December 2008


Who does not receive emails selling viagra, cheap meds, educational degrees or announce bogus lottery winnings? A new report from Cisco announced on December 18 declared that the criminal elements of the Internet have become so cunning and devious that they’ve made it possible to send out personalized spam.

Wikipedia defines spam as the abuse of electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages. Personalized spam deviates from this original definition by making these messages appear personalized to the individual – someone coined this as spear-phishing. How can a spammer know my preference? Did anyone hire a private investigator to check out what I like, don’t like?

We are partly to blame for this. Every time we go to the Internet to sign-up for a free online magazine or to access what we think is interesting or to become a member of something, we leave pieces of us on the Internet. Those pieces are being mined by botnets (tiny little programs that surf the web collecting information like maggots collecting crumbs to feed on. Somewhere on the ether there are machines that collect those maggots and process them to create profiles of who we are.

Techies call this process data mining. The best web company I can think of that does this data mining exceptionally well is Google. Come on! Did you ever notice that when you check your Google email, the banners around your screen appear to be more suited to your preference as you use their “free” service? In the ad business this is called contextual advertising – the ability to know exactly what you want, when you want, where you want it.

Imagine walking down a shopping district and your phone sends you an SMS telling that you are just around the corner from a shop selling the latest issue of FHM. As enticing and scary as it may sound, we are not far away from that reality. Beneath Google’s equivalent to the US Government’s infamous “Area 51” lies thousands of servers and zetabytes of storage capacity storing every bit of information botnets can find about you and me.

Cisco released a new report declaring there are nearly 200 billion spam messages sent out daily – about 90% of all email messages. While only 1% of today’sphishing attacks are targetted, it won’t be long before that number balloons to over 50%. You just wait! They are coming!

My colleague asked me to attend a roundtable briefing at SUN Microsystems’ Hong Kong office on 3 December. Having worked at a storage vendor myself years ago, in a marketing role no less, I am learned in the ways of whitewashing stories to the point where they sit between science fiction and magic. And identifying which is what is just as challenging.

SUN’s Open Storage strategy promises to significantly drive down the cost of current generations of proprietary storage solutions from vendors like HP, IBM, EMC, Fujitsu, Dell, HDS and SUN (yes, SUN also has proprietary offerings) by (1) using commodity components where possible; and (2) giving away much of the base software that is the intelligence behind expensive but proprietary storage systems, Sun hopes to enterprises to consider the potential benefits that lower acquisition cost brings with open source storage.

Storage back to basics

Most enterprise and mid-market storage systems use proprietary software – embedded on the hardware and add-on software to adhere to a particular service level. While certain hardware components are roughly the same – hard disks, fans, frame or chassis – the software is what gives each storage system its unique personalities. It is this ‘personality’ which gives you the five 9s or auto-failover or ability to call home when the device thinks its sick and other fancy termed features. (more…)

It could be said that media people are spoiled. And I’m saying this because I’ve attended quite a few press events and public conferences where everything is laid out for you in near grandiose style. Take for instance the recent CA World (2008) event I attended in Las Vegas (November 15-18). The venue was superb, the attention paid to the media was ok as were the sourvenir – OGIO backpack. CA planned it well – as have most other vendors and organizers I’ve met.

So it would come as a surprise to me that yesterday (November 2) an event in Hong Kong hosted by Red Herring was less than usual. It was their 4th annual 100 Asia Awards. Two things that should have rang a bell when I arrived to claim my badge: (1) the registration queue was long with two gentlemen manning the registration table; and (2) the welcome kit was a piece of A4 paper with the agenda printed on one side.

The programme said introduction was to commence at 0800. Ok, people in Hong Kong are rarely morning people so you’d expect the event to start a few minutes late and sure enough by 0845 the host of the event, Mr Farley Duvall came up the stage to introduce himself and apologize for the delays. He ventured on to explain that the CEo, Mr Alex Vieux could not come to this event personally due to visa issues (email me if you are interested to know about this). Seeing as the programme was running late he invited the members of the keynote roundtable on “Global VCs’ Move on Asia: Too Much Money Is Investment Bubble” to come up on stage. When no one stood, he again apologized saying that due to the events in India last week, it is possible some of the members of the panel could not join the panel.

Mr Duvall then proceeds to invite Scott Martin, an editor for Red Herring, to come up to stage and say a few words. Very casually he also invited anyone in the group (about 100 people maybe more) to come up to the stage and share their experience on the issue of capital raising. No volunteers.

Mr Martin spoke briefly about how the US market was tanking and that investments in Europe were following suite. He did note that Asia seems to be a bright spot. in particular, China seems to be holding up although he has doubts about sustainability. (more…)