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DevOps: new business wave

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DevOps, a new business approach has proven that it can benefit a company’s product lifecycle, competitive advantage and its ability to meet customer requirements, writes DAVE BLAKEY, CEO at Snapt.

DevOps is a new approach to business that is based on applying Agile and Lean philosophies to operations work. In the past, operations and development engineers worked in separate silos and it was a case of ‘never the twain shall meet’. DevOps has completely changed this idea, creating a situation where the two work closely together throughout the entire service lifecycle, from design through the development process to production support.

In effect, you could say that DevOps simply extends the standard Agile principles beyond the boundaries of the code written by developers, taking it across the entire delivered service instead.

While changing the mindset of how organisations function obviously takes time, the new cultural and professional approach that DevOps demands has already begun to have a significant impact across companies. This could be due to a range of reasons, including creating more stable operating environments, faster delivery of product features or continuous software delivery.

Either way DevOps has proven that it can benefit a company’s product lifecycle, competitive advantage and its ability to rapidly meet customer requirements. With this in mind, let’s look at some of the key DevOps trends that businesses have been adopting this year.

The first trend is the recognition by enterprises that DevOps is not simply a new market, but rather a philosophy and a cultural shift.

Gartner points out that an increasing number of organisations are coming to the realisation that DevOps goes beyond implementation and technology management, to the point where it becomes about people within the business developing a deeper focus on how to effect positive organisational change.

In my opinion the key to benefiting from the emerging DevOps market lies in understanding that it is ultimately about the people who are doing it and the culture that surrounds them, instead of being about the technology or the tools being used.

The second major trend has been an increase in modular approaches to system building and a move away from building monolithic products for customers. The DevOps approach focuses instead on employing small, nimble teams to take care of individual applications.

You could say that the crux of its success lies in breaking activities into bite-sized chunks. Recognition of this fact has led to applications being developed with a modular approach in mind.

A third noticeable trend in 2016 has been the fact that developers have begun taking increased ownership of the entire product lifecycle.

The proliferation of DevOps-ready tools has enabled a surge in adoption, which in turn has led to the logical breaking down of the traditional silos between developers and operations. As the focus becomes increasingly about continuous delivery and improvement, it is leading to greater accountability and ownership from the developer teams to build and run their solutions.

The growing focus on DevOps means that for developers, their job no longer ends once the application is delivered. Instead, they will now be expected to remain a part of the entire lifecycle, while also having complete visibility into its progress.

A fourth trend is that of programmable infrastructure. While automation itself is not a new thing, the ability to provision infrastructure easily and seamlessly, thanks to a DevOps approach, is. This means that teams can develop the software and operate its environment simultaneously, so rather than considering automation after the development is finished, businesses can now prioritise automation and integrate it as part of the initial development phase.

The last key trend is that of reduced deployment time, something that is increasing as more enterprises adopt the DevOps approach. A side-effect of this trend is the fact that systems will also become more risk tolerant, as any changes that are made will be less likely to have a negative impact on the entire system. This means that time to production will be continue to be reduced.

I believe that these trends demonstrate that DevOps is increasingly becoming the de facto standard for how teams operate.

As we head into 2017, I expect we will only see more organisations upending their traditional processes and focusing on the DevOps method instead. In other words, we will see businesses cultivating a culture that unites people, processes, workflows and technologies, in order to bring tangible returns to the business. Inevitably, some businesses will pass on adopting a DevOps methodology, but those that do will be running the risk of serious competitive disadvantage.

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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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