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Gartner says New Zealand technology spending will be $11.8 billion in 2017. That’s up 2.7 percent from 2016. It’s also a lot higher than last year’s forward looking forecast from Gartner. The total spend is forecast to pass $12 billion in 2018.

Communications services is the top technology category in New Zealand. Customers will spend a total of NZ$4.4 billion this year.The category includes consumer fixed and mobile voice and data services, enterprise fixed and mobile voice and data services. It may be the biggest sector, but shows next to no growth.

Gartner expects software to be the star performer over the next year, with IT services also showing respectable growth. Sales of devices and data centre systems will be flat.

Australians spend more however you cut it

New Zealand’s numbers compare with a total IT spend of A$83 billion in Australia, almost eight times the amount spent here. Australia’s communications services sector is around six times the size of New Zealand’s at A$26.8 billion.

Gartner expects both New Zealand and Australia to increase spending in the next year by more than the worldwide 2.4 percent forecast.

IT Spending Forecast Q2 2017

In part the difference between Australia and New Zealand can be put down to population size. Yet there’s more to the numbers than how many people live in each country. New Zealand’s spend amounts to around NZ$2,500 per person, while Australia’s is almost A$3,500.

One possible explaination for some of the difference is that some Australian IT companies wrap New Zealand revenue into local income. And there’s a tendency on the other side of the Tasman to gold-plate projects. Yet you can’t escape from thinking Australians appear more willing to invest in technology.

New Zealand: IT Spending Forecast (Millions of NZ$)

Segment 2016 2017 2018
Devices     1,659     1,734     1,724
Data Centre Systems         344         342         347
Software     1,363     1,499     1,647
IT Services     3,764     3,840     3,920
Communications Services     4,355     4,383     4,437
 
Grand Total   11,484   11,798   12,074

 

Frances Coppola writes about financial bubbles. She says the market for crypto-currencies shares characteristics with earlier bubbles like Dutch tulips and dotcom stocks. Which means a crash is underway. That’s not just Bitcoin, but all of the crypto-currencies.

The remarkable aspect of this is that everyone couldn’t see it coming. As Coppola points out some investors still don’t accept the likelihood of a crash.

It will be interesting to see what remains after things settle down. The idea of a blockchain isn’t going away, but the, at times irrational, enthusiasm  for crypto-currency could be coming to an end.

Microsoft is cutting ‘several thousand’ employees, mostly in its sales organization, following a reorganization earlier this week.

Source: Microsoft to lay off ‘several thousand’ employees | ZDNet

Mary Jo Foley writes:

“One source close to the company said Microsoft would be cutting “several thousands” of employees. CNBC said Microsoft would be shedding up to 3,000 employees, but didn’t cite the source of that number.”

Microsoft has been here before. The company cut around 10 percent of its staff in 2014. That was mainly to do with the failed Nokia devices acquisition.

If the 3,000 number is correct, that’s around 2.5 percent of the employee total.

Sure, it’s a smaller number, but there’s a danger Microsoft is in a place where it has continuing rounds of redundancies. If you want to know how that story ends, look at IBM. The company never recovered once it started making big cuts to its staff numbers.

Cuts are not good for company moral. Employees constant wonder who is next. They become cautious, take fewer risks, play only the safest bets. This kills innovation culture.

Stressed survivours

Those left behind are often stressed. The more employable workers evaluate their prospects. Often, in technology companies the best, most valued employees — even the ones left after a round of cuts — decide they may be better off elsewhere anyway.

IBM’s cuts became a destructive vicious cycle that, eventually, undermined the company’s ability to innovate and serve its customers. They may have unleashed short-term value to shareholders, but the board ended up killing the golden goose.

Microsoft is not yet at that point. This is a trimming exercise. Most of the jobs that will go are in sales and the company is in transition to a new model where it will emphasis its Azure cloud computing over traditional product lines.

Yet, the jobs-cut-easy-fix can become an addictive and damaging habit. If it happens again in the next year or two, you can take it as read Microsoft is doomed to irrelevance.

The cloud only holds a fifth of the enterprise workload, which means there is time for the enterprise to decide the risks are not worth the rewards.

Source: When the Cloud Becomes Just Normal Infrastructure

After ten years of writing about Cloud Computing, it’s easy to lose sight of how far the technology still has to go. And as Arthur Cole points out in the linked story, cloud native applications are only 15 percent of the total. The number is likely to be higher in New Zealand, but all the same, the cloud is still smaller than we sometimes think.

 

NotPetya

Victims of the NotPetya ransomware attack can’t get at their own computer data even if they pay the ransom.

NotPetya is an attack on a grand scale causing a huge amount of disruption. Many victims are large companies in Europe. It has also hit American businesses. You may see this referred to elsewhere as Petya.

At the time of writing the impact on New Zealand doesn’t appear to be major. But then, unlike other countries, there is no compulsory attack notification here. That gives local companies lee-way to paper over their security cracks.

CertNZ offers advice for New Zealand. It includes the usual, but always wise, call to make sure everything is patched up-to-date.

Give us your Bitcoins

Computers hit with the malware show a message demanding a ransom payment of around NZ$500 in Bitcoin. There’s a mail address for victims to use when confirming their payment. The mail service provider has since shut-down the account.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of that action, it makes life even harder for the victims. They can no longer contact the attacker to get the decryption key needed to unlock their data.

NotPetya first emerged in Ukraine. Early reports there say it hit the nation’s government, banks and utilities. It appears that country has suffered more than elsewhere.

Russians fingered

This may, or may not be coincidence. Ukraine blamed earlier attacks on the nation’s infrastructure on Russian organisations. There’s some evidence of Russian state involvement. There is a slow-burn war between the two countries.

Some analysts say the recent attack uses a revamped version of an earlier ransomware. Others suggest it is a new form of ransomware not seen before.

NotPetya is the second huge ransomware attack in as many months. It won’t be the last. These look set to be a regular feature of modern life. Think of it as a new normal.

Last month’s WannaCry ransomware affected 230,000 computers. Among other things it damaged the UK’s National Health Service computers. Spain’s main telco and German state railways were also on the receiving end.

A Symantec press release says the new attack uses the same EternalBlue exploit as WannaCry. America’s National Security Agency developed EternalBlue and used it for five years.

WannaCry used mail systems to infect computers. It appears that’s not the way NotPetya is spreading. It is what security people describe as a worm. That is, a program that makes copies of itself to spread to other computers.

NotPetya, not kill switch

Defenders saw off WannaCry when researchers found a software kill switch. This meant they could turn it off. There is no kill switch in NotPetya.

As you’d expect Symantec says its software protects its customers against the attack. The company says it is not yet clear if this attack targets specific victims. Worms are hard to target, the criminals set them up and let them wreak havoc.

Ransomware is big business for the criminal gangs behind the attacks. It also fuels the computer security industry which grown 30-fold in the past ten years. Today it has an annual turnover of more than $100 billion.