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

Cloud IT infrastructure revenues decline amid a slowdown in overall spending, IDC

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Cloud IT Infrastructure Tracker, vendor revenue from sales of IT infrastructure products (server, enterprise storage, and Ethernet switch) for cloud environments, including public and private cloud, declined 10.2% year over year in the second quarter of 2019 (2Q19), reaching $14.1 billion.

 IDC also lowered its forecast for total spending on cloud IT infrastructure in 2019 to $63.6 billion, down 4.9% from last quarter’s forecast and changing from expected growth to a year-over-year decline of 2.1%.

Vendor revenue from hardware infrastructure sales to public cloud environments in 2Q19 was down 0.9% compared to the previous quarter (1Q19) and down 15.1% year over year to $9.4 billion. This segment of the market continues to be highly impacted by demand from a handful of hyperscale service providers, whose spending on IT infrastructure tends to have visible up and down swings.

After a strong performance in 2018, IDC expects the public cloud IT infrastructure segment to cool down in 2019 with spend dropping to $42.0 billion, a 6.7% decrease from 2018. Although it will continue to account for most of the spending on cloud IT environments, its share will decrease from 69.4% in 2018 to 66.1% in 2019. In contrast, spending on private cloud IT infrastructure has showed more stable growth since IDC started tracking sales of IT infrastructure products in various deployment environments.

 In the second quarter of 2019, vendor revenues from private cloud environments increased 1.5% year over year reaching $4.6 billion. IDC expects spending in this segment to grow 8.4% year over year in 2019.

Overall, the IT infrastructure industry is at crossing point in terms of product sales to cloud vs. traditional IT environments. In 3Q18, vendor revenues from cloud IT environments climbed over the 50% mark for the first time but fell below this important tipping point since then.

 In 2Q19, cloud IT environments accounted for 48.4% of vendor revenues. For the full year 2019, spending on cloud IT infrastructure will remain just below the 50% mark at 49.0%. Longer-term, however, IDC expects that spending on cloud IT infrastructure will grow steadily and will sustainably exceed the level of spending on traditional IT infrastructure in 2020 and beyond.

Spending on the three technology segments in cloud IT environments is forecast to deliver growth for Ethernet switches while compute platforms and storage platforms are expected to decline in 2019.

Ethernet switches are expected to grow at 13.1%, while spending on storage platforms will decline at 6.8% and compute platforms will decline by 2.4%. Compute will remain the largest category of spending on cloud IT infrastructure at $33.8 billion.

Sales of IT infrastructure products into traditional (non-cloud) IT environments declined 6.6% from a year ago in Q219. For the full year 2019, worldwide spending on traditional non-cloud IT infrastructure is expected to decline by 5.8%, as the technology refresh cycle driving market growth in 2018 is winding down this year. By 2023, IDC expects that traditional non-cloud IT infrastructure will only represent 41.8% of total worldwide IT infrastructure spending (down from 52.0% in 2018). This share loss and the growing share of cloud environments in overall spending on IT infrastructure is common across all regions.

Most regions grew their cloud IT Infrastructure revenues in 2Q19. Middle East & Africa was fastest growing at 29.3% year over year, followed by Canada at 15.6% year-over-year growth. Other growing regions in 2Q19 included Central & Eastern Europe (6.5%), Japan (5.9%), and Western Europe (3.1%). Cloud IT Infrastructure revenues were down slightly year over year in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) (APeJ) by 7.7%, Latin America by 14.2%, China by 6.9%, and the USA by 16.3%.

www.idc.com

Oracle to expand cloud infrastructure globally

Technology company Oracle has announced plans to expand quickly its cloud infrastructure around the world for hosting customer applications.

The company launched 12 new cloud regions in the past year, and plans another three new sites this year as part of the expansion announced in October 2018. Additional redundant and new sites will be added over the coming year, to take the company to a total 36 cloud regions around the world.

Based on customer feedback, the company has decided to build redundant regions in almost every country where it operates.

This will occur over the next 15 months, while also adding multiple new countries. When the expansion plan is completed, Oracle will have multiple regions in 10 countries and the EU, and multiple government clusters. It’s adding in total 20 new regions to the 16 it already operates – 17 for commercial use and three for government use.

New regions will be built in the Bay area in California; Montreal; Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Newport, Wales; Amsterdam; Osaka, Japan; Melbourne; Hyderabad; Chuncheon, South Korea; Singapore; Jeddah and another city (TBD) in Saudi Arabia; Dubai and another city (TBD) in UAE; Israel (city TBD); South Africa (city TBD); and Chile (city TBD). The government regions will be Newport and London in the UK and in Israel.

www.oracle.com

[South Africa] Kukula.com implements Sabre’s cloud based solution to improve airport experience for customers

As an airline at the forefront of innovation, South African carrier kulula.com is reinventing the airport experience for its customers, with the implementation of Sabre’s new Digital Workspace solution.

Digital Workspace, Sabre’s first completely cloud-based solution, will enable airport agents to deliver a seamless and personalized airport experience to customers. This solution equips agents with workflows that eliminate the traditional linear check-in procedure and improve agent productivity by up to 30 percent compared to current processes. This innovative new technology will be rolled out across all the airports that kulula.com serves, assisting more than 1,200 agents. Travelers on kulula.com can therefore expect shorter queuing times and enjoy a hassle-free check-in experience.

“Investing in new, digital technologies is crucial to our strategy, which centers around improving the travel experience for our passengers,” said Wrenelle Stander, executive director – Airline Division, kulula.com.  “In today’s digital world, our customers expect a reimagined air travel experience, and Sabre’s digital technology will help us achieve our goal of becoming the most visionary and customer-centric carriers on the African continent.  With Sabre’s Digital Workspace, we will transform the airport experience to be more seamless, more personalized and less stressful – moving us a step closer to a fully digital integrated operation.”

Digital Workspace is part of Sabre’s Commercial Platform, an innovative new solution that delivers end-to-end personalized retailing and enables airlines to successfully retail, distribute and fulfil across all customer touchpoints.  Announced last year, the Sabre Commercial Platform is completely transforming airlines into intelligent digital entities – through advanced retailing, dynamic pricing, an open API hub, an ultra-fast shopping engine and a mobile, consumer-grade workspace for airport agents.

“Today’s digitally-savvy travelers are expecting a more seamless experience from their airlines,” said Sabre’s Dino Gelmetti, vice president, sales – Middle East and Africa.  “Passing through the airport is traditionally one of the most stressful aspects of travel, so reducing queuing times and check points will make a huge difference for kulula.com’s customers. kulula.com is one of the most progressive airlines in Africa, and Sabre’s cutting-edge technology will enable it to differentiate itself within a highly competitive and challenging environment – improving efficiencies and creating an unrivaled customer experience.”

Investments in the Sabre Commercial Platform accelerate innovation beyond the core SabreSonic passenger service system to enable airlines to maximize revenue and deliver end-to-end personalized retailing.

www.kulula.com

www.sabre.com

[South Africa] SilverBridge bets on cloud to bolster insurance uptake and experience

With more than two decades’ experience in the insurance market, SilverBridge has continually evolved to deliver on market requirements. With the significant investment by global cloud providers in the country, the organization is well positioned to continue doing so.

“The company has always built specialized solutions for insurers and delivered a unique set of services to its customers. Historically, this has seen our policy administration solution, Exergy being deployed on-premise using customer infrastructure,” says Lee Kuyper, COO at SilverBridge.

However, with the cloud becoming a strategic priority for many organizations, the groundwork the organisation has done with its partnership with Microsoft over the years is positioning it strongly for the next phase of its journey.

“This has seen SilverBridge working closely with Microsoft to re-architect our solutions for the cloud. Three years ago, SilverBridge moved its first customer to the Microsoft Azure cloud. The timing was opportune as this was the same time that Microsoft was changing their business model to a cloud consumption business. Since then, Microsoft has invested heavily a local data centre, which together with their focus on security and compliance, has allayed any concerns financial services providers may have when migrating to a cloud environment. With Microsoft as a secure and available platform, SilverBridge is highlighting the ability of the cloud to provide insurers with a more cost-effective, secure, and powerful alternative to traditional hosted solutions.”

Subsequently, as a Microsoft Managed Partner, SilverBridge has continued to work closely with the organisation and has resulted in Exergy becoming a Microsoft Prioritised Co-Sell Ready solution for the Middle East and Africa region. This means that Microsoft will incentivise its own sales teams to sell the Exergy solution.

“We are excited with these partnership developments, with Microsoft backing SilverBridge as a leading solutions provider in the insurance industry. This puts us in a great position to assist our clients in getting value from the cloud in their businesses. SilverBridge is in a position to continue, with Microsoft, to bring solutions to the insurance industry which not only benefit from SilverBridge’s industry specific experience and expertise, but also Microsoft’s leading technology,” concludes Kuyper.

www.silverbridge.co.za

Kenyan cloud services company Atlancis Technologies becomes the first to adopt OCP in Africa

 Atlancis Technologies, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, is the first ICT services provider in Africa to embrace OCP.

The company, which specializes in delivering ecosystem-transforming ICT solutions, has adopted open technology for its industry Cloud platforms, branded Servannah.

The founders of AtlancisToney Webala and Daniel Njuguna had been closely following the deployment of OCP and its benefits to global hyper-scale companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft to deliver value, optimised performance, total and rapid scalability and ultimately competitive advantage. In developing scalable delivery of industry solutions they were excited about the opportunity to leverage these proven, efficient technologies in Kenya and across Africa.

In partnership with Vesper Technologies, an OCP Community member based in the UK, Atlancis were able to deploy their first fully self-service cloud instance. Vesper delivered a full-stack solution configured with Software Defined Storage (from Ceph) and Software Defined Networking (from Cumulus Networks), providing an environment built for automation and scalability. The initial roll-out included 27 nodes, 1080 Core’s, 5TB RAM, 2.4 Petabytes storage and high performance 100GB Top-of-Rack switching with redundant 25G links to each node.

Philip Kaye from Vesper Technologies commented, “Vesper are delighted to work with Atlancis, who are an extremely technical and forward-thinking company. We look forward to continuing to work with the team as their cloud platform expands across Kenya and Africa.”

“The Open Compute Project is the basis of our go-to-market strategies for transforming target industry ecosystems globally” said Dan Njuguna, Co-Founder and CEO of Atlancis; he continued, “our hardware design, inspired by OCP, gives incredible flexibility and scalability to allow us to respond to demand in the enormous markets we operate in, and to move quickly into new markets, be they industries or geographical.”

Atlancis sees several additional benefits to deploying OCP, among them, building and maintaining open technology in-country, using crowd-sourced local resources. To this end, Atlancis has been working with local Universities across Kenya to help develop talent that can compete in supporting the ecosystem needs of tomorrow with a special Outlining further OCP deployments in Africa, Njuguna said, “Our OCP-based Servannah Cloud solutions have been deployed in the Public Sector (“Huduma”) and Education (“iLearn”), as we develop further industries including Healthcare, Agriculture and Transport.”

www.atlancis.com

[Column] Simon McCullough: Multi-cloud is redefining app development

Let’s take a look at how multi-cloud is changing the app development game and bringing previously siloed teams closer together.

Multi-cloud has moved from tentative experiment to a fundamental component of IT strategies. From developers to security teams, workloads are migrating to the cloud in one way or another, whether you know it or not.

Significantly, cloud adoption has powered a fundamental shift in how organizations think about app development and delivery. This is particularly evident with SaaS-based cloud models, which give businesses the freedom to choose exactly where cloud operations are deployed while also minimizing cost.

Working in a multi-cloud context has clearly spurred more agile and holistic ways of doing business. Take for example the increasingly widespread adoption of DevOps, NetOps and SecOps.

As app development moves from on premises to cloud infrastructures, businesses must rethink how different functions engage with new approaches to software development. All teams have different requirements and ways of working, so it is critical to strike a balance that delivers results across the board without friction or compromise.

Delighting DevOps

A DevOps culture is all about velocity and continuous innovation. The cloud enables developers and DevOps to achieve exactly that by providing a standardised, efficient and centralised platform for testing, deployment and production.

It enables a more fluid development process that matches the pace at which DevOps can crank out applications, without sacrificing stability, scalability and security.

There is always wiggle room for any rapid, last-minute changes related to continuous integration and delivery.

DevOps teams should treat the cloud as the new norm and an extension of their network infrastructure. This means fully embracing public cloud native environments to manage application performance within the cloud, as well as leveraging SaaS models to keep costs low and support innovation scalability.

Keeping NetOps happy

The role of NetOps is changing from teams that own and monitor hardware and software assets, to those focused on building a multi-component network ecosystem supporting a variety of business objectives.

As more workloads move into the cloud, the pressure is mounting for NetOps teams to rapidly adapt and transition from manual tools and slower processes to more efficient systems compatible with agile DevOps models.

NetOps also face pressure to reach automated parity with app development teams. They will soon become an application development bottleneck if they cannot keep up with continuous application updates. Fortunately, the problem is eased with SaaS cloud services. NetOps can now address specific areas of the business where legacy networks limit innovation, and subsequently target more fluid, digital infrastructures to collaborate better with other teams.

Giving security teams confidence

IT operations have KPIs around security and service levels, which can explain their generally more conservative approaches to technology adoption. Given the choice, security teams would operate with zero-trust networks – and rightly so.

In fact, a recent F5 survey focusing on DevOps and NetOps behaviours discovered that security in the cloud was an ‘afterthought’ for many developers, as they prioritise speed over security and reliability concerns.

 It is important to understand that cloud services can work as an extension of security teams, equipping them with the insights and tools required to keep up with the changing threat landscape. They can also ensure the right governance so they can monitor and balance the needs of innovation and control (i.e. via dashboards and reports).

Better together

In today’s software-defined era, cloud adoption can only be positive for business-critical application development. The market not only demands more effective production process, but our application-centric world requires speed and stability of service.

It is important to remember that everyone is working towards the same end goal: supporting the continuous delivery of quality applications to market. Collaboration and partnerships are easier to establish when all parties share the platform that delivers the apps and have access to the underlying analytics to refine and shape objectives.

The right multi-cloud approach and support must be inclusive and treat infrastructure teams, developers, and business users as equals.

Multi-cloud’s cultural barriers are disappearing, and it is essential to collaborate in the cloud or risk falling behind the innovation curve. Make sure you are ready for both the implications and opportunities.

Simon McCullough is the senior channel account manager at F5 Networks

SEACOM invests in fibre capacity to support cloud computing

Pan-African service provider SEACOM has announced plans to double the data capacity on its broadband submarine cable system from 1.5 terabytes to 3 terabytes. The move will see more businesses on the continent utilize emerging technologies such as cloud computing.

SEACOM CEO Byron Clatterbuck says the decision is informed by the increasing demand for cloud-based data processing by companies with multinational operations across the continent.

“It’s not just about connecting from Africa to Europe and Asia anymore,” Clatterbuck said. “A lot of content and computing power is moving onto the continent, so connectivity requirements are becoming more regional, and specifically interregional. With such a complex environment, greater capacity is essential.”

SEACOM is already providing direct broadband access to corporate customers through its SEACOM Business arm.

As a partner to African business, the undersea broadband cable services provider has already enabled cloud-based operations for a variety of companies through high-speed, secure and reliable connectivity to platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

Going forward, the company says it plans on expanding further inland, widening fibre access across the continent while targeting large and medium corporations with its premium offerings.

“You will see more terrestrial cables being laid, and the quality of those builds will get better,” Clatterbuck explained. He added “This isn’t to say there aren’t challenges. There is a long way to go in terms of basic infrastructure provision, relating to roads, rails and highways, all of which make it easier and more affordable to deploy fibre-optic networks.

In April, SEACOM announced the conclusion of the agreement for the 100% acquisition of FibreCo Telecommunications in November 2018. FibreCo owns and operates a national open access dark fibre network, providing infrastructure and connectivity services across South Africa. Acknowledging its benefits for the South African economy and local citizens, the South African Competition Commission approved the acquisition in March.

The FibreCo acquisition represents another significant step for SEACOM in fulfilling its vision to increase the company’s 2019 national footprint in South Africa and Africa as a whole through the consolidation of fibre assets. SEACOM believes this is necessary for the evolution of the market, particularly with the increased demand for data owing to the growth in fibre based connectivity and emergence in technologies such as 5G.

The acquisition of FibreCo further enables SEACOM to scale and upgrade its African Ring by connecting its East and West coast submarine assets with a robust network of trans-South African fibre.

While SEACOM connects South Africa to the east coast of Africa, India and Europe, FibreCo network runs along South Africa’s highest-traffic transmission routes and connects over 60 points of presence across the country that include key data centres in major metros like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Durban and East London.

Additional end-to-end fibre connects the SEACOM subsea cable system (which lands in Mtunzini on the east coast of South Africa) to the WACS cable (which falls at Yzerfontein, on the west coast of the country), ensuring fully redundant high-speed ring protection around the African continent.

By expanding its wholesale portfolio to include several national long-distance services and last mile metro connectivity, SEACOM has become the provider of choice to local and international data communications customers.

Lighting up additional fibre across South Africa also creates a platform for SEACOM to deliver affordable, high-speed Internet connectivity and cloud services to traditionally-underserved mid-tier cities and towns along the new routes.

www.seacom.mu