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Security rises to top in application delivery

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For the first time, security surpasses availability to become the number-one priority for application deployment as organizations move to the cloud.

F5 Networks announced the EMEA results of its 2017 State of Application Delivery report. The only global report of its kind is now in its third year, surveying over 2,000 IT, networking, application, and security professionals worldwide to examine the role application services play in allowing enterprises to deploy apps faster, smarter and more securely.

EMEA is set for a dynamic year in this respect, as the average organisation plans to deploy 18 app services in the next 12 months, compared to the 2016 global average of just 11. As the threat landscape continues to evolve in complexity, speed and availability were for the first time deemed less important that overall application protection, with the most important services cited including network firewalls, anti-virus and SSL VPN solutions.

An era of cloud expertise

The highest area of investment for 2017 in EMEA was the use of on-premise private clouds (46 per cent). Almost half of respondents (48 per cent) stated the private cloud would have the most strategic importance to their organisation in the next two to five years, and that three quarters (76 per cent) of their apps would be in the cloud by 2017.

The most important security feature was that the cloud should provide the same level of security and auditability as other similar on premises services (61 per cent). This hints that organisations are concerned about the disruption moving to the cloud can have on operations.

Nevertheless, respondents indicated that a shift towards a more agile, multi-cloud world is gaining momentum. Globally, four out of five respondents indicated they are adopting hybrid cloud models. The main challenge here is maintaining consistent security policies across multiple environments (25 per cent of respondents).

“Businesses are putting their money where their strategy is when it comes to cloud,” said Martin Walshaw, senior engineer, F5 Networks.

“There are still challenges to overcome but the global shift to embrace hybrid scenario clearly shows a growing recognition that agility and speed can be achieved without compromising security, provided there are consistent policies and solutions in place.”

On a global scale, the more apps a company has deployed, the greater motivation to reap the operational benefits of the cloud, with respondents running the largest number of applications (3,000+) reporting the highest percentage of apps in the cloud.

Sophisticated cyber-attacks changing priorities

A new era of security vigilance is required as security teams expand beyond traditional firewalls and legacy enterprise perimeters. Organisations with a web application firewall (WAF) and DDoS mitigation services had the highest confidence in their ability to withstand an application-level attack and interestingly, cloud-first organisations have more confidence in their security.

“This past year, not a week went by without some hack or vulnerability making the headlines,” said Walshaw.

“And yet there is no sign that security breaches are slowing digital transformation. Our report shows how the sometimes-competing demands of customer and data protection inform companies’ deployment of apps and app services, and can usher in security best practice at a time when it’s needed most.”

The top security challenges cited were the increased sophistication of attacks (64 per cent) followed by employees underestimating the impact of not following security policy (53 per cent). However, despite over half naming employees as one of the top challenges, a third (32 per cent) admitted a lack of IT security skills or training within a company was challenging.

Operational scale and programmability rise to the top for DevOps

On a global scale, the increase in app services and continued expansion to the cloud is driving organisations to automation and orchestration to scale operations across environments.  As a result, over half of respondents now view API-enabled infrastructures and templates as important, up from 31 per cent and 22 per cent last year, respectively. Scalability and OpEx reduction remain the top two drivers for the use of SDN frameworks, and companies are increasingly showing a tendency toward standardisation, with 39 per cent relying on only one framework in 2017, compared to 32 per cent in 2016.

Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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Sports streaming takes off

Live streaming of sports is coming of age as a mainstream method of viewing big games, as the latest FIFA World Cup figures from the UK show. Africa isn’t yet at the same level when it comes to the adoption of sports streaming, but usage is clearly moving in the right direction.

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England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden was watched by just under 20 million viewers in the UK via BBC One. While this traditional broadcast audience was huge, it was streaming that broke records: the game was the BBC’s most popular online-viewed live programme ever, with 3.8 million views. In Africa, the absolute numbers are lower but the trend towards streaming major sports events on the continent is also well under way.

According to DStv, live streaming of sports dominates the usage figures for its live and recorded TV streaming app, DStv Now. The number of people using the app in June was five times higher than a year ago, with concurrent views peaking during major football and rugby games.

Since the start of the World Cup, average weekday usage of DStv Now is up 60%. The absolute peak in concurrent usage for one event was reached on 26 June, during the Nigeria vs Argentina game. The app’s biggest ever test was on 16 June with both Springbok Rugby and World Cup Football under way at the same time, resulting in concurrent in-app views seven times higher than the peaks seen in June last year.

The World Cup has also been a major reason for new users to download and try out the app. First-time app user volumes have tripled on Android and doubled on iOS since the start of the tournament.

“While we expected live sports streaming to take off, it’s also been pleasing to see that the app is really popular for watching shows on Catch Up,” says MultiChoice South Africa Chief Operating Officer Mark Rayner. “Interestingly, some of the most popular Catch Up shows are local, with Isibaya, Binnelanders, The Queen and The River all getting a significant number of views.”

With respect to app usage, the web and Android apps are the most popular way to watch DStv Now, with Android outpacing iOS by a factor of 2:1.

“We’re continuing to develop DStv Now, with 4k streaming in testing and smart TV and Apple TV apps on their way shortly,” says Rayner. “The other key priority for us is working with the telcos to deliver mobile data propositions that make watching online painless and worry-free for our customers.”

The DStv Now app is free to all 10 million DStv customers in Africa. The app streams DStv live channels as well as supplying an extended Catch Up library. Two separate streams can be watched on different devices simultaneously, and content can also be downloaded to smartphones and tablets. The content available on the app varies according to the DStv package subscribed to.

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