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Diversity is crucial to tech

By DOUG WOOLLEY, GM Dell EMC South Africa

Gender inequality has dogged the ITC world for a long time. According to research from McKinsey, less than 20% of roles in the sector are filled by women. Overall, the report found that women under-contribute to global GDP because they are more likely to be employed in low-productivity sectors instead of high-productivity ones such as business services. This needs to change.

Humans are social creatures. It’s hardwired in us to communicate, collaborate and lift each other to achieve. There isn’t a single example in history where someone accomplished anything great on their own. Behind every iconoclastic moment stands a group of people who were there to help, advise and create. Humans are stronger together – that’s how we’ve come so far.

For Dell Technologies this is not even a matter for debate. Its culture code includes winning together, selflessness and relationships. A long time ago the company affirmed not only that people are its most valuable assets, but that diversity is fundamental especially in today’s fast-evolving world. This is why it’s proud to sponsor the Women In Tech Africa summit, due to happen on 18 and 19 March in Cape Town.

Brian Reeves, our international chief diversity and inclusion officer, said it best: it’s in the DNA of the company. It’s not what we do, it’s who we are. That message has particular importance in South Africa, where we have a constitution that celebrates equality. Yes, this is a very unequal country, but that’s why we must take this responsibility even more seriously. Diversity is a competitive advantage, but in the case of South Africa it’s how we are defining the future.

Summits such as these are very important. We have to move past the perception that diversity and inclusion are only for window dressing. The fact is I can tell you all the time how serious Dell Technologies is about this, but only action grows real change. So we are very happy and keen to support this summit because it tackles a very crucial and multi-dimensional topic.

Our team is very focused on expanding Dell EMC SA’s diversity. Last year he sponsored the launch of the Black Network Alliance’s first non-US chapter, right here in South Africa, and initiated by Dell EMC’s Black Networking Alliance (BNA) EMEA Lead Angela Allen. The BNA is one of numerous Dell Technologies employee resource groups (ERGs). Spread across more than 60 countries and 300 chapters, these ERGs include groups for a variety of concerns, including empowering women.

Not only are there ERGs, but Dell Technologies audits and scrutinises its diversity projects with the same rigour and expectations as it would for other parts of the business, taking into account how it impacts the top line, bottom line, and innovation. Sponsoring the Women in Tech Africa summit is yet another confirmation of how seriously Dell EMC SA treats diversity as a business advantage. It’s a message resonated by partners such as VMWare, another sponsor for the summit.

Lorna Hardie, regional director at VMware sub-Saharan Africa, said: “As part of a global business where inclusion has moved from a discussion around the boardroom table to one we live and breathe every day, it is critical that we bring these actions, and not just teachings to all women in Africa. Supporting platforms such as the Women in Tech Africa summit, provides us with an opportunity to put the spotlight on diversity and inclusion, to share the collective experiences that as sister companies we share, and work on bringing a working inclusive model to the African workplace.”

The Women in Tech Africa summit will take place on 18 and 19 March in Cape Town, South Africa, at the Century City Conference Centre. Visit https://www.women-in-tech-africa-summit.com/ and use the code DELL20 for a 20% discount.

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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 https://developer.huawei.com or email Huawei Mobile Services on sacloud@huawei.com.

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