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The Growing Value of Data

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The Growing Value of Data

Data has quickly become as valuable as gold to many businesses and organizations, especially with how many products and services have evolved to be more digital than not.

If we think back to merely a decade ago, or perhaps even a little farther, we already had early iterations of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices while computers and the Internet had quickly become a staple in our everyday lives.

In the early years of the Internet, and leading up to the days of mobile devices, collecting and analyzing data was a slow process. Information had to be stored somewhere, and companies often outsourced this storage to remote servers for later review. Keep in mind that data was a lot simpler years ago, as much of it wasn’t needed the moment it was collected, but, instead, it was leveraged each quarter when discussing sales, customer behaviors, and new marketing strategies.

But times have changed, and now, in these highly connective, digital days, there is much more diverse data that allows companies of all kinds to offer much more with their products and services, and likewise, leverage that data to better their internal business processes as well.

Higher Connectivity, Convergence, and Data

When I teach companies and individuals about my Anticipatory Organization® Model, we look at a multitude of characteristics both within and outside their industries. Hard Trend future certainties shaping the world in general are always referenced, many of which are disruptive digital technologies and the speed at which they are accelerating.

Convergence is another piece of the Anticipatory puzzle that I reference, which has directly to do with different technologies bringing never-before-connected industries together, creating something new that transforms the world in positive ways. How does this concept of convergence relate to data collection and processing? By way of Edg Computing!

With the ever-expanding use of low-latency 5G, Edge Computing is quickly becoming commonplace in many industries. Simply put, Edge Computing brings the processing of data closer to the collection source, which enhances a company’s ability to leverage that data as quickly as possible.

Edge Computing In Auto Insurance

A notable way in which Edge Computing impacts convergence can be viewed in the insurance industry.

Many auto insurers reward drivers with lower rates, provided they drive safely, but how, exactly, is that measured accurately? In years prior, it had directly to do with how many insurance claims a driver filed after an accident. Well, looking at that from today’s standpoint, that is quite inaccurate! Someone who sped dangerously, but had never filed a claim, was treated exactly the same as a person who drove excessively cautiously.

Now, thanks to speedy data collection via Edge Computing, the insurance industry has been able to converge with technology companies to develop trackers for drivers to have in their cars to offer even better rates to truly safe drivers. These trackers collect data in real-time, monitoring everything from speed to driving frequency, and so much more. 

This convergence essentially carved out a new segment of an industry, creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs to better streamline these trackers, or for individual insurance companies to create proprietary equipment that could be licensed to competitors — an act of positive disruption that sets a specific organization ahead.

Edge Computing and Everything-As-A-Service

Think of how many drivers are on the road right this second in the United States alone. That’s a lot of real-time data, isn’t it? Many might assume that the likes of Allstate or State Farm Insurance could afford to store all this data internally in their own servers or data centers; however, this is not always the case.

Remember, also given the increase in low-latency 5G connectivity, we now have what is referred to as “Everything-as-a-Service,” or EaaS, for short. This means that data storage, or even the very act of Edge Computing, can be outsourced safely and securely to an outside organization to minimize internal overhead costs. Auto insurers using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for their real-time data tracking of safe and unsafe drivers can save even more and offer even better rates by lowering their overhead costs this way.

Some notable companies that offer Edge Computing services to many large organizations in expansive industries include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Dell EMC, which offers three notable categories in Edge Computing software, Google and their Edge TPU, and several others.

An Anticipatory Solution To Shipping Woes

Let’s put our opportunity antennas up for just a moment and think in an Anticipatory way about data, Edge Computing, and convergence. What other industries could benefit from quick data collection and processing? Better yet, what specific industry would benefit from turning the tables to offer even better data processing to customers?

Everyone in the world, in either their professional or personal lives, has been impacted by the supply chain issues brought about by COVID-19. Especially in manufacturing, many project managers have had their specific projects delayed due to shipping issues following the pandemic, often left with nothing to say to their customers.

In leveraging Edge Computing, we could not only utilize my Skip It Principle to skip over this current problem, but we could also solve future mega-disruptions in supply chain, shipping, and communicating these challenges to customers by allowing them full transparency with tracking data. For instance, having some type of technology implemented into manufacturing processes could track in real-time where raw materials or supplies are, eventually relieving the need for project managers to constantly have to connect with different suppliers, and instead, have that legwork done for them.

This is a Hard Trend future certainty, as there are already many applications of Edge Computing in manufacturing worked effortlessly into robotics to prevent downtime and help predict when mechanical issues may be imminent.

You and your organization have the chance to benefit from better, faster data collection and processing, but likewise, use anticipation to map exactly how Edge Computing and other data collection technologies may impact other industries. In doing so, you can be the driver of positive disruption by way of convergence, bringing to light a whole new market that never before existed!


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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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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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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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