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Huawei Cloud Africa data centre to go live in March

Huawei hopes to be the world’s first cloud service provider with an operational data centre in Africa.

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Huawei has revealed that its first cloud data centre in Africa will open in Johannesburg next month, followed by another in Cape Town. The company is working with South African partners for the construction of the data centres.

Huawei says it will deploy localised public cloud services based on local industry policies, customer requirements and partner conditions.

Globally, Huawei Cloud has launched over 160 cloud services in 18 categories with more than 60 general-purpose solutions, such as SAP, HPC, IoT, security and DevOps. Huawei has also developed solutions for more than 80 industry-specific scenarios, such as manufacturing, e-commerce, gaming, finance, and IoV.

Speaking at a Cloud Summit in Johannesburg this week, Huawei outlined its plans for a fully connected Africa driven by Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications.

“If Cloud 1.0 is an era driven by infrastructure resources, then Cloud 2.0 is the era of cloud-native applications, driven by data and AI platforms,” said Huawei Cloud’s Farouk Osman Latib.

Latib emphasised the importance of the combination of cloud and AI: “If we compare an enterprise to an aircraft, techs like AI, IoT and 5G can be regarded as engines, but Cloud is like a runway for the aircraft to take off towards digitisation.”

Huawei believes industry is changing in the Cloud 2.0 era. Existing IT systems at medium-to-large sized enterprises are moving towards hybrid cloud architectures. Internet applications and other new technologies like cloud computing, AI, and loT are all growing at rapid pace.

“In the Cloud 2.0 era, infrastructure must meet the rapid development of big data so that hundreds of industries, especially Internet, can mine more dividends from data,” said Latib. “The physicality of industry is integrating with IT in deeper ways to improve productivity and socioeconomic benefit.”

In terms of application prospects, Cloud + AI can improve the capabilities and explore the potential of many industries and professions.

“With cloud and AI, we aim to provide enterprises, small and large, with one-stop AI platform services, enriching fine-grained APIs, adapting rich algorithms in diverse industry sectors and heterogeneous computing infrastructure so that everyone can use various artificial intelligence algorithms to solve practical problems.”

When Huawei’s anticipated cloud services are launched in March, the company says, it will make it the world’s first cloud service provider with an operational data centre in Africa.

Microsoft was set to open Azure data centres in Cape Town and Johannesburg before the end of 2018, but missed its own deadline. At the Cloud Summit, principle solution specialist for Azure Apps and Infrastructure at Microsoft, Ky Ox, confirmed that the first data centre would also open in March, but did not provide a date.

Amazon Web Services previously announced it would open three data centres in Cape Town in the first quarter of 2020.

The Huawei cloud service will be available to organisations in South Africa and neighboring countries, providing lower-latency, reliable, and secure cloud services. Huawei says the service will be ready for trial use from next week.


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Gadget goes to Hollywood

Gadget spent two days at Netflix studios last week, and ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK talks to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is no stranger to Africa. He has travelled throughout South Africa, taught maths in Swaziland for two years with the Peace Corps, and visits close family in Maputo. As a result, he is keenly aware of the South African entertainment and connectivity landscape.

In an exclusive interview at the Netflix studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles last week, he revealed that Netflix had no intentions of challenging MultiChoice’s dominance of live sports broadcasting on the continent.

“Other firms will do sport and news; we are trying to focus on movies and TV shows,” he said. “There are a lot of areas that are video that we are not doing: sports, news, video gaming, user-generated content. We don’t have live sport.

Reed Hastings at the Netflix studios in Hollywood last week. Pic: ADAM ROSE

“We’re not replacing MultiChoice at all. Their subscriber growth is steady in South Africa. They serve a need that’s independent of the Internet, via low-price satellite. There is no intention of capturing that audience. If they’re growing, it’s because they serve a need.”

While Reed ruled out any collaboration with MultiChoice on its satellite delivery platform, despite its collaboration with another pay-TV service, Sky TV in the United Kingdom, he did not close the door. He stressed that Netflix saw itself as an Internet-based service, and would pursue the opportunities offered by evolving broadband in Africa.

“If you look in other markets like the USA, how Comcast carries us on set-top boxes with their other services, it could happen with MultiChoice, the same as with all the pay-TV providers.

“We’re really focused on being a service over the Internet and not over satellite. Our service doesn’t work on satellite. Where we work with Sky is on Internet-connected devices. We’re happy to work on Internet-connected devices. We tend to work on smart TVs, but need broadband Internet for that.

“Broadband is getting faster in Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa – we can see the positive trendlines – so it’s more likely we will work with broadband Internet companies.”

Hastings is a firm believer in the idea that one content provider’s success does not depend on pushing another down.

“HBO has grown at the same time as we have, so can see our success doesn’t determine their success. What matters is amazing content with which the world falls in love.”

Click here to read about Netflix’s international expansion, and how the streaming service selects content for its platform.

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Google announces its ‘Netflix for gaming’

The new gaming platform, Stadia, promises high-definition gaming on TVs, computers, and mobile devices, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Google has announced that it has moved into the gaming space, and it focuses on two big aspects of gaming: streaming of games for gamers, which will allow gamers to game anywhere with a fast, low-latency Internet connection; and audiences that watch gamers in-game.

This is a big move in making gaming accessible to more gamers, as it reduces hardware costs, by utilising the benefits of low-latency cloud computing. This will be achieved by using a globally connected network of Google data centres. Gamers who stream games are most likely already using a high-speed, low-latency Internet connection, so access to the Stadia platform will be an added expense.

Through the Stadia platform, gamers will be able to access a large library of games at all times, with no installation time, on virtually any screen. Scaling of hardware like CPU, GPU, memory, and storage is also possible, as one would for cloud server resources.

Google will be leveraging its other platforms, like YouTube, with Stadia streaming. It claims that 200-million people are watching game-related content daily on YouTube. This allows, for example, Stadia players to jump in with other Stadia players – no downloads, no updates, no patches, and no installs.

For console players, Google has designed a custom controller.

The controller was designed to establish a direct connection from the Stadia controller to Google’s data centre through Wi-Fi for the best possible gaming performance. The controller also includes a button for instant capture, saving, and sharing gameplay in 4K resolution. It sports a Google Assistant button and built-in microphone, as many Google products do, for voice control. 

The device is expected to be released later this year, pending FCC approval.

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