The Mysterious Creator Of Bitcoin and Blockchain Comes Out Of The Shadows

The birth of the virtual currency Bitcoin was accompanied with great mystery, when its creator chose to remain in the shadows, known only by his (or her?) pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Rumors over the years brought up various potential “suspects”, but nothing was proven and no one confessed. Until now.

Today Dr. Craig Wright, a 45-year-old computer scientist from Australia, announced that he is Satoshi Nakamoto. In his post Wright says

If I sign Craig Wright, it is not the same as if I sign Craig Wright, Satoshi.

Wright then goes on to thank those who supported the project. Something that has started from a monumental paper by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, followed by a release of an even more monumental implementation of Blockchain, the revolutionary technology for open distributed ledger underlying Bitcoin. In fact, the impact of Blockchain currently seems to surmount that of bitcoin, with blockchain-based innovation boiling up in both startups and financial institutions. The interest is so great (and skill set is so rare) that IBM and Microsoft launched Blockchain-as-a-Service offerings on their clouds to help companies innovate with Blockchain.

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Wright dedicated most of his post to convincing the community of the authenticity of his claim. He provides a signed evidence, supposedly signed with a private key associated with Satoshi Nakamoto (the key for block 9), and elaborates on the process of verifying cryptographic keys, basically implying on the verification of his own evidence.

Wright knew such announcement would not go about without a storm, so he summoned in advance three high-profile magazines – The Economist, The BBC and GQ Magazine – to exclusively present his claim and evidence so they can accompany his post with their own coverage. The magazines jumped on the scoop and dag deep into his claims. You can read their full review here:

The Economist: Craig Steven Wright claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto. Is he?

The BBC: Australian Craig Wright claims to be Bitcoin creator

GQ Magazine: Dr Craig Wright Outs Himself As Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto

Is Dr. Wright the real Satoshi Nakamoto? The community will be debating that in the weeks to come, together with further evidence released by Wright. More importantly, Wright hints of new work he’s done in this field with “an exceptional group”. It may very well be that his current announcement just sets the stage for bigger announcements or releases yet to come.

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Mesosphere Open-Sources Its Containers Management System

The containers movement received major news yesterday when Mesosphere announced it has open-sourced  its Data Center Operating System (DC/OS). The core will be released under Apache 2.0 open source license, with enterprise-grade tools and features such as security, performance, compliance, and monitoring, kept for the paid enterprise version. The new DC/OS community already has more than 60 partner companies, including major names such as Microsoft, HPE, Cisco, Accenture and Verizon. There are also important names from the DevOps automation including Chef and Puppet.

Mesosphere’s open source strategy is primarily rooted in the fact it is the commercial backer of Apache Mesos open source project. But Mesosphere took additional steps and joined the founding team of the Open Container Initiative (OCI) and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) which were founded in the past year by big names such as Google, Microsoft, IBM and HPE to standardize on containers. In fact, on its announcement yesterday Mesosphere said it was considering hosting DC/OS externally under CNCF (among other alternatives).

Mesosphere’s open source move yesterday comes a month after Mesosphere joined the prestigious unicorn club when it finished its round C funding with $73.5 million funding at reportedly over $1 billion valuation. Not surprisingly, Mesosphere’s investors Microsoft and HPE, which also collaborate with Mesosphere at the Open Container Initiative, joined as founding members to the DC/OS project. In fact, Microsoft announced yesterday adding support for DC/OS in its Azure cloud, after it added support for Docker on Azure a year ago. This is part of the fierce cloud competition on containers (so fierce that it drove HP out of the race last year).

Google, a competitor of Microsoft in the public cloud, used a similar open source strategy last year when it decided to open-source its Kubernetes container management system and contribute it to CNCF on its foundation. Kubernetes powers Google’s Container Engine, Google’s own response in the cloud wars. While some consider Kubernetes a competitor for Mesosphere, Mesosphere took a collaborative strategy, providing support (namely package) for Kubernetes alongside its own Marathon product, as well as contributing code to the Kubernetes open source project.

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IBM, Microsoft Offer Blockchain In Their Cloud Services

Recently blockchain fans got major news, with two giants IBM and Microsoft announcing their support for Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) in their cloud services. Are we going to see some cloud-based blockchain developments soon? sounds like it.

Blockchain emerged from Bitcoin cryptocurrency hype as the innovative distributed ledger technology behind Bitcoin. But while cryptocurrencies are well past Gartner’s peak of inflated expectations, blockchain is gaining growing interest from startups and enterprises alike. The interest in blockchain isn’t limited to just cryptocurrencies but also extends into other financial use cases, and even transcends FinTech realm into non-financial use cases such as electronic voting, smart contracts and ownership verification for art and diamonds.

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The interest that blockchain drove the creation of different “flavors” of the distributed ledger notion, beyond the initial one used for Bitcoin. One interesting initiative recently launched is the hyperledger project, a community-backed open-source standard for distributed ledger. It was launched December 2015 under the Linux Foundation by big financial services names such as J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, London Stock Exchange Group and Deutsche Börse, as well as equally big IT players such as IBM, Intel, Cisco and VMware. As part of joining Hyperledger, IBM has open sourced a significant chunk of the blockchain code it has been working on.

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IBM launched its blockchain-as-a-service in production February. In order to encourage adoption of its new cloud service, IBM also opens garages for blockchain app design and implementation in London, New York, Singapore and Tokyo.

Microsoft was first to move in on blockchain. Last November ETH-BaaSMicrosoft launched a Blockchain-as-a-Service on its Azure cloud based on Ethereum in partnership with ConsenSys. But while IBM bet on hyperledger project, Microsoft took a different approach and spread its bet across multiple projects and partnerships. During last month Microsoft added to its blockchain partnerships Augur, Lisk, BitShares, Syscoin and Slock.it, and this month also added Storj.

I estimate IBM and Microsoft would not remain alone in this game. Other vendors will join in to offer platforms and cloud services to accelerate the development of blockchain-based applications. This will be a serious enabler for innovation around this fascinating technology, whether for young innovative startups bootstrapping on low budget, or for financial institutions (and other enterprises) lacking in-house skills in this cutting-edge technology.

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An Inside Peek At Google’s Data Centers

Google released last week at its GCP Next event a cool clip on YouTube which takes you on a virtual tour in their data center. You can even take a look around (a 360° view) by simply tilting your smartphone, which is pretty neat. The tour gives a glimpse of how Google’s data centers are built, from compute racks, storage and networking to power and cooling.

Why would Google bother giving such an intimate inside view? To increase credibility in its Google Cloud Platform, by providing visibility into aspects such as the design for scale, reliability, and security. As part of that effort Google recently started sharing its data center design, and even open-sourced some of it. Google’s recent strategic move in this direction was joining the Open Compute Project (joining Facebook, Intel, Microsoft and others) and donating its data center’s rack design to the open community.
For more on this, check out this post.

 

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Want To Scale Like Google, Amazon? Design Your Own Data Center

Google is joining the Open Compute Project (OCP), the community-driven open project founded by Facebook for standardizing on IT infrastructure. OCP’s mission statement is to

“break open the black box of proprietary IT infrastructure to achieve greater choice, customization, and cost savings”

Google strategically announced joining the OCP at last week’s OCP Summit, together with its first contribution of a new energy-efficient rack specification that includes 48V power distribution. According to Google, their new rack design  was at least 30% more energy efficient and more cost effective in supporting their higher-performance systems.

The OCP includes, in addition to Facebook and Google, other big names such as Intel, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft and Deutsche Telecom. The member list also includes some traditional server and networking manufacturers such as Ericsson, Cisco, HP and Lenovo, which are expected to be seriously disrupted by the new open standards initiative which undermines their domination over this $140B industry.

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Last year Google already made an important move, sharing its next-generation data center network architecture. On their announcement last week, Google hinted for additional upcoming contributions to OCP such as better disk solutions for cloud based applications. In his post, John Zipfel shared Google’s longer-term vision for OCP:

And we think that we can work with OCP to go even further, looking up the software stack to standardize server and networking management systems.

Google and Facebook are among the “big guys” running massive data centers and infrastructure, which sheer scale drove them to drop the commodity IT infrastructure and start developing their own in-house optimized infrastructure to reduce costs and improve performance.

Amazon is another such big guy, especially with the massive infrastructure required to power its Amazon Web Services which has the lion’s share of the public cloud market, followed by Microsoft and Google (both latter are OCP members). In an interview last week, Amazon’s CTO Werner Vogels said:

“To be able to operate at scale like we do it makes sense to start designing your own server infrastructure as well as your network. There is great advantages in [doing so].”

With the growing popularity of cloud computing, many of the “smaller guys” (even enterprises and banks) will migrate their IT to some cloud hosting service to save them from buying and managing their own infrastructure, which in turn will mean even more of the world’s IT will be with the “big guys”. To aggravate things further, the public cloud market is undergoing consolidation, with big names such as HP, Verizon and Dell dropping the race, which would leave most of the world’s IT in the hands of a few top-tier cloud vendors and Facebook-scale giants. These truly “big guys” will not settle for anything short of the best for their IT.

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Update: At GCP Next conference the following week Google released a 360° virtual tour at its data center. See more here.

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Verizon Shutting Down Its Public Cloud

Verizon has officially decided to shut down the majority of its public cloud operation. In an announcement sent to its cloud customers, which hit waves in the social media, it announced decision to “discontinue its Public Cloud, Reserve Performance and Marketplace services on April the 12th”, leaving their customers 2 months to migrate their data to another safe haven before it disappears together with the cloud services.

The company is offering its Virtual Private Cloud services as an alternative, which indicates Verizon will now focus its cloud offering on private cloud, probably aimed at enterprises.

Verizon is not alone in its decision. Last October HP made a similar choice to quit the public cloud, and so has Dell. The reason for their decision is the harsh price competition in the public cloud arena, led by Amazon who controls the vast majority of this market, and followed by Microsoft, Google and IBM. In addition to very competitive prices for their infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), these leading vendors also offer an ever-growing plethora of platform services (PaaS) which ease the development on the cloud.

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Traditionally enterprises have utilized Verizon and the likes for reliable high-quality networking. But the public cloud players quickly stepped up and provided next-generation networking, same as they did with compute and storage (on the expense of HP, Dell and the likes), and gained foothold with enterprises. Even the very conservative banking sector is now going for public cloud with these guys.

Another important advantage of the leading vendors is their global geographical presence, with which local vendors find hard to compete. We are expected to see further consolidation in the public cloud, with traditional enterprise vendors increasingly pressed to innovate and reinvent themselves. IBM is one such good example.We’ll see who else stays relevant in the public cloud age.

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Will Banks Soon Run In The Cloud?

Cloud computing has become prevalent in many industries. A glimpse at the figures Amazon and Microsoft, the two biggest public cloud providers, reveals a multi-billion dollar market which grows rapidly. Starting with online startups, the public cloud has grown to become mainstream within enterprises. And now they’re having their eyes on the financial jackpot – the banks.

Amazon is pitching its cloud-computing service to big U.S. banks, hoping to break into one of the last major strongholds of old-line technology companies. According to a new article by The Wall Street Journal, the public cloud giant has approached Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and others to show the value of its Amazon Web Services (AWS).

In fact, Amazon already got an early adopter on board: Capital One. Last October at Amazon’s re:Invent conference the bank’s CIO Rob Alexander gave an enthusiastic keynote, describing how they started experimenting with AWS back in 2014 in different areas such as online banking and stream data processing and with use cases such as cloud bursting during Black Friday shopping, and late 2015 launched its new mobile banking app in production on AWS. By “outsourcing” its IT to Amazon’s cloud, the bank aims to reduce its datacenter footprint from 8 to 3 by 2018.

Amazon is not alone in this quest: Microsoft and Google, Amazon’s leading competitors in the public cloud, are also looking to penetrate this challenging niche. According to WSJ, JP Morgan has been examining Google’s cloud platform in addition to Amazon’s. Yet still missing such high-profile early adopter reference.

While the operational benefits are great, public cloud vendors need to address the bank’s strict security needs: concerns such as compliance, regulation, access control and encryption need to be met at the highest standards. According to Capital One’s CIO, the bank has been working closely with Amazon’s team to develop the security model. Alexander went as much as saying it now operates “more securely in the public cloud than we can on our own data centers“. Amazon’s CIA reference also serves it well in proving its security case.

This sort of close collaboration with the industry and regulatory bodies will ultimately bring public cloud infrastructure to the levels of the banks’ data centers, and pave the banks’ path to the cloud.

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