Shaping the future
Experts agree that, over the next five years, the multi-cloud world will be the playground for innovation, allowing organisations to launch new services and enhance advanced technologies.
A recent Foresight Factory report entitled, The Future of the Multi-Cloud (FOMC) sponsored by F5, reveals how the pace of digital transformation is already dramatically disrupting existing business models. It also details how organisations are forced to reassess their skills, existing infrastructure, and tools to manage the multi-cloud more effectively. The EMEA-focused study captures insightful commentary from eminent cloud experts on how businesses will need to hasten their multi-cloud readiness in order to meet consumer demand for fast, seamless services.
Over the next five years, experts forecast that EMEA cloud-based business models will require substantial changes, if not a complete re-architecture of strategic procedures, policies, systems, and tools. While moving to the cloud can present some security challenges, it also opens new opportunities to safeguard operations while simultaneously scaling and innovating in real-time.
IT departments are under growing pressure to run a well-established security infrastructure and scale to meet customer demands. Moving apps to public and private cloud environments will enable enterprises to be dynamic with data management while also implementing app-centric services with strong security solutions to mitigate against cybercrime. Yet, achieving a consistent security posture, including user authentication and policy controls, is a complex task when amplified across multi-cloud platforms.
“The multi-cloud ramp up is one of the ultimate wake up calls in internal IT,” says Eric Marks, VP of Cloud Consulting at Cloud Spectator. “I think that one of the biggest transformative changes that it brings to an enterprise is the realisation of what a high performing IT organisation is and compares to what they have. Most of them are finding their IT organisations are sadly underperforming.”
Automation changes the game
The attack surface is broadening all the time. Increasing gateway services and application programming interfaces, as well as developments in fields like the Internet of Things, are shaking the status quo to its core. The threat landscape is more sophisticated than ever due to volumetric attacks, malicious bots, and other tools targeting apps and sensitive data. Many traditional practices are no longer effective because they are too labour intensive and time inefficient to protect what really matters. This is where automation comes in to streamline and standardise IT processes, as well as remove human error. It also helps IT staff focus on other priorities, such as analytics and problem solving.
Against this backdrop, experts recognise that is not enough to just move applications to the cloud. It is imperative to address the business objectives in line with market needs and apply integrated tools sets that provide automated workflows, greater visibility, and analytical capabilities. It is also critical to establish new working methodologies for better collaboration and efficiency.
Cloud skills of the future will also look different to those of today. To stay relevant, NetOps teams must embrace automation capabilities to reduce slow, manual traditional processes, whereas DevOps teams must embed security disciplines into the production phase. Siloed working is a thing of the past. Together, the path of optimisation and orchestration will lead to a more prosperous outcome and ensure customer-centricity and data compliance.
“Automation is key, governance is key, third party security systems and identity access management are key. This is going to drive a lot of spending over the next five years,” predicts David Linthicum, Chief Cloud Strategy Officer at Deloitte Consulting, and other prominent FOMC contributors.
In fact, adopting a multi-cloud route does not have to mean compromising security. With advanced security solutions, businesses can safely move their applications to any cloud model that works best for their strategy without geographic or infrastructural constraints. Consumer demands and industry competitiveness continue to make the cloud an essential option. The right deployment strategy makes it a viable and safe one.
Clearly, skills need to swiftly evolve. Cloud architects must be empowered with comprehensive solutions to deliver panoramic visibility and analytics, highly intelligent and contextual awareness, and sophisticated policy controls.
Deal with disruption
With the future in mind, expect the unexpected. New serverless architecture will enable enterprises to cut time-to-market and enable simplification of processes. Intelligent automation and machine learning are already easing the path towards optimal multi-cloud deployments.
EMEA organisations need to be prepared to undergo significant change and boldly face disruption head on. If you are not turning to the multi-cloud for flexibility, innovation, and being data compliant, then your customers will quickly shape your future by turning to some else they can trust.
Time is running out for Microsoft SQL Server 2008
Companies are urged to update from the dated database management software as end-of-support looms, writes BRYAN TURNER.
The 11-year-old Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database management software is reaching the end of its support on 9 July. The applications that use databases running on this software will be at risk of security and stability issues.
On self-managed databases, upgrading to the latest database version comes with a lot of risks. Many IT departments within companies go by the motto: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.
Microsoft made it very clear that it would not be updating SQL Server 2005 after its extended support date and even left it vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown by not releasing patches for the dated version.
Updating SQL Server versions may seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes for a migration. In the last major version update, SQL Server 2016 introduced simpler backup functionality, database stretching, and always-encrypted communications with the database, to name just three features.
While backing up the database may be the last thing on the typical database administrator’s mind, it’s become increasingly important to do so. In SQL Server 2008, it’s clunky and causes headaches for many admins. However, in SQL Server 2016, one can easily set up an automated backup to Azure storage and let it run on smart backup intervals. Backing up offsite also reduces the need for disaster recovery for onsite damage.
Database stretching allows admins to push less frequently accessed data to an Azure database, automatically decided by SQL Server 2016. This reduces the admin of manually looking through what must be kept and what must be shipped off or deleted. It also reduces the size of the database, which also increases the performance of the applications that access it. The best part of this functionality is it automatically retrieves the less accessed records from Azure when users request it, without the need for manual intervention.
Always-encrypted communications are becoming more and more relevant to many companies, especially those operating in European regions after the introduction of GDPR. Encryption keys were previously managed by the admin, but now encryption is always handled by the client. Furthermore, the keys to encrypt and decrypt data are stored outside of SQL Server altogether. This means data stored in the database is always encrypted, and no longer for the eyes of a curious database manager.
The built-in reporting tools have also vastly improved with the addition of new reporting metrics and a modern look. It includes support for Excel reports for keeping documentation and Power BI for automated, drag-and-drop personalised reporting. Best of all, it removes the dreaded Active X controls, which made the reporting in a webpage feel very clumsy and bloated in previous versions.
A lot has changed in the past ten years in the world of SQL Server database management, and it’s not worth running into problems before Microsoft ends support for SQL Server 2008.
Local apps to feature in Huawei’s App Gallery
Huawei’s mobile app store, the HUAWEI AppGallery, will soon feature a multitude of apps and designs by local developers. The company says this is part of its drive to promote South African digital talent and include more useful apps for Huawei smartphone users. HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes are pre-installed on all the latest Huawei and Honor devices.
“South African consumers are increasingly wanting more apps that are relevant to their unique circumstances, addressing issues they experience regularly – such as load shedding or safety concerns – but also apps that celebrate South Africa’s multitude of cultures and this vibrant country,” says Lu Geng, director of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Region.
Akhram Mohamed, chief technology officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa, says: “Huawei is committed to catering to the needs of South African consumers, but we also know that we do not have all the answers. For this reason, we aim to work closely with South African developers so that we can give our users everything that they need and want from their devices. At the same time, we also hope to create an open ecosystem for local developers by offering a simple and secure environment for them to upload content.”
Huawei Mobile Services was launched in South Africa in June last year. Since then, both the HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes – which features tens of thousands of themes, fonts and wallpapers that personalise user’s handset – have become increasingly popular with the local market. Even though it is a relatively new division of Huawei, there has been a great increase in growth; at the end of 2018 Huawei Mobile Services had 500 million users globally, representing a 117% increase on the previous year.
Explaining what differentiates the HUAWEI AppGallery from other app stores, Mosa Matshediso Hlobelo, business developer for Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa says: “We use the name ‘HUAWEI AppGallery’ because we have a dedicated team that curates all the apps in terms of relevance and ease of use and to ensure that there are no technical issues. Importantly, all apps are also security-checked for malware and privacy leaks before being uploaded on to the HUAWEI AppGallery.”
Huawei recently held a Developers’ Day where Huawei executives met with South African developers to discuss Huawei’s offering. 48 developers registered their apps on the day, and Huawei is currently in discussions with them with the eventual aim of featuring the best apps and designs on HUAWEI AppGallery or HUAWEI Themes. The Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Team at Huawei plans on making Developers’ Day a quarterly event and establishing a local providers’ hub, where developers can regularly meet with Huawei for training on updates to programmes and offerings.
“We have a very hands-on approach with our developers, and hope to expand that community so we can become an additional distribution channel for more developers and expose them to both a local and a global audience,” says Geng. “For example, we regularly feature apps and designs from local developers on our Huawei social media pages, and do competitions and promotions. We want to do everything we can to make our Huawei users aware of these local apps and upload them. This will encourage the growth of the developer community in South Africa by giving developers more opportunities to generate revenue from in-app purchases.”
* Developers who would like their apps featured on the HUAWEI App Gallery, or designs featured on HUAWEI Themes, should visit https://developer.huawei.com or email Huawei Mobile Services on email@example.com.