Amazonia for June 17, 2019

June 17, 2019

With travel and a crazy eye doctor appointment, Amazonia snagged a handful of highlights. Enjoy the bulldozer’s path from 30,000 feet.

Amazon Is Okay with a Break Up

DarkCyber noted an interesting report from CNBC. One DarkCyber research professional thought this announcement was a green light for regulators to create one or more additional Fortune 100 companies by dismantling some of the Bezos bulldozer’s accessories. CNBC reported as “real” news:

Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon’s cloud business, said Monday that, although he doesn’t see clear benefits for Amazon Web Services spinning off from the rest of the company, if the U.S. government were to force that move, then Amazon would have to comply.

The information flowed from an interview with talk overs from Kara Swisher, who has become the “voice” of Silicon Valley deep thinkers. The story also included these statements:

Jassy has often been asked if Amazon could be planning to separate AWS and turn it into its own business. Historically, Jassy has said no. On Monday he said he still felt there were no major obvious advantages to such a move. He added that customers should not want it to happen because having to do things like hold earnings calls could distract from more important tasks such as keeping cloud services functioning at a high level.

Does Amazon Record Children via Alexa?

An interesting write up appeared in Gizmodo. Online news, of course, may not be “real,” but you can decide for yourself. Just read “Lawsuits Claim Amazon’s Alexa Voice Assistant Illegally Records Children Without Consent.” The write up states:

the complaint argues that Amazon saves “a permanent recording of the user’s voice” as well as records and transmits clips of anything said after Alexa’s “wake word” is uttered. It also claims that Alexa neither informs users that these permanent recordings will be created nor bothers to ask for their consent beforehand…

DarkCyber will monitor this allegation.

Amazon Is Fine with Regulating Facial Recognition

Phys.org reported:

Amazon has joined the ranks of other technology companies, including Microsoft and Google, in acknowledging the risks of facial-recognition software and calling on the federal government to impose national regulations on the technology.

Amazon Financial Shifts into Low Gear

In my Amazon Policeware lectures, I talk about the way in which financial information “snaps in” to services for government authorities. Think in terms of IRS investigations, credit and background checks, and similar services delivered from GovCloud. Against this background, consider Amazon’s new credit card. The Amazon bulldozer’s push is for people with poor credit who want and need an Amazon credit card. Once the territory of the Vanilla pre-paid bank card and similar “financial” services, the Amazon offering is significant. Marketwatch stated:

Like many other retail cards, however, the Amazon Credit Build card can only be used for Amazon purchases, making it a “closed-loop” card.

Seems like a drawback, right? Maybe not. Individuals with poor credit are often difficult to profile like a high net worth Silicon Valley one percenter. The card has hooks to Amazon Prime, a useful way to obtain information about certain card users’ video viewing preferences.

The article points out:

“Secured credit cards are my favorite cards for folks who are getting started with credit or rebuilding it,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards.com. “They’re a great training-wheels card because there’s so little risk involved. After all, with typical credit lines of $200 or $250, there’s only so wild you can go with your spending.”

DarkCyber sees this one more interesting option bolted to the Bezos bulldozer. Unlike some of Amazon’s efforts in food delivery and operating in a “green” manner, this credit card play will be a useful probe for Amazon. If successful, perhaps after the bulldozer blazes a new trail, additional financial services will take root?

Amazon’s Blink XT2 Goes Dark

The Verge reported that the Amazon phone’s demons haunt the XT2. The XT2 is a video camera which garnered “mixed reviews.” Amazon wants love, gentle reader. As a result:

Amazon has temporarily stopped taking orders for the Blink XT2 smart camera that it launched last month. The XT2, which is Blink’s first new camera since Amazon acquired the company, is listed as “currently unavailable” for purchase. That applies to all configurations, including the single camera and multicamera kits. The Verge has reached out to Amazon for comment. Best Buy, which also carries the new camera, simply lists it as “coming soon”online, but some people have been able to buy it at their local stores.

The Blink XT2 may return. Amazon is still selling the Amazon Cloud Cam to Ring’s smart camera lineup. And DeepLens? Not mentioned in the write up.

Amazon’s Food Home Delivery Choked Out

Geekwire reported that Amazon has shut down its food delivery business. DarkCyber has never used Amazon’s or another other food delivery service. The fact that Amazon has offered the service since 2015 was “real” news for us. The service started in Seattle and then became available in more than 20 US cities and London, according to Geekwire. The write up points out:

The closure of Amazon Restaurants after investing serious time and money in the service is a rare retreat from the e-commerce behemoth.

As Amazon “dabbled,” Geekwire notes:

Uber Eats, which launched more than three years ago and is live in 500 cities globally, generated $1.46 billion in revenue last year, up from $587 million in 2017, and brought in $536 million during the first quarter of 2019…. Grubhub, meanwhile, saw revenues reach $324 million for the first quarter, up 39 percent year-over-year, though its operating margin dipped by more than 10 percent, The Motley Fool noted.

For Amazon’s competitors failure may be a delightful Amazon take away.

Amazon Personalize for Everyone

ClickZ likes Amazon’s personalize service. The article “Amazon’s Famed Recommendation Service Personalize Now Available to Every Application” uses the adjective “famed.” Famed? The write up states:

To utilize this personalization-as-a-service, a publisher provides an activity stream from an application, which can include such data as clicks, page views, signups or purchase history – along with info on the products to be recommended, such as products, videos, songs or articles. Additional user info, including demographic or geographic data, can also be included. AWS said the supplied data is kept private and secure, and only used for that application’s recommendations. The service selects the most appropriate algorithms, trains a personalized machine learning model that is designed for the data, and then hosts and manages the model as it provides the recommendations via an API call. Application owners can control the service through the AWS console, and billing is only for the amount of the service used, with no minimums or upfront fees.

If you want to read Amazon’s own explanation of its announcement, navigate to this link.

But “famed”?

Amazon and Blockchain

The UK insurance outfit Legal and General will use Amazon’s blockchain system for its bulk annuities business. Bulk annuities are what makes some UK pensions tick. “UK Insurer Legal & General Picks Amazon for First Pensions Blockchain Deal” reported:

L&G is only launching the blockchain platform for bulk annuity business outside its core markets of Britain and the United States, although an L&G spokesman said the platform could be extended to those two markets in future.

Amazon’s unique selling proposition is that the insurance company can focus on building new business, not keeping a blockchain up and running.

Another brick in the Amazon bulldozer policeware parking garage? Maybe?

George Mason, Yep, George Mason’s Cloud Degree

DarkCyber thinks this news story, overlooked by “real” media,” is important. The Business Journals reported on June 11, 2019, that the Bezos bulldozer dropped off some Amazon professionals at George Mason University. After talk and pizzas, the university favored by some government types, and Amazon had a deal. Student can enroll in George Mason (for example, some Department of Defense professionals, and after four years of study emerge with a four year cloud computing degree. Some of these cloud savvy professionals will return to the US government and others will join the consulting firms which serve the US government. DarkCyber believes that the cloud service the graduates will be able to make work is AWS. “Amazon Web Services Partners with George Mason on 4 Year Degree Program” states:

The announcement comes a year after AWS rolled out a cloud curriculum-based associate degree program at Northern Virginia Community College.

Amazon is also pumping in $3 million for housing.

Amazon explained it this way:

NOVA and Mason faculty worked with AWS Educate curriculum designers to create a BAS degree path that will equip students with technical skills and hands-on experiences to help prepare them for careers in cloud architecture, cybersecurity, software development, and DevOps. The degree pathway will be launched in fall 2020 as part of the ADVANCE program, the NOVA/Mason partnership that streamlines the path to a four-year degree and entry into the workforce by eliminating traditional transfer obstacles, providing students with additional coaching and financial incentives, and highlighting pathways to high-demand careers. The degree program will be backwards-mapped to in-demand skills along with competency-based credentials required by AWS and other cloud employers. All students will receive membership in the AWS Educate program and gain hands-on, real-world experience with leading cloud technology and tools.

As Yoda may have said, “Plan ahead, young JEDI. Cyber warriors need we soon.”

DarkCyber expects similar deals with NOVA and other nearby universities. We also want to point out that the bulldozer is pushing AWS cloud into community colleges and pre-college education. Computer Weekly reports:

Amazon Web Services joins forces with Career College Trust to create cloud course that will prepare students for entry-level tech jobs or further education at university

And if the money and support are insufficient, Amazon rolled out new badges for student who learn AWS RoboMaker, AWS Sumerian, and AWS Deep Racer. The RoboMaker badge is for creating robots to replace inefficient humanoids. the Sumerian badge is a virtual reality play. The DeepRacer badge is for racing virtual cars on virtual tracks. The game angle is a good way to interest young, hungry minds.

Amazon AWS Fees: Know Before You Sign

DarkCyber wants to point out that the complexity of Amazon’s services are equaled and perhaps outdone by Amazon’s pricing structures. “AWS Costs Every Programmer Should Know” is a useful write up. The article includes information for compute and storage, which often comprise the bulk of the customer attention. DarkCyber believes that similar analyses would be useful for the numerous other services Amazon makes available. Amazon’s pricing complexity and its different approaches to assigning fees to services is a bit of digital left overs. Like the company’s “two pizza teams,” the pricing appears and becomes part of the system. It is possible for a customer to sign up for a service and then forget to disable or simply forget that it was a for fee deal. The Amazon billing system keeps on chugging along. Thus, scope out the costs and think about the bumps in fees when thresholds for data, transaction, or some other operation are crossed. Like the AT&T of old, certain thresholds can add significant amounts to a monthly invoice. And like Ma Bell, the time machine approach to bill adjustments is not 100 percent efficient.

Partners and Resellers

The companies may not be household names, but Amazon is signing up partners and resellers. Selected deals this week:

Information Builders will create and deliver health care data management from the AWS cloud. Source: Yahoo

Pulumi has set up shop to selling “how to” services to future AWS customers. Source: Geekwire

SAIC is now a premier consulting partner for Amazon AWS.

VMware and AWS continue their UK push. The NHS deal is one facet of the plan. The article said: “Last year, VMware extended its public sector commitment by announcing VMware Cloud on AWS GovCloud, a hybrid cloud service designed to enable public sector agencies in the U.S. to leverage a common cloud infrastructure.” Source: Silicon Angle

Stephen E Arnold, June 17, 2019

Amazonia for June 10, 2019

June 10, 2019

Grind. Grind. Grind. This is the sound of the Amazon bulldozer. It complements the buzz of the Amazon delivery drone. Enjoy news of the world’s favorite online book store.

FedEx Express: Not for Amazon

Jeff Bezos got fired. by FedEx. A tough message to accept from FedEx’s MBAs.

FedEx, despite its confidence in Amazon as a customer, seems to be doing a rethink. “FedEx Will No Longer Provide Express Shipping for Amazon in the US” revealed that the company conceived in an MBA class:

decided not to renew its express U.S. shipping contract with Amazon. The company said in a statement that it was a “strategic decision” and that the change won’t affect other existing contracts with Amazon, including international shipping.

With Amazon refurbing the Cincinnati / Covington airport (a bit of a white elephant), FedEx is edging toward the realization that Amazon wants some or all of FedEx’s business. DarkCyber once used FedEx several times a week. I can’t recall the last time I sent or received a FedEx envelope. The deal affects air deliveries, but when Amazon rolls out its smart electric delivery devices, FedEx may have to check out another MBA class, but even these are becoming unattractive. Students find that many courses are taught by worn shoe types or are no longer offered. Imagine. An MBA taking a class in ethics. When it has to absolutely, positively get there overnight, we use email or just wait for the Amazon delivery. We received a surprise same day delivery. That’s speedy. DarkCyber has to instruct Amazon to deliver on certain days to make sure there is someone around to collect the box. The cute but invasive magic door bell does not ding dong for us.

Amazon Usurps the Sidewalks of Suburbia

Not really. More accurately, not yet. “How Amazon’s Delivery Robots Will Navigate Your Sidewalk” explains that cute, rolling breadboxes with six wheels, will delivery products to customers. How the little cute breadboxes will get up steps, enter apartments, avoid testosterone fueled teens, street robbers, old people who push the machines into the gutter with their electric wheelchairs, and other assorted actions is not clear. Assume that the breadbox does trundle up in front of a dwelling. How does the package get from the Amazon wheeled vehicle to the consumer. Will a couple of disgruntled youth baseball players carrying aluminum bats vent their frustration on the cute but smart vehicles? Interesting idea. I wonder if Amazon spends much time checking out the real world.

Amazon Embraces Diversity

CNBC, a surprising news source, revealed that the “elite S Team” has a new member. Before you ask, “Who?”, it is Rick DeSantis. Mr. DeSantis has worked in the jungle for more than 20 years. DeSantis has held various engineering positions, but he’s best known for helping launch Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), the cloud service that lets other businesses offload much of their data center needs to Amazon. He joins 18 other Amazon chieftains. This band of elite individuals make key business decisions. How many women are members of the S team? Guess. [a] one, [b] one, [c] one. Time’s up.  Amazon suggests that it is into diversity. There are, after all, four women among the top 48 Amazon executives.

Amazon Telephone & Telegraph

NoJitter provides more information about Amazon’s communications initiative. “AWS Gets Serious about Cloud Communications” explains that Chime unified communications or UC in phone lingo is getting more beef. Among the enhancements are speech analytics, including translation capabilities. The article explains:

The Amazon Chime updates revolve around broader voice capabilities. Chime already has rich chat, meetings, and collaboration features. Now AWS is adding two new features. The first is business calling capabilities that enable users to place and receive calls and text messages in more than 100 countries directly from the Chime desktop application, mobile client, or Web interface. Callers can use the integrated keypad or click or tap to call on a Chime contact. Incoming calls will ring wherever a user is logged in, so if a worker has the desktop app and mobile client logged in, it will simultaneously ring on both devices. The addition of native calling puts AWS in the competitive crosshairs of all the UCaaS vendors. In addition, the company is trying to disrupt the market by changing the pricing model. Instead of pre-paying per user, businesses only pay for the minutes used. Administrators can provision as many phone numbers as they need to but only pay for calls made. If a worker makes no calls on a number in a particular month, the business isn’t charged. There are no minimum fees or long-term contracts.

Are AT&T, T Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon listening? Why should they? The Motley Fool has spelled out four reasons why Amazon is not into the telephone business. And the reasons? Well, being a phone company is expensive. Second, Amazon will focus on drones autonomous vehicles. Third, telcos are low margin businesses. (Groceries apparently are not, DarkCyber concludes.) Finally, the crack regulatory legal eagles would block that sort of move. NoJitter? Obviously unrelated.

UAW Banking Work: Off the Radar for a Reason

Amazon Teams with Emirates NBD to streamline banking services. This is an important announcement. Amazon is applying its technology outside the US. At some point, the services will find their way to other countries. What services can Amazon offer as a financial partner? Credit checks, anyone? Supplementary data for tax purposes? Source: Marketwatch

High Street Could Become Low Street

Amazon Sellers to Hit UK High Streets in Year Long Pop Up Pilot” makes it clear that Amazon is testing the robustness of High Street vendors. A “high street” is a row of shops selling everything from UK food faves like McVitie’s biscuits to a washing machine the size of a bread box in my grandmother’s kitchen.

According to the write up:

Internet shopping has been blamed for boarding up high streets across the UK. So it looks politically judicious for Amazon, the original ecommerce behemoth, to now be attaching its brand name to a pilot project aimed at sparking a little commercial life in denuded UK towns and cities by parachuting online SMEs into pop-up shops around the country.

DarkCyber sees the test as way for Amazon to figure out how to capture more UK shoppers’ money. If the test works, the high streets may be renamed Baja Close. Will an Amazon pop up merchant offer gilded lilies?

Amazon Channels Sears’ DIY Houses

Amazon Is Selling Entire Houses for Less than $20,000 — with Free Shipping” reports that Amazon is embracing the past. Even though the Bezos bulldozer crushed dear, old Sears & Roebuck, Amazon’s canny executives flipped through a dead tree catalog from the now moribund mail order company and found inspiration.

This is the Amazon five star Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit | 540 SQF + Loft (Triple Glass Windows and Doors) for $33,990 and free shipping. Like the original Sears’ customers are do it yourselfers. But some people will want to have expertise in handling trivial tasks like plumbing, electrical work, and the site preparation. Basic skills.

image

Amazon’s search system makes it tough to locate these products. Persevere or write us at darkcyber333 at yandex dot com. We can help, but we do charge money. Payment in Amazon fractional “points” is not accepted at this time. In case you don’t recall the printed Sears’s catalog from 1908, here’s what one of its house ads looked like:

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What happens if Amazon bundles a house building service with its kit? Sounds like a possible play if the tiny houses sell.

Vroom. NASCAR Selects the Amazon Cloud: No Rain Days

Yahoo, a go to source for big time news, reported that NASCAR picked Amazon as its cloud provider. DarkCyber learned:

AWS has been selected by National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) as its cloud-based machine learning and artificial intelligence workload provider. This highlights the power and reliability of AWS services.

NASCAR and artificial intelligence plus automobile racing videos. What will SageMaker discover?

Ama-Drones Aloft

Techcrunch reports:

It’s an ingenious hexagonal hybrid design, though, that has very few moving parts and uses the shroud that protects its blades as its wings when it transitions from vertical, helicopter-like flight at takeoff to its airplane-like mode.

image

DarkCyber call it an Ama-Drone. Some may prefer this type of design dating from the mid 2000s, however.

Snap and Buy

Fancy someone’s duds? Now you can take a picture on your mobile phone and Amazon will find the product or a near match. You can then buy it. Why spend time selecting clothes or doing the hunter-gatherer procedure. Source: The Verge

Alexa: Talk and Apps

Why search? Talk and use Alexa apps. Typing is so yesterday. Smart software and speech recognition with a dash of personalized data analysis. Magic. Source: Wired

Amazon: A Top Artificial Intelligence Company

According to Datamation, Amazon is the number four AI company. Keep in mind that this is an alphabetical list. The write up states:

The online retail giant offers both consumer and business-oriented AI products and services and many of its professional AI services are built on consumer products. Amazon Echo brings artificial intelligence into the home through the intelligent voice server, Alexa. For AWS, the company has three primary services: Lex, a business version of Alexa, Polly, which turns text to speech, and Rekognition, an image recognition service.

Partners and Integrators
  • AnythingIT. We’re not sure we know how one recovers cloud assets. Nevertheless, the company doe it with Amazon. Source: Finanzen
  • CrowdMachine offers ASW to its customers. CloudMachine eliminates complexity and brings data to life. Source: Host Review
  • Cruz Street is an Amazon QuickSight provider. Source: Digital Journal
  • Ricoh has expanded its relationship with Amazon. Source: Business Insider’s Market Insider. (Note that you may have to pay to read the story.)
  • ScaleGrid can now handle “bring your own cloud” to the new computing paradigm which is timesharing sort of. Source: Yahoo
  • Lemongrass Consulting is able to do SAP things in the Amazon cloud. Source: Virtual Strategy
  • McAfee (not the fellow staying out of the spotlight except when he is not) will add security to the Amazon AWS cloud. Not a moment too son, we think. Source: Yahoo
  • Modiface allows a mobile user to try on a new lipstick. Source: Chain Store Age
  • Tripwire is in the Amazon jungle. Source: Yahoo
  • Northwest Vista College is an Amazon “teach ‘em to code the Bezos way.” Move along, code doggies. Source: Yahoo

Stephen E Arnold, June 10, 2019

Amazonia for June 3, 2019

June 3, 2019

Many companies are shifting down for the summer months. Not Amazon. The online bookstore slowed its flow of announcements about often confusing Amazon Web Services. DarkCyber noted a few interesting announcements in the last week.

Amazon’s Net Nanny

According to Jeff Bezos’ newspaper, Jeff Bezos will have a net nanny. The idea is that the Federal Trade Commission will keep its eye on the Bezos bulldozer’s GPS coordinates. “Amazon Could Face Heightened Antitrust Scrutiny Under a New Agreement Between U.S. Regulators” reported:

The FTC’s plans for Amazon and the Justice Department’s interest in Google are not immediately clear. But the kind of arrangement brokered between the Justice Department and the FTC typically presages more serious antitrust scrutiny, the likes of which many Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have sought out of fear that tech companies have become too big and powerful.

The lobbyists may have some inputs to provide to assorted government and Beltway professionals. Plus, there’s that JEDI contract. DarkCyber will monitor this interesting, but long-time-coming activity. European regulators have been a bit more spry.

Zero Gravity, Zero Friction: The Payoff from Amazon Advertising

What’s cheaper to deliver now that most of the digital infrastructure is in place? [a] Merchandise or [b] Advertising? The correct answer is [b] Advertising. How does Amazon move in to the ad territory occupied by a soon-to-be-investigated Google? [a] Chop merchants who don’t make Amazon a hefty profit or [b] Buy a company with better ad tech than Amazon currently has? The correct answer is [b] Buy a better ad mousetrap. The tip off is Amazon’s alleged purchase of Sizmek, a hippy dippy spelling of “seismic.” Very hip. According to this report from the surprisingly useful CNBC Web site:

The deal will bring an ad server, which is a tool to actually place advertisements around the web, to Amazon. It will also give Amazon “dynamic creative,” which is an industry term for ads tailored to a consumer’s data. For instance, it could help make ads that are tailored depending on geographical region, stock prices or even the local weather. Sizmek filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March.

Amazon knows how to chase down a deal. Ah, the GOOG. After years of unfettered excitement, the machinery in Washington lurches forward.

Amazon Telephone & Telegraph

Item is in the Friday, May 31, 2019, DarkCyber at this link.

Amazon’s Clever Little Pre Wake Word

Does Amazon listen to what ifs smart home devices capture? Not sure, but we do know that Amazon wants to have the ability to turn its smart home devices into bugs (listening and surveillance devices). The idea matches seamlessly with the company’s recruiting of a local news editor and some other bits and pieces of the Amazon policeware system. You can read “Pre Wake Word Processing” (US20190156818) at this link. DarkCyber loves the use of the phrase “pre wake” for surveillance.

 Amazon’s Smart Software

Amazon has smart software. One chunk is SageMaker. The fact that some of Amazon’s artificial intelligence cannot spot illegally streamed commercial films and TV shows suggests that artificial intelligence is more easily marketed than implemented in an effective way. Nevertheless, Amazon has added Textract, a name which actually makes it possible to associate the service with its moniker. SageMaker and other smart software needs properly structured content to teach the numerical recipes how to be smart. The idea behind Textract is a, according to Analytics India:

service said to be more than just an optical character recognition algorithm, as it can parse data tables, whole pages, forms, scans, PDFs, photos, and more. Moreover, it also identifies fields and tables, so as to contextualize the data and allow for the collection of cleaner datasets with deeper insights.

Google has filed patents for its smart content acquisition system. Just run queries for R. Guha and A. Halevy (now a Xoogler). Why’s this important? Perhaps Amazon is eager to reduce the cost and time required to make smart software smarter and build the type of datasets which the US Navy covets; for example, 350 billion social media and open source content objects. That’s just for two years of data? There are more years of data to acquire, extract, and analyze. Sounds like something that GovCloud might provide its users.

Amazon’s Smart Software

Amazon’s head of Amazon’s marketing talked about artificial intelligence at an Informatica conference. (I know marketing.) We noted this statement in Silicon Angle: “What we’re trying to do is communicate to the world how our customers are being successful using our technology, specifically machine-learning and AI. It’s one of those things where so many companies want to do it, but they say, “Well, what am I supposed to use it for?” If you dumb down what marketing is at AWS, it’s inspiring people about what they can run in the cloud with AWS. What use cases they should consider us for, and then we spend a lot of energy giving them the technical education they need, so they can be successful using our products. At the end of the day, we make money when our customers are successful using our products.” Yep, marketing.

Amazon Twitch

News is becoming to find its way into open sources. The game video streaming service appears to be struggling with governance. Specifically, individuals are using the service to post content which is protected by copyright. Amazon’s smart software and its professionals are working overtime to get the real time streaming under control. For more information, you can contact us at darkcyber333 at yandex dot com or read this Verge story.

Mai Oui, Amazon

According to Data Center Dynamics, Amazon is gearing up to put a data center in Brétigny-Sur-Orge, France. If you are not up to speed on French towns soon to be absorbed into Paris, the data center will be about 15 miles from the Louvre. For the rush hour commuter, this translates to about one hour by automobile. Yes, the traffic is bad.

Amazon: Real Time Communications

Ribbon is a company selling software which performs a number of functions once exclusively the domain of the “old” AT&T. The company announced that its Session Border Controller Software Edition (SWe) is available via the Amazon Marketplace. The AWS Quick Start for Ribbon SBC SWe has been built specifically for AWS. What does SBC do? The company said: “The Ribbon SBC SWe has been optimized for AWS to provide advanced security, while supporting high capacity requirements, for real-time, multimedia Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) traffic. Additionally, Ribbon’s SBC SWe delivers carrier-class redundancy to ensure service continuity; is deployable on multiple cloud environments; provides industry-leading media transcoding using GPUs to scale for high-density transcoding; and is certified for Microsoft Phone System Direct Routing, Skype for Business, Lync 2013 and Lync 2010.” To simplify, think telephone company services via Amazon. Source: PRNewswire

Amazon Financial

Few people think about Amazon in the context of banking. No problem, but DarkCyber believes that Amazon may have designs on some traditional financial services as it expands its crypto currency capabilities. Cryptonewsz reported that Amazon has extended its support for Amazon Aelf Enterprise, which is the alleged “first cross chain blockchain.” The idea is that blockchains are data silos. Aelf and Amazon are changing that. The service is likely to be of interest to companies like Netflix which seeks to ensure user privacy and limit piracy. The service may appeal to vendors of policeware who want a way to make sense of multiple blockchains used by a single bad actor. Are there implications for other Amazon financial services? Good question.

Amazon and Manufacturing

Amazon sells electronic books and it enables traditional manufacturing. The Bezos bulldozer can pull some different loads in its AWS tractor-trailer. Arcweb reports that Amazon has showcased more than two dozen manufacturing services available on AWS. “Amazon Web Services (AWS) Showcases 25 Products & Services for Manufacturing” states: “Is AWS in manufacturing? Yes, they are.” The write up lists the services, so you will have to consult the source for the other 20:

  • Amazon Kinesis lets you easily collect, process, and analyze video and data streams in real time
  • Amazon Timestream is a fast, scalable, fully managed time series database service for IoT and operational applications that makes it easy to store and analyze trillions of events per day at 1/10th the cost of relational databases.
  • Amazon AppStream 2.0 is a fully managed application streaming service. You centrally manage your desktop applications on AppStream 2.0 and securely deliver them to any computer.
  • Amazon Athena is an interactive query service that makes it easy to analyze data in Amazon S3 using standard SQL. Athena is serverless, so there is no infrastructure to manage, and you pay only for the queries that you run.
  • Amazon QuickSight is a fast, cloud-powered business intelligence service that makes it easy to deliver insights to everyone in your organization.

There’s a useful diagram as well.

Partners and Resellers

DarkCyber wants to point out that Computer Reseller News, now CRN, published a slideshow with each slide providing a thumbnail about products and services from 20 Amazon AWS partners. No, we did not make it through the 20 slides, but we did deduce that there are AWS partners who want media coverage even if it is in the form of a clunky slideshow. See the show at this link.

Interesting tie ups appeared this week:

  • Clevertap is now an Amazon digital customer experience provider. Source: Business Insider
  • Dash Solutions has achieved AWS healthcare competency status. Source: Business Insider
  • Infocyte. This vendor of proactive threat detection and instant incident response announced the availability of Infocyte HUNT Cloud for Amazon Web Services . The company says that it agentless deployment through AWS APIs and artificial intelligence by leveraging AWS CloudTrail, Source: Dark Reading
Need Help Migrating an App to AWS?

Help is available. Navigate to “So You’re Thinking about Moving a Legacy Application to AWS.” The write up explains the process. You may need to do some additional research if the breezy list of things to think about does not help you.

Amazon Policeware Conference

A glimpse of some of Amazon’s policeware capabilities will make their appearance at the Re:Inforce conference. More details about this event are at this Amazon link. There will be partners doing demonstrations. Attendees can play capture the flag Amazon style. Hydration breaks will be available. Some Amazon warehouse workers may be pleased to note.

Stephen E Arnold, June 3, 2019

Amazonia, May 27, 2019

May 27, 2019

DarkCyber’s review of the Amazon news in the last seven days reveals an uptick in the critical tone in some of the open source commentary about the company. In addition to watching what Amazon says, DarkCyber will note what those writing about the company highlight. Note that the Amazonia for Monday, June 3, 2019, will be an abbreviated run down. Most of teh DarkCyber team will be at the TechnoSecurity conference.

Senator Questions Amazon Privacy

CNet reported that Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware and member of the judiciary committee, has asked Amazon for information about the privacy methods for Amazon’s Echo. As information about alleged data retention and use of recorded conversations swirls through open source channels, Amazon may find itself subject to “Facebook think.” Is Amazon a data analysis company in addition to an online bookstore? Amazon has been able to dodge some of the scrutiny directed at certain social media companies. The Bezos bulldozer could be mired in investigations and subject to fines in the US and elsewhere if these “questions” morph into hearings, investigations, and other legal mechanisms.

You may want to download US 20190156818, a patent which allows Alexa to record before a customer says the “Alexa” word. Privacy?

AWS Share Prices Dip, Prices for AWS Seem to Go Down Too

There is probably no correlation between a dip in Amazon’s share price and the price changes explained in “Announcing the New Pricing Plan for AWS Config Rules.” The blog post said:

Effective August 1st, 2019, AWS Config rules will switch to a new pay-per-use pricing model, lowering the bill for almost all existing AWS Config rules customers. AWS Config helps you assess and maintain compliance over your AWS resource configurations.

The pay per use approach appears to be a benefit in the form of a cost reduction. DarkCyber wants to point out that AWS pricing can be complicated. What appears to be a deal may turn out that for a certain class of customers, the new pricing may add to some costs.

Business2Community has published tips for reducing AWS costs.

Amazon Pushes Forward with Facial Recognition Technology

Criticism of facial recognition continues in the US. TechCrunch reported that Amazon shareholders have voted down two proposals to terminate its sale of Rekognition to government customers.

TechCrunch said:

The resolutions failed despite an effort by the ACLU to back the measures, which the civil liberties group accused the tech giant of being “non-responsive” to privacy concerns.

Unless management actions can curtail employee and shareholder grousing about the direction of Amazon’s policeware initiatives, Amazon could find itself at risk from push back from those upon whom the company depends.

Business Insider provides some information about the Amazon complaints related to the sales of services and products to what is called “big oil.”

Amazon’s management actions may curtail the growth of the company despite the lax regulatory environment in which the firm thrives.

The Kindle Support Chinese

Engadget reports that the Amazon book reading and “baby tablet” Kindle devices now su9pport “traditional Chinese books.” We learned:

Amazon has launched a portal in the Kindle store with 20,000 Traditional Chinese titles you can download, including translations of popular books like George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series. You can now also self-publish eBooks written in the characters through Kindle Direct Publishing.

The service is supported worldwide.

Amazon Satellites

If you need tips to use Amazon satellites, you may not be the informed customers the online bookstore seeks. Nevertheless, information appears in the 247 Wall Street write up “Why Amazon Is Now Giving AWS Users Access to Its Satellites.” DarkCyber thought the idea was revenue and getting customers to pay part of Amazon’s increasing infrastructure and technical debt costs. The write up states:

sing AWS Ground Station, customers can save up to 80% of their ground station costs by paying for antenna access time on demand, and they can rely on AWS Ground Station’s growing global footprint of ground stations to downlink data when and where they need it.

An Amazon official is quoted as saying:

The goal of AWS Ground Station is to make space communications ubiquitous and to make ground stations simple and easy to use, so that more organizations can derive insights from satellite data to help improve life on Earth and embark on deeper exploration and discovery in space.

At this time DarkCyber understands that two ground stations are now active. DarkCyber sticks with the cost and revenue interpretation of Amazon satellites.

Amazon AWS Is Ready for Bigger Data

Geekwire reports that an Amazon AWS executive revealed that the online bookstore is ready for bigger data. The write up quotes the Amazon professional as saying:

“The explosion of data is going to be beyond what we’ve ever seen before…cloud customers really need new and powerful tools to unlock the potential of that data.”

Not many details, but it is good to know that Amazon can handle the JEDI contract if the firms wins that deal.

Partners and Resellers

More remarkable vendor names as the roster of AWS specialists continues to swell.

  • Advertity says that it “has achieved Amazon Web Services competency for digital customer experience. Source: Yahoo
  • Agilisium says that it is now okayed to sell Amazon’s QuickSight Service. (QuickSight is Amazon speak for analytics.) Source: Yahoo
  • BAE Systems, operator of NetReveal (Detica) has been deemed “competent” for creating applications for US government clouds. This is important because BAE is one of the go-to providers of intelware in the UK, US, and elsewhere. Source: Marketwatch
  • CapGemini, a consulting firm, is actively selling engagements to move SAP installations to the AWS cloud. Source: Yahoo
  • Informatica wants to apply smart software to the task of moving large amounts of data to the AWS cloud. The line up of Information services is available at this AWS Marketplace  location. Informatica has a similar capability with the Google Cloud. Betting on more than one horse? Yes.
  • modelizeIT is now an Amazon Advanced Tier Technology Partner. Source: Marketsinsider
  • Northwest Vista College has become the first Amazon Web Services academy in South Central Texas. The idea is to train future Amazon savvy coders. Source: Yahoo

Stephen E Arnold, May 27, 2019

Amazonia for May 20, 2019

May 20, 2019

The Amazon machine is grinding along. We noted these items from the last seven days’ marketing exhaust.

Amazon Covets Covington, Kentucky

Geekwire’s reported that Amazon plans to use the white elephant airport near Cincinnati as a hub for its air freight delivery business. The Prime Air Hub requires an initial investment of $1.5 billion. The hub will accommodate 100 airplanes. Kentucky, like other Amazon suitors, ponied up $45 million in incentives.

DarkCyber believes that FedEx (Memphis) and UPS (Louisville) may face some headwinds as the Amazon Prime operation picks up steam. The Amazon bulldozer cuts new paths, and it is possible that some of these will cross the paths of these two and other air freight competitors. UPS may have less “economies” to squeeze in its operations. FedEx continues to ponder the impact of email on those once lucrative overnight deliveries for fast trackers.

It’s worth noting that Amazon is headed toward another facet of the shipping business if the information in “Amazon Jumps Into Freight Brokerage” is accurate. The article states:

Amazon.com has jumped into the market of the third-party logistics broker, roiling the waters and raising concern that the Seattle-based e-commerce giant could disrupt the freight industry forever and indelibly. Amazon’s new freight-hauling site — located at freight.Amazon.com — has been up and running since August 2018, but it went largely unnoticed by media until early May, when The Wall Street Journal and others reported on Amazon’s entry into the market. Reports noted Amazon was offering “beta service” full truckload hauling in dry vans. The service is available for pickups in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Amazon Embraces Semi-Abandoned Malls Too

A report in Inc. Magazine explains

Amazon is now moving into precisely those derelict malls. Why? To use the space for its vast and, some might say heartless, fulfillment centers.

Once people visited malls. Perhaps Amazon trucks with the happy face will deliver products to people.

Amazon-a-Roo

The Inquirer noted that Amazon twice tried to acquire the food delivery outfit Deliveroo. Those flopped. Amazon’s response? Invest. Amazon is part of a $575 million funding round for the company. The company’s funding is more than $1.5 billion. Deliveroo operates in more than 14 countries.

Alexa, Will You Stop Listening to Me?

Forbes reported that Alexa is always listening to one’s conversations. The reason is, “Make life better.” According to the capitalist tool:

The fact that Alexa is always listening to her surrounding is easily explained by the technology that Amazon chose to implement for its smart speakers: The Seattle-based technology giant uses cloud computing to process every spoken word captured by its smart speakers. What it means, in layman’s terms, is that every word you say to Alexa is sent to Amazon’s cloud service to be automatically transcribed before it can respond to your request including basic commands like “play music” or “turn on the light”—nothing is processed on the device itself because it doesn’t have the necessary computing power and the intelligence on-board.

Seems efficient and quite delicate, like a bulldozer. But there is one rust spot on the shiny Alexa D-9. According to ZDNet:

Amazon can’t yet completely delete Alexa voice transcriptions. It is working on a solution to deleting data when users request and is planning a bug fix for its Echo Dot Kids Edition.

The article pointed out:

Amazon’s admission that it retains text transcripts indefinitely followed news of a joint complaint filed with the the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition devices. A group of 19 consumer and public health advocates claim children’s data is retained even after parents delete voice recordings. A child can use an Alexa feature called “Remember This”, which keeps anything a child says until parents call Amazon customer service to delete the entire profile.

Amazon Travel: Another Amazon Hotels?

Google has been trying to corner the travel bookings market. Now Amazon wants a piece of the action. Is Amazon confronting the Google head on? No, Amazon is starting in India. “Amazon Launches Flight Bookings in India in a Superapp Strategy” reports that Amazon’s angle is to offer cash back on bookings. DarkCyber noted this passage:

Before 2014, Amazon had offered hotels sporadically at steep discounts with vouchers, but it then tried to provide public rates, and build a more ongoing offering, with the initial iteration focusing on weekend getaways from several major cities. But Amazon abruptly shuttered its hotel business in October 2015, perhaps a year after launching it, when it found the going very tough, and after not getting the results it apparently expected. Amazon was coy about its precise reasons for abandoning the hotel effort as it didn’t provide any substantial information about its exodus.

Amazon flopped in the hotel business. Skift opines:

Given Amazon’s stilted try at building a hotel business from scratch, some would argue that an acquisition of a major travel company, such as Expedia or TripAdvisor, for example, might be the way to go. Amazon had $23 billion in free cash flow for the trailing 12 months at the end of the first quarter, so buying either company would be affordable.

More Robots Are Coming to Amazon Warehouses

Reuters reported that Amazon will replace humanoid workers with robots. The robots pack boxes with customers’ goods more quickly than the humans. Over time robots will be more economical: No breaks for personal needs, no vacations, no coffee breaks, and no thinking about diapers, unionizing, or pay. “Amazon Rolls Out Machines That Pack Orders and Replace Jobs” reports:

The new machines, known as the CartonWrap from Italian firm CMC Srl, pack much faster than humans. They crank out 600 to 700 boxes per hour, or four to five times the rate of a human packer, the sources said. The machines require one person to load customer orders.

The first robots will require two or three humans to support the single robot. But it is faster, and a robot is unlikely to think about a union, a vacation, or the personal necessities a humanoid has.

Is Amazon Eco-Friendly in France?

Does Amazon France Really Destroy Millions of Products? Yes, But –” asserts:

Amazon destroys a lot of products they can’t sell.

Why?

Taxes. Amazon does not like the idea of taxes DarkCyber assumes. The article makes this clear:

Amazon does destroy products, and one reason they do so is taxes

Logical and efficient.

Buffet and Amazon

Business Insider (the odd duck outfit with a pay wall and no pay wall) reported that Warren Buffet, once the world’s richest man, has about $1 billion in Amazon stock. Buffet’s group “it bought 483,300 shares in the first quarter, worth about $904 million.”

According to Yahoo, Amazon’s AWS boss sold $5.9 million worth of Amazon shares. Does Andy Jassy know something that Mr. Buffet does not?

Amazon Pays Employees to Quit and Deliver Instead

“Minecraft Meets the Real World, Amazon Pays its Employees to Quit, and the Scooter Saga Continues,” despite the wonky title, contains an interesting Amazon factoid:

Amazon is offering its employees an incentive to quit their jobs, if they start their own package delivery companies. This is the latest wrinkle in the company’s Delivery Service Partner program.

Efficient and logical. Let the inefficient workers drive around delivering packages hopefully.

Amazon Away Teams

The Register explained how Amazon coordinates its engineering work. The trick is a “hivemind”. We noted that Amazon

has a system of optimizing internal collaboration by organizing development around a collection independently managed services with a fascinating set of policies for governing it all based on A/B testing, pushed-down decision making, and a carefully curated culture of collaboration that makes use of a novel concept: Away Teams.

The article includes other details which may be of interest to a person eager to emulate one of the methods designed to keep Amazon efficient. There is no information about how an Away Team orders a virtual pizza for the ravenous technologists elsewhere in the hive.

Wanna Code in Cannes?

DarkCyber is not sure Cannes and coding go together as well as money, sun, sand, and Campari. If you know how to make AWS sit and fetch, you may want to journey to the Change for Good Hackathon. Those long khaki pants, gray T shirts, and uncut hair will match up to the average Cannes citizen. More information is available at Cannes Lion.

Partner and Integrator Activity

More companies with which DarkCyber is familiar has jumped on the Amazon bandwagon. Some representative examples:

  • Advertity is now certified to Amazon digital customer experience work. No, DarkCyber does not know what that means. It’s probably important once one is trapped in the labyrinth of AWS.
  • HyTrust has expanded its CloudControl system to handle AWS. Source: Eweek
  • Metova is now an AWS advanced partner. Source: Csion

Stephen E Arnold, May 20, 2019

Amazonia for May 13, 2019

May 13, 2019

Amazon had an interesting week. Not many companies have a senior manager who wants humans on the moon. DarkCyber wonders if Amazon’s one day delivery will work for these civilization savers. We found a number of Amazon items interesting in the last week.

Killer Pencils? Yes, and Other School Supplies Too

The attorney general in the great State of Washington and proud possessor of the not so great city of Seattle is going to save lives. “Amazon Must Remove Toxic School Supplies, Kid’s Jewelry from Marketplace Nationwide” revealed that:

at least 15,188 purchases of products with illegal levels of lead and cadmium from Amazon.com.

How did these “deadly” products find their way into Amazon’s inventory? DarkCyber assumes that Amazon assumed that its vendors were not selling products that could harm a child or other buyer. DarkCyber further assumes that the vendors assumed their suppliers were not mixing lead and other interesting compounds into their manufacturing process. Yep, that’s a lot of assumes.

The attorney general wants this to change:

Any future sellers must provide this certification before listing their products for sale. Moreover, if the Attorney General or Washington Department of Ecology advise Amazon of any children’s school supplies or jewelry that exceed safe levels, Amazon must remove the product from its online marketplace within two business days.

Yes, would an MBA describe these pencils and book covers as killer products? DarkCyber is not sure.

Amazon: Another HR Flap

If you are interested in how high-technology companies manage their organizations, you may find “Three Muslim Amazon Workers Allege They Were Unfairly Punished for Raising Workplace Discrimination Concerns.” DarkCyber has no way of knowing if the report is accurate. Read the cited article and decide for yourself.

On a related note, the HR aware may want to note that Amazon advertising has triggered a problem which could spill over into company meetings. CNBC reported in “Amazon Mistakenly Told Some Sellers That It’s Now Blocking Ads with Religious Content” and is now saying, “We did not change anything.” Just a item to file away in case further management issues arise.

Amazon’s Security Gap

DarkCyber learned from Bloomberg, a real news outfit, that Amazon was “hit by extensive fraud with hackers siphoning merchant funds.” Hackers compromised about 100 accounts (a number which strikes DarkCyber as a modest one) as “unidentified hackers were able to siphon funds from merchant accounts over six months last year [2018].” Bloomberg is quite forgiving, offering this comment:

The case highlights how the world’s biggest online retail platform — designed to be automated with minimal human input — can be misused and how difficult it is for Amazon to find perpetrators.

DarkCyber believes that increased risk and vulnerability are baked into the online systems. Remedies are reactive. Amazon is in the policeware business and cannot protect itself from fraud. How will Amazon secure Alexa data? What about the information flowing into Amazon from its more than 60,000 home device support operations?

Alexa, Can You Delete Recordings and Transcripts?

The answer to the question is, “No.” The popular home surveillance and convenience device has more than 80,000 “skills.” Protecting privacy may not be one of the ones which performs reliably. ZDNet reported that Amazon is working on a fix. Here’s the key passage from the write up:

Amid new complaints that parents can’t delete what their children say to Echo Dot Kids Edition, Amazon has admitted it doesn’t really give Alexa users the ability to truly delete what they say to Echo devices.

Privacy? Less important than one day delivery perhaps?

Convenience Stores: An Endangered Species

One consolation is that Amazon, so far, has not figured out how to sell gasoline to consumers. That’s on the radar of some. For now, the one-day delivery push may push the thin-margin outfits over the cliff and into a sea of red ink. “Amazon Prime’s One-Day Shipping Could Devastate Convenience and Drug Stores” explains that speedier shipping may make the local retailer obsolete.

Amazon and Meds

Amazon’s push into health care is not grabbing headlines this week. We did spot a story on CNBC titled “The Inside Story of Why Amazon Bought PillPack in Its Effort to Crack the $500 Billion Prescription Market.” After a weird business school case study introduction, the guts of the write up seems to be:

The value for Amazon is in the promise of plugging the delivery network into the giant e-commerce machine, especially when considering that the average PillPack user in 2018 was worth $5,000 in revenue, through insurance payments and patient co-pays…

With lots of Americans taking medicine, Amazon may see a low margin, growth business which snaps into its other infrastructure and convenience plays. Amazon generic drugs? Amazon “doc in the box” facilities? Amazon health insurance? Many possibilities, and these are not mentioned by CNBC. The personal details about eye glasses are okay, but there may be more to PillPack than pills.

Amazon can at this time reach 72 percent of people living in the lower 48 states at this time. Why go to the pharmacy already struggling to survive when you can go to your front door?

Amazon Is Gunning for the Google

BusinessInsider (registration and/or pay wall in place) snagged an Amazon PowerPoint deck. (DarkCyber understood that the great flywheel did not permit the use of slide decks.) The idea is that the eyeballs on Amazon’s devices and Web pages want and need ads. There’s even the NFL’s Thursday Night Football eyeballs. How remarkable is the presentation? Standard “look how many eyeballs we can deliver.” One interesting factoid is that Amazon sales people like to mention that 80 percent Fire TV owners have a premium Prime account. This means to the tense, sometimes insecure Madison Avenue types one thing — Buyers who purchase stuff. If you are a member of Microsoft LinkedIn, you can download an OTT slide deck at this link.

If you don’t know what OTT means, you can get a handy definition omitted from the BusinessInsider and the Zohar Urian post on LinkedIn. OTT is a reference to streaming media available when one owns a box like Roku or Amazon’s gizmos.

Amazon is able to:

  • Provide tracking data
  • Provide behavioral data
  • Provide contextual data
  • Identify “similar to” buyers
  • Suggest where to put ads to sell older products
  • Deliver slices and dices to make target oriented marketers happy.

The idea is that Amazon can “prove” ads work. Google, well, displaying ads next to children on park swing sets is a bit of an issue for some would be Google advertisers.

The Google has an Amazon problem with two pointy  things welded to the front of the Bezos bulldozer. First, Amazon is sucking away product searches from the Google. Double digit product search declines, one disgruntled Web site operator smirked at lunch. This fellow added, “Good for Amazon.” The second problem is that buying an ad on a Google property may place the message for a wholesome product next to questionable content. YouTube does have quite a bit of interesting content, and some advertisers remain wary of the GOOG’s smart software and human editor filtering process.

Amazon: Bring Cash

How about those empty store fronts on Fifth Avenue? There will be more space available as Amazon’s brick-and-mortar push expands. “Amazon Go’s First NY Store Is Also the First to Accept Cash” reports:

what’s new at this [Amazon Go Store] location is actually something Amazon Go was invented to get rid off: a cash register.

The problem is, according to CNet:

While Amazon gained loads of attention for this reinvention of shopping, the nascent trend of cashless stores has already faced blowback from local and state governments. Cashless store operators, which include the salad chain Sweetgreen and restaurant Dig Inn, say going cashless made their checkout lines faster and most of their customers didn’t pay in cash anyways.

The tracking technology is still in place in Go Stores. So bring cash.

Amazon Advertises Itself (Just Like Leo LaPorte’s Twit.tv Network)

Vox reported that “Amazon wants to pay the New York Times and BuzzFeed to Expand So It Can Reach More Shoppers Outside the US.” DarkCyber learned that Amazon sees Amazon as equals for this type of promotion. Vox points out:

Amazon is specifically interested in publishers that have built up significant affiliate link units and would be paying them to build out those groups. That includes BuzzFeed, which has made e-commerce a significant part of its revenue strategy and has hired a team of writers to create shopping-friendly content; the Times, which bought the Wirecutter shopping guide for around $30 million in 2016; and New York Media, which has turned New York Magazine’s “Strategist” shopping section into a meaningful part of its online business mix.

Now how does Google’s quality measures deal with this type of overt, large scale search engine optimization approach to links and traffic? DarkCyber’s view is, “Not very well.” Perhaps the GOOG will have to filter Amazon links because the tactics could be considered those of black hat SEO operators. Filtering links will further erode Google’s product search traffic. Yep, this is an issue and one not addressed in the real news Vox write up.

How Amazon Terminates Old Fashioned AWS Services

Amazon sure seems to be nice. A good example is a blog post called “Amazon S3 Path Deprecation Plan – The Rest of the Story.” Unlike the Google, which just up and kills products and services, Amazon walks slowly toward the “terminate with extreme prejudice button.” Amazon wants to herd its customers toward the new and improved versions of Amazon’s technology; for example, getting rid of paths. How old school! The new approach involves object keys, which Jeff Bezos really likes. You will have the opportunity to experience this new approach yourself — whether you like it or not. That’s a Googley touch.

More Partners and Integrators

It is difficult to keep track of the companies joining the AWS bandwagon. Here are a few of the more interesting ones.

  • Arcadia Data is an Advanced Amazon Partner. Source: MarketWatch
  • Cherwell Software now delivers integrated cloud management services via Amazon Quick Start. Source: Yahoo
  • CloudBees now allows AWS customers to deploy CloudBees on AWS. A CloudBee deployment is a cloud native, continuous delivery (CD) solution that can be hosted on-premise or in the cloud. It provides a shared, centrally managed, self-service experience for development teams. Source: Help Net Security
  • CloudKnox is now an AWS Advanced Technology Partner. Source: Digital Journal
  • CoreSite offers higher bandwidth for AWS Direct Connect. Source: MarketWatch
  • Cypherium teams up with Amazon to offer blockchain as a service. See Businesswire’s story on Yahoo.
  • Digital Reality provides AWS Direct Connect services. Source: Yahoo
  • Digital Reasoning, once a gung ho IBM affiliate, has shifted gears with “Conduct Surveillance.” This appears to include the search and retrieval function plus lots of middleware. The company provides is solution via Amazon. Google gets some DR love too. Source: Virtual Strategy. (Every time I type “virtual strategy” I think, “Why bother with a real strategy when one can have a virtual strategy.” Source: Virtual Strategy
  • eCloudValley is allegedly the world’s only AWS premier consulting partner with certifications for China and the rest of the world. Ah, yes, China, the land of surveillance. Source: Cision
  • ExtraHop has joined Amazon’s AWS consulting program. Source: Digital Journal
  • Getronics and HeleCloud team up to launch an Amazon Center of Excellence; that is, a consulting operation. Source: Virtual Strategy
  • Intent Solutions is a partner and one recognized by Amazon itself. Source: PR.com
  • Isaca (a global association helping individuals and enterprises achieve the positive potential of technology) has introduced an AWS Audit Program. Source: Security Info Watch
  • The great state of Louisiana has partnered with Amazon for “AWS Educate.” More about an Amazon branded state appears in The Advocate.
  • Mission, a managed services and consulting company for Amazon Web Services (AWS), has met the requirements of the AWS Managed Services Provider (MSP) Partner Program. Source: Global News Wire
  • Nutanix now runs on AWS Xi clusters. Source: CRN
  • SGX, a blockchain outfit, is moving its platform to AWS. Source: Finextra
  • SmartShift has partnered with Amazon in order to move SAP to AWS. I know that SAP is an interesting outfit and its software can be particularly exciting to configure. But SmartShift will knock that S/4 Hana stuff out of the park. SAP is embracing the Bezos bulldozer. SAP evolved from a former IBM professionals desire to reinvent IBM. A Bakersfield.com report.
  • Tantus Technologies is an AWS Select Consulting Partner. Source: Yahoo
  • Ventech Solutions is now an Amazon Advanced Consulting Partner. Source: BusinessInsider. No registration required for a recycled news release unlike the recycled OTT article.
Moving Mainframe Code to AWS

Impossible you say. You are wrong, pilgrim. Navigate to the AWS success story of the week, “Automated Refactoroing of a US Department of Defense Mainframe to AWS.” The main point is that it took place and worked. The actual grunt work was handled not by the online bookstore or the wizards in the DoD’s numerous information technology departments. The outfit which pulled off most of the work was Array. When did this take place? In 2018, but it takes some time for certain examples to surface. You can read more about this migration in the AWS Partner Network Blog here.

Amazon Servers: Where in the World Are They, Jeff Bezos?

The Verge’s story “Mapping Out Amazon’s Invisible Server Empire” provides a link to the map that Amazon won’t provide. Well, the map is a link to a sketchy document available in WikiLeaks. The Wikileaks’ map is at this link. The Verge contributes this remarkable “real news” observation:

most of the AWS footprint consists of overseas hubs in colocation centers run by companies like Equinix or Securus.

Yeah, that’s tough to figure out.

Stephen E Arnold, May 13, 2019

Amazonia for May 6, 2019

May 6, 2019

Amazon has become a company to watch—at least in some advertising circles. We learned that an outfit named “The Marin Software” is holding a live webinar called “Amazon Advertising: A Crash Course for the Modern Marketer.” One must sign up for the program because there won’t be a version of the program on YouTube if the email promotion sent to select individuals is to be believed. In the webinar, one will learn in just 60 minutes how to set up an Amazon ad campaign, the “best practices” for creating successful Amazon ads, and “advanced strategies” which will generate higher revenue. How does one find out about the webinar? Easy. Just chase down Marin at this url. DarkCyber believes that Google ad chiefs will attend.

In other Amazon news this week, DarkCyber noted:

Amazon Is Ethical

Computerworld reports that “AWS is ethical about AI.” The source is an Amazon executive who reveals:

But ‘we just don’t talk about it.

The story points out:

AWS offers some best practice advice relating to its customers’ use of data, but has stopped short of laying out its own guiding principles. It is up to clients to decide whether their use of AWS tools is ethical, said the company’s head of solution architecture in ANZ, Dr Peter Stanski.

Dr. Stanski allegedly said:

“We certainly don’t want to do evil; everything we’ve released to customers to innovate [helps] to lift the bar on what’s actually happening in the industry. It’s really up to the individual organization how they use that tech.”

The exploding products item is not related to artificial intelligence and is, therefore, not part of smart software.

Amazon: Product Quality

Facebook has interesting content, and Amazon has products which may provide a buyer with a battery explosion. “When Your Amazon Purchase Explodes” provides some information about the quality control methods for some sellers’ products. Well, there’s not much. The article reveals:

Curious about what [a battery fire] had happened, Jones went back online to try to contact the seller and alert Amazon to the problem. Scrolling through reviews, he realized other buyers were reporting fires from the same item. But Amazon seemed unconcerned, he told me: Customer-service representatives treated his report like a new one each time he called, asking for his name, the order number, and the story of what had happened over and over again. Amazon would not put him in touch with the seller and never assumed blame for the fire.

The message seems to be, “We just sell stuff.” In the small town in which I was born, one auto dealer had a sidewalk guarantee for each used car sold. Here’s the idea: “Once you drive the car off my lot and across the sidewalk, it’s your problem.”

Amazon’s Revenue from Third Party Sellers

Geekwire reported that Amazon’s first-party online sales dipped below 50 percent of the company’s overall net sales in the first quarter, reflecting the growth of the tech giant’s other businesses. The write up said:

The milestone doesn’t take into account sales by other retailers on Amazon.com, but it’s nonetheless a testament to the tech giant’s growing diversification. It’s especially notable in light of the company’s history. Amazon rose to prominence as a pioneer of the e-commerce industry, becoming the online “Everything Store” by expanding beyond its original mission of selling books.

And what will the sellers’ need? Amazon advertising and ways to stand out from the rapidly increasing crowd? SEO.

The data, if accurate, underscore the threat Amazon shopping poses to eBay, Google, and Wal-Mart.

Amazon the Target of an Alleged Microsoft Fear Tactic

Business Insider, which is an interesting publication indeed, reports that Microsoft is capturing customers using IBM’s old school tactic: FUD or fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The story “Microsoft’s Satya Nadella Uses a Subtle Fear Tactic to Win Cloud Business Away from Amazon” asserts that the tactic is manifested in statements like this from Microsoft:

Do you trust a technology partner to store their data, handle their transactions, know the most intimate details of their business, if that tech partner is also a competitor?

Apparently Microsoft mentions that Amazon’s businesses are like “tentacles”, “pimples”, and “boils.” Nice stuff.

Business Insider concludes:

Amazon’s willingness to compete with its partners and customers could be AWS’s Achilles heel and one that Nadella seems ready to exploit.

Amazon: A Digital Souq

CNBC reported “Amazon Launches New Middle East Marketplace, and Rebrands Souq, the Company It Bought for $580 million in 2017.” Here’s the interesting bit:

The launch of the new Middle East marketplace, which was first reported by CNBC in January, comes at a time of slowing international sales for Amazon. In its most recent quarter, Amazon’s international sales only grew 9% from a year ago to $16.2 billion.

Contrast Amazon’s tactics with Google’s. Amazon seems to be moving in a purposeful way. Google appears to be more focused on staff-related issues and Amazon’s encroachment on product search and online advertising. For information about how Amazon’s ad business is changing the game for Google and other firms, check out “Google’s Competition for Advertising Heats Up from Amazon, Rival Platforms.”

Amazon: An Uber for Trucking

CNBC is reporting interesting news about Amazon. “Amazon Has Been Quietly Running an ‘Uber for Trucking’ Service Since Last Year” reports:

Amazon has been testing a new online service that matches truck drivers with shippers since last year, taking its first step into the lucrative online freight brokerage space.

Should FedEx and UPS be worried? Yep, especially UPS. Those Amazon returns are now being handled by Kohl’s, which may provide a hint of Amazon’s approach to deliveries: Disruption and disintermediation.

Amazon Dinged for Plagiarism

Amazon may find itself in another spat with copyright owners. The Digital Reader’s “The Biggest Plagiarism Scandal in the History of eBooks Slipped by Amazon Unnoticed” reported as allegedly true:

CopyPastCris, as the scandal has been dubbed, now includes no fewer than 95 books by 43 authors as well as articles and other content from six websites (and two recipes). Numerous passages have been copied from those books and websites into one or more of Serruya’s published works. Yes, ninety-five books.

Digital Reader points out a possible flaw in Amazon’s publishing system:

While some of the plagiarism was spotted by readers and authors, much of the work to document the plagiarism was done by Ryan. She wrote the algorithm, she supplied the computer time to run it, and she double-checked the results. Isn’t it funny how one programmer could find all this and Amazon did not?

Amazon bulldozes forests, not spindly creative flowers, may be one conclusion the allegedly true write up explicates.

Amazon Highlights Speedy AI Chips

Technology Review reported in its public magazine this story: “This Chip Was Demoed at Jeff Bezos’s Secretive Tech Conference. It Could be Key to the Future of AI.” The headline is intriguing because MIT is one of the outfits inventing the future of smart software. The recognition that an online bookstore is producing chips which could “invent the future of smart software” is quite a revelation.

The write up points out in a less than secret way:

the new chip achieves performance 10 or even 1,000 times more efficient than existing hardware does.

The inventor of the chip is a company called Sze, named after an MIT grad Vivienne Sze. What’s this suggest? Amazon is serious about making its smart software smarter.

Why’s this important? The article provides a clue to those lucky enough to attend the Amazon high-tech conference in 2020:

…expect the eye-catching robots and drones at the next MARS conference to come with something rather special hidden inside.

AWS May Be Getting More Like a Mainframe

New – Amazon S3 Batch Operations” reveals Amazon S3 Batch Operations which allow customers to “process hundreds, millions, or billions of S3 objects in a simple and straightforward fashion. You can copy objects to another bucket, set tags or access control lists (ACLs), initiate a restore from Glacier, or invoke an AWS Lambda function on each one.” The old is new again.

Make Money with Alexa? Maybe

Amazon wants Alexa developers to make money, in theory. “Alexa In-Skill Purchasing, Which Lets Developers Make Money from Voice Apps, Launches Internationally” states:

With in-skill purchasing, developers are able to generate revenue from voice apps in a number of ways: through the sale of digital goods as a one-time purchase, subscriptions or consumables.

Will this work? DarkCyber does not believe that Alexa has a must-have app winner among the 80,000 or so Alexa skills, but the article identifies a couple of contenders; Escape the Airplane and Jeopardy.

Amazon: Search Engine Optimization Comes to the Online Bookstore

SEO undermined the idea of relevance at ad supported Web search systems. Now the SEO carpetbaggers are setting up to mine the Amazon. “Some Amazon Sellers Are Paying $10,000 A Month To Trick Their Way To The Top” discovered:

An emerging black market offers Amazon sellers pricey ways to cheat the marketplace and mislead customers.

I am not sure about the “emerging” part. Fake reviews for products and books have been a success story for some third parties for more than a decade. Nevertheless, the write up reports with the dewy freshness of a spring morning:

The most prominent black hat companies for US Amazon sellers offer ways to manipulate Amazon’s ranking system to promote products, protect accounts from disciplinary actions, and crush competitors. Sometimes, these black hat companies bribe corporate Amazon employees to leak information from the company’s wiki pages and business reports, which they then resell to marketplace sellers for steep prices. One black hat company charges as much as $10,000 a month to help Amazon sellers appear at the top of product search results. Other tactics to promote sellers’ products include removing negative reviews from product pages and exploiting technical loopholes on Amazon’s site to lift products’ overall sales rankings. These services make it harder for Amazon sellers who abide by the company’s terms of service to succeed in the marketplace, and sellers who rely on these tactics mislead customers and undermine trust in Amazon’s products.

How will this play out? There will be conferences, and there will be some modest push back from Amazon. But business is business. Google now has videos about SEO, the industry which it helped foster.

Amazon Secure Zones: Maybe Yes, Maybe No

ZDNet reported that there is No difference between regular AWS and Australian government protected level services. With Amazon competing for the US government JEDI contract the information in the write up could be significant. The article reported:

When AWS gets a customer with specialist security requirements, it looks to implement those requirements everywhere.

From Amazon’s point of view, security is security, regardless of the customer. From ZDNet’s point of view, the approach is newsworthy. A close reading of the statements by the AWS executive reveals:

By certifying a cloud service …it allows government to consume software-as-a-service more easily, while also making it easier for developers to reach government. … Government customers are looking towards outsourced and managed services, but they often cannot consume them because of security regulations.

The Amazon approach addresses this problem.

Amazon Doing Good in Des Moines

Marketwatch published “Amazon Web Services Become the Community Sponsor of the Monetery Tech Summit.” The news item said:

The Monetery Tech Summit has acted as a funding engine for underrepresented groups in technology. In 2018, the conference raised more than $10,000 for Pi515, an after-school program that educates Iowa’s underserved population, particularly refugee 7-12th grade students, on computer coding.

Amazon Blockchain

This struck DarkCyber as old news, but Cointelegraph seemed excited. “Amazon Web Services Launches Managed Blockchain Service.” The article disclosed:

The product will purportedly allow customers to set up blockchain networks within their organizations, and uses the Ethereum and Hyperledger open source frameworks. Notably, Amazon states that AMB can scale to support thousands to millions of transactions.

News of the service surfaced last year, and DarkCyber has pointed out that the information from such a service might have above average interest in some sectors of the law enforcement community.

Autonomic Drives to Amazon

Yahoo reported that “AWS will power Autonomic Transportation Mobility Cloud, giving automotive manufacturers and software developers the cloud infrastructure needed to build innovative connected vehicle services at scale.” As previously noted, Ford is in on the AWS game.

Amazon Advertises Its Conference

The low profile Amazon conferences are low profile no more. Amazon is advertising its reMARS conference. Here’s an example:

image

You can find this on on TechCrunch.

Amazon and Ethereum

Use the Bit reported that Amazon could start using Ethereum for New Scalable Blockchain. We thought this was already in place with some interesting implications for Amazon’s policeware business.

Amazon Epyc

AnandTech reported that AWS offers another AMD Epyc Powered Instance: T3a. The naming of Amazon services is — to be straightforward — quite an art. T3a is for the Amazon Elastic Computer Cloud, not to be confused with Elastic, the company which developed Elasticsearch. Amazon is beavering away with Elastic in order to suck in “run it on our stuff” business. Back to the Epyc T3a service. We learned:

AWS’s T3a instances offer burstable performance and are intended for workloads that have low sustained throughput needs, but experience temporary spikes in usage. Amazon says that users of T3a get an assured baseline amount of processing power and can scale it up “to full core performance” when they need more for as long as necessary.

The article, rather unhelpfully adds, “Previously AWS started to offer M5, R5, M5ad, and R5ad instances based on AMD’s latest server processors.”

Stephen E Arnold, May 6, 2019

Amazonia for April 29, 2019

April 29, 2019

Amazon has shifted gears. According to a publication with which I am not familiar, a law student has evidence that Amazon has violated anti-trust laws. You can get the student’s views in “Is Amazon Violating US Antitrust Laws?” and if you prefer an analysis from someone other than a student, navigate to Amazon Has Gone from Neutral Platform to Cutthroat Competitor, Say Open Source Developers.”

And in other Amazon bulldozer new, DarkCyber cataloged these items:

Amazon’s Big Quarter

Lots of big numbers for Q1 2019. Example: 12 week revenue of about $8 billion. Example: AWS revenue growth of about 40 percent. Here’s one factoid to which one may want to pay attention:

AWS is Amazon’s fastest growing division and produces the largest margins. This segment has been growing at an annual rate ranging from 43% to 55% for the last 3 years and grew 41% in Q1 YoY. AWS offers the business 39% operating margin compared to the 4.2% margin that the rest of Amazon’s operations are providing. This segment already makes up about 50% of AMZN’s income and will likely continue to grow.

The downside? Growth may be slowing, hence Amazon’s new initiatives. The Register’s comment that Amazon was a cloud business with a gift shop may be correct.

Source: Yahoo

Digital Freight Brokerage

Amazon is a logistics company. Using its internal system, Amazon is positioned to reduce the time for deliveries on some items. How does same day delivery sound to those too busy or uninterested in going to a retail store? Sounds good to DarkCyber.

“Amazon’s Digital Freight Brokerage Platform Goes Live” brings logistics goodness to anyone looking for efficiency. What may be more important than Amazon’s technical acumen is its ability to engage in friendly competition. In this context, “friendly competition” means prices that are about 30 percent lower than what incumbents charge for similar freight forward brokering.

The write up reports:

The entry of Amazon into freight brokerage is the ‘disintermediate to survive’ phase of the flywheel. AMZN is under pressure to re-accelerate its top line revenue, which has slowed from upward of 30 percent annually three years ago to less than 15 percent projected for this year. Amazon cannot allow trucking capacity to constrain its growth and is entering freight brokerage to lock that capacity up.

Remember those statements by some industry observers who suggested that Amazon benefited outfits like FedEx and UPS (love the color its trucks).

Want to ship something at a peak time of year? Amazon is ready to serve as it pressures the companies against which it is competing — in a friendly way. DarkCyber believes that unlike vendors of policeware, the freight forwarding and brokering sector may be reading what the electronic bookstore has written in its AWS terms and conditions.

Amazon: Responding to the Sound of Music

The bulldozer’s music story this week, in DarkCyber’s opinion, was the information about Amazon’s possible music streaming play. (Amazon has been doing the music thing for years, of course.) “Amazon could Launch Hi-Def Music Streaming by End of 2019” reported:

Amazon’s music streaming service has been around for a while now, but more recently the company seems to be stepping up their efforts to try and grab a larger slice of the pie. For example, it was just last week that Amazon announced a free ad-supported listening tier that would allow non-Prime members to enjoy their streaming services.

Higher quality files may be less important than free or low cost music. Maybe Amazon will add high fidelity podcasts to the mix. What’s the podcast count? A half million or so, including our generally ignored DarkCyber weekly video.

A useful factoid may be that CNBC reported that Amazon will spend $7 billion on music content in 2019.

Open Source Inside a Closed Amazon: The Rent-a-Car Approach

Chatter about Amazon’s tactical plan to attack open source developers seems to be working. The approach is controversial. Medium published the essay “Amazon Has Gone From Neutral Platform to Cutthroat Competitor, Say Open Source Developers.” The main idea seems to be encapsulated in this statement by a commentator on open source software:

called Amazon’s move a “hostile takeover” of Elastic’s business. Steven O’Grady, co-founder of the software industry analyst firm RedMonk, cited it as an example of the “existential threat” that open source companies like Elastic believe a handful of cloud computing giants could pose. Shay Banon, founder and CEO of Elastic, carefully defended Elastic’s new licensing practices, while at the same time making his unhappiness with Amazon crystal clear.

Now what did my grandfather used to say about the barn burned down and the horses ran off? Yes, I recall his statement: “Yep, a bulldozer company is building a factory on that spot.”

What do you think Confluent, Datastax, Neo4j, MongoDB, and InfluxData think about Amazon’s tactical play? DarkCyber sees believes that renting access to another’s work is logical— for Amazon. The open source coder? DarkCyber has no fixed viewpoint.

Enter the Lawyers Arrive

Engadget has reported that “Amazon Tries Bringing in Lawyers for Sellers Claiming Patent Infringement.” The angle is that Amazon has had a problem with knock offs. Without plowing through the legal ramifications of selling a look alike as the real deal, Amazon is trying to gin up “a cheaper, faster alternative to traditional patent lawsuits, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take years to settle.”

Alexa, Who Fired Me?

The Verge reported that Amazon warehouse workers can be terminated for productivity lapses. Who does the firing of the inefficient humanoid? Smart software. The news service reported:

The documents also show a deeply automated tracking and termination process. “Amazon’s system tracks the rates of each individual associate’s productivity,” according to the letter, “and automatically generates any warnings or terminations regarding quality or productivity without input from supervisors.” (Amazon says supervisors are able to override the process.)

Amazon gets a word in. The Verge reports Amazon said:

Amazon consistently terminates fulfillment center associates for failing to repeatedly meet the standardized productivity rates,” the company’s attorney wrote in the letter. Amazon terminated the employee, the attorney wrote, “for the same reason it has terminated hundreds of other employees without regard to any alleged protected concerted activity.” The former employee’s charge was ultimately withdrawn.

The Verge story includes images of documents and other details.

Actual Unemployed Real Journalist Opportunity

Amazon may have a job for you. Navigate to this link and check out how Amazon is approaching local news. Why didn’t Tim Andrews (Patch and AOL) think of this? Oh, right. He was a Googler. Quick question: Identify three ways this type of information complements the AWS policeware service. Give up. Sigh.

Amazon’s Jungle Drums

Some items to tuck away in an Amazon notebook:

  • Slack’s new deal with Amazon translates to about $250 million through 2023 to AWS. (This may be less than Lyft or Pinterest will pay.) Source: Geekwire
  • Ford Motor Company has decided that the Bezos bulldozer’s electronics and software are interesting. Source: Yahoo
  • Apple spends $30 million a month for AWS. Apple may be taking steps to trim this monthly bill. Source: CNBC
  • AWS has opened a Hong Kong data center region. Alibaba and TenCent may face hear the grinding of the Bezos bulldozer which might be silenced by government regulations. Source: SDXCentral
  • AWS ahs announced general availability of concurrency scaling for Redshift, a data warehouse service. Source: Market Watch
  • AWS announced general availability of Amazon S3 Deep Glacier Archive, which is the lowest cost storage option available from AWS at this time. Source: Yahoo
Servicers of the Bezos Bulldozer

Vendors with which are generally not familiar are embracing the Amazon AWS environment.

  • Corvil becomes an advanced technical partner for AWS. Source: Bakersfield
  • Immuta has become an advanced technical partner for AWS. Source: Business Wire
  • Instana Automatic Application Monitoring is now available on AWS. Source: Virtual Strategy
  • Perspectium provides integration services for AWS. Source: Odessa American
  • TigerGraph is available as a pay as you go analytics service on AWS. Source: Globe Newswire
  • Vapor IO and Crown Castle have developed to connect these firms services to AWS. Source: LightReading

Stephen E Arnold, April 29, 2019

Amazonia for April 22, 2019

April 22, 2019

Amazon continues to grind forward.

Amazon Fails Where Google Struggled: China

China is a big market. China is a country. Armies, police, regulators, and a history of following its leaders. Amazon learned that it, like Google, could not change China. This is a surprise? “Amazon Plans to Shut Down China Marketplace in Rare Retreat” reports:

In a rare retreat for Amazon.com Inc., the e-commerce giant plans to shut down its Chinese marketplace business in July as it shifts its focus to offering mainland consumers overseas products rather than goods from local sellers.

But Amazon will not give up. Even Mark Zuckerberg learned to speak Chinese so he could continue to spread the word about Facebook goodness.

Amazon will keep running its other businesses in China, including Amazon Web Services, Kindle e-books, and cross-border operations that help ship goods from Chinese merchants to customers abroad. Starting on July 18, customers logging in to Amazon’s Chinese web portal, Amazon.cn, will only see a selection of goods from its global store, rather than products from third-party sellers.

Will Amazon triumph in China? That depends on what one means by identifying a victory. DarkCyber does not think the definition will include impinging on Alibaba and JD.com, among other China favorites.

Amazon and Google: Learning to Coexist

DarkCyber noted that the high school science club spat with the high school mathematics club has ended. Amazon’s FireTV will show YouTube videos. Peace in our Time reported:

In a mutual announcement, the two online giants have revealed that they’re collaborating on bringing their services to the other’s devices. “In the coming months,” the YouTube app will be coming back to the Fire TV (Amazon’s devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs). It will be followed later this year by the YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps as well. On Amazon’s side, the Prime Video app will add support for casting “in the coming months,” thus supporting Google’s first-party Chromecasts and other Chromecast built-in devices.

Ah, beautiful music to some ears. But wait. Music is not included. The two clubs are likely to meet up in the high school cafeteria to talk about tunes, DarkCyber opines.

Amazon: Staff Management: Energy and Green Edition

Several thousand Amazon staff want Amazon to do more for saving the planet. The issue is not resolved. What triggered the pushback from happy, content, sleek, and well benefited employees. DarkCyber suggests that the firm’s commitment to renewable energy farms half a world away from Seattle were insufficient. Amazon has some deals with Big Energy to help these oil and gas outfits extract carbon sources from Mother Earth. See “Amazon Employees to Execs: Do More on Climate Change” for some exhaust on the subject. Key point: Amazon management faces a management hot spot. First, a supermarket magazine dust up, then the China problem, and now people one pays to do the company’s honest, meaningful labor. Perhaps a Harvard Business School podcast will offer the online bookstore some advice?

Amazon Partners: Implementing the New, Improved IBM Approach to Sales Continues

Some partners of Amazon revealed some of the Amazon plans. Here’s a few which caught our eye:

  • Antian offers its compliance services via Amazon. Source: Geekwire
  • AzCopy has improved its S3 data transfer service. Source: Redmond Magazine
  • Business Software, an income tax services firm, is now an AWS believer. Source: Virtual Strategy
  • Inplayer offers video monetizing services for Amazon. Source: OAOA, part of Aim Media in Texas
  • Instana introduced its cloud management services for Amazon. Source: Virtual Strategy
  • McAfee achieves Amazon certification. Plus, Amazon has identified McAfee as well architected. Source: Marketwatch
  • Phynd, a health care transformation specialist, expanded its Amazon-centric services. The name suggests search, but it seems more of a workflow and content management play. Source: PRNewswire
  • Perspectium provides customer support services via Amazon. The firm also uses Press of Atlantic City for its news releases which wants to charge for marketing information. Annoying indeed. If the link goes dead, think bush league PR play.
  • Pyramid Systems is now an advanced consulting partner for Amazon. Sounds good thought. And, no, DarkCyber does not know what the different levels of partner mean. Source: PRNewswire
  • Tetrate offers Envoy to AWS Mesh users who want micro services for their Web-accessible applications. Source: Marketwatch
  • TigerGraph uses AWS for “pay as you go” graph analytics. Source: Globe News Wire
Amazon: Going the Right Direction Says Yahoo, Verizon, Oath, AOL or Whatever

Despite the mini-crises causing the Bezos bulldozer’s engine to rev, “Jeff Bezos Is Leading Amazon in the Right Direction.” And Verizon should know; it is a paragon of management excellence. According to the company which may have cribbed some ideas from Smarter Analyst:

The founder of Amazon has managed to keep an innovative culture going while they continue to disrupt e-commerce. Bezos anticipates that Amazon can continue to grow its e-commerce footprint in various markets outside the United States where there has been minimal market penetration of e-commerce in general.

Spot on, Yahoooooooo.

For Fans of Amazon’s Policeware

Amazon has added Arabic to the line up of languages which the Amazon Polly system can understand. CRN points out that the service is designed for consumer applications; for example:

The move allows developers to create applications that speak in Arabic and build speech-enabled products and services, including cars, internet of things devices, appliances, automated contact centers, language learning platforms, translation apps and newsreaders.

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

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