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Oracle expands to all-flash

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Oracle has expanded its flash storage portfolio with the announcement of an all-flash model of its Oracle FS1 Flash Storage System.

The new system delivers capacity scaling and flash provisioning and is designed to handle concurrent mixed workloads, such as OLTP and high-speed data backup, in enterprise SAN environments as well as in private or public clouds.

It delivers up to 64 all-flash domains for highly-secure data isolation in multitenant cloud environments, I/O prioritization based on business value, scales to nearly 1 PB of raw flash capacity, and goes from pallet to power-on in less than 30 minutes.

All Flash FS1 demonstrates better I/O performance and low latency with minimal falloff. Tests performed for customers show sub-one millisecond latency when running simultaneous workloads across small to large block sizes with up to 8x faster IOPS and 9.7x faster write throughput than EMC XtremIO. As a result, All Flash FS1 can reduce Oracle Database I/O wait times and effectively give customers back time for projects that can help drive a company’s top-line growth and bottom-line savings.

Oracle All Flash FS1 is the only all-flash storage system co-engineered with Oracle Database and Applications and delivers business benefits to customers when deployed with Oracle software, from data compression to one-click application provisioning. All Flash FS1 is able to take advantage of Oracle Hybrid Columnar Compression, available only to Oracle Storage. Hybrid Columnar Compression typically delivers a 10:1 compression ratio, nearly twice the data reduction usually obtained with deduplication techniques, reducing storage capacity requirements and accelerating Oracle Database queries. While encrypted Oracle Database data can’t be deduplicated, it can be compressed with Hybrid Columnar Compression, providing significantly higher levels of security to customers and maintaining Oracle Database best practices.

All Flash FS1 also features Flash Profiles, which provide pre-tuned and optimized provisioning profiles for Oracle Database and enterprise applications to simplify and accelerate flash storage provisioning and application deployment.

“High latency has impacted customers on shared storage platforms for years, slowing down OLTP response times and preventing mixed workloads from running at full speed. Customers are looking to flash to address these issues,” said Mike Workman, senior vice president, Flash Storage Systems, Oracle. “Oracle All Flash FS1 dramatically reduces I/O wait times typically seen in today’s highly virtualized, transaction-driven enterprises where low latency is critical to response time. This superior performance combined with unique features, such as Flash Domains and Flash Profiles, make the All Flash FS1 the platform for customers who want to significantly accelerate their applications in SAN and secure cloud environments.”

“Oracle practitioners in our community expect the highest levels of data integrity and security coupled with predictable performance,” said David Vellante, chief research officer, Wikibon. “Products such as the All Flash FS1 are riding the flash price/performance curve and promise to deliver dramatically lower latency and consistent response times at an affordable price. This can significantly reduce the effort required to deliver what are often among the most stringent service level requirements in IT.”

“With their introduction of the Oracle All Flash FS1, which was engineered from the ground up to maximize Oracle Database performance and scale, Oracle enters the ranks of what IDC defines as the ‘true All Flash Array (AFA) vendors’,” said Eric Burgener, research director, Storage, IDC.  “AFAs feature unique designs that are specifically optimized for flash media, delivering more consistent performance across their entire throughput range than Hybrid Flash Arrays, and making them the storage platform of choice for application environments that demand the highest levels of performance.”

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

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.

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