May 19, 2020

Could drones be set to leapfrog Africa’s infrastructure problems?

investment
Infrastructure
Drones
mahlokoane percy ngwato
2 min
Could drones be set to leapfrog Africa’s infrastructure problems?

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The Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) has set up a unique technology project in order to provide an innovative solution to Africa’s infrastructure problems.

The Afrotech project plans to use fleets of drones to carry small packages across distances of up to 50 miles (80km) with the goal of potentially fulfilling up to 15 percent of Africa’s transport requirements in the next decade.

Leaders from the project have already indicated that using drones in this way could provide blood stocks to remote health clinics, potentially saving countless lives.

Given the often poor and unpredictable weather conditions across the continent, using drones could take couriers out of danger zones.

Once drone fleets have proved their worth delivering humanitarian aid and vital healthcare technology it is hoped that businesses will recognise their potential for serious investment. The project director Jonathan Ledgard stated: “There will be big money, billions of dollars, within a decade, I'm sure of it.”

It is widely recognised that Africa’s infrastructure is woefully underfunded and will require billions in order to bring it up to standard; drone technology could leapfrog this problem and also provide governments on the continent with the opportunity to invest in infrastructure developments further down the line.

Although no longer in its infancy, drone technology faces both physical and legislative barriers before it can provide the coverage that the Afrotech project is proposing. Firstly, the company needs to negotiate with governments in order to provide the regulatory framework through which future innovation will operate. Furthermore, the maximum carry weight of a commercial helicopter drone is just under 10 kilos, which severely limits its operational abilities.

In a decade it will certainly be interesting to see how far projects such as Afrotech progress, it will be worth noting if a larger corporate competitor assumes control in order to dominate the competition. The potential commercial and humanitarian benefits could potentially be substantial, provided large investment can deliver adequate, cost-effective technological advancement.


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Jun 18, 2021

GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud

GfK
VMware
3 min
VMware has been walking GfK along its path through digital transformation to the cloud for over a decade.

GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.  

In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade. 

“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.

Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.

By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.

One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.

“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.

Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs. 

“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.

The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment. 

The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.

One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.

“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.

“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client. 

“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”

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