Cloud and the Patriot Act: A big red herring served with a large helping of paranoia sauce

I’ve been watching, with more than a little bemusement, some of the commentary surrounding the implications of the US patriot act on the security and privacy of data that is held in the cloud. Here is my perspective (perspective being something rather lacking in some of the commentary).

Here’s the essence:

  • Yup, the Patriot Act gives substantial powers to key law enforcement agencies
  • Yup, the Patriot Act asserts jurisdiction over any US corporation, or any corporation having a business connection with the US…
  • BUT, even if the patriot act doesn’t apply to you, it’s likely that US law enforcement could still get your data, by invoking a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the government of whichever country your data is stored in
  • The patriot act does not give US law enforcement agencies a right to roam freely through your data
  • Other countries have almost identical laws
  • For the paranoid among you, this means that none of your data, wherever it is held is safe…
  • Of all the security risks you face when it comes to cloud computing, the patriot act comes very low down the list
  • Some questions you should ask yourself
  • Some questions you should ask your provider
  • Sure… some data should never be exposed to any risk of seizure, but please use your common sense
  • If you’re still paranoid, the only solution for you is to get off the net completely, live in a shack in the forest and make yourself a tinfoil hat
  • ADVERT : If you’d like me to speak at your conference ask for a quote

IBM makes a serious move into cloud integration with acquisition of Cast Iron Systems

This morning IBM announced that it has acquired Cast Iron Systems, for an undisclosed sum. Cast Iron Systems a 75 person strong “cloud integration vendor”. I’m at IBM’s Impact 2010 conference, and have mulled this one over with James Governor and Neil Ward-Dutton already (James has already blogged on this here and Neil here. I don’t have much to add to either Neil or James, but – never the less…

  • This is a really good move for IBM as it establishes IBM as the de facto leader in Cloud integration
  • This gets IBM some really good mid-sized clients and a mid-sized client-friendly business model
  • Cast Iron offers significant value to IBM’s customers by radically simplifying the process of integrating cloud-based apps like, google docs and a host of others either with eachother or with “non-cloud” apps like SAP.
  • The number of different API’s and, indeed, API approaches adopted by different SaaS and Cloud players makes it a real pain to integrate them – Cast Iron makes it possible to link SAP with in seconds rather than days or weeks
  • While this is an excellent addition to IBM’s integration portfolio, it has also added (yet) another way to specify how two applications interact which places the onus on IBM to help customers decide which approach/technology to use

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Oracle Sun : There may be trouble ahead

Oracle’s recent strategy day presented a union filled with love and romance, but despite the apparent confidence, Oracle’s strategy misses some important points. Jonathan Steel and I spent some time mulling it all over and here’s our initial take.

This post may be read to the strains of the wonderful Ella Fiztgerald singing “There may be trouble ahead”.

Having slogged through the marathon that was the Oracle-Sun announcement day, we’re left with two immediate impressions:
1.They took a heck of a lot of time to say so little
2.Oracle’s back to the future pitch, while nothing like as badly thought out as some people say, just isn’t going to cut it.

If you’re in a hurry, here are the headlines:

  • The back to the 60’s mantra is both more and less nuanced than you might think
  • But the integrated stack pitch simply isn’t well enough thought out
  • There are two killer reasons why the “single stack” pitch fails: Innovation, and Focus
  • Ultimately Oracle’s hardware strategy is simply not convincing enough
  • Oracle’s software strategy is much more coherent but Sun brings a mixed bag
  • The absence of a services story is the elephant in the room

We’ll be thinking, talking and writing in much more detail about this – so if you’re interested in knowing more, drop me a line –

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IBM buys Lombardi

If you’re busy here’s the summary;

  • A good move by IBM
  • the acquisition builds on IBM’s portfolio in a number of respects
  • Lombardi gains access to IBM’s partner community
  • Lombardi’s partners gain access to IBM’s sales channel
  • Lombardi’s customers gain too
  • But of course there’s overlap…
  • To get the most IBM needs to do some hard integration
  • The billion dollar question (which came from James Governor) is Lotus Live..

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HP to acquire 3Com and Cisco allies with EMC

HP and 3Com Corporation have announced that HP is going to acquire 3Com at a price of $7.90 per share in cash (valuing 3Com at $2.7 billion).

In a nutshell:

  • Of course this move means HP’s competitive position against Cisco is improved significantly
  • And yes, Cisco’s postion vs HP is improved by their alliance with EMC
  • I think this will be good for Cisco, HP, and end-user organisations
  • Will Cisco buy a services company in the next 12 months? Hmm
  • There is evidence that we all have a LOT to learn about selling networking stuff
  • Some strong commentary from a proper Cisco watcher..

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iPhone, RIM taking over smartphone market : Canalys

Canalys has released its Q3 smartphone market data, showing Apple and RIM taking a ton of market share away from Symbian.

Check out detailed information here

Now, I freely admit that I’m an iPhone fan – it’s a rocking phone, wrapped in a business model that is rocking too (for now at least).

But, Canalys seems a little “down” on Droid –

Rather than eating into RIM and Apple’s integrated platform sales, Android appears largely to have cannibalized the use of other free Linux minority platforms and taken the lunch away from Microsoft’s Windows Mobile.

(Pete Cunningham – Canalys)

I think that Pete may well have a point right now – but I expect droid-based phones to put up an increasingly strong showing as time passes. It wont be as quick as supporters of Android like but the ecosystem is still in its very early days.

My wild stab in the dark (and I mean wild stab in the dark) for the next 12 months…

  • The number of droid-based phones will grow in number to create the real potential for a world-beathing ecosystem – Provided that droid phone makers don’t rush off in too many directions
  • If Apple can negotiate data roaming deals with the leading global mo-telcos then RIM is going to be in big big danger
  • Apple needs to be ready to adapt the closed-garden a) for the enterprise and b) for non-commercial apps
  • WinMo and Symbian are going to see their share of the market halve.

The current financial crisis was caused by Excel

Oh yes my friends, the real culprit behind the recession is the spread-sheeting application  that drives a very significant proportion of the world’s major financial transactions. Well, strictly speaking, spreadsheets don’t kill economies, people kill economies – so it’s fairer (but less attention grabbing) to say “The mis-use of Excel caused the recession”.

If you’re in a rush:

  • “Excel madness” is a syndome that occurs when people blindly believe “X” simply because “X” shows up in a certain cell in a certain spreadsheet – Of course… it’s not just Excel – “calc-madness” and “123-madness” are also known conditions
  • Many key decisions (many of which have a profound effect on our lives) are made on the basis of data that is simply garbage.
  • The mis-use of spreadsheets represents the second most terrifying threat to civilisation after global warming
  • Be super cautious about forecasts that contain numbers that appear accurate to three decimal places
  • Spreadsheets make really poor databases
  • Feral data creates chaos
  • We need to establish very clear guidelines about the gathering, use and application of “data”
  • Maybe it should simply be illegal to create a spreadsheet with more than 100 * 100 cells?

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Oracle – Sun : A hard road ahead

I’ve had a number of conversations with clients on this topic over the past few months, so it made sense to write a note.

If you’re pressed for time :

  • It’s sad, and all that, but Sun had it coming : Sun’s performance meant that acquisition was inevitable
  • There’s a hard road ahead for Sun employees as Oracle moves to meet the commitments it’s made to shareholders : Once the deal goes through, expect 12-18 months of turmoil within Sun
  • There are major opportunities for IBM and HP, while Sparc isn’t yet a “burning platform” there’s a definite smell of smoke in the air
  • While there’s no doubting Oracle’s success in software, the company is unproven in hardware and Oracle has plenty of  challenges to focus on over the next five years without adding the saving of a hardware business to the list
  • Sun brings a mixed bag of software assets, with a danger that they’ll provide more disruption than revenues
  • It’s unlikely that Oracle will “mess up” Java
  • It’s unlikely that Oracle will spike MySQL and if it tried to MySQL would survive
  • The EU will delay, but not prevent the transaction : That is unless Ellison gets bored with waiting

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Twitter's Google Apps Hacked – A damning indictment of Cloud security or a load of nonsense?

It’s a load of nonsense of course, which is why I’m writing this at 10:30pm on a Friday rather than drinking Mojitos with my buddies. Having read some of the want-witted comments made by some bloggers and journos I feel compelled to write this.

If you’re busy, here’s the abstract:

  • It wasn’t twitter that was hacked – it was Google Apps
  • Please don’t confuse “network” with “cloud” – it’s embarrassing to read and makes you look stupid
  • This is not a story about cloud computing, it’s a story about security
  • The moment you make a computer accessible via the internet you have a security challenge
  • Security is an important issue for cloud computing – So instead of hyping it, or denying it, we need to deal with it
  • The good the bad and the ugly – Some of the articles/blog posts I’ve seen on this topic

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