The Google Explains the Future of the Google Cloud: Very Googley, Of Course

April 30, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

At its recent Next 24 conference, Google Cloud and associates shared their visions for the immediate future of AI. Through the event’s obscurely named Session Library, one can watch hundreds of sessions and access resources connected to many more. The idea — if you  have not caught on to the Googley nomenclature — is to make available videos of the talks at the conference. To narrow, one can filter by session category, conference track, learning level, solution, industry, topic of interest, and whether video is available. Keep in mind that the words you (a normal human, I presume) may use to communicate your interest may not be the lingo Googzilla speaks. AI and Machine Learning feature prominently. Other key areas include data and databases, security, development and architecture, productivity, and revenue growth (naturally). There is even a considerable nod to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Okay, nod, nod.

Here are a few session titles from just the “AI and ML” track to illustrate the scope of this event and the available information:

  • A cybersecurity expert’s guide to securing AI products with Google SAIF
  • AI for banking: Streamline core banking services and personalize customer experiences
  • AI for manufacturing: Enhance productivity and build innovative new business models
  • AI for telecommunications: Transform customer interactions and network operations
  • AI in capital markets: The biggest bets in the industry
  • Accelerate software delivery with Gemini and Code Transformations
  • Revolutionizing healthcare with AI
  • Streamlining access to youth mental health services

It looks like there is something for everybody. We think the titles make reasonably clear the scope and bigness of Google’s aspirations. Nor would we expect less from a $2 trillion outfit based on advertising, would we? Run a query for Code Red or in Google lingo CodeRED, and you will be surprised that the state of emergency, Microsoft is a PR king mentality persists. (Is this the McKinsey way?) Well, not for those employed at McKinsey. Former McKinsey professionals have more latitude in their management methods; for example, emulating high school science club planning techniques. There are no sessions we could spot about Google’s competition. If one is big enough, there is no competition. One of Googzilla’s relatives made a mess of Tokyo real estate largely without lasting consequences.

Cynthia Murrell, April 30, 2024

Has Google Aligned Its AI Messaging for the AI Circus?

April 10, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I followed the announcements at the Google shindig Cloud Next. My goodness, Google’s Code Red has produced quite a new announcements. However, I want to ask a simple question, “Has Google organized its AI acts under one tent?” You can wallow in the Google AI news because TechMeme on April 10, 2024, has a carnival midway of information.

I want to focus on one facet: The enterprise transformation underway. Google wants to cope with Microsoft’s pushing AI into the enterprise, into the Manhattan chatbot, and into the government.  One example of what Google envisions is what Google calls “genAI agents.” Explaining scripts with smarts requires a diagram. Here’s one, courtesy of Constellation Research:

image

Look at the diagram. The “customer”, which is the organization, is at the center of a Googley world: plumbing, models, and a “platform.” Surrounding this core with the customer at the center are scripts with smarts. These will do customer functions. This customer, of course, is the customer of the real customer, the organization. The genAI agents will do employee functions, creative functions, data functions, code functions, and security functions. The only missing function is the “paying Google function,” but that is baked into the genAI approach.

If one accepts the myriad announcements as the “as is” world of Google AI, the Cloud Next conference will have done its job. If you did not get the memo, you may see the Googley diagram as the work of enthusiastic marketers. The quantumly supreme lingo as more evidence that Code Red has been one output of the Code Red initiative.

I want to call attention, however, to the information in the allegedly accurate “Google DeepMind’s CEO Reportedly Thinks It’ll Be Tough to Catch Up with OpenAI’s Sora.” The write up states:

Google DeepMind CEO may think OpenAI’s text-to-video generator, Sora, has an edge. Demis Hassabis told a colleague it’d be hard for Google to draw level with Sora … The Information reported.  His comments come as Big Tech firms compete in an AI race to build rival products.

Am I to believe the genAI system can deliver what enterprises, government organizations, and non governmental entities want: Ways to cut costs and operate in a smarter way?

If I tell myself, “Believe Google’s Cloud Next statements?” Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, OpenAI, and others should fold their tents, put their animals back on the train, and head to another city in Kansas.

If I tell myself, “Google is not delivering and one cannot believe the company which sells ads and outputs weird images of ethnically interesting historical characters,” then the advertising company is a bit disjointed.

Several observations:

  1. The YouTube content processing issues are an indication that Google is making interesting decisions which may have significant legal consequences related to copyright
  2. The senior managers who are in direct opposition about their enthusiasm for Google’s AI capabilities need to get in the same book and preferably read from the same page
  3. The assertions appear to be marketing which is less effective than Microsoft’s at this time.

Net net: The circus has some tired acts. The Sundar and Prabhakar Show seemed a bit tired. The acts were better than those features on the Gong Show but not as scintillating as performances on the Masked Singer. But what about search? Oh, it’s great. And that circus train. Is it powered by steam?

Stephen E Arnold, April 9, 2024

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Microsoft Decides to Work with CISPE on Cloudy Concerns

March 19, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Perhaps a billion and a half dollars in fines can make a difference to a big tech company after all. In what looks like a move to avoid more regulatory scrutiny, Yahoo Finance reports, “Microsoft in Talks to End Trade Body’s Cloud Computing Complaint.” The trade body here is CISPE, a group of firms that provide cloud services in Europe. Amazon is one of those, but 26 smaller companies are also members. The group asserts certain changes Microsoft made to its terms of service in October of 2022 have harmed Europe’s cloud computing ecosystem. How, exactly, is unclear. Writer Foo Yun Chee tells us:

“[CISPE] said it had received several complaints about Microsoft, including in relation to its product Azure, which it was assessing based on its standard procedures, but declined to comment further. Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. CISPE said the discussions were at an early stage and it was uncertain whether these would result in effective remedies but said ‘substantive progress must be achieved in the first quarter of 2024’. ‘We are supportive of a fast and effective resolution to these harms but reiterate that it is Microsoft which must end its unfair software licensing practices to deliver this outcome,’ said CISPE secretary general Francisco Mingorance. Microsoft, which notched up 1.6 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in EU antitrust fines in the previous decade, has in recent years changed its approach towards regulators to a more accommodative one.”

Just how accommodating with Microsoft will be remains to be seen.

Cynthia Murrell, March 19, 2024

Scattering Clouds: Price Surprises and Technical Labyrinths Have an Impact

February 12, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Yep, the cloud. A third-party time sharing services with some 21st-century add ons. I am not too keen on the cloud even though I am forced to use it for certain specific tasks. Others, however, think nothing of using the cloud like an invisible and infinite USB stick. “2023 Could Be the Year of Public Cloud Repatriation” strikes me as a “real” news story reporting that others are taking a look at the sky, spotting threatening clouds, and heading to a long-abandoned computer room to rethink their expenditures.

The write up reports:

Many regard repatriating data and applications back to enterprise data centers from a public cloud provider as an admission that someone made a big mistake moving the workloads to the cloud in the first place. I don’t automatically consider this a failure as much as an adjustment of hosting platforms based on current economic realities. Many cite the high cost of cloud computing as the reason for moving back to more traditional platforms.

I agree. However, there are several other factors which may reflect more managerial analysis than technical acumen; specifically:

  1. The cloud computing solution was better, faster, and cheaper. Better than an in house staff? Well, not for everyone because cloud companies are not working overtime to address user / customer problems. The technical personnel have other fires, floods, and earthquakes. Users / customers have to wait unless the user / customer “buys” dedicated support staff.
  2. So the “cheaper” argument becomes an issue. In addition to paying for escalated support, one has to deal with Byzantine pricing mechanisms. If one considers any of the major cloud providers, one can spend hours reading how to manage certain costs. Data transfer is a popular subject. Activated but unused services are another. Why is pricing so intricate and complex? Answer: Revenue for the cloud providers. Many customers are confident the big clouds are their friend and have their best financial interests at heart. That’s true. It is just that the heart is in the cloud computer books, not the user / customer balance sheets.
  3. And better? For certain operations, a user / customer has limited options. The current AI craze means the cloud is the principal game in town. Payroll, sales management, and Webby stuff are also popular functions to move to the cloud.

The rationale for shifting to the cloud varies, but there are some themes which my team and I have noted in our work over the years:

First, the cloud allowed “experts” who cost a lot of money to be hired by the cloud vendor. Users / customers did not have to have these expensive people on their staff. Plus, there are not that many experts who are really expert. The cloud vendor has the smarts to hire the best and the resources to pay these people accordingly… in theory. But bean counters love to cut costs so IT professionals were downsized in many organizations. The mythical “power user” could do more and gig workers could pick up any slack. But the costs of cloud computing held a little box with some Tannerite inside. Costs for information technology were going up. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to do computing in house? For some, the answer is, “Yes.”

2 11 ostrich

An ostrich company with its head in the clouds, not in the sand. Thanks, MidJourney, what a not-even-good-enough illustration.

Second, most organizations lacked the expertise to manage a multi-cloud set up. When an organization has two or more clouds, one cannot allow a cloud company to manage itself and one or more competitors. Therefore, organizations had to add to their headcount a new and expensive position: A cloud manager.

Third, the cloud solutions are not homogeneous. Different rules of the road, different technical set up, and different pricing schemes. The solution? Add another position: A technical manager to manage the cloud technologies.

I will stop with these three points. One can rationalize using the cloud easily; for example a government agency can push tasks to the cloud. Some work in government agencies consists entirely of attending meetings at which third-party contractors explain what they are doing and why an engineering change order is priority number one. Who wants to do this work as part of a nine to five job?

But now there is a threat to the clouds themselves. That is security. What’s more secure? Data in a user / customer server facility down the hall or in a disused building in Piscataway, New Jersey, or sitting in a cloud service scattered wherever? Security? Cloud vendors are great at security. Yeah, how about those AWS S3 buckets or the Microsoft email “issue”?

My view is that a “where should our computing be done and where should our data reside” audit be considered by many organizations. People have had their heads in the clouds for a number of years. It is time to hold a meeting in that little-used computer room and do some thinking.

Stephen E Arnold, February 12, 2024

The Cloud Kids Are Not Happy: Where Is Mom?

December 13, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

An amusing item about the trials and tribulations of a cloud techno feudalists seems appropriate today. Navigate to the paywalled story “Microsoft Has Stranglehold on the Cloud, Say Amazon and Google.” With zero irony, the write up reports:

Amazon and Google have complained to the UK’s competition regulator that their rival, Microsoft, uses practices that restrict customer choice in the £7.5 billion cloud computing market.

What’s amusing is that Google allegedly said before it lost its case related to the business practices of its online store:

“These licensing practices are the only insurmountable barrier preventing competition on the merits for new customers migrating to the cloud and for existing workloads. They lead to less choice, less innovation, and increased costs for UK customers of all sizes.”

What was Amazon’s view? According to the article:

“Microsoft changed its licensing terms in 2019 and again in 2022 to make it more difficult for customers to run some of its popular software offerings on Google Cloud, AWS and Alibaba. To use many of Microsoft’s software products with these other cloud services providers, a customer must purchase a separate license even if they already own the software. This often makes it financially unviable for a customer to choose a provider other than Microsoft.”

How similar is this finger pointing and legal activity to a group of rich kids complaining that one child has all the toys? I think the similarities are — well — similar.

The question is, “What entity will become the mom to adjudicate the selfish actions of the cloud kids?”

Stephen E Arnold, December 13, 2023

Useful Cloud Market Share Data: Accurate? Well, Close Enough for Horseshoes

August 9, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

Anyone looking for a handy summary of data about big cloud players will find “AWS vs Google Cloud vs Microsoft Azure” worth reading. The article mentions the big folks and includes some data about smaller (although large) players; for example, Oracle. Trigger warning: The article users the term “hyperscalers” which I find a bit rizzy for my rhetorical spice cupboard.

Here are three representative items from the article. For more numbers, navigate to the original, please.

  1. Amazon’s worldwide [cloud] market share is 34 percent.
  2. The Google Cloud (bless those kind Googlers) is a bold 10 percent.
  3. Microsoft “cloud” [a fuzzy wuzzy nebulous and undefined word] surpassed $110 billion in annual revenue for 2022 and Azure accounted for $55 billion of the $110 billion.

Why is the cloud a big money maker? The article has an answer: Generative AI. Okay, that’s a good reason. I think there may be other factors as well.

If you collect these types of data, you will find the short write up a good reference point for a few months.

Stephen E Arnold, August 9, 2023

Smart Software and a Re-Run of Paradise Lost Joined Progress

June 5, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

I picked up two non-so-faint and definitely not-encrypted signals about the goals of Google and Microsoft for smart software.

6 3 god 2

Which company will emerge as the one true force in smart software? MidJourney did not pick a winner, just what the top dog will wear to the next quarterly sales report delivered via a neutral Zoom call.

Navigate to the visually thrilling podcast hosted by Lex Fridman, an American MIT wizard. He interviewed the voluble Google wizard Chris Lattner. The subject was the Future of Programming and AI. After listening to the interview, I concluded the following:

  1. Google wants to define and control the “meta” framework for artificial intelligence. What’s this mean? Think a digital version of a happy family: Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva, among others.
  2. Google has an advantage when it comes to doing smart software because its humanoids have learned what works, what to do, and how to do certain things.
  3. The complexity of Google’s multi-pronged smart software methods, its home-brew programming languages, and its proprietary hardware are nothing more than innovation. Simple? Innovation means no one outside of the Google AI cortex can possibly duplicate, understand, or outperform Googzilla.
  4. Google has money and will continue to spend it to deliver the Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva experience in my interpretation of programmer speak.

How’s that sound? I assume that the fruit fly start ups are going to ignore the vibrations emitted from Chris Lattner, the voluble Chris Lattner, I want to emphasize. But like those short-lived Diptera, one can derive some insights from the efforts of less well-informed, dependent, and less-well-funded lab experiments.

Okay, that’s signal number one.

Signal number two appears in “Microsoft Signs Deal for AI Computing Power with Nvidia-Backed CoreWeave That Could Be Worth Billions.” This “real news” story asserts:

… Microsoft has agreed to spend potentially billions of dollars over multiple years on cloud computing infrastructure from startup CoreWeave …

CoreWeave? Yep, the company “sells simplified access to Nvidia’s graphics processing units, or GPUs, which are considered the best available on the market for running AI models.” By the way, nVidia has invested in this outfit. What’s this signal mean to me? Here are the flickering lines on my oscilloscope:

  1. Microsoft wants to put smart software into its widely-used enterprise applications in order to make the one true religion of smart software. The idea, of course, is to pass the collection plate and convert dead dog software into racing greyhounds.
  2. Microsoft has an advantage because when an MBA does calculations and probably letters to significant others, Excel is the go-to solution. Some people create art in Excel and then sell it. MBAs just get spreadsheet fever and do leveraged buyouts. With smart software the Microsoft alleged monopoly does the billing.
  3. The wild and wonderful world of Azure is going to become smarter because… well, Microsoft does smart things. Imagine the demand for training courses, certification for Microsoft engineers, and how-to YouTube videos.
  4. Microsoft has money and will continue to achieve compulsory attendance at the Church of Redmond.

Net net: Two titans will compete. I am thinking about the battle between the John Milton’s protagonist and antagonist in “Paradise Lost.” This will be fun to watch whilst eating chicken korma.

Stephen E Arnold, June 5, 2023

The Confluence: Big Tech, Lobbyists, and the US Government

March 13, 2023

I read “Biden Admin’s Cloud Security Problem: It Could Take Down the Internet Like a Stack of Dominos.” I was thinking that the take down might be more like the collapses of outfits like Silicon Valley Bank.

I noted this statement about the US government, which is

embarking on the nation’s first comprehensive plan to regulate the security practices of cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Oracle, whose servers provide data storage and computing power for customers ranging from mom-and-pop businesses to the Pentagon and CIA.

Several observations:

  1. Lobbyists have worked to make it easy for cloud providers and big technology companies to generate revenue is an unregulated environment.
  2. Government officials have responded with inaction and spins through the revolving door. A regulator or elected official today becomes tomorrow’s technology decision maker and then back again.
  3. The companies themselves have figured out how to use their money and armies of attorneys to do what is best for the companies paying them.

What’s the consequence? Wonderful wordsmithing is one consequence. The problem is that now there are Mauna Loas burbling in different places.

Three of them are evident: The fragility of Silicon Valley approach to innovation. That’s reactive and imitative at this time. The second issue is the complexity of the three body problem resulting from lobbyists, government methods, and monopolistic behaviors. Commercial enterprises have become familiar with the practice of putting their thumbs on the scale. Who will notice?

What will happen? The possible answers are not comforting. Waving a magic wand and changing what are now institutional behaviors established over decades of handcrafting will be difficult.

I touch on a few of the consequences in an upcoming lecture for the attendees at the 2023 National Cyber Crime Conference.

Stephen E Arnold, March 13, 2023

Clearing the Clouds in the EU

January 5, 2023

For many companies, computing in the cloud so someone else can worry about all that infrastructure seems like a no-brainer. But there is one big problem. The cloud services market is dominated by just three players: Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. The Next Web argues that “Dependence on Cloud’s ‘Big Three’ Is Hurting EU Startup Growth—It’s Time for a New Approach.” Writer Marris Adikwu informs us tech firms in Europe are suffering losses, cutting payroll, and struggling to attract investors. Several related factors contribute to the problem, like the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, and rising inflation. However, Adikwu asserts, a lack of cloudy competition also plays a role. Yep, it is time to gear up for more pressure on some high profile tech giants. We are told:

“While founders are reviewing budgets up and down looking to trim as much as possible in order to stay afloat, one major spend has been left largely untouched: cloud services. While the shift to the cloud was intended to reduce computing costs, many companies that have adopted these services are facing a surge in spending. Contract lock-ins and egress fees are making it impossible to leave. In fact, some argue that the cloud could be costing many businesses more than it’s actually saving.”

Yes, one must pay to leave but often not to enter. That can make the contract seem like a great deal at first. But once a cloud service is holding a firm’s data, the company is stuck if it cannot afford the fees to move it out. Held hostage are little items like office software, payroll systems, and customer websites. We learn:

“Currently, AWS charges between $0.08 to $0.12 per GB in egress fees, meanwhile Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure charge $0.08 and $0.05 per GB respectively for inter-continental data transfers from North America to Europe. According to Yann Lechelle, CEO of EU-based cloud provider Scaleway, startups often accept six-figure cloud credits from AWS, GCP, and Azure and take on products and services that they don’t always need, because they seem free.”

EU regulators address the issue in the European Data Act, but that legislation is still under discussion and, some feel, does not go far enough to protect against unfair contractual terms anyway. Adikwu recommends startups protect themselves by carefully considering their needs, spreading services across multiple cloud vendors, seeking out reserved instances and other discounts, and tapping into cost-saving technology. See the write-up for more details on these suggestions.

Cynthia Murrell, January 5, 2023

The Cloud and Points of Failure: Really?

September 13, 2022

A professional affiliated with Syntropy points out one of my “laws” of online; namely, that centralization is inevitable. What’s interesting about “The Internet is Now So Centralized That One Company Can Break It” is that it does not explain much about Syntropy. In my opinion, there is zero information about the c9ompany. The firm’s Web site explains:

Unlocking the power of the world’s scientific data requires more than a new tool or method – it requires a catalyst for change and collaboration across industries.

The Web site continues:

We are committed to inspiring others around our vision — a world in which the immense power of a single source of truth in biomedical data propels us towards discoveries, breakthroughs and cures faster than ever before.

The company is apparently involved with Merck KGaA, which as I recall from my Pharmaceutical News Index days, is not too keen on sharing its intellectual property, trial data, or staff biographies. Also, the company has some (maybe organic, maybe more diaphanous) connection with Palantir Technologies. Palantir, an interesting search and retrieval company morphing into search based applications and consulting, is a fairly secretive outfit despite its being a publicly traded company. (The firm’s string of quarterly disappointments and its share price send a signal to some astute observers I think.)

But what’s in the article by individual identified at the foot of the essay as Domas Povilauskas, the top dog at Syntropy. Note that the byline for the article is Benzinga Contributor which is not particularly helpful.

Hmmm. What’s up?

The write up recycles the online leads to centralization notion. Okay. But centralization is a general feature of online information, and that’s not a particularly new idea either.

The author continues:

The problem with the modern Internet is that it is essentially a set of private networks run by individual internet service providers. Each has a network, and most connections occur between these networks…. Networks are only managed locally. Routing decisions are made locally by the providers via the BGP protocol. There’s no shared knowledge, and nobody controls the entire route of the connection. Using these public ISPs is like using public transport. You have no control over where it goes. Providers own the cables and everything else. In this system, there are no incentives for ISPs to provide a good service.

The set up of ISPs strikes me as a mix of centralization and whatever works. My working classification of ISPs and providers has three categories: Constrained services (Amazon-type outfits), Boundary Operators (the TOR relay type outfits), and Unconstrained ISPs and providers (CyberBunker-type organizations). My view is that this is the opposite of centralization. In each category there are big and small outfits, but 90 percent of the action follows Arnold’s Law of Centralization. What’s interesting is that in each category — for instance, boundary operators — the centralization repeats just on a smaller scale. AccessNow runs a conference. At this conference are many operators unknown by the general online user.

The author of the article says:

The only way to get a more reliable service is to pay ISPs a lot for high-speed private connections. That’s the only way big tech companies like Amazon run their data centers. But the biggest irony is that there is enough infrastructure to handle much more growth.  70% of Internet infrastructure isn’t utilized because nobody knows about these routes, and ISPs don’t have an excellent solution to monetize them on demand. They prefer to work based on fixed, predetermined contracts, which take a lot of time to negotiate and sign.

I think this is partially correct. As soon as one shifts from focusing on what appear to be legitimate online activities to more questionable and possibly illegal activities, evidence of persistent online services which are difficult for law enforcement to take down thrive. CyberBunker generated millions and required more than two years to knock offline and reign in the owners. There is more dimensionality in the ISP/provider sector than the author of the essay considers.

The knock-offline idea sounds good. One can point to the outages and the pain caused by Microsoft Azure/Microsoft Cloud, Google Cloud, Amazon, and others as points of weakness with as many vulnerabilities as a five-legged Achilles would have.

The reality is that the generalizations about centralization sound good, seem logical, and appear to follow the Arnold Law that says online services tend to centralization. Unfortunately new technologies exist which make it possible for more subtle approaches to put services online.

Plus, I am not sure how a company focused on a biomedical single source of truth fits into what is an emerging and diverse ecosystem of ISPs and service providers.

Stephen E Arnold, September 13, 2022

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