Turbo Todd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

What’s Up, Cyber Monday?

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Happy Monday, and to those of you here in the U.S., welcome back to your post-long-holiday-weekend harsh reality wake-up call.

If you’ve been hiding under a Plymouth-like rock or are still trying to recuperate from your tryptophan daze, let me share with you some of the latest data and predictions for what we’ve all come to knowingly and lovingly refer to “Cyber Monday.”

IBM’s Watson Trends technology is predicting that online sales today are going to grow more than 18 percent than what they were last year, and that much of this surge is (obviously?) being driven by mobile shopping (both smartphones and tablets).

If you’re curious to know more about what product tires folks are kicking around, I won’t hold you in suspense, lest the tryptophan make a resurgence.

First, TVs are big. Big big big. Consumers are looking at TVs by Samsung, Sony, and LG, and Samsung seems to be the most heavily inquired about, and Watson Trends suggests Samsung owners are especially pleased with their purchases.

Many have said it’s “…the best TV I have ever owned” and give them high praise for both the picture quality and the sound. The latest “buzz” is their increasingly affordability of the 4K models. (Full Disclosure: I bought a new Samsung big screen last year, and I’m still very happy a full with mine a full year on.)

The Apple Watch continues to be at the top of many holiday shopping lists, as wells the Beats by Dre headphones.

Here are a few others hot items, with some brief color on each:

  • Nike Shoes: Watson discovered consumers are flocking to brands that offer “barefoot running” or “natural running” shoes marketed to help prevent injury. Watson found that Nike shoe owners in particular are talking about Nike’s Free, the Air Max and Flyknit Racing Shoes, which offer color, design and versatility as both athletic and casual footwear.
  • Skylanders: Skylanders has helped drive the toys-to-life video game movement, where physical and virtual worlds merge. According to Watson, excitement around the latest version is less about new characters or vehicles, but the ability to play the game on multiple screens. Ironically, parents are also drawn to the game because many children choose to turn off the screen and play with Skylanders action figures.
  • Star Wars Droids: Star Wars mania extends beyond Legos. Watson has identified growing excitement around the new R2-D2 Astromech Interactive Droid that walks, spins, and turns its head realistically. According to Watson, R2D2 is being hailed by many as the perfect gift for Star Wars fans. Watson has also identified buzz around the pricier BB-8 that responds to human voice-commands and shows and records holographic videos.
  • Hoverboard: Hoverboards bring consumers one step closer to the fictional product that debuted in the 1985 film Back to the Future. Watson finds that conversations around these single-wheeled self-balancing scooters are driven by high-profile celebrities like Wiz Khalifa and Usain Bolt. Called the Razor scooter of the 2010s, Watson finds that Hoverboards are popular amongst tech-lovers and boarders of all ages.

IBM has also identified the fastest trending products for Cyber Monday These are based on impact (size of the conversation) and momentum (the rate of growth of the conversation):

  • Nintendo 3DS XL
  • Brother Printers
  • EPSON Printers
  • JBL Speakers
  • Motorola Moto X Cell Phone

In addition to popular products and trends, IBM also reports that the weekend leading up to Cyber Monday has set the stage for strong online sales today. IBM Watson Trend identified the following shopping insights from this past Saturday and Sunday:

  • Online Sales on the Rise: Online sales for the weekend were up 25.5 percent over the same weekend in 2014.
  • Consumers Cash in on Weekend Deals: The average order value for the mobile and desktop shopper combined for the weekend were $130.57, up 5.5 percent over 2014.
  • Tablets Out Spend Desktops: Tablets average order value of $140.70 exceeded that of desktops, which ended the day at $138.30. Smartphone shoppers spent $111.29 per order, an increase of 6.1 percent over 2014.
  • Smartphones Shoppers Dominate: Smartphones remained the shopper’s device of choice. Smartphones accounted for 44 percent of all online traffic, more than three times that of tablets at 14.1 percent. Smartphones surpassed tablets in sales, driving 18.6 percent of online sales (up 65.7 percent over 2014) versus tablets at 17.7 percent.

BM Watson Trend leverages natural language and machine learning technologies to uncover consumer preferences, pinpoint patterns and trends and reveal why people are choosing certain products or brands. IBM Watson Trend also features predictive analytics that allow it to forecast if a particular trend is a fleeting fad or will continue to remain strong.

To learn more about IBM Watson Trend and to download the app please click here, and for a real-time look at how consumers are shopping across the desktop, tablets and smartphones please click here.

All I Want For Christmas…

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Good morning, and happy Post Turkey Day.

It’s awfully cold and quiet here in Austin for the back-end of the holiday weekend, but that’s not so quiet in cyberspace, where holiday sales have commenced with great momentum (perhaps in order to avoid those nasty big box store rugby scrums?)

TechCrunch reports that the first two days of the holiday sales period netted some $4.45 billion in U.S. Online purchases, and that mobile devices (notably smartphones) accounted for a record $1.5 billion of that amount.

IBM’s Holiday Trends data indicated the number of people buying goods online and by mobile during the holiday season was up 26% compared to a year ago, with tablets still outpacing smartphones in average price per order ($140 and $117, respectively).

And we’re not even to Cyber Monday yet, the mobile impact on which will likely be more significant than ever.

If you’re doing a little holiday shopping yourself, and perhaps looking for some stocking stuffers, Raspberry Pi’s new “Pi Zero” might be a good choice. The $5 computer comes with 512MB RAM and a 40% faster processor than Raspberry Pi 1. There are cups of coffee at Starbucks that cost more than this computer. And just like ye olden days of Kris Kringle, you’ll have to gather a few elves to put the thing together before you can put it under the tree (that is, if you can even find one…these Pi’s are flying off the shelves!)

Whether you’re using your smartphone to shop for Star Wars Legos, or your new Pi for your latest IoT DIY project, for the time being you won’t have to worry about the U.S. National Security Agency watching over your iPhone’s shoulder while calling home during the holidays.

As of 11:59 P.M EST last night, the NSA was by law forced to end its daily Hoovering of millions of Americans’ phone records. The move comes in response to the so-called “Freedom Act,” passed six months ago by the U.S. Congress, whereby law enforcement and the NSA can no longer collect bulk telephone records to analyze metadata (who called who, when, etc.).

The NSA and law enforcement officials will now have to get a court order to request that telcos enable monitoring of call records of specific people or groups for up to six months in order to conduct similar analysis.

The U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure, back in action and pret a porter, just in time for the 2015 holiday shopping season!

Happy Snooping….err, Shopping, everyone

IBM’s Watson Predicts the Top Products and Trends for Black Friday

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IBM predicts online sales will grow by more than 14.5 percent over 2014.

Led by mobile shopping, consumers indicate the Apple Watch, Samsung, Sony and LG TVs, Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and more are at the top of their shopping lists, according to the IBM Watson Trend App.

Available for free download in the Apple App Store, IBM Watson Trend features the hottest 100 consumer electronics, toys and health and fitness products at any given time.

For Black Friday IBM has identified additional popular products and the stories behind them:

  • Beats by Dre: Beats headphones, earbuds, and speakers have been wildly popular since first appearing in 2008. Watson finds growing chatter around the Beats Solo2 Wired On-Ear headphones as well as the release of Dr. Dre’s unheard tracks on Apple’s Beats 1 streaming music channel. Additional trending headphones include Sennheiser, Bose, Skullcandy and Sure.
  • Jordan Shoes: Known best for its original Air Jordan line of basketball sneakers, Jordan Brand has released a new line of performance running shoes. Watson finds that the line is being lauded for both their aesthetics and foot support and is gaining popularity among consumers who sported the original sneakers in the 1990s.
  • Nintendo Super Smash Bros: Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros for Wii U is generating significant buzz and Watson knows why. While the game features popular Nintendo characters such as Mario, Donkey Kong and Pokémon, it’s the “unprecedented” addition of Final Fantasy’s Cloud Strife that has gamers buzzing with excitement.
  • MeccaNoid Personal Robots: Personal robots including those from Star Wars are popular this year but many parents are also looking to more “edutainment” focused gifts. Watson reports that many parents are looking at MeccaNoid, which teaches kids from ages 8 to 12 how to create, learn and code so they can ultimately build their own robot.

IBM has also identified the fastest trending products. These are based on the impact (size of the conversation) and the momentum (the rate of growth of the conversation):

  • Toshiba Satellite Laptops
  • Disney Princess Legos
  • NordicTrack Treadmills
  • Klipsch Speakers
  • Asus Zenbook Laptop

IBM Watson Trend not only reports on what products are popular and why but how consumers are shopping. According to IBM, mobile led the way for early-Black Friday shoppers who are spending more money on gifts this year than in 2014. IBM Watson Trend identified the following Thanksgiving Day shopping insights:

  • Consumer Spending Remains Strong: Online sales for Thanksgiving were up 26 percent over the same day in 2014, with consumers spending $123.45 per order.
  • Mobile Shopping Sets New Records: Mobile traffic reached nearly 60 percent of all online traffic, an increase of 14.8 percent over 2014. Mobile sales also grew, with 40 percent of all online sales coming from mobile devices, an increase of 23.8 percent over Thanksgiving Day 2014.
  • Smartphone Shoppers Dominate: Smartphones were the Thanksgiving shopper’s device of choice, accounting for 46.7 percent of all online traffic versus tablets at 13.7 percent. Smartphones also surpassed tablets in sales, driving 23.9 percent of online sales versus tablets at 16.1 percent.

IBM Watson Trend leverages natural language and machine learning technologies to uncover consumer preferences, pinpoint patterns and trends and reveal why people are choosing certain products or brands. IBM Watson Trend also features predictive analytics that allow it to forecast if a particular trend is a fleeting fad or will continue to remain strong.

To learn more about IBM Watson Trend and to download the app please click here. For a real-time look at how consumers are shopping across the desktop, tablets and smartphones please click here.

Written by TurboTodd

November 27th, 2015 at 2:21 pm

New IBM Cloud Service Enables Developers to Rapidly Translate Apps into Nine Languages

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IBM today announced a new cloud-based service that enables developers to automatically translate cloud and mobile apps into the world’s most-spoken languages.

IBM Globalization Pipeline, now available in beta on Bluemix, IBM’s Cloud platform, rapidly opens up new global markets to companies without requiring them to rebuild or redeploy their apps.

The beta version will support English as the base language and nine additional languages including: French, German, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Korean.

Consumers in today’s globalized, digital marketplace expect a user experience that can be easily tailored to their unique needs, including their preferred language.

A 2014 survey by Common Sense Advisory of more than 3,000 consumers in 10 non-English speaking countries spanning Europe, Asia, and South America shows that 75 percent prefer to buy products in their native language.

Sixty percent rarely or never buy from English-only websites. For retailers and companies with consumer-facing apps, this service helps meet the criteria for expanding customer reach and loyalty in today’s fastest growing markets – in which shoppers are increasingly turning to online and mobile experiences.

By automating translation of all text seen by an app’s user, Globalization Pipeline lets developer teams focus on core activities and avoid the time- and resource-intensive tasks traditionally associated with software translation, such as setting up translation processes, managing translation vendors, and rebuilding and redeploying apps whenever there is a translation update.

This is achieved by integrating quick and efficient app translation into continuous delivery processes (DevOps), a collaborative, agile methodology which allows teams to rapidly build and update apps.

Key features of IBM’s Globalization Pipeline service for Bluemix include

  • Machine translation combined with human post-editing capabilities to ensure quality and consistency.
  • Support for a variety of app source file formats; and,
  • A comprehensive set of open source software development kits (SDKs) which enable developers to update translations transparently without having to rebuild or deploy their apps.

Look for the IBM Globalization Pipeline in the Bluemix catalog under DevOps, or view a video demo by IBM Chief Globalization Architect Dr. Steven Atkin. To read more about IBM Globalization Pipeline, visit the Bluemix blog.

Watson: Your Holiday Shopping Personal Assistant

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It’s that time of year again.

Are you getting in the spirit and ready to storm the gates of Wal-Mart on Black Friday?

Or, like me, would you prefer to sit back and wait for the Cyber Monday sales to begin.

In either case, IBM is going to be keeping a close eye on the holiday sales data this year, but this time around with some new cognitive computing innovations that are already making the monitoring of 2015 holiday shopping trends that much more interesting.

Using the IBM Watson Trend Benchmark Live (both on the web and via an iOS app), you’re going to be able to see U.S. Retail data live and in realtime (a site that is running atop IBM’s Bluemix cloud development platform).

In fact, I just did a quick check-in and learned that 26% of all online sales are currently coming from mobile devices (“Mobile Monday,” anyone?), and overall traffic online coming from mobile is at 41%.

The average order value is $129.32, as of noon C.S.T. , and the average conversion rate is 1.60% (so start optimizing those landing pages!)

This year, IBM is taking the holiday shopping experience to even greater heights, putting IBM’s Watson technology in your pocket to help you make better educated shopping decisions (online or in the store).

The IBM Watson Trend Hub will allow you to obtain real-time tracking data of aggregate consumer behavior.

It works by having Watson analyze millions of conversations across social networks, blogs, forums, comments, ratings, and reviews, and interpreting language with the nuance of we humans — including analyzing content, context and sentiment.

The Watson Trend experience then translates that voluminous information into retail trends and can even forecast changes to those trends for hundreds of products.

It also explains why an item is trending up or down, which can help you judge how relevant a popular item is to your gift list.

Think of it as the world’s smartest, most up-to-date gift guide.

Currently, the Apple Watch is at the top of the Watson Trends list, but Samsung TVs, Skylanders SuperChargers, and Lego Minifigures are also among the many popular gifts that are well represented.

Check out ibmwatsontrend.com or download the IBM Watson Trend app here.

Happy holidays, and even happier, more cognitive-computing informed shopping!

Written by TurboTodd

November 23rd, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Gordon Bell Prize Awarded to UT Austin, NYU, California Institute of Tech, and IBM Research

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Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin, IBM Research, New York University and the California Institute of Technology have been awarded the 2015 Gordon Bell Prize for realistically simulating the forces inside the Earth that drive plate tectonics.

The team’s work could herald a major step toward better understanding of earthquakes and volcanic activity.

The accomplishment was made using advanced algorithms running on the “Sequoia” IBM BlueGene/Q located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, one of the fastest supercomputers in the world.

The award-winning research team developed innovative algorithms for a mathematical approach called an “implicit solver” to realistically simulate Earth features at unprecedented resolution and accuracy.

The team was able to predict the motions of the Earth’s plates and the forces acting on them while also simulating the flow of mantle. Remarkably, the simulation involved more than 600 billion nonlinear equations, a major milestone in computational science and engineering

The simulations were performed on Sequoia, which consists of 96 IBM BlueGene/Q racks, reaching a theoretical peak performance of 20.1 petaflops. Each rack consists of 1,024 computer nodes, hosting 16 core POWER processor chips designed for Big Data computations that are running at 1.6 GHz.

The team’s code reached an unprecedented 97 percent parallel efficiency in scaling the solver to 1.6 million cores, a new world record. This milestone was achieved by rethinking the end-to-end computational framework, from the mathematical model to the numerical algorithms to the massively parallel implementation.

The team devised a numerical algorithm that could tackle the vast range of scales present in Earth’s mantle while also mapping efficiently to the massively parallel architecture of the BlueGene/Q supercomputer.

“This work has application to a much broader class of models in science and engineering involving complex multiscale behavior,” said Omar Ghattas, Director of the Center for Computational Geosciences at the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences and Professor of Geological Sciences and of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.

Despite being an underlying cause for devastating earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis, many of the fundamental principles behind the flow of the mantle remain a mystery to scientists. In fact, understanding this “mantle convection” has been designated as one of the “10 Grand Research Questions in Earth Sciences” by the U.S. National Academies.

“We are only beginning to demonstrate how the combination of advanced algorithms, supercomputing and Big Data drawn from sensors and the Internet of Things can realistically simulate the most extreme nonlinear, heterogeneous forces of nature”, said Costas Bekas, manager of Foundations of Cognitive Solutions, IBM Research – Zurich. “We are exploring new ways to apply the availability of tremendous amounts of field sensor data and cognitive computing to a topic and then enable practitioners to reduce the time to solution from years to weeks and even days for everything from inventing a new material to discovering an untapped source of energy.”

Authors of the paper detailing the work include:

· Johann Rudi – The University of Texas at Austin

· Cristiano I. Malossi – IBM Corporation

· Tobin Isaac – The University of Texas at Austin

· Georg Stadler – New York University

· Michael Gurnis – California Institute of Technology

· Peter W. J. Staar – IBM Corporation

· Yves Ineichen – IBM Corporation

· Costas Bekas – IBM Corporation

· Alessandro Curioni – IBM Corporation

· Omar Ghattas – The University of Texas at Austin

IBM scientists have now been awarded the Gordon Bell Prize six times, most recently in 2013.

The team’s research was reported in the SC15 paper “An Extreme-Scale Implicit Solver for Complex PDEs: Highly Heterogeneous Flow in Earth’s Mantle.” The paper is available from http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=2807591.2807675

Written by TurboTodd

November 20th, 2015 at 9:15 pm

New IBM Cloud Tool Eliminates Need for Users to Share Personal Data with Apps

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IBM Identity Mixer, a new tool to protect a consumer’s personally identifiable information, is now generally available on IBM Cloud.

Accessible to developers on Bluemix, IBM’s Cloud platform, Identity Mixer is built on years of cryptography research, and holds the key to helping to reduce identity theft happening as the result of sharing personal data on mobile and web apps.

Using algorithms, the tool allows developers to build apps which can authenticate users’ identities without collecting personal data, otherwise known as a “zero-knowledge proof”.

For example, consider an online streaming movie service app which requires users to verify that they have a paid subscription and that they are not a minor.

Traditionally, the user would enter in his or her full date of birth, along with a number of other personal details which aren’t necessary, such as first and last name, location, etc.

Using Identity Mixer, however, the app can simply verify the authenticity of the user’s claims of being above a certain age and having a subscription — without having to collect any other details or to interact.

Because no other personally identifiable data is exchanged, companies do not have the burden of protecting and securing this data, and users no longer have the risk of their data being exposed to malicious third parties.

Built by scientists at IBM’s Research facilities in Zurich, Switzerland, Identity Mixer authenticates users by asking them to provide a public key. Each user has a single secret key which corresponds with multiple public keys, or identities. Each transaction a user makes receives a different public key and leaves no privacy “breadcrumbs.”

For more information on IBM Identity Mixer, view a short video or visit https://idemixdemo.mybluemix.net/.

Written by TurboTodd

November 20th, 2015 at 3:05 pm

IBM’s Watson Forecasts Trends and Products for Holiday Season

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IBM today launched the IBM Watson Trend App, a new way for shoppers to understand the reasons behind the top trends of the holiday season and also predict the hottest products before they sell out. The app is available via a free download at the Apple App Store.

The IBM Watson Trend app distills the sentiment of tens of millions of online conversations by scouring 10,000 sources across social media sites, blogs, forums, comments, ratings and reviews.

Unlike other apps or lists that provide a static ranking of “hot” products, the Watson app reveals how consumers feel about the products they are considering or have purchased.

Using Watson’s understanding of natural language and machine learning technologies, the app uncovers consumer preferences to pinpoint patterns and trends to reveal why people are choosing certain products or brands. The app also uses predictive analytics to forecast if a particular trend is a fleeting fad or will continue to remain strong.

To uncover insights behind the top holiday trends and products, Watson’s natural language engine aggregates insights into distinct trend groups: content, context and sentiment. Each group is given a relative daily Trend Score, ranging from 0 to 100, based on the impact (size of the conversation) and the momentum (the rate of growth of the conversation).

Users can view the top 100 trending products and stories behind them across three categories – consumer electronics, toys and health and fitness.

Users can view the top 100 trending products and stories behind them across three categories – consumer electronics, toys and health and fitness. As of November 18, the top trends include:

  • Smartphone Photogs Drive Demand for Professional-Grade Cameras: While smartphones users have one of the most powerful mobile cameras at their fingertips, Watson finds consumers want more. Watson identified standalone cameras like the Nikon D-SLR are the number one choice for amateurs looking to take their photography to the next level due to their greater depth and superior quality. Amateurs aren’t the only ones looking to upgrade, expert photographers are setting their sights on Sony’s 42 megapixel Alpha 7RII mirrorless camera that allows them to record Ultra HD 4k video
  • Whether it’s Star Wars or Lego City, Buy Now Before It’s Too Late: The new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, has helped make Lego Bricks the “it” toy of the 2015 holiday season and it’s likely that many will sell out including the new Millennium Falcon set. However, according to Watson in addition to Star Wars, two other sets will also likely sell out this season: Lego City and Friends. As a result, shoppers should take advantage of early Black Friday deals and make their purchases now. Beyond chatter about impending product shortages, Watson finds that adults and children alike are excited for the new Star Wars line while other products such as Lego City are selling well among both boys and girls, which reinforces the growing trend of gender-neutral toys.
  • Traditional Toys Go Back-to-School: According to Watson, Mattel’s connected-toy, Hello Barbie is at the top of parents’ gift-giving lists but it’s no longer due to her sense of style. The new Hello Barbie delivers an “engaging and unique play experience” by letting children have a two-way conversation with Barbie. Parents specifically call out the companion app feature that allows for parental control of all conversations. Other “Edutainment” toys leading the pack, according to Watson, include the new PAW Patrol Imagicard Learning Game (for LeapFrog tablets).
  • Tis’ the Season for Wearable Tech: When it comes to must-have tech gifts, wearable accessories top wishlists for both gamers and movie lovers. According to Watson, while excitement around Minecraft continues to be strong, the social conversations aren’t focused on the game itself but the new Gameband, which allows people to play anywhere, on any device. For movie-lovers, Watson identified excitement around the Oculus Rift (OR), a virtual reality wearable that not only enhances the gaming experience but can support made-for-OR movies.

The Watson Trend App uses a combination of API capabilities from IBM’s open Watson Developer platform including Sentiment Analysis, Keyword Extraction, Concept Tagging and Taxonomy Classification.

In the future, IBM Watson Trend will continue to evolve with the addition of new capabilities including geographic and language data, and an increased level of personalization that caters to each consumer’s unique interests and preferences.

IBM continues to add and stretch the boundaries of what Watson can do. The original Watson system was based on 1 natural language QA API, today the platform has over 30 APIs powered by over 50 underlying technologies to provide capabilities that span language, speech, vision, and data insights.

By sharing these capabilities via the Watson Developer Cloud, an open developer environment, a vibrant community of entrepreneurs, startups and established businesses are commercializing their own cognitive powered products and services to transform a variety of industries and disciplines including retail and customer service.

For more information or to download the IBM Watson Trend App, go to www.ibmwatsontrend.com

Written by TurboTodd

November 18th, 2015 at 2:50 pm

IBM Rallies Developers to Help Build New Cloud Apps for First Responders

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IBM today announced that it is providing access to the IBM Cloud as part of the First Responder Application Challenge that runs through Dec.14.

IBM and its partner Vencore, Inc., in coordination with USGIF and APCO, have teamed up to develop an application ecosystem that enables the development and delivery of predictive analytic and mobile applications that can significantly improve the operational capability of first responders, be built and delivered on the cloud, and apply data and innovation to solve real-world problems.

This challenge continues IBM’s focus on growing an ecosystem to drive further U.S.  Federal and public sector cloud adoption. IBM also announced today the addition of five new federal partners to focus on advancing hybrid cloud.

IDC’s U.S. Government Private Cloud Infrastructure as a Service 2014 Vendor Assessment cited IBM Cloud as playing a “leading role for federal hybrid clouds,” and indicated that BluemixIBM’s Cloud Platform, coupled with the capability to “deliver innovation for new cloud workloads” is a “game changer” for the federal market. In addition, in its latest Federal Cloud Computing Competitive Landscape Snapshot, Deltek showed IBM leading the market for contracts won between 2011-2015. 

Bluemix, which will be used by challenge participants, is proving to drive innovation in government. Last April, participants in NASA’s Space App Challenge used Bluemix, resulting in thousands of new Bluemix users.

IBM is currently working with Book Zurman, Inc., a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), on the Department of Veterans Affairs Care Coordination Challenge, developing proposed solutions that combine cognitive capabilities with Bluemix applications.

As part of a U.S. Federal Partner Acceleration Program, IBM has boosted the public sector ecosystem surrounding Bluemix. The team has hosted more than 70 events, including hackathons, challenges and workshops for the federal market and the federal system integrator community.

With the growing entrepreneurial, developer and startup ecosystem supporting the federal government, academia and other business areas, the Washington Metropolitan area is ripe for this type of innovation. 

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) vision for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) includes providing an ecosystem where innovative applications are available to first responders that help improve how they carry out their duties and ultimately save lives and property. 

During the challenge, participants will work directly with vendors and universities to build software applications that use a variety of real-time remote sensing data, field data, GIS tools and other content to create mobile and web-based apps. Solutions will be created using an operational application ecosystem which will allow first responders and solution providers to work together in a virtual environment designed specifically for delivery of effective, tailored first responder applications.

Vencore has developed an application ecosystem using its Intelligent Data Exploitation and Analytics System (IDEAS). Using the latest technology available from IBM, IDEAS delivers predictive analytic solutions, mobile applications, development services and collaboration services to enable first responders to define needs and work directly with providers to build and deploy tailored solutions that meet those needs.

“Our IDEAS platform brings together first responders with both content provider and app developers in a collaborative and secure environment with the objective of delivering value-added applications that directly address unmet needs in the public safety community,” said Kent Matlick, senior vice president and general manager of Vencore’s Mission Integration Group. “Vencore’s solution makes these apps easily accessible to the entire public safety community.”

To win the challenge, participants must build the best solution that addresses one or more of five unmet needs, e.g., Improving 9-1-1 services, Emergency Tracking, First Responder Assistant Apps, Easier Access to Information, Preparation and Fire Prevention, have a fully functioning app installed and running on Bluemix or IDEAS, and submit a written description of how the app functions.

Details on the challenge, including criteria, rules, prizes and other information can be found here. Registration is open until December 11, 2015.

Written by TurboTodd

November 17th, 2015 at 3:18 pm

IBM and OpenPOWER Members Deliver Accelerated Tech to Break Big Data Speed Barriers

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IBM and several fellow OpenPOWER Foundation members today revealed new technologies, collaborations and developer resources to enable clients to analyze data more deeply and with incredible speed.

The new offerings center on the tight integration of IBM’s open and licensable POWER processors with accelerators, dedicated high performance processors that can be optimized for computationally intensive software code.

The accelerated POWER-based offerings come at a time when clients are seeking the ideal server platform for Internet of Things, machine learning and other cognitive computing applications.

Through an open, collaborative model, IBM and more than 90 members participating in the OpenPOWER Foundation’s Accelerators Working Group are developing and delivering a wide range of accelerator-based solutions.

OpenPOWER Member Commitments to Accelerated Infrastructures

New products, collaborations and further investments in accelerator-based solutions on top of the POWER processor architecture include:

  • Accelerating Watson: First made famous for beating humans on the Jeopardy! game show, IBM Watson’s ability to “think” is transforming industries worldwide by enabling a new relationship between people and computers. IBM revealed today that the incorporation of NVIDIA Tesla K80 GPUs, the flagship offering of the NVIDIA Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform – coupled with Watson’s POWER-based architecture – accelerates Watson’s Retrieve and Rank API capabilities to 1.7x of its normal speed. This speed-up can further improve the cost-performance of Watson’s cloud-based services.
  • Strategic Collaboration with Xilinx: Newest OpenPOWER Platinum member Xilinx and IBM today announced a multi-year strategic collaboration to jointly develop data center and network function virtualization (NFV) solutions that bring together the systems, software, and management components around Xilinx FPGA accelerators. The solutions focus on emerging workloads including high performance computing, cognitive computing, machine learning, genomics and big data analytics.
  • Accelerated Networking: Mellanox announced the world’s first smart network switch, the Switch-IB 2, capable of delivering clients an estimated 10x system performance improvement. NEC announced availability of its ExpEther Technology that is also suited for POWER architecture-based systems, along with plans to leverage IBM’s innovative Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI) technology to deliver additional accelerated computing value to its clients in 2016.
  • New OpenPOWER-Based Systems: Two OpenPOWER members, E4 Computer Engineering and Penguin Computing, revealed new systems based on the OpenPOWER design concept incorporating IBM POWER8 and NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators.
  • IBM Key Applications Ported and in Beta: IBM has ported a series of key IBM Internet of Things, Spark, Big Data and Cognitive Era applications to take advantage of the POWER architecture with accelerators.

Expansion of Developer Resources

Responding to growing demand from developers for test servers to build, port and optimize applications that can take advantage of accelerators on POWER-based systems, IBM and fellow OpenPOWER members have built a global network of physical centers and cloud-based services for no-charge access to accelerated POWER-based infrastructure. New and expanded resources include:

  • Expanded GPU Services on SuperVessel: NVIDIA and IBM worked together to accelerate SuperVessel, a global cloud-based OpenPOWER ecosystem resource launched in June. SuperVessel now provides GPU-accelerated computing as-a-service capabilities, giving users access to high-performance NVIDIA Tesla GPUs to enable Caffe, Torch and Theano deep-learning frameworks to instantaneously launch from the SuperVessel cloud.
  • Expanded FPGA Services on SuperVessel: Xilinx and IBM have developed a new FPGA accelerator service on SuperVessel that makes coherent reconfigurable accelerators available to developers via the cloud. By enabling high-level language programming like C, C++ and OpenCL, Xilinx and IBM are dramatically expanding how users can leverage FPGAs in the cloud for innovation on applications like machine learning, big data analytics and HPC.
  • New Cluster at University of Texas at Austin: IBM and new OpenPOWER Foundation member, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin, announced a POWER8-based accelerated computing cluster to be made available to academic researchers and developers. The new cluster is currently running successfully in an early user mode, and will begin accepting requests for access this week.
  • Oregon State University Expands OSUOSL: Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab (OSUOSL) has expanded the footprint of POWER8-based systems in their existing OpenStack cluster with additional compute and memory capacity. The expansion can significantly increase the number of distinct users OSUOSL can support for research and development on OpenPOWER/OpenStack infrastructures.

Transforming Industries with Open Acceleration

Several IBM clients understand firsthand how the coupling of accelerator technologies with POWER processors can and are delivering breakthrough performance to enable industries to transform.

According to Bryan O’Neil, Director of Data Architecture, Allegiant Travel, “A company’s data represents an immense opportunity — and the speed at which you can glean insight from it is what will separate the winners from the losers in today’s highly competitive industries. IBM and OpenPOWER members are delivering the kinds of acceleration technology our industry needs to enable real time decision making. Allegiant Travel is impressed with what we are seeing and eager to leverage accelerated solutions in our data center as we continue down the path to becoming a cognitive business.”

Last month a team of noted researchers led by Erez Lieberman Aiden, a geneticist and computer scientist with appointments at Baylor College, Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University, was nationally recognized for breakthrough genomics research – a new procedure designed to modify how a human genome is arranged in three dimensions in the nucleus of a cell, with extraordinary precision.

Today, the team revealed that the feat was achieved using Power Systems accelerated with NVIDIA Tesla GPUs and Mellanox network infrastructure to build a 3-D map of the human genome and model the reaction of the genome to this surgical procedure, without disturbing the surrounding DNA.

Coming on the heels of announcing its new supercomputer Delta based on the OpenPOWER server platform, Louisiana State University has released a white paper today documenting how an IBM POWER8-based server using acceleration technology rendered 7.5x to 9x performance increases over an Intel Xeon based LSU HPC server without acceleration technology.

For further details about the OpenPOWER Foundation visit www.openpowerfoundation.org.

Written by TurboTodd

November 16th, 2015 at 8:27 pm

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