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War on storage waste begins in Las Vegas

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It’s one of the great ironies of technology that, as computer storage becomes cheaper, companies spend more on it. That’s about to change, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK writes from Las Vegas.

Everything is bigger in Las Vegas, so there is a double irony in the news that the world’s leading computer storage company, EMC Corporation, chose its annual conference in this ostentatious city to declare war on what we may call storage ostentation.

At the opening of the EMC World conference yesterday, the company unveiled EMC Enterprise Copy Data Management (eCDM), which it describes as “new software that enables organisations to regain control of the spiraling costs of storing and managing multiple copies of the same data”.

That may sound technical, but it relates to a wasteful habit practised by almost anyone who ever saves a file on a computer. Because the cost of storage has plummeted in recent years, and no one thinks twice about saving space when saving files, the total cost of storage in organisations keeps going up.

EMC uses the term “snaps” to describe these lightweight and apparently zero-cost multiple copies of the same data. And it warns that the implications may not be felt in storage capacity in data centres, but will have a major impact on needless complexity and inefficiency. And that, in turn, carries a massive cost.

“Just as the ‘cc’ function in email can make it too easy to create data sprawl in the email inbox, unmonitored snaps can cause the same problem in the data center,” the company explained in a statement yesterday.

It quoted estimates by global analyst firm IDC that, by 2018, global businesses will waste $51-billion storing data on the wrong tier of storage, or storing data they no longer need. Because employees have to keep creating copies for anything from data protection to analytics, 82% of businesses now have at least 10 copies of any single instance of data.

As a direct response to the problem, eCDM was launched yesterday to streamline enterprises’ processes for monitoring, managing and analyzing such data.

“To modernise business processes, customers need a complete vision of all the data across the organization – no gaps, no silos, no misinformation,” said Beth Phalen, senior vice president of data protection and availability solutions in the Core Technologies division of EMC, yesterday.

“eCDM links together a complete picture of the copy data across a business from primary to protection storage, ensuring customers have the right copies of the right data in the right place. eCDM is the first product to bridge the gap between data protection and data management, addressing the pressing challenge of ensuring the right levels of protection while also addressing copy data sprawl; helping organisations dramatically reduce cost while increasing confidence that their data is protected consistently and completely.”

Then solution still allows “self-service” copy creation, but now brings governance to this generally overlooked corner of a company’s information management.

One of EMC’s clients presenting at the conference, First National Technology Solutions, which implements and manages large systems for major corporations, is one of the early users of the tool.

“We can now provide our customers with more insight into their data, empowering them to make informed decisions about what they’re storing and for how long,” says the company’s chief technology officer James O’Neil. “We expect this to help our customers to avoid data sprawl as well as monitoring protection compliance.”

And, of course, to control costs, and thus provide more competitive pricing.

The new software is one of a wide range of new products EMC is launching in Las Vegas, as it sets about reinventing not only storage, but also data centres that collectively host the cloud.

“The IT industry is in a state of massive transformation, resulting in both disruption and great opportunity,” said David Goulden, CEO of EMC’s Information Infrastructure division. “Every business leader, across every industry, is facing the dilemma of how to support and grow traditional IT infrastructure while modernising the data center in order to support the development of new applications and advance their digital agendas. Some are doing all of this simultaneously. The products and services announced today will help advance the customer’s journey to build a modern data center in order to thrive as a digital business.”

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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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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