Report: How to define the right multi-cloud strategy for your enterprise the first time

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How to define the right multi-cloud strategy for your enterprise the first time by David S. Linthicum:
The days of the single cloud are gone. Driven by the breadth of technology options, potential cost savings, and the need for business agility, more than 74 percent of businesses are already moving to a multi-cloud strategy. However, enterprises making the move face critical choices, and a failure to consider common risks can diminish or even eliminate the benefits of multi-cloud.
This report will help CIOs, application architects, and IT decision-makers identify common patterns of implementation failures and successes and provide a framework for evaluating multi-cloud environments.
To read the full report click here.

Politwoops shutdown raises questions about Twitter’s rules

Can social websites protect their users while still allowing outside groups to hold politicians and other public figures accountable for their statements?
That’s the question at the heart of a recent controversy between Twitter and Politwoops, a series of websites that archived politicians’ deleted tweets whose access to Twitter’s public API was revoked without warning over the weekend.
Twitter made a similar move earlier this year when it shut down the United States version of Politwoops. The many versions of this tweet-archiving tool were run by two separate groups — the Sunlight Foundation and the Open State Foundation — and both have expressed their concern over Twitter’s decision.
Both groups tell me there are no negotiations in place to restore Politwoops’ access to Twitter’s API. But Arjan el Fassad, the director of the Open State Foundation, did say that the group is “exploring a number of legal and technical options” to see if it can build a similar tool without access to Twitter’s API.
“We believe that what public officials, especially politicians, publicly say is a matter of public record,” Fassad told me. “Even when tweets are deleted, it’s part of parliamentary history. Although Twitter can restrict access to its API, it will not be able to keep deleted tweets by elected public officials in the dark.”
A spokesperson for the Sunlight Foundation said that group has no plans to rebuild Politwoops without access to Twitter’s data stream. Yet the group is no less damning in its stance on Twitter’s decision to revoke the tool’s access to information that was publicly available through multiple outlets before now.
“To prevent public oversight when our representatives try to discreetly change their messaging represents a significant corporate change of heart on the part of Twitter and a major move on their part to privatize public discourse,” they said.
“Imagine if the Washington Post printed a retraction of a story, would it demand that all copies delivered to the home with the original story be returned? When a public statement is made, no matter the medium, can it simply be deleted and claimed as a proprietary piece of information?”
Of course, there is a difference between the Washington Post trying to retrieve a physical object and Twitter cutting off access to its service. And “unpublishing” stories, whether it’s to appease advertisers or because they contained factual errors or were plagiarized from another source, happens at online publications.
For its part, Twitter says it’s merely trying to protect its users. A spokesperson said in a statement that the “ability to delete one’s Tweets – for whatever reason – has been a long-standing feature of Twitter for all users” and that it “will continue to defend and respect our users’ voices in our product and platform.”
I came to a similar conclusion when the U.S. version of Politwoops was shut down. As I wrote at the time:

Twitter isn’t only defending politicians; it’s protecting all of its users. I suspect there are more private citizens than politicians using the platform, so if having a reasonable expectation of privacy makes things harder for a site that collects politicians’ gaffes, well, I’m happy to bid Politwoops a fond, but prompt, adieu.

Both the Sunlight Foundation and Open State Foundation have said that they avoided this issue by focusing Politwoops on politicians. There should be a clear distinction between public figures and other Twitter users, both argued, and others have said that Twitter is either incompetent or capitulating to politicians.
This is a thorny issue without a clear solution. Twitter can be blamed for blocking Politwoops’ access to its service because each of these groups argues that they were holding politicians accountable; it could also be chastised for allowing these groups to break the rules meant to protect its users’ privacy.
Let me put it another way: If a restaurant had tinted windows to prevent outside observers from taking pictures of its diners, should it have to smash them whenever a politician or other public figure enters? Probably not. Its patrons, regardless of their status, expect to be afforded the same privacy.
It’s more troublesome that Twitter changed its mind about Politwoops. As the Sunlight Foundation notes in its blog post about this weekend’s shut down:

In 2012, Sunlight started the U.S. version of Politwoops. At the time, Twitter informed us that the project violated its terms of service, but we explained the goals of the project and agreed to create a human curation workflow to ensure that the site screened out corrected low-value tweets, like typos as well as incorrect links and Twitter handles. We implemented this layer of journalistic judgment with blessings from Twitter and the site continued. In May, Twitter reversed course and shut down Sunlight’s version of Politwoops.

It seems that Twitter was fine with smashing its own windows for three years, provided that Politwoops only used its exceptional ability to ignore the rules governing its API for things that actually matter to the public. Why did it change its mind, and why did months pass between the shuttering of the U.S. version of Politwoops and the revocation of these international versions’ access?
Consistent rules can be lived with and worked around. Inconsistent rules, however, lend some credence to the idea that Twitter might not be wise enough to decide what outside groups can do with public tweets. The company should have either shut down Politwoops before or allowed it to run into perpetuity.
In a way, it’s a lot like the controversy created whenever Politwoops did catch deleted tweets that shamed the politicians who sent them. Many of those tweets would have been fine if they hadn’t been deleted; it was only when their senders tried to act like they never existed that problems arose. It’s hard not to appreciate the symmetry between that and Twitter’s current situation.

Meet Sens’it, a gadget that lets you play with Sigfox’s IoT network

Consumer gadget enthusiasts might have fawned over the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and the Huawei Watch at Mobile World Congress, but if you are an internet of things geek, the most interesting device at MWC was probably at the other end of the Fira Gran Via at Sigfox’s booth. The French startup, which is trying to build a global wireless network solely for the internet of things, was showing off a pill-shaped device it designed to let IoT developers test out its network.

Called the Sens’it, the device has no screen or keypad, just an LED light that doubles as its only button. Under the hood, there are three sensors: an accelerometer, a thermometer and a sound meter, all of which turn themselves on at intervals to take a snapshot of their surroundings and then communicate that data over Sigfox’s network.

If you’re looking for a practical application here, there isn’t one. On its own, the device doesn’t really do anything. Sigfox intends for the device, which was built by Axible, to be a proof of concept that developers can use to create their own applications. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a bit of fun with it.

The Sensit alongside the Sigfox web app

The Sensit next to the Sigfox web app

Sigfox has created a web app that allows you to access the data Sens’it collects, and it’s built a few communication hooks that trigger email and SMS alerts when the sensors are triggered. For instance, according to Sigfox head of marketing and communications Thomas Nicholls, you could put the Sens’it in your car and get an alert every time it moves. You could place the device in a cabin that otherwise has no power or internet connectivity and measure temperature and sound levels. The Sens’it also has a button that will trigger an email or SMS alert every time you double-tap it.

Nicholls gave me a Sens’it to play with while I was in Barcelona for MWC (Sigfox’s network isn’t in my hometown Chicago yet), and I made it do a few basic things. I got it to trigger an alert when my plane took off from the airport, and I sent random text messages to myself while I was wandering around. But someone with more time and creativity than me could do a lot more with the device by using IFTTT channels or by tapping into SMS APIs like those offered by Twilio and Nexmo.

An immensely useful application would be the ability to generate a “safety” call to my phone with a double tap of the Sens’it button. It doesn’t matter if there’s nothing but dead air at the other end of the line. It would be a great way to get out of conversation when someone has cornered you — on the show floor at MWC, for instance.

All of this is designed to prove the resiliency and range of Sigfox’s network, which is now live in Spain, France and Russia and will soon go online in the Netherlands and in the U.S., starting in San Francisco. Sigfox uses the Industrial Scientific and Medical (ISM) band used by Z-Wave and ZigBee to create a very low-power, long-range and low-throughput network.

A Sigfox ISM radio module

A Sigfox ISM radio module

That network is entirely unsuitable for a gadget or appliance that needs constant high-bandwidth links, such as a car or a tablet, but it excels in the low-bore connectivity world of the industrial internet. Sigfox connects home alarms, parking space sensors, water meters and even dog tracking collars — anything that only needs intermittent access to the network as well as a cheap radio and service plans.

One of the big selling points for Sigfox, Nicholls said, is its extremely long range. It can cover entire cities with just a handful of base stations, and it can reach far out to remote places that even cellular networks don’t reach. I can attest to that. Upon landing in New York after my plane experiment, I opened up my email and discovered that Sens’it had triggered several more emails 10 to 15 minutes after I took off from the Barcelona airport. That means it was still connecting to the Sigfox while we were at cruising altitude over the Spanish countryside. It only stopped linking up with the network once we hit the open ocean.

Sigfox only manufactured an initial batch of 1,000 Sens’it devices, so it’s not handing them out to everyone. But if you’re a service provider, IoT developer or just a curious maker with an idea, you can apply for a Sens’it here.


Stripe meets IFTTT: Payments now act as app triggers

If you’re a app developer or online merchant that uses Stripe to process your customers, you can now get some pretty nifty alerts thanks to a partnership between Stripe and If This Then That. For instance, every time you make a website sale, an IFTTT recipe could trigger an SMS message to your smartphone – or better yet, you could use rig a LittleBits speaker to play the sound of a ringing cash register.

There is a more button-downed side to the partnership as well. IFTTT is tapping into Stripe’s notification and management systems and tying them to productivity and communications apps. Every transaction and new customer information could automatically be logged on Evernote or a Google spreadsheet. Or every time a payment is disputed, a text alert could be sent to the appropriate team member.

Those might not sound like the most interesting ideas in IFTTT’s growing rolodex of cross-application recipes. But they’re very useful for e-commerce businesses, IFTTT co-founder and CEO Linden Tibbets told me — especially for small operations that are trying to attract their first 1,000 paying customers and aren’t planning to invest in CRM and sales tracking software. Stripe may be known for powering the payments of big sharing economy startups like Lyft, Shopify and Instacart, but it also serves thousands of startups just getting their bearings on the web and mobile.

The partnership also shows that IFTTT, known very much for its consumer focus, is getting serious about small business, something its lesser-known competitor Zapier has made its primary focus. In July, IFTTT and Square announced a similar deal, creating a link between brick and mortar retail and web apps and the internet of things.

Stripe IFTTT recipes

The Stripe channel is now live in IFTTT, offering five different recipes for creating sales, refund and transfer alerts. But any merchant who wants to get creative can create ties between its sales data and a hundred other IFTTT channels.

IBM highlights a growing Watson ecosystem and API collection

IBM has announced a long list of new Watson customers and startup partners, ranging from standby industries such as health care to new ones such as cybersecurity and nonprofits. Perhaps more importantly, the company also gave developers a handful of new Watson-powered APIs.

AlchemyAPI now recognizes famous faces (and can learn yours, too)

AlchemyAPI’s deep-learning-based system can now be used to tag famous people in photos, or to recognize non-celebrities via labeled images in corporate or social networks. It’s the latest — but not the last — service the company has released since getting started analyzing text in 2012.