All posts by Praharsha Anand

Kyndryl launches its Cloud Innovation Center in Quebec

Praharsha Anand

17 Dec, 2021

Kyndryl, a spin-off of IBM’s managed infrastructure division, has announced the opening of its new Cloud Innovation Center in Montréal, Quebec.

The facility will create nearly 500 new IT jobs over the next five years while also providing digital transformation services to Canadian organisations.

In particular, the Cloud Innovation Centre will offer certified training in modernizing cloud applications, automating DevOps and service management, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), and more.

Over 100 new IT positions have already been created at the center, who have been offered training in advanced cloud platforms, automation tools, cyber security, and given access to its vast partner network.

“This centre creates tremendous opportunity in several ways. Our customers and organizations across Canada can now leverage Kyndryl’s world class talent, with the top skills in cloud and technology services, to help them accelerate their digital transformation strategies and achieve their business goals,” said Xerxes Cooper, president of Kyndryl Canada.

“The next-generation workforce from local technical colleges and universities have the opportunity to deliver the technology skills needed to drive business innovation, and this centre positions Quebec as a hub for global businesses.”

Additionally, Kyndryl’s new bilingual technology services center will support industries’ digital transformation efforts and help meet the growing demand for cloud skills. Kyndryl also has expertise in security and resiliency, network and edge, and core enterprise and cloud services, among others.

Montréal International is proud to support Kyndryl in this project that will offer great career opportunities to young graduates and professionals while growing the local IT talent pool,” said Stéphane Paquet, president and CEO of Montréal International.

“This investment will also provide local businesses with specialized services in an evolving sector where the demand keeps on growing.”

AWS launches its second Top Secret region

Praharsha Anand

8 Dec, 2021

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched its second Top Secret region: AWS Top Secret-West. 

The new region, licensed to operate workloads classified as Top Secret under US security classification, adds several availability zones that are geographically separate from AWS Top Secret-East.

Together, the two Top Secret regions enable the defence, intelligence, and national security communities of the US to deploy multi-region architectures that assure maximum availability and resilience to national security missions.

Through availability zones, customers can run their applications and databases at ultra-low latency much more reliably than with a single data centre. AWS also supports replicating data synchronously to a different Availability Zone within the same Region, or asynchronously to a different Region.

Commenting on security, AWS said its latest Top Secret region adheres to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Intelligence Community Directive (ICD 503), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-53 Revision 4.

The firm is the first commercial cloud provider accredited to handle government workloads across the full spectrum of US government data, including Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret.

“In 2011, we launched AWS GovCloud (US-West), making AWS the first cloud provider to build cloud infrastructure designed to meet US government security and compliance needs,” said AWS in a blog post.

“In 2014, we launched our first Top Secret region, AWS Top Secret-East, which was the first air-gapped commercial cloud accredited to support classified workloads. In 2017, we launched the AWS Secret Region.

“Today, with the launch of AWS Top Secret-West, we continue our support for mission workloads that span the full range of US government classifications.”

Re:Invent 2021: AWS offers three new capabilities for enterprise databases

Praharsha Anand

2 Dec, 2021

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced three new database capabilities for business applications as part of this week’s Re:Invent 2021 event.

Customers now benefit from a managed database service that customises existing databases and operating systems, an optimised table class for Amazon DynamoDB for lowering storage costs, and a machine learning-powered service that diagnoses and remediates database performance issues.

According to AWS, the aforementioned database features will help businesses manage data cost-efficiently and at scale.

Amazon RDS Custom caters to business applications requiring customizable underlying databases and operating systems. The managed service automates administrative tasks such as capacity provisioning capacity, scaling, and backup, and is compatible with commercial databases including Oracle and MS SQL Server.

Furthermore, the Amazon DynamoDB Standard-Infrequent Access (Standard-IA) table class offers DynamoDB users a 60% reduction in costs for infrequently accessed table data. DynamoDB Standard table class, by contrast, offers up to 20% lower throughput costs than Standard-IA, making it the most cost-effective option for tables with high throughput.

Finally, Amazon DevOps Guru for RDS, a new machine learning-powered feature built into Amazon DevOps Guru, identifies and diagnoses performance bottlenecks and operational issues in a database, providing detailed recommendations on how to fix them.

NetApp SVP and GM of Cloud Volumes, Ronen Schwartz, said: “NetApp offers cloud services to enable organisations to easily run highly efficient, cost-effective relational database migration and operation programs from on premises to the cloud. However, some organisations running applications that require customisation to the database environment and operating system have been unable to move to a fully managed database service in the cloud due to the customisations these applications require”. 

“With Amazon RDS Custom, these organisations now have a managed database service for applications that require operating system and database customisation. Organisations can run Amazon RDS Custom on NetApp ONTAP to benefit from advanced data protection, autonomous efficiencies, and continuous optimisations.”

AWS wins Adidas contract to host its SAP workloads

Praharsha Anand

23 Nov, 2021

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has won a contract to provide sports clothing brand Adidas with a cloud environment for hosting its SAP workloads.

German-based multinational Adidas AG also intends to develop a modern SAP S/4HANA platform using AWS, according to the deal.

By integrating SAP into its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Adidas aims to connect data across its global operations, while also tapping into AWS‘ SAP expertise to support advanced analytics, data science, and enterprise reporting, the company said in a release.

Utilizing AWS’ machine learning solutions, including Amazon SageMaker, Adidas’ data scientists can forecast seasonal demand for goods. This ensures the right product arrives at a warehouse or retail store at the right time, increasing customer satisfaction.

Through a cloud-based data lake on AWS, Adidas can also gain visibility into both internal and outbound operations, while AWS Sustainability programmes will also assist Adidas in reducing the environmental impact of its cloud operations.

Adidas said the deal will allow it to offer customers discounts and early access to new releases, priority services, and personalized offers.

“We want to drive innovation across our business, which includes everything from how we design our products to how we engage with the consumers who buy them. By committing to cloud infrastructure, we have the scalability and elasticity we need to handle the seasonality of our business during peak demand, and support the projected growth in our e-commerce business in the years to come,” explained Markus Rautert, senior vice president of technology enablement at Adidas AG.

“Deploying SAP environments on AWS isn’t just about transforming our technology—it’s about transforming business opportunities and using AWS’ wide range of cloud capabilities to create efficiencies and bring us closer to consumers,” he added.

SAP and Qualtrics debut Concur Experience Optimizer for hybrid workplaces

Praharsha Anand

28 Oct, 2021

SAP and Qualtrics have joined forces to streamline travel and expense management for hybrid workplaces.

Dubbed Concur Experience Optimizer, the jointly developed solution combines Qualtrics’ employee experience management platform with SAP’s Concur data.

Organisations can also capitalise on the expertise of SAP Concur Experience Management consultants, included within the platform, to implement continuous employee feedback loops.

“Our research shows that demand for business travel is returning to pre-pandemic levels, but getting the employee experience right is more nuanced and complicated than ever before,” said Jay Choi, chief product officer at Qualtrics. 

Choi added, “It’s critical for organisations to understand how employees feel about the new world of travel and use that experience data to meet their evolving health and safety needs.”

Concur Experience Optimizer offers critical insights into employee buying decisions and organisational spending patterns, allowing early detection of potential saving opportunities and better coordination of policies and processes.

Businesses can also track employee sentiment with science-backed feedback templates and analyse the results with simple, intuitive dashboards that correlate sentiment with operational data metrics.

Additionally, the platform aids organisations in identifying risk factors in employee programs, preventing non-compliant and potentially fraudulent expenses.

“People are a company’s greatest asset, and it’s no secret that retaining employees has become even more critical,” said Mike Koetting, area lead of SAP Concur solution at SAP. 

“A company’s travel and expense programs can directly impact an employee’s experience. Concur Experience Optimizer helps organisations understand the reasons behind employee behavior so they can make adjustments that are in line with both employee sentiment and business objectives.”

AWS makes its Panorama Appliance generally available

Praharsha Anand

21 Oct, 2021

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced the general availability of its Panorama Appliance.

The device integrates computer vision into on-premises internet protocol (IP) cameras, allowing fast and easy visual inspections of production lines, drive-thru queue management, layout optimisations of physical stores, and more.

“While some smart cameras can provide real-time visual inspection, replacing existing cameras with new smart cameras can be cost prohibitive. Even then, smart cameras are often ineffective because they are limited to specific use cases and require additional effort to fine-tune,” explained AWS.

“Alternatively, some customers send video feeds from existing on-premises cameras to third-party servers, but often the required internet bandwidth is costly or facilities are in remote locations where internet connectivity can be slow, all of which degrades the usefulness and practicality of the analysis.”

AWS’ Panorama device minimises costs by enabling customers to pair the solution with existing on-premises cameras and monitor video streams locally through computer vision.

Customers can update their computer vision application in Amazon SageMaker and deploy the model to the AWS Panorama Appliance, thanks to the device’s full integration with Amazon SageMaker.

Together, AWS Panorama Appliance, Amazon Monitron, Amazon Lookout for Equipment, and Amazon Lookout for Vision deliver the most comprehensive cloud-to-edge machine learning solution for industrial applications.

AWS offers its Panorama Appliance in Virginia, Oregon, Canada, and Ireland. Support for additional regions will follow soon.

“CVG Airport is committed to providing a world-class traveler experience through continuous innovation and strategic cooperation,” said Brian Cobb, chief innovation officer at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Cobb added, “By using TaskWatch’s application on AWS Panorama, we are able to bring machine learning to our existing IP cameras and automatically monitor congestion over 70,000 square feet of airport traffic lanes. Once an issue is detected, such as a disabled vehicle, TaskWatch sends real-time alerts to airport staff so they can provide assistance, keep the traffic flowing, and reduce delays for our passengers.”

Alkira deepens partnership with AWS

Praharsha Anand

20 Oct, 2021

Alkira has announced the expansion of its business ties with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The firm also announced integration with AWS Transit Gateway Connect, a service that allows native integration of software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) appliances with AWS.

The combined solution will provide seamless AWS capabilities to Alkira customers and simplify cloud networking services for on-premises, cloud, and multi-cloud environments.

Furthermore, Alkira announced a multi-year international agreement with AWS customer Warner Music Group to deploy Alkira Cloud Services Exchange (CSX).

“Alkira is thrilled with this closer business engagement with AWS to offer hundreds of thousands of AWS customers a more sophisticated, yet simplified network infrastructure, consumed completely as-a-service,” said Amir Khan, CEO and founder of Alkira.

Khan added, “Visionaries like Ralph Munsen, CIO of Warner Music Group can now realise the company’s cloud networking vision and consume their complete network infrastructure directly from the only comprehensive Cloud Network infrastructure as-a-Service (CNaaS) in the AWS.”

Alkira has also been accepted into the AWS ISV Accelerate Program, a co-sell program for AWS partners that offer solutions integrated with or running on AWS.

Alkira will also participate in the AWS Global Startup Program aimed at supporting mid-to-late-stage startups that have raised institutional funding, achieved product-market fit, and are ready for scaling.

“Cloud has a lot of promise, but we’re always working to improve our network agility and performance and to ensure a seamless process especially in this fast-moving virtual world we’re doing business in,” said Ralph Munsen, CIO of Warner Music Group.

Munsen continued, “Alkira addresses our cloud networking infrastructure as-a-service needs and we’re pleased to see the close collaboration with AWS. WMG evaluated multiple multi-cloud networking solutions and selected Alkira because the Alkira CSX greatly simplifies management of our network infrastructure and enables us to focus on the growth of our business.”

Together, Alkira and AWS will provide customers with enhanced agility, more advanced networking, and improved procurement experiences.

Oracle’s Fusion Marketing automates lead generation

Praharsha Anand

21 Sep, 2021

Oracle has announced its a artificial intelligence (AI)-powered marketing automation solution called Fusion Marketing.

Available as part of Oracle Advertising and CX, Fusion Marketing helps marketers automate lead generation and qualification from start to finish.

CRM has become the system that both sellers and marketers love to hate, due to disconnected workflows, too much manual administration, and siloed data often preventing sales and marketing teams from working with each other to engage customers and drive revenue,” explained Oracle.

Addressing roadblocks in conventional marketing, Fusion Marketing helps brands create campaigns with consistent messaging across customer touchpoints.

The platform guides marketers through the entire campaign creation and execution process and helps businesses generate targeted audience profiles, identify relevant customer references, plan advertising budgets, and more. A built-in dashboard enables marketers to view campaign performance in real-time.

But that’s not all. Following the launch of an advertising campaign, Oracle’s Fusion Marketing automatically generates and qualifies leads. 

In addition to directing customers to an automatically generated landing page, each campaign includes customer references tailored to the industry and interest of the customer. Fusion Marketing also allows enterprises to track engagement across multiple campaign channels, including emails, online ads, and microsite visits. 

The platform uses AI to analyze leads at the account level, predict when consumers are ready to speak with a salesperson and generate a qualified sales opportunity within any CRM system.

“It is time for our industry to think differently about marketing and sales automation so that we can transform CRM into a system that actually works for both the marketer and the salesperson,” said Rob Tarkoff, executive vice president and general manager of Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience. 

“This is not about forecasts and rollups or a reporting tool to see how the sales force is performing, but instead about turning CRM into a system that helps sellers sell. A huge part of that change is bringing marketing and sales teams together and eliminating the low-value, time consuming tasks that distract from building customer relationships and closing deals. That’s why we have invested so much time engineering a system that will help marketers fully automate lead generation and qualification and get highly qualified leads to the sales team faster.”

UN high commissioner calls for ban on harmful AI tools

Praharsha Anand

20 Sep, 2021

The UN high commissioner for human rights has called for a moratorium on AI systems that threaten human rights until governments can set up safeguards.

AI applications that violate human rights law should be banned, said High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, in a statement issued on Thursday.

Her comments coincide with the release of a UN report warning of existing human rights abuses involving AI systems across various sectors, including law enforcement.

The report warned of potential abuses through the irresponsible use of AI, including the erroneous assumptions by AI algorithms that could miscategorize people as terrorists or fraudsters, for example.

The report also voiced concerns about the inability for most AI models to explain their results, which it called the ‘black box problem’. Machine learning algorithms are not based on rules, instead using matrices of numbers, or ‘weights’, between large numbers of digital neurons.

The UN’s document also raised privacy concerns, arguing that AI tools don’t need to train themselves on personal data to infer results about a person’s behaviour.

“AI tools can make far-reaching inferences about individuals, including about their mental and physical condition, and can enable the identification of groups, such as people with particular political or personal leanings,” it warned.

The report suggested several measures to mitigate adverse effects on human rights. These include legislation and regulation, collaboration between the public and private sector, and due diligence when implementing AI systems. It also called for transparency about the nature of systems used, who is using them, and what for, along with what data they are using.

Transparency is something that the Federal Trade Commission has also advocated, but the UN has now gone further, advising governments to create registers containing this information.

“Artificial intelligence can be a force for good, helping societies overcome some of the great challenges of our times,” said Bachelet. “But AI technologies can have negative, even catastrophic, effects if they are used without sufficient regard to how they affect people’s human rights.”

The UN has been outspoken about the use of technology in the past, calling in August for a moratorium on the sale of surveillance technology and pointing out the use of spyware tools to tap smartphones.

Fuze deepens partnership with Microsoft Teams

Praharsha Anand

14 Sep, 2021

Web conferencing platform Fuze has extended its partnership with Microsoft to enhance Fuze for Teams.

Fuze for Microsoft Teams integrates Fuze Voice with Meetings, making it easy for users to call or meet from within their Microsoft ecosystem. In addition to Fuze Desktop, Web, and Mobile, Fuze for Teams is available across Teams environments.

According to the company, Fuze and Microsoft’s new strategic alliance will streamline workflows between Fuze and Teams. 

“Across the modern workforce, many employees must navigate between a range of communications platforms throughout their workday for internal and external meetings, including Microsoft Teams,” explained Fuze.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this challenge for employees, as organizations now rely on a myriad of communication solutions to remain productive in a remote or hybrid work environment.”

The company said the software’s new features allow for improved flexibility and a consistent calling experience across enterprise communication channels. The firm also outlined three key capabilities.

Firstly, Fuze now offers flexible direct routing for users with any Teams license, an upgrade of critical importance to customers seeking to have all their communications occur inside Microsoft Teams. Fuze has also expanded click-to-connect functionality allows customers to use Microsoft Teams with Fuze Calling and Meetings at no additional cost.

Finally, enhanced add-on capabilities allow Teams users to access and control their voicemail, check call history, expand their contact list, and access the Fuze Contact Center agent tab regardless of the routing option.

Fuze president and CEO Rob Scudiere said: “At Fuze, we are committed to meeting users where they work, which means eliminating as many barriers as possible to efficient and productive workflows that meet all of today’s communications needs.”

“These integration updates provide users with a flexible and consistent communications experience across the Fuze and Microsoft Teams platforms while enabling users to mix-and-match Fuze for Teams solutions depending on their unique use case. This is an important step towards more productive and efficient communications across the enterprise.”