Every company and government entity is tasked with striking a critical balance between data access and security. As Forrester’s Senior Analyst Richard Joyce stated, “For a typical Fortune 1000 company, just a 10 percent increase in data accessibility will result in more than $65 million additional net income.” As the need to become more data-driven accelerates, it’s imperative enterprises equally balance privacy and governance requirements.

To achieve this balance, we need to change how we perceive data security. Amidst growing friction between teams — i.e. those who create and manage data access policies and those who need data to perform their duties — we must accept security, IT, and privacy teams want to provision as much data as possible. But those teams face constraints and compliance complexity.

Traditionally, data security, privacy, and regulations have been thought of as a cost center expense. Instead, we need to look at data security as the means for positive change, a driver for greater data accessibility, enhanced operational efficiency, and actual business value.

Many remain far short of the goal

Enterprises of all sizes struggle with the shift. NewVantage Partners’s Data and AI Leadership Executive Survey 2023 found less than a quarter of firms reported a data-driven organization or data culture. And in the State of Data and Analytics Governance, Gartner suggests by 2025 80 percent of organizations seeking to scale digital business, including analytical initiatives, will fail because they don’t modernize their data and analytics governance.

Data access drives growth. So, what’s the reason for low data-culture adoption? To be truly data-driven requires tight collaboration between many different functions, and there’s a lack of certainty regarding individual-role responsibilities. Strategic gaps must be addressed.

The reality of data security and access

When it comes to data security and access, companies are typically either:

Overly restrictive on data access. Data security is seen as an impediment to overall company growth. This is typically due to data, organizational, and technological complexity.Or, overly focused on perimeter and application defenses, leveraging cyberdefenses and coarse-grained identity and access management (IAM). Data systems are open to exploitation in the event of a breach.

Most experience the worst of both these scenarios, where data security and access are simply broken — inconsistent, atomistic.

A primary challenge of solving the data democratization balancing act lies in the complex web of internal and external privacy, security, and governance policies. They change over time and need to be applied and maintained consistently and efficiently across business teams.

In the middle are the technical teams managing the complex data and analytical system. Due to constraints, security, privacy, and data management teams default to a tight lockdown of data to ensure compliance and security. It’s not any one team’s fault, but a major blocker to becoming data-driven.

Unified data security platform

Siloed, decentralized, inefficient, unclear roles and responsibilities, and an absence of a holistic strategy. So, what’s the solution as more companies face costly data breaches and low data usability rates? An enterprise-wide, scalable strategy that leverages a unified data security platform. One that includes integrated capabilities to simplify and automate universal data security processes across the entire data and analytic ecosystem. With the ability to discover and classify sensitive data, data attributes can be used to automatically deliver instantaneous data access to authorized users. Proper data security governance helps teams get access to more data faster.

Additional data masking and encryption layers can be added to make sensitive data available for analytics without compromising security. Even if a breach occurs, fine-grained access limits exposure, and audit capabilities quickly identify compromised data.

Executing a proper data security strategy provides the last mile of the data governance and cataloging journey. All of it key to the balancing act of data democratization, with comprehensive data governance enabling faster insights while maintaining compliance. 

Enterprise-wide governed data sharing

Privacera helps Fortune companies modernize their data architecture via a holistic, enterprise-wide data security platform and automated data governance. A data security platform empowers the data democratization you need to increase data usability and nurture your data-driven culture. Analysts and business units get more data faster. IT liberates time and resources. Security and privacy teams easily monitor and implement data security policies.

Learn more about achieving modern data security governance and democratized analytics for faster insights here.

Data and Information Security

Before any innovation initiative starts, there are questions (and usually lots of them). What is innovation and, more importantly, what does it mean for your organization? What fears or misperceptions hold innovation back? If you haven’t yet, check out this blog before reading this follow-up piece.

Decades ago, Netflix mailed DVDs to homes and a copy of the Yellow Pages was next to every landline phone. Today, Netflix is a streaming juggernaut producing award-winning content and the Yellow Pages’ website, Yell.com, is one of the world’s largest online directories used by millions of businesses. 

How did these well-established brands simultaneously run and reinvent? Their stories prove that innovation without disruption is possible. Here’s what we can learn from their successes… 

Introduce incremental value while keeping your core service

In the prelude to this blog, it was discussed that innovation doesn’t have to be a breakthrough new technology or a completely new business model. It can be something simple that adds value to the day-to-day lives of your customers or employees. 

Yell.com is the perfect example of this. While the Yellow Pages eventually ended its printed product, it took two years for them to finally get there. The company worked incrementally, first by strengthening its market share through strategic acquisitions and then by adding multi-channel marketing as a business service. Today, Yellow Pages provides the same service as its first publication back in 1966 faster and better. Likewise, to this day, you can still have movies delivered to your home as part of your Netflix service. 

Great innovation shows that you don’t need to forsake the old in favor of the new. By retaining their core service while laying the groundwork for next-phase evolution, these brands were able to retain their loyal customer base while reaching out to new audiences. 

How can your organization take small steps toward innovation while still following its North Star? Perhaps this means augmenting your voice-only customer service with new digital channels that make it easier for your customers to contact you. Maybe it’s adding analytics that allow you to better understand what your customers want so you can give it to them. 

Digital channels, analytics, AI, and automation are key technologies companies are leveraging to drive innovation, but they’re only accessible in the cloud. What does that mean for your decades-old on-premises systems?

Innovation starts with ideation and follows through with implementation, but current investments shouldn’t be abandoned in the name of innovation.

You may not be ready to move on from your rock solid on-premises systems (and that’s okay), but you know how greatly you can benefit from new capabilities delivered via the cloud. Even if you are ready, the systems you have in place are deeply entwined with other frameworks. Even something seemingly simple like adding new digital channels to your voice-only contact center can create a lot of new challenges such as different agency interfaces, split reporting of customer interactions between voice and digital channels, and changing communications mode in “real time” to address customers’ needs (ie: shifting from chat to voice to video). 

You need to move at a pace and path that fits your business needs. If your technology isn’t mature enough to deliver what needs to be developed, you’ll need to collaborate with partners who offer enabling technologies to gain access. 

Here are a few examples of innovation without disruption using Avaya’s Experience Platform:

Superior Propane – Canada’s leading supplier for propane delivery and tank installs – uses Avaya’s Experience Platform to open the door to cloud and AI without having to rip and replace its existing on-premises systems. 

Our partner alliances also helped speed time to value by offering access to dozens of leading tech vendors that could seamlessly integrate with the company’s Avaya solution. Superior Propane began driving innovation internally and externally using proactive automated outbound notifications, real-time reporting, and speech and desktop analytics that helped reduce Average Handle Time (AHT) by 30 seconds per call.

Standard Chartered Bank uses Avaya’s Experience Platform for a personalized path to cloud adoption.

Public cloud was not a model that was yet suitable for them when weighed against their business and client requirements. Avaya Enterprise Cloud created the global platform they needed while ensuring optimal security and data privacy. With Avaya, the bank has been able to innovate externally with digital, personalized CX and internally with enhancements to its agent desktop.  

Unlock new value through the cloud at your own pace 

At the heart of business is the propensity to keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things. Embracing new ideas, however, shouldn’t mean disruption to your existing business operations. Create your own path to cloud technologies that drive innovation – Avaya can help every step of the way. 

IT Leadership

The effects of such an unpredictable environment are profound, and no organization in any industry is immune. Looking across our client base, we expect to see varying degrees of impact as the turbulence continues. The common thread? In almost every case, there’s an increased need for data insight and technology-enabled agility to reaffirm technology’s position at the center of investment strategy in order to achieve organizational growth.

So when it comes to securing funding and resources from the board, is the CIO put in the box seat if technology is at the center of investment strategy? Not necessarily. While investing in technology is key—and becoming more so—this doesn’t mean that CIO budgets won’t come under pressure, both for capital spend as well as for operations and maintenance (O&M). That’s why forward-thinking CIOs are taking action today to strengthen their position. And no matter the industry, we believe there are four smart moves that any CIO can make now to help them weather any economic storm.

1. Optimize cloud spend

It’s a good time for CIOs to conduct a financial health check on their technology budget. This includes running a benchmarking spend analysis on all categories relative to industry peers, as well as leading technology companies. Then, identify opportunities to reduce run costs and free up funds to invest in transformation and new technology capabilities. Specifically, look at your organization’s newer areas of technology spend, especially since the last economic downturn. What’s the biggest change you’ll find? Almost invariably, spending on cloud has leapt from low or even non-existent to high. However, in many cases, that money could be spent more effectively; we often see clients using cloud in a capital-intensive way that mimics how they used to use datacenters. Remember, you don’t own cloud servers, you just “rent” them. So your usage and costs should be elastic, expanding and contracting with workload. That’s a core benefit of cloud.

That’s why one of the first moves to consider is optimizing your cloud spend. An easy example? Shut down the testing environment when you’re not using it. And consider different types of storage for different classes of data: highly-available and responsive storage for transactional data, and higher-latency and lower-cost for data not needed immediately. You should also scrutinize the bills from your cloud providers. These are often extremely complicated, running into millions or hundreds of millions of line items. FinOps for cloud can help track and optimize this spending while reaping major benefits on top. For instance, a robust FinOps capability can prevent spend commitment mistakes, and help you switch from a “lift-and-shift” approach founded on a datacenter mentality to a true cloud-centric model that realizes cloud’s full potential.

2. Double down on automation

If your IT budget, and maybe your business as a whole, is under pressure in the current environment, then automating more business processes is a natural step. But it’s important to implement automation for the right reasons, looking beyond the obvious cost savings to consider how it contributes to broader enterprise strategy. Of course, automating procedural, repeatable tasks via robotic process automation (RPA) not only cuts cost but frees up talent for higher-value, more strategic activities, enabling the business to do more with fewer people and address talent supply issues. The results? Higher efficiency and better outcomes. While many organizations are already implementing RPA, few are doing it at scale, and most haven’t yet fully embraced the more advanced “intelligent” automation opportunities via artificial intelligence and machine learning that can unlock true end-to-end automation. Given this, the CIO should become the driver of enterprise automation. 

3. Be open with suppliers on budget constraints

Try talking to your suppliers about the cost squeeze you’re facing, and you might be pleasantly surprised at their response. If you treat them as true partners and give them the opportunity to make suggestions for ways to save costs, they’ll probably come back with creative ideas. This reflects our own experience: we’ve worked with clients through downturns in industries like steel and utilities, and we know they expect us to offer creative ways to do things more cost-effectively. Whether it involves outsourcing, insourcing or something else, your suppliers or partners will often have great ideas.

4. Review software licenses and subscriptions

Many organizations are over-licensed and oversubscribed on software, pushing costs higher than they need to be. There are several ways to tackle this problem. One is to take steps to optimize subscription fees on expensive licenses by verifying the user base uses a software product or even separately licensed/subscribed features. Another is to identify savings opportunities from using open-source components instead of commercial software. Further, most software license agreements include annual processes to reset maintenance costs when consumption patterns change. Then of course there’s rationalization of products that are functionally redundant or can be archived/retired. While CIOs can carry out this license management themselves, a more effective approach could be to use a partner with specific expertise, who can detect in real time where an application is being used, and help recommend approaches to reduce spend.

With those four moves in mind, and in the drive to reduce costs amid ongoing uncertainty, CIOs may be tempted to cancel a project in its final stages to stop spend. But if that project involves retiring an asset or getting rid of a datacenter, companies should press on for multiple reasons. One is that by stopping, they’ll prolong technical debt into the future for a short-term benefit. Another is that once finished, maintenance costs, like on on-premise servers, will go away. So don’t stop short of the finish line and neglect to collect the savings.

Agile Development, Budgeting, CIO, Cloud Management, Data Center Management, IT Leadership

Recently, chief information officers, chief data officers, and other leaders got together to discuss how data analytics programs can help organizations achieve transformation, as well as how to measure that value contribution. We shared our insights at this CIO Online virtual roundtable event, which included leaders from organizations in healthcare, financial services, utilities, communications, and more.

The discussion focused mostly on data management issues and opportunities around “supply” — its quality, ownership, access, and other matters. Supply and consumption are symbiotic principles that together maximize the value of the enterprise data asset. While “consumption” matters are just as critical, getting data supply right is essential to ensuring that data — and the insights it drives — are available and trustworthy.

Our participants report encountering the view that data analytics programs don’t justify the effort to implement and operate them — even as companies spend more on big data and analytics every year. These leaders also struggle to set up metrics that demonstrate their programs’ achievements of transformation objectives.

These two challenges are closely linked: Better metrics on data analytics program value would go a long way toward dispelling the perception that these programs are not worthwhile. In our conversation, we acknowledged that doubts about their worth is a symptom that the business is not equipped to derive full value from the program. It’s a situation that calls for empowering the business to read, analyze, work, and even argue with data — effectively and confidently.

This post summarizes our conversation and describes some strategies we discussed to derive and demonstrate data analytics program value.

A community of teams

Organizations can support data analytics program effectiveness by ensuring that all impacted stakeholders (e.g., business, IT, data management, security, risk and compliance etc.) are engaged appropriately in sustained development and management of trusted data and insights. In other words, treating data and the insights it provides like any other critical corporate asset.

Mark Carson, Managing Director – Data & Analytics Leader at Protiviti, described this sustained engagement model as “a holistic, cross-functional approach that starts, and ends, with business value”; a way of looking at modern data and analytics that resonated with our participants.

In addition to consistent cross-functional engagement, senior leadership buy-in and support is paramount to ensure the organization’s corporate strategy and its data and analytics strategy remain symbiotic in realizing business value. This alignment is essential to any data analytics program because it focuses program efforts on mission-critical transformation.

Arguing with the data

In successful data analytics programs, business users absorb, assess, and act on the data by reading, working, analyzing, and arguing with it.

… Arguing with data? When data owners achieve maximum comfort with analytical tools, when they attain maximum literacy with the data itself, then they will use data “to support a larger narrative intended to communicate some message to a particular audience,” in the words of a formative early paper on data literacy. This is when data analytics programs deliver their greatest value. Empowering the business to argue with data is the highest goal.

Measuring data analytics’ value

Participants shared questions about how to measure data analytics program value. Metrics fall within the governance domain, which is the purview of owners and stewards together.

Lucas Lau, Senior Director – Machine Learning & AI Practice Leader at Protiviti, outlined a list of categories to simplify metrics. Considering only these four dimensions can help leaders simplify the seemingly complex problem of demonstrating value:

How does our use of data analytics increase revenue?How does the data analytics program reduce losses for the business?How is data analytics helping us drive down capital expenditure and operating costs?How are we using data analytics to manage enterprise risk?

Measuring along these dimensions dispels doubts that data analytics programs don’t deliver value. The answers to these four questions help program leaders gain traction: in the absence of doubt, more gets done. The questions offer an additional benefit when they generate new ideas about further advantages a data analytics program could deliver.

Gaining momentum through early wins

Early wins provide momentum as well as a foundation from which teams build a sense of community and confidence. As organizations acknowledge that business transformation is not a project, but an ongoing process, the confidence-boosting, competence-building experience gained via early wins provide the basis for ongoing tracking of achievements and corrections to data-driven decisions as needed.

The power of the roundtable

Leaders can help their data analytics programs deliver value by articulating the data ownership role for the business community. Then, they can measure program value along the lines of increased revenue, reduced losses, lower costs, and better-managed risk. They can focus on early wins that build team confidence and competence as the foundation for ongoing program effectiveness.

The ideas we generated together highlight what can happen when a community of leaders discusses barriers to success in a confidential environment. We thank CIO Online for the opportunity to meet with and advise the leaders who joined us for this roundtable.

Connect with the authors:

Mark Carson

Managing Director – Data & Analytics Leader at Protiviti

Lucas Lau

Senior Director – Machine Learning & AI Practice Leader at Protiviti

Analytics, Business Intelligence

“The barriers confronting organizations in South Africa that want to achieve carbon neutral status by 2030 are significant. Among them is the simple reality that most of the nation’s power production originates from coal-fired plants located in the northeastern part of the country while the greatest potential impact for sustainable approaches like solar and wind lie in the south. We can’t immediately upend the entire power grid structure, but together with a willing and enthusiastic government and strong partners like VMware, we can make a difference. We now have a framework in place to support Africa’s nascent efforts to achieve zero carbon emissions and support providers intent to achieve and apply the tenets of VMware Zero Carbon Committed program to their operations.” 

Bryce Allan, head of sustainability at Teraco Data Environments

Sumeeth Singh, head of VMware’s Cloud Provider Business in sub-Saharan Africa, was not surprised when the region’s leading cloud solutions and services companies enthusiastically embraced the VMware Cloud Verified initiative. With an established track record of success and extensive experience with the full VMware stack, many were ideally prepared to complete the rigorous process to apply for and receive the distinction.

The VMware Zero Carbon Committed initiative was, however, a different story. Singh knew that among providers the intent and desire to decrease their carbon footprints was strong. But the requirements, difficult in areas with an already mature sustainable energy infrastructure in place, were overwhelming in sub-Saharan Africa.

Specifically, partners would be required to commit that their data centers achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030, an effort that would require the use of 100% renewable energy. For partners in Europe where significant renewable energy sources exist in conjunction with a mature regulatory system of carbon offsets and credits, the process is still difficult.

“Like their counterparts in Europe, South African companies are increasingly mindful of resource constraints and the impact of fossil fuels on climate change,” said Singh. “They are also becoming more and more aware that their data center operations are a very large contributor to their overall carbon footprint. They also know that electricity in sub-Saharan Africa is primarily sourced from coal-fired plants. They want to do the right thing and minimize their emissions, but they are also seeing a dramatic increase in demand for hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and services – a reality that means they need more power, not less.”

Singh notes that for most partners, the resulting reality is that it would simply be unrealistic to pledge to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030 because there are not enough renewable sources of energy in place to make it feasible. When no partners signed up for the VMware Zero Carbon Committed initiative, it was both a disappointment and a validation.

“Partners here didn’t sign up for this initiative not because they didn’t want to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030, but because they didn’t think it was a realistic goal,” he says. More to the point, they didn’t view VMware Zero Carbon Committed as a marketing effort, but rather as a genuine commitment that should only be made if they believed they could achieve what they signed up for.”

Singh had a choice. He could either accept that the requirements for VMware Zero Carbon Committed were too challenging for the region, or he could find an alternative.

“We don’t have the luxury to postpone taking action when it comes to climate change,” he adds. “We have to do something now. In our case, we could either wait to ramp up the Zero Carbon Committed initiative until South Africa’s sustainability efforts are more mature – in other words do nothing now – or we could modify the requirements to find a more manageable solution.”

That solution came in the form of Teraco, South Africa’s largest and most interconnected data center platform. With four ultra high-performance data centers in South Africa – including facilities in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg – the company forms the core of the nation’s internet backbone, and serves as the interconnection for both local and global cloud services. Providing the connectivity for the Africa Cloud Exchange, Teraco’s carrier and cloud neutral platform is also Africa’s largest hub for AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

In addition, it serves as the direct access point for more than 300 network providers, including telecommunications, terrestrial fiber, satellite connectivity, and submarine cable carriers; as well as more than 130 IT service providers, leading enterprises and financial services companies, and innumerable Internet eXchange points. Recently acquired by Digital Reality – the world’s largest provider of cloud and carrier neutral data center, colocation, and interconnection solutions – the company’s role connecting Africa to the world’s IT infrastructure will only increase.

Teraco is also the co-location provider of choice for most VMware Cloud Verified partners. But perhaps most importantly for those organizations that want to embrace VMware Zero Carbon committed, it is also no stranger to efforts to reduce carbon emissions. In fact, it was already in the midst of Africa’s most ambitious effort to produce 100% sustainable power.

Singh saw an opportunity. If VMware Cloud Verified partners could engage Teraco for data center services that use the company’s renewable energy, they could offset their own power usage and realistically commit to significantly decrease their own carbon footprint.

It was an effort Bryce Allan, head of sustainability at Teraco Data Environments, immediately embraced.

“At Teraco we are aggressively pushing to increase our use of renewable energy sources,” he says. One of our two newest and most significant solar projects is already under construction and we’ve set aside nearly $250 million over the next five years for the development of renewable energy sources and facilities. We also entered into a development service agreement with an experienced renewable energy developer and are already working with them to build two 100 megawatt solar facilities in Cape Town.” 

Allan expects the first of those to go online early in 2023 and to produce 500 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. Notably, this is in addition to the company’s extensive solar projects at its data centers, with the facility in Johannesburg already including a high-output solar system that is the first of its kind on the continent. Similar systems are being constructed for each of the company’s data centers, with those expected to be operational by the end of this year.

“We’re really excited to start building big solar plants that make a real impact on the region’s use of fossil fuels,” says Allan. “The fact that we can simultaneously provide motivated VMware Cloud Verified partners with the access to the power they need to make zero carbon emissions a realistic goal is another great benefit.”

Notably, Teraco committed to achieving the use of 50% renewable energy sources by 2027 and 100% renewable energy sources by 2035. Given the difficulty of achieving both goals in Africa, the decision was made to allow VMware Cloud Verified Partners who want to achieve the VMware Zero Carbon Committed distinction to pursue it in conjunction with Teraco and those metrics.

“We are years behind our partners in other areas of the world in our efforts to lower emissions,” adds Singh. “But if we can work together to achieve the use of 50% renewable sources of energy in five years, we will have accomplished something truly significant while simultaneously enabling Africa’s cloud solutions and services providers to pursue contracts that reward and encourage additional efforts to decrease emissions. That is a win for all involved.”

Within days of the partnership with Teraco being announced, five companies in South Africa joined the VMware Zero Carbon Committed initiative.

The inaugural partners in Africa’s VMware Zero Carbon Committed initiative

The first five VMware Cloud Verified partners to embrace the tenets of the VMware Zero Carbon Committed initiative – and to make the transition to renewable sources of energy a key focus with the goal of using only renewable sources of energy by 2035 –  include Network Platforms, Routed, Saicom, Silicon Sky, and Strategix. We recently asked senior leaders at each company to share why they believe it’s crucial to radically decrease carbon emissions.

Network Platforms – Servicing businesses since 2003, Network Platforms provides a host of solutions to create effective ICT business environments. Its services are tailored to help businesses grow through increased productivity, profitability, and peace of mind. Its range of world-class, innovative products and services enables businesses to connect, communicate, and collaborate.

“It is imperative for all companies in Africa to look at the big picture and how we can collectively transition to renewable sources of energy. By transitioning to the cloud and software-defined data centers enterprises are taking a positive step for the environment. If we can run the hardware required for those endeavors with renewable sources of energy, we can collectively make a huge difference.”

– Bradley Love, founder and CEO of Network Platforms.

Routed – Routed is an experienced South African specialist VMware Cloud Operator offering scalable – full or hybrid cloud – vendor neutral hosting solutions. As a VMware Principal Partner, Routed proudly boast many “firsts”: first VMware Cloud Verified provider in Africa; first Validated VMware DRaaS provider in Africa; and now also a VMware Zero Carbon Committed partner, backed by the highest levels of sales, service, and support for its partners and customers.

“Routed empowers its partners and its customers to prosper and grow, grounded by solid and secure cloud infrastructure foundations. In much the same way, the baobob tree, our company symbol, provides for people in Africa’s savannah regions – serving as the tree of life and giving them the materials they need for shelter, clothing, food, and water – all while providing the roots that serve as a strong foundation. We like to think of ourselves as the baobob of cloud infrastructure providers. That means we must safeguard our environment here in Africa and that starts with a commitment to decrease emissions.”

– Andrew Cruise, managing director of Routed

Saicom – Saicom is a leading service provider in the local market delivering a host of solutions designed to help organizations move to the cloud, improve their collaboration and deliver an unsurpassed customer experience. Saicom understands that what businesses need most, as they navigate the move to the cloud, is choice, support, and flexible solution architecture.

“The environment in Africa is one of the world’s richest and most beautiful. We must take action to ensure that we can pass it on to future generations. Climate change is a horrific danger, but it’s also a wakeup call that we cannot continue to build our businesses and our lives around sources of energy that are finite and that once used cannot be replaced. As an ICT leader, we have an opportunity to help our customers do more with less impact on the environment by embracing a software-defined approach that simultaneously delivers unprecedented computing power and potential.”

– Kyle Woolf, CEO of Saicom

Silicon Sky – Silicon Sky is a specialist IT infrastructure service provider. Silicon Sky specializes in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Silicon Sky has a vast IaaS portfolio including compute, network, storage, security, backup, recovery and disaster recovery. Silicon Sky has enterprise grade managed cloud platforms co-located in multiple carrier natural data centers in South Africa and the USA.

“ICT has transformed how companies do business and so many aspects of how we live our lives. As a cloud services and solutions leaders, we have an opportunity, and an obligation, to demonstrate in our words and more importantly in our actions, how technology can combat climate change and make a difference. VMware Zero Carbon Committed presents us with an exceptional opportunity to do just that.”

– Brenton Halsted, CEO of Silicon Sky

Strategix – Strategix Cloud Services provides flexible, scalable, secure, simplified costings easy to scale. Strategix is the only certified cloud provider as well as VMware PSO certified (Professional Services Organization), thereby offering assurances to assist customers in their digital evolution including, application modernization and digital workspace in public, private, or hybrid Clouds.

“We strive to always make an impact in a positive manner in our work with customers and our interactions with each other. That same philosophy applies to imperatives like sustainability and efforts to address climate change. Action and positive impact begin with making a commitment. For Strategix, that begins with pursuing the VMware Zero Carbon Committed distinction.”

– Jaco Stoltz, CEO of Strategix

For more information on VMware’s partnership with Teraco, view VMware’s “Feature Friday” video podcast here.                                                                                                                                                               

Green IT, IT Leadership, VMware

Fundaments, A VMware Cloud Verified partner operating from seven data centers located throughout the Netherlands, and a team of more than 50 vetted and experienced experts – all of whom are Dutch nationals – is growing rapidly. With an expanding customer base that includes public and private-sector leaders, demand for the company’s solutions is being driven by enterprises that must monitor their data and ensure that it remains on Dutch soil at all times.

We recently connected with Larik-Jan Verschuren, chief technology officer at Fundaments, to learn more about the company’s recently announced honor of being the first to earn the VMware Sovereign Cloud distinction in the Netherlands, find out what’s driving the demand for sovereign approaches to data management, and get his thoughts on future demand.

“One of the unique things about Fundaments is that we offer a mission-critical, sovereign cloud and Infrastructure-as-a-Service for managed service providers and independent software companies as well as other private-sector businesses and government agencies,” says Verschuren. “Sovereignty means having true control from A to Z – from the physical hardware and services that are located here in the Netherlands, to the engineers operating workloads, and everything that is under their orchestration and management. At Fundaments, all data is stored in the Netherlands and we have a completely Dutch organization. Customers’ data is not exposed to any foreign input in any way.”

Verschuren notes that Fundaments, which operates a network of seven tier-3 datacenters across the nation, chose to achieve the VMware Sovereign Cloud distinction after seeing a significant increase in demand for data to be stored in the Netherlands. Just as importantly, these same enterprises had to be able to demonstrate certification and compliance with sovereignty requirements.

“Due to the increase in globalization and digitization more and more data is being used in the cloud, and more and more companies find it important to know that this data, their most important asset, is accessible and safe on a Dutch cloud platform,” adds Verschuren. “The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also prompted companies to think carefully about where their data is stored and the sovereignty issues that must be considered to be compliant.”

Verschuren also notes that compliance officers and chief information security officers are increasingly mindful of data integrity and demand the strongest levels of protection. Simultaneously, the pandemic accelerated digitization and contributed to the growing demand for innovation, analytics, and the capabilities the cloud delivers. Both factors directed organizations to Fundaments.

“By virtue of our VMware Sovereign Cloud status and the innovation and focus on compliance inherent in our work, Fundaments fulfills all of these needs,” he says. “Our customers know that their data sovereignty requirements will be met and that they are compliant with all relevant regulations here in the Netherlands – all on a platform that enables them to transform their businesses with the power of the cloud.”

Notably, Fundaments has worked extensively with VMware for years while serving its customers.

“We of course aren’t new at offering sovereign cloud services,” says Verschuren. “For two decades we’ve built our hosting operation around geographically dispersed, high security data centers in the Netherlands,” says Verschuren. “We wanted our cloud offerings to be a fully certified, all Dutch answer to the large hyperscalers, and we wanted them to be utterly stable, reliable, and scalable – qualities that differently reflect the VMware technologies we use in our platform and services.”

Verschuren believes that the demand for sovereign cloud services will only grow in light of geopolitical events and efforts to protect personal information. He also predicts that Fundaments’ ability to provide highly personalized service 24/7 will remain a significant differentiator for organizations that need to manage sensitive workloads that demand sovereignty.

“Our customers can consult with one of our engineers within minutes on any day and at any time,” he says. “With our focus on technology, processes, and people we are able to embrace and address the constantly evolving IT needs of our customers and our partners in an environment that is purpose-built to meet and exceed the most demanding sovereignty requirements.”

Learn more about Fundaments and its partnership with VMware, here.

Cloud Computing, IT Leadership

The shift to a digital business environment in financial services began well before the pandemic pushed it and other sectors to more rapidly embrace digital transformation. As customers have become increasingly digitally savvy, they demand that financial services firms be more responsive to their needs. Those organizations that don’t make that change risk losing their customers to those that adopted an agile, customer-centric approach to business.

The financial services sector is also subject to more rigorous regulatory requirements than some other industries. Protection of PII data is critical, as financial services firms are extremely popular targets for hackers. Even in the best of times, financial organizations were under constant threat of a cyberattack. During the pandemic, that threat multiplied exponentially.

Three-quarters (74%) of banks experienced a rise in cyber crime since the pandemic began in 2019. However, for many financial services organizations, security and agility traditionally haven’t been mutually achievable—oftentimes, one was sacrificed for the other. That won’t work in today’s digital environment, where customer experience is the top priority.

Customers today want a user experience that is seamless across devices and environments. These days, it’s not unusual for a customer to access a bank’s mobile app to check their account balance, deposit a check or chat with a representative. Customers want to be able to transfer money to anyone, anywhere; get an answer instantly regarding their loan application; and have access to their deposits right away, with no hold on their funds. They want to initiate a transaction online and have the option to finish it in the branch via a rep (either in-person or via video) who can also let the customer know about service offerings that may be beneficial to them. And they want all these things with minimal friction or delay.

Enabling these customer-centric services requires a level of agility not seen traditionally in financial services organizations. Organizations must also ensure their data is protected and compliant. SD-WAN can help financial services organizations achieve network agility and security. Its benefits are myriad and far-reaching, able to accommodate the services that enable financial services organizations to provide customers with the highest-quality experience from anywhere, on any device. Its design provides for fast, efficient movement of data on the network while ensuring security and data integrity.

An SD-WAN overlays traditional or hybrid WAN infrastructures and locates the software or hardware nodes at each location and in the cloud. Then, based on policies defined by the operator, SD-WAN steers the traffic along the best path to ensure data moves along the fastest route.

The application-aware nature of SD-WAN enables IT administrators to determine the most intelligent path for their applications and push, manage and update policies for optimal application and network performance across locations. And because a SD-WAN is centrally managed, all provisioning and changes to the network and applications are done from one location—reducing the time and resources necessary to manage the network. Additionally, all security policies can be managed centrally, enabling IT administrators to implement security updates to all devices and users on the entire network quickly and easily, to help enable compliance.

With a software-defined infrastructure, it is also easier to collect network usage information, which could help organizations better detect anomalous behavior that could point to a security breach or attack. When combined with managed security services and solutions such as next-generation firewalls and secure web gateways, SD-WAN can provide financial services organizations with an infrastructure that offers security as well as the performance necessary for providing high-quality customer experiences.

Comcast Business offers a unique set of secure network solutions to help power financial services organizations. Its portfolio of security offerings includes DDoS mitigation, managed firewall and unified threat management, all designed to complement its SD-WAN technology.

Be ready for tomorrow’s security threats with the next generation of secure networking from Comcast Business. Learn more about Comcast Business Secure Network Solutions.