Aereo Decision: the Cloud at a Crossroads?

by Richard on April 21, 2014

Broadcasters’ latest legal target is 2-year-old upstart Aereo—which retransmits over-the-air broadcast television using dime-sized antennas to paying consumers, who can watch TV online or record it for later viewing. The case, before the Supreme Court, may have impact on cloud computing generally, not just on Aereo’s business. A federal appeals court said that Aereo’s service is akin to a consumer putting a broadcast antenna atop their dwelling. Aereo, the appeals court ruled, “provides the functionality of three devices: a standard TV antenna, a DVR, and a Slingbox”

Companies like Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Yahoo, and others are worried that a victory for the broadcasters could upend the cloud. The companies, in trade association briefs, told the justices in a recent filing that the “dramatic expansion of the cloud computing sector, bringing with it real benefits previously only imagined in science fiction, depends upon an interpretation of the Copyright Act that allows adequate breathing room for transmissions of content.”

Consider any file-hosting service that allows people to store their own material, such as Dropbox. What if it can be shown they are storing copyrighted work. Do they need a license?

Mitch Stoltz, an Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney, said in a telephone interview that, “If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the broadcasters, their opinion might create liability for various types of cloud computing, especially cloud storage.”

But, in urging the high court to kill Aereo, the broadcasters said that “The disruption threatened by Aereo will produce changes that will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.”

More detail and analysis.


Amazon, Google: a Battle to Dominate the Cloud

by Richard on April 16, 2014

The cloud is just a vast mass of computers connected to the internet, on which people or companies can rent processing power or data storage as they need it.

All the warehouses of servers that run the whole of the internet, all the software used by companies the world over, and all the other IT services companies hire others to provide, or which they provide internally, will be worth some $1.4 trillion in 2014, according to Gartner Research—some six times Google and Amazon’s combined annual revenue last year.

When that time comes, all the world’s business IT needs will be delivered as a service, like electricity; you won’t much care where it was generated, as long as the supply is reliable.

Way back in 2006, Amazon had the foresight to start renting out portions of its own, already substantial cloud—the data centers on which it was running—to startups that wanted to pay for servers by the hour, instead of renting them individually, as was typical at the time. Because Amazon was so early, and so aggressive—it has lowered prices for its cloud services 42 times since first unveiling them, according to the company—it first defined and then swallowed whole the market for cloud computing and storage.

Even though Amazon’s external cloud business is much bigger than Google’s, Google still has the biggest total cloud infrastructure—the most servers and data centers. Tests of Amazon’s and Google’s clouds show that by one measure at least—how fast data is transferred from one virtual computer to another inside the cloud—Google’s cloud is seven to nine times faster than Amazon’s.

The question is, is Amazon’s lead insurmountable?



  • Google harmonized its cloud computing business to a single entity, with a pricing model intended to hold customers by enticing them to build ever cheaper and more complex software. 
  • Cisco announced it would spend $1 billion on a “cloud of clouds” project. 
  • Microsoft’s new CEO made his first big public appearance, offering Office for the Apple iPad, partly as a way to sell more of its cloud-based Office 365 product.
  • Amazon Web Services announced the general release of its cloud-based desktop computing business, as well as a deal with to offer cloud-based enterprise software tools to industries like healthcare and manufacturing.

For more detail and opinions read this, and listen to this.


Amazon Web Services (AWS) is urging developers using the code sharing site GitHub to check their posts to ensure they haven’t inadvertently exposed their log-in credentials.

When opening an account, users are told to “store the keys in a secure location” and are warned that the key needs to remain “confidential in order to protect your account”. However, a search on GitHub reveals thousands of results where code containing AWS secret keys can be found in plain text, which means anyone can access those accounts.

From a security perspective it means they can basically go in and gain access to any of the files that are stored in the AWS account.

According to an AWS statement,  ”When we become aware of potentially exposed credentials, we proactively notify the affected customers and provide guidance on how to secure their access keys,”

There is more detail (and some cautionary tales involving big, and unexpected, AWS bills) here.


Two Stanford engineers have created a cluster management tool that can triple server efficiency while delivering reliable service at all times, allowing data center operators to serve more customers for each dollar they invest.

“This is a proof of concept for an approach that could change the way we manage server clusters,” said Jason Mars, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Kushagra Vaid, general manager for cloud server engineering at Microsoft Corp., said that the largest data center operators have devised ways to manage their operations but that a great many smaller organizations haven’t.

“If you can double the amount of work you do with the same server footprint, it would give you the agility to grow your business fast,” said Vaid, who oversees a global operation with more than a million servers catering to more than a billion users.

How Quasar works takes some explaining, but one key ingredient is a sophisticated algorithm that is modeled on the way companies such as Netflix and Amazon recommend movies, books and other products to their customers. Instead of asking developers to estimate how much capacity they are likely to need, the Stanford system would start by asking what sort of performance their applications require.

Read much more detail here.



A very hybrid cloud…


Lessons Learned from Running My Own Cloud From My Kitchen (Clive Thompson)

February 28, 2014

From Wired comes a good opinion read on the author’s experiences and insights derived from setting up his own private cloud server using Tonido. It’s Time for You to Take the Cloud Back From Corporations (Clive Thompson) “…it’s a “personal cloud”: I own and run the hardware. The simple act of building and running it [...]

Read the full article → Provides Lazarex Cancer Foundation with Free Technology Services

February 11, 2014, a nonprofit that offers free technology services to charities, announced today that it will assist the Lazarex Cancer Foundation with rebranding, website redesign, digital marketing and data storage. By drawing on the experts and resources of WSpider, The Coding Tree and Open Source Storage—three Bay Area tech companies—the project will help Lazarex gain visibility [...]

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SkyDrive Renamed OneDrive After Microsoft Loses Trademark

January 27, 2014

Microsoft lost its trademark battle with BSkyB, and as a result is “rebadging” SkyDrive as “OneDrive”. The service is the same (for now). Microsoft appears to be making some lemonade from the situation with promises of new and improved features, and you can sign up for a preview if interested.

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Gmail Outage Widespread According to Reports, Google+ Also

January 24, 2014

Gmail is down for many, based on twitter posts and downrightnow. App Status Dashboard not showing the issue yet. (2:17pm Eastern). Techcrunch says it’s a widespread outage. 2:25 pm Eastern update: App status now shows service disruption. Possibly related is this one weird glitch. 3:23 pm Eastern update: Google says the problem is resolved.

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