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You have to manage your cloud

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Cloud technology is gaining traction as more Internet enabled devices become available. But the key to a successful cloud deployment is how it is managed and which processes are hosted in the cloud and which are kept locally, writes JOHAN SCHEEPERS of CommVault.

While cloud technology gains traction through the big data boom, IT leaders question how they can maximise value from cloud computing while still maintaining data security and control. The data growth we are experiencing continues to escalate in volume and complexity, particularly when data is streaming in from millions of new internet enabled devices, virtualised machines and cloud enabled business-critical applications.

Although the cloud has been around for a few years now, organisations are only recently starting to understand what level of cloud adoption makes sense for their business needs. The cloud has also gone through significant developments, with Hybrid models becoming the favoured approach to enable organisations to benefit from the agility offered from public clouds, while maintaining control of sensitive data on-premise.

A hybrid approach to cloud

Planning a journey to the cloud, whether private, public or both is daunting for all organisations. There is the promise of greater business agility and low upfront investment, however if not handled systematically and driven by insights gleaned from your data, it can actually increase cost and complexity. Some organisations are experiencing issues ranging from egress costs to wasteful utilisation, to complex and siloed management. By starting with insights from your data you can better understand which workloads and applications are most appropriate for a public or private cloud or on-premise hosting, and deploy a successful Hybrid model.

Having an on-premises, private infrastructure directly accessible means not having to go via the public internet for everything, which can greatly reduce access time and latency in comparison to public cloud services. The hybrid cloud model offers organisations on-premises computational and storage infrastructure for processing data that requires extra speed or high availability for your business. This is combined with the benefits of the public cloud where a workload may exceed the computational power of the private cloud component.

Expanding the private component of a hybrid cloud also allows for flexibility in virtual server design. Organisations can automate the entire virtual machine lifecycle to archiving older VM’s to the cloud.

Another benefit of the hybrid model is the increased connectivity and collaboration offered to employees – which can often be a challenge in today’s digital world. The ability for teams to easily and securely share files should be coupled with the integration of remote workers into core business processes, such as internal messaging, scheduling, edge protection (laptops, tablets, etc), business intelligence and analytics.

Although the benefits are clear for adopting a Hybrid approach it can still be difficult to know where to start. CIOs need to look at how they can introduce a Hybrid model that delivers deeply integrated cloud automation and orchestration tools, ensuring compatibility across cloud solutions and on-premise infrastructure. It is recommended that organisations look towards a low risk, high value first step to the cloud through disaster recovery. And particularly in India, our service provider partners are seeing strong demand for Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service and Backup-as-a-Service, as a clear entries into the cloud for businesses.

The hybrid environment is fast emerging as the norm for many CIOs. However the key to successfully deploying a hybrid cloud model is by understanding which workloads and applications are most appropriate for which hosting, and leveraging a single integrated console with an enterprise-wide view of data across these infrastructures. This will mean that IT leaders can better control where to process data and maximise cost savings by identifying reasonable spend in relation to the value that data offers to the business.

The spending shift – from Capex to Opex

While cloud computing offered promises of cost savings, increasingly we are seeing headlines like this from the Wall Street Journal: “The Hidden Waste and Expense of Cloud Computing“ or from CFO Mag: “Cloud Computing’s Wasteland“. So what’s actually happening?

Due to a lack of controls to help track and manage utilisation, businesses are being faced with unexpected costs, typically from an unusually large bill from their cloud provider after cloud instances are left running. In the traditional CapEx model, which we’re all used to, we invest heavily upfront in hardware and software. However with the cloud subscription model, we can build a datacenter with a credit card in a predictable Operational Expense (OpEx) model – which is wonderful in theory, until the bill shows up. As organisations mainstream public cloud, they are exposing holes in the maturity of their management processes and controls. This means that developers have been deploying VMs at will and not taking down workloads when they are finished.

To address this growing concern, IT leaders need to ensure they have a data and information management strategy which enables them to capture the workload at the point of creation and attach data management service at that point. To support Hybrid models, we need to be able to stay with the workload as it moves between on-premises to hosted private cloud to hybrid and public clouds.

Lastly, data is only useful when we are able to gain value from it, whether it be in the cloud or on-prem.  Starting with backup and recovery, organisations can then fast track into more advanced use cases like dev/test solutions and more. Here emerges the hybrid data analytics strategy. ‘Analytics with purpose’ will be a guiding principle for businesses moving forward. And regardless of whether it’s to introduce a business intelligence project or take an advanced analytics strategy to the next level, organisations leveraging a hybrid cloud model will have the opportunity to make more intelligent choices about structured and unstructured data in their environment. They will be able to quickly mitigate the risk of compliance related issues, and regain valuable storage space, freeing up budgets to pursue opportunities that can power business growth.

* Johan Scheepers, Principal Systems Engineer at CommVault

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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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