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  • Virgin Media UK Trial Claims 400Gbps Speeds via a Single Fibre
    A new trial conducted by broadband ISP Virgin Media UK (Liberty Global) has harnessed a prototype of Infinera XR Optics technology in its existing network, which they claim could potentially deliver multi-gigabit speeds to customers by boosting symmetric transfer rates up to 400Gbps in a single fibre. At present the best consumer speeds that customers can expect on Virgin Media’s EuroDOCSIS 3.0 based Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network is over 600Mbps, although 1Gbps+ speeds are possible in areas that have been upgraded to their latest DOCSIS 3.1 platform (due to cover their entire network by the end of 2021). However, back in 2019 the operator did achieve end-user speeds of 8Gbps+ (8465Mbps) in the large Cambridgeshire village of Papworth (here), which made use of point-to-point style Ethernet Passive Optical Network (EPON) technology via FTTP. But last year’s 2.2Gbps (214Mbps upload) trial in the Berkshire (England) market town of Thatcham is probably more reflective of their next consumer speed boost.
  • Budget 2021 Offers Nothing New for UK Gigabit Broadband Projects
    The UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, has today published his Budget 2021 statement and sadly there were no new details for the £5bn UK Gigabit Broadband Programme. But we did get a few extra details on their recently confirmed plans for a new UK Infrastructure Bank, some of which had already been confirmed. Just to recap. The Gigabit Programme – also known as the ‘Outside In Programme‘ due to its focus on tackling rural areas first – aims to help extend “gigabit-capable” (1000Mbps+) network coverage to at least 85% of the UK (up to 6 million premises) by the end of 2025, before getting “as close to 100% as possible.” The scheme will only help those living in the final 20% (F20) of predominantly rural premises.
  • Gamma acquires Mission Labs
    Gamma has announced that it has acquired Mission Labs Limited. The Mission Labs team will work with Gamma’s existing technology team to develop and deliver a roadmap of both UCaaS and CCaaS products. Mission Labs has a UCaaS technology platform, CircleLoop, that provides a cloud-based telephony product aimed at the micro-business market. It is estimated that, by the end of 2025, 2.7 million micro-business employees in the UK will be UCaaS users – double today’s volume. Gamma explained that the CircleLoop platform will allow its partners to access that market. Gamma has been partnering with Mission Labs over the last 18 months on various projects such as PhoneLine+. This is a replacement product for single line customers and will launch in the first half of this year.
  • GDPR expert Axel Voss says the coronavirus has already made European data protection laws obsolete
    German Member of the European Parliament and one of the founding fathers of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Axel Voss told the Financial Times the legislation needed “surgery.” The data protection laws have been in force for less than three years and were first introduced in May 2018. Voss’s comments came ahead of a parliamentary session that will vote on defining the laws as a “gold standard for the world.” Spanish MEP Pilar del Castillo told Business Insider España in February that Europe’s GDPR laws could be used as an “international blueprint” and were now also being adopted in countries outside Europe.
  • Budget 2021: The tech industry reacts
    From ‘music to our ears’, to ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’, here’s what the sector thinks Many of the measures outlined in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget were telegraphed in advanced, meaning the tech industry has had some opportunity to digest them. Here is a selection of reactions. A new £520 million Help to Grow scheme will offer up to 130,000 companies across the UK a digital and management boost.
  • Do These 5 Things Before Moving Your Business to the Cloud
    When moving to cloud it’s easy to assume they’re doing things you should be doing and aren’t. With cloud, you always want to know who’s flying the plane. Cloud technologies have overwhelmingly defined the course of IT for the past several years and will do so for the foreseeable future. From packet-moving fabric architectures that enable cloud-like scale of the network to software as a service (SaaS) solutions, we’ve taken everything from our data centers and moved it into the cloud. Servers, business operations software, telephony solutions, and most office software applications are now cloud-based. Moving to cloud comes with some huge benefits, but it also comes with potential risks, and not all cloud architectures are created equal. If you’re considering moving to a SaaS solution for any aspect of your business, I offer 5 points of advice.
  • Using the Cloud as WAN Transport
    By integrating virtualized SD-WAN appliances within the various cloud transit gateways, SD-WAN can communicate optimal path selection routing data to and from a public cloud to a customer’s private infrastructure One appealing aspect of cloud computing has always been that it was supposed to reduce customer infrastructure complexity. While architecture simplicity may be attainable from an application and server perspective, providing intelligent network routing to public cloud resources remains as complicated as ever. This is especially true when working in infrastructure environments consisting of multiple virtual clouds and multiple corporate/branch office locations. Let’s look at the challenges of enterprise cloud architectures and how cloud service providers (CSPs) are partnering with SD-WAN vendors to help alleviate this burden.
  • H2 2020 – FTTP Broadband Covers 88.5% of UK New Build Homes
    The latest independent H2 2020 study of broadband coverage in UK new build homes has indicated that 88.5% of houses constructed last year were connected to a “full fibre” (FTTP) broadband ISP network (up from 87.3% in H1 2020), which rises to 97.7% for 30Mbps+ “superfast broadband” services (unchanged). The situation, as highlighted by the latest independent model from Thinkbroadband (examination of new build postcodes), is clearly improving but we’d always recommend that those purchasing a new build home get the property developer to confirm, in writing, what kind of broadband connectivity you can expect to receive before handing over any money. Most of the major home builders (e.g. Home Builders Federation) have already entered into partnerships with operators (Openreach, Virgin Media and various smaller altnet ISPs) to better facilitate the roll-out of fibre broadband technologies. Openreach has also made it even cheaper to deploy their FTTP network into some of the smallest developments (here). New rules are also on the way that should make it more of a requirement.
  • Gov May Scrap BBC TV Licence Once Fast UK Broadband is Universal
    The UK Government’s Minister of State for Media and Data (DCMS), John Whittingdale MP, has indicated that the BBC’s TV licence fee could be scrapped once everybody in the country finally has access to faster broadband connectivity. The idea may be considered for when the corporation’s royal charter expires in 2027. At present a standard TV licence costs £157.50 per year (up £3 on the previous fee) and that will rise to £159 next month. Generally, you are considered to need a TV licence if you watch live channels or programmes live on any online TV service, including Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, ITV Hub or All 4. You don’t need a TV Licence if you only ever use online services to watch on-demand or catch-up programmes, except if you’re watching BBC content on iPlayer.
  • The Surprise Factor: Why now is the time to invest in IT innovation
    The history of business suggests that there are many merits to doing the unexpected: to zig when others zag, to go high when others go low and to take the road less travelled. The pandemic has caused massive economic shocks for businesses and public-sector organisations across Europe and it’s not surprising that those facing existential business crises have gone into their shells and resorted to slash-and-burn strategies. For years, many CIOs have been asked to do more with less. Now they have been asked to do even more with even less as IT budgets have been savaged and top-line costs have gone into the firing line. The natural instinct for many CEOs in times of crisis is to batten down the hatches and concentrate on cutting costs rather than seeking to make new and speculative investments. Very often, broad-brush leadership actions mean IT getting the same, across the board treatment as peers. But what is interesting is that, even against this backdrop, out of such seismic events, there are often lessons learned and a smarter, more creative strategy emerges.
  • London ISP G.Network offers 6 Months 900Mbps for £22 PM
    UK ISP G.Network, which is currently building a new 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network to homes and businesses in London, has refreshed their range of packages and prices. As part of that they’re offering some significant discounts on their fastest tiers (e.g. £22 per month for 6 months on 900Mbps). The provider is currently riding high after securing a major fund raise from USS and Cube Infrastructure Managers, which will enable them to invest £1bn to help deploy their gigabit speed FTTP network across 1.4 million premises in London (12 boroughs) over the next 5 years (here). But at the same time as building that network, they’ll also need to attract new customers and that’s where being aggressively competitive on price can help. The biggest discounts can be found on their 24-month and 12-month contracts, but G.network has also introduced the option of rolling monthly tariffs for a little extra flexibility (you will of course pay more for a 1 month term, albeit with the ability to cancel the service at a month’s notice).
  • On digital identity, the government gets it wrong again
    The latest government proposals to regulate the digital identity sector continue to misunderstand how such a market works – a more API-based approach is needed to deliver the clear benefits of online ID. It’s easy to criticise the government for wasting £175m on one of their many identity systems, but the problem of establishing identity online is one of the great technical challenges of our time. Since the 1960s, we’ve used personal information such as usernames and passwords to link inbound traffic to a specific account. This approach made sense in the 1960s for logging on to one computer, but today the average person has more than 130 online accounts. Along with usernames and passwords, we’re frequently asked for our full name, contact information, payment details, addresses, date of birth, bank statements, utility bills and mother’s maiden name to establish who we are. Stored on the servers of hundreds of companies, this information is traded both legally and illegally as we’re tracked and profiled by advertisers and targeted by criminals. In its latest attempt to solve the problem of identity, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) recently published its draft rules of the road for governing the future use of digital identities.
  • ‘If you’re not taking risks, you’re not innovating hard enough’
    Technology is bone-deep at cancer charity Anthony Nolan Stem cells are the root of all new growth in the human body. They can turn into any other type of cell, making them one of the most important tools healthcare has to treat cancer; for some people, especially those with blood or bone cancer, stem cells represent their only hope of survival. That’s why stem cell donation is so important, and why many organisations make it their main goal to gather more donors. One of these is Anthony Nolan, which has more than 800,000 people on its own donor register. However, every year more than 400 people in the UK still fail to find a suitable donor. Danny Attias is the Chief Digital and Information Officer at Anthony Nolan. In this video interview, he talks to Computing’s Noel Anderson about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic; future technologies that will aid the charity sector in general, and Anthony Nolan specifically; the impact of social media; and his preferred vision for a post-Covid future.
  • Government to buy stakes in tech start-ups, report
    ‘FinTech is one of the UK’s great success stories and will help us seize new opportunities around the world’, says Rishi Sunak Chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing to unveil a new fund that will invest £375 million into fast growing tech start-ups in the UK. The new initiative, called ‘Future Fund: Breakthrough’, could be announced as early as Wednesday in the Budget, according to Financial Times sources, potentially leaving the taxpayer with stakes in multiple young companies. The Chancellor’s new initiative will be aimed at the firms that have the potential to boost the UK’s position in the technology industry but lack funds to compete on a global scale. Many of these firms are currently loss-making due to the need for investment in their research and development efforts. According to the FT report, investments made under the new initiative will be in the “tens of millions of pounds” range and will be matched by private sector venture capital.
  • Government as a Platform (GaaP) milestones
    Government as a Platform (GaaP) products make it easy for service teams to design and host services, send messages and take payments, making it quicker and cheaper to create the essential services the public need. This has been more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. This month we’re celebrating milestones on 4 GaaP products: GOV.​UK Notify is now sending messages for 4,000 public service teams – from nearly 1,000 different organisations – right across the UK public sector; in the last 12 months alone, we’ve sent more 1.6 billion messages to users of these services GOV.‌UK Pay has taken 7.1 million payments in 2020 (2.8 times more than in 2019), which helps more than 160 organisations across the public sector who use Pay GOV.UK PaaS recently connected its 100th organisation, and services are running and scaling on GOV.UK PaaS from more than 40 public bodies GOV.UK Design System just released a cookie page pattern and a cookie banner component, which helps services build their own banner to display information about cookies to secure user consent.
  • Understanding public sector priorities when adopting cloud technology
    Adoption of cloud technology in the sector has boomed in recent years and while some are more cautious, a lot of organisations have hurriedly jumped on the trend without putting in the necessary planning. Rushed decisions when it comes to migrating SAP to the cloud could lead to long term increased cost and issues that considerably outweigh the promised benefits of the move. The lack of clear strategy hinders the progress of many migrations and we strongly advise organisations to start there. Finding the right solution starts with a strong business case. There are many reasons for considering a move to the cloud – not least because ‘everyone is doing it’. Stop and think – what do you and your organisation want to, and need to, achieve from a move to the cloud? Looking at the top reasons to consider a move, together with the main benefits, can often help feed into a business case and bring clarity to what your strategy should be. Whether you are working with an SAP partner who can help you on this initial stage or not, read on for some advice on where to start and what to consider.
  • Court rules that the Government infringed transparency requirements when procuring emergency supplies to counter Covid-19
    In R (on the application of Good Law Project Limited, Debbie Abrahams MP, Caroline Lucas MP and Layla Moran MP) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care [2021] EWHC 346, the Administrative Court recently held that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (“SoS”) had failed to publish contract award notices (“CANs”) in time, in accordance with central government policy on transparency and the applicable regulations. It also held that Good Law Project Limited (the “First Claimant”) had standing to pursue the claim, but that the remaining claimants, who were all Members of Parliament, did not. Key Points Even in the face of emergency procurement demands, the general principle of transparency is fundamental to public procurement. Parties who are not “economic operators” under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (“PCR”) may still have standing to bring a public law challenge. Where one party has established standing, there is typically no need for any additional parties also to have standing. Where those additional parties are politicians, particular consideration will have to be given to whether it is appropriate for them to bring a claim. In circumstances where declaratory relief is sought for unlawful conduct which is already being remedied, such relief may still be appropriate where a public body steers away from expressly admitting such conduct.
  • Liverpool City Region launch £30m digital partnership
    The Liverpool City Region has announced the launch of a new £30m partnership to deliver ultrafast digital infrastructure that will help make the region the most digitally connected area in the UK and ultimately lead to a £1 billion boost to the local economy. Work has already begun on a 212km full fibre, gigabit-capable network infrastructure that will help position the region at the head of the next digital revolution. When complete, it will put city region businesses in a prime position to lead the way in a host of growing sectors, including health and life sciences, artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing. Once complete, the full fibre infrastructure will be capable of delivering speeds of 1,000mbps and beyond and will generate an initial economic boost £105m for the local economy.
  • Oxford University confirms breach of its Covid-19 lab
    Although Oxford says no clinical studies were compromised, the attackers are likely to sell the data to nation states One of Oxford University’s laboratories involved in Covid-19 research has fallen victim to a cyber attack..
  • Virgin Media and O2 merger ‘will go through this year’
    Liberty Global says it remains confident of deal The highly-anticipated merger between Virgin Media and O2 is still on course to be completed ths year, the former’s parent company has declared. Mike Fries, CEO of Virgin Media owner Liberty Global, assured investors that the merger, which would bring together two of the UK’s biggest networking firms, is still set to go through during the middle of 2021. The merger would create what Fries called a “fixed-mobile” champion for millions of users across the UK, but still needs to pass approval from the UK Commissions and Markets Authority (CMA).
  • Your work VPN could actually be a security nightmare
    Cybercriminals continue to target enterprise VPN users The rapid shift to remote working during the pandemic has exposed the hidden vulnerabilities found in enterprise VPN services according to a new report from Zscaler published in collaboration with the Cybersecurity Insiders. The Zscaler 2021 VPN Risk Report includes findings from a global survey of more than 350 cybersecurity professionals on the current state of remote access environments, the rise in VPN vulnerabilities and the role zero-trust security models play in providing access to enterprise applications. For the last three decades, VPNs have been deployed as a means to provide remote users with access to resources on corporate networks. However, increased demand for remote work solutions, a shift to the cloud and advancements in digital transformation have highlighted the increased incompatibility between VPNs and true zero-trust security architectures.
  • BT CEO contemplates moves into healthcare and drone sectors
    In a recent interview BT CEO Philip Jansen offered some insights into his thinking about the near-term strategy for the UK telecoms group. Talking to The Mail, Jansen (pictured) expressed interest in the potential offered by the digital healthcare sector for companies like his. In an apparent bid to give its headline-writers something juicy to work with, the piece talks about taking Apple and Google, but Jansen seems more focused on public sector opportunities, especially the NHS. “What we need to do is find a way where there is accelerated take-up of some of these technologies to get the benefits that are so obviously there,” said Jansen. The Covid pandemic has pushed healthcare infrastructure to the top of the political agenda and the UK has taken the opportunity to demonstrate, once more, that it’s rubbish at the technological side of it. So there’s clearly room for improvement and, with its clear ties to the UK public sector, BT is in as good a position as any company to help with that. It’s already involved in a trial using smart bracelets that track a person’s movements an d activities in order to alert remoter carers. You would think BT’s main contributions would be in the areas of connectivity and IoT, but maybe Jansen fancies a go at the hardware too.
  • Defra to lead creation of cloud-focused IT sustainability standard for use across government
    Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs continues its work to help government departments clean up their IT supply chains by creating a ‘cloud sustainability’ workstream The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is leading a project to ensure sustainability considerations are factored into the UK government’s cloud strategy, Computer Weekly has learned. The work includes the creation of a “cloud sustainability” workstream that will be tasked with creating a standard that government departments and private sector firms can use to improve the environmental friendliness of their IT supply chains. The project supports a joint effort by the Crown Commercial Service and the Government Digital Service to accelerate the adoption of cloud services in the public sector through the One Government Cloud Strategy.
  • Shape matters: Why this dome could be the future of small data centres
    ServerDomes is a cutting-edge facility that relies on its unique shape for energy efficiency. Take a stroll through the Oregon Health and Science University west campus in Beaverton and you’ll come across an unusual structure. It may look more like it belongs on a farm than a college campus but, inside, thousands of computer servers are busy handling workloads for the university. The first ServerDomes facility was built in 2014 for OHSU to supplement the school’s main data center in downtown Portland. It was designed as a geodesic dome for maximum space with minimal building materials. “Everything about this design has nothing to do with the looks; every element has to do with efficiency and sustainability,” ServerDomes CEO Alan Resnik told CNET.
  • Many businesses have no clue how much they are spending on cloud services
    FinOps practitioners need more support
  • Challenge for UK ISPs as Ofcom Forces Emergency Video Relay Service
    Ofcom has today opened a further consultation on their plan to force all communications providers – seemingly including broadband ISPs that may not even provide phone services – to offer a “free” 24/7 emergency video relay service in order to help users of British Sign Language (BSL) to talk with the emergency services. The changes, which were understandably designed to ensure that disabled people (particularly deaf users) can access the communications services they need in an emergency (i.e. the principle that disabled people should have equivalent access to emergency communications), were first proposed back in 2019 and they’ve since been developed through an earlier consultation. Systems like this work by making it possible for deaf users to make a video call, via a connected device, to an interpreter in a call centre. The interpreter translates what the deaf user is signing into spoken English for the emergency services to hear, and signs what the emergency services are saying to the deaf end-user.
  • EU set to grant UK data adequacy status
    The agreement ensuring data flows continue will be reviewed every four years and may be subject to legal challenges The European Union (EU) is set to allow data to flow freely from its territories to the UK after finding that it has comparable data protection laws in place. This decision, which has been drafted by the European Commission, should be approved imminently, according to the Financial Times (FT), and will prove a huge relief for businesses nervous about the potential disruption to data flows. Withdrawal from the EU threatened to block data flows from the EU to the UK, because the UK would’ve been relegated to ‘third country’ status. Only a formal adequacy agreement – guaranteeing the UK’s regulations were in keeping with the EU’s – could restore flows.
  • Liberty Global looks chained and parochial
    Liberty Global’s name suggests a free or freedom-loving internationalist, but it seems increasingly ironic. The corporate progeny of US billionaire John Malone – the “cable cowboy” chairman whose US landholdings seem bigger than Liberty Global’s footprint – today’s company is restricted to a handful of European markets where its debt shackles make the region’s coronavirus-hobbled governments look thrifty and unburdened. Its net debt of about $28 billion is almost twice Liberty’s stock market value and five times what it makes each year in basic earnings. Investors have been able to overlook all this in the low-interest-rate era of fiscal irresponsibility. Last March, Liberty traded at just $15.80 per share after the world’s first brush with COVID-19 left markets winded. On February 12, it closed at $25.08. A turnaround in the UK – where Virgin Media added 41,700 subscribers in the last three months of 2020, after losing 9,400 in the same period of 2019 – has cheered up analysts. Regulatory approval of a merger with O2, a mobile operator owned by Spain’s Telefónica, would make Virgin look even stronger in a market that generates 55% of Liberty’s total revenues.
  • TalkTalk Business whitepaper pinpoints benefits of business-grade home broadband
    TalkTalk Business has investigated the impact of the mass shift to hybrid working and how to maintain staff well-being in a new Homeworker Whitepaper. The report showed customers understand the advantages of investing in business-grade home broadband. Seven in ten of those surveyed mentioned better upload speeds, greater productivity, and business grade support as key benefits. Richard Thompson, managing director, wholesale at TalkTalk Business, explained, “As UK business and their employees embrace the ‘new-normal’ of hybrid working, our mission to deliver full fibre has never felt more urgent. Our partners are in a great position to shape and leverage this homeworking opportunity and help their customers with connectivity and staff well-being, and we’re excited to be able to help support this.”
  • Regional recovery plans set out in West Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy
    The development of HS2 in the West Midlands will turbocharge the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic as it brings forward 175,000 new jobs and generates some £20bn investment. High speed rail will also accelerate the progress towards a zero carbon West Midlands by 2041, set out in the #WM2041 strategy, in part through creating capacity on the existing rail network for improvements to local passenger and freight services. These are just some of the benefits to businesses, people and places laid out in the ‘Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy 2021: The Defining Decade – The Midlands high speed path to recovery’ that has been published. It describes how the West Midlands will be transformed in the next decade, highlighting that by 2030, the region will have two new world class, high speed rail stations, which will be accessible by two million people. The report also looks at the investment opportunities its arrival unlocks, which will result in more than 175,000 new jobs, £20bn additional economic output and a comprehensive public transport system that encourages sustainable travel. As well as setting out how authorities and organisations are working together to make the most of the project, the document also looks at progress made over the six years since the publication of the original HS2 Growth Strategy. The region is seeing unprecedented investment in its transport network, including the four Metro tram line extensions currently under construction and new commercial and housing developments planned around the Curzon Street and Interchange stations. Due to the progress of the project, the jobs and investment totals have been revised upwards for the refreshed strategy. Commenting, Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street said: “While the HS2 train may not be here for a few years yet, we are already seeing exactly how major infrastructure investment accelerates regional growth.
  • Business Investment in UK Telecoms Sees Sharp Fall in Q3 2020
    A new study by tax relief consultancy Catax, which analysed the latest data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), has reported that business investment in the UK telecoms sector has fallen for a fifth consecutive quarter and plummeted by 9.2% in Q3 2020 alone. Business investment in the industry declined £355m between Q2 and Q3 2020, sinking to £3.5bn as the global pandemic continued to hamper economic activity. This represents a 41.8% (£2.5bn) year-on-year fall from just over £6bn in Q3 2019, which is said to be significantly worse than the performance of UK industry as a whole. By comparison, total UK business investment across all sectors recorded an annual fall of 19.2% in Q3 last year. However, quarterly UK GDP grew by 15.5% in Q3, although this pace of growth did slow later in the year, with only a 1% rise recorded for Q4. The result was that over 2020 as a whole, UK GDP shrank by 9.9% – the worst performance since modern records began.
  • Uswitch 2021 Awards Name Top UK Broadband and TV Providers
    The winners of the annual Uswitch.com Awards 2021 have today been unveiled, which among other categories saw UK ISP Plusnet scoop the win for “Broadband Provider of the Year“, while Virgin Media once again grabbed the “Fastest Broadband Provider” crown and BT were named best “TV Provider of the Year.” Read on for the full list. As usual the comparison site appears to have selected its winners via a combination of methods. Most of the awards were decided based on a survey of 17,256 UK consumers (conducted between 29th October and 9th November 202), while several other categories were chosen by a panel of judges from the fields of consumer affairs, personal finance and technology. Sadly, smaller broadband ISPs were alas almost nowhere to be seen in the awards selection, which is why Virgin Media ended up being named as the fastest provider despite being unable to match the symmetrical Gigabit speeds of many alternative networks, or even the multi-gigabit speeds of Zzoomm and CommunityFibre. On the other hand, Virgin are certainly the fastest national or widely available provider (coverage is key), for now.
  • Dell launches private cloud service through Project Apex
    This is the second offering Dell Technologies has launched through its cloud console Dell Technologies Cloud Platform (DTCP) is aiming to offers its customers the capacity to scale up or down their IT infrastructures with its newly-launched private cloud platform. Released through the firm’s flagship Cloud Console, this private cloud service offers a scalable way for customers to build their cloud without deploying an additional layer of VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) software stack. CF is a hybrid cloud platform built on a single architecture that serves as a foundational layer for managing virtual machines (VMs) and orchestrating containers. Dell’s launch, however, would allow customers to bypass the need to deploy this architecture and build their own on-prem private cloud, the company says. This is the second product that Dell has launched as part of its Project Apex cloud pursuit. Project Apex is an initiative the company launched in October 2020 to consolidate its ‘as a service’ cloud offerings – with its Cloud Console hub sitting at the heart of this strategy. The Cloud Console serves as a provisioning and management platform for cloud and ‘as a service’ products, with Dell hoping that customers can use it to deploy workloads, manage resources and keep eye on costs through a simple interface. DTCP Private Cloud is packaged with the same features that come with Dell’s existing hybrid cloud offering, with the firm also introducing instance-based offerings for DTCP Hybrid Cloud late last year. These can be ordered in a self-service manner in quantities of 25, 50, 100, 200 and 500, and can be deployed in customers’ data centres within two weeks and scaled up in roughly five days. They can be combined to run a larger quantity of instances of the same type, or customers can mix and match multiple workloads within the same product. While the firm’s hybrid cloud service is available for $47 per instance per month, Dell is making its private cloud offering available for $14 per instance per month.
  • Microsoft research suggests hybrid work is here to stay
    65% of surveyed employees feel no pressure to return to the workplace when restrictions are lifted Microsoft research has revealed that almost 20% of UK employees don’t want to back into the workplace when coronavirus restrictions are lifted. Over 4,000 UK office workers took part in Microsoft’s ‘Work Smarter to Live Better’ survey, conducted in partnership with professional body CIPD, and their responses suggest that hybrid working strategies are here to stay. While the country is still under lockdown and many businesses have been forced into hybrid working strategies, 65% of respondents suggested their organisation had stepped up and supported their workforces. What’s more, the majority (63%) of respondents from businesses with more ‘formal’ remote working policies said they felt no pressure to return to the office, even if guidelines allowed it. The research has come at a crucial juncture of the UK’s third lockdown as the government is set to announce plans to lift the restrictions in the coming weeks. It is expected that schools might be reopened in March, with businesses potentially allowed to bring people back into the workplace in April. With social distancing measures set to stay in place, it is likely that businesses will continue to allow working from home or a mixture of in-office a remote working. A number of tech firms have recently ‘tested’ hybrid models and some, including Microsoft itself, have suggested that prolonged remote working isn’t healthy or good for business. According to the company’s survey, however, many employees (56%) reported they were happier working from home. The improvements the shift has brought to home life seems to be the biggest reason, with 55% enjoying more time with family during lunch hours. The trade-off, it seems, is that the workday seems to be longer, with one in three (30%) respondents working beyond their shift. Employees have also said they miss meeting their colleagues in person, with 65% saying it’s what they miss most about the office. As the UK and the rest of the world moves towards a ‘new normal’, the use of hybrid working may evolve and a ‘remote-only’ strategy isn’t likely to be used as a long term strategy. “This is not home-working in normal times – much of this experience has been enforced home working and many people have been dealing with a range of additional pressures and anxieties,” said Ben Willmott, head of public policy at CIPD. “It is, therefore, crucial that line managers ensure people are not over-working and provide flexibility and support to anyone struggling with any aspect of working from home.”
  • CCS social value policy
    As the UK’s largest public procurement organisation, we are committed to helping our customers across all parts of the public sector deliver maximum value for money for the taxpayer. We use our national buying power and extensive depth and breadth of procurement expertise to develop market leading commercial solutions for the procurement of common goods and services that ensure value for customers of all sizes. These solutions help our customers focus more of their precious time and resources on delivering their key priorities. We also know that for many of our customers across the public sector, maximising value means both saving money and securing social value. We are committed to ensuring that we can help them to achieve this at all stages of the procurement process.
  • Leeds commits to working with European cities on important issues
    Despite the UK’s exit from the European Union, Leeds and German city Dortmund are committing to strengthening relations with each other and have re-signed their memorandum of understanding to work on and share valuable insights around issues like climate change, economic development and health and wellbeing. The two cities have been partners for 52 years and with the UK now out of the EU, the cities wanted to reaffirm their ongoing and successful partnership by pledging to continue to work together across social, educational, cultural and economic exchange and to increase the prosperity of the cities of Leeds and Dortmund, as well as their residents. By committing to their continued relationship, the local authorities in both the UK and Germany can benefit from shared learning, advice and best practice from one another, particularly at a time of great change in the UK-European relationship.
  • Multi-cloud and 5G drive service providers’ use of AI-based closed-loop automation
    The road to autonomous networks is chock full of AI, ML and closed-loop automation for service providers. While closed-loop automation within service providers’ networks has been ongoing for years now, 5G, multi-cloud, and edge compute use cases require deeper visibility into networks and services. Closed-loop automation takes human error—and in some cases, jobs—out of the equation by eliminating manual tasks and processes while also proactively fixing network issues. On Friday, Juniper announced its Paragon Automation platform, which it said is a modular portfolio of cloud-native applications that can enable closed-loop automation. Unlike some vendor’s automation solutions, Juniper said Paragon was build from the ground up for 5G and multi-cloud environments.
  • DCMS publishes digital identities and trust framework
    The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published a draft set of rules on the future use of digital identities. It has opened up the UK digital identities and trust framework – set up as an alpha prototype for testing in public and private services – for consultation until 11 March, saying it is aimed at making it easier for people to verify their identities using technology. The move has been accompanied by the Government Digital Service (GDS) publishing a collection of policy papers on using attributes within the trust framework. The steps come as the government is winding down its support for the GOV.UK Verify identity assurance mechanism for public services, take-up of which has been generally disappointing despite the surge in sign-ups connected with the increased demand for universal credit support caused by the pandemic lockdown. In the foreword to the framework, Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman says DCMS is not aiming to produce any solutions but that the framework provides rules on which others can do so.
  • Over a Third of UK Home Workers are Switching to Mobile Data
    A new YouGov survey of 4,328 British adults, which was commissioned by mobile operator O2, has found that 36% of Brits currently working from home (1,351 of the respondents) are regularly switching to mobile broadband (4G / 5G data) to stay online and 61% say it’s made the working experience better. The aforementioned results are said to reflect those who are working from home and have “experienced issues with their broadband router,” which meant they ended up connecting to mobile data instead as a backup (an example of casual network resilience in modern domestic connectivity). Sadly, the survey doesn’t examine what kind of “issues” have caused this (e.g. slow ISP speeds, local network congestion, poor WiFi etc.) and thus it lacks some context.
  • £51.3 billion of funding announced for councils to plan for year ahead
    Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed today that councils across England will have access to £51.3 billion next year. This represents a £2.3 billion increase on this year, including access to an extra £1 billion for social care to help support vulnerable adults and children. The funding package gives councils the resources they need to continue to deliver services and support their communities during the pandemic, while protecting council taxpayers from excessive increases. It will also enable councils to play a crucial role in the nation’s recovery in helping schools and local businesses to reopen safely and support the most vulnerable. Final allocations for the £670 million fund to enable councils to continue reducing council tax bills for those least able to pay have also been confirmed, which will help households impacted financially by the pandemic. This is above the usual council tax support available for councils each year.
  • Should you be worried about cloud lock-in?
    Regulatory changes and open-source platforms are addressing long-standing concerns about costs and complexity Vendor lock-in is a much-discussed concern when it comes to cloud. After operating on-prem for years, with the freedom to change just about any part of their environment, many companies are wary of handing everything over to a single supplier. But those fears might be overblown, especially in a world moving towards multi-cloud and open source. In the ‘Multi-cloud: are we nearly there yet?’ panel at Computing’s Deskflix conference this week, panellists said that lock-in is an issue for many companies, but predicted that the situation would soon resolve itself. Although the cloud is inherently flexible, switching providers can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive. There are many considerations to take into account, like data egress charges and interoperability between providers’ cloud apps. However, Amanda Brock, CEO of OpenUK – an organisation dedicated to supporting open-source technologies in the UK – said, “Standards and interoperability are coming. Changing providers looks expensive to companies, but regulators are driving us down the route of having something that isn’t vendor-specific.”
  • Virgin Media to hire 400 apprentices, interns and graduates
    Virgin Media makes investment in future workforce Virgin Media is to hire 400 new graduates, interns, and apprentices in 2021 as it continues its network upgrade and expansion programme. The announcement coincides with National Apprenticeship Week, with the company promising that successful applications will benefit from a structured development programme to build the skills and knowledge to support their career. Virgin Media has hired 494 such recruits in the past two years and its 2021 intake is a 163% increase from 2020.
  • Oracle users can now run hybrid cloud absolutely anywhere in the world
    Oracle has expanded its hybrid cloud portfolio with a new offering called Oracle Roving Edge Infrastructure that allows organizations to run cloud workloads from anywhere. The tech giant’s new offering brings core infrastructure services to the edge through ruggedized, portable and scalable server nodes called Roving Edge Devices (REDs). By using Oracle Roving Edge Infrastructure, organizations can run their cloud workloads from anywhere in the world including the back of a plane, a polar observatory or even an oil tanker in the mid-Atlantic. The new service is part of Oracle’s hybrid cloud portfolio which provides customers with more flexibility and control over their cloud deployments to help cut costs.
  • UK government determined not to let a good digital identity crisis go to waste
    There is apparently a trust problem around digital identities and no wonder, with talk of vaccine passports being required for previously unrestricted activities. To address it the UK government today published its draft rules of engagement regarding the future use of digital identities. The big idea is to make it quicker and easier for people to verify themselves using modern technology. In other words create digital ID documents that are just as trusted as analogue ones such as passports and birth certificates. On a lot if levels this is a great idea. We can already pay for things, store tickets and do banking on our phones, so why shouldn’t they be trusted for all other types of identification? If done properly a digital identity would be completely trusted and by the only form of ID you need. This is described as a ‘trust framework’ in the government policy paper. “Establishing trust online is absolutely essential if we are to unleash the future potential of our digital economy,” said Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman. “Today we are publishing draft rules of the road to guide organisations using new digital identity technology and we want industry, civil society groups and the public to make their voices heard. Our aim is to help people confidently verify themselves while safeguarding their privacy so we can build back better and fairer from the pandemic.”
  • Is overseeing cloud operations the new career path to CEO?
    At Microsoft, IBM and Amazon, signs point to ‘yes’ When Amazon announced last week that founder and CEO Jeff Bezos planned to step back from overseeing operations and shift into an executive chairman role, it also revealed that AWS CEO Andy Jassy, head of the company’s profitable cloud division, would replace him. As Bessemer partner Byron Deeter pointed out on Twitter, Jassy’s promotion was similar to Satya Nadella’s ascent at Microsoft: in 2014, he moved from executive VP in charge of Azure to the chief exec’s office. Similarly, Arvind Krishna, who was promoted to replace Ginni Rometti as IBM CEO last year, also was formerly head of the company’s cloud business. Could Nadella’s successful rise serve as a blueprint for Amazon as it makes a similar transition? While there are major differences in the missions of these companies, it’s inevitable that we will compare these two executives based on their former jobs. It’s true that they have an awful lot in common, but there are some stark differences, too.
  • How COVID-19 is shaping enterprise networking
    Cloud APIs, automation, and branch connectivity are top of mind for enterprise network teams. The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced the networking arena in a number of ways, including the rise of fully automated remote offices, the need to support a “branch of one,” and the growth of new communications software tools. “One of the biggest trends we are seeing is business agility. That is, IT looking at the tech they have deployed and evaluating it not just in terms of speeds and feeds, but how agile it is to handle whatever’s coming next,” said Todd Nightingale, Cisco’s Enterprise Networking & Cloud business chief. “Software APIs are a huge part of that trend, because it is amazingly easier to handle changes through APIs and software that make it possible to change things in a day rather than months.” In Cisco’s case, Nightingale says it’s looking to increase support for technologies such as open-source programming tools Terraform and Ansible to make automation easier and more agile.
  • Farmers See Small Improvements in UK Mobile and Broadband
    The National Farmers Union (NFU) has published the results from their annual (2020) survey of 430 members, which found that just 20% of farmers had access to fixed “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) speeds (up from 17% last year) and 11% have no indoor mobile signal at all (better than the 15% recorded last year). Admittedly farmers tend to work in some of the United Kingdom’s most sparse and remote rural areas, which frequently end up being last on the list to be upgraded (if they’re improved at all) due to the economic challenges of building expensive networks to cater for so few users over a wide area. As such the fact that they suffer a greater proportion of connectivity problems will come as no surprise.
  • Practical Information Governance Starts with IT
    This year, the landscape of corporate risk has become increasingly intense and complicated, making sound, practical IG more important than ever before. In corporate risk management, a lot is often lost in translation between IT and legal. These two groups sit at the heart of information governance (IG) and corporate risk management, but because many organizations continue to address legal, privacy, data, and security risks in silos, collaboration between IT and legal teams has become the exception rather than the rule. The result of this lack of unity between key stakeholders is a myriad of unnecessary challenges, lack of requirement understanding, gaps in governance, and increased risk. Organizations looking to take a strong, practical approach to risk management must start by building bridges between legal and IT, ensuring that IT buy-in is established at the outset of a new IG initiative.
  • MLL Telecom announces key business development appointments
    MLL Telecom, a specialist provider of secure managed network services for the public sector, has appointed Ross Billington (pictured) as strategic client director and David Porter as business development manager. Jeremy Wastie, head of public sector sales at MLL Telecom, explained, “This an exciting time for MLL as the company continues to experience rapid growth following significant new and repeat business successes from UK Local Authorities and the NHS. We are delighted to have Ross and David onboard with their proven sales and key account management experience earned at major blue-chip companies. They will undoubtedly help us strengthen and develop our strategic relationships and propositions.” In his new role, Billington will take responsibility for sales and key account management for the Midlands, Wales and EastNet, one of the company’s largest accounts. He joins MLL Telecom following 13 years at Capita, where he managed projects for local authorities and other regional public sector organisations. Prior to that, he worked at Synetrix where he gained specialist knowledge of complex sales processes involving IT services, service architecture and managed services. Porter’s remit will include managing and growing business opportunities within the NHS. He has extensive networks and telecoms sales experience, having worked at companies including Ericsson, Vodafone, Capita and Cisco. Porter was most recently responsible for the management and growth of key accounts at Redcentric, including the NHS and public sector organisations in the South, Central and West of England.
  • Zoom blooper turns lawyer into a kitten: ‘I’m here live, I’m not a cat’
    udge Roy Ferguson of the 394th Judicial District of Texas in Brewster County used the occasion to deliver a timely tech tip for Zoom users on Tuesday: “If a child used your computer before you join a virtual hearing, check the Zoom video options to be sure filters are off.”
  • “My preferred scenario? I never have to go back to work” – LSE CIO Laura Dawson on tech-driven futures
    Laura Dawson of the LSE talks to Noel Anderson about the future of technology in education; data platforms (and why we won’t get a global, unified one any time soon); and AI Has Covid-19 changed the future of technology, or merely accelerated what was already on the horizon? How can we get the general public to see AI as a force for good, rather than thinking of the Terminator films? And just how keen should we be to return to commuting while lodged firmly in someone else’s armpit? To answer these questions and more, we spoke to Laura Dawson, CIO of the London School of Economics, for Delta’s Tech to the Future series. In this series, Noel Anderson talks to IT leaders at some of the UK’s most recognisable organisations about how technology is impacting their industry, and what the future might bring.
  • How a multi-cloud strategy can simplify your path to the cloud
    Exploring the benefits of adopting a multi-cloud strategy This year marks my tenth anniversary at VMware. A lot can change in life, but it pales in comparison to how much technology has changed in a decade. When I first joined in 2010, the conversation around cloud computing was a simple one: public or private. Over time, it evolved into a discussion around hybrid cloud, which focused on the idea that enterprises had to choose between an on-premises, public or private cloud environment. The notion that an enterprise could use a variety of different clouds was not even a consideration. In subsequent years we’ve seen how far from reality that was. As organizations have wrestled with combining their traditional application portfolios and creating cloud native apps, it’s become clear that choosing the right cloud environment to support these cloud apps is critical to performance. Now, increasing demands for environments that allow enterprises to build, run, manage, secure and connect apps have prompted the dawn of a ‘mix and match’ era of private, public, and edge clouds – all supporting the explosion of applications that are helping deliver the powerful, personalized digital experiences valued by customers and employees. In fact, according to Forrester, CIOs expect the number of clouds – private, public and edge environments – they use to increase 53% in the next 3 years, from 5.6 today to 8.7 in 2023, on the back of an increasing reliance on cloud-native applications to power innovation.
  • When loss of vital broadband becomes a life-changing issue
    Being cut off was once just an annoying inconvenience: now it is a lifeline for work and home schooling Being cut off was once just an annoying inconvenience: now it is a lifeline for work and home schooling
  • How BT helps prop up the UK economy
    BT employs one in every 12 people in the UK’s IT and communications sector and is responsible for generating £1 in every £75 produced in the UK economy, according to a report from consultancy firm Hatch. The report, “The Economic Impact of BT Group in the UK,” also reckons that around 300,000 full-time jobs in the UK are supported through BT’s direct employment, its spending on suppliers and – a bit of a stretch this, one perhaps – the spending of its employees. BT directly employs 82,800 people in the UK, but has been under pressure to cut this number to boost its “revenues per employee” figure – a benchmark that is increasingly being referenced by industry commentators worldwide. (See BT still stands for bloated telecom, BT looks more bloated than ever and Telco staff face crisis as cuts claim 127K jobs at big CSPs since 2015.)
  • Trends in collaboration technologies
    Making predictions for anything in these Covid-defined times can leave even the most switched on feeling foolish While it may be strangely comforting that the only certainty at the moment is uncertainty, this doesn’t help businesses with the planning they need to do over the course of 2021. But one thing they can be assured of is that business will go on. It might be undertaken in a way that was not planned for even as recently as this time last year and by people who will be based in and out of office premises, but it will go on.
  • The next technological wave is here. Are you ready?
    What really stood out the most from an industry perspective last year was the surge in the internet consumption of our customers, and in turn, the increase in traffic on our network. Following the dynamics of Moore’s Law, a surge in traffic, year on year is to be expected – we typically see our network grow by circa 20 to 30 per cent annually. What we actually experienced in 2020 was significantly higher with a 72 per cent surge! While much of this was driven by Covid-19 we are also seeing the continuation of a trend with consumers doing so much more online each year. The majority of providers were ready for this increase in usage, although some have found it more challenging. Fortunately we were well positioned to absorb it thanks to how we run our network coupled with our network investment programme which was already in flight when the pandemic struck. Embracing irreversible trends The move to remote working is a big step change that has signalled an irreversible trend. Moving forward employers will be expected to support a balance of office and home working to attract and retain their most valuable asset, their people. Another change, that I don’t think will be easily reversed, is the accelerating shift to online shopping. Consumers are now accustomed to ordering their commodities and trying them out in the comfort of their home. All these activities need to be underpinned by reliable connectivity. The other significant shift from last year was the massive change that came about in customer expectations. What that means for our sector is that tolerance for down time has lowered considerably thanks to the shift to remote working and a dependency on a fast, reliable connection. Levels of expectation are now different with consumers and businesses seeking out a provider they can trust. The impact of downtime or unreliable performance is very significant, people simply cannot go about their daily lives without a reliable connection. Meeting these expectations and delivering a great customer experience will be one of the most important challenges for the channel this decade.
  • Someone in the UK government spent a huge amount of taxpayers’ money on luxury chocolate right before Christmas and now there is an investigation
    UK officials have begun an internal investigation after thousands of pounds were spent buying high-priced chocolate on a government credit card a few days before Christmas. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) started its probe into a potential breach of its finance policies after Insider made it aware that £6,248.40 was spent on a corporate credit card at Hotel Chocolat, a luxury brand chocolatier, on a single day. The transaction, dating from December 21, is included in the ICO’s corporate charge payments in excess of £500 for the 2020-21 tax year. The chocolate purchase is the single largest transaction made on an ICO corporate credit card in the last 10 months. Most of the other amounts charged to the ICO’s corporate credit card are for adverts, job listings, and web design. The ICO is the government agency that regulates data use, privacy issues, and the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Demand for tech courses on the rise in British universities
    The popularity of tech-based higher education subjects is climbing sharply, with acceptances to AI courses rising 400 per cent in the last decade The latest application and acceptance data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) shows that technology-based subjects are experiencing a sharp spike in popularity in UK universities. According to UCAS, acceptances to computer science (CS) degrees increased by about 50 per cent during the decade from 2011 to 2020. In 2011, there were 20,420 acceptances (students accepting offered places) to CS courses, increasing to 30,090 in 2020.
  • 1 in 5 UK premises now have full fibre broadband option
    The UK hit 19% FTTP on the last day of 2020 and the next percentage point increase has taken just 5 and a bit weeks. Hopefully this sort of roll-out pace will continue putting the UK on course for 28 to 30% FTTP coverage by New Years Eve 2021. The full fibre coverage figure as of the morning of 6th February 2021 was 20.02% of UK premises.
  • OneWeb UK Confirms BT Talks – Possible Rural Broadband Fix
    Satellite broadband operator OneWeb, which is partly owned by the UK government and aims to build a mega constellation of “high-speed” broadband satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), has confirmed that they’re in early-stage talks with BT about the use of their network to help connect remote rural areas. At present OneWeb has launched a total of 110 LEOs into space and the initial plan is to build a constellation of 648 satellites, which is enough for a reasonable level of global coverage by around the end of 2022. After that they have future approval for a total of 2,000 satellites and 1,280 of those will be a second-generation model that sits in a higher Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) of 8,500km, but that would require more investment. in theory the new network could deliver ultrafast broadband speeds (100Mbps+) and latency times of under 40ms (example), although we still have no idea what sort of service will actually be made available to the domestic connectivity market and how much it might cost. Nevertheless, if recent tests by the rival Starlink (SpaceX) platform are anything to go by, OneWeb could offer a fix for poor broadband speeds in rural areas.

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