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IS opens portal to world’s biggest cloud

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Internet Solutions has launched SkyLight, the first aggregated cloud services portal of its kind that gives businesses the opportunity to create the virtual environments that are most appropriate for them.

SkyLight delivers the world’s biggest cloud by providing access to the foremost local and global cloud platforms through a single portal. This means that enterprises can finally create the virtual environments that are most appropriate for their business.

Andrew Aitken, Executive: Cloud at Internet Solutions, says that enterprises have known for a while that cloud computing is one of the most important new technologies seen in decades.

“CIOs and CFOs in particular are attracted by the proposition that cloud computing turns the economics of enterprise IT on its head. On-site data centres are prohibitively costly capital investments, whereas the cloud allows consideration of an operating expenditure model because those hard costs are eliminated. But in practise, there is a perception that shifting their invaluable data into the cloud is too difficult or too risky.

SkyLight delivers the promise of cloud computing by enabling the ease and flexibility of services that has been lacking, as well as the visibility that enterprises demand,” he says.

The world’s biggest cloud

With a single login and with one easy-to-use interface, SkyLight currently offers users on-demand access to cloud services from Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Internet Solutions Cloud and Dimension Data Cloud, with others to follow.

Enterprises can select one virtual environment for their entire business, or select different environments for different departments, deployments or workloads. Provisioning or decommissioning machines as need dictates – whichever the platform – happens instantaneously via the portal.

“No longer must enterprises commit to a single platform that may not be ideal for their requirements, or face the laborious tasks of optimising and collating services across multiple platforms,” says Aitken. “This is probably the single biggest issue that enterprises grapple with when taking their data to the cloud.”

“Our answer is SkyLight – one account, one login and one interface to select and deselect the cloud services that your business and your workload needs from what is effectively one mega-cloud.”

Manage more with less

Whether users provision a single machine or many, SkyLight enables a range of security and performance management functions across all virtual environments and on all cloud platforms, including monitoring of firewalls, networks, usage and load balancers.

Custom permissions, detailed audit logs and roll-back functionality are built in, making it easy to maintain proper levels of IT governance in the virtual environment.

Aitken says that SkyLight offers an extraordinary degree of control over the virtual environment, no matter how simple or complex.

“Having an immediate, holistic view of how virtual machines are performing – from both a usage and security perspective – means that CIOs and IT staff can make informed decisions about how to manage services in the most cost-effective and efficient manner,” he says.

Financial flexibility and oversight

By eliminating contract lock-ins, enterprises can scale up or down their data requirements instantly. This flexibility means that business is not negatively impacted by delays on physical infrastructure or by paying for cloud services that are no longer required.

“Instead of purchasing infrastructure based on requirements and financial projections decided years ago, through SkyLight an enterprise pays only for the IT services it needs, when it needs it, and at the appropriate scale,” says Aitken.

SkyLight users will receive one consolidated bill – in Rands – with detailed usage statistics for all provisioned virtual environments and cloud platforms.

“Invoices typically provide very little information, which means that budgeting for unusual deployments or reporting on specific spend is almost impossible,” says Aitken. “SkyLight’s billing function, on the other hand, enables cost-tracking by the day which is not currently possible on other platforms.”

Internet Solutions’ Managing Director, Saki Missaikos, says that the company has invested more than two years into the development of SkyLight in order to transform cloud computing from a platform-centric to a user-centric service.

“Cloud computing offers enterprises tremendous advantage from a financial, operational and sustainability perspective, but only if their business requirements are central to the design of their virtual environment,” he says.

Missaikos believes that with user-centric cloud services like SkyLight, enterprises can look forward to a future in which CIOs and IT departments are freed from managing physical assets like servers and data centres.

“This is an exciting future in which the IT department is a creativity and innovation hub, properly leveraging its human capital to deliver business value,” he says.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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