It was a very unstable week…
Equifax’s CEO is stepping down, Google is implementing organizational and policy changes in the wake of the EU ruling, HPE is cutting another 5,000 jobs, and we found out that Alexa is not HIPAA compliant… oh and IBM bought another Israeli company.
- Google Cloud acquires cloud identity management company Bitium
Google Cloud announced today that it has acquired Bitium, a company that focused on offering enterprise-grade identity management and access tools, such as single-sign on, for cloud-based applications. This will basically help Google better manage enterprise cloud customer implementation across an organization, including doing things like setting security levels and access policies for applications working across their Cloud and G Suite offerings.
Bitium was founded in 2012, and targets both mid market and larger enterprise customers,. It’s been offering a single-stop solution for managing Google Apps, Office 365, social network, CRM, collaboration and marketing tools, while ensuring organizations remain compliant with security standards.
- SAP buys customer identity management firm Gigya for $350M
SAP, the German enterprise software giant, today announced an acquisition to strengthen its hybris e-commerce division. It has acquired Gigya, a firm that helps online properties manage customer identities and profiles. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed officially, but our sources tell us it is for $350 million.
- IBM acquires Israeli company Cloudigo
IBM has acquired Israeli data centre company Cloudigo, Globes reported. No financial details were disclosed but the acquisition was for a small amount, according to sources close to the deal. Cloudigo is building next-generation data centre infrastructure and networking services.
IBM Watson and Cloud Platform general manager John Considine said in a blog on IBM’s website that IBM had acquired a high-performance team focused on advanced networking technology that moves the networking function from the server to the edge, increasing data centre efficiency.
- Microsoft Aims to Make Business AI Cheaper, Faster, Simpler
The new product, a customer-service virtual assistant, is designed to let people describe problems in their own words and respond with suggestions drawn from user manuals, help documents and similar materials. Users can request a human agent, in which case the bot will try to assist the customer-care representative. Managers can view a dashboard overview of the results.
The bot is one of what Microsoft says will be a series of customizable programs running on the company’s Azure cloud-computing platform. The programs, called Dynamics 365 AI solutions, will draw on basic AI capabilities such as natural-language processing as well as a trove of data and algorithms from Microsoft’s Bing search engine, productivity apps and LinkedIn network.
- Analysis: Amazon Alexa’s biggest healthcare problem? It’s not HIPAA compliant
Alexa, Amazon’s voice technology, creates ample opportunity for physicians and health systems. For example, it could be used as for a remote patient monitoring or to help physicians transcribe notes during patient visits.
While not all health app developers are subject to HIPAA, covered entities and their business associates must be compliant. This means developers can, for example, train Alexa to recommend advice related to health and wellness, but not record patient’s health data in a hospital setting, according to Ms. Farr.
Amazon acknowledged this problem at its “Alexa Diabetes Challenge” event Monday in New York City. The competition invited a series of partners to promote uses for Alexa that would benefit patients with diabetes.
- MIT’s new robot can put on different exoskeletons to gain new powers
These robots could prove incredibly flexible when built at scale, and in more complex configurations. You can imagine deploying a single robot with a range of “suits” to do something like explore the surface of an alien planet, or even to chart more remote portions of our own Earth, and to switch between search and rescue tasks.
- Google Goes Tit for Tat With Amazon On Cloud Pricing
Last week, Amazon made a huge change in how it charges businesses for its cloud services, saying it would start to bill on a per-second basis starting Oct. 2 instead of by the hour. Now rival Google is also going to per-second increments, but is making the change effective immediately.
Google’s new price model is for its basic computing units (which it calls virtual machines, or VMs) as well as its container engine and a few other offerings. And the price covers all VMs whether they run Windows Server, Red Hat Linux or SUSE Linux operating systems. Amazon’s per-second pricing applies only to Linux, not to Windows. Google’s pricing on “persistant disk” storage attached to these VMs has been billed per second for quite some time.
- Report: HPE to shed 5,000 jobs, or 10% of its staff, by year-end
“If the reports are true, it is sad what has happened to HPE,” said Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc.
Mueller said that although HPE has successfully weathered numerous industry changes in the past, it seems to be losing out in this latest transition where the focus is on things such as artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing.
“At some point the writing was on the wall with the end of Helion [HPE’s OpenStack cloud product] and with the sale of the software assets,” Mueller said.
- Microsoft is going all in on Teams and plans to phase out Skype for Business
Microsoft Teams, the company’s Slack competitor with deep integrations into the Office 365 apps, has seen a lot of pickup over the last few months, with over 125,000 organizations now using it in one form or another. Maybe it’s no surprise, then, that the company today announced it is going all in on Teams as its core communications platform for the enterprise.
Until now, Skype for Business was the company’s product for this. Over the course of the last few years, Microsoft improved the Skype infrastructure to allow for better and faster text chats, calls and video conferences (though some Skype users would surely argue that the quality hasn’t actually improved all that much). But as Ron Markezich, the company’s corporate VP for Office 365 noted ahead of today’s public announcement, Microsoft Teams will evolve “as the core communications client” for its cloud-connected users running Office 365. Teams will become the “hero and primary experience for all voice, video and meetings.” Over time, Teams will replace the current Skype for Business client.
- Micro Focus bosses in line for a £65m payout if they hit merger targets
The executive chairman of Micro Focus could receive a payout of more than £26 million in two years’ time after the British company’s acquisition of Hewlett Packard’s software business.
Kevin Loosemore has been granted options over 1.1 million shares in an additional share grant scheme intended to “incentivise management to deliver exceptional returns to shareholders”. The shares were worth £26.8 million at yesterday’s closing price of £24.36.
- IBM Is Beating Microsoft in This Emerging Tech (Hint: BlockChain)
Moreover, the year-over-year growth of IBM’s “strategic imperatives” (cloud, mobile, social, analytics, and security) has slowed down in recent quarters, torpedoing the bullish notion that its higher-growth businesses can offset the softness of its legacy (IT services, business software, and hardware) businesses.
Nonetheless, the increased adoption of IBM’s blockchain solutions could strengthen its older global business services and technology/cloud platform services units, and potentially expand Big Blue’s enterprise ecosystem. Investors should also remember that the vast majority of the world’s biggest banks, telcos, and retailers still use IBM services — so it has plenty of room to expand its blockchain business.
Therefore, IBM’s lead in the blockchain market might not matter over the next few quarters, but it could widen its moat as more companies secure and streamline their businesses with blockchain solutions.
- Amazon Looks to Deliver Shake Shack, Chipotle Amid Food Push (app)
Amazon has teamed up with a company called Olo, which provides digital order and pay technology to 200 restaurant brands with about 40,000 U.S. locations, potentially giving Amazon access to a slew of delivery orders. Buca di Beppo, which runs about 90 Italian eateries, is the only Olo customer so far to publicly say it will use Amazon Restaurants.
The $1.5 trillion U.S. food market is split roughly between groceries and restaurants. Food deliveries appeal to Amazon because of the frequency of orders, putting it in constant contact with shoppers and helping it collect valuable data about their preferences even if they don’t make much, if any, money on individual transactions.
- IBM Now Has More Employees in India Than in the U.S.
Today, the company employs 130,000 people in India — about one-third of its total work force, and more than in any other country. Their work spans the entire gamut of IBM’s businesses, from managing the computing needs of global giants like AT&T and Shell to performing cutting-edge research in fields like visual search, artificial intelligence and computer vision for self-driving cars. One team is even working with the producers of Sesame Street to teach vocabulary to kindergartners in Atlanta.
- Amazon is hiring 2,000 people in New York City as the $5 billion bidding war for its new headquarters rages
The online retail giant is hiring 2,000 more employees over the next three years at a new office in New York City. The office is part of the Manhattan West megadevelopment on the west side of Manhattan.
The company is leasing 360,000 square feet at 5 Manhattan West, with space for its advertising, Amazon Fashion, and Amazon Web Services teams.
- Equifax CEO Richard Smith to Exit Following Massive Data Breach
Equifax Inc. moved to take concrete action over its massive hack ahead of congressional hearings next week, announcing Tuesday that Chairman and Chief Executive Richard Smith would step aside while leaving the door open to compensation clawbacks.
Mr. Smith, CEO since 2005, is being succeeded as chairman by current director, Mark Feidler, who will serve as nonexecutive chairman, Equifax’s board said. It added that Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., who was most recently Equifax’s president for the Asia-Pacific region, has been appointed interim CEO.
- SEC Draws Scrutiny for Slow Response to Hack
The SEC’s new chairman, Jay Clayton, uncovered the extent of the hack only after he launched a wholesale review of the agency’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the spring, according to a statement he released this week. The SEC’s other commissioners learned about the hack in recent days. A former chief operating officer wasn’t told about the intrusion when it was detected last year.
The pace of discovery and the way that information was disclosed is likely to increase scrutiny of an agency that in recent years has pushed financial firms to gird against attacks and urged public companies to tell shareholders about the risks of cyberintrusions. Information about the hack was included in a lengthy statement by Mr. Clayton about the agency’s cybersecurity program that was released just after 8 p.m. on Wednesday evening. The agency didn’t say when the hack occurred or what information hackers accessed.
- Uber Loses Its License to Operate in London
The decision on Friday by Transport for London, which is responsible for the city’s subways and buses, as well as regulating its taxicabs, illustrates the gravity and severity of the issues confronting Uber.
The agency took direct aim at Uber’s corporate culture, declaring that the company’s “approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.”
Uber’s London license will expire on Sept. 30. But the company has been given 21 days to appeal — it immediately vowed to do so — and will be allowed to continue operating in the city during the appeal process.
- The EU Suppressed a 300-Page Study That Found Piracy Doesn’t Harm Sales
The report found that illegal downloads and streams can actually boost legal sales of games, according to the report. The only negative link the report found was with major blockbuster films:“The results show a displacement rate of 40 percent which means that for every ten recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally.”
The study has only come to light now because Julia Reda, a Member of the European Parliament representing the German Pirate Party, posted the report on her personal blog after she got ahold of a copy through an EU Freedom of Information access to document request.
- Google Offers Concessions to Europe After Record Antitrust Fine
Google said the changes would be introduced early on Thursday morning, meeting a deadline to open up its shopping platform to greater competition or potentially face further fines from the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm. As a result, about a dozen shopping sites from companies besides Google could become more visible and accessible.
Photo: Jakob Owens