Blockchain in Government?

We’ve already touched on what blockchain is and how its technology is being explored in all regions of business. But what about government? The blockchain’s value lies in its ability to allow data to be more transparent yet at the same time, more secure than ever. Data accessibility has become a priority for government at all levels and with recent hacks and data integrity in question, this should and I think, will, become top priority.

Blockchains vary in how they are implemented, how they are secured, who can access them, and how they interface with other data technologies. These are each critical design details with implications for local governments. Transparency has been a keyword in the media as of late when it comes to government, their procedures, decisions etc, and below are some real ways blockchain technology can assist governments around the world achieve this transparency while remaining secure.

  • Transparent record keeping and public archives
  • Fraud-free voting
  • Distributed, tamper-free registries
  • Smart contract administration
  • Grant distribution and tracking
  • Distributed decision-making

Blockchain technology is transforming our future, allowing us to trust more and create a “sharing economy”. Only time will tell if and when governments will accept this new technology and how it will be implemented to better decisions and developments of the world around us. Learn more about how blockchain can help enterprises, ecosystems and economies here.

Latest news in IBM Cloud Object Storage

Yesterday IBM announced 2 new additions to the IBM Cloud Object Storage Family. These latest additions will provide clients with new archival data choices as well as a new pricing models to allow clients to access analytics and cognitive tools easier. In the past businesses would normally have to manage across 3 different types of data workloads: frequently accessed/used, infrequently accessed, and archival data. Infrequently and archival data are typically stored on cheaper, slower The first addition, IBM Cloud Object Storage Flex, will be a pay as you go model of storage tiers . Flex will offer simplified pricing for clients whose data usage patterns are difficult to predict. Flex enables clients to benefit from the cost savings of cold storage for rarely accessed data, while maintaining high accessibility to all data.

Additionally, the IBM Cloud Object Storage Cold Vault  service will give clients access to cold storage or archival data on the IBM Cloud and is designed to lead the category for cold data recovery times among major competitor

“Clients need faster access to more of their data to become cognitive businesses with a deep understanding of markets and customer needs,” said John Morris, general manager, IBM Cloud Object Storage. “IBM’s new cloud storage services and innovative pricing model provides clients an efficient and less expensive way to act on insights from unpredictable data patterns.”

See why this is a game changer and how IBM’s new pricing stands up to competitors here.

IBM TS7700

Technology is ever changing but one thing that remains the same is the need to be able to keep data safe. With today’s essential need to be up and running 24/7, any bit of downtime can cause astronomical damage to your business whether it be in sales, customer confidence or noncompliance from government regulations. Organizations must have proven business continuity strategies and technologies to successfully be able to address risk, availability and security challenges. This is where the IBM TS7700 comes in.

TS7700 virtual tape systems

  • Fully integrated tiered storage hierarchy of disk and tape
  • Cost effective
  • Allows you to Leverage benefits of virtualization
  • Varity of grid configurations to meet specific requirements for high availability, disaster recovery and data retention
  • Help ensure business continuity with advanced features designed to meet today’s disaster planning and data availability challenges in public, private and hybrid cloud infrastructures
  • Help meet service level agreements by allowing delivery of real-time information and insight from data
  • Facilitate maintenance and system upgrade planning by helping to ensure uninterrupted services for business critical applications
  • Simplify IBM® z Systems®- connected tape operations and improve batch window performance

In such an aggressive marketplace, data availability and business continuity offer a vital competitive edge that is key to business success. To learn more, click here.

Converged vs. Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Hyperconverged/Converged infrastructures are changing IT environments and the way they are managed around the globe. Do you currently have a hydperconverged infrastructure at your work place? How about a converged system? Do you know the difference between the two?

In a hyperconverged infrastructure, systems are tightly integrated. Storage, computing, networking and virtualization are all in one hardware box supported by a single vendor. This unit takes less time to configure and gives you more flexibility when it comes to choosing hardware and the deployment/management of VMs. The hyperconverged infrastructure is a software defined system which means its run and centrally managed.

Hyper converged -infrastructure

In a converged infrastructure servers, storage and networking switches come together in a stack as a turn-key solution. The product is typically pre-configured for a certain workload but does not adapt as well to workload changes. Typically, within this converged infrastructure every appliance needs to also be managed separately.

converged-infrastructure-2

There are many advantages to both and since there is no “one size fits all” solution, each company should look for the best infrastructure to fit their unique needs.

Converged:  Converged infrastructures are ideal for companies that need a lot of control over each element in their IT infrastructure, as each element can be “fine-tuned” individually. They may also be a good fit for large enterprises who are replacing their entire infrastructure, as they do not need to browse the market and purchase every component separately.

Hyperconverged: Small and medium enterprises which require a cost-effective, flexible and agile infrastructure that can be managed by 1-2 IT people. They are simple to manage allowing your IT staff to focus on other parts of the business. They can also reduce costs and increase efficiency due to the lower costs of purchasing and management as well as faster deployment of new infrastructure.

Our 2 cents –If  you require the performance and control of a traditional infrastructure but are starting from scratch (replacing your entire infrastructure) then go with a converged system. This will save you not only on costs but also the frustration of purchasing each piece separately. If your business needs fast deployment and quick access to resources while also keeping your overall IT budget low,  then a hyper-converged infrastructure is the best for you. Want to dig a bit deeper to see how your specific environment could benefit?  click here.

Blockchain

A new technology is becoming widely spread, and it was first introduced as the backbone of Bitcoin technology. Since then, numerous companies, investors and even governments have identified Blockchain as a revolutionary technology.

So what is blockchain?

A blockchain can be defined as “a digital, chronologically updated, distributed and cryptographically sealed record, of all data transfer activity. It may be thought of as a cloud-based ledger that is shared among a network of users (the “participants”), recording all data being transferred between them. This record displays all the information related to the data, while at the same time allowing the identity of the involved participants to remain confidential. The record can be viewed by all participants, but updates can only be made after being agreed upon by a majority of participants. Furthermore, once the data is entered into the record it can no longer be deleted.”

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What are the most important benefits & challenges associated with the implementation of blockchain technology?

9 benefits of blockchain technology

  1. Disintermediation & trustless exchange Two parties are able to make an exchange without the oversight or intermediation of a third party, strongly reducing or even eliminating counterparty risk.
  2. Empowered users Users are in control of all their information and transactions.
  3. High quality data Blockchain data is complete, consistent, timely, accurate, and widely available.
  4. Durability, reliability, and longevity Due to the decentralized networks, blockchain does not have a central point of failure and is better able to withstand malicious attacks.
  5. Process integrity Users can trust that transactions will be executed exactly as the protocol commands removing the need for a trusted third party.
  6. Transparency and immutability Changes to public blockchains are publicly viewable by all parties creating transparency, and all transactions are immutable, meaning they cannot be altered or deleted.
  7. Ecosystem simplification With all transactions being added to a single public ledger, it reduces the clutter and complications of multiple ledgers.
  8. Faster transactions Interbank transactions can potentially take days for clearing and final settlement, especially outside of working hours. Blockchain transactions can reduce transaction times to minutes and are processed 24/7.
  9. Lower transaction costs  By eliminating third party intermediaries and overhead costs for exchanging assets, blockchains have the potential to greatly reduce transaction fees.

7 challenges of blockchain technology

  1. Nascent technology Resolving challenges such as transaction speed, the verification process, and data limits will be crucial in making blockchain widely applicable.
  2. Uncertain regulatory status Because modern currencies have always been created and regulated by national governments, blockchain and Bitcoin face a hurdle in widespread adoption by pre-existing financial institutions if its government regulation status remains unsettled.
  3. Large energy consumption The Bitcoin blockchain network’s miners are attempting 450 thousand trillion solutions per second in efforts to validate transactions, using substantial amounts of computer power.
  4. Control, security, and privacy While solutions exist, including private or permissioned blockchains and strong encryption, there are still cyber security concerns that need to be addressed before the general public will entrust their personal data to a blockchain solution.
  5. Integration concerns Blockchain applications offer solutions that require significant changes to, or complete replacement of, existing systems. In order to make the switch, companies must strategize the transition.
  6. Cultural adoption Blockchain represents a complete shift to a decentralized network which requires the buy-in of its users and operators.
  7. Cost Blockchain offers tremendous savings in transaction costs and time but the high initial capital costs could be a deterrent.

So why is it important? Blockchain technology ensures detailed visibility to all participants.No one party can modify or delet any record without approval from others on the network. This level of transparency helps reduce fraud and errors, ultimately improving workflow. What to learn more? Try Blockchain on IBM’s Bluemix for free!

AI? or IA?

Is it artificial intelligence? Or augmented intelligence? Does it matter? Are they interchangeable or completely different?

Today’s experts would like AI to be rearranged to represent “Augmented Intelligence” and the difference between the two be publicly known, but why? Augmented Intelligence is the main focus of today’s technology. When focusing on augmented intelligence, we are working at enhancing or augmenting human capabilities rather than replicating and surpassing human intelligence all together. In simpler terms, we are trying to enhance human capabilities, rather than replace them.

AI, artificial intelligence, in its true “surpassing human intelligence” form, is something most people are a bit afraid of. Even tech leaders like Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking warned against the development of true artificial intelligence. The thought that if successfully done, means machines would be able to “think” on their own causes great panic not only in experts’ eyes but also the public’s. Two of our biggest dears with artificial intelligence is job loss, since machines would essentially be able to accomplish all work previously done by humans, faster and more efficiently. And artificial intelligence in weaponry – we’ve all seen those sci-fi movies, they tend to get a bit messy.

augmented-intelligence

So the rearranging of the letters from AI to IA – to represent “Intelligence Augmentation”, experts think will help differentiate the two since the abbreviations are being used frequently not only in the Tech world but also everyday life. Everything from Amazon’s Alexa assisting you at home to IBM’s Watson assisting doctors diagnose patients, rely on augmented intelligence and experts want the public to except these advances rather than fear them.

Establishing the difference between the two now will make a world of difference as we approach decades to come. Interested in creating your own cognitive solution using augmented intelligence? Check out IBM’s competition here or to learn more about Augmented Intelligence and how it could assist your business click here .

IBM Spectrum Storage

Tired of managing all your storage devices and services from different vendors separately? Want to get the management under control, save some money and future proof your backup to new technologies? IBM Spectrum Storage can do just that. With IBM Spectrum Storage it can provide your business with centrally managed data across more than 300 different storage devices. It will allow you to manage your data without any service interruptions and also show automatically place files in the appropriate locations based on its usage.

IBM Spectrum Storage allows you to manage different types of data and storage services and also provides you with a consolidated review and analysis of all your assets. When you combine IBM Spectrum Storage with IBM spectrum virtualize and IBM Spectrum control Analytics software powered by IBM research, you will be able to scan your entire environment and reclaim unused capacity as well as determine the best location for your data file based on used and migrate this file automatically.

IBM Spectrum Protect, part of IBM Spectrum Storage, is a data protection tool that safe guards all your data within your system . No matter if its static, real time , structured, unstructured, on premise and in the cloud, IBM Spectrum Protect will keep it safe. Spectrum protect also helps create less data for you to manage and faster restoration time with incremental forever backup that only creates a backup of new and changed data as well as built in deduplication  that eliminates duplicate copies of repeated data.

Simplify the management of all your devices and services, whether on the cloud or on premise with IBM Spectrum Storage. Click here to learn more or email us with any questions you may have at sales@metrotsg.com.