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AWS opens Route 53 in SA

Amazon has recently launched its Route 53 in South Africa, offering a DNS web service to developers and businesses needing a reliable and cost effective way to route end users to Internet applications, writes MICHAEL NEEDHAM, Senior Manager, Solutions Architecture, AWS.

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Following the recent launch of CloudFront, our global content delivery network (CDN) service, in South Africa, is the launch of Amazon Route 53 in both edge locations, further improving availability and performance for customers and end users in the region. Route 53 is a highly available and scalable cloud Domain Name System (DNS) web service, designed to give developers and businesses an extremely reliable and cost effective way to route end users to Internet applications. The two new edge locations will help customers see improvements of as much as 75% in DNS query latency.

For over nine years global companies of all sizes, from Hulu, Intuit, Allergan, Slack and Spotify, to small businesses running WordPress, have benefitted from an easy, secure, and cost effective way to distribute content, and accelerate applications, websites, and APIs, using Amazon CloudFront. Now, our customers in South Africa can leverage Amazon CloudFront to securely deliver data, videos, and applications to users, enjoying performance improvements of as much as 75% from reductions in latency. The two new edge locations, which now include Amazon Route 53, are located in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Combined with the launch of Direct Connect in Dec 2017, AWS is now offering a full range of networking and caching solutions to businesses in South Africa.

Better together: using Amazon Route 53 with Amazon CloudFront

Amazon Route 53 is designed to give developers and businesses an extremely reliable and cost effective way to route end users to Internet applications by translating names like www.example.com into the numeric IP addresses like 192.0.2.1 that computers use to connect to each other. Our customers’ websites, content, and applications delivered via Amazon CloudFront can use, in addition, the Amazon Route 53 service to create an Alias record for their domain, which points to the CloudFront distribution. Route 53 is designed to automatically answer queries from the optimal location depending on network conditions. As a result, the service offers low query latency for end users.

Let’s look at what this means for some CloudFront use cases:

‘As seen on TV!’ – CloudFront for Media Applications

For leading African story teller M-Net, the launch of AWS CloudFront services in South Africa presents significant cost savings and high availability of systems during peak demand for live shows while attracting significant interactive engagement for dozens of M-Net produced DStv channels across the continent.  Audiences are managed via a customised platform, architected, developed and supported by digital solutions agency SwipeiX, strategically directed and managed by M-Net’s interactive content producer, Don’t Look Down.

SwipeiX Founder, Leo Redelinghuys, commented “We are ecstatic to hear of this service launch in South Africa. SwipeiX has already seen huge cost benefit from building local high scale media applications for companies like WeChat, DSTV, EWN, Soccer Laduma and Discovery Networks on AWS.

Supporting high profile TV formats, the platform developed for M-Net scales to support millions of impressions. There can be very few work experiences more demanding than achieving M-Net’s live voting compliance requirements for global hit formats like as ‘Idols’, ‘The Voice’ or ‘Big Brother’. Your systems (and your nerves) are tested under the bright glare of millions of passionate fans who are each deeply invested in the results. Fans need to trust that their vote has been counted and that the process was free and fair. With AWS as a foundation, we have built that trust through 100% uptime, processing more than hundreds of millions of votes through these shows. Now, we will benefit from even better economics and performance with a local CloudFront, along with new architectural possibilities of compute at the edge with Lambda@Edge”, Redelinghuys concluded.

For a variety of media applications, Amazon CloudFront allows customers to stream audio and video to viewers across the globe using multiple protocols. The Route 53 addition makes it even easier for our customers to manage traffic globally through a variety of routing types, including Latency Based Routing, Geo DNS, Geoproximity, and Weighted Round Robin. All of these routing types can be combined with DNS Failover in order to enable a variety of low-latency, fault-tolerant architectures, which are important benefits for broadcasters and media organisations. Augment that with AWS Elemental, a family of fully managed media services, and you build out reliable, broadcast-quality video workflows in the Cloud. The latter solution is behind Seven Network’s streaming of the Australian Tennis Open to millions of viewers globally.

Playing. Shopping. Watching – faster and personalized user experience 

The new CloudFront Edge locations will enable South Africans to enjoy a much faster experience of both local and international applications, reducing the need to fetch content at its origin in data centers outside of the African continent. South Africans will notice many common platforms and applications speeding up as they take advantage of the new African presence. Using Amazon Route 53 can improve the performance and availability of our customers’ applications for end users by running multiple endpoints around the world, using Amazon Route 53 Traffic Flow to connect users to the best endpoint based on latency, geography, and endpoint health.

Mobile games developer SuperCell, the makers of Clash of Clans, serves 8.5 million daily players through CloudFront, which includes markets like South Africa. SuperCell can execute functionality closer to their users with Lambda@Edge without provisioning or managing servers.

Lambda@Edge functions offer a variety of possibilities, like functions for adjusting images by device type, personalizing content per country, A/B testing of websites, and much more. Consider the example of a personalized shopping experience powered by Lambda@Edge. A retail website that sells clothing, and uses cookies to indicate which color the shopper chose as a preferred match to their style. When the user considers buying a jacket on the website; using a Lambda function they can be presented with an image of the jacket in their personalised color of choice, using CloudFront.

Security and high performance 

With security at the heart of AWS services, CloudFront is no different. The integration between CloudFront and AWS Certificate Manager allows you to create free custom SSL certificates or bring your own and deploy them in minutes. With multiple online properties, SSL certificate costs add up for South African customers, making the free certificates from AWS’s certificate authority compelling. In addition, CloudFront is PCI compliant, and offers Web Application Firewall (WAF), and AWS Shield, a managed service that provides protection against DDoS attacks for web applications running on AWS.

Implementing security measures to applications is specifically relevant with the growing popularity of mobile banking, and cryptocurrency platforms in Africa, as well as the need to stay informed and have access to local news services ‘on the go’. Companies using CloudFront with AWS Shield and WAF can benefit from a mature portfolio of security features and benefits. AWS Shield is integrated into AWS, so once an attack occurs, it can be mitigated at the point of ingress into the AWS network. In addition, AWS Shield offers Always-On detection and mitigation, so that as soon as an attack is identified, it is mitigated. WAF allows customers to create own rules or use Managed rules created by security experts or AWS Marketplace Sellers, to filter inbound traffic to a web application. With WAF, customers can block traffic based on parameters such as IP addresses, or known attack patterns, as well as block malicious requests from accessing the application.

Developers also benefit from tight integration between CloudFront and other AWS services. The solution is simple to use with Amazon Route53, to help speed up DNS resolution of applications delivered by CloudFront, and with Amazon S3 for storage and retrieval of data for their applications. Amazon EC2 or even servers in on-premises data centers can be used as origin servers for content for CloudFront. This gives developers a powerful combination of durable storage and high performance delivery.

For users uploading content to the cloud via S3, which is common in archival and big data strategies of large Enterprises, can now benefit from Accelerated Upload via CloudFront. The content is uploaded locally at high speed and low cost at the edge within South Africa and then carried to S3 on the Amazon backbone network, at no further cost.

With CloudFront and Route 53 now available in South Africa, existing and new customers will be able to take advantage of the features and benefits of AWS infrastructure in South Africa.

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Here is 2019’s tech

From AI to flexible displays, this is the tech that will shape 2019, writes CY KIM, MD of LG SA

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2018 was incredibly exciting for the technology sector which has seen myriad advancements. These include the fundamentals of artificial intelligence (AI) being established, robots helping around the house and consumer electronic innovations such as TVs that are so thin, they might be mistaken for windows, or paintings.

2019 promises to be another significant year as people’s attitudes are changing and technology becomes embedded in our lives. Smart electronics manufacturers will ensure their plans for the future match evolving consumer needs with suitable technology.

We take a look at the biggest innovations for 2019 from AI to lightning-fast internet speeds and flexible viewing surfaces, and we shed some light on how these evolving technologies will impact on how we live and work.

AI will come of age

AI has experienced a marked increase in investments and according to Forbes, 80% of enterprises are investing in AI while 30% are planning to expand their AI investments in the next three years. It’s estimated that during 2017, venture, corporate and seed investors put about $3.6-billion into AI and machine learning companies.

This investment trend has given rise to innovation in deep learning products that have the potential to change the world for the better.

Yes, AI has been around since the 1950s, but its consumer benefits weren’t visible until recently and 2019 will be the year when AI starts to really take off and become a necessity, not just in the home, but in every facet of our lives.

The potential of AI is endless as this technology goes into everything from small watches to cars and even gigantic, connected smart cities. AI is also starting to find its way into TVs, washing machines, refrigerators, speakers, mobile phones and even air cons as products adapt to human behaviour.

Lightning-fast internet speeds

Faster internet speeds enable quicker response times for business tools that we all rely on to get the job done. It will increase the efficiency of workers and will provide reliable communication tools for companies that rely on remote workers.

Given that the so-called gig economy has grown exponentially in recent years, the expectation is that the evolving workforce will contain a higher percentage of employees, or contractors who do not work in a central office.

5G has the potential to change the world the way the internet did a few decades ago. The fifth generation of wireless technology will take internet connectivity to a new level as the internet of things (IoT), will bring about the potential for everything to be connected to everything.

However, 5G is not just about faster internet speeds. It will create new possibilities in numerous sectors, including medicine, transportation and manufacturing.

A smarter world through IoT and AI isn’t possible without 5G’s speed and capacity as the system is able to carry large numbers of connections simultaneously, and is therefore crucial to the development of smart cities, autonomous cars and smart homes.

Life-enriching smart technology

Much like technological innovations, consumer habits and preferences are changing drastically when it comes to home appliances and particularly, home entertainment.

Most consumers believe that advancements in home entertainment tech is life-enriching and that their life is better with the latest tech at their fingertips as it allows them to stay indoors and enjoy quality time with friends and family.

The value of home entertainment tech lies in how it allows loved ones to share experiences, thereby bringing them closer together, particularly during big events such as major sporting events and holiday celebrations.

The potential of flexible viewing surfaces will not only change home entertainment, but also marketing techniques in shopping malls, city centres and shop fronts. With the ability to curve around any environment, this technology creates the perfect platform for signage and consumer engagement that stands out from the crowd.

LG Electronics is an established market leader in innovation and has already started to incorporate these futuristic technologies into its products, which are designed to make consumers lives more convenient. We will continue to release amazing products that utilise smart tech to connect with consumers while staying ahead of the evolutionary curve.

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AI will power IoT

A simple gesture. A world built from accessible assets that drive human convenience and interaction. This is the future that’s powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), two of the planet’s hottest topic trends right now for a very good reason. They work, says PHATHIZWE MALINGA, managing director of SqwidNet.

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They are also the fuel driving digital transformation in 2019. These are the technologies revolutionising performance, process and productivity. They are also transforming industry challenges across agriculture, retail, health and the public sector and are set to continue on this path well into 2019.

IoT has become the central nervous system of technology, allowing users to make intelligent decisions without feeling overwhelmed by choice or technology. Its ability to make life easier on every level – business, consumer, public sector – is the next step of the IoT evolution as it improves quality of life using AI and machine learning to analyse past behaviour and the insights it gleans to change the future.

This is the vision of the perfect IoT and AI future. The two technologies so intertwined and connected that they are influencing one another’s growth, development and adoption. IoT provides the ability to generate data from the changing circumstances of an asset and the infrastructure required to transport that data to where it can be accessed and analysed. Considering the sheer volume of data generated, it is impossible for a human being to analyse it at the speed required for real-time decision making. And this is why AI has become so important.

Today, it is possible to write code that can read the data generated by IoT and identify meaningful patterns at the right speed. This code can also be written in such a way that it can learn from the results it found the last time it ran. It is code that can learn, an algorithm that can self-educate. In this way, AI requires the power of IoT to generate the data it needs to learn and IoT needs AI to ensure that this data can be made meaningful, in time.

Over the next six to 12 months, it is very likely that the potential of IoT will see numerous small players emerge across all industries. They will be focused on servicing those who have yet to experience the full benefits of IoT and they will use technology to deliver solutions that are just ‘good enough’. This could potentially see the more established players being disrupted but most will likely be using the same technology to innovate and to create solutions that don’t just meet customer expectations but transcend them.  Of course, there will be some companies that will remain complacent and they will be the ones battling for customer attention out on the IoT playing field with the small, fresh players.

While on the topic of the customer, the next year is likely to introduce a lot more variety and scalability. The consistent drop in the cost of technology will allow for more choice in solution and capability and this will have a knock-on effect with regards to quality of life and the choices customers make when it comes to solution and service provider.

On the business frontier, the growth of IoT and AI offer an interesting bouquet of choices and opportunities. They allow for investment into solutions that generate better insights that, in turn, generate better products and services. Organisations that ignore this potential or think they can sidle on past what IoT and AI bring to the business are likely to be the ones that are left behind. It’s a cliché for a reason. A single look back at the companies that have emerged as big players in industries previously perceived as impenetrable proves the point. Innovation isn’t optional, it’s an essential part of business DNA and both IoT and AI are critical parts of the ability to innovate at speed, with relevance, and on time.

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