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How backups will evolve in 2019

Backup strategy will enter a new era in the coming year, writes SERVAAS VENTER of Dell EMC.

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If you asked clients a few years ago what concerned them most about data backups, the answer would probably have been about volumes. The amount of data they had to manage seemed insurmountable. I could see that for myself: in 1999 some of my enterprise customers were managing a terabyte of data. Today that is comfortably more than 20 petabytes – 20,000 terabytes. Yes, you read right – a thousand times more data for every year in the past two decades. How have companies not crumbled under this pressure?

For one, we live in a much more data-savvy world. I’ll give an example: when companies do backups today, at least through our systems, they use a process called deduplication. This ensures that only data that has changed is replaced instead of rewriting everything. Other examples include the improvements towards enterprise workload, virtual machine backups and recovery. There is also more distinction between types of data and, as such, backup strategies. Some data requires faster drives, other require lots of bandwidth. Understanding the difference has made company backups more efficient.

This is where we leave 2018: enterprises are more successful at backing up their data, solutions are easier to access thanks to virtualisation and the cloud, and the data tsunami is being tamed with intelligent backup services. These are all signs of a more digital-savvy world. We are finally reaping the rewards of digital transformation.

2019 is when we will start seeing backup strategies enter a new stage of maturity. Even though expanding data volumes are met with modern technology, those teams behind data management have not been growing. Today the pressure on backup teams is greater than ever. In one way we avoided the data tsunami washing us all away, but in other areas companies have been standing still. The promise of shifting operational pressure away from backups hasn’t yet materialised.

There are two major trends that I believe will become standard in 2019. The first is automation: companies are looking for more opportunities to increase backup efficiency while moving valuable operation resources to other technology projects. The second trend is addressing data where it resides. In the multi-cloud world, data lives in many different places and moves dynamically as needed. Businesses are embracing self-service features around workloads, applications and virtual machines. Backups are following suit.

Securing data archives in more automated and agile ways will help companies become more dynamic. Devops teams need to be able to grab data sets for their own work without disrupting the backup operations or violating the sanctity of data management. The data also needs to be kept safe from attacks – malware is increasingly targeting backup environments – and there is more demand for backup systems to have their own protection outside of other security measures in enterprises.

Today’s data backup and management market is significantly more mature, supported by proven new technologies. Even though companies are dealing with 20,000 times more data than at the start of this century, that is under control. It’s the smarter and better use of data that defines today’s digitally mature organisation. They want their data to be dynamic, flexible and with more native control – all while giving operational teams their time back. We’ll see backup control consolidate over multiple sources and become very automated. Very soon it won’t matter where your data is – it will be backed up as required and available to who needs it.

*Servaas Venter is Sales Director for Data Protection Solutions at Dell EMC SA.

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The myths of microwaves

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We all know microwaves make cooking a breeze and it helps save those minutes, we rarely have enough of these days. However, some people do have those lingering doubts about whether microwaving food destroys nutrients or that it emits harmful radiation. However, the truth is a lot more comforting and positive.

“The microwave makes life so much easier,” says Tracy Gordon, Head of Product – Home Appliances at Samsung South Africa. “It’s human-centred technology at its most helpful. The Samsung Hotblast for example, has revolutionary functions, which are tailor-made to create fast, tasty and healthy meals in minutes.”

A recent article by Harvard Health Publishingclaims stated that “microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.” The article debunks two common myths about microwaving food.

Myth 1: Microwaving kills nutrients

Whether in a microwave or a regular oven, some nutrients, including vitamin C, do break down when exposed to heat. However, the fact is, cooking with a microwave might be better when it comes to preserving nutrients because it takes a shorter time to cook. Additionally, as far as vegetables go, cooking them in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients seep out into the cooking water,” states the report by Harvard Health Publishing. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food cooked in a microwave oven is as safe and has the same nutrient value, as food cooked in a conventional oven.

Myth 2: Microwaving food can give you cancer

The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that microwaves do not make food radioactive. Microwaves heat food but they do not change the chemical or molecular structure of it. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that microwaves pose a health risk to people when used appropriately, the organisation added.

With those myths well busted, it’s comforting to know one can make full use of the convenient kitchen appliance. And when the time comes to use a microwave to heat up a tasty meal in no time, one can trust the Samsung Hotblast to do the job. The HotBlast has multiple air holes blowing out powerful hot air, which reduces cooking time. Samsung claims the Slim Fry technology ensures that food is perfectly crisp on the outside and delicious and juicy on the inside. Additionally, this versatile microwave has a wider grill, making it easier to brown food fast and evenly. The turntable is wider, measuring 345mm, making it possible to prepare bigger portions of food. And with its Eco Mode power, it significantly reduces energy consumption with its low standby power. Its intelligent features and stylish design makes it very useful and as we now know – a safe, healthy way to enjoy a meal.

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New BMW 3-series ushers in autonomous future

The new BMW 3-series is not meant to be an autonomous car, but it is so close, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers.

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It was not meant to be a test-drive of an autonomous vehicle. But the Driving Assist button on the steering wheel of the new BMW 330i was just too tempting. And there I found myself, on Sir Lowry’s Pass near Cape Town, “driving” with my arms folded while the vehicle negotiated curves on its own.

Every 10 seconds or so, yellow or red lights flashed to alert me to put my hands back on the wheel. The yellow lights meant the car wanted me to put my hands on the wheel, just to show that I was in control. The red lights meant that I had to take over control from the artificial intelligence built into the vehicle.

With co-driver Ernest Page, we negotiated a major highway, the bends of Sir Lowry’s pass, and the passes of Hell’s Heights (Hel se Hoogte) above the Cape Winelands.

As the above video of the experience reveals, it can be nerve-racking for someone who hasn’t experienced autonomous driving, or hasn’t been dreaming of testing it for many years. For this driver, it was exhilarating. Not because the car performed so magnificently, but because it tells us just how close true autonomous driving really is.

There was one nervous moment when the autonomous – or rather, Driving Assist – mode disengaged on Hell’s Heights, but fear not. A powerful sense of responsibility prevailed, and my hands hovered over the steering wheel as it took the curve. Assist disengaged, and the car began to veer towards the other side of the road. I quickly took over, and also sobered up from the giddiness of thinking I was already in the future.

In reality, Driving Assist is part of level 2 of driving autonomy, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. A presentation on the evening of the test drive, by Edward Makwana, manager of group product communications at BMW Group in South Africa, summed up the five stages as the driver having Feet Off, Hands Off, Eyes Off, Mind off, and finally, only being a Passenger.

However, the extent to which the hands-off mode of Driving Assist mimics self-driving, and easily shows the way to eyes-off and mind-off, is astonishing.

Click here to read about the components that make the Driving Assist work.

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