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How Huawei will maintain its genius push into SA

Huawei is about to deepen the massive impact it has made in South Africa, writes BRAD EVE.

Not long ago, Huawei announced that it will soon begin construction on a dedicated warehouse in Johannesburg. Its aim? To reduce delivery times of new devices to local retailers from three weeks to as little as three days. 

Locally, Huawei currently owns about 10% of the smartphone market. This is impressive when one considers its competition, and the amount of time that the brand has been in the local smartphone space, relative to brands like Apple and Samsung.

What is most notable about Huawei, however, is its product offering.

Although this may be unpopular with Apple aficionados, the simple fact is that the iPhone is prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of South Africans. Even Apple’s “budget” iPhone XR is priced just slightly below Huawei’s flagship, the Mate 20 Pro. 

Samsung has a similar strategy to Huawei when it comes to a multi-tiered offering, but, in my opinion, unless one opts for one of Samsung’s flagship devices, one is often met with the same old hardware, the same old experience, the same old feeling.

This is where Huawei really seems to be headed in the right direction. 

I am a big believer in the fact that your smartphone should invoke a sense of joy whenever you pick it up. It should feel special to hold, special to engage with. When your smartphone is in your hand, you should have the sense that you are holding something unique, fun, immaculately crafted and technologically advanced. Huawei’s devices certainly seem to get this right.

The iPhone is a thing of beauty. It is a pleasure to hold and its user interface is clean, simple and elegant. It’s a wonderful thing, but you must be prepared to pay for this experience. And boy do you pay. Somehow though, Huawei has managed to replicate this feeling, this experience, even with its wallet-friendly P20 Lite and Honor devices. Yes, we get this experience with the Samsung Galaxy S-Series and Note devices, but, again, they come at a premium. 

It could be said that when it comes to that “special” feeling we search for in a smart device, Huawei’s devices are iPhone-esque, but at a fraction of the price. 

So, where does Huawei’s genius lie?

Huawei seems to have every corner of the market covered. Yes, Samsung operates in a similar way, but specification-wise, Huawei seems to offer devices in each category that could quite easily belong to the price point above it. 

For many South Africans, devices that offer high-end specifications and functionality have simply not been an option due to the costs associated with owning such devices. Huawei is making this a thing of the past, and adoption of the brand will no doubt continue to rise rapidly as it makes further inroads into the market by providing solutions at every price point. I think that that optimal word here is “solutions”. Huawei is providing solutions to consumers that find themselves in a country affected by a struggling economy, a lack of jobs and the world’s highest rate of youth unemployment.

Huawei is working to provide South Africans with affordable devices, as well as improved connectivity – a combination that has the potential to produce a vast array of positive results for individual South Africans and the economy as a whole. The prospects are certainly exciting. 

Many business professors will tell you to find a pain point and provide a solution. Huawei is doing this in a big way. Huawei seems to understand the South African market, and providing a wide range of devices will certainly stand it in good stead as it moves forward. Its decision to make a push into South Africa, and its strategy to do so, is brilliant. I have no doubt that Huawei’s product offerings will continue to be lapped up by the South African consumer as we discover, more and more, just how much value the brand has to offer.

The coming year will be an exciting one as we witness Huawei’s continued drive into the local market. It seems to have made the effort to understand the South African consumer, and in my book, any brand that does that deserves to win.

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Time is running out for Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Companies are urged to update from the dated database management software as end-of-support looms, writes BRYAN TURNER.

The 11-year-old Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database management software is reaching the end of its support on 9 July. The applications that use databases running on this software will be at risk of security and stability issues.

On self-managed databases, upgrading to the latest database version comes with a lot of risks. Many IT departments within companies go by the motto: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.

Microsoft made it very clear that it would not be updating SQL Server 2005 after its extended support date and even left it vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown by not releasing patches for the dated version.

Updating SQL Server versions may seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes for a migration. In the last major version update, SQL Server 2016 introduced simpler backup functionality, database stretching, and always-encrypted communications with the database, to name just three features.

While backing up the database may be the last thing on the typical database administrator’s mind, it’s become increasingly important to do so. In SQL Server 2008, it’s clunky and causes headaches for many admins. However, in SQL Server 2016, one can easily set up an automated backup to Azure storage and let it run on smart backup intervals. Backing up offsite also reduces the need for disaster recovery for onsite damage.

Database stretching allows admins to push less frequently accessed data to an Azure database, automatically decided by SQL Server 2016. This reduces the admin of manually looking through what must be kept and what must be shipped off or deleted. It also reduces the size of the database, which also increases the performance of the applications that access it. The best part of this functionality is it automatically retrieves the less accessed records from Azure when users request it, without the need for manual intervention.

Always-encrypted communications are becoming more and more relevant to many companies, especially those operating in European regions after the introduction of GDPR. Encryption keys were previously managed by the admin, but now encryption is always handled by the client. Furthermore, the keys to encrypt and decrypt data are stored outside of SQL Server altogether. This means data stored in the database is always encrypted, and no longer for the eyes of a curious database manager. 

The built-in reporting tools have also vastly improved with the addition of new reporting metrics and a modern look. It includes support for Excel reports for keeping documentation and Power BI for automated, drag-and-drop personalised reporting. Best of all, it removes the dreaded Active X controls, which made the reporting in a webpage feel very clumsy and bloated in previous versions.

A lot has changed in the past ten years in the world of SQL Server database management, and it’s not worth running into problems before Microsoft ends support for SQL Server 2008.

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Local apps to feature in Huawei’s App Gallery

Huawei’s mobile app store, the HUAWEI AppGallery, will soon feature a multitude of apps and designs by local developers. The company says this is part of its drive to promote South African digital talent and include more useful apps for Huawei smartphone users. HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes are pre-installed on all the latest Huawei and Honor devices.

“South African consumers are increasingly wanting more apps that are relevant to their unique circumstances, addressing issues they experience regularly – such as load shedding or safety concerns – but also apps that celebrate South Africa’s multitude of cultures and this vibrant country,” says Lu Geng, director of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Region.

Akhram Mohamed, chief technology officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa, says: “Huawei is committed to catering to the needs of South African consumers, but we also know that we do not have all the answers. For this reason, we aim to work closely with South African developers so that we can give our users everything that they need and want from their devices. At the same time, we also hope to create an open ecosystem for local developers by offering a simple and secure environment for them to upload content.”

Huawei Mobile Services was launched in South Africa in June last year. Since then, both the HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes – which features tens of thousands of themes, fonts and wallpapers that personalise user’s handset – have become increasingly popular with the local market. Even though it is a relatively new division of Huawei, there has been a great increase in growth; at the end of 2018 Huawei Mobile Services had 500 million users globally, representing a 117% increase on the previous year.

Explaining what differentiates the HUAWEI AppGallery from other app stores, Mosa Matshediso Hlobelo, business developer for Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa says: “We use the name ‘HUAWEI AppGallery’ because we have a dedicated team that curates all the apps in terms of relevance and ease of use and to ensure that there are no technical issues. Importantly, all apps are also security-checked for malware and privacy leaks before being uploaded on to the HUAWEI AppGallery.”

Huawei recently held a Developers’ Day where Huawei executives met with South African developers to discuss Huawei’s offering. 48 developers registered their apps on the day, and Huawei is currently in discussions with them with the eventual aim of featuring the best apps and designs on HUAWEI AppGallery or HUAWEI Themes. The Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Team at Huawei plans on making Developers’ Day a quarterly event and establishing a local providers’ hub, where developers can regularly meet with Huawei for training on updates to programmes and offerings.

“We have a very hands-on approach with our developers, and hope to expand that community so we can become an additional distribution channel for more developers and expose them to both a local and a global audience,” says Geng. “For example, we regularly feature apps and designs from local developers on our Huawei social media pages, and do competitions and promotions. We want to do everything we can to make our Huawei users aware of these local apps and upload them. This will encourage the growth of the developer community in South Africa by giving developers more opportunities to generate revenue from in-app purchases.”

* Developers who would like their apps featured on the HUAWEI App Gallery, or designs featured on HUAWEI Themes, should visit https://developer.huawei.com or email Huawei Mobile Services on sacloud@huawei.com.

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