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A year of healthy progress along Microsoft strategic ambitions

Microsoft Stock Price for the last 5 years — July 22, 2016:Microsoft Stock Price for the last 5 years -- 22 July, 2016 My earlier posts related specifically to this 3 years overall transition history:
– Microsoft partners empowered with ‘cloud first’, high-value and next-gen experiences for big data, enterprise social, and mobility on wide variety of Windows devices and Windows Server + Windows Azure + Visual Studio as the platform as of July 10, 2013
– Microsoft reorg for delivering/supporting high-value experiences/activities as of July 11, 2013
– An ARM-focussed Microsoft spin-off could be the only solution to save Microsoft in the crucial next 3-years period as of August 24, 2013
– Opinion Leaders and Lead Opinions: Reflections on Steven Sinofsky’s “Era of Continuous Productivity” vision as of September 1, 2013
– The question mark over Wintel’s future will hang in the air for two more years as of September 15, 2013
– Microsoft could be acquired in years to come by Amazon? The joke of the day, or a certain possibility (among other ones)? as of September 16, 2013
– Sinofsky’s ‘continuous productivity’ idea to be realised first in Box Notes as of September 21, 2013
MS FY15 NEW STRATEGIC SETUPMicrosoft is transitioning to a world with more usage and more software driven value add (rather than the old device driven world) in mobility and the cloud, the latter also helping to grow the server business well above its peers as of April 25, 2014
– Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft as of July 23, 2014
– Steve Ballmer on leaving Microsoft, relationship with Bill Gates: “We’ve dusted-up many times”, on His Biggest Regret: “doing hardware earlier [for being] more effective in phone business” AND on Amazon: “They Make No Money.” as October 25, 2014
– The Empire Reboots — Can C.E.O. Satya Nadella Save Microsoft? | Vanity Fair, Oct 27, 2014

WPC Day 1: The Digital Transformation Opportunity from Microsoft Partner Network UK Blog as of July 11, 2016:

“Empower every person and every
organisation on the planet to achieve more”
The Microsoft Mission

At the core of today’s opening Worldwide Partner Conference keynote was ‘Digital Transformation’ aka the desire of CEO’s to use technology to change business outcomes – whether it be how they:

  • Engage their customers,
  • Empower employees to make better decisions,
  • Optimise their operations,
  • Build up the predictive power within their organisations so that every operation is intelligent,
  • Transform their products and services.

Digital Transformation = An Unprecedented Partner Opportunity

Every customer of every size business (startup to Enterprise) is not only looking to use digital technology, but to build digital technology for their own.

Digital-transformatoin-all-partner-types1-1024x530[1]

Businesses are looking to drive greater efficiency – automating processes and enhancing productivity, particularly in those areas where there are operating expenses. This poses an unprecedented opportunity for you no matter what partner type you are.

Digital Transformation Opportunity by Microsoft and Partners -- July 11, 2016Microsoft Ambitions to Drive Digital Transformation

Microsoft has three core ambitions which play a fundamental part in digitally transforming businesses:

  • Re-inventing Productivity and Business process
  • Building the Intelligent Cloud
  • Create more Personal Computing

These will be covered in more detail over the next two days keynotes, however, Satya provided some great examples of what these 3 ambitions entail.

1) Re-inventing Productivity and Business Process

This is all about removing the barriers between productivity tools and business applications. Satya focused on two key areas:

  • ‘Conversations as a Platform’: Using human language understanding personal assistants and Bots (conversational interfaces) which augment our connection with technologies. (Watch the demo 48 minutes into Day 1 Keynote)

2) Building out the intelligent Cloud

To showcase how intelligent cloud is helping transformation, Satya invited General Electric CEO, Jeff Immelt, on stage to discuss how he has digitally transformed the GE business.

Considering GE is over 140 years old, it’s a company that has embraced transformation and digital transformation. You can read more about their story and find out about Microsoft’s new partnership with GE to bring Predix to Azure, accelerating digital transformation for industrial customers.

Satya then went on to talk about ‘The next phase of building the Intelligent cloud’ with ‘Cognitive services’.  We’re seeing the beginnings of a new platform for cognitive services. Microsoft has taken decades of research from Microsoft Research encapsulating speech, computer vision, natural language text understanding, and made these available as API’s. These API’s are being used to infuse perception into apps – the ability for Apps/Bots to understand speech and see i.e. computer vision. These cognitive capabilities are capable of transforming business by bringing productivity gains. A great example of this is how Macdonalds are creating efficiency in their Drive Thru’s with speech/order recognition (Watch the demo 1 hour 10 minutes into the Day 1 keynote).

3) Create More Personal Computing

Create more personal computing was the third and final ambition covered. Satya discussed Windows 10 – an OS system spanning multiple devices from Raspberry PI to Hololens and bringing centralised infrastructure benefits and cost savings to business.

It was on the topic of Hololens, he discussed how personal computing is shaped by category creation moments. Moments where input and output change. ‘Mixed Reality’ is that moment. With Hololens its created an interface changing moment – Mixing real with virtual, enabling us to be anywhere and everywhere – fully untethered and mobile.

What followed was a great demo showcasing how Japan Airlines are using Microsoft HoloLens to change how they train flight crews and mechanics (Watch the demo 1 hour 17 minutes into the Day 1 keynote)

Mixed reality offers huge opportunities for partners with so many applications across so many sectors.

Expect more details on Digital Transformation and Microsoft’s three ambitions in WPC Day 2 and 3 keynotes.

News From WPC2016 Day 1

The three ambitions announced a year ago and the proof-points of healthy progress along them in FY16:

  1. Office 365, Dynamics 365, AppSource, and LinkedIn as all being part of one overarching strategy in Productivity and Business Process:
    – core part of an overarching strategy
    – digital transformation both for us and our partnerships with customers
  2. Significant differentiation vs. Amazon AWS in Intelligent Cloud:
    – enterprise cloud leadership
    – every customer is also an ISV
    – hyperscale-plus-hybrid approach with annuity focus enabling cloud lead conversation with customers
    – meeting cloud needs of customers where they are
  3. Windows strategy to achieve progress in More Personal Computing:
    – deliver more value and innovation, particularly for enterprise customers
    – grow new monetization through services across our unified Windows platform
    – innovate in new device categories in partnership with our OEMs

The Q1FY16 progress was presented in my Microsoft is ready to become a dominant force in cloud computing with superior cloud offerings, a Windows ecosystem under complete renewal, first signs of Surface-Lumia-Xbox successes on the market, and strong interest in technology partnerships by other industry leaders as of October 24, 2015.

Reinvent Productivity and Business Processes“, “Build the Intelligent Cloud” and “Create More Personal Computing” were the original 3 “interlocking ambitions” the Microsoft CEO talked about at Microsoft Iginite held on May 4-8, 2015 in Chicago. The proof-points of FY16 progress are shown along that list, and explained in detail by remarks from Microsoft (MSFT) Satya Nadella on Q4 2016 Results – Earnings Call Transcript as of July 18, 2016.

For more information see also:  Q4 2015 Earning Call Transcript, the 2015 Annual Report or—even better—my earlier posts indicated here under each ambition. For a deeper strategic intent underlying these ambilitions see my earlier post Julia Liuson: “Microsoft must transform from a company that throws a box with software into the market … into a company that offers pure services” published on These ambitions also became reporting segments in FY16. See Earnings Release FY16 Q1 as of October 22, 2015. The major corporate groups were also organised along these line: ASG = Application & Services Group for “Reinvent productivity and business processes” ambition, C&E = Cloud & Enterprise for “Build the intelligent cloud platform” ambition, and OSG= Operating Systems Group for “Create more personal computing” ambition.

Note that the overall strategic approach was developed 2 years ago and it was described in my post Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft of July 23, 2014:

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Here are the remarks from Microsoft (MSFT) Satya Nadella on Q4 2016 Results – Earnings Call Transcript as of July 18, 2016. for details

1. Office 365, Dynamics 365, AppSource, and LinkedIn as all being part of one overarching strategy in Productivity and Business Process:

For initial and additional details available earlier see my earlier posts:
– The first “post-Ballmer” offering launched: with Power BI for Office 365 everyone can analyze, visualize and share data in the cloud as of February 10, 2014
– OneNote is available now on every platform (+free!!) and supported by cloud services API for application and device builders as of March 18, 2014
– An upcoming new era: personalised, pro-active search and discovery experiences for Office 365 (Oslo) as of April 2, 2014
– Microsoft Azure: Marketable machine learning components capability for “a new data science economy”, and real-time analytics for Azure HDInsight service as of October 22, 2014

In fact, this last quarter, some of the most strategic announcements were all around our application platform. At our partner conference, there was a significant amount of excitement with the tools that we announced like PowerApps and Power BI, Azure functions and Flow. These are tools that our developers and system integrators and solution partners will use in order to be able to customize applications around Azure. And so to me that’s another huge advantage and a competitive differentiation for us.

1.1 Core part of an overarching strategy

The move to the cloud for our customers and for us is not just about a new way of delivering the same value just as a SaaS service. It’s really the transformation from having applications that are silos to becoming more services in the cloud where you can reason about the activity and the data underneath these services to benefit the customers who are using these services. So that’s what this notion of a graph [by Microsoft Graph] represents.

So when somebody moves to Office 365, their graph [by Microsoft Graph], their people, their relationships with other people inside the organization, their work artifacts all move to the cloud. You can connect them with all the business process data that’s in Dynamics 365, but not just in Dynamics 365 but all the applications in AppSource because business process will always be a much more fragmented market as opposed to just one market share leader by industry, by vertical, by country. And so that’s our strategy there.

And now the professional cloud or the professional network helps usage across all of that professional usage. Whether it’s in Office 365 or whether you’re a salesperson using any application related to sales, you want your professional network there. Of course, it’s relevant in recruiting, it’s relevant in training, it’s relevant in marketing. So that’s really our strategy with LinkedIn as the professional network meeting the professional cloud. And these are all part of one overarching strategy, and ultimately it’s about adding value to customers.

1.2 Digital transformation both for us and our partnerships with customers

This past year was a pivotal one in both our transformation and in our partnerships with customers who are also driving their own digital transformation. Our progress is best captured in the results of our three ambitions, starting with Productivity and Business Process. In a world of infinite information but finite attention and time, we aim to change the nature of work with digital technology. In pursuit of this ambition, we continue to add value to our products, grow usage, and increase our addressable market. Along these lines, let me start with Office 365 and then move to Dynamics 365.

In the last quarter, we advanced our collaboration tools. We launched Microsoft Planner, which helps teams manage operations, as well as Skype Meetings, which is aimed at helping small businesses collaborate. In June, we further strengthened our security value proposition with the release of Advanced Security Management.

Lastly, we continue to add intelligence in machine learning to Office to help people automate their tasks and glean insights from data. These advancements helped to drive increased usage across enterprises, small and medium businesses, and consumers. In the enterprise, Office 365 Commercial seats grew 45% year over year, and revenue grew 59% in constant currency. Also 70% of our Office Enterprise agreement renewals are in the cloud. Innovative companies like Facebook, Hershey’s, Discovery Communications, Cushman Wakefield all adopted Office 365 and now see how transformative this service can be for their own business.

We are enthusiastic about the early feedback and growth opportunity from companies using our newly released Office 365 E5, which includes powerful security controls, advanced analytics, and cloud voice. These customers tell us that they love the simplification that comes with standardizing across all of our productivity workloads.

We will continue to grow our install base and drive premium mix through offers like Office 365 E5, but they’re very, very early days of E5. And E5 value proposition across all three of the areas, whether it’s cloud voice or analytics or security are all three massive areas for us. And I would say if anything, the initial data from our customers around security is gaining a lot of traction. But at the same time, one of the things that customers are looking for is making an enterprise-wide architectural decision across all of the workloads.

We see momentum in small and medium businesses, with a growing number of partners selling Office 365, now up to nearly 90,000, a 25% increase year over year. We continue to grab share and adding over 50,000 customers each month for 28 consecutive months.

We also see momentum amongst consumers, with now more than 23 million Office 365 subscribers. Across segments, customers increasingly experience the power of Office on their iOS and Android mobile devices. In fact, we now have more than 50 million iOS and Android monthly active devices, up more than four times over last year.

Now let’s talk about progress with the other pillar of this ambition, Dynamics 365. We are removing any impedance that exists between productivity, collaboration, and business process. This month we took a major step forward with the introduction of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource. Dynamics 365 provides business users with purpose-built SaaS applications. These applications have intelligence built in. They integrate deeply with communications and collaboration capabilities of Office 365.

Dynamics 365 along with AppSource and our rich application platform introduces a disruptive and customer-centric business model so customers can build what they want and use just the capabilities they need. The launch of Dynamics 365 builds on the momentum we’re already seeing in this business. Customers around the globe are harnessing the power of Dynamics in their own transformation, including 24 Hour Fitness and AccuWeather. Overall, Dynamics now has nearly 10 million monthly paid seats, up more than 20% year over year, and Q4 billings grew more than 20% year over year.

Overall, Business Processes represent an enormous addressable market, projected to be more than $100 billion by 2020. It’s a market we are increasingly focused on, and I believe we are poised with both Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource to grow and drive opportunity for our partners.

Across Office 365 and Dynamics 365, developers increasingly see the opportunity to build innovative apps and experiences with the Microsoft Graph, and we now have over 27,000 apps connected to it. Microsoft AppSource will be a new way for developers to offer their services and reach customers worldwide.

Lastly, with Office 365 and Dynamics 365, we have the opportunity to connect the world’s professional cloud and the world’s professional network with our pending LinkedIn deal. Overall, the Microsoft Cloud is winning significant customer support. With more than $12 billion in Commercial Cloud annualized revenue run rate, we are on track to achieve our goal of $20 billion in fiscal year 2018. Also, nearly 60% of the Fortune 500 companies have at least three of our cloud offerings. And we continue to grow our annuity mix of our business. In fact, commercial annuity mix increased year over year to 83%.

2. Significant differentiation vs. Amazon AWS in Intelligent Cloud 

For initial and additional details available earlier see my earlier posts:
– Windows Azure becoming an unbeatable offering on the cloud computing market as of June 28, 2013
Microsoft partners empowered with ‘cloud first’, high-value and next-gen experiences for big data, enterprise social, and mobility on wide variety of Windows devices and Windows Server + Windows Azure + Visual Studio as the platform as of July 10, 2013

– 4. Microsoft products for the Cloud OS [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, as of Dec 18, 2013, but published only on Feb 14, 2014] (was separated from the next “half bakedness” post because of its length)
– 4.5. Microsoft talking about Cloud OS and private clouds: starting with Ray Ozzie in November, 2009[‘Experiencing the Cloud’, as of Dec 18, 2013, but published only on Feb 14, 2014] (was separated from the next “half bakedness” post because of its length)
Microsoft’s half-baked cloud computing strategy (H1’FY14) as of February 17, 2014 Note that this “half bakedness” ended by the facts published in Microsoft is ready to become a dominant force in cloud computing with superior cloud offerings, a Windows ecosystem under complete renewal, first signs of Surface-Lumia-Xbox successes on the market, and strong interest in technology partnerships by other industry leaders as of October 24, 2014
– Microsoft is transitioning to a world with more usage and more software driven value add (rather than the old device driven world) in mobility and the cloud, the latter also helping to grow the server business well above its peers as of April 25, 2014
– Microsoft BUILD 2014 Day 2: “rebranding” to Microsoft Azure and moving toward a comprehensive set of fully-integrated backend services as of April 27, 2014
– Scott Guthrie about changes under Nadella, the competition with Amazon, and what differentiates Microsoft’s cloud products as of October 2, 2014
– Sam Guckenheimer on Microsoft Developer Division’s Journey to Cloud Cadence as of October 19, 2014
– Microsoft Azure: Marketable machine learning components capability for “a new data science economy”, and real-time analytics for Azure HDInsight service as of October 22, 2014
Microsoft Cloud state-of-the-art: Hyper-scale Azure with host SDN — IaaS 2.0 — Hybrid flexibility and freedom as of July 11, 2015
– Microsoft’s first quarter proving its ability to become a dominant force in cloud computing with superior cloud offerings as of Januar 27, 2015
– DataStax: a fully distributed and highly secure transactional database platform that is “always on” as of February 3, 2016
– Microsoft chairman: The transition to a subscription-based cloud business isn’t fast enough. Revamp the sales force for cloud-based selling as of June 6, 2016

Cloud Growth Helps Microsoft Beat Street in Q4 from TheStreet as of July 19, 2016 

… [0:34] and Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility [Suite]
customers nearly doubled YoY to 33,000. [0:40] …

Note that the Q1FY16 report was that “Enterprise Mobility [Suite] customers more than doubled year-over-year to over 20,000, and the installed base grew nearly 6x year-over-year“. Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) is a service available in the CSP (Cloud Solution Partner program) along with Windows Intune, Office 365, Azure and CRM Online. The reason for that very impressive growth was given by Satya Nadella in the much earlier Q2FY15 report as:

Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite is one key of product innovation that I would like to highlight given the growth and uniqueness of our offering. Microsoft offers a comprehensive solution that brings together mobile device management, mobile application management, hybrid identity management and data protection into a unified offering via EMS.

Office 365 now includes new app experiences on all phones and tablets for mobile productivity.  Further, we have released completely new scenarios. This includes Office Sway for visualizing and sharing ideas; Delve, to help search and discover content; Office 365 Groups to make it easier to collaborate; andOffice 365 Video for secure media streaming for businesses.

Finally, we continue to invest in enterprise value by integrating MDM and the Enterprise Mobility Suite into Office 365; new encryption technologies and compliance certifications; and new eDiscovery capabilities in Exchange.

Overall at the highest level, our strategy here is to make sure that the Microsoft Services i.e. cloud services be it Azure, Office 365, CRM Online or Enterprise Mobility Suite are covering all the devices out there in the marketplace. So that, that way we maximize the opportunity we have for each of these subscription and capacity based services.

2.1 Enterprise cloud leadership

Now let’s get into the specifics of the Intelligent Cloud, an area of massive opportunity, as we are clearly one of the two enterprise cloud leaders. Companies looking to digitally transform need a trusted cloud partner and turn to Microsoft. As a result, Azure revenue and usage again grew by more than 100% this quarter. We see customers choose Microsoft for three reasons. They want a cloud provider that offers solutions that reflect the realities of today’s world and their enterprise-grade needs. They want higher level services to drive digital transformation, and they want a cloud open to developers of all types. Let me expand on each.

To start, a wide variety of customers turn to Azure because of their specific real-world needs. Multinationals choose us because we are the only hybrid and hyperscale cloud spanning multiple jurisdictions. We cover more countries and regions than any other cloud provider, from North America to Asia to Europe to Latin America. Our cloud respects data sovereignty and makes it possible for an enterprise application to work across these regions and jurisdictions. More than 80% of the world’s largest banks are Azure customers because of our leadership support for regulatory requirements, advanced security, and commitment to privacy. Large ISVs like SAP and Citrix as well as startups like Sprinklr also choose Azure because of our global reach and a broad set of platform services. Last week GE announced it will adopt our cloud for its IoT approach.

Next, Azure customers also value our unique higher-level services. Now at 33,000, we nearly doubled in one year the number of companies worldwide that have selected our Enterprise Mobility Solutions. The Dow Chemical Company leverages EMS along with Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics to give its thousands of employees secure real-time access to data and apps from anywhere.

Just yesterday, we announced Boeing will use Azure, our IoT suite, and Cortana Intelligence to drive digital transformation in commercial aviation, with connected airline systems optimization, predictive maintenance, and much more. This builds on great momentum in IoT, including our work with Rolls-Royce, Schneider Electric, and others.

This is great progress, but our ambitions are set even higher. Our Intelligent Cloud also enables cognitive services. Cortana Intelligence Suite offers machine learning capabilities and advanced predictive analytics. Customers like Jabil Circuit, Fruit of the Loom, Land O’Lakes, LIBER already realize the benefits of these new capabilities.

Lastly, central to our Intelligent Cloud ambition is providing developers with the tools and capabilities they need to build apps and services for the platforms and devices of their choice. We have the best support for what I would say is the most open platform for all developers. Not only is .NET first class but Linux is first class, Java is first class. The new Azure Container service cuts across both containers running on Windows, running across Linux. So again, it speaks to the enterprise reality. .NET Core 1.0 for open source and our ongoing work with companies such as Red Hat, Docker, and Mesosphere also reflects significant progress on this front. We continue to see traction from open source, with nearly a third of customer virtual machines on Azure running Linux.

So those would be the places where we are fairly differentiated, and that’s what you see us gaining both for enterprise customers and ISVs.

On the server side, premium server revenue grew double digits in constant currency year over year. New SQL Server 2016 helps us expand into new markets with built-in advanced analytics and unparalleled performance. More than 15,000 customers, including over 50% of the Fortune 500, have registered for the private preview of SQL Server for Linux. And we’re not slowing down. We will launch Windows Server 2016 and System Server 2016 later this year.

2.2 Every customer is also an ISV

One of the phenomena now is that pretty much anyone who is a customer of Azure is also in some form an ISV, and that’s no longer just limited to people who are “in the classic tech industry” or the software business. So every customer who starts off consuming Azure is also turning what is their IP in most cases into an ISV solution, which ultimately will even participate in AppSource. So at least the vision that we have is that every customer is a digital company that will have a digital IP component to it, and that we want to be able to partner with them in pretty unique ways.

That’s the same case with GE. It’s the same case with Boeing. It’s the same case with Schneider Electric or ABB or any one of the customers we are working with because they all are taking some of their assets and converting them into SaaS applications on Azure. And that’s something that we will in fact have distribution agreements with.

And AppSource is a pretty major announcement for us because we essentially created for SaaS applications and infrastructure applications a way to distribute their applications through us and our channel. And I think it makes in fact our cloud more attractive to many of them because of that. So we look – I think going forward, you’ll look to see – or you’ll see us do much more of this with many other customers of ours.

2.3 Hyperscale-plus-hybrid approach with annuity focus enabling cloud lead conversation with customers

The focus for us is in what I describe as this hyperscale-plus-hybrid approach when you think about the current approach, which is pretty unique to us. Overall, I believe this hyperscale plus hybrid architecturally helps us a lot with enterprise customers because we meet them where their realities are today and also the digital transformation needs going forward, so that’s one massive advantage we have.

And the way we track progress is to see how is our annuity growth of our server business, and how is our cloud growth. And if you look at this last quarter, our annuity grew double digits and our cloud grew triple digits. And that’s a pretty healthy growth rate, and that’s something that by design both in terms of the technical architecture as well as the traction we have in the marketplace and our sales efforts and so on are playing out well, and we are very bullish about that going forward.

The Transactional business is much more volatile because of the macro environment, IT budgets, and also the secular shift to the cloud. The question again that gets asked is about the cannibalization. But if you look at Boeing or you look at any of the other examples that I talk about when it comes to the cloud, our servers never did what these customers are now doing in our cloud. So at a fundamental long-term secular basis, we have new growth, new workloads, and that’s what we are focused on, and that’s a much bigger addressable market than anything our Transactional Server business had in the past.

[Amy E. Hood – Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President:]
The first thing really that I think Satya and I both focus on every quarter, every month, is how much of our business are we continuing to shift to annuity and specifically to the cloud. We structure all of our motions at this company, from how we engineer to how we do our go-to-markets to how we think about sales engagement to how we do our investments, fundamentally toward that long-term structural transition in the market.

In terms of server products and services, I tend to think of it as the all-up growth. It’s really about growing the cloud, growing the hybrid, and then whatever happens in the Transactional business happens.

And so to your question on Transactional performance, there were some deals that didn’t get done in Q3 that got done in Q4, and there were some deals done in Q4 on the Office side with large companies that I’m thrilled by. But at the same time, we still will focus on those deals moving to the cloud over time. And so this volatility that we are going to see because of macro and because of budget constraints, especially on Transactional, we will focus on because we expect excellent execution and have accountability to do that in the field. But our first priority, every time, is to make sure we are focused on annuity growth and digital transformation at our company, which is best done through that motion.

In terms of the sales motion they are absolutely incented more towards cloud versus Transactional going into this year.

I do believe that every conversation that we’re having with customers is cloud-led. That cloud-led conversation and making a plan for customers to best change and transform their own business certainly is a far more in-depth one than on occasion is required by long-time Transactional purchasers, especially in Office, as an example, because what we’re talking about now is really pivoting your business for the long term.

And so I’m sure there are examples where that has elongated the sales cycle, for good reason. But I would generally point back and say most of these are driven at the structural level, which is – structurally over time, on-premises Transactional business will move to the cloud or to a hybrid structure through an annuity revenue stream.
[END BY Amy E. Hood]

2.4 Meeting cloud needs of customers where they are

The position that we have taken is that we want to serve customers where they are and not assume very simplistically that the digital sovereignty needs of customers can be met out of a fewer data center approach. Because right now, given the secular trend to move to the cloud across all of the regulated industries across the globe, we think it’s wiser for us and our investors long term to be able to meet them where they are. And that’s what you see us. We are the only cloud that operates in China under Chinese law, the only cloud that operates in Germany under German law. And these are very critical competitive advantages to us.

And so we will track that, and we will be very demand driven. So in this case we’re not taking these positions of which regions to open and where to open them well in advance of our demand. If anything, I think our cycle times have significantly come down. So it will be demand-driven, but I don’t want to essentially put a cap because if the opportunity arises, and for us it’s a high ROI decision to open a new region, we will do so.

3. Windows strategy to achieve progress in More Personal Computing

For initial and additional details available earlier see my earlier posts:
– Windows Embedded is an enterprise business now, like the whole Windows business, with Handheld and Compact versions to lead in the overall Internet of Things market as well as of June 8, 2013
– How the device play will unfold in the new Microsoft organization? as of July 14, 2013
– With Android and forked Android smartphones as the industry standard Nokia relegated to a niche market status while Apple should radically alter its previous premium strategy for long term as of August 17, 2013
– Windows [inc. Phone] 8.x chances of becoming the alternative platform to iOS and Android: VERY SLIM as it is even more difficult for Microsoft now than any time before as of August 20, 2013
– Leading PC vendors of the past: Go enterprise or die! as of November 7, 2013
– Xamarin: C# developers of native “business” and “mobile workforce” applications now can easily work cross-platform, for Android and iOS clients as well as of November 15, 2013
Microsoft is transitioning to a world with more usage and more software driven value add (rather than the old device driven world) in mobility and the cloud, the latter also helping to grow the server business well above its peers as of April 25, 2014
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is the ultimate tablet product from Microsoft. What the market response will be? as of May 21, 2014
Windows 10 Technical Preview: Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore on the future of Windows as of October 1, 2014
– The Era Of Sub-$90 Windows 8.1 Phones in U.S. as of October 3, 2014
– Windows 10 is here to help regain Microsoft’s leading position in ICT as of July 31, 2015
– Microsoft and partners to capitalize on Continuum for Phones instead of the exited Microsoft phone business as of June 5, 2016

We have increased Windows 10 monthly active devices and are now at more than 350 million. This is the fastest adoption rate of any prior Windows release. While we are proud of these results, given changes to our phone plan, we changed how we will assess progress. Going forward, we will track progress by regularly reporting the growth of Windows 10 monthly active devices in addition to progress on three aspects of our Windows strategy:

3.1 Deliver more value and innovation, particularly for enterprise customers

We continue to pursue our goal of moving people from needing Windows to choosing Windows to loving Windows. In two weeks, we will launch Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which takes a significant step forward in security. We are also extending Windows Hello to support apps and websites and delivering a range of new features like Windows Ink and updates to Microsoft Edge. We expect these advances will drive increased adoption of Windows 10, particularly in the enterprise, in the coming year. We already have strong traction, with over 96% of our enterprise customers piloting Windows 10.

3.2 Grow new monetization through services across our unified Windows platform

As we grow our install base and engagement, we generate more opportunity for Microsoft and our ecosystem. Bing profitability continues to grow, with greater than 40% of the search revenue in June from Windows 10 devices. Bing PC query share in the United States approached 22% this quarter, not including volume from AOL and Yahoo!. The Cortana search box has over 100 million monthly active users, with 8 billion questions asked to date.

We continue to drive growth in gaming by connecting fans on Xbox Live across Windows 10, iOS, and Android. Just this quarter we launched our Minecraft Realm subscription on Android and iOS. Overall engagement on Xbox Live is at record levels, with more than 49 million monthly active users, up 33% year over year. At E3 we announced our biggest lineup of exclusive games ever for Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. And we announced Xbox Play Anywhere titles, where gamers can buy a game once and play it on both their Windows 10 PC and Xbox One. We also announced two new members of the Xbox One console family, the Xbox One S and Project Scorpio.

The Windows Store continues to grow, with new universal Windows apps like Bank of America, Roku, SiriusXM, Instagram, Facebook, Wine, Hulu, and popular PC games like Quantum Break.

3.3 Innovate in new device categories in partnership with our OEMs

Our hardware partners are embracing the new personal computing vision, with over 1,500 new devices designed to take advantage of Windows 10 innovations like Touch, Pen, Hello, and better performance and power efficiency.

Microsoft’s family of Surface devices continues to drive category growth, and we are reaching more commercial customers of all sizes with the support of our channel partners. We recently announced new Surface enterprise initiatives with IBM and Booz Allen Hamilton to enable more customer segments. Also in the past year, we grew our commercial Surface partner channel from over 150 to over 10,000.

Lastly this quarter, more and more developers and enterprise customers got to experience two entirely new device categories from Microsoft Surface Hub and Microsoft HoloLens. While we are still in the early days of both of these devices, we are seeing great traction with both enterprise customers and developers, making us optimistic about future growth.

What is behind the ARM Holding’s acquisition by SoftBank Group?

Update: Recently SoftBank Group among other Silicon Valley notaries such as Apple and Facebook, have poured over $100 billion into a new Softbank “vision Fund” that Founder Masayoshi Son says is going to be used to help develop AI. This is allocated to spending on emerging technology companies in the next 5 years. To put that number in perspective, the entire global venture capital “industry” is only $65 billion in size. Here is his presentation about that from MWC 2017:
March 3, 2017: Globalfuturist.org: Softbank CEO, Masayoshi Son Keynote at MWC 2017 (25 and half min)

The How to Invest in the Singularity – It’s Near from June 3, 2017 will also give you a deep analysis of this initiative. Highly recommended!
End of Update

The quick answer is that “ARM is the driver of the IoT era” when every thing is interconnected. Another reason is that they have been steadily working in an early investment mode from very beginning, and quite successfully.

SoftBank CEO and Founder Masayoshi Son has been referring back to the PC and Internet era when his company invested into Yahoo US which had only 16 employees then. In the beginning of PC broadband they have invested into mobile internet. And now is one of the biggest paradigm shifts is coming BIG TIME, that is IoT — he says. Some of his quotes shed light on what kind of perspective he is thinking of:

I truly believe Singularity [*] is coming and that computers will one day become smarter than mankind.

Every street light will be interconnected to the internet because we can save when car is not passing.

Automobile will all be connected so driverless car much safer.

All the things will be connected and what is biggest common denominator, that is Arm.

Technological singularity (Wikipedia): “is a hypothetical event in which an upgradable intelligent agent (such as a computer running software-based artificial general intelligence) enters a ‘runaway reaction’ of self-improvement cycles, with each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly, causing an intelligence explosion and resulting in a powerful superintelligence that would, qualitatively, far surpass all human intelligence.[1][2] This would signal the end of the human era, as the new superintelligence would continue to upgrade itself and would advance technologically at an incomprehensible rate.[3]
For more information see the rest of the Wikipedia article.

And about the automobile opportunity alone he said:

I would say automobile is becoming smarter and smarter so when automobile becomes so smart it is required to have more and more chips integrated inside the car, especially when it becomes a driverless car. Automotive itself will become a super computer which consists of a bunch of multiple chips so ARM will be going into that market very aggressively.

More information along these lines see in the SoftBank CEO: the average person will have 1,000 internet-connected devices by 2040 article by Tech in Asia.

July 18, 2016: ARM CEO Simon Segars about SoftBank acquisition 

Official video released at https://www.acceleratingtech.com/ a site to explain the SoftBank acquisition of ARM, they claim:
– SoftBank’s £17 offer price gives ARM shareholders a 43% premium on Friday’s closing share price and a 41.1% premium on the all-time high share price
– Assurance to double ARM’s UK headcount in the next five years and increase headcount outside the UK
– Leaves ARM’s successful partnership business model, culture and brand unchanged
– Great endorsement of UK tech

July 18, 2016: Acquisition of ARM Holdings plc
Background and Rationale by SoftBank Group Corp.
(from Recommended Acquisition of ARM by SoftBank)

The acquisition of ARM by SBG will deliver the following benefits:

  • Support and accelerate ARM’s position as the global leader in intellectual property licensing and R&D outsourcing for semiconductor companies

SBG’s deep industry expertise and global network of relationships will accelerate adoption of ARM’s intellectual property across existing and new markets.

  • Maintain ARM’s dedication to innovation

SBG intends to sustain ARM’s long-term focus on generating more value per device, and driving licensing wins and future royalty streams in new growth categories, specifically “Enterprise and Embedded Intelligence.”

  • Increased investment to drive the next wave of innovation

SBG intends to support ARM’s multiple growth initiatives by investing in engineering talent and complementary acquisitions with the aim of ensuring ARM maintains a R&D edge over existing and emerging competitors. SBG believes such an investment strategy in long-term growth will be easier to execute as a non-listed company.

  • Shared culture and long-term vision

SBG believes the two companies share the same technology-oriented culture, long-term vision, focus on innovation and commitment to attracting, developing and retaining top talent. These common values will be the foundation for the strong strategic partnership necessary to capture the significant opportunities ahead.

  • Maintain and grow the UK’s leadership in science and technology

SBG is investing in the UK as a world leader in science and technology development and innovation and, as evidence of this, intends to invest in multiple ARM growth initiatives, at least doubling the number of ARM employees in the UK over the next five years.

July 18, 2016: Our Business Model (from Presentation material (English) (PDF) )

SoftBank Group Corp. Business Model -- 18 July 2016

Everything in violet color has been added by myself to the slide.

July 2015, from CEO Message:

Transformation into “SoftBank 2.0”

Thirty-four years have now passed since the foundation of SoftBank, and so far, our position has been one of SoftBank holding assets in overseas companies as a company in Japan. Now, however, we are going to the second stage of SoftBank—“SoftBank 2.0”—in which we will transform SoftBank into a truly global company that can ensure sustained business growth over the long term. We are now in a major transition period.

As the founder, I have set out to create a business model that can deliver continued business growth for centuries. However, many technology companies face the common challenge of a 30-year life cycle where growth is followed by decline. This decline stems from factors such as the increasing obsolescence of technologies and business models, and an over-reliance on founders.

What is the solution? Not only do we need to transform our existing businesses, we also need to have a comprehensive structure in place for supporting disruptive entrepreneurs and facilitating continued development with them.

… [the rest is to see at the place of original]

July 18, 2016Press Conference: ARM to be acquired by SoftBank

Japanese SoftBank CEO and Founder Masayoshi Son (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Masayoshi+Son), the richest person in Japan, speaks at the SoftBank Press Conference to announce the acquisition of ARM Holdings for $31.4 Billion, SoftBank promises to keep the same business model for ARM, to increase the employee count in the UK by 2x within the next 5 years, to increase ARM’s employee count around the world. You can read the official presentation materials here:
http://www.softbank.jp/corp/d/sbg_press_en/list/pdf/pressconference_01/material_en.pdf
[i.e. Presentation material (English) (PDF)]

July 2015, Major Subsidiaries

Company Name Voting Rights (%) Principal Business Activities

Mobile Communications Segment

SoftBank Mobile Corp.*1                         100 Mobile communications services, sale of mobile devices
BB Mobile Corp.                         100 Holding company
Ymobile Corporation*1*2                        99,7 Mobile broadband services, development and sale of communications devices, ADSL services, PHS-based mobile communications services
GungHo Online Entertainment, Inc.*3 40.2
[18.6]*
Production and distribution of online games for smartphones and other devices
Wireless City Planning Inc.                        33,3 Planning and provision of mobile broadband services
SoftBank Commerce & Service Corp.*5                         100 Manufacture, distribution, and sale of IT-related products, IT-related services
Brightstar Global Group Inc.                         100 Holding company
Brightstar Corp.                         100 Mobile device distribution, supply chain solutions, handset protection and insurance, buy-back and trade-in, omnichannel solutions and financial services
GRAVITY Co., Ltd.*6                        59,3 Planning, development, and operations of online games
Supercell Oy*7                        53,7 Production and distribution of mobile game applications

Sprint Segment

Sprint Corporation                        79,5 Holding company
Sprint Communications, Inc.                         100 Mobile communications services, sale of mobile devices and accessories, fixed-line telecommunications services

Fixed-line Telecommunications Segment

SoftBank BB Corp.*1                         100 ADSL services, IP telephony services
SoftBank Telecom Corp.*1                         100 Fixed-line telephone services, data transmission and leased-line services

Internet Segment

Yahoo Japan Corporation                        43,0 Operation of the Yahoo ! JAPAN portal, sale of Internet advertising, operation of e-commerce sites, membership services
IDC Frontier Inc.                         100 Data center business
ValueCommerce Co., Ltd.                        50,6 Ad affiliate marketing service, StoreMatch online advertising distribution service

Others

Mobiletech Corporation                         100 Holding company
SB Energy Corp.                         100 Generation of electricity from renewable energy sources, supply and sale of electricity
SoftBank Payment Service Corp.                         100 Settlement services, card services and related services
Fukuoka SoftBank HAWKS Corp.                         100 Ownership of professional baseball team, operation of baseball games, management and maintenance of baseball stadium and other sports facilities, distribution of video, voice and data content via media
SoftBank Robotics Holdings Corp.                         100 Planning, development, and sale of robots
SBBM Corporation                         100 Holding company
ITmedia Inc.                        57,9 Operation of comprehensive IT information site ITmedia, etc.
SoftBank Technology Corp.                        55,4 Solutions and services for online businesses
Vector Inc.                        52,4 Operation, sales, and marketing of online games, software downloads, advertising
SFJ Capital Limited                         100 Procurement of funds by issuing preferred (restricted voting) securities
SB Group US, Inc.                         100 Holding company
SB CHINA HOLDINGS PTE LTD                         100 Holding company
SoftBank Ventures Korea Corp.                         100 Holding company
SoftBank Korea Corp.                         100 Holding company
Starburst I, Inc.                         100 Holding company
SoftBank Holdings Inc.                         100 Holding company
SoftBank America Inc.                         100 Holding company
STARFISH I PTE. LTD.                         100 Holding company
SB Pan Pacific Corporation                         100 Holding company
Hayate Corporation                         100 Holding company
*1   On April 1, 2015 SoftBank BB, SoftBank Telecom, and Ymobile, merged into SoftBank Mobile.  On July 1, 2015, SoftBank Mobile changed its company name to SoftBank Corp.
*2   eAccess merged with WILLCOM on June 1, 2014 and changed its company name to Ymobile on July 1, 2014.
*3   As a result of the completion of a tender offer by GungHo for its shares on June 1, 2015, and other factors, GungHo became an equity method associate of SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.).  Please refer to page 190 for details.
*4   Holdings by parties in close relationships, etc., with SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.)
*5   SoftBank BB Corp., divided its commerce and service business and newly established SoftBank C&S on April 1, 2014.  All shares of SoftBank C&S held by SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.) were transferred to a wholly owned subsidiary of Brightstar.
*6   Since GRAVITY Co., Ltd.’s parent company GungHo is an equity method associate, as noted in *3, as of the publication of this annual report, GRAVITY is not a subsidiary of SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.).
*7   The Company purchased additional shares of Supercell from existing shareholders on May 29, 2015.  After this transaction, the Company’s share of voting rights stands at 77.8%.

July 2015, Major Associates

Company Name Voting Rights (%) Principal Business Activities

Internet Segment

ASKUL Corporation                    41,9 Mail order sales of stationary, office products, services, etc.
The Japan Net Bank, Limited                    41,2 Banking business
BOOKOFF CORPORATION LIMITED                    15,0 Auction service and reuse business

Others

Scigineer Inc.                    33,2 Provision of Internet marketing support services using the personalized engine “deqwas” for e-commerce business operators and retailers
Bharti SoftBank Holdings Pte. Ltd.                    50,0 Holding company
Renren Inc.                    43,0 Investor company of company operating Renren.com SNS site in China
Alibaba Group Holding Limited                    31,9 Investor company of companies operating e-commerce sites Alibaba.com, Taobao. com, and Tmall.com
InMobi Pte. Ltd.                    35,2 Mobile advertising services

Main Overseas Fund Data

Fund Name
Subsidiaries
SoftBank Ranger Venture Investment Partnership
SoftBank Capital Fund ’10 L.P.
Associates
SoftBank US Ventures VI L.P.
SoftBank Capital Technology Fund III L.P.

 

The Next Revolution: 3D XPoint™ non-volatile memories with speed and performance close to DRAM

UPDATE

June 20, 2017, Intel Online: How fast is Intel® Optane™ Memory? Performance results
Comparing two identical NUCs – one with Intel® Optane™ memory.

28%

14x

2x

Overall system performance is
up to 28% faster6 7 8
Increase system performance for hard drive access
by up to 14x faster 9 7 8
Improve everyday task responsiveness
by 2x 6 7 8

(more…)

DataStax: a fully distributed and highly secure transactional database platform that is “always on”

When an open-source database written in Java that runs primarily in production on Linux becomes THE solution for the cloud platform from Microsoft (i.e. Azure) in the fully distributed, highly secure and “always on” transactional database space then we should take a special note of that. This is the case of DataStax:

July 15, 2015: Building the intelligent cloud Scott Guthrie’s keynote on the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2015, the DataStax related segment in 7 minutes only 

Transcript:

SCOTT GUTHRIE, EVP of Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise:  What I’d like to do is invite three different partners now on stage, one an ISV, one an SI, and one a managed service provider to talk about how they’re taking advantage of our cloud offerings to accelerate their businesses and make their customers even more successful.

First, and I think, you know, being able to take advantage of all of these different capabilities that we now offer.

Now, the first partner I want to bring on stage is DataStax.  DataStax delivers an enterprise-grade NoSQL offering based on Apache Cassandra.  And they enable customers to build solutions that can scale across literally thousands of servers, which is perfect for a hyper-scale cloud environment.

And one of the customers that they’re working with is First American, who are deploying a solution on Microsoft Azure to provide richer insurance and settlement services to their customers.

What I’d like to do is invite Billy Bosworth, the CEO of DataStax, on stage to join me to talk about the partnership that we’ve had and how some of the great solutions that we’re building together.  Here’s Billy.  (Applause.)

Well, thanks for joining me, Billy.  And it’s great to have you here.

BILLY BOSWORTH, CEO of DataStax:  Thank you.  It’s a real privilege to be here today.

SCOTT GUTHRIE:  So tell us a little bit about DataStax and the technology you guys build.

BILLY BOSWORTH:  Sure.  At DataStax, we deliver Apache Cassandra in a database platform that is really purpose-built for the new performance and availability demands that are being generated by today’s Web, mobile and IOT applications.

With DataStax Enterprise, we give our customers a fully distributed and highly secure transactional database platform.

Now, that probably sounds like a lot of other database vendors out there as well.  But, Scott, we have something that’s really different and really important to us and our customers, and that’s the notion of being always on.  And when you talk about “always on” and transactional databases, things can get pretty complicated pretty fast, as you well know.

The reason for that is in an always-on world, the datacenter itself becomes a single point of failure.  And that means you have to build an architecture that is going to be comprehensive and include multiple datacenters.  That’s tough enough with almost any other piece of the software stack.  But for transactional databases, that is really problematic.

Fortunately, we have a masterless architecture in Apache Cassandra that allows us to have DataStax enterprise scale in a single datacenter or across multiple datacenters, and yet at the same time remain operationally simple.  So that’s really the core of what we do.

SCOTT GUTHRIE:  Is the always-on angle the key differentiator in terms of the customer fit with Azure?

BILLY BOSWORTH:  So if you think about deployment to multiple datacenters, especially and including Azure, it creates an immediate benefit.  Going back to your hybrid clouds comment, we see a lot of our customers that begin their journey on premises.  So they take their local datacenter, they install DataStax Enterprise, it’s an active database up and running.  And then they extend that database into Azure.

Now, when I say that, I don’t mean they do so for disaster recovery or failover, it is active everywhere.  So it is taking full read-write requests on premises and in Azure at the same time.

So if you lose connectivity to your physical datacenter, then the Azure active nodes simply take over.  And that’s great, and that solves the always-on problem.

But that’s not the only thing that Azure helps to solve.  Our applications, because of their nature, tend to drive incredibly high throughput.  So for us, hundreds of millions or even tens and hundreds of billions of transactions a day is actually quite common.

You guys are pretty good, Scott, but I don’t think you’ve changed the laws of physics yet.  And so the way that you get that kind of throughput with unbelievable performance demands, because our customers demand millisecond and microsecond response times, is you push the data closer to the end points.  You geographically distribute it.

Now, what our customers are realizing is they can try and build 19 datacenters across the world, which I’m sure was really cheap and easy to do, or they can just look at what you’ve already done and turn to a partnership like ours to say, “Help us understand how we do this with Azure.”

So not only do you get the always-on benefit, which is critical, but there’s also a very important performance element to this type of architecture as well.

SCOTT GUTHRIE:  Can you tell us a little bit about the work you did with First American on Azure?

BILLY BOSWORTH:  Yeah.  First American is a leading name in the title insurance and settlement services businesses.  In fact, they manage more titles on more properties than anybody in the world.

Every title comes with an associated set of metadata.  And that metadata becomes very important in the new way that they want to do business because each element of that needs to be transacted, searched, and done in real-time analysis to provide better information back to the customer in real time.

And so for that on the database side, because of the type of data and because of the scale, they needed something like DataStax Enterprise, which we’ve delivered.  But they didn’t want to fight all those battles of the architecture that we discussed on their own, and that’s where they turned to our partnership to incorporate Microsoft Azure as the infrastructure with DataStax Enterprise running on top.

And this is one of many engagements that you know we have going on in the field that are really, really exciting and indicative of the way customers are thinking about transforming their business.

SCOTT GUTHRIE:  So what’s it like working with Microsoft as a partner?

BILLY BOSWORTH:  I tell you, it’s unbelievable.  Or, maybe put differently, highly improbable that you and I are on stage together.  I want you guys to think about this.  Here’s the type of company we are.  We’re an open-source database written in Java that runs primarily in production on Linux.

Now, Scott, Microsoft has a couple of pretty good databases, of which I’m very familiar from my past, and open source and Java and Linux haven’t always been synonymous with Microsoft, right?

So I would say the odds of us being on stage were almost none.  But over the past year or two, the way that you guys have opened up your aperture to include technologies like ours — and I don’t just say “include.”  His team has embraced us in a way that is truly incredible.  For a company the size of Microsoft to make us feel the way we do is just remarkable given the fact that none of our technologies have been something that Microsoft has traditionally said is part of their family.

So I want to thank you and your team for all the work you’ve done.  It’s been a great experience, but we are architecting systems that are going to drive businesses for the coming decades.  And that is super exciting to have a partner like you engaged with us.

SCOTT GUTHRIE:  Fantastic.  Well, thank you so much for joining us on stage.

BILLY BOSWORTH:  Thanks, Scott.  (Applause.)

The typical data framework capabilities of DataStax in all respects is best understood via the the following webinar which presents Apache Spark as well as the part of the complete data platform solution:
– Apache Cassandra is the leading distributed database in use at thousands of sites with the world’s most demanding scalability and availability requirements.
Apache Spark is a distributed data analytics computing framework that has gained a lot of traction in processing large amounts of data in an efficient and user-friendly manner.
The joining of both provides a powerful combination of real-time data collection with analytics.
After a brief overview of Cassandra and Spark, (Cassandra till 16:39, Spark till 19:25) this class will dive into various aspects of the integration (from 19:26).
August 19, 2015: Big Data Analytics with Cassandra and Spark by Brian Hess, Senior Product Manager of Analytics, DataStax

September 23, 2015: DataStax Announces Strategic Collaboration with Microsoft, company press release

  • DataStax delivers a leading fully-distributed database for public and private cloud deployments
  • DataStax Enterprise on Microsoft Azure enables developers to develop, deploy and monitor enterprise-ready IoT, Web and mobile applications spanning public and private clouds
  • Scott Guthrie, EVP Cloud and Enterprise, Microsoft, to co-deliver Cassandra Summit 2015 keynote

SANTA CLARA, CA – September 23, 2015 – (Cassandra Summit 2015) DataStax, the company that delivers Apache Cassandra™ to the enterprise, today announced a strategic collaboration with Microsoft to deliver Internet of Things (IoT), Web and mobile applications in public, private or hybrid cloud environments. With DataStax Enterprise (DSE), a leading fully-distributed database platform, available on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, enterprises can quickly build high-performance applications that can massively scale and remain operationally simple across public and private clouds, with ease and at lightning speed.

Click to Tweet: #DataStax Announces Strategic Collaboration with @Microsoft at #CassandraSummit bit.ly/1V8KY4D

PERSPECTIVES ON THE NEWS

“At Microsoft we’re focused on enabling customers to run their businesses more productively and successfully,” said Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise, Microsoft. “As more organizations build their critical business applications in the cloud, DataStax has proved to be a natural  Azure partner through their ability to enable enterprises to build solutions that can scale across thousands of servers which is necessary in today’s hyper-scale cloud environment.”

“We are witnessing an increased adoption of DataStax Enterprise deployments in hybrid cloud environments, so closely aligning with Microsoft benefits any organization looking to quickly and easily build high-performance IoT, Web and mobile apps,” said Billy Bosworth, CEO, DataStax. “Working with a world-class organization like Microsoft has been an incredible experience and we look forward to continuing to work together to meet the needs of enterprises looking to successfully transition their business to the cloud.”

“As a leader in providing information and insight in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape, we knew it was critical to transform our back-end business processes to address scale and flexibility” said Graham Lammers, Director, IHS. “With DataStax Enterprise on Azure we are now able to create a next generation big data application to support the decision-making process of our customers across the globe.”

BUILD SIMPLE, SCALABLE AND ALWAY-ON APPS IN RECORD SPEED

To address the ever-increasing demands of modern businesses transitioning from on-premise to hybrid cloud environments, the DataStax Enterprise on Azure on-demand cloud database solution provides enterprises with both development and production ready Bring Your Own License (BYOL) DSE clusters that can be launched in minutes on theMicrosoft Azure Marketplace using Azure Resource Management (ARM) Templates. This enables the building of high-performance IoT, Web and mobile applications that can predictably scale across global Azure data centers with ease and at remarkable speed. Additional benefits include:

  • Hybrid Deployment: Easily move DSE workloads between data centers, service providers and Azure, and build hybrid applications that leverage resources across all three.
  • Simplicity: Easily manage, develop, deploy and monitor database clusters by eliminating data management complexities.
  • Scalability: Quickly replicate online applications globally across multiple data centers into the cloud/hybrid cloud environment.
  • Continuous Availability: DSE’s peer-to-peer architecture offers no single point of failure. DSE also provides maximum flexibility to distribute data where it’s needed most by replicating data across multiple data centers, the cloud and mixed cloud/on-premise environments.

MICROSOFT ENTERPRISE CLOUD ALLIANCE & FAST START PROGRAM

DataStax also announced it has joined Microsoft’s Enterprise Cloud Alliance, a collaboration that reinforces DataStax’scommitment to provide the best set of on-premise, hosted and public cloud database solutions in the industry. The goal of Microsoft’s Enterprise Cloud Alliance partner program is to create, nurture and grow a strong partner ecosystem across a broad set of Enterprise Cloud Products delivering the best on-premise, hosted and Public Cloud solutions in the industry. Through this alliance, DataStax and Microsoft are working together to create enhanced enterprise-grade offerings for the Azure Marketplace that reduce the complexities of deployment and provisioning through automated ARM scripting capabilities.

Additionally, as a member of Microsoft Azure’s Fast Start program, created to help users quickly deploy new cloud workloads, DataStax users receive immediate access to the DataStax Enterprise Sandbox on Azure for a hands-on experience testing out DSE on Azure capabilities. DataStax Enterprise Sandbox on Azure can be found here.

Cassandra Summit 2015, the world’s largest gathering of Cassandra users, is taking place this week and Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie, DataStax CEO Billy Bosworth, and Apache Cassandra Project Chair and DataStax Co-founder and CTO Jonathan Ellis, will deliver the conference keynote at 10 a.m. PT on Wednesday, September 23. The keynote can be viewed at DataStax.com.

ABOUT DATASTAX

DataStax delivers Apache Cassandra™ in a database platform purpose-built for the performance and availability demands for IoT, Web and mobile applications. This gives enterprises a secure, always-on database technology that remains operationally simple when scaling in a single datacenter or across multiple datacenters and clouds.

With more than 500 customers in over 50 countries, DataStax is the database technology of choice for the world’s most innovative companies, such as Netflix, Safeway, ING, Adobe, Intuit and eBay. Based in Santa Clara, Calif., DataStax is backed by industry-leading investors including Comcast Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Meritech Capital, Premji Invest and Scale Venture Partners. For more information, visit DataStax.com or follow us @DataStax.

September 30, 2014: Why Datastax’s increasing presence threatens Oracle’s database by Anne Shields at Market Realist 

Must know: An in-depth review of Oracle’s 1Q15 earnings (Part 9 of 12)

(Continued from Part 8)

Datastax databases are built on open-source technologies

Datastax is a California-based database management company. It offers an enterprise-grade NoSQL database that seamlessly and securely integrates real-time data with Apache Cassandra. Databases built on Apache Cassandra offer more flexibility than traditional databases. Even in case of calamities and uncertainties, like floods and earthquakes, data is available due to its replication at other data centers. NoSQL and Cassandra are open-source software.

Cassandra database was developed by Facebook (FB) to handle its enormous volumes of data. The technology behind Cassandra was developed by Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOGL). Oracle’s MySQL (ORCL), Microsoft’s SQL Server (MSFT), and IBM’s DB2 (IBM) are the traditional databases present in the market .

datastax[1]The above chart shows how NoSQL databases, NewSQL databases, and Data grid/cache products fit into the wider data management landscape.

Huge amounts of funds raised in the open-source technology database space

Datastax raised $106 million in September 2014 to expand its database operations. MongoDB Inc. and Couchbase Inc.—both open-source NoSQL database developers—raised $231 million and $115 million, respectively, in 2014. According to Market Research Media, a consultancy firm, spending on NoSQL technology in 2013 was less than $1 billion. It’s expected to reach $3.4 billion by 2020. This explains why this segment is attracting such huge investments.

Oracle’s dominance in the database market is uncertain

Oracle claims it’s a market leader in the relational database market, with a revenue share of 48.3%. In 2013, it launched Oracle Database 12C. According to Oracle, “Oracle Database 12c introduces a new multitenant architecture that simplifies the process of consolidating databases onto the cloud; enabling customers to manage many databases as one — without changing their applications.” To know in detail about Database 12c, please click here .

In July 2013, DataStax announced that dozens of companies have migrated from Oracle databases to DataStax databases. Customers cited scalability, disaster avoidance, and cost savings as the reasons for shifting databases. Datastax databases’ rising popularity jeopardizes Oracle’s dominant position in the database market.

Continue to Part 10

Browse this series on Market Realist:

September 24, 2014: Building a better experience for Azure and DataStax customers by Matt Rollender, VP Cloud Strategy, DataStax, Inc. on Microsoft Azure blog

Cassandra Summit is in high gear this week in Santa Clara, CA, representing the largest NoSQL event of its kind! This is the largest Cassandra Summit to date. With more than 7,000 attendees (both onsite and virtual), this is the first time the Summit is a three-day event with over 135 speaking sessions. This is also the first time DataStax will debut a formalized Apache Cassandra™ training and certification program in conjunction with O’Reilly Media. All incredibly exciting milestones!

We are excited to share another milestone. Yesterday, we announced our formal strategic collaboration with Microsoft. Dedicated DataStax and Microsoft teams have been collaborating closely behind the scenes for more than a year on product integration, QA testing, platform optimization, automated provisioning, and characterization of DataStax Enterprise (DSE) on Azure, and more to ensure product validation and a great customer experience for users of DataStax Enterprise on the Azure cloud. There is strong coordination across the two organizations – very close executive, field, and technical alignment – all critical components for a strong partnership.

This partnership is driven and shaped by our joint customers. Our customers oftentimes begin their journey with on-premise deployments of our database technology and then have a requirement to move to the cloud – Microsoft is a fantastic partner to help provide the flexibility of a true hybrid environment along with the ability to migrate to and scale applications in the cloud. Additionally, Microsoft has significant breadth regarding their data centers – customers can deploy in numerous Azure data centers around the globe, in order to be ‘closer’ to their end users. This is highly complementary to DataStax Enterprise software as we are a peer-to-peer distributed database and our customers need to be close to their end users with their always-on, always available enterprise applications.

To highlight a couple of joint customers and use cases we have First American Title and IHS, Inc. First American is a leading provider of title insurance and settlement services with revenue over $5B.  They ingest and store the largest number (billions) of real estate property records in the industry. Accessing, searching and analyzing large data-sets to get relevant details quickly is the new way they want to do business – to provide better information back to their customers in real-time and allow end users to easily search through the property records on-line. They chose DSE and Azure because of the large data requirements and because of the need to continue to scale the application.

A second great customer and use case is IHS, Inc., a $2B revenue-company that provides information and analysis to support the decision-making process of businesses and governments. This is a transformational project for IHS as they are building out an ‘internet age’ parts catalog – it’s a next generation big data application, using NoSQL, non-relational technology and they want to deploy in the cloud to bring the application to market faster.

As you can see, we are enabling enterprises to engage their customer like never before with their always on, highly available and distributed applications. Stay tuned for more as we move forward together in the coming months!

For Additional information go to http://www.datastax.com/marketplace-microsoft-azure to try out Datastax Enterprise Sandbox on Azure.

See also DataStax Enterprise Cluster Production on Microsoft Azure Marketplace

September 23, 2015: Making Cassandra Do Azure, But Not Windows by  Co-Editor, Co-Founder, The Next Platform

When Microsoft says that it is embracing Linux as a peer to Windows, it is not kidding. The company has created its own Linux distribution for switches used to build the Azure cloud, and it has embraced Spark in-memory processing and Cassandra as its data store for its first major open source big data project – in this case to help improve the quality of its Office365 user experience. And now, Microsoft is embracing Cassandra, the NoSQL data store originally created by Facebook when it could no longer scale the MySQL relational database to suit its needs, on the Azure public cloud.

Billy Bosworth, CEO at DataStax, the entity that took over steering development of and providing commercial support for Cassandra, tells The Next Platform that the deal with Microsoft has a number of facets, all of which should help boost the adoption of the enterprise-grade version of Cassandra. But the key one is that the Global 2000 customers that DataStax wants to sell support and services to are already quite familiar with both Windows Server in their datacenters and they are looking to burst out to the Azure cloud on a global scale.

“We are seeing a rapidly increasing number of our customers who need hybrid cloud, keeping pieces of our DataStax Enterprise on premise in their own datacenters and they also want to take pieces of that same live transactional data – not replication, but live data – and in the Azure cloud as well,” says Bosworth. “They have some unique capabilities, and one of the major requirements of customers is that even if they use cloud infrastructure, it still has to be distributed by the cloud provider. They can’t just run Cassandra in one availability zone in one region. They have to span data across the globe, and Microsoft has done a tremendous job of investing in its datacenters.”

With the Microsoft agreement, DataStax is now running its wares on the three big clouds, with Amazon Web Services and Google Compute Engine already certified able to run the production-grade Cassandra. And interestingly enough, Microsoft is supporting the DataStax implementation of Cassandra on top of Linux, not Windows. Bosworth says that while Cassandra can be run on Windows servers, DataStax does not recommend putting DataStax Enterprise (DSE), the commercial release, on Windows. (It does have a few customers who do, nonetheless, and it supports them.) Bosworth adds that DataStax and the Cassandra community have been “working diligently” for the past year to get a Windows port of DSE completed and that there has been “zero pressure” for the Microsoft Azure team to run DSE on anything other than Linux.

It is important to make the distinction between running Cassandra and other elements of DSE on Windows and having optimized drivers for Cassandra for the .NET programming environment for Windows.

“All we are really talking about is the ability to run the back-end Cassandra on Linux or Windows, and to the developer, it is irrelevant on what that back end is running,” explains Bosworth. This takes away some of that friction, and what we find is that on the back end, we just don’t find religious conviction about whether it should run on Windows or Linux, and this is different from five years ago. We sell mostly to enterprises, and we have not had one customer raise their hand and say they can’t use DSE because it does not run on Windows.”

What is more important is the ability to seamless put Cassandra on public clouds and spread transactional data around for performance and resiliency reasons – the same reasons that Facebook created Cassandra for in the first place.

What Is In The Stack, Who Uses It, And How

The DataStax Enterprise distribution does not just include the Apache Cassandra data store, but has an integrated search engine that is API compatible with the open source Solr search engine and in-memory extensions that can speed up data accesses by anywhere from 30X to 100X compared to server clusters using flash SSDs or disk drives. The Cassandra data store can be used to underpin Hadoop, allowing it to be queried by MapReduce, Hive, Pig, and Mahout, and it can also underpin Spark and Spark Streaming as their data stores if customers decide to not go with the Hadoop Distributed File System that is commonly packaged with a Hadoop distribution.

It is hard to say for sure how many organizations are running Cassandra today, but Bosworth reckons that it is on the order of tens of thousands worldwide, based on a number of factors. DataStax does not do any tracking of its DataStax Community edition because it wants a “frictionless download” like many open source projects have. (Developers don’t want software companies to see what tools they are playing with, even though they might love open source code.) DataStax provides free training for Cassandra, however, where it does keep track, and developers are consuming over 10,000 units of this training per month, so that probably indicates that the Cassandra installed base (including tests, prototypes, and production) is in the five figures.

datastax-momentum[1]

DataStax itself has over 500 paying customers – now including Microsoft after its partner tried to build its own Spark-Cassandra cluster using open source code and decided that the supported versions were better thanks to the extra goodies that DataStax puts into its distro. DataStax has 30 of the Fortune 100 using its distribution of Cassandra in one form or another, and it is always for transactional, rather than batch analytic, jobs and in most cases also for distributed data stores that make use of the “eventual consistency” features of Cassandra to replicate data across multiple clusters. The company has another 600 firms participating in its startup program, which gives young companies freebie support on the DSE distro until they hit a certain size and can afford to start kicking some cash into the kitty.

The largest installation of Cassandra is running at Apple, which as we previously reported has over 75,000 nodes, with clusters ranging in size from hundreds to over 1,000 nodes and with a total capacity in the petabytes range. Netflix, which used to employ the open source Cassandra, switched to DSE last May and had over 80 clusters with more than 2,500 nodes supporting various aspects of its video distribution business. In both cases, Cassandra is very likely housing user session state data as well as feeding product or play lists and recommendations or doing faceted search for their online customers.

We are always intrigued to learn how customers are actually deploying tools such as Cassandra in production and how they scale it. Bosworth says that it is not uncommon to run a prototype project on as few as ten nodes, and when the project goes into production, to see it grow to dozens to hundreds of nodes. The midrange DSE clusters range from maybe 500 to 1,000 nodes and there are some that get well over 1,000 nodes for large-scale workloads like those running at Apple.

In general, Cassandra does not, like Hadoop, run on disk-heavy nodes. Remember, the system was designed to support hot transactional data, not to become a lake with a mix of warm and cold data that would be sifted in batch mode as is still done with MapReduce running atop Hadoop.

The typical node configuration has changed as Cassandra has evolved and improved, says Robin Schumacher, vice president of products at DataStax. But before getting into feeds and speeds, Schumacher offered this advice. “There are two golden rules for Cassandra. First, get your data model right, and second, get your storage system right. If you get those two things right, you can do a lot wrong with your configuration or your hardware and Cassandra will still treat you right. Whenever we have to dive in and help someone out, it is because they have just moved over a relational data model or they have hooked their servers up to a NAS or a SAN or something like that, which is absolutely not recommended.”

datastax-table[1]

Only four years ago, because of the limitations in Cassandra (which like Hadoop and many other analytics tools is coded in Java), the rule of thumb was to put no more than 512 GB of disk capacity onto a single node. (It is hard to imagine such small disk capacities these days, with 8 TB and 10 TB disks.) The typical Cassandra node has two processors, with somewhere between 12 and 24 cores, and has between 64 GB and 128 GB of main memory. Customers who want the best performance tend to go with flash SSDs, although you can do all-disk setups, too.

Fast forward to today, and Cassandra can make use of a server node with maybe 5 TB of capacity for a mix of reads and writes, and if you have a write intensive application, then you can push that up to 20 TB. (DataStax has done this in its labs, says Schumacher, without any performance degradation.) Pushing the capacity up is important because it helps reduce server node count for a given amount of storage, which cuts hardware and software licensing and support costs. Incidentally, only a quarter of DSE customers surveyed said they were using spinning disks, but disk drives are fine for certain kinds of log data. SSDs are used for most transactional data, but the bits that are most latency sensitive should use DSE to store data on PCI-Express flash cards, which have lower latency.

Schumacher says that in most cases, the commercial-grade DSE Cassandra is used for a Web or mobile application, and a DSE cluster is not set up for hosting multiple applications, but rather companies have a different cluster for each use case. (As you can see is the case with Apple and Netflix.) Most of the DSE shops to make use of the eventual consistency replication features of Cassandra to span multiple datacenters with their data stores, and span anywhere from eight to twelve datacenters with their transactional data.

Here’s where it gets interesting, and why Microsoft is relevant to DataStax. Only about 30 percent of the DSE installations are running on premises. The remaining 70 percent are running on public clouds. About half of DSE customers are running on Amazon Web Services, with the remaining 20 percent split more or less evenly between Google Compute Engine and Microsoft Azure. If DataStax wants to grow its business, the easiest way to do that is to grow along with AWS, Compute Engine, and Azure.

So Microsoft and DataStax are sharing their roadmaps and coordinating development of their respective wares, and will be doing product validation, benchmarking, and optimization. The two will be working on demand generation and marketing together, too, and aligning their compensation to sell DSE on top of Azure and, eventually, on top of Windows Server for those who want to run it on premises.

In addition to announcing the Microsoft partnership at the Cassandra Summit this week, DataStax is also releasing its DSE 4.8 stack, which includes certification for Cassandra to be used as the back end for the new Spark 1.4 in-memory analytics tool. DSE Search has a performance boosts for live indexing, and running DSE instances inside of Docker containers has been improved. The stack also includes Titan 1.0, the graph database overlay for Cassandra, HBase, and BerkeleyDB that DataStax got through its acquisition of Aurelius back in February. DataStax is also previewing Cassandra 3.0, which will include support for JSON documents, role-based access control, and a lot of little tweaks that will make the storage more efficient, DataStax says. It is expected to ship later this year.

 

Embedded Android — A VIA Technologies Strategic Direction in addition to its earlier joint CPU venture with the Shanghai government

– Nov 12, 2012 – July 11, 2014: Can VIA Technologies save the mobile computing future of the x86 (x64) legacy platform? for preliminary reading on this blog
– October 8, 2014: Coming very soon from Centaur Technology: A Leap Ahead in Chip Design as a very small glimpse into the next generation by the Centaur Technology
– October 13, 2014: Centaur Technology: Do the same job that an Intel processor can do, but doing it less expensively, with a much smaller group and Glenn Henry in charge as another as a very small glimpse …
June 3, 2015VIA pushing for profitability in 2015 by DIGITIMES

VIA Technologies [威盛電子] president Chen Wen-Chi [陳文琦 the spouse of Cher Wang Chairwoman and CEO of HTC] has maintained that the company will not be delisted from the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TSE) and will have a good chance of turning profitable in 2015. [http://technews.tw/2015/06/02/via-technologies-condition/: “this year the operation has turned the corner, there is the opportunity to turn profit, but not sure]

Chen said during a shareholders meeting on June 2 that VIA’s revenue performance became stable in 2014, while losses have also started narrowing. With its embedded platform and digital signage businesses starting to contribute profits, VIA is expecting an optimistic result for 2015.

As for the recent market rumor about Intel considering acquiring its subsidiary GenieNetworks[a CDMA licensing business having 2 clients by the end of 2014], Chen declined to comment.

December 29, 2014: Ownership of the Centaur Technology has been transfered to VIA CPU PLATFORM, INC. established on December 17, 2013 (⇒威盛電子:代子公司VIA USA Inc.公告進行美國子公司Centaur Technology Inc.股權之投資架構調整) and whose president is Timothy Chen (陳主望), Cher Wang’s nephew

December 25, 2014VIA to return to profitability in 2015, says company president by DIGITIMES

… As for the China government’s recently announced strategy to fully support and nurture local semiconductor players, Chen believes it could bring a strong challenge to the Taiwan and worldwide semiconductor industries, but VIA has been forming partnerships with China’s players and will only see limited impact from the policies.

November 21, 2014VIA stock demoted in TSE; expects strong performance in 4Q14 by DIGITIMES

VIA Technologies has recently been demoted to become a full-cash delivery stock by the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TSE) because its stock’s net asset value dropped below NT$5 (US$0.16) in the third quarter. Commenting on the incident, special [technical] assistant to the president [also Head of Sales and Marketing since 1996 according to LinkedIn and VP Business Development and Strategy, VIA Technologies, HTC according to World Economic Forum 2015], Timothy Chen pointed out that the company had losses in the third quarter because its embedded solution orders were delayed and it had non-recurring engineering (NRE) expenses.

Although VIA’s CPU business continues to suffer from losses, the company’s invested Wondermedia [in 2014 focused on ARM-based tablet and STB processor development], VIA Labs [having USB 3.0 chips already for the 2014 market] and GenieNetworks as well as the joint venture with the government of Shanghai, China still contribute income.

Chen noted that VIA has not yet given up the x86 CPU market and its licensing agreement with Intel is valid until 2018. Although VIA did not achieve much performance in the PC market, the company is seeing stable orders for embedded applications such as digital signage.

The company’s joint venture with the Shanghai government is currently developing x86-based processors and 3D graphics chips and should help the company return to the PC market in the second half of 2015. The joint venture has R&D centers in Shanghai, Beijing and Wuhan, China and has about 600 employees currently.

February 19, 2014VIA reportedly moving x86 CPU resources to new joint venture in China by DIGITIMES

VIA Technologies is rumored to have started shifting its x86 CPU technologies and related personnel to its newly formed IC design joint venture with a China government-owned investment firm, according to market watchers

The joint venture was announced in early 2014 with VIA owning a 20% stake in the company.

Because VIA’s x86 CPU business is licensed by Intel, moving related resources to a new joint venture is expected to attract Intel’s attention. However, the chip giant may not be able to do much because Intel reached an agreement with the US’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) in 2010 to not interfere with competition in the CPU and chipset markets, and extend its licensing of PCI Express to VIA by at least another six years. Intel is also unlikely to wish to offend the China investment firm, which has support from the China government, the market watchers analyzed.

VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. > Introduction:

VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. [磐聚网] was established in April 2013 with a total registered capital of USD$250M. As a joint venture between Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd. [SAIL] who is affiliated to Shanghai SASAC and VIA Technologies, Inc., VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. has about 1000 employees and locates its headquarter at Zhangjiang of Shanghai with branches in Beijing, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Taiwan, California and Texas of America.

With the forefront technologies and know-how in the design of CPU, GPU and chipsets, VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. is well known to provide high security, high performance, low power dissipation, and low cost SoC solutions.

As a fabless SoC factory, VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. adopts advanced 40nm and 28nm semiconductor processes. VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd.’s main products include CPU and chipsets for desktop PC and laptop and ARM Cortex series SoC with its state of the art Elite series GPU and Video Engine IPs. VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. aims at becoming the leading SoC solution supplier for smart TV, smart phone and enterprise

January 17, 2013: VIA forms IC joint venture with Shanghai Alliance Investment by DIGITIMES

VIA Technologies has announced that it has set up an IC design house jointly with Shanghai Alliance Investment Company targeting the growing chip market in China.

The joint venture will be capitalized at US$250 million with Shanghai Alliance Investment contributing 80.1% of total capital, while VIA makes up the remaining 19.9%. An initial investment of US$100 million is slated for completion by the end of March 2013, VIA said.

VIA posted revenues of NT$3.36 billion (US$115.47 million) for 2012, decreasing 20.8% from a year earlier.

September 2014: Research and development of Lenovo M6000/S6000 desktops with ZX-A C4350AL [VIA Nano X2 announced on January 4, 2011] CPU have been completed
November 2014: Mass production of Great Wall desktops using ZX-A C3450AL total solution have been achieved

– Targeting a range of Desktop products ZX-A processors and V11PH solution extend the reach into multitasking and performance-oriented segments and offer end users an optimal, power-efficient computing experience
ZX-A processors are built using the latest 40nm fabrication process. ZX-A processors’ package size is 21mm x 21mm and the die size is only 11mm x 6mm. The launched processor name is C4350AL (the Clock Speed is 1.6G+).
– ZX-A processors are x86 architecture CPUs, support 32-bit/64-bit and the extended instruction sets. ZX-A are the first truly optimized, low power dual-core processors delivering industry leading performance-per-watt and improved multi-tasking ability, without consuming more power. ZX-A processors leverage a multi-core architecture to offer up to twice the performance in multi-thread optimized applications, while staying within the same signature low-power envelope.
– Featuring two out-of-order x86 cores, ZX-A processors come with native 64-bit software support, VT CPU virtualization technology, and PadLock hardware security features.

– Targeting a range of Mobile Notebook products ZX-A processors and VX11H solution extend the reach into multitasking and performance-oriented segments and offer end users an optimal, power-efficient computing experience
– ZX-A processors are built using the latest 40nm fabrication process. ZX-A processors’ package size is 21mm x 21mm and the die size is only 11mm x 6mm. The launched processor name is C4350AL (the Clock Speed is 1.6G+).
– ZX-A processors are x86 architecture CPUs, support 32-bit/64-bit and the extended instruction sets. ZX-A are the first truly optimized, low power dual-core processors delivering industry leading performance-per-watt and improved multi-tasking ability, without consuming more power. ZX-A processors leverage a multi-core architecture to offer up to twice the performance in multi-thread optimized applications, while staying within the same signature low-power envelope.
– Featuring two out-of-order x86 cores, ZX-A processors come with native 64-bit software support, VT CPU virtualization technology, and PadLock hardware security features.

ZX-C series processor is a new generation of quad-core processors, they are designed for high-performance computing
– ZX-C processors are built using the latest 28nm fabrication process. ZX-C processors’ package size is 21mm x 21mm and pin to pin match with ZX-A.
– There are 4 CPU cores integrated on the single chip packaging. Delivering industry leading performance per watt and improved multi-tasking ability, without consuming more power. ZX-C processors leverage a multi-core architecture to offer up to quad the performance in multi-thread optimized applications, while staying within the same signature low-power envelope.
– Featuring four out-of-order x86 cores, ZX-C processors come with native 64-bit software support, VT CPU virtualization technology, and hardware security features.
VX11PH Chipset offering a world-class HD multimedia platform for media-intensive applications

Already visible in July through benchmarks the next stepping of the legacy Isiah line: CentaurHauls Family 6 Model 15 Stepping 14 ⇒ VIA Technology Inc. VT3456 6628AMB, VIA QuadCore @ 2.00 GHz 2 processors, 8 cores

So the once influential VIA Technologies is desparately trying to regain its stance by capitalising on the technological fruits of the smartphone revolution which has already ended by Qualcomm’s alignment with latest developments in China via downsizing, Allwinner and Microsoft collaboration.

There are two lines of strategic actions for VIA which have become public as such recently:

1. May 20, 2015VIA Smart ETK For Embedded Android 

The VIA Smart ETK for Android provides an application programming interface (API) that simplifies Android system development on VIA Embedded ARM platforms by enabling the Android application to access I/O and manageability services provided by the system hardware that are not supported in the Android framework. These APIs help safeguard against system crashes and provide the ability to schedule auto power on and off, as well as periodic system reboots to ensure maximum performance.

The VIA Smart ETK for Android is also bundled with Smart ETK Demo, which is easy to install and has a user-friendly GUI for demonstrating the functions of VIA Embedded ARM platforms. Both the VIA Smart ETK and Smart ETK Demo are easy-to-use tools that help to shorten development time and speed up time to market. Key features include the following:

Watchdog:
This provides an API which allows the user to set a timer to ensure proper operation and help the applications/system to recover from a dead circle or breakdown. When it is set, the system will automatically reboot if no “feeding dog” signal is received.
System Power Off / Reboot:
This provides APIs that allow the user to use an Android application to schedule when the system should power off as well as set periodic reboots to ensure maximum performance is maintained.
RTC Wake-Up:
This provides an auto power on feature by setting the Remote Time Clock (RTC) auto wake-up timer. The RTC supports three auto wake-up modes:
  • Wake-up on a specified hour and minute every day
  • Wake-up on a specified day/ hour/ minute every week
  • Wake-up on a specified day/ hour/ minute every month

Legacy I/O Support:
The VIA Smart ETK enables legacy I/O support such as RS-232, by opening up GPIO, I2C, and CAN bus ports to the application.

February 26, 2015: VIA SMART ETK for Android post on VIA News by Richard Brown VP of International Marketing

We’ve seen a tremendous amount of interest in the VIA SMART ETK at Embedded World this week, particularly for embedded Android system design applications.

As its name implies, the VIA SMART ETK is an embedded tool kit that we offer as part of our software engineering services in order to facilitate the development of embedded systems and devices on based on our ARM and x86 platforms.

The VIA SMART ETK for Android is available with the VIA VAB-600, VIA VAB-820, and VIA VAB-1000 boards, as well as the VIA ALTA DS, VIA ALTA DS 2, VIA ARTiGO A900, and VIA Viega systems. It provides an application programming interface (API) that simplifies Android system development by enabling the Android application to access I/O and manageability services provided by the system hardware that are not supported in the Android framework. These APIs help safeguard against system crashes and provide the ability to schedule auto power on and off, as well as periodic system reboots to ensure maximum performance.

One of the key features we have enabled in the VIA SMART ETK for Android is support for legacy I/O such as RS-232 by opening up the GPIO, I2C, and CAN bus ports to the application. Others include Watchdog, System Power Off/Reboot, and RTC Wake-Up. To learn more, please visit the ARM Software Engineering Services page on our website and download our white paper “Cracking the Embedded Android Code” [January 26, 2015].

We are committed to the continued long-term development of the VIA SMART ETK for Android and regularly issue new releases of it for the boards and systems listed above. Watch this space for news of the latest updates.

2. [February 5, 2015Android-Based Digital Signage SolutionsSignage Solution Pack for Android as the first of software solution packs optimized to meet the requirements of specific vertical market segments

The Signage Starter Solution Pack for Android has been designed to accelerate the development of digital signage solutions using the VIA ALTA DS and VIA ALTA DS 2 [Oct 15, 2014 ⇒ the Solution Pack already came with ⇒Android Signage Goes Dual Screen with VIA ALTA DS 2] systems. It includes a number of APIs that help safeguard against system crashes provide the ability to schedule auto power on and off as well as periodic system reboots to ensure maximum performance, unique to Android OS for digital signage applications. Key features include:

Watch Dog:
Provides an API which allows the user to set a timer to ensure proper operation and help applications/system to recover from a dead circle or breakdown. When it is set, the system will automatically reboot if no “feeding dog” signal is received.
System Power Off / Reboot:
Provides APIs which allow the user to use an Android application to schedule when the system should power off as well as set periodical reboots to ensure maximum performance is maintained.
RTC Wake-Up:
Provides an auto power on feature by setting Remote Time Clock (RTC) auto wake-up timer. The RTC supports three auto wake-up modes:
  • Wake-up on a specified hour and minute every day
  • Wake-up on a specified day/ hour/ minute every week
  • Wake-up on a specified day/ hour/ minute every month

Customer ID:
Provides a unique ID which matches the software to a particular VIA ALTA DS system helping to protect the customer’s application or to identify a particular system.

July 9, 2015: Embedded Android Survey – The Results Are In! by Michael Fox of VIA Technologies

Android-survey-1

The growing popularity of visual applications for displaying increasingly rich data sets is clearly a key driver behind the rising momentum of Android among embedded developers. Industrial Automation (28%), Infotainment (20%), and Digital Signage (12%) were the top three applications in the survey, closely followed by HMI (11%) and Medical (11%).

Andorid-survey-benefits

The ability to add a touch interface (26%) was listed by respondents as the main benefit of adopting Android, with reduced time to market (25%) and customizability (19%) coming in second and third respectively. Native multimedia support (14%) in the O/S and the robust Android app ecosystem (12%) were also seen as important.

As a mobile O/S, Android does offer some critical challenges for developers to overcome when implementing it for embedded applications, including its lack of I/O support for peripherals (23%), the need to maintain different versions of it, and ensuring security (17%). Building up internal Android development expertise (21%) and finding the right development tools (19%) are other key issues embedded developers face in adopting the O/S.

We’d like to thank everyone who responded to the survey for the invaluable feedback they provided. We have already begun analyzing the results in order to determine how we can improve the platforms and services we offer for Embedded Android, and will be updating you on our progress.

Download the full results here.

As the enhancement of the technology portfolio there is the new
Apr 8, 2015: HD Video Monitoring Starter Kit

The VIA HD Video Monitoring Starter Kit is a turnkey solution aimed at accelerating the development of wireless multi-node video monitoring systems for the rapidly growing home and commercial markets.The starter kit includes:


VIA ALTA DS 2 System

ALTA_DS_2_ProductAt the heart of the starter kit is the ultra-compact fanless VIA ALTA DS 2 system. Powered by a 1.0GHz dual core VIA Elite E1000 Cortex-A9 SoC with a high-performance 2D/3D graphics and video engine that supports Open GL ES 3.0 hardware acceleration and simultaneous multiple Full HD video playback. The VIA ALTA DS 2 includes SATA and Micro SD Card support, allowing recorded footage to be stored locally for playback at a later time or offloaded to the cloud.


Customized Android BSP & Smart ETK

Included with the ALTA DS 2 system is an Android BSP (Board Support Package) customized for video monitoring applications which includes the following enhancements:

  • Storage – performance improvement
  • Hardware enabled decoding
  • RTSP & WVTP parse performance improvement
  • Hardware acceleration for on screen preview playback

To enable customers to shorten their development time and speed time to market for their specific application needs, the starter kit also includes the VIA Smart ETK (Embedded Tool Kit), which provides a set of APIs for applications to access I/O and manageability services provided by the system hardware.


VIA Video Management Software (VMS)

VIA VMS application framework provides basic functionality including HD playback support, hardware accelerated decoding for live streaming and local/network backup support.Video Streaming & Recording Performance

Live Stream: (Channels/Resolution/Bitrate) Playback Frame Rate/Stream Recording Performance
1ch 1080p @ 8Mbps 30fps 1Ch 1080p @8Mbps
4ch 720p @ 4Mbps 30fps 4Ch 1080p @8Mbps

Live Playback Layouts

VMS-Layout


Wireless IP Cameras

The starter kit includes 4 validated IP cameras featuring OmniVision’s OV9712 CameraChip™ sensor, developed with their proprietary OmniPixel3-HS™ high sensitivity pixel technology to provide excellent scene reproduction in both extremely high and low-light environments, and their OV788 video signal processor for video compression, 720p HD video streaming, and AES-256 encryption over any Wi-Fi network, the system offers ‘instant-on’ crisp HD video and streaming capabilities in an extremely power-efficient, battery operated package.

Which is related to the
April 8, 2015: OmniVision and VIA Announce Partnership to Develop Battery-Powered Wireless HD Video Monitoring Solution news release as well

Customizable Android™ Based Reference Design to Accelerate Time to Market, Optimize Home and Small Business Monitoring Systems

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 6, 2015 — OmniVision Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: OVTI), a leading developer of advanced digital imaging solutions, and VIA Technologies, Inc., a leader in embedded IoT and M2M platform innovation, today announced a partnership to develop a battery-powered high definition (HD) video monitoring solution that enables OEMs to dramatically reduce time-to-market for wireless multi-node monitoring systems in homes and small businesses.

“This partnership between OmniVision and VIA Technologies exemplifies both companies’ desire to meet the rapidly growing demand for turnkey solutions that can give OEMs the ability to quickly and cost-effectively bring innovative smart devices to market,” said Paul Gallagher, senior director of marketing at OmniVision. “By offering ‘instant-on’ crisp HD video and streaming capabilities in an extremely power-efficient, battery operated package, OmniVision’s OV9712 and OV788 video signal processor together provide excellent capabilities for the advanced solution now under development.”

“By combining OmniVision’s industry-leading imaging technologies with VIA’s advanced video processing technologies and embedded Android system design capabilities, we have produced a highly competitive turnkey solution,” said Epan Wu, head of VIA Embedded. “We look forward to collaborating with OmniVision and driving the development of new and innovative technologies for the rapidly growing market for home and commercial monitoring systems.”

Utilizing the OV9712 CameraChip™ sensor developed with OmniVision’s proprietary OmniPixel3-HS™ high sensitivity pixel technology, the solution will be designed to achieve excellent scene reproduction in both extremely high- and low-light environments. The OV9712 will operate in conjunction with OmniVision’s ultra-low power OV788 video signal processor. That processor will provide video compression, 720p HD video streaming, and AES-256 encryption over any Wi-Fi network, thus allowing users to quickly stream high quality video content using the video monitoring solution.

About OmniVision

OmniVision Technologies (NASDAQ: OVTI) is a leading developer of advanced digital imaging solutions. Its award-winning CMOS imaging technology enables superior image quality in many of today’s consumer and commercial applications, including mobile phones, notebooks, tablets and webcams, digital still and video cameras, security and surveillance, entertainment devices, automotive and medical imaging systems. Find out more at: www.ovt.com

With DragonBoard™ 410c Qualcomm is pioneering the high performance, 64-bit capable, low cost ARM based platform market for communities of embedded developers, educators, makers et al.

This is Qualcomm’s first initiative to target the communities. Since the company’s Snapdragon 410 SoC had already been designed into no less than 291 smartphones available on the market community members are assured of getting their costs incredibly low. In addition to that Cortex-A53 is used alone in higher and higher-end devices as the result of increased competition between MediaTek and Qualcomm, which will assure the communities a continuous supply of leading edge SoCs in the future. Read that companion post of mine in which you could also find the basic facts about the advantages of the Cortex-A53 cores vs. the earlier designs from ARM.

Charbax from Maker Fair Shenzhen 2015 (June 19-21, 2015)

Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c is a credit card sized http://96Boards.org compliant development board based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, with I/O like USB device, 1080P HDMI, micro USB port, support WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, support Android, linux, planned to support windows 10 in the near future. The DragonBoard 410c is designed to support rapid software development, education and prototyping, including the next generation of robotics, cameras, medical devices, vending machines, smart buildings, digital signage, casino gaming consoles, and much more. At Maker Fair Shenzhen, Qualcomm is showing off how easy it is to get going with development using their new DragonBoard 410c, being released now

June 18, 2015: Welcome to the DragonBoard™ 410c

Available now! The DragonBoard™ 410c by Arrow Electronics is the first development board based on a mid-tier Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 400 series processor. The board is designed to build a software ecosystem around the Snapdragon 410 processor, as well as offering uses in education, prototyping, and commercial embedded computing products. Featuring the 64-bit capable Snapdragon 410 quad-core ARM® Cortex® A53 processor, the DragonBoard 410c supports Android 5.1Linux based on Ubuntu and there are plans to offer support for Windows 10. It offers advanced processing power, integrated WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS, all packed into a board the size of a credit card. The board supports feature-rich functionality, including multimedia, with the Adreno™ 306 GPU for PC-class graphics, integrated ISP with up to 13 MP camera support, and 1080p HD video playback and capture with H.264 (AVC).

The DragonBoard 410c is an ideal foundation for prototyping and includes 1GB 533MHz LPDDR3 memory, 8GB eMMC 4.5 storage and a micro SD card slot, as well as one 40-pin low speed and one 60-pin high speed expansion connector, and the footprint for an optional analog expansion connector for stereo headset/line-out, speakers and analog line-in. The board can be made compatible with Arduino using an add-on mezzanine board.

The DragonBoard 410c has the rich feature set and mid-tier accessibility to enable wide-ranging embedded and Internet of Everything (IoE) applications, including the next generation of robotics, cameras, medical devices, vending machines, smart buildings, digital signage, casino gaming consoles, and much more.

March 18, 2015: Qualcomm Announces Support of Windows 10 for the DragonBoard 410c Development Platform and Mobile Device Reference Designs

Support brings OEMs and developers high-performance Snapdragon enabled platform to help accelerate development for Windows 10 mobile and Windows 10 IoT devices

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (QTI), a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), today announced its support for Microsoft Windows 10 for IoT devices and Internet of Everything (IoE) applications with the DragonBoard 410c development board. Based on the Qualcomm® Snapdragon 410 processor by QTI, the DragonBoard 410c platform has superior functionality and computing capabilities, as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS, and is one of the world’s first high performance, low cost ARM®-based platforms for Windows 10.  It is a credit card-sized development kit designed to support rapid software development and prototyping for commercializing new inventions and products, such as the next generation of robotics, cameras, set-top-boxes, wearables, medical devices, vending machines, building automation, industrial control, digital signage, and casino gaming consoles.

“Qualcomm Technologies continues to offer the mobile device and development community the foundation and resources they need to build their portfolio of Windows devices across smartphones, tablets and IoE applications,” said Jason Bremner, senior vice president of product management for Qualcomm Technologies. “We are thrilled to demo DragonBoard 410c running Windows 10 IoT at WinHEC. DragonBoard 410c is an ARMv8-based development platform which is designed to support a wide array of embedded computing and IoE devices, drivers and application development.”

Microsoft is committed to advancing the Internet of Things with Windows 10 and Azure Cloud Services. Our collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies to provide Windows 10 for the DragonBoard 410c is an important milestone in realizing a new device-as-a-service proposition for device builders,” said Kevin Dallas, general manager, IoT Team, Operating Systems Group, Microsoft. “Combining Windows 10 with the performance of Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processors will help the ecosystem realize robust, feature-rich use cases and enable developers to quickly commercialize their hardware products.”

The first live demos on the DragonBoard 410c will occur at WinHEC on March 18-19, 2015, in Shenzhen. The event will also feature technical sessions on Qualcomm Reference Designs (QRD) by QTI, as well as a QRD-based Windows Phone device display. For more information on WinHEC, please visit www.winhec.com. Additional information about QRD can be found at https://qrd.qualcomm.com/, or on the DragonBoard 410c at http://developer.qualcomm.com/dragonboard410cThe DragonBoard 410c is anticipated to be made commercially available by third party distributors this summer.

In addition to the introduction of Windows 10 support for the DragonBoard 410c, QTI’s long-standing collaboration with Microsoft has resulted in 25 OEMs developing over 30 new Windows Phones based on various Qualcomm Reference Designs to date. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor-based reference design will be the first reference design from Qualcomm Technologies to support the new Windows 10 operating system, with both phone and tablet reference designs to help manufacturers quickly introduce feature-rich Windows mobile devices.

About the Qualcomm Reference Design Program

To date, the Qualcomm Reference Design program by QTI has helped OEMs and ODMs around the world to accelerate their product development time and reduce related costs.  More than 1,080 commercial QRD-based devices have been shipped or are in the pipeline across 21 countries. Additionally, there are more than 270 commercial QRD-based LTE devices with more than 180 designs in the pipeline, helping provide consumers with more connected devices around the world.

March 19, 2015: DragonBoard 410c for Embedded Computing and IoE bí Leon Farasati, senior product manager at Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT) responsible for Snapdragon Mobile Development Platforms

What will you build with this dragon?

As mobile devices powered by Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processors have grown in functionality and number, the processor has become attractive to manufacturers of adjacent products like robots, kiosks, display signage and arcade machines.

Most of the interest has come from companies in embedded computing, where applications are more often industrial than consumer-facing and require parts designed for longevity, so they have often lacked features we take for granted in mobile, like a small footprint and low power consumption.

It turns out that Snapdragon processors have been quite a nice surprise for them.

Why Snapdragon processors for embedded computing?

As the Internet of Everything (IoE) takes off, manufacturers of embedded products are looking at everything they can do with Snapdragon processors, including HD video, Wi-Fi, multimedia, computer vision and cameras. They like what they see, and they really like that they can build those functions into embedded products with greater energy efficiency, no fans, no noise and a low thermal profile.

We’ve been working with them for the last few years with tools, kits and platforms that the hardware ecosystem has rolled out based on Snapdragon 800 and 600 series processors. Now we’re gearing up to support Snapdragon processors for a broader group of developers, makers and manufacturers with a new low-cost development board design based on the 64-bit capable Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 410 processor which has been designed for longevity.

DragonBoard™ 410c

The “c” is for “community”, and that’s exactly what this board is intended to support. The DragonBoard 410c is one of the world’s first high performance, 64-bit capable, low cost ARM based platforms. It has integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth® and GPS, all in a board the size of a credit card. It’s designed to be compatible with the 96Boards Consumer Edition, which supports the hardware community to develop a range of compatible add-on products, shields and accessories. 96Boards is the open platform specification for high-performance development boards supported by Linaro.

DragonBoard based on Snapdragon 410

The DragonBoard 410c has support for Android, Linux and Windows 10, providing incredible options for software solutions. And as you would expect with any Snapdragon processor, it’s well equipped to support rich multimedia applications with an Adreno™ 306 GPU, 1080p HD video playback and capture with H.264 (AVC) and integrated ISP with support for 13 MP camera.

It also comes equipped with high- and low-speed expansion connectors, analog expansion connector for headset, speakers and FM, plus I/O interfaces for HDMI, USB 2.0 and micro SD card slot. All said, we believe this will make a great platform for rapid prototyping and commercializing a broad range of new inventions. The path to commercial devices is supported by an established ecosystem of embedded solutions providers who provide off-the-shelf or custom system-on-modules, support and design services for commercial deployments.

Last week we announced DragonBoard 410c. This week we are showing the first live demos of it at Microsoft-hosted WinHEC, and this summer DragonBoard 410c is anticipated to be commercially available through third party distributors.

Next Steps

With DragonBoard 410c we’re working to make made-for-mobile Snapdragon features a lot more accessible to help fuel innovation of embedded products. Adjacent products can benefit from AllJoyn™, Adreno GPU, Fast CV™, Vuforia™, audio and video features that seemed far beyond embedded computing just a couple of processor-generations ago. We can’t wait to see what you’ll invent.

Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft

Update: Gates Says He’s Very Happy With Microsoft’s Nadella [Bloomberg TV, Oct 2, 2014] + Bill Gates is trying to make Microsoft Office ‘dramatically better’ [The Verge, Oct 3, 2014]

This is the essence of Microsoft Fiscal Year 2014 Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call(see also the Press Release and Download Files) for me, as the new, extremely encouraging, overall setup of Microsoft in strategic terms (the below table is mine based on what Satya Nadella told on the conference call):

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These are extremely encouraging strategic advancements vis–à–vis previously publicized ones here in the following, Microsoft related posts of mine:

I see, however, particularly challenging the continuation of the Lumia story with the above strategy, as with the previous, combined Ballmer/Elop(Nokia) strategy the results were extremely weak:

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Worthwhile to include here the videos Bloomberg was publishing simultaneously with Microsoft Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call:

Inside Microsoft’s Secret Surface Labs [Bloomberg News, July 22, 2014]

July 22 (Bloomberg) — When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella defined the future of his company in a memo to his 127,100 employees, he singled out the struggling Surface tablet as key to a future built around the cloud and productivity. Microsoft assembled an elite team of designers, engineers, and programmers to spend years holed up in Redmond, Washington to come up with a tablet to take on Apple, Samsung, and Amazon. Bloomberg’s Cory Johnson got an inside look at the Surface labs.

Will Microsoft Kinect Be a Medical Game-Changer? [Bloomberg News, July 22, 2014]

July 23 (Bloomberg) — Microsoft’s motion detecting camera was thought to be a game changer for the video gaming world when it was launched in 2010. While appetite for it has since decreased, Microsoft sees the technology as vital in its broader offering as it explores other sectors like 3d mapping and live surgery. (Source: Bloomberg

Why Microsoft Puts GPS In Meat For Alligators [Bloomberg News, July 22, 2014]

July 23 (Bloomberg) — At the Microsoft Research Lab in Cambridge, scientists track animals and map climate change all on the off chance they’ll stumble across the next big thing. (Source: Bloomberg)

To this it is important to add: How Pier 1 is using the Microsoft Cloud to build a better relationship with their customers [Microsoft Server and Cloud YouTube channel, July 21, 2014]

In this video, Pier 1 Imports discuss how they are using Microsoft Cloud technologies such as Azure Machine Learning to to predict which the product the customer might want to purchase next, helping to build a better relationship with their customers. Learn more: http://www.azure.com/ml

as well as:
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 vs. MacBook Air 13″ 2014 [CNET YouTube channel, July 21, 2014]

http://cnet.co/1nOygqh Microsoft made a direct comparison between the Surface Pro 3 and the MacBook Air 13″, so we’re throwing them into the Prizefight Ring to settle the score once and for all. Let’s get it on!

Surface Pro 3 vs. MacBook Air (2014) [CTNtechnologynews YouTube channel, July 1, 2014]

The Surface Pro 3 may not be the perfect laptop. But Apple’s MacBook Air is pretty boring. Let’s see which is the better device!

In addition here are some explanatory quotes (for the new overall setup of Microsoft) worth to include here from the Q&A part of Microsoft’s (MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella on Q4 2014 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, Jul. 22, 2014 10:59 PM ET]

Mark Moerdler – Sanford Bernstein

Thank you. And Amy one quick question, we saw a significant acceleration this quarter in cloud revenue, or I guess Amy or Satya. You saw acceleration in cloud revenue year-over-year what’s – is this Office for the iPad, is this Azure, what’s driving the acceleration and how long do you think we can keep this going?

Amy Hood

Mark, I will take it and if Satya wants to add, obviously, he should do that. In general, I wouldn’t point to one product area. It was across Office 365, Azure and even CRM online. I think some of the important dynamics that you could point to particularly in Office 365; I really think over the course of the year, we saw an acceleration in moving the product down the market into increasing what we would call the mid-market and even small business at a pace. That’s a particular place I would tie back to some of the things Satya mentioned in the answer to your first question.

Improvements to analytics, improvements to understanding the use scenarios, improving the product in real-time, understanding trial ease of use, ease of sign-up all of these things actually can afford us the ability to go to different categories, go to different geos into different segments. And in addition, I think what you will see more as we initially moved many of our customers to Office 365, it came on one workload. And I think what we’ve increasingly seen is our ability to add more workloads and sell the entirety of the suite through that process. I also mentioned in Azure, our increased ability to sell some of these higher value services. So while, I can speak broadly but all of them, I think I would generally think about the strength of being both completion of our product suite ability to enter new segments and ability to sell new workloads.

Satya Nadella

The only thing I would add is it’s the combination of our SaaS like Dynamics in Office 365, a public cloud offering in Azure. But also our private and hybrid cloud infrastructure which also benefits, because they run on our servers, cloud runs on our servers. So it’s that combination which makes us both unique and reinforcing. And the best example is what we are doing with Azure active directory, the fact that somebody gets on-boarded to Office 365 means that tenant information is in Azure AD that fact that the tenant information is in Azure AD is what makes EMS or our Enterprise Mobility Suite more attractive to a customer manager iOS, Android or Windows devices. That network effect is really now helping us a lot across all of our cloud efforts.

Keith Weiss – Morgan Stanley

Excellent, thank you for the question and a very nice quarter. First, I think to talk a little bit about the growth strategy of Nokia, you guys look to cut expenses pretty aggressively there, but this is – particularly smartphones is a very competitive marketplace, can you tell us a little bit about sort of the strategy to how you actually start to gain share with Lumia on a going forward basis? And may be give us an idea of what levels of share or what levels of kind unit volumes are you going to need to hit to get to that breakeven in FY16?

Satya Nadella

Let me start and Amy you can even add. So overall, we are very focused on I would say thinking about mobility share across the entire Windows family. I already talked about in my remarks about how mobility for us even goes beyond devices, but for this specific question I would even say that, we want to think about mobility not just one form factor of a mobile device because I think that’s where the ultimate price is.

But that said, we are even year-over-year basis seen increased volume for Lumia, it’s coming at the low end in the entry smartphone market and we are pleased with it. It’s come in many markets we now have over 10% that’s the first market I would sort of say that we need to track country-by-country. And the key places where we are going to differentiate is looking at productivity scenarios or the digital work and life scenario that we can light up on our phone in unique ways.

When I can take my Office Lens App use the camera on the phone take a picture of anything and have it automatically OCR recognized and into OneNote in searchable fashion that’s the unique scenario. What we have done with Surface and PPI shows us the way that there is a lot more we can do with phones by broadly thinking about productivity. So this is not about just a Word or Excel on your phone, it is about thinking about Cortana and Office Lens and those kinds of scenarios in compelling ways. And that’s what at the end of the day is going to drive our differentiation and higher end Lumia phones.

Amy Hood

And Keith to answer your specific question, regarding FY16, I think we’ve made the difficult choices to get the cost base to a place where we can deliver, on the exact scenario Satya as outlined, and we do assume that we continue to grow our units through the year and into 2016 in order to get to breakeven.

Rick Sherlund – Nomura

Thanks. I’m wondering if you could talk about the Office for a moment. I’m curious whether you think we’ve seen the worst for Office here with the consumer fall off. In Office 365 growth in margins expanding their – just sort of if you can look through the dynamics and give us a sense, do you think you are actually turned the corner there and we may be seeing the worse in terms of Office growth and margins?

Satya Nadella

Rick, let me just start qualitatively in terms of how I view Office, the category and how it relates to productivity broadly and then I’ll have Amy even specifically talk about margins and what we are seeing in terms of I’m assuming Office renewals is that probably the question. First of all, I believe the category that Office is in, which is productivity broadly for people, the group as well as organization is something that we are investing significantly and seeing significant growth in.

On one end you have new things that we are doing like Cortana. This is for individuals on new form factors like the phones where it’s not about anything that application, but an intelligent agent that knows everything about my calendar, everything about my life and tries to help me with my everyday task.

On the other end, it’s something like Delve which is a completely new tool that’s taking some – what is enterprise search and making it more like the Facebook news feed where it has a graph of all my artifacts, all my people, all my group and uses that graph to give me relevant information and discover. Same thing with Power Q&A and Power BI, it’s a part of Office 365. So we have a pretty expansive view of how we look at Office and what it can do. So that’s the growth strategy and now specifically on Office renewals.

Amy Hood

And I would say in general, let me make two comments. In terms of Office on the consumer side between what we sold on prem as well as the Home and Personal we feel quite good with attach continuing to grow and increasing the value prop. So I think that’s to address the consumer portion.

On the commercial portion, we actually saw Office grow as you said this quarter; I think the broader definition that Satya spoke to the Office value prop and we continued to see Office renewed in our enterprise agreement. So in general, I think I feel like we’re in a growth phase for that franchise.

Walter Pritchard – Citigroup

Hi, thanks. Satya, I wanted to ask you about two statements that you made, one around responsibly making the market for Windows Phone, just kind of following on Keith’s question here. And that’s a – it’s a really competitive market it feels like ultimately you need to be a very, very meaningful share player in that market to have value for developer to leverage the universal apps that you’re talking about in terms of presentations you’ve given and build in and so forth.

And I’m trying to understand how you can do both of those things once and in terms of responsibly making the market for Windows Phone, it feels difficult given your nearest competitors there are doing things that you might argue or irresponsible in terms of making their market given that they monetize it in different ways?

Satya Nadella

Yes. One of beauties of universal Windows app is, it aggregates for the first time for us all of our Windows volume. The fact that even what is an app that runs with a mouse and keyboard on the desktop can be in the store and you can have the same app run in the touch-first on a mobile-first way gives developers the entire volume of Windows which is 300 plus million units as opposed to just our 4% share of mobile in the U.S. or 10% in some country.

So that’s really the reason why we are actively making sure that universal Windows apps is available and developers are taking advantage of it, we have great tooling. Because that’s the way we are going to be able to create the broadest opportunity to your very point about developers getting an ROI for building to Windows. For that’s how I think we will do it in a responsible way.

Heather Bellini – Goldman Sachs

Great. Thank you so much for your time. I wanted to ask a question about – Satya your comments about combining the next version of Windows and to one for all devices and just wondering if you look out, I mean you’ve got kind of different SKU segmentations right now, you’ve got enterprise, you’ve got consumer less than 9 inches for free, the offering that you mentioned earlier that you recently announced. How do we think about when you come out with this one version for all devices, how do you see this changing kind of the go-to-market and also kind of a traditional SKU segmentation and pricing that we’ve seen in the past?

Satya Nadella

Yes. My statement Heather was more to do with just even the engineering approach. The reality is that we actually did not have one Windows; we had multiple Windows operating systems inside of Microsoft. We had one for phone, one for tablets and PCs, one for Xbox, one for even embedded. So we had many, many of these efforts. So now we have one team with the layered architecture that enables us to in fact one for developers bring that collective opportunity with one store, one commerce system, one discoverability mechanism. It also allows us to scale the UI across all screen sizes; it allows us to create this notion of universal Windows apps and being coherent there.

So that’s what more I was referencing and our SKU strategy will remain by segment, we will have multiple SKUs for enterprises, we will have for OEM, we will have for end-users. And so we will – be disclosing and talking about our SKUs as we get further along, but this my statement was more to do with how we are bringing teams together to approach Windows as one ecosystem very differently than we ourselves have done in the past.

Ed Maguire – CLSA

Hi, good afternoon. Satya you made some comments about harmonizing some of the different products across consumer and enterprise and I was curious what your approach is to viewing your different hardware offerings both in phone and with Surface, how you’re go-to-market may change around that and also since you decided to make the operating system for sub 9-inch devices free, how you see the value proposition and your ability to monetize that user base evolving over time?

Satya Nadella

Yes. The statement I made about bringing together our productivity applications across work and life is to really reflect the notion of dual use because when I think about productivity it doesn’t separate out what I use as a tool for communication with my family and what I use to collaborate at work. So that’s why having this one team that thinks about outlook.com as well as Exchange helps us think about those dual use. Same thing with files and OneDrive and OneDrive for business because we want to have the software have the smart about separating out the state carrying about IT control and data protection while me as an end user get to have the experiences that I want. That’s how we are thinking about harmonizing those digital life and work experiences.

On the hardware side, we would continue to build hardware that fits with these experiences if I understand your question right, which is how will be differentiate our first party hardware, we will build first party hardware that’s creating category, a good example is what we have done with Surface Pro 3. And in other places where we have really changed the Windows business model to encourage a plethora of OEMs to build great hardware and we are seeing that in fact in this holiday season, I think you will see a lot of value notebooks, you will see clamshells. So we will have the full price range of our hardware offering enabled by this new windows business model.

And I think the last part was how will we monetize? Of course, we will again have a combination, we will have our OEM monetization and some of these new business models are about monetizing on the backend with Bing integration as well as our services attached and that’s the reason fundamentally why we have these zero-priced Windows SKUs today.