Release: Zuora Z-Force 3.0

After announcing a version of Z-Commerce for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud computing platforms last month, Zuora announces this week a new major update for Z-Force.

Developed as an Apex Language application and hosted on the Salesforce Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud, the product already integrates with CRM.

Z-Force 3.0 introduces several new features:

  • Ability to create customer-ready quotes for upsells, amendments and change orders
  • Automatically calculate, display, and quote prorations and charges across multiple charge periods across complex charge models
  • One-click activation of orders to automatically kick off billing
  • 20x improvement in synchronization performance
  • Improved automation of data synchronization
  • Support for Chatter

IBM opens a second cloud computing data center in Europe

After the Cloud Computing Centre opened in Dublin in March 2008, IBM announces a second facility today: the Cloud Computing Competence Centre, in Ehningen, Germany.

Big Blue already has its biggest data center in that city. It will be extended to host the entire cloud computing offering of the company: the Smart Business Desktop and the Smart Business Development and Test.

This last piece of the offering has been in beta since March and is expected to go in production this fall.

Virtuon launches a VMware-powered Desktop-as-a-Service cloud

After Verizon, IBM (with its Smart Business Desktop) and tuCloud, the last vendor announcing a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) cloud computing offering is Virtuon.

A DaaS cloud actually is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud solely used to host and serve virtual desktops. It could be called an off-premises, on-demand VDI.

The Virtuon DaaS cloud, which is powered by VMware View 4 and supports PCoIP thin clients, serves Windows XP, Vista and 7 guest operating systems. And here the problems start.

So far no vendor has been able to offer a proper Windows DaaS offering because Microsoft licensing doesn’t allow to do so in any practical way.
As wrote almost one year ago:

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Amazon allows VMs custom Linux kernel on EC2

Amazon just announced a new, remarkable option available for customers of its Xen-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud computing platform: Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

From now on, the EC2 virtual machines (called Amazon Machine Images or IMAs) will be able to load custom Linux kernels.

Customers have to use a Linux kernel that supports the Xen’s pv_ops (paravirtual ops) infrastructure with XSAVE disabled or the Xen 3.0.2 interface, and perform some specific configuration steps.

To enable user provided kernels, Amazon has published a set of Amazon Kernel Images (AKIs) that use a system called PVGrub. PVGrub is a para‐virtual “mini‐OS” that runs a version of GNU GRUB, the standard Linux boot loader. PVGrub selects the kernel to boot by reading /boot/grub/menu.lst from your image. It will load the kernel specified by your image and then shutdown the “mini‐OS”, so that it no longer consumes any resources. One of the advantages of this solution is that PVGrub understands standard grub.conf or menu.lst commands, allowing it to work with most existing Linux distributions.

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What is the Intel Hybrid Cloud?

While the cloud computing market is still nascent and most aspects of it are changing every day, a few things should be well-defined at this point. Things like the definitions.
So far the Industry used to recognize three major architectures for cloud computing, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and four deployment models: public, private, hybrid and the community cloud.

When we talk about a hybrid cloud, we usually think about a private cloud that interconnects with a public one, or with a virtual private one, through a secure channel, some routing and a network fencing technology to overcome any networking conflict between the two segments.
In this scenario the customer is supposed to extend his private cloud infrastructure off-premises, and, whenever possible, to remotely control the virtual machines (if IaaS), the application framework (if PaaS) or the web-oriented services (if SaaS) that are hosted in the public cloud with his on-premises management tools.
But Intel is working on a product dubbed Hybrid Cloud that seems to work the other way around. Sort of.

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Morphlabs launches mCloud, secures $5.5M in Round B funding

Morphlabs is a US startup founded in 2007 by Winston Damarillo (CEO) and Guy Naor (CTO).
Damarillo founded a number of other startups (some acquired by IBM, Iona and Intalio) and he’s currently busy as Chairman also at G2iX and Exist Engineering, but most importantly he has been a venture capital executive at Intel Capital.

Morphlabs’ flagship product, mCloud, has been launched in April. It’s a management platform for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds. Anyway the product is not meant to control and extend an existing virtual infrastructure by managing all its virtual machines. It’s rather a full computing stack that orchestrates the deployment of a large amount of predefined VMs, to realize a cloud-in-a-box platform.
Such Linux VMs come preconfigured with a specific Linux distribution and specific applications: Ruby on Rails, Java, PHP, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Solr and ActiveMQ are the predefined templates at the moment, but customers can create their own templates.

mCloud leverages the open source automation and configuration management framework Puppet. Puppet currently supports only Linux operating systems, despite that Morphlabs managed to support Windows guest operating systems inside the recently released mCloud Controller 2.1.
mCloud also leverages the open source monitoring framework Nagios. Morphlabs developed an API for it to track virtual machines specific values like the vCPU or the vRAM load. 
It’s not clear what hypervisor or virtual infrastructure the product currently supports but considering the strong focus on open source it’s either Xen or KVM.

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Symplified brings SSO to Amazon EC2 with Trust Cloud

In mid-May the US startup Symplified launched a new product called Trust Cloud.

Symplified is focused on cloud computing security, and specifically on identity access management (IAM).
The company offers Single Sign-On (SSO) products that can run on Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service cloud platforms (, Google App Engine, Google Apps and many others are supported), as well as on-premises.

In its several forms, the flagship product, SinglePoint, allows Windows users to log into the multiple software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications that an enterprise uses just with their existing account credentials.
SinglePoint integrates with Microsoft Active Directory, mapping the Windows accounts and all the others owned by a firm to access online SaaS applications into a virtual LDAP directory.


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Amazon introduces the Cluster Compute Instances for EC2

At the beginning of this week Amazon announced a new kind of virtual machine (the Amazon Machine Image or AMI) available for its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) customers: the Cluster Compute Instance.

When launched, almost four years ago, EC2 offered just three AMIs: the small, the large and extra large instances, featuring no more than 15GB vRAM and no more than 4 virtual cores.
Over time Amazon enriched the offering by adding another five instances: three high-memory ones (with vRAM ranging from 17.1GB to 68.4GB) and two high-CPU ones (with 2 and 8 virtual cores).

The new Cluster Compute Instances have 23GB vRAM, 33.5 Compute Units (equal to 2 x Intel Xeon X5570 physical CPUs), 1690GB of local storage, 10Gbit Ethernet and a 64bit virtual hardware.

The new AMI, which doesn’t currently support Windows guest operating systems, is priced at $1.60 per hour and it’s only available for deployment at the North Virginia Amazon AWS data center in US.

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Microsoft to offer Azure on-premises – UPDATED

The Register just broke the news that Microsoft has made significant changes to its internal organization to push even more the emerging Azure platform. The company is in fact preparing to sell a version of Azure, apparently codenamed Project Talisker, that customers and hosting providers can run on-premises:

…Last December Microsoft shifted responsibility Azure’s development, business and marketing into S&T out from under chief software architect Ray Ozzie. Microsoft put development into the newly created server and cloud division with business and marketing joining Kelly’s infrastructure group.

Now, a brace of executives have also shifted to the Windows Azure team to drum up partners and developer adopters. Adam Skewgar and Haris Majeed will "help quickly define the future of the Windows Azure services" while senior director of platform strategy Robert Duffner moves from open source to jump-starting adoption of Azure among ISVs and developers. Duffner’s goal will be to translate his experience from working on ISVs and partners on open source to get adoption and build ubiquity for Azure…

Microsoft may unveil the new product this week at its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2010.
The Register also suggests that the on-premises version of Azure may be sold under an enterprise-based volume license.

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