Cloud options mean decisions, decisions for IT buyers

Much has been written about cloud consolidation, with M&A roiling the cloudscape over the past few months: Cisco bought Metacloud, EMC bought CloudscalingHP snapped up Eucalyptus. Despite all that, cloud deployment options abound, and choice will be a big theme at the upcoming Structure 2015 event, this June in San Francisco.

First, there is more choice than ever in public cloud. Sure, Amazon Web Services leads the market-share race by a wide margin. But viable options are available — from Microsoft Azure to Google Cloud Platform to vCloud Air to Digital Ocean to CenturyLink. What many of us tend to forget is that, despite all the cloud talk, we’re still very early in the game when it comes to business deployment. There’s a ton of opportunity out there. Is it enough to float all boats? That’s the zillion-dollar question.

We will discuss those options, and how even the biggest enterprises — General ElectricWalmart — are deploying more of their IT on cloud. The question is no longer if, but when.

At this year’s event, we’ll welcome back [company]Amazon[/company] CTO Werner Vogels, Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla, [company]Microsoft[/company] EVP Scott Guthrie, Google SVP Urs Hölzle, Battery Ventures technology fellow Adrian Cockcroft and DataGravity CEO Paula Long.

We’ll hear from first-timers, too: Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth, Digital Ocean CEO Ben Uretsky, CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi. And, on the end user side, we’re really excited to bring on stage National Football League CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle, FBI CISO Arlette Hart and Pinterest head of engineering Michael Lopp. More names to come.

For a refresher of last year’s event, here’s a sampling of some favorite sessions:

Google’s Urs Holzle:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9R4P0TLViA]

Facebook’s Jay Parikh:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9FYTbxWK1o]

Intel SVP Diane Bryant:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTXuwqLUw7M]

Amazon’s Werner Vogels:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZPlr2-KMnw]

Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TImzXnUaO0A]

Where to watch the 2015 Super Bowl live online

You may watch it because you’re a football fan. Or for the ads. Or simply because it’s tradition. Regardless of the reason, when the Super Bowl begins on Sunday, you’re going to want to be watching — even if you don’t have cable, or maybe not even a TV.

That’s because just like last year, the event is going to be live streamed online. Super Bowl XLIX is being broadcast by NBC, and the network decided to do away with its usual requirement to sign in with your cable subscription and instead it plans to let everyone watch; cord cutters included.

The basics: Super Bowl XLIX features the New England Patriots facing off against the defending champion Seattle Seahawks. The game will be played at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., and kickoff will be at 6:30pm ET (3:30pm PT).

NBC.com is streaming the Super Bowl in its entirety on its website, including NBC’s pre-game coverage, the halftime show featuring Katy Perry, as well as post-game coverage. Streaming will begin at noon ET (9am PT), and continue until 10pm ET (7pm PT).

NBC’s Sports Live Extra apps will also stream the action via their tablet apps for iOS, Android and Windows, but NBC doesn’t have the rights to stream to mobile devices, so streaming to iPhones, Android phones and Windows phones won’t work. The apps may ask you to log in with your cable account if you access live video ahead of time, but NBC has promised that this won’t be the case starting at noon ET Sunday.

Verizon subscribers will also be able to watch the Super Bowl on their phones, thanks to the NFL Mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry. Sorry, subscribers to other carriers need not apply — this one is a Verizon exclusive.

The NFL audio pass offers a live audio feed with commentary for $9.99. The subscription will also allow users to access archived NFL events throughout July.

Foreign-language radio: Audio of the Super Bowl is live streamed with commentary in Spanish, Hungarian, Japanese, French, Portuguese, Mandarin and German. Links to each webcast can be found on the NFL’s website.

Viewers abroad can tune in to a live stream of the Super Bowl via the NFL Game pass, which is available for $54.99 for anyone not residing in the U.S. and Mexico.

Hulu once again has its collection of Super Bowl ads dubbed the Adzone.

YouTube is aggregating and ranking Super Bowl ads as part of its Adblitz.

The Puppy Bowl completes every Super Bowl Sunday like a furry, friendly sidekick. Animal Planet isn’t streaming the cuter bowl live, but it has plenty of videos to tease us already on its website, and visitors of Animal Planet Live can also catch some rare Puppy Bowl training sessions live online.

We have disabled comments on this post to prevent the usual influx of links to fake and less-than-legal streams. Feel free to ping us on Twitter if you have questions or comments!

Real-time data analytics could change sports forever

It was early in the 2015 NFC championship football game last Sunday when Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy was twice confronted with a tough decision: should the Packers, having put the Seattle Seahawks — owners of the National Football League’s best defense — on its heels in front of its raucous home crowd, go for a touchdown on fourth-and-short from near the goal line? Or should they settle for the easy field goal attempt?

McCarthy chose to take the three points on two separate occasions, despite the agonized screams of Structure Data event lead (and Wisconsin native) Derrick Harris into his television thousands of miles away, urging McCarthy to roll the dice. That decision did not work out for the Packers, who eventually succumbed to Seattle in overtime after the defending Super Bowl champs mounted a furious comeback in the last three minutes of the game.

Criticizing coaches with the benefit of hindsight is a time-honored sports media tradition. But we’re finally getting to the point where gut instinct is starting to look foolish given the reams of data available to coaches of all sports; especially in the NFL, contractually obligated to show off Microsoft’s Surface 3 tablets in as many ways as possible. I’m talking about stuff way beyond the New York Times’ Fourth-Down Bot.

What if McCarthy had access to real-time data that showed how Seattle’s defense was responding (or not) to a ferocious Green Bay drive that got them deep into enemy territory? What if he could seize upon that data to identify a weakness in the secondary within the 40-second play clock and and hurry-up offense (which makes it almost impossible for the defense to substitute) to call a play designed to exploit that weakness, one that he could feel much more confident about employing than the standard generic run up the middle on a goal-line situation?

The proliferation of data and mobile computing has made it quite possible for NFL coaches to start employing such tactics, and that’s something I want to explore on stage at Structure Data when I have the opportunity to interview Krish Dasgupta, vice president of data analytics and technology for sports broadcasting giant ESPN, and Bill Squadron, executive vice president for pro analytics at stats giant Stats Inc., on March 18th in New York.

Coaches have always sought to exploit weaknesses in an opponent in their game planning. And ever since Bill James and Billy Beane woke up the stodgy baseball world to the power of statistics and data analysis, the science of player evaluation and scouting has been changed forever.

But I’m really curious about the impact of in-game data analysis. We explored this a little at Structure last year, when Booz-Allen Hamilton showed off some of the work it had done analyzing Major League Baseball pitchers and their tendencies to throw certain pitches in certain situations. But there is so much potential here, both for teams themselves and broadcasters like ESPN seeking to give its viewers more insight into the game.

Take the Packers-Seahawks game: What if McCarthy (or Fox, broadcasting the game) had access to real-time data about how the Seahawks defense was reacting to the Packers’ drive. Were the linebackers hesitating on a certain snap cadence? Did they tend to blitz in situations in which the offense deployed a certain formation? Were certain members of the defense more fatigued then others, something you could assess by seeing how fast they were running downfield on pass plays?

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Football coaches are obsessed with preparation, and go over hours and hours of film in the days leading up to a game. They also review pictures of a given drive within a game once the offense or defense gets back to the sidelines. But imagine a situation in which McCarthy, Green Bay offensive coordinator Tom Clements, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers had access to a real-time heads-up database (projected onto Rodgers’ face mask, perhaps) that provided accurate information about the condition of the defense cross-referenced against the Packers playbook?

That might have changed McCarthy’s thinking in those crucial fourth-down situations, had he been able to ascertain weaknesses in Seattle’s defensive approach. And, of course, Seattle’s defense wouldn’t be standing still: if it could tell its linebackers that the right tackle is getting off the snap a half-second slower than the rest of the line, that could translate into a huge advantage.

I’m also interested in the ability of real-time data analysis to monitor the health of professional football players. Anyone who has grown up with the NFL has been witness to an uneasy transition in which players have gotten so much bigger and faster while playing basically the same game with basically the same equipment. Even Iron Mike Ditka isn’t sure he would allow his kids to play football at this point, knowing what we know now: data (especially real-time data) could give us a much better sense of what is actually happening to these athletes at all levels of the game and how we can best protect them.

As a fan, I’m not entirely sure how real-time data analysis would affect the game. Do we really need computers to make all of our decisions for us? I’d like to think that NFL competitors would use data analysis as a tool, and not a crutch, when analyzing how best to proceed in games that are still subject to a huge degree of randomness.

But as a journalist, these are fascinating topics. I hope that Dasgupta and Squadron are willing to share some interesting insights with the Structure Data audience, and if you’d like to hear what they have to say in person in New York this March, you can buy tickets here.