21 April 2017

Creating a Cloud Assurance Framework

Author :

Cloud adoption is increasing at a rapid rate across the globe as organisations require the ability to deliver agile, mobile, feature-rich and scalable digital services cost effectively to customers not possible through traditional ICT environments.

However, the increasing use of cloud has escalated the concerns around security and privacy given the possibility that data can be compromised. This is exacerbated by the speed at which news, particularly if it is bad, travels across national and international boundaries and the greater scrutiny cloud providers are faced with due to their public presence.

To counter this there has been an increase in regulations and controls being implemented to ensure that organisations can demonstrate governance around cloud use. Organisations need to do more than meet these compliance regulations and build a comprehensive Cloud Adoption Framework.

A strategic and logical cloud assurance framework can provide senior ICT and business leaders with the confidence that cloud assurance has been undertaken.

The Cloud Assurance Framework shown above includes four main areas – security, protection, privacy, and control. The Information Security, Cloud, Risk and Vendor assessment tools provide senior leaders and business and ICT owners with the additional assurance that the requirements of the organisation and the regulatory compliance have been met. Once developed and agreed to these tools can provide a repeatable and effective assessment methodology that can be used when negotiating contractual arrangements and undertaking cloud migration.

Security is one of the primary risk factors that organisations have when moving data to the cloud. As an Enterprise Architect, I often see security architecture as the missing link in the Enterprise Architecture Framework where too much reliance is placed on the application and technology domains. The link between the business and information and data layers with the security layer is paramount when undertaking cloud migrations. Security risk posed by the location of data and how the data is accessed is often overlooked but needs to be a mandatory assessment consideration. Other risks identified by senior management need to be documented and appropriate mitigations established so they are deemed to be acceptable risks. These risks can be categorised under the subject headings of compliance, strategic, operational and market, and finance.

Privacy concerns are real and it is necessary to ensure that information assets are classified to determine if there is any confidential, personal, sensitive or regulated data. Privacy Impact Assessments are necessary when personal information about individuals can be identified and these assessments can assist in the cloud decision-making process.

One of the main aspects to Cloud computing is the loss of control that the cloud consumer has compared to more traditional implementations and that is at the highest level with SaaS applications. Control and compliance is particularly important and well developed assessment tools can be used to ask all the right questions to ensure data and workload is protected in the cloud. Vendor assessment tools allow the organisation to do the necessary due diligence.

The level of Control that can be applied to your information in the Cloud and the protection required will depend on the cloud delivery model and deployment model. For instance, there will be more control available under an IaaS private cloud arrangement than a SaaS public cloud offering. This is where the information classification is important as it is logically acceptable to have data classified as public stored in the public cloud but not acceptable for any national and non-national security data to be in the public cloud.

In the government environment, it can become difficult to satisfy customers, auditors and regulators that sensitive data and mission-critical services are sufficiently controlled in a multi-tenanted public cloud environment. The information security classification of the data is the key first step as it can guide the decision-making process in the development or procurement of an application. Organisations need to make sure the correct protection controls are in place to protect their data relative to the information security classification determined. For government documents, protective markers can be used to determine the level of protection required in the use and transfer of information.

The emerging role of Digital Service Providers (DSPs) will continue to place cloud as a vital enabling technology. Organisations will be better placed if they have a robust cloud assurance framework that provides senior management the confidence in migrating to the cloud.

Hear from Nigel Schmalkuche at Akolade's Australian Government Cloud Summit as he shares his insights on mitigating security risks by developing a cloud assurance framework.

 Guest Blog Written By: Nigel Schmalkuche

Nigel manages the Enterprise Architecture, ICT and Digital Strategy program and planning activities at the Department of Housing and Public Works Queensland. The role is critical in providing strategic direction to the department on ICT and the management of an Enterprise Architecture program that leads to effective governance and innovative service delivery.

19 April 2017

Outsourcing customer satisfaction

Author :

We may be a multi-cultural nation but the frustration felt when hearing a foreign accent on the other end of the phone upon contacting your insurance/phone/ utilities company is unanimous.

Yet a growing number of Australian companies, NRMA, RACV, SGIO, Lumley Insurance, Swann Insurance, WFI and CGU included, are moving their contact centres offshore.

“I have four policies with NRMA and have always thought that a distinguishing feature of the company was the fact that they maintained onshore call centres. If this changes, so will I,” David Macalpine said.

“I’m signing this because as a small shareholder, I would rather earn less money and keep Australians in jobs as well as ensuring greater security here than going off-shore. An Australian company, ensuring Australians must be kept on Australian soil!” said Denise Fulton.

It is clear Australians prefer to speak to Australians, but the hasty migration to countries like the Philippines continues. Why are companies willing to sacrifice their customer’s satisfaction and for what cause?

The biggest driving factor is cost. Salaries account for approximately 80% of the running costs for a contact centre. Cheaper labour is going to have a profound overall impact on your operating costs.

According to Contact Centre Central, “the minimum award salary for a full time contact centre agent (working 38 hours) in Australia with no penalty rates is $41,332 compared to the average $5,751 a customer service agent working up to 47 hours including penalty rates in the Philippines would receive.  Just based on a 30 seat contact centre that’s an annual saving of over $1 Million for every year of operations.”

Is cutting-costs a good enough reason to move off-shore? Tell me what you think in the comments.

Written by: Claire Dowler

Claire Dowler is a Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.
A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

11 April 2017

Is this war?

Author :

At 2.53pm on Friday 7 April, a truck ploughed through one of Stockholm’s busiest streets, before crashing into a shopping centre.

A CCTV camera from one of the stores on Drottninggatan, shows how panic-stricken people run down the street. Some run into the store, others keep running ahead, before a truck comes barging by in full speed.

Four people died and 15 got injured in the incident.

This is just the latest attack in a series that are spreading through Europe. The previous one, where a man drove into a crowd in central London before barging into the Houses of Parliament in London, happened less than a month ago.

The attacker in Stockholm was quickly caught by police, and has since pleaded guilty to the attack. He was already known to police for commenting on IS propaganda sites online. He was an asylum seeker who should have been deported earlier in the year. Despite this, he managed to make it through the police’s filters unnoticed.

Friends and family back home are talking about “the war”, that it’s finally here. And I regretfully agree. When you no longer feel safe to walk down the streets in your home town, out of fear that some lunatic will barge into you with a car or throw a bomb into a crowd, isn’t that war?

I’ve always felt safe, always trusted our government to protect its people. But when the attacker is already known to police and on their lists, but yet manages to commit such an awful crime, I’ve lost my faith in our government.

At the same time, the government appears to be discussing and disagreeing internally as to how to move forward and prevent further terror attacks. To perhaps make it worse, it comes at a time where the world leaders don’t seem to be able to agree either.

When the terrorists group rose to the public eye only a few years ago, it seemed like a joke. It was too bizarre to be taken seriously, and never in my wildest dreams would I’ve anticipated this outcome.

Now I’m praying for this craziness to end. For our governments to once and for all take control of the situation and make our lives safe again.

Written by: Mimmie Wilhelmson

Mimmie grew up in Sweden and first came to Australia as a backpacker after high school. After travelling around the country for two years she returned to Europe and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in London. But the longing for Australia and the sun became too strong. After having worked for some time in the media industry, Mimmie decided to make a change and swap the news for conferences. She now gets to do what she loves the most, meeting new people and keep learning about cultures and issues while producing conferences on current topics.

05 April 2017

Government spending on IT up almost 50%

Author :

The Federal government is splurging on information technology with projected costs at nearly $10 billion for this financial year.

Spending has soared from $6.7 billion in the 2014-2015 financial year to 9.3 billion from 2015-2016. This is expected to grow by another $300 million this year, as confirmed by the office of Digital Transformation Minister Angus Taylor.

Mr Taylor attributes the increase to playing digital catch-up after years of “neglect and under-spending on vital IT infrastructure” but that the benefits of modernising Australia’s federal departments would prove to be money well spent.

"Everyone understands that the business of good government these days requires good IT, good data and good processes.
"We in the government have come to that conclusion and the truth is that future governments will get as much if not more of the payback than us but it's the right thing to do for Australia.
"Too many governments have put this off. We can't keep putting it off."
The announcements follows a myriad of public sector IT disasters, including the Australian Taxation Office and Australian Bureau of Statistics.

A few months ago an IT crash saw vast amounts of data stored by the ATO lost and customer service websites were brought down.

But Paul Shetler, the Digital Transformation Agency’s former Chief Executive Officer, blames the digital failure on the poor training of public service staff, describing the reliance on outsourcing as “expensive” and “wasteful”.

Written by: Claire Dowler

Claire Dowler is a Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.
A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

04 April 2017

Domino’s will begin using robots to deliver pizzas in Europe

Author :

Starship Technologies, the London-based company that has created six-wheeled self-driving delivery robots, will begin taking customers Domino’s pizzas in Germany and the Netherlands.

Starship, launched in July 2014 by two former Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, will whisk pizzas to customers’ doors if they live within a one-mile radius of certain Dominos pizza shops in "select German and Dutch cities," the company said in a statement.

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd., the world’s largest franchise licence owner of Domino’s Pizza, with operations in markets across Asia and Europe, has formed a group called Domino’s Robotic Unit to oversee the project. Domino’s has tested ground-based autonomous vehicles for pizza delivery in Australia and New Zealand in 2016. In November it also delivered a pizza --peri-peri chicken-- by drone in New Zealand.

"With our growth plans over the next five to 10 years, we simply won’t have enough delivery drivers if we do not look to add to our fleet through initiatives such as this," Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Chief Executive Officer Don Meij said in a statement.

Starship’s battery-powered robot is designed to operate autonomously on sidewalks, not roads, and has a maximum speed of four miles per hour carrying loads up to 20 pounds. Its cargo hold, which customers unlock with a code sent to their mobile phones, is insulated and the pizzas will also be placed inside a special hot or cold bag similar to the ones used for motorcycle-based deliveries.

"Dependent on size, we can carry up to eight pizzas on a delivery or a variety of combinations of pizzas, sides and cold drinks or dessert products," the company said.

Starship is already delivering food orders for Just Eat Plc in London, in the upmarket neighborhood of Greenwich. It also has partnerships for food, grocery and parcel deliveries with Postmates, DoorDash, Hermes Parcel Delivery Service, Swiss Post and Wolt in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Switzerland and Estonia.

Mercedes-Benz Vans, a unit of Daimler AG, invested $17.2 million in Starship in January. Mercedes-Benz has created prototype vans that could serve as a kind of "mothership" or logistics hub for a small fleet of autonomous sidewalk drones like Starship’s. These vans could one day be self-driving too.

Written by: Nicolas Verbeeck

Nicolas was born in Belgium and became an expert in consuming excellent beers, chocolate and waffles. During the winter period you can find him on a hockey pitch and in summer he loves to go for a swim or a surf. In 2013 Nicolas was wondering what the beers, chocolate and waffles would taste like in Australia and never came back. One reason… the weather. Nicolas obtained a masters in International Politics and tries to use this background to produce excellent conferences at Akolade.