Welcome to the Dynamic Digest, a weekly recap of the latest news happening in our industry. Want the pulse of what’s going on in enterprise software and analytics, performance management, cloud computing, data, and other like topics? We got you covered!
This week in the world of technology, the Safe Harbor Agreement was replaced, Microsoft experimented with underwater data centers, digital transformation required total organizational commitment, and Obama pledged $4B to computer science in schools.
New European, U.S. data transfer pact agreed – Reuters, February 2
Goodbye Safe Harbor, hello Privacy Shield. After months of relentless debate, the European Union and the United States have agreed on a new data transfer deal dubbed the “EU-US Privacy Shield” that allows for the continuation of data transfers between Europe and the US. Since the European Court of Justice deemed the Safe Harbor agreement invalid last October, many US companies were left wondering how the transfer of European citizens’ data to American companies would be facilitated – fearing legal consequences and potential long-term restrictions. With a January deadline looming above their heads, EU and US regulators raced to finalize a new deal. So far, the new deal includes a new national security watchdog, annual joint reviews and written assurances from the US on the protection and limitations on mass surveillance. Now with a framework in place, a full draft of the decision is required, in addition to political approval by the Union’s 28 members (which is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks).
Key takeaway: While it’s great that the two geographical powerhouses were able to negotiate a deal, many European citizens are worried it still won’t be enough to meet the strict data regulations they hold. However, the European Commission ensured citizens that the new Privacy Shield would be a better-policed system – placing stronger obligations on the US companies, including heavier compliance measures and stronger protection monitoring. But will it be enough? With only an outline plan in place, it’s still too early to tell – many legal challenges may be in the foreseeable future.
Microsoft is experimenting with underwater data centers – The Verge, February 1
Microsoft is diving deep into the ocean (literally). This week, the company unveiled Project Natick – a research project to determine the feasibility of underwater data centers. An idea since 2013, the company made the project a reality in August 2015 when they built Leona Philpot, their first submarine server placed 30 feet underwater off the California coast. The data center ran for a total of 105 days and while it only contained a single computing rack, the company’s expectations were far exceeded. But the question remains, why underwater? Apparently, they’re easier to deploy, stay consistently cool (decrease the chance of overheating), and could potentially reduce emissions by using nearby renewable resources. Furthermore, Microsoft hopes for these data centers to be 100% automated and operating “lights out” – meaning no human IT assistance – but the project is still in the early developmental stages. Microsoft is already working on another capsule three times larger than Leona with the hopes to take it down under in about a year.
Key takeaway: As demand for data grows with the increase in cloud computing, it makes sense for a tech pioneer such as Microsoft to look into various cost effective and environmentally conscious alternatives. However, the concern for some is if the large capsules will cause environmental implications and affect sea life. Microsoft announced there were no environmental impacts when testing Leona but it’s still too early in the stage to determine long-term effects.
Digital Transformation Requires Total Organizational Commitment – TechCrunch, January 31
As more companies join the journey to digital transformation, one question remains at large – how do you succeed in transforming into a digitally-driven organization? The idea that every company will be a software company causes enormous amounts of disruptive pressure and change, especially when so accustomed to the traditional ways of doing business. The general method for dealing with such disruption has become a more comprehensive approach, by creating pockets of innovation inside a company, instead of trying to change the whole company at once. It’s now about looking at the big picture, examining each department and business processes, and understanding how each change will impact the business as a whole. However, the biggest challenge is trying to get a large organization to move in the same direction across departments, all while being aligned. In particular, the executive team needs to have a plan for the future, injecting innovative thinking into every process and re-examining every current process in the organization. Additionally, it’s imperative to understand that it is just as much a people change as it is a technological change – companies must find ways to help people across the digital divide and adjust to the rapid change. It is a process that takes time and experimentation, but it is a necessary change that organizations need to adopt to successfully become digitally transformed.
Key takeaway: Digital transformation is about injecting new and creative thinking into every process of the organization. Taking a more comprehensive approach to disruption, allows for people to look at things from a fresh perspective. As hard as it is to dismiss behaviors and roles that are thoroughly ingrained, people must be open to change and acknowledge that it has always been there. The rate of change is only accelerated because of the disruption brought about by digital transformation – embrace it.
Obama Pledges $4 Billion to Computer Science in US Schools – WIRED, January 30
In his weekly radio address, President Obama announced a $4 billion plan to restructure computer science education across the country. The three-year initiative, called Computer Science for All, would increase computer science access in elementary, middle, and high schools. Funding would be distributed on a statewide basis to help train teachers, supply resources and develop new classroom materials. In addition to federal funding, the initiative includes monetary support from both philanthropists and major tech companies, including Microsoft and Google as early supporters. The pledge comes weeks after the State of the Union address, where Obama highlighted the need to push for better computer science programs. The initiative is the latest effort in helping bridge the technology gap, particularly among women and minorities.
Key takeaway: The initiative is designed to give states the necessary resources to help make computing science a core part of school curriculum. It’s about making sure that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science – beyond just the use of computers, but the computational thinking, problem-solving and analytical coding skills that are derived from such education.
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