November 15, 2010

Flexible, but Secure Access Control in Cloud Storage

This is cross-posted from EnThinnai Blog.

There is a report that EU will be funding a research effort into Cloud Storage Technologies to the tune of $21.4 M. This project will be spearheaded by IBM’s research team in Haifa and it will take three years for the projet to complete.

The following paragraph in that story is my focus today: “The project will explore other advanced features for cloud storage, such as flexible but secure access control. For example, a company may want to distribute a video to participants of a conference, but they may not want to give access credentials to those people for its own network. The project will look into ways the video can be shared securely under those conditions while also being accessible by people through any device, Kolodner said.”

One of the upcoming features of EnThinnai is applicable for the described scenario. As was noted in a previous post, Notes in EnThinnai will have three parameters will be used to control access. The first is the standard “To” parameter identifying specific people that are allowed to access the content. This parameter will contain a list of OpenIDs of the individuals. The second parameter is “responsibility tag”. This will identify the authority resposible for issueing “responsibility”. The third parameter is “interest” tag where individuals declare their interest in material associted with a keyword.

The idea is when a company wants to distribute video to participants of a conference, they will create a “Note” and identify the conference organizer as the issuing authority and the name of the conference as the associated tag. When somebody tries to access this Note, the system will use OpenID procedure to authenticate the visitor and then use OpenID Attribute Exchange to query the conference organizer to confirm the visitor’s participation in the conference. Once this done, the system will allow access to the Note. Use of user-centri id like OpenID ensures that access is flexible and at the same time using an issuing authority to control acccess makes it secure.

Posted by aswath at 06:13 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2010

Binatone shows us a way

Yesterday @DaveMichels posted a tweet about Android-based cordless land line phone from a company called Binatone (Just goes to a "Under Construction" page; they need to fix it.). He links to a story on the new device. That story is skimpy on details but very categorical in some of its statements. Unfortunately, I was not able to locate the original press release from the company. But they have a web page describing the product and they have also posted the Users Guide. The following is my analysis based on the information I have so far.

The new device is called iDect iHome Phone. As the name suggests it is a DECT cordless phone, but the handset runs on Android. This is the reason for all the excitement. But Binatone does not specify the version, though the speculation is that it is based on Android 1.6. The handset has 2.8” (320x240) touchscreen. But interestingly the phone comes with a stylus pen; it also has the four sided navigation key. Not sure why they would have these multiple user input mechanisms. The user manual describes tap, tap and hold, slide, drag and flick gestures, but no pinch. Apparently the screen is not multi-touch enabled.

Regarding phone capabilities, it uses DECT radio to connect to the PSTN. It provides call waiting caller ID, a Contact list (300 max), call log (50), redial (30 numbers) and answering machine (14 mins).

The handset also has wi-fi radio and is used to go on internet with the help of a built-in browser. It is also an MP3 player. It is not clear whether it has other functions usually found in Android phones like voice based searching.

Overall it looks like a capable device for home use. But it really looks like they have slapped two functions - phone and web browsing - together instead of fully integrating them. For example, they could have offset the 14 minute limit for voice mail, by the device could email new messages. Binatone could have opted to offer an associated web service where users can store contact list, full log from which calls can be originated from the browser.

Most of the reviewers show off their geekiness by making the obligatory point that not very many people use wireline anymore. Neither these reviewers nor the company is pointing out that one can run a VoIP client on the handset and use the wi-fi connection to make VoIP calls. Of course it is not as simple as just installing a VoIP client. The UIs of VoIP client and PSTN must be integrated so that the user experience is superb.

Some reviewers also state that Android Marketplace will not be available in this device. But the user manual clearly states that it will be available.

The bottom line is that this is a capable hardware device which can benefit from some product architecting and also some market positioning from a person like Andy Abramson. It is also worth comparing this device and its cost (~$140) to AT&T Home Phone, VZW Hub and BT Home Hub.

But one thing is for sure. As devices of this kind become more widely available, more applications will be available all running on the end devices without requiring service providers.

Posted by aswath at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

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