Turbo Todd

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

IBM Launches First Highly Secure Blockchain Services on IBM Cloud

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Since blockchain is an emerging technology, until now there has been little clarity on the requirements to securely operate blockchain networks in the cloud. To help speed the adoption of blockchain for business, IBM today announced a new framework for securely operating blockchain networks, as well as new services on the IBM Cloud that are designed to meet existing regulatory and security requirements.

Blockchain networks are built on the notion of decentralized control, but some cloud environments leave back doors open to vulnerabilities that allow tampering and unauthorized access. Working with teams of security experts, cryptographers, hardware experts and researchers, IBM has created essential new cloud services for tamper-resistant, trusted blockchain networks.

"Clients tell us that one of the inhibitors of the adoption of blockchain is the concern about security," said Jerry Cuomo, vice president, Blockchain, IBM. "While there is a sense of urgency to pioneer blockchain for business, most organizations need help to define the ideal cloud environment that enables blockchain networks to run securely in the cloud."

After working with hundreds of clients, startups and developers building blockchain applications, IBM is addressing their security needs in several ways, including cloud services with the highest Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS 140-2) and Evaluation Assurance Levels (EAL) in the industry to support the use of blockchain in government, financial services and healthcare. The company is also making it easier to use IBM’s code based on the Linux Foundation Hyperledger Project in any environment, and offering services on Bluemix, IBM’s cloud platform, to help developers quickly build applications.

With the opening of the IBM Garage this month in New York City, IBM is also working with clients such as BNY Mellon to accelerate the design and development of a unique application for securities lending, using a blockchain network to trade and transfer assets.

“At BNY Mellon, we are actively exploring blockchain’s potential to better serve our clients and our company,” said Suresh Kumar, CIO, BNY Mellon. “With this new initiative, IBM is providing an environment that will allow companies like us to collaborate more easily and more securely and in a more standardized way, which is critical to advancing meaningful use cases for blockchain.”

Defining a Security Framework for Blockchain in the Cloud

Built to help businesses quickly host secure, tamper-resistant networks and scale to thousands of users, IBM Cloud will allow production blockchain networks to be deployed in minutes, running signed, certified and tested Docker images with dashboards and analytics as well as support.

These new cloud services have been optimized for cloud-based blockchain networks by providing an auditable operating environment with comprehensive log data that supports forensics and compliance. Tamper-resistant storage of crypto keys and complete protection around the cryptographic module detects and responds to unauthorized attempts at physical access.

Additionally, the IBM Cloud services enable blockchain peers to run in protected environments to prevent leaks through shared memory or hardware.

"Blockchain is a highly innovative and promising technology. However there are a lot of issues to be solved for enterprise systems," said Eiji Ueki, director and executive vice president, NTT DATA. "IBM’s new blockchain cloud service is directly trying to address those issues. We believe this will help accelerate the maturation of blockchain technology."

IBM’s Blockchain for Hyperledger Now Available on DockerHub

For organizations that need the flexibility to run blockchain on different cloud servers or devices, a signed, certified distribution of IBM’s code submission to the Hyperledger project is now available on DockerHub. Ongoing updates will provide new features including dashboards, analytics, chat support and exclusive network services.

IBM Blockchain for Bluemix Provides Developers New Flexibility

For application developers who want to get a blockchain environment running almost instantly and start building applications, the beta release of IBM Blockchain on Bluemix provides access to the very latest Linux Hyperledger code, updated as the code continues to emerge. Whether on DockerHub or IBM Cloud, IBM Blockchain supports multiple industries and diverse use cases.

“Bluemix Services make it easy for Factom developers to work with IBM Blockchain code,” said Paul Snow, Chief Architect of Factom. "IBM is the single largest contributor to open source technology and the Internet would not be what it is today without their contributions. Exploring blockchain technology with IBM is exciting and our approaches are complementary. We are thrilled to see how they will help grow the industry."

Join IBM during the Consensus Building Blocks Hackathon 2016, where developers will be challenged to use IBM’s blockchain service on Bluemix to rapidly build innovative applications incorporating services such as IBM Watson, IBM Internet of Things, The Weather Channel Data and others. Voting, risk management, finance, healthcare, insurance, supply chains and IoT are some of the systems that are poised for dramatic change using blockchain networks.

For more information, visit: www.ibm.com/blockchain.

Todd "Turbo" Watson
Blog: www.turbotodd.com
Email: toddhttp://about.me/toddwatson

Written by TurboTodd

April 29th, 2016 at 2:12 pm

IBM Expands Flash Storage Solutions For Intelligent Apps in the Cloud

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IBM has announced an expansion of its flash storage portfolio to help clients more quickly extract value from data so it can be turned into a competitive advantage.

IBM launched three new all-flash array products incorporating industry-leading performance – a minimum latency of 250μs (microsecond) — to solve the challenge of accessing the massive amounts of data quickly for cloud-based applications and workloads.

Consumers today are demanding cloud-based applications that are fast, easy and intelligent. Sub-second response times are critical when data is retrieved from the cloud to deliver a unique, personalized and positive customer experience. IBM MicroLatency technology transfers data within the flash array via hardware instead of the added layer of software.

Also built into the solutions are features designed to solve cloud requirements such as quality-of-service (QoS) to prevent the impact “noisy neighbor” problems have on application performance, secure multi-tenancy, thresholding, and easy-to-deploy grid scale out.

“The drastic increase in volume, velocity and variety of information is requiring businesses to rethink their approach to addressing storage needs, and they need a solution that is as fast as it is easy, if they want to be ready for the Cognitive Era,” said Greg Lotko, general manager of IBM Storage and Software Defined Infrastructure. “IBM’s flash portfolio enables businesses on their cognitive journey to derive greater value from more data in more varieties, whether on premises or in a hybrid cloud deployment.”

Clients around the world are adopting IBM Flash Storage. For example, the Arizona State Land Department was seeking a solution that could speed access to data.

“The workloads our department manages include CAD files for land mapping, geographic information system (GIS) applications and satellite imagery for the over 9.2 million acres of State Trust lands we’re responsible to oversee. The data we manage is tied directly to our goal to make this information available and to increase its analytical capabilities,” said William Reed, chief technology officer at the Arizona State Land Department. “After exhaustive, comparative proof of concept testing we chose IBM’s FlashSystem, which has helped to increase our client productivity by 7 times while reducing our virtual machine boot times by over 85 percent.”

“American Postal Workers Union Health Plan continues to experience tremendous amounts of data growth within our medical claims department,” said Rich Myers, senior network director, American Postal Workers Union Health Plan. “We need a storage solution that easily scales, simplifies management and reporting, and lowers our costs per terabyte. IBM FlashSystem solves all these problems, and at the same time, increases the speed of our batch processing by 7 to 8 times from our previous solution removing all latency from the system.”

Representing more than 380 patents, IBM’s flash portfolio includes many breakthroughs in performance, flash durability, reliability, availability, and ease of use. In addition to cloud-enabled features, IBM flash solutions are also addressing the complexity of data management facing CSPs.

IBM’s new Hyper-Scale Manager is a simplified user interface that streamlines data movement and can manage more than one hundred units from a single user interface. Developed in collaboration with clients and leveraging IBM Design Thinking, the Hyper-Scale Manager reduces mouse clicks by more than 50 percent and eliminates time wasted toggling between the user interface and corresponding files.

All-flash solutions announced complement IBM’s existing all-flash portfolio including IBM’s midrange all-flash solutions consist of all-flash versions of the industry acclaimed Storwize® family, which offers the performance needed for real-time insights from business data combined with advanced management functions. IBM’s Big Data all-flash solution delivers a high-density multi-petabyte scale, low-cost flash option ideal for industries such as media, genomics, and life sciences.

You can learn more about IBM flash storage here.

Written by TurboTodd

April 28th, 2016 at 2:36 pm

Mobile Health

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Facebook blew the doors off its earnings yesterday.

Q1 revenue up 51% YOY ($5.38B in revenue, net income of $1.51B). The net income number was up from $512M last year, and they’re up to 1.65M Monthly Average Users.

And it was mostly all about mobile. Again.

COO Sheryl Sandberg had this to say: “Businesses are no longer asking if they market on mobile, they’re asking how.”

Facebook also made some news with the introduction of its new Facebook for Windows 10 app, so that Facebook is now only one click away from your Start Menu. If you use Windows. Which I most certainly do not.

They also threw in a Messenger for Windows 10, for good measure (and even an Instagram, as well).

If you’re sick about hearing all about Facebook, or just sick in general, Apple’s new Carekit service arrived today via GitHub’s open source community. According to a story in Fast Company, Apple’s CareKit is "designed to make it easier for developers to help patients collect health data, manage their symptoms, and share a report with their care team — all via a mobile phone."

As FC breaks it down, the software framework includes four modules, including administering a health plan, measuring symptoms, showing insights via a dashboard, and sharing health reports.

Clearly, Facebook doesn’t need a CareKit for its financial health, but the way this seems to be going, your medical healthcare information could easily be shared via Facebook for all your friends to see.


Written by TurboTodd

April 28th, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Sesame Workshop and IBM Watson Team Up to Advance Early Childhood Education

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Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization that produces Sesame Street, and IBM today announced a collaboration to use IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology and Sesame’s early childhood expertise to help advance preschool education around the world.

As part of a three-year agreement, Sesame Workshop and IBM will collaborate to develop educational platforms and products that will be designed to adapt to the learning preferences and aptitude levels of individual preschoolers. Research shows that a significant extent of brain development occurs in the first five years of a child’s life1, making this window critical for learning and development.

The alliance will draw from Sesame Workshop’s deep educational content expertise garnered from over 45 years of research, and more than 1,000 studies on how young children learn best. This expertise will combine with Watson’s natural language processing, pattern recognition, and other cognitive computing technologies to create highly personalized learning experiences intended to complement the roles that parents and teachers play in early development. Watson will continuously hone and improve educational activities by studying and adapting to the aggregate experiences of anonymized groups of students.

“We believe that bringing education together with technology is a key to improving early learning in this country and around the world,” said Jeffrey D. Dunn, CEO of Sesame Workshop. “A generation ago, Sesame Street used the ubiquitous presence of television to reach vulnerable children who did not have access to the learning opportunities that affluent and middle-class kids did. It worked very well. Now, through this collaboration with IBM and Watson, we expect to develop the next generation of tailored learning tools. Ultimately, the goal is to provide children from all socio-economic backgrounds with the opportunity for meaningful, personalized education in their most formative years.”

Echoing the late 1960s, when Sesame Street’s founders convened diverse experts to help conceive the show, the Sesame-IBM team will gather leading teachers, academics, researchers, technologists, gamers, performers, and media executives to brainstorm ways in which cognitive computing can best help preschoolers learn.

Sesame Workshop and IBM are currently exploring and iterating on a wide variety of interactive platforms and interfaces for use in homes and schools. The two companies plan to test and share prototypes with leaders in the education and technology community to allow continued refinement based on feedback and domain expertise.

Written by TurboTodd

April 27th, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Apple And Helium

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We’re still smack in the middle of tech earnings time for Q1 2016.

Up today: Apple, AT&T, Twitter, and Ebay.

On the Apple observer front, re/code projects that Apple’s 12-year growth streak is likely to come to an end, with those years led by the growth of the iPod and Mac, and later the iPhone and iPad (what, not Watch?!)

They have year-over-year declines in sales estimated at around 10 per cent (down to $52 billion).

Whatever the number, that was one heck of a run.

As for the Apple Watch, The Wall Street Journal’s projecting that some of the device’s shortcomings are going to be addressed in the next gen version, including adding cell-network connectivity (so you don’t have to be tethered to your iPhone) and a faster processor.

Still and all, research firm Wristly did a study recently of 1,150 Apple Watch owners and 93 percent indicated they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied.”

So it can only get better from here? Time…will….tell.

Hey, buying first gen anything is a roll of the device, which is why I’ll be buying the second gen iPhone SE (likely the last iPhone to still have a hole to plug in my beloved earbuds). I like the smaller form factor, and the price even better.

Stunningly, though, it looks as though I’ll have had to wait for 4-5 weeks. That’s fine by me, but not something I would have expected for the SE, which suggests to me either Apple’s supply forecast for the SE was off or demand is far exceeding their expectations.

Whatever the case, it doesn’t seem there’s any excess helium in the Apple stock bubble — the price is probably just about right. But if you really want some helium, you might check out the new Helium smart industrial sensor business, which just raised a $20 million round.

The San Francisco-based company created the “Helium Green” sensor, designed for industrial and enterprise applications of the Internet of Things. VentureBeat writes that the company “is making sensors for customers in healthcare, food, beverage, transportation, and grocery industries.”

Or as former AOL chief executive Steve Case would say, “the Internet of Everything.”

Written by TurboTodd

April 26th, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Two Thousand Zero Zero Party Over Oops Out Of Time

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Enough with the dying celebrities in 2016, already.

We’re hardly four months into 2016, and it seems like we’ve already lost a pantheon of great musical and entertainment talent.

David Bowie. Merle Haggard. Maurice White. Glenn Frey. Others I know I’ve forgotten.

And now, Prince.

If you somehow missed the Prince phenom because you were either too young, too old, or just not paying attention, you missed out.  Bigtime.

Prince’s music and ethos tested and pushed boundaries in every direction, and his musical genius was legendary. For his first album, For You, in 1978, Prince played all the instruments.  All 26 (or was it 27?) of them.  For his first album.

He was one of the first and most prominent African-American musicians featured in the nascent days of MTV, and those of who were caught those early spins were starstruck. Who was this man and man could he move and sing and play and…

The virtuoso album Purple Rain comes out in June 1984 and the accolades couldn’t come in quickly enough (it was later added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry), but he couldn’t stop there because he had a movie to make.

And his guitar playing?  Well just ask Eric Clapton, who allegedly when asked in an interview “What’s it like to be the best guitar play alive?” responded, “I don’t know, ask Prince.” 

I wish I could.  

The outpouring on social media as the news of Prince’s death broke yesterday was  both tragic and inspiring.  As it was with Bowie, Prince’s music and life, and now his passing, touched millions upon millions, and social networks freed us from our isolated grief and brought us together for an immediate and collective outpouring. 

We shared his great performances: Playing a dazzling rendition of “Purple Rain,” in the pouring rain, at the 2007 Super Bowl…the smokin’ hot guitar solo for George Harrison’s “When My Guitar Gently Weeps” at Prince’s induction into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, in 2004)…

And, lest we forget, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul also lost a beloved native son, one who never forgot where he came from, who walked among them as one of them, and who built a life, and his Paisley Park studio, there.

So it was heartening to see that the great citizens of the Twin Cities didn’t mope into the streets with tears overnight.  

They were too busy partying like it was 1999 at the First Avenue club (where Prince filmed much of “Purple Rain” and where he had performed countless times), exactly the kind of celebration I can only think he would have thought fitting to help his musical soul slip into the heavens.

Goodbye, Sweet Prince…

Don’t worry, I won’t hurt U
I only want U 2 have some fun
I was dreamin’ when I wrote this
Forgive me if it goes astray
But when I woke up this mornin’
Coulda sworn it was judgment day
The sky was all purple,
There were people runnin’ everywhere
Tryin’ 2 run from the destruction,
U know I didn’t even care’Cuz they say two thousand zero zero party over,
Oops out of timeSo tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999

Lyrics from Prince’s 1982 song, “1999″

Written by TurboTodd

April 22nd, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Halliburton Uses IBM Cloud In Development Decisions for Oil and Gas Fields

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IBM today announced that Halliburton has adopted IBM Cloud to run its sophisticated reservoir simulation software to help it better understand how complex oil and gas fields might behave under different development scenarios.

Halliburton uses large reservoir simulation models to help oil and gas companies select the right development strategy to maximize production from oil and gas fields. These decisions can involve billions of dollars for a large field.

Using high performance computing and the GPU features of the IBM Cloud, Halliburton can quickly run hundreds of simulation cases to forecast the possible behavior of complex oil and gas fields.

Through the use of the IBM Cloud, which features both bare metal and virtual servers, Halliburton has the flexibility to scale up and upgrade to the latest hardware based on customer needs. Halliburton can also switch from a capital expenditure to an operating expenditure model, reduce costs, and accommodate business needs based on demand.

“Selecting the right development strategy is a multibillion-dollar decision for a large oil and gas field,” said Steven Knabe, a director in Halliburton Consulting, which specializes in formulating development plans for both new and mature fields. “Using high performance computing of the IBM Cloud, we can run very detailed simulation models and evaluate a wide range of field development options, which translates into better field development plans for our clients and a competitive advantage for our business.”

You can learn more about the IBM Cloud here.

Written by TurboTodd

April 21st, 2016 at 3:40 pm

Posted in 2015

ODH, Inc. and IBM Watson Health Introduce Data-Driven Health Management Platform

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Behavioral health analytics provider ODH, Inc. and IBM Watson Health today announced the launch of Mentrics, a leading-edge population health management platform designed to help managed care organizations transform the quality and cost of behavioral healthcare.

Built specifically for managed care organizations that handle behavioral health benefits, Mentrics will streamline data and care coordination while generating valuable insights to help optimize care for patients with behavioral health conditions.

Using Watson Health Cloud, the system will gather and aggregate health data, including behavioral and physical medical services and prescription claims, from fragmented sources into one platform that can deliver predictive insights for a coordinated and holistic approach to improving care for individuals suffering from behavioral health conditions. Mentrics clients can tap into broader data on the Watson Health Cloud for deeper insights such as similarity analytics.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), healthcare costs for people diagnosed with mental illness and common chronic health conditions are 75 percent higher than those without a mental health diagnosis.

However, the fragmented behavioral health care system often leads to a lack of coordination between multiple care providers, different state policies and diverse payment structures. This often results in poor health outcomes and higher costs across health systems.

Mentrics can be deployed in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model on IBM’s Watson Health Cloud for seamless integration with an organization’s existing infrastructure and storage capacity. The cloud environment also enables integration of clinical, scientific, and exogenous data in structured and unstructured formats, and can offer cognitive insights into risk stratification and personalized care.

“Mentrics is the result of four years of research and development to tackle the challenges facing managed care organizations responsible for behavioral health benefits,” said Michael Jarjour, president and CEO, ODH, Inc. “Built with our deep expertise in behavioral health and using IBM’s technology and security prowess, Mentrics represents what we believe will be a turning point in the industry’s ability to substantially improve care quality and outcomes, as well as network efficiency for reduced costs.”

Written by TurboTodd

April 20th, 2016 at 2:11 pm

IBM Q1 2016 Earnings

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IBM today announced first-quarter 2016 earnings results.

  • Diluted EPS: Operating (non-GAAP) of $2.35; GAAP of $2.09
  • Revenue from continuing operations of $18.7 billion
  • Strategic imperatives revenue of $29.8 billion over the last 12 months represents 37 percent of IBM revenue
  • Cloud revenue of $10.8 billion over the last 12 months
  • For cloud delivered as a service, annual run rate of $5.4 billion in the quarter, up 46 percent adjusting for currency, up 42 percent as reported year to year
  • Free cash flow of $14.3 billion over last 12 months
  • Announced or closed 10 acquisitions during the quarter
  • Returned $2.2 billion to shareholders in the form of gross share repurchases and dividends
  • Maintains full-year operating (non-GAAP) EPS expectations of at least $13.50
  • Improves view of full-year free cash flow


“We are pleased with the progress we have made helping our clients apply new cognitive solutions and hybrid cloud platforms,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer.  “IBM has established itself as the industry leader in total cloud, analytics and cognitive, all of which helped drive our strategic imperatives revenue growth at a strong double-digit rate, substantially faster than the market.”

“In the first quarter, we invested $3.6 billion in acquisitions and capital expenditures, and returned $2.2 billion to shareholders through dividends and gross share repurchases,” said Martin Schroeter, IBM senior vice president and chief financial officer.  “We will continue to invest as we transform our operations, expanding our industry expertise and our cognitive and cloud capabilities.”

Strategic Imperatives

First-quarter revenues from IBM’s strategic imperatives — cloud, analytics and engagement — increased 14 percent year to year (up 17 percent adjusting for currency). 

Total cloud revenues (public, private and hybrid) for the quarter increased 34 percent (up 36 percent adjusting for currency).  Cloud revenue over the trailing 12 months was $10.8 billion. 

The annual exit run rate for cloud delivered as a service — a subset of the total cloud revenue — increased to $5.4 billion from $3.8 billion in the first quarter of 2015.  Revenues from analytics increased 7 percent (up 9 percent adjusting for currency).  

Revenues from mobile increased 88 percent (up 93 percent adjusting for currency) and from security increased 18 percent (up 20 percent adjusting for currency).

Written by TurboTodd

April 18th, 2016 at 8:51 pm

AOL Deploys IBM Aspera Software to Accelerate Global Media Distribution

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IBM today announced that AOL has deployed a full suite of high-speed transfer and automation software from Aspera, an IBM company, as the backbone for its new media management platform.

This technology helps deliver high performance transfers between bi-coastal production facilities to and from their cloud-based media asset management system, to enable large scale global collaboration and content distribution between creative teams worldwide.

AOL properties such as AOL On, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget, are available on 19 OTT devices, and provide editorial and video content at a caliber unlike any other in their spaces.

Providing content for their digital properties, AOL’s in-house video production through AOL Studios has continued to expand, producing a slate of over 75 Originals, and earning four Emmy nominations while generating between 2 and 4 TB each day. 

To support this rapid growth, AOL recognized the need to advance their existing production infrastructure and toolset, and embarked on a comprehensive multi-vendor evaluation including the option of developing the new system in house.  At the end of the evaluation, AOL selected high-speed transfer and automation software from Aspera to power the movement, sharing and exchange of content.

As a key component of AOL’s new integrated media production and management system, Aspera‘s FASP high-speed transfer software enables AOL to quickly share and exchange large media files between its production facilities in New York and Los Angles.

Aspera Connect and Faspex servers are deployed at the AOL Studio’s Los Angeles and New York production facilities, and used for collaboration including ad-hoc content ingest and sharing with 3rd party partners.

AOL also uses Aspera Shares On Demand to transfer large video files and metadata, from each on-premises 1.5 PB data center SAN directly to the cloud. All of the media created in the production facilities is immediately moved to the cloud upon creation and integrated with the media asset management (MAM) system so it can be shared as quickly as possible.

You can learn more about Aspera’s capabilities here.

Written by TurboTodd

April 18th, 2016 at 5:22 pm

Posted in 2016,aol,aspera,cloud,ibm,streaming,video

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