Computer technology trends for 2016

It seems that PC market seems to be stabilizing in 2016. I expect that the PC market to shrinks slightly. While mobile devices have been named as culprits for the fall of PC shipments, IDC said that other factors may be in play. It is still pretty hard to make any decent profits with building PC hardware unless you are one of the biggest players – so again Lenovo, HP, and Dell are increasing their collective dominance of the PC market like they did in 2015. I expect changes like spin-offs and maybe some mergers with with smaller players like Fujitsu, Toshiba and Sony. The EMEA server market looks to be a two-horse race between Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Dell, according to Gartner. HPE, Dell and Cisco “all benefited” from Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM’s EMEA x86 server organisation.

Tablet market is no longer high grow market – tablet maker has started to decline, and decline continues in 2016 as owners are holding onto their existing devices for more than 3 years. iPad sales are set to continue decline and iPad Air 3 to be released in 1st half of 2016 does not change that. IDC predicts that detachable tablet market set for growth in 2016 as more people are turning to hybrid devices. Two-in-one tablets have been popularized by offerings like the Microsoft Surface, with options ranging dramatically in price and specs. I am not myself convinced that the growth will be as IDC forecasts, even though Company have started to make purchases of tablets for workers in jobs such as retail sales or field work (Apple iPads, Windows and Android tablets managed by company). Combined volume shipments of PCs, tablets and smartphones are expected to increase only in the single digits.

All your consumer tech gear should be cheaper come July as shere will be less import tariffs for IT products as World Trade Organization (WTO) deal agrees that tariffs on imports of consumer electronics will be phased out over 7 years starting in July 2016. The agreement affects around 10 percent of the world trade in information and communications technology products and will eliminate around $50 billion in tariffs annually.

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In 2015 the storage was rocked to its foundations and those new innovations will be taken into wider use in 2016. The storage market in 2015 went through strategic foundation-shaking turmoil as the external shared disk array storage playbook was torn to shreds: The all-flash data centre idea has definitely taken off as a vision that could be achieved so that primary data is stored in flash with the rest being held in cheap and deep storage.  Flash drives generally solve the dusk drive latency access problem, so not so much need for hybrid drives. There is conviction that storage should be located as close to servers as possible (virtual SANs, hyper-converged industry appliances  and NVMe fabrics). The existing hybrid cloud concept was adopted/supported by everybody. Flash started out in 2-bits/cell MLC form and this rapidly became standard and TLC (3-bits/cell or triple layer cell) had started appearing. Industry-standard NVMe drivers for PCIe flash cards appeared. Intel and Micron blew non-volatile memory preconceptions out of the water in the second half of the year with their joint 3D XPoint memory announcement. Boring old disk  disk tech got shingled magnetic recording (SMR) and helium-filled drive technology; drive industry is focused on capacity-optimizing its drives.  We got key:value store disk drives with an Ethernet NIC on-board and basic GET and PUT object storage facilities came into being. Tape industry developed a 15TB LTO-7 format.

The use of SSD will increase and it’s price will drop. SSDs will be in more than 25% of new laptops sold in 2015.  SSDs are expected to be in 31% of new consumer laptops in 2016 and more than 40% by 2017. The prices of mainstream consumer SSDs have fallen dramatically every year over the past three years while HDD prices have not changed much.  SSD prices will decline to 24 cents per gigabyte in 2016. In 2017 they’re expected to drop to 11-17 cents per gigabyte (means a 1TB SSD on average would retail for $170 or less).

Hard disk sales will decrease, but this technology is not dead. Sales of hard disk drives have been decreasing for several years now (118 million units in the third quarter of 2015), but according to Seagate hard disk drives (HDDs) are set to still stay relevant around for at least 15 years to 20 years.  HDDs remain the most popular data storage technology as it is cheapest in terms of per-gigabyte costs. While SSDs are generally getting more affordable, high-capacity solid-state drives are not going to become as inexpensive as hard drives any time soon. 

Because all-flash storage systems with homogenous flash media are still too expensive to serve as a solution to for every enterprise application workload, enterprises will increasingly turn to performance optimized storage solutions that use a combination of multiple media types to deliver cost-effective performance. The speed advantage of Fibre Channel over Ethernet has evaporated. Enterprises also start  to seek alternatives to snapshots that are simpler and easier to manage, and will allow data and application recovery to a second before the data error or logical corruption occurred.

Local storage and the cloud finally make peace in 2016 as the decision-makers across the industry have now acknowledged the potential for enterprise storage and the cloud to work in tandem. Over 40 percent of data worldwide is expected to live on or move through the cloud by 2020 according to IDC.

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Open standards for data center development are now a reality thanks to advances in cloud technology. Facebook’s Open Compute Project has served as the industry’s leader in this regard.This allows more consolidation for those that want that. Consolidation used to refer to companies moving all of their infrastructure to the same facility. However, some experts have begun to question this strategy as  the rapid increase in data quantities and apps in the data center have made centralized facilities more difficult to operate than ever before. Server virtualization, more powerful servers and an increasing number of enterprise applications will continue to drive higher IO requirements in the datacenter.

Cloud consolidation starts heavily in 2016: number of options for general infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud services and cloud management software will be much smaller at the end of 2016 than the beginning. The major public cloud providers will gain strength, with Amazon, IBM SoftLayer, and Microsoft capturing a greater share of the business cloud services market. Lock-in is a real concern for cloud users, because PaaS players have the ancient imperative to find ways to tie customers to their platforms and aren’t afraid to use them so advanced users want to establish reliable portability across PaaS products in a multi-vendor, multi-cloud environment.

Year 2016 will be harder for legacy IT providers than 2015. In its report, IDC states that “By 2020, More than 30 percent of the IT Vendors Will Not Exist as We Know Them Today.” Many enterprises are turning away from traditional vendors and toward cloud providers. They’re increasingly leveraging open source. In short, they’re becoming software companies. The best companies will build cultures of performance and doing the right thing — and will make data and the processes around it self-service for all their employees. Design Thinking to guide companies who want to change the lives of its customers and employees. 2016 will see a lot more work in trying to manage services that simply aren’t designed to work together or even be managed – for example Whatever-As-A-Service cloud systems to play nicely together with their existing legacy systems. So competent developers are the scarce commodity. Some companies start to see Cloud as a form of outsourcing that is fast burning up inhouse ITops jobs with varying success.

There are still too many old fashioned companies that just can’t understand what digitalization will mean to their business. In 2016, some companies’ boards still think the web is just for brochures and porn and don’t believe their business models can be disrupted. It gets worse for many traditional companies. For example Amazon is a retailer both on the web and increasingly for things like food deliveries. Amazon and other are playing to win. Digital disruption has happened and will continue.
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Windows 10 is coming more on 2016. If 2015 was a year of revolution, 2016 promises to be a year of consolidation for Microsoft’s operating system. I expect that Windows 10 adoption in companies starts in 2016. Windows 10 is likely to be a success for the enterprise, but I expect that word from heavyweights like Gartner, Forrester and Spiceworks, suggesting that half of enterprise users plan to switch to Windows 10 in 2016, are more than a bit optimistic. Windows 10 will also be used in China as Microsoft played the game with it better than with Windows 8 that was banned in China.

Windows is now delivered “as a service”, meaning incremental updates with new features as well as security patches, but Microsoft still seems works internally to a schedule of milestone releases. Next up is Redstone, rumoured to arrive around the anniversary of Windows 10, midway through 2016. Also Windows servers will get update in 2016: 2016 should also include the release of Windows Server 2016. Server 2016 includes updates to the Hyper-V virtualisation platform, support for Docker-style containers, and a new cut-down edition called Nano Server.

Windows 10 will get some of the already promised features not delivered in 2015 delivered in 2016. Windows 10 was promised coming  to PCs and Mobile devices in 2015 to deliver unified user experience. Continuum is a new, adaptive user experience offered in Windows 10 that optimizes the look and behavior of apps and the Windows shell for the physical form factor and customer’s usage preferences. The promise was same unified interface for PCs, tablets and smart phones – but it was only delivered in 2015 for only PCs and some tablets. Mobile Windows 10 for smart phone is expected to start finally in 2016 – The release of Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system may be the last roll of the dice for its struggling mobile platform. Because Microsoft Plan A is to get as many apps and as much activity as it can on Windows on all form factor with Universal Windows Platform (UWP), which enables the same Windows 10 code to run on phone and desktop. Despite a steady inflow of new well-known apps, it remains unclear whether the Universal Windows Platform can maintain momentum with developer. Can Microsoft keep the developer momentum going? I am not sure. In addition there are also plans for tools for porting iOS apps and an Android runtime, so expect also delivery of some or all of the Windows Bridges (iOS, web app, desktop app, Android) announced at the April 2015 Build conference in hope to get more apps to unified Windows 10 app store. Windows 10 does hold out some promise for Windows Phone, but it’s not going to make an enormous difference. Losing the battle for the Web and mobile computing is a brutal loss for Microsoft. When you consider the size of those two markets combined, the desktop market seems like a stagnant backwater.

Older Windows versions will not die in 2016 as fast as Microsoft and security people would like. Expect Windows 7 diehards to continue holding out in 2016 and beyond. And there are still many companies that run their critical systems on Windows XP as “There are some people who don’t have an option to change.” Many times the OS is running in automation and process control systems that run business and mission-critical systems, both in private sector and government enterprises. For example US Navy is using obsolete operating system Microsoft Windows XP to run critical tasks. It all comes down to money and resources, but if someone is obliged to keep something running on an obsolete system, it’s the wrong approach to information security completely.

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Virtual reality has grown immensely over the past few years, but 2016 looks like the most important year yet: it will be the first time that consumers can get their hands on a number of powerful headsets for viewing alternate realities in immersive 3-D. Virtual Reality will become the mainstream when Sony, and Samsung Oculus bring consumer products on the market in 2016. Whole virtual reality hype could be rebooted as Early build of final Oculus Rift hardware starts shipping to devs. Maybe HTC‘s and Valve‘s Vive VR headset will suffer in the next few month. Expect a banner year for virtual reality.

GPU and FPGA acceleration will be used in high performance computing widely. Both Intel and AMD have products with CPU and GPU in the same chip, and there is software support for using GPU (learn CUDA and/or OpenCL). Also there are many mobile processors have CPU and GPU on the same chip. FPGAs are circuits that can be baked into a specific application, but can also be reprogrammed later. There was lots of interest in 2015 for using FPGA for accelerating computations as the nest step after GPU, and I expect that the interest will grow even more in 2016. FPGAs are not quite as efficient as a dedicated ASIC, but it’s about as close as you can get without translating the actual source code directly into a circuit. Intel bought Altera (big FPGA company) in 2015 and plans in 2016 to begin selling products with a Xeon chip and an Altera FPGA in a single packagepossibly available in early 2016.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning will be talked about a lot in 2016. Neural networks, which have been academic exercises (but little more) for decades, are increasingly becoming mainstream success stories: Heavy (and growing) investment in the technology, which enables the identification of objects in still and video images, words in audio streams, and the like after an initial training phase, comes from the formidable likes of Amazon, Baidu, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and others. So-called “deep learning” has been enabled by the combination of the evolution of traditional neural network techniques, the steadily increasing processing “muscle” of CPUs (aided by algorithm acceleration via FPGAs, GPUs, and, more recently, dedicated co-processors), and the steadily decreasing cost of system memory and storage. There were many interesting releases on this in the end of 2015: Facebook Inc. in February, released portions of its Torch software, while Alphabet Inc.’s Google division earlier this month open-sourced parts of its TensorFlow system. Also IBM Turns Up Heat Under Competition in Artificial Intelligence as SystemML would be freely available to share and modify through the Apache Software Foundation. So I expect that the year 2016 will be the year those are tried in practice. I expect that deep learning will be hot in CES 2016 Several respected scientists issued a letter warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI) in 2015, but I don’t worry about a rogue AI exterminating mankind. I worry about an inadequate AI being given control over things that it’s not ready for. How machine learning will affect your business? MIT has a good free intro to AI and ML.

Computers, which excel at big data analysis, can help doctors deliver more personalized care. Can machines outperform doctors? Not yet. But in some areas of medicine, they can make the care doctors deliver better. Humans repeatedly fail where computers — or humans behaving a little bit more like computers — can help. Computers excel at searching and combining vastly more data than a human so algorithms can be put to good use in certain areas of medicine. There are also things that can slow down development in 2016: To many patients, the very idea of receiving a medical diagnosis or treatment from a machine is probably off-putting.

Internet of Things (IoT) was talked a lot in 2015, and it will be a hot topics for IT departments in 2016 as well. Many companies will notice that security issues are important in it. The newest wearable technology, smart watches and other smart devices corresponding to the voice commands and interpret the data we produce - it learns from its users, and generate appropriate  responses in real time. Interest in Internet of Things (IoT) will as bring interest to  real-time business systems: Not only real-time analytics, but real-time everything. This will start in earnest in 2016, but the trend will take years to play out.

Connectivity and networking will be hot. And it is not just about IoT.  CES will focus on how connectivity is proliferating everything from cars to homes, realigning diverse markets. The interest will affect job markets: Network jobs are hot; salaries expected to rise in 2016  as wireless network engineers, network admins, and network security pros can expect above-average pay gains.

Linux will stay big in network server marker in 2016. Web server marketplace is one arena where Linux has had the greatest impact. Today, the majority of Web servers are Linux boxes. This includes most of the world’s busiest sites. Linux will also run many parts of out Internet infrastructure that moves the bits from server to the user. Linux will also continue to rule smart phone market as being in the core of Android. New IoT solutions will be moist likely to be built mainly using Linux in many parts of the systems.

Microsoft and Linux are not such enemies that they were few years go. Common sense says that Microsoft and the FOSS movement should be perpetual enemies.  It looks like Microsoft is waking up to the fact that Linux is here to stay. Microsoft cannot feasibly wipe it out, so it has to embrace it. Microsoft is already partnering with Linux companies to bring popular distros to its Azure platform. In fact, Microsoft even has gone so far as to create its own Linux distro for its Azure data center.

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Web browsers are coming more and more 64 bit as Firefox started 64 bit era on Windows and Google is killing Chrome for 32-bit Linux. At the same time web browsers are loosing old legacy features like NPAPI and Silverlight. Who will miss them? The venerable NPAPI plugins standard, which dates back to the days of Netscape, is now showing its age, and causing more problems than it solves, and will see native support removed by the end of 2016 from Firefox. It was already removed from Google Chrome browsers with very little impact. Biggest issue was lack of support for Microsoft’s Silverlight which brought down several top streaming media sites – but they are actively switching to HTML5 in 2016. I don’t miss Silverlight. Flash will continue to be available owing to its popularity for web video.

SHA-1 will be at least partially retired in 2016. Due to recent research showing that SHA-1 is weaker than previously believed, Mozilla, Microsoft and now Google are all considering bringing the deadline forward by six months to July 1, 2016.

Adobe’s Flash has been under attack from many quarters over security as well as slowing down Web pages. If you wish that Flash would be finally dead in 2016 you might be disappointed. Adobe seems to be trying to kill the name by rebranding trick: Adobe Flash Professional CC is now Adobe Animate CC. In practive it propably does not mean much but Adobe seems to acknowledge the inevitability of an HTML5 world. Adobe wants to remain a leader in interactive tools and the pivot to HTML5 requires new messaging.

The trend to try to use same same language and tools on both user end and the server back-end continues. Microsoft is pushing it’s .NET and Azure cloud platform tools. Amazon, Google and IBM have their own set of tools. Java is on decline. JavaScript is going strong on both web browser and server end with node.js , React and many other JavaScript libraries. Apple also tries to bend it’s Swift programming language now used to make mainly iOS applications also to run on servers with project Perfect.

Java will still stick around, but Java’s decline as a language will accelerate as new stuff isn’t being written in Java, even if it runs on the JVM. We will  not see new Java 9 in 2016 as Oracle’s delayed the release of Java 9 by six months. The register tells that Java 9 delayed until Thursday March 23rd, 2017, just after tea-time.

Containers will rule the world as Docker will continue to develop, gain security features, and add various forms of governanceUntil now Docker has been tire-kicking, used in production by the early-adopter crowd only, but it can change when vendors are starting to claim that they can do proper management of big data and container farms.

NoSQL databases will take hold as they be called as “highly scalable” or “cloud-ready.” Expect 2016 to be the year when a lot of big brick-and-mortar companies publicly adopt NoSQL for critical operations. Basically NoSQL could be seem as key:value store, and this idea has also expanded to storage systems: We got key:value store disk drives with an Ethernet NIC on-board and basic GET and PUT object storage facilities came into being.

In the database world Big Data will be still big but it needs to be analyzed in real-time. A typical big data project usually involves some semi-structured data, a bit of unstructured (such as email), and a whole lot of structured data (stuff stored in an RDBMS). The cost of Hadoop on a per-node basis is pretty inconsequential, the cost of understanding all of the schemas, getting them into Hadoop, and structuring them well enough to perform the analytics is still considerable. Remember that you’re not “moving” to Hadoop, you’re adding a downstream repository, so you need to worry on systems integration and latency issues. Apache Spark will also get interest as Spark’s multi-stage in-memory primitives provides more performance  for certain applications. Big data brings with it responsibility – Digital consumer confidence must be earned.

IT security continues to be a huge issue in 2016. You might be able to achieve adequate security against hackers and internal threats but every attempt to make systems idiot proof just means the idiots get upgraded. Firms are ever more connected to each other and the general outside world. So in 2016 we will see even more service firms accidentally leaking critical information and a lot more firms having their reputations scorched by incompetence fuelled security screw-ups. Good security people are needed more and more – a joke doing the rounds of ITExecs doing interviews is “if you’re a decent security bod, why do you need to look for a job”

There will still be unexpected single points of failures in big distributed networked system. The cloud behind the silver lining is that Amazon or any other cloud vendor can be as fault tolerant, distributed and well supported as you like, but if a service like Akamai or Cloudflare was to die, you still stop. That’s not a single point of failure in the classical sense but it’s really hard to manage unless you go for full cloud agnosticism – which is costly. This is hard to justify when their failure rate is so low, so the irony is that the reliability of the content delivery networks means fewer businesses work out what to do if they fail. Oh, and no one seems to test their mission-critical data centre properly, because it’s mission criticalSo they just over-specify where they can and cross their fingers (= pay twice and get the half the coverage for other vulnerabilities).

For IT start-ups it seems that Silicon Valley’s cash party is coming to an end. Silicon Valley is cooling, not crashing. Valuations are falling. The era of cheap money could be over and valuation expectations are re-calibrating down. The cheap capital party is over. It could mean trouble for weaker startups.



  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    AMD Clocks Ryzen at 3.4 GHz+
    Summit Ridge vies with Intel Extreme Edition

    The new x86 core inside Advanced Micro Devices’ Summit Ridge SoC will run at 3.4 GHz or higher and carry the brand name Ryzen. Analysts said that the high-end version of the SoC could steal a performance lead from archrival Intel in gaming systems.

    AMD also revealed a new chip interconnect that is a superset of Hypertransport. It will serve as a network-on-chip and coherent link between processors for Summit Ridge and all future AMD x86 and graphics processors. The new fabric, called Infinity, also carries new algorithms for branch prediction and dynamic power and frequency scaling.

    Summit Ridge targets a relatively small but profitable and strategic market where Intel sells Extreme Edition chips for prices in the range of $1,000. The 3.4-GHz base frequency is welcome in this sector that likes to use techniques to push the chips to even higher data rates.

    “This is about AMD making a statement that it is back in the performance business,” said Kevin Krewell, senior analyst for Tirias Research.

    AMD “won’t win lots of PC market share immediately [with Summit Ridge]; it’s more of a statement. The product will have good profit margins, but it’s not that big a market to drive change in AMD’s bottom line,” he said.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Microsoft officially introduces Zo Chatbot, available on Kik now, coming to Facebook Messenger and Skype in future

    Microsoft’s AI vision, rooted in research, conversations

    Microsoft has been investing in the promise of artificial intelligence for more than 25 years — and this vision is coming to life with new chatbot Zo, Cortana Devices SDK and Skills Kit, and expansion of intelligence tools.

    “Across several industry benchmarks, our computer vision algorithms have surpassed others in the industry — even humans,” said Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Research group, at a small gathering on AI in San Francisco on Dec. 13. “But what’s more exciting to me is that our vision progress is showing up in our products like HoloLens and with customers like Uber building apps to use these capabilities.”

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tony Romm / Politico:
    IBM announces plan to hire 25K new workers in the US over the next four years, including 6K the next year, and a $1B investment for training and development

    Ahead of Trump-tech meeting, IBM announces hiring, investment pledge

    IBM CEO Ginni Rometty announced Tuesday that her company would hire 25,000 new workers over the next four years, a pledge that comes a day before she and her tech colleagues are set to meet with President-elect Donald Trump in New York to talk about the economy.

    Writing in USA Today, Rometty said her hiring commitment — which includes 6,000 fresh hires in the next year — would be coupled with $1 billion for training and development for IBM workers and an expansion of the company’s U.S. cloud data center.

    Rometty’s commitments set the stage for her arrival Wednesday — along with executives from Alphabet, Apple, Facebook and others — at Trump Tower for a meeting with the president-elect and his team, which will focus on jobs and the economy.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    VC investments in on-demand delivery startups have slowed to a trickle in the latter half of 2016, with only $50M invested in the fourth quarter

    Silicon Valley VCs are growing wary of on-demand delivery

    Michael Moritz – chairman of Sequoia Capital and one of the most successful venture capitalists in history – says a simple vision led him to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in on-demand delivery startups.

    “The movement of goods and services and people, by easier, more convenient means,”

    But that torrent of money has slowed to a relative trickle in the last half of this year, and many VCs have lost faith in a sector that once seemed like the obvious extension of the success of ride-services juggernauts such as Uber.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Brian Fung / Washington Post:
    Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Tesla CEO Elon Musk taking on strategic advisory roles with Trump, will “meet with the president frequently”

    Elon Musk and the chief executive of Uber are now advising Donald Trump

    The heads of Uber and Tesla are taking on strategic advisory roles with President-elect Donald Trump.

    The announcement came hours ahead of a major meeting between Trump and tech executives Wednesday. Musk is expected to attend, along with top execs from Apple, Facebook, Google and a handful of other companies.

    It’s no secret that much of Silicon Valley backed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race — which is partly why Wednesday’s meeting with tech executives represents a watershed moment for an industry that could be powerfully affected by a Trump presidency. Trump already has shown that he can move stocks with little more than a tweet.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Silicon Valley Engineers Pledge To Never Build A Muslim Registry

    Engineers and employees from major tech companies — including Google, IBM, Slack, and Stripe — have pledged never to build a database of people based on their religious beliefs.

    A group of nearly 60 employees at major tech companies have signed a pledge refusing to help build a Muslim registry. The pledge states that signatories will advocate within their companies to minimize collection and retention of data that could enable ethnic or religious targeting under the Trump administration, to fight any unethical or illegal misuse of data, and to resign from their positions rather than comply.

    The group describes themselves as “engineers, designers, business executives, and others whose jobs include managing or processing data about people.”

    Silicon Valley tech companies themselves have, for the most part, stayed silent or declined to comment when asked about similar commitments to upholding civil rights.

    Right now within tech companies, “there’s a lot of conversation happening about what people’s ethical lines are,” Honeywell told BuzzFeed. “I think that’s really important. We don’t know what’s ahead, but we can at least lay down some ethical boundaries for our own behavior, and hopefully encourage others to do the same.”

    Facebook Spokesperson Calls Muslim Registry “Straw Man”

    The company subsequently refused to comment on whether it would decline to participate in building such a registry, or endorse data collection policies championed by a group of Silicon Valley technology employees.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Natasha Lomas / TechCrunch:
    IEEE puts out 136-page first draft guide for how tech industry can achieve ethical AI design, covering topics like transparency, respect for human rights, more

    IEEE puts out a first draft guide for how tech can achieve ethical AI design

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Another Veteran Ubuntu Member Is Leaving Canonical

    Well, this is a bit strange and hopefully just developers looking to recharge and find new endeavors for 2017 as opposed to any exodus, but just hours after writing about Martin Pitt leaving Canonical to join Red Hat, another longtime Ubuntu developer is leaving the company too.

    Martin Pitt had been at Canonical for 12.5 years while the other developer leaving was there for 11 years: Daniel Holbach. Daniel had been with Canonical since 2005 and served as a developer on the desktop team, founded Ubuntu’s community teams, and then in the past few years had been working in community management and related community/relations areas.

    Taking a break

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    PwC sends ‘cease and desist’ letters to researchers who found critical flaw
    The researchers disclosed details of the flaw, despite receiving two written legal threats.

    A security research firm has released details of a “critical” flaw in a security tool, despite being threatened with legal action.

    Munich-based ESNC published a security advisory last week detailing how a remotely exploitable bug in a security tool, developed by auditing and tax giant PwC, could allow an attacker to gain unauthorized access to an affected SAP system.

    The advisory said that an attacker could “manipulate accounting documents and financial results, bypass change management controls, and bypass segregation of duties restrictions,” which could result in “fraud, theft or manipulation of sensitive data,” as well as the “unauthorized payment transactions and transfer of money.”

    An attacker could also add a backdoor to the affected server, it read.

    The researchers contacted and met with PwC in August to discuss the scope of the flaw. As part of its responsible disclosure policy, the researchers gave PwC three months to fix the flaw before a public advisory would be published.

    Three days later, the corporate giant responded with legal threats.

    “We believe in responsible disclosure,” said Ertunga Arsal, chief executive of ESNC, in an email on Monday.

    “We are security company, which is publicly credited by SAP and other companies for discovery of over 100 security vulnerabilities to date,” he said.

    Arsal said that this was the first time his company had submitted a vulnerability report to PwC, but it was also the first time that his company received a legal threat.

    In an email, a spokesperson for PwC acknowledged the existence of the vulnerability and confirmed that it had been fixed.

    The corporate giant argued that ESNC shouldn’t have had access to the software in the first place, as it wasn’t a licensed partner.

    “ESNC did not receive authorized access or a license to use this software.”

    “We informed PwC about the vulnerability and how it can be used to add a backdoor SAP admin account on the system during a meeting with their experts,” said Arsal. “We gave them sufficient time to patch the vulnerability and to inform their customers.”

    Realizing the severity of the flaw, Arsal said that he “offered [PwC] our help during this process.”

    Given the hostility that some researchers face, it makes you wonder why some people bother to report vulnerabilities in the first place.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Meg Whitman: HPE software’s new owner? Kill a product? NEVER!
    … we can easily kill off products ourselves

    Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s chief recently told customers that Micro Focus, the soon-to-be new owner of its Software division, has never closed a product from a firm it acquired. What HPE didn’t tell those clients is that it itself was going to kill off a certain line – Service Anywhere.

    The US giant has confirmed in a statement to The Reg that it is doing a bit of housekeeping before sending the business into the welcoming arms of Micro Focus in March.

    “To better focus investment, innovation and go forward strategy in our IT Service Management Automation portfolio, HPE will discontinue new sales for our Service Anywhere SaaS offering,” a spokesman told us.

    She told an audience of CIO and senior tech buyers that their investments in HPE Software were safe in the hands of Micro Focus.

    Whitman claimed HPE would not have sold its Software business had it not been assured of the buyer’s noble intentions.

    “In fact, Micro Focus, on the one hand, has never shut down a product that they have acquired or merged with and they also have many growing assets and businesses that we think will be important to all of you going forward.”

    “Micro Focus has apparently never shut down a product, according to Meg Whitman… Looks like HPE is getting that out of the way before the spin merge. First for the chip is pure SaaS management products, sales halted…. more Software products expected to be culled soon,”

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Jacob Kastrenakes / The Verge:
    California adopts energy standards requiring idle computers to draw less power; energy commission estimates 6% of desktops, 73% of laptops meet standards — California became the first state in the US to approve energy efficiency requirements for laptops, desktops, and monitors today …

    California approves first US energy efficiency standards for computers

    California became the first state in the US to approve energy efficiency requirements for laptops, desktops, and monitors today, in a change that could ultimately impact computers’ energy efficiency across the country.

    The new standards, approved by California’s Energy Commission, require most computers to draw less power while idle. Laptops are only required to see a slight reduction in power draw, since they’re already designed to be energy efficient; the commission estimates that 73 percent of shipping laptops won’t need any sort of change.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kids, look at the Deep Learnings! (We’re just going to slurp your data)
    Oh, Evernote. What have you done?

    Comment Just weeks after Evernote announced that it is migrating users’ data from its own servers to Google’s servers, the company has now casually dropped a privacy bombshell. In order for some (unspecified) occult AI magic to work in the future, your data will be merged with other data. Oh. And Evernote staff can read all your notes.

    Here we see Silicon Valley using “AI” and “Deep Learning” as a justification to offer little, but take away quite a lot. This week Evernote wrote to users:

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Microsoft is creating talking bots that will call you on Skype

    Microsoft has spent a large part of this year focusing on its bot efforts within Skype. While a number of new messaging bots like Expedia and UPS are starting to appear in Skype, Microsoft has bigger plans for next year. “Soon our partners will be able to create talking bots with the general availability of the Skype calling API,” says a Skype spokesperson. “That means users will be able to interact with bots that can actually speak to you.”

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Building a Coder’s Paradise Is Not Profitable: GitHub Lost $66M In Nine Months Of 2016

    Though not much popular outside the technology circles, GitHub is very popular among coders around the world. The startup operates a sort of Google Docs for programmers, giving them a place to store, share and collaborate on their work. But GitHub is losing money through profligate spending and has stood by as new entrants emerged in a software category it essentially gave birth to,

    GitHub Is Building a Coder’s Paradise. It’s Not Coming Cheap
    The VC-backed unicorn startup lost $66 million in nine months of 2016, financial documents show.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Beauty is in the AI of the beholder: Young blokes teach computer to judge women by their looks
    Yeah, this is just what we need

    Chinese researchers claim to have taken facial recognition to the next level – by predicting the personality traits of women from their photos alone.

    Or rather, given the labels on the training data, predicting the personality traits young guys expect women to have from their looks alone.

    Undeterred by all the flak they received for their earlier machine-learning system that tried to predict a person’s propensity for criminal behavior from their appearance, the eggheads have come up with a sequel.

    Their latest study, titled Automated Inference on Sociopsychological Impressions of Attractive Female Faces, was published by arXiv, the online open-sourced pre-print journal – the paper has not been accepted by an official journal yet.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Oracle Begins Aggressively Pursuing Java Licensing Fees

    Java SE is free, but Java SE Suite and various flavors of Java SE Advanced are not, and now Oracle “is massively ramping up audits of Java customers it claims are in breach of its licenses,” reports the Register.

    Oracle bought Java with Sun Microsystems in 2010 but only now is its License Management Services division chasing down people for payment, we are told by people familiar with the matter. The database giant is understood to have hired 20 individuals globally this year, whose sole job is the pursuit of businesses in breach of their Java licenses… Huge sums of money are at stake, with customers on the hook for multiple tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Oracle finally targets Java non-payers – six years after plucking Sun
    Thought Java was ‘free’? Think again (and you owe us $$$ in 2017)

    Oracle is massively ramping up audits of Java customers it claims are in breach of its licences – six years after it bought Sun Microsystems.

    A growing number of Oracle customers and partners have been approached by Larry Ellison’s firm, which claims they are out of compliance on Java.

    Oracle bought Java with Sun Microsystems in 2010 but only now is its License Management Services (LMS) division chasing down people for payment, we are told by people familiar with the matter.

    The database giant is understood to have hired 20 individuals globally this year, whose sole job is the pursuit of businesses in breach of their Java licences.

    The version of Java in contention is Java SE, with three paid flavours that range from $40 to $300 per named user and from $5,000 to $15,000 for a processor licence.

    Experts are now advising extreme caution in downloading Java SE while those who’ve downloaded should review their use – and be prepared before LMS comes calling.

    “Java is something that comes up more and more with our clients because Oracle is pushing them more and more,” Guarente said.

    The root cause seems to be the false perception that Java is “free”.

    Oracle has taken the decision to monetise Java more aggressively.

    Java SE is free but Java SE Advanced Desktop, Advanced and Suite are not. Java SE Suite, for example, costs $300 per named user with a support bill of $66; there’s a per-processor option of $15,000 with a $3,300 support bill.

    Java SE is free for what Oracle defines as “general purpose computing” – devices that in the words of its licence cover desktops, notebooks, smartphones and tablets. It is not free for what Oracle’s licence defines as “specialized embedded computers used in intelligent systems”, which Oracle further defines as – among other things – mobile phones, hand-held devices, networking switches and Blu-Ray players.

    If you want to roll out Java SE in a big deployment, as you would following development of your app, then you’ll need Microsoft Windows Installer Enterprise JRE Installer – and that’s not part of the free Java SE.

    “People aren’t aware,”

    What should you do?

    “If you download Java, you get everything – and you need to make sure you are installing only the components you are entitled to and you need to remove the bits you aren’t using,” our anonymous expert warned.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Look Who’s Back! Microsoft, Rebooted, Emerges as a Tech Leader
    After years of missteps, the software giant is among the few titans of the 1990s to figure out the post-desktop world

    How Microsoft emerged from the darkness to embrace the cloud

    After suffering through a decade of product delays, missed opportunities and lackluster stock performance, Microsoft found a rebirth of sorts through cloud computing.

    The winter of 2010 brought some of Microsoft’s darkest days.

    Bing, the search engine Microsoft built to challenge Google, was burning cash with little to show for it. Smartphones for the first time surpassed the personal computer, Microsoft’s comfort zone, as the world’s most popular computing device. The must-have tech gadget that holiday season was Apple’s new iPad.

    Microsoft, a company at the center of the technology world for decades, watched the future pass it by.

    Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, couldn’t afford for that to happen to the company’s sprawling business-software empire.

    In a surprise move, Ballmer removed Bob Muglia, the leader of the company’s fast-growing Server & Tools division.

    Six years later, Satya Nadella, the man Ballmer tapped to succeed Muglia, is the chief executive of a reinvigorated Microsoft that is reaping the rewards of a bet-the-company push toward web-based software and services.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ARM Bolsters HPC Position Through Acquisition

    RM (Cambridge, UK) has announced that it has acquired Allinea Software (San Jose, CA), a leading provider of software tools for high performance computing (HPC); ARM says that this extends its range of development tools to HPC, machine learning and data analytics markets.

    Allinea Software specializes in development and performance analysis tools to maximize the efficiency of software for HPC systems, and claims that 20 of the world’s top 25 supercomputers use its tools, with key customers including the US Department of Energy, NASA, a range of supercomputing national labs and universities, and private companies using HPC systems for scientific computation.

    Allinea’s tools provide developers with the ability to deal with systems with hundreds, thousands (and hundreds of thousands) of cores. The product suite includes the developer tool suite Allinea Forge, which incorporates an application debugger called Allinea DDT and a performance analyzer called Allinea MAP, and an analysis tool for system owners, users and administrators called Allinea Performance Reports.

    “As systems and servers grow in complexity, developers in HPC are facing new challenges that require advanced tools designed to enable them to continue to innovate,” said Javier Orensanz, general manager, development solutions group, ARM. “Allinea’s ability to debug and analyze many-node systems is unique, and with this acquisition we are ensuring that this capability remains available to the whole ARM ecosystem, and to the other CPU architectures prevalent in HPC, as well as in future applications such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced data analytics.”

    This acquisition continues ARM’s growth strategy in HPC and builds on the recent Fujitsu’s 64-bit ARMv8-A powered Post K supercomputer, and the launch of the ARMv8-A Scalable Vector Extension

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Eben Upton / Raspberry Pi:
    Raspberry Pi Foundation releases free experimental version of its desktop environment PIXEL for PCs and Macs — Our vision in establishing the Raspberry Pi Foundation was that everyone should be able to afford their own programmable general-purpose computer.

    PIXEL for PC and Mac

    Our vision in establishing the Raspberry Pi Foundation was that everyone should be able to afford their own programmable general-purpose computer. The intention has always been that the Raspberry Pi should be a full-featured desktop computer at a $35 price point. In support of this, and in parallel with our hardware development efforts, we’ve made substantial investments in our software stack. These culminated in the launch of PIXEL in September 2016.

    PIXEL represents our best guess as to what the majority of users are looking for in a desktop environment: a clean, modern user interface; a curated suite of productivity software and programming tools, both free and proprietary; and the Chromium web browser with useful plugins, including Adobe Flash, preinstalled. And all of this is built on top of Debian, providing instant access to thousands of free applications.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ian King / Bloomberg:
    How Nvidia used the growing need for powerful GPUs in AI, self-driving cars, and data centers to rapidly expand, after missing out on smartphone chips

    Nvidia Surges in 2016 Using Graphics Chips to Challenge Intel

    Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of graphics-chip maker Nvidia Corp., has won over Sliwinska and many other investors this year with claims that his products, once confined to the niche of computer-gaming machines, are breaking out to become key components of nascent technologies from voice recognition to self-driving cars.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Computing Got Colorful in 2016
    VR finally works through nausea, skepticism

    In 2016, computing entered a brisk and colorful autumn.

    There’s a chill in the air as Moore’s law grows more complex and expensive and the semiconductor industry matures and consolidates. But it’s also a vibrant season with new kinds of processors for artificial intelligence, new types of memories, a whole new layer of 5G wireless communications in the works, and a small but brilliant new market in virtual reality emerging.

    A year ago, analysts were divided over whether virtual reality would gain traction in 2016 or just crash and burn again. Some suggested it might be “a belly flop.”

    Before the end of the year, the Khronos group recognized the need for an open applications interface to smooth the growth path for a sector that had already spawned a dozen products. Meanwhile, developers working on real-time remote presence apps for 2017 are suggesting that gaming may not even be the biggest use of VR headsets.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Race for AI Chips Begins
    CEA to open source benchmarking tools

    Deep learning has continued to drive the computing industry’s agenda in 2016. But come 2017, experts say the Artificial Intelligence community will intensify its demand for higher performance and more power efficient “inference” engines for deep neural networks.

    The current deep learning system leverages advances in large computation power to define network, big data sets for training, and access to the large computing system to accomplish its goal.

    Unfortunately, the efficient execution of this learning is not so easy on embedded systems (i.e. cars, drones and Internet of Things devices) whose processing power, memory size and bandwidth are usually limited.

    “Deploying Artificial Intelligence at the edge [of the network] is becoming a massive trend,” Movidius CEO, Remi El-Ouazzane, told us a few months ago.

    Think autonomous cars, he said. If the goal is safety, autonomous functions shouldn’t rely on always-on connectivity to the network.

    Semiconductor suppliers like Movidus (armed with Myriad 2), Mobileye (EyeQ 4 & 5) and Nvidia (Drive PX) are racing to develop ultra-low power, higher performance hardware-accelerators that can execute learning better on embedded systems.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Aaron Tilley / Forbes:
    Apple publishes an artificial intelligence paper for the first time, after recently promising to open up its AI research — Earlier this month, Apple made a splash when it told the artificial intelligence research community that the secretive company would start publishing AI papers of its own.

    Apple Publishes Its First Artificial Intelligence Paper

    Earlier this month, Apple made a splash when it told the artificial intelligence research community that the secretive company would start publishing AI papers of its own. Not even a month later, it’s already starting to make good on that promise.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    MicroServices-friendly Java lands on Eclipse
    One licence or two, sir?

    A project for a microservices-friendly Java is to be overseen by the Eclipse Foundation.

    The MicroProfile project has been accepted by the Eclipse Foundation Board following a vote.

    MicroProfile is a lightweight profile of enterprise Java using existing elements of the Java EE stack.

    Backers of MicroProfile initiated the project and sought stewardship outside the JCP following Oracle’s hiatus on the Java EE 8.

    MicroProfile’s licensing might have to change, though.

    Eclipse, famed for the Eclipse open-source tools framework, has asked the MicroProfile project to: “Re-consider dual licensing.”

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Transitioning to Python 3

    The Python language, which is not new but continues to gain momentum and users as if it were, has changed remarkably little since it first was released. I don’t mean to say that Python hasn’t changed; it has grown, gaining functionality and speed, and it’s now a hot language in a variety of domains, from data science to test automation to education. But, those who last used Python 15 or 20 years ago would feel that the latest versions of the language are a natural extension and evolution of what they already know.

    At the same time, changes to the language—and particularly changes made in Python 3.x—mean that Python 2 programs won’t run unmodified in Python 3. This is a known issue, and it was part of the process that Python’s BDFL (Benevolent Dictator for Life) Guido van Rossum announced back when the “Python 3000″ project was launched years ago. Guido expected it would take time for organizations to move from Python 2 to Python 3, but he also felt that the improvements to the language were necessary.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    HPE bucks trend to retain high-end server crown
    Technical and HPC gains offset commodity server losses

    IDC bean-counters saw strong high-end server revenue growth in the third quarter high-performance technical computing market but revenue falls in low-end sysyems.

    HPC server sales growth contrasts with the decline in the overall world-wide server market, which IDC says shrank by 7 per cent to $12.5 Bn in the year since the third 2015 quarter.

    Earl Joseph, IDC’s program VP for Technical Computing, said; “Higher-priced systems led the way with year-over-year growth exceeding 22 per cent, while lower-priced system revenue declined.” The dip in departmental and workgroup HPC server sales is thought to be temporary by IDC.

    HPE was the highest-performing server vendor, with a 35.8 per cent share of the overall HPC server market and 37 per cent of the supercomputer section. Second-placed Dell’s respective numbers were 18.5 per cent and 13.3 per cent. Lenovo was in third place with 8.6 per cent and 8.1 per cent respectively, while Fujitsu was awarded 7.0 per cent of the supercomputing segment,

    The research house says buyers have spent $8.1bn in the three 2016 quarters so far, which is 3.4 per cent more than the $7.8bn spent in the same three 2015 quarters. So the market is growing steadily.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Eliot Brown / Wall Street Journal:
    PitchBook: non-tech firms spent ~$10B acquiring VC-backed US startups in 2016, nearly double the amount from 2015 and the highest total in at least five years

    Old-Line Companies Like Wal-Mart and GM Acquire Taste for Tech Startups
    Silicon Valley upstarts are courted by retail, manufacturing companies seeking new growth

    In late 2015, a commuter-shuttle startup caught the attention of Ford Motor Co. executive John Casesa, who runs global strategy for the auto maker. The startup, called Chariot, was growing fast and had an interesting crowdsourced reservation model, a staffer told him, suggesting a meeting.

    One year and a $65 million deal later, the San Francisco van service is owned by the Detroit giant, part of an acquisition-fueled push into new areas as an uncertain and perhaps driverless future looms.

    “We are in an era in our industry where M&A will be a frequently used instrument,”

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Windows 10 Gains 14% Desktop Market Share in 2016, Edge Continues to Struggle

    With 2016 now behind us, we can take a look at how far Windows 10 has come thanks to usage-share with statistics from Net Marketshare. At the end of December for 2016, Windows 10 is installed on roughly 24.5% of devices

    Windows 10 Gains 14% Desktop Market Share in 2016, Edge Continues to Struggle

    Microsoft has been investing heavily in Windows 10, not only for a development point of view but also with marketing as well. The company is pushing the OS at every opportunity and occasionally crossed the boundary of forcing it on to machines even when a user does not want the OS.

    With 2016 now behind us, we can take a look at how far the OS has come thanks to usage-share with statistics from Net Marketshare.

    At the end of December for 2016, Windows 10 is installed on ~24.5% of devices whereas, at the end of 2015, the OS was only installed on around 10% of machines. During the same period, Windows 7 declined from 55.68% to 48.34%, Windows 8.1 usage dropped from 10.3% to 6.9% and XP dropped slightly from 11% to about 9%.

    The last figure Microsoft publicly stated was that there are now 400 million devices running Windows 10 but this figure was released in late September.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    2016 – the year 3D XPoint came down to earth from Planet Hype
    And the year hyper-converged infrastructure put a dent in SANs

    Storage Review in 2016 Storage in 2016 saw its on-premises SAN/filer array heartland assaulted by the public cloud on the one hand, and hyper-converged and software-defined storage on the other.

    The now-classic dual-controller disk array went hybrid to keep storing primary data, but all-flash arrays are taking on that role and so the hybrids went all flash too. High-end monolithic arrays saw newcomer Infinidat make roaring progress as it took share with its low-priced and highly available InfiniBox array.

    Secondary data was sucked off more and more to object storage, which itself saw a mass adoption of S3 as the preferred interface, leaving mainstream disk and hybrid arrays storing relatively less and less on-premises data.

    The public cloud growth was unstoppable, with AWS out ahead, followed by Azure and Google, and then by Oracle and IBM – the only on-premises storage suppliers with public cloud service ambitions. The 451 Research group forecast public cloud storage spend to double in two years – with NetApp, HPE and IBM moving down the supplier rankings as Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure clawed their way up.

    Hyper-converged infrastructure was a storage hot point, with Nutanix having a successful IPO and powering ahead to lead the market. Cisco, Dell EMC, Lenovo, and HPE made hyper-converged products move as suitability for sales of servers inside a combined server, storage and networking sell exploded.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Emil Protalinski / VentureBeat:
    Microsoft reports Surface revenue down 2% YoY to $1.32B as Azure revenue increased 93% and Phone revenue declined 81%

    Microsoft reports $26.1 billion in Q2 2017 revenue: Azure up 93%, but Phone down 81% and Surface down 2%

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ryan Lawler / TechCrunch:
    Microsoft reports Q2 revenue of $26.1B, up from $25.7B last year, as Office 365 revenue grew 10% for the quarter to $7.4B and IC revenue grew 8% YoY to $6.9B

    Microsoft Q2 earnings edge higher on Office and cloud services growth

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Dean Takahashi / VentureBeat:
    Intel reports Q4 revenue of $16.4B, up from $14.9B last year, as IoT revenue grew 16% YoY to $726M and non-volatile memory revenue grew 25% YoY to $816M

    Data center and Internet of Things chips drive Intel Q4 revenues to $16.4 billion

    Intel reported fourth-quarter earnings that were mixed, missing its target on earnings per share but beating estimates for revenues. The results were driven by revenues from desktop and laptop computer chips, data center chips, and the Internet of Things.


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