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Kubernetes tools vendors vie for developer mindshare

SAN DIEGO — The notion that Kubernetes solves many problems as a container orchestration technology belies the complexity it adds in other areas, namely for developers who need Kubernetes tools.

Developers at the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2019 event here this week noted that although native tooling for development on Kubernetes continues to improve, there’s still room for more.

“I think the tooling thus far is impressive, but there is a long way to go,” said a software engineer and Kubernetes committer who works for a major electronics manufacturer and requested anonymity.

Moreover, “Kubernetes is extremely elegant, but there are multiple concepts for developers to consider,” he said. “For instance, I think the burden of the onboarding process for new developers and even users sometimes can be too high. I think we need to build more tooling, as we flush out the different use cases that communities bring out.”

Developer-oriented approach

Enter Red Hat, which introduced an update of its Kubernetes-native CodeReady Workspaces tool at event.

Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces 2 enables developers to build applications and services on their laptops that mirror the environment they will run in production. And onboarding is but one of the target use cases for the technology, said Brad Micklea, vice president of developer tools, developer programs and advocacy at Red Hat.

The technology is especially useful in situations where security is an issue, such as bringing in new contracting teams or using offshore development teams where developers need to get up and running with the right tools quickly.

I think the tooling thus far is impressive, but there is a long way to go.
Anonymous Kubernetes committer

CodeReady Workspaces runs on the Red Hat OpenShift Kubernetes platform.

Initially, new enterprise-focused developer technologies are generally used in experimental, proof-of-concept projects, said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT in Hayward, Calif. Yet over time those that succeed, like Kubernetes, evolve from the proof-of-concept phase to being deployed in production environments.

“With CodeReady Workspaces 2, Red Hat has created a tool that mirrors production environments, thus enabling developers to create and build applications and services more effectively,” King said. “Overall, Red Hat’s CodeReady Workspaces 2 should make life easier for developers.”

In addition to popular features from the first version, such as an in-browser IDE, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol support, Active Directory and OpenAuth support as well as one-click developer workspaces, CodeReady Workspaces 2 adds support for Visual Studio Code extensions, a new user interface, air-gapped installs and a shareable workspace configuration known as Devfile.

“Workspaces is just generally kind of a way to package up a developer’s working workspace,” Red Hat’s Micklea said.

Overall, the Kubernetes community is primarily “ops-focused,” he said. However, tools like CodeReady Workspaces help to empower both developers and operations.

For instance, at KubeCon, Amr Abdelhalem, head of the cloud platform at Fidelity Investments, said the way he gets teams initiated with Kubernetes is to have them deliver on small projects and move on from there. CodeReady Workspaces is ideal for situations like that because it simplifies developer adoption of Kubernetes, Micklea said.

Such a tool could be important for enterprises that are banking on Kubernetes to move them into a DevOps model to achieve business transformation, said Charlotte Dunlap, an analyst with GlobalData.

“Vendors like Red Hat are enhancing Kubernetes tools and CLI [Command Line Interface] UIs to bring developers with more access and visibility into the ALM [Application Lifecycle Management] of their applications,” Dunlap said. “Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces is ultimately about providing enterprises with unified management across endpoints and environments.”

Competition for Kubernetes developer mindshare

Other companies that focus on the application development platform, such as IBM and Pivotal, have also joined the Kubernetes developer enablement game.

Earlier this week, IBM introduced a set of new open-source tools to help ease developers’ Kubernetes woes. Meanwhile, at KubeCon this week, Pivotal made its Pivotal Application Service (PAS) on Kubernetes generally available and also delivered a new release of the alpha version of its Pivotal Build Service. The PAS on Kubernetes tool enables developers to focus on coding while the platform automatically handles software deployment, networking, monitoring, and logging.

The Pivotal Build Service enables developers to build containers from source code for Kubernetes, said James Watters, senior vice president of strategy at Pivotal. The service automates container creation, management and governance at enterprise scale, he said.

The build service brings technologies such as Pivotal’s kpack and Cloud Native Buildpacks to the enterprise. Cloud Native Buildpacks address dependencies in the middleware layer, such as language-specific frameworks. Kpack is a set of resource controllers for Kubernetes. The Build Service defines the container image, its contents and where it should be kept, Watters said.

Indeed, Watters said he believes it just might be game over in the Kubernetes tools space because Pivotal owns the Spring Framework and Spring Boot, which appeal to a wide swath of Java developers, which is “one of the most popular ways enterprises build applications today,” he said.

“There is something to be said for the appeal of Java in that my team would not need to make wholesale changes to our build processes,” said a Java software developer for a financial services institution who requested anonymity because he was not cleared to speak for the organization.

Yet, in today’s polyglot programming world, programming language is less of an issue as teams have the capability to switch languages at will. For instance, Fidelity’s Abdelhalem said his teams find it easier to move beyond a focus strictly on tools and more on overall technology and strategy to determine what fits in their environment.

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Anaheim PD explores facial recognition for law enforcement

The use of facial recognition for law enforcement technology is controversial.

While police departments have touted its ability to help them catch criminals, activists have raised concerns over privacy rights.

Concerns around facial recognition technology, including alleged problems with Amazon’s Rekognition platform, which activists and researchers have said produce biased results based on gender and race, have over the past several months led some to call for bans on facial recognition for law enforcement.

Julian Harvey, deputy chief at the Anaheim Police Department in California, said that while he understands that sentiment, a complete ban on facial recognition technology would ultimately prove damaging to the public.

“The quicker we can take individuals committing crimes off the streets, out of the community — everyone is better off,” Harvey said. Facial recognition for law enforcement technology, he maintained, helps the Anaheim Police Department catch criminals more quickly.

The facial recognition platform

The police department relies on a facial recognition for law enforcement platform developed by Veritone, a 2014 AI startup that sells AI-driven platforms for media, legal, government and law enforcement organizations.

Using Veritone IDentify, a platform built for law enforcement, the Anaheim Police Department can compare photos captured by a security system of a suspect committing a crime with its database of booking photos, or mugshots.

The quicker we can take individuals committing crimes off the streets, out of the community — everyone is better off.
Julian HarveyDeputy chief, Anaheim Police Department

Comparing the crime scene photos with only booking shots ensures the privacy of the general public, Harvey said. Certain types of criminals have high recidivism rates, he added, making the likelihood that the department has arrested certain suspects before relatively high.

Users feed crime images into Veritone IDentify, which analyzes certain facial features and creates a list of comparable booking photos. Police department employees then comb through that list, immediately discarding suggestions that obviously don’t match — such as suspects who are of a different gender or possible suspects who are known to have been somewhere else when the crime occurred.

“Often, what you’re left with is a group of certain, potential individuals,” Harvey said.

Veritone screenshot
Veritone sells an AI platform that can help law enforcement agents match mugshots to captured images

At that point, detectives can begin doing investigating the traditional way — interviewing potential suspects, doing a line-up and combing through other records, such as GPS signals.

Harvey stressed that getting identified on the platform “isn’t an arrest warrant,” as the department still does a lot of follow-up work. Instead, the facial recognition for law enforcement technology helps save time, as detectives would otherwise have to comb through each booking photo one at a time, he said.

“We only have so many resources to bring to bear on these cases, and you work the ones that have the greatest likelihood of solving,” Harvey said.

Solving crimes

So far, the Anaheim Police Department has found matches in about 150 cases using the Veritone platform. That number includes requests from neighboring agencies that do not currently have similar technology available to them.

Recently, for example, Harvey said, a sex crime occurred in a different county. The victim had seen the suspect’s face, and the local police department brought in a sketch artist. The artist created a life-like sketch of the suspect and shared it with Anaheim, which ran it through the Veritone platform.

The sketch got some hits, and police investigators narrowed those down to about five booking photos, which they shared with the other department. After doing some follow-up work, the department arrested the suspect, who was later successfully prosecuted.

Veritone, Harvey said, is the only facial recognition platform the Anaheim Police Department has tried. So far, it has been a success.

There have been some challenges, however. There’s no quick way to eliminate suggestions that don’t work, for example, and the user interface could be easier to navigate, the deputy chief said.

“It was a bit cumbersome at first,” he said. So the department, working with Veritone, created small workarounds to address the UI shortcomings.

Still, Harvey said, Veritone has “been far more successful than I imagined.”

Earlier this year, MuckRock, a nonprofit collaborative news site, and Open the Government, a nonpartisan coalition that advocates for more transparent government, sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain documents from the Anaheim Police Department on its use of facial recognition technology. The two organizations sent a total of 112 FOIA requests with the largest police departments in the country in an effort to help the public understand how facial recognition technology is used by police departments.

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The importance of AI for fraud prevention

Jumio, the identity verification technology vendor, released Jumio Go, a real-time, automated platform for identity verification. Coming at a time when cybercriminals are becoming ever more technologically advanced, Jumio Go uses a combination of AI, optical character recognition and biometrics to automatically verify a user’s identity in real time.

Jumio, founded in 2010, has long sold an AI for fraud prevention platform used by organizations in financial services, travel, gaming and retail industries. The Palo Alto, Calif., vendor’s new Jumio Go platform builds on its existing technologies, which include facial recognition and verification tools, while also simplifying them.

Jumio Go, launched Oct. 28, provides real-time identity verification, giving users results much faster than Jumio’s flagship product, which takes 30 to 60 seconds to verify a user, according to Jumio. It also eliminates the need to add a component, meaning the process of matching a real-time photo of a user’s face to a saved photo is entirely automated. That speeds up the process, and enables employees to take on other tasks, but also potentially could make it a little less secure.

The new product accepts fewer ID documents than Jumio’s flagship platform, but the tradeoff is the boost in real-time speed. Using natural language processing, Jumio’s platforms can read through and extract relevant information from documents. The system scans that information for irregularities, such as odd wordings or misspellings, which could indicate a fraud.

AI for fraud prevention in finance

For financial institutions, whose customers conduct much more business online, this type of fraud detection and identity verification technology is vital.

For combating fraud, “leveraging AI is critical,” said Amyn Dhala, global product lead at AI Express, Mastercard’s methodology for the deployment of AI that grew out of the credit card company’s 2017 acquisition of Brighterion.

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AI for fraud prevention, fraud
To help stop fraudsters, financial institutions are using AI-powered security tools.

Through AI Express, Mastercard sells AI for fraud prevention tools, as well as AI-powered technologies, to help predict credit risk, manage network security and catch money-laundering.

AI, Dhala said in an interview at AI World 2019 in Boston, is “important to provide a better customer experience and drive profitability,” as well as to ensure customer safety.

The 9 to 5 fraudster

For financial institutions, blocking fraudsters is no simple task. Criminals intent on fraud are taking a professional approach to their work, working for certain hours during the week and taking weekends off, according to an October 2019 report from Onfido, a London-based vendor of AI-driven identity software.

Also, today’s fraudsters are highly technologically skilled, said Dan Drapeau, head of technology at Blue Fountain Media, a digital marketing agency owned by Pactera, a technology consulting and implementation firm based in China.

Cybercriminals are always that one step ahead.
Dan DrapeauHead of technology, Blue Fountain Media

“You can always throw new technology at the problem, but cybercriminals are always going to do something new and innovative, and AI algorithms have to catch up to that,” Drapeau said. “Cybercriminals are always that one step ahead.”

“As good as AI and machine learning get, it still will always take time to catch up to the newest innovation from criminals,” he added.

Still, by using AI for fraud prevention, financial organizations can stop good deal of fraud automatically, Drapeau said. Now, combining AI with manual work, such as checking or double-checking data and verification documents, works best, he said.

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HP’s purchase of endpoint security vendor Bromium a win for IT

HP Inc. plans to acquire Bromium Inc., an endpoint security vendor that uses microvirtualization technology to isolate threats from untrusted sources.

Bromium, founded by Gaurav Banga, Simon Crosby and Ian Pratt in 2010, is known for its Microvisor software, which uses hardware virtualization to launch a virtual machine for every browser tab or email attachment opened. The idea is to trap malicious code before it can infect a user’s machine.

Analysts called the acquisition unsurprising. Not only has HP been reselling Bromium software as Sure Click since 2017, but the endpoint security vendor market has been in the throes of rapid consolidation. Just last month, VMware and Broadcom acquired Carbon Black and Symantec, respectively.

Analysts also labeled the news a good thing for IT admins. Brad LaPorte, an analyst at Gartner specializing in endpoint security and threat intelligence, said a deal like this “is a multiplier” for those in charge of HP devices.

“When you roll out a fleet of HP laptops, you’ll already have a centralized agent that is secure by default, which will greatly reduce the number of agents you have to install and manage,” he said. “The added security will also mean fewer alerts because your attack surface has been greatly reduced.”

But, he cautioned, while HP is headed in the right direction, not every company will benefit from the acquisition and there are steps HP still needs to take to round out its security program.

HP’s response to Dell

LaPorte described the acquisition as a safe bet for HP, one that could help the company stay relevant. “This is a play to compete against Dell’s Endpoint Security Suite that it’s had for a couple of years now,” he said.

Eric Parizo, senior analyst at Ovum, also pointed to the Dell rivalry as rationale behind the acquisition. He ticked off Dell’s growing endpoint security capabilities, which include its RSA NetWitness Endpoint security product, its ownership of managed security services provider SecureWorks, and its more recent go-to-market partnership with CrowdStrike.

Although Dell still has more [endpoint security] options, now at least, HP can say it has a viable alternative.
Eric ParizoSenior analyst, Ovum

“HP needed additional endpoint security technology to bolster the capabilities it can provide as a technical solution to secure its PCs and laptops, but also as a bundling option to increase the size of its sales opportunities,” Parizo said. “This move also helps counter the perception that Dell has more to offer in the way of endpoint security. Although Dell still has more options, now at least, HP can say it has a viable alternative.”

By acquiring rather than reselling the technology, HP can build out the Bromium functionality, something Paula Musich, security and risk management research director at Enterprise Management Associates Inc., fully expects to see.

“HP hasn’t offered a roadmap for where they plan to take the acquired technology, but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see them eventually extend the technology to HP’s vast printer portfolio,” she said. “Internet-connected printers are a target for attackers, and there’s a potentially huge addressable market in adapting the technology to HP printers.”

If Musich’s theory becomes practice, IT admins would benefit by having “a single source for protecting both printers and PCs/laptops,” she said.

Even in the short term, the acquisition will help IT admins better manage HP laptops and PCs, as well as provide an added layer of security. Bromium provides security “from the user in versus the network out,” said Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research in Boston.

“The more distributed computing becomes and the more we do more things on more devices in more places, the more something like Bromium is needed,” he said.

LaPorte described Bromium as an endpoint security vendor whose product operates on a pre-OS layer, or hardware layer, rather than post-OS layer. Investing in such products is HP’s — and Dell’s, for that matter — attempt at getting ahead of attacks that target deeper layers of the computing stack.

‘Too many pizza shops’

Although the dollar figure HP will pay for Bromium was not disclosed, LaPorte described the acquisition as a likely cheap bet for HP. In a 2016 attempt to secure funding, Bromium’s valuation was cut almost in half; its growth and profitability had recently been in the single digits.

But the acquisition may not be a good fit for everyone. LaPorte said companies that use a golden image, or a preconfigured template for virtual machines, may miss out on the benefits that an endpoint security product provides. “When you remove these features to meet specific organizational needs, you are sacrificing security in lieu of efficiency,” he said. “Buyers need to consider these requirements before purchasing.”

And the buy still leaves HP’s security services and endpoint detection and response functionality lacking, especially compared to Dell. LaPorte believes HP will take its next steps in these areas.

On the whole, LaPorte expects consolidation of the endpoint security vendor market to continue on a weekly if not multiweekly basis. “There are too many pizza shops and not enough people buying pizza,” he said simply.

Clear leaders, such as CrowdStrike and Microsoft, control a significant portion of the market share, making it difficult for other endpoint security vendors to find decent footing in the market, according to LaPorte.

“The market share for the people who are not the leaders in this space is going down exponentially,” he said.

Although he has little insight into the Bromium acquisition, Steve Athanas, associate CIO of system architecture at UMASS Lowell and VMUG president, said it’s a market he is keeping an eye on.

“I’m very interested to see how this wave of security acquisitions and consolidation plays out,” he said.

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What people are saying about the new book ‘Tools and Weapons’ | Microsoft On The Issues

“When your technology changes the world,” he writes, “you bear a responsibility to help address the world that you have helped create.” And governments, he writes, “need to move faster and start to catch up with the pace of technology.” 

In a lengthy interview, Mr. Smith talked about the lessons he had learned from Microsoft’s past battles and what he saw as the future of tech policymaking – arguing for closer cooperation between the tech sector and the government. It’s a theme echoed in the book, “Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age,” which he wrote with Carol Ann Browne, a member of Microsoft’s communications staff.

The New York Times, Sept. 8, 2019


In 2019, a book about tech’s present and future impact on humankind that was relentlessly upbeat would feel out of whack with reality. But Smith’s Microsoft experience allowed him to take a measured look at major issues and possible solutions, a task he says he relished.

“There are some people that are steeped in technology, but they may not be steeped in the world of politics or policy,” Smith told me in a recent conversation. “There are some people who are steeped in the world of politics and policy, but they may not be steeped in technology. And most people are not actually steeped in either. But these issues impact them. And increasingly they matter to them.”

Fast Company, Sept. 8, 2019


In ‘Tools & Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age,’ the longtime Microsoft executive and his co-author Carol Ann Browne tell the inside story of some of the biggest developments in tech and the world over the past decade – including Microsoft’s reaction to the Snowden revelations, its battle with Russian hackers in the lead up to the 2016 elections and its role in the ongoing debate over privacy and facial recognition technology.

The book goes behind-the-scenes at the Obama and Trump White Houses; explores the implications of the coming wave of artificial intelligence; and calls on tech giants and governments to step up and prepare for the ethical, legal and societal challenges of powerful new forms of technology yet to come.

-GeekWire, September 7, 2019


Tensions between the U.S. and China feature prominently in Smith’s new book, ‘Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age.’ While Huawei is its own case, Smith worries that broader and tighter strictures could soon follow. The Commerce Department is considering new restrictions on the export of emerging technologies on which Microsoft has placed big bets, including artificial intelligence and quantum computing. “You can’t be a global technology leader if you can’t bring your technology to the globe,” he says.

-Bloomberg Businessweek, Sept. 7, 2019


Tell us what you think about the book @MSFTIssues. You can buy the book here or at bookstores around the world.

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Dremio Data Lake Engine 4.0 accelerates query performance

Dremio is advancing its technology with a new release that supports AWS, Azure and hybrid cloud deployments, providing what the vendor refers to as a Data Lake Engine.

The Dremio Data Lake Engine 4.0 platform is rooted in multiple open source projects, including Apache Arrow, and offers the promise of accelerated query performance for data lake storage.

Dremio made the platform generally available on Sept. 17. The Dremio Data Lake Engine 4.0 update introduces a feature called column-aware predictive pipelining that helps predict access patterns, which makes queries faster. The new Columnar Cloud Cache (C3) feature in Dremio also boosts performance by caching data closer to where compute execution occurs.

For IDC analyst Stewart Bond, the big shift in the Dremio 4.0 update is how the data lake engine vendor has defined its offering as a “Data Lake Engine” focused on AWS and Azure.

In some ways, Dremio had previously struggled to define what its technology actually does, Bond said. In the past, Dremio had been considered a data preparation tool, a data virtualization tool and even a data integration tool, he said. It does all those things, but in ways, and with data, that differ markedly from traditional technologies in the data integration software market.

“Dremio offers a semantic layer, query and acceleration engine over top of object store data in AWS S3 or Azure, plus it can also integrate with more traditional relational database technologies,” Bond said. “This negates the need to move data out of object stores and into a data warehouse to do analytics and reporting.”

For data in a data lake to be valuable, it typically needs to be extracted, refined and delivered to data warehouses, analytics, machine learning, or operational applications where it can also be transformed into something different when blended with other data ingredients.
Stewart BondAnalyst, IDC

Simply having a data lake doesn’t do much for an organization. A data lake is just data, and just as with natural lakes, water needs to be extracted, refined and delivered for consumption, Bond said.

“For data in a data lake to be valuable, it typically needs to be extracted, refined and delivered to data warehouses, analytics, machine learning or operational applications where it can also be transformed into something different when blended with other data ingredients,” Bond said. “Dremio provides organizations with the opportunity to get value out of data in a data lake without having to move the data into another repository, and can offer the ability to blend it with data from other sources for new insights.”

How Dremio Data Lake Engine 4.0 works

Organizations use technologies like ETL (extract, transform, load), among other things, to move data from data lake storage into a data warehouse because they can’t query the data fast enough where it is, said Tomer Shiran, co-founder and CTO of Dremio. That performance challenge is one of the drivers behind the C3 feature in Dremio 4.

“With C3 what we’ve developed is a patent pending real-time distributed cache that takes advantage of the NVMe devices that are on the instances that we’re running on to automatically cache data from S3,” Shiran explained. “So when the query engine is accessing a piece of data for the second time, it’s at least 10 times faster than getting it directly from S3.”

Screenshot of Dremio data lake architecture
Dremio data lake architecture

The new column-aware predictive pipelining feature in Dremio Data Lake Engine 4.0 further accelerates query performance for the initial access. The features increases data read throughput to the maximum that is allowed on a given network, Shiran explained.

While Dremio is positioning its technology as a data lake engine that can be used to query data stored in a data lake, Shiran noted that the platform also has data virtualization capabilities. With data virtualization, pointers or links to sources of data enables creating a logical data layer.

Apache Arrow

One of the foundational technologies that enables the Dremio Data Lake Engine is the open source Apache Arrow project, which Shiran helped to create.

“We took the internal memory format of Dremio, and we open sourced that as Apache Arrow, with the idea that we wanted our memory format to be an industry standard,” Shiran said.

Arrow has become increasingly popular over the past three years and is now used by many different tools, including Apache Spark.

With the growing use of Arrow, Dremio’s goal is to make communications between its platform and other tools that use Arrow as fast as possible. Among the ways that Dremio is helping to make Arrow faster is with the Gandiva effort that is now built into Dremio 4, according to the vendor. Gandiva is an execution kernel that is based on the LLVM compiler, enabling real-time code compilation to accelerate queries.

Dremio will continue to work on improving performance, Shiran said.

“At the end of the day, customers want to see more and more performance, and more data sources,” he said. “We’re also making it more self-service for users, so for us we’re always looking to reduce friction and the barriers.”

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Bollywood, blockbusters and a $5 billion industry: How Indian company Eros Now is redefining online video | Transform

Being on the cutting edge of technology was baked into the DNA of Indian video company Eros Now from the start.

Its parent company, Eros International Plc., was founded in 1977, the same year the VHS videocassette format was released in North America. While some in the entertainment industry were leery about the newfangled technology, Eros was all in.

“Back then, it was a scary thing,” says Eros Digital CEO Rishika Lulla Singh. “But we embraced VHS and we continued to embrace new technology.”

That approach has served the company well. Eros International Plc., a movie distribution and production company, was India’s first VHS distributor and the first Indian media company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Eros Now, its on-demand video arm, was launched in 2012 and has now attracted over 18.8 million paid subscribers and 155 million users worldwide with its more than 12,000 Bollywood films, music videos and original content including series and short episodes.

Eros Now amassed its big audience largely by premiering blockbuster films and related content such as trailers and music videos on its site even before they were on YouTube, Lulla Singh says. The company aims to differentiate itself not just as a one-stop destination for online entertainment but also as a tech innovator — and a new collaboration with Microsoft is underpinning those efforts.

Portrait of Rishika Lulla Singh, CEO of Indian company Eros Digital
Eros Digital CEO Rishika Lulla Singh.

Eros Now is working with Microsoft to migrate the company’s operations to the Azure cloud platform to improve video and viewing experiences for consumers worldwide. Lulla Singh says Microsoft’s ability to innovate in cloud computing and artificial intelligence, its research in voice services and discovery, and the company’s capacity for handling big data were the primary reasons Eros Now wanted to collaborate with Microsoft to develop next-generation video technology.

“We feel that Azure can help us to drive a lot of our ambitions to create the correct architecture for the video platform,” she says. “It was the sheer sophistication of the product over everything else on the market.”

The collaboration, Microsoft’s first effort in India in streaming video, signifies a move into a thriving entertainment market. Streaming video is growing rapidly in India, where the market is projected to reach $5 billion by 2023, according to a study by The Boston Consulting Group.

“India is among the fastest-growing entertainment and media markets globally, with cutting-edge innovation in content creation, distribution and data insights ,” says Anant Maheshwari, president of Microsoft India. “Our partnership with Eros Now is a significant milestone. Together, we hope to redefine the video viewing experience for consumers in India and across the globe.”

Lulla Singh has been working with teams across Microsoft and says she’s been struck by the company’s collaborative culture.

“Microsoft wants to enable other companies to be cool and to essentially realize your own ambition. The collaboration that’s come from that is incredible,” she says.

The rise in video streaming has shifted consumer expectations and the role of companies like Microsoft in the industry. Consumers are watching content on multiple devices, from smartphones to tablets, and media companies are facing increased competition to attract viewers, Maheshwari says. Those companies are looking to cloud providers for secure and scalable content delivery, he says, and for capabilities such as advanced search and smart content recommendations.

“What will differentiate video streaming services is the ability to give users exciting content to experience within the limited time and attention span they have,” he says. “AI and intelligent cloud tools will be the next drivers of the media business and will impact everything in the content value chain.”

Eros Now, Lulla Singh says, saw an opportunity to distinguish itself by creating original content that was a departure from the typical Indian television fare.

“The television landscape in India is very, very different to what happens in the U.S., where we have ‘Game of Thrones’ and a lot of sexy content,” she says. “That doesn’t really exist in the Indian television ecosystem.

“Most Indian programming is catered to more older audiences, which is actually not relevant to the new millennial audiences.”

Eros Now began developing its own original content around 2015, launching “Side Hero,” a Bollywood-inspired comedy series, last year, followed by “Smoke,” a drama about drug cartels. Last December, the company introduced “Eros Now Quickie,” a series of eight- to 10-minute episodes ranging from docudramas to comedy, and segments on food, health and travel.

Eros Now plans to continue innovating by personalizing content for customers by language, subtitles and other geographic-based preferences. Bollywood movies have been growing in popularity in regions outside India including China, Russia and Eastern Europe, Lulla Singh says. Eros Now, which currently has viewers in more than 135 countries, hopes to ride that momentum to expand into new markets and reach its goal of 50 million subscribers over the next three years.

“We just want to continue to create, continue to please our customers and grow in the process as well,” she says.

Top image: A sampling of Eros Now’s original content, which began premiering in 2018. (Images courtesy of Eros Now)

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Today in Technology: Lessons through time | Microsoft On The Issues

Technology never exists in isolation. Every advance is shaped by what has gone before.

As part of the Today in Technology series, Microsoft President Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne, Senior Director of External Relations and Executive Communications, have listened to different perspectives and explored lessons from history.

Here’s a glimpse into some of their videos:

Lessons on protecting privacy

The explosion of data in recent years means that agreeing on how best to protect our privacy is more relevant than ever. A visit to a former prison in Berlin served as a powerful reminder of the importance of getting that right.

[Subscribe to Microsoft on the Issues for more on the topics that matter most.]

YouTube Video

During the Cold War, the East German secret police, the Stasi, spied on millions of people, keeping files on their activities. Hohenschoenhausen was where those that were suspected of holding outlawed beliefs and opinions were imprisoned.

How the spirit of Louis Braille lives on in today’s AI innovators

YouTube Video

In the 19th century, a young French boy named Louis Braille developed a system of reading through touch. His work transformed the way millions of people who are blind or have low vision perceive the world. The same passion that inspired him lives on in the work undertaken today by engineers, programmers and technicians to create accessible technology that can help unleash everyone’s potential.

The Human Cost of Cyberattacks

YouTube Video

Interconnected digital infrastructure is vulnerable to an entirely new form of attack – cyberwarfare. To fight this, we need to update the international rules of allowable behavior – and work toward a Digital Geneva Convention.

There is no playbook for addressing challenges such as privacy, cybersecurity, the moral conundrums of AI or the relationship between technology and inequality, but Smith and Browne examine these challenges, and more, in their new book, Tools and Weapons: the Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Oracle CDP coming in CX Unity, along with video cloud

Oracle customers running CX programs, teams and technology stacks have plenty to pay attention to at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld conference, beginning with updates around the yet-to-go-live CX Unity platform, plus a new video cloud and a partnership with Deloitte Digital to incorporate the Oracle CX and Deloitte Hux personalization platforms.

CX Unity contains the Oracle CDP, or customer data platform, a foundational data-handling tool. Competing CX suites from Adobe and many smaller platform vendors also offer CDPs, while SAP and Salesforce are working on their own. All of them aspire to manage a customer’s data and reconcile it across sales, marketing, e-commerce and service clouds into a golden record.

With its flagship database pedigree, Oracle hopes to woo customers on to its CX Unity customer intelligence platform, which previewed last year but is still under wraps.

“Data is, ultimately, the fuel driving customer engagement, and Oracle has put a more-than-average data focus on the marketing products,” said Joe Stanhope, an analyst with Forrester Research. “They’re bullish on the Oracle Data Cloud; they’ve invested an enormous amount of effort in that over the last few years.”

Shashi Seth presenting at ModernCX 2018
Oracle Marketing Cloud SVP Shashi Seth, pictured here at ModernCX 2018, will speak at many OpenWorld sessions unveiling the Oracle CX product strategy at OpenWorld.

Video platform now included

Last week, in advance of OpenWorld, Oracle said it will embed Kaltura video platform features via APIs across its CX, HR, ERP, financial and supply chain clouds. Oracle CX users will be a big beneficiary, as video has many applications from marketing to sales content as well as call centers and field service. The OEM integration includes video analytics tools paired with Oracle’s Eloqua and Responsys marketing automation apps.

Kaltura was an attractive choice for an Oracle video platform because of its easy-to-use, modular features that make it simple to set up “corporate YouTube” sites as well as webcasting and sales-enablement video creation tools, said Nick Barber, a Forrester Research analyst. Some of its competitors, such as Brightcove, aren’t as user-friendly, he added, making Kaltura the likeliest choice among the field.

Oracle doesn’t want to own and manage a video platform when it could use some of the capabilities of Kaltura without getting into the video business itself.
Nick BarberAnalyst, Forrester Research

The New York-based video platform provider, with annual revenues somewhere between $50 million and $60 million and whose customer roster includes Vodafone, Novartis and a number of universities, could have been an acquisition target for Oracle. The OEM partnership, Barber said, signifies that Oracle wasn’t quite ready to run another cloud.

“My assumption is Oracle doesn’t want to own and manage a video platform when it could use some of the capabilities of Kaltura without getting into the video business itself,” Barber said.

Emphasis on partnerships

Like Adobe and other CX platform vendors, Oracle leans on professional service firms such as Deloitte, Accenture and Capgemini to help customers mesh their CX programs. In many cases, this means building a branded mobile app to enable e-commerce or online reservations with its cloud technology stacks and the Oracle CDP.

To that end, Oracle is extending its CX-specific partnerships with those firms. Today Deloitte and Oracle announced integration of Deloitte Hux and Oracle CX Unity for marketing personalization; earlier this year Oracle announced partnerships with Capgemini and Accenture to develop best practices for setting up CDPs for customers. Many OpenWorld sessions delve into how to work with those partners to integrate customer-intelligence technologies, said Des Cahill, Oracle VP and CX Evangelist.

While mobile apps might appear simple to the end user, for large organizations, connecting them to back-end systems to integrate data, software and processes can be complex. Since Oracle’s applications are highly configurable, integrators help companies build the custom tools that fit their IT stacks.

“[Deloitte, Accenture and Capgemini] are growing their practices around customer intelligence and real-time CX,” Cahill said, adding that companies who aren’t engaging those integrators for building apps are working on migrating customer data systems from on-premises to the cloud.

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Adobe brings graph database to customer journey touchpoints

Identity resolution is a difficult technology issue for marketers to solve, because current customer experience platforms have a hard time understanding when the same person contacts a company from multiple devices. Adobe’s Customer Journey Analytics, announced today, tackles the problem with a graph database.

Customer Journey Analytics is a feature subset of Adobe Analytics, itself a part of the Adobe Experience Platform. It features an interface that closely resembles Photoshop’s layers, the UX model familiar to  marketers and designers who typically use that application somewhere along the way creating marketing and sales content.

Combining a graph database — which makes more connections between data points than traditional relational databases — with analytics is a new way to solve the problem of identity resolution in the case of multiple customer journey touchpoints, said Nate Smith, Adobe Analytics product marketing manager.

Instead of creating new records when a customer who typically uses a smartphone app switches over to a desktop computer, for example, the graph database can connect the dots.

“It will tie those devices together to a unique ID,” Smith said.

Adobe Analytics dashboard screenshot
Adobe Analytics adds deeper insights to its platform capabilities for mapping customer journeytouchpoints.

Data science for marketers

It’s the latest chapter in a technology trend where customer experience platform vendors bring more data science capabilities to marketers, who aren’t typically data scientists. Using the metaphor of the customer journey, the features track the various stages of customer interaction with a company, from discovery to shopping to completing a purchase.

It’s the latest chapter in a technology trend where customer experience platform vendors bring more data science capabilities to marketers.

The idea is to subdivide the transaction process in order to find more opportunities for additional sales, upsells or retargeting. This becomes a more complex proposition as new customer journey touchpoints, such as social media mobile apps or even smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa, become popular among a company’s customers.

Smith said the “layers” approach enables customer experience teams to look for new potential revenue opportunities by mixing and matching different data sets, such as brick-and-mortar and website sales. Teams can also analyze trends to determine what’s behind issues such as customer attrition problems.

For customer experience teams employing data scientists, Adobe Analytics includes an advanced data analysis tool, Adobe Experience Platform Query Service.

The graph database component of Customer Journey Analytics pairs well with Adobe Sensei AI, according to Forrester analyst James McCormick. Together they can automate deduplication of records, a time-intensive manual task, closer to real time. The Photoshop-esque interface will help customers dive into the analytics tools more quickly, he added.

“These are iterative moves towards Adobe vision of creating a uniformed user experience across a fully integrated Adobe Experience Cloud,” McCormick said. “This common approach will really help Adobe customers work with, and across, multiple products.”

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