The ability to process information in order to take certain actions and provide services is an important venture in our world today and equally important is the way we compute.
It used to be that anyone wishing to host a website, or any online/ web application needed to have a server, which had its own series of problems. Procuring or developing one is a time-consuming and expensive venture, not to mention the hassles involved when the server is down.
Almost anyone who uses a browser can identify with the frustration that comes with the 404 error. These issues combined led to an innovation in serverless computing.
Why Serverless Computing?
Serverless computing does not mean computing or hosting websites without a server. It is however, a cloud computing model, which a cloud provider manages and runs a server and at the same time manages the allocation of the resources involved.
Unlike having a server and underlying infrastructure being managed by a tech company or individual, the serverless computing model allows such companies to write and deploy codes and websites without having to pay attention or worry about the server.
Serverless computing is a product of many contributions by individuals and tech giants. Google with the launch of it’s Google App Engine in 2008 was the pioneer in this space. With such innovation, developers could create and deploy apps without having to worry about server infrastructure.
Amazon also launched Lambda, a similar interface in 2015, but with improvements. Developers could now deploy codes with absolutely no worries of operating system maintenance, scalability, or locality.
Many tech companies today opt for serverless computing for these reasons:
- Cheaper- not having to worry about the cost of procuring, maintain, and upgrading a server allows for time invested in other innovative tech solutions.
- No infrastructure- deploying a code used to mean driver support, redundancy, the swappable components, and the fault tolerating nature of the server. With serverless, you just need to think of is resource allocation in terms of memory and runtime which also needs to be paid for.
- Quick deployments and updates are possible as serverless computing has no need for a backend configuration in order to release the working version of any application or website as opposed to time spent managing a server.
Serverless Computing in Nigeria
As much as the world is advancing in the cloud and serverless computing, Nigeria still has some challenges:
- We face anxiety and fear of the government’s data policies. These policies are a result of the skepticism of government officials towards technology.
- There are security concerns for developers and tech companies in Nigeria. Since in serverless computing, the vendor runs the entire backend configuration process, there is an associated fear for the compromise of personal data. As such, companies like banks and fintech running online banking apps are wary of adopting this method of computing.
- Switching between vendors- vendors run the backend services for applications and that increases over-reliance. In addition to this, different vendors offer different services from each other, as such, migrating from one server vendor to the other might be difficult and at times an unwise decision.
Our way out?
Tech is like football, anything can happen. With the progression of time, improvements will be made to cover the lapses of serverless computing as explained in this article, but still, the good of serverless computing far outweighs the bad. It is undeniably a wonderful feeling to deploy an application or website without having to worry about the infrastructural peculiarities of a server.
The fact remains, Serverless computing is the now and the future, the sooner we get on board, the better for our progression.
Facebook takes on Zoom with its new video chat feature
Video-calling services have seen a sharp rise during the coronavirus pandemic with options like Zoom and its daily active users growing to 300 million.
Virtual Meetings have exploded in recent months with the Coronavirus outbreak forcing people to start working and socializing from home. Video-calling services have seen a sharp rise during the coronavirus pandemic with options like Zoom and its daily active users growing to 300 million in April.
Another popular option, the Houseparty, owned by Fortnite-maker Epic Games has been downloaded more than two million times as at the beginning of March and other apps, such as Microsoft Teams, offer premium features for free.
With the current trend and the need to meet the demands of teleconferencing, Facebook is jumping into video chat game with its product feature, Messenger Rooms, a new feature that will allow up to 50 people to take part in a video chat, even if they don’t have Facebook accounts.
Facebook has had a long and notorious history of expanding its features to emulate major competitors, from first launching stories on Instagram in 2016 as a clone of Snapchat. Now Facebook wants more of the video market and is trying to take on the now popular video sharing platform, Zoom (ZM).
Previously, the messenger video calls were limited to eight people but with this new video feature ‘Messenger Rooms,’ users can currently host a meeting with up 50 people at once with no time limit on its messenger app, it will also be added to the company’s other applications- WhatsApp will see that the maximum number of people who can simultaneously join a video call will increase from four to eight.
This new feature will be available on beta versions of WhatsApp for both Android and iOS. For making a video call with up to eight people, your WhatsApp must be running version 2.20.133 on Android and version 22.214.171.124 on iOS. The other condition is, the other participants that you’re looking to video and voice call, must also have the same beta version of WhatsApp running on their devices.
What’s the Catch?
Although these Messenger Rooms won’t be completely private, WhatsApp video and voice calls with up to eight people, will be end-to-end encrypted so no one else can view or listen in on private conversations, not even Facebook. Basically, end-to-end encryption is one of the main Unique Selling Points (USP) of the new video feature. Facebook is working to bring the security protocol to Messenger and Instagram Direct, so users will potentially be able to cross-platform chat across all these services one day, it’s easier said than done.
Like house party, the messenger rooms will let people drop in and out of the group video chats while the “room” is open just the way people have the ability to bump into each other in the physical world. Another catch of the new video feature is that users can create a Messenger Room that will be able to keep their room private, block unwanted participants, and send invitations to people who are not on Facebook.
Facebook is working to prevent the reoccurring issues its competitor’s faced like the “Zoombombing problem,” which let uninvited guests drop into video calls to abuse participants or share pornography. The company is working with cryptographers to make the links for the Messenger Rooms difficult for hackers to guess. Although, publicly discoverable rooms will be listed at the top of the Facebook news feed and chats will not be end-to-end encrypted. Possibly, this would be one of the reasons why Facebook may successfully take on Zoom with its security and end-to-end encrypted tactics.
Other features of the new video feature include:
- The ability to add eight people to a WhatsApp video call – up from four.
- The return of “Live With”, which lets users host Facebook Live streams with another person, to bring guests or performers on to their show.
- The ability to watch Instagram live videos on desktop computers.
- Participants will be able to use augmented reality filters and change their background in real-time.
Tech Roundup S02E19
The Nigeria tech space has seen major validation from global investors over the last few years, and reports
We conclude our Fintech Roundtable series, this time with a discussion on Fintech related investments.
The Nigeria tech space has seen major validation from global investors over the last few years, and reports show that over $400 million went into Fintech startups in 2019, and amid Covid-19, Nigeria based Fintechs have announced new rounds of investment this year but will this trend continue.
To help us unpack this, this panel discussion was led by Deji Sasegbon, Director of Platforms at EchoVC and a returning guest on
We covered several topics but focused on what investors might be doing differently going forward and how Investments in Fintech ideas and businesses across Africa might be impacted going forward.
Hope you find the episode interesting.
Digital Financial Literacy, a must for every Nigerian in Post-COVID
Nigeria has set a 95% digital literacy target for the next ten years under a Digital Economy Strategy in order to ramp up the contributions of the ICT sector to the Nigerian economy.
The importance of digital literacy in the furtherance of Nigeria’s economic growth is a topic that has proven to be extremely paramount especially in these forced changing times.
Truth is, talent training outlets are not in short supply in Nigeria; from Decagon to Learn Factory; there are a number of programmes offering advanced and specialized digital literacy skills in fields like software development, machine learning etc.
As a matter of fact, Nigeria has set a 95% digital literacy target for the next ten years under a Digital Economy Strategy in order to ramp up the contributions of the ICT sector to the Nigerian economy and last year, the sector accounted for 13.8% of the nation’s GDP which is more than the oil and gas sector on which the country has previously been heavily reliant.
The Lagos State Government since this pandemic collaborated with Microsoft Office to train 18,000 secondary school teachers on digital literacy in order to equip, train, and engage them to deliver on their duties through technology during this lockdown period.
(READ MORE: Digital financial services amid COVID-19)
However, digital financial literacy is a niche that still has not become mainstream as many would assume. For the reason of the evident gap in the country, we have companies like NetPlusDotCom organizing webinars to educate Nigerians on the importance of an inevitable shift to digital payments and financing post-COVID-19.
Unfortunately, there are a few challenges hindering the growth of digital financial literacy in Nigeria, they include:
- Policy Implementation: Already set regulations geared towards promoting digital literacy are not readily implemented.
- The regular school curriculum does not reflect a component of digital literacy skills that would be relevant in the future of work.
- High costs of infrastructures such as the Internet and power is one of the challenges faced in promoting digital financial literacy in Nigeria.
- There is a digital divide due to the existence of unreached communities who are not aware of the concept of digital literacy.
- Digital literacy has been termed too difficult to conceptualize resulting in unnecessary complexity for the understanding of the process to a layman.
- Resistance to Change: The general attitude of people towards change and what digital literacy offers, is a hindrance in promoting digital financial literacy.
- Skepticism of many unenlightened Nigerians.
- More citizen engagement and awareness of existing and new policies on digital literacy.
- Investment in research and development by the government and other institutions to help Nigerians be more conversant on international standards as it concerns promoting digital literacy.
- There should be a collaboration between organizations whose works are centered on digital literacy with schools in actualizing a more robust curriculum.
- The government should provide tax incentives/ reliefs for telecoms to enable them to reduce the costs of data. Telecoms can also provide ICT parks to allow for access to the internet.
- On inclusion, collaboration between Government, Multilateral organizations, and civil society groups should be considered to reach underserved communities possibly in the local language so as to avoid the language barrier.
- To ward off resistance to change, there should be orientation programs on the need and importance of digital literacy using the bottom-top approach of reaching out to grass-root individuals.