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News from the Cloud: Royal Mail turns to the Cloud

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24th Nov 2009
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A monthly round-up of highlights from our sister site, BusinessCloud9.com.

Royal Mail Group turns to Cloud Computing

24 Nov - The Royal Mail Group has signed a Cloud services contract with CSC to provide 30,000 employees with access to Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) as part of its strategy to reduce IT costs.

The Group has already cut 10% from its annual IT budget of £110m by cutting back on outsourcing. CSC's Prism Alliance with BT and Steria has a 10-year contract to run Royal Mail’s data centres, networks, voice services, desktop computers and hundreds of business application systems.

Cutting down on high cost services and convert others into low-cost commodity services is expected to save another 20% from its annual budget.

“This deal forms part of Royal Mail's drive to invest in new technology to improve efficiency and customer service,” said Royal Mail Group's Head of Technology Service Delivery, Carol Olney. "The Microsoft suite will give people across Royal Mail Group the tools they need to do their jobs more effectively, enabling our business units to collaborate with each other, partners and other external organisations more freely, easily and securely while securing cost savings."

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Come and join the debate at the Cloud Computing event of 2009

18 Nov - On 2 December, SiftMedia is hosting the first Business Cloud Summit, a one day conference that will explore the transformative potential of Cloud Computing and ask the questions you need to be asking about this revolutionary new computing model and its impact on your organisations.
 
Thought leaders from the foremost Cloud Computing companies, such as Salesforce.com, Netsuite, SuccessFactors, CSC, BT, Google and Tibco, will debate key issues alongside end users from real world companies, such as Telegraph Media Group, EasyNet and the Ministry of Justice, who will share their experiences of moving to the Cloud and offer advice to their peers on how to manage the change. The full agenda can be found at www.businesscloud9.com/summit.
 
Nearly 200 people have already signed up for this landmark event. Registration normally costs £295, but we're inviting five AccountingWEB.co.uk members to attend the event totally FREE OF CHARGE. If you'd like to be one of our five lucky members, just send an email to [email protected] with your name, job title, organisation, contact details and a brief reason why you would like to attend.

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Clouds ahead in the Big Blue sky

17 Nov - IBM has added a Smart Analytics Cloud to its portfolio of web-based applications. Using its massive Cloud infrastructure, IBM will host private business intelligence Clouds for its clients based on its Cognos Business Intelligence tools.

“This new Cloud and the insights that our analytics will provide are the next step in the continuous transformation of our business to better serve our clients,” said Pat Toole, IBM chief information officer. “I expect this first-of-its-kind approach will help drive both new growth opportunities as well as have a significant impact on cost savings, which is exactly the kind of client-focused value that businesses are asking of their IT organisations.”

The new offering runs on a System z10 mainframe computer with 48 processors and strong cryptography, enabling it to handle up to 10,000 secure transactions a second. This Blue Insight infrastructure is used by about 50,000 individuals, with the number expected to double by the end of the first quarter next year.

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NetSuite moves into social ERP

11 Nov - NetSuite has beefed up its social networking capabilities by linking with sales intelligence firm InsideView to create a so-called social intelligence platform.

The companies’ new offering, InsideView for NetSuite, pulls intelligence from social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook into CRM and ERP systems. Typical uses would involve identifying a 'social buzz' around a particular product or launch, or letting sales teams uncover new customer opportunities by studying key business and industry events.

“Our expanded partnership with NetSuite underscores the increasing relevance of social data throughout business operations,” said Umberto Milletti, founder and chief executive officer of InsideView. “NetSuite is leading the charge by making social intelligence available to its entire user base to drive significant business efficiencies.”

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SaaS on track to earn $14bn by 2013

9 Nov - Software as a Service spending is forecast to reach $7.5 bilion this year, a 17.7% increase from 2008, according to analyst firm Gartner. The market will show consistent growth through to 2013 when worldwide SaaS revenue will total over $14bn.

In 2009, content, communications and collaboration (CCC) will generate $2.6bn in 2009, just ahead of the CRM market at $2.3bn, but the latter is growing more quickly. ERP revenues will climb to $1.3bn in 2009 compared to $1.2bn last year, while supply chain management offerings will earn $826m.

“Adoption of the on-demand deployment model has continued to grow as on-demand vendors have extended their services through alliances, partner offerings, and more recently, by offering and promoting user application development through Platform as a Service (PaaS) capabilities,” said Gartner analyst Sharon Mertz.

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EMC, VMware and Cisco offer single throat to choke

9 Nov - Cisco confirmed last week that it is teaming up with EMC and its majority-owned subsidiary VMware to sell prefabricated business computer systems for private Cloud infrastructures.

Cisco will build Cloud server servers with data storage hardware and software from EMC and server management software from VMware. The integrated VBlock Infrastructure Packages will mean customers can buy all the equipment and software they need from a single source.

EMC and Cisco also announced a joint venture called Acadia, which will build and manage VBlock data centres. Acadia workers would oversee the installation of VBlock systems and train employees to operate them.

Tim Stammers of research house Ovum commented: “Businesses already stitch together data centre systems from multiple vendors' products, but the resulting systems require technical support from multiple suppliers. Instead of this multi-sourced support, customers want the proverbial 'one throat to choke' when things go wrong. EMC and Cisco have promised that their alliance will provide exactly this.”

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NetSuite turns in a loss, but remains upbeat on prospects

5 Nov - “Gale force economic winds” kicked NetSuite $8m into the red, but CEO Zach Nelson remained upbeat about the outlook for the Cloud ERP firm.

Third quarter revenues rose 4% to $41.7m in the company’s best ever quarter for new business. But increased business costs, especially in the areas of marketing and administrative costs, rose sharply to hit the company’s results.

 “It's clear to me that we are moving from the early adopters of NetSuite and heading into the mainstream adoption curve,” commented Nelson on the results.  “We had our best new business quarter in over a year. When you compare that with the double digit, year over year new licence sales declines registered this quarter by traditional on premises competitors like SAP, Epicor and Deltec, it's easy to see that companies of all sizes are voting for NetSuite.”

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Fly the friendly skies with broken guitars

4 Nov - Country music singer Dave Carroll became a customer management icon this year when he posted a video on YouTube about how United Airlines baggage handlers damaged his guitar.

Last week Carroll was invited by RightNow to appear at the online CRM developer's US user conference and the only airline that he could take to the venue was United. The inevitable happened and the airline lost his luggage on the way to the event.

“Dave is the embodiment of consumer empowerment,” RightNow CEO Greg Gianforte told the company’s European user event in Brighton this week. “None of what happened with Dave would have been possible without social networking. Five years ago if some musician had had his guitar damaged, he'd have had no recourse. If he was a lawyer, he could have sued. But he's a musician, so he wrote a song. Five million YouTube viewers later and it's tough luck United!”

Social media gives customers a megaphone that they can use to advocate their suppliers or tear them down, he added. Gianforte claimed RightNow was ahead of CRM rivals such as Salesforce.com in using social networking as a customer care tool, and argued that Cloud implementations gave companies an opportunity to test the systems out in low cost pilot schemes.

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Cloud Banks: Why the Cloud is like Microsoft Windows

1 Nov - BusinessCloud9.com columnist Martin Banks made a bold statement this month when he likened the growth of MS-DOS and Windows in the 1980s and 90s to the Cloud Computing movement today.

“MS-DOS and Windows have often been derided and sometimes outright hated by users and commentators alike, but their existence has built an entire universe of platform- independent applications that would not have been possible without it,” he noted. “Something similar with is now underway with SaaS, though it is at a higher level of abstraction than just operating systems – it is now happening at the platform level.”

Instead of coalescing around a single operating system, the Cloud movement is evolving into platforms such as those provided by Salesforce.com and NetSuite. Instead of looking for external technology solutions to their problems, Banks argued, users “can start pulling together the service components that contribute to them creating their solution.”

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