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Where the cloud rises next

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A few years ago organizations around the world were discussing their migration to the cloud. Now that many of them have moved over what is next? ERIK ZANDBOER, Advisory Specialist EMEA at Dell EMC, shares his thoughts on where the cloud market is headed.

Go back a few years and cloud was very different. It mainly existed in name, hanging on the lips of vendors and the IT channel. Today that has flipped nearly 180 degrees…

“When we started talking about cloud, we spoke about the journey to the cloud. Everyone wanted to get there and nobody knew how. There were all kinds of definitions for cloud. Many people built things they called cloud, but it wasn’t cloud at all. Nowadays we see a shift. It’s the complete opposite. Customers are actually pulling for features. Now we hear ‘Why can’t you support X, because that’s simple.’ Initially we dragged customers, now they are dragging us!”

So says Erik Zandboer, Advisory Specialist EMEA at Dell EMC. While visiting South Africa, he shared his views on where the cloud market stands and is headed.

Cloud is quickly becoming the baseline for current and future technology investment and the reason is simple: cloud represents the rapid commoditization of IT infrastructure. The combination of distributed computing and high-speed connectivity is drastically reducing the cost of raw bit-crunching power, diminishing barriers of entry to such a degree that participating on a cloud platform is the equivalent of a personal (and affordable) supercomputer. Cloud is to industrial-scale computing what the smartphone is to the desktop computer. As a result anyone who wishes to remain relevant are building their applications and solutions in the cloud.

Fortunately the business is not ignorant and many large companies are already exploring the next stages of cloud adoption:

“They are looking at this cloud native stuff. It looks very promising and interesting. It’s way easier to deploy anywhere. You can deploy services to multiple clouds and just connect them together. As long as the microservices can find each other over the network, the application will work. That’s a whole other mode of operation and a lot of companies are willing to go in that direction. There are a lot of questions around Openstack, cloud native, devops and such things.”

Companies are starting to take ownership of this new methodology, jumping between their own exclusive private clouds and robust public clouds as project requirements change:

“We see companies that do development in their private data centres, and when they need to scale it out, they go to a public provider. We also see other companies do the exact opposite: developing in Amazon or similar, because it is so easy and flexible, then running their production on private cloud because most of the time it’s cheaper.”

Eventually workloads – the live versions of apps and data – will dynamically shuttle between various clouds, finding the best and most cost-effective platform for the job. Zandboer says this is already happening with VMware solutions:

“We see that with vCloud Air. You move your workload with very limited downtime from on-premise to off-premise and the other way around. There are complications: you need a low latency, high bandwidth network. The moment you move your workload, it needs to work. So there are a lot of implications. But VMWare is making great strides there.”

Zandboer is confident that in a few years this type of automation will be widespread. Companies will finally get rid of the headache of IT infrastructure they don’t need: “That would be very cool: to have a cloud marketplace and your workloads bound to SLAs, and a system looking at the SLA and the app, assigning the cloud that matches and is cheapest. That’s the ultimate dream for many.”

We aren’t there yet, which is why companies such as VMware and Dell EMC focus on creating seamless hardware and software environments. But that is the future of cloud: a world where infrastructure is irrelevant and the performance of business applications are all that matter.

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CES: Most useless gadgets of all

Choosing the best of show is a popular pastime, but the worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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