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News briefs: Rackspace-Uniloc patent suit dismissed, cloud pricing wars

In these news briefs, a judge throws out a bogus Uniloc patent suit against Rackspace, IaaS providers show no sign of slackening cloud pricing wars.

Uniloc patent lawsuit against Rackspace dismissed

A rare move by a Texan district court won Rackspace and Red Hat early dismissal of a lawsuit accusing Rackspace of violating patent law for using a floating point numerical calculation by the Linux operating system in their servers, wrote Alan Schoenbaum, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary at Rackspace, in a recent blog post. Uniloc Corporation brought the claim, which was thrown out on the grounds that mathematics cannot be patented. Red Hat provided Rackspace's legal defense as part of its "policy of standing behind customers through its Open Source Assurance program," according to TechCrunch. The patent is one of more than 50 in Uniloc's portfolio, which have fueled dozens of lawsuits in the past year. That's put Uniloc on many companies' radar as a patent troll, but as Schoenbaum told Ars Technica, "The early dismissal of this case delivers a clear message that patent assertion entities can't expect quick settlements on weak claims."

Google announces new Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge

In a move to protect cloud and big data developers from future lawsuits, Google announced a pledge that will allow developers of open source software to use the technology in 10 patents related to its MapReduce technology. Slated to expand to additional patents in the future, the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge marks a commitment on Google's part to open the development environment for cloud innovation, though the promise is not perfect. As GigaOM reported, the pledge is not technically enforceable from a legal standpoint, and won't manage to deter patent trolls from suing productive companies. Developers, distributors and users still stand to gain a lot from the OPN Pledge, particularly considering the evolving sentiments around patent law the measure reflects.

IaaS cloud pricing war heats up among top providers

The past year has comprised a race to the bottom for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers' pricing, as a recent analysis from cloud management vendor RightScale showed. Having slashed costs on core cloud services and add-ons 19 times in the past 14 months, Amazon Web Services accounts for the bulk of the 29 total price cuts top providers introduced in that time frame. Rackspace, Windows Azure and Google Compute Engine also made big cuts in storage and database fees, presumably spurred by the mounting competition in the field. As Rishidot Research analyst Krishnan Subramanian told, cloud costs are likely to keep slipping, if not disappearing for some usage tiers: "The pricing war is going to continue all the way to the bottom," he said.

Rackspace targets Web developers with Exceptional acquisition

Following its acquisition last month of startup ObjectRocket for its MongoDB-based Database as a Service offering, Rackspace has made some recent moves to edge further into the NoSQL market. Rackspace announced it acquired rights to software from Exceptional Cloud Services, whose assets include error tracking and Redis as a Service capabilities, absorbing the San Francisco startup and its assets for an undisclosed sum. The buy includes three sub-properties likely to appeal to Web developers, as TechTarget's Beth Pariseau noted. In the climate of heated competition among cloud service providers, Rackspace's moves to circle in on developers signal a warning to leading provider Amazon.

Providers expanding services to UC, collaboration

Cloud-based unified communications (UC) and Collaboration as a Service have become rooted in many small- and medium-sized businesses' strategies, and as TechTarget's Gina Narcisi reported, larger enterprises are also taking note of the offerings. Avaya's recently announced Collaborative Cloud lets enterprises furnish UC and collaboration services from their own data centers. Verizon is one of the companies already on board with the Avaya service, supporting federal government customers with voice, collaboration and video offerings. In a sign that the UC as a Service market is continuing on an upward trajectory, European companies have already vested keen interest in UC offerings; 80% of Scandinavian companies currently use UC and Collaboration as a Service. Providers like the Danish Cirque have taken advantage of Avaya's Collaborative Cloud to give users increased flexibility and mobility.

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