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What are the top trends coming down the line for cloud?

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Huawei’s Dinesh Wijekoon discusses the biggest trends affecting the cloud space and the challenges going forward.

Click here to view the full Cloud Week series.

To close out our Cloud Week on Siliconrepublic.com, we wanted to look to the future and see what the main trends are within the cloud sector.

Dinesh Wijekoon is a senior software architect in the Huawei research centre in Ireland as part of the company’s site reliability engineering lab, having previously worked as a software development engineer in Amazon Web Services.

He said AI is one of the biggest trends that is coming down the line in cloud computing, although he added that it is “very much a buzzword at the moment”.

AI and cloud computing

When it comes to cloud computing, Wijekoon said AI can be divided into that which is used by external customers and that which is used by internal customers.

External use of AI includes image recognition, language processing, recommendation engines and autonomous driving vehicles. Internal customers’ use of AI includes infrastructure, failure and scaling predictions, and logistics management.

While AI has plenty of well-known benefits, Wijekoon said cloud computing enables AI to process much larger volumes of data, which is why cloud is so important.

Taking the example of autonomous driving, he said that previously, if one person had a car, it would only have data from that one vehicle to work with. “But with AI, now they are collecting every car’s data across the whole car fleet, and they apply machine learning on top of that,” he said. “If there are 100,000 cars, all 100,000 cars get better the next day.”

He said he does not believe this would be possible without the help of cloud computing. “You need a huge environment [to process data], so the cloud enables you to have special purpose computing in order to do the work for the AI.”

However, he also noted that because AI is such a buzzword in this sector, businesses that rush to use it may end up using it for the wrong things.

“AI is not a silver bullet that fixes everything,” he said. “People should find the balance of where to use it and where not to use it because it comes with a huge cost, it comes with a lot of training and it takes time.”

Hybrid clouds

Another major trend within the industry is the use of hybrid cloud computing, which Wijekoon said is becoming more popular because of the flexibility it offers.

While public or private cloud offerings can work for certain workloads, they are unlikely to work for all. Therefore, the blended nature of hybrid brings both options to the table, allowing companies to move some infrastructure to the cloud, while retaining other components on-prem.

“It’s a real market and it’s addressing the real concerns that customers had for a long time,” said Wijekoon.

He added that hybrid solutions can also help address concerns around data protection laws such as GDPR.

Cybersecurity in the cloud

Wijekoon noted that security is another major concern among customers, but it is perhaps a misunderstood area. He said the mindset many people may have had in the past when it comes to security is that if you put information somewhere like the cloud, it’s not secure.

“It needs to live in your house or in your buildings and then it’s secure, but that’s not true,” he said.

“Running your own cloud or a small rack of computers would have more security problems than [a provider] who has perfected these solutions in the cloud.”

He said that cloud service providers also have much bigger budgets to spend on strong security, which can then be distributed to customers, making it more cost effective than businesses doing it themselves.

Concerns around cybersecurity in the cloud may grow following recent global cyberattacks such as the attack on the HSE, the attack on a major US gas pipeline and this week’s ransomware attack on the world’s largest meat producer.

“All these matters are making every customer concerned,” said Wijekoon. “[However], you can provide better solutions from the cloud because if you’re a small company with 10 people, you don’t have that much engineering or knowledge to make things secure.”

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2021 iPhone photography awards – in pictures | Technology

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The 14th annual iPhone photography awards offer glimpses of beauty, hope and the endurance of the human spirit. Out of thousands of submissions, photojournalist Istvan Kerekes of Hungary was named the grand prize winner for his image Transylvanian Shepherds. In it, two rugged shepherds traverse an equally rugged industrial landscape, bearing a pair of lambs in their arms.

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With Alphabet’s legendary commitment to products, we can’t wait to see what its robotics biz Intrinsic achieves • The Register

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Alphabet today launched its latest tech startup, Intrinsic, which aims to build commercial software that will power industrial robots.

Intrinsic will focus on developing software control tools for industrial robots used in manufacturing, we’re told. Its pitch is that the days of humans having to manually program and adjust a robot’s every move are over, and that mechanical bots should be more autonomous and smart, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and leaps in training techniques.

This could make robots easier to direct – give them a task, and they’ll figure out the specifics – and more efficient – the AI can work out the best way to achieve its goal.

“Over the last few years, our team has been exploring how to give industrial robots the ability to sense, learn, and automatically make adjustments as they’re completing tasks, so they work in a wider range of settings and applications,” said CEO Wendy Tan White.

“Working in collaboration with teams across Alphabet, and with our partners in real-world manufacturing settings, we’ve been testing software that uses techniques like automated perception, deep learning, reinforcement learning, motion planning, simulation, and force control.”

Tan White – a British entrepreneur and investor who was made an MBE by the Queen in 2016 for her services to the tech industry – will leave her role as vice president of X, Alphabet’s moonshot R&D lab, to concentrate on Intrinsic.

She earlier co-founded and was CEO of website-building biz Moonfruit, and helped multiple early-stage companies get up and running as a general partner at Entrepreneur First, a tech accelerator. She is also a board trustee of the UK’s Alan Turing Institute, and member of Blighty’s Digital Economic Council.

“I loved the role I played in creating platforms that inspired the imagination and entrepreneurship of people all over the world, and I’ve recently stepped into a similar opportunity: I’m delighted to share that I’m now leading Intrinsic, a new Alphabet company,” she said.

The new outfit is another venture to emerge from Google-parent Alphabet’s X labs, along with Waymo, the self-driving car startup; and Verily, a biotech biz. ®

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Charles River to create 90 new jobs at Ballina biologics site

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Charles River is expanding its testing capabilities in Ballina as part of its partnership with Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca.

Contract research organisation Charles River Laboratories is planning an €8m site expansion in Ballina to facilitate batch release testing for Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca.

The expansion at the Mayo site will create an additional 1,500 sq m of lab space and 90 highly skilled jobs in the area over the next three years.

Click here to check out the top sci-tech employers hiring right now.

The company provides longstanding partners AstraZeneca with outsourced regulated safety and development support on a range of treatments and vaccines, including testing and facilitating the deployment of Vaxzevria for Covid-19 and Fluenz for seasonal infleunza.

The latest investment follows earlier expansions at the Ballina site and Charles River recently announced plans to establish a dedicated laboratory space to handle testing of SARS-CoV-2 and other similar pathogens that cause human disease.

“We are incredibly proud of the transformational changes we have implemented on site and the role that Charles River has played in supporting the safe and timely roll-out of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine,” said Liam McHale, site director for Charles River Ballina.

“Throughout the pandemic, our site remained fully operational while keeping our employees safe and having a positive impact on human health. Our expanded facility will provide us with the increased capacity needed to continue the essential services we provide to our clients.”

Charles River acquired the Ballina facility, which focuses on biologics testing, in 2002. The company employs 230 people at its two facilities in Ireland, including the Mayo site and a site in Dublin, established in 2017, which serves as the EMEA and APAC headquarters for the company’s microbial solutions division.

IDA Ireland is supporting the expansion. Mary Buckley, executive director of the agency, said Charles River is an “employer of long standing” in Co Mayo.

“The enhancement of its product lines and the development of additional capability at the Ballina facility is most welcome,” she added. “Today’s announcement is strongly aligned to IDA Ireland’s regional pillar and its continued commitment to winning jobs and investment in regional locations.”

Dan Wygal, country president for AstraZeneca Ireland, added: “Our Covid-19 vaccine, Vaxzevria, undergoes extremely robust safety and quality testing prior to becoming available for patients. We are committed to bringing safe, effective vaccines to Ireland and other markets as quickly as possible, and Charles River will continue to be an important partner in this regard.”

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