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vCloud Air targets disasters

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VMware has announced enhanced disaster recovery and advanced networking services for VMware vCloud Air.

VMware also announced the general availability of vCloud Air Virtual Private Cloud OnDemand, which provides customers a quick online sign-up to pay for only those resources that are used. As part of the general availability of vCloud Air OnDemand, VMware introduced a new program to make it easier for customers to have the predictable billing of a subscription, but only pay for cloud resources consumed with a new Subscription Purchasing Program.

“Public cloud is a part of every VMware client’s view of the future because it helps them move faster and get far greater value for money from their IT Infrastructure,” said Bill Fathers, executive vice president and general manager, Cloud Services Business Unit, VMware. “VMware vCloud Air provides our clients with these benefits for both new and existing applications. The service enhancements announced today reflect strong client interest in a public cloud platform compatible with existing vSphere environments.”

Simple, affordable cloud disaster recovery
One of the most compelling use cases for hybrid cloud is a simpler model for disaster recovery and business continuity. IT has become the lifeblood of most businesses, and any disruption to IT systems can lead to lost revenue, missed opportunity, and competitive disadvantage. VMware vCloud Air Disaster Recovery delivers cost-effective, flexible and simple disaster recovery for business continuity planning.

VMware vCloud Air Disaster Recovery can be implemented in less than an hour and replicates virtual machines and data to vCloud Air, providing a warm-standby virtual data centre in the event of a disaster. Customers choose vCloud Air for disaster recovery because it requires zero changes to the existing virtualised environment, and because vCloud Air supports all the operating systems and applications they run today – without conversions. The new capabilities include:

·         Native failback support – Customers will now have an easier way to resume normal data centre operations in their primary data centre following a failover to vCloud Air. Customers will be able to replicate workloads back from vCloud Air to the primary customer environment over the network to resume normal operations.

·         Multiple recovery points – Customers will have the option to roll back to multiple earlier snapshots of their data centre environment. This is vital to recover from outages caused by data corruption, viruses or hacking attacks that compromise the most recent recovery point.

·         Self-service automation – Customers will be able to define and deploy recovery playbooks to streamline failover operations using a new vRealize Orchestrator DR plug-in, open source DR Command Line Interface (CLI) and an expanded REST API.

New VMware vCloud advanced networking services
VMware vCloud Air advanced networking services, powered by the VMware NSX network virtualisation platform, will enable customers to achieve unprecedented security and isolation in a public cloud. VMware will deliver the following benefits to customers:

·         Fine-grained network security groups and isolation – Customers can define security groups that provide stateful network traffic isolation without requiring multiple virtual networks. Unique to the public cloud market, this enables a “zero trust” security model designed to prevent insiders and intruders from gaining full network access if an application or virtual machine is compromised. It also dramatically simplifies network configuration and is implemented as a distributed firewall, so there is no network traffic bottleneck.

·         Dynamic Routing – VMware vCloud Air will support both Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) and Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) based routing to simplify network integration between on-premises and cloud-based environments, allowing for redundancy and continuity in cloud-hosted application deployment. It drives down networking and administration costs.

·         Additional vCloud Advanced Networking Services – Expanded network scalability up to 200 endpoints, enhanced VPN support for point to site connectivity and enhanced load balancing with support for HTTPS.

Instant access to vCloud Air
VMware vCloud Air Virtual Private Cloud OnDemand allows customers to sign up online for immediate access, and pay-as-you-go with a credit card or purchase agreement. Individuals get $300 of free service when they sign up, making tests, proof-of-concepts and application deployments risk free. There is no upfront resource commitment and no upfront cost. Charges will be incurred as the resources are consumed (metered by the minute) and billed on a monthly basis.

“VMware vCloud Air OnDemand allows us a cost effective way of ramping up our development efforts outside of our vCloud Air production environment,” says Jeff Wilson, Director IT at Nevro.

Subscription purchasing program
The VMware Subscription Purchasing Program (SPP) will combine regular, predictable billing for cloud service with the complete flexibility for customers to use any cloud service and only pay for what they use. Customers will be able to create an SPP fund with either a single pre-payment today, or regular monthly installments starting in the second half of 2015. Customers gain a volume discount based on the amount committed. They then spend their fund by consuming cloud services, just paying for what they need and topping up the fund as necessary. Initially, SPP supports all vCloud Air services, including vCloud Air OnDemand, as well as Horizon Air.

Pricing and availability
·         VMware vCloud Virtual Private Cloud Air OnDemand is available immediately. Pricing starts at $0.17/hour for a VM with 8 GB of RAM and 2 vCPU.

·         The new capabilities for VMware vCloud Air Disaster Recovery are expected to be available in Q1 2015.

·         Advanced networking services will be available in vCloud Air in the first half of 2015.

 

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IoT at starting gate

South Africa is already past the Internet of Things (IoT) hype cycle and well into the mainstream, writes MARK WALKER, associate vice president of Sub-Saharan Africa at International Data Corporation (IDC).

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Projects and pilots are already becoming a commercial reality, tying neatly into the 2017 IDC prediction that 2018 would be the year when the local market took IoT mainstream. Over the next 12-18 months, it is anticipated that IoT implementations will continue to rise in both scope and popularity. Already 23% are in full deployment with 39% in the pilot phase. The value of IoT has been systematically proven and yet its reputation remains tenuous – more than 5% of companies are reluctant to put their money where the trend is – thanks to the shifting sands of IoT perception and success rate.

There are several reasons behind why IoT implementations are failing. The biggest is that organisations don’t know where to start. They know that IoT is something they can harness today and that it can be used to shift outdated modalities and operations. They are aware of the benefits and the case studies. What they don’t know is how to apply this knowledge to their own journey so their IoT story isn’t one of overbearing complexity and rising costs.

Another stumbling block is perception. Yes, there is the futuristic potential with the talking fridge and intelligent desk, but this is not where the real value lies. Organisations are overlooking the challenges that can be solved by realistic IoT, the banal and the boring solutions that leverage systems to deliver on business priorities. IoT’s potential sits within its ability to get the best out of assets and production efficiencies, solving problems in automation, security, and environment.

In addition to this, there is a lack of clarity around return on investment, uncertainty around the benefits, a lack of executive leadership, and concerns around security and the complexities of regulation.  Because IoT is an emerging technology there remains a limited awareness of the true extent of its value proposition and yet 66% of organisations are confident that this value exists.

This percentage poses both a problem and opportunity. On one hand, it showcases the local shift in thinking towards IoT as a technology worth investing into. On the other hand, many companies are seeing the competition invest and leaping blindly in the wrong direction. Stop. IoT is not the same for every business.

It is essential that every company makes its own case for IoT based on its needs and outcomes. Does agriculture have the same challenges as mining? Does one mining company have the same challenges as another? The answer is no. Organisations that want their IoT investment to succeed must reject the idea that they can pick up where another has left off. IoT must be relevant to the business outcome that it needs to achieve. While some use cases may apply to most industries based on specific circumstances, there are different realities and priorities that will demand a different approach and starting point.

Ask – what is the business problem right now and how can technology be leveraged to resolve it?

In the agriculture space, there is a need to improve crop yields and livestock management, improve farm productivity and implement environmental monitoring. In the construction and mining industry, safety and emergency response are a priority alongside workforce and production management. Education shifts the lens towards improving delivery and quality of education, access to advanced learning methods and reducing the costs of learning.  Smart cities want to improve traffic and efficiently deliver public services and healthcare is focusing on wellness, reducing hospital admissions and the security of assets and inventory management.

The technology and solutions selected must speak to these specific challenges.

If there are no insights used to create an IoT solution, it’s the equivalent of having the fastest Ferrari on Rivonia Road in peak traffic. It makes a fantastic noise, but it isn’t going to move any faster than the broken-down sedan in the next lane. Everyone will be impressed with the Ferrari, but the amount of power and the size of the investment mean nothing. It’s in the wrong place.

What differentiates the IoT successes is how a company leverages data to deliver meaningful value-added predictions and actions for personalised efficiencies, convenience, and improved industry processes. To move forward the organisation needs to focus on the business outcomes and not just the technology. They need to localise and adapt by applying context to the problem that’s being solved and explore innovation through partnerships and experimentation.

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ERP underpins food tracking

The food traceability market is expected to reach almost $20 billion by 2022 as increased consumer awareness, strict governance requirements, and advances in technology are resulting in growing standardisation of the segment, says STUART SCANLON, managing director of epic ERP

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Just like any data-driven environment, one of the biggest enablers of this is integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

As the name suggests, traceability is the ability to track something through all stages of production, processing, and distribution. When it comes to the food industry, traceability must also enable stakeholders to identify the source of all food inputs that can include anything from raw materials, additives, ingredients, and packaging.

Considering the wealth of data that all these facets generate, it is hardly surprising that systems and processes need to be put in place to manage, analyse, and provide actionable insights. With traceability enabling corrective measures to be taken (think product recalls), having an efficient system is often the difference between life or death when it comes to public health risks.

Expansive solutions

Sceptics argue that traceability simply requires an extensive data warehouse to be done correctly, the reality is quite different. Yes, there are standard data records to be managed, but the real value lies in how all these components are tied together.

ERP provides the digital glue to enable this. With each stakeholder audience requiring different aspects of traceability (and compliance), it is essential for the producer, distributor, and every other organisation in the supply chain, to manage this effectively in a standardised manner.

With so many different companies involved in the food cycle, many using their own, proprietary systems, just consider the complexity of trying to manage traceability. Organisations must not only contend with local challenges, but global ones as well as the import and export of food are big business drivers.

So, even though traceability is vital to keep track of everything in this complex cycle, it is also imperative to monitor the ingredients and factories where items are produced. Having expansive solutions that must track the entire process from ‘cradle to grave’ is an imperative. Not only is this vital from a safety perspective, but from cost and reputational management aspects as well. Just think of the recent listeriosis issue in South Africa and the impact it has had on all parties in that supply chain.

Efficiency improvements

Thanks to the increasing digital transformation efforts by companies in the food industry, traceability becomes a more effective process. It is no longer a case of using on-premise solutions that can be compromised but having hosted ones that provide more effective fail-safes.

In a market segment that requires strict compliance and regulatory requirements to be met, cloud-based solutions can provide everyone in the supply chain with a more secure (and tamper-resistant) solution than many of the legacy approaches of old.

This is not to say ERP requires the one or the other. Instead, there needs to be a transition provided between the two scenarios that empowers those in the food supply chain to maximise the insights (and benefits) derived from traceability.

Now, more than ever, traceability is a business priority. Having the correct foundation through effective ERP is essential if a business can manage its growth and meet legislative requirements into the future.

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