All posts by Carly Page

IBM hits new quantum computing milestone

Carly Page

21 Aug, 2020

IBM has announced that it’s reached a new quantum computing milestone, hitting its highest quantum volume to date. 

Using an upgraded 27-qubit client system deployed within the IBM Q Network, the company achieved a quantum volume of 64. The company’s previous milestone, announced in January, was 32, which means IBM has successfully doubled its quantum volume every year for three years running. 

Quantum volume measures the length and complexity of circuits; the higher the volume, the higher the potential for exploring solutions to real-world problems across industry, government, and research.

IBM achieved the latest performance increase by making enhancements to one of the three 27-qubit Falcon chips it announced earlier this year.

The company said it used “hardware-aware” optimisations that unlock more performance from the Falcon chip’s circuits. This includes software improvements to Qiskit, IBM’s compiler for running code on its quantum systems. 

These techniques will be available in upcoming releases and improvements to the IBM Cloud software services and the cross-platform open source software development kit (SDK) Qiskit. 

“We are always finding new ways to push the limits of our systems so that we can run larger, more complex quantum circuits and more quickly achieve a Quantum Advantage,” said Jay Gambetta, IBM fellow and vice president at IBM Quantum.

“IBM’s full-stack approach gives an innovative avenue to develop hardware-aware applications, algorithms and circuits, all running on the most extensive and powerful quantum hardware fleet in the industry.” 

in the last four years, IBM has made 28 quantum computers with eight of them being developed in 2020 alone. 

Public cloud revenue topped £176 billion in 2019

Carly Page

19 Aug, 2020

The global public cloud services market totalled $233.4 billion (£176 billion) in 2019, representing a 26% increase year-over-year. 

That’s according to a new report from IDC, which reveals that the top five public cloud service providers – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, Microsoft, Oracle and – accounted for more than a third of the worldwide total, growing a combined 35% year over year.

Software as a service (SaaS) remained the largest segment of public cloud spending with revenues of more than $122 billion in 2019, an increase of 20% year-over-year. IDC expects SaaS growth to continue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as businesses shift to subscription-based models and look to software collaboration tools to facilitate remote working. 

“Cloud is expanding far beyond niche e-commerce and online ad-sponsored searches. It underpins all the digital activities that individuals and enterprises depend upon as we navigate and move beyond the pandemic,” says Rick Villars, group vice president, Worldwide Research at IDC. 

“Enterprises talked about cloud journeys of up to ten years. Now they are looking to complete the shift in less than half that time.”

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) came in second with revenues of $49 billion, up from $35.4 billion in 2018, while platform as a service (PaaS) ranked in third place with revenues of $35.9 billion. 

In the combined IaaS and PaaS market, AWS and Microsoft captured more than half of global revenues.

IDC said it expects spending on IaaS and PaaS to continue growing at a higher rate than the overall cloud market over the next several years as resilience, flexibility, and agility guide IT platform decisions.

“Today’s economic uncertainty draws fresh attention to the core benefits of IaaS – low financial commitment, flexibility to support business agility, and operational resilience,” said Deepak Mohan, research director of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IDC. 

“Cost optimisation and business resilience have emerged as top drivers of IT investment decisions and IaaS offerings are designed to enable both. The COVID-19 disruption has accelerated cloud adoption with both traditional enterprise IT organisations and digital service providers increasing use of IaaS for their technology platforms.”

Microsoft won’t reopen its offices until January 2021

Carly Page

3 Aug, 2020

Microsoft has confirmed that it won’t fully reopen its offices until January 2021.

The company, which first began to allow employees to work from home in March in light of the coronavirus pandemic, told The Verge that employees won’t return to its US offices until 19 January 2021 at the earliest.

It’s currently planning a six-stage phased “hybrid” approach for the re-opening of its offices, the report states.

Stage six, which will see Microsoft’s offices returning to normal operations, will only be reached when most restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 outbreak have been lifted and when health data suggests it’s safe for employees to return.

“On July 30th, we shared additional information on our hybrid workplace strategy with our global workforce and extended the option of working remotely through January 19, 2021 at the earliest in the US,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in the statement.

“We continue to review the situation on a local basis in each region/country/state where we work and will continue to adjust dates by country as needed.”

We’ve asked Microsoft whether this policy also extends to its employees in the UK but have not yet received a response. 

Microsoft isn’t alone in its plans to not return to offices until 2021. Google is planning to keep its employees working remotely until July 2021, Apple employees won’t be returning to offices until early next year and Twitter has said that staff can work remotely indefinitely

However, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella previously warned of the dangers of permanent remote working. He said that while productivity has risen for many of Microsoft’s workers, companies risk losing out on a connected workforce if long-term working from home is implemented, which could also impact things such as mentorship programs and team building activities.

AWS launches AI tool that helps businesses tackle online fraud

Carly Page

29 Jul, 2020

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced the general availability of Fraud Detector, a machine learning-powered service that helps organisations to tackle fraudulent activity.

First launched at Amazon Re:invent last December, Fraud Detector uses the same technology that Amazon employs to fight fraudulent activity on its e-commerce marketplace. 

The tool requires no machine learning expertise, according to AWS, with Fraud Detector providing a selection of ready-made fraud detection AI templates that cover different use cases. To train their model, organisations simply upload historical data covering both fraudulent and legitimate transactions to AWS S3.

Businesses with more advanced requirements can use their own models with the service using an integration with SageMaker, Amazon’s managed AI platform. 

AWS charges no up-front payments, long-term commitments, or infrastructure to manage with Amazon Fraud Detector, and customers pay only for their actual usage of the service.

Swami Sivasubramanian, Vice President, Machine Learning, said: “Customers of all sizes and across all industries have told us they spend a lot of time and effort trying to decrease the amount of fraud occurring on their websites and applications.

“By leveraging 20 years of experience detecting fraud coupled with powerful machine learning technology, we’re excited to bring customers Amazon Fraud Detector so they can automatically detect potential fraud, save time and money, and improve customer experiences – with no machine learning experience required.”

Amazon Fraud Detector, which counts GoDaddyy and Truevo among is early adopters, is available in the US, Ireland, Sinapore and Sydney, with availability in additional regions in the coming months. 

The launch of Fraud Detector comes after Amazon made CodeGuru generally available. This is an AI-powered code review service that uses programme analysis and machine learning to detect potential defects that are tricky to find and recommend fixes in Java code. 

Salesforce quietly kills off Einstein Voice Assistant and Voice Skills

Carly Page

22 Jul, 2020

Salesforce has quietly shuttered Einstein Voice Assistant and Einstein Voice Skills as it shifts focus towards its newly released Salesforce Anywhere app

The Einstein Voice Assistant first launched in beta last year. It’s an extension of the company’s Einstein Voice platform and allowed users to interact with the Salesforce platform via a mobile app or smart speaker device. 

Salesforce claims the AI helper was more advanced than other digital assistants on the market, such as Alexa and Cortana, as it could be taught to recognise a company’s specific jargon and acronyms.

Einstein Voice Skills, which debuted in beta last November, enabled developers and admins can build custom voice-powered apps for employees to replace any type of manual data entry or manual Salesforce navigation.

As spotted by, Salesforce has killed off both products less than two years after they first debuted. A notice on the Salesforce website confirms that “Einstein Voice Assistant is scheduled to be retired on July 10, 2020,” and that it applies to the online Salesforce system and both the iOS and Android Salesforce mobile apps.

However, the greater Einstein AI platform is not going away and Salesforce will continue to release updates and add new features. 

“Voice is a priority for us at Salesforce, and voice capabilities are built into various product and Platform services,” a Salesforce spokesperson said in a statement.

“For example, Service Cloud Voice and Einstein Call Coaching are both based on voice technology, and the new Salesforce Anywhere app will also contain voice capabilities. At this time we’re discontinuing our betas of Einstein Voice Assistant and Einstein Voice Skills.

“Our learnings will continue to inform our new product, the Salesforce Anywhere App. The app will include voice functionality in a new reimagined way to increase remote productivity, ease of use and collaboration.”

Salesforce Anywhere is expected to arrive in beta form later this month, with the full product set to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2020. 

SUSE acquires Kubernetes startup Rancher Labs

Carly Page

8 Jul, 2020

German-based Linux distribution company SUSE has announced plans to acquire Kubernetes management outfit Rancher Labs

The price of the acquisition was not disclosed, but two people familiar with the deal told CNBC that SUSE is paying between $600 million to $700 million to buy the Cupertino-based startup. 

Rancher Labs, which was was founded in 2014 and currently boasts more than 200 employees, provides open-source software that enables organizations to deploy and manage Kubernetes at scale.

The startup, which has raised more than $95 million in funding, claims Rancher is the “most widely used enterprise Kubernetes platform” with more than 30,000 active users. Its big-name customers include the likes of American Express, Comcast, Deutsche Bahn and Viasat.

The deal, SUSE and Rancher Labs claim, will deliver computing everywhere with the latest AI and seamless deployment of containerized workloads from the edge to the core to the cloud.

“This is an incredible moment for our industry, as two open source leaders are joining forces. The merger of a leader in Enterprise Linux, Edge Computing and AI with a leader in Enterprise Kubernetes Management will disrupt the market to help customers accelerate their digital transformation journeys,” said Melissa Di Donato, Suse CEO. 

“Only the combination of SUSE and Rancher will have the depth of a globally supported and 100% true open source portfolio, including cloud-native technologies, to help our customers seamlessly innovate across their business from the edge to the core to the cloud.”

Shen Liang, Rancher CEO, added that the merging of the two companies will “help organisations control their cloud native futures.”

“Our leading Kubernetes platform with SUSE’s broad open source software solutions creates a powerful combination, enabling IT and Operations leaders worldwide to best meet the needs of their customers wherever they are on their digital transformation journey from the data center to cloud to edge,” he added.

The acquisition is expected to close before the end of October 2020, following regulatory approvals. 

News of the takeover comes just weeks after Rancher Labs announced the launch of Rancher Academy, a new certification program that the open source software firm says will address the growing Kubernetes skills gap.

Apple’s ARM-based Macs won’t support Windows virtualisation

Carly Page

25 Jun, 2020

Users will no longer be able to run Windows virtualisation software once they switch to Apple’s upcoming ARM-based Macs, it has emerged.

In new developer support documents published by Apple, the company confirmed that the switch from Intel to ARM-based processors will prevent users from running Windows on the Mac.

In the document, Apple confirmed that Rosetta 2 – an emulation layer that will enable users to run old apps on new Mac devices – won’t be able to translate x86_64 virtualization apps, which could prevent the virtualisation of Windows environments using apps such as Parallels and VMWare Fusion.

“Rosetta can translate most Intel-based apps, including apps that contain just-in-time (JIT) compilers,” the document reads. “However, Rosetta doesn’t translate the following executables: kernel extensions, Virtual Machine apps that virtualize x86_64 computer platforms.”

In addition to these restrictions, Boot Camp, a popular tool that allows MacBook users to switch between Windows and macOS, will no longer be available for use on devices powered by Apple Silicon.

Although the tool will remain in macOS Big Sur, it will be an Intel-only feature. Non-Intel Macs will not be able to access the tool and the company has not yet announced a replacement.

In a statement, Microsoft confirmed that there’s no official way to install the operating system, telling The Verge that it “only licences Windows on ARM to OEMs”. When asked whether it plans to change this policy to allow Boot Camp on ARM-based Macs, and the company said “we have nothing further to share at this time”.

It remains unclear whether virtualisation companies are working on a solution for ARM-based Macs, though VMWare on Tuesday announced that Big Sur-compatible “tech preview” of Fusion will arrive in July.

What’s more, Apple showed off a Mac with an ARM-based A12Z Bionic SoC running a Linux distribution in Parallels during its WWDC keynote this week, suggesting that the company is working to support virtualisation software.

Microsoft will let end-users revoke encrypted emails in Office 365

Carly Page

12 May, 2020

Microsoft will soon give end-users the ability to revoke encrypted email messages sent using its Office 365 Message Encryption (OME) service.

The OME service is built on Azure Rights Management (Azure RMS) and lets businesses send encrypted emails to people inside or outside of their organisation using, Gmail and other email services with support for encryption.

Currently, only IT administrators can make use of the service’s ability to revoke encrypted emails that have already sent, but as first reported by Bleeping Computer, Microsoft is planning to expand this capability to end-users in the fourth quarter of 2020.

“As part of Office 365 Advance Message Encryption, we are extending the email revocation capabilities to the end-user,” Microsoft explains. “Previously, you had to be an admin to revoke an already sent message; with this update, end users will have this capability as well.”

Once an email is revoked, recipients will receive an error stating “The message has been revoked by the sender” when they attempt to access the encrypted message.

The feature, which will help companies to prevent leaks and enterprise data theft, will be available to users whose business is signed up to an Office 365 subscription with Advanced Message Encryption. This is offered as part of Microsoft 365 Enterprise E5, Office 365 E5, Microsoft 365 E5 (Nonprofit Staff Pricing), Office 365 Enterprise E5 (Nonprofit Staff Pricing), and Office 365 Education A5.

As part of Microsoft’s wider efforts to improve its services as employees continue to work from home during the pandemic, the company also announced this week that it has started rolling out a new feature that will protect users from reply-all email storms. The Reply All Storm Protection tool for Office 365 will block subsequent replies to an email thread for four hours when it detects 10 reply-all emails to over 5,000 recipients within 60 minutes.

Prior to that, the company upgraded its Microsoft Teams collaboration platform to support up to nine people in participant view, and also made its the Yammer Communities app available in Teams.

Cisco and Google Cloud join forces to improve SD-WAN integration

Carly Page

22 Apr, 2020

Google Cloud and Cisco have joined forces to develop the “industry’s first” application-centric multi-cloud networking fabric.

The jointly developed automated solution, called Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Hub with Google Cloud, combines Cisco’s SD-WAN services with Google’s software-defined backbone to ensure application performance is optimized and secured across the enterprise network.

The two firms claim this new service, which is aimed at those who have or are planning to deploy a hybrid multi-cloud strategy, will guarantee applications and networks have shared service-level agreement settings, compliance, and security coverage, as well as provide reliable application performance and optimized user experience.

Google notes that customers will be able to automatically provision a reliable, global network that grows with their businesses needs and be able to publish all of their services in a single place with the ability to define the intent of how the network should treat those services in an automated fashion.

“With tighter integrations between Cisco and Google Cloud, this solution will bring an end-to-end network that adapts to application needs, and that enables secure and on-demand connectivity from a customer’s branch, to the edge of the cloud, through Google Cloud’s backbone, and to applications running in Google Cloud, a private data centre, another cloud or a SaaS application,” said Shailesh Shukla, VP of Products and GM of Networking for Google Cloud.

“We believe by combining the core technology strengths of both Cisco and Google Cloud, we can provide best-in-class, cloud-delivered enterprise networking solutions that make network management easy for our customers and allow them to meet their business needs with agility,” Shukla added.

Cisco and Google Cloud intend to invite select customers to participate in previews of this solution by the end of 2020. General availability is planned for the first half of 2021. To learn more, read Cisco’s blog and visit our partnership website.

The partnership builds on Cisco’s and Google’s earlier efforts to make their products work better together. Back in 2017, the two companies announced a hybrid cloud partnership that will allow IT managers and application developers to use Cisco tools to manage their on-premises environments and link it up with Google’s public IaaS cloud.

IBM appoints former Bank of America CTO as head of cloud business

Carly Page

7 Apr, 2020

IBM has hired former Bank of America chief technology officer (CTO) Howard Boville to head up its cloud business.

Boville, who will join the company as senior vice president of Cloud Platform, replaces Arvind Krishna, who was promoted to CEO earlier this year after Ginni Rometty stepped down from the role

In a LinkedIn post shared with employees, Krishna wrote that Boville, who spent eight years at Bank of America designing and running the company’s cloud services, “is a proven strategist and expert in the realm of cloud and has played a critical role in developing the financial services ready public cloud with IBM.”

Boville’s appointment comes after IBM last year announced it had designed a financial services-ready public cloud by collaborating with Bank of America. IBM said it would enable independent software vendors and Software as a Service (SaaS) providers to focus on deploying their core services to financial institutions with the controls for the platform already put in place.

In his LinkedIn post, shared on his first day as CEO, Krishna also said told IBM staff that in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, “now is the time to build a fourth platform in hybrid cloud.”

“An essential, ubiquitous hybrid cloud platform our clients will rely on to do their most critical work in this century,” he said. “A platform that can last even longer than the others.

“The fundamentals are already in place. Our approach to hybrid cloud is the most flexible and the most cost effective for our clients in the long term. Coupled with our deep expertise, IBM has unique capabilities to help our clients realize the potential of a hybrid cloud business model.”

He added that IBM has “to win the architectural battle in cloud”, noting that “there’s a unique window of opportunity for IBM and Red Hat to establish Linux, containers and Kubernetes as the new standard.

“We can make Red Hat OpenShift the default choice for hybrid cloud in the same way that Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the default choice for the operating system.”

Krishna also announced other leadership changes. Jim Whitehurst, in his new role as president, will head IBM Strategy as well as the Cloud and Cognitive Software unit, and Paul Cormier will lead IBM’s open-source software company Red Hat as its new president and CEO.