Enterprise stores on average 50 per cent of their data in branch offices, to which they dedicate half of their total IT budget. In practice, this means half of the IT organisations are using outdated methods of operation, writes ELKHAYAT, REGIONAL of Riverbed Technology.
Today’s enterprises store on average 50 per cent of their corporate data in branch offices, to which they dedicate half of their total IT budget. In practice, this means half of today’s IT organisations are using outdated methods of operation which, in addition to being costly and complex to manage, limit IT’s ability to proactively respond to businesses’ ever-changing needs, prevent security breaches, and recover from unplanned outages.
As a result, some organisations are taking a new approach to branch IT, in order to improve system performance and resiliency, ensure reliable data backups, and greatly reduce operating expenses. While equipping edge locations has traditionally been all about infrastructure — the hardware, routers and switches, backup systems, and software that are there to make employees as productive as possible — enterprises are asking themselves what it takes to manage their remote locations efficiently. What are the operational costs associated with their infrastructure? How is employee productivity affected by their decisions?
To answer these questions, organisations should review the following checklist, which includes items relating to:
· Infrastructure: What are the key traits of a modern edge infrastructure?
· Operations: What are the costs associated with managing edge infrastructure?
· Business needs: How can organisations maximise their return on investment?
To ensure secure and efficient IT in remote offices and branch offices (ROBO), organisations should ensure the following when planning their infrastructure:
1. Ensure compute is separate from data: Modern infrastructure separates compute, which should remain at the edge, from data storage, which should be centralised. This approach yields a stateless edge and eliminates many operational challenges and costs.
2. Centralise data storage: Organisations should store 100 per cent of their company data in the datacentre where it can be managed and protected. From there, it can be projected to the edge on an as-needed basis. This removes sensitive information from vulnerable remote locations, and gives IT teams far more control over the data.
3. Centralise backup: Edge-based backup can be expensive and error-prone. Instead, data backups should be centralised in the datacentre, and be automated and continuous. This will ensure backups are reliable and efficient, while significantly reducing costs.
4. Optimise the WAN: Wide area network (WAN) optimisation helps further streamline branch infrastructure by accelerating branch user applications and data traffic across the optimal networks at the lowest cost. As WANs are notoriously unreliable and do not offer protection against the creation of localised pockets of systems and information stores, organisations should implement the use of specialised tools that enable the convergence of IT systems and applications with WAN optimisation technologies. In this way, they will achieve maximum performance across distance.
5. Encrypt all data: To help protect against cyber threats, all company data should automatically be encrypted at both when it’s at rest (both in branch offices as well as in datacentres) and when it is being transported back and forth.
IT teams need to be able to quickly provision and manage edge infrastructure in a timely and cost-effective way. They can achieve this by ensuring the following:
6. Carry out fast provisioning: The IT team should be able to update edge locations with new applications and features, and provision a new edge location from the organisation’s central datacentre in minutes — without costly and time-consuming onsite visits.
7. Ensure fast ROBO recovery: When an unplanned outage occurs, rapid recovery is a must to keep business operations up and running. So that operations resume in minutes or hours and with minimal loss of working data, IT needs to be able to initiate the recovery process from the datacentre.
8. Protect data: From an operational point of view, data encryption should be available at rest and in motion, and backups should be affordable, automatic, centralised, and continuous.
9. Manage storage in the cloud: So as to avoid excessive storage costs and operational overhead, organisations should eliminate storage in edge locations, making them stateless edges. A good way to achieve this is by taking advantage of cloud storage’s low costs.
In order to satisfy infrastructure related business needs, organisations need to ask themselves several questions: Does their infrastructure help them stay competitive and act quickly in the face of changing markets? Can the business satisfy customers’ needs around the clock? How can the organisation get products to market faster? How does your infrastructure investment drive business ROI?
10. Keep employees productive: IT can contribute to increasing employees’ productivity by enabling them to access applications, updated data and information, any time, any place.
11. Achieve business continuity: If a disaster strikes, IT should be able to quickly recover data and applications. The team should also have the tools needed to shift operations to a different region without much loss of time or data.
12. Make the business agile: The organisation’s infrastructure should let the business respond to changing market conditions by quickly provisioning users with new applications and features. It should also provide the ability to quickly open new locations in order to take advantage of new opportunities.
With remote offices and branch offices playing a crucial role in modern business, today’s enterprises have entered a new era with new technologies and new thinking about edge IT investments. In order to achieve operational cost savings, rapid service deployment, and instant recovery — all while providing unmatched data protection — IT needs to understand what’s happening across the business and act accordingly. By ensuring that the right tools and processes are in place, organisations can ensure the security, resilience and flexibility they need to meet today’s business needs.
Mobile is the new branch
Standard Bank has launched an account for mobile devices that gives back 500MB of data a month
Standard Bank has introducd a R4.95p/m bank account called MyMo that customers can open on their mobile devices, loaded with data and airtime offerings and other benefits such as virtual and Gold physical card.
MyMo account holders will also enjoy the convenience of a cheque account through a Visa and Mastercard gold card. Once the account is open, users can choose to either receive R50 in airtime or 500MB of data a month, if their card is swiped more than four times a month. A further megabyte of data is loaded on the account for every R20 spent.
“MyMo is an account for everyone, whether you just landed your first job or have been around the block. With no documentation required it only takes a few minutes to open the account,” says Funeka Montjane, Chief Executive for Personal and Business Banking, South Africa, at Standard Bank Group. “For just R4.95 a month customer will be able to enjoy free swipes and ATM withdrawals at only R6.50 for amounts under R 1 000.
“Mobile is the new branch. This account is about bringing the mobile branch into customers hands, it is about convenience and security while banking.”
She says mobile offers low cost transactional banking which integrates people and businesses into the new connected economy, making mobile the new branch ecosystem that will drive and connect Africa’s growth. Physical connections to the economy are rapidly changing to digital where banks have to move from being financial institutions to service organisations.
“In the past people congregated in communities and eventually cities to maximise the advantages of connectivity. Today a simple hand-held device has the potential to open infinite doors, transforming individuals’ access to opportunities, regardless of where they are, and like never before in history.
“Historically, a bank account represented access to economic citizenship. Today, having a simple device enabling digital access to a modern banking platform is a passport to global connectivity and vast human development potential.”
The bank says it is using technology, and mobile phones in particular, to deliver low-cost transactional channels accessible to all our customers. The evolution in mobile can be seen in transaction options like cash back at the retail checkout till rather than the ATM, free digital banking rather than using a branch, and the ability to transact using digital wallets, even without a bank account.
“Developing comprehensive connected ecosystems requires a mind-set change from Africa’s banks,” says Montjane. “Banks will evolve away from traditional financial service organisations, into service ecosystems enabling broad universal access to almost everything like enhanced purchasing experiences of vehicles and homes, online procurement of goods and services and lifestyle elements like rewards and travel.
“These connectivity drivers will also act to future-proof evolving connectivity ecosystem by allowing us to offer untold future services while deriving income from as yet unrealised revenue streams,.
From a customer perspective, the kind of ecosystems of knowledge, access and, ultimately, connectivity that banks will come to provide will radically transform the share of life that almost all individuals will be able to access.”
Two-thirds of SA staff hide social media from bosses
With 90% of people in employment going online several times a day, it can be hard for most workers to keep their private and work-life separate during the working day (and beyond). The recently published Global Privacy Report from Kaspersky Lab reveals that 64% of South African consumers choose to hide social media activity from their boss. This secretive stance at work also extends to their colleagues, with 60% of South Africans also preferring not to reveal online activities to their co-workers.
Globally, the average employee spends an astonishing 13 years and two months at work during their lifetime. Interestingly though, not all this time is directly related to solving work tasks or earning a promotion: almost two thirds (64%) of consumers admit visiting non-work-related websites every day from their desk.
Not surprisingly, 35% of South African employees are against their employer knowing which websites they visit. However, more interestingly, 60% of South African are even against their colleagues knowing about their online activities. This probably means that colleagues constitute an even greater threat to future perspectives of an office slouch or maybe the relationships with colleagues are more informal and therefore, more valuable.
On the contrary, social media activity appears to be a less private domain for many and therefore, more suitable for sharing with colleagues but not the boss. This is probably because workers fear harming the public image of a company or interest in decreased staff productivity motivates companies to monitor employees’ social networks and make career changing decisions based on that. Such policies have led to 64% of South Africans saying that they don’t want to reveal their social media activities to their boss and 53% even don’t want to disclose this information to their colleagues.
A further 29% are against showing the content of their messages and emails to their employer. In addition, 3% even said that their career was irrevocably damaged as a consequence of their personal information being leaked. Thus, people are worried about how to build a favourable internal reputation and how not to destroy existing workplace relationships.
“As going online is an integral part of our life nowadays, lines continue to blur between our digital existence at work and at home. And that’s neither good nor bad. That’s how we live in the digital age. Just keep remembering that as an employee you need to be increasingly cautious of what exactly you post on social media feeds or what websites you prefer using at work. One misconceived action on the internet could have an irrevocable long-term impact on even the most ambitious worker’s ability to climb the career ladder of their choice in the future,” comments Marina Titova, Head of Consumer Product Marketing at Kaspersky Lab.
To ensure workers don’t fall prey of the internet threats at a work, there are some core guidelines to adhere to in the digital age:
- Don’t post anything that could be considered defamatory, obscene, proprietary or libellous. If in doubt, don’t post.
- Be aware that system administrators may at least, in theory, be informed about your web browsing patterns.
- Don’t harass, threaten, discriminate or disparage against any colleague, partner, competitor or customer. Neither on social networks or in messages, emails, nor by any other means.
- Don’t post photographs of other employees, customers, vendors, suppliers or company products without prior written permission.
- Start using Kaspersky Password Manager to ensure your social media and other personal accounts are not at risk of unauthorised access by someone else in an office. Install a reliable security solution such as Kaspersky Security Cloud to protect your personal devices.