Pan-African cloud based digital service provider inq. expands into Nigeria

inq. has officially launched in Nigeria, bringing to fruition the dream of building a pan African network across African cities to reimagine a better future through digital solutions.

Headquartered in Mauritius, inq. (formerly Synergy Communications) has extended its reach via the 100 per cent acquisition of Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in Nigeria, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire with a further planned acquisition in Cameroon pending regulatory approvals. This landmark transaction grows inq.’s regional footprint as a leading enterprise solutions provider to 12 cities in 7 countries across Africa including its existing operations in Botswana, Malawi and South Africa with an additional investment in Mozambique.

Under the inq. banner the company will embark on the next phase of building a unified Pan-African cloud and digital service provider, bringing to market a very relevant suite of next generation technology solutions in the fields of Edge AI, SD-WAN/NFV and Cloud.

Currently operating in 12 African cities: Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Gaborone, Lusaka, Ndola, Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Abidjan and Johannesburg. The inq. team prides itself on global best practice methodologies customized to local customs in each of the 16 cities, covering different sectors including banking, oil & gas, FMCG, mining, health, real estate, IT, public sector and logistics.

 “Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation, and inq. is perfectly positioned to deliver intelligent connectivity through seamless delivery of cloud and digital services and  technologies to our clients. We are about simpler, seamless solutions”, said Valentine Chime MD, inq. Nigeria.

www.inq.inc

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[Column] Marius Burger: What does a cloud-connected Africa look like?

With a region as large and as vast as Africa, it is difficult to imagine a fully connected continent where every individual across all demographics, and every business across all sectors can harness the power of cloud computing.

Yet as technology continues to drastically change how we conduct our lives and connect with the world around us, this notion of a cloud-connected Africa becomes far more plausible and realistic.

In fact, many of us are already utilising cloud-enabled technologies on a daily basis. From cloud-based productivity apps to collaboration services like Microsoft Teams, the cloud is seamlessly integrating into our everyday lives. A future where a healthy cloud ecosystem is supported by integrated and innovative technologies is much closer than we think.

Enabling business continuity and growth

Given the current remote working environment, the value of cloud computing for local organisations can’t be emphasised enough. Apart from its geo-agnostic nature, the cloud is the best fit for today’s business landscape because of its scalability, flexibility and consumption-based charging model.

While being able to work from anywhere is key, this can be achieved through other, non-cloud-based technologies. However, the ability to rapidly implement and adapt in the cloud is what makes cloud-based solutions so valuable in our current business state. By driving efficiency and ensuring that employees are productive while working from home, cloud automation focuses workloads into the correct resource pools.

In turn, cloud services promote more streamlined operating systems and provide access to more markets and a wider range of service providers, helping companies reduce unnecessary costs and enable cost-effectiveness in the long run. 

Connecting data centres to customers 

As the demand for digital services continues to increase, the need for more processing power also grows, with more data centres setting up shop in our backyard. And, as more hyper-scalers position themselves in South Africa and throughout the continent, our technology industry is forced to find new solutions that will satisfy this hunger for the cloud. More sophisticated network architecture is required so that ISPs can find smarter ways to manage and orchestrate traffic between data centres and end-users.

Yet without reliable connectivity, no one can reach any cloud solutions, so there is also a responsibility on all ISPs to drive this penetration through Africa safely. Innovative products that are centred around cloud traffic are needed.

Thinking ahead

A fully connected Africa will, therefore, have intelligent networks, built on a foundation of stable and reliable facilities. In other words, the networking equivalent of a park-and-ride system with satellite navigation, ensuring traffic flow in peak hours and drivers finding the best routes to their destinations.

Reaching this desired connected state means a few critical things for our continent. Firstly, our connectivity will be on par with that of more developed countries. Secondly, it’ll enable any business to utilise the cloud and tap into the benefits cloud computing unlocks, essentially allowing companies of all sizes in all sectors to do business easier. Thirdly, cloud capabilities will be able to be deployed closer to end-users, resulting in an increased uptake of cloud-based services for consumers.  

Most importantly, however, a cloud-connected Africa could mean more job opportunities for parts of our population that previously couldn’t access work. And for a continent with high levels of poverty and unemployment, this is a massive win.

If governments, businesses and entrepreneurs embrace the opportunities that the cloud provides, Africa could distinguish itself by using the cloud to drive growth and add value. As we look to the future and strive to build a more connected continent, partnering with a forward-thinking cloud provider that can assist your business in planning for tomorrow, while taking full advantage of the latest cutting-edge technology, is crucial.

Marius Burger is the Chief Information Officer at SEACOM

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[Column] Patrick Ndegwa: The future of cloud computing: moving at the speed of business

is in the cloud.

And with services like cloud-based email, many companies are already using this innovative technology – whether they realise it or not. The conversation has changed from asking ‘what is cloud technology?’ to looking at how it can be harnessed to achieve business success.

Organisations need to be able to adapt at the same speed as this new technology and take advantage of the opportunities it presents. This will ensure business continuity and resilience in the long term. So what’s next for the cloud?

The future of cloud computing: opportunities for Africa

The Internet of Things  is set to become even more prominent, with companies able to automate and optimise more processes as connected ‘smart’ machines are used. Interconnected systems mean that business processes and actual equipment will be linked to ensure ease of access and optimisation. This has the power to significantly improve efficiency for businesses that can get it right.

This could include inventory systems that automatically order more stock when levels are low; smart machines that notify you before a part needs to be replaced; or logistics tracking that optimises routes and delivery based on orders and current traffic congestion. As we progress into this digital world of work, systems will become more interlinked and intertwined, providing opportunities for companies that are ready to take advantage.

Furthermore, the cloud enables remote working and service provision, regardless of where employees or organisations are located. This opens up business opportunities as distance from customers and clients is no longer a stumbling block.

African companies can offer their services to a wider market – and in turn use additional services – as a result of a digitally connected world. The same applies to workers; employees can search for jobs nationally and internationally, as opposed to simply searching for opportunities in their immediate area.

Business flexibility and scalability will be key to enabling growth while reducing unnecessary costs as a result of more streamlined operating systems and access to more markets and a wider range of service providers.

Ensuring the safety and security of the business

The importance of security in this new cloud-connected world cannot be stressed enough. As more data is moved to a cloud environment, businesses that don’t take security seriously become more susceptible to data breaches.

User rights need to be properly managed and the relevant software put into place to prevent cyberattacks and data leaks. In addition to this, each individual accessing a system affects the safety of the wider network, so employee training is vital. Accessing and managing data remotely will need to become a priority. The constant influx of data that is being collected and stored needs to be organised and used strategically. Regular backups are crucial in ensuring that information is safe and easily accessible should the original data be deemed at risk. This will ensure business continuity and reduce downtime.

Companies that stand to win will be those that partner with cloud providers that can help them put the right security measures in place.

Adapting to a cloud-driven world of business

Research indicates that by 2025, all of the world’s data is expected to increase by five times. This data is estimated to be worth around 123.2 billion USD. In addition to this, the mobile cloud services market will be worth an estimated $95 billion by 2024. This trend also applies to Africa.

As Internet usage in Africa grows, so does the amount of data created – as well as the value of that data. Accessing these huge amounts of data won’t be the biggest challenge – making sense of it will be. Companies that can collect, collate and analyse the sheer volume of data generated every day by their customers, employees and other stakeholders stand to gain a lot. If you aren’t organising your data and using it strategically, you will be left behind.

As we look to the future, the importance of partnering with a provider that can assist your business in meeting its operational needs to remain a top priority. A forward-thinking cloud partner can help your business plan for the future, while making the most of the latest innovative technology.

Patrick Ndegwa is Business Sales Lead for SEACOM East Africa

[Column] James Bayhack: The value of mobile marketing cloud technology

Marketing ultimately drives the sales of any business. Without it, many companies wouldn’t sell their products or services and wouldn’t survive in a highly competitive environment. By empowering organisations to reach their target audience, marketing has become a modern-day business essential, particularly in trying times.

As tech evolves at a rapid pace, so do marketing solutions – businesses are spoilt for choice with a wide range of marketing platforms that elevate customer communication. Arguably the most powerful of these is marketing cloud technology: an innovative and integrated suite of digital marketing tools that your team can start using today to improve customer experience and business performance.

Why marketing cloud software?

Depending on your software vendor of choice, marketing cloud technology has many capabilities and benefits. In general, these web-based services make it possible to communicate with your customers across digital platforms, including via the web, email, social media and mobile messaging channels. This is increasingly important, considering that we live, work and socialise in a digitally connected world.

Additionally, marketing cloud technology enables organisations to automate the customer journey in real-time, send targeted content and tap into impactful data analytics.

Informative and consistent customer data underpins the best marketing cloud software, allowing businesses to collect demographic and behavioural data from multiple sources and organise these insights on one centralised platform.

Customer data: The bedrock of cloud marketing

By bringing together customer information and interactions in an integrated platform, a marketing cloud helps organisations to form a complete understanding of their customers, their needs and the ways they interact with brands.

Instead of siloed, anonymous users, a marketing cloud converts data into 360° unified customer profiles that can be used to build unique segments and deliver more personalised and meaningful marketing campaigns using campaign management tools and visual workflow builders.

When you understand who your customers are, you can deliver hyper-personalised experiences across the entire customer journey. Recent research shows that proactively managing and investing in customer experience increases retention, satisfaction and revenue, meaning that a marketing cloud drives business success in the long run.

Mobile marketing is a top priority

Considering consumers spend most of their time on their mobile phones, it makes sense to opt for a marketing cloud that is uniquely focused on mobile. A mobile marketing cloud goes beyond personalised content and reaches customers where they want to be reached – on their personal devices via SMS, Email, WhatsApp and more.

By connecting with your customers on their preferred mobile messaging channels, you’ll be captivating their attention and catering to their needs – two key differentiators that will help your brand and your products or services to stand out.

Finding an omnichannel cloud platform that also enables commerce on mobile channels, offers added advantages. With payment links integrated into emails, WhatsApp chats and web pages, your customers can seamlessly make purchases, elevating the conversion process.

A marketing cloud is a compelling tool that can help future-proof any business, especially those that put their customers’ needs first. As customer-centricity becomes increasingly important, using technology that enables us to connect with and serve our customers is critical.

James Bayhack is the Director of sub-Saharan Africa at CM.com

Global public cloud market poised to reach $596 billion by 2020, report

The global public cloud market size is expected to reach $596 billion by 2027, expanding at a compounded growth rate of 14.6 per cent from 2020 to 2027, according to a new study conducted by Grand View Research, Inc.

Owing to the high scalability and reduced operational costs offered by cloud services in the wake of digital transformation of industries, the market is witnessing rapid growth. Moreover, enterprises across the globe are gradually adopting public cloud technology to rapidly build, test, and release quality software products.

The public cloud is a multi-tenant environment, which offers rapid elasticity and high scalability with capability to consume resources on a pay-per-use basis. Governments and institutions are planning gradually to completely integrate its conventional systems with these computing technologies.

As a part of the IT Modernization effort, U.S Federal Government had initiated Cloud Smart Strategy in October 2018 to improve citizen-centric services, accessibility, and maintain cybersecurity.

Moreover, adoption of the technology is rapidly gaining importance among Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) sector due to the cost competitiveness offered in the market.

Currently, most of the enterprises of varying sizes, are revamping from traditional to digital mode of business.

 The transformation is likely to create potential market for public cloud owing to its benefits such as reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), agility, and flexibility. IBM Corporation states that around 89% of IT professionals expect to move business-critical workloads to cloud, which are driven by the growth in digitization.

Government organizations are also this technology services for storage, disaster recovery, risk compliance management, and identity access management applications.

 In October 2019, amidst corporate hostility, Microsoft Corporation was awarded the U.S Department of Defense contract, Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) worth $10 billion.

www.grandviewresearch.com

[Column] Vukani Mngxati: Enabling remote workers at scale during Covid-19

COVID-19 has turned into a global crisis, evolving at unprecedented speed and scale. Experts don’t know how long it will take to contain the virus so businesses are challenged with not only preparing for the short-term, but also developing new capabilities and ways of working that will seamlessly enable longer-term changes to how they operate.

The most immediate priority should be to protect the health and safety of people. That requires leaders to make rapid, highly-informed decisions, and take actions to protect and support their people while also ensuring that critical business operations continue.

The first step is enabling remote workers at scale. Accenture’s Elastic Digital Workplace roadmap outlines six dimensions which have proven effective in quickly transitioning to a remote workplace environment.

Culture and adoption

For many companies, the shift to remote working can take time to adopt. Tools and coaching are needed to help leaders create the right environment to test and learn, and help people rapidly adopt new ways of working. There are three main aspects:

Radical transparency: embrace a truly human approach: Prepare leaders to be empathetic and available to their teams. Accelerate adoption of collaboration tools by embracing a change champion network to demonstrate and promote behaviours such as document collaboration and using video in virtual meetings.

 Cloud first: Shift away from working on local versions of data and documents by adopting cloud-based applications and storage, which can support everything from document creation and application development, to task management processes and more.

 Optimize for remote working right now: Provide best practices to improve the employee experience, from creating an effective workspace at home, to sharing recommended local network settings. One example is turning off video to improve audio and collaboration during peak network loads.

Elastic collaboration

Elastic collaboration requires a rapid, and in some cases, exponential expansion of your current collaboration capabilities. Case and point: As the largest user of Microsoft Teams in the world, Accenture has 448,000 people communicating and collaborating on the platform.

With the vast majority of our people working remotely due to the pandemic, our usage of Microsoft Teams audio conferencing has more than doubled, from an average of 350 million minutes per month, to 760 million minutes per month; and our use of video conferencing has increased six-fold, from 14 million minutes per month to 84 million minutes per month.

With more employees working remotely, collaboration tools must be able to immediately handle an increase in volume and load while also improving usability and productivity. Actions to consider include:

Adopt and measure collaboration: Expand the existing footprint of collaboration and communication capabilities to employees who need them. Launch an employee education campaign, complete with user stories and relevant examples to encourage adoption.

Cross business enablement: Identify key business contacts and relationships across your ecosystem. Assess current virtual meeting capabilities and deploy a pilot of video and messaging bridging services for seamless interaction with partners, suppliers, and customers.

As a resource for other organisations, Accenture recently worked with Microsoft to launch a Microsoft Teams Rapid Resource Center that provides useful how-to instructions, best practices and additional resources at no cost to help quickly put Teams to work.

Virtual work environment

Virtual work environments provide employees with key resources they need to be productive, such as a secure laptop, and provide seamless access to corporate applications and data. Key aspects that should be addressed include:

Device enablement and mobility: Prioritize enabling workers who have critical roles in driving the business by ensuring they have the tools and access they need. Reclaim devices from users with more than one device and use contractor devices or explore creative sourcing options. Accelerate a “bring your own device” or mobility strategy for remote workers, and provide protections and management solutions.

 Virtual desktops: Implement virtual desktop solutions such as Microsoft, Citrix, VMware or Amazon which offer virtualised workspaces that can extend across boundaries while allowing secure access to remote applications and data for employees who do not have access to secure mobile devices.

Large scale virtual sessions: Enable interactive broadcast and web conference platforms to support the shift from physical to virtual workshops and conferences. Identify and train high touch session facilitators and support to attain the best user experience possible.

Seamless networking

Working productively from home or other remote locations requires seamless, secure, and reliable network connectivity to corporate networks, cloud assets, and to strategic partners. Consider the implementation of the following:

Virtual Private Network (VPN) capacity: Rapidly compliment your traditional VPN technology with new cloud remote access solutions that will improve remote worker experience, performance, and security while alleviating capacity risks on your legacy VPN solution. At the same time, confirm your capacity on traditional remote access technologies.

Remote and home networking: Provide clear and prescriptive guidance to employees about broadband connectivity options and packages in their home locations. Give advice on how to configure the solutions to prioritise voice, video, and collaboration traffic, and help employees troubleshoot issues.

Partner connectivity: Establish a SWAT team to quickly provide, or to expand, business-to business connectivity solutions to strategic partners.

Distributed continuity

The most important thing to get right during the COVID-19 outbreak is the protection of customers, employees, and partners. This requires clearly monitoring and assessing a quickly evolving environment, making rapid business decisions, and communicating clearly and prescriptively to your people on how to navigate the situation.

Monitor and assess: Continuously analyse intelligence from leading health institutions, activate crisis management processes and institute a task force as necessary.

Business planning: Incorporate pandemic planning into your business continuity plans. Run full scale human and department-based continuity tests.

Adaptive security

While moving quickly to enable remote workers to respond to COVID-19 is very important, you cannot do so in a way that puts your business at risk of a security breach. This means rapidly addressing your security protocols and solutions to enable the expansion of remote connectivity, including:

Zero Trust network access: Rapidly deploy a Zero Trust model with built-in technologies to enable secure application access without relying on traditional VPN solutions.

Endpoint managed protection, detection and response: The expanded use of a multitude of devices in potentially less secure locations require additional protection. Build analytics and automation into endpoint management detection and response programs to reduce the amount of human intervention required.

While COVID-19 is serving as the catalyst for an immediate implementation of an elastic digital workplace, the crisis will fundamentally alter how we work and engage. A comprehensive implementation plan will enable companies to quickly scale and dynamically adapt to changing business needs based on global and local conditions.

Vukani Mngxati is the CEO for Accenture in Africa

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CTI Africa selects Vonage to implement telehealth solution in Uganda

Vonage, a global business cloud communications company, has announced that eHealth platform provider CTI Africa Limited has chosen Vonage to power its LifeHealth telehealth system.

With Vonage’s Video API, CTI Africa Limited is bringing advanced telehealth capabilities to the developing world, providing rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa with high quality, affordable medical care and holistic solutions to address economic and social challenges.

Through the LifeHealth system, CTI Africa provides innovative digital health services to its medical insurance clients through a network of 150,000 patients, with more than 5,000 active monthly patients throughout Uganda. Powered by Vonage, LifeHealth provides subscribers with access to medical care via real-time video consultation and video chat wherever they are.

“When we launched the LifeHealth system, we knew we needed seamless, secure and real-time connectivity to provide patients with the best possible care,” said Michael Landau, Founder and CEO of CTI Africa Limited. “Vonage  provided us with the ability to build a solution specific to our unique needs that can also grow and adapt as our needs evolve. Our mission is to create the future of healthcare for the people of Uganda – together, CTI Africa and Vonage are creating a unique and powerful model for all developing countries facing these same challenges.”

“Vonage is honored that an organization like CTI Africa has chosen us to enable the life-changing solutions it is bringing to Uganda,” said Eric Le Guiniec, Global SVP – Communication APIs Sales for Vonage. “As the need for remote and virtual medical care increases, especially during these challenging times, we are proud that Vonage’s video  technology is helping to make healthcare available to those who need it most.”

As demand for solutions to enable virtual medical care has increased during the current global health crisis, usage of Vonage’s Video API has experienced significant growth over the last three months, especially in the telehealth, social and education industries, and has delivered more than 50 billion minutes of video since inception, across a virtually unlimited number of use cases. Vonage powers many of the world’s largest telemedicine providers. Vonage’s video has been a worldwide leader in webRTC video solutions since the webRTC standard was established in 2012.

For organizations like CTI Africa that need the benefit of video conferencing but also have complex compliance and security requirements, the programmability and flexibility of Vonage’s Video APIs enable embedded security measures to protect the privacy and security of patient information.

www.vonage.com

www.ctiafrica.com

ContinuitySA launches cloud-based backup and replication solution for SMEs

ContinuitySA, Africa’s provider of business resilience services and a Veeam Platinum Partner, is launching Cloud Connect, a cloud-based backup and replication service for the small and medium enterprise (SME).

 The offering is particularly relevant now as companies of all sizes move aggressively onto digital platforms to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis, according to Renier du Plessis, Cloud Manager at ContinuitySA.

“The current emergency demonstrates graphically just how important a company’s ICT systems are in giving it the flexibility to adapt to today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. The shift to digital is now irreversible,” he says. “Now, more than ever, it is vital that, in the event of a disaster, companies can recover their systems and data in the shortest space of time, or risk losing customer confidence, revenue and even brand equity.

“The cloud has emerged as a key platform not only for ICT systems but for their recovery. However, SMEs have typically lacked a genuinely easy-to-use solution that will not commit them to high management costs—until now.”

Mr Du Plessis says that ContinuitySA Cloud Connect is an unmanaged service, which keeps costs to a minimum. No upfront capital needs to be committed as payment is based on a monthly fee depending on usage. This fee includes the necessary Veeam licence, unless the client already has one, plus the storage space for the backups on ContinuitySA’s world-class cloud infrastructure.

 “The Veeam console is extraordinarily well-designed and easy-to-use, so companies have full control of the backup process, from configuration through to reporting, scaling up or down, restores, failovers and configuration changes. It’s literally a point-and-click environment. This reduces costs considerably but also means that everything happens very quickly—there’s no waiting for a third party to get things done,” he points out. “And because it’s an OPEX model, it’s easy to manage costs.”

Veeam Cloud Connect thus provides a cost-effective way to tailor an effective, safe and reliable way to mitigate risks in line with the company’s risk profile and appetite. It makes it possible for an SME to follow the 3-2-1 rule for data backups: three copies on two different media, one offsite.

All data is encrypted from the moment the backup process is initiated until it’s safely in ContinuitySA’s cloud repository. As a leading provider of business continuity services, ContinuitySA’s data centres are maintained to world-class standards, with 24/7 monitoring, backup power, UPS systems, backup diesel and water, and fully redundant communications links.

With more than three decades of experience in business continuity experience across the continent, ContinuitySA has the know-how to help clients build resilience into their operations, providing executives, directors, suppliers, clients and regulators with peace of mind. ContinuitySA will help with scoping the solution and provide training on the Veeam console as needed.

ContinuitySA’s skilled and experienced support staff is available for any post-implementation help that is required—again on a pay-as-you-use basis. The company has a name for the quality and responsiveness of its support.

“Cloud Connect finally gives SMEs a way to create and manage their own, individually tailored, cloud-based backup and replication solution easily and cost-effectively, while also gaining the peace of mind of a trusted partner in ContinuitySA,” he concludes. “This is the backup solution the SME market has been waiting for.”

www.continuitysa.com

Cloud-computing solutions can reduce banking costs in Africa, report

More than 700 million Africans lack access to a bank or mobile money account and only 41 per cent of Africans are financially included.

This is due to the high cost of providing financial services in Africa which forces many financial services providers to remain focused on serving wealthier customers.

These are some of the many insights from the report Cloud Banking in Africa: The Regulatory Opportunityby Genesis Analytics and Orange Business Services on how the application of cloud computing in financial services can help financial services providers reach and serve the poor. 

Part of the cost problem is that financial institutions in Africa are so much smaller than elsewhere – the biggest bank in Africa (SBSA with assets of $148 billion) ranks 296th globally; most banks in Africa have assets of less than $5 billion. But African consumers are increasingly expecting these banks to provide the same range of digital services as banks in other countries. This is why consumers have been turning to mobile banking in such numbers. The telecommunications companies have been much more successful at delivering affordable financial services than banks are, but also need to find new ways to reduce costs if they are to reach out to even poorer customers. 

Cloud computing creates an opportunity for providers of financial services to rethink their technology spend and significantly reduce costs. Cloud computing involves using internet technologies to provide virtual infrastructure that is scalable and delivered as a service. Fixed costs can be converted into a subscription-based approach and upfront capital investments are converted into operational costs. Cloud computing allows banks to pay less for ICT infrastructure and services and achieve higher utilisation on ICT spend. Particularly for small banks in small markets where specialised ICT skills are in short supply, cloud computing can ease a critical operational constraint.

The most compelling reason to move to the cloud is undoubtedly cost savings, but there are other business reasons too. The flexibility of cloud-based operational models allows financial institutions to experience shorter development cycles for new products, which supports a faster and more efficient response to the needs of customers. Cloud computing provides the computer power necessary to deliver analytical insights in real time, which enables financial institutions to move towards a customer-centric model where the financial needs of customers are fully understood. Financial institutions can also gain a higher level of data security, resilience, fault tolerance and disaster recovery from cloud computing.

A few international and African banks have already realised the value of cloud banking. WeBank is China’s first digital bank that is based in a private cloud and uses innovative technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and blockchain, to effect an extraordinarily high volume of transactions at a very low cost. WeBank has been able to run at 95% lower cost than that of traditional banks’ IT operations and has passed this cost saving onto their customers in the form of low account fees. TymeBank is a new digital entrant to the South African banking sector and has made a 56% cost saving compared to other startups by using cloud services from AWS.

Before financial service providers can adopt cloud banking, regulators need to support and approve the use of cloud technology within the financial sector. Some international regulators are already allowing the use of cloud banking in the financial sector. The European Union has been at the forefront of defining an enabling regulatory environment for cloud banking services, which has involved both the regulation on the use of data and privacy and protection of data. Under the regulations, financial institutions have to ensure that consumer personal data is gathered legally and under strict conditions and that consumer data is fully protected. Other developing markets like Turkey and Argentina have adopted similar legal and regulatory environments, which has enabled the use of cloud banking in their financial sectors. 

Africa’s financial sector regulators’ approaches are very much work in progress. The report urges African regulators to develop clear policy positions and regulations on data privacy, risk and security; data sovereignty; cybercrime; protection of intellectual property; vendor risk; and migration complexity and operational risk to enable financial institutions to reap the benefit of cloud banking.

Genesis Analytics is a global African firm that has worked in more than 74 countries across the world, 41 of which are on the continent, and Orange Business Services is a network-native digital services company and the global enterprise division of the Orange Group, connecting, protecting and innovating for enterprises around the world.

The full report can be accessed here

www.genesis-analytics.com

www.orange-business.com

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[Column] Rentia Booysen: It is time to adopt multi-cloud

Companies have been preparing for a multi-cloud world for some time, even if they were not aware of doing so.

The arrival of international data centres in South Africa means decision-makers have access to additional cloud options, thereby providing the impetus for multi-cloud to become a more intentional strategy in the months to come.

But what does this equate to?

A multi-cloud environment refers to policy-based and coordinated service provisioning, use, and management across a mixture of internal and external cloud services. Such has been its growth that research shows 81% of public cloud users surveyed are working with two or more providers.

Not only does it provide the means to avoid vendor lock-in, but going this route empowers organisations to select the best environments for specific tasks. Cloud Provider A could be ideal for business continuity and disaster recovery. At the same time, Cloud Provider B provides access to innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) more cost-effectively.

More than hardware

However, a true multi-cloud environment is not about how many service providers a business uses. Instead, it revolves around how to operationally transform the company by integrating all aspects of its cloud offerings, whether these are private, public, or hybrid. The technology, therefore, plays just a part in this approach. More importantly, the extent to which organisations are willing to embrace this new way of thinking becomes a key factor.

In the past, this might have entailed moving just one application to the cloud. Now, the level of sophistication has evolved along with the strategic priorities of the organisation. Therefore, a mix of public and private clouds along with on-premise infrastructure can be considered a standard operating model.

But irrespective of the level of cloud adoption utilised, a company requires unified, automated, and AI-driven management at a software level. This enables the business to create an architecture capable of evolving as companies seek ways to modernise their enterprise networks. Companies can use such a solution to simplify growth throughout their migration from secure routers to software-defined networks (SD-WAN) and, ultimately, to a multi-cloud network automated by AI.

User-focused

An AI environment introduces automation that improves user experiences and simplifies operations, providing reliability and agility while extending visibility across the enterprise, both on-premise and off.

The right software provides the business with a foundation to easily add multi-cloud endpoints, security, monitoring, and third-party network services to its SD-WAN. IT departments can now easily manage this every step of the way using a multi-cloud orchestration solution. It even enables the business to run software and virtual endpoints on its own infrastructure or on that of public cloud service providers such as Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

Think of this multi-focused environment as part of the process of how the cloud-native technology stack is evolving and becoming more sophisticated.

With data driving all decision-making at a company, irrespective its size and industry, the resources provided by the high-performance computing capabilities of the cloud cannot be ignored. But instead of going the ‘all or nothing’ route, a business can select how to use the cloud services (and providers) that make the most sense at any given point in time. The ability to turn on and off resources as required is a more efficient value proposition that provides complete control over cloud costs.

Furthermore, this dynamic enables the business to still maintain control of sensitive data that can remain on-site while getting the flexibility of AI and ML for data analysis as required. All told, the multi-cloud does present an exciting value proposition to South African organisations as they start competing against others on the continent and beyond.

Rentia Booysen is Collaboration Business Unit Manager at Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa