True or False: Google and Dangerous Functionality

May 13, 2022

I want to be clear: I cannot determine if security-related announcements are PR emissions, legitimate items of data, or clickbait craziness. I am on the fence with the information is “Google Cloud Apparently Has a Security Issue Even Firewalls Can’t Stop.”

The write up presents as real news:

A misconfiguration in Google Cloud Platform has been found which could give threat actors full control over a target virtual machine (VM) endpoint

These virtual machines are important cogs in some bad actors machinery. Sure, legitimate outfits rely on the Google for important work as well. Therefore, the announcement points some bad actors toward a new opportunity to poke around and outfits engaged in ethically informed activities to batten down their digital hatches.

The write up points out that the Google agreed that “misconfiguration could bypass firewall settings.”

And the Google, being Googley, semi-agrees. Does this mean that the Google Cloud is just semi-vulnerable?

Stephen E Arnold, May 13, 2022

TikTok: Interesting Assumptions and Opinions

March 30, 2022

I am not a TikTok’er. I have an attention span better suited to books, the old fashioned paper artifacts not so popular among certain younger humanoids. I read “The TikTok-Oracle Deal Would Set Two Dangerous Precedents.” The main argument in the write up is that “a global data shortage melee” could erupt. I am not sure what a data storage mêlée would look like. One dictionary defines a mêlée as a ruction. Another offers a lively contention. Let’s assume the write up is based on fact, deeply informed by rigorous search, and absolutely actual factual.

I noted a couple of statements which I found interesting; to wit:

  1. “The deal would establish precedents likely to harm technology companies and their users.”
  2. “The costs are worth bearing because they will give TikTok the freedom to compete on its greatest strength: its product.”
  3. “If the US government succeeds in forcing TikTok to enter this local data-storing arrangement with Oracle, other governments will be more likely to impose comparable requirements on US companies operating within their borders.”
  4. “The evidence that TikTok posed a national security threat has always been flimsy at best.”
  5. “Absent evidence of security risks, regulators should allow American and Chinese tech companies to compete without government interference.”
  6. If the rumored deal between TikTok and Oracle becomes a reality, TikTok will quietly celebrate while other Big Tech firms brace for escalating product battles with one of their strongest competitors.

Some observations are now offered for each of these statements:

  1. A couple of examples might be helpful.
  2. What’s the evidence supporting the assertion that China centric firms compete on the “greatest strength”?
  3. What about governments imposing such requirements on firms; for example, Google and Facebook operations in China.
  4. What evidence? Why is it flimsy?
  5. This is an opinion. Are these some facts supporting the assertion?
  6. Who is the strongest competitor? Oracle? China? Outfits like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft?

I would add one other question: What is the scope of Oracle’s business involvement with China and Chinese supported entities?

Stephen E Arnold, March 30, 2022

The Cloud Horse Race: Rounding Turn One Is the Azure Softie with an Advantage

March 17, 2022

Listen to the cheers of the crowd. “Azure Pulls in Front of AWS in Public Cloud Adoption” says about a really probably objective study:

The key takeaway on the Azure front is its leadership with enterprise users, with 80 percent of respondents adopting Microsoft’s public cloud, up from 76 percent the previous year. This was just ahead of AWS, which claimed a 77 percent adoption rate, down from 79 percent a year earlier. Some way behind was Google, with 48 percent, followed by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, which tumbled to 27 percent from 32 percent a year ago.

And what outfit generated this straight-from-the-race-track report? Flexera, that’s who. And who or what is Flexera? It is an outfit which has joined the Microsoft Azure Marketplace and “offers game changing solutions to help application producers monetize their solutions in Azure.” Got that. You can read more at this link.

Is this information about the outstanding speed of adoption and uptake of the well bred stallion accurate?

Like Jack Benny’s race track tout says,

“Pssst. Hey, bud, watch that Bezos nag.”

To sum up, marketing PR is not a guarantee of a race winner.

Stephen E Arnold, March 17, 2022

Google Cloud: A Marketing Challenge

March 15, 2022

I read a report which I think is assembled by a human or two working with smart software. What’s interesting is the observation about Google Cloud expressed in “Google-cloud Is About to Get More Expensive.” [Note: Links to content on Dailyhunt often result in 404s. There’s not much I can do about this run-and-gun news source, folks.]

I noted this passage:

At present, Google – and Google Cloud particularly – suffers from the perception that it will close down services randomly, despite the fact that its users rely upon them. Now, add to that the insight that it will arbitrarily raise its costs and its sales team will probably need to work overtime to satisfy the aggressive development objectives the company has surely set for itself.

There’s been some additional chatter about Google modifying the cloud storage deals for certain academic institutions.

Is this a PR challenge or clever management of the users who make the Google system hum like a well fed Googzilla?

Stephen E Arnold, March 15, 2022

Oracle Enters the Classified Cloud Arena

March 4, 2022

Oracle is keeping secrets—those of the Air Force, to be specific. Nextgov reports, “Oracle’s Cloud Can Now Host Select Top Secret Defense Data.” The sensitive data will reside in a classified Cloud. Reporter Frank Kinkel writes:

“According to the company, Defense Department assessors granted it an authority to operate, or ATO, for secure processing of some of the Air Force’s most sensitive data in what the company calls Oracle National Security Regions. These air-gapped computing regions are connected only to government networks and not to the rest of the internet. … The ATO applies only to Air Force data now, but the company expects to host classified data from other agencies over time through future accreditations. Thus far, only two companies—Amazon Web Services and Microsoft—have achieved the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Impact Level 6 accreditation to host data at all government classification levels, yet Oracle’s latest accreditation continues the competition among several cloud giants that continually vie for important and lucrative Defense Department and intelligence community contracts.”

Gotta love this me-too innovation. Will Oracle reach the coveted Impact Level 6 accreditation? Perhaps. The company’s Glen Dodson touts the firm’s long history working with the DoD and intelligence community and boasts about its data management, analytics, and AI tools. The write-up reminds us that last year, along with AWS, Microsoft, Google, and IBM, Oracle was awarded part of the CIA’s Commercial Cloud Enterprise contract. That seems like a good sign for the company. Movin’ slow. But movin’.

Cynthia Murrell, March 4, 2022

There Is No Avoiding the Cloud for Aspiring IT Pros—For Now

February 15, 2022

Every business is different, allows ZDNet contributor Joe McKendrick. Some eagerly update to the latest technologies while others still rely on legacy systems and software. This means IT workers must tailor their skillsets to their specific organizations. Nevertheless, a recent interview with AWS’s director of learning products Scott Barneson suggests, “For Technology Skills, Cloud Is the Common Denominator.” The write-up quotes Barneson:

“There are the three areas where we hear strong need for upskilling from our customers: migration, as CIOs want to make sure their team is prepared to migrate workloads to the cloud; cloud fluency, as CIOs want all functions to have a baseline understanding of the cloud, the taxonomy, and the core benefits to help build common taxonomy and remove unnecessary friction; and AI/ML [Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning], as we shift from the experimentation phase to production use cases. CIOs are looking to equip their teams, from decision makers to practitioners, with the baseline skills to identify use cases that have positive customer and business impact. We regularly hear from our enterprise customers a desire to increase cloud fluency throughout their organizations – from individuals in technical and non-technical roles alike. That’s a desire we hear mirrored from individuals too. Our own research shows that the need for digital skills training has increased due to the pandemic with 85% of workers reporting that they now need more technical knowledge to do their jobs. The study also found that the use of cloud-based tools is the top-most in-demand skill employers will need by 2025.”

The AWS guru shares some advice for IT professionals looking to get ahead. For one thing, they should focus more on quickly getting customers what they need and less on growing their org charts. It is important to measure teams’ impact on customer satisfaction, he adds. Reducing complexity is also suggested to help organizations move swiftly and be ready to embrace opportunities. Naturally, he recommends taking advantage of relevant learning opportunities, like the (free) AWS course “Machine Learning Essentials for Business and Technical Decision Makers.” Though Mr. Barneson understandably has a bias toward AWS, would like to remind out dear readers that several other cloudy alternatives exist.

Cynthia Murrell, February 15, 2022

Coinbase and the Super Bowl: How About Seamless Scaling

February 14, 2022

I read “Crypto Exchange Coinbase’s Website Crashes After Screening QR-Code Super Bowl Ad.” Apparently the Coinbase Super Bowl ad worked. Lots of clicks made it clear that the chatter about scaling resulted in the firm’s Web site falling over. But there’s good news. According to the article:

However, Coinbase Chief Product Officer Surojit Chatterjee announced Monday that the platform is now up and running.  “Coinbase just saw more traffic than we’ve ever encountered, but our teams pulled together and only had to throttle traffic for a few minutes. We are now back and ready for you at http://drops.coinbase.com. Humbled to have been witness to this,” Chatterjee said in a tweet.

Yep, the cloud is magic. I am tempted to mention the misstep related to the theft of billions in Bitcoin. You can read the wordy New Yorker explanation at this link.

Does this build confidence in cloud computing? Sure.

Stephen E Arnold, February 14, 2022

Google, Its Googley Communication, and the Corporate Supported Universities: Time to Pay Up?

February 9, 2022

Have you been looking for an example of Silicon Valley thought processes? I would like to suggest that you look at three “content objects”.

The first  is an announcement in a Google blog (yes, there are many Google blogs and keeping track of them is difficult because the Google search function is not retrieving certain content in my experience. Google information is one subject that tough to locate.)

Here’s the link to an article posted one year ago in February 2021, deep in the heart of Covid: https://blog.google/outreach-initiatives/education/google-workspace-for-education/

Here’s the link to the Twitter thread which provides one university professionals view of a Google policy change: https://twitter.com/bwjones/status/1490802506628145153

And, finally, here is the link to the Hacker News’ thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30264617

The main point of the Google post is to explain in Google speak the fact that universities will no longer be able to upload data to Google for free once the threshold of 100 terabytes has been crossed. Google is busy generating as much sustainable revenue as possible because the shadows of the legal eagles are interrupting the work-from-home routines of full time Googlers and the on premises Googlers who want to play volley ball without bird shadows flicking across the courts.

Here’s an example:

We remain committed to providing all institutions around the world with a best-in-class experience, including ample free storage to support quality educational experiences.

But… and the but is:

We will contact impacted institutions directly in the coming weeks to discuss a range of options for getting the storage they need. Large institutions will be provided supplemental storage later this year and all schools can gain additional storage through Education Plus and the Teaching and Learning Upgrade.

Google cares about selling storage. The shift to a for fee model is buried. Here’s the first paragraph of the Googley notice:

During the 15 years we’ve been building tools for educators, we’ve seen the needs of instructors, education leaders and students evolve. We’ve learned that a one-size-fits all approach isn’t what educators need from tools like G Suite for Education. Whether you’re in a rural elementary school, urban university or homeschool setting, our technology and tools should adapt so you can focus on what matters most: teaching and learning. That’s why we’re making a few changes to provide you greater choice and flexibility in selecting the best tools to empower your institution.

Tears come to my eyes when I read this. Google. Really. Does. Care. Chromebooks, free online search, and so much more.

The tweet stream reveals that at least one university information technology type person did not get the email, the phone call from a Googler, or a link in Google search results to a query about price hikes, the speed of data downloads, the possibility of research data loss, and the changes that would make life tough for a researcher relying on Googzilla to hold outputs from a radio telescope. Nope. Here’s one tweet from the interesting thread:

Dan Isbell posted:

“Storage is not being consumed equitably across – nor within – institutions, and school leaders often don’t have the tools they need to manage this.” Dan adds, “So Google will save us from ourselves by capping data. In the name of equity. Storage doesn’t grow on trees but c’mon.”

I think this means that Google, which may be a monopoly type operation, knows when to shift to a pay-to-play model and knows what’s best for education.

The third link points to different takes on this shift. Examples range from alleging that Google is using an MBA acceptable method labeled “bait and switch,” a phrase used by d3nj4l.

Blagie on Hacker News stated:

.. I think I’ve been screwed over enough times by Google now that I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever rely on them for anything where I expect business continuity. I’ve done too much business with Google to ever do business with Google.

A Xoogler, allegedly named, Tuckereman, offered this comment:

I don’t think Google is always the most thoughtful with things like this…

This Xoogler is obviously not Googley; otherwise, he would understand that the systems and methods are specifically designed to produce results after a public announcement is made. As long as sufficient time elapses between the semi cheerful announcement of the policy change and the actual change being implemented, Google is in the clear. I can hear one of the Big Dog Googlers saying: “Senator, thank you for the question. We did announce the policy change one year before implementing that change. And we implemented the change incrementally. We are supportive of education at all levels, and we want to offer programs that improve the quality of education by offering options.”

I don’t have a dog in the fight. After two decades of ignoring the influence of technology centric firms, legislators and regulators are, like Rip Van Winkle, waking up.

For the affected universities, just calculate how many graduates work at Google. Go to Google and explain that more Google support is needed. What if an institution is not one from which Google hires numerous individuals? Well, too bad for the school. For professors, get a job at Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and others at the top of the leader board. Time to add lock in to the administrative vocabulary and delete free lunch?

Stephen E Arnold, February 9, 2022

Cloud Computing: Is There a Free Lunch Paid for by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft?

February 3, 2022

What have those cloud computing giants done for organizations lately? Here are some thought starters:

  1. Argued that it is better, faster, and cheaper to outsource anything involving computing to the fluffy clouds?
  2. Pushed for low code and no code solutions so that anyone can create applications and not get involved with expensive, unreliable, and uncooperative technical employees who don’t understand what an MBA or art history major needs now?
  3. Offered free or low cost entry fees which bedazzle the customer who is unable to see the telecommunications-style pricing methods like “cross a threshold and pay twice the cost stated on Schedule C, subparagraph 4”?
  4. A false narrative about ease of use, the reliability of pre-packaged data sets, and off-the-shelf components anyone can configure while waiting for a latte at a Starbuck’s in Normal, Illinois?

Enough questions. Read “More Than a Third of Firms Hit by Unexpected Cloud Costs.” Here’s a sentence from the write up which I found interesting:

Lack of transparency among providers is consistently cited as a problem.

Is this a nice way of saying, “These cloud people are doing the Theranos thing?”

Do you answer yes or no? Companies have difficulty hiring, retaining, and managing technology people. Costs for technology are often uncontrollable by traditional mechanisms crafted in less-illuminated times. Sales are easy because some organizations are believing what the cloud vendors say.

I am in the yes camp.

Stephen E Arnold, February 2, 2022

Expert Surprised That Health Club Billing Methods Are Used by SaaS and Cloud Companies

November 19, 2021

I enjoy write ups which reveal the obvious. Consider health clubs or gym memberships. One gym located in the whiskey and fried chicken capital of the flyover states is about 3,000 square feet. How many members does the facility have? The answer is 3,000. How many use the gym on a regular basis? About 100. How does the outfit make money? Billing the “members” who never use the equipment. Plus, the billings each month are facilitated by the smart software at Visa, MasterCard, and banks with auto-withdrawal capability. Is this a scam? Nope, it’s the business model of health clubs. Just sign up and never come. Works like a champ by the way.

I Analyzed SaaS Billing Dark Patterns” and learned that the author was surprised, shocked, horrified, and troubled that cloud providers use the health club approach to revenue. The write up reveals:

SaaS providers are more than willing to use dark billing patterns to increase their growth metrics and revenue. They exploit positive user acquisition loops in recurring subscriptions to get money from users as surreptitiously as possible.

Yep, shocker.

I loved this rhetorical question? Why do SaaS providers deploy the dark patterns?

The answer is, “The method generates money.”

But, but, but…. That’s bad.

Well, it depends on what point of view one adopts, doesn’t it.

Hollowing out is dumbing down in my book. The surprise in the write up illustrates the failure of basic management oversight.

What’s this mean? Higher costs, people who cannot figure out why something doesn’t work, and a lack of awareness about the obvious. Yep, the thumbtyper world is a fascinating construct.

Stephen E Arnold, November 19, 2021

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