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Archive for March 2015

The Internet of Things (IoT) includes any form of technology that can connect to the internet: smartphones, TVs, various sensors, robots, fitness and medical equipment, ATMs,  wearables, and much more than this. Just imagine, lawn sensors that tell a sprinkler when a lawn needs to be watered and how much water is needed based on moisture levels; running shoes that clock your pace ─ and notify you when you’ve run so much that it’s time to replace your shoes; and refrigerators that let you know when food products are reaching their expiration date.

The size of the internet of things’ market is immense. According to research firm IDC, the global market was already worth $1.9 trillion last year. And this numbers will grow greatly in the coming years.

Networking and cloud computing are the key factors that make the IoT possible and help to create a special IoT ecosystem.  In fact, with so much data flowing in from potentially millions of different connected objects, the cloud is likely the only platform suitable for filtering, analyzing, storing and accessing all that information in useful ways.  Cloud is accessible from anywhere and from any device. So ,the more devices are  connected, the greater the use of public cloud services will be.

Here are some thoughts in which direction the cloud will be developing next years:

Special-purpose clouds may appear that will focus specifically on connecting devices and machines. So in the coming years, we’ll see increased focus on the software and especially the cloud services to make all sensors connect, process immense volume of data received from the devices, strong analytical tools and systems that generate insights and enable business improvements.

Also we should not forget about information security, privacy and protection. Most consumer IoT services rely on the public cloud as a key enabling technology, where the security of the data cannot be guaranteed.  People will resist the ubiquitous free flow of information if there is no public confidence that it will not cause serious threats to privacy. In the next years we may see the rise of new tools that will prevent information leakage and will provide security to consumers` information in the cloud.

Just a couple years ago cloud computing was just a buzz word and now it plays an important role in the IT world. Nevertheless the IoT global market is still at its infancy, it`s highly probable that in a couple of years IoT will become inseparable part of our lives. It will dramatically change the way we live our daily lives and what information is stored about us. How do you believe the cloud might evolve as the IOT does?

Anna Kozik

Anna Kozik
Anna.Kozik@altabel.com 
Skype ID: kozik_anna
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

It’s easier to start a new business with the support of experienced mentors and investment from their funds. To get assistance here start-ups can apply for time-limited programs of support from accelerators, and if win they usually get the conditions which allow creating a project that can enter the market and obtain investment. The budding entrepreneurs are provided with office, mentors and a small investment during 3-6 months.

At Altabel Group being focused on working with the Scandinavian companies, including start-ups, we’ve noticed that recently there has been increased interest and efforts to creating efficient environment and conditions for start-ups development. Local accelerators as one of the prerequisites for this are perhaps not so much mature as global leaders like Seedcamp, Y Combinator, Techstars, etc, still are worth considering since they focus on Nordic companies.  To name a few: STING Accelerate, Startupbootcamp, which are rather large and well-know, and Startup Sauna, Nestholma Accelerator, that are smaller. Let’s talk about them a little bit more.

Scandinavian accelerators

STING Accelerate (www.stockholminnovation.com)
Where: Stockholm, Sweden
Acceptance of applications: twice a year, 7-8 startups are selected in each session
Duration: 4 months
Statistics: over 200 startups funded, 45,000,000 SEK in total exits, over 535,000,000 SEK in total funding raised
Conditions of participation: investment of 250,000 SEK (roughly 29,600 USD) comes in the form of a convertible note that can be repaid in three years with 6% interest or converted into equity when the startup can issue shares valued at least 1 million SEK to new investors.

Founded in 2002, STING coaches Stockholm startups dealing with internet, media, cleantech and life sciences. It evaluates about 150 to 200 projects annually, but accepts about 20 to participate in its programs such as STING Accelerate and STING Excelerate, which is a less intensive acceleration program. STING Excelerate provides startups with a personal business coach who visits the company at least a half a day per week for 6-18 months to help the company grow.

The received investment at STING Accelerate will help startups to focus more on developing their product and less on raising funds. The program runs in the center of Stockholm at the co-working space SUP46, and selected companies are offered free office space there throughout the program.

Before STING used to accept only Swedish startups, but now it accepts international startups and offer housing in apartments (at self-cost).

Startupbootcamp (www.startupbootcamp.org)
Where: Copenhagen (Denmark) and others (Istanbul (Turkey), Haifa (Israel), London (UK), Amsterdam, Eindhoven (Netherlands), Berlin (Germany))
Acceptance of applications: several times during the year, 10 startup are selected
Duration: 3 months
Statistics: 9 accelerator programs, 130 companies funded, 2 exits, 20,209,661 USD in total funding raised
Conditions of participation: 15,000 EUR in financing for 8% equity.

Founded in 2010, Startupbootcamp created an international network from eight accelerators. Accelerator selects projects from different countries; startups should be able to move to one of the cities of the program. Each startup team will receive 15,000 EUR and other benefits in the amount of 450,000 EUR. Mentors and experts will work with projects during 3 months. In the end startups will be able to present themselves to funds and business angels.

Some programs accept applications from startups of any fields, the others – just from certain areas: media, transport, energy and others. Startupbootcamp accepts applications from startup teams and individual entrepreneurs as well.

Accelerators abroad

In case you didn’t manage to meet deadlines in your home country in Scandinavia, or accelerators abroad seem to be more attractive and suitable for your startup idea, you are welcome to search for international accelerators across Europe or America for funding your startup business. There are few programs, which Altabel considers to be the most interesting ones on the international scene.

Seedcamp (www.seedcamp.com)
Where: London (United Kingdom)
Acceptance of applications: monthly, 2-3 startups are chosen 
Duration: 1 week
Statistics: 118 startups funded, 7 exits, 17,000,000 USD in total exits, 131,189,940 USD in total funding raised
Conditions of participation: 50,000 EUR in financing for 8-10% equity.

The largest accelerator in Europe founded in 2007 in London by famous venture capitalist Reshma Sohoni with the support of the British venture capital funds. The company’s portfolio consists of more than a hundred startups from European countries.

Twenty selected startup teams undergo an extensive training during the week, and then present their ideas to investors. Two or three startups receive funding afterwards. In addition to investments in the amount of 50,000 EUR, startups receive a number of possibilities. They can attend a course Seedcamp Academy, during which they are expected to learn a successful way of bringing the project to the market. In addition, teams will be given the opportunity to work in the London office of Google Campus and visit the United States in the educational tour.

Le Camping (www.lecamping.org)
Where: Paris, France
Acceptance of applications: once a year, 12 startups are selected
Duration: 6 months
Statistics: 48 startups funded, 2 exits, 10,000,000 USD in total exits, 9,955,000 USD in total funding raised
Conditions of participation: up to 20,000 EUR in financing for 3% equity, 1,000 EUR – grant for international startups.

Le Camping is a program launched by Silicon Sentier, a well-known organization that brings together innovative companies and entrepreneurs in the web and mobility space. Open to all types of entrepreneurs: entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, non-profits; early-stage startups; international teams and exchange programs; late-stage startups. The Accelerator offers 6-month program with an acceleration phase followed by a special growth phase. 140 mentors will come together to support, advise, critique and ultimately position the startups to write their own success story.

The 12 selected startups will enter an intensive program in Numa – Parisian web entrepreneurship eco-system. 3 months of acceleration are given to go from an idea to demo, then 1 month to meet investors all around Europe. On a Demo Day, at the end of the first 3 months the startup teams will meet around 500 international investors. A financial grant offered by its partners 4,500 EUR is provided to each team participating in Le Camping, without any equity engagement in the startups.

Y Combinator (www.ycombinator.com)
Where: Mountain View, CA, USA
Acceptance of applications: twice a year, spring and autumn, 68 startups are selected in each session
Duration: 3 months: January- May, July-August
Statistics: 747 startups funded, 89 exits, 2,283,808,100 USD in total exits, 4,042,698,709 USD in total funding raised
Conditions of participation: 120,000 USD in financing for 7% equity.

The first accelerator in the USA, founded in 2005 by entrepreneur Paul Graham. During its existence Y Combinator has funded more than 700 startups.  According to the founder’s comment, the average estimation of these startups is 22.4 million USD. Scribd, Dropbox and Airbnb – the largest and the most successful companies in Y Combinator’ portfolio.

Selected startup’ teams are invited to Silicon Valley for three months. The program consists of weekly lunches with experts, investors and other entrepreneurs. The course ends with Demo Day, where startups show their results.

Techstars (www.techstars.com)
Where: New York, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Boulder (USA), London (UK)
Acceptance of applications: once a year, 10 startups are selected in the chosen city
Duration: 3,5 months
Statistics: 19 accelerator programs, 502 companies funded, 44 exits, 176,000,000 USD in total exits, 1,148,300,000 USD in total funding raised
Conditions of participation: 18,000 USD in financing for 6% equity and also an opportunity to get a convertible loan in the amount of 51,000 – 100,000 USD.

Founded in 2007 by investors David Cohen and Brad Feld, Techstarts is considered to be the second popular after Y Combinator. Accepts applications from early-stage and late-stage startup’ teams consisting of at least two people. A team of experts works with startups for 3,5 months, and then Demo Day is arranged. The accelerator offers a space for work in each city, as well as additional services necessary for the operation of the company at the initial stage.

Conclusion

Choosing an accelerator depends entirely on your business needs and what you want out of the experience. Some accelerators have themes or focus on certain business sectors such as education, healthcare, or finance. Some are harder to get into as the most popular accelerators are bombarded with applications, making it difficult to get noticed in a sea of startups.

Is anybody planning to apply for one of the programs mentioned above? Have you/your company been through an accelerator? What advice would you give founders who are considering applying to one? That would be interesting to read the comments about real experience from participants, feel free to share your ideas about it.

 

Svetlana Pozdnyakova

Business Development Manager

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

Microsoft Azure (called Windows Azure before 25 March 2014) is a cloud computing platform and infrastructure, created by Microsoft, for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers. It is a growing collection of integrated services – compute, storage, data, networking and app.

It provides both PaaS and IaaS services, which for the general public means a powerful combination of managed and unmanaged services. These services let you build, deploy and manage applications any way you like. Its hybrid cloud solution allows you to store data, backup, recover and build applications in your data center and the public cloud.

With cloud and hybrid services expected to reach US$108 billion by 2017, demand for Microsoft’s cloud products including Microsoft Azure is booming. For now:

  • 57% of Fortune 500 companies are using Microsoft Azure
  • It welcomes 1,000 new customers per day
  • Currently 1.2 million businesses and organizations use Microsoft Azure Active Directory
  • Microsoft Azure gains two times the compute and storage capacity every 6-9 months

What benefits do companies gain from using Microsoft Azure?

Using a cloud computing platform service like Microsoft Azure provides companies with a number of benefits apart from premium storage space and high-performance. The business benefits include:

  • Efficiency – Azure Solutions and Services are known for delivering better-quality products as well as high operational efficiency because of reduced capital costs. Customers and partners can truly realize a huge reduction in total cost of operations and reduced workloads in a small time period.
  • Increased scalability to match demand – as your customer base grows and the usage of your application increases you can just add additional capacity to make sure your application is running smoothly. You don’t have to worry about running out of server capacity.
  • More flexibility and creativity – applications can very quickly be deployed to the Microsoft Azure platform which means that changes can be applied without any downtime. This makes it an ideal platform for your developers to add functionality to your application.
  • Agilitydevelopers would find a host of development tools to take benefit, including automated service management and improved data center presence internationally to reply faster to diverse customer needs.
  • Simplicity – Azure makes use of prevailing development skills in familiar languages such as .Net and even open source languages like Java and PHP to produce and manage applications and services.
  • Trustworthiness – Windows Azure delivers enterprise-class service with consistent service level agreements based on Microsoft’s unbelievable service experience.

Among Azure customers are such companies as HEINEKEN, GE Healthcare, Temenos, Zespri International, 3M, Skanska USA, Xerox, Diebold which speaks for itself 🙂

What position does Microsoft Azure takes up in public cloud?

According to Rightscale releases 2015 state of the cloud report Azure is progressing among enterprises, while Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to dominate in public cloud with 57 percent of technical professionals saying that they run applications on AWS. That’s up from 54 percent a year earlier.

By comparison, Microsoft Azure’s cloud platform and infrastructure posted a combined score of 19 percent. But Microsoft is making gains, posting a 6 point jump in the number of tech professionals using its cloud infrastructure.

Google’s Cloud Platform offerings came in behind Azure, with 8 percent of survey respondents using Google App Engine, and only 5 percent using Google’s infrastructure products.

Microsoft has put huge amount of work towards marketing Azure to large enterprises, so it’s not surprising to see that large businesses are Microsoft’s core customers. There’s also room for that business to grow: a majority of enterprise users responding to the survey said that less than 20 percent of their company’s app portfolio is in the cloud.

What do you think of Microsoft Azure? What future do you predict for it? Thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙂

Yuliya Tolkach

Yuliya Tolkach
Yulia.Tolkach@altabel.com
Skype ID: yuliya_tolkach
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

The big languages are popular for a reason: They offer a huge foundation of open source code, libraries, and frameworks that make finishing the job easier. Sometimes the vast resources of the popular, mainstream programming languages aren’t enough to solve your particular problem. Sometimes you have to look beyond the obvious to find the right language, where the right structure makes the difference while offering that extra feature to help your code run significantly faster without endless tweaking and optimizing. This language produces vastly more stable and accurate code because it prevents you from programming sloppy or wrong code.

The world is filled with thousands of clever languages that aren’t C#, Java, or JavaScript. Some are treasured by only a few, but many have flourishing communities connected by a common love for the language’s facility in solving certain problems. There may not be tens of millions of programmers, who know the syntax, but sometimes there is value in doing things a little different, as experimenting with any new language can pay significant dividends on future projects.

The following six languages should be on every programmer’s radar. They may not be the best for every job — many are aimed at specialized tasks. But they all offer upsides that are worth investigating and investing in. There may be a day when one of these languages proves to be exactly what your project — or boss — needs.

Erlang: Functional programming for real-time systems

Erlang’s secret is the functional paradigm. Most of the code is forced to operate in its own little world where it can’t corrupt the rest of the system through side effects. The functions do all their work internally, running in little “processes” that act like sandboxes and only talk to each other through mail messages. You can’t merely grab a pointer and make a quick change to the state anywhere in the stack. You have to stay inside the call hierarchy. It may require a bit more thought, but mistakes are less likely to propagate.

The model also makes it simpler for runtime code to determine what can run at the same time. With concurrency so easy to detect, the runtime scheduler can take advantage of the very low overhead in setting up and ripping down a process. Erlang fans like to flourish about running 20 million “processes” at the same time on a Web server.

If you’re building a real-time system with no room for dropped data, such as a billing system for a mobile phone switch, then check out Erlang.

Go: Simple and dynamic

Google wasn’t the first organization to survey the collection of languages, only to find them cluttered, complex, and often slow. In 2009, the company released its solution: a statically typed language that looks like C but includes background intelligence to save programmers from having to specify types and juggle malloc calls. With Go, programmers can have the terseness and structure of compiled C, along with the ease of using a dynamic script language.

While Sun and Apple followed a similar path in creating Java and Swift, respectively, Google made one significantly different decision with Go: The language’s creators wanted to keep Go “simple enough to hold in one programmer’s head.Thus, there are few zippy extras like generics, type inheritance, or assertions, only clean, simple blocks of if-then-else code manipulating strings, arrays, and hash tables.

The language is reportedly well-established inside of Google’s vast empire and is gaining acceptance in other places where dynamic-language lovers of Python and Ruby can be coaxed into accepting some of the rigor that comes from a compiled language.

If you’re a startup trying to catch Google’s eye and need to build some server-side business logic, Go is a great place to start.

Groovy: Scripting goodness for Java

The Java world is surprisingly flexible. Say what you will about its belts-and-suspenders approach, like specifying the type for every variable, ending every line with a semicolon, and writing access methods for classes that simply return the value. But it looked at the dynamic languages gaining traction and built its own version that’s tightly integrated with Java.

Groovy offers programmers the ability to toss aside all the humdrum conventions of brackets and semicolons, to write simpler programs that can leverage all that existing Java code. Everything runs on the JVM. Not only that, everything links tightly to Java JARs, so you can enjoy your existing code. The Groovy code runs like a dynamically typed scripting language with full access to the data in statically typed Java objects. Groovy programmers think they have the best of both worlds. There’s all of the immense power of the Java code base with all of the fun of using closures, operator overloading, and polymorphic iteration.

Finally, all of the Java programmers who’ve envied the simplicity of dynamic languages can join the party without leaving the realm of Java.

CoffeeScript: JavaScript made clean and simple

Technically, CoffeeScript isn’t a language. It’s a preprocessor that converts what you write into JavaScript. But it looks different because it’s missing plenty of the punctuation. You might think it is Ruby or Python, though the guts behave like JavaScript.

CoffeeScript began when semicolon haters were forced to program in JavaScript because that was what Web browsers spoke. Changing the way the Web works would have been an overwhelming task, so they wrote their own preprocessor instead. The result? Programmers can write cleaner code and let CoffeeScript turn it back into the punctuation-heavy JavaScript Web browsers demand.

Missing semicolons are only the beginning. With CoffeeScript, you can define a function without typing function or wrapping it in curly brackets. In fact, curly brackets are pretty much nonexistent in CoffeeScript. The code is so much more concise that it looks like a modernist building compared to a Gothic cathedral. This is why many of the newest JavaScript frameworks are often written in CoffeeScript and compiled.

Haskell: Functional programming, pure and simple

For more than 20 years, the academics working on functional programming have been actively developing Haskell, a language designed to encapsulate their ideas about the evils of side effects. It is one of the purer expressions of the functional programming ideal, with a careful mechanism for handling I/O channels and other unavoidable side effects. The rest of the code, though, should be perfectly functional.

The community is very active, with more than a dozen variants of Haskell waiting for you to explore. Some are stand-alone, and others are integrated with more mainstream efforts like Java (Jaskell, Frege) or Python (Scotch). Most of the names seem to be references to Scotland, a hotbed of Haskell research, or philosopher/logicians who form the intellectual provenance for many of the ideas expressed in Haskell. If you believe that your data structures will be complex and full of many types, Haskell will help you keep them straight.

Julia: Bringing speed to Python land

The world of scientific programming is filled with Python lovers who enjoy the simple syntax and the freedom to avoid thinking of gnarly details like pointers and bytes. For all its strengths, however, Python is often maddeningly slow, which can be a problem if you’re crunching large data sets as is common in the world of scientific computing. To speed up matters, many scientists turn to writing the most important routines at the core in C, which is much faster. But that saddles them with software written in two languages and is thus much harder to revise, fix, or extend.

Julia is a solution to this complexity. Its creators took the clean syntax adored by Python programmers and tweaked it so that the code can be compiled in the background. That way, you can set up a notebook or an interactive session like with Python, but any code you create will be compiled immediately.

The guts of Julia are fascinating. They provide a powerful type inference engine that can help ensure faster code. If you enjoy metaprogramming, the language is flexible enough to be extended. The most valuable additions, however, may be Julia’s simple mechanisms for distributing parallel algorithms across a cluster. A number of serious libraries already tackle many of the most common numerical algorithms for data analysis.

The best news, though, may be the high speeds. Many basic benchmarks run 30 times faster than Python and often run a bit faster than C code. If you have too much data but enjoy Python’s syntax, Julia is the next language to learn.

Polina Mikhan

Polina Mikhan
Polina.Mikhan@altabel.com 
Skype ID: poly1020
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

 


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