Author Archives: kiril

Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: GreenQloud

GreenQloud is headquartered in Iceland and takes advantage of the country’s unique location between Europe and North America. The company boasts its product is 100% powered by renewable geothermal and hydropower energy, which is not common among Cloud Computing competitors and other industry sectors. Actually, the company – established in 2010 – offers hosting and storage for both the European and North American markets, utilizing multiple high speed fiber connections to Iceland.

At present, it employs less than 10 people but offers unique opportunity to those who are really interested in protection of environment. Eirkur Hrafnsson, GreenQloud’s CEO and co-founder, decided to position the company at a location that can benefit from the geothermal springs and hydropower available at the data center run by the company.

As a matter of fact, the product is still in beta testing while the company plans to open the world’s first carbon-neutral cloud service. GreenQloud’s service will be completely compatible with Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Simple Storage Service (S3) and Elastic Block Storage (EBS) services, enabling customers to take advantage of the company’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering.

There are other players in Europe starting to market themselves as green clouds – but by leveraging carbon offsets, which will make them more expensive and not truly green. There are no green clouds in the US that we know of,”

Hrafnsson said in an interview with Web Host Industry Review.

The company’s co-founder wants to offer Cloud Computing services to customers that are interested in managing their carbon footprint cloud hosting while embracing clean power cloud hosting.

GreenQloud plans to launch a large scale service by the end of third quarter of 2011 and start gaining profits within three years. Those ambitious plans are backed by growing demand for green technologies all over the world, including in the Cloud Computing sector. Angel investors secured USD 500,000 in funding for the company and GreenQloud is looking for a second round of funding.

In September 2010, the company signed a deal with Nimsoft, a CA Technologies company, to use its Nimsoft Monitoring Solution (NMS) in order to provide clients with 24×7 visibility. “Clients are very interested in becoming more environmentally responsible when it comes to IT, but they certainly don’t want to achieve that responsibility at the cost of service quality or peace of mind,” Eirikur Hrafnsson commented in a press release after last year’s deal. The use of NMS allows GreenQloud to offer clients a flexible set of monitoring options ranging from a baseline package to a variety of premium add-ons, the two companies explained in the press release. The company’s solution also utilizes Cloud.com’s Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) stack featuring Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization.

In fact, GreenQloud offers an innovative Cloud Computing solution based on green energy while claiming that it can secure stable energy prices. The company’s business model already attracted attention of many prospect investors and customers and the company has pretty good chance to become a leading IaaS and Cloud Computing provider. In a world affected by constantly fluctuating energy markets, those who can deliver a solution that offers insurance against energy price volatility can boast significant competitive advantage.

By Kiril Kirilov

Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: OpenGamma

OpenGamma Combines Open Source and Cloud Computing in Innovative Platform

OpenGamma is a good example how Cloud Computing changed the way entrepreneurs and software vendors are looking for new software and technology solutions. Kirk Wylie, Elaine McLeod and Jim Moores founded OpenGamma in 2009 and rumors were a new London-based technology start-up is entering financial services market. Traditionally, London hosts many financial companies and it was not quite unexpected that a newcompany introduced its services in a lucrative market such as financial industry. The company, however, offered a different approach in a historically conservative industry field whose members acknowledged that a new and innovative business model is more than welcome.

The company’s flagship product is its OpenGamma Platform, offering customers possibility to take  advantage of Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS). The system can be deployed in-house or to be hosted as a SaaS. Another option is to use the product in a model allowing some components to run in a customer’s data center while others are provided as a service.

Actually, OpenGamma is developing a financial analytics and risk management platform aimed at users who actively trade in global financial markets. Another advantage offered by the company is that the platform is Open Source, so it is largely customizable and designed to allow external developers modify its source code.

The platform is accessible via web browser, while allowing customers to get batch risk reports in Excel and PDF formats. Additionally, OpenGamma is designed to use customer provided reference data or industry standard one. Encrypted data storage and transfer is a functionality that should be, and is, incorporated in the platform.

OpenGamma features also full dependency graph construction and introspection, end-user modifiable calculations, and advanced user interfaces using web technologies, the company web site reads. An Open Source solution might look tricky and many companies avoid using such software platforms for various reasons although many governments around the globe adopted such software at highest government level. OpenGamma makes a step further, offering open architecture that allows customers to integrate their existing systems with the one delivered by the company. OpenGamma Platform boasts its completely open software nature which is not a widespread solution but certainly is an interesting one for those who are deeply involved in the ever growing sector of financial services.

Unsurprisingly, the company managed to secure two rounds of funding in the past two years with Accel Partners leading a Series A funding in 2009. FirstMark Capital provided a Series B funding a couple of years later, while Accel Partners participated in the round as a return investor.

The global economic crisis was in part a result of the financial system’s inability to manage real-time risk across interconnected asset classes and geographic regions. For our global economy to recover the trust and confidence it has lost, it must change the way risk is measured and managed, and OpenGamma provides the only platform that can achieve this critical goal,” Lawrence D. Lenihan, Founder and Managing Director at FirstMark, commented in a press release.

OpenGamma wants to utilize the funding for establishing strategic alliances within global markets and expanding its R&D department. It will have to compete with many well established software vendors for its place under the sun although some of them already lost momentum for various reasons.

The complexity of the financial markets, stronger corporate governance and more regulatory requirements has IT departments seeking a technically strong and architecturally modern analytical platform that can easily integrate siloed, third-party applications with other major financial components – with the flexibility to fix source code in real-time,” Kirk Wylie, founder and CEO of OpenGamma, said in a company press release after the Series B funding.

Open source and Cloud Computing are very similar to some extent, and OpenGamma entered a very specific market niche not easy to develop but full of prospect customers. The company sets foot in a market in which one million questions are asked daily, hence one should expect they are well prepared to compete with mastodons they will face while trying to grab a respectable market share.

By Kiril Kirilov

Runa Capital Sets Aside USD 50 Million to Back Cloud Computing and IT Companies

Runa Capital Sets Aside USD 50 Million to Back Cloud Computing and IT Companies

Moscow-based venture capital company Runa Capital decided to increase its funding program to USD 50 million aimed at backing technology and Cloud Computing companies in Russia and abroad. The goal of the venture capital fund is to invest in early-stage Russian IT companies and growing number of investors share the company’s vision that Russia’s technology market has huge potential, the company said in a press release.

Competing on a global level is often a problem for Russian IT companies although the government in Moscow announced a strategy to intensively develop country’s IT sector and Cloud Computing, in particular. Actually, without backing from angel investors and venture capital funds, Russian IT start-ups are destined to suffer from insufficient funding, many local analysts admit.

At present, Runa Capital includes partners like Edward Nicholson, former CEO of Brunswick-UBS in Russia and the CIS and Alexander Katalov, investor in Begun, Softkey, Alawar and ElcomSoft.  Dmitry Chikhachev is one of the key figures in the venture capital fund – a serial entrepreneur and business executive who believes that Russia’s technology companies can compete on equal terms with Western competitors but must be supported by private capital flows since the state is not able to back each promising project. In an interview with Wall Street Journal he admits that local tech start-ups are well positioned in terms of technology and knowledge base but experience difficulties in finding institutional investors to support their efforts. Western investors tend to be cautious when pouring money in Russia and Runa Capital just fills an existing gap in backing promising tech start-ups.

In 2010 we successfully invested in two projects – the voice-enabled social network OnAir3G and cloud-based application development platform Hivext.com. Today’s expansion of our fund to USD 50 million will ensure that we can continue to build upon our primary objective of elevating talented Russian technology teams to the world stage,” Chikhachev explains in a company press release.

Another eight to ten investments are expected in 2011, according to him. The company’s founders claim the venture capital fund is ready to invest in Russian projects abroad, which is a clear signal that new market players can expect backing no matter of their geographical location. Actually, this is good news for Russian tech professionals who experience difficulties to fund their promising projects overseas.

Traditionally, Russia’s economy is heavily dependent on energy exports while President Dimitry Medveded declared the country should develop advanced technologies if it is going to have a truly competitive and sustainable economy. As a matter of fact, Russian tech companies can offer more value for money compared to Chinese competitors, for example, but Beijing invests heavily in technology start-ups while Moscow bureaucrats tend to forget that technology is what will increase a country’s competitive advantage once mineral resources are depleted.

Alexander Galitsky, one of the angel investors in the team of Runa Capital and a former head of digital communications for several Soviet space programs, is obviously a man who has expertise in the field of technology. He is now part of a group of investors that change the way Russian tech companies are run, backed by private capital injections instead of relying on government funding. It is worth investing in Russian and East European tech start-ups for a number of reasons, Skype being developed by former Soviet software developers just one of them.

More importantly, a huge market is knocking at the door because Russia is not the country it used to be and Russians will make use of growing number of advanced hardware, hence their appetite for technology will also grow. One who is underestimating the growth potential of Russian tech and Cloud Computing start-ups is simply not well informed or fixed on the past.

In truth, technology has no country of origin and for various reasons North America still relies on European and Asian newcomers to keep its technological health in good form. Just take a look at the alumni and faculty list of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and you will realize that investing in tech and Cloud Computing start-ups outside the United States is more than a wise move.

By Kiril Kirilov

CSC Introduces First On-premise Private Cloud Billed as a Service

CSC Introduces First On-premise Private Cloud Billed as a Service

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), which provides consulting and IT services to industry and government introduced .CSC BizCloud™, the only on-premise private cloud billed as a service currently available, the

company said. The main advantage offered by the new cloud solution is its ability to combine the privacy, security and control of a private cloud with the agility, convenience and commercial model of a public cloud. Thus, organizations that are security-sensitive will be able to adopt Cloud Computing solutions.

“BizCloud and CloudCompute provide the centerpiece of the modern virtualized datacenter. There is a model for every organization – whether you want self-managed or a managed service option, or you want private, public or a hybrid cloud, CSC is following through on our promise of delivering the right cloud, the right way. Until now, organizations have told us they were stalled by having to choose between the economic advantages of the public cloud and the security, control and performance offered by the private cloud. We have been listening, and now we are acting with BizCloud and CloudCompute. With CSC, every organization can easily make the initial move to ‘as a service’ – infrastructure, platform and software on-demand,”

Siki Giunta, vice president of Cloud Computing and Software Services, CSC, said in a press release.

The company uses the Vblock™ Infrastructure Platform from VCE to build its CloudCompute infrastructure. BizCloud shares the same infrastructure as the CSC public and off-premise private cloud models, enabling organizations to move workloads to the right cloud model based on the security and control those workloads require.

CSC is to offer CloudCompute in three packages: Standard, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus that will be rolled out in stages all over the world.

The company’s shares broke a new resistance level of USD 54.06 per share and closed at USD 54.60 on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Obviously, the company’s stock will be supported by the news and many market analysts expect SCS’s stocks to continue their upward trend.

CSC reported revenue worth USD 16.1 billion for the 12 months ended October 1, 2010.

By Kiril Kirilov

Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: Zimory

Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: Zimory

Berlin-based Zimory GmbH is a cloud start-up, describing its core product as a Carrier Grade Cloud Computing solution suite that delivers end-to-end service for private, public and database cloud. Actually, the company is involved in Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) business allowing enterprises to transform corporate virtualized data centers into Cloud Services infrastructure while offering application and data portability.

Their solution offers on-demand scalability, which is not unique in the world of Cloud Computing, but the company utilizes an open and independent technology that is able to connect different  virtualization technologies into one cloud, allowing flexible movement between private and public clouds.

Zimory offers three architecture types for its cloud solution. The first one is called zimory®connect and is designed to be used in cases where a single instance is required in each of the data centers as a local management hub. It provides the most important technological features, allowing customers to self-connect to local resources. The second architecture type is named zimory®host and is deployed in situations where there is a need to connect hosts with open source virtualization technologies to the cloud environment. This solution provides advanced features usually implemented in commercial hypervisors.

The most advanced solution is zimory®manage, which delivers a manual management point for cloud users and provides API interfaces. An advanced feature allows Multiple Cloud Managers to connect to one or more Cloud Connectors, thus a particular users can adjust their user structure, portal and API to meet their specific needs and requirements. Zimory Manage offers extended capability to connect to a single Zimory Connect, which enhances flexibility.

Zimory boasts some unique features of its cloud solution including availability of over 10,000 virtual machines and full personalization. Personalized solutions feature possibility to select a data center that meets the SLA needs of clients.

Zimory Enterprise Cloud allows customers allocate and invoice temporarily available resources allocated to other processes while increasing infrastructure utilization taking advantage of connecting geographically separated data centers into a homogeneous cloud. The company’s technology enables customers to utilize the unused hardware resources and allocate them to other users, hence to charge for their use.

Venture capital investors riding the wave of Cloud Computing spotted Zimory in October 2010, and the company secured EUR 4 million Euro in a funding round led by Creathor Venture, High-Tech Gruenderfonds and VC Fonds Technologie Berlin, managed by IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft, T-Venture and KFW. Following the funding, Ruediger Baumann was appointed as the new CEO of Zimory with the goal to further expand the company’s market positions.

“Baumann is the perfect complement to the technical expertise we have at Zimory and joins the company at the right moment to help Zimory expand its sales and marketing efforts,” Maximilian Ahrens, CPO & Founder of Zimory, commented in a press release.

Investors were encouraged by the growing market for Cloud Computing services and saw some unique competitive advantages in Zimory’s cloud solution, according to Christian Stein, Investment Manager with Creathor Venture.

We are very excited to invest in Zimory as the European player in the promising cloud computing software market. Zimory shows tremendous potential, especially with respect to its database virtualization technology which will put it well ahead of its competitors,” he said.

In January 2001, the company signed a 5-year strategic agreement with T-Systems to provide Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), confirming its market expansion plans encouraged by its first round of funding. The company faces strong competition from well-established market players and will inevitably apply even more innovative approaches to attract customers in a fast developing market. In fact, Zimory is a spin-off of Deutsche Telekom Laboratories which, in short, means the start-up should possess technological ability to offer innovative solutions. In a fast paced Cloud Computing market, however, corporate business model is also important, and Zimory looks like a company which realizes the importance of business models very well.

By Kiril Kirilov

Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: ScaleUp Technologies

ScaleUp Targets Cloud Services “Point of Purchase”

Germany’s ScaleUp Technologies started offering cloud services after being in business as a managed service provider for over a decade, a fact that gives them a competitive advantage in terms of established business practices and management vision. The company delivers a self-service cloud management platform aimed at providers of Application Centric Cloud Solutions and Cloud Storage while offering public, private and hybrid clouds.

ScaleUp’s data centers are located in Berlin and Hamburg and are well situated to serve various locations across Europe under strict supervision by the European Union authorities. In January, 2001 the company announced the launch of its 1.5 release of the ScaleUp Cloud Management Platform which is able to support federation across multiple providers. The company defines “federation” as ability for cloud providers to offer their existing resources to customers who already have relationship with a certain provider or broker. Actually, ScaleUp introduces a business model similar to ones offered by Expedia and Orbizt, Scott Sanchez of ScaleUp explains in a company blog post.

The company insists its platform is something more than a user interface, allowing customers to locate, order and manage their cloud resources. Managing accounts is not a new functionality but interacting with providers is an option not integrated in many cloud platforms. For their part, cloud providers are able manage their customers across different roles while offering their resources in a system featuring self-service capabilities. Cloud providers are also able to integrate, apply and enforce various business rules, including automation and security rules.

ScaleUp’s cloud storage solution stores an uploaded object 3 times in their storage cloud, allowing users to create access control lists for every object, therefore defining strict rules defining who has access to a particular object. The platform is compatible with the S3 storage API and can be utilized via utilities and development tools which use an S3 based API for access.

The company realized that customers are attracted by scalability offered by Cloud Computing solutions, hence provides a highly scalable solution, enabling users to scale the allocated resources up or down at any time. Support options include scheduled and automatic scaling functionality.

As a matter of fact, the company’s vision for its business development is closely related to the cloud “point of purchase”, where consumers meet providers while locating, ordering and managing the cloud resources they need. On the other hand, cloud providers need to manage users and resources, charge for services and resources, and efficiently offer their services.
Thus, ScaleUp is covering a specific niche in the Cloud Computing business relying on the company’s background as a managed service provider. The eliminate the need for users to care about how things work, delivering an integrated platform while allowing providers to offer complex technology in a more simple manner.

The company is among the Cloud Computing pioneers in Europe and should be considered a serious market player although the number of competitors is growing and innovative technologies hit the market every day. Strict legislative framework within the European Union is another competitive advantage, assuring customers that their data will be secured according to strict standards while data protection is also guaranteed.

By Kiril Kirilov

Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: Workbooks

Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: Workbooks

A small team of Cloud Computing entrepreneurs founded Workbooks Ltd. in 2007, realizing that future is in cloud-based technologies and applications. John Cheney (CEO), James Kay (CTO), Jenny Robb (CFO), and Edward Berks (Sales Director) were among those European business people who successfully started technology companies before 2007 but their new start-up was entirely cloud-based, offering web-based CRM and business applications delivered via Software as a Service (SaaS).

The flagship products of the UK-based company include Workbooks CRM and Workbooks Business that were developed with SaaS in mind (John Cheney founded one of the first SaaS companies in the late 1990s).

Workbooks solution features advanced CRM functionality along with traditional resources integrated in such a software product. The CRM allows recording of information related to people and organizations and enables categorization according to roles and interests. Interactions, including activities, emails, opportunities, cases, orders and invoices are showed on a single screen while activities and meetings can be recorded against any record type. The system features information and contacts sharing with systems like Outlook, Google and Lotus Notes.

Notes & Attachments module allows notes to be written utilizing a rich HTML editor and access control is provided. Workbooks CRM offers functionality to track relations between organizations and people with extended ability to track third party relationships. Built-in global search secures acceptable search-ability within the entire database created by the system.

Email templates enable users to create various types of standard email messages with the system allowing customers to send outbound email from Workbooks’ own system or through existing company email infrastructure. The product can be integrated with Outlook securing synchronization of contacts, activities and emails. Users can create custom rules regarding which records will be synchronized.

Workbooks CRM offers options to record leads in Workbooks and allocate them to individuals or queues allowing tracking against marketing campaigns. The software features web to lead capabilities, enabling users to capture leads from different websites, creating different forms to capture different types of leads. Campaigns functionality can be used to group prospects together and create targeted marketing activities. Additional feature allows users to track which leads convert into orders and invoices, a powerful tool for measuring marketing investment.

Pipeline Management and the Forecasting tool are advantageous in creating sales forecasts for different periods, while sales opportunities can be converted into PDFs, enabling creation of quotations. Other tools include sales orders, invoices, purchase order tracking, supplier purchase orders, and transaction documents. Reports and Dashboards can be used for all transaction types with ability to export all documents to PDF. The product is also able to export to Csv and Excel and imports CSV format files.

The multi-company feature would be of benefit to people managing more than one trading entity, allowing also trading in multiple currencies and tax regimes.

Overall, Workbooks CRM is a good business application that offers all typical advantages of cloud-based systems, such as no need to install and support software, and reduced costs of licensing fees. The company delivers good value for money which helped it in securing two rounds of funding so far.

In 2008, the Reading-based company attracted GBP 2.1 million in its first round of funding that was completed through the Government Enterprise Investment Scheme. A new round of funding followed in 2010 when Workbooks managed to get GBP 2 million secured by angel investors. John Cheney, CEO and founder of Workbooks.com, explained in a press release that the company will use the funds to invest in technology.

SMEs typically don’t have the spending power to make huge investments in integrated IT systems and as a result, are often left with a mish-mash of different applications for accounting, sales and marketing that can’t communicate with one another. The result in most cases is a confusing mess and despite the best efforts of managers building spreadsheets to plug the gap, all-too-often business opportunities are compromised or missed altogether. With this additional funding, we will be able to deliver enterprise-class business process functionality at SME prices to even more organizations, helping them to shorten the prospect-to-cash time line and ultimately grow their businesses more quickly,” he added.

Thus, the company is targeting even broader customer base, while betting on an innovative business model that seems to be working for Cloud Computing start-ups like Workbooks. The company is definitely a rising star showing potential to compete on equal grounds with the big market players.

By Kiril Kirlov

Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: Virtensys

Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: Virtensys

Manchester-based Virtensys started developing I/O Virtualization technologies for servers and storage platforms and needed less than a year to secure its first round of venture capital funding in October 2006, after venture capital investors Scottish Equity Partners provided Series A funding worth GBP 6.41 million to the start-up founded by entrepreneurs who left market leaders such as Adaptec, Brocade, Fujitsu, HP, ICL and Intel to establish a new enterprise.
The company has bet on an innovative vision that data center servers and storage systems will no longer physically contain complex high-speed I/O adapters. Virtensys’ solution includes native PCI Express interface that eliminates all network and storage aggregation switches while all network cables connecting each and every server are replaced with a single PCI Express cable.

Virtensys boasts solutions that allow a flexible server I/O optimization, enabling customers to increase their data center and server operational agility while utilizing industry-standard x86 servers from multiple vendors.
Solutions take into account the concept of multi-core CPUs and enterprise server virtualization where customers meet increasing demands by a multi-core server which is demanding I/O exceeding that of several single-use servers. The company’s approach to Cloud Computing eliminates dependency on a single server vendor and offers virtualization of hard-to-virtualize applications.

Virtensys’ products include VIO-400x Series I/O Virtualization Appliances that consolidate and virtualize network and storage connectivity to a rack of servers providing up to 80Gbps of Ethernet uplink bandwidth, 32Gbps of FC uplink bandwidth, and/or up to 16TB of local storage connectivity to up to 16 servers, the company said in a press release on its product portfolio.

Following an initial Series A funding by Scottish Equity Partners, the company managed to secure USD 12 million in Series B funding round in 2008, provided by an investor syndicate lead by Scottish Equity Partners and comprising Celtic House Venture Partners and GIMV. “That the original investors subscribed fully to the Series B round is significant. It validates our strategy and demonstrates their confidence in the market opportunity and the demand for our products,” Andy Roberts, chairman of the board of directors of VirtenSys, said in a press release on the deal.

The company used the funds raised to open its headquarters in the United States and to further expand its presence in the American market. “We achieved a significant milestone with this second round of financing. Now, as we embark on the next growth phase, we are very well-positioned with the strong backing and endorsement from our investors and our board of directors. We have a great team spirit and exceptional talent in both the U.K and the U.S., and you can just feel the momentum building.

It’s a very exciting time for Virtensys,” Ahmet Houssein, Virtensys’ president and CEO, commented in 2008.

A year later, in August 2009, the company secured a third round of venture capital financing, getting USD 16 million from Scottish Equity Partners, Celtic House Venture Partners, and GIMV. By completing a third round of funding, Virtensys announced its expansion policy will not be affected by growing competition from companies like Xsigo, Netirion and Next I/O.

Actually, Virtensys is well positioned to compete on equal grounds with peers in the sphere of virtualization networking. The company is constantly nominated as one of the most innovative European IT companies and has a clear vision what its future looks like in the world of Cloud Computing.

By Kiril Kirilov

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