Backup service IDrive launches a face recognition API for developers – gpgmail


I did a bit of a double take when I first saw this announcement. IDrive, an online cloud storage and backup service, is launching a face recognition API today that goes up against the likes of AWS Rekognition and others. That seems like a bit of an odd move for a backup company, but it turns out that IDrive has actually been in the face recognition game for a while. Last year, the company launched IDrive People to help its users find faces in photos they’ve backed up on its service. With its API, IDrive is targeting a very different market, though, and entering into the API business for the first time.

IDrive Face, as the service is called, includes the standard tools for detecting and analyzing multiple faces within a still image that are at the core of every face detection API. For this, the API provides the usual bounding boxes and metadata for all faces. There are also a face comparison and verification features to identify people by their face, and a gender, age and emotion detection option. All requests to the API are encrypted and using the API looks to be pretty straightforward.

IDrive promises that its tool’s accuracy and performance is comparable to AWS Rekognition, but at a lower price. The company offers a developer plan for $49.50/month plus $0.0001 per transaction, at up to 75 transactions per minute, with unlimited storage included. There’s also a business plan for $124.50/month, $0.0001 per transaction and up to 500 transactions per minute, as well as custom enterprise plans and free trials for those who want to give the service a try.

AWS’ pricing is, as usual, a bit more complicated and while there’s no monthly cost, most serious users will end up paying more for Rekognition than IDrive Face, though Rekognition offers a number of features like text, object, scene and celebrity recognition that aren’t available in the competing product, which only focuses on faces.


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DigitalOcean launches managed MySQL and Redis database services – gpgmail


Half a year after launching its managed PostgreSQL service, upstart hosting and cloud services platform DigitalOcean today announced the launch of its managed MySQL and Redis database offerings, too.

Like most of the company’s latest releases, this move exemplifies DigitalOcean’s ambition to move beyond its discount hosting roots and to become a more fully-fledged cloud provider. Besides the database service and its core hosting products and infrastructure, the company now offers object and block storage and a Kubernetes engine, which itself can be used to run virtually any modern piece of cloud infrastructure. It’s unlikely to catch up with the hyperclouds anytime soon, but it’s good to have a competitor in the market.

“With the additions of MySQL and Redis, DigitalOcean now supports three of the most requested database offerings, making it easier for developers to build and run applications, rather than spending time on complex management,” said Shiven Ramji, DigitalOcean’s Senior VP of Product. “The developer is not just the DNA of DigitalOcean, but the reason for much of the company’s success. We must continue to build on this success and support developers with the services they need most on their journey towards simple app development.”

Pricing for the managed database services remains the same, no matter which engine you choose.

The new database services are now available in the company’s New York, Frankfurt and San Francisco data centers. Support for other database engines is also in the works. As the company notes, it selected MySQL and Redis because of popular demand from its developer community and it will do so for other engines as well. MySQL and Redis were the only services on DigitalOcean’s roadmap for 2019, though, so I don’t expect we’ll see any additional releases before the end of the year.


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VMware says it’s looking to acquire Pivotal – gpgmail


VMware today confirmed that it is in talks to acquire software development platform Pivotal Software, the service best known for commercializing the open-source Cloud Foundry platform. The proposed transaction would see VMware acquire all outstanding Pivotal Class A stock for $15 per share, a significant markup over Pivotal’s current share price (which unsurprisingly shot up right after the announcement).

Pivotal’s shares have struggled since the company’s IPO in April 2018. The company was originally spun out of EMC Corporation (now DellEMC) and VMware in 2012 to focus on Cloud Foundry, an open-source software development platform that is currently in use by the majority of Fortune 500 companies. A lot of these enterprises are working with Pivotal to support their Cloud Foundry efforts. Dell itself continues to own the majority of VMware and Pivotal, and VMware also owns an interest in Pivotal already and sells Pivotal’s services to its customers, as well. It’s a bit of an ouroboros of a transaction.

Pivotal Cloud Foundry was always the company’s main product, but it also offered additional consulting services on top of that. Despite improving its execution since going public, Pivotal still lost $31.7 million in its last financial quarter as its stock price traded at just over half of the IPO price. Indeed, the $15 per share VMware is offering is identical to Pivotal’s IPO price.

An acquisition by VMware would bring Pivotal’s journey full circle, though this is surely not the journey the Pivotal team expected. VMware is a Cloud Foundry Foundation platinum member, together with Pivotal, DellEMC, IBM, SAP and Suse, so I wouldn’t expect any major changes in VMware’s support of the overall open-source ecosystem behind Pivotal’s core platform.

It remains to be seen whether the acquisition will indeed happen, though. In a press release, VMware acknowledged the discussion between the two companies but noted that “there can be no assurance that any such agreement regarding the potential transaction will occur, and VMware does not intend to communicate further on this matter unless and until a definitive agreement is reached.” That’s the kind of sentence lawyers like to write. I would be quite surprised if this deal didn’t happen, though.

Buying Pivotal would also make sense in the grand scheme of VMware’s recent acquisitions. Earlier this year, the company acquired Bitnami, and last year it acquired Heptio, the startup founded by two of the three co-founders of the Kubernetes project, which now forms the basis of many new enterprise cloud deployments and, most recently, Pivotal Cloud Foundry.


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DigitalOcean gets a new CEO and CFO – gpgmail


DigitalOcean, the cloud infrastructure service that made a name for itself by focusing on low-cost hosting options in its early days, today announced that it has appointed former SendGrid COO and CFO Yancey Spruill as its new CEO and former EnerNOC CFO Bill Sorenson as its new CFO. Spruill will replace Mark Templeton, who only joined the company a little more than a year ago and who had announced his decision to step down for personal reasons in May of this year.

“DigitalOcean is a brand I’ve followed and admired for a while — the leadership team has done a tremendous job building out the products, services and, most importantly, a community, that puts developer needs first,” said Spruill in today’s announcement. “We have a multi-billion dollar revenue opportunity in front of us and I’m looking forward to working closely with our strong leadership team to build upon the current strategy to drive DigitalOcean to the company’s full potential.”

Spruill das have a lot of experience, given that he was in CxO positions at SendGrid through both its IPO in 2017 and its sales to Twilio in 2019. He also previously held the CFO role at DigitalGlobe, which he also guided to an IPO.

In his announcement, Spruill notes that he expects DigitalOcean to focus on its core business, which currently has about 500,000 users (though it’s unclear how many of those are active, paying users). “My aspiration is for us to continue to provide everything you love about DO now, but to also enhance our offerings in a way that is meaningful, strategic and most helpful for you over time,” he writes.

Spruill’s history as CFO includes its fair share of IPOs and sales, but so does Sorenson’s. As CFO at EnerNOC, he guided that company to a sale to investor Enel Group. Before that, he led business intelligence firm Qlikto an IPO.

It’s not unusual for incoming CEOs and CFO’s to have this kind of experience, but it does make you wonder what DigitalOcean’s future holds in store. The company isn’t as hyped as it once was and while it still offers one of the best user experiences for developers, it remains a relatively small player in the overall cloud game. That’s a growing market, but the large companies — the ones that bring in the majority of revenue — are looking to Amazon, Microsoft and Google for their cloud infrastructure. Even a small piece of the overall cloud pie can be quite lucrative, but I think DigitalOcean’s ambitions go beyond that.


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