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Intelligence map reveals holes in local Internet

Oracle has launched an Internet Intelligence Map that delivers unique insights into the impact of Internet disruptions.

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Oracle recently made its Internet Intelligence Map available to provide users with a simple, graphical way to track the health of the internet and gain insight into the impact of events such as natural disasters or state-imposed interruptions. The map is part of Oracle’s Internet Intelligence initiative, which provides insight and analysis on the state of global internet infrastructure. 

“The internet is the backbone of modern business, but it has changed a lot over the last ten years; as more workloads move to the cloud, business infrastructure is growing in scale, complexity and volatility,” says Niral Patel, Managing Director and Technology Leader, Oracle South Africa. “Add to this the Internet of Things (IoT), where connected devices now outnumber humans, and you’ll understand why today’s IT leaders including DevOps, administrators and architects have to closely monitor the internet if they are to build and deploy the next generation of cloud. They will need to understand the volatility of the internet, in terms of availability, performance and security, if they are to provide a high quality service to users, and avoid leaving their company exposed.”

Oracle’s Internet Intelligence Map provides users with a free simple, graphical way to track the health of the internet and gain insight into the impact of events such as outages, natural disasters or state-imposed interruptions. The map is part of Oracle’s Internet Intelligence initiative, which provides insight and analysis on the state of global internet infrastructure. 

Patel points out that South Africa’s broadband internet is delivered via several undersea cables, such as Seacom on Africa’s eastern coastline, the Eastern African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) linking South Africa with Kenya and Sudan, and the West Africa Cable System (WACS) spanning the west coast of Africa. 

“Subsea cable outages occur from time to time, which means South African internet users can experience higher latencies with a degradation of service. Although traffic can in most cases be routed via another cable system, a repair vessel needs to be mobilised and it can take a couple of days for it to reach the fault location, with weather and sea conditions impacting the time it takes for the fault to be repaired. 

“Volatility is the internet’s biggest challenge. We forget about the risk and vulnerabilities of infrastructure itself – the actual infrastructure we rely on to run our businesses. If your business relies on internet connectivity to ensure delivery of your services, understanding the health of the internet is very important.”

He has a clear warning for local businesses to be vigilant not only for local conditions, but global events too: “Many businesses don’t realise quite how reliant they are in today’s cloud era. They need better visibility into the health of the global internet so that they can understand how external events prevent them from reaching web-based applications and services. It is only when you have this insight that you can work around those issues to improve availability and performance and deliver a better experience for customers.”

For more than a decade, members of Oracle’s Internet Intelligence team have broken some of the biggest stories about the internet. From BGP hijacks to submarine cable breaks, Oracle’s Internet Intelligence team frequently publishes objective data and analysis that informs public understanding of the technical underpinnings of the internet and its effects on topics like geopolitics and e-commerce. With today’s news, Oracle is now making core analytic capabilities available to everyone via the Internet Intelligence Map. Using one of the world’s most comprehensive internet performance data sets and backed by years of research and analytics, Oracle has developed the premier resource and authority for reliable information on the functioning of the internet.

“The internet is the world’s most important network, yet it is incredibly volatile. Disruptions on the internet can affect companies, governments, and network operators in profound ways,” says Kyle York, vice president of product strategy for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and the general manager for Oracle’s Dyn Global Business Unit. “As a result, all of these stakeholders need better visibility into the health of the global internet. With this offering, we are delivering on our commitment to making it a better, more stable experience for all who rely on it.”

The Internet Intelligence Map presents country-level connectivity statistics based on traceroutes, BGP, and DNS query volumes on a single dashboard. By presenting these three dimensions of internet connectivity side-by-side, users can investigate the impact of an issue on internet connectivity worldwide. 

“It’s important to have a global view of the internet in order to understand how external events prevent users from reaching your web-based applications and services. It is only when you have this insight that you can work around those issues to improve availability and performance,” says Jim Davis, Founder and Principal Analyst of Edge Research Group.

The Internet Intelligence Map is just one of many advanced awareness and visibility tools that help Oracle improve the experience of the cloud by making it better and more reliable every day. This offering is powered by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, which offers a set of core infrastructure services to provide customers the ability to run any workload in the cloud. Only Oracle Cloud Infrastructure provides the compute, storage, networking, and edge services necessary to deliver the end-to-end performance required of today’s modern enterprise.

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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