For Online E-newspaper
The East African : December 9th 2013
The EastAfrican OUTLOOK DECEMBER 7-13,2013 e -AF R ICAN Google joins heavyweight competition in the cloud That battle fo≥ the public cloud is expected to cost the competito≥s billions of dolla≥s By QUENTIN HARDY Special Correspondent G oogle already runs much of the digital lives of consumers through e-mail, Internet searches and YouTube videos. Now it wants the corporations, too. The search giant has for years been evasive about its plans for a so-called public cloud of computers and data storage that is rented to individuals and businesses. Last Tuesday, it announced pricing, features and performance guarantees aimed at companies ranging from start-ups to multinationals. It is the latest salvo in an escalat- ing battle among some of the most influential companies in technology to control corporate and government computing through public clouds. That battle, which is expected to last years and cost the competitors billions of dollars annually in material and talent, includes Microsoft, IBM and Amazon. Big promises As businesses move from own- ing their own computers to renting data-crunching power and software over the Internet, this resource-rich foursome is making big promises about computing clouds. Supercomputing-based research, for example, will not be limited to organisations that can afford supercomputers. And tech companies POPULAR CLOUD STORAGE SERVICES COMPARISON (ANNUAL COST) Service Apple iCloud Box Dropbox Google Drive Microsoft SkyDrive Mega 1200 1500 million 300 600 900 Free Amazon Cloud Drive 5GB 5GB 5GB 2GB 5GB 7GB First payment tier 20GB ($10) 25GB ($40) 25GB ($120) 27GB ($10) CLOUD STORAGE SUBSCRIBER NUMBERS FORECAST 500m 2012 625m 2013 Google is cutting prices for most of its services like online data storage and computer processing by 10 per cent. The firm is also cutting its high- end data storage prices by 60 per cent while offering access to larger with a hot idea will get big fast because they will not have to build their own computer networks. 700m 2014 810m 2015 1bn Second payment tier 50GB ($25) 50GB ($100) 50GB ($240) 100GB ($100) 200GB ($200) 25GB ($30) 100GB ($60) 57GB ($25) 50GB 400GB ($120) 2TB ($240) 1.3bn offer from Facebook. It processes 4,000 pictures a second on Google’s servers but is just two years old and has fewer than 30 employees. The company started out working with a Google service that helps young companies create applications and was chosen by Google to be an early customer of its cloud. Working with Google has al- lowed Snapchat to avoid spending a lot to support its users. “I’ve never owned a computer server,” said Bobby Murphy, a cofounder and the chief technical officer of Snapchat. Popular service That is a big shift from the days when, for young companies, knowing how to build a complex data centre was just as important as creating a popular service. “These things are incredibly fast — setting up new servers in a minute, when it used to take several weeks to order, install and test,” said Chris Gaun, an analyst with Gartner. “Finance, product research, crunching supercomputing data like genomic information can all happen faster.” Amazon’s cloud, called Amazon 2016 and more complex computing systems. It is also guaranteeing that critical projects will remain working 99.95 per cent of the time, far better performance than in most corporate data centres. Take Snapchat, the photo-swap- ping service that recently turned down a multibillion-dollar takeover (New York Times News Service) Ai≥tel in deal with telcos alliance fo≥ cheape≥ se≥vices By OKUTTAH MARK Special Correspondent AIRTEL HAS joined the Bridge Alliance in a pact that allows the firm’s subscribers to access voice and data services through the partners’ network. Bridge Alliance is a global mobile network made up of 14 operators serving more than 500 million customers, while Airtel has operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa. Airtel is the largest telecomms service pro- vider across the continent in terms of geographical reach. The countries outside Africa covered by Bridge Alliance operators are Australia, Bangladesh, East Timor, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Bharti Airtel has signed a partnership deal with the alliance of global telcos that will see it offer cheaper roaming services outside the 17 countries that it operates in. The Bridge Alliance has 714 roaming agree- New Airtel deal makes roaming and data services cheaper outside its operation areas. Picture: File ments, including 238 each for voice and data, and 238 for pre-paid services. The deal will see Airtel benefit from discount- ed roaming rates agreed among the partners as opposed to the commercial market rates levied between the operators before the deal. “Airtel Africa will extend its geographical reach, with simplified and competitive roaming, data and voice services,” said Alessandro Adriani, chief executive officer of Bridge Alliance. Airtel had not made public the discounted rates by the time of going to press. The Indian firm will reciprocate by providing cheaper roaming deals where the 14 other operators do not have a presence. Home network Roaming is a service that enables a mobile phone customer, while outside the geographical coverage area of their home network, to access services they subscribe to at home. In a statement, Andre Beyers, chief marketing officer at Airtel Africa, said: “It is important to be part of a strong alliance that can enhance the efficiency of our business operations.” The partnership is also expected to enable Airtel to provide tailored solutions to serve enterprises wishing to procure mobile services regionally. 2017 Sources: Institution of Engineering and Technology, IHS Web Services, was arguably the pioneer of the public cloud and for now is the largest player. Amazon says its cloud has “hundreds of thousands” of customers. Although most of these are individuals and small businesses, it also counts big names like Netflix, which stopped building its own data centres in 2008 and was completely on Amazon’s cloud by 2012. All of Amazon’s services are run inside that cloud, too. A more traditional consumer goods company, 3M, uses Microsoft’s public cloud, called Azure, to process images for 20,000 individuals and companies in 50 countries to analyse various product designs. Microsoft says Azure handles 100 petabytes of data a day, roughly 700 years of HD movies. BRIEFS African giants vie for the technology pie in the sky Cloud computing uptake is about to explode in Africa’s major economies, as businesses gain confidence in both the security and reliability of the cloud. A new study by World Wide Worx and Cisco conducted among a small but representative sample of senior information technology decision-makers in medium-sized and large companies in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa shows that about 50 per cent of South African businesses are using cloud services while 48 per cent are using it in Kenya and 36 per cent in Nigeria. Microsoft and copyright watchdog to fight piracy Computer software manufacturer Microsoft, through its Kenya outlet, has joined the Kenya Copyright Board to fight counterfeit software in the market. The two organisations will conduct joint raids and arrest individuals and companies that sell pirated items. “We want to educate Kenyans on the benefits of genuine software for businesses in terms of reliability and security as well as the associated risks for businesses and consumers who use counterfeit software,” said Marisella Ouma, executive director of the Kenya Copyright Board. 33 Pirated software. Pic: File New Samsung digital TVs don’t need set-top boxes Samsung electronics has introduced television sets with an inbuilt analog signal convertor that eliminates the need to buy set-top boxes. The Samsung F Series does not require a decoder box to receive digital free-to-air TV programmes. Samsung Electronics East Africa chief operating officer Robert Ngeru, said: “Our consumers will save, as they will not have to invest in a convertor.” Residents of Nairobi and its environs are expected to migrate to the digital TV platform in the next two weeks. Kenya plans to increase ICT contribution to economy The Communications Commission of Kenya has unveiled a five-year strategic plan to increase the contribution of the ICT sector to GDP from 2.2 per cent to 5 per cent, and mobile penetration from 75.8 per cent to 90 per cent by 2018. If things go as planned, wireless broadband will grow to 10 per cent in the next five years, from the current 2.4 per cent. CCK also aims to increase Internet penetration from 41.6 per cent to 70 per cent.
December 2nd 2013
December 16th 2013