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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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New iPhone pricing for SA

The iStore has announced that the latest iPhones, the Xs and Xs Max, can now be pre-ordered at www.myistore.co.za , and will be available in stores starting 28 September 2018.

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iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max feature 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch Super Retina displays that offer remarkable brightness and true blacks while showing 60 percent greater dynamic range in HDR photos. iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max have an improved dual camera system that offers breakthrough photo and video features, A12 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine, faster Face ID, wider stereo sound, longer battery life, splash and water resistance,

Pre-orders will be open for cash purchases and on iStore’s revised payment plan in partnership with FNB Credit Card, allowing customers to pay off their iPhone at a reduced interest rate. However, the contract period is 37 months rather than the usual 24 months.
*FNB Credit Card Payment Plan, price per month over 37 months, a 40% trade-in value after 24 months

How to pre-order – Pre-ordering online for either cash or the FNB payment plan gives customers the benefit of reserving their purchase without having to queue and the added convenience of having purchases delivered directly to their door. Pre-orders of iPhone Xs and Xs Max are completed online by visiting www.myistore.co.za.
FREE iCare Plus – Exclusive to iStore, all customers can get its 2-year extended warranty, which includes one Apple Certified screen repair, that normally sells for R1 999, for FREE. To qualify, customers should secure a voucher online now at www.myistore.co.za , and subsequently redeem it when they upgrade their contract or purchase any new iPhone at iStore (iPhone 8 and newer) between now and 31 December 2018. Offer is limited, secure your voucher now.

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Accenture opens Fjord design centre in Johannesburg

Accenture has launched its first design and innovation studio on African soil, Fjord Johannesburg.

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The company says the move significantly expands its design capabilities and demonstrates its commitment to unlocking Africa’s innovation potential through the creation of experiences that redefine industries in our constantly evolving digital era.

The new studio, opening in November, will be located at Accenture’s new 3875m² offices in Waterfall. It will be led by Marcel Rossouw, design director and studio lead for Fjord Johannesburg.

Said Rossouw, “Brands are constantly asking, ’how does one take a business need or problem, build that out into a definition of a service experience, and then bring it to market?’ It’s about re-engineering existing service experiences, identifying customer needs, prototyping rapidly, iterating often and proving or disproving assumptions. But it’s also about getting feedback from customers. The combination of these factors helps companies advance towards the ultimate service experience.”

Fjord is the design and innovation consultancy of Accenture Interactive. The Johannesburg location marks its 28th design studio globally, solidifying its position as the world’s leading design powerhouse.

Working in the same location as Accenture Interactive will allow Fjord to fuse its core design strategy DNA with the digital agency’s expertise in marketing, content and commerce to create and deliver the best customer experiences for the world’s leading brands. Accenture Interactive Africa‘s blend of intelligent design and creative use of technology has already been used by some of South Africa’s largest and most prominent brands, including Alexander Forbes, Discovery, MultiChoice and Nedbank. The digital agency has also earned industry accolades for its innovative and compelling business results, most notably two gold awards in the Service Design category at the 2017 and 2018 Loeries awards.

“Great design tells great stories,” says Wayne Hull, managing director of Accenture Digital and Accenture Interactive lead in Africa. “It unifies a brand, drives innovation and makes the brand or service distinctive and hyper-relevant in both the digital and physical worlds. This is critical to achieving results. Having Fjord Johannesburg as part of Accenture Interactive, and collaborating with all of Accenture Africa, will provide unique experiences and forward-thinking capabilities for our clients.”

“Businesses in South Africa are becoming more design-aware and are looking to take greater advantage of design skills to compete with the rest of the world,” said Thomas Müller, head of Europe, Africa and Latin America at Fjord. “We’re excited to open our first design studio on the continent and to be part of an emerging market that is ripe for design and innovation, and open for business. Developing markets like South Africa are challenging assumptions and norms about what digital services and products are meant to be, and we’ll strive to put design at the heart of the innovation being produced there.”

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