[South Africa] KiaraHealth taps SAP cloud solution to streamline operations

Companies wishing to transform their operations through digital technologies often face a hard choice: stay with a legacy system and make the best of a legacy investment, or transition to a new digital platform but risk causing disruption in the lives of customers, partners and employees.

For one African pharmaceutical company, neither option was suitable, and so an exemplary digital transformation project was initiated that would completely transform its systems without any disruption to the business or its customers.

Kiara Health (Pty) Ltd is an African pharmaceutical manufacturing and healthcare solutions company headquartered in Johannesburg. It serves as a the local, non-exclusive manufacturing partner for a global top five pharmaceutical company and as a commercial partner for several global pharmaceutical and medical technology companies.

The acquisition by Kiara Health of a multinational pharmaceutical manufacturing facility, sold to fulfil a need for transformation in the local pharmaceutical sector, sees the dawn of a new type of pharmaceutical company that offers an end-to-end solution along the patient journey. Kiara Health, a 100% black-owned company, purchased this plant together with twenty-five marketing authorisations.

Kiara Health’s leadership was left with a vital decision: keep to the highly-customised SAP ECC system of the outgoing multinational company, with cost-prohibitive separation terms, or invest in a standalone cloud-based digital platform to streamline operations. They chose a turn-key ERP system by SAP to support its operations.

Dr Skhumbuzo Ngozwana, CEO and President of Kiara Health, says that the driving force behind the leadership team’s decision was to ensure that their customers do not suffer due to a transition to the new system. “We partnered with Seidor Westrocon and adopted SAP S/4HANA to simplify and automate our end-to-end processes, from product ordering through to production, packaging and distribution. We achieved go-live in four months, and within budget, with no disruption to our business. This implementation is potentially unprecedented in an organisation of similar size and type.”

This decision has proven to be a success story as the transition from the old multinational modified system to the implementation of an off-the-shelf SAP offering ensured that the production facility remained operational throughout the SARS-CoV-2 lockdown period. Without any teething problems that would halt manufacturing, no employee jobs were put at risk due to the lockdown.

“This decision was taken by an extremely agile and highly qualified team of experts within Kiara Health and fully supports President Cyril Ramaphosa’s South African Economic Recovery Plan to generate 800,000 jobs,” says Dr Ngozwana. “Kiara Health sees these executions as part of their mission to progress the health of all on the continent, underpinned by job creation and not ‘job saving’.”

The manufacturing site previously operated on a complex and expensive legacy enterprise resource planning system. However, with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, local manufacturing capability became more important than ever for new owners, Kiara Health. The company needed a system that could increase throughput by streamlining processes across business areas, and which could place greater control in the hands of the leadership team.

“We consolidated our operations on a standalone cloud-based digital platform with SAP S/4HANA Cloud,” says Dr Ngozwana. “This off-the-shelf solution gave us a flexible yet standardised system that is adaptable to our needs, allowing us to maintain best-practice. It has also future-proofed the digital foundation of our business, and enables our Industry 4.0 aspirations for the future.”

The implementation involved all Kiara Health stakeholders that are currently still involved in ensuring world-class manufacturing from the site. These experts worked in close collaboration with implementation partner Seidor Westrocon to develop a deep understanding of each department’s responsibilities, and how the SAP processes can support them.

“The transition from working in multinational company silos to operating as a team has improved our internal responsiveness and enabled significant value creation across our supply chain, procurement and manufacturing processes,” says Moosa Areff, Kiara Health Chief Operating Officer.

The implementation team streamlined Kiara Health’s procure-to-pay processes to shorten the time between order placement and goods receipt. Following the implementation, the company has reduced its days to close from eight days to one, greatly improving cash planning.

“We have tightly integrated and simplified on-time delivery processes to enable our team to get through work faster and troubleshoot with full visibility,” says Dr Ngozwana. “Each team member can diagnose any challenge to understand what is impacting production or the release of the end-product. The improved usability and support has helped us reduce the total cost of ownership by 10%, while our on-time and in-full delivery performance has improved from 80-85% to 100% – an outstanding achievement.”

Following the implementation, Kiara Health has enjoyed higher settlement discounts and improved brand reputation thanks to direct payment cycles. Costs are also contained due to greater visibility and through leveraging economies-of-scale in the procurement process.

“Our business is now more responsive as our planning and production teams are connected to our warehouse,” says Conrad Strydom, Kiara Health Head of Site . “We are also enjoying greater end-user sourcing compliance and increased savings in sourcing, in both direct and indirect spend. As a whole, the implementation of SAP S/4HANA has empowered our teams to make better decisions and improve the total performance of our business, setting us up for a bright future.”

On Kiara Health’s role in the implementation, Martin Van Wyk, Managing Director of Seidor Westrocon says the collaboration was first class. “The Kiara Health and Seidor Westrocon teams worked unwaveringly during the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa, and pulled off the project and go-live together. The contribution from the Kiara Health leadership team, with their deep understanding of their business operations, extensive process knowledge and SAP expertise, was a considerable game-changer, making this mammoth task achievable. A big thank you to this team.”

Cameron Beveridge, Regional Director for Southern Africa at SAP, says Kiara Health has reduced complexity in its environment through greater control across its operations. “By building its operations on the powerful S/4HANA digital platform, Kiara Health has achieved immediate business benefits while enabling greater future innovation and easing the process of integrating Industry 4.0 innovations. Transforming its total operations in a mere four months with no impact on product or service delivery is a great accomplishment by Kiara Health and its implementation partner Seidor Westrocon.”

www.kiarahealth.com

www.sap.com

[South Africa] Stanlib enables remote working on Nutanix infrastructure foundation

Nutanix, a company involved in enterprise cloud computing, has announced  that South African financial services company, Stanlib, is working with the company to secure additional nodes that enable the organisation to provide virtual desktops to employees that have been required to work from home during the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in the country.

South Africa saw hard and fast Level Five lockdown restrictions being implemented in late March 2020, leading to all but essential service businesses having to close through to the end of April. However, being in the financial services sector required STANLIB to maintain trading conditions while prioritising the safety of its employees, resulting in the business enabling a host of employees to work from home. With little to no warning of the government’s intentions, STANLIB had to quickly find a practical solution that would support this move and allow employees access to their applications securely.

“Fortunately, having just completed a significant Nutanix roll out, which has seen 95% of STANLIB’s production environment being run on the Nutanix platform. We did not have to reinvent the wheel but rather identify how best to introduce new nodes to expand on our current capability. Ease of use and scalability were key considerations. Additionally, the ability to run Citrix as securely as possible given the governance requirements around data management had to be ensured throughout the process,” said Dipesh Nagar at STANLIB.

With Citrix being a group standard across STANLIB, the Nutanix environment had to enable users to have millisecond access to their applications. The guaranteed performance was a business priority. One of the advantages of the Nutanix infrastructure is that STANLIB can expand on its existing enterprise cloud environment, which it uses for crucial business applications to deliver these to its work from home users. The scaling out of STANLIB’s existing private Nutanix cloud was a straightforward process, didn’t require a significant investment of resources on new equipment, and it repurposed the hardware it already had in place for Citrix Hosted Shared Desktops and a remote work offering.

Subsequently, STANLIB has grown its 20 node Nutanix environment to now encompass 26 nodes still running Acropolis Ultimate Edition including Prism Central while now also having Citrix solutions in place. The advantages of being able to access VDI infrastructure are significant. Not only does this result in a simplified IT environment, but it also increases security that is mission-critical for STANLIB. Employees can remain productive wherever they are and can still access essential information, products, and services from the datacentre just as if they were sitting in the office.

“Nutanix has positioned us strongly to evolve as the world changes and to be able to meet any changes in an agile manner. This enables STANLIB to deliver high-quality customer service irrespective of what is happening in terms of the lockdown. While it is difficult to predict what the future work environment will look like once we have moved past the COVID-19 pandemic, using Nutanix has given STANLIB the peace of mind we need that we can reliably and securely meet any requirement. The scalability of the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform makes future growth virtually limitless, and we can plan for any scenario while still delivering the business continuity and disaster recovery aspects so essential for the financial services market,” added Nagar.

“As a longstanding customer and early adopter of Nutanix, STANLIB has always set the bar in embracing change and being able to adapt their systems to the needs of the business,” stated Paul Ruinaard, Regional Sales Director at Nutanix Sub-Saharan Africa. “The speed of completion and the agility with which it was done stands as a testament to the importance STANLIB place on IT functioning as a business enabler. They are one of only a few financial services companies that were able to effect this change as quickly as they did and as a result, ensure business continuity throughout the lockdown.”

Considering how access to sensitive data has become a target for increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, being able to leverage Citrix in a high available Nutanix environment enables STANLIB to provide the right level of access based on each employee’s location, device, and several other factors. Today, irrespective of whether a remote worker accesses the STANLIB environment from a desktop, laptop or tablet, Nutanix and Citrix deliver the response times required to remain as productive as possible with no impact on the employee experience.

www.nutanix.com

www.stanlib.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.teraco.co.za

www.routed.co.za

ContinuitySA launches cloud-based backup and replication solution for SMEs

ContinuitySA, Africa’s provider of business resilience services and a Veeam Platinum Partner, is launching Cloud Connect, a cloud-based backup and replication service for the small and medium enterprise (SME).

 The offering is particularly relevant now as companies of all sizes move aggressively onto digital platforms to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis, according to Renier du Plessis, Cloud Manager at ContinuitySA.

“The current emergency demonstrates graphically just how important a company’s ICT systems are in giving it the flexibility to adapt to today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. The shift to digital is now irreversible,” he says. “Now, more than ever, it is vital that, in the event of a disaster, companies can recover their systems and data in the shortest space of time, or risk losing customer confidence, revenue and even brand equity.

“The cloud has emerged as a key platform not only for ICT systems but for their recovery. However, SMEs have typically lacked a genuinely easy-to-use solution that will not commit them to high management costs—until now.”

Mr Du Plessis says that ContinuitySA Cloud Connect is an unmanaged service, which keeps costs to a minimum. No upfront capital needs to be committed as payment is based on a monthly fee depending on usage. This fee includes the necessary Veeam licence, unless the client already has one, plus the storage space for the backups on ContinuitySA’s world-class cloud infrastructure.

 “The Veeam console is extraordinarily well-designed and easy-to-use, so companies have full control of the backup process, from configuration through to reporting, scaling up or down, restores, failovers and configuration changes. It’s literally a point-and-click environment. This reduces costs considerably but also means that everything happens very quickly—there’s no waiting for a third party to get things done,” he points out. “And because it’s an OPEX model, it’s easy to manage costs.”

Veeam Cloud Connect thus provides a cost-effective way to tailor an effective, safe and reliable way to mitigate risks in line with the company’s risk profile and appetite. It makes it possible for an SME to follow the 3-2-1 rule for data backups: three copies on two different media, one offsite.

All data is encrypted from the moment the backup process is initiated until it’s safely in ContinuitySA’s cloud repository. As a leading provider of business continuity services, ContinuitySA’s data centres are maintained to world-class standards, with 24/7 monitoring, backup power, UPS systems, backup diesel and water, and fully redundant communications links.

With more than three decades of experience in business continuity experience across the continent, ContinuitySA has the know-how to help clients build resilience into their operations, providing executives, directors, suppliers, clients and regulators with peace of mind. ContinuitySA will help with scoping the solution and provide training on the Veeam console as needed.

ContinuitySA’s skilled and experienced support staff is available for any post-implementation help that is required—again on a pay-as-you-use basis. The company has a name for the quality and responsiveness of its support.

“Cloud Connect finally gives SMEs a way to create and manage their own, individually tailored, cloud-based backup and replication solution easily and cost-effectively, while also gaining the peace of mind of a trusted partner in ContinuitySA,” he concludes. “This is the backup solution the SME market has been waiting for.”

www.continuitysa.com

[South Africa] SA Taxi adopts FICO’s cloud-based solutions to drive lending growth

SA Taxi, a financier of over 10 percent of South Africa’s minibus taxi fleet – the nation’s most affordable public transport used by 15 million people daily – has introduced FICO’s cloud-based decision management solution to drive lending growth of 25 percent. The FICO® Blaze Advisor® Decision Rules Management System has also reduced decision time on applications from two hours down to 10 minutes, while improving controls, capturing rules and creating an audit trail.

Rapid growth had meant the company’s manual processing system was becoming overwhelmed – with a lack of consistent and timely decisions adversely affecting business growth.

“When credit changes were required, they were simply added to the queue with the rest of our IT changes – which always had a higher priority,” said Itumeleng Nomlomo, senior credit analyst at SA Taxi. “This left the business with no option but to resort to manual decisioning, which really constrained our agility and created a number of issues such as inconsistent credit decisions.”

SA Taxi implemented FICO’s Blaze Advisor solution to integrate automated decision-making into its origination process. The decision management solution ensured reliable and consistent credit decisions that were in line with its strategy and business rules. Its cloud-based application lifted the infrastructure burden being placed on the business, which had become considerable. And its flexibility allowed SA Taxi’s business managers to configure rules without development/technical support from FICO, as and when its strategy changed.

“SA Taxi has embraced the power of a cloud deployed solution and reaped the rewards through incredible improvements in agility and efficiency,” said Michelle Beetar, managing director for sub-Saharan Africa at FICO.  “By automating the decisioning element, the team has been able to spend more time on strategy, analytics and enhancing the current process.”

For its achievements, SA Taxi won a 2019 FICO® Decisions Award for Cloud Deployment.

“SA Taxi has overcome the challenge of translating what seems to be a simple idea into a workable solution,” said Denise Sleem, functional specialist Afrocentric Technologies, one of the FICO Decisions Awards judges. “SA Taxi has really impressed by building a flexible solution to support the growth needs of their business and their clients through their digital transformation project.”

www.sataxi.co.za

www.fico.com

[Nigeria] Actis acquires majority stake in Rack Centre, announces plans to build a $250 million African data centre platform

Leading investor of private capital into global emerging markets, Actis has acquired a majority stake in Nigeria’s leading, independent, co-location business, Rack Centre. 

Rack Centre owns and operates a certified Tier III data centre in Lagos. It has the largest installed capacity in West Africa hosting over 80 international, regional and local clients. With over 35 carriers connecting to the facility, as well as hosting Nigeria’s internet exchange, Rack Centre is the most connected facility in the region and links every country on Africa’s Atlantic coast.

The investment into Rack Centre will fund a rapid expansion of the data centre, doubling the existing modular capacity and developing a traditional-build scale data centre on the same premises. This will create the largest data centre outside South Africa with hosting capacity in excess of 10MW over the near term.

Actis is already one of the largest real estate and power generation investors in Africa. The firm has also created a Chinese data centre platform, Chayora Holdings, to develop hyperscale data centre facilities in Tianjin and is exploring other Asian markets.

 “We have been tracking the data centre market in Africa closely, building relationships with key operators and customers. Africa is at an inflection point and we expect to see an explosion in growth of demand for hosting capacity in independently owned data centres across the continent.” David Morley, Head of Real Estate at Actis, said:

“We are excited about this new partnership with Rack Centre and its promoter Jagal Investments.  Together they have built a strong business of international repute, hosting a compelling mix of customers ranging from leading Nigerian corporates to global cloud majors.” he added. 

Ayotunde Coker, Managing Director of Rack Centre said “It has been a great honour to lead the growth of Rack Centre to become one of the most respected carrier neutral data centre brands in West Africa. Rack Centre is now at a key juncture and my team and I are excited with being part of the future growth. With over 750kW of installed capacity, it is now doubling capacity to 1.5MW of IT power at the currently location on a trajectory to 10MW”

 “Jagal is excited with its new partnership with Actis. Rack Centre has developed into a leading and respected African brand and it is now at a critical stage for investment and growth. Actis understands global and emerging markets and will be a fantastic partner for the next phase of the Rack Centre journey” Maher Jarmakani, CEO of Jagal added. 

Actis is the largest private equity GP in Africa having committed US$4.5bn to the region over the last 15 years.

Actis has also announced plans to establish a US$250 million pan-African data centre platform. The buy and build platform according to the company will comprise of independently owned, carrier neutral, data centres across key African markets.

www.act.is

www.rack-centre.com

[South Africa] Cloud market moving from supply-driven to demand-driven, says Routed

Vendor neutral cloud infrastructure provider, Routed, says that four years ago the development of the local cloud landscape was still in its infancy. Managing Director, Andrew Cruise, says that in the time since launching Routed, cloud demand has increased: “The market is moving from supply-driven to demand-driven. While the enterprise sector has taken time to embrace the cloud-concept, we have noted an increase in demand from these organisations.”

He says that the enterprise sector has moved into the driving seat, demanding cloud solutions. This about-turn was predicted according to Cruise: “We knew that the industry needed time to mature and better understand what digitilisation would mean to the success and longevity of their businesses. Where four years ago, owned equipment (either on-premise or collocated) was the outright preference as opposed to public or private cloud, we are now seeing a shift.”

While this shift may imply significant movement, Cruise cautions that cloud growth locally remains small. In particular, private cloud uptake is low and in fact, he says it has never really taken off: “The issue with private cloud is that the definitions tend to vary, which makes it difficult to understand or obtain a firm view of the uptake. Bear in mind that having dedicated equipment that is virtualised does not mean that it is a private cloud.

“When considering public cloud, the local sector seems to have a mixed bag of hosting implementations, but very few that are comparable to a true cloud experience, similar to that provided by the hyperscalers.”

Cloud platform providers have launched some compelling products that will assist in the migration to, and provide easy management of applications in, a legitimate public cloud, but still offer it in a secure and private way: VMWare’s vCloud Director is the standout example.

Lack of cloud skills remains another issue the industry has to address. Cruise says that the channel needs to address their ability to implement bona fide cloud strategies: “It is very important to ensure that you select the correct cloud partner. They need to focus on cloud as their primary business and have the skills to architect, deploy, secure, manage and support cloud infrastructure.”

www.routed.co.za

[Column] Andrew Cruise: Mastering the complexity of multicloud in 2020

As enterprises’ demands look set to continue maturing in 2020, they are better able to distinguish between cloud platforms and identify which ones work best for their applications. “It’s no longer about moving to cloud, it’s about which cloud,” says Andrew Cruise, managing director at Routed, Africa’s only vendor neutral cloud infrastructure provider.

“Now that market penetration of cloud, particularly internationally, has hit a critical mass, we see enterprises are much more confident about moving workloads than before when it appeared they would be on the bleeding edge. While there are still some concerns around uptime, performance and security, these are largely being addressed without any need to reinvent the wheel,” he says.

Multicloud is already broadly being achieved through SaaS applications like Salesforce.com and Office365, through utilising an enterprise’s own on-premise infrastructure, and via several other cloud platforms. “True multicloud however, involves IaaS from multiple providers across native hyperscale IaaS (or PaaS) as well as private cloud, both hosted and on-premise.” In order to successfully implement multicloud, Cruise notes that an enterprise would need to replace parts of their overall infrastructure estate, either by re-hosting workloads (lift and shift) into a hosted private cloud, or re-architecting applications in a cloud-native way to suit native hyperscale clouds. Secure connectivity, either through VPN, SD-WAN or private circuit, is also must.

He adds that because the biggest benefit of multicloud is the way in which it lends itself to a best of breed approach. “Not one single cloud can ever be the silver bullet to solve all an enterprise’s problems. Cloud only, hybrid cloud, or on-premise only solutions are already legacy and too restrictive. Utilising a hosted private cloud for traditional applications as an initial ‘lift-and-shift’ can make it easier to digitally transform by alleviating pressures on on-premise resources and allow them time to properly re-architect suitable applications in the native hyperscale cloud.”

While the benefits of multicloud are impossible to overlook, enterprises need to think carefully about the best strategies for managing the complexity of multicloud environments. It is not possible to manage multicloud effectively on-demand, manually, without automation, says Cruise. Similarly, human expertise will always be required.  Any kind of one-size-fits-all thinking is bound to fail. Further, workload migration between on-premise and cloud and between cloud and cloud is non-trivial and the difficulties should not be underestimated. Unless one standardises on a single platform across multiple clouds, for example, VMware ESXi (which is available on local VMware cloud providers and on all the major hyperscalers too), the ideal of frictionless migration between clouds is a pipedream,” he says.

Andrew Cruise is the managing director at Routed.

[South Africa] iOCO joins Google cloud partner programme

South African integrator iOCO has become a Google Cloud Distributor Authorised Reseller (DAR), in partnership with Google Cloud’s distributor in sub-Saharan Africa, Digicloud Africa.

DARs demonstrate deep cloud solution development and delivery expertise, and have extensive certifications confirming their skills and knowledge of Google Cloud.

IOCO passed all formal requirements set out by Google Distribution for entry into the programme, and Digicloud Africa has verified its capabilities. iOCO has invested in further certifying and training its Google Cloud team.

[Column] Johan Scheeper: Be data ready in 2020 by tackling key data issues

Data is an intrinsic part of business processes and also a source of competitive differentiation thanks to the potential of data analytics

Data is an intrinsic part of business processes and also a source of competitive differentiation thanks to the potential of data analytics. Data has become a mission critical business asset, which means that organisations need to be able to discover, protect and use it effectively and in a timely manner.

This concept is known as being ‘data ready’. While there are many factors affecting an organisation’s data readiness, three key issues will be prevalent in 2020: ransomware, multi-cloud environments and data compliance regulations. Tackling these key data issues can help organisations to be data ready in 2020.

Ransomware is rampant

Ransomware is a threat to each and every business today. In fact, it is so prevalent that an attack has become a matter of ‘when’ and no longer ‘if’. High-profile data breaches were a common theme in 2019, and many attacks caused several days of service outages.

A new malware threat called ‘wiper’ is also becoming increasingly prevalent. This malicious software does exactly as the name suggests – rather than holding data to ransom by encrypting it, it actually erases it from its storage media. This changes the game completely.

A data wipe is not about money, it is completely malicious and an outright hostile attack. Paying the ransom or de-encrypting ransomed data by other means is not an option. If you do not have an effective backup and recovery solution in place, and you are ‘hit’ by a successful wiper attack, your data is gone.

The ability to recover from a malware attack involves more than Disaster Recovery (DR). Manual backups and attached storage can also be infected, which means that having multiple backups is no longer enough. Being data ready in the case of malware means we have to think differently about business continuity.

It is imperative to have strategies in place to detect anomalous behaviour within data storage as well as backups and archived, so that attacks can be identified quickly and suspicious behaviour can trigger alerts to notify the correct people.

The key to a data ready recovery system is rapid, frequent and separated backups that allow you to bring key systems back online immediately while you ascertain where an attack came from, isolate it and remove it.

Managing data in multiple clouds

Most organisations already exist in a multi-cloud environment, even if they are unaware of this fact. Whether it is a hosted Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, Office 365 or some form of cloud storage like Google Drive or iCloud, these solutions are frequently found in the makeup of businesses. On the other side of the coin, there is also no organisation that is completely 100% in the cloud.

This multi-cloud hybrid scenario creates the need to be able to move data between systems. There are many reasons why data may need to be moved, either between clouds or between the cloud and the premises. The underlying common factor is that business models need change, so data architecture needs to be able to adapt. This is part of data readiness – the ability to drive economies between cloud and on-premises solutions to maximise cost and benefit while minimising risk.

This, in turn, requires central visibility into all data across all of the various areas of storage. It is critical to data readiness to have a central management layer or platform in place to consolidate the view of data across the organisation. Without this visibility, it is impossible to migrate data to leverage the best provider or location to meet changing business needs.

Meeting compliance requirements

Data is becoming increasingly regulated and it is not enough to know that you have the data, you also need to understand the purpose for which it was collected. Companies must have a record of the consent from the consumer to use the data for its intended purpose and the ability to comply with the ‘right to forget’ should the consumer request this. This is an imperative of all data privacy regulations.

Data readiness means having a way of consistently knowing where data is, what type of data it is and the sensitivity of the information. This requires specific tools, as manually identifying sensitive data is simply not possible given the volumes of data in business today. It is also important to enable search and discovery to enable the ‘right to forget’ and then prove that the data has been removed, including from backups.

Be data ready in 2020

It is absolutely essential today to know what data you have, the purpose for which it was collected, and that it is adequately protected and can be recovered in the event of a data loss event. It is also critical to ensure that backups are protected and that they are tested to ensure that data recovery is possible.

Data readiness enables business agility by ensuring that data is available at all times in the right location to the right people. This means that your data can be leveraged to create business value. However, it is impossible to manage what you do not know exists.

Essentially, the ability to deal with pressing issues such as ransomware, the multi-cloud and compliance boils down to data governance and effective data management, which lie at the heart of data readiness.

Johan Scheepers is the Country Head at Commvault in South Africa.