This week is Oracle World which means Larry Ellison is talking epic piles of trash against his competitors (IBM and Amazon). While Larry drops his truth bombs from his throne of garbage, Microsoft, SalesForce, and IBM take further steps in advancing AI.
In between sound-bytes, Oracle did manage to pick up a security automation company named Palerra. Google and Amazon both purchased companies to help develop and improve chatbots and even Apple grabbed a machine learning company named Tuplejump.
Blockchain was hot news this week as IBM secured paying customers in Japan to deploy their version of blockchain technology. As companies look to leverage blockchain for their own use, many early adopters are calling foul due to Accenture’s attempts to introduce the ability to edit transaction tables.
- Apple acquires another machine learning company: Tuplejump
We’re hearing that Apple was particularly interested in “FiloDB”, an opensource project that Tuplejump was building to efficiently apply machine learning concepts and analytics to massive amounts of complex data right as it streamed in. According to its github page, FiloDB was primarily headed up by Evan Chan; Chan’s LinkedIn page says he’s been with Tuplejump since August of 2015.
- Oracle buys Palerra to boost its security stack
Palerra’s business currently focuses on providing security automation for enterprise apps, covering not just data in the apps but as that data “moves across services and it offers several layers of protection across infrastructure and software services,” as we wrote about them last year. Given how many apps today integrate and exchange data by way of APIs, that makes for a significant business.
- Google’s new acquisition makes building chatbots easier
Google took a shot at Facebook’s chatbot-building services on Monday with its acquisition of API.ai, a company that helps developers build and improve conversational interfaces for their services.
API.ai has more than 60,000 developers using its platform to create conversational user interfaces for apps like Slack, Facebook Messenger and Kik. Its tools make it easier for programs to parse human language and translate it into action. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- Amazon wants a piece of the chatbot action too…
It looks like Google, which yesterday acquired API.ai, a company that helps developers build conversational interfaces, isn’t the only major tech company hoovering up chat bot talent. TechCrunch understands that Angel.ai (formerly known as GoButler) has, at least partially, been acqui-hired by Amazon.
The e-commerce giant confirmed that Angel.ai co-founder and CEO Navid Hadzaad has joined the company. “I can confirm that Navid started at Amazon, and that his first day was yesterday. We don’t have anything further to share at this time,” an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch.
- Cisco and IBM Both Evaluate the Security Company Imperva
An analyst note penned by Mitch Steves of RBC Capital Markets says a purchase by Cisco would align with its stated strategy to boost their security portfolio. He said that Cisco’s portfolio is “maximized in terms of attacks from the outside.” Imperva’s technology would be a “next step” in boosting its portfolio with hybrid cloud security, writes Steves.
Imperva’s flagship product is its SecureSphere Data Security Suite, which can protect on-premises data as well as data in private, public, and hybrid clouds.
- Twitter shares spike on rumors of acquisition by Google, Microsoft, Salesforce or Verizon
Twitter’s board of directors wants to sell, and a formal bid may come “shortly,” said CNBC, citing unnamed “people close to the situation.” But CNBC also said “no sale is imminent,” without accounting for the discrepancy.
Negotiations are picking up steam and could be concluded by year-end, CNBC quoted one source as saying. The would-be buyers are said to be as interested in Twitter’s data as they are in its status as a media company.
- Microsoft Enlists AI, Cloud in Battle Against Cancer
Microsoft is exploring multiple approaches, including a cloud-based tool called the Bio Model Analyzer, which creates a model of healthy cells and compares it against cells that grow cancerous, evaluating the interactions in the genes and proteins, offering researchers a window into how cancer spreads. The technology could help detect cancer earlier and may help doctors design effective treatments, cope with rare cancers and determine when and if a cancer will become resistant to a given treatment.
Another cloud-based system called Literome trawls through millions of research papers, enabling oncologists to spend more time easing their patients’ suffering and less time combing through thick volumes of medical research. “To build Literome, [Microsoft researcher Hoifung] Poon and his colleagues used machine learning to develop natural language processing tools that require only a small amount of available knowledge to create a sophisticated model for finding those different descriptions of similar knowledge,” wrote Linn.
- Salesforce thinks AI will help it beat Microsoft and Oracle
At next month’s Dreamforce, Salesforce’s mammoth annual customer conference that takes over downtown San Francisco, the company will introduce technology called Einstein, which it’s describing as the “world’s first comprehensive AI for CRM.”
On the company’s second-quarter conference call in August, Benioff called it “AI for everyone.”
Salesforce executives on Thursday gave a group of reporters an early look at Einstein in preparation for the unveiling. The general idea, as the name implies, is that sales tools are getting a whole lot smarter.
Powered by advanced machine learning, deep learning, predictive analytics, natural language processing and smart data discovery, Einstein’s breakthrough innovations allow models to be automatically customized for every single customer. These models learn, self-tune and get smarter with every interaction and additional piece of data. Einstein will automatically discover relevant insights, predict future behavior, proactively recommend best next actions and even automate tasks. Now every Salesforce user will be able to leverage AI capabilities to deliver more personalized and predictive customer experiences.
- Microsoft surpasses IBM Watson, achieves lowest error rate for speech recognition
WER, in case you are unaware of it, is a commonly used metric of the performance of voice based systems, including speech recognition or machine translation. Until now, the IBM Watson had the lowest WER of 6.9, although IBM had at a recent interspeech conference claimed achieving 6.6 percent error rate. However, Microsoft’s new systems are even better.
- IBM Watson is just ‘an advertisement’ for AI while Amazon Aurora is ‘not very good’ – Oracle’s Mark Hurd was on fire today
Nothing we haven’t heard before, perhaps, but then things got really weird, as someone brought up AI. Hurd said artificial intelligence is “nothing more than pattern matching” and called IBM Watson an “advertisement”.
“I look through a bunch of videos and say ‘Those two images are the same, or those two pieces of text are the same, or those two numbers are the same’. The real trick to this isn’t where you see it with advertisements like Watson, but the ability to get it into my day-to-day work,” said Hurd, alluding to yesterday’s keynote, when Ellison used a chatbot to order some business cards and make a crack about no longer being CEO, as the bot spotted his “change of title”.
- IBM inks blockchain deal with Japan’s largest bank
Together with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU), IBM will design, manage, and establish contracts that potentially could be deployed among business partners.
The two companies plan to tap blockchain technologies to automate business transactions between both organisations.
The first pilot project, which started in May this year, was built on Linux Foundation’s open source blockchain platform, Hyperledger Project, and deployed for contract management on the IBM cloud.
- IBM Set to Launch One of the Largest Blockchain Implementations to Date
The implementation, which will help its financing unit resolve disputes with customers and partners, could send a signal to a market where enormous amounts of money have been invested in blockchain companies and their technology. The move also will make IBM one of the largest organizations to date to shift beyond limited tests of the emerging technology to real-world business transactions.
The system is expected to free some of the $100 million in capital tied up at any given time in transaction disputes in the IBM Global Financing unit, said Jerry Cuomo, vice president of blockchain technologies. Blockchain is touted as a way to make many markets and functions more efficient by removing the middleman.
Microsoft sees ‘staggering’ potential for blockchain technology as it releases new ‘Bletchley’ template
Microsoft has released version 1 of Bletchley template for Azure, which lets users create a distributed-ledger, or blockchain, network with minimal knowledge of Azure or Ethereum, a crowd-funded, cloud-based public software project. The new release of Bletchley cuts the three-week process of setting up an Ethereum network to “eight questions and 5-8 minutes,” said Marley Gray, principal program manager of Azure blockchain engineering, in a blog post.
- Why Accenture broke the blockchain with IBM’s help
Accenture just released its most articulate blockchain paper to date, called “Editing the Uneditable Blockchain: Why Distributed Ledger Technology Must Adapt to an Imperfect World” apparently based on the primary work in Redactable Blockchain, or Rewriting History in Bitcoin and Friends.”
Since 2009, there have been 157.2 million bitcoin transactions. None of those transactions were removed, redacted or rewritten. They were and continue to be immutable.
Does removing the immutability of blockchains address human error? During our MIT CIO Symposium discussion, “How Blockchain Will Transform the Digital Economy,” my colleague Anders Brownworth of Circle suggested private or permissionless blockchains were equivalent to an intranet — cosmetic and functionless. I agree.
- Oracle Continues Its All-Out Push Into the Cloud, but Amazon and Others Aren’t Standing Still
This is nothing new for Oracle; the company pretty much did the same thing during last year’s OpenWorld conference. As its July quarter earnings report demonstrates, the company wants investors, customers and partners focused squarely on its strong cloud app and services growth, and not on its slumping on-premise hardware and software sales.
Larry Ellison: ‘Amazon’s lead is over’
Meanwhile, Oracle’s IaaS business is growing so far but not nearly at the rate of its SaaS and PaaS business. SaaS and PaaS revenue was up 82 percent in the first quarter compared to a year ago (in constant currency), totaling $815 million. IaaS, by comparison, grew 10 percent to $171 million.
- Falling flash prices are a boon to enterprise storage buyers
That was the big trend in the second quarter of this year, according to IDC. Enterprise storage systems factory revenue was US$8.8 billion, flat compared with last year’s second quarter, but the total capacity that vendors shipped increased 12.9 percent.
Much of the credit goes to the falling price of a gigabit of flash storage, IDC analyst Liz Conner said. It’s amplified by the growing popularity of flash, which enterprises are adopting for both speed and space-saving. Technology advancements help: Where enterprises last year were ordering SSDs (solid-state drives) with up to 3TB, now they can buy in bulk with units as big as 15TB.
- EMC: King of storage needs to shore up defenses
EMC (18.1 per cent) lost -5.5 per cent points of revenue share in the year, HPE (17.6 per cent) gained 8.8 per cent, Dell (11.5 per cent) a relative monster increase of 13.8 per cent, IBM (6.8 per cent) lost -15.6 per cent (recently-appointed storage boss Ed Walsh has a mountain to climb) with NetApp (6.7 per cent) losing -3.2 per cent. The market amounted to $8.83 BN, with ‘Others’ taking 30.3 per cent of that and ODM direct 9 per cent.
- As Dell and HPE revamp, Lenovo sets sights on enterprise cloud servers
Lenovo wants a bigger chunk of that market and is working toward offering custom-built converged servers targeted at specific tasks. The company is also looking for a larger opportunity with custom hardware for large-scale customers.
I called this out on SourceCast Episode 38
- IBM focuses on a hybrid-cloud future with latest hardware and software
In support of its emphasis on the hybrid approach, IBM cited its own recent survey of 1,000 respondents, who said 45 percent of workloads will remain on the premises despite cloud growth.
IBM also announced new or strengthened relationships with partners Canonical, Hortonworks, Mirantis, NGINX and Red Hat. In particular, IBM and Red Hat together said they plan to deliver offerings built on open-source products including Red Hat’s enterprise Linux, its virtualization and its enterprise Linux High Availability.
Research firm Gartner last month put IBM in the lower-left corner of its most recent Infrastructure-as-a-Service magic quadrant, well behind market-leader Amazon Web Services and behind Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
- Microsoft is shutting down Skype’s HQ in London as part of large-scale terminations
Surprisingly, the Financial Times also reported an insider working in the Skype HQ stating that the move was not a surprise. Many in the office anticipated the same and had been leaving the company since the past few years. The layoffs so far have been attributed to the Microsoft’s struggling smartphones business.
- Cisco and Salesforce join forces for sales, service and IoT solutions
The two companies will tie up on both Salesforce and Cisco products to offer enhanced capabilities in Salesforce’s Sales Cloud and Service Cloud, Salesforce IoT Cloud and Cisco’s Unified Contact Center Enterprise.
Helping organisations collaborate better, Cisco and Salesforce’s first announcement will see Cisco Spark and WebEx integrated into Salesforce’s Sales Cloud and Service Cloud via the Salesforce Lightning Framework. It will help colleagues communicate better via chat, video, and voice without leaving Salesforce.
- Employees, not outsiders, are responsible for most cyber threats, IBM says
Sixty percent of all attacks in 2015 were made by insiders – employees, contractors, consultants and third-party vendors – with malicious intent or inadvertent actors. Inadvertent actors are initiated or instigated by trustworthy people within an organization.
Two-thirds of these attacks were fueled by malicious intent and the rest were the result of inadvertent actions.
- Silicon Valley layoffs beat any dot.com bust records
An additional 62,917 jobs were lost in June 2016 from Silicon Valley alone. And then there were veiled threats from Apple, Google, Amazon and more that use Ireland as a tax haven.
Tech recruitment company Challenger commented, “Companies that do not adapt to changing trends will be left behind. Nobody knows this better than technology firms, where the very nature of the business means constantly evolving and shifting resources. We are seeing this play out with Cisco, just as it has played out with Intel, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and several other tech giants in recent months.”
- HP printers block third party print cartridges
HP printers are no longer recognising unofficial and cheaper printer ink cartridges after a firmware update, according to third party Dutch printer ink vendor 123inkt.
HP admits that as a result of the update, settings had been changed so HP printers would only communicate with cartridges with HP chips.
Translation: HPI doesn’t make any money on the printers so they are doing everything they can to make you buy their ink.
- Oracle Receives Favorable Ruling, Awarded $100 Million
The United States District Court for the District of Nevada not only granted Oracle’s motion for a permanent injunction but also ordered Rimini and its CEO to pay more than $100 million in punitive charges.
The favorable ruling is quite a breather after Oracle’s recent litigation setbacks against Alphabet Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise
Photo: Peter Lobozzo