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Cloud-based remote work to become a ‘new normal’ post lockdown: IBM India

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IBM. (Photo: Twitter/@IBM)

As enterprises, governments and small and medium businesses (SMBs) learn to adjust to the new normal, organisations will fully commit to Cloud-based flexibility in the near future – from embracing a hybrid multi-cloud design and shifting to �as a service strategy to leveraging partners to supplement provision and capacity to ensure robust remote working environments, IBM India said on Sunday.

India is currently under COVID-19 lockdown, factories are shut and mobility is almost zero.

Most leading organisations planned in advance for disruptions that were anticipated, by building capacity, redundancy and agility to deal with unanticipated disruptions. But even in the most risk-averse planning for the unknown, the current situation has been profoundly unique.

“The most adaptable, resilient businesses tap into Cloud-based work environments that support distributed, “work anywhere” teams without sacrificing efficiency, security productivity or quality,” said Vikas Arora, Vice President, Cloud and Cognitive Software and Services, IBM India and South Asia.

“They need to keep their businesses running smoothly till things return to normalcy. And, as they do that they need to plan for continued growth, resilience, stability and security,” Arora told IANS.

Dozens of business-oriented applications are now connecting homebound workers to collaborative tools that enable business continuity.

The Cloud-based support of video conferencing, file-sharing services, communications platforms, chatbots, and a host of data analytics, graphic design, accounting, HR, and sales management programmes have allowed remote employees to continue work as if they never left their company offices.

“Similarly, remote developers continue writing code and building applications in cloud-supported containerized environments, while AI-backed internal and customer-facing applications keep humming along because they are built and managed in the cloud,” informed Arora.

In such a scenario when the bulk of employees are using applications and accessing programmes from all over, cybercriminals have more doors to open, making an organization’s threat vector broader than ever.

“Network availability and latency can also suffer under high usage, impeding workers’ progress at a time when productivity is already under pressure. IBM Cloud is helping organisations with seamless transition to remote business with the assurance of security and agility, while providing digital services for mobility, virtualization, collaboration and support,” the company executive elaborated.

Strategic investments in Cloud computing and open technologies have significantly helped with the transition to remote working.

“Our 23 per cent growth in Cloud revenue globally in the first quarter is a proof point of how we are helping clients on their journeys to cloud,” said Arora.

IBM Cloud is helping organisations with seamless transition to remote business with the assurance of security and agility, while providing digital services for mobility, virtualization, collaboration and support.

“Specifically on Cloud, we are providing clients the much-needed resiliency and security that comes from its breadth of deployment options across 60 globally dispersed data centers including the one in India and time-tested data protection capabilities,” Arora added.

The company has put together a bouquet of 11 free cloud offers to ease the burden of businesses across the globe.

The SaaS-based Cloud offers span AI, data, security, integration, remote learning, and more � all via the IBM public cloud to support our clients and help them maintain business continuity, thus addressing customer requirements across various sectors like Financial services, healthcare, telecom, retail, government, educational institutions, manufacturing and automotive, etc.

“For example, for 90 days, free of charge, we’re offering companies the ability to build virtual server configurations; providing access to our cloud service for high-speed file sharing and team collaboration; IBM Garage Methodology to remotely help with Design Thinking to address their emerging business requirements during this time and addressing critical security needs,” Arora told IANS.

By leveraging DevOps on Cloud, enterprises can enable their entire DevOps infrastructure, available on the Public Cloud, to ensure their development teams remain productive and operational during the lockdown period.

“The final deployment may still be on-prem to facilitate security, compliance and other business requirements. Finally, companies can ensure business continuity by making it easy to securely store data on the Cloud and access when needed in these times,” suggested Arora.

Business

IBM sells its Watson healthcare assets to Francisco Partners

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IBM has announced to sell healthcare data and analytics assets from the company (currently part of the IBM Watson Health business) to Francisco Partners, a leading global investment firm.

Although financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed but previous reports pegged the value at around $1 billion.

The assets acquired by Francisco Partners include extensive and diverse data sets and products, including Health Insights, MarketScan, Clinical Development, Social Program Management, Micromedex, and imaging software offerings.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of this year, IBM said in a statement late on Friday.

“The agreement with Francisco Partners is a clear next step as IBM becomes even more focused on our platform-based hybrid cloud and AI strategy,” said Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President, IBM Software.

“IBM remains committed to Watson, our broader AI business, and to the clients and partners we support in healthcare IT.”

Watson was one of IBM’s highest-profile initiatives in recent years and a big bet on the growing healthcare sector.

IBM currently has a market value of $108 billion, way behind its Cloud-computing rivals like Amazon and Microsoft.

In its fourth quarter, cognitive applications revenue, which includes Watson Health, came to $1.5 billion, a decrease of 2 per cent year over year.

IBM Watson was one of the “strategic imperatives” under former CEO Ginni Rometty.

“We have followed IBM’s journey in healthcare data and analytics for a number of years and have a deep appreciation for its portfolio of innovative healthcare products,” said Ezra Perlman, Co-President at Francisco Partners.

Under the terms of the agreement, the current management team will continue in similar roles in the new standalone company, serving existing clients in life sciences, provider, imaging, payer and employer, and government health and human services sectors.

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Confirm willingness to fund debt owned to lenders: FRL independent directors to Amazon

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Amazon

 Future Retail’s independent directors have asked e-commerce giant Amazon if it is willing to fund Rs 3,500 crore to repay the retail company’s lenders.

Notably, the question to Amazon was posted after the e-commerce giant in an earlier letter to independent directors objected to the sale of Future Retail Ltd (FRL)’s small-format stores.

“FRL is in need for cash infusion urgently in order to repay its lenders. FRL is required to pay its lenders Rs 3,500 crore by January 29, failing which it will be classified as an NPA,” said the letter dated January 21.

“Since you are objecting to the sale of small-format sales, the proceeds of which were to be used to repay lenders and thereby avoid NPA classification, please confirm that you are willing to fund this amount by Monday through an unsecured, long-term loan, subordinated to FRL’s existing lenders or any other mutually suitable and legally acceptable structure.”

Besides, the letter to e-commerce giant said, “If you do so, FRL will use such funds in order to repay FRL’s existing lenders. Alternatively, you are also free to engage with the lenders so that we do not fall foul of our OTR process or obligations.”

Accordingly, the independent directors asked the e-commerce giant to provide the confirmations for such funds by January 22, 2022.

“Once you have provided these confirmations in writing and agree to infuse Rs 3,500 crore in order to repay FRL’s lenders by January 29, 2022, we would be happy to assess a detailed proposal and meet Amazon India Head Abhijeet Muzumdar.”

Furthermore, the letter asked Amazon, “Coming to the specific aspects of your proposal — we note that your letter refers to a potential transaction between Samara Capital and FRL as a ‘solution’.”

“In this regard, you are requested to confirm if Amazon can act on behalf of Samara Capital and has the authority to negotiate and finalise such transaction on its behalf.”

It asked Amazon to confirm the structure for the proposed transaction, and that the Manager of Samara Capital is owned-and-controlled by resident Indians.

“As you know, FRL is in the multi-brand retail sector and FDI in this sector is restricted. You are also aware that Amazon’s transaction in Future Coupons, has resulted in regulatory scrutiny, including by the Competition Commission of India, as well as enquiries by the Enforcement Directorate.”

“It is therefore critical that any investment being proposed is in compliance with all applicable laws, including FDI laws, CCI regulations and SEBI regulations, and that any such transaction should not raise further regulatory scrutiny.”

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Vodafone Idea’s net losses widen YoY in Q3FY22, ARPU improves sequentially

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Telecom service provider Vodafone Idea’s net losses widened year-on-year to Rs 7,230 crore during the Q3FY22.

In the same quarter last fiscal, it was Rs 4,532 crore. In Q2FY22, it was Rs 7,132 crore.

Revenue from operations during the quarter declined to Rs 9,717 from Rs 10,894 crore in the same period in the corresponding fiscal.

However, Average Revenue Per User during the quarter stood at Rs 115, as against Rs 109 in Q2FY22, an increase of 5.2 per cent quarter-on-quarter.

“We remain focused on executing our strategy to improve our competitive position and win in the marketplace. Separately, we have opted for upfront conversion of interest arising from deferment of spectrum and AGR dues into equity,” MD and CEO Ravinder Takkar said.

“Revenue for the quarter was Rs 97.2 billion, a quarter-on-quarter improvement of 3.3 per cent, aided by several tariff interventions including the recent tariff hikes taken by all operators in November 2021.”

The telecom company continued to invest in 4G to increase its coverage and capacity, it said in a statement.

“During the quarter, we added 4,000 4G FDD sites primarily through refarming of 2G/3G spectrum to expand our 4G coverage and capacity as well as continued to upgrade our core and transmission network,” the company said.

In late November 2021, Vofafone Idea, along with Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, raised tariffs on prepaid customers by around 20 per cent.

The upward revision in tariffs helped Vodafone Idea in increasing its ARPU by five per cent in Q3FY22, it said.

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