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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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UN calls for electronics overhaul to beat e-waste

Seven UN entities have come together at the World Economic Forum to tackle the escalating scourge of electronic waste.

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Seven UN entities have come together, supported by the World Economic Forum, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to call for an overhaul of the current electronics system, with the aim of supporting international efforts to address e-waste challenges. 

The report calls for a systematic collaboration with major brands, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), academia, trade unions, civil society and associations in a deliberative process to reorient the system and reduce the waste of resources each year with a value greater than the GDP of most countries. 

Each year, approximately 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) are discarded — the weight of more than all commercial airliners ever made. In terms of material value, this is worth 62.5 billion dollars– more than the GDP of most countries.  

Less than 20% of this is recycled formally. Informally, millions of people worldwide (over 600,000 in China alone) work to dispose of e-waste, much of it done in working conditions harmful to both health and the environment. 

The report, “A New Circular Vision for Electronics – Time for a Global Reboot,” launched in Davos 24 January, says technologies such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT), support gradual “dematerialization” of the electronics industry.  

Meanwhile, to capture the global value of materials in the e-waste and create global circular value chains, the report also points to the use of new technology to create service business models, better product tracking and manufacturer or retailer take-back programs.  

The report notes that material efficiency, recycling infrastructure and scaling up the volume and quality of recycled materials to meet the needs of electronics supply chains will all be essential for future production.  

And if the electronics sector is supported with the right policy mix and managed in the right way, it could lead to the creation of millions of decent jobs worldwide. 

The joint report calls for collaboration with multinationals, SMEs, entrepreneurs, academia, trade unions, civil society and associations to create a circular economy for electronics where waste is designed out, the environmental impact is reduced and decent work is created for millions. 

The new report supports the work of the E-waste Coalition, which includes: 

  • International Labour Organization (ILO); 
  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU); 
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment); 
  • United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); 
  • United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR); 
  • United Nations University (UNU), and 
  • Secretariats of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions (BRS). 

The Coalition is supported by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Economic Forum and coordinated by the Secretariat of the Environment Management Group (EMG).  

Considerable work is being done on the ground. For example, in order to grasp the opportunity of the circular economy, today the Nigerian Government, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN Environment announce a 2 million dollar investment to kick off the formal e-waste recycling industry in Nigeria. The new investment will leverage over 13 million dollars in additional financing from the private sector.   

According to the International Labour Organization, in Nigeria up 100,000 people work in the informal e-waste sector. This investment will help to create a system which formalizes these workers, giving them safe and decent employment while capturing the latent value in Nigeria’s 500,000 tonnes of e-waste. 

UNIDO collaborates with a large number of organizations on e-waste projects, including UNU, ILO, ITU, and WHO, as well as various other partners, such as Dell and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA). In the Latin American and Caribbean region, a UNIDO e-waste project, co-funded by GEF, seeks to support sustainable economic and social growth in 13 countries. From upgrading e-waste recycling facilities, to helping to establish national e-waste management strategies, the initiative adopts a circular economy approach, whilst enhancing regional cooperation. 

Another Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) report launched today by the World Economic Forum, with support from Accenture Strategy, outlines a future in which Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies provide a tool to achieve a circular economy efficiently and effectively, and where all physical materials are accompanied by a digital dataset (like a passport or fingerprint for materials), creating an ‘internet of materials.’ PACE is a collaboration mechanism and project accelerator hosted by the World Economic Forum which brings together 50 leaders from business, government and international organizations to collaborate in moving towards the circular economy. 

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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