Seamus K - Irish tech industry expat living in Sweden.

Tag: cloud

Self driving – is it ready for Europe (and the rest of the world)?

This is an interesting (but long) read on the Atlantic about Google’s facility for self driving cars. To supplement simulations they build physical replicas of real infrastructure to test the cards. This caught my eye:

We pull up to a large, two-lane roundabout. In the center, there is a circle of white fencing. “This roundabout was specifically installed after we experienced a multilane roundabout in Austin, Texas,” Villegas says. “We initially had a single-lane roundabout and were like, ‘Oh, we’ve got it. We’ve got it covered.’ And then we encountered a multi-lane and were like, ‘Horse of a different color! Thanks, Texas.’ So, we installed this bad boy.”

 If Google’s tech is only at the level of handling US infrastructure then we are a very long way from widespread adoption. Anyone who has driven in the US knows how benign their roads are. If they think a 2 lane roundabout is a challenge, wait until they get to Europe! I will know the technology works when it can drive into and out of someplace like Rome at rush hour!

Still, read for your self what goes on here: 

Waymo Built a Secret World for Self-Driving Cars

An exclusive look at how Alphabet understands its most ambitious artificial intelligence project



Blockchain, IoT and trust. They all go together

I just had another blog post published at work. This one is in in support of an eBook I have been working on for a while – with Mads Becker Jørgensen and Michael Bennet Cohn of course! Lets call me the editor of it. 

The ebook is about some things that are “hot topics” these days – the Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain technology. Blockchain is often just thought of as something for crypto currencies. But the intrinsic nature of its distributed database, makes it an excellent platform for an integrity assurance solution. The eBook talks about that in the context of IoT.

In a lot of ways Integrity is the poor child of the security trioka. The other two being Confidentiality – is my stuff secret. And Availability – can I get to it when I want. Integrity is about do I trust it. Has someone tampered with it. These are the differences between “is the bank’s internet service up” so you can get to your money (availability), “have account balances and transaction details remained private” (confidentiality), and has someone changed my balance to read €0 (integrity).

Pretty important when you get down to it. But read the book for more information.

The important thing though is that this is a real application of blockchain technology. And it is in use today. It’s not just hype.


The weather, Cloud Computing and automation

My pre-getting-out-of-bed ritual includes a check on the weather. This morning I see that in Upplands Vasby (the Stockholm suburb where I live) the high will be 1°C and the low -3°C. Which is fine, except the current temperature is below -8°C.

When automated calculations go wrong

When automated calculations go wrong


And it is not just Weather Underground with this problem. The BBC is reporting similar unusual conditions for Stockholm with a minimum temperature 6°C warmer than it actually is already.

Whoever wrote the system for generating or importing the forecasts must have left out a check to see does the forecast match the current reality. But then again, if they did have one, what can the system do if it finds a mis match? Ask for the forecast to be re-run (a massive computation problem for the agencies that produce them), or try and come up with their own? Neither really is viable. I guess they just have t hope that the theory and the reality will converge during the day.

It’s an interesting problem from a technical point of view though. At the weekend I talked with a guy who works at making sure the reviews you see on price comparison sites are correct. He doesn’t ensure that if someone says a TV is great, that it is. His problem is that when they scrape the retailers websites for product details and prices, they must match the products that internet users are actually looking for. Nothing would damage the credibility of a site faster than if you search for details of a fridge, but the responses include electric toothbrushes.

The solutions of course cannot involve humans checking these things. The volume and variety of things that people look for in the internet mean this all has to run without human involvement. The job of the people is to build and tune machine learning systems that constantly improve the quality of the output.

This is one of the key things that I have learned about Cloud – it’s all about the machines. Providing services on demand to users at scale means automation. Everywhere. From the things people see – you don’t ring up AWS to get an EC2 instance provisioned. Through the back end platforms – the only time a human in Amazon should get involved in your bill is when it becomes so big that they feel you need your own account manager. All the way through to the management of the underlying infrastructure.

A metric I was given recently was that in a traditional data centre 1 person can manage about 50-300 servers. In a Hyperscale data centre like Google’s or Facebook’s it is well over 10,000 per admin. Why? Because of automation. As well as enabling the system to manage itself (I am sure they rarely see “routine” errors), automating everything also removes one of the biggest causes of issues in the first place – human error.

Of course this isn’t easy to do (or everyone would be at it). Cracking the problems of automation, governance, and machine learning has enabled the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook to scale to the size they have, without collapsing under the need to recruit half the planet to be admins for their infrastructure.

The challenge then is bringing that capability to everyone else. That’s what the teams I work with are doing, and is one of the reasons why I am (usually) happy to head into work each morning, even if it is -9°C.


Twas the week before MWC

..and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Because they were all in the office writing and re-writing press releases, media statements, FAQs, powerpoints, demo instructions, invites, blog posts and recording explanatory videos.

If you want to know what cool stuff my colleagues and I are working on, then see us in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2016 next week. We will be in the Cloud Area of of Ericsson’s stand in Hall 2 all week.

We will be talking about Cloud (public, private, and hybrid), security, governance, data centres and hardware, and data storage, and analytics. All of Ericsson’s cloud stack really, and we will be making some interesting announcements.

Hopefully I will see some of you there.


Data Centres – the factories of the 21st century

One of Ericsson's global data centres outside Stockholm.

One of Ericsson’s global Data Centres outside Stockholm (it was snowing).

Yesterday I was at the opening of Ericsson’s new global data centre outside Stockholm. We were given a virtual tour of some of the building via an Oculus, and a real one through two of computer spaces. It was pretty impressive. Each of the computer spaces has a 4.5MW power capacity. And they can accommodate power densities of 10s of KW per rack (many legacy DCs struggle to go beyond 6-8 kW). The overall site is 20,000sqm and is one of three new global ICT centres Ericsson is bringing online at the moment.

Servers in ericsson data centre the 21st century factory

Foto: Ericsson/Lasse Hejdenberg

Back when I started my career, my first job out of college was in a factory working as a process engineer and production manager for the production lines there. A decade or two later my work is all focused around Data Centres and what goes on (and into) them. In a lot of the ways I am back where I started.

The industrial revolution gave us factories that built widgets that everyone bought. Even just twenty years ago your money would buy you real goods. Physical things you could touch and bring home. But now the greatest growth is in digital goods. Gamers pay for ad-ons like levels, maps, avatars, virtual weapons, clothing and vehicles. Children look for new apps for the family tablet. Music, podcasts, films, and books are streamed to billions of devices, and users never even hold a local copy. These are things exist only as 1s and 0s. And for the most part their existence is within a data centre somewhere.

In the enterprise the office server room is dead and gone. IT infrastructure and workloads are all moving to clouds – private ones in for large enterprises, and the vast hyperscale public clouds for companies large and small. Data is the key asset class today.

And the place where it is stored, manipulated, and value is generated from that data is the Data Centre. Which is why Data Centres are the factories of the 21st century.

I am not making moisturizer cream any more, but I like to think I am not too far from where I was 20 years ago.


Blogging for work

A blog post I did for work.

A blog post I did for work.

I have been blogging and producing content for work in the past few years.

Some of the highlights are the posts on Ericsson’s Industrial Cloud group over at LinkedIn. There is a blog post I wrote on the massive growth in data being stored in the Cloud and what Ericsson can do to help.

And there are a few videos floating around of me talking at conferences like this one on the economics of NFV at the OpenStack summit in Paris.

Blogging for work is a bit different, and not just because of the longer review process, and the nit picking over your grammar, spelling and punctuation. You need to have a much clearer idea of why you are writing, what it is for, how it will help people, and what you want them to get from the post. There isn’t time for random nonsense (like I can put here). And you need to make sure that the material should tie into everything else that is being published on the topic.

It ads a considerable amount of effort to the process. And certainly robs it of the spontaneity that personal blogging has!


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