Tony Blair Institute and Oracle Launch Africa vaccine management in the cloud

The Tony Blair Institute (TBI) and Oracle have brought cloud technology to Africa to manage public health programs.

Initially, Ghana, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone will use the new Oracle Health Management System to create electronic health records for their vaccination programs for yellow fever, HPV, polio, measles, and COVID-19, as soon as that vaccine is distributed to Africa.

 TBI and Oracle are in discussions with more than thirty other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America that are evaluating using the same cloud system to manage their COVID-19 vaccination programs. 

“Since February of this year, the Africa Union and Member States have worked tirelessly together to address the impact of COVID-19 on the continent,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, partnerships such as this one with Oracle, TBI and various governments are critical to the strengthening of Member State public health institutions, not only to incorporate innovative technology but to proactively and urgently harmonize the collection and sharing of important testing data across the continent.”

TBI has been providing policy advice and hands-on support to African governments as they tackle complex COVID-19 challenges. To address these challenges, TBI partnered with Oracle to deliver cloud technology to digitize and unify national health data starting with the management of vaccinations. The Oracle Health Management System creates an electronic health record in a cloud database for every person as they are vaccinated. This highly-secure system can be quickly configured to interoperate with each country’s existing technology and meet their most stringent data sovereignty requirements. Participating countries will have access and support for the system, free of charge, for the next ten years.

“This is an immensely exciting and potentially ground-breaking initiative for recording information on all disease vaccinations and treatments in African nations,” said Tony Blair, Executive Chairman of TBI and the former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. “Though Africa has coped well with COVID-19, it still needs to be part of international efforts to control the disease, including for international travel. That means vaccination of at least a significant portion of the population, requiring the highest quality data system so that everyone’s vaccine experience is recorded. Oracle can provide that system with data securely stored and owned by each country and is prepared to do so as part of a global philanthropic partnership.

We will be living with COVID-19 for some years, and the recording of data will be vital in managing its impact and spread. And one thing is clear from this crisis: applying new technology solutions has applications for the digitization of the entire economy and is crucial for the acceleration of African development. This initiative is a great test case, and my Institute is proud to be part of it.” 

“The Oracle Health Management System is currently being used by the U.S. government and large healthcare and research organizations to monitor COVID-19 patient symptoms, responses to treatments, and to screen volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials,” said Oracle Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison. “By working with Tony and his team over a period of a few months, we were able to deliver the exact same 21st century cloud technology to Ghana, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. This is the first time vaccine data has been stored in a cloud database on a national scale. Africa is leading the way.”

Ghana is now using the system to manage its yellow fever vaccine program and will follow with COVID-19 once that vaccine is distributed in Africa.

Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo said, “We have learned many lessons from this pandemic. The most obvious is that we have to urgently fortify our public health systems. This strategic partnership with Oracle and TBI is evidence of our drive to digitalize Ghana’s health systems for our people’s benefit.”

“The move from Ghana’s current paper-based vaccination campaign records to digital data management using the Oracle platform will enable our data to be easily accessible by authorized persons. The data will be more secure, and there will be no worry about lost cards as people travel,” added Dr. Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, Expanded Programme on Immunization, Ghana Health Service.

Rwanda has prepared its system to support its HPV vaccine administration as soon as secondary schools reopen, with plans to support COVID-19 vaccinations and an immunity pass for citizens in the future.

President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame called for a resilient health system as the best defense against future pandemics: “A COVID-19 vaccine will be a critical tool, and Africa must be able to access to its fair share of a vaccine once it is available. This partnership will deliver an innovative digital vaccine e-registry that signals the continent’s readiness to deploy the vaccine and to safely reopen our economies to trade and tourism.”

Sierra Leone is preparing to use the system to create digital vaccination records when its next routine Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) campaign begins. EPI is a global initiative to vaccinate for polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis, pertussis, measles, and tetanus. It is estimated to prevent two to three million childhood deaths globally each year from these diseases. Sierra Leone’s EPI program reportedly covers 95% of eligible children in that country.

Chief Innovation Officer and Minister of Education of Sierra Leone, Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, noted, “The Government of Sierra Leone is committed to utilizing technology and innovation – digitizing services to improve service delivery for its citizens. Using our experience from Ebola, we were able to put together a robust National COVID-19 Response plan, which has technology, data, and innovation as core enablers. This collaboration with Oracle and TBI is significant not only for dealing with COVID-19 and broader health needs, such as EPI vaccinations but will be a key step in our country’s mission of digitization for all.”

As countries begin vaccinating people for COVID-19, the Oracle Health Management System can be used to automatically create an electronic health record for every person vaccinated.  Once the COVID-19 vaccine is available, the Oracle Health Management System will track immunizations and provide recipients with a Digital Quick Response (QR) code. These QR codes will help Africa reopen its borders and economies by providing citizens the proof of immunization needed to move freely for work and travel.

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[Column] David Bunei: Stay ahead of those data security woes

The very factors that have helped to make Kenya such a motivated and major African player in the Digital Age have also made local organisations in the public and private sector vulnerable to security threats and compliance issues. The good news is that, next-generation cloud infrastructure and applications are mitigating these concerns with their autonomous capabilities, ensuring a higher level of security than ever before.

In 2018, Kenya’s economy lost Sh29.5 billion to cybercrime and related activities, up 40% from the previous year. The Communication Authority of Kenya also reported that in Q4 2018, the number of cybersecurity threats in the country jumped 167% to 10.2 million from 3.8 million in Q3.

Faced with such intimidating figures, many enterprises – especially those in high-risk sectors such as Government and Banking – are investing heavily in cybersecurity measures or carefully exploring digital transformation, the very process that will help them to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively.

At Oracle, we have been integrating security into our solutions and protecting our customers’ sensitive data for decades. Oracle solutions have multi-layered security built-in and integrated, whether talking about Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, Autonomous Database, SaaS applications as well as our traditional on-premises infrastructure and applications. Of course, with more customers moving to cloud, we have intensified our focus on security, taking advantage of developments in AI, and related machine learning, to protect customers’ sensitive data and ease their security burden.

Last year at Oracle’s annual OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, attendees were able to learn more about the role Oracle’s Generation 2 cloud has in underpinning a wide variety of new cloud services such as Oracle’s Autonomous Database.  Autonomous functionality is very important to cybersecurity as a large percentage of system breaches are the result of not being able to respond to events, self-patch or self-tune to mitigate against compromises or outages. Secure by design – in fact, having security architected into every layer– Oracle Generation 2 Cloud is designed to configure, manage and secure systems for the customer, based on their requirements. Human error is removed because processes are no longer manual, and patches are applied automatically in the background while running to avoid downtime. The same applies to data encryption, backup and a general enforcement of security policies.

As an example, Oracle Data Safe was just one of several next-generation cloud security services introduced at OpenWorld this year. Data Safe helps organisations protect their databases more effectively in a way consistent with best practices. Data Safe can identify sensitive data and mask it for use in partner or development environments. It also alerts on risky users and system configurations, and proactively monitors database activity to spotlight and respond to suspicious access attempts. After all, data is at risk from both external threats and those – whether accidental or deliberate – within organisations.

Such cloud-embedded simplification of security tasks for businesses is particularly relevant in Kenya, where there were only 1,700 skilled cybersecurity professionals in the country in 2018. Generation 2 Cloud security measures help to fill a noticeable gap and keep organisations safe.

The narrative around cloud and cybersecurity is also changing worldwide. Security in the cloud is now being recognised as secure, or more secure, than what can be achieved on-premise by 72% of those surveyed in the Oracle and KPMG Cloud Threat Report 2019. Security is now named as the biggest benefit to cloud by 66% of C-level executives, putting it ahead of both cost and scalability.

Data security is also closely linked to compliance in terms of handling personal information. Oracle’s second-generation cloud security solutions are designed to keep sensitive data safe and out of sight on Oracle cloud databases thanks to automatic encryption, advanced access controls, always-on separation of duty, data masking and redaction. It’s one of the reasons, Rakuten Securities, Japan’s largest online financial brokerage company, chose Oracle Database Security to address their strict regulatory requirements, while efficiently managing social security and tax ID numbers for 2 million customer accounts across a complex network of disparate systems.

With financial losses, fines and reputations at stake, it is critical for companies to ensure the security of their data and resiliency of their systems in the face of continually evolving threats and regulations. With Generation 2 Cloud, the burden shifts from enterprises to Oracle, and with Oracle’s embedded AI doing most of the work, customers have the chance to really innovate instead of expending so much time and manpower on patches and staying up to date with defensive measures. Cloud services are a viable option for the most critical enterprise workloads. Fears around data security should never hold an organisation back from exploring this path to greater, immediate business value.

David Bunei is the Managing Director for Oracle Kenya.

[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

[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.

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Oracle to expand cloud infrastructure globally

Technology company Oracle has announced plans to expand quickly its cloud infrastructure around the world for hosting customer applications.

The company launched 12 new cloud regions in the past year, and plans another three new sites this year as part of the expansion announced in October 2018. Additional redundant and new sites will be added over the coming year, to take the company to a total 36 cloud regions around the world.

Based on customer feedback, the company has decided to build redundant regions in almost every country where it operates.

This will occur over the next 15 months, while also adding multiple new countries. When the expansion plan is completed, Oracle will have multiple regions in 10 countries and the EU, and multiple government clusters. It’s adding in total 20 new regions to the 16 it already operates – 17 for commercial use and three for government use.

New regions will be built in the Bay area in California; Montreal; Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Newport, Wales; Amsterdam; Osaka, Japan; Melbourne; Hyderabad; Chuncheon, South Korea; Singapore; Jeddah and another city (TBD) in Saudi Arabia; Dubai and another city (TBD) in UAE; Israel (city TBD); South Africa (city TBD); and Chile (city TBD). The government regions will be Newport and London in the UK and in Israel.

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Microsoft and Oracle partner to interconnect Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud

Microsoft and Oracle have announced a cloud interoperability partnership enabling customers to migrate and run mission-critical enterprise workloads across Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud.

Microsoft and Oracle have announced a cloud interoperability partnership enabling customers to migrate and run mission-critical enterprise workloads across Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud. Enterprises can now seamlessly connect Azure services, like Analytics and AI, to Oracle Cloud services, like Autonomous Database. By enabling customers to run one part of a workload within Azure and another part of the same workload within the Oracle Cloud, the partnership delivers a highly optimized, best-of-both-clouds experience. Taken together, Azure and Oracle Cloud offer customers a one-stop shop for all the cloud services and applications they need to run their entire business.

Connecting Azure and Oracle Cloud through network and identity interoperability makes lift-and-improve migrations seamless. This partnership delivers direct, fast and highly reliable network connectivity between two clouds, while continuing to provide first-class customer service and support that enterprises have come to expect from the two companies. In addition to providing interoperability for customers running Oracle software on Oracle Cloud and Microsoft software on Azure, it enables new and innovative scenarios like running Oracle E-Business Suite or Oracle JD Edwards on Azure against an Oracle Autonomous Database running on Exadata infrastructure in the Oracle Cloud.

“As the cloud of choice for the enterprise, with over 95% of the Fortune 500 using Azure, we have always been first and foremost focused on helping our customers thrive on their digital transformation journeys,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and AI division. “With Oracle’s enterprise expertise, this alliance is a natural choice for us as we help our joint customers accelerate the migration of enterprise applications and databases to the public cloud.”

“The Oracle Cloud offers a complete suite of integrated applications for sales, service, marketing, human resources, finance, supply chain and manufacturing, plus highly automated and secure Generation 2 infrastructure featuring the Oracle Autonomous Database,” said Don Johnson, executive vice president, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). “Oracle and Microsoft have served enterprise customer needs for decades. With this partnership, our joint customers can migrate their entire set of existing applications to the cloud without having to re-architect anything, preserving the large investments they have already made.”

As a result of this expanded partnership, the companies are making available a new set of capabilities. This include connecting Azure and Oracle Cloud seamlessly, allowing customers to extend their on-premises datacenters to both clouds. Customers will also get a unified identity and access management, via a unified single sign-on experience and automated user provisioning, to manage resources across Azure and Oracle Cloud. Also available in early preview today, Oracle applications can use Azure Active Directory as the identity provider and for conditional access.

Other capabilities include supported deployment of custom applications and packaged Oracle applications (JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, Oracle Retail, Hyperion) on Azure with Oracle databases (RAC, Exadata, Autonomous Database) deployed in Oracle Cloud. The same Oracle applications will also be certified to run on Azure with Oracle databases in Oracle Cloud. A collaborative support model to help IT organizations deploy these new capabilities while enabling them to leverage existing customer support relationships and processes. Oracle Database will continue to be certified to run in Azure on various operating systems, including Windows Server and Oracle Linux.

“The alliance between Microsoft and Oracle is welcome news as we accelerate Albertsons’ digital transformation and leverage the full value of the public cloud,” said Anuj Dhanda, executive vice president and chief information officer at Albertsons Companies. “This will allow us to create cross-cloud solutions that optimize many of our current investments while maximizing the agility, scalability and efficiency of the public cloud.”

“As we look to bring our omnichannel experience closer together and transform the technology platform that powers the Gap Inc. brands, the collaboration between Oracle and Microsoft will make it easier for us to scale and deliver capabilities across channels,” said Sally Gilligan, chief information officer at Gap. “The interoperability between Azure and Oracle Cloud allows us to deploy Oracle or custom-built applications on Azure and Oracle databases on Oracle Cloud.”

“At Halliburton, we have a long history of running both Oracle and Microsoft technologies for our most critical applications. Our deep experience with these two strategic vendors has yielded consistently stable and performant application deployments,” said Ken Braud, senior vice president and CIO at Halliburton. “This alliance gives us the flexibility and ongoing support to continue leveraging our standard architectures, while allowing us to focus on generating business outcomes that maximize returns for our shareholders.”

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[Column] Ade Famoti: Autonomous IT, empowering business to be its best

In Kenya, cloud is no longer just a possibility, it is the fundamental tool igniting innovation

Cloud computing is rapidly becoming an essential component of business transformation. In Kenya, cloud is no longer just a possibility, it is the fundamental tool igniting innovation. At a high level, cloud is an economiser, requiring no massive start-up costs before results can be realised. Cloud is also an enabler: the very best technologies, ready to be put to work to help organisations innovate and differentiate.

But as technology has become essential to the operation of modern business, and complex, organisations such as banks, retailers and many others have found that to be leaders within their chosen fields, they have also had to become exceptional in terms of their understanding and use of technology.

Take banking as an example. A bank’s core purpose is to be the best bank it can possibly be, not to run the best ‘tech-shop’. The thing is, over time, banks have become ever more reliant on technology to enable that purpose.

And as that dependency has grown, so their requirement for staff to manage that technology has grown. This has resulted in the creation of sizeable groups of staff who are dedicated to servicing technology in the back end, rather than servicing customers. But customers don’t choose a bank because it has the best possible back-end technology. They come because it offers the best products combined with the best customer service.

That vision of being the best possible bank might be powered by technology, but it is the technology at the front end that makes the biggest impact in the eyes of the customer – and you can’t invest in front-end systems if most of your resources are devoted to maintaining systems at the back-end.

New wave of technology

Perhaps it is time that we let organisations get back to focusing on what they are best at – be that retailing, banking, or whatever their core mission is – and leave technology to look after itself.

It sounds like a fantasy, but it is the promise made by the newest wave of business technology innovation – autonomous technology. Combining the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, autonomous technology delivers the capability for IT systems to self-manage, self-repair and self-secure across a wide range of functions and applications.

Let’s take a step back to understand the concept of machine learning. While machine learning itself can be unduly complex, the basic ideas are easy to grasp. Let’s use the example of a business process both familiar and highly important to most organisations: selecting and on-boarding job candidates.

The basic components would start with a training data set: a complete history of all candidates selected and hired, their key attributes, how they were on-boarded, and their eventual performance in the organisation. Next, an analysis engine would extract key features that contributed to candidates’ success and create a recommendation engine that would rate new applicants and their likelihood to thrive at the organisation.

So far, this scenario is somewhat similar to data analytics, except that the algorithms decide which factors matter and which ones do not. Machine learning goes one step further. It processes ongoing results of those candidates, and continually updates its recommendation engine rules over time.

It learns from actual experience, and thus it makes better decisions over time. Think of adaptive intelligence as data-driven learning at vastly increased speeds compared with humans.

When applied in a database, autonomous technology can not only automate the process of cleansing and organising data, it can also ensure patches are applied and the data is secured. And when applied in a data warehouse, autonomous technology can interrogate data to find correlations and patterns across structured and unstructured data, and then present these as insights back to business users.

This is not a vision of the future, it is a capability that Oracle is making available to the market now. And it can do all of this with minimal human intervention.

Remove complexity, add value

The key difference with autonomous technology is that it eliminates complexity.

This frees people from performing many of the tedious tasks associated with managing backend technology, allowing them to focus on tasks that will make a real difference to their organisation and their customers.

As technologies such as AI, machine learning and intelligent process automation become more widely available, finance leaders want to know: How can these technologies help me in my business?

At Oracle, we are embedding intelligent digital assistants into our products and applications. In finance departments, digital assistants can perform similar functions to automate repetitive processes that consume employee hours – time that could be better spent on higher-level tasks such as faster decision-making and architecting a new financial strategy. Soon you’re going to see digital assistants help your organisation speed up financial year end, manage budgets, and perform financial forecasting. When viewed from an organisation-wide perspective, autonomous technology means getting back to focusing on what the organisation does best, safe in the knowledge that the technology is taking care of itself. So we can finally let organisations get back to doing what they do best. Ade Famoti is the Director, Sales Strategy & Business Development – Africa at Oracle

[Column] Christine Ambetsa: Data Security; embracing autonomy and intelligent machines

The National Cybersecurity Centre (NCC) detected over 3.8 million cyber threats between July and September 2018 according to the Communications Authority of Kenya’s first quarter sector statistics report for 2018/19.

CIOs are operating in a state of heightened awareness. Their mission-critical systems are increasingly under threat from constantly evolving viruses and hacks, making it tougher than ever to defend the lifeblood of their business – data.

The National Cybersecurity Centre (NCC) detected over 3.8 million cyber threats between July and September 2018 according to the Communications Authority of Kenya’s first quarter sector statistics report for 2018/19. The cyber threats detected varied from denial-of-service (DOS) including botnet and brute-force attacks that led to denial of computer services and illegal access to computer systems, online impersonation via social media accounts and domain names, malware including phishing attacks and online abuse including online fraud to name a few.

Unsurprisingly, nearly a third of Kenyan CIOs state that their key focus area is advanced security solutions, the second highest priority listed after disaster recovery and business continuity.¹

Security is hard

Simply put, security is hard. Much of it comes down to the way IT has evolved – as an open environment. For years, people and businesses have purchased disparate products, disparate servers, disparate operating systems and disparate databases and then connected them all together. The unintended and unfortunate result is that lots and lots of individual pathways have been opened up in the corporate system.

As a result, what’s sprung up around these corporate systems is a cyberspace battlefield, in which nobody is safe. Even IT professionals are combatants on that battlefield, tasked to make the right security choice every day, because if you don’t, you’re putting the future of the business at risk.

Adding even greater significance to the security mandate today is the advanced and persistent nature of today’s threats. Malicious actors are seemingly always one-step ahead and in order for enterprise security forces to do their job, they must exercise constant vigilance and innovation.

So how can businesses move forward with confidence and continue to build their data assets, while at the same time facing up to the barrage of security threats?

A new kind of defence

The answer is a new kind of defence; one that pits machine against machine so that organisations have a nearly impenetrable barrier to protect their data and their cloud.

Hackers are already wise to the power of letting machines do the work. Right now, for many organisations this battle takes the form of their malicious bots versus your people trying to defend from inside the business. But in this scenario of machine versus man, which do you think is faster? Who do you think will win?

To give your business a fighting chance in protecting its data, you need a defence system that’s completely automated, and even autonomous. With autonomous data management, database threats can be discovered automatically and then repaired. No human beings are involved. Patches are immediately applied while the database is running, which means you don’t need to wait around to find a window of downtime. This is essential for protecting your data on-premise and in the cloud.

Security in the cloud

The current state of cloud defence, in many cases, is just not good enough – not even close. The smartest technology companies are routinely penetrated, as we’ve seen in the unending stream of media stories about businesses having vast quantities of their data stolen. Even the most security-conscious government agencies are also vulnerable.

And because organisations don’t exist in isolation protection is needed both within the company and without. So, the cloud/s they run on also need robust cyber defences using the latest artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies; to find threats and kill them; to search and destroy. Again, the only way to win is to make the battle robots versus robots. It’s the only way to protect the cloud infrastructure without having both hands tied behind your back.

The good news is that the government intends to focus on emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud solutions and data analytics; this pronounced focus will be a key driver for the local ICT market according to the IDC’s Kenya Enterprise ICT Market Outlook for 2018 and 2019.

Time to let machines take the lead

We’re already seeing some companies turning to use systems like the autonomous database for better protection – and without the additional overheads.

Take National Pharmacies, an Australian pharmacy chain, for instance. The company has to be able to move its data at speed for life-saving insights, but needs autonomous capabilities to keep protecting its database without human intervention; as it can’t risk loosening any security or privacy practices at any point.

So, with attacks becoming more frequent, and attackers getting smarter and businesses data more vulnerable, it’s time to let machines take the lead on the cybersecurity battlefield. In doing so, companies will then have at their disposal, the most advanced tools in order to fight – and win – against the most advanced threats.

Christine Ambetsa is the Regional Applications Sales Leader – East Africa at Oracle

[South Africa] MTN selects Oracle Cloud Applications to drive digital transformation

MTN has chosen Oracle Cloud Applications to drive one of the largest digital transformations in the global telecom industry across all its core business operations.

South Africa based mobile telecommunications major; MTN has chosen Oracle Cloud Applications to drive one of the largest digital transformations in the global telecom industry across all its core business operations. The implementation will help MTN drive efficiency, scale operations and integration across its local and regional operations.

“MTN and Oracle partnered in 2018 to complete the design of the Oracle Cloud Applications. 2019 focuses on finalising the build and deploying across our markets,”  said Belinda O’ Neil, Executive Boost, MTN.

The Oracle suite of cloud applications will also help MTN improve working capital through efficiencies in inventory management and reduce obsolescence. The implementation will drive further productivity through automation, self-service, IoT and mobile application capabilities; besides also enhancing management visibility across all business operations for real time performance measurement.

“With clear signs of economic recovery across key African markets, MTN’s decision to undertake large scale digital transformation will be instrumental in achieving strategic business objectives,” said Arun Khehar, Senior Vice President – Business Applications, ECEMEA, Oracle. “We are confident that the deployment of the Oracle Cloud enabled digital core will help MTN deliver value for all stakeholders and create differentiation needed to achieve market leadership.”

Under this initiative, MTN will implement Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP); Supply Chain Management (SCM); Enterprise Performance Management (EPM); Customer Experience (CX); Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Oracle Service Cloud solutions. 

www.mtn.com

www.oracle.com