Tag Archives: Microsoft

SourceCast: Episode 95: Tech company partnerships are confusing

Google announced several partnerships over the last two weeks that seem to conflict with other relationships they, or the other suppliers, have with each other. This prompted me to look back at some of the strategic partnership announcements over the last few years to connect the dots and see how they worked out for all parties involved.

Photo: rawpixel.com

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Supplier Report: 11/10/2017

This week is the tech-industry equivalent of a bad romance movie. First Google and SalesForce announce a partnership, and in the same week, SaleForces announces a partnership with Facebook that could negatively impact Google.

T-Mobile and Sprint are definitely (maybe) off again… probably.

Another acquisition that might go sour is the AT&T and Time Warner agreement. Customers don’t love the idea and there is a certain President of the United States that is potentially using his influence to get revenge on CNN (probably not).

AI is getting smart enough to realize it needs to grow on its own.

Acquisitions

  • Broadcom Proposes to Acquire Qualcomm for Over $100 Billion

    The cash-and-stock deal carries a value of roughly $103 billion and includes about $25 billion of debt. In a news release, Broadcom said it valued the deal at $130 billion.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/broadcom-proposes-to-acquire-qualcomm-for-70-per-share-1509971816
    Broadcom offers to acquire Qualcomm for $70 per share

    Specifically Broadcom is offering to pay $70.00 per Qualcomm share, with $60.00 being in cash and $10.00 per share in Broadcom shares. It’s intending to use debt financing if it gets agreement for the deal.

    Although a Nomura Instinet analyst, cited by Reuters, suggests that a $70 per share offer won’t be sufficient for the proposal to fly.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/06/broadcom-offers-to-acquire-qualcomm-for-70-per-share/?ncid=rss

  • Proofpoint acquires Cloudmark for $110M in cybersecurity consolidation play

    As malicious groups continue to become more sophisticated in their hacking techniques, cybersecurity efforts are attempting to expand in their reach, and that is leading to some consolidation in the field. Today, cybersecurity firm Proofpoint — which provides SaaS products to protect businesses’ email, social media and other services — announced that it would pay $110 million to acquire Cloudmark, another firm that provides security protection for messaging services, focusing specifically on serving the ISP and mobile carrier markets.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/07/proofpoint-acquires-cloudmark-for-100m-in-cybersecurity-consolidation-play/?ncid=rss

  • Sprint and T-Mobile Call Off Merger

    The decision came after Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Tim Höttges, CEO of T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom AG, met for dinner at Mr. Son’s house in Tokyo to try to reach a final agreement, a person familiar with the matter said.

    In a joint statement, the companies said they couldn’t settle on mutually agreeable terms. They didn’t go into specifics.

    Instead of a merger, Sprint parent company SoftBank Group Corp. plans to buy shares of Sprint on the open market. SoftBank’s stake is around 80%, and it intends to keep its stake below an 85% threshold that would trigger a tender offer.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/sprint-and-t-mobile-calling-off-merger-1509818355

  • Continental buys Israeli co Argus Cyber Security

    Continental said that Argus would now become part of Elektrobit and would continue to engage in commercial relations with all automotive suppliers globally.

    The purchase price was not disclosed though Israeli media reported earlier this week that Continental would pay about $400 million (£305.4 million) for Argus.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-argus-m-a-continental/germanys-continental-buys-israeli-auto-cyber-firm-argus-idUSKBN1D31DR

  • Marvell Technology Group in Advanced Talks to Combine With Cavium

    Marvell is based in Bermuda but run from Santa Clara, Calif. Its chips are used primarily in storage devices, printers and wireless products, and can be found in cars. The company had long been run by husband-and-wife co-founders Sehat Sutardja, who was chairman and chief executive, and Weili Dai, who was president.

    Last year, activist investor Starboard Value LP took a 6.7% stake in Marvell and pushed for the company to cut costs and consider exiting its mobile-devices business. Marvell initiated a restructuring that would eliminate around 900 employees, or approximately 16% of its workforce. It also hired a new CEO to run the company.

    Cavium, based in San Jose, Calif., makes products that are used for networking, data-center and wireless applications.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/marvell-technology-group-in-advanced-talks-to-combine-with-cavium-1509744822

  • The merger between AT&T and Time Warner is a raw deal for the rest of us

    A combined AT&T-Time Warner could pass along the massive acquisition costs, which include billions of dollars in Time Warner debt, to consumers, just as AT&T did after acquiring DirecTV. Even if you subscribe to a different service for cable or satellite TV, you could wind up paying more, because AT&T could raise the prices it charges competitors for HBO, CNN, and other highly desirable Time Warner programming.

    Meanwhile, AT&T-Time Warner would have every incentive to favor its own content over that of others, meaning that AT&T users might not have access to the programming they want – like the competing content of Netflix and Hulu – on the same terms. Because of AT&T’s large footprint in the wireless internet market, their acquisition of a massive content provider poses a serious threat to net neutrality.

    And that’s not all. Should regulators sign off on this deal, it could have enormous long-term implications for the media landscape, as other major industry players — of which there are fewer and fewer — will increasingly argue that greater scale or their own vertical deal is necessary in order to compete with the behemoths of AT&T and Comcast.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/07/the-merger-between-att-and-time-warner-is-a-raw-deal-for-the-rest-of-us/?ncid=rss

Artificial Intelligence

  • A.I. Researchers Leave Elon Musk Lab to Begin Robotics Start-Up

    Their start-up, Embodied Intelligence, is backed by $7 million in funding from the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Amplify Partners and other investors. The company will specialize in complex algorithms that allow machines to learn tasks on their own. Using these methods, existing robots could learn to, for example, install car parts that aren’t quite like the parts they have installed in the past, sort through a bucket of random holiday gifts as they arrive at a warehouse, or perform other tasks that machines traditionally could not.

    “We now have teachable robots,” Mr. Abbeel said during a recent interview at the new company’s offices in Emeryville, Calif., just across the bay from San Francisco.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/06/technology/artificial-intelligence-start-up.html

  • To keep up with demand, AI may have to build itself

    While companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft can throw money at the problem and pay “millions of dollars a year to A.I. experts,” per the Times, other companies are taking matters into their own hands and developing tools and neural networks to help companies build their own AI software. That’s where technologies like Google’s new AutoML come in. It hopes to automate the AI-building process by outsourcing it to AI itself. Per the Times: “Google said AutoML could now build algorithms that, in some cases, identified objects in photos more accurately than services built solely by human experts.”

    It’s not just algorithms either, but AI is getting really good at teaching itself skills like speech recognition, machine translation, and all sorts of other things thanks to a process that experts call “learning to learn,” or “meta-learning.”

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40492277/to-keep-up-with-demand-ai-may-have-to-build-itself

Cloud

  • Google and Salesforce Ink Cloud, Apps Deal

    The deal, slated to be announced Monday at the start of Salesforce’s Dreamforce customer conference in San Francisco, comes a year and a half after the cloud-based business software vendor said it would move some computing operations to data centers run by the market leader, Amazon Web Services. Salesforce also operates its own data centers.

    World-wide revenue for the business of providing cloud infrastructure—that is, computing processing and storage service—hit $22.2 billion last year, and is expected to climb to $67 billion by 2020, according to industry research firm Gartner Inc.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-and-salesforce-ink-cloud-apps-deal-1510002301
    What about the AWS deal?

    It’s unclear exactly how using Google Cloud Platform fits into Salesforce’s overall infrastructure and global expansion plan. Salesforce is already using Amazon Web Services’ infrastructure to power a couple of its international cloud regions, and doesn’t have plans to move away from that investment. AWS will remain a “preferred” cloud provider for Salesforce, as it was when the two companies announced their partnership almost a year and a half ago.

    https://venturebeat.com/2017/11/06/google-and-salesforce-sign-massive-strategic-partnership/

    Facebook and Salesforce are teaming up against Microsoft Office and Google

    The cloud-software provider and the social networking giant are expected to announce Tuesday that they are enhancing the integration of Salesforce’s Quip productivity app with Facebook’s Workplace, which is a version of the company’s social network that was designed specifically for businesses. The collaboration is designed to make it easier to share Quip documents in Workplace and see there a list of all documents shared.

    The partnership could help the two companies better compete with Microsoft’s Office and Google’s G Suite.

    But the deal could have other benefits. The partnership will give both Salesforce and Facebook a way in with each other’s customers.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/salesforce-quip-partners-with-workplace-by-facebook-2017-11

  • Microsoft, Oracle, IBM are said to alter pay to push cloud sales

    Previously, Microsoft had been bundling cloud services, such as Azure for storing and running data and cloud applications, with many of its multiyear deals. Althoff said the shift in pay incentives is a significant change.

    “We did have ill-informed behaviours,” he said. “We tried to sell Azure the same way we tried to sell everything else at Microsoft, which is adding it into our enterprise agreement. People were like ‘Do you want fries with that? Do you want Azure with that?’ That didn’t drive any meaningful work.”

    Also:

    IBM has been emphasising selling cloud infrastructure services and software and tools geared toward specific business processes and industries such as health care and finance. Oracle has been turning its focus to the cloud as well and investing in staff. The company said in August it was adding more than 5,000 people, including in sales, for its cloud business – following other related hires earlier in the year in the US.

    https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2017/11/03/microsoft-oracle-ibm-are-said-to-alter-pay-to-push-cloud-sales/

Datacenter

  • New IBM platform turns your data center into a cloud

    IBM Cloud Private takes middleware and other legacy applications, places them inside Kubernetes containers and transforms them into contemporary applications using Kubernetes container orchestration. The software itself is already containerized, including IBM tools and most major open source databases.

    Cloud Private also provides tools and APIs to connect cloud services like Salesforce with a company’s on-premises data center and share data from the cloud services with those legacy applications.

    https://www.networkworld.com/article/3236245/private-cloud/new-ibm-platform-turns-your-data-center-into-a-cloud.html

Security

  • Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer Subpoenaed to Testify Before Senate, Says Report

    Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has reportedly been subpoenaed to testify to the Senate Commerce Committee about the massive cyber hack that compromised 3 billion accounts. The U.S. has charged four alleged Russian spies with the breach, which is now being investigated by the government for insight into Russia’s cyber espionage activities.

    Issued Oct. 25, according to a report by The Hill, Mayer’s subpoena reportedly came after the former Google employee and Yahoo chief executive declined multiple invitations to appear before the committee voluntarily. Since being served, she has agreed to testify willingly, says The Hill, though she has also reportedly asked for the court order to be lifted. A Mayer representative has refuted these events, The Hill reports.

    http://fortune.com/2017/11/07/yahoo-marissa-mayer-subpoena-testify-senate/

  • New tools help could help prevent Amazon S3 data leaks

    Today, AWS announced a new set of five tools designed to protect customers from themselves and ensure (to the extent possible) that the data in S3 is encrypted and safe.

    For starters, the company is giving the option of default encryption. That means every object that gets moved into an S3 bucket will have encryption on by default. What’s more, this will happen without admins having to construct a rejected bucket for unencrypted files. It’s not exactly foolproof, but it gives admins a good solid way to ensure the data is always encrypted in a much smoother way than before.

    If that’s not enough, Amazon is putting a signal front and center on the administrative console that warns admins with a prominent indicator next to each S3 bucket that has been left open to the public. If something slips through the cracks at the end user level, this should at least give admins an additional level of protection that something is amiss.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/07/new-tools-help-could-help-prevent-amazon-s3-data-leaks/

  • Equifax CEO to Congress: Not Sure We Are Encrypting Data

    But Mr. Barros stumbled when asked by Sen. Cory Gardner (R., Colo) whether Equifax was now encrypting the consumer data it stored on its computers—a basic step in hiding sensitive information from hackers, and one the company previously had admitted it didn’t take before the breach.

    “I don’t know at this stage,” Mr. Barros said.

    The answer was disappointing, said Avivah Litan, an analyst with the research firm Gartner Inc. “He should have asked his staff that the day he took over,” she said.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/equifax-ceo-to-congress-not-sure-we-are-encrypting-data-1510180486

Other

  • Salesforce CEO dismisses Microsoft as a competitor

    You know, look. They’re 1 percent of the CRM market. You know the numbers. I like having competitors. But what I just get blown away with is how they just can’t keep, you know, that management team in place. They just keep leaving Microsoft. You know that. And I think they don’t have confidence in that ability to execute in that business. So that has weighed to our favor, and customers feel that.

    You know because you go to these conferences just like I do. There is no conference like this that they do and that’s the — in my opinion, the mark. That is — why is it that they don’t have anything like this? That when they put on a conference like something — it’s always the resellers who come together, and then — where are these people? Now, that isn’t to say they don’t have, like, Build, where they get these really high-end developers using the IDE. You know what I mean? Is that the conference I’ve been to where I’m like, Oh, yeah, these are all the — and they’re all Windows — they have a Windows fever. And they have Windows API fever at the conference. But I haven’t seen that in any other part of their business, other than the Windows API. Maybe they’ll get it in Azure — I don’t know. But I haven’t seen that yet. Because the last time that I went to the conference, I didn’t see that. I only see that fever around the Windows API. And the Surface laptop.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/08/salesforce-ceo-dismisses-microsoft-as-a-competitor.html

  • IBM’s Ginni Rometty: Comfort and growth will never co-exist

    Today, IBM has 10,000 staff working with clients on design thinking and 1200 doing work internally. “That started us on the journey of getting to that business-to-person approach,” she said.

    To answer the question of whether IBM could be big as well as fast, the business commenced on an agile journey where small multidisciplinary teams work to produce a minimum viable product and iterate.

    “What I realised is that our employees can’t work faster unless we changed the way they work,” Rometty said. Today, 200,000 employees are doing agile, a change that led to 170 building renovations globally, and a rethink of appraisal systems.

    https://www.cmo.com.au/article/629768/ibm-ginni-rometty-comfort-growth-can-never-co-exist/

Photo: Jon Asato

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Supplier Report: 11/3/2017

Masayoshi Son and John Legere are still playing this whole “will they or won’t they” merger game with TMobile and Sprint. Earlier this week it was off and now parties are coming back to the table.

Amazon also had some drama this week due to news breaking that a British public servant may have influenced the decision to purchase AWS services before taking a lucrative job with the company.

HPE is leaving their historic offices in Palo Alto and downsizing to an Aruba office in Santa Clara.  HP, who once employed over 100,000 employees in the area, has reduced staff to approximately 45,000 globally due to restructuring and asset sell-offs.

Acquisitions

  • Sprint owner SoftBank may be calling off T-Mobile merger

    According to Nikkei, SoftBank and T-Mobile’s owner Deutsche Telekom had reached a broad agreement to integrate the two major US carriers, but couldn’t work out an ownership ratio that satisfied both companies.

    Nikkei’s sources indicate that SoftBank board members decided to call the talks off on Monday, after a Friday meeting where executives determined “the company would not give up control.” SoftBank is reportedly expected to propose to Deutsche Telekom on Tuesday that they end negotiations.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/30/sprint-owner-softbank-may-be-calling-off-t-mobile-merger/
    Update: T-Mobile, Sprint Working to Salvage Merger

    T-Mobile made a revised offer, which Sprint is considering, some of the people said. Terms of the new offer were unclear. The two sides could reach a deal within weeks, the people said, but the two companies could still fail to agree on deal terms.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/t-mobile-sprint-working-to-salvage-merger-1509658235

Artificial Intelligence

  • IBM Watson digs deep on data to pave the way for enterprise AI apps

    By 2018, nearly 75% of developers will build AI functionality into their apps, according to an IDC report. However, this requires wading through increasingly complex data that lives in different places, and must be continually and securely ingested, according to an IBM press release.

    In response to this challenge, Watson will now include data cataloging and data refining, to improve data visibility and better enforce data security policies so that users can more easily share information across public and private cloud environments.

    In addition to the Watson news, IBM also announced plans to extend its Unified Governance Platform with new capabilities, to help companies prepare for increasing governance and regulatory requirements, such as GDPR. They include the ability to have a single view of the Unified Governance Catalog for both structured and unstructured information. It also modified the look of its Datastage Designer with a cognitive design that can recognize and suggest usage patterns, to speed the development of data integration flows.

    https://www.techrepublic.com/article/ibm-watson-digs-deep-on-data-to-pave-the-way-for-enterprise-ai-apps/

Cloud

  • IBM kills Bluemix, a year after killing SoftLayer

    On Tuesday this week the company changed it again, announcing that “Bluemix is now IBM Cloud”.

    The company’s rationale is that “we are merging the Bluemix brand with IBM Cloud brand since they’ve grown to be synonymous.”

    Everything IBM does in the cloud comes under the new brand: Watson, PaaS, SaaS – the works.

    There’s not much more to the change than branding: the company promises all the stuff currently labelled “Bluemix” will keep running.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/02/ibm_renames_bluemix_ibm_cloud/

  • Protecting our Google Docs and Drive Users

    On Tuesday, October 31, we mistakenly blocked access to some of our users’ files, including Google Docs. This was due to a short-lived bug that incorrectly flagged some files as violating our terms of service (TOS). The blocking raised questions in the community and we would like to address those questions here.

    Tuesday’s bug caused the Google Docs and Drive services to misinterpret the response from these protection systems and erroneously mark some files as TOS violations, thus causing access denials for users of those files. As soon as our teams identified the problem, we removed the bug and worked to restore access to all affected files.

    https://www.blog.google/products/docs/protecting-our-google-docs-and-drive-users/

  • Microsoft, Oracle, IBM look to lure cloud services customers with new pay structure

    Traditionally, companies would ink large software deals based on factors such as the number of a customer’s devices – and not actual subsequent use of the products.The cloud business is a crucial growth area for the traditional enterprise technology pioneers, battling against rivals Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google. The public cloud services global market is likely to increase more than 18 percent to $260.2 billion this year and almost double to $411 billion in 2020, according to Gartner Inc Microsoft, for example, said last week it had generated $20.4 billion in commercial cloud revenue on an annualized basis.

    Tying usage to sales incentives should help keep customers on board when it’s time to agree to a new contract, said Stephen White, an analyst with Gartner. “The behaviors of the salespeople need to be more in tune with what a customer actually is going to need and use,” White said. “It certainly makes the renewal discussion easier.”Oracle and IBM declined to comment. Previously, Microsoft had been bundling cloud services, such as Azure for storing and running data and cloud applications, with many of its multiyear deals. Althoff said the shift in pay incentives is a significant change.

    http://indianexpress.com/article/technology/microsoft-oracle-ibm-look-to-enhance-cloud-services-customers-with-new-pay-structure-4919296/

Datacenter

  • Microsoft Turns up the Heat on Oracle, Amazon, and IBM Databases

    While transitioning database platforms is still a significant task to undertake and the cost can still be high even if the tool is free, Microsoft knows that as companies look to move away from on-premises to cloud services, that’s a natural time to consider migrating. By offering this tool now, as more companies work to plan out the future (or lack of future) for their own local metal, the offer may entice some to leave their old db tech behind.

    Microsoft has become much more aggressive in this space in the past few years as the company looks to position its technology, both software and hardware (Azure) ahead of legacy competitors like Oracle and IBM. The reason for this is that they are trying to catch up to the next generation of service providers, like Amazon, and by using their own tools and tech as a leverage, it’s fostering the growth of Azure.

    https://www.petri.com/microsoft-turns-heat-oracle-amazon-ibm-databases

  • HPE to move HQ from Palo Alto to Santa Clara as it consolidates Silicon Valley footprint

    After two years of massive restructuring and staff reductions, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is selling its headquarters on land it has owned in Palo Alto, California since 1957, the company announced on Thursday.

    The headquarters will move to nearby Santa Clara, at a new 23,000 square-foot office complex originally built to house Aruba, a company acquired by HPE in 2015. Some of the staff will also move to existing offices in San Jose and Milpitas.

    HPE wouldn’t disclose how many people work in Silicon Valley, but the company has around 45,000 employees globally.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/hpe-selling-palo-alto-headquarters-move-santa-clara-2017-11

    Make sure you update those purchase orders!

Other

  • The continuous flow of execs between AWS, Microsoft, IBM and government

    According to a report in the Times today, the Home Office’s former chief digital officer, Norman Driskell, took a job with Amazon Web Services (AWS) without gaining the necessary approvals first – a trend that has been highlighted by the National Audit Office in recent months as a concern.

    Driskell oversaw multimillion pound contracts with AWS during his time at the Home Office and has also set up one of Europe’s largest AWS user groups in his spare time, before taking up the job as a public sector lead with the cloud hosting giant.

    https://diginomica.com/2017/10/30/continuing-flow-execs-aws-microsoft-ibm-government/
    A senior civil servant with a £130,000 salary reportedly breached transparency rules when he quit and joined Amazon

    The Home Office reportedly paid the US firm £1.2 million in the 18 months prior to Driskell’s departure, which happened in November 2016. In February 2017, just three months later, the Home Office awarded AWS a two-year contract worth £4.8 million, according to The Times.

    Under the new contract, the Home Office will reportedly move immigration data from a remote provider to an “in-house AWS solution.”

    http://www.businessinsider.com/chief-digital-officer-ignored-rules-quit-government-joined-amazozn-2017-10

  • IBM Elects Two New Members to Its Board of Directors

    Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer, said: “Joe Swedish and Rick Waddell are distinguished leaders in their fields, and we are delighted to add their insights and leadership to the IBM board. Mr. Swedish brings experience as a transformational leader in health care in both the payer and provider space, and Mr. Waddell’s experience enhances the strong financial services expertise on the board. Their perspectives on contemporary business issues and their experience running data-intensive enterprises will be an asset to IBM and to our shareholders.”

    http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171031005218/en/Intnl-Bus.-Mach-UK-Regulatory-Announcement-IBM

  • SoftBank, Facebook, and Amazon commit to 8,700-mile transpacific subsea cable system

    Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank is joining forces with Facebook, Amazon, and a number of other technology companies to build a new 14,000 km (8,700 mile) transpacific subsea cable connecting Asia with North America.

    The Jupiter cable system will have two landing points in Japan — at Shima in the Mie prefecture and at Maruyama in the Chiba prefecture — as well as one at Daet in the Philippines and one near Los Angeles in the U.S.

    https://venturebeat.com/2017/10/30/softbank-facebook-and-amazon-commit-to-8700-mile-transpacific-internet-cable/

  • Amazon’s HQ2 could go to Washington D.C., where it has over 500 job openings, says analyst

    While it remains unclear what city Amazon will pick, analysts at Baird Equity Research believe Washington D.C. has one major edge over others: current number of job openings.

    As of last Friday, Washington D.C. had 531 corporate jobs available, the most after Seattle and the San Francisco-Bay Area. If you exclude West Coast cities, and use current job openings density as an important measure for Amazon’s HQ2 criteria, Washington D.C. would be a front-runner to win the bid, Baird Equity Research wrote in a note Monday.

    “We view this as relevant to the HQ2 search, as Amazon might prioritize locations based on already having a sizable non-fulfillment workforce,” the note said.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/30/amazon-hq2-washington-dc-possible-given-job-openings.html

  • Just Think: What Amazon Could Do to the Pharmacy Business

    Noticing that an Amazon customer seems to be taking an awful lot of medication to lose weight, the company might pitch fitness machines or online yoga classes. But it could also provide entertainment suggestions—free with that Prime account—that would go nicely with the state of your health. If Amazon can tell from all that Xanax you’re ordering that you seem to be having a hard time, it might recommend video offerings like “Love, Actually” or “8 Hours: Ocean Lights & Whale Songs.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/just-think-what-amazon-could-do-to-the-pharmacy-business-1509639035

Photo: Joey Kyber

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SourceCast: Episode 91: Is Microsoft turning into IBM?

On the October 13th Supplier Report, I pondered if Microsoft is becoming the new IBM. I am going deeper on the topic on this episode of SourceCast. I look at Microsoft’s recent success in cloud and their failures in mobile and other streaming services and try to find parallels to IBM’s current market condition.

Photo: Ross Findon

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Supplier Report: 10/13/2017

Artificial Intelligence is all the rage… and from a business perspective, it seems that consumer goods are innovating and reaching users faster than enterprise counterparts.  Between home assistants, ear buds with live translations, and advanced facial recognition – consumers have plenty of advances, but only 20% of large business have dabbled in AI/process automation.

With the announcement that Windows Mobile is dead, Microsoft seems to be running away from the consumer market. Last week, I said Microsoft is becoming the new IBM, but how do they prevent following in IBM’s fate?

Equifax might still be having security issues while Accenture recently experienced a significant data breach (which was completely self-inflicted).

Acquisitions

  • DXC Technology To Acquire Logicalis SMC To Boost Global ServiceNow Practice

    Logicalis SMC, a service management consultancy specialist that was the first European company to become a ServiceNow Master Solutions partner, will join DXC’s ServiceNow practice within Fruition Partners, a DXC Technology company and a leading global ServiceNow platform.

    http://www.crn.com/news/channel-programs/300093636/dxc-technology-to-acquire-logicalis-smc-to-boost-global-servicenow-practice.htm

  • SoftBank Leads $164 Million Bet on Digital-Mapping Startup Mapbox

    The Japanese investor, which has stakes in many ride-hailing services, is leading a $164 million investment in Mapbox Inc., a startup that provides mapping and location-search technology to a variety of companies including Snap Inc. and General Electric Co.

    The money comes from SoftBank’s nearly $100 billion tech-focused Vision Fund as well as several venture-capital firms including Foundry Group, DFJ Growth, DBL Partners and Thrive Capital. Mapbox said it would expand its efforts into autonomous cars and augmented and virtual reality and will accelerate international expansion, including in China.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/softbank-leads-164-million-bet-on-digital-mapping-startup-mapbox-1507640404
    SoftBank is investing in Uber, their Asian competitors, telecoms like Sprint and TMobile, and now they are investing in a mapping company that will feed those other companies a needed service.

Artificial Intelligence/Robotics

  • Google’s Pixel Buds translation will change the world

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/04/google-pixel-buds-translation-change-the-world/
  • Adidas will finally start selling shoes made by its robot factory

    The robot factory Adidas built in Germany is now fully functional and ready to start making the first Speedfactory shoe that will be sold to the public. Adidas has revealed that it plans to use its Speedfactory’s robots to manufacture a series of Adidas Made For (AM4) kicks designed specifically for six of the world’s biggest metropolises.

    The AM4 models are all lightweight and designed using athlete data to conjure up the most comfortable shape and form. If you want to see what Speedfactory’s robot workers are capable of, check out Futurecraft M.F.G. — it’s the very first model out of the facility, though it was never released to the general public.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/05/adidas-speedfactory-made-for-shoes/

Cloud

  • Microsoft and AWS could be the strangest cloud bedfellows yet

    Microsoft and AWS announced they were working on a project together.

    Project Gluon is an open source, deep learning project for building, deploying and managing machine learning models. It’s worth noting that AWS and Microsoft compete fiercely in the cloud market. In fact, they each have artificial intelligence toolkits that they are trying to sell customers, yet in this instance they saw it in their mutual best interest to work together instead of competing.

    Gluon is one of the big steps ahead in taking out some of the grunt work in developing AI systems by bringing together training algorithms and neural network models, two of the key components in a deep learning system.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/12/microsoft-and-aws-could-be-the-strangest-cloud-bedfellows-yet/?ncid=rss

  • Dell outlines IoT strategy, plans to spend $1 billion on R&D over three years

    Dell Technologies launched a new Internet of things division to integrate products and services across the company, new tools to speed up implementations and plans to invest $1 billion in research and development over the next three years.

    The new division within Dell Technologies will be run by VMware CTO Ray O’Farrell. His first mission will be to develop IoT products and services throughout the company and develop new technologies.

    http://www.zdnet.com/article/dell-outlines-iot-strategy-plans-to-spend-1-billion-on-r-d-over-three-years/

Datacenter

  • Microsoft just purchased all of GE’s newest Irish wind farm capacity for the next 15 years

    This is a big deal on several levels. First of all, it means Microsoft will be using a clean energy source to power at least some of its cloud data centers in Ireland. That will likely result in a lower energy bill for Microsoft, while reducing the pollution related to running cloud services.

    But this could have an impact beyond the data centers as Microsoft and GE are working on a battery technology that captures excess energy from each wind turbine. If there is excess capacity captured by this method, Microsoft and GE could give it back to the Irish energy grid.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/09/microsoft-just-purchased-all-of-ges-newest-irish-wind-farm-capacity-for-the-next-15-years/?ncid=rss

Software/SaaS

  • Oracle’s Entrance: Database Giant Unveils Enterprise Blockchain Strategy

    The company wants to attract both large and small firms, but Frank Xiong, Oracle’s group vice president of Blockchain Cloud Service, argued that startups looking to test a smart contract or an application will be able to do so more cheaply using the cloud platform because pricing is based on transaction volume.

    “This will give them a very good reasonably priced way to start up their application,” he told CoinDesk. “I personally think this will be a big attraction to these startups.”

    For existing ERP customers, the platform will provide a way to connect with outside partners and customers, plugging them into internal channels and processes in a confidential and secure manner.

    https://www.coindesk.com/oracles-entrance-database-giant-unveils-enterprise-blockchain-strategy/

  • Regulate Facebook Like AIM

    Sixteen years ago, the FCC, the regulatory body responsible for things like television and radio, approved a merger between American Online and Time Warner, but with several conditions. As part of the deal, AOL was required to make its web portal compatible with other chat apps.

    The government stopped AOL from building a closed system where everyone had to use AIM, meaning it had to adopt interoperability—the ability to be compatible with other computer systems.

    The FCC required AOL to be compatible with at least one instant messaging rival immediately after the merger went through. Within six months, the FCC required AOL to make its portal compatible with at least two other rivals, or face penalties.

    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/mb7n7v/aim-aol-instant-messenger-regulation-facebook-ending

Security

  • Accenture left a huge trove of highly sensitive data on exposed servers

    The servers, hosted on Amazon’s S3 storage service, contained hundreds of gigabytes of data for the company’s enterprise cloud offering, which the company claims provides support to the majority of the Fortune 100.

    The data could be downloaded without a password by anyone who knew the servers’ web addresses.

    Chris Vickery, director of cyber risk research at security firm UpGuard, found the data and privately told Accenture of the exposure in mid-September. The four servers were quietly secured the next day.

    Also:

    Vickery said he also found Accenture’s master keys for its Amazon Web Service’s Key Management System (KMS), which if stolen could allow an attacker full control over the company’s encrypted data stored on Amazon’s servers.

    http://www.zdnet.com/article/accenture-left-a-huge-trove-of-client-passwords-on-exposed-servers/

  • Russia Has Turned Kaspersky Software Into Tool for Spying

    The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Russian hackers used Kaspersky’s software in 2015 to target a contractor working for the National Security Agency, who had removed classified materials from his workplace and put them on his home computer, which was running the program. The hackers stole highly classified information on how the NSA conducts espionage and protects against incursions by other countries, said people familiar with the matter. An NSA spokesman didn’t comment on the security breach.

    Kaspersky Lab, founded by an engineer trained at a KGB technical school, has long insisted that it doesn’t assist the Russian government with spying on other countries. But many U.S. officials now think the evidence the U.S. has collected shows the company is a witting partner, said people familiar with the matter.

    “There is no way, based on what the software was doing, that Kaspersky couldn’t have known about this,” said a former U.S. official with knowledge of information gleaned in 2015 about how the software was used to search for American secrets. He said the nature of the software is such that it would have had to be programmed to look for specific keywords, and Kaspersky’s employees likely would have known that was happening, this former official said.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-hackers-scanned-networks-world-wide-for-secret-u-s-data-1507743874
    Also: Israeli intelligence discovered that Kaspersky was working with the Russian government. See SourceCast Episode 90 to learn more.

  • Equifax may have been hacked again

    Unfortunately, the company still seems to be lacking when it comes to security, because according to Ars Technica, it’s been hacked yet again. Independent security analyst Randy Abrams told Ars that he was redirected to hxxp:centerbluray.info and was met with a Flash download when he went to equifax.com to contest a false info on his credit report.

    The fake Flash installer apparently tricks people into downloading what Symantec identifies as Adware.Eorezo, an adware that inundates Internet Explorer with advertisements. Unfortunately, we can’t replicate the problem, but Abrams said he encountered the issue on three separate visits.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/12/equifax-hacked-again/

Other

  • Google parent Alphabet looks to restore cell service in Puerto Rico with Project Loon balloons

    Loon was developed by X, part of Alphabet’s innovation group.  It was able to help Peru earlier this year, amidst significant flooding and hopes to replicate this success. Yet before it proceeds with its plans in Puerto Rico, Loon needs to find a carrier network to partner with. Loon had already been working with Telefonica in Peru, which sped up the process.

    The Loon project consists of a network of high altitude balloons that rise like weather balloons to a height above 60,000 feet. Loon balloons are designed to “ride the wind” to get to a destination and are super-pressurized to withstand for over 100 days in the stratosphere.

    Signals are transmitted directly to LTE-enabled devices and are routed through a local carrier, and the balloons are raised and lowered to an altitude with winds blowing in the desired direction.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/07/google-parent-alphabet-looks-to-restore-cell-service-in-puerto-rico-with-project-loon-balloons/?ncid=rss

  • Amazon is on the brink of deciding if it will make a big move into selling drugs online

    The company will decide before Thanksgiving whether to move into selling prescription drugs online, according to an email from Amazon viewed by CNBC and a source familiar with the situation. If it decides to make that move, it will start expanding its senior team with drug supply chain experts.

    Amazon typically spends years researching opportunities before it telegraphs its intentions. The opportunity to sell drugs online is alluring given its market size — analysts have estimated the U.S. prescription drug market at $560 billion per year. Amazon is well aware of the complexities, say sources familiar with the company’s thinking.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/06/amazon-considering-selling-online-prescriptions-decision-coming-soon.html

  • IBM Should Cut Down On Outsourcing To India

    Outsourcing provides certain competitive advantages to early-movers – that is, to companies that adopt it first — but it isn’t proprietary. Others can adopt it, and therefore, isn’t a source of sustainable competitive advantage.

    Then there’s corporate complacency whereby leadership of these companies fails to renew the pioneering drive that characterizes market leaders.

    That’s what eventually happened in the PC industry, to companies like the old HP.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2017/10/06/ibm-should-cut-down-on-outsourcing-to-india/#57288b0e4116

  • This is not a drill: Microsoft admits Windows Phone is dead for real

    It’s time to say goodbye for real this time. Windows Phone’s death has been slow and painful, but, as CNET spotted, the head of Microsoft’s Windows division finally admitted you shouldn’t expect anything more when it comes to Windows Phone.

    Microsoft doesn’t plan to let existing Windows Phone users down — there will be security updates. But don’t expect anything new. Joe Belfiore admitted that Microsoft isn’t working on any software or hardware update.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/09/this-is-not-a-drill-microsoft-admits-windows-phone-is-dead-for-real/?ncid=rss

  • Oracle names IBM as strategic HR BPO provider

    Without specifically mentioning it IBM also brings several additional technical benefits to the table. The first is IBM Kenexa a competitor to Oracle’s Taleo it delivers more than just applicant tracking. Possibly of greater interest though is the cognitive computing stack that IBM offers in Watson. While Oracle has just launched its augmented intelligence and machine learning capabilities IBM already has some point solutions such as IBM Watson Talent. It will be interesting to see which customers use IBM’s BPO services with Oracle HCM Cloud.

    https://www.enterprisetimes.co.uk/2017/10/11/oracle-names-ibm-as-strategic-hr-bpo-provider/

    This is really odd. Oracle has never had much of a consulting presence to speak of, but the IBM selection who has been culling their global services business and focusing on automation is very odd.

Photo: Andy Kelly

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