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.
Kenya tool to help companies prepare for emergencies
After its team members survived last week’s Nairobi terror attack, Ushahidi decided to release a new preparedness tool for free, writes its CEO, NAT MANNING
On Tuesday I woke up a bit before 7am in Berkeley, California where I live. I made some coffee and went over to my computer to start my work day. I checked my Slack and the news and quickly found out that there was an ongoing terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ushahidi office is in Nairobi and about a third of our team is based there (the rest of us are spread across 10 other countries).
As I read the news, my heart plummeted, and I immediately asked the question, “is everyone on my team okay?”
Five years ago Al-Shabaab committed a similar attack at the Westgate Mall. We spent several tense hours figuring out if any of our team had been in the mall, and verifying that everyone was safe. We found out that one of our team member’s family was caught up in the attack. Luckily they made it out.
At Ushahidi we make software for crisis response, including tools to map disasters and election violence, and yet we felt helpless in the face of this attack. In the days following the Westgate attack, our team huddled and thought about what we could build that would help our team — and other teams — if we found ourselves in a similar situation to this attack again. We identified that when we first learned of the attack, nearly everyone at Ushahidi had spent that first precious few hours trying to answer the basic questions, “Is everyone okay?”, and if not, “Who needs help?”
People had ad-hoc used multiple channels such as WhatsApp, called, emailed, or texted. We had done this for each person at Ushahidi (their job), in our families, and important people in our community. Our process was unorganised, inefficient, repetitive, and frustrating.
And from this problem we created TenFour, a check in tool that makes it easier for teams to reach one another during times of crisis. It is a simple application that lets people send a message to their team via SMS, Slack, Voice, email, and in-app, and get a response. It also works for educational institutions, companies with distributed staff, as well as part of neighbourhood networks like neighbourhood watches.
This week when I woke up to the news of the attack at Riverside, I immediately opened up the TenFour app.
Click here to read how Nat quickly confirmed the safety of his team.
Kia multi-collision airbags
The world’s first multi-collision airbag system has been unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary KIA Motors, with the aim of improving airbag performance in multi-collision accidents.
Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as other vehicles, trees, or electrical posts, which occur in three out of every 10 accidents. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy.
However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact, by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.
The new technology detects occupants’ positions in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.
“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Chassis Technology Centre. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”
According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in USA, about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%).
These multi-collision scenarios were analysed in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. Once commercialised, the system will be implemented in future new KIA vehicles.