Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: how first responders are finally embracing the benefits of cloud-based 911 call centers despite outage worries, Broadcom is expected to bid big for VMware and the latest rounds of funding raised by enterprise tech startups.
According to to Confluent’s new research. 32% of respondents said they “struggle” to operate with cloud providers and their own data centers, and only 39% believe they are “fully prepared” for such a future.
The last recalcitrants of the cloud
Dialing 911 could be the most important phone call you’ll ever make. But what happens when the software supposed to provide this call fails? It may sound simple, but the technology behind a call for help is complicated and, if it fails, deadly.
The infrastructure supporting emergency call centers is one of the most critical assets for any city, town or local government. But just as the pandemic has exposed the creaky tech infrastructure that runs local governments, in many cases the technology in these call centers is outdated and untouched in decades.
- But in an industry where seconds can be the difference between life and deathmany public safety departments are reluctant to take risks on new cloud-based technologies.
- However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of the limitations of their current systems.
- The need for increased resilience in the face of outages or natural disasters, the desire for better location data, and the benefits of introducing more means of communicating with first responders via text or video are pushing some 911 systems into the cloud.
The first call to 911 was made only 40 to 50 years ago, said Robin Erkkila, 911 solutions engineer at software company Bandwidth.
- Although it seems simple at first glance, dialing 911 requires the interaction of a number of parties, from telecommunications providers and device manufacturers to local governments and first responders.
- When a 911 call is made in the modern era, it likely goes first to a cell phone carrier and then to the 911 network normally operated by state governments, where it is then routed to a response point of public safety, or PSAP, said Brandon Abley, chief technology officer for the National Emergency Number Association.
- At every step of this process, some form of technology is involved, whether it’s verifying a caller’s location or identifying the nearest fire station.
- However, “essentially what has happened is that since the 1970s and 1980s the technology hasn’t changed much,” said Alex Dizengof, co-founder and CTO of the emergency communications provider based on the Carbyne cloud.
Emergency call centers still face many of the same challenges as traditional on-site contact centers.
- Like traditional contact centers, some 911 dispatch centers are limited in the number of calls they can handle or are subject to the impacts of physical damage in the event of a natural disaster.
- In most contact centers, the number of calls that can be handled simultaneously is limited. While this may be inconvenient for a traditional contact center, it is essential to the mission of 911.
- During a national emergency such as a hurricane or earthquake, a PSAP might receive several dozen or even hundreds of calls at once, but only be able to handle 14 simultaneously, Dizengof said.
- In other cases, a natural disaster may completely overtake a public safety response point, preventing dispatch operators from communicating with first responders.
Cloud migration has the potential to solve many challenges that 911 call centers face, whether providing flexibility to adapt call center seating seamlessly or enabling better resilience in the face of outages or natural disasters.
- Scalability is one of the traditional benefits of the cloud, providing the ability to scale capacity up or down as needed without having to pay for a fixed number of physical seats.
- A sheriff’s office can’t necessarily afford to build a contact center that operates dozens of seats or thousands of backup servers, Abley said.
- The cloud also provides much-needed resiliency for a mission-critical operation that needs to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- The migration of 911 to the cloud also opens up new avenues for citizens to communicate with first responders. In many large-scale emergencies, ordinary citizens often share photos and videos via social media, but have no means of providing that information to first responders.
While there are benefits to upgrading analog phone networks to the cloud, there are also definitely downsides to relying on any cloud service.
- Operating over the public Internet can make 911 systems more vulnerable to cyberattacks or downtime in the event of an Internet outage.
- Even a single coding error can prevent thousands of people from reaching 911.
In the future, cloud-911 proponents believe that additional features such as AI, natural language processing and automation will make 911 even more responsive, allowing dispatchers to route calls more accurately, provide automated responses when appropriate, or group similar incidents together.
- As the world modernizes its technology at a dizzying pace, emergency services remain an arena in which to strive for safety and security, even at the risk of using outdated technologies.
- “It’s a very critical system,” Dizengof said. “It is the most critical infrastructure a county can have and the most critical source of information.”
- “Seven or eight years ago you had big companies that were wary of the cloud, cloud services. They aren’t anymore, but they used to be,” Abley said. “And public safety is still culturally a few years behind, technologically speaking.”
— Aisha counts (E-mail | Twitter)
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Just when I thought I was out…
VMware’s independence as a standalone company may be short-lived.
Chipmaker Broadcom is reportedly in talks to acquire the virtualization and cloud computing software company for $60 billion, the two Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.
News of the talks comes nearly seven months after VMware spun off from Dell Technologies last November.
“A VMware acquisition would roughly triple the size of Broadcom’s software segment, and bring the overall software mix to nearly 50% for the combined company,” Bernstein analysts wrote in a research note on Monday.
Broadcom diversified beyond its semiconductor business after the Trump administration blocked the then Singapore-based company from taking over mobile chipmaker Qualcomm in 2018, citing China-related national security concerns. . Broadcom then moved its headquarters to California and made two software games, acquiring CA Technologies that year for $18.9 billion and Symantec’s enterprise security business for $10.7 billion in 2019.
“We note that Broadcom took 60-70% of the cost base from CA and Symantec after the purchase; a similar degree of synergies would suggest they could be aiming for more than $5 billion in cost savings (if possible) from a VMware acquisition,” Bernstein analysts said.
VMware, which started out as a hypervisor pioneer, has moved into what CEO Raghu Raghuram calls the third phase of its evolution: helping customers navigate a distributed, multicloud world and hybrid work. In an interview with Protocol this month, Raghuram touted VMware’s freedom from Dell and its new position as “Switzerland of the industry” with its ability to now partner with top cloud providers. , infrastructure and industry software.
“The second [benefit] is … it reinforces our M&A strategy down the road because it gives us the ability to use our stocks as currency in addition to cash,” Raghuram told Protocol.
VMware is expected to release its first-quarter results on Thursday, while Broadcom’s second-quarter earnings call is scheduled for June 2.
— Donna Goodison (E-mail | Twitter)
Involve the data been valued at over $1 billion after raising $100 million for its real-time analytics database.
Glean been valued at $1 billion after raising $100 million to help companies research SaaS workplace apps.
Overall speed raised $400 million to simplify the hiring process for remote and international workers.
Inflection AI raised $225 million to create AI software products that facilitate communication between humans and computers.
path lock raised $200 million to develop access governance and application security tools.
Near raised $100 million for its privacy-focused data intelligence platform.
GreyOrange raised $110 million for its cloud-based artificial intelligence software that powers warehouse robotics.
— Aisha counts (E-mail | Twitter)
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