Ignoring Amazon: Risky, Short Sighted, Maybe Not an Informed Decision

January 15, 2019

I read “AWS, MongoDB, and the Economic Realities of Open Source.” The write up does a good job of explaining how convenience can generate cash for old line businesses.

The essay then runs down the features of a typical open source business model; namely, money comes from proprietary add ons, services, training, etc. Accurate and helpful is the discussion. Few people recognize the vulnerability of this type of open source model for companies not in a “winner take all position.” A good example is Elastic’s success, and the lack of success of other open source search systems which are in most cases pretty good.

The discussion of Amazon explains that Amazon is in the service business; specifically, the software-as-a-service business. That’s mostly correct. I have given two or three talks about Amazon’s use of AWS in the law enforcement and intelligence sector, and I have to be honest. Few understood what I was emphasizing. Amazon is a disruption machine. I call it the Bezos bulldozer.

The write up draws parallels with the music business case with which the Stratechery essay begins. I understand the parallel. I agree with this statement:

AWS is not selling MongoDB: what they are selling is “performance, scalability, and availability.” DocumentDB is just one particular area of many where those benefits are manifested on AWS. Make no mistake: these benefits are valuable.

The point of the write up is mostly on the money as well. I noted this statement:

…the debate on the impact of cloud services on open source has been a strident one for a while now. I think, though, that the debate gets sidetracked by (understandable) discussions about “fairness” and what AWS supposedly owes open source. Yes, companies like MongoDB Inc. and Redis Labs worked hard, and yes, AWS is largely built on open source, but the world is governed by economic realities, not subjective judgments of fairness.

There are several facets of Amazon’s system and method for competition which may be more important than the inclusion of open source software in its suite of “conveniences.”

At some point, I would welcome conference organizers, MBAs, and open source mavens to address such questions as:

  1. What is the ease of entry or implementation for open source services on AWS?
  2. What is the future of training developers to use the AWS system? Who does the training?
  3. What is the short term benefit to Amazon to have developers use open source and the AWS platform to create new products and services?
  4. What is the long term benefit to Amazon to have new products and services become successful on the AWS platform?
  5. What is the mid term impact on procurements for commercial and government entities?
  6. What is the shape of the Bezos bulldozer’s approach to lock in?

I was recently informed by a conference organizer that no one had interest in Amazon’s disruption of the policeware and intelware sector.

Do you think that the organizer’s conclusion was informed? Do you think open source is more than the digital equivalent of a gateway drug?

I do. For information about the DarkCyber briefing on Amazon’s policeware and intelware “play,” write benkent2020 at yahoo dot com.

Stephen E Arnold, January 15, 2019

Google and the Revolt of the Science Club Within

January 15, 2019

I know I said I would cover more DarkCyber topics, but I read a remarkable article called:

Google Employees Are Launching a Social Media Blitz to Pressure Tech Giants on Workplace Harassment Issues: The Group Wants Tech Companies to Stop Restricting Workers’ Right to Take Companies to Court over Employer Related Issues.”

With a headline like this one, let’s look at a couple of the statements set forth in the write up as factualities:

The [Instagram and Twitter] campaign is another example of the growing movement of tech employees publicly critiquing industry-wide practices they say are leading to inequality in the workplace. The tech industry has for years seen abysmal diversity statistics related to employment of female and underrepresented minorities in its workforce. Supporters of the campaign say that ending forced arbitration is a key step to creating a fairer workplace culture that will help curb such disparity.

The point to note is that Google which has largely failed at social media has employees who use the services the online ad giant was unable to understand, me-to, and make successful. Interesting. A disconnect signal perhaps?

Another statement from the write up:

As part of the effort, the group organizing the campaign researched the contracts of around 30 major tech companies and 10 of the biggest suppliers of contract employees for major tech companies. Not a single tech company met their basic criteria for protecting employees’ rights to pursue legal action against their companies for workplace issues, the group said.

Hmm. The “30 major tech companies” include outfits like Boeing, Raytheon, IBM, and similar giants? I don’t know. My hypothesis is that the “major” are outfits which are in the San Francisco-San Mateo area.

What is clear, however, is that giant companies which have acted as if they were countries now have governance problems to go along with their management challenges.

I have termed the broad approach to managing Yahoo-type outfits (I use Yahoo as an archetype, not a functional company) the HSSCMM or high school science club management method. The approach operates in ways that can be baffling to those not in the science club; for example, the junior prom is stupid. Only dorks go. The notion is that by exclusion one becomes more exceptional.

Now we have a terrarium in which to watch a science club go to war with its very bright, very elite, and very sciencey members.

Exciting? Nah. Interesting? Maybe. Financially significant? Oh, yes.

Stephen E Arnold, January 15, 2019

DarkCyber for January 15, 2019, Now Available

January 15, 2019

DarkCyber for January 15, 2019, is now available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress and on Vimeo at https://www.vimeo.com/311054042 . The program is a production of Stephen E Arnold. It is the only weekly video news shows focusing on the Dark Web, cyber crime, and lesser known Internet services.

The first story discusses Discord, an in-game and chat service. The system takes a somewhat hands-off approach to monitoring user messages. Discord features what are called “magic emojis.” These emojis, when used among those who are  members of a specific social group within Discord, can convey messages. Some potential bad actors–for example, white supremacists–allegedly have been using the services as a communications channel.

The second story explores an allegation that Facebook WhatsApp makes it possible for those interested in child pornography to locate this type of content. Third party apps provide finder services. Facebook is introducing electronic payments within WhatsApp. The likelihood for bad actors to use WhatsApp as a mechanism to exchange objectionable content is high. Facebook’s content policies are likely to undergo scrutiny from government authorities in 2019.

The third story profiles Gamalon, a company which develops software for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and commercial enterprises. The key to Gamalon system is that it uses advanced statistical procedures to identify and extract ideas from source content. The company’s technology makes use of Bayesian methods in order to create automatically machine learning models. The models can then create new models to deal with new ideas expressed in the source data processed by the system.

The fourth story reports on Spain’s 36 month effort to slow or halt the trade of weapons in the country via the Dark Web. Authorities have arrested more than 200 individuals and seized hand guns and automatic weapons. The investigation continues.

The final story points to a study which provides facts and figures about the hidden Internet. Some of the data in the study sponsored by a star of the hit cable television program Shark Tank is quite remarkable. To cite one example, the number of hidden sites on the Internet is 32 times the number of stars in the galaxy. That a very large number and difficult to match with DarkCyber’s research data.

Kenny Toth, January 15, 2019

Zerodium Boosts Payouts for Zero Day Exploits to US$2 Million

January 14, 2019

The Hacker News reported that Zerodium will pay up to $2 million for an iPhone zero day exploit. The idea is that the market for iPhone hacks is robust even if Apple is struggling to hits its internal sales targets. The write up states:

Zerodium—a startup by the infamous French-based company Vupen that buys and sells zero-day exploits to government agencies around the world—said it would now pay up to $2 million for remote iOS jailbreaks and $1 million for exploits that target secure messaging apps.

The big payout is for a remote hack which jailbreaks an iPhone. The idea is that an entity can access an iPhone remotely and perform actions on that iPhone with having direct physical access to the device. The approach is known as a “zero click” exploit; that is, no user interaction required.

The company is also offering a payout of $1 million for WhatsApp exploits.

The reason? Hacker News explains:

The hike in the price is in line with demand and the tougher security of the latest operating systems and messaging apps, as well as to attract more researchers, hackers and bug hunters to seek complex exploit chains.

DarkCyber anticipates more price increases as bad actors shift to encrypted messaging for certain types of communications and transactions.

Stephen E Arnold, January 14, 2019

Amazon Fear: A New Marketing Hook for Google and the Softies

January 14, 2019

With the Amazon AWS bulldozer grinding away, some animals are fleeing the crushing power of the machine. Others are adopting a different tactic. “At NRF 2019, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform Court Retailers Wary of Amazon” explains that their services offer a quiet place in the jungle.

The write up explains:

Retail is one of the few industries where AWS isn’t likely to have a huge lead. That reality means Google and Microsoft can pitch their AI and cloud wares to a receptive audience.

Will Google and Microsoft adopt the IBM FUD approach? Will retailers who want to sell to the federal government become more flexible when Amazon’s GovCloud becomes more dense?

DarkCyber anticipates changes which will pose considerable hurdles to Google and Microsoft as places to sell and relax in the Amazon rain forest.

Stephen E Arnold, January 14, 2019

Amazonia for January 14, 2018

January 14, 2019

Tired of buying stuff on Here’s some Amazonia to start your week off the Amazon way.

Management Romance?

Did the ‘National Enquirer’ Finally Get One Right with Its Sensational Exposé of Bezos’s Affair?” reveals some interesting information. DarkCyber has no comment.

Buying Technology

Amazon purchased the Israel based CloudEndure. I did not know that clouds could “endure”. I get the idea though. With this technology, Amazon is able to deliver better disaster recovery. Is the technology better than that from every other cloud outfit? It may be because most cloud disaster recovery systems are not exactly the same as opening the refrigerator door. Additional details are available from GeekWire; for example, the estimated purchase price of a tiny fraction of the Bezos divorce settlement.

Yes, One Million

According to the Verge, more than one million people have preordered the Echo Auto device. It is less expensive than purchasing a Tesla. Since an errant 90 year old smashed my beloved Kia in a parking lot, I don’t think much about automobiles. But obviously a million people do and trust Amazon to deliver a better auto experience.

Amazon Partner Marketing

Becoming an Amazon partner may be a step some outfits may want to consider. Coupa, a financial outfit, is ramping up its Amazon love. According to Pymnts:

Coupa users can link their accounts to Amazon Web Services to automatically have AWS invoices sent to the Coupa platform. The integration means companies using both Coupa and AWS can more quickly process those invoices, while gaining enhanced visibility into their spend with AWS services. The integration deploys Coupa’s InvoiceSmash solution, which accelerates invoice processing and payments for users, aimed at enabling companies to capture early payment discounts from their suppliers.

Many of Amazon’s partners are companies which have for many observers a low profile. DarkCyber Annex believes that if Amazon gains traction in the business sector, getting into the Amazon partner arena may be a wise move.

Amazon and Its Satellite Play

Why is Amazon embracing satellites? One answer may be is that cloud computing can reach into the great beyond. According to Formtek:

Amazon AWS brings new meaning to SaaS.  It’s Satellite as a Service, actually named AWS Ground Service. Ground Station attempts to make the world of satellite data capture and processing into a utility service, something that can be easily turned on and off without up-front capital expenditures.  Their target audience are businesses, researchers, governments and space agencies.  The goal is to make the upload and download of data from satellites simpler and cost effective.

DarkCyber Annex knows that Google loves those balloons. Facebook once had solar powered gizmos. Microsoft has ground based Azure. Amazon appears to have some folks who wants to do the final frontier thing whether these is a demand or note.

The Future of Software Innovation

DarkCyber Annex believes that the future of software innovation is to use AWS. An interesting example is documented in Diginomica. The news service reports:

The way that Zendesk has built its new Sunshine platform on AWS is a groundbreaking new take on enterprise SaaS that looks to the future of CRM.

Amazon’s infrastructure will enable more than CRM.

Amazon’s Content Management Play

Amazon could print ebooks. But the company did not have a robust, ready-to-use document management system. OpenText and its like were happy with this state of affairs. Unfortunately, both open source centric and proprietary document management outfits may face a new reality. Their world has changed. ZDNet ran a story with the title “Watch Out MongoDB.AWS Launches Fully Managed Document Database Service.” The problem is that the target is not just open source database systems. Those under threat include the folks who rarely think about Amazon as much more than a glorified eCommerce site. I would wager $1 that the Omnifind crowd at IBM is unlikely to change its stripes because of this announcement. Perhaps this indifference may be a misstep?

Amazon and the Microsoft Compatibility

Amazon seems to be neutral when it comes to criticizing its cross town rival. But Amazon partners are not subject to the same management restraint. DarkCyber Annex noted that Yahoo reported via Business Wire:

ECS, a leading provider of advanced technology, science, and engineering solutions, and a Premier Consulting Partner in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN), announced that it is a launch partner of the new file-sharing system Amazon FSx for Windows File Server. An automatically scaled and fully managed file system, Amazon FSx has native compatibility supporting the features, performance, and security capabilities most used by commercial and public sector customers. The system automates time-consuming administration tasks such as hardware provisioning, software configuration, patching, and backups.

Another AWS ecosystem partner. This one is edging into Microsoft’s sacred territory. “Plug compatible” — those words signaled a change for IBM. AWS partner may be a similar token.

Stephen E Arnold, January 14, 2019

Search Wars: The Open Source Front

January 13, 2019

Last year I pointed out that enterprise search and Web search were for me dead ends. There have been some howls from LinkedIn enterprise search members who want the good, old days to return.

Well, maybe enterprise search can cook up another run at off Broadway fame. To recap, if one wants search, one uses Lucene/Solr. Sure, there are options, but Google style wizards are needed to get these puppies to behave.

I learned that Toshi search aims to challenge Elasticsearch, Shay Banon’s personal Act II in the search tragedies which were packing them in in the early 2000s. Ah, how “fast” time gains its “autonomy.” Few “inquire” about the mechanisms of overpromising and then under-delivering. We could ask the oracle of “Delphis” I suppose. (Not the god, the super hyped search engine from innovators in Canada, one of the most free country in the world.

If you want to know more about Toshi, your first stop should be the Toshi github page at this link. Download the give it a whirl.

Is Elastic worried? Nope, incumbent leaders ignore challengers. Then the Harvard MBA wonks point out the flaws of this type of Henry James’s “a certain blindness.”

Stephen E Arnold, January 13, 2019

IBM Shares Big Data Analytics Test Results

January 12, 2019

Big data, big data, big data! Why does everyone assume that big data analytics is going to save the world? There are limited to big data’s power and most related projects have an 85% failure rate, according to Gartner. One reason is that few people know how to correctly implement big data projects, including vendors. There is hope on the horizon for big data companies, because IBM is making itself a guinea pig.

According to the Silicon Angle’s article, “IBM Is Its Own AI Guinea Pig, Shares Successes From The Test Results.” IBM’s Big Blue has tested big data businesses and it has recorded its failures and successes in tools, technologies, and working methods. IBM is packaging what Big Blue has learned and selling it to customers.

“ ‘What we can do is pull together the right breadth and depth of IBM resources, deploy it and customize it to customer needs and really hopefully accelerate and apply a lot of what we’ve learned, a lot of what our clients have learned to accelerate their own artificial intelligence transformation journey,’ said Caitlin Halferty (pictured, left), client engagement executive, global chief data office at IBM.”

IBM’s big data secret is metadata, because to have the right data governance plan you need to have the right metadata. IBM has a tool for that:

“IBM showcased its automated metadata generation tool at the summit. It leverages automation and AI to slice through some dense metadata-curation blocks. It shortens the often tedious, manual process of data labeling, she said. This helps data officers begin a project with clean, labeled data from the get-go.”

IBM’s key for big data success is buying their big data package and automated metadata tool. How much are the price tags on those? Also even if you do cough up the greenbacks for them do you actually know how to use the data?

Whitney Grace, November 22, 2018

Rewarding Questionable Behavior: The Google Method

January 11, 2019

I read the Bloomberg write up “Google Board Sued for Hushing Claims of Executive Misconduct.” I do recall that Bloomberg created a stir with its really factual write up about mystery components, but this is about humans and their propensity to behave in interesting ways. I assume, therefore, that most of the information is sort of accurate.

The write up informs me amidst green ads and yellow banners of semi information unrelated to the actual news item that:

Alphabet Inc.’s directors were sued by shareholders for approving a $90 million exit payment to Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile software, while helping cover up his alleged misconduct and similar misbehavior by other executives. The investors claimed the board failed in its duties by allowing harassment to occur, approving big payouts and keeping the details private.

Let’s assume that the assertion, the behavior, and the litigation are factualities.

On the surface, it is possible to formulate these hypotheses:

  1. What happens in the high school science club environment stays in the science club until it doesn’t
  2. The high school science club approach to handling “issues” is to make life pretty good for well liked science club members. (One assumes that birds of a feather flock together may want the flock and the errant bird to thrive.)
  3. The high school science club method can be misunderstood by the lowly beings who purchase shares in an enterprise. Litigation is sour grapes.

From my vantage point in the anti Silicon Valley in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky, it sure looks like some hanky panky has been practiced.

Revenue growth? Whatever it takes I assume. If Amanda Rosenberg lived in the muddy hollow, I would ask her. I wonder if the real news outfit  Bloomberg might consider such an interview a way to collect useful information?

Stephen E Arnold, January 11, 2019

Google: AI in the Spotlight

January 11, 2019

Google is on top of many tech mountains, that’s for certain. However, none may be as big as its far-reaching artificial intelligence sector. That future doesn’t look as solid as it once did, thought, because of some hard charging competition, as we discovered in a recent Eyerys article, “With Google Dominating AI, Microsoft and Facebook Want to ‘Defrag Some of the Complexity.’”

According to the story:

“Microsoft is showing that it rather help others rather than purely focusing on its own projects.

“There are reasons behind the partnership.

“First of all, Microsoft’s AI has its own strengths. For example, it’s particularly great for building speech recognition systems. Second, Facebook’s PyTorch has gained popularity and has some interesting technical capabilities on its own.”

This is intriguing news, considering a three-horse race between these giants would likely result in some incredible advances. But, if you ask Google, you shouldn’t expect the world to change overnight. In fact, the leader in AI actually says artificial intelligence is “very stupid” compared to humans. Is this for real or a misdirection? It’s hard to say, but there’s no doubt that this rivalry is heating up, we predict AI will not be dumb for much longer.

Will Facebook hire some of DeepMind’s talent? We think that’s in the “book”.

Patrick Roland, January 11, 2019

Next Page »

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta