Supplier Report: 3/25/2017

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.

Artificial Intelligence

  • 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

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IBM Interconnect: Rometty Keynote

IBM released Ginni Rometty’s keynote presentation. It is similar to the HIMSS keynote she gave last month, but there is a heavier focus on quantum computing.

Special guests include:
– Randall Stephenson, CEO, AT&T
– Marc Benioff, CEO,
– Bill Cobb, CEO, H&R Block
– Bruce Ross, Group Head for Technology & Operations, RBC
– Reshma Suajani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code

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SourceCast: Episode 63: The Race to the Bottom

The month of cloud discussion continues. While AWS is the big dog in IaaS right now, does their size make them a target? What does IBM, Oracle, and Google have to do to gain customer’s attention and confidence?

Photo: Skitter Photo

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News You Can Use: 3/22/2017

  • How to Keep Kids, Pets, and Other Interruptions From Derailing Your Skype Meetings

    1. Take responsibility for what happened. Don’t pawn it off on other people.
    2. Explain why it happened as gracefully as you can. People find comfort in the “why” of things.
    3. Don’t make it a bigger deal than it is. Your reaction can make it more embarrassing than it already is.

  • How to Use Pocket Casts To Wrangle Your Horrible Podcast Addiction

    I know many visitors on the site listen to the podcast right in the browser, but if you want to take SourceCast with you on the go, and listen to other, much better content, use Pocket Casts – this is the Podcast app I personally use to keep up with the multitude of podcasts I follow.

  • Report: Why Merck turned to supply chain integration to save costs

    Many companies operate, for example, on an established safety stock or production level because that’s the way it has always been done. When it comes to contracting with suppliers and external manufacturers, changes in scale must be justified… a lack of data makes that process difficult.

    The case study suggests Merck & Co. realized this was a problem, and sought to integrate its systems into a single platform capable of both supply and demand planning. The change allowed the company global visibility for all of its finished goods, and segmentation of goods to better determine when exceptions are necessary, for example.

  • The Science of Style and Fashion for Entrepreneurs with Antonio Centeno

    Antonio Centeno of Real Men Real Style grew up in a trailer park, and that experience made him realize just how a person’s clothes can determine your expectations for them. You’d be more wary of trusting a doctor wearing a tye-dye shirt than one wearing a lab coat, and you’d be less likely to answer the door for a cable repair man who didn’t wear a uniform.

    The host is somewhat annoying, but interesting information…

  • Maturity is the key to effective analytics

    Many supply chain professionals report that their organizations have increased their investment in analytics over the last three years, according to a recent APQC survey. This survey looked at the analytics practices of organizations, as well as the structure of these efforts. APQC surveyed supply chain professionals from a variety of organization sizes and regions and from 36 industries. APQC’s analysis found that organizations have several areas of focus for their supply chain analytics efforts, and that most organizations have a formal analytics structure. However, the payoff of these efforts may not be at the level organizations would expect.

Photo: Caroline Hernandez

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Supplier Report: 3/18/2017

Oracle had a big week with their stock rallying thanks to cloud growth driven by the acquisition of NetSuite. This put Mr. Ellison in a bragging mood which led to some shots against Microsoft and Amazon (both companies are currently beating Oracle in cloud revenue and customers).

On the topic of Microsoft, there are rumors that they may purchase Citrix. Citrix quietly put word to the market that they would entertain a sale.  There is some logic to Microsoft owning Citrix, but is the price right?

IBM is looking to stay on President Trump’s good side by committing to hire 2000 veterans over the next 4 years, but do the vets want to work for big blue?


  • Could and should Microsoft buy Citrix?

    Bloomberg, citing anonymous sources, reported on March 13 that Citrix is working with Goldman Sachs to seek potential suitors for the company.

    Microsoft and Citrix have worked closely for years on remote desktop services. The pair have been working on delivering the promised Windows 10 desktop on Azure offering, as well as a replacement for Microsoft’s Azure RemoteApp.

    There have been many industry watchers who’ve been advocating for and expecting Microsoft to buy Citrix for nearly a decade, if not longer.

  • Intel buys Mobileye in $15.3B deal, moves its automotive unit to Israel

    Specifically, “Under the terms of the agreement, a subsidiary of Intel will commence a tender offer to acquire all of the issued and outstanding ordinary shares of Mobileye for $63.54 per share in cash, representing a fully-diluted equity value of approximately $15.3 billion and an enterprise value of $14.7 billion,” the company noted in a statement. The deal is expected to close in about nine months, Intel said.

    Mobileye today covers a range of technology and services, including sensor fusion, mapping, front- and rear-facing camera tech and, beginning in 2018, crowdsourcing data for high-definition maps, as well as driving policy intelligence underlying driving decisions. This deal will bring under Intel’s umbrella not only a much bigger range of the different pieces that go into autonomous driving systems, but also a number of relationships with automakers. In the call today, Mobileye’s CTO and co-founder Amnon Shashua said the company is working with 27 car manufacturers, including 10 production programs with Audi, BMW and others going into 2017.

Artificial Intelligence

  • Microsoft Applies AI in the Healthcare Industry to Realize Care Anywhere

    As the aging population, has become more active in the society, Microsoft Taiwan has also devoted itself to developing a more comprehensive medical ecosystem. With the aid of technology such as AI, natural speech, and robots, time spent on waiting to receive medical care, diagnosis, prescribing, and applying for healthcare coverage is decreased and the processes are optimized. These types of technology can effective assist medical personnel in monitoring the patient’s condition after appointments, which leads to more effective home healthcare, a decrease in the number of hospital visits or examinations, and an overall reduction in wasted medical resources. Furthermore, patients are able to enjoy remote healthcare in the comfort of their homes. For both service providers and users of the healthcare system, the application of new technologies paves the way to achieving equal and efficient medical resource allocation.”


  • Amazon Chime – Did AWS Buy the Wrong Company?

    So, how is AWS being disruptive? It’s not the offering — a Brady Bunch-style format for viewing who’s on a call is not at all cutting edge. Amazon Chime is perfectly fine for small-scale, cloud-based meetings, but doesn’t have enough differentiation or hooks to seriously challenge the established enterprise players. Rather, what’s disruptive is AWS’s go-to-market strategy. Cloud lowers the barriers to entry, especially when you run a massive public cloud. All AWS has to do is just drop Chime into the market and see what happens.–did-aws-buy-the-wrong-company

  • Cloud computing growth lifts Oracle’s profits, and its shares

    As in previous quarters, Oracle showed particular strength in two cloud categories: online applications known as software as a service, or SaaS, and platform as a service, or PaaS, a collection of technologies for creating and deploying those applications. In those two areas, Oracle’s revenues shot up 73 percent, to $1 billion, the first time they’ve topped that milestone. The growth was likely helped by Oracle’s $9.3 billion NetSuite acquisition last year, since this is the first quarter after the closing of the deal.
    Oracle’s Larry Ellison Belittles Amazon and Microsoft

    On an earnings phone call with analysts, Ellison said that Oracle now has “a huge technology lead” over Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service. Several times, he bragged that Oracle’s revamped cloud computing service is both cheaper and faster than the competition, and that it will eventually become Oracle’s crown jewel.

    The Oracle co-founder is known for his grandiose statements and prodding of his business adversaries. But his comments on Wednesday entirely glossed over the fact that both Amazon and Microsoft’s cloud businesses are growing rapidly—and inconveniently to Oracle, exponentially bigger.


  • Quantum computers are here — but what are they good for?

    Quantum computers can be significantly faster and could eventually replace today’s PCs and servers. Quantum computing is one way to advance computing as today’s systems reach their physical and structural limits.

    Progress has been slow, but researchers are discovering uses for existing quantum computers like D-Wave’s 2000Q, which has 2,000 qubits, and IBM’s 5-qubit systems. Both are based on different technologies, with IBM’s system being complex and more advanced in terms of technology. D-Wave’s quantum annealing system is a more practical and quick way to quantum computing but is much faster than today’s PCs.


  • IBM pledge: Not only does Notes/Domino live, there’s no end in sight

    “Notes/Domino 9.0 shipped in 2013, and IBM’s normal five-year support model meant that mainstream support could have ended in 2018. However, we know how important these products are to your business, and we are continuing to invest in new functionality. For IBM Notes/Domino 9.0, we have announced that product support will be extended through at least 2021, and extended support through at least 2024. There is no end of life planned for Notes and Domino, and we will continue to update the timeline for support as appropriate based on future releases and market requirements.”
    If I walked into a company that is still rocking Lotus for their email (not some archaic forms system), I honestly might just walk right out.

  • Seeking Alpha recommends avoiding Workday

    If you follow the enterprise software space, you’ll notice one thing: Oracle talks much more often about Workday than Salesforce. The reason is simple–the size of the prize is much bigger for ERP cloud applications, where WDAY competes and Salesforce doesn’t. IDC estimates that the ERP and HCM markets are almost 4x larger than the sales and service segments of enterprise software (and Salesforce currently controls the sales and service segments). Our worry is that Oracle is way ahead of the game in the ERP segment relative to Workday. Oracle has rewritten all of its ERP applications for the cloud. It did the same for its HCM and Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) applications, which are all now a part of its integrated SaaS suite. WDAY started with HCM, and it now offers some elements of ERP in the cloud, such as financial and payroll applications, though it doesn’t offer manufacturing or supply chain. And with the acquisition of NetSuite, Oracle is much more able to effectively address the SMB market segment.


Photo: Evan Kirby

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