Tag: cloud

Tech trends SA companies care most about right now

Dimension Data has released its latest digital workplace report, highlighting which technologies South African companies are currently developing and working with.

In South Africa, Dimension Data spoke to 73 respondents of companies with at least 1 000 employees, from large businesses with headquarters in the region.

The companies surveyed reported that mobility was still the most important area for supporting broader digital workplace initiatives.

27% of organisations said that embracing multiple-device-ownership models (BYOD, COPE, company-liable) is the most important technology trend, and 89% identify mobile devices and business applications as being technologies that support business process improvement.

This was followed by an embracing of the consumerisation of IT (25%) as well as an increasing demand to make video communication more pervasive (21%), said the report.

“Ensuring that employees are well-connected and empowered with mobile technologies and applications has resulted in enterprise mobility becoming a key theme of broader digital transformation efforts,” said Dimension Data.

“Those leading on enterprise mobility strategy development and implementation should therefore ensure that mobility initiatives map well against broader digital transformation business objectives.”

Cloud

South African organisations are also turning to the cloud as an alternative to traditional on-premise deployments of workplace technologies.

For communications tools, such as WebEx and desktop video conferencing, 34% of South African organisations have deployed these in their own private cloud environments.
For collaboration applications, such as SharePoint and enterprise social, 22% of South African organisations have deployed these in their own private cloud environments.
For business applications, such as ERP, 18% of South African organisations have deployed these in their own private cloud environments.
“A better cost model is the top reason South African organisations are moving to cloud applications,” said Dimension Data.

“In time, organisations will rely more on fully hosted services for a wide range of digital workplace technology. The opex model is attractive to companies trying to rein in capital expenses, and cloud-based applications are considerably easier to keep up to date.”

However, it noted that many cloud-based applications do not yet meet the security and compliance requirements of many organisations.

Organisations also have existing assets that they own, that work well, and that do not need to be retired, it said.

“For example, 62% of South African organisations host business telephony applications on-premise, with only 5% being deployed in a private cloud environment. For this reason, managed services remain attractive for large organisations, which rely on them heavily as a way of keeping IT costs to a minimum.”

Enterprises are also turning to hybrid deployment models to keep one foot firmly planted in the current world of premise based technology whilst taking their first steps toward the cloud.

Hybrid deployments let organisations move some workloads to the cloud whilst retaining others on premise.

“Organisations with security or compliance concerns can keep applications on site or in private data centres under their own management whilst moving other, less sensitive applications to the cloud. Enterprises with significant investments in systems and applications deployed on premise can transition them to the cloud over a period of years, retiring legacy technology slowly as it becomes obsolete.”

Looking forward

Consumerisation and migrating to the cloud may occupy the minds of CIOs focused on here-and-now issues around digital transformation. However, those keeping an eye to the future see the dawn of a whole new set of technologies that will shape the digital workplace for years to come.

These primarily take the form of augmented reality which has practical uses for field technicians and other specialists needing instant access to information and AI/machine learning which are helping organisations derive insight from vast quantities of data and helping get the right information to the right people at the right time.

Unsurprisingly, the Internet of Things is also dovetailing with – and increasingly driving – a greater reliance on automation in the enterprise, as sensors variously monitor and control lighting, door locks, vehicles, medical equipment, manufacturing machinery, surveillance cameras, and other systems.

75% of South African organisations say they will have a practical use case for augmented reality technologies within the next two years.

The percentage of South African organisations (26%) that say they will never have a practical use for augmented reality technologies aligns quite closely with the global findings, which show that 34% of organisations see no value in this technology.

“It is still very early days for augmented reality technologies, especially in the enterprise context,” the group said.

“The focus is still very much on the hardware, as opposed to the new business outcomes that the hardware could potentially help support. The value of augmented reality technologies needs to be better communicated and in contexts that resonate with enterprises. A more enriched app ecosystem that supports the core technology will be vital to its enterprise success.”

“As this develops, and as the use cases for the technology become better contextualised, the value proposition of AR will be better understood by organisations across industries.”

21% of South African organisations are investing in intelligent agents now, and 18% are investing in IoT, but investment will increase significantly in those
areas over the next 24 months.

“Undoubtedly, however, it is analytics tools that interest South African organisations the most. Strong investment is planned in the area of workplace analytics, with 94% identifying that some form of investment will be made in this area over the next two years.”

“The most important use case for these analytics tools will be in managing the employee lifecycle and improving the customers experience.”

Source: Business Tech

Choosing a digital HCM solution

Five years ago, industry leaders questioned whether payroll, accounting or any other business software service could be delivered in the cloud. Questions raised at the time were around security and efficacy benefits.

Based on an article by Louis Columbus on Forbes.com however, PwC is predicting that by 2016, investment in SaaS (software as a service) solutions will more than double to around the $78-billion while traditional HCM (human capital management) systems will decline over 30% to less than $15-billion. So what does a cloud based HCM solution look like versus the traditional HCM model?

Let’s first take a look at what an effective HCM business solution can do – among other things, it needs to run your monthly Payroll and Human Capital Management, including Leave Applications, Succession and Talent Planning, Training and Skills Management, Business Process Workflow and Performance Management. The resource efforts, time and financial support required to manage this function without the correct solutions in place, are often the reason a business may not run efficiently.

Delivering a HCM solution that offers all of these features and more is one thing; being able to deliver this in a real time, cloud-based, operationally efficient solution is genius and will become the status quo of the future.

  Cloud Based Solution Web Enabled Solution
Design A cloud based solution is designed with scalability and usability as a key element of its architecture A web enabled solution is developed for limited access and requires PC installation which becomes available via a web browser for remote access
Installation There is no hardware or software installation required with a cloud based solution and it is accessible through a standard web browser A web enabled solution may require VPN (Virtual Private Network) or Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) access which will need to be installed per client and makes access tedious and technical
Updates/Management With a cloud based solution, regular updates are rolled out instantaneously via multi-tenancy configurations that can be managed at no additional cost by the vendor Web Enabled Solutions require manual administration for each instance of the software which leads to delayed updates and upgrades
Flexibility Cloud based solutions are highly configurable due to its intended purpose of serving a wide spectrum of client requirements Web enabled solutions require customisation in order to cater for certain requirements. This is costly and makes upgrades technical and tedious
Accessibility As Cloud based solutions are built on an open API platform, it allows for any 3rd party product to integrate with ease Web enabled solutions do not lend themselves to integration options which results in complex projects to extract people related data
Security Reliable SSL Connections and data encryption at rest (protecting data which is not moving through the networks) ensure security across Cloud based solutions ‘Installed’ solutions cannot easily satisfy global security best practice requirements
Business Continuity Cloud based solutions ensure that disaster recovery is part of their delivered solution Web enabled solutions do not provide disaster recovery options and need to be manually designed

The effects these differences can have on business HCM solutions are obviously huge. Clients can work from a single instance, multi-tenant, real time platform that offers consolidated payrolls and HR data – in PaySpace’s example – across 37 countries. Support for a cloud based solution is instantaneous without the time and resource requirements which mean quicker product and feature dissemination, regular updates and solution enhancements and lower operational costs. All-in-all, cloud based solutions offer a far quicker turnaround time end-to-end without the financial burdens traditional models may incur. Features also grow organically based on the consistent client interaction, so like with the African tax example, opinions and regular updates improve tax attitudes and interpretations.

A cloud solution should be able to give you instant updates with no annual license fees (as software nor hardware needs to be purchased therefore alleviating the need for exorbitant up-front set up fees), automatic system enhancements, in this case, specifically around legislative updates, be cost effective and offer real time solutions that are accessible from any mobile device (smartphone or tablet) that is backed up. cloud based solutions can attract and improve staff retention, improving business output, encourage better resource usage by focusing on more advanced areas of business growth and of course, increase the bottom line.

PaySpace, a Frost & Sullivan 2015 South Africa award winner in Product Leadership of the Year for Enterprise Resource Planning Systems, says their cloud based application has benefited their customers by being scalable, meaning their multi-tenant infrastructure makes is easy to increase computing capacity for the entire environment. The performance or nature of the multi-tenant architecture of the PaySpace solution makes it easier to maximise the performance of different elements built into the technology that ensures optimum and reliable output at all times. PaySpace’s upgrades are simple and instantaneous as they are disseminated from a centralised location and because cloud based service providers have a vested interest in ensuring successful usage; accountability becomes an attractive product feature. These updates ensure PaySpace customers are always fully tax compliant, with all legislative checking processes stipulated by the 37 countries in which they operate.

“PaySpace has positioned itself as a leading end-to-end human capital management (HCM) software developer and provider. Owing to a pay-as-you-use model, its customers have the flexibility to readily change their payroll and HCM as the need arises,” says Frost & Sullivan best practices analyst, Fadzai Deda.

“With the increase in spending budget on HCM solutions forecasted by Frost & Sullivan to increase at a compounded rate of 11,6% between 2013 and 2017, slow adoption and understanding of cloud solutions by business entities due to information security concerns will continually be a challenge industry participants will need to face despite positive growth prediction,” says Warren van Wyk, Director of PaySpace. “It is imperative that businesses understand cloud based vs web enabled HCM solutions so business decisions today can positively influence the technology need of tomorrow,” concludes van Wyk.

V for virtualisation

Two recent IT innovations – cloud computing and virtualisation – are slowly but inexorably reshaping service provider and enterprise networking and business models. One measure of this growing influence: nearly half of the 287 network operator respondents to Arbor Network’s 2014 Worldwide Infrastructure Security report offer a wide range of cloud and hosting services.

“These large network operators are quickly realising new operational efficiencies and monetisation opportunities from virtualising (‘cloudifying’) their infrastructure and services. The ability to add capacity dynamically when and where it is needed, so service velocity keeps pace with the needs of 21st century Internet users, is no doubt a key technical and economic driver behind these initiatives,” states Talbit Hack, manager for DDoS and ISP Visibility Product Management at Arbor Networks, a leading provider of DDoS and advanced threat protection solutions for enterprise and service provider networks.

Hack points out that network virtualisation, in particular, is taking multiple forms, including abstraction of software from dedicated service delivery infrastructure, software-defined networking (SDN), and virtualisation of network functions (NFV) that were previously performed by discrete devices.

“Virtualisation of service delivery infrastructure is already implemented or well underway in most service providers’ data centres and hosting environments; transformation is still lagging in the transport and access parts of the network. They see virtualisation as a way to abstract software from the underlying physical infrastructure, lower their equipment costs and separate network control from traffic forwarding. Their ultimate aim is to simplify and ‘flatten’ the network and allow for more dynamic, scalable associations of network processes with service activities; in other words, to create a framework for deploying services in a more agile way from a pool of virtualised resources,” he says.

In light of ambitious technical and business goals, virtualisation represents a significant enabler and disrupter. As traditional network architectures come under increasing strain and operational demands, virtualisation in its various forms holds the promise of making them more open, predictable, flexible, user- and service-friendly and lower cost to operate. But it will also almost certainly make networks more complex to integrate, manage, support and secure on a large scale, requiring a radical shift in operational assumptions and best practices.
“Virtualisation clearly has value wherever services need to be deployed in an agile, dynamic way and to help absorb episodic and unpredictable traffic, however there are still cost and performance benefits to purpose-built networking systems in certain applications and at large scale. Rapid price/ performance improvements in commodity server architectures are closing the gap, yet these platforms do not yet scale for complex, high-capacity network applications such as core routing and threat protection,” explains Hack.

Virtualisation also introduces new challenges from a security perspective. For example, how do you provide traffic visibility into these dynamic, complex new virtual networking environments when traditional telemetry protocols such as NetFlow, SNMP, BGP, and more, may not be present? And how do you protect virtualised network and security functions – including the API services that underpin these functions – from protocol misuse and other unsanctioned inter-functional communication resulting from malicious acts as well as simple misconfigurations? “These and other as-yet-undiscovered architectural vulnerabilities will no doubt be addressed over time, but they nevertheless highlight the complexities inherent in major technology migrations,” adds Hack.

Network operators have traditionally designed networks to be cheap to buy. Managing cost has been of paramount concern due to the complexity and enormous fixed costs to build and operate a network. But in the Internet age, rolling out compelling services demands far greater flexibility and speed than is possible with the static, manually intensive networks of today. So now operators must design them to be cheap to buy as well as fast and flexible to operate.

According to Hack, Arbor’s efforts are focused in the three areas where the greatest benefits for its customers is identified: redirecting traffic via SDN control; leveraging the power of the network (that is, to provide overall visibility as well as to detect and block security threats as data centre forwarding fabrics evolve); and, virtualising Arbor’s platforms and services for seamless integration with both legacy and next-generation networks.

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