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Dell ups the ante for Data Centre

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At Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas this week, the focus fell heavily on advances in data storage and digital transformation.

Dell Technologies this week launched several new Dell EMC storage and server products designed to power up the Modern Data Centre, addressing a wide range of traditional and emerging data centre workloads to help customers drive better business outcomes.

The products were launched at Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas, at a time when organisations race to capitalise on the benefits of emerging technologies ahead of their competitors. According to a recent ESG global survey commissioned by Dell EMC and Intel of 4,000 IT decision-makers, 81% agree if they do not embrace IT Transformation, their organisations no longer will be competitive in their markets.

“The Modern Data Centre is the proving ground for our customers to gain a digital advantage over their competition and achieve better business outcomes,” said Jeff Clarke, Dell vice chairman for products and operations. “Dell EMC is delivering the Modern Data Centre innovations that our customers require, with new solutions that are engineered using future-proof technology to take on the data centre challenges of today and to support the next big thing that our customers are imagining for tomorrow.”

Dell provided the following information on new products and services:

Dell EMC PowerMax

Dell EMC’s PowerMax, the future of enterprise-class storage, is architected with end-to- end NVMe and a built-in, real-time machine learning engine. Building on the legendary architecture and capabilities of Dell EMC’s flagship storage system, PowerMax is the world’s fastest storage array, delivering up to 10M IOPS and 50% better response times – 2x faster than the nearest competitor.

Architected with end-to-end NVMe to support NVMe-over-Fabrics and high-speed, low- latency Storage Class Memory (SCM), PowerMax is not only fast, smart and efficient, but also engineered to handle the world’s most demanding application workloads.

In addition, the PowerMax OS includes a machine learning engine, which makes autonomous storage a reality, leveraging predictive analytics and pattern recognition to maximize performance with no management overhead. Built-in machine learning is the only cost-effective way to leverage SCM. Dell EMC is also the only company that can provide this level of storage software intelligence – currently analyzing 425 billion data sets in real time across its high-end All-Flash customer base.

PowerMax also includes inline deduplication and enhanced compression providing up to 5:1 data reduction, while delivering industry-leading security, protection and resiliency. It achieves greater than “six nines” availability to help ensure zero downtime of business-critical applications.

Storage solutions are increasingly being consumed within converged infrastructure, namely the Dell EMC VxBlock System 1000. As the industry’s leading provider of converged infrastructure systems, Dell EMC offers expanded options for VxBlock 1000 customers who can benefit from fast, smart and efficient storage with new support for PowerMax with end-to-end NVMe and XtremIO X2 All-Flash arrays. This means that the VxBlock system breaks the physical boundaries of traditional CI and offers enterprises even greater simplicity and flexibility to help accelerate their IT and digital transformation efforts.

To speed implementation of PowerMax or VxBlock in their environment, customers can take advantage of Dell EMC ProDeploy Plus services for up to 66% faster deployment and up to 49% fewer technical support calls. Customers can also choose ProSupport Plus for consistent best-in-class support delivered across their environment and up to 75% faster service request response time.

Dell EMC XtremIO Replication

XtremIO X2 All-Flash arrays gain major updates with the new XIOS 6.1 operating system, including delivering the industry’s most efficient replication across a wide area network (WAN). X2 metadata-aware native replication is highly efficient and provides an added level of data protection for application workloads. XtremIO replication sends only unique data to the remote site to minimize bandwidth requirements by 75% or more, enabling potential network cost savings. XtremIO replication requires up to 38% less storage space15 at disaster recovery sites and operates with predictable performance to achieve recovery point objectives of 30 seconds.

Dell Technologies also introduced a new Dell EMC X2 entry model for customers, at up to 55% lower cost than the previous generation. Designed with XtremIO’s unique metadata-centric architecture with full data services including inline data reduction (in-memory space-efficient copies, deduplication and compression), XtremIO can also achieve over “five nines” availability, offering customers enterprise-grade capabilities that start at midrange prices.

Dell EMC PowerEdge MX

Dell EMC will preview PowerEdge MX, a new modular infrastructure solution for the modern data centre. Designed with Dell EMC’s kinetic infrastructure, PowerEdge MX will enable customers to flexibly configure and optimise their IT infrastructure for new and emerging workloads.

Available in the second half of 2018, PowerEdge MX will bring new levels of flexibility to IT, ideal for dense virtualisation, software-defined storage and networking, network functions virtualisation (NFV) and big data analytic environments.

Availability

Dell EMC’s Modern Data Centre solutions PowerMax and XtremIO X2 with native replication, as well as VxBlock System 1000 with XtremIO X2, are available now. VxBlock System 1000 with PowerMax support will launch mid-year. Dell EMC PowerEdge MX has planned global availability for the second half of 2018.

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How to rob a bank in the 21st century

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In the early 1980s, South Africans were gripped by tales of the most infamous bank robbery gangs the country had ever known: The Stander Gang. The gang would boldly walk into banks, brandishing weapons, demand cash and simply disappear. These days, a criminal doesn’t even have to be in the same country as the bank he or she intends to rob. Cyber criminals are quite capable of emptying bank accounts without even stepping out of their own homes.

As we become more and more aware of cybersecurity and the breaches that can occur, we’ve become more vigilant. Criminals, however, are still going to follow the money and even though security may be beefed up in many organisations, hackers are going to go for the weakest links. This makes it quintessential for consumers and enterprises to stay one step ahead of the game.

“Not only do these cyber bank criminals get away with the cash, they also end up damaging an organisation’s reputation and the integrity of its infrastructure,” says Indi Siriniwasa, Vice President of Trend Micro, Sub-Saharan Africa. “And sometimes, these breaches mean they get away with more than just cash – they can make off with data and personal information as well.”

Because the cyber criminals operate outside bricks and mortar, going for the cash register or robbing the customers is not where their misdeeds end. Bank employees – from the tellers to the CEO – are all fair game.

But how do they do it? Taking money out of an account is not the only way to steal money. Cyber criminals can zero in on the bank’s infrastructure, or hack into payment systems and even payment documents. Part of a successful operation for them may also include hacking into telecommunications to gain access to one-time pins or mobile networks.

“It’s not just about hacking,” says Siriniwasa.. “It’s also about the hackers trying to get an ‘inside man’ in the bank who could help them or even using a person’s personal details to get a new SIM so that they can have access to OTPs. Of course, they also use the tried and tested method of phishing which continues to be exceptionally effective – despite the education in the market to thwart it.”

The amounts of malware and available attacks to gain access to bank funds is strikingly vast and varies from using web injection script, social engineering and even targeting internal networks as well as points of sale systems. If there is an internet connection and a system you can be assured that there is a cybercriminal trying to crack it. The impact on the bank itself is also massive, with reputations left in tatters and customers moving their business elsewhere.

“We see that cyber criminals use multi-faceted attacks,” says Siriniwasa. “This means that we need to come at security from multiple angles as well. Every single layer of an organisation’s online perimeter need to be secured. Threat isolation is exceptionally important and having security with intrusion protection is vital. Again, vigilance on the part of staff and customers also goes a long way to preventing attacks. These criminals might not carry guns like Andre Stander and his gang, but they are just as dangerous – in fact – probably more so.”

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Beaten by big data? AI is the answer

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by ZAKES SOCIKWA, cloud big data and analytics lead at Oracle

In 2019, it’sestimated we’ll generate more data than we did in the previous 5,000 years. Data is fast becoming the most valuable asset of any modern organisation, and while most have access to their internal data, they continue to experience challenges in deriving maximum value through being able to effectively monetise the information that they hold.

The foundation of any analytics or Business Intelligence (BI) reporting capability is an efficient data collection system that ensures events/transactions are properly recorded, captured, processed and stored. Some of this information on its own might not provide any valuable insights, but if it is analysed together with other sources might yield interesting patterns.

Big data opens up possibilities of enhancing internal sources with unstructured data and information from Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Furthermore, as we move to a digital age, more businesses are implementing customer experience solutions and there is a growing need for them to improve their service and personalise customer engagements.

The digital behaviour of customers, such as social media postings and the networks or platforms they engage with, further provides valuable information for data collection. Information gathering methods are being expanded to accommodate all types and formats of data, including images, videos, and more.

In the past, BI and Data Mining were left to highly technical and analytical individuals, but the introduction of data visualisation tools is democratising the analytics world. However, business users and report consumers often do not have a clear understanding of what they need or what is possible.

AI now embedded into day to day applications

To this end, artificial intelligence (AI) is finishing what business intelligence started. By gathering, contextualising, understanding, and acting on huge quantities of data, AI has given rise to a new breed of applications – one that’s continuously improving and adapting to the conditions around it. The more data that is available for the analysis, the better is the quality of the outcomes or predictions.

In addition, AI changes the productivity equation for many jobs by automating activities and adapting current jobs to solve more complex and time-consuming problems, from recruiters being able to source better candidates faster to financial analysts eliminating manual error-prone reporting.

This type of automation will not replace all jobs but will invent new ones. This enables businesses to reduce the time to complete tasks and the costs of maintenance, and will lead to the creation of higher-value jobs and new engagement models. Oracle predicts that by 2025, the productivity gains delivered by AI, emerging technologies, and augmented experiences could double compared to today’s operations.

According to the IDC, worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics (BDA) solutions was expected to total $166 billion in 2018, and forecast to reach $260 billion in 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 11.9% over the 2017-2022 forecast period. It adds that two of the fastest growing BDA technology categories will be Cognitive/AI Software Platforms (36.5% CAGR) and Non-relational Analytic Data Stores (30.3% CAGR)¹.

Informed decisions, now and in the future

As new layers of technology are introduced and more complex data sources are added to the ecosystem, the need for a tightly integrated technology stack becomes a challenge. It is advisable to choose your technology components very carefully and always have the end state in mind.

More development on emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI, IoT, virtual reality and others will probably be available on cloud first before coming on premise. For those organisations that are adopting public cloud, there are opportunities to consume the benefits of public cloud and drive down costs of doing business.

While the introduction of public cloud is posing a challenge on data sovereignty and other regulations, technology providers such as Oracle have developed a ‘Cloud at Customer’ model that provides the full benefits of public cloud – but located on premise, within an organisation’s own data centre.

The best organisations will innovate and optimise faster than the rest. Best decisions must be made around choice of technology, business processes, integration and architectures that are fit for business. In the information marketplace, speed and informed decision making will be key differentiators amongst competitors.

¹ IDC Press Release, Revenues for Big Data and Business Analytics Solutions Forecast to Reach $260 Billion in 2022, Led by the Banking and Manufacturing Industries, According to IDC, 15 August 2018

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