JEDI: A Down to Earth Battle Between Digital Super Powers

April 20, 2019

This may be good news for China and Russia. Nextgov predicts, “Without JEDI, Pentagon’s Artificial Intelligence Efforts May Be Hindered.” The Pentagon requires an enterprise cloud computing solution for its ambitious AI plans—once it gets past one little snag, that is. They had a plan, called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, but it is now on hold pending litigation. Reporter Frank Konkel writes:

“Through the JEDI contract, the Pentagon aims to put a commercial company in charge of hosting and distributing mission-critical workloads and classified data to warfighters around the globe in a single cloud computing environment. That environment would also process large swaths of military and defense data and serve as the computing and analytics workhorse for artificial intelligence applications.

Motley Fool reports in “An Unexpected Scandal Threatens To Cripple Amazon”:

the Department of Defense (DoD) cleared itself of wrongdoing following an internal investigation into the forthcoming award of the $10 billion cloud computing Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative (JEDI) program. Yet the Pentagon’s self-exoneration was not comprehensive, as Bloomberg noted that: “The investigation uncovered evidence of unethical conduct that will be referred to the DoD inspector general for a separate review.”

Nations like China will not oblige us by putting their AI plans on hold while we catch up. The DoD could try using a hardware stack instead, but that would severely constrict their plans, according to Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, head of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

Is DarkCyber surprised? A better question, “What was the business ethos of DH Shaw when Mr. Bezos honed his financial and business skills at that Wall Street firm?”

DarkCyber does not know.

Cynthia Murrell, April 20, 2019

Amazonia for April 15, 2019

April 15, 2019

An interesting week in Amazon’s ebookstore. Jeff Bezos’ annual shareholder letter contains many nuggets. The one DarkCyber found thought provoking was also noted by ZDNet. “In Amazon Shareholder Letter, Bezos Says AWS Targeting Specialized Databases for Specialized Workloads”, I noted this passage:

AWS itself – as a whole – is an example. No one asked for AWS. No one. Turns out the world was in fact ready and hungry for an offering like AWS but didn’t know it. We had a hunch, followed our curiosity, took the necessary financial risks, and began building – reworking, experimenting, and iterating countless times as we proceeded.

ZDNet’s story adds:

From there, Bezos drops a few lines that make AWS a bit of an obsession for Oracle, a database giant. Bezos said the AWS army of databases has been informed by enterprise customers “constrained by their commercial database options and had been unhappy with their database providers for decades.

The idea is that outfits like Oracle Database, IBM DB2,  and to some degree Microsoft with its SQLServer construct have offered an engine. Happy licensees and database administrators would dutifully write scripts and use vendor-certified tools.

The future, as DarkCyber understands it, is many different databases, each with different capabilities. Once these are in the AWS environment, AWS developers and their customers can pick a tool and get on with real work.

Want SQL? Amazon has Aurora. Want to make Elasticsearch grunt through log files? AWS can do that with its own stretchy search engine and log file tools. Want to do Googley-things? AWS offers DynamoDB.

Other points:

  • Third party resellers are making money even though Amazon could fall behind in the revenue and profit department
  • Amazon wants, needs, has to fail
  • Pesky customers don’t know what they want
  • Amazon is not big in retail
  • Amazon has raised its minimum wage so the competition can follow the leader.

Chug, chug, chug goes the Bezos bulldozer. Like some big machines, sometimes ants, jaguars, and the odd competitor gets crushed.

JEDI Squash Game: Final Match

Amazon and Microsoft are the finalists in the squash game for the JEDI contract. Microsoft got some love with its virtual reality award. Plus many DoD professionals cannot live without PowerPoint. Amazon has some government work too. GeekWire reports:

it will be interesting to see how public the companies are willing to be in pursuit of the deal.

Yes, it will be interesting. For the government, for the companies, and for the lawyers representing the outfit which loses the contract.

AWS Deep Learning Containers

Containers make it easy to put related stuff in one place. The holiday ornaments go in Box A, and the old kitchen items go in box 2. Amazon’s deep learning containers are smarter. InfoQ reveals:

AWS DL [Docker] Containers were created by Amazon to remove the “undifferentiated heavy lifting” for customers who regularly use Amazon EKS and ECS to deploy their TensorFlow workloads to the cloud. Amazon has also optimized the images for use on AWS to reduce training time and increase inferencing performance.

You can read the Amazon write up at this link. The main idea is that setting up and doing smart software is getting easier, better, faster, cheaper (allegedly). Just fill in the blanks:

image

Want more? Search Amazon for cloud. Helpful tip.

Building Bridges to Oman

Amazon visited Oman.The subject of the visit was sales and probably some chatter about other Amazon services. Was policeware on the agenda? DarkCyber does not know. According to Zawya, the reason for the meeting was:

to explore the investment opportunities in the field of information and communication technology and eCommerce as well as identifying the promising markets in the Sultanate.

Ecommerce was a focal point. Policeware? Not mentioned in the source report.

First, It Was Hollywood. Now It Is Big Oil

The Brownsville Herald reported:

Amazon is getting cozy with the oil industry — and some employees aren’t happy about it…

The company is now courting oil producers to Amazon Web Services, which offers cloud computing services to government agencies and major companies, such as video-streaming service Netflix and digital scrapbooking site Pinterest. AWS is one of Amazon’s biggest money makers, accounting for more than 70% of Amazon’s total profit last year.

What’s the angle? Amazon sells its data analytics and other services to Shell and BP. Amazon wants more big oil customers. Is an employee protest percolating?

More Robotics

Business Insider, an outfit seemingly desperate for email addresses and money, reported that Amazon acquired Canvas Technology. The Colorado robot shop makes a robot cart. The cart “carts”. Robots do not require bathroom breaks, meals, or psychological counseling yet.

Amazon Employees Want Climate Change Policies

Herald and News reported that Amazon is into wind energy. But Amazon employees want more climate action from Amazon. This is not save Amazon the company. This is save Amazon the jungle. The newspaper said:

In an unprecedented public push to change Amazon policies, nearly 4,500 employees have put their names to a letter asking CEO Jeff Bezos and the commerce giant’s board of directors to become global leaders in fighting climate change.

Now about the big boxes to send little products? No information, but Amazon has signed three wind farm deals. Those megawatts come online by 2021, In the meantime, chug chug chug does the bulldozer which runs on diesel fuel.

Partner and Developer Quick Clicks

Some items which provide some information about the growing reach of Amazon is the community of vendors of which most people have never heard:

  • Napatech. A line of FPGA (floating point gate array) hardware for Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud. The “solution” provides network encryption and description. Source: PR Newswire
  • Prancer. A new cloud validation framework. This is a connector to make it possible to check up on Amazon AWS if you are a client of the bulldozer. Source: Yahoo Finance
  • ZephyrTel. A strategic collaboration with Amazon AWS. Source: Business Wire on Yahoo
Amazon Cash Pivot

The no people, no cash approach may not be working. Pesky humans and their resistance to change. Yahoo reported that Amazon’s automated stores may start accepting cash. Soon. Source: Yahoo

Amazon: Now a VC Broker

CNBC reported in “AWS Bets on Services Portfolio Amidst Increasing APAC Cloud Competition”:

Amazon is testing a new way to bolster its relationship with start-ups and possibly bring in more capital to the ecosystem. The fledgling effort, known as the Amazon Web Services Pro-Rata Program, is designed to link private investors with companies that use AWS, as well as venture funds whose portfolios are filled with potential cloud customers. Amazon is not investing money through the program.

Didn’t Mr. Bezos work on Wall Street? He probably is no longer influenced by that work. What do you think?

One More Thing…

Apple Insider reports that Bezos bulldozer operators listen to Echo audio. For the allegedly true real news story navigate to “Thousands of Amazon Workers Are Listening In On Echo Audio, Report Says.” We believe reports.

Stephen E Arnold, April 15, 2019

Amazon Moved a Knight. Google Pushes a Pawn

April 10, 2019

If you care about search and retrieval, you may be interested in the chess game underway between Amazon and Google. Amazon seized the initiative by embracing the open source Elasticsearch. Google, an outfit whose failures in search are known to anyone who licensed a Google Search Appliance, has responded. The pawn Google nudged forward is Elastic, the outfit which has been a big dog in search and retrieval for several years.

According to “Elastic and Google Cloud Expand Elasticsearch Service Partnership”:

Elastic (NYSE: ESTC) and Google Cloud (GCP) announced the expansion of their managed Elasticsearch Service partnership to make it faster and easier for users to deploy Elasticsearch within their Google Cloud Platform (GCP) accounts. Building upon the partnership to deliver Elastic’s Elasticsearch Service on GCP, the companies announced a fully managed, cloud-native integration for discovery, billing, and support for Elasticsearch Service within the GCP Console.

We also circled this statement, which is quite fascinating when interpreted in the context of Amazon’s open source tactic:

Elastic’s Elasticsearch Service on GCP gives users a turnkey experience to deploy powerful Elastic Stack features of Elasticsearch and Kibana, including proprietary free and paid features such as security, alerting, machine learning, Kibana spaces, Canvas, Elasticsearch SQL, and cross-cluster search. In addition, users can deploy new curated solutions for logging, infrastructure monitoring, mapping and geospatial analysis, and APM; optimize compute, memory, and storage workloads using Elastic’s customizable deployment templates such as hot-warm architecture for the logging use case; and upgrade to the latest version of Elasticsearch and Kibana as soon as it is released with a single click.

The chess timer is Amazon’s. Will the company make a lucid move?

Stephen E Arnold, April 10, 2019

Amazonia for April 8, 2019

April 8, 2019

The Bezos bulldozer was grinding along last week. The big celebrity news was the creation of a new world billionaire once married to the online bookstore’s founder. There were some less interesting developments the DarkCyber research team spotted. Here’s a selection of semi-interesting items.

Eero: A Deal?

If the information in “Amazon Bought Eero for $97 Million and Employees Still Got Screwed” is accurate, the easy networking outfit made some of its employees unhappy. Here’s the passage we noted:

According to confidential documents viewed by Mashable, Amazon acquired Eero for $97 million. Eero executives brought home multi-million dollar bonuses and eight-figure salary increases. Everyone else, however, didn’t fare quite so well. Investors took major hits, and the Amazon acquisition rendered Eero stock worthless: $0.03 per share, down from a common stock high of $3.54 in July 2017. It typically would have cost around $3 for employees to exercise their stock, meaning they would actually lose money if they tried to cash out.

Didn’t venture capitalists pump more money into the company? Maybe employees and investors got a lesson in how to be a billionaire?

Amazon in Space

Google does Loon balloons. Facebook likes gliders. Amazon wants to put 3,000 satellites in space to deliver Internet connectivity to those who want to buy a Kindle ebook. We learned:

The effort, code-named Project Kuiper, follows up on last September’s mysterious reports that Amazon was planning a “big, audacious space project” involving satellites and space-based systems. The Seattle-based company is likely to spend billions of dollars on the project, and could conceivably reap billions of dollars in revenue once the satellites go into commercial service.

DarkCyber wants to know, “Will Amazon use the Bezos space rocket to put these devices into orbit?” Source: Geekwire. As a prank a clever person created a mock up of an Amazon blimp or Loon balloon deploying drones.

Rekognition Facial Recognition May Face a “Rekoning”

DarkCyber does not know much about shareholder meetings. Apparently the subject of Amazon’s licensing of its facial recognition technology to law enforcement and government agencies is an issue for some. We learned that shareholders will have an opportunity to vote on where Amazon can sell its FAR systems. Who decided? Mr. Bezos? Nope, the Securities & Exchange Commission. Google has sparked some fierce discussion with its refusal to work on a government project. What will happen if Amazon disables its FAR systems? DarkCyber believes that some entities will be unhappy. Source: Verge

Hello, Air Pods the Amazon Basics Way

Poor Apple. It cannot make butterfly keyboards. The Cupertino giant cannot craft a wireless charging mat. The spirit of Jobs seems to have departed with version two of its wireless ear phones. Never fear. Amazon is going to release its own version, which will interact with Amazon’s services. DarkCyber is more interested in possible LE and intel applications of this particular chunk of Amazon’s technology. Source: Bloomberg

Amazon and Health Care

Google and Microsoft have bailed out of their health care initiatives. Not Amazon. DarkCyber learned that Alexa will be gussied up with medical expertise. Interested in what Amazon allegedly will do? DarkCyber is too. Information about certain medical conditions could be useful in some investigations. Source: Venture Beat

Amazon and Fairness Research

DarkCyber did not spot too many tweets about Amazon’s sponsoring research about fairness. A newspaper reported:

Amazon has partnered with the taxpayer-funded National Science Foundation on a three-year, $20 million program to fund basic research into fairness in artificial intelligence systems, which are under increasing scrutiny as they spread in society and sometimes amplify existing biases.

“Fair” is a word like “quality.” Tough to define. So far the company has not abandoned the project. Google jettisoned its public ethics group. But Amazon may be paid for this effort to tackle a very fuzzy concept. DarkCyber asks, “What’s “fair” when it comes to lavatory breaks in an Amazon warehouse? Source: Seattle Times

Amazon Reduces Some Prices at Whole Foods

We don’t have a Whole Paycheck (sorry, I meant Whole Foods) here in Harrod’s Creek. We do have a saloon, a bar, a restaurant and bar, a filling station with a wood stove and old times. No Whole Feeds. The new reported in “Amazon Slashes Prices on Hundreds of Whole Foods Items” was greeted with silence. The local Kroger manager asked one of the DarkCyber research team, “What’s a Whole Foods?”

Good Bye, Oracle

Amazon once was a good Oracle customer. Oracle license fees. Oracle add ons. Oracle data base administrators. Oracle World speaking opportunities. If an Amazonia were lucky, a nifty Oracle hat. No more. Amazon uses its “own” database technology now, thank you, very much Larry Ellison. According to one British computer publication, Amazon’s database team held a “thank heavens, it is outta here” party. Don’t let the PL/SQL documentation fall on your head. Source: Computing

Hi, Microsofties. We’re Neighbors

Some Amazon employees will be relocating their offices to Bellevue, Washington. We learned from Geekwire:

Amazon plans to relocate its entire Seattle-based worldwide operations team to Bellevue, Wash., by 2023, adding thousands of employees to its new campus just across Lake Washington, according to an internal email obtained by GeekWire.

Yeah, about that security for corporate email? If true, Seattle’s city fathers may want to ask themselves, “What did we do wrong?” On the other hand, Microsoft may have its own questions. One big winner will be the Bellevue real estate specialists. Let’s not overlook this Amazon initiative: “Amazon Web Services Sharpens Its Focus on Cloud Security.” Internal email included or not?

An Amazon Alexa Robot May Be Developed

DarkCyber noted that a walking Alexa may be developed by Amazon’s engineers. We noted this passage in “Alexa’s Chief Scientist Wants to Give the Voice Assistant a Robot Body”:

Speaking at The EmTech Digital A.I .Conference held by MIT Technology Review in San Francisco, Prasad raised the idea of letting Alexa learn about the world by experiencing it like a human might. “The only way to make [a]smart assistant really smart is to give it eyes and let it explore the world,” he said. That would include giving Alexa a physical form. While the idea might seem a little out there, we’re already closer to the possibility than one might imagine. In some cases, Alexa already has access to “eyes” of sorts, as some devices with Alexa installed include cameras that the A.I. can access. A body would be a considerable jump in progression, of course, but it is a possibility. That said, Prasad didn’t confirm whether Amazon is already working on building a body for its voice assistant.

Source: Digital Trends

Jim Henson Shows on Amazon, Just Not in the US

We learned in “Jim Henson Shows Come to Amazon Prime Video, but Not in the US” that licensing spoils the fun:

Amazon has added a lot more Jim Henson Company programs to Prime Video after rolling out all four season of sci-fi series Farscape for the platform. Starting today, you’ll be able to access 2,500 hours of child-friendly shows with Muppets and other Henson puppets if you have a Prime or a standalone Prime Video subscription. That is, depending on where you’re located — unfortunately, most of those programs won’t be available in the US due to licensing issues.

Source: Engadget

Audio Watermarking

Was that secret recording subsequently modified? Amazon may have technology which could answer this question. An Amazon ebook lover wrote a journal article with the alluring title “Audio Watermarking over the Air with Modulated Self Correlation.” You can find a copy of the free article at this link.

Amazon Gets More Twitchy

AWS Introduces API Specification for Securing On-Demand and Live Video” reveals that its the Secure Packager and Encoder Exchange (SPEKE) for video are available. DarkCyber noted:

The SPEKE specification aims to eliminate this one-off, customization requirement and replace the old with a standardized method. SPEKE-enabled servers and encryptors should greatly improve time to market for services regardless of consumption method (on-premises, cloud, hybrid, etc.). SPEKE is built on the DASH Industry Forum’s Content Protection Information Exchange Format (CPIX) standard. The API specification supports HLS, MSS and DASH packaging. Many DRM platforms (e.g. Apple FairPlay Streaming, Microsoft PlayRead, Google Widevine, AES-128 and more) are already supported.

Could the best of YouTube find its way to an Amazon Twitch-like service. Some disenchanted Vimeo customers might find this information interesting as well.

Amazon May Gun for Roku

Medium (an outfit which wants email addresses in exchange for articles) published “Amazon Asks Advertisers to Pledge Millions for Roku Rival.” Makes sense. Amazon wants to gobble revenue, and advertising seems to be an obvious money spout. Read the write up in Medium. Nothing like trading a story told in a headline for an email.

Amazon Complexity

Skimfeed published an interesting statement. Here it is:

@jeffbigham: The 2nd day of the month is my favorite day because it’s when I get a $9.95 bill from AWS for something I can’t figure out how to shut down.

If you want a free run down of “everything” Amazon, you may find “Amazon AWS: Complete Business Guide to the World’s Largest Provider of Cloud Services” helpful. Or not. The write up is short, incomplete, and generally without the information @jeffbigham requires.

Amazon Goes to Bogota

Bogota has an excellent climate. It will also have an Amazon infrastructure facility. According to “Amazon Web Services to Open Infrastructure Location in Colombia”:

Amazon Web Services (AWS), a unit of Amazon.com Inc, said … it will open a Latin America infrastructure location in Colombia and help train 2,000 students in cloud technology. The company will team up with Colombia’s public technical education institute to train students in cloud computing, Jeffrey Kratz, AWS’ general public sector manager for Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada, said in a government statement.

Fleets of EC2 Instances. Fleets!

If you are a government agency and have a great deal of data to crunch, EC2 fleets may be of interest. The idea is that one can automate the creation of multiple instances. The method is to fill in a form. We learned:

hen you create a fleet, the virtual machine (VM) instances within the fleet will be based on a launch template. Launch templates are used to create VM instances in a standardized way. A launch template might, for instance, define the network interfaces, storage volumes and tags that are to be used by EC2 instances created from the template.

More information is available in Virtualization Review’s explanation “Use Amazon EC2 Fleets to Create Collections of EC2 Instances”, which is handier than Amazon’s documentation.

More Partners and Integrators

We jotted down the names of partners and integrators of things AWS not appearing in our files; to wit:

Stephen E Arnold, April 8, 2019

Amazonia for April 1, 2019

April 1, 2019

These are not April Fool items. Each appeared before publication in the sources identified below. If some of the items seem wonky, not my doing.

Was Bezos a Victim of Policeware?

Is this true or false? We don’t know. The Daily Beast reported on March 30, 2019, that an Amazon investigation suggested that Jeff Bezos was a victim of policeware spying. The story “Bezos Investigation Finds the Saudis Obtained His Private Data” contains the allegedly accurate details. Thinking about the political and legal implications of the information in the allegedly accurate article is outside the scope of this humble run down of news items about everyone’s favorite online bookstore. Perhaps others can answer such questions as when, who, why and how?

Amazon and Its Economists

Economists and I assume behavioral psychologists are surprised at the attention each professional group receives from the tech savvy crowd. According to “Amazon Gets an Edge with its Secret Squad of PhD Economists”:

Amazon is now a large draw from the relatively small talent pool of PhD economists, which in the United States grows by about only 1,000 new graduates every year. Although the definition of “economist” is fuzzy, the discipline is generally understood as the study of how people use resources and respond to incentives.

Amazon allegedly has on its team more than 150 economists. If the economists are students of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” staff meetings may be more thrilling than a mid term lecture in Economics 101.

Will one of these professionals become a Hal Varian-scale thinker?

Apple Leaves Amazon an Opening, Free and Clear

The Verge reported that Amazon is “working on a free Fire TV news app.” Free may be more appealing that  $120 a year for 300 magazines. Some in the weird scrollable PDF like format and others in Apple’s own proprietary format. The Verge sees the inspiration as Roku. Amazon may know that print centric services are not selling like hot cakes on the Amazon online store; thus, the focus is on where the eyeballs are—video. But there’s more free stuff from Amazon. If you are a Prime member, you get Switch online. Free is a compelling value proposition, or it is if you are into Nintendo games.

Africa and Amazon’s Banking Play

In my lectures about Amazon’s policeware, I described the financial information flowing through the firm’s infrastructure. It is interesting that Amazon is becoming more overt in its efforts to become a global financial systems. The company has cut a deal to become what Forbes called “Africa’s first bank in the cloud.” Amazon’s partner is Standard Bank. Note that Microsoft has been chugging away in Africa as well. Google, the Chinese, and assorted colonial nations are making moves as well. The financial services angle is an important one because Amazon has kept its financial moves under wraps for some time. Are regulators on top of this?

Amazon and Cost Management

Amazon received some coverage in the Seattle Times in the story “Amazon Finds an Alternative Workforce through Northwest Center, a Seattle Nonprofit Helping People with Disabilities.” The story explains Amazon’s employment of people with disabilities. I noted this statement:

In 2015, 22 people with disabilities were hired for part-time jobs in Amazon’s Kent sortation center as part of the pilot program. Their performance was tracked against the general employee population on retention, safety, productivity, quality and attendance.

The information in the article seemed dated and did not provide much data about pay and current number of individuals with disability engaged at Amazon.

Does Amazon Have a Lock on the CIA Cloud Business?

The answer may be, “Nope.” According to Bloomberg, a real news service which sometimes does not have sources for its information:

The CIA is preparing to significantly increase its reliance on cloud-computing services, with plans to solicit tens of billions of dollars of work divided among multiple tech companies.

Source: Bloomberg

Amazon and Columbia

South America is on the economic and political radar for 2020. Amazon has announced that it will open an infrastructure operation in Columbia. The region is unsettled in some ways, but Amazon obviously believes the risk is minimal. More information is available from Reuters. Reuters links do go dead, so you may be on your own if this source does not resolve. Complain to Thomson Reuters, not to me, please.

Caipirinha, Anyone?

It’s official. ZDNet reports that Alexa is alive in Brazil. DarkCyber thinks that Brazil’s new president may be interested in Amazon’s policeware too.

The Great Vendor Purge: Walking the Cat Back

Digiday reported that Amazon’s vendor purge is underway in reverse. According to Digiday’s online information service:

Amazon has walked back the decision to terminate a majority of the vendor purchase orders it stopped fulfilling last Monday, but the action has served as a bit of a wake-up call to sellers who are now planning how to protect their businesses by relying less on the e-commerce retailer.

Confusion at the controls of the Bezos bulldozer?

Proprietary Alexa Skills

There’s no mention of Amazon data capture or voice analysis in “Create an Alexa Skill for Your Organization with Alexa for Business Blueprints.” Be aware that this link may not resolve. You may be able to find the post at https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa and scrolling through items. The blog post states:

 Private skills are voice-powered capabilities that enhance the Alexa experience while remaining private to members of an Alexa for Business organization. Skill Blueprints are so easy to use, people have used them extensively to create Alexa skills for their households. Now anyone at the office can do the same for their workplace, simply by filling in custom requests and responses in one of dozens of easy-to-use Blueprints. IT administrators can then review and enable that content for the company’s users and managed Alexa-enabled devices.

Interesting? DarkCyber wonders if the data from these private skills will flow into Amazon’s policeware system?

Why Is AWS So Appealing to Some Developer Palates?

The #AWS EC2 Windows Secret Sauce” is a reminder that Amazon is the new Microsoft, which may come as a bit of news to Google. The online ad giant wants to be Microsoft. If you want a run down of some of the issues one may encounter with Windows in the cloud, Tehnodrone spells how Amazon handles Windows provisioning. Hint: Lots of engineering and more automated functions.

More AWS Computing Horsepower

Nvidia’s T4 GPUs Are Coming to the AWS Cloud” reports:

The T4, which is based on Nvidia’s Turing architecture, was specifically optimized for running AI models. The T4 will be supported by the EC2 compute service and the Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes.

Your play Google.

Redshift Scales

Who knows what Redshift does? If you are on the Redshift clue train, you will be delighted to learn that Amazon’s data warehouse offer concurrency and is allegedly better and faster than alternatives. More rah rah is available in “AWS Announces General Availability of Concurrency Scaling for Amazon Redshift.”

S3 Glacier: Cheap Archiving

Amazon rolled out discounted storage. This is called Glacier, presumably because near line retrieval move slowly. More information is available in “AWS Announces General Availability of Amazon S3 Glacier Deep Archive—the Lowest Cost Storage in the Cloud.”

Amazon Aurora: Another Complexity Block to Master

If AWS is the next Windows, these components are the equivalent of the chunks of capability stuffed in a DLL. The write up in Acolyer’s blog states:

Managing quorum failures is complex. Traditional mechanisms cause I/O stalls while membership is being changed….Aurora is designed for a world with a constant background level of failure.

The idea is to improve reliability. The key point is that the AWS system generates automatic adaptive actions. Some of these may cost money. Automated services which posts increments to fees, is it?

New Partnerships

Here are some of the new partnerships and integration vendors which appear to have Amazon AWS expertise.

  • Lightstream, a global leader in cloud technology solutions, network integration and managed-network services now supports Amazon Chime. Chime is a communications service that lets licensees meet, chat, and place business calls inside and outside an organization. Source: New Kerala
  • Sisense delivers its analytics via the Amazon Cloud. The service is called the “Elastic Data Hub.” Please, don’t confuse this with the Elastic company or the Elasticsearch open source system. Source: New Kerala
Know What NSA NIPA Means?

Somebody thinks those on LinkedIn do. Monkton.io (no, it is not a town in Maryland and it has nothing to do with monks) said via Harold Smith III on LinkedIn “NSA NIAP compliant mobile apps in weeks, not years.” Source: LinkedIn and search for “Harold Smith III”.

Stephen E Arnold, April 1, 2019

Amazonia for March 25, 2019

March 25, 2019

The Bezos bulldozer has encountered a landscape with tropical weathered granite. The diesel engine is under some stress.

Amazon Brands: Not Like Costco’s

Bloomberg reported that Amazon is not batting 1.000 with its house brands. “Most Amazon Brands Are Duds, Not Disrupters, Study Finds” asserts:

Turns out most Amazon-branded goods are flops that don’t threaten other businesses at all, according to Marketplace Pulse. In a study, the New York e-commerce research firm examined 23,000 products and found that shoppers aren’t more inclined to buy Amazon brands even when the company elevates them in search results.

Unlike the “your motherboard is compromised”, this write up has a source, Marketplace Pulse. Not much information about the methodology, but that’s par for the “real news” putting course.

Why the NYC Queens’ Disintegrated

I noted this write up in the Daily Mail, a remarkable source of information:

Mayor Bill De Blasio Implies That Jeff Bezos’ High-Profile Affair with News Anchor Lauren Sanchez Was the Reason Amazon Pulled Out of Its New York Headquarters Deal

The write up states:

De Blasio hinted that the Amazon CEO’s affair with news anchor Lauren Sanchez that erupted in the public eye ruined Amazon’s plans to create a sprawling headquarters. ‘I think we can all say that unusual things were happening within the Amazon family at that time. And that was said politely. There was clearly some unusual factors happening,’ de Blasio said with a smirk on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday.

I found the phrase “pulled out” and the use of the word “smirk” interesting. There was a source: another news organization’s interview.

Preparing for the Amazon Revolution

Biz Journals reported that Amazon is continuing its effort create Amazon savvy technologists. According to “Amazon Web Services Joins Capital CoLAB, an Effort to Prepare Young Workers for Tech Jobs”:

Capital CoLAB members help train students for STEM-related fields through programs and internships…The program strives to equip students with skills for areas such as data analytics, visualization and cybersecurity.

No mention appeared about getting the skills needed to work in an Amazon warehouse or driver an Amazon Sprinter delivery van. No tech skills needed I assume.

uDroppy Picks Up AWS Speed

A uDroppy executive explains how to use an AWS API call to eliminate the cost of a traditional file upload. The trick is to remember that Amazon’s S3 is a storage service, not a content delivery network. The write up explains:

The client sends the file via a PUT HTTP request to S3, and if all requirements are satisfied the file is correctly uploaded. The benefit of this approach is that our server has to handle just a simple API call where there’s no file data. The upload itself is processed by the client, leaving our server free and ready to process the next request very quickly. As you can imagine this method is very scalable, and at the same time not very expensive.

Trick or feature? The write up does not express an opinion.

Sisense: A Cyber Intel and Analytics Vendor Joins the Amazon Bandwagon

Amazon has a number of cyber intelligence and analytics companies as clients. According to “Sisense Accelerates Cloud Analytics with Amazon Web Services”:

the release of its new Elastic Data Hub, a unique offering in the BI space that allows organizations to easily connect and mashup live, real-time data with cached in-memory data on the same dashboard. This breakthrough offering leverages Sisense powerful, live data connector with Amazon Redshift from Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), a fast and powerful, fully managed, petabyte-scale data warehouse service in the cloud.

Is Amazon becoming the “roundhouse” for the cyber intelligence high speed trains?

Amazon: Squeezing Elastic

If you want a run down of Amazon’s squeezing of the Elastic open source Elasticsearch system, navigate to “With its Elasticsearch Distribution, Amazon Web Services Sends More Shockwaves Through Open-Source Software.” For many cyber intelligence companies, Elasticsearch is useful because it provides utility search and can accommodate add ins, add ons, proprietary modules, and the other enhancements. The article states:

Elastic CEO Shay Banon did not take kindly to AWS’s move, suggesting in his own blog post last week that AWS first approached Elastic wanting “preferential treatment” compared to other customers before Elastic said no and AWS released its version. “We have a commitment that we will treat a single developer contributing to our products the same as others,” he wrote.

More excitement to follow as Amazon implements its version of IBM’s approach to software lock in.

Pinterest Spend at AWS

GeekWire reported that Pinterest cut a deal with Amazon Web Services that requires it to spend $750 million by 2023.

AWS Embraces Nvidia Server Chips

Marketwatch reported that Nvidia’s latest server chips have now been adopted by AWS. Google and Alibaba also use the company’s silicon. Marketwatch stated:

The Santa Clara, Calif.,-based chip maker said its T4 Tensor Core graphics processing units, or GPUs, would be deployed to Amazon Web Services through Elastic Compute Cloud G4 in the coming weeks. While other public cloud services have been chipping away at market share over the past few years, Amazon’s AWS still ranks as a global market-share leader in public cloud services.

Stephen E Arnold, March 25, 2019

RedMonk and Its Assessment of IBM as an Open Source Leader

March 24, 2019

I read “The RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: January 2019.” The analysis was interesting and contained one remarkable assertion and one probably understandable omission. The guts of the report boiled down, in my opinion, to a reminder to job hunters. If you want to increase your chances of getting hired, know:

1 JavaScript
2 Java
3 Python
4 PHP
5 C#

But the surprising statement in the write up was this one:

IBM remains at the forefront of open source innovation.

Now the omission. If IBM is in the forefront, where is Amazon? The company has made an effort to support most of the widely used open source software. Plus, the company appears to be taking tactical steps to close or capture open source.

From my vantage point, Amazon is taking a more “innovative” approach to open source. Granted Amazon’s “approach” may be a milestone in the company’s enhanced walled garden approach to core software systems. IBM’s approach seems little more than Big Blue’s attempt to give back and convince the open source community that it is not the IBM of its mainframe heritage.

Stephen E Arnold, March 24, 2019

Amazon and Video Advertising

March 22, 2019

DarkCyber monitors Amazon for policeware, not advertising. But the article “Amazon to Launch Mobile Ads, in a Threat to Google and Facebook” adds a bit of color to the otherwise drab Bezos bulldozer. Google and Facebook sell ads, but each is facing pushback from governments and users. Both firms may be dulling the edge of their targeting scalpels in order to appease antagonistic factions.

What does Amazon do? If the information in the Bloomberg (we don’t need sources for some articles about fiddled hardware) write up is accurate, Amazon:

has hit on a new way to grab a chunk of the $129 billion digital advertising market now dominated by Google and Facebook Inc.: sell video spots on the e-commerce giant’s smartphone shopping app.

Yep, video ads. The ground zero for demographics with short attention spans and a desire to squint at tiny screens.

The write up asserts:

For years, Amazon refrained from selling advertising space on its site for fear of disrupting the shopping experience. Instead it used price, product descriptions and consumer reviews to determine which products were most prominent on the page. The site is increasingly a pay-to-play platform, with the top of the page dedicated to the highest bidder, a shift that has helped boost Amazon’s profits.

How will the search and social media giants respond?

If recent actions are any indication, not in an effective manner. The Bezos bulldozer chugs forward in a measured, now predictable manner.

Stephen E Arnold, March 22, 2019

Amazonia for March 18, 2019

March 18, 2019

The Bezos bulldozer has run into some soil filled with largish granite boulders. Check out these developments.

Amazon and Elasticsearch

Elasticsearch, the open source search system, is a popular way for many companies to make content searchable. With add ons, one can perform many useful functions. Elastic, the company founded by Shay Banon, provides for fee services to the search and retrieval technology. The Elasticsearch open source community does open sourcey things.

Amazon is open sourcey, although with a twist. The firm wants to provide a ready-to-go version of Elasticsearch as a widget callable from the numerous AWS services. How does Amazon achieve that goal? One solution is to move farther away from the Elastic version of Elasticsearch. Early signs of this special approach have been document by Code 972. Datanami published an interesting view of the AWS Elasticsearch activity in “War Unfolding for Control of Elasticsearch.”

That write up states:

AWS is seizing upon Elastic’s actions in creating this three-tiered system – not to mention the merger of X-Pack into Elastic Stack proper with the version 6.3 release of the Elastic Stack last summer – in justifying the creation of Open Distro for Elasticsearch.

Amazon does not want to fork Elastic or Elasticsearch.

Datanami states:

Banon accused AWS copying code and co-opting the Elasticsearch product for its own use.

Will legal eagle fly? Will Elastic’s investors and customers complain? Will Amazon alter its course?

No answers at the moment.

DarkCyber hypothesizes that if Amazon comes calling, one should listen. If Amazon asks for something, one should find a way to cooperate. A failure to orbit Amazon can have consequences, fork or not. See the culture item below.

Amazon’s Culture

Amazon is, from DarkCyber’s point of view, a big, friendly Teddy bear of a company. Some insights into the culture of the company are revealed in “AWS CEO Andy Jassy Drills Down On Cloud Adoption And Amazon’s Culture.” Here are a couple of highlights:

  • No PowerPoints allowed
  • Move quickly (for example, pull out of New York, we assume)
  • Speed build
  • Employees build their destiny using AWS.

Sound exciting. You can apply at this link.

Virginia: Pushback and Maybe Incentive Pullback?

The Big Apple was sour. Now “Amazon’s second headquarters Faces New Blocks in Virginia Funding Vote.” Pity Crystal City stakeholders. Feel some remorse for the condo speculators. According to the real news outfit Reuters:

local [Virginia] officials vote on Saturday on a proposed financial package worth an estimated $51 million.

The JEDI deal seems to be stalled. Either the wheels of bureaucracy are in neutral, or the various legal challenges are fouling the smart automatic braking system for the billion dollar deal. The slower the processes move, the more time anti-Amazon forces have to refine their tactics.

Gogo to AWS

Gogo’s in flight service is now collaborating with Amazon. According to the ever reliable Verizon Oath Yahoo:

Gogo is set to shift its entire infrastructure to AWS is order to improvise cost structure and achieve better work efficiency by utilizing AWS storage, database, analytics and serverless services. Meanwhile, the company has already shifted its commercial and business aviation division.

Amazon landed these customers in the last year:

Amgen

Ellie Mae

Guardian Life Insurance

Korean Air

Mobileye

National Australia Bank

Pac-12

Santander’s Openbank

As one person told me, “Microsoft can sell better than Amazon.” Synergy Research Group figured out that Amazon had 34 percent of the cloud business.

Where did Amazon Yahoo Oath get this information? Zack’s.

Training Courses

Amazon offers more than 350 training courses for those interested in the Bezos bulldozer’s technology. You can find these at amzn.to/2Y3wX1V . IIT Kharagpur has added AWS courses to its curricula.

Connect with Startups

Amazon has had a mechanism for monitoring startups for years. Now anyone can tap into this flow of potential financial opportunities. “Amazon [is] testing a new program that connects outside investors with startups that use AWS.” The service is called Pro Rata.

The write up points out:

Amazon uses other programs such as the Alexa Fund and Amazon Catalyst to invest in startups.

New Partners/Providers

DarkCyber spotted these partners in the AWS news last week:

Duo World. Info here.

Manthan. Info here.

Symbee. Info here.

Wipro. Info here.

Amazon wants to provide more visibility to its partners and integrators. The company has launched AWS Digital CX Competency. (CX means customer experience.)

Volkswagen Fears Amazon?

Not sure if “fear” is the right word. But DarkCyber found this article suggestive: “In Picking Microsoft’s Cloud, Volkswagen Shows That Even Carmakers Have Some Fear of Amazon.” Could part of the reason stem from Amazon’s buying Mercedes’ vans?

Amazon Smart City Program

IBM does the Watson thing at MIT, but Amazon is putting is Smart City center at Arizona State University. You can get the details in “ASU, Amazon Web Services open Smart City Cloud Innovation Center.” What’s a “smart city”? Google’s angle is to get a piece of the tax money. What’s Amazon’s? The write up states:

…The new center is part of a long-term collaboration between ASU and AWS to improve digital experiences for smart-city designers, expand technology alternatives while minimizing costs, spur economic and workforce development and facilitate sharing public-sector solutions within the region.

Stephen E Arnold, March 18, 2019

Amazonia, March 11, 2019

March 11, 2019

Chug chug chug goes the Bezos bulldozer.

Pop Ups Go Flat

Amazon said that it will shutter 87 of its pop up stores. Source: CNBC

All Hail, Annapurna

Amazon’s AWS success is a result of an acquisition. Forbes makes the complex simple. “How an Acquisition Made by Amazon in 2016 Became the Company’s Secret Sauce.” The “sauce” is Infrastructure as a Service or IaaS. The idea is managing hardware via meta-software. The idea is to knit together diverse entities and customer chips so one can manage services more efficiently.

Going to War for JEDI

The JEDI deal has been chugging along for … too long. Amazon, according to Bloomberg, is becoming more aggressive in an old fashioned way. “Amazon Is Flooding DC with Money and Muscle: the Influence Game” reports that

Federal records show that Amazon.com Inc. lobbied more government entities than any other tech company in 2018 and sought to exert its influence over more issues than any of its tech peers except Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Last year, Amazon spent $14.2 million on lobbying, a record for the company, up from its previous high mark of $12.8 million in 2017. The $77 million that the nine tech companies in the charts below spent in 2018 to lobby Washington looks minuscule next to the $280 million spent by pharmaceutical and health-care products companies. Tech has, however, pulled ahead of the $64 million that commercial banks spent—and Amazon in particular has a cachet that allows it to punch above its weight at times. Of the nine, only the $21 million Google spent on lobbying beat Amazon’s total. Since 2012, Amazon has ramped up spending by more than 460 percent—much faster than its rivals.

Surfacing Amazon Partners Is a Little Easier

Amazon appears to be baby steps to make its partner network more visible. For some reasons, Amazon partners were not too eager to talk about their activities with the online bookstore. “Amazon Debuts AWS Digital CS Competency” includes a partial list of partners; for example, this list, edited for clarity:

Content Management: Acquia, Brightspot, Censhare, Cloudinary, Contentful, Crownpeak, Pagely, Solodev, WP Engine

Marketing Automation: Braze, HubSpot, Localytics, MoEngage, SendGrid, Sigstr, Vidyard

Digital Commerce: Magento, Skava

Customer 360: Adverity, Amplitude, Chartio, Content Square, InsideView, Looker, Manthan, Segment, Tealium, Tickr, Upshot.AI

Consulting Partners: Bulletproof, CloudHesive, G-AsiaPacific, Infosys, Megazone, Metal Toad, Mobiquity, Silver Lining, Vector IT Group.

Complete? No.

AWS Fees: Lyft Version

We noted this fact in CNBC’s headline: “Lyft Plans to Spend $300 Million on Amazon Web Services through 2021.” What’s this buy? The report included this quote from an Amazon professional:

Lyft “is leveraging the breadth and depth of AWS’s services, including database, serverless, machine learning, and analytics, to automate and enhance on-demand, multimodal transportation for riders and drive innovation in its autonomous vehicles business.”

DarkCyber understands that Uber also uses AWS.

AWS Fees: Controlling Costs

AWS makes cloud services easy. That is the viewpoint of some. However, there are nooks and crannies in which services hide or cower. Some of these are overlooked but continue to generate billing. “How to Reduce the Cost of Your Amazon EC2 Service” explains that one has to manage Amazon. The write up explains that significant charges can be accrued from EBS volumes, Elastic IP Addresses, and Snapshots. Who’s on top of these stealthy costs? A Microsoft MVP.

Comparing Cloud Services

Consultants charge big bucks for comparisons with some facts about cloud services. “Comparing Serverless Architecture Providers: AWS, Azure, Google, IBM, and Other FaaS Vendors” offers some information on an ad supported Web site featuring an ad for Microsoft Azure. The comparison is more of a two or three sentence statement of what each vendor asserts. There is a pricing comparison of FaaS offerings, but these may not fit most use cases.

image

Helpful? Somewhat. Readable? Nope.

N2WS does offer some cost optimization tools. More information appears in “N2WS Expands Cost Optimization for Amazon Web Services with Amazon EC2 Resource Scheduling.”

Penetration Testing Amazon Gets Easier

Is Amazon confident, or is Amazon quietly hoping its security gaps will be discovered and reported more quickly? We learned in “Amazon Web Services Will No Longer Require Security Pros Running Penetration Tests on Their Cloud-Based Apps to Get Permission First.” As cloud services like Amazon and Azure gather more customers, their systems are likely to become increasingly attractive targets.

Amazon Emits Pollution

Not a surprise. CNBC reported “Jeff Bezos Is Finally Ending Secrecy over Amazon’s Role in Carbon Emissions.” DarkCyber noted this statement from the article:

Amazon recently announced its Shipment Zero goal under which the company aims to have 50 percent of all deliveries reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Amazon has been less forthcoming than some other big shippers, according to the write up.

Ignored News? Bezos Considered Buying AMI

DarkCyber is not sure if this is accurate, but capturing the headline and the link seems appropriate. The story “Jeff Bezos Considered Buying the National Enquirer’s Parent Company After Photo Leak” appeared in Town and Country Magazine. Interesting.

Stephen E Arnold, March 11, 2019

Next Page »

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta