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Collaboration will drive the digital future

By JIM HOLLAND, country head of Lenovo DCG South Africa

Hyper-connectivity, information overload, electric cars and technology reshaping healthcare may sound like topics you’d read about over your tea and toast tomorrow morning. But they were, in fact, the most pertinent points of an article predicting life in 2020 published 11 years ago by British newspaper The Independent.

And the paper wasn’t alone in such Nostradamus-esque predictions. Back in 1994, BT’s futurology unit’s predictions of life in 2020 included the rise of cybercrime, digital money,  and 1TB memory chips – which Samsung just launched for mobile phones.

As 2020 looms, we’re now accustomed to these exciting technologies in our daily lives, but in truth, they’re emerging at such a pace that we struggle to maximise their potential. For example, data is exploding to exponential levels largely caused by the rise of the Internet of Things. This offers great potential yet technology and information remain siloed, preventing businesses from using their ever-increasing mass of data to its fullest effect. This digital gap, between the technology we have and our ability to use it to its fullest, restricts our ability to connect the unconnected.

For instance, the increasingly valuable industry of health trackers and wearables is doing wonders for our personal health monitoring. But the wealth of data it creates could be put to use for the greater good if technology vendors and regulators collaborated to create open standards that enable information to be shared with doctors and medical researchers.

Therefore, while adopting new technology remains vital to staying ahead of the competition, businesses must also ensure they gain maximum value from the tools they have at their fingertips. To do that, they need to embrace intelligent transformation, which will fundamentally change the nature of business and customer relationships and reinvent business processes. Every revolution has its leaders, visionaries and innovators, and intelligent transformation is no different.

This digital revolution will be reliant on establishing an open ecosystem that enables us to bridge digital gaps and empower local communities. This is an industry-wide concern that can only be solved by vendors and partners collaborating to provide a series of open standards. By building alliances, partnering with other providers and working together they can ensure end users are able to start using technology to its fullest.

Partnering for success

The benefits of open source partnerships have been proven by the Apache Hadoop ecosystem, which has fundamentally changed the way that enterprises store, process and analyse data. Applying a similar theory of open standards to the latest emerging technologies will help people and businesses alike get the most out of their devices, systems and networks.

This vision is part of the inspiration behind Lenovo’s launch of Lenovo TruScale, a new consumption-based, subscription model for IT hardware. The solution will help organisations change the way they do business and how they think about IT, and foster stronger relationships between partners and customers. This is the first step to moving businesses away from how they’ve traditional worked towards a more open ‘as a service’ approach to technology.

Technology partnerships will be crucial to solving issues that threaten business performance. Our partnership with Scale Computing has seen us launch an edge computing solution that simplifies enterprises’ management of their IT infrastructure. This has, for example, solved Dutch retailer Ahold Delhaize’s concerns over its future IT demands by replacing its complex traditional infrastructure with a ‘datacenter in a box’ solution. This reduced the time it spends deploying and managing its infrastructure, eliminated downtime, and enhanced the performance of its traditional and IoT applications.

Similarly, we’re working with Pivot 3 to enable the next generation of edge computing and, in particular, enable mission-critical smart city security. Smart city market growth is reliant on solutions that use an array of sensors and databases combined with facial and license plate recognition, behavioural analysis and more. Our partnership helps cities optimise these solutions through machine learning and advanced edge device management – which ensures they better protect their citizens.

Alliances between vendors can also result in solutions that tackle humanity’s greatest challenges. For example, our work with hyperconverged leader Nutanix has helped Tengzhou Maternal and Child Health Hospital implement an IT infrastructure that significantly improved the performance, availability and reliability of its most critical existing applications. It also provided staff with around-the-clock access to data, which means they can deliver the best possible care services 24/7.

These examples show how technology partnerships can be crucial in helping businesses gain the full potential, value and performance from their existing systems and workloads. The onus is now on vendors and their partners to create an open ecosystem that will help us solve issues such as the need for connectivity, understanding and solving data overload, powering the next generation of transport, and advanced healthcare technology that improves our understanding of diseases.

They say many hands make light work. Let’s work together to make light work of utilising our technology to its fullest.


Time is running out for Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Companies are urged to update from the dated database management software as it reaches the end of its support, writes BRYAN TURNER.

The 11-year-old Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database management software is reaching the end of its support on 9 July. The applications that use databases running on this software will be at risk of security and stability issues.

On self-managed databases, upgrading to the latest database version comes with a lot of risks. Many IT departments within companies go by the motto: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.

Microsoft made it very clear that it would not be updating SQL Server 2005 after its extended support date and even left it vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown by not releasing patches for the dated version.

Updating SQL Server versions may seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes for a migration. In the last major version update, SQL Server 2016 introduced simpler backup functionality, database stretching, and always-encrypted communications with the database, to name just three features.

While backing up the database may be the last thing on the typical database administrator’s mind, it’s become increasingly important to do so. In SQL Server 2008, it’s clunky and causes headaches for many admins. However, in SQL Server 2016, one can easily set up an automated backup to Azure storage and let it run on smart backup intervals. Backing up offsite also reduces the need for disaster recovery for onsite damage.

Database stretching allows admins to push less frequently accessed data to an Azure database, automatically decided by SQL Server 2016. This reduces the admin of manually looking through what must be kept and what must be shipped off or deleted. It also reduces the size of the database, which also increases the performance of the applications that access it. The best part of this functionality is it automatically retrieves the less accessed records from Azure when users request it, without the need for manual intervention.

Always-encrypted communications are becoming more and more relevant to many companies, especially those operating in European regions after the introduction of GDPR. Encryption keys were previously managed by the admin, but now encryption is always handled by the client. Furthermore, the keys to encrypt and decrypt data are stored outside of SQL Server altogether. This means data stored in the database is always encrypted, and no longer for the eyes of a curious database manager. 

The built-in reporting tools have also vastly improved with the addition of new reporting metrics and a modern look. It includes support for Excel reports for keeping documentation and Power BI for automated, drag-and-drop personalised reporting. Best of all, it removes the dreaded Active X controls, which made the reporting in a webpage feel very clumsy and bloated in previous versions.

A lot has changed in the past ten years in the world of SQL Server database management, and it’s not worth running into problems before Microsoft ends support for SQL Server 2005.

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Local apps to feature in Huawei’s App Gallery

Huawei’s mobile app store, the HUAWEI AppGallery, will soon feature a multitude of apps and designs by local developers. The company says this is part of its drive to promote South African digital talent and include more useful apps for Huawei smartphone users. HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes are pre-installed on all the latest Huawei and Honor devices.

“South African consumers are increasingly wanting more apps that are relevant to their unique circumstances, addressing issues they experience regularly – such as load shedding or safety concerns – but also apps that celebrate South Africa’s multitude of cultures and this vibrant country,” says Lu Geng, director of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Region.

Akhram Mohamed, chief technology officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa, says: “Huawei is committed to catering to the needs of South African consumers, but we also know that we do not have all the answers. For this reason, we aim to work closely with South African developers so that we can give our users everything that they need and want from their devices. At the same time, we also hope to create an open ecosystem for local developers by offering a simple and secure environment for them to upload content.”

Huawei Mobile Services was launched in South Africa in June last year. Since then, both the HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes – which features tens of thousands of themes, fonts and wallpapers that personalise user’s handset – have become increasingly popular with the local market. Even though it is a relatively new division of Huawei, there has been a great increase in growth; at the end of 2018 Huawei Mobile Services had 500 million users globally, representing a 117% increase on the previous year.

Explaining what differentiates the HUAWEI AppGallery from other app stores, Mosa Matshediso Hlobelo, business developer for Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa says: “We use the name ‘HUAWEI AppGallery’ because we have a dedicated team that curates all the apps in terms of relevance and ease of use and to ensure that there are no technical issues. Importantly, all apps are also security-checked for malware and privacy leaks before being uploaded on to the HUAWEI AppGallery.”

Huawei recently held a Developers’ Day where Huawei executives met with South African developers to discuss Huawei’s offering. 48 developers registered their apps on the day, and Huawei is currently in discussions with them with the eventual aim of featuring the best apps and designs on HUAWEI AppGallery or HUAWEI Themes. The Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Team at Huawei plans on making Developers’ Day a quarterly event and establishing a local providers’ hub, where developers can regularly meet with Huawei for training on updates to programmes and offerings.

“We have a very hands-on approach with our developers, and hope to expand that community so we can become an additional distribution channel for more developers and expose them to both a local and a global audience,” says Geng. “For example, we regularly feature apps and designs from local developers on our Huawei social media pages, and do competitions and promotions. We want to do everything we can to make our Huawei users aware of these local apps and upload them. This will encourage the growth of the developer community in South Africa by giving developers more opportunities to generate revenue from in-app purchases.”

* Developers who would like their apps featured on the HUAWEI App Gallery, or designs featured on HUAWEI Themes, should visit or email Huawei Mobile Services on

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