distributed cloud

Distributed cloud is the new enterprise IT frontier

by | Jun 16, 2021 | IT Services

Cloud providers vie for pole positions as they gear up to compete in an upcoming hyperscale computing era.
Share to lead the transformation

A titanic struggle for control of the cloud has begun in earnest by the emergence of various distributed cloud architectures. The shift is being driven by the need for enterprises to move away from traditional infrastructure-aspect-management to ‘utility cloud’ models, which can be far more sustainable as long-term strategies.

Amazon Web Services, IBM, Google, and Microsoft are the giants whose bet in the development of such virtualization technologies has won them large shares of the cloud market. Several other companies are also active in this arena, and a closer examination of the main players may reveal a number of smaller players too.

distributed cloud

Multiple drivers are fueling growth

The star attractions of distributed clouds include (1) low latency due to proximity to user organizations (e.g., on-premises delivery or edge delivery); (2) better adherence to compliance and data-residency requirements;  and (3) rapidly growing number of IoT devices, utility drones, etc.

With distributed cloud services, the service providers are moving closer to the users. These cloud services are offered not just as public-cloud-hosted solutions but also on the edge or the on-premise data center. This approach of having a SaaS model with an on-premise application has its own advantages like ease of provisioning new services, ease of management, and cost reductions in the form of greater operational efficiency brought about by streamlined infrastructure management.

Cloud service providers have a deep understanding of both the needs of enterprises and their unique business requirements. They use their expertise to develop solutions that meet these objectives. They are also well known for providing easy accessibility to their services from the internet. This enables fast and convenient access for end-users.

Enterprises may think that by switching over to a distributed cloud computing service they will lose control of their data. However, the cloud service providers enable excellent security and monitoring solutions. They also ensure that users are given the highest level of access to their data. By migrating on-premises software to a cloud service provider, enterprises do not stand to lose the expertise that their employees have built up during their time in the organization.

Google Anthos: A first-mover advantage

Google formally introduced Anthos, as an open platform that lets enterprises run an app anywhere—simply, flexibly, and securely. In a blog post, dated 9 April 2019, Google noted that, embracing open standards, Anthos let enterprises run applications, unmodified, on existing on-prem hardware investments or in the public cloud, and was based on the Cloud Services Platform announced earlier.

The announcement said that Anthos’ hybrid functionality was made generally available both on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) with Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), and in the enterprise data center with GKE On-Prem.

Consistency, another post said, was the greatest common denominator, with Anthos making multi-cloud easy owing to its foundation of Kubernetes—specifically the Kubernetes-style API. “Using the latest upstream version as a starting point, Anthos can see, orchestrate and manage any workload that talks to the Kubernetes API—the lingua franca of modern application development, and an interface that supports more and more traditional workloads,” the blog post added.

AWS Outposts: Defending its cloud turf

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been among the first movers. On 3 December 2019, the cloud services major announced the general availability of AWS Outposts, as fully managed and configurable compute and storage racks built with AWS-designed hardware that allow customers to run compute and storage on-premises, while seamlessly connecting to AWS’s broad array of services in the cloud. A pre-announcement for Outposts had come on 28 November 2018 at the re:Invent 2018.

“When we started thinking about offering a truly consistent hybrid experience, what we heard is that customers really wanted it to be the same—the same APIs, the same control plane, the same tools, the same hardware, and the same functionality. It turns out this is hard to do, and that’s the reason why existing options for on-premises solutions haven’t gotten much traction today,” said Matt Garman, Vice President, Compute Services, at AWS. “With AWS Outposts, customers can enjoy a truly consistent cloud environment using the native AWS services or VMware Cloud on AWS to operate a single enterprise IT environment across their on-premises locations and the cloud.”

IBM Cloud Satellite: Late but not left out

IBM has been a bit late to the distributed cloud party. It was only on 1 March 2021 that IBM announced that hybrid cloud services were now generally available in any environment—on any cloud, on premises or at the edge—via IBM Cloud Satellite. The partnership with Lumen Technologies, coupled with IBM’s long-standing deep presence in on-premise enterprise systems, could turn out to be a key differentiator. An IBM press release noted that Lumen Technologies and IBM have integrated IBM Cloud Satellite with the Lumen edge platform to enable clients to harness hybrid cloud services in near real-time and build innovative solutions at the edge.

“IBM is working with clients to leverage advanced technologies like edge computing and AI, enabling them to digitally transform with hybrid cloud while keeping data security at the forefront,” said Howard Boville, Head of IBM Hybrid Cloud Platform. “With IBM Cloud Satellite, clients can securely gain the benefits of cloud services anywhere, from the core of the data center to the farthest reaches of the network.”

“With the Lumen platform’s broad reach, we are giving our enterprise customers access to IBM Cloud Satellite to help them drive innovation more rapidly at the edge,” said Paul Savill, SVP Enterprise Product Management and Services at Lumen. “Our enterprise customers can now extend IBM Cloud services across Lumen’s robust global network, enabling them to deploy data-heavy edge applications that demand high security and ultra-low latency. By bringing secure and open hybrid cloud capabilities to the edge, our customers can propel their businesses forward and take advantage of the emerging applications of the 4th Industrial Revolution.”

Microsoft Azure Arc: General availability awaited

Julia White Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure, in a blog post, dated 4 November 2019, announced Azure Arc, as a set of technologies that unlocks new hybrid scenarios for customers by bringing Azure services and management to any infrastructure. “Azure Arc is available in preview starting today,” she said.

However, the general availability of Azure Arc was not to be announced anytime soon. Six months after the ‘preview’ announcement, Jeremy Winter Partner Director, Azure Management, published a blog post on 20 May 2020, noting that the company was delivering ‘Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes’ in preview to its customers. “With this, anyone can use Azure Arc to connect and configure any Kubernetes cluster across customer datacenters, edge locations, and multi-cloud,” he said.

“In addition, we are also announcing our first set of Azure Arc integration partners, including Red Hat OpenShift, Canonical Kubernetes, and Rancher Labs to ensure Azure Arc works great for all the key platforms our customers are using today,” the post added.

The announcement followed Azure Stack launch two years earlier, to enable a consistent cloud model, deployable on-premises. Meanwhile, Azure was extended to provide DevOps for any environment and any cloud. Microsoft also enabled cloud-powered security threat protection for any infrastructure, and unlocked the ability to run Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services AI models anywhere. Azure Arc was a significant leap forward to enable customers to move from just hybrid cloud to truly deliver innovation anywhere with Azure, the post added.

Looking ahead

A distributed cloud presents an incredible opportunity for businesses that are looking to improve their bottom line while also increasing their agility and versatility.

A distributed cloud is essentially a distributed version of public cloud computing which offers the capability to manage nearly everything from a single computer to thousands of computers. The cloud promises the benefits of a global network without having to worry about hardware, software, management, and monitoring issues. The distributed cloud goes a step further and also brings the assurance on fronts such as latency, compliance, and on-premise application modernization.

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Body to resolve disputes between REs, PSUs

Body to resolve disputes between REs, PSUs

In a major decision to facilitate the solar and wind energy projects, Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC) and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, RK Singh, has approved the formation of a three member Dispute Resolution Committee to consider the unforeseen disputes between solar/wind power developers and PSUs Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) beyond contractual agreement.

The Members of Dispute Resolution Committee under this mechanism will be MF Farooqui (former DOT Secretary/ Heavy Industry Secretary); Anil Swarup (former Coal Secretary); and AK Dubey (former Sports Secretary), as per a Press Information Bureau release .

Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC) and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, RK Singh. Source: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy

In an earlier statement, emphasizing the importance of this step, Singh had said that the move would give further fillip to the smooth implementation of solar/wind energy projects in India. It fulfills a long pending demand of the industry to resolve expeditiously, unforeseen disputes that may arise beyond the scope of Contractual Agreements.

The Solar and Wind Industry have been demanding setting up of Dispute Resolution Mechanism by MNRE for quite some time, to resolve expeditiously, unforeseen disputes that may arise beyond the scope of Contractual Agreements between solar power developers / wind power developers and SECI/ NTPC.

The issue was considered and it was felt that there is need to erect a transparent, unbiased Dispute Resolution Mechanism, consisting of an independent, transparent and unbiased Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC), for resolving the unforeseen disputes that may arise in implementation of contractual agreements and also for dealing with issues which are beyond the scope of Contractual Agreements between solar power developers/ wind power developers and SECI / NTPC.

The mechanism of Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) will be applicable for all solar/ wind Schemes/ Programmes/ Projects being implemented through/ by SECI/ NTPC.

The DRC will consider following kinds of cases:

(a) All cases of appeal against decisions given by SECI on Extension of Time requests based on terms of contract: All requests for extension of time due to recognized ‘Force Majeure’ events like flood, earthquake, delay in handing over of land by Solar Park Developers, delay in connectivity, etc. will be dealt strictly as per Contractual Agreements. In all such cases, the solar power developers / wind power developers shall make an application for grant of Extension of Time (EoT) within the time specified in the Contractual Agreement. If application is not made within the time limit prescribed in the Contractual Agreement, it shall be summarily rejected by SECI/ NTPC. If application is made within the time limit, the request will be examined and final decision given to solar power developer/ wind power developer within 21 days from the date of application. No separate extension of time shall be granted for overlapping periods of effect by two or more causes. If the developer is not satisfied with the decision of SECI/ NTPC, then it may appeal to the Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC), within 21 days of SECI/NTPC’s order after paying a fee, to be decided by the DRC, which in any case shall not be less than 5% of the impact of SECI’s/NTPC’s decision being challenged. This fee shall be deposited into the Payment Security Fund maintained by SECI/ NTPC for the project concerned. In case, the Government upholds the appeal in toto, after taking into consideration the recommendation of DRC, and strikes down the SECI order, then the fee so collected shall be refunded, provided the DRC makes a recommendation for the same and the Government passes a specific order to that effect. The Fee which may be received and is not required to be refunded, shall be credited to the appropriate Payment Security Fund being maintained by SECI/NTPC.

(b) All requests of Extension of Time not covered under the terms of contract: All cases involving unforeseen issues/ circumstances not covered under Contractual Agreements like cases where the site is to be procured by the developer but there is delay in land allotment due to policy change or registration by the Government, delays in grant of proposed connectivity due to court stays, etc., will be placed before the DRC for consideration and make recommendations to Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) for appropriate decision.

The ‘Dispute Resolution Committee’ (DRC) will examine all such cases referred to it, including the cases where the developer is not satisfied with the decision of SECI/NTPC and it decides to appeal after paying the required fee as laid down under Para (ii) (a) above, in a time bound manner and submit its recommendations to the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE), not later than 21 days from the date of reference.

The recommendations of the ‘Dispute Resolution Committee’ (DRC) along with MNRE’s observations, will be placed before Minister (NRE) for final decision. The Ministry shall examine and put up such recommendations to Minister (NRE) with the comments of IFD within 21 days of receipt of recommendation from the DRC.

To arrive at any decision, Committee will be free to interact with the relevant parties of the case and shall record their views. For presenting the case before the DRC, no lawyers shall be permitted.

Bharatmala-I has outlay of Rs 5,35,000 Cr

Bharatmala-I has outlay of Rs 5,35,000 Cr

The Bharatmala Pariyojna Phase-I was approved at an estimated outlay of Rs. 5,35,000 Crore. A total of 24,800 kms length of National Highways have been considered in Phase-I as well as 10,000 km residual road works under NHDP. Under this program, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has identified stretches for development of about 9,000 km length of Economic corridors, about 6,000 km length of Inter-corridor and feeder roads, about 5,000 km length of National Corridors Efficiency improvements, about 2,000 km length of Border and International connectivity roads, about 2,000 km length of Coastal and port connectivity roads, about 800 km length of Expressways. No road project in the States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana has been envisaged under Border and International Connectivity roads component of this programme. Total 17 nos. of road projects having an aggregate length of about 701.4 km have been approved under Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I till March, 2019 in the States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Out of 17 nos. projects, 15 nos. of road projects having an aggregate length of about 631.7 km have been awarded till March, 2019 in the States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

However, under Border Roads and International Connectivity Roads component of Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I, 07 nos. of road projects with an aggregate length of about 1,042 kms and total cost as Rs. 4,916 crores (approx.) have been awarded till March, 2019 in entire country. Under Coastal Roads and Port Connectivity roads component of this programme, 05 nos. of road projects with total length of about 163 kms and total cost as Rs. 2,469 crores (approx.) have been awarded till March, 2019 in entire country. Progress of all the projects is monitored electronically for ensuring completion of projects as per schedule.

This information was given by the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin J Gadkari in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.

News source: Press Information Bureau.

Swachh Bharat good for ground water: Study

Swachh Bharat good for ground water: Study

Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has said that Swachhata affects all aspects of the environment – be it groundwater, surface water, soil or air – as well as health and well-being of the communities in ODF regions. Praising the Swachh Bharat Mission for bringing a reduction in ground water contamination, he said, the WHO 2018 study had estimated that the Swachh Bharat Mission will save over 3 lakh lives by the time India is Open Defacation Free. Releasing two independent third-party studies conducted on the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), the Minister said, the Mission will continue to positively impact people’s lives for a long time to come.

These studies, commissioned by UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates, were aimed at assessing the environmental impact and communication footprint of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) respectively. The full reports as well as the summary reports of both the studies can be downloaded from mdws.gov.in and sbm.gov.in.

Union Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar highlighted the significance of launching these studies on World Environment Day. He said that the United Nations, aware that the protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue which affects the well-being of peoples and economic development throughout the world, designated 5th June as World Environment Day. He added that it is only fitting that UNICEF has chosen this day to release its findings on the positive impact the Swachh Bharat Mission has had on the environment of rural India.

Secretary, Government of India, Parameswaran Iyer, in his opening remarks, shared that the rural sanitation coverage in the country had crossed the 99% mark and that the Mission was in the final stretch of its completion with 30 States and Union Territories already having declared themselves free from open defecation. He said that the Mission is focusing on sustaining the gains of this progress and to extend the momentum to the ODF-plus phase which includes solid and liquid waste management.

Summary of the study findings

Under the “Environmental impact of the Swachh Bharat Mission on Water, Soil, and Food” by UNICEF, groundwater samples were collected and studied from ODF and non-ODF villages of Odisha, Bihar and West Bengal. The study found that, in terms of faecal contamination, non-ODF villages were, on average:

  • 11.25 times more likely to have their groundwater sources contaminated (12.7 times more from contaminants traceable to humans alone)
  • 1.13 times more likely to have their soil contaminated
  • 1.48 times more likely to have food contaminated and 2.68 times more likely to have household drinking water contaminated.
  • The study findings indicated that these substantial reductions may potentially be attributed to the improvement in sanitation and hygiene practices, as well as supportive systems such as regular monitoring and behaviour change messaging, which have all been critical aspects of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen).

IEC footprint study by Gates Foundation

The “Assessment of the reach and value of IEC activities under Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen)” conducted by Dalberg, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, estimated the scale of IEC activities within the Mission and assessed associated monetary and in-kind costs, and outputs such as reach. The study found that:

  • SBM mobilized a spend equivalent worth INR 22,000 to 26,000 crores in monetary and non-monetary IEC activities.
  • Of this spend equivalent, cash expenditure on IEC activities spent by the Government, private sector, and the development community was estimated to be between INR 3,500 – 4,000 crores.
  • Of this cash spend, ~20% (~INR 800 crores) was spent by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS), ~35% (~INR 1,250 crores) by the State Sanitation Departments, ~25% (~INR 1,000 crores) by other government ministries, and the other ~20% by the private sector (CSR and business expenditures) and the development sector collectively.
  • An average person living in rural India was exposed to between 2,500 – 3,300 SBM related messages over the last five years.
Gadkari takes charge of transport ministry

Gadkari takes charge of transport ministry

Nitin Gadkari took charge of the office of the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways in New Delhi today. He also holds the portfolio of the Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

Gadkari was Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation in the previous government.

Gadkari is a member of Lok Sabha since May, 2014. He was earlier a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council during 1989-2014. He was Minister for PWD in Maharashtra Government during 1995 to 1999.

Climate Change: Javadekar takes charge

Climate Change: Javadekar takes charge

Prakash Javadekar today assumed charge as the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change here today. He was greeted at the office at Paryavaran Bhawan by Environment Secretary Shri C K Mishra and other senior officials of the ministry. Babul Supriyo also assumed charge as Minister of State.

Briefing the media after assuming the charge, the Union Minister said it is like a home coming for him as he already served in the ministry for two years in the first term of NDA government. He stressed that we will strongly reinforce that this ministry is seen as a facilitator and not merely as a regulator. “Economic growth and environment protection should go simultaneously, and we need to work with an increased impetus towards that”, said Javadekar.

After assuming the charge, the Minister also held a meeting with the senior officers of the Ministry where he was briefed on the key initiatives and policy issues of the Ministry.

Infosys Foundation Opens Aarohan Awards 2019

Infosys Foundation Opens Aarohan Awards 2019

social-impact

The awards would recognize solutions that could positively impact the underprivileged in India. (Representative image)

Infosys Foundation, the philanthropic and CSR arm of Infosys, has announced the launch of the second edition of the Aarohan Social Innovation Awards. The award is aimed at accelerating innovation in the social sector. The Aarohan Social Innovation Awards 2019 seek to recognize and reward individuals, teams or NGOs developing unique solutions that have the potential to positively impact the underprivileged in India, at scale.

Speaking at the launch of the second edition of the awards, Infosys Foundation Chairperson Sudha Murty said, “The Aarohan Social Innovation Awards 2018 was a huge success. Infosys Foundation witnessed a very good response from social innovators across the country and eventually, 12 leading innovators were recognised and awarded. The overwhelming response we got last year, has reaffirmed my belief that there are innumerable innovators across India who are looking up to this platform to give wings to their passion by scaling their innovation and impacting millions of lives. With the second edition of the awards, we hope to discover these hidden social innovators across the country and help them scale the power of their social innovations”

The awards will accept submissions across six categories, namely, Healthcare, Rural Development, Destitute Care, Women’s Safety & Empowerment, Education & Sports, and Sustainability.

The submission process for the second edition of these awards commences on July 15, 2019 and will continue till September 30, 2019. Participants can submit entries describing their work in the form of videos that can be uploaded on the Aarohan Social Innovation Awards website. The entries must be of a fully functioning prototype, not just a concept, idea or mock up. Additionally, the project must not be an established commercial venture.

Aarohan Social Innovation Awards will also offer winners an opportunity for residential technical mentorship at the IIT Hyderabad campus for up to 12 weeks to help them further develop and scale their solutions.

A panel of distinguished judges will evaluate and select the winners whose submissions will be assessed on five broad criteria – application to a social problem or need, innovative use of technology, originality of ideas, ease of use and the quality of presentation. The jury will comprise Prof. Trilochan Sastry, former Dean, IIM Bangalore; Padma Shree Arvind Gupta, an Indian toy inventor and science expert; Prof. Anil Gupta, visiting faculty member, IIM Ahmedabad, a globally renowned scholar of grassroots innovations and founder of the Honey Bee Network; Prof. GVV Sharma, Faculty member of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Coordinator, Teaching Learning Centre, IIT Hyderabad; Sumit Virmani, Senior Vice President and Global Head – Marketing, Infosys, and Infosys Foundation Chairperson, renowned author and philanthropist Sudha Murty.

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