Yahoo Inc is expected today to reveal cost-cutting efforts and give details of how it is evaluating possible acquisitions as it faces mounting pressure from an activist investor, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person who was briefed on the plan.
Yahoo is considering purchasing one or more large technology startups with some of the $5.8 billion it made from the initial public offering of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the newspaper said.
Representatives at Yahoo did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment outside regular U.S. business hours.
Last month, activist investor Starboard Value LP publicly pressured Yahoo to cut what it referred to as a “bloated” cost structure.
Starboard, the second activist investor to target Yahoo in the last three years, also said the company should quickly “monetize” its Asian assets, which exceed the enterprise value of its actual business.
Earlier this month, Yahoo said it is reducing the size of its operations in Bangalore, India, the Internet company’s largest engineering facility outside its California headquarters. It is also closing its office in Jordan.
Yahoo is “streamlining” its operations in foreign offices, which might involve a combination of closing offices, cutting jobs and moving workers to its Sunnyvale, California, headquarters, the Journal said.
The official cessation of discussions to merge two of the tech industry’s largest enterprise-oriented firms may come as a disappointment to activist investors Elliott Management, which has pushed hard for storage products maker EMC to pursue merger or spinoff opportunities.
Pressure is building on EMC as rival technology companies, such as eBay Inc and Symantec, begin spinning off operations in an attempt to unlock shareholder value, become more agile, and capitalize on faster-growing businesses.
It is unclear when talks ended following months-long discussions, the people said on condition of anonymity because the talks were private.
Executives from the two companies were still trying to hammer out a deal as recently as last week, but talks bogged down on price and are now dead, the people said.
HP has temporarily suspended its stock buyback program ahead of its Nov. 25 earnings because the company said it is in possession of material non-public information. When pressed by stock analysts, Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak noted on a conference call that the non-public information pertains to a possible acquisition.
HP and EMC declined to comment on Tuesday.
It is also unclear what specifically was discussed. A straight-up merger of the two companies would have created one of the industry’s largest providers of data storage, and created a computing giant with deep penetration in the business of providing computing hardware and services to corporations.
Security software maker Symantec Corp is in advanced negotiations to split its business into two entities – one that sells security programs and another that does data storage, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.
An announcement may be a few weeks away, according to Bloomberg.
Symantec declined to comment on the report.
Reuters reported in April that Symantec, the biggest U.S. security software maker, was in the process of hiring banks to help advise on strategy and defend against possible activist investors.
Private equity firms were also looking at the possibility of breaking up Symantec into smaller pieces, some of which may also be attractive to industry peers, sources told Reuters at that time.
A breakup may position Symantec’s separated businesses as acquisition targets, given that large companies including EMC Corp and Hewlett-Packard Co are interested in the stand-alone security business or in an independent storage business, Bloomberg reported.
Earlier this year, the company, known for its Norton antivirus software, abruptly fired its CEO as it struggles to revive growth amid eroding PC sales.
Symantec, which also offers data storage products, has seen revenue growth turn negative in recent quarters, unlike the rest of the security software market, which is growing at least 10 percent to 15 percent annually.
The slowdown is partly due to eroding PC sales, affecting demand for its software, which often comes bundled with new computers. It has failed to gain a strong footing in the market for mobile security.
If it goes ahead with the breakup, Symantec would join technology companies that are spinning off operations in an attempt to become more agile and capitalize on faster-growing businesses.
Three of the four largest U.S. mobile operators and satellite provider Dish Network Corp plan to bid in the Federal Communications Commission’s November auction of airwaves, according to initial applications released on Wednesday.
As expected, the largest U.S. wireless carrier Verizon Communications Inc, No. 2 AT&T Inc, No. 4 T-Mobile US Inc and Dish appeared to be the largest companies to indicate an interest in bidding in the upcoming auction of frequencies known as AWS-3.
Applications from Northstar Wireless LLC and SNR Wireless LicenseCo LLC reported they had entered bidding agreements with Dish, which had indirect ownership interest in both companies.
Northstar’s disclosures showed direct and indirect ownership interest by Alaska Native corporation Doyon Ltd and indirect ownership interest by financial firm Catalyst Investors. Asset manager BlackRock Inc had membership shares in SNR, according to the documents.
T-Mobile and AT&T did not appear to plan joint bids with other companies, and T-Mobile’s Kathleen Ham, vice president of federal regulatory affairs, said the carrier had no such agreements with any company.
A Verizon spokesman did not respond to inquiries about potential joint bidding and Dish representatives declined comment beyond confirming the submission of its application, citing FCC’s anti-collusion rules.
A total of 80 entities submitted initial applications. Interested parties, which may or may not actually bid for wireless licenses in the auction, included smaller U.S. companies such as Bluegrass Wireless LLC, Guam-based wireless company Docomo Pacific Inc and individual spectrum investors.
Scheduled to begin on Nov. 13, the auction is expected to raise at least $10 billion and will include airwaves previously occupied by multiple federal users, including the Department of Homeland Security.
Dish applied to bid in the auction as American AWS-3 Wireless I LLC and disclosed joint bidding arrangements with SNR and Northstar, which in turn had to disclose ownership and other information.
SNR listed former FCC Wireless Bureau Chief John Muleta, now CEO of consulting firm Atelum LLC, as a contact. Muleta, reached late on Wednesday, declined comment, citing FCC’s restrictions.
Northstar’s disclosures listed Allen Todd, assistant secretary at Doyon, a Fairbanks-based Alaska Native Regional Corporation with numerous affiliates in various fields including oil and gas land drilling. Todd could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
SNR’s and Northstar’s, as well as AT&T’s, initial application appeared to be incomplete, which can be caused by small bureaucratic omissions. Of the 80 applications, 47 were deemed incomplete and have to be properly finished by Oct. 15 to allow the companies to participate.
All initial applications have to put down an upfront payment by Oct. 15 to confirm participation.
EBay Inc’s agreement to spin off PayPal next year will give the unit more flexibility to strike deals in the constantly evolving payments arena as growth at the company’s traditional e-commerce business slows.
The surprise move is a huge about-face for eBay’s leadership, including Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe, who resisted shareholder activist Carl Icahn’s calls for a split earlier this year and led a months-long campaign to convince investors that eBay should remain intact.
Icahn, eBay’s sixth-largest shareholder, eventually backed off in April. But eBay directors and executives shifted their stance on the split in June after a six-month internal study of the payments landscape, Donahoe said in an interview.
“We felt like a couple things were changing,” Donahoe said. “Most notably, the pace of change in this competitive environment, and payments and commerce is accelerating and will continue to over the next three to five years.”
By splitting off PayPal, the fast-growing payments division and the new eBay would have “more focus, more flexibility, more agility, more ability to move quickly,” said Donahoe, who will step down as CEO after the spinoff in the second half of 2015.
Donahoe and Chief Financial Officer Bob Swan, who will also leave next year, plan to serve on the boards of one or both companies after the split. EBay will spin off PayPal as a publicly traded company in a transaction that will be tax-free to shareholders.
PayPal’s next CEO will be Dan Schulman, former head of American Express Co’s online and mobile payment business. The new eBay will be headed by Devin Wenig, president of eBay marketplaces and former head of the markets division at Thomson Reuters Corp.
By freeing itself from the slower-growing parts of eBay, PayPal can build partnerships with e-commerce rivals and seize market share from payment startups like Stripe, backed by several PayPal founders, and technology behemoths like Apple Inc, which unveiled its own mobile payments initiative earlier this month.
“There are those who have not embraced PayPal because they’re part of eBay,” said Richard Sichel, chief investment officer of The Philadelphia Trust Co, which manages $2 billion and owns eBay shares. “It’s more of a pure play then.”
The split highlights the slowing growth of the marketplace business, which may be less alluring for some investors on its own. PayPal was founded in the late 1990s, went public in 2002 and was acquired by eBay soon after for $1.5 billion.
The “transaction implies negative trends for the eBay marketplace business, which has been suffering from greater competitive headwinds recently,” RBC Capital analyst Mark Mahaney said in a research note.
Kuddle, a Norwegian photo-sharing app created for children, plans to roll out a child safe tablet with Microsoft on Dec 1, and expects to sign funding deals with several venture capital firms within weeks, its chief executive said on Monday.
The Oslo-based company said it was on track to reach its goal of one million users by year-end and plans to soon raise another $5 million of fresh funds on top of the nearly $6 million it has already raised.
“We are working with Microsoft on several child safe devices which will be sold on our online store,” Chief Executive Ole Vidar Hestaas said. “The first device will be an Ipad Mini sized tablet prized under $100 that will be ready ahead of the Kuddle Store launch.”
“This is a child friendly device and it is not possible to download games like GTA (Grand Theft Auto) or apps like Snapchat,” Hestaas said.
Kuddle, which bills itself as a rival to Instagram, lets parents monitor what their children publish and keeps access to content restricted, preventing strangers from seeing and sharing pictures. There are no hashtags or comments to prevent online bullying and “likes” are anonymous.
Hestaas said the company also is in talks with Samsung and Microsoft’s Nokia phones unit on similar cooperation, and that it was also working on deals with European telecoms operators Telenor and Vodafone for child safe Kuddle SIM cards to be sold separately or linked up to one of its devices.
The app, which has a target of 1 million users by the end of 2014, is now available in 7 languages. The most significant growth has recently come from Brazil and the US.
Hestaas said he expects to conclude funding deals with several major international venture capital funds within weeks.
The firm’s present investors include Norwegian golf ace Suzann Pettersen.
French budget-conscious telecom operator Iliad has set a mid-October deadline to decide whether to improve its bid for T-Mobile US or walk away as it faces resistance from seller Deutsche Telekom, several people familiar with the situation said.
Deutsche Telekom, which owns 66 percent of the fourth-largest U.S. carrier, has doubts that Iliad will be able to improve the U.S. business since the French startup has no track record in the country, a source close to the German company’s management said.
Under the deal structure proposed by Iliad, Deutsche Telekom would have to keep a stake in the combined company.
Iliad is currently in talks with several U.S. banks to help it finance a possible improved bid for T-Mobile US alongside existing lenders HSBC and BNP Paribas, the people familiar with the situation said, after a $33 per share offer for 56.6 percent of T-Mobile US was rejected by Deutsche Telekom.
Chief Financial Officer Thomas Reynaud said Iliad’s key leverage ratio would not surpass 4.5 times net debt to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). He also said that Iliad would limit any capital increase to fund the T-Mobile bid to 2 billion euros ($2.57 billion).
Iliad is also seeking to team up with private equity funds including KKR to raise about $5-6.5 billion, the sources, who could not be named because the talks are private, said.
T-Mobile US, Iliad and KKR declined to comment. Deutsche Telekom could not be reached immediately for comment.
Iliad’s management team has now finished road shows to meet U.S. investors and is waiting to hear back from potential investors, the sources said.
Depending on how positive the feedback is from private equity investors, the French firm could be able to table an improved bid in the second week of October, two of the sources said.
Iliad could offer between $35 and $40 per share for a stake in T-Mobile of between 60 percent and 90 percent, depending on the appetite of private equity funds and lenders for the deal, two other sources said.
Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto doesn’t want to make games for “passive” people; the attitude that games ought to be to be a roller-coaster ride, to entertain without challenge, is, to his mind, “pathetic”. That was the message from the legendary game designer in an E3 interview with Edge magazine, published in this month’s edition; it’s been presented by other news outlets as a sign of a Nintendo U-turn, moving away from the casual market it sought with the Wii and the DS in favour of re-engaging core gamers.
That’s exactly the sort of message that most of the games media wants to hear, of course. The media, after all, speaks exclusively to core gamers; casual players generally don’t bother with specialist media. “Nintendo has seen the error of its ways and realised that the only people worth making games for are you, my dear brethren!” is a crowd-pleaser of a message; but it’s also a pretty big leap to make from the comments Miyamoto actually made.
First, the context. Edge had just challenged Miyamoto over the fact that his prototype games at E3 were all somewhat difficult to play. They used the Wii U GamePad in new ways which it took a while to get accustomed to; the question implied in the text of Edge’s interview isn’t about casual games at all, but about the difficulty level of the prototypes. Miyamoto’s response does make clear a mental distinction between different types of game consumer and a preference for those who enjoy some challenge in their entertainment, but to extrapolate that into a U-turn in Nintendo’s development priorities is an overreach.
In fact, Miyamoto’s comments – equating passivity with “the sort of people who, for example, might want to watch a movie. They might want to go to Disneyland. Their attitude is ‘OK, I am the customer; you are supposed to entertain me’” – are punching in a number of directions at once. Certainly, he’s frustrated by people who play games without ever really engaging with them as a challenge; I doubt he’s a fan of free-to-play systems that allow you to pay money to bypass challenges. Equally, though, those comments are an attack on some approaches to AAA game design; barren technological wonders which serve as little more than on-rails galleries for artwork and pale narrative. Miyamoto isn’t saying “casuals have ruined the market”; far from it. He’s saying that there are consumers who demand spoon-fed entertainment at all points of the spectrum from core to casual, and that he doesn’t want to make games for any of them. (It’s also worth noting that he’s not really blowing his top over this; “pathetic” doesn’t carry the same kind of stinging indictment in Japanese that it does in translation.)
Later in the Edge interview, Miyamoto veers back to similar territory when he talks about the proliferation of mainstream game-capable platforms like iOS and Android devices. While adamant that Nintendo needs to continue to make hardware as well as software, he’s delighted that these new platforms exist, because they provide an “on-ramp” for consumers who haven’t engaged with games before. Nintendo previously saw itself holding a responsibility to try to open up new demographics for the games industry; now it seems that we’ve reached a tipping point, technologically and culturally, where that’s happening by itself.
Edge speculates that this means Miyamoto (and hence Nintendo) believes that the window has shut on making games for entry-level gamers. Titles like Brain Training, which opened up the DS to a huge audience of people who had rarely if ever played games before, may now be pointless; the consumers they ought to target are all playing games on their phones and tablets, so there isn’t an addressable market remaining there for dedicated hardware and more expensive (non-F2P) games. This is fair analysis, and indeed, it probably features in Nintendo’s thinking; let iOS serve as the entry level for new gamers and then hope that those who enjoy the experience will ultimately upgrade to the superior offerings available on a dedicated console.
At the same time, though, Nintendo itself has a conception of “casual” and “core” that probably isn’t shared by the majority of sites reporting Miyamoto’s comments. Miyamoto talks not about themes but about enjoyment of challenge as the distinction between the two groups. To him, a supposedly “adult” game full of blood and ripe language could be utterly casual if it spoon-feeds players with dull, linear gameplay. Meanwhile, a brightly coloured Mushroom Kingdom epic could qualify as “core” if it challenges players in the right way. Consequently, Nintendo’s family-friendly IP and the broad appeal of its themes is entirely compatible with a focus on “core games”, to Miyamoto’s mind. What he’s talking about changing is something at the root of design, not the thematic wallpaper of the company’s games; he wants to challenge people, not to force Nintendo’s artists to remove all the primary colours from their Photoshop palettes.
Viewed in this light, Miyamoto’s comments are an earnest and down-to-earth appraisal of Nintendo’s present situation; still recovering from the heady days of the Wii and figuring out how much of that flash-in-the-pan market is really sustainable, but knuckling down to the challenge of entertaining and delighting (and of course, selling to) those within the audience who really enjoyed games rather than latching onto the platform as a fad. Contrary to the more excitable reportage on his comments, Miyamoto is promising no major changes to Nintendo’s approach; rather, he’s re-committing himself and the company to the same course of action which delivered games like Mario Kart 8, a title firmly within the family-friendly Nintendo tradition and absolutely celebratory of challenge and good design.
“Core gamer” is a phrase that’s picked up a strong whiff of soi-disant elitism and exclusion over the past few years; the phrase “as a core gamer…” in a forum post or comment thread is this odd little corner of society’s equivalent of “I’m not a racist, but…”, indicating a post that’s probably going to brim with self-important awfulness. The bête noire of the core gamer is the “casual”, and just as any move by a game creator or publisher to cater to “casuals” is despised and derided, any prodigal son who declares their abandonment of the casual market and return to the core is greeted with an I-told-you-so roar of delight. This is a thin sliver of the market overall, of course, but a noisy one; as such, it’s worth reiterating that what Miyamoto absolutely did not say is that Nintendo is resetting its course to please these people. Nintendo, for many years to come, will still be a company defined by games that are broadly appealing, generally family-friendly and enormously accessible. Under Miyamoto’s watchful eye, they’ll also be challenging and engaging; but anyone taking his comments on “passivity” as near-confirmation that we’ll see Grand Theft Mario down the line is utterly misreading the situation.
Top executives at Dell and BlackBerry Ltd scoffed at the threat posed by the alliance, arguing the tie-up is unlikely to derail the efforts of their own companies to re-invent themselves.
“I do not think that we take the Apple-IBM tie-up terribly seriously. I think it just made a good press release,” John Swainson, who heads Dell’s global software business, said in an interview with Reuters in Toronto last week.
PC maker Dell and smartphone maker BlackBerry are in the midst of reshaping their companies around software and services, as the needs of their big corporate clients morph.
Swainson, who spent over two decades in senior roles at IBM, said, “I have some trouble understanding how IBM reps are going to really help Apple very much in terms of introducing devices into their accounts. I mean candidly, they weren’t very good at doing it when it was IBM-logoed products, so I do not get how introducing Apple-logoed stuff is going to be much better.”
While conceding that Apple products hold more allure, Swainson said they lack the depth of security features that many large business clients like banks covet.
IBM and Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.
BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen similarly downplayed the threat of the alliance in an interview with the Financial Times, likening the tie-up to when “two elephants start dancing.”
A new survey commissioned by IHS in partnership with Gamer Network has shown that E3 gave a huge boost to the number of people interested in buying a Wii U, with purchasing intent growing by 50 per cent over the course of the event.
Around one thousand core gamers were surveyed on various purchase intentions before and after the LA show, revealing that, whilst Nintendo’s platform started out with the lowest number of people looking at buying it, it saw the biggest benefit from the show’s exposure. 20 per cent of respondents now intend to buy the machine, equal to those who are looking at an Xbox One, which saw a seven per cent increase in popularity.
Sony’s PS4, a clear leader going in to E3, lost ground to its competitors, sinking below 30 per cent of respondents.
In terms of anticipated games, consumers are champing at the bit for 2015′s third-party releases, with Warner’s Arkham Knight leading the charge with an incredible 60 per cent of those surveyed intending to buy the game for at least one platform. Gamers are slightly less excited for 2014′s titles, but Activision’s Destiny is the narrow leader for this year, edging out AC: Unity and GTA V with just under 50 per cent. Both Battlefield Hardline and CoD: Advanced Warfare are lagging behind slightly.
As might be expected, purchasing intent is higher amongst first-party exclusives for current platform owners. On PS4, Uncharted 4 was the most popular game both before and after E3 with 76 per cent of PS4 owners expected to buy it. On Xbox One, it’s Halo which pays the piper, garnering support from 77 per cent of One owners. Over on the Wii U and amazing 89 per cent of owners expect to buy the new Zelda game when it’s released. None of these platform-exclusive heavy hitters will land until 2015 at the earliest, which IHS predicts will increase pre-Christmas reliance on multi-platform games for Microsoft, Sony and, to a lesser extent, Nintendo.
“Although there are other exclusive titles coming in 2014 or already available,” the report reads, “none hold the influence that these leading titles have in terms of selling console hardware, with the exception of Mario Kart 8 for Wii U. As a result, the success of console sales this holiday shopping season will depend more heavily on the total value and content proposition including exclusive content offered by multi-platform games rather than a single, very influential system-selling exclusive. This factor will impact the marketing strategies of the platform holders as we move into 2014′s main shopping season.”
The 3DS stumbled at launch, enduring sluggish sales until Nintendo instituted a drastic price cut on the hardware. While Moffitt noted the impact of the price cut, he said a pair of first-party releases was another key driver in reversing the handheld’s fortunes.
“We had the price cut in August , and then we had Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, which really drove sales that first holiday, and on 3DS we haven’t looked back,” Moffitt said. “So we’ve had momentum ever since that first holiday and we’ve got now 260 some games in the library and some of the best, most highest rated, most highest quality content we’ve ever had on that platform. Everything we launched seems to do above forecast and surprises us on the positive side.”
The situation with the Wii U is similar, Moffitt said, adding that the console is about to reach a very similar tipping point.
“As I look at what we have coming this holiday, now with Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros, plus the innovation of Amiibo, I think we are right at that tipping point where we have a lot of great content that is about to be released for that platform that’s going to tempt gamers into buying the system,” Moffitt said. “From the comments I’m reading online, and following gamers’ comments, I think there are a lot of people that are going to have a hard time resisting buying a Wii U once Smash Bros comes out. I think that’s going to be a major hardware driver for us. So that’s the narrative we hope that plays out and that I think we are starting to see play out.”
One avenue that Nintendo won’t be pursuing to spike Wii U sales is an unbundling of the GamePad, Xbox One Kinect-style. Both companies pitched the peripherals as essential components of their visions, but when Xbox One sales lagged, Microsoft found the demands of potential customers more convincing than their original plans. While Moffitt said Nintendo is still working to create gameplay experiences that demonstrate the true benefits of the Wii U GamePad, he said removing it from the hardware bundle is not in consideration.
“We think GamePad is the only innovation that’s come in this new generation of consoles. So we have the only real point of difference. Certainly graphics are faster, graphics are better. This is not a real innovation for gamers. We are fully committed to leveraging the GamePad, to keeping it bundled with the system.”
As for the problem of third-party support for Wii U, Moffitt namechecked the continued efforts of partners like Sega, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Activision. While some big companies who have dropped the system, Moffitt understood why that would have happened and acknowledged it was Nintendo’s problem to fix.
“It’s all about driving the install base and so that’s our work to do, right? We need to get to a critical mass where it makes financial sense for them,” he said.
Moffitt added that third-party games don’t all come from the big AAA publishers. He touted the company’s efforts in lowering the barriers to entry for indie developers looking to publish on Nintendo platforms.
“We talked to a lot of them before launching the Wii U and we addressed some of the issues that really were holding some of them back from developing realistic content on our platform,” Moffitt said. “At least for the indie community, we’ve become a lot easier to do business with and we’re seeing a steady flow of content now.”
However, those efforts were largely invisible at E3. Where Microsoft and Sony devoted sections of their booths to indie developers working on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 respectively, there was no such equivalent in Nintendo’s booth.
“With any show, you have choices to make,” Moffitt said. “Every time I go down to our booth floor and see how many people are waiting to play Super Smash Bros, when I look outside at the Best Buys… Last night we had four hours of game play on Super Smash Bros. and we had 1,000 people in line. We had to turn people away. So it’s a tough choice for us as a platform holder. We don’t have enough game stations down there on Smash Bros. We try to feature as much content as we can in the limited space that we have. Right now we just have a lot of demand for Super Smash Bros. We could have used 10 more game stations on that game alone. Choices have to be made.”
Finally, Moffitt weighed in on the VR trend. While Nintendo has a distant history in the field with the Virtual Boy headset, Moffitt suggested Nintendo was taking a wait-and-see approach toward returning to it
“What I’d say is it’s appealing technology,” Moffitt said. “It’s interesting. We’re going to follow it closely to see where it goes. It’s got a lot of advantages. It’s got one disadvantage relative to what we know is often very fun for gamers, which is playing games socially in a living room. This is a very single player solitary gaming experience. Not all of our games are fun to play with multiple people in a living room in front of a game console but it doesn’t lend itself to that kind of an experience as well as what Wii U does now. That would be a disadvantage of going in that direction. Could it be a nice addition to our hardware platform? Sure.”
The company, whose software powers the Siri feature on Apple Inc’s iPhones, recently spoke to Samsung Electronics Co and some private equity firms for a possible deal, the Journal said.
Shares of Nuance, which has been struggling to hold on to its pricing in the handsets business, rose as much as 11 percent earlier in the week on the Nasdaq.
Carl Icahn reported a 15.9 percent increase in his stake in the company to 60.8 million shares for the quarter ended Dec. 31.
The activist investor, Nuance’s largest shareholder, held about 19.08 percent stake in the company as of March 31, 2014.
The company’s current market capitalization is about $5.45 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.
It wasn’t clear where the talks, some of which happened earlier this year, currently stand and whether they would result in a deal, the Journal said.
Oracle has added systems to its enterprise-class x86 server line featuring elastic computing capabilities that dynamically adapt their configurations in response to workloads.
The Oracle Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8 are four-socket and eight-socket systems designed for data centre workloads such as virtualisation, Oracle databases and scale-up enterprise applications.
However, the two servers are fitted with a unique variant of Intel’s Xeon E7 v2 processor family that combines the capabilities of three different Xeon processors into one.
Oracle said it worked with Intel to create this chip, the Xeon E7-8895 v2, which can dynamically switch its core count, clock frequency and power consumption without the need for a system level reboot.
This chip is the heart of the elastic computing capability of the Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8, enabling them to adapt to the requirements of different workloads based on its runtime configuration.
It might be configured for transaction processing at a high clock speed for one hour, then switched to higher core counts for the next hour for higher throughput computing, according to Oracle.
“Through close collaboration with Intel, we are the first to announce servers based on the new Xeon E7-8895 v2 processors and the first with unique capabilities that allow customers to dynamically address different workloads in real time,” said Ali Alasti, senior vice president for hardware development at Oracle.
Enhancements have also been made to the system firmware and to Oracle’s Solaris, and Oracle Linux operating systems to support the elastic computing features.
Oracle also said the new systems have a modular design that allows the processors to be upgraded to future Xeon chips, while all the disks are hot-swappable, plus there is hot-pluggable I/O support for industry-standard low-profile PCI Express cards via a dual PCIe card carrier.
The servers also feature a “glueless” architecture that removes the need for a node controller. As node controllers typically change from one processor generation to the next because of modifications to inter-processor communication and coherency protocols, the elimination enables Oracle to offer a future-proof chassis that will support future processor releases from Intel, the firm said.
The Sun Server X4-8 is touted by Oracle as ideal for running its Oracle Database, which has just been updated with an in-memory processing option. It supports 120 processor cores with up to 6TB of memory in its 5U rack-mount chassis, plus up to 9.6TB of hard drive or 3.2TB of solid state drive (SSD) storage.
Meanwhile, the Sun Server X4-4 is said to be well suited for applications requiring large memory footprint virtual machines and running real-time analytics software.
It can be configured with two or four of the Xeon E7-8895 v2 processors, with up to 3TB of memory and 4.8TB of PCIe flash plus 2.4TB of SSDs or 7.2TB of hard drives.
Oracle has eyed SAP HANA with the launch of an in-memory option for the its Database 12c software, which promises to speed up the processing of specific workloads and by up to 100 times.
Key for customers is that this has been integrated transparently, enabling existing workloads and applications that use Oracle Database 12c to take advantage of it.
The in-memory option for Oracle’s flagship Database 12c platform was first disclosed at the Oracle Openworld show in San Francisco last year. However, while the firm is announcing the technology today, the feature will actually be available as part of release 126.96.36.199 of Oracle Database 12c, due to ship within 60 days.
Oracle is pitching the fact that having in-memory capability integrated with its existing database is a key differentiator, especially against SAP’s rival HANA platform, because it offers compatibility with current applications along with existing features for robustness and to guarantee transactional integrity.
im Shetler, vice president of product management at Oracle said, “It is completely transparent to implement for existing applications that work with the Oracle database. This is different from all the other [in-memory] offerings in the market today that either require changes to applications or limit functionality to a subset of full database functionality.”
Singling out SAP HANA, Shetler said that it is effectively an in-memory data store that is very fast, “but they are still trying to complete the rest of the database functionality around it,” he claimed.
“With Oracle, all of the features of the database are available, all of the applications that exist today, including third-party applications, custom-written applications, they will all work out of the box with the Oracle Database In-Memory option, so we think that’s really huge benefit to enabling companies to become real-time enterprises,” he added.
Another area where Oracle claims an advantage is in the size of the database that can be used with its in-memory technology. Users can allocate a region of memory to hold the database and specify which data they want to go into that region, whether this is an entire table, a portion of a table, or a subset of the columns in a table.
“It’s very typical for an analytics application to only look at a small number of columns. A report might have only 10 data items out of a table that might have 500 columns, so it’s important to conserve space to be able to identify precisely just the data that needs to be in memory, and we give you the ability to do that,” Shetler said.
The in-memory option also works with Oracle’s Real Application Clusters (RAC) feature, which allows a single database to be spread across multiple servers, enabling a much larger data set to be accommodated.
On Oracle’s Exadata systems, the in-memory option allows the data to be spread across memory, flash and disk and transparently accessed, according to Oracle, so once more the entire data set does not have to be present in memory at the same time.
Oracle said many of its application teams have been working to incorporate the in-memory option into their software, and from its experience, it believes developers will see a performance boost without changing their applications, but an even greater boost if they update their code to take best advantage of in-memory processing.
“Some applications such as Oracle PeopleSoft, financial applications or the E-Business Suite have seen several hundred and up to a thousand times speed-up through a combination of adding the in-memory option and doing some restructuring of their internal algorithms,” Shetler claimed.
Oracle is also extending its partner program to certify applications on Oracle Database 12c with the in-memory option.
The Oracle in-memory option will be available on all platforms where Oracle Database 12c is currently supported, but availability details have not yet been announced.
Sony Corp make seek an equity partner in its TV unit, which has racked up losses every year for a decade, but the Japanese consumer giant was not entertaining selling or exiting the business, its chief executive said on Thursday.
Sony plans to turn its struggling TV business into a separate entity – Sony Visual Products Inc – within a few months to boost transparency.
The splitting off of its TV unit had fired up speculation about a sale, which CEO Kazuo Hirai sought to dispel.
“We are not thinking about selling our TV operations or shutting them down or anything like that,” he said.
“We’re doing business in the competitive environment of a market. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of an equity tie-up, but right now we are not doing business under the assumption that would happen.”
Hirai, speaking on Thursday at a briefing outlining Sony’s annual strategy, acknowledged TV sales could fall below the company’s forecast for an industry-beating 20 percent rise this fiscal year.
He said, however, that Sony had restructured the business so it could withstand external shocks.
“We’re aware of criticism that the TV target of 16 million units this fiscal year is too high,” he said.
“Even if those risks on volume are borne out, we’ve put in place the capacity to minimise the impact on profitability in the TV operations.”
Sony, roundly criticised for its habit of making overly optimistic forecasts that it repeatedly fails to meet, has pledged that a blast of restructuring in its electronics division this year will return the troubled unit to profit.
The company said it would be possible to expand operating profit threefold in the 2015/16 business year to 400 billion yen, with its aggressive restructuring expected to yield annual cost savings of 100 billion yen.
Hirai’s newly appointed Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida said the company did not plan to change the focus of its electronics division away from the three core businesses of mobile, imaging and games through the next fiscal year at least.