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IS opens portal to world’s biggest cloud

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Internet Solutions has launched SkyLight, the first aggregated cloud services portal of its kind that gives businesses the opportunity to create the virtual environments that are most appropriate for them.

SkyLight delivers the world’s biggest cloud by providing access to the foremost local and global cloud platforms through a single portal. This means that enterprises can finally create the virtual environments that are most appropriate for their business.

Andrew Aitken, Executive: Cloud at Internet Solutions, says that enterprises have known for a while that cloud computing is one of the most important new technologies seen in decades.

“CIOs and CFOs in particular are attracted by the proposition that cloud computing turns the economics of enterprise IT on its head. On-site data centres are prohibitively costly capital investments, whereas the cloud allows consideration of an operating expenditure model because those hard costs are eliminated. But in practise, there is a perception that shifting their invaluable data into the cloud is too difficult or too risky.

SkyLight delivers the promise of cloud computing by enabling the ease and flexibility of services that has been lacking, as well as the visibility that enterprises demand,” he says.

The world’s biggest cloud

With a single login and with one easy-to-use interface, SkyLight currently offers users on-demand access to cloud services from Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Internet Solutions Cloud and Dimension Data Cloud, with others to follow.

Enterprises can select one virtual environment for their entire business, or select different environments for different departments, deployments or workloads. Provisioning or decommissioning machines as need dictates – whichever the platform – happens instantaneously via the portal.

“No longer must enterprises commit to a single platform that may not be ideal for their requirements, or face the laborious tasks of optimising and collating services across multiple platforms,” says Aitken. “This is probably the single biggest issue that enterprises grapple with when taking their data to the cloud.”

“Our answer is SkyLight – one account, one login and one interface to select and deselect the cloud services that your business and your workload needs from what is effectively one mega-cloud.”

Manage more with less

Whether users provision a single machine or many, SkyLight enables a range of security and performance management functions across all virtual environments and on all cloud platforms, including monitoring of firewalls, networks, usage and load balancers.

Custom permissions, detailed audit logs and roll-back functionality are built in, making it easy to maintain proper levels of IT governance in the virtual environment.

Aitken says that SkyLight offers an extraordinary degree of control over the virtual environment, no matter how simple or complex.

“Having an immediate, holistic view of how virtual machines are performing – from both a usage and security perspective – means that CIOs and IT staff can make informed decisions about how to manage services in the most cost-effective and efficient manner,” he says.

Financial flexibility and oversight

By eliminating contract lock-ins, enterprises can scale up or down their data requirements instantly. This flexibility means that business is not negatively impacted by delays on physical infrastructure or by paying for cloud services that are no longer required.

“Instead of purchasing infrastructure based on requirements and financial projections decided years ago, through SkyLight an enterprise pays only for the IT services it needs, when it needs it, and at the appropriate scale,” says Aitken.

SkyLight users will receive one consolidated bill – in Rands – with detailed usage statistics for all provisioned virtual environments and cloud platforms.

“Invoices typically provide very little information, which means that budgeting for unusual deployments or reporting on specific spend is almost impossible,” says Aitken. “SkyLight’s billing function, on the other hand, enables cost-tracking by the day which is not currently possible on other platforms.”

Internet Solutions’ Managing Director, Saki Missaikos, says that the company has invested more than two years into the development of SkyLight in order to transform cloud computing from a platform-centric to a user-centric service.

“Cloud computing offers enterprises tremendous advantage from a financial, operational and sustainability perspective, but only if their business requirements are central to the design of their virtual environment,” he says.

Missaikos believes that with user-centric cloud services like SkyLight, enterprises can look forward to a future in which CIOs and IT departments are freed from managing physical assets like servers and data centres.

“This is an exciting future in which the IT department is a creativity and innovation hub, properly leveraging its human capital to deliver business value,” he says.

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Load-shedding leads
local searches

South Africans are searching in the dark, according to the latest Google Search trends.

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With more 1 million search queries generated in the space of 76 hours, load-shedding was by far the top trending search on Google South Africa this week.

Valentine’s Day came a distant second.

After news emerged last Sunday of the impending stage 3 load shedding, South Africans had generated more than 1-million load-shedding search queries by the time Tuesday came around:

  • “Loadshedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Eskom load shedding” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding Cape Town” – generated more than 50k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 400k on Monday
  • “Load shedding Johannesburg” – generated more than 20k searches on Monday
  • Load shedding schedule” generated more than 200k search queries on Tuesday

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, South Africans generated close to 300k search queries related to the romantic festival, including searches for quotes and gift ideas:

  • “Valentines Day” generated more than 100k search queries on Thursday
  • “Happy Valentines Day Images” and “Valentines Day Images” generated more than 10k search queries each on Thursday, with “Happy Valentines Day 2019” generating more than 20k search queries on Wednesday
  • “Valentines Day Specials 2019” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Love quotes” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Valentines Day quotes” generated more than 100k search queries and “Valentine messages” generated more than 50 000 search queries on Wednesday

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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Showmax invites
student films

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Thanks to the growing popularity of video-on-demand services, there’s a new opportunity to help kickstart the careers of local filmmakers.

Numerous Hollywood blockbusters (District 9Tomb Raider 2018, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few) have featured substantial shoots in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While providing great opportunities for SA’s production talent, aspiring writers and directors don’t get the same benefit.

So where can local creatives showcase their work? Broadcast TV isn’t a natural home for unknown short films, and while self-publishing platforms are readily available hosting options, it’s tough to get noticed and get traffic when competing with videos from across the planet.

But with the emergence of video-on-demand services into the mainstream, there’s now a solution. The African film school AFDA has teamed up with the streaming service Showmax to give local talent a much larger platform than ever before. From 18 February, eighteen of the best recent short films made by AFDA students from their Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth campuses will be live on Showmax. Drama, documentary, fantasy, and animation are all represented, in pieces running from under eight minutes to almost half-an-hour long. The full list of movies is included below.

Teresa Passchier, CEO of AFDA, said: “AFDA, Africa’s number-one school for the Creative Economy, is proud to kickstart this exciting and meaningful journey with Showmax and AFDA students, ensuring emerging young African filmmakers’ voices are heard and given a platform. It’s ground-breaking to share young, local, culturally relevant content on the same platform as Hollywood blockbusters. I am certain that this unique initiative will serve to boost and develop the African film industry and the careers of many young South African and African students alike.”

Included in the short films coming to Showmax are the award winners Junior and O-PunchaJunior, directed by Bert Dijkstra, picked up the Audience Award in the Made in South Africa Competition at the shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival Awards 2017. O-Puncha, directed by Adam Hansen, won two awards at the 5th annual Eldorado Film Festival: Best Student Made Short, and Best Editing – Alexander La Cock.

Another celebrated film is Sicela Amanzi directed by Mlu Godola, which talks to the subject of water shortage. The film’s heroine Zoleka is a mild-mannered young woman forced to go to extreme lengths when a small community’s only source of water unexpectedly collapses. The power of films like this is they shine a light on critical topical issues in new ways.

Speaking about working with the film school, Candice Fangueiro, Head of Content for Showmax, said: “There’s immense depth of filmmaking talent in Africa and it’s a privilege to be able to give that talent a home and a platform. Showmax is becoming part of the fabric of film and TV production in Africa, and importantly we’re doing this as a partner rather than just as a consumer. This is a key competitive advantage of being local and something we aim to continue to work on.”

AFDA is an Academy Award-winning institution, founded in 1994, and the first and only African film school to win an Oscar – for the Best Foreign Student film in 2006, the postgraduate film Elalini, directed by Tristan Holmes.

The full list of AFDA short films coming to Showmax is as follows:

Film titleDirectorGenre
Lullaby from the CryptKeenan Lott & Raven DavidsAnimation
Ko Ga CherenyaneSibonokuhle MyatazaDocumentary
IzilwaneKyllian RouxDrama
MallemeuleJaco Van BoschDrama
Canal StreetBrodie MuirheadDrama
On the FenceWarrick BewsDrama
The Righteous FewLindo LangaDrama
Hlogoma PeakLuke AhrensDrama
Frozen FlameCameron HeathmanAnimation
WolfBrett van DortFantasy
The Walk HomeSisanda DyantyiDrama
BearWesley RoodtDrama
JuniorBert DijkstraDrama
O-PunchaAdam HansenDrama
UmngenoSiphosethu NdungeDrama
DoreenLuvuyo Equiano NyawoseDrama
ForeverLindo LangaMusical
Sicela AmanziMlu GodolaDrama

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