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MWC: VMware moves to edge computing

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VMware has unveiled an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy to deliver new edge computing solutions for specific use cases, such as Asset Management and Smart Surveillance at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, VMware unveiled an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy to deliver new edge computing solutions for specific use cases, such as Asset Management and Smart Surveillance. These edge solutions will feature VMware vSAN hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) software, VMware vSphere and VMware Pulse IoT Center, and will be developed in collaboration with industry-leading partners.

VMware sees unique requirements and environments at the edge and will address them through use case specific solutions spanning:

  • Industrial remote IoT use cases such as oil well optimisation, utility grids, and smart city use cases where the things reside in ruggedised, disparate, outdoor and often times, remote locations with inconsistent network and power;
  • Factory and plants in support of closed networks, ruggedised indoor environments; and,
  • Branches and in-stores in support of unique space and power requirements and coordinated across many stores.

IoT introduces a new wrinkle in today’s centralised data center/cloud model. A new class of cost-effective edge infrastructure is required to process data inputs from millions or even billions of IoT endpoints that are separated from the core data center or the public cloud by bandwidth. This new infrastructure must be simple to manage as there are no IT specialists at the edge; cost-effective as the volume of edge installations is large; and, scalable to allow edge installations to grow over time.

“By 2022, as a result of digital business projects, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside the traditional, centralised data center or cloud, which is an increase from less than today’s 10%,” according to Gartner. (1) Local analytics offer faster response times, reduced storage costs, and an optimum use of bandwidth while also supporting data privacy and compliance requirements.

VMware to Deliver HCI Solutions for the Edge

HCI and VMware Pulse IoT Center are ideally suited to process and secure sensor data that bridges the physical and digital worlds. VMware is working on providing more efficient and more secure IoT infrastructure that is easy to manage, scale, and update so customers can accelerate IoT initiatives and realise ROI faster. Based on the leading hyper-converged solution, these edge solutions will feature real-time analytics in support of IoT initiatives where customers will have the choice of licensing third-party business analytics starter kits, in partnership with industry leaders, to help with content analytics and drive business decisions.

VMware offers a full ecosystem of server hardware for Edge infrastructure or gateway solutions depending on use case needs, environment, and desired rugged ability. These new solutions include VMware Pulse IoT Center for management, monitoring, and security of all edge systems/gateways and connected devices such as sensors and the appropriate management and security solution to support compute and storage infrastructure and applications across the edge.

VMware to Collaborate with Axis Communications and Dell EMC for Smart Surveillance Solution

VMware and Axis Communications are collaborating on an IoT solution for the surveillance industry. The solution will feature Axis Communications’ state of the art surveillance capabilities including IP cameras as well as 4G/LTE routers which can be deployed to protect properties, stores, and employees. With VMware Pulse IoT Center, customers will have a way to manage, monitor, and secure their Axis Communications cameras and routers. Initially, the solution will be available on a choice of Dell EMC servers and include the option of Dell Edge Gateways. Additionally, VMware is working with financial services organisations to develop the modern bank of the future using surveillance to optimise security and the customer experience.

VMware, Dell Technologies and Wipro Limited Team Up on IoT Solution for Manufacturers and Asset Management Services 

VMware and Wipro Limited, a leading global information technology, consulting and business process services company, are working together to offer manufacturers a complete edge to cloud IoT solution. The benefits of improved efficiency and productivity of machinery and other assets across the shop floor have the potential to contribute significant returns to manufacturers. Featuring Wipro’s IoT offerings, including its Looking Glass asset management platform and services capability, the solution will integrate multiple IoT platforms which are either hosted on-premises or in the cloud. By connecting their IoT environment to their data centers, customers will benefit from deeper analytics and machine learning. Wipro will also be one of the first system integrators to provide installation and management services for VMware’s IoT Edge solutions.

Manufacturers can use Wipro’s IoT Platform and analytics capabilities for real-time data processing and for predictive failure analytics for devices and equipment on the manufacturing floor. VMware Pulse IoT Center helps manage, monitor, and secure assets and data in facilities as well as the edge infrastructure. By combining Wipro’s complete IoT Platform and analytics capabilities with VMware’s Pulse IoT Center, customers have access to a complete and seamless solution.

VMware Supports Edge Computing Research

VMware, in conjunction with the National Science Foundation (NSF), has announced a new solicitation on Edge Computing Data Infrastructure for research that advances the state of the art in end-to-end networked systems architecture that includes edge infrastructures. VMware will fund two awards valued at a total of $6 million for U.S. university faculty members. Additional information is available here.

Supporting Quotes

“Building an edge computing solution today is a time-intensive exercise most enterprises can’t afford. Today, VMware unveils hyper-converged edge computing solutions that are cost-effective and will enable customers to build and scale secure, use case-specific IoT solutions that work for them from the edge all the way to the cloud, relying on proven, tested software they already use and trust. Together with ecosystem partners Axis, Wipro Limited and Dell EMC, we’re excited to deliver the first of many tailored solutions to meet the unique IoT needs of our enterprise customers,” said Ray O’Farrell, executive vice president & chief technology officer, VMware.

“With the convergence of IT and security top of mind for the industry, we’re excited to collaborate with VMware on an IoT solution for the surveillance industry,” said Scott Dunn, senior director, Business Development Solutions & Services, Axis Communications, Inc. “This collaboration will give us an outstanding opportunity to deliver a better experience for our mutual customers by providing a leading edge IoT platform and management solution.”

“Our partnership with VMware and Dell Technologies complements our end-to-end IoT solutions and enables us to realise business outcomes for our customers,” said Jayraj Nair, vice president and global head of IoT, Wipro Limited. “Asset management, smart manufacturing, logistics and supply chain solutions enabled by IoT technologies are ushering in new levels of operational efficiency for our global clients.”

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VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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