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VMware ‘pivots’ into cybersecurity company

At VMworld in Barcelona this week, VMware unveiled a wide-ranging vision of “intrinsic security” that sends a message to all major IT firms, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Cloud architecture leaders VMware all but reinvented itself as a cybersecurity provider this week, as it unveiled a wide range of new and expanded security solutions. It may not have been a pivot into a new form of business, but its announcements underlined the extent to which any major information technology organisation has to put cybersecurity at the core of its solutions. In effect, all businesses have to become cybersecurity businesses.

VMware describes its vision as “intrinsic security”, which makes security more automated, proactive and pervasive across the entire distributed enterprise. Intrinsic security, says VMware, reduces the risk to critical applications, sensitive data, and users “by shrinking the attack surface across clouds, data centres, end users, and the enterprise edge”.

At its annual VMworld Europe conference in Barcelona on Tuesday, VMware announced the following:

  • Dell will make Carbon Black Cloud, along with Dell Trusted Devices and Secureworks, the preferred endpoint security solution for Dell commercial customers;
  • New VMware NSX Distributed Intrusion Detection and Prevention;
  • New VMware NSX Federation for consistent, centralised network and security policy configuration and management for large-scale NSX deployments;
  • Enhanced VMware SD-WAN branch firewall performance, flexibility and usability features;
  • VMware Secure State updates that reduce public cloud risk and improve security posture;
  • A new Zero-Trust security architecture for the digital workspace.

This wide-ranging set of announcements comes barely a month after Oracle Open World (OOW) in San Francisco, where database software leaders Oracle announced its own wide-ranging set of security solutions. The emphasis at OOW was on making security autonomous, meaning that it is self-managing and self-correcting. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison styled it as the “self-driving” approach to cloud management and security. 

The latest updates to VMware Secure State, which was first made available in June, provides similar functionality, although not the same level of autonomy. VMware last year unveiled Project Magma, which CEO Pat Gelsinger has described as the true AI/ML “self-driving data centre’.  

While Oracle and VMware may seem to be competing for ownership of this vision, the former surprised the market at OOW when it announced a strategic partnership with VMware, allowing customers to run VMware Cloud Foundation on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

Sanjay Poonen, chief operating officer of VMware, told Gadget during VMworld: “I find it very interesting at Oracle Open World that Larry talked about two of his strategic vendors in partnership, VMware and Microsoft. I didn’t think that day would ever happen. Hell would sooner freeze over than Oracle embrace VMware. So If VMware technology can help them be more secure as part of that stack… if they can keep their stack and infrastructure secure, we are certainly powering a lot now of what they are trying to do in the cloud and networking. More power to them.”

In a formal announcement of VMware’s new security offerings, Poonen elaborated on the vision of intrinsic security:

“VMware believes we have to stop adding more and more complexity in an effort to solve cybersecurity challenges, and instead use our infrastructure as part of the solution. In short, we must make security intrinsic. VMware is shifting the balance of power from attackers to defenders by removing the complexity inherent with cybersecurity. 

“VMware is delivering intrinsic security through a comprehensive portfolio spanning the critical control points of security: network, endpoint, workload, identity, cloud, and analytics. Because we’re built-in, we’re everywhere apps, devices, and users reside. This gives us a unique vantage point to be informed about what’s happening in a customer’s environment. With this knowledge, we can be proactive in hardening customers’ environments to better prevent threats.”

Click here to read about VMware’s new security offerings in detail.

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How panic-buying disrupts traditional supply chains

Panic buying has become commonplace during the COVID-19 crisis. PAULO DE MATOS, chief product officer at SYSPRO, outlines how good technology and ingenuity is panic-proof.

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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the world cannot afford for manufacturing and distribution to grind to a halt. From food on our shelves, to medical necessities, these sectors are at the heart of our economy and must keep going at all costs. Although the global supply chain is usually a well-oiled machine consisting of a system of organizations, people, processes, information and resources, disruption of this well-oiled machine has become the new reality. According to a new survey released by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), 75% of companies worldwide have reported supply chain disruptions as a result of COVID-19.  Added to that is the increasingly unpredictable demand caused by panic buying and consumer stockpiling.  

Reinventing the supply chain to face the challenges of today 

In response to the pandemic, manufacturers and distributors have had to pivot in a new direction, to turn the supply chain challenge into a competitive advantage through ingenuity.  

The US recently invoked the Defense Production Act to allow American manufacturers to suspend their normal production schedules and begin manufacturing materials such as ventilators, which are needed in this time of crisis. The Act, which was originally passed in 1950, was a war mobilization effort. It allowed the government to direct efforts of manufacturers to focus production on the much-needed necessities in times of need, from medical supplies through to necessary disinfection products.  

Australia has applied a similar approach through the implementation of ‘wartime’ manufacturing. Due to a shortage of necessities like ventilators and hand sanitizers, the Australian government is offering financial packages that incentivize factories to manufacture critical supplies. For example, one of Australia’s biggest packaging companies, Pact Group, is converting production lines at three of its Sydney plants as it starts making hand sanitizer for the first time, instead of industrial cleaners.  

Within Canada and South Africa, distilleries have also committed to supplying alcohol, a key ingredient in hand sanitizer.  

Using technology to ensure long-term resilience 

Until recently, China has consistently supplied global manufacturers with the bulk of their required components, raw materials and or processed materials. Presently, 6 in 10 (62%) of the respondents of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) survey have reported that they have experienced increasing delays in receiving orders from China. This is of course just the tip of the iceberg, with the pandemic now impacting almost every country in the world; delays are going to begin affecting deliveries from every country, and the lateness of the delivery is expected to increase.  With the increasing shortages of parts, global manufacturers are now scrambling to identify alternative suppliers and supply chains to make up for the missed deliveries. 

Technology systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, can certainly improve the situation by giving manufacturers improved visibility of the reliable local suppliers and their supply chains. Through ERP integration, representatives from different supplier companies can interact on a single platform, improving the flow and availability of information and improving the reliability of delivery. For example, the SYSPRO Supply Chain Portal was originally launched with a Request for Quote capability, which enabled the formal invitation of suppliers to tender for the supply of goods and services. Not only can manufacturers identify local suppliers who can meet their orders in a time of scarcity, but manufacturers themselves could easily find alternative suppliers.  

ERP also has the added advantage of reducing document handling and other manual activities and facilitates cross functional collaboration by enabling an online process for engaging with customers and suppliers. What’s more, planned receiving and manufacturing process steps can be amended temporarily in your ERP system to include additional Quality Assurance.  For example, the wiping down of surfaces and spraying of goods with appropriate chemical or detergent cleansers and adding waiting times before issue or delivery. 

In times of unforeseen scarcity, as the world is currently experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that the supply chain is kept open and full.  The challenge that the company faces is to identify the cheapest and easiest way to accomplish this, using their own unique combination of technology and ingenuity.  If there is surplus stock in the supply chain, the surplus could easily be sold onto neighbouring organizations – after all, the function of a manufacturing organization is to fulfil whatever is identified as a shortage in the economy. 

Managing disruption in the long-term 

The World Economic Forum has suggested that moving forward after this pandemic, there will be a “new normal”, a need to manage disruption by developing predictive models for proactive scheduling, and dynamic planning of supply with careful consideration of the uncertainties and risks. This change will most likely usher in the next level of digital transformation, based on the collection and analysis of data from various disparate applications.  

Ultimately, having the right combination of technology and dynamic ingenuity will allow manufacturers to weather the storm and navigate the unknown, bringing with it the success of discovering “the new world.” 

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ASUS puts more screen into gaming

While others battle over the thinnest bezel for maximizing screen space, ASUS released a dual screen laptop that uses the space where one’s palms would usually rest, writes BRYAN TURNER

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When one imagines dual screen, it’s usually two screens side-by-side on a desk, providing a horizontally long desktop experience. There have been clunky dual screen laptops in the past, some that folded out horizontally, but these never really caught the attention of the consumer.  

Enter Asus with the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15. Like the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, the ROG Zephyrus Duo features two screens – the main screen on the top panel (as we’re all used to) and another screen just below that, where the top of the keyboard would usually be. The main difference is the secondary screen pops out at a 13-degree angle to bridge the gap between the two screens, and to give better viewing angles.  

That ZenBook Pro Duo is also a pretty good machine for gaming, because it features Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics, but it doesn’t have the latest graphics. With the new machine, Asus is one of the first manufacturers to release a laptop featuring Nvidia’s latest RTX 2080 Super Max Q GPU for mobile devices. This is a momentous feat, considering that not only are the external features  cutting edge, but also the internals. 

The main panel is configured to be either 4K 60Hz or 1080p 300Hz. The former is most likely going to be picked up by video editors and photoshop gurus, because it covers 100% of the Adobe RBG colour space, and the latter will appeal to gamers who want to see their high frame rates in action. Both panels are Pantone Colour Calibrated for high colour accuracy. 

The secondary panel features a 32:9 resolution, which is equal to putting two standard 16:9 widescreen panels together. The touchscreen panel outputs a 3840 x 1100 resolution at 60Hz.  

The combination of these panels will be ideal for portable gamers. The main game can be on the main panel, while Discord and game streaming software can be on the secondary panel, all at a glance. Not to mention the game developers that have support for two screens, where the second screen highlights stats and other components that had to be crammed into the main screen’s space.   

On the inside, the laptop features liquid metal cooling, which lowers the temperatures by 8°C and allows the computer to function with less fan noise. Asus has also slipped some very interesting cooling tech behind the secondary panel, when it pops open, to maximise airflow into the computer from both the bottom and the top of the device. 

The laptop features the biggest battery Asus has yet put in a computer, at 90Wh. This is incredibly close to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA’s) limit of 100Wh batteries being allowed on flights to the US. Fortunately, this computer can be taken around the world if necessary. 

These computers will come in two variants of 10th Generation Intel processors, namely the i9-10980HK or i7-10875H. They support up to 2 M.2 NVMe PCIE 3 slots for SSDs. 

The new ROG gaming range from Asus will be available later this year. The price of the computer has not yet been confirmed

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