Microsoft

Microsoft's Market Value Hits a Dot-Com Era Milestone: $600 Billion (wsj.com) 87

An anonymous reader shares a report: Microsoft's value is returning to tech-bubble peaks. The software giant closed with a market value of $600 billion Thursday for the first time since January 2000, according to the Journal's Market Data Group. Shares rose 0.4 percent to $77.91, setting a fresh all-time high. For the year, Microsoft shares are up 25% and on track for their best year since 2013, as the firm continues its rebirth as a force in cloud-computing. The firm is the third-largest S&P 500 company in market value, trailing Apple (about $800 billion) and Google's parent company, Alphabet, (about $690 billion). In July, fellow technology and internet stalwarts Facebook and Amazon.com joined the trio as the only U.S.-listed companies valued at more than in the $500 billion. The last time Microsoft was over $600 billion back in 2000, it didn't stay there for long. The tech bubble would peak in March of that year, and the Nasdaq Composite Index wouldn't climb back to the level it reach that year until 2015.
Security

Ask Slashdot: What Are Some Hard Truths IT Must Learn To Accept? (cio.com) 420

snydeq writes: "The rise of shadow IT, shortcomings in the cloud, security breaches -- IT leadership is all about navigating hurdles and deficiencies, and learning to adapt to inevitable setbacks," writes Dan Tynan in an article on six hard truths IT must learn to accept. "It can be hard to admit that you've lost control over how your organization deploys technology, or that your network is porous and your code poorly written. Or no matter how much bandwidth you've budgeted for, it never quite seems to be enough, and that despite its bright promise, the cloud isn't the best solution for everything." What are some hard truths your organization has been dealing with? Tynan writes about how the idea of engineering teams sticking a server in a closet and using it to run their own skunkworks has become more open; how an organization can't do everything in the cloud, contrasting the 40 percent of CIOs surveyed by Gartner six years ago who believed they'd be running most of their IT operations in the cloud by now; and how your organization should assume from the get-go that your environment has already been compromised and design a security plan around that. Can you think of any other hard truths IT must learn to accept?
Microsoft

US Supreme Court To Decide Microsoft Email Privacy Dispute (reuters.com) 69

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to resolve a major privacy dispute between the Justice Department and Microsoft Corp over whether prosecutors should get access to emails stored on company servers overseas. From a report: The justices will hear the Trump administration's appeal of a lower court's ruling last year preventing federal prosecutors from obtaining emails stored in Microsoft computer servers in Dublin, Ireland in a drug trafficking investigation. That decision by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals marked a victory for privacy advocates and technology companies that increasingly offer cloud computing services in which data is stored remotely. Microsoft, which has 100 data centers in 40 countries, was the first U.S. company to challenge a domestic search warrant seeking data held outside the country. There have been several similar challenges, most brought by Google.
AI

We're Too Wise For Robots To Take Our Jobs, Alibaba's Jack Ma Says (scmp.com) 221

Have confidence in yourself -- technology will never replace human beings, insisted self-made billionaire Jack Ma in a keynote speech at Alibaba Cloud's Computing Conference in Hangzhou. From a report: There's one simple reason for that, the Alibaba founder said - we possess wisdom. "People are getting more worried about the future, about technology replacing humans, eliminating jobs and widening the gap between the rich and the poor," said Ma. "But I think these are empty worries. Technology exists for people. We worry about technology because we lack confidence in ourselves, and imagination for the future." Ma explained that humans are the only things on Earth that are wise. "People will always surpass machines because people possess wisdom," he said. Referencing AlphaGo, the Google artificial intelligence program that beat the world's top Go player at his own game, Ma said that there was no reason humanity should be saddened by the defeat. "AlphaGo? So what? AlphaGo should compete against AlphaGo 2.0, not us. There's no need to be upset that we lost. It shows that we're smart, because we created it."
Businesses

Hollywood Studios Join Disney To Launch Movies Anywhere Digital Locker Service (theverge.com) 48

There may be a grand unifying service to make accumulating a large digital cinematic library feasible, or so is the hope anyway. From a report: For several years now, Disney has been the only Hollywood studio with a digital movie locker worth using, but a host of other industry heavyweights have now jumped on board to launch an expanded version of the service called Movies Anywhere. It's both a cloud-based digital locker and a one-stop-shop app: customers connect Movies Anywhere to their iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, or Vudu accounts, and all of the eligible movies they've purchased through those retailers appear as part of their Movies Anywhere library. Given that the Movies Anywhere app works across a number of platforms, it basically allows them to take their digital film library with them no matter what device or operating system they're using. [...] The launch of Movies Anywhere should be the merciful, final blow that puts an end to UltraViolet, one of the entertainment industry's first attempts at putting together a comprehensive digital locker service. That service flailed due to a poor customer experience and lack of adoption on the part of big digital retailers like Apple. The team behind Movies Anywhere seems to have learned from UltraViolet's mistakes, however, as well as Disney's previous successes.
IBM

How Does Microsoft Avoid Being the Next IBM? (arstechnica.com) 223

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: For fans of the platform, the official confirmation that Windows on phones isn't under active development any longer -- security bugs will be fixed, but new features and new hardware aren't on the cards -- isn't a big surprise. This is merely a sad acknowledgement of what we already knew. Last week, Microsoft also announced that it was getting out of the music business, signaling another small retreat from the consumer space. It's tempting to shrug and dismiss each of these instances, pointing to Microsoft's continued enterprise strength as evidence that the company's position remains strong. And certainly, sticking to the enterprise space is a thing that Microsoft could do. Become the next IBM: a stable, dull, multibillion dollar business. But IBM probably doesn't want to be IBM right now -- it has had five straight years of falling revenue amid declining relevance of its legacy businesses -- and Microsoft probably shouldn't want to be the next IBM, either. Today, Microsoft is facing similar pressures -- Windows, though still critical, isn't as essential to people's lives as it was a decade ago -- and risks a similar fate. Dropping consumer ambitions and retreating to the enterprise is a mistake. Microsoft's failure in smartphones is bad for Windows, and it's bad for Microsoft's position in the enterprise as a whole.
Facebook

Facebook To Build $1 Billion Data Center In Virginia (cnn.com) 44

It's official: Facebook will be investing $1 billion in a new data center in Henrico County, which is just outside Richmond, Virginia. According to CNNMoney, Facebook is putting $750 million into construction and $250 million to multiple solar facilities that will power the data center. From the report: The investment is expected to create 100 full-time jobs. Facebook will receive about $19 million in state tax exemptions through 2035, according to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. Facebook already has data centers in Oregon, North Carolina and Iowa. Centers in Fort Worth, Texas; Los Lunas, New Mexico; and New Albany, Ohio are currently under construction. "One of the many important factors in our search for a new data center location is being able to source clean and renewable energy. We also look for great partnerships within the local community, robust infrastructure ... and a strong pool of local talent," Rachel Peterson, Facebook's director of data center strategy, said in a statement.
NASA

NASA Images of Puerto Rico Reveal How Maria Wiped Out Power On the Island (jalopnik.com) 180

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Jalopnik: Hurricane Maria was the most devastating hurricane to make land in Puerto Rico in nearly 100 years and the country is still reeling in its wake. Much of the island still doesn't have running water, reliable communication or electricity. Recently, NASA published a set of date-processed photos that show the island's nighttime lights both before and after the storm. Here, you can see images of the country's capital, San Juan, on a typical night before Maria. It's based on cloud-free and low moonlight conditions. Conversely, the following composite image is of data taken on the nights of Sept. 27 and 28 -- nearly a week after the storm hit -- by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, a scanning radiometer that collects visible and infrared imagery of land, atmosphere, cryosphere and oceans, according to NASA's website.
Networking

How Cisco Fixed An Undocumented SSH Support Tunnel In Umbrella (umbrella.com) 24

"Vulnerability due to always-on SSH Tunnel -- RESOLVED" reads a Cisco service update. An anonymous reader writes: Described by a recent security blog post, Cisco hid a SSH backdoor in its Cisco Umbrella product, which they were using for support. Affected organizations can install version 2.1.0 of their virtual appliance which has the backdoor removed.
Cisco has described Umbrella as "the first Secure Internet Gateway in the cloud," though the now-closed tunnel "auto-initiated from the customer's appliance to Cisco's SSH Hubs in the Umbrella datacenters." Cisco adds that it "did not require explicit customer approval before establishment." Access to the terminating server required valid keys and was provided only to privileged support personnel within the Cisco Umbrella network space. Customers could prevent this tunnel from getting established by blocking the relevant firewall ports. However, in the case of customers who allowed establishment of the tunnel, an attacker who obtained access to the internal Cisco terminating server could use the SSH tunnel as a backdoor to obtain full control of the VA device at the customer's premises...

It is our policy that any undocumented methods of entry into your network devices be considered a vulnerability due to the potential risk of an attacker leveraging this tunnel to gain access to your network. While Cisco has NO indications that our remote support SSH hubs have ever been compromised, Cisco has made significant changes to the behavior of the remote support tunnel capability to further secure the feature...

To address this vulnerability, the Umbrella Virtual Appliance version 2.1.0 now requires explicit customer approval before an SSH tunnel from the VA to the Cisco terminating server can be established... . For additional security, customer is required to provide tunnel configuration parameters out-of-band to the Cisco support personnel before tunnel establishment.

Open Source

Best Open Source Software Identified By InfoWorld Listicles (infoworld.com) 63

An anonymous reader writes: InfoWorld announced the winners of this year's "Best of Open Source Software Awards" -- honoring 68 different projects, spread across five categories. Besides the 15 best software development tools, they also recognized the best cloud computing software, machine learning tools, and networking and security software (as well as the best databases and analytics tools).

"Open source software isn't what it used to be," writes Doug Dineley, the site's executive editor. "The term used to conjure images of the lone developer, working into the night and through weekends, banging out line after line of code to scratch a personal itch or realize a personal vision... But as you wend your way through our Bossie winners, you're bound to be struck by the number of projects with heavyweight engineering resources behind them... Elsewhere in the open source landscape, valuable engineering resources come together in a different way -- through the shared interest of commercial software vendors."

More than 10% of the awards went to the Apache Software Foundation -- 7 of the 68 -- though I was surprised to see that five of the best software development tools are languages -- specifically Kotlin, Go, Rust, Clojure, and Typescript. Two more of the best open source software development tools were Microsoft products -- .Net Core and Visual Studio Code. And in the same category was OpenRemote a home automation platform, as well as Ethereum, which "smells and tastes like an open source project that is solving problems and serving developers."

Security

Companies Are Once Again Storing Data On Tape, Just in Case (marketwatch.com) 199

An anonymous reader shares a report: To stay up to date in the battle against hackers, some companies are turning to a 1950s technology. Storing data on tape seems impossibly inconvenient in an age of easy-access cloud computing. But that is the big security advantage of this vintage technology, since hackers have no way to get at the information. The federal government, financial-services firms, health insurers and other regulated industries still keep tape as a backup to digital records. Now a range of other companies are returning to tape as hackers get smarter about penetrating defenses -- and do much more damage when they do get in. Rob Pritchard, founder of the Cyber Security Expert consulting firm and associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, has noticed the steady resurgence of tape as part of best-practice backup strategies. "Companies of all sizes must be able to restore data quickly if needed," he says, "but also have a robust, slower-time, recovery mechanism should the worst happen." Mr. Pritchard, who works with a range of organizations to improve corporate cybersecurity practices, says: "A good backup strategy will have multiple layers. Cloud and online services have their place, but can be compromised."
IT

Refresh Is Sacred (tbray.org) 193

Several Slashdot readers share a blog post: There are two kinds of client applications: The first kind has a "refresh" or "reload" button to make sure your app's in sync with its server's view of the world. The second kind is broken. Of late, I have to deal regularly with several apps, notably including an emailer and car-sharing service, that lack such a button. I can imagine why -- a customer focused product manager said "Steve Jobs taught us that fewer controls are better and we should just take care of making sure we're in sync with the cloud. So lose the button. Except, it doesn't work. Apparently nobody in the world is smart enough to arrange flawlessly reliable hands-off client/cloud synchronization. There are times when you just know that what you're seeing on the screen is wrong and if the stupid app would just assume everything it knows is wrong and ask for a brain transplant from its server, things would be OK.
Red Hat Software

Analyst: Enterprises Trust Red Hat Because It 'Makes Open Source Boring' (redmonk.com) 105

Tech analyst James Governor reports on what he learned from Red Hat's "Analyst Day": So it turns out Red Hat is pretty good at being Red Hat. By that I mean Red Hat sticks to the knitting, carries water and chops wood, and generally just does a good job of packaging open source technology for enterprise adoption. It's fashionable these days to decry open source -- "it's not a business". Maybe not for you, but for Red Hat it sure is. Enterprises trust Red Hat precisely because it makes open source boring. Exciting and cool, on the other hand, often means getting paged in the middle of the night. Enterprise people generally don't like that kind of thing...

Red Hat remains an anomaly -- it makes money in open source. It has new revenue streams opening up. It is well positioned to keep doing the basics, but also now have a conversation with the C-suite about transformation.

The article notes the popularity of OpenShift, Red Hat's Kubernetes distribution for managing container-based applications. (OpenShift Container Platform, Red Hat's on-premises private PaaS product, now has 400 paying enterprise customers). And it also applauds Red Hat's 2016 launch of Open Innovation Labs -- a enterprise consulting service "to jumpstart innovation and software development initiatives using open source technology and DevOps methods."
Businesses

Amazon Starts Charging For Cloud Computing Resources By the Second (amazon.com) 51

AmiMoJo writes: "Back in the old days, you needed to buy or lease a server if you needed access to compute power," remembers Amazon's AWS blog. "When Amazon launched EC2 back in 2006, the ability to use an instance for an hour, and to pay only for that hour, was big news. The pay-as-you-go model inspired our customers to think about new ways to develop, test, and run applications of all types."

But now from the 2nd of October, Amazon will start billing Linux virtual machines by the second, with a one minute minimum.

IBM

IBM Open Sources 'WebSphere Liberty' For Java Microservices and Cloud-Native Apps (techrepublic.com) 17

An anonymous reader quotes TechRepublic: On Wednesday, IBM revealed the Open Liberty project, open sourcing its WebSphere Liberty code on GitHub to support Java microservices and cloud-native apps. The company created Liberty five years ago to help developers more quickly and easily create applications using agile and DevOps principles, according to an IBM developerWorks blog post from Ian Robinson, WebSphere Foundation chief architect at IBM... Developers can also choose to move to the commercial versions of WebSphere Liberty at any time, he noted, which include technical support and more specialized features... "We hope Open Liberty will help more developers turn their ideas into full-fledged, enterprise ready apps," Robinson wrote. "We also hope it will broaden the WebSphere family to include more ideas and innovations to benefit the broader Java community of developers at organizations big and small."
IBM argues that Open Liberty, along with the OpenJ9 VM they open sourced last week, "provides the full Java stack from IBM with a fully open licensing model."

Interestingly, Slashdot ran a story asking "IBM WebSphere SE To Be Opened?" -- back in 2000.
Microsoft

Microsoft and Canonical Make Custom Linux Kernel (neowin.net) 121

Billly Gates writes: Microsoft and Canonical's relationship is getting closer besides Ubuntu for Windows. Azure will soon be offering more customized Ubuntu containers with a MS optimized kernel. Uname -r will show 4.11.0-1011-azure for Ubuntu cloud based 16.04 LTS. If you want the non MS kernel you can still use it on Azure by typing:
$ sudo apt install linux-virtual linux-cloud-tools-virtual
$ sudo apt purge linux*azure
$ sudo reboot
The article mentions several benefits over the generic Linux kernel for Azure

Privacy

Passwords For 540,000 Car Tracking Devices Leaked Online (thehackernews.com) 33

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hacker News: Login credentials of more than half a million records belonging to vehicle tracking device company SVR Tracking have leaked online, potentially exposing the personal data and vehicle details of drivers and businesses using its service. Just two days ago, Viacom was found exposing the keys to its kingdom on an unsecured Amazon S3 server, and this data breach is yet another example of storing sensitive data on a misconfigured cloud server. The Kromtech Security Center was first to discover a wide-open, public-facing misconfigured Amazon Web Server (AWS) S3 cloud storage bucket containing a cache belonging to SVR that was left publicly accessible for an unknown period. Stands for Stolen Vehicle Records, the SVR Tracking service allows its customers to track their vehicles in real time by attaching a physical tracking device to vehicles in a discreet location, so their customers can monitor and recover them in case their vehicles are stolen. The leaked cache contained details of roughly 540,000 SVR accounts, including email addresses and passwords, as well as users' vehicle data, like VIN (vehicle identification number), IMEI numbers of GPS devices. The leaked database also exposed 339 logs that contained photographs and data about vehicle status and maintenance records, along with a document with information on the 427 dealerships that use SVR's tracking services.
Businesses

Oracle's Larry Ellison Pokes Amazon Again With New Cloud Pricing Plan (siliconangle.com) 65

Oracle went on the offensive again versus Amazon.com this week with a new cloud pricing plan that gives discounts to Oracle database customers who move their databases to the cloud. From a report: Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Larry Ellison said during an event at its Redwood City, California headquarters that while Oracle has matched Amazon Web Services for base-level computing, storage and networking services known as infrastructure as a service, it's now moving to make higher-level cloud services such as databases and analytics cheaper than AWS's. Actually, Ellison claimed that Oracle's infrastructure runs faster and therefore ends up costing less, but it's clear that the company is focusing more on its traditional strengths one tier up from the infrastructure: so-called platform as a service offerings such as the Oracle Database. Oracle said it will allow customers to move their existing licenses for databases, middleware and analytics to Oracle's platform services, just as they've allowed them to bring licenses to its infrastructure before.
Linux

Linux Foundation President Used MacOS For Presentation at Open Source Summit (itsfoss.com) 284

Slashdot reader mschaffer writes:It appears that Jim Zemlin, President of the Linux Foundation, was using MacOS while declaring "2017 is officially the year of the Linux desktop!" at the Open Source Summit 2017. This was observed by several YouTube channels: Switched to Linux and The Lunduke Show. Finally it was reported by It's FOSS.

if, indeed, this is the year of desktop Linux, why oh why cannot people like Zemlin present a simple slide presentation -- let alone actually use a Linux distro for work.

A security developer at Google has now "spotted Jim Zemlin using Apple's macOS twice in last four years," according to the article, which complains the Foundation's admirable efforts on cloud/container technology has them neglecting Linux on the desktop.

Ironically, in March Zemlin told a cloud conference that organizations that "don't harvest the shared innovation" of open source "will fail."
Microsoft

Will Linux Innovation Be Driven By Microsoft? (infoworld.com) 335

Adobe's VP of Mobile (and a former intellectual property lawyer) sees "a very possible future where Microsoft doesn't merely accept a peaceful coexistence with Linux, but instead enthusiastically embraces it as a key to its future," noting Microsoft's many Linux kernel developers and arguing it's already innovating around Linux -- especially in the cloud. An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: Even seemingly pedestrian work -- like making Docker containers work for Windows, not merely Linux -- is a big deal for enterprises that don't want open source politics infesting their IT. Or how about Hyper-V containers, which marry the high density of containers to the isolation of traditional VMs? That's a really big deal...

Microsoft has started hiring Linux kernel developers like Matthew Wilcox, Paul Shilovsky, and (in mid-2016) Stephen Hemminger... Microsoft now employs 12 Linux kernel contributors. As for what these engineers are doing, Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman says, "Microsoft now has developers contributing to various core areas of the kernel (memory management, core data structures, networking infrastructure), the CIFS filesystem, and of course many contributions to make Linux work better on its Hyper-V systems." In sum, the Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin declares, "It is accurate to say they are a core contributor," with the likelihood that Hemminger's and others' contributions will move Microsoft out of the kernel contribution basement into the upper echelons.

The article concludes that "Pigs, in other words, do fly. Microsoft, while maintaining its commitment to Windows, has made the necessary steps to not merely run on Linux but to help shape the future of Linux."

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