Cray, Microsoft to Deliver Supercomputer-as-a-Service on Azure Cloud

Today’s topics include Cray and Microsoft’s supercomputer-as-a-service partnership; Cisco’s acquisition of cloud communications vendor BroadSoft; Alphabet’s Project Loon delivering wireless communication to Puerto Rico; and the launch of Pay with Google.

Announced Oct. 23, Cray will be furnishing Microsoft's cloud with supercomputing systems, allowing Microsoft Azure cloud customers to accelerate their high-performance computing workloads.

With the new supercomputer as a service, "customers can get a dedicated Cray XC or CS series supercomputer in Azure to run HPC and [artificial intelligence] applications alongside their other cloud workloads directly on the Azure network,” said Jason Zander, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Azure Team.

According to Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray, the arrival of his company's high-end systems on Microsoft's cloud makes supercomputing attainable to more enterprises.

Cray's technology integrates with Azure Virtual Machines on the computing front and Data Lake for storage. The systems will also support Microsoft's AI platform and Azure Machine Learning.

Cisco announced on Oct. 23 the $1.9 billion acquisition of cloud communications vendor BroadSoft as it continues its transformation to a more cloud-centric company.

BroadSoft has partnered with more than 450 telecommunications companies in 80 countries to bring its products to more than 19 million customers globally. After the deal closes in the first quarter of 2018, BroadSoft employees will be folded into Cisco’s UC Technology Group.

Cloud unified communications market penetration will jump almost six-fold between 2015 and 2020, creating demand for platforms that enable increasingly mobile workers to collaborate from anywhere and on any device.

“We chose BroadSoft as it provides a portfolio of cloud collaboration platforms and business applications, which strengthen our cloud investments and ability to deliver collaboration solutions to our global telecom provider customers,” said Rob Salvagno, Cisco vice president of corporate development.

Over a month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, much less than half of the island’s cell service is operational, which makes sending relief or providing emergency care impossible in some areas.

Less than two weeks after the FCC issued Alphabet's X group an experimental license to operate its Project Loon balloon-borne wireless platform over Puerto Rico, balloons are already floating over the island and starting to provide communications.

“Working with AT&T, Project Loon is now supporting basic communication and internet activities,” said Alastair Westgarth, head of Project Loon.

“Project Loon is still an experimental technology and we’re not quite sure how well it will work, but we hope it helps get people the information and communication they need to get through this unimaginably difficult time,” he added.

Pay with Google, a service that Google announced at its I/O event in May, has officially gone live. With the new service, people can now pay for purchases made on the mobile Web or from within mobile applications using verified credit or debit cards saved to their Google account.

When buyers choose to pay with Google at a merchant's online checkout page, Google will send the merchant the buyer's stored payment information and shipping address.

The merchant then handles the transaction like any other credit or debit card transaction. Pay with Google eliminates the step of filling out payment information and forms, thus speeding up the checkout process.

"If you’ve ever paid for something on your phone or tablet, you know just how frustrating checkout can be," noted Pali Bhat, vice president of products at Google's Payments group. “The new payment option [enables] users to complete purchases with just a few clicks.”