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Cloud hampered by control

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The current cloud adoption is being hampered by a desire for control and a sub-par technology platform design, writes ANDREW CRUISE, MD, Routed, a neutral cloud infrastructure provider.

The current cloud disconnect within the enterprise is temporary. While it is understandable to be skeptical about cloud solutions, the challenge is not only education, but an innate understanding that physical control of the cloud solution is not necessary. I believe that once it is fully understood, cloud adoption will increase and self-service management will be more readily accepted.

Not having direct control is a real issue for organisations and the hyperscale providers such as Amazon Web Services, Azure, Google etc. are exacerbating the feeling. These companies have commoditised compute and storage, while at the same time distancing themselves from personal contact with their customers.

Managed service providers (MSP) are also feeling the disconnection, especially with the legacy of “doing it themselves” rather than relying on third party providers, combined with the personal feeling of responsibility they have with multiple customers. Those in the channel must build closer relationships with partners to provide reassurance. MSPs have the technology to make cloud a reality, they just need to engage with the correct channel partners and develop a new process for cloud.

A fundamental for any cloud solution is reliable and cost efficient Internet connectivity. Significant improvements have been made, with South Africa finally having connectivity options. Locally, we have seen fibre rollout in metro areas that has increased the speed and reliability of Internet and data centre connectivity. This has, at the same time, brought much needed competition and reduced price. We believe the tipping point has been reached and it is now not a question of “if” but “when” enterprises will move business critical internal workloads to the cloud.

Admittedly, there is a lack of skill in this sector and it has led to very few new entrants into the space, as well as the prevalence of poor performing cloud platforms. As a result, cost cutting and misguided investments have impacted the success of local cloud platforms. This led to the launch and development of the Routed platform, which is a high performance, alternative cloud solution.

It is important to remember that cloud migration should never be done solely based on cost. Choosing to move some, or all workloads to the cloud is a strategic decision based more on operational risk and effectiveness. What initially increased cloud costs was the expense of quality Internet, but this has been eroded, exposing the level of skill and quality of the cloud service.

This cost reduction has encouraged a vanguard of enterprises who have already adopted cloud for low risk services: test and development, low priority workloads and disaster recovery. Having gained enough confidence in the service provider’s ability to deliver enterprise level service and support, these enterprises have started moving primary, critical internal workloads into the cloud. Conversely, those lagging behind in cloud adoption are all showing interest in migrating low risk workloads into the cloud.

South Africa has passed both the initial hype and the subsequent trough of disillusionment. While lack of direct control and weak platform design has impacted it, cloud is now being discussed not as a general panacea, but more in specific terms, targeting different clouds for different requirements. Enterprise cloud products and services such as Office365 and Salesforce.com are now being distinguished from consumer cloud technologies like iCloud, OneDrive and DropBox. At the same time, bleeding edge providers are having to provide a service proximal to, or better than, what can be delivered onsite to live up to the promise of enterprise level performance and availability at pay-per-use pricing.

Enterprises are becoming pickier, asking the right questions and being more specific about their requirements and their expectations. The development of cloud locally can only grow and improve as the market adjusts to the rising demand of the cloud and enterprises become more comfortable with less control and the concept of self-service management.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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