Mastercard pioneers cloud tap on phone, the first pilot of cloud point of sale acceptance technology

Mastercard has partnered with NMI and Global Payments Inc. to launch its first live Cloud Tap on Phone pilot with Computer Engineering Group (CEG), a Napa, Calif.-based independent IT Services provider.

Cloud Tap on Phone is one of Mastercard’s innovative next generation acceptance products, with the software hosted on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

Mastercard has been spearheading the transition to contactless payments for years. The demand for faster, more convenient, safe, and now cleaner ways to pay has driven the transition to contactless, and it’s a one-way street with touch-free experiences expected to be permanent for consumers and businesses even after the pandemic ends.

In fact, in the third quarter of 2020, contactless penetration represented 41% of in-person purchase transactions globally, up from 37% in the second quarter and 30% a year ago.

With Tap on Phone, any business – regardless of size – can deliver new and best-in-class contactless consumer experiences using a device they already own: a smartphone. Tap on Phone democratizes point-of-sale technology by turning an Android smartphone or tablet into an acceptance device, allowing businesses to accept contactless payments minimizing the need to invest in hardware terminals or extra features.

Merchants can offer enhanced and accelerated curbside pick-up or payment on delivery, or provide faster line-skipping checkout in-store, options that are increasingly important as consumers look to touch-free cash alternatives.

With the introduction of Cloud Point of Sale (POS), Mastercard is enhancing its Tap on Phone product and empowering ecosystem partners to develop their own cloud-based products with new tools and capabilities.

Cloud POS moves key parts of the acceptance software – the components1 which enable the processing of contactless transactions and certain security functions – from the individual smartphone to the cloud, offering robust security, reducing development and maintenance costs, and creating scalable distribution channels by allowing immediate connectivity to partners.

Cloud POS also becomes a new channel for Mastercard and our partners to bring value added services to customers and businesses.

Mastercard will make its pre-certified Cloud POS software development kits (SDKs) openly available in multiple cloud environments, encouraging solution providers, fintechs, acquirers and processors to innovate and co-create new cloud-first products. Mastercard’s pilot with CEG represents the first live deployment of Mastercard Cloud Tap on Phone anywhere in the world.

“We continue to see an accelerating shift to digital payments, with businesses of all sizes wanting to provide swift, secure, compelling point-of-sale experiences. Cloud POS enables us to make these experiences available to our partners with greater speed and efficiency,” said Milan Gauder, Global Head of Mastercard’s Acceptance Solutions Group. “Our partners are the center of everything we do, and our trusted technology powers innovative experiences, choice, flexibility and certainty, creating the products they need. Mastercard’s Cloud Tap on Phone delivers on our promise of ground-breaking products and innovation.”

Mastercard has convened an ecosystem of partners to launch Cloud Tap on Phone.

Leading payments enablement technology company NMI operates as a key integration partner and distributor.

Global Payments, a leading worldwide provider of payment technology and software solutions, will provide point of sale acceptance technology.

Continuing the company’s commitment to empower small businesses, CEG, an independent IT services company from California, serviced by an ISO BNG Payments, becomes the first company to pilot Mastercard’s Cloud Tap on Phone.

Development of Cloud POS technology and the Cloud Tap on Phone product has been spearheaded by Mastercard Labs, the company’s new product development arm. The company’s pilot with CEG follows live product testing on Mastercard’s own Purchase, N.Y. campus.

Cloud POS is a product of Mastercard’s multi-cloud strategy, meeting businesses, consumers, financial institutes and partners in the cloud with innovative applications and services. The company will conduct further Cloud Tap on Phone pilots and commercial deployments in other markets in 2021.

Currently, Mastercard’s Tap on Phone solution is in 16 markets across Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, North America and Middle East & Africa. Pilots are taking place with partners in Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Poland, Kazakhstan, Romania, Canada, Belarus, Russia, Turkey, United Kingdom, among other countries.

www.www.mastercard.com

Blue Prism accelerates intelligent automation for cloud users on Microsoft Azure

Blue Prism has announced a new offering of Blue Prism intelligent automation software on Microsoft’s AppSource and Azure Marketplaces.

The move enhances access for both Blue Prism and Microsoft customers, and underwrites Blue Prism’s position as the intelligent automation and robotic process automation (RPA) leader in the cloud.

Blue Prism customers already have access to a scalable, enterprise-ready platform that combines robotic automation and smart workflows with technologies like machine learning, advanced analytics, natural language processing, process mining, and cognitive capabilities and this offering allows Blue Prism robots greater access to Microsoft Azure Apps too, with access to over 175 accelerators for Microsoft products within Blue Prism’s Digital Exchange.

The new Bring Your Own License (BYOL) offering for Azure Marketplace and AppSource is pre-loaded with select Azure Cognitive Services – including Azure Text Analytics, Azure Form Recognizer and Azure Computer Vision – all of which customers can license directly through Microsoft. This combines with Blue Prism Digital Exchange where users can access more than 175 accelerators for Microsoft products to further enhance their enterprise automations.

“This combination of Blue Prism and Azure Cognitive Services gives our customers a greater choice with AI-enabled, self-service experience that is provisioned via Microsoft Azure,” says Chief Partner Strategy Officer at Blue Prism, Linda Dotts. “Advanced intelligent automation in the cloud provides multiple advantages for our customers, most notably the ability to instantly scale to meet enterprise demands.”

Blue Prism accelerators now exists for Microsoft Power Platform, Microsoft’s Power Automate gallery, Microsoft’s Healthcare Cloud; with Form Recognizer, Text Analytics and Azure Computer Vision.

It also adds to the company’s growing portfolio of cloud offerings, which include its Blue Prism Cloud SaaS platform, and expands a cloud strategy that not only centres on making intelligent automation more accessible, but that also aligns with customer desires for interoperability, expanded automation solutions, consumable and extensible artificial intelligence, and a seamless intelligent automation journey.

“Customers can embrace the transformative potential of intelligent automation and drive impactful change within their organisations, and this is now fully supported by Microsoft,” says CEO and Executive Chairman of Blue Prism, Jason Kingdon, “We are offering customers more flexible cloud deployment options delivering on Blue Prism’s vision of giving customers end-to-end automation solutions that cover the broadest range of IT environments, including on-premises, hybrid, public cloud, and SaaS.

www.blueprism.com

azure.microsoft.com

Rajiv Ramaswami appointed Nutanix CEO

Nutanix, a player in the private cloud, hybrid, and multicloud computing, has announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Rajiv Ramaswami as President and Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the Board of Directors, effective Monday, December 14, 2020.

Ramaswami will succeed co-founder Dheeraj Pandey, who previously announced his plans to retire as CEO of Nutanix upon the appointment of a successor.

Ramaswami is a seasoned technology industry executive who has held senior executive roles at industry leaders including VMware, Broadcom, Cisco, and Nortel, after having begun his career at IBM. Ramaswami has an impressive, 30+ year track record of building and scaling businesses in cloud services, software, and network infrastructure.

In his most recent role as Chief Operating Officer, Products and Cloud Services at VMware, Ramaswami co-managed VMware’s portfolio of products and services. During his tenure, Ramaswami led several important acquisitions and was playing a key role in transitioning VMware toward a subscription and SaaS model.

“Rajiv is an accomplished leader with a track record of delivering a high-growth portfolio of products and services,” said Sohaib Abbasi, Lead Independent Director of Nutanix. “Rajiv distinguished himself among the CEO candidates with his rare combination of operational discipline, business acumen, technology vision and inclusive leadership skills.

The talented Nutanix team, under Rajiv’s leadership, is well-positioned to drive sustained growth, to improve efficiency and to advance leadership in the emerging hybrid cloud infrastructure category.”

“I’m thrilled to be joining Nutanix at this transformative time for the company and the industry,” said Ramaswami. “I have long admired Nutanix as a formidable competitor, a pioneer in hyperconverged infrastructure solutions and a leader in cloud software.

Working closely with the Board, the management team, and the more than 6,000 talented Nutanix employees around the world, we will build on Nutanix’s strong foundation of continuous innovation, collaboration and customer delight. Together, we will capitalize on the significant opportunities ahead and deliver on the company’s next phase of growth and value creation.”

“Rajiv is the right leader at the right time,” said Nutanix Co-founder Dheeraj Pandey. “With a future-proof business model, a loyal and expanding customer base, and a strong technology portfolio, I look forward to seeing Rajiv take the helm to lead this incredible team.

This is the decade to watch for a company that so values simple, secure, and seamless. On a personal note, it has been a privilege to serve our customers and partners, working closely alongside Nutanix employees.” Dheeraj Pandey will step down from the Board effective Monday, December 14, 2020, to ensure continuity through Nutanix’s upcoming Annual Meeting of Stockholders.

www.nutanix.com

[South Africa] KiaraHealth taps SAP cloud solution to streamline operations

Companies wishing to transform their operations through digital technologies often face a hard choice: stay with a legacy system and make the best of a legacy investment, or transition to a new digital platform but risk causing disruption in the lives of customers, partners and employees.

For one African pharmaceutical company, neither option was suitable, and so an exemplary digital transformation project was initiated that would completely transform its systems without any disruption to the business or its customers.

Kiara Health (Pty) Ltd is an African pharmaceutical manufacturing and healthcare solutions company headquartered in Johannesburg. It serves as a the local, non-exclusive manufacturing partner for a global top five pharmaceutical company and as a commercial partner for several global pharmaceutical and medical technology companies.

The acquisition by Kiara Health of a multinational pharmaceutical manufacturing facility, sold to fulfil a need for transformation in the local pharmaceutical sector, sees the dawn of a new type of pharmaceutical company that offers an end-to-end solution along the patient journey. Kiara Health, a 100% black-owned company, purchased this plant together with twenty-five marketing authorisations.

Kiara Health’s leadership was left with a vital decision: keep to the highly-customised SAP ECC system of the outgoing multinational company, with cost-prohibitive separation terms, or invest in a standalone cloud-based digital platform to streamline operations. They chose a turn-key ERP system by SAP to support its operations.

Dr Skhumbuzo Ngozwana, CEO and President of Kiara Health, says that the driving force behind the leadership team’s decision was to ensure that their customers do not suffer due to a transition to the new system. “We partnered with Seidor Westrocon and adopted SAP S/4HANA to simplify and automate our end-to-end processes, from product ordering through to production, packaging and distribution. We achieved go-live in four months, and within budget, with no disruption to our business. This implementation is potentially unprecedented in an organisation of similar size and type.”

This decision has proven to be a success story as the transition from the old multinational modified system to the implementation of an off-the-shelf SAP offering ensured that the production facility remained operational throughout the SARS-CoV-2 lockdown period. Without any teething problems that would halt manufacturing, no employee jobs were put at risk due to the lockdown.

“This decision was taken by an extremely agile and highly qualified team of experts within Kiara Health and fully supports President Cyril Ramaphosa’s South African Economic Recovery Plan to generate 800,000 jobs,” says Dr Ngozwana. “Kiara Health sees these executions as part of their mission to progress the health of all on the continent, underpinned by job creation and not ‘job saving’.”

The manufacturing site previously operated on a complex and expensive legacy enterprise resource planning system. However, with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, local manufacturing capability became more important than ever for new owners, Kiara Health. The company needed a system that could increase throughput by streamlining processes across business areas, and which could place greater control in the hands of the leadership team.

“We consolidated our operations on a standalone cloud-based digital platform with SAP S/4HANA Cloud,” says Dr Ngozwana. “This off-the-shelf solution gave us a flexible yet standardised system that is adaptable to our needs, allowing us to maintain best-practice. It has also future-proofed the digital foundation of our business, and enables our Industry 4.0 aspirations for the future.”

The implementation involved all Kiara Health stakeholders that are currently still involved in ensuring world-class manufacturing from the site. These experts worked in close collaboration with implementation partner Seidor Westrocon to develop a deep understanding of each department’s responsibilities, and how the SAP processes can support them.

“The transition from working in multinational company silos to operating as a team has improved our internal responsiveness and enabled significant value creation across our supply chain, procurement and manufacturing processes,” says Moosa Areff, Kiara Health Chief Operating Officer.

The implementation team streamlined Kiara Health’s procure-to-pay processes to shorten the time between order placement and goods receipt. Following the implementation, the company has reduced its days to close from eight days to one, greatly improving cash planning.

“We have tightly integrated and simplified on-time delivery processes to enable our team to get through work faster and troubleshoot with full visibility,” says Dr Ngozwana. “Each team member can diagnose any challenge to understand what is impacting production or the release of the end-product. The improved usability and support has helped us reduce the total cost of ownership by 10%, while our on-time and in-full delivery performance has improved from 80-85% to 100% – an outstanding achievement.”

Following the implementation, Kiara Health has enjoyed higher settlement discounts and improved brand reputation thanks to direct payment cycles. Costs are also contained due to greater visibility and through leveraging economies-of-scale in the procurement process.

“Our business is now more responsive as our planning and production teams are connected to our warehouse,” says Conrad Strydom, Kiara Health Head of Site . “We are also enjoying greater end-user sourcing compliance and increased savings in sourcing, in both direct and indirect spend. As a whole, the implementation of SAP S/4HANA has empowered our teams to make better decisions and improve the total performance of our business, setting us up for a bright future.”

On Kiara Health’s role in the implementation, Martin Van Wyk, Managing Director of Seidor Westrocon says the collaboration was first class. “The Kiara Health and Seidor Westrocon teams worked unwaveringly during the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa, and pulled off the project and go-live together. The contribution from the Kiara Health leadership team, with their deep understanding of their business operations, extensive process knowledge and SAP expertise, was a considerable game-changer, making this mammoth task achievable. A big thank you to this team.”

Cameron Beveridge, Regional Director for Southern Africa at SAP, says Kiara Health has reduced complexity in its environment through greater control across its operations. “By building its operations on the powerful S/4HANA digital platform, Kiara Health has achieved immediate business benefits while enabling greater future innovation and easing the process of integrating Industry 4.0 innovations. Transforming its total operations in a mere four months with no impact on product or service delivery is a great accomplishment by Kiara Health and its implementation partner Seidor Westrocon.”

www.kiarahealth.com

www.sap.com

[South Africa] CMC Networks to offer direct access to Microsoft Azure Peering Service

Pan African networks and Middle Eastern carriers, CMC Networks, has announced that it now offers direct access to the Microsoft Azure Peering Service, further increasing access to its broad range of cloud services. Clients will now benefit from a low latency and SLA-backed, direct connection to Microsoft across the network spanning 110 Points of Presence (PoPs) in 78 countries. CMC Networks is the third African partner for Azure Peering service.

Microsoft Azure Peering Service is a partnership programme with key service providers to provide best-in-class public Internet connectivity to their enterprise users. Partner ISPs, who are part of the programme will have direct, highly available, geo-redundant connections and optimised routing to Microsoft. It aims to improve Software as a Service (SaaS) services for enterprises looking for an internet-first network strategy for services such as Microsoft 365 and other SaaS services on Azure.

Nico Walters, Global Innovation and Information Manager, CMC Networks, says that Microsoft Azure Peering Services provides a low-latency, high performance option and is an ideal internet solution for those organisations seeking additional connectivity options beyond Azure ExpressRoute: “As digital transformation fast becomes a priority, digital onboarding is often the gateway bottleneck for clients, which is why we are pleased to offer yet another connectivity option. Using a peering service greatly assists in streamlining cloud transitions and in delivering reliable and performance-centric public connectivity to the Microsoft cloud.”

As a networking service, the solution enhances customer connectivity to Microsoft cloud services, SaaS services, or any Microsoft services accessible via the public internet.

Walters says that CMC is the most densely connected African-focused providers servicing 51 of the 54 countries on the continent and the addition of Microsoft Azure Peering Services ensures that clients have access to Microsoft SaaS services that is prioritised, optimised and highly redundant.

www.cmcnetworks.net.

Tony Blair Institute and Oracle Launch Africa vaccine management in the cloud

The Tony Blair Institute (TBI) and Oracle have brought cloud technology to Africa to manage public health programs.

Initially, Ghana, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone will use the new Oracle Health Management System to create electronic health records for their vaccination programs for yellow fever, HPV, polio, measles, and COVID-19, as soon as that vaccine is distributed to Africa.

 TBI and Oracle are in discussions with more than thirty other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America that are evaluating using the same cloud system to manage their COVID-19 vaccination programs. 

“Since February of this year, the Africa Union and Member States have worked tirelessly together to address the impact of COVID-19 on the continent,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, partnerships such as this one with Oracle, TBI and various governments are critical to the strengthening of Member State public health institutions, not only to incorporate innovative technology but to proactively and urgently harmonize the collection and sharing of important testing data across the continent.”

TBI has been providing policy advice and hands-on support to African governments as they tackle complex COVID-19 challenges. To address these challenges, TBI partnered with Oracle to deliver cloud technology to digitize and unify national health data starting with the management of vaccinations. The Oracle Health Management System creates an electronic health record in a cloud database for every person as they are vaccinated. This highly-secure system can be quickly configured to interoperate with each country’s existing technology and meet their most stringent data sovereignty requirements. Participating countries will have access and support for the system, free of charge, for the next ten years.

“This is an immensely exciting and potentially ground-breaking initiative for recording information on all disease vaccinations and treatments in African nations,” said Tony Blair, Executive Chairman of TBI and the former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. “Though Africa has coped well with COVID-19, it still needs to be part of international efforts to control the disease, including for international travel. That means vaccination of at least a significant portion of the population, requiring the highest quality data system so that everyone’s vaccine experience is recorded. Oracle can provide that system with data securely stored and owned by each country and is prepared to do so as part of a global philanthropic partnership.

We will be living with COVID-19 for some years, and the recording of data will be vital in managing its impact and spread. And one thing is clear from this crisis: applying new technology solutions has applications for the digitization of the entire economy and is crucial for the acceleration of African development. This initiative is a great test case, and my Institute is proud to be part of it.” 

“The Oracle Health Management System is currently being used by the U.S. government and large healthcare and research organizations to monitor COVID-19 patient symptoms, responses to treatments, and to screen volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials,” said Oracle Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison. “By working with Tony and his team over a period of a few months, we were able to deliver the exact same 21st century cloud technology to Ghana, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. This is the first time vaccine data has been stored in a cloud database on a national scale. Africa is leading the way.”

Ghana is now using the system to manage its yellow fever vaccine program and will follow with COVID-19 once that vaccine is distributed in Africa.

Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo said, “We have learned many lessons from this pandemic. The most obvious is that we have to urgently fortify our public health systems. This strategic partnership with Oracle and TBI is evidence of our drive to digitalize Ghana’s health systems for our people’s benefit.”

“The move from Ghana’s current paper-based vaccination campaign records to digital data management using the Oracle platform will enable our data to be easily accessible by authorized persons. The data will be more secure, and there will be no worry about lost cards as people travel,” added Dr. Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, Expanded Programme on Immunization, Ghana Health Service.

Rwanda has prepared its system to support its HPV vaccine administration as soon as secondary schools reopen, with plans to support COVID-19 vaccinations and an immunity pass for citizens in the future.

President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame called for a resilient health system as the best defense against future pandemics: “A COVID-19 vaccine will be a critical tool, and Africa must be able to access to its fair share of a vaccine once it is available. This partnership will deliver an innovative digital vaccine e-registry that signals the continent’s readiness to deploy the vaccine and to safely reopen our economies to trade and tourism.”

Sierra Leone is preparing to use the system to create digital vaccination records when its next routine Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) campaign begins. EPI is a global initiative to vaccinate for polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis, pertussis, measles, and tetanus. It is estimated to prevent two to three million childhood deaths globally each year from these diseases. Sierra Leone’s EPI program reportedly covers 95% of eligible children in that country.

Chief Innovation Officer and Minister of Education of Sierra Leone, Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, noted, “The Government of Sierra Leone is committed to utilizing technology and innovation – digitizing services to improve service delivery for its citizens. Using our experience from Ebola, we were able to put together a robust National COVID-19 Response plan, which has technology, data, and innovation as core enablers. This collaboration with Oracle and TBI is significant not only for dealing with COVID-19 and broader health needs, such as EPI vaccinations but will be a key step in our country’s mission of digitization for all.”

As countries begin vaccinating people for COVID-19, the Oracle Health Management System can be used to automatically create an electronic health record for every person vaccinated.  Once the COVID-19 vaccine is available, the Oracle Health Management System will track immunizations and provide recipients with a Digital Quick Response (QR) code. These QR codes will help Africa reopen its borders and economies by providing citizens the proof of immunization needed to move freely for work and travel.

www.institute.global

www.oracle.com

[Column] Mark Bannerman: Cloud and the Need for Agile, Accelerated Implementation

As we’ve seen in the recent stock-market crash, cloud business has a massive impact on the global economy. It is clear from the loss of stock value of a leading software solution provider, as a direct result of the crashing of its cloud business, that cloud plays a large role in the value assigned to the businesses operating in it.

Essentially, cloud solutions provide the opportunity to transform how companies operate, offering increasingly more direct business benefits. These cloud deployment advantages far outweigh applications delivered by traditional on-premises solutions. 

If 2020 has taught the world anything, it’s that the need to digitise will only increase as the globe’s complexities intensify. While many were forced to embrace work from home practices and digitally driven solutions to survive, it is what they do post-Covid that will determine their long-term sustainability. Digital transformation is a large consideration for future success. Through effective automation, business leaders are freed up to focus on wider business opportunities. Today, it is only the fastest, most agile companies that survive and grow. It is evolution at full throttle, and it is relentless and unforgiving.

According to research conducted by Tripathy and Jyotishi in 2020, shared in a Paper titled Macro Factors Affecting Cloud Computing Readiness: A Cross-Country Analysis, cloud readiness falls into two groups: “prerequisite” and “growth-enabler”. A ResearchGate abstract of the Paper confirms that findings suggest “factors like Per capita GDP, Governance, Business Environment, and R&D have significant and positive influences on the prerequisites for cloud computing. Similarly, factors like Governance, Business Environment, and R&D have a significant and positive influence on the growth enablers which affect the cloud computing readiness of the ecosystem.” 

A study released by Research ICT Africa, titled The Cloud Over Africa, looks into the state of cloud computing across Africa. According to this study, most of Africa’s cloud adoption is supply-drive. However, South Africa stands out as an exception. “The growth of cloud-computing services is demand-side driven through the corporate sector; however, there is a preference for private cloud services due to concerns around data protection and security. Nonetheless, it is believed that more companies will be forced to migrate to public cloud services and take advantage of the economies of scale offered, as a cost-cutting measure. The enactment of legislation on data and security in line with global standards will go a long way towards driving the adoption of these services.” 

Taking all of this into consideration – while factoring in the macro-economic factors of a disastrous 2020 – the key to successful cloud implementation is agility, speed, and simplicity. While many traditional organisations are cautious to move to the cloud during a year of uncertainties, making this move will have a positive impact on sustainable business growth. 

One of the greatest barriers to cloud adoption is the time to implement. With modern innovations, the need for agile, streamlined deployments has become the dominant concern.  Business leaders realise that a constantly evolving world demands technology platforms that prioritise agility – the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, embrace simplicity, and innovate faster and better with each iteration. Technology projects must now be focused on accelerating process improvements and Return on Investment. Rapid deployment strategies built on agility are the keys to delivering disruptive innovation. 

Infor’s foresight in terms of Digital Transformation started with by bringing standardised CloudSuites to the market. These industry-specific solutions were built on a refined understanding of what functionality should be included ‘out-of-the-box’. To further speed the process, the company developed industry-focused, pre-configured and flexible Implementation Accelerators (IAs). Delivering application configurations, implementation playbook, tools, and templates, the IAs offer a framework for implementing industry specific business processes, migrating data, establishing workflows, and educating users on the features and functionality of the solution.

With these CloudSuites firmly established, delivering the capability and agility for businesses to develop their own innovation became paramount. Enter “60:30:10TM”. The first 60% is easy wins; core industry leading processes that businesses can adopt with little effort (but do not provide differentiation). This allows businesses to adopt technology that delivers industry best practice, as quickly as possible. 

Processes that are differentiators, but still fall within the realm of configuration or small tweaks, make up the next 30%. This ensures the business isn’t starting from zero, but instead is choosing from options that can be tailored and configured quickly to best fit their needs. 

Now that capacity has been freed up, businesses can focus on the last 10%. These processes are highly differentiating and transforming them drives dramatically better decision-making, enhanced customer experiences, and improved performance within a specific supply chain. With this approach, businesses avoid getting lost in theoretical ways of engineering what usually turns out to be only a marginally better solution to a common problem. 

“60:30:10TM” strategy need not be a ‘big bang’ approach, so the technology must support continual innovation. Truly embracing disruption means continually embracing it on a long-term voyage. When it comes to the technology that enables this innovation, the business could plan for multiple go-lives that are often a lot faster than each previous project. Expensive and risky waterfall approaches instead become a strategic, rapid series of incremental improvements that shrink time to market and capital, infrastructure related investment requirements.

The reality is that uncertainty is not a good reason to stay on-prem. This 60:30:10TM approach drives greater certainty with innovative and agile cloud solutions, allowing for accelerated implementation to ensure no gaps in operations. The time is now. 

Mark Bannerman is the Business Unit Executive at EOH Infor Services (formerly Softworx), Infor’s Master Partner in Africa.

Snowflake announces global startup challenge to fuel next generation of apps in the data cloud

Snowflake, creator of the Data Cloud, has announced its first-ever global Startup Challenge.

The Startup Challenge is inviting early stage organizations that are building applications in the Snowflake Data Cloud to showcase their innovations via online submission, for a chance to be one of three finalists that will pitch to an audience of judges at Snowflake Summit in Summer 2021.

The winner of the Startup Challenge may receive up to a $250,000 investment from Snowflake along with access to a global network of resources including venture capitalists and data experts.

Snowflake’s single, integrated platform enables startups to focus on building their data applications, without the burden of managing complex infrastructure.

Software teams in hundreds of startups and enterprises are already innovating in the Data Cloud, leveraging the global network where thousands of organizations mobilize data with near-unlimited scale, concurrency, and performance, to help their customers acquire new users, uncover security threats, build machine learning models, analyze IOT data, and more.

Benoit Dageville, Co-Founder and President of Products, Snowflake: “Snowflake’s architecture makes it an ideal platform for developing data applications and we continue to be impressed with how application builders innovate to launch their own data products in the Data Cloud. This competition will showcase the power of data network effects while also expanding their reach. We look forward to rewarding a top startup who both embodies and employs the Snowflake vision: To mobilize the world’s data.”

Startups that take part in the Snowflake Startup Competition will be evaluated based on a set of criteria, including business potential, level of innovation, and the use of Snowflake’s unique capabilities for their product. The final three competitors will pitch to a live audience (either in-person or virtually) at Snowflake Summit in Summer 2021.

 Snowflake Chief Marketing Officer, Denise Persson, Snowflake Co-Founder and President of Product, Benoit Dageville, and venture capital investors Mike Speiser with Sutter Hill Ventures and Carl Eschenbach with Sequoia Capital will judge the competition and pick a winner.

Snowflake’s platform provides many capabilities for startups–including separation of compute and storage, auto-scaling, per-second pricing, native support for semi-structured data, and secure data sharing–to help build differentiated applications, faster. Additionally, startups can leverage integrations with a broad range of technology partners in the Snowflake ecosystem.

www.snowflake.com

Shift to remote work is accelerating digital adoption, Cisco Duo Security Report

A new report published from Duo Security at Cisco, the multi-factor authentication (MFA) and secure access provider, reveals the unprecedented IT change organizations underwent this year amid a massive shift to remote work, accelerating adoption of cloud technology.

The security implications of this transition will reverberate for years to come, as the hybrid workplace demands the workforce to be secure, connected and productive from anywhere.

The 2020 Duo Trusted Access Report details how organizations, with a mandate to rapidly transition their entire workforce to remote, turned to remote access technologies such as virtual private networks (VPN) and remote desktop protocol (RDP), among numerous other efforts.

As a result, authentication activity to these technologies swelled 60%, helping propel Duo’s monthly authentications from 600 million to 900 million per month. A complementary Cisco survey recently found that 96% of organizations made cybersecurity policy changes during the pandemic, with more than half implementing MFA.

Cloud adoption also accelerated. Daily authentications to cloud applications surged 40% during the first few months of the pandemic, the bulk of which came from enterprise and mid-sized organizations looking to ensure secure access to various cloud services.

As organizations scrambled to acquire the requisite equipment to support remote work, employees relied on personal or unmanaged devices in the interim. Consequently, blocked access attempts due to out-of-date devices skyrocketed 90% in March. That figure fell precipitously in April, indicating healthier devices and decreased risk of breach due to malware.

“As the pandemic began, the priority for many organizations was keeping the lights on and accepting risk in order to accomplish this end,” said Dave Lewis, Global Advisory CISO, Duo Security at Cisco. “Attention has now turned towards lessening risk by implementing a more mature and modern security approach that accounts for a traditional corporate perimeter that has been completely upended.”

Report findings also include:

So Long, SMS – The prevalence of SIM-swapping attacks has driven organizations to strengthen their authentication schemes. Year-over-year, the percentage of organizations that enforce a policy to disallow SMS authentication nearly doubled from 8.7% to 16.1%.

Biometrics Booming – Biometrics are nearly ubiquitous across enterprise users, paving the way for a passwordless future. Eighty percent of mobile devices used for work have biometrics configured, up 12% the past five years.

Cloud Apps on Pace to Pass On-Premises Apps – Use of cloud apps are on pace to surpass use of on-premises apps by next year, accelerated by the shift to remote work. Cloud applications make up 13.2% of total Duo authentications, a 5.4% increase year-over-year, while on-premises applications encompass 18.5% of total authentications, down 1.5% since last year.

Apple Devices 3.5 times More Likely to Update Quickly vs. Android – Ecosystem differences have security consequences. On June 1, Apple iOS and Android both issued software updates to patch critical vulnerabilities in their respective operating systems. iOS devices were 3.5 times more likely to be updated within 30 days of a security update or patch, compared to Android.

Windows 7 Lingers in Healthcare Despite Security Risks – More than 30% of Windows devices in healthcare organizations still run Windows 7, despite end-of-life status, compared with 10% of organizations across Duo’s customer base. Healthcare providers are often unable to update deprecated operating systems due to compliance requirements and restrictive terms and conditions of third-party software vendors.

Windows Devices, Chrome Browser Dominate Business IT – Windows continues its dominance in the enterprise, accounting for 59% of devices used to access protected applications, followed by Mac OS X at 23%. Overall, mobile devices account for 15% of corporate access (iOS: 11.4%, Android: 3.7%). On the browser side, Chrome is king with 44% of total browser authentications, resulting in stronger security hygiene overall for organizations.

UK and EU Trail US in Securing Cloud – United Kingdom and European Union-based organizations trail US-based enterprises in user authentications to cloud applications, signalling less cloud use overall or a larger share of applications not protected by MFA.

The full report can be accessed here

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Telekom Networks Malawi selects Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack to modernize its telecommunication infrastructure

Canonical, the publisher of Ubuntu, has announced that its Charmed OpenStack, an open source private cloud solution that allows businesses to control large pools of computer, storage and networking in a datacentre, has been selected by Telekom Networks Malawi Plc (TNM), to modernise and virtualise its entire telecommunications infrastructure.

 TNM is Malawi’s telecoms provider and aims to create faster time to market across its product range through the move.

TNM has been a pioneer of mobile and data solutions in Malawi, having been the first mobile operator to launch 4G broadband services, while its network is the fastest in the country, covering all cities and major towns. Charmed Openstack will enable TNM to separate network hardware and software, turning legacy components into software based network services . This means they can be updated quicker with continuous integration and development, while ensuring the network is robust and scalable.

The move towards Charmed OpenStack has been driven by TNM’s existing use and advocacy of open source software. The deployment, including two private clouds, will happen immediately and give TNM access to virtual network functions (VNFs), which will open up access to a wide range of network services to build on top of the initial deployment.

Adopting a cloud-based architecture with Charmed OpenStack will accelerate TNM’s ability to develop new technologies and services while benefiting from reduced CAPEX investment. TNM will also adopt Canonical’s Managed OpenStack service, which allows TNM to have a fully managed private cloud on its own servers. The managed service allows TNM to take advantage of Canonical’s open source expertise and allows them to focus on adding business value elsewhere.

Michiel Buitelaar, Chief Executive Officer at TNM, said: “This is a big step in an ongoing programme for us to evolve our infrastructure and deliver the best possible solutions for customers. Utilising Canonical’s expertise via OpenStack was an obvious choice, and by increasing our open source footprint we now have access to a wider range of services, optimising how we will deliver future technologies.”

Nicholas Dimotakis, VP of Field Engineering, Datacentre at Canonical, said: “TNM is joining a wave of telco companies moving to OpenStack, to modernise their infrastructure to software based network services, and it’s fantastic for us to be part of this migration. TNM understands what can be delivered through an open infrastructure and is now able to take advantage of open source technology more broadly, collaborating with the community to improve its offering.”

TNM’s decision represents a bigger trend within the telecoms industry, while in Africa specifically, companies are turning to OpenStack to modernise their network and future proof for the adoption of new technologies such as 5G. Through a long-term investment in the technology, TNM will now have more agility to innovate at scale and consistently meet customer demands.

TNM’s cloud will be built on Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack, and utilise Canonical’s open source tools to automate the deployment and operations of their infrastructure. TNM has adopted Juju – Operator Lifecycle Manager to manage and operate a set of software applications for a model-driven architecture to onboard virtual network functions (VNFs) applications, while MAAS is used as the cloud-provisioning tool. The company will also benefit from Canonical’s Managed OpenStack offering for the ongoing maintenance and support of operations.

www.canonical.com

www.tnm.co.mw