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Software-defined data centres key to digital business

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Global Big Data revenues are expected to grow to just under $38 billion and cloud computing service revenues to more than $4 billion in 2016. MATTHEW LEE, Regional Manager for Africa at SUSE, looks at the growth of software-defined data centres.

There are market and technology forces at play that are driving the evolution of the data centre. If companies are to remain relevant for their stakeholders, they need to be able to adapt to these changing data requirements. Not only is the role of data becoming more integral in the success of a business, but it has become an indispensable tool for interpreting and analysing the sheer amount of information at the disposal of decision-makers.

In essence, software-defined data centres virtualise all elements of the infrastructure such as networking, storage, security, and processing power and runs it as a service. With the focus being on flexibility, scalability, and redundancy, the potential impact this will have on business models is significant.

Inside the organisation, CIOs have to be even more responsive to new service demands than before. Given the pressure of ever-decreasing budgets, they no longer have the luxury of throwing resources at challenges if they have to start playing catch-up to their competitors. This means investment in technology is done based on how quickly it can benefit the organisation and how it aligns to the business strategy.

What this boils down to is the fact that legacy applications alone are no longer good enough to meet the on-demand requirements of today’s digital business.

One of the benefits of the software-defined data centre is the fact that it gives organisations complete control over their hosted environments and the associated resources utilised. And because many solutions are built on open source components, easier integration into many of the existing company processes and system are ensured. This minimises any potential disruption and gives decision-makers the peace of mind to remain focused on meeting their business deliverables.

This modern data centre also means companies get access to specialised applications that simplify tasks and provide them with competitive advantage. It extends to business models that are more flexible and cater for anything from pay-as-you-use models to self-service IT and the capacity to quickly scale up or down as business needs change.

A digital business is required to be more agile when it comes to IT solutions than in the past. Across industry sectors, companies can ill afford to be stuck with a legacy approach only that is inflexible and cannot provide the innovation required to move beyond complexity. A virtualised approach addresses these issues. While understanding the importance of Big Data and the cloud was a first step, moving towards these more innovative data centres has to be the next.

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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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