Amazon AWS Challenge to Microsoft JEDI Win Reported

March 27, 2020

If you follow the grudge match between Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, you may be interested in “AWS Charges Pentagon Wants to Give Microsoft a Do-Over on Contested JEDI Bid.” The article states:

In a court filing made public today, Amazon Web Services Inc. is charging that the Pentagon is unfairly favoring rival Microsoft Corp. as part of its reevaluation of the JEDI contract.

The today is March 24, 2020.

The article quotes the document as saying:

“Offerors would be able to change only the services they proposed for Price Scenario 6, and would not be allowed to adjust the unit prices and discounts for those services.

Discriminatory? Maybe.

The article also quotes the document as saying:

“DoD provides no meaningful commitment to evaluate the other serious errors identified by AWS’s protest,” the company wrote. “Even if taken at face value, DoD’s proposed corrective action fails to address in any meaningful way how it would resolve the technical issues AWS has raised, or which specific technical challenges it intends to address.”

Stay tuned.

Stephen E Arnold, March 26, 2020

Mr. Bezos, A 21st Century News Outfit Wants You to Do a Daily Briefing, Just Like a Government Leader

March 24, 2020

I read “It’s Time for a Regular Amazon Daily Coronavirus Briefing.” The title alone is remarkable for two reasons: [a] Amazon is a company talk outputs enormous amounts of information in its blogs, on its Web site, and in its public statements and [b] news organizations are supposed to go and find information, not demand that companies give daily briefings.

What the article demonstrates is that reporting is supposed to be like the second grade. Students show up. A teacher outputs. The student listens, practices, or whatever.

The subtitle to the write up (I am not sure what to call it) asserts:

The company’s distribution network is understandably struggling — and it’s time that Amazon started answering questions about it

It is good to know that a 21st century news outfit can take a parental approach: “Understandably struggling.” Yeah, news flash. Many companies are struggling because employees are falling ill and certain attendant disruptions are amplifying. But “understandably.”

The subtitle also demands, like an old fashioned grade school teacher; for example, “It’s time that Stevie Arnold stops daydreaming in class.” How did that work out? I still daydream, and I am not sure external inputs are going to change me. I had to inform one millennial via a LinkedIn message that I was not looking for a consultant to improve my marketing of my blog. I explained, “Not a chance, gentle millennial.”

What’s the write up “reporting”? Here’s an example:

The company has temporarily stopped taking orders for non-essential items that are shipped through its fulfillment service while it focuses on getting more important items to customers.

The company also suspended Prime Pantry, a service for getting rapid delivery of discounted grocery and household items, amid a surge in demand. And — at the request of local governments — it downgraded the quality of streaming on Prime Video in Europe in an effort to reduce the strain on the internet.

Yep, slower deliveries and downgraded video. News flash: There is a virus problem. That virus is disrupting many things. Next day delivery. Does it matter? Video quality. Why not read a book?

Here’s what the DarkCyber team has noticed about Amazon’s current situation:

  1. Amazon is undergoing forced change. Change is hard, and in the midst of change, there’s confusion and those on duty may find it difficult to do mission critical things at all.
  2. Daily briefings are what governments do. Where’s the daily briefing from the hospital supply company in Nashville? No one cares about a daily briefing even from giant companies. Daily briefings, in case the 21st century news outfits have not noticed, are theater.
  3. Amazon appears to have failed in three critical business functions: Securing its supply chains, maintaining existing services to customers who pay for these services, and managing employees in a way that keeps employees chipper.

My thoughts are:

  1. Find people who have first hand information about Amazon and talk to these people. This is research; it is difficult and time consuming. But the point is the news has to be found, not delivered like cookies and milk in grade school.
  2. Adopt an informed approach to assembling verifiable facts. Skip the woulda, shoulda, coulda approach to a write up. The fact is the write up itself reveals that some people are inconvenienced because Amazon cannot deliver something quickly. Wow. One has to exert effort and manage time without Amazon’s “mom” services.
  3. Provide useful information. That means answering questions like, “What can an Amazon customer do when an order does not arrive?”, “What are the options for obtaining video entertainment?”, “How does one apply for a job at Amazon?” Answers, not complaints, might be helpful, might they not?

Net net: Companies are not eager to be told what to do by people who know zero about a business at a point in time. It is time for “real news” professionals to do old fashioned research, analysis, and reporting in DarkCyber’s opinion.

Stephen E Arnold, March 24, 2020

NASA: Bad Math for Data Return

March 23, 2020

DarkCyber continues to monitor the Amazon Web Services drive train for the Bezos bulldozer. “NASA to Launch 247 Petabytes of Data into AWS – But Forgot about Eye-watering Cloudy Egress Costs before Lift-Off” reports that it is easy to get into the AWS orbit but the payload return may incur some interesting costs.

The Register article states:

“Specifically, the agency faces the possibility of substantial cost increases for data egress from the cloud,” the Inspector General’s Office wrote, explaining that today NASA doesn’t incur extra costs when users access data from its DAACs. “However, when end users download data from Earth data Cloud, the agency, not the user, will be charged every time data is egressed. “That means EDSIS wearing cloud egress costs. Ultimately, ESDIS will be responsible for both cloud costs, including egress charges, and the costs to operate the 12 DAACS.”

Simplifying: Easy in, expensive out.

The Register did some math, which apparently is unfamiliar to certain NASA professionals and consultants. The Register reports:

The Register used Amazon’s cloudy cost calculator to tot up the cost of storing 247PB in the cloud giant’s S3 service. The promised pay-as-you-go price for us on the street was a staggering $5,439,526.92 per month, not taking into account the free tier discount of 12 cents. The audit, meanwhile, suggests an increased cloud spend of around $30m a year by 2025, on top of NASA’s $65m-per-year deal with AWS. The existence of data egress costs are not obscure nor arcane knowledge. Which left The Register wondering how an agency capable of sending stuff into orbit or making marvelously long-lived Mars rovers could also make such a dumb mistake.

Net net: The Bezos bulldozer grinds forward with some clever cost wiring; that is, a 21st century variant of the IBM lock in strategy.

Stephen E Arnold, March 23, 2020

Open Source Weaponized: Can Amazon Dent the Future of Target and Walmart?

March 16, 2020

Amazon Courts Walmart, Target to Join Cashierless Tech Group” is interesting but cut loose from the type of footnotes, named sources, and back up data some find helpful. Plus the WSJ states: “Retailers don’t yet plan to participate, but talks highlight Amazon’s ambition to have others adopt its technology.” If accurate, this is a page from the Amazon policeware / blockchain playbook. (For a free summary of DarkCyber’s Amazon policeware report, fill in the request form at this link.)

Retailers don’t yet plan to participate, but talks highlight Amazon’s ambition to have others adopt its technology

Amazon’s online bookstore bulldozer is revving through supply chain and demand mud. Despite the overheating of the big diesel engine, the S-Team is not resting on its laurels.

According to the Murdoch-inspired newspaper, “sources” have revealed “Amazon is making some of the software that underpins its Go stores available through an organization called Dent.” The idea seems to be that some of the technology would be open source.

DarkCyber finds the sourceless news interesting. Let’s assume that the write up is 100 percent accurate. Why give away a technology that could make Amazon’s AWS system some money? How open source is the Bezos bulldozer? What bits and pieces of digital connective tissue will be needed to make the open source technology work?

There are no answers to these questions. DarkCyber has formulated some other questions, and these also cannot be answered in a definitive way. Let’s look at these:

  1. Is Amazon use of open source a weaponization of the core ideas of open source software?
  2. How will the open source community respond to Amazon’s alleged embrace of open source?
  3. What type of pressure will Amazon’s open source play, if it indeed an accurate characterization of the WSJ sources’ factoids is accurate, put on its competitors?
  4. What does Amazon gain by making Target and Walmart look like outfits who don’t want to ride the Bezos bulldozer?

Net net: If the WSJ story is accurate, DarkCyber will have to reassess Amazon’s willingness to use certain types of digital data as a weapon. Like many weapons, caution is usually prudent. Mishandling can make downstream events in a chain quite interesting. Just Walk Out may garner a new connotation.

Stephen E Arnold, March 16, 2020

Amazon Versus Microsoft: A Jedi Fight Development

March 13, 2020

DarkCyber spotted this story on the BBC Web site: “Pentagon to Reconsider Jedi $10bn Cloud Contract.” Since we are in rural Kentucky, the intrepid team does not know if the information in the Beeb’s write up is accurate. The factoids are definitely interesting. The story asserts:

The US Department of Defense is to “reconsider” its decision to award a multi-billion dollar cloud contract to Microsoft over Amazon.

The story points out that Microsoft is confident that its Azure system will prevail. Amazon, on the other hand, is allegedly pleased.

What’s at stake?

  • Money
  • A hunting license for other government contracts
  • Implicit endorsement of either AWS or Azure
  • Happy resellers, integrators, and consultants
  • Ego (maybe?)

When will JEDI be resolved? Possibly in the summer of 2020.

Stephen E Arnold, March 13, 2020

Google and Amazon: Two Dominant Dogs Snap and Snarl at One Another

March 13, 2020

DarkCyber read “How Google Kneecapped Amazon’s Smart TV Efforts.” The uptake on criminal lingo continues. For those not hip to the argot of some technology savvy professionals, the Urban Dictionary defines the concept this way:

The act of permanently destroying someone’s kneecaps. Often done with a firearm (as popularized in film and television), a baseball bat or lead pipe or other blunt instrument, or a power drill (often used in conjunction with a countersunk drill bit and popular with the IRA).

Yes, the elegance of business competition requires these metaphors it seems. DarkCyber thinks the article is “about” the collision of cleverness and rapaciousness. But enough of our philosophical wanderings. What did Google do to Amazon, assuming online services have joints which keep bone and joint doctors busy?

The write up states:

Any company that licenses Google’s Android TV operating system for some of its smart TVs or even uses Android as a mobile operating system has to agree to terms that prevent it from also building devices using forked versions of Android like Amazon’s Fire TV operating system, according to multiple sources. If a company were to break those terms, it could lose access to the Play Store and Google’s apps for all of its devices.

Ah, ha! The kneecapping is not physical; those making devices sign a contract.

Plus, there’s another Googley twist of the 6 mm drill bit, a metaphor for kneecapping explained above:

At the center of Google’s efforts to block Amazon’s smart TV ambitions is the Android Compatibility Commitment — a confidential set of policies formerly known as the Anti-Fragmentation Agreement — that manufacturers of Android devices have to agree to in order to get access to Google’s Play Store. Google has been developing Android as an open-source operating system, while at the same time keeping much tighter control of what device manufacturers can do if they want access to the Play Store as well as the company’s suite of apps. For Android TV, Google’s apps include a highly customized launcher, or home screen, optimized for big-screen environments, as well as a TV version of its Play Store. Google policies are meant to set a baseline for compatible Android devices and guarantee that apps developed for one Android device also work on another. The company also gives developers some latitude, allowing them to build their own versions of Android based on the operating system’s open source code, as long as they follow Google’s compatibility requirements.

Interesting.

How will the issue be resolved? Legal eagles will flap and squawk. Customers can vote with their purchases. But TVs cost very little because “advertising” and data are often useful sources of revenue. Regulators can regulate, just as they have since Google and Amazon discovered the benefits of their interesting business activities.

Regardless of the outcome between the assailant and the victim, the article reveals some of the more charming facets of two “must have” businesses. How can a person advance his or her understanding of the kneecapping allegation.

DarkCyber will run a Google query for business ethics and purchase a copy of Business Ethics: Best Practices for Designing and Managing Ethical Organizations from Amazon. You have to find your own way through the labyrinths of the underworld, you gangster, no mercy, no malice, as the pundit, scholar, entrepreneur, and media phenomenon Scott Gallaway has said.

Stephen E Arnold, March 12, 2020

Factoids about the Cloud Battles

March 10, 2020

DarkCyber noted “Stress Test the Cloud: Alibaba Cloud, AWS, Azure, GCP.” The write up presents “factoids” and observations based on these factoids in a helpful way. Here are the points which captured DarkCyber’s attention:

The cloud will be the way of the future in computing. The meltdown of Robinhood’s trading platform was pegged on stress. When a cloud system is stressed, it may and will fail.

Amazon Web Services
  • “Amazon’s e-commerce business is the market leader in the U.S., Europe, and close to number 1 in India”
  • “AWS is very much battle-tested and constantly “stressed out” by its parent company’s core e-commerce operation. It has moved all of its businesses onto AWS, and off of other systems like Oracle, after a multi-year effort.”
  • Amazon’s businesses are generally not prone to unexpected spikes in traffic, which happens more to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Weibo.”

Amazon’s system may not be optimal for surprise spikes.

Alibaba Cloud
  • “Alibaba’s core e-commerce business has many similarities to Amazon’s…”
  • “This accomplishment is well-deserved; Alibaba has basically created and survived the mother of all stress tests.” The reference is to the large volume of sales on Singles Day.
  • “Alibaba Cloud’s technical and operational expertise can certainly be applied in regions outside of China, but only until there’s customer demand and the data centers to serve it.”

Alibaba dumped American vendors as part of its journey.

Google Cloud
  • “Google has arguably the only, truly global infrastructure, because its services and users are global.”
  • “Google‘s services cannot anticipate traffic spikes, unlike a planned shopping holiday, and must be ready wherever, whenever it happens.”
  • “Google’s products do not naturally lead to processing many complex transactions, like online shopping orders, offline delivery, or payments.”

Google can accommodate stress, but it’s not so good in Amazon-style transaction complexity.

Microsoft Azure
  • “None of these [Microsoft] businesses have to be “always on”, in the same way that an e-commerce marketplace or a search engine needs to be on.”
  • “Azure is still doing amazingly well from a revenue and market share standpoint. This success has more to do with Microsoft’s years of experience in selling products into large enterprises and aggressively moving users of its non-cloud license-based products onto the same products that are now on-cloud and subscription-based. Microsoft is very good at being “enterprise ready”, but not that good at being “Internet ready”.”
  • “It [Microsoft]  has by far the most number of Single-AZ Regions, which has led to outages and issues that could’ve been avoided with a multi-AZ design. Multi-AZ Region is the default in AWS, GCP, and most of Alibaba Cloud.”

Microsoft is good at sales, not so good at the cloud.

Net Net

Alibaba is darned good. At any time the company can push into other markets and create some pain for the American companies it seems.

Stephen E Arnold, March 10, 2020

Amazon Versus Microsoft: JEDI in Play?

March 7, 2020

DarkCyber spotted a story in Stars and Stripes titled “Judge Says Amazon Likely to Succeed on Key Argument in Pentagon Cloud Lawsuit.” The source appears to be the Bezos-owned Washington Post. That fact may provide some context for the story.

The main point in the write up seems to be:

A federal judge has concluded that a bid protest lawsuit brought by Amazon over President Donald Trump’s intervention in an important Pentagon cloud computing contract “is likely to succeed on the merits” of one of its central arguments, according to a court document made public Friday [March 6, 2020].

The article states:

In an opinion explaining her reasoning, Campbell-Smith sided with Amazon’s contention that the Pentagon had made a mistake in how it evaluated prices for competing proposals from Amazon and Microsoft. She also concluded that the mistake is likely to materially harm Amazon, an important qualifier for government contract bid protests.

What’s missing from this story? Detail for one thing.

Several observations:

  1. Planners for the JEDI program are likely to experience uncertainty
  2. Regardless of the ultimate decision, time to implement newer systems is being lost
  3. The cost of the procurement process for JEDI will climb and, at some point, may become larger than the program itself.

Net net: Government procurement remains an interesting and impactful process. Procurement just keeps grinding its procedural mechanisms, delivering “efficiency.”

Stephen E Arnold, March 7, 2020

Tools for TikTok and Twitch

March 5, 2020

DarkCyber spotted “JOBY Launches New Line of Accessories for Content Creators.” The idea is that there are quite a few people streaming video. The equipment required for IRL and some popular streaming situations has to be cobbled together. Enter Joby. The company offers a

  • Video streaming kit for $200
  • An LED halo light for $90
  • A stand for iPhone and Android devices for $40.

Are there other brands competing for the vloggers’ money? Yes, Razer, Neewer, and Homall among others.

If you want to locate these products, be sure to search for products tagged for games, vloggers, streamers, and Twitch. Amazon will sell you beannie’s, hoodies, and a book “Twitch for Dummies.”

A new Amazon Basics category may be coalescing. TikTok fame awaits.

Stephen E Arnold, March 5, 2020

Amazon Pursues the Ipanema Way

February 26, 2020

Foreign technology investment is a booming industry. Most major technology investments appear to occur in Asia and western countries. Amazon Web Services is looking south for technology investments, specifically Brazil. ZDNet reports that, “AWS Plants Multimillion-Dollar Investment In Brazil” for development.

AWS plans to invest $233 million (1 billion reais) to expand its infrastructure in São Paulo. The investment will be made over two years. Governor of São Paulo João Doria predicts that AWS’s investment will create more jobs and opportunities for startups within the state. AWS and the Brazilian officials did not share anything else about the deal other than an official press releases. AWS first came to São Paulo in 2012, when they built its first datacenter. That was just the start of the new investment:

“A few years later, the company announced that it would be using the customer cost-consciousness driven by economic instability to grow its business in Brazil and increase its influence in the local technology community. Cloud computing and artificial intelligence will be the core areas of focus when it comes to investment in technology in Brazil in 2020, according to a study released last month by technology firm CI&T.”

AWS’s major challenge in Brazil will be guaranteeing that this sector of the market can keep up with the rest of the world. Cloud computing technology advancements are driving AWS to invest in Brazil because it is a new, although volatile market.

Whitney Grace, February 26, 2020

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