in large part because of rapid cloud adoption by companies of all shapes and sizes, a switch that makes it more important for businesses to be in charge of their IT systems regardless of location.
Until recently, many of the most powerful Web application performance tools were far too complex (and expensive) for small and medium-sized businesses to even consider, but this makes 77 new features available to virtually anyone who wants them. This opens up a host of benefits for companies that want to leverage Web and cloud systems monitoring, including supporting a smooth transition to the cloud that lets companies know their applications are secure.
The new features include a cloud monitoring service for the free and independent monitoring of cloud apps and environments, a real browser end user-monitoring service that lets businesses conduct full-page monitoring of load speeds to identify individual problems and a custom monitoring service that lets users create their own “types” of monitors for their highly specific individual needs.
Enterprises will add more Linux to support their cloud computing and big data initiatives according to the “Linux Adoption Trends 2012” report from the Linux Foundation.
Eight out of ten survey respondents indicate that they have both added Linux servers in the last 12 months and plan to add more in the coming year. The growth of Linux comes at the expense of Windows servers – only 21.7 percent of respondents indicated they are planning an increase of Windows servers in the next five years.
Additional highlights from the report include:
- More than 75 percent of respondents expressed concern about supporting “Big Data” and 72 percent are choosing Linux to support it.
- Fewer issues are impeding adoption of the operating system, with technical issues cited by respondents dropping 40% from the last report.
MegaUpload, one of the world's largest file-sharing websites, was shut down Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice, which accused it of violating piracy and copyright laws.
In an indictment, the Justice Department alleged that MegaUpload was a "mega conspiracy" and a global criminal organization "whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale."
The Justice Department said MegaUpload, which had about 150 million users, tallied up harm to copyright holders in excess of $500 million by allowing users to illegally share movies, music and other files. Prosecutors said in the indictment that the site's operators raked in an income from it that topped $175 million.
MegaUpload was just one of the many services that allow for the easy sharing of large files online. Others include sites such as Mediafire and Rapidshare and cloud storage services that allow for shared folders such as Box.net and Dropbox.
One way MegaUpload differentiated itself was with its online marketing campaign that featured celebrities such as rapper/producers Kanye West, Lil' Jon, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Swizz Beats stating in YouTube videos why they loved using the site. Other videos feature tennis star Serena Williams, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons and director Brett Ratner testifying to their use of MegaUpload.
The release of the Justice Department indictment came after dozens of websites, led by tech heavyweights Wikipedia, Craigslist, Mozilla and Google, altered their websites to protest two anti-piracy bills under consideration on Capitol Hill: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).
Critics of the bills say the proposed laws would give the Justice Department the ability to censor the Internet by giving the agency clearance to shut down a site without having to get court approval of an indictment, as it did with MegaUpload. Although the indictment was unsealed Thursday, it was issued by a federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia on Jan. 5, the agency said.
In a statement issued with the indictment,the Justice Department said "this action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime."
The Justice Department said that at its request, authorities arrested three MegaUpload executives — officially employed by two companies, Megaupload Ltd. and Vestor Ltd. — in New Zealand, including the site's founder, Kim Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz. The agency is also looking to arrest two additional executives.
The indictment charges the two companies with running a "racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement."
According to the Associated Press, before the MegaUpload site was shut down Thursday, a statement was posted on the site saying the allegations made against it were "grotesquely overblown" and that "the vast majority of Mega's Internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay. If the content industry would like to take advantage of our popularity, we are happy to enter into a dialogue. We have some good ideas. Please get in touch."
Visits to Megaupload.com on Thursday showed the website as unable to load. The Justice Department had ordered the seizure of 18 domain names it linked to the alleged wrongdoing.
[Updated at 3:42 p.m.: As noted by Times reporter Ben Fritz on our sister blog Company Town, the hacker group Anonymous has allegedly lobbed a denial-of-service attack that has temporarily taken down the websites for the Department of Justice and Universal Music as a move in retaliation for the shutdown of MegaUpload. Forbes is reporting that the same attack has struck the sites for the Recording Industry of America and the Motion Picture Assn. of America.]
[Updated at 3:50 p.m.: The Twitter accounts @YourAnonNews and @AnonOps are taking credit on behalf of Anonymous for the web attacks on the websites of the Justice Department, Recording Industry of America, Motion Picture Assn. of America and Universal Music.]
NEWS ANALYSIS: Alongside Apple stating that iBooks 2 and textbooks on the iPad would reinvent the textbook as we know it, the iPad-maker announced Thursday that it would also attempt to reinvent book-making by way of an app called iBooks Author.
The Apple-developed app, available as a free download from the Mac App Store, (ideally) makes it easy to make books for the iPad. But together, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author are moves to capture the future of education and self-publishing, and to continue to build on the success Apple had under the late Steve Jobs.
If you've ever used Apple's Keynote or Pages (or Microsoft's PowerPoint or Word) apps, then you should be able to hit the ground running in iBooks Author. There are templates for different types of book layouts, and adding the interactive 3-D models, photos, videos and diagrams that Apple demoed iBooks 2 textbooks on Thursday is as easy as clicking and dragging a built-in widget — provided you've already produced the video, photos, diagrams and models you want to use.
Want to see what your book looks like before you publish it to iBooks? Just connect your Mac to an iPad by way of a USB cable and you can preview the book on the tablet.
The aim of the iBooks Author app is to make it easy to get these impressive multimedia elements, as well as questionnaires and other educational materials, into a page of text and published as a book on the iPad as easy as possible — whether you're a self-publisher looking to write your first book, a teacher whipping up something quick for a special class, or a publishing powerhouse like the textbook trifecta of McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Before his death, Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he believed Apple could disrupt the $8-billion-a-year textbook industry. Jobs said in Isaacson's book, titled simply "Steve Jobs," that the iPad was the tool to make transformation in the textbook business a reality.
According to the book, Jobs' idea "was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple."
Jobs told Isaacson "the process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt … but if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don't have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money."
In announcing the iBooks 2 and iBooks Author products, Apple is beginning to bring a piece of Jobs' long-term vision to fruition. The company also noted Thursday that there are currently about 1.5 million iPads being used in schools and more than 20,000 education apps sitting in its iOS App Store.
But make no mistake, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author aren't just about textbooks. The two new apps are working together to entice students, teachers, educational institutions to embrace and buy the iPad in bigger numbers than they already have.
On Thursday, in announcing the new products, Apple made no mention of new discounts on iPads for students or schools — though Apple has offered such discounts in the past on Macs and even created special versions of the iMac for schools. Apple even built the now-defunct eMac line specifically to sell to schools.
Apple wants us to ditch the paperback and hardcover textbooks in favor of an iPad and digital downloads, that much is obvious. But the company also wants the iPad and Macs to become to go-to devices for educational institutions and publishing houses.
Although Apple's iTunes is the world's most popular online music storefront, Amazon is the world's largest seller of e-books. By adding a level of interactivity to books that Amazon and others simply can't match, and by making it easier to publish a book and sell it in the iBooks app directly from iBooks Author, Apple has made a move to challenge Amazon and its Kindle e-reader and Kindle Touch tablet as the preferred platform for self-publishers and digital textbooks.
In a statement announcing iBooks 2 and iBooks Author, Apple said as much (without naming Amazon and other e-book rivals such as Google and Barnes & Noble).
"iBooks Author is also available today as a free download from the Mac App Store and lets anyone with a Mac create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books and more, and publish them to Apple's iBookstore," Apple said.
The apps are also a challenge to Adobe, a company Apple has been known to partner with and feud with from time to time. Adobe's Creative Suite, Digital Publishing Suite and Touch Apps, available on both Windows PCs and Macs, are some of the most popular tools used by publishing houses and self-publishers looking to create a book, whether an e-book or a book before it heads to print.
Though capable of producing many different types of content for a broader range of devices, Adobe's software can cost thousands of dollars, while Apple's iBooks Author app is free.
Apple on Thursday also released an iTunes U app, which allows teachers from kindergarten to the university level to stream video of their lectures and post class notes, handouts, reading lists, etc., all within the app.
Previously, iTunes U was a podcasting service for college professors who wanted to put up video or audio of their lectures. Now it is one more reason for a teacher to consider an iPad and a Mac as tools to reach students at any grade level. And like iBooks Author, the app is free.
In my opinion, Apple is one of the best companies out there at providing lower-cost products that pull consumers into an ecosystem of apps and gadgets. It's one of the reason the company has so many cult-like followers.
For many Apple fans, their first purchase was an iPod or iPhone. With those purchases comes buying apps, music, movies and TV shows from iTunes. And for many, later comes a MacBook or an iMac computer. This strategy is repeating itself with iBooks 2 and iBooks Author.
First, get students and teachers to use more iPads in school by offering affordable and engaging digital textbooks. With iBook textbooks capped at a price of $14.99, I have to wonder whether or not textbooks will become shorter and more narrow, and thus students and teachers we'll have to buy more of them. Second, make it easy for anybody to produce their own iBooks (textbooks or otherwise) and then sell those books in the iBooks app, luring in aspiring authors. When those students, teachers and authors go to download music or a movie, set up a cloud storage service or buy a laptop, a phone, a new tablet — maybe someday a TV — what brand will be at the top of minds? Apple.
iBooks, iBooks Author and iTunes U, together are a move to fend off Google, Amazon, Adobe and other competitors in determining the future of education, publishing and book reading. Together, the launch of these apps is an attempt to not only maintain but also expand Apple's current success into the company's post-Jobs future.
Photo: Apple's iBook Author app on an iMac, and an iBook and an iPad. Credit: Apple
Cisco Systems Inc. sees a cloudy future.
By 2015, cloud computing will account for nearly 34% of traffic at the world's data centers, the huge computing stations that now process and distribute most of the Internet's information. Last year the cloud accounted for only about 11% of data center traffic.
The trend comes as data centers become an ever larger part of the way the Internet works, acting as the digital jet engines for the Internet's most-used services: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple's iCloud and many others.
Cisco's first "Cloud Index" report says that overall traffic at data centers will more than triple by 2015, to 4.8 zettabytes from about 1.5 zettabytes in 2011. Cisco is one of the world's largest vendors of the networking hardware that sends data around the Internet and between servers in a given data center.
A zettabyte is an astronomical amount of data, equal to 1 billion terabytes. A terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes. Many current PCs contain about 500 gigabytes of storage. So the amount of data that will be processed by the world's data centers by 2015 is roughly what you could fit on 2 billion modern PCs.
None of that may be very surprising, as the benefits of cloud computing — including the substantially lower cost of storing and retrieving data to consumers and businesses — have been widely extolled in recent years. Cisco differentiates between "traditional" services and cloud servers; the latter is a more elastic type of computing that can grow or shrink depending on the number of active users or the types of tasks it is performing.
That can make for economic and energy efficiency gains by reducing the number of data center servers that sit idle while, for instance, people in North America are asleep. With cloud systems, those otherwise unused servers can be shifted over to perform needed functions — often for different companies on other continents.
The rapid movement of data that goes along with cloud computing has raised a number of concerns about online security, including whether consumers and businesses can know precisely where their private data is located and the extent to which cloud data is vulnerable to hackers or accidental disclosure.
– David Sarno
Image: An artist's rendering of Facebook's newest data center in Lulea, Sweden, on the edge of the Arctic Circle. Facebook picked the location because the cold climate allows it to keep its servers cool more cheaply. Credit: Associated Press