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Companies want to run applications in the cloud

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New research from F5 Networks shows most companies are already using a hybrid cloud infrastructure, and are about to use it more operationally.|New research from F5 Networks shows most companies are already using a hybrid cloud infrastructure, and are about to use it more operationally.

More than a fifth of companies surveyed plan on running their applications in a public or private cloud environment – and 80 percent already use a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

These findings from F5 Networks’ State of the Application report were revealed this week at the company’s annual EMEA Agility conference in Barcelona.

The report warned that, with this move to leverage multi-cloud environments, unexpected hurdles often present themselves. Application deployments across multiple cloud platforms create challenges in managing application services; inconsistent security policies create compliance risks; and multiple cloud architectures put more pressure on IT departments, and diminish the return on the cloud’s value.

“Customers are increasingly choosing to deploy applications in multiple clouds — public and private, in colocation facilities, and in their own data centers — but are struggling with the management of different development environments, tool sets, and orchestration technologies,” said Sangeeta Anand, SVP of Product Management and Product Marketing at F5.

“Where these clouds provide services for applications, they often do so in ways that are not portable enough, are use-case specific, or provide inadequate protection. F5’s portfolio of multi-cloud application services and solutions gives customers the freedom to deploy any application—anywhere—with consistent application services and enterprise-grade security.”

He reminded that audience that, in November, F5 shared its vision to power intelligent application services in the cloud with the stability, security, and performance customers expect. Today, the said, the company is building on that foundation with the broad availability of solutions for multi-platform, multi-cloud services that make applications go faster, smarter, and safer.

The following products  were announced at the event, as supplied by F5:

  • F5 BIG-IP Virtual Edition in the Google Cloud means that organizations can now deploy F5 services in all major public clouds. F5 gives customers greater choices of cloud platforms, with new ‘bring your own license’ offers for instances ranging from 25 Mbps to 5 Gbps. Available now from Google Cloud Launcher in Good, Better, and Best versions.
  • Cloud solution templates for Amazon Web Services, Azure, and Google reduce the complexity of deploying F5 services for applications in the public cloud. These new solution-specific templates simplify and automate common public cloud use cases. Cloud solution templates are also available for OpenStack private cloud environments. Available now on GitHub.
  • Integrated marketplace solutions provide easily accessible, pre-packaged F5 services such as WAF and Office 365 federated access that are deployable directly from public cloud marketplaces, meaning companies can leverage their trusted F5 services easily for applications in the cloud. Available now in the Azure Marketplace.
  • A private cloud solution package gets customers up and running quickly with pre-tested, certified, and bundled F5 solutions that simplify and automate OpenStack private cloud deployments. Available now through F5 sales.
  • Lightweight Application Services Proxy gives customers flexibility in developing, testing, and scaling applications in container environments. Available now at Docker Store.
  • Container Connector provides the easy deployment of app services in containerized environments, and simple integration of capabilities into management/orchestration systems including Kubernetes and Mesos/Marathon. Available now at GitHub and Docker Hub.
  • Application Connector delivers application services insertion from the edge of the public cloud by automatically discovering cloud-hosted workloads in AWS, and securely connecting any cloud provider to the customer’s interconnection or data center. Available now through F5 sales.

“Business executives are beginning to rely heavily on cloud solutions in support of their digital transformation efforts, but in many cases, single cloud deployments are insufficient to enable true business agility,” said Zeus Kerravala, Principal Analyst at ZK Research. “Unfortunately, multi-cloud frameworks are complex and IT must take the steps needed to mitigate the challenges of operating in these mixed worlds. With F5’s multi-cloud portfolio of products, IT can deliver consistent and secure application services in any environment needed for business velocity.”

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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