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Interviews

Ian Dench, CEO of Ooredoo Oman

Inside Telecom Staff

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Ian Dench

Telecom companies have played an integral role in keeping individuals/societies connected and informed amid COVID-19.

What were the technical and operational challenges faced by Ooredoo during the pandemic, and what solutions have provided people with reliable connectivity the most?

Our priority from the outset was threefold. First and foremost, the safety of our staff and within just a matter of days we moved everyone to working from home. Secondly, keeping our customers connected, ensuring network availability and fast internet connectivity for consumers and businesses – particularly as they too transitioned to working from home, being responsive to their urgent and immediate requests. Thirdly, supporting the government and authorities of Oman in whatever way needed or required, in particular the Health and Education Ministries, the Emergency Services and other institutions.

Almost overnight, people moved the majority of their work, studies, and lives to their homes, and there has been a much bigger reliance on the internet to keep people connected. Our ongoing heavy investment in our network meant that it was well equipped to cater to the increased data demands that this situation brought. 

Our digital transformation efforts have also paid off. We had to shut all of our stores overnight and our contact centre staff had to work from home, which naturally produced some challenges. However, we were able to keep all services fully operational with access to our contact centre, our app, eShop, and other digital channels.

What operational/organizational changes were implemented by Ooredoo during the pandemic? Are there any emerging trends in telecom that you may want to adopt as a service and/or utilize for corporate purposes? (I.e. remote employment, telehealth, AI systems etc.,)

Through our award-winning app, customers are able to pay bills, top up, subscribe to plans, seek help and much more and over the course of the lockdown, we added numerous new digital services, such as being able to update ID through the app, ordering home internet and even raising and tracking trouble tickets/complaints. Communication through social media also increased significantly, in particular, WhatsApp, where our customers can place orders and raise queries. We’ve also added multiple languages to WhatsApp to make it easier for more of our customers to contact us.

Our eShop has evolved significantly over this recent period, providing (in Arabic and English) multiple services with home delivery anywhere in the Sultanate.

We also upgraded services available to business customers through our dedicated B2B digital channels and business customers could stay in contact with their account managers.

Even though we have now re-opened our stores, we continue to provide convenient digital services, as well as over-the-counter services as before. And our contact centre is fully operational with the vast majority of people still working from home.

We launched a number of offers, discounts and freebies for our customers during the lockdown period, including free calls, extra data, faster speeds, and plenty of free add-ons. We are also providing free access to educational websites.

For businesses, we increased our bandwidth speeds to ensure employees could work from home effectively and efficiently. We also offered unlimited calls, data packages, extra speeds and much more, all of which can be accessed through the enhanced B2B app or through account managers, to make working from home easier.

Oman’s digital transformation agenda was already well on-track, but the pandemic accelerated it. The transformation that has been made under such unprecedented circumstances has been remarkable, and thanks to our resilience and adaptability, we have for the most part been able to continue our operations and serve our customers, under vastly different and unusual times.

More than ever, people have realised how much more convenient it is to do things digitally and how much value it adds to their lives and it’s unlikely they’ll want to go back. We want to continue the positive developments that have been made throughout the pandemic and use them as building blocks for a post-COVID world. That means not only strengthening our commitment to enriching our customers’ digital lives, but contributing to the economic and social prosperity of Oman, as together we strive to overcome the impacts of the pandemic and face the future with confidence.

You have recently been selected by EduFair as the official telecom partner for the virtual exhibition for Higher Education Institutes. What is the importance of participating in such endeavors?

We’re pleased to have this opportunity once again to show practical support for education as well as showcasing the many Ooredoo Business products and services that can support education and related businesses.

Supporting education is a key focus for us as part of our corporate social responsibility strategy and we believe it’s our collective responsibility to nurture the next generation of leaders. This has been supported by various initiatives, long-term educational projects and training programs, through boosting educational opportunities and incubating digital entrepreneurship

Since the pandemic, as mentioned above, we have enabled free access to educational websites and online communication applications as part of a collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), to support students’ educational needs in light of schools closing down.

Working together with government organisations and private institutions, we are helping to nurture and develop many of tomorrow’s leaders and entrepreneurs and thus support Oman’s economy.

Furthermore, it is increasingly clear that online education will become a permanent component of all education in the years ahead and high-speed internet connectivity at home, and at educational institutions, is absolutely vital. With our significant investments in Fibre, 4G and 5G technologies, we are geared towards supporting this development in Oman.

You have been named by Forbes as one of the top-ranking companies in the region. What strategic steps have you adopted to get ahead of the competition?

This latest accolade reflects the Group’s phenomenal growth and vision. Our teams around the world are working to enable and enrich the digital lives of the communities we serve by providing much needed relief measures, innovative solutions, awesome digital services and great connectivity.

The Ooredoo Group is on a mission to empower customers across our global footprint to access and enjoy the best of the Internet in a way that is personal and unique to them. We continue to invest in our networks to ensure seamless connectivity that caters to our customers’ growing digital needs. The Group is working as a real digital enabler across its markets, with the aspiration of helping people simplify their lives and enjoy exciting and rewarding digital experiences.

How will your services benefit from 5G deployment/implementation? You have already opened pre-registration for 5G at home, what are the advantages of 5G technology?

The rollout of 5G marks a significant milestone in the Sultanate’s digital transformation journey, offering significantly higher network speeds with almost zero delay, which means faster downloads and uploads, better gaming experiences and super slick HDTV streaming. We have been gearing up for 5G for some time, upgrading the backbone connectivity to cater to the faster speeds and increased data traffic. Our 5G Home Internet service is now available in 88 locations in Muscat, Al Batinah, Al Dakhliyah, Al Wusta, Al Sharkiyah and Dhofar.  This new service offers consumers speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

However, the big promise of 5G comes with the low latency and the range of industrial applications it can benefit. It’s not just about self-drive cars and flying taxis, but how everyday things can be automated. For example, in the oil and gas industry, they may utilise drones to monitor wells and pipelines, as well as the automation of thousands of sensors.

There are also IoT solutions, such as smart metering, which we have already launched on existing technology in collaboration with the National Electricity & Energy Centre for the Public Authority for Water (Diam). In fact, this was the first-of-its-kind smart metering in Oman, which eliminates the challenges faced by utility providers when collecting meter readings, particularly in isolated residential locations.

The possibilities created by the technology will impact almost every aspect of our lives, all businesses government, healthcare, education, industry and the country is ready for it. We are excited to be offering our customers this transformative technology and taking their internet usage, and lives, to a whole new level.

You have entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Education to develop a new online education platform for Oman, what are some of the plans of this new agreement?

We’re very pleased to have signed this agreement with the Ministry of Education, as part of our CSR activities for Oman, and to be playing a role in Oman’s digital transformation while helping students reach their full potential in their educational journey.

This initiative is intended to address the challenges presented by COVID-19, ensuring that education is not disrupted moving forward. Linked to Oman’s Educational Portal, the platform will create virtual classrooms for students to learn from a distance across the country as well as enable discussion forums for teachers and administrators to share best practices and monitor growth and development in line with international indexes.

The platform will include the latest educational features and tools such as an e-library. User friendly and efficient, it will also ensure students interact easily with teachers, enjoy access to learning material, have their questions and queries answered, all the while keeping track of their progress. What’s even more, the e-learning platform will be accessible on mobiles and tablets through a dedicated App. It will also enable for additional material to be uploaded to aid distant learning as well as generate reports pertaining to the services available. Making it interactive, teachers will be able to host seminars, present projects and exchange ideas and perspectives that are beneficial to students.

How do ICT solutions address energy sustainability in mega cities? How can you implement ICT technology for security to ensure customers are given the protection and privacy they need?

ICT-based mega cities are able to leverage technology to enrich the lives of their populations, improve public services, transport, traffic flows, power, water supply, waste management, security and more.  They are well known not just for the quality of life of their inhabitants but also for their ability to attract businesses and investment.

Through the Digital Oman Strategy, Oman is working on harnessing the full potential of ICT and building on the sector as part of its bid to widen its economic prospects. Moreover, the implementation of new technologies as part of the Information Technology Authority’s vision of creating a Knowledge Based Society is facilitating the successful integration of new services in our homes, places of work, and throughout the education system. These steps are creating the foundations for future smart city initiatives in the Sultanate.  

When it comes to security, protecting employees and client data should be a top priority and making sure systems are resilient, secure and redundant will be just as important — if not more important — than new features.

How is sustainability driving growth in the telecoms industry? Do you a have a Green strategy in place?

As major consumers of energy to power our network, we are continually looking to new green technologies to reduce cost and improve sustainability. We deploy Solar Energy within our network where it makes economical and commercial sense. We also use special solutions to reduce the fuel consumption for generators in a number of sites, resulting in less pollution.

Our HSE department makes sure we are as environmentally friendly as is possible on a corporate level. They are responsible for our company recycling programme, overseeing our responsible energy consumption, ensuring office efficiency by saving paper and many more activities. They also work to ensure our employees enjoy a healthy work environment.

We do emphasise the importance of corporate and personal environmental responsibility and stewardship in all our activities. We focus on empowering our staff to play an active role in the preservation and conservation of Oman’s environment and to give a helping hand to communities. This includes holding volunteer-based events like our regular beach clean-up events and we have more activities in the pipeline.

As an organization, how committed are you to social responsibility? Tell us about your more recent CSR initiatives?

Corporate Social Responsibility has remained a mainstay of Ooredoo’s promise to enrich people’s lives. The company’s CSR programme, known as Ooredoo Goodwill, has grown to encompass all areas of the community, social development, education and empowerment.

Enabling budding entrepreneurs to prosper from the internet, our Springboard program (for women) and Spring Forward program (for both men and women), champion digital entrepreneurship and help young Omani’s to get their digital businesses off the ground, whether social media, online or app-based. Last year, we awarded teams from our Springboard and Spring Forward programs a start-up budget for the first time, as we placed a greater emphasis on education and supporting Oman’s economy by helping to develop and equip Oman’s future leaders and small business owners. 

Our annual Goodwill Journey, which celebrates its 16th anniversary this year, focuses on fostering women’s empowerment, education and self-sufficiency, as well as promoting the sustainable development of communities across the country. Some of last year’s activities included popening two new women’s incubators, taking the total to 13.

In partnership with the Ministry of Social Development, our Goodwill volunteers launched a carpentry room, computer lab and sensory room at The Al-Wafa Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children in Al Amerat. Three more sensory rooms in Al Khaboura, Nizwa and Ibra were also set up during the year, as well as the design and implementation of two ‘Digital Entertainment Rooms’ for the Paediatric Cancer and Paediatric Surgery rooms at the Royal Hospital.

Making good on our promise to promote education, we continued to update and enhance our popular Digital Tutorial App. For the first time in the Sultanate, Ooredoo is also preparing activity files for students in kindergarten and pre-school, which include video clips to teach the alphabet in Arabic and English, mathematics and science, in addition to exercises and educational activities from the curricula of a number of Arab and Gulf countries.

Along the same lines, the team donated digital devices to the Abu Hamza Al Shari School in Sohar, the Al Noor Association for the Blind in Ad Dhahirah and to less fortunate families in Masirah. We also visited hospitals in Sohar, building an outdoor playground, and in Duqm where they distributed medical beds to enhance the standard of care. Equipment was also donated to the Oman Association for the Disabled in Al Buraimi and the Omani Bahjah Orphan Society in Salalah, with whom a two-year contract was signed to support the ‘Saturday Market’ in Dhofar. The weekly event provides the families of the association with a unique platform to bolster their income and showcase their talents.

When COVID-19 hit, our priorities changed and we were able to mobilise quickly to redirect our efforts and support to initiatives that helped the nationwide fight to stop the virus’ spread and mitigate its wider impacts. Since March, we have donated various medical testing supplies and equipment to a number of hospitals across Oman, have provided free data to returning students contained in quarantine and also whitelisted educational websites.

For us at Ooredoo, our core values – caring, connecting, challenging – are not simply a statement, they are something we live by, and translate into action every day, every month, every year.

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Interviews

Interview with Vic Bozzo, Chief Revenue Officer at SONOC

Karim Husami

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SONOC

With COVID-19 has plunged the world into the unknown, it has also shown that people can change their lifestyles positively with the help of technology. The ongoing digitalization of modern life causes consumers from every corner of the world to leverage the perks of online transactions.

As such, SONOC, an agile telecommunications solutions provider, takes advantage of evolving technology by developing software driven solutions to improve business efficiency.

To learn more about this topic, Inside Telecom conducted an interview with Vic Bozzo, Chief Revenue Officer at SONOC.

Can you tell us more about SONOC’s business strategy and how it generates revenue from its solutions?

SONOC provides a modularvoice and messaging management platform to OTTs, carriers, and a range of service providers. We combine a unique set of capabilities, API’s and cloud resources into a single efficient platform that enables users to maximize revenue and margin while reducing resources, complexity, and cost.

In a competitive voice and messaging market, we’re giving users the ability to optimize their cost base and simplify their operations. We’re putting them in control of their voice and messaging traffic and giving them the tools to succeed in a new era in voice.    

Could you further elaborate the importance of Application Interface software (API), especially during the pandemic?

Our customers want the ability to spin-up new services and capabilities in a dynamic elastic way and incorporate them into their existing systems. There’s a drive towards new flexibility and agility in the services they are deploying.

Unlike other voice and messaging management platforms, we remove the need for an “all or nothing” approach to platform deployments and replace it with an agile model for building a component-based architecture. RESTful APIs can be accessed by our customers via a simple online library which enables instant plug-ins to other applications.

I think the pandemic has shown a lot of businesses that they need to be able to pivot and turn up services faster and adjust to new market conditions and paradigms in their communications strategy. You need to be ready to change how you operate quickly and APIs are essential for that.

How is your business strategy helping carriers to use APIs to enhance their existing systems?

With our programmable API capabilities, carriers can choose what they want to integrate and deploy. We enable users to spin-up capabilities associated with advanced routing, traffic management, bilateral management, billing, quality monitoring, fraud control, cloud-based SBC and switching, as well as many others.

Our RESTful APIs give them full control at a granular level, of all features available in the platform. That is more of a software-centric approach to voice and messaging than the

traditional closed telco environment we’ve seen in the past. We developed the platform with an API-first approach and now we are opening those options to our customers directly.

What other software driven solutions do you offer telecom operators and tech companies to improve their business efficiencies?

We’ve integrated OSS/BSS and switching into the same platform, which means users don’t need to deploy and manage multiple solutions. That removes an operational headache and brings voice and messaging management into one holistic environment.

When you have integrated services on a single platform, you can capture new business intelligence that supports planning, management and optimization while increasing visibility.

Our customers are looking to simplify operations and we help them to reduce resources needed to manage their voice and messaging businesses and increase margins. That’s critical in a market that is changing quickly and becoming increasingly competitive.

How does SONOC set itself apart from its competitors?

Our modular approach, RESTful APIs, and the integration of switching into our platform differentiates our business immediately. We also offer both voice and messaging management with a single user experience.

That’s a big demand coming from the market. There are carriers that are duplicating management, billing and invoice systems for both voice and messaging. This is inefficient and costly. They want to do it all in one platform, and even better they can use whatever capabilities they want with APIs.

We’re also seeing a growing number of voice players looking to get into the business messaging market or A2P aggregators that want to add voice capabilities to their service portfolio. That’s an ideal scenario because we can offer one platform for supporting both services.   

Our suite of solutions has been built by users for users, so we’re continually shaping and evolving our offering to meet their needs. We listen and develop the solutions that they need.  

In your opinion, what are the key aspects needed by operators to evolve and adapt in an ever-changing industry?

Carriers need to think about their operations the same way OTTs do about theirs, and OTTs need to find better ways to work within the carrier infrastructure to get better last mile QOS.

Carriers should be building API ecosystems and focusing on plugging in capabilities to create systems and processes that are more than the sum of their parts. Traditionally they have built systems themselves or deployed single purpose solutions; this is complex, costly, and difficult to scale.

At the same time, they should be automating as many of their processes as they can. Automated processes remove human error, reduce resources, and increases agility. You want to maximize speed and efficiency through automation. To be successful in today’s voice and messaging market, you have to change your approach.

As you already know, there have been many issues raised regarding data privacy, could you briefly walk us through SONOC’s privacy policy?

SONOC takes protecting your information very seriously and in strict compliance with applicable data protection laws. We process and our cloud is optimized to segregate identity data, traffic and location data and electronic communications metadata.

SONOC has a firm commitment with the protection of personal data and the privacy of our users, so to guarantee the security and to protect the personal data obtained, we carry out all the technical safety measures necessary to prevent their loss, manipulation, diffusion or alteration.

How does your platform help with monitoring traffic flows, improve routing, automate rate upload, and control fraud?

Our platform includes advanced routing, quality monitoring and fraud control to tackle all these issues. Advanced routing allows customers to make business decisions in real-time, improving the business margin, assuring voice quality and traffic optimization, in automatic or manual mode.

Quality Monitoring gives a real-time switch traffic visualization that facilitates immediate problem detection and troubleshooting. It operates independently of the protocols used for calls. We also provide a comprehensive ‘Health Check’ of the traffic being passed over your network with the ability to detect various fraud/issues and raise red flags by performing tests and real time monitoring to improve your detection and prevention strategy.

We are also working very closely with the existing and emerging standards bodies that are focused on new fraud control initiatives including Shaken/Stir as an example.

What challenges are you currently facing within your market?

Over the last year, we’ve seen the voice and messaging market adapt to lockdowns and quarantines caused by COVID-19. There was an initial uptick in voice traffic when lockdowns started in early 2020, then traffic migrated to OTT services as users started using Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

It shows how fast the market can shift and how demand can change. Carriers need to be ready to adapt and they have to be focused on efficiency and integration to these new platforms.

We’re trying to help our customers to maximize the potential of their businesses in a new era of voice and messaging and that’s what our solutions focus on. We’re giving them the tools they need to be successful in a market that can change overnight.

As an industry veteran, what will you be bringing to the table for SONOC? What gaps will you fill?

I’ve seen a lot of the ups and downs of the industry over the last 25 years. What has remained constant is the time I spend talking to customer and users. I love to discuss their challenges, understand the opportunities they want to pursue and find solutions for them.

This is why I can’t wait for in-person events to kick off again and get out in the industry and share what we’re doing at SONOC.

I think people will be surprised by the hard work we’ve done behind the scenes and the value we can deliver for Tier 1 carriers and OTTs through to emerging players across the globe. We’ve got a great team and a real vision for voice and messaging. It’s an exciting time to be a part of SONOC and it’ll be great to tell more people about what we’re doing.   

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Interviews

Raghid Charara, Vice President and Khaled Chatila, VP of Business Development at ANALITICO

Inside Telecom Staff

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Analitico

ANALITICO is a newly established ICT company offering customized solutions for the telecoms and IT sector and providing full Digital Transformation services.

Inside Telecom sat down with the VP of ANALITICO Raghid Charara, and the company’s VP of Business Development Khaled Chatila for a closer look into their work and the prospects offered by the company.

Let’s jump right in.

Gentlemen, please introduce yourselves and tell us how ANALITICO was formed?

I am Raghid Charara, an expert in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) with over 20 years of experience in managing big projects covering both the telecoms and banking Sectors in different regions of the world.

I hold a double degree in Statistics and Computer Science from the American University of Beirut (AUB), and I am an alumnus of INSEAD having completed several executive education certificates in leadership, general management, and transformation. In addition, I work as a learning coach at INSEAD, teaching different courses such as innovation, strategy, and FinTech to MBA students and high-profile executives.

I am Khaled Chatila, a senior Operations and IT expert with a diverse experience in management and technology. Throughout my career, I assumed different managerial roles centered around operations and information & communication technology such as information security, system administration, IT management, software development, networking, and telecoms.

I also worked in different fields such as education, logistics and manufacturing in a handful of different countries. I spearheaded digital transformation as well as developed and integrated IT solutions which increase efficiency. I hold a Bachelor’s in computer science from the American University of Beirut (AUB) and a master’s degree in information security from the University of London, Royal Holloway.

We have been friends for a long time and we both share a passion for technology. We were always keeping up with and closely following the telecoms market trends, from there we identified several gaps which we were confident that we could cover through our knowledge, experience, and know-how.

When the right time and conditions came our way, we were able to create ANALITICO using our individual long track records in ICT and management, our synergy at work, in addition to our wide range of exposure and rich portfolio of relationships. The company was creating alongside world-class professional executives with accomplishments in business on international scale under their belts.

ANALITICO’s offering provides a set list of services, what areas of operations currently interest you the most?

We provide customized and innovative turn-key solutions that assist and empower different sectors including governmental institutions, banking, and telecom sector (government, regulators, and mobile operators).

Our portfolio includes services such as digital transformation, Equipment Identity Register (EIR), International Traffic Management, Carrier Services, Fraud Management Solution (FMS), Technical Audit (TA) and Revenue Assurance (RA), Traceability of Items (mainly for pharmaceutical, tires, and many others), and Value-Added Services (VAS).

Our offering can be on Premises (OnPrem) or Cloud-based and can cover Software as a service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a service (IaaS). We believe in the power of data and we heavily focus on the outcome and patterns extracted from Big Data through our analytical tools and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.      

Each one of our team members, has a long track record of projects and has deployed different kinds of solutions in different parts of the world. Most of the projects we’ve done are located in West Africa (Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Mali, and Togo) and Central Africa (Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Cameroon) and some of them in the Middle East (Kuwait, Oman and others) as well as other projects in different parts of the world (Latin America and APAC).

Several of our completed projects, were originally outsourced to us by local companies in those countries or through third parties. The interesting part is that our solutions and services are universal and needed worldwide and there are no geographical limitations or barriers. We have offices and representatives in several regions, mainly: London (UK), Paris (France), Beirut (Lebanon) and Douala (Cameroon).   

From a competitive standpoint, how does ANALITICO stand out in the face of its competition?

We use the latest technologies and the best tools and methodologies, and our team is composed of experts that hold the highest certifications in their fields. We are flexible and adaptive to our client’s requirements thus making our solutions competitive and affordable, yet, we always add our innovative recommendations bridging between different fields and technologies while offering state-of-the-art solutions.

Our long track record and wide experience and knowledge enable us to provide custom made solutions that ensure our customers’ satisfaction and always deliver far more than what the customer wanted initially; that’s the essence of transformation, as opposed to change.

Our company culture believes in “customer obsession” opposed to “customer focus.”

Is your business strategy keeping pace with the market? What challenges are you facing at the moment?     

Technology is evolving fast and there is a high demand for digital transformation.

The challenges we face come in two-fold; the first being to always keep up with the swiftness of technological advances, new services, and innovations. While these are manageable, we consider ourselves to have the right setup, tools, and mindset to adapt, expand, and introduce changes as we go.

The second is more client-oriented, where we can group the challenges in 3 categories: resistance, culture, and budget.

Usually, employees of companies undertaking a transformation resist the introduction of new solutions and methodologies and they fight back. We ensure to communicate, train, and involve them in this transformation journey and provide all the coaching needed.

Next, some companies’ cultures are robust and do not facilitate transformation and we always need the support of the top management and the flexibility in introducing new processes to enable the change.

Finally, is the budget, as companies see it as a big bulk one shot amount, and to resolve this point, we provide a comparison showing them the cost of the traditional setup they have over 5 years versus the cost of the transformation and the cost of the new digital setup for 5 years and they can clearly see the difference.

The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the pace of transformation. To what extent will digital workspace growth push cloud adoption and spending?

Since cloud computing empowers digital business transformation, the cloud became the catalyst for this transformation. It is used to improve the scalability of the capabilities while reducing cost and risk. So, it is a crucial element since the success of the transformation relies on it.

We fully understand this need, and that is why we tailored our offering to include the three main service models of cloud computing: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).

How do you plan on accelerating business growth?

To accelerate our business growth, we ensure to include the key skills and resources that are needed for our continuity and success. We believe that employees are key assets and part of the

journey, and we strongly invest in our team while embracing continuous learning to ensure they are up to date with the latest skills and technology trends.

As explained above, our business model allows us to be adaptable to the technology changes and at the same time to our clients demands and given our agility we can easily accommodate this and always expand our products and services. Finally, we believe that we should always think ahead.

Telcos across the world have suffered heavily due to cyberattacks especially since the pandemic began, how can your services help providers defend themselves against such threats?

First, it is important to highlight that cybersecurity is a combination of technologies, processes, and practices that we work on heavily and deeply. In parallel, we encourage our clients to follow the top-down approach to cybersecurity where management leads the line across all business practices.

We focus with our clients on identifying the threats and risks facing their data and information; and outlining the damage their organization would incur should that data be lost or wrongfully exposed.

We also analyze how was the data collected, stored, and secured, in parallel, our cyber security offerings include Encryption, Data Loss Prevention (DLP), Access management, Firewalls, Anti-virus and anti-malware solutions, Web filtering and Risk and compliance management. Those solutions can be in-house or outsourced, while providing security as a software as a service (SaaS), available via the cloud. To reach out to ANALITICO: info@analitico.tech.

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Interviews

Michel Robert, CEO of Epsilon

Inside Telecom Staff

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Michel Robert, CEO of Epsilon
Tell us about your partnership with Aviatrix to provide the latest multi-cloud networking service?

We recently partnered with Aviatrix to deliver our own multi-cloud solution. It’s an end-to-end multi-cloud service running on Epsilon’s global network with the automation, operational visibility and control that enterprises need to simplify cloud networking.

Epsilon Cloud Networking addresses the real challenges in enterprise networking within and across the clouds. We’ve combined our expertise in global connectivity with Aviatrix’s cloud orchestration platform to deliver an end-to-end multi-cloud service, and we’re confident in delivering a best-in-class cloud networking solution for our customers.

This year we’re really focusing on our partner strategy. We already have a strong ecosystem of networks, cloud service providers and internet exchange partners stretching across 260+ points of presence (PoPs) in 41 cities globally.  We are looking to enhance our services by working with great technical partners, like Aviatrix, to enhance our interconnection services. There are not many companies out there that can offer their customers the comprehensive end-to-end solutions like we do, with rapid responsiveness and one point of contact.

How can Epsilon customers benefit?

Our solution makes multi-cloud networking simple for enterprises. Epsilon Cloud Networking leverages a multi-cloud network architecture with a common network data and operational control plane. Through point and click workflows and infrastructure as code automation, enterprises using the multi-cloud service no longer need to undertake the complex and manual processes of native cloud networking. The service provides everything an enterprise needs to transform their cloud networking through a single relationship.

Our solution really accelerates cloud network deployments to support the pace of business and application owners, which is a key benefit for customers. Our customers can move faster to meet demands at the click of a button. This provides full visibility across the clouds, simplifies their cloud network operations and can identify and resolve problems rapidly.

Security and troubleshooting are also a big part of the solution. Our managed service provider and enterprise customers can easily solve multi-cloud networking, security and troubleshooting issues. The multi-cloud network architecture has a common network data and operational control plane that gives them the full control they need.

What kind of challenges do you hope to overcome with this new multi-cloud service?

More and more enterprise IT organisations are using public cloud to support business transformation. The pandemic has really increased the pace of transformation for many companies, and enterprises are facing challenges including limited visibility, lack of network control and skill gaps, when connecting applications and data in the cloud.

A lot of enterprises don’t achieve expected return on investment (ROI) in cloud because of operational and network complexity. While many enterprises have started application migrations to the cloud, cost management remains an issue. On top of this, many cloud providers don’t provide the tools for operational visibility, control or security. Our new multi-cloud solution seeks to help businesses tackle these challenges more effectively.

It makes cloud networking simple for enterprises, with everything they need to transform their cloud networking through a single relationship with Epsilon.

Is the multi-cloud environment suitable for all enterprises?

Yes. In general, all industries have adopted the cloud, but individual companies will have to assess which applications are the most suitable to migrate to cloud platforms depending on types of the business applications and data, security and compliance requirements.

Our multi-cloud networking solution can be used by all kinds of enterprises across verticals, from technology to automotive, manufacturing or hospitality. Any enterprise looking to benefit from a multi-cloud environment can simplify their journey by using our solution. We provide connectivity from the last mile locations all the way to the cloud.

Talk us through Epsilon’s Network as a Service (NaaS) strategy? How will it play a role in the enterprise market in 2021?

Infiny currently offers three powerful networking solutions: Interconnection between leading data centres, direct connection to cloud providers and access to the world’s largest internet exchanges. We also have an Access solution for connecting branch offices, on-prem data centres and partner locations around the world to the Epsilon network and its cloud networking and interconnection services.

Infiny makes it much simpler for businesses of all kinds to meet their connectivity needs in one place, by removing the need to manage multiple vendor relationships. As the networking ecosystem gets more and more complex, I think businesses will be looking out for the simplest and fastest way to connect globally, which we’re able to do.

I believe in 2021, we’ll see drive towards platform-centric connectivity such as NaaS. These platforms deliver global connectivity using a self-service model, allowing the customers to buy and manage their network services on-demand.

By building solutions through partnerships, we can deliver best-of-breed solutions to our customers, more quickly and more scalable than if we had built the solution ourselves. Rather than competing against specialists in certain fields, we believe in partnering with some of these companies to offer the best possible solutions to our customers.

Partnerships are a big part of our business strategy. Our differentiator is that we can offer our customers the best-in-class solutions with high levels of responsiveness and flexibility. A huge part of that comes from partnering with top companies across different tech sectors, which can provide us with the tools we need to serve even more of our customers’ needs.

Our goal is to enable businesses to connect to the global cloud infrastructure they need in a simple and powerful way. We’re excited to announce more partnerships that we’ve got planned for the near future, which will enhance our offering further.

The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the pace of transformation. To what extent will digital workspace growth push cloud adoption and spending?

2020 was definitely a year of transformation. With a surge in the number of people working from home, there’s been huge demand for digital workspace solutions. As a result, cloud adoption and spending has increased dramatically, and it’s looking like this will continue in 2021. Remote working will start to become the new normal as businesses of all kinds have realised this year that productivity can continue even without having teams in an office all the time. It will definitely be interesting to see how this accelerates cloud transformation in 2021 – I think we’ll continue to see growth, but at a steadier pace than 2020.

How does the new networking service enable customers to meet their security needs?

Our Cloud Networking solution provides enterprises with added security for distributed cloud environments. To get into the details, it offers advance security features including multi-cloud network segmentation, high-performance encryption, firewall insertion, CloudWAN, secure user access, secure site-to-cloud and ingress and egress. We provide all the tools that enterprises and managed service providers need to secure their customers’ cloud deployments and benefit from a multi-cloud environment, via our private network.

What are some of the unique challenges we face with cloud adoption?

Cloud adoption isn’t always straightforward, especially when enterprises are trying to connect within and between multiple different clouds and regions. Some of these challenges include skills gaps, limited visibility, lack of network control and operational complexity. Not all enterprises are experts in cloud, so without an expert partner it can be difficult to really unlock the potential of their cloud environments.

Many enterprises have invested large amounts of resources in building business applications within a public cloud environment but end up neglecting the connectivity underlay. Any application performance will ultimately be underpinned by the network it’s delivered on. Enterprises are needing more than basic connectivity from the standard internet connections, and that can be a challenge without the right partner.

 How will 5G rollout take cloud computing to the next level?

5G will be an alternative access technology for connecting the end users. It will contribute towards making a whole load of technologies more efficient, including cloud computing. With the rollout of 5G accelerating in 2021, cloud computing is really going to go to the next level. 5G can provide speeds 100x higher and capacity 100x more than 4G, on top of much lower latencies. This is going to transform customer experiences and improve business operations too.

I’m excited to see the impact of 5G on cloud-based applications and services, and just how much faster it will be to move data between locations. With better efficiencies come the opportunity to spend more time innovating too, so 5G could really be the key to new innovation in cloud native business and consumer applications that we don’t even know about yet.

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