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Stanford launches free global innovation program to address COVID-19 challenges

The eight-week Stanford Graduate School of Business course begins an innovation sprint and an entrepreneurial program on key challenges to emerge from the pandemic.

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Many are contemplating their work and personal lives in the new normal, as they prepare for the adjustments they’ll make as they emerge from the coronavirus quarantine. The Stanford Graduate School of Business (SGSB) is hoping to address some of those issues with Stanford Rebuild, a free, eight-week “global and innovation sprint and free entrepreneurial program to address key challenges emerging from COVID-19.”

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SGSB said “Uncertain times can spawn great companies,” and developed the curriculum for Stanford Rebuild, which begins June 22, as educational and inspirational to graduates who plan to start new businesses to rebuild the economy and create solutions to address the new normal. 

“With the significant impact of COVID-19 on every sector and demographic, it’s crucial for those of us who can, to help the world recover,” said Stefanos Zenios, faculty co-director of SGSB’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. Zenios was instrumental in developing Stanford Rebuild.”Innovation and entrepreneurship can significantly accelerate recovery and contribute to a better outcome, and we want to encourage innovators and problem solvers around the world to tackle the challenges and opportunities we will face in the coming months.”

Worldwide participation

The program is open to students, entrepreneurs, innovators, and business leaders worldwide to participate in an “investigation of ideas and solutions that will help us accelerate the path to a better post-COVID future.” Anyone older than 13 worldwide can apply. Stanford affiliation and prior entrepreneurial experience are not required. All aspects of Stanford Rebuild are available at no charge.

“Having the chance to collaborate closely with other students across different disciplines is really exciting,” said Mitch Peterman, an MBA candidate and co-president of the Stanford GSB Social Innovation Club. “There’s a lot of uncertainty right now around what the future holds, but that just means there are additional opportunities to design ways for organizations to operate more equitably and efficiently.” Peterman was integral in the planning of Stanford Rebuild, and previously led a Hackathon through the Social Innovation Club.

SEE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic)

Stanford Rebuild is based on the Stanford Embark curriculum and organized by SGSB’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies (CES) and Executive Education program, and, in partnership with schools and groups across Stanford University “and beyond.”

“Stanford Rebuild is designed to address the critical need for rapid innovation and creativity at this uniquely challenging time,” Zenios said. “Periods of disruption bring to light new problems and challenges that innovators can help address. And, they can also be a source of new opportunities as customer needs and pain points change.”

Key categories of Stanford Rebuild

Stanford Rebuild highlights challenges and opportunities related to COVID-19 recovery within four key categories:

  • Reimagine Organizations
  • Reinforce Healthcare Systems
  • Revitalize the Workplace
  • Redesign Human Wellbeing

“Participants will have a better understanding of the disruptions and challenges that are affecting people all around them and those that provide the greatest opportunity for impact,” Zenios said. 

Challenges Stanford Rebuild hopes to address

These categories tackle a range of challenges, including: 

  • Implementing scalable and socially-responsible testing and contact tracing,
  • redesigning childcare and early education,
  • addressing the mental health impact of social distancing, or
  • supporting small businesses as they recover and reinvent themselves. 

Participants are encouraged to present project ideas beyond the four categories, as long as the topic relates to the COVID-19 crisis.

The program will begin with a series of online events designed “to inspire creative problem solving. The kick-off is followed by the eight weeks in which students will work both independently and in teams to develop, test, and refine solutions using the Embark entrepreneurial toolkit. 

The most promising projects will be part of a range of projects presented as a global online event. The chosen projects will demonstrate meaningful accelerated economic, societal, and individual recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants will have free access to Stanford’s online entrepreneurial program and toolkit to help through the process of creating and evaluating projects designed to accelerate recovery from the economic and social downturn caused by the pandemic. 

“Our objective is to have many teams from around the world step up to look at both the challenges global communities will face in recovering from the pandemic, and the new opportunities that will certainly arise. By offering content, tools and expertise at no cost to aspiring innovators, we hope to inspire the next generation of services and organizations that help change lives in this new reality,” Zenios said.

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May US employment rose in hospitality, construction, education, retail, and health services

The May jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also notes that in contrast, “employment in government has continued to decline sharply.”

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Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The US unemployment rate declined by 1.4 percentage points to 13.3% in May, and the number of unemployed people fell by 2.1 million to 21 million, according to the May Jobs Report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Non-farm employment increased by 2.5 million in May.

Unemployment rose dramatically in March (job losses of 1.4 million) and April (losses of 20.7 million), due to the coronavirus pandemic and the efforts to contain it.

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But since February, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed rose by 9.8 percentage points and 15.2 million jobs, respectively.

In May, employment continued to decline in government on both a national, state, and local level, following April’s drop. 

One of the hardest hit industries during the crisis was leisure and hospitality, but in May there was1.2 million in job increases, after losses in March (743,000) and April (7.5 million).

SEE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs  (TechRepublic)

Adult men fared the best in the decline of unemployment:

  • adult men 11.6%
  • adult women 13.9%
  • Whites 12.4% 
  • Hispanics 17.6%

There was very little change in the jobless rates for teens (29.9%), Blacks (16.8%), and Asians (15%). 

The figures for temporary layoffs of the unemployed also decreased by 2.7 million in May to 15.3 million, following a sharp increase of 16.2 million in April. However, the number of permanent job losers continued to rise, increasing by 295,000 in May to 2.3 million.

Wins and losses

May marked a rise in employment in the construction industry, gaining nearly all losses from April. Growth was divided between residential and non-residential. Residential-building construction saw job gains, too.

Education and health services jobs increased in May, too (after a 2.6 million loss in April).


The BLS noted gains in employment for:

  • dentists
  • offices of other health practitioners
  • offices of physicians
  • the social assistance industry
  • child day care services
  • individual services
  • family services 
  • private education
  • the construction industry, residential and non-residential
  • personal and laundry services
  • the retail industry
  • manufacturing with successes in durable goods

    • motor vehicles and parts

    • fabricated metal products

    • machinery

    • plastics and rubber products

    • food manufacturing

    • services to buildings and dwellings

    • temporary help services

  • real estate, rental, and leasing

  • wholesale trade employment

  • couriers and messengers

  • transit and ground passenger transportation


Job losses continued in:

  • education

  • hospitals

  • nursing and residential care facilities

  • electronics and appliance stores

  • auto parts

  • accessories

  • tire stores 

  • manufacturing, primarily durable goods

  • management of company and enterprises

  • information

  • mining

  • transportation and warehousing

  • air transportation

Full-time and part-time updates

Figures for part-time employees who work for economic reasons didn’t change much in May (10.6 million), but that reflects an uptick of 6.3 million since February. The report stated that these part-time individuals would prefer full-time work, but because of reduced hours or lack of available full-time jobs, had to take the part-time work. 

The number of currently unemployed job seekers is at 9 million, a decline by 954,000 in May, after an increase by 4.4 million in April. The BLS didn’t count them as unemployed because they weren’t actively looking for a job in the last four weeks or were not available to take a job. 

The BLS calls a subset of people who aren’t in the labor force “marginally attached” (and not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work), and had looked for a job some time 12 months earlier but not in the four weeks preceding the survey numbered 2.4 million in May, about the same numbers as in April. Those who the  BLS dub “discouraged workers,” a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, numbered 662,000 in May, little changed from the previous month. 

Those who were unemployed for less than five weeks increased 2.2 million, from 116.5 million, and those who usually work part-time rose by 1.6 million to 20.7 million. Part-time workers accounted for about 40% of the over-the-month employment growth.

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Only 13% of the 2.7 billion deskless workers worldwide have paid sick time

Limited benefits, inflexible schedules, and exposure to the coronavirus are concerns for those working in industries such as agriculture, hospitality, healthcare, retail, and education.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Despite how instrumental in daily life, deskless workers are getting the shifts and, unfortunately, the shaft. A new report from Quinyx gauged how deskless workers contend with new regulations, technologies, and global challenges, but are less likely to have health benefits, when compared to those who work in an office.

Deskless workers are people who don’t work in an office or corporate environment, but are farmers, psych techs, grocery store workers, hotel desk staff, sales clerks, and assistant teachers (among many others).

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Quinyx’s report polled 1,200 Americans who identified themselves as deskless workers and the differences they experience, in regards to scheduling, sick time, wages, and communication, and found that they have major struggles with a work-life balance. Seventy-four percent go to work when they’re sick and 47% worry that switching shifts may get them fired. One in four said they’d choose a flexible work schedule over making more money.

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed the needs–and frankly, work availability–for deskless workers, with 14% still going into work during the coronavirus crisis, and 24% losing their jobs because of COVID-19.

SEE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic Premium)

Working while sick

The deskless workforce take their jobs very seriously, with 74% working while sick, since only 13% have paid sick leave. Those who work in retail and transportation were most likely to work while sick and are also most likely to have frequent contact with customers, thus creating health concerns for consumers.

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Image: WalletHub

During the pandemic, deskless workers continued to work–even if they had symptoms. Why? 48% said they needed money for household expenses, 30% said there was no one to cover their shift, and 16% worried they’d lose their jobs if they called in sick.

Pay was the number one reason deskless workers chose to come into work sick. The highest percentage of those working-while-sick were those in hotel and food service. The industries breakdown as follows:

  • 63% hotel and food service
  • 53% retail
  • 45% transportation
  • 39% healthcare


Deskless workers’ schedules lack flexibility

  • 31% left a job because their employer didn’t provide schedules in advance
  • 39% were forced to call out of work because they couldn’t find someone to take over their shift
  • 41% say system restrictions prevented them from switching shifts with a co-worker
  • 47% believe switching a shift would be perceived as negative to their bosses

Work-life balance
Quinyx found the inflexible schedules created a dramatic work-life imbalance, with the majority of deskless workers missing a social event or major milestone because of inflexible schedules. Rigid schedules also caused more than half miss out on sleep, meals, and personal time.

  • 70% missed social events or holiday celebrations
  • 68% lost personal time
  • 49% missed major family/friend milestones
  • 34% missed educational activities

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Image: WalletHub

Common perception, the report revealed, is that deskless workers were temporary workers, but most stayed in the positions for up to three years. Still, retention is a concern, with 61% planning to stay one to three years in their current job, 37% believe their employers see them as disposable or as a temporary worker, and 64% are so dissatisfied they’ve considered quitting. And, it’s the younger generation, Millennials and Gen-Z, who are twice as likely as older generations to be in the process of looking for another job.

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Image: WalletHub

Income loss

Loss of job, loss of hours, and alternatively, too many hours plague the deskless worker.

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Image: WalletHub

COVID-19 losses and a tiny gain

Deskless workers actually feel more valued now than pre-pandemic, with 37% saying they didn’t feel valued before COVID-19, and 27% saying they didn’t feel valued after COVID-19, which Quinyx’s report attributed to increased communication and “a more human approach to workplace engagement.”

The coronavirus pandemic also made deskless workers start thinking about benefits or security, with 18% who worked during COVID-19 planning to leave for better job security, and 29% who lost their jobs, to find one in a different industry with better benefits and security.

Relying on Millennials

The report stated “As a ‘mobile-first”‘ generation, Millennial and Gen Z workers are receiving more ‘out-of-hours’ contact from employers than baby boomers. This could be a result of the ‘always connected’ generations.”

COVID-19 era communication

During the pandemic

  • 12% said employers didn’t provide enough information 
  • 10% said their employer provided unclear or confusing information
  • 35% said their employer didn’t provide adequate training or direction on how to do their job during the pandemic

Deskless workers say they were uncomfortable talking to their managers during the pandemic, and this created a health risk.

  • 19% didn’t know what to do if they felt sick or may have contracted COVID-19
  • 28% didn’t know what to do if a loved one had COVID-19
  • 25% had concerns about compensation or job security 
  • 43% didn’t know if they would still receive a bonus or a pay raise based on their 2019 work

Deskless workers and the 2020 presidential candidates

Deskless workers want policies to improve their jobs and quality of life and don’t feel prioritized by the 2020 presidential candidates.

  • 44% make $11 to $15 an hour
  • 41% have a “side hustle” or second job
  • 5% work three jobs to make ends meet
  • 53% will vote for a presidential candidate who supports raising wages
  • 34% don’t believe 2020 presidential candidates are focused on issues that impact them and their families
  • 17% were undecided who to vote for pre-COVID, but now have a candidate in mind
  • 12% will vote for a different presidential candidate based on response during COVID-19

What matters most to deskless workers

  • 38% said support from family and friends
  • 37% federal financial aid
  • 10% local community support
  • 3% non-profit organization support

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ETSI’s new group on COVID-19 tracing apps interoperability moving fast: officials elected and work programme set up.

Sophia Antipolis, 11 June 2020: The ETSI E4P group, “Europe for Privacy-Preserving Pandemic Protection”, launched a month ago has already held two meetings. The work of ISG E4P aims to facilitate the development of backward-compatible and interoperable proximity tracing applications to be used to combat pandemics by helping to break viral transmission chains.
The kick-off meeting of the group took place on 26 May with a record audience of 50 people online representing some of the 36 global organizations that comprise the group to date. Ranging from government and EC representatives, vendors, operators and research bodies to ethics, legal and cybersecurity players, members elected Edgar Guillot, Orange, as the Chair of the group and Miguel Garcia-Menendez, Alastria and Stéphane Dalmas, INRIA, as Vice Chairs.
The second meeting on 9 June laid the groundwork for priorities and confirmed the tight deadline of the end of the summer to deliver the first report out of the three work items approved.

A comparison of existing pandemic contact tracing systems is underway and will examine the similarities and differences of the various available or upcoming approaches, in terms of degree of interoperability, security aspects, use of a centralized or decentralized approach, use of particular methods and technologies, support of different device platforms, epidemiological value and privacy aspects.
Another work undertaken deals with the requirements for pandemic contact tracing systems using mobile devices. The use cases will address the key aspects of the system (reliability, accuracy, timeliness, privacy, security, etc.). Systems should be practical to deploy, used by the majority of users voluntarily, compliant with the applicable laws and regulations, and provide seamless continuity for people travelling between countries.

As for the interoperability framework, it will allow the centralized and decentralized modes of operation to fully interoperate. It will cover interoperability between ROBERT, NHSX, DP3T, DESIRE, ProntoC2 and other applications/protocols as well as the different device platforms, some of which may emerge also during ISG E4P work.

The first Bluetooth-based European application was launched in France on 2 June (StopCovid) and was downloaded more than 600,000 times on that day both from Apple Store and Google Play (Android), according to the French government. So, time is of the essence…

About ETSI
ETSI provides members with an open and inclusive environment to support the timely development, ratification and testing of globally applicable standards for ICT-enabled systems, applications and services across all sectors of industry and society. We are a not-for-profit body with more than 900 member organizations worldwide, drawn from 65 countries and five continents. Members comprise a diversified pool of large and small private companies, research entities, academia, government and public organizations. ETSI is officially recognized by the EU as a European Standards Organization (ESO).

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With 6 years’ persistent efforts, the Annual Global Congress of Knowledge Economy (GCKE) has successfully attracted more than 1,500 world renowned speakers and participants from more than 40 countries and areas around the world as a leading international event for economy community. GCKE 2021 is dedicated to provide a platform to make up a dialogue between industries and academic organizations and technology transfer from research to industry. We aim to bring together experts from academia, research institutions and industry and key-decision makers to participate in the congress. During the congress, we will set up a series of activities such as Plenary Forum, High-end Dialogue, Scientific Programs, Posters, and Exhibitions for participants.

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Virtual Workshop:
 R&I priorities strategy Agendas for a common path toward Energy Transition in 2050 

Join us for the ETIP SNET Virtual Workshop:
 R&I priorities strategy Agendas for a common path toward Energy Transition in 2050 
On 18 June 2020  
14.15 – 17.00 
This Virtual Workshop will focus on strength the collaboration among all sectors of the energy system that is crucial to meet the 2030 and 2050 targets set up by then European Commission toward the energy transition.   
As key industry-led communities along the innovation chain, each ETIP and PPP invited as guest panelists are contributing to identifying R&I priorities for medium- and long-term strategies. 
The aim is to share among the participants the priorities identified by ETIP SNET in the 10 year Roadmap and Implementation Plan 2021-2024, and the R&I priorities of the invited ETIPs and PPPs and see how their priorities can connect with ETIP SNET priorities and support and collaborate toward the energy transition in 2030-2050.   

To join the webinar please register by clicking on the “Register Here” button below before 16 June 2020. 

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5 questions to ask about your AI or IoT project

There’s more to usability in AI and IoT than you think. Before launching your AI or IoT project, answer these questions.

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Whenever usability is used in an IT context, it usually refers to the user-friendliness of a Web portal or an application user interface and the ease of getting up to operational speed with a new piece of software.

While these are both valid and widely used definitions, I’d like to propose an expansion of how we think about usability for systems engaged in artificial intelligence (AI) or the Internet of Things (IoT).

The other day I was visiting with Jeevan Kalanithi, CEO of OpenSpace, which builds AI and IoT applications for the construction industry. I asked Kalanithi about the learning curve for using his product, and he sounded surprised. “What learning curve?” he asked. “An individual simply turns on a camera at a building site, walks through the construction, and records what has been done.”

SEE: Managing AI and ML in the enterprise 2020 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

According to Kalanithi, that’s all that needs to be done to enable a construction company manager who can’t get to a building site to see actual progress and to map the video against the master blueprints. If the manager clicks on the dining room area in the blueprint, he or she can pull up photos of that area to confirm if electrical wiring or drywall have been installed.

When I thought about this later, it was clear that there was more involved in making AI and IoT usable than a user interface. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your product’s usability that you may not have thought about.

Can your AI or IoT app be used immediately, with little training?

If you can literally turn on an AI or IoT app and start using it, usability has been facilitated to a point where the user doesn’t need much training. More importantly, user confidence and endorsement of the app are gained. This makes it hard for the app to fail.

Do you have user-painless security measures?

There should be a seamless and effortless way to enforce security. Some ways to do this are: One-stop thumbprint IDs; automatic network monitoring and intrusion detection at the edge of the enterprise (e.g., zero trust networks); and streamlining IT processes for synchronous push downloads of software security updates for all mobile, laptop, and desktop devices. In all cases, the effect of the technique on the end user should be minimal. 

How do you emphasize return to the business?

Oceans of ink have been spilled on return on investment (ROI) formulas that attempt to ensure the company got what it paid for when it invested in a new technology. But at the end of the day, what really matters to companies is return to the business. A return to the business means that the IoT or AI app becomes so indispensable in addressing key strategic and operational challenges within the company that it literally transforms the company in a positive way. When this happens, ROI is almost a moot point.

Do you make the technology easy for executives to talk about?

Executives get asked by stakeholders, industry analysts, the board, and the press about key investments into new technologies. They must be able to explain the business rationale behind adopting a technology, but also how the technology works and delivers value. It’s up to IT to break down the technology and how it works into simple English, and to communicate this to upper management. If someone in management can’t understand and explain a technology in plain English, they’re not going to back it for long.

Is the app plugged into daily operations and maintenance cycles?

To remain usable and sustainable, IoT and AI apps have to be plugged into business processes where they operate seamlessly and productively each day. They must also be regularly monitored, maintained, and updated. Failure to attend to these rudiments on a regular basis will spell failure for any app.

The usability roundup

AI and IoT technology usability goes far beyond making a user interface attractive and navigable. The technologies must be explainable by upper management and immediately usable by staff in daily work. IoT and AI technology must also be sustainable, by ensuring that their operations, maintenance, and security are current, and that these technologies deliver value to the business on a daily basis.

These are the hallmarks of truly usable and successful technology, and they are no less important for AI and IoT than they are for any other IT asset.

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How distributed cloud will affect data center infrastructures in 2020 and beyond

Distributed cloud services are proving their mettle in facilitating advanced business operations. Learn more about the outlook for this concept for the future.

The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic taking place this spring truly demonstrates the value of cloud services combined with remote access to support businesses and workers who can’t operate in on-premises environments. Distributed cloud services in particular stand poised to become the true foundation of efficient and well-managed business operations.

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Distributed cloud, according to Gartner, “is the distribution of public cloud services to different physical locations, while the operation, governance, updates and evolution of the services are the responsibility of the originating public cloud provider.”

I spoke with Bindu Sundaresan, director of AT&T Cybersecurity, Ankur Singla, CEO of Volterra, a distributed cloud service platform, and a few other industry experts to get their takes on what’s happening in this space.

SEE: Top 100+ tips for telecommuters and managers (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Scott Matteson: How is the distributed cloud changing how infrastructure and applications are managed?

Ankur Singla: Due to the exponential increase of data-driven technologies–think artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and 5G–apps and data, along with their supporting infrastructure, are increasingly spread across edge sites and multiple clouds. These distributed workloads introduce several serious operational and security challenges for organizations. Specifically, IT teams are struggling to securely, reliably, and cost-effectively manage these workloads. What’s more, these challenges will only continue to grow. By 2025, up to 90% of enterprise-generated data will be produced and processed outside traditional data centers or a single centralized cloud.

The distributed cloud is an emerging approach that will enable organizations to manage disparate components of its enterprise IT infrastructure as one unified, logical cloud. As organizations can deploy apps with a common set of policies and overarching visibility across all locations and heterogeneous infrastructure, using a cloud-native model, the distributed cloud mitigates the aforementioned operational challenges. This is why Gartner named distributed cloud one of its “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020.”

Bindu Sundaresan: In today’s digital business environment, businesses have become more decentralized and mobile to fulfil business objectives and remain competitive. This has given rise to a distributed cloud model, ultimately streamlining location, regulation, and security implications, while reducing latency and large-scale outages. In fact, by 2023, Gartner predicts that most cloud service providers will have a distributed ATM-like presence to serve a subset of their services for low-latency application requirements. In order to manage such distributed cloud environments, we’ll see an emergence of micro data centers located in areas that see high amounts of traffic, in parallel with the ATM-like cloud service points.
The surge of distributed cloud brings challenges for teams tasked with optimizing, managing and protecting the infrastructure. Legacy networks, which were designed for a centralized world, are not sufficient to handle the amount of traffic that cloud-based applications create. And although traditional firewalls help to protect against traffic flowing into the data center or other physical locations, they cannot provide visibility or security for remote users that connect directly to the Internet or cloud-based resources.

Scott Matteson: How will the distributed cloud impact hybrid cloud and multi-cloud projects?

Ankur Singla: As noted above, the rise of hybrid cloud deployments, and especially multi-cloud deployments, is a big part of what’s causing the need for the distributed cloud. In fact, a recent study by Propeller Insights found that IT leaders found secure and reliable connectivity between providers; different support and consulting processes; and different platform services, the biggest challenges in managing workloads across different cloud providers. The distributed cloud helps manage all disparate computing environments as a single logical entity, improving the performance, reliability, and manageability of multi-cloud deployments.

SEE: How to trim your cloud infrastructure costs (TechRepublic)

Bindu Sundaresan: The effect of decentralization for all-important cloud access is an issue that can quickly become untenable, increasing latency that erodes even more for users and offices geographically remote from the data center. Because today’s organizations have become reliant on cloud-based applications, the risk of being locked out of the very thing on which their business depends is increased. Many organizations are attempting to address this performance issue and add resiliency to their network by connecting their branch offices and remote users directly to the internet utilizing multiple network circuits and SD-WAN, bypassing the data center altogether when accessing cloud-based applications.

Scott Matteson: How does the edge fit in?

Ankur Singla: In addition to the rise of multi-cloud deployments, the sharp increase in edge computing deployments is causing apps and their infrastructure to be more highly distributed than ever before. Propeller Insight’s survey data found that IT execs identified difficulty in managing apps across multiple edge locations and an inability to accommodate the IT infrastructure needed to host and operate at the edge, as the biggest business concerns about having apps at the edge.

Rather than managing edge deployments disparately across many different sites, using a dated, siloed approach and a bevy of different tools, DevOps and NetOps teams want to be able to operate apps in a more unified, cloud-like fashion regardless of where the workloads are actually located. To meet this need, there’s an ongoing effort to “cloudify the edge.” The cloudified edge will enable organizations to operate and manage apps and data across different locations and infrastructures, including providing consistent and integrated compute, storage, networking, and security resources for distributed edge locations. The effort to cloudify the edge is part of the larger evolution toward the distributed cloud.

Scott Matteson: What are the advantages for users and administrators?

Ankur Singla: Major issues with security, connectivity, reliability, and performance, and inconsistent service offerings across providers make it difficult for users and administrators to efficiently deploy and operate multi-cloud deployments. Meanwhile, edge deployments also face serious challenges, with managing infrastructure and apps across numerous edge sites posing potential barriers to success. Additionally, IT teams are concerned they lack the resources, both workforce and technical, to keep edge applications and infrastructure updated long-term.

SEE: Cloud computing: Microsoft signs new discount Azure deal with UK government (TechRepublic)

There’s a major market need for enterprises to bring a consistent cloud operational environment–wherever they are running their applications–to address these concerns. The distributed cloud bridges those gaps and enables organizations to easily operate apps via a cloud-native environment.

Bindu Sundaresan: 

  • Speed and location: Such a model enables a faster, more responsive delivery of certain applications, with minimal latency even when transferring bulk data
  • Regulatory compliance: With emerging, regional compliance regulations like GDPR and CCPA, distributed cloud environments can provide that data does not leave the user’s country
  • Reduced outages: A distributed cloud model can help mitigate large scale outages that can tarnish an organization’s reputation.

Scott Matteson: What are the security implications?

Ankur Singla: While there are many service providers that enable connecting and securing consumers-to-applications (Akamai, Cloudflare, etc.) and employees-to-applications (e.g. Zscaler, Netskope, etc.), there isn’t a service provider that delivers on the need for application-to-application connectivity and security, which is critical for distributed environments.

While cloud providers have provided a lot of tools to deal with these problems, integrating and maintaining these tools is not easy. Securing apps and data in a heterogeneous environment (edge, multiple public clouds, and private clouds) requires organizations to address a multi-layer security problem—identity, authentication, and authorization, secrets, and key management–using multiple sets of tools/vendors. Unfortunately, this approach is prohibitively expensive. Moreover, the evolving security landscape and new technologies make it even harder for these teams, as they don’t have the necessary expertise or the bandwidth to keep up with all the changes.

The distributed cloud enables organizations to easily implement consistent networking, reliability, and security services, including API routing, load balancing, security, and network routing, across disparate application clusters and locations, with a consistent configuration and operational model. Using this approach, organizations are able to deploy high-performance, reliable, and secure connectivity between multiple cloud provider locations and in resource-constrained edge locations. 

SEE: The state of the cloud in 2020: Public, multicloud dominates but waste spending is high (TechRepublic)

Bindu Sundaresan: In legacy cloud architecture, there was one way in and one way out of the network. But with the distributed model, there are now many network breakouts; sometimes even hundreds or thousands across a wide geographical area. Each of these connections to the internet represents an avenue for attack, and therefore, must be addressed in regard to security.
Cloud-based Secure Web Gateways (SWGs) offer administrators a way of applying unified security policies across all of their users, virtually anywhere that they conduct business and provide centralized visibility so they can remain informed about what activities are taking place on their network. Together with SD-WAN, this overcomes the traditional woe that users suffer lower performance and weaker security simply because they are farther from the network’s core.
SWGs help to protect users against web-based threats by restricting what content can be accessed. They also offer a solution for organizations to perform deep packet inspection of encrypted web traffic with minimal effect on network performance. A cloud-based architecture also scales more easily because capacity can be added without the need to buy expensive security equipment as businesses expand, whether that be adding new offices, integrating company acquisitions, or conducting mergers.

Scott Matteson: What kind of organizations should prioritize distributed cloud initiatives this year?

Ankur Singla: Managing, supporting, and securing the increasing number of applications deployed in multiple clouds and at the edge is a hefty challenge, but the distributed cloud can address those issues. Early adopters of this new approach include organizations in markets like financial services, telecom, e-commerce, retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and more. For example, with the full-scale introduction of 5G, it is expected that the spread of IoT services will connect everything from automobiles to home appliances to industrial machines. As IoT requires large amounts of data with minimal latency, there is a strong need for distributed platforms that can provide cloud-native computing, networking, and security at the original data source.

While the fully distributed cloud won’t arrive for a few years, critical milestones on that journey will start to unfold in 2020. … Within the next 2-3 years, we will see all pieces come together, bringing order to chaos and giving birth to the distributed cloud.
Ankur Singla, CEO of Volterra

While the fully distributed cloud won’t arrive for a few years, critical milestones on that journey will start to unfold in 2020. Specifically, any organization that is planning to leverage either multi-cloud or edge deployments, or is already leveraging either, should start taking initiatives to support the distributed cloud,for example, by implementing platforms like Volterra. Within the next 2-3 years, we will see all pieces come together, bringing order to chaos and giving birth to the distributed cloud.

Scott Matteson: How is the current COVID-19 pandemic impacting this whole picture? I would imagine distributed cloud would become even more of a prized commodity now that so many workplaces are embracing remote connectivity?

SEE: Coronavirus: What business pros need to know (TechRepublic)

Ankur Singla: That’s exactly right. Corporations have set SLAs with their service providers that guarantee them a high standard of performance, reliability, security, etc., for anything IT-related that’s done within their offices or data centers. For example, a normal office worker is guaranteed by the company’s telecom provider a certain level of bandwidth when they connect from corporate Wi-Fi across the wide-area network. Similarly, a developer will be guaranteed a level of speed and security when they connect from their corporate data center network to a public cloud. But all those SLAs and guarantees go out the window when people are working from home on their consumer networks, which were never built to handle this much traffic.

A distributed cloud approach helps alleviate this issue by allowing remote workers to leverage a global network of disaggregated cloud resources that are located closer to the workers, giving them much better performance and thus employee productivity.

Bindu Sundaresan: As organizations shift to a remote business environment, we can expect an increase in companies adopting a distributed cloud model. Organizations are motivated by the need for digital transformation amid COVID-19 conditions, and the distributed cloud model will help them arrive there faster. However, it’s also important to understand the security implications that such adoption can bring. The future environment will look more dynamic and adaptable with a prioritization of employee productivity.
Through the AT&T Alien Labs Open Threat Exchange, we have seen reports of COVID-19-related malicious activity globally from established attack groups as well as opportunistic attackers. In the last few weeks, US targeted attacks have increased significantly, so security will need to be a continued priority for organizations utilizing a distributed cloud model.
Ivan Fioravanti, CTO of CoreView, a Microsoft 365 solutions provider, also weighed in:
“Data center infrastructure has shown its limits during the COVID-19 emergency, when the number of remote workers increased in a matter of days and centralized VPN access was not able to scale properly. Usually, companies have direct large-bandwidth connections to their main data centers from their main office locations, but this proved to be useless once the pandemic quarantine went into place. A multitude of users started to access systems from different locations, connection speeds, and devices, disrupting the standard usage that a data center is designed for.

Cloud usage will increase, hybrid cloud will become the new norm for infrastructure and for services. 100 percent of XaaS companies will succeed, 100 percent of on-premise companies will fail. 
Ivan Fioravanti, CTO of CoreView, a Microsoft 365 solutions provider

 “Cloud usage will increase, hybrid cloud will become the new norm for infrastructure and for services. 100 percent of XaaS companies will succeed, 100 percent of on-premise companies will fail. Federation of services to enable more collaboration in and out of companies is a must to increase productivity and revenues. This can only be achieved at scale with public infrastructure and companies dedicated to ensuring this critical service is available to other organizations. Data centers will be seen like electricity generators: In the past, they were the main source of energy but will serve as the backup in case of failure of the new main source, the public electric company.”
Colin Metcalfe, SOC operations manager for Security as a Service provider Cygilant, had this to add to the topic:
“Like all things in life, there will be winners and losers in all of this. I expect to see an increase in large-scale ‘Hyperscale’ data centers as more companies adopt the cloud for their environments.
“However, this will come at a cost for the smaller-scale offerings, as the reduction in their customer base and revenue makes it less viable for them to continue.

SEE: IT directors plan to protect cloud budgets and consolidate vendors during downturn (TechRepublic)
This will push the real battle into the middle ground, the medium-sized data centers, located inside city limits, who cannot scale to match their larger competitors. I expect them to stave off their fate for a while as they can adapt the space they have to accommodate greater cloud infrastructure in place of the customer equipment, which will eventually dwindle away.
This middle-ground battle will be fought hard and won by those who can adapt the quickest and offer their customers the most flexibility in service and support.”
Finally, Dave Mariani, co-founder and chief strategy officer at data virtualization provider AtScale, said:
“When enterprise IT teams are deploying new systems within their organization, they’re most likely going to be in the cloud. However, cloud transformation is a challenging multi-year process for even the most nimble of enterprises, and there are doubts on whether or not all data will live in the cloud for the foreseeable future. This can be a nightmare for IT teams who have to bridge the gap with siloed, fragmented data between the legacy systems staying in place and newer cloud technologies deployed.
“The challenge for the enterprise in this very common scenario becomes how to marry a massive amount of siloed data without re-engineering their entire IT architecture–and at the same time, give the right data to the right people–fast, so they can make decisions that drive the business. To solve this challenge, businesses need a solution that intelligently virtualizes all their siloed data into a single, unified data view from which a variety of business intelligence (BI) tools can get fast, consistent answers.
“Data virtualization has existed for many years, but only recently have we developed new capabilities that enable companies to leverage disparate legacy and modern data across the hybrid cloud, bringing it together for BI teams and the greater business.”

Also see

Image: gorodenkoff Getty Images/iStockphoto

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CLOSING date May 6 2020: Consultant – Legal Identity


Published the 23/04/2020

Position Title : Consultant – Legal Identity

Duty Station : Home based

Classification : Consultant, Grade OTHER

Type of Appointment : Consultant, three months

Estimated Start Date : As soon as possible

Closing Date : 06 May 2020

Established in 1951, IOM is a Related Organization of the United Nations, and as the leading UN agency in the field of migration, works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.


The UN Legal Identity Agenda 2020-2030 is a global initiative promoting a whole-of-UN approach to supporting Member States in building holistic and sustainable civil registration, vital statistics and identity management systems. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) joined the UN Legal Identity Expert Group (LIEG) at its formation and was engaged in the early design of this initiative. As this initiative has now been rolled out and formalised into the UN Legal Identity Agenda Task Force, it is important for IOM to engage in and contribute to the capacity-building expertise on legal identity solutions and to ensure our overall alignment with the UN system-wide efforts. The implementation of the ambitious Legal Identity Agenda will require considerable technical assistance globally and at country-level to support IOM Member States, IOM country offices, regional offices, the IOM African Capacity Building Centre (IOM ACBC), but also and primarily migrants and communities, to support access to identity in migration context, in order to foster regular migration opportunities and access to public services as stabilization factors (banking, health, education, etc.).

At the 110th Council in 2019, IOM’s Director General announced the intention to develop an institutional Legal Identity Strategy by September 2020 as a priority area for IOM in its Strategic Vision implementation. This piece of work will contribute to the development of IOM’s new institutional Legal Identity Strategy to be presented to Member States at the Council in November 2020.

The current policy landscape presents an appropriate opportunity for IOM to review its institutional approaches to legal identity, document management and civil registration. First, universal legal identity is an important cross-cutting issue in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development agreed by all Member States in September 2015. A specific target was established within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Target 16.9 – legal identity for all to advance commitment to leave no one behind, and equally relevant is SDG 17.19. Second, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) included policy recommendations seeking to provide migrants with proof of legal identity; third, with the launch of new UN Legal Identity Agenda and enhanced UN-World Bank cooperation on the topic, IOM will need to ensure its work is consistent with the UN’s system-wide initiatives and approach.

IOM is seeking the services of a Consultant with expertise in legal and digital identity (from foundational to functional ID systems), World Bank ID4D, strategy design and development, and processes to undertake assessment/mapping practices.

Under the overall direction of the Senior Specialist, Border & Identity Solutions and the direct supervision of the IOM Immigration and Border Management (IBM)’s Identity Management and Biometrics Officer, the successful candidate is expected to produce three outputs: Desk review of the main stakeholders and their relevance to the UN Legal Identity Agenda, Set of principles and recommendations and Outline for an institutional strategy.

Core Functions / Responsibilities:

1. Desk review

The document should include a thorough desk review of the main stakeholders and their relevance to the UN Legal Identity Agenda, including UN agencies such as ICAO, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), international cooperation agencies, as well as donors and the private sector, with a methodology jointly developed with IOM. The focus should be a analysis on IOM’s existing needs based on the other stakeholders’ expertise (UNLIA, WB, UNICEF, UNDP, private sector), as well as the implications for IOM, rule of engagement and non-engagement, which can inform the formulation of a capacity development response. In addition, the consultant should assess the IOM comparative advantages and capacity gaps, risks and limitations in the field of legal identity, through consultations with IOM at HQ, regional, ACBC as the focal point for the African continent and country level. Also, there will be a need to consult with a range of Member States to see their perspectives. The assessment parts (stakeholders mapping, IOM capacities on ID Management, and Member States) should also be developed separately for IOM internal use.

2. Set of principles and recommendations

These outputs will contribute to the development of an IOM institutional strategy (2020-2030) on legal identity. This strategy should serve the organization to guide its points of entry, implementation scope, the necessary internal capacity building, the limitations of engagement as well as core policies relating to legal identity.

3. Outline for an institutional strategy

The outline of the strategy will articulate the concept of legal identity and define its role within the IOM’s broader mandate, primarily immigration and border management, as well as its direct and indirect linkages with other IOM divisions (DTM, MPA, DOE, etc.). Hence, it would allow IOM to explore concrete responses to the identified gaps and overlaps, while pursuing potential partnerships with other implementing agencies and fundraising opportunities. Also, the strategy will present the views of a range of consulted member states and IOM missions on legal identity strengths and weaknesses, needs and gaps, deliverables and organization ownership.

Tangible and Measurable Outputs of the Work Assignment

External Consultation

• To undertake a mapping of the existing stakeholders on legal identity, their mandate and

implementation capacities, including UN Legal Identity Agenda Task Force, World Bank Group

(ID4D and beyond), ICAO, WFP, UNICEF, UNDP, WHO, UNFPA, UNECA, and others.

• To consult twelve Member States (mindful of regional balance) on their existing support programs on legal identity, their priorities as well as their gaps.

Internal Consultation

• To assess IOM’s mandate and divisions’ work related to legal identity through consultations

with relevant departments and units at both HQ, regional, and country levels.

• To compile and consult with relevant departments on IOM’s legal framework and data protection policy to identify potential limitations on the field of legal identity.

• To consult six IOM missions and assess their level of understanding on legal identity, as well as their needs on capacity building.

Analysis and Recommendations

• To define IOM’s comparative advantage and weaknesses in the field of legal identity.

• To provide definition and guidelines on IOM’s involvement regarding digital identity, legal identity, functional ID vs foundational ID systems, from technical, operational and legal perspectives.

Presentation and facilitation

• Prepare and co-facilitate IOM global workshop on Legal Identity.

• Write up a final report with findings and recommendations for endorsement.

Realistic Delivery Dates and Details as to how the work must be delivered

Day 15: Propose methodology and documents’ structure approved.

Day 45: Draft of external assessment of Legal Identity stakeholders is sent. Day 60: Draft of external consultations with Member States is sent.

Day 75: Draft of internal consultations and desk review of IOM relevant mandate is sent.

Day 90: All internal and external consultations/assessments final versions are validated by IOM. Day 100: Draft recommendations and outlines of the IOM strategy are provided.

Day 120: Final outlines of the IOM Strategy are approved and validated by IOM. Day 140: Propose Global Workshop ToRs and draft agenda.

Day 160: Facilitate and present the strategy at the Global Workshop.

All documents are to be produced and delivered in the English language and the consultant is expected to provide a methodology proposal.

Performance indicators for evaluation of results

• Quality desk review of the main stakeholders and their relevance to the UN Legal Identity


• Quality set of principles and recommendations in accordance with international standards

• Quality outline for an IOM institutional strategy

Required Qualifications and Experience:

Values – all IOM staff members must abide by and demonstrate these three values:

• Inclusion and respect for diversity: respects and promotes individual and cultural differences; encourages diversity and inclusion wherever possible.

• Integrity and transparency: maintains high ethical standards and acts in a manner consistent with organizational principles/rules and standards of conduct.

• Professionalism: demonstrates ability to work in a composed, competent and committed manner and exercises careful judgment in meeting day-to-day challenges.

Core Competencies – behavioural indicators

• Teamwork: develops and promotes effective collaboration within and across units to achieve shared goals and optimize results.

• Delivering results: produces and delivers quality results in a service-oriented and timely manner; is action oriented and committed to achieving agreed outcomes.

• Managing and sharing knowledge: continuously seeks to learn, share knowledge and innovate.

• Accountability: takes ownership for achieving the Organization’s priorities and assumes responsibility for own action and delegated work.

• Communication: encourages and contributes to clear and open communication; explains complex matters in an informative, inspiring and motivational way.

IOM’s competency framework can be found at this link.

Competencies will be assessed during a competency-based interview.

1 Accredited Universities are the ones listed in the UNESCO World Higher Education Database


Required Competencies:


• Master’s degree in International relations, Public Management, Business Administration, or a related field from an accredited academic institution with seven years of relevant professional experience; or

• University degree in the above fields with nine years of relevant professional experience.


• Minimum of eight years of relevant professional experience working for/with Government or an Inter-Governmental organization in fields related to immigration or identity management, including digital identity;

• Extensive knowledge and expertise on legal identity, immigration, mobility and border management, risk analysis, and to the extent possible, digital identity;

• Demonstrated experience in developing and formulating strategies;

• Demonstrated experience in engaging numerous stakeholders and driving them towards a consensus;

• Proven previous working experience constituting of substantial engagement in strategy development;

• Full computer literacy, including familiarity with research tools; Excellent written and spoken


• Experience of drafting documents for Governments or Intergovernmental Organizations will be an added advantage;

• Demonstrated ability to work in a multicultural environment and establish harmonious and effective relationships;

• Experience with IOM, the World Bank ID$D, and the UN System is a distinct advantage;

• Experience of conducting assessment / strategy;

• Experience in formulating policy and strategy papers;

• Experience working on Legal Identity related projects;

• Experience working on Digital Identity related projects;

• Experience working with Foundational/Functional ID Systems, Identity capacity building, especially legal/operational/technical components;

• Delivers on set objectives within required timeframe;

• Effectively coordinates actions with partners;

• Works effectively with stakeholders;

• Necessary professional skills to strive towards the common goal and find solutions to work with different stakeholders and different data sets;

• General understanding of migration issues;

• General understanding of IOM and UN System mandates;

• Experience in conducting primary and secondary research;

• Experience in drafting research reports policy documents, strategies, or policy analysis documents.


Fluency in English is required (oral and written). Working knowledge in French, Portuguese, and/or Spanish is an advantage.


The consultant must adhere to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Data

Protection Principles (IN/138) and maintain confidentiality.

The consultant will be responsible to follow IOM writing guidelines and latest glossaries in all given assignments for accurate translation.

*This position will only take ninety (90) days spread over a course of six months.


• Internationally recruited professional staff are required to be mobile. For this staff category, candidates who are nationals of the duty station’s country cannot be considered eligible.

• The appointment is subject to funding confirmation.

• Appointment will be subject to certification that the candidate is medically fit for appointment or visa requirements and security clearances.

• Vacancies close at 23:59 local time Geneva, Switzerland on the respective closing date. No late applications will be accepted

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On May 21st, IIoT World is organizing a virtual conference called “Be Ready to Scale Digital for Manufacturing 4.0”

On May 21st, IIoT World is organizing a virtual conference called “Be Ready to Scale Digital for Manufacturing 4.0”. Their speakers from Hitachi Vantara, InformaTech; Omdia Research, Toyota, Maple Leaf Foods, Hitachi Rail will answer the following questions:

  • Will you be ready to run when the next expansion happens?
  • How do you determine the best outcomes to focus on and the associated ROI?
  • Is there a plan for business process alignment, change management bridging gaps in IT & OT?
  •  Are your processes and operations scalable, immune to market upsets, and future proof?

Check the agenda & register for free

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