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Is Enterprise DevOps an Oxymoron?

By Jon Collins

A long, long time ago, in my career days just before being an analyst, I was a software development consultant. I loved doing it — these were the Three Amigo days, full of unified models, cross-functional teams, dynamism and service orientation. Had it not been for the crushing amount of time I was spending travelling (and therefore not seeing my young family), I might still be doing it now.

The job was not without its challenges. Technical complexity, and tight timescales combined with getting people on board and showing them how, yes, drawing things out before hacking code really could speed things up without jeopardising quality. All in all, however, things went in the right direction, but for one difficulty that was near-fatal for a project I was supporting.

I can remember the meeting like it was yesterday. The shape of the room, the large windows down one side, the whiteboard on the wall. Opposite me and to the right was the operations manager for the firm. On my left were representatives of the development team.

Nobody gets out of bed in the morning thinking, “I know, today, I’m going to go out of my way to upset people.” Yet, here was the operations manager, in an impossible situation. “You want it deployed… when?” he asked, shaking his head. “As we said, by the end of the month,” said one of the developers. “But that’s… impossible. It can’t be done,” he said.

He didn’t mean to be angry, but he was clearly frustrated for a number of reasons. That the expectation was on him to make things easy, even if they were not. That he was therefore being put in a position of being the difficult one. And yes, that he would have to work out how to manage the new application alongside everything else he had to deal with.

Of course, he was frustrated because he didn’t understand why he hadn’t been told about the deployment weeks, if not months before, so he would have had time to prepare. But more than this: ultimately, because the situation seemed so unnecessary. How had the organisation arrived in a place where this conflict was even a thing?

It would be great to say that this is the challenge DevOps was set out to resolve, but that isn’t the case. In large part, DevOps is rooted in a world in which bright young things at well-funded startups are building exciting new capabilities on top of highly commoditised, cloud-based platforms: people who haven’t had to suffer the indignities of not one, but thousands of legacy systems vying for attention.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before the notion of frictionless deployment was confirmed as a jolly good idea for brown-field organisations. Which have, as my anecdote illustrates, been tussling with notions of dynamic software development practice for many years, through the waves of eXtreme Programming, Agile development, continuous integration and indeed, the realm of DevOps.

As per a recent conversation, DevOps proclaims to break down the wall of confusion between two technical tribes, each with their own ways of speaking and acting. And who wouldn’t want to do precisely that? Continuous deployment is a laudable goal, as is everything else building up around the pipeline right now — testing, security, data management, performance management, you name it. All help the notion of a single, seamless flow.

But still, when we look at the enterprise (a.k.a. any large organization that has an accumulated technology investment), we find that deploying DevOps itself is extremely hard, if possible at all. As a good friend, a colleague from my consultancy days and now senior developer at a big bank, commented: “I’m fascinated by any large company more than 10 years old that thinks anything like DevOps will make the slightest difference to their ability to deliver business impact through software-intensive systems,” he said.

It may well be that one day, we can all default to massively scalable, managed infrastructure that adjusts itself to the workload at hand, at which point all organisations could be in the same position as startups — though as a senior decision maker said to me, this could be ten years out or further; having said this, we are also looking at a re-distribution wave, following cloud’s impetus to catalyse centralisation, as illustrated by what’s currently termed the Internet of Things.

This, complex and dynamic situation is the starting point for the report I am writing on DevOps in the enterprise. Like the operations manager of old, large organisations are frustrated, as their desire to innovate and push into new areas using software is stymied through repeated disappointment caused by process friction and organisational inertia. Technology vendors may claim to have the answers, but they are all-too-frequently preaching to the converted, as the real challenge — of delivering real, practical, sustainable improvement — remains out of reach.

Over coming weeks, I will be scoping out the development and operational challenges faced by organisations today, and looking at how these can be addressed. The answers may come from a direction we currently label with the term ‘DevOps’, but rest assured, even this is no more capable of being a magic bullet than the technology solutions that purport to deliver on the dream.

So, yes, watch this space. Also, if you have any insights you want to share, let me know. Perhaps, with some thought about what actually works across the variety of scenarios that exist, we can distil out ways for even the largest, most hampered organisations to improve on what they are doing right now, or to move beyond successful experiments into enterprise scale, yet efficient software delivery.

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AT&T and Aira announce global agreement to unlock IoT for good

By Zenobia Hegde

AT&T and Aira extend their agreement as Aira made AT&T its global data provider as it begins to take the service to Australia, Canada and the U.K. This comes at a meaningful time. Today marks the 7th Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD).

The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities. What better way to do that than with technology that empowers blind and low vision individuals?

“We chose GAAD to make this announcement because bringing accessibility to everyone forms the very core of Aira’s mission,” said Suman Kanuganti, CEO of Aira. “Working with AT&T to make our service available around the globe is the next step in using this technology to improve daily lives.”

The World Health Organisation estimates 253 million people live with impaired vision. For over a year, AT&T and Aira have worked together in the U.S. to help many of the blind and those with low vision complete daily tasks more easily.

Suman Kanuganti

Connected Aira glasses have also assisted with new challenges like starting college, running the Boston Marathon, and even experiencing the solar eclipse. Now, people around the world who are blind or have low vision can use smart glasses to access public transportation, navigate busy streets, shop in stores or recognise people, without another person to physically accompany them. It opens up a world of possibilities.

The AT&T global network connects Aira’s smart glasses, worn by blind and low vision users known as “Explorers,” to trained, professional agents. Agents use a built-for-purpose dashboard that provides details such as the Explorer’s location and profile, in combination with a secure, near real-time stream of video. At just the tap of a button, this information is provided to Explorers so they can perform almost any task.

“The combination of Aira’s groundbreaking assistive technology and our highly secure global wireless connectivity helps the user ‘see’ the world around them,” said Chris Penrose, president of IoT, AT&T. “That world just got bigger. This global expansion can bring the Aira platform to millions of individuals who can benefit from this service.”

Aira worked with the AT&T Foundry for Connected Health to improve the delivery of its groundbreaking platform.

Aira will begin to market its service in Australia and Canada this month and in the U.K. later this year. Learn more about the Aira service and how to subscribe at the AT&T Marketplace.

For more information about how AT&T is using IoT for Good, click here.

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G+D Mobile Security and IDnow GmbH partner to develop AI-driven biometric and security technologie

By Zenobia Hegde

G+D Mobile Security and IDnow GmbH have partnered to develop AI-driven biometric and security technologies. A first result of this co-operation is the development of a fully automatic remote identification solution for international markets.

G+D Ventures, the Corporate Venture unit of Giesecke+Devrient, took a minority stake in IDnow as part of a multi-million Euro investment to enable the acceleration of research and development and international expansion, thereby increasing the financing of the Munich-based growth company to over 10 million Euro.

Carsten Ahrens

The volume of the global market for the onboarding and management of digital identities is estimated at more than 10 billion Euro.

Digital identities are a key factor in creating confidence in the digital economy of the future: market developments such as the regulation in the finance sector, digitisation of business and e-government processes as well as ever increasing requirements with regard to data privacy and customer experiences will foster the need for new, global solutions to ensure the simple, secure and reliable management of digital identities.

Giesecke+Devrient, a global leader in security solutions, and IDnow as a provider of leading technology in online services now co-operate to address the global market for secure digital identification.

“We are pleased that Giesecke+Devrient places its trust in us and that we will jointly provide biometric and AI-based products for digital identification. With its global presence and expertise, G+D is the ideal partner for IDnow. We set the highest value on the reliability and efficiency of our products, combined with a superior customer experience,” said IDnow CEO Rupert Spiegelberg.

“In our focus markets payment and connectivity, the secure management of identities is key to creating customer confidence. A great digital customer journey starts with secure and convenient onboarding. We are very excited to partner with IDnow to complete our offering for secure remote identification,” says Carsten Ahrens, CEO of G+D Mobile Security. “In our partnership we are combining G+D’s global expertise with IDnow’s leading edge identity platform. And we are moving fast – in fact, the first joint customer projects have already been launched.”

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‘Cost-efficient’ 3D surround view system for mass-produced vehicles launched by Renesas and Magna

By Zenobia Hegde

Renesas Electronics Corporation, a supplier of automotive semiconductor solutions, and Magna, a mobility technology company and an automotive supplier, aim to accelerate the mass adoption of advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) features with a new cost-efficient 3D surround view system designed for entry- and mid-range vehicles.

The 3D surround viewsystem adopts Renesas’ high-performance, low-power system-on-chip (SoC) optimised for smart camera and surround view systems. By enabling 3D surround view safety capabilities, the new system helps automakers to deliver safer and more advanced vehicles to a larger number of car consumers, contributing to a safer vehicle society.

Shinichi Yoshioka

Magna’s 3D surround view system is a vehicle camera system that provides a 360-degree panoramic view to assist drivers when parking or performing low speed operations. Drivers can adjust the view of their surroundings with a simple-to-use interface, while object detection alerts drivers about obstacles in their path. The system provides drivers a realistic 360-degree view of their environment, a significant upgrade to the bird’s-eye view offered by existing parking assist systems.

The innovative, ready-to-use system minimises integration time and development costs, making the system an easy, cost-efficient option for automakers.

Several automakers have already expressed strong interest in the technology, including a European automaker, which will be the first to integrate the 3D surround view system into a future vehicle.

Kelei Shen

“Automated driving systems require scalability to address the wide range of requirements of car consumers,” said Shinichi Yoshioka, senior vice president and deputy general manager, Automotive Solution Business Unit, Renesas Electronics Corporation. “The collaboration, combining our best-in-class automotive semiconductor expertise, and Magna’s world-class automotive system innovation is an important step in delivering cost efficient 3D surround view system across vehicle classes, bringing valuable safety features to diverse price ranges.”

“The collaboration with Renesas is a great example of how companies can jointly develop and deliver a greater number of optimised, cost-effective semi-autonomous features to a variety of different vehicle segments,” said Kelei Shen, president of Magna Electronics. “By combining our strengths we will be able to put advanced driver assistance and safety technology into more vehicles and to more drivers.”

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Pilot projects are helping to establish safety and reliability for unmanned vehicles industry

By Zenobia Hegde

A new report from Navigant Research examines unmanned vehicle (UV) technology in the areas of agriculture, logistics, asset inspection, emergency management, and insurance, providing insight on the current and future regulatory environment.

More industries are looking to UVs to collect visual information and carry out complex tasks as a safer, cheaper, and more reliable alternative to incumbent solutions. Although the majority of today’s UV use cases are for asset inspection, aerial imaging, and agricultural operations, improving technologies will be revolutionary for newer applications that take advantage of beyond visual line of sight and autonomous operations.

“Regulation has an important role in ensuring safety and protection of the public good as these new technology solutions are trialed and rolled out commercially,” says William Drier, research associate with Navigant Research. “However, varying regulatory structures can also limit what kinds of applications can be deployed, particularly for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).”

To succeed in this market, Navigant Research recommends companies identify a true value proposition over current solutions. Developers should prioritise specialised solutions for automating tasks, and be conscious that demonstrating safety and reliability will be key to the evolution of regulation and market growth, according to the report.

The report, Capturing New Commercial Opportunities with Unmanned Vehicles, analyses the increasing prevalence and advancement of UV technology in agriculture, logistics, asset inspection, emergency management, and insurance, as well as how upcoming changes will affect the growth of the market.

The study provides commentary on the current regulatory environment and how Navigant Research envisions the future of these regulations and their impact on the UV market. It also identifies opportunities for stakeholders to focus on and what lies ahead to both be better adapted in the current market environment and facilitate the adoption of commercial UV operations.

An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

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