Category Archives: Business

Updates from Ciena

SD-WAN Gets (More) Real for Service Providers

By Kevin Wade – Interest in Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN), which is designed to offer enterprises cohesive end-to-end visibility and control of their multi-site WAN, continues to grow. Although SD-WAN was originally envisioned to give enterprises a ‘DIY’ approach to WAN management, most industry analysts and experts agree that managed SD-WAN services are the predominant consumption model for enterprises today, and into the foreseeable future.

The trend toward managed SD-WAN services is good news for service providers, many of which were initially cautious that SD-WAN might reduce their revenues and/or weaken their relationships with key business customers. To the contrary, SD-WAN services have emerged as a rapidly growing new source of revenues, as well as one that offers service providers new opportunities to improve the customer experience.

I’ve been following the SD-WAN movement closely since nearly the beginning, and have been pleased to see some recent developments that signal the increasing maturity of SD-WAN services.

Without a doubt, SD-WAN services are becoming more established and accepted. And while Blue Planet isn’t inherently an SD-WAN solution, the deployment of SD-WAN services is one of Blue Planet’s biggest drivers and most common use cases. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Gruppo Campari: Brand spirits leader digitizes its business operations with the SIMATIC IT suite
Using Siemens technology, Gruppo Campari has created a unified repository for all product specifications and increased the efficiency of product development and manufacturing processes
Siemens – With so much talk about securing the Italian control of key businesses, a few companies play offense and take the Italian lifestyle and “Made in Italy” all over the world. Among them is Gruppo Campari, which closed 26 acquisitions in the spirits industry in the past two decades to become the world’s sixth player, with over 50 premium and super-premium brands. Besides aperitifs of international renown (Campari, Aperol), the portfolio includes bitter liqueurs (Averna, Cynar, Braulio) and spirits (Skyy, Grand Marnier, GlenGrant, Wild Turkey, Appleton). In 2016 the group exceeded €1.7 billion in consolidated revenues, with most sales in Americas and the Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa (SEMEA) region.

With each acquisition, Gruppo Campari needs to integrate new products, plants and assets into its operations management systems. Recent examples include J. Wray & Nephew, a company with more than 2,000 employees producing Jamaica’s 225-yearold top rum Appleton Estate, Grand Marnier in France acquired in 2016 and Bulldog London Dry Gin in 2017. Currently, the group operates 58 sites: 18 owned factories, 22 co-packers and 18 distribution centers, counting up to thousands of materials and specifications.

The turning point for the management of such a complex and constantly evolving organization came in 2012. Until then, Gruppo Campari had maintained an unstructured approach to the management of product specifications, which were created locally using Microsoft Word documents or Microsoft Excel® spreadsheets. Besides creating documents in different formats and languages, there was no standard workflow for document authoring and validation, and information was shared via email or phone.

In 2012, the Group launched an extensive digitalization of operation processes, selecting SIMATIC IT Interspec from Siemens PLM Software, a configurable solution for product specification management in process industries, and embracing the Siemens “digitalization” philosophy.

SIMATIC IT Interspec allows the company to develop, configure and manage all product specifications (raw materials, intermediate and finished products and packaging materials), storing all specifications in a single, controlled data repository. more>

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As U.S. expansion notches record, recovery may have only just begun

By Howard Schneider – It was only last year that U.S. gross domestic product caught up with estimates of its potential, surpassing where Congressional Budget Office analysts feel it would have been if the housing bubble hadn’t burst in 2007, investment bank Lehman Brothers hadn’t failed the following year, and the world had not cratered into a deep recession.

The periods when GDP exceeds potential are typically when workers enjoy the greatest wage gains and members of historically sidelined communities find jobs. In recent years, those periods have not lasted long, a fact that Fed and other officials are wrestling with as they weigh possible interest rate cuts and assess just where the U.S. economy now stands.

The approach of the decade-long expansion mark has boosted speculation about how much longer the recovery might last, whether a recession is inevitable in the next couple of years, and whether the Fed and U.S. government are adequately prepared to fight another downturn.

For the type of progress Fed and elected officials feel is needed to rebuild middle-class incomes, it may take several more years.

But the environment has changed.

In the short-term, global trade disputes and other risks could slow the economy no matter what the Fed does. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Revolutionizing Plant Performance with the Digital Twin and IIoT eBook
By Jim Brown – How can manufacturers use the digital twin and industrial IoT to dramatically improve manufacturing and product performance?

The manufacturing industries are getting more challenging. Manufacturers must evolve as new technologies remove barriers to entry and enable new, digital players to challenge market share. Operational efficiency is no longer enough to compete in today’s era of digitalization and Industry 4.0.

To remain competitive, companies have to maintain high productivity while offering unprecedented levels of flexibility and responsiveness. We believe this is a fundamental disruption that will change the status quo. To survive, manufacturers need to digitalize operations in order to improve speed, agility, quality, costs, customer satisfaction, and the ability to tailor to customer and market needs.

One of the most compelling digitalization opportunities is adopting the digital twin. This approach combines a number of digital technologies to significantly improve quality and productivity. It starts with comprehensive, virtual models of physical assets – products and production lines – to help optimize designs. But the value is much greater because the physical and virtual twins are connected and kept in sync with real data from the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial IoT (IIoT).

Further, companies can use analytics to analyze digital twin data to develop deep insights and intelligence that allow for real-time intervention and long-term, continuous improvement.

The digital twin holds significant productivity and quality opportunities for the plant. It can be used to understand when the plant isn’t operating as intended. It can identify or predict equipment issues that can result in unplanned downtime or correct process deviations before they result in quality slippage, scrap, and rework. more>

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Updates from Georgia Tech

He Quieted Deafening Jets
By Ben Brumfield – In 1969, the roar of a passing jet airliner broke a bone in Carolyn Brobrek’s inner ear, as she sat in the living room of her East Boston home. Many flights took off too close to rooftops then, but even at a distance, jet engines were a notorious source of permanent hearing loss.

For decades, Krishan Ahuja tamed jet noise, for which the National Academy of Engineering elected him as a new member this year. Today, Ahuja is an esteemed researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, but he got his start more than 50 years ago as an engineering apprentice in Rolls Royce’s aero-engine division, eventually landing in its jet noise research department.

Jet-setters had been a rare elite, but early in Ahuja’s career in the 1970s, air travel went mainstream, connecting the globe. The number of flights multiplied over the years, and jet engine thrust grew stronger, but remarkably, human exposure to passenger jet noise in the same time period plummeted to a fraction of what it had once been, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Ahuja not only had a major hand in it, he also has felt the transition himself.

“In those days, if jets went over your house and you were outside, you’d feel like you needed to put your hands over your ears. Not today,” said Ahuja, who is a Regents Researcher at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and Regents Professor in Georgia Tech’s Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering. more>

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Updates from Datacenter.com

The Hidden Costs of Hosting Your Infrastructure On-Premise
Datacenter.com – There are many myths around it and the choice between hosting your mission-critical infrastructure in-house or accommodating your IT infrastructure in a professional data center. Managing and implementing your business-critical infrastructure in-house is a huge responsibility on top of your daily work. The specialist requirements with regard to the management of electricity, cooling and security are hard at the helm.

In addition, the excessive overhead on company resources to optimally manage the infrastructure and its environment creates its own set of challenges. The choice should not only be made on the basis of costs. It depends on your business requirements and specific usage options, as well as the costs of the service.

The role of IT has come a long way, with the success of companies now heavily dependent on the ability of the organization to digitally transform. IT and the infrastructure they build are under extreme pressure to perform, with most IT departments facing a tough battle to meet the demand from the operation (business). Digital technologies are drastically changing the way we do business, with business rules changing every day. With companies that continue to reinvent themselves, IT requirements are becoming increasingly difficult to predict now and in the future.

Research shows that nearly 70% of digital transformation projects are not finished within the set deadlines, with only one fifth of customers claiming that their transformation projects are successful in the long term. That said, taking the extra financial and resource costs needed to build and maintain your mission-critical infrastructure makes little sense if your digital journey and your business continue to mature.

As such, moving your business-critical on-premise infrastructure to a specialized colocation data center has quickly become the preferred choice that many organizations consider as part of their search to successfully digitize their business activities. more>

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A radical legal ideology nurtured our era of economic inequality

By Sanjukta Paul – Where does economic power come from? Does it exist independently of the law?

It seems obvious, even undeniable, that the answer is no. Law creates, defines and enforces property rights. Law enforces private contracts. It charters corporations and shields investors from liability. Law declares illegal certain contracts of economic cooperation between separate individuals – which it calls ‘price-fixing’ – but declares economically equivalent activity legal when it takes place within a business firm or is controlled by one.

Each one of these is a choice made by the law, on behalf of the public as a whole. Each of them creates or maintains someone’s economic power, and often undermines someone else’s. Each also plays a role in maintaining a particular distribution of economic power across society.

Yet generations of lawyers and judges educated at law schools in the United States have been taught to ignore this essential role of law in creating and sustaining economic power.

Instead, we are taught that the social process of economic competition results in certain outcomes that are ‘efficient’ – and that anything the law does to alter those outcomes is its only intervention.

These peculiar presumptions flow from the enormously powerful and influential ‘law and economics’ movement that dominates thinking in most areas of US law considered to be within the ‘economic’ sphere.

Bruce Ackerman, professor of law and political science at Yale University, recently called law and economics the most influential thing in legal education since the founding of Harvard Law School.

The Economics Institute for Federal Judges, founded by the legal scholar Henry Manne, has been a hugely influential training program in the law and economics approach. more>

Re-made in China

By Amy Hawkins and Jeffrey Wasserstrom – The dominant image of China in the West is of a closed, dark place; a country where what reigns supreme is an authoritarianism based on an ancient imperial past that today’s leaders claim to have renounced, while simultaneously extolling China’s 5,000-year history.

It’s not a wholly false perception, but the notion of China as a fortress state, impervious to foreign influence, is something of a smokescreen. So too – as the opposite but equally flawed assumption goes – is the perception of China as forever on the brink of being Westernized by the liberalizing forces of globalization and the free market, as if, whenever the fortress gates are opened, the country were barely capable of withstanding the influx of ‘contaminating’ or ‘corrupting’ ideas.

This idea of China received a powerful boost from Francis Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ fantasy that the civilized world would converge around liberal democratic norms, leading many Western observers to believe that China’s economic boom and flirtation with freemarket forces was both inevitable, and would transform it completely.

In reality, China’s longstanding suspicion of foreign influence has not prevented the government or the people from becoming remarkably adept at marshalling the flow of overseas cultural touchstones into the country’s borders, remoulding them into something that isn’t entirely Chinese, but is also totally different from its original form.

Like authoritarian leaders everywhere, China’s are anxious about the population’s interaction with foreign ideas, and the state tries to police this closely, adapting cultural imports to fit national and regional needs. Still, the various ways that the government, villagers and city dwellers of different social classes and generations handle these mutations demonstrate that Chinese concepts of national identity are much more flexible than first impressions suggest.

Appreciating this is especially important now, as tensions between China and the United States rise. A strident form of Chinese nationalism is gaining ground. more>

Young, educated and jobless

By Karola Klatt – In the wake of the financial and economic crisis, youth unemployment has skyrocketed in almost all industrialised countries, especially in southern Europe. When the impact on the labour market peaked in Italy in 2014, 42.7 percent of 14-25-year-old job-seekers were without work. In Spain, the figure was as high as 55.5 percent in 2013, while it stood at 58.3 percent in Greece in the same year.

Failing to secure a job means young adults face a hurdle right at the start of their independent lives. They remain reliant on their parents, boosting feelings of exclusion and helplessness.

It is a political as well as economic challenge, as those lacking prospects often veer towards extremist and populist movements. Anti-democratic attitudes commonly emerge from a context of personal crises: a sense of being socially excluded and an inability to improve one’s lot often triggers a rejection of the ruling system.

Switzerland, Norway and Germany have however not witnessed a dramatic increase in youth unemployment in the aftermath of the crisis. One reason for this, according to experts, is the success of the dual training system which is particularly important in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

In Germany, young people and young adults gain hands-on experience of their future professions in companies, while completing the theoretical part of their training in vocational schools. Ideally, trainees should be taken on by the training company after their apprenticeship. Where this is not possible, they can use the experience gained during their apprenticeship to apply to other companies, thus easing their transition to working life. more>

The world is running out of time

By Bertrand Badré – In 2015, the international community launched a renewed effort to tackle collective global challenges under the auspices of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda and the Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21). But after an initial flurry of interest, the progress that has been made toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and tackling climate change has tapered off. Around the world, many seem to have developed an allergy to increasingly stark warnings from the UN and other bodies about accelerating species extinctions, ecosystem collapse, and global warming.

Now is not the time to debate whether progress toward global goals is a matter of the glass being half-full or half-empty. Soon, there will no longer even be a glass to worry about. Despite global news coverage of civic and political action to address our mounting crises, the underlying trends are extremely frightening.

For decades, most of the major economies have relied on a form of capitalism that delivered considerable benefits. But we are now witnessing the implications of the Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman’s famous mantra: “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.”

A corporate-governance model based on maximizing shareholder value has long dominated our economic system, shaping our accounting frameworks, tax regimes, and business-school curricula.

But we have now reached a point where leading economic thinkers are questioning the fundamentals of the prevailing system. Paul Collier’s The Future of CapitalismJoseph E. Stiglitz’s People, Power, and Profits, and Raghuram G. Rajan’s The Third Pillar all offer comprehensive assessments of the problem.

A capitalist system that is disconnected from most people and unmoored from the territories in which it operates is no longer acceptable. Systems do not work in isolation. Eventually, reality asserts itself: global trade tensions reemerge, populist nationalists win power, and natural disasters grow in frequency and intensity.

Simply put, our approach to capitalism has exacerbated previously manageable social and environmental problems and sowed deep social divisions. The explosion in inequality and the laser focus on short-term results (that is, quarterly earnings) are just two symptoms of a broken system. more>