Middle East & Africa ICT spending to cross $270b in 2015

December 19th, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

Among the Gulf countries, Qatar is expected to see the biggest percentage growth in spending (by 11.36 percent), followed by Saudi Arabia by 5.44 percent and the UAE by 5.32 percent. Megha Kumar, software research manager at International Data Corporation (IDC), said majority of the growth will come from software, services and mobile phones, while wireless and fixed data will drive the growth in telecom services.

The MEA is the second-fastest growing market worldwide after Latin America. She said that public cloud services such as infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) will begin to cannabilize and disrupt traditional software and service base as competition intensifies from Tier 2 players.

IaaS is a model in which an organization outsources the equipment needed to support operations while paying on a per-use basis. SaaS is a model that allows organisations to gain access to software and it is hosted remotely while paying on a per-use basis. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are set to spearhead IaaS adoption in the Middle East and the spending will reach $280 million with a year-on-year growth of 33 percent.

She said that the uptake of SaaS will rise on non-critical business operations such as sales, marketing, customer relationship management, and talent management and the spending will reach $324 million with a year-on-year growth of 29 percent.

When asked how oil prices are going to impact the spending, she said, “If oil prices go down further then the government spending will slow down in countries that do not have surplus oil revenues. So, smaller countries like Bahrain and Oman, without surplus, may need some sort of aid to fund [their] ICT spending.”

She said that telecom operators will be looking at various business models to sustain growth and gain competitive edge. Rather than generate their own content or compete with content aggregators, telecom operators (telcos) will collaborate with content aggregators and gaming console vendors to provide value-added services to consumers.

Telcos are expected to intensify their focus on the untapped small- and medium-sized enterprise market as they try to differentiate themselves from the crowded market by becoming one-stop shops and will transform to become “IT and digital services players”.

In the ICT space, hardware contributes 30 percent while telecom contributes the biggest chunk at 60 percent and software and services at 10 percent.


IBM Expands Global Cloud Computing Network

December 19th, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

IBM has revealed plans to expand its cloud computing network with 12 new locations to serve enterprises looking for more hybrid cloud computing.

It will add data centres in Frankfurt, Mexico City and Tokyo while also adding nine more centres through a strategic partnership with Equinix in Australia, France, Japan, Singapore, Netherlands and the US.

The new centers will further expand IBM’s global cloud footprint which includes facilities in Mumbai, London, Amsterdam, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne, Toronto, Dallas and Raleigh opened this year.

The addition of new data centres will expand its network to 40 locations.

Under the agreement with Equinix, it will give direct access to SoftLayer cloud services via the Equinix Cloud Exchange in nine markets.
The nine markets which will be given access include the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific, including Amsterdam, Dallas, Chicago, Paris, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Washington.

The new partnership will allow customers to easily move production workloads in and out of the cloud, helping them to formulate their hybrid cloud strategies, the company said.

IBM Cloud Services General Manager Jim Comfort, “IBM recognises that businesses and governments need the cloud to help them innovate, grow and operate more efficiently in concert with their existing IT investments.”

“Everything IBM does is designed to help companies transition to the cloud in a responsible way at a pace that best fits their business model and industry. Just as we helped major organisations transform in each preceding era of IT, IBM now serves as the cloud platform for the enterprise.”

Equinix Chief Technology Officer Ihab Tarazi, “Equinix Cloud Exchange continues to build momentum with secure, low-latency connections to multiple cloud providers, and adding IBM SoftLayer to our growing portfolio will continue to help our enterprise customer realise the benefits of the cloud.”

“SoftLayer, with its broad reach into the enterprise market and proven success in networking will be a great asset to Cloud Exchange, enabling customers to seamlessly replicate data between markets.

“Our direct access capabilities to cloud services such as SoftLayer, provide enterprise customer with a choice of multiple clouds to better enable their hybrid cloud strategies.”


Sonnet’s Fusion R400 RAID USB 3.0 Rackmount Storage System Offers Built-in RAID 5 Controller, USB 3.0 Interface

December 19th, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

Sonnet Technologies today introduced the Fusion(TM) R400 RAID USB 3.0, a four-bay, hardware RAID 5, rackmount storage system with a USB 3.0 interface. The Fusion R400 RAID USB 3.0 integrates a high-performance RAID controller for maximum drive configuration versatility and critical data protection, and its USB 3.0 interface provides single-cable-to-host connectivity and wide compatibility. Its compact size makes this Sonnet storage solution perfect for use in a wide range of popular mobile racks, carts, rack cases, and server rooms as well.
“Our new Fusion R400 RAID USB 3.0 should be on the short list for anyone looking for an affordable, multidrive 1U rackmount storage system,” said Robert Farnsworth, CEO of Sonnet Technologies. “This flexible four-drive RAID 5 SATA storage system is easy to configure and simple to deploy in a server rack and delivers good, reliable operation in a convenient, budget-friendly package. The Fusion R400 RAID USB 3.0 is the perfect complement to our RackMac mini, a 1U rackmount enclosure for Mac mini, to support our small- to medium-sized business and education customers.”
The Fusion R400 RAID USB 3.0 features a high-performance internal storage controller that offers five drive configuration options (RAID 5, RAID 0, RAID 10, Span, and JBOD) without requiring additional hardware, software, or a specialized RAID controller card. Drive operation and health status indications are available at a glance with multicolor LEDs.
Drive configuration is as easy as flipping a mode selector switch, with configuration options that include maximum capacity (RAID 0), data protection with optimum performance (RAID 5), most concurrent audio file editing (JBOD), or combining all four drives’ capacity into a single large volume (Span). The 5.0Gbps SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interface delivers optimal performance to any USB 3.0-equipped computer, and can be connected to virtually any computer with earlier-generation USB ports.
The Fusion system provides ideal low cost storage expansion for a Mac(R) mini (running OS X(R) Server) housed in either the Sonnet RackMac(TM) mini enclosure or xMac(TM) mini Server PCIe 2.0 expansion system. A second Fusion system can be connected to a computer for added data security and high availability. The user is then able to configure the computer with popular backup and archiving software to automatically mirror the primary storage system to the second one.
The Fusion R400 RAID USB 3.0 includes a quiet, temperature-controlled fan that operates at a slow speed in most situations but speeds up with more extended or intense disk activity. The unit is compatible with Sonnet’s line of PCIe(R) and ExpressCard/34 USB 3.0 host controllers, and supports Mac, Windows(R), and Linux(R) computers. To allow users the widest-possible choice of high-capacity drives that meet their particular capacity and performance needs, the Fusion R400 RAID USB 3.0 is sold without hard drives.


MSI GT72 Dominator Pro

December 19th, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

The MSI GT72 Dominator Pro, available from MSI’s partnered Australian retailers like Scorptec and Computer Alliance for a minimum $3299 all the way up to a blisteringly expensive $4999-plus, is the most hardcore of hardcore gaming laptops. It’s a 17-inch beast, with a matte 17.3-inch 1920x1080p display, and a 48mm thick, 3.78kg chassis that makes it just as hulking as you’d expect. It is worth mentioning, though, that that’s a full 320g and 7mm less than the outgoing GT70.

The styling of the GT72 is a little more restrained, and while it’s not exactly a suit-and-tie Lenovo ThinkPad it is a little more professional than other gaming laptops out there — although not quite so as the Aorus X7 Pro. The interior of the laptop is comparatively subtle, with a simple satin black finish, full-size keyboard with white lettering (although hidden underneath is a full array of RGB backlighting), and a large multi-touch trackpad with two discrete click buttons.

Scattered around the four edges of the laptop’s outer sides when closed, you’ll find surround sound analog audio output, four USB 3.0 ports (on the left), two more USB 3.0 ports and a Blu-ray writer (on the right), an Ethernet jack for the GT72′s Killer networking card, HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort and two miniDisplayPort video connectors (on the back). At the front of the laptop, which comes to a smooth, chevron point, there are two headlight-esque RGB LED lights. On the GT72′s lid you’ll see probably the most ostentatious gamer-y symbol, which in itself is actually pretty muted — a crest with the MSI G Series Gaming logo.

What’s It Good At?

The MSI GT72 Dominator Pro is hugely powerful. The best-of-the-best 2QE-248AU variant I tested even moreso. Its Intel Core i7-4980HQ quad-core 2.8-4.0GHz processor is the absolute top-of-the-line CPU in Intel’s top-of-the-line i7 range, it has a full 32GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM, its brand new Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M is the fastest laptop GPU on the market and has a ridiculous 8GB of GDDR5 RAM to itself, and the laptop’s system disk has four 256GB SSDs in RAID 0. These specifications honestly put almost any other laptop or pre-built desktop PC on the market to shame — and the performance figures back that up.

These are incredible numbers for a laptop, and even for any desktop that you haven’t spent a couple of thousand dollars building and speccing out with high-end components. If you were looking for a portable machine — even one only slightly portable, let’s be honest — with the power to run a CAD studio or to handle 4K video editing or to play the latest games like Far Cry 4, then the MSI GT72 is the laptop for you.

And, as we liked on the MSI GT70 Dominator Pro, the GT72 has an excellent keyboard, with a pre-installed Steelseries Engine utility controlling a full multicolour RGB LED backlighting across the entire keyboard and enabling the use of software macros in your favourite games. The utility isn’t the most lightweight piece of software I’ve ever used, but it’s versatile, and mandatory if you want to use the backlighting at all. Moreso than the software, though, the hardware of the keys themselves is excellent — there’s very little flex across the keyboard, even if you’re stabbing hard at its centre while typing. SteelSeires and MSI have teamed up very well here. The trackpad is much improved from the previous model, too.

Similarly, the GT72′s 2.1 speaker system is great for one stuffed inside a laptop. The MSI GT72′s speakers, moved from beside to behind the keyboard, have been tweaked by Dynaudio. With two upward-firing drivers and a bass-tuned, downward-firing miniature ‘subwoofer’ on the base of the notebook, it’s one of the better audio systems we’ve heard inside a portable computer — but we’re not surprised, given the amount of empty space inside the chassis that MSI is working with.

That empty space also contributes very well to a smartly engineered cooling system. The components inside the GT72 actually run cooler than the last generation, and that means that even when you’re running a graphically-intensive 3D game or a computationally-demanding synthetic CPU benchmark, it doesn’t get annoyingly loud in the same way as the Aorus X7 Pro did — the virtue of having one graphics card versus two. Cooling is almost completely restricted to the base of the laptop, though, so don’t try to run anything too strenuous with the laptop sitting on a soft surface like carpet or a bedspread.

What Is It Not Good At?

The MSI GT72′s 17.3-inch LED-lit display is probably its weakest point. It’s crisp and sharp, obviously, and its 1080p resolution is a good middle-ground for desktop-replacement and mobile PC gaming, but its colour reproduction is a tiny bit off. It’s not able to display the entire gamut of colours you see displayed on Web pages, for example. It’s still perfectly usable, of course, and games and video themselves look pretty good, but for Web browsing and desktop work there are better laptop displays out there. The GT72′s range of brightness is just fine, as is the depth of blacks.

Since the MSI GT72 doesn’t implement Nvidia’s Optimus live graphics switching — we’re not exactly sure why not — you’ll have to reboot Windows when switching between the CPU’s integrated low-power HD 5200 graphics and the fully-juiced Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M. It’s a minor complaint, but it’s a little bit frustrating when you’re trying to move quickly between Web browsing and word processing and emails — office work, for me at least — to a spot of gaming during your lunchtime break. To be fair, it’s a relatively small price to pay to have all that power on tap.

Despite the efficiency of the GTX 980M and Nvidia BatteryBoost 2.0 letting users choose between outright performance and energy conservation, the MSI GT72′s battery life — from its 83Wh integrated 9-cell battery — is not amazing. You’ll get nearly 4 hours with mid-brightness 720p video watching, while bumping up the brighness and choosing 1080p video halves that. If you want to play a modern video game, expect less than an hour of screen-on time before you run out of juice. This restriction also means you’re more likely to lug around the GT72′s sizeable 180 Watt battery charger.

If you’ve gotten this far into the review without realising that the GT72 is quite a large laptop, then I’ll be surprised, but it’s worth mentioning again that although the MSI GT72 Dominator Pro is a laptop, it’s a comparatively large one. 3.8kgs, 428x294x48mm makes for a not exactly bag-friendly device — this is one for the rolling luggage travellers, if you’re courageous enough to take it out on the road in the first place. I really think this is a laptop that will occasionally make the trip from office desk to home desk, and that’s about it — and that’s perfectly fine.

Should You Buy It?

The MSI GT72 is just about as hardcore a laptop as you can buy without getting yourself a full-on workstation. It’s big, brutish, powerful and unabashed about its purpose — and that purpose is providing desktop-grade performance for processing and gaming.

That requires some compromises when it comes to the laptop’s weight and size and dimensions, and you’re not going to buy it without knowing this. But as far as its components go, the GT72 that we tested reigns supreme, and rightly so.

It’s not especially portable, especially when you take into account lugging around the large power brick and finding an outlet whenever you want to play a 3D game for more than a couple of minutes at a time. But it’s possible. (Just.)

The GT72 isn’t perfect — it doesn’t have Optimus graphics switching for some reason, and its display isn’t the best, and battery life takes an amazingly quick nosedive once you switch to Nvidia graphics and load up a computationally-intensive game or program — but if you’re going to play games on your laptop, you may as well do it right, and the MSI GT72 definitely is that way.


Acer Earns World-First Low Blue Light Certification For Its ‘Safer’ Screens

December 18th, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

Eye strain resulting from too many hours in front of a computer screen could be a thing of the past. Monitors from hardware firm Acer have received Low Blue Light certification from TUV Rheinland, becoming the first company in the world to receive such accreditation.

Damage to eyesight related to prolonged periods in front of a computer screen is a subject that’s gaining gaining ground, especially among heavy monitor users such as programmers, gamers and graphic designers for whom macular degeneration can result from over-exposure to blue light.

As such, there’s increasing demand for low blue light and flicker-free technologies, and these are gaining significance in the industry.

Low blue light products – such as Acer’s monitors – can lessen the negative effects of blue light exposure, offering a healthier choice for consumers. TUV Rheinland, the leading certification body for display testing, uses a display-specific low blue light testing standard (2PfG) to measure the display’s blue light intensity, wavelength and on-screen flickering during brightness changes.

The body used this standard for Acer’s new generation of monitors; the settings were configured to meet the certification criteria.

The new generation of blue light monitors are part of Acer’s efforts to introduce products that are safer for customers as well as being more environmentally friendly, says the firm. These ‘healthier’ monitors with their blue light filter include the award-winning B6 and V6 professional series, which are made with post-consumer recycled material. Furthermore, the V6 has also earned recognition for energy efficiency, alongside the K2 series for consumers.


Don’t Upgrade Your RAM From Apple On Your MAC PRO Until You See This

December 18th, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

Upgrading your RAM from Apple is a lot like buying your tires directly from the car dealership. It’s overpriced for essentially the same product and you shouldn’t do it. In this video I cover the benefits of upgrading your RAM from a third party to maximize your computers ability for retouching and file management through various applications like Lightroom.If you are a photographer I would strongly recommend using the MAC Pro for photography, which I will cover more in depth in a future artcile. You can very affordably put in 64, 96, and even 128GB of RAM to help speed up your culling process, work on large PSB files, and multitask many software applications that utilize a lot of the computer’s resource memory. I myself at any given time have 4 monitors each running multiple applications that utilize a lot of my computer’s memory resources. Whether this is a better option than the new iMac is a completely different article and will not be debated here.

This article is simply why I wouldn’t recommend spending more money to do it through Apple and the reasons why. I’ve been urging people NOT to purchase RAM from Apple since my days of working for Apple at the genius bar. It’s easy to install, doesn’t void your warranty, saves money, and speeds up your new or used computer. Remember that Apple isn’t making unique special “Apple RAM,” but is installing third party RAM purchased from a handful of other hardware companies just like they do with their Intel processors that can be found in PC’s. Companies like Other World Computing have been a great resource to getting access to this same type of hardware for decades at much cheaper prices. The only catch is that you have to install it yourself. Please note that the Genius Bar at an Apple Retail store will never ever, under any circumstances, perform any upgrades on your machines after it has already been purchased so be prepared to do this yourself or call over your techie friends for help in your upgrades. Don’t go into the Apple store and expect anyone to help you with this.

Why Upgrade RAM?
Simply put, RAM is your computer’s ability to multitask applications and files. If you are a photographer and like to have applications with massive libraries like Lightroom open in unison with applications like Photoshop with working files bigger than 1GB then having more RAM will allow you to do this without bogging down your machine, applications crashing, or notifications that your computer is out of memory. This is something I’ve always done on new computers but this can also be done on older machines. Remember that the processor speed doesn’t matter nearly as much at having a more RAM for things like Photography. The processor speed comes into play for tasks like saving files, rendering video, and exporting final projects. The RAM allows your computer to juggle all the tasks you are asking it to do.

Can I Do This With Older Machines?
If you have an older machine that is beginning to slow down I would urge you to first upgrade your computers RAM and max it out. If you are unsure on what you can put into your Apple MAC I would urge you to check it out here on OWC’s website. If you have a PC I would urge you to check out Crucial for a list of RAM options for you computer because OWC only carries products for Apple machines. Secondly I would recommend upgrading your hard drive to a solid state hard drive, which I will cover in a future tutorial. The combination of these two upgrades on a PC or MAC is incredible to your machine and will do wonders to your computer and software applications from Adobe.

If you enjoyed this video please make sure to subscribe to us on YouTube for free videos on Hardware, Software, Photography, and Photoshop. You can also check out what I’m doing at RGG EDU.


How to experience crystal-clear 4K on your old desktop PC for $600 or less

December 18th, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

Recently I posted a poll asking Digital Trends readers if they’re upgrading their computer to 4K this holiday shopping season, and why they’ve made their choice. While about a third of the respondents said they plan to take the plunge (or already have), and almost half felt the upgrade is still too expensive to be obtainable. Another 18 percent said they had to spend money on better hardware first.

It’s true; Ultra HD isn’t cheap, and it’s certainly more expensive than buying nothing at all. Yet the price is not as high as you might think. If you can afford to buy a new mid-range desktop, a high-end video card, or a new iPad, you can afford 4K for your desktop.

Upgrading your video

Many users can’t make the move to 4K because of their system’s video output. The latest Intel HD4400/4600 graphics technically support 3,840 x 2,160 at 60Hz, but not all systems with Intel HD 4000 Graphics have the DisplayPort output needed to carry the signal. Other, older desktops can’t support the resolution at all. Intel’s HD 3000 series goes no higher than 2,560 x 1,440, and systems with integrated graphics built before 2010 are often capable of no more than 1080p.

Thankfully, you can grab an upgrade that supports the full resolution at 60Hz without spending a fortune. The best option is probably a Radeon R7 250, which can do 3,840 x 2,160 at 60Hz over DisplayPort. The Radeon HD7770 can do the same, but availability is limited, as it’s an older design that’s going out of stock. Expect to pay around $80 either way.

Nvidia fans must spend a bit more, unfortunately, for a GTX 750 with a DisplayPort connector. These are generally $100.
Both cards are small, quiet and will fit into any PCI 2.0 or PCI 3.0 slot. They also work with a 300-watt (or better) power supply, which is common. In addition to offering DisplayPort, they typically provide HDMI and DVI. You can’t use either connection for 4K at 60Hz, but you can use them to add a second monitor.

Grabbing a budget display

Spending $80 to $100 of the $600 budget doesn’t leave you with a lot to spend on the monitor itself. Certainly the top-tier models are out of the question. But what can you get, really, for about five Benjamins?

Quite a lot. Samsung’s U28D590D is currently $520 at many retailers, a sale that may or may not last through the holidays. The monitor serves up 3,840 x 2,160 at 60Hz alongside strong image quality.
Other options include the ViewSonic VX2880ml and the Planar IX2850. These lesser-known brands may turn some buyers off, but there’s no reason to fret. In truth the vast majority of monitors have panels sourced from just a few manufacturers like LG and Samsung.

The Planar is particularly attractive, as it’s only $450 and, according to a review from Tom’s Hardware, achieves 96 percent of sRGB. That’s on par with slightly more expensive monitors such as the Acer B286HK and CTL X2800, both of which we’ve reviewed.


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