Big Blue is a nickname used since the 1980s for the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). The moniker may have arisen from the blue tint of its early computer displays, or from the deep blue color of its corporate logo.
Big Blue arose in the early 1980s in the popular and financial press as a nickname for IBM. The name has unclear specific origins, but is generally assumed to refer to the blue tint of the cases of its computers.
The nickname was embraced by IBM, which has been content with leaving its origins in obscurity and has named many of its projects in homage of the nickname. For example, Deep Blue, IBM’s chess-playing computer, challenged and ultimately defeated grandmaster Garry Kasparov in a controversial 1997 tournament.
The first known print reference to the Big Blue nickname appeared in the June 8, 1981, edition of Businessweek magazine, and is attributed to an anonymous IBM enthusiast.
“No company in the computer business inspires the loyalty that IBM does, and the company has accomplished this with its almost legendary customer service and support … As a result, it is not uncommon for customers to refuse to buy equipment not made by IBM, even though it is often cheaper. ‘I don't want to be saying I should have stuck with the “Big Blue,”’ says one IBM loyalist. ‘The nickname comes from the pervasiveness of IBM's blue computers.’”
Other speculators have also associated the Big Blue nickname with the company’s logo and its one-time dress code, as well as IBM’s historical association with blue-chip stocks.
IBM began in 1911 as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) in Endicott, NY. CTR was a holding company created by Charles R. Flint that amalgamated three companies that together produced scales, punch-card data processors, employee time clocks, and meat slicers. In 1924, CTR was renamed International Business Machines.
In the following century, IBM would go on to become one of the world’s top technological leaders, developing, inventing, and building hundreds of hardware and software information technologies. IBM is responsible for many inventions that quickly became commonplace, including the UPC barcode, the magnetic stripe card, the personal computer, the floppy disk, the hard disk drive, and the ATM.
IBM technologies were crucial to the implementation of U.S. government initiatives such as the launch of the Social Security Act in 1935 and many NASA missions, from the 1963 Mercury flight to the 1969 moon landing and beyond.
IBM holds the most U.S. patents of any business and, to date, IBM employees have been awarded many notable titles, including five Nobel Prizes and six Turing Awards.
One of the first multinational conglomerates to emerge in U.S. history, IBM maintains a multinational presence, operating in 175 countries worldwide and employing some 350,000 employees globally.
IBM has underperformed the broader S&P 500 index and Nasdaq-100 index. Significant divergence began in 1985 when the Nasdaq-100 and S&P 500 moved higher while IBM was mostly flat or lower until 1997. Since then it has continued to lose ground, especially when compared to the Nasdaq-100 index.
The underperformance in the stock price between 1985 and 2019 is underscored by the firm's financial performance. Between 2005 and 2012, net income generally rose, but at less than 12% per year on average. Between 2012 and 2017, net income fell by 65% over the time period, before recovering in 2018 and 2019. In 2019, though, net income was still about 43% lower than it was in 2012.
After a lot of speculation, promises, and demonstrations, IBM has formally announced it will be entering the healthcare market with its Watson supercomputer. The company has announced a series of partnerships -- including ones with Apple, Johnson & Johnson, and major medical device manufacturer Medtronic that will allow it to establish the Watson Health Cloud, a Big Data healthcare platform that will offer insights at all levels to everyone from engineers and researchers to doctors and insurers.
IBM estimates that with the increasing prevalence of fitness trackers, connected medical devices, implants, and embedded sensors, the average patient-consumer will generate over one million gigabytes of health-related data in their lifetime. "All this data can be overwhelming for providers and patients alike, but it also presents an unprecedented opportunity to transform the ways in which we manage our health," John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president, solutions portfolio and research, said in a press release.
Rather than attacking healthcare from the hardware end as new entrants into the field like Apple, Google, and Intel are attempting to do, IBM wants to use Watson to augment existing devices and provide insights for companies looking to Excellerate future iterations of their devices.
Earlier this year Apple announced it is expanding its healthcare efforts beyond its HealthKit family of apps, and released ResearchKit, designed to collect medical data from iPhones and other Apple devices that can then be accessed by medical researchers when users opt-in. With its new partnership, IBM will provide a HIPAA-compliant cloud storage platform and analytics done via Watson for health data collected through Apple iOS devices.
MORE FROM DESIGN NEWS: Apple Launching Medical Research Platform, Apple Watch, and New Fanless MacBook
IBM will also be collaborating with Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic to collect and analyze data collected from various medical devices using Watson's cognitive computing abilities. Areas of interest include pre- and postoperative patient care, glucose monitoring for diabetes, and creating personalized devices for patients.
This latest development from IBM comes as an offshoot of the company's earlier Watson Developers Cloud program in which app developers where invited to create applications that utilize Watson via the cloud. Early entrants into the program created Watson apps for managing supply chain purchases, assisting with online shopping, and helping users manage their diet and activity.
MORE FROM DESIGN NEWS: IBM's Watson Is a True Computing Star
Last year at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2014 IBM also demonstrated Watson's usefulness as a diagnostic aid with a function called Watson Debater. In the live demonstration Watson was able to form pro and con arguments to a debate question by drawing from a series of Wikipedia articles. Kelly pointed out the same technology behind Watson Debater could enable the computer to assist doctors with diagnoses by drawing on information from medical texts, journals, and information provided by caregivers.
In conjunction with this new announcement around Watson, IBM will also be opening new headquarters in Boston and expanding its Watson presence in New York City -- employing at least 2000 consultants, medical practitioners, clinicians, developers, and researchers to design, develop, and accelerate the adoption of Watson Health capabilities.
Chris Wiltz is the Managing Editor of Design News
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A month after the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) revealed the first quantum-safe algorithms, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and IBM have swiftly moved forward. Google was also quick to outline an aggressive implementation plan for its cloud service that it started a decade ago.
It helps that IBM researchers contributed to three of the four algorithms, while AWS had a hand in one. Google is also among those who contributed to SPHINCS+.
A long process that started in 2016 with 69 original candidates ends with the selection of four algorithms that will become NIST standards, which will play a critical role in protecting encrypted data from the vast power of quantum computers.
NIST's four choices include CRYSTALS-Kyber, a public-private key-encapsulation mechanism (KEM) for general asymmetric encryption, such as when connecting websites. For digital signatures, NIST selected CRYSTALS-Dilithium, FALCON, and SPHINCS+. NIST will add a few more algorithms to the mix in two years.
Vadim Lyubashevsky, a cryptographer who works in IBM's Zurich Research Laboratories, contributed to the development of CRYSTALS-Kyber, CRYSTALS-Dilithium, and Falcon. Lyubashevsky was predictably pleased by the algorithms selected, but he had only anticipated NIST would pick two digital signature candidates rather than three.
Ideally, NIST would have chosen a second key establishment algorithm, according to Lyubashevsky. "They could have chosen one more right away just to be safe," he told Dark Reading. "I think some people expected McEliece to be chosen, but maybe NIST decided to hold off for two years to see what the backup should be to Kyber."
After NIST identified the algorithms, IBM moved forward by specifying them into its recently launched z16 mainframe. IBM introduced the z16 in April, calling it the "first quantum-safe system," enabled by its new Crypto Express 8S card and APIs that provide access to the NIST APIs.
IBM was championing three of the algorithms that NIST selected, so IBM had already included them in the z16. Since IBM had unveiled the z16 before the NIST decision, the company implemented the algorithms into the new system. IBM last week made it official that the z16 supports the algorithms.
Anne Dames, an IBM distinguished engineer who works on the company's z Systems team, explained that the Crypto Express 8S card could implement various cryptographic algorithms. Nevertheless, IBM was betting on CRYSTAL-Kyber and Dilithium, according to Dames.
"We are very fortunate in that it went in the direction we hoped it would go," she told Dark Reading. "And because we chose to implement CRYSTALS-Kyber and CRYSTALS-Dilithium in the hardware security module, which allows clients to get access to it, the firmware in that hardware security module can be updated. So, if other algorithms were selected, then we would add them to our roadmap for inclusion of those algorithms for the future."
A software library on the system allows application and infrastructure developers to incorporate APIs so that clients can generate quantum-safe digital signatures for both classic computing systems and quantum computers.
"We also have a CRYSTALS-Kyber interface in place so that we can generate a key and provide it wrapped by a Kyber key so that could be used in a potential key exchange scheme," Dames said. "And we've also incorporated some APIs that allow clients to have a key exchange scheme between two parties."
Dames noted that clients might use Dilithium to generate digital signatures on documents. "Think about code signing servers, things like that, or documents signing services, where people would like to actually use the digital signature capability to ensure the authenticity of the document or of the code that's being used," she said.
During Amazon's AWS re:Inforce security conference last week in Boston, the cloud provider emphasized its post-quantum cryptography (PQC) efforts. According to Margaret Salter, director of applied cryptography at AWS, Amazon is already engineering the NIST standards into its services.
During a breakout session on AWS' cryptography efforts at the conference, Salter said AWS had implemented an open source, hybrid post-quantum key exchange based on a specification called s2n-tls, which implements the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol across different AWS services. AWS has contributed it as a draft standard to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
Salter explained that the hybrid key exchange brings together its traditional key exchanges while enabling post-quantum security. "We have regular key exchanges that we've been using for years and years to protect data," she said. "We don't want to get rid of those; we're just going to enhance them by adding a public key exchange on top of it. And using both of those, you have traditional security, plus post quantum security."
Last week, Amazon announced that it deployed s2n-tls, the hybrid post-quantum TLS with CRYSTALS-Kyber, which connects to the AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) and AWS Certificate Manager (ACM). In an update this week, Amazon documented its stated support for AWS Secrets Manager, a service for managing, rotating, and retrieving database credentials and API keys.
While Google didn't make implementation announcements like AWS in the immediate aftermath of NIST's selection, VP and CISO Phil Venables said Google has been focused on PQC algorithms "beyond theoretical implementations" for over a decade. Venables was among several prominent researchers who co-authored a technical paper outlining the urgency of adopting PQC strategies. The peer-reviewed paper was published in May by Nature, a respected journal for the science and technology communities.
"At Google, we're well into a multi-year effort to migrate to post-quantum cryptography that is designed to address both immediate and long-term risks to protect sensitive information," Venables wrote in a blog post published following the NIST announcement. "We have one goal: ensure that Google is PQC ready."
Venables recalled an experiment in 2016 with Chrome where a minimal number of connections from the Web browser to Google servers used a post-quantum key-exchange algorithm alongside the existing elliptic-curve key-exchange algorithm. "By adding a post-quantum algorithm in a hybrid mode with the existing key exchange, we were able to test its implementation without affecting user security," Venables noted.
Google and Cloudflare announced a "wide-scale post-quantum experiment" in 2019 implementing two post-quantum key exchanges, "integrated into Cloudflare's TLS stack, and deployed the implementation on edge servers and in Chrome Canary clients." The experiment helped Google understand the implications of deploying two post-quantum key agreements with TLS.
Venables noted that last year Google tested post-quantum confidentiality in TLS and found that various network products were not compatible with post-quantum TLS. "We were able to work with the vendor so that the issue was fixed in future firmware updates," he said. "By experimenting early, we resolved this issue for future deployments."
The four algorithms NIST announced are an important milestone in advancing PQC, but there's other work to be done besides quantum-safe encryption. The AWS TLS submission to the IETF is one example; others include such efforts as Hybrid PQ VPN.
"What you will see happening is those organizations that work on TLS protocols, or SSH, or VPN type protocols, will now come together and put together proposals which they will evaluate in their communities to determine what's best and which protocols should be updated, how the certificates should be defined, and things like things like that," IBM's Dames said.
Dustin Moody, a mathematician at NIST who leads its PQC project, shared a similar view during a panel discussion at the RSA Conference in June. "There's been a lot of global cooperation with our NIST process, rather than fracturing of the effort and coming up with a lot of different algorithms," Moody said. "We've seen most countries and standards organizations waiting to see what comes out of our nice progress on this process, as well as participating in that. And we see that as a very good sign."
Red Hat Inc. sprang a surprise today as it announced that Matt Hicks has been promoted to be its new president and chief executive officer, effective immediately.
Hicks (pictured) takes the reins from current president and CEO Paul Cormier, who has moved upstairs to become the open-source software provider’s new chairman.
Red Hat is a subsidiary of IBM Corp. and seen as one of the pioneers of open-source software. Its flagship product is the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system, which is widely used to power thousands of enterprise data centers around the world. The company also sells tools around virtualization, software containers, middleware and various other applications. It was acquired by IBM in 2019 for $34 billion.
IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said Red Hat serves as the foundation of thousands of enterprises’ technology strategies thanks to its open-source, hybrid cloud capabilities. “Matt’s deep experience and technical knowledge of Red Hat’s entire portfolio makes him the ideal leader as Red Hat continues to grow and develop innovative, industry-leading software,” he said.
During IBM’s most recent quarterly earnings report, the company called out Red Hat as a key and growing revenue driver. Red Hat’s sales jumped 21% in the quarter from one year prior. IBM said it’s well-positioned to enjoy further growth too, having recently forged a partnership with Nvidia Corp. that will see it create new, artificial intelligence-powered applications that span data centers, clouds and the network edge.
Incoming chief Hicks joined the company back in 2006 as a software developer on one of its information technology teams. He became a key member of the engineering team that created Red Hat OpenShift, the company’s Kubernetes platform, helping expand that offering to cover multiple clouds and other environments.
Hicks has also helped the company to deliver new managed cloud offerings, AI capabilities and cloud-native applications. His importance to the company was on show during the most recent Red Hat Summit in May, where he delivered part of its keynote address.
During that event, Hicks stopped by theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s mobile livestreaming studio, where he discussed how the company’s commitment to open-source software helps to drive innovation:
“There has never been a more exciting time to be in our industry and the opportunity in front of Red Hat is vast,” Hicks said in a statement today. ”I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and prove that open source technology truly can unlock the world’s potential.”
Reaction to the news from industry analysts was positive. Charles King of Pund-IT Inc. told SiliconANGLE that Hicks is an interesting if somewhat predictable choice as Red Hat’s next CEO, given that he has both experience and credibility in terms of engineering leadership and commercial product development.
“The fact he’s a longtime Red Hat management figure is an important point, since it suggests that the company is looking to continue its stable progress and evolution,” King added. “That’s further emphasized by Cormier’s elevation to the chairman role. Overall, Red Hat appears to be in a good place individually and also in its collaboration with IBM.”
Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. said IBM needed to get its choice of CEO right, because it’s betting the farm on the future success of Red Hat’s software offerings.
“Luckily, Red Hat appears to be in good hands with Hicks, who has been steering both product and platform with a good track record,” Mueller said. “This could signal the beginning of a change at Red Hat, where it evolves to become more of a research and development subsidiary than a full-fledged auxiliary with its own go-to-market strategy.”
Cormier had sat in the CEO hot seat since 2020, having taken over from predecessor Jim Whitehurst, who became chairman of IBM after Red Hat was acquired. In his new role, he will work on scaling up the company, expanding customer adoption, and mergers and acquisitions, IBM said. In a statement, Cormier said Hicks is “absolutely the right person” to serve as Red Hat’s next CEO, noting how his experience across different parts of the business has given him the depth and breadth of knowledge to remain a hybrid cloud leader.
“He understands our product strategy and the direction the industry is moving in a way that’s second to none,” Cormier said. “As chairman, I’m excited to get to work with our customers, partners and Matt in new ways.”
In the rush to build, test and deploy AI systems, businesses often lack the resources and time to fully validate their systems and ensure they're bug-free. In a 2018 report, Gartner predicted that 85% of AI projects will deliver erroneous outcomes due to bias in data, algorithms or the teams responsible for managing them. Even Big Tech companies aren't immune to the pitfalls — for one client, IBM ultimately failed to deliver an AI-powered cancer diagnostics system that wound up costing $62 million over 4 years.
Inspired by "bug bounty" programs, Jeong-Suh Choi and Soohyun Bae founded Bobidi, a platform aimed at helping companies validate their AI systems by exposing the systems to the global data science community. With Bobidi, Bae and Choi sought to build a product that lets customers connect AI systems with the bug-hunting community in a "secure" way, via an API.
The idea is to let developers test AI systems and biases — that is, the edge cases where the systems perform poorly — to reduce the time needed for validation, Choi explained in an email interview. Bae was previously a senior engineer at Google and led augmented reality mapping at Niantic, while Choi was a senior manager at eBay and headed the "people engineering" team at Facebook. The two met at a tech industry function about 10 years ago.
"By the time bias or flaws are revealed from the model, the damage is already irrevocable," Choi said. "For example, natural language processing algorithms [like OpenAI's GPT-3] are often found to be making problematic comments, or mis-responding to those comments, related to hate speech, discrimination, and insults. Using Bobidi, the community can 'pre-test' the algorithm and find those loopholes, which is actually very powerful as you can test the algorithm with a lot of people under certain conditions that represent social and political contexts that change constantly."
To test models, the Bobidi "community" of developers builds a validation dataset for a given system. As developers attempt to find loopholes in the system, customers get an analysis that includes patterns of false negatives and positives and the metadata associated with them (e.g., the number of edge cases).
Exposing sensitive systems and models to the outside world might deliver some companies pause, but Choi asserts that Bobidi "auto-expires" models after a certain number of days so that they can't be reverse-engineered. Customers pay for service based on the number of "legit" attempts made by the community, which works out to a dollar ($0.99) per 10 attempts.
Choi notes that the amount of money developers can make through Bobidi — $10 to $20 per hour — is substantially above the minimum wage in many regions around the world. Assuming Choi's estimations are rooted in fact, Bobidi bucks the trend in the data science industry, which tends to pay data validators and labelers poorly. The annotators of the widely used ImageNet computer vision dataset made a median wage of $2 per hour, one study found, with only 4% making more than $7.25 per hour.
Pay structure aside, crowd-powered validation isn't a new idea. In 2017, the Computational Linguistics and Information Processing Laboratory at the University of Maryland launched a platform called Break It, Build It that let researchers submit models to users tasked with coming up with examples to defeat them. Elsewhere, Meta maintains a platform called Dynabench that has users "fool" models designed to analyze sentiment, answer questions, detect hate speech and more.
But Bae and Choi believe the "gamified" approach will help Bobidi stand out from the pack. While it's early days, the vendor claims to have customers in augmented reality and computer vision startups, including Seerslab, Deepixel and Gunsens.
The traction was enough to convince several investors to pledge money toward the venture. Today, Bobidi closed a $5.5 million seed round with participation from Y Combinator, We Ventures, Hyundai Motor Group, Scrum Ventures, New Product Experimentation (NPE) at Meta, Lotte Ventures, Atlas Pac Capital and several undisclosed angel investors.
Of note, Bobidi is among the first investments for NPE, which shifted gears last year from building consumer-facing apps to making seed-stage investments in AI-focused startups. When contacted for comment, head of NPE investments Sunita Parasuraman said via email: "We're thrilled to back the talented founders of Bobidi, who are helping companies better validate AI models with an innovative solution driven by people around the globe."
"Bobidi is a mashup between community and AI, a unique combination of expertise that we share," Choi added. "We believe that the era of big data is ending and we're about to enter the new era of quality data. It means we are moving from the era — where the focus was to build the best model given with the datasets — to the new era, where people are tasked to find the best dataset given with the model-complete opposite approach."
Choi said that the proceeds from the seed round will be put toward hiring — Bobidi currently has 12 employees — and building "customer insights experiences" and various "core machine learning technologies." The company hopes to triple the size of its team by the end of the year despite economic headwinds.
ShiftLeft Educate provides security training for developers right in their developer workflow. It provides contextual training for different skill levels.
Key features include analytics, the ability to select appropriate training resources based on language and vulnerability type, and interactive videos, real world examples, and mitigation information from Kontra.
There is also a paid version of ShiftLeft Educate, which allows customers to roll out, assign, and track completion of training.
The sixth preview of .NET 6 is now available. According to Microsoft, this is a small release, and the next preview will be much bigger. New features include three new workload commands for discovery and management, TLS support for System.DirectorServices.Protocols, improved sync-over-async performance, and more.
.NET 6 Preview 6 has been tested for and supports Visual Studio 2022 Preview 2, which will allow developers to use new tools in Visual Studio, such as .NET MAUI, Hot Reload for C# apps, and the new Web Live Preview for WebForms.
More information is available here.
According to IBM, Bluetab will become a part of the company’s data services consulting practice. This will help further advance its hybrid cloud and AI strategy.
“The outside-in digital transformation of the past is giving way to the inside-out potential of using company-owned data with AI and automation to generate business value and create intelligent workflows,” said Mark Foster, senior vice president of IBM Services and Global Business Services. “Our acquisition of Bluetab will fuel migration to the cloud and help our clients to realize even more value from their mission-critical data.”