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Court snubs Microsoft, US govt’s request to throw out Amazon’s complaint against JEDI cloud contract decision

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Updated The US Court for Federal Claims on Wednesday denied motions by the Department of Justice and Microsoft to dismiss an Amazon Web Services lawsuit challenging the Defense Department’s decision to award its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract to the Windows giant.

Since 2019, AWS has been trying to overturn the government’s determination to hand Microsoft the $10bn single-vendor JEDI contract following a multi-year battle. Last October, AWS claimed in a court filing that President Trump had interfered in the Defense Department’s procurement process due to his apparent dislike of Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos.

Recreation of a scene from Star Wars A New Hope: Droids R2-D2 and C-3PO escaping the Tantive IV while under Imperial attack. Figures are 6 inch Hasbro Black Series action figures

They were not the cloud you were looking for, insists Amazon Web Services in unsealed JEDI protest

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The Department of Justice and Microsoft asked the judge hearing that case to dismiss AWS’s lawsuit but they’ve now been rebuffed, to the delight of AWS.

“The record of improper influence by former President Trump is disturbing, and we are pleased the Court will review the remarkable impact it had on the JEDI contract award,” an AWS spokesperson said in a statement provided to The Register. “AWS continues to be the superior technical choice, the less expensive choice, and would provide the best value to the DoD and the American taxpayer.

“We continue to look forward to the Court’s review of the many material flaws in the DoD’s evaluation, and we remain absolutely committed to ensuring that the Department has access to the best technology at the best price.”

The court’s decision doesn’t undo anything, but does add some uncertainty back into a situation the Defense Department and Microsoft would prefer to have settled.

AWS has argued not only that Trump’s animus against Bezos unfairly politicized the winner-takes-all contract but also that the Defense Department ignored AWS’s purported technological advantages.

Microsoft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment but the company in the past has blamed AWS for making an ill-considered bid.

“Amazon may make a lot of noise about bias and interference, but the DoD’s independent Inspector General made it clear that the department established and followed a proper procurement process,” said Frank Shaw, corporate VP of communications at Microsoft, in a blog post last year.

“And no one forced Amazon to bid high in the procurement. Amazon alone made the choice to bid high, but now wants to find a way to avoid the consequences of its own bad business decisions.” ®

Updated to add

“This procedural ruling changes little,” said Frank X. Shaw, corporate veep of Microsoft Communications, told The Register via email.

“Not once, but twice, professional procurement staff at the DoD chose Microsoft after a thorough review. Many other large and sophisticated customers make the same choice every week. We’ve continued for more than a year to do the internal work necessary to move forward on JEDI quickly, and we continue to work with DoD, as we have for more than 40 years, on mission critical initiatives like supporting its rapid shift to remote work and the Army’s IVAS.”

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Source: https://go.theregister.com/feed/www.theregister.com/2021/04/28/aws_jedi_ruling/

Networks

US-based hard disk drive suppliers face further scrutiny over whether they’ve shipped proscribed HDDs to Huawei

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US Commerce Committee Senator Roger Wicker is on a mission to find out if HDD makers stateside are shipping drives to Huawei, and has fired off questions to Seagate, Toshiba America Electronic Components (TAEC) and Western Digital.

This follows the initiation of a US Department of Commerce (DoC) investigation in March into the possible supply of Seagate HDDs to Huawei.

At the time we asked Seagate whether it was shipping disks to the much-maligned Chinese tech biz and it responded by saying it “complies with all applicable laws including export control regulations”, and “We do not comment on specific customers.” 

Roger Wicker official portrait. United States Congress

Roger Wicker

Wicker has written a fact-finding letter to the CEOs of the three HDD companies asking four specific questions:

The companies are requested to respond to Robert Turner, the committee’s chief of investigations, by the close of business on 21 May, giving them nine days from today.

The “Final Rule” refers to the DoC issuing an instruction in August 2020 “to tighten Huawei’s ability to procure items that are the direct product of specified US technology or software, such as hard disk drives.”

Western Digital, which also sold HDDs as well as NAND chips and SSDs to Huawei, stopped doing so in June 2019 after the US Department of Commerce put Huawei on a trade blacklist and defined rules for trading with companies on the list.

Such companies cannot obtain semiconductor “chips developed or produced from US software or technology to the same degree as comparable US chips.”

Any US company that sells a product subject to US DoC export control that was developed or made using US IP, software, technology or equipment to such companies, including Huawei and its affiliates, needs to obtain a licence. 

Bob Eulau, the then-CEO, told a Deutsche Bank 2020 Virtual Technology Conference, in autumn 2020, that WD had halted shipments to Huawei and applied for both HDD and SSD shipment licences. 

According to a WD representative we emailed today, it is still waiting for that licence. A WD spokesperson told us it intended “to cooperate with Ranking Member Wicker’s inquiry process”, adding: “We stopped shipping to Huawei in mid-September 2020 to comply with new rules issued by the Department of Commerce. We requested a license to ship products to Huawei in September 2020. Our application is still pending.”

Seagate’s CFO, Gianluca Romano, said on a September 2020 Deutsche Bank call that Seagate was evaluating the situation and had not applied for any licence.

He said at the time: “I don’t see any particular restriction for us in terms of being able to continue to ship to Huawei.”

We have asked Seagate about this.

TAEC’s stance is unknown.

Wicker is a ranking member of the US Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. That means he is the most senior member from a minority party; the Republicans in this case.

He closes his letter by saying: “I encourage the Department to take deliberate and robust action against any company found to be circumventing any part of it [the Final Rule] – especially considering the serious harm that Huawei poses to American security interests.”

We have contacted Seagate, TAEC and WD for comment. ®

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Source: https://go.theregister.com/feed/www.theregister.com/2021/05/12/us_hdd_export_probe/

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Fibre Channel is still around. And now it’s end-to-end at a sizzling-ish 64Gbit/s

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Fibre Channel hasn’t been exciting since storage area networks were young, hot, and pretty. But the protocol is still around, still has devotees, and just got an upgrade.

A seventh generation of Fibre Channel has been in the works for years, with a theoretical speed of 64Gbit/s. But while the likes of Broadcom had delivered 64G Fibre Channel switches in September 2020, according to our sibling site Blocks and Files, putting the update to work was a tad tricky for lack of a host bus adapter (HBA) that could connect a server or array to a seventh-gen switch.

Until yesterday, when Broadcom delivered the HBA for which a very small section of the world has been waiting, and boasted it can now deliver “a complete portfolio of products that enable an end-to-end 64G data path.”

The new Emulex Gen 7 LPe36000-series Host Bus Adapters are touted as delivering handy speed boosts, such as almost halving VM boot time during the “boot storms” that happen when lots of virtual machines spawn at once. Which is just the sort of thing that happens when lots of virtual desktops come into existence in the morning, and as desktop virtualization got quite a boost from a certain pandemic, faster boot times matter.

Broadcom also claims data warehousing runtimes may improve by 87 per cent, and that the combo of 64G Fibre Channel and PCIe 4.0 will make your PCIe-3.0-packing servers look very lame and slow indeed.

Broadcom is not alone in the 64G Fibre Channel market. Cisco is also dabbling, having released a multi-speed Fibre Channel Switching Module along with other backwards-compatible gen 7 tech.

And now maybe you can, too, if the siren song of much faster recent updates to Ethernet don’t appeal or apply. And to those still using Infiniband, we salute you. ®

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Source: https://go.theregister.com/feed/www.theregister.com/2021/05/12/broadcom_fibre_channel_hba/

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Salesforce fell over so hard today, it took out its own server status page

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Salesforce is digging itself out of a multi-hour outage right now that it has blamed on a DNS issue.

At one point today, the IT breakdown was so severe that its status page was pretty much inaccessible for netizens, and staff resorted to posting updates on their help and training sub-site.

“Salesforce is experiencing a major disruption due to what we believe is a DNS issue causing our service to be inaccessible,” CTO Parker Harris said in a statement. “We recognize the significant impact on our customers and are actively working on resolution.

“We believe we have isolated the issue and are in the process of bringing affected services back online. Customers may continue to experience issues as we work through remediation. This remains a top priority for Salesforce.”

The downtime started shortly before 2200 UTC (1500 PT), knocked pretty much the entire software-as-a-service giant offline, and right now, everything is not yet back to normal. Though products have been restored, we’re told, customers can’t login if they are using multi-factor authentication.

“At 2146 UTC on May 11, 2021, the Salesforce technology team became aware of an issue impacting multiple Salesforce services,” the CRM goliath noted on its status page.

“Customers will experience issues while navigating the Core application, Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud, and Experience Cloud (formerly known as Communities).

“The issue is also impacting the Salesforce Trust site as the status.salesforce.com page is only intermittently accessible.”

About half an hour ago, the biz added:

Just as we were going to press, Parker tweeted: “Services are significantly restored though we are still not out of impact.” ®

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Source: https://go.theregister.com/feed/www.theregister.com/2021/05/12/salesforce_outage_dns_issue/

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Microsoft reassures Teams freebie fans: We’re not going to delete all your data, honest

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Microsoft has had its very own Who, Me? moment after being forced to apologise for a bug that spammed administrators of Teams Free organisations to suggest they should upgrade to avoid imminent deletion of data.

The oopsie actually occurred in April (although a full explanation was not shared until last night) and resulted in users of the company’s freebie version of Teams receiving an email warning that their trial was coming to an end. If a new subscription was not swiftly acquired then users would lose access to their data after around 30 days. Administrators would subsequently have 90 days to upgrade or face permanent deletion.

Understandably, customers were left a little baffled. After all, Teams has a Free tier and a bunch of Frequently Asked Questions includes hits such as “Is Microsoft Teams really free?” (answer: “Yes!”) and “Will my account my expire?” (answer: “No, your account will not expire.”)

Users found similar warnings in Microsoft’s administration portal and reported worrying rumblings from official support orifices that Teams Free was merely a test version and would expire.

Not so! Sam Cosby, a “Customer Experience & Obsession Product Manager” for Teams at Microsoft, waded into the fray last night to admit that an attempt to clear up unused Teams Free accounts that had sat dormant for 90 days (plus a 30-day grace period) did not go entirely to plan.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “there was a bug that sent out notification emails to Teams Free Admins even if their organization was in use during the past 90 days.”

In responses to worried users, Crosby admitted the bug was on the licensing side. Those concerned about end dates would get an automatic extension “and won’t have to worry about any data loss.”

Far be it from us to highlight some decidedly dubious quality control and communication practices at work within the halls of Redmond, but the incident is a reminder for anyone surfing Microsoft’s wave of freebies that the Windows giant can taketh away as easily as it giveth.

All it takes is a typo and a tester more interested in a Solitaire high score. ®

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Source: https://go.theregister.com/feed/www.theregister.com/2021/05/05/teams_bug/

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