Lyve now works with Seagate drives, hints at more partnerships

Lyve, the personal media startup that introduced its own $300 photo-centric backup device last year, is getting a lot more affordable: Any Seagate drive that has at least 500GB capacity can now be turned into a Lyve backup device, the company announced at CES in Las Vegas this week.

Users just have to download the free Lyve desktop app on their Mac or PC to make use of the drive. After that, Lyve will automatically back up any photos or videos from that computer, as well as any media recorded with mobile device that has the Lyve app installed, onto that drive.

Lyve was first only available to consumers who purchased the $300 Lyve Home device, which is essentially a connected hard drive with phone-sized screen and Lyve’s media management software.

In October, the company also started to make its apps available to users who don’t have any Lyve hardware, giving them a way to organize all their media on multiple devices through one app, but not offering any back-ups. Late last year, Lyve also announced the $200 Lyve studio, which comes with only 500GB of storage, and doesn’t have a screen. Since the release of the free apps, Lyve has seen 250 million photos and videos added to its service, Lyve CEO Tim Bucher told me during an interview at CES.

With this new update, Lyve seemingly deemphasizes its own devices, but Bucher said that we can continue to expect new devices for Lyve. Some of these are going to be made by partners, he added, without elaborating further. Seagate would be an obvious hardware partner for Lyve; the hard drive maker has a significant investment in the company. However, Bucher said that Lyve may also team up with other storage media manufacturers to turn their external hard drives into Lyve storage as well.

Lyve also plans to release an SDK for its service in 2015, and the company is getting ready to update its mobile apps with tagging as well as photo editing features, which it is providing in partnership with Aviary. Users will be able to buy premium effects for editing through in-app purchases, and Bucher told me that there will also be other premium services this year. That’s why making Lyve more readily available via external hard drives will actually help the company to make more money in the long run, argued Lyve’s VP of Marketing Tami Bhaumik: “It allows us to accelerate our plans.”

Lyve starts pre-orders this month, previews personal media device

Lyve Minds, the personal media startup founded by former Apple (S AAPL) exec Tim Bucher, is opening up pre-orders for its Lyve Home device on April 22nd, according to a newsletter sent out to subscribers Tuesday. Lyve Home, which helps to back up photos and synchronize them across your devices, will sell for $300, and the company just previewed some of its functionality in a stylish new YouTube video. Lyve Minds was previously known as Black Pearl Systems, and Bucher told me all about his plans at CES.

How to set up your own personal home cloud storage system

As many outgrow their quotas for free online storage, hosting a personal cloud on becomes a more economical solution. This primer will go over some of the aspects of personal storage one should consider before diving in data first.

Mapping Session results: IaaS endgame

A few weeks ago at GigaOM’s Structure event, we hosted a Mapping Session to sketch out the implications of Infrastructure as a Service’s impact on the enterprise data center value chain. We asked about 40 GigaOM Pro subscribers to join in an interactive discussion with a panel of analysts to assess how far and how fast IaaS would commoditize storage and networking hardware, and the management software that runs it.
Our Mapping Sessions often comprise the first stage in our process for developing research that we present as a Sector RoadMap report or other ecosystem analysis. In a Mapping Session we aim to tap the collective wisdom of our analysts and other thought leaders in the market sector we are researching, to identify the most disruptive trends and their relative importance in shaping a market or industry over the next 12-24 months. We also want to examine which companies are in the best and worst position to ride or drive these trends – we call them “Disruption Vectors” – to gains in market share and revenue.
In this Mapping Session, “The IaaS endgame: commoditizing the data center,” participants decided that computer hardware technology disruptions were so far advanced as to no longer be Disruption Vectors that smart companies could leverage. The collective intelligence present at the session determined that advances in CPU core density, or the impact of Facebook’s open compute standards, were pretty well understood and not big opportunities for vendors. Server gross margins have been commoditized into the single digits, but for the moment shared storage in the form of NAS and SANs are still in the 50 percent to 60 percent range. Routing and switching hardware hovers near 70 percent.
Session participants settled on three critical Disruption Vectors:
Storage commoditization. Plunging flash memory costs plus virtualization software will drive the margins out of big storage first. Network-attached storage (like NetApp) is already becoming a commodity server running as the storage controller connected to an array of disks. However, the storage software isn’t yet able to span controller/arrays from multiple vendors. Storage area networks are on a slower commoditization pace. SANs are typically engineered for extreme performance and fault tolerance.
Network switch commoditization and SDN. Networks from Cisco, Juniper, Arista, and Nicira are heading towards commoditization almost as rapidly as storage, with software-defined networks running switching and routing intelligence in software atop commodity servers and storage is also on the path to commoditization. Though controller software can run on commodity servers, the admin tools don’t interoperate that well. That implies single-vendor networks for a while, where the vendor has pricing power, even if it’s built on commodity hardware.
Open source impact. Many critical cloud-computing technologies had open source origins. Panelists and audience participants expect the open source world will continue to power innovation, and likely spawn management software and new tools for things like workload migration. However, open source is still no defense against supplier lock-in.
Three less influential Disruption Vectors were:
Management/orchestration tools. More means to the end of data center commoditization via IaaS. With the interoperability potential to break down some of the aforementioned lock-in and pricing control.
Packaged software business models. Most IT departments don’t have the experience to create and manage a software business the way packaged software or IaaS companies do. That’s a potential opportunity for systems integrators and other service providers.
Power consumption. Earlier, during the onstage Structure sessions, Zynga’s CIO Debra Chrapaty said electric power consumption could account for 40 percent of the cost of running a big data center. Mapping Session participants said that figure often goes to 75 percent. Consensus was that low-power hardware and management software represented a good opportunity for differentiation and some hope of margin preservation.
Implications for data center vendors
Service provider-scale data centers may have highly optimized modules at a completely different scale than those suitable for enterprise data centers. 40-foot containers may come in several options. One may be configured with the highest performance, highest availability SAN storage. Another container may be configured to have the highest performance routing in order to introduce the minimal possible latency into a mobile app.
Custom collections of modules are generally low-margin, highly commoditized products that lend themselves to very specific use cases. Highly integrated containers can be assembled to add huge amounts of specific types of capacity in order to stand up new data centers very quickly. These containers are likely to support higher gross margins than their off-the-shelf rack or blade brethren. Specialized module configurations will emerge for specific types of computing tasks like transaction processing or high-performance computing in support of scientific or graphical applications.
EMC wants to ensure if damage is done, it does it to itself. It announced a reorganization of its PaaS and SaaS businesses shortly after our session, partly for focus, partly for a shot at new opportunities, and partly to separate businesses with fundamentally different pricing models that drive their valuations.
IaaS providers are moving up into the PaaS space, and PaaS players have their eyes on the applications layer provided by SaaS. But those are tales for another set of Sector RoadMaps.
Other implications

  • Enterprises will be able to share or rent out their own data center in IaaS-enabled marketplaces, but that will play out beyond the 36-month horizon.
  • Session participants decided IaaS data center security was less a disruptive force than an adoption barrier that presented modest differentiation opportunities for would-be cloud infrastructure suppliers.
  • While cloud-based data centers enabled by IaaS are viable in countries with robust high-speed network availability, that is not the case in many regions of the world. Data center commoditization will thus develop at different rates, depending on regional infrastructure maturity.

We welcome your feedback on these disruptive trends. Have we missed or mis-emphasized anything that you believe will be key to shaping data center commoditization over the next two years? Continue the discussion by leaving a comment below.
Mapping session panelists

Today in Cloud

Enterprise storage provider Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) yesterday acquired long-standing partner BlueArc Corporation, bringing BlueArc’s strength in Network Attached Storage (NAS) in-house. Rich Miller describes the deal as giving HDS “an ongoing play in the market for Big Data,” placing it in context alongside earlier acquisitions such as HP’s $2.4billion grab for 3PAR. David Vellante takes a look at the numbers, suggesting that HDS was a significant customer for BlueArc and that acquisition may have been the only alternative to an IPO at a bad time. Chris Mellor speculates on how much HDS spent (possibly $400m or more), before marking the end of an era; “With the acquisition the era of the stand-alone filer supplier comes to a close. Out of all the NAS start-ups, only NetApp has become an independent mature company. All the others have been acquired or crashed.” Consolidation in the enterprise IT market just keeps on coming. Who will be next?

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