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Unlock Open Source value

Open source software is a powerful springboard for innovation and collaboration. When harnessed correctly it can enhance data security, expedite services through innovative coding and development, as well as unlock restrictions to commercial freedom, writes SIMON MCCULLOUGH, Major Channel Account Manager, F5 Networks.

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The spirit of collaboration and peer-to-peer problem solving is particularly important at a time when cybersecurity threats are escalating the complexity of security and compliance. The need for trust in the app development and delivery space is also intensifying.

In some circles, experts believe open source is on the wane. I strongly disagree. At its best, open source software explodes barriers to progress and accelerate innovation in ways licensed software with all its legislative impediments can only dream about. Furthermore, adopting open software as a strategy means users can add value and diversify with more speed and flexibility than ever before – all while raising overall operational standards.

A good use-case of open source’s adaptability is its ability to raise awareness of major threats, such as backdoors. How else can a vast community of developers converge, connect and forensically interrogate code to identify if something is truly secure or has vulnerabilities affecting crucial assets like applications and infrastructure?

According to Eric Marks, VP of Cloud Consulting at CloudSpectator, open source is “is getting more popular, not less, and more components are offered in this format.” Speaking to the Foresight Factory’s recently launched Future of Multi-cloud (FOMC) report, he added that it is “becoming more and more viable” and that we will soon see “a full IT stack that is entirely built from open source components.”

Another key benefit of open source is its inherent capacity to bridge existing interoperability gaps. For instance, with a multi-cloud strategy, enterprises have more freedom to easily assign workloads to public clouds best suited to specific tasks, including speed, agility, and security. It is notable that many enterprises are currently and convincingly increasing multi-cloud flexibility and avoiding historic cost impediments with open source using resources, including Kubernetes or OpenStack.

According to some expert contributors to the FOMC report, a lack of open source options could adversely hit the development of user-friendly and intelligent multi-cloud dashboards and various levels of abstraction (i.e. security, monitoring, compliance, and containers). It could also inhibit the ability to communicate between multiple clouds due to the increasing complexity of controlled proprietary platforms.

While open source may have multifarious and vocal detractors, it is important that we are not intimidated by negativity or prompted to stifle its potentially paradigm-shifting influence in any way.

The non-profit open.ai research organisation is a case in point. Exclusively founded to grapple with the life-altering impact of artificial intelligence, it was explicitly committed to open sourcing its software and sharing research findings from the outset.

To solve big problems, we clearly need big collaborations and nimble mindsets. The problems stemming from different industry sectors adopting technology at different rates due to strict security policies and diverse commercial objectives is another example. Open source can overcome all those issues and help standardise on best practice. It can also offer consumers more choice, including access to free versions of cloud-based services like storage, not to mention spark technological entrepreneurialism by avoiding the high costs of licensed software.

Fundamentally, open source is a conduit for new forms of collaboration and productive dialogue that can push businesses to the next phase of progressive digital engagement. By driving value across the entire ecosystem of creation through service innovation, organisations can gain greater visibility into their applications’ performance and understand what is happening across different cloud and enterprise environments. Furthermore, adopting an open source culture helps people more readily share best practice and nurture protocols for coding excellence, which in turn ensures secure data protection and accountability.

Organisations should never fear disruptive technology or new methodologies. Major digital shifts are imminent. The pressure to stay ahead of the technological curve has never been greater. We could all do with being more openminded to open source and embracing its associated freedoms.

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Rain, Telkom Mobile, lead in affordable data

A new report by the telecoms regulator in South Africa reveal the true consumer champions in mobile data costs

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The latest bi-annual tariff analysis report produced by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) reveals that Telkom Mobile data costs for bundles are two-thirds lower than those of Vodacom and MTN. On the other hand, Rain is half the price again of Telkom. 

The report focuses on the 163 tariff notifications lodged with ICASA during the period 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2018.

“It seeks to ensure that there is retail price transparency within the electronic communications sector, the purpose of which is to enable consumers to make an informed choice, in terms of tariff plan preferences and/or preferred service providers based on their different offerings,” said Icasa.

ICASA says it observed the competitiveness between licensees in terms of the number of promotions that were on offer in the market, with 31 promotions launched during the period. 

The report shows that MTN and Vodacom charge the same prices for a 1GB and a 3GB data bundle at R149 and R299 respectively.  On the other hand, Telkom Mobile charges (for similar-sized data bundles) R100 (1GB) and R201 (3GB). Cell C discontinued its 1GB bundle, which was replaced with a 1.5GB bundle offered at the same price as the replaced 1GB data bundle at R149. 

Rain’s “One Plan Package” prepaid mobile data offering of R50 for a 1GB bundle remains the most affordable when compared to the offers from other MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) and MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).  

“This development should have a positive impact on customers’ pockets as they are paying less compared to similar data bundles and increases choice,” said Icasa.

The report also revealed that the cost of out-of-bundle data had halved at both MTN and Vodacom, from 99c per Megabyte a year ago to 49c per Megabyte in the first quarter of this year. This was still two thirds more expensive than Telkom Mobile, which has charged 29c per Megabyte throughout this period (see graph below).

Meanwhile, from having positioned itself as consumer champion in recent years, Cell C has fallen on hard times, image-wise: it is by far the most expensive mobile network for out-of-bundle data, at R1.10 per Megabyte. Its prices have not budged in the past year.

The report highlights the disparities between the haves and have-nots in the dramatically plummeting cost of data per Megabyte as one buys bigger and bigger bundles on a 30-day basis (see graph below).

For 20 Gigabyte bundles, all mobile operators are in effect charging 4c per Megabyte. Only at that level do costs come in at under Rain’s standard tariffs regardless of use.

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Qualcomm wins 5G as Apple and Intel cave in

A flurry of announcements from three major tech players ushered in a new mobile chip landscape, wrItes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Last week’s shock announcement by Intel that it was canning its 5G modem business leaves the American market wide open to Qualcomm, in the wake of the latter winning a bruising patent war with Apple.

Intel Corporation announced its intention to “exit the 5G smartphone modem business and complete an assessment of the opportunities for 4G and 5G modems in PCs, internet of things devices and other data-centric devices”.

Intel said it would also continue to invest in its 5G network infrastructure business, sharpening its focus on a market expected to be dominated by Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.

Intel said it would continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but did not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020. In other words, it would no longer be supplying chips for iPhones and iPads in competition with Qualcomm.

“We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the ‘cloudification’ of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. “5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property. We are assessing our options to realise the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world.”

The news came immediately after Qualcomm and Apple issued a joint announced of an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm, along with a six-year license agreement, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

Apple had previously accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in modem chips for smartphones and charging excessive license fees. It ordered its contract manufacturers, first, to stop paying Qualcomm for the chips, and then to stop using the chips altogether, turning instead to Intel.
With Apple paying up and Intel pulling out, Qualcomm is suddenly in the pound seats. It shares hit their highest levels in five years after the announcements.

Qualcomm said in a statement: “As we lead the world to 5G, we envision this next big change in cellular technology spurring a new era of intelligent, connected devices and enabling new opportunities in connected cars, remote delivery of health care services, and the IoT — including smart cities, smart homes, and wearables. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio.”

Meanwhile, Strategy Analytics released a report on the same day that showed Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia will lead the market in core 5G infrastructure, namely Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, by 2023 as the 5G market takes off. Huawei is expected to have the edge as a result of the vast scale of the early 5G market in China and its long term steady investment in R&D. According to a report entitled “Comparison and 2023 5G Global Market Potential for leading 5G RAN Vendors – Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia”, two outliers, Samsung and ZTE, are expected to expand their global presence alongside emerging vendors as competition heats up.

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