[Column] Kurt Goodall: Extending security to the cloud

Business leaders now have a choice whether they want to continue using their trusted firewall or move to a next-generation firewall delivered by appliances or as cloud services to protect the outer perimeter security in branch offices.

Troye technical director Kurt Goodall says Citrix offers various choices, from the long-established multi-site to the advanced multi-layered approach, both of which can protect users and data at the branches, data centre, and clouds from multi-vector cyber threats.

“Citrix SD-WAN Integrated Firewall complements your trusted firewall investment and strengthens overall security infrastructure. Citrix provides an integrated perimeter firewall that masks users and infrastructure from cyber surveillance,” he explains.

This integrated firewall has global policy control, supports zone-based policies so that you can implement granular micro-segmentation of traffic and enforce uniform policy consistently. Citrix SD-WAN can also intelligently track the fast-changing open ports from SaaS and IaaS apps as trusted traffic and directly breakout the traffic to the internet, enhancing application performance.

It marks all other traffic, such as web browsing, as untrusted and forwards it to the full security stack, typically located at the HQ or a private data centre. Citrix SD-WAN also takes extra precautions by encrypting all branch-to-branch egress traffic, even when it is transported over a private MPLS line

Goodall says Citrix SD-WAN automates connectivity to cloud security. “With most enterprises embarking on some form of cloud transformation, Citrix recommends extending perimeter security to the cloud, where apps and workloads reside.”

Citrix has partnered with industry leaders like Palo Alto Networks, Zscaler, and Symantec to deliver joint solutions that enable our SD-WAN to be a transparent gateway for Secure Web Gateway (SWG) service. Cloud-based SWG is a popular option for branch offices due to its simple and yet effective multi-layer protection.

Citrix SD-WAN management platform is the key component in this joint solution, providing on-boarding automation and a direct subscription link to Palo Alto Global Protect (aka Prisma) and Zscaler Secure Internet Gateway services. Through API automation, Citrix SD-WAN also secures the connectivity (via IPsec) from the branch to the Palo Alto, Zscaler and Symantec clouds.

The benefits of automation become more significant as more branch sites are involved, directly translating into time savings and reduction in configuration errors. Last but not least, Citrix provides this automated on-boarding capability free of charge.

In addition, cloud-based security also enables a new service-consumption model. It provides an option to shift to opex spending, which can be easily aligned with your business growth. There is no need to deploy security appliances at every branch. It also removes the need to build an in-house resource to manage the security infrastructure.

Kurt Goodall is the technical director at Troye Technical Solutions in South Africa.

[South Africa] Telkom forces customers to move to the cloud

Telkom is shutting down its ADSL copper network and is ultimately forcing its business customers to move to the cloud. This is part of Telkom’s strategy to migrate customers to a more stable network and similarly-priced products.

Local cloud telecom provider Euphoria Telecom is elated by this announcement but warns customers to take action before the final shutdown as it could leave them without any connection. It believes switching off the copper network will only benefit customers because of the enormous benefits and cost savings associated with cloud.

Unlike traditional business telephone systems that are pure capital expense (Capex), cloud-based systems are 100% tax deductible as an operational expense (Opex). More importantly, with cloud one only pays for what is required at any point in time.

Euphoria Telecom CEO John Woollam says business owners need to realise that traditional telephone systems are costly and inefficient. “With our cloud solution there are no contracts and customers can save up to 50% on their calls. And the system is easy-to-use with more than 200 powerful features including cutting-edge functionality and data rich reporting.”

Modern cloud telephone systems like Euphoria’s offering require no hardware and therefore no onsite support. This means there is no hardware to upgrade in order to take advantage of new features and technologies. Upgrades are provided seamlessly through software changes that happen automatically in the background.

Telephone costs represent one of the largest operational expenses for most businesses, but business owners have a very informal approach to this overhead. In order to optimise this expenditure, management should have the ability to quickly and effectively see cost reporting across the organisation.

Woollam says most companies are still unaware of their operational inefficiencies and this could mean the end for many businesses in today’s tight economy. “Without accurate information, it is nearly impossible for any business to address these inefficiencies and more importantly, to manage expenses.”

“The new version 3 of our Telephone Management System (TMS) is capable of significantly improving business efficiency with its workforce management capabilities. The system empowers businesses to control, manage, automate, personalise and analyse every aspect of a company’s phone system from one central point,” he explains.

Unlike the traditional phone systems that have limited functionality, Euphoria’s innovative cloud-based system offers multi-office coverage with remote extensions and mobile phone integration.

Euphoria provides all the communication features needed to keep business moving forward, from start-ups right through to established multi-franchise operations.

www.telkom.co.za

[South Africa] Local partner role is critical to cloud success in Africa

While cloud technology presents a significant opportunity for enterprises to innovate as if they were potentially start-ups, the time and approach some are taking to make this decision could ultimately cost them. This is according to Guy Zibi, principal analyst, Xalam Analytics, who was a keynote speaker at Hype, vendor neutral cloud infrastructure provider, Routed’s recent event series.

In his sessions in Cape Town and Johannesburg, Zibi says that there is no doubt that the African cloud is here: “While customers are going digital at an alarming rate, competition is increasingly amorphous and more agile. There are also thousands of start-ups looking to disrupt. Traditional rivals are becoming more agile and are leveraging new technologies, making the African cloud complex and varied,” says Zibi.

He says that this has led to many enterprises playing a defensive strategy, now looking at how to leverage technology to grow revenue: “This is predominant in consumer-facing businesses and has led to growth of mobile applications and a rise in the use of analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).”

This, he says, is while data volumes grow, budgets get tighter, economies slow down, and unpredictable power supply, cyber-attacks and a heavier regulatory burden all make the landscape more challenging.

How organisations approach the cloud largely hinges on what and where they are, according to Zibi. Is the market cloud-ready? How important is technology in the production chain? What is the quality and cost of connectivity?

“In Africa we are seeing selective cloud usage, which includes a mix of basic and critical workloads onsite and a mix of full-blown migration. The latter includes lift and shift; re-platform; replace/rebuild and rearchitect,” says Zibi. Interestingly, he says that the financial services sector is the most progressive in Africa, having moved to a combination of off premise and public cloud.”

Migration patterns in cloud-ready markets have been amplified by the arrival of hyperscalers, which is evident in the acceleration of the financial services sector. While rebuild/replace is not seen as a viable option, lift and shift together with rearchitecting seem to be dominating cloud migration.

“Rehosting is growing within financial services as well as in retail, however the public sector and industry are slower. It is this reluctance to consider viable alternatives that could impact the outcome and success of cloud migration across several industries,” says Zibi. 

He says that there is room for locally-attuned platforms in Africa: “While it is good to see global market leading cloud platforms in Africa, it is highly likely that several markets and sectors will be highly-dependent on local providers. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) will play an important role in cloud migration but they must evolve.”

Dave Funnell, VMware Senior Manager: Cloud Provider Business, Sub-Saharan Africa says that the growth of applications is driving Cloud adoption, with a different destination depending upon the lifecycle status of the application. This is leading to a hybrid multi-cloud world, with the requirement for cloud services not just from the hyperscalers, but also hosted private clouds. Having recently presented Routed with Africa’s first VMware Cloud Verified accreditation, he says that these Cloud platforms provide customers with a valuable proposition: the easiest and lowest risk pathway for migration to the cloud.

“The reality is that it’s a hybrid cloud future with multiple cloud providers. The majority of applications being migrated to the cloud are ‘lift and shift’, so why expend the time, cost and energy to migrate over months and years to a hyperscaler, often with unpredictable results. Rather perform a rapid and confident migration to a private cloud, whether delivered by a hyperscaler or a localised provider, such as Routed. This is why all six major hyperscalers, including AWS and Azure, have partnered with VMware and explains the growth of localised cloud provider partners, who deliver services tailored to their client’s requirements. As more enterprises adopt a cloud first strategy, I expect the private cloud market to grow in lockstep with the native hyperscale requirement, making the role of companies like Routed and other MSPs, critical,” says Funnell.

www.routed.co.za

www.xalamanalytics.com

[Column] Jason Penton: Offshore platform development growing as South Africa looks to play cloud catch-up

As cloud entered its teen years in 2019, South Africa remains a late adopter of what is globally an established technology. Jason Penton, co-founder, Jini Guru, a cloud platform builder, says that in the 13 years that cloud has been around, the technology landscape has changed almost beyond recognition.

“Globally, cloud will continue to impact the next decade, but with more focus on newer technologies such Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT).  These markets have generally been engaging in cloud for five or more years, which is why they are looking ahead. Cloud is still very much a chosen technology and enterprise companies globally are looking to the next generation cloud model to see what it could bring to the business,” says Penton.

2025 is the year predicted for this new approach, which will essentially give these companies access to new technologies such as AI, blockchain and Internet of Things. But Penton says locally, the landscape is much different. 

“South Africa’s adoption rate is much slower as enterprise businesses remain overly cautious of a full migration to the cloud. Instead, platform technology is bridging this gap. We are seeing increasing interest in developing new platforms while enterprise debate migrating legacy systems,” says Penton.

With an established team in South Africa and a development team in India, Jini Guru’s core business remains at the centre of digital transformation as it takes traditional networks into the cloud: “We are seeing increasing interest in creating new platforms in the cloud. From telephony to Know your Customer (KYC) and RICA implementations, our team of developers are doing some innovative projects in the cloud,” says Penton.

He says that the combined offshore force that Jini Guru offers is compelling to local businesses: “We are able to be very price competitive but also offering exemplary development work. In addition, clients deal with our team in South Africa, while benefiting from an offshore team of developers.

While South Africa is essentially behind the adoption curve, we are still seeing some excellent development work and major innovation taking place. Penton says that he anticipates increasing demand for custom development work as clients either realise the benefits of moving into the cloud or reach end of life and essentially need to make a move.

Jason Penton is the co-founder, Jini Guru, a cloud platform builder.

[South Africa] Bluegrass Digital invests in cloud provider Veeva Systems

Bluegrass Digital has announced that it will continue to invest in its Veeva Systems partnership, the leader in cloud-based software for the global life sciences industry. This forms part of its strategy to develop pharmaceutical and life sciences industry applications.

Veeva Systems is an end-to-end solution delivering life sciences-focused capabilities for the planning and coordination of all resources, across all channels covering face-to-face, email, web and mobile. It ensures companies focus on delivering the right messages at the right time to customers.

Through this partnership, Bluegrass helps clients bring products to market faster and more efficiently, and maintain compliance. Bluegrass is an official Veeva solution partner and recognised as a multichannel Veeva Systems Content Partner.

Bluegrass Digital CEO Nick Durrant says they have a solid history of working in the Healthcare and Life Sciences industry with over 10 years’ experience. “In recent years, much of our work has focused on the technical support and delivery of Veeva solutions.”

“In 2015 we joined the Veeva partnership programme and have maintained our partnership ever since, building on our skills and experience on the Veeva platform. We have worked on a range of digital solutions for clients that include Janssen and Johnson & Johnson, Amgen, Grunenthal, Leo Pharma, Mundipharma, Novartis, Lundbeck Pfizer and many more,” he explains.

Delivering a seamless multichannel customer experience, Veeva is committed to moving the life sciences industry forward with leading technology solutions. Its industry cloud solutions provide data, software, services and an extensive ecosystem of partners to support the most critical functions from R&D through commercial.

Durrant says many of our projects have been delivered to EMEA and North America. “We are often involved in the development of the core solutions which is used as the global build pack for market roll-out. Our main production hub is based in Cape Town and this provides a cost effective solution for our partners in Europe and North America.”

“Our experience includes the Veeva CRM platform which covers Approved email, CLM, Engage and MyInsights. We also work with Veeva Vault covering Veeva PromoMats and Veeva MedComms,” he concludes.

www.bluegrassdigital.com

[Column] David Bunei: Next-generation cloud eliminates pain points for Kenyan business

In addition to experiencing our new brand look in person, business leaders who attended the recent Oracle Modern Cloud Day in Nairobi had the opportunity to experience the full potential unlocked by cloud-embedded technology.

On a greater societal level, cloud technologies are at the heart of concepts like smart or green cities where available resources are optimized and systems integrated for the benefit of all citizens. Businesses too can achieve unprecedented all-round efficiency enabled by cloud services. The recent Cloud Day event in Kenya was an opportunity for us to showcase Oracle’s latest innovation across cloud applications and cloud infrastructure.

With a 30-year presence in, and commitment to, Africa, Oracle is bringing these, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) enriched innovations to Kenya as part of their global rollout. Companies that have already invested in previous generations of the technology will automatically receive the upgrades through patches. For all Kenyan organisations, though – whether already Oracle customers or not – Oracle’s Generation 2 Cloud infrastructure and the new features that use it as their foundation, will help prepare an agile, secure and cost effective infrastructure that will allow the business to consistently innovate and grow in the digital economy.

Cloud can help reduce costs

One of the key challenges facing Kenyan businesses is the cost of doing business. Although cloud adoption is considered an IT strategy to reduce expenses, it has overarching repercussions for any business, especially in the digital age. A shift to cloud liberates companies from tech refresh cycles and CAPEX investment to support their on-premise systems. Whether transitioning critical or non-essential applications to the cloud, Oracle customers pay only for resources that are consumed.

More importantly, cloud-based systems are especially beneficial for companies operating in, or expanding beyond, Kenyan borders. In the case of Oracle, customers enjoy consistent pricing in all regions, so cross-border expansion does not lead to any cost increases. This way, customers can access world-class cloud services and their own fully integrated enterprise management systems no matter where their market aspirations take them. The expansion of the Oracle Universal Cloud Credits system announced at OpenWorld 2019, also enables businesses to further optimise their operational expenditure.

Organisations are often hesitant to shift to cloud given their use of business systems and technologies from various providers. Apart from the complication of wholesale data transfer, there is the cost associated with such an undertaking. Strategic partnerships are becoming more common as cloud enters its next stage, helping to streamline the process. Having already announced a cloud interoperability partnership with Microsoft in June, three months later, Oracle OpenWorld revealed a partnership with VMware, where customers can now more easily move and run VMware environments on Oracle Cloud.

Creating data-driven customer centricity

As elsewhere, data security remains a key concern for Kenyan businesses, along with the use of data to enhance the customer experience. Embedded in next-generation cloud services, automation, AI and ML can be leveraged to mine insights that will improve time to market and provide greater predictability in delivering the right customer services at the right time. Already, Oracle has partnered with the Kenya Revenue Authority to provide a more responsive and relevant service to their customers, translating into better brand reputation.

One final point to make is that cloud migration is an ongoing journey, for our customers and Oracle itself. One of the major announcements at OpenWorld was Oracle’s plans to build a cloud region in South Africa. New Oracle Cloud regions are continually being launched – one every 23 days over the next 15 months or so – and our relationship with Microsoft opens the door to interconnecting with Azure data centres in more areas too.

Change takes time. While Oracle and other global players increase their investment in Africa, business decision-makers – who have expressed their enthusiasm about cloud’s potential – should seize every refresh opportunity at their organisation to explore what cloud solutions can do to introduce immediate business value.

David Bunei is the Managing Director for Oracle Kenya.

[Kenya] Oracle showcases its Cloud and Artificial Intelligence technology solutions

Oracle recently showcased its latest Cloud led digital solutions to top business and government leaders at the International Modern Business event in Nairobi. This according to the company is in line with its sustained commitment to help Kenya achieve its strategic socio-economic objectives as identified by the country’s Vision 2030 framework,

“Digital transformation is a key priority for Kenya’s public and private sector entities as organisations look to deliver transparent citizen services; drive business growth with high ROI; introduce new products and deliver an exceptional customer experience in a highly mobile and digital economy of the future”, said David Bunei, Managing Director of Oracle Kenya.

“At Oracle, we have delivered an incredible amount of innovation to our customers in Kenya including the Oracle Autonomous Database, AI embedded Business Applications and the Generation 2 cloud infrastructure.”

“The International Modern Business event is an opportunity for us to highlight the true impact of these technologies and showcase how Kenyan organisations can unlock unprecedented growth with cloud led digital transformation”, added David.

Oracle has recently announced plans to launch 20 new Oracle Cloud regions by the end of 2020, for a total of 36 Oracle Cloud Infrastructure regions. South Africa will host one of these cloud regions to support seamless cloud transition for customers across the African continent. Oracle has also recently unveiled the world’s first Autonomous Operating System; AI Voice for the enterprise and the world’s fastest database machine.

www.oracle.com

[South Africa] Routed achieves Africa’s first VMware Cloud verified status

Routed, a vendor neutral cloud infrastructure provider has announced that it has achieved VMware Cloud Verified status. As the first company on the African continent to attain this status, Routed is proud to be among an elite group of highly skilled providers with the ability to operate at this high level of cloud certification.

The Cloud Verified badge signals to customers that Routed offers a service running on top of the complete VMware Cloud infrastructure. Through Cloud Verified partner services, customers attain access to the full set of VMware Cloud Infrastructure capabilities including integration and interoperability, cost optimisation and flexibility.

Andrew Cruise, managing director, Routed, says that being cloud verified by one of the global cloud leaders such as VMware is a career highlight: “We have watched as the cloud foundations were being built over the past four years and as we head into 2020, it is clear that the cloud-surge will continue, albeit cautiously, and Africa will continue to be a significant player within the global cloud sector. To work closely with VMware brings significant strength to the Routed offering. We are delighted to reach this milestone first and look forward to being an active participant in the developing cloud sector across the African continent.”

“Partners that are VMware Cloud Verified provide organisations with complete and advanced VMware Cloud technologies, along with interoperability across clouds for greater advantage for their customers’ businesses,” said Dave Funnell, VMware Senior Manager: Cloud Provider Business. “Cloud Verified services delivered by VMware Cloud Providers can provide the efficiency, agility, and reliability inherent in cloud computing. We look forward to supporting Routed as it empowers organisations with a simple and flexible path to the cloud.”

VMware’s global network of more than 4,000 VMware Cloud Providers leverage VMware’s consistent cloud infrastructure to offer a wide array of services, provide geographic and industry specialisation, and help customers meet complex regulatory requirements. Cloud Providers operating under the VMware Cloud Provider Program deliver individually tailored cloud solutions and services in more than 120 countries.

www.routed.co.za

[Column] Syed Asad Abbas: We need to embrace the Cloud

There’s a lot of hype about the Cloud, however what comes to mind when you hear that your software will sit in the cloud, it sounds positively intangible and  like a cloud it can fall apart anytime. Making it seem like something you have no control over, it may just disappear like smoke. Many people think this, but it is misconception. We the ICT industry should have used another word to describe as the name Cloud certainly created misunderstandings and the intangible nature of clouds created a negative perception when it came to ‘Cloud Technology, ‘however the name stuck and we’ve been playing catch-up as a sector ever since.

The Cloud is actually a set of technologies which are rented out to multiple tenants, anywhere in the world and at a low cost, hosted by a company which specialize in hosting, managing and delivering them. Keeping them operational 24/7 and 365 days a year. Some servers use computing power to run applications or “deliver a service”. Almost everyone that uses any form of tech, already uses Cloud Services, often without knowing it. If you use any services of Google or Apple, you are using and accessing Cloud technology.

With examples, implementation and case studies regarding the use of Cloud Technology, companies and organisations started to become convinced. If we take an example of data security, who will have better measures in place to secure data, you an accounting firm or any other business or a firm specialising in nothing but Information Technology and security?

Cloud as we know it is not something new, it existed as far back as the first industrial revolution. Cloud was there when people started depositing their monies in a bank instead of their personal vaults, money is valued above all else, and yet we don’t even know where exactly our money is stored, we just access it via an ATM, online, or via a speedpoint. You could call utility companies such as electricity or water companies Cloud technology. People started using electricity brought to their homes from a power station instead of using their own generators. Water pipelines to bring water to the tap from a river, a dam or a centralized water source instead of digging their own boreholes and wells. Why install an expensive infrastructure at your own premises when you can just use and pay only for the service that you need. Imagine every needing their own water company to access clean and potable water.

When it comes to selecting a cloud based solution, more often than not we think about where our data will be stored, but actually what’s important is who will have access to our data, will it be available to us whenever we need it? So it does not matter where our data sits, what matters is how secure is the access and how durable is the service availability.

Next time when you are offered a solution which sits in the Cloud, think about the more important factors, i.e. Security and Availability. Whether it is a software application, data that needs to be stored or software programmes (Software as a Service), it’s all possible and at the organisation’s fingertips with the Cloud. The services are available anywhere and anytime through any enabled devices and are totally secure and with an exponentially increased efficiency. Most organisations and companies across the globe have already embraced completely secure cloud service based solutions.

Cloud-based solutions and Software as a Service are almost without exception part of every country’s overall development plan in terms of public service infrastructure, economic outlook and investment environment. Developing ICT-infrastructure in both the public and private sectors.

If we do nothing as Namibia, but just stand by and watch this new revolution pass us by, it will cause long-term damage and will create an unbridgeable digital divide compared to other nations which are adapting to this trend proactively. It really makes sense for every business and organisation to use Cloud Services. So what do we do? There’s no need to be cautious or doubtful regarding Cloud technology, the tech is proven. We need to adopt and embrace strategies which enable us to utilize cloud computing and deliver effective and efficient e-Governance and Cloud Services and software to companies and organisations, no matter their size.

Syed Asad Abbas is the Head of Division, Software Services at Green Enterprise Solutions (Pty) Ltd.

Workonline launches Remote Cloud Connect services in Africa

Global network service provider, Workonline Communications, has launched Remote Cloud Connect, facilitating access to cloud services for Workonline customers over a dedicated Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL) service. This low latency cloud solution enables customers to connect to leading cloud services such as AWS Direct Connect, Microsoft Azure Express Route, Google Cloud, Oracle and IBM cloud platforms more securely and transparently from any country where Workonline has a presence.

Benjamin Deveaux, Head of Business Development at Workonline Communications, says that the aim is to empower customers by enabling them to connect to the cloud through their use of the high performance Workonline backbone: “As a wholesale provider of IP transit services across Africa, we are continuously innovating to provide our ISP clients with more stable and reliable Internet services in Africa. By leveraging global cloud exchange platforms like Teraco’s Africa Cloud Exchange we can offer our ISP customers a more secure remote connection to a cloud provider of their choice. Through Remote Cloud Connect, clients will benefit from a low cost, high performance connection with excellent local support.”

In line with the predicted growth of cloud across the continent, Xalam Analytics recently published its report ‘The rise of the African cloud’, and says that for African markets, cloud, virtualisation and the broader evolution towards serverless computing are the most disruptive technology developments since the advent of the mobile payment revolution. Few other segments in the African ICT space are as likely to generate an incremental $2bn in top line revenue over the next five years, and at least as much in adjacent enabling ecosystem revenue.

Deveaux says that Workonline sees immense potential across East and West Africa within the remote connectivity to cloud services space in particular: “Initially our efforts will focus on Kenya and Ghana, where remote connectivity to cloud services is growing fast.”

Through Remote Cloud Connect, Workonline will deliver far more predictable latency connections by taking the shortest route from Kenya or Ghana back to its South African or European Points of Presence where the Cloud provider in question is present. Workonline will also provide secondary failover links for protection when possible, with transparency in terms of the paths which the traffic will take in various failure scenarios. These services can be provided at 1Mbps to multiples of 10Gbps.

Andrew Owens, Teraco peering and interconnection specialist, says that cloud growth is a reality across the continent and the ability for established networks to provide an on-ramp to cloud is essential: “The Africa Cloud Exchange not only enables networks to provide this connection, but also encourages the growth and development of cloud-based solutions. By providing a direct and secure connection, the platform provides a better cloud experience for end users and as a result, empowers the growth and success of African cloud providers.”

www.workonline.africa