Investment firm Jefferies trashed IBM’s AI platform last week while other competitors like OpenText swooped in to kick Big Blue while she was down. This week, I discuss IBM’s options and if Jefferies’ critiques are accurate.
IBM is coming under fire by Jefferies and competitor OpenText over their AI success (or lack of it). Jefferies says IBM customers are suffering from complicated implementations and OpenText claims that their AI platform is better and cheaper.
Google is hoping to leverage AI technology to make the world a better place. And what better way to improve the world than to buy a small AI company in India (…that does have a social focus).
Meanwhile Verizon made the world a slightly worse place by announcing a security breach that could impact up to 14 million customers.
Google’s new AI acquisition aims to fix developing world problems
While Halli Labs is still in its infancy, the company’s founder — Pankaj Gupta — is a data scientist who has worked at Twitter as well as defunct Indian Airbnb competitor Stayzilla. Google buying AI firms is hardly shocking news, but the tech giant’s focus on expanding into developing markets is what separates this from other recent acquisitions. With Google previously introducing region-specific offline versions of apps and even installing Wi-Fi into Indian train stations, the tech behemoth has already shown its interest in making life easier for the country’s growing population of internet users.
End-to-end IT services company DXC Technology has acquired Tribridge, a software services and cloud solutions company, and Concerto Cloud Services, ribridge’s hybrid solutions and advisory services affiliate. Under the purchase agreement, effective on the date of acquisition, Tribridge has been renamed Tribridge, a DXC Technology Company. Concerto Cloud Services will go to market as DXC Concerto. Financial terms of the purchase were not disclosed. Tribridge is one of the largest independent integrators of Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Micro Focus’s executive chairman has dismissed a sharp drop in the technology company’s shares as investors nervously approached its huge takeover of Hewlett Packard’s software division.
The FTSE 100 group’s share price fell by 8.1pc despite its full-year results being in line with market expectations, with shareholders wavering ahead of the $8.8bn (£6.8bn) acquisition of HP Enterprise Software, an arm of the US tech giant.
The takeover, which is due to go through on September 1, will be one of Britain’s biggest ever technology deals, with the HP business accounting for more than half of the combined company’s revenues.
Microsoft to use AI to assist the blind, fix bias, and rescue the planet
In order to make sure that further developments are pursued in the proper fashion—accessible and inclusive to everyone—Microsoft also noted that it is working on an Ethical Design Guide for AI product development, based on CEO Satya Nadella’s 10 principles for AI development.
“As technology that uses AI gets smarter, we want to ensure that we take a responsible approach to our progress – and one that will ultimately provide the most benefit to our customers and to society as a whole,” Shum said at the event.
Jefferies gives IBM Watson a Wall Street reality check
Jefferies pulls from an audit of a partnership between IBM Watson and MD Anderson as a case study for IBM’s broader problems scaling Watson. MD Anderson cut its ties with IBM after wasting $60 million on a Watson project that was ultimately deemed, “not ready for human investigational or clinical use.”
The MD Anderson nightmare doesn’t stand on its own. I regularly hear from startup founders in the AI space that their own financial services and biotech clients have had similar experiences working with IBM.
The narrative isn’t the product of any single malfunction, but rather the result of overhyped marketing, deficiencies in operating with deep learning and GPUs and intensive data preparation demands.
Kisner compiles his own estimates for Watson and finds them “somewhat disappointing for investors,” with IBM in the best scenario “barely recouping its cost of capital.”
“From an EPS perspective, it seems unlikely to us under almost any scenario that Watson will generate meaningful earnings results over the next few years,” he writes. “In our Base case, Watson and associated “pull-through revenue” contributes 3% to Consensus EPS in 2019; in the Bull case, it’s still only 5%.”
OpenText launches Magellan, an AI platform aimed at IBM’s Watson
OpenText is using an open source approach with Magellan with integration with Apache Spark and MLlib, a machine learning library. “We are combining the strengths of OpenText and the open source community,” said Adam Howatson, chief marketing officer at OpenText.
Magellan’s approach will be to enable customers to leverage open source intellectual property and algorithms as well enabling companies to build their own models. Howatson added that OpenText’s Magellan platform will have a lower price point, be available as an appliance and be available on premises or via the cloud.
In a press conference following the announcement, Channelnomics asked Barrenechea how opportunities Magellan enables for resellers differs from those enabled by IBM Watson. The CEO responded by saying that while he’s doubtful of the idea of robots resulting in the loss of IT jobs, buying IBM technology may yield a different result.
“I do think you lose your job if you buy IBM, and it’s our mission to crush that theme,” Barrenechea said. “That old adage ‘If you buy IBM you won’t lose your job’, I think, is dead. They are locked into their little swim lanes, and opening up insights into all those transactional systems is going to be very hard for them. It’s certainly proving to be massively expensive.”
The CEO claimed that IBM Watson’s information lake is a “swamp of data”, adding that Magellan is different in its centric applications, focus on automation, AI and APIs and integration between transaction and AI system.
Workday finally pops for a PaaS – 10 questions it needs to answer
In an unusual move, Aneel Bhusri Workday CEO took to the company’s blog to announce an intention for Workday to offer a platform upon which partners can extend the core Workday applications.
If we take the example of Salesforce, that company has never had intentions of entering certain verticals or, for that matter, certain horizontals but by offering a platform (Force.com) upon which developers can knock themselves out, Salesforce has spawned a multi-billion dollar ecosystem from which it too benefits. The most immediate examples that spring to mind are Apttus in CPQ, FinancialForce in financials and Rootstock in manufacturing, all of which are built upon Salesforce’s PaaS.
The $67-billion deal closed last September, so the new partnership is still in its very early stages, but early indications are that the arrangement hasn’t yet fared well, said Will Mitchell, a professor of strategic management at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
“It doesn’t mean that he can’t turn it around, but it better happen fast,” Mitchell said of Dell Founder, Chairman and CEO Michael Dell.
Dell’s losses have actually only grown since the EMC deal went through. The company lost $1.5 billion In the first quarter of fiscal 2018, which ended in May. In the same quarter the year prior, Dell lost $139 million.
HPE wants to grow again, announces new products and services to do it
Whitman said that, according to IDC, more than half of enterprises have, or are considering bringing workloads back on-prem from the public cloud, thanks to what she referred to as the cloud cliff.
“The cloud is absolutely the right choice for certain applications and use cases,” she said. But at some point, “they hit what we call the cloud cliff, where either for reasons of control, security, performance or cost, the platform they went with is no longer the best option.” That’s when moving to a hybrid environment makes sense.
While HPE has spun off its enterprise services into DXC, it still retains a robust technology services organization. Now branded Pointnext, HPE says it “helps customers harness the power of hybrid IT, real-time data and analytics, and mobile solutions to enhance customer experiences, create and deliver new digital product and services, and improve core operations at unprecedented speed and efficiency.”
Given the low level of blockchain maturity in general, as well as specific IBM blockchain projects (more on these in the succeeding sections) being in their initial stages, it is too early to assess revenue from specific solutions. However, given the traction that IBM’s cloud-as-a-service offering seems to be getting with over 400 client engagements, blockchain has the potential to become one of the fastest-growing sources of revenue starting in 2017, when many of the first IBM enterprise applications are scheduled to roll out.
Google has paid professors whose papers, for instance, declared that the collection of consumer data was a fair exchange for its free services; that the company didn’t use its market dominance to improperly steer users to Google’s commercial sites or its advertisers; and that it hasn’t unfairly quashed competitors. Several papers argued that Google’s search engine should be allowed to link to books and other intellectual property that authors and publishers say should be paid for—a group that includes News Corp, which owns the Journal. News Corp formally complained to European regulators about Google’s handling of news articles in search results.
Microsoft CIO Jim DuBois departs amid layoffs; Kurt DelBene named chief digital officer
DuBois was on sabbatical and decided to leave Microsoft as part of the reorganization of its global sales staff, which also includes thousands of job cuts. DuBois was named CIO in 2013, and he had been with Microsoft since 1993, where he worked in a variety of roles, mostly focused on information technology.
Kurt DelBene is stepping up to fill the void of DuBois’ departure under his new title of chief digital officer. DelBene currently focuses on corporate strategy, and his new role will also see him working closely with core engineering teams across the company as well as IT. DelBene will also oversee the company’s digital transformation efforts.
Microsoft’s Calibri font is at the center of a political scandal
Pakistan’s government is in trouble. And its fate may hinge on a Microsoft font. Judicial investigators probing the financial assets of the country’s Prime Minister and his family allege his daughter (and apparent successor) forged documents to hide her ownership of overseas properties. How did they reach that conclusion? The documents from 2006 submitted by Maryam Nawaz (daughter of PM Nawaz Sharif) were in the Calibri font. That font, according to the investigation team’s leaked report, wasn’t publicly available until 2007.
Accenture handed $26M in Centrelink payments system overhaul
Accenture Australia has been granted just over $26 million by the Government for the provision of systems integration services as part of the Department of Human Services’ landmark Centrelink payments system overhaul.
Accenture’s latest purchase order for the project, the contract terms of which run from 26 May to 28 February 2018, was awarded via the Department of Human Service’s ‘Systems integrators for the provision of services related to WPIT [Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation]’ procurement panel, according to tender documents.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown. As Amazon’s AWS services continue to dominate the cloud sector, many analysts are reporting their lack of SaaS offerings as the chink in their armor.
Amazon is not alone in their weakness, poor sales is rumored to be forcing Oracle to eliminate jobs in the traditional software areas as they start to build up for their fight against AWS.
IBM’s good news regarding cloud growth is coming at a cost as the company announced a major reorganization in the cloud and power divisions.
AppDynamics Acquired for $3.7 Billion
What AppDynamics gives Cisco is a tool for monitoring the performance of applications, regardless the application delivery platform. The idea is to find issues and deal with them before they become a big problem for end users. The worst case is a full outage, but there are countless other issues that can cause slow-downs and other headaches, as every user is keenly aware. As it monitors these applications, AppDynamics is gathering tons of data about the applications, the connections to other systems, the devices being used to connect to the application and so forth. All of this data is a natural byproduct of the monitoring process — and could have great value when combined with other network information.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise makes second acquisition in a week
Cloud Cruiser makes software that helps large companies visualize how and where their IT budget is being spent across different business units and different technology platforms. Its software can analyze changes in spending and ways specific business units might be able to save money.
The Flexible Capacity services offering allows customers to buy HPE private cloud infrastructure as a service based on the same monthly, fixed-fee, pay-as-you-go model that has fueled public cloud adoption. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
IBM Acquires Agile 3, Makers Of A Security Dashboard For Business Leaders
Agile 3, founded in 2009, offers a suite of products that help business leaders make decisions about security threats facing their companies through intuitive visualizations and analytics. The software design is heavily influenced by service-oriented architecture principles.
Agile 3’s founder, Raghu Varadan, had been IBM’s chief architect for its SOA Center of Excellence, and was responsible for implementing service-oriented architecture solutions for the IBM Global Business Services division’s largest customers.
Yahoo surprises no one by pushing back its Verizon acquisition close date
Yahoo has continued to work with Verizon on integration planning for the sale of its core business. In terms of timing, Yahoo had previously stated that it expected to close the transaction in Q1. However, given work required to meet closing conditions, the transaction is now expected to close in Q2 of 2017. The company is working expeditiously to close the transaction as soon as practicable in Q2.
IBM adds support for Google’s Tensorflow to its PowerAI machine learning framework
While TensorFlow has only been available for a little over a year, it has quickly become the most popular open source machine learning project on GitHub. IBM’s PowerAI already supported other frameworks and libraries like CAFFETheano, Torch, cuDNN, and NVIDIA DIGITS, but Tensorflow support was sorely missing from this lineup.
IBM clearly sees the combination of PowerAI with Nvidia’s NVLink interface and Pascal P100 GPU accelerators as a way to differentiate itself from the competition — and in this case, the competition it is gunning for is clearly Intel (though it’s worth noting that Intel and Google also recently teamed up to improve TensorFlow performance on its CPUs).
Apple joins Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft in AI initiative
The Partnership on AI was officially unveiled back in September 2016. At the time, Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft were the only founding members. Apple, Twitter, Intel and Baidu didn’t participate in the initiative.
But Apple was already enthusiastic about the project, so today’s news is more about formalizing the company’s involvement. Siri co-founder and CTO Tom Gruber is going to represent Apple. You can find the full board of trustees on the partnership’s website.
Will A.I. Allow Humans to Realize Our Full Potential?
IBM’s SoftLayer is having a meltdown – and customers aren’t happy
“Since IBM came along there have been loads of outages, planned and otherwise,” our reader in the field told us.
“In the three years of service prior to this we had only one outage, in the six months after they took over we have had one outage that knocked out their AMS [Amsterdam] data center for four hours, [and] their entire global virtual server platform has had to be rebooted three times on separate occasions.”
Vice president and director of IBM research Arvind Krishna has been named senior vice president of Hybrid Cloud, which is a merger between the analytics business formerly run by Picciano, and the cloud division formerly run by LeBlanc. Krishna will report to John Kelly, senior vice president of Cognitive Solutions and IBM Research.
During the most recent quarter Amazon reported $3.231 billion in quarterly revenues while Microsoft’s annualized cloud revenues exceeded $13 billion. At first glance, it would appear that both these companies are running neck and neck when it comes to earnings from cloud, but Microsoft has a huge bonus package in the form of its SaaS product, Office 365, which is experiencing strong growth.
Though Azure is certainly growing at a healthy rate, it has a long way to go before it can compete at the same level as the IaaS offering from Amazon. Amazon has no such SaaS product lineup but still leads the race in terms of revenue thanks to its strength in IaaS. The company’s single-segment focus has helped Amazon add service after service and keep cutting prices, but still expand revenues – and margins along with it.
“Oracle should be congratulated for its enthusiasm and the proactive way it is pursuing the cloud market,” says Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT, adding that the company was late to the market. Oracle has taken a similar approach to Microsoft and IBM in offering services across all three layers of cloud: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. “They still have a massive install base of customers that want cloud services. The question is whether they will choose Oracle as their cloud vendor as opposed to vendors they may be currently working with, or choosing to go with a more established, more innovative vendor.” King adds Oracle’s cloud will appeal most to existing customers, but he questions how the company will be able to attract net new brands.
HP Inc announces moderate price hike across products
“HP is increasing the list price of its products in India. As a standard business practice, the company regularly reviews pricing and makes adjustments accordingly, based on a variety of factors including currency movement and commodities prices. Actual price increases will vary by product,” Rajiv Srivastava, Managing Director, HP Inc. India, told IANS.
Infinidat slims down in UK: Storage upstart has just handful of Brit staff
Infinidat has slimmed its UK office from 17 heads to just four since January 2016, and has not won a new customer in that time, we’re told.
We’ve heard that Infinidat has four UK customers: BrightSolid, Pulsant, BT and Barclays. BT, its biggest client worldwide followed by Barclays, is the most active, and is looked after by a director for enterprise sales. There are three technical and professional services people alongside him in the London office. Thirteen others have been let go.
Earlier last year, Salesforce announced that it beat Q1 earnings following a 20 percent pricing increase. Its thousands of embedded (read: captive) users have had no choice but to pay up. Soon, however, a new generation of automated CRMs will emerge as a viable alternative, bringing intelligence and ease-of-use to a category of “dumb” CRM databases. They’ll offer products that are easily configured, always up-to-date, and entirely automated – delivering a delightful user experience in a tech landscape known for the opposite.
Like BlackBerry, the disruption will happen much faster than Salesforce expects.
According to a report by Mercury News as part of statutory obligation, Oracle has intimated the Employment Development Department that it would lay off 450 employees in its Santa Clara systems division. According to the report, those affected include hardware and software developers along with managers, technicians and administrative assistants.
With the layoff reports, the analyst feels the reason for optimism on Oracle has proven to be completely wrong. The analyst also pointed to the industry’s belief that more layoffs in California, Colorado and Massachusetts are on the cards, with the guesstimate at 1,500
Follow-up: US alleges systemic employment discrimination at Oracle
The U.S. government says Oracle routinely and systemically pays white men more than women and minorities and that it favors Asian candidates over others in product development and technical roles.
The investigation was triggered by a regular compliance review by the government. As a federal contractor, Oracle is prohibited from engaging in discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.
Avaya says bankruptcy is a step toward software and services
Networking and collaboration vendor Avaya declared bankruptcy last Thursday, calling the move part of its transition from a hardware to a software and services company.
It plans to keep operating during the bankruptcy thanks to its cash from operations and US$725 million in financing that still needs approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Avaya said its foreign affiliates aren’t included in the filing and won’t be affected.
Microsoft reportedly plans to lay off about 700 workers next week
“The upcoming cuts won’t be specific to any single group, but will be spread across the company’s worldwide offices and business units, including sales, marketing, human resources, engineering, finance and more,” Business Insider said it was told by its source. “The goals of these rotating smaller layoffs is not to reduce costs but to update skills in various units.”
Cisco debuts its own smart whiteboard priced to compete with the Google Jamboard
The Spark Board works with fingers or a stylus and saves automatically. The system is priced to compete with Google’s Jamboard (which puts it significantly below Microsoft’s $8,999 Surface Hub) at $4,990 for the 55-inch version due out at the end of the month. A 70-inch version is due out before year’s end, priced at $9,990.
Verizon fourth quarter earnings fall short of analyst expectations
Verizon this morning reported adjusted fourth quarter earnings of 86 cents per share, on revenue of $32.3 billion.
On the earnings side, that falls short of what Wall Street analysts had expected — EPS of 89 cents per share and $32.1 billion in revenue. That also marks a 5.6 percent revenue decline from the fourth quarter of 2015.