IBM Announces Patent Successes and Strategies

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  January 15, 2020

Patents and patent applications play obvious roles in the development of successful products and services. How so? Because original or unique intellectual properties (IP) are among the most powerful tools companies have for differentiating their solutions in markets that are often crowded with similar offerings.

But the tangible value of IP also has a downside—inspiring the parasitic business model of so-called patent assertions entities (PAEs) or “patent trolls.” These are individuals and groups that assemble collections of patent rights, then demand payments from or threaten litigation against companies that are supposedly infringing on those rights.

Can organizations do anything to suppress or escape such IP predators? Absolutely. This week, IBM announced that along with its 8,500+ inventors and researchers receiving a record 9,262 U.S. patents in 2019 (marking the company’s 27th consecutive year of patent generation leadership), it has joined the LOT (License on Transfer) Network, a nonprofit organization that combats patent trolling by cross-licensing patents that fall into the hands of PAEs.

Let’s consider IBM’s patent success, its membership in the LOT Network and what that means for the company and IP development. Continue reading

Dell at CES 2020 – New Premium Latitude Line and XPS 13

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  January 8, 2020

Prior to the holidays, I published a commentary on a blog by Dell COO and co-chairman Jeff Clarke that expressed his thoughts on six trends that would shape the tech industry in 2020 and the coming decade. Among them was the emergence of increasingly intelligent devices that will change the way that people work and collaborate.

At CES 2020 this week in Las Vegas, Dell’s client computing organization demonstrated how the company will deliver on those trends with new and enhanced solutions that expand the boundaries of what businesses and consumers can expect from notebook PCs and peripherals, including devices that increasingly personalize users’ experience. Let’s consider two of the products Dell announced; the new premium Latitude 9000 line and an updated version of its popular XPS 13.

The evolution of outward-facing, internally enhanced endpoints

New technologies and features have long been panaceas in the IT industry since they emphasize the constant, continuing evolution of tech vendors, along with the material improvements their products provide to customers and end users.

But the rise of cloud and other remote services means that the inherent value of new PCs and other endpoint offerings increasingly depends on their ability to successfully access and collaborate with external sources. In many cases, this means tapping into public cloud platforms, like AWS and Azure, and SaaS solutions, from de facto standard platforms like Microsoft Office 365 to specialists such as ServiceNow to powerful business suites, including Salesforce.

However, vendors are developing powerful in-house solutions to amplify the value of their own solutions. For example, Dell has long offered automated software and firmware updates for its PCs and notebooks, but the solutions designed for its Latitude line highlight the critical importance of product flexibility and reliability for business customers.

Some of those features are tied closely into the company’s ProSupport services while others leverage optional partner technologies, such as Intel’s vPro remote management solutions. Other enhanced business user options, including custom configuration, deployment and management services are tied into the Unified Workspace lifecycle management and Technologies On Demand solutions that Dell debuted last year.

Latitude 9510 – Delivering increasingly “personalized” computing

The company’s new Latitude 9000 line highlighted at CES drives Dell’s premium business notebooks into both very familiar and substantial new directions. In the former case, the company continues to imbue Latitude solutions with features developed for its signature XPS notebooks, including better battery life and innovative designs that manage to fit ever larger Dell Infinity displays into ever thinner and lighter form factors.

In the case of the new Latitude 9510, that means squeezing a 15.6-inch, 16:9, 1920 x 1080 display into a 13.4 x 8.5 x 0.6~0.7-inch frame with weight starting at 3.2 pounds. Dell claims that the 9510 can deliver up to 30 hours of battery life. Along with featuring the latest 10th Gen Intel Core™ i7 processors, the company emphasized that the 9510 is both 5G ready and supports LTE options for users that need to stay connected wherever they go.

Also announced was the new Dell Optimizer which it calls an “industry first” built-in and automated AI-based optimization solution that enables system performance to be tuned according a user’s personal habits and preferences. Features include:

  • ExpressResponse which leverages user preferences and machine learning processes (supported by Intel Adaptix) to launch frequently used applications faster, switch quickly between applications and improve overall application performance to boost productivity.
  • ExpressCharge which utilizes AI and machine learning to improve battery life based on a user’s battery charge patterns and power usage habits. It also supports ExpressCharge Boost, which provides up to a 35% charge in 20 minutes to get systems up and running quickly.
  • ExpressSign-in senses a qualified user’s presence, enabling faster, secure log-in via Dell’s PC proximity sensor enabled by Intel Context Sensing and Microsoft Windows Hello.
  • Intelligent Audio allows users to hear and be heard better on conference calls by helping to eliminate echoes and background noise.

The Dell Latitude 9510 will be available globally on March 26th in both notebook and 2-in-1 configurations, starting at US $1,799.00. I plan to write an in-depth consideration of the 9510 in a future issue of the Pund-IT Review.

New XPS 13 9300 features a virtually borderless InfinityEdge display

Dell introduced QHD+ InfinityEdge displays in 2015 with the XPS 13 9343, a move that quickly drove competitors to develop notebooks with similarly thin bezels. The company has steadily improved InfinityEdge since then, most notably in last year’s XPS 13 9380 which positioned a new tiny webcam at the top of the display. Over time, Dell has incorporated InfinityEdge in other product lines, including Latitude and Inspiron notebooks, and its UltraSharp displays.

The new XPS 13 (9300) introduced at CES 2020 includes a larger 16:10 InfinityEdge display with narrow bezels on every side, further reducing its borders and enabling a smaller and thinner form factor than previous XPS solutions. Along with squeezing more premium display goodness into less and less space (this new model enables a 13.4-inch display to fit into an 11-inch frame), Dell’s innovations also have practical benefits: the new XPS 13 fits neatly on a standard airplane tray, a point that business travelers should appreciate.

XPS 13 customers will enjoy Intel’s latest (10th Gen) Core processors and the blend of power, performance and long battery life that executives, business owners, travelers and creatives have come to expect from Dell. The new system also offers significant new enhancements, including a larger touchpad, an edge-to-edge keyboard and one-handed opening function. Finally, the new XPS 13’s packaging continues Dell’s commitment to more sustainable materials, making it easier for customers to recycle.

Dell’s XPS 13 featuring Microsoft Windows 10 starts at US $999.99. It will be available in the U.S., Canada, Sweden, UK, Germany and France Jan. 7, and available globally in February. The XPS 13 Developer Edition featuring Ubuntu 18.04LTS starts at US $1,199.99, available in the U.S., Canada and select European countries on February 17.

Final analysis

Dell’s new Latitude 9510 and XPS 13 deliver both expected and unexpected benefits. The former solution is particularly impressive which is not surprising since it qualifies as the first iteration of a new line of premium business notebooks. While the Latitude 9510 continues the company’s history of successfully leveraging features developed in other product lines, the most significant innovations are “under the hood” in the Dell Optimizer’s AI- and machine learning-enabled functions. If these new technologies perform and succeed as the company intends, I expect they will eventually provide the foundation for ever more personalized solutions in other Dell products.

Some might consider the improvements in the new XPS 13 to be essentially incremental and cosmetic, but I believe that shortchanges what Dell has achieved with this standout product line. Simply put, the arrival of the first XPS 13 early in 2012 marked a commitment by Dell to expand its vision of personal computers and to explore and develop new technologies that would set it apart from individual competitors and the larger PC industry.

In some cases, those new features and functions mark substantial or even radical departures from what the company did before. In others, they simply serve to make life and work easier for consumer and business users. All reflect Dell’s technological excellence but also reveal the company’s insights into the needs of its customers’ requirements and needs. That should serve the company well as the market for increasingly intelligent devices grows, and Dell’s commitment to increasingly personalized computing continues.

© 2020 Pund-IT®. All rights reserved.

Dell’s Jeff Clarke Looks to 2020 and the “Next Data Decade”

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  December 18, 2019

Opinions aren’t exactly hard to come by in technology, especially in December when a veritable cottage industry arises around predictions for the coming year. That amps up a little further at a decade’s end, with pieces that look both fondly back and adventurously ahead. But the fact is that while opinions are (as usual) easy enough to find, insightful forecasts of longer-term trends tend to be pretty thin on the ground.

There are practical reasons for that: The tech industry doesn’t have much use for history; understanding context is hard and casting it forward is even harder; IT increasingly favors specialization which inhibits generalist viewpoints. Despite those issues, the industry is home to numerous deeply intelligent and experienced people whose opinions on current conditions and emerging trends are worthy of attention.

One of those is Jeff Clarke, Dell Technologies’ chief operating officer and vice chairman who is responsible for the company’s global supply chain and product organizations: Infrastructure Solutions Group and Client Solutions Group. Continue reading

IBM Cloud Pak for Security: Comprehensive Protection Wherever Data Resides

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  December 11, 2019

The routes that organizations are taking to cloud computing are pretty well set. Rather than flocking to individual public clouds as evangelists once envisioned, enterprises are instead maintaining data on premises in various systems and private clouds while also engaging with multiple public cloud platforms. A larger question remains in how and how well valuable data and application assets can be protected when they are widely dispersed in these hybrid multi-cloud environments. That issue is especially pointed considering the increasing frequency and sophistication of attacks by cyber-criminal and rogue states.

Fortunately for businesses, security vendors including IBM are pushing forward individually and in partnerships to address these challenges. IBM’s recently announced Cloud Pak for Security incorporates its own formidable assets and also integrates new open source security technologies developed by both the company and its strategic partners. The new platform is part of a family of six IBM Cloud Paks, one being IBM Cloud Pak for Data, a platform that enables customers to comprehensively explore, manage, analyze and govern myriad data assets across their organizations.

I’ll be writing more about IBM Cloud Paks, including the Cloud Pak for Data in the coming months. For now, let’s consider IBM Cloud Pak for Security and what it offers hybrid multi-cloud customers. Continue reading

Dell Technologies Summit – Balancing Today’s Achievements and Tomorrow’s Goals

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  November 20, 2019

Tech vendors are so relentlessly focused on the future that it’s sometimes easy to forget the pragmatic demands that drive them. Sure, many customers and partners are curious about what vendors see on the horizon. But most are more concerned about the here and now and how vendors are helping them keep their organizations up, running and doing business.

Balancing daily requirements while cultivating future development is a challenge that some vendors are better at than others, and Dell is a case in point. Shortly after returning to the company’s CEO position in 2007, Michael Dell set out to transform Dell from a market leading PC maker into an end-to-end IT systems provider. In 2013, after taking the company private, Dell announced the 2020 Legacy of Good Plan – long term corporate, social and environmental goals designed to improve the company’s products, processes and communities and to help customers and partners improve theirs.

Last week at the Dell Technologies Summit in Austin, Michael Dell and his leadership team discussed the company’s latest achievements, including launching a new 2030 Progress Made Real plan detailing the ambitious goals that Dell plans to pursue during the coming decade. Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading

Dell’s PowerOne: Tooling-Up for Next Gen, On Demand Computing

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  November 12, 2019

This week, I’m in Austin, Texas for Dell Technologies Summit, a media and analyst event that highlights the company’s plans and strategies for addressing what it calls The Next Data Decade. I’ll write more about that in next week’s Pund-IT Review but for now I’d like to focus on the new PowerONE platform and its attendant Technologies on Demand (ToD) services that Dell announced here, solutions that substantially up the company’s game in areas, including enterprise computing, multi-cloud environments and consumption-based IT services. Continue reading

Lenovo Rethinks Security for IoT Edge Devices and Infrastructures

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  November 12, 2019

Virtually all enterprises have experience with and understand the inherent challenges of managing and maintaining remote IT facilities and assets. However, the continuing momentum of Internet of Things initiatives and solutions at the edge of corporate networks is likely to stretch organizations’ knowledge and assumptions about remote IT to the limits.

Why so? Two points come immediately to mind. First, IoT assets, like edge gateway systems are designed to be deployed and to function in isolation. Sophisticated tools and autonomous features can help ease the management burden for IT but they do little, if anything, to secure devices against tampering or theft. Second, the pre-configured features and settings that enable IoT edge systems to operate on their own often exceed the capabilities of the staff tasked to maintain them. Any mistakes or accidental events may directly impact the success of owners’ IoT initiatives.

A recent blog by Doug Beloskur, IoT Product Manager for Lenovo’s Cloud and Software team discussed these issues and how the company is addressing them. Let’s consider Lenovo’s approach. Continue reading

GTI and Sensory: Making the IoT Edge Smarter and Faster

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  November 6, 2019

Internet of Things (IoT) edge computing is often discussed as a single entity, but it is more diverse and complex than many might assume. A sizable portion of edge computing offerings leverage gateway systems that collect, coalesce and analyze sensor data before sending it on for further analysis and decision making. But increasingly sophisticated processor and software technologies, and artificial intelligence (AI) functions and features are transforming edge computing in both business and consumer endpoint devices.

A good example of this is the recent partnership between AI accelerator chip and technology provider Gyrfalcon Technology Inc. (GTI) and AI solution provider Sensory to deliver low latency/high reliability embedded machine learning capabilities on edge devices. Let’s take a look at what GTI and Sensory provides individually, and what they’re planning to deliver via their partnership.

GTI and Sensory alone

GTI developed its first Edge AI chip in 2017 and has long focused on enabling high performance, low cost, energy efficient AI acceleration for mass market devices. Since its launch in 2017, the company has brought to production neural network acceleration technologies, including the Lightspeeur 2803S AI processor that delivers 24 TOPS/W for high performance at low power. Vendors have been developing mobile and edge AI devices that utilize GTI’s AI Accelerator solutions. In fact, last month LG announced that it will incorporate GTI chips in its new Q70 Smartphone to enable affordable premium image and video features.

Sensory has over two decades of experience developing biometric technologies, including machine learning technologies that support voice, vision and natural language processing. The company’s embedded speech recognition solution (including a well-engineered and patented codebase) has shipped in over 2 billion consumer products. Additionally, Sensory recently perfected an algorithm that can recognize legitimate user faces with the highest levels of accuracy and is central to the company’s TrulySecure authentication solution.

And together

That new algorithm can fully leverage the low latency and high reliability features in GTI’s AI Accelerator chip portfolio, enabling devices to recognize legitimate user faces quickly and accurately. Additionally, the companies’ technologies are particularly well-suited to one another. According to Sensory’s CEO Todd Mozer, “Our TrulySecure solution can run up to four times faster and provide a larger, more accurate model thanks to GTI’s AI accelerator chip.” As a result, endpoint devices such as smart phones that feature the GTI/Sensory offering should support safer and more secure transactions, and also enhance other authentication-focused solutions and services.

Final analysis

The far edges of the Internet of Things are more complex and diverse than many might assume. That’s partly because IoT edge environments continue to evolve as businesses and consumers consider the challenges, needs and use cases that IoT edge solutions can address. In turn, the potential of IoT edge offerings is being improved by the efforts of innovative vendors, like Gyrfalcon and Sensory.

The two companies have both achieved exceptional results individually but by working together, they appear ready to significantly enhance the quality, speed and security of authentication functions featured on smart phones and other mobile and edge computing devices. Those achievements should obviously benefit GTI and Sensory. But they will also measurably and positively impact the organizations and end users that depend on edge computing and IoT solutions.

© 2019 Pund-IT®. All rights reserved.

Answering IBM’s 2019 Call for Code – Prometeo Wins $200k Global Prize

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  October 16, 2019

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area comes with requisite baggage, including usually lousy traffic, often stifling crowds and suffering both the scorn of folks in other places and the continuing inflow of folks from other places who can’t wait to live here.

Then there are the natural disasters California is prone to. Earthquakes top the list, of course. In fact, it seems like there’s an entire sector of the movie industry devoted to depicting California sliding seismically into the Pacific despite Dwayne Johnson’s best efforts. Add in regular droughts, occasional torrential rains and suffocating winter snows and 800+ miles of eroding coast and you have the making of a apocalyptic lottery waiting for a lucky winner.

And then there are the wildfires, including the surreally destructive 2017 Tubbs Fire and the 2018 Camp Fire which have made fire dangers a top of mind consideration for everyone from homeowners to businesspeople to first responders. Which is why IBM’s announcement of the winner of the 2019 Call for Code Global Challenge and $200,000.00 prize—Prometeo, a system that uses IBM artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing solutions and resources to monitor the safety of firefighters—is particularly intriguing.

Let’s take a closer look at Prometeo and consider how IBM and its Call for Code partners are working to reduce the effects of natural disasters. Continue reading

Dell’s New XPS 15 – Premium Performance in a Mobile Package

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  October 2, 2019

As consumers and businesses increasingly adopt mobile computing solutions and services, it’s easy to forget how limited mobile (or portable) PCs once were. Early systems were hefty beasts packed into suitcase-sized enclosures. While the Osbourne 1 arrived in a briefcase-sized form factor, it still clocked in at over 25 pounds making its portability nominal, at best.

What changed things, of course, was the evolution and miniaturization of PC components. Moore’s Law describes the steady improvements silicon vendors achieved in CPU performance, but equal or better innovations were occurring in storage, memory, battery, display and materials technologies. As a result, PC vendors have been able to pack more compute power, greater energy efficiency and better displays into ever slimmer and lighter mobile PCs.

Like most such advances, these developments first appear in high margin business-focused products, including mobile workstations and ruggedized notebooks and tablets designed for industrial applications. But eventually they find their way into “performance”-focused consumer solutions, like the new generation XPS 15 (7590) that Dell introduced at Computex in May. Now that it’s available for purchase, it’s worth considering the impact Dell’s new XPS 15 is likely to have on both consumers and commercial users. Continue reading