All posts by Carly Page

IBM buys Salesforce consultancy firm 7Summits


Carly Page

12 Jan, 2021

IBM has announced plans to acquire 7Summits, a consultancy firm that specialises in projects based on software as a service (SaaS) applications from Salesforce.

IBM said the deal, the financial terms of which have not yet been disclosed, “is part of a broader IBM investment strategy in services and ecosystem partnerships to enable our clients’ digital transformations through hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence (AI).”

Milwaukee-based 7Summits was founded in 2009 and designs and develops digital experiences with Salesforce solutions in order to help business improve customer relationship management (CRM), sales, and cost reduction.

The company, which has 66 employees across Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Austin and San Francisco, will join IBM’s Global Business Services’ Salesforce division, which IBM says is facing “rising client demand”. This is no doubt as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen organisations accelerate digital transformation projects in order to facilitate mass remote working.

“7Summits is part of a broader IBM investment strategy in services and ecosystem partnerships to enable our clients’ digital transformations through hybrid cloud and AI,” said Mark Foster, Senior Vice President, IBM Services.

“Salesforce plays a critical role in transforming customer, employee and partner lifecycle processes into intelligent workflows that deliver accelerated business outcomes.”

IBM added that, following the deal, its Global Business Services arm will significantly expand hiring, training and certifications to support key growth areas for Salesforce, including Tableau, Mulesoft, and Vlocity, while continuing to build out new Salesforce specific offerings that leverage IBM complementary capabilities and deep industry expertise.

Tyler Prince, executive vice president of Worldwide Alliances and Channels at Salesforce, commented: “Our partner ecosystem is a driving force of our growth, and the addition of 7Summits to IBM’s fast-growing Salesforce business will provide even more value for our customers’ digital transformations.

“The combination of both companies’ Salesforce consulting and design capabilities will help businesses in any industry keep pace with rapidly changing customer expectations, helping them thrive in an increasingly digital world.”

Dell’s new monitors feature a dedicated Microsoft Teams button


Carly Page

6 Jan, 2021

Dell has launched a new lineup of monitors that puts Microsoft Teams at the forefront as the company looks to capitalise on businesses’ continued reliance on video conferencing.

With the Dell 24, 27, and 34 Video Conferencing Monitors, the company claims it has created the “world’s first video conferencing monitors certified for Microsoft Teams”.

This comes after Microsoft started certifying displays, webcams, and headsets last year in a bid to ensure a range of devices could be offered to both consumers and business that required no additional configuration to interact with Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business.

The monitors’ dedicated Microsoft Teams button will let users quickly launch the app to make and receive video calls, while the onboard 5MP infrared camera, noise-cancelling microphone and dual 5-watt integrated speakers promise to deliver high-quality video calls.

The Dell 24, 37, and 34 Video Conferencing Monitors, with the numbers reflecting the size of each monitor in inches, will launch in the US on 16 February, priced at $519.99, £719.99 and $1,149.99. UK availability details have not yet been announced.

Dell has also updated its business laptop lineup ahead of next week’s all-digital CES conference. The new Dell Latitude 9420 and 9520 add Intel’s 11th Gen vPro chips, optional 5G support, and a new automated webcam shutter to physically shut off the camera when not in use.

The “SafeShutter”, which Dell claims is an “industry-first”, can open and close automatically when the webcam is in use, but the laptops also feature dedicated “mute” keys to manually disable the microphone or camera as needed.

The 14-inch Dell Latitude 9420 will be available this month, while availability details for the 15.6-inch Latitude 9520 have not yet been announced.

Dell has also unveiled the Latitude 7520 with a 15-inch 4K UHD display and an optional full high-definition camera, and has updated its Latitude 5000 series and Precision 3560 PCs with new bioplastic designs that the company claims will help it to achieve its moonshot goal to have half of its products’ content be made of recycled materials by 2030.

IBM to axe 10,000 staff in Europe ahead of legacy IT spin off


Carly Page

25 Nov, 2020

IBM is planning to cut around 10,000 jobs in Europe as it prepares to spin off its legacy IT unit. 

Bloomberg reports that the losses will affect about 20% of IBM staff in the region. The majority of the cuts will be made in the UK and Germany, people familiar with the matter told the publication, with IBM also planning cuts in Poland, Slovakia, Italy and Belgium.

IBM’s legacy IT services business, which handles infrastructure operations such as managing client data centres and operating equipment, will be the hardest hit, according to the report.

The company announced in October that it planned to spin off this business into a separate public company in order to focus on AI capabilities and hybrid cloud, which IBM CEO Arvind Krishna described as a $1 trillion opportunity. The company hopes that separating its two businesses will help return it to revenue growth. 

This latest round of job cuts, which comes after IBM in May announced plans to reduce its headcount, was reportedly announced earlier this month during a meeting with European labour representatives, according to a union officer briefed on proceedings.

The jobs cuts are expected to be completed by the first half of 2021, while the tax-free spin-off of its legacy IT unit will be completed by the end of next year.

Google extends Chrome support for Windows 7 until 2022


Carly Page

23 Nov, 2020

Google has announced that its extending Chrome support for enterprises using Windows 7 until at least 15 January 2020. 

Back in January, Google announced that it would stop supporting the browser on Windows 7 from 15 July 2021. However, in a post on the Google Cloud blog, the company has revealed that its extending support for an additional six months, with support now set to end in January 2022. 

The company said it’s decided to extend support due to the difficulties businesses have faced due to the remote working arrangements necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This year has presented a lot of challenges for organisations of all sizes,” said Max Christoff, engineering director of Google Chrome. “Facing difficult business and technology decisions, supporting a changing work environment, and navigating uncertainty are among just a few of the issues IT leaders have faced over the course of 2020.”

The decision has also been spurred by the fact that a significant proportion of businesses are still using the decade-old operating system. Although Microsoft stopped providing security updates for Windows 7 in January this year, Google’s figures show that 21% of organisations using Chrome on Windows 7 are still working to migrate over to Windows 10

“While the past few months served as a catalyst for technology investments and digital transformation initiatives for many organizations, for others, some planned IT projects may have had to take a back seat.

“Our hope is that this extension gives our enterprise customers the flexibility they need to continue supporting their workforce, while moving off of Windows 7 as their situation allows.”

News of this six-month extension comes just days after Google debuted Chrome 87, which it claims “represents the largest gain in Chrome performance in years”. The company claims the update has the potential to reduce CPU usage by up to five times and to extend battery life by up to 1.25 hours. 

Zoom starts rolling out end-to-end encryption for all users


Carly Page

27 Oct, 2020

Zoom has started rolling out end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to both free and paying users. 

E2EE is now available in technical preview on the Zoom desktop client version for macOS and Windows, the Zoom Android app and Zoom Rooms, with the Zoom iOS app currently pending App Store approval. 

Zoom’s E2EE uses the same 256-bit AES-GCM encryption that secures Zoom meetings by default. Account administrators can enable the feature in the web dashboard at an account, group, and user level, and participants must also enable the feature to join a meeting with end-to-end encryption.

When E2EE is enabled, nobody except each participant – not even Zoom’s meeting servers – has access to the encryption keys that are used to secure the meeting.

However, the company has warned that at least in the first stage of the four-phase rollout, E2EE will block certain Zoom functions, including cloud recording, streaming, live transcription, Breakout Rooms, polling, 1:1 private chat, and meeting reactions.

“End-to-end encryption is another stride toward making Zoom the most secure communications platform in the world,” said Zoom CEO Eric S. Yuan.

“This phase of our E2EE offering provides the same security as existing end-to-end-encrypted messaging platforms, but with the video quality and scale that has made Zoom the communications solution of choice for hundreds of millions of people and the world’s largest enterprises.”

Phase 2 of the E2EE rollout is “tentatively roadmapped” for 2021, according to Zoom. 

The rollout of end-to-end encryption comes five months after Zoom initially announced plans to add support for the security standard. However, at the time it said it would only be available for businesses and institutions that pay for a premium Zoom subscription. Following backlash from users and privacy activists, Zoom backtracked two week’s later and announced that it would make E2EE available to both free and paying users. 

Twilio reportedly mulling £2.45 billion takeover of CRM startup Segment


Carly Page

12 Oct, 2020

Twilio is rumoured to be planning an acquisition of customer relationship management (CRM) startup Segment in a deal worth $3.2 billion (£2.45 billion). 

Twilio, which currently has a market cap of $43.83 billion, has agreed to buy Segment in a deal that could be officially announced as soon as this week, according to Forbes. The acquisition would be Twilio’s largest to date, following its $2 billion takeover of SendGrid in 2018.

Twilio’s technology allows developers to build software that can make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, and perform other communication functions using its web service APIs. The company, which counts Twitter, Uber, and Amazon’s Twitch among its customers, has seen its stock price triple since the beginning of the year as companies rushed to modernise their apps and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Segment, which boasts big-name customers including VMware, Trivago and IBM, provides a set of APIs to pull together customer data from a variety of sources, including CRM tools, customer service applications, and websites. However, the company hasn’t fared so well during the pandemic, with Segment laying off 10% of its 550 staff in May in anticipation of a “tougher IT spending environment”.

However, the company said in September that it now has over 20,000 customers, up from 19,000 at the time of the layoffs.

It’s believed Twilio will use the acquisition to expand beyond its core communications capabilities to create customised ads or emails using data gathered using Segment’s technology.

A Twilio spokesperson told Forbes that it does not comment “on any rumors or speculation”, and Segment also declined to comment on the rumour.

Microsoft 365 outage hits Azure, Outlook and Teams


Carly Page

29 Sep, 2020

Microsoft 365 is back online after suffering a major global service outage on Monday. 

The outage, which lasted for more than five hours, affected Microsoft services including Azure, Outlook.com, Office.com, Power Platform, Dynamics365, and Microsoft Teams.

The downtime affected “millions” of users of Microsoft’s cloud-based services, according to reports, but Microsoft said people who were logged into an existing 365 session were still able to keep using the service.

“Affected users are encouraged to keep existing sessions going and to avoid re-authenticating to Microsoft 365 services,” the company said. “Any Microsoft 365 service that leverages Azure Active Directory (AAD) authentication may be impacted by this issue.”

Microsoft initially said the problem was linked to a recent update and restored the software to an earlier version. However, that fix failed to restore services.

“Rolling back the previously described change did not resolve the incident as expected,” Microsoft said on its Office.com status page. “We’re evaluating additional options to remediate the problem.”

About two hours later the company said it was seeing improvements after putting in place alternative mitigation steps. 

“After extended monitoring of our service, we have confirmed that the issue has been fully mitigated and is running within optimal service levels,” it said. 

The Microsoft 365 outage, which comes just months after Microsoft Teams went down across Europe, comes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen employees rely on cloud-based productivity tools like Microsoft Teams as they carry out their roles remotely. In April, Microsoft reported 75 million daily active users of Teams as a result of more people working from home.

Several Twitter users also complained that the outage meant they could miss their job interviews and deadlines for school assignments.

Microsoft said it will be reviewing its code to understand what prevented users from being able to access multiple Microsoft 365 services.

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 Salesforce.com – 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.