軟件定義儲存:起步篇

(文章亦同時被 Unwire Pro引用)

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近期在企業 IT 市場,軟件定義儲存(SDS)處於上升趨勢。不少具前瞻視野的企業,基於節省IT成本、自動化,及令基礎設施更具靈活性的考慮,紛紛採用 SDS。SDS 提供過渡方案,讓企業能從儲存區域網絡(SAN)及網絡接入儲存(NAS),轉型到以伺服器為重心的向外擴容結構。

如果你正在考慮採用 SDS 方案,業界不少IT部門主管通常是從以下的情況,檢視儲存環境的現況:

  • 甚麼是軟件定義儲存(SDS)方案?
  • 如何從 SDS 方案獲益?
  • 如何㨂選合適的 SDS 方案?

數據儲存市場的轉型

以前很多 IT 主管相信,採用儲存區域網絡(SAN)作為共享儲存裝置,能克服昔日直連式儲存(DAS)帶來的限制。初期方案多以區塊為基礎的儲存方案配置,後期則配以檔案為基礎的網絡接入儲存(NAS)。

由於企業數據以幾何倍數增長,其中大量屬半結構性或非結構性數據,令企業的存儲要求有增無減。此外,數據儲存的應用也變得更為多元,傳統的供應與消耗模式,已應付不到現有需求。

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網絡防衞短篇:CIO 的噩夢

(文章亦同時被 Unwire Pro引用)

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許多機構都有為重要數據安排備份,但為甚麼遭到網絡攻擊時,仍有重要數據遭到清洗?以下是個虛構故事,描寫的卻是企業 IT 人在現代網絡環境中,可能面對的實際情況。

Martin 在一間大型航空公司任職 CIO,公司 IT 服務近年在機構乘客意見調查中取得優秀評價。星期五的工作接近尾聲,當 Martin 準備下班後度周末,他看到來自保安系統的電郵 ── 「高度注意:網絡安全事故」。

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資訊保安事故 應變計劃四錦囊

(文章亦同時被 Unwire Pro引用)

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假設你的機構,制訂了網絡保安事故的應變計劃。計劃是否有效,有沒有遺漏的地方?當機構發生數據外洩或保安事故,會發生甚麼事?很多機構雖然有制訂一些應變措施,但這些計劃甚少經過測試,到真正需要執行時,負責人往往沒有十足的信心和把握。

波耐蒙研究所 (Ponemon Institute) 今年較早時間發表一項有關網絡防衞能力的研究報告,在環球八個國家或地區,訪問二千八百多位從事IT及資訊保安的人士。77%受訪者表示他們的機構,沒有制訂正式的網絡保安事故應變計劃;接近一半受訪者的機構,只有非正式、臨時湊合的應變計劃,甚至沒有任何計劃。

波耐蒙報告又發現,亞太地區受訪者對所屬機構的網絡防衞能力,評分在八個地區排行最低,只有31%。44%亞太被訪者認為網絡保安事故對業務或IT服務,造成「非常頻繁」或「頻繁」的破壞。

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善用區塊鏈 追蹤珠寶供應流程

(文章於2018年8月23日在香港經濟日報刊登)

Blood diamonds

身為消費者,如何避免買到含化學毒物的食品、魚目混珠的冒牌皮包、盜竊轉手的贓物,或為內戰國提供軍事經費的鑽石?現代消費品供應鏈很複雜,單靠產品標籤和商戶品牌,難獲百分百保證。但未來數年,區塊鏈將帶來巨大變革。

IBM 商業價值研究院進行區塊鏈研究,訪問 16 國的 203 家消費品生產及零售機構,發現當中 18% 正投放資源籌備區塊鏈,7% 已用於具規模的商業運作。受訪機構認為區塊鏈最能帶來轉變的,是產品安全及防偽。

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深度學習:拆解健康密碼

(文章於2018年8月16日在香港經濟日報刊登)

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用內窺鏡和大腸鏡檢查人體內部,始自1880年代,病理學家須接受長期訓練,用顯微鏡和侵入性測試辦別腫瘤。隨城市人口與內科疾病增加,診斷專家日漸吃緊,肉眼有時難免誤診。能否將深度學習 (Deep Learning) 技術用於診斷影像?

深度學習模仿人類腦部神經元互相連結,迅速處理及傳遞訊息。人工神經網絡利用層次、連結和方向傳遞數據,由第一層出發,每層進行不同工序,直到最後一層,數據成為輸出的洞見。分析醫療影像約需100層人工神經網絡。

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Watson Health 致力於利用人工智能應付重大醫療挑戰

(原文)

筆者希望借助本文來介紹 Watson Health 的最近發展並消除一些誤解。如果您只是閱讀了近期的某些報導,那麼,您對 Watson Health 的看法,尤其是針對我們的 Watson 腫瘤解決方案 (Watson for Oncology) 產品,可能既不全面也不準確。

三年前,IBM 成立了 Watson Health,目標非常明確:找到人工智能與其他技術的最佳整合方式,協助醫療及健康領域的專業人士應付全球最嚴峻的醫療挑戰。在 Watson Health 所涉及的每一個領域, 我們的努力均已開始產生影響,例如:

  • 幫助糖尿病患者更好地控制血糖
  • 透過一系列腫瘤學產品為醫生提供訊息,協助其對癌症進行臨床診療
  • 支持重要的新發現,以加速研發治療肌萎縮性脊髓側索硬化症(Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS)及帕金遜症(Parkinson)等疾病的新療法

Watson Health

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Wizdraw and IBM Use Blockchain to Improve Financial Inclusivity

FINTECH technology with businessman holding the sysbol

Remittance among the unbanked and migrant workers is big business. The World Bank estimates that officially recorded remittances to low- and middle-income countries reached US$466 billion in 2017, an increase of 8.5 percent over US$429 billion in 2016.

Residents of low- and middle-income countries also endure high remittance charges—and it is only getting pricier every year. The same report showed that the global average price of sending US$200 was 7.1 percent in Q1 of 2018, more than twice as high as the Sustainable Development Goal target of 3 percent.

Seeing the Bigger Picture

Reducing remittance fees faces two immediate challenges: de-risking by banks and exclusive partnerships between national post office systems and money transfer operators.

But there is a third factor that is often overlooked: poor financial planning.

It often sees many unbanked ending up in debt or with very little savings after years of working hard because of a variety of actions, like taking on unnecessary high-interest loans or not having proper insurance coverage.

To tackle these concerns head on, a group of remittance experts and big data scientists started Wizdraw. It aims to reduce fees, help banks mitigate better and introduce sound financial planning practice for migrant workers. All the company needed is a partner to drive this holistically.

That is how Wizdraw came to talk to IBM.

Blockchain to the Rescue

Banks’ reluctance to remit for an unbanked or migrant worker comes down to a single issue: transparency of the source of funds. Without it, banks risk running afoul on anti-money laundering (AML) laws as they will be unable to show where the money originates. If found guilty, banks face hefty fines that can ruin reputations.

It is why Wizdraw saw immediate opportunity when IBM proposed blockchain technology. Blockchain tackled fund source transparency in a unique yet intuitive way.

Blockchain writes every transaction in a block in such a way that makes it unique and unalterable, rendering it immutable. New transactions will add new information or “facts” to the block, making it traceable. It is the reason why many compare blockchain to a general ledger.

The Wizdraw solution uses the open source technology that is maintained by over 35 organizations. IBM was one of the original contributors and champions it in all its blockchain programs.

Hyperledger Fabric uses a configurable and modular architecture. It also uses smart contracts authored in Java, Go or Node.js, rather than esoteric domain-specific languages (DSL) like Ethereum Solidity, allowing Wizdraw and other participants to engage a ready pool of developers.

Finally, Wizdraw offers a big advantage unlike other startups. It already works with an established network of banks. IBM’s Blockchain solution only needs to leverage it.

Currently, the project is in the prototype phase. Wizdraw is already working with a number of their banking partners to build the right platform and model. A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is due later this year. Wizdraw will also develop an intuitive user interface with the MVP as it works toward compliance.

For users, the solution will be available through Wizdraw’s app. Once the blockchain architecture is approved, the company will upgrade the app. Users will not see any difference except better remittance fees, while banks can begin mitigating risks better with better transparency.

AI for Financial Literacy

As noted earlier, lowering remittance fees is only part of the solution. It is also a short-term answer. To improve migrant worker livelihoods for the long-term, financial literacy must be improved.

Users must be able to easily track expenditure, make investment decisions using insights from crowds and improve overall financial planning. Here, IBM’s Watson, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) platform holds enormous promise.

The benefactors, in the end, will be the migrant workers and the unbanked by bringing them a step closer to financial inclusivity.

 

David Chow IBM copy

David Chow, Managing Director, IBM Global Business Services – Hong Kong