[South Africa] IDU expands its cloud offering through partnership with Microsoft Azure

South Africa’s Idu-Concept, has expanded its cloud offering through a partnership with Microsoft Azure.

IDU has made its flagship idu-Concept suite of products available on both a private and public cloud platform. This will enable companies large and small to cost effectively access the full idu-Concept suite of budgeting, forecasting, reporting and analytics products.

Businesses can choose to use the IDU private cloud platform through our partner CipherWave, or through a cloud provider of their choice, or through the IDU Software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution harnessing the power and scalability of the Microsoft Azure® Cloud Platform. Microsoft launched its local Azure services in early March 2019, located in its data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town. This is good news for our South African customers, both in terms of scale, availability, as well as data resilience and compliance with regulations such as the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) in terms of storing personal identification information locally.

IDU Cloud offers world class CPM capabilities without large capital expenditure outlays. Instead of buying costly servers, a cloud platform offers access to state-of-the-art infrastructure, security, reliability, scalability and performance.

Businesses can get up and running quickly with the IDU Cloud (SaaS) offering.

The solution is constantly updated to the newest release, which ensures our cloud customers will always work with the latest functionality, without having to worry about software installation and upgrades.

Decision makers can have instant access through the cloud to critical business insights securely, anywhere and anytime, through a computer or any internet-enabled mobile device.



[Column] Paul McIntyre: Cloud evolution does not mean demise of IaaS

The evolution of cloud technology has awakened a desire by businesses to fast-track the development of platforms in order to capitalise on Customer Experience (CX).

There is widespread opportunity to up the level of traditional customer engagement and many companies are introducing cloud solutions to maximise these opportunities – however, the consumer is a lot more tech-savvy and are aware of the choice they have in technology available, says Paul McIntyre, CX Executive at Elingo, a Johannesburg-based leader in ICT and cloud solutions.

“Leading platform providers, like Genesys, are accelerating efforts to position their cloud offerings in the local market. Other solution providers and integrators have deployed cloud offerings to market, so there is now choice. What is becoming the next big differentiator is the expertise and professional services to match cloud offerings to the business requirements in both process, integration and business logic,” says McIntyre.

Elingo believes the South African cloud market is expected to grow, particularly in the deployment of platforms and solutions as businesses negotiate compliance with regulation like PoPI.

“South Africa has embraced Customer Experience as a business differentiator, this is really an exciting space for us, this implies new and interesting business strategies which in turn will drive platform metamorphosis,” adds McIntyre.

He says this is where cloud and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) come into their own… “speed of deployment, lower cost barrier to these solutions all that will be required is to select the most experience solution provider for the requirements.”

According to McIntyre there is speculation in the market as to whether or not the advent of cloud will ultimately lead to the demise of IaaS – but he believes there is no way IaaS is on its way out and there will always be a requirement.

“It will depend on the maturity of the customer, physical requirements, geographical location (Africa has its own specific challenges), and appetite to move to the cloud. A service provider who provides solutions across all options is going to be key selection criteria,” McIntyre continues.

Exactly what approach a business should take really depends on resources, core requirements, budget and practicalities.

If a company is looking to hand over complete ownership and responsibility, then cloud is very attractive says McIntyre.

“This will then also remove cost of expertise that could still be needed in the business and allow the business to refocus those resources in other areas. Depending on business requirements and practicalities, there may even be a requirement to bring all technology and services in-house, but working with a service provider that understands both technology, ability of technology to meet business requirements and costing models, will provide clarity to business as to the best solution for them,” he adds.

Irrespective of approach, the reality of operating in today’s market is that there are advantages and disadvantages to IaaS.

McIntyre explains that the disadvantages include dependency on a service provider, the speed of execution, skills and technical understanding to match business requirements to technology are all external to the business.
“At the same time the advantages are freedom from hardware upgrades, operating system upgrades, uptime, all the elements that make IaaS a very real business consideration will always be there,” he says.Elingo has the resources, expertise and experience to add value and guide the market, to leverage the cloud and IaaS approach to infrastructure management.

Paul McIntyre is the CX Executive at Elingo, a Johannesburg-based leader in ICT and cloud solutions.

South Africa Rugby Union names Microsoft its official cloud partner

Microsoft South Africa has announced that it is the official cloud partner of the South African Rugby Union (SARU). The partnership aims to transform the world of rugby by using cloud capabilities to unlock new opportunities for SARU in this ever-evolving world of digital transformation.

The digital revolution has unlocked new opportunities for clubs, leagues and federations to challenge the convention to re-think how sports is played, coached, watched, and experienced. Using the cloud Microsoft works to help sports organisations like SARU embrace digital transformation, connect with their fans worldwide, provide more personal experiences and improve and create revenue streams.

Jurie Roux, Chief Executive Officer of South African Rugby Union believes, “The partnership with Microsoft will create an opportunity for us to develop innovative solutions to do things that weren’t possible previously”.

“In today’s hyper-connected, data-driven digital economy, sport like every other industry, is experiencing a massive digital transformation. Those who are early adopters are winning and we’re proud to be the official cloud partner of a winning team.  

By working together with SA Rugby, we can deliver an enhanced viewing experience where passion and technology intersect”, says Kethan Parbhoo, Chief Operations and Marketing Officer at Microsoft South Africa.


[Column] Henning Lange: Why businesses can really count on cloud

Migration to the cloud is on the rise with more businesses adopting cloud solutions to realise the benefits. Cloud is no longer a mystical concept, but a concrete pipeline to a more flexible, cost-effective work environment.

This is according to IT solution and service specialists at Johannesburg-based leading ICT company Elingo.

The progressive cloud-focused business believes that the majority of businesses are at least curious about cloud development, solutions and implementation, knowing that there are definite advantages   – although there is still some level of apprehension.

Kobus Potgieter, Chief Financial Officer – Elingo, says, “The migration from desktop solutions to cloud solutions in the accounting world has been phenomenal. There has been substantial investment in cloud solutions, which drives further migration.

Cloud is the answer to the ‘do anything from anywhere’ technology question, says Jannie Pretorius, COO at Elingo.

“Real cloud allows services, accessibility and ‘yet-to-be-discovered ways of communication’ accessible from any location at the most relevant time. It truly is a technology and concept ahead of its time, with the mobile device revolution being just one of cloud’s success stories,” says Pretorius.

But he acknowledges that some businesses do not yet see the relevance of cloud in their space.

“… and that is because the word cloud is simply a reference to a magnitude of possibilities, rather than something specific to that business. A deeper dive is required to see where the value proposition is: reduced Infrastructure costs and no more ‘upgrades’ (because the cloud version of that product is always on its latest release). Moreover, no VPN required while in many cases being completely operating system independent.”

Executives from Elingo list advantages associated with migration to the cloud, incorporating services and solutions, as faster turnaround through streamlined processes and delivery mechanisms, flexibility, scalability, being able to shift from a Capex to Opex finance model, and improved control over resources – especially data.

Businesses can benefit from better holistic security: the security services found in public clouds are more advanced than what many enterprises can afford on premises, and it’s much easier to implement says Henning Lange, CIO at Elingo.

“The cloud is now politically correct: Just a few years ago, the mere mention of putting workloads in a public cloud was practically like punching a co-worker in the face. Those days are over. Now you’re considered out of touch if you don’t at least consider cloud computing. The number of cloud services and solutions continue to rise and outperform the functionality and availability of existing on premises solutions,” he says.

Limitless scalability

Pretorius adds: “True cloud offers seemingly limitless scalability as it relies on independent micro services rather than fully featured applications. These services scale up and down based on demand without any impact to end users, and without any intervention from application providers.”

But there are challenges and this is contributing towards the apprehension.

Making a full transition to the cloud can sometimes be challenging, so here is where hybrid cloud solutions will play an important role adds Lange.

“With a hybrid cloud, companies can transition to the cloud at their own pace, with less risk and at a lower cost,” he continues.

Pretorius makes the point that many businesses confuse cloud with hosted. “They could not be more different, the same concerns that exist with an on-premise solution exist for a hosted solution – if done via a provider, it is just hidden but the end product will still be limited in the same ways. Examples could be restrictive scalability, or less functionality than the traditional on premise version of that solution. It will never be able to realise the potential a true cloud solution offers.”

Whatever the challenge, experts at Elingo say the right service provider partner makes all the difference.

“The fast paced adaptation of cloud requires a partner who can adapt to-and integrate with existing systems and legacy technology without any negative disruptions to the business. That means staying forces on achieving business goals,” says Sabashni Moodley, Chief Support Officer at Elingo.

Henning Lange is the CIO at Elingo.

[South Africa] Microsoft opens first data centres in Africa with general availability of Microsoft Azure

Microsoft has today announced the opening of its first datacentres in Africa, with the general availability of Azure from the new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. This makes Microsoft the first global provider to deliver cloud services from datacentres on the continent, which will help companies securely and reliably move their businesses to the cloud while meeting compliance needs.

“Microsoft Azure is now available from our new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will create greater economic opportunity for organisations in Africa, accelerate new global investment, and improve access to cloud and internet services,” said Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president, Azure Networking, Microsoft.

Ibrahim Youssry, general manager, North, West, East, Central Africa, Levant & Pakistan, Microsoft said, “Today is a milestone moment in bringing the global cloud closer to home for African citizens and businesses. Enterprises across Africa can now take full advantage of the many benefits of Microsoft Azure, using cloud services to maintain security and meet compliance standards.”

According to the Cloud Africa 2018, the use of cloud among medium to large organizations in Africa has more than doubled between 2013 and 2018. Due to the benefits of cloud in offering efficiency and scalability, more than 90 percent of surveyed companies in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria have plans to increase their spending on cloud computing in the next year.

However, a secure offering remains important in maintaining this momentum, with many African CEOs being concerned about cyber threats.

“Microsoft has deep expertise in protecting data and empowering customers around the globe to meet extensive security and privacy requirements, including offering the broadest set of compliance certifications and attestations in the industry,” adds Khalidi. “We look forward to supporting more African enterprises in their cloud journeys and offering a trusted path to digital transformation.”

 With a network of over 10,000 local partners – and a nearly 30-year history of operating on the continent – the new datacentres form part of Microsoft’s ongoing investment to enable digital transformation across Africa.

 In 2013, Microsoft launched its continent-wide 4Afrika Initiative where it has been working with governments, partners, start-ups and youth to develop more affordable access to the internet, 21st century skills, and locally relevant technology. Most recently, this included a partnership with FirstBank Nigeria to expand cloud services and digital educational platforms to SME customers.

In Kenya, Microsoft is expanding FarmBeats, an end-to-end approach to help farmers benefit from technology. FarmBeats strives to enable data-driven farming, bringing together traditional knowledge, intuition and data to help increase farm productivity and yields.

On the skills development front, Microsoft has established a network of more than 800 Microsoft Imagine Academies across Africa, offering students of various age groups direct training in the technology field. In partnership with the African Development Bank, Microsoft is also rolling out `Coding for Employment` to create more than 25 million jobs and reach 50 million youth and women across Africa.

“We’re working with partners to accelerate cloud readiness and adoption in Africa, ensuring enterprises can deliver services to market faster, businesses can make more data-driven decisions, and governments can better connect with citizens,” adds Youssry. “As we connect more businesses to Azure, we’re seeing heightened innovation in the cloud and start-ups expanding their services to new markets. The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will now connect businesses with even more opportunity and customers across the globe.”

Azure is the first of Microsoft’s intelligent cloud services to be delivered from the new datacentres in South Africa. Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity solution, is anticipated to be available by the third quarter of calendar year 2019, while Dynamics 365, the next generation of intelligent business applications, is anticipated in the fourth quarter.


[Column] Christian Mahnke: Migration is no longer about adopting a cloud-first approach

The cloud first approach made popular in 2018 is no longer hailed as the answer to cloud domination. Instead, migration in 2019 will be more carefully considered and measured.

The cloud first approach made popular in 2018 is no longer hailed as the answer to cloud domination. Instead, migration in 2019 will be more carefully considered and measured.

 A forced approach towards cloud is not ideal. While insight into cloud has improved and uptake is on the rise, lessons have already been learnt and the approach for 2019 is to only migrate what is suited to the public cloud. A hybrid approach will also continue to drive cloud adoption throughout 2019. 

The benefit of legacy application migration is to not only increase agility, but more importantly, it must provide both business and operational efficiency. If migration doesn’t make financial sense, then it shouldn’t happen. Furthermore, migration should ensure the infrastructure is reliable and has greater scalability, resulting in an improvement in overall agility as well. 

While many enterprises are realising these benefits as opposed to a cloud-first gamble, the question still remains in terms of legacy applications and what to do? Is moving them more beneficial than them staying on premise? 

While new applications, or those developed with the cloud in mind, can benefit from cloud technology and will perform better in a cloud environment, the same cannot be said for legacy applications. 

There are four main factors affecting the success of legacy application migrations:

Lift and shift approach: in some cases, legacy applications may just “lift and shift” into the cloud without much effort. Even if the legacy application performs no better in the cloud, a cloud hosted legacy application might fit well into the organisation’s cloud strategy, which wants to host all their applications – old and new – in the cloud.                                                                                               

Refactoring: this involves a more advanced process of re-architecting, and recoding, certain parts of an existing application to take advantage of cloud native functionality. In this way, organisations can take full advantage of cloud-native features to maximise operational costs in the cloud. This is probably the most time-consuming and resource intensive option but ensures the lowest monthly spend of all migration options.

Break-up and re-assemble: in some cases, the migration of monolithic legacy applications into much smaller micro services could be seen as a challenge on its own. Applications might have to be broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks and then re-assembled for cloud use, a process which is obviously fraught with all sorts of integration/migration/assembly challenges, but what other option is there when faced with migrating a large legacy application.

Leave it alone: this is not a migration strategy, but rather “best to leave it alone option”. Not all legacy applications should be migrated into the cloud or stuck into containers or micro services. We should remember that some legacy applications are more than 10 to 20 years old, they were developed in a pre-cloud era, they were developed using COBOL and FORTRAN, and they were not developed to benefit from cloud native frameworks or functionality. Many were huge applications, developed over years and enhanced many times over, some losing its sophisticated coding standards and slipping into the world of spaghetti code, deeply entwined with their databases or operating system, with many external interfaces, or licensing restrictions, that they cannot be moved anywhere, never mind into the cloud. 

Some organisations assume that moving applications into the cloud will automatically increase performance but have then been disappointed when this did not happen. Latency issues can occur when applications and data are split, or hosted in separate environments, and response times can be affected because some applications require excessively high I/Os which may not be available in the cloud. Some legacy applications simply won’t function better in the cloud. 

Migrating legacy applications into the cloud is no easy task. There are many options and partnering with the right company to ensure your approach is a success is vital.

Christian Mahncke is Business Development Manager at Routed, Cape Town, South Africa.

Utimaco and Astel sign distribution partnership for HSMs in the Africa region

Astel, a leading provider for IT infrastructure and office automation solutions on the African continent, and Utimaco, the global number two in Hardware Security Modules (HSMs), have announced a distribution partnership for the Africa region.

HSMs by Utimaco provide the ‘Root of Trust’ to a wide range of industries, encompassing financial and payment services, the automotive industry as well as cloud and IT services in the public sector.

Over the last 35 years, Germany-based Utimaco has built its market leading position through highest quality products and support, a comprehensive partner network and a steady focus on compliance.

This is reflected in numerous certifications, including the recently achieved Common Criteria (CC) EAL4+ certification for its CryptoServer CP5 HSM, FIPS 140-2 Level 3 and Physical Security Level 4.

Yuvraj Jobanputra, CEO of Astel, said: “For African organizations, digital information and electronic transactions play an increasingly significant role in their daily business operations. This development goes hand in hand with strict data security regulations looking to minimize the risk of cyberattacks. Utimaco’s flexible and cost effective HSMs provide our customers with both the needed hardware security and extensive regulatory compliance. With this new partnership, we further strengthen our position as a leading distributor for IT infrastructure and office automation solutions on the African continent.”

Stefan Auerbach, CEO of Utimaco adds: “This partnership marks an important step into the region for Utimaco, bringing us another step closer to our local customers in order to be able to cater for their needs in an even more efficient manner. It is a great match and complementary for both organizations. Astel’s reach across Africa allows us to further expand our global footprint, arming customers in the area with leading state-of-the-art hardware security to better protect themselves. We look forward to the unique opportunities this cooperation will bring.”



[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.