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VMware sovereign cloud initiative grows to 14 partners

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VMware sovereign cloud initiative grows to 14 partners


The growing importance of data sovereignty, scrutiny of data access and control, and increasing geo-political friction is leading governments and regulated industries to closely analyse their cloud strategies and evaluate whom may have access to their data.

The VMware Sovereign Cloud initiative helps customers identify and engage with trusted national or regional cloud service providers to meet their unique sovereign cloud requirements. Today, VMware is announcing the expansion of the initiative with new partners, as well as new cloud-native developer-centric capabilities that bring more value to all VMware Cloud provider offerings.

The newest VMware Sovereign Cloud designated partners are IONOS SE, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Sopra Steria AS, and TDRA. This brings the total to 14 participants in the VMware Sovereign Cloud initiative in distinct sovereign regions covering Canada, Mexico, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, India and the US.

“We are pleased to welcome new partners to our Sovereign Cloud initiative and see existing partners demonstrate momentum in meeting the sovereign cloud requirements of customers around the world,” said Rajeev Bhardwaj, vice president of product management, Cloud infrastructure and business group, VMware. “New data services from Tanzu will enable all our VMware Cloud Provider partners, particularly, sovereign cloud -focused partners, to expand their data and application transformation portfolios and accelerate cloud adoption. This will allow customers to remain within sovereign regions and jurisdictional control while achieving cutting edge transformation at scale.”

Customers Worldwide Turn to Sovereign Clouds built on VMware

VMware Cloud providers offer Sovereign Cloud solutions for customers in regulated industries, such as banking and finance, healthcare, local retail and ecommerce, energy, government services, defence, intelligence, regional telecom and public sectors.

Hummingbird, an Australian IT services company providing a range of business enhancing services across government and the private sector, partnered with AUCloud as a sovereign cloud provider. “Providing digital and managed services solutions across a broad range of industries, it is imperative that we meet the constantly evolving challenges of data protection, availability and governance,” said Andrew Thomlinson-Munn, Solutions Architect, Hummingbird Solutions.

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“Hummingbird Solutions choose to work with AUCloud as an IaaS provider for their strength in delivering hosting solutions on a proven platform with VMware and their ability to provide a sovereign cloud solution to conform to our customer’s internal and regulatory compliance requirements. Working with AUCloud, which is part of the VMware Sovereign Cloud initiative, provides Hummingbird with the confidence that we are backed by a best-in-class infrastructure solution, with a partner that has the skills and expertise to complement our own.”

Nimble, a leading Canadian supplier of document imaging products, services, and solutions, teamed with ThinkOn to meet the company’s cloud sovereignty requirements. “The success of any digital mailroom or document digitization solution relies heavily on the accuracy, security, and accessibility of the digitized documents,” said Daryl Stott, VP Digital Transformation, Nimble Information Strategies Inc. “Not only does that extracted data need to be highly accurate but the authority, control, and accessibility of this data must reside within Canadian Federal and Provincial boundaries to meet the data residency obligations of Nimble Information Strategies customers. Nimble partners with ThinkOn to align our data residency and security business needs with the strict data sovereignty demands and expectations of our clients.”

Geoff Smith Associates (GSA) is a leader in supplying cloud-hosted IT solutions for Information Management, Covert Systems, Criminal Justice, and Case Management. “Working extensively with the UK public sector requires GSA to operate within certain guidelines for cloud security and data privacy,” said Geoff Smith, Managing Director, Geoff Smith Associates. “GSA’s ability to deliver our SaaS offering on UKCloud’s sovereign cloud technology has helped transform information management for some of the many UK Policing customers. With GSA’s CycFreedom fully hosted cloud solution on UKCloud, we serve customers with agile, efficient, and cost-saving solutions for more secure and compliant management of their data.”

New Developer-Ready Cloud Services Powered by VMware Tanzu

With VMware, cloud providers can extend beyond basic infrastructure and platform as a service and offer managed app modernisation services for cloud-native workloads. Cloud providers can offer fully managed developer-ready clouds on the customer’s premises; hosted private clouds in partner data centers; or as a managed service on leading hyperscaler clouds. VMware is now offering VMware Tanzu Application Platform and VMware Tanzu Data Services portfolio for cloud provider partners to expand their developer-ready cloud services.

Tanzu Application Platform provides a rich set of developer tooling and a fast and simple path to production for developers to build and deploy software quickly and more securely on any compliant public cloud or on-premises Kubernetes clusters. Developers can start quickly with preconfigured templates, gain access to best-in-class tools in the application development pipeline, and create and maintain a more secure, sustainable, and reusable pathway for modern applications throughout their lifecycle. Importantly, customers can establish a clear separation between developers and operations for seamless app handoffs from development to production.

Tanzu Data Services is a portfolio of on-demand caching, messaging, and database software for development teams to use while building modern cloud-native applications. With Tanzu Data Services, which include Greenplum, SQL, Gemfire, and RabbitMQ, developers gain on-demand self-service access to these critical data services. Automated provisioning supports rapid development, testing, and continuous delivery practices for a consistent developer experience within Sovereign Clouds. Customers can bring legacy data into the cloud native model and more reliably run data services at web scale.

Data Protection and Security Offerings from Ecosystem Partners

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VMware’s large technology ecosystem helps ensure that sovereign cloud providers have a wealth of solutions to augment their offerings. VMware is working within this connected ecosystem to provide new capabilities in the following areas:

Integrated Self-Service Sovereign Object Storage: Sovereign clouds require local Object Storage capabilities to meet the needs of data residency, a key pillar in sovereign clouds. Cloudian provides an integrated Object storage service that meets growing data volumes of national data and innovation in application development.

Ransomware protection, backup, and recovery: Data protection is another critical aspect of Sovereign cloud as all applications and workloads can be targets for cybercrime. Ransomware protection from Veeam and Cloudian uses immutable storage and instant workload recovery to help protect sovereign environments and critical national data from being changed or encrypted.

Key management services: Sovereign cloud environments require the highest levels of protection, with a core requirement for encryption and key management. Fortanix delivers an integrated data security platform that provides VMware Cloud providers’ customers more control over their security-sensitive workloads and simplifies partner key services with encryption, tokenisation, and secrets management. Additionally, Fortanix provides VMware Sovereign Cloud customers full control and ownership of the keys within the VMware Sovereign cloud boundary. Fortanix DSM complements this with FIPS 140-2 level 3 certified hardware security modules and key management with regional level isolation and enables full compliance with specific data privacy/transfer regulations including Shrems II and GDPR.

Through VMware Cloud Director, VMware Cloud providers can easily leverage ecosystem partners to deliver integrated services, creating a robust platform to meet many Sovereign Cloud principles.

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TECHNOLOGY

Einstein, Empathy and AI

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Einstein, Empathy and AI


Albert Einstein once said: “The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty and Truth.”

Kindness, beauty and truth. You don’t often hear these words in the digital world. How do we integrate these life essentials in technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, edge computing, internet of things (IoT) and data at scale? Technology, after all, makes things less personal, right?

One company is working hard to disprove this assumption. Not only that, they have a direct tie to Einstein himself.

A hundred years after Einstein shared his views about human existence, NVIDIA is on a path to connecting kindness, beauty and truth with AI as it explores the human qualities of inference, context and nuance in supportive technologies. As for the famous scientist with the wild white hair, NVIDIA has proven he was right about his prediction of gravitational waves, which can now be seen by astronomers for the first time at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).

This makes sense. After all, NVIDIA has powered 352 out of 500 of the world’s supercomputers.

NVIDIA has long been known for gaming technologies – it invented the graphics processing unit (GPU) in 1999, triggering the steep growth of the gaming market (much to the chagrin of many parents everywhere) with superior computer graphics and intuitive AI.

Chances are you’ve touched NVIDIA’s tech some time along your day today. Since its launch in 1993, it has been the “AI engine” for thousands of companies, including Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, Alibaba, Tencent, Pinterest, PayPal, Snap and Spotify. The full-stack computer company fuels data center-scale computing solutions with the help of some 20,000 employees in more than 50 countries.

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GPU-powered AI solutions impact critical insights needed for businesses to make better decisions, improve customer service and reduce fraud. The technology is particularly impactful in financial services where around 80% of firms are using artificial intelligence to improve services. NVIDIA’s State of AI in Financial Services 2022 Trends Report reveals that 8 of 10 financial firms are using AI to reduce the estimated $5 trillion in global fraud each year and that conversational AI is being used to mimic customer service representatives in self-service chatbots and call center virtual agents by many banks. AI-led recommendation systems are delivering hyper-personalized experiences to bank customers by giving personalized recommendations.

Conversational AI, however, is where GPU technology can make a significant difference. To date, it has often been seen as deeply flawed by many people, myself included.

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You call a company hoping to resolve an issue. Its AI-driven customer service agent answers in a monotone voice. Soon thereafter, the exchange goes off the rails. You’re asking if they have a product in stock and the agent is asking if you want to make a return. Finally, you request a live agent. I’ve gotten lost in the digital loop of big companies when connecting with a real human being is akin to hitting the jackpot.

What’s missing? From moment one, it’s empathy.

Just to be on the same page, Merriam Webster defines empathy as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.”

Feeling understood by another is the point of NVIDIA’s article “May AI Help You? Square Takes Edge Off Conversational AI With GPUs”, which explores AI’s unique potential for going beyond the facts, entering the realm of “sympathetic listening.”

As more companies adopt conversational AI, empathy plays a larger role in the customer experience – and, ultimately, growth factors like profitability, customer retention and brand equity. According to Zendesk, 81% of consumers say a positive customer service increases the chances of them making another purchase. AI is more than taking care of business. Customers want to feel good about the exchange and not like a “number.” They want a kinder, more memorable touch point that resolves their real problem and makes them feel “seen.”

Can digital assistants and digital agents get us there?

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With the help of NVIDIA, the popular payment platform Square is making progress. You could say NVIDIA invented one of AI’s greatest solutions – the GPU. The company’s article points out that Square’s tech team “started training AI models at Eloquent on single NVIDIA GPUs running CUDA (a programming interface) in desktop PCs.” Eloquent is an NLP startup acquired by Square in 2019. In addition to the GPU enabled desktop stations, large model training jobs were run on NVIDIA GPUs in the AWS cloud service.  The results were impressive on both training and inference fronts. In particular, Square found “inference jobs on average-size models run twice as fast on GPUs than CPUs. Inference on large models such as RoBERTa run 10x faster on the AWS GPU service than on CPUs.”

Progress? Listen to this: Merritt writes that “Square Assistant can understand and provide help for 75 percent of customer’s questions, and it’s reducing appointment no-shows by 10 percent.”

Trust takes so much time to build. One poor experience breaks it immediately. In an ideal world, our conversations with others are fluid as long as the level of service meets our satisfaction. When an experience falls short, the ramifications interrupt our perception of a brand or worse.

Like New Year’s Eve 2021 when I made a large payment to my house remodeler via check. I sent the check a week ahead to ensure it can be processed before the end of the year. My bank texted me to confirm my identity. I verified that the payment was legit. More than an hour later and seven – SEVEN – transfers from one digital assistant to another and then to a live agent later, the issue was finally resolved. By that time, however, it was already the new year.  As a small business owner, that one day delay had implications on taxes and a supplier’s revenue. 

Many consider Einstein as a great scientist, but I think of him as a great thinker. He understood the power of the human touch. In one essay, he wrote: “When we survey our lives and endeavors we soon observe that almost the whole of our actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other human beings.”

When AI understands the nuances of language, we will have taken the next big leap. Intuitive, empathetic AI is upon us. The question is: will it inspire greater kindness, beauty and truth for those who use it?

Explore NVIDIA’s AI solutions and enterprise-level AI platforms driving the future of financial services. 



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