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Amazon’s amazing Kindle ecosystem
2013 might go down in history as the year all of the big tech companies officially gave up on the dream of interoperability and began building ecosystems where your best chance of success comes with using their devices with their software and their services.
And no one has been more determined than Amazon to build its own ecosystem, or more successful. The Kindle readers have evolved in a few short years to be world-class tablets sold at a discount to their competitors. The Kindle Fire HDX is arguably the best 7-inch device you can buy, feather light, with a gorgeous screen. Amazon remade Android in a way that fits its strengths as the world’s largest bookseller.
And the icing on the cake in 2013 was a ruling in Federal court that Amazon’s biggest, most feared rival, Apple, was guilty of violating antitrust law by colluding with publishers to fix prices. The biggest winner is the book-buying public, which will continue to see Amazon aggressively price online books, even selling them below cost to drive sales of the Kindle Fire HDX. Thus keeping it all in the family.
— Ed Bott
Virtualization as malware killer
Every IT pro knows how virtualization is increasing data center efficiency and streamlining deployment of applications and services. But on desktops, the technology is still mostly a specialized tool for software testers and developers.
That might all change soon, thanks to Bromium, a startup that specialize in what it calls “micro-virtualization technology.” The company released its first product, vSentry, this year, with the ambitious goal of automatically stopping malware and targeted attacks viruses in their tracks on any computer running Microsoft Windows.
On a PC running Bromium’s vSentry, every single process is virtualized. Every time you fire up an application—including a web browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome—it's isolated in its own micro-VM. When you close the application or the process, that micro-VM also dies, as does any malware that may have entered the system via that process.
No virus cleaning, no quarantining. No reboots. It vanishes in a puff of logic.
That, of course, assumes that an attacker was able to get through in the first place. Another Bromium technology, Live Attack Visualization and Analysis (LAVA), monitors every micro-VM for telltale signs of an attack, using crowd-sourced data to spot the behavioral signatures of common attacks. It can spot redirects, cross-site scripting attacks, and phishing attempts as well as rootkits and bootkits, shutting down the micro-VM before it can be compromised.
In the not so distant future, advanced virtualization technology like Bromium’s could very well make traditional Windows malware a thing of the past.
— Jason Perlow
The cloud turns solid
The cloud is your new server. And someday soon it might also be your new desktop, too.
In 2013, Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service went from mind-numbing acronyms (IaaS/PaaS) to real things. Microsoft’s Azure continues to grow, with this year marking its entry into the billion-dollar-annual revenue club in Redmond. You can run a Windows server or Linux in an Azure instance, and the latest update to Microsoft’s traditional server software, Windows Server 2012 R2 with System Center 2012 R2, known together as Microsoft Cloud OS, is more tightly tied to the cloud than ever.
Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services launched an unexpected offering of its own: Amazon WorkSpaces, which it pitches as desktop-as-a-service. Each virtual machine, running in the AWS cloud, hosts a fully licensed version of Windows 7, with or without productivity software like Office, that enterprises can deploy instead of using alternatives from VMware, Citrix, or IBM. Amazon has released WorkSpaces clients for Windows, Mac, and iPads, with Kindle Fire and Android clients on deck.
And if you prefer to roll your own private cloud, you’ve got open source alternatives like OpenStack Havana. That platform, based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, got a big boost from the newly private Dell, which will be the first OEM to deliver the software as part of Dell Cloud Services.
If you thought the cloud was just a fad, you were mistaken. Get used to it.
— Ed Bott