Cenitex ‘flips’ cloud security conversation to boost Australian uptake

Cloud adoption by Australian businesses is growing at a rapid rate yet still lags behind other countries. The slower adoption has been attributed in large part to increasing concerns around cyber security,  data privacy and capability as well as a widening skills shortage.

However, organisations like Cenitex, which was established by the Victoria state government to centralise ICT support its departments and agencies, say they have “flipped” the conversation around security, noting it’s no longer just about the data centre perimeter, but instead more about having security follow the user.

0 (14)Addressing a gathering of media and analysts in Sydney, Cenitex director of digital transformation, Nav Pillai, said security was no longer about protecting just the data centre, but also the devices used daily by the firm’s large workforce.

The organisation, which services some 36,000 users situated in 450 offices across the state, has adopted San Jose based IT security specialist Zscaler’s cloud platform to secure IT services.

“One of the biggest guidelines from the Victorian Government policy perspective, is [that] it wants to encourage people working remotely, working from home, and have diversity in what people can access and from where,” said Pillai.

“All these considered, we can’t keep doing what we were doing in the data centre,” he told Telecom Times. ‘The devices, when taken away from the office and into a home with WiFi or a café, then the user isn’t protected; only the data centre is protected – so we have to remove the interface.”

The Zscaler cloud platform supports the organisation’s use of cloud-based applications including Microsoft Office 365, and will also offer protection to Victorian Government guest WiFi users.

Pillai said the current model allowed the service provider to work with different partners when it comes to telecommunication needs.

“In Melbourne CBD we have a huge building with 1,000 people working in the City Department,” he added.

“That means we have to work with two big telco providers to provide fibre cable. When you go into our regional offices where there are only 10 people, it doesn’t make sense to actually have a fibre connection, that’s when you have to look at a cheaper option”.

Pillai acknowledged that the situation had become complex, because the company no longer dealt with just one service provider, but did emphasise that the “cost benefits and the business outcomes” for the customer meant it was far better than sticking with one provider.

AIIA voices concern over ‘critical pieces of rushed digital legislation’

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the peak member body for the ICT industry, is calling for more consultation between government and industry following the speed at which two critical pieces of legislation for the digital sector passed through both houses in parliament in the past five months.

These are the Assistance and Access Act passed by parliament on 6 December 2018, and
more recently the amendments to Australia’s Criminal Code triggered by the Christchurch shooting video, which was passed through parliament in just two days in April.

Ron_GauciRon Gauci, CEO of the AIIA, said: “More dialogue is required between government and industry to ensure legislation keeps pace with technological developments.

The Government’s reaction shows a complete lack of understanding of the modern economy and the role of ICT in underpinning economic growth.

The unintended consequences of both pieces of legislation, and the damage to the Australian digital sector and multinational companies operating in Australia are yet to be understood.”

The amendments proposed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security have not been revisited since the Act was passed in December 2019. Meanwhile, the amendments to the Criminal Code involved no consultation with industry and received royal assent on 5 April 2019.

“In the case of the Assistance and Access Act, a consultation process was undertaken.
However, the speed at which the Bill was introduced in parliament – seven business days after public consultations closed – suggests that very little consideration was given to the over 344 public submissions.

“Critically, both sets of legislation fail to establish clear processes for companies to follow,” said Mr Gauci. “Without greater dialogue between the digital industry and government, and the departments that serve the government of the day, we will continue to see implementation of regulatory frameworks that are out of step with technological developments.”

AIIA URGES GOVT TO CO-DESIGN CONSUMER DATA RIGHTS WITH CONSUMERS

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the peak member body for the ICT industry, is calling for the Government to work with industry and consumers to co-design the proposed Consumer Data Rights (CDR) regulatory framework before its phased implementation from 1 July 2019.
The CDR Bill 2019 is designed to create an extensive regulatory framework for the sharing of consumer data across industry sectors and was introduced into House of Representatives in February. It was immediately referred by the Senate to its Economics and Legislation Committee for inquiry and a report, due by 18 March 2019.
Commenting on the proposed CDR Bill, AIIA CEO Ron Gauci said: “AIIA members support the establishment of a CDR regulatory framework that protects consumer data while fostering innovation in the telecommunications sector. However, AIIA members do not support the imposition of a CDR ‘template’ that is developed to suit the characteristics of the banking and energy sectors. Our members are clear of the need for a telecommunications specific template.
“There is a real risk that inadequate stakeholder engagement and rushed implementation will result in an ambiguous and complex CDR regulatory framework. This could potentially create an unnecessary and onerous compliance burden for the different industry sectors and alienate consumers.
“The CDR initiative is just one example of where Government legislation and regulatory frameworks struggle to keep pace with technology-led business change and innovation. Therefore, we urge the Government, consumers and the telecommunication industry to work together to co-design a clear and trusted CDR regulatory framework.”
The AIIA recommends:
• The implementation of the CDR regulatory framework should include iterative review points.
• Data collected and lessons learnt from the review points should be incorporated into the regulatory frameworks for the energy and telecommunications sectors of the economy.
• These reviews should include consideration of technological advancements and the adequacy of existing regulatory frameworks that already apply to the telecommunication sector.
AIIA has made two previous joint submissions to Government on the CDR regulatory framework in September and October 2018. The issues raised in these joint submissions by AIIA and Communications Alliance members remain current.
The Bill is due to be debated in Parliament during its 2 April 2019 sitting days. The Bill, if successfully enacted, is due to come into effect from 1 July 2019.

Tech skills shortages hampering Australian businesses: Nutanix

New data released by Nutanix has found that 63% of Australian businesses have trouble retaining IT talent and are scrambling to keep pace with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.

The firm’s first annual Enterprise Cloud Index, which polled IT decision makers in medium-to-large enterprises in Australia, revealed that almost 90% of Australian respondents were racing to reskill IT teams, and that AI and machine learning were the top skills IT departments are currently lacking, followed closely by blockchain.

The survey also found that, despite widespread concern over AI’s impact on jobs – recently highlighted by a Frost & Sullivan report that indicated 40% of high-routine and low-skilled tasks would be replaced by 2025-2030[1] – respondents welcomed the technology with almost three quarters reporting it was having a positive impact on their organisations. Only 4% reported a negative impact.

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Nutanix ASEAN, ANZ & India VP  Neville Vincent

“The positive reaction towards the likes of AI and blockchain is testament to Australia’s propensity to react well to emerging technologies,” said Nutanix ASEAN, ANZ & India VP  Neville Vincent. “But the skills gap in successfully using these technologies is a major concern and could prevent Australia from capitalising on the boom markets they will bring. AI and automation alone are tipped to be worth potential trillions of dollars to the Australian economy over the next 15 years.”[2]

“While initiatives such as the Federal Government’s Inspiring All Australians in Digital Literacy and STEM measures show promise to normalise coding and digital skills among the workforce, they will take time to reap rewards, so the fact that organisations are embracing these technologies and training their workforce to get up to speed is reassuring” said Vincent.

Public cloud meeting requirements, but at a cost

The survey also revealed that Australian organisations were behind global peers in terms of cloud adoption but were moving faster in that direction. In the next two years, more than 80% public cloud adoption is expected, versus just over 50% now.

Satisfaction among public cloud users is high, with expectations either fully or partially being met among all respondents, with performance, data security and compliance the top benefits. However, almost 30% of organisations using cloud are breaking their budgets to get these benefits.

“All the signs point towards continued public cloud adoption among Australian enterprises, with other research predicting it will hit $5.6 billion by 2019,” added Vincent. “But there is a danger in costs spinning out of control.”

“Australian organisations are already paying a lot to enjoy the benefits of public cloud, and we can see from other regions ahead in the cloud race that this problem tends to worsen. With the Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities, and a host of other IT-intensive, cloud-reliant digital innovation underway, organisations need to watch their step and not take a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to cloud investment” said Vincent.

The research highlighted that while public cloud was the current trend, businesses would actually favour hybrid cloud*, using at least one each of public and private cloud services working in tandem. Flexibility in choosing the right cloud for each application and the consolidation of cloud management and operations were the main reasons for this.

“This supports what we’re seeing in Australia and around the world,” said Vincent. “Local enterprises know hybrid cloud is the best mix, but while there is a gap in linking public and private cloud, organisations are favouring public and willing to pay over the odds for it.”

“The research shows that a lack of IT skills will continue to be an issue for Australian organisations, and so the underlying infrastructure needs to be kept simple to reduce that pressure and enable the businesses to be able to benefit from new technologies. The IT industry needs to make sure true hybrid cloud is available for businesses to maximise these benefits.”

[1] AI Disrupting Labor Ecosystems, Automation to Replace Human Element in Routine and Low-Skilled Jobs by 2030, Predicts Frost & Sullivan

[2] The Automation Advantage – AlphaBeta

New cashed up firm Optic Security Group to offer integrated IT security suite

Move amalgamates six key trans-Tasman security companies

A new company set to become Australia and New Zealand’s largest independent and most technically advanced physical, IT and information security group has been launched, following a merger of six entities with combined revenues of some A$100 million.

Dubbed Optic Security Group,  the firm will operate across ANZ and bring together the combined capability and expertise of primary security businesses, including Australian-based companies Securities and Security & Technology Services and Bemac, and New Zealand-based physical security company Fortlock, which recently acquired IT experts Comsmart, Circuit Systems and SSL.

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Open Security Group CEO Jason Cherrington

“Safeguarding people, information and technology has become much more complex and this rapidly changing risk profile is making the need to protect critical infrastructure against both physical and digital threats an absolute imperative,” said Optic Security Group CEO Jason Cherrington.

“The formation of the Optic Security Group will enable us to meet the needs of customers as converging security requirements grow and become more complex, be they physical or digital. These threats are now exposing directors to a complex liability that if not mitigated successfully lead to significant financial, criminal and brand damaging outcomes that Boards have to be fully aware of, and then protected against. That’s our purpose.”

“We also had a particularly clear vision to create a trans-Tasman capability that has full geographic coverage across both markets and depth in technical and industry expertise to tackle these emerging challenges and deliver appropriate solutions to our customers – now achievable with a scale presence in both Australia and New Zealand,” added Cherrington.

According to the Group, its members were selected over a 12-month period to ensure complementary capabilities in respect of geographic coverage and industry expertise, aligned to deliver  a fully converged IT security proposition – a globally emerging trend that is driving industry growth by over 10%.

Huawei picks Australian students for global ‘Seeds for the Future’ ICT program

Huawei Australia has selected 29 undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) students to participate in its Seeds for the Future program.

In partnership with the Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) and supported by the Australian Government New Colombo Plan, the students will travel to China for three-weeks of cultural and hands-on IT lessons and training.

Huawei’s Seeds for the Future initiative aims to encourage local ICT talent, promotes interest in the telecommunications sector and seeks to foster a greater understanding of  China.

The students will take part in a wide range of Chinese cultural and business experiences ranging from learning Mandarin at the Beijing Language and Cultural University, to visiting The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall of China.

The student will then visit Huawei’s Shenzhen headquarters for product and services training with the telco’s industry leaders.

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Huawei Australia CEO George Huang

Huawei Australia CEO George Huang tipped industry training and education as vital to ensure Australia’s next generation of ICT professionals are well prepared to contribute to the telco industry when they enter the workforce.

“Exposure to Huawei’s world leading research and development environment will help the students to understand the commitment and focus required to continually move the industry forward,” he said.

Seeds for the Future is a global initiative, implemented in 96 countries worldwide. Since 2013, Huawei Australia has provided over 75 Australian undergraduates with the opportunity to learn about China and to experience Huawei’s dynamic global business. The program is in its fifth year in Australia and is growing in momentum.

Global businesses flag sourcing hybrid IT talent as key challenge: study

New Nutanix  data has revealed that while businesses globally see clear benefits of  the hybrid cloud model, respondents list scarcity of hybrid experts as a major obstacle to adoption, with 54% claiming talent retention is part of the problem.

According to Nutanix’  first annual global Enterprise Cloud Index organisations worldwide are hungry for hybrid cloud (91%) yet only 18% have that model today.

Other finding  from the study which surveyed 2,300 respondents  – including ANZ organisations –  include

  • Interoperability between cloud types was the main driver for hybrid cloud, outranking cost and security
  • 71% ranked data security and regulatory compliance as the top factor to determine where to put workloads

The findings also revealed that application mobility across any cloud is a top priority for 97% of respondents – with 88% of respondents saying it would “solve a lot of my problems.”

Additionally, the report found public cloud is not a panacea; IT decision makers ranked matching applications to the right cloud environment as a critical capability, and 35% of organisations using public clouds overspent their annual budget. When asked to rank the primary benefits of hybrid cloud, interoperability between cloud types (23%) and the ability to move applications back and forth between clouds (16%) outranked cost (6%) and security (5%) as the primary benefits.

Nutanix commissioned Vanson Bourne to survey IT decision makers about where they are running their business applications today, where they plan to run them in the future, challenges in setting up their cloud environments and how their cloud initiatives stack up against other IT projects and priorities.

The survey resulted in approximately 2,300 respondents from multiple industries, business sizes and geographies in the Americas; Europe, the Middle East, Africa (EMEA); and Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ) regions.

In roles centred on agility and digital transformation, IT teams understand that runtime environments for enterprise apps change constantly. Respondents indicated a need for greater orchestration and application mobility across cloud environments, as they seek flexibility to move apps to the “right” cloud on a more dynamic basis.

In addition, shadow IT practices that circumvent enterprise IT teams are posing a significant challenge to forecasting and controlling public cloud spend with well over half of respondents (57%) reporting one or more incidents of shadow IT