[Column] Gomedi Makhongoana: How cloud can help educational institutions

With the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, paired with worrying skills shortages, the pressure is on universities and other tertiary education institutions in South Africa to admit more students.

The key to expanding access is affordable education – as highlighted by the #FeesMustFall movement – but how are institutions supposed to meet this crucial socio-economic need while managing their ever-mounting expenditure, and swelling student numbers?

The adoption of next-generation cloud technology is proving to be an effective cost-cutting strategy for all sectors, and it has a special value for educational institutions in helping to keep tuition costs down.

To clarify, the vast majority of higher learning institutions recognize the need for digital migration as a contemporary operational essential but find themselves sinking a substantial amount of resources into preserving repository legacy systems.

This is because these databases are the only repositories for hard-to-move student data, in line with data retention compliance requirements.

Making things even more challenging is the necessity to do more with less in an environment of uncertainty in otherwise a depressed market, where the government is considering how to realize a promise of free education, and equally collection of fees is not meeting revenue needs.

Next-generation cloud

As much as it may seem beyond universities’ reach, a shift to the cloud will help to alleviate this burden. With Oracle’s new Generation 2 Cloud, it is possible to reach a customer’s desired outcome, and have systems up and running in just three to four months.

Previously, that journey – which requires an understanding of an institution’s priorities, legacy system investment, etc., would take 12 to 18 months. Universities can return quickly to service delivery, and be in an overall better position to market themselves as progressive and competitive education providers in South Africa and the world.

Another advantage of next-generation cloud is that it is truly scalable and elastic, adjusting immediately to accommodate fluctuating workload requirements, and optimizing spend, as customers, only pay for resources used.

This is especially beneficial for educational institutions, which have “seasonal” needs, different over semesters and holiday periods.

At the same time, with greater elasticity and liberation from on-premise requirements, the cloud enables tertiary institutions to meet the educational needs of more students, without the need for more teaching resources. Cloud effortlessly provides e-learning to physically remote, and infrastructure deprived, learners who now simply require an internet connection to access digital class materials and other resources.

Universities are not IT businesses, of course, and precious staff resources should be focused on the high-value task of advancing the university, and its attractiveness, instead of mundane tasks centered around technology. With embedded AI and machine learning capabilities, Gen 2 cloud provides this benefit.

Cloud computing solutions

For example, the University of Adelaide now uses two chatbots – underpinned by cloud computing power – to streamline application queries for thousands of Australian and international students.

Instead of jamming university call centre lines during business hours, and waiting for hours in a queue, students can determine their eligibility 24/7 via a three-minute interaction with a Facebook chatbot and Oracle Digital Assistant, respectively. Those students who do seek out human interaction enjoy longer periods of focused attention.

Closer to home, Stellenbosch University is overhauling its outdated academic and financial systems, adopting new cloud-based solutions that support scalable, reliable and integrated information ecosystems. Students will enjoy greater self-service options when managing their academic curricula.

Meanwhile, university staff can achieve greater efficiency by using functions more closely aligned with contemporary, individual ways of working, combined with access to real-time, multi-dimensional analytics and reporting.

As with every organization, for an educational institution to thrive and grow, employees must be equipped to focus on their areas of expertise and work more efficiently. They should not lose chunks of their workday to mundane tasks, such as security updates in the case of IT staff.

Yet, with the average cost of a data breach in South Africa nearly R50 million, according to the Ponemon Institute, such functions cannot be a shortcut – especially at financially vulnerable universities. Higher education providers are a growing target for cybercriminals, attracted by the comparative ease of accessing the disparate, older systems of these organizations.

In addition to encrypting all data by default, next-generation cloud mitigates this costly concern, thanks to embedded AI and machine learning capabilities. Autonomous cloud essentially runs itself, self-updating, self-securing and removing the ability for human error and system vulnerabilities to be exploited.

It also learns the behaviour of all users so that it can easily recognize and act on anomalies, such as the same user logging in from two places minutes apart.

One final point to make is that the cloud not only helps universities optimize their spend but also fulfils their mandate of producing work-ready young professionals for the Digital Age.

Just launched worldwide, Oracle Cloud Free Tier is a set of always free, non-contractual cloud services including Autonomous Database, which allows students, educators, IT professionals and others to access the same full functionality as Oracle paid services with no time limit.

Potential customers are encouraged to play with the technology, exploring how it can bolster their organization’s performance, while students get hands-experience with contemporary business essentials.

It is true that entering the cloud world comes with substantial cost outlay. However, the journey is a partnership the whole way, and in addition to immediate performance benefits, customers see continually increased savings as they progress.

Further providing a level of cost containment are simplified and flexible purchasing and consumption models, such as the ability to migrate your on-premise license with you to the cloud. There are multiple ways to maximize the value organizations receive from the cloud, and for future-minded educational institutions, the time to embrace the shift is now.

Gomedi Makhongoana is Technology Public Sector Director at Oracle South Africa

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[Column] Gomedi Makhongoana: How cloud can help educational institutions

With the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, paired with worrying skills shortages, the pressure is on universities and other tertiary education institutions in South Africa to admit more students.

The key to expanding access is affordable education – as highlighted by the #FeesMustFall movement – but how are institutions supposed to meet this crucial socio-economic need while managing their ever-mounting expenditure, and swelling student numbers?

The adoption of next-generation cloud technology is proving to be an effective cost-cutting strategy for all sectors, and it has a special value for educational institutions in helping to keep tuition costs down.

To clarify, the vast majority of higher learning institutions recognize the need for digital migration as a contemporary operational essential but find themselves sinking a substantial amount of resources into preserving repository legacy systems.

This is because these databases are the only repositories for hard-to-move student data, in line with data retention compliance requirements.

Making things even more challenging is the necessity to do more with less in an environment of uncertainty in otherwise a depressed market, where the government is considering how to realize a promise of free education, and equally collection of fees is not meeting revenue needs.

Next-generation cloud

As much as it may seem beyond universities’ reach, a shift to the cloud will help to alleviate this burden. With Oracle’s new Generation 2 Cloud, it is possible to reach a customer’s desired outcome, and have systems up and running in just three to four months.

Previously, that journey – which requires an understanding of an institution’s priorities, legacy system investment, etc., would take 12 to 18 months. Universities can return quickly to service delivery, and be in an overall better position to market themselves as progressive and competitive education providers in South Africa and the world.

Another advantage of next-generation cloud is that it is truly scalable and elastic, adjusting immediately to accommodate fluctuating workload requirements, and optimizing spend, as customers, only pay for resources used.

This is especially beneficial for educational institutions, which have “seasonal” needs, different over semesters and holiday periods.

At the same time, with greater elasticity and liberation from on-premise requirements, the cloud enables tertiary institutions to meet the educational needs of more students, without the need for more teaching resources. Cloud effortlessly provides e-learning to physically remote, and infrastructure deprived, learners who now simply require an internet connection to access digital class materials and other resources.

Universities are not IT businesses, of course, and precious staff resources should be focused on the high-value task of advancing the university, and its attractiveness, instead of mundane tasks centered around technology. With embedded AI and machine learning capabilities, Gen 2 cloud provides this benefit.

Cloud computing solutions

For example, the University of Adelaide now uses two chatbots – underpinned by cloud computing power – to streamline application queries for thousands of Australian and international students.

Instead of jamming university call centre lines during business hours, and waiting for hours in a queue, students can determine their eligibility 24/7 via a three-minute interaction with a Facebook chatbot and Oracle Digital Assistant, respectively. Those students who do seek out human interaction enjoy longer periods of focused attention.

Closer to home, Stellenbosch University is overhauling its outdated academic and financial systems, adopting new cloud-based solutions that support scalable, reliable and integrated information ecosystems. Students will enjoy greater self-service options when managing their academic curricula.

Meanwhile, university staff can achieve greater efficiency by using functions more closely aligned with contemporary, individual ways of working, combined with access to real-time, multi-dimensional analytics and reporting.

As with every organization, for an educational institution to thrive and grow, employees must be equipped to focus on their areas of expertise and work more efficiently. They should not lose chunks of their workday to mundane tasks, such as security updates in the case of IT staff.

Yet, with the average cost of a data breach in South Africa nearly R50 million, according to the Ponemon Institute, such functions cannot be a shortcut – especially at financially vulnerable universities. Higher education providers are a growing target for cybercriminals, attracted by the comparative ease of accessing the disparate, older systems of these organizations.

In addition to encrypting all data by default, next-generation cloud mitigates this costly concern, thanks to embedded AI and machine learning capabilities. Autonomous cloud essentially runs itself, self-updating, self-securing and removing the ability for human error and system vulnerabilities to be exploited.

It also learns the behaviour of all users so that it can easily recognize and act on anomalies, such as the same user logging in from two places minutes apart.

One final point to make is that the cloud not only helps universities optimize their spend but also fulfils their mandate of producing work-ready young professionals for the Digital Age.

Just launched worldwide, Oracle Cloud Free Tier is a set of always free, non-contractual cloud services including Autonomous Database, which allows students, educators, IT professionals and others to access the same full functionality as Oracle paid services with no time limit.

Potential customers are encouraged to play with the technology, exploring how it can bolster their organization’s performance, while students get hands-experience with contemporary business essentials.

It is true that entering the cloud world comes with substantial cost outlay. However, the journey is a partnership the whole way, and in addition to immediate performance benefits, customers see continually increased savings as they progress.

Further providing a level of cost containment are simplified and flexible purchasing and consumption models, such as the ability to migrate your on-premise license with you to the cloud. There are multiple ways to maximize the value organizations receive from the cloud, and for future-minded educational institutions, the time to embrace the shift is now.

Gomedi Makhongoana is Technology Public Sector Director at Oracle South Africa

Hybrid cloud future bright with businesses picking it as their ideal IT operating model, report

Nutanix, Inc. a player in enterprise cloud computing, has announced the findings of its second global Enterprise Cloud Index survey and research report, which measures enterprise progress with adopting private, hybrid and public clouds.

The new report found enterprises plan to aggressively shift investment to hybrid cloud architectures, with respondents reporting steady and substantial hybrid deployment plans over the next five years. The vast majority of 2019 survey respondents (85 per cent) selected hybrid cloud as their ideal IT operating model.

For the second consecutive year, Vanson Bourne conducted research on behalf of Nutanix to learn about the state of global enterprise cloud deployments and adoption plans.

The researcher surveyed 2,650 IT decision-makers in 24 countries around the world about where they’re running their business applications today, where they plan to run them in the future, what their cloud challenges are, and how their cloud initiatives stack up against other IT projects and priorities.

 The 2019 respondent base spanned multiple industries, business sizes, and the following geographies: the Americas; Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); and the Asia-Pacific (APJ) region.

This year’s report illustrated that creating and executing a cloud strategy has become a multidimensional challenge. At one time, a primary value proposition associated with the public cloud was substantial upfront capex savings.

Now, enterprises have discovered that there are other considerations when selecting the best cloud for the business as well, and that one size cloud strategy doesn’t fit all use cases. For example, while applications with unpredictable usage may be best suited to the public clouds offering elastic IT resources, workloads with more predictable characteristics can often run on-premises at a lower cost than public cloud.

Savings are also dependent on businesses’ ability to match each application to the appropriate cloud service and pricing tier, and to remain diligent about regularly reviewing service plans and fees, which change frequently.

In this ever-changing environment, flexibility is essential, and a hybrid cloud provides this choice. Other key findings from the report include:

Apps are migrating away from the public cloud back to on-premises infrastructures. Nearly three-fourths (73 per cent) of respondents reported that they are moving some applications off the public cloud and back on prem, and 22 per cent of those users are moving five or more applications.

 These moves underscore, in part, enterprises’ need for hybrid cloud’s flexibility in allowing them to adapt their infrastructures based on their fluctuating requirements. App mobility is critical, and more than nine in ten (95 per cent) respondents reported that it is essential or desirable to be able to easily move applications between cloud environments.

Security remains the biggest factor impacting enterprises’ future cloud strategies. Well over half of 2019 respondents (60 per cent) said that the state of security among clouds would have the biggest influence on their cloud deployment plans going forward.

Similarly, data security and compliance represented the top variable (26 per cent) in determining where an enterprise runs a given workload.

IT professionals deem the hybrid cloud the most secure of all the IT operating models. More than a quarter of respondents (28 per cent) picked the hybrid model as the most secure — substantially surpassing those who chose a fully private cloud/on-prem model (21 per cent) and more than twice as many as those who chose traditional (non-cloud-enabled) private data centers (13 per cent). One reason for this is perhaps because enterprises can select the right cloud for their security requirements.

Nearly a quarter (23.5 per cent) of respondents currently aren’t leveraging any cloud technology today.

 Many companies still fall behind when it comes to enterprise cloud adoption. However, respondents’ reported plans indicate that in one year’s time, the number of enterprises with no cloud deployments will plummet to 6.5 per cent and in two years’ time will drop by more than half to 3 per cent. Regionally, the Americas reported a slightly lower incidence of non-cloud use (21 per cent) compared to EMEA (25 per cent) and APJ (24 per cent).

Enterprises are striving to integrate cloud computing with their digital transformation goals. Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of 2019 respondents said digital transformation was driving their cloud implementations, and 64 per cent said that digital transformation was the top business priority in their organizations.

“As organizations continue to grapple with complex digital transformation initiatives, flexibility and security are critical components to enable seamless and reliable cloud adoption,” said Wendy M. Pfeiffer, CIO of Nutanix. “The enterprise has progressed in its understanding and adoption of hybrid cloud, but there is still work to do when it comes to reaping all of its benefits. In the next few years, we’ll see businesses rethinking how to best utilize hybrid cloud, including hiring for hybrid computing skills and reskilling IT teams to keep up with emerging technologies.”

“Cloud computing has become an integral part of business strategy, but it has introduced several challenges along with it,” said Ashish Nadkarni, group vice president of infrastructure systems, platforms and technologies at IDC. “These include security and application performance concerns and high cost. As the 2019 Enterprise Cloud Index report demonstrates, hybrid cloud will continue to be the best option for enterprises, enabling them to securely meet modernization and agility requirements for workloads.”

www.nutanix.com

[South Africa] Teraco welcomes VMware cloud

Teraco has announced that VMware Cloud is now available via VMWare Cloud Verified service providers in the Cape Town (CT1) and Johannesburg (JB1) data centre facilities. VMware Cloud provides the fastest and easiest way to migrate existing enterprise application workloads to the cloud. When you see the VMware Cloud Verified logo, you’ll know you can easily access the full set of capabilities of VMware’s Cloud Infrastructure.

Jan Hnizdo, CEO, Teraco, says that this collaboration will further expand business opportunities for clients already present within Teraco’s data centre facilities as they adopt a cloud-first approach for their existing and next-generation applications.

“With VMware Cloud now available within Teraco, enterprises can take advantage of private and secure multi-cloud connectivity, and quickly deploy hybrid cloud infrastructures. The premise of Teraco’s vendor neutral data centre offering is to serve local and global markets at the digital edge and through channels critical to the connected world we live in. VMware, as one of the world’s leading cloud providers, assists us in making our offering richer.”

Hnizdo says that through the Teraco cloud services ecosystem, the addition of VMware Cloud will further enhance the ability of service providers to deliver more innovative cloud strategies, ultimately delivering better business value and experience to clients. 

“The choice of Teraco’s digital infrastructure platform is critical for the enterprise when transforming and embracing digitalisation. It must enable scale, performance and security and assist in building digital architecture that provides resilient data centre services,” explains Hnizdo.

Together with Teraco, VMware’s expanded portfolio will enable service providers to deliver new cloud services for differentiation and, in turn, potential revenue growth, and create clouds that are developer ready and support modern applications.

Dave Funnell, Senior Manager Cloud Business at VMware, sub-Saharan Africa, says that VMWare is now being viewed as the ‘Switzerland of Cloud’ as it partners with the six major hyper-scalers as well as over 4,000 local cloud providers: “VMware’s goal is to continue being a strategic partner to our clients as they transform their business via accelerated application delivery. It encompasses providing the fastest and easiest way to migrate to the cloud, along with a platform for the management of the hybrid-multi cloud world that provides for both existing application environments, built on virtual machines, as well as the next generation built on containers. We provide freedom and choice to our clients as they adopt cloud, with the VMware Cloud Verified status providing confidence in the cloud provider they engage with.”

VMware Cloud within Teraco’s vendor neutral data centre facilities further supports the ambition to reach and assist the enterprise sector in developing and implementing successful cloud strategies: “We are excited to form part of the Teraco cloud ecosystem as we assist our clients in implementing their cloud journey” says Funnell.

www.teraco.co.za

CMC Networks and Neutrona Networks to provide cloud network services in Africa, Middle East and Latin America

Two of the most innovative carriers in the Southern Hemisphere, CMC Networks and Neutrona Networks, have reached an exclusive agreement to bring the benefits of additional scale and capabilities for customers doing business in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

“CMC and Neutrona have very similar operating models, offering world class solutions in historically difficult territories,” says Marisa Trisolino, CEO of CMC Networks. “This partnership reinforces CMC’s commitment to provide a one-stop approach servicing our customers’ needs on a global scale, while offering ‘second to none’ solutions that embrace next generation technology.”

“I’m excited by the opportunity to increase our ability to serve the world’s fastest growing digital marketplaces with the latest in ‘smart’ technologies designed to expand seamless connectivity for our global customers in these regions,” says Luciano Salata, president and co-founder of Neutrona Networks. “We have always viewed Neutrona as a ‘bridge’ into the Americas, and now that bridge just got a lot longer.”

Under the agreement, CMC will extend its footprint by adding more than 30 points of presence (PoPs) in Latin America. In return, Neutrona expands its reach with access to more than 100 PoPs throughout Africa and the Middle East. With the support of established “network to network interconnections” (NNIs) in Brazil and USA, both companies offer lower latency by providing a direct alternative to existing North American routes.

 They will also take advantage of cable systems that directly connect the Americas with Africa.

Each carrier’s respective SDN platforms, CMC’s C-RAN and Neutrona’s SHIFT, use complementary technologies enhanced by artificial intelligence to ensure applications are routed to meet required Service Level Agreements efficiently and without jitter, latency, and packet loss.

 The combined networks also allow real-time provisioning and activation for a seamless customer experience across three continents.

The new agreement promises to offer the world’s first intercontinental network connection across the Southern Hemisphere with the ability to scale to over 140 points of presence in 80 countries. It also brings together two companies who share similar philosophies.

“The ethos of both CMC and Neutrona is built around customer experience, digital transformation and innovation,” says Trisolino. “Each company is a regional leader in providing SD-WAN and access to Cloud services, so we are in an excellent position to drive collaboration and innovation in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.”

www.cmcnetworks.net

www.neutrona.com

Kaspersky named as Strong Performer in evaluation of cloud security solutions

Kaspersky has been named as a Strong Performer in The Forrester Wave™: Cloud Workload Security (CWS), Q4 2019. The company’s solution, Kaspersky Hybrid Cloud Security, received the status after achieving the highest scores possible in 13 criteria, including hypervisor protection, the scalability of hypervisor protection and the strategy around hypervisor protection.

The Forrester Wave is a guide for businesses that are considering their purchase options in a technology marketplace. By evaluating vendors and their products against a clear set of criteria, Forrester objectively ranks technology solutions to demonstrate the performance of their offering, strategy and market presence. Prospective customers can then compare different vendors independently, across a variety of metrics.

According to the Forrester report, ‘Kaspersky offers a versatile and technologically competent CWS solution. The solution provides comprehensive user management capabilities, has strong guest OS level support and has an effective remediation policy set against hardening standards’. The report also noted that the solution provides ‘one of the strongest memory protection and file integrity monitoring capabilities across vendors in this Wave’.

 “We are delighted to be named as a Strong Performer in the Forrester Wave CWS evaluation. Receiving this recognition validates that our efforts are going in the right direction. Forrester Wave also recognised Kaspersky’s plans to develop API control for IaaS and PaaS with the highest possible score, which aligns with our priority to continue product development to meet the needs of our customers and partners. For instance, in the next product update, we plan to expand protection functions for Linux, as well as bring more management capabilities for data centers and managed service providers,” comments Sergey Martsynkyan, Head of B2B Product Marketing, Kaspersky.

Kaspersky Hybrid Cloud Security was launched in 2018 to provide customers with a combination of protection technologies and visibility for virtualization, private and public cloud environments. The solution offers multiple layers of protection including behaviour detection, exploit prevention and anti-ransomware, as well as various security controls – to ensure safety of data and workloads in the cloud. No less important is the seamless orchestration through the single console, to manage security of the entire cloud environment.

www.kaspersky.co.za

Retailers look to hybrid cloud as they search for flexibility

Nutanix, a provider of enterprise cloud computing, has announced the retail industry findings of its second Enterprise Cloud Index Report, measuring retailers’ plans for adopting private, hybrid and public clouds.

The report found the vast majority of retailers, 88 per cent, identified hybrid cloud as the ideal IT operating model. It also showed many retailers, at 72 percent, are planning to move some public cloud applications back on-premises.

Retailers recognize that seamless customer experience is no longer a “nice-to-have” — it’s a critical factor in winning new customers and retaining existing ones — and flexible cloud infrastructure is critical to delivering it.

A recent IDC report noted worldwide spending on customer experience technologies will reach $641 billion in 2022, demonstrating it’s at the forefront of business leaders’ strategy. In line with broader IT industry trends, many retailers also recognize the full, long-term costs of the public cloud.

Additional findings of this year’s report include:

Retailers focus most on agility

Unlike in the broader IT industry, where cost is the top driver, retailers ranked the ability to accelerate IT deployments as the top factor in deciding the best cloud environment for each application. In order to adapt quickly to customer trends in an age of multichannel selling across many platforms, retailers are leading the pack in maximizing the flexibility of IT infrastructure to keep pace.

Security is top of mind

Data showed that security heavily shapes retail cloud deployment plans. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said security has significant influence on their future cloud deployments, with hybrid cloud specifically identified as the most secure.

As data privacy regulations continue to tighten and expand, retailers are at the forefront of looking for ways to efficiently manage customer data securely. Hybrid cloud operating models offer the security and flexibility retailers need to stay ahead of policy changes.

Retail leads in digital apps and IoT cloud deployments

Always innovating to keep pace with customers’ demands, retailers outpace averages in using the public cloud to run digital applications and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. They also run their business applications more often in the public cloud than other industries, with about 11 per cent current penetration of multiple public clouds and about 19 per cent penetration of a single public cloud.

“Staying relevant to today’s customers means having the necessary cloud infrastructure in place to embrace omnichannel retail experiences,” said Greg Smith, VP of Product Marketing, Nutanix. “Retailers use data to connect the e-commerce and in-store shopping experiences, and the only way they can do this accurately and efficiently is through flexible, scalable technology. The rise of selling on social media platforms also means integrating payment into the user experience, bringing security and protection of customers’ data to the forefront of retailers’ minds. Hybrid cloud provides the portability and control needed to bring retailers into the new era of customer experience.”

The 2019 respondent base spanned multiple industries, business sizes, and the following geographies: the Americas; Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); and the Asia-Pacific (APJ) region.

www.nutanix.com

Netskope extends its NewEdge infrastructure in South Africa

Netskope, a player in cloud security, has announced the opening of a dedicated data centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The new point of presence (PoP) is part of the company’s ongoing strategy to ensure its real time security solutions for cloud and web are delivered universally and consistently around the globe.

Netskope’s South African PoP further extends the company’s NewEdge infrastructure. NewEdge is the global security network that enables Netskope’s security cloud to deliver real-time, cloud-native security without the traditional performance vs security trade-off. It is one of the world’s largest and fastest security networks, ensuring that security is always on, always present, and never a roadblock.

This announcement signals significant growth for the company in the region. Netskope’s revenues in South Africa have doubled year-on-year, and the organisation is continuing to demonstrate commitment to the region through dedicated hiring of industry experts and partnership programmes. Today’s news follows the appointment of Tinus Janse van Rensburg as Regional Sales Manager, who joins Netskope from Cisco where he managed the organisation’s African cybersecurity business.

Andre Stewart, Vice President for EMEA and LATAM for Netskope commented, “With ever increasing data moving to the cloud, security needs to follow that trend. Netskope is committed to best of breed granular, contextual Cloud Security, and the only way to ensure low latency – below 45m/s – worldwide, is to own your infrastructure. NewEdge is about giving the end user the best security without compromise. Our Jo’burg POP means that our South African customers can take advantage of all our security portfolio and benefit from the best end user experience possible.

Netskope has long term plans for the region which is why we are happy to invest in the best infrastructure but also the best people. I am delighted to have Tinus join our team and the plan is to hire great talent to best serve our customers in the region.”

Grant Reynolds, Regional Sales Manager for Africa continued, “This is great news for our customers and partners in Africa, who are already benefiting from our Next Generation Secure Web Gateway which decodes the latest cloud services and web traffic to deliver comprehensive visibility, prevent advanced threats, protect data, and simplify security operations. We are ready for fast growth both in the region and worldwide. This is an exciting time both for Netskope and for the broader security industry.”

Netskope’s Security Platform uniquely ensures that customers have all of their data and policy enforcement occur in Netskope owned / leased high end, highly secure, data centres. The Netskope Security Cloud always maintains SOC-3 Type II, SOC-2 Type II, and SSAE-16 Type II certifications and is the longest-standing security cloud to do so in the market.

www.netskope.com

[South Africa] Swipe iX announces shift to cloud based digital solutions

South Africa software development company Swipe iX has announced that is shifting its focus towards cloud-based digital solutions.

With successful implementations for key clients such as Shoprite, Old Mutual and M-Net to name a few, Swipe iX’s CEO; Hendri Lategan along with the founding partners Deon Heunis (CTO) and Leo Redelinghuys (MD), elaborates on why the digital solutions agency is delving deeper into cloud computing and how these new categories of applications are transforming the playing field.

Lategan explains that they’ve fixed their gaze on cloud innovation and are focused on utilising cloud computing combined with emerging technologies such as machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Lategan adds “Swipe iX is not so much focussing on the physical migrations to the cloud, but more on the potential one may have for implementing and leveraging the power of cloud-based applications once there.”

He continues “While there is an absolute imperative for transferring key business functions and workloads to cloud-based infrastructures, where the real opportunity lies in the reinvention and innovation of these functions with the immensely powerful toolkit that will be made available to you.”

Deon Heunis, Swipe iX’s CTO and co-founder remarks, “Serverless architecture is evolving into a necessity rather than an amenity for key industry players, and that future competitiveness is dependant on the rate at which companies adopt and implement cloud computing.”

Due to the buzz surrounding cloud solutions, Heunis predicts that an influx of South African companies will shift towards cloud computing in an effort to streamline productivity, maximise efficiency, and gain a competitive edge.

Leo Redelinghuys explains why Swipe is zeroing in on cloud innovation and why it is uniquely positioned to leverage cloud services to accelerate business innovations for its core clients and beyond.

“Swipe iX has been culturally focussed on embracing emerging technologies since its inception and one of the key focus areas has been strengthening platform architectures through serverless infrastructure and continuous integration for improved scalability and security for our existing platforms.”

She continued, “Since the very early days of AWS making an appearance on the scene we have been keen on understanding how to best use these features and make the most of them. This has provided us with key learnings and experience along the way that has poised us to take our service offering to the next level.”

Cloud computing is the buzz topic in the IT industry, but at this point, the usefulness of this technology is by no means assumed simply by its implementation. It is in understanding and actively working towards the successful optimisation and implementation of these platforms that will bring its true potential to bear on solving real-world business challenges. Swipe iX offers its expertise to help businesses know where to start on their journey to the cloud.

www.swipeix.com

[Kenya] KCB picks Actifio to provide data backup and application development support

Actifio, the pioneer of multi-cloud copy data management software, has been chosen to provide comprehensive data backup and application development support for KCB Group, East Africa’s largest commercial bank.

The bank has placed the Actifio platform at the center of its DevOps and data management initiatives to assure stability and continuing business growth.

KCB Group Plc was established in Kenya in 1896. The bank has since expanded into Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia (Rep). The KCB Group Plc network includes 330 branches, 1,076 ATMs and more than 18,818 merchants and agents offering 24×7 services, including mobile and Internet banking.

Gabriel Kimanzi, KCB’s IT Risk and Security Officer, said, “We identified Actifio as our best data backup and recovery solution through a competitive process. Not only did Actifio closely match our primary criteria, but it also provides creative support for application development using application-aware data mounts. That is very powerful for us; a great benefit.”

Complex information technology is central to the operation of KCB’s banking business. Its technology needs to operate responsively and reliably to support bank business in seven countries while protecting the bank’s production and backup data centers. The bank needed to replace its complex and time-consuming tape-based process to eliminate unacceptable time delays and data recovery failures.

“The success rate of our old data backup system was horrible,” said Kimanzi. “We wasted too much staff time dealing with failures. It had become a major pain point and a real danger to the bank’s business.”

The KCB team recognized Actifio’s unique value in saving application developers’ time by using data virtualization to create database copies as needed without adding storage system capacity. “Actifio is a powerful tool for data protection and application development. Backup speed, simplicity of management, and excellent support were all factors in our decision,” said Christopher Tiren, KCB’s Chief Procurement Officer.

The Actifio benefits to KCB start with a powerful and affordable backup, test and development platform. The business has also gained simple, reliable, and consistent performance for data backup and recovery with unique value in time savings and self-service for application developers.

www.kcbgroup.com

www.actifio.com

[Column] Sandra Crous: Securing payroll data in the cloud

As with the majority of business software, HR and payroll solutions are increasingly available through the cloud as a pay-as-you-use model and are today, considered as mainstream as any other business application.

However, a fundamental issue for any user looking to move their HR and payroll systems to the cloud is the common, yet incorrect assumption that cloud solutions are somehow less secure than their on-premises counterparts.

There are several trends that are having an impact on payroll data security, says Sandra Crous, MD of PaySpace, a leader in cloud-based payroll and human capital management software. “As more and more solutions and goods go digital, the pace of change increases, and at the same time physical borders become blurred, as applications are accessed on mobile devices outside of the organisation, by those needing instant, anytime access.”

“We have seen a massive rise in the use of and delivery of online payslips, mobile self-service, the growing use of automation, and the consumption of payroll services via the cloud, due to their promise of high configurability, fast implementation and increased flexibility. However, on the downside, whenever you are dealing with data-sharing over the cloud as opposed to on-premise, the risk to data increases.”

Remember too, that as the use of tablets and smartphones to access business applications and systems remotely skyrockets, a company’s data might now be stored on a plethora of outside devices instead of within a single, on-premise network. In addition, this slew of devices are all attached to the Web, and many may not be pre-configured by the company with security in mind. Leaving security at the discretion of the employee is never advisable.

Without realising it, businesses are trading convenience for security. “Our reliance on cloud services has seen our dependency on third parties increase too and has obscured our view of the protocols and measures that are in place to guarantee data security. This can cause serious issues because once a company has signed up with a particular provider, they now have to deal with all the risks associated with compliance, legal, and of course integration with other systems.”

One way to ensure your data stays safe, says Crous, is to partner with the right cloud payroll vendor. “Ask them questions such, as to how they handle, and what they do with your data that they have access to. Also question them on their practices, to ensure they are legal and fully compliant with current regulation. Finally, when reading your SLA agreement, read the fine print too. Many unscrupulous businesses like to cloak how they might use your data in legalese that no one bothers to read properly.”

“A reliable vendor with a well-established brand will host your data in a secure environment,” she says. “Moreover, its solutions will also have an interface that is simple and accessible, as well as powerful mobile apps that enable your employees to work on the move. It will also be 100% transparent about data security and have this built-in from the ground up.”

She says PaySpace, for example, goes way beyond what most providers offer in terms of security. “We believe that security has to be considered at every level, from the internal user level, and application layer, to the facilities and network level, and in fact, are one of the few providers who are ISO 27001 certified.”

For the internal user, PaySpace’s security model is flexible, operating on a “need to know basis” and a “who you can see” basis, where the principle of least privilege is applied, users access is restricted  to selected screens or to  read-only access.”

At the application layer, PaySpace is powered by a single instance, multi-tenant architecture, in which all users and applications share a single, common infrastructure, but is logically and uniquely separated for each customer, with a TenantID in place to ensure that each user’s data is kept separate. “Moreover, all users have a unique email address and password, and all access to PaySpace as a whole is governed by the most stringent password security policies, and all passwords encrypted before they are stored within a database that is encrypted too.”

Crous says PaySpace also employs 128 bit encryption on every form within the system, the reports which are emailed to users are sent in a password protected zip file, and an audit trail exists at every stage for traceability purposes. “Finally, we use safe bank EFT transfer technology for financial account validations as well as communication with banks.”

At a facilities level, PaySpace stores its data at one of Africa’s most modern and state-of-the-art data centre facilities. “Our data is backed up every 15 mins to an offsite server, with a full back up happening every evening. In terms of access, public access is strictly prohibited, and the facility is monitored with live video surveillance 24/7/365.Physical access is controlled by access cards, with access to the facility restricted to Certified Technical Points of Contact. Biometric systems add a third layer of security, with fingerprint scanners used to restrict access and ensure only the appropriate individuals have access to the data centre.”

To ensure network security, PaySpace has proven security practices in place, a perimeter firewall that guards our network against malicious activity by scrutinising data entering or leaving the network. This protects us from DDoS and Zero-Day attacks, as well as malware and spoofing attacks, explains Crous. “We also have IPS in place to scan for any anomalous behaviours that might indicate an attacker is trying to infiltrate our network and block it immediately.”

Finally, she says PaySpace’s vulnerability scanning process protects its systems by pinpointing vulnerabilities that could be exploited by threat actors and reporting them immediately.

“Choosing the right provider means it is possible to harness all the benefits of the cloud without compromising security. Do your research, and make sure your cloud provider is adequately addressing all security risks.”

Sandra Crous is the Managing Director of cloud-based payroll and human capital management software, PaySpace.