Supplier Report: 2/18/2017

Oracle is having a heck of a week… they just started their 3rd round of lawsuits with Google over java API use, former employees filed a class action lawsuit over commission payments, and the finance blog Seeking Alpha laid out a horrific future for their database dominance.

Looks like Verizon is finally moving forward with the Yahoo purchase and managed to score a little discount thanks to Yahoo’s security issues.

IBM released an odd video of a young boy creating an Alexa-esque Watson assistant to help IT professionals monitor security threats. Is this the modern version of your dad making the baking soda volcano for your science project because “you didn’t do it right”?

Acquisitions

Artificial Intelligence

  • IBM’s Watson trained in the language of cyber security

    According to IBM, Watson can now help security analysts parse thousands of natural language research reports that have never before been accessible to modern security tools.For the past year, Watson has been trained on the language of cyber security with over one million security documents, and has been tested with over 40 clients and channel partners including the Ireland based partner Smarttech and Avnet.

    http://www.information-age.com/ibms-watson-cyber-security-123464427/

  • Elon Musk reiterates the need for brain-computer interfaces in the age of AI

    Musk’s comments recalled those made at Recode’s Code Conference last year, in which he discussed a “neural lace” that would interface directly with the brain, letting users communicate thoughts with computers with much more bandwidth and much less latency than is currently possible via input mechanisms like keyboard and mouse. The need for this, he said on Monday in Dubai, could “achieve a symbiosis between human and machine intelligence, and maybe solves the control problem and the usefulness problem,” reports CNBC.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/13/elon-musk-reiterates-the-need-for-brain-computer-interfaces-in-the-age-of-ai/?ncid=rss

  • IBM wants to bring machine learning to the mainframe

    IBM wants to provide data scientists with the same types of machine learning capabilities in a mainframe environment that they are used to finding in the cloud. The goal is to automate the often monotonous work of creating, testing and deploying analytical models. The solution works with popular open source tools including languages like Scala, Java and Python, and machine learning frameworks like Apache SparkML, TensorFlow and H2O. It’s also designed to work with virtually any data type the customer brings to the table.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/15/ibms-bringing-machine-learning-to-the-mainframe/?ncid=rss

Cloud

  • Why AWS has such a big lead in the cloud

    The simple answer is that it was first, but as Andy Jassy, the AWS CEO said in an interview at the University of Washington last week, in some ways it was a classic case of disruption dynamics. The competition simply didn’t believe there was enough of a market to worry about it.

    It’s easy to dismiss an irritant until it’s too late. In fact, Harvard professor, Clayton Christensen outlined the problem in his seminal book, The Innovator’s Dilemma. The dominant players don’t have any reason to worry about someone attacking the bottom of the market, and that’s precisely what AWS was doing in the early days.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/13/why-aws-has-such-a-big-lead-in-the-cloud/?sr_share=facebook

  • Oracle Fleshes Out Cloud Data Strategy

    The cloud services challenger on Monday (Feb. 13) rolled out a data integrator cloud service designed to accelerate support for real-time analytics across enterprises. The service addresses the shift of more data to the cloud and the resulting challenge of delivering the results of data analytics to the appropriate applications and the employees using those apps.

    https://www.enterprisetech.com/2017/02/13/oracle-fleshes-cloud-data-strategy/

  • Cisco to Produce Azure Stack Hybrid Cloud Systems

    Echoing some of the benefits that business leaders seek when they implement cloud-enabled IT strategies, Centoni said the jointly-engineered solution would provide “accelerated growth and innovation for enterprise customers and service providers looking to grow their businesses quickly with an efficient and flexible cloud consumption model. Service providers can deliver Cisco-Azure infrastructure as-a-service (Iaas) and platform-as-a-service (Paas).”

    http://www.eweek.com/cloud/cisco-to-produce-azure-stack-hybrid-cloud-systems.html

Datacenter

  • Fujitsu has its own line of storage boxes, so, uh, why is it reselling XtremIO in Japan?

    The spokesperson said: “In the domestic Japanese market, Fujitsu provides end-to-end services for large customers, including the purchase of third-party products like XtremeIO – it is strictly for this market only due to the specific nature of the corporate customer business.”

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/14/why_fujitsu_resells_xtremio_in_japan/

Software/SaaS

  • The Death Of The Commercial Database: Oracle’s Dilemma

    The vast majority of SaaS providers today either use an open-source database, or, as is the case with SaaS HCM vendor Workday, develop their own. Every user of an on-premises enterprise application, including one of the five core client-server application categories: ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), HCM (Human Capital Management), SCM (Supply Chain Management), and BI (Business Intelligence) applications, which moves to SaaS therefore eliminates a commercial database seat, and with it, the maintenance/support and future upgrade revenue it would have generated. Even an enterprise seat that moves to Salesforce.com will generate far less revenue for Oracle than that seat did when it was deployed on-premises.

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/4044813-death-commercial-database-oracles-dilemma

  • Amazon Wants to Be the Next Skype for Business with Chime

    Chime is currently available for free download on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows and is free to use for up to two people at once. For $2.50 per month per user, you’ll have access to screen sharing and a corporate directory but still for only two people. The plan Amazon hopes many will take advantage of is the $15/month/user tier which allows you to have up to 100 participants in a call at once, share screens, record calls, schedule conferences, set custom join URLs, and more. Of course, for a big company, that cost may shoot all the way up to $1500 per month just so you can communicate with employees, so Amazon is definitely not that concerned with pricing at least for now.

    https://mbeddedmaximum.com/2017/02/14/amazon-wants-to-be-the-next-skype-for-business-with-chime/

  • Oracle refuses to accept pro-Google “fair use” verdict in API battle

    Fair use is a defense to copyright infringement if certain elements are met. It’s decided on a case-by-case basis. “There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission,” according to the US Copyright Office. There are, however, at least four factors to be considered when deciding fair use: the purpose of use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and the effect of the use upon the potential market.

    Before going to the appeals court, Oracle asked US District Judge William Alsup to overturn the jury’s verdict. Alsup, who presided over the second trial, ruled that Google’s use cleared all four factors.

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/02/oracle-refuses-to-accept-pro-google-fair-use-verdict-in-api-battle/

Other

  • Privacy Advocates Celebrate as Judge Rules Microsoft Can Sue the DOJ

    Last April, Microsoft sued the Department of Justice over the FBI’s use of “sneak-and-peak” email searches and its refusal to allow the company to notify its customers that their data was under surveillance. The suit alleges that the FBI violated users’ Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure, as well as Microsoft’s First Amendment right to free speech. Robart rejected the Fourth Amendment complaint on the grounds that Microsoft couldn’t sue on behalf of its customers, but said the company had made a solid enough argument on the free speech issue to send it through to trial.

    http://thevarguy.com/var-guy/privacy-advocates-celebrate-judge-rules-microsoft-can-sue-doj

  • IBM leader defends role on Trump advisory council

    “Some have suggested that we should not engage with the U.S. administration. I disagree,” Rometty wrote in the letter, obtained by The Hill and first reported on by TechCrunch, which was distributed shortly after a meeting with Trump earlier this month.

    “Our experience has taught us that engagement — reaching out, listening and having authentic dialogue — is the best path to good outcomes.”

    http://thehill.com/policy/technology/319257-ibm-leader-defends-role-on-trump-advisory-council

  • Samsung chairman arrested for bribery

    Lee is being accused of directing Samsung subsidiaries to pay out over $30 million to Park’s confidante and related foundations. Ultimately, Lee wanted to secure the merger of two affiliates, which would have afforded him greater control of Samsung.

    https://www.technobuffalo.com/2017/02/17/samsung-chairman-arrested-for-bribery/

  • New name for CSC-HPE as deal approaches (DXC Technologies)

    The creation of DXC is just the beginning, of course. The plan for now is that the two companies will operate as different business units of DXC with their current management teams in place, which means that Marilyn Crouther, who runs the government business for HPE Enterprise Services, will continue in that role.

    https://washingtontechnology.com/blogs/editors-notebook/2017/02/csc-hp-new-name-dxc.aspx

  • Class-action suit claims Oracle stiffed salespeople out of commissions

    Marcella Johnson of Modesto, who sold software for the Bay Area tech giant for 16 months, alleged in the lawsuit that she worked for months without receiving commissions she’d earned, because Oracle had forced her to give back commission money she had already received.

    A lawyer representing Johnson said an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 salespeople at the company were also affected by what Oracle calls “re-planning.” Johnson is seeking class-action certification and more than $150 million in damages for herself and other current and former employees.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/14/oracle-stiffed-sales-staff-by-clawing-back-pay-150-million-lawsuit-claims/

Photo: Nick Jio

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AWS CEO Andy Jassy talks about competition

Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy doesn’t talk much about the competition, but he made rare comments about that competition during a recorded chat with a college professor.

On IBM and Oracle:

“I think there’s a second category of large technology companies that just took an ungodly long time to get there. These are companies like Oracle and IBM, some of those folks. I think for them the model that we were pursuing, in the cloud, was so disruptive to their core businesses. The margin structures are radically different. The pricing structures are dramatically different. The delivery model is radically different. The way you take care of customers is radically different. So different that I think you have that dilemma at a lot of large companies: do you really want to try and accelerate the cannibalization of an existing … I think that they fought as long and hard as they could. They pooh-poohed it and they said, first no one will use it, then maybe only startups will use it, and they won’t use it for anything real, then enterprises will never use it, then enterprises will never use it for anything mission-critical. Companies and developers voted with their workloads, and so now they’re in this spot of trying to spin something up. It’s six, seven years late.”

Photo: Jaromír Kavan

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SourceCast: Episode 59: Remote Possibilities

IBM is making headlines due to leaked news that they are asking their marketing employees to relocate to 6 main offices or be terminated. The press is saying this is similar to a decision Marissa Meyer made with Yahoo in 2013. Is IBM doomed to repeat Yahoo’s mistakes or is this something different?

Photo: Marisa Buhr

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News You Can Use: 2/15/2017

  • It’s Time to Go Beyond Supplier Management, But Where is That?

    Organizations these days need more than traditional historically focussed spend analytics that tell them, weeks or months after, what was spent, on what, from whom, by whom, from where, to where, and in what quantity. You need to know what is being spent, by whom, on what in real time … and where the dollars are trending towards. Is a new supplier taking all of the spot buy spend, or even worse, spend that is supposed to be on another contract? Are product and services tastes changing? Are market costs changing? The application has to not only be able to keep up, but identify the most pertinent trends and options for dealing with them … it has to have advanced predictive analytics that, at the very least, identifies the most relevant changes (and ranks them by value or statistics or outlier distance from the expected norm), if not offering prescriptive analytics on how to take advantage of changes, minimize losses, or control them in (historically) well understood situations.

    http://sourcinginnovation.com/wordpress/2017/02/03/its-time-to-go-beyond-supplier-management-but-where-is-that/

  • IT and Functional Departments – Finding the Middle Ground

    Procurement also brings market information (suppliers, price points, service levels) that IT may not be as focused on, but that could be critical to the overall solution. IT groups can at times limit themselves to certain suppliers for system or software solutions, but there may be alternate suppliers that easily integrate, or provide enough value to justify the effort required for working with disparate suppliers or systems. Procurement can bring that perspective forward and champion the needs of the business to balance the costs associated with IT change.

    http://sourcinginnovation.com/wordpress/2017/01/23/it-and-functional-departments-finding-the-middle-ground/

  • Consider Risky Moves by ‘Fear-Setting’
  • How Levi’s is radically redefining sustainability

    Levi’s has always been a leader in sustainability. In 1991, it established “terms of engagement” that laid out the brand’s global code of conduct throughout its supply chain. This meant setting standards for worker’s rights, a healthy work environment, and an ethical engagement with the planet. “It wasn’t an easy thing to do,” Dillinger says. “At the time, we were worried that doing this would drive up our own costs and prices.” In fact, what happened was that these practices were quickly adopted by other companies, who used it as a template to write their own rules. “We were actually leading industry toward new standards,” he says.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/3067895/moving-the-needle/levis-is-radically-redefining-sustainability

  • Don’t Be the Kobe Bryant of Your Office

    It doesn’t matter how productive you are if no one enjoys working with you. Steve Nash, a former NBA player that the researchers found to be particularly valuable at making his teams better, was famous for constantly high-fiving his teammates. There’s never been a direct measure of a “high-five to productivity ratio,” but doling out praise and encouragement seems to be indicative of creating a high-quality team culture, which in turn increases performance.

    http://www.thesimpledollar.com/dont-be-the-kobe-bryant-of-your-office/

Photo: Oliver Cole

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Supplier Report: 2/11/2017

It was an eclectic news week for IT suppliers.  Microsoft cut their cloud prices for certain services and is also starting to protect customers against patent trolls, promising to assist small companies should a nonsense lawsuit occur.

Google found themselves in federal court being asked to provide the FBI access to emails. The company hoped to use Microsoft’s successful defense in a similar trail as grounds to drop the request, but it was denied.  When Google isn’t in court, they are expanding the use of complex games to vet and teach their AI better ways to solve for problems.

Acquisitions

  • The Case For IBM Buying Nvidia, Xilinx, And Mellanox

    We know what you are thinking. This might be a good thing for IBM, but it might not be a good thing for Nvidia, Xilinx, and Mellanox, who are the key three hardware partners in the OpenPower consortium that IBM formed with the help of hyperscale datacenter operator Google back in August 2013. Fair enough. All three companies seem to be doing fine against their respective competition, and the OpenPower effort might be a tight enough coupling to get interesting and innovative systems to market. But, we might argue, this effort to build a flexible platform – for that is what the OpenPower consortium is ultimately about – could be significantly enhanced and accelerated by a tighter coupling of the core technologies created by all four of these companies. The fourth being, of course, the Power family of processors created by IBM, which would be married to Nvidia Tesla compute GPUs, Mellanox InfiniBand and Ethernet switching, and Xilinx UltraScale Virtex and Kintex FPGAs.

    https://www.nextplatform.com/2017/02/07/case-ibm-buying-nvidia-xilinx-mellanox/

Artificial Intelligence

  • DeepMind is using games to test AI aggression and cooperation

    The findings are important as humanity releases multiple AI into the world. It’s likely some will clash and try to either co-operate or sabotage one another. What happens, for instance, if an AI is managing traffic flow across the city, while another is trying to reduce carbon emissions in the state? The rules of the “game” which govern their behavior then become vital. Setting parameters, and being mindful of other agents, will be crucial if we’re to balance the global economy, public health and climate change.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/09/google-deepmind-ai-cooperation-research/

  • In major AI win, Libratus beats four top poker pros

    Marking a major step forward for artificial intelligence (AI), Libratus, an AI developed by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), has resoundingly beaten four of the best heads-up no-limit Texas hold’em poker players in the world in a marathon, 20-day competition.

    After 20 days and a collective 120,000 hands played, Libratus closed out the competition Monday leading the pros by a collective $1,766,250 in chips.

    http://www.cio.com/article/3164228/artificial-intelligence/in-major-ai-win-libratus-beats-four-top-poker-pros.html

Cloud

  • Senior Google Cloud Exec Departs After Reorg

    Schachter joined the Internet search giant in 2012 from Salesforce.com, according to his LinkedIn profile. Initially he worked on Google for Work, formerly the overall brand for Google applications and devices. It is now part of the Google Cloud group. Schachter was promoted to head Google Cloud’s sales effort two years ago.

    According to that story, there was a sales reorganization earlier this year in which Schachter got responsibility for North America sales while another executive took on Europe and the Middle East.

    http://fortune.com/2017/02/02/google-cloud-vp-leaves/

  • Microsoft cuts cloud prices again

    The Redmond., Wash., software group dropped prices by up to 61% on some of its products, though other offerings will not carry a discount.

    https://www.thestreet.com/story/13995452/1/microsoft-kicks-off-the-2017-cloud-wars-with-some-big-price-cuts.html

  • Microsoft Adds Patent Suit Protections For Cloud Customers

    Microsoft, the second-biggest cloud infrastructure services vendor behind Amazon.com Inc., will help customers fight back by offering them one of its own patents to deter or defeat such suits. The software giant will also expand a program in which Microsoft provides funds or legal resources to fend off claims, known as indemnification.

    http://talkincloud.com/cloud-computing/microsoft-adds-patent-suit-protections-cloud-customers

Datacenter

Software/SaaS

  • Open source users: It’s time for extreme vetting

    Open source won. It won because it’s used everywhere now. But now we have a supply chain problem we need to start thinking about and that is, where did you get it and how is it being taken care of, because software doesn’t age well. This is something that you have to take care of and you have to pay attention to. You can’t just pull software into your project and you’re done.

    http://www.cio.com/article/3167527/linux/open-source-users-its-time-for-extreme-vetting.html

Other

  • IBM’s Marissa Mayer moment: Staff ordered to work in one of 6 main offices – or face the axe

    According to sources, the six “strategic” offices US marketing staff must work from are in: Austin, Texas; San Francisco, California; New York City, New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Atlanta, Georgia; and Raleigh, North Carolina. El Reg understands that employees will not get to choose a nearby office, but will instead be assigned a location based on where their team is predominantly situated. The first wave of workers were informed of the changes on Monday. The next wave will be instructed in early March, we’re told.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/08/ibm_no_more_telecommuting/

  • Google told to hand over foreign emails in FBI search warrant ruling

    The ruling is notable because it goes against an appeals court judgement last year — recently upheld — pertaining to Microsoft customer data held in servers outside the US. In that instance a federal court ruled the company did not have to hand over data stored on its servers in Ireland to the US government, declining to “disregard the presumption against extraterritoriality,” as the judge put it.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/04/google-told-to-hand-over-foreign-emails-in-fbi-search-warrant-ruling/?ncid=rss

  • Oracle settling with ex-worker over alleged fiddling of cloud accounts

    In a joint submission Wednesday to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, lawyers for Oracle and the former employee Svetlana Blackburn asked for the vacation of a case management conference scheduled for Thursday, while submitting a notice of settlement to notify the court “that the lawsuit has been settled in principle, and to request thirty (30) days in which to file a dismissal.”

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/3168035/cloud-computing/oracle-settling-with-ex-worker-over-alleged-fiddling-of-cloud-accounts.html

Photo: Oliver Cole

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