Coronavirus: Alibaba develops cloud and AI solutions
One such appl...
Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba is to give medical personnel access to cloud and AI applications useful in the fight against coronavirus.
One such application involves Dingtalk, an Alibaba platform for communication and collaboration intended for use in an enterprise situation. During the coronavirus pandemic, the app is also being used to keep students in touch with teachers (which they are not always thrilled about). The International Medical Expert Communication Platform has been created on the platform to enable free communication for medical workers with doctors in China who have been on the frontline of the pandemic. The communication is facilitated by real-time AI language translation into 11 languages including Chinese, English, French and Arabic.
Three more initiatives have been developed by DAMO Academy, meanwhile, which is a research and development programme instituted in 2017 - at which time the company promised to put $15bn into the project over the ensuing three years. The initials in the name stand for discovery, adventure, momentum and outlook.
The Epidemic Prediction Solution offers a means of modeling the spread of coronavirus in a region to gain estimates of the size, duration and peak of an outbreak. Using machine learning, the algorithm, which has been tested against real world data from 31 Chinese provinces, was found to be98% accurate. Also using machine learning is the company’s CT Image Analytics Solution, which can predict the probability of different types of pneumonia to help with the diagnosis of coronavirus. A genome sequencing algorithm has also been made available to aid in the study and diagnosis of coronavirus.
Finally, Alibaba Cloud is the ecommerce giant’s infrastructure-as-a-service provider, offering enterprise access to a suite of cloud computing services. The service is offering scalable supercomputing power for the design of drugs and diagnosis of the disease.
Former Alibaba CEO Jack Ma has, in recent days, been burnishing his philanthropic credentials by donating supplies to locations across the world, including the US and Europe, via his charitable foundation.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”