Twilio launches a new SIM card and narrowband dev kit for IoT developers

Twilio is hosting its Signal developer conference in San Francisco this week. Yesterday was all about bots and taking payments over the phone; today is all about IoT. The company is launching two new (but related) products today that will make it easier for IoT developers to connect their devices. The first is the Global […]

Twilio is hosting its Signal developer conference in San Francisco this week. Yesterday was all about bots and taking payments over the phone; today is all about IoT. The company is launching two new (but related) products today that will make it easier for IoT developers to connect their devices. The first is the Global Super SIM that offers global connectivity management through the networks of Twilio’s partners. The second is Twilio Narrowband, which, in cooperation with T-Mobile, offers a full software and hardware kit for building low-bandwidth IoT solutions and the narrowband network to connect them.

Twilio also announced that it is expanding its wireless network partnerships with the addition of Singtel, Telefonica and Three Group. Unsurprisingly, those are also the partners that make the company’s Super SIM project possible.

The Super SIM, which is currently in private preview and will launch in public beta in the spring of 2019, provides developers with a global network that lets them deploy and manage their IoT devices anywhere (assuming there is a cell connection or other internet connectivity, of course). The Super SIM gives developers the ability to choose the network they want to use or to let Twilio pick the defaults based on the local networks.

Twilio Narrowband is a slightly different solution. Its focus right now is on the U.S., where T-Mobile rolled out its Narrowband IoT network earlier this year. As the name implies, this is about connecting low-bandwidth devices that only need to send out small data packets like timestamps, GPS coordinates or status updates. Twilio Narrowband sits on top of this, using Twilio’s Programmable Wireless and SIM card. It then adds an IoT developer kit with an Arduino-based development board and the standard Grove sensors on top of that, as well as a T-Mobile-certified hardware module for connecting to the narrowband network. To program that all, Twilio is launching an SDK for handling network registrations and optimizing the communication between the devices and the cloud.

The narrowband service will launch as a beta in early 2019 and offer three pricing plans: a developer plan for $2/month, an annual production plan for $10/year or $5/year at scale, and a five-year plan for $8/year or $4/year at scale.

Google launches compose actions to streamline access to SaaS apps in Gmail

Lately, Google has been all about shaving time off your everyday activities when sending emails. First they came out with smart responses that let you choose among several (sometimes) logical responses to the email. Next was type ahead, which guesses what you might want to type with remarkable accuracy. Today the company announced the general […]

Lately, Google has been all about shaving time off your everyday activities when sending emails. First they came out with smart responses that let you choose among several (sometimes) logical responses to the email. Next was type ahead, which guesses what you might want to type with remarkable accuracy. Today the company announced the general availability of compose actions, another way to save you a little time.

These connectors, which are part of the company’s G Suite business offering, link to your favorite SaaS applications like Box, Dropbox, Egnyte and Atlassian Jira and let you work on these service in the context of the email. Software companies have been stressing ways to keep you in the flow of your work without switching focus and that’s precisely what compose actions have been designed to do.

“Compose actions make it easy for you to add attachments, reference records, or liven up your messages with content from your favorite third-party apps right as you draft your message in Gmail,” Aakash Sahney, Google’s product manager for Gmail and Chat wrote in a blog post announcing the new feature.

You start by connecting your service of choice in G Suite using the Gmail Add-on tool. Google created Gmail Add-ons to make it simpler to integrate these third-party tools into the Gmail workflow. Once you authorize the tool, it will now appear as an option in your compose window, giving you direct access to the content without leaving Gmail. G Suite admins can create a list of authorized apps if they wish to limit the integrations to sanctioned services.

If you want to incorporate a file or folder from Box, Dropbox or Egnyte, authorize the app and then you can click the compose action that appears in the email compose window to access the service and pull in a file.

Gif: Google

With the Atlassian integration, you can insert a project file directly in the email.

Gif: Google

This may not seem like much, but it’s all in the service of reducing keystrokes and actions that tend to add up in terms of time spent over the course of a day. Instead of opening your content provider’s service, navigating or searching to the content, copying it and then pasting into the email, you can simply click the compose action and access the service directly from Gmail.

Compose actions were first announced at the Google Cloud Next conference in July. They are available for G Suite subscribers starting today.

Atlassian launches the new Jira Software Cloud

Atlassian previewed the next generation of its hosted Jira Software project tracking tool earlier this year. Today, it’s available to all Jira users. To build the new Jira, Atlassian redesigned both the back-end stack and rethought the user experience from the ground up. That’s not an easy change, given how important Jira has become for […]

Atlassian previewed the next generation of its hosted Jira Software project tracking tool earlier this year. Today, it’s available to all Jira users. To build the new Jira, Atlassian redesigned both the back-end stack and rethought the user experience from the ground up. That’s not an easy change, given how important Jira has become for virtually every company that develops software — and given that it is Atlassian’s flagship product. And with this launch, Atlassian is now focusing on its hosted version of Jira (which is hosted on AWS) and prioritizing that over the self-hosted server version.

So the new version of Jira that’s launching to all users today doesn’t just have a new, cleaner look, but more importantly, new functionality that allows for a more flexible workflow that’s less dependent on admins and gives more autonomy to teams (assuming the admins don’t turn those features off).

Because changes to such a popular tool are always going to upset at least some users, it’s worth noting at the outset that the old classic view isn’t going away. “It’s important to note that the next-gen experience will not replace our classic experience, which millions of users are happily using,” Jake Brereton, head of marketing for Jira Software Cloud, told me. “The next-gen experience and the associated project type will be available in addition to the classic projects that users have always had access to. We have no plans to remove or sunset any of the classic functionality in Jira Cloud.”

The core tenet of the redesign is that software development in 2018 is very different from the way developers worked in 2002, when Jira first launched. Interestingly enough, the acquisition of Trello also helped guide the overall design of the new Jira.

“One of the key things that guided our strategy is really bringing the simplicity of Trello and the power of Jira together,” Sean Regan, Atlassian’s head of growth for Software Teams, told me. “One of the reasons for that is that modern software development teams aren’t just developers down the hall taking requirements. In the best companies, they’re embedded with the business, where you have analysts, marketing, designers, product developers, product managers — all working together as a squad or a triad. So JIRA, it has to be simple enough for those teams to function but it has to be powerful enough to run a complex software development process.”

Unsurprisingly, the influence of Trello is most apparent in the Jira boards, where you can now drag and drop cards, add new columns with a few clicks and easily filter cards based on your current needs (without having to learn Jira’s powerful but arcane query language). Gone are the days where you had to dig into the configuration to make even the simplest of changes to a board.

As Regan noted, when Jira was first built, it was built with a single team in mind. Today, there’s a mix of teams from different departments that use it. So while a singular permissions model for all of Jira worked for one team, it doesn’t make sense anymore when the whole company uses the product. In the new Jira then, the permissions model is project-based. “So if we wanted to start a team right now and build a product, we could design our board, customize our own issues, build our own workflows — and we could do it without having to find the IT guy down the hall,” he noted.

One feature the team seems to be especially proud of is roadmaps. That’s a new feature in Jira that makes it easier for teams to see the big picture. Like with boards, it’s easy enough to change the roadmap by just dragging the different larger chunks of work (or “epics,” in Agile parlance) to a new date.

“It’s a really simple roadmap,” Brereton explained. “It’s that way by design. But the problem we’re really trying to solve here is, is to bring in any stakeholder in the business and give them one view where they can come in at any time and know that what they’re looking at is up to date. Because it’s tied to your real work, you know that what we’re looking at is up to date, which seems like a small thing, but it’s a huge thing in terms of changing the way these teams work for the positive.

The Atlassian team also redesigned what’s maybe the most-viewed page of the service: the Jira issue. Now, issues can have attachments of any file type, for example, making it easier to work with screenshots or files from designers.

Jira now also features a number of new APIs for integrations with Bitbucket and GitHub (which launched earlier this month), as well as InVision, Slack, Gmail and Facebook for Work.

With this update, Atlassian is also increasing the user limit to 5,000 seats, and Jira now features compliance with three different ISO certifications and SOC 2 Type II.

Seva snares $2.4M seed investment to find info across cloud services

Seva, a New York City startup, that wants to help customers find content wherever it lives across SaaS products, announced a $2.4 million seed round today. Avalon Ventures led the round with participation from Studio VC and Datadog founder and CEO Olivier Pomel. Company founder and CEO Sanjay Jain says that he started this company […]

Seva, a New York City startup, that wants to help customers find content wherever it lives across SaaS products, announced a $2.4 million seed round today. Avalon Ventures led the round with participation from Studio VC and Datadog founder and CEO Olivier Pomel.

Company founder and CEO Sanjay Jain says that he started this company because he felt the frustration personally of having to hunt across different cloud services to find the information he was looking for. When he began researching the idea for the company, he found others who also complained about this fragmentation.

“Our fundamental vision is to change the way that knowledge workers acquire the information they need to do their jobs from one where they have to spend a ton of time actually seeking it out to one where the Seva platform can prescribe the right information at the right time when and where the knowledge worker actually needs it, regardless of where it lives.”

Seva, which is currently in Beta, certainly isn’t the first company to try and solve this issue. Jain believes that with a modern application of AI and machine learning and single sign-on, Seva can provide a much more user-centric approach than past solutions simply because the technology wasn’t there yet.

The way they do this is by looking across the different information types. Today they support a range of products including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive,, Box, Dropbox, Slack and JIRA, Confluence. Jain says they will be adding additional services over time.

Screenshot: Seva

Customers can link Seva to these products by simply selecting one and entering the user credentials. Seva inherits all of the security and permissioning applied to each of the services, so when it begins pulling information from different sources, it doesn’t violate any internal permissioning in the process.

Jain says once connected to these services, Seva can then start making logical connections between information wherever it lives. A salesperson might have an appointment with a customer in his or her calendar, information about the customer in a CRM and a training video related to the customer visit. It can deliver all of this information as a package, which users can share with one another within the platform, giving it a collaborative element.

Seva currently has 6 employees, but with the new funding is looking to hire a couple of more engineers to add to the team. Jain hopes the money will be a bridge to a Series A round at the end of next year by which time the product will be generally available.

MIT researchers say memory splitting breakthrough could prevent another Meltdown or Spectre

Virtually every modern computer processor was thrown under the bus earlier this year when researchers found a fundamental design weakness in Intel, AMD and ARM chips, making it possible to steal sensitive data from the computer’s memory. The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities — which date back to 1995 — punched holes in the walls that […]

Virtually every modern computer processor was thrown under the bus earlier this year when researchers found a fundamental design weakness in Intel, AMD and ARM chips, making it possible to steal sensitive data from the computer’s memory.

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities — which date back to 1995 — punched holes in the walls that keeps apps from accessing other parts of the system’s memory that it doesn’t have permission to read. That meant a skilled attacker could figure out where sensitive data was stored, like passwords and encryption keys. While the companies mitigated some of the flaws, they acknowledged that their long term plan would require a core redesign in how their computer processors work.

Now, a team of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) researchers say they have found a way to prevent a similar range of flaws like Meltdown and Spectre in the future.

When an app needs to store something in memory, it asks the processor where to put it. But searching for that memory is slow, so processors use a trick known as “speculative execution” to run several sets of tasks at the same time while it finds the right memory slot. But attackers can exploit the same technique to allow an app to read parts of the memory that it shouldn’t be allowed to read.

MIT’s CSAIL says their technique would split up memory so that the data not stored in the same place — in what the team calls “secure way partitioning.”

They call it called DAWG — or “Dynamically Allocated Way Guard” — which, admittedly might sound ridiculous, but it’s meant to work as a counterpoint to Intel’s Cache Allocation Technology, or CAT. According to their work, DAWG works similarly to CAT and doesn’t require many changes to the device’s operating system — making it potentially as easy to install on an affected computer as Meltdown’s microcode fix.

According to Vladimir Kiriansky, one of the research paper’s authors, the new technique “establishes clear boundaries for where sharing should and should not happen, so that programs with sensitive information can keep that data reasonably secure.”

Not only could the technology help to protect regular computers, but also also vulnerable cloud infrastructures.

Although DAWG can’t prevent against every speculative attack, the researchers are now working to improve their technology to prevent against more — if not all attacks.

But if their technology is picked up by Intel or any other chip maker, the researchers say techniques like DAWG could “restore our confidence in public cloud infrastructure, and hardware and software co-design will help minimize performance overheads.”

Epsagon emerges from stealth with serverless monitoring tool

Epsagon, an Israeli startup, launched today with a new serverless tool that helps customers monitor infrastructure, even when they don’t know where or what that is. That’s the nature of serverless of course. It involves ephemeral resources. Developers build a series of event triggers and the cloud vendor spins up the necessary resources as needed. […]

Epsagon, an Israeli startup, launched today with a new serverless tool that helps customers monitor infrastructure, even when they don’t know where or what that is.

That’s the nature of serverless of course. It involves ephemeral resources. Developers build a series of event triggers and the cloud vendor spins up the necessary resources as needed. The beauty of that approach is programmers just codes without worrying about infrastructure, but the downside is that operations doesn’t have any way of controlling or understanding that infrastructure.

Epsagon is trying to solve that problem by giving visibility into serverless architecture. “What the company does, essentially is distributed tracing, observability and cost monitoring for serverless. We’ve been laying low for awhile, and now is actually the official launch of the company,” CEO and co-founder Nitzan Shapira told TechCrunch.

With serverless you can’t use an agent because you don’t know where to put it. There is no fixed server to attach it to. This makes using traditional logging tools inappropriate. Epsagon gets around this problem with an agentless approach using libraries. Shapria says the company will be open sourcing these libraries to make them more attractive to developers.

For starters, the company is supporting AWS Lambda, but plans to expand to other cloud platforms next year. First you sign up for Epsagon, enter your AWS credentials and it immediately begins providing some information about performance in the Epsagon dashboard. But Shapira says the real value comes from the libraries. “We have this library that is essentially the instrumentation, which acts in the same way an agent does,” he explained.

Screenshot: Epsagon

The product does more than simply provide traditional monitoring data though. It also allows customers to understand what they are spending. With serverless, the cloud company provides you resources as required, which is convenient, but could also spiral out of control quickly from a cost perspective. Epsagon lets you see exactly what you’re paying.

The company is still playing with pricing, but they are using a self-service approach for starters. You go and sign up on their website and there are a variety of pricing options starting with a free tier. All of the tiers have a free two-week trial.

Epsagon, which is based in Tel Aviv, currently has 11 employees. They are in the process of opening a US office where they will establish sales, marketing and support operations. They raised $4 million led by Lightspeed Venture Partners in January.

Epsagon emerges from stealth with serverless monitoring tool

Epsagon, an Israeli startup, launched today with a new serverless tool that helps customers monitor infrastructure, even when they don’t know where or what that is. That’s the nature of serverless of course. It involves ephemeral resources. Developers build a series of event triggers and the cloud vendor spins up the necessary resources as needed. […]

Epsagon, an Israeli startup, launched today with a new serverless tool that helps customers monitor infrastructure, even when they don’t know where or what that is.

That’s the nature of serverless of course. It involves ephemeral resources. Developers build a series of event triggers and the cloud vendor spins up the necessary resources as needed. The beauty of that approach is programmers just codes without worrying about infrastructure, but the downside is that operations doesn’t have any way of controlling or understanding that infrastructure.

Epsagon is trying to solve that problem by giving visibility into serverless architecture. “What the company does, essentially is distributed tracing, observability and cost monitoring for serverless. We’ve been laying low for awhile, and now is actually the official launch of the company,” CEO and co-founder Nitzan Shapira told TechCrunch.

With serverless you can’t use an agent because you don’t know where to put it. There is no fixed server to attach it to. This makes using traditional logging tools inappropriate. Epsagon gets around this problem with an agentless approach using libraries. Shapria says the company will be open sourcing these libraries to make them more attractive to developers.

For starters, the company is supporting AWS Lambda, but plans to expand to other cloud platforms next year. First you sign up for Epsagon, enter your AWS credentials and it immediately begins providing some information about performance in the Epsagon dashboard. But Shapira says the real value comes from the libraries. “We have this library that is essentially the instrumentation, which acts in the same way an agent does,” he explained.

Screenshot: Epsagon

The product does more than simply provide traditional monitoring data though. It also allows customers to understand what they are spending. With serverless, the cloud company provides you resources as required, which is convenient, but could also spiral out of control quickly from a cost perspective. Epsagon lets you see exactly what you’re paying.

The company is still playing with pricing, but they are using a self-service approach for starters. You go and sign up on their website and there are a variety of pricing options starting with a free tier. All of the tiers have a free two-week trial.

Epsagon, which is based in Tel Aviv, currently has 11 employees. They are in the process of opening a US office where they will establish sales, marketing and support operations. They raised $4 million led by Lightspeed Venture Partners in January.

Blade Shadow Review: This Cloud-Based Streaming Service Puts A Gaming Windows 10 PC On Your Mac

Here’s Blade Shadow review, a cloud-based game streaming service that puts a full gaming Windows 10 PC on your Mac. [ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

Here's Blade Shadow review, a cloud-based game streaming service that puts a full gaming Windows 10 PC on your Mac.


[ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

Jeff Bezos is just fine taking the Pentagon’s $10B JEDI cloud contract

Some tech companies might have a problem taking money from the Department of Defense, but Amazon isn’t one of them, as CEO Jeff Bezos made clear today at the Wired25 conference. Just last week, Google pulled out of the running for the Pentagon’s $10 billion, 10-year JEDI cloud contract, but Bezos suggested that he was happy […]

Some tech companies might have a problem taking money from the Department of Defense, but Amazon isn’t one of them, as CEO Jeff Bezos made clear today at the Wired25 conference. Just last week, Google pulled out of the running for the Pentagon’s $10 billion, 10-year JEDI cloud contract, but Bezos suggested that he was happy to take the government’s money.

Bezos has been surprisingly quiet about the contract up until now, but his company has certainly attracted plenty of attention from the companies competing for the JEDI deal. Just last week IBM filed a formal protest with the Government Accountability Office claiming that the contract was stacked in favor one vendor. And while it didn’t name it directly, the clear implication was that company was the one owned by Bezos.

Last summer Oracle also filed a protest and also complained that they believed the government had set up the contract to favor Amazon, a charge spokesperson Heather Babb denied. “The JEDI Cloud final RFP reflects the unique and critical needs of DOD, employing the best practices of competitive pricing and security. No vendors have been pre-selected,” she said last month.

While competitors are clearly worried about Amazon, which has a substantial lead in the cloud infrastructure market, the company itself has kept quiet on the deal until now. Bezos set his company’s support in patriotic terms and one of leadership.

“Sometimes one of the jobs of the senior leadership team is to make the right decision, even when it’s unpopular. And if if big tech companies are going to turn their back on the US Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble,” he said.

“I know everyone is conflicted about the current politics in this country, but this country is a gem,” he added.

While Google tried to frame its decision as taking a principled stand against misuse of technology by the government, Bezos chose another tack, stating that all technology can be used for good or ill. “Technologies are always two-sided. You know there are ways they can be misused as well as used, and this isn’t new,” Bezos told Wired25.

He’s not wrong of course, but it’s hard not to look at the size of the contract and see it as purely a business decision on his part. Amazon is as hot for that $10 billion contract as any of its competitors. What’s different in this talk is that Bezos made it sound like a purely patriotic decision, rather than economic one.

The Pentagon’s JEDI contract could have a value of up to $10 billion with a maximum length of 10 years. The contract is framed as a two year deal with two three-year options and a final one for two years. The DOD can opt out before exercising any of the options.

Bidding for the contract closed last Friday. The DOD is expected to choose the winning vendor next April.

Celonis brings intelligent process automation software to cloud

Celonis has been helping companies analyze and improve their internal processes using machine learning. Today the company announced it was providing that same solution as a cloud service with a few nifty improvements you won’t find on prem. The new approach, called Celonis Intelligent Business Cloud, allows customers to analyze a workflow, find inefficiencies and […]

Celonis has been helping companies analyze and improve their internal processes using machine learning. Today the company announced it was providing that same solution as a cloud service with a few nifty improvements you won’t find on prem.

The new approach, called Celonis Intelligent Business Cloud, allows customers to analyze a workflow, find inefficiencies and offer improvements very quickly. Companies typically follow a workflow that has developed over time and very rarely think about why it developed the way it did, or how to fix it. If they do, it usually involves bringing in consultants to help. Celonis puts software and machine learning to bear on the problem.

Co-founder and CEO Alexander Rinke says that his company deals with massive volumes of data and moving all of that to the cloud makes sense. “With Intelligent Business Cloud, we will unlock that [on prem data], bring it to the cloud in a very efficient infrastructure and provide much more value on top of it,” he told TechCrunch.

The idea is to speed up the whole ingestion process, allowing a company to see the inefficiencies in their business processes very quickly. Rinke says it starts with ingesting data from sources such as Salesforce or SAP and then creating a visual view of the process flow. There may be hundreds of variants from the main process workflow, but you can see which ones would give you the most value to change, based on the number of times the variation occurs.

Screenshot: Celonis

By packaging the Celonis tools as a cloud service, they are reducing the complexity of running and managing it. They are also introducing an app store with over 300 pre-packaged options for popular products like Salesforce and ServiceNow and popular process like order to cash. This should also help get customers up and running much more quickly.

New Celonis App Store. Screenshot: Celonis

The cloud service also includes an Action Engine, which Rinke describes as a big step toward moving Celonis from being purely analytical to operational. “Action Engine focuses on changing and improving processes. It gives workers concrete info on what to do next. For example in process analysis, it would notice on time delivery isn’t great because order to cash is to slow. It helps accelerate changes in system configuration,” he explained.

Celonis Action Engine. Screenshot: Celonis

The new cloud service is available today. Celonis was founded in 2011. It has raised over $77 million. The most recent round was a $50 million Series B on a valuation over $1 billion.