Live / Covid-19 Coronavirus news: How the data centre world is dealing with the pandemic


There were 5,106,100 cases of people infected with Covid-19 and 330,004 dead, as of 21 May, 11:11 (BST).

With the world going into lockdown, Data Economy will be bringing you the latest on the events that impact the data centre sector, the market moves and how operators are answering to the crisis.

May 14 – Cisco’s Webex sees peaks double caused by COVID-19 pandemic

Today’s workers are coping with everything from home schooling and sick parents to isolation and fear, and collaborative tools like Webex has seen is surge in its usage.

The latest figures on Cisco and Webex usage over the pandemic:

• 80% of all internet traffic touches Cisco technology
• Cisco Webex has handled peaks of 4.2 million meetings a day – more than twice the average peak before the pandemic
• Cisco hosted more than 20 billion meeting minutes in April. For comparison’s sake, it hosted 14 billion meeting minutes in March, more than double the number in February.
• Webex has grown globally – 2.5 times in the Americas, four times in Europe and 3.5 times in Asia Pacific
• Predominantly its growth is sourced from enterprise expansion, education and telehealth
• Cisco has added more than 15 million new security users over the past two months
• Duo Security, our multi-factor authentication solution, saw more than 3,300 new organisations signing up in a single peak week
• Webex is trusted by 95% of the Fortune 500
• Cisco has committed $232 million in cash, in-kind and planned giving to support both the global and local response to COVID-19

“When you’re in a crisis, you want to communicate with your teams more than ever before and to show more flexibility,” said Cisco Chief Communications Officer Stella Low.

“We’re having big meetings where we’re talking about strategy and keeping people informed. We’re also having smaller meetings.

“We’re giving people time at the beginning of meetings to tell us how they’re feeling, and connecting at the individual level.”

14 May – One-week rebate for service disruptions

DESCRIPTION M1 has extended a one-week rebate to customers affected by outages on May 12 and 13. The customers will receive a rebate for one week of service in their June bill

M1 said the first incident on 12 May impacted a specific group of customers and was resolved overnight to avoid large-scale disruption in the peak hours. The second, unrelated, incident occurred the next morning and was resolved by 2pm on the same day. The disruptions were not caused by any dated equipment, shortage of capacity or cyber-attack.

Outages have become a part of life online during Covid-19 lockdowns, with several new records set: in the third week of April outages around the world reached new record levels , despite relatively strong performance from global networks during the first weeks of Covid-19 lockdowns. The data, compiled and published by ThousandEyes, showed UK outages increased 62% and global outages 11% since week commencing April 13.

“We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience the disruption has caused to our users and thank them for their patience and understanding. Our priority now is to ensure service reliability and we are taking extra measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents. We are also cooperating fully with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) for further investigations,” said Mr Manjot Singh Mann, M1 CEO.

May 12 – Databricks launches Global University Engagement Program to train Data Scientists

Data and AI company Databricks has announced the Databricks University Alliance, a global program to help university students get hands-on experience using Databricks for both in-person learning and in virtual classrooms.

The program aims to expose students to the online tools and cloud platforms that enable highly scalable data science and machine learning, allowing them to gain critical knowledge and experience needed to drive innovation as they join data teams across the global workforce.

“At Databricks, our mission to help data teams solve the world’s toughest problems extends far beyond the present. We are committed to driving the next generation of business innovation through machine learning and AI,” said Matei Zaharia, chief technologist at Databricks and assistant professor of Computer Science at Stanford University.

“Our goal with this program is to continue to help build the capacity of qualified and prepared data scientists, engineers, and analysts who can work with industry-scale data sets on public cloud environments.”

Through partnerships with cloud companies, the Databricks University Alliance is set to help increase the pipeline of students trained on the cutting-edge of data analytics.

By giving students access to tutorials, content and training materials on open source tools, including Apache Spark, Delta Lake and MLflow, companies benefit from having a more competent pool of data science and machine learning professionals that they can hire in the marketplace.

“We work hard to prepare our students for success in an extremely competitive and skilled workforce that awaits them following graduation,” said Kyle Hamilton, professor and coordinator of the Machine Learning at Scale course at UC Berkeley.

“Having access to industry-leading tools and programs provided by Databricks, a company that continues to drive innovation across the data science and machine learning community, is very exciting for our professors, students and university.”

May 11 – One million connections initiative to help Mexicans impacted by Covid-19

A relief effort in Mexico, Oxígeno2030, is to utilise at-cost mobile connectivity so one million of Mexico’s most impacted individuals can access services by Q1 2021.

The initiative, which aims to keep people connected as they adjust to the coronavirus pandemic, is the first SaaS, multi-tenant BSS platform.

OXIO, a global connectivity-as-a-service provider, launched a virtualised multi-carrier solution for enterprises, leveraging Optiva’s BSS Platform on the public cloud. The service, OXIO BrandVNO, offers the capability to transform any enterprise worldwide into a provider of mobile connectivity, which can be easily bundled into their existing offering. 

“Our proposition is unique. We empower enterprises worldwide to complement their offerings with a branded mobile service — without the cost and complexity associated with the traditional MVNO model,” said Nicolas Girard Ph.D., CEO of OXIO.

“With Optiva BSS Platform and public cloud capabilities, our customers can easily launch their own branded service in a matter of days and immediately take advantage of their newfound status as wireless operators. Optiva helps our customers and us provide consumers with more affordable and reliable internet connections — and fuel our growth and success,” Girard added.

Oxígeno2030 was formed by OXIO, and Accountability Lab Mexico and uses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework to promote development through the use of mobile technologies.

May 08 – New research shows 66% of organisations unprepared for pandemic

As many as 66% of organisations had no plans in place for responding to an infectious disease pandemic before Covid-19, despite 61% having implemented an “up-to-date” business continuity plan.

Published in Databarracks’ Data Health Check survey, 400 UK-based IT decision-makers shared their practices, with conclusions echoing similar observations from NTT and Gartner. However, Databarrack’s report went on to highlight that businesses lacked preparedness despite pandemics ranked highest in terms of impact and likelihood in the UK government’s National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies;

Databarracks MD Peter Groucutt said: “Good business continuity shouldn’t be overly complex. In many ways it’s simply applying common sense at scale. There are reasons why organisations might neglect addressing particular risks like pandemics. Cognitive biases mean we focus more on the types of incidents that have happened to us recently rather than are most likely to occur. This is why we always recommend using National and Community Risk Registers in your planning. They won’t always be a perfect fit for you, but they serve as excellent sanity checks to make sure you aren’t missing something.

He added: “If we look at the organisation that had the best response, there are lots of lessons. Operating across multiple sites, having remote working in place, not being dependent on single suppliers and a diverse customer base all reduce your risk and improve your capability to continue.”

May 07 – Cohesity Downsizes Workforce To Deal With ‘Economic Uncertainty’

Responding to an environment of “economic uncertainty and volatility”, Cohesity has furloughed a small percentage of its workforce and confirmed that a number of others are “no longer with the company”.

Responding the media reports, the start-up said: “To manage through this time of economic uncertainty and volatility, Cohesity has taken steps to reduce our operating expenses. Unfortunately, as part of that effort, a small percentage of employees have been furloughed or are no longer with the company. This is not a decision the company takes lightly. We value contributions from each and every employee and regret that the pandemic has created this challenging period.”

Last month, Cohesity completed a US$250 million funding round and its homepage states it is now valued at $2.5 billion, “more than double the valuation 21 months ago”.  

May 07 – Covid-19 driving cashless transactions and digital banking

Banking executives in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) are switching their focus to technology and security as Covid-19 reshapes the world’s attitudes towards cash.

As the pandemic has spread across the world the number of cash transactions has declined sharply, with 60% of MEA-based banking executives now predicting cash will account for less than 5% of retail transactions in the next five years.

As a result, 43% of those questioned by Temenos (SIX: TEMN) said new technologies, including AI, will be the most impactful trend on their sector by 2025. However, the affordability of smartphones could still hamper the global shift to digital money.

Cited as a “key driver”, smartphones will influence the development and acceptance of mobile-first greenfield banks – something which 37% of MEA respondents named as a top digital banking innovation. Almost one in three respondents (29%) said they were building a greenfield fintech firm.

The research, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, said: “MEA retail banks are highly conscious of the threats financial exclusion and delaying digitalisation pose to their business models”.

May 06 – VMware confirms “cost management” changes

A memo claiming VMware is implementing “cost management” strategies – including a pay reduction for the CEO and other top executives –  has been confirmed as accurate, according to reports.

In a statement to the media, VMWare said: “We can confirm that there have been a number of cost management changes impacting the VMware workforce. This is a part of a thoughtful and prudent plan designed to address the current uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic and the overall economic outlook, while ensuring the company has the skills and talent needed to accelerate growth as the economy stabilises.”

In January, VMware completed the acquisition of US-based Pivotal Software for $2.7 billion.

May 06 –  Tampnet Carrier and Megaport provide simplified cloud connectivity across Nordics

A new partnership between Tampnet Carrier and Network as a Service (NaaS) provider Megaport, will offer Tampnet customers access to more than 350 service providers including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Oracle Cloud.

Following the partnership, Tampnet customers can now connect between metros, countries and continents, scale their business to new markets and create a multi-region network by leveraging Megaport’s Software Defined Network (SDN).

“This is exactly what is needed in the Nordic market”, says Tampnet Carrier’s MD, Cato Lammenes. “

“With direct connection via Megaport’s network Tampnet brings all the largest cloud providers closer to the Nordic market. We can quickly and easily provision a service without the usual siloed and complex configuration tasks. We can now get you almost instantly connected to world class cloud services, managed services and data centres . Customers can move their data fast and securely in our low latency and high capacity network with many optional routes in and out of the Nordics. In addition, Megaport provides a very smart on-demand platform that offers great flexibility and scalability on a consumption based model,” Lammenes added.

May 06 – Wipro converts IT facility into Covid-19 hospital

Wipro is to repurpose a technology campus in Pune, India, into a 450-bed Covid-19 hospital, over the next four weeks.

With a self-imposed handover deadline of May 30, the facility will provide intermediary care for moderate cases, with 12 beds to stabilise critical patients before moving to a tertiary care facility, and 24 rooms to accommodate doctors and medical staff.

Wipro will provide the physical infrastructure, medical furniture and equipment besides, appointing an administrator and skeletal support staff to help operationalise the hospital quickly with the required medical professionals. The hospital is expected to be converted back to an IT facility after 12 months.

The news follows a memorandum of understanding between Wipro and the Government of Maharashtra.

“We are completely committed to supporting the country’s response to the pandemic and believe that we must all work together to deal with this crisis and minimise its human impact,” said Rishad Premji, chairman of Wipro. “We stand firmly with the Government of Maharashtra in its battle against Covid-19.”

May 05 – Nutanix confirms headcount reductions

Nutanix has become the latest firm to announce changes to its headcount in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with up to 25% of its staff taking unpaid leave this year.

In furlough documents filed in California, Nutanix confirmed the strategy would see 1,434 staff sent home in San Jose, with a further 8, 11 and 12 in Redding, San Francisco and San Mateo, respectively.

Workers will be asked to take the leave before October, with Nutanix reassuring customers that operations won’t be impacted by the reduced staff levels.

May 05, 12:44 – ITU launches Innovation Challenges 2020 with Covid-19 theme

The UN’s International Telecoms Union (ITU) has released details of its Innovation Challenges 2020, an open global competition platform for innovators and ecosystem builders to present their ideas and projects, empowering them to transform their communities into thriving digital societies.

There are three challenges to choose from: 

• The Digital Change-maker Challenge covers a wide range of topics from cybersecurity and regulation, to digital inclusion and climate change, and calls for participants to provide innovative solutions to real-life problems faced by stakeholders in their communities, especially considering value chain competitiveness and global disruption due to Covid-19. 

• The Ecosystem Best Practice Challenge looks for ecosystem builders to identify best practices that allow innovators to develop sustainable and resilient solutions to navigate technological change and bridge the digital divide. 

• The Women in Tech Challenge, in cooperation with the EQUALS Global Partnership, invites tech innovators to help and empower women in various sectors, including agriculture, fashion, and health. 

Applicants should submit their ideas and innovations via the Co-Create Portal by 31 July 2020.

May 04, 11:44 – UKCloud extends partnership with VMware to help UK with remote working services

UKCloud has announced further investment in its partnership with VMware through the achievement of VMware Cloud Verified status and the launch of various VMware-based capabilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent need to enforce social distancing in response to the lock-down has triggered a real drive across the UK public sector to shift from traditional channels to digital channels in order to enable citizens, businesses and public sector staff to access public services and securely share data from remote locations.

The company revealed that the new capabilities will help public sector organisations accelerate their digital transformation to adapt to the new normal of social distancing and remote working.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, believes that these digital interactions and remote working practices will become the “new normal”.

“We’re really proud to be working in partnership with UKCloud,” said Jeramie Sutton, Senior Sales Manager Healthcare UKI, VMware.

“For clear and good reason remote working requests have increased dramatically in recent weeks, many with an objective to obtain access to clinical applications wherever the user may be.

“Combining VMware Horizon virtual desktop with UKCloud’s desktop as a service capabilities, including direct connectivity to HSCN, we’re well positioned to jointly deliver a secure solution to NHS trusts quickly, while still being tailored to their exact application requirements.

“Using both VMware’s and UKCloud’s expertise in the healthcare sector, we truly feel that this solution delivers meaningful outcomes, in the timescales and offering the flexibility the NHS requires.”

EcoDataCenter Falun Serverhall

May 01 – data centre construction resumes in Italy’s “red zone”

Construction has resumed at a major data centre in Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy, where Covid-19 continues to disrupt lives and businesses. 

Workers on the site of the 15,000 square meter 10MW datacentre facility, will now follow operating procedures including social distancing, increased sanitisation and staggered shift start and finish times.

Northern Italy was the first region in Europe to be badly hit by Covid-19, with its lockdown initiated in early March.

Along with businesses, shops, schools and restaurants, on March 13, the construction site for a major new data centre – which is being overseen by Business Critical Solutions (BCS) – was also shut down, despite being awarded “essential status” by the government.

Chris Coward, head of project management for BCS, said: “We are still facing issues around getting the right number of workers onsite due to continuing restrictions on travel across regions and many of the materials we need, such as concrete and steel, are sourced from the neighbouring Lombardy Region.

“We are committed to getting this project done but our major focus is on keeping people safe,” he added.

April, 30 – TDCS unveils new website with launch party on hold amid COVID-19

Total Data Centre Solutions has launched a new website this week that illustrates all its specialist services including sales and marketing of international colocation spaces.

Past international clients include those in Ireland, Norway, Luxembourg and TDCS is currently advising EcoDataCenter in Sweden.

TDCS has an additional offering:  large battery storage technology that provides data centres with multi-MW containerised battery solutions.

The capital and maintenance costs are repaid over 10 years simply by sharing the electricity savings achieved using the battery at ‘peak times’, according to the company.

‘’When I formed TDCS in 2003, it specialised in new colocation ventures and I still enjoys working in that exciting first few years of a company’s development’’ said Founder and Director Jonathan Evans.

 “We are looking forward to the response we receive to the new web site as we offer a unique range of services in the sector, provided by extremely experienced individuals.”

April 29 – Google takes on Zoom by waiving charge for Google Meet

Providing what it has billed “a secure alternative” to other video conferencing platforms, Google is to make its Google Meet video conferencing and collaboration suite for all users until September 2020.

Previously Meet would allow non-subscribers to participate in meetings, but a paid for G Suite account was required to host or start a call.

Following the announcement on 29 April, Zoom shares dropped 7% while Alphabet shares were up 9%.

Now offering meetings for up to 100 participants with no upper time limit, Google said access will be opened up “gradually” starting next week. The move is backed with G Suite Essentials, the latest edition of G Suite designed for small teams, which brings together Google Drive, Docs, Sheet, Slides and Meet.

Google Hangouts and Google Duo will remain in operation.

After September free members will still be able to conduct meetings of up to 60 minutes on Google Meet. the specific charges for premium subscription are yet to be announced.

“It’s a more secure, reliable, modern product,” said Smita Hashim, a director of product management at Google.

27 April – NEC science divisions repurpose algorithms to combat Covid-19

NEC OncoImmunity (NOI), in collaboration with NEC Laboratories Europe (NLE), are leading work on AI prediction platforms capable of designing blueprints for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines that can drive potent T-cell responses in the majority of the global population.

The initiative – which repurposes algorithms designed to monitor cancer– is hoped to “help combat outbreaks of COVID-19 and support international vaccine development efforts”.

Two divisions of the IT and network technology firm are involved in the work.

“We have been repurposing our algorithms originally designed for predicting immune responses in individual cancer patients to scale to large population targets for infectious diseases.

“The in-silico validation of our algorithms takes into account the genetic background of humans across all continents. Now demonstrating that our predictions can contribute to the worldwide efforts to stop Covid-19 is of utmost importance. We have already started discussions with partner organisations for wet-lab validation activities. This is an important step towards the development of an effective vaccine for the global population,” said Dr. Saverio Niccolini, general manager of the data science and system platform division at NEC Laboratories Europe GmbH.

April 24, 16:53 – Schneider Electric reports €5.8m revenue as COVID-19 impacts first-quarter sales drop

The French multinational electrical equipment firm reported declines in its revenues caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown measures put in place to curb the spread.

Schneider Electric (EPA: SU) reported its first-quarter 2020 revenues were down by -6.4% organically and reached €5.830 million.

Across the Group in Q1, products were down -6.2%, largely due to the impact of the coronavirus in the Asia Pacific region, as the company said it expected.

“Today we are all facing a global health and economic crisis,” said Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and CEO, Schneider Electric.

Abigail Opiah has more here.

April 23 – Hackathon for Social Good to explore Covid-19 datasets

Databricks has released details of the Hackathon for Social Good, its “first ever global hackathon” that aims to use data to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, or issues unique to local communities.

Each team in the competition selects its cause as it sees fit. For those who select the Covid-19 pandemic Databricks is providing several data sets — and other public sources — to surface insight into correlations, causes or potential solutions, free of charge for non-commercial purposes.

Three finalist data teams will be revealed at the annual Spark + AI Summit, taking place June 22-26. The winning team will receive $10,000 to donate to a charity of their choice, free training and a complimentary conference pass to a future Spark + AI Summit of their choice.

To enter, teams must:

1. Register a data team (up to four participants) on the Hackathon for Social Good website.

2. Build an application or create a compelling notebook of your analysis that allows end users to better understand data related to these issues. Your application or notebook should use data analysis, data science or machine learning technologies featured in the Spark + AI Summit.

3. Submit your project, along with a video screencast describing the potential social good impact.

A statement from Databricks read: “Overcoming COVID-19 is the world’s toughest problem at the moment, and understanding the data will help the medical community make better decisions — e.g. how can we use data to make better public health policies to keep people from becoming patients. So Databricks has taken steps to enable anyone — from first-time data explorers to data professionals — to participate in the effort.”

April 22 – Ekinops’ bandwidth fix connects municipality to major data centres

Ekinops has increased the bandwidth of its single fiber network to assist local French telecom provider, Chartres Métropole Innovations Numériques (CM’IN), in keeping the city of Chartres online. Located 90 miles south-west of Paris, Chartres has a population of 38,000.

CM’IN engaged Ekinops to increase the bandwidth of its single fiber network, connecting the municipality to two major Parisian datacenters with 100G capability, and enabling CM’IN to continue developing its voice, hosting, and TV capture and broadcast services without sacrificing network performance.

the upgrade, to enhance residential and enterprise broadband services, used Ekinops’ Flexrate PM_200FRS02-SF optical transport solution together with the PM_100G-AGG aggregation module.

April 22, 17:20 – IDC predicts drop in IT spending in almost every industry in 2020 caused by COVID-19

International Data Corporation (IDC) currently forecasts worldwide IT spending to decline 2.7% this year due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hospitality and tourism-heavy industries like transportation and personal and consumer services are expected to be the most negatively impacted markets with IT spending expected to decline by 5% or more, according to IDC.

Both markets are relatively small in terms of IT spending. Discrete and process manufacturing are both large market opportunities for technology (nearly $400 billion combined) and face significant risks due to the virus with spending expected to fall by more than 3% in 2020.

Abigail Opiah has more here.

April 20, 12:10 – Epsilon becomes a London Internet Exchange Platinum Partner

The surge in global internet traffic is driving demand for remote peering and accelerating growth in connectivity to global internet exchanges.

 Epsilon has been awarded Platinum status by the London Internet Exchange (LINX) under its ConneXions Partner Programme.

The upgrade comes after a recent significant expansion of Epsilon’s managed capacity for connecting customers to the exchange via its Remote Peering service.

Epsilon has been recognised by LINX for enabling regional and global network service providers and managed service providers to efficiently grow their presence with LINX and manage surging IP traffic demand.

“Increased internet usage is driving the demand for remote peering. We are enabling our customers to scale-up to meet growing demand, ensuring they can continue to deliver an optimised end-user experience,” said Mark Daley, Director of Digital Strategy & Business Development at Epsilon.

“IXs and the use of remote peering are critical for keeping the global internet running smoothly in challenging times like these.

“We’re proud to be playing a role in keeping people across the globe connected and helping our customers benefit from peering.

“Our Remote Peering solution provides secure and on-demand access to LINX at the click of a button thanks to the IX-API project.”

April 20 – Cash burn analysis tool launches for founders ahead of VC funding crunch

Predicting a crunch in the availability of venture capital (VC) funding as the Covid-19 pandemic continues, Clearbanc has launched a new tool to help SaaS and ecommerce brands analyse and improve on their financial position.

Runway is billed as “a new way for companies to understand business metrics and extend cash flow”. It analyses cash balance, overhead, revenue, margin, growth rate and industry segment and, using Clearbanc’s proprietary AI, it then predicts a company’s financial runway and suggests funding to improve its position.

Clearbanc is also expanding its overall non-dilutive capital beyond consumer companies to B2B companies to convert MRR to ARR.  

“There is no playbook for the current economic crisis and recovery, and every founder needs more insight and options to navigate this incredibly difficult time,” said Michele Romanow, Co-Founder and President of Clearbanc. “In addition, venture capital is even harder to come by. Capital is the most important tool to sustain and grow a business, and is now needed more than ever. Clearbanc Runway fills a huge need in the market.”

April 16, 13:37 – Microsoft’s AI for Health pledges $20m to Covid-19 pandemic

Microsoft’s AI for Health has pledged $20 million in the global fight against Covid-19 and has opened applications for grant proposals from non-profits, academia and governments looking to tap the funds

The fund is available through the firm’s AI for Health initiative – which launched in January with a five-year commitment – and is the latest in a series of developments from Microsoft.

On its application website, Microsoft said: “This grant program provides Azure cloud and High-Performance Computing capabilities. Our team of AI for Health data science experts, whose mission is to improve the health of people and communities worldwide, is also open to collaborations with COVID-19 researchers as they tackle this critical challenge.

“More broadly, Microsoft’s research scientists across the world, spanning computer science, biology, medicine, and public health, will also be available to provide advice and collaborate per mutual interest.”

Melanie Mingas reports here.

April 16 – India issues third advisory against using Zoom

India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has issued the country’s third advisory to government employees warning that Zoom is “not a safe platform”.

The advisories were issued on February 6, March 30 and April 12 and broadened from a specific ban on Zoom, to asking employees to refrain from using any third-party video platforms for security reasons. India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has raised concerns about cyber-attacks specifically though Zoom.

Naming Zoom, Slack, Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Teams and Teams for Education, the second advisory read: “Insecure usage of the platform may allow cyber criminals to access sensitive information such as meeting details and conversations.”

April 16, 13:26 – Google CEO tells staff the pace of hiring will reduce throughout 2020

Google parent company Alphabet Inc. is slowing down on hiring employees for the remainder of the year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alphabet’s CEO Sundar Pichai told staff about the decision in an email while mentioning other areas of cost-cutting the company is undertaking.

He added that the decision to slow down the pace of hiring is to ensure Google “emerges from this year at a more appropriate size and scale that it would otherwise”.

“We need to carefully prioritise hiring employees who will address our greatest user and business needs,” added Pichai in the email.

“Beyond hiring, we continue to invest, but will be recalibrating the focus and pace of our investments in areas like data centres and machines, and non-business essential marketing and travel.”

Abigail Opiah has more here.

April 16, 09:14 – Google Cloud joins Rolls-Royce Covid-19 alliance to help businesses & governments

Google Cloud has announced it will be joining a new group of data analytics companies, spearheaded by Rolls-Royce, to form Emer2gent – an alliance focused on supporting businesses and governments in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to Google Cloud, early alliance members are Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, IBM, The Data City, Truata, Rolls-Royce and ODI Leeds. The alliance will be facilitated and co-ordinated by innovation specialists, Whitespace.

Together the initial wave of members brings all the key elements of open innovation; data publication, licensing privacy, security; data analytics capability; and collaborative infrastructure, kicking off its early work and growing its membership.

Rajh Das, Manufacturing and Industrial lead, UKI, Google Cloud said: “Google Cloud is proud to be involved in such an important project as we all work together to support business globally during these extraordinary times.”

Emer2gent will combine traditional economic, business, travel and retail data sets with behaviour and sentiment data, to provide new insights into – and practical applications to support – the global recovery from COVID-19.

April 14, 14:36 – CyrusOne donates $300,000 in response to COVID-19 related challenges

Tesh Durvasula

Data centre REIT CyrusOne (NASDAQ: CONE) revealed it is donating $250,000 in addition to personal donations from CyrusOne’s leadership team, and a $50,000 personal donation from CyrusOne’s President and CEO, Tesh Durvasula, to Feeding America, Member Food Bank, the North Texas Foodbank, as well as charities in Europe.

The donations will help fund millions of meals for people in need as a direct result of the ongoing community challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abigail Opiah has more here.

April 09, 14:41 – 22 security start-ups join Tech Nation’s Cyber Programme 2.0

22 cyber security companies have joined Tech Nation’s Cyber 2.0 growth programme in light of Covid-19.

Since the outbreak, cyber criminals have been exploiting the pandemic as part of their cyber operations due to an increase in employees working from home and a rise in virtual meetings.

“The UK is already an acknowledged leader in cyber security, raising £7.8bn between 2015 and 2019, placing the UK third in the world for cyber after the US and China,” said Mike Jackson, entrepreneur success director, Tech Nation.

“In these unprecedented times that we face in light of COVID-19, there has never been a more important time to invest in and support innovative cyber solutions. At Tech Nation we are delighted to announce the second cohort of Cyber 2.0, to help unlock the growth potential for early-stage cyber scaleups.”

Many of the 22 companies joining the programme have already begun developing new solutions and responses to Covid-19.

For example, ByzGen are working closely with strategic partners, to identify ways to improve the exchange of sensitive medical data between primary health providers in the NHS.

CyberSmart have created a new Small Business Resilience Hub to help SMEs navigate the transition to remote working safely.

PreCog has developed a real-time crime intelligence solution for the government and can even help monitor social distancing measures.

April 09, 14:39 – OVHcloud offers free infrastructure during Covid-19

French cloud computing company OVHcloud has launched its #Open_solidarity initiative in support of businesses and employees during the Covid-19 crisis.

Such moves include all OVHcloud employees working from home (excluding datacentre and factory employees) and ensuring service continuity for our customers with no loss in uptime.

One such measure includes the offer of free infrastructures without any commitment period for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

Websites and infrastructures receiving free service will also benefit from the same level of maintenance and support.

“#Open_solidarity. This initiative is a collective, open act of digital solidarity — the aim of which is to make reliable tech solutions more widely available by offering them for free on OVHcloud infrastructures.”

“To do this, OVHcloud is delivering web-cloud, bare metal, private cloud and public cloud solutions free of charge for the entire duration of the crisis — and this is for software publishers, start-ups and public service providers. This way, they can also offer free remote working, communication, healthcare and other solutions to SMEs and individuals.”

April 09, 14:37 – Microsoft supports NHS plans to centralise data

Cindy Rose, chief executive of Microsoft UK has expressed her support in creating a centralised NHS data store to tackle Covid-19.

According to Rose, creating “one central source of data” will help the country coordinate its response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Microsoft along will Amazon, Google and Palantir are being consulted on the creation of this central data store and will help the NHS develop this tool.

Once completed, the data store will help to ensure that critical gear like ventilators can be delivered to hospitals before they become overwhelmed, while helping NHS management determine bed availability. 

April 09, 14:35 – Computacenter CEO and CFO forgo salaries to show ‘solidarity’ with furloughed staff

Mike Norris, CEO of Computacenter and Tony Conophy, the company’s CFO have volunteered to forgo their salaries in a show of solidarity with furloughed staff.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, both executives have chosen to cut their base salary to zero for a three-month period, between 1 April until 30 June.

In addition, Computacenter co-founders Peter Ogden and Philip Hulme have also waived their basic fee as non-executive directors from 1 April until the end of the year.

April 08, 12:45 – HPE Financial Services offers $2 billion to help customers during COVID-19

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has announced that HPE Financial Services (HPEFS) is designating more than $2 billion in financing specifically to help customers with their financial challenges stemming from the COVID-19 crisis.

HPE Financial Services is also introducing initiatives including a Payment Relief Program to help customers acquire new technology and alleviate some of the financial strain caused by the pandemic.

The $2 billion in HPEFS financing will be applied to help customers ensure business continuity and adapt in the current environment by addressing new technology financing needs, and convert their IT infrastructure into new sources of capital, according to the company.

Through the new Payment Relief Program, customers can acquire the technology they need and pay 1% of the total contract value each month for the first eight months, deferring over 90% of the cost until 2021.

Beginning in 2021, each monthly payment would equal approximately 3.3% of the total contract value.

“This is a challenging time to lead a business. Today more than ever, IT leaders and CFOs play a central role in ensuring financial health while continuing operations”, said Irv Rothman, President and CEO of HPE Financial Services.

“At HPE Financial Services, we are committed to helping businesses align their priorities from an IT economics perspective and provide them with concrete solutions so they can move forward.”

April 07, 17:23 – Tech sector worried about loss of income caused by COVID-19

techUK conducted a survey with the tech sector in response to the impact of COVID-19 to get a better understanding of how the pandemic is impacting the sector.

Of the 100 responses received, the survey showed that lost income and lost productivity were the two issues of most concern to businesses, both in the short and long-term.

Whilst only 6% of respondents felt a cessation of trading/doing business was a likely outcome in the short-term, this was a concern for nearly 30% of respondents if restrictions remained in place for a longer period, according to techUK.

Supply chain disruption is also noted by respondents as a concern both in the short and longer-term, with 40% of respondents citing it as a concern.

While the UK has not implemented any restrictions at borders and ports to date, members are anticipating a slow down as staffing levels are impacted (borders and customs officials), and this is being seen in third countries where our members operate.

The survey also flagged concerns techUK is hearing around liquidity and access to finance, particularly for SMEs (which form half of all respondents to this survey).

“The UK’s tech sector has long been a bright star in the UK economy, growing at six times the rate of the rest of the economy, accounting for 7.7% of UK GVA. It will be vital to the UK’s recovery as a whole that the sector is supported through this period of disruption and uncertainty,” said Vinous Ali, Associate Director for Policy, techUK.

“Just two weeks ago a fifth of our sector reported feeling little to no impact on their business as a result of COVID-19.

“The increased rate of spread and the Government restrictions put in place to slow that spread have changed the landscape dramatically.”

April 07, 12:54 – COVID-19 pandemic leads to “massive” uptick in demand for computing capacity

Northern Data AG has reported that the COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in a massive increase in computing capacity demand.

In order to meet the increased demand, the company has instigated an acceleration of the expansion of capacities at its locations and in addition is looking to develop further locations.

Immediate demand for computing power in the wake of the pandemic is being driven by two immediate and game-changing developments.

Firstly, pharmaceutical companies and research institutions worldwide are using HPC systems on a large scale for the first time in order to carry out calculations and simulations in the field of bioinformatics and epidemiology in the shortest possible time, which with conventional computer systems can take several months or even years.

Northern Data management expects this trend to continue after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secondly, working conditions worldwide have shifted drastically online in a matter of weeks through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has led to a massive increase in demand for computing capacity.

Due to the current restrictions, many companies in parts of the United States, Europe and Asia are forced to operate with an almost 100% home office ratio.

The associated use of digital applications such as video conferencing tools is causing an explosion in demand for data capacities. This trend will continue beyond the coronavirus crisis, according to the company.

Northern Data will start operating its newest HPC facility in the United States in the coming days. The world’s largest HPC data centre is being built in Texas; more than 100 acres, which corresponds to the size of around 57 soccer fields.

The company originally intended to achieve a total capacity of one gigawatt at the US location by the end of the year.

Due to the changed and overwhelming demand situation, plans are now beginning to seamlessly expand the location to up to 3,6 gigawatts.

The company is also accelerating the development of additional locations for additional large-scale HPC facilities in Canada and Scandinavia.

“We are facing overwhelming demand”, stated Aroosh Thillainathan, CEO of Northern Data AG.

“In some areas, we see a thirty times higher market demand than we can build up capacities by the end of the year.

“We now benefit from our many years of experience in large-scale high-performance computing in order to further accelerate ongoing scaling.”

April 06, 16:03 – iomart encounters minimal impact on trading from effects of COVID-19 outbreak

The company says it has experienced minimal impact on trading in the year from the effects of COVID-19.

Cloud computing company iomart Group plc (AIM: IOM) provided its pre-close trading statement for the year ended 31 March 2020 ahead of the announcement of its full-year results.

The Board reported that iomart expects to deliver another year of revenue growth, strong profitability and cash generation, in line with expectations.

For the year to 31 March 2020, the company expects to report revenue of approximately £112 million (FY19: £103.7 million), adjusted EBITDA of approximately £43 million (FY19: £42.2 million) and adjusted profit before tax of approximately £22.5 million (FY19: £25.5 million).

Abigail Opiah has more here.

April 06, 14:02 – Linxdatacenter connects to the cloud for free during the outbreak

Linxdatacenter will be providing educational- and cultural institutions whose activities suffered from quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, free access to virtual resources of its own cloud.

The quarantine and other pandemic-related restrictions have disrupted processes in many companies.

The data centre and cloud services firm will offer a solution to those who face a sharp shortage of IT resources: companies that need resources to connect remote workstations for employees, businesses that urgently have to go online to work with consumers or retailers and delivery services whose websites and applications have a peak load now.

Linxdatacenter intends to support cultural and educational institutions – museums, theatres and projects in the field of science and education who do not have the necessary IT capabilities but also have to switch to an online format.

Two months access to IT resources in the Linxdatacenter cloud will be free within the specified parameters, according to the firm.

“Many companies today find themselves in an extremely difficult situation, caused by sharp changes in the functioning of society and the economy,” said Olga Sokolova, General Director Linxdatacenter Russia.

“Linxdatacenter recognises the complexity of the situation. The IT resources that we have allow us to support other organisations.

“We hope, this will help many people who find themselves in difficult conditions.”

April 03, 15:32 – How HPE is keeping remote COVID-19 workforces operational

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has launched a series of initiatives to help customers and support business continuity in the wake of COVID-19.

Chassis Manager 2.0

HPE is releasing a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution, and said it will offer flexible financing terms and new pre-configured solutions to increase flexibility and accelerate delivery.

HPE Financial Services is set to offer financial and asset lifecycle options including short-term rentals and 90-day payment deferrals on VDI solutions.

The company revealed that HPE VDI solutions are also available as-a-Service through HPE Greenlake to support customers who require financial flexibility in their remote workforce roll out.

Abigail Opiah has more here.

April 03, 14:49 – SpaceX bans Zoom over privacy issues

Elon Musk’s satellite company SpaceX has prohibited its employees from using video conferencing app Zoom.

Reuters reports that a memo was sent to all SpaceX employees citing “significant privacy and security concerns” as the reason for the ban.

This was then followed by an email to employees that read:

“We understand that many of us were using this tool for conferences and meeting support. Please use email, text or phone as alternate means of communication.”

Natalie Bannerman has more here.

April 03, 13:17 – Internet co-creator Vint Cerf catches Covid-19

Vint Cerf, the 76-year-old American computer scientist cited as co-creating the internet been diagnosed with COVID-19.

In a Tweet on Monday 30th March, he said:

In the same Tweet, Cerf also included a video of comedian John Oliver, in which the “Last Week Tonight” host criticised Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. Cerf has worked for Google since 2005 and currently serves as its chief internet evangelist

April 02, 16:23 – Cognizant commits $10m to support communities worldwide impacted by COVID-19

Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH) has announced an initial $10 million philanthropic commitment to support communities around the world in addressing the immediate and long-term impacts of COVID-19.

Cognizant and its U.S. and India-based foundations has said it will provide critical resources to strengthen public health systems, education and workforce institutions, and the economic outlook of communities worldwide.

Funds will support:

  • Global response efforts, including healthcare and humanitarian relief through the World Health Organisation’s “COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund” and GlobalGiving’s “Coronavirus Relief Fund”
  • Critical healthcare infrastructure, including resources for hospitals and frontline healthcare workers, and investments in equipment and diagnostic tools
  • Education and workforce efforts, including research to advance online learning models in light of school closures, and funding to support education, training, and reskilling programs for vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19

“Cognizant and its foundations have a long history of contributing to the health and well-being of communities across the globe. We are pleased to do our part to contribute to the worldwide effort to offer relief to those impacted by COVID-19,” said Brian Humphries, CEO, Cognizant.

“I have never been more proud of our associates and their valiant efforts to support our clients and communities in these unprecedented times.”  

As part of the $10 million commitment, the Cognizant U.S. Foundation will match all Cognizant associate contributions to GlobalGiving’s “Coronavirus Relief Fund” throughout April. 

Facebook’s Huntsville, Alabama data centre

April 02, 16:13 – Facebook pauses construction on $750m Alabama data centre amid COVID-19 pandemic

Facebook has pressed the pause button on the construction of its Huntsville, Alabama data centre campus due to safety concerns over staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The social media giants announced on its website that it will be significantly reducing construction activities at the data centre site to help protect the construction crew during the pandemic.

“We look forward to welcoming everyone back on site as soon as it’s safe to do so. Hope everyone can stay safe and healthy,” said the firm last week.

The company also announced that it has suspended construction on its expansion project at the company’s data centre campus in Clonee, Ireland.

Abigail Opiah reports more here.

April 01, 17:50 – Microsoft sees 775% spike in Teams users in Italy

Microsoft has seen a 775% increase in Teams’ calling and meeting monthly users in a one month period in Italy, where social distancing or shelter in place orders have been enforced.

In response to health authorities emphasizing the importance of social distancing, the company has seen usage increases in services, including Microsoft Teams, Windows Virtual Desktop, and Power BI.

The company reported more than 44 million daily users on the platform, to which those users generated over 900 million meeting and calling minutes on Teams daily in a single week.

Windows Virtual Desktop usage has grown more than three times, while government use of public Power BI to share COVID-19 dashboards with citizens has surged by 42% in a week, according to the company.

As Satya Nadella said, “It’s times like this that remind us that each of us has something to contribute and the importance of coming together as a community.

“In these times of great societal disruption, we are steadfast in our commitment to help everyone get through this.”

April 01, 15:00 – Cloud boss Thomas Kurian on how Google is tackling the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic

Google Cloud has seen a surge in the use of its video conference product Google Meet, as the COVID-19 pandemic causes a large population of the world to work from home.

The cloud giant’s CEO Thomas Kurian revealed that the company has made the advance features in Google Meet free to all its G Suite and G Suite for Education customers worldwide.

Over the last few weeks, Meet’s day-over-day growth surpassed 60%, and as a result, its daily usage is more than 25 times what it was in January, according to Kurian.

“We’ve also made Meet Hardware available in additional markets, including South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia and South Africa, to ensure customers have the right hardware to complement their Meet solution,” he said in a blog post yesterday.

Abigail Opiah reports more here.

March 31, 13:29 – AMS-IX breaks through 8 Tbps barrier

Internet traffic over AMS-IX, the world’s leading interconnection platform, broke through the 8 Terabits per second (Tbps) barrier on March 30 around 9:00 PM.

The new peak traffic is most likely a result of the various quarantine measures of national governments in their effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. People are forced to stay at home and, as a result, make extra use of digital services. In February, the daily amount of traffic exchanged on the platform was between 48 to 50 Petabyte.

However, after the 11th of March – the day that the World Health Organization declared the COVID outbreak a pandemic – we can see a steep rise in the amount of internet traffic exchanged over the AMS-IX Amsterdam platform.

Currently, the traffic volume accounts for 56 to 58 Petabyte on a daily basis, an increase of 17% compared to the previous month.

March 31, 10:27 – Coronavirus lockdown causes surge in use of fintech apps

Coronavirus-triggered social distancing, isolation and lockdowns have driven-up the use of financial apps in Europe by 72% in a week, reveals deVere Group.
The sharp increase in the use of financial technology comes as the world readjusts to life-fighting against the global health crisis and economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
James Green, deVere Group’s Divisional Manager of Europe, said: “The world has changed in the last few weeks. The measures we are now all taking to help the fight back against coronavirus are affecting the way we interact, live, work, and take care of our finances.
“A new era has already begun, with digitalisation and new technologies driving the shift.  This can be seen by demand soaring for video-calling platforms such as Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime and Zoom amongst others, as more people from ever work remotely.”

March 30, 10:11 – Procurri to offer data centre equipment amid ongoing COVID-19 disruption

IT hardware supply chain, Procurri LLC has announced its plans to help companies access data centre equipment more affordably, in the midst of any shortages experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Corporations face increasing pressure on their IT infrastructure spend to continue operations despite the challenges.

The company revealed that it has witnessed a surge in shipments at its Atlanta distribution hub recently.

With wide and established networks through partnerships with Cisco Excess, HPE Spares, and Ingram Micro and distribution hubs spread across the globe in the US, Singapore, and the UK, the company plans to ship stocked equipment globally.

“In these times of the COVID-19 crisis, the global IT equipment supply chain has been severely disrupted,” said Sean Murphy, Chairman and Global Chief Executive Officer, Procurri LLC.

“We are doing our part to help keep economies going through the COVID-19 pandemic. We are in the business of IT uptime and are seeing the demand for solutions increase, and we are doing our best to secure supply to keep businesses connected and running.”

March 27, 16:12 – Intel holds off on stock buybacks amid global COVID-19 outbreak

Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) announced that it is suspending stock repurchases due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The company added that the suspension, “while conservative, is prudent given uncertainty regarding the length and severity of the pandemic”, reported Bloomberg.

This comes as the Santa Clara, California-based company revealed earlier on in the week that it will source and donate more than one million items of personal protective equipment – masks, gloves and other gear – to healthcare workers.

According to reports, the suspension of stock repurchases will not impact dividend payments, and Intel can reinstate repurchases as circumstances warrant, according to a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Abigail Opiah reports more here.

March 27, 09:16 – Kaspersky supports healthcare institutions amid COVID-19 pandemic with free full-featured product licenses for six months

Kaspersky has announced free availability of its core endpoint security products for medical organisations, in order to help them stay protected from cyberthreats during the pandemic.

The full list of B2B products available for free for six months includes Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud Plus, Kaspersky Security for Microsoft Office 365, Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Advanced and Kaspersky Hybrid Cloud Security.

Evgeniya Naumova, Vice President of the Global Sales Network at Kaspersky, said: “In this critical situation, healthcare institutions are under immense pressure and carry huge responsibility while saving people’s lives and fighting against the infection. Doctors, nurses and all medical staff take on most of the load and therefore need any support possible. We feel that it is our duty to support the medical community.

“In order to help these organisations focus on what matters most, we now offer healthcare institutions free licenses for key Kaspersky corporate products for a six month period.”

March 26, 13:49 – QTS Reports Increase in Customer Usage of Service Delivery Platform Driven by the Expanding Remote Workplace

QTS Realty Trust (NYSE: QTS) has announced an increase in usage of QTS’ Service Delivery Platform (SDP) engineered to manage and optimise data centre deployments.

The company attributes the increases in demand to services and capability that align with the requirements of a dramatically expanded remote workplace in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Jon Greaves, Chief Technology Officer, QTS, said: “Working remotely is a new challenge and opportunity that many in Corporate America are currently facing. The Internet and online workplace are now mission-critical in our daily lives.

“QTS customers are benefiting from greater control over their IT environments and in the current environment, decreasing risk at the same time through a digitized orchestration capability that largely has not existed in the data centre industry previously.”

March 24, 16:53 – Tech companies charge ahead with hiring as demand increases due to COVID-19

Technology companies are still hiring staff despite global reports of businesses laying off staff because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The FT reported that in California, tech companies were looking to fill 15,852 jobs in the second week of March — down only slightly from the week before and nearly three times the level from a year ago, according to data from ZipRecruiter.

Data Economy reached out to ZipRecruiter for further comment regarding how tech companies were in need for more staff as the world becomes more digital, to which the company is yet to respond.

One company that can testify to the need for more employees during the Coronavirus pandemic is mobile games company Kwalee.

Abigail Opiah reports here.

March 24, 15:01 – NordVPN reports 165% surge in users as remote working increases globally

VPN provider NordVPN has reported recording 165% growth in users due to more and more people working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As remote working is fast becoming the new normal in the midst of the outbreak, setting up at home and accessing company systems through external connections may present its own security problems.

According to Google Trends, the search term “VPN” has surged since last week. In the US, it grew by 25%, the UK 20%, Germany 30%, Spain 40%, and Italy, which has suffered the largest coronavirus outbreak in Europe, 55%. These numbers are also reflected in VPN sales.

Abigail Opiah has more here.

March 23, 17:11 – Equinix shuts down data centres to the public in France, Germany, Italy and Spain to tackle COVID-19

Equinix (NASDAQ: EQIX) has closed its data centres to the public in France, Germany, Italy and Spain as a protective measure amid COVID-19 outbreak.

In the company’s FAQ section, it was revealed that Equinix’s remaining IBX data centres, except those in Asia-Pacific, will be moving to an appointment-only protocol from March 25, until further notice.

For all IBXs in EMEA and the Americas, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain, Equinix is set to implement policies to maintain its facilities and further protect the health and safety of its customers and employees.

Abigail Opiah has more here.

March 23, 16:47 – SAP has announced a new digital learning offering

SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) has announced a new digital learning initiative based on interactive educational content to support students, professionals and anyone wishing to continue to learn during this challenging time.

This initiative is based on three educational pillars – open online courses, learning journeys for universities and the SAP Young Thinkers program – as part of SAP’s comprehensive learning and enablement program.

SAP said it will respond and adjust to participant feedback and requirements to improve and adapt the courses continuously.

Christian Klein, Co-CEO and Member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, said: “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are impacting everyone around the world. We want to make sure education does not take a back seat during this time. Students and subject-matter experts need access to safe and healthy learning environments to continue their education virtually.

“SAP is expanding its commitment to support the next generation of professionals and users by broadening access to some of our best digital learning offerings to facilitate the continuity of innovation and enablement.”

March 23, 14:30 – Industry steps up to support global Covid-19 response

As with other sectors, the telecoms, data and tech industries have faced huge disruptions over recent weeks, from Nokia’s cancelled AGM to the postponement of France’s 5G network auction and Samsung’s Foundry Forum.

However, it’s still business as usual and stakeholders from across the industry have been quick to react to the unfolding crisis with a series of customer relief packages, as well as charitable donations and support for government services.

In Canada, telcos Rogers, Bell, Telus, Videotron, Freedom Mobile, Eastlink and SaskTel, will send subscribers who are currently abroad text messages containing consular support information and key contact information.

Melanie Mingas reports.

March 23, 11:33 – Microsoft sees 12 million new users on Teams as remote workers increase during COVID-19 pandemic

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has announced that its group-collaboration platform, Microsoft Teams, has grown from 32 million daily active users to 44 million, mainly driven by the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The company said that its Microsoft Teams platform has seen a spike in its usage across the globe as millions of employees are being advised to practise social distancing and work from home.

The company recorded a 12 million increase in users in the last seven days according to its figures, adding that those users generated over 900 million meetings and calling minutes on Teams each day last week.

Abigail Opiah reports more here.

A statue of an angel outside the Bergamo Church Santa Maria in the Italian region of Lombardy.

March 23, 06:00 – Special Report: How this data centre in Italy’s Covid-19 Coronavirus epicentre keeps powering businesses, services and the local community

Outbreaks outside of China in South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy, became the more regionalised epicentres of the disease that spread to almost all countries and territories on the planet.

In Europe, Italy has been severely impacted, and a large part of the cases across the continent and other regions has been traced back to Italy, especially the northern part of the country, in the Lombardy region.

If we look at the epicentre, right in the middle is the city of Bergamo with a population of approximately 122,000 which has been hit by the virus as almost nowhere else as.

And it is precisely in Bergamo that one of Italy’s – and Europe’s as well – largest data centre campuses operates.

Sitting on more than two million square feet of land, Aruba S.p.A.’s hyperscale data centre operations in Bergamo power hundreds of businesses across Italy and Central Europe.

With the pandemic taking never seen proportions in the Lombardy region, Data Economy spoke to Gabriele Sposato, CMO of Aruba S.P.A. on how the business is handling this crisis whilst keeping services running without interruption.

João Marques Lima has this special report.

March 20, 16:57 – Keppel pledges a $4.2m package to support Singapore during COVID-19 pandemic

Keppel Corporation Limited has announced a package worth more than $4.2 million to help the Singapore community weather COVID-19.

This comes on the back of the company’s earlier donation of over S$900,000 to support Singapore and international efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

The package will be funded by voluntary contributions from the Keppel Group’s directors, senior management and staff, with dollar-for-dollar matching contributions from Keppel Corporation.

Abigail Opiah has more details here.

March 20, 14:44 – Data centre competitors swap notes to battle COVID-19 pressures collectively

According to techUK, the spread of COVID-19 means that the demand for digital communications, and therefore for the data centre services that underpin them, is rising sharply.

The “social distancing” measures governments and companies have been taking in their attempts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus have increased the amount of traffic on networks around the world.

As COVID-19 continues to put pressure on data centres to operate, techUK has been running weekly calls to share best practice and identify challenges the sector is facing.

Operators have been comparing notes on how they are identifying and managing COVID-19 risks and on the precautions they are putting in place.

Abigail Opiah reports more here.

March 19, 16:09 – The EU’s Thierry Breton, pressures streaming services to lower bandwidth during COVID-19 virus

The European Union’s Internal Market and Services Commissioner Thierry Breton, has asked streaming services to take steps to prevent an internet gridlock in the wake of the Coronavirus.

Speaking directly to content providers such as Netflix and YouTube, Breton expressed his concern that such streaming service would have on communications networks given the increase in people working from home due to the virus.

“Streaming platforms, telecom operators and users, we all have a joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet during the battle against the virus propagation,” said earlier this week.

Natalie Bannerman has more here.

March 19, 14:56 – Alibaba Cloud offers AI and cloud services to help battle COVID-19 worldwide

Alibaba Cloud said today it has offered medical personnel around the world advanced cloud-based technology applications in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The artificial intelligence-enhanced innovations are based on learnings and insights gathered during the initial outbreak of the virus.

The series of cloud-native anti-coronavirus solutions stem from joint efforts of Alibaba Cloud’s solution experts, scientists and researchers from Alibaba DAMO Academy and the technical team at DingTalk, one of the platforms UNESCO has tabbed as facilitating distance learning during the coronavirus outbreak.

Abigail Opiah has more here.

March 19, 10:58 – Data centre construction projects under threat from Covid-19 Coronavirus

Globally, the construction of new centres had been growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.61% since 2017, and was predicted to reach values of US$73.87bn by 2021. However, that trajectory is now unlikely to continue.

The pipeline of new data centres is under threat as the supply of labour and parts is halted by the international response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Europe, Asia and now the US, the complex web of specialist suppliers and subcontractors – who themselves are reliant on labour and parts – are now checking their contracts for force majeure clauses. 

Melanie Mingas reports more here.

March 18, 16:47 – UK data centre industry working with the government to secure “special passes” in case the country goes into lockdown

The UK data centre industry is in contact with the UK government to “try and secure special passes” for data centre workers, should the country go into locked, sources have told Data Economy.

“Operators have asked how critical facilities staff will get access to sites in the event of a full lockdown scenario, bearing in mind that most data centres are not designated CNI,” one of the sources said.

The move comes as internet exchanges, telecommunication providers and data centre operators face an unprecedented volume of traffic as millions of people shift to working from home.

If granted, the passes would be the clearest sign and recognition to date by Downing Street of the critical important digital infrastructure plays in the modern economy.

March 18, 12:49 – Uptime Institute launches advisory report for critical infrastructure operators

One of the world’s largest data centre organisations, the Uptime Institute, has launched an advisory report for data centre operators to help them prepare, safeguard and mitigate business risks to their infrastructure and services.

Developing a specific pandemic preparedness plan, maintaining communication with staff, customers and partners, and allowing no cross-contact of teams, even outside the work environment are just some of the moves companies can take.

You can access the document here.

March 18, 12:05 – After cancelling its in-person show, Google has now postponed the online version of Cloud Next

Google has postponed its digital version of Cloud Next after the company was forced by the Coronavirus to cancel the real-life event due to have taken place from the 6th of April to the 8th.

The company said in a statement that Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect has been postponed until further notice due to the “concern for the health and safety of our customers, partners, employees and local communities, and based on recent decisions made by the federal and local governments regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19).”

Alison Wagonfeld, Google Cloud’s chief marketing officer, wrote: “Right now, the most important thing we can do is focus our attention on supporting our customers, partners, and each other.

“Please know that we are fully committed to bringing Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect to life, but will hold the event when the timing is right. We will share the new date when we have a better sense of the evolving situation.”

March 18, 9:12 – HP CEO: “Please stay safe”

In an open letter sent to employees, HP president and CEO Enrique Lores has advised the workforce to stay safe during the Coronavirus outbreak.

“Times like these remind us all what’s most important in our lives, and HP is here to support you in any way we can. Like you, we are closely following guidance from public health authorities to mitigate risk,” Lores writes.

The company, through the HP Foundation, has also donated US$1 million to support communities. HP has also given out equipment such as computers and printers to hospitals operating in areas dealing with he outbreak.

March 17, 21:42 – Data centre businesses rally on markets fightback after governments around the world pour more than $1.5tr into economies

Here’s how the markets reacted to today’s news through the eyes of public traded data centre companies:

  • Equinix (EQIX): 575.18 USD +32.75 (+6.04%)
  • Digital Realty (DLR): 138.24 USD +9.93 (+7.74%)
  • QTS Realty Trust (QTS): 54.18 USD +4.11 (+8.21%)
  • CyrusOne (CONE): 53.25 USD +4.75 (+9.79%)
  • Switch (SWCH): 11.64 USD −0.12 (-1.02%)
  • CoreSite (COR): 108.12 USD +7.84 (+7.82%)
  • NTT (9432): 2,309 JPY +38 (+1.65%)
  • GDS Holdings (GDS): 52.10 USD +3.88 (+8.05%)
  • NextDC (NXT): 7.15 AUD +0.57 (+8.66%)
  • Schneider Electric (SU): 73.40 EUR +2.98 (+4.23%)
  • Vertiv (VRT): 7.25 USD −0.48 (-6.21%)

March 17, 20:58 – Facebook Live could be used to stream funerals in latest social distancing measure

Facebook could step up its contribution in helping with the crisis by partnering with funeral homes and broadcast funerals through Facebook Live.

The ideas being looked at by British funeral directors, however, it is not new. Several funeral homes already broadcast funerals live to people living abroad.

March 17, 18:18 – Uber and Lyft suspend shared rides

Two of the world’s largest share riding businesses, Uber Technologies and Lyft have suspended shared ride services in London and Paris, with the US and Canada set to follow as well as other geographies.

The apps normal taxi services as el as Uber Eats continue to operate as normal, however, Uber said it is in constant contact with local authorities and services could change according to the advice they might receive.

March 17, 16:02 – World’s largest tech companies combine forces in the fight against Covid-19 outbreak

Google and Youtube, as well as its parent company Alphabet, Microsoft and LinkedIn, Reddit, Twitter and Facebook have come together to “help millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation”.

The group of tech giants has invited other companies to join the group in an unprecedented move for the tech industry.

March 17, 1:57 – Microsoft closes all retail stores to tackle COVID-19 pandemic

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has announced the temporary closing down of all its retail store locations as the COVID-19 outbreak continues.

The company has 116 stores in total, which will be shut down until further notice.

“We know families, remote workers and businesses are under unique pressure at this time, and we are still here to serve you online at,” the company said in a statement.

“We are deeply committed to our valuable team and appreciate their support of their local opportunities.

“All of our Microsoft Store employees affected by this outbreak can count on being paid for their regularly scheduled hours – whether due to store closures, reduced store hours or other circumstances outlined by our HR guidance.”

March 17, 14:37 – UK mobile networks go into meltdown as Coronavirus forces home working

The UK’s major mobile networks have been experiencing outages this morning as millions of people have been forced to work from home due to the Coronavirus.

According to real-time outage monitor, Down Detector, issues were being reported as early as 9:14am GMT, with networks including Vodafone, O2, 3, Virgin, Vodafone, Tesco, GiffGaff and EE, all being affected.

Natalie Bannerman has more here for Capacity Media.

With the peak of the pandemic expected to hit many countries only between May and July, the Covid-19 pandemic is prone to affect all businesses in one way or another.

March 16, 13:47 Here’s 7 things data centre businesses should do during the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic

With the world rapidly coming to halt and no end in sight, Data Economy shares some ideas on how data centre operators can weather the storm.

From João Marques Lima here.

March 13, 12:40 – BT’s CEO self-isolates amid coronavirus diagnosis

Philip Jansen, CEO of BT Group has tested positive for COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and following health protocols is having to self-isolate.

In a statement on the BT Group website, the company confirmed that it is working closely with Public Health England to carry out “a full deep clean” of parts of its Group headquarters and will support any employees who have had contact with Philip ensuring they are “appropriately advised”.

Natalie Bannerman writes for Capacity Media here.

March 12, 15:00 – Datacloud Global Congress in Monaco announces rescheduled dates for 7-8-9 December 2020

After discussions with industry partners, BroadGroup the producers of Datacloud Global Congress and Awards, has taken the decision to reschedule the annual June dates for the event in Monaco to 7-9 December 2020.

Because of the unfolding impact of Covid-19 and its impact on global travel and business, the company believes it is of importance to give clarity to its customers at a time of great uncertainty.

Read the official announcement by the organisers here.

March 12, 13:57 – DE-CIX sees record-level network traffic caused by COVID-19 virus pandemic

DE-CIX (the Deutsche Commercial Internet Exchange) in Frankfurt set a new world record for data throughput on Tuesday evening this week, driven by increased internet usage related to the Coronavirus outbreak.

It was in December 2019 that DE-CIX in Frankfurt hit the 8 Terabits-per-second mark, and it has now increased its data throughput by more than 12% in just a couple of months.

Abigail Opiah reports more here.


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March 10, 15:02 Coronavirus outbreak to wipe off $70m to $90m from Vertiv’s Q1

Vertiv Holdings Co (NYSE: VRT) reported its full-year 2019 financial results with net sales of $4.4 billion, 3.4% higher than 2018, and 5.6% higher on an organic basis when adjusted for changes in foreign currency exchange rates.

The company reported a full-year 2019 net loss of $141 million declined 55% and adjusted EBITDA of $542 million increased 7.8% from 2018 driven by the higher sales and a 50 basis point improvement in adjusted EBITDA margin to 12.2%.

Abigail Opiah writes more here.

March 6, 19:24 – Iron Mountain sends customer service advisory letters to clients and partners

Answering to the global crisis, Mark Kidd, EVP & General Manager at Iron Mountain Data Centers, has sent a letter to clients and partners on how the company is dealing with the crisis and what the next steps will be for the business.

Read the full letter here.

March 5, 09:55 – Coronavirus cancellations near $1 billion

The event economy is likely to suffer losses of US$1 billion as a direct result of tech industry event cancellations due to coronavirus.

The figure – calculated by PredictHQ and currently standing at $900 million  –  is based on the median fundamental costs incurred by delegates while attending specific major events, which were scheduled for the coming months. Naturally, as more events are cancelled the figure will increase, however, the actual losses to event organisers and hosts are unlikely to be calculated due to the sensitivity of the data.

Melanie Mingas writes for Capacity Media here.

March 4, 12:38 Tech losses mount as Google and Microsoft cancel events over COVID-19

Google is the latest to cancel its flagship 2020 event, as new data estimates total losses could reach $900 million.

The Google I/O conference, scheduled to take place at Shoreline Amphitheatre, in Mountain View, CA, from 12th May, has been cancelled following health guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, Google Cloud Next 20 will still take place as a series of virtual sessions and live-streamed keynotes.

Melanie Mingas reports here.

February 24, 11:46 Alibaba to give out free cloud to help businesses affected by Coronavirus

Alibaba Cloud is offering $1,000 of credits to purchase cloud services to organisations that have been impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak, to ensure business stability.

In the company’s December quarter 2019 results, Daniel Zhang, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Alibaba Group said that the company mobilised Alibaba ecosystem’s forces of commerce and technology to fully support the fight against the outbreak.

Abigail Opiah reports here.

Schneider Electric chairman and CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire takes to the stage at the company’s Innovation Summit 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. Photo: Schneider Electric

February 20, 14:41 Schneider Electric expects to recover from €300m revenue blow caused by Coronavirus

Schneider Electric has announced its fourth-quarter revenues and full-year results for the period ending December 31, 2019.

The France-based company reported €27.2bn revenues for the full year of 2019, a growth of +6%, and an organic growth of +4.2% with growth across businesses and all regions.

The company said that it is assessing the impact of the Coronavirus to the business, and stated that there will be an impact in Q1 2020 due to factory closures in January and February.

Abigail Opiah has the story here.

February 13, 14:08 – Alibaba Cloud sees big growth, aims for public cloud expansion

Alibaba Cloud maintained high growth for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2019, with revenue growing 62% year-over-year to RMB10.721bn (US$1.540bn). The growth was reported as part of parent Alibaba Group’s (NYSE: BABA and HKEX: 9988) posted quarterly results.

The leading Chinese cloud service provider said sales were driven from both its public cloud and hybrid cloud businesses. Ahead of its 11.11 Global Shopping Festival during the quarter, Alibaba Cloud said it enabled the migration of the Alibaba Group’s core ecommerce businesses onto its public cloud.

Antony Savvas reports.

February 13, 14:08 – Tencent pledges another $143m in response to the outbreak

As China’s death toll passes 1,300 following the ongoing outbreak of the Coronavirus, Chinese tech company Tencent has rallied funds to aid in the fight against the mass spread.

Tencent announced the establishment of the “Comprehensive Security Fund for the Battle against Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia”, following the launch of the $42.9m (RMB300m) Outbreak Response Fund and the $28.6m (RMB200m) Developer Support Alliance Fund.

The Chinese internet-based platform company set up the Anti-Epidemic Fund by committing another $143m (RMB1bn) to support the battle against the Coronavirus.

Abigail Opiah has more on the story here.

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