Could shadow IT be a secret bright spot in your business?

Could shadow IT be a secret bright spot in your business?

Could shadow IT be a secret bright spot in your business?

Every business has an unseen dimension: shadow IT. Fortunately it only sounds menacing. In reality, it’s borne from the best of intentions – innovation among them.

Most IT professionals understand why shadow IT exists, but many have varying levels of tolerance for it. Some embrace it fully and bring it to light every chance they get, while others would rather see it cast into darkness for good.

To make peace with their shadow IT, organisations must understand its nuances, embracing its positives and converting its challenges into opportunities to innovate.

What is shadow IT, and why do employees use it?

Shadow IT is a catch-all term that includes any IT solution (think: applications, software, devices, etc.) that’s not expressly approved by or known to your IT team. They include personal computers, smartphones and a growing field of new cloud services.

With the switch to remote work, it’s easy to see why BYOD programmes have grown in popularity. Not only can they save companies some serious money (to the tune of $1.5 million a year), they also make it easier for employees to transition between personal and professional to-dos. All the more important when those two pieces are simultaneously playing out at home.

There are roughly 730 cloud services that usually underpin a company’s operations.

Software as a service (SaaS) applications accomplish a similar goal. From email and video conferencing to marketing and sales tasks, most teams use a variety of popular SaaS solutions every single day. What often goes undetected are the roughly 730 other cloud services that usually underpin a company’s operations.

So why keep IT in the dark? In reality, the motivation is far from malicious. On the whole, employees merely want to do the best job possible. If they feel their progress is being slowed, they’re likely to find an alternative channel. In fact, “97% said employees using their preferred technologies are more productive,” according to one survey of IT professionals.

How can shadow IT work for you?

For starters, Shadow IT can – and probably already does – uncork any productivity bottlenecks your team is experiencing. When employees don’t have to wait for IT approval, they’re more empowered to find a solution and implement it in real-time.

There is, however, such a thing as “good” and “bad” Shadow IT. Learning to distinguish between the two and take a balanced approach can give employees the innovation leeway they need to source their own solutions without putting the company at risk.

Creating a policy of transparency is a good start. The better your employees communicate with your IT department, the better that team can do their job keeping the network secure, protecting sensitive data and controlling permissions.

Kintone also reminds employers that, “When employees engage outside technologies, they’re telling company leaders that opportunities exist for greater efficiency. They also reveal that they are engaged. After all, they wouldn’t search out ways to be more productive if they didn’t want to be effective.”

Before you get spooked by your own inevitable IT shadow, remember that on the whole: the intent is good, and there are simple solutions you can employ to keep your company safe. It’s just a matter of bringing it all to light.

Small businesses deserve big protection

Small businesses deserve big protection

Small businesses deserve big protection

Today’s small businesses face the same security challenges as larger organisations. In fact, they can be seen as an even bigger target, as cybercriminals expect smaller businesses to have less protection than more equipped enterprises.

%

of small business experienced a data breach

%

of small businesses experienced a cyber attack

%

of small businesses agree there should be more emphasis on security

Bringing enterprise security to your small business

Small businesses have many of the same IT opportunities and priorities of larger enterprises — but also many of the same concerns, particularly when it comes to cybersecurity. Your small business needs a security solution that delivers powerful protection against enterprise-level threats — yet simple enough for a team of any size to deploy, use, and manage.

Why Cisco Security?

Simplify your security

Gain robust protection through quick deployment, and use automatic, accurate alerts to save time. So, you can focus on what matters most for your business.

Accelerate your success

Things can happen quickly. With Cisco’s unmatched threat intelligence, it will see a threat once and protect your business from it everywhere.

Protect your future

As your business grows, you won’t have to keep changing your security strategy. Take advantage of Cisco’s resources and expertise to move your business forward.

Stay protected with Cisco Security Solutions

Firewalls

Surround your network with a top‑line defense that detects and stops threats fast without slowing you down.

Endpoint and VPN security

No matter where users connect to your network, protect yourself against advanced threats at every endpoint.

Cloud security

Work anywhere. Protect your employees against threats no matter where they access the Internet.

Password security

Easily secure access to Virtual Private Network (VPN), email, and any app that employees value, using multi-factor authentication.

It’s time to put security above everything.

You’ve come this far. Take your business further with Cisco Small Business Security Solutions. Tell us more about what you’re looking for, and a sales representative will get in touch with you shortly.

Simple and effective protection for your network

Simple and effective protection for your network

Simple and effective protection for your network

What if you could protect every user on your Cisco Meraki network effortlessly? That’s the power of integrating Cisco Meraki and Cisco Umbrella. You can instantly secure every user, app, and device on and off your Meraki network, with no added latency or additional appliances required.

Security made simple

Ensuring your users, employees, and customers have exceptional network experiences is key to growing your business. By focusing on connectivity and security, while making decisions based on intelligence, you can deliver experiences that matter. Empower your hybrid workforce and create smarter spaces with the help of best-in-class technologies to help you optimise everything for people, places, and things.

Three ways to simplify security in the cloud

Meraki MR

The world’s first enterprise-grade line of 100% cloud-managed wireless access points.

  • Manage your IT infrastructure from a centralised dashboard
  • Provides visibility into application, device, and usage statistics
  • No controller hardware to install or maintain

Meraki MX

An enterprise security & SD-WAN appliance 100% cloud-managed for distributed deployments.

  • Provide visibility into networked clients, bandwidth consumption, and usage stats
  • Built-in IPS, Malware Protection, and URL Content Filtering
  • Simplest VPN and SD-WAN solution on the market

Cisco Umbrella

A secure internet gateway that provides the first line of defense against threats on the internet.

  • Protection against threats like malware, ransomware, & C2 callbacks with no added latency
  • Visibility into internet activity across all locations and users.
  • No hardware to install or software to manually update.

Benefits of Umbrella and Meraki integration

Prior to the Meraki MR and Umbrella integration, management of our proxy server environment spanned two departments and was a challenge to troubleshoot and support when issues arose. After the Umbrella integration, we are able to use allow list policies applied to specific networks allowing us granular control over host activities, all managed from a single dashboard. We have also been able to save money on server software and license renewal costs.

Marcus Trainer, Director of Network Operations
System Administrative Services

Cisco Umbrella and Cisco Meraki

Get reliable network coverage and security protection, fast. Cisco Umbrella integrates with Cisco Meraki MR and MX in a number of ways. It’s the fastest and easiest way to secure your Meraki network against internet threats. Combine with 100% business uptime from Umbrella, for reliable protection you can count on.

Experience our technology

Build your network on the platform designed for how people work.

All about next-gen AI: neuromorphic computing

All about next-gen AI: neuromorphic computing

Roughly seventy years ago, Alan Touring asked: “Can machines think?” Given the state of artificial intelligence (AI) today, we still cannot answer that question with absolute certainty. However, collective efforts in this field have produced many artificial hardware and software structures that resemble the human brain and perform computation in a similar way.

Among the many human brain-inspired AI architectures, neural networks and more recently deep neural networks, have the most significant results. Equipped with deep learning algorithms, computers are capable of detecting fraud, autonomously driving cars, serving as virtual assistants, managing customer relations, modelling financial investments and recognising what people are saying and how they look.

Deep neural networks are composed of artificial neurons modelled after biological neurons present in our brains. These neural networks are capable of discovering and learning from complex relations present in the training data. Given the large amount of data collected using IoT devices, advanced sensor networks, and mobile devices, deep neural networks are capable of learning almost anything that humans can.

“Deep neural networks are capable of learning almost anything that humans can.”

Nevertheless, current computation technology is limiting the large-scale application of deep neural networks. These limitations come mainly from current computation technology. Firstly, due to the economics of Moore’s Law, very few companies can fabricate silicon technologies beyond 7 nm. Secondly, current memory technologies are incapable of dealing with very large data loads that grow even faster than Moore’s Law. And finally, the increased computation power requirements have increased cooling energy demands. The overall efficiency of the computation technology is too low to sustain a large, deep neural network load.

To solve the problems of the current computing technology, research institutions and enterprises around the world are making a huge push towards the integration of nanoelectronics into computing hardware in a more innovative way. The common goal is to integrate different ways of processing information that go far beyond Von Neumann’s architecture.

“Neuromorphic chips have an ideal architecture that can support the large-scale adoption of deep neural networks and further the progress of AI.”

One of the most promising novel computation technology efforts is neuromorphic computing; next-generation computation hardware that architecturally resembles the computing structure of a human brain. Namely, neuromorphic processors are designed to have central processing and memory units together to remove the key bottleneck of Von Neumann’s architecture of requiring data exchange mechanisms between these two elements. Designed in this way, neuromorphic chips have an ideal architecture that can support the large-scale adoption of deep neural networks and further the progress of AI.

Neuromorphic computing advantages

The key limiting factor of the current computation technologies is the need to continuously move data between CPU and memory, and this is not what our brains normally do. These limitations impact both the bandwidth and our ability to efficiently train neural network models.

In a typical data analysis scenario today, we are taking human brain-inspired machine learning models and we are imposing them on a processor with Von Neumann architecture, which is very different from how our brains work. This feels out of place and poses the question, can we create a computer chip that operates similarly to our brain?

Another key limiting factor of the Von Neumann architecture is energy efficiency. Today’s computers are extremely power-hungry. According to the study published in Nature magazine, if the data and communication trends continue to increase at the current rate, by 2040 binary operations will consume over 1027 Joules of energy, which exceeds the global energy production of today.

“By mimicking the workings of the human brain, the technology intends to be as energy-efficient.”

Neuromorphic computing is an interdisciplinary field that involves material science, physics, chemistry, computer science, electronics, and system design. The concept attempts to resolve the current limitations of the Von Neumann architecture and intends to create hardware structures that resemble the human brain. Neuromorphic computing technology collocates memory and processing units. By doing so, latency and bandwidth limitations induced by moving large amounts of data between the two can be eliminated. Additionally, by mimicking the workings of the human brain, the technology intends to be as energy-efficient.

The neuromorphic approach has the potential to revolutionise computing as a whole, but its most effective application will be deep neural networks. These networks have a highly parallel model structure that requires specific distributed memory access patterns. The distributed parallelism is difficult to map efficiently onto Von Neumann architecture-based computing hardware.

Exploring the early-use cases

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is at the forefront of research and development into this tech. Government research hubs are also delving into it, including the European Union with its Human Brain Project.

Last year, the neuromorphic chip market was valued at almost $US2 billion and is expected to increase to $11.29 billion by 2027. According to Gartner, there’s a lot of interest there, considering traditional computing tech that uses legacy semiconductors will hit a digital wall in 2025. For now, though, neuromorphic chips aren’t being produced at the commercial scale of CPUs and GPUs. A hold up is that many neuromorphic processors need more advances in emerging technologies such as ReRAM or MRAM. You can find out more about those here.

“Those insights ensure businesses who work with HP will get access to the latest and most efficient storage technology solutions.”

So, there’s still a way to go before real-world applications of neuromorphic semiconductor design become commonplace. The big win comes from keeping compute and memory units together. That means the system doesn’t have to constantly move data around, says John Paul Strachan, who heads the emerging accelerators’ team in the AI Lab at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Research into AI for enterprise, including brain-based architectures, has been carried out for several years at Hewlett Packard’s labs. Those insights ensure businesses who work with HP will get access to the latest and most efficient storage technology solutions.

How can HPE work for you?

HPE is focused at the forefront of emerging technologies and is constantly incorporating advanced tech into their next-generation products and solutions. A market leader in innovation, how are you taking advantage of HPE solutions? Contact us to find out how HPE products can help your business gain a competitive advantage and put you on the fast-track to achieving your goals.

The pandemic catalysed a huge leap towards automation in manufacturing that six execs say is here to stay

The pandemic catalysed a huge leap towards automation in manufacturing that six execs say is here to stay

 👨‍💼By Aaron Holmes | Business Insider

Experts long predicted that advances in AI and robotics would transform manufacturing in the coming decades. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the need for automation suddenly became more apparent than ever.

Companies are now increasingly relying on automated systems for their production lines, while manufacturers are investing in software that collects data and streamlines production in order to spur new efficiency.

In a roundtable discussion hosted by Insider, six executives said the past year of pandemic-related shutdowns have permanently transformed manufacturing.

“We finally got to a point where digitisation technology is proven,” said Colin Parris, chief technology officer and senior vice president of GE Digital. “I’ve had CEOs tell me, ‘We thought it would take four or five years to digitise things. It was done in five weeks.'”

The company is increasingly relying on remote monitoring software, automated data collection and so-called “digital twins” (or simulated versions of actual equipment) to oversee its manufacturing, rather than in-person supervision, Parris said.

Similarly, the manufacturing giant Honeywell is building out its software business to supplement its industrial operations, launching new subscription-based software platforms that cater to manufacturers and warehouses. That helped buoy Honeywell’s business amid the pandemic, according to Honeywell Connected Enterprises president and CEO Que Dellara.

“COVID has certainly accelerated digitisation: It’s actually one of the aspects of demand that has been fairly resilient,” Dellara said, adding that automation and AI adoption – “whether that’s robotic process automation or industrial service robots” – are likely to be durable post-pandemic, too.

In that vein, RightHand Robotics, which sells machines that autonomously move packages in warehouses, saw a surge in demand once the initial panic at the beginning of the pandemic calmed down, according to director of product management Artug Acar.

“Before the pandemic, when we were talking to our customers, we were always talking about the future of automation or the future of logistics and supply chain. Today, we talk about it as today’s problem,” Acar said. “The future has come.”

Today, he said, automation “is a necessity, more than a choice,” and is gaining attention from the highest levels of executive management.

“In the past, it was more mid-level warehouse managers bringing these automation systems to attention,” he said, “But now the interest is coming from the C-level executives.”

COVID has certainly accelerated digitisation: It’s actually one of the aspects of demand that has been fairly resilient.

As manufacturers use software to collect more data, they’re setting higher goals for sustainability

Improving sustainability has been a longstanding goal for manufacturers, both to protect the environment (and generate goodwill) and to cut down costs by eliminating waste. In the past year, the nanomaterial maker Promethean Particles has started logging data from its manufacturing process in order to train AI designed to identify areas of waste, according to technical manager Selina Ambrose.

“We’ve seen some really fantastic results: It’s been so much quicker by using an AI approach then if we did it manually,” Ambrose said. “It sped up the process and hugely minimised the amount of waste we’re generating.”

It’s been so much quicker by using an AI approach then if we did it manually.

The same is true for more traditional manufacturers. Ronna Chao, chair of fabric maker Novetex Textiles, said the company’s “Billie System” of upcycling yarn waste uses automation to reduce the high labor costs traditionally associated with textile recycling (while also using less water and releasing fewer harmful chemicals).

“When we started thinking about this project, we were really focusing on our own internally produced textile waste in the manufacturing process,” she said. The system helps “capture the value” of that waste, making it cost effective as well environmentally friendly.

Tesvolt, an electricity-storage-systems manufacturer, sees sustainability as a long-term goal that extends beyond its sales to renewable energy companies, according to cofounder Daniel Hannemann. The startup, which is building Europe’s first gigafactory for commercial battery storage systems, has installed solar panels to power its operations and uses biodegradable paper packaging.

“My vision for the future is that we want to replace all plastic with biodegradable plastic,” Hannemann said. “That’s our next vision.”