Huawei Connect 2019: When It Comes to Combating Global Politics, Huawei Is Taking the Long View with Its AI Portfolio

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Though unacknowledged, Huawei responded to growing global criticisms at its annual Connect Conference in Shanghai by introducing several new products in support of its full-stack, all-scenario AI portfolio.
  • With several new solutions spanning AI training and algorithm execution hardware, cloud services, open source projects, and ecosystem investments, Huawei intends to build a vibrant, sizable, and influential ecosystem of partners.

Huawei may be facing a global and escalating chorus of scrutiny, criticism, and outright censure right now over whether or not enterprise buyers should trust the Chinese technology giant. But, here in Shanghai, China at Huawei’s Connect 2019 conference, the skies are blue, the temperature is temperate, and the trees appear ready to don their glorious autumnal colors at any moment. This was the sentiment – only slightly paraphrased – delivered as a response to these challenges by Huawei’s Deputy Chairman and Rotating CEO, Ken Hu, during the opening keynote on Wednesday. Continue reading “Huawei Connect 2019: When It Comes to Combating Global Politics, Huawei Is Taking the Long View with Its AI Portfolio”

In a Containerized World, Does the Cloud Really Matter Anymore?

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

• These days, everyone is doing containerization in a mad, industry-wide rush toward what appears to be true cross-cloud compatibility.

• However, enterprise buyers need to be aware that when it comes to containerization and microservices, there’s a huge difference between compatibility and capability.

Back in 1964, media futurist Marshall McLuhan penned the often repeated but somewhat baffling phrase, “the medium is the message,” in an attempt to highlight the importance of the “where and how” of storytelling. To Mr. McLuhan, a film, a novel, and a comic may all tell the exact same story about a boy and his dragon, but importantly each would do so using very different conventions regarding the unfolding of the story, let’s say the manner in which each handles flashbacks. Those differences in turn shape our understanding of the story in unique ways.

Flash forward to the present and among technology providers, particularly those endeavoring to make the architectural leap from premises to cloud, Mr. McLuhan’s more than 55 year old notion seems strangely applicable if not downright prophetic. Let me explain: as a global market trend, the idea of abstraction through containerization technologies like Docker has entirely reshaped the global software landscape, forever altering the way developers create software. In short, abstractions allows developers to write once and run “virtually” anywhere by turning monolithic applications into a series of highly standardized yet extremely malleable microservices. Continue reading “In a Containerized World, Does the Cloud Really Matter Anymore?”

At Last, We Can Bid a Fond Farewell to Microsoft’s Troubled Skype for Business Online

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Starting on September 1, 2019, Microsoft will begin onboarding new Office 365 users directly into Microsoft Teams, in essence removing the option for customers to run both Teams and the soon-to-be-retired Skype for Business Online.
  • Though somewhat extreme, this migration plan has been coming on for some time now, frankly ever since Microsoft introduced Microsoft Teams in 2017.

Via blog post earlier this week, Microsoft made the wholly unsurprising announcement that it would officially retire its long-term messaging solution, Skype for Business Online, on July 31st, 2021. Unlike many similar migration plans, where rival products can linger for years after closure, Microsoft does not intend to let Skype for Business Online slowly fade away. Continue reading “At Last, We Can Bid a Fond Farewell to Microsoft’s Troubled Skype for Business Online”

Forget Flashy Consumer 5G Potentialities; For Manufacturers Like Samsung, the Need is Real and Right Now

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

• Late last week AT&T and Samsung together cut the ribbon on a co-developed 5G Innovation Zone that had nothing at all to do with consumer 5G future opportunities.

• Rather, the new facility, housed within Samsung Austin Semiconductor’s Austin Texas fabrication plant, showcased several ways high speed cellular can both modernize and optimize manufacturing processes.

If you travel a few miles northeast of Austin, Texas, you’ll find among the gentle rolling hills an undistinguished 300-acre facility dedicated to the fabrication of semiconductors (aka computer chips) for networking, high performance computing, IoT, and of course mobile devices. And if you look carefully within the foyer of this 20+ year old foundry, you’ll find a somewhat unassuming highly rectangular room peppered with Ikea-styled demonstration tables and plain black monitors that when considered together scream out in all caps: “5G IS VERY REAL, RIGHT NOW!”

But not as you’d think.
Continue reading “Forget Flashy Consumer 5G Potentialities; For Manufacturers Like Samsung, the Need is Real and Right Now”

Salesforce.com Asks AI-Curious Customers to First Invest in an Ethical Groundwork

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

• There has been a significant rush among technology providers to make artificial intelligence (AI) a self-service endeavor, to make it available to the broadest possible swath of business users.

• But in so doing, companies are creating unanticipated legal exposure for AI practitioners unprepared to protect AI from human bias.

Salesforce.com has added a new AI learning module to its Trailhead developer education platform with an interesting twist. Rather than teach developers how to build AI outcomes most efficiently, the company’s newest educational module asks that practitioners slow down and focus on creating ethically informed AI solutions.

The new Trailhead educational module entitled, “Responsible Creation of Artificial Intelligence,” calls attention to an often overlooked threat from AI, namely unwitting human biases and intentional human prejudices.

Within these new training materials, Salesforce.com calls on Salesforce.com Einstein developers to adopt its own set of core values of “trust, customer success, innovation, and equality.” The company goes so far as to suggest that developers who fail to adhere to these standards in creating AI algorithms may find themselves in breach of its acceptable use policy.

Why is Salesforce.com referencing an acceptable use policy in conjunction with the ethical use of AI? Surely companies not engaged in outright nefarious endeavors would steer clear of anything overtly illegal in building AI outcomes. Certainly legislative controls such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are very clear about what constitutes an unlawful use of consumer data. Companies need only adhere to such policies to avoid potential litigation or censure, right?

Not necessarily, because human biases and prejudices can find their way into any AI-informed solution without detection. Throughout the lifecycle of a given AI solution, from data collection to ongoing maintenance, subtle but hugely impactful notions of partiality can find their way in, thereafter altering the decisions made by both humans and AI automated routines.
Continue reading “Salesforce.com Asks AI-Curious Customers to First Invest in an Ethical Groundwork”

Graph DB Makers Neo4J and TigerGraph Explore Bring Your Own Database Cloud Options

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

• In order to do AI, IoT, and other big data-dependent projects right, companies are beyond the confines of traditional relational databases.

• Two recent, related partnerships between highly specialized “graph” database developers, Neo4J and TigerGraph, and public cloud platform providers, Amazon and Google, underscores the importance surfacing insights that would otherwise remain hidden within traditional database architectures.

Organizations anxious to put AI to work as a means of driving innovation must first invest in big data. AI algorithms and predictive models are nothing without a constant influx of high quality data. The trouble is that not all data is created equal, at least in terms of its ability to match the demands of a given initiative, be that AI, IoT, mobility, or edge computing.

Such specific demands in turn drive the adoption of highly specialized data architecture, extending down to the database itself. There are traditional relational databases as well as those specializing in key-values, document storage, in-memory processing, time-series evaluation, transaction ledgers, and graph analysis. Each in turn solves very specific problems – e.g., self-driving cars won’t work without an underlying database capable of performing time-series analysis.
Continue reading “Graph DB Makers Neo4J and TigerGraph Explore Bring Your Own Database Cloud Options”

Meet the New BlackBerry: Unique Potential Wrapped in the Enigma of AI, Smothered with Cybersecurity Sauce

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Surprise! BlackBerry is no longer a languishing phone company struggling to remain relevant opposite powerhouse consumer hardware manufacturers Apple, Samsung, Google, et al.
  • Now a pure software developer with positive revenue numbers, the firm is embarking on an AI-powered journey of trusted and safe communications across a small number of very distinct but highly lucrative markets.

I have always had a soft spot for aging technology. I miss my clear case Apple Newton (stolen) and regret that I can no longer fire up my IBM ThinkPad 701 (the one with the butterfly keyboard). In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Nintendo Game Boy this past week, I even pulled out my Game Boy Pocket (also clear case) for a few rounds of Asteroids and Mortal Kombat II. And even though I never owned a BlackBerry phone, I miss the company’s long-standing dedication to the highly effective but now outdated concept of an actual, qwerty keyboard. Continue reading “Meet the New BlackBerry: Unique Potential Wrapped in the Enigma of AI, Smothered with Cybersecurity Sauce”

Microsoft Unveils Bosque, Throwing Yet Another Stone Into an Ocean of Programming Languages

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Microsoft’s new Bosque programming language may never rival top-tier options like Python or JavaScript; it might even fail miserably as an active language, drowning amid a sea of available options.
  • But, if that failure improves the state of software development, Bosque will have succeeded admirably.

What’s wrong with JavaScript, Java, C++, C#, Python, Ruby, and the two hundred-plus active programming languages available in the market today? Do we really need one more programming language? Apparently, the folks in Redmond, Washington think so. Continue reading “Microsoft Unveils Bosque, Throwing Yet Another Stone Into an Ocean of Programming Languages”

More Than Governmental Oversight, Responsible AI Takes a Village

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • What do Facebook’s ‘10-Year Challenge,’ Domino’s ‘Points for Pies’ app, and the early detection of diabetic retinopathy all have in common? They prove the difficulty in separating the peril from the promise of AI.
  • More importantly, however, they illuminate the need for an enforceable code of ethics that includes all ecosystem participants.

Technology providers have long trumpeted the importance of responsible artificial intelligence (AI). We began writing about this issue back in 2016, when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella suggested that developers stop focusing on good versus evil AI and instead concentrate on the “values instilled in the people and institutions creating this technology.” Continue reading “More Than Governmental Oversight, Responsible AI Takes a Village”

Amazon re:Invent 2018: Say Goodbye to Best-of-Breed and Hello to Best-of-Need Applications

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • At its annual re:Invent 2018 conference, Amazon Web Services rolled out a blinding number of micro-specialized solutions that emphasize ‘best of need’ over ‘best of breed.’
  • But, there’s a danger lurking in this seeming freedom to adopt and combine capabilities at will, namely a new form of vendor lock-in.

At Amazon Web Services re:Invent 2018 this past week, attendees were treated to an avalanche of product launches and pre-release announcements. On display were three new data management services, four new Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities, eight new storage offerings, and thirteen new machine learning (ML) libraries — all designed to encourage developers to build and deploy solutions on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform. And that’s just the software dealing with big data and analytics. Continue reading “Amazon re:Invent 2018: Say Goodbye to Best-of-Breed and Hello to Best-of-Need Applications”