A couple of days back, I decided to buy a Christmas present for my wife. In my usual lackadaisical procrastinating style however–I only decided to buy on the 21st of December, which is barely 4 days from Christmas.
In my defense, I already had a great Christmas present in mind–it was something called the fitbit, a full fledge pedometer that not just records your steps everyday, but also your sleep time and tracks your daily activity. The best part is that the fitbit stores your data on the cloud, where you can analyze it to your hearts content. Not a bad present for a wife whose far more physically active than me :). (does blogging while standing count as a physical activity??)
There was however one problem–the fitbit isn’t available in Malaysia. I tried and I tried, but I couldn’t even find a lowyat seller who had it in stock. Now we really did have a problem.
Fortunately, I found one on Amazon–and Amazon did ship to Malaysia. So after a couple of credit card details were punched in (and a full USD30 for shipping) I manage to place my order on Amazon. The Amazon website promised 2-4 day delivery time-frame but stipulated in no uncertain terms that the order would not reach me before Christmas.
I remember my computer security professor telling me that encryption doesn’t make it impossible to decrypt, but rather infeasible to decrypt. Nobody is going to buy a supercomputer to crack your final year thesis, simply because the data isn’t worth nearly as much as the cost to crack it–thereby making it infeasible.
With cloud computing, however, end-users and regular joes like us, have access to very very powerful machines for a fraction of their actual cost (since we’re only renting the machines). Couple that with the high scalability of the cloud , it means that what was previously infeasible, is now a very viable option. In fact what used to be only available to big corporations and governments, now has become available to anyone with a credit card and Amazon account.
I’m not talking about complex mathematical approaches to breaking encryption either, I’m talking about the standard brute force method. Brute Force basically involves trying every single possible password until you eventually find the password that works. In the past brute force wasn’t considered a valid option since trying all those passwords which number in the hundreds of billions, would require a very powerful computer, and most people–not even criminals, had access to that sort of computing power. However, with the advent of cloud computing, powerful hardware is suddenly becoming more available to the general public for low-down prices. What use to cost tens of thousands of dollars per server now cost just 2.60 an hour to ‘rent’.
What if we could use the power of the cloud to crack the average level encryption we have on our zip or excel files? Well it turns out, we can, and it’s results are ridiculous!
Google recently announced their Amazon EC2 killer, the Google Compute Engine or GCE. Google wasn’t messing around and went straight for the Amazon jugular releasing 4 instance types all of which appear cheaper than their Amazon counterparts. That being said the price comparison was done solely on the basis on a on-demand Amazon instance types–Amazons most expensive prices, if you compare for the Reserved instances, then prices become more competitive.
It’s exciting to finally see a Juggernaut big enough to take on Amazon in terms of price and scale. This is all around good news for everyone, especially since this report from Cisco estimates that revenues from IaaS providers are not only high right now, but will continue to grow over the next 5 years. There’s a lot of room at the IaaS space, and Google just wants to wet their beak here as well.
So it must have come as a pleasant surprise to Google when they heard ‘hurricane-like’ thunderstorms ripped across the US east coast taking down power to 3.5 million–and the Amazon East Data center as well. I was personally affected by this phenomena when my access to Netflix was abruptly halted, as you can imagine I wasn’t a happy camper.
I wrote a very long time ago, about cool Top Level domains you could buy. For instance I wanted to buy the .TH top level domain so that my website could be http://kei.th . Unfortunately, I found out that the .TH domain name belongs to Thailand and they’ve pretty made it very difficult for a non-Thai to get a hold of their domain names. You’re probably also familiar with the .TV top level domain belonging to a private enterprise and the country of Tuvalu. Or the .FM top level domain used by most radio stations including Hitz.FM and Mix.FM, this domain belongs to the Federation of Micronesian Islands. However, as cool as Top Level Domains are, they’re pretty limited, the UN list out just 190 member nations, and all in all, we’re looking at no more than 250 Top Level Domains in existence. *my guess
As you know, I’m not really happy with Maxis. I was utterly disappointed by their latest S3 launch, I don’t think their cloud offerings of ebook portal is anything to shout at, and the if my wifes office would get decent Digi coverage, I’d switch in a heartbeat.
That being said, this is one of the times I think Maxis has done a decent job on their Loker offering. It is quite well executed, and if I do say so myself, getting 25GB of free online storage space when you purchase an S3 from Maxis is quite an enticing offer.
So what is Loker?
Loker is a simple online storage area for Maxis customers to store their online files. Free registration comes with 5GB of free storage, which you can upgrade all the way to 25GB of storage space coupled with (as far as I can tell) unlimited downloads and uploads.
It’s also important to note that Maxis is offering the full 25GB to anyone who signs up for the Samsung Galaxy S3 package, which to me is a great value adding tool.
The service however, is only available to Maxis customers, and you need a Maxis phone number to register.
My wife is an avid reader (just like me!), but she reads mostly fiction where as I read non-fiction. So to save on our book bills which often exceed the RM1000 a year each, I thought it’ll be great to get ourselves an ebook reader. This would not only save us money , because e-books cost less than physical books–but would allows to easily store and retrieve the books we read, which currently occupy entire shelves in our small home. Lastly, it also allows us to have books on demand, no more waiting weeks for books to be delivered from the UK or the US, and we won’t need to drive out of our ways to book stores to get the books. So on her birthday, I decided to get ‘us’ a present–A kindle ebook reader.
So Maxis launched their new ebook portal aptly title www.ebuuk.com.my, far be it from me to point out that an ebook portal should at least have the word book spelled correctly (don’t you think so Maxis), also judging by the SSL certificate it appears wanted to go for a more generic myebooks.com.my domain name before switching to ebuuk.com.my.
I’m an avid reader and was excited when I heard the news, so I headed over to the Maxis ebuuk page, and noticed that it wasn’t up to my expectations. I was completely annoyed by the fact that in some cases the prices for ebooks via the ebuuk page was about twice the price of books you could download from Amazon. And the proof is below, it includes a book I’m about to purchase called The Progress Principle, retailing for USD9.99 on the Kindle for Amazon, while Maxis ebuuk retails it for Rm68.99. Now USD9.99 is about Rm30 or RM32, and Maxis is retailing it for about twice the price, that’s ridiculous. This is an ebook we’re talking about.
This blog is about Technology, but in these past few years it’s become impossible to talk about technology without touching on the subjects of copyright and censorship. Very few people have a clear cut definition of what is acceptable copyright infringement and what isn’t. Not too long ago I wrote about how a wordpress theme designer was being sued because he created a facebook theme, did you also know that facebook has already trademarked the term ‘face’ and is looking to trademark ‘book’ as well. Most readers of this blog know where I stand on copyrights, patents and intellectual property, where I draw the line however is trademark violations. A trademark is part of a brand, and usually trademark violations are a clear-cut attempt to fraud consumers by passing off a product or service as something it’s not.
So what about business ideas and business models. Is it OK to make a clone of Facebook, and call it mukabuku– maybe. Is it OK to use the blue and white hues that we’ve come to associate only to Facebook– that’s a bit uncomfortable as you may be tricking users to sign up for mukabuku by misleading them into believing mukabuku is a Facebook product. Well how about if you deploying mukabuku to a country that doesn’t have Facebook?
So what about the Samwer brothers and their new online retail site Lazada, that was just launched in Malaysia? It’s got all the hall marks of Amazon, is that OK?
After doing some research on Malaysian Cloud offerings particularly the IaaS offerings, I noticed something rather interesting from Skali. Now I always remembered Skali as an early web startup some time back in the 90s trying to ride the internet wave but failing all along the way, this however has some promise.
Skali takes cloud scalability to a whole different level with their cloud offerings, unlike other IaaS providers who offer a fixed number of machine types Skali offers a fully scalable machine that you can add processing power, Memory and Disk independently. In essence near unlimited amounts of options in terms of machine type compared to just 3 from Maxis Cloud.
The pricing still seems high, but it can go toe-to-toe with Maxis although it would depend on the specific requirements. From just the high level you can sense that these IaaS providers are going to compete for Malaysian customers but they’re competing with very niche offerings. Maxis ace up it’s sleeve would be the unlimited data transfer, which Skali charges at a mind-blowing Rm2/GB. Skali on the other hand offers an entire range of machine types (possibly in the hundreds), while Maxis offers just 3.
The choice between Maxis or Skali would be a simple one that would come down to how much data transfer or scalability you need in your application. That being said, let’s take a look at some other offerings from Skali Cloud.
Maxis recently launched their new IaaS offering in the form called the Maxis Cloud. According to Lowyat.net the Maxis Cloud is said to be the ” the most advanced on-demand, real-time, fully managed cloud service in Malaysia, Maxis Cloud allows businesses to scale their cloud computing infrastructure according to their needs at any time through its self-service portal.”
That’s basically calling yourself Jaguh Kampung. Pardon the sarcasm, but the Maxis Cloud does seem a tad bit expensive for a such a late entry into the game. You’d expect new IaaS providers that show up this late in the cloud game throw everything including the kitchen sink to get new subscribers. That however, has been lacking and a marketing strategy that seems more intent on selling IaaS to non-believers as oppose to selling the Maxis Cloud itself isn’t helping their case.
I’d loved to be rooting for Maxis, but most of it’s offerings just don’t add up, and there’s a whole bunch of questions about it’s bandwidth charges, support availability and API specifications that aren’t clear enough to me to make any sort of comparison or even recommendation. Plus the fact that its self service portal had a ‘technical issue’ when I logged on didn’t really bode well for my experience.
That being said, while analyzing I noticed that there is one thing Maxis could offer that could tilt the tables in its favor, Maxis is a communications company after all (unlike Amazon or Rackspace) and I think there just might be a chance it could offer something niche that would make it stand out. But first, let’s take a look at some key concepts: