Jong Management meets Haarlem.Tech

Jong Management meets Haarlem.Tech

On Wednesday 16 October 2019, the Haarlem.Tech team had the pleasure to welcome a group from Jong Management Haarlem to the hub, to introduce our initiative and enjoy a fun afternoon of networking. Our core partner, Iron Mountain Data Centers (IMDC), also treated us to a very informative tour of the AMS-1 data center where our office is located. Overview of a memorable day.

Who are Jong Management?

Jong Management is an association for entrepreneurs, directors and managers of up to 40 years old from all over the Netherlands. It exists to give young leaders the opportunity to meet others like them, so they can build lasting friendships, share ideas and extend their business networks. With an history going back over 100 years, Jong Management is the oldest employer organization in the country. 

Today, Jong Management has more than 1000 members, and consists of 29 local circles. Every year, the association organises 300+ events and activities, both at the local and national levels, from workshops and company visits to international conferences, golf tournaments or even an ‘Entrepreneur of the year’ election. You can read more about what they are up to on their website

A visit to Haarlem.Tech

Thanks to its members’ and followers’ kind votes, Haarlem.Tech won the 2019 Coworker Members Choice award for best co-working space in Haarlem. Check out the hub’s coworker profile here.

Following the great news, Jong Management Haarlem figured it was time they come to see for themselves what we are all about. We were of course happy to oblige, and a nice group of around 10 people – leaders from Gemeente Haarlem and entrepreneurs of the Haarlemmermeer area – answered present. The event kicked off with our founders, Max and Edwin, giving a short presentation about Haarlem.Tech’s concept, community and future plans.

One of our community members, fast growing start-up Pharmaoffer, was also given some time to showcase their great business model to our attentive visitors. Pharmaoffer is less than a year old, but they are already seen by many as a promising potential ‘Amazon’ for pharmaceutical products. This online marketplace connects pharmacists worldwide with manufacturers and suppliers of pharmaceutical raw materials. Pharmaoffer was recently shortlisted as a finalist of the CPhiAwards for supply chain and logistics, a great honour in the pharmaceutical industry. Follow them on LinkedIn to keep up with their exciting success story.

Welcome to the cloud: inside the Iron Mountain AMS-1 data center

As you may already know, Haarlem.Tech is hosted by one of the fastest growing data center services provider in the world, Iron Mountain Data Centers, with whom we maintain a privileged collaborative relationship. Iron Mountain and its people are always very supportive of our initiative, which is why we like to involve them in our events and make sure our connections also hear of the great work they do. Besides, it’s not every day you get to walk around one of the biggest data centers in the Netherlands, is it?

We were lucky to have Erwin Tielman, Iron Mountain’s business development executive for the Benelux market, as our tour guide for the afternoon. Erwin is clearly very passionate about colocation and the company he represents, which really added to our experience. Let’s summarize what we learnt with him during the tour.

Iron Mountain was founded in 1951 in the USA. What started as a paper records storage service protecting vital information from significant events throughout history (such as original recordings of Hollywood films or classified war documents), has now become a leading data storage and information management multinational company.

For more than 30 years, Iron mountain has been accompanying the digital transformation of its clients and guaranteeing colocation excellence with hyperscale-ready, secure and compliant datacenters giving efficient access to network carriers, cloud, and IT services providers. The company currently owns over 1400 facilities in 54 countries, including 15 data centers located in strategic locations on 3 continents. Over time, Iron Mountain has gained the trust of very important clients and is today serving 225.000+ customers worldwide – among which 95 % of the fortune 1000.

Furthermore, in the face of new challenges, Iron Mountain has been paving the way to a greener and more sustainable future, with for instance data centers powered by 100% renewable energy. 

The Amsterdam datacenter (AMS-1), a 23-acre campus, is currently Iron Mountain’s biggest data center in Europe. Alone, it accounts for 10% of all Dutch Internet traffic. The AMS-1 facility runs on 100% wind energy and has a low PUE ratio (Power Usage Effectiveness) of 1.1. The PUE is the ratio of total amount of energy used by a data center to the energy delivered exclusively to computing equipment; a low PUE is good as it means that most of the energy a data center consumes goes to computing equipment. The data center’s strategic position in the ‘FLAP’ (Frankfurt-London-Amsterdam-Paris) makes this facility centrally located in one of the largest global network ecosystems. With access to 50+ on-site carriers and room for growth, the AMS-1 data center is a very attractive location and the most logical choice to accommodate the needs of  enterprise, cloud and hyperscale providers.

Erwin took us across the data halls while explaining the different procedures that are in place for security and data protection, cooling the equipment, and reducing any potential risk of damage… Thank you, Erwin, for this fascinating tour!

 

If you also want to see what the cloud actually looks like and where your data sleeps at night, you can request to schedule a tour with Iron Mountain directly on their website.

 

After all these emotions, it was time to end the event with a gezellige borrel. We will definitely try to organise more of these nice networking days in Haarlem.Tech, so stay tuned and try to join us next time!

 

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Afterword: ALEXA meetup 2019, second edition

Afterword: ALEXA meetup 2019, second edition

At Haarlem.Tech, we love technology, we live technology, so much so in fact that we totally forgot about the other thing that unites crowds and connects humans: football. On Tuesday April 16, while the Ajax football club were offering an unexpected victory to their many fans, we and the Haarlem.Tech community were having another fun evening meetup about Artificial Intelligence, wondering where everyone else was at.

Not to worry, a few people still showed up, and there was pizza leftover which, let’s face it, is worth missing football for any day.  For those of you who couldn’t make it to the meetup, let’s summarise a bit what was said and how we ended up somehow discussing the eventual future robot uprising with pints of delicious Dutch beer in our hands.

 

About Alexa

Complete science fiction just a couple of decades ago, speech recognition is today one of the most remarkable advancements in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Thanks to Voice Command Devices, humans are now able to have live conversations with virtual assistants on smartphones and smart speakers, without even pressing a single button. The ultimate goal in the quest to humanise technology is to teach computers to mimic human interactions in the most natural way possible, with emotions and the whole shebang. Can you imagine if your home assistant device could order you to do the dishes or complain about your smelly feet, just as realistically as a real human girlfriend would? Well, this might be happening sooner than we think…

At the meetup, we focused on one particular virtual assistant, pioneer and very successful on the market: Alexa, developed by Amazon Web Services. Alexa is a superstar as far as Voice User Interface (VUI) goes; it is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making lists, setting alarms and scheduled reminders, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, providing real-time information such as news, traffic, sports or weather… it can even control several smart devices inside your house and be used as a home automation system, managing lighting, home security, temperature, etc. If Alexa is currently “only” programmed to understand English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Japanese, it was announced by Amazon in January 2019 that over 100 million Alexa-enabled devices have already been sold.

And it’s not going to stop there. The possibilities are endless. Alexa is so versatile that users can extend their Alexa’s capabilities by installing “skills” – aka, additional functionality – themselves. Literally anyone can go ahead and build an Alexa Skill. Amazon has made available to the public an extensive collection of tools, tutorials, and APIs to help users taking their first steps within the fascinating world of machine learning. It could be you, check it out here.

 

Speakers

We invited Alexa experts to give presentations at the meetup and with them we discussed the different levels of software infrastructure for the Alexa Voice User Interface, and how user-friendly it really is.

Our first speaker, who kindly came all the way from Madrid just for us, was Alexa Technical evangelist German Viscuso. Experienced developer, technical writer and consultant, he is dedicated to make technology approachable to others and develop communities around it. During his talk, German explored with us some of the exciting things that may well be in Alexa’s near future. He mentioned for instance Alexa latest text-to-speech system, which uses a generative neural network and can learn to employ a newscaster style from just a few hours of training data. Or the new whisper mode which is available since 2018, and is quite handy when you want to speak to Alexa without disturbing your wife sleeping next to you. When it comes to make its spoken delivery as natural as possible and sound almost human-like, Alexa is learning fast. And it’s just the beginning!

Our second speaker was Jieke Pan, passionate about team leadership and extreme programming, and director of engineering at Mobiquity Inc, a digital consulting company that partners with the world’s leading brands to design and deliver compelling digital services for their customers. Jieke told us specifically about the GoodNes skill that Mobiquity developed for the giant Nestlé using Alexa VUI: GoodNes combines voice and visual to create a smart cooking assistant and provide the ultimate cooking experience to users.

 

Things to look forward to

Although so far virtual assistants continue to speak in a relatively robotic, monotonous, emotionless way, it won’t be too long until the programming wizards of planet Earth manage to develop the technology to give the perfect illusion of a natural, spontaneous conversation, hence creating the ultimate user experience. All the big boys in the market are working hard on this and Amazon Alexa is no exception. Their latest text-to-speech system, which uses a generative neural network, can learn to employ a newscaster style from just a few hours of training data. The new whisper mode is available since 2018, and is quite handy when you want to speak to Alexa without waking up your wife next to you. These are just two examples of how fast Alexa is changing, and it’s just the beginning!

While enjoying our well-deserved post meetup drinks, we had lively debates and very interesting discussions regarding the future of Artificial Intelligence and how far humans are going to take it. It was overall a great evening.

 

Thanks for reading and we hope you can join us at the next meetup!

Serverless stories in a data center, Amazon Web Services meetup 2019

Serverless stories in a data center, Amazon Web Services meetup 2019

We had an amazing turn-up on 20 February 2019 for our first time hosting the Amazon Web Services user group meetup here in the Iron Mountain AMS-1 datacenter, in the heart of the Waarderpolder of Haarlem.

What is Serverless?

Serverless is a cloud-computing execution model where the cloud provider (in this case, Amazon Web Services Lambda) runs the server, which enables developers to build and run almost any applications and other backend services without worrying about infrastructure management tasks, such as system maintenance or capacity provisioning. Basically, it simplifies the process of deploying code into production, as it handles directly for the developers everything that is required for their applications to run smoothly and be scalable at wish. 

Serverless code can be used in conjunction with code deployed in traditional styles, or applications can be written to be purely serverless and use no provisioned servers at all.

Thank you

We’d like to thank all of those who showed up to the meetup, Haarlem.Tech regulars and new comers, we hope you had an interesting and fun evening!

Thank you also to our community member Tomoharu Ito, talented Alexa Skill builder, Alexa champion and active member of the AWS user group Netherlands, for organizing three great talks.

Finally, we extend our gratitude to the speakers who came to share their knowledge and expertise of Serverless technology with us: Danilo Poccia, who flew all the way from London to be at the meetup, and Michael Oshita and Takahiro Horike, who took time off their precious sleep to talk to us live from Japan in the middle of the night.

If you wish to reminisce on all that you’ve learnt about Serverless framework and step functions during the meetup, you can access and dowload Danilo’s presentation through this link https://lnkd.in/gk3giz8

Stay tuned to Haarlem.Tech’s website and social media for more great tech events.

Next up, our second edition of the Amazon Alexa meetups. Bring on April!


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