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Figma launches in SA

Figma, a leading San Francisco-based tech company, launched its global design initiative and community in Cape Town this past weekend.

Figma has embarked on a roadshow to launch its Global Design Community from South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana, and plans to roll it out to other countries to establish a supportive global community across continents for amateur and professional designers and web designers. 

The hashtag #FigmaCommunitySA trended on Twitter on Saturday afternoon as the Figma Africa Cape Town launch event got underway at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) incubator at the Woodstock Exchange in Cape Town. The event was hosted by Figma and its African partners Ingressive, MEST Africa, and Cape Town tech firm IO Digital. 

“Our Africa launch was a tremendous success. It made sense to launch Figma’s global design community in Africa first, from three of its top tech hubs Accra, Lagos and Cape Town, and then to the rest of the world,” said Figma Africa lead advocate Namnso Ukpanah. 

“Up to 80% of Figma’s users are located outside of the US and a large number of those users are based in Africa. That’s because Figma is uniquely positioned to suit the African design enthusiasts’ software needs – it is browser-based and therefore can be used from any device with an internet connection. It is also free for individuals and small teams, so they no longer need to install and run expensive design software to be able to do their jobs. It also allows you to design for any screen size or file format, and it’s made for team collaboration. As a result, Figma is one of the few US software companies paying attention to the untapped potential of the growing web design industry in Africa.”

Figma’s groundbreaking browser-based interface design tool with real-time collaboration is used by the design teams from top companies such Airbnb, Uber, Slack and Microsoft. And now the company has launched Figma Africa, the first Africa-wide and global online design community to connect designers across Africa on messaging app Slack, the Figma Africa social media channels and at various design events on the continent. So far, close to 800 designers from across Africa have joined the Figma Africa Slack channel.

The Cape Town roadshow was MC’d by local tech startup expert Vuyolwethu Dubese of Thomson Reuters, and included a lively panel discussion on the meaning of world class design by local startup, tech and design experts including Ukpanah, Passmarked.com CEO Mark McChlery, creative strategist Marwaan Sasman, user experience (UX) experts Dane Perring of ad agency 99c and Nicole Bergstedt of Thomson Reuters, and designer and creative communications specialist Najma Toefy of PwC. The discussion was led by moderator Evans Manyonga, Reignmakers founder and editor of Fast Company SA. 

“The key takeaway is that everyone can be a designer,” said Dubese. “Figma makes it easy for anyone with an internet connection to be a designer. Web developers and designers have traditionally worked separately, but now they can work together more collaboratively, and web developers can even try their hand at design. And with the new Figma Africa community that is growing, design enthusiasts across the continent can support each other and innovate together.”

Sasman said: “I see design as not a visual pursuit but a problem solving pursuit. Designers need to start thinking in a much broader sense as problem solvers, because it’s about more than just making visual things. The most valuable designers are the ones that understand people, political or social issues and how to make a social impact. UX matters.”

Software engineer Thabang Tsoboho, who was in the audience, quipped in Twitter that, “We’ve had the “Should Designers code” (chant), but what about “Should Developers Design?”, referencing that users often looked at badly executed tech products like unwieldy apps or software, as design failures rather than coding failures.

Figma will be returning to Cape Town in August, joined by a delegation from the world’s leading software development platform Github, to host a design-focussed hackathon for teams of developers and designers. 

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Veeam passes $1bn, prepares for cloud’s ‘Act II’

Leader in cloud-data management reveals how it will harness the next growth phase of the data revolution, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

Veeam Software, the quiet leader in backup solutions for cloud data management,has announced that it has passed $1-billion in revenues, and is preparing for the next phase of sustained growth in the sector.

Now, it is unveiling what it calls Act II, following five years of rapid growth through modernisation of the data centre. At the VeeamON 2019conferencein Miami this week, company co-founder Ratmir Timashev declared that the opportunities in this new era, focused on managing data for the hybrid cloud, would drive the next phase of growth.

“Veeam created the VMware backup market and has dominated it as the leader for the last decade,” said Timashev, who is also executive vice president for sales and marketing at the organisation. “This was Veeam’s Act I and I am delighted that we have surpassed the $1 billion mark; in 2013 I predicted we’d achieve this in less than six years. 

“However, the market is now changing. Backup is still critical, but customers are now building hybrid clouds with AWS, Azure, IBM and Google, and they need more than just backup. To succeed in this changing environment, Veeam has had to adapt. Veeam, with its 60,000-plus channel and service provider partners and the broadest ecosystem of technology partners, including Cisco, HPE, NetApp, Nutanix and Pure Storage, is best positioned to dominate the new cloud data management in our Act II.”

In South Africa, Veeam expects similar growth. Speaking at the Cisco Connect conference in Sun City this week, country manager Kate Mollett told Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER that the company was doing exceptionally well in this market.

“In financial year 2018, we saw double-digit growth, which was really very encouraging if you consider the state of the economy, and not so much customer sentiment, but customers have been more cautious with how they spend their money. We’ve seen a fluctuation in the currency, so we see customers pausing with big decisions and hoping for a recovery in the Rand-Dollar. But despite all of the negatives, we have double digit growth which is really good. We continue to grow our team and hire.

“From a Veeam perspective, last year we were responsible for Veeam Africa South, which consisted of South Africa, SADC countries, and the Indian Ocean Islands. We’ve now been given the responsibility for the whole of Africa. This is really fantastic because we are now able to drive a single strategy for Africa from South Africa.”

Veeam has been the leading provider of backup, recovery and replication solutions for more than a decade, and is growing rapidly at a time when other players in the backup market are struggling to innovate on demand.

“Backup is not sexy and they made a pretty successful company out of something that others seem to be screwing up,” said Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst at Ovum, speaking in Miami after the VeeamOn conference. “Others have not invested much in new products and they don’t solve key challenges that most organisations want solved. Theyre resting on their laurels and are stuck in the physical world of backup instead of embracing the cloud.”

Illsley readily buys into the Veeam tagline. “It just works”. 

“They are very good at marketing but are also a good engineering comany that does produce the goods. Their big strength, that it just works, is a reliable feature they have built into their product portfolio.”

Veeam said in statement from the event that, while it had initially focused on server virtualisation for VMware environments, in recent years it had expanded this core offering. It was now delivering integration with multiple hypervisors, physical servers and endpoints, along with public and software-as-a-service workloads, while partnering with leading cloud, storage, server, hyperconverged (HCI) and application vendors.

This week, it  announced a new “with Veeam”program, which brings in enterprise storage and hyperconverged (HCI) vendors to provide customers with comprehensive secondary storage solutions that combine Veeam software with industry-leading infrastructure systems. Companies like ExaGrid and Nutanix have already announced partnerships.

Timashev said: “From day one, we have focused on partnerships to deliver customer value. Working with our storage and cloud partners, we are delivering choice, flexibility and value to customers of all sizes.”

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‘Energy scavenging’ funded

As the drive towards a 5G future gathers momentum, the University of Surrey’s research into technology that could power countless internet enabled devices – including those needed for autonomous cars – has won over £1M from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industry partners.

Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) has been working on triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG), an energy harvesting technology capable of ‘scavenging’ energy from movements such as human motion, machine vibration, wind and vehicle movements to power small electronic components. 

TENG energy harvesting is based on a combination of electrostatic charging and electrostatic induction, providing high output, peak efficiency and low-cost solutions for small scale electronic devices. It’s thought such devices will be vital for the smart sensors needed to enable driverless cars to work safely, wearable electronics, health sensors in ‘smart hospitals’ and robotics in ‘smart factories.’ 

The ATI will be partnered on this development project with the Georgia Institute of Technology, QinetiQ, MAS Holdings, National Physical Laboratory, Soochow University and Jaguar Land Rover. 

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI and the principal investigator of the TENG project, said: “TENG technology is ideal to power the next generation of electronic devices due to its small footprint and capacity to integrate into systems we use every day. Here at the ATI, we are constantly looking to develop such advanced technologies leading towards our quest to realise worldwide “free energy”.

“TENGs are an ideal candidate to power the autonomous electronic systems for Internet of Things applications and wearable electronic devices. We believe this research grant will allow us to further the design of optimized energy harvesters.”

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