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IT in the Time of COVID-19 Holding the world together while keeping IT ready-to-run in a post COVID-19 world
Ganesh Ramamoorthy Senior Vice President and Head of the IBM Ecosystem Business Unit | April 20, 2020
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Holding the world together while keeping IT ready-to-run in a post COVID-19 world

The most essential threats that a pandemic like COVID-19 (Corona Virus) presents to our way of life and work are:

  • Misinformation leading to social panic and related paranoia
  • Costly disruptions to trade and economies
  • Radical changes in our ability to operate as organizations and communities at a human level
  • Devaluation of traditional success measures leading to a vacuum for measuring steady progress
  • A knee-jerk backlash from parochially invested global power centres forcing the world back to a track of ignorance of the threats presented by such global disruptions and refusing to learn from them

From an IT solutions standpoint, some of the above have demonstrated an unprecedented level of challenge in our ability to adapt to cataclysmic times with ready-to-go solutions.

How can we hold the world together while keeping IT ready-to-run in a post COVID-19 world? Read more

But we are fighting back. A few critical areas where a vast spectrum of IT solutions providers are making strong commitments to get the world back on its feet and ready to face what comes ahead include:

  • The COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium – A unique public-private IT technology in COVID-19 high performance Computing Consortium is initiated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Department of Energy and IBM.  Amazon Web Services, AMD, Google Cloud, HPE, Microsoft and Nvidia are the technology partners to this initiative. The consortium aims to bring together federal government, industry, and academic leaders by volunteering free compute time and resources on their world-class machines. Over 366 petaflops, 64,092 nodes, 2,839,772 CPU cores, 36,058 GPUs, and counting are already being committed to this mega super-computing pool.
  • Corona Virus Drug and Clinical Resource Catalog – Information on disease and evidence-based drug to support the medical fraternity to combat infectious diseases like COVID-19. This complimentary online resource catalog is a selection of critical content from the new DynaMed and Micromedex With IBM Watson Search.
  • Watson Assistant for Citizens – Available at https://www.ibm.com/watson/covid-response this page is being offered to state and local authorities free of charge to increase query responses and first call answers for people looking for help dealing with the outbreak.
  • Video Streaming on Cloud– The provision of streaming public events to a wide spectrum of audiences amounting to millions of hours of concurrent viewer access across the globe, every day. This is especially relevant for public interest messaging, personal entertainment available while complying with stay-at-home directives, and online education. Providers include Zoom, Webex, Microsoft, Google, IBM, media streaming and content publishing houses, device manufacturers like Roku, major film studios that are allowing concurrent playback of video content on multiple online channels and devices, start-ups providing meta-media search browsers covering arts, dance, opera and more.
  • Commerce Solutions - With COVID-19 disrupting the supply chains, major technology platforms have been leveraged to help existing and prospective clients, such as Federal/public clients managing medical supplies, Corona virus testing kits, future vaccines, or retailers forced to shut down their stores and migrate to the BOPIS (buy online pick-up in store) strategy.
  • Remote Work Environments and Heavy-duty Content Transfers through Cloud –  Multiple facilities for WFH policy implementation, business continuity, data protection and multi-device access for non-sensitive heavy data intensive workloads.
  • Analytical Tools - School and campus closures have created a need to access learning tools online. SPSS Statistics Campus client agreements now allow virtual computing and/or home use of SPSS Statistics (on-premises software) at no additional cost.
  • Secure Data Gateways – The solution providers are experiencing a spike in demand for the services, putting a lot of pressure on existing systems. To help them protect their critical IT infrastructure from overwhelming demand and security exposures, organizations like IBM allows its DataPower clients extended entitlement during this challenging period.
  • Enterprise Cyber Security – An increasing number of technology companies have offered access to their solutions on zero-charge to aid clients in reorienting their security programs and operations to protect remote workers. Many companies have gone ahead and offered guidance to address critical security needs and protection from cyber criminals in a vulnerable situation like this.
  • Call for Code Global Challenge addressing COVID-19 – The Call for Code has managed society’s most trying issues since inception. The target this year is to address the more topical crisis that the world is facing today– from testing kits to drug discovery, and supply chain.

While the immediate pandemic crisis will be diminished in some time, the lasting impact of COVID-19 in terms of the loss of lives and worldly valuables, and the aftermath of such global risks cannot be ignored. Most of our generation have not seen the impact of devastation of this scale, barring a few much-cherished grand survivors of the last World War II. We will do well to remember that life on this fragile planet, which frequently operates on the razor edge of catastrophe and calamity needs oodles of white-glove hand-holding attention as it gets older, because even today there is no other viable Plan B in the rest of the universe for mankind.