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

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

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

Amazonia for March 4, 2019

March 4, 2019

Amazon continues to chug along. Perhaps the most surprising announcement from the Bezos brigade was an initiative to expand in the grocery sector. The Wall Street Journal lurks behind a paywall erected by nice people at NICE. The announcement came when Kroger, one of the large chains, revealed that it was cutting back on accepting Visa cards. Amazon does accept Visa cards and may be targeting Kroger-type outfits with its new initiative.

Other Amazonia included:

The Dash Trashed

Dash buttons are no more. Source: ZDNet

Cutting Delivery Costs

Get your Amazon deliveries on your “Amazon day.” Sounds good. But how costly is it for Amazon to send trucks to the same house twice, maybe three times a day? Amazon won’t say, but just take the cost of a one time delivery and multiple by two or three. The multiple has to be trimmed. Bundle up the deliveries and send one truck once a week. Is this a small step toward the fare thee well to next day, two day, and three day delivery for some Amazon customers? The Prime marketing angle is interesting, but there is a “green” slant as well. Fewer deliveries to the same house becomes an ecological decision, not just a convenience decision. You can learn more about the start of a mechanism for weaning customers who marvel at rapid delivery in “Amazon Sets Up Program for Weekly Scheduled Deliveries.”

Size of AWS

Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services revealed that the online bookstore is on target to generate $30 billion from its cloud business. Google and Microsoft covet this revenue scale. There are wannabes like HP, IBM, and Oracle who want to fly into the clouds as well. Source: CNBC

Amazon Translate

Amazon offers machine translation which complements Amazon Comprehend. To use these tools you will need knowledge of Kotlin, a cross platform programming language. Kotlin plays nice with Java. For the details about Amazon Translate, you will find the Translate API documentation the place to begin. Why’s this important? Understanding of Amazon’s tools for its policeware initiative may be useful.

Textbook Creator Subsumed into Kindle Create

Plan on writing a text book in order to make millions? If you are, you will be using Kindle Create, not Kindle Textbook Creator. Digital Reader provides some detail.

Fake Branded Products? Yes, Yes, Yes

Quartz reported that Amazon “has finally admitt3ed to investor that it has a counterfeit problem.” The online information service does not provide much information about why this problem has grown, nor why the issue exists at the world’s largest online bookstore. Amazon measures to prevent counterfeit goods are not working.

Amazon Shipping

Amazon’s unfortunate delivery malfunction is not likely to slow the firm’s push into the land of FedEx. Stamps.com’s CEO agrees. Amazon’s shipping business is likely to be a factor going forward. Stamps.com will partner with Amazon to ship packages. “Aggressive pricing” is likely to be the mechanism to take market share from the likes of FedEx and UPS. Source: The Motley Fool

Sprint Embraces Amazon for Internet of Things Play

The title of the story announcing this deal was “Amazon Web Services to Integrate Its Cloud Services with Sprint’s Curiosity IoT Platform to Bring Actionable Intelligence to the Network Edge.” The buzzword undergrowth is dense. The message is Sprint will run its IoT services on AWS. The article stated:

AWS storage and IoT services will now be integrated with Sprint’s distributed and virtualized IoT core network to provide enterprise customers with optimized traffic routing, processing, and storage of IoT data. Leveraging the AWS cloud and the Curiosity IoT native LTE core, enterprises can now process IoT data locally, distribute IoT applications, and forward data to the cloud to run analytics and get insights to make better and more accurate decisions for IoT applications and machine learning use cases.

Partners Make Announcements

Amazon continues to expand its partnering related offerings. Among the partners making announcements last week were:

  • D3 Banking platform now on AWS. Source: Yahoo Finance. Note: Yahoo links go dead so be prepared.
  • Infinitive is now an AWS consulting partner. Source: Business Journals
  • RedHat (IBM) offers Kubernetes registry. Source: BetaNews
  • Ribbon and its Session Border Control service. Source: Yahoo Finance. Note: Yahoo links go dead so be prepared.
  • Symantec security integration. Source SDxCentral
  • TribalScale is an AWS partner. Source: MarketWatch
  • Univa HPC offers cloud solutions on AWS. Source: HPCwire
  • Working Group Two offers cloud managed mobile service on AWS. Source: Yahoo Finance. Note: Yahoo links go dead so be prepared.
  • Zadara storage. Source: Virtualization Review

Amazonia for February 25, 2019

February 25, 2019

Several yellow flags flapped in the wind last week. In two conversations with conference organizers focused on the law enforcement and intelligence markets, I learned there was little interest in Amazon’s policeware services. I found this interesting but understandable. Amazon’s “footprint” is much larger in the eCommerce mindspace and recent news has been dominated by Amazon’s response to some New Yorkers’ protests over tax breaks for a cash rich, profitable company. Another factor is the ongoing background buzz about the suddenly personal life of Amazon’s founder. Nevertheless, DarkCyber Annex believes that Amazon is likely to be a disruptive force in what we call policeware and intelware. A few highlights from last week’s Amazon team:

Do Not Fear Amazon

“We’re from Amazon. We’re here to help you.” Jeff Bezos appears to be spending some cycle time promulgating these messages to employees. CNBC reported that “Jeff Bezos told employees that fear of Amazon is overblown.” According the CNBC:

Fears of Amazon taking over the world have reached a fever pitch in recent years. In the fourth quarter of 2017, Amazon was the most mentioned company on earnings calls of S&P 500 companies. But some of Amazon’s primary competitors are finding ways to survive and even thrive against one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Evidence is the positive financial performance of Wal-Mart and the number of misfires Amazon video has delivered. Also, Microsoft is catching up with Amazon cloud services. Rest easy.

Amazon Expands Its Threat Detection

There are many specialist companies — many of which will be acquired or just go out of business. Amazon is aware of this market. One possible reason is that many threat detection firms use Amazon’s infrastructure to provide their for fee services. It seems logical that Amazon would compete in this sector. InfoQ reported that Amazon had added three new threat detection services to its cyber security offerings. Amazon brands this initiative as GuardDuty. Infoq explains the service this way:

Amazon GuardDuty is a threat detection service available on AWS that continuously monitors for malicious or unauthorized behavior to help customers protect their AWS accounts and workloads. When a threat is detected, the service will send a detailed security alert to the GuardDuty console and AWS CloudWatch Events – thus making alerts actionable and easy to integrate into existing event management and workflow systems.

Amazon’s spin is that its existing customers can use these services. However, scope creep is likely to occur. Amazon may compete with some of its customers as it expands its revenue streams in this lucrative market.

Graphus Becomes AWS Partner

It’s difficult to keep track of the companies racing to become AWS partners. We noted that Virtual Strategy reported that Graphus is on the Bezos team. Graphus is a cyber security firm.

Ethereum Service Enhancement

Many individuals in government are not aware that Amazon is a player in the burgeoning digital currency game. Amazon is a player and an increasingly important one. Ethereum World News reported that Amazon supports deployment of VeChain Thor (VET) DApps with almost one click simplicity. What does this digital currency jargon mean? One one hand, an Amazon customer can deploy his or her own blockchain application without having to do bare metal coding. In terms of law enforcement, the expanding Ethereum services signal that data flowing into the through the Amazon system may well be of significance when it comes to identifying certain interesting behaviors. This development complements a managed blockchain service and a quantum ledger database.

Amazon Subsidies

A surprising subsidy from Smartronix reduces the cost of AWS cloud migrations has been reported by Globe Newswire. The idea is to reduce the cost of  AWS migration for Virtual Machines (VM) running on VMware. For projects with a minimum of 500 VMs, the migration will be free (completely funded), with partial subsidies offered for smaller projects. In short, this is a play to get big installations. The idea is that organizations will be able to use the same tools and management capabilities they are using today, including VMware provisioning, storage, and lifecycle policies.

Amazon Snow Globe for Elastic Cloud Services

It is now possible to run an application within Amazon. The innovation is described in “Setting Up PrivateLink for Amazon ECS and Amazon ECR.” The idea is that “all the network traffic within the AWS network. When you create AWS PrivateLink endpoints for ECR and ECS, these service endpoints appear as elastic network interfaces with a private IP address in your VPC.” The idea is a variation on the catchphrase “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. The Amazon edit becomes “What happens in AWS stays within AWS.”

Amazon Funds Computer Science Programs

Free training? Sounds like a promising offer. PC Magazine reports that Amazon will fund computing courses for under privileged teens. The online news service said:

More than 1,000 high schools across the US through its Future Engineer program [will receive funding]. Of those schools, more than 700 are classified as Title 1, meaning a high percentage of their students come from low-income families.

But anyone can become an Amazonia for Just head to Geek Deals and pay $35 for the AWS Certified Architect Developer Bundle 2019, now discounted by over 90 percent.

Amazonia, February 18, 2019

February 18, 2019

Amazon’s Bezos bulldozer may have driven out of Queens last week. The high profile HQ2 could be on the move. How’s Newark look? Mr. Bezos may be in chess mode, sacrificing one location in order to pull off another Bezos bulldozer maneuver. Other Amazonia which caught our attention is summarized below:

A Mid Life Crisis Moment?

The Telegraph reported that Amazon’s expansion in Saudi Arabia may be lost in the desert. Allegedly there is a “feud” between Mr. Bezos and Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Details are few, but when money is at stake, minor differences can be smoothed by Bezos bulldozers properly equipped. The dust up between Mr. Bezos and Mr. Pecker may have some part to play in this alleged issue related to data centers in the Kingdom. Note: You may have to pay to view the “real” news story.

How Big Is AWS?

Amazon expansion into Saudi Arabia in doubt after feud between Jeff Bezos and Crown Prince

Data about the size of Amazon’s cloud business can be fuzzy. Business Insider, however, has the inside skivvy. AWS is bigger than its next four competitors combined. The number seems to be about $26 billion give or take a few billion. Quartz expresses the size in this way:

Amazon Web Services Brought in More Money Than McDonald’s in 2018.

The source does not covert the revenue to Big Macs, a favorite yardstick of some financial wonks.

Slam Dunk: Team Microsoft’s Defense Fizzles

We noted that Steve Ballmer and his Los Angeles Clippers basketball team pulled off a slam dunk. The Clippers smashed home a deal with Amazon for cloud services with Amazon. News of the deal surfaced on February 15, 2019. Ballmer’s Second Spectrum will use AWS to collect and analyze data. Perhaps Azure’s analytics will allow Team Microsoft to determine what went wrong. More details appear in GeekWire. But keep in mind that Microsoft’s Dynamics Suite is available in the Amazon Web Services Marketplace, according to Customer Think. Mr. Ballmer can dribble over and shoot around with a familiar suite of tools.

Eero: Scary?

Amazon’s acquisition of mesh WiFi devices continues to ripple across the home marketplace.

ZDNet stated:

The initial response to this has been mixed, some industry commentators have even called this acquisition “scary”, fearing that the Seattle-based internet retailer and public cloud provider will use Eero’s devices as a way of hoovering more and more information from its customers, with the intention of selling them more of its products.

The threat is that Amazon will leverage its other assets like its advanced machine learning capabilities and create a unified threat management solution at a very competitive price.

UTM from Amazon might blunt some competitors’ sales success and give AWS another advantage in its policeware capabilities.

Scary? Not for everyone. Just some.

About Those Leaky AWS Buckets

The world’s leading online bookstore has released some tips for AWS customers who want to secure their data. Navigate to “Serving Private Content with Signed URLs and Signed Cookies.” The trick is to use CloudFront urls, not Amazon urls. Hmmm.

Amazon Changing Colors?

The Bezos Bugle (aka the Washington Post) reported that Greenpeace thinks Amazon is “wavering on its commitment to renewable energy.” Here’s the nugget:

The [Greenpeace] report also contends that technology companies, particularly Amazon Web Services, which has rapidly expanded its Northern Virginia presence. need to do more to promote renewable energy sources. Amazon committed to moving to 100 percent renewable energy to run its data centers, but the report contends the company appears to be wavering from its pledge.

Amazon ECR and ECS Gain PrivateLink Support

Not familiar with Amazon acronym mania? ECR is the Electronic Container Registry. ECS is Elastic Customer Service. The PrivateLink is a networking technology “aimed to facilitate access to AWS services in a highly scalable and available way.” The poetic phrase comes from an news report in Infoq. These are administrative tools which, in theory, make AWS much more developer friendly. The source article includes a diagram of the bits and pieces one needs to make use of these Amazon offerings.

More Bare Metal Instances

Amazon introduced five new Amazon EC2 bare metal instances. Storage Review summaries the instances in a helpful table. Each delivers 14 gigabits per second.

New AWS Partner

Amazon does not make it easy to locate its Advanced Technology Partners. Wandisco announced that it is now an ATP partner in the APN or Amazon Web Services Partner Network of APN. Wandisco said:

The Advanced Technology Partner designation is the highest tier for Technology Partners that provide software and internet solutions in the AWS Partner Network. WANdisco achieved its status through a rigorous qualification process, based on referenceable customers on the AWS Platform and strict technical guidelines.

What’s Wandisco offer? The company “can enable organizations to seamlessly move large volumes of data with consistent and continuous availability.” More information is at this Yahoo link. Note that Yahoo links can go dead without warning.

Striim Builds for RedShift

Another Amazon partner is Striim. The company announced that it offerings streaming data pipelines to Amazon Redshift. The idea is that the service can help AWS customers migrate and move enterprise data in real time from a broad range of data sources to Amazon Redshift. The service can speed the adoption of a hybrid cloud architecture running on AWS. More information is available from Yahoo Finance. Note that Yahoo links can go dead without warning.

Become an Amazon AWS Expert

Geek.com reports that you can become a certified Amazon Web services architect for $35.

Ethical Hacking on AWS

The service introduction is not for everyone, but it is an important addition. According to Softpedia News:

If you want to run BackBox Linux in the cloud, on your AWS account, you should know that the ethical hacking operating system is now available on the Amazon Web Services cloud platform as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) virtual appliance that you can install with a few mouse clicks.

This is another useful component in Amazon’s policeware offerings. How robust are these policeware capabilities? Quite robust in the view of DarkCyber.

Amazon Invests in Rivian

Rivian is an electric vehicle start up. Jalopnik reported that Amazon pumped some amount (maybe $700 million) into the company. Jalopnik said:

And it’s hard to say what Amazon would want with electric cars, if you think of Amazon solely as a supply chain and retail enterprise that exists to crush the spirits and bathroom breaks of its workers.

Amazon supports TuSimple, a self driving truck company. The relationship began in 2018.

Google and Amazon: War of Words Escalating?

We noted that former Oracle executive Thomas Kurian sees Amazon AWS as a threat to the online advertising company. The fix may be hiring more Oracle style sales professionals. Fortune does not explain that “Oracle style” sales can be quite interesting, particularly if one is a customer with insecurities. Fortune included this statement in their report about Mr. Kurian’s plans:

An audience member commented to Kurian that for two years, Google has said it is concentrating on building a formidable sales-and-support staff, but that people “haven’t seen signs of change in the market structure.” Kurian responded by saying that Google has increased its spending on sales and support staff by a factor of four over the last three years, although he didn’t cite a specific number. He said that growing a sales force so quickly would be a challenge for any company, but that when he talks to customers, “they feel we have gone a long way.”

The subtext, in DarkCyber’s opinion, is that AWS is a bit of a problem for the online advertising giant. Mr. Kurian wants to respond to customers, an approach which Google has largely found unnecessary for about a quarter century.

Austin: More Amazon and More Traffic

Ah, Austin. The city has street people, traffic congestion, and soon more Amazonians. According to local TV news outlet KVUE:

Amazon said the 25,000 jobs they expected to create in New York will now go to tech hubs and corporate offices across the country, including in Austin.

Note: Local news outlets often take down their stories.

AWS Outposts Coming Later in 2019

SDX Central Confirms AWS Outposts

SDX Center reports that Amazon’s on premises hardware, known as AWS Outposts, will be available later in 2019. The idea is a single on ramp for cloud services. Cisco may team up with Amazon for certain peripherals.

Mildly Humorous Items
  • American Media may pay Amazon to host its online services and data. Source: Geekwire
  • IBM software now runs on Amazon’s cloud. Source: Geekwire
  • Choice Hotels uses both Google and Amazon. Source: Yahoo Finance

Stephen E Arnold, February 18, 2019

Amazonia for February 11, 2019

February 11, 2019

Amazon has been bulldozing away and pushing some jungle undergrowth into the parking lot of major media outlets. Let’s take a quick look at what’s shaking at the electronic bookstore on steroids:

In a New York We May Be Gone

I learned in “Facing Opposition, Amazon Reconsiders NY Headquarters Site, Two Officials Say.” The source? The Washington Post or what some of the DarkCyber researchers call the “Bezos Bugle.” The push back has ranged from allegations of subsidizing a successful company to suggestions that taxpayer money could directly benefit shareholders of Amazon. I learned:

In the past two weeks, the state Senate nominated an outspoken Amazon critic to a state board where he could potentially veto the deal, and City Council members for the second time aggressively challenged company executives at a hearing where activists booed and unfurled anti-Amazon banners. K ey officials, including freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), whose district borders the proposed Amazon site, have railed against the project.

Worth monitoring because if the JEDI deal goes to Microsoft, would Amazon bail out of Virginia?

Indiscreet Pictures and Allegations of Blackmail

Amazon once was a relatively low profile outfit. Then the rocket ships, the Bezos divorce, the JEDI dust up, and now a spat. One headline captures the publicity moment: “Jeff Bezos Says Enquirer Threatened to Publish Revealing Pics.” I don’t want to unzip this allegation. You can expose yourself to the “facts” by running queries on objective search systems like Bing, Google, and Yandex. Alternatively one can turn to the Daily Mail and its full frontal report on this allegedly accurate news story.

Movie Madness

I don’t know anything about the Hollywood movie game. I noted “Woody Allen Sues Amazon for $68 Million for Refusing to Release His Films.” In the context of allegations of blackmail, this adds another facet to the diamond reputation of the humble online bookstore. According to the write up:

Allen blames the studio’s unwillingness to release his films on “a 25-year old, baseless allegation against Mr. Allen” — specifically, Allen’s adopted stepdaughter, Dylan Farrow, telling the world that he sexually assaulted her when she was a child. The suit claims that Farrow’s comments shouldn’t affect the Amazon deal, since the “allegation was already well known to Amazon (and the public) before Amazon entered into four separate deals with Mr. Allen—and, in any event it does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate the contract.”

Amazon is taking a moral stand it seems. Interesting in the context of the blackmail allegations. Another PR coup?

Accounting Methods or Fraud?

The Los Angeles Times reported that some Amazon delivery drivers’ tips were not paid to the drivers as an add on to their pay. The tips were calculated as part of their regular wage. “Where Does a tip to an Amazon Driver Go? In Some Cases, Toward the Driver’s Base Pay” reported:

Amazon guarantees third-party drivers for its Flex program a minimum of $18 to $25 per hour, but the entirety of that payment doesn’t always come from the company. If Amazon’s contribution doesn’t reach the guaranteed wage, the e-commerce giant makes up the difference with tips from customers, according to documentation shared by five drivers.

Is this an accounting method related in some way to Enron’s special purpose entities? But in the context of blackmail and a legal battle with Woody Allen, I am not sure how to interpret the LA Times’ report if it is accurate.

Amazon and Facial Recognition

Amazon has thrown some support behind the idea that facial recognition systems may require a bit of regulation. I learned about this interest in “Amazon Weighs In on Potential Legislative Framework for Facial Recognition.” The idea is that responsible use of facial recognition technology may be a good idea. The write up stated:

…Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a study that found Rekognition, Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) object detection API, failed to reliably determine the sex of female and darker-skinned faces in specific scenarios.

Image recognition systems do vary in accuracy. The fancy lingo is outside the scope of this week’s write up. Examples of errors are interesting, particularly when systems confuse humans with animals or identify a person as a malefactor when that individual is an individual of sterling character. Eighty percent accuracy is a pretty good score in my experience. Stated another way, a system making 20 mistakes per 100 outputs is often close enough for horseshoes. A misidentified individual may have another point of view.

Alexa Gets a New Skill

The Digital Reader reported that you can now have Alexa play a choose your own adventure audiobook. Amazon wants to make sure it has a grip on the emerging trend of “interactive fiction.” Perfect for the mobile phone, zip zip zip reader.

Baby Activity API

The engineers at Amazon have chopped another trail through the digital jungle. Programmable Web reported that Amazon’s new baby activity skill API let parents track infant data hands free. Parents should be able to track their baby’s data. Are third parties tracking the infant as well? The write up states:

The new API includes several pre-built interfaces for tracking specific data points, including Weight, Sleep, DiaperChange, and InfantFeeding. Amazon plans to continue adding to these interfaces in hopes of streamlining integration.

If a third party were to have access to these data, combining the baby data with other timeline data might yield some useful items of information at some point in the future. Behavioral cues, purchases, social interactions, and videos watched could provide useful insights to an analyst.

More Live Streaming and a Possible Checkmate for QVC

Amazon Live Is the Retailer’s Latest Effort to Take on QVC with Live Streamed Video” states:

Amazon is taking on QVC with the launch of Amazon Live, which features live-streamed video shows from Amazon talent as well as those from brands that broadcast their own live streams through a new app, Amazon Live Creator.

Will the Twitch model work for remarkable products like super exclusive Tanzanite? QVC may try to compete. DarkCyber believes that effort would tax the shopping channel in several ways. Some cloud pros might suggest putting QVC offering on a cloud service. Will AWS make the short list?

 Amazon Space

Atlantic reported that the electronic bookstore “has 288M sq. ft. of warehouses, offices, retail stores, and data centers.”

Quite an Amazon-scale week.

Stephen E Arnold, February 11, 2019

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