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IBM tossed £20m to keep the Trace side of NHS Test and Trace services running
Thursday, 26 August 2021 00:06

HTTP/2 200 date: Thu, 26 Aug 2021 02:00:06 GMT content-type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 link: ; rel=preload; as=script;,/2a187785310f54560b573b276050c65f990d7d12/javascript/_.js>; rel=preload; as=script;,/default/82a7662fa59348b11e792d1684679c0a86db35e7/scaffolding.css>; rel=preload; as=style;,/default/82a7662fa59348b11e792d1684679c0a86db35e7/design.css>; rel=preload; as=style;,/5e49edbd1875f214e0decae1e24b200066780fa8/style/fonts/arimo/arimo-700.latin.woff2>; rel=preload; as=font; crossorigin;,/5e49edbd1875f214e0decae1e24b200066780fa8/style/fonts/arimo/arimo-400.latin.woff2>; rel=preload; as=font; crossorigin; cache-control: max-age=0 expires: Thu, 26 Aug 2021 02:00:06 GMT vary: Accept-Encoding x-reg-bofh: pfy01us x-clacks-overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett, Lester Haines cf-cache-status: DYNAMIC expect-ct: max-age=604800, report-uri="https://report-uri.cloudflare.com/cdn-cgi/beacon/expect-ct" server: cloudflare cf-ray: 684976ecbcd362de-SYD IBM tossed £20m to keep the Trace side of NHS Test and Trace services running • The Register

Big Blue continues to reap rewards from pandemic in the UK


IBM has been awarded a contract extension to provide its Strategic Trace Solution to the NHS Test and Trace service for England, securing additional fees of around £20m on the deal signed last year.

In a tender document published this week, the government revealed it has agreed to pay Big Blue £47.7m including the £25m fee agreed to work on the controversial Test and Trace service. The extension takes the supplier's expected time on the project until November 2023.

This follows an extension until September 2023, as per a contract announcement in July, which provides an IBM-built system based on the Salesforce platform.

Those changes were necessary because the IBM contract was drawn down from a framework agreement worth up to £3bn, which is due to come to an end in September 2021.

In the notice published in July, the Department of Health and Social Care said: "IBM is providing the overall Trace solution that has been launched and is already deeply integrated and embedded within systems. Due to the critical nature of the Trace programme, it would not be feasible for another supplier to provide these additional roles and adding another contractor to the mix would leave the solution open to disruption. IBM's personnel have the required expertise as to the solution and as IBM is a re-seller of Salesforce licences under the contract."

The notice said the value of the deal at the conclusion of the existing contract was £25m. That tallies with an earlier report from the National Audit Office [PDF], which put spending on IBM at £21m up to the end of March 2021. The total spend on Big Blue was set to be £46m, it said.

By far the biggest beneficiary of the Test and Trace programme, which spent £13.5bn in 2020-21, among consultancies, was Deloitte, which had an estimated contract value for £298m. The overall budget for Test and Trace is £37bn.

A report by spending watchdog the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), published in March, said Test and Trace failed to deliver on the central promise of averting another lockdown, which came before Christmas, followed by a third, more severe lockdown in the new year during the second wave.

Published in March, the PAC report said there was no clear evidence of Test and Trace's overall effectiveness and it was not clear whether its contribution to reducing infection levels justified "unimaginable" costs.

Although Test and Trace had to be set up and staffed at incredible speed, it must now "wean itself off its persistent reliance on consultants," the committee of MPs said.

Clearly, IBM is one of the IT support and consultancy organisations not quite ready to be weaned. ®

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In terms of its AI prowess, it is said it can achieve a maximum performance of 1.4 exaFLOPs at mixed-precision or FP16.

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Warning that the vuln had been included in Dark.IoT's botnet "less than a week" after it was publicly disclosed, Radware said: "This vulnerability was recently disclosed by IoT Inspectors Research Lab on August 16th and impacts IoT devices manufactured by 65 vendors relying on the Realtek chipsets and SDK."

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HTTP/2 200 date: Thu, 26 Aug 2021 02:00:06 GMT content-type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 link: ; rel=preload; as=script;,/2a187785310f54560b573b276050c65f990d7d12/javascript/_.js>; rel=preload; as=script;,/default/82a7662fa59348b11e792d1684679c0a86db35e7/scaffolding.css>; rel=preload; as=style;,/default/82a7662fa59348b11e792d1684679c0a86db35e7/design.css>; rel=preload; as=style;,/5e49edbd1875f214e0decae1e24b200066780fa8/style/fonts/arimo/arimo-700.latin.woff2>; rel=preload; as=font; crossorigin;,/5e49edbd1875f214e0decae1e24b200066780fa8/style/fonts/arimo/arimo-400.latin.woff2>; rel=preload; as=font; crossorigin; cache-control: max-age=0 expires: Thu, 26 Aug 2021 02:00:06 GMT vary: Accept-Encoding x-reg-bofh: pfy01us x-clacks-overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett, Lester Haines cf-cache-status: DYNAMIC expect-ct: max-age=604800, report-uri="https://report-uri.cloudflare.com/cdn-cgi/beacon/expect-ct" server: cloudflare cf-ray: 684976ecbcd362de-SYD IBM tossed £20m to keep the Trace side of NHS Test and Trace services running • The Register

Big Blue continues to reap rewards from pandemic in the UK


IBM has been awarded a contract extension to provide its Strategic Trace Solution to the NHS Test and Trace service for England, securing additional fees of around £20m on the deal signed last year.

In a tender document published this week, the government revealed it has agreed to pay Big Blue £47.7m including the £25m fee agreed to work on the controversial Test and Trace service. The extension takes the supplier's expected time on the project until November 2023.

This follows an extension until September 2023, as per a contract announcement in July, which provides an IBM-built system based on the Salesforce platform.

Those changes were necessary because the IBM contract was drawn down from a framework agreement worth up to £3bn, which is due to come to an end in September 2021.

In the notice published in July, the Department of Health and Social Care said: "IBM is providing the overall Trace solution that has been launched and is already deeply integrated and embedded within systems. Due to the critical nature of the Trace programme, it would not be feasible for another supplier to provide these additional roles and adding another contractor to the mix would leave the solution open to disruption. IBM's personnel have the required expertise as to the solution and as IBM is a re-seller of Salesforce licences under the contract."

The notice said the value of the deal at the conclusion of the existing contract was £25m. That tallies with an earlier report from the National Audit Office [PDF], which put spending on IBM at £21m up to the end of March 2021. The total spend on Big Blue was set to be £46m, it said.

By far the biggest beneficiary of the Test and Trace programme, which spent £13.5bn in 2020-21, among consultancies, was Deloitte, which had an estimated contract value for £298m. The overall budget for Test and Trace is £37bn.

A report by spending watchdog the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), published in March, said Test and Trace failed to deliver on the central promise of averting another lockdown, which came before Christmas, followed by a third, more severe lockdown in the new year during the second wave.

Published in March, the PAC report said there was no clear evidence of Test and Trace's overall effectiveness and it was not clear whether its contribution to reducing infection levels justified "unimaginable" costs.

Although Test and Trace had to be set up and staffed at incredible speed, it must now "wean itself off its persistent reliance on consultants," the committee of MPs said.

Clearly, IBM is one of the IT support and consultancy organisations not quite ready to be weaned. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

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Polaris will be capable of reaching 44 petaFLOPS of performance at double-precision or FP64, we're told, making it about as fast as the eighth most-powerful supercomputer in the latest top-500 list.

In terms of its AI prowess, it is said it can achieve a maximum performance of 1.4 exaFLOPs at mixed-precision or FP16.

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The California biz uses machine-learning algorithms to determine whether loud bangs caught by microphones deployed across more than 100 US cities are gunshots or not. If a shot is identified, the location of the noise is triangulated and sent to the police as an immediate, real-time alert, and reports are later compiled for prosecutors for use in court cases.

ShotSpotter is under the microscope right now because a 65-year-old man spent almost a year behind bars awaiting trial for murder – and the primary evidence against him was a disputed ShotSpotter report of a gunshot.

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As usual in the infosec world, the pair of security outfits can't agree on a name for this remote-access module. ESET refers to the malware as SideWalk and to the group responsible as SparklingGoblin; TrendMicro prefers ScrambleCross and calls the threat actor Earth Baku, even as it acknowledges that the miscreants are better known as APT41.

TrendMicro's researchers speculate that the design of the malware indicates that at least one member of the group is familiar with the tools and techniques of security red teams while the SideWalk/ScrambleCross backdoor suggests personnel with deep knowledge of low-level programming and advanced software development.

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The remote code execution flaw, CVE-2021-35395, was seen in Mirai malware binaries by threat intel firm Radware, which "found that new malware binaries were published on both loaders leveraged in the campaign."

Warning that the vuln had been included in Dark.IoT's botnet "less than a week" after it was publicly disclosed, Radware said: "This vulnerability was recently disclosed by IoT Inspectors Research Lab on August 16th and impacts IoT devices manufactured by 65 vendors relying on the Realtek chipsets and SDK."

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The new survey places Python, Java, C, and C++ as the top four programming languages. JavaScript, which typically tops such surveys, is in fifth place.

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Disappointingly called "Standard", the new tier is aimed at small teams and costs $5 per user per month (if you pay for a year up front) or $6 per user per month on a monthly basis.

"Standard" slots nicely between the freebie offering and "Business Class." The latter will henceforth be known as "Premium." The price, at $10 per user per month for a 12-month commitment, remains unchanged.

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The convention, administered by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), might not be capturing all the information it should do about human-made objects escaping from the Earth's atmosphere, Professor Moriba Jah, an aerospace engineer at the University of Texas at Austin, told The Register.

"The treaty says countries should register your object as soon as practicable and some countries interpret that as registering five years after the thing has been launched, and that makes no sense," Professor Jah said.

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Academics have put GitHub's Copilot to the test on the security front, and said they found that roughly 40 per cent of the time, code generated by the programming assistant is, at best, buggy, and at worst, potentially vulnerable to attack.

Copilot arrived with several caveats, such as its tendency to generate incorrect code, its proclivity for exposing secrets, and its problems judging software licenses. But the AI programming helper, based on OpenAI's Codex neural network, also has another shortcoming: just like humans, it may produce flimsy code.

That's perhaps unsurprising given that Copilot was trained on source code from GitHub and ingested all the bugs therein. Nonetheless, five boffins affiliated with New York University's Tandon School of Engineering felt it necessary to quantify the extent to which Copilot fulfills the dictum "garbage in, garbage out."

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On the 30th anniversary of the announcement of Linux by Linus Torvalds, Red Hat has said that it worked because of the way the OS was licensed.

In a post today celebrating the anniversary, Red Hat said: "The reason that Linux has been arguably the most successful operating system of all time is due to the fact that its license allowed copying, improvement, distribution and required sharing of changes. (Note that the license does not require collaboration, but the reciprocal nature of Linux strongly encourages it.)"

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The problem, as any visitor to the retail giant will attest, is actually knowing where one is in the temple of flatpacked furniture. We've certainly spent many an hour toiling around the Croydon branch in search of an exit and instead come away with several sacks of tea lights that remain unopened to this day.

So if we're not too sure of our in-store location, we're also not sure what Microsoft plans to do with the information. "It looks like you're about to have a relationship-ending row. Would you like some help with that?" is just the sort of perky advice we could do without.

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The Korean giant's efforts use its very fast Aquabolt high-bandwidth memory (HBM) architecture – tech to which the company added processing-in-memory (PIM) capabilities in February 2021. Samsung hasn't revealed a lot of detail about its PIM implementation, but The Register understands it involves placing a processing unit with unspecified specs alongside each cell array inside memory.

In early 2021 Samsung announced it had HBM and PIM working together in the same piece of silicon. Yesterday it announced it's made the two work inside a Xilinx Virtex Ultrascale+ (Alveo) AI accelerator, and also advanced HBM-PIM to a point at which it is ready for deployment inside DIMMS and mobile memory.

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Source: https://bit.ly/2XXlbdQ