This week the EU will make an effort to reach out to African leaders on climate and host of other issues at a summit in Brussels on 17 and 18 February – but the European side can expect to be met with concerns about neocolonialism and its failure to deliver genuine vaccine equity.
It will also be an important week in the EU’s ongoing rule-of-law crisis, with the European Court of Justice expected to issue a ruling on Wednesday (16 February) that could allow for the suspension of EU funds for those who break rule-of-law principles.
Let’s look at the details.
The leaders of the EU and the African Union (AU) will meet for the sixth European Union – African Union summit, in Brussels.
Heads of state and government will sit down together at roundtables, including on the climate and energy transition, digital issues, and transport, to try to hammer out what’s been touted as a new partnership.
A key issue will be helping Africa green its energy systems; the continent already faces some of the worst consequences of climate change as a result of the industrialisation of other parts of the world including Europe.
An Africa-Europe Investment Package will also be launched, built on already existing funds from the EU budget.
On Thursday, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is scheduled to meet with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
That rule-of-law ruling
The ECJ’s Wednesday ruling, which will be live-streamed from Luxembourg, is expected to dismiss a complaint by Warsaw and Budapest.
But such an outcome would also put Brussels in the spotlight, since it would face increased pressure to unbox a new tool for taking action against countries like Poland and Hungary that compromise judicial independence and fail to stop corruption. Action by Brussels could lead to the suspension of EU funds.
In the afternoon, in Strasbourg, MEPs will discuss the next steps.
In a glaring sign of how uncomfortable the issue is for the commission, von der Leyen’s participation in the debate had not been confirmed as of Sunday evening.
Instead, von der Leyen was expected to be in Marbourg, Germany, on Wednesday, for an event called Vaccine Equity for Africa.
The parliament has long been pushing the commission to trigger the conditionality mechanism against Poland and Hungary for rule-of-law breaches, but the EU executive had said it would hold back until the court ruling.
The parliament has previously threatened to take the commission to court over its reluctance to implement the new EU law which entered into force at the beginning of 2021.
In other values-related issues, MEPs will hold a debate Tuesday morning on the issue of Pegasus spyware, which the Hungarian and Polish governments have used on political opponents and journalists.
Also Tuesday, the civil liberties committee will vote on a report on “golden passports” and “golden visa” schemes that give access and citizenship to the EU for investors from outside the bloc.
On Wednesday, MEPs will debate EU-Russia relations, European security and Russia’s military threat against Ukraine with EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell.
On Monday (14 February), after a ceremony to celebrate 20 years of the euro, MEPs will be able to quiz European Central Bank president Christiane Lagarde.
On Tuesday, the commission will present a defence package in Strasbourg. It will include plans on how to secure critical technologies for security and defence.
On Wednesday, MEPs will debate the current intra-EU travel situation during the Covid-19 pandemic, and proposals to extend the Covid certificate.
On Friday, the Munich Security Conference, the annual confab on international defence strategy, will get underway.
Russian president Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking Russian officials were not expected to attend the Munich conference this year.
Malawi aids Israel by sending agricultural workers during the Hamas war | International
On November 25, a group of 221 young workers from Malawi departed for Tel Aviv, from where they would disperse to work on Israeli farms. Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said in early November that the war with Hamas has significantly affected the country’s agricultural sector after thousands of foreign workers left the country. Given the limited employment prospects in Malawi, which ranks as the fourth poorest country globally according to the World Bank, the African nation has forged a partnership with Israel to provide farmworkers.
“We’re thinking of initially sending around 5,000 people,” said Malawi’s Information Minister, Moses Kunkuyu in a recent BBC interview. Amid a foreign currency crisis, the people of Malawi are also grappling with soaring prices and rampant inflation. Malawi’s Labor Secretary Wezi Kayira says it has been exporting labor to countries like Israel for a long time since it creates jobs for the country’s youth and generates foreign exchange.
They pick us up on buses every morning and we go to work on nearby farms and fields. We are aware of the tough situation in Gaza, but we feel safe
Malawian farmworker in Israel
“A portion of their wages will cover living costs in Israel, while the remainder will be remitted to personal accounts here in Malawi to boost foreign exchange,” said Kayira in a statement shared with the media.
EL PAÍS chatted on WhatsApp with a young man from Malawi who has been working on a farm in northern Israel picking and packaging fruit. He prefers not to share personal details or where he is living in Israel. “They pick us up on buses every morning and we go to work on nearby farms and fields,” he said. “We are aware of the tough situation in Gaza, but we feel safe.” He said laborers from Malawi have arrived on three flights so far, with the most recent one on November 25. He estimates that around 350 Malawians have arrived as of now. “We’re spread out in different locations — some of us work on livestock farms, while others pick vegetables.” The young man tells this newspaper that he came to Israel to earn money so he can pursue his education. “The economic situation in my country is very difficult.”
The labor-export agreement follows Israel’s recent $60 million aid package to support Malawi’s economic recovery. The country’s growth has stagnated amid macroeconomic imbalances that continue to deteriorate, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has been criticized for the potential risks the agreement imposes on Malawian citizens traveling to conflict zones, as well as the lack of transparency surrounding its negotiation. “Sending people to a war-torn country like Israel, where some countries are withdrawing their labor is unheard of,” Malawian opposition leader Kondwani Nankhumwa told the BBC’s Newsday program.
Habiba Osman, executive director of the Malawi Human Rights Commission, is concerned about the secrecy surrounding the agreement. “The government did not provide any prior information even though transparency is their obligation. We still lack information about this agreement between Israel and Malawi. Our aim is to ensure there are no human rights violations,” said Osman, who noted that another Israeli plane landed at Lilongwe International Airport airport on November 28 and is still there.
Sending people to a war-torn country like Israel, where some countries are withdrawing their labor is unheard of
Malawian opposition leader Kondwani Nankhumwa
Safe environments and decent wages
In addition to security concerns, opposition and humanitarian organizations worry about the working conditions for Malawian citizens in Israel. In 2015, Human Rights Watch reported abuses towards foreign agricultural workers in the country. However, Minister Kayira said, “The deployed youth will work at certified and approved locations, which are classified as fit and safe environments with medical insurance and repatriation arrangements for the youth involved.”
Malawians have expressed interest in working in Israel since the initiative became public, and government recruiters have fanned out across the country to explain the details and contract conditions. The Times of Malawi reported that a recruiter based in Lilongwe conducted a meeting at Chiwoko Primary School and told the job seekers “they were going to Israel for fruit picking and the treatment of plants and vegetables, mainly in greenhouses. The contract is for three years of working eight hours a day, and the salary will be $1,500 per month.”
Malawi and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1964, which have remained intact even after other African nations cut ties after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In 2020, Malawi expressed its intention to become the first African country to open an embassy in Jerusalem, a significant diplomatic decision that has yet to be finalized. Most countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv, as they do not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem, which it occupied in 1967. They believe the status of this holy city should be subject to negotiation for a just and peaceful resolution between Israelis and Palestinians. The United States relocated its embassy to Jerusalem in 2018 during the Trump administration.
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Excellent Opportunity For Investors In Liquid Cooling For Datacenters
One notable development is the acquisition of CoolIT Systems, a long-standing player in the liquid cooling market, by global investment company KKR. The deal, reportedly valued at $270 million, is aimed at enabling CoolIT to expand its operations and serve a wider range of global customers in the datacenter market. This market encompasses enterprise, high-performance computing (HPC), and cloud service provider segments.
KKR’s investment in CoolIT indicates its anticipation of a profitable return. However, their statements regarding the acquisition also reflect a recognition of the challenges facing the datacenter industry in terms of sustainability. Kyle Matter, Managing Director at KKR, emphasized the increasing data and computing needs and their potential environmental impact. He expressed a belief that liquid cooling plays a crucial role in reducing the emissions footprint of the digital economy.
Projections suggest that liquid cooling will witness significant growth, potentially capturing up to 26% of the datacenter thermal management market by 2026. This is driven by the deployment of more high-performance infrastructure. CoolIT, which is soon to be acquired, has already demonstrated its growth potential by securing a spot on the Financial Times’ list of fastest-growing US companies this year, ranking at number 218.
Alan Priestley, a former technical marketing manager at Intel and currently a VP analyst at Gartner, highlighted the necessity for many companies to invest in liquid cooling to address the challenges associated with managing high-performance servers. As processors become more powerful, liquid cooling offers an effective solution to address heat dissipation concerns and optimize server performance in datacenters.
According to Priestley, CPUs currently consume around 250W to 300W of power, while GPUs range from 300W to 500W. For servers handling demanding workloads such as AI training, those equipped with up to eight GPUs can draw as much as 7-10kW per node.
Priestley further explained that datacenters are striving to increase rack densities by incorporating more memory per node and higher-performance networking. Accommodating such heightened performance requirements necessitates increased power consumption.
Andrew Buss, a senior research director at IDC, concurred with this assessment. He emphasized that as chip or package power densities continue to rise, liquid cooling becomes a more efficient and preferred option.
Buss highlighted that support for direct liquid cooling loops is now being integrated into many modern datacenter facilities and colocation providers. He pointed out that companies like Atos/Bull have embraced direct contact liquid cooling loops for their power-dense high-performance computing (HPC) servers. This allows them to fit six AMD Epyc sockets with maximum memory, NVMe storage, and 100Gbps networking into a compact 1U chassis, all cooled by a custom cooling manifold.
The growing demand for higher performance and power-intensive applications is driving the need for efficient cooling solutions like liquid cooling in datacenters. By adopting liquid cooling technologies, datacenters can effectively manage the increasing power requirements of advanced processors and GPUs while maintaining optimal performance and mitigating potential heat-related issues.
According to Moises Levy, an expert in datacenter power and cooling research at Omdia, the global adoption of liquid cooling is expected to continue increasing.
Levy suggests that while liquid cooling has reached or is nearing a tipping point for specific applications with compute-intensive workloads, its widespread adoption in the broader datacenter market is still on the horizon. He highlights that direct-to-chip and immersion cooling technologies are likely to be the primary disruptors, projected to have the highest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the coming years.
Direct liquid cooling, supported by CoolIT, involves circulating a coolant, typically water, through cold plates directly attached to components like processors. This type of system is relatively easier to implement within existing rack infrastructure.
On the other hand, immersion cooling submerges the entire server node in a non-conductive dielectric fluid coolant. Specialized racks, some of which position the nodes vertically instead of horizontally, are typically required for this type of system. Immersion cooling tends to be favored for new-build server rooms.
As liquid cooling technologies continue to advance, their increasing adoption is expected to bring significant benefits to datacenters in terms of improved efficiency and enhanced cooling capabilities.
European cloud operator OVHcloud has developed a unique system that combines two cooling approaches for optimal performance. Their innovative solution involves utilizing water blocks attached to the CPU and GPU while employing immersion cooling with a dielectric fluid for the remaining components.
While OVHcloud currently reserves this system for their cloud infrastructure handling intensive workloads like AI, gaming, and high-performance compute (HPC) applications, they have indicated potential future expansion.
In a similar vein, GlobalConnect, a leading data center colocation provider, plans to offer immersion-based cooling as an option to all their customers. Teaming up with immersion cooling specialist GRC, GlobalConnect announced their system deployment in February. They aim to gradually introduce this advanced cooling technology across all 16 of their data centers located in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, and Finland, based on customer demand.
The question arises: Can liquid cooling help achieve sustainability objectives? OVH shared that its combined system is significantly more efficient than traditional air cooling methods. They claim that in tests, their cooling system achieved a favorable partial power usage effectiveness rating (PUE) of 1.004, which specifically measures the energy consumed by the cooling system.
However, Buss, an industry expert, urged caution in adopting liquid cooling and emphasized the need for careful consideration, particularly in waste heat management. He highlighted that implementing “liquid cooling done right” can certainly contribute to enhanced efficiency and environmental sustainability by reducing reliance on compressor-based cooling and leveraging heat-exchanger technology to maintain optimal cooling loop temperatures.
Nevertheless, Buss emphasized the importance of proper implementation, as simply discharging the heat into the environment, such as a lake or river, can have detrimental effects. Therefore, the design of the ultimate heat path should be carefully planned to maximize reuse opportunities whenever feasible.
The European Union (EU) has recently expressed its desire to see more cities utilizing waste heat from data centers to heat residential homes. However, challenges arise because the heat generated is often not at a sufficiently high temperature, necessitating additional energy consumption to address this limitation. Despite these obstacles, some data center operators, like QTS in the Groningen region of the Netherlands, have ventured into exploring such initiatives.
In the previous year, the United States Department of Energy made investments in projects aimed at reducing energy consumption for cooling purposes in data centers, albeit with a relatively modest funding amount of $42 million. Additionally, we highlighted the swift adoption of liquid cooling by Chinese data centers as a response to new government regulations.
Among the liquid cooling vendors that secured investments was Iceotope, a UK-based company that received £30 million ($35.7 million at the time) in a funding round led by a Singapore-based private equity provider, with a focus on penetrating the Asian market.
Intel also forged a partnership with Green Revolution Cooling to explore liquid immersion technology. However, the chip giant recently decided to halt its plans for a $700 million research and development lab dedicated to cooling technology in Oregon, as part of its cost-cutting measures.
Unlocking Efficiency & Performance: The Evolution of Datacenters
Datacenters play a critical role in the digital age, serving as the backbone of our increasingly connected world. These centralized facilities house an extensive network of servers, storage systems, and networking equipment that enable the storage, processing, and distribution of vast amounts of data. As technology advances and data demands continue to surge, datacenters are evolving to meet the challenges of efficiency, scalability, and performance.
1. The Rise of Hyperscale Datacenters:
Hyperscale datacenters have emerged as the powerhouses of the digital infrastructure landscape. These massive facilities are designed to handle the most demanding workloads, supporting cloud services, AI, machine learning, and big data analytics. With their extensive computing power and storage capabilities, hyperscale datacenters are fueling innovation and driving digital transformation across industries.
2. The Shift to Edge Computing:
As data-driven applications proliferate, the need for low-latency and real-time processing has become paramount. This has led to the rise of edge computing, a decentralized computing model that brings data processing closer to the source of data generation. Edge datacenters are strategically located in proximity to users and devices, enabling faster response times and reducing the burden on network infrastructure. This trend is particularly crucial for applications requiring real-time data analysis, such as autonomous vehicles, IoT devices, and augmented reality.
3. Green Datacenters: Driving Sustainability:
With the increasing energy consumption of datacenters, the industry is actively pursuing greener and more sustainable solutions. Datacenters are exploring innovative approaches to reduce their carbon footprint, optimize power usage, and increase energy efficiency. These initiatives include adopting renewable energy sources, implementing advanced cooling techniques, and optimizing server utilization through virtualization and consolidation. Green datacenters not only contribute to environmental conservation but also help organizations meet their sustainability goals.
4. Security and Data Privacy:
Data security and privacy have become paramount concerns in the digital era. Datacenters house vast amounts of sensitive information, making them attractive targets for cyber threats. As a result, datacenters are continuously enhancing their security measures, implementing robust firewalls, encryption protocols, and intrusion detection systems. Compliance with data protection regulations such as GDPR and CCPA is also a top priority for datacenters, ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of user data.
5. The Emergence of Liquid Cooling:
The ever-increasing power density of modern servers has led to significant heat dissipation challenges. To overcome this, datacenters are turning to liquid cooling as an efficient solution. Liquid cooling systems, such as direct-to-chip and immersion cooling, offer superior thermal management, enabling higher performance and energy efficiency. By efficiently dissipating heat, liquid cooling minimizes the risk of thermal throttling and extends the lifespan of critical hardware components.
Technology of Today & Tomorrow
Datacenters are at the forefront of the digital revolution, enabling seamless connectivity, storage, and processing of data. As technology advances, datacenters are continuously evolving to meet the escalating demands for efficiency, scalability, and sustainability. From hyperscale datacenters to edge computing, green initiatives, security enhancements, and liquid cooling solutions, the datacenter industry is shaping the future of our digital landscape. By embracing these advancements, organizations can unlock the full potential of their data and drive innovation in the digital age.
Open Source Software (OSS) Supply Chain, Security Risks And Countermeasures
OSS Security Risks And Countermeasures
The software development landscape increasingly hinges on open source components, significantly aiding continuous integration, DevOps practices, and daily updates. Last year, Synopsys discovered that 97% of codebases in 2022 incorporated open source, with specific sectors like computer hardware, cybersecurity, energy, and the Internet of Things (IoT) reaching 100% OSS integration.
While leveraging open source enhances efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and developer productivity, it inadvertently paves a path for threat actors seeking to exploit the software supply chain. Enterprises often lack visibility into their software contents due to complex involvement from multiple sources, raising concerns highlighted in VMware’s report last year. Issues include reliance on communities to patch vulnerabilities and associated security risks.
Raza Qadri, founder of Vibertron Technologies, emphasizes OSS’s pivotal role in critical infrastructure but underscores the shock experienced by developers and executives regarding their applications’ OSS contribution. Notably, Qadri cites that 95% of vulnerabilities surface in “transitive main dependencies,” indirectly added open source packages.
Qadri also acknowledges developers’ long-standing use of open source. However, recent years have witnessed heightened awareness, not just among developers but also among attackers. Malware attacks targeting the software supply chain have surged, as demonstrated in significant breaches like SolarWinds, Kaseya, and the Log4j exploit.
Log4j’s widespread use exemplifies the consolidation of risk linked to extensively employed components. This popular Java-based logging tool’s vulnerabilities showcase the systemic dependency on widely used software components, posing significant threats if exploited by attackers.
Moreover, injection of malware into repositories like GitHub, PyPI, and NPM has emerged as a growing threat. Cybercriminals generate malicious versions of popular code to deceive developers, exploiting vulnerabilities when components are downloaded, often without the developers’ knowledge.
Despite OSS’s security risks, its transparency and visibility compared to commercial software offer certain advantages. Qadri points out the swift response to Log4j vulnerabilities as an example, highlighting OSS’s collaborative nature.
Efforts to fortify software supply chain security are underway, buoyed by multi-vendor frameworks, vulnerability tracking tools, and cybersecurity products. However, additional steps, such as enforcing recalls for defective OSS components and implementing component-level firewalls akin to packet-level firewalls, are necessary to fortify defenses and mitigate malicious attacks.
Qadri underscores the need for a holistic approach involving software bills of materials (SBOMs) coupled with firewall-like capabilities to ensure a comprehensive understanding of software contents and preemptive measures against malicious threats.
As the software supply chain faces ongoing vulnerabilities and attacks, concerted efforts are imperative to bolster security measures, safeguard against threats, and fortify the foundational aspects of open source components.
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— By John Elf | Science, Technology & Business contributor VoiceOfEU.com Digital
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