Tag: Cloud

EU watchdogs want privacy assurances from Trump

European Union data privacy watchdogs are demanding that a move by US President Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump to crack down on illegal immigration will not undermine a transatlantic pact protecting the privacy of Europeans’ data.

Trump wrote an executive order on January 25 aiming to toughen enforcement of US immigration law. It ordered US agencies to “exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.”

This basically killed off any agreement that the EU had on safe harbour data transfers. It means that if there is a US company running a cloud operation in the EU it has to turn over any data on anyone.

The EU’s data protection authorities said they would write to U.S. authorities “pointing out concerns and asking for clarifications on the possible impact of the Executive Order” on that framework, known as the Privacy Shield, as well as on another agreement protecting law enforcement data shared between the United States and the EU.

The EU-US Privacy Shield is used by almost 2,000 companies including Google, Facebook and Microsoft to store data about EU citizens on US servers and makes possible about $260 billion of trade in digital services.

It replaced a previous system thrown out by the top EU court on the grounds it allowed US spies unfettered access to data stored on US servers.

The European Commission press office has played down concerns over any threat to the privacy of Europeans’ data, saying the US Privacy Act had never protected Europeans’ data and so any changes to it would not affect EU-US data transfer agreements.

But it might be that the European court might see things differently.

Microsoft sees profit rise thanks to cloud

Ary Pleysier - Beach View with Boats - Wikimedia CommonsSoftware King of the World Microsoft reported some mixed results with a 3.6 percent rise in fiscal second-quarter profit but a decline in margins in its cloud operations.

The cloud was Microsoft’s shining star in the results, but it seems that was due to reduced margins in in the unit that includes its flagship cloud platform Azure.

Chris Suh, head of Microsoft’s investor relations said that gross margins for Microsoft’s so-called “commercial cloud” business, which includes Azure and versions of its online Office 365 product sold to businesses, were 48 percent.

That is down from last quarter’s 49 percent but up from 46 percent a year ago. The figure is important because it is a sign of the actual profit made of Microsoft’s cloud products, which the company does not publish.

Vole’s Azure competes with cloudy products from Amazon.com, Google, IBM and Oracle Corp.

Suh admitted that Vole was no longer at Amazon’s margin.

“Their infrastructure business is much larger. They have the benefit of scale. We track more like what Amazon was when they were closer to our size.”

Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood said there was a “material improvement” in Azure margins since last quarter.

Nadella said the company thinks of its cloud offerings as comprehensive lineup of software and infrastructure, as it did with its historical business as a combination of products with different margins, like Office and Windows Server.

“We have a cloud strategy that is not just about infrastructure,” Nadella said, pointing out differences with Amazon Web Services.

Revenue from Microsoft’s ‘Intelligent Cloud’ business, which includes Azure, along with other data center software, rose 8.0 percent to $6.9 billion in the quarter. That beat analysts’ average estimate of $6.73 billion. Microsoft’s estimates for next quarter were $6.45 billion to $6.65 billion, only slightly higher than FactSet’s $6.61 billion estimate.

Azure’s revenue grew 94 percent year over year which is the lowest growth rate since Microsoft began disclosing the number in 2015, and down from 121 percent the previous quarter.

Sales of Office 365 to businesses rose 49 percent, down from 54 percent in the previous quarter.

Sales in Microsoft’s personal computing business, which includes its Windows software, once the bedrock of the company, fell 5.0 percent to $11.8 billion, slightly beating the rate at which personal computer sales fell in the quarter.

The company’s net income rose to $5.20 billion in the quarter ended Dec. 31, from $5.02 billion a year earlier. Its adjusted revenue was $25.838 billion, ahead of analysts’ average estimate of $25.298 billion.

Microsoft wins in mail sharing case

POSTMANPATSoftware king of the world Microsoft will not have to share email which is stored on foreign servers.

A federal appeals court refused to reconsider its landmark decision forbidding the US government from forcing Vole and other companies to turn over customer emails stored on servers outside the United States.

It was a close vote by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, but it let stand a July 14 decision that was a victory for privacy advocates, and for technology companies offering cloud computing and other services worldwide.

The dissenting judges said that decision by a three judge panel could hamstring law enforcement, and called on the US Supreme Court or Congress to reverse it.

Peter Carr, a US Department of Justice spokesman, said: “We are reviewing the decision and its multiple dissenting opinions and considering our options.”

Circuit Judge Susan Carney ruled that Microsoft could not be forced to turn over emails sought for a narcotics case, but stored on a server in Dublin.

Carney said the emails were beyond the reach of domestic search warrants issued under the federal Stored Communications Act, a 1986 law.

Microsoft was thought to be the first US company to challenge a domestic search warrant seeking data held outside the country.

The case attracted significant attention from technology and media companies concerned that a ruling for the government could jeopardize the privacy of customers, and make them less likely to use cloud services if they thought data could be seized.

Dozens of technology and media companies backed Vole including Amazon.com, Apple, CNN, Fox News Network and Verizon Communications, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Judges opposed to the ruling said it should not matter where the emails were stored because Microsoft was a US company. They also said the panel did not properly address the challenges that electronic data storage poses for law enforcement.

The judge expressed hope that the panel’s view of the 1986 law “can be rectified as soon as possible by a higher judicial authority or by the Congress.”

Microsoft might close datacentres post Brexit

 

Get-Britain-OutSoftware King of the World Microsoft might mothball its UK datacentre plans after  Blighty decided to pull out of the EU.

Microsoft had wanted to set up its datacentres in the UK so that European data did not have to cross the pond to the US.  This was because the EU was a little worried about US spooks spying in European citizens and wanted all data to stay here.

However, with the UK outside the EU too, the Microsoft set up its databases in the UK is completely pointless.

Microsoft’s UK Government Affairs Manager Owen Larter spoke in the What Brexit Means for Tech webinar expressing that the Redmond giant is committed to their branches in the UK. At least, for now.

But it is getting more worried that if Britain leaves the European single market is that import tariffs will rise and if the tariffs were to become an issue, Microsoft might pull their future plans for Britain’s two datacentres.

“We’re really keen to avoid import tariffs on any hardware. Going back to the datacenter example, we’re looking to build out our datacentres at a pretty strong lick in the UK, because the market is doing very well… So if the UK puts tariffs on Chinese server racks or eastern Europe, where a lot of them are actually assembled, that might change our investment decisions and perhaps we build out our datacentres across other European countries.”

If Vole cannot build in Britain, then they will build surrounding it.

Ironically one upside to the Brexit for Microsoft is the ability to bring in foreign employees into the UK for work.

“We’ve really struggled internally at Microsoft sometimes to bring people over from the US, from China, from India. Even just on a month or by week basis, because the restrictions on immigration from outside the EU have been so severe, because we [the UK] couldn’t control immigration from inside the EU and we were conscious about the numbers.”

We say ironic because many people thought they were voting Brexit to keep foreign workers out of the UK. This means Vole is confident they can bring many more in.

 

Canonical yells at European cloud provider

cloudOpen saucy outfit Canonical is in the middle of a legal dispute with an unnamed  “a European cloud provider” over the use of its  own homespun version of Ubuntu on their cloud servers.

Canonical is worried that the implementation disables even the most basic of security features and Canonical fears that when something bad happens, the great unwashed will not blame the cloud provider but will instead blame Ubuntu.

Writing in the company bog, Canonical said that it has spent months trying to get the unnamed provider to use the standard Ubuntu as delivered to other commercial operations to no avail. It said that Red Hat and Microsoft wouldn’t be treated like this.

Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, wrote that Ubuntu is “the leading cloud OS, running most workloads in public clouds today,” whereas these homegrown images “are likely to behave unpredictably on update in weirdly creative and mysterious ways. We hear about these problems all the time, because users assume there is a problem with Ubuntu on that cloud; users expect that ‘all things that claim to be Ubuntu are genuine’, and they have a right to expect that.

“To count some of the ways we have seen home-grown images create operational and security nightmares for users: clouds have baked private keys into their public images, so that any user could SSH into any machine; clouds have made changes that then blocked security updates for over a week… When things like this happen, users are left feeling let down. As the company behind Ubuntu, it falls to Canonical to take action.”

Chinese bitcoin mining outfit builds huge data centre

mine The Chinese bitcoin mining outfit Bitmain, is building a massive 45 building solar-powered data centre complex in China.

The complex will be the world’s third most powerful data centre and will operate primarily on wind and solar power. According to Bitmain the entire centre will be dedicated primarily to bitcoin mining and it plans to open source the centre’s detailed plans. Bitmain is hoping that this will improve data centre efficiency for bitcoin miners worldwide.

Jihan Wu, Co-CEO of Bitmain, said: “We have seen that most data centres in the mining industry are wasting considerable money or other resources.  We want to provide a more professional and cost-saving example to the industry.”

However the news was not exactly welcomed by the bitcoin mining community, many of whom are concerned with the increasing power of Chinese bitcoin mining pools driving the cryptocurrency market. One of the reasons they like cryptocurrency is that it is decentralised and if one country gets too much of the action it defeats the purpose.

Bitmain already controls an estimated 18.6 percent of hashpower worldwide, and many independent miners in the community expressed concern that controlling a massive data centre dedicated to mining bitcoin would give the company too much influence over bitcoin.

Bitmain said that it will not own all of the planned facility. “A majority is owned by other miners who can mine bitcoin or any altcoin with any hardware they prefer.”

The Bitmain facility was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016, but the timeline may be extended due to an unusually cold winter in Xinjiang this year.

Privacy group launches legal challenge against US data deal

Data centreAn Irish privacy group has issued a legal challenge against an EU deal which allows Euro data to end up in US hands.

The EU-US Privacy Shield commercial data transfer pact has been running for  two months but it was hammered out after the European Union’s highest court struck down the previous such framework over concerns about intrusive US surveillance.

The framework enables businesses moving personal data across the Atlantic a way of avoiding falling foul of tough EU data transferral rules.

Digital Rights Ireland has challenged the adoption of the “Privacy Shield” in front of the second-highest EU court, arguing it lacks adequate privacy protections.

It will be a year or more before the court rules on the case and it could still be declared inadmissible if the court finds the Privacy Shield is not of direct concern to Digital Rights Ireland.

More than 500 companies have signed up to the Privacy Shield so far, including usual suspects Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

Microsoft flicks off lightswitch

il_fullxfull.781035219_7evySoftware King of the World Microsoft has flicked off its LightSwitch technology.

For those who came in late, Visual Studio LightSwitch is a simplified self-service development tool that lets you build business applications quickly and easily for the desktop and cloud.

Vole always pitched it as a simplified development environment which allowed punters to focus on the business logic instead of the application infrastructure.

According to a SpokesVole, LightSwitch was to supposed to accelerate the development of line-of-business apps, but the landscape has changed significantly since it was released. Mobile and cloud had churned out more connected and relevant choices for business app development.

Visual Studio 2015 is the last release of Visual Studio that includes the LightSwitch tooling and as expected Microsoft will continue to support users with existing LightSwitch apps as per the Microsoft Support Lifecycle.

Microsoft is no longer recommending LightSwitch for developing new apps, instead, they are pointing customers towards PowerApps. PowerApps is also a modern solution to build custom business applications that enables increased productivity with business apps that are easily created, shared and managed.

Rolling Stone sells out to Singapore cloud company

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Iconic rock music magazine Rolling Stone has agreed to sell 49 per cent of itself to Singapore’s BandLab Technologies.

Publisher Wenner Media has agreed to the sell off as part of a cunning plan to expand the business into new markets and boost its profile in Asia.

The acquisition could lift the music magazine’s brand in Asia. At the moment Rolling Stone is suffering from falling advertising revenues as Internet magazines fail to find a model which works.

BandLab, led and co-founded by Kuok Meng Ru, the 28-year-old son of Singaporean palm oil tycoon Kuok Khoon Hong, is a group of companies making products for music creators and fans. It runs a cloud platform where musicians and fans create music, collaborate and engage with each other across the globe.

Gus Wenner, head of digital of Wenner Media said Rolling Stone sees an enormous opportunity to diversify the brand into new markets and new areas of business.

Ellison declares victory over Amazon in cloud wars

oracle-founder-larry-ellisonOracle supremo Larry Ellison has announced Oracle’s second generation cloud package and is already claiming that it will clean Amazon’s clock.

The announcement was made at Oracle’s OpenWorld conference in San Francisco  and it is basically all about Oracle’s  second generation of cloud infrastructure for third-party developers to run their applications in Oracle data centers.

It is pased around different virtual-machine s that Oracle is making available in this second-generation offering. The first is dubbed the Dense IO Shape and it offers 28.8TB, 512GB, and 36 cores, and will set you back $5.40 per hour. This product offers more than 10 times the input-output capacity of Amazon Web Services (AWS), specifically the i2.8xlarge instance, Ellison told the assorted throngs.

“Amazon’s lead is over. Amazon’s going to have serious competition going forward,” Ellison said.

For those who came in late, AWS leads the cloud infrastructure market, with Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM trailing behind. Oracle’s public cloud was not included in the most recent version of Gartner’s highly regarded cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) Magic Quadrant, which was released last month.  This is mostly because Oracle also does not have enough market share to qualify for inclusion.

Ellison clearly thinks that will all turn around now. The new offering takes advantage of regions, each of which contains three separate “availability domains,” or connected data centres. Oracle’s competitors in the cloud also offer regions of data centers. But this represents a step forward for Oracle.

Ellison said that he respects Amazon for being the “first mover” in the business of cloud infrastructure. “But now we’re aggressively moving into infrastructure, and we have a new generation of data centers that we’re building around the world.”

He also announced a new product called Cloud@Customer, which lets customers place servers that are identical to Oracle’s cloud infrastructure in their own on-premises infrastructure (the servers run the same software as the software on Oracle’s cloud servers). These servers have the same price structure as their corresponding cloud versions.