AI, speech recognition, and cognitive computing are emerging as the hot terms in 2017 for both enterprise and the public. As these technologies truly become common, how do IT departments keep up when buying IT is becoming simultaneously easier and more complicated at the same time?
What happens to the companies this new technology is displacing? Dell/EMC announced another round of (expected) job eliminations and more are expected to follow. Fitbit snapped up another smartwatch company to retire. The remaining scraps of Yahoo are renaming and becoming a holding company.
- Atlassian acquires Trello for $425M
Trello launched in the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield in 2011 and in 2014, it was spun out of Fog Creek Software as a stand-alone company. With Trello, Atlassian is acquiring one of the fastest growing project management services. It now has about 19 million users and just under 100 employees, all of which will join Atlassian. After it was spun out of Fog Creek, Trello raised $10.3 million from BoxGroup, Index Ventures, Spark Capital and others.
- Amazon quietly acquired AI security startup harvest.ai for around $20M
The San Diego-based startup, co-founded by a team that includes two former NSA employees, uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze user behavior around a company’s key IP to try to identify and stop targeted attacks before valuable customer data can be swiped.
We were alerted to the acquisition by a tipster, who said the purchase price for harvest.ai was $19 million — a good return, considering that the startup only raised $2.3 million. The tipster also said the team’s 12 employees are relocating to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.
- Fitbit just bought another smartwatch startup
Fitbit can confirm it has acquired specific assets from Vector Watch, a highly respected wearables company based in Europe and known for its innovative and cross-functional approach to design and development. The deal excludes Vector Watch’s hardware products. As with our recently announced acquisition of Pebble assets, Vector brings valuable industry expertise that will help accelerate the development of new products, features and functionality. With the addition of the Vector Watch team, we are establishing a cutting-edge development center in Bucharest, Romania, further building our global engineering capabilities and expanding our presence in EMEA.
- Amazon Is Building the Fourth Pillar of Its Business
Nowhere is this emerging technology more evident than in the areas of voice recognition and natural language processing. Amazon’s contribution to the field is Alexa, its AI-driven, cloud-based, voice-activated assistant. Alexa controls a variety of Amazons products including the popular Echo smart speaker and its sibling the Echo Dot. Alexa acts as the software to the Echo hardware. This product ecosystem has a dedicated team of over 1,000 working on its development. Alexa’s home in the cloud allows it to learn continuously from all the devices it controls. The Echo and Echo Dot were among the most popular products on the Amazon website this holiday season. Some estimates put sales of Echo products at over 5 million since their debut two years ago, and they were sold out on the website in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
AWS is the only one of its pillars that doesn’t have parallel connections with the retail part of Amazon’s business, and will probably be the last such silo Amazon builds. All of their current efforts for the future…Alexa integrations, Amazon Go physical stores, drone deliveries with a massive “mothership” fulfillment center hovering 45,000 feet above you…all of that is designed to eventually make Amazon the largest retailer in the world by any yardstick – sales volume, number of products, earnings, profitability, memberships, etc.
- IBM Watson: The Growth Story Finally Unfolding
I expect that IBM’s deal with Siemens will be a game-changer for Watson. Siemens has an enviable track record of introducing new innovations to OEMs and application developers. Its MindSphere platform, which is basically a PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) for the industrial sector, is the leading platform in the world. MindSphere offers cost-effective apps to the manufacturing industries across the world to allow them to benefit from the advantages of big data and analytics. The platform consists of a variety of tool for developers for enabling them to create specialized apps for industrial use. To put it into perspective, an app can allow a company to minimize manufacturing cost by adjusting output according to current input price in an automated manner.
- IBM’s Watson Health, Illumina team up on genomics sequencing, cancer research
Under the partnership, Watson Genomics will be integrated into Illumina’s BaseSpace and Tumor Sequencing Process. Specifically, Watson Genomics will be available to interpret data produced by Illumina’s TruSight Tumor 170, which is a solid tumor profiling panel. The system aims to detect variants across 170 genes and looks at both RNA and DNA.
- Big Healthcare Players Store Big Data in the Cloud
These benefits are moot points if privacy and security are not achieved. The security of personal health information is among the biggest concern with decision-makers when it comes to adopting cloud technologies. Most large cloud vendors, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), are HIPAA compliant and understand the complexities of healthcare. They have large and talented security teams that understand the impact a breach would have on their business.
- Unsanctioned cloud use remains a problem for enterprises
The results show that half of all users of officially sanctioned cloud storage services like Box and Dropbox also have a personal instance of the same service. This can make detection of unauthorized copying of data more difficult.
“Until very recently, organizations had to take an all-or-nothing approach to allowing cloud services. If they sanctioned a cloud storage service for corporate use, they also needed to accept any additional personal instances of that cloud storage service or block the service entirely,” says Sanjay Beri, founder and CEO of Netskope. “As our customers make cloud services a strategic advantage for their businesses, when it comes to governing and securing those services, they are realizing granular policies can ensure that sensitive data does not leak from the sanctioned instance of a corporate cloud service to an unsanctioned one”.
- Microsoft drops a pay-as-you-go Azure cloud option
Geared to organizations with at least 250 users, MPSA is Microsoft’s simplified agreement consolidating purchase of cloud services and software. The move detailed today follows on Microsoft’s decision to not proceed with its proposed Enterprise Advantage program, which was meant to allow customers to buy organization-wide on the MPSA.
- Apple, Facebook, Google Rank Highest In Greenpeace Report
Apple’s rating earned the company a clean energy index score of 83%, followed by Facebook at 67% and Google at 56%.
Specific to search, company scorecards show that Google received a final grade of A, followed by Bing and Yahoo with a B rating. Daum.net received a C rating, followed by Naver with a C rating and Baidu, Nate, and Zum with a rating of F.
To earn an A rating, Google received an A in renewable energy committing and siting policy, energy efficiency and mitigation, renewable procurement, and advocacy. The company earned a B rating in energy transparency.
- All-flash storage startup Kaminario snares $75 million investment
Kaminario made a couple of big bets when it launched back in 2010 that look pretty good today. First of all, the company decided to go with all-flash storage arrays when, Golan says, flash was running around a thousand dollars a gigabyte.
It also made a deliberate play for the cloud market, particularly SaaS vendors, who need the kind of performance flash storage can provide. This was contrary to most storage vendors’ approach at the time, who were targeting enterprise IT.
- Dell EMC lifts the post-acquisition axe: Swwwwwing
Dell Technologies’ 140,000 staffers have been wincing in anticipation for the expected 2,000-3,000 layoffs after the $67bn EMC acquisition completed, and now the wait is over. The axe is swinging and heads have begun to roll.
A person close to the events told us: “Almost 80 people have been terminated from the Hopkinton location and there is more to come.”
- IBM: Cognitive computing needs flash arrays, mark our words (of course it does)
IBM is putting its latest “cognitive” marketing spin on these systems, saying the microcode “is ideal for cognitive workloads requiring the highest availability and system reliability possible for mainframe and Power Systems.”
It tells us that the arrrays are integrated with z System mainframe products through patented software that provides data protection, remote replication and optimisation for midrange and large enterprises.
- IBM Watson, FDA to explore blockchain for secure patient data exchange
“The healthcare industry is undergoing significant changes due to the vast amounts of disparate data being generated. Blockchain technology provides a highly secure, decentralized framework for data sharing that will accelerate innovation throughout the industry,” IBM Watson Health Chief Science Officer Shahram Ebadollahi said in a statement.
- IBM Sets New World Record With Over 8,000 Patents Granted In Just One Year
IBM’s record setting year breaks down to more than 22 patents being granted per day in 2016. No other company was in contention to beat IBM for the most patents this year, as its nearest competitor, Samsung, earned a second place finish with 5,518 patents. After that the top 10 list is comprised of Canon (3,665), Qualcomm (2,897), Google (2,835), Intel (2,784), LG Electronics (2,428), Microsoft (2,398), Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (2,288), and Sony (2,181).
- Marissa Mayer resigning from Yahoo board as remaining company renames itself Altaba
Only five board members will remain at Altaba: Tor Braham, Eric Brandt, Catherine Friedman, Thomas McInerney and Jeffrey Smith. The rest of Yahoo’s board, including CEO Marissa Mayer, will step down from the newly-formed company. Mayer may be tapped for a role in Yahoo’s integration at Verizon, but her position has yet to be announced.
- Trump set to restrict program for foreign tech workers used by Microsoft
Microsoft and other companies say the visa program is necessary, because there is not enough tech talent in the U.S. to fill jobs. Trump calls the H-1B visas “a cheap labor program.” His allies in Congress say they will introduce the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act to scrap the program, according to the Post.
Trump’s stances on trade, foreign jobs, clean energy and immigration could present problems for the U.S. tech industry.
- LinkedIn may move its 10,000 employees off Google Apps – and not because of Microsoft
According to someone close to the company, this change is not being driven by demands from Microsoft that LinkedIn switch to Office 365. We hear that Google is the one that isn’t thrilled to have such a large G Suite customer owned by Microsoft. Google doesn’t want to be put in a position where it’s sharing product road map and other tidbits with a company its biggest rival, this person tells us. (Google declined to comment)
- Ex-Autonomy CFO Pleads Not Guilty in Case Over HP Buyout
After Sushovan Hussain entered his plea Thursday, the San Francisco federal judge overseeing the case said he wants to move toward a trial without delay. The executive traveled voluntarily from England for Thursday’s hearing and his lawyer has said he’s eager to prove his innocence.
Prosecutors charged Hussain in November, five years after Hewlett-Packard admitted that its 2011 acquisition of Autonomy was a bust. He and Autonomy co-founder Michael Lynch face a lawsuit by Hewlett-Packard in a London court seeking $5.1 billion over allegations they made false claims about Autonomy’s performance and financial condition to boost the company’s value. Lynch wasn’t charged in the December indictment.
Photo: Kristopher Roller