Learn how Infrastructure-as-a-Service company simplified its data center using Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) approach.
Adopting Cisco’s ACI, NetApp experienced:
• Improvements in the density of throughput and cost per port
• Increased productivity of the infrastructure
• Integrated visibility and intelligence
• Agility enablement of the entire application infrastructure
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Networking giant Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) is set to report its fourth-quarter results on Wednesday after market close, with investors closely looking at order trends, and seeking updates to the company's full-year 2024 outlook.
Wall Street analysts expect Cisco to post earnings per share of $1.06 on revenues of $15.05 billion, which would mark a jump of nearly 15% year-over-year.
While analysts expect the network equipment maker to suffer from weak cloud service provider sales, they expect it to be offset by improving enterprise spending, supporting revenue growth.
Cisco shares have surged over 11% YTD.
Investors will be watching for any updates to the company's 2024 guidance, seeing if the company can stick to its previously provided full-year outlook.
In June, the company unveiled two new AI-focused networking chips to compete with existing rival offerings.
Seeking Alpha contributor Tradevestor said, "The company is undergoing a product-based transformation and has seen increasing expectations for its Q4 earnings."
Fellow contributor Dair Sansyzbayev added, "The company's capital allocation approach is very shareholder-friendly, with massive buybacks and a strong track record of dividend growth."
Cisco has seen substantial changes to its estimates over the last three months. Earnings per share forecasts have been revised upwards 19 time, while revenue estimates have been revised up 13 times vs. 4 downward revisions.
Investing.com -- Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) reported fiscal fourth-quarter results that beat Wall Street expectations as demand was spurred by growing enterprise appetite for AI, security, and cloud.
While Cisco shares initially traded lower in after-hours trade, the stock erased losses and now trades about 3% higher after the management talked up market share gains and AI opportunities during the earnings call.
The company reported adjusted EPS of $1.14 on revenue of $15.2 billion, beating Wall Street estimates of $1.06 on revenue of $15.05B.
Product revenue, which accounts for the bulk of overall revenue, rose 20% in the quarter year on year, while services added 4%.
"This past year was a milestone year for Cisco with record performance in both the full year and Q4," said Chuck Robbins, chair and CEO of Cisco.
"We are seeing solid customer demand, gaining market share, and innovating in key areas like AI, security, and cloud. This momentum gives us confidence in our ability to capture the many opportunities ahead."
Looking ahead, the company forecasts adjusted Q1 earnings of $1.02 to $1.04 on revenue in a range of $14.5B to $14.7B. That was roughly in line with estimates for adjusted EPS of $0.99 on revenue of $14.6B.
For 2024, adjusted EPS was expected in a range of $4.01-4.08 on revenue of $57.0B to $58.2B. Analysts were looking for an adjusted EPS of $4.04 on revenue of $58.4B.
Speaking on the earnings call, CEO Robbins said Cisco gained "over three percentage points of market share year over year in our three largest networking markets: campus switching, wireless LAN, and SP routing."
"We expect further share gains in these areas as market share numbers are released for calendar Q2," he added.
Moreover, Robbins believes Cisco is "super well positioned" for the ongoing AI transition.
BofA analysts said the company is "executing well on many fronts." Still, they reiterated a Neutral rating and a $56 per share price target.
"FY24 revenue growth guidance of 1.1% YoY was below Street’s 2.6% and we see additional risk to estimates, as the diminishing backlog contribution implies a significant order recovery throughout FY24, which might not materialize," they said in a note.
Keybanc analysts also remain sidelined on the stock.
"Cisco continues to innovate, transition to more predictive revenues (40%+ visibility into FY24), and produce operating leverage that generates relatively consistently strong FCF and capital return (mgmt. highlighting more consistent $1.25B share repurchases per quarter that are targeted at offsetting SBC dilution), but we hesitate to expand our current P/E multiple (in line with three-year historical average) before seeing more consistent signs of share gains and improved visibility into F2H24 order growth ramp, informing our SW rating."
Additional reporting by Senad Karaahmetovic
Cisco gains 3% as earnings call comments help offset weaker sales forecast
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Futures rise after Walmart, Cisco results; traders assess Fed minutes
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Exploiting gaps in cloud infrastructure that are leaving endpoints, identities and microservices exposed is a quick way for an attacker to steal credentials and infect an enterprise’s DevOps process. Attacks to exploit such gaps are skyrocketing.
The accurate 2023 Thales Cloud Security Study provides hard numbers: 39% of enterprises have been hit with a data breach starting in their cloud infrastructure this year alone. A total of 75% of enterprises say that more than 40% of the data they store in the cloud is sensitive. Less than half of that data is encrypted.
CrowdStrike’s 2023 Global Threat Report explains why cloud-first attacks are growing: Attackers are moving away from deactivating antivirus, firewall technologies and log-tampering efforts and toward modifying core authentication processes, along with quickly gaining credentials and identity-based privileges.
The attackers’ goal is to steal as many identities and privileged access credentials as possible so they can become access brokers — selling stolen identity information in bulk at high prices on the dark web. Access brokers and the brokerages they’re creating often turn into lucrative, fast-growing illegal businesses. CrowdStrike’s report found more than 2,500 advertisements for access brokers offering stolen credentials and identities for sale.
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Consolidating tech stacks continues to dominate CISOs’ plans, driven by the need to Excellerate efficacy, manage a more diverse multicloud security posture, close gaps between cloud apps and shift security left in DevOps pipelines. All these factors are contributing to the growing adoption of cloud-native application protection platforms (CNAPP).
“CNAPPs are formed from the convergence of cloud security posture management (CSPM) and cloud workload protection platform (CWPP) capabilities as well as other security tooling like entitlement management, API controls and Kubernetes posture control,” reads Gartner’s 2023 Planning Guide for Security.
Leading CNAPP vendors are competing in various areas, the most important of which include the efficacy of their cloud infrastructure entitlement management (CIEM), Kubernetes security, API controls and cloud detection and response (CDR), according to CISOs VentureBeat spoke with. Demand for CNAPP is greatest in larger enterprises from highly regulated industries that rely on extensive multicloud configurations. Finance, government and healthcare providers are among the most dominant industries.
CISOs tell VentureBeat that one of the most practical benefits of CNAPPs is the opportunity to consolidate legacy tools with limited visibility across all threat surfaces and endpoints. The takeaway? Reducing tool sprawl is a quick win.
Full-platform CNAPP vendors provide integrated cloud-native security platforms ranging from DevOps to production environments. Here are the top 20 platforms of 2023:
Aqua Security: Highly regarded for its approach of scanning container registries and images, CSPM and runtime protection for container and cloud-native security. Also has full life cycle protection and advanced runtime techniques, including support for the extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF).
Check Point: Provides a broad set of capabilities through its CloudGuard platform, including CSPM, CIEM and advanced runtime protection. Known for securing cloud workloads across environments with identity-centric access controls, as well as threat intelligence integration to provide real-time contextual prioritization of risks.
Cisco: Recently acquired Lightspin for its Kubernetes security capabilities and CSPM. Its Tetration platform focuses on runtime protection, leveraging eBPF and third-party insights for advanced container monitoring and granular controls. Cisco emphasizes behavioral analytics to detect anomalies and threats in container environments and provides strong controls to limit lateral movement between workloads.
CrowdStrike: Offers a leading CNAPP suite emphasizing identity-centric visibility, least-privilege enforcement and continuous monitoring. Its runtime protection leverages agents and eBPF for workload security. CrowdStrike’s key design goals included enforcing least-privileged access to clouds and providing continuous detection and remediation of identity threats.
Cybereason: Platform focuses heavily on malicious behavior detection. A core strength is its ability to detect threats using behavior-based techniques. The company is also known for API integrations, AI and machine learning (ML) expertise. Cybereason specializes in detecting compromised accounts and insider threats via detailed user activity monitoring.
Juniper Networks: Collects extensive data on device posture and traffic patterns to provide networking context for security insights. Also enables segmentation controls between Juniper devices.
Lacework: Focused on workload behavior analysis for containers and runtime techniques such as eBPF to gain a comprehensive insight into container activity and performance. Its emphasis on detecting anomalies using advanced ML algorithms that are custom-tuned for containerized environments is a key differentiator.
Microsoft: Integrates security across Azure services with zero-trust controls, enforces least-privileged access and provides workload protections such as antivirus and firewalls. Uses Microsoft Graph to correlate security analytics and events across Azure.
Orca Security: Performs continuous authorization checks on identities and entitlements across cloud environments. A key differentiator is the ability to generate detailed interactive maps that visualize relationships between cloud assets, users, roles and permissions.
Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud: Provides a broad suite of capabilities, including identity-based microsegmentation and robust runtime protection with eBPF. Prisma Cloud is an industry leader known for advanced protections such as deception technique and includes extensive compliance automation and DevSecOps integrations.
Qualys: Focuses on compliance and vulnerability management through continuous scanning and least-privilege controls. Identifies vulnerabilities throughout the life cycle and enables automated patching and remediation workflows. Another key differentiator is compliance mapping and reporting.
Rapid7: Enforces least privilege access and enables automated response and remediation triggered by events. Offers pre configured policies and streamlined workflows designed for small security teams. An intuitive user interface and rapid implementation aim to simplify deployment and usability for organizations with limited security resources.
Sonrai Security: Focuses on entitlement management and identity-based security using graph database technology to discover and map user identities across cloud environments. User identity, geolocation and other contextual factors can define custom access controls.
Sophos: Focuses on data security, compliance and threat monitoring capabilities and offers advanced data loss prevention such as file fingerprinting and optical character recognition. Cloud environments also have anti-ransomware protections.
Sysdig: Centered on runtime security and advanced behavioral monitoring. For container-level visibility and anomaly detection, the platform uses embedded agents. Sysdig Secure Advisor includes an integrated security assistant to help SecOps and IT teams create policies faster.
Tenable: Focused on compliance, entitlement management and identity governance. Offers comprehensive compliance automation mapped to PCI, HIPAA and ISO regulations. Also provides differentiated identity and compliance management through advanced capabilities to enforce least privilege and certify access.
Trend Micro: Includes runtime security, compliance and threat monitoring, enforces policies and protects cloud environments from file- and email-based threats. Custom sandboxing for suspicious file analysis is also included.
Uptycs: Differentiates itself by combining CNAPP capabilities with extended detection and response (EDR) capabilities. Employs data lake techniques to store and correlate security telemetry across cloud and container workloads. Threats are identified using behavioral analytics, and automated response workflows allow for rapid remediation.
Wiz: Centered on continuous access controls, micro segmentation and identity-based adaptive security. Automatically discovers and visualizes relationships between cloud assets, users and permissions. Wiz also conducts risk analysis to identify potential attack paths and stands out with its specialized visualization, identity management and micro-segmentation.
Zscaler: Posture Control prioritizes risks caused by misconfigurations, threats and vulnerabilities. Completely agentless and correlates data from multiple security engines.
CNAPPs are gaining popularity as CISOs look to consolidate and strengthen their security technology stacks. Platforms can provide integrated security across the development lifecycle and cloud environments by combining capabilities including cloud workload protection, container security and CIEM.
CNAPP adoption will continue accelerating in highly regulated industries including finance, government and healthcare. CISOs in these industries are under pressure to consolidate tech stacks, Excellerate compliance and secure complex cloud infrastructure simultaneously. Because they provide a unified platform that meets multiple security and compliance requirements, CNAPPs are proving to be an effective consolidation catalyst.
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Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) has had a great run on the share market with its stock up by a significant 10% over the last three months. We wonder if and what role the company's financials play in that price change as a company's long-term fundamentals usually dictate market outcomes. Specifically, we decided to study Cisco Systems' ROE in this article.
Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.
Check out our latest analysis for Cisco Systems
The formula for ROE is:
Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity
So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Cisco Systems is:
27% = US$11b ÷ US$42b (Based on the trailing twelve months to April 2023).
The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.27 in profit.
So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. We now need to evaluate how much profit the company reinvests or "retains" for future growth which then gives us an idea about the growth potential of the company. Assuming all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.
First thing first, we like that Cisco Systems has an impressive ROE. Second, a comparison with the average ROE reported by the industry of 11% also doesn't go unnoticed by us. Probably as a result of this, Cisco Systems was able to see a decent net income growth of 15% over the last five years.
Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that Cisco Systems' reported growth was lower than the industry growth of 37% over the last few years, which is not something we like to see.
The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. What is CSCO worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether CSCO is currently mispriced by the market.
While Cisco Systems has a three-year median payout ratio of 55% (which means it retains 45% of profits), the company has still seen a fair bit of earnings growth in the past, meaning that its high payout ratio hasn't hampered its ability to grow.
Additionally, Cisco Systems has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years which means that the company is pretty serious about sharing its profits with shareholders. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company is expected to drop to 39% over the next three years. As a result, the expected drop in Cisco Systems' payout ratio explains the anticipated rise in the company's future ROE to 33%, over the same period.
On the whole, we do feel that Cisco Systems has some positive attributes. Its earnings growth is decent, and the high ROE does contribute to that growth. However, investors could have benefitted even more from the high ROE, had the company been reinvesting more of its earnings. With that said, the latest industry analyst forecasts reveal that the company's earnings growth is expected to slow down. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company's fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst's forecasts page for the company.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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Is the inevitable backlash against generative artificial intelligence at hand? Some early signals suggest the possibility, but you’d never know it from all the fundings and new products streaming out this week, as SiliconANGLE documented in a raft of stories this week.
We also covered the better-than-expected quarterly earnings from Cisco Systems Inc., which gave investors hope that a tech spending lull might be easing. Meantime, though, some cybersecurity companies are struggling as generative AI could be siphoning off information technology investments. Crypto isn’t dead yet despite the ongoing wintry conditions. And Intel Corp. dropped its bid for Tower Semiconductor after China’s regulators essentially nixed it — another in a string of bad news for the struggling chipmaking giant — even as Arm Ltd.’s IPO moves ahead.
For an insightful and entertaining take on this and other news in enterprise and emerging tech, check out this week’s theCUBE Pod, John Furrier’s and Dave Vellante’s weekly podcast. And this weekend, look for Vellante’s Breaking Analysis, his weekly deep dive on an enterprise tech trend.
I’ll kick things off this week with a look at the current state of the cybersecurity industry through the lens of one of its top leaders, Palo Alto Networks Inc., which announced earnings today.
Palo Alto held a highly unusual presentation on its earnings and a review of its strategy today — unusual in that Friday announcements are usually reserved for bad news. Not so today, since in Palo Alto’s case, the news was plenty good. (As Chief Executive Nikesh Arora apologetically explained on the call, which was kicked off with a remix of Rebecca Black’s 2011 earworm “Friday,” he wanted to leave time to talk one-on-one with analysts over the weekend before a planned company sales meeting that starts Sunday, on top of a board meeting this week.)
Anyway, the company reported its fiscal fourth-quarter profit before certain costs such as stock compensation jumped 90% from a year ago, to $482.5 million, or $1.44 a share. Net profit hit $227.7 million, or 64 cents a share. Revenue rose 26%, to $2 billion.
The outlook was positive as well. For its fiscal first quarter, the company expects adjusted earnings of $1.15 to $1.17 a share, up 40% at the midpoint, on a 16% to 18% rise in revenue, to as much as $1.85 billion. For the full year, the revenue forecast is a tick higher, between 18% and 19%, with adjusted earnings up 19% to 22%.
Investors liked the results. Palo Alto’s shares were rising more than 8% in after-hours trading. Shares were already up 80% on the year through the start of August.
“The report is better than feared,” Ivana Delevska, founder and chief investment officer of investment adviser Spear Invest, told me. “Guidance is light, but given the timing of the report many investors were expecting something much worse like an accounting restatement, or management change.”
Arora touted the “changing environment” that drove more customers toward “platformization,” meaning customers that buy multiple product lines. To that end, Arora said the company was surprised by the strength of its extended security intelligence and automation management, or XSIAM, product, with bookings of more than $200 million in its first year.
XSIAM, in its Cortex line, combines endpoint detection and response or EDR, security orchestration automation and response or SOAR, attack surface management or ASM, and security information and event management or SIEM technologies into a single solution. Many other companies offer these separately, which can be a pain point for customers that often must juggle many different cybersecurity products from different companies.
Despite the positive results, it’s no easy sledding these days, given high interest rates that are tamping down spending. “There is more scrutiny” on deals, Arora said. “There are some that get stretched or get canceled.”
During a 90-minute presentation, Arora dug into the evolution of what he says is a $213 billion cybersecurity market. There are new segments such as SASE, cloud security and internet of things security that contribute $29 billion, transforming segments such as endpoint and XDR as well as SIEM and network security at a collective $72 billion, steady segments such as identity, app security, data and email security at a total of $31 billion, and $81 billion in services.
“We were told customers don’t want platforms, they wanted best-of-breed solutions,” Arora noted. Instead, he said, Palo Alto is aiming to do both, through what the company calls a “build and buy” strategy, to become the largest pure-play cybersecurity provider. Cisco and Microsoft are larger, but of course cyber is just part of their businesses.
The upshot of all this is that Palo Alto looks to continue as a consolidator in this industry, along with a few others such as CrowdStrike Holdings Inc., Check Point Software Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. The industry does seem to be splitting between larger companies continuing to grow and roll up smaller companies and others struggling to maintain traction either because of aging technology or because IT departments are diverting more spending toward AI. Just in the past week or so, Rapid7 and Secureworks laid off workers. And Arora noted that there are 3,000 cyber startups out there — clearly unsustainable.
“We believe M&A will pick up significantly in the second half and 2024 and companies like Palo Alto that have the capital availability are in a solid position to benefit,” Delevska said. “We see ‘shift left’ as a major theme for M&A, that is, cybersecurity embedded earlier in the software development cycle.”
She also thinks there will be only a limited number of industry consolidators, in particular Palo Alto and CrowdStrike. “M&A has been hit-and-miss in cybersecurity and therefore track record is key,” she said.
Going forward, Arora sees a need for, and shift to, more real-time and autonomous security. “We will see a standard platform for security,” he vowed. “That’s the only way we’re going to get to the future we need for real-time and AI-based security.”
More cyber news below.
A well-known AI skeptic raises doubts about generative AI that are worth memorizing even if the essential critique is, as often with Gary Marcus, points to inflated expectations more than a complete lack of utility: What if Generative AI turned out to be a Dud? Also, Benedict Evans is unimpressed so far, though it’s a bit mystifying he can’t find any good use for it. Plus, gen AI has landed right at the top of Gartner’s Hype Cycle and you know what that means.
Axios talks to larger companies struggling to implement generative AI.
Some observers even think the AI startup Gold Rush is ending: A.I. startups are losing their bloom for seed investors, argues one VC
But that seems slightly early, many startups keep on coming: Former Google researchers launch startup to build nature-inspired neural networks and Elemental Cognition, led by IBM Watson’s former head, raises $60M
It’s getting competitive on the gen AI infrastructure front: Continuing AI investment is why the GPU battle, for one, keeps intensifying — and the software matters as much as the hardware, which is why Modular could raise so much money: AI software startup Modular seeks bumper Series A round to challenge Nvidia. Of course, the big guys such as Amazon are already well into this chips-and-software race: How Amazon is racing to catch Microsoft and Google in generative A.I. with custom AWS chips. Meantime, per the New York Times, the GPU shortage rages on.
And then there’s the endlessly fundraising Databricks: Databricks looking to raise ‘hundreds of millions’ in fresh funding to fuel generative AI push But Furrier notes in theCUBE Pod podcast that it’s not out of need for cash but striking while the AI iron is hot.
For better or — in the case of the Iowa school board that wants to ban books they can’t be bothered to read — for worse, harnessing chatbots for content moderation: OpenAI finds GPT-4 can Excellerate online platforms’ content moderation efforts
Even the big large language model creators are looking to provide industry-specific AI models: Anthropic raises $100M from SK Telecom to build AI for telecommunications Do they become AI superclouds? And in the same vein: Arthur launches open-source tool to help companies make data-driven decisions about LLMs
About the worry over those LLM data leaks — someone’s working on that: DynamoFL raises $15.1M to tackle language model data leaks
“Hey Google, what should I do?” Google DeepMind reportedly developing at least 21 new generative AI features Not scary at all, nope.
And the hardware suppliers see an opportunity to bundle things to make AI development easier, though it’s not clear how big a market there is for this kind of thing outside the big cloud providers: Nutanix offers quick-start approach to AI development
OpenAI makes its first acquisition: OpenAI acquires digital products company Global Illumination for undisclosed price
Amazon finds some low-hanging gen AI fruit: Amazon adds AI-powered review summaries to its e-commerce marketplace
Cybersecurity companies still cutting costs perhaps as AI steals some budget: Cybersecurity provider Secureworks to let go 15% of its workforce, on the heels of Rapid7 layoffs last week.
Strom looks at the latest CPU attacks and concludes they will be tough to fix quickly: Mitigating the latest processor attacks will be a chore on many levels
Same deal with phishing: New reports show phishing is on the rise — and getting more sophisticated
And another security issue in IoT (maybe take the stairs next time): New widespread IoT compromise could affect millions of logic controllers
Finally, here’s detailed advice on how to avoid security fatigue: How to prevent multifactor authentication fatigue attacks
Cisco earnings beat estimates and its stock rises a bit after-hours. At first a seemingly weak forecast from the industry bellwether raised doubts about tech infrastructure spending, but subsequent company comments and analysis indicate a good quarter and equally good outlook after all: In a positive sign for tech spending, Cisco’s stock rises on strong earnings and prospects for AI
More China economic war fallout: Intel scraps its $5.4B acquisition of Tower Semiconductor Vellante and Furrier think Intel’s in deep trouble, as they describe on theCUBE Pod. Tower wasn’t a game-changer in itself, but it’s hard to see how CEO Pat Gelsinger can revive Intel’s fortunes anytime soon.
Arm’s IPO to get rolling next month: SoftBank reportedly buys back 25% Arm stake from its Vision Fund unit
Crypto ain’t dead yet: Despite crypto downturn, BitGo raises $100M at $1.75B valuation and ZetaChain raises $27M. Plus Coinbase secures approval to offer crypto futures to US customers. And Crypto hardware wallet maker Ledger teams up with PayPal
That was quick: SUSE to be taken private by its majority shareholder
Eliminating the decryption tax for querying encrypted data: MongoDB unveils data encryption tech for developers to boosting data privacy and compliance
Supercomputers in the cloud: Harvard researchers clone supercomputer on Google Cloud
Sassine Ghazi to become CEO of chip design software firm Synopsys
Big changes in Europe for big tech: Doing business in Europe? Time to focus on its new Digital Services Act – now
VMware Explore runs Aug. 21-24, and SiliconANGLE and theCUBE will be covering it in Las Vegas.
Earnings from Zoom, Nvidia, Snowflake, NetApp, Splunk, Autodesk and Workday
Then the following week, Aug. 29-31, is Google Cloud Next, also to be covered onsite at Moscone Center in San Francisco by SiliconANGLE and theCUBE.
Puzzles, chess and writing journals may be more than pure amusements to pass the time. These brain activities could help reduce the risk of dementia.
According to a accurate study in JAMA Network Open, activities related to adult literacy, such as taking classes, using a computer or writing journals, as well as active mental tasks like games, cards, or crossword puzzles, were related to a reduced dementia risk over 10 years.
The study looked at 10,318 adults in Australia who were 70 years old or older, who were generally healthy and without major cognitive impairment at enrollment.
The participants who engaged in literacy activities and active mental activities had an 11% and 9% lower, respectively, risk of dementia.
To a lesser extent, participating in creative artistic activities, such as crafts, woodwork, and painting or drawing, and in passive mental activities such as reading, watching TV or listening to the radio was also associated with reduced dementia risk, the study found. Creative artistic and passive mental activities both conferred a 7% decrease, according to the study.
“These results suggest that engagement in adult literacy, creative art, and active and passive mental activities may help reduce dementia risk in late life,” the study said.
The people in the study who developed dementia were older, more likely to be men and have lower levels of physical activity and to be in poorer health than individuals without dementia, the study said.
In 2022, there were 55 million individuals worldwide living with dementia, with 10 million new cases emerging annually, the study said. There’s no cure for dementia. As a result, “identifying new strategies to prevent or delay dementia onset among older individuals is a priority,” the study said.
These findings can help inform strategies for dementia prevention later life in terms of modifying daily routines and activities, the study said.
BUFFALO, N.Y. – A background in music helps speakers learn a tonal language, such as Mandarin, a new University at Buffalo study suggests.
People with musical training — whether instrumental or vocal — are better at imitating pitch than someone without that training. Understanding pitch structure is critical with tonal languages that rely on inflection to communicate meaning.
Unlike English, where the inflection placed on a single word can alter a word’s pitch in ways that convey emphasis or emotion, altering pitch in a tonal language can change a word’s meaning.
“Both a musical background and a Mandarin language background influences the ability to match pitch,” says Chihiro Honda, a graduate student of psychology in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, and first author of the paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. “These findings imply that teachers might want to introduce music as part of their instruction for those trying to acquire a second language.”
This research also speaks to the long-standing debate about whether our brains have separate networks for language and music, according to Peter Pfordresher, PhD, a UB professor of psychology and one of the paper’s co-authors.
“This paper isn’t the final say on that debate, but we seem to have the same network at work for both behaviors,” he says. “We might rely on different features of that network depending on whether we’re in a language or a music situation. If you’re attuned to paying attention to pitch through learning a tonal language or through music, that training is going to help you in either situation.”
The research team recruited 127 participants for the study: Mandarin and English speakers, both with and without a background in music. The researchers created 96 short sentences in each language phrased as both a statement and a question — “The children can’t sleep,” for instance.
The authors then used computer software to create pitch patterns based on the spoken sentences, and then composed short melodies based on the pitch of each syllable. Participants listened to and then vocally reproduced these synthetic pitch patterns and melodies, but never heard the original spoken sentences.
After collecting data, the researchers calculated the differences between target pitch and what participants produced.
“Musicians were more accurate in matching absolute pitch across syllables and musical notes than non-musicians,” says Honda. “Mandarin speakers were more accurate at imitating changes within and across pitch patterns compared to English speakers.