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Open cloud powers business

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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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SA startups in Visa final

Leading fintech companies from the Sub-Sahara Africa technology startup community have made it to the finals of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative.

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Among the 12 chosen, from the 238 total entries, South African startups Howler and FinChatBot will compete against innovators from across Sub Sahara Africa for a chance to secure funding of up to US$50,000 to develop their ideas when the initiative concludes in Johannesburg on July 24. 

Fintechs in Africa are making incredible strides; not only to bring more convenience to consumers, but also to enable people who would not otherwise have access to financial services or even a way to connect to the formal banking system. Venture funding for African startups jumped by 51% to $195 million in 2017 and fintech in Africa is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years as it continues to disrupt the traditional financial sector. With a clear goal of reducing reliance on cash, building digital payment based economies and increasing financial inclusion, Visa is committed to fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and driving innovation in its payments landscape. 

The Sub Saharan Africa edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative challenged local fintech startup to deliver solutions based around three real life business challenges: 

  • How can startups leverage Visa Developer APIs to either:  Enable smaller merchants to accept payments in-store digitally OR Provide a safe and secure solution for online merchants to drive eCommerce and reduce cash on delivery?
  • How can startups use Visa’s APIs to leverage mass reach and social media partner platforms like Facebook to help businesses operating in fast-paced consumer centric environments improve cash flow and receive payments? 
  • How can startups leverage technology to provide services that are functional for illiterate customers to provide them with secure transaction experiences that build and enhance their confidence in the banking system?. 

Entrants were asked to submit ideas to leverage Visa’s network and technologies to resolve against at least one of the challenges. One winner per brief will be selected, with each receiving funding of US$25,000. Winners will be invited to a working meeting with Visa and may be presented with the opportunity to create a prototype. Visa will then select one overall winner to receive an additional US$25,000.

Geraldine Mitchley, Senior Director – Digital Solutions, Sub-Sahara Africa, Visa, said: “We are delighted with the response to our Visa’s Everywhere Initiative and the quality of submissions we received is an indication of the region’s rich talent pool and innovative spirit.”

“Launching this innovation program in the region has been an exciting time for the Visa SSA team, and the takeup reflects Africa’s enthusiasm to develop and pioneer solutions to the continent’s challenge – particularly in the payments technology space. I would like to congratulate the finalists and  wish them luck as they enter the final stretch.  When they come together for the final, they will not only have the chance to turn their ideas into reality, but also potentially help shape the future of payments in the region.”  

Howler which enables cashless transactions and end-to-end ticket handling for consumers and event organisers is competing in the first challenge and FinChatBot, which aims to automate part of customer services for financial service providers through AI-powered conversations is competing in the third challenge. 

The SSA edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative will wrap up on July 24 in Johannesburg, with each finalist having an opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges from Visa and the payments industry. 

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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