Facebook’s beefing up its huge army of Messenger bots as Google and Amazon catch up

The bot revolution is happening fast for Facebook. After launching third-party bots in April offering everything from forecasts to your boarding pass, the social network says there are now more than 11,000 bots active on Facebook.

To celebrate, Facebook is adding a bunch of new features that could show up on your favorite bots soon—if developers enable them, that is.

Persistent menu

fbbotsmenu

Persistent menus for the Poncho bot on Facebook Messenger.

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CIO Cloud Computing

Eric Schmidt sees a huge future for machine learning

The man who helped build Google from a search engine into one of the biggest and most influential companies in the world has predicted the emergence of a new computing architecture based on crowd-sourced data and machine learning.

Speaking at Google’s GCP Next cloud computing conference in San Francisco, Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt said the combination of crowd-sourced data and machine learning will be the basis of “every successful huge IPO” in five years.

He said the adoption of machine learning will allow companies to mine crowd-sourced data, which already provides a mass of information not previously available to companies, and improve on it.

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InfoWorld Cloud Computing

Foursquare founder @dens given Special Project by VCs. Huge haircut after down round

Dennis Crowley, Foursquare’s remaining co-founder gets kicked up to the boardroom, “of his own volition.” In news that may or may not be connected, 4sq gets yet another honking chunk of change to burn through—but the price is said to value Foursquare at way less than it was worth previously.

This will be the Series-E round, worth $ 45 million, led by Union Square. Other investors number Morgan Stanley, DFJ, Andreessen Horowitz, and Spark.

Presumably one or more of these VCs weren’t keen on Crowley’s performance at the location-based service, so asked him to tag in the old COO and CRO. Meanwhile, he’s been asked to “make something awesome.”

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

The Dell-EMC deal is huge, but where’s it headed?

I forget about Dell. It happens all the time — I see that cheerful, round, delightfully dated logo and have something of an “remember when?” moment. Dell hasn’t been a serious part of the big consumer device discussion in years, and some of that’s by design, really. Dell isn’t stupid — it knows that its strength in the PC market is waning and that soon, there won’t be enough meat on the bone to sustain a company that just made one of the biggest pure tech deals ever.

Today, the company made it official and announced the (inconceivably huge) $ 67 billion deal that’ll bring it together with EMC — making it, in Dell’s own words, “the world’s largest privately-controlled, integrated technology company.” This acquisition of EMC proves total recognition on Dell’s part that devices are not it’s way forward. Instead, Dell is targeting big IT and the enterprise market.

Information Technology and enterprise are aggressively unexciting arenas for consumers, but at a time when Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco, HP, Dell and everyone else are vying for a piece of the big enterprise pie (albeit in very different ways), it’s no small part of the vast technology landscape. The Dell-EMC deal is almost inconceivably massive, with that $ 67 billion price tag, but also serves as a larger indicator of what’s taking place in enterprise computing: consolidation.

“The market cannot continue to sustain all of these players,” said Glenn O’Donnell, Forrester’s Research Director for Infrastructure & Operations Professionals. “It’s going to continue to shrink into a number of mega-vendors.”

Dell’s trying to claw it’s way into a infrastructure and enterprise market that’s being rapidly devoured by cloud services–most notably, Amazon’s. Enterprise is where the money’s at, but it’s not a market that’s especially friendly towards fragmentation. So, is the Dell-EMC deal a game-changing power play or a $ 67 billion death rattle? That remains to be seen.

“They’ve got to consider how they’re going to play as a new and different vendor. Perpetuating the old-school IT model is not going to work,” said O’Donnell with regards to Dell going forward. “In the general landscape of technology, one big question has been looming…and that is: ‘What is the future for traditional tech? Are the HPs and the IBMs and the Dells and such really in a position to succeed in this new world order where the Amazons and the Microsoft Azures and the other cloud players are taking over…More and more of the IT investment is going into the cloud services, so what does that mean for these more traditional models?”

There’s a clear divide between hardware-heavy, old-school enterprise models and the light, agile enterprise solutions that are quickly eclipsing the clunky business tools of yore. Dell’s marketplace perception has long been one intrinsically tied to the devices it makes–the physical deliverables that are becoming a shrinking line item in its revenue stream.

“That is something that they need to move their messaging away from,” said Mukul Krishna, the Global Head of Frost & Sullivan’s Digital Media Group, “from a device company…to a much more agile, reconfigurable enterprise solution, scalable partner for the technology enterprise.”

To put it simply, big business is trying to lighten up and those not willing to join the cloud game and rethink flexible, scalable enterprise systems will be left behind. “Many of the technology companies who have taken a beating because they’ve focused on a very hardware-centric approach for a long time, have been trying to figure out what they need to do,” said Krishna.

So why these two companies? And why now? Well, rumors have been swirling around EMC for some time in light of stalling growth. And Dell? It’s looking to reinvent.

“One of the main reasons that Dell went private is because it wanted to restructure itself without all of the scrutiny,” said Krishna. “Buying someone like EMC that has been for a long period and has a very strong pedigree of selling that enterprise market was a very, very good thing because they immediately solved the perception problem.”

Effectively pulling EMC off of the market will allow Dell-EMC to make decisions without the scrutiny that comes from answering to the slew of investors that come with the public trading territory.

“The major attractiveness is that by merging with Dell and taking the company private it puts EMC’s assets in the hands of an owner that understands the value of EMC’s technology and also provides clear leadership in Michael Dell (as Joe Tucci retires),” said Matt Eastwood, an analyst with IDC. “The go private nature allows the company to make long term strategic bets around cloud, security, and analytics which will be critically important for the company in the future. The investments are difficult to defend as a public company looking where investors have a shorter term horizon for their returns.”

And as a company that needs to rethink its strategy for staying relevant in an enterprise conversation that’s quickly taking off towards the cloud, that freedom to maneuver may prove to be vital. Or, shall we say, Pivotal.

Pivotal is a joint venture between EMC and its most notable offspring (VMware) and was designed to compete with the enterprise cloud giant, Amazon Web Services. Dealing in big data and cloud computing, Pivotal encapsulates much of what Dell-EMC needs to become to keep up with the burgeoning enterprise market.

“The assets and strategic direction of the Pivotal umbrella cannot be overlooked,” said Laura DuBois, an IDC analyst. ” There is a change underway in enterprises – custom applications and being written in new ways, mimicking the direction Pivotal has taken.  These new applications lend themselves to server-based storage approaches.  So Pivotal gives Dell expertise in the app dev side and Dell provides the infrastructure software and systems.”

What about everyone else? We’ve established that enterprise is a big market with big margins. Where does a $ 67 billion deal leave the rest of the enterprise players? In short, it may lead to significant changes in enterprise technology cooperation.

“For the broader technology market, there will be shifts in strategy and partnerships that emerge,” said Eastwood. “For example, Cisco (a long term strategic EMC and VMware partner) may need to strike deeper alliances with others including NetApp, Microsoft Citrix, etc.  At the same time, Lenovo (another EMC storage partner) may be drawn closer to IBM for their storage needs.  Longer term, I believe the merger or EMC and Dell together will create the biggest headaches for HP Enterprise as they have many of the same hardware assets but Dell will now have deeper software assets in security, data management, virtualization and software defined infrastructures.”

The Dell-EMC deal is huge, but where’s it headed? originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015.

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Cloud

Hackers call Time on Ashley Madison — with huge data dump

The Ashley Madison hackers have released the site’s user data, as threatened. Or, at least, that’s what they say they’ve done.

There are strong indications that the data is real — at least, that it’s come from the site. However, it’s likely that much of the data is forged or bogus in some way, so don’t believe everything you read.

“Life is short. Have an affair.” — that was Ashley Madison’s strapline. Worryingly, for some spouses whose names appear in the dump, life might indeed be short.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers tread carefully.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

451 Research shows cloud costs falling slowly, but unearths huge savings for enterprises willing to commit




The latest 451 Research Cloud Price Index™ finds that while on-demand pricing has fallen only slightly at 2.25% since October 2014, it is nowhere near matching the 12% reduction achieved by those enterprises that negotiate and commit.

Using 451 Research’s cloud pricing model, representing a typical multi-service on-demand application, the cost is now $ 1.68 per hour; in October 2014, the cost for the equivalent basket of cloud services was $ 1.72.

Revealing the extent to which service providers encourage commitment to help them plan capacity and ensure capital for infrastructure investment, 451 Research’s best-case price indicator is only $ 0.95 – a huge 44% savings compared to on-demand. The best-case price measures the same application used the same way as on-demand pricing, but takes into consideration negotiation, subscriptions, reserved instances, term commitments, and sustained-use discounts.

Although the Cloud Price Index shows compute pricing has fallen by 4% and bandwidth has come down 3%, service providers are enjoying increased revenue and profits from other services such as management, PaaS, data and storage pricing, which have remained static over the same period.

“If you believe the hype, public cloud providers are in a cutthroat price war and ‘race to the bottom,’ where margins are being slashed, and profitability is at risk,” said Dr. Owen Rogers, senior analyst at 451 Research’s Digital Economics unit.

“The reality is there is no cloud price war. There are battles being fought over certain cloud services, particularly compute, where providers are seeking publicity and market share in return for price cuts. But cloud providers are more than just compute – considering 50% of our typical Web application’s costs relate to cloud databases, it’s easy to see how sales of more value-adding services can offset declining margins on basic services,” commented Rogers.

“Cloud has no bottom price,” Rogers adds. “Even if infrastructure is eventually given away for free, as long as the provider sells other services, which offset this loss, then it can still be a profitable business.”

The Cloud Price Index™ from 451 Research

451 Research created the Cloud Price Index to understand the real-world cost of cloud over time. Like a consumer price index, 451 Research’s Cloud Price Index is made up of a basket of goods, but in this case, it is a specification of the services required to operate a typical Web server application. The Cloud Price Index is the specification of a multi-service three-tier cloud application consisting of Linux VMs, object storage, block storage, relational databases, NoSQL databases, load balancing, access control lists and snapshot backup in a resilient architecture.

451 Research collects quotes from providers including AWS, CenturyLink, Colt, Google, Microsoft, Rackspace, Swisscom, Verizon and Windstream, representing 70% of today’s cloud market. By considering not just compute and storage in our basket, 451 analysts can understand pricing when related to end users’ real expenses, as well as service providers’ overall strategies. And we can analyze pricing now only in terms of on-demand consumption, but also when related to enterprise commitments and negotiations.

About 451 Research

451 Research is a preeminent information technology research and advisory company. With a core focus on technology innovation and market disruption, we provide essential insight for leaders of the digital economy. More than 100 analysts and consultants deliver that insight via syndicated research, quarterly market surveys of over 3,000 industry professionals, advisory services and live events to more than 1,000 client organizations in North America, Europe and around the world. Founded in 2000 and headquartered in New York, 451 Research is a division of The 451 Group. Learn more.