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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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Rain, Telkom Mobile, lead in affordable data

A new report by the telecoms regulator in South Africa reveal the true consumer champions in mobile data costs

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The latest bi-annual tariff analysis report produced by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) reveals that Telkom Mobile data costs for bundles are two-thirds lower than those of Vodacom and MTN. On the other hand, Rain is half the price again of Telkom. 

The report focuses on the 163 tariff notifications lodged with ICASA during the period 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2018.

“It seeks to ensure that there is retail price transparency within the electronic communications sector, the purpose of which is to enable consumers to make an informed choice, in terms of tariff plan preferences and/or preferred service providers based on their different offerings,” said Icasa.

ICASA says it observed the competitiveness between licensees in terms of the number of promotions that were on offer in the market, with 31 promotions launched during the period. 

The report shows that MTN and Vodacom charge the same prices for a 1GB and a 3GB data bundle at R149 and R299 respectively.  On the other hand, Telkom Mobile charges (for similar-sized data bundles) R100 (1GB) and R201 (3GB). Cell C discontinued its 1GB bundle, which was replaced with a 1.5GB bundle offered at the same price as the replaced 1GB data bundle at R149. 

Rain’s “One Plan Package” prepaid mobile data offering of R50 for a 1GB bundle remains the most affordable when compared to the offers from other MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) and MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).  

“This development should have a positive impact on customers’ pockets as they are paying less compared to similar data bundles and increases choice,” said Icasa.

The report also revealed that the cost of out-of-bundle data had halved at both MTN and Vodacom, from 99c per Megabyte a year ago to 49c per Megabyte in the first quarter of this year. This was still two thirds more expensive than Telkom Mobile, which has charged 29c per Megabyte throughout this period (see graph below).

Meanwhile, from having positioned itself as consumer champion in recent years, Cell C has fallen on hard times, image-wise: it is by far the most expensive mobile network for out-of-bundle data, at R1.10 per Megabyte. Its prices have not budged in the past year.

The report highlights the disparities between the haves and have-nots in the dramatically plummeting cost of data per Megabyte as one buys bigger and bigger bundles on a 30-day basis (see graph below).

For 20 Gigabyte bundles, all mobile operators are in effect charging 4c per Megabyte. Only at that level do costs come in at under Rain’s standard tariffs regardless of use.

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Qualcomm wins 5G as Apple and Intel cave in

A flurry of announcements from three major tech players ushered in a new mobile chip landscape, wrItes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Last week’s shock announcement by Intel that it was canning its 5G modem business leaves the American market wide open to Qualcomm, in the wake of the latter winning a bruising patent war with Apple.

Intel Corporation announced its intention to “exit the 5G smartphone modem business and complete an assessment of the opportunities for 4G and 5G modems in PCs, internet of things devices and other data-centric devices”.

Intel said it would also continue to invest in its 5G network infrastructure business, sharpening its focus on a market expected to be dominated by Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.

Intel said it would continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but did not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020. In other words, it would no longer be supplying chips for iPhones and iPads in competition with Qualcomm.

“We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the ‘cloudification’ of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. “5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property. We are assessing our options to realise the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world.”

The news came immediately after Qualcomm and Apple issued a joint announced of an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm, along with a six-year license agreement, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

Apple had previously accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in modem chips for smartphones and charging excessive license fees. It ordered its contract manufacturers, first, to stop paying Qualcomm for the chips, and then to stop using the chips altogether, turning instead to Intel.
With Apple paying up and Intel pulling out, Qualcomm is suddenly in the pound seats. It shares hit their highest levels in five years after the announcements.

Qualcomm said in a statement: “As we lead the world to 5G, we envision this next big change in cellular technology spurring a new era of intelligent, connected devices and enabling new opportunities in connected cars, remote delivery of health care services, and the IoT — including smart cities, smart homes, and wearables. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio.”

Meanwhile, Strategy Analytics released a report on the same day that showed Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia will lead the market in core 5G infrastructure, namely Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, by 2023 as the 5G market takes off. Huawei is expected to have the edge as a result of the vast scale of the early 5G market in China and its long term steady investment in R&D. According to a report entitled “Comparison and 2023 5G Global Market Potential for leading 5G RAN Vendors – Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia”, two outliers, Samsung and ZTE, are expected to expand their global presence alongside emerging vendors as competition heats up.

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