Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 4th 2013 Contents BG30 | INTERNATIONAL
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JULY 2013 • WEEK ONE
For years they loathed one another, rarely missing an opportunity
to pick a fight. Their battles, full of sarcasm and sniping, occa-
sionally hit the headlines.
Then they started meeting discreetly every now and again,
and ultimately realised how badly they needed each other. Now,
to the surprise of many, they have told the world about how
they were really made to be together after all.
This is the backdrop to events that have caused a stir this
week in the world of corporate computing. On June 24 Oracle
and Microsoft announced plans to work closely together in the
"cloud," the business of delivering software and services via the
The following day Oracle unveiled another partnership, this
time with Salesforce.com, a pioneer of cloud-based services
such as hosting businesses marketing and customer-relations
The day after that Oracle announced yet another alliance,
with Netsuite, another provider of cloud-based business software.
Oracle also unveiled a new, cloud-compatible version of its data-
The partnership between Microsoft and Oracle is especially
striking because the two firms, and their high-profile co-founders,
Oracle s Larry Ellison and Microsoft s Bill Gates, have a long
history of feuding. Tension between them escalated in the 1990s
when Oracle tried to promote an alternative to personal computers
to limit the influence of Microsoft s Windows operating system
and Microsoft began competing with Oracle s core database
business. Relations have thawed somewhat since then, but the
companies still compete ferociously in many areas.
The two old foes have come together because they have both
been caught off guard by the speed at which business customers
have shunned their costly packaged software and maintenance
contracts in favor of cloud-delivered services. Microsoft and
Oracle both have their own Web-based offerings, but they face
stiff competition from the likes of IBM, which recently bought
Softlayer Technologies, a cloud firm, and Amazon, which has
built a dominant position in cloud infrastructure.
"Amazon could ultimately steamroller everybody," says David
Linthicum of Cloud Technology Partners, a consultancy.
To avoid being left behind in the drift to the cloud, Microsoft
and Oracle want to show that their services work well together
to win customers who fear being locked into a single firm s prod-
The two firms have cooperated quietly for some years to ensure
that Oracle s database software runs smoothly on servers using
Microsoft operating software. This week s announcement signals
a deeper commitment, however. In particular, Oracle will ensure
that various bits of its software run well on Azure, Microsoft s
cloud platform. In return Microsoft will promote Oracle s database
software and other products to Azure customers.
The partnership comes at a critical time for both firms. Oracle s
revenue was flat year on year in its most recent quarter. Some
analysts blame its slow reaction to the rise of cloud computing,
which Ellison initially scorned before undergoing a Damascene
conversion a few years ago. As for Microsoft, it is said to be
preparing a massive internal shake-up to sharpen its focus on
things such as cloud services and smart devices.
The alliance between Oracle and Salesforce also caused jaws
to drop. Ellison and Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce,
have reveled in firing potshots at each other s businesses. Ellison
once called a Salesforce product "itty-bitty," and Benioff sniffed
at purveyors of "false clouds," in a swipe at an Oracle product.
Now the two tech titans want to convince the world that their
firms are a perfect match. In the future Oracle will provide the
technology on which Salesforce s platform and applications will
run, and Oracle will integrate Salesforce s cloud-based applications
with its own ones for finance and human-resources management.
Salesforce will return the favor by promoting Oracle s products
in these areas.
This arrangement guarantees Oracle a big customer in Sales-
force, while Salesforce gets to tap Oracle customers for business.
All this will only accelerate businesses move to the cloud.
@2013 Economist Newspaper Ltd. (Distributed by the New York
This is an unusually busy moment in the
unhappy history of efforts to curb climate
change. In two weeks at the end of June, the
world s three biggest polluters unveiled car-
bon-reducing measures. In America and China
these are more ambitious than previous poli-
cies, but they fall far short of what is needed
to rein in the relentless rise in global carbon
The centerpiece of the changes was the June
25 announcement of new controls on American
greenhouse-gas emissions, which President
Barack Obama called "one of the most impor-
tant decisions we make as a nation." A week
before that China, the largest greenhouse-gas
producer, unveiled its most far-reaching
attempt so far to control toxic air pollution.
It also started a pilot carbon-trading scheme
in the southern city of Shenzhen, loosely based
on the troubled European scheme. Not to be
outdone, the European Union confirmed limits
on car emissions for 2020.
Let us give credit where it is due. After years
of fruitless wrangling to negotiate a global
treaty for all, the big polluters have decided
to go it alone. This is better than nothing.
The measures they propose are not those
needed most, however, and they may even
diminish further the chances of a treaty, since
now big polluters can claim that such a thing
Many of the American and Chinese moves
are of the command-and-control variety -- a
ceiling on emissions here, a regulation of pol-
luting activities there. In China there is a pub-
lic-health justification for this sort of approach:
Beijing suffered an "airpocalypse" in January,
with smog 40 times above safe levels, too high
at any price. America has no such justification.
Obama is using measures associated with
Soviet central planning out of desperation. He
cannot get climate laws through Congress, so
executive orders are his only weapons.
The trouble is, such measures are not very
accurate. Bans or quantitative limits restrict
emissions without considering the policy s
full costs. Some may provide net benefits,
such as controls on vehicle exhausts, but many
do not. Retrofitting carbon capture and storage,
for example, costs a fortune. America s plans
look worryingly like an energy-policy grab-
bag in which the president has been rum-
maging, rather than like an efficient carbon-
Environmental policies are no different from
any others: You want the biggest bang for
your buck. The way to get that is to use market
mechanisms to discover, say, the most efficient
way of cutting carbon. America does not have
such a mechanism at the federal level and is
struggling to set one up.
Europe can claim to be ahead here. Since
2005 it has had a cap-and-trade scheme which
sets a limit on emissions and allows companies
to trade pollution permits up to that level,
thus putting a price on carbon. The scheme
is complex, however, and has been undermined
by vast exemptions, flaws which also apply
to China s new scheme. The European Par-
liament will vote on an emergency fix on July
2. Even if a compromise is passed, though, it
will merely stave off collapse for a year or so.
Winston Churchill famously said that Amer-
ica would always do the right thing ... after
exhausting the alternatives. For all the big
countries, the right thing in climate policy is
a carbon tax, which is simpler and less vul-
nerable to fluctuations in emissions than cap-
and-trade schemes. For years such a tax has
been a nonstarter politically, but, as the alter-
natives are tested to destruction, it deserves
to be looked at again.
Current environmental policies will not keep
the rise in global temperatures to below 2
degrees Celsius, the maximum that most cli-
mate scientists think safe. A carbon tax, if
stiff enough, could do the job.
Big polluters should assume that one day
such a tax will arrive, and start planning for
@2013 Economist Newspaper Ltd. (Distributed
by the New York Times Syndicate.)
Customers across Europe are getting broadband
speeds 25 per cent slower on average than that adver-
tised by their service providers, a European Com-
mission report says.
The study suggests the average speed in Europe
Service providers routinely advertise speeds "up
to" a certain amount, which most consumers will
The EU wants to get all households on speeds of
at least 30Mbps by the end of 2013 and half on
100Mbps by 2020.
The study analysed broadband speeds from nearly
10,000 households around Europe. It ran 75 million
tests, generating three billion pieces of data.
Cable broadband services came the closest to adver-
tised speeds, at 91.4 per cent, while fibre users got
84.4 per cent of advertised speeds.
Beefed-up ADSL services fared the worse - getting
just 63.3 per cent of advertised speeds.
This is because they are run on copper phone lines
that offer slower speeds the further people live from
The UK government has announced it wants to
get fast broadband to 95 per cent of the population
by 2017 and will use wireless and 4G to extend this
to 99 per cent by 2018.
"Fast broadband is no longer a luxury and is now
just as essential as a reliable electricity supply for
UK consumers," said Dominic Baliszewski, from Web
"We shall see exactly how realistic these targets
are. With Ofcom putting current super-fast availability
at 65 per cent of the population, there is still a long
way to go." (BBC)
The tepid, timid road to
confronting climate change
The corporate cloud European Internet
'running 25% slower
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