Amazon generated headlines this week during their re:Invent conference. They announced Alexa for the office, transcription services, and an improved platform to develop machine learning solutions.
Google snapped up IT talent from Microsoft and Intel this week which is telling. Many journalists have stated that Google is turning into the old Microsoft. Google has been recruiting former Microsoft employees since Ballmer left (whose tenure was rumored to foster hostility and competition among divisions).
IBM is rumored to be reducing headcount in the UK to manage costs.
- A Broadcom-Qualcomm Deal Would Face a Regulatory Minefield
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which vets foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies on national security grounds, lately has combed chip deals for involvement from China, which been trying to extend its semiconductor capabilities. Late last year, for instance, the committee quashed the sale of Aixtron SE , a German maker of chip-fabrication equipment that has U.S. operations, to Chinese investor Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund LP.
Broadcom’s Mr. Tan recently took what appeared to be a step toward easing such scrutiny. Shortly before presenting his bid to Qualcomm, he stood beside President Donald Trump to announce a plan to relocate Broadcom’s headquarters from Singapore to the U.S.
- WeWork to Buy Meetup, Targeting Off-Hours Gatherings
WeWork Cos. said it is buying Meetup Inc., as the richly funded office-sharing company seeks to bring more visitors into its growing array of real estate.
With the deal, WeWork hopes to increase its usage rate during non-working hours. Most traditional clients use spaces on weekdays while Meetup-organized events mostly happen on nights and weekends.
Meetup helps organizations and clubs host events and grow membership. More than 100,000 people have attended meetups at WeWork locations so far this year, the companies said Tuesday.
- AWS releases SageMaker to make it easier to build and deploy machine learning models
Randall Hunt wrote in a blog post announcing the new service that the idea is provide a framework for accelerating the process of getting machine learning incorporated in new applications. “Amazon SageMaker is a fully managed end-to-end machine learning service that enables data scientists, developers, and machine learning experts to quickly build, train and host machine learning models at scale,” Hunt wrote.
As AWS CEO Andy Jassy put it while introducing the new service on stage at re:invent, “Amazon SageMaker, an easy way to train, deploy machine learning models for every day developers.”
- NVIDIA’s AI will help GE speed up medical image processing
Clinical diagnosis has dramatically improved thanks to improved imaging via incredibly advanced MRI, CT and other machines, but there’s a downside to that tech. It generates up to 50,000 terabytes of data, per hospital, but only three percent of that is analyzed or even tagged, says GE.
Using AI would not just help patients, but also make the data available for further analysis so the algorithms can be refined even more. As such, GE is also developing a new analytics platform and placing some of the data in NVIDIA’s GPU Cloud. It has also teamed with Intel on its Xeon Scalable platform to get images to radiologists more quickly.
- Amazon’s cloud-computing unit takes a new approach in heated battle with rivals: advertising
For many years, AWS didn’t advertise, partly because it didn’t have to. The service held a wide lead over the competition, and word-of-mouth was enough to catapult the company’s tools atop the growing market for web-based business software.
But the once-scrappy AWS now needs to focus on winning over CEOs and corporate boards to continue to grow, company insiders and observers say. Amazon also faces intense competition from well-funded rivals, many of whom are already spending heavily to woo that crowd.
Amazon “is out to get the enterprise,” said Dave Bartoletti, an analyst with Forrester Research who tracks cloud computing. “They’re trying to get to the next level — which is, how do you reach executives at big companies.”
- Google will launch a new cloud region in Hong Kong next year
In a blog post published on Wednesday, the technology giant revealed plans to bring its infrastructure-as-a-service platform to Hong Kong sometime next year. Google already operates cloud regions in several major Asian cities, notably Tokyo, Singapore and Taiwan. Each region consists of at least two hosting sites situated in different locations to mitigate the impact of localized outages such as a power disruption.
What makes the move into Hong Kong different from Google’s previous expansions in the region is its tense history with China. The company stopped serving searches in the country seven years ago and hasn’t returned since, even as rivals started building out their local operations. Today, Microsoft Corp. and Amazon Web Services Inc. both provide cloud services to Chinese companies.
- Microsoft Adds SAP as Cloud Partner to Challenge Amazon
SAP agreed to use Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing service internally, and said it would highlight that usage to customers shopping for their own cloud services.
SAP Chief Executive Bill McDermott called the move “nontrivial,” saying customers frequently ask what tech the German company uses.
Mr. McDermott stopped short, though, of saying the agreement between the longtime software partners called on SAP to give Azure preferential treatment over rivals, including Amazon. “I think customers are quite capable of making their own determinations,” he said in an interview.
- Former Intel data center boss Diane Bryant joins Google Cloud as new COO
Bryant is an experienced tech executive who spent more than 25 years at Intel. Most recently, she led Intel’s data center group, and was considered one of the top three execs at the company. But she abruptly stepped down from her role at Intel in May due to “family matters.”
At the time, Intel said her departure would be temporary for six to eight months. But according to a new SEC filing by Intel, Bryant notified Intel that she will not be returning and plans to retire from the company effective Dec. 1. Intel will have to make a separation payment of $4.5 million to Bryant, the filing said.
- Box is cash flow positive again, with 26% revenue growth
CEO Aaron Levie says they’re in a “really really good spot from a cash generation standpoint.”
He said that this quarter they also “launched a whole bunch of a new technology around machine learning and AI.” He’s referring to a new multimedia-focused toolkit they launched called Box Skills.
Box now has 80,000 enterprise and government customers. In its latest quarter, it added businesses like Foster Farms and also the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Box says its revenue for the year is expected to be between $505 million and $506 million. The company’s stock is up 43 percent in the past year.
- Trust and relevance – the twin challenges SAP faces as it meets with SAP UK & Ireland User Group
But…as SAP transitions to cloud-only offerings, customers have been faced with multiple issues that erode that hard-won trust. Not least among problems customers face are:
1. Lack of a solid business case for upgrading to S/4 HANA.
2. Lack of adequately qualified/certified implementers on SuccessFactors’ projects.
3. Inadequately addressed concerns over indirect access.
4. Ongoing lack of control over SIs and continuing ‘lights on’ costs for existing systems.
- Microsoft employee joins Google, criticizes company’s missteps with developers
He also explains that Windows Phone and Internet Explorer failed due to various drawbacks, “infighting between different divisions left client developers in the Microsoft ecosystem caught in the crossfire, with little clarity for those who wanted to bet on something that would endure,” he explains. Not only developers, but this also led to customers leaving the Windows Phone for Android and iOS.
“And so when ‘Metro’ (UWP) was introduced as a reset for the Windows API, leaving behind the massive existing Windows XP and Windows 7 user base in pursuit of an unproven new touch-centric UI, developers largely shrugged and continued down the paths they had already chosen,” Sneath added.
- Don’t expect AWS to launch a blockchain service anytime soon
Jassy seemed anything but enthused about the prospect. In his view, there aren’t a lot of use cases of the blockchain “beyond the distributed ledger.” He also stressed that AWS doesn’t “build technology because we think it is cool.”
In his view, there are plenty of other ways to solve the problems that blockchain technology aims to solve, too, and that many of the distributed ledgers available right now remain very limited in their capabilities.
- More than a Million Pro-Repeal Net Neutrality Comments were Likely Faked (dubious source)
The first and largest cluster of pro-repeal documents was especially notable. Unlike the other clusters I found (which contained a lot of repetitive language) each of the comments here was unique; however, the tone, language, and meaning across each comment was largely uniform. The language was also a bit stilted. Curious to dig deeper, I used regular expressions⁹ to match up the words in the clustered comments
It turns out that there are 1.3 million of these. Each sentence in the faked comments looks like it was generated by a computer program. A mail merge swapped in a synonym for each term to generate unique-sounding comments.¹⁰ It was like mad-libs, except for astroturf.
The FCC is peddling its net neutrality spin as facts
Since its release, the draft proposal has continued to draw intense opposition and now the FCC has released a list of myths vs. facts in regards to the plan. But this list, which poses as an explanatory breakdown of the FCC proposal and is most definitely the agency’s attempt at damage control, is nearly as ill-conceived as the plan itself.
- Apple sues Qualcomm for violating chip patents
The patent lawsuit battle between Apple and Qualcomm isn’t about to cool down any time soon. Apple has countersued Qualcomm, alleging that older Snapdragon chips (the 800 and 820) violate eight or more patents for power management in processors. It’s keen to point out that this technology predates that from a relevant Qualcomm suit, claiming that it pursued these patents “years” before the ones Qualcomm is wielding in its own case. Apple is pushing for unspecified damages.
- IBM to build Boulder’s largest solar array
In a deal that helps both IBM and Xcel Energy reach their ambitious renewable energy objectives, the parties announced that by late 2018 a large array of solar panels will be up and running on 54 acres of IBM’s Gunbarrel facility. Xcel Energy’s stated goal is to provide 55 percent of its annual energy through renewable sources (solar, wind and natural gas) by the year 2026. And IBM’s statement regarding its environmental goals reads that it aims to “procure electricity from renewable sources for 20 percent of IBM’s annual electricity consumption by 2020.”
- Bitcoin Crosses $10,000, Then Quickly Tops $11,000
Much of this year’s growth has come from Japan. On April 1, Japan’s Financial Services Agency put in place new rules for bitcoin, which recognized it as a legitimate payment method. Japan quickly became one of the largest markets for bitcoin, currently representing about 60% of all trading.
While bitcoin’s $166 billion market value now rivals that of General Electric Co. or the monetary base of Venezuela, the use of its network isn’t keeping pace. The number of bitcoin transactions on a daily basis has been consistent in 2017. In January, daily transactions averaged between 250,000 and 300,000. It fell during the summer, then regained near-peak levels in the fall.
- IBM reportedly set to slash UK jobs in cost cutting drive
In a bid to reportedly reduce costs, IBM has embarked on a plan to cut jobs across the UK and Ireland as part of a larger initiative to save money on the wages of its personnel.
The Register broke the news in an exclusive, revealing a memo that pointed to around at least a hundred staff being axed through the process of a 45 day consultation.
Photo: Joshua Earle