By Colin Thornton, MD of Turrito Networks
As IT and business strategy align, Cloud Architects will become integral to growth.
As South African businesses look to streamline operational costs and become more globally competitive, Cloud computing has become essential. And with the imminent launch of Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Service data centres in South Africa, local Cloud adoption will become even more attractive. According to the World Wide Worx Cloud Africa 2018 report, Cloud computing is rising sharply in the economic hubs of South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria – with 74% of the SA companies surveyed increasing their Cloud expenditure during 2017. The report noted that in the coming year, over 80% of SA companies would be looking to up their Cloud spend. While making the shift to the Cloud is a positive step, businesses have to ensure that the process is managed correctly – from the initial transition, right through to proactive, daily management.
For larger businesses, especially those relying on legacy software and/or hardware, moving fully to the Cloud, and ensuring sustainability, can be complex. Even businesses with modern software and hardware may find this new paradigm, so completely different from traditional approaches, difficult. This complexity requires a careful, skilled and managed approach – which is best handled by what the IT industry terms a ‘Cloud Architect.’ As the name implies, the Cloud Architect is responsible for designing the Cloud computing environment in an organisation, which encompasses the platforms, servers, storage, delivery and networks. In addition to the planning and designing, Cloud Architects also need to provide guidance throughout a development or deployment project and then manage the maintenance and support thereafter. Savvy Cloud Architects will take ownership of these systems and environments throughout their entire lifecycle – from the initial requirements analysis through to retirement.
Importantly, the Cloud Architect role is very different to more traditional IT roles, because it is not only technical in nature. There is a critical business and financial element required. Indeed, a skilled Cloud Architect will seek to understand what kinds of competitive advantages are required, the relevant functionalities that are needed, and the unique business requirements that the system architecture needs to deliver on. Moreover, the Cloud Architect will be responsible for sourcing and managing the right vendors such as Microsoft or Amazon; contracting suitable suppliers and deciding upon the right APIs and standards.
Aligning Business Needs
As Cloud computing becomes more ubiquitous and IT Departments more streamlined, the role may quickly evolve into a financial and strategic position. Given that the Cloud Architect will be handling budgets, forecasts, reports, etc, he or she could soon be sitting within the Finance Department – as opposed to a rapidly shrinking IT Department!
When exploring the appointment of a Cloud Architect, it’s important to consider that letting a more traditional (and technically oriented) IT professional handle Cloud strategy can backfire. This is simply because technical professionals prefer to have control of their systems. There’s often a subconscious bias away from ‘putting everything in the Cloud and letting someone else manage it’. However, while there is more flexibility when a business controls everything (e.g. with a private Cloud or an on-premise server) there are often inflated costs and added risk. Increasingly, businesses are recognising that there are major advantages to relinquishing elements of flexibility and outsourcing most of the traditional IT services. And with a skilled Cloud Architect managing the relationships, businesses can arguably enjoy the best of both worlds – enhancing efficiency while reducing both costs and risk.
Recruiting for Growth
Given that this kind of role is still so new, businesses will be hard pressed to find experienced candidates off the bat. Today, leaders should rather be looking for candidates who come from roles that are closely related – and then looking for experience in other key aspects. For example, a Network Architect who has reported into a Finance Department; or an MBA who has a strong technical background. First and foremost, a great Cloud Architect will be able to grasp the business requirements – and then develop systems from there. For instance, these requirements may relate to growing profits/revenue or decreasing costs, and a good Architect needs to figure out how the Cloud can help achieve these goals. Moreover, a savvy Cloud Architect will have strong administration skills as well as highly developed interpersonal skills – as he or she will be managing key vendor relationships.
As businesses expand into an environment in which the lines between IT, finance, and strategy are increasingly blurred, professionals such as the skilled Cloud Architect will become integral to growth, innovation and sustainability.
Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets
Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds
Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.
South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.
Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds.
The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact.
The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users.
These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant.
Other key findings in the report include:
- Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person.
- Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school.
- Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides.
- People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services.
- There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education.
- Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information.
These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report.
Nokia to be first with Android 10
Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.
Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range.
“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”
HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.