IBM hosted their Interconnect conference in Las Vegas this week… so there was alot of IBM news. Big blue announced their cloud storage platform would cost less than AWS and Azure. They also continued their AI and Blockchain marketing campaigns.
But as IBM is attempting to make Watson synonymous with AI, some critics are asking if Watson is too complex to invest in as less complicated and cheaper alternatives become available.
- Amazon to acquire Souq, a Middle East clone once valued at $1B, for $650M
According to multiple reports that we have confirmed with our own sources, the e-commerce giant has acquired Souq, often described as the Amazon of the Arab world and the region’s biggest e-commerce player, for a price of $650 million, to spearhead its Middle East business. “The ink is dry” on the deal already, one source close to the company tells us.
- Why IBM spent $200 million to buy a huge Salesforce partner with Marc Benioff’s blessing
IBM purchased BlueWolf last year, but became a big topic during Interconnect
IBM’s current consulting business has been in decline for the past few years because companies are rarely embarking on the kind of huge, multi-million, old-school IT projects they used to hire IBM to do, such as installing massive new SAP systems at enterprises. IBM is a huge SAP partner. Those old-school deals have an high failure rate: running over time, over budget and sometimes winding up in court.
Companies are turning to cloud computing instead, especially Salesforce.
IBM is already a consulting partner with Salesforce. Bluewolf speeds up its plans. In other words, IBM views Salesforce as its next SAP when it comes to its consulting business.
- ‘You will see us do more acquisitions’: A conversation with HPE CEO Meg Whitman
I think it’s really about a very focused strategy about hybrid IT, the intelligent edge, and the services to make it all happen. And now, we have to deliver the innovation, get the right partner network of companies. We are really curating Silicon Valley, whether it’s Arista, Docker, Chef, Mesosphere, Turbonomic, SaltStack. Innovation in the digital age is a team sport, and we can’t do this all by ourselves. What we can do is curate the best of the best for our solutions.
I suspect now you will see us do more acquisitions. We’ve sort of shrunk down to the core, and we will make investments and acquisitions in that very core strategy of hybrid IT and the intelligent edge, and probably some services. We’ll probably partner with security companies to build in security into our offerings.
- IBM Bets The Company On Cloud, AI, And Blockchain
Watson supports tax advisors in the company’s retail locations, helping them to find the most deductions for customers. However, getting Watson up to speed at H&R Block was a significant effort. “Watson has ingested about 600 million data points before we started,” explained Bill Cobb, CEO of H&R Block. “It also learned the tax code.”
This enormous commitment of person-hours from highly qualified professionals as well as vast quantities of data makes Watson more of a consultant’s tool, best suited for selling the time of IBM consultants, more so than a modular, LEGO-block style plug-in for customers to incorporate directly into their own applications.
IBM tried to downplay this drawback at InterConnect, but compared to many of the more innovative AI technologies on the market today that don’t require the same kind of labor-intensive training, Watson comes across as being an earlier generation of AI technology.
AI, therefore, may be a good bet, but it’s not clear that Watson itself is.
AI, therefore, may be a good bet, but it’s not clear that Watson itself is.
- To Compete With AWS, Oracle Will Need More Data Centers
If Oracle means to compete at scale with Amazon, Microsoft and Google, it will likely need to back up its tough talk with more data centers. As Oracle builds momentum in cloud computing, it has shifted from building its own data centers to leasing wholesale space from data center developers, enabling it to accelerate its expansion.
But Oracle’s cloud infrastructure remains significantly smaller than its three cloud rivals. That’s why Oracle’s strong momentum is good news for data center developers, including the publicly-held real estate investment trusts (REITs), who have been among the leading beneficiaries of the cloud infrastructure expansions by Microsoft and Amazon.
- IBM Cloud Chief Lays Out Big Blue’s Case
IBM has long-running relationships with almost every Fortune 500 company and its C-level executives, which is an advantage. Its disadvantage is that Amazon Web Services has been wooing and winning business customers to its public cloud over the last 10 years. IBM was late to this information technology delivery model, in which one company amasses and manages vast pools of computing, networking, and storage resources in data centers around the world and then rents them to paying customers. Many of those customers view public cloud services as a way to augment or even replace their own data centers.
IBM aims to undercut AWS and Azure with new ‘Flex’ cloud storage service
According to IBM, Flex will provide tiered “pay as you use” storage options that will be both cheaper and higher performing than competitive offerings from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. The company says it is cutting the price to store and access data “by more than 50 percent compared to AWS S3 IA and Azure GRS Cool Tier” and that it is unique in doing so.
I can’t be reading this right, IBM doesn’t aim to undercut anything 🙂
- Does Oracle’s AWS Pricing Increase Make Strategic Sense?
“This change in licensing terms effectively doubles the licensing requirements for some cloud implementations,” said Craig Guarente, CEO of Palisade Compliance. While it is not yet clear how aggressively Oracle will attempt to enforce this provision for new or old licenses, it does represent an attempt to lower the relative price of using the Oracle cloud.
So then will this price change actually cause more people to use the Oracle cloud? For that to happen, someone would have to switch their entire cloud deployment from AWS or Azure to the Oracle cloud for the sake of the increased cost of one part of the infrastructure. Given that Oracle isn’t in the mix in most of the cloud deployments I’ve heard of, and that its cloud is far behind both AWS and Azure in terms of features, adoption, and ecosystem, it is likely that it would cost a huge amount more to move to the Oracle cloud than to stay with AWS or Azure, so no, this policy change isn’t going to cause a rush of Oracle cloud sales.
- IBM: The Future of Cloud (InterConnect)
- A simple command allows the CIA to commandeer 318 models of Cisco switches
Cisco researchers said they discovered the vulnerability as they analyzed a cache of documents that are believed to have been stolen from the CIA and published by WikiLeaks two weeks ago. The flaw, found in at least 318 switches, allows remote attackers to execute code that runs with elevated privileges, Cisco warned in an advisory published Friday. The bug resides in the Cisco Cluster Management Protocol (CMP), which uses the telnet protocol to deliver signals and commands on internal networks. It stems from a failure to restrict telnet options to local communications and the incorrect processing of malformed CMP-only telnet options.
“An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending malformed CMP-specific telnet options while establishing a telnet session with an affected Cisco device configured to accept telnet connections,” the advisory stated. “An exploit could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code and obtain full control of the device or cause a reload of the affected device.”
- Microsoft just showed off exactly what Salesforce was worried about
Among other features, the new enterprise version increases the number of LinkedIn messages users can send to 50 per month, makes it easier for large companies to manage the product by adding single sign-on and allows sales teams to draw on LinkedIn connections from anyone within their organization with a new feature called TeamLink Extend.
Subscriptions will also include access to a tool called PointDrive, created by a company acquired by LinkedIn, for easily sharing content like presentations, images, links and videos with prospective customers. Pricing starts at $1,600 per seat per year, with the price dropping with more subscriptions and longer contracts.
- Is the IBM-Salesforce Partnership about Killing Microsoft?
Let me answer that… no.
In an interview with Fortune magazine following the announcement of the IBM-Salesforce AI collaboration, Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s CEO, talked about the partnership’s providing Salesforce the opportunity to begin replacing Microsoft products at IBM.
If that’s what Salesforce is thinking, then it means the company will likely also try to persuade IBM customers who use Microsoft’s products to defect to its platform, potentially dealing Microsoft a blow in the productivity software market.
- Google takes Symantec to the woodshed for mis-issuing 30,000 HTTPS certs
Effective immediately, Chrome plans to stop recognizing the extended validation status of all certificates issued by Symantec-owned certificate authorities, Ryan Sleevi, a software engineer on the Google Chrome team, said Thursday in an online forum. Extended validation certificates are supposed to provide enhanced assurances of a site’s authenticity by showing the name of the validated domain name holder in the address bar. Under the move announced by Sleevi, Chrome will immediately stop displaying that information for a period of at least a year. In effect, the certificates will be downgraded to less-secure domain-validated certificates.
- AT IBM, “Co-Location” Means “Get Your Butt Into the Office”
This news item seems to be picking up steam again, I dedicated an entire podcast to the subject a month ago.
IBM has had to tighten its belt in recent years with three rounds of layoffs, and some employees suspect the back-to-the-office campaign aims to further cut the payroll by driving some workers to quit. But Kessler also argues that the move back to the office is more likely a way of prioritizing creativity over raw productivity. Working from home may improve efficiency, but studies also show it can hamper teamwork, water-cooler serendipity, and the speed of innovation.
Photo: Andrew Pons