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O’Reilly Closes Event Business | Gestalt IT Rundown: March 25, 2020

O’Reilly closes its event business, Microsoft has a font of exploits, the power of Folding@Home, and Storj Labs decentralizes cloud storage. Rich Stroffolino and Tom Hollingsworth discuss all this and more on the Gestalt IT Rundown this week, with special guest Stephen Foskett.

This week on the Rundown:

Google Cloud Firestore

As part of the announcements that would have been made at the Game Developers Conference, Google announced Cloud Firestore for game developers in open alpha. Firestore is a scalable NoSQL cloud database with multi-region availability, 5 9s of uptime, atomic transactions, robust offline support, and real-time listeners. Google is positioning this to save game states, storing user generated content, and to build a caching layer on top of your existing game server for sharing your gameplay data.

Azure Priority 

Microsoft announced it will prioritize access to Azure services to first responders, emergency services, and critical infrastructure, in the event of any capacity issues. As part of this, Microsoft is working with local governments to ensure data centers are staffed, and said they would adjust the offer of free cloud services to ensure they can support existing customers. Microsoft has seen Teams DAU double in a matter of weeks, and saw outages last week as a result of increased activity.

Gartner Cancels Through August

Gartner announced it is cancelling or rescheduling all its events scheduled from April through August as a result of COVID-19, projecting a $158 loss in Q2 revenue as a result. The company looks to keep all events after August on the calendar, including its flagship ITxpo scheduled for October.

Mist Premium Analytics

Juniper Networks continues to leverage its recent Mist Systems acquisition. The company launched the Mist Premium Analytics service, that offers visibility into networks and contextual location-based info on customers and employees. The service pairs well with Mist’s existing presence in the branch and retail WLAN space, and can provide customizable reports based a better understanding of behaivor both on the network and physical space within a given location. Was this always the way Juniper was going to monetize Mist, or more newsy Tom?

O’Reilly Out of the Live Event Business

O’Reilly Media Presidenty Laura Baldwin announced that the company was cancelling all its planned in-person events, and closing that portion of its business entirely. The company is proceed with online events becoming the new normal in technology, citing its recent Strata event with 4600 participants last week.

Storj Tardigrade

Storj Labs launched its blockchain-based Tardigrade Decentralized Cloud Storage Service. This offers 19PB of available capacity, using nodes run by indviduals and organizations, with about 3000 users on the platform from its beta release. Uploaded files are encrypted, then split into 80 fragments that are distributed over nodes, with only 29 pieces requires to reconstruct files to prevent outages if a node goes down. Tardigrade is S3 compliant, and according to co-founder Shawn Wilkinson said the service starts at “about half of the price” of centralized cloud storage.

Microsoft’s Font of Exploits 

Microsoft posted an advisory Monday that a previously undisclosed critical security flaw found in all supported versions of Windows, including Windows 10, is being exploited by attackers and there is currently no patch. The company says the vulnerability is found in how Windows handles and renders fonts, and a victim can be tricked into opening a malicious document to let the attackers remotely run malware, such as ransomware, on a vulnerable device. Microsoft says it’s working on a fix for hackers launching “limited, targeted attacks,” but did not say who was launching the attacks or at what scale. Although Windows 7 is affected, only enterprise users with extended security support will receive patches, expected to land on Microsoft’s next Patch Tuesday, April 14.

Supercomputers Fight COVID-19

IBM announced it is helping launch the COVID-19 High Performance Computing (HPC) Consortium and will help coordinate offering over 330 petaflops of computing power to researchers working on COVID-19. Other members include the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Department of Energy, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, as well as several universities and national labs. The consortium will evaluate proposals and prioritize resources based on the “”most immediate impact””, providing 16 systems with a combined 775,000 processor cores and 34,000 GPUs.

Meanwhile the Folding@Home project announced it was turning its distributed protein folding network to COVID-19 research. The project has seen a 1200% increase in contributors over the last two weeks, with 400,000 new machines onboard. Folding@Home now can output up to 470 petaflops across its network. Clearly the crisis could use as much computing resources as possible, but which is more impressive? ”

The Gestalt IT Rundown is a live weekly look at the IT news of the week. It broadcasts live on YouTube every Wednesday at 12:30pm ET. Be sure to subscribe to Gestalt IT on YouTube for the show each week.

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.

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