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The WWW turns 30: what we want next

To mark the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web this week, over 11,000 survey respondents from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (including 1,000 from South Africa) shared what the Web has made possible for them today, and what they hope it will make possible for future generations.

Whilst the web has delivered many ‘firsts’, from the first website (info.cern.ch – 1990) and the first online takeaway order (pizza -1994), to the first Internet connection in space (Cisco – 2010), people’s ambitions for the Internet’s future overwhelmingly highlight what it can make possible for society.

Enabling ‘better access to education’ tops the list of South African respondents’ aspirations for the future of the Internet (83 percent).  This figure is far higher than any other country surveyed.  The average across the 13 countries surveyed for enabling ‘better access to education’ was 63 percent.

Other notable findings specific to South Africa were:

  • Enabling ‘better healthcare’ was also high (69 percent).  Only Poland was slightly higher (71 percent).
  • More than any other country, South Africa wants the internet to be a platform for social/political change (50 percent).
  • South Africa ranked highest across the markets surveyed for ‘the internet allowed people to work in different ways’ (74 percent) and be more productive (69 percent).
  • Respondents from South Africa placed the greatest emphasis on the value of the internet in the past 30 years ‘as a means of connecting people’ (56 percent), ‘allowing new ways of learning’ (46 percent), ‘career opportunities’ (39 percent) and ‘giving opportunities for new business start-ups’ (30 percent).

“Cisco has built, and continues to build, the Internet as we know it today. In South Africa, we are dedicated  to build networks and bring technology solutions that address citizens’ needs. But we also see beyond technology: in education for instance, Cisco committed to training 10 million people worldwide for jobs in the digital economy over the next five years, including one million in Africa. Through Cisco’s Networking Academy, over 62 000 South African students (29% of whom are female) have been trained with technical skills so far,” says Clayton Naidoo, Cisco’s General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Last year, Cisco also unveiled its cutting-edge Incubation Hub in Pretoria to help develop SMMEs in the digital age and speed up their entry to market. The hub equips SMMEs with state-of-the-art Cisco technology, training and enablement programs, and helps them grow their business with the help of Cisco experts.

Based on the survey of respondents across 13 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the findings showcase the enormous impact that the World Wide Web, as the largest application on the internet, has had in connecting people and information, over the last 30 years.

Key EMEA findings:

  • The last 30 years: The number one thing the internet has made possible for consumers is to ‘stay up-to-date and informed’ (74 percent) followed by ‘entertainment’ (71 percent) and to ‘stay in touch with family and friends’ (70 percent).
  • The entertainment industry (39 percent) is seen as the primary beneficiary of technological advances to-date, followed by the finance industry (31 percent).
  • The next 30 years: Better access to education is the number one thing respondents want the internet to make possible over the next 30 years (63 percent) followed by better access to healthcare (57 percent).
  • When asked which industries will benefit most from technological advancements, the top choice was ‘healthcare’ (at 34 percent) followed by ‘education’ (32 percent).
  • Most positive impact: ‘Connecting people’ (39 percent), ‘enhanced communication’ (35 percent) and ‘new ways of learning’ (35 percent) are seen as the top three ways in which the web has benefited society to-date.
  • We can’t live without it: Over a third (39 percent) of people can’t imagine being able to function in their personal lives without the internet.

“We live in a hyper-connected world. By 2022, we are going to see more traffic crossing global networks than in the entire history of the Internet combined. This traffic comes from all of us, and increasingly, our machines. The survey shows the impact that the World Wide Web and the Internet has had on our lives, and what people expect for the future. To realize that potential, organisations – be it in healthcare, education, or any other industry – must be able to understand the power of connections and securely extract value from them. In addition, they need to manage the complexity that comes with the explosion of connecting people, places, ideas and things across a network.”

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Time is running out for Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Companies are urged to update from the dated database management software as it reaches the end of its support, writes BRYAN TURNER.

The 11-year-old Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database management software is reaching the end of its support on 9 July. The applications that use databases running on this software will be at risk of security and stability issues.

On self-managed databases, upgrading to the latest database version comes with a lot of risks. Many IT departments within companies go by the motto: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.

Microsoft made it very clear that it would not be updating SQL Server 2005 after its extended support date and even left it vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown by not releasing patches for the dated version.

Updating SQL Server versions may seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes for a migration. In the last major version update, SQL Server 2016 introduced simpler backup functionality, database stretching, and always-encrypted communications with the database, to name just three features.

While backing up the database may be the last thing on the typical database administrator’s mind, it’s become increasingly important to do so. In SQL Server 2008, it’s clunky and causes headaches for many admins. However, in SQL Server 2016, one can easily set up an automated backup to Azure storage and let it run on smart backup intervals. Backing up offsite also reduces the need for disaster recovery for onsite damage.

Database stretching allows admins to push less frequently accessed data to an Azure database, automatically decided by SQL Server 2016. This reduces the admin of manually looking through what must be kept and what must be shipped off or deleted. It also reduces the size of the database, which also increases the performance of the applications that access it. The best part of this functionality is it automatically retrieves the less accessed records from Azure when users request it, without the need for manual intervention.

Always-encrypted communications are becoming more and more relevant to many companies, especially those operating in European regions after the introduction of GDPR. Encryption keys were previously managed by the admin, but now encryption is always handled by the client. Furthermore, the keys to encrypt and decrypt data are stored outside of SQL Server altogether. This means data stored in the database is always encrypted, and no longer for the eyes of a curious database manager. 

The built-in reporting tools have also vastly improved with the addition of new reporting metrics and a modern look. It includes support for Excel reports for keeping documentation and Power BI for automated, drag-and-drop personalised reporting. Best of all, it removes the dreaded Active X controls, which made the reporting in a webpage feel very clumsy and bloated in previous versions.

A lot has changed in the past ten years in the world of SQL Server database management, and it’s not worth running into problems before Microsoft ends support for SQL Server 2005.

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Local apps to feature in Huawei’s App Gallery

Huawei’s mobile app store, the HUAWEI AppGallery, will soon feature a multitude of apps and designs by local developers. The company says this is part of its drive to promote South African digital talent and include more useful apps for Huawei smartphone users. HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes are pre-installed on all the latest Huawei and Honor devices.

“South African consumers are increasingly wanting more apps that are relevant to their unique circumstances, addressing issues they experience regularly – such as load shedding or safety concerns – but also apps that celebrate South Africa’s multitude of cultures and this vibrant country,” says Lu Geng, director of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Region.

Akhram Mohamed, chief technology officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa, says: “Huawei is committed to catering to the needs of South African consumers, but we also know that we do not have all the answers. For this reason, we aim to work closely with South African developers so that we can give our users everything that they need and want from their devices. At the same time, we also hope to create an open ecosystem for local developers by offering a simple and secure environment for them to upload content.”

Huawei Mobile Services was launched in South Africa in June last year. Since then, both the HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes – which features tens of thousands of themes, fonts and wallpapers that personalise user’s handset – have become increasingly popular with the local market. Even though it is a relatively new division of Huawei, there has been a great increase in growth; at the end of 2018 Huawei Mobile Services had 500 million users globally, representing a 117% increase on the previous year.

Explaining what differentiates the HUAWEI AppGallery from other app stores, Mosa Matshediso Hlobelo, business developer for Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa says: “We use the name ‘HUAWEI AppGallery’ because we have a dedicated team that curates all the apps in terms of relevance and ease of use and to ensure that there are no technical issues. Importantly, all apps are also security-checked for malware and privacy leaks before being uploaded on to the HUAWEI AppGallery.”

Huawei recently held a Developers’ Day where Huawei executives met with South African developers to discuss Huawei’s offering. 48 developers registered their apps on the day, and Huawei is currently in discussions with them with the eventual aim of featuring the best apps and designs on HUAWEI AppGallery or HUAWEI Themes. The Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Team at Huawei plans on making Developers’ Day a quarterly event and establishing a local providers’ hub, where developers can regularly meet with Huawei for training on updates to programmes and offerings.

“We have a very hands-on approach with our developers, and hope to expand that community so we can become an additional distribution channel for more developers and expose them to both a local and a global audience,” says Geng. “For example, we regularly feature apps and designs from local developers on our Huawei social media pages, and do competitions and promotions. We want to do everything we can to make our Huawei users aware of these local apps and upload them. This will encourage the growth of the developer community in South Africa by giving developers more opportunities to generate revenue from in-app purchases.”

* Developers who would like their apps featured on the HUAWEI App Gallery, or designs featured on HUAWEI Themes, should visit https://developer.huawei.com or email Huawei Mobile Services on sacloud@huawei.com.

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