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Facebook’s Instagram Accused of “Un-Islamic” Crimes

The Organized Cyberspace Crimes Unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards has accused Facebook’s Instagram of working with Kim Kardashian-West to corrupt Iranian women. The report is making headline news in the Muslim world and a spokesman for the OCCU is quoted as saying, ‘”There is no doubt that financial support is involved as well. We are taking this very seriously.”

According to British tabloid reports, an ongoing effort has been going on for several months in Iran designed to crack down on Instagram posts which authorities there consider “un-Islamic.” And now Ms. Kardashian-West, who has erupted on the world scene over the past several years as being an unstoppable pop and culture icon in the entertainment industry, is now charged with a “complicated ploy” designed to corrupt the lifestyle of the Islamic republic.

According to an article published this week on the website IranWire, operated by Iranian citizen journalists, the OCCU thinks that Ms. Kardashian-West has been working on behalf of the CEO of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, to “target young people and women with photos of a provocative nature that depict a lifestyle that is in conflict with Islam.”

Mostafa Alizadeh, a spokesman for the OCCU, is quoted as saying on a Sunday night Iranian news program that the aim of Mr. Systrom is to try and make fashion modeling more native to the country of Iran and that Ms. Kardashian-West is apparently attempting to implement this scheme for him.

“They are targeting young people and women,” according to Alizadeh. “Foreigners are behind it because it is targeting families. These schemes originate from around the Persian Gulf and England. When you draw the operational graph, you will see that it is a foreign operation.”

While the concept of Ms. Kardashian-West being a “secret agent” may be considered laughable in the West, the effort is quite serious in Iran. “Operation Spider II” is now in effect by the Iranian government designed to crack down on any Instagram posts that Iranian authorities consider “un-Islamic”. According to the BBC, the OCCU has been monitoring around 300 Instagram web profiles and a number of modeling agencies, hair salons and photo studios in Iran with eight people already having been arrested.

So far, there have been no comments from Instagram or Ms. Kardashian-West about the accusations.

Microsoft Windows 10 Birthday Approaches, Roll-back Feature Should Help Avoid User Panic

W10AnniUpdateIt’s been almost a year since Microsoft Windows 10 was announced. Technical writers generally gave it positive reviews but some users are not quite so sure. A reader from The New York Times called it a “nightmare” after her system broke down completely. Another reader said his two laptops were taken apart “piece by piece” by the software. First, he said his Wi-Fi stopped working, and then his keyboard completely failed.

Microsoft, of course, says that Windows 10 has had a smooth release and that there would normally be a few users with issues after millions of devices began to run the system, simply because of the “complex ecosystem” of PC accessories and hardware.

Analysts say that the problems with Windows 10 appear to be concentrated in cheaper computers that cost around $300 or less, like budget models manufactured by Acer or Asus. These less expensive machines tend to be made with parts that are manufactured by component makers that may not have updated their drivers to work with the new system. Microsoft does run what’s called a “compatibility checker” so that any applications or devices that might stop working after upgrading to Windows 10 can be notified. But many users say that the checker fails to identify these issues prior to installing the upgrade.

One of the lesser-known features of Windows 10 might be a help. Microsoft designed a button that can roll systems back to their previous version of Windows if there are problems. In order to do this, the company designed an archive of the past Windows version that was originally on the machine and placed it in a directory so that it can be easily reverted to in case of problems with Windows 10.

According to the experts, if you’re eager to install Windows 10 and your machine isn’t cooperating, the best idea is to upgrade the parts on your current machine or simply buy a new computer. Most IT professionals are now recommending that owners of PCs that have older, spinning hard drives should consider upgrading to solid state drives, a newer and much faster storage technology. Although the new solid-state drives generally will have less storage capacity than hard drives, they will load Windows 10 applications much faster and are considered to be more durable because of the absence of moving parts.

Most experts say that problems with Windows 10 can often be traced to user error, and not because users installed the operating system incorrectly.

New YouTube App for iOS, Now with Google Cardboard VR Support

Google Cardboard for Affordable VR
Google Cardboard for Affordable Virtual Reality

Google has just launched a few new virtual reality products at this year’s Google I/O Developers Conference being held this week in San Francisco. Among the offerings is an update for the YouTube iOS application that allows a user to watch videos in VR mode using Google Cardboard. The application was updated for Android use in November 2015, but Apple’s iOS users have not been able to enjoy the feature until now.

Founded in 2005, YouTube almost immediately became immensely popular for user-uploaded videos. By the summer of 2006, YouTube had become one of the fastest growing websites on the Internet with more than 65,000 new videos being uploaded each day. In October of that year Google purchased the company for $1.65 billion in stock.

As the popularity of virtual reality began to explode, Google developed its own viewer called Cardboard in 2014. Google Cardboard headsets are constructed from simple, low-cost components. The parts consist of a piece of cardboard cut that has been cut into a precise shape that becomes a viewer, two 45-millimeter focal length lenses, capacitive tape or magnets and various fasteners, all packaged to sell for around $15. Pre-assembled kits are also available based on these plans and are sold for less than $5 from multiple vendors.

With viewers able to purchase an inexpensive Cardboard viewer to be able to watch virtual reality videos on YouTube, Cardboard is being hailed as possibly the most affordable method to experience virtual reality. In addition, the fortunes of YouTube may also reap rewards as the update for iOS users now gives their owners the availability to access YouTube’s extensive content library.

Even though virtual reality video is currently a niche market, various creators have spread their own content using numerous different websites. However, none of these matches the size of the YouTube audience. It is anticipated that VR support on YouTube will spark an exponential increase in not only the production but also the worldwide accessibility of VR content. YouTube is known as a platform for innumerable creators seeking to stand out “from the crowd.”

In supporting the VR technology at such an early stage, Google and YouTube will probably give both the technology and many pioneering creators an opportunity to be able to show off their productions to a much larger audience.

The Cloud Wars Have Begun. Who Will Emerge Victorious?

The Cloud Wars Have Begun. Who Will Emerge Victorious?

sdn-mobile-cloudEver since the advent of the Cloud concept, a slew of technology majors have been clawing their way upward, hoping to dominate what could soon be the most omnipresent component in the world of technology.

Why are they so eager to dominate the cloud space? What makes this business so appealing and attractive that practically every technology company worth its salt is vying for a shot at the top of this game?

The answer to these questions lies in the far-reaching influence of the cloud itself.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai confidently stated, recently:

“Every business in the world is going to run on cloud eventually.” – Sundar Pichai, CEO – Google

Now, I don’t know whether that prediction will ever prove prophetic, but one thing is for sure: the cloud will soon permeate every industry in the world from healthcare to professional services to manufacturing to practically any sector you care to name.

Now you can see why any technology company – or any company even vaguely connected with one of the many facets of cloud technology would want a piece of that pie.

The company that takes the lead in the next five years is very likely to dominate the space into the foreseeable future – and beyond.

I see three companies in contention for pole position in this space, and all three have already made significant progress in their respective cloud businesses.

Before we see who those companies are, let’s back up and cover the basics of cloud and its many forms.

What is “The Cloud”?

To describe what the cloud actually is, it’s necessary to use an analogy. What people refer to as “Cloud Computing” is essentially a combination of a technology infrastructure with a platform that hosts a variety of software applications. In the sense that the user doesn’t actually see any of this – merely accesses it from a remote location through a secure connection – the entire service is obscured, exactly the way a cloud would obscure your vision of the stars at night.

That’s the essence of the cloud. It’s a behind-the-scenes service that gives businesses access to powerful systems and resources without having to spend the extensive capital required to set up and own such a service.

Within the cloud are its resident elements, as shown in its simplest form in this diagram from Wikipedia:

New users would be surprised to know that they’ve already been using some form of cloud service for several years. Your Gmail account is hosted on Google’s servers, making it a cloud platform. When you shop on Amazon, you’re communicating with their servers through a cloud that is owned and operated by Amazon Web Services. If you’re a regular Facebook user, you’re accessing cloud inputs from a billion locations into Facebook’s cloud platform from across the globe every day.

The cloud is already all around us but it is so much a back-end support system that most of us don’t even realize that we’re been using it for so long.

How is it Segmented?

Over the years, the way the cloud was being used has created several intrinsic forms, such as:

  1. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
  2. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
  3. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
  4. Business Process-as-a-Service (BPaaS)

If you go into specific offerings of every company operating a cloud service you may see further segmentation based on the purpose of the service and how customers see its value. For example, IBM offers Analytics-as-a-Service that gives users access to Watson, their analytics “brain” that is now handling billions upon billions of data points and cognitively interpreting that data into actionable information for healthcare providers and users from several diverse industries such as insurance and oil and gas.

To confuse things even more, companies use their own terminology, such as private/public or hybrid cloud, and most offer an overwhelmingly extensive range of solutions that target specific industries and verticals such as digital marketing, big data, game development, digital media and many more.

The Investor’s Scalpel

Thankfully, as an investor, you don’t need to know how the cloud works. The important thing for you is to see exactly who is making it work, and how. And you need to see that from a past-present-future perspective: as a combination of the technology backbone behind it, the hard current numbers they’re delivering now, and the solid future projections based on their individual growth strategies.

In no particular order, I’m going to outline what various companies have done with their cloud offering and how successful they’ve been. At the end, I will summarize my viewpoints and give you an actionable base of information that you can then act on.

Just like Watson!

So let’s get started…

Microsoft

satya-nadella1Azure is Microsoft’s cloud offering. It was officially launched on February 1, 2010 two years after the company announced it.  It provides both IaaS and PaaS, with support for multiple programming languages, frameworks and systems that include Microsoft’s own software as well as integration with third-party systems.

Microsoft reporting incomes from this segment as Intelligent Cloud; revenues in the six months ended December 2015 were in excess of $12 billion, putting the business at a potential $24-$25 billion a year.

Remember I mentioned that each company segments its cloud business differently from others? That’s exactly what you can see here: the total revenue includes income from server products, cloud services, Enterprise services and consulting. If you take out everything else, the Azure component – the one that provides the IaaS and PaaS offerings – brought in about $400 million during the final quarter of 2015, which ended in June 2015. That puts the “run rate” at about $1.6 billion for the year.

Amazon’s AWS

(FILES)Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, during a press conference in this September 6, 2012 file photo in Santa Monica, California.   Want that Amazon order in just 30 minutes? Company CEO Jeff Bezos says he hopes to soon deploy an armada of mini-drones able to drop small packages at your doorstep. The US online retail giant's revolutionary project still needs extra safety testing and federal approval, but Bezos believes that Amazon "Prime Air" would be up and running within four to five years.  "These are effectively drones but there's no reason that they can't be used as delivery vehicles," Bezos told CBS television's "60 Minutes" program late December 1, 2013.  "I know this looks like science fiction. It's not," he said.  AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMARJOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Amazon Web Services is by far the current market leader in the IaaS segment. With revenues topping $7 billion for the 2015 fiscal, the division is Amazon’s most profitable – growing revenues at double-digit percentages for a long time.

There are several unique things about AWS that are very different from the parent unit Amazon, which is primarily an e-commerce retail operator (or e-tailer, as they’re known.)

For one, while Amazon’s retail business is barely profitable, AWS tops the operating margin scales at a whopping 23.64% as of the last annual report. With margins like that, it may surprise you to know that they’ve already dropped their cloud service prices more than 50 times since they launched in 2006 – ten years ago.

From a business perspective, the best thing about Amazon Web Services is that it still has room to get into pricing wars with other tech companies for cloud dominance, which it has already achieved to a great degree.

IBM Cloud

IBM-RecruitmentThe grand-daddy of them all – IBM – is also a major player in the cloud business.  They started experimenting with Virtual Machines (VMs) as early as the 1960s. The active decision to move into cloud services came in 2007.

A key acquisition in the formation of IBM SmartCloud as a service offering came in 2013, when the company acquired SoftLayer and the division was christened IBM Cloud Services; or, simply, IBM Cloud.

The original estimate for cloud revenue for 2015 was $7 billion, according to a Forbes article published in January 2016. That figure came in at $10.2 billion for the year according to IBM’s annual report (full press release), an excerpt of which I have pasted below:

“- Total Cloud revenue of $10.2 billion up 57 percent adjusting for currency and the System x divestiture, up 43 percent as reported;

       — Cloud delivered as a service revenues of $4.5 billion, up 61 percent adjusting for currency, up 50 percent as reported;

       — Annual run rate of $5.3 billion vs. $3.5 billion in the fourth quarter 2014 for cloud delivered as a service;”

As you can see, the company is delivering well over par on expectations. However, stock prices are down based on a lukewarm outlook for 2016, which is expected to see a 10% drop in overall revenue, the prime driver of which is expected to be currency movements affecting their pre-tax profits to the tune of $1.3 billion.

Google

Google Image1Unfortunately, Google doesn’t breakout its cloud earnings, but if it were a significant percentage of the top line they would have done that by now.

One point to note here is that Google’s current CEO, Sundar Pichai, was Product Chief before he took over the top job, while Microsoft promoted a Cloud and Enterprise expert to the position – Satya Nadella. This has resulted in different scenarios evolving for each company. While Google, under the parent company Alphabet is primarily a product and services company that offers its tools on its own cloud, Microsoft is focused on mobile and cloud services – as expressed by its “mobile first, cloud first” objective.

But things seem to be heating up in Google’s cloud business:

Of significance is the fact that Apple has reportedly signed up to Google’s cloud service while reducing its spend with AWS. In the past, Apple has used both AWS as well as Microsoft Azure as cloud providers. With an estimated spend of $1 billion on cloud-related services, this is one client that they can’t afford to ignore. Sources are yet to confirm whether the $400 to $600 million spend with Google is a spend cap or an annual rate.

Google seems to be getting really serious about its cloud business. It recently hired VMware co-founder and former CEO Diane Greene as head of its cloud business, and she has been on a roll negotiating deals and entering partnerships with companies like Spotify, which hosts some of its music on the AWS cloud platform.

Stealing clients from right under the nose of a rival is a sign of how cutthroat the competition and pricing wars are getting in the cloud, and how eager every company is to best its competitors and win over their business.

Word has it that Google and Verizon are also working on a Verizon hybrid cloud service running on the Google Cloud platform.

CSC

This one’s a silent but strong player in the cloud game. CSC BizCloud is their private cloud offering, and they also offer the CSC Agility Platform for hybrid cloud management. Like Google, CSC also does not break out its cloud income, but as of 3Q 2015, the company declared a 34% YoY growth in overall cloud revenue, while the commercial cloud pipeline was marked at $1.6 billion at a 19% YoY growth rate. Their global infrastructure services (GIS) unit reported $864 million in sales for the last quarter.

More recently, the company signed a 6-year agreement with the Metropolitan Police Service in London, UK, that’s estimated at almost £95 million ($135 million.) The deal includes IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, and will result in 20,000 tablets in the hands of law enforcement officers to help them complete their “paperwork” and other reporting at the crime scene instead of forcing them to head back to headquarters each time.

In North America, CSC has significant ties with government organizations like NASA, the IRS, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and others. Many of these services are likely tied in to their cloud offering in one way or another, but since the company does not reports its cloud earnings as an individual line item, it’s impossible to break out.

Rackspace

Rackspace offers public, private and hybrid cloud solutions, as well as managed cloud services.  Of note is the fact that they also offering cloud management for Azure, AWS and Office 365, essentially siphoning money from sales pipelines that Amazon and Microsoft has built, yet not impinging on the latter’s revenues.

This approach is part of its larger strategy of dealing with big players such as Amazon and Microsoft threatening to dominate the cloud service space. Rackspace’s sales pitch to the market that’s increasingly gravitating towards bigger companies is: “who’s going to manage that for you?” In a business where price cuts are the name of the game and aggressive pricing strategy is a powerful way to win customers, Rackspace has found a nice little niche for itself – to the tune of $421 million as of 1Q 2014, which has already grown tremendously over the past year and a half; Rackspace reported revenues of $532 million for 4Q 2015, with a growing portion starting to come in from their managed offerings.

Rackspace is now gradually leaning towards being the world’s number one provider of AWS cloud management services. In that regard, the company already has over 230 technical certifications for AWS and more than 1100 technical and business accreditations.
The Rest of the Pack

Behind the companies we have mentioned are emerging players like Alibaba’s Alicloud and Centurylink. Alicloud is targeting its home market of China and other Asian countries.

The Nutshell

In summary, the three biggest players to emerge as leaders in the cloud infrastructure segment are, in order of direct IaaS revenues, AWS with $8+ billion, IBM with $4.5+ billion and Microsoft with $1.5+ billion.

I strongly believe that Google’s new head of cloud will make sure that she positions Alphabet as the fourth significant name over the next few years, which are critical for all of these companies.

According to research data from Goldman Sachs, the cloud infrastructure market will grow at a healthy 19.2% rate for the next few years. Valued at only around $40 billion right now, at that estimate the opportunity will be twice this size by 2019.

Amazon is the clear leader for now, and has been for a long time. But with this kind of growth expected over the coming years, Microsoft, IBM and even Google have a shot at usurping their pole position.

At Microsoft, their focus is clearly on mobile and cloud, and this has positioned them to take the lead over IBM in terms of revenue from cloud infra services. In addition, the success of Office 365 puts additional pressure on Google as well as IBM to step up their game levels.

Meanwhile, Rackspace and CSC are silently moving in their own respective niches trying to gain cloud market share.

The cloud industry is big enough to support all of these companies, but it remains to be seen which one actually emerges as the clear and permanent leader over the next 3-5 years.

Will it be Amazon, which has already surged past the others? Will it be Microsoft, which has a cloud expert at the helm and a clear roadmap for cloud success? Or perhaps IBM, which has access to the largest Enterprise client base in the world? Or could it be Google that surprises us all after taking a bite of Apple from right under Amazon’s nose?

As an investor, you should be considering the positives and negatives of each company’s cloud presence and the niche they are hoping to dominate within that vast landscape.

Don’t just look at where they are now; look at what they’re doing, how they’re growing their client portfolios, what types of deals they’re striking, what innovative revenue streams they’re creating, what new cloud-based technologies they’re offering, what niche markets they’re approaching with their cloud offerings and so on.

If you’re a new investor in the cloud or technology segment, I hope I’ve been able to give you some insight into the current scenario. If you already own stocks in these companies, I urge you to watch this part of their business closely because it will be a major factor in their overall growth.

If you’re a cloud expert and would like to see articles on specific areas – or contribute to the site, please shoot an email to Shudeep@1reddrop.com and I will get back to you as soon as I possibly can.

Cheers!

 

Rackspace Elbows Its Way Back Into The Cloud

  • Rackspace is out of the cloud race because it moved too slow when it had the opportunity.
  • But it’s not making the same mistake again. This time it has found a weak spot in the enemy’s armor and is going all out to take advantage of that.
  • The real question is: is this new business model sustainable? Will it be enough to replace its cloud income over time? The answer is one that you need to know.

That Rackspace (NYSE:RAX) has pretty much given up on its fight against Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is an old story. The company is now trying to position itself as a managed cloud services provider. But is this a model that can actually replace its cloud income, considering that its revenue growth is pivotal at this point? I plan to show how Rackspace has found an effective niche that takes advantage of a glaring gap in the cloud IaaS offerings of majors like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.

Not exactly a reenactment of the David and Goliath story – this is more of a “what if” version where David runs between Goliath’s legs and makes friends with the entire army standing behind Goliath, thereby averting a war.

Continue reading at Seekingalpha.com where the original article was published.

 

 

Microsoft High On Office 365 Success

  • Do you know how popular Office 365 is compared to Google Apps for Work? You’ll be surprised!
  • Microsoft’s sales strategy for Office 365 has been aggressive and controversial, but it has been extremely effective.
  • The ball is now in Google’s court. Can they respond with an equally aggressive strategy and astonish us with their numbers over the next few quarters?

When I first read about how Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was slowly edging out Google  Apps from the office suite space, I was a little surprised. To be honest, I didn’t really know the numbers, but I had a bias towards Google Apps. I’d been using it for quite a while and everyone I knew used it as well, so in my mind it was the best option in the business.

But the moment I started digging for the facts, I was shocked by how cleverly Microsoft has been going about decimating Google’s position in the top three – along with salesforce.com  and Box . I also found several interesting things about both Google Apps as well as Office 365.

A Primer on Office Suite from Google and Microsoft

An office suite from a cloud application perspective is a set of tools designed for businesses to operate more efficiently and with a much lower investment in IT infrastructure. It’s not an infrastructure service as much as an appealing cloud environment, where company employees can collaborate more effectively, access their files from anywhere without major security concerns and access the tools they need to do their jobs.

Continue reading at Seekingalpha.com where the original article was published.

Alphabet’s Google Weak On Cloud Numbers

Google only woke up to cloud late last year. Can it catch up to the three giants already way ahead in Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service?

What are the missing pieces of Google Cloud Platform’s success puzzle? And when will it start picking them up?

Diane Greene’s move from board member to senior management is a ray of sunshine, but will it be obscured by the dark cloud of its competitors’ success?

Over the past few weeks, since I started covering the cloud and related industries on Seeking Alpha, I’ve been astounded by the way some companies are going about the whole business of cloud.

On one extreme, there are those with first-mover advantage like Rackspace (NYSE:RAX) that lost their aggressiveness – and, subsequently their business – to the likes of Amazon’s AWS (NASDAQ:AMZN), yet are managing to claw their way back through a different route. And, on the other end, there are companies like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), which are only now waking up to the reality of cloud as a viable business vertical.

Market Share

That Google is a latecomer to the cloud party is kind of a well-kept secret. With the kind of expansive technology infrastructure it has, even Gartner considers it to be a “visionary” in Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Cloud IaaS).

Continue reading at Seekingalpha.com where the original article was published.

India Rolls Out Red Carpet For Marketplace E-Retailers, But With Riders

  • India announces 100% foreign direct investment allowance in the online marketplace segment.
  • This is a red carpet for international players to tap into what will be a $55 billion market in the next three years.
  • Of significance is the possible entrance of Alibaba in the form of a replication of their China model in India.
  • Amazon is in a fix because of one of the riders to the announcement, so it’s unclear whether they will take advantage of the new move.
  • Wal-Mart is still sitting outside this market, and this could be the opportunity they need. But will they respond?

The Indian Government yesterday announced the allowance of 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) for online marketplaces, but with several riders.

This new announcement is, indeed, game-changing because it gives Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) and other players a free run of one of the largest e-commerce markets in the world.

The riders themselves are possibly even more significant because they seem to encourage the likes of Alibaba more than Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) or any other e-commerce company.

Let’s see how that ties in with Alibaba’s target of reaching a Gross Merchandise Volume of 6 Trillion RMB by 2020. A few days ago, I published an article about how China had the potential to help them meet that goal, but there were several challenges that had to be overcome.

Continue reading at Seekingalpha.com where the original article was published.

Amazon Web Services holding profitability bag for Amazon

  • AWS is currently the highest net income earner for Amazon and continues to deliver double-digit net income.
  • Over the past three years, it has shown tremendous growth and profitability, and has been a support unit for Amazon’s overall profitability.
  • AWS is now a market share leader in the Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service segment, and experts say it will continue to dominate the space.

As a technology-based retail company, IT infrastructure could have easily become one of Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) biggest cost items, but Amazon deftly worked around it and converted a cost center to a profit-making business that is growing at such a speed that it is already making its presence felt in the company’s bottom line.

Amazon Web Services is the most profitable segment for the company, having brought in $1.86 billion in operating profits in 2015 at an eye-popping double-digit margin.

To put that in perspective, Amazon’s North America segment earned nearly eight times that for an additional operating profit of only $1 billion – a total of $2.75 billion.

Continue reading at Seekingalpha.com where the original article was published.

Oracle’s Cloud Service Fights To Compensate For Weakening Software And Hardware

  • Strong cloud growth for Oracle signals a shift in revenue stream structuring.
  • With software and hardware losing ground, the company still has a long way to go for cloud revenue to adequately support losses elsewhere.
  • Rather than going heavily into the aggressive IaaS market, ORCL should focus on core offerings in SaaS and PaaS by leveraging its expertise in ERP and HCM.

Oracle’s (NYSE:ORCL) third-quarter results were a mixed bag for the company, as revenues declined across the board with the exception of its cloud services.

Source: Oracle

Except for cloud, the sales decline was across the board. Total cloud revenues were up 31% while software sales declined by 5%, hardware by 11% and services by 5%. To be fair, to the company, things don’t look that bad when you look at the sales growth numbers on a constant-currency basis because total sales were actually up by 2%.

The main takeaway from these figures is that the company is shifting its focus from traditional hardware and software sales to cloud-related services – significantly, Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service. I’ll also show later Oracle is exploring every possible way to exploit the aggressive two-digit growth in the cloud market.

Continue reading at Seekingalpha.com where the original article was published.

Seekingalpha IBM Exclusive Interview Series 1: Inhi Cho Suh On The Future Of Analytics As A Service

A few days ago I was contacted by IBM’s (NYSE:IBM) corporate communications department and asked if I wanted to meet with some of their executives to learn more about specific areas of business, acquisition plans, strategies and key partnerships in cloud, analytics and other verticals.

After deeply considering the offer – for about half a nanosecond – I agreed.

My first interview was with Inhi Cho Suh, the newly appointed GM for Collaboration Solutions. Anyone who has seen Inhi at a conference or in a video knows that she breathes big data and analytics. Eighteen years at IBM has honed her skills to a razor’s edge, and when she speaks, you’re naturally drawn into her world of high technology.

The first interview essentially covered analytics and big data, and how IBM is revolutionizing that space by leveraging high-end applications to reach out to the small business owner as much as larger businesses and enterprises.

In the interview, Inhi passionately talks about how one small business owner starts out by “checking out” their analytics service for 15-20 minutes but spends three hours fascinated by the story of his own company and how the data he’s been sitting on is presented in such an engaging manner.

The uptake of their analytics-as-a-service was the starting point of this conversation and this article covers our discussion on this specific segment.

Continue reading at Seekingalpha.com where the Interview was published.

IBM: 2 Important Verticals To Watch

  • IBM’s rich acquisition history has now taken on two specific directions, and it’s clear where Rometty intends to take the business over the next few years.
  • These two segments are IBM’s biggest growth opportunities, and I see them catapulting the company into the future of technology in a way that will leave the competition far behind.
  • Their strategy for these two segments is a balanced one that will need aggressive movement to have any significant impact. Can they move fast enough, though?

IBM (NYSE:IBM) has been buying businesses in the craziest way possible. If you look at its acquisition history, it’s mind-boggling. For the purpose of this article, let’s take a look at how, more recently, IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty has been taking the 104-year-old giant into uncharted territories. And how IBM is trying to morph itself into a 21st Century company that can take on new-age competitors.

Rometty took over the reins of IBM in 2002. The 58-year-old current CEO and Chairwomen of IBM has been on Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” for ten years in a row, and there is a very good possibility that someday we will all recognize her as the woman who reshaped IBM’s future. Though we are still a long way away from calling her the best CEO IBM ever had, she is definitely pushing IBM into new business segments, while letting go of a few.

Continue reading at Seekingalpha.com where the original article was published.

IBM Cloud: Can It Save Second Place?

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  • IBM’s slow movement in the cloud space allowed Amazon to take the first-mover advantage and the lead in this segment.
  • The company’s infrastructure and business relationships are its strongest points in this area, but it needs to take control of the reins this time around.
  • Cloud application in the healthcare space is a tremendous opportunity, and the company is being proactive in this critical area.

IBM’s (NYSE:IBM) 10-year revenue chart looks downright ugly. After increasing revenue from $91.4 billion in 2006 to $106.92 billion in 2011, the IT major’s revenue has been on a downward slope, and I don’t see any signs of that slide arresting any time soon. In fact, the stock price is now near $130 – a level which the company first touched way back in 2000. So, nearly a decade and half later, the company is retracing the path it came from.

Let’s take a closer look at what happened to IBM and find out if its saving grace – its cloud business – can turn into its crown jewel.

In this article, I’ll show how IBM has the infrastructure, skill, experience and history to close the gap with the current market leader – Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Amazon Web Services (AWS) – and also the hurdles it’ll need to get over before it can see that happening.

Continue reading at Seekingalpha.com where the original article was published.

Cloud Investing: Buy The Space, Not One Company

  • Domination of the Cloud space will give that company an edge over every other technology company.
  • One has already emerged as a clear leader; another has the strong leadership and scalability to offer stiff competition.
  • Here’s why it’s a good idea for investors to put their money into an industry as a whole rather than a specific company.

Every business in the world is going to run on cloud eventually. -Sundar Pichai, CEO – Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)

The race to dominate the technology industry is underway, and has been for quite some time. Nearly every major tech player has been competing for the top spot, with each trying to outdo the rest. None have come that far yet, though two contenders are vying for pole position.

Who wins that war in the next five years will have a huge impact on the industry. As technology companies have shown time and time again, once you take the pole position in a specific tech space, no matter how many more laps are left, the rest of them can only attempt to play catchup with you.

Case in point: Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) Search never came close to Google’s Search – and they never will.

Continue reading at Seekingalpha.com where the original article was published.