Workonline launches Remote Cloud Connect services in Africa

Global network service provider, Workonline Communications, has launched Remote Cloud Connect, facilitating access to cloud services for Workonline customers over a dedicated Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL) service. This low latency cloud solution enables customers to connect to leading cloud services such as AWS Direct Connect, Microsoft Azure Express Route, Google Cloud, Oracle and IBM cloud platforms more securely and transparently from any country where Workonline has a presence.

Benjamin Deveaux, Head of Business Development at Workonline Communications, says that the aim is to empower customers by enabling them to connect to the cloud through their use of the high performance Workonline backbone: “As a wholesale provider of IP transit services across Africa, we are continuously innovating to provide our ISP clients with more stable and reliable Internet services in Africa. By leveraging global cloud exchange platforms like Teraco’s Africa Cloud Exchange we can offer our ISP customers a more secure remote connection to a cloud provider of their choice. Through Remote Cloud Connect, clients will benefit from a low cost, high performance connection with excellent local support.”

In line with the predicted growth of cloud across the continent, Xalam Analytics recently published its report ‘The rise of the African cloud’, and says that for African markets, cloud, virtualisation and the broader evolution towards serverless computing are the most disruptive technology developments since the advent of the mobile payment revolution. Few other segments in the African ICT space are as likely to generate an incremental $2bn in top line revenue over the next five years, and at least as much in adjacent enabling ecosystem revenue.

Deveaux says that Workonline sees immense potential across East and West Africa within the remote connectivity to cloud services space in particular: “Initially our efforts will focus on Kenya and Ghana, where remote connectivity to cloud services is growing fast.”

Through Remote Cloud Connect, Workonline will deliver far more predictable latency connections by taking the shortest route from Kenya or Ghana back to its South African or European Points of Presence where the Cloud provider in question is present. Workonline will also provide secondary failover links for protection when possible, with transparency in terms of the paths which the traffic will take in various failure scenarios. These services can be provided at 1Mbps to multiples of 10Gbps.

Andrew Owens, Teraco peering and interconnection specialist, says that cloud growth is a reality across the continent and the ability for established networks to provide an on-ramp to cloud is essential: “The Africa Cloud Exchange not only enables networks to provide this connection, but also encourages the growth and development of cloud-based solutions. By providing a direct and secure connection, the platform provides a better cloud experience for end users and as a result, empowers the growth and success of African cloud providers.”

www.workonline.africa

[Column] Toney Wabela: Technological disruption looming for Africa’s data network market

Sometimes a disruptive technology can loiter for a while, before it changes everything. Yet change it will bring, because nothing and no one can defy gravity. So it is, I believe, with the new generation of open compute infrastructure.

For, as the world creates data, there’s an equal demand for resources to store, process and make sense from this data to drive business value. 

All the thousands of ledgers that used to be created manually now generate legions of data threads, expanded by ever more automation and cross-relationships, driving further data and data processes. Our data revolution has created new data flows, again, from our communication, seeing global hyperscale companies create hundreds of thousands of square metres of data centres to hold and process their millions of users’ data.

These data centres need power to run the servers, cooling systems and security systems, maintain an optimal ambient temperature, and keep the air dust-free. And this power has been creating a galloping electricity bill in recent years, to such an extent that hyperscalers started investing in R&D to design more energy efficient computing infrastructure. 

Two years of design engineering gave birth to the Open Compute Project (OCP), a radical and bold move by leading hyperscalers to create non-proprietary data centre hardware that achieved a significant milestone in energy efficiency and reduced total cost of ownership. This move has been well received by other players in the technology innovation space, with leading chip and switch makers joining OCP. More than 1,000 globally leading hardware engineers have since contributed to and continue to make improvements to these free, state-of-the-art blueprints for data centre infrastructure. 

And thus, in one step, hardware has been added to the open source revolution that brought the world software from Joomla to Sugar and Linux to Steam as ever-expanding communities of technical contributors.

The chase could not be more timely, with OCP evolving just as cloud computing has been moving into a new gear. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market has been rising for the last 20 years, beginning with customer relationship management services, and steadily claiming ever more software space, from mailing lists to payroll, book-keeping to word processing.

With each new SaaS offering, the cloud grows bigger, and the need for data centres greater. 

Yet as a next wave of disruptive technology, OCP has barely appeared on the radar.

Using OCP equipment, versus the kit available from the world’s top brand names, has thus far demonstrated a significant reduction in the total cost of ownership and maintenance of data centre infrastructure. We have been able to register savings of over 40 per cent in implementation as well as licensing costs. 

Now that’s a big enough difference to change equations everywhere, but for companies like ours, working to effect a technology revolution in Africa, that’s akin to a beacon in the dark. The costs of equipping data centres have almost been halved, putting these centres within the reach of many small and medium sized businesses, as well as offering our nations’ largest companies and government, an opportunity to significantly reduce their operating expenditures attributed to data centre maintenance.

At my own company, we have seized this opportunity, becoming the first Cloud services provider in Africa to introduce OCP hardware at the East Africa Data Centre, one of the largest data centres in the continent which has been set up in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. 

This OCP infrastructure is currently the backbone of our innovative SaaS solutions which includes iLearn, a learning management system for state primary schools that has been designed, developed and tested in collaboration with professional Kenyan teachers, with the digital learning content vetted and approved by the government. This interactive learner centred platform can be accessed by teachers and pupils from any part of the country through a smartphone, tablet or laptop, thereby proliferating digital literacy in the country. 

We are also using this OCP infrastructure to power our private, public and hybrid cloud services. 

Thus, by using data centre infrastructure that is cost efficient all the time as our foundation, we have created an entire pyramid of more accessible and locally relevant services and software for our African clients.

In short, from the Open Compute Project we have initiated a programme to open computing services to businesses throughout Africa, encompassing organisations that could never have stepped so quickly or so lightly into the cloud were it’s still on offer only at more than double the price.

We believe that the capacity for OCP to play its part in bridging the digital divide has been remarkably overlooked until now.

But we also see this technology as a disruptor that the hardware industry and the global cloud services providers have barely understood, as yet. For, with hundreds of our finest hardware engineers engaged in constantly upgrading OCP designs, and the resulting infrastructure out-competing proprietary infrastructure at a fraction of the price, it can only be so long before data centres make OCP the global standard, forcing proprietary brands to reassess their unique selling points.

For Africa, the move to OCP and the opening of the cloud to hundreds of thousands of companies and millions of citizens, cannot come soon enough. That’s why we have made it begin. OCP is no doubt the future in data centre infrastructure, just as SaaS became the present in software.

Toney Webala is the Co-Founder and CTO at Atlancis Technologies 

DR Congo government partners with New Cloud Technologies to boost cloud infrastructure

The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Russian company New Cloud Technologies has entered into a partnership.

The agreement was signed with the backing of the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation represented by Minister Konstantin Noskov and deputy minister Mikhail Mamonov.

Under the agreement licenses are to be made available for the productivity suite MyOffice support is to be provided to develop state and corporate cloud infrastructure in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and support is to be provided for education initiatives.

MyOffice is a Russian productivity software suite for communication and shared editing of documents on any technology platform which also offers full control over data by the business and government organizations using it.

The MyOffice ecosystem comprises:

  • cross-platform text editing, spreadsheet and presentation, email, calendar and contacts applications
  • a cloud-based data storage solution that allows the sharing of documents by multiple users
  • mobile applications allowing users to use the solution on their smartphones
  • a special free version for use in schools and pre-schools.

MyOffice offers secure data processing within state and corporate clouds. MyOffice technologies easily integrate with third party software on any devices and can be used to automate business processes within companies of any size. Users can access the solution from desktops and laptops as well as smartphones and tablet PCs. All the popular operating systems are supported.

Special MyOffice Education versions are available for educational institutions. These versions include an additional module that teachers can set up in accordance with the topic of a specific class. This version is offered free of charge to schools and pre-schools. Higher education institutions can buy all the products of the company with large discounts of up to 93% the business price of MyOffice.

“The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the first governments in Africa to begin a digital transformation of the government agencies and to start buying new hardware and software for them. We’re also making every effort to develop our education system. We’re interested in using the secure Russian MyOffice software package for shared access to documents. It offers very good protection against unauthorized access to data as well as flexible integration capabilities,” said Vidiye Tshipanda Tshimanga, Strategy Advisor to the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a country with great potential. The bulk of its population is made up of active young people aged 13 to 25 who need to get a good education and are willing to put in serious effort to further develop their country. Experts estimate that by 2025 there are going to be over 200 million computers and over 300 million smartphones in Africa. This means that the foundations of a safe digital infrastructure need to be laid down today and digital sovereignty of the country and its business needs to be developed now, efforts also need to be directed at educating the population in computer literacy. My Office allows these processes to begin now,” said Dmitry Komissarov, New Cloud Technologies CEO.

“Africa is one of the most promising destinations for the export of Russian technologies. Our ministry is making every effort to create conditions conducive to the development of Russian business in Africa and we support private business initiatives. Our cooperation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a clear confirmation of that. We hope that users like the quality of Russian IT solutions,” said Konstantin Noskov, Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the fastest growing countries in Africa. The country’s GDP has seen sustained growth over the past 10 years, reaching USD 47.23 billion in 2018 when it was up 5.82% on 2017. In the past 30 years the population of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has doubled, reaching 92 million people. Meanwhile 65.5% of the population are younger than 24 and the median age in the country is just 18.

www.ncloudtech.com

[South Africa] Euphoria Telecom launches cloud based telephone management system to boost business efficiency

Euphoria Telecom has launched the latest version of its market leading cloud-based business Telephone Management System (TMS).

The new TMS version 3 is packed with easy-to-use features and is capable of significantly improving business efficiency whilst delivering powerful reporting and workforce management capabilities.

Designed specifically for the South African market and using international best practice development methodologies, the Euphoria TMS is at the cutting edge of new technology.

Euphoria Telecom CEO John Woollam says the system empowers businesses to control, manage, automate, personalise and analyse every aspect of a company’s phone system from one central point. “You simply log-in to the TMS, from anywhere, make any change you require and it’s done. It’s as simple as that. “

“The new TMS is the result of nine years of building, learning and developing – and the end product is incredible. All the basics that our customers love are still available, but they are now even easier to use. And there is a host of additional features that are accessible through an upgraded web interface which is faster and better than ever before,” he explains.

Version 3 functionality offers multiple features such as per-extension based budgeting, mobile device applications (for both Android and IOS) that ensure full landline mobility and remote office deployment. Customers can also access browser phone applications, POPIA compliant call recording, global contact manager and extremely rich reporting tools.

Furthermore, overseeing team members is simplified with the new ‘User Manager’ feature that provides business owners with the freedom to give team leaders and managers access to specific sections of the TMS. By setting permissions for certain users, managers can easily control access to sensitive team data.

He says the real differences are the security layers. “Our TMS user interface allows full PBX control of every aspect, enabling management to restrict and secure their business phone system data and user functionality as required.”

“Reporting is a dream with Euphoria’s proactive scheduled reporting feature. One can now schedule reports to be delivered directly into your inbox hourly, daily, weekly or monthly. Version 3 also offers our customers the opportunity to design their own personalised reports,” he adds.

Woollam says customer satisfaction is the name of the game. “The customer experience can easily be managed with our SLA answer time adherence feature that provides you with a better understanding of your customer wait-to-answer times and overall experience.”

Management features include detailed drilldown functionality as well as great workforce management control in being able to create company specific pause and unpause codes, providing greater control of user productivity.

With stricter governance and data protection laws, it is important for every business to understand how long they need to keep customer data. Euphoria has made this extremely easy because business owners can now choose how long they want to keep their data, when it must be deleted and who exactly has access to that data.

Euphoria ensures that all data is safe and securely backed up, it is stored in top data centres across South Africa and Europe.

“We know that collaboration with other platforms through our integration technology is a critical component of our latest version. We have worked extremely hard to develop advanced Webhook features that make it possible for customers to integrate with other platforms that allow for API integration,” he explains.

Euphoria Telecom has always strived to give the power back to its customers. With over 4000 happy customers migrating to the new version, the company aims to improve the user experience while simultaneously enabling businesses to improve their general operational efficiency.

“We offer so much more than a just a phone system, we provide a game changing business tool that can take companies of all sizes to the next level,” he concludes.

www.euphoria.co.za

[Column] Sandra Crous: Cloud is the future of payroll

Cloud technologies are becoming more popular than ever before, with research from RightScale revealing that some 94% of organisations are using the cloud in some capacity within their businesses.

“This is seeing many businesses adopting a strategy where they consider operating a process, workflow, or similar in the cloud before looking at on-premise alternatives,” says Sandra Crous, Managing Director of cloud-based payroll and human capital management software, PaySpace.

She says they are doing this to take advantage of the many benefits that cloud offers, such as cost efficiencies, streamlined operations, and automatic updates among many others. “A cloud strategy has the potential to save a lot of time and money for businesses, and nowhere is this truer than with payroll and HR solutions.”

There are many benefits of going the cloud route, adds Crous. “Firstly, the need for less hardware. Going the cloud route means that corporates have to spend far less on maintaining legacy hardware and infrastructure, and the space needed to house it all. Maintenance costs are built into service provider contracts, eliminating the need for in-house support staff in the event that something goes wrong.”

In addition, businesses don’t need to worry about the technology, as they will automatically have access to the latest and best software, without having to physically install it, or worry about the ongoing maintenance and upgrades needed to keep it up to date, because these are done regularly and automatically, says Crous.

There is no large capital outlay, she explains. “With any ‘pay-as-you-use’ model, companies can benefit from economies of scale, as pricing is flexible, with packages to suit companies of every size. There is also far greater flexibility, as businesses can instantly scale up or down according to their needs, with no manual intervention. And with an increasingly mobile workforce, having a cloud solution enables employees to work more easily on the go. As long as they have an internet connection and a mobile device they can work from anywhere, at any time.”

Most cloud-based payroll software solutions, for example, will also calculate the correct amount each employee should be paid, and helps keep track of each staff member’s work records, including leave, benefits, taxes and overtime which not only saves a lot of payroll processing time by removing the need for manual input, it also offers real-time information for the business.

However, Crous says perhaps the most compelling benefits, are the increased security and compliance that cloud solutions can offer. “Automatic software upgrades mean that your provider takes care of installing security updates, which means that remaining secure is hassle-free.”

In terms of compliance, she says keeping up to date with staff contract changes, as well as governance can be a very onerous task because payroll and HR processing is complex and governed by numerous sets of regulations at different levels. “This complexity is  increased when a business has offices all over the world, but a good cloud solution will automatically update information concerning new regulations, and ensure your business remains compliant at all times, and in all of its offices.”

This is particularly important when you are dealing with personal data, such as payroll information, she says. “Loss or theft of this data could result in hefty fines being levied against your organisation, not to mention a loss of customer confidence which can prove to be catastrophic.”

“Take a look at PaySpace’s cloud-based payroll and HR solution. Usually, when you buy a payroll or HR package, it needs to be configured from scratch. It is like a book with blank pages, all your data needs to be captured, and all your settings configured to ensure your business remains compliant. However, PaySpace takes all the information and configures the earnings, deductions such as UIF, and handles compliance in the background, ensuring not only a seamless start but taking the hassle out of ensuring your business remains fully compliant.” 

Sandra Crous is the Managing Director of cloud-based payroll and human capital management software, PaySpace.

[Column] Flora Kangethe: Customer service to backend – How cloud-based AI enables modernisation of business

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is proving to be a key technology in delivering improved customer experience and exceeding customer expectations. It is also a highly effective way for countries to achieve their economic growth and sustainability objectives.

In Kenya, emerging digital technologies are considered a significant part of national development plans, and have enjoyed significant support from the country’s leaders. This has led to the introduction of a host of development initiatives that leverage the potential of the latest cloud technologies that are powered by machine learning.

Possibly the most notable early adopter of AI in Kenya is the Kenyan government itself, which is also one of the top performers in Africa as per the Government Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index 2019. According to the report, it’s estimated that AI will add US$15 trillion to the global economy by 2030. However, the report findings also reveal that governments in the Global North are still better positioned to reap the benefits of AI than their southern counterparts. This poses a risk to countries in the Global South as they may not be fully prepared to succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

As noted in the Readiness Index 2019 report, “AI has the power to transform the way governments around the world deliver public services. In turn, this could greatly improve citizens’ experiences of government. Governments are already implementing AI in their operations and service delivery, to improve efficiency, save time and money, and deliver better quality public services.”

As one example of their efforts to improve the local socio-economic direction of the country, the Kenyan government has committed to using AI to help assess citizens’ eligibility for affordable housing. The AI technology will assist in allocating 500,000 new affordable homes by checking applicants’ credit histories and smartphone wallet transaction history sourced through the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB).

The government is also making use of AI technology to verify and authenticate voters during election campaigns. Biometric technology was used by the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) to ensure that votes were cast only after fingerprint and photo authentication.

Oracle is the first organisation to take AI even further by embedding this technology in its cloud applications. By leveraging AI organisations can unlock significant value not only for their customers but for themselves in the form of greater operational efficiencies and cost savings.

AI in customer service

A best practise AI use case is in customer service. When used in this area of the business, chatbots can reduce the cost to serve customers, while improving the response time, consistency and quality of customer interactions. Similar benefits arise when the chatbot is customer-facing or when used by agents themselves to augment their knowledge.

Oracle recently announced the extended and evolved availability of its AI-trained Oracle Digital Assistant. Now users can use voice commands to communicate with their Oracle enterprise applications to drive desired actions and outcomes. The technology enriches the user experience with conversational AI, simplifying interactions and improving productivity.

This feature has already been of exceptional importance to the international organisation, Industries for the Blind and Visually Impaired (IBVI), who employ blind people for a wide range of jobs – from assembly to various customer service and office roles. Switching to Oracle Cloud Applications, the organisation aims to improve product quality and accuracy around factors such as shipment status and inventory.

Since implementing the new Oracle Cloud Applications with Oracle Digital Assistant, IBVI has been able to create new independent roles (no sighted assistance required, where one sighted person for every four blind employees was required previously) in customer service, human resources, and financial management.

It’s not just about chatbots: Automation across both sales and marketing processes can improve quote-to-cash turnaround times and reduce administrative workloads while allowing for a level of personalised messaging to customers that were previously unachievable. As these examples attest, AI-embedded cloud systems have the power to deliver value whether as the mechanism for customer interaction (as in the case of chatbots) or in support of those responsible for it.

AI in HR

For Kenya – the highest-ranked African nation on the Government Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index 2019 – to stay ahead of the AI curb, the focus needs to be shifted to the adoption of cloud-based business systems that embed the technology in the application itself, unlocking automation capabilities by default.

HR is one such example, where the use of AI to understand and automate processes, can lead to significant efficiency gains. It can be used to identify staff who may be thinking about leaving or to recommend learning paths, thereby reducing employee attrition.

In the world of procurement, the use of AI within Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems can identify deviations from compliance requirements in contracting, enforce approval processes, and automate requisition through invoice matching and payment. The automation of these processes allows organisations to reliably produce outcomes while enabling their employees to focus on tasks that deliver more strategic value to the organisation.

Much has been made of the abilities of AI to bring significant value to the customer – and rightly so. AI can produce repeatable, scalable, and reliable outcomes for customers, improving their overall experience. However, AI can also deliver enormous efficiency through various lines of business and across roles, creating a more streamlined organisation that is more able to focus on creating client value.

Flora Kangetheis the Applications Sales Director, Oracle Kenya

Westcon-Comstor unveils CloudCall to boost business operations

Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa has announced the availability of CloudCall, which integrates the communication and collaboration features of Microsoft Teams with the advanced voice processing of AudioCodes.

 It has been developed in partnership with South African cloud development specialists Argantic. CloudCall removes the need to buy and maintain expensive hardware and software and protects existing investments by integrating with PBX systems.

CloudCall is suitable for companies of any size as it can easily scale according to the number and type of users in the organisation. Partners who sell the service can offer value-added features such as tailored reports with usage, session and device information.

CloudCall can also be deployed as a fully functional IP calling system. It combines the meeting functionality, video recording and conferencing features inherent in Microsoft Teams for improved collaboration in a cloud environment.

www.westconcomstor.com

OmniClouds implements Nokia’s solution to improve cloud connectivity for businesses in EMEA

Nokia has announced that its Nuage Networks SD-WAN 2.0 solution has been implemented by OmniClouds, leading cloud service provider and migrator, to improve and optimize cloud connectivity for enterprise customers throughout the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

The deal will be a boost for enterprises in the region, as they are currently held back by a shortage of native cloud service providers and a challenging reach to public cloud data centers.

Nokia’s Nuage Networks will build and operate its SD-WAN 2.0 network, enabling OmniClouds to connect enterprise customers over a large coverage area – touching all key public cloud data centers with dedicated infrastructure in a flexible and cost-efficient way. With this deal, OmniClouds is focused on easing its customers’ migration to hybrid or full public cloud, with support ranging from consulting to connectivity services.

Paired with Nuage Networks’ SD-WAN 2.0 solution, OmniClouds customers will have a secure and scalable way to connect with data centers, private clouds, software-as-a-solution (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-solution (IaaS) providers. This is a huge shift for the region, as in many areas enterprise customers are currently unable to connect to their cloud environments, data centers and remote locations in this way.

OmniClouds will not only provide full cloud connectivity, but will also use Nuage Networks’ SD-WAN 2.0 as an overlay to existing connectivity technologies, such as IP-MPLS, microwave, satellite or public internet, to automate operations and enhance connectivity over large geographic regions. This will give its enterprise customers a central management view of the entire network, enabling them to easily control security, user permissions and parameters, such as latency and quality of service.

OmniClouds will use Nuage Networks’ SD-WAN 2.0 gateways at each of the region’s main cloud service providers, which connect with SD-WAN CPE gateways at the enterprises’ data centers, headquarters and branch operations. This dramatically reduces customer operating costs, smooths their adoption of cloud services and enables widespread connectivity across distant locations.

Amr A Eid, Chief Executive Officer and Board Member, OmniClouds, said: “We are the trusted partner of enterprise customers in the Middle East and Africa region when they need help in migrating to the cloud. The Nuage Networks SD-WAN 2.0 solution plays a critical part in smoothing their move to the cloud by simplifying the operational side and providing the security and assurance they need for such a critical part of their business.”

Roque Lozano, Vice President of IP & Optics for Middle East and Africa, Nokia, said: “OmniClouds is using Nokia Nuage Networks SD-WAN 2.0 solution as a powerful platform for offering cloud services to MEA regional businesses. It not only manages cloud connectivity, but also automates and simplifies many operations, eliminating any boundaries imposed by the underlying connectivity technology. It will play a key part in OmniClouds’ mission to further the adoption of cloud and to support the digital transformation of MEA businesses and organizations.”

www.nokia.com

www.omniclouds.com

Organizations worldwide failing to adequately protect sensitive data in the cloud, Thales study

A new global study from Thales, with research from the Ponemon Institute, has exposed an increasing disparity between the rapid growth of data stored in the cloud and an organization’s approach to cloud security.

 Although nearly half (48%) of corporate data is stored in the cloud, only a third (32%) of organizations admit they employ a security-first approach to data storage in the cloud.

Surveying over 3,000 IT and IT security practitioners in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, India Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, the research found that only one in three (31%) organizations believe that protecting data in the cloud is their own responsibility.

Increased multi-cloud cloud use, but with risks

With the proliferation of cloud-based services, businesses and other organizations are increasingly dependent on cloud providers.

 In fact, nearly half (48%) of organizations have a multi-cloud strategy, with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and IBM being the top three. The study found that, on average, organizations use three different cloud service providers and over a quarter (28%) are using four or more.

Despite storing sensitive data in the cloud, nearly half (46%) surveyed revealed that storing consumer data in the cloud makes them more of a security risk. Over half (56%) also noted that it posed a compliance risk.

 In addition, organizations believe that cloud service providers bear the most responsibility for sensitive data in the cloud (35%), ahead of shared responsibility (33%) and themselves (31%). Even though businesses are pushing the responsibility to cloud providers, only 23% say security is a factor in selecting them.

“With businesses increasingly looking to use multiple cloud platforms and providers, it’s vital they understand what data is being stored and where,” said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “Not knowing this information makes it essentially impossible to protect the most sensitive data –ultimately leaving these organizations at risk. We’d encourage all companies to take responsibility for understanding where their data sits to ensure it’s safe and secure.”

Encryption increasing, but organizations handing over keys to cloud providers

Roughly half (51%) of businesses and other organizations still do not use encryption or tokenization to protect sensitive data in the cloud. The study uncovered regional disparities in terms of data security, with German organizations being the most advanced in their use of encryption at 66%.

Organizations are handing over the keys to their encrypted data to cloud providers. Nearly half of cloud companies (44%) provide the encryption keys when data is encrypted in the cloud, ahead of in-house teams (36%) and third parties (19%).

On top of this, 53% are controlling these encryption keys themselves, despite 78% saying it’s important their organization retains control of the keys.

Over half of businesses (54%) think cloud storage makes it more difficult to protect sensitive data, up from 49% last year. More than 70% believe that data in a cloud environment is harder to protect due to the complexity of managing privacy and data protection regulations, while an additional two-thirds (67%) cited the difficulty of applying conventional security methods in the cloud.

“This study shows that businesses today are taking advantage of the opportunities that new cloud options offer, but aren’t adequately addressing data security,” said Tina Stewart, vice president of market strategy for cloud protection and licensing activity at Thales. “Having pushed the responsibility towards cloud providers, it is surprising to see that security is not a primary factor during the selection process. It doesn’t matter what model or provider you choose, the security of your business’ data in the cloud has to be your responsibility. Your organization’s reputation is on the line when a data breach occurs, so it is critical to ensure in-house teams keep a close eye on your security posture and always retain control of encryption keys.”

www.thalesgroup.com

[Egypt] American University in Cairo moves to Ellucian cloud to drive innovation and digital transformation

Ellucian, the leading provider of software and services built to power higher education has announced that the American University in Cairo (AUC), an Ellucian customer since 1995, has decided to move its Ellucian Banner student information systems (SIS) to the cloud. Moving its SIS to the cloud is the first step in AUC’s larger mission to drive innovation for student success.

As AUC embarks on an ambitious strategy to digitally transform the university experience, it will focus on three main goals: real-time access to services and information from digital touchpoints, open yet secure data, and innovation beyond the campus. The basis of this transformation is cloud technology and will require AUC to move all IT systems to the cloud.

“AUC is on a continuous journey to enhance its student experience by adopting state of the art transformative technologies that will support and enable students in all facets of their study at AUC. We also needed to follow a technology framework that would allow us to maintain and excel in our services, and ensure compliance and security while maintaining agility and flexibility necessary for today’s organization,” said American University in Cairo Associate Vice President for Digital Innovation and Chief Strategy Officer, Iman Megahed. “This simply meant adopting a robust cloud strategy and maintaining strategic partnerships that would value our student’s needs and support our institutions priorities.”

Choosing Banner Cloud gives AUC a springboard to move other technology to the cloud and enables the integration of solutions across all departments. Banner cloud allows AUC to easily access the most current application releases and provide the most modern, mobile user experience to students and faculty alike.

“All aspects of this project have been closely evaluated and we knew it would be a lot of work – but only initially,” said American University in Cairo Project Manager Shereen Gamal. “Moving to the cloud was our best option for relief from the ongoing overhead of system maintenance, troubleshooting and upgrades. Everything on the cloud is managed by the vendor, hence we know that we will always receive the best quality of service.”

“Cloud is the new era for technology. We are very excited about the agility that the cloud experience will offer us, said American University of Cairo Director, Technology Solutions Nouran Maher. “No more downtime and no more running out of resources during peak times. We will be able to deliver what we promise to our students––a reliable, robust and innovative system.”

“We are excited to partner with AUC as they move to the cloud and embark on their student-focused digital transformation,” said Ellucian President and CEO Laura Ipsen. “AUC is dedicated to leading the way on global trends, not just to attract students in today’s market, but also to ensure they are using the latest technology as they innovate for tomorrow.”

www.ellucian.com