Coffee Briefing, June 15, 2021 – Cisco unveils hybrid cloud goodies; GoDaddy upgrades; Mississauga’s smart city update

Coffee Briefings are timely deliveries of the latest ITWC headlines, interviews, and podcasts. These briefings drop on Tuesday mornings. Today’s Coffee Briefing is delivered by IT World Canada reporter Pragya Sehgal, with files from editorial director Alex Coop. Missed last week’s Coffee Briefing? We got you covered.

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In case you missed it

The recent tech news that we maybe didn’t get to yet, or it’s the news we’ve reported on and feel is worth resurfacing.

Government of Canada to bring high-speed internet to hundreds of homes in Zimmerman and areas north of Burlington

Yesterday, the Government of Canada announced it’s investing over $1.3 million to bring high-speed internet to 329 more homes in Zimmerman and areas north of Burlington. The investment is a part of the Universal Broadband Fund’s (UBF) Rapid Response Stream, which has a budget of up to $150 million. The stream aims to enhance household access to high-speed internet in the very short term or before November 15, 2021 to address immediate broadband needs.

UBF is the federal government’s $2.75 billion investment designed to help connect all Canadians to high-speed internet. Applications to the UBF were accepted until March 15, 2021, and are now being evaluated, the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) noted in a press release. A suite of federal investments to improve high-speed internet, UBF includes the Connect to Innovate program – which is expected to connect nearly 400,000 households by 2023 – and the recently announced $2 billion broadband initiative from the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Cisco unveils the Cisco UCS X-Series

Cisco’s chief executive officer Chuck Robbins hasn’t shied away from pointing out the company’s future ambitions related to cloud, noting at Cisco’s partner summit last year that its entire portfolio will eventually be “cloud-managed or cloud-delivered.”

It makes sense then that Cisco would unveil a host of hybrid cloud innovations in early June. Buckle up, there’s a lot:

  • The new Cisco UCS X-Series: Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) is used in data centres globally, and it just got a bit more flexible to use. Fully integrated with Cisco Intersight, UCS X-Series is what Cisco calls a “first-of-its kind system designed for hybrid operations.” UCS X-Series blends the best of rack and blade systems and features UCS X-Fabric technology.
  • Intersight Cloud Orchestrator: Provides a low-code, easy-to-use automation framework that simplifies complex workflows, so IT Ops can easily orchestrate infrastructure and workloads and accelerate delivery of services.
  • Intersight Workload Engine: A platform for modern, cloud-native workloads. Built on an open-source Kubernetes and Kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) foundation using container-native virtualization, Intersight Workload Engine is a Cisco operating system for Hyperflex – Cisco’s hyper-converged infrastructure platform – featuring SaaS management. 
  • Cisco Service Mesh Manager: A new extension to the Intersight Kubernetes Service that delivers observability and simplified management with policy-based security and a neat visualization of services across K8’s clusters on-prem and in the cloud. 
  • Cisco Cloud ACI: Available on AWS, Azure and now on Google Cloud with general availability in the Fall of 2021. Cisco says the cloud ACI common policy and operating model drastically reduces the cost and complexity of managing hybrid and multicloud deployments.


Observability and insights

  • Integration of ThousandEyes internet and cloud intelligence with the Cisco Catalyst 8000 Edge Series for SD-WAN and Cisco Nexus 9000 switches for data centres to provide customers with valuable insights on network health and application performance, monitoring across campus, branch, data centres and every point of the WAN network between the user and applications. 
  • Nexus Dashboard Orchestrator acts as a single pane of glass for configuring and managing common policies across multiple on-prem ACI sites, AWS and Microsoft Azure regions and, announcing today, coming this fall to Google Cloud.
  • Intersight Cloud Orchestrator: Provides a low-code, easy-to-use framework to create and automate complex workflows so IT Ops can easily orchestrate infrastructure and workloads and accelerate delivery of services.


Customer experience (CX) services for cloud

  • CX Business Critical Services for Cloud provide advisory services plus expertise to architect, deploy, secure and optimize digital transformations.
  • CX Intersight Workload Optimizer Services enhance the resource consumption of applications in the cloud.
  • CX Advanced Services for ThousandEyes and SD-WAN deliver the best application experience for cloud solutions, providing expert design and integration to reduce project complexity and speed transformation.
  • Custom Quick Start Solutions provide services for end-to-end automation and infrastructure-as-a-code (IaaC). [Source: Cisco]


GoDaddy customers can now sell their products on Amazon and eBay through the GoDaddy Websites + Marketing

Last week, GoDaddy announced new integrations with Amazon, eBay and Instagram to provide customers access to various online channels using their existing Websites + Marketing product catalogue. The new features make it easier for small businesses to expand and reach additional clients, according to the company. 

The marketplace integration uses GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing site builder combined with e-commerce tools to let businesses list their products and manage orders and shipping across different platforms from one place. Users don’t need to login to each marketplace to track what they have sold, what needs to be shipped or restocked. Inventory is also automatically adjusted and synced as people buy products to ensure overselling out-of-stock items will not be a problem.

In addition to the new Amazon and eBay features, GoDaddy has launched features to make it easier for business owners to connect their stores to social media. The Instagram integration allows users to schedule and publish posts on Instagram while monitoring activity through the Websites + Marketing dashboard. [Read more about the new features here]

The Ontario government announces an additional $40 million investment to support high-tech companies within the province

Last week, the Ontario government announced it is committing $100 million towards a new fund of funds with the aim to support high-potential tech companies in the province.

The breakdown of the $100 million includes a $60 million commitment from 2018 under the Ontario Liberal Party. None of the $60 million has been put towards anything since 2018, Betakit noted in a recent article. The additional $40 million is new funding.

The new Venture Ontario Fund, to be overseen by the province’s venture capital agency Ontario Capital Growth Corporation (OCGC), will be dispersing the $100 million to venture capital funds with a focus on high-growth sectors, including sciences, medical devices, IT, AI and clean technology, according to a June 9 news release. [More on the new fund here]

Federal government invests $2.4 million for business scale-up and productivity in Manitoba

The Government of Canada has announced over $2.4 million in repayable funding through Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) for three projects under the Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) program. WD makes strategic investments in key economic sectors and also supports the development of leading industry geographic clusters through its BSP program. The funding will support job creation and market growth in Western Canada, according to a June 10 press release. 

The three projects are: 

Mississauga becomes the only Canadian municipality to achieve the World Council on City Data ISO Certification on Data for Smart Cities

Mississauga has received the World Council on City Data (WCCD) ISO 37122 Certification on Data for Smart Cities, the City of Mississauga announced June 9. 

The concept of a smart city is being embraced by cities globally. Beyond the city level, many national governments and international organizations have also adopted smart city development as a key policy priority. However, until now, there has been a lack of global coherence around this concept, in particular in terms of the following two fundamentals, according to WCCD:

  • A general lack of clarity on the definition of what a “smart city” truly is.
  • A lack of internationally-standardized indicators to measure progress, drive smart city investment, drive city-to-city learning and create tools for year-over-year benchmarking.

WCCD says it’s operationalized ISO 37122 indicators for smart cities globally to address these urgent needs, thereby coordinating the global effort to build open, high-calibre, independently verified and globally comparable city data.

Cities successfully ISO 37120 certified and part of the WCCD global network are eligible for ISO 37122 certification and positioned to lead in smart city development globally with ISO standardized, comparative, and independently verified city data. These are essential starting points for smart city development. ISO 37120 includes 104 key performance indicators (KPIs) across 19 themes – all prioritized by cities to measure performance on city services and quality of life, according to WCCD. [More on it here]

Digital infrastructure company Equinix launches Montreal as second metro to offer Equinix Fabric in Canada

Equinix recently expanded Equinix Fabric to Montreal, which joins Toronto as the second Canadian city to offer Equinix Fabric. The service was made available to Quebec-based customers starting May 13.

Equinix Fabric is a software-defined interconnection service that allows any business to connect between its own distributed infrastructure and to any other company’s infrastructure on Platform Equinix. With Equinix Fabric, the company says customers will be able to connect their digital infrastructure and services to any other company’s infrastructure on Platform Equinix software speed via software-defined interconnection. Currently, Equinix Fabric supports approximately 31,100 customer connections. By the end of 2021, Equinix says it expects to have Equinix Fabric available in four additional Canadian metros, including Calgary, Kamloops, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. [Read more about it here]

ICYMI – IT World Canada

Microsoft Canada and Computers for Success Canada look to get refurbished hardware to underserved communities [Full story]

Microsoft Canada recently announced the CEO Pledge, a joint effort with Computers for Success Canada (CFSC-OPEC), to help close the digital skills gap by providing devices to underserved communities.

Herjavec research says manufacturing firms were biggest ransomware targets in first half of 2021 [Full story]

Companies that produce manufactured goods were the biggest targets of ransomware attacks in the first half of the year, according to a new report from a Canadian-based international managed services provider.

SAP talks supply chain, culture, sustainability at Sapphire Now [Full story]

While there were product announcements at SAP’s annual conference, Sapphire Now, two major focuses were sustainability and supply chains, and the people and business processes operating behind the scenes.

ICYMI – IT Business Canada

Reducing cheating in online exams needs to start young, says educator [Full story]

Remote proctors are easily defeated, and with the demand for online test bank services that provide test answers on the rise, students are left wondering about the value of test scores.

Microsoft and Toronto non-profit partners to help firms set up workplace rapid screening program in as little as a week [Full story]

Last week, Microsoft, together with Toronto-based not-for-profit initiative Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) Rapid Screening Consortium (RSC), introduced a new offering that enables employers to provide rapid COVID-19 antigen screens for employees before they enter the workspace.

From lost keys to forgotten diplomas, Uber’s Lost and Found index for Canada highlights forgetful riders [Full slideshow]

Stress and forgetfulness go hand-and-hand; this year, Uber riders know the feeling. Uber has released their fifth annual Lost and Found index for Canada, and the list of forgotten items have quite a range with Canadians leaving behind things people wouldn’t normally forget.

ICYMI – Channel Daily News

Dell launches telco infrastructure solutions [Full story]

Dell Technologies has leapt further into the lucrative telecom space with the announcement of products and services aimed at helping providers modernize their infrastructure and prepare for 5G.

Quebec-based digital commerce firm OSF Digital makes second acquisition since last month [Full story]

Global digital commerce-focused systems integrator OSF Digital has acquired Toronto-based personalized marketing solutions firm Relation1 to strengthen its marketing cloud services in North America. 

Commvault introduces enhancements to MSP and aggregator partner programs [Full story]

Data management software firm Commvault this week announced enhancements to its Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Aggregator Partner Advantage Programs.


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