Enabling remote work: how IT can plan for 2021 and beyond
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced a mass uptake in remote working, and it has fallen upon the shoulders of IT professionals to ensure that transition occurs smoothly.
“The initial response to COVID was: ‘we're going to move everything temporarily to the cloud and we're going to get through this, and then we're just going to revert back to how things normally were,’” says Kevin Magee, Chief Security and Compliance Officer at Microsoft Canada. “And this crisis has really made businesses come to the realisation that they have to change what they're doing if they're going to secure their organisations for the future.”
While traditional conceptions of hard perimeter firewalls have their place, an evolution is now required in the new world of work. “If you were starting from scratch today, there's no way that you would do a hard perimeter like that because cloud and mobility have made that hard perimeter, no longer sufficiently agile or sufficiently scalable,” says Lisa Lorenzin, Director, Transformation Strategy at Zscaler. However, Lorenzin explains that you’re not starting from scratch in most cases, so having collaborative partners like Microsoft and Zscaler working together can add value to a company. “Helping organisations transition through a transformation journey is where the guidance of Microsoft and Zscaler working together with a strong connectivity partner like Bell Canada can really make a difference,” adds Lorenzin.
A zero trust approach sidesteps many of the challenges now being presented, as Lorenzin explains. “It's about having a world of context-based trust where the user may be on-premise or-off premise. The application may be in the data center or in the cloud, but the principle of zero trust still applies, which is: I don't implicitly trust anyone to do anything.“
“Zscaler can offer network access that still provides the visibility and security that IT and Security needs to run and secure the business, but vastly increases the user experience. Employees that are happy to use applications are better able to serve their customers,” says Magee. With such a transition taking place, Magee sees benefits across the IT professional landscape. “There's been a positive shift in morale because we are finally delivering on the promise of zero trust, conditional access and a safe user experience that does not compromise security.”
How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans
AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”
AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”
Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”
Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”
Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”