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Why flash storage is impacting business

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The world is continually being moulded by small, unseen technologies. We rarely appreciate the massive impact of a new technology, until we can’t consider life without its influence. Imagine the world before screws, string, ink and countless other dark horse game changers. It is simply unfathomable how societies could operate without such innovations.

Today such technologies continue to expand our abilities. The humble USB port connects more devices together. Touch screens have opened the gates of easy interaction with devices. Sensors are making our vehicles and buildings intelligent. Yet one of the modern world’s biggest disruptors continues to go on unseen. Dell EMC says that if they were to nominate the technology MVP of the early 21st century, it would be flash memory and storage.

Flash is all around us. You will find it in your phone and most electronic devices around you. The SD card used in cameras and some phone models is flash memory. Your smartwatch tablet and computer use flash memory, as do those USB thumb drives that seem to be as ubiquitous as change under the sofa cushions. If you ever transitioned to a Solid State Drive (SDD) on your laptop, you have sampled a taste of flash’s transformative power.

“When someone asks me to explain flash memory, I pull out my smartphone,” says Rudi van Rensburg, senior manager for Primary Storage (All Flash) at Dell EMC. “You can run your life off your phone – that’s how powerful a device it is. Flash memory is a big part of what makes that phone so fast and compact all at the same time. That is not possible with spinning drives.”

Flash trumps spinning drives

Flash is fundamentally different from spinning drives aka. hard drives. The latter operates like a high-speed vinyl record, moving a robotic arm across the spinning platter of the drive to locate data. There are physical limitations to how fast this can be done. Hard drive platters are also very sensitive and can be easily damaged. Often a small amount of damage can cascade over time to corrupt the entire drive. Due to the random nature of such damage predicting imminent failure of a hard drive is challenging and rarely accurate.

Having no moving parts is one of flash storage’s big advantages. Instead of spreading data along a platter, the data on flash is written by arranging electrons along grids through tiny power currents. This not only renders much faster data reads and writes, but it is also easier to manipulate and rearrange that data. The result is magnitudes more speed, as well better predictable reliability. Whereas a spinning drive shouldn’t go beyond a five year lifespan, top grade enterprise flash storage has shown longevity of well over a decade.

Flash flexibility

Combine speed and reliability, and you have a lot of flexibility. The impacts of this on a business are manifold, says Van Rensburg:

“I’ll give you a real world example I see all the time. A client wants 100 terabytes of storage for their data. So they have that much in spinning disks, plus extra disks to address failure issues. These are arranged in tiers so they can get the best performance out of the fastest disks. This works, but it is expensive and takes up a lot of space.

“Now, let’s convert that into flash. First, they don’t need the full 100 terabytes, because flash is much, much faster and uses compression technologies not available on traditional spinning disk drives. We’ve seen customers’ performance benchmarks double, quadruple and even go as high as ten times. Second, they don’t need tiers, because you can pool flash as a resource, so you are doing far more with less. Third, the failure rate is much lower and also much easier to predict.”

The high speed and reliability of enterprise flash storage is perfect for modern Tier 1 applications such as ERP systems, says Dell EMC. As Van Rensburg points out, companies that adopt enterprise grade all-flash systems for their core applications are seeing performance jumps that leap off the chart. The larger boon of flash’s flexibility is that it can easily be allocated to other applications in the business.

“When flash started being adopted in enterprises, around 2008, you saw maybe five percent of company workloads being put on flash storage. Today we’re seeing 100 percent utilisation. In none of those cases did the companies feel forced to use flash. They started small, but saw such leaps in performance and reductions in cost of ownership that it just made sense.”

“There is still place in modern companies for spinning drives. But just as wooden wheels made way for vulcanised rubber, the way forward is the speed, agility and reliability of enterprise flash storage.”

Source: bizcommunity

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Post Covid-19: The social impact of 4IR enabling technologies on the African continent

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Tshiwela Ncube is the Co-Founder and COO at VUUQA.com

During this global pandemic, I have been thinking of how the world will change post corona. Will this pandemic thrust Africa into the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)?

In this article, Tshiwela discuss the social impact that 4IR enabling technologies will have on the African continent and how they will assist in addressing various problems facing the continent mainly in the following sectors:

  1. Health–This sector will be impacted the most; technologies like AI will enable diagnosis where there are shortages of doctors and enable the inventory management of medication in rural areas.
  2. Agriculture – Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) have the power to enable African farmers to optimize productivity and reduce wastage through “precision farming” which relies on testing and data analysis to assist in the managing of field variations.
  3. Financial – 4IR will increasefinancial inclusion in Africa by enabling the unbanked to participate in the economy through retail electronic payments platforms and virtual savings and credit supply technological platforms. Technologies such as blockchain are providing the informal sector with opportunities to gain access to credit.

Also Read: Women in Tech: Interview With Ellen Fischat, Founder Story Room and Inspiring Fifty SA Ambassador

Most of these 4IR technologies have been implemented in Africa and many more are currently in testing phase. Africa continues to push innovation;however, a few challenges have the potential to impede the advancement of 4IR in Africa.

  1. Skills Deficit: To take full advantage of 4IR, Africa needs to invest heavily in cultivating the skills and capabilities of their labor force,lack thereof may result in job losses with technology replacing humans. When the labor is skilled it can work hand in hand with the technology.
  2. Infrastructure: Africa needs to improve its digital infrastructure in order to be able to access the advanced technology that enables 4IR. In countries like South Africa where data prices are expensive, the average man on the street can’t afford data therefore cannot connect to the internet affordably and easily.The result of poor digital infrastructure is that it reduces crucial connectivity which makes it difficult to effectively activate technologies like AI.
  3. Regulations: Africa needs to tighten and increase its cyber security to ensure the safety of people data and any possible fraud.Regulations should also be placed to enable African digital leaders to scale cross border, most especially with the new Continental Free Trade Agreement, this should be the time for Africa to align their processes and procedures in order to take full advantage of the rapid changes that 4IR is bringing.

4IR has the power to bring real fundamental social changes to Africa and to enable Africa to compete globally. It is up to African leaders to ensure that the environment is equip and conducive to forester such efforts. There was never a better time than now for Africa to move forward with the 4IR agenda and not only become a participant but a key player.

Article by: Tshiwela Ncube is an E-commerce thought leader, Co-Founder and COO at VUUQA.com

Visit: Vuuqa

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Facebook launches Tools to keep faith-based communities connected during COVID-19

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The tools are part of Facebook’s ongoing efforts in keeping communities safe, connected and informed during this pandemic

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa- Facebook has launched key resources to help faith groups stay connected and engaged during the current COVID-19 outbreak. The resources include the Faith on Facebook Resource Hub and the Faith on Facebook toolkit, both providing guidance and step-by-step tips that faith-based groups can use to keep their communities engaged while observing social distancing. The tools are part of Facebook’s ongoing efforts in keeping communities safe, connected and informed during this pandemic.

Download document: https://bit.ly/2VicyFs

Also Read: African academics launch initiative to collate COVID-19 data across Africa, call for volunteers

Some of the tools that faith-based groups can use to connect with their communities during the COVID-19 outbreak include:

  • Facebook Pages: Explore how to build an active and engaged audience of faith communities, advice on posting interesting content, as well as creating events and using Groups for discussions.
  • Facebook Groups: Groups allow people to come together around a common cause, discussing issues and ideas, posting photos and sharing related content.
  • Facebook Events: Host virtual events using Facebook Events to spread the word.
  • Utilising WhatsApp: Consider sending bite sized sermons or recordings through the voice note feature on WhatsApp to members, using either the dedicated broadcast list function or creating a New Group list.
  • Watch Party: Host a Watch Party for your Group, choosing videos that are relevant to your community and invite members to join and discuss.                                            
  • Facebook Live: Stream live stream events and performances on Facebook, utilizing interactive features such as reactions, shares and comments enabling you to further engage your audience.  

Commenting, Facebook Africa Regional Director Nunu Ntshingila said, “At a time like this, our mission has never been more relevant, to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. We know that faith leaders across Africa are grappling with the unexpected challenges in serving their members digitally, and we’re committed to providing them with the resources and tools to support them as much as possible”. She added, “Our ultimate goal is to equip faith-based communities with the tools to help them continue faith conversations throughout the pandemic.”

Credit: Facebook

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Zindi set to offer free hackathon and tailored online problem-solving sessions

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Cape Town based online data science competition platform Zindi will during the COVID-19 lockdown offer businesses free hackathon and tailored online problem-solving sessions.

Zindi recently launched a new hackathon space on its platform. The space will enable those companies with data science teams that are now working from home a private space to continue to upskill on problems that are important to their businesses while strengthening teamwork and cohesion in their free time, even while kilometres apart.

The offer comes in the wake of a 21-day lockdown imposed by the South African government with effect from 27 March.

Also Read: Women in Tech: Interview With Ellen Fischat, Founder Story Room and Inspiring Fifty SA Ambassador

“It really feels like we are stepping through that threshold that separates the world as we knew it from the uncharted territory that lies ahead. The situation is evolving rapidly and every day seems to bring new revelations about how COVID-19 might impact our lives, our economies, our companies, and our professional teams in the months and years ahead,” says Celina Lee, CEO Zindi.

“We realise that even during these challenging times, business doesn’t stop,” adds Lee.

“At Zindi, we also find ourselves having to adapt to the changing landscape. But we are driven by our mission to make AI accessible to everyone and every company. We see the current climate as an opportunity for our online community of over 12,000 data scientists to apply their skills to problems that matter most now, and to be an engine for productivity even during this unusual time,” says Lee.

“One thing this experience is teaching us is that physical location no longer matters. As an online platform, Zindi is uniquely positioned to harness the power of data scientists around the world to keep businesses and teams going during these challenging times. As a support to you, our valued partners, we’re pleased to offer you a free hackathon for your data science team or an online problem-solving session tailored for your business. Remember, we’re all in this together,” she adds.

ZINDI

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