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Foundations rise for Industry 4.0

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As organisations begin to embrace the cloud, deploying new apps and services on-the-fly – as well as get new sites up and running quickly – are essential to ensuring the level of agility digital transformation demands, writes TAJ ELKHAYAT of Riverbed Technology.

The first industrial revolution was based on the use of steam to power machines. The second centred on the use of electricity to supply energy to assembly lines. The third came about with the use of electronics and IT to further automate production. But all of that is in the past. We are now in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, known as Industry 4.0, in which the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to overhaul not only business, but also every aspect of modern life. From cars, washing machines, and even clothing, to heart monitors and dams, anything and everything will soon be connected.

As a result, the Industry 4.0 phenomenon is expected to revolutionise all areas within the manufacturing space, connecting all the elements that take part in the production process within the industrial environment: machines, products, systems, and people. The IoT will make today’s organisations more competitive by enabling them to further automate manufacturing processes, and collect and analyse data which they can then use to tailor their products to specific client needs.

In order to get the most out of this agile transformation, today’s companies will not only need to embrace the cloud. They will need to invest in a robust data security environment, and analyse their existing IT infrastructure to ensure it meets their IoT needs. Ensuring their network, branch and remote sites have a strong foundation and that they have in place a solid visibility strategy is the best place to start.

Taking a good look at network architectures

Organisations can only implement digital technologies successfully if their network is flexible and agile. This might be easier said than done, as smart factories – where there is an increasing number of connected objects creating billions of new end points, and transmitting information and interacting with applications – are already struggling to stay in control of inflexible, complex networks.

Many are storing information in the cloud as well as on local systems – generating what are known as hybrid environments – putting an incredible strain on the network, which traditional networking technologies are not designed to handle.

In response, many organisations are taking a new approach and are opting for the use of Software-Defined-WAN, or SD-WAN networks, which offer them the ability to make on-the-fly adjustments to their network’s performance and application delivery, and meet the business’ ever-changing needs. SD-WAN also enables organisations to direct traffic and deploy network services across a WAN from a centralised location. Ultimately, this translates into reduced costs and operational complexity; and increased optimisation to deliver superior-performing apps and experiences to users.

Addressing issues in the branch

At the core of any manufacturing business are branch offices and manufacturing sites.  Often operating as independent data centres which are difficult to support and protect, these sites often fall victim to services outages and data loss which lead to a range of productivity issues including assembly-line stoppage, missed sales opportunities, customer churn, and ultimately, lost revenues.

Getting these remote sites up and running requires significant IT investments. In fact, Riverbed found that branch offices represent 50 per cent of an average company’s total IT budget. However, with half of today’s IT organisations using outdated methods of operation, businesses are finding it difficult to address pain points that impact overall business agility and performance. New IT services take longer to provision. Data loss is a greater threat when it’s stored outside the secure data centre. And, when something goes wrong, it’s difficult to recover data and restore business operations.

As an alternative, implementing technologies designed specifically for the management of branch IT allows organisations’ IT teams to virtualise and consolidate 100 per cent of data and servers from remote sites into data centres, centralising data security and IT management without losing the benefits of running branch services locally. Additionally, new tools offer instant provisioning and recovery, providing complete security and visibility into the network, improving data security, business continuity, agility, and operational efficiency – the foundations of a solid transformation.

Paving the way for optimal performance

Industry 4.0 is set to change the way industries produce and consume products, boosting manufacturers’ productivity worldwide. However, with apps, devices, and data anywhere and everywhere, it will also bring increased complexity across networks. There will necessarily be an increasing number of blind spots in the application delivery chain which could ultimately affect product delivery processes and companies’ bottom lines.

As organisations begin to embrace the cloud, establishing the ability to deploy new apps and services on-the-fly – as well as get new sites up and running quickly – are essential to ensuring the level of agility and performance digital transformation demands. Delivering great app and network performance is one of the keys to doing this, as well as to succeeding in an increasingly competitive and changing marketplace.

* Taj ElKhayat, Regional Vice President, Middle East and Africa at Riverbed Technology

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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