Amazon and Microsoft are the cloud kings

PAY-Lion-King-cloud-MAINAmazon Web Services and Microsoft are the rulers of the public cloud, according to beancounters at Gartner.

The research firm’s “Magic Quadrant” annual report surveys the amount and type of cloud computing services offered for rent by big companies. However this year it appears to be a two horse race between Amazon and Vole. Amazon is coming first, probably because it was first out of the gate,  while Microsoft continues a strong push at second.

Google, IBM, VirtuStream (part of EMC), CenturyLink, Rackspace and VMware all have a horse running but are a long way down the field.

Amazon’s poured shedload of cash into its $10 billion a year business. AWS “has the largest share of compute capacity in use by paying customers — many times the aggregate size of all other providers in the market,” according Big G.

Last year, AWS ran more than 10 times the cloud compute capacity as the next 14 cloud players combined. Asked whether that means Amazon’s dominance has held steady, grown, or decreased year over year, Gartner IT managing vice president Rakesh Kumar said that the research firm does not have the exact comparable figure, but that it is “reasonable to assume” that AWS has maintained the same lead this year.

Last week, Gartner released another report showing Amazon dominating the cloud storage market as well.

Google has been trying hard to win market share from the other two powers and to prove that it is serious about the public cloud market. Google remains the third largest player by Gartner’s measures, but it has slipped a bit relative to the top.

Google’s strengths lie in its big data analytics and machine learning technologies that it has used internally and is now offering to the public at large. Even AWS supporters love to use Google BigQuery and Bigtable, to parse and explore big amounts of data, for example.

Google has also made some strides entrenching its view of container management, as embodied in Kubernetes, to outside players. Containers, are a modern way to combine all the services needed for a software application into a portable unit that can, in theory, run on a company’s internal servers, on Google, or some other public cloud.


Brexit causes UK services sector to fall

boris-parachuteThe UK services sector contracted for the first time in three and a half years thanks to Brexit.

The PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) survey data from IHS Markit and CIPS shows that the output and new business both declined and at the fastest rates since early 2009, with the Business Activity Index falling from 47.4 in July, compared with 52.3 in June.

It meant employment in the services sector stayed the same, marking the end of a 3.5-year period of uninterrupted job creation.

The volume of incoming new business dropped for the first time since the end of 2012. The report said that this was the fastest decline since early 2009 and again fuelled by uncertainty over the EU vote.

Chris Williams, chief economist at Markit, said: “It is too early to say if the surveys will remain in such weak territory in the coming months, leaving substantial uncertainty over the extent of any potential downturn. However, the unprecedented month-on-month drop in the all-sector index has undoubtedly increased the chances of the UK sliding into at least a mild recession.

“Service providers are certainly bracing themselves for worse to come with a record drop in business confidence about the year ahead, leaving optimism at its lowest ebb since February 2009.”

Still at least Brexit means we will no longer having foreigners telling us how to run things, even if they appear to have been doing it better than us.

Outsourcery was a tale told by an idiot

SormickA report into the crash of Cloud infrastructure and apps provider Outsourcery shows that the outfit died because it just ran out of cash.

The Statement of Affairs filed at Companies House said that sales were  below expectations, leading to funding shortfalls.  After its IPO it burnt through £17.7m of cash and £4m of secured debt from Vodafone.

In 2013, Outsourcery reported a net loss of £9.12 million. In 2014 its net losses were £7.6 million and in 2015 £6.22 million. So while it seemed to be getting better it was still losing money hand over fist.

Co-CEOs at Outsourcery, Piers Linney and Simon Newton, managed to attract interest from 12 bidders before it was sold to GCI Telecom for £4m.  This included £3.73 million for goodwill and nearly £270,000 for equipment. About 100 staff transferred to the new owners.

Outsourcery Plc, Outsourcery Group Ltd, Outsourcery Holding and Outsourcery Holdings were placed into administration. Outsourcery US and Outsourcery Mobile were not but these were largely dormant and the only assets were intra-company receivables.

Post sale, Vodafone was paid £1.8 million and then another £1.5 million toward its £5 million secured debt and £300,000 in accrued interest; Etive was owed £1 million plus £8,000 in interest.

Creditors’ claims are anticipated to be in the region of £1.9 million including £424,637 owed to Hewlett Packard International Bank, £165,244 to Fasthosts, £134,273 to Telecity and £112,937 to Bytes Software Services.

It was all a complete disaster and a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks that the word “cloud” is a license to print money.

SCS gets into Pyramid

camelSpecialist Computer Services (SCS) has written a cheque for Pyramid to maintain its iron grip of the HR and payroll market

SCS already provides HR, payroll and data scanning services to public and private sector customers across Europe and it hopes that the Pyramid acquisition will give it some skilled staff.

Until this point SCS had resold the NGA HR Unipay product but will now be providing its own offering to customers.

Sir Peter Rigby, chairman and chief executive of Rigby Group, which owns SCS said:

“We are very conscious of the loyalty and levels of service that SCS has enjoyed over some 40 years, so it is important we continue to invest in SCS to ensure its growth and success,” he added “Pyramid offers SCS an up-to-date, highly functional HR Payroll solution to market, develop & sell.”

Pyramid has been keeping razor blades sharp for 20 years and its system that SCS takes on covers all aspects of personnel management, including HR, payroll, employee self service, e-Recuritment as well as e-Payslips.

Tim Markham, managing director of SCS, said that the acquisition, for an undisclosed amount, had been made to ensure that it had a product that it could develop and take out to its customers for the long-term.


Cisco warns ransomware scams are targeting enterprises

Cisco Kid Cisco’s Midyear Cybersecurity Report (MCR) is warning that ransomware is a specific threat which is is becoming more widespread and potent.

The report said that the ransomware creators are focusing more than ever on generating revenue and are now targeting enterprise users in addition to individuals.

“These direct attacks are becoming increasingly efficient and lucrative, generating huge profits. Our security researchers calculate that ransomware nets our adversaries nearly $34 million annually,” the report said.

The report said that it is time to improve the odds at handling this type of attack.

At the moment asymmetric attacks are outpacing responses. Attackers’ innovative methods of exploit, persistency, shifting tactics, and ability to operate on a global level create an ominously complex and moving target

“Our research shows that adversaries are now exploiting vulnerabilities in encryption, authorization, and server-side systems, using ‘malvertising as a service’ to infect web users, well as tampering with secure connections like HTTPS. This final example alone has users thinking incorrectly that their connections are secure, leading to a false sense of security and making it increasingly difficult to determine if a connection has been compromised,” the report said.

Oracle swallows first cloud company – NetSuite

violet-beauregarde-willy-wonka-1971Oracle has written a cheque for the world’s first first cloud company – the transaction for NetsSuite is valued at $9.3 billion.

Oracle’s CEO, soft-porn star fan and expenses wizard  Mark Hurd said that Oracle and NetSuite cloud applications were complementary, and will “coexist in the marketplace forever.

“We intend to invest heavily in both products – engineering and distribution. We expect this acquisition to be immediately accretive to Oracle’s earnings on a non-GAAP basis in the first full fiscal year after closing.”

Oracle’s other CEO Safra “Kool4″ Catz said that NetSuite has been working for 18 years to develop a single system for running a business in the cloud.”

Evan Goldberg, Founder, Chief Technology Officer and Chairman, NetSuite, said:  “This combination is a winner for NetSuite’s customers, employees and partners. NetSuite will benefit from Oracle’s global scale and reach to accelerate the availability of our cloud solutions in more industries and more countries.”

The transaction is expected to close in 2016. The closing of the transaction is subject to receiving certain regulatory approvals and satisfying other closing conditions including NetSuite stockholders tendering a majority of NetSuite’s outstanding shares in the tender offer.


HPE wins illegal discounts case

spockICP has been told to pay up £1.95 million to HPE for  fraudulently claiming than £1.5m worth of discounts on its products.

Matthew Archer, ICP’s managing director, and the company itself were sued in a trial which took place in April. HPE claimed Archer and ICP were involved in fraud, conspiracy and inducement of breach of contract.

The case centred on an “abuse” of HPE’s partner programmes and discounts, with the defendants “fraudulently obtaining” over £1.5 million in discounts on HPE products, HPE successfully claimed.

Marc Waters, HPE’s interim managing director, said the firm is “satisfied” with the verdict.

“Grey marketing is a serious problem for the industry in terms of lost sales, margin erosion, poor customer experiences and reputational damage,” he said. “HPE has a well-established grey market avoidance programme and the outcome of this case clearly demonstrates that we will not hesitate to take court action to enforce our rights if required.

“We would also encourage anyone concerned about potential fraudulent activity to contact our brand protection team at and we will investigate as appropriate.”

Grey market activity is a long-standing issue in the channel and in recent months some vendors have stepped up their efforts to protect their brands. Headset vendor Plantronics settled a number of cases on the issue since the end of last year.

ICP said in a statement that it was disappointed and surprised by the outcome.

“We strongly deny any wrongdoing and must now consider all options available to us.”

Watchdog says Openreach must be legally seperate from BT

dog-on-bed-with-people-no-text-590x388UK telco watchdog Ofcom has growled that Openreach must become a “legally” separate company from BT and have its independent board as seperate drinks cabinet.

In February, Ofcom identified serious failings with BT’s ownership model of Openreach now it has outlined details of how an enhanced structural separation will work.

Ofcom said BT has an incentive to make these decisions in the interests of its own retail businesses, rather than BT’s competitors.

Ofcom iterated that Openreach should be a legally separate company within BT, saying all its directors would be required to make decisions in the interests of all Openreach’s customers. The new board should have a majority of non-executive directors, who should not be affiliated to BT Group in any way but would be both appointed and removed by BT in consultation with Ofcom.

Openreach’s chief exec should be appointed by the Openreach Board, with no direct lines of reporting from Openreach executives to BT Group.

Openreach will also be obliged to consult formally with customers such as Sky and TalkTalk on large-scale investments which is something that BT was not happy to do during its G.Fast roll-out plans.

Sharon White, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, said: “We’re pressing ahead with the biggest shake-up of telecoms in a decade, to make sure the market is delivering the best possible services for people and business across the UK.”

The moves are designed to ensure that Openreach acts more independently from BT Group, and takes decisions for the good of the wider telecoms industry and its customers. “If it cannot achieve this, Ofcom will reconsider whether BT and Openreach should be split into two entirely separate companies, under different ownership,” said the regulator.

Ofcom said BT has notified it of plans to deliver changes to Openreach’s governance, to make it more independent and accountable to its customers. “We welcome BT’s acknowledgement of the need to reform Openreach, and elements of BT’s proposal.

O2 customer data tips up on the dark web

giant-spider02O2 customer data is being flogged on the dark net, according to the very shocked BBC.

It is believed that the data became available when the  usernames and passwords were stolen from gaming website XSplit three years ago. When the login details matched, the hackers could access O2 customer data in a process known as “credential stuffing”.

It is highly likely that this technique will have been used to log onto other companies’ accounts including O2 partners.

The data for sale included users’ phone numbers, emails, passwords and dates of birth.

BBC reporters bought a small sample of customer details from the seller to investigate further and contacted O2. Together, the investigating teams believed it was the result of credential stuffing.

This is where a criminal uses a piece of software to repeatedly attempt to gain access to customers’ accounts by using the login details it has obtained from elsewhere – in this case, a November 2013 attack on gaming website XSplit. When successful, a customer’s details can be retrieved and sold.

O2 said in a statement: “We have not suffered a data breach. Credential stuffing is a challenge for businesses and can result in many company’s customer data being sold on the dark net.

“We have reported all the details passed to us about the seller to law enforcement and we continue to help with their investigations.”

Security reseller faces hacking charges

acb20792e8439a1d28a1f2cdbd7fdf1cFive employees from cybersecurity outfit Quadsys have admitted to hacking into a rival company’s servers.

The hack was apparently to nick customer data and pricing information and the top Quadsys managers have fessed up and pleaded guilty to hacking charges. Oxfordshire, UK-based Quadsys is a reseller of IT and cybersecurity products, hardware and services. The firm sells software from vendors including Websense, Checkpoint and F-Secure. Customers include Leeds United FC, South Tyne and Wear Primary Care Trust and Derry City Council.

The owner of Quadsys, Paul Streeter, managing director Paul Cox, director Alistair Barnard, account manager Steve Davies and security consultant Jon Townsend all appeared at Oxford Crown Court and admitted to “obtaining unauthorised access to computer materials to facilitate the commission of an offence”.

This could lead to up to 12 months testing the security bars of a prison.

In March 2015, the five men were arrested and then charged in August. The group were originally held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit computer misuse offences, unauthorised PC access and conspiracy to acquire and use criminal property — allegedly, the data belonging to customers of the rival company, as well as the firm’s pricing tiers.

However there are signs that they might not get the full weight of the law pressing upon them. The judge in charge of the case reduced the severity of the charges. All five pleaded not guilty to one count of “securing unauthorised access to computer material with intent,” which is against the UK Computer Misuse Act 1990.

After three plea and case hearings, an additional count of securing access to computer material without criminal intent was added to the list, of which Townsend pleaded guilty. Cox was also charged with blackmail, to which he pleaded not guilty.

They are due to be sentenced on 9 September. A second charge, obtaining unauthorised access to computer materials with intent to commit an offence, will also be heard.


US Navy turns to software piracy

pugwashSuppliers who think they are onto a winner flogging software to the US government might be a little concerned to learn that their trusted partner might be not what it seems.

The US Navy appears to have turned to piracy in the sort of way that would make its tough pro-Hollywood and software industry stance look a bit hypocritical.

Apparently the US Navy liked a trial copy given to it by a German 3D software outfit  Bitmanagement Software GmbH so much that it stole it. And now Bitmanagement is suing the United States of America for over half a billion dollars.

According to the court filing, Bitmanagement licensed its BS Contact Geo software for use on 38 Navy computers from 2011 to 2012. This limited rollout was “for the purposes of testing, trial runs, and integration into Navy systems.”

While this test period was underway, the Navy reportedly began negotiating to license the software for use on thousands of additional computers.

However, while the negotiations were ongoing, the Navy initiated its full-scale rollout without actually paying for the software.

In total, the initial 38 computers allegedly swelled to 104,922 computers by October 2013. As of today, BS Contact GEO is claimed to be installed on 558,466 Navy computers, although “likely this unauthorized copying has taken place on an even larger scale” according to the filing.

As if the unauthorized installation of software onto hundreds of thousands of computers wasn’t enough, Bitmanagement is alleging that the Navy during 2014 began disabling the Flexwrap software that is tasked with tracking the use of BS Contact Geo and helping to prevent it from being duplicated.

At the time the retail price of a single BS Contact Geo license was $1067.76. With nearly 600,000 computers now in play, Bitmanagement is seeking a whopping $596,308,103 in damages. The lawsuit, which alleges willful copyright infringement was filed on 15 July

EMC votes to become part of the glorious Dell empire

legionnairesEMC has approved Dell’s $60 billion offer to become part of the glorious Empire in the largest technology merger ever.

The newly combined entity, to be named Dell Technologies, aims to be a one-stop shop for information technology sold to businesses. OF course they all say that, but this will be pretty big.

It will consolidate diverse products and services under one umbrella, including personal computers, servers, storage and networking equipment.  The only thing which could stick a spanner in the works is regulatory approval from China.

EMC Chief Executive Joe Tucci said before the vote that the board evaluated numerous options and decided that the merger with Dell is the best outcome.

Once combined, the two companies plan to help customers move to cloud computing, which likely would be a hybrid approach that includes both cloud and on-premises operations.

The deal will also let Dell exploit EMC’s “converged infrastructure”, to sell computing, storage and networking equipment as an easy-to-install bundle.

The deal will give current EMC shareholders a tracking stock for VMware shares. Consequently, the privately held Dell will issue quarterly financial reports.


Today is D-Day for EMC

michael-dell-2Today is the day that EMC shareholders vote to merge with Dell, or tell Michael Dell to go sling his hook.

The merger was announced last October and will create a more-than $70 billion global IT powerhouse with significant strengths from PCs to security and the high-end data centre.

EMC had been under pressure from shareholders to be broken up so being swallowed whole came as a bit of a surprise. The company’s enterprise business will be run from EMC’s headquarters in Hopkinton – a place in America somewhere –  while the rest of the business will be run from Dell’s house in Texas.

There is no guarantee that Dell will manage to convince shareholders. However, the signs are that it will be rubber stamped. The deal has received the seal of approval from two independent proxy firms, ISS and Glass Lewis, and hasn’t been the subject of any public investor unrest. But nothing is certain.  Dell’s Empire has a debt loading which makes my credit card bill look very small potatoes.

Still the deal is worth $62.3 billion.

Shareholders are being asked to approve the merger, vote to give huge “go away”  payments to top EMC executives as a result of the merger. This is basically giving $90 million to EMC Chairman and CEO Joe Tucci; CFO Zane Rowe; EMC Infrastructure President David Goulden; Marketing Chief Jeremy Burton and COO Howard Elias. They will only get the money if they bugger off and never darken Dell’s door again.

Dell himself is quietly confident that everything will go through on time. He thinks that the merger will be completed by October.

VR is too pricey to sell

CeVB4bYW8AA9Kt6VR is still too pricey to make a clean sale, with more than half of consumers thinking that the technology is over priced.

A survey carried out by IT market analysts Context has found that almost four in ten consumers in the UK believe that VR is too expensive. That figure rises to 47 percent when extended to include thre rest of Europe.

When asked how much they would be willing to spend on their first VR headset, consumers showed they thought that spending that much dosh was a waste of time.

37 percent would prefer to pay nothing for the headset, whilst 21 percent would only be willing to pay under £100. Nevertheless, over a third (35 percent) would fork out £100 to £200, but when asked to consider the current cost of the headsets, almost four in ten (39 percent) believe they are too expensive.

It is not as if they are poorly informed. The survey also found that three in four consumers have heard of technology such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or PlayStation VR.

Consumers in the UK and around Europe are most excited about VR’s applications in sport, film and TV. Half of those surveyed in the UK (51 per cent) want the chance to experience something they would never do in real life, such as sky diving.

VR’s biggest draw is currently sport, with 60 percent of consumers claiming they’re most excited about viewing a match as if they were really there. This figure rose to 65 and 66 percent in France and Germany.

The survey has found that those in the UK certainly do not see VR as a gimmick, with over half of the British public (56 percent) agreeing that VR has serious applications in fields such as medicine, science, and education. The figure rose to 68 percent with German consumers.

The tech industry has given VR a dominant focus over the past few years, and that trend looks set to continue as it becomes more widely available.

Security vendor revenues rising as market contracts

securityBeancounters working for analyst outfit Gartner have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and worked out that security software revenues have risen  3.7 percent and were worth  $22.1bn in 2015.

The report said that security information and event management  remained the fastest-growing sub segment of the cybersecurity market and saw a 15.8 per cent growth. Consumer security software recorded a 5.9 percent year-on-year decline.

The top five vendors were Symantec, Intel, IBM, Trend Micro and EMC and they accounted for 37.6 percent of the security software revenue market share, down.

These vendors saw a collective decline of 4.2 percent in 2015, while the rest of the market grew strongly at 9.2 percent year on year. In fact, of the top five only Biggish Blue grew and increased its revenue by 2.5 percent to reach $1.45billion.

Both Symantec and Intel Security both suffered from the long-standing decline of the consumer market for anti-virus products and services. But Symantec still remained on top despite suffering a third consecutive year of revenue decline and its highest decline in revenue over a three-year period.

Still at least it did better than Intel which saw revenues fall from $1.83bn to $1.75bn between 2014 and 2015.