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TECHNOLOGY

Simple Overview Through a Digital Solution

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Simple Overview Through a Digital Solution

In order to efficiently manage the growing number of IT resources in schools, it can be a good idea to use a specialised inventory software.

A digital inventory management solution can also help to comply with the obligation to provide details about the exact use of funds required under leasing programmes or grants. It also helps to keep all inventory information up to date and answers questions such as “what inventory do I have?”, “where is it located?” and “when does my equipment need to be serviced?” at the touch of a button.

Apply for Funding, Order It Equipment… And Then?

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Current expansion projects for digitisation at schools can be funded by leasing programmes or grants from the federal government. Many schools have already applied for additional IT infrastructure and received equipment. The first successes are visible. However, in many cases it has been a long road full of forms and meetings from the regional needs assessment at schools to the delivery of devices. This is also due to the fact that the individual funding programmes raised new questions for many school boards and municipal administrations. Quite a few school headmasters and administrators only realised after the application that the new networks, devices,contracts and licences also entailed extended management needs. A good management strategy is therefore needed to keep track of the situation after funding has been approved and equipment has been ordered. In addition, sooner or later every funding agency wants to know how the disbursed funds were actually used.

Documenting the Use of Funds From the Beginning

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Those who pay attention to clear documentation of the use of funds and the use of the new IT resources at schools right from the start are on the safe side. In the proof of use, schools often have to confirm that the approved funds were used for the intended purpose. Information on the exact use of the equipment (e.g. where the equipment is located and in what condition) can be revealing. Therefore, all aspects related to the inventory (including condition and maintenance) should be documented on an ongoing basis. To avoid having to do this manually in self-created tables, it may be worthwhile to invest in modern and secure inventory software. In addition to the proof of use of the funding, it may be necessary to submit a factual report showing more detailed figures and statistics on the condition of the inventory. For this purpose, it makes sense to document statistics on the usage history of the equipment, support contracts, repairs and software licenses, in such a central system for the inventory objects. Professional inventory software has an integrated maintenance management module for this purpose.

Application Example: Use of Funding at Schools in Southern Germany

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The example of the town of Remseck am Neckar in Baden-Württemberg shows the concrete possibilities offered by inventory software for the management of IT equipment at schools. The local authorities planned to apply for a government grant for the digitalisation of schools “DigitalPakt Schule” (translated: Digital Pact for Schools) even before the outbreak of the Corona pandemic in May 2019. To this end, they first carried out an inventory at all schools and, after various subsidies were disbursed, they ordered a large number of additional IT resources. In order to be able to manage them securely and comprehensibly, the municipality concluded a contract with the Zurich-based company Timly Software, which has developed a digital solution for the management of IT assets. Their inventory software Timly is a modern documentation system for digital and physical inventory in which every object can be virtually catalogued (also featured on Capterra). New entries and changes can be made by different authorised users, which helps to keep inventory information up to date. School headmasters and municipal administrative staff thus can keep track of digital end devices, licence agreements and IT accessories. For this purpose, each object acquired with funding is given a unique inventory number, which is attached as labels with QR codes. The code can be scanned with a simple smartphone and various actions can then be carried out in the inventory software – for example to report a change of location or a defect in the device.

Avoid Additional Effort – Work Digitally From the Start

It is worthwhile for schools and municipal school boards to think about the management of resources from funding programmes in good time, for various reasons. For example, inventory management software avoids a lot of additional work during the funding period. Questions such as “Who has which device at the moment?”, “When is which resource needed where?”, “In what condition is the inventory?” or “When are maintenance deadlines?” can be answered quickly with such software. In the city of Remseck, one of the results of the inventory in 2019 was that the quite different digital requirements at the schools should be harmonised. For this reason, the administration created a new position to support schools and administrative staff with digitalisation. Insufficient utilisation of the new IT resources can be avoided with the help of Timly by ordering in advance and continuously checking whether the staff is informed about all the possibilities of the available hardware and software. Managing all inventory information in a digital system quickly pays off for schools and municipalities, as it helps to stay compliant.


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TECHNOLOGY

Next-gen chips, Amazon Q, and speedy S3

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AWS re:Invent, which has been taking place from November 27 and runs to December 1, has had its usual plethora of announcements: a total of 21 at time of print.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the huge potential impact of generative AI – ChatGPT officially turns one year old today – a lot of focus has been on the AI side for AWS’ announcements, including a major partnership inked with NVIDIA across infrastructure, software, and services.

Yet there has been plenty more announced at the Las Vegas jamboree besides. Here, CloudTech rounds up the best of the rest:

Next-generation chips

This was the other major AI-focused announcement at re:Invent: the launch of two new chips, AWS Graviton4 and AWS Trainium2, for training and running AI and machine learning (ML) models, among other customer workloads. Graviton4 shapes up against its predecessor with 30% better compute performance, 50% more cores and 75% more memory bandwidth, while Trainium2 delivers up to four times faster training than before and will be able to be deployed in EC2 UltraClusters of up to 100,000 chips.

The EC2 UltraClusters are designed to ‘deliver the highest performance, most energy efficient AI model training infrastructure in the cloud’, as AWS puts it. With it, customers will be able to train large language models in ‘a fraction of the time’, as well as double energy efficiency.

As ever, AWS offers customers who are already utilising these tools. Databricks, Epic and SAP are among the companies cited as using the new AWS-designed chips.

Zero-ETL integrations

AWS announced new Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL, Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon Relational Database Services (Amazon RDS) for MySQL integrations with Amazon Redshift, AWS’ cloud data warehouse. The zero-ETL integrations – eliminating the need to build ETL (extract, transform, load) data pipelines – make it easier to connect and analyse transactional data across various relational and non-relational databases in Amazon Redshift.

A simple example of how zero-ETL functions can be seen is in a hypothetical company which stores transactional data – time of transaction, items bought, where the transaction occurred – in a relational database, but use another analytics tool to analyse data in a non-relational database. To connect it all up, companies would previously have to construct ETL data pipelines which are a time and money sink.

The latest integrations “build on AWS’s zero-ETL foundation… so customers can quickly and easily connect all of their data, no matter where it lives,” the company said.

Amazon S3 Express One Zone

AWS announced the general availability of Amazon S3 Express One Zone, a new storage class purpose-built for customers’ most frequently-accessed data. Data access speed is up to 10 times faster and request costs up to 50% lower than standard S3. Companies can also opt to collocate their Amazon S3 Express One Zone data in the same availability zone as their compute resources.  

Companies and partners who are using Amazon S3 Express One Zone include ChaosSearch, Cloudera, and Pinterest.

Amazon Q

A new product, and an interesting pivot, again with generative AI at its core. Amazon Q was announced as a ‘new type of generative AI-powered assistant’ which can be tailored to a customer’s business. “Customers can get fast, relevant answers to pressing questions, generate content, and take actions – all informed by a customer’s information repositories, code, and enterprise systems,” AWS added. The service also can assist companies building on AWS, as well as companies using AWS applications for business intelligence, contact centres, and supply chain management.

Customers cited as early adopters include Accenture, BMW and Wunderkind.

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London. Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.

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TECHNOLOGY

HCLTech and Cisco create collaborative hybrid workplaces

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Digital comms specialist Cisco and global tech firm HCLTech have teamed up to launch Meeting-Rooms-as-a-Service (MRaaS).

Available on a subscription model, this solution modernises legacy meeting rooms and enables users to join meetings from any meeting solution provider using Webex devices.

The MRaaS solution helps enterprises simplify the design, implementation and maintenance of integrated meeting rooms, enabling seamless collaboration for their globally distributed hybrid workforces.

Rakshit Ghura, senior VP and Global head of digital workplace services, HCLTech, said: “MRaaS combines our consulting and managed services expertise with Cisco’s proficiency in Webex devices to change the way employees conceptualise, organise and interact in a collaborative environment for a modern hybrid work model.

“The common vision of our partnership is to elevate the collaboration experience at work and drive productivity through modern meeting rooms.”

Alexandra Zagury, VP of partner managed and as-a-Service Sales at Cisco, said: “Our partnership with HCLTech helps our clients transform their offices through cost-effective managed services that support the ongoing evolution of workspaces.

“As we reimagine the modern office, we are making it easier to support collaboration and productivity among workers, whether they are in the office or elsewhere.”

Cisco’s Webex collaboration devices harness the power of artificial intelligence to offer intuitive, seamless collaboration experiences, enabling meeting rooms with smart features such as meeting zones, intelligent people framing, optimised attendee audio and background noise removal, among others.

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London. Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.

Tags: Cisco, collaboration, HCLTech, Hybrid, meetings

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TECHNOLOGY

Canonical releases low-touch private cloud MicroCloud

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Canonical has announced the general availability of MicroCloud, a low-touch, open source cloud solution. MicroCloud is part of Canonical’s growing cloud infrastructure portfolio.

It is purpose-built for scalable clusters and edge deployments for all types of enterprises. It is designed with simplicity, security and automation in mind, minimising the time and effort to both deploy and maintain it. Conveniently, enterprise support for MicroCloud is offered as part of Canonical’s Ubuntu Pro subscription, with several support tiers available, and priced per node.

MicroClouds are optimised for repeatable and reliable remote deployments. A single command initiates the orchestration and clustering of various components with minimal involvement by the user, resulting in a fully functional cloud within minutes. This simplified deployment process significantly reduces the barrier to entry, putting a production-grade cloud at everyone’s fingertips.

Juan Manuel Ventura, head of architectures & technologies at Spindox, said: “Cloud computing is not only about technology, it’s the beating heart of any modern industrial transformation, driving agility and innovation. Our mission is to provide our customers with the most effective ways to innovate and bring value; having a complexity-free cloud infrastructure is one important piece of that puzzle. With MicroCloud, the focus shifts away from struggling with cloud operations to solving real business challenges” says

In addition to seamless deployment, MicroCloud prioritises security and ease of maintenance. All MicroCloud components are built with strict confinement for increased security, with over-the-air transactional updates that preserve data and roll back on errors automatically. Upgrades to newer versions are handled automatically and without downtime, with the mechanisms to hold or schedule them as needed.

With this approach, MicroCloud caters to both on-premise clouds but also edge deployments at remote locations, allowing organisations to use the same infrastructure primitives and services wherever they are needed. It is suitable for business-in-branch office locations or industrial use inside a factory, as well as distributed locations where the focus is on replicability and unattended operations.

Cedric Gegout, VP of product at Canonical, said: “As data becomes more distributed, the infrastructure has to follow. Cloud computing is now distributed, spanning across data centres, far and near edge computing appliances. MicroCloud is our answer to that.

“By packaging known infrastructure primitives in a portable and unattended way, we are delivering a simpler, more prescriptive cloud experience that makes zero-ops a reality for many Industries.“

MicroCloud’s lightweight architecture makes it usable on both commodity and high-end hardware, with several ways to further reduce its footprint depending on your workload needs. In addition to the standard Ubuntu Server or Desktop, MicroClouds can be run on Ubuntu Core – a lightweight OS optimised for the edge. With Ubuntu Core, MicroClouds are a perfect solution for far-edge locations with limited computing capabilities. Users can choose to run their workloads using Kubernetes or via system containers. System containers based on LXD behave similarly to traditional VMs but consume fewer resources while providing bare-metal performance.

Coupled with Canonical’s Ubuntu Pro + Support subscription, MicroCloud users can benefit from an enterprise-grade open source cloud solution that is fully supported and with better economics. An Ubuntu Pro subscription offers security maintenance for the broadest collection of open-source software available from a single vendor today. It covers over 30k packages with a consistent security maintenance commitment, and additional features such as kernel livepatch, systems management at scale, certified compliance and hardening profiles enabling easy adoption for enterprises. With per-node pricing and no hidden fees, customers can rest assured that their environment is secure and supported without the expensive price tag typically associated with cloud solutions.

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London. Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.

Tags: automation, Canonical, MicroCloud, private cloud

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