[Column] Marilyn Moodley: Cloud Security – Whose fault is it?

At least 95% of cloud security failures in the next three years will be the customer’s fault, according to Gartner. Unsurprisingly, the biggest threat to security is people. Misconfiguration mistakes escalated from 15% of exploitable errors in 2018 to more than 40% in 2021 and human error is now the third most common cause of security breaches, ahead of malware and right up there with social engineering and hacking. Complacency about cloud security is a major contributing factor, but this needs to change. Most cloud services operate under a shared responsibility model in which providers secure the infrastructure, while customers are required to lock down the software stack and applications. In other words, responsibility for patching vulnerabilities and controlling access to cloud accounts still lies with the user.

What does this mean? Organisations need to remain vigilant, ensuring that they take the necessary steps and precautions to secure their data and identities if they’re to avoid becoming an unfortunate statistic with no one to blame but themselves.

Identify, verify, control

No matter the deployment model, sufficient controls are required to govern access and usage. With such a variety of effective Identity and Access Control service providers available today, there is little excuse for businesses not to have these measures in place. Authentication and access control requires users to verify their identity, and secures their access to resources across cloud, SaaS, on-prem and APIs, while increasing speed, agility, and efficiency.

Such IAM solutions make it straightforward to provide the means for customers, employees and partners to all have secure access to the necessary resources. By using identity verification and access control services located in the cloud, the limitations and costs associated with on-premises IAM can be replaced by a more flexible, scalable solution. Cloud IAM is key to ensuring security outside of network perimeters and capabilities include authentication, access management, identity verification, consent collection, risk management and API security.

Access control to the cloud should be regulated through the creation of centralised rules and policies to streamline processes. The use of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is critical to ensure the correct identification of individuals trying to access networked resources, while Privileged Access Management (PAM) tools enforce control over sensitive components and applications in the environment.  These tools form part of a larger cloud security picture that includes details such as a zero trust framework, bolstered with cybersecurity mesh, and reinforced with Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).

Zero trust: never trust, always verify

Zero trust is a framework for securing organisations in cloud and mobile spaces by insisting that no user or application be trusted by default. It enables least-privileged access, establishes trust based on context which is informed by user identity and location, endpoint security posture as well as the app or service being requested, while performing necessary policy checks at each step. A well-tuned zero trust architecture leads to simpler network infrastructure, a better user experience, and improved cyber threat defense.

SASE: borderless security

Secure access service edge (SASE) is a framework for network architecture that brings cloud native security technologies together with wide area network (WAN) capabilities to securely connect users, systems, and endpoints to applications and services anywhere. This ensures that data and traffic is secured, no matter where it travels.

Cybersecurity MESH: closing the gaps

Gartner describes cybersecurity mesh as “a flexible, composable architecture that integrates widely distributed and disparate security services”. Concerned with strengthening digital security while bringing tools closer to the assets they’re designed to defend, a cybersecurity mesh architecture (CSMA) encourages organisations to deploy solutions that fit their specific needs by working within their integrated ecosystems. This enables businesses to share cybersecurity intelligence, automate and coordinate responses to threats, and simplify their security operations. CSMA offers a distributed identity fabric that helps establish trusted access across all applications, customers, partners, and workforces.

Achieving visibility and developing security skill sets

Visibility in cloud security means eliminating blind spots that can result in overspending, performance inefficiencies and security complications. This is done through service-centric or role-centric tools, rather than host-centric tools to manage networks. If it is not possible to hire the necessary competencies, organisations will have to develop them. Many vendors offer online resources to help technologists learn the skills they need to become cloud security engineers. In addition to an increase in the need to cultivate the necessary skills, there will be an increase in demand for technologists that have the DevOps skills necessary to align business workloads with the cloud.  Upskilling will also be critical to bridging the skills gap which includes training business teams on how to use cloud tools.

Owning security responsibility

Accordingly, it’s important for businesses to remember that even when they’re purchasing infrastructure, software or functionality as a service, they’re not outsourcing total responsibility for security. This will continue to be a shared responsibility, because it is unlikely that service providers would willingly take on the possibility of being liable for human action or error beyond their control. As such, organisations will need to prioritise the acquisition of or the development of necessary security-minded skills in order to protect their digital assets from cyber harm.

Marilyn Moodley is the South African Country Leader for SoftwareONE.

Liquid Intelligent Technologies partners with multi-cloud platform Teridion to deliver faster internet connectivity in Africa

Liquid Intelligent Technologies, a business of Cassava Technologies, a pan-African technology group, has announced a strategic partnership with Teridion, a superior cloud-based global connectivity platform.

Teridion’s multi-cloud-based solution has been added to Liquid’s backbone services as part of their efforts to offer internet service that matches the changing Enterprise needs. This will allow Liquid to provide reliable and fast internet connectivity to its global customers.

Commenting on the partnership, Chief Business Development Officer for Liquid Cloud & Cyber Security Winston Ritson said, “The multi-cloud-based solution coupled with Liquid’s current technology will serve this market well. As a business, we understand the changing needs of our Enterprise customers. Using a multi-cloud-based platform allows Liquid to provide ten times faster internet performance that is more reliable and scalable, allowing global Enterprise customers to receive optimal performance from WAN. This partnership with Teridion is a game-changer for our business and is part of our commitment to offer services that our global Enterprise customers can use to continue on their growth trajectory.

The partnership between Liquid and Teridion will allow the Enterprise customers to benefit from improved internet performance with dynamic route optimisation. Additionally, the patented technology will allow for dynamic, unlimited scalability, a high-performance global multi-cloud network, machine learning, and over 500 POPs in a solution that requires no hardware or software and can work with any device.

“Businesses operate in a global setting with remote employees. They are looking for a single service provider capable of delivering high-speed, reliable connectivity across their company. Teridion’s guaranteed SLA, global reach, and interoperability through a clientless solution that requires zero employee setup makes it an ideal solution. We are excited about extending our offering to new customers through our partnership with Liquid, which is known for its highly reliable services,” says Sander Teunissen, Sales Director of Teridion.

The partnership between the two technology firms has been in effect since December 2021. This is yet another step in Liquid’s evolution as Africa’s leading digital solutions provider, offering superior Cloud, Cyber Security, and Managed IT services in addition to owning the largest independent fibre network on the continent.

www.liquid.tech

www.teridion.com

Cisco Middle East & Africa hosts ‘Future Cloud’ Summit to showcase new hybrid cloud innovations

Cisco led a MEA Cloud Summit showcasing new ways it is helping its customers and partners in the region accelerate digital transformations as they move more resources to the cloud.

The hyper-connected, distributed world we live in today relies more than ever on cloud, and IT teams are facing challenges to provide optimal digital experiences wherever and whenever people need access. As a result, businesses are migrating to a cloud-driven operational model based on speed, insight, and control to bridge the greater distribution of applications, users, and tech staff. 

Enabling customers realize better outcomes from the cloud

Cisco has made multi-billion-dollar investments over the past six years to build cloud into every aspect of its business, focusing on helping customers confidently develop complete cloud strategies across five key areas: Continuity, Insights, Security, Connectivity, and Operations.

During the virtual event, the company will showcase how it is advancing its cloud strategy across several of these areas to help businesses connect, secure, and automate to deliver seamless digital experiences in a hybrid cloud world.

“User experience is key to success in a digital world,” said Reem Asaad, Vice President Cisco Middle East & Africa, “We are focused on empowering and enabling technology groups to securely deliver the best possible application experiences. Only Cisco can power the hybrid cloud solutions, observability, insights, and automation necessary to be truly cloud smart.”

New hybrid cloud solutions discussed:

The agenda is designed to address key issues customers face when building their Cloud strategy. As Adele Trombetta, VP of CX EMEAR notes: ‘migrating to the cloud opens a whole new world of possibilities that promises cost optimization, security improvement and stelar user experience. It is, however – even for the boldest, most tech-savvy among us – incredibly complex.  The MEA Cloud Summit is a great opportunity to meet some of Cisco’s experts on Multicloud and hear from the people that help US design our strategy’.  

Supported by Cisco Customer Experience (CX) Services that offer:

  • Business Critical Services for Cloud provide advisory services plus expertise to architect, deploy, secure, and optimize digital transformations.
  • Intersight Workload Optimizer Services enhance the resource consumption of applications in the cloud.
  • Advanced Services for ThousandEyes and SD-WAN deliver the best application experience for cloud solutions, providing expert design and integration to reduce project complexity and speed transformation.
  • Custom Quick Start Solutions provide services for end-to-end automation and infrastructure-as-code (IaC).

Cisco believes that organizations want to see their Multicloud solution manage applications, workflows, and data better than ever before – providing better user experience, assurance of compliance, decreased security risk, programmable infrastructure and Reduced OpEx.

As stated by Osama Al Zoubi, Cisco CTO Middle East and Africa: “’We are experiencing a rate of change that we have never seen before; this acceleration created tremendous challenge and presented new opportunities. The ability to navigate the new world through multi-cloud architecture and all the innovation associated with it, is the path that many major organizations are embracing. We invite you all to come and join us through the MEA Cloud Summit forum to discuss and collaborate on ideas that will enable and accelerate digital business.

www.cisco.com

Oracle opens first cloud region in Africa

Oracle announced the availability of its first cloud region in Africa to meet the rapidly growing demand for enterprise cloud services on the continent. The Oracle Cloud Johannesburg Region will boost cloud adoption across Africa while also helping businesses achieve better performance and drive continuous innovation. The opening marks Oracle’s 37th cloud region worldwide with plans to have at least 44 cloud regions by the end of 2022, continuing one of the fastest expansions of any major cloud provider.

“The fourth industrial revolution, which is powered by cloud-led technologies, has significantly accelerated in South Africa and the wider African continent. In recent months, cloud technologies have played a vital role in helping African public and private sector organisations ensure business continuity, deliver essential services, and meet evolving customer expectations. The Oracle Johannesburg region offers a next-generation cloud to run any application faster and more securely for less, helping businesses build resilience, agility and achieve improved ROI,” said Richard Smith, executive vice president, EMEA, Oracle.

The Johannesburg region is built on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), which enables customers to easily migrate IT workloads and data platforms to the cloud or build new cloud native applications. In addition, Oracle offers a wide range of application modernisation and cloud strategies to help African organisations operate with global competitiveness.

Customer, Analyst, and Partner Commentary

African organisations are using Oracle to manage their mission-critical workloads and take advantage of cloud economics. Customers will benefit from significant performance improvements and reduced operational costs.

Airports Company South Africa owns and manages a network of nine airports in South Africa, including the three main international gateways: O.R. Tambo International, Cape Town International and King Shaka International, which together process more than 40 million passengers annually.

“Airports Company South Africa is mandated to advance South Africa’s national agenda of economic growth and development while delivering a sustainable and profitable business. Cloud-led digital transformation is vital for us to maintain an agile and profitable business model. The Oracle Cloud Johannesburg Region will offer us the flexibility to explore the latest technologies that can support our digital roadmap,” said Mthoko Mncwabe, CIO, Airports Company South Africa.

The Government Pensions Administrative Agency (GPAA) ensures the effective, transparent and accountable administration of pension funds on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GPEF) and the National Treasury of South Africa.

“GPAA is in the process of replacing legacy applications and refreshing its IT infrastructure. The timing of the Johannesburg region opening is perfect to enable us to lift and shift our existing and future Oracle deployments to the cloud. This will enable us to cut down on on-premises infrastructure and assist with the management of Oracle services, cybersecurity and disaster recovery,” said Meiring Coetzee, CIO, Government Pensions Administrative Agency.

Telkom is Africa’s largest telecommunications company.

“Telkom plays a leading role in South Africa’s digital revolution, providing the latest converged ICT solutions for a range of business and residential customers. The Johannesburg region will boost the local infrastructure capability of South Africa and the wider continent, and help organisations kick-start their digital transformation journeys,” said Reubin Layman, CIO, Openserve, Telkom SA.

“Our deep partnership with Oracle has always been one of Accenture’s most strategic and important initiatives to help our clients leverage the cloud and thrive in a cloud-first world. In this era of rapid transformation, cloud has proven to be a powerful tool for organisations to master change – in fact, we have found that cloud-focused organisations in Africa and Asia Pacific were able to achieve 1.5 times more cost reduction and were reported to be 3.7 times more likely to innovate as compared to their competitors. We have seen the benefits Oracle Cloud Infrastructure brings to our clients and know that the Oracle Cloud Johannesburg Region will further accelerate organisations’ cloud adoption and their ability to become agile, intelligent and digital businesses,” said Kgomotso Lebele, Technology Lead, Accenture Africa.

“Public cloud services adoption is accelerating at CAGR of 25 percent year on year between 2020 and 2025 in Sub-Saharan Africa and IDC projects that the growth momentum will continue. The role of cloud in enabling innovation is underscored by the priority organisations have given to it as part of their digital transformation initiatives. Cloud-based technologies have helped organisations weather the COVID-19 crisis and cloud is now helping them build resilient organisations that can withstand uncertainties. Our survey of CIOs in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria highlights that an in-country data center is an important factor for 60 percent of organisations that are planning to adopt cloud over the next 12-18 months. The Johannesburg region will boost regional cloud infrastructure availability. IDC believes that cloud has become an inseparable element of an organisation’s digital transformation and innovation roadmap,” said Mark Walker, associate vice president, Sub-Saharan Africa, IDC.

“Supply chain is mission critical. Kӧrber’s unrivaled portfolio of supply chain software, spanning WMS, voice, robotics and beyond, empowers businesses to turn what were once warehousing and logistics challenges into strategic differentiators. Our work with Oracle takes this to another level, enhancing our capabilities with the power of the cloud. We look forward to the possibilities our solutions and the Oracle Cloud together will bring the industry in South and Sub Saharan Africa and globally”, said Joe Couto, executive vice president, robotics and 3PL at Kӧrber Supply Chain Software.

Preparing Africa’s Next Generation for the Digital Economy

In South Africa, Oracle has initiated an annual “Graduate Leadership Program” to address the skills gap in the local ICT industry and creating employment opportunities for South Africa’s youth. The program focuses on equipping disadvantaged South African students with specialised technology and leadership skills that prepare them for a career in the IT industry. Since its inception in 2014, more than 200 graduates have completed this program with several securing permanent employment with Oracle partner companies and other organisations.

High Availability and Disaster Protection

Oracle’s strategy is to meet customers where they are, enabling customers to keep data and services where they need it. Customers can deploy Oracle Cloud completely within their own data centers with Dedicated Region and Exadata Cloud@Customer, deploy cloud services locally with public cloud-based management, or deploy cloud services remotely on the edge with Roving Edge Infrastructure.

OCI’s next-generation architecture provides a high-performing, resilient foundation for cloud services, while its physical and virtual network design maximizes performance and security. For example, each Oracle Cloud region contains at least three fault domains, which are groupings of hardware that form logical data centers for high availability and resilience to hardware and network failures.

Sustainability

Oracle is committed to sustainability and has pledged to power all Oracle Cloud regions worldwide with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.  Several Oracle Cloud regions in North America, South America, and Europe are already powered by 100 percent renewable energy, and all Oracle Cloud regions use state-of-the-art energy management and cooling technologies to minimize their impact on the environment.  As part of its clean Cloud initiative, Oracle reused or recycled 99.6 percent of its retired hardware in FY21 while strictly adhering to Oracle’s data privacy and security practices.

Cloud Regions Deliver All Cloud Services and Multicloud

Oracle Cloud regions support every Oracle service and feature and are available to customers anywhere in the world. This includes Oracle Autonomous Database, Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes, Oracle Cloud VMware solution, and Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications Suite.

OCI’s extensive network of more than 70 FastConnect global and regional partners offer customers dedicated connectivity to Oracle Cloud regions and OCI services – providing customers with the best options anywhere in the world. FastConnect provides an easy, elastic, and economical way to create a dedicated and private network connection with higher bandwidth, lower latency, and more consistent performance versus public Internet-based connections. Partners available at launch for the Oracle Cloud Johannesburg Region include Colt, Telia, Equinix, and Megaport.

In addition, OCI and Microsoft Azure have a strategic partnership that enables joint customers to run workloads across the two clouds. This partnership provides a low latency, cross-cloud interconnect between OCI and Azure in ten regions (San Jose, Phoenix, Ashburn, Toronto, Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, South Korea and Vinhedo), federated identity for joint customers to deploy applications across both clouds, and a collaborative support model. Customers can run full stack applications in a multi-cloud configuration, while maintaining high-performance connectivity without requiring re-architecture. They can also potentially migrate existing applications or develop cloud native applications that use a mix of OCI and Azure services.

www.oracle.com

IBM and MuleSoft partner to help accelerate flexibility across public and private clouds

IBM and MuleSoft have announced a global relationship. MuleSoft plans to extend its Anypoint Runtime Fabric, a container service for multi-cloud and hybrid deployments, to run on Red Hat OpenShift, the industry’s enterprise Kubernetes platform.

IBM and MuleSoft plan to deliver increased integrations and solutions around the IBM Z product family to support financial services and other mutual customers. In addition, IBM plans to significantly expand its overall investment in integration software and industry expertise, including increasing the number of MuleSoft-certified professionals in its consulting services organization.

According to the latest State of Salesforce report from IBM and Oxford Economics, nearly 30% of innovation activities and ecosystem, workforce, and customer engagement will be virtualized by 2023.

The shift to digital-first customer and employee experiences has created more data from more systems than ever before – and delivering these connected digital experiences will require seamless integration of data, potentially across multiple siloed systems.

Empowering companies to deliver seamless digital experiences, faster

IBM and MuleSoft plan to make it easier to securely connect, compose, and automate business processes and modernize applications at scale:

In collaboration with Red Hat, MuleSoft will extend Anypoint Runtime Fabric to Red Hat OpenShift as a certified OpenShift application, unlocking increased flexibility for companies to deploy APIs, integrations, and automations across public and private clouds.

Today, 85 of the world’s top 100 banks run on IBM Z. MuleSoft supports IBM Z Digital Integration Hub, making it easier for joint financial services customers to integrate core business applications and share real-time, industry relevant information with MuleSoft.

IBM Z Digital Integration Hub creates flexible, efficient real-time information flow multiple systems of record on z/OS and cloud environments while also optimizing costs.

MuleSoft complements IBM Z Digital Integration Hub by allowing customers to securely share current information stored in the Z Digital Integration Hub via reusable APIs and easily integrate it to external applications with clicks, not code. To provide even more options for clients, MuleSoft also provides a CICS connector via the IBM CICS Transaction Gateway.

Together, IBM and MuleSoft plan to accelerate integration with core systems and faster development of hybrid cloud applications, as well as support for governance, risk and compliance requirements.

As a part of the IBM Z and Cloud ModernizationCenter, a digital front door to a vast array of tools, training, resources and ecosystem partners, MuleSoft will help joint customers accelerate the modernization of their applications, data and processes in an open hybrid cloud architecture.

As part of the commitment to its longstanding Salesforce practice, IBM Consulting is also significantly increasing the number of MuleSoft-certified professionals to support intelligent workflows, automation, and industry-focused use cases that accelerate digital transformation. IBM Consulting, a global Salesforce partner, harnesses the industry expertise of certified Salesforce and MuleSoft practitioners to help companies deliver key business outcomes and scale innovation faster.

www.ibm.com

www.mulesoft.com

Cloudmania targets 13 African countries with new offerings

Cloudmania, an exclusive provider of Cloud Partner Programmes in Africa, has opened its doors in 13 countries across the continent. The indirect provider focuses on partner building and enablement by giving resellers the ability to resell superior solutions by leveraging Cloudmania.

According to Winston Ritson, Chief Business Officer, Cloudmania, “We understand the growing need for cloud services and its vital role to ensure seamless collaboration between employees. Our extensive expertise will ensure that you are provided with the appropriate tools to assist your customers on their cloud migration journeys. Just as customers have transformed their business, partners have to transform and rely on a partner invested in their business “

Cloudmania aims to help businesses keep track of their data, performance and customers, and creates a single-pane view of the entire network. In addition, the programme is designed to increase workflow efficiency, lower operational costs, and most importantly, develop partnerships with resellers. 

Cloudmania will assist partners’ profitability by supporting them with marketing, training and specialist advice. Using the programme’s communication channels, the team will source qualified and unqualified leads to help partners build their businesses. The offering is backed by superior world-class technology, equipping a reseller’s business with innovative cloud technology, enabling them to offer exceptional customer solutions.

All resellers will have access to a suite of solutions tailored to suit customers’ needs. The products include Microsoft 365, One Voice – a unified voice solution, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Azure in a box, Cyber Security, cloud connectivity, cloud infrastructure, Google workspace, Windows virtual desktop and Basekit site builder.

Cloudmania will assist in boosting the performance of a reseller offering while ensuring affordability, scalability, improving uptime, availability and provide seamless integration.

 The offerings are supported by partner development managers in each country, a panel of experts and focused training programmes. Resellers engaging with the Cloudmania will also benefit from in-country billing in specific territories and reseller discounts.

Cloudmania and its suite of offerings is currently available in South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Cameroon, Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

www.liquid.tech

Routed appoints Axiz Cloud Technologies to boost South Africa’s cloud market

Cloud infrastructure provider and VMware Principal Partner, Routed, has appointed Axiz Cloud Technologies as a VMware cloud distribution partner.

Andrew Cruise, MD, Routed, says that as a vendor neutral infrastructure provider, Routed has always planned to build a resilient and robust channel. He says the Axiz appointment is not only strategic, but necessary to further enhance a local channel focused on the development of cloud in South Africa.

“We are delighted to be working more closely with Axiz Cloud Technologies. This partnership is key to the success of VMware Cloud uptake and we are excited to work with the local team to build out even more VMware-inspired cloud platforms. Their legacy in distribution is a key advantage in terms of technical ability and reach within the local channel. Our distribution agreement with them will also help ensure that Managed Service Providers (MSP) are given the necessary support and technical assistance when implementing cloud strategies,” says Cruise.

He says that the cloud opportunity is massive across the African continent due to digital transformation and the related cloud/IT spend.  Hastened by the Covid-19 pandemic, Cruise says that Routed anticipates further interest and growth in cloud adoption.

 Research by African Cloud Market 2021, states that cloud-based office applications are increasingly vital components of the African modern workplace. The rise of the cloud in the African market ostensibly goes beyond basic office applications. From banks looking to accelerate the rollout of new applications to startups disrupting entire industries with innovative, cloud-powered models, cloud services are transforming Africa’s productive capacity and emerging as one of the most essential pillars of Africa’s digital transformation.

According to Cruise this paints a picture of why having a robust and agile channel is so important. “This agreement is one way in which to address the growing cloud requirement. In simple terms, we need MSPs who can manage the implementation and rollout of cloud and Axiz Cloud Technologies, as one of the leading distributors, has the depth and breadth to do this successfully.”

He says that Axiz Cloud Technologies will offer the full suite of VMware Cloud solutions offered by Routed, which is the most complete VMware-based cloud infrastructure deployment available locally. Routed’s cloud and infrastructure products address all Enterprise cloud platform, recovery solutions and modern application requirements of business.

The role Routed plays within the VMware cloud ecosystem is key says Cruise. They are not only the first VMware Cloud Verified partner in Africa, but also boast Principal Partner Status, which is the highest tiered recognition within the VMware Partner Connect programme. In addition, Routed is  the first VMware DRaaS Certified Partner in Africa: “This enables us to provide Axiz Cloud Technologies with immense support as well as access to our technical experts, and guidance in terms of better understanding the VMware solutions and services.”

Willie Jansen van Rensburg, executive, Axiz Cloud Technologies, says that this appointment is key to the business’ future as a cloud distributor and solution provider: “We are excited to further develop our role in the local cloud ecosystem. Routed is undoubtedly a market-leading VMware specialist and we are confident that together we can increase VMware’s cloud market share, while developing local skills too.”

www.routed.co.za

www.axizcloud.com

afriQloud and whitesky.cloud have put the foundation in place for a federated EMEA cloud infrastructure

In partnership with the European company whitesky.cloud, afriQloud has designed a completely new architecture for affordable and local cloud services.

In the ever-expanding international cloud market, the partners from both the African and European continent introduce a completely new and compelling value proposition to the cloud industry. Thanks to their white-labelled platform, any organisation can become a Virtual Cloud Operator (VCO) offering cloud infrastructure through their own brand.

Extensive research identified the most important pain points channel partners and end users experience with the large and dominant hyperscalers. One of the most important pain points is the issue of data sovereignty. The partners decided to use principles well-known in the world of telecom (wholesale and roaming) to design a scalable and federated global cloud grid in order to resolve this and other pain points 

“Distributed cloud capacity provides excellent opportunities for African organisations as well as international companies seeking to bring their digital services to the African continent,” explains Eric Mugerwa, Founding Partner and CTO of afriQloud.

Any interested party (telecom operators, system integrators, managed service providers, software developers, etc.) can now easily become a Virtual Cloud Operator (VCO). Both afriQloud and whitesky.cloud provide a fully managed solution, including a certified training programme which enables channel partners to sell and deliver cloud capacity on both continents.

“It’s exciting for us to be part of this solution, which provides an interesting opportunity for channel partners in both Europe and Africa. We enable them to provide cloud services on both continents from the day they decide to become a VCO,” says Jeroen van Langenhove, Managing Director of whitesky.cloud.

www.afriqloud.com

www.whitesky.cloud

[Column] James Bayhack: How mobile service cloud can transform customer experience

Service, service, service. That’s been the call for businesses that want to keep their clients happy and turn one-time customers into lifelong fans. Now, however, the focus has moved to brilliant customer experience. But what does this mean? And why are we seeing the shift?  

Think about how you do business today compared to just a few years ago. Customer service was measured by metrics like how many rings there were before your service department answered. In addition, were your retail staff smiling and pleasant, and did your team respond to a customer email timeously? While customer service is still crucial, there’s a lot more to it in today’s multilayered, omnichannel world of business. 

What is Customer Experience (CX)?

Customer experience is how your customers perceive their interactions with your company or brand.  

From navigating the website to contacting customer service and receiving the product that they ordered, customer experience is the sum of every interaction the customer has with your company. It impacts their feelings and emotions, encompassing their entire customer journey. It also determines whether or not they come back. 

A recent report by integrated customer experience company Ajua found that 81% of Kenyan companies with strong capabilities for delivering customer experience are outperforming their competition. By contrast, 91% of customers will not do business with a company a second time if their first experience is negative.

Findings also suggested that certain industries have upped their CX game and are experiencing growth even in a pandemic. These include banking, insurance, retail, and food and beverage. In the Telco space, Safaricom ranked top in terms of customer experience.

So, some companies are getting it right. Now, the question is, how can you do the same? With such a broad range of expectations, how can you narrow down the most critical factors and eliminate friction where it matters most? You’ll be thrilled to know we’ve done the heavy lifting for you and the easiest solution lies in mobile service cloud.

Here’s how this smart technology helps to solve the most common customer issues.

Creating bulletproof CX in 6 key steps

Omnichannel Inbox

In a single, convenient inbox, you can manage conversations from all channels. This solves the issue of long wait times when customers have a problem or question as it places all communication in one place for easy reference and super-fast response.

It’s common for many customers to conduct research before purchasing something from your company, and checking different platforms is one way of doing this. Whether they trust you or not depends on the quality of information they find and your responses along the way. 

An omnichannel inbox allows you to deliver a brilliant customer experience on all channels. Don’t you agree that it looks unprofessional if you respond quickly via live chat but not at all via Facebook? When customers receive excellent service, they will tell their colleagues and friends about it.

Communication Stream

It’s important to communicate with customers wherever they feel comfortable and wherever they are likely to be. 

Remember, CX is built on the somewhat fickle foundation of customer perception. What makes one person irate may not bother another, so it makes sense to cover all bases. Communication can make or break your CX. Lengthy delays, inefficient processes, or insufficient access to information will have your customers rolling their eyes in frustration. 

Customer experience is about strengthening relationships with customers and building bonds through the use of technology.

Chatbots

It used to be considered bad form to chat with a customer via text or any automated platform, but today it’s the norm. In fact, it’s expected. 

Streamline repetitive tasks by automating them. Our system allows you to create your own chatbot to automate conversations and implement quick replies. Your team can serve customers better and more efficiently if you make service easier and faster for them, without weighing them down with unnecessary and unproductive conversations.

Chatbots can reflect the personality of your brand, answer FAQs, and direct customers to where they need to be. Fast. A super-efficient addition to your customer service team, they don’t require sleep so they’re even more perfect for those after-hours shoppers. Your customers will benefit from swift response times for quick questions or enjoy assistance from stress-free and focused staff.

Team Collaboration

The problem of disjointed communication between internal and external teams ends here, as do many customer frustrations.

Remote employees, global time differences, and communication with external parties can get messy and negatively impact your SLAs. And really, your internal communication choices shouldn’t impact your customer’s experience, should they?

Mobile service cloud alleviates this problem by bringing all players together in one place, allowing conversations to be automatically assigned based on skills, or snoozing conversations as needed. It’s like putting everyone in the same room at the same time, relegating forgotten messages or misplaced communication to a thing of the past.

Customer Profile

Develop customer profiles based on data from your CRM or Customer Data Platform. The integration of systems enables you to provide customers with a quicker, more personal service experience.

Data can be displayed right next to the customer’s questions, so there’s no need to search across multiple systems. Improve customer profiles by including all available data and getting more insights about customer impact.

This key area grants your team the information they need to assist a customer, no matter what platform they come from. All data is immediately available to all employees no matter where they are, which, let’s face it, makes you look good!

Statistics

Customers are the lifeblood of a business. This is why corporations are concentrating on how to develop new business and, importantly, retain existing customers. However, if you don’t know where a problem lies, you won’t know how to fix it. 

Identifying and addressing customer issues can be prevented by using reporting tools that uncover metrics that directly impact your business. Other vital statistics such as ‘response time’ or ‘availability’ highlight how your team is coping with their responsibilities and where improvements can be made. The data in these reports is invaluable to improving customer experience and deep-diving into customer experience metrics.

As effective as your management team may be, they can’t be omnipresent. But having real-time access to your channels, your team, business partners, and any other stakeholders you care to track gives you information worth its weight in gold. 

Boost customer service today!

Businesses that adopt a customer experience strategy enjoy success in key areas: their churn rates are reduced, they increase brand loyalty, and revenues are increased. Surely those advantages are worth exploring?

Ultimately, good customer experiences are the most effective form of marketing with the highest ROI. Successful businesses are simply those with happy customers.

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

Oracle expands global cloud footprint to meet continued triple-digit growth

Oracle has announced plans to expand its cloud region footprint to support strong customer demand for Oracle Cloud services worldwide.

Over the next year, Oracle will open 14 cloud regions with new locations across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. Upcoming cloud regions include Milan (Italy), Stockholm (Sweden), Marseille (France), Spain, Singapore (Singapore), Johannesburg (South Africa), Jerusalem (Israel), Mexico, and Colombia.

 Additional second regions will open in Abu Dhabi (U.A.E.), Saudi Arabia, France, Israel, and Chile. Oracle plans to have at least 44 cloud regions by the end of 2022, continuing one of the fastest expansions of any major cloud provider.

Oracle provides a broad and consistent set of cloud services across 30 commercial and government cloud regions in 14 countries on five continents to serve its growing global customer base. OCI currently operates 23 commercial regions and seven government regions, in addition to multiple dedicated and national security regions.

“Oracle Cloud Infrastructure has seen stellar growth over the past year,” said Clay Magouyrk, executive vice president, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. “We’ve introduced several hundred new cloud services and features and are continuing to see organizations from around the world increasingly turn to OCI to run their most mission-critical workloads in the cloud. With the additional Cloud regions, even more organizations will be able to use our cloud services to support their growth and overall success.”

To help customers build true business continuity and disaster protection, while helping them address their in-country data residence requirements, Oracle plans to establish at least two cloud regions in almost every country where it operates. The U.S., Canada, U.K., South Korea, Japan, Brazil, India, and Australia already have two cloud regions.

Oracle’s strategy is to meet customers where they are, enabling customers to keep data and services where they need it. Customers can deploy Oracle Cloud completely within their own data centers with Dedicated Region and Exadata Cloud@Customer, deploy cloud services locally with public cloud-based management, or deploy cloud services remotely on the edge with Roving Edge Infrastructure.

High Availability, Disaster Protection, and Dual Region Cloud Strategy

OCI’s next-generation architecture provides a high-performing, resilient foundation for cloud services, while its physical and virtual network design maximizes performance and security. For example, each Oracle Cloud region contains at least three fault domains, which are groupings of hardware that form logical data centers for high availability and resilience to hardware and network failures. Some regions (Ashburn, Phoenix, Frankfurt, and London) provide further resilience to entire data centers through multiple availability domains (ADs), which each contain three fault domains.

For business continuity and compliance requirements, Oracle’s unique dual-region cloud strategy enables customers to deploy resilient applications in multiple geographically separated locations—without having sensitive data leave the country. To help customers plan data center deployments to meet application requirements and optimize their cloud infrastructure, OCI’s provides a no cost inter-region latency dashboard that provides insights into real-time and historical latency for Oracle Cloud regions around the globe.

Sustainability

Oracle is committed to sustainability and has pledged to power all Oracle Cloud regions worldwide with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Several Oracle Cloud regions, including regions in North America, South America, and Europe are already powered by 100 percent renewable energy, and all Oracle Cloud regions use state-of-the-art energy management and cooling technologies to minimize their impact on the environment.

As part of its renewable energy clean Cloud initiative, Oracle reused or recycled 99.6 percent of its retired hardware in FY21 while strictly adhering to Oracle’s data privacy and security practices.

Cloud Regions Deliver All Cloud Services and Multicloud

Oracle Cloud regions support every Oracle service and feature and are available to customers anywhere in the world. This includes Oracle Autonomous Database, Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes, Oracle Cloud VMware solution, and Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications.

OCI’s extensive network of more than 70 FastConnect global and regional partners offer customers dedicated connectivity to Oracle Cloud regions and OCI services—providing customers with the best options anywhere in the world. FastConnect provides an easy, elastic, and economical way to create a dedicated and private network connection with higher bandwidth, lower latency, and more consistent performance versus public Internet-based connections.

In addition, OCI and Microsoft Azure have a strategic partnership that enables joint customers to run workloads across the two clouds. This partnership provides a low latency, cross-cloud interconnect between OCI and Azure in eight regions (Ashburn, Toronto, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, San Jose, Vinhedo and Frankfurt), federated identity for joint customers to deploy applications across both clouds, and a collaborative support model. Customers can run full stack applications in a multi-cloud configuration, while maintaining high-performance connectivity without requiring re-architecture.

They can also migrate existing applications or develop cloud native applications that use a mix of OCI and Azure services.

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