This week’s technology news – 20th June 2014

Euro business facing tech deficit creates opportunity for leading IT MSPs
A new report fielding results from over 850 Euro technology decision makers, has identified 72% of Euro businesses acknowledge they face a moderate or significant tech deficit as they weigh up their commercial plans against their ability to support their existing IT infrastructure.

The research marks a change in outlook as 76% of companies are seeing suppliers more as partners. In addition to this, 63% saw benefits in using providers with a range of IT service and infrastructure solution offerings, creating a complete portfolio of solutions, as opposed to businesses relying on a chain of individual suppliers.

Most prominent on the shopping list for priority tech resolution in the next 2 years were: voice and communications (88%), data centre infrastructure (90%) and network infrastructure (85%).
The researchers found that the use of a service based model would become more important, with IaaS, SaaS and data centre colocation to increase resilience, expected to grow by 52%, 55% and 33% respectively.

The report also identified a growing preference for simplicity and automation in organisations’ infrastructure to safeguard future development and growth, whilst maintaining flexibility and seeking OPEX vs CAPEX outlay – all of which will be a more attractive sell to the board.

There is a clear steer for progressive IT managed service providers to respond with intelligent mapping of best in market supplier partnerships and match the diverse requirements of their customer base to ensure highest standards of governance to wrap the complete offering as their trusted advisor.

Microsoft’s Machine Learning heads to the Cloud
Microsoft Research has been developing machine learning technologies for some time now. The technology is a branch of artificial intelligence utilised to complete complex computing tasks. Microsoft uses this tech to help power Xbox Live, Bing and has worked with its partners so they can also take advantage of machine learning. However this comes in the form of complex, physical infrastructure work. Now, Microsoft has announced it is bringing machine learning to its Azure Cloud to combat this issue.

“Soon, machine learning will help to drastically reduce wait times in emergency rooms, predict disease outbreaks and predict and prevent crime. To realize that future, we need to make machine learning more accessible – to every enterprise and, over time, everyone,” wrote Joseph Sirosh, corporate VP of Machine Learning, on the Microsoft blog.
The public launch of the service is expected to hit next month for Azure users, so they can also take advantage of artificial intelligence based computing.

“Google Earth” mapping for Joe Bloggs in the UK
Real-time computer simulations determining diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease are at the heart of a groundbreaking new book, “Computational Biomedicine: Modelling the Human Body”. The authors advocate that drugs will soon be selected on the basis of a patient’s “digital profile”, with treatments tailored accordingly and that clinical decisions made in the UK’s operating theatres will be determined by such technology by the end of the century.

The speed of technological advances is altering what historically would have been purely hypothetical research, into real time plans in healthcare according to author, Professor Pete Coveney. In parallel, 123 academics and clinicians working under the collective name, the Insigneo Institute, are working on a major EC backed project called “Virtual Physiological Human”, a computerised replica of the human body that allows virtual testing of treatments on patients, based on their own specific needs.

Whilst a virtual human is still a long way off, scientists have recently used images of a patient’s heart to build virtual arteries from which predictions for most effective operations can be made. Separately, one of Professor Coveney’s colleagues is modelling the blood flow in a patient’s brain and relying on the UK’s most powerful supercomputer at the University of Edinburgh, capable of more than a million billion calculations per second. An interesting question of liability pops up with regard to supercomputers themselves, not all of which are in the UK. If a supercomputer in the States made a calculation that led to the death of a patient in the UK, could it be held liable?

Finally, to make such technological advances in virtual medicine happen, vast amounts of patient data is required. However, the spate of NHS data scandals does little to progress the cause. Whilst the arguments against making data available from patient groups and lobbyists is frequently heard (and often with good reason in terms of governance), Professor Coveney argues that individuals are far more receptive to their personal data being used, especially where they have a direct interest as it could offer even a limited chance of finding a cure for them.

For medical practitioners and CISOs, these fascinating developments and intriguing prognostications will continue to be voiced and require solutions as governance and the law fight to keep up with each other at the high table of technology.

Amazon unveils a smartphone equipped with 6 cameras
Ever since Amazon successfully entered the tablet space, with a modified Android slab there has been rumours of an Amazon Phone. This week it became a reality, the phone simply being called Fire. Again running on a modified Android platform the main gimmick is how it uses cameras. In addition to the standard snapper on the front and back, there are also 4 other front facing cameras, utilised to detect what angle you are looking at the phone, to create a quasi-3D effect allowing you to see the content on your phone at different angles, not to be mistaken with stereoscopic tech which simulates depth.

The phone also includes a new Amazon service called Firefly, after pressing the dedicated button, the phone looks and listens and if you point it at an ad in real life, you can tap on a phone number or web address. If it can hear music, a TV show or a movie, it can show relevant info and of course a button to buy from the Amazon store. There are also some other special features, including Mayday, Amazon’s live-video tech support which should be handy for first time smart phone buyers who lose their way.

Despite some clever tech under the hood, it is clear that this is a product which unlike Google, Apple and Microsoft will not also be competing for the office space, at least yet and is setting its multitude of sights directly at the home.


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