The evolution of mobile devices means that employees are able to work anywhere they want. However, this has led to the need for suitable storage solutions, additional capacity and adequate backup and protection, writes ANAMIKA BUDREE.
The evolution and proliferation of a vast array of mobile devices has resulted in the ‘mobile warrior’ becoming the stalwart of many businesses. From large multinationals with branch offices in multiple regions, to local entrepreneurs with their own business who visit their clients personally, the ability to work on the go has dramatically changed the business world. Thanks to compact and efficient devices like laptop, smartphones and tablets, these ‘mobile warriors’ are empowered to work from any location, at any time. In addition, always-on connectivity has created a new brand of consumer who is always online at the touch of a button, with access to a world of information at their fingertips. The mobility megatrend, while it offers numerous benefits, has highlighted the need for suitable storage solutions, both for additional capacity and for adequate data backup and protection.
One of the biggest challenges with compact mobile devices is that they feature limited on board storage capacity. In a world where digital content creation is exploding, this can be problematic. In addition, the connected digital realm also leads to other content-related requirements. Working across multiple devices means users want to be able to access the same information and documentation from each device with consolidated and synchronised content. Consumers too wish to be able to access and share all of their content with ease, no matter where they are. Furthermore, mobile devices are highly susceptible to theft and accidental damage, which makes effective backup and data protection critical.
One of the simplest storage solutions for some of these challenges is direct-attached storage (DAS), also known as the external hard drive. This is often the most basic and affordable option to help expand storage capacity as well as provide a solution for data backup. DAS solutions are available as desktop hard drives which require an external power source, as well as portable solutions that are more compact and are powered through a USB port on a computer. Many solutions also offer automatic backup software to take away the chore of doing this manually, which adds an element of convenience.
In a connected world, however, simply expanding capacity or providing a basic backup solution is no longer enough. Many users need to centralise their storage to enable their files to be shared and accessed remotely. While consumers have turned to the public cloud to provide a solution. Personal cloud solutions offer the ideal alternative. These solutions consist of an external hard drive that also includes the ability to create your own cloud. Compared to a DAS drive, you do not need to carry it around with you, and they can be accessed by multiple devices including laptops, smartphones and tablets. Users therefore benefit from having all of their content easily sorted by folder in a central location that is completely in their control and allows them to access and share this content anywhere.
Network-attached storage (NAS) solutions are another option ideal for small to medium enterprises (SME) and even consumers with high storage capacity requirements. These solutions, which were previously only available to large enterprises, have begun to emerge in the smaller business and consumer market at an affordable price. The enclosures contain a number of hard drive bays, typically between one and four for the SMB market, which can be populated with purpose-built hard drives of capacities up to 6 TB each. This offers up to 24 TB of centralised storage capacity. In addition, NAS solutions can be configured in a variety of formats including RAID, which offers additional data protection and redundancy. NAS also enables a level of sharing and access through file server functionality.
The growing need for a variety of storage solutions presents a significant opportunity for resellers to think out of the box. For example, any business that needs notebooks and servers could benefit from NAS in order to provide not only storage server functionality but also the ability to centralise and consolidate content storage, provide additional data redundancy and offer an element of data sharing. Prosumers like photographers or other users with large storage requirements and the need for data redundancy would also benefit from NAS solutions. Laptops users may benefit from portable DAS solutions to provide additional storage capacity on the move. For both consumer and business customers, personal cloud solutions enable content consolidation, sharing and access across multiple devices, including smartphones and tablets.
In addition, resellers can cross sell solutions such as backup software. They are also in an ideal position to help to educate the market on the requirement for consolidated storage, additional storage capacity and the need for backup and data protection. This in turn will help them to become a trusted partner and advisor and a provider of complete solutions for business and consumer needs.
Note: External hard drives serve as an element of an overall backup strategy. It is recommended that users keep two or more copies of their most important files backed up or stored on separate devices or online services. Features, apps, and services are subject to change and may not be available depending on where you live, your service provider, device, or software version. Network connectivity, and a data service contract may be required to use certain features. A service contract may be required; fees and other restrictions may apply.
* Anamika Budree is a Sales Manager in Western Digital’s South Africa office. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
UN calls for electronics overhaul to beat e-waste
Seven UN entities have come together at the World Economic Forum to tackle the escalating scourge of electronic waste.
Seven UN entities have come together, supported by the World Economic Forum, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to call for an overhaul of the current electronics system, with the aim of supporting international efforts to address e-waste challenges.
The report calls for a systematic collaboration with major brands, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), academia, trade unions, civil society and associations in a deliberative process to reorient the system and reduce the waste of resources each year with a value greater than the GDP of most countries.
Each year, approximately 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste)
Less than 20% of this is recycled formally. Informally, millions of people worldwide (over 600,000 in China alone) work to dispose of e-waste, much of it done in working conditions harmful to both health and the environment.
The report, “A New Circular Vision for Electronics – Time for a Global Reboot,” launched in Davos 24 January, says technologies such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT), support gradual “dematerialization” of the electronics industry.
Meanwhile, to capture the global value of materials in the e-waste and create global circular value chains, the report also points to the use of new technology to create service business models, better product tracking and manufacturer or retailer take-back programs.
The report notes that material efficiency, recycling infrastructure and scaling up the volume and quality of recycled materials to meet the needs of electronics supply chains will all be essential for future production.
And if the electronics sector is supported
The joint report calls for collaboration with multinationals, SMEs, entrepreneurs, academia, trade unions, civil society and associations to create a circular economy for electronics where waste is designed out, the environmental impact is reduced and decent work is created for millions.
The new report supports the work of the E-waste Coalition, which includes:
- International Labour Organization (ILO);
- International Telecommunication Union (ITU);
- United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment);
- United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO);
- United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR);
- United Nations University (UNU), and
- Secretariats of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions (BRS).
The Coalition is supported by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Economic Forum and coordinated by the Secretariat of the Environment Management Group (EMG).
Considerable work is being done on the ground. For example, in order to grasp the opportunity of the circular economy, today the Nigerian Government, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN Environment announce a 2 million dollar investment to kick off the formal e-waste recycling industry in Nigeria. The new investment will leverage over 13 million dollars in additional financing from the private sector.
According to the International Labour Organization, in Nigeria up 100,000 people work in the informal e-waste sector. This investment will help to create a system which formalizes these workers, giving them safe and decent employment while capturing the latent value in Nigeria’s 500,000 tonnes of e-waste.
UNIDO collaborates with a large number of organizations on e-waste projects, including UNU, ILO, ITU, and WHO, as well as various other partners, such as Dell and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA). In the Latin American and Caribbean region, a UNIDO e-waste project, co-funded by GEF, seeks to support sustainable economic and social growth in 13 countries. From upgrading e-waste recycling
Another Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) report launched today by the World Economic Forum, with support from Accenture Strategy, outlines a future in which Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies provide a tool to achieve a circular economy efficiently and effectively, and where all physical materials are accompanied by a digital dataset (like a passport or fingerprint for materials), creating an ‘internet of materials.’ PACE is a collaboration mechanism and project accelerator hosted by the World Economic Forum which brings together 50 leaders from business, government and international organizations to collaborate in moving towards the circular economy.
Matrics must prepare for AI
By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.
Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.
With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.
Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.
Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist.
So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?
For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.
In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.
This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.
In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.
As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.
This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.
The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.