Cloud architecture leaders VMware all but reinvented itself as a cybersecurity provider this week, as it unveiled a wide range of new and expanded security solutions. It may not have been a pivot into a new form of business, but its announcements underlined the extent to which any major information technology organisation has to put cybersecurity at the core of its solutions. In effect, all businesses have to become cybersecurity businesses.
VMware describes its vision as “intrinsic security”, which makes security more automated, proactive and pervasive across the entire distributed enterprise. Intrinsic security, says VMware, reduces the risk to critical applications, sensitive data, and users “by shrinking the attack surface across clouds, data centres, end users, and the enterprise edge”.
At its annual VMworld Europe conference in Barcelona on Tuesday, VMware announced the following:
- Dell will make Carbon Black Cloud, along with Dell Trusted Devices and Secureworks, the preferred endpoint security solution for Dell commercial customers;
- New VMware NSX Distributed Intrusion Detection and Prevention;
- New VMware NSX Federation for consistent, centralised network and security policy configuration and management for large-scale NSX deployments;
- Enhanced VMware SD-WAN branch firewall performance, flexibility and usability features;
- VMware Secure State updates that reduce public cloud risk and improve security posture;
- A new Zero-Trust security architecture for the digital workspace.
This wide-ranging set of announcements comes barely a month after Oracle Open World (OOW) in San Francisco, where database software leaders Oracle announced its own wide-ranging set of security solutions. The emphasis at OOW was on making security autonomous, meaning that it is self-managing and self-correcting. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison styled it as the “self-driving” approach to cloud management and security.
The latest updates to VMware Secure State, which was first made available in June, provides similar functionality, although not the same level of autonomy. VMware last year unveiled Project Magma, which CEO Pat Gelsinger has described as the true AI/ML “self-driving data centre’.
While Oracle and VMware may seem to be competing for ownership of this vision, the former surprised the market at OOW when it announced a strategic partnership with VMware, allowing customers to run VMware Cloud Foundation on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.
Sanjay Poonen, chief operating officer of VMware, told Gadget during VMworld: “I find it very interesting at Oracle Open World that Larry talked about two of his strategic vendors in partnership, VMware and Microsoft. I didn’t think that day would ever happen. Hell would sooner freeze over than Oracle embrace VMware. So If VMware technology can help them be more secure as part of that stack… if they can keep their stack and infrastructure secure, we are certainly powering a lot now of what they are trying to do in the cloud and networking. More power to them.”
In a formal announcement of VMware’s new security offerings, Poonen elaborated on the vision of intrinsic security:
“VMware believes we have to stop adding more and more complexity in an effort to solve cybersecurity challenges, and instead use our infrastructure as part of the solution. In short, we must make security intrinsic. VMware is shifting the balance of power from attackers to defenders by removing the complexity inherent with cybersecurity.
“VMware is delivering intrinsic security through a comprehensive portfolio spanning the critical control points of security: network, endpoint, workload, identity, cloud, and analytics. Because we’re built-in, we’re everywhere apps, devices, and users reside. This gives us a unique vantage point to be informed about what’s happening in a customer’s environment. With this knowledge, we can be proactive in hardening customers’ environments to better prevent threats.”
Click here to read about VMware’s new security offerings in detail.
Meet the accountant of the future
The accountant of the future will need a new set of skills, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, as he meets both the local users and the global creators of Xero accounting software
Meet Buchule and Sivenathi Sibaca. They are not only partners in marriage, but also in a thriving accounting business. Buchule and Sivenathi are, respectively, chief executive officer and chief financial officer of SMTAX, which focuses on tax and accounting services for small businesses in the Western Cape, but includes the likes of Absa and Old Mutual among its clients. It employs 18 people and has 4,500 individual and business customers.
That’s not what makes the outfit remarkable. The startling feature of this business is that it has been structured to be a model accounting firm of the next decade. Even more remarkable is the fact that the couple both hail from rural areas where thoughts of the future tend to be about survival rather than blazing new trails.
Last week, they made their first trip out of the country, to attend Xerocon London 2019. This 2-day conference, hosted by the world’s fastest growing accounting software maker, Xero, attracted more than 3,000 delegates from the United Kingdom, Europe Middle East and Africa. A total of 57 Xero partners and users, mostly from accounting practices or suppliers to accountants, made the trek from South Africa.
“It was really about seeing how other accountants on other continents operate in terms of how they think and where their headspace is at,” Buchule told us during Xerocon. “Also, being our first time out of the country, it was to see the culture of other small businesses outside of South Africa.
“London’s quite different in that regard, but it’s been a really a great learning curve, and we were pleasantly surprised to find elements that look like South Africa, where we can say, at least you’re doing something right. The banking environment is quite unique, as it’s been a really good learning curve in terms of where banking might go to in the future of South Africa if they follow the same trend.”
Buchule comes from the “dusty streets” of Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, while Sivenathi grew up on a farm in a deep rural area near Mthatha.
“I had no idea about technology or the rest of the world or how it could impact the economy in general,” she said. The two met at the University of Cape Town, where she was studying to be an actuary, and he completed a Masters degree in tax. She decided to put actuarial science behind her, however, when the opportunity arose to join Buchule’s business. But her skills helped transform the business.
Said Buchule: “When Sivenathi came on board we did the modeling of the business, and we said that in order to in order to automate the whole bookkeeping journey, we would need to turn closer and closer towards ‘x’, meaning fully automated bookkeeping. We looked at the journey of how long it will it take for us to get to time ‘x’. And then we said, OK, once we get there, what then?
“It was a big realization that when we do get to time ‘x’, the most important thing will be the human touch. That will be the differentiator. So we then spent our time developing that.”
Visit the next page to read more about the Xerocon 2019 event.
Takealot reveals startling numbers for Black Friday
Takealot has revealed startling numbers for expected bumper sales this holiday season, beginning next week, and peaking with Black Friday.
South Africa’s leading ecommerce group expects to ship at least one order every second, with roughly 10,000 boxes leaving their warehouses every hour, this shopping season.
Black Friday was first introduced to South Africa by Takealot in 2012, and has since become an important day in South Africa’s annual retail calendar. It has been a record-breaker for both retailers in the Takealot Group: Takealot and Superbalist. Takealot’s Black Friday gross merchandise value (GMV) grew 125% from 2017 to 2018, with orders up 127%. Superbalist’s Black Friday GMV has grown on average around 50%. This year, CEO Kim Reid is anticipating the biggest Black Friday yet, a culmination of months of tech and operational business-wide focus to prepare for increased predicted traffic and shopper volumes.
ABSA bank estimates that two out of three South Africans participated in Black Friday sales in 2018. And FNB reports in 2018, Black Friday transaction volumes grew by 16% compared with 2017 and anticipates a 15% increase in transactions over the sales period in 2019.
Successfully meeting this massive growth in orders has been a key focus for the Takealot Group. CEO Kim Reid says throughout the year they have been working to scale operations across multiple areas within the business. “After expanding our Johannesburg distribution centre (DC), our warehouse storage space now stands at 75 000m2. We house over 3.7 million items at any given time, and have opened 47 Takealot Pickup Points in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Limpopo, Free State and Mpumalanga for order collections and returns, with more to open in the coming months.”
Takealot Delivery Team delivers to more South African homes than any other courier company in the country. On a monthly basis, they carry out over 1.6-million deliveries, with this number expected to increase to over 2-million during the shopping season. More than 4,500 drivers currently deliver for the Takealot Delivery Team; a number that is growing every month. The Takealot group anticipates they’ll travel over 4,000 000km from Black Friday until 24 December. “To put that in context, it is the equivalent of circumnavigating the globe over 100 times” says Reid.
Takealot.com’s Blue Dot Sale is a five day sale period which starts on Black Friday (29 November) and sees a range of new deals throughout the weekend as well as on Cyber Monday (2 December) and Takealot Tuesday (3 December), with up to 60% off thousands of items. For the first time, takealot.com will also be giving their shoppers early access to some of its Black Friday deals, starting on 24 November. Fresh new app-only deals will be added daily.
The Superbalist Showdown will run from 29 November to 3 December, with up to 70% off more than 15 000+ items. Superbalist shoppers will also have early access to Black Friday deals on selected days throughout November, with Superbalist’s Black Friday Spoilers – 24 hours to shop deals that they say won’t be beaten on Black Friday.