Tag Archives: cloud computing

Microsoft to open first UK data centres for cloud computing business

Satya Nadella announces expansion amid competition from Amazon and growing scrutiny of personal data storage

Microsoft has announced a major investment in UK data centres that will allow the software giant to offer its cloud computing service from Britain for the first time.

The company plans to build two centres in the UK next year, its chief executive Satya Nadella announced at the Future Decoded conference hosted by Microsoft on Tuesday.

The investment, worth hundreds of millions of pounds, will allow the businesses and government bodies that use Microsoft’s online computing services, Azure and Office 365, to ensure data about customers and citizens is kept in the UK. Previously, businesses would have applications powered by data centres in Ireland or the Netherlands.

Microsoft’s move comes amid growing international scrutiny of data practices and the European Court of Justice’s recent decision to invalidate “Safe Harbour”, a transatlantic treaty that had allowed the unfettered transfer of personal data from the EU to the US.

Microsoft, Amazon and Google are directly competing around the world to sell on-demand cloud services, which allow businesses to outsource functions such as data storage and IT software without upfront hardware costs. The market is estimated to be worth £3.4bn in the UK alone and growing rapidly.

Microsoft Dublin data centre - microsoft cloud computing, cloud based hub, computing, it, storing data, information technology, virtualisation, hybrid cloud infrastructureMicrosoft’s cloud data centre in Dublin

Amazon announced last week that it planned to build data centres for its cloud computing business in the UK. Liam Maxwell, the Government’s chief technology officer, said the two companies were investing $3bn (£2bn) between them. Microsoft has invested more than $2bn in cloud infrastructure across Europe.

Mr Maxwell said the Government spends more than £1bn on data centre hosting because data protection rules force it to keep some personal data in the country, and that Microsoft and Amazon building UK data centres would help it save “a lot of money” by outsourcing operations.

Scott Guthrie, the head of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise division, said the decision to open data centres in the UK was not a response to the Safe Harbour treaty being scrapped, but that “data residency” is an increasingly important issue.

He said one data centre was likely to be built near London, with another on the other side of the country, and that Microsoft now has data centres in twice as many territories as Amazon and Google combined.

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Can IBM’s LinuxONE mainframe compete with cloud computing?

IBM has announced two mainframe computers under the LinuxONE branding that will eventually be able to run Canonical’s popular Ubuntu Linux operating system. This latest move is part of a near-30-year history of IBM running UNIX and, later, Linux-based operating systems on its hardware products. IBM’s first UNIX-like product for its mainframes AIX/370 appeared way back in 1988. While the ability to run Ubuntu on a mainframe may have been the news that attracted attention, the announcement really has several parts.

First, there are two LinuxOne mainframe models. The LinuxONE Emperor is designed for large enterprises. IBM claims it can run up to 8,000 virtual servers, tens of thousands of containers. and 30 billion RESTful web interactions per day supporting millions of active users. The Emperor can have up to 141 processors, 10 terabytes of shared memory, and 640 dedicated I/O (input/output) processors. And IBM claims it can provide all this with a cost that’s half that of a public cloud infrastructure solution.

On the lower end, the LinuxONE Rockerhopper model is an entry-level mainframe aimed at mid-sized businesses which can be upgraded to an Emperor system. Both LinuxOne systems support KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) with the initial work being done by SUSE (best known for tis SUSE Linux distribution).

Next, IBM and Canonical announced “plans to create an Ubuntu distribution for LinuxONE and z Systems.” Note that Ubuntu is not currently available for the LinuxONE mainframes. However, both Red Hat Linux and SUSE Linux are currently supported. IBM also announced its role in forming the Open Mainframe Project along with founding members ADP, CA Technologies, IBM, and SUSE. The Open Mainframe Foundation is a non-profit Linux Foundation Collaborative project.

Finally, IBM announced the LinuxONE developer cloud, which gives developers access to a virtual IBM LinuxONE mainframe. Marist College and Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies plan to host developer clouds that will be free to use. IBM didn’t indicate if this free access will be restricted to, for example, developers at educational institutions. IBM itself plans to create developer clouds for independent software vendors at at IBM sites in Dallas, Beijing, and Boeblingen, Germany that will provide “free trials.”

IBM’s continued expanding support of Linux and Open Source projects makes sense given that these platforms and tools provide much of today’s connected infrastructure. And, the move away from in-house servers to cloud-based ones is a direct threat to IBM’s mainframe business. The company’s claim that it can provide a fast, reliable, and secure alternative at half the cost of cloud-based solutions is bound to get the attention of those with large-scale projects who want to control costs.

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