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How cloud speeds innovation

WILLIAM GIARD, CTO, IT Transformation, Data Center Group, Intel, explains how hybrid clouds provide a platform for application innovation.

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Cloud computing is one of those innovations that opened a door through which has flooded even more innovation. Originally, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings built on server and storage virtualization enabled rapid deployment of virtual servers. As IaaS has matured, though, it’s become clear that infrastructure virtualization—via public or private clouds—is simply step one in a longer journey that brings even greater benefits.

For a couple of months, I’ve been blogging about hybrid clouds—enterprise computing environments that seamlessly link a private cloud running in your own data centers to one or more public clouds. Today, I’d like to explain how hybrid clouds provide a platform for application innovation that promises to bring a new generation of apps that can deploy quickly, scale without bounds, and achieve resiliency that would take enterprises months and millions of dollars to create using traditional IT infrastructure approaches.

While IaaS provides self-service for IT infrastructure teams who can instantly respond to requests for new servers, progress immediately slows to a crawl as app teams provision the new server with the software infrastructure required by the applications—data base, Web server, application server, etc.—and then deploy the app itself. And because it is a different deployment platform, putting the app into production requires modifications to test and deployment processes and continuous integration and DevOps programs.

The corner that has been turned is that hybrid cloud-based infrastructure is bringing the benefits of cloud computing to application development teams by allowing them to develop apps without needing to provide for—or even know—the eventual deployment platform. Once developed, applications can be deployed into public clouds or into on-premises private clouds that share the same architecture, governance policies, development and deployment tools, and management and automation frameworks. And they can be redeployed as economics or business needs change.

That was the experience of Intel’s own IT organization when they implemented a private cloud within our data centers. They began by offering internal IaaS services and quickly fattened the platform by adding platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and database-as-a-service (DBaaS) to create a more standard app environment. They soon found, however, that they needed to completely change the way they thought about their computing environment. Rather than build the environment from the infrastructure up, they adopted an application–down approach that completely abstracted the infrastructure to enable an application stack that could deploy anywhere. The objective is every app running in the right place, where the right place is driven by the needs of the business.

Intel IT achieved infrastructure independence for its development teams using open source PaaS software designed to work across the entire app development lifecycle. It lets developers focus where they provide the most value—application functionality—rather than having to deal with the underlying infrastructure. To date, Intel IT has hosted more than 350 applications and 3,500 app instances on the new platform. By empowering developers, they improved time to market, reduced costs by 60 percent compared to IaaS services, and are operating at half the cost of public cloud services. They’re currently in the process of rationalizing a portfolio of 2,000 applications to determine which should remain in place, be re-hosted or redeveloped, replaced with SaaS solutions, or retired.

Application platforms built on cloud-native technology can bring benefits a traditional IT approach might take years to develop: Unlimited scalability, fault resilience, and dramatically reduced time to market. They let you achieve better architectural compliance for better governance and security and lower total cost of ownership.

The next wave of applications will be built on emerging cloud-native technology, but even now, solutions are available to let any enterprise take advantage of cloud-native application technology—often without even needing to redevelop the application. Solutions like Cloud Foundry, Stratoscale, VMware Cloud Foundation, and Red Hat OpenShift use container technology to allow apps to span your private cloud and an array of public clouds. And Microsoft Azure Stack* extends its cloud right onto your premises using the same cloud application platform used in its public offering.

What is clear is that the rate of innovation in the cloud is quickening, and it continues to evolve and transform. It’s becoming a platform for analytics, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, and network transformation.

The majority of today’s modern cloud data centers—public and private—are powered by Intel Xeon processors, and our latest offering, the Intel Xeon Scalable Processor family, builds on that legacy and delivers new features for the cloud—helping you deliver secure and agile digital services. It enables a common processor architecture spanning low-power, 8-core systems for edge computing up to an 8-socket system comprising 224 cores and supporting 12 TB of memory—all optimized for compute, storage, or networking workloads. It’s one of the ways we’re working to help you on your journey to the transformed computing environment that will enable you to bring your own innovations to the market faster and cheaper.

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Appdate: No wallet? No problem?

In his app roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights VodaPay Masterpass, Charge Running, South African App Integrator Directory, uKheshe Health and LocTransie.

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VodaPay Masterpass

Digital mobility is now a way of life and most are using smartphones to pay bills. 

To meet this need Vodacom and Mastercard have launched VodaPay Masterpass, which enables Vodacom customers to load any bank card into a secure digital wallet, downloaded as an app on their smartphone. Once loaded, these cards and the secure credentials associated with them are safely stored, enabling customers to start transacting immediately without the hassle of entering card details each time they make a purchase.

Vodacom customers can buy prepaid data, airtime and SMS, or voice bundles, directly through the app. They can also select the Pay Bills menu option to settle their DStv accounts, pay a utility bill or take care of a traffic fine.

With the app’s Scan to Pay functionality, users can scan a QR code to pay for goods and services wherever Masterpass is accepted, including all SnapScan and Zapper merchants. Once a QR code is scanned, users select the card they wish to use, and enter their bank PIN number on their own device to complete the transaction.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download and users will not be charged for any transaction fees.

Stockists:  Download VodaPay Masterpass for iOS here and for Android here.

Charge Running

Most running apps track data like pace and distance and, in some cases play audio designed to motivate you, but don’t give you the push you get when you run with a friend. Charge Running is an app that lets you run alongside other runners, virtually, as well as giving live coaching to help you go the distance.

The app includes features such as:

·       Unlimited access to live running classes and virtual races  

·       The ability to compete with runners anywhere in the world in real-time

·       A live leaderboard that shows where you are in the pack to keep you pushing

·       Live, personalised feedback from professional trainers 

·       Group chats with coaches and fellow runners throughout the run

·       On-demand runs for times when you can’t join the live groups 

·       A choice of difficulty levels and race types 

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free seven-day trial; thereafter R150 per month

Stockists: Visit the Charge Running site here for downloading instructions.

South African App Integrator Directory

The South African App Integrator Directory from Xero is designed to solve the complexity of choosing apps for small business owners.

The directory is now available in South Africa with six partners, including Realm Digital, Radical Cloud Solutions, Nimacc, Insights, Iridium Business Solutions and Creative CFO. According to Xero, these are all organisations with a proven track record of successfully integrating marketplace apps into Xero businesses. There are also currently over 700 apps in Xero’s App Marketplace worldwide, 21 of which are South African born.

As small businesses become more tech-savvy, they need to know exactly which apps to install on their devices and how the apps will help them. They also need to be able to install these apps from a trusted integrator so they know for what they are paying. 

Platform: Any device with an up-to-date Internet browser.

Expect to pay: A one month trial version is offered, after which the App Integrator ranges from R125 to R245 per month, depending on the company’s needs.

Stockists: Visit Xero here for downloading instructions.

Click here to read about uKheshe Health and LocTransie.

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Prize offered for drone films

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DJI and SkyPixel, the world’s most popular aerial photography community, have announced the first short film contest inviting users to submit cinematic stories shot with camera and gimbal products. The 2019 SkyPixel Short Film Contest will accept entries until 14 October 2019. It welcomes submissions from all creators, ranging from hobbyists to social media users and professional videographers. around the globe.

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The 2019 SkyPixel Short Film Contest consists of three storytelling categories—‘Big Moments Start Small,’ ‘Make Your Move’ and ‘Adventure Starts With You.’ There is no restriction on the type or brand of equipment participants use, and they can submit as many videos as they wish.

A total of 100 winners can win a range of prizes totaling $48,600 USD in categories including Recommended Films, Best Editing, Best Story, Nominated Entries, People’s Choice Prize as well as This Week’s Most Popular, sponsored by the partner SanDisk and WD brand from Western Digital Corp. This year’s Best Short Video winners will each receive the new Ronin-SC Pro Combo, Osmo Action as well as WD 2TB My Passport Wireless SSD.

Winning entries will also be showcased on the SkyPixel website as well as to DJI’s millions of fans and followers across its social media platforms.

“DJI has redefined how people capture stable video for all of life’s moments. The compact size, portability and powerful imaging system of our Osmo and Ronin series have also made it possible for anyone to take their creativity and inspirations to the next level,” said Basile David, Director of Brand and Content Partnerships at DJI. “With this contest, we hope to encourage more people to embrace and share their own creative way of storytelling.”

Since 2014, the SkyPixel online community has attracted 16 million professional aerial photographers and content creators from more than 140 countries, growing into the largest aerial photography community today. Over the past five years, SkyPixel has received over 150,000 submissions, becoming a go-to platform for original aerial masterpieces and extraordinary footage powered by other gimbal products focusing on various themes.

Details of the 2019 SkyPixel Short Film Contest

The short film contest consists of three categories:

Big Moments Start Small: Create a video showcasing the small, lightweight design of your camera device and your best cinematic scenes. Users are recommended to include at least 10 seconds of behind-the-scenes clips of their product such as DJI Osmo Pocket or other devices.

Make Your Move: Create a video showcasing the stabilized footage from your device. Users are recommended to include at least 10 seconds of behind-the-scenes clips of their product such as DJI Osmo Series or other devices.

Adventure Starts With You: Create a short, cinematic narrative film to showcase your creative skills and visual effects. Users are recommended to include at least 10 seconds of behind-the-scenes clips of their product such as DJI Ronin Series or other devices.

*Video submissions should not be longer than three minutes in length.

Submission Details

Submission Start Date: August 15, 2019, 2:00 AM (EST)

Submission End Date: October 14, 2019, 2:00 AM (EST)

Award Announcement: October 31, 2019

Interested participants can visit the 2019 SkyPixel Short Film Contest website for more information on contest rules and guidelines. For more information, contact: Skypixel.campaign@dji.com

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