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On Tuesday, VMware kicked off its annual conference, VMworld. The first day of the virtual event featured a “Design Principles of Modern Apps” session with insights from IDEO and VMware representatives.

Image: VMware

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, VMware kicked off its annual conference VMworld virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. The first day of VMworld 2020 featured numerous announcements, including the company’s intent to acquire SaltStack. 

Tuesday’s kickoff was filled with virtual question-and-answer sessions, “Quick Talks,” fireside chats, and more. The afternoon schedule featured a session titled “Design Principles of Modern Apps” including a discussion with Iain Roberts, COO at IDEO, Andrew Nusca, digital editor at Fortune, and Edward Hieatt, SVP services and support at VMware. Below, we’ve detailed the highlights from this specific session.

SEE: Linux commands for user management (TechRepublic Premium)

VMware 2020: Design Principles of Modern Apps

On Tuesday, VMware announced expansions to accelerate infrastructure and app modernization efforts for customers including a partnership with GitLab as well as Tanzu support updates spanning VMware Cloud on AWS, Azure VMware Solution, and Oracle Cloud VMware Solution. Tanzu is VMware’s Kubernetes platform. During the discussion, Hieatt detailed how Tanzu had enabled organizations to adapt to the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

As an example, Hieatt noted VMware’s work with retailer, Dick’s Sporting Goods. The adoption of Tanzu prior to the onset of COVID-19 enabled Dick’s to readily react as lockdown measures took hold and consumer retail shopping habits shifted, Hieatt said. In less than two weeks, Dick’s was able to offer a curbside pick-up app.

Roberts also detailed how the coronavirus pandemic is shifting the way organizations view legacy systems and operations. Roberts explained that a thorough understanding of the systems a company is built on has historically been part of the CTO’s role, however, it now needs to be central to the “reign of the CEO.”

Nusca posed a question to Roberts about whether organizations with poor design culture can change. Interestingly, Roberts emphasized that organizations are an assortment of subcultures rather than existing as an organizational monoculture. If an organization hopes to change its approach and culture, it must embrace one of the other subcultures, Roberts said. Although, Roberts said that it is difficult for companies to shed this prevailing culture.

SEE: Top 5 programming languages for systems admins to learn (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Modern apps and VMware’s global study

Modern applications are enabling organizations to address the myriad challenges presented by COVID-19 while accelerating digital transformation efforts, according to a recent VMware survey. The report titled “Successful Digital Transformation: Apps At The Ready” details VMware’s key findings.

The top digital transformation efforts organizations reported prioritized were improving business efficiency, enhancing customer experience, and upgrading existing platforms, per VMware. More than half of respondents (54%) believe the main benefit of cloud-native apps amid the coronavirus pandemic is the ability to enable remote teams. About four-in-10 (42%) said the main benefit was “pushing quick updates in response to changing landscape” and 41% said these apps help maintain reliable uptime.

“VMware’s recent study — Successful Digital Transformation: Applications At The Ready — proved that COVID-19 has accelerated digital-transformation efforts, and that modern applications are playing a big role,” said Hieatt via email.

“Specifically our research found that modern, cloud-native applications have enabled organizations to set up remote workforces, push updates in response to the changing landscape, and maintain reliable uptime and continued revenue – allowing their business to not only survive, but also have the potential to thrive during the pandemic,” Hieatt continued.

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Preserving privacy of machine learning models

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When you see headlines about artificial intelligence (AI) being used to detect health issues, that’s usually thanks to a hospital providing data to researchers. But such systems aren’t as robust as they could be, because such data is usually only taken from one organization.

Hospitals are understandably cautious about sharing data in a way that could get it leaked to competitors. Existing efforts to handle this issue include “federated learning” (FL) a technique that enables distributed clients to collaboratively learn a shared machine learning model while keeping their training data localized.

Preserving privacy of machine learning models

However, even the most cutting-edge FL methods have privacy concerns, since it’s possible to leak information about datasets using the trained model’s parameters or weights. Guaranteeing privacy in these circumstances generally requires skilled programmers to take significant time to tweak parameters – which isn’t practical for most organizations.

A team from MIT CSAIL thinks that medical organizations and others would benefit from their new system PrivacyFL, which serves as a real-world simulator for secure, privacy-preserving FL. Its key features include latency simulation, robustness to client departure, support for both centralized and decentralized learning, and configurable privacy and security mechanisms based on differential privacy and secure multiparty computation.

MIT principal research scientist Lalana Kagal says that simulators are essential for federated learning environments for several reasons.

  1. To evaluate accuracy. SKagal says such a system “should be able to simulate federated models and compare their accuracy with local models.”
  2. To evaluate total time taken. Communication between distant clients can become expensive. Simulations are useful for evaluating if client-client and client-server communications are beneficial.
  3. To evaluate approximate bounds on convergence and time taken for convergence.
  4. To simulate real-time dropouts. With PrivacyFL clients may drop out at any time.

Using the lessons learned with this simulator, the team we are in the process of developing an end-to-end federated learning system that can be used in real-world scenarios, For example, such a system could be used by collaborating hospitals to train privacy-preserving robust models to predict complex diseases.

Written by Adam Conner-Simons, MIT CSAIL

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology




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Oppo A33 (2020) With Triple Rear Cameras, 5,000mAh Battery Launched in India: Price, Specifications

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Oppo A33 (2020) has been launched in India, featuring a large 5,000mAh battery, a a Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 SoC, and a hole-punch display with a 90Hz refresh rate. The smartphone also has a rear fingerprint scanner and a triple camera setup at the back. The Oppo A33 (2020) was unveiled in Indonesia last month, and will go on sale via Flipkart later this month though it is already available via offline retail stores, the company announced.

Oppo A33 (2020) price in India, launch offers (expected)

The Oppo A33 (2020) has been priced at Rs. 11,990 for its 3GB RAM + 32GB storage option. Oppo says it is available via offline retail stores, and will go on sale from Flipkart in its “next Big Billion Day sale.” Offers include 5 percent cashback on Kotak Bank, RBL Bank, Bank of Baroda, and Federal Bank cards. If users buy the phone from Paytm, benefits worth Rs. 40,000 will be listed. Offline, there are also going to be schemes options from banks like Bajaj Finserv, Home Credit, HDB Financial Services, IDFC First Bank, HDFC Bank, and ICICI Bank. The Oppo A33 (2020) was launched in Indonesia in September,

Oppo A33 (2020) specifications

The Oppo A33 (2020) runs on ColorOS 7.2 based on Android 10 and features a 6.5-inch HD+ (720×1,600 pixels) hole-punch display with 90Hz refresh rate. Under the hood, there is the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 SoC. Internal storage is at 32GB with the option to expand further using a microSD card (up to 256GB).

The Oppo A33 (2020) smartphone also has the triple rear camera setup that includes a 13-megapixel primary sensor. The camera setup also has a 2-megapixel depth sensor and a 2-megapixel macro shooter. The Oppo A33 has an 8-megapixel selfie camera.

There is a 5,000mAh battery with 18W fast charging support on the Oppo A33 (2020). There is also the fingerprint sensor at the back of the handset. The phone also comes with dual stereo speakers. Connectivity options include Bluetooth v5, USB Type-C port, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and more.


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Big data and DevOps: No longer separate silos, and that’s a good thing

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The pandemic has caused major shifts in the way IT and big data work. Now they may be working together for better outcomes.

Image: iStock/ RRice1981

The world has changed a lot since March 2020, and the coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives. While we’ve seen massive changes in technology already, another change happening right now is in big data and its role with DevOps.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the blending of data analytics and DevOps, meaning developers, data scientists, and product managers will need to work more closely together than ever before,” said Bill Detwiler, editor in chief of TechRepublic. 

SEE: TechRepublic Premium editorial calendar: IT policies, checklists, toolkits, and research for download  (TechRepublic Premium)

Detwiler was interviewing managers at Tibco, a leader in big data integration and analytics. They said the coronavirus pandemic had caused organizations to rethink how they were using big data and analytics, generating what appears to be a movement toward merging IT DevOps methodologies with big data analytics.

For IT organizations, this is more than just a story about how the pandemic has altered how companies think about big data and analytics. The emergency of COVID has placed emphasis on getting analytics insights and results to market quickly. This has redefined analytics reporting as mission-critical, and not just as an ancillary tool for how companies operate and strategize.

SEE: Return to work: What the new normal will look like post-pandemic (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The change is also creating revisions in operations and culture for IT. Here are some we’ve seen.

A move from waterfall to DevOps development

Developing, testing, and deploying big data applications is an iterative process. Because the process is iterative (i.e., develop-test-deploy until you get what you want), it doesn’t follow the more linear and assembly line-like development methodology of traditional IT waterfall development, which is a serial sequence of handoffs from development to QA (test) to an implementation staff.

SEE: Are you a big data laggard? Here’s how to catch up (TechRepublic)

A majority of IT departments are still organized around the waterfall development paradigm. There are separate silos within IT for development, testing, and deployment. These functions have to come together with each other and end users in the more collaborative and iterative process of big data application development. To do this, functional silos of expertise have to dissipate. 

Culturally (and perhaps organizationally) this changes the orientation of IT. The culture shift is likely to entail the creation of interdisciplinary functional teams instead of work handoffs from functional silo to functional silo. End users also become active participants on these interdisciplinary teams.

Fewer absolutes for quality

The testing of big data applications becomes more relative and less absolute. This is a tough adjustment for IT because in traditional transaction systems, you either correctly move a data field from one place to another, or you obtain a value based on data and logic that absolutely conforms to what the test script dictates. If you don’t attain absolute conformance, you retest until you do. 

SEE: Big data: How wide should your lens be? It depends on your use (TechRepublic)

Not so much with big data, which could start off with results being only 80% accurate, but with the business deeming them close enough to indicate an actionable trend.

Working in a context where less-than-perfect precision is acceptable is a challenging adjustment for IT pros, who are used to seeing an entire system blow up if a single character in a program or script is miskeyed.

The shift of big data into mission-critical systems

If you’re a transportation company, the ability to track your loads on the road and the health and safety of the cargo that they’re carrying becomes mission-critical. If you’re in the armed forces and you’re using drones on the battlefield to conduct and report reconnaissance in real-time flyovers, the data becomes mission-critical.

SEE: Big data success: Why desktop integration is key (TechRepublic)

This means that organizations must begin to attach the label of mission-critical to big data and analytics applications that formerly were classified as experimental. 

IT culture must shift to support mission-critical big data applications for failover, priority maintenance, and continuous development. This could shift IT personnel from traditional transaction support to big data support, requiring retraining to facilitate the change.

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