Much like the computer operating system battles of years ago, the race for public cloud market supremacy is garnering media attention. Many are saying the race may already be over. Randy Bias, who is the CTO of Cloudscaling, and a founding member of OpenStack, recently blogged, “It is clear that AWS (and quite likely GCE) will utterly dominate the public cloud race.” Bias contends that Amazon, with AWS, and Google, with the Google Compute Engine (GCE) are the players to beat, but, as he continues, “who cares”. Bias argues that OpenStack should work to make it’s own API compatible with Amazon Web services if it wants to compete.
Tech blogger Robert Scoble disagreed. He comments, “If you believe that innovation is slowing down, you should listen to Randy Bias because there is huge value in providing an API alternative….(BUT) if you believe, like I do, that we are going to see more change in cloud infrastructure in the next five years than in the past 10, then keep in investing in real innovation.”
What is clear that Amazon Web services is the dominant player in the cloud market. According to Synergy Research Group, the market for Infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service was 2.25 billion in the second quarter of 2013. Amazon accounted for over 600 million of that revenue with a 28% market share. The top three remaining players were Microsoft, Google, and IBM (with the acquisition of SoftLayer). Their combined revenue was 400 million. The cloud market includes public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud. The private cloud market supremacy is a much more hotly contested market right now.
A majority of technology vendors are betting on OpenStack to compete with Amazon. HP, IBM, Cisco, Dell, and Red Hat are all members of OpenStack Foundation Board. In fact there are over 800 different organizations involved. Even without market dominance, the revenue opportunity is staggering. Market Monitor, a service of 451 Research puts the cloud computing market at roughly 20 billing by 2016. in is interesting to note that only a dozen vendors generated over $75 million is this market in 2013 (out of 309 cloud-service providers tracked).
What to buy a Boot to Gecko phone? Probably not. How about a Firefox phone? The folks at Mozilla are hoping you will and they have companies like Deutsche Telekom and Sprint supporting them. They are looking to release Firefox OS phones by the first quarter of 2013 with phones being released by both Alcatel and China’s ZTE.
The Boot to Gecko User Interface running in Firefox on a simulated phone screen. Caption is from Mozilla and licensed under an Apache 2.0 license.
Mozilla, just like Google with Chrome, is making their Firefox browser an OS. Mozilla is re-branding Boot to Gecko (B2G) as Firefox OS. Unlike Chrome OS, they are gathering a lot of industry momentum. What Firefox OS has going for it is a lot of industry support, including not only Deutsche Telekcom and Sprint, but Etisalat, Smart Communications, Telenor, Telecom Italia, TCL Communication Technology, and Telefónica.
While Firefox OS can be viewed as yet another Linux mobile OS, it offers a couple of distinct advantages. First, they are allowing for companies to offer lower cost alternatives to the current smartphones on the market. In Mozilla’s blog announcing their plans, Mozilla states,
“Due to the optimization of the platform for entry-level smartphones and the removal of unnecessary middleware layers, mobile operators will have the ability to offer richer experiences at a range of price points including at the low end of the smartphone price range, helping to drive adoption across developing markets.”
Secondly, Firefox OS is built using HTML5. As Mozilla puts it, they are unlocking “many of the current limitations of web development on mobile, allowing HTML5 applications to access the underlying capabilities of a phone, previously only available to native applications.” You will see features like messaging and gaming implemented as HTML5 applications.
Fared Adib, the Product Chief at Sprint comments, “Firefox Mobile OS can help us drive an HTML5-based platform for creating lower cost smartphone options for prepaid, postpaid and wholesale customers.”
One recent criticism of the offering was offered yesterday by Sean Micheal Kerner of InternetNews. Kerner criticizes, “With Firefox OS linked to a mobile OS, the Firefox platform brand will also now be confused as a mobile-first brand. While I don’t disagree that mobile is where the growth is, I’d strongly recommend to the braintrust at Mozilla to not forget about the hundreds of millions using Firefox today.”
The astonished tone of the recent articles that Microsoft is a key contributor to the Linux kernel shows a lack of understanding of how far Microsoft has moved to embrace open source, if only out of an acknowledgement that open source won’t go away. Open source is being firmly embraced by just about everyone.
The start of the recent “surprise” was from The Linux Foundation’s just released annual report , the Linux Development Report. Included in the report is a list of the top contributors from versions 2.6.36 to 3.2. The paper was written by Greg Kroah-Hartman, Linux Foundation fellow, and Amanda McPherson, Linux Foundation Vice President of Marketing and Developer Services.
What has made the news is the emergence of Microsoft as a major contributor to the Linux kernel. Microsoft has made it on the list as 17th of the Top 20 companies. Microsoft contributed 688 changes, which is about 1% of all changes. Todd Bishop, a writer for GeekWire, posted an article today entitled, “Surprise: Microsoft makes list of top 20 Linux kernel contributors – first time ever.” Virtually every other article you view mentions the oft-quoted “Linux is a cancer” remark made in 2001 by Ballmer.
It would not be a stretch to say that back in 2001 Microsoft clearly wanted open source and Linux, in particular, to go away. They probably still do, BUT .. given the widespread use of open source and Linux, Microsoft has realized years ago that it either needs to a part of this mainstream movement or risk being marginalized.
Actually, the news shouldn’t be much of a surprise at all. Consider the following:
1) Microsoft is actively engaged in open source and has active open source projects:
refer to: www.microsoft.com/opensource/
2) Microsoft’s open source project hosting
refer to www.codeplex.com
3) Microsoft supports the 9th most commonly used open source license according to the Open Source Resource Center.
refer to: http://osrc.blackducksoftware.com/data/licenses/
4) Microsoft runs a open source community site supported by Gianugo Rabellino, their Senior Director of Open Source.
refer to: http://blogs.technet.com/b/port25/
The main reason Microsoft is contributing to Linux is not much of a surprise either: Microsoft wants Linux to support Microsoft technology. Here is one major example: to support Microsoft’s own Hyper-V virtualization technology there needs to be drivers on Linux, so Microsoft contributed them. Microsoft’s Hyper-V is able to run Linux as a guest OS.
If you are older, like me, you remember the major technology battles in markets like ERP, relational database, and UNIX (you know – the thing people used before Linux). But that was then. Now the big battle is in “cloud computing” and it appears the major Linux vendors are drawing battle lines.
In one corner: OpenStack boasts 128 companies and 1644 people behind their open source cloud computing solution. This week, SUSE announced becoming a member of the OpenStack movement. OpenStack has Rackspace, NASA, and Ubuntu (Canonical) already behind it.
In the other corner: Red Hat is developing their own cloud computing standards with: (more…)
Longtime Linux pundits are missing an important market change when they are debating the popularity of Linux Distributions. Susan Linton wrote on June 20th, 2011 her thoughts on the question surfacing on the web: “Is Ubuntu on the way out?”. Her comments were based on Distrowatch’s Linux Distributions Page Hit Rankings. As of today, Ubuntu is in the number 2 position behind Mint. Ubuntu had been shortly in the number 3 position after being on top for quite some time.
Linton wrote, “Some initial comments seem to indicate that premise is incorrect. Several assert that Ubuntu is probably just finding a new audience. One said, ‘I think the real question is: Is Ubuntu on the way out for new users?’ Another said, ‘I get the feeling that those of who are more power-users are moving over to other distros such as Fedora and Arch.’ ”
Linton started to ask a more important question when she went on to say, “But Ubuntu was always on top because it was the distro to look at when you were first starting. So maybe, and it pains me to think this, there just aren’t as many new people coming to Linux as there once were?”
TheJemReport asks a disturbing question for Linux supporters, “Is linux losing it’s importance among desktop users?” With the rising popularity of mobile devices, Linux is losing the battle for the third-place spot for desktop users. In fact, right now, according to one report, Linux is in 4th place for desktop users and in jeopardy of falling from that position.
The future of renewable energy is getting a boost from California’s newly passed energy bill. The bill which was introduced by Democratic Senator, Joe Simitian, increases the requirement that utilities have for generating a percentage of their energy from renewable power sources. The bill was passed by the Senate in February and was then passed by the House with a vote of 55 to 19. Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to sign a previous version of the bill when he was governor, stating the details were too restrictive on the utilities. However, Governor Brown is expected to sign the bill since he advocated for raising the standard during his gubernatorial campaign.
Picture source: Fiona Shields
The bill will require utility companies to generate one-third of California’s electricity by utilizing renewable power sources such as wind, solar and geothermal by the end of 2020. This is a lofty goal since the state currently produces only 15-17% of its electricity from renewable sources. This means the state will have to double its current generation utilizing renewable sources within the next ten years. However, Senator Simitian believes renewable energy providers will rise to the challenge resulting in billions of dollars in investments which is expected to provide California with job growth and tax revenues.
The bill comes at a time when federal energy legislation has been delayed in Washington due to the recession. Since California is often seen as a leader in setting environmental standards for the rest of the country, there is hope that other states will follow California’s lead. In fact, many states have already taken action in an effort to jump start their own economy, by also requiring a percentage of their power be generated from renewable sources. However, that percentage is much lower than California’s current requirement and the recession has taken a toll on efforts to pursue these goals.
The current standard in California requires investor-owned utilities to produce 20% of their electricity utilizing renewable energy sources by the end of 2010. Unfortunately, none of the utilities was able to meet this requirement. However, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) came very close. PG&E obtained 17.7% of their energy from renewable sources while SCE just fell short of the requirement at 19.4%.
The economic downturn is cited as the reason renewable energy projects have stalled in recent years. Senator Smitian is hopeful that his bill will not only hasten the industry’s recovery process, but will revitalize California’s economy.
KB Home has long been a leader in building homes. Their announcement this week that they are partnering with SunPower to build residential solar power communities demonstrates their innovative thinking. The plan is to build entire communities where every home is equipped with a solar power system. They will test out the innovative concept in ten Southern California cities. KB Home has already built three residential solar communities in Eastvale, Temecula, and Chula Vista. Home buyers will be able to choose from five additional communities which are planned to open within the next 60 days. The remaining two communities will open in the fall of 2011.
Picture source: silas216
Installing solar power systems in an entire community has not been done before. Although KB Home has previously offered photovoltaic systems as an upgraded option in California and Colorado, they now want to make the technology part of their standard installation in the homes they build. They intend to expand this green concept to include all 12 states they build homes in if the test market in Southern California is received positively.
Each home will be installed with a 1.4 kilowatt system which uses six solar panels on the roof. Since the solar power system will be part of the standard installation, home buyers cannot opt to buy a home without a solar power system. However, they will have an option to upgrade to a larger solar system for an additional cost.
KB Home is integrating the solar technology into the homes they build in an effort to stay competitive in a declining housing market. Homeowners continue to struggle in these difficult economic times, and KB Home plans to use the green technology to make their homes more attractive to potential buyers. The standard solar units will save homeowners 30% on their energy costs (based on a 1,800 to 2,000 square feet home). Additionally, the solar power systems may help homeowners qualify for a federal tax credit. This will benefit both homeowners and the environment for years to come.
To demonstrate just how much the homeowner can save, the company is also planning to include an Energy Performance Guide (EPG) in all of its new homes. The guide will provide estimates on how much the homeowner can expect to pay per month for electric and gas. The guide is similar to Energy Star stickers found on appliances. The guide will also provide comparisons between the energy efficient home and a typical home.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that KB Home is thinking outside the box. They were named the #1 Green Homebuilder by Calvert Investments and the #1 Homebuilder on the 2011 World’s Most Admired Companies list in FORTUNE magazine. They are known for delivering quality, “Built to Order” homes at a price the average home buyer can afford. Now they are making affordable solar power technology available to the typical homeowner. Clearly, KB Home is leading the way in green home building.
UPS owns and utilizes more alternative fuel vehicles than any other private company in the United States. Their commitment to the environment by utilizing alternative fuel vehicles remains strong. The delivery service company recently ordered new propane delivery trucks and compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks to add to their existing alternative fuel vehicle fleet. This will increase their total alternative fuel vehicles to more than 2,200.
Picture source: kenjonbro
Propane powered vehicles are beneficial to the environment because they emit 20% less nitrogen oxide and 60% less carbon monoxide than standard vehicles. They also emit 33% less reactive organic gases than gasoline powered vehicles.
Compressed natural gas vehicles also provide environmental benefits by reducing engine emissions by 20% and improving fuel economy by 10% over diesel engines. Natural gas is less expensive and more readily available than gasoline. UPS added 245 CNG delivery trucks to their fleet in January.
The company utilizes other alternative fuel vehicles as well. Their fleet includes liquefied natural gas, electric, and hybrid-electric vehicles (HEV). Last year the company purchased 200 new HEVs which utilize lithium ion batteries. These batteries last longer and recharge faster than previously used batteries. Furthermore, the company expects to reduce fuel consumption by 176,000 gallons per year. UPS utilizes 800 HEVs to deliver packages in major cities throughout the United States.
The company continues to be innovative and has proposed further plans to utilize alternative fuels in their vehicles. They are initiating a plan to utilize biodiesel fuel in their ground support vehicles at the UPS Worldport air hub in Louisville, Kentucky. In support, the federal government awarded UPS a $515,000 grant to help with the costs of building a fuel infrastructure at the airport. Like natural gas, biodiesel is a clean-burning fuel.
The company takes pride in being an industry leader in HEV and CNG vehicle purchases. However, utilizing alternative fuel vehicles is nothing new for UPS. They have been in the business of using alternative fuel vehicles for over 70 years. They started their “green” fleet with electric delivery trucks which operated in New York City. UPS not only operates its alternative fuel vehicles in the United States. It also utilizes the vehicles in Brazil, Canada, Germany, France, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Since 2000, the company’s green fleet has traveled over 1.5 million miles.
Whether your package is delivered using a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle or one of the company’s many alternative fuel vehicles, consumers will still be able to recognize UPS’ familiar brown trucks. Although the new vehicles will be quieter and consume less fuel, the only noticeable difference will be on the environmental footprint they leave.
The CEO of SiGNa Chemistry, Michael Lefenfeld, believes that hydrogen fuel cells can be a viable power source for items such as laptops, cell phones, and even electric bicycles. His company has revealed an exciting new development in hydrogen fuel cell technology. The company, which is headquartered in New York and only has about 20 employees, developed a new chemical process which utilizes water and a compound called sodium silicide to generate hydrogen
Picture source: monty.metzger
Sodium silicide is a powder produced by combining sodium metal with silicon powder. The powder is then stored in a disposable canister with water. The reaction between the water and the sodium silicide powder, produces the hydrogen. Any type of water can be used to create the reaction including sea water or even water that is polluted. This is not the case with other generation processes.
The discovery could also resolve two major road blocks in hydrogen fuel cell technology: real-time hydrogen generation and storage. Storage of hydrogen is problematic because it needs to be stored under high pressure. Also, many of the current technologies do not allow for shut off capabilities once 30-40% of the fuel has been utilized. This means the fuel cell cannot stop producing power until all the fuel has been exhausted.
SiGNa Chemistry’s new process appears to have resolved many of the problems with current fuel cell technology. This process allows hydrogen to be generated in real-time instead of having to refuel the cell after each use. The company has also found a way to store the hydrogen at lower pressure levels. Additionally, the new process also produces fuel cells which can be started or stopped quickly without exhausting all the power in the fuel cell.
Hydrogen fuel cells offer many benefits over alkaline and lithium batteries. For example, lithium batteries in computers have overheating problems which would not exist with fuel cells. Furthermore, fuel cells could be disposed of in your regular trash or even recycled, unlike batteries which contain toxins and have special rules for disposal. SiGNa maintains that fuel cells also provide an economic alternative to alkaline and lithium batteries. The company claims that sodium silicide fuel cells, when produced in a large enough volume, are ten times less expensive than alkaline batteries and six times less expensive than disposable lithium batteries.
Producing any alternative energy source on a large scale to keep production costs down is a problem that plagues all green technologies. So using hydrogen fuel cells to power consumer electronics may seem like a remote possibility. The reality is, however, there are cell phone chargers currently on the market that use this technology. Furthermore, computer manufacturers are quite interested in utilizing fuel cells on a large scale in laptops to provide longer battery life which is a huge selling point with consumers. In the near future, we will be able to own laptops that are essentially powered by water.
Algae is responsible for most of the oxygen we breath and now is being evaluated as an economically feasible biofuel. While the major automotive and oil companies are all looking at algae-based fuels, the major players in this market are emerging biotech companies like Synthetics Genomics, Algae Systems, and Solazyme. Synthetic Genomics is working in conjunction with Exxon Mobile. They have established an actual greenhouse for their research on the feasibility of algae as a potential biofuel.
Picture source: Xalamay
Solazyme is working with Ecopetrol, a Columbian Oil Company, with a state goal of producing 450 million tons of fuel form renewable oil sources by 2015. Solazyme was named a 2009-2010 “50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy”. Johantan Wolfson, CEO of Solazyme comments, “Ecopetrol’s thought leadership and commitment to developing renewable sources of fuel is inspiring. Working with Ecopetrol, Solazymej’s technology will provide Colombia with renewable sources of oil and fuel that dramatically reduce carbon pollution by replacing petro-diesel with a ‘drop-in’ replacement made using algae.”
Solazme also just partnered with the US Navy, which ordered 150,000 gallons of biofuel for use with ships and jets. The US Navy tested the use of Solazyme’s algae fules on a Navy Riverine command boat using a 50/50 mixture of algae-based fule and diesel fuel.
“Solazyme is proud to provide the first microbially derived ship fuel used by the Navy in a military boat. The United States Navy’s commitment to reducing dependence on fossil fuels has taken another step forward today and we applaud their leadership. We are honored to be a part of Navy’s efforts to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.”
In a previous article TheJemReport covered an energy conversion system developed by NASA as a bioreactor which has become known as the OMEGA system. The name stems from the system being an offshore membrane enclosure for growing Algae. Algae Systems has partnered with NASA to provide a commercial system around the technology. “The OMEGA technology has transformational powers. It can convert sewage and carbon dioxide into abundant and inexpensive fuels,” said Matthew Atwood, president and founder of Algae Systems. (http://www.thejemreport.com/content/view/415/122/)