The New Hewlett Packard Enterprise: HP Eeek

November 30, 2016

i read “HPE Posts Mixed Q4 Results.” The main idea in the write up is that HPE squeezed out some profit despite a drop in year on year revenue. I noted one interesting phrase in the write up in the midst of the fancy dancing around the revenue erosion:

In September, HPE said it will “spin-merge” its non-core software assets with Micro Focus, a software company based in the UK, in a transaction worth around $8.8 billion. These moves will enable HPE, Whitman said, to be more nimble, play higher growth margins and have an enhanced financial profile.

I also like the confections worthy of the Food Channel expressed in this statement:

The company’s goal, she [Ms. Whitman, chief cook] said, is to be the industry’s leading provider of hybrid IT built on the secure, next-generation software-defined infrastructure that runs customers’ data centers today, bridges them to multi-cloud environments tomorrow, and powers of the emerging intelligent edge. [Emphasis added to highlight jargon]

Yes, intelligent edge. Yep, the edge of my desk is possibly intelligent? But I love the thought behind “intelligent edge.” Maybe I would tweak the phrase to say “intelligence edge.” But, hey, I am not a manager at an outfit with a history of board floundering, flubbed acquisitions, and selling off assets.

When I read the reports of the HPE financial results I had this thought:

I wonder if HPE’s senior management has properties with the bookings and potential of Dr. Michael Lynch’s DarkTrace.

Dr. Lynch is going one direction: up. HPE is going another: down.

I doubt if the senior management of HPE thinks much about Dr. Lynch’s business acumen. HPE thinks about finding a scapegoat for its own failure in the due diligence process, understanding the search and content processing market, and its management methods.

As I said, just a thought.

Stephen E Arnold, November 30, 2016

Pitching All Source Analysis: Just Do Dark Data. Really?

November 25, 2016

I read “Shedding Light on Dark Data: How to Get Started.” Okay, Dark Data. Like Big Data, the phrase is the fruit of the nomads at Garner Group. The person embracing this sort of old concept is an outfit OdinText. Spoiler: I thought the write up was going to identify outfits like BAE Systems, Centrifuge Systems, IBM Analyst’s Notebook, Palantir Technologies, and Recorded Future (an In-Q-Tel and Google backed outfit). Was I wrong? Yes.

The write up explains that a company has to tackle a range of information in order to be aware, informed, or insightful. Pick one. Here’s the list of Dark Data types, which the aforementioned companies have been working to capture, analyze, and make sense of for almost 20 years in the case of NetReveal (Detica) and Analyst’s Notebook. The other companies are comparative spring chickens with an average of seven years’ experience in this effort.

  • Customer relationship management data
  • Data warehouse information
  • Enterprise resource planning information
  • Log files
  • Machine data
  • Mainframe data
  • Semi structured information
  • Social media content
  • Unstructured data
  • Web content.

I think the company or non profit which tries to suck in these data types and process them may run into some cost and legal issues. Analyzing tweets and Facebook posts can be useful, but there are costs and license fees required. Frankly not even law enforcement and intelligence entities are able to do a Cracker Jack job with these content streams due to their volume, cryptic nature, and pesky quirks related to metadata tagging. But let’s move on. To this statement:

Phone transcripts, chat logs and email are often dark data that text analytics can help illuminate. Would it be helpful to understand how personnel deal with incoming customer questions? Which of your products are discussed with which of your other products or competitors’ products more often? What problems or opportunities are mentioned in conjunction with them? Are there any patterns over time?

Yep, that will work really well in many legal environments. Phone transcripts are particularly exciting.

How does one think about Dark Data? Easy. Here’s a visualization from the OdinText folks:

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Notice that there are data types in this diagram NOT included in the listing above. I can’t figure out if this is just carelessness or an insight which escapes me.

How does one deal with Dark Data? OdinText, of course. Yep, of course. Easy.

Stephen E Arnold, November 25, 2016

Surprise, Most Dark Web Content Is Legal

November 21, 2016

If you have been under the impression that Dark Web is that big chunk of the Internet where all activities and content is illegal, you are wrong.

In a news report published by Neowin, and titled Terbium Labs: Most of the Dark Web Content, Visible Through Tor, Is Legal reveals:

Contrary to popular belief that the majority of the dark web, accessible through Tor is mostly legal… or offline! With extremism making up just a minuscule 0.2% of the content looked at.

According to this Quora thead, Dark Web was developed by US Military and Intelligence to communicate with their assets securely. The research started in 1995 and in 1997, mathematicians at Naval Research Laboratory developed The Onion Router Project or Tor. People outside Military Intelligence started using Tor to communicate with others for various reasons securely. Of course, people with ulterior motives spotted this opportunity and began utilizing Tor. This included arms and drug dealers, human traffickers, pedophiles. Mainstream media thus propagated the perception that Dark Web is an illegal place where criminal actors lurk, and all content is illegal.

Terbium Labs study indicates that 47.7% of content is legal and rest is borderline legal in the form of hacking services. Very little content is technically illegal like child pornography, arms dealing, drug dealing, and human trafficking related.

The Dark Web, however, is not a fairyland where illegal activities do not occur. As the news report points out:

While this report does prove that seedy websites exist on the dark web, they are in fact a minority, contradictory to what many popular news reports would have consumers believe.

Multiple research agencies have indicated that most content is legal on Dark Web with figures to back that up. But they still have not revealed, what this major chunk of legal content is made of? Any views?

Vishal Ingole, November 21, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Alphabet Google Spells Out Clueless for EU

November 17, 2016

I read “Google: EU Commissioners Don’t Understand Antitrust Law.” The main point of the write up is that the Googlers perceive the regulatory folks in the European Union as have a problem with their reading skills and logical thought. Who knows if this is true? I just love the idea of a Sillycon Valley company informing government officials that they are, in a word, clueless. Ah, the confidence of the online advertising outfit.

The write up informed me that:

In an effort to soften the European Commission’s inquiry into business practices, Google has claimed that those bringing charges against it do not fully understand antitrust law.

The source for the insight was a write up in a Google blog penned by a real live Googler called “Improving Quality Isn’t Anti Competitive, Part II.” The write up points out that online shopping is “robustly competitive.”

What’s interesting is that the European Union does not agree with the Googler it seems. Is it possible that the clueless wonders will take umbrage at Google’s view of their inquiry? Nah, I bet those EU folks are darned forgiving. The regulators have given Google extensions so that the company could respond to the allegations about Google’s putting its thumb on the scale when weighing cheese.

I do love the idea that regulators do not understand the laws they are charged with interpreting and enforcing. Let’s see. Yes, I remember that Google took a similar approach to its China business. How has that been working out for Google? The Alphabet Google thing may face a similar type of push back with the EU no matter how much those folks love Google search. Well, there’s always Qwant.com and Yandex mail if the EU folks get too frisky.

Stephen E Arnold, November 17, 2016

Lawyers Might Be Automated Too

November 14, 2016

The worry with artificial intelligence is that it will automate jobs and leave people without a way to earn income.  The general belief is that AI will automate manufacturing, retail, food service, and other industries, but what about law?  One would think that lawyers would never lose their jobs, because a human is required to navigate litigation and represent a person in court, right?  According to The Inquirer article, “UCL Creates AI ‘Lawbot’ That Rules on Cases With Surprising Accuracy” lawyers might be automated too.

On a level akin to Watson, researchers at University College London, led by Dr. Nikoalos Aletras, created an algorithm that peruses case information and can predict accurate verdicts.  The UCL team fed the algorithm litigation information from cases about torture, degrading treatment, privacy, and fair trials.  They hope the algorithm will be used to identify patterns in human rights abuses.

Dr. Aletras does not think AI will replace judges and lawyers, but it could be used as a tool to identify patterns in cases with specific outcomes.  The algorithm has a 79% accuracy rate, which is not bad considering the amount of documentation involved.  Also the downside is:

At a wider level, although 79 percent is a bit more ED-209 than we’d like for now, it does suggest that we’re a long way towards being able to install an ethical and moral code that would allow AI to … you know, not kill us and that.  With so many doomsayers warning us that the closer that we get to the so-called ‘singularity’ between humans and machines, the more likely we are to be toast as a race, it’s something of a good news story to see what’s being done to ensure AI stays on the straight and narrow.

Automation in the legal arena is a strong possibility for when “…implementation and interpretation of the law that is required, less so than the fact themselves.”  The human element is still needed to decide cases, but perhaps it would cut down on the amount of light verdicts for pedophiles, sex traffickers, rapists, and other bad guys.  It does make one wonder what alternative fields lawyers would consider?

Whitney Grace, November 14, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Autonomy Software Executive Indicted

November 12, 2016

I used to pay reasonably close attention to Autonomy Software plc. The outfit was a leader in search and content processing. The methods were based on math, not human editors. Bayesian, LaPlacian, and Markovian methods created a take away happy family. Early customers included some big defense companies, government agencies, and some banks. Over the years, Autonomy generated millions in revenue from its Digital Reasoning Engine, Integrated Data Operating Layer, and other technologies.

In 2011, Hewlett Packard went to an automated teller machine, withdrew $11 billion dollars, and bought Autonomy. The deal brought patents, the products, assorted bits and pieces, and executives who had shepherded the search and content processing company from zero to somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 million in revenue. Oh, the Autonomy deal brought along the shrunken head of Fast Search & Transfer, one of the outfits to take on Autonomy only to find itself struggling with revenues and some rumors of financial fast dancing. Fast Search went to Redmond in 2008, and Autonomy cruised along until HP showed up with a tractor trailer filled with money.

After buying Autonomy, HP found that the Autonomy management team did not fit the Sillycon Valley pioneer’s life style. The founder of Autonomy quit and a handful of Autonomy executives tagged along. HP found out that it did not have a clue how to make money from search and content processing. HP also learned that its auditors, accountants, senior executives, and lawyers were in the dark when it came to generating money in a sector where dozens of companies have gone down the drain. What happened to the wizards from Delphes, Endeca, Fast Search, et al?

Well, one went to jail or was sentenced. Now, if the information in “HP Fight about $11 Billion Takeover Sees Former Autonomy Executive Indicted on Felony Charges” is accurate, HP wants to put Sushovan Hussain, Autonomy’s financial manager and a minivan filled with other Autonomy executives, into orange jump suits.

The write up reports:

The indictment charges that Sushovan Hussain, “together with others, engaged in a fraudulent scheme to deceive purchasers and sellers of Autonomy securities and HP about the true performance of Autonomy’s business, its financial condition, and its prospects for growth.”

The hammer dropped on November 10, 2016. The write up says:

… federal prosecutors indicted Hussain in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. He was charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Wire fraud is financial fraud involving use of telecommunications or information technology. The charges carry a combined maximum prison sentence of 20 years. The federal government is seeking at least $7.7 million from Hussain, money it said was gained through crime.

Autonomy denies the allegations that Autonomy pumped up revenues and doctored assorted information. HP apparently was unaware of “alarms” about HP which surfaced in 2007. The newspaper article adds:

Daniel Mahoney, research director of forensic accounting firm CFRA, told this newspaper in 2012 that his company in 2007 started sounding alarms about Autonomy in reports to investor clients. Summarizing the beliefs of himself and other analysts, Mahoney said, “Our concern was the organic growth that Autonomy was reporting was overstated … it seemed like they were constantly moving things around in their financial statements to make things appear better than they are.”

Okay, 2007. HP bought Autonomy in 2001. Presumably HP reviewed Autonomy’s financials, talked to resellers, interviewed executives, consulted the mid tier firms specializing in search, and other research prior to deciding $11 billion was the right sized number for Autonomy.

If not, what caused HP to buy Autonomy? If HP did its homework, why did  the company ignore the 2007 storm warnings?

The saga continues even though HP sold Autonomy earlier this year to Micro Focus for an alleged $8.8 billion. If that number is accurate, a $1.2 billion loss is important, but the real motivating factor may be the fact that HP’s approach to deal management may have been wobbly. To brush up on the Autonomy system, check out the free report at this link.

Excitement will ensue.

Stephen E Arnold, November 12, 2016

Yahoo: More Inspiring Management Examples

November 10, 2016

I thought that the Yahoot — sorry, I meant Yahoo — was behind us. I noted two interesting announcements about the Purple Haze machine. Business school case study writers have a gold mine with this Yahoot thing. Purple gym shoes might be the perfect fashion accessory when one thinks about the Xoogler’s management expertise manifested in an SEC filing. The extracts below come from the articles cited in this blog post.

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A Yahoo fashion accessory like these New Balance sneakers can be a complement to deposition day fashion. Yahoot’s professionals can make themselves instantly recognizable with these stylish kicks.

The first write up comes from a trendy business newsletter in the form of a story with this title: “Yahoo Faces at Least 23 Lawsuits Over Its Massive Data Breach.” One lawsuit is too many. Twenty three is an embarrassment of riches. The write up reports:

the Company is cooperating with federal, state, and foreign governmental officials and agencies seeking information and/or documents about the Security Incident and related matters, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a number of State Attorneys General, and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.

Cooperation is good. Tucked into the write up was this statement:

Although the company says it only spent $1 million related to the breach last quarter, it admitted that the breach may “cause users and customers to curtail or stop using our products and services.”

No kidding?

I also noted this article: “Yahoo Admits Some Employees Knew of Massive Hack in 2014.” Let’s see. That’s about two years ago. The write up points out:

“An Independent Committee of the Board, advised by independent counsel and a forensic expert, is investigating, among other things, the scope of knowledge within the Company in 2014 and thereafter regarding this access,” Yahoo said in its filing. But it wasn’t until its August probe that the company got confirmation of the extent of the breach, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.

The source for both of these articles is a Yahoo SEC filing.

Outstanding judgment on the part of the Yahoo management team to cooperate with authorities, contradict the date of the “alleged” breach, and perform these cartwheels as Verizon tries to figure out if Yahoot is a swatch of discolored purple fabric which can be converted into Yoga pants or a t shirt. Perhaps business school students at some time in the future can wear purple New Balance sneakers to their discussion group meetings about Yahoo?

Stephen E Arnold, November 10, 2016

Good Old Sleuthing Can Still Beat Dark Web

November 8, 2016

Undercover investigative work of different agencies in Bergen County, New York resulted in arrest of an 18-year old man who was offering hitman services over the Dark Net.

As reported by Patch.com in news report titled Hitman Who Drove To Mahwah For Meeting Arrested: Prosecutor :

The Mahwah Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Cyber Crimes Unit investigated Rowling, a Richmondville, New York resident. Rowling allegedly used the dark web to offer his services as a hitman.

Tracking Dark Web participants are extremely difficult, thus undercover agents posing as buyers were scouting hitmen in New York. Rowling without suspecting anything offered his services in return for some cash and a gun. The meeting was fixed at Mason Jar in Mahwah where he was subsequently arrested and remanded to Bergen County Jail.

As per the report, Rowling is being charged with:

In addition to conspiracy to murder, Rowling was charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of silencer, Grewal said.

Drug traffickers, hackers, smugglers of contraband goods and narcotics are increasingly using the Dark Web for selling their goods and services. Authorities under such circumstances have no option but to use old techniques of investigation and put the criminals behind bars. However, most of the Dark Net and its participants are still out of reach of law enforcement agencies.

Vishal Ingole, November 8, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Palantir Technologies: Hobbits 1, US Army 0

October 31, 2016

I read “Judge Rules in Favor of Palantir in Lawsuit against US Army.” Palantir is probably celebrating the decision which ruled in its favor. According to the write up in Defense News:

Palantir filed a bid protest in the US Court of Federal Claims against the US Army June 30 for issuing what it says was an unlawful procurement solicitation for the service’s next iteration of its internally developed intelligence software suite that shuts the company’s commercial offering out of the competition.

image

Caesar and the Battle of Alesia. Who’s Caesar? Who is Vercingetorix?

Palantir’s argument is that the US Army was reinventing the wheel. Palantir has a very good wheel, and the US Army should use that wheel on its intelligence system. The write up points out that Palantir perceives the US Army’s reluctance to use Gotham as “illegal and irrational.”

The write up adds:

The lawsuit opened up a can of worms on top of what has been a lengthy controversy over whether the Army should scrap its DCGS-A program after spending more than a decade and $3 billion to develop it and go with a commercial off-the-shelf solution.

The question which rises from this smoking hot ruling is, “What’s next?”

I can envision a Tolkien-like scenario in which the US Army chuckles and says, “That’s a great idea. We have been thinking about doing the Palantir thing for a while now.” Fade to a sunrise with Gotham and a US Army general chatting on the veranda at Donald Trump’s Washington, DC hotel.

There are other scenarios as well. These range from the US Army digging in its legal heels and implementing a Caesar like maneuver with Palantir playing the role of Vercingetorix? Or, is it the other way around?

The Gauls may support Caesar or Vercingetorix? I can envision powerful tribes of government contractors with dogs in the DCGS fight rallying.

One thing is certain: More excitement to come when there are billions in government contracts at stake and when some of the tribes fight under the banners of the US government’s go-to vendors. Will IBM embrace a new approach to the DCGS system? Will General Watson enter the fray?

So many questions. Definitely exciting for the firms currently billing for the existing DCGS system implementation, development, engineering, training, and support. Palantir, at least for this Halloween day, can plop one treat in its Filson backpack.

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2016.

Palantir Technologies: IPO Chatter

October 31, 2016

I read “Why the Secretive Startup Palantir Is Seriously Considering an IPO.” The Fortune story appeared after the video interview became available and a transcript diffused. You may be able to access the information at this Wall Street Journal link, but you may have to pay to read the transcript.

Here’s what I noted in the Fortune write up:

  • An IPO allows employees to “cash out their shares at a fair price”
  • But Palantir may not go public and “do something on the private equity side”
  • An alternative is to “redistribute” profits

The Fortune article included this statement from Palantir’s CEO Alex Karp as well:

“I have f-cked up so many things at Palantir,” Karp said. “The one thing I have never screwed up is discriminated against anybody based on any variable that they would care about, and I’m very proud of that.”

I noted that none of the write ups about this interview mentioned that a decision from the US Army matter may be made as early as October 31, 2016. A positive decision will increase Palantir’s sales among the intelligence and law enforcement markets; for example, the French DGSI.

A negative decision may curtail Palantir’s growth in the intelligence and law enforcement sectors. Losing out on the DCGS opportunity means that Palantir may have to look to other markets to provide new opportunities for the company.

The question is, “Trick or treat for Palantir this Halloween?”

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2016

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