Azure Is Better at Hybrid Computing Because AWS Is an Orchid

December 12, 2019

There’s an interesting explanation of the DoD’s JEDI award in “Opinion: Microsoft Fairly and Squarely Beat Amazon in $10 Billion Pentagon Cloud Contract.” The reason is:

In 2017, Microsoft designed Azure Stack to meet hybrid cloud computing needs, a distinction from AWS, which was designed for cloud-only computing needs without the flexibility of leveraging on-premise servers. That has led Amazon to chase Microsoft with hybrid-cloud offerings such as AWS Outposts, which launched in November of 2018 — well after the Pentagon bid had been opened. As of the first half of 2019, Microsoft was the only company among the top three cloud providers that has a generally available hybrid cloud. Microsoft’s Windows operating system has run on servers for decades, and it was a natural extension to offer Azure Cloud to run on-premise. Microsoft’s hybrid strategy has resulted in 95% of Fortune 500 companies using Azure today. That is a staggering statistic, which shows the superiority of hybrid cloud compared with traditional cloud computing. As J.B. Hunt, one of Azure’s Fortune 500 customers, said: “Microsoft didn’t ask us to bend to their vision of a cloud.”

Amazon is unlikely to agree. Amazon’s lawyers definitely will view this explanation as insufficiently developed to justify dropping the lawsuit.

The problem is that “one throat to choke” seems like a great idea. But the reality is that there usually are many throats to choke regardless of who is the contract winner.

The idea of a common platform or framework, data harmonization, and smooth access control are easy to talk about.

Reality is a little more chaotic. Read the original write up and decide. Then consider how likely it is that a single individual or a small business has a single throat to choke when something goes wrong. Throat choking is preceded by finger pointing, and none of the technology giants deliver reliability, ease of use, and fantasy land solutions.

Reality. Messy. Azure is a hybrid. AWS is an orchid. Neither is guaranteed a long, healthy existence if the gardener forgets to water the plants, the insects decide to chow down, or a road grader grind ouy a new information highway.

Lawyers? Guaranteed money. Other parties? Not guaranteed much.

Probably not.

Stephen E Arnold, December 12, 2019

Amazon Fraud Detection: A Possible Application

December 11, 2019

DarkCyber noted “The AI Enabled Taxman.” The write up explains that smart software is in use to assist government tax authorities in their work. What countries are using the smart systems? Nordic countries, according to the write up. Plus, India is heading down this path as well. With Amazon’s fraud detection capabilities, perhaps that company will move in a similar direction.

The write up points out:

For instance, in Denmark, AI tools are said to flagged 85 of every 100 cases, with 65 of them found to outright tax frauds. Since then, various governments have been exploring the potential of AI to nab culprits.

Stephen E Arnold, December 11, 2019

Amazon: What Does the S Team Do without a Policeware Leader?

December 9, 2019

GeekWire published the members of Jeff Bezos’ S Team. The idea is that the TV show A Team has been upgraded by 17 letters. There is an S Team member for fashion and for Alexa, but none for policeware. You can get the list of S Team members in “Amazon Expands Bezos’ Elite ‘S-Team,’ Adding 6 Execs from Emerging Branches of the Company.” Perhaps the omission of a public sector Amazon manager signals that the company is not interested in government contracts, work for law enforcement departments, and countries interested in using Amazon’s blockchain technology? That is a possibility. DarkCyber believes that there is a commitment at Amazon for policeware and developing services to assist authorities in determining if tax returns are on the up and up. The apparent exclusion of a designated policeware “owner” suggests that the company wants to continue its low profile approach to this high potential revenue sector.

Stephen E Arnold, December 9, 2019

AWS Storage Is Evolving

December 8, 2019

This is not your mom’s Simple Storage Service. An article at SiliconAngle describes how “Amazon’s New Storage Chapter Eyes NFS Support, Integrates from the Top-Down.” Writer Betsy Amy-Vogt explores details revealed at the recent AWS Storage Day event in Boston. She embeds some video coverage by theCUBE, her publication’s live streaming studio; see the write-up to view those excerpts.

Demand for easily accessible online storage is growing thanks to the rise of machine learning and edge computing. AWS is adding features to its S3 Glacier and EBS storage solutions, expanding support for file formats like NFS (Network File System), and beefing up security and management tools. Amy-Vogt writes:

“When a customer chooses to move to the AWS Cloud, Amazon takes care of administration, provisioning and maintenance. ‘You literally click three or four buttons to create a file system, and you no longer have to worry about it ever again,’ [AWS’s Wayne Duso] stated. Amazon also promises to maintain data in a secure environment. ‘Security is job number one for us,’ Duso stated. ‘We take care of all the security elements.’ Ease of integration is also a major benefit, especially to companies wanting to take advantage of new intelligent technologies, Duso pointed out. The wide range of AWS’ products means that advanced tools for building and deploying machine-learning models, such as AWS SageMaker, can be integrated with file storage services, such as FSx for Lustre and EFS, bringing even more simplicity to the process. ‘Customers don’t have to worry about storage; they don’t have to worry about sharing; they don’t have to worry about scaling. It’s all there for them,’ Duso said. Cloud brings global scale, but data must remain close to the user to avoid issues with availability and latency. AWS addresses this by creating regions where data is available in multiple locations. ‘Our regions are built to have, at minimum, three availability zones,’ Duso explained.”

Besides reducing latency, storage in multiple locations also serves as a backup. You can see Duso explain the AWS storage strategy at length in one of those videos embedded in the source article. He pledges that customers who use the AWS platform to manage their storage workload free up plenty of time to focus on other parts of their business.

Cynthia Murrell, December 8, 2019

Amazon Fraud Detector: Policeware Service?

December 6, 2019

The camel is poking its nose into another tent. Navigate to “Amazon Fraud Detector.” The service makes it easy to identify potentially fraudulent online activities. The service seems to focus on a commercial use case. There may be a government or public sector application or two enabled as well. Which is more important? Both are equally important.

The commercial push is likely to provide a new revenue stream for Amazon from individuals, mid sized sellers, and quite large commercial operations. Equifax-like outfits? Maybe a JPMorgan-like enterprise?

The government push is part of the company’s policeware initiatives. What’s this policeware you reference? If you are curious, I have a free eight page summary of a forthcoming chapter which will appear in a book about blocking in 2020.

To get on the list for the free white paper, just write darkcyber333 at yandex dot com. Name, company email, and agency required, however.

Stephen E Arnold, December 6, 2019

Arnold Interviewed about Amazon Blockchain Inventions

December 5, 2019

Robert David Steele, former CIA professional and open source intelligence expert, interviewed Stephen E Arnold about Amazon’s blockchain inventions. Arnold recently completed a chapter for a forthcoming academic press book about blockchain. That chapter and its information prompted journalists from the US and France to interview Arnold about his findings. Arnold’s information was included in news stories appearing in the New York Times, MIT Technology Review, and Le Monde.


Steele obtained an exclusive video interview with Arnold about his Amazon blockchain research. Among the topics discussed in the 30 minute program are:

  • The “trigger” for the research
  • Sources of data and research methods
  • The major findings from the 18 month research project
  • The likely trajectory of Amazon’s products and services incorporating the company’s more than 12 blockchain inventions.
  • How to obtain a summary of Arnold’s research findings.

You can view the video at this link. Steele has compiled links to other Amazon information obtained from Arnold at this link.

Kenny Toth, December 5, 2019

Amazon Trumped?

December 5, 2019

DarkCyber does not have a dog in this fight. The fight? Jeff Bezos versus the President of the United States. If the information in “Trump Bezos Round 2: Amazon Faces Broad Antitrust Probe of Cloud Business” is accurate, lawyers involved in the matter will have a very good chance to generate some billable hours.

The write up reminds the reader that Amazon lost the $10 billion Department of Defense JEDI deal. Amazon then sued on the basis of the President’s pushing back against Amazon.

The write up reports:

But now, as Bloomberg details, investigators at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission have been asking software companies recently about practices around Amazon’s cloud unit, known as Amazon Web Services. Specifically, the outreach by the FTC signals that the agency, which is already looking at Amazon’s conduct in its vast online retail business, is taking a broader look at the company to determine whether it could be violating antitrust laws and harming competition.

Interesting. Mr. Bezos has  money and a newspaper. The President has presidential things. Will presidential things trump the Bezos bulldozer?

In a comment to the write up, Sticky_Pickles said: “When you try to sue the government…”

But DarkCyber is thinking of the lawyers working on the matter. Winners.

Stephen E Arnold, December 5, 2019

WWAD: What Will Amazon Do?

December 4, 2019

Silicon Angle published “Commentary: Andy Jassy Aims to Reinvent Amazon Web Services for the Cloud’s Next Generation.” The story carries the subtitle “In an exclusive one-on-one conversation, Amazon’s cloud chief reveals how he views the future of the cloud, the competition, market shifts, customer demands and controversies.”

Several statements in the write up warranted an orange highlight:

  • It’s time to embrace the next cloud wave or get crushed by it.
  • The cloud has completely “flipped the business and startup model on its head.”
  • “Enterprises realize that if they want to be successful, sustainable companies over time, they can’t just make small, incremental changes,” he said.
  • The “vast majority” of organizations pursuing a multicloud strategy tend to pick a predominant provider and then, if they feel like they want another one, either because there’s a group that really is passionate about them or they want to know they can use a second cloud provider in case they fall out of sorts with the initial cloud provider, they will. Jassy went on to say that for customers implementing multiple clouds the workloads are split between a primary and secondary cloud more like 70/30 or 80/20 or 90/10, not 50/50.
  • “Companies are going to want to eliminate network hops and find a way to have the compute and the storage much more local to the 5G network edge.”
  • Next year roughly 82% of all new workloads will run Linux.

Net net: Crushing is part of the game plan. The interview is a component of the AWS re:Invent PR push. Prime stuff, not Grade A, but okay for consumption by Amazon shoppers.

Stephen E Arnold, December 4, 2019

AWS: A Semi Critical Look

December 3, 2019

DarkCyber found “Unbundling AWS” interesting. We decided to label the write up as semi critical. We will reveal the reasons at the foot of this post.

The write up explains one reason why AWS has become one of the leaders in cloud service. (Yes, we are hedging our bets because it is not clear how the cloud vendors in China are keeping score for their “growth.”)

The article includes this chart. Its story is clear. AWS is growing. The article highlights some important attributes of Amazon. First, there’s the old saw about AWS being a juggernaut, a word I like better than flywheel. Second, there’s this observation:

Getting a new software product to market has never been as cheap or fast as it is today, despite the fact that the surface area of in-depth knowledge required to build high-performing software has never been higher.


DarkCyber thinks this is a very, very important facet of Amazon’s approach. Why? You will have to wait until my chapter in a forthcoming book becomes available or attend my lecture in Washington, DC, on December 11, 2019, at the DG Vision conference.

Third, the article includes this important observation, often overlooked by retail crazed MBAs:

The availability of open source tooling and the ease of access to infrastructure on AWS and other IaaS providers, and infrastructure turning into software, which means it’s programmable and, increasingly, thinly-sliced.

Big implications ahead, gentle reader.

But what DarkCyber found particularly rewarding was the overt statement that entrepreneurs will just use AWS. We noted this bulleted list:

  • “Frameworks and deployment tools that make application software agnostic to the underlying infrastructure provider. Things like the Serverless framework, containers + orchestration, or IAC tools like Saltstack, Terraform, Ansible, etc
  • The overlapping areas of logging, APM, and monitoring. This is a hot area right now, with IPO’s like Dynatrace or Datadog, or acquisitions like SignalFX. Related: Cloudwatch is terrible!
  • Data science workflows – this is my subjective, anecdotal experience, but most data scientists I know have a preference for Google Cloud for a lot of their work, and custom hardware like TPUs likely play a role here
  • Authentication and identity – Auth0, LoginRadius, Okta, etc … where it may make sense to have a third-party handle
  • Paradigms that lead to different stack choices – I’m a big proponent of the JAMstack, and it’s a prime example of a paradigm where AWS may not be a natural choice for parts of this architecture. I believe that we will continue to see this and other new architectural paradigms evolve.”

We think the write up gets one thing off center; specifically:

we should all be so lucky to be at a scale and level of popularity where this becomes a problem. It’s hard for me to see a lot of cases where AWS will be competing with companies before they reach scale.

We think AWS will compete with its entrepreneurs and big buck customers. Amazon Essentials makes that clear.

Stephen E Arnold, December 3, 2019

Amazon Alexa: What Happened? Who Knew?

November 26, 2019

I read a somewhat disingenuous tale of Amazon’s Alexa. Navigate to “We Never Anticipated Alexa to Have Such a Profound Impact on Society” and make your own determination. Note: You will need to disable your ad blocker to view this article from Hindu Business Line. Lucky you! Extra work. Surprises abound.

The main idea in the story is that Amazon created Alexa. Everything that took place was a bit of a shock. That includes, I suppose, the surveillance potential, the data stream value, and the willingness of people to put Jeff Bezos’ ear in their homes and offices. Yep, a surprise. Wow.

The write up includes a statement or two from an Amazonian, who remains surprised; for instance:

We have onboarded a lot of such training data. Hindi seemed like the next logical step. We’ll keep pushing the envelope. What has really caught our attention in India is the fact that Alexa and Echo devices are used by a lot of schools to teach kids English, general knowledge and other subjects. This is really inspiring and we will try bringing services and skills to enhance this process. We never anticipated this device which started off as a fancy geeky Star Trek-inspired tool to have such a profound impact on the society. Today, we are trying to make it more useful to students, teachers, people with vision challenges and so on.

Ah, surprise.

Stephen E Arnold, November 26, 2019

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