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Radio Cloud Native - Week of March 9, 2022


Every Thursday, Nick Chase and Eric Gregory from Mirantis go over the week’s cloud native and industry news.

This week they discussed:

  1. Mirantis Lens
  2. Knative
  3. Google's acquisition of Mandiant
  4. Cloud & Russia and Ukraine
  5. The latest in cloud news out of China
  6. Mobile World Congress
  7. The latest in the metaverse

You can watch the full replay here. (You’ll just need to register.)

To join Nick and Eric next Wednesday, March 16, at 1:00pm EST/10:00am PST, register here.

Improvements to Mirantis Lens Kubernetes IDE

Eric Gregory: Starting with Mirantis news, we were pleased to announce this week that the Mirantis Lens Kubernetes IDE has added a preview feature for tighter integration with managed Kubernetes services from third-party organizations.

Crucially, this is for any managed Kubernetes service, not just those from Mirantis—so if you’re using Kubernetes services from, say, AWS or Azure, that’s no problem, you’ll still be able to get all the benefits of Lens’ graphical user interface, visual tools, and more. For developers, that should help remove a lot of the friction from developing with Kubernetes, no matter where the cluster is hosted.

CNCF accepts Knative from Google

Several seasons of will-they-won’t-they drama came to a close last week when the CNCF announced that they would accept Knative from Google as an incubating project. Knative is an open source tool for creating, deploying, and managing serverless workloads.

This is a much-watched transfer for a couple of reasons. Since its inception in 2018, Knative has really grown in popularity along with serverless approaches more broadly. If you don’t want to be locked in to AWS Lambda or Azure Functions, there are pretty good odds that you’re using Knative.

Secondly, Google stated in 2019 that it would not donate Knative to the CNCF, leading to some tension between themselves and other companies involved in the project like IBM and VMWare, and making it all the more surprising when Google announced its intention to donate at the end of last year. The move stands in contrast to Google’s approach to the Istio service mesh, which has its trademark managed by Open Usage Commons, a new open source organization dedicated to trademark facilitation but not source code or project governance.

Google Cloud announces plans to acquire Mandiant, amid support layoffs

In other Google Cloud news, yesterday the company announced its intention to acquire cybersecurity consulting firm Mandiant for about $5.4 billion, bringing Mandiant’s more than 600 security consultants into the Google fold.

This pricey acquisition just underlines the growing emphasis that cloud players are placing on security. This marks the second most expensive acquisition Google has ever made, just behind Motorola in 2011, and it comes in the wake of talk that Microsoft was pursuing an acquisition of Mandiant for around 4 billion.

This acquisition appears to come with downside for some current Google Cloud support staff, as Business Insider reports that Google Cloud is laying off support engineers in California, Austin, Zurich, and Sydney, as well as restructuring into four support teams dedicated to Google Cloud, Workspace, the data analytics tool Looker, and M&A.

As the cloud giants square away against one another, Google Cloud is clearly betting on security as a way to differentiate itself from its more prominent cloud rivals—and attempt to achieve profitability, after losing about 3 billion last year.

Cloud & Russia and Ukraine

The most important news this week remains Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, and the war continues to prompt responses from the cloud and technology space.

Over the last twelve hours, AWS announced that it would no longer accept new sign-ups in Russia or Belarus. It also noted that it has a longstanding policy of not doing business with the Russian government.

This comes several days after Microsoft announced a suspension of product and service sales in Russia. In its comments on the war, Microsoft emphasized its role in alerting Ukraine to Russian cyberattacks and working to mitigate those attacks.

Google, meanwhile, has suspended ad sales and revenue from Russia, but Google Cloud has so far only made statements about hardening security for vulnerable customers, and has not responded to inquiries from reporters for Reuters.

IDC analyst Philip Carter told Reuters that Russia has been historically reticent about reliance on U.S. based cloud vendors, with cloud making up 5% of Russian domestic IT spending compared to about 20% in the US. Still, the market has grown quickly, with Microsoft taking the largest share of it at 17%.

Beyond the cloud market, many, many technology companies continue to discontinue services in Russia, including Netflix, PayPal, and Adobe. This comes amid efforts by the Russian federal censor to shut down independent news organizations reporting truthfully on the war, as well as to block Facebook and restrict Twitter.

According to Microsoft’s Brad Smith, “We remain especially concerned about recent cyberattacks on Ukrainian civilian digital targets, including the financial sector, agriculture sector, emergency response services, humanitarian aid efforts, and energy sector organizations and enterprises." Cyberattacks haven’t just come from state actors; hacker collectives like Anonymous have taken sides in the war, with some launching distributed denial of service attacks or attempting to leak military data.

And the Computer Weekly reports that a phishing attack–likely originating from a Belarusian state actor–is targeting European government personnel who are helping Ukrainian refugees cross into the EU. According to Computer Weekly, “The phishing emails themselves include malicious macro attachments that leverage messaging around a 23 February emergency meeting of Nato’s Security Council, and a malicious attachment that attempts to download [the Lua-based malware] SunSeed."

Our thoughts and hopes remain with our Ukrainian colleagues and all the people of Ukraine.

The latest in cloud news out of China

Nick Chase: And in all of this let's not forget about China. They're kind of straddling everything right now, but that doesn't mean there's no news.

According to anti-malware firm Symantec, the Chinese-linked Backdoor.Baxin has been circulating around various governments. TechRepublic describes it as "a backdoor malware that allows its controller to install further malicious software, has network tunneling capabilities, can relay communications across infected nodes, is able to hijack legitimate TCP/IP connections and is otherwise an incredibly complex piece of code." So a scary piece of software, given that China is accused of targeting various institutions such as Taiwanese financial institutions.

The US government intelligence community is also winding down its its "China Initiative" because of increased bias against Chinese and really all Asians.

China is also looking to add additional regulations, with news that they are looking to regulate both cryptocurrency, and artificial intelligence.

Mobile World Congress

So I promised you last week we'd have more news from Mobile World Congress, so here goes. First off the show was a bit smaller than it has been in past years, but considering that past years were ridiculously huge, it still is some pretty respectable numbers, including:

MWC22 by the numbers

  • Over 60,000 unique people attended in person

  • Around 500,000 unique virtual and daily viewers on MWC22 and partner platforms
  • Millions tuned into MWC22 Barcelona content via Mobile World Live global syndication and official national and international broadcasters.

So statistically, I'm not sure what else I have to tell you, but in case you're one of the three people they're implying were not at the show, let's cover some of the highlights.

During the keynote, Charles Stewart, chief executive of Sotheby’s auction house asked, “Who will be the Leonardo da Vinci of the NFT world?” and I hate to be cynical, but considering that there's no real way to ensure that somebody can't just upload a picture of the Mona Lisa and claim it with NFT’s, I'm thinking that Leonardo da Vinci will be the Lonardo da Vinci of the NFT world.

I mean, look, I understand what he's getting at. He's asking who is going to figure out how to use this medium as effectively as Leonardo da Vinci used the mediums available to him during the Renaissance. But still, I really don't think we're there yet.

Qualcomm announced the world's first WIFI 7 chip, the FastConnect 7800 connectivity chip, which they say enables "peak speeds of 5.8Gbps and sub-2 millisecond latency in a variety of devices – once compatible network equipment is available." The first WIFI 7 devices are expected to hit the market in about 3 years.

We talked last week about a lot of 5G announcements at MWC, but how about 2G and 3G? This year Orange announced that it would be turning off these old standards over Europe by 2030, which seems like a long way away, but will be here before you know it, especially if you have kids. In countries where 3G has a larger footprint than 2G, such as France, 2G will be decommissioned by 2028, then 3G by 2030, and where 2G has a larger footprint, vice versa.

EETimes reports that "There were nearly four dozen demos of O-RAN (Open Radio Access Network) implementations at MWC Barcelona 2022, roughly half of them live on-site. These demos strongly suggest that O-RAN equipment is now moving from the conceptual stage to the successful implementation stage, and deployment."

And none of that is surprising, because of course you need that kind of Radio Access Network to carry signals between locations, but while previously the radio has been tightly coupled with the hardware, we now have abstraction and "software defined" applying to radios as well.

Finally, Arm announced that after 15 years of working at it, the company was finally seeing some headway in the data center market. Not that administrators are putting IoT devices in their datacenter, but rather that some architects are bucking the conversational wisdom and scaling the number of cores by using ARM chips to take advantage of using a large number of cores in the same power envelope.

The latest in the metaverse

If you've watched or listened to this show, you know that any time there's a chance to jump on a Metaverse story, I'm going to jump on it with both feet. Well, last week's Mobile World Congress was simply awash with metaverse news. So much that even without covering every nook and cranny we have way too much metaverse news for a show of this length, so let's get right into it.

The first thing that you're probably wondering is what the heck does the metaverse have to do with Mobile World Congress? Well I'm glad you asked. More specifically, Meta, Facebook's parent company is glad you asked.

Meta (big "M"), as you may have guessed from the name, is betting heavily on the metaverse (small "m"), having bought headset maker Oculus almost a decade ago in 2014 for $2 billion. However, it seems that either Meta is learning that today's infrastructure just isn't ready for the metaverse as they envision it, or they realize that unless they find a way to rally all of the disparate voices that are building metaverses -- there were more than a dozen at MWC this year -- they're not going to get what they want.

To that end, even before the show started, Meta announced that it was looking for the telecommunications industry to help build out today's infrastructure for tomorrow's metaverse.

So what does that mean? It means that they're looking for better latency to reduce the time between when you take an action and when it gets to the server, symmetrical bandwidth, so that your upload speeds are as fast as your download speeds, and just plain better speed altogether, and that last one is the one that's maybe not so obvious.

After all, you can already stream movies over your phone, so what's so important about making it faster? Well, let's think about it this way. You can watch a movie on the relatively small screen of your phone, and that requires a relatively small amount of data to look good. Think of it as the difference between watching a movie that's 640x480 pixels versus 4K 3840 x 2160 pixels. But if you were to put that screen a centimeter from your eyeball, you're going to need a lot more pixels for that to look good, and that's going to require a lot more bandwidth.

And more than that, they're talking about a requirement for "innovations in fields like hybrid local and remote real-time rendering, video compression, edge computing, and cross-layer visibility, as well as spectrum advocacy, work on metaverse readiness of future connectivity and cellular standards, network optimizations, improved latency between devices and within radio access networks, and more.”

So acknowledging that "No single company, or industry, can do this alone," they're looking at partnerships with various telcos such as Telefonica, with whom they've announced a Madrid Innovation Hub.

They've also announced a partnership with Verizon, which Verizon said "will explore how Verizon's mobile edge compute infrastructure can deliver intensive extended reality cloud rendering and low latency streaming, which are core capabilities needed for metaverse applications."

But Meta isn't the only company making big bets on the metaverse. Phone maker HTC, which hasn't actually made phones for a while since selling most of their handset business to Google in 2017, is also the maker of the HTC Vive, a VR headset that is now the centerpiece of the Viveverse. The Viveverse includes the Vive Browser, because of course it does, as well as Vive Connect for simulated experiences, and Vive Guardian, which enables you to control and monitor what your kids see in those Vive headsets.

"Viverse provides seamless experiences, reachable on any device, anywhere, and is enabled by the virtual and augmented reality, high-speed connectivity, AI, and blockchain technologies that HTC has invested in for several years. We invite partners to join us on this fantastic journey to the internet of presence," said Cher Wang, Co-Founder and Chairwoman at HTC in their press release.

And when they talk about seamless experiences, they basically want you to get up in the morning, put on your Vive Flow glasses, and keep them on until you go to bed, transitioning between worlds in a way that I really wish had been possible back in my old Second Life days. Also I should note that the Vive Flow has a built-in cryptocurrency wallet, which not only enables you to carry around NFTs and other digital assets, I think it also lets HTC pretty much fill out their buzzword bingo card.

But one telco that actually has a functioning metaverse is South Korea Telecom. SKT has a metaverse platform called Ifland, which launched last July and already has 1.1 million active users. They plan on launching in 80 countries worldwide this year, so we'll see what happens there.

SKT also showed Jump Studio, its mixed reality capture studio, as well as its own AI semiconductor chip, Sapeon, which uses less energy and is faster than GPUs, as well as a "4D metaverse" ride which was basically people wearing headsets and strapped into a robot arm, which I don't think counts, really.

And Qualcomm is profiting from all these guys; their Snapdragon chips are in just about all of the VR headsets, including Meta Quest 2 (formerly the Oculus Quest 2) and the HTC Vive Focus 3, as well as Microsoft's HoloLens 2.

But we can't blame all of these companies for jumping in. Accenture estimates that by 2028, the metaverse market will be worth $814 billion. They also say that 88% of global organizations say they've invested in virtual environments, and 91% plan to invest more, but unless they mean 88% of organizations that are global, versus 88% of organizations across the globe, that number doesn't smell right to me.

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