News briefs: CenturyLink buys AppFog, Amazon's CIA contract questioned

This week, CenturyLink boosts its PaaS position with its AppFog buy, Congress questions the CIA's choice of Amazon over IBM, and GE gets into cloud.

CenturyLink scoops up PaaS provider AppFog

With the acquisition of Platform as a Service (PaaS) player AppFog, CenturyLink boosted its Savvis Cloud suite and validated the open source Cloud Foundry project, according to The Register. The PaaS market has yet to gain much momentum, as SearchCloudComputing noted, but more organizations are seeking providers with a combination of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and PaaS offerings. The CenturyLink-AppFog deal reflects this trend and points to where AppFog founder and CEO Lucas Carlson told The Register the real revenue lies: in cloud for underserved private infrastructures, not public cloud. Carlson became CenturyLink's vice president of product evangelism as part of the deal, the financial terms of which were not released publicly.

Amazon's CIA deal confirmed -- and challenged

A recent report from the U.S. Congress' Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirmed Amazon Web Services (AWS) was awarded a government contract to offer a secure cloud to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), but the report also called the deal into question. Rumored since March, the deal had analysts questioning what a private offering would mean for the company that's long propped up an explicitly public cloud. Now, as Business Insider reported, officials are questioning the CIA's decision to use Amazon, in response to a request from IBM to re-examine the contract, for which Big Blue was passed over. Amazon's service will run up a tab $54 million greater than IBM's -- a difference the intelligence agency felt "was offset by Amazon's superior technical solution," according to the GAO report. The CIA has 60 days to reconsider the contract, worth up to $600 million over 10 years.

GE partners with Amazon, Accenture and Pivotal

Three tech companies have teamed up with General Electric to offer a data storage and analytics platform for the "industrial Internet," ZDNet reported. Amazon Web Services, Accenture and Pivotal are partnering with GE to build the cloud-based service, touted as the first that can handle large-scale industrial machines. AWS' public cloud forms the basis of the platform, with support from Accenture's industry-specific analysis tools and Pivotal's Cloud Foundry and Hadoop-based technology. Keeping its enterprise market in mind, GE stressed the security of the Hadoop closed-loop architecture behind the new Proficy Historian HD software for data management and analytics.

IBM continues expanding cloud services

With its latest batch of products and business strategies, IBM continues to ramp up its movement into the cloud. As The New York Times reported, Big Blue announced a new suite of products in big data and social analytics for executives, pushing its total number of cloud applications above 100. The shift to market the new portfolio to the entire C-level tier, beyond just chief information officers, falls in line with the company's other expansions on the cloud delivery front this year -- notably its acquisition of IaaS provider SoftLayer. Cloud may still be a small piece of IBM's revenue, but the $4 billion the company has spent on cloud acquisitions in the past year is another indication of an expansion from its legacy of providing on-premises IT infrastructure.

Future of cloud is bright for PaaS and hybrid offerings

Software as a Service remains the dominant cloud delivery model, but IaaS is currently seeing the most growth and PaaS will rise the fastest through the next five years, according to the third annual Future of Cloud Computing survey. North Bridge Venture Partners and GigaOM Research surveyed 855 business users, IT decision-makers and cloud vendors for a perspective on the "whys" and "hows" behind cloud adoption across a range of industries. As expected, cloud has shown continued growth in 2013 -- nearly 12% more respondents reported using some type of cloud platform compared to last year, reaching 75% of all respondents. Cloud applications are playing a bigger role for advancing business priorities than for advancing IT goals, as scalability and agility remain the top drivers for cloud adoption. The biggest inhibitors to adoption have shifted a bit since 2012: Security fears dipped from 55% to 46%, while concerns about cost have grown 50% year-over-year. Another change from last year is clear in perceptions of hybrid cloud: Compared to just over half of respondents in 2012, more than three-quarters now anticipate hybrid clouds to become the norm in the next five years.

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