All posts by Richy George

Salesforce is buying MuleSoft at enterprise value of $6.5 billion

Posted by on 20 March, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Salesforce today announced that it intends to buy MuleSoft in a deal valued at a whopping $6.5 billion. That’s not the selling price, but the amount the company has been valued at based on stocks, bonds and cash on hand. The exact price was not available yet, but the company did indicate it was paying 44.89 per share for Mulesoft, a price that represents 36 percent premium over yesterday’s closing price, according to Salesforce .

What’s more, the deal values each MuleSoft share at $36 in cash and 0.0711 shares of Salesforce common stock.

Rumors began swirling this morning after a story broke by Reuters that the CRM giant was interested in MuleSoft, which launched in 2006, and went public almost exactly a year ago.  It gives Salesforce a mature company to add to its arsenal with 1200 customers. It also gives them an API integration engine that should help the company access data across organizations regardless of where it lives.

This is particularly important for Salesforce, which tends to come in and work with a company across enterprise systems. As it builds out its artificial intelligence and machine learning layer, which it has branded as Einstein, it needs access to data across the company. A company like MuleSoft gives them that.

But of course, Salesforce gets more than tech with this purchase, which it can integrate into its growing family of products. It also gets major customers like Coca-Cola, VMware, GE, Accenture, Airbus, AT&T and Cisco. While Salesforce may have a presence already in some of these companies already, Mulesoft gives them entree into areas they might not have had and gives them the ability to expand that presence.

What’s more, the company has big revenue goals. Having reached $10 billion in revenue faster than any software company ever has, a point that Chairman and co-founder Marc Benioff has been happy to make, they have actually set their sites on $60 billion by 2034. That’s a long way away, of course, but having a company like MuleSoft in the fold, which made $300 million in revenue will certainly help.

This is a developing story.

Posted Under: Tech News
Oracle’s cloud biz heading in the wrong direction right now

Posted by on 20 March, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Oracle announced its quarterly earnings last night, detailing that its cloud business grew 32 percent to $1.6 billion in the quarter. That might sound good at first blush, but it’s part of three straight quarters of reduced growth — a fact that had investors jittery over night. It didn’t get better throughout the day today with Oracle’s stock plunging over 9 percent as of this writing.

When you consider that enterprise business is shifting rapidly to the cloud, and that the cloud business in general is growing quickly, Oracle’s cloud numbers could be reason for concern. While it’s hard to nail down what “cloud” means when it comes to technology companies’ earnings because it varies so much in how each one counts infrastructure, software, or platform; the general trend from Oracle seems contrary to the eye-popping growth numbers we have seen from other companies.

Oracle against the world

Oracle’s cloud revenue broke down as follows: SaaS, up 33 percent to $1.2 billion, and platform and infrastructure revenue combined up 28 percent to $415 million. To put those figures into context, consider that last quarter Alibaba reported overall cloud revenue of $533 million,which was up a whopping 104 percent year over year.

Looking purely at Infrastructure services, Canalys reported that in the third quarter of 2017, Microsoft grew at around 90 percent year over year, while Google grew around 75 percent YoY. Even market leader Amazon, which controls over 30 percent of the market, had around a 40 percent growth rate, fairly remarkable given its size.

All of that suggests that Oracle, which came to the cloud late, should be on a higher growth trajectory than it’s currently showing.That’s because it’s generally easier to grow from a small number than it is from a big number to bigger number (as Amazon has had to do).

The company’s on-prem software revenue continues to grow (which includes lucrative license and maintenance revenue from existing customers), and still accounts for the vast majority of its top line. However, at this point, you would think Oracle would want to see that revenue growth shifting away from on-prem and towards its cloud business.

What’s worse is that co-CEO Safra Catz predicted in the earnings call with analysts that the cloud growth could dive even further next quarter. “Cloud revenues including SaaS, PaaS and IaaS [all cloud business combined] are expected to grow 19% to 23% in USD, 17% to 21% in constant currency,” she told analysts this week.

Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz Photo: KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty Images

Looking for a brighter future

Chairman Larry Ellison tried to point to the fully automated cloud database product announced at Oracle OpenWorld last fall as a proof point of a brighter cloud future, but so far the numbers are not bearing that out. It’s worth noting that he did also indicate that more automated cloud products are on the way.

Oracle has spent the last several years putting a lot of cloud pieces together, and as Catz pointed out, they don’t have to invest further to handle additional capacity in their SaaS business, but with the numbers heading in the wrong direction that may not be the problem.

Oracle certainly has enterprise credibility, and that should bode well for its cloud business, but as a late comer to the market we should be seeing much brisker overall growth than this. Over time that may happen, but for now Wall Street was not happy with Oracle’s results and the firm probably has to show more from its cloud products before they can change investors’ minds.

Posted Under: Tech News
Windows Server 2019 is now available in preview

Posted by on 20 March, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Microsoft today announced the next version of Windows Server, which launches later this year under the not completely unexpected moniker of “Windows Server 2019.” Developers and operations teams that want to get access to the bits can now get the first preview build through Microsoft’s Insider Program.

This next version comes with plenty of new features, but it’s also worth noting that this is the next release in the Long-Term Servicing Channel for Windows Server, which means that customers will get five years of mainstream support and can get an extra five years of extended support. Users also can opt for a semi-annual channel that features — surprise — two releases per year for those teams that want to get faster access to new features. Microsoft recommends the long-term option for infrastructure scenarios like running SQL Server or SharePoint.

So what’s new in Windows Server 2019? Given Microsoft’s focus on hybrid cloud deployments, it’s no surprise that Windows Server also embraces these scenarios. Specifically, this means that Windows Server 2019 will be able to easily connect to Microsoft Azure and that users will be able to integrate Azure Backup, File Sync, disaster recover and other services into they Windows Server deployments.

Microsoft also added a number of new security features, which are mostly based on what the company has learned from running Azure and previous version of Windows. These include new shielded VMs for protecting Linux applications and support for Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, one of Microsoft’s flagship security products that helps guard machines against attacks and zero-day exploits.

With this release, Microsoft is also bringing its container technologies from the semi-annual release channel to the long-term release channel. These include the ability to run Linux containers on Windows and the Windows Subsystem for Linux that enables this, as well as the ability to run Bash scripts on Windows. And for those of you who are really into containers, Microsoft also today noted that it will offer more container orchestration choices, including Kubernetes support, soon. These will first come to the semi-annual channel, though.

You can find a more detailed breakdown of what’s new in this release here.

Posted Under: Tech News
Salesforce is reportedly in talks to acquire Mulesoft and the stock is going nuts

Posted by on 20 March, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

After previously investing in Mulesoft, it looks like Salesforce may finish off the deal and is in advanced talks to acquire the data management software provider altogether, according to a report from Reuters this morning.

Mulesoft works with companies to bring together different sources of data like varying APIs. That’s important for companies that have data coming in from all over the place, whether that’s online applications or actual devices, and the company says it has Netflix and Spotify as customers. It would also give Salesforce another piece of the lock-in puzzle for enterprises that need to increasingly manage larger and larger pools of data as they look to start pumping out machine learning tools that can act on all that data.

As usual, these talks could fall apart — we saw this happen with Twitter a few years ago after the company looked at buying what was essentially the largest customer service channel on the planet (as in, great for whining at brands) — but Reuters reports that the deal could be announced as soon as this week. Mulesoft’s stock jumped nearly 20% this year after it went public last year amid a wave of enterprise IPOs jumping through the so-called IPO window while it’s open.

Salesforce is increasingly making a push into AI with products like Einstein, which it launched in 2016. Those tools give businesses predictive services and recommendations, a hallmark of what can come out of increasing piles of data based on customer activity. But all of that data has to come from somewhere, and for now, there are providers outside of the Salesforce ecosystem that stitch all that together. Having it all in one central place makes it easier to parse them through these machine learning algorithms and start building predictive models for their operations.

We reached out to Salesforce and Mulesoft for comment and will update the post when we hear back.

Posted Under: Tech News
Mythic nets $40M to create a new breed of efficient AI-focused hardware

Posted by on 20 March, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Another huge financing round is coming in for an AI company today, this time for a startup called Mythic getting a fresh $40 million as it appears massive deals are closing left and right in the sector.

Mythic particularly focuses on the inference side of AI operations — basically making the calculation on the spot for something based off an extensively-trained model. The chips are designed to be low power, small, and achieve the same kind of performance you’d expect from a GPU in terms of the lightning-fast operations that algorithms need to perform to figure out whether or not that thing your car is about to run into is a cat or just some text on the road. SoftBank Ventures led this most-recent round of funding, with a strategic investment also coming from Lockheed Martin Ventures. ARM executive Rene Haas will also be joining the company’s board of directors.

“The key to getting really high performance and really good energy efficiency is to keep everything on the chip,” Henry said. “The minute you have to go outside the chip to memory, you lose all performance and energy. It just goes out the window. Knowing that, we found that you can actually leverage flash memory in a very special way. The limit there is, it’s for inference only, but we’re only going after the inference market — it’s gonna be huge. On top of that, the challenge is getting the processors and memory as close together as possible so you don’t have to move around the data on the chip.”

Mythic, like other startups, is looking to ease the back-and-forth trips to memory on the processors in order to speed things up and lower the power consumption, and CEO Michael Henry says the company has figured out how to essentially do the operations — based in a field of mathematics called linear algebra — on flash memory itself.

Mythic’s approach is designed to be what Henry calls more analog. To visualize how it might work, imagine a set-up in Minecraft, with a number of different strings of blocks leading to an end gate. If you flipped a switch to turn 50 of those strings on with some unit value, leaving the rest off, and joined them at the end and saw the combined final result of the power, you would have completed something similar to an addition operation leading to a sum of 50 units. Mythic’s chips are designed to do something not so dissimilar, finding ways to complete those kinds of analog operations for addition and multiplication in order to handle the computational requirements for an inference operation. The end result, Henry says, consumes less power and dissipates less heat while still getting just enough accuracy to get the right solution (more technically: the calculations are 8-bit results).

After that, the challenge is sticking a layer on top of that to make it look and behave like a normal chip to a developer. The goal is to, like other players in the AI hardware space, just plug into frameworks like TensorFlow. Those frameworks abstract out all the complicated tooling and tuning required for such a specific piece of hardware and make it very approachable and easy for developers to start building machine learning projects. Andrew Feldman, CEO of another AI hardware startup called Cerebras Systems, said at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet conference last month that frameworks like TensorFlow had  most of the value Nvidia had building up an ecosystem for developers on its own system.

Henry, too, is a big TensorFlow fan. And for good reason: it’s because of frameworks like TensorFlow that allow next-generation chip ideas to even get off the ground in the first place. These kinds of frameworks, which have become increasingly popular with developers, have abstracted out the complexity of working with specific low-level hardware like a field programmable gate array (FPGA) or a GPU. That’s made building machine learning-based operations much easier for developers and led to an explosion of activity when it comes to machine learning, whether it’s speech or image recognition among a number of other use cases.

“Things like TensorFlow make our lives so much easier,” Henry said. “Once you have a neural network described on TensorFlow, it’s on us to take that and translate that onto our chip. We can abstract that difficulty by having an automatic compiler.”

While many of these companies are talking about getting massive performance gains over a GPU — and, to be sure, Henry hopes that’ll be the case — the near term goal for Mythic is to match the performance of a $1,000 GPU while showing it can take up less space and consume less power. There’s a market for the card that customers can hot swap in right away. Henry says the company is focused on using a PCI-E interface, a very common plug-and-play system, and that’s it.

The challenge for Mythic, however, is going to get into the actual design of some of the hardware that comes out. It’s one thing to sell a bunch of cards that companies can stick into their existing hardware, but it’s another to get embedded into the actual pieces of hardware themselves — which is what’s going to need to happen if it wants to be a true workhorse for devices on the edge, like security cameras or things handling speech recognition. That makes the buying cycle a little more difficult, but at the same time, there will be billions of devices out there that need advanced hardware to power their inference operations.

“If we can sell a PCI card, you buy it and drop it in right away, but those are usually for low-volume, high-selling price products,” Henry said. “The other customers we serve design you into the hardware products. That’s a longer cycle, that can take upwards of a year. For that, typically the volumes are much higher. The nice thing is that you’re really really sticky. If they design you into a product you’re really sticky. We can go after both, we can go after board sales, and then go after design.”

There are probably going to be two big walls to Mythic, much less any of the other players out there. The first is that none of these companies have shipped a product. While Mythic, or other companies, might have a proof-of-concept chip that can drop on the table, getting a production-ready piece of next-generation silicon is a dramatic undertaking. Then there’s the process of not only getting people to buy the hardware, but actually convincing them that they’ll have the systems in place to ensure that developers will build on that hardware. Mythic says it plans to have a sample for customers by the end of the year, with a production product by 2019.

That also explains why Mythic, along with those other startups, are able to raise enormous rounds of money — which means there’s going to be a lot of competition amongst all of them. Here’s a quick list of what fundraising has happened so far: SambaNova Systems raised $56 million last week; Graphcore raised $50 million in November last year; Cerebras Systems’s first round was $25 million in December 2016; and this isn’t even counting an increasing amount of activity happening among companies in China. There’s still definitely a segment of investors that consider the space way too hot (and there is, indeed, a ton of funding) or potentially unnecessary if you don’t need the bleeding edge efficiency or power of these products.

And there are, of course, the elephants in the room in the form of Nvidia and to a lesser extent Intel. The latter is betting big on FPGA and other products, while Nvidia has snapped up most of the market thanks to GPUs being much more efficient at the kind of math needed for AI. The play for all these startups is they can be faster, more efficient, or in the case of Mythic, cheaper than all those other options. It remains to be seen whether they’ll unseat Nvidia, but nonetheless there’s an enormous amount of funding flowing in.

“The question is, is someone going to be able to beat Nvidia when they have the valuation and cash reserves,” Henry said. “But the thing, is we’re in a different market. We’re going after the edge, we’re going after things embedded inside phones and cars and drones and robotics, for applications like AR and VR, and it’s just really a different market. When investors analyze us they have to think of us differently. They don’t think, is this the one that wins Nvidia, they think, are one or more of these powder keg markets explode. It’s a different conversation for us because we’re an edge company.”

Posted Under: Tech News
7 Reasons to Consider Refurbished IT Hardware

Posted by on 26 January, 2015

IT hardware procurement process can be a challenging one for any organization.  If you are an IT professional or a business owner, there are various options available that must be sorted through to meet key priorities and requirements.  When it comes to buying IT hardware, refurbished equipment is a viable option to consider seriously. It provides an array of undeniable benefits including performance, quality and flexibility at great price points.  Following are seven notable benefits your organization can rely on when opting for refurbished IT equipment.

Cost

Companies can procure refurbished IT equipment at a mere fraction of OEMs’ pricing. Opting for refurbished IT hardware can help stretch budget, afford larger projects, and even have extra hardware on hand in case of disaster recovery or if any backup is necessary.

The latest and highest end technology is not always an affordable option for small businesses, schools, and nonprofits. However, by choosing refurbished IT hardware, one can gain access to the latest technology regardless of their budget.

Refurbished hardware is an excellent way for organizations to increase buying power while benefiting substantial cost savings.

Quality

IT refurbishers go above and beyond when it comes to quality control. Experienced, trained and certified technicians rigorously test, diagnose and refurbish all IT hardware to ensure that its performance – both functionally and cosmetically – rivals that of any brand-new computer.

Microsoft registered refurbishers (MRR) are an elite group of refurbishers who take quality to whole new level by following Microsoft’s certified refurbishing processes. The MRR certification enables refurbishers to load and authenticate Windows OS legally on any Windows-based machine.

Sustainability

Refurbished IT hardware is very eco-friendly. If “going green” is a priority in your technology choices, buying refurbished IT hardware is an ideal decision. Refurbishing and reusing not only prevents electronics from ending up in landfills, but also eliminates the need to manufacture new electronics.

Buying and using refurbished equipment is a form of electronic recycling that offers numerous benefits to both the organization using it and the environment.

Flexibility

IT hardware refurbishers will work within and according to a customer’s needs and requirements as well as their limitations. Typically, this much flexibility is not available when buying directly from traditional retailers.

Refurbishers can customize specs to meet exact technology hardware requirements and offer a variety of prices to meet virtually any budget. They also offer flexible warranty, extended coverage options, payment options and terms, such as PayPal, net terms and more.

Warranty

IT refurbishers can offer among the best warranties available today. In many cases, they provide hassle-free advance replacements, which mean replacement product will be shipped out before receiving the product being returned. This system offers a level of convenience and customer service that simply cannot be found when buying directly from OEMs. IT refurbishers offer flexible warranty options and extended warranty coverages as well.

Obtain Hard to Find or Obsolete Equipment

Sometimes, finding legacy equipment can be very challenging. Refurbishers are well-equipped sources of OEM discontinued hardware, which is helpful for companies running proprietary software and hardware that sometimes requires older hardware.

Selection

When compared to OEMs, you’ll find many IT hardware refurbishers offer a much larger inventory pool, including brands such as Apple, Dell, HP, Lenovo and more.

Clearly, these advantages point to one undeniable conclusion: refurbished IT hardware can provide customers with substantial flexibility, service and savings. Whether you are a small business, educational institution, nonprofit or part of any organization that requires IT equipment to function, an IT refurbisher can provide one-stop-shopping for all of your IT needs.

Posted Under: Refurbished IT Hardware
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