Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Five Ways to Make your IT Cloud-Ready



Cloud Computing is increasingly the deployment model of choice for enterprise workloads, causing public cloud spend to grow at a double-digit rate with no sign of slowing down. The issue is that most companies realize they can't transition everything at once - even if they wanted to - leaving IDC to predict that 58.7 percent infrastructure spend in 2017 will stay in the data center.

Regardless, the pressure is on and companies can’t afford to sit back and wait. The rising incidence of cyberattacks is making many companies re-evaluate their position on cloud; a recent Oracle survey showed that companies with a higher level of cloud maturity and exposure have higher levels of confidence in their cyber security capabilities and ability to detect cyber threats, than those early in their cloud journey.

In addition, organizations are striving to deliver innovation in unprecedented ways and, to support this, are looking for new ways of handling the increasing amount of data they are having to deal with every day. It is therefore very important that organizations take into consideration ways to handle the increasing amount of data being transferred into their systems every day. Having said this, finding the right application on platforms suitable to your company’s needs is essential. With business leaders pushing hard for cloud migration, how should IT leaders respond?


Plan for Tomorrow

There are a myriad of reasons for keeping applications in-house, such as regulatory compliance issues, security, data sovereignty requirements, the need for low latency, and use of custom legacy applications that won't run on public cloud platforms.

In many cases, what is needed is a cloud-ready architecture - including hardware operating systems, databases, and applications - that is consistent across on-premises and cloud environments. This will make it easier to transition when the time is right.

Mapping your cloud-ready journey: While the route will vary, depending on where an individual IT organization is starting, there are five typical use cases that describe the different requirements of each leg - and thus, the likely best path forward.

1. Streamline and modernize IT infrastructure

For a business without immediate plans to move to the cloud, but wants to streamline its infrastructure, pre-built converged infrastructure.

These modern systems that are architecturally compatible with those powering private cloud and public cloud services can deliver dramatic improvements in performance, availability, security, and efficiency while lowering operating costs, by replacing older, multi-vendor server, storage, and backup.

2. Accelerate time to value with appliances

Many IT organizations have to do more with less, and faster, to respond to competitive threats. In such situations, an appliance strategy can provide great benefit. Purpose built 'appliances' that are preconfigured to serve different purposes, such as to support databases, a private cloud environments, or big data workloads. They are easy to deploy and operate, requiring less time and fewer specialized IT skills.

3. Optimize and extend private cloud

For generic, noncritical workloads, many organizations first implement private cloud environments with the aim of lowering costs and achieving greater agility.

But most self-assembled, generic private clouds take months to build - decreasing agility - and require expensive personnel to build, tune, and manage.

Private cloud environments also often use virtualization software that may require expensive licenses and support contracts to run. Another challenge is that generic private clouds often treat all applications equally, they are not always appropriate for demanding and/or business-critical databases and applications.

One way to address these issues is to adopt purpose-built, cloud appliances that are consistent across environments, enabling organizations to implement a private cloud that is cost-optimized for generic applications and performance optimized for more critical applications. This provides an easy path to public or hybrid cloud, with unified management across environments.

4. Optimize and secure critical applications

For business-critical applications, in many cases, the infrastructure supporting them has been built over time, lags in modernization, and is an inconsistent mix of platforms.

The result is an overly complex environment that doesn't always deliver the required performance or security. A common solution is to employ high-end servers to optimize and ensure peak performance while improving efficiency with the highest security, whether implemented on-premises or in the cloud. Moving to a single platform will also bring cost savings and unified management.

5. Consolidate and protect data with advanced storage solutions

Finally, companies are facing data storage and protection challenges. With the explosion of data volumes, simply adding to an existing storage infrastructure is, in many cases, no longer affordable or cost-effective.

An alternative approach is to implement modern storage solutions engineered to address the risks of data loss and cut recovery times. These cloud-ready systems enable you to consolidate existing storage while ensuring the security of your data and dramatically improving performance.


Future 

For each of these use cases, having cloud-ready systems that have equivalents in the public cloud can allow the public cloud to appear as a compatible extension of what already runs in your data center, making it easier to move when you're ready.

The most powerful, unified cloud solutions available that best match your licensed environment and will help you modernize, innovate, and be one step ahead in a digital world. Complete and integrated cloud services can now deliver unprecedented availability, performance, and security — potentially at a significantly lower cost.

Even if you have no immediate plans to move to the cloud, it's a nice option to have. In the meantime, you're able to bring many benefits of the public cloud into your on-premises infrastructure. Wouldn't you like to be prepared for a cloud future?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Asia is the next frontier for AI development

Xuedong Huang, technical fellow in charge of Microsoft’s speech, natural language and machine translation efforts. (Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

In a few short years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been thrust into the limelight – elevating itself from a far-fetched, science-fiction topic to one that is currently dominating many conversations between customers, partners and industry leaders across Asia. The convergence of big data, ubiquitous and powerful cloud computing, along with breakthroughs in software algorithms and machine learning, have made exciting new scenarios in AI deployment a possibility.

Today, AI is at the center of the digital transformation of organizations and even nations. By 2019, IDC predicts that 40% of digital transformation initiatives in the region will be supported by AI.

(Read here about how digital transformation will contribute more than US$1 trillion to Asia Pacific GDP by 2021, where AI is a primary catalyst for further growth)

With imagination and plenty of data, AI can create vast benefits at scale. In Japan for example, where Miko, an AI-power chatbot and the star of new mobile travel app Japan Trip Navigatoris helping tourists in Japan navigate its streets. Created by Microsoft in partnership with travel agency JTB Corp and navigation firm NAVITIME Co, Miko provides travelers in Japan with real-time information from official sources as well as insights from other users of the apps. Miko can also help with hotel and other bookings on the app.

What’s more, one of the more advanced and interesting capabilities of Miko is that it is imbued with image recognition functions using Microsoft’s Cognitive Services AI platform, enabling her to provide information to users through the photos that they have taken.

Asia will be key to AI development globally

There are three reasons why Asia is uniquely placed to play a leading role in the development of AI at scale.

1. AI needs data: AI is dependent on data to perform; the more data that is fed into an AI system, the better it gets. Not only does Asia have the world’s largest population, it continues to be a region that is more digitally-connected than other parts of the globe and hence can provide the massive amounts of data that AI systems need to grow.

2. AI needs talent: Whilst we anticipate the mass adoption of AI this year, there is still a long way to go for more powerful and sophisticated AI programs to be developed. To do that will require a large and strong pool of science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) talents that technology companies and research bodies can tap into to advance AI capabilities. And this talent is increasingly likely to originate from Asia. According to UBS, by 2025 the combined AI talent pool of China and India alone will exceed that of the US.

3. AI needs adoption: As stated, the more data that is fed into an AI system, the better it gets. One of the unique aspects of Asia is its large youth population, that have been born into a digital world. The UN estimates that 60% of the world’s youth population is in Asia Pacific. These “digital natives” are more receptive to digital technologies enhancing their lives. Not only that, but many Asian countries are, historically, late adopters of legacy technology, enabling them to leapfrog other nations dependent on old infrastructure and embrace new ways of living and working.
Microsoft’s AI investment in Asia

With the immense growth potential of AI in Asia, Microsoft has identified four key building blocks to ensure people and organizations are able to harness AI optimally.

  1. Developing AI capabilities: The AI revolution will not happen without world-class STEM talents driving R&D, and creation of programs and applications. Collaboration among governments, industry bodies and organizations to develop AI capabilities in this region will need to be a focus. A good example of this is Microsoft’s investment of US$33 million in partnership with the Taiwanese Government to create a AI R&D Hub in Taiwan to help transform the island’s technology and industrial sector.

  1. Developing partner ecosystem: Microsoft is focused on transforming IT partner ecosystem across Asia to enable them to bring AI capabilities to the markets. In fact, they are committing $500m over the next two years to offer joint sales engagements with startups, along with access to our technology, and new community spaces that promote collaboration across local and global ecosystems.

  1. Creating the AI platform: Microsoft continues to strengthen its hyper-scale cloud platform – Microsoft Azure – and its ability to deliver AI programs at scale securely across the world. Today, Azure is available to customers in 140 countries worldwide via 50 Azure regions across the world, more than any other cloud provider, which includes 15 here in Asia. This offers customers and partners the platform needed to deliver

  1. Re-skilling Asia’s workforce: Microsoft is committed to working with public and private organizations to help re-skill existing workforce to thrive in a new AI-driven digital world. For example, the recently launched National Skills Program in South Australia provides digital skills to automotive supply chain workers whose roles were displaced by the closure of the Holden manufacturing plant in Elizabeth in late 2017.

Industry experts believe this to be Asia’s century. And AI offers the region an unprecedented opportunity for growth, productivity and innovation, as well as the potential to solve some of the region’s most important societal challenges.
It will certainly be an interesting ride; so strap in – the revolution is about to begin!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Experience huge savings, better internet with Converge ICT




For residential customers, now is the time to rejoice! Your endless worries about slow and expensive internet connectivity are definitely over.

The FiberX plans from Converge ICT Solutions, Inc., the pioneering company that introduced Filipinos to pure-fiber Internet connectivity, allow customers from residential areas to realize savings by as much as a whopping P8,000 on their budget. Get to experience fast Internet connectivity minus the delays, buffering, disconnections and other disruptions commonly associated with traditional—and slowly getting outdated—Internet connection options.

But more importantly, the FiberX plans provide customers with unlimited data allowance or absolutely “NO DATA CAP.” Converge ICT has put this as a standard feature across all FiberX plans and is not a promotional plan offered for a limited time only.

For new subscribers to FiberX Plan 1500, for example, you only pay as low as P1,500 up front (for security deposit while Installation fee  is staggered over 6 months), and you get internet connectivity of up to 25Mbps. This speed is perfect for home users with school-age kids who love to surf the Net for study or even play. 

However, despite the total cash outlay during installation while others offer Zero Cash Out, subscribers will still realize the P8,000 total cost savings in the long run or after the 24-month lock in period, and they get to enjoy speeds of up to 25Mbps compared to the current up to 20 Mbps offering in the market today.

Overall, the FiberX Plan 1500 comes out 47% more affordable per Mbps compared to the other Internet service providers.

For heavy Internet users out there—the content makers who develop and upload content (designers, YouTube-rs) and the emerging community of video bloggers (vloggers)—Converge ICT offers its FiberX Plan 2500 with 50Mbps speed and FiberX Plan 3500, which carries a 100Mbps connection. Both also come with no data cap. Even the Philippine e-sports gaming community will surely enjoy the pure, end-to-end fiber optic-fast Internet connection that Converge ICT offers through FiberX. Converge ICT FiberX plans are best known for highly symmetrical upload and download speeds and superbly low latency performance. This means no more delays in your Internet connection whether downloading movies, uploading big files like photos and videos, or even making calls to loved ones abroad using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) connections such as Viber, Skype or Facebook Messenger.

With FiberX, you can now stream your favorite music or movies, upload and download files quickly, or play your much-loved games with your friends and family as much as you like.  In fact, the world’s leading internet television network Netflix, in its January 2018 ISP Leaderboard results, has ranked Converge ICT as consistent number 1 ISP (Internet Service Provider) among all major ISPs in the Philippines. This means users will consistently enjoy Netflix’s original series, movies and documentaries with no interruption or lags, and no compromise in video quality since there is no data cap, for that totally awesome Internet watching experience.

So be the envy of neighbors in your community as you get to enjoy blazing-fast, 21st Century Internet connectivity any time and any day. Get the FiberX Plan 1500, the FiberX Plan 2500 at up to 50Mbps speed and the FiberX Plan 3500 with 100Mbps speed that suits your specific needs. These plans come with pure end-to-end fiber technology that’s light years better than the traditional—and much slower—Digital Subscriber Line (DSL). Now, get an enhanced online experience with better speed, larger bandwidth and consistent performance for either work or play that only Converge ICT can deliver.

For more updates about Converge ICT Solutions, Inc., visit their Official Facebook page @ConvergeICTOfficial, or visit  www.convergeict.com,