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VMware Cloud On AWS ready for SA next year

With VMware building out its Cloud across AWS regions, it is only a matter of time before the service arrives in South Africa, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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At VMworld 2019 Europe in Barcelona this week, an announcement that VMware Cloud on AWS will be launching in the AWS EU (Stockholm) region had long-term implications for South Africa.

AWS regions are geographic locations where the cloud giant has a cluster of data centres, with 19 infrastructure regions opened by the end of last year. South Africa will join this family in the first half of next year, with Cape Town due to become the first AWS infrastructure region in Africa.

VMware Cloud on AWS, which manages the migration of companies to the AWS cloud, is now available in five of these regions in Europe and 17 globally. This suggests that the service rolls out in the wake of AWS regions opening up.

VMware did not confirm South African availability for next year, but it would fit into the momentum of the service.

“Every region we launch as VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment for VMware, and that investment needs a specific amount of connected revenue or value,” said Ian Jansen van Rensburg, senior systems engineering manager for Sub Saharan Africa at VMware. In an interview with Gadget at VMworld, he said the company would “review its ability to launch VMware on AWS in the South African region” when the AWS region is opened next year.

Ian Jansen van Rensburg, senior systems engineering manager for Sub Saharan Africa at VMware

“If there is enough value and revenue for us we will do so, and if there is customer demand. If not, it will be revalued as we move along.

“We’re following in their footsteps, and clearly there will be enough demand. But it won’t just be opened up in conjunction with their opening up. We will have to evaluate whether it’s worthwhile for VMware to run on top of their presence in South Africa, which I have no doubt it would.”

VMware also announced new capabilities for the company’s flagship hybrid cloud service, which it said will enable both customers and partners to drive greater value from the consistent infrastructure and operations delivered by VMware Cloud on AWS.

Vmware said in a statement: “Customers can quickly create and scale their Kubernetes clusters. In addition, they can minimize disruptions to applications by easily rolling back any incompatible updates. With additional support from VMware’s expert Kubernetes Architect Team, customers can architect and deploy a Kubernetes platform that is customized to their needs, and ready their in-house team to operate a cloud-native infrastructure. In the future, VMware Cloud on AWS customers will also be able to leverage Project Pacific, which will transform VMware vSphere into a Kubernetes native platform.”

Click here to read about how customers like a major betting organisation and a government department are leveraging VMware Cloud on AWS

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SA’s Internet goes down again

South Africa is about to experience a small repeat of the lower speeds and loss of Internet connectivity suffered in January, thanks to a new undersea cable break, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Internet service provider Afrihost has notified customers that there are major outages across all South African Internet Service Providers (ISPs), as a result of a break in the WACS undersea cable between Portugal and England 

The cause of the cable break along the cable is unclear. it marks the second major breakage event along the West African Internet sea cables this year, and comes at the worst possible time: as South Africans grow heavily dependent on their Internet connections during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

As a result of the break, the use of international websites and services, which include VPNs (virtual private networks), may result in latency – decreased speeds and response times.  

WACS runs from Yzerfontein in the Western Cape, up the West Coast of Africa, and terminates in the United Kingdom. It makes a stop in Portugal before it reaches the UK, and the breakage is reportedly somewhere between these two countries. 

The cable is owned in portions by several companies, and the portion where the breakage has occurred belongs to Tata Communications. 

The alternate routes are:  

  • SAT3, which runs from Melkbosstrand also in the Western Cape, up the West Coast and terminates in Portugal and Spain. This cable runs nearly parallel to WACS and has less Internet capacity than WACS. 
  • ACE (Africa Coast to Europe), which also runs up the West Coast.  
  • The SEACOM cable runs from South Africa, up the East Coast of Africa, terminating in both London and Dubai.  
  • The EASSy cable also runs from South Africa, up the East Coast, terminating in Sudan, from where it connects to other cables. 

The routes most ISPs in South Africa use are WACS and SAT3, due to cost reasons. 

The impact will not be as severe as in January, though. All international traffic is being redirected via alternative cable routes. This may be a viable method for connecting users to the Internet but might not be suitable for latency-sensitive applications like International video conferencing. 

Read more about the first Internet connectivity breakage which happened on the same cable, earlier this year. 

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SA cellphones to be tracked to fight coronavirus

Several countries are tracking cellphones to understand who may have been exposed to coronavirus-infected people. South Africa is about to follow suit, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From Israel to South Korea, governments and cell networks have been implementing measures to trace the cellphones of coronavirus-infected citizens, and who they’ve been around. The mechanisms countries have used have varied.  

In Iran, citizens were encouraged to download an app that claimed to diagnose COVID-19 with a series of yes or no questions. The app also tracked real-time location with a very high level of accuracy, provided by the GPS sensor. 

In Germany, all cellphones on Deutsche Telekom are being tracked through cell tower connections, providing a much coarser location, but a less invasive method of tracking. The data is being handled by the Robert Koch Institute, the German version of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In Taiwan, those quarantined at home are tracked via an “electronic fence”, which determines if users leave their homes.  

In South Africa, preparations have started to track cellphones based on cell tower connections. The choice of this method is understandable, as many South Africans may either feel an app is too intrusive to have installed, or may not have the data to install the app. This method also allows more cellphones, including basic feature phones, to be tracked. 

This means that users can be tracked on a fairly anonymised basis, because these locations can be accurate to about 2 square kilometers. Clearly, this method of tracking is not meant to monitor individual movements, but rather gain a sense of who’s been around which general area.  

This data could be used to find lockdown violators, if one considers that a phone connecting in Hillbrow for the first 11 days of lockdown, and then connecting in Morningside for the next 5, likely indicates a person has moved for an extended period of time. 

The distance between Hillbrow and Morningside is 17km. One would pass through several zones covered by different towers.

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that South African network providers have agreed to provide government with location data to help fight COVID-19. 

Details on how the data will be used, and what it will used to determine, are still unclear. 

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