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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

Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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Sports streaming takes off

Live streaming of sports is coming of age as a mainstream method of viewing big games, as the latest FIFA World Cup figures from the UK show. Africa isn’t yet at the same level when it comes to the adoption of sports streaming, but usage is clearly moving in the right direction.

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England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden was watched by just under 20 million viewers in the UK via BBC One. While this traditional broadcast audience was huge, it was streaming that broke records: the game was the BBC’s most popular online-viewed live programme ever, with 3.8 million views. In Africa, the absolute numbers are lower but the trend towards streaming major sports events on the continent is also well under way.

According to DStv, live streaming of sports dominates the usage figures for its live and recorded TV streaming app, DStv Now. The number of people using the app in June was five times higher than a year ago, with concurrent views peaking during major football and rugby games.

Since the start of the World Cup, average weekday usage of DStv Now is up 60%. The absolute peak in concurrent usage for one event was reached on 26 June, during the Nigeria vs Argentina game. The app’s biggest ever test was on 16 June with both Springbok Rugby and World Cup Football under way at the same time, resulting in concurrent in-app views seven times higher than the peaks seen in June last year.

The World Cup has also been a major reason for new users to download and try out the app. First-time app user volumes have tripled on Android and doubled on iOS since the start of the tournament.

“While we expected live sports streaming to take off, it’s also been pleasing to see that the app is really popular for watching shows on Catch Up,” says MultiChoice South Africa Chief Operating Officer Mark Rayner. “Interestingly, some of the most popular Catch Up shows are local, with Isibaya, Binnelanders, The Queen and The River all getting a significant number of views.”

With respect to app usage, the web and Android apps are the most popular way to watch DStv Now, with Android outpacing iOS by a factor of 2:1.

“We’re continuing to develop DStv Now, with 4k streaming in testing and smart TV and Apple TV apps on their way shortly,” says Rayner. “The other key priority for us is working with the telcos to deliver mobile data propositions that make watching online painless and worry-free for our customers.”

The DStv Now app is free to all 10 million DStv customers in Africa. The app streams DStv live channels as well as supplying an extended Catch Up library. Two separate streams can be watched on different devices simultaneously, and content can also be downloaded to smartphones and tablets. The content available on the app varies according to the DStv package subscribed to.

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