NAB adds Google to mix as it continues its multi-cloud push


National Australia Bank’s multi-cloud strategy has expanded to encompass Google, NAB announced today.

The bank said that Google Cloud would join Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) in its portfolio of public cloud providers as it looks to migrate some 35 per cent of its applications to the cloud by the end of next year.

NAB’s chief technology and operations officer, Patrick Wright, cited Google’s strengths in data analytics, machine learning and container management as particular drawcards.

“Our customers are asking us to better understand their needs and to meet those expectations far more efficiently than we’ve been able to previously,” Wright said in a statement.

“Investment in data is a critical element of our digital transformation – to be able to use data to develop products and services to improve customer experiences and be able to anticipate their needs.”

In April 2018 the bank announced the launch of NAB Cloud Guild as it sought to build up its in-house cloud expertise. The program initially had a focus on AWS, with the bank using Amazon’s services for its initial foray into using public cloud to store and process its data.

In October 2018, NAB revealed details of its collaboration with Microsoft, including shifting key platforms such as SAP to Azure.

Later in 2018, the bank announced that although it was firmly in the multi-cloud camp, AWS had been selected as its “long term strategic cloud provider”. NAB said in November it believed some its core banking systems would be shifted to AWS by the end of 2019.

The bank revealed earlier this year that in the six months ended 31 March it moved 128 applications on to cloud services, with 198 of its applications now running on cloud infrastructure. NAB has also moved to aggressively shut down legacy applications.

The bank said today that it now had 400 applications in the cloud, with its overall number of applications reduced by 8 per cent.

Wright said today in an interview released by NAB that competitive tension was one of the appealing aspects of the multi-cloud approach. The NAB CTOO said that multi-cloud enabled the bank to shift workloads across platforms and integrate a range of tools and capabilities.

“We’re designing our most critical applications to be portable between cloud partners to avoid concentration risk which is an important regulatory and risk consideration,” Wright said in a statement.

“We also want to tap into the advanced capabilities of the world’s best cloud providers to improve customer experience,” the NAB tech executive said.

“Google’s history of embracing open source technology enhances our ability to orchestrate infrastructure effectively across multi-cloud environments, and their software-based platform, Anthos, is a unique solution that we’ll explore further over time.”

NAB has added GCP training modules to its NAB Cloud and Analytics Guild education program. It said it will also move to integrate GCP capabilities into the NAB Discovery Cloud and Data Hub.

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Tags Cloudcloud computingGooglemicrosoft azureNABAmazon Web Services (AWS)Google Cloud Platform




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VMware to back ASX blockchain push in Australia and NZ


ASX, which operates the Australian Securities Exchange, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Digital Asset and VMware to work together on initiatives based around blockchain-style distributed ledger technology (DLT).

ASX said that Digital Asset and VMware would support its plan to offer support for DLT implementations in the Australian and New Zealand markets.

ASX is currently in the middle of one of the most prominent efforts to put blockchain-inspired technology into production, outside of cryptocurrencies. The exchange operator is building out a replacement for its CHESS system. The COBOL-based CHESS delivers clearing, settlement, and asset registration services, and has been in operation since 1994.

ASX says that the DLT-based replacement for the system will offer a number of advantages for market participants, but will also allow it and other companies to build new services that interact system via Digital Asset Modeling Language (DAML): An open source ‘smart contract’ language designed by Digital Asset.

The new ASX-operated system is expected to go live in 2021. In April, ASX revealed it had launched a development environment for the CHESS replacement.

ASX in 2016 acquired a 5 per cent stake in the US-based Digital Asset as part of its move to implement a DLT-based replacement for CHESS.

ASX said that the three-party MoU covers development the new system, supporting DAML, and the “provision and support of the distributed ledger and associated infrastructure, which
delivers ASX’s data privacy, confidentiality and security requirements at greater scale”.

Beyond replacing CHESS, however, the MoU will lay the basis for working together to provide and support DLT for other customers in the A/NZ markets.

ASX has established a “DLT Solutions” team as part of its efforts to capitalise on its experience of implementing an enterprise-grade DLT system. 

“This new partnership is a very positive development that will help us support a wider range of DLT solutions developed by the industry,” said ASX deputy CEO Peter Hiom. “It confirms our belief in the potential of DLT as we remain on track to deliver the CHESS replacement system in March-April 2021.”

“We continue to achieve our milestones to deliver a production-grade, scalable distributed ledger solution for CHESS,” said Yuval Rooz, the co-founder and CEO of Digital Asset.

“VMware is now part of the mission we share with ASX to deliver a DAML-based distributed infrastructure to realise the full potential of this technology.”

VMware’s chief research officer David Tennenhouse said the virtualization heavyweight was “working closely with DA and ASX on a combined offering to provide the enterprise-grade foundation for ASX, and we look forward to expanding our relationship”.

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Tags VMwareASXBlockchainDigital AssetDistributed Ledger Technology (DLT)

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Cloudflare’s Magic Transit lets you push your entire IP traffic through its servers



Cloudflare today announced the launch of its latest network security product, called Magic Transit. This service allows organizations to send their entire network traffic through Cloudflare’s secure and performance-optimized network, offering protections against DDoS attacks, while simultaneously boosting speeds.

Magic Transit supports any IP protocol or standard, so you could just as easily connect games or email servers to it as you would a standard web server. That’s important because, as we’ve seen in recent years, DDoS attacks have morphed to include other common networked applications, like DNS servers (the Mirai attack of 2016 being perhaps the best example of that).

The tool also includes a suite of network security tools, including packet filtering and firewalling, as well as other features that’ll be useful for high-demand applications, like load balancing and traffic management.

Cloudflare’s network heavily uses artificial intelligence to intelligently route packets, thereby reducing latency and avoiding bottlenecks. This’ll undoubtedly be useful for users of performance-sensitive applications, like games servers or high-frequency trading bots.

Traffic is passed through Cloudflare’s network of data centers, which are in 193 cities across 91 countries, including several emerging markets. The latter point is crucial, as it makes Magic Transit a viable option for customers in Africa and Asia.

“We have gotten very good at securing and accelerating anything on the web, but wanted to extend our capabilities to everyone,” said Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare, in a statement. “With Magic Transit, customers can use us to secure and accelerate any packet for any protocol, across any path.”

Pricing is determined on a per-user basis, with costs varying based on the size of network footprint, and the levels of traffic sent through Cloudflare’s network. More information can be found on the company’s product page for Magic Transit, as well as its announcement blog.


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Call of Duty’s push for crossplay is exactly what the industry needs



Activision today confirmed that the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will have crossplay on all of its consoles, from launch. It’s a watershed moment for the people who’ve been pushing for more crossplay in mainstream games — and, with a game this popular paving the way, it’ll likely only become more common now.

To be clear, we’ve known for a while that developer Infinity Ward intended to put crossplay in Modern Warfare, just not how it was going to work and with what systems. The open multiplayer beta, which was shown today, will launch in two parts this September. The first part will be PS4-exclusive, and the second part will have crossplay between all three platforms: PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Patrick Kelly, creative director and co-studio head of developer Infinity Ward, confirmed in a press release the team intended to have crossplay active from launch onward: “Our goal with Modern Warfare is to bring all gamers together from day one to play together.”

Crossplay, formerly a rare bird, is becoming more common in modern multiplayer games, thanks in part to the influence of Fortnite and Rocket League. It’s usually added after the fact, and often only between specific systems. The crossplay you saw this time three years ago was usually console/PC crossover. Anything more extensive than that just wasn’t done, though last year more and more people began requesting it.

It reached fever pitch with Fortnite, which had crossplay with almost all of its devices. Sony was the final holdout, resisting console crossplay ostensibly to protect its own community. Microsoft and Nintendo stoked the fires by offering crossplay on some of their games, and took what felt like a pointed jab at their fellow console-maker with a Minecraft crossplay trailer. Sony eventually, begrudgingly relented by offering crossplay on Fortnite. I pointed out once that it’d take a big studio pushing for crossplay for a AAA game that would really make it happen — and that appears to be exactly what happened.

Word is that crossplay players will be separated into two separate pools by input: keyboard players and controller players. As the former frequently have a slight advantage over the latter, it stands to reason they’ll be better off competing with each other. This was allegedly confirmed when a member of the development team tweeted a Forbes article describing “input matchmaking” and said it was accurate.

Modern Warfare comes out on October 25 on all three platforms.




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