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Open cloud powers business

Both IT organisations and cloud service providers need an open cloud platform that enables them to easy build, deploy and manage cloud applications in a more agile, scalable manner to deliver customer-focused innovation, says CHEN KUN.

ICT innovation is reshaping virtually every aspect of life and work to create thriving, prosperous societies. For enterprises, big data analytics, mobility and the Internet of Things (IoT) are driving the next wave of digital business innovation, and cloud is the key enabler for this new era.

Organisations are no longer questioning whether they should use the cloud – they are well aware of the possibilities and are looking at how they can use it to achieve corporate goals. Most organisations move to the cloud to gain agility, flexibility and speed, but the cloud also plays an important role in reducing costs, with enterprises often achieving significant savings when running their services on cloud.

In fact, by reducing the complexity and costs associated with traditional IT approaches, the cloud is enabling enterprises to shift resources to strategic activities that create business innovation and value.

But as cloud choices are growing rapidly, critical decisions have to be made. Cloud requires careful planning and testing to ensure the deployment of high-performing solutions and services.

Hybrid Cloud Challenges

Enterprises can adopt cloud in two ways: private cloud and public cloud. A private cloud is a cloud platform built and owned by companies themselves, whereas a public cloud utilises cloud services rendered over a network that is open for public use.

A hybrid delivery model that combines traditional IT, private cloud and public cloud, is the most likely option as enterprises move to the cloud. A hybrid cloud offers maximum asset utilisation and cost-effectiveness, leverages IT security, and provides high IT availability and service flexibility.

However, most hybrid cloud solutions are isolated, homogeneous solutions. What’s more, public cloud within hybrid cloud is prone to security and network instability risks. Therefore, enterprises face challenges when deploying or migrating their service applications on a hybrid cloud.

The adoption of hybrid cloud has been slow in South Africa. Two of the major reasons are the concerns over the shortage of reliable infrastructure, such as energy which impacts communications, and sufficient high-speed fibre which are the foundations for using hybrid cloud. This, together with concerns of security and migration costs, causes companies to prefer using private cloud. However, with recent developments, these concerns are being addressed with more fibre being deployed, which will enable the practical use of hybrid clouds.

Demand for Cloud Service Brokerage

As enterprises move to the cloud, they are increasingly looking to cloud services brokerage (CSB), which provides third-party assistance to set up and run cloud services. The goal of CSB is to make the service more specific to a company, or to integrate or aggregate services in order to enhance their security, or to do anything which adds a significant layer of value (i.e. capabilities) to the original cloud services being offered. They offer at least one of three capabilities:

·         Cloud Service Intermediation: An intermediation broker provides value-added services on top of existing cloud platforms, such as identity or access management capabilities.

·         Aggregation: An aggregation broker provides the “glue” to bring together multiple services and ensure the interoperability and security of data between systems.

·         Cloud Service Arbitrage: A cloud service arbitrage provides flexibility and “opportunistic choices” by offering multiple similar services to select from.

As IT moves from on-premise to the cloud, CSBs will play an increasingly important role in helping companies efficiently navigate and deploy cloud services, particularly for mission-critical applications, where the company cannot risk issues with deployment. In fact, the global CSB market will grow from $1.6 billion in 2013 to $10.5 billion by 2018, growing 46.2 percent per year, according to MarketsandMarkets.

However, internal CSBs are also emerging within IT departments to deliver cloud-based services and ensure third party compliance with enterprise security and governance policies. Moving forward, effective brokering will be essential for cloud-enabled enterprises.

One trend that is easing the job of cloud service brokers is the increasing standardisation of services and platforms on which enterprise applications are being developed and deployed.

Open Cloud Drives Enterprise Transformation

Both IT organisations and CSBs need an open cloud platform that enables them to rapidly build, deploy and manage cloud applications in a more agile, scalable manner to deliver the ultimate customer-focused innovation. An effective cloud platform that is able to seamlessly run computing, storage, and network resources from different vendors on the same data centre, can help the integration and optimisation of existing data centres and service platforms, and enhancing service system reliability and IT operating efficiency.

Creating a healthy cloud ecosystem across the Internet industry through open, integrated, and innovative technologies and strong partnerships, is the foundation of the new cloud era. Huawei adheres to the principles of openness, cooperation and win-win partnership, and is committed to working with industry alliance partners to provide organisations with innovative cloud solutions that accelerate their cloud journeys.

* Chen Kun, Vice President of Cloud Computing, IT Product Line, Huawei Technologies

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Cisco gives pre-owned tech a Refresh

In a market of constant upgrades, Cisco Refresh aims to keep quality product away from landfills, writes BRYAN TURNER.

When one gets a new smartphone upgrade, the old device may be used as a backup or can be used by someone else. In business environments, equipment upgrades may not be conducive to keeping old equipment around, which may send older, working equipment to landfills.

This is where Cisco’s Refresh initiative comes in. At Cisco Connect in Sun City this week, Ehrika Gladden, VP and general manager of Cisco Refresh, lifted the lid on a little-known aspect of the company’s strategy. 

“Refresh is Cisco’s global pre-owned equipment business unit,” said Gladden. “It is certified to meet the quality and engineering standards of Cisco. It is licensed for software and it’s also inclusive of a services warranty.

“Our responsibility in 80 countries around the world is tied to both the recovery of assets and the ability to leverage those assets at a lower price point. This ensures our sustainability and proper usage of the Earth’s resources while providing access to small and medium businesses. The products are typically in the range of 20-40% cheaper. The products represent the entire portfolio for Cisco in some part, the majority of that product set is 2+ years in terms of generation.”

Cisco’s Circular Economy initiative ensures a sustainable loop through businesses willing to pay a premium for the latest, cutting-edge solutions, while Cisco markets older, working equipment for resale to those who don’t require the latest solutions. This ensures far less new components need to be used in a product range.

“We are leveraging the model of remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and reusing,” said Gladden. “Depending on the product set, there is a certain set of product yield that we expect. They vary from product to product, but we do have a percentage that doesn’t make it through.

“Those are always reused, meaning we will look at those products and decide to use them completely differently, leveraging the components, remanufacturing back into the overall build process. If that can’t be done, we will go into a recycle process where we melt those products down to reuse them.”

Repairing and refurbishing older products isn’t just that. Cisco is creating repair centres that are owned by third-parties to uplift local ownership.

“The repair centres, as a global manufacturer, is Cisco’s entree into local ownership,” said Gladden. “I want to be precise about what I mean by local ownership. It’s critical for us to have a localised presence, but doing that through ownership. When you look at inclusive economies, those that are participative, to be sustainable – not in the product set, but generationally.

“The ability as a global manufacturer through a local ownership model  isto create a repair centre where a product can be returned, screened, tested, and repaired, leveraging the talent that the Networking Academy is creating.”

Cisco is working closely with local governments to understand where it operates and how to leverage the skills in the market.

Gladden said: “We are also super excited about the National Development Plan and African Union statements which with we align: eradication of poverty, job creation, ownership, healthcare, education, it all fits in the model. So we were very excited to have the opportunity to come to Africa first to announce this. Over the next twelve months, we want to establish our first repair centres, and in the next 3 to 5 years, build that vision into a reality.”

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Why Data Privacy has become a Pipe Dream

If you’re active on WhatsApp, Facebook or any other social platform, you’re not as safe as you thought, writes
AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd

As you begin to read this, let’s perform a quick experiment! How many active conversations are you engaged in – right now – on WhatsApp? When was the last time you shared a picture or video on Instagram? Is Facebook currently open and active on one of your devices? And how many internet- connected devices are you using at this moment? Chances are, you have multiple devices running multiple applications most of the time. So what’s the problem, you ask? Since when did checking in with a high school buddy in Australia via Facebook become a dangerous act?  

In reply, we say, read on if you can stomach it!  

Nation-State Hacking & You  

It might seem like a laughably long shot to say that you are a key player in the increasingly sinister and sophisticated world of nation-state hacking. Well, you are. Given that individuals, businesses and governments are now constantly connected, round the clock, consumers and businesses have become fair game in cyber espionage. And as we create and share more and more data, both the value and accessibility of that data increases. According to a report by McAfee, IP theft now accounts for more than 25% of the estimated $600 billion cost of cybercrime to the world economy.    

With data having become the ‘new gold’, nation states are naturally pouring investment and key resources into building advanced cyber warfare tools. Indeed, entire divisions of armed forces as well as the upper echelons of corporate leadership are devising ways to harness data to gain economic, political and social power. At the highest level, tools and platforms are being developed with the specific aim of perpetrating cyber espionage and data theft. No surprise then, that the consumer and business environments are rife with increasingly advanced malware, ransomware and many other malicious hacking tools and methods.  

Still not convinced? Yes, we can smell the scepticism from here! So let’s take a moment to see how this has already played out, beneath our noses.  

Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of early 2018? For many, this was a watershed moment in the emerging war for consumer data – and the ensuing tensions between privacy, power and profit. Need a refresh? Well, in 2018, Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign. In essence, the data was harvested without user consent and used for political purposes.  

Another chilling but less direct example can be found in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. According to Politico, Russia launched a massive social media campaign to ‘sow discord’ leading up to the elections. The website reported that as early as 2014, an infamous Russian “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency – a company linked to Russian president Putin – developed a strategy using fraudulent bank accounts and other fake identity documents to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” 

When referring to the Russian hacks and their impact on election results, one U.S. Representative sagely noted: “They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it.” 

Ignorance is not bliss 

Okay, so data is being ‘weaponized’, and ordinary people and businesses are being caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare. A little bit frightening, but the good news is that savvy individuals like you can take steps to protect personal data and actively combat the creeping influence of juggernauts such as Facebook and Google.  

To begin with, awareness is key. As you engage with various platforms and applications at work and at home, take time to understand how your data is being used and what the terms of use are. Is your data being accessed and sold to advertisers? Have you consented to this? In addition to scrutinizing your consent, also pay close attention to how much data you share online – and the nature of the details you are divulging. Always keep in mind that hackers are employing smart social engineering tactics and using the details of your private life (birthdays, holidays, pet’s names, etc) to trick you into opening infected emails and clicking on malware. Whenever you are online, you are a target – and vigilance at all times is critical. Beyond that, it goes without saying that you must commit to following basic security protocols with your devices. So always keep software up to date and keep your data backed up so that you can reboot or wipe a device if needed.   

Now that we’ve left you sufficiently spooked, you can get back to those demanding WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram notifications (same company, by the way)…albeit, we hope, with a slightly altered [cyber] worldview!  

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