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Mobility demands more storage

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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.

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Now for hardware-as-a-service

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Integrated ICT and Infrastructure provider Vox has entered into an exclusive partnership with Go Rentals to introduce a Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) offering, which is aimed at providing local small and medium businesses (SMEs) with quick, affordable, and scalable access to a wide variety of IT infrastructure – as well as the management thereof.

“Despite an increasingly competitive business environment where every rand counts, many business owners are still buying technology-based equipment outright rather than renting it,” says Barry Kemp, Head of Managed IT at Vox. “The problem with this is that the modern device arena has grown in variety and complexity, making it more difficult to manage, and to reduce the overheads of controlling these devices.”

According to Kemp, there is a global trend being observed in businesses moving away from owning and managing IT infrastructure. This started with the move away from servers and toward cloud-based subscription services, and now organisations are looking to do the same with the remaining on-premise hardware – employees’ desktop systems.

The availability of HaaS changes the way in which local businesses consume IT, by allowing them to direct valuable capital expenditure toward the more efficient and competitive operation of their organisation, rather than spending on hardware products. 

“The rental costs are up to 50% lower than if they buy these products through traditional asset financing methods. Furthermore, using HaaS gives businesses the ability to scale up and down depending on their infrastructure requirements. Customers on a 12 month contract can return up to 10% of the devices rented, while those customers on 24 and 36 month contracts can return up to 20% of the devices – at any time during the contract,” adds Kemp.

More than just a rental

HaaS gives business access to repurposed Tier 1 hardware from vendors such as Dell, HP and Lenovo, equipped with the required specifications (processor, memory, and storage), and come installed with the latest Microsoft Windows operating system, unless an older version is specifically requested by the customer.

Kemp says: “Where HaaS is different from simply renting IT hardware is that businesses get full asset lifecycle management, such as having all company software pre-installed, flexible refresh cycles and upgrades, support and warranty management and transparent and predictable per user monthly fees.”

The ability to upgrade during the contract period means that businesses can keep pace with the latest in technology without needing to invest on depreciating equipment, while ensuring maximum productivity and efficiency for employees. Returned devices are put through a decommissioning process that ensures anonymity, certified data protection, and environmental compliance. 

Businesses further stand to benefit from Vox Care, which incorporates asset management and logistical services for customers. This includes initial delivery and setup in major centres, asset tagging of all rented items, creation, and the repair and/or replacement of faulty machines within three business days – again in the main metropolitan areas. 

Vox Care also assists in the design, testing and deployment of custom images, whereby HaaS clients can have the additional programmes they need (security, productivity tools, business software, etc) easily pre-installed along with the Windows operating system, on all their machines.

Kemp says HaaS customers can get further peace of mind by outsourcing the day to day management of their desktop environment to Vox Managed Services, as well as leverage the company’s knowledge and expertise to manage and host workstation backups to ensure business continuity.

Says Kemp: “Hardware-as-a-Service allows businesses to reduce the total cost of ownership of their hardware and ensure they only pay for what they use. Making the switch to a service model helps them take advantage of the global move in this direction, and to turn their business into a highly functional, flexible, low cost, change your mind whenever you want workplace.”

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Seedstars seeks tech to reverse land degradation in Africa

A new partnership is offering prizes to young entrepreneurs for coming up with innovations that tackle the loss of arable land in Africa.

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The DOEN Foundation has joined forces with Seedstars, an emerging market startup community, to launch the DOEN Land Restoration Prize, which showcases solutions to environmental, social and financial challenges that focus on land restoration activities in Africa. Stichting DOEN is a Dutch fund that supports green, socially-inclusive and creative initiatives that contribute to a better and cleaner world.

While land degradation and deforestation date back millennia, industrialization and a rising population have dramatically accelerated the process. Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.

Currently, nearly two-thirds of Africa’s land is degraded, which hinders sustainable economic development and resilience to climate change. As a result, Africa has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent: more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) of degraded forest landscapes that can be restored. The potential benefits include improved food and water security, biodiversity protection, climate change resilience, and economic growth. Recognizing this opportunity, the African Union set an ambitious target to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.

Land restoration is an urgent response to the poor management of land. Forest and landscape restoration is the process of reversing the degradation of soils, agricultural areas, forests, and watersheds thereby regaining their ecological functionality. According to the World Resources Institute, for every $1 invested in land restoration it can yield $7-$30 in benefits, and now is the time to prove it.

The winner of the challenge will be awarded 9 months access to the Seedstars Investment Readiness Program, the hybrid program challenging traditional acceleration models by creating a unique mix to improve startup performance and get them ready to secure investment. They will also access a 10K USD grant.

“Our current economic system does not meet the growing need to improve our society ecologically and socially,” says Saskia Werther, Program Manager at the DOEN Foundation. “The problems arising from this can be tackled only if a different economic system is considered. DOEN sees opportunities to contribute to this necessary change. After all, the world is changing rapidly and the outlines of a new economy are becoming increasingly clear. This new economy is circular and regenerative. Landscape restoration is a vital part of this regenerative economy and social entrepreneurs play an important role to establish innovative business models to counter land degradation and deforestation. Through this challenge, DOEN wants to highlight the work of early-stage restoration enterprises and inspire other frontrunners to follow suit.”

Applications are open now and will be accepted until October 15th. Startups can apply here: http://seedsta.rs/doen

To enter the competition, startups should meet the following criteria:

  • Existing startups/young companies with less than 4 years of existence
  • Startups that can adapt their current solution to the land restoration space
  • The startup must have a demonstrable product or service (Minimum Viable Product, MVP)
  • The startup needs to be scalable or have the potential to reach scalability in low resource areas.
  • The startup can show clear environmental impact (either by reducing a negative impact or creating a positive one)
  • The startup can show a clear social impact
  • Technology startups, tech-enabled startups and/or businesses that can show a clear innovation component (e.g. in their business model)

Also, a specific emphasis is laid, but not limited to: Finance the restoration of degraded land for production and/or conservation purposes; big data and technology to reverse land degradation; resource efficiency optimization technologies, ecosystems impacts reduction and lower carbon emissions; water-saving soil technologies; technologies focused on improving livelihoods and communities ; planning, management and education tools for land restoration; agriculture (with a focus on precision conservation) and agroforestry; clean Energy solutions that aid in the combat of land degradation; and responsible ecotourism that aids in the support of land restoration.

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