7 things we learned at Structure Europe

Facebook’s breaking up with hardware OEMs, Europeans distrust the cloud and it’s anyone’s guess whether there will be an Amazon of Europe. Those were among the key takeaways from the first-ever Structure Europe event in Amsterdam last week.

Storing big data in the cloud is easy — getting it there is hard

The cloud is a great thing when it comes to storing large quantities of data, but getting it into and out of cloud-storage services can be difficult. Technologies that speed that process up can allow for new uses of that data, says Aspera CEO Michelle Munson.

Intelligence is a mobile developer’s best friend

Yes, 4G and LTE networks are huge improvements over previous-generation mobile networks, but they’re not about to cure mobile-data woes without some smart development to help them. Speaking at GigaOM Mobilize on Thursday, Aspera’s Serban Simu and Akamai’s (s akam) Kris Alexander espoused the value of both intelligent network design and intelligent app designers to begin with.

The problem with transferring large files such as movies over mobile networks really boils down to distance and congestion. As Alexander explained, even a 300-kilobit web site can take a long time to load because it might involve 30 different requests that each must make the roundtrip from phone to mobile network to the internet and back. Right now, he said, web pages for major companies that take 3 seconds to load over the web take 9 seconds to load on a mobile device, which is a huge problem if companies don’t want users abandoning their sites.

Aspera’s Simu pointed to congestion as a major inhibitor of rich mobile experiences. Although 4G networks can boost performance of his company’s file-transfer tool by three to four times over 3G networks, Simu said, it’s a volatile medium on which performance is inconsistent, in large part because a network can become congested in just fractions of a second.

One part of the solution will come from carriers, device manufacturers, and middlemen such as Aspera and Akamai that can make data transfer that much more efficient. Referencing those 30 roundtrips to load a standard web site, Alexander asked, “What if I could do it in two or three? What if i could do it in one?”

Or if devices and servers were both speaking the same language, he added, perhaps they could intelligently decide to take shortcuts that deliver content in a manner that accounts for the chatty nature of TCP/IP networks. Akamai, he noted, it working on all sorts of tactics for improving the performance of mobile data networks, and it plans to make them available industry-wide.

Simu suggested the idea of caching data on devices themselves, noting that a standard device can easily hold enough properly encoded HD video to let someone stream episodes of a television series and keep only the data that’s needed to watch what’s coming next.

But the real trick is for app developers to get smart about programming. They can’t rely on bandwidth to improve, and even tools like what Aspera and Akamai are doing can only improve certain aspects of a mobile app’s performance. A beautiful UI is great, Simu said, but maybe not as important as reducing those 50 REST calls down to 1, or figuring out whether the amount of data an app has to send in order to be useful is even feasible at all.

Check out the rest of our Mobilize 2012 coverage here, and the live stream can be found here.

Something’s gotta give when big data meets broadband

Somewhere in the mountains of Chile scientists want to build a telescope capable of taking roughly 1,400 photos daily of the night sky consisting of 6 gigabytes of information each. But getting all that data off the mountain will require better broadband and smarter algorithms.

NAB: Cloud computing is ready for its closeup

Few industries are better suited to the cloud computing model than film and TV production. Show business is heavily project-oriented with myriad production shops and contractors collaborating on relatively short-term, compute-intensive projects. That’s why the cloud-computing giants are converging at NAB this week.

The Hurdles for Moving Big Data ‘Round the World

Underlying all the useful applications, like Hadoop, that have emerged out of the big data ecosystem, there’s a fundamental assumption: The data that companies want will be able to be accessed when companies want and need it, explained Michelle Munson, CEO and co-founder of Aspera.

Is Consumer Content Up Next for Aspera?

With more huge files and data sets making their way across the Internet every day, Aspera’s work of speeding the transfer of that data is never done. And although the company still focuses primarily on the enterprise, consumer content might be on the horizon.

How Can Hollywood Utilize the Cloud?

Cloud computing, as touted by its evangelists, is going to revolutionize the way organizations do business and leverage technology. The ultimate potential of this remains to be seen, but one industry that is in a unique position to take advantage is the media and entertainment industry.

Aspera’s iPhone App Sends Fat Files With Ease

Aspera today launched a version of its rapid file transport software for the iPhone, which will allow iPhone users to squeeze their picture and video files through the crappiest connection that AT&T may have to offer. The software makes 3G file transfers three times faster.