Microsoft: Is the Master of Windows 10 Updates Really Beating Amazon in the Cloud?

November 7, 2018

How about that October 2018 Windows update? Does that give you confidence in Microsoft’s technical acumen? What? You are telling me that it is apples and oranges. Okay. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

After reading a former Oracle executive’s analysis of Microsoft and Amazon cloud revenue, I suppose one could make that argument. I am not sure I buy the Forbes argument in “#1 Microsoft Beats Amazon In 12-Month Cloud Revenue, $26.7 Billion To $23.4 Billion; IBM Third.” The write up makes clear that the analyst is an award winning PR type at SAP and then a “communications officer” at Oracle before finding his true calling at Evans Strategic Communications LLC.

Is Microsoft #1?

From my point of view in lovely Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky, there are several items of information omitted from the Forbes’ analysis; for example:

How does Microsoft calculate its cloud revenue? Does the number include enforced cloud services?

What part of Microsoft’s cloud revenue is generated by accounting methods such as reallocating revenue and thinking really hard about attributing certain revenue to the cloud line items?

Using these accounting methods, how has Microsoft’s cloud revenue tracked over the last 12 quarters?

Analyses require more than accepting the rolled figure. But that’s in rural Kentucky, the rules may be different for PR experts in a real technology hotbed.

Now Amazon is no Mr. Clean when it comes to reporting its financial data. For years, AWS revenue was expressed as weird stuff like the number of things a complex network of computers does to complete work. Now Amazon generally reveals some numbers, and I assume these can be tweaked by figuring in some of the Amazon ecommerce magic into the cloud.

The larger question for me is:

Why is a former Oracle guy writing a pro Microsoft and pro IBM story about the cloud race among three firms?

The write up included this bit of “let’s not talk about the October update” offered up by Microsoft’s big dog:

CEO Satya Nadella offered this perspective on the centerpiece of the Microsoft cloud: “Azure is the only hyperscale cloud that extends to the edge across identity, data, application platform and security and management. We introduced 100 new Azure capabilities this quarter alone, focused on both existing workloads like security and new workloads like IoT and Edge AI.”

Yep, I believe this. Every. Word.

Perhaps nailing down the inclusions in the gross cloud revenue numbers would be a useful first step? Would it be helpful to learn why an Oracle PR pro is dissing Amazon?

The capitalist tool’s presentation of this analysis might have caused Malcolm Forbes to crash his motorcycle on the way to brunch in Manhattan on Sunday morning.

Quite an “analysis.”

Stephen E. Arnold, November  7, 2018

The Decentralized Web

August 16, 2018

The idea is a good one. The Web is not delivered from a handful of centralized companies. On the other hand, decentralization has not achieved the success many have predicted.

We read “What Do You Believe Now That You Didn’t Five Years Ago.” We also noted “Tron to Become the Google for Blockchain Industry? Taking Slow Steps to Achieve Its Aim to ‘Decentralize the Web’”. Both of these articles are interesting.

The “What Do You Believe” discussion makes a good point:

Today, servers aren’t even cattle, servers are insects connected over fast networks. Centralization is not only possible now, it’s economical, it’s practical, it’s controllable, it’s governable, it’s economies of scalable, it’s reliable, it’s walled gardenable, it’s monetizable, it’s affordable, it’s performance tunable, it’s scalable, it’s cacheable, it’s securable, it’s defensible, it’s brandable, it’s ownable, it’s right to be forgetable, it’s fast releasable, it’s debuggable, it’s auditable, it’s copyright checkable, it’s GDPRable, it’s safe for China searchable, it’s machine learnable, it’s monitorable, it’s spam filterable, it’s value addable.

If true, decentralization is unlikely because of one major “able”: Economical.

The “Tron” article makes this point:

Tron Foundation aims to use BlockChain.Org aims to observe and keep a track of all the information on social media, web, and other existing search engines. The information will be in all possible formats such as regular text, videos, pdf and other structured data.

Our question: Are these different visions or the same goal: A central point?

Stephen E Arnold, August 16, 2018

Google Contributes to the History of Kubernetes

August 15, 2018

It is time for a history lesson; the Google Cloud Platform Blog proffers, “From Google to the World: The Kubernetes Origin Story.” Anyone curious about the origins of the open source management system may want to check it out. The post begins with a description of the 2013 meeting at which the Kubernetes co-founders pitched their idea to executive Urs Holzle, which only happened because one of those founders (and author of the post) Craig McLuckie found himself on a shuttle with the company’s then-VP of Cloud Eric Brewer. To conclude the post, McLuckie notes Kubernetes is now deployed in thousands of organizations and has benefitted from some 237 person-years’ worth of coding put in by some 830 contributors. In between we find a little Star Trek-related trivia; McLuckie writes:

“In keeping with the Borg theme, we named it Project Seven of Nine. (Side note: in an homage to the original name, this is also why the Kubernetes logo has seven sides.) We wanted to build something that incorporated everything we had learned about container management at Google through the design and deployment of Borg and its successor, Omega — all combined with an elegant, simple and easy-to-use UI. In three months, we had a prototype that was ready to share.

We also noted this statement:

“We always believed that open-sourcing Kubernetes was the right way to go, bringing many benefits to the project. For one, feedback loops were essentially instantaneous — if there was a problem or something didn’t work quite right, we knew about it immediately. But most importantly, we were able to work with lots of great engineers, many of whom really understood the needs of businesses who would benefit from deploying containers (have a look at the Kubernetes blog for perspectives from some of the early contributors).”

McLuckie includes links for potential users to explore the Kubernetes Engine and, perhaps, begin a two-month free trial. Finally, he suggests we navigate to his Kubernetes Origins podcast hosted by Software Engineering Daily for more information.

History is good.

Cynthia Murrell, August 15, 2018

Amazon Clarification on Network Switches

July 19, 2018

I read an exclusive on Marketwatch. (I did not know it was “real” journalism.) The story is “Exclusive: Amazon Denies It Will Challenge Cisco with Switch Sales.” The story’s main point struck me as:

Amazon.com Inc.’s top cloud-computing executive has officially denied that Amazon Web Services plans to start selling network switches to other businesses, after a report last week claiming that move was in the works damaged stocks of Cisco Systems Inc. and other major networking companies.

I think I understand.

Amazon may be building switches with Amazon Web Services and maybe its streaming data marketplace baked in. But these switches will not be old to “other businesses.”

Such a switch would add some functionality to Amazon’s own infrastructure. I wonder if these switches, assuming they exist, would add some beef to Amazon’s government client activities. For example, some lawful intercept activities take place at network tiers where there are some quite versatile switches.

The write up adds:

Amazon would not comment on whether it is creating its own networking equipment, just that it did not plan to sell such equipment to other businesses.

If Amazon wins more US government cloud and AWS centric work, certification of these devices eliminates possible questions about backdoors or phone home functions in gear sourced from other companies.

To sum up, Amazon does not deny it is building switches (whatever that term includes).

Worth watching in the context of the on going dust up between Oracle’s data marketplace and Amazon’s designs on building a new source of revenue with its marketplace innovations.

Stephen E Arnold, July 19, 2018

Oracle: A Leader in a Blockchain Service Which Is Fast, Efficient, and Cost Effective

July 18, 2018

Neither Amazon’s nor Oracle’s blockchain capabilities have captured the imagination of die hard Facebookers or Tweet drones. I read “Global Businesses Turn to Oracle Blockchain Service to Speed Transactions Securely.” The write up struck me as a content marketing type document, but I am skeptical of much of the information I sift each day.

The main point of the write up struck me as an argument for Oracle as the blockchain tool chest and service provider for an organization wanting to avail themselves of the distributed database technology. Oracle suggests in the write up that its approach can transform, provide efficiency, and cost effectiveness.

I noted this statement:

Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service provides customers with a development platform to build their own networks, and to quickly integrate with Oracle SaaS and third-party applications they already use, as well as other blockchain networks and Oracle PaaS services. It also enables users to provision blockchain networks, join other organizations, and deploy and run smart contracts to update and query the ledger. Oracle’s blockchain platform leverages the company’s decades of experience across industries and its extensive partner ecosystem to reliably share and conduct trusted transactions with suppliers, banks, and other trade partners through blockchain.

There is a nod to Linux and the uptime of the Oracle cloud. That would be welcome news to any Oracle customer who tried to take advantage of Amazon discount day deals. My understanding is that Amazon Prime was a different cut of beef yesterday, but I could be mistaken. Cloud services do have their issues, and even the vaunted Google stumbled with streaming video, a technology which I thought was nailed down.

Back to Oracle.

As interesting was the use of Oracle’s blockchain service to verify the virginity of olive oil, I noted this factoid:

“As a company dedicated to making business-to-business payments and supply chain finance secure, frictionless and ubiquitous using blockchain, we are able to significantly accelerate the time to onboard corporations, their suppliers and banks by using Oracle’s blockchain platform,” said Amit Baid, CEO, TradeFin. “It provides a REST API-driven platform with rich integration options in Oracle Cloud Platform, allowing us to quickly onboard existing customers. Additionally, Oracle Scaleup Ecosystem provides access to the platform itself, cloud credits, mentoring, and a number of Oracle resources that can help start-ups like ours grow quickly.”

After reading the write up, it struck me that there were some parallels between Oracle’s service and Amazon’s Ethereum and Hyper Ledger capabilities. The API angle is interesting because Oracle, like Amazon, can knit together other functions and services to create quite specific implementations of the technology.

I did not three things:

First, there was no mention of the number of Amazon professionals who now work at Oracle. Our research suggests that like IBM, Oracle has been able to lure some of Amazon’s own experts with relevant work experience and perhaps some patent highway miles under his or her belt.

Second, Oracle emphasizes cost effectiveness. I assume that quite a few Oracle customers will be delighted with that news. Oracle’s products, services, and engineering support can be expensive when compared to some competitors’ offerings. Microsoft Azure has allegedly been aggressive with some pricing deals, but that may be idle chatter. After all, the high end Surface notebook is supposed to run fast and cool.

Third, the evidence for the value of the speedy Oracle blockchain implementation is none other than IDC. That’s quite an outfit. I wonder if the firm has realigned its compass after selling my reports on Amazon without obtaining permission in writing or paying me for helping make IDC so darned smart. Great and credible source for something as important as blockchain is IDC. But that’s just my normal skepticism.

Stephen E Arnold, July 18, 2018

Some Happy, Some Sad in Seattle Over Cloud Deal Review

July 12, 2018

I know little about the procurement skirmishes fought over multi billion dollar deals for cloud services. The pragmatic part of my experience suggests that the last thing most statement of work and contract processes produce is efficient, cost effective contracts. Quite a few COTRs, lawyers, super grades, and mere SETAs depend on three things:

  1. Complex, lengthy processes; that is, work producing tasks
  2. Multiple vendors; for example, how many databases does one agency need? Answer: Many, many databases. Believe me, there are many great reasons ranging from the way things work in Washington to legacy systems which will never be improved in my lifetime.
  3. Politics. Ah, yes, lobbyists, special interests, friends of friends, and sometimes the fact that a senior official knows that a person once worked at a specific outfit.

When I read, “Deasy Pauses on JEDI Cloud Acquisition,” I immediately thought about the giant incumbent database champions like IBM Federal Systems and Oracle’s government operations unit.

deasy

Department of Defense CIO Dana Deasy wants a “full top down, bottom up review” of the JEDI infrastructure acquisition.

But there was a moment of reflection, when I realized that this procurement tussle will have significant impact on the Seattle area. You know, Seattle, the city which has delivered Microsoft Bob and the Amazon mobile phone.

Microsoft and Amazon are in the cloud business. Microsoft is the newcomer, but it is the outfit which has the desktops of many government agencies. Everyone loves SharePoint. The Department of Defense could not hold a briefing without PowerPoint.

Let’s not forget Amazon. That is the platform used by most government workers, their families, and possibly their friends if that Amazon account slips into the wild. Who could exist in Tyson’s Corner or Gaithersburg without Amazon delivering essential foods such as probiotic supplements for the dog.

Microsoft is probably thrilled that the JEDI procurement continues to be a work in progress. Amazon, on the other hand, is likely to be concerned that its slam dunk for a government cloud game home run has been halted due to procedural thunderstorms.

Thus, part of Seattle is really happy. Another part of Seattle is not so happy.

Since I don’t’ have a dog in this fight, my hunch is that little in Washington, DC changes from administrative change to administrative change.

But this Seattle dust up will be interesting to watch. I think it will have a significant impact on Amazon and Microsoft. IBM Federal Systems and Oracle will be largely unscathed.

Exciting procurement activity is underway. Defense Department CIO Deasy Deasy’s promise of a “full top down, bottom up review” sounds like the words to a song I have heard many times.

With $10 billion in play, how long will that review take? My hunch is that it will introduce the new CIO to a new concept, “government time.”

Stephen E Arnold, July 12, 2018

Google Cloud: Dissipating with a Chance for Unsettled Weather

July 4, 2018

I love Google. It’s relevant. I am not sure the folks at CNBC share my enthusiasm. Navigate to “Google Cloud’s COO Has Left after Less Than a Year.” To be exact, I think Diane Bryant, Google Cloud Chief Operating Officer, was a Googler for about 13 months. In Internet dog years, that a long time, is it not? Maybe not? Here’s a different employment number: Seven months.

I highlighted this passage:

Bryant’s hire was a win for the search giant’s cloud business, which is widely seen as No. 3 in the public cloud market, behind Amazon and Microsoft. As the relative newcomer in the space, Google Cloud’s challenge has been to prove its capabilities to large businesses, though Greene has said that there are no more “deal blockers” in the way of new contracts.

Fact, snark, digital corn beef hash?

I don’t know. I continue to wonder if Alphabet Google’s approach to management is going to allow the company to keep pace with and then surpass the Bezos buck machine.

I will be reviewing my Amazon research at the September Telestrategies ISS LE and intelligence conference in Washington, DC. I will focus on both management and technical tactics.

I am not sure there will be a reference to Google until I have a sense that it is managed for sustainable innovation, in the cloud and on the ground as it were.

Stephen E Arnold, July 4, 2018

Munich Migrates To Windows 10

March 28, 2018

Despite the superiority of other operating systems, Microsoft Windows still tops the list as a popular office enterprise tool.  Windows PCs have easy user interfaces, applications for easy management, and are understood at a near universal level.  It does not come as a surprise when Munich, Germany decided to implement a change to Windows 10, says Silicon: “Munich Approves 49.3 million Euro Windows 10 Migration Plan.”

Munich’s city council decided to spend over 50 million euros to migrate their computer system to Microsoft Windows 10.  This is the first major overhaul the city council has had since 2004 when they implemented a Linux desktop program.  Linux is the open source software of choice and the city council decided to use it to reduce their dependency on Microsoft.

The “LiMux” programme saw a customised version of Ubuntu Linux rolled out to about 14,800 of the city’s 29,000 users and LibreOffice used by more than 15,000, in a bid to reduce the government’s dependence upon Microsoft.  In 2012 then-mayor Christian Ude said LiMux had saved Munich more than €4m in licensing costs.  The rollout was completed in 2013, nearly 10 years after it began, but a political shift the following year saw leadership turn in favour of a return to Windows.

The transition back to Microsoft comes with a change in the city council’s leadership.  Dieter Reiter pushed fo have Microsoft license and he won.  The Microsoft Windows transition cost of over 49 million euros is only part of the 89 million euro IT overhaul that is in progress.  The IT overhaul also includes retraining and testing staff.

The Munich city council will not be migrating to Microsoft Office, which would incur an even higher price tag.  Munich will instead continue to use LibreOffice, because of the staff’s familiarity and the custom templates.  The city council also hopes to implement cloud application usage.

As with anything related to politics, opposing parties are critical of the return to Microsoft and say it wastes money.  Nothing new on that end and it only points to more organizational problems than a simple OS.

Whitney Grace, March 28, 2018

IBM Releases Power9 AI and Machine Learning Chip

February 12, 2018

Make no mistake, the new AI processor from IBM has Watson written all over it—but it does move the software into new territory. We get a glimpse from the brief write-up, “IBM Has a New Chip for AI and Machine Learning” at IT Pro Portal. The new chip, dubbed Power9, is now available through IBM’s cloud portal and through third-party vendors and is built into the new AC9222 platform. (See here for a more detailed discussion of both Power9 and AC9222.) Writer Sead Fadilpaši? quotes market analyst Patrick Moorhead, who states:

Power9 is a chip which has a new systems architecture that is optimized for accelerators used in machine learning. Intel makes Xeon CPUs and Nervana accelerators and NVIDIA makes Tesla accelerators. IBM’s Power9 is literally the Swiss Army knife of ML acceleration as it supports an astronomical amount of IO and bandwidth, 10X of anything that’s out there today.

That is strong praise. Fadilpaši? also quotes IBM’s Brad McCredie, who observes:

Modern workloads are becoming accelerated and the Nvidia GPU is a common accelerator. We have seen this trend coming. We built a deep relationship with them and a partnership between the Power system and the GPU. We have a unique bus that runs between the processor and the GPU and has 10x peak bandwidth over competitive systems.

Will the Power9 live up to its expectations? We suspect IBM has reason to hope for success here.

Cynthia Murrell, February 12, 2018

Moving Legacy Apps to the Cloud: Failure Looms

January 25, 2018

I read “How to Move Legacy Applications to the Cloud.” The write up is interesting because in my opinion what’s offered will guarantee failure. As I recall from English 101 taught by a certain PhD who believed in formulaic writing, a “how to” consists of a series of steps. These should be explained in detail and, if possible, illustrated with word pictures or diagrams. Get it wrong. Get an F.

This “How to Move Legacy” essay would probably warrant a rewrite.

Here’s an example of a real life situation.

A small company has a mainframe running a Cobol application to keep track of products. The company has a client server system to keep track of money. The company has a Windows system to provide data to the company’s Web site which resides on its ISP’s system.

Okay, read this article and tell me how to move this real life system to the cloud.

Telling me to pick a cloud provider which meets my needs is not a how to, gentle reader. It is hoo-hah which would make an English 101 instructor fret.

Some companies cannot move legacy applications to the cloud. In my experience there are several reasons:

First, the person who coded the legacy system may not be around anymore and reverse engineering a legacy system may not be something the current IT staff and its consultants are keen to tackle.

Second, figuring out how three systems which are working takes time and money. Note the money part. Documentation is often sparse. The flow diagrams are long gone. Why spend the money? I would love to hear the reasons from the soon-to-be-terminated project manager.

Third, savvy managers ask, “What’s the payoff?” Marketing generalizations should not be the “facts” marshaled to fund a cloud migration effort. If there are good reasons, these can be quantified or back up with verifiable information, not opinions from a vendor.

Articles which explain how to move legacy systems without facts, details, and a coherent plan of attack are not too helpful here in Harrod’s Creek.

Stephen E Arnold, January 25, 2018

Management resistance

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