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Amazon Web Services: Crushing the Competition?

March 23, 2016

I read “Attack! Run. WTF? A Decade of Enterprise Class Fear and Uncertainty with AWS.” I am not sure if Amazon’s Web Services’ business is being praised or criticized. Nevertheless, the write up has some interesting factoids. I highlighted these statements:

IBM’s Cloud Services

  • IBM, … was so flabbergasted [when Amazon won a US government contract] that the Blue Shirts of Armonk decided on the old-school route to victory and filed a legal complaint asking the government to re-evaluate IBM’s deal against that of Amazon, which Big Blue later withdrew.
  • Famed for re-inventing itself around software in the 1990s under Lou Gerstner, the majority of IBM’s focus for the 2000s was devoted to unloading the PC and the server businesses on China. The firm is now trapped in a maelstrom of transition, restructuring and layoffs. Like Microsoft, IBM seems to have believed AWS couldn’t happen to it, that what the world needed was the same server software and services. It was nearly seven years after AWS that IBM realized something was afoot – probably when it lost both the CIA deal and got slapped about its attempts to make the CIA love it – that Big Blue said it would spend $2bn buying computing player SoftLayer and in 2014 throw $1.2bn into a massive data centre expansion to host your data and compute.

Microsoft Cloud Services

  • Azure succumbed to classic innovator’s dilemma: how to sell a new platform as a package and at a price to maximize revenue without cannibalizing the company’s actual main money-makers – PC and server software. After delayed starts under Ray Ozzie and Bob Muglia, the technology roadmap only really clicked under new CEO Satya Nadella and executive software nerd Scott Guthrie. One brought the CEO-level commitment, the other made Azure work for developers.
  • Gartner today regards Azure as number two, behind AWS, and yet… According to Gartner’s incumbent Cloud Queen Lydia Leong, Azure lacks the polish of AWS.

Oracle Cloud Services

  • Oracle, which bought Sun, preferred to play a Game of Thrones that was corporate M&A to hold onto its position in IT. Sadly, it chose wrong; Oracle spent $8.5bn on Sun but ultimately discontinued the company’s fledgling utility computing service. Hardware and Java was what Oracle wanted.
  • Today, Oracle’s resultant hardware business makes just half the revenue of AWS and is is shrinking – falling 13 per cent to $1.1bn – versus AWS’s 69 per cent growth last quarter to $2.4bn. That past complacency of Oracle’s CEO on cloud has put Oracle firmly in a pack of also rans behind AWS on platform cloud, with Oracle now throwing PR at a problem to convince Wall St it is credible as a provider of IT as a service.

And what about Amazon? The write up points out:

  • AWS is still attacking – growing at a phenomenal rate, 71 per cent in its recent quarter to $2.4bn and 69 per cent for the year to $7.88bn. The appetite among enterprises for AWS’s style of technology and model of delivery clearly hasn’t yet been satiated.
  • …the truth is AWS now has its fences across so much of the cloud, removing them isn’t an option. The big question then for AWS at the age of 10 is this: when will the old men of IT regain their wind? How big will be their counter-attack and will it be concerted? Will it pose a tangible threat and how would AWS respond?

I noted that Apple has shifted some of its cloud business to the Google from AWS. I assume the Board of Directors’ excitement is now behind the kids from Cupertino. What’s clear is that IBM and Oracle seem to face an uphill slog if I understand the write up. Read the original and decide for yourself. I love the WTF. Some stakeholders may be asking this question too.

Stephen E Arnold, March 23, 2016

Recommind Enables Easier Oversight into E-Discovery for Legal Industry

February 19, 2016

A recent article, entitled Recommind Adds Muscle to Cloud e-Discovery from CMS Wire, highlights an upgrade to Recommind’s Axcelerate e-discovery platform. This information intelligence and governance provider for the legal industry has upped their offering by adding a new efficiency scoring feature to enable “extensive visibility into the overall e-discovery review process.” Recommind make the updated based on polling their clients and finding 80 percent do not have oversight in regards to the technological competency of their outside counsel:

“Citing the same survey, he added that 72 percent of respondents pointed to insufficient visibility into the discovery practices of their outside counsel — legal professionals working with them but outside the firm — as a major concern. Axcelerate Cloud also eliminates the cost unpredictability that arises with traditional hosting charges with cloud-based e-discovery tools providers and the infrastructure maintenance required for on-premises solutions.”

When insights from big data is what a company is after, stronger cloud-based functionality is often the first step. Reminds us of enterprise search firm Autonomy which was eventually sold to HP. What will be next for Recommind?


Megan Feil, February 19, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Coveo Lauds Itself for Growth, Innovation, and Industry Awards

February 16, 2016

The article on EIN News titled Coveo Achieves Another Record-Breaking Quarter and Calendar Year of Rapid Growth discusses the search companies growth and recognition in a nakedly self-congratulating post. In 2015, Coveo released both Coveo Cloud, a streamlined search-as-a-service, and Coveo Reveal, a self-learning search service aimed at understanding intent to ensure improved accuracy and relevance in search results. The article states,

“The company expanded its SI ecosystem with several leading CRM and Customer Community system integrators, including Appirio, Bluewolf, Cloud Sherpas, Etherios, NTT Data Cloud Services and Vertiba. Exiting 2015, Coveo had in excess of 100 certified SI partners… Coveo for Sitecore was named as a 2015 CUSTOMER Magazine Product of the Year Award winner, marking the fourth consecutive year that Coveo has won this award (In January of 2015 Coveo received its fifth consecutive CUSTOMER Magazine product of the year award…)”

So just how big was that fish Coveo caught? The private company reports a “record breaking quarter” lists any number of current projects and industry recognitions. According to the article, the company now has a total amount of financing of $75 million. 2015 was clearly a very good year, particularly in the financial services market. What company can resist patting itself on the back?

Chelsea Kerwin, February 16, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Feeding the Google AI Beast and Keeping in Mind, You Are What You Eat

January 13, 2016

The article titled We are All SkyNet in the Googlesphere on Disinformation refers to the Terminator’s controlling A.I., SkyNet, who determines the beginning of a machine age in the movie, and the conspiracy that Google is taking on that role in reality. Is it easy to understand the fear of Google’s reach, it does sometimes seem like a gigantic arm with a thousand hands groping about in cyberspace, and collecting little pieces of information that on their own seem largely harmless. The article discusses cloud computing and its relationship to the conspiracy,

“When you need your bits of info, your computer gathers them from the cloud again. The cloud is SkyNet’s greatest line of defense, as you can’t kill what is spread out over an entire network. Since the magnificent expose of the NSA and their ability to (at least) access every keystroke, file or phone call and Google’s (at minimum) complicity in managing the data, that is to say, nearly all data being collected, it’s hard to imagine the limitations to what any such Google AI program could learn.”

The article ends philosophically with the suggestion that the nature of a modern day SkyNet will depend on the data that it gathers from us, that we will create the monster in our likeness. This may not be where we expected the article to go, but it does make sense. Google as a company will not determine it, at least if literature has taught us anything.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 13, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Business World Is Not Prepared for a Cyber Attack

January 12, 2016

Cyber threats have been a concerning topics since computers became functional and daily tools for people.  The idea of a hacker brings up images of IT geeks sitting in a dark basement with their laptops and cracking top secret codes in a matter of keystrokes.  Hacking has turned from a limited crime to a huge international problem comparable to the mafia.  While hackers are interested in targeting individuals, the bolder thieves target big businesses.  News of Bahrain shares that “Biz Not Prepared For Cyber Threat,” translated from headline speech that means the business world would not withstand a cyber attack.

KPMG International released the 2015 KPMG CEO Outlook Study that found businesses are aware of risks associated with cyber attacks, but only forty-nine percent have prepared for one.  The study surveyed 1,200 CEOs and one out of five are concerned about cyber risks.  The concern has led many CEOs to take action with security measures and safety plans.

“ ‘The most innovative companies have recognized that cyber security is a customer experience, not just a risk that needs to be managed or a line item in the budget. In Bahrain, some firms are finding ways to turn cyber preparedness into a competitive advantage with customers, and they are using this as a differentiator.’ ”

Many companies that are attacked thought they were prepared for any threats, but they underestimated hackers’ intelligence, sophistication, and persistence.

Some of the companies with good cyber security are advertising their technical achievements to prevent attacks.  It is a desirable feature, especially as more information is housed on cloud storage and businesses need to be aware of potential threats.

Whitney Grace, January 12, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There Is a Hole in the Cloud

January 11, 2016

Everyone is running to the cloud to reserve their own personal data spot.  Companies have migrated their services to the cloud to serve a growing mobile clientele.  If you are not on the cloud, it is like you’re still using an old flip phone.  The cloud is a viable and useful service that allows people to access their data anytime and anywhere.  Business Insider reveals that cloud usage is heavily concentrated in the US:  “Latest Data From The Valley’s Oldest VC Firm Shows One Big Flaw In The Hype Around The Cloud.”

Bessemer Venture Partners is the longest running venture capitalist company in Silicon Valley.  To celebrate its 100th cloud investment, it surveyed where the company’s cloud investments are located.  Seventy-six of the startups are in the US, eleven are in Israel, and four are in Canada.

“The fact that less than one-quarter of BVP’s cloud investments are in non-US startups shows the adoption of cloud technologies is lagging in the rest of the world. It’s also a reminder that, even after all these years of cloud hype, many countries are still concerned about some aspects of cloud technology.”

Cloud adoption around the world is slow due to the US invents a lot of new technology and the rest of the world must catch up.  Security is another big concern and companies are hesitant to store sensitive information on a system with issues.

The cloud has only been on the market for ten years and has only gained attention in the past five.  Cell phones, laptops, and using open source software took time to catch on as well.

Whitney Grace, January 11, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Cloud Performance: The Storage Function

January 7, 2016

Curious about which cloud storage system is “faster”? A partial answer appears in “AWS S3 vs Google Cloud vs Azure: Cloud Storage Performance.” The write up presents performance data for downloads, splitting up data across regions, and uploads. The three services evidence difference performance characteristics. Network throughput remains an issue. If you find one system performing poorly, perhaps the problem falls into the shadows of a link in the chain balking or, in some cases, being down.

The net net is that Google’s service appears to take some time to queue up the operation. Once underway, the Google is marginally quicker for some operations and pretty snappy for others. Azure, which does not surprise me too much, seems to be bringing up the rear. The retail giant Amazon which offloads some of its infrastructure costs to its cloud customers is in the middle of the pack.

For those wanting to move search to the low-cost, ever reliable cloud, those server farms under one’s own control may eliminate some restless nights. Interesting stuff. Now, what about that pricing?

Stephen E Arnold, January 7, 2016

Searching Google Drive Is Easier than Ever

December 29, 2015

Google search is supposed to be the most reliable and accurate search, so by proxy Google Drive should be easy to search as well, right?  Wrong!  Google Drive is like a cartoon black hole.  It has an undisclosed amount of space and things easily get lost in it.  Fear not, Google Drive users for Tech Republic has posted a nifty guide on how to use Google Drive’s search and locate your lost spreadsheets and documents: “Pro Tip: How To Use Google Drive’s New And Improved Search.”

Google drive can now be searched with more options: owner, keywords. Item name, shared with, date modified, file type, and located in.  The article explains the quickest way to search Google Drive is with the standard wildcard.  It is the search filter where you add an asterisk to any of the listed search types and viola, the search results list all viable options.  The second method is described as the most powerful option, because it is brand new advanced search feature.  By clicking on the drop down arrow box in the search box, you can access filters to limit or expand your search results.

“For anyone who depends upon Google Drive to store and manage their data, the new search tool will be a major plus. No longer will you have to dig through a vast array of search results to find what you’re looking for. Narrow the field down with the new Drive search box.”

The new search features are pretty neat, albeit standard for most databases.  Why did it take Google so long to deploy them in the first place?

Whitney Grace, December 29, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

New Years Resolutions in Personal Data Security

December 22, 2015

The article on ITProPortal titled What Did We Learn in Records Management in 2016 and What Lies Ahead for 2016? delves into the unlearnt lessons in data security. The article begins with a look back over major data breaches, including Ashley Madison, JP Morgan et al, and Vtech and gathers from them the trend of personal information being targeted by hackers. The article reports,

“A Crown Records Management Survey earlier in 2015 revealed two-thirds of people interviewed – all of them IT decision makers at UK companies with more than 200 employees – admitted losing important data… human error is continuing to put that information at risk as businesses fail to protect it properly…but there is legislation on the horizon that could prompt change – and a greater public awareness of data protection issues could also drive the agenda.”

The article also makes a few predictions about the upcoming developments in our approach to data protection. Among them includes the passage of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) and the resulting affect on businesses. In terms of apps, the article suggests that more people might start asking questions about the information required to use certain apps (especially when the data they request is completely irrelevant to the functions of the app.) Generally optimistic, these developments will only occur of people and businesses and governments take data breaches and privacy more seriously.


Chelsea Kerwin, December 22, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Internet Sovereignty, Apathy, and the Cloud

December 21, 2015

The OS News post titled Dark Clouds Over the Internet presents an argument that boils down to a choice between international accord and data sharing agreement, or the risk of the Internet being broken up into national networks. Some very worked up commenters engaged in an interesting discussion that spanned government overreaching, democracy, data security, privacy, and for some reason, climate change. One person summarized their opinion thusly:

“Best policy: don’t store data with someone else. There is no cloud. It’s just someone else’s computer.”

In response, a user named Alfman replied that companies are to blame for the current lack of data security, or more precisely, people are generally to blame for allowing this state of affairs to exist,

The privacy issues we’re now seeing are a direct consequence of corporate business models pushing our data into their central silos. None of this is surprising except perhaps how willing users have been to forgo their own privacy. Collectively, it seems that we are very willing to give up our rights for very little in exchange… makes it difficult to achieve critical mass around technologies promoting data independence.”

It is hard to argue with the apathy factor, with data breaches occurring regularly and so little being done by individuals to protect themselves. Good thing these commenters have figured it all out. Next up, solving climate change.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 21, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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