Doug Woolley, Managing Director – South Africa, Dell Technologies

In a rapidly changing world, having transferable and relevant skills is not just valuable, it’s imperative. This is true for all people as industries are forced to transform and reinvent themselves, but particularly so for today’s youth.

With World Youth Skills day on July 15th, we are reminded about how important skills development is to empowering our youth and enabling them to thrive in a changing world. Additionally, developing skills in our youth has a broader impact, as it affects future employment rates and thus South Africa’s prosperity as a nation.

With companies increasingly turning to digital transformation to remain competitive and adapt to the emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there is a growing need for individuals with digital skills.

Commitment required

But meaningful skills development does not arise by accident. It is built from concerted, continuous efforts to provide students with relevant skills that are in demand from the outset. One way that Dell Technologies has answered this need is through the establishment of the Khulisa Academy.

This High-Performance Computing (HPC) training academy, launched in 2016, is  focused on enabling previously disadvantaged students and young women to further enhance their IT capabilities. The intensive program enrols 30 students annually and spans over two years. It focuses on imparting HPC certified skills training in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things and several other HPC focused segments.

Opening up to open source

Most recently, it added another string to its bow in the form of the SUSE open-source software training curriculum. This will increase students’ marketability, as they emerge from their training with knowledge of Linux. Linux is overwhelmingly the preferred operating environment for the world’s servers – particularly around web and cloud infrastructure. Furthermore, SUSE enables enterprises to simplify, modernize and accelerate their traditional and cloud native applications across their IT landscape. Indeed, many enterprises have been making a concerted effort to accelerate their digital transformation plans and migrate to Linux based high-performance computing platforms as part of how they adapt to a changing business environment. With the Khulisa Academy now able to train up students in open-source software, this bodes well for those students’ prospects once they complete their training.

A place for learning

Another pivotal part of encouraging youth to develop their skills is giving them the right place to do so. That has been the motivation behind the Solar Learning Labs, which are self-contained, solar-powered technology learning labs built in a converted shipping container.

These have been initiated by the Dell SA Development Fund (DDF), with the aim of creating technology literate and connected communities through education. The labs are deployed in areas where historically, infrastructure and access to computing resources has been sparse and where IT skills education can make a meaningful difference.

For example, students at the Waverly Girls High School and Maptetla High School in Soweto have been receiving instruction at their Solar Learning Labs in coding and robotics, along with introductory Internet of Things (IoT) and cybersecurity essentials.

Each of these are core to having a solid grounding in useful tech skills. Together with practical skills gained at the Solar Learning Labs, matriculants are given a significant boost to the set of competencies they leave school with, beyond a matric certification.

When it entails skills development, our stated aim is simple: helping the youth fulfil their promise and play their part in driving progress forward into a more positive future.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn and share your thoughts on the importance of training youth in today’s digital era.

By Sabine Dedering, Regional Sales Director at Dell Technologies South Africa

In contrast to previous years, servers are no longer expensive and demanding technology systems that only enterprises could afford or justify. Current server choices and use cases have opened these doors to medium and small organisations.

Primed with such an opportunity, how can business owners know if their company is ready for a server, and what can they expect to gain in return? But foremost, why are servers more attractive to medium-size organisations today?

A few key factors have shifted the availability and importance of servers. Modern companies manage much more information and facilitate more collaboration. They are more connected and use many services that exist outside of their end-user devices. Their workforces are also more dynamic and work from different locations than the office.

A server improves all of these factors. At the same time, the cost and variety of servers have expanded tremendously, giving much more choice to the market. There is a greater choice for smaller companies and, really, no excuse anymore to not consider a server.

When to choose a server

The conditions requiring a server are not excessive, and they appear very early in the lives of most businesses. A growing company only needs to agree with one of the following scenarios to justify a server purchase.

Here are signs that a business is ready for a server:

  • It stores important data and files that should be protected from unauthorised access, loss or corruption in two or more computers.
  • Data and applications are shared between different branches.
  • Accounting programs and customer relationship management software are needed to communicate with vendors and customers.
  • Managing several versions of a single file is necessary for business operation.
  • More than one computer needs to share internet access, fax machines and other office equipment and resources.
  • A central communication system is needed to share information with clients, staff and vendors and organise group meetings.
  • Employees want to access computer files from anywhere without any problem.
  • Backing up important files stored on several computers, or restoring previous versions of files or files that were accidentally deleted.
  • Employees need to share software tools.
  • The business needs to control access of employees to files and data.

If you have concerns about accessing or securing files, or if you want more remote working capabilities for you and your staff, then you’ll definitely benefit from a server.

Selecting the right server

In today’s connected and digitally-accelerated world, companies that don’t need servers are the exception. Even if an organisation relies entirely on cloud-based applications and storage, a local server can make their operations more efficient, secure and reliable.

For example, a local server can sync data with online disaster recovery services, or act as a hub for document capture and printing services. Dell Technologies’ PowerEdge Server family provides choices for different scenarios and requirements. The PowerEdge T130 Tower Server was designed specifically for SMBs to start consolidating their data and run applications faster. On the other side of the spectrum sits the PowerEdge T640 Tower Server, packing the power and capability to manage multiple scaling workloads. Dell Technologies also provides rack servers for small and medium businesses, which can be incorporated in a third-party datacentre.

Both product families offer different choices to Dell Technologies customers. Dell Technologies’ consultants are ready to provide insight into how the various servers could be applied to diverging scenarios. Whether you need a backup solution, secure remote file access, printer and document management, centralised updates, or any other use case, Dell Technologies’ experts are on hand to share their knowledge.

It is important to know that servers are not the same as normal desktop computers. They have higher requirements for their computational power, networking and storage. Navigating the right choices can seem daunting, which is why Dell Technologies servers are designed to be robust and flexible, and enhanced with software to simplify configuration and management.

There is a science to creating a server that will work hard and meet the needs of the business. When companies see this complexity, they often convince themselves they don’t need a server, or they get a machine that is not suited to be a server. Both are big mistakes that we often encounter. I want to appeal to business owners: a server can dramatically improve how your business operates locally and remotely. Don’t ignore that opportunity, especially since it is much easier and affordable to acquire a good server than ever before.

Additional resources

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