Sunday, 30 June 2013

Interesting week!

It’s been an interesting week – the auld enemies, Microsoft and Oracle, have made a joint announcement, SPDY is finding its way into IE11, and IBM has been showing off its mastery of big data at Wimbledon. So let’s take a look at what’s been going on.

It’s not quite a return to the 1960s with love breaking out all around, but large organizations are realizing that customers and, more importantly, potential customers, use hardware and software from other vendors – and the best way to do more business is to recognize this and be, at the very least, compatible. And so, with this in mind (I expect), Microsoft and Oracle have joined forces in a new cloud venture that means Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud-computing service will now run Oracle’s database software, Java programming tools, and application-connecting middleware. Azure customers will be able to run Java, Oracle Database, Oracle WebLogic Server, and even Oracle Linux on Windows Server Hyper-V or Windows Azure, and Oracle will deliver full certification and support.

The benefits are that Microsoft gains additional customers for Azure, and Oracle gains customers for their technology who want to use it in the cloud. And it gives Microsoft something that VMware and Amazon Web services don’t have. Companies using Azure cloud service, which lets them build and run programs online, will be able to put information into Oracle’s database.

With many organizations thinking seriously about moving to the cloud, this alliance provides better choices for IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), allowing them to rent computing power, storage, and database software over the Internet.

Also this week, Microsoft announced that Internet Explorer 11 will support SPDY (pronounced speedy), the Google-backed protocol for speeding up downloads from Web sites. The open source networking protocol achieves this by prioritizing and multiplexing the transfer of Web page subresources, so that only one connection per client is required. It uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption and transmission headers are compressed. Faster Web pages has got to be a good thing – Firefox and Chrome already use it.

Meanwhile, Google has built QUIC (Quick UDP Internet Connections) into developer versions of Chrome. It’s an alternative to TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and is designed to cut the round-trip time of the back-and-forth communications between computers on the Internet. User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is faster than TCP, but doesn’t have TCP’s error-checking reliability. QUIC is based on UDP and now provides its own error-correction technology.

So what new things could IBM bring to Wimbledon? It’s been providing up-to-date information for 24 years now, so what’s different in 2013? Well, the answer is more social media involvement.

Last year, it seems, there were around 100 tweets per second during the men’s final, won by Roger Federer against Andy Murray. So this year, IBM is providing social sentiment analysis, using its content analytics software. That means it can, for example, gauge how popular Andy Murray is in different parts of the UK!

IBM’s SPSS predictive analytics software is at the core of SlamTracker, which deploys a mixture of predictive analytics software, data visualization, and kinetic tracking to see what people consistently did when they won. IBM’s Second Sight technology measures player speed, distance, and stamina. This year it’s integrated with HawkEye, the ball-tracking and line-calling technology.

So an interesting week all round.

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