Tag: Cloud

Music companies saddle CEO with $41 million piracy bill

The former chief executive of defunct online music storage firm MP3tunes was personally ordered to pay an estimated $41 million after being found liable for infringing copyrights owned by record companies and music publishers once part of EMI.

A lawyer for EMI, Luke Platzer, estimated after the verdict was read that it added up to roughly $41 million. The verdict included $7.5 million in punitive damages.

Robertson and the bankrupt company was found guilty by a jury on various copyright infringement claims.

A lawyer for Robertson said he planned to appeal, saying that many of the claims were not sustainable.

MP3tunes was founded in 2005 and was one of the first cloud based music services that allowed users to store music in online lockers. EMI claimed that the MP3tunes website and a related one called Sideload.com enabled piracy.

This particular case was considered a barometer for how courts might look at cloud-based music storage services in the future. It looks like the future is bleak.

In the trial, Robertson’s lawyers contended MP3tunes had shut out users who abused the locker system and that many of the songs had been made available online free by EMI as a promotion.

A federal judge’s ruling against MP3.com in 2000 led to a shutdown of the service and more than $160 million in estimated payouts by the company to the five major record labels and music publishers.

MP3.com was sold a year later to Vivendi Universal for about $372 million, with $120 million going to Robertson’s family trust, he testified at trial. The website is today owned by CBS. 

Cisco charges onto the cloud

Networking giant Cisco has said that it wants to offer cloud computing services and is writing a billion dollar cheque over the next two years.

Needless to say, Cisco has been running late and the market currently led by the world’s biggest online retailer Amazon.com which does not seem to be giving up.

Cisco said it will build data centres to help run the new service called Cisco Cloud Services.

Rob Lloyd, Cisco’s president of development and sales said that everybody is realising the cloud can be a vehicle for achieving better economics and lower cost.

However, he added that it did not mean that Cisco was planning to go head-to-head with Amazon, yet.

Microsoft cut prices for hosting and processing customers’ online data in a bid to take on Amazon. So far, it has not made much headway.

Cisco said that it will start to discuss the new service today at a conference with its customers. 

Indian IT faces challenging year

Slower growth and high inflation is denting the Indian economy but there’s hope on the IT front.

That’s according to a report from IDC, which reckons that companies in India are spending cautiously to upgrade their IT and telecomms infrastructure.

And 2014 could be the year when India finally begins to move to cloud, mobility and big data.

IDC said that the lines between system integrators, value added resellers and independent software vendors will blur during the year because these sectors are being forced to broaden their offerings.

IDC thinks that there will be pockets of investment in IT during 2014, depending on whether the companies are far seeing enough to embed info tech in businesses.

Microsoft turns bosses into the NSA

Software giant Microsoft has invented tools which can turn control-freak bosses into the NSA.

For a while now there has been a hole in the market for autocratic bosses who love to spy on their employees. After all they have looked at the US government looked at how they can check everything that their citizens do and said “I want some of that”.

Now the friendly software maker Microsoft is allowing such bosses to set up a NSA spy network in their own companies.

Microsoft’s Lync communications platform gathers enough readily analysable data to let corporations spy on their employees just as well as the NSA.

At Microsoft’s Lync 2014 conference, software developer Event Zero CEO David Tucker said that it is a doddle to figure out who is dating whom within the company and pinpoint people looking for another job.

Microsoft says these call detail records have been stored by traditional PBXs for legitimate reasons such as accounting for cross-charging, to help with trouble-shooting or even to track contact-centre agent productivity.

Barry Castle, senior product marketing manager Lync and Skype told Network World  that from a reporting perspective, Lync does this no differently than any other enterprise communications system.

However using Windows PowerShell, SQL Database information gathered by Lync for monitoring purposes and custom PowerShell queries to sort the information is really a doddle.

PowerShell queries can also be easily written that parse the same information to figure out personal details about employees. It is possible to work out which employees spend a lot of time on the phone with each other for example. You can also flag an event where they call a headhunter, perhaps trying to find another company that has a boss that does not spy on his or her staff. 

Microsoft says to aliens: Hey, you, get offa my cloud

Software king of the world Microsoft has admitted that it is probably not a good idea for foreigners to keep their data stored in the US.

Vole’s head lawyer Brad Smith has indicated that overseas customers will be allowed to have their personal data stored in non-US data centres to stop US spooks from snuffling it.

The move suggests that Microsoft has had a gutsful of the US spying on its foreign customers and it is taking steps to keep them out of the networks.

Talking to the FTSmith said that people should have the ability to know whether their data are being subjected to the laws and access of governments in some other country and should have the ability to make an informed choice of where their data resides.

Smith added that Microsoft customers could choose where to have their data stored in Microsoft’s wide network of data centres, for example, Europeans could specify a facility in Ireland.

This is being seen as the clearest sign so far that Microsoft is worried about the public backlash, especially overseas, to revelations by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden that the NSA claimed to tap into tech companies’ servers to spy on foreign individuals.

Microsoft denies that, and has said that it only hands over customer data when properly requested by intelligence agencies, but an air of mistrust has remained, especially in Europe and China.

So far Vole has had a unified response to the NSA scandal, and has steered away from the idea of offering non-US data storage for overseas users. But it does look like it is worried about losing customers because of US antics.

Offering customers the choice of data centres would be easier for Microsoft than some smaller companies, as it already has a number of storage facilities across the globe. 

AMD talks about its cloud plans

AMD chief executive Rory Read has been chatting to the Washington Post over tea and sticky buns about his cunning plan to branch out into cloud services and reduce his outfit’s dependence on PC chip making.

He said that when data was stored on local servers, AMD was focused on how to process and display it on one particular device. Now with the cloud, you have to be able to set all of that graphics and display on any device.

Traditional PC chips used to constitute the majority of AMD’s revenue, but that within two years, he expects about 50 percent of revenue to come from high growth segments involving the cloud.

Read said that because cloud-based services allow consumers to access them from any device,  AMD must change how it sees chips.

Since 2011, Read has been carrying out a plan to “reset and restructure the company” to meet new technology goals, mainly through a 10 percent workforce reduction and terminating contractual commitments.

So far this has involved cost cutting like a mad thing by selling and leasing-back its campus in Austin, Tex. in March, freeing up about $164 million in cash.

Read said that the next part of the cunning plan was to create reusable blocks of intellectual property, which will help it “execute a turn through a launch of new products”.

He has also been investing in cloud technology outfits such as CiiNow, a cloud-based video game company, through its investment arm AMD Ventures. CiiNow and AMD together allow gamers to stream video games onto any device with high-resolution graphics and speed.

But there has also been a move towards government services and away from the consumer market. AMD was selected for an award of $3.1 million for work with a Department of Energy computing research project, which focuses on data transfer.

Governments have data on separate, local servers but other agencies cannot easily access them. The moment this data is moved to the cloud, it is possible to access that information from any device, anywhere and at any time.

Get a supercomputer for $99

Adapteva is selling a $99 parallel-processing board that can  build a Linux supercomputer for less than $100.

Cheap underpowered computers are the new black since the $25 and $35 Raspberry Pi models appeared so Adapteva is trying to flog a more expensive gizmo in a crowded market.

However, Adapteva is the first super-cheap supercomputer. Dubbed Parallela, Adapteva’s board the size of a Raspberry Pi, but packs a significantly more powerful punch.

It has 1GB of RAM, 2 USB 2.0 ports, a microSD slot, an HDMI connection, and a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port – all pretty standard. But Parallela has an ARM A9 processor with a 64-core Epiphany Multicore Accelerator, which helps the board achieve around 90 gigaflops.

The boards can’t replace standard desktops or gaming rigs but it will create a more efficient number cruncher. This board will use Ubuntu Linux 12.04 for its operating system.

Adapteva CEO Andreas Olofsson said that conventional computing improved so quickly that in most applications, there was no need for massively parallel processing.

“Unfortunately, serial processing performance has now hit a brick wall, and the only practical path to scaling performance in the future is through parallel processing. To make parallel software applications ubiquitous, we will need to make parallel hardware accessible to all programmers, create much more productive parallel programming methods, and convert all serial programmers to parallel programmers,” he said. 

It's back to the good old Crays

The development of Big Data has been a money spinner for the much written off Cray Computer.

Cray was a big name in the 1970s when you wanted a computer the size of an office block to run your payroll.  However, it disappeared into the background 20 years ago with the rise of the PC.

According to Reuters, Cray is surging back to prominence. Its shares have almost doubled over the last year.

The reason is that the explosion of data and the need to work out what it all means demands greater computing power.

Barry Bolding, a Cray vice president, at the company’s Seattle headquarters, said that five years ago people thought they could run simulations on a laptop.

That might have been true at the time, but now raw data is being created in exabytes. More data means a bigger computer, a bigger computer means more data, he said

More than 2.5 exabytes of data are now generated every day, and the world’s capacity to store that data is doubling every 40 months, which all plays to Cray’s cunning plans.

Cray cabinets cost $500,000 and some of the bigger customers can group 200 or more into massive supercomputers worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Titan, completed by Cray last year, is the world’s third-fastest supercomputer, takes up the size of a basketball court and can perform more than 20,000 trillion calculations a second.

Cray has 900 employees and a market value of around $940 million, has changed ownership several times and in June it nicked long term IBM customer the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

Wall Street analysts are expecting revenue of $519 million this year, up 23 percent from 2012, with a gross profit margin around 34 percent.

Big tech to lose billions from US spying

US companies are losing billions as foreign companies look closer to home to avoid NSA snooping.

According to the Wall Street Journal, companies and politicians are seeing an opportunity to take business from the US in the wake of Edward Snowden’s allegations about NSA spying.

Three of Germany’s largest email providers, including partly state-owned Deutsche Telekom teamed up to offer a new service, Email Made in Germany.

This promises that by encrypting email through German servers and using the country’s strict privacy laws, U.S. authorities won’t be able to snoop as easily.

Now the service is reporting more than 100,000 Germans have signed up.

The Journal said that foreign countries were seeking to use data-privacy laws as a competitive advantage to boost domestic companies against Google and Microsoft.

Of course it would be more expensive for Germans to use such a service and requires maintaining ignorance about the way the interent works.

What might happen is the development of something like a “Euro cloud,” in which consumer data could be shared within Europe but not outside the region.

Brazil is about to insist that data about Brazilians be stored on servers in the country and India is going to stop government employees from using email services from Google and Yahoo

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation estimates that fallout from revelations about NSA activities could cost Silicon Valley up to $35 billion in annual revenue. Most of this is going to come from lost overseas business.

The Cloud Security Alliance found that 56 percent of non-US members said security concerns made it less likely that they would use US based cloud services and ten percent have already scrapped a contract.

Microsoft has admitted that the NSA spying has the potential to erode the trust of customers around the world.

It is impossible for the big technology companies to undo any damage, particularly when the extent of NSA activities is secret and other nations have been critical of the US.

Smaller companies, which have been battling Google and Amazon for ages, see the NSA surveillance programme as a present from Santa.

Oliver Dehning, chief executive of antispameuropeGmbH, which builds spam-protection software said that it was an opportunity to strike back and protect the home market. 

IBM to write billion dollar cheque for Linux development

IBM has written a billion dollar cheque to promote Linux development over the next five years.

The move is part of a cunning plan to adapt Power mainframes and servers to handle cloud and big data applications in distributed computing environments.

The investment will be announced at the LinuxCon conference in New Orleans this week, ITWorld reports. Biggish Blue will fund Linux software development programmes for IBM’s Power servers, and it also wants to expand a cloud service where developers can write and test software for Power servers before deployment of IBM’s new Power8 chips.

The Power8 chips should be in the shops next year, and IBM wants shedloads of software waiting when they come out.

IBM is also adding a Power Systems Linux Centre in Montpellier, France, where Linux developers will get access to Power chip and server technologies.  The company already has similar centers in Beijing, New York and Austin, Texas.

Doug Balog, general manager of Power Systems at IBM, said that Linux is the OS of choice for cloud and big data deployments in data centres.

IBM did not elaborate on how the cash will be made available. IBM expects code contributions in applications such as OpenStack.

Biggish Blue hopes that by roping in more Linux developers it will remain competitive against companies such as HP and Dell’s x86 servers, which are widely used in cloud and analytics deployments.

IBM also makes x86 servers, but believes Power chips can evolve from mainframes into general-purpose servers.