[South Africa] Teraco endorses Routed move to join African Cloud Exchange

South Africa Vendor-neutral data centre, Teraco, has welcomed Routed, a cloud infrastructure provider and VMware Cloud Verified partner, as a local cloud provider to join the African Cloud Exchange (ACX).

Created to improve enterprise hybrid and multi-cloud performance through direct interconnection, Teraco’s African Cloud Exchange provides secure, direct, flexible network connections to a wide range of local and global cloud service providers.

As Africa’s first VMware Cloud Verified partner and one of the biggest, Routed now offers a VMWare cloud platform for clients seeking access to multiple cloud environments.  Routed has also recorded four years of 100% uptime and has achieved notable market share within the ISP sector.

Andrew Cruise, Managing Director, Routed, says that the company is also the only African provider of Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) within VMware’s vSphere 7 client software and that bringing the VMware cloud platform to ACX is another key milestone: “Multi-cloud strategies are growing in adoption as they mitigate service disruption and also reduce vendor lock-in. Routed, as a member of ACX, strengthens the ecosystem and will undoubtedly help in driving businesses to the cloud, which is one of the fastest-growing segments of IT spend.”

Andrew Owens, Manager of Interconnection & Peering at Teraco, says that the premise of ACX is to assist in the local drive towards the cloud, but in a secure and correct way: “While there was no time-pressure for businesses to adopt a cloud methodology, it is rapidly evolving, and the cloud is becoming a vital tool for any business wanting to succeed. ACX is a technology-neutral and growing ecosystem, and we are excited to welcome a local cloud provider such as Routed and its VMware platform.”

Teraco’s Owens says that ACX was developed to fully integrate with all cloud providers, adopting a modular, template-driven approach. “ACX will accommodate any cloud provider’s API: ultimately, we want to make it easy for the providers and clients to sell their products. By simply logging onto a portal, ACX enables provisioning of network circuits to any cloud provider, immediately reducing the administrative headaches of getting people connected.”

Dave Funnell, Senior Cloud Provider Manager, VMware Sub-Saharan Africa, says that in reality cloud is an operating model, not just a destination, and as such will often require a collaborative solution: “The inclusion of Routed in the Africa Cloud Exchange is a great example of collaboration in the cloud market. The benefit to customers is the availability of a fully verified VMware Private Cloud, delivered from a secure multi-tenanted platform with all the benefits expected from a cloud solution. Its location is also a major drawcard, with direct network connectivity to the public hyperscale clouds in the leading data centre provider in Africa.”

Funnell says that importantly, this will allow customers to accelerate the adoption of cloud services in the knowledge that their applications will run predictably in a robust, highly available environment, with the flexibility required for a successful business to adapt and grow: “Working with both Routed and Teraco on this initiative has been a rewarding experience. I look forward to engaging with VMware customers of all sizes, as they take advantage of the enterprise-grade cloud services being brought to market by Routed and Teraco.”

www.teraco.co.za

www.routed.co.za

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

Africa debate whether to remain on-premise or move to the cloud

Security, risk, data loss, and legislation. These are the primary concerns listed by organizations and government institutions when asked why they are reluctant to move to the cloud.

 It is the perennial debate – will cloud put the data at risk? Isn’t on-premise more secure? How can the organization ensure it is compliant in light of growing regulatory control over how data is accessed, protected and used?

For many, the answer lies in the tried and trusted foundations of on-premise solutions that have weathered the storms so far. The problem is that this isn’t necessarily the right answer…

Some organizations remain convinced that on-premise is more reliable than the cloud. In Kenya, government guidelines recently approved by President Uhuru Kenyatta – safeguards that are considered to be on a par with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – have put immense pressure on organizations when it comes to data handling and sharing.

When a company faces either a prison sentence or a hefty fine for violating the act, it makes sense for them to panic about security and be more prudent about with which provider to share their personal information with.

This trend is reflected in Nigeria, Ghana and Rwanda where legislation is influencing decision making when it comes to the cloud. In Nigeria, government industries have been advised to stay with their on-premise platforms. Rwanda has clamped down on its personal data protection with regulations around consent from individuals.

South Africa is still toying with its Protection of Personal Information Act, but this is very likely to be signed into law fairly soon. These regulations are all essential in a time when data privacy and security are under scrutiny and the cyber-threat has never been more present. And it makes sense that companies are forming a protective circle around their information and question where and how a provider stores their data before investing into the cloud.

Due to the far-reaching hands of governments, data sovereignty is a primary concern of institutions moving to the cloud. Data sovereignty refers to the fact that information which is stored in the cloud is subject to the laws of the country in which it is physically stored. For some organisations this concern may be warranted, such as highly regulated government organisations storing highly confidential information.

However, even highly regulated organisations are taking advantage of what the cloud has to offer by taking a hybrid approach.

For more sensitive confidential information, the data is stored on-premise, and other processes that are less sensitive, are outsourced to third party cloud providers. This is a reasonable approach. However, most companies don’t have the skilled manpower or budget to build a secure hybrid approach, or even an on-premise solution, which is why not moving to the cloud becomes a business risk.

At the same time the truth is that while many organisations cling to on-premise as the solution, it can be the most dangerous of the two.

Using or not using a cloud provider has no bearing on complying with privacy regulations, as long as adequate safeguards around personal information can be guaranteed. Privacy regulations stipulate organisations take into account the state of the art and industry prior to implementing new solutions. When looking into the information technology landscape today, we can see the moving to the cloud is the most secure, scalable, and reliable way to protect data.

“Professional cloud infrastructures are usually safer and more reliable than many on-premise platforms,” explains Anna Collard at KnowBe4. “One of the most common reasons for this is the lack of security resources organisation can employ. Security skills are hard to come by even globally, and in Africa we only have about 10 000 security professionals across the entire continent. Large companies such as Oracle have employed a security team that is bigger than all the African security professionals together.”

Cloud service providers are in the business of looking after their infrastructure and their client’s data, providing a level of assurance via ISO 27000, PCI DSS, Cloud Security Alliance and other security certifications.  Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS) list of security certs is mind bogglingly long –a feat that is difficult to accomplish unless security or IT infrastructure management is your core business.

Another issue is that people often ask if the security on offer by the cloud service provider is the absolute best on the market. The real question should be whether the security is appropriate for the level of data and services being provided and where the data centre is located to ensure adequate data protection alignment.

“Cloud service providers consider all the angles from auditing to phishing to updates to patches and intrusion detection,” concludes Collard. “Their solutions are designed to not just meet industry standards, but to exceed them. This is not only to ensure the safety and security of the customer, but because their own reputation is on the line if they don’t deliver.”

According to ESG research in January 2020 67% of enterprises use public cloud infrastructure services to support their IT operations. That number is most likely going to increase even more so over the next few months with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing many organisations to set up work from home.

 There is no guaranteed road to risk-free business. Cybercrime is on the rise and it is exceptional sophisticated, leveraging human error and system vulnerability to gain access to systems and damage reputations. Ultimately the cloud is just a third-party provider, the responsibility over the data remains with the data owner, which is the business or organisation processing the data.

Performing a third-party risk assessment and reviewing the cloud provider’s security certifications should be standard practice to ensure adequate security will be applied, regardless of where the data is stored and should help greatly in the decision-making process.

While it’s perfectly understandable for the business to hold onto what it knows – the on-prem solution – cloud has become a powerful and reliable ally that can not only surpass most on-prem solutions, but can do so at a lower cost and with better security.

www.knowbe4.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

Apple introduces services to more countries across the world

Apple® has announced that more customers around the world can enjoy many of Apple’s most popular Services.

The App Store®, Apple Arcade™, Apple Music®, Apple Podcasts® and iCloud® are now available in 20 more countries, and Apple Music is available in 52 additional countries.

“We’re delighted to bring many of Apple’s most beloved Services to users in more countries than ever before,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and International Content. “We hope our customers can discover their new favorite apps, games, music and podcasts as we continue to celebrate the world’s best creators, artists and developers.”

The App Store, Apple Arcade, Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and iCloud are now available in the following countries and regions:

  • Africa: Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Libya, Morocco, Rwanda and Zambia.
  • Asia-Pacific: Maldives and Myanmar.
  • Europe: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.
  • Middle East: Afghanistan (excluding Apple Music) and Iraq.
  • Oceania: Nauru (excluding Apple Music), Tonga and Vanuatu.

Apple Music is also expanding to the following countries and regions:

  • Africa: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Chad, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Tunisia.
  • Asia-Pacific: Bhutan.
  • Europe: Croatia, Iceland and North Macedonia.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: the Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Turks and Caicos and Uruguay.
  • Middle East: Kuwait, Qatar and Yemen.
  • Oceania: Solomon Islands.

The App Store, now in 175 countries and regions, is the world’s safest and most vibrant app marketplace, with over half a billion people visiting each week. It is the best place for users to discover new apps and allows developers of all sizes to distribute their apps to customers around the world. The App Store features many ways for developers to build their businesses, and since it launched in 2008, developers have been creating innovative apps that influence culture and change lives.

Apple Arcade is a groundbreaking game subscription service within the App Store, offering users unlimited access to the entire catalog of more than 100 exclusive games, all playable across iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch®, Mac® and Apple TV®. Apple Arcade is adding new games and expansions every month from some of the world’s most visionary game developers.

Apple Music is the most complete music experience, now available in 167 countries and regions and offering more than 60 million songs.  With world-class music experts and tastemakers curating thousands of playlists and daily selections, and the renowned global radio station Beats 1, Apple Music is the best music service for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch®, Apple TV, Mac, HomePod® and CarPlay®, and is also available on Android and and other devices.

New Apple Music subscribers in the 52 additional countries can enjoy a six-month free trial of the service, with locally curated playlists including Africa Now, Afrobeats Hits, Ghana Bounce and more. In addition, users have access to world-class music experts, tastemakers, and artist-led programs from globally celebrated creators including Virgil Abloh, Billie Eilish, Elton John, Pharrell, and more.

Apple Podcasts is the best place to browse and listen to the world’s largest catalog of podcasts, now featuring over 1 million shows in more than 100 languages and 175 countries and regions.

iCloud is an essential service that keeps users’ personal content safe, up to date, and available across all their Apple devices, allowing them to store a lifetime of photos, keep important documents at their fingertips, and share and collaborate with ease. iCloud backs up iPhone, iPad and iPod touch automatically and includes Find My to help locate and secure missing devices. With Family Sharing, up to six family members can share access to Apple Services, including Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple Music, iCloud storage, as well as individual music, movie, TV, book and app purchases. Available in 175 countries and regions, iCloud comes with 5GB of free storage and offers affordable 50GB, 200GB and 2TB plans.

Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s five software platforms — iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.

www.apple.com

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Zenoss launches EMEA cloud zone

Zenoss Inc., the leader in intelligent application and service monitoring, announced it has launched a Zenoss Cloud zone for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

This means all U.S.-based Zenoss Cloud services are now available to the EMEA region from a dedicated instance in Frankfurt, Germany. The Frankfurt site was selected because it offers the highest standards of data protection, complying with the German Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (BDSG), a federal data protection act.

Zenoss Cloud is the first SaaS-based intelligent IT monitoring platform that streams and normalizes all machine data, uniquely enabling the emergence of context for preventing service disruptions in complex, modern IT environments. Zenoss Cloud leverages the most powerful machine learning and real-time analytics of streaming data to deliver full-stack monitoring combined with AIOps, giving companies the ability to scale and adapt to the changing needs of their businesses.

“Zenoss Cloud has taken off domestically, and we’ve been experiencing increased demand for separate instances in other regions,” said Greg Stock, chairman and CEO of Zenoss. “We’re dedicated to serving our customers around the world, and this new zone will provide full-stack monitoring and AIOPs with the highest levels of data protection.”

With the demand for full-stack monitoring and AIOps sharply increasing globally, Zenoss is building out zones in other regions. The Zenoss Cloud EMEA zone is available now and already has customers and partners leveraging the regional instance.

www.zenoss.com

[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

[Column] Kabelo Makwane: Agriculture and its future on Mars

Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing services, from applications to storage and processing power, which is typically on a pay as you go basis over the internet.

One benefit of using cloud computing services is avoiding the upfront cost and complexity of owning and maintaining your own IT infrastructure, and instead simply paying for what you use as and when you use it. 

When thinking about the agricultural industry, there are practical applications for the use of cloud computing that create a whole ecosystem, from sensors and monitoring tools that collect soil data to agricultural field images and observations from human actors on the ground accurately feeding data repositories along with their GPS coordinates.

Agribusiness needs more effective tools to engage with the smallholder farmer. At the same time, the smallholder farmer needs to be empowered with information, access to markets and financial services. To achieve this, mobile phone technology from Vodacom Business can play a game-changing role.

The Vodacom Business technology the Connected Farmer service gives a readily available message functionality allowing for real-time communication with other farmers on the database, transactional capabilities which support electronic vouchers and a companion application called AgriSuite Plus that provides content of practical agricultural value to field workers.

This content includes topics such as crop and livestock production management, crop descriptions, production programs, soil preparation and pest and disease identification (farmers using smartphones are able to download the AgriSuite Plus app.

Vodacom Connected Farmer is a cloud-based web and mobile software solution that links enterprises to smallholder farmers through the transfer of industry-related information, which equips the farmer to make better decisions about crop rotation and improve efficiencies in order to deliver better produce and consistently improve yields 

Farmers can also take advantage of knowledge-based repositories that contain information related to farming practices, agriculture innovations, pesticides, seeds, fertilizers, nutrients and equipment.

However, with the onset of technology, there is the valid fear and resistance that comes with it, especially considering the fact that the agriculture industry is driven by smallholder farmers, who more often than not do not have access to technology. 

Kabelo asserts that Vodacom Business is aware of the fact that rural areas of South Africa are under-serviced with regard to connectivity. This has presented real challenges to not only the farming community, but to their customers, service suppliers and rural communities in general.

Smallholder farmers need to be empowered with information, access to markets and financial services. To achieve this, mobile phone technology from Vodacom Business can play a game-changing role. Vodacom Connected Farmer is a phone enabled enterprise solution. 

Once smallholder farmers are registered mobile enterprise users, such as agronomists, and field officers then profile these farmers and their farms and verify their identity during field visits, using Vodacom Connected Farmer on their mobile devices. The enterprise is now able to communicate with its smallholder farmer base via their mobile phones, whether individually, as a group or across the entire smallholder farming community.

Vodacom is also alive to the risks that come with the internet like breach of privacy. That is why in the Vodacom Business Connected Farmer program, there are a number of security measures which ensure that personal or financial information is protected. There is a secure, role-based authentication and authorisation that allows users to only access to those system functionalities that are relevant to them. Connected farmers also use secure cashless value and transactions through electronic vouchers. 

Potential challenges

While these resources can be used in developed countries with ubiquitous Internet access, this is not as easy to accomplish in developing economies where there may be challenges with internet access, bandwidth and power. However, even in these circumstances, we are seeing technology made available on mobile phones, providing a wealth of services to farmers powered at times by renewable sources of energy and enabled by mobile devices

Three main challenges in Africa include performance, costs and availability. 

Performance: Whether locally- or internationally-hosted, it can be a challenge to deliver reliable Cloud services to certain regions – particularly in smaller towns and rural or remote areas.

Costs: Uncontended, enterprise-grade networks can be extremely expensive, often making it challenging for the cloud business case to be compelling to both small and large enterprise

Availability: For many businesses in outlying areas, the availability of internet connection, in general, is a huge problem. South Africa still has vast patches that are underserved or entirely unserved. Certain agricultural sites for example, experience problems with basic telephonic and crude internet connections – which makes high-powered Cloud services seem like an impossibility. 

Effective adoption and implementation of this technology will encourage other sectors also, which will lead to optimal  benefit of shifting towards cloud. This will definitely have a positive impact in the overall economic development of a nation. Above all, cloud computing is a newly introduced concept and most of the developing nations are not readily willing to accept and implement it. Therefore, it needs a mass awareness and promotion among the prime stakeholders to acquire the full potential of it and have a well established information base for the nation. This will in return lead to a well-connected world.

Kabelo Makwane is the Managing Executive for Cloud, Hosting & Security at Vodacom Business