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Apps demand more cloud

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F5 Networks’ Future of the Apps report, released at its recent EMEA conference in Barcelona revealed that the growing intelligence built into apps would make ever-greater demands on the cloud, writes SEAN BACHER.

“Nobody understands the cloud, it’s a f***ing mystery.” This quote from the Sex Tape movie staring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel may be true for some, but more and more more companies are beginning to understand the cloud and the benefits it offers.

This was made clear at F5 Network’s recent annual EMEA conference, where it presented its Future of the Apps report. The report revealed that apps are becoming more intelligent – thus requiring more resources and putting more of a strain on local networks, meaning that moving to the cloud is a logical step.

“As an app’s workload increases, or as it evolves and more people begin to use it, it can become unstable, often crashing and costing a company a fortune in downtime,” said Sangeeta Anand, senior vice president for product management and product marketing at F5 Networks

Moreover, many companies don’t have the resources to secure their apps properly and are leaving themselves open to vulnerabilities like ransomware, DDoS attacks and general hacking, which is continually evolving.

These are just a few reasons why moving to a public cloud environment or using a hybrid local/public cloud is beneficial.

“More than a fifth of the companies surveyed plan on running their applications and services in a cloud environment, with around 80 percent already using some sort of local/public hybrid cloud infrastructure,” said Anand.

New cloud services 

At the event, F5 Networks announced a range of new services to help companies make the cloud migration.

Until last week, said Anand, F5’s cloud services were limited to Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

“Many of our clients wanted more of a choice, so we have extended our service offerings to include Google Cloud, giving customers a good choice when deploying their apps to the public cloud.”

In addition to its Google Cloud integration, F5’s range of new cloud services make managing apps both locally and in a public cloud easy and secure.

Its Application Connector, for example, allows a company to deploy a locally hosted application to Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. It then allows one to load balance the app between the local app and the one in the cloud.

“Should a business’ local infrastructure start battling under the load, F5’s Application Connector creates a secure connection to the hosted version, balancing out the load and ensuring that the app continues to run, no matter how resource intensive it is,” said Anand.

The hybrid setup also ensures redundancy, and with the Application Connector in place, should changes to an app need to be made, they only need to be made in one place.

“Security is top of our checklist when helping clients deploy to the cloud, and we have noticed many businesses have disparate security systems protecting various parts of their network, making it difficult to stay on top of security.”

F5’s services offer a holistic overview on their apps – both locally and in the public, she said. “For instance, when the WannaCry campaign was discovered, it was imperative to find the vulnerability, patch it and stop it from spreading any further. Our services allowed clients to do this quickly and rest assured that the virus had not spread to any other services or products.”

Security is just one driver of cloud adoption

“We have noticed that many companies are not happy with a single cloud deployment any more,” she said. “They want to offer their services and application across multiple clouds which makes deployment very difficult as each public cloud provider runs a different framework.”

F5 Networks has launched cloud solution templates for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. The templates simplify and automate most of the deployment, ensuring that all security measures are met and that the application remains stable, regardless of which cloud hosts it.

“With these services and product offerings, we aim to take the mystery out of the cloud and make it easy and cost effective for companies of all sizes to make the move.”

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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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