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Clouds not all the same

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The ability to centrally store, share and access data is fast becoming essential for businesses of all sizes in an increasingly mobile and connected world. However security is still a concern for many businesses, writes ANAMIKA BUDREE.

Large enterprise handles this challenge by implementing their own private cloud in their own data centre, but such a large capital investment is not economically viable for the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME). The personal cloud has thus become a popular solution for the SME market, offering the right combination of access, control, ownership and security. For the reseller too, the personal cloud offers a host of opportunities to add value for customers and expand into the services arena in order to remain relevant in an increasingly challenging marketplace.

Agility and flexibility are increasingly essential to businesses of all sizes, however SMEs embracing this trend are faced with the challenge of accessing, updating and saving files whilst on the road or off-site. The public cloud is one option to help them achieve this goal, whereby a service provider offers cloud storage in a virtualised environment accessed over a public network such as the Internet. Public cloud solutions are convenient and readily accessible, however they present several challenges that make them far from ideal in the business context.

One of the major concerns is security, and this fear has been driven by an increasing number of attacks on public cloud providers. In addition, public cloud providers may store a company’s sensitive information in data centres in countries all over the world, and the user has no idea where their information is stored. This not only adds to the existing security concerns, but may also result in non-compliance with increasingly onerous legislation around the governance and storage of digital information. As a result, the personal cloud has become increasingly popular in both the home user and SME space. The fourth annual Cisco Global Cloud Index recently highlighted this fact, forecasting that by 2018, a total of 53% of residential Internet users will be using personal cloud storage services. The personal cloud offers the benefits of cloud storage, including centralised capacity, anywhere access and the ability to save and share content on the go, with the benefits of control, ownership and enhanced security.

Personal cloud solutions for the SME consist of a Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution with software and applications that deliver the ability to access the content remotely using an Internet connection. This access can be enabled on a variety of devices, including PCs and notebooks as well as tablets and smartphones. The physical storage device remains the property of the business, secure on their premises and in their possession, and dedicated to storing only the digital content of that company. Only that company’s authorised users having access to this content.

Personal cloud-enabled NAS enclosures enable SMEs to leverage the benefits of RAID functionality. RAID can be used to duplicate data for added redundancy and availability, or create faster access, depending on the level used. Furthermore, SMEs using the personal cloud are not subject to monthly or annual fees for capacity as is typically the case with the public cloud. As more content is generated and extra storage capacity is required, additional hard drives or larger capacity hard drives can be easily added. Should a drive fail, it can also be swapped out quickly and easily, and with RAID 1 in place will ensure zero disruption to business as usual. Personal cloud storage can also be used as a server backup appliance as well, to ensure data is always available and recoverable.

Personal cloud technology also offers an opportunity for resellers to grow their business in an increasingly challenging market. The cloud is often seen as a threat to the channel, but personal cloud solutions for SMEs offer the ability for resellers to not only offer a product, but managed services on top of this. The SME market is large and highly lucrative, and smaller businesses tend to rely on their resellers for advice and support. This presents an excellent opportunity for resellers to ensure their SME customers have data backups in place using the right technology, to prevent downtime and the consequences of data loss. Resellers can also offer managed services on personal cloud-enabled NAS enclosures, as SMEs may not have the skills or resources to manage their backups effectively.

When it comes to storage for the SME, the personal cloud offers the best of all worlds, with access, control and security that delivers the agility and flexibility they need to be more productive and more competitive. Resellers are well positioned to leverage this opportunity to grow their business and add value for their customers by offering a complete SME storage and backup solution.

* Anamika Budree, Sales Manager, Branded Products at WD South Africa.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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