LA City Council delays Google Apps decision

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

The city of Los Angeles has decided to delay making a decision about whether or not to adopt Google Apps across its network, citing cost concerns.

The City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee did not take any action regarding the proposed contract, which has been debated for months as one of the more high-profile public sector Google Apps deals. That means the matter will pass to the full City Council for a vote later this month, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Security concerns had been prominent during earlier discussions of the proposal, which would see the city move off a Novell system and use Google’s hosting service for e-mail and office applications. But the council was more pragmatic, noting that implementing the system would cost $1.5 million more than continuing on with the current system and asking for further details before voting. “The urgency case hasn’t been made,” said Councilman Bernard Parks, chairman of the Budget and Finance committee, according to the Times.

Google’s argument is that the cost of adopting Google Apps would be far less than the cost of upgrading to a different type of modern system, estimating that the city could save $13.8 million over the contract.

Originally posted at Relevant Results

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LA City Council delays Google Apps decision



Flickr hit with Tuesday morning outage

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Yahoo-owned social photo site Flickr went dark Tuesday at around 8:50 a.m. PDT. The outage, which remains ongoing at time of this initial post, is keeping users from accessing all parts of the site, however photos that had been embedded on third-party sites are still able to be viewed.

An update on Flickr’s official blog, timestamped at 9:51 a.m. PDT, says “all hands are on deck,” and the problem will soon be resolved. That was followed shortly thereafter by a post at 10:05 a.m. PDT saying that that outage “shouldn’t be too much longer!”

Flickr’s last major outage, which took place back in February 2007, resulted in the company revealing some details about the immensity of the photo sharing site, which at that time was serving close to a billion photos a day.

More details as they come…

Updated 10:55 a.m. PDT: A Yahoo representative had no details on the nature of the outage, but it appears to be a problem with the Web servers rather than a data issue. Yahoo updated the Flickr blog to inform users that photos embedded into a Web site should still be appeared on those sites.

Updated 11:35 a.m. PDT: Flickr is back up and running.

Updated 12:01 p.m. PDT: Flickr released a statement on the outage.

“Flickr regularly makes routine updates to the site – and once in a blue moon we hit a snag in the road. Flickr is now back to normal and no data was lost during this morning’s outage. Members who might have been uploading at the time should have received an error message, but should be able to share photos and videos now. We continued to serve photos to 3rd party sites throughout the service interruption. Thanks for bearing with us and feel free to let the team know if you continue to experience any issues.”

Correction 11:35 a.m. PDT: This story initially misstated that embedded images could not be viewed during the outage.

Originally posted at Web Crawler

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Flickr hit with Tuesday morning outage



HP’s Hurd dings cloud computing, IBM

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

ORLANDO, Fla.–Cloud computing? It’s got its place, but apparently not one very close to the heart of Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Mark Hurd today.

At the Gartner Symposium here, Hurd said cloud computing has promise but that he and customers he speaks to are leery of moving important applications to another company’s infrastructure outside the company’s own firewall.

“I think it’s a very attractive model, but there will be challenges,” Hurd said. “At the end of the day, if you tell a CEO, ‘Put our e-mail in the cloud,’ a certain amount of CEOs will tell you not (to). If (HP Chief Information Officer Randy) Mott told me, ‘Put the general ledger up in cloud,’ I’d say go back to work, we’re not doing that.”

The cloud is real for many consumer services, he said. So why isn’t it suitable for HP’s core financial records stored in the general ledger? Security, for one thing.

“We get about 1,000 hacks a day. They’re more sophisticated every month,” Hurd said. “Security and reliability is a huge thing. It’s unlikely we’d put anything outside the firewall that’s material in nature that we couldn’t 100 percent secure.”

HP CEO Mark Hurd explains process re-engineering.

HP CEO Mark Hurd explains process re-engineering.

(Credit:
Stephen Shankland/CNET)

Hurd also said cloud computing has a branding issue among CEOs he speaks to. In one gathering he was doing fine until he raised the issue.

“I got a lot of boos after that…From a nontechnical CEO perspective, ‘cloud computing’ does not sound very clear to them,” he said. The message he gets from those CEOs: “If this cloud computing is so cool, try to break this down into simple clear services that help my business be a better business.”

Moving beyond services
In an onstage interview, Hurd also described HP’s overall strategy, starting with building blocks of servers, PCs, networking equipment, and storage at the foundation, working up through software and putting services at the top.

Well, at the top for now. HP is headed for another layer: specific services packaged for particular customer segments, or “verticals” in industry parlance.

“The natural outgrowth for us will be more focus for us on vertical solutions,” he said. HP won’t get into practices for human resources or executive compensation, but will work in areas in which it can extend its computing technology ingredients.

Hurd said that spanning this range of products and services means that scale matters, for example in bargaining with component suppliers. Here, he dinged competitor IBM for selling its PC business to Lenovo, though without mentioning Big Blue by name.

“When a company would sell off its PC business, for example, you would have a problem because you would no longer be as big a customer to all those people who supply products to that supply chain,” Hurd said.

He also took a potshot when asked about how HP’s strategy differs from IBM’s.

“I don’t follow them very closely,” he wisecracked. “It sounds like they’re trying to chase us.”

Beefing up sales
Gartner analyst Donna Scott said big customers find HP easy to deal with, but for others, the company is fragmented.

Hurd acknowledged there are problems, but said HP is working on them.

“We have a strategy to sell more. If somebody is interested in buying more, our strategies are aligned,” he deadpanned.

In particular, when it comes to revenue growth, HP is aiming at smaller companies, he said. At present 70 percent of spending on IT comes from HP’s top 2,000 biggest accounts.

Hurd pointed to an emphasis on sales as one area where he’s trying to shift HP’s culture.

“(Company co-founder David) Packard used to say, ‘If we build great products customers will find them,’” Hurd said. “We actually want to sell them too.”

Revamping HP’s own IT
Hewlett-Packard has focused on cutting costs of its own computing infrastructure. In 2004, the year before Hurd took over as CEO, “We had $79 billion in revenue. We made $3.5 billion (in net income). We spent $75.5 billion.” So, he asked the company’s staff, “What do you spend it on?”

IT was a big part of it, accounting for $4.2 billion. Of that 82 percent was just to keep things running.

“One of our big spends was IT. We had more IT professionals in the company than we had salespeople,” he said.

“We had IT spread out. Everybody had a little bit of ownership,” Hurd said. There were 87 data centers, 6,000 applications, 19,000 people, 24,000 servers, 20 petabytes of data stored at 700 data marts.

The company “flipped the model,” cutting expenses and redirecting funds to the future instead. “Our spend is down 40 percent and our innovation is up 2X in dollars.”

It was painful and HP made mistakes on the way, but it was a personal priority for Hurd.

“I get a lot of CIOs who show me how bad their IT is,” Hurd said. When he sees it, “My first reaction is it’s because of a bad CEO.”

Originally posted at Deep Tech

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HP’s Hurd dings cloud computing, IBM



DigitalGlobe’s new satellite yields first images

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

A first shot from DigitalGlobe's WorldView-2 satellite shows the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.

A first shot from DigitalGlobe's WorldView-2 satellite shows the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.

(Credit:
DigitalGlobe)

The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center San Antonio, Texas, where DigitalGlobe is showing off its first images for the GeoInt 2009 conference.

The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center San Antonio, Texas, where DigitalGlobe is showing off its first images for the GeoInt 2009 conference.

(Credit:
DigitalGlobe)

Twelve days after it launched WorldView-2 into orbit, DigitalGlobe has released its first images from the satellite, which will supply high-resolution photography for Google’s and Microsoft’s online mapping services.

The first images are of two locations in San Antonio, Texas, where the company is showing off its work at the GeoInt 2009 Symposium this week, and of Dallas Love Airport.

The quality of the images should improve over these first shots, taken Monday. “More refinements to early-stage images can be expected as the ongoing check-out and calibration continues,” DigitaGlobe said.

Microsoft and Nokia sponsored the WorldView-2 launch, but the former’s Bing and the latter’s Navteq won’t be the only services to get the imagery. They’ll share it with Google, which has been the sole online beneficiary of images from GeoEye-1, a satellite launched last year by DigitalGlobe rival GeoEye.

The new satellite is able to capture imagery with a resolution fine enough to detect features as small as 0.46 meters, or 1 1/2 feet, on the ground, though federal regulations permit DigitalGlobe to offer images with only a maximum resolution of 0.5 meters for general commercial use, the Longmont, Colo.-based DigitalGlobe said. Other DigitalGlobe satellites with sub-meter resolution in orbit already are QuickBird and WorldView-1.

“WorldView-2 is expected to improve the speed and rate of imagery delivery to the government and commercial markets with large-scale collection capacity and daily revisit rates,” meaning that the satellite can photograph the same site multiple times during the same day, the company said. The satellite can capture multispectral imagery–eight bands of light, or more than what’s visible to humans–though at a lower resolution of 1.8 meters.

Dallas Love Airport as photographed by WorldView-2.

Dallas Love Airport as photographed by WorldView-2.

(Credit:
DigitalGlobe)

Originally posted at Deep Tech

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DigitalGlobe’s new satellite yields first images



Teen virtual world Meez sees profit

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Meez, a start-up that expanded last year from an avatar creation service into a full-out virtual world for teens, is touting some good news: it’s been profitable since April and “every month is better than the last month,” CEO John Cahill told CNET News.

Right now, Meez has about 13 million registered users, 3 million unique hits per month, and only 20 full-time employees plus about 10 contractors.

Where’s the money coming from? Premium subscriptions, ads on the free version of the site, and virtual goods bought and sold with its internal “Coinz” currency–which includes a mobile virtual-gift deal with Verizon.

The company is making this announcement in conjunction with the debut of its MySpace application, which should be live on the News Corp.-owned social network shortly. It’s Meez’s first integration with a big social network.

“The MySpace app is designed to allow people from MySpace to use the Meez virtual world, and people using the virtual world on Meez.com will be able to integrate with the MySpace users,” Cahill explained.

So why is the company’s first social-network platform product built on MySpace, which has had well-documented drops in traffic? The demographic and culture are a better fit, Cahill said, pointing to MySpace’s younger-skewing user base as well as a culture that encourages meeting new people online.

“We are working on a Facebook app as well, but every time we surveyed our audience, our audience was very much more MySpace-based than Facebook,” Cahill said. “It’s about discovery. It’s about finding new friends. On Facebook, your friends actually tend to be your (real-life) friends.”

Getting onto social platforms will mean that Meez is starting to compete for attention (and that other buzzword, “engagement”) with social gaming behemoths like Zynga and Playfish. Brushing elbows with the companies that already have come to dominate entertainment on social networks is par for the course, Cahill insisted.

“We’re all competing for Internet time,” he said.

Originally posted at The Social

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Teen virtual world Meez sees profit