Tag Archives: Google

Supplier Report: 4/8/2017

Google is investing in a new subsea cable that connects Singapore to Australia that should greatly improve international bandwidth to those countries and within the countries (especially Australia). But Google shouldn’t celebrate too hard, their Deepmind AI was recently defeated by an open AI solution playing old Atari games.

Analytic companies Tableau and Teradata announced changes to their software models. Tableau is shifting to a subscription model for their BI tools and Teradata was forced to admit their products are falling behind and need a refresh.

IBM is teaming up with Walmart to track food supply chains using blockchain’s general ledger system… once again trying to convince companies that blockchain has commercial applications outside of bitcoin.


  • Oracle and Accenture? A non-starter and here’s why

    To give you a flavor of what this means, in its latest filing, Accenture recorded operating income of 13.7%. For its part, Oracle reported operating income of 32%. As you can readily see, there is no comparison between the two companies, despite the fact Accenture has been acquiring and developing its own software for solutions outside the ‘mainstream’ of solutions that Oracle sells.

    If a deal was on the table then Oracle would have some very difficult explaining to do about how margins would work given that it is under enough pressure over ambitious cloud based growth numbers. In short, it doesn’t make sense to distract Oracle management with profit table juggling when the company is already focused on other things.

    Oracle rejects Accenture buyout speculation

    An ORCL spokesperson initially declined comment on Saturday but sent Fortune a categorical denial via email on Sunday.


  • Amazon and Google’s reported interest in Toshiba’s chip unit could be a sign of things to come

    While Amazon and Google’s flash needs are large and growing, it’s quite unlikely that either company (unlike Apple) could single-handedly consume all of the flash currently sold by Toshiba, or come close to doing so. Toshiba has been estimated to control about a fifth of a NAND market worth about $35 billion, and expected to see strong growth this year.

    Thus in the event that Amazon and Google are eying Toshiba’s flash business, it’s likely to buy a minority stake. One that would let the companies guarantee a stable supply of NAND in the coming years, and the chance to procure it at reasonable prices via long-term contracts.


Artificial Intelligence

  • OpenAI Just Beat Google DeepMind at Atari With an Algorithm From the 80s

    In one hour training on the Atari challenge, the algorithm reached a level of mastery that took a reinforcement-learning system published by DeepMind last year a whole day to learn. On the walking problem the system took 10 minutes, compared to 10 hours for Google’s approach.

    One of the keys to this dramatic performance was the fact that the approach is highly “parallelizable.” To solve the walking simulation, they spread computations over 1,440 CPU cores, while in the Atari challenge they used 720.

    This is possible because it requires limited communication between the various “worker” algorithms testing the candidate policies. Scaling reinforcement algorithms like the one from DeepMind in the same way is challenging because there needs to be much more communication, the researchers say.

    Thanks JD!

  • Honda, IBM create Dave to solve recall riddle

    Dave — for Digital Assisted Virtual Engineer — is a virtual online agent Honda created in conjunction with IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence system. Essentially a highly developed online chat bot run out of Honda’s Chino, Calif., call center, Dave is designed to answer consumer questions about Honda and Acura recalls 24/7.

    “The concept of this was to say if we want to really service our customers in general, what is the gap?” Tony Gomes, assistant vice president of the parts, service and technical division at Honda, told Automotive News. “The gap is when the centers are closed.”



  • IBM’s cloud adds support for Nvidia’s fastest GPUs yet

    There is still a chance that Google could beat IBM to the market, though. Late last year, Google also announced that it would support Nvidia’s newest GPUs early this year, but we haven’t heard when exactly the company plans to launch this feature. We asked Google for an updated timeline but haven’t heard back yet.

    AWS, too, offers GPU support, of course, and its machines can be outfitted with up to 16 GPUs (those are the older K80 cards, though 16 of those obviously offer a lot of raw computing power, too). Microsoft’s Azure offers a similar setup with support for up to 4 of Nvidia’s slightly older GPUs.


  • Why Amazon may eventually touch everything we do online

    Most of the websites that you already go to run through Amazon. Increasingly, their devices are actually coming into your home, you know, they’re delivering groceries. You will, at some point, not conduct business online without Amazon getting a cut of it. And so, they’ve been very good at slow and steady execution so far, and if they make money off everything you do online, there may be no such thing as stretched too thin.


  • New Study Shows AWS Losing Ground to Azure in Enterprises

    “In the early days of the cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS) took the lead as the cloud computing vendor of choice,” the survey report said. “But the survey revealed that as the cloud matures, organizations are becoming more comfortable with vendors other than AWS and are using multiple cloud vendors. In fact, while other reports show that AWS still has a lead in cloud market share, the top cloud vendor in this survey — which included only organizations with at least 500 employees — was Microsoft Azure.



  • Tableau switches to subscription pricing for its BI products

    Businesses will need to pay $70 per user per month for a license of Tableau Desktop Professional, and $35 per user per month for Tableau Server. That compares to the company’s boxed software prices of $2000 for Desktop, plus a $400 annual renewal fee for software updates, and $800 for Server, plus a $200 annual fee.

    It’s a move that will provide additional flexibility, scalability and risk mitigation for Tableau customers, according to Francois Ajenstat, the company’s chief product officer.


  • Walmart and IBM Will Use Blockchain to Ensure Food Safety

    Yiannas explains in an article by Fortune that his company was inspired to utilize blockchain technology for supply chain monitoring by a deadly E. coli scare that happened about a decade ago. The tainted food was, in this case, spinach, and Yiannas believes it goes back to poor practices of sourcing and tracing the contaminated food products. “Consumers, in general, stopped eating spinach…if you could track and pinpoint where that came from faster, you could alleviate all that and ensure consumer confidence continues,” he said. Beyond that, in a case like this one, you could also potentially reduce the number of people who were sickened or killed by poisoned food.

    With an effort at retaining consumer confidence in the event of a similar scare, Walmart has worked with IBM and Beijing’s Tsinghua University to use blockchain to digitally track how pork products in China move. Walmart’s experiment makes use of blockchain technology designed specifically for this purpose by the Hyperledger Project. This is an open source project that was based out of the Linux Foundation and which aims to create blockchain applications for non-cryptocurrency purposes.


  • Teradata CEO aims to regain ‘customer focus’ with embrace of cloud and open source

    He added: “We were shying away from new technologies like open source and cloud. We weren’t being as aggressive as we should be in moving forward to drive our offering to the point where the customer wanted.”

    However, he said that the vendor has moved at “lightning speed” over the last year to address some of the concerns.



  • Google invests in new subsea cable that connects Singapore to Australia

    The cable will feature two fiber pairs with a total capacity of about 18 terabits per second — with the option to expand in the future.

    As Google notes, that’s enough to power 8 million simultaneous Google Hangout video calls (or are those Hangout Meet calls now?). Google, however, is obviously sharing the capacity here, so it won’t quite be able to handle all of those calls at any given time. It’s also worth noting that 18 terabits isn’t extremely fast by today’s standard. The subsea cable between Hong Kong and Los Angeles Google and Facebook invested in last year tops out at 120 terabits per second.


  • Expect to see BlackBerry’s name (and tech) on more devices

    On the company’s earnings call, CEO John Chen said (via Seeking Alpha) that “We are now expanding to the next phase of our licensing program. This will focus on a broader set of endpoints. What this might mean, and I make no promise, is that you may soon see a BlackBerry tablet, and it will also extend to cobranded handset with IoT and Enterprise of Things to EoT devices. These endpoints will run our software and security features and be cobranded Secure by BlackBerry.”


  • EFF: Verizon will install spyware on all its Android phones (update)

    But the EFF spent a little time staring at AppFlash’s privacy policy, where it’s revealed that the software will vacuum up any and all of your private data. For instance, it’ll snag your cell number, device type, operating system and the apps or services that you use. More crucially, the app will also harvest the details of everything installed on your device, your location and the contact details of everyone in your phonebook.

    Verizon admits that the information will be shared within “the Verizon family of companies,” including that of (Engadget parent) Aol. From there, the data will be used to “provide more relevant advertising within the AppFlash experiences and in other places.” The other places being a euphemism for banner and display advertising all across the web.


  • Follow-up to SourceCast Episode 65: H-1B Visa Overhaul Could Actually Benefit Big Tech Companies

    “The top 15 job shops are all pretty much all from India. They get 85 percent of the H-1Bs. If they cut that number, then the American firms will get the bigger slice of the pie,” Shusterman said. “A lot of the Apples or Googles are paying over $100,000 a year. They’re going after top talent. This memo is really going after the lowest paid people.”


Photo: Thomas Shellberg

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SourceCast: Episode 64: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

AI is an exciting concept and technology, but does our excitement overshadow the practical issues with current AI implementations? Will IBM’s Watson be surpassed before it is even fully embraced?

Photo: Ellie Pritts

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Supplier Report: 3/25/2017

IBM hosted their Interconnect conference in Las Vegas this week… so there was alot of IBM news. Big blue announced their cloud storage platform would cost less than AWS and Azure. They also continued their AI and Blockchain marketing campaigns.

But as IBM is attempting to make Watson synonymous with AI, some critics are asking if Watson is too complex to invest in as less complicated and cheaper alternatives become available.


  • Amazon to acquire Souq, a Middle East clone once valued at $1B, for $650M

    According to multiple reports that we have confirmed with our own sources, the e-commerce giant has acquired Souq, often described as the Amazon of the Arab world and the region’s biggest e-commerce player, for a price of $650 million, to spearhead its Middle East business. “The ink is dry” on the deal already, one source close to the company tells us.


  • Why IBM spent $200 million to buy a huge Salesforce partner with Marc Benioff’s blessing
    IBM purchased BlueWolf last year, but became a big topic during Interconnect

    IBM’s current consulting business has been in decline for the past few years because companies are rarely embarking on the kind of huge, multi-million, old-school IT projects they used to hire IBM to do, such as installing massive new SAP systems at enterprises. IBM is a huge SAP partner. Those old-school deals have an high failure rate: running over time, over budget and sometimes winding up in court.

    Companies are turning to cloud computing instead, especially Salesforce.

    IBM is already a consulting partner with Salesforce. Bluewolf speeds up its plans. In other words, IBM views Salesforce as its next SAP when it comes to its consulting business.


  • ‘You will see us do more acquisitions’: A conversation with HPE CEO Meg Whitman

    I think it’s really about a very focused strategy about hybrid IT, the intelligent edge, and the services to make it all happen. And now, we have to deliver the innovation, get the right partner network of companies. We are really curating Silicon Valley, whether it’s Arista, Docker, Chef, Mesosphere, Turbonomic, SaltStack. Innovation in the digital age is a team sport, and we can’t do this all by ourselves. What we can do is curate the best of the best for our solutions.

    I suspect now you will see us do more acquisitions. We’ve sort of shrunk down to the core, and we will make investments and acquisitions in that very core strategy of hybrid IT and the intelligent edge, and probably some services. We’ll probably partner with security companies to build in security into our offerings.


Artificial Intelligence

  • IBM Bets The Company On Cloud, AI, And Blockchain

    Watson supports tax advisors in the company’s retail locations, helping them to find the most deductions for customers. However, getting Watson up to speed at H&R Block was a significant effort. “Watson has ingested about 600 million data points before we started,” explained Bill Cobb, CEO of H&R Block. “It also learned the tax code.”

    This enormous commitment of person-hours from highly qualified professionals as well as vast quantities of data makes Watson more of a consultant’s tool, best suited for selling the time of IBM consultants, more so than a modular, LEGO-block style plug-in for customers to incorporate directly into their own applications.

    IBM tried to downplay this drawback at InterConnect, but compared to many of the more innovative AI technologies on the market today that don’t require the same kind of labor-intensive training, Watson comes across as being an earlier generation of AI technology.

    AI, therefore, may be a good bet, but it’s not clear that Watson itself is.


    AI, therefore, may be a good bet, but it’s not clear that Watson itself is.


  • To Compete With AWS, Oracle Will Need More Data Centers

    If Oracle means to compete at scale with Amazon, Microsoft and Google, it will likely need to back up its tough talk with more data centers. As Oracle builds momentum in cloud computing, it has shifted from building its own data centers to leasing wholesale space from data center developers, enabling it to accelerate its expansion.

    But Oracle’s cloud infrastructure remains significantly smaller than its three cloud rivals. That’s why Oracle’s strong momentum is good news for data center developers, including the publicly-held real estate investment trusts (REITs), who have been among the leading beneficiaries of the cloud infrastructure expansions by Microsoft and Amazon.


  • IBM Cloud Chief Lays Out Big Blue’s Case

    IBM has long-running relationships with almost every Fortune 500 company and its C-level executives, which is an advantage. Its disadvantage is that Amazon Web Services has been wooing and winning business customers to its public cloud over the last 10 years. IBM was late to this information technology delivery model, in which one company amasses and manages vast pools of computing, networking, and storage resources in data centers around the world and then rents them to paying customers. Many of those customers view public cloud services as a way to augment or even replace their own data centers.

    IBM aims to undercut AWS and Azure with new ‘Flex’ cloud storage service

    According to IBM, Flex will provide tiered “pay as you use” storage options that will be both cheaper and higher performing than competitive offerings from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. The company says it is cutting the price to store and access data “by more than 50 percent compared to AWS S3 IA and Azure GRS Cool Tier” and that it is unique in doing so.

    I can’t be reading this right, IBM doesn’t aim to undercut anything 🙂

  • Does Oracle’s AWS Pricing Increase Make Strategic Sense?

    “This change in licensing terms effectively doubles the licensing requirements for some cloud implementations,” said Craig Guarente, CEO of Palisade Compliance. While it is not yet clear how aggressively Oracle will attempt to enforce this provision for new or old licenses, it does represent an attempt to lower the relative price of using the Oracle cloud.


    So then will this price change actually cause more people to use the Oracle cloud? For that to happen, someone would have to switch their entire cloud deployment from AWS or Azure to the Oracle cloud for the sake of the increased cost of one part of the infrastructure. Given that Oracle isn’t in the mix in most of the cloud deployments I’ve heard of, and that its cloud is far behind both AWS and Azure in terms of features, adoption, and ecosystem, it is likely that it would cost a huge amount more to move to the Oracle cloud than to stay with AWS or Azure, so no, this policy change isn’t going to cause a rush of Oracle cloud sales.


  • IBM: The Future of Cloud (InterConnect)


  • A simple command allows the CIA to commandeer 318 models of Cisco switches

    Cisco researchers said they discovered the vulnerability as they analyzed a cache of documents that are believed to have been stolen from the CIA and published by WikiLeaks two weeks ago. The flaw, found in at least 318 switches, allows remote attackers to execute code that runs with elevated privileges, Cisco warned in an advisory published Friday. The bug resides in the Cisco Cluster Management Protocol (CMP), which uses the telnet protocol to deliver signals and commands on internal networks. It stems from a failure to restrict telnet options to local communications and the incorrect processing of malformed CMP-only telnet options.

    “An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending malformed CMP-specific telnet options while establishing a telnet session with an affected Cisco device configured to accept telnet connections,” the advisory stated. “An exploit could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code and obtain full control of the device or cause a reload of the affected device.”



  • Microsoft just showed off exactly what Salesforce was worried about

    Among other features, the new enterprise version increases the number of LinkedIn messages users can send to 50 per month, makes it easier for large companies to manage the product by adding single sign-on and allows sales teams to draw on LinkedIn connections from anyone within their organization with a new feature called TeamLink Extend.

    Subscriptions will also include access to a tool called PointDrive, created by a company acquired by LinkedIn, for easily sharing content like presentations, images, links and videos with prospective customers. Pricing starts at $1,600 per seat per year, with the price dropping with more subscriptions and longer contracts.



  • Is the IBM-Salesforce Partnership about Killing Microsoft?
    Let me answer that… no.

    In an interview with Fortune magazine following the announcement of the IBM-Salesforce AI collaboration, Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s CEO, talked about the partnership’s providing Salesforce the opportunity to begin replacing Microsoft products at IBM.

    If that’s what Salesforce is thinking, then it means the company will likely also try to persuade IBM customers who use Microsoft’s products to defect to its platform, potentially dealing Microsoft a blow in the productivity software market.


  • Google takes Symantec to the woodshed for mis-issuing 30,000 HTTPS certs

    Effective immediately, Chrome plans to stop recognizing the extended validation status of all certificates issued by Symantec-owned certificate authorities, Ryan Sleevi, a software engineer on the Google Chrome team, said Thursday in an online forum. Extended validation certificates are supposed to provide enhanced assurances of a site’s authenticity by showing the name of the validated domain name holder in the address bar. Under the move announced by Sleevi, Chrome will immediately stop displaying that information for a period of at least a year. In effect, the certificates will be downgraded to less-secure domain-validated certificates.


  • AT IBM, “Co-Location” Means “Get Your Butt Into the Office”
    This news item seems to be picking up steam again, I dedicated an entire podcast to the subject a month ago.

    IBM has had to tighten its belt in recent years with three rounds of layoffs, and some employees suspect the back-to-the-office campaign aims to further cut the payroll by driving some workers to quit. But Kessler also argues that the move back to the office is more likely a way of prioritizing creativity over raw productivity. Working from home may improve efficiency, but studies also show it can hamper teamwork, water-cooler serendipity, and the speed of innovation.


Photo: Andrew Pons

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SourceCast: Episode 63: The Race to the Bottom

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

Photo: Skitter Photo

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SourceCast: Episode 62: Google is growing up

Google has been quietly changing their business strategy from a consumer-only focus to a broader enterprise and consumer goods model. Leveraging their beloved Gmail and Google Apps, the company is expanding into AI, analytics, and chat. Will this be enough to lure corporate clients away from AWS and Microsoft?

Photo: Danielle MacInnes

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