NTT Transformation in Action virtual event round-up

Transformation in Action brought together cloud data experts from NTT Ltd. and partner organisations for various keynotes and panels based around cloud deployment and remote working.

Common themes that emerged during discussions throughout the event included the need for strong partnerships between organisations to provide efficient service, the importance of keeping cloud infrastructure and networks secure, and the rise and benefits of hybrid cloud.

Introduction from Jason Goodall, group CEO, and Masaaki Moribayashi, senior EVP, ICT infrastructure services at NTT Ltd.

NTT Ltd.’s group CEO, Jason Goodall, and executive vice-president, ICT infrastructure services, Masaaki Moribayashi, began the proceedings by explaining how the company helped 500,000 clients worldwide, with the aid of 150,000 VPN instances, to securely continue operations while working remotely.

Goodall stated that NTT have been viewing its objectives through three lenses: protecting and enabling people; delivering mission-critical services; and ensuring sustainability and profitability. Examples cited included keeping hospitals secure as they were increasingly targeted during the pandemic, aiding virtual events, and allowing governments to continue leading remotely.

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Moribayashi, during his part in the opening keynote, talked the audience through NTT’s full stack capabilities, which consist of business process management, a managed service platform for hybrid IT, cyber security, and ICT infrastructure.

The head of ICT infrastructure went on to describe NTT’s hybrid cloud offering, which works with Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud and Alibaba Cloud. While progress using private cloud faces obstacles such as a lack of global standardisation, unpredictable cost and complexity, Moribayashi stated that NTT’s hybrid cloud platform provides a unified portal that solves these issues.

Hybrid cloud trends in 2020

The introduction was followed by an examination of key hybrid cloud trends by Liam Eagle, research director at 451 Research.

A recent study from 451 and NTT, conducted during the pandemic, revealed a shift to primarily public and private cloud infrastructure, with 42% and 30% of data expected to be stored in private and public cloud respectively. Additionally, 94% of European organisations, and 88% in South Africa, consider cloud to be critical to meeting immediate business needs.

During the pandemic, business continuity and resilience, agility, and cutting costs were the top three cited objectives by surveyed companies, and 61% either have, or in the process of having hybrid cloud set up, with the most cited main drivers being reduced costs, improved agility, and app and service deployment speed.

However, Eagle stated that companies are also struggling to find the right talent to help hybrid cloud usage reach its full potential, a challenge that can be overcome by leveraging managed service providers (MSPs).

Security and compliance (90%) was also shown to be vital to companies, aspects that Eagle said must be a core building block when deploying cloud.

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Panel on optimising hybrid cloud for agility

Next at Transformation in Action came a panel, moderated by NTT chief GTM practices officer Andy Cocks, which discussed how to optimise hybrid cloud for business agility. The participants were Stephen Green, NTT’s chief technology officer, UK & Ireland; Max Feneck, NTT’s vice-president of intelligent infrastructure, Europe; and Jeff Jack, principal practice head of cloud, MEA at Dimension Data.

An introduction by Cocks explained the importance of integrating multiple domains to cultivate customer experience, digital workplace and hybrid infrastructure. These domains include cyber security; programmable infrastructure for scripting, analytics and APIs; and connections from wired, wireless and SD-LAN, as well as hybrid and SD-WAN.

When discussing concerns that customers have had when looking to transform infrastructure, Jack explained the need for flexible contracts as opposed to rigid, long-term agreements, while Green cited a difference in interests between IT, business and procurement personnel, which leads to the solution of procurement transformation workshops for clients.

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Another required action for the transformation process cited during the panel was installing smaller, satellite offices nearer to where employees lived in order to maintain an office experience, a process that Feneck said has been considered by customers in the financial services space.

When it comes to security and governance, Jack said that while network security is important, all bases must be covered, as phishing has risen since employees began working from home, and less protection from malicious sites is at their disposal. Feneck, meanwhile, said that security protocols must move with workloads, and that the key to adhering to changing regulations was working closely with clients, owing to their audience knowledge.

Secure hybrid cloud by design

Matthew Gyde, CEO of NTT Security, followed the panel discussion with a keynote on ensuring a hybrid cloud infrastructure that’s designed to keep organisations secure.

Gyde drew from the recent NTT Global Threat Intelligence Report, which revealed a rise in cyber attacks leveraging AI and ML and attacks on IoT devices, while continuing to infiltrate older vulnerabilities that have patches available. Additionally, the regulation landscape, according to the study, is becoming more complex, and the tech sector was the most targeted by threat actors in 2019, with 29% of attacks aimed at the industry.

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The NTT Security CEO said that organisations must protect themselves by making their security teams part of the foundation of hybrid cloud infrastructure, considering the use of various devices by employees, considering automation and consulting and advising clients on the right capabilities for them.

Gyde then went on to describe the full lifecycle of cyber security services, which involves design, deployment, operation, validation and discovery using security consulting, technical and support, and managed security services. He concluded by stating that security never stops, but evolves.

Expert partner panel

The final part of the main Transformation in Action summit was an expert partner panel. Moderated by NTT executive vice-president Rob Lopez, the panel consisted of Todd Nightingale, senior vice-president and general manager of enterprise networking & cloud at Cisco; Deepak Patil, senior vice-president and general manager of Dell Technologies Cloud; Kara Sprague, executive vice-president and general manager of BIG-IP at F5 Networks; Barnaby Jeans, senior partner development manager at Microsoft; Prem Iyer, vice-president of business development at Palo Alto Networks; and Muneyb Minhazuddin, vice-president, product marketing — cloud security & workplace solutions at VMWare.

The discussion focused on how useful partnerships between companies can be for clients, with Minhazuddin citing joint solutions as a key desire that customers have, and Jeans stating that Microsoft aim to continue operating as a partner-focused organisation.

When it comes to multi-cloud environments, Sprague said that applications are now the lifeblood of infrastructures, and workforces must learn new skills accordingly, while Patil said that collaboration with various applications is a key part of Dell Technologies’ strategy. In addition, Nightingale said there are two things to consider when deploying multi-cloud infrastructure: how it’s built out to provide seamless management, and the idea that the Internet is its own corporate network, and must be treated as such.

Automation also proved a keenly discussed talking point, with Iyer recommending that the knowledge of tier 1 analysts can be automated in order to deliver insights equivalent to those of a tier 2 analyst.

The various talks from the Transformation in Action virtual event can be accessed on-demand here.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.