Category Archives: Supplier Report

Supplier Report: 11/17/2017

Oracle is trying to make it harder for Chinese firms to purchase U.S. companies by supporting bills that expands the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment.  Meanwhile the rumors of Amazon’s Chinese exit have been greatly exaggerated… the company had to sell off certain assets to comply with Chinese law.

Mashable is about to be purchased by Ziff Davis, leaving some to ponder the viability of digital media.

The viability of the Oath (formerly Yahoo and AOL) is in question with reports of over 500 employees being laid off (4% of their workforce).

Acquisitions

  • Mashable Agrees to Sell to Ziff Davis for Around $50 Million

    The price is approximately one-fifth of the company’s $250 million valuation based on its last investment round in March 2016.

    It is a troubling sign for the broader outlook for digital publishers, particularly those that have embraced the “pivot to video” strategy in an effort to lure more lucrative video ad sales.

    Bloomberg earlier reported that Mashable was close to an agreement to sell to Ziff Davis. Ziff Davis is a subsidiary of J2 Global Inc. and owns brands such as PCMag, IGN, Everyday Health and Offers.com.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/mashable-agrees-to-sell-to-ziff-davis-for-around-50-million-1510863283

Artificial Intelligence

  • Oracle’s Mark Hurd: When companies claim they’re in A.I., ‘most of the time it’s just nonsense’

    Most of the time, when companies claim they’re in the business of artificial intelligence, “it’s just nonsense,” Oracle CEO Mark Hurd said Tuesday.

    “Everybody in [Silicon] Valley’s saying they’re in AI,” Hurd told CNBC’s Jon Fortt during an NYSE Fireside Chat.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/14/oracles-mark-hurd-when-companies-claim-theyre-in-ai-most-of-the-time-its-just-nonsense.html

  • A mirror exposes AI’s inherent flaws in ‘Untrained Eyes’

    Kaino and Williams wanted to reveal how something as seemingly innocuous as a Google search can expose algorithmic bias. Kaino points out that searching for “man” on Google Images surfaces page after page of white men in business suits, looking confidently into the camera, while a search for “woman” brings up a grid of white women in various stages of undress. Untrained Eyes sheds a light on issues of representation, forcing the viewer to confront how a computer, and by extension, an unknown programmer, sees them.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/09/untrained-eyes-engadget-experience/

Cloud

  • Amazon Web Services denies reports of China exit, confirms some asset sales

    No, AWS did not sell its business in China and remains fully committed to ensuring Chinese customers continue to receive AWS’s industry leading cloud services. Chinese law forbids non-Chinese companies from owning or operating certain technology for the provision of cloud services. As a result, in order to comply with Chinese law, AWS sold certain physical infrastructure assets to Sinnet, its longtime Chinese partner and AWS seller-of-record for its AWS China (Beijing) Region. AWS continues to own the intellectual property for AWS Services worldwide. ‎We’re excited about the significant business we have in China and its growth potential over the next number of years.

    https://www.geekwire.com/2017/reports-amazon-web-services-exiting-china-selling-local-partner-300m-deal/

  • Companies will waste over $10 billion in cloud spending in the next year

    “Cloud providers claim they are getting better at helping companies save some of their cloud spending. For example, AWS recently claimed it saved AWS users $500 million by alerting customers when they are overpaying,” says Kim Weins, VP of cloud cost strategy at RightScale. “Unfortunately, this is just a drop in the bucket. RightScale has seen that companies waste, on average, 35 percent of their cloud spend. This equates to $6.4 billion in annualized wasted cost for AWS alone. For the top three public cloud providers (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform), this represents annualized waste of $10 billion.”

    RightScale points out some ways in which enterprises can control their cloud costs. Forty percent of instances are sized larger than is required for the workload and could be resized — and therefore made cheaper — without impacting performance of the application. Each oversized instance is wasting 50-75 percent, resulting in 11-16 percent of all cloud spend being wasted.

    https://betanews.com/2017/11/13/company-cloud-waste/

  • IBM makes 20 qubit quantum computing machine available as a cloud service

    IBM has been offering quantum computing as a cloud service since last year when it came out with a 5 qubit version of the advanced computers. Today, the company announced that it’s releasing 20-qubit quantum computers, quite a leap in just 18 months. A qubit is a single unit of quantum information.

    The company also announced that IBM researchers had successfully built a 50 qubit prototype, which is the next milestone for quantum computing, but it’s unclear when we will see this commercially available.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/10/ibm-passes-major-milestone-with-20-and-50-qubit-quantum-computers-as-a-service/?ncid=rss
    Satya Nadella’s book mentions the increase in qubits as an important milestone for AI.

Software/SaaS

  • No Wild West here – Workday’s CEO on customer satisfaction

    In my conversations with Workday customers over the last year, customers have showered the company with praise on the company’s efforts to ensure everything goes to plan. I don’t normally include those remarks in my reports because, for me, it is a check mark for the future rather than an item that contributes to an assessment of the project. But then check what Paul Wright of Accuride said to me recently:

    To answer your specific question I think the customers are ready, willing and able to adopt all the technology coming at them. The questions were solid from the audience around the complexities they have in their business, and there were people in the session from all kinds of verticals. The PMs weren’t stumped by anyone. I heard similar stories from my guys who were in sessions around HR, prism analytics, and PaaS. My team was very impressed by how they constructed the open platform, and can’t wait to play with it, we’ve already got some apps in mind.

    https://diginomica.com/2017/11/16/no-wild-west-workday-customer-satisfaction/

Security

  • Google study shows how your account is most likely to be hijacked

    The tech titan found 788,000 credentials that were stolen via keyloggers, 12 million stolen via phishing and 3.3 billion exposed by third-party breaches within a year of investigating black markets. A total of 12 percent of the exposed records it found used Gmail addresses as a username, and seven percent of those accounts reused the Gmail password for other services, making them more vulnerable than the others.

    Howevever, since Google incorporates safety measures to prevent strangers from logging into your account, the company also saw increasingly sophisticated tools capable of collecting data other than usernames and passwords. Among the phishing tools and keyloggers Google examined, 82 percent and 74 percent, respectively, have the capability collect IP addresses. It also found tools that can collect phone numbers, as well as devices’ make and model. Hijackers can then use those info to authenticate the identities of the accounts they’re stealing.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/11/google-study-hijack/

Other

  • The Oath bloodbath continues: 560 people are being laid off

    More cuts are coming to Oath. The entity that houses Yahoo and AOL is in the process of laying off up to 560 people today following Yahoo’s June acquisition by Verizon. That represents slightly less than 4 percent of Oath’s global employee count of 14,000. Among those people were staffers at Yahoo Finance in the U.K., but the cuts apparently aren’t concentrated in a specific brand or geography.

    Verizon in June completed its $4.48 billion acquisition of Yahoo’s assets, which were combined with AOL brands including the HuffPost (formerly The Huffington Post) under a new subsidiary called Oath. Oath laid off 2,100 of its staff after the deal closed, or 15 percent of the workforce.

    https://digiday.com/media/oath-lays-off-560-verizon-acquisition/

  • Oracle Wants to Make It Tougher for Chinese Firms to Buy U.S. Companies

    The bills, which were introduced last week, would expand the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), allowing it to review smaller investments and add new national security factors, such as exposure of Americans’ Social Security numbers, for CFIUS to consider.

    CFIUS, an inter-agency panel, reviews proposed transactions for national security concerns. CFIUS can recommend that a transaction be prohibited, but only the president can issue an order to stop or suspend a deal.

    http://fortune.com/2017/11/15/oracle-chinese-firms-buy-u-s-companies/

  • Microsoft plans a 75 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030

    By pushing its carbon neutrality plans and renewable energy commitments, the target puts the company on track to meet the goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement, and of course puts a big tick in its corporate social responsibility box.

    75 percent over 15 years is not a hugely ambitious target, especially when you consider that Microsoft has had carbon reduction on its agenda since 2009, and that despite the environmental programs it has in place, it only manages a lackluster score of C- in Greenpeace’s guide to greener electronics (breaking down to a D+ for both energy and resources).

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/14/microsoft-sets-unambitious-but-achievable-carbon-reduction-goal/

  • Foxconn’s Profit Down 39% Amid iPhone Production Woes

    Taiwan-based Foxconn, known formally as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., posted 21 billion New Taiwan dollars (about $695.5 million) in net profit in the three months to September, its statement showed Tuesday. That was lower than the NT$35.6 billion average estimate of analysts polled by the S&P Global Market Intelligence. The 39% decline in profit from the same period a year earlier was Foxconn’s largest drop since 2008, during the global recession, according to data from S&P.

    Apple hasn’t disclosed sales numbers for the iPhone X. The phone made its debut with long lines at Apple stores around the world and shipping delays of five-to-six weeks, showing that the company hadn’t ramped up production enough to meet demand. The delay had shrunk to three to four weeks in the U.S. as of Tuesday afternoon.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/foxconns-profit-down-39-amid-iphone-production-woes-1510666619

Photo: Derek Thomson

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Supplier Report: 11/10/2017

This week is the tech-industry equivalent of a bad romance movie. First Google and SalesForce announce a partnership, and in the same week, SaleForces announces a partnership with Facebook that could negatively impact Google.

T-Mobile and Sprint are definitely (maybe) off again… probably.

Another acquisition that might go sour is the AT&T and Time Warner agreement. Customers don’t love the idea and there is a certain President of the United States that is potentially using his influence to get revenge on CNN (probably not).

AI is getting smart enough to realize it needs to grow on its own.

Acquisitions

  • Broadcom Proposes to Acquire Qualcomm for Over $100 Billion

    The cash-and-stock deal carries a value of roughly $103 billion and includes about $25 billion of debt. In a news release, Broadcom said it valued the deal at $130 billion.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/broadcom-proposes-to-acquire-qualcomm-for-70-per-share-1509971816
    Broadcom offers to acquire Qualcomm for $70 per share

    Specifically Broadcom is offering to pay $70.00 per Qualcomm share, with $60.00 being in cash and $10.00 per share in Broadcom shares. It’s intending to use debt financing if it gets agreement for the deal.

    Although a Nomura Instinet analyst, cited by Reuters, suggests that a $70 per share offer won’t be sufficient for the proposal to fly.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/06/broadcom-offers-to-acquire-qualcomm-for-70-per-share/?ncid=rss

  • Proofpoint acquires Cloudmark for $110M in cybersecurity consolidation play

    As malicious groups continue to become more sophisticated in their hacking techniques, cybersecurity efforts are attempting to expand in their reach, and that is leading to some consolidation in the field. Today, cybersecurity firm Proofpoint — which provides SaaS products to protect businesses’ email, social media and other services — announced that it would pay $110 million to acquire Cloudmark, another firm that provides security protection for messaging services, focusing specifically on serving the ISP and mobile carrier markets.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/07/proofpoint-acquires-cloudmark-for-100m-in-cybersecurity-consolidation-play/?ncid=rss

  • Sprint and T-Mobile Call Off Merger

    The decision came after Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Tim Höttges, CEO of T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom AG, met for dinner at Mr. Son’s house in Tokyo to try to reach a final agreement, a person familiar with the matter said.

    In a joint statement, the companies said they couldn’t settle on mutually agreeable terms. They didn’t go into specifics.

    Instead of a merger, Sprint parent company SoftBank Group Corp. plans to buy shares of Sprint on the open market. SoftBank’s stake is around 80%, and it intends to keep its stake below an 85% threshold that would trigger a tender offer.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/sprint-and-t-mobile-calling-off-merger-1509818355

  • Continental buys Israeli co Argus Cyber Security

    Continental said that Argus would now become part of Elektrobit and would continue to engage in commercial relations with all automotive suppliers globally.

    The purchase price was not disclosed though Israeli media reported earlier this week that Continental would pay about $400 million (£305.4 million) for Argus.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-argus-m-a-continental/germanys-continental-buys-israeli-auto-cyber-firm-argus-idUSKBN1D31DR

  • Marvell Technology Group in Advanced Talks to Combine With Cavium

    Marvell is based in Bermuda but run from Santa Clara, Calif. Its chips are used primarily in storage devices, printers and wireless products, and can be found in cars. The company had long been run by husband-and-wife co-founders Sehat Sutardja, who was chairman and chief executive, and Weili Dai, who was president.

    Last year, activist investor Starboard Value LP took a 6.7% stake in Marvell and pushed for the company to cut costs and consider exiting its mobile-devices business. Marvell initiated a restructuring that would eliminate around 900 employees, or approximately 16% of its workforce. It also hired a new CEO to run the company.

    Cavium, based in San Jose, Calif., makes products that are used for networking, data-center and wireless applications.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/marvell-technology-group-in-advanced-talks-to-combine-with-cavium-1509744822

  • The merger between AT&T and Time Warner is a raw deal for the rest of us

    A combined AT&T-Time Warner could pass along the massive acquisition costs, which include billions of dollars in Time Warner debt, to consumers, just as AT&T did after acquiring DirecTV. Even if you subscribe to a different service for cable or satellite TV, you could wind up paying more, because AT&T could raise the prices it charges competitors for HBO, CNN, and other highly desirable Time Warner programming.

    Meanwhile, AT&T-Time Warner would have every incentive to favor its own content over that of others, meaning that AT&T users might not have access to the programming they want – like the competing content of Netflix and Hulu – on the same terms. Because of AT&T’s large footprint in the wireless internet market, their acquisition of a massive content provider poses a serious threat to net neutrality.

    And that’s not all. Should regulators sign off on this deal, it could have enormous long-term implications for the media landscape, as other major industry players — of which there are fewer and fewer — will increasingly argue that greater scale or their own vertical deal is necessary in order to compete with the behemoths of AT&T and Comcast.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/07/the-merger-between-att-and-time-warner-is-a-raw-deal-for-the-rest-of-us/?ncid=rss

Artificial Intelligence

  • A.I. Researchers Leave Elon Musk Lab to Begin Robotics Start-Up

    Their start-up, Embodied Intelligence, is backed by $7 million in funding from the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Amplify Partners and other investors. The company will specialize in complex algorithms that allow machines to learn tasks on their own. Using these methods, existing robots could learn to, for example, install car parts that aren’t quite like the parts they have installed in the past, sort through a bucket of random holiday gifts as they arrive at a warehouse, or perform other tasks that machines traditionally could not.

    “We now have teachable robots,” Mr. Abbeel said during a recent interview at the new company’s offices in Emeryville, Calif., just across the bay from San Francisco.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/06/technology/artificial-intelligence-start-up.html

  • To keep up with demand, AI may have to build itself

    While companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft can throw money at the problem and pay “millions of dollars a year to A.I. experts,” per the Times, other companies are taking matters into their own hands and developing tools and neural networks to help companies build their own AI software. That’s where technologies like Google’s new AutoML come in. It hopes to automate the AI-building process by outsourcing it to AI itself. Per the Times: “Google said AutoML could now build algorithms that, in some cases, identified objects in photos more accurately than services built solely by human experts.”

    It’s not just algorithms either, but AI is getting really good at teaching itself skills like speech recognition, machine translation, and all sorts of other things thanks to a process that experts call “learning to learn,” or “meta-learning.”

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40492277/to-keep-up-with-demand-ai-may-have-to-build-itself

Cloud

  • Google and Salesforce Ink Cloud, Apps Deal

    The deal, slated to be announced Monday at the start of Salesforce’s Dreamforce customer conference in San Francisco, comes a year and a half after the cloud-based business software vendor said it would move some computing operations to data centers run by the market leader, Amazon Web Services. Salesforce also operates its own data centers.

    World-wide revenue for the business of providing cloud infrastructure—that is, computing processing and storage service—hit $22.2 billion last year, and is expected to climb to $67 billion by 2020, according to industry research firm Gartner Inc.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-and-salesforce-ink-cloud-apps-deal-1510002301
    What about the AWS deal?

    It’s unclear exactly how using Google Cloud Platform fits into Salesforce’s overall infrastructure and global expansion plan. Salesforce is already using Amazon Web Services’ infrastructure to power a couple of its international cloud regions, and doesn’t have plans to move away from that investment. AWS will remain a “preferred” cloud provider for Salesforce, as it was when the two companies announced their partnership almost a year and a half ago.

    https://venturebeat.com/2017/11/06/google-and-salesforce-sign-massive-strategic-partnership/

    Facebook and Salesforce are teaming up against Microsoft Office and Google

    The cloud-software provider and the social networking giant are expected to announce Tuesday that they are enhancing the integration of Salesforce’s Quip productivity app with Facebook’s Workplace, which is a version of the company’s social network that was designed specifically for businesses. The collaboration is designed to make it easier to share Quip documents in Workplace and see there a list of all documents shared.

    The partnership could help the two companies better compete with Microsoft’s Office and Google’s G Suite.

    But the deal could have other benefits. The partnership will give both Salesforce and Facebook a way in with each other’s customers.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/salesforce-quip-partners-with-workplace-by-facebook-2017-11

  • Microsoft, Oracle, IBM are said to alter pay to push cloud sales

    Previously, Microsoft had been bundling cloud services, such as Azure for storing and running data and cloud applications, with many of its multiyear deals. Althoff said the shift in pay incentives is a significant change.

    “We did have ill-informed behaviours,” he said. “We tried to sell Azure the same way we tried to sell everything else at Microsoft, which is adding it into our enterprise agreement. People were like ‘Do you want fries with that? Do you want Azure with that?’ That didn’t drive any meaningful work.”

    Also:

    IBM has been emphasising selling cloud infrastructure services and software and tools geared toward specific business processes and industries such as health care and finance. Oracle has been turning its focus to the cloud as well and investing in staff. The company said in August it was adding more than 5,000 people, including in sales, for its cloud business – following other related hires earlier in the year in the US.

    https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2017/11/03/microsoft-oracle-ibm-are-said-to-alter-pay-to-push-cloud-sales/

Datacenter

  • New IBM platform turns your data center into a cloud

    IBM Cloud Private takes middleware and other legacy applications, places them inside Kubernetes containers and transforms them into contemporary applications using Kubernetes container orchestration. The software itself is already containerized, including IBM tools and most major open source databases.

    Cloud Private also provides tools and APIs to connect cloud services like Salesforce with a company’s on-premises data center and share data from the cloud services with those legacy applications.

    https://www.networkworld.com/article/3236245/private-cloud/new-ibm-platform-turns-your-data-center-into-a-cloud.html

Security

  • Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer Subpoenaed to Testify Before Senate, Says Report

    Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has reportedly been subpoenaed to testify to the Senate Commerce Committee about the massive cyber hack that compromised 3 billion accounts. The U.S. has charged four alleged Russian spies with the breach, which is now being investigated by the government for insight into Russia’s cyber espionage activities.

    Issued Oct. 25, according to a report by The Hill, Mayer’s subpoena reportedly came after the former Google employee and Yahoo chief executive declined multiple invitations to appear before the committee voluntarily. Since being served, she has agreed to testify willingly, says The Hill, though she has also reportedly asked for the court order to be lifted. A Mayer representative has refuted these events, The Hill reports.

    http://fortune.com/2017/11/07/yahoo-marissa-mayer-subpoena-testify-senate/

  • New tools help could help prevent Amazon S3 data leaks

    Today, AWS announced a new set of five tools designed to protect customers from themselves and ensure (to the extent possible) that the data in S3 is encrypted and safe.

    For starters, the company is giving the option of default encryption. That means every object that gets moved into an S3 bucket will have encryption on by default. What’s more, this will happen without admins having to construct a rejected bucket for unencrypted files. It’s not exactly foolproof, but it gives admins a good solid way to ensure the data is always encrypted in a much smoother way than before.

    If that’s not enough, Amazon is putting a signal front and center on the administrative console that warns admins with a prominent indicator next to each S3 bucket that has been left open to the public. If something slips through the cracks at the end user level, this should at least give admins an additional level of protection that something is amiss.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/07/new-tools-help-could-help-prevent-amazon-s3-data-leaks/

  • Equifax CEO to Congress: Not Sure We Are Encrypting Data

    But Mr. Barros stumbled when asked by Sen. Cory Gardner (R., Colo) whether Equifax was now encrypting the consumer data it stored on its computers—a basic step in hiding sensitive information from hackers, and one the company previously had admitted it didn’t take before the breach.

    “I don’t know at this stage,” Mr. Barros said.

    The answer was disappointing, said Avivah Litan, an analyst with the research firm Gartner Inc. “He should have asked his staff that the day he took over,” she said.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/equifax-ceo-to-congress-not-sure-we-are-encrypting-data-1510180486

Other

  • Salesforce CEO dismisses Microsoft as a competitor

    You know, look. They’re 1 percent of the CRM market. You know the numbers. I like having competitors. But what I just get blown away with is how they just can’t keep, you know, that management team in place. They just keep leaving Microsoft. You know that. And I think they don’t have confidence in that ability to execute in that business. So that has weighed to our favor, and customers feel that.

    You know because you go to these conferences just like I do. There is no conference like this that they do and that’s the — in my opinion, the mark. That is — why is it that they don’t have anything like this? That when they put on a conference like something — it’s always the resellers who come together, and then — where are these people? Now, that isn’t to say they don’t have, like, Build, where they get these really high-end developers using the IDE. You know what I mean? Is that the conference I’ve been to where I’m like, Oh, yeah, these are all the — and they’re all Windows — they have a Windows fever. And they have Windows API fever at the conference. But I haven’t seen that in any other part of their business, other than the Windows API. Maybe they’ll get it in Azure — I don’t know. But I haven’t seen that yet. Because the last time that I went to the conference, I didn’t see that. I only see that fever around the Windows API. And the Surface laptop.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/08/salesforce-ceo-dismisses-microsoft-as-a-competitor.html

  • IBM’s Ginni Rometty: Comfort and growth will never co-exist

    Today, IBM has 10,000 staff working with clients on design thinking and 1200 doing work internally. “That started us on the journey of getting to that business-to-person approach,” she said.

    To answer the question of whether IBM could be big as well as fast, the business commenced on an agile journey where small multidisciplinary teams work to produce a minimum viable product and iterate.

    “What I realised is that our employees can’t work faster unless we changed the way they work,” Rometty said. Today, 200,000 employees are doing agile, a change that led to 170 building renovations globally, and a rethink of appraisal systems.

    https://www.cmo.com.au/article/629768/ibm-ginni-rometty-comfort-growth-can-never-co-exist/

Photo: Jon Asato

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Supplier Report: 11/3/2017

Masayoshi Son and John Legere are still playing this whole “will they or won’t they” merger game with TMobile and Sprint. Earlier this week it was off and now parties are coming back to the table.

Amazon also had some drama this week due to news breaking that a British public servant may have influenced the decision to purchase AWS services before taking a lucrative job with the company.

HPE is leaving their historic offices in Palo Alto and downsizing to an Aruba office in Santa Clara.  HP, who once employed over 100,000 employees in the area, has reduced staff to approximately 45,000 globally due to restructuring and asset sell-offs.

Acquisitions

  • Sprint owner SoftBank may be calling off T-Mobile merger

    According to Nikkei, SoftBank and T-Mobile’s owner Deutsche Telekom had reached a broad agreement to integrate the two major US carriers, but couldn’t work out an ownership ratio that satisfied both companies.

    Nikkei’s sources indicate that SoftBank board members decided to call the talks off on Monday, after a Friday meeting where executives determined “the company would not give up control.” SoftBank is reportedly expected to propose to Deutsche Telekom on Tuesday that they end negotiations.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/30/sprint-owner-softbank-may-be-calling-off-t-mobile-merger/
    Update: T-Mobile, Sprint Working to Salvage Merger

    T-Mobile made a revised offer, which Sprint is considering, some of the people said. Terms of the new offer were unclear. The two sides could reach a deal within weeks, the people said, but the two companies could still fail to agree on deal terms.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/t-mobile-sprint-working-to-salvage-merger-1509658235

Artificial Intelligence

  • IBM Watson digs deep on data to pave the way for enterprise AI apps

    By 2018, nearly 75% of developers will build AI functionality into their apps, according to an IDC report. However, this requires wading through increasingly complex data that lives in different places, and must be continually and securely ingested, according to an IBM press release.

    In response to this challenge, Watson will now include data cataloging and data refining, to improve data visibility and better enforce data security policies so that users can more easily share information across public and private cloud environments.

    In addition to the Watson news, IBM also announced plans to extend its Unified Governance Platform with new capabilities, to help companies prepare for increasing governance and regulatory requirements, such as GDPR. They include the ability to have a single view of the Unified Governance Catalog for both structured and unstructured information. It also modified the look of its Datastage Designer with a cognitive design that can recognize and suggest usage patterns, to speed the development of data integration flows.

    https://www.techrepublic.com/article/ibm-watson-digs-deep-on-data-to-pave-the-way-for-enterprise-ai-apps/

Cloud

  • IBM kills Bluemix, a year after killing SoftLayer

    On Tuesday this week the company changed it again, announcing that “Bluemix is now IBM Cloud”.

    The company’s rationale is that “we are merging the Bluemix brand with IBM Cloud brand since they’ve grown to be synonymous.”

    Everything IBM does in the cloud comes under the new brand: Watson, PaaS, SaaS – the works.

    There’s not much more to the change than branding: the company promises all the stuff currently labelled “Bluemix” will keep running.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/02/ibm_renames_bluemix_ibm_cloud/

  • Protecting our Google Docs and Drive Users

    On Tuesday, October 31, we mistakenly blocked access to some of our users’ files, including Google Docs. This was due to a short-lived bug that incorrectly flagged some files as violating our terms of service (TOS). The blocking raised questions in the community and we would like to address those questions here.

    Tuesday’s bug caused the Google Docs and Drive services to misinterpret the response from these protection systems and erroneously mark some files as TOS violations, thus causing access denials for users of those files. As soon as our teams identified the problem, we removed the bug and worked to restore access to all affected files.

    https://www.blog.google/products/docs/protecting-our-google-docs-and-drive-users/

  • Microsoft, Oracle, IBM look to lure cloud services customers with new pay structure

    Traditionally, companies would ink large software deals based on factors such as the number of a customer’s devices – and not actual subsequent use of the products.The cloud business is a crucial growth area for the traditional enterprise technology pioneers, battling against rivals Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google. The public cloud services global market is likely to increase more than 18 percent to $260.2 billion this year and almost double to $411 billion in 2020, according to Gartner Inc Microsoft, for example, said last week it had generated $20.4 billion in commercial cloud revenue on an annualized basis.

    Tying usage to sales incentives should help keep customers on board when it’s time to agree to a new contract, said Stephen White, an analyst with Gartner. “The behaviors of the salespeople need to be more in tune with what a customer actually is going to need and use,” White said. “It certainly makes the renewal discussion easier.”Oracle and IBM declined to comment. Previously, Microsoft had been bundling cloud services, such as Azure for storing and running data and cloud applications, with many of its multiyear deals. Althoff said the shift in pay incentives is a significant change.

    http://indianexpress.com/article/technology/microsoft-oracle-ibm-look-to-enhance-cloud-services-customers-with-new-pay-structure-4919296/

Datacenter

  • Microsoft Turns up the Heat on Oracle, Amazon, and IBM Databases

    While transitioning database platforms is still a significant task to undertake and the cost can still be high even if the tool is free, Microsoft knows that as companies look to move away from on-premises to cloud services, that’s a natural time to consider migrating. By offering this tool now, as more companies work to plan out the future (or lack of future) for their own local metal, the offer may entice some to leave their old db tech behind.

    Microsoft has become much more aggressive in this space in the past few years as the company looks to position its technology, both software and hardware (Azure) ahead of legacy competitors like Oracle and IBM. The reason for this is that they are trying to catch up to the next generation of service providers, like Amazon, and by using their own tools and tech as a leverage, it’s fostering the growth of Azure.

    https://www.petri.com/microsoft-turns-heat-oracle-amazon-ibm-databases

  • HPE to move HQ from Palo Alto to Santa Clara as it consolidates Silicon Valley footprint

    After two years of massive restructuring and staff reductions, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is selling its headquarters on land it has owned in Palo Alto, California since 1957, the company announced on Thursday.

    The headquarters will move to nearby Santa Clara, at a new 23,000 square-foot office complex originally built to house Aruba, a company acquired by HPE in 2015. Some of the staff will also move to existing offices in San Jose and Milpitas.

    HPE wouldn’t disclose how many people work in Silicon Valley, but the company has around 45,000 employees globally.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/hpe-selling-palo-alto-headquarters-move-santa-clara-2017-11

    Make sure you update those purchase orders!

Other

  • The continuous flow of execs between AWS, Microsoft, IBM and government

    According to a report in the Times today, the Home Office’s former chief digital officer, Norman Driskell, took a job with Amazon Web Services (AWS) without gaining the necessary approvals first – a trend that has been highlighted by the National Audit Office in recent months as a concern.

    Driskell oversaw multimillion pound contracts with AWS during his time at the Home Office and has also set up one of Europe’s largest AWS user groups in his spare time, before taking up the job as a public sector lead with the cloud hosting giant.

    https://diginomica.com/2017/10/30/continuing-flow-execs-aws-microsoft-ibm-government/
    A senior civil servant with a £130,000 salary reportedly breached transparency rules when he quit and joined Amazon

    The Home Office reportedly paid the US firm £1.2 million in the 18 months prior to Driskell’s departure, which happened in November 2016. In February 2017, just three months later, the Home Office awarded AWS a two-year contract worth £4.8 million, according to The Times.

    Under the new contract, the Home Office will reportedly move immigration data from a remote provider to an “in-house AWS solution.”

    http://www.businessinsider.com/chief-digital-officer-ignored-rules-quit-government-joined-amazozn-2017-10

  • IBM Elects Two New Members to Its Board of Directors

    Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer, said: “Joe Swedish and Rick Waddell are distinguished leaders in their fields, and we are delighted to add their insights and leadership to the IBM board. Mr. Swedish brings experience as a transformational leader in health care in both the payer and provider space, and Mr. Waddell’s experience enhances the strong financial services expertise on the board. Their perspectives on contemporary business issues and their experience running data-intensive enterprises will be an asset to IBM and to our shareholders.”

    http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171031005218/en/Intnl-Bus.-Mach-UK-Regulatory-Announcement-IBM

  • SoftBank, Facebook, and Amazon commit to 8,700-mile transpacific subsea cable system

    Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank is joining forces with Facebook, Amazon, and a number of other technology companies to build a new 14,000 km (8,700 mile) transpacific subsea cable connecting Asia with North America.

    The Jupiter cable system will have two landing points in Japan — at Shima in the Mie prefecture and at Maruyama in the Chiba prefecture — as well as one at Daet in the Philippines and one near Los Angeles in the U.S.

    https://venturebeat.com/2017/10/30/softbank-facebook-and-amazon-commit-to-8700-mile-transpacific-internet-cable/

  • Amazon’s HQ2 could go to Washington D.C., where it has over 500 job openings, says analyst

    While it remains unclear what city Amazon will pick, analysts at Baird Equity Research believe Washington D.C. has one major edge over others: current number of job openings.

    As of last Friday, Washington D.C. had 531 corporate jobs available, the most after Seattle and the San Francisco-Bay Area. If you exclude West Coast cities, and use current job openings density as an important measure for Amazon’s HQ2 criteria, Washington D.C. would be a front-runner to win the bid, Baird Equity Research wrote in a note Monday.

    “We view this as relevant to the HQ2 search, as Amazon might prioritize locations based on already having a sizable non-fulfillment workforce,” the note said.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/30/amazon-hq2-washington-dc-possible-given-job-openings.html

  • Just Think: What Amazon Could Do to the Pharmacy Business

    Noticing that an Amazon customer seems to be taking an awful lot of medication to lose weight, the company might pitch fitness machines or online yoga classes. But it could also provide entertainment suggestions—free with that Prime account—that would go nicely with the state of your health. If Amazon can tell from all that Xanax you’re ordering that you seem to be having a hard time, it might recommend video offerings like “Love, Actually” or “8 Hours: Ocean Lights & Whale Songs.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/just-think-what-amazon-could-do-to-the-pharmacy-business-1509639035

Photo: Joey Kyber

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Supplier Report: 10/27/2017

Cisco is all over the news this week: they spent at least $2B on two companies (terms were not disclosed on the Perspica deal) and they entered into a partnership with Google on cloud and network services.

Companies looking to expand their AI programs are finding an unexpected barrier… a complete lack of available talent.  Due to this shortage, those people in the AI field are commanding massive salaries.

Softbank is advancing their goal of buying all the things.

Acquisitions

  • WeWork acquires Flatiron School

    Flatiron School is a coding education platform that offers both online and offline classes to folks who want a career in the world of tech. The coding academy was launched in 2012 and has raised more than $14 million since inception, according to Crunchbase.

    The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/23/wework-acquires-flatiron-school/?ncid=rss

  • Cisco snaps up streaming-data startup Perspica (terms not disclosed)

    One of the reasons it was attracted to Perspica is because of the company’s ability to monitor data in real-time, Cisco says. Being able to process data as it’s created or very soon afterwards can speed the time that end users are able to gain insights from the data, the company says. “Perspica is known for its stream-based processing with the unique ability to apply machine learning to data as it comes in instead of waiting until it’s neatly stored,” says Bhaskar Sunkara, VP of Engineering at AppDynamics.

    https://www.networkworld.com/article/3234329/lan-wan/cisco-snaps-up-streaming-data-startup-perspica.html

  • Cisco scoops up BroadSoft for $1.9 billion to boost communications tools portfolioa

    The purchase gives Cisco a new way to sell its communications tools as it shifts its focus from a pure networking hardware company to one focused on software and services delivered in the cloud. Today’s announcement comes on the heels of an announcement last week that it intended to purchase Perspica and fold the engineering team into AppDynamics, a company it purchased earlier this year for $3.7 billion. If you’re thinking, this is an acquisitive company, you’re right. It just purchased its 200th company.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/23/cisco-scoops-up-broadsoft-for-1-9-billion-to-boost-communications-tools-portfolio/?ncid=rss

  • When $100BN is not enough… Softbank is planning Vision Fund sequels

    In comments to Nikkei, Son did set out his expectations for the funds’ size and likely investment reach over the next decade.

    “We are creating a mechanism to increase our funding ability from 10 trillion yen to 20 trillion yen to 100 trillion yen,” he said, adding that, all told, the funds “will probably have invested in at least 1,000 companies within 10 years”.

    According to Nikkei, all the Vision Funds are expected to chiefly target unicorns — aka tech startups that haven’t gone public yet but have an estimated valuation above $1BN.

    The average scale of investment by the funds is likely to reach about $888 million, it said.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/20/when-100bn-is-not-enough-softbank-is-planning-vision-fund-sequels/?ncid=rss

Artificial Intelligence

  • Tech Giants Are Paying Huge Salaries for Scarce A.I. Talent

    Tech’s biggest companies are placing huge bets on artificial intelligence, banking on things ranging from face-scanning smartphones and conversational coffee-table gadgets to computerized health care and autonomous vehicles. As they chase this future, they are doling out salaries that are startling even in an industry that has never been shy about lavishing a fortune on its top talent.

    Typical A.I. specialists, including both Ph.D.s fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock, according to nine people who work for major tech companies or have entertained job offers from them. All of them requested anonymity because they did not want to damage their professional prospects.

    Well-known names in the A.I. field have received compensation in salary and shares in a company’s stock that total single- or double-digit millions over a four- or five-year period. And at some point they renew or negotiate a new contract, much like a professional athlete.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/22/technology/artificial-intelligence-experts-salaries.html

Cloud

  • Amazon’s $18 billion cloud business continues to crush Microsoft and Google

    Amazon Web Services reported $4.6 billion in revenue for the quarter. AWS has already brought in $12.3 billion in 2017 so far, with a quarter left to go.

    With sales growing quickly and projected to jump again next quarter, AWS is expected to hit $18 billion in revenue for the full year. As a bonus, it’s already the single most profitable part of Amazon’s business.

    Microsoft doesn’t disclose the revenue it generates from Azure, its product that competes directly with AWS. However, it did say Azure’s sales grew 90% from the same period last year.

    Google Cloud is the biggest cipher of the three, in terms of financial performance. Instead of breaking out the amount of revenue it generates from its cloud business, Google lumps together its cloud sales with the revenue it generates from the Google Play app store and from its hardware business. That combined category posted $3.4 billion in revenue last quarter.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-web-services-is-battling-microsoft-azure-and-google-cloud-2017-10

  • Google and Cisco Strike Cloud Partnership

    Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., is contributing cloud-development expertise and tools that run on the Google Cloud Platform, a suite of services for the cloud including computing, storage, databases and analytics. Cisco is bringing networking, security and infrastructure technologies to the mix. Both companies are using open-source technologies to give customers more flexibility.

    “It really does help companies avoid lock-in,” Cisco Chief Executive Chuck Robbins said in an interview.

    Mr. Robbins is counting on new cloud services to help turn around Cisco by moving further away from its legacy hardware. Cisco’s customers are increasingly using cloud services instead of investing in hardware for their own data centers.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-and-cisco-strike-cloud-partnership-1508932804

Datacenter

  • HPE Is Exiting the Cloud Server Business

    Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is getting out of the cloud server business. That means it will no longer sell low-end “commodity” servers to large cloud computing customers like Microsoft.

    It has proven to be an exceedingly tough business for traditional hardware makers because while they may sell huge volumes of cloud servers, profits are slim to none. The target customers are companies like Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, or Google, each of which can (and do) negotiate huge discounts. Insult to injury, most of these cloud companies go directly to contract manufacturers in Taiwan or China to have servers built to their specifications at low cost. They don’t need or want to pay for name-brand servers

    http://fortune.com/2017/10/19/hpe-cloud-servers/

  • Michael Dell on cloud infrastructure:

    Wow… Mike says Boomerang kind of weird…
  • The heart of “The Cloud” is in Virginia

    This data center is in Loudoun County, Virginia. Buddy Rizer, the county’s head of business development, helped turn Loudoun County into the largest concentration of data centers in the world — 10 million square feet in 70 enormous buildings.

    According to Rizer, 70 percent of all web traffic from the world, on a daily basis, passes through a Loudoun County data center.

    AWS is growing at 40 percent a year, and Loudoun County can’t build data centers fast enough. Buddy Rizer says that seven new ones are under construction right now. A new RagingWire data center will add another two million square feet of data center space.

    And even though it will be nearly two years until construction is completed, the space is already 100 percent leased. “It’s not getting ahead; we’re just barely keeping up,” Rizer said. “There’s no empty space in our data centers. By and large they are all 100% filled.”

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cloud-computing-loudoun-county-virginia/

Software/SaaS

  • SAP earnings fall short on slower cloud and business software growth

    “Overall it was not a good quarter,” said Andrew Bartels, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “The growth was not as strong as in previous quarters,” particularly in North America.

    One culprit was the source of strong growth in previous quarters: its business network group, which includes acquired businesses such as Ariba Inc., Concur Technologies Inc., Fieldglass Inc. and SuccessFactors Inc. Bartels noted that SAP had been depending on that growth to the extent that “success may have bred some complacency” in applications such as Ariba, which is said is “not really best-in-class in its category anymore.” That may have allowed competitors to gain some ground, he said.

    https://siliconangle.com/blog/2017/10/19/sap-earnings-fall-short-slower-cloud-business-software-growth/

  • Tech IPO Trends Worked In Mongo DB’s Favor, But Could Work Against Stitch Fix

    On Oct. 19, MongoDB Inc. (MDB) joined the ranks of fast-growing, money-losing, enterprise software names to see a strong 2017 debut. After pricing its 8 million-share offering at $24 (above an elevated $20 to $22 range), shares opened at $33 and as of the Oct. 20 close are at $30.68, up 28%. That leaves the company valued at $1.85 billion after accounting for outstanding stock options and warrants, or about 15 times trailing sales.

    MongoDB sells on-premise and cloud versions of a popular open-source database under the same name, while leading the community responsible for developing the database. Thanks partly to its popularity among developers, startups and big-name Internet companies, it’s arguably the most popular NoSQL database on the market.

    Also:

    Many other companies, including Cisco, SAP, Verizon, Adobe and Intuit, have embraced MongoDB, which it should be noted is often run on major third-party cloud platforms. The company claimed 4,300 clients as of the end of July, including over half the Fortune 100. With the help of 1,100 customer adds, revenue (mostly from software subscriptions) rose 51% annually to $68 million during the 6 months ending in July. Net loss — the result of big sales and R&D investments — rose fractionally to $45.8 million, or $36.4 million excluding stock expenses.

    https://realmoney.thestreet.com/articles/10/20/2017/tech-ipo-trends-worked-mongo-dbs-favor-could-work-against-stitch-fix

  • Oracle Joins The Blockchain Party

    Oracle’s Blockchain Cloud Service is a new solution that will be included in the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) family of offerings. The service is claimed to be based on a comprehensive distributed ledger platform which will create opportunities for businesses to enhance their processes by several means.

    First of all, the solution will support deploying and running smart contracts. A smart contract is an automated contract which does not require a middleman, and where the terms and conditions are written as a code. This type of technology is being increasingly adopted by the financial sector, especially in securities trading, where smart contracts can cut costs and save time and money. For instance, Bank of America (BAC) revealed earlier this year a new platform based on Etherium for automating the process of creating a standby letter of credit.

    https://seekingalpha.com/article/4115483-oracle-joins-blockchain-party

Security

  • New Ransomware ‘Bad Rabbit’ Spreading Quickly Through Russia and Ukraine

    The malware, dubbed Bad Rabbit, has hit three Russian media outlets, including the news agency Interfax, according to Russian security firm Group-IB. Once it infects a computer, Bad Rabbit displays a message in red letters on a black background, an aesthetic used in the massive NotPetya ransomware outbreak.

    The ransom message asks victims to log into a Tor hidden service website to make the payment of 0.05 Bitcoin, valued at around $282 at the time of writing. The site also displays a countdown of a little bit over 40 hours before the price of decryption goes up.

    A researcher from Proofpoint said that Bad Rabbit spread via a fake Adobe Flash Player installer. Researchers from Kaspersky Lab confirmed this, and added that the malware dropper—the file that launches the malware—was distributed via booby-trapped legitimate sites, “all of which were news or media website.”

    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/59yb4q/bad-rabbit-petya-ransomware-russia-ukraine

  • How I Socially Engineer Myself Into High Security Facilities

    We became best buds. I was given complete and unaccompanied access to the facility where I stayed for several hours.

    I gained network access and stole several thousands of dollars in physical primitives by picking my way through cheap locks (credit to Deviant Ollam for the rad lockpicking animations.)

    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/qv34zb/how-i-socially-engineer-myself-into-high-security-facilities

Other

  • Amazon Says 238 Places Want to Host Its New Headquarters

    Opening a second, equal headquarters is believed by management experts to be an unprecedented move by an American corporation, and it presents unique cultural challenges for the company.

    While Amazon continues to grow in Seattle, experts say it would be difficult for the company to essentially double its footprint there. In addition, hiring thousands more software developers will almost certainly be cheaper and easier in a different city, they say.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-says-238-places-want-to-host-its-new-headquarters-1508772669?mg=prod/accounts-wsj

  • Bitcoin breaks above $6,000, and $100 billion in value for the first time in its history

    The cryptocurrency hit an all-time high of $6,147.07 just a day after pushing through the $6,000 mark, according to data from industry website CoinDesk.

    Much of the rise can be attributed to another upcoming split in bitcoin known as a “fork”. This will lead to the creation of a new cryptocurrency called bitcoin gold. Holders of bitcoin will get some bitcoin gold when it is issued, essentially giving them free money.

    But Alex Sunnarborg, founding partner of cryptocurrency fund Tetras Capital, told CNBC on Friday that bitcoin investors were betting on bitcoin holding its status despite the split. Bitcoin already underwent a fork in August when a new cryptocurrency called bitcoin cash was created. Despite this, bitcoin has continued to perform strongly.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/21/bitcoin-price-6100-new-record-high.html

  • Cortana Gets A Speaker Of Its Own

    Aside from the fact that it works best with Microsoft’s own services and doesn’t support others, Cortana’s biggest limitation is that it can only support one account at this time. Calendar information, reminders, and to-dos will all be pulled from the account the Invoke was set up with, which makes it difficult to use as a shared device for those functions. Both Alexa and Google’s Assistant have added features that attempt to identify the person making the voice request and serve up personalized information to them. And while the Invoke does sound good on its own, it can’t be paired in stereo or be used in a multi-room system, like Google, Amazon, or Sonos speakers can.

    https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/20/16505468/harman-kardon-invoke-cortana-microsoft-smart-speaker-review
    I hate to say it, but I called it.

  • What’s HPE Next? Now it’s unemployment for ‘thousands’ of staff

    The cuts were expected, but still cast a pall over the enterprise IT giant. In June, we revealed the existence of the HPE Next project: a radical three-year plan to overhaul HPE’s processes and investments, and optimize its people and overheads to make itself relevant again.

    And by optimize, it means it will cut or move positions to low-wage places to save the biz a pretty penny. In September, it emerged the axe was being sharpened for 5,000 of its 50,000 workforce, or one in ten.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/10/24/whats_hpe_next_an_unemployment_claim_for_thousands_of_workers_today/

Photo: Nicolas Picard

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Supplier Report: 10/20/2017

Google is getting called out for their acquisition practices. Some politicians and journalist think the company set back AI several years by aqui-hiring key talent in the field and holding them back with their business practices.

The big security news this week is that WiFi, specifically WPA2 protocols, have a vulnerability that can be exploited.  This vulnerability impacts both routers and devices.  Check all of your WiFi enabled devices for updates.

IBM made news this week by stopping the profit bleeding (they didn’t make their numbers, but they beat expectations)… the street rewarded the company with an almost 9% stock value increase.  No sarcasm here… it is nice to see IBM get a win after so many months of reporting bad news.

Acquisitions

  • DXC to Merge US Public Sector Business With Vencore, KeyPoint; Mac Curtis to Lead Combined Firm

    DXC Technology has agreed to merge its U.S. public sector business with Vencore and KeyPoint Government Solutions to establish a “top five” independent, publicly traded contractor within the government information technology services sector.

    All three companies expect to complete the merger by the end of March 2018, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, DXC said Wednesday.

    The combined company is expected to have more than 14,000 employees and generate approximately $4.3 billion in annual revenue with a focus on cybersecurity, big data analytics, systems engineering, enterprise IT and cloud engineering services.

    https://www.govconwire.com/2017/10/dxc-to-merge-us-public-sector-business-with-vencore-keypoint-mac-curtis-to-lead-combined-firm/

  • Infinidat raises $95m, becoming latest Israeli ‘unicorn’

    Last week, Herzliya and Waltham, Massachusetts-based Infinidat announced it had closed a $95 million Series C financing round, led by Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing with participation from existing investor TPG Growth.

    The latest round brings the total raised by the company to $325 million. Infinidat is valued at $1.6 billion, making it the latest Israeli “unicorn” – a private startup with a valuation of $1 billion or more (although the company was claiming a billion-dollar valuation two years ago already).

    https://www.israel21c.org/infinidat-raises-95m-becoming-latest-israeli-unicorn/

Artificial Intelligence

  • Companies Leave Bean Counting to the Robots

    Roberta doesn’t have a last name, a face, or arms. She is the first piece of robotic software to work in the Norwegian company’s treasury department, part of Statoil’s push toward automation, robotics and artificial intelligence, said Mr. Kjøllesdal, acting head of internal treasury.

    Finance executives at companies including Nokia Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Orange SA are developing their own Robertas. Two thirds of large global companies expect to automate some or most of their finance-department tasks over the next two to three years, according to new research by The Hackett Group Inc. Hackett’s report is based on benchmark and performance studies at hundreds of large global companies.

    But finance executives aren’t turning to robots just for savings. Automation can cut error rates by up to 66%, according to the Hackett report. It would also facilitate more analysis and smarter decisions by allowing employees to reduce the time spent on data collection by 24%.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/companies-leave-bean-counting-to-the-robots-1508407203

  • Google pledges $1 billion to prepare workers for automation

    While the initiative’s offerings are for US residents, Google has also pledged $1 billion in grants to non-profits that also aim to help people prepare for the changing nature of work in an increasingly high-tech world. The big G isn’t the only tech giant aiming to prevent massive job losses brought about by automation and technology in general. In Michigan, Facebook also pledged $25.5 million in training the state’s workers for high-tech jobs.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/13/grow-with-google/

  • Google Has Made a Mess of Robotics

    None of the acquired companies have robots in use beyond the offices of Google’s now-parent company, Alphabet Inc. At least three key robotics chiefs who joined in that 2013 wave left the company in the last few months, and, because four years is the typical vesting period for Google stock options, they probably won’t be the last. At this point, Myers says, the exodus counts as a win for robotics, since many of the brightest minds in the field have essentially spent the past few years trapped in a time capsule. Ultimately, Google’s run on roboticists “held the industry back more than moving it forward,” she says. Alexa Dennett, a spokeswoman for Alphabet’s skunk works, X, says its robotics projects will likely take at least five more years to come to market because substantial technological advances take time.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-12/google-has-made-a-mess-of-robotics

Datacenter/Desktop

  • Samsung’s phone-as-desktop concept now runs Linux

    Samsung’s DeX is a clever way to turn your phone into a desktop computer. However, there’s one overriding problem: you probably don’t have a good reason to use it instead of a PC. And Samsung is trying to fix that. It’s unveiling Linux on Galaxy, an app-based offering that (surprise) lets you run Linux distributions on your phone. Ostensibly, it’s aimed at developers who want to bring their work environment with them wherever they go. You could dock at a remote office knowing that your setup will be the same as usual.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/19/samsung-introduces-linux-on-galaxy/

Software/SaaS

  • IBM is using the blockchain to speed up and simplify cross-border payments

    The computing giant has teamed up with blockchain startup Stellar and payment company Kickex to launch a cross-border payment system for banks which uses the blockchain to “reduce the settlement time and lower the cost of completing global payments for businesses and consumers.”

    Currently, international transactions take days, if not weeks, to be completed. Frustration with that has seen services like TransferWise rise, but, great as they are, they remain solutions for savvy consumers or small businesses rather than all.

    A blockchain solution for banks addresses the root cause, and it could minimize the potential for errors thanks to the ledger-based system while also providing transparency and flexibility to banks.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/16/ibm-cross-border-payments-blockchain/?ncid=rss

Security

  • Severe flaw in WPA2 protocol leaves Wi-Fi traffic open to eavesdropping

    The proof-of-concept exploit is called KRACK, short for Key Reinstallation Attacks. The research has been a closely guarded secret for weeks ahead of a coordinated disclosure that’s scheduled for 8am Monday, East Coast time. A website disclosing the vulnerability said it affects the core WPA2 protocol itself and is effective against devices running the Android, Linux, Apple, Windows, and OpenBSD operating systems, as well as MediaTek Linksys, and other types of devices. The site warned attackers can exploit it to decrypt a wealth of sensitive data that’s normally encrypted by the nearly ubiquitous Wi-Fi encryption protocol.

    The site went on to warn that visiting only HTTPS-protected Web pages wasn’t automatically a remedy for the risk.

    “Although websites or apps may use HTTPS as an additional layer of protection, we warn that this extra protection can (still) be bypassed in a worrying number of situations,” the researchers explained. “For example, HTTPS was previously bypassed in non-browser software, in Apple’s iOS and OS X, in Android apps, in Android apps again, in banking apps, and even in VPN apps.”

    https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/10/severe-flaw-in-wpa2-protocol-leaves-wi-fi-traffic-open-to-eavesdropping/

Other

  • Foxconn Deal in Wisconsin Hits Snag Over Guarantees

    The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. delayed a vote Tuesday to give final approval to a contract that would provide the Taiwanese firm with $3 billion in economic incentives.

    On Wednesday, a Democratic state representative who opposed the deal told a local Wisconsin news organization the delay was over a “nuclear bomb” in the contract that wouldn’t sufficiently protect taxpayers in the case that Foxconn didn’t fulfill its promises, sparking concerns the deal could be in trouble.

    WEDC CEO Mark Hogan said the delay was to ensure the deal was done right. “WEDC continues to do due diligence on a complex deal,” said WEDC CEO Mark Hogan in a statement. “We will take the time necessary to ensure taxpayers are protected and Foxconn is able to create tens of thousands of family-supporting jobs in Wisconsin.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/foxconn-deal-in-wisconsin-hits-snag-over-guarantees-1508353362

  • Apple and GE announce deep partnership

    Apple and GE have committed to build a set of development tools and to develop apps together using Apple’s design sensibility and deep understanding of iOS, but the deal doesn’t stop there. Apple’s sales team will also push the GE Predix platform with its industrial customers when it makes sense, and GE has committed to standardizing on the iPhone and iPad for its 330,000 employees, while offering the Mac as a computer choice. All of this adds up to a level of cooperation we have not seen in Apple’s previous enterprise partnerships.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/18/apple-and-ge-announce-deep-partnership/?ncid=rss

  • IBM Revenue Drops Again, But Mainframe, AI Units Beat Expectations

    Revenue was down 0.4% from a year earlier to $19.15 billion, a minor slide but enough to make it the 22nd consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines.

    Still, revenue from the hardware division, which rolled out new mainframe computers over the summer, marked its first gain from a year earlier since 2015.

    Profit fell 4.5% to $2.73 billion. Margins narrowed over all and in most business units, though progressively less since the beginning of the year—a hopeful sign of stabilization.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/ibm-has-another-revenue-drop-during-its-transition-1508273024
    IBM’s stock surge is one for the history books

    The stock IBM, +8.86% rocketed $12.99, or 8.9%, Wednesday to the highest close in nearly six months, after the information technology company reported third-quarter profit and revenue the beat Wall Street expectations.

    Beating profit projections wasn’t a surprise, since IBM has now done so for 12 straight quarters, but the stock rallying after results is a relative rarity. And Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said the latest beat marks “a real inflection point,” as it came amid “low investor expectations” and helps support the belief that the gross margin trend is now rising.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ibms-stock-surge-is-one-for-the-history-books-2017-10-18

  • Samsung vice chairman quits amid leadership ‘crisis’

    Kwon has been the face of Samsung after Jay Y. Lee was arrested and eventually found guilty of bribery and embezzlement. Lee, who was sentenced to five years in prison, apparently bribed officials to ensure that the controversial merger of two Samsung-controlled companies would go smoothly in spite of shareholders’ disapproval. While he was only a vice chairman when he was arrested, Lee was considered the company’s de facto leader after his father, Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014. The younger Lee is responsible for conjuring up the company’s long-term strategic vision.

    Samsung had a great quarter, thanks mainly to the increasing demand for memory chips with large storage capacities. The mobile division’s performance also got a boost from Galaxy Note 8’s sales, but we won’t know by how much until the full earnings come out. If the conglomerate wants to top Q3’s profit, though, it has to find a way to solve the “unprecedented crisis” it’s going through.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/13/samsung-vice-chairman-quits-earnings-guidance-q3-2017/

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