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Hybrid WAN boosts agility

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85% of IT leaders feel that they have a timeframe of just two years to adopt new technologies, or risk falling behind. However many can stay agile should they adopt a hybrid WAN, writes TAJ ELKHAYAT, Regional Vice President, Middle East and Africa at Riverbed Technology.

In the past, most applications were housed on-premises and the WAN was a well-defined and predictable environment. This is no longer the case, as nowadays, the WAN is continually changing and both the applications and architecture that it supports are becoming increasingly challenging to maintain. With more and more applications transitioning to the cloud – public, private or SaaS – the cloud has become an essential element of enterprise architecture as many organisations embark on a digital transformation strategy. Today, 85% of IT leaders feel that they have a timeframe of just two years to adopt new technologies, or risk falling behind.

Consequently, IT now has to manage an increasing number of on-premises and cloud-based applications. The growing number of apps combined with the escalating demand for video and rich-media means that the public Internet is now often used along with MPLS to address enterprises’ rapidly increasing needs for bandwidth. This certainly has cost benefits. However, it can impact IT’s ability to have visibility or understanding of application performance. Changes to the WAN have a negative impact on app performance and businesses must find new approaches to tackle this and optimize app performance and reliability.

As a result, the WAN is evolving toward a hybrid mix that combines the performance of on-premises hardware with the agility and elasticity of cloud based network functions. As enterprises are becoming hybrid, the shape of the network itself is seeing significant changes. The underlying networks are getting more diverse in terms of performance and security.

Controlling the edge of the network

Business now takes place at the edge of the network perimeter – at the branch, at home, from remote locations or on the road. Availability and speed are the biggest priority and keeping business applications running in remote and branch office locations can address this. However, it’s important to note that in the new hybrid WAN, direct Internet access can actually put businesses’ sensitive data at risk from cyber-attacks. Whilst the cloud offers agility and cost-efficiency, the performance is often less than ideal for the end-user and is more difficult for IT to control and optimise. Enterprises can tackle this by looking for solutions which allow them to unify IT management from one central location, such as the data centre or the cloud, all the way to the edge. Regardless of where applications are hosted, IT must be able to ensure optimal performance and secure availability.

Agility and application performance are key WAN requirements

In today’s increasingly digital world, application performance is at the heart of business productivity. Applications can help facilitate business functions, ranging from manufacturing, to processing sales. They also help us communicate and collaborate. However, as we rely on applications more and more, this means that the end-user has high expectations around performance levels.

IT must be able to make these applications available to users and respond to business needs as quickly as possible. Whether this requires setting up a new branch office or making a new SaaS application available to employees, agility is key. IT must be able to deploy sites, rollout applications and handle change management, all whilst ensuring that application performance runs seamlessly.

Tackling application complexity with operational development

Applications are now becoming richer and more complex as the majority become encrypted. Delivered from the data centre, the cloud and the edge, users are accessing them from everywhere. The edge is fast becoming the centre of communication for enterprise and IT must now consider solutions that automate application delivery over the WAN and facilitate intelligence, performance and security requirements as well as abstracting communication resources. This requires automated systems and orchestration which can support these abstractions and align IT with the wider business needs.

Maximise productivity by optimize application performance

Poor application performance can have significant negative impact on a business, affecting not only employee productivity, but also customer satisfaction. Today’s hybrid WAN has introduced new challenges. As bandwidth is now more cost-effective and readily available, the rapid adoption of SaaS and cloud applications means that it can be difficult for IT to keep up with who is using what apps. This in turn leads to poor visibility of end-user experience and an inability to manage infrastructure and application performance.

Encryption can hide application traffic and further obscure the distinction between applications. This means that IT now requires visibility beyond encryption to understand the specific applications accessed by various users. Once this is achieved, they can prioritise and direct application traffic. This can reduce the number of transactions across the WAN for faster application performance and less burden on communication lines.

Harnessing unification and simplification

In order to meet the changing agility requirements of the enterprise, IT will need solutions which will simplify operations across their hybrid network from the data centre or cloud to the LAN or across the hybrid WAN to users across multiple locations. Therefore, to uphold future agility requirements, it will become critical for enterprises to have the ability to abstract and virtualise communication resources between users and data, no matter where they are.

Whilst software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solutions are being developed to satisfy these requirements, holistic solutions will unify control across networks, the cloud and mobile workers. SD-WAN, when coupled with WAN optimisation, will significantly improve performance and infrastructure efficiencies.

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Naspers feeds into Latin America’s tech funding

Movile will get $400m funding from the SA-based technology investment giant for iFood expansion.

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Movile is to receive US$500-million in funding for iFood in the largest tech funding in Latin America to date. Naspers and Innova Capital have committed to invest $400m of new capital into Movile to use for further investment in iFood, the leading online food delivery platform in Latin America, of which Movile is a majority shareholder.  

Movile and Just Eat have already invested $100m in iFood during 2018. iFood’s extraordinary growth and the vast market opportunity in Brazil and more broadly in Latin America has driven the increased investment commitment. 

iFood’s monthly orders in Brazil have fed more than 9 million customers in the past twelve months, 16 times the nearest online competitor, in terms of daily active users. This means its partner restaurants are serving the biggest population of consumers ordering food in Latin America. iFood has 50 000 restaurant partners and uses 120 000 couriers. 

The increased investment commitment from Naspers, Innova and Movile is expected to accelerate growth, speed up product development and innovation, and fuel geographical expansion for iFood across the region. The company’s vision is to gain deeper knowledge of consumers through artificial intelligence technology, to personalise the food delivery experience – and at a reduced price, because of improved logistics. 

“Movile is very fortunate to have long-term investors who have supported us for the past decade to help achieve our goal of transforming the lives of more than one billion people and thus we are able to continually back iFood to ensure it remains the market leader,” said Fabricio Bloisi, Movile CEO. 

“Our entire ecosystem of companies is focused on allocating resources and energy towards our one billion people goal. iFood is leading the way, fueling unprecedented growth through its innovative technology platform, providing consumers, couriers and restaurants with the best experience in food ordering and delivery.”  

Larry Illg, CEO of Naspers Ventures, said: “iFood has established itself as a technology leader in Latin America and its success stacks up with some of the most innovative food companies that are leading regions in North America, Europe and Asia.  We have been impressed by their execution in Brazil and remain committed to backing the company on its path to transform the entire food chain to better serve consumers.” 

Online food delivery is experiencing massive expansion globally. According to latest reported results, Grubhub grew daily average orders 39% year-on-year, reaching over 416 000 orders per day. In Latin America, iFood has reached 390 000 orders per day just in Brazil in the last week of October, compared with 183 000 in October 2017, representing 109% growth.

iFood CEO Carlos Moyses said: “We want our consumers to have an amazing delivery experience from the moment they order their food to the moment it arrives. Our partners – the restaurants and delivery fleet – make that happen by living our purpose of improving people’s lives using our services.

“iFood exists for our customers and, with an increased investment commitment of this size, we will be able to build out our state of the art technology platform, and increase our courier and restaurant partners to even better serve our current and future customers in Latin America.”

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Hide your sheep, Spyro is reigniting

Spyro, the iconic purple dragon that entertained living rooms worldwide in the late ‘90s, is making a return with the release of Spyro Reignited Trilogy.

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Spyro Reignited Trilogy introduces players to a fully remastered game collection with a re-imagined cast of characters, animations, environments, new lighting and recreated cinematics—all inHD.  Now fans can explore more than 100 lush environments filled with new detail, that brings the Dragon Realms and Avalar to life . The trilogy is available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro and the family of Xbox One devices from Microsoft, including the Xbox One X.

South African distributors Megarom provided the followjng information:

In Spyro Reignited Trilogy, lead developer Toys For Bob is giving fans an all scaled-up version of the original three Spyro games that started it all, Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! and Spyro: Year of the Dragon, but with a modern-day feel that makes it fresh and fun for today’s player. Adding to the fun, voice actor Tom Kenny is returning to the franchise as the voice of Spyro in all three remastered games. Longtime fans will be treated to Toys For Bob’s reimagined version of the classic soundtracks, in addition to an all-new title-screen theme from original soundtrack composer Stewart Copeland.

Additionally, the new game brings an in-game audio feature that allows players to switch between the original and the newly remastered soundtracks, for those who want a more classic gameplay experience. Players can simply fly in to the “options menu” at any time during gameplay, unleash their preferred nostalgic or scaled-up groove, and glide right back into the Spyro action without losing saved data.

“It’s been a real pleasure to bring back one of most iconic video game characters of all time through the Spyro Reignited Trilogy,” said Paul Yan, Co-Studio Head at Toys For Bob. “We’ve poured everything we’ve got into making sure every detail was done right to deliver a great Spyro experience for fans. We hope players will have as much fun revisiting the Spyro world and characters as we did remastering them.”

In the road up to the official release of Spyro Reignited Trilogy, Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, created a first-of-its-kind, life-sized, fire-breathing and talking Spyro Dragon drone. The drone took off from “Stone Hill” castle near New York City, spreading his wings across the U.S. to explore the cities and iconic landscapes that resemble levels and themes from the original Spyro games. As part of the tour, the Spyro drone chased sheep, fired up some BBQ and delivered an early copy of Spyro Reignited Trilogy to fellow O.G. and entertainment icon, Snoop Dogg. Highlights from the Spyro drone’s delivery to Snoop Dogg can be found here.

“Fans have been asking Activision to bring Spyro back for some time now. The response to Spyro Reignited Trilogy has been great thus far, and we’re absolutely thrilled that we’re able to continue to reimagine and reinvigorate some of the most iconic videogames and characters of all time with our remastered experiences,” said Steve Young, Chief Revenue Officer at Activision. “With this year being the 20th anniversary of Spyro, there’s no better time to pay homage to everyone’s favorite purple dragon.”

The Spyro community is invited to geek out and elevate their fandom even further through the elite global partnerships from the Activision Blizzard Consumer Products Group (ABCPG). Collaborations with Funko, Traly Pins, Exquisite Gaming, KidRobot, USAopoly, Trends International, Rubber Road, and Changes have created new avenues for fans to share their love for the return of Spyro, the original roast master. Spyro consumer products across apparel, collectibles, figurines and more are now available at retailers worldwide. Fans can also take advantage of the GameStop exclusive Spyro TOTAKU Collection.

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