April 21, 2021
Welcome to the seventh edition of the Azure World Newsletter in 2021. Thanks so much for subscribing.
It’s been fairly quiet in the Microsoft Azure world. I haven’t seen too many announcements from the company. But on the bright side, it’s been a stable couple of weeks on the platform with no high-profile outages. Hopefully, this signals a new period of stability.
Now on to the newsletter! As always, if you don’t want to receive this anymore, there’s an unsubscribe link at the bottom. No worries!
Perhaps the biggest announcement of the past couple of weeks is that Microsoft has signed a deal to acquire the company Nuance for $19.7 billion. Now on the surface, this might seem to be an ordinary acquisition. But some people are pointing out that this points to a bigger strategy around AI.
$19.7 billion is a lot of money. For context, Microsoft paid $26 billion for LinkedIn several years ago, so this acquisition rivals that in size.
Nuance sells software under the brand Dragon and is popular dictation software in the healthcare space. Their dictation software is the most advanced voice recognition and transcription solution, as they basically invented the technology more than 20 years ago. They’ve been singularly focused on improving dictation since then.
Nuance’s AI solutions are currently used by more than 55% of physicians and 75% of radiologists in the U.S. and used in 77% of U.S. hospitals. So they absolutely dominate the healthcare space.
Some see this as a wider move into “enterprise AI”. While other companies focus on the consumer, Microsoft is making plays to be the preferred AI provider in large industries like healthcare.
The Supreme Court recently delivered a fairly important ruling on copyright relating to the use of Java in the Android Operating System. Android no longer runs on Java, but the ruling is still important to all of us.
The ruling limits the ability of companies (in this case Java) to demand payment for creating “compatible APIs” even without copying the underlying code.
This case has been winding its way through the court system for 10 years. In my view, the right decision was finally made.
The early developers of the Android operating system (first Android Inc and then Google) needed to provide a way for application developers to develop Android apps. They wanted to use Java as the programming language, and they asked Sun Microsystems at the time if they could. Sun apparently set a reasonable fee, but also wanted some form of control over Android along with the deal. They were not able to come to a deal on that.
So Google decided to create their own virtual machine called Dalvik, which was a clean-room implementation of Java. That is, they developed a compatible version without access to the underlying source code. (Um, mostly. There was one function copied line for line.) This should have meant that they were free of being accused of copying Java.
It seemed like everyone was happy. Sun congratulated Android and saw this as a victory for the Java ecosystem.
But a few years later, Oracle acquired Sun and they came with a different perspective. They saw the clean-room implementation as a copyright violation. And they wanted billions in damages.
Judge William Alsup first took the case in 2010 and became a legend in the process. He taught himself Java and programmed a few things on his own. Thus he decided that some of the copied lines of code were no big deal since even he could write such a basic function. Legend.
Oracle was basically claiming that the API definition itself was copyrighted. The function names and method signatures. No one could ever create their own “compatible” version of Java if Oracle got its way.
Luckily, the Supreme Court decided that the interest of progress overrode the interests of a single company trying to prevent progress. Copying API function signatures are fair use.
From time to time, students ask me for advice in landing a job.
Landing a job involves:
- Developing skills that are in demand in the marketplace
- Crafting a resume that highlights those in the right way, to get past the first gatekeeper
- Impressing the person (or people) who makes the hiring decision in an interview
I put some thoughts together on the last point (interview skills) in a new blog post.
It might sound unfair, but you can be highly skilled and still find it hard to find a job. This is because the people who are hiring are often looking for “the right team fit”. Basically, they need to like you after meeting you for the first time. And so, as well as mastering technology skills, you should also work on some social skills that will help you land a job.
My opinion is that, in general, if people like you after meeting you for the first time, you’ll go farther in life. And if you find it hard to meet new people, and have had the experience of someone not liking you at first but eventually liking you much later, this does not have to be this way. Charisma is a skill that can be learned. And, if you learn it, you can turn it on when you need it like during a job interview.
Incidentally, having good social skills will help you land jobs even when you don’t have the skillset. I can recall way back in 1995, I landed my very first job as a consultant but did not have direct experience in any of the technology the client was looking for. I learned quickly and did a great job for that client.
So check out my blog post for some tips on how to make a good impression during a job interview.
AZURE PLATFORM UPDATES.
A very, very quiet couple of weeks in terms of new Azure updates and features, but maybe something important has been announced that affects you.
- Public preview: Start VM on connect feature for Windows Virtual Desktop
- Azure Blob storage supports objects up to 200 TB in size
- Azure Maps Weather Services are now generally available
- Azure API Management support for Availability Zones now generally available
- Public preview: Microsoft Build of OpenJDK
- Cognitive Services – New Computer Vision API v3.2 now generally available
- Open-source API Portal now generally available
Be sure and check out the Azure Updates page if any of these affect you.
COMING UP FOR ME.
Continue to enjoy the improving weather. And continue to create new courses and content to help students learn Azure.
- My course for DP-100 Azure Data Scientist has been live for a couple of weeks, and is getting great reviews! There’s still time to pick it up if you’re interested in machine learning in Azure: https://www.udemy.com/course/dp100-azure/?couponCode=APR2021
- I had another blog article go live on Udemy’s website. It’s called “How to Pass the AZ-104 Exam”. If you’re interested, here’s the link to that: https://blog.udemy.com/azure-administrator-az-104/
- The next course I am working on, which is turning out great, is AI-102 Designing and Implementing a Microsoft Azure AI Solution. Taking a slightly different approach with this course. It’s going to contain a lot of code and code examples. If you enjoy coding and want to play with Azure Cognitive Services, this course will be right up your alley.
WHERE TO FIND ME.
And that’s it for issue 2.7. Thanks for reading this far.
What is your favorite platform to be on? Perhaps we can connect there.
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