Harnessing Data at the Intelligent Edge

By:  Morten Illum, EMEA Vice President at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

Within the next two years, Gartner predicts that over 50% of data will be generated at the edge of networks. As the world recovers from the pandemic, this data will play a big role in helping companies survive and thrive in the new order. We have already seen an unprecedented amount of change over the past couple of months, which has led to many organisations accelerate their digital transformation journey – with data sitting at the heart of their strategies.

However, data is a commodity which is not necessarily valuable in and of itself. In order to evolve, organisations need to be able to process and store data securely, they need to analyse and derive insights from it, and they need to drive business outcomes from those insights.

To successfully unlock the potential of data at the intelligent edge, organisations must have a fortified, resilient and secure network in place. With this in mind, here are three network management components that are integral to digital transformation (and therefore data success) in the post-COVID era.


The huge increase in the number of devices generating data means that network traffic is busier than ever. Today’s IT teams require closed-loop, end-to-end access control from the moment devices join the network. However, given the enormous variety of devices connecting to the network, manual human intervention is no longer practical. This is where artificial intelligence  (AI) comes in.

Adopted as a ‘sixth-sense’, AI allows teams to develop policies that leverage context, such as the user role, device type, certificate status, location or application to make quick and accurate automated decisions each and every time. When leveraged correctly, AI can even make adjustments before network issues arise. AI-based analytics can ensure that when a device begins to act suspiciously, it is automatically isolated, keeping other traffic separate and secure.

While even the best network engineers can spend hours trying to identify a problem – AI-based platforms do this work automatically with 95% accuracy. What’s more, through automation AI-driven platforms can redeploy time to IT staff, allowing them to focus more on critical thinking, innovation and value-add tasks.


COVID-19 has also exacerbated the issue of overly complex networks based on disperate architectures as organisations attempt to right size for a given location. To address this issue, organisations should focus on network platforms with a unified infrastructure. This allows the entire network to be managed centrally from a single platform, rather than with separate applications across wired, wireless and SD-WAN. It also relieves the IT team from having to manually replicate changes, from campus to branch, and data centre to remote workers. No longer having to swivel chair manage multiple systems, a central platform allows network managers to operate with greater speed and agility.

The rise in remote working, and the need for network managers to seek better visibility and control over increasingly disparate networks, has also led to a stronger emphasis on cloud management. Cloud-native network management platforms allow organisations greater flexibility, offering a simple and intuitive way to manage the deployment and network assurance for wireless, wired and SD-WAN topologies from a single console.

A cloud-based network solution will become increasingly relevant for companies as they adapt to the ‘new normal’ and must find ways to support remote working, social distancing requirements and Track and Trace solutions. When managed from a central hub, a network management platform can correlate cross-domain events to reduce issue resolution time and manual errors, ultimately improving business agility.


Workforce mobility and work from home scenarios continue to expand the IT perimeter, as employees often access corporate resources on personal devices and from public Wi-Fi networks that are not secure. With more applications moving to the cloud – whether sanctioned by IT or not – protecting an organisation’s data has become even more challenging.

Given this, organisations must consider adopting a security framework based on the concept that all entities – both inside and outside the network perimeter – should and must be handled with care (i.e. Zero Trust). In practicality, this approach should ensure the identity of an endpoint, then enforce the policies applied to those endpoints with an application aware firewall. What’s more, network platforms should be underpinned by a collaborative approach which involves sharing information with other security platforms and dynamically adjusting policies to endpoints on the network.


According to IDC, 55 billion devices will be connecting to networks within the next two years and are expected to generate 79.4ZB of data by 2025. When you combine that with the irreversible shifts to a remote and distributed workforce, you can see that the network and IT need the right tools to keep pace. And automation, unified infrastructure and security are good starting points to consider these tools.

Ooredoo Collaborates with Nutanix to Launch VDI-as-a-Service for Businesses in Kuwait

Ooredoo Telecom, the first to introduce innovative digital services in Kuwait, has signed a partnership with Nutanix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTNX), a leader in enterprise cloud computing, to offer Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)-as-a-Service to businesses in Kuwait. The telecom service provider has implemented Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform combined with Citrix Virtual Desktops software in its datacentre with a view to provide a fully supported solution for desktop virtualization to small and medium businesses (SMBs) and enterprise customers.

Aaron White, Regional Sales Director, Middle East, at Nutanix says, “COVID-19 has made Work from Home a necessity over the last couple of months and even post-pandemic, this remote working trend will most likely continue and gain momentum. Most organizations in Kuwait are faced with the challenging task of setting up their employees to work remotely, while still maintaining access to the same tools and applications they require to be productive. Many of these companies are just not fully equipped with the technology, tools and processes to make this a reality.”

“We are pleased to partner with Ooredoo to help organizations speed up their digitization efforts through the VDI-as-a-Service offering. Companies will now be able to spin up and provision desktops in record time without having to provide new hardware to users spread across the country.”

Ooredoo will offer VDI-as-a-Service on a subscription basis out of its state-of-the-art data centre facilities that offer integrated networking, security, service SLAs and a host of other solutions to business in Kuwait.

Physical desktops and laptops are becoming a poor fit for today’s dynamic, digital workplace. Intelligent digital workspaces, delivered by VDI, enable users to access applications and information from anywhere while data remains secure, making them ideal for end-user computing needs. The advantages of VDI-as-a-Service are around flexibility, scalability, security and cost savings with the OPEX model being highly favoured by businesses looking to save on high up-front infrastructure costs.

Speaking about the launch of the new solution, Mr. Bilal Agha, B2B Marketing Director at Ooredoo Kuwait says, “Our company is at the forefront of technology innovation and we are proud to be the first telco service provider in Kuwait to introduce VDI-as-a-Service, in response to the needs of our business customers. We have partnered with two world leading vendors – Nutanix, that delivers a web-scale, hyperconverged solution purpose-built for virtualization and cloud environments and Citrix, a leader in virtual desktop infrastructure. We believe that this solution will find great uptake by both public and private organizations in the country as they realize that technology workers are going to increasingly demand workplace flexibility in future.”

In the Heart of Nature – Crans-Montana

By Natasha Dury

The Swiss Alps have so much more to offer than just winter sports and snowy mountains. The destination has visitors all year round and is just as popular in the summer, when walking outside is easier with views of breathtaking nature and for outdoor sports.

This summer we headed out to Crans-Montana in the district of Sierre in the canton of Valais, Switzerland. It is a ski resort that was created through the fusion of the two centers of Crans and Montana and is now a sought after destination for celebrities.

Other than hosting spectacular World Ski Championships, guests also come from far to Crans-Montana to enjoy the pop rock festival, bicycle racing and the Omega European Masters golf tournament.

Crans-Montana offers an impressive view of mountain peaks from the Matterhorn to Mont Blanc and offers visitors luxury holiday retreats with expansive natural landscapes and panoramic views of the Valais Alps.

We were able to enjoy shopping in the quaint village shops, get high end luxury brands, walked near aromatic mountain forests, and along a lake, learnt first hand how to make cheese with a local farmer and tried our hand at golf with a talented golf trainer.

For panoramic views, visitors can take the gondolas from Crans-Montana to the top and enjoy places like the Plaine Morte Glacier, experience mountain rides such as the “Petit Bonvin”, the “Cry d’Err” or “Les Violettes, or just hike at their own pace.

Crans-Montana is perfect for family holidays as local parks and summer camps offer numerous activities like sledge runs, tobogganing, swings, drawing competitions, golf clinics at the “highest golf course in the world”, a fun Forest Adventure Park, lake walks, water sports, hike excursions, music festivals and amusement parks.

We visited the Beach Club, which had beach volleyball, banana boating on the lake and cable wakeboarding. We had coffee on the deckchairs watching the locals swim, enjoying meals with families and relax with board games.

Art enthusiasts can visit various museums and art galleries in Crans-Montana which has galleries dedicated to art fans and collectors having access to the works of internationally renowned artists as well as new talent.

Food in Crans-Montana was a delight. With mouth-watering sushi at our hotel’s Japanese restaurant, MiZUKI by Kakinuma’, raclette and fondue during the evenings.

Highlight was the gastronomic meal in the mountains at Chetzeron Hotel which was memorable at 2112 m. The menu included an “Alpine refined” flavoured cuisine from traditional Valais-based specialities to contemporary inspirations. We had great seafood at La Plage and even had Lebanese food for dinner, similar to what we would find in Dubai.

We stayed at the Guarda Golf Hotel & Residences located in the heart of the picturesque Crans-Montana. It was an intimate and elegant home for us with personalised service and it is clearly one of the finest luxury hotels in Switzerland being a member of Swiss Deluxe Hotels as well as of The Leading Hotels of the World. Our room had spectacular panoramic views of the Swiss Alps.

To get to Crans-Montana, we flew SWISS from Dubai, which was a comfortable and enjoyable arriving in Zurich in time to start our travel adventure in different parts of Switzerland using the Swiss Pass that allowed us to see many parts of beautiful Switzerland.


Unifree Partners with R&M to Pioneer Digitally Driven Shopping Experiences at World’s Largest Duty Free Zone

To deliver innovative new digitally-driven shopping experiences that enhance the convenience and safety of travelers, Unifree Duty Free, the operator of the world’s largest duty free zone, has implemented state-of-the-art retail technologies at the New Istanbul Airport. These solutions – which rely on a cutting-edge network infrastructure from Swiss structured cabling specialist R&M – include three-dimensional holograms, enhanced digital signage systems, and touch-free digital shopping technologies.

Offering an example of how its technology innovations strongly position Istanbul Grand Airport to ensure the safety and well-being of the ninety million travelers expected to visit the Duty Free zone annually, Osman Ayhan, Director of Information Technology at Unifree Duty Free said, “Enhanced digital signage systems give customers the opportunity to virtually try on luxury watches, jewelry and suits before they decide whether to buy or not.” This touch-free experience will be especially important to travelers in the post-COVID world.

Global events at the start of 2020, have resulted in a spike in digital payments with the total transaction value in the digital payments segment projected to reach $4.4. trillion this year. As retailers see a surge in digital and contact-less payments, the high-performance network from R&M will enable retailers are the Duty Free zone to offer these options in a reliable and highly secure manner. Other systems that are vital to smooth operations and traveler safety such as office workstations, Voice-over-IP telephones, and security systems are also connected to the R&M cabling network.

Mr. Ayhan explained that the decision to partner with R&M was based on a highly-positive recommendation from the airport’s IT department which has itself utilized 5,400 km of copper cablings and 3,270 km of fiber-optic cabling from R&M for connectivity of critical airport IT systems. “R&M is characterized by its quality, innovation, fast delivery times, expertise, flexibility and modular products. We also see the team spirit at R&M, the back-office support and the special training of installers on-site as a distinct advantage,” he said.

“We are extremely proud to expand R&M’s footprint at the world’s largest airport. Unifree has demonstrated a commitment to pioneering the new digital shopping experiences that will be essential to travelers in the coming months and years. The technologies we have provided serve as a reliable platform on which the company can continue to innovate with confidence in the performance, security and reliability of the underlying systems,” said Nabil Khalil, Executive Vice-President of R&M Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

Located at the heart of the terminal of Istanbul Grand Airport (IGA), the Duty Free zone offers state-of-the-art shopping. The sales area run by Unifree covers 56,000 square meters. Since the airport was opened in 2018, 54 brand, concept and flagship stores have moved in. A further 102 sub-operators, exclusive boutiques and a bazaar with local products rounded out the offer.

Importance of Gi-LAN Function Consolidation in the 5G World

By: Hesham Elsherif, Principal System Engineer at A10 Networks

Today’s LTE and 4G networks have been playing an important role in supporting mobile broadband services (e.g., video conferencing, high-definition content streaming, etc.) across millions of smart devices, such as smartphones, laptops, tablets and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The number of connected devices is on the rise, growing 15 percent or more year-over-year and projected to be 28.5 billion devices by 2022 according to Cisco VNI forecast.

Mobile service providers have been challenged to support such a high growth of connected devices and their corresponding increases in network traffic. Adding networking nodes to scale-out capacity is a relatively easy change. Meanwhile, it’s essential for service providers to keep offering innovative value-added services to differentiate service experience and monetise new services. These services including parental control, URL filtering, content protection and endpoint device protection from malware and ID theft, to name a few.

Service providers, however, are now facing new challenges of operational complexity and extra network latency coming from those services. Such challenges will become even more significant when it comes to 5G, as this will drive even more rapid proliferation of mobile and the IoT devices. It will be critical to minimise latency to ensure there are no interruptions to emerging mission-critical services that are expected to dramatically increase with 5G networks.

Gi-LAN Network Overview

In a mobile network, there are two segments between the radio network and the Internet: the evolved packet core (EPC) and the Gi/SGi-LAN. The EPC is a packet-based mobile core running both voice and data on 4G/ LTE networks. The Gi-LAN is the network where service providers typically provide various homegrown and value-added services using unique capabilities through a combination of IP-based service functions, such as firewall, carrier-grade NAT (CGNAT), deep packet inspection (DPI), policy control, traffic and content optimisation. And these services are generally provided by a wide variety of vendors. Service providers need to steer the traffic and direct it to specific service functions, which may be chained, only when necessary, in order to meet specific policy enforcement and service-level agreements for each subscriber.

The Gi-LAN network is an essential segment that enables enhanced security and value-added service offerings to differentiate and monetise services. Therefore, it’s crucial to have an efficient Gi-LAN architecture to deliver a high-quality service experience.

Challenges in Gi-LAN Segment

In the today’s 4G/ LTE world, a typical mobile service provider has an ADC, a DPI, a CGNAT and a firewall device as part of Gi-LAN service components. They are mainly deployed as independent network functions on dedicated physical devices from a wide range of vendors. This makes Gi-LAN complex and inflexible from operational and management perspective. Thus, this type of architecture, as known as monolithic architecture, is reaching its limits and does not scale to meet the needs of the rising data traffic in 4G and 4G+ architectures. This will continue to be an issue in 5G infrastructure deployments. The two most serious issues are:

  1. Increased latency
  2. Significantly higher total cost of ownership

Latency is becoming a significant concern since lower latency is required by online gaming and video streaming services even today. With the transition to 5G, ultra-reliable low-latency connectivity targets latencies of less than 1ms for use cases, such as real-time interactive AR/ VR, tactile Internet, industrial automation, mission/life-critical service like remote surgery, self-driving cars and many more. The architecture with individual service functions on different hardware has a major impact on this promise of lower latency. Multiple service functions are usually chained and every hop the data packet traversing between service functions adds additional latency, causing overall service degradation.

The management overhead of each solution independently is also a burden. The network operator must invest in monitoring, management and deployment services for all devices from various vendors individually, resulting in large operational expenses.

Solution – Consolidating Service Functions in Gi-LAN

In order to overcome these issues, there are a few approaches you can take. From architecture perspective, Service-Based Architecture (SBA) or microservices architecture will address operational concerns since leveraging such architecture leads to higher flexibility and automation and significant cost reduction. However, it less likely addresses the network latency concern because each service function, regardless of VNF or microservice, still contributes in the overall latency as far as they are deployed as individual VM or microservice.

So, what if multiple service functions are consolidated into one instance? For example, CGNAT and Gi firewall are fundamental components in the mobile network, and some subscribers may choose to use additional services such as DPI, URL filtering. Such consolidation is feasible only if the product/ solution supports flexible traffic steering and service chaining capabilities along with those service functions. By consolidating Gi-LAN service functions into one instance/ appliance, it helps drastically reduce the extra latency and simplify network design and operation. Such concepts are not new but there aren’t many vendors who can provide consolidated Gi-LAN service functions at scale.

Therefore, when building an efficient Gi-LAN network, service providers need to consider a solution that can offer:

  • Multiple network and service functions on a single instance/ appliance
  • Flexible service chaining support
  • Subscriber awareness and DPI capability supported for granular traffic steering
  • Variety of form-factor options – physical (PNF) and virtual (VNF) appliances
  • High performance and capacity with scale-out capability
  • Easy integration and transition to SDN/NFV deployment

Boeing, Etihad Airways and World Energy lift sustainable aviation fuel to the next level on ecoDemonstrator programme

Boeing [NYSE:BA] and Etihad Airways concluded testing on the aerospace company’s 2020 ecoDemonstrator programme last week with a cross-country flight using a 50/50 blend of sustainable and traditional jet fuel.

Flying from Seattle to Boeing’s manufacturing site in South Carolina, Etihad’s newest 787-10 Dreamliner used the maximum sustainable fuel blend permitted for commercial aviation. The transcontinental flight also demonstrated a new way for pilots, air traffic controllers and airline operations centers to communicate simultaneously and optimize routing.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Etihad Aviation Group Chief Operating Officer, said: “Together with Boeing and the national airline’s sustainable aviation fuel partners World Energy and EPIC, Etihad used 50,000 gallons of a 50/50 blend of sustainable aviation fuel on the final flight of our ecoDemonstrator 787-10 flight tests. This is a monumental step forward for the sector to prove the viability of producing a 50/50 blend of sustainable aviation fuel [SAF] at a high volume, an important moment for the industry.”

Al Bulooki added: “This is a prime example of industry collaboration towards sustainable aviation and innovation. Etihad’s collaboration with Boeing in the ecoDemonstrator programme has been a unique opportunity to lead the aviation industry’s drive for a sustainable future.”

Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator programme takes promising technologies out of the lab and tests them in the air to accelerate innovation. This year’s program evaluated four projects to reduce emissions and noise and enhance the safety and health of passengers and crew. All of the 787-10 test flights used a blend of traditional jet fuel and sustainable fuel produced from inedible agricultural wastes to minimize emissions, with the final flight operating at the maximum 50/50 commercial blend.

“Sustainable aviation fuels are proven and work in airplanes flying today and those that will fly tomorrow, but there’s a very limited supply,” said Sheila Remes, vice president of strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “World Energy is making commercial-scale volumes of sustainable fuel at competitive prices, leveraging government low-carbon incentives to accelerate production and use in an industry that relies on liquid fuels.”

The fuel from World Energy and supplied to Boeing by EPIC Fuels has been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials to reduce carbon emissions by more than 75% over the fuel’s life cycle.

“We congratulate Boeing and Etihad for their industry leadership in helping push the technical and sustainability boundaries of SAF,” said Bryan Sherbacow, chief commercial officer at World Energy. “This 50/50 blend demonstrates the maximum achievable greenhouse gas reduction commercially available today for aviation fuel.”

The partnership between Boeing and Etihad Airways represents a longstanding collaboration to make flying more sustainable. The two companies were among the founding partners that created the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium in 2010. Based at Khalifa University near Abu Dhabi, the pilot project for a unique desert ecosystem produces sustainable fuel from plants that grow in the desert, irrigated by coastal seawater. Etihad used the initial batch of fuel from the pilot project in January 2019 on a passenger flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam.

In January 2020, Etihad took delivery of its signature green 787-10 using a fuel mix comprising 30% SAF produced by World Energy.

Boeing has been a leader in industry efforts to develop sustainable aviation fuel since before the first test flight on a commercial airliner in 2008. Along with others in the industry, the company worked to gain certification of sustainable fuel for commercial use in 2011 and collaborates around the world to create regional production roadmaps.

For more than a decade, World Energy and EPIC Fuels have produced and supplied SAF to Boeing for flight testing. Boeing offers airlines the option of using sustainable fuel for their airplane delivery flights. The first of these occurred in 2012 with an Etihad 777-300ER delivery flight from Everett, Washington, to Abu Dhabi.

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As a top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries. Boeing employs more than 160,000 people worldwide and leverages the talents of a global supplier base. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.

Nutanix Launches Kubernetes Platform-as-a-Service for the Multicloud Era

Karbon Platform Services Provides Managed Offering to Accelerate Container-Based Application Delivery and Operations on Any Cloud

Nutanix (NASDAQ: NTNX), a leader in enterprise cloud computing, today announced Karbon Platform Services, a Kubernetes-based multicloud Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) with automated system-managed security, to accelerate the development and deployment of microservices-based apps across any cloud. This offering provides software developers with a turnkey managed services experience, on-premises, in the public cloud, and at the edge, to build and run cloud native applications while enabling them to decouple applications from the underlying infrastructure. It also provides IT operations teams with a simplified and consistent application lifecycle management and security framework. This announcement marks a significant milestone for Nutanix as it looks to expand offerings aimed at accelerating enterprises’ cloud native journeys.

Enterprises, with their sights set on realizing the benefits of digital initiatives, often struggle to unleash the full potential of their software developers and the agile DevOps processes by which they need to operate. Kubernetes, along with its ecosystem of cloud native technologies, continues to rapidly evolve, making it increasingly difficult to implement without extensive technical resources. Furthermore, organizations need to be able to leverage both on-premises and public cloud-based Kubernetes deployments without compromising their ability to manage data, applications, and IT resources simply and effectively.

“IT resources are the engines that power digital enterprises. But as a company scales, adopts hybrid cloud, and manages an increasing number of applications, supporting engineering needs can be challenging for IT,” said Rajiv Mirani, CTO at Nutanix. “With Karbon Platform Services, we aim to simplify application development and orchestration while streamlining the relationship between IT and development teams to support our customers’ DevOps strategies.”

This new cloud native PaaS will help software engineers to streamline application development and orchestration without needing to manage the underlying infrastructure. Karbon Platform Services builds on the core Kubernetes lifecycle management capabilities initially introduced with Karbon as an integrated component of the Nutanix HCI software. This new offering brings automated, system-managed security and multi-tenancy​ to run a wide range of microservices-based applications across multiple cloud infrastructures.

“We were looking for a single PaaS platform that could host our Reflex and Vision Insights on both the edge and in our private cloud, to take advantage of both a distributed architecture as well as support software development and machine training on the public cloud,” said Damien Pasquinelli, CTO at Hardis Group. “Karbon Platform Services delivers the richness of services we need in a PaaS solution, along with the simplicity and ease of management Nutanix is known for — across clouds. Implementing Karbon Platform Services has allowed our Vision Insights development and DevOps teams to go from zero to prototype in less than a quarter of the time it previously took. This software running on Karbon Platform Services is already in production for customers like Schneider Electric, a leading global specialist in energy management and automation.”

Key benefits of Karbon Platform Services include:

  • Rich Managed Services: This PaaS offering enables rapid development and deployment of applications ranging from simple stateful containerized applications to complex web-scale applications by leveraging simple, open abstraction of rich services. Specifically, Karbon Platform Services include:​ managed Kubernetes (K8s-aaS), Containers-as-a-Service (CaaS), serverless Functions, AI, message bus, ingress, service mesh, observability, and security services.
  • SaaS-based Multicloud Operations: Ops teams benefit from simplified operations and uniform application, data, and security lifecycle management, regardless of the underlying cloud, at scale leveraging the SaaS-based infrastructure lifecycle manager. Developers benefit from the rich platform services to write applications once and deploy in the cloud through the SaaS-based application lifecycle manager.
  • Extensible Hybrid PaaS: Karbon Platform Services provides cross-cloud data mobility and hybrid application management through transparent, WAN-optimized data pipelines and extensible data interfaces. This feature gives enterprises the flexibility to bring their own services and leverage the broader Kubernetes ecosystem.
  • Enhanced Security Posture: With Karbon Platform Services, IT operations teams can leverage a consistent security and API model with unified observability for data and applications across cloud. It provides automated, system-managed security with built-in multi-tenancy and role-based access control (RBAC) for the rich services.

Nutanix Karbon Platform Services is now available to customers. For more information, visit here.

In addition to Karbon Platform Services, Nutanix today also announced Calm as a Service [LINK TO BLOG], a hosted version of its application management and orchestration solution to support DevOps teams, which is under development.  

Outside the Four Walls of the Data Centre

By: Michael Cade, Senior Global Technologist, Veeam

Almost three-quarters of professionals across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region prefer jobs that allow them to work remotely, according to a new survey by job site Bayt.com. The impact of the pandemic is likely to see this trend continue as 90% of respondents said they expect that remote work will increase over the next decade. Now that organizations and employees have seen some of the benefits of remote working, many companies are likely to build more flexible and agile working arrangements into their long-term strategies. For IT departments, the impact of this is huge.

The digital fortress

Formerly, a company’s IT infrastructure was contained within its own four walls. Employees used hardware such as PCs, printers, and phones which remained securely in the office, while software programs and data were stored in on-premises data centres. IT had full control over the performance, maintenance and security of the organisation’s technology stack. Early remote working initiatives were tightly controlled with users connecting to Virtual Private Networks (VPN) so that the only thing that left the data centre was the employee and the limited hardware. Over the VPN, the IT department could maintain visibility of security protocols and maintain administrators’ rights to ensure employees were not installing unapproved, potentially high-risk software.

Along came the cloud, which allowed organisations to scale-up their data storage capacity as well as their ability to back up files to remote locations. However, with the cloud came greater agility and choice for employees. Shadow IT, the phenomenon of employees using applications of their own choosing to store and access company data outside the data centre’s four walls – on personal devices and online accounts – became a challenge to IT departments. Fast-forward to 2020, when at some stages a large number of enterprises in the Middle East have been working remotely, and the four walls of the data centre have fallen as far as many businesses are concerned. Some organisations found themselves supporting remote workers for the first time – many with employees who would not be working from company-issued laptops and smartphones. While figures vary across EMEA, an IBM survey of 2,000 new remote workers in the US found that over half (53%) of were using personal laptops.

From a cybersecurity perspective, this is a critical risk. Previously, the data centre was analogous to a fortress. Everything that went in or out was strictly monitored and the threat from external sources was low. This is why one of the most well-known forms of cyber-attack is a Trojan virus – one that tricks the victim into thinking they are receiving or opening a legitimate file, document, link, effectively inviting in the attacker. Now, not only have the gates of the digital fortress been flung wide open, the people who used to be inside are now distributed. And, every single one represents a possible entry point for a malicious threat. The attack vector hasn’t just increased, it’s exploded.

Increased threat vector

More than half of newly-remote employees were not given new security policies and 45% said they have not received training of how to work from home in a secure manner, according to the study mentioned previously, IT departments often have little to zero visibility of whether or not employees are connecting to the VPN, particularly when employees are using personal devices. Furthermore, personal devices aren’t just being used outside the data centre’s four walls, but in family home environments and shared households. Not only do IT teams have far less control over the apps, websites, content they’re employees are engaging with, there is no guarantee they are the only person using that device. While the organisation might not have visibility of data now being stored and used outside the four walls, it is still ultimately responsible for it.

According to the Veeam 2020 Data Protection Trends Report, the No. 1 challenge that will impact Middle East and African organizations within the next 12 months is cyber threats (31%). Over half (51%) have a “protection gap” between how frequently data is backed-up versus how much data they can afford to lose after an outage.  Given the vastly increased threat vector and risk to data systems in light of the remote working trend, organisations must ensure they have a robust Cloud Data Management strategy in place to ensure data is backed up, protected and recoverable across all devices and applications. Employee best practices and training are vital to this – helping IT teams ensure that users are connected via the VPN and storing company data in secure cloud environments rather than personal accounts or their own desktops. The Veeam report goes on to show that on average, 19% of Middle East and African organizations’ data is not backed up. If data cannot be backed up, it is not protected, and in the event of unplanned downtime or a cyber breach that data will be unrecoverable. Moreover, organisations are adopting Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions in their droves. For example, Microsoft Teams grew from 32 million users to 72 million between March 2019 and April 2020. For businesses using SaaS solutions such as Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Office 365, backups of data need to be conducted on a continuous basis – either on premises or in cloud object storage. This will protect the business against a single point of failure that is outside their control.

As a combination of working from home and from offices becomes increasingly commonplace – even for organisations who previously had little to no track record of supporting remote working – the cyber-attack vector will remain high. It is therefore critical that businesses have a clear strategy for managing data across their cloud and data provisioning. This includes ensuring data is backed up at all times, recoverable in the event of a disaster, outage or cyber-attack, and as protected from external malicious threats as possible.

The Myriad selects Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise for state-of-the-art student accommodation projects in Dubai and Muscat

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, a leading provider of communications, networking and cloud solutions tailored to customers’ industries, today announced that The Myriad, a dedicated student housing property developer and operator, has selected ALE to provide converged wired-wireless LAN infrastructure for their modern living communities built for a primarily student population in Dubai and Muscat.

The Myriad Dubai, a wholly owned subsidiary of Strategic Housing Group, is a fully integrated, urban-styled student living community located in the heart of Dubai International Academic City, where over 26,000 students study at 30 universities. Comprising seven blocks with a capacity of 2250 residents, the project is spread over 68,000 square meters and located within walking distance of most universities in Dubai Academic City.

The Myriad Muscat offers accommodations exclusively for young women in the Sultanate of Oman. With a capacity of 2700 residents, the project is spread over 100,000 square meters and located near universities in Al Seeb, Muscat.

The Myriad embodies a world-class student lifestyle and offers a fresh living experience based on in-depth research and analysis of today’s local and global students’ expectations. With students spending more time on the internet for research, homework, assignment submissions, social media, video streaming and gaming, it was important for The Myriad to provide advanced and fast connectivity. Investing in advanced technology to elevate service levels also helps The Myriad stand out in the student housing space.

Haseeb Malik, General Manager – Technologies, Strategic Housing Group

“At The Myriad, we recognize the importance of embracing new technologies to remain competitive. It was crucial to have a solid network foundation and ubiquitous Wi-Fi to offer the very best for our young residents. In addition to their proven technologies that met our needs, we appreciated ALE’s level of engagement throughout all phases of the project, working as a true partner,” explains Haseeb Malik, General Manager – Technologies, Strategic Housing Group.

The Myriad Dubai and The Myriad Muscat deployed a cloud-based converged wired-wireless LAN solution from Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, each comprised of over 70 LAN switches and 1900 wireless access points. In addition, The Myriad Dubai also implemented an ALE Unified Communications solution.

“We aligned with The Myriad’s expectations and provided a simplified, efficient and secure communications and network infrastructure intended to enhance the experience for students and young professionals. The company can also build on the highly scalable infrastructure to meet future needs,” said Rui Silva, Distribution Manager, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise.

ALE has provided The Myriad properties with solutions that are designed to meet the residents’ connectivity expectations at an affordable cost. The switches deployed at both locations, Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch® 6900 Stackable LAN Switches at the core and OmniSwitch 6560 Stackable LAN Switches at the edge, are top-of-the-line, secure and provide easy management. The Alcatel-Lucent OmniVista® 2500 Network Management System provides IT admins with cohesive management and network-wide visibility as well as a full set of tools for converged campus networks. The converged solution is completed with Alcatel-Lucent OmniAccess® Stellar AP1201, AP1201H and AP1251 WLAN Access Points, Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX® Enterprise Communication Server, and Alcatel-Lucent 8008 Deskphones Cloud Edition SIP.

Post implementation, the unified network offers reliable and secure access whenever and wherever needed, in student rooms or on the move with smart devices. Unique IoT containment technology allows secure, automatic connection of authorized devices, users and applications. The controller-less Wi-Fi architecture enables better performance, high availability and scalability across The Myriad’s premises, while reducing complexity and lowering the total cost of ownership (TCO). In addition, the in-room access points provide four ethernet ports that reduce the amount of cabling required.

To further boost its connectivity and communications strategy, The Myriad has plans to deploy Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow™, the company’s UCaaS platform, in the near future. The cloud-based Rainbow solution will allow The Myriad to integrate real-time communications into its existing business applications and provide residents with a single platform for unified communications and collaboration.

IATA Launches Platform to Improve Visibility on Air Cargo Infrastructure and Capabilities

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched IATA ONE Source, an online platform which helps the air cargo industry match shipping needs with the availability of infrastructure capabilities and certifications of service providers across the value chain.

This is particularly timely amid the COVID-19 crisis when shippers of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals need accurate information for time- and temperature-sensitive shipments. ONE Source lists the latest operational information on airlines, airports, cargo handling facilities, freight forwarders, ground handlers, shippers, and trucking companies. All critical information contained on ONE Source has been verified by IATA to help ensure its accuracy. IATA ONE Source is free for all service providers across the air cargo supply chain.

“Air cargo has been essential in the global fight against COVID-19, transporting vital equipment and medicines to those who need them most. However, with over 3,500 differently sized cargo handling facilities worldwide, the industry until now has lacked visibility on the capacities and services these facilities can offer. The need for greater transparency is even more critical in the current context. ONE Source addresses this by providing a single reference point for up-to-date infrastructure and certification data, helping save time and keep air cargo moving,” said Glyn Hughes, IATA’s Global Head of Cargo.  

The ONE Source platform offers:

ONE Source is part of the IATA Smart Facility program, an initiative to create transparency in cargo handling services and enhance essential cargo operational capabilities to a consistently higher baseline level across the industry.

For more information or to register, visit http://onesource.iata.org/