The Cloud Connection September 2023

CloudBuzz | InsideScoop | TrendTracker | SectorSpotlight | NewsBites

In each edition, I’ll bring you the latest updates to keep you informed and connected in the rapidly evolving world of technology

Cloud Buzz – HashiCorp, Terraform and OpenTofu

In August, when HashiCorp revealed changes to its Terraform license, it caused a real stir in the open-source community. In fact, it posed a significant threat to startups built on this popular open-source project. In response, the community rallied, penning a manifesto in just a few weeks and soon after, they introduced an official fork named OpenTF.

Today, this group took another leap forward when the Linux Foundation announced OpenTofu – the official name for the Terraform fork. This project will now permanently exist under the foundation’s stewardship as an open-source project. Concurrently, the project declared its intention to apply for membership in the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

The foundation issued a statement saying, “OpenTofu is an open and community-led rebuttal to Terraform’s recent license change from a Mozilla Public License v2.0 (MPLv2) to a Business Source License v1.1. It offers everyone a dependable open-source alternative under a neutral governance model.”

Yevgeniy (Jim) Brikman explained that HashiCorp left the breakaway group with no other option but to launch the fork. He credited HashiCorp for its impressive work on the project but emphasised that foundational building blocks like Terraform must always be open source. The community was taken aback when the license was switched to a non-open-source license.

Brikman and Bansal both reiterated their commitment to the community and the open-source ethos. They expressed their wish to support a project that provides an alternative to Terraform that the community will continue to own. By making OpenTofu a part of the Linux Foundation and aiming for acceptance by CNCF, they hope to ensure the project’s longevity as an open-source initiative.

As for HashiCorp, they believe they were acting in the best interest of their core business. In a blog post dated August 10th, HashiCorp’s co-founder Armon Dadgar justified their decision, citing issues with vendors exploiting pure open-source models for personal commercial gain, without contributing materially in return.

Brikman acknowledges the importance of attracting bigger companies for the project’s success. He believes this will happen naturally as the project hits key milestones and gains community traction. He envisions a future where the project fork might add unique features, differentiating it from what HashiCorp has built.

He revealed that tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are currently observing the situation. But conversations are ongoing and the plan is to convince them of their seriousness about the project and gradually draw them in. He believes in executing the project correctly and gradually winning their trust.

A public roadmap is in place, with plans for an alpha release. Brikman encourages people to visit the OpenTofu website, download OpenTofu, and start testing it. A stable release is imminent, and once available, it will drive adoption, which he hopes will encourage the big players to step in. Read more here

Inside Scoop – iseek’s cloud storage

When it comes to cloud storage solutions, the names that often come to mind are Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 and Microsoft Azure Blob. While these are undeniably robust solutions, there are alternatives that offer comparable features, at more competitive rates. One such alternative is iseek’s Objectstore solution. This is an S3-compatible cloud storage solution that stands as a viable alternative to the Hyperscalers, especially for Australian Businesses.

iseek’s Objectstore solution is designed to provide businesses with a superior cloud storage solution that is both cost-effective and reliable. This S3-compatible storage solution is housed in iseek’s data centres in Brisbane and Townsville. By choosing a local provider like iseek, businesses can benefit from faster data access times, improved data sovereignty, and the assurance that their data is protected by Australian laws.

A notable advantage of iseek’s Objectstore solution is its transparent and cost-effective pricing model. Unlike AWS and Microsoft, which may charge ingress/egress fees and API fees, iseek’s Objectstore solution has a flat fee pricing model. Customers are not charged any ingress/egress fees or API fees. This means that businesses can transfer data in and out of the Objectstore without incurring any additional costs, a feature particularly beneficial for businesses that require frequent data migrations or transfers.

The pricing for iseek’s Objectstore solution starts as low as $.020 per gigabyte (Gb). By eliminating the complexities of tiered and variable pricing models, iseek provides businesses with predictability and control over their cloud storage costs.

Furthermore, businesses that opt for iseek’s Objectstore solution will have their bills issued in Australian dollars (AUD). This eliminates any concerns about fluctuating exchange rates that can affect the costs of services billed in other currencies. It also simplifies financial planning and budgeting for these businesses.

iseek’s ObjectStore solution provides a viable alternative to the Hyperscaler cloud storage offerings. With our S3-compatible storage solution hosted locally in Queensland, the absence of ingress/egress and API fees, a flat fee pricing model, and billing in AUD, iseek’s Objectstore solution offers an attractive choice for businesses seeking a cost-effective, reliable, and locally-hosted cloud storage solution.

Trend Tracker:  All about AI

Visa has revealed plans to invest $100 million into companies that are developing generative AI technologies and applications which could revolutionise the future of commerce and payments. The investments will be made via Visa Ventures, Visa’s global corporate investment branch which has been running for 16 years.

Visa has a long history with AI, claiming to have pioneered its use in payments since 1993. Generative AI, the particular subset of AI in which Visa is interested, is trained on large amounts of existing data to produce text, images or other types of content in response to text prompts.

David Rolf, head of Visa Ventures, stated that generative AI could potentially be “one of the most transformative technologies of our time.” He also said that Visa Ventures had a great deal of flexibility regarding how many investments it would make from the new fund and what the average check size would be.

Visa is particularly interested in backing companies which are using generative AI to solve tangible problems in the areas of commerce, payments, and fintech. This includes B2B processes related to payments as well as infrastructure that could have a significant impact on commerce. Read more here on Visa’s plan.

However AI is still an emerging technology, and for all emerging technology it’s wise to keep an eye on the Gartner Hype Cycle.

Sector Spotlight – Lights off at MGM

MGM Resorts has ended a 10-day computer shutdown caused by a cyberattack aimed at its data, including hotel reservations and credit card processing. The casino giant made the announcement on Wednesday, stating that all of its hotels and casinos are now operating normally.

The cyberattack was first detected on 10th September. Last week, rival casino owner Caesars Entertainment also revealed to federal regulators that it had suffered a cyberattack on 7th September. While its casino and online operations were not disrupted, the company could not guarantee that personal information of tens of millions of customers had not been compromised.

Caesars, based in Reno, is understood to have paid $15 million of a $30 million ransom demanded by a group called Scattered Spider to safeguard the data.

Details about the extent of the breach at MGM have not been disclosed, including the type of information that may have been compromised and the cost to the company. However, Gregory Moody, professor and director of the cybersecurity programme at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, suggested that the computer shutdown could have cost the company up to $8 million per day, totalling $80 million.

Despite this, Moody also noted that MGM Resorts reports annual revenues exceeding $14 billion, equating to at least $270 million in revenues per week.

On Wednesday, the company reported that systems handling resort services, dining, entertainment, pools and spas were operational and its website and app were taking dining and spa reservations while the company worked to restore hotel booking and loyalty reward functions. Read more here.

News Bites – Everything is Awesome?

Lego, the empire built on plastic, has faced a significant setback in its quest for sustainability. From their inception, Lego bricks have been created from oil, a fossil fuel, using acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) which is neither biodegradable nor easily recyclable, leading to environmental pollution in the form of microplastics.

Once hailed for its durability and versatility, plastic has become a problematic material for the toy manufacturer, currently valued at $7.4 billion, due to increasing environmental concerns and the global push to reduce plastic pollution.

Despite the company’s commitment to a green transition, recent attempts to replace ABS with recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET), a material derived from recycled plastic bottles, have fallen short of expectations. The production of rPET presented numerous challenges, including difficulties with colouring the product and scaling production.

Furthermore, the material required significant pre- and post-treatment, including an energy-intensive drying process to remove moisture. Upon further evaluation, Lego researchers uncovered that the manufacturing of rPET, along with the installation of new equipment, would actually result in a higher carbon footprint than continuing the use of ABS.

As a result, the company’s ambitious project to switch to more sustainable materials has been halted, forcing Lego to reassess its approach to environmental sustainability. Full article on Wired.

And finally, as always, feedback is welcome. Which topic was of interest? What do you want more or less of? Other suggestions? Or just a chat on tech? Please let me know, have a great day and enjoy!

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