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F5 project helps business embrace automation

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F5 Networks has announced a project to help businesses and the wider IT industry more effectively embrace automation, unlock new levels of performance and address lingering IT skills gaps.

F5’s global Super-NetOps initiative is an industry first in EMEA. Its ongoing intention is to shake up the network operations (NetOps) community to facilitate stronger collaboration with developers (DevOps) and fuel a shift from manual task-based practices to achieve unprecedented levels of automation, continuous improvement and business return on investment. The goal of the programme is to develop skills necessary to standardise critical application services and provide automated toolchains.

“There is a gap when it comes to work practices and collaboration between NetOps and DevOps teams. We want to inspire a new workforce of Super-NetOps professionals that are able to proactively support enterprise needs for rapid, automated application development and delivery,” said Martin Walshaw, senior systems engineer at F5 Networks.

“Evolving threat landscapes and multi-cloud deployment environments are changing the game. Developers are increasingly demanding application services that deliver performance, scalability and security in a more automated way. The pressure is now on traditional IT teams to enable the orchestration and agility needed to succeed in a digital economy by embracing programmability. F5’s Super-NetOps initiative is all about meeting this challenge head-on.”

F5’s Super-NetOps initiative starts with a free, on-demand e-learning course already trialled with hundreds of F5 customers. The inaugural course covers DevOps methodologies, automation concepts, orchestration, and infrastructure-as-code. It has been specifically structured to break down operational silos and reduce time-to-service from days to minutes – all while ensuring applications meet necessary compliance, policy and performance standards.

In the coming months, F5 will roll out an expanded curriculum, including security-focused automated deployment methodologies for the burgeoning DevSecOps role. Other topics set to feature include application language frameworks and third-party automation toolchain enablement.

“Network operations are more important than ever. Decades of experience deploying, managing, maintaining and securing applications is invaluable. What’s now needed is a way to bridge the divide between traditional, manual IT practices and the rapid, automation-fuelled pace of application development and deployment,” added Walshaw.

“Developers, for the most part, want to access operations services on demand. As a result, network operations professionals urgently need to learn how to define and deliver the services their applications teams need in a service model. This leaves developers free to focus on developing the applications that drive revenue.”

F5’s Super-NetOps initiative comes as the region’s appetite for automation continues to grow.

According to F5’s 2018 State of Application Delivery report (SOAD), three in four (75%) of surveyed EMEA customers declare the use of automation in the operation of IT infrastructure to be “somewhat” or “very” important. The majority (72%) are using automation to realise leaner IT with the goal of reducing OpEx, while nearly half (48%) are looking to scale to meet demand. 6% said they use automation for all production deployments, 49% partially used automation and 28% are running pilot programmes.

Supporting quote

“Automation-focused DevOps is an integral part of modernising network infrastructure, and through a series of F5 integrations with Red Hat Ansible Automation, F5 users can more simply automate and orchestrate their networks. The Super-NetOps programme will help provide F5 customers with the tools they need to get started on their network automation journey.”

Justin Nemmers, General Manager, Ansible, Red Hat

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YouTube Music announces Smart Downloads, SA playlists

The service has introduced Smart Downloads which takes allowing users to store and play hundreds of tunes offline, automatically.

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The latest updates from YouTube Music, for subscribers of its Music Premium and Premium services, include a new feature that allows users to switch seamlessly between a song and its music video for an uninterrupted experience.

It has also introduced Smart Downloads which takes the work out of downloading music, allowing users to store and play hundreds of tunes offline, automatically. YouTube Music has also announced new playlists for South Africa. 

The updates all reflect features that are popular on the global leader in music streaming, Spotify, and that have been key to its growth.

YouTube said in a statement on Friday: “Imagine listening to a new track by your favourite artist in the YouTube Music app and having the ability to seamlessly switch over to watch the music video – no pauses, no interruptions, just a simple tap that keeps the music flowing. This standout new feature from YouTube Music allows YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium subscribers to make a seamless transition between a song and its music video for uninterrupted listening and/or watching. Whether you’re in the mood for listening or watching (or a little of both)… it’s all here – no app switching required.”

With Smart Downloads, YouTube Music automatically saves music at night, when connected to Wi-Fi, helping subscribers to use less mobile data, enjoy a smoother updating experience and save up to 500 songs offline using Liked Songs playlist as well as other playlists and albums. 


Previously, music lovers could use the Offline Mixtape feature to download up to 100 songs, specifically chosen for them based on what they listened to most on the platform. Now, with Smart Downloads, they select the number of songs they would like automatically downloaded by toggling their YouTube Music Settings. This means YouTube Music Premium subscribers with Smart Downloads enabled on their mobile devices can now access hundreds of tracks regardless of connectivity. 

This feature is currently available on Android, with plans to bring it to iOS in the future.

Click here to read more about YouTube Music playlists, and find out what is inside them.

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Make cars, not waste

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Jaguar Land Rover is trialling an innovative recycling process which converts plastic waste into a new premium grade material that could feature on future vehicles. 

It’s estimated that the amount of waste plastic is predicted to exceed 12 million tonnes globally by 2050*. Today, not all of this plastic can be recycled for use in automotive applications – especially in vehicle parts that are required to meet the most exacting safety and quality standards.

Working in conjunction with chemical company, BASF, Jaguar Land Rover is part of a pilot project called ChemCycling that upcycles domestic waste plastic, otherwise destined for landfill or incinerators, into a new high-quality material. 

The waste plastic is transformed to pyrolysis oil using a thermochemical process. This secondary raw material is then fed into BASF’s production chain as a replacement for fossil resources; ultimately producing a new premium grade that replicates the high quality and performance of ‘virgin’ plastics. Importantly, it can be tempered and coloured making it the ideal sustainable solution for designing the next-generation dashboards and exterior-surfaces in Jaguar and Land Rover models.

Jaguar Land Rover and BASF are currently testing the pilot phase material in a Jaguar I-PACE prototype front-end carrier overmoulding to verify it meets the same stringent safety requirements of the existing original part.

Pending the outcome of the trials and progression in taking chemical recycling to market readiness, adoption of the new premium material would mean Jaguar Land Rover could use domestically derived recycled plastic content throughout its cars without any compromise to quality or safety performance**. 

Chris Brown, Senior Sustainability Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Plastics are vital to car manufacturing and have proven benefits during their use phase, however, plastic waste remains a major global challenge. Solving this issue requires innovation and joined-up thinking between regulators, manufacturers and suppliers.

“At Jaguar Land Rover, we are proactively increasing recycled content in our products, removing single-use plastics across our operations and reducing excess waste across the product lifecycle. The collaboration with BASF is just one way in which we are advancing our commitment to operating in a circular economy.”

This is the latest example of Jaguar Land Rover’s commitment to addressing the challenge of waste plastic. The company has collaborated with Kvadrat to offer customers alternative seat options that are both luxurious and sustainable. The high-quality material, available initially on the Range Rover Velar and Range Rover Evoque, combines a durable wool blend with a technical suedecloth that is made from 53 recycled plastic bottles per vehicle. 

Jaguar Land Rover has already met its 2020 target for Zero Waste to Landfill for UK operations. This includes the removal of 1.3 million m2 – equal to 187 football pitches – of plastic from its manufacturing lineside and replacing 14 million single use plastic items in business operations. 

Together, these efforts are driving towards Jaguar Land Rover’s vision for Destination Zero; an ambition to make societies safer and healthier, and the environment cleaner. Delivered through relentless innovation to adapt its products and services to the rapidly-changing world, the company’s focus is on achieving a future of zero emissions, zero accidents and zero congestion.

Editor’s notes:

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782.full

** All Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles tested have achieved a Euro NCAP 5* rating.

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