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The challenges of hybrid cloud adoption find answers in HCI

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The challenges of hybrid cloud adoption find answers in HCI


Christine McMonigal is director of hyperconverged marketing at Intel Corporation.

Never before has the need for businesses to make progress along their digital journeys been more pressing—with more options to evaluate, urgencies to respond to, and complexities to understand in a complex landscape. Shifting demands, fueled in part by the covid-19 pandemic, have driven the need for businesses to make the leap to digitization at a pace never seen before. IDC estimates that as early as 2022, 46% of enterprise products and services will be digitally delivered, creating pressure on companies to pursue new ways of expediting digital transformation. Forward-thinking leaders have started this journey, ushering in a massive migration to the cloud, which serves as the heartbeat of digital transformation and establishes the foundation for future innovation.

But if digital transformation were easy, then every organization would be doing it. Instead, three common challenges occur and can often stand in the way of an organization’s progress:

Multiple cloud architectures. Apps and data continue to increase and reside in diverse clouds. Managing them to provide reduced latency, availability, and data sovereignty remains a complex undertaking.

Balancing old with new. In some cases, the urgent and rapid migration to the cloud has been costly. Applications or workloads that were moved to the cloud may have been better suited in a local environment. Businesses need more flexibility to update their legacy apps to become cloud-native over time. Simultaneously, on-premises infrastructure needs to be modernized to make it more performant, scalable, and efficient—in effect, to make it more cloud-like.

Security. The modern workforce is more decentralized, increasing the attack surface for organizations. This requires a new and dynamic security strategy that is holistic.

So, what’s the answer for enterprises to tackle these challenges? A pragmatic foundation for a modern digital infrastructure is hybrid cloud. It optimizes application deployments across locations, providing the ultimate level of agility based on changing business requirements. The on-premises side of hybrid cloud is best deployed via hyperconverged infrastructure, or HCI, which enables modernization that eases the transition by blending old and new.

By fusing virtualized compute and storage resources together with intelligent software on standard server hardware, this approach creates flexible building blocks intended to replace or optimize legacy infrastructure while providing greater agility. With this approach, many parts are brought together to offer a version of cloud infrastructure that features dynamic scalability and simplified operations.

Achieving agility through hybrid cloud

Delivering high levels of performance is a requirement for IT environments that rely on mission-critical databases and latency-sensitive applications. This is especially important in dynamic environments where data growth is constant and continuous access is a requirement, often compounded by demand for new analyses and insights. The ability to easily meet these performance and scalability requirements is essential for any business deploying hyperconverged infrastructures.  

Microsoft and Intel are working together to take the best of software and combine it with the best of hardware technologies to provide organizations with a flexible infrastructure that can handle today’s demands with agility and set the pace for digital transformation.

Flexibility coupled with seamless management

Solving for the challenge of navigating and streamlining multiple cloud architectures requires a control plane that offers simplified management of both on-premises and public cloud-based resources. The hybrid offering available via Azure Stack HCI (delivered as a service) provides a comprehensive answer for this challenge. With Azure Stack HCI and integrated services such as Azure Arc, you can easily manage and govern on-premises resources, together with Azure public cloud resources, from a single control plane.

Any viable hybrid cloud offering needs to decrease complexity through simplified management, while increasing agility, scalability, and performance. You can maintain existing operations and scale at a pace that best suits your requirements with optimized on-premises hardware and legacy functionality and improved workload virtualization. Azure Stack HCI effectivelybalances old with new, supporting on-premises operations evolution to become part of your cloud operating model, from the core data center to the edge and the cloud.

Seamless management also includes maintaining a holistic and comprehensive security posture so that associated risks can be managed without sacrificing effectiveness. As computing complexity increases across the data center, edge, and cloud, it can increase those risks if not addressed. Security must go hand in hand with digital transformation. Intel and Microsoft are leading the way with a trusted foundation, from the software down to the silicon layer. We’ll soon be announcing multiple new technologies to secure data at rest and in use, and we’ll dive deeper on data protection and compliance in the next article in this series.

A hardware foundation to handle the digitization of everything

As we continue to see increased reliance on analytics tools and AI for data insights to manage operations and customer touchpoints, the importance of semiconductors continues to grow. This digital surge is increasing the demands for more compute power—suddenly, an organization’s infrastructure has evolved from tactical to the epicenter of new strategic business opportunities.

Creating a hardware infrastructure that flexes with business demands is one of the keys to unlocking the potential of an agile hybrid cloud that can move workloads across different environments with speed and ease. Intel’s mission is to provide the best technology foundation with built-in capabilities across performance, AI, and security that unleashes new business opportunities today and in the future. At the center of this foundation are 3rd Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors.

Intel and Microsoft are working together to reduce the time required to evaluate, select, and purchase, streamlining the time to deploy new infrastructure by using technologies that are fully integrated, tested, and ready to perform. As evidence of this, Microsoft and Intel recently battle-tested Azure Stack HCI on the latest Intel technologies, showcasing 2.62 million SQL Server new orders per minute, one of the most popular workloads among enterprises. These optimized configurations are available as Intel® Select Solutions for Azure Stack HCI from multiple server OEM and scale partners. 

Serving the needs of dynamic IT environments

It has never been a more dynamic time for businesses; the time to embrace hybrid cloud is now. Azure Stack HCI is charting a new and easy path to hybrid, with Intel as the technology foundation to modernize and turn infrastructure into strategic advantage.

If you’re ready to optimize manageability, performance, and costs while integrating on-premises data center and edge infrastructures into your hybrid and multi-cloud environment, learn more about Azure Stack HCI today.

Check out the latest Intel-based Azure Stack HCI systems and continuous innovation on Azure.com/HCI. While there, download the software, which Microsoft has made available for a 60-day free trial.

This content was produced by Microsoft Azure and Intel. It was not written by MIT Technology Review’s editorial staff.

Tech

The Download: a curb on climate action, and post-Roe period tracking

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The US Supreme Court just gutted federal climate policy


Why’s it so controversial?: Geoengineering was long a taboo topic among scientists, and some argue it should remain one. There are questions about its potential environmental side effects, and concerns that the impacts will be felt unevenly across the globe. Some feel it’s too dangerous to ever try or even to investigate, arguing that just talking about the possibility could weaken the need to address the underlying causes of climate change.

But it’s going ahead?: Despite the concerns, as the threat of climate change grows and major nations fail to make rapid progress on emissions, growing numbers of experts are seriously exploring the potential effects of these approaches. Read the full story.

—James Temple

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The belief that AI is alive refuses to die
People want to believe the models are sentient, even when their creators deny it. (Reuters)
+ It’s unsurprising wild religious beliefs find a home in Silicon Valley. (Vox)
+ AI systems are being trained twice as quickly as they were just last year. (Spectrum IEEE)

2 The FBI added the missing cryptoqueen to its most-wanted list
It’s offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to Ruja Ignatova, whose crypto scheme defrauded victims out of more than $4 billion. (BBC)
+ A new documentary on the crypto Ponzi scheme is in the works. (Variety)

3 Social media platforms turn a blind eye to dodgy telehealth ads
Which has played a part in the prescription drugs abuse boom. (Protocol)
+ The doctor will Zoom you now. (MIT Technology Review)

4 We’re addicted to China’s lithium batteries
Which isn’t great news for other countries building electric cars. (Wired $)
+ This battery uses a new anode that lasts 20 times longer than lithium. (Spectrum IEEE)
+ Quantum batteries could, in theory, allow us to drive a million miles between charges. (The Next Web)

5 Far-right extremists are communicating over radio to avoid detection
Making it harder to monitor them and their violent activities. (Slate $)
+ Many of the rioters who stormed the Capitol were carrying radio equipment. (The Guardian)

6 Bro culture has no place in space 🚀
So says NASA’s former deputy administrator, who’s sick and tired of misogyny in the sector. (CNN)

7 A US crypto exchange is gaining traction in Venezuela
It’s helping its growing community battle hyperinflation, but isn’t as decentralized as they believe it to be. (Rest of World)
+ The vast majority of NFT players won’t be around in a decade. (Vox)
+ Exchange Coinbase is working with ICE to track and identify crypto users. (The Intercept)
+ If RadioShack’s edgy tweets shock you, don’t forget it’s a crypto firm now. (NY Mag)

8 It’s time we learned to love our swamps
Draining them prevents them from absorbing CO2 and filtering out our waste. (New Yorker $)
+ The architect making friends with flooding. (MIT Technology Review) 

9 Robots love drawing too 🖍️
Though I’ll bet they don’t get as frustrated as we do when they mess up. (Input)

10 The risky world of teenage brains
Making potentially dangerous decisions is an important part of adolescence, and our brains reflect that. (Knowable Magazine)

Quote of the day

“They shamelessly celebrate an all-inclusive pool party while we can’t even pay our rent!”

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The US government is developing a solar geoengineering research plan

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The US government is developing a solar geoengineering research plan


The move, which has not been previously reported on, marks the first federally coordinated US effort of this kind. It could set the stage for more funding and research into the feasibility, benefits, and risks of such interventions. The effort may also contribute to the perception that geoengineering is an appropriate and important area of research as global temperatures rise.

Solar geoengineering encompasses a range of different approaches. The one that’s gained the most attention is using planes or balloons to disperse tiny particles in the stratosphere. These would then—in theory—reflect back enough sunlight to ease warming, mimicking the effect of massive volcanic eruptions in the past. Some research groups have also explored whether releasing certain particles could break up cirrus clouds, which trap heat against the Earth, or make low-lying marine clouds more reflective.

The 2022 federal appropriations act, signed by President Biden in March, directs his Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a cross-agency group to coordinate research on such climate interventions, in partnership with NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Department of Energy. 

The measure calls for the group to create a research framework to “provide guidance on transparency, engagement, and risk management for publicly funded work in solar geoengineering research.” Specifically, it directs NOAA to support the Office of Science and Technology Policy in developing a five-year plan that will, among other things, define research goals for the field, assess the potential hazards of such climate interventions, and evaluate the level of federal investments required to carry out that work. 

Geoengineering was long a taboo topic among scientists, and some argue it should remain one. There are questions about potential environmental side effects, and concerns that the impacts will be felt unevenly in different parts of the globe. It’s not clear how the world will grapple with tricky questions regarding global governance, including who should make decisions about whether to deploy such powerful tools and what global average temperatures we should aim for. Some feel that geoengineering is too dangerous to ever try or even to investigate, arguing that just talking about the possibility could make the need to address the underlying causes of climate change feel less urgent.

But as the threat of climate change grows and major nations fail to make rapid progress on emissions, more researchers, universities, and nations are seriously exploring the potential effects of these approaches. A handful of prominent scientific groups, in turn, have called for stricter standards to guide that work, more money to do it, or both. That includes the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which last year recommended setting up a US solar geoengineering research program with an initial investment of $100 million to $200 million over five years. 

Proponents of geoengineering research, while stressing that cutting emissions must remain the highest priority, say we should explore these possibilities because they may meaningfully reduce the dangers of climate change. They note that as heat waves, droughts, famines, wildfires, and other extreme events become more common or severe, these sorts of climate interventions may be among the few means available to rapidly ease widespread human suffering or ecological calamities. 

Setting standards

In a statement, the Office of Science and Technology Policy confirmed that it has created an interagency working group, as called for under the federal funding bill. It includes representatives of 10 research and mission agencies, including NOAA, NASA, and the Department of Energy.  

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How to track your period safely post-Roe

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How to track your period safely post-Roe


Why use a period tracker?

Stress or dietary changes, among other factors, can make periods irregular and unpredictable. Tracking them can help expose underlying health issues, such as fibroids, which are noncancerous uterine growths. It can also help people spot patterns in mood and energy, which can often be affected by ovulation. People trying to get pregnant often use period trackers to figure out when they’re most fertile. 

So why are people panicking?

The overturning of Roe v. Wade in the US triggered laws that made abortion illegal in 13 states, and more states are likely to ban abortion in the coming months. In states that have banned abortions, people could now be prosecuted if they are alleged to have had one. The worry is that their digital data footprint could be used to build such a case. Missing your period is not a crime, but evidence of it could be subpoenaed and used to bolster a case against someone suspected of an abortion. 

What do companies that make period-tracking apps have to say about this?

We reached out to some of the major period-tracking apps—Flo, Clue, and SpotOn (an app from Planned Parenthood)—for comment on what their privacy settings are and whether they would turn information over to authorities in states where abortion is illegal. Clue and SpotOn did not respond, though Clue stated on Twitter that because it is based in the European Union, it is not permitted to share data with authorities in the US: 

“We would have a primary legal duty under European law not to disclose any private health data. We repeat: we would not respond to any disclosure request or attempted subpoena of our users’ health data by US authorities. But we would let you and the world know if they tried.”

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