Time is money, but nowadays so is a company’s data. That is why protecting data should be a major priority, especially when it comes to customer’s requirement, says JOHAN SCHEEPERS, Systems Engineer Director – MESAT at Commvault.
In an increasingly digital world where it is no longer only time that is money, but information as well, data has become the equivalent of a new currency. Protecting this data is a top priority for businesses of all sizes. However, in tandem with the growing importance of data, we are also witnessing an ongoing data explosion, with huge data volumes created at high velocity. This is changing customers’ requirements when it comes to data protection and data management, and organisations need to adopt a comprehensive approach to data protection for today and into the future. Data is a strategic business asset, and should be treated as such with effective data backup, protection, recovery and management solutions designed to address new data challenges.
Data backup and recovery has become a business imperative, and the importance of implementing effective solutions cannot be overstated. In fact, data is top of mind for the majority of organisations. According to analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) in the 2014 annual IT Spending Intentions report, the top three most important IT priorities for 2015 centred on data. The top priority for businesses according to the report was information security initiatives, with improving data backup and recovery coming in second, and managing data growth at number three. In addition, business continuity and disaster recovery were the eighth priority for respondents.
The bigger picture of these statistics is that protecting data is of vital importance, even more so than investment into solutions such as the cloud and other production-enabling deployments. Backup remains one of the most significant IT investments, because the reliance of business on data and IT systems is ever on the increase. This means that any downtime or data loss could be detrimental to business operations. In addition, legacy approaches to backup simply cannot meet the diverse and evolving needs of modern IT platforms, necessitating continued investment into backup solutions. However, backup alone is no longer sufficient. Organisations need to increase the agility of data protection infrastructure by incorporating supplementary data protection capabilities such as snapshots, replicas and archiving as well as high availability, disaster recovery and business continuity.
These data protection mechanisms each provide a different type of agility that compliments backups rather than replacing them, ensuring a comprehensive solution to data recoverability. However, it is also important to bear in mind that it may not be necessary to apply these various mechanisms with a blanket approach across the entire organisation. For example, while backup is essential across the board, snapshots, replicas and archives are only necessary for business critical data. Given the increasing volumes of data being generated and the cost of implementing new solutions, it is important to apply data protection mechanisms based on the value of data to the business as well as the requirement for availability.
This hybrid approach to data protection is highly effective in today’s world. However, where many organisations go wrong is in attempting to address each of these mechanisms with a separate, disconnected technology. The end result is typically significantly higher cost along with increased complexity. In addition, often such disparate solutions fail to meet the business’ need for comprehensive, improved protection and agility of data recovery, because they simply cannot integrate effectively. Organisations should look for integrated solutions that incorporate multiple mechanisms of data protection within a single platform. This ensures a single point of management, while providing one overall data protection strategy that aligns with the recovery and data needs of the business. By treating data as a strategic asset and protecting it as such, organisations can ensure their data is available and managed today and in the future.
Money talks and electronic gaming evolves
Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.
The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.
The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games.
It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.
MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.
“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”
New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.
“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”
Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.
Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.
This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.
What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.
A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.
Each block stores:
– A number of valid records or transactions.
– Information referring to that block.
– A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.
Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.
As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.
How is blockchain so secure?
Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.
Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.
In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.
What else can blockchain be used for?
Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.
Use of blockchain in healthcare
Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.
Use of blockchain for documents
Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.
Other blockchain uses
This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.
Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.
Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.