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War on storage waste begins in Las Vegas

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It’s one of the great ironies of technology that, as computer storage becomes cheaper, companies spend more on it. That’s about to change, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK writes from Las Vegas.

Everything is bigger in Las Vegas, so there is a double irony in the news that the world’s leading computer storage company, EMC Corporation, chose its annual conference in this ostentatious city to declare war on what we may call storage ostentation.

At the opening of the EMC World conference yesterday, the company unveiled EMC Enterprise Copy Data Management (eCDM), which it describes as “new software that enables organisations to regain control of the spiraling costs of storing and managing multiple copies of the same data”.

That may sound technical, but it relates to a wasteful habit practised by almost anyone who ever saves a file on a computer. Because the cost of storage has plummeted in recent years, and no one thinks twice about saving space when saving files, the total cost of storage in organisations keeps going up.

EMC uses the term “snaps” to describe these lightweight and apparently zero-cost multiple copies of the same data. And it warns that the implications may not be felt in storage capacity in data centres, but will have a major impact on needless complexity and inefficiency. And that, in turn, carries a massive cost.

“Just as the ‘cc’ function in email can make it too easy to create data sprawl in the email inbox, unmonitored snaps can cause the same problem in the data center,” the company explained in a statement yesterday.

It quoted estimates by global analyst firm IDC that, by 2018, global businesses will waste $51-billion storing data on the wrong tier of storage, or storing data they no longer need. Because employees have to keep creating copies for anything from data protection to analytics, 82% of businesses now have at least 10 copies of any single instance of data.

As a direct response to the problem, eCDM was launched yesterday to streamline enterprises’ processes for monitoring, managing and analyzing such data.

“To modernise business processes, customers need a complete vision of all the data across the organization – no gaps, no silos, no misinformation,” said Beth Phalen, senior vice president of data protection and availability solutions in the Core Technologies division of EMC, yesterday.

“eCDM links together a complete picture of the copy data across a business from primary to protection storage, ensuring customers have the right copies of the right data in the right place. eCDM is the first product to bridge the gap between data protection and data management, addressing the pressing challenge of ensuring the right levels of protection while also addressing copy data sprawl; helping organisations dramatically reduce cost while increasing confidence that their data is protected consistently and completely.”

Then solution still allows “self-service” copy creation, but now brings governance to this generally overlooked corner of a company’s information management.

One of EMC’s clients presenting at the conference, First National Technology Solutions, which implements and manages large systems for major corporations, is one of the early users of the tool.

“We can now provide our customers with more insight into their data, empowering them to make informed decisions about what they’re storing and for how long,” says the company’s chief technology officer James O’Neil. “We expect this to help our customers to avoid data sprawl as well as monitoring protection compliance.”

And, of course, to control costs, and thus provide more competitive pricing.

The new software is one of a wide range of new products EMC is launching in Las Vegas, as it sets about reinventing not only storage, but also data centres that collectively host the cloud.

“The IT industry is in a state of massive transformation, resulting in both disruption and great opportunity,” said David Goulden, CEO of EMC’s Information Infrastructure division. “Every business leader, across every industry, is facing the dilemma of how to support and grow traditional IT infrastructure while modernising the data center in order to support the development of new applications and advance their digital agendas. Some are doing all of this simultaneously. The products and services announced today will help advance the customer’s journey to build a modern data center in order to thrive as a digital business.”

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Revealing the real cost of ‘free’ online services

A free service by Finnish cybersecurity provider F-Secure reveals the real cost of using “free” services by Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, among others.

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What do Google, Facebook, and Amazon have in common? Privacy and identity scandals. From Cambridge Analytica to Google’s vulnerability in Google+, the amount of personal data sitting on these platforms is enormous.

Cybersecurity provider F-Secure has released a free online tool that helps expose the true cost of using some of the web’s most popular free services. And that cost is the abundance of data that has been collected about users by Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon Alexa, Twitter, and Snapchat. The good news is that you can take back your data “gold”.

F-Secure Data Discovery Portal sends users directly to the often hard-to-locate resources provided by each of these tech giants that allow users to review their data, securely and privately.

“What you do with the data collection is entirely between you and the service,” says Erka Koivunen, F-Secure Chief Information Security Officer. “We don’t see – and don’t want to see – your settings or your data. Our only goal is to help you find out how much of your information is out there.”

More than half of adult Facebook users, 54%, adjusted how they use the site in the wake of the scandal that revealed Cambridge Analytica had collected data without users’ permission.* But the biggest social network in the world continues to grow, reporting 2.3 billion monthly users at the end of 2018.**

“You often hear, ‘if you’re not paying, you’re the product.’ But your data is an asset to any company, whether you’re paying for a product or not,” says Koivunen. “Data enables tech companies to sell billions in ads and products, building some of the biggest businesses in the history of money.”

F-Secure is offering the tool as part of the company’s growing focus on identity protection that secures consumers before, during, and after data breaches. By spreading awareness of the potential costs of these “free” services, the Data Discovery Portal aims to make users aware that securing their data and identity is more important than ever.

A recent F-Secure survey found that 54% of internet users over 25 worry about someone hacking into their social media accounts.*** Data is only as secure as the networks of the companies that collect it, and the passwords and tactics used to protect our accounts. While the settings these sites offer are useful, they cannot eliminate the collection of data.

Koivunen says: “While consumers effectively volunteer this information, they should know the privacy and security implications of building accounts that hold more potential insight about our identities than we could possibly share with our family. All of that information could be available to a hacker through a breach or an account takeover.”

However, there is no silver bullet for users when it comes to permanently locking down security or hiding it from the services they choose to use.

“Default privacy settings are typically quite loose, whether you’re using a social network, apps, browsers or any service,” says Koivunen. “Review your settings now, if you haven’t already, and periodically afterwards. And no matter what you can do, nothing stops these companies from knowing what you’re doing when you’re logged into their services.”

*Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/05/americans-are-changing-their-relationship-with-facebook/
**Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/30/18204186/facebook-q4-2018-earnings-user-growth-revenue-increase-privacy-scandals
***Source: F-Secure Identity Protection Consumer (B2C) Survey, May 2019, conducted in cooperation with survey partner Toluna, 9 countries (USA, UK, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Brazil, Finland, Sweden, and Japan), 400 respondents per country = 3600 respondents (+25years)

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WhatsApp comes to KaiOS

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By the end of September, WhatsApp will be pre-installed on all phones running the KaiOS operating system, which turns feature phones into smart phones. The announcement was made yesterday by KaiOS Technologies, maker of the KaiOS mobile operating system for smart feature phones, and Facebook. WhatsApp is also available for download in the KaiStore, on both 512MB and 256MB RAM devices.

“KaiOS has been a critical partner in helping us bring private messaging to smart feature phones around the world,” said Matt Idema, COO of WhatsApp. “Providing WhatsApp on KaiOS helps bridge the digital gap to connect friends and family in a simple, reliable and secure way.”

WhatsApp is a messaging tool used by more than 1.5 billion people worldwide who need a simple, reliable and secure way to communicate with friends and family. Users can use calling and messaging capabilities with end-to-end encryption that keeps correspondence private and secure. 

WhatsApp was first launched on the KaiOS-powered JioPhone in India in September of 2018. Now, with the broad release, the app is expected to reach millions of new users across Africa, Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.

“We’re thrilled to bring WhatsApp to the KaiOS platform and extend such an important means of communication to a brand new demographic,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. “We strive to make the internet and digital services accessible for everyone and offering WhatsApp on affordable smart feature phones is a giant leap towards this goal. We can’t wait to see the next billion users connect in meaningful ways with their loved ones, communities, and others across the globe.”

KaiOS-powered smart feature phones are a new category of mobile devices that combine the affordability of a feature phone with the essential features of a smartphone. They meet a growing demand for affordable devices from people living across Africa – and other emerging markets – who are not currently online. 

WhatsApp is now available for download from KaiStore, an app store specifically designed for KaiOS-powered devices and home to the world’s most popular apps, including the Google Assistant, YouTube, Facebook, Google Maps and Twitter. Apps in the KaiStore are customised to minimise data usage and maximise user experience for smart feature phone users.

In Africa, the KaiOS-powered MTN Smart and Orange Sanza are currently available in 22 countries, offering 256MB RAM and 3G connectivity.

KaiOS currently powers more than 100 million devices shipped worldwide, in over 100 countries. The platform enables a new category of devices that require limited memory, while still offering a rich user experience.

* For more details, visit: Meet The Devices That Are Powered by KaiOS

* Also read Arthur Goldstuck’s story, Smart feature phones spell KaiOS

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