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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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Netflix lifts lid on first Nigerian Original

The streaming giant is set to increase its investment in Nigerian and African entertainment

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Back row (From L-R): Banky W, Ted Sarandos (Netflix Chief Content Officer), Kate Henshaw, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Felipe Tewes (Netflix Italian & African Originals Director), Omoni Oboli, Ben Amadasun (Netflix Africa Licensing Director) and Akin Omotoso Front Row (L-R) Mo Abudu, Adesua Etomi, Dorothy Ghettuba (Netflix African Originals lead) , Kunle Afolayan, Kemi Adetiba and Ramsey Noah.

The working title is the “Akin Omotoso Project”, but the world will soon get to know it by a snappier title. It is the first African original scripted series from Nigeria commissioned by Netflix. To be directed by Akin Omotoso, with Daniel Oriahi and CJ Obasi, it is planned to be a six-part series.

Netflix this week announced that it will increase its investment in Nigeria’s creative community, starting with the Akin Omotoso Project,

The series will star Kate Henshaw and Ade Laoye in leading roles, alongside other Nollywood greats and fresh faces, such as Richard Mofe Damijo, Joke Silva, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Kehinde Bankole, Ayoola Ayolola, Toyin Oshinaike, Goodness Emmanuel, Ireti Doyle, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Bimbo Akintola, Tope Tedela and Ijeoma Grace Agu.

Set in modern-day Nigeria and shot in Lagos, this drama tells the story of Kemi, a goddess reincarnated as a human to avenge her sister’s death. But first, she must learn how to use and harness her superpowers to defeat her enemies and save her family from destruction. The series will be produced by Rififi Pictures.

Over the last year, Netflix has started to invest in the creative community – bringing Nigerian stories to audiences all around the world. These include: popular movies such as Merry Men, The Real Yoruba Demons, The Wedding Party 2, King of Boys; Nollywood classics like The CEO, October 1 and The Figurine; and films by renowned Nigerian director, Kunle Afolayan, such as Mokalik. These much loved Nigerian movies will join Nollywood favorites such as Chief Daddy, Lion Heart and box office hit, The Bling Lagosians.   

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer said: “Movies like King of Boys, Merry Men and The Bling Lagosian have shown how much our members love Nigerian movies. So we’re incredibly excited to be investing in Made in Nigeria stories – bringing them to audiences all around the world”. 

Dorothy Ghettuba, who leads African Originals at Netflix, said: “I’m excited that in the same week that we’re launching Queen Sono, we had the opportunity to be here in Lagos with Nigerian storytellers to share plans of our first Nigerian original production. Our continent has a wealth of diversity, multiplicity and beauty in stories that have yet to be told and we want to be top of mind for creators in Nigeria, especially when it comes to stories they haven’t had a chance to tell yet.” 

Last month, Netflix enabled Nigerian members to pay for its service in Naira – making it easier for subscribers to use Netflix. Members can enjoy a wide range of diverse, quality entertainment, including African Originals like Queen Sono, which launches this Friday, 28 February. Other African Originals launching this year include Blood & Water and Mama K’s Team 4. 

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Load-shedding generator could blow your insurance

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Load shedding is going to remain a reality in South Africa for at least the next 18 months as Eskom conducts maintenance on its ageing power plants – but don’t go rushing off to buy your own alternative power supply without first checking how it’ll affect your home insurance.

That’s the warning from King Price’s partner of client experience, Wynand van Vuuren, who says it’s vital that alternative power supplies like generators are installed and certified by accredited electricians. If these devices are installed or used incorrectly, you might not be covered for any damages that may result.

“There’s been a huge upsurge in the number of people using portable generators to keep a few basic essentials going when the power goes off,” says Van Vuuren. “But what most people don’t know is that you’ve got to have them installed professionally by an electrician. You can’t just stick your generator in the garage with an extension cord running through the window.”

Here are Van Vuuren’s top tips for staying covered and charged safely during load shedding.

Do your homework

Know what your alternative power options are, and the pros and cons of each.

An inverter changes DC power from a battery into AC power that you can use to operate all kinds of devices. Obviously, it needs a battery pack to be useful. These batteries are either charged by solar or from the grid while the power is on.

A portable generator is a little generator on wheels that you see people buying in their dozens at Makro and Builders Warehouse over the weekend. They’re relatively cheap and easy to operate, but can’t keep big appliances running.

Stationary generators are usually slightly bigger units that are installed permanently, and switch on automatically when the power goes off. They’re more expensive, but have greater capacity.

Stay safe – and covered

Apart from keeping your lights on, the different power options all have one thing in common: they must comply with safety guidelines, and be installed by a professional.

“I know of guys who take their portable generators to a different mate’s house every weekend so they can watch the rugby during load shedding,” says Van Vuuren. “It’s not as smart an idea as you think: not only is the generator not covered, but any possible damage caused by the generator won’t be covered either, because it’s not properly installed.”

It’s also essential that portable generators are operated in open areas with good air flow, to prevent carbon monoxide build-up, and that fuel is stored safely in an area with adequate ventilation.

Keep your bases covered

If you’re using a generator or an inverter, make sure they power your electric fence, gate and alarm as well, as burglars are all too quick to exploit opportunities caused by power outages. If you don’t have an alternative power supply, make sure your fence, gate and alarm have a battery back-up that’s sufficient to see you through your darkest moments.

Oh, and make sure your generator’s insured as well, in case it’s stolen or struck by lightning. You would typically insure a portable generator under your home. A stationary (standby) generator becomes a fixed fitting once installed and must, therefore, be added to your buildings cover.

Beat the downs with UPS

Another major headache for South Africans is the power surge that can happen when the power is switched back on after load shedding, with big-ticket appliances like dishwashers, televisions, fridges, coffee machines and sound systems all at risk.

“We’ve seen claims for ‘fried’ computer equipment, appliances and even distribution boards caused by power surges,” says Van Vuuren. “This can be avoided by installing a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) – which doesn’t come cheap – but is advisable to at least protect costly items, like TVs and sound systems, and items with intrinsic value, like laptops.

“The other alternative is to manually disconnect your more sensitive appliances from the power supply and reconnect them after the electricity is switched back on.”

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