Next Feature of Nuance Promises Network of Connected Devices

March 27, 2014

The article on Nuance titled Experience a More Human Conversation Through Nuance Cloud Service begins with some reflections on the 2014 Mobile World Congress. Effortlessness is the rallying-cry of mobile consumers- they want machines that not only hear but understand. The article explains,

“To help brands and developers worldwide support this need, Nuance recently announced Nuance Cloud Services, a cloud platform that defines the user experiences of some of the largest and most well-respected brands by transforming them into intelligent personal assistants that understand and engage with users on a simpler, more human level… In addition to our technologies, we’ve worked with content and technology partners to ensure that Nuance Cloud Services grants our partners access to a massive range of content and services.”

This means that through Nuance Cloud Services, streaming is possible no only on smartphones and tablets but with smart TVs, as well as connected cars and PCs. The network that this creates informs the intelligent virtual assistant of the users preferences over time. Nuance also promises depth of customization to satisfy the desires of any partner brand. The search function for Nuance’s What’s Next feature is offline. This is all well and good, but it sounds more like what is happening now then in the future. So what is next? Maybe search that works?

Chelsea Kerwin, March 27, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Google and Pricing: High Stakes WalMarting

March 26, 2014

I read a number of write ups about the new Google cloud pricing. The main idea, in my opinion, that  unifies the different reports is, “Everybody loves a bargain.” Consider “Google Slashes Cloud Prices: Google vs AWS Price Comparison.”

The essay-editorial begins with the invocation of the Google-Amazon joust:

Google threw down the gauntlet to challenge AWS public cloud supremacy by announcing significant price reductions across its Google Cloud Platform. The eye-opening price cuts covered compute (32-percent reduction), storage (68-percent reduction), and BigQuery (85-percent reduction). Google also signaled that future reductions could follow Moore’s Law — citing that historically public cloud prices have dropped only 6 to 8 percent annually as compared to 20- to 30-percent reductions in hardware prices.

The fact that neither Amazon nor Google provide much detail about their actual costs, profits, number of customers, and goals for their cloud services is not of much interest. Explanations of how pricing thresholds operate and migrate excite little curiosity.

Google, playing the Google Search Appliance card, seems to suggest that Amazon’s pricing is complicated. Yep, it is and it is very difficult to pin down with confidence what something will cost until the bits have been chomped and the Amazon accounting system processes its inputs and bills the customer. There is chatter about “sustained use” pricing, on demand pricing, and heavy reserved instance pricing, and in the article I have used as a pivot point for my comments, a cheer for RightScale’s services. These will help the cloud customer figure out what cloud computing costs.

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See http://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/competition-guidance/guide-antitrust-laws/single-firm-conduct/predatory-or-below-cost

Several observations:

First, the pricing is an example of the WalMarting of technical services. Doesn’t the entire world want lower prices? Once a market has been “won,” what happens? Creative destruction? I refer you, gentle reader, to WalMart’s challenges to rekindle (pun intended) that Sam Walton fire. The profit flat line is not good news to some WalMart stakeholders. But the Google pricing is little more than an old-fashioned price war in a Walton-like march for market share.

Second, Amazon has a bit of a cost problem. The murky Amazon financials, the hard to figure out side companies, and the blurring of revenues from product and services lines are tough to parse. Amazon is working overtime to generate no friction revenue (Prime pricing) and constrain costs. The results are a robust top line and growing pressure on expenses at “everyone’s favorite” online store. Google is cutting prices at a time when Amazon is maybe less than prepared for a price war.

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Performance Data for Cloud Computing

March 25, 2014

If you are weighing your cloudy options, InfoWorld has an article for you—”Ultimate Cloud Speed Tests: Amazon vs. Google vs. Windows Azure.” Results? The subtitle gives us the short answer—”A diverse set of real-world Java benchmarks shows Google is fastest, Azure is slowest, and Amazon is priciest.” The long answer takes up several pages, as journalist Peter Wayner shares details of his results. He writes:

“To test out the options available to anyone looking for a server, I rented some machines on Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine, and Microsoft Windows Azure and took them out for a spin. The good news is that many of the promises have been fulfilled. If you click the right buttons and fill out the right Web forms, you can have root on a machine in a few minutes, sometimes even faster. All of them make it dead simple to get the basic goods: a Linux distro running what you need.

“At first glance, the options seem close to identical. You can choose from many of the same distributions, and from a wide range of machine configuration options. But if you start poking around, you’ll find differences—including differences in performance and cost.”

Naturally, the best choice for each organization depends on more than those basic factors. See the article for the data and patterns Wayner has assembled from his tests. I’ll share a couple of his value-related observations—not only was Google’s service the fastest overall, it was also cheapest overall. There’s a case to be made for Azure’s economy version Small for those on a tight budget, but, Wayner says, “Amazon was rarely a bargain.” Even if your organization is not currently facing this decision, this article is a good one to tuck away for future reference.

Cynthia Murrell, March 25, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

HP and the Next Big Thing from Somewhere

March 19, 2014

I read “Rethinking Future Services and the Application Portfolio.” I found the write up on the or an HP blog interesting. The notion that software “supplies intellectual., property to address business problems” is also interesting.

I suppose the notion of open source software does not fit in this category. Although there are different types of licenses and plenty of commercial outfits finding ways to make money from open source software, the notion of “intellectual property” and community developed software strike me as discordant.

The HP blog asserts:

The problems are viewed as IT and not what the business needs. In order for these service providers to address the specific needs of an organization, greater service integration flexibility is required. This allows for real integration of business processes, meeting the businesses unique needs. IT that supports those business processes may come from many different sources. This flexibility will require greater data transport capabilities and analytics, turning generic processing into business differentiation. This movement of data outside the control of a service provider is the bane of most as-a-service solutions, yet when you think about it – whose data is it??

Well, what about that shift in perspective for intellectual property. From a software vendor allowing a customer use the vendor’s intellectual property to “whose data is it.” I think data is a plural but HP definitely does not feel constrained by the shackles of subject very agreement nor by the boundaries of consistent use of the phrase “intellectual property.”

I think the main point of the write up is that the new type of information technology has to offer or provide “application configuration capabilities.” I thought old fashioned configuration files could do that, but maybe I am off base. I am not sure to do with the point that people don’t know how to code.

My take away from this blog post is that HP is churning out content that just doesn’t make much sense to me. My hunch is that HP wants to support its efforts to wrench itself away from printer ink to the new and somewhat commoditized world of cloud computing.

I am probably incorrect again. HP has a big hill to climb with its about face on things that are mobile, the fascinating Autonomy repositioning, and the price cutting from Google. I am sure HP’s next big thing will come from somewhere.

Stephen E Arnold, March 19, 2014

Determining SharePoint Cloud Deployment

March 18, 2014

Not so long ago, SharePoint deployment only meant one thing – onsite. However, users are now faced with a multitude of deployment options, which can be overwhelming. Even if users just look at cloud deployment, the options are numerous. CMS Wire helps break them down in their article, “SharePoint in the Cloud: You Have Options.”

The article begins:

“When it comes to hosting SharePoint on premises or moving it into the cloud, there is never one right answer. Companies need to understand every hosting option available to them and find the one that best fits their available resources and technical needs. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the available platforms and who might benefit most from each.”

The article then goes on to detail several different deployment options. Stephen E. Arnold gives a lot of attention to SharePoint on his Web site, ArnoldIT.com. He has made a career out of following search and its implications for organizations. SharePoint is perhaps the search application with the greatest reach.

Emily Rae Aldridge, March 18, 2014

Digital Government Makes People Unhappy

March 17, 2014

A GCN headline states that “Report Finds US Citizens Unhappy With Digital Government.” All we can say to this is we are not surprised. The Accenture report titled: “Digital Government: Pathways To Delivering Public Services For The Future” says that the US ranks sixth in government using social media and digital services to communicate with people.

US citizens are apparently uncomfortable with using mobile and cloud technology to communicate with the government.

The government launched 140 free apps in both English and Spanish that deal with government services, but 43 percent of the US does not to use them. As for the cloud, US citizens fear that security is not tight enough and their privacy rights are not protected. The report does offer three priorities that the US population wants the government to focus on:

“According to U.S. citizens, the top three priorities for improving future public services are to provide cost-efficient, sustainable services, to deliver a clear and stable long-term vision and to better understand better the priorities of citizens and communities.”

What exactly does that mean? It does not even add up to three! It sounds like a whole bunch of jib jab or a company’s bland mission statement. The US is never satisfied.

Whitney Grace, March 17, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Moving Towards The Future While Relying On The Old

March 3, 2014

We like to think we’ve left old computing formats in the past, but the Financial Review points out that is a misconception in “Cloud Computing Still Has a Mainframe Lining.” Organizations and governments in Australia are spouting their cloud-based policies left and right. The Australian Information Industry Association commissioned KPMG to estimate how the cloud can benefit the nation’s GDP. It showed that the nation would gain between $2-3 billion.

There has been criticism of the estimate that KPMG did not consider the benefits of on-site computing. KPMG was not asked to include this in their estimate. Australia is not even close to getting rid of their on-site setups. The move to the cloud is coming, but it is moving very slowly.

So mainframes will be around for a while:

“It is worth also noting that server platforms such as the mainframe – pronounced dead several times over the years – ­continue to play a critical role in most of ­Australia’s largest enterprises and government agencies, especially with core financial systems at the heart of the economy.

Australian Government Information Office data says mainframe spending among federal government agencies, for example, has remained around 6 per cent to 7 per cent of total government ICT expenditure for the past few years.”

Are we throwing the baby out with the bath water? For many organizations it is cheaper to remain with on-site computing than switching all functions over to the cloud. Face it, the current generation is entrenched in on-site computers. Cloud computing will take over, eventually.

Whitney Grace, March 03, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Hybrid Cloud Options for SharePoint

February 13, 2014

Hybrid clouds involve a combination of a public cloud-based service along with usage of a private cloud system. CMS Wire says that this is a trend that will continue to grow in 2014 and the cover the latest in their article, “Hybrid Clouds for SharePoint: Great, but Not for Everyone.”

The article says:

“The focus has not only been the public cloud, but also the hybrid cloud, which combines public cloud services (like Office 365) and applications / storage located in a private cloud. According to Gartner, it’s this hybrid cloud model that will really find its wings in 2014. Gartner actually predicts that by 2017 over half of the mainstream organizations will have a hybrid cloud.”

Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and often covers SharePoint on his information service, ArnoldIT.com. SharePoint and the cloud is a common topic on ArnoldIT.com, as users are intrigued by the Office 365 release. And while the jury is still out on concerns like security and ease of use, the cloud is a trend that is here to stay. The cost of storage continues to drop and users are more and more interested in supported services to streamline workflow.

Emily Rae Aldridge, February 13, 2014

Drink the Sweet KoolAid Cloud

February 7, 2014

The cloud assists businesses with users on the go as well as people who are dealing with the inevitable device crash. Amazon fully embraced the opportunities the cloud presented and debuted Amazon Web Services. Now, according to Maureen O’Gara of Sys-Con Media, “Mark Logic Leverages Amazon” with a new layer of cloud services.

MarkLogic Corporation adds a new level of cloud services, starting with its MarkLogic Server and it will allows customers to use its widgetry on a pay-per-hour basis.

Users will have the chance to take advantage of the features MarkLogic offers:

“The patented server, also certified on VMware’s virtualization platform, which lets users implement clouds on self-managed hardware, is generally used for custom publishing, search-based applications, content analytics, unified information access, metadata catalogs and threat intelligence systems.

It provides state-of-the-art features such as location awareness, real-time search and a shared-nothing cluster architecture that supports high performance against petabyte-scale databases.”

After uploading the cloud services, what will both Amazon and Mark Logic learn from the new cloud offerings? How will the clients learn to adapt the software for new uses? The sky is the limit and the clouds have hundreds of new experiences to try out.

Whitney Grace, February 07, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Watson Has Difficulty Translating to the Cloud

February 4, 2014

IBM’s Watson is proceeding to the cloud. Apparently, though, the journey is proving more challenging than expected. The Register reports, “IBM’s Watson-as-a-Cloud: Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No, it’s Another Mainframe.” Writer Jack Clark peers through the marketing hype, maintaining that Watson does not translate to the cloud as easily as IBM would have us believe.

The key to Watson’s functionality is its DeepQA analysis engine, which uses an amalgam of Apache‘s Hadoop, Apache’s UIMA, and other tools to achieve machine learning. This means, says Clark, that more work than one might expect must be done to get set up with the cloudy Watson.

He specifies:

“Applying DeepQA to any new domain requires adaptation in three areas:

*Content adaptation involves organizing the domain content for hypothesis and evidence generation, modeling the context in which questions will be generated

*Training adaptation involves adding data in the form of sample training questions and correct answers from the target domain so that the system can learn appropriate weights for its components when estimating answer confidence

*Functional adaptation involves adding new domain-specific question analysis, candidate generation, hypothesis scoring and other components.

Think of a mainframe. Watson seems a lot like one of those, as it preferences long-term relationships, an undisclosed financial outlay, and lock-in-by-default as this technology is only fielded by IBM. That’s not a terribly bad thing, mind, as for some organisations a tool like this could be useful. But it does mean you are right to be sceptical when IBM starts portraying Watson as a cloud product that’s is easy to get started with.”

The article reports that IBM is working on a lab that will help firms in Silicon Valley craft Watson-related apps. That may lead to easier transitions in the future, but in the meantime, any company considering adopting Watson-as-a-cloud should go in understanding that there will be much work to do before reaping the benefits of the famous AI’s wisdom.

Cynthia Murrell, February 04, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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