Passwords: This Necessary Evil [infographics]

computer-large-newPasswords are ubiquitous. We all use them and despite the fact that we keep grumbling that they aren’t good enough, we still rely on them in order to protect our most precious information like bank account details, personal and electronic commerce details and such like. What I learned today while looking at Ken Peterson’s infographics is that passwords, as it were, aren’t a new invention. They were created with WWII for cyphers and were adapted in 1972 to become the classic passwords as we know them. Yet, however important, passwords are still misused by users who use the same passwords for multiple sites (73%), use the same passwords for all their sites (33%), or even use the word “passwords” and other niceties as a secret code. all sources for stats are quoted at the end of the picture.

of geeks and men … a case of “us and them”

I spotted that picture (or rather, my wife did, let’s be honest) posted by Physicisttv on their Facebook page last night and I couldn’t help share it with you on this blog. The fact is we could change the caption for almost any kind of job that you/others/we (change pronoun) don’t – quite – understand.

howuserseeprogrammersandviceversa

Very often I have seen “business” people label their digital experts “geeks” while meaning “martians”. Even myself (roarrrrrring laughter!). Conversely, programmers see users as dummies (remember the intelligence chart in the Dilbert Principle in which Dilbert descibes end users as more stupid that hammers  and “silly putty”?!)

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 [in Dilbert Principle]

After all, I could well place an accountant in that chair and I’d see him as a martian because I never understood what these guys were up to. A case of “us and them”… a bit like what’s happening with helpdesks …

Dilbert.com

5 major trends for the future of IT and the Web – #blogbus

imageThe Orange Blogger bus tour – of which I am the organiser on behalf of Orange of which I am the Director of Internet and social media – was stopping by San Francisco today and the whole day was hosted by Orange Silicon Valley

Georges Nahon delivered a very inspiring keynote today before our panel of bloggers in which he shared his vision with regard to what is happening in IT in general, and in the Valley in particular. I will begin my account of Georges’s visionary presentation by detailing his conclusions. As I always do, I have taken detailed notes of the pitch and they are made available at the end of this piece. If there is one thing that should be remembered from that pitch is that the Web is everywhere and in everything that will be happening in the future. Something which established players don’t like according to the Head of Orange Silicon Valley. However, Nahon insisted on the fact that it won’t be the same Internet we used to know.

Facebook will be “Yahooed!”

“Social” has been going through a rough patch over the Summer, with the now infamous Facebook IPO, dubbed “IPOcalypse”, IPO meaning “It’s Probably Overpriced” Nahon said facetiously. Yet, Europeans are wrong when they interpret these issues as the end of social media, Georges Nahon said in essence. Social is here to stay, and beyond, it will change everything which takes place on the Web, even though Facebook itself will probably be “Yahooed!” Georges added.

But the worrying thing I got from his pitch is that, according to his analysis, next to the World Wide Web that we all know, an increasing number of companies, including Amazon, are creating a “non-searchable adjacent Web” which sounds very much like the end of the Web as Chris Anderson announced in Wired a few years ago. I think Georges is right indeed, there is a growing concern that Net neutrality is being sacrificed for the sake of user experience. Time will tell, but there are indeed worrying signs.

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Georges Nahon, head of Orange Silicon Valley, on the first day of the blogger bus tour

Here is how I summed up Georges’s 5 trends for the future of IT:

  1. Tech is all about mobile: “Twitter is a mobile-first company” and thriving he said, “Facebook isn’t and is suffering”. 10% of Internet traffic is made of mobile traffic. Yet, 25% of US users are using the Web from mobile only, but in Egypt, this number soars up to 70%, and India is close to 60%! And 68% place their mobile next to their bed while sleeping at night.
  2. The default is now social: and social meets mobile (over 50% of smartphones connect to Facebook). Social graph (Facebook), interest graph (Twitter) and influence graph (Klout) are the new frontiers of the Web and “they are here to stay … for a long time” Nahon said. For many, Facebook is the new web (“find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter). What is the future of search? it is social and both Google and Microsoft are working on it… “and Facebook search is coming fast” Nahon added.
  3. Another Web: At the same time, traditional web development is slowing down, and Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Mobile will continue develop their “non-searchable adjacent webs” as Nahon called it.
  4. The Cloud as a new frontier: “The new guys are Amazon, Zynga, Rackspace and even people like Google were taken by surprise” Nahon said. But there are even newer guys you may never heard of such as Bluejeans, Alfresco, Joyent and many many more. Explosive data growth is also forcing companies to develop solutions for data reduction. And “the next big thing isn’t Software, it’s data” Nahon concluded on that subject.
  5. All video will be on the Net: most players in that field are coming from the Internet world, not the media world. “We think that the future of TV is to be streamed” Nahon said. There is more innovation than ever before in that area he said. Nahon added though that the concept of app-centric TV on smart TVs wasn’t entirely convincing. Time Warner see their future in apps but another trend is Social TV (described by Nahon as “a descendant of interactive TV which never worked”. 85% of tablet owners use their device while watching TV he said. What are they doing? Social websites, Zynga, Search, Craigslits (an old web survivor!) according to Nielsen.

the future of the World Wide Web

So, what is the future of the Web? Georges Nahon highlighted 10 trends in that area too:

  1. the web is becoming data centric
  2. apps will rule consumer and entreprise innovations and html5 will infiltrate apps and web services
  3. non searchable adjacent webs will continue to develop and the web will be fragmented and site-less (mobile, apps)
  4. the web of sites is dead and Facebook like buttons are the new hyper links
  5. Real-time multi-user game cloud platforms will influence enterprise cloud technologies: the main issue will be “latency” ‘as already explained on that blog)
  6. 4G/LTE (which we all were using to day via local mifi devives) will trigger innovation
  7. mobile payment will kick off from 2015
  8. all video will be on the web
  9. Enterprise IT will shift to the cloud.
  10. Facebook will rule the web during the next 2 years and Google will be in catch-up mode and within 3 years they will be “Yahooed!” Nahon said
  11. Amazon will continue to diversify and will create more online commerce/entertainment clouds and mobile devices (tablets/phones). “Amazon is belittled in Europe” Nahon added, “and it should be considered as a major player, for Bezos is the new Steve Jobs”.

Started as an R&D organisation and evolved towards what they are today (scouting organisation). 60 people, 40 of  which are in a position to file patents and they file 20 per annum. Often, it’s about reviewing the strategy. Statement from Prussian general “no plan survives contact with the enemy” e.g. 5 years ago, no one had seen the iPhone coming. Even analysts. An none of these people has seen Apple becoming a major player in the Telecom industry => be prepared for the unexpected. There were times in which you telcos could go to the ITU organisation and get things sorted but this isn’t the case anymore.

Essentially Orange wants to get prepared for the future. One of the key elements for Silicon Valley is capital investment. In Bay Area only, venture investments represent $3.2 bn 46% of total investments in the USA (San Jose chronicle on Q2 results). Texas only represents $ 179 m (3%) despite the huge tech firms in that state. The core subjects is ICT and media but not only.

The software industry in Q2 of this year received the highest level of funding. (34 out of 39% other source) $2.37 bn i.e. 32% of the total.

Market capitalisation: Apple + Cisco +Oracle +Google +Intel have a total of $ 1,261.82 bn (IBM is only $236b or FTE $37b). What this hides is the myriad of small companies which help these companies become what they are.

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Rod Boothby: “with Joyent, service providers can deploy Clouds in a matter of weeks”

The last visit of our November press tour in the Silicon Valley took place in downtown San Francisco, with Joyent, an innovative company dedicated to Cloud deployments. Joyent is now planning to deploy in Europe, starting with France and the UK. A few important announcements were made at this meeting. We were greeted by Bryan Brown and Rod Boothby, respectively SVP Business Development and VP Global Business Development

introduction

199_1037 Joyent’s mission statement is simple: “the best in class software for cloud operators”. Joyent’s main customers are public cloud operators. The company was founded in 2004 and the cloud offering was launched in 2006. In 2009, Intel invested in Joyent and on November 19, 2010, DELL signed an OEM agreement with Joyent.

“Joyent isn’t the oldest, but one of the oldest Cloud operators” Brown added.

Joyent thinks it “is the only software company to build a complete Cloud stack”. Other companies have software stacks and others operate Clouds, whereas “we do both” Boothby said, “and we think that our only competitor is Microsoft”.

offering providers the “most profitable Cloud”

joyent Joyent’s goal is simple, they want to “offer service providers, the most profitable Cloud”. VMWare’s approach to virtualise servers, but Joyent’s solution is a complete data centre virtualisation offer. Here are somoe of Joyent’s differentiators.

  • operating system: a team of former SUN developers joined Joyent. That means that eveything can be optimised in the Cloud” Boothby said,
  • broad range of models can be offered to clients and more breadth of performance and better scalability,
  • the file system that Joyent is using is based on ZFS and it allows them to cache (mutilple tier cache approach mixing RAM and SSDs) and as a result is can run Windows a lot faster than anyone else.

The Joyent partner list includes players like load balancing company Zeus, New relic and Cohesion, Intel and Arista. Joyent is using Arista to manage their switching and this is making it possible to better control the cloud.

in real life: two striking examples

  • Here is a proven example with Gilt Groupe who – thanks to Joyent – is spending less than 1% of its revenue on infrastructure, which is 70% better than the average spend on that kind of things,
  • LinkedIn: uses Joyent to deploy all their ancillary project (mobile.linkedin.com for instance, is running on Joyent). What it means is that companies like LinkedIN can launch and only scale up if they are successful. Note: LinkedIn started in 2003, before Joyent launched and therefore, its main service is running off a legacy infrastructure. Bumper Sticker from LinkedIn is working off Joyent servers too,
  • a list of clients and business cases is available from Joyent’s web site.

the Joyent PAAS offering: node.js

The Platform as a service offering of Joyent’s is characterised by HTML5, CSS and Javascript. What is revolutionary is the non-io blocking server side javascript which is making it possible to run millions of users and it allows 784,000 requests per second (vs. approx. 40,000 requests per second for Google), “which is insane”, Boothby exclaimed.

What Joyent is claiming is that node.js is fast and light enough to support the “Internet of Things”

Becoming a public cloud service provider

If a service provider wanted to set up a public cloud for its clients, they would be able to do this in a matter of weeks, Boothby explained. Servers can be Dell but Joyent is Intel-based, so that other vendors can be chosen.

There are no limits to the number of virtual machines it can handle, and single sign on is included, and can be integrated with whatever legacy customer and billing system you have, Boothby explained.

Why bother? because there is more revenue per machine. On a JOyent cloud, one can generate 4 to 5 times more revenue per machine Rod Boothby explained, and this is based on our experience (they support over 30,000 customers, thousands of applications and billions of page views), and Joyent is confident that the only Cloud that will stay in such a competitive market is the one that is the most profitable.

This kind of turnkey approach means services too! This is why Joyent partnered with Dell services (formerly Perot systems). The Dell partnership will start immediately in the US but there are plans to expand in Europe and Asia, and “very strong in Asia”. “We have a long-standing relationship with Dell” explained Nema Badley, Director of Marketing at Joyent, precising that Joyent was running another press meeting at the same time in San Francisco.

PAAS and Cloud computing

In Joyent’s mind, there is a difference between PAAS (platform as a service) and Cloud computing, as PAAS is part of Cloud computing but Cloud goes beyond platforms. In the following video, I have asked our Joyent hosts to expatiate on this differentiation.

fusion-io: flash io-memory, flash results, flash growth

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note: this piece was originally written for the Orange Business Live blog

On November 16, we went on our third visit and we paid another visit to Fusion-io (see the account of our June visit to Fusion-io by clicking here). Fusion-io is the epitome of these successful technology companies as can be found almost only in the US and which make this kind of press trips so useful.

a stunning customer base

The company was founded in 2006 by David Flynn and Rick White. In 2007, it unveiled io-memory. In 2008, it launched its first products; but the market didn’t quite understand it. In 2009, it then partnered with HP and IBM and Lightspeed and Samsung invested money in the company. In 2010, WSJ named Fusion-io the no.2 emerging technology company; it is 300 employee-big, based in Salt Lake City, Utah and most of its execs are based in Mountain View, Calif. Fusion-io is a disruptive company. In 2009, it grew by 5 1/2 times. Customers include large names, mostly in the financial markets, such as Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse but also Web players like Facebook or the West coast hit veteran website Craigslist, and Zappos, Sears, GM, Boeing and Chevron …

the pain-points of data centre managers and Fusion-io’s response

192_0960 Jim Dawson, EVP worldwide sales at Fusion-io, explained to us the history of the disk drive and went into the details of the pain-points of clients and data centre managers. In 2007, one needs 25 disks to equate the performance of 1 CPU. In 1997, one needed 2 disks to do the same thing. Today, one needs 600 disks to equate the performance of a multicore processor.

This is the main pain-point: customers may not recognise this, but they will notice that 1 in 3 servers use less than 20% of their CPU potential and this is a big threat to datacentre productivity. The trend of SSDs was meant to turn flash and make it look like a disk, and the reason why we had this trend is that it was easy. Beyond that, Fusion-io has developed a new category, a hybrid of dRAM and storage which bridges the gap by providing the new form of storage called io-memory. But what does that mean to customers? Here are a few examples:

  • answers.com: grew from 350 to 3,500 queries per second, replication time increased 31 times (from over 6 hours to a little more than 12 minutes),
  • prime focus: improved data load support 20x in the same rack space,
  • datalogix: query time reduced from 2 hours to 4 minutes,
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: improved their bandwidth from 176MB/s per server to 4.75GB/s that is to say a 26.9x improvement,
  • Win.com improved their average SQL transaction time by taking down from 345 milliseconds to 88 milliseconds, i.e. a 4x improvement
  • etc.

We are talking about improvements which are 10x or more and this is why this small company from Utah has grown into a 3 digit million $ company in just 3 years! and the end-client benefits are not just about performance, they are also about savings related to power and cooling.

So, why do OEMs like HP and IBM agree to work with Fusion-io even though io-memory is aimed at reducing the number of servers and disks which they sell? In fact, they agree to this because it’s an inevitable change in the industry, that if they don’t do it, someone else will and besides, the servers they sell tend to be a lot more upmarket too. this underlying trend in the market is shown in the following diagram (source: Denali & Garner, February 2010) and shows that PCIe cards, the technology invented by Fusion-io should amount to more than 1/3 of the total SSD market by 2012-2013. The trend was set by Fusion-io and will soon become mainstream.

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