All posts by Lee Bell

Microsoft still won’t hand over private email data to the US

Lee Bell

1 Mar, 2018

Microsoft still won’t hand over private email data to the US that sits at the focus of a long-running court case with the US government.

The case, which has been ongoing since 2013, revolves around information related to a US criminal case that’s held in Microsoft’s Dublin data centre. Despite the fact the data resides in the Republic of Ireland, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has demanded the company hand it over, as it’s an American entity. The suspects in the case are also believed to be American.

In January 2017, a US appeals court rejected a government appeal to rethink its denial of the attempts to get Microsoft to hand over the email, which has something to do with a drug trafficking prosecution.

The EU intervened in the case in December to ensure the US Department of Justice (DoJ) understands European data laws. The EU claimed that because the data would have to be moved from Europe to the US, it would come under EU data protection laws.

At the time, the European Commission submitted an amicus brief – information filed by non-litigants to give the court a better understanding of a matter – to help it make a decision about whether the data should be handed over or not.

This week, however, liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg wondered why Congress isn’t regulating “this brave new world” of cloud storage, rather than expecting the nation’s top court to interpret the legality of a warrant obtained under the dusty old 1986 Stored Communications Act.

“[In 1986,] no one ever heard of clouds. This kind of storage didn’t exist… If Congress takes a look at this, realising that much time and… innovation has occurred since 1986, it can write a statute that takes account of various interests,” said Justice Ginsburg in an oral argument filling.   

“Wouldn’t it be wiser to say, ‘Let’s leave things as they are. If Congress wants to regulate this ‘brave new world’ let them do it’?”

Microsoft’s lawyer, E. Joshua Rosenkranz, retorted: “If people want to break the law and put their emails outside the reach of the US government, they simply wouldn’t use Microsoft.”

Colt: Vendors have a moral duty to run green data centres

Lee Bell

28 Feb, 2018

Hybrid cloud company Colt Data Centres today announced a big push into renewable energy by opting to run its European data centres on power generated from renewable sources.

While the option isn’t available on all of its data centre sites, nine of the company’s 17 European facilities now run exclusively on renewable energy, and Colt plans to make the others renewable when possible – though this isn’t always the case.

In France, for example, the country’s reliance on nuclear power and an energy generation shortfall makes it impossible for any data centre provider to guarantee 100% renewable power, Colt claimed, althought it does hope that planned developments for renewable energy will make up the shortfall by 2023.

“The global technology industry needs to face up to its global responsibilities, not least in the area of energy usage,” said Colt CEO, Detlef Spang. “So far, most ‘green’ regulations are voluntary – such as the European Commission’s voluntary code of conduct for energy efficiency in data centres.”

He added that the firm believes that the cloud and data centre industry has “a moral and ethical duty” to go far beyond the minimum requirements for sustainability, and to deploy techniques and new infrastructure technology that “will have a major and measurable effect on the resources we use”.

This will require a lot of investment, Spang said, but by adopting the latest technologies and best practices, he believes it will be possible to deliver lower lifetime costs for its customers while ensuring “the smallest possible ecological footprint” in its territories where the company operates around the world.

“Colt’s internal design team have embarked on a project to look at all forms of green energy to see how they will best [fit] into data centre designs going forward to ensure we are minimise the impact of Colt data centres to the environment,” he added.

The announcement is part of a wider campaign by Colt to reduce the environmental impact of its worldwide network of data centres, which has also looked to kick off a strong drive internally to reduce CO2 emissions, optimising power usage effectiveness, and adopting new cooling technologies across its facilities to optimise the performance of their data centres.


Apple confirms iCloud is now a customer of Google Cloud

Lee Bell

27 Feb, 2018

Apple is relying on Google’s public cloud to provide data storage for its own iCloud servers, according to a file that Apple recently updated on its website.

The proof that Apple is a customer of Google was spotted by CNBC and comes after it was widely reported by various media outlets that Google Cloud Platform (GCP) won a deal to host Apple’s iCloud in 2016, but the Cupertino firm never confirmed those reports.

The file comes in the form of a PDF called the iOS Security Guide, which Apple publishes new versions of periodically. Up until recently, the document contained language that suggested iCloud services were based on remote data storage systems from Amazon Web Services (AWS), as well as Microsoft’s Azure.

But in the most recent version of the PDF, the Microsoft Azure reference has disappeared and has been replaced by Google Cloud Platform. However, the most recent version of the PDF doesn’t clearly state whether Apple will be using any Google cloud services other than core storage of “objects” like photos and videos. It’s also not clear when exactly Apple begun using Google’s cloud.

The confirmation that Apple is using Google’s cloud to support its iCloud services suggests the firm is starting to break ground in catching up to its competition such as AWS and Microsoft. It also comes merely weeks after it was revealed Google could be set to enter the video game industry by launching its own subscription-based game streaming service.

The cloud giant will reportedly offer the service through its Chromecast streaming stick or even a proprietary console, with the project – codenamed ‘Yeti’ – in the works for around two years.

Yeti will apparently operate similarly to Sony’s video streaming Playstation Now service. Users will be able to stream games through cloud servers via a Google console with its own controller. Rather than requiring hard copies, users would simply have to subscribe to access the streaming games through Google’s cloud servers.

Picture: Shutterstock