Many large companies have built up a vast IT systems over the years and are now threatened to drown if they do not evolve and step into the cloud, writes COLLIN GOVENDER, VP Systems Integration at T-Systems South Africa.
Many large organisations are constrained with vast and complex IT systems, steadily built up over the years, that now threaten to drown the company as it desperately tries to compete with more agile disruptors.
Technology was supposed to make our lives, and our businesses, simpler. But it seems that over the past couple of decades, exactly the opposite has happened.
Gartner’s research indicates that of the trillions of dollars spent annually on enterprise IT around the world, a staggering 80% is spent on system maintenance.
It says IT backlogs are compounding annually at 10-20% – meaning that more and more of your organisation’s IT budget is devoted to simply maintaining legacy systems.
Complex IT landscapes are proving to be increasingly unstable and inflexible in the modern digital economy. The common tension in many large organisations is that business is demanding rapid transformation, while IT is expected to respond – with just 20% of resources that are left over after the ‘keeping the lights on’ tasks are completed.
Fortunately, there is a silver lining to all of this. Fittingly, this glimmering chink of light is to be found in the Cloud.
Cloud services promise to dramatically simplify the world of enterprise technology. By handing over large chunks of the ‘run the business’ (aka Mode 1) systems to managed Cloud providers, the theory is that your organisation can devote increasing resources to Mode 2 – innovating, exploring and transforming your users’ digital experiences.
But to truly leverage the power of Cloud Computing, we need to go beyond simply migrating legacy systems to hosted Cloud environments. In order to truly disrupt your business, you need to capitalise on those new opportunities presented by Mobility, the Internet of Things, and Big Data.
Our love-affair with mobile technology is certainly not waning. The Cloud becomes pivotal in extending enterprise services to customers via easy-to-use mobile apps. In the same vein, staff need to be given a set of digital tools that enable teams to collaborate easily and work flexibly and remotely – increasing productivity.
Internet of Things
Embedded sensors and actuators are starting to appear in everything from forklifts on production plants, to the T-Shirts in our wardrobes. Every business sector is finding new ways to magically transform simple objects into ‘smart devices’. With data being continually streamed from these devices, the Cloud is the only way of collecting and analysing these data streams.
As we make the transition to digital business, detailed insights from our customers and users can be captured and fed into advanced modelling tools in the Cloud. Business leaders are empowered with rich insights into the organisation’s operations, and into its customers’ experiences.
While it all sounds great on paper, taking advantage of Cloud Computing is certainly not simple.
CIOs have to navigate through a maze of challenges – not just in the technology itself, but also in shifting the culture, raising the ‘digital quotient’ of staff, and completely rethinking everything including policies around IT security, compliance and governance.
Taking the leap of faith into the Cloud requires deep consultation with an experienced IT partner, beginning with a series of assessments. From there, you can start plotting your Cloud roadmap to migrate existing services and design new ones.
Look for an IT partner that has a strong-track record with Cloud-based digital transformations, deep knowledge about your business sector, as well as a commitment to cost-transparency.
And, perhaps most importantly, your partner needs to be driven by the desire to deliver true business value and transformation. It’s only by demonstrating the results of your Cloud journey that you’ll be able to justify continued investments in the Cloud.
Ideally, the business value becomes starkly obvious to your organisation’s leadership – creating a virtuous effect where Cloud migration efforts are intensified and transformation picks up increasing momentum.
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.
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.
Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.
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.