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Next big things for big business in 2018

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We are constantly seeing rapid changes in the IT industry but what does next year hold in store for us? THOMAS DI GIACOMO, CTO at SUSE outlines a few developments bound to make headlines.

There are some big things set to come in 2018. In fact, we are seeing numerous significant developments in the world of enterprise IT. These include the emergence of the container infrastructure ecosystem, a continued move to hybrid cloud and the growth in software-defined infrastructure and storage. So, what is to come over the next twelve months and how should IT teams be preparing for any incoming changes?

Maturation of hybrid cloud strategies

There’s a chance that within the coming years the public cloud landscape will diversify. Consulting organisations are developing their own managed cloud services for example, some local public cloud players are becoming more global as well, so we’re seeing more and more cloud providers emerge. Of course, going entirely public cloud poses a risk for lock-in and, as a result, organisations are looking to a hybrid approach. If you do all your compute and have all your data in the same public cloud than you are likely to be locked in, but you avoid this by looking at a hybrid/multi cloud strategy. Consequently, we will see many more organisations subscribing to a hybrid cloud approach.

Hybrid cloud is a reality that enterprise IT must face, not only enabling different clouds to run together but also to maintain and manage them for a long time. Having workloads and data running and being stored agnostically on any type of cloud is definitely key. There are more solutions emerging in this space and this growth in competition may put pressure on their price – for non-open source solutions, that is.

Container ecosystem expansion, and consolidation?

Kubernetes, an open-source orchestration engine, exploded onto the scene two years ago as a way to automate deployment, scale, and manage containerised applications. It has already won the war for container orchestration dominance, and experts predict further rapid adoption over the next few years as organisations realise its full potential.

The next step for the technology is around container eco-system at large. That’s to say security for containers, service meshing and management, networking, management, and storage is the next thing for Kubernetes and the container world to tackle. We are already starting to see all of that happening, and this is set to be a big focus for the next year. As adoption and maturity develop, one of the questions is also if we will see a consolidation of Kubernetes-based solutions and companies in the market already from next year or slightly later.

Hardware – the new software

For some time now, software has been the main topic of discussion when it comes to giving organisations a competitive advantage through technology. However, it’s important we don’t forget about hardware, which is now more important than ever before.

We’re seeing trends emerge such as open hardware, with compute power not only for traditional high-performance computing (HPC) use cases but also some of the new trends we are seeing around machine learning, deep learning and quantum computing, with specialised processing units being used to optimise specific types of computations. This is set to be even more important in the coming years, with the quantum computing market alone set to be worth almost $500 million by 2023.

Being open about being open

The next year will be about figuring out how to combine various emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). Yet, it’s not just about combining these together, but also learning how to integrate emerging technology with existing infrastructure. The combination of big data and existing analytics with AI is one good example of technologies that can be combined with each other to work effectively, so it’s important that we find ways to combine and manage them together.

From an open source perspective, if we’re ever going to achieve success with combining the stack, organisations need to be opening up and working with competitors for the best chance of success. The number of combinations is huge and getting even larger, so it’s more important than ever to be open.

Since the beginning of Linux 26 years ago, we’ve seen enterprise Linux expanded and fragmented with lots of solutions, then consolidated. In the coming year and beyond, it’s vital that the industry continues to make the most of the open source community and use the resources available rather than take a ‘DIY’ approach. IT leaders need to look to the open source community for growing technologies like Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and containerisation, focusing on the business value of the technology itself as opposed to building anything from scratch.

In 2018, we’re set to see the maturation of various technologies, from containers and hybrid cloud to AI. Most importantly, these technologies need to be able to work collaboratively – with each other and with existing infrastructure – if we’re to see them deployed successfully and provide real business value to organisations in the coming months and years.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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