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Multi-cloud will be the new shape of business

In an automated world, organisations must rethink their cloud strategies, embed security into application development and embrace new work practices to stay relevant, says SIMON MCCULLOUGH, Major Channel Account Manage, F5 Networks.

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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.

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IoT sensors are anything from doctor to canary in mines

Industrial IoT is changing the shape of the mining industry and the intelligence of the devices that drive it

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has become many things in the mining industry. A canary that uses sensors to monitor underground air quality, a medic that monitors healthcare, a security guard that’s constantly on guard, and underground mobile vehicle control. It has evolved from the simple connectivity of essential sensors to devices into an ecosystem of indispensable tools and solutions that redefine how mining manages people, productivity and compliance. According to Karien Bornheim, CEO of Footprint Africa Business Solutions (FABS), IoT offers an integrated business solution that can deliver long-term, strategic benefits to the mining industry.

“To fully harness the business potential of IoT, the mining sector has to understand precisely how it can add value,” she adds. “IoT needs to be implemented across the entire value chain in order to deliver fully optimised, relevant and turnkey operational solutions. It doesn’t matter how large the project is, or how complex, what matters is that it is done in line with business strategy and with a clear focus.”

Over the past few years, mining organisations have deployed emerging technologies to help bolster flagging profits, manage increasingly weighty compliance requirements, and reduce overheads. These technologies are finding a foothold in an industry that faces far more complexities around employee wellbeing and safety than many others, and that juggles numerous moving parts to achieve output and performance on a par with competitive standards. Already, these technologies have allowed mines to fundamentally change worker safety protocols and improve working conditions. They have also provided mining companies with the ability to embed solutions into legacy platforms, allowing for sensors and IoT to pull them into a connected net that delivers results.

“The key to achieving results with any IoT or technology project is to partner with service providers, not just shove solutions into identified gaps,” says Bornheim. “You need to start in the conceptual stage and move through the pre-feasibility and bankable feasibility stages before you start the implementation. Work with trained and qualified chemical, metallurgical, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and structural engineers that form a team led by a qualified engineering lead with experience in project management. This is the only way to ensure that every aspect of the project is aligned with the industry and its highly demanding specifications.”

Mining not only has complexities in compliance and health and safety, but the market has become saturated, difficult and mercurial. For organisations to thrive, they must find new revenue streams and innovate the ways in which they do business. This is where the data delivered by IoT sensors and devices can really transform the bottom line. If translated, analysed and used correctly, the data can provide insights that allow for the executive to make informed decisions about sites, investment and potential.


“The cross-pollination of different data sets from across different sites can help shift dynamics in plant operation and maintenance, in the execution of specific tasks, and so much more,” says Bornheim. “In addition, with sensors and connected devices and systems, mining operations can be managed intelligently to ensure the best results from equipment and people.”

The connection of the physical world to the digital is not new. Many of the applications currently being used or presented to the mining industry are not new either. What’s new is how these solutions are being implemented and the ways in which they are defined. It’s more than sticking on sensors. It’s using these sensors to streamline business across buildings, roads, vehicles, equipment, and sites. These sensors and the ways in which they are used or where they are installed can be customised to suit specific business requirements.

“With qualified electronic engineers and software experts, you can design a vast array of solutions to meet the real needs of your business,” says Bornheim. “Our engineers can programme, create, migrate and integrate embedded IoT solutions for microcontrollers, sensors, and processors. They can also develop intuitive dashboards and human-machine interfaces for IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) devices to manage the input and output of a wide range of functionalities.”

The benefits of IoT lie in its ubiquity. It can be used in tandem with artificial intelligence or machine learning systems to enhance analytics, improve the automation of basic processes and monitor systems and equipment for faults. It can be used alongside M2M applications to enhance the results and the outcomes of the systems and their roles. And it can be used to improve collaboration and communication between man, machine and mine.

“You can use IoT platforms to visualise mission-critical data for device monitoring, remote control, alerts, security management, health and safety and healthcare,” concludes Bornheim. “The sky is genuinely the limit, especially now that the cost of sensors has come down and the intelligence of solutions and applications has gone up. From real-time insights to hands-on security and safety alerts to data that changes business direction and focus, IoT brings a myriad of benefits to the table.”

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Oracle leads in clash of
e-commerce titans

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Three e-commerce platforms have been awarded “gold medals” for leading the way in customer experience. SoftwareReviews, a division of Info-Tech Research Group, named Oracle Commerce Cloud the leader in its 2020 eCommerce Data Quadrant Awards, followed by Shopify Plus and IBM Digital Commerce. The awards are based on user reviews. 
The three vendors received the following citations:

  • Oracle Commerce Cloud ranked highest among software users, earning the number-one spot in many of the product feature section areas, shining brightest in reporting and analytics, predictive recommendations, order management, and integrated search. 
  • Shopify Plus performed consistently well according to users, taking the number-one spot for catalogue management, shopping cart management and ease of customisation.
  • IBM Digital Commerce did exceptionally well in business value created, quality of features, and vendor support.

The SoftwareReviews Data Quadrant differentiates itself with insightful survey questions, backed by 22 years of research in IT. The study involves gathering intelligence on user satisfaction with both product features and experience with the vendor. When distilled, the customer’s experience is shaped by both the software interface and relationship with the vendor. Evaluating enterprise software along these two dimensions provides a comprehensive understanding of the product in its entirety and helps identify vendors that can deliver on both for the complete software experience.

“Our recent Data Quadrant in e-commerce solutions provides a compelling snapshot of the most popular enterprise-ready players, and can help you make an informed, data-driven selection of an e-commerce platform that will exceed your expectations,” says Ben Dickie, research director at Info-Tech Research Group. 

“Having a dedicated e-commerce platform is where the rubber hits the road in transacting with your customers through digital channels. These platforms provide an indispensable array of features, from product catalog and cart management to payment processing to detailed transaction analytics.”

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