Microsoft Azure May be Permanently Broken

October 9, 2014

Microsoft’s cloud service, Azure, has had a rough month, and there are recent reports that it may be impossible for it to ever recover, at least in reputation. Read more of the details in the Tech Guru Daily article, “Is Microsoft’s Azure Permanently Broken?

The article begins:

“There appear to be some serious issues with Microsoft’s Azure cloud services and some experts suggest the problems might be difficult if not impossible to fix. Last month we reported that Azure was having problems. According to the Microsoft Azure status page there were 38 separate incidents between July 15 and August 15, and apparently things haven’t improved at all. In fact the problems have gotten worse.”

And because this is a live running service, with lots of dependent customers now disappointed repeatedly over a long period of time, it is highly unlikely that Microsoft Azure will be able to recover. There are many other cloud services that preceded Azure that continue to function well, and most customers have likely moved on to one of these by now. If you are a current Microsoft Azure customer, and have yet to experience major issues, you may want to consider other options before it does interrupt your regular business.

Emily Rae Aldridge, October 09, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Math in the Googley Cloud

October 6, 2014

Short honk: I think this is significant development. Math in the cloud, courtesy of the University of Washington and Google. Navigate to “Collaborative Mathematics with SageMathCloud and Google Cloud Platform.” No information about latency for calculations or changes to equations, output generation, or overall response time. I don’t suggest a 56K modem for this type of work.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2014

Microsoft Azure Price Cuts? Maybe More Bad News for Search Vendors

September 26, 2014

The race for commodity pricing in cloud computing is underway. I read an article, which I assume is semi-accurate, called “Microsoft Azure Sees Big Price Reductions: Competition Is Good.” “Good” is a often a relative term.

For those looking for low cost cloud computing that delivers Azure functions, lower prices mean that Amazon- and Google-type prices may be too high.

For a vendor trying to pitch an information retrieval system to a Microsoft centric outfit, the falling prices may mean that Azure Search is not just good enough. It is a deal. The only systems that can be less expensive are those one downloads from an open source repository or one that a hard worker codes herself.

The write up states:

Microsoft has announced, in a blog post, that it will be slashing the cost of some of its Azure cloud services from October 1st….customers buying through Enterprise agreements will enjoy even lower prices. The rate card currently shows 63 services being reduced by up to about 40%.

For enterprise search vendors chasing SharePoint licensees with promises of better, faster, and cheaper—the move by Microsoft is likely to be of interest.

I anticipate that search vendors will scramble even harder than ever. Furthermore, I look forward to even more outrageous assertions about the value of content processing. As an example, check out this set of assertions about an open source based system that has been scrambling for purchase on the sales mountain for six or seven years.

Stephen E Arnold, September 26, 2014

Cloud Based Mathematica from Wolfram

September 16, 2014

I read “Launching Today: Mathmatica Online.” The interface is similar to the desktop application. The benefits of having the Mathematica tool accessible on non desktop devices and without requiring a local installation of the program are many; for example, notebooks work on tablets. With refreshing candor, Dr. Wolfram notes:

There are some tradeoffs of course. For example, Manipulate can’t be as zippy in the cloud as it is on the desktop, because it has to run across the network. But because its Cloud CDF interface is running directly in the web browser, it can immediately be embedded in any web page, without any plug-in…

Worth a look at

Stephen E Arnold, September 16, 2014

SharePoint Simplifies Cloud Use with Better Updates

September 16, 2014

The next major update to SharePoint functionality will not occur until sometime in 2015, but for now users can get the most function out of their current implementation by taking advantage of Service Pack 1. Especially important for customers who intend to integrate Cloud components, SP1 focuses on reliability, security, and performance. Read more in the Enterprise Apps Today article, “SharePoint Updates Ease Move to Cloud.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 has been out for quite some time and received a Service Pack update earlier in the year. While SP1 included the usual mix of performance, reliability and security fixes, it also provided a number of new and updated features with an eye toward the cloud. Another update makes it easier to use Yammer as the social network of choice over the outdated Newsfeed.”

For more tips and tricks regarding getting the most out of your SharePoint installation, head on over to Stephen E. Arnold has made a career out of all things search, and gives a good bit of attention to the enterprise. His SharePoint feed helps users and administrators navigate the often complicated and potentially frustrating ins and outs of SharePoint.

Emily Rae Aldridge, September 16, 2014

Microsoft Incorporates SharePoint Server Component for the Cloud

September 11, 2014

Microsoft is slowly learning that combining components of SharePoint Online and the SharePoint on-site versions tends to serve the user better. The latest combination involves SharePoint server and you can read all the details in the eWeek article, “Microsoft Borrows From SharePoint Server for Cloud-Based Intranets.”

The article begins:

“The company ports two SharePoint Server 2013 features to its cloud-based counterpart to provide a better search-driven navigation experience. Microsoft has issued an update that brings search-based navigation capabilities from the on-premises version of SharePoint to intranets based on SharePoint Online, the company’s cloud-based business collaboration platform.“

Stephen E. Arnold is an expert in search and devotes a good bit of his attention to SharePoint. His research can be found on, and those interested in SharePoint might want to bookmark the SharePoint feed. He focuses on the tips and tricks that can make SharePoint not only tolerable, but much more functional, for both the administrator and the user.

Emily Rae Aldridge, September 11, 2014

Microsoft Extends DLP to SharePoint

September 9, 2014

Microsoft is unveiling data loss prevention for the Office 365 suite. Administrators will be able to search for information across SharePoint Online and OneDrive. Read more in the PCWorld article, “Microsoft Rolls Out DLP to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft has extended the data loss prevention features in Office 365 so that they are available not only for its email tools but also for data in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. Office 365 already had DLP capabilities for Exchange Online and Outlook, so that compliance officers could monitor email communications and enforce corporate and regulatory rules regarding the use of sensitive corporate data, such as confidential intellectual property details and customers’ financial information.”

Microsoft continues to improve the Office 365, spending special attention on streamlining and improving the user experience for SharePoint. For users who are interested in keeping up with the latest updates, keep an eye on and particularly the SharePoint feed. Stephen E. Arnold has made a career out of all things search, and his expertise shines through as he offers the latest tips and tricks for SharePoint users.

Emily Rae Aldridge, September 09, 2014

Microsoft Shakes Up SharePoint Online to Increase Storage

September 2, 2014

In response to an ever-increasing need for storage, Microsoft has announced changes to the way SharePoint Online manages storage blocks. Read about the latest announcement in the PC World article, “Microsoft Tweaks SharePoint Online to Free Up Site Storage.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft has tweaked the controls in SharePoint Online to let administrators make better use of storage resources allocated to SharePoint websites. The changes seek to make processes more automated, and to add some flexibility in how storage for SharePoint Online is managed within the Office 365 suite. Until now, SharePoint site collections, which are groups of related SharePoint websites, had to be assigned a set amount of storage, and that storage space couldn’t be used for anything else even if some of it went unused.”

Users and administrators will benefit from the increased flexibility. It also shows some effort on the part of Microsoft to improve the SharePoint user experience by taking care of some “no-brainer” flaws in the system. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and continues to keep an eye on the latest news in his SharePoint feed on Staying on top of these announcements is a great way for organizations to keep increasingly their SharePoint efficiency.

Emily Rae Aldridge, September 02, 2014

Hackers Leverage Elasticsearch Flaw in the Cloud

August 25, 2014

Just as Elasticsearch is reveling in its recent successes, CloudPro informs us that “Hackers Target Elasticsearch to Set Up DDoS Botnet on AWS.” Writer Rene Millman reports that cloud providers besides Amazon Web Services could be affected by the attacks, which leverage a vulnerability in the older Elasticsearch 1.1 versions. Because of its ability to run on multiple nodes, Elasticsearch’s open source, Java-based full-text-search application is a popular choice for use with cloud environments. The article describes the vulnerability hackers are now exploiting:

“Researchers at Kaspersky Labs have found that cybercriminals have exploited a flaw in the software to install DDoS malware on various clouds. The flaw was found in Elasticsearch v. 1.1x and a scripting exploit. The software has default support for active scripting, but does not use authentication and also does not sandbox the script code. Criminals can use the flaw to hack into EC2 VMs and then use a use a new variant of Linux DDoS Trojan Mayday – Backdoor.Linux.Mayday.g – to launch their attack, according to Kaspersky Lab principal security researcher Kurt Baumgartner.”

Millman goes on to quote a blog post by Kurt Baumgartner, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. Baumgartner states:

“The [Mayday variants] in use on compromised EC2 instances oddly enough were flooding sites with UDP traffic only. The flow is strong enough that the DDoS’d victims were forced to move from their normal hosting operations IP addresses to those of an anti-DDoS solution.

“The flow is also strong enough that Amazon is now notifying their customers, probably because of potential for unexpected accumulation of excessive resource charges for their customers. The situation is probably similar at other cloud providers.”

Unsurprisingly, the goal of these attacks seems to be financial. Baumgertner notes that among those affected by this attacks are a large regional U.S. bank, a large electronics maker, and a Japanese service provider. For its part, Amazon is urging users to upgrade asap to the latest version of Elasticsearch, which is free from this vulnerability.

Cynthia Murrell, August 25, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Forrester and Physical Storage: HP Autonomy May Like This Mid Tier Prognostication

August 23, 2014

I recommend reading “Forrester Says It’s Time to Give Up on Physical Storage Arrays.” The position of the mid tier consulting firm is clear: Local storage bad, cloud storage good. What’s missing is nuance. The comments point out a couple of issues with this Promethean assertion; for example:

  • The time has therefore come to recognize that arrays are expensive and inflexible, Baltazar says, and make the jump to virtual arrays for future storage purchases. Fancy words for outsource and off site.—from Ole Juul
  • Until workmen outside cut through your comms cable …… It can and does happen (Power cable for one company I worked for, water mains for another). We hear all about the resilience built up at the other end to near guaranty your data, but there’s always single points of failure much closer to home.—from Dappman
  • Data needs to be local. How can you move 1000TB of data around? The storage needs to be local to where it’s being used. Increasingly, the data is coming in from the cloud. What happens in the cloud stays in the cloud(R).—from Anonymous Coward

But for me the article tips Forrester’s hand with regard to HP Autonomy. HP is reporting record revenues from sales of PCs. HP is emphasizing the value of HP Autonomy IDOL as an enterprise app. Against this background, I noted this passage in the source article:

Forrester knows this, too: one of its analysts, Henry Baltazar, just declared you should “make your next storage array an app”.

I look forward to HP’s picking up on this “expert” opinion and giving the hobby horse a whack. Content marketing? Yep yep.

Stephen E Arnold, August 23, 2014

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