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VMware expands European Cloud

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VMware has unveiled an expanded portfolio of cloud services and made VMware Cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS) available in Europe, bringing the service closer to South African companies.

The announcements are key to the VMware strategy of enabling customers to work seamlessly with, and better manage, hybrid clouds. This will in turn provide local VMware users with the opportunity to marry multiple clouds, manage them from a single interface, develop for them, derive quantifiable analytics on use and behaviour, and leverage more effective cost analysis.

VMware and AWS will also enable system integrator and system outsourcer (SISO) partners, managed service providers, and solutions providers to grow their cloud business and help their customers realise the full benefits of hybrid cloud.

AWS does not yet have datacentres or local cloud infrastructure in South Africa. However, according to Ian Jansen van Rensburg, senior systems engineering manager at VMware Sub-Saharan Africa, the VMware Cloud Provider Programme partners have many customers that make use of AWS together with VMware. As long as they are not forced by legislation to keep the data inside the boundaries of South Africa, they are able to use AWS points pf presence in South Africa.

“Customers are focused on digital transformation and that is a business decision on how they leverage cloud,” states Jansen van Rensburg. “The needs of applications are driving these cloud decisions, as customers need to support both new and existing applications, which is conversely also driving massive cloud adoption, even locally.

“VMware Cloud is unique in the sense that you can develop any type of application and deliver these applications to any cloud and deliver to any device. All of this can be done while having a consistent infrastructure across cloud environments. This provides the customers the flexibility they need when using multiple cloud environments, as well as a way in which they can better mitigate the security risks involved in doing this.”

He believes that, when VMware transformed the data centre 20 years ago, it inadvertently laid the foundation for how we build cloud environments today. VMware Cloud Services are designed to give customers the flexibility to leverage any cloud environment while providing consistent operations for how clouds are managed and secured. VMware’s growing portfolio of Cloud Services therefore provides visibility, operations, automation, security, and governance across any cloud.

“VMware’s focus is to break down obstacles and barriers for customers and deliver the ultimate Hybrid cloud,” he says.

The full announcement, as provided by VMware, includes:

  • New VMware Hybrid Cloud Extension Service for Private Cloud: A SaaS offering that provides application mobility and infrastructure hybridity across different vSphere versions, on-premises and in the cloud. Previously announced Hybrid Cloud Extension services for both IBM Cloud and VMware Cloud on AWS are now available, and VMware has now added a new service for self-managed private enterprise datacenters. Hybrid Cloud Extension provides the operational support that enables enterprises to complete large-scale workload movement in environments spanning multiple private datacentre locations. Hybrid Cloud Extension enables enterprises to manage secure application migration without modification, with little or no application downtime, and across heterogeneous VMware vSphere environments. Cloud migration is simplified by eliminating the need to replatform, retest, or change cloud tooling, all while maintaining business continuity, application uptime, network architectures, and performance. With the general availability of Hybrid Cloud Extension for both IBM Cloud and VMware Cloud on AWS, customers can also extend their VMware-based environments to the public cloud for on-demand capacity and geographical expansion.
  • Expanded Wavefront by VMware Service: This SaaS-based, high-scale, metrics monitoring and analytics platform supports cloud-native and enterprise applications, and both public and private cloud infrastructure, including AWS, Google Cloud Platform, workloads running on Azure, and now VMware Cloud on AWS. VMware has added 45 new Wavefront integrations, including GCP, Chef, GitHub, Spark, Nginx+, and Mesos, in addition to already supported integrations , such as AWS Lambda, Kafka, and Docker, expanding the set of information that can be unified, visualised, and monitored by Wavefront, helping customers better optimise applications and deliver more compelling reporting and dashboards for dynamic applications. Wavefront now supports Kubernetes in Pivotal Container Service (PKS), application platform services such as Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF), and enterprise applications running on VMware-based private clouds. Wavefront also now integrates with VMware vRealize Operations, empowering IT to partner with lines of business and application owners by providing rapid onboarding of Wavefront, agent lifecycle management and control, and shared visibility not only of the infrastructure, but also for the applications that run on top. Wavefront is free to try at www.wavefront.com/sign-up.
  • New VMware Log Intelligence Service: The newest offering for VMware Cloud Services, Log Intelligence will deliver deep operational insights into VMware-based datacentres and VMware Cloud on AWS. Log Intelligence provides rapid IT troubleshooting and centralised log management across multiple clouds including VMware Cloud on AWS. Log Intelligence uses machine learning algorithms and real-time log analytics to continuously scan for anomalies in datacentre and cloud environments. The service delivers high-performance log search and rich dashboards to give IT unified visibility into application behavior and the health of underlying infrastructure.
  • Expanded VMware Cost Insight Service: Adding to the existing support for AWS, Microsoft Azure, and VMware private cloud datacentres, Cost Insight now delivers detailed assessments for migrating workloads to VMware Cloud on AWS, calculating the capacity and the cost of running apps in private or public clouds. Cost Insight offers a deep understanding into the true cost of migration through integration with VMware Network Insight, giving IT a more accurate view of the total cost of an app, including the estimates on network egress and storage IOPS costs post migration. Cost Insight offers an array of savings recommendations, alerts, and reporting capabilities including the ability to set cost thresholds to manage costs and maintain budget.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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