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VR for Vodacom Durban July

This year’s Vodacom Durban July will see Vodacom partnering with Nokia to showcase the future of Virtual Reality (VR) through two different 5G powered experiences at Africa’s greatest horse racing event.

The first VR experience will showcase the high speed and low latency capabilities of 5G and will use 4K video cameras to record and stream live, immersive footage from two different positions at the Greyville racecourse where the annual Vodacom Durban July horserace will take place on Saturday, 7 July. Each of these cameras will broadcast a live, 360 degree feed over 5G back to the Vodacom hospitality suite, where guests can experience the feeds from the racecourse through VR headsets, and be virtually transported into the live scenes from the day’s races.

The first camera has been positioned in the Parade Ring, which will enable guests at the Vodacom hospitality suite to have a live, virtual view of the horses as they are paraded before each race. The second camera has been positioned at the finish line, and will enable guests to watch the action packed finish of each race in VR, as if they were at the finish line themselves.  The images from the cameras will be streamed in real time over a Nokia Airscale 5G base station, and uses 100 MHz of Vodacom’s own spectrum in the 28 GHz frequency band.

A second 5G-enabled related VR experience will also be demonstrated in the form of a VR penalty shootout, where high speeds and super-low latency are both critical to the reality of the experience. The VR penalty shootout experience will enable participants to ‘feel’ the difference between the different latencies which are typical of 4G and 5G networks, by introducing different reaction times. This VR experience will allow participants to feel as if they are physically within a stadium facing the best goalkeepers in the world, which is fitting considering the soccer fever currently gripping the globe.

Andries Delport, Chief Technology Officer at Vodacom says: “Our future will be characterised by a range of new technologies that are fusing our physical and digital worlds. Robotics and super-realistic virtual & augmented reality are characteristic of this era. These new technologies require the high speed and low latency that only a 5G network can deliver.”

In keeping with the theme of the digital age, this year’s Vodacom Durban July will showcase the future of mobile networks. Mobile networks such as 5G and beyond will become the basis of how people, vehicles and homes will communicate. This is why Vodacom has embarked on ensuring its mobile network is ready and available to support this technology, when we are allocated the necessary spectrum by government.”

Vodacom’s 5G VR showcases at the Vodacom Durban July illustrate the opportunities and use cases which could be made available through a 5G network. Two of the major advances which 5G networks will bring over existing 4G technology is higher speeds and reduced latency or responsiveness. Latency is the time gap that exists between a request and a response in a system, which is typically around 20ms on a 4G network.  On a 5G network, this is reduced to less than 5ms, which means that the request-response between connections is almost real-time. This could enable 5G applications being extended to mission critical control of remote applications (e.g. industrial automation in factories, remote robotic surgery etc.) as well as smart vehicles and transportation systems, which require ultra-reliable and low latency communications.

In addition to the 5G showcases, Vodacom has a total of twelve base stations at the Greyville Racecourse, with a combination of ten permanent and two temporary base stations to cope with the crowds on the day, which are expected to exceed 50 000 visitors. These base stations have also been enabled with the latest 4G+ technologies to increase network capacity and speed. To guarantee optimal network user experience, all the base stations which are serving King Shaka International airport, all road routes to Greyville and the broader eThekwini area have been upgraded and optimised for maximum performance.

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Veeam passes $1bn, prepares for cloud’s ‘Act II’

Leader in cloud-data management reveals how it will harness the next growth phase of the data revolution, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

Veeam Software, the quiet leader in backup solutions for cloud data management,has announced that it has passed $1-billion in revenues, and is preparing for the next phase of sustained growth in the sector.

Now, it is unveiling what it calls Act II, following five years of rapid growth through modernisation of the data centre. At the VeeamON 2019conferencein Miami this week, company co-founder Ratmir Timashev declared that the opportunities in this new era, focused on managing data for the hybrid cloud, would drive the next phase of growth.

“Veeam created the VMware backup market and has dominated it as the leader for the last decade,” said Timashev, who is also executive vice president for sales and marketing at the organisation. “This was Veeam’s Act I and I am delighted that we have surpassed the $1 billion mark; in 2013 I predicted we’d achieve this in less than six years. 

“However, the market is now changing. Backup is still critical, but customers are now building hybrid clouds with AWS, Azure, IBM and Google, and they need more than just backup. To succeed in this changing environment, Veeam has had to adapt. Veeam, with its 60,000-plus channel and service provider partners and the broadest ecosystem of technology partners, including Cisco, HPE, NetApp, Nutanix and Pure Storage, is best positioned to dominate the new cloud data management in our Act II.”

In South Africa, Veeam expects similar growth. Speaking at the Cisco Connect conference in Sun City this week, country manager Kate Mollett told Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER that the company was doing exceptionally well in this market.

“In financial year 2018, we saw double-digit growth, which was really very encouraging if you consider the state of the economy, and not so much customer sentiment, but customers have been more cautious with how they spend their money. We’ve seen a fluctuation in the currency, so we see customers pausing with big decisions and hoping for a recovery in the Rand-Dollar. But despite all of the negatives, we have double digit growth which is really good. We continue to grow our team and hire.

“From a Veeam perspective, last year we were responsible for Veeam Africa South, which consisted of South Africa, SADC countries, and the Indian Ocean Islands. We’ve now been given the responsibility for the whole of Africa. This is really fantastic because we are now able to drive a single strategy for Africa from South Africa.”

Veeam has been the leading provider of backup, recovery and replication solutions for more than a decade, and is growing rapidly at a time when other players in the backup market are struggling to innovate on demand.

“Backup is not sexy and they made a pretty successful company out of something that others seem to be screwing up,” said Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst at Ovum, speaking in Miami after the VeeamOn conference. “Others have not invested much in new products and they don’t solve key challenges that most organisations want solved. Theyre resting on their laurels and are stuck in the physical world of backup instead of embracing the cloud.”

Illsley readily buys into the Veeam tagline. “It just works”. 

“They are very good at marketing but are also a good engineering comany that does produce the goods. Their big strength, that it just works, is a reliable feature they have built into their product portfolio.”

Veeam said in statement from the event that, while it had initially focused on server virtualisation for VMware environments, in recent years it had expanded this core offering. It was now delivering integration with multiple hypervisors, physical servers and endpoints, along with public and software-as-a-service workloads, while partnering with leading cloud, storage, server, hyperconverged (HCI) and application vendors.

This week, it  announced a new “with Veeam”program, which brings in enterprise storage and hyperconverged (HCI) vendors to provide customers with comprehensive secondary storage solutions that combine Veeam software with industry-leading infrastructure systems. Companies like ExaGrid and Nutanix have already announced partnerships.

Timashev said: “From day one, we have focused on partnerships to deliver customer value. Working with our storage and cloud partners, we are delivering choice, flexibility and value to customers of all sizes.”

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‘Energy scavenging’ funded

As the drive towards a 5G future gathers momentum, the University of Surrey’s research into technology that could power countless internet enabled devices – including those needed for autonomous cars – has won over £1M from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industry partners.

Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) has been working on triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG), an energy harvesting technology capable of ‘scavenging’ energy from movements such as human motion, machine vibration, wind and vehicle movements to power small electronic components. 

TENG energy harvesting is based on a combination of electrostatic charging and electrostatic induction, providing high output, peak efficiency and low-cost solutions for small scale electronic devices. It’s thought such devices will be vital for the smart sensors needed to enable driverless cars to work safely, wearable electronics, health sensors in ‘smart hospitals’ and robotics in ‘smart factories.’ 

The ATI will be partnered on this development project with the Georgia Institute of Technology, QinetiQ, MAS Holdings, National Physical Laboratory, Soochow University and Jaguar Land Rover. 

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI and the principal investigator of the TENG project, said: “TENG technology is ideal to power the next generation of electronic devices due to its small footprint and capacity to integrate into systems we use every day. Here at the ATI, we are constantly looking to develop such advanced technologies leading towards our quest to realise worldwide “free energy”.

“TENGs are an ideal candidate to power the autonomous electronic systems for Internet of Things applications and wearable electronic devices. We believe this research grant will allow us to further the design of optimized energy harvesters.”

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