Service Provider Cloud

Apple Boosts the Enterprise Cloud

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which announced a partnership with Apple on collaboration applications last year, provided an update on that alliance this week. Cisco says it's optimized its wireless networking for iPhones and iPads. Cisco has also created a "fast lane" for business critical apps. "No longer will you have to ask your coworker to lay off the cat videos while you're on a Cisco WebEx or Spark Call on your iOS device; your IT department can now effortlessly prioritize the apps most critical to your business, helping you get the job done from your mobile device," says the spiel. And it's optimizing Cisco Spark to take advantage of the new VoiP integration with the iPhone's native phone app. (See Apple & Cisco Plot an Enterprise Fast Lane.)

Apple also has partnerships with SAP and IBM. (See Apple, SAP Partner on Mobile Cloud Apps and IBM, Apple Tie-Up Moving Into Cloud.)

Differential privacy
The next cloud announcement is applicable to every enterprise that is looking to track customer analytics while also protecting privacy. It's also just plain cool.

Apple faces a quandary: It wants to customize its services to suit individual customer needs, and make proactive suggestions based on what it thinks users will want. On the other hand, unlike competitors Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Facebook , Apple wants to do this without collecting customer data. Impossible, right?

Apple thinks it has gone a long way to solving this problem using a technique called "differential privacy," and plans to apply that toward improving QuickType and emoji suggestions, Spotlight deep link suggestions, and Notes.

Apple didn't say much about how that's going to work, but Matthew Greene, a cryptographer at John Hopkins University, describes how differential privacy works, and it's both simple and clever: You inject a controlled amount of random information -- noise -- into a database of customer information, then correct for that noise when extracting information. Voilà -- you've managed to collect information about groups while obfuscating information about any particular individual.

Another wrinkle on differential privacy uses "randomized response." Greene points to a Wikipedia explanation -- the short version is when asking individuals for information, you randomize some of the responses. You know how many responses you randomized, so you can correct for that factor in determining results.

Wikipedia uses the example of asking men whether they've visited prostitutes. The men are instructed to flip a coin, and answer "yes" if the coin comes up tails, regardless of whether they've actually visited a prostitute. The men are instructed to answer truthfully if the coin comes up heads. The researcher knows that half the responses are nonsense, and can correct the aggregate data without needing to know which half of the responses are bogus.

Other Apple announcements had to do with overall enhancements to the iPhone and Mac's productivity and security, such as making improvements to the way messages are displayed on the iOS lockscreen, eliminating the swipe-to-unlock gesture on newer iPhones in favor of TouchID, providing the ability to unlock the Mac from an Apple Watch, sharing clipboards between iOS and Mac devices and more. Also: there are New Message stickers and animations to pass the time with colleagues during boring meetings!

If you want to catch up with the announcements and don't want to sit through the official two-hour keynote video, here it is condensed to seven minutes:

Related posts:

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud.

Previous Page
2 of 2

Sign In