Microsoft Azure’s cloud regions in Switzerland are now open for business – gpgmail


Microsoft today announced the availability of its cloud regions in Switzerland. The company first announced its plans for two Swiss regions near Zurich and Geneva, called Switzerland North and West, in 2018. Earlier this year, Microsoft noted that it was seeing quite a bit of interest in these regions, especially from companies in highly regulated industries that need to address data residency regulations.

The new regions will feature support for the core Azure cloud computing services, as well as Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform. With this launch, Microsoft now offers its cloud services in 56 regions worldwide, which is very much part of the company’s overall strategy for Azure.

“Microsoft cloud services delivered from a given geography, such as our new regions in Switzerland, offer scalable, highly available, and resilient cloud services while helping enterprises and organizations meet their data residency, security and compliance needs,” Tom Keane, Microsoft’s corporate VP for Azure Global, writes in today’s announcement. “We have deep expertise protecting data and empowering customers around the globe to meet extensive security and privacy requirements by offering the broadest set of compliance certifications and attestations in the industry.”

Current customers include enterprises like UBS Group, Swiss Re Group, and Swisscom, as well as BKW, the City of Zug, die Mobiliar, Exploris Health and Skyguide.

While AWS does not currently operate a region in Switzerland, Google Cloud runs a region with three availability zones near Zurich.

 


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DigitalOcean launches managed MySQL and Redis database services – gpgmail


Half a year after launching its managed PostgreSQL service, upstart hosting and cloud services platform DigitalOcean today announced the launch of its managed MySQL and Redis database offerings, too.

Like most of the company’s latest releases, this move exemplifies DigitalOcean’s ambition to move beyond its discount hosting roots and to become a more fully-fledged cloud provider. Besides the database service and its core hosting products and infrastructure, the company now offers object and block storage and a Kubernetes engine, which itself can be used to run virtually any modern piece of cloud infrastructure. It’s unlikely to catch up with the hyperclouds anytime soon, but it’s good to have a competitor in the market.

“With the additions of MySQL and Redis, DigitalOcean now supports three of the most requested database offerings, making it easier for developers to build and run applications, rather than spending time on complex management,” said Shiven Ramji, DigitalOcean’s Senior VP of Product. “The developer is not just the DNA of DigitalOcean, but the reason for much of the company’s success. We must continue to build on this success and support developers with the services they need most on their journey towards simple app development.”

Pricing for the managed database services remains the same, no matter which engine you choose.

The new database services are now available in the company’s New York, Frankfurt and San Francisco data centers. Support for other database engines is also in the works. As the company notes, it selected MySQL and Redis because of popular demand from its developer community and it will do so for other engines as well. MySQL and Redis were the only services on DigitalOcean’s roadmap for 2019, though, so I don’t expect we’ll see any additional releases before the end of the year.


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MIT built a better way to deliver high-quality video streams to multiple devices at once – gpgmail


Image via Getty Images / aurielaki

Depending on your connection and the size of your household, video streaming can get downright post-apocalyptic – bandwidth is the key resource, and everyone is fighting to get the most and avoid a nasty, pixelated picture. But a new way to control how bandwidth is distributed across multiple, simultaneous streams could mean peace across the land – even when a ton of devices are sharing the same connection and all streaming video at the same time.

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab created a system they call ‘Minerva’ that minimizes stutters due to buffering, and pixelation due to downgraded stream, which it believes could have huge potential benefits for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu that increasingly serve multiple members of a household at once. The underlying technology could be applied to larger areas, too, extending beyond the houseful and into neighbourhoods or even whole regions to mitigate the effects of less than idea streaming conditions.

Minerva works by taking into account the varying needs of different delivery devices streaming on a network – so it doesn’t treat a 4K Apple TV the same as an older smartphone with a display that can’t even show full HD output, for instance. It also considers the nature of the content, , which is important because live action sports require a heck of a lot more bandwidth to display in high quality when compared to say, an animated children’s TV show.

Video is then served to viewers based on its actual needs, instead of just being allocated more or less evenly across devices, and the Minerva system continually optimizes delivery speeds in accordance with their changing needs as the stream continues.

In real-world testing, Minerva as able to provide a quality cup equivalent to going from 720p to 1080p as much as a third of the time, and eliminated the need for rebuffing by almost 50 percent, which is a massive improvement when it comes to actually being able to seamlessly stream video content continuously. Plus, it can do all this without requiring any fundamental changes to network infrastructure, meaning a streaming provider could roll it out without having to require any changes on the part of users.


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Hundreds of exposed Amazon cloud backups found leaking sensitive data – gpgmail


How safe are your secrets? If you used Amazon’s Elastic Block Storage snapshots, you might want to check your settings.

New research just presented at the Def Con security conference reveals how companies, startups and governments are inadvertently leaking their own files from the cloud.

You may have heard of exposed S3 buckets — those Amazon-hosted storage servers packed with customer data but often misconfigured and inadvertently set to “public” for anyone to access. But you may not have heard about exposed EBS snapshots, which poses as much, if not a greater, risk.

These elastic block storage (EBS) snapshots are the “keys to the kingdom,” said Ben Morris, a senior security analyst at cybersecurity firm Bishop Fox, in a call with gpgmail ahead of his Def Con talk. EBS snapshots store all the data for cloud applications. “They have the secret keys to your applications and they have database access to your customers’ information,” he said.

“When you get rid of the hard disk for your computer, you know, you usually shredded or wipe it completely,” he said. “But these public EBS volumes are just left for anyone to take and start poking at.”

He said that all too often cloud admins don’t choose the correct configuration settings, leaving EBS snapshots inadvertently public and unencrypted. “That means anyone on the internet can download your hard disk and boot it up, attach it to a machine they control, and then start rifling through the disk to look for any kind of secrets,” he said.

One of Morris’ Def Con slides explaining how EBS snapshots can be exposed. (Image: Ben Morris/Bishop Fox; supplied)

Morris built a tool using Amazon’s own internal search feature to query and scrape publicly exposed EBS snapshots, then attach it, make a copy and list the contents of the volume on his system.

“If you expose the disk for even just a couple of minutes, our system will pick it up and make a copy of it,” he said.

Screen Shot 2019 08 07 at 2.14.30 PM

Another slide noting the types of compromised data found using his research, often known as the “Wall of Sheep” (Image: Ben Morris/Bishop Fox; supplied)

It took him two months to build up a database of exposed data and just a few hundred dollars spent on Amazon cloud resources. Once he validates each snapshot, he deletes the data.

Morris found dozens of snapshots exposed publicly in one region alone, he said, including application keys, critical user or administrative credentials, source code and more. He found several major companies, including healthcare providers and tech companies.

He also found VPN configurations, which he said could allow him to tunnel into a corporate network. Morris said he did not use any credentials or sensitive data, as it would be unlawful.

Among the most damaging things he found, Morris said he found a snapshot for one government contractor, which he did not name, but provided data storage services to federal agencies. “On their website, they brag about holding this data,” he said, referring to collected intelligence from messages sent to and from the so-called Islamic State terror group to data on border crossings.

“Those are the kind of things I would definitely not want to be exposed to the public internet,” he said.

He estimates the figure could be as many as 1,250 exposures across all Amazon cloud regions.

Morris plans to release his proof-of-concept code in the coming weeks.

“I’m giving companies a couple of weeks to go through their own disks and make sure that they don’t have any accidental exposures,” he said.


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With the acquisition closed, IBM goes all in on Red Hat – gpgmail


IBM’s massive $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat closed a few weeks ago and today, the two companies are now announcing the first fruits of this process. For the most part, today’s announcement further IBM’s ambitions to bring its products to any public and private cloud. That was very much the reason why IBM acquired Red Hat in the first place, of course, so this doesn’t come as a major surprise, though most industry watchers probably didn’t expect this to happen this fast.

Specifically, IBM is announcing that it is bringing its software portfolio to Red Hat OpenShift, Red Hat’s Kubernetes-based container platform that is essentially available on any cloud that allows its customers to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

In total, IBM has already optimized more than 100 products for OpenShift and bundled them into what it calls “Cloud Paks.” There are currently five of these Paks: Cloud Pak for Data, Application, Integration, Automation and Multicloud Management. These technologies, which IBM’s customers can now run on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform or IBM’s own cloud, among others, include DB2, WebSphere, API Connect, Watson Studio and Cognos Analytics.

“Red Hat is unlocking innovation with Linux-based technologies, including containers and Kubernetes, which have become the fundamental building blocks of hybrid cloud environments,” said Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of Red Hat, in today’s announcement. “This open hybrid cloud foundation is what enables the vision of any app, anywhere, anytime. Combined with IBM’s strong industry expertise and supported by a vast ecosystem of passionate developers and partners, customers can create modern apps with the technologies of their choice and the flexibility to deploy in the best environment for the app – whether that is on-premises or across multiple public clouds.”

IBM argues that a lot of the early innovation on the cloud was about bringing modern, customer-facing applications to market, with a focus on basic cloud infrastructure. Now, however, enterprises are looking at how they can take their mission-critical applications to the cloud, too. For that, they want access to an open stack that works across clouds.

In addition, IBM also today announced the launch of a fully managed Red Hat OpenShift service on its own public cloud, as well as OpenShift on IBM Systems, including the IBM Z and LinuxONE mainframes, as well as the launch of its new Red Hat consulting and technology services.


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DigitalOcean gets a new CEO and CFO – gpgmail


DigitalOcean, the cloud infrastructure service that made a name for itself by focusing on low-cost hosting options in its early days, today announced that it has appointed former SendGrid COO and CFO Yancey Spruill as its new CEO and former EnerNOC CFO Bill Sorenson as its new CFO. Spruill will replace Mark Templeton, who only joined the company a little more than a year ago and who had announced his decision to step down for personal reasons in May of this year.

“DigitalOcean is a brand I’ve followed and admired for a while — the leadership team has done a tremendous job building out the products, services and, most importantly, a community, that puts developer needs first,” said Spruill in today’s announcement. “We have a multi-billion dollar revenue opportunity in front of us and I’m looking forward to working closely with our strong leadership team to build upon the current strategy to drive DigitalOcean to the company’s full potential.”

Spruill das have a lot of experience, given that he was in CxO positions at SendGrid through both its IPO in 2017 and its sales to Twilio in 2019. He also previously held the CFO role at DigitalGlobe, which he also guided to an IPO.

In his announcement, Spruill notes that he expects DigitalOcean to focus on its core business, which currently has about 500,000 users (though it’s unclear how many of those are active, paying users). “My aspiration is for us to continue to provide everything you love about DO now, but to also enhance our offerings in a way that is meaningful, strategic and most helpful for you over time,” he writes.

Spruill’s history as CFO includes its fair share of IPOs and sales, but so does Sorenson’s. As CFO at EnerNOC, he guided that company to a sale to investor Enel Group. Before that, he led business intelligence firm Qlikto an IPO.

It’s not unusual for incoming CEOs and CFO’s to have this kind of experience, but it does make you wonder what DigitalOcean’s future holds in store. The company isn’t as hyped as it once was and while it still offers one of the best user experiences for developers, it remains a relatively small player in the overall cloud game. That’s a growing market, but the large companies — the ones that bring in the majority of revenue — are looking to Amazon, Microsoft and Google for their cloud infrastructure. Even a small piece of the overall cloud pie can be quite lucrative, but I think DigitalOcean’s ambitions go beyond that.


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