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New cloud services business emerges from big deal

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EMC and VMWare have announced plans to form a new cloud services business by combining their respective cloud capabilities.

Following Dell’s record-breaking acquisition of EMC Corporation, the storage giant and VMware have announced plans to form a new cloud services business by combining their respective cloud capabilities, along with existing Virtustream cloud offerings, under the Virtustream brand. Virtustream will be jointly owned by VMware and EMC and led by Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream. Virtustream’s financial results will be consolidated into VMware’s financial statements beginning in Q1 2016.

Virtustream is expected to generate multiple hundreds of millions of dollars in recurring revenue in 2016, focused on enterprise-centric cloud services, with an outlook to grow to a multi-billion business over the next several years. Virtustream will be a leader in hybrid cloud, one of the largest markets for IT infrastructure spending. The company will provide a complete spectrum of managed services for on-premises infrastructure and its enterprise-class Infrastructure-as-a-Service platform, enabling customers to move all their applications, including mission-critical applications, to cloud-based IT environments. Virtustream will offer a compatible public cloud experience for customers who deploy the Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud solution within their business.

“Through Virtustream, we are addressing the changes in buying patterns and IT cloud operation models that we are seeing in the market. Our customers consistently tell us that they are focused on their IT transformations and journeys to the hybrid cloud. The EMC Federation is now positioned as a complete provider of hybrid cloud offerings,” said Joe Tucci, EMC Corporation Chairman and CEO.

The new business will incorporate and align the cloud capabilities of EMC Information Infrastructure, VCE, Virtustream and VMware to provide the complete spectrum of on- and off- premises offerings including: VMware vCloud Air, VCE Cloud Managed Services, Virtustream’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service, and EMC’s Storage Managed Services and Object Storage Services offerings.

Virtustream will integrate these assets to provide customers with a unified infrastructure-as-a-service offering, designed to support the complete spectrum of business workloads, with a service portfolio that spans a full range of services and deployment options. The business will integrate and extend existing on-premises EMC Federation private cloud deployments into the public cloud, maintaining a common experience for developers, managers, architects and end users. Virtustream’s cloud services will be delivered directly to customers and through partners.

VMware will establish a Cloud Provider Software business unit led by Ajay Patel, VMware senior vice president, focused on delivering cloud software and solutions to cloud providers including VMware’s vCloud Air Network, to help them rapidly harness the opportunity of the hybrid cloud. This new unit will incorporate assets and people from the VMware vCloud Air Application Services business, vCloud Director and vCloud Air Network teams, as well as Virtustream’s Software Business including Advisor Planning and Migration tool, xStream cloud management platform and Viewtrust governance, risk and compliance solution.

Market opportunity

Nearly one-third of all IT infrastructure spending is going to cloud-related technologies, according to a recent 451 Group report1. In addition, the focus of Cloud Services buyers is seen to be shifting up to the application stack. The demand for a simple infrastructure on demand utility is giving way to higher levels of interest in solutions that include integration and management. Enterprise adoption overall is still on the rise with a shift in focus to private & hybrid architectures. The Global ERP market is estimated to reach $41.2B by 20202 with Cloud-based ERP now growing faster than on-premises ERP3.

Executive quotes

Rodney Rogers, Chief Executive Officer, Virtustream

“I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to lead the new Virtustream,” said Rodney Rogers, CEO for Virtustream. “Our vision of combining our IP and collective cloud platform and services capabilities for mission-critical applications, backed by the strength and reach of EMC and VMware will deliver an enterprise-focused hybrid cloud solution that is unrivaled in the market. We expect Virtustream will become one of the top 5 service providers globally and are thrilled about what this means to all of our customers, partners, and the Federation moving forward.”

Pat Gelsinger, Chief Executive Officer, VMware

“The new Virtustream business will feature the industry’s broadest portfolio of hybrid cloud offerings, enabling customers to move all their applications to cloud-based IT environments and seamlessly manage their on-premises and off-premises environments.  We see tremendous growth opportunities for VMware and EMC with the new Virtustream business, building on the strong momentum of vCloud Air.”

David Goulden, Chief Executive Officer, EMC Information Infrastructure

“This is an exciting time for the EMC Federation of businesses, and today’s news is central to our strategy to help customers move all of their applications to the cloud. The new Virtustream business will enable customers to implement a hybrid cloud-based IT environment that incorporates the best of both public and private cloud quickly, and from one source. The Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud solution, along with the addition of Virtustream and vCloud Air cloud offerings, will not only offer customers choice and flexibility, but also will help them react quickly to optimise growth and transform their businesses.”

 

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VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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