Nokia purchase marks a move to bigger Cloud strategy

Nokia has announced it will be acquiring French global telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent for the sum of $15.6 billion, under the banner Nokia Corporation. They plan to tackle 5G technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the increased reliance on Cloud services.

The acquisition gives insight into what Nokia’s future direction might be, following the selling of its Devices and Services arm to Microsoft in late 2013. The focus is clearly aimed at providing a platform for the technical fundamentals for not only traditional mobile telecoms and its evolution into 5G, but also newer and emerging technologies.

Recently rumors have emerged that Nokia are considering selling their large mapping business called ‘HERE’ and the Alcatel-Lucent acquisition adds credence to this, putting full concentration into their very profitable Nokia Networks division.

Nokia may no longer be a name consumers hear about as the company transitions from phone maker to platform supplier, however it will very much likely be Nokia that is providing the data network for their future mobile device.

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This Week’s Technology News – 14th November 2014

Goodbye Lync, Hello Skype for Business

Microsoft has announced they will rename Lync, their corporate unified communications platform, to Skype for Business in 2015.   Not only will the platform have a change of name but the look and feel will also be more similar to consumer focused Skype.

Microsoft purchased VOIP company Skype back in 2011 in their largest acquisition costing $8.56 billion.  At the time, Microsoft’s consumer based product was MSN Live Messenger and their corporate offering was still Lync. The purchase of Skype, especially at the price paid raised many eyebrows, and questions surrounding the future of both Live Messenger and Lync.

Early last year Microsoft retired Messenger globally, auto directing users to download and use Skype instead.

Now Lync is following suit, being replaced by the Skype brand.   In its official press release Microsoft reiterated that despite the name change and look and feel of Skype for Business, users can expect the same enterprise security, compliance and control that Lync currently offers.  In addition Skype for Business when it is released in the first half of 2015, will also give organisations the reach into hundreds of millions of regular Skype users outside their business. The update will not require new hardware and if your are on Office 365 the migration will be automatic.

In what initially looks like yet another rebranding from Microsoft, the logic to their largest acquisition to date now makes more sense commercially with the visual interface changes also echoing Microsoft’s “one interface across all devices” approach of recent years.  The new Skype strategy allows a single toolset to communicate within a company, to their partners and separately to consumers alike.  All in all a very powerful move forward.

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Nokia and HP in dance to create Cloud network for mobile operators

Cloud driven infrastructures have changed how many businesses plan their commercial strategies and implement their own IT infrastructure.  Mobile network operators however have not seen as much momentum going from traditional hosted infrastructures to a Cloud based system and this lack of forward thinking will slow down the roll out of new services.

Nokia and HP have partnered to deliver NFV (Network Functions Virtualisation), based on HP’s Helion OpenStack which they announced in May 2014 with a $1 billion pledge in open Cloud products and services. Nokia will be providing the management tools and network functions required, to deliver calls and internet access to users on HP’s platform.

Nokia and HP are not the only ones fighting for this lucrative new market. Alcatel-Lucent this week also announced a suite of NFV applications and last month Dell announced their own platform.

The switchover of the network that operators rely on to deliver telephony and mobile broadband, will not be quick but it is an inevitability.  Whoever is the most prepared to offer a mature, secure platform for today’s dynamic and ever-changing mobile world will reap the benefits in years to come.

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This week’s technology news – 28th April 2014

Digital skills gap of Euro youth leaves UK door wide to lose talent
A survey across 28 European countries has reported that 63% of young people (18-30 year olds) emerging from education, feel ill equipped with the necessary digital skills for the workplace. These are skills they want to have and recognise that they will need to acquire post education to compete in a pan-European environment. 86% of those surveyed say they would be willing to move between EU countries to work. Meanwhile research of 1,000 UK businesses found almost 50% of digital companies are considering looking abroad for potential candidates because of the lack of trained workers domestically. As VP of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes commented: “In order to meet the needs of coming generations, it is incumbent on employers, educators and regulators to understand expectations of what is termed the digital enterprise”.

With 74% of employers in the digital, IT and information services industry facing a skills crisis, this is a two-fold wake up call. For educators, Government must ensure schools have teachers trained with the right technology skills to use in the right way, to fully exploit technology learning. This was brought home by a 2012 study by the National Endowment for Science Technology and Arts (NESTA) which found that despite schools spending £1.4bn on technology in 3 years, it had rarely been used to its “full promise and potential”. Secondly, for UK technology businesses, this is an urgent cue to engage more proactively with youth and invest in apprenticeship schemes which could plug some of the gap, or see talent lost which may not be recovered down the line.

Not me, Guvnor!
A recent Trend Micro survey of 850 senior IT decision makers across Europe has identified an alarming lack of basic knowledge about the looming EU Data Protection Regulations. Whilst German businesses confirmed an 87% understanding of the new legislation and reforms, 50% of British respondents were completely unaware of the impending legislation – and out of this and just 10% said they knew what steps were needed to achieve compliance. With fines that could reach €100 million or 5% of global revenue, UK business organisations, Government and the UK media need to jump on this now to avoid confusion and ignorance continuing to threaten UK profits.

The regulations apply to any company that deals with EU resident data, even if that company does not have a legal entity within any of the EU countries. To start compliance checks, companies could run a health check or assessment on where the organisation is right now: what data is stored, how it is processed and what policies currently govern it. This would enable firms to spot where the gaps are in their data policy and take corrective actions to close this hole and avoid the heavy financial penalties.

Net neutrality at risk
Net Neutrality is the principle that ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) should not restrict types of internet content, regardless of source and without favouring or blocking any particular product or website. This has recently been the subject of heated conversation as both the US and European government have been confirming their stance on Net neutrality. According to US reports, the Federal Communication Commission will approve ISP’s charging a premium for data-heavy content such as Netflix, Amazon and Google.

Without strong net neutrality ISP’s could demand escalating fees for connecting to specific services, potentially locking out both users and content providers unable to pay up. The European Parliament has voted to restrict ISP’s from charging services. If this goes ahead European legislation to veto any surcharges could come into effect by the end of the year.

Microsoft finally completes its Nokia Devices and Services acquisition
Originally announced back in last September, Microsoft last Friday completed its acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services unit. Nokia is now formed of HERE (GPS and mapping services), Nokia Solutions & Networks (formally Nokia Siemens Networks) and further developments. The rest is now part of Microsoft, sold for $7.3 billion. Nokia’s former CEO Stephen Elop now leads Microsoft’s hardware division reporting directly to new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Microsoft used this time to remind us that Windows Phone is the fastest-growing ecosystem in the smartphone market. A more interesting take is how Nokia’s pedigree in mobile devices will influence Microsoft’s hardware going forwards. With both hardware and software being developed under one roof they have the potential to give Apple who operate the same strategy, a run for its money going forwards.

This Week’s technology news – 14th March 2014

New data protection age as Europe votes in data protection laws
MEPs this week voted overwhelmingly to tighten up new data protection laws in the “Data Protection Regulation”. Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding commented: “This reform is a necessity, and now it is irreversible…”. She added: “Strong data protection rules must be Europe’s trade mark. Following the US data spying scandals, data protection is more than ever a competitive advantage”. This was echoed in a speech by Euro Commission VP Neelie Kroes who said: “The next phase of the internet will be data-centred and connectivity-driven. Cloud computing, big data, the internet of things; tools which support manufacturing, education, energy, our cars and more. It is no longer about emails. In this new world, reliability and trust is a pre-condition”. These changes will be especially hard for smaller businesses to manage and could cripple them with onerous administrative responsibilities. However, for MSPs there is a clear opportunity to sift through the complexities by providing proper consultative and support services to ensure companies and individuals are better protected.

New storage horizons with Blu-ray’s successor
Not long ago, Facebook started utilising Blu-rays for a low powered storage solution. This was done with a customised solution holding 10,000 Blu-ray discs. However a much more efficient and practical solution is on the horizon. Sony and Panasonic have teamed up to create the next generation of disc-based media called Archival Disc. This goes far beyond Blu-ray, storing up to 1TB of data per disc (the equivalent of 250 DVDS or 40 Blu-rays). With this much storage on such a slim profile, Archival Disc’s could genuinely change the way we think about corporate data backup. Compared to tapes these are much easier to store and secure. The only unknowns so far are speed and cost. The first discs are due out in 2015 in 300GB variety, with 500GB and 1TB versions rolling out at a later date.

Microsoft and Samsung and now on the board for Qi wireless charging
Wireless charging technology has been creeping into the mainstream since launching in 2009. Mostly used as a cable-free way to charge your smart phone at your desk. Like all emerging technologies there is a lot of money to be made and big tech companies will fight to have their version of the technology become the universal standard. The two big names in wireless charging are Qi and PMA. PMA have managed to catch some big contracts like AT&T. The communications giant has been controlling mobile phone manufacturers to force use of the PMA technology instead of Qi. Qi on the other hand has penetrated the market more and won over move mobile phone manufacturers with Nokia, Google, Samsung all mostly using Qi. The latest news in this battle of wireless technologies brings tech giants Microsoft and Samsung to the QI board. This emphatic demonstration of commitment shows not only their support of the technology but also the drive for its wholesale adoption. This could be the fatal blow to PMA, whose product could soon end up in the bargain bin where HD-DVDs were just a few years ago.

Healthcare breakthrough in surgery using 3D printing
The UK has become one of the world’s pioneers in implementing 3D technology in surgery. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than a recent pioneering operation in Wales, where a motorbike victim had reconstructive surgery to his face, using 3D printed parts (including custom printed models, guides, plates and implants), months after the accident. The speed with which this technology has been adopted for surgery is remarkable. It is in stark contrast to the news in 2013 when 3D printers were first used to print guns in the States. Criminals unsurprisingly have also found uses for the technology, notably creating card readers (“skimmers”) to steal money from ATMs. Consequently, police organisations have set up dedicated departments to monitor cyber-crime alongside emerging technology. But at least on this occasion, the outcome is a wholly positive one for everyone involved.

This Week’s technology news – 1st November 2013

Adobe hack revealed to be 10 times worse than expected
Adobe joins the list of companies who have been successfully hacked with user data being the target. The original damage estimate was of 2.9 million accounts, but the reality turns out that the number is 38 million. Thankfully for users of Adobe’s cloud services, passwords and payment information is stored encrypted. Beyond user data there was another target, source code. Adobe has admitted that source code was accessed to their flagship product Photoshop. This attack is a sombre reminder that although user-data is incredibility important to protect you must not forget correct security around your own IP.

Does Nokia’s latest tablet change the future for Windows RT?
With last week’s Nokia World announcement of a Windows RT powered Nokia tablet, Nokia may be positioning itself to take the same slice of market share from Microsoft’s tablet OS that it successfully took from their phone OS. Nokia’s support of Windows Phone managed to bring Windows Phone into smart phone relevancy world wide. With other OEMs dropping support of Windows this gives Nokia the opportunity to grow its own ecosystem on a platform without challenging competition. This could of course have the same successful effect that Nokia did on Windows Phone, however this time giving Windows RT a chance in the spot light.

Apple delays innovation
March this year we reported Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that a new product line was set to be revealed this year, seemingly in an attempt to calm shareholders nervous from consistent falling of stock prices. Several media events later, we have seen moderate updates to their Macs, iPhone and iPads but nothing truly new. This week Tim Cook was reminded of his earlier statement by an industry analyst. The Apple CEO claimed they have already revealed “exciting new products” but suggested we would have to wait at least till 2014 to see what else Apple has been cooking.

Nexus 5 announced as Android market share now over 80%
Google has announced the latest in it’s affordable, vanilla line of Android phones, the Nexus 5. The Nexus 5 sports a 5-inch 1080p screen, 8MP optical image stabilising camera, speedy snapdragon 800 processor but most importantly is also the first phone to run the newest version of Android, KitKat. This announcement also benefits from the happy coincidence that the Android platform has smashed passed 80% of worldwide phone market share, showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Will the market start to gain Android fatigue or are we looking at a Windows-like monopoly future for google and smartphones going forwards?

This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 5th July 2013

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Mobile video on the up for business
Gartner reports that video use at work will be the next big adoption for businesses, governments and MSPs to get to grips with. It is anticipated that by 2015 60% of information workers will interact with content applications via a mobile device. This will force MSPs to respond with strategies supporting video on employee or company owned devices . Heterogeneity as well as mobility will be required, whilst the demand on bandwidth will likely require workers to use it at select times to cope with variable bandwidth.

Technology changing policing
A new report confirms that the police are actively adopting a range of new technologies to turn data into real time intelligence. These include: electronic notebooks on scene, sensor networks for tracking, crowd behaviour software, GPS to track offenders (and even dementia patients) and miniature drones with sensors to help capture criminals. Added to this is the use of social network sites (Greater Manchester Police tweet each incident for transparency to show crime volume and type of work). Cost savings are a main driver for these changes. Ultimately, choosing the right technology to give flexibility to a business and managing it securely will provide the best business solution in this technological age.

The future of touchscreens
Microsoft is developing a new type of touchscreen in-house that allows the user to feel the texture of objects being displayed on screen. The same technology can also apply resistance to moving around virtual objects on screen. Virtual objects can be heavier, and thus like in real life will take more effort to swipe around. California-based Tactus has developed a touch screen that uses fluid channels which can morph the shape of the screen on the fly. This has been demoed to show how it can provide tactile feedback when using an on-screen keyboard by pushing the keys out of the screen. Both of these technologies tackle the current issues of a touchscreen-only device with uses in medical and corporate sectors.

Nokia buys Siemens’ half of the Nokia Siemens Networks for $2.2 Billion
Nokia Corporation and Siemens have announced that Nokia will acquire Siemens’ 50% stake in their joint venture, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN). The cost of total ownership is $2.2 Billion. NSN has established itself as a clear leader of LTE (4G) technology which provides an attractive growth opportunity as LTE continues to roll-out worldwide. Although Nokia is taking a large financial hit, the purchase is actually a very smart move as it simplifies their finances after making NSN a profitable venture last year which helped get Nokia back into the black, thanks to early LTE deals.

This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 10th May 2013

What is Big Data?
Small data – is single-source, often batch-processed, and locally managed. So what is big data? It is multi-source, requires connecting between data sources, multi-structured, real time, and uses information in aggregate. This is a huge difference from traditional business intelligence (BI). So what are some of the interesting things found in healthcare from big data analysis? People with higher pain scores tend to crash more. Credit scores, of all things, tell you whether patients will take their medicine.

Windows 8 hits 100 million sales
Microsoft report passing the 100 million mark in licence sales for Windows 8 since its launch in October 2012. Despite doubters casting aspersions in the early days of release, Windows 8 seems to have greater staying power, given the sheer weight of sales now. This may be spurred on by news of the expiry of earlier versions of XP in April 2014. Businesses who have not reviewed their OS platforms should discuss the various options sooner rather than later, or find themselves in deep water.

It’s official – we’re up in the clouds!
In an effort to expedite government cloud (G-Cloud) progress, the U.K. government plans to formally adopt a “cloud-first” procurement policy. And it would like to see the entire British public sector follow suit. US federal agencies adopted cloud last December and two thirds of SMBs in the UK already use and invest in cloud storage solutions. This is a clear indicator of widespread confidence in cloud as the future storage solution.

Smart Phones for Emerging Markets, the key to phone supremacy?
Nokia have unveiled their latest Asha phones designed for emerging markets (low on price, high on feature), ideal to those unable to purchase high end brands such as iPhones, Galaxys and Lumias. With a brand new OS, Asha phones make the big and all-important jump from feature phone to smart phones. This could see them leap over Samsung’s current No1 position in shipment numbers, but crucially smartphone market share.

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