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After discussing the management of data generated during the COVID-19 pandemic from the point of view of key wholesale and capacity industry players, the panel’s moderator, Toni Eid, Founder of Telecom Review and CEO of Trace Media asked the panelists to explore the role of the cloud during this time.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to reinvent how we work, learn, interact and socialize.

According to Vaneet Mehta, Tata Communications, cloud computing has played a crucial role in enabling businesses to quickly apply digital solutions to respond to the crisis and maintain continuity.

“Digital adoption increased during the pandemic, which has led to an increase in cloud adoption,” he said.

However, with cloud adoption and work-from-home strategies, there has been an increase in security breaches.  “What comes with this is the challenge of security especially for those working from home,” Mehta said.  

GBI’s Cengiz Oztelcan agrees that the subject of security has not been adequately addressed due to the pressured implementation of digital solutions and cloud applications.

“Right now security is in the back burner because people are just trying to be connected. It’s a good time for us to think about this, but security concerns will emerge again eventually.”

According to Orange’s Emmanuel Rochas, “security was highly compromised during this period.”

Despite this, Rochas says that the crisis has triggered a number of changes, both in the industry and in society as a whole.

"What we can learn for the future is the need to accelerate network automation and adapt to the new demands."

Further, PCCW Global’s Marc Halbfinger weighed in on the the cloud discussion. He believes the cloud has become a primary form of infrastructure. There has always been an attraction for businesses to begin their journey to the cloud, and demand has always been high, but COVID-19 has certainly accelerated that process.

“It becomes a no brainer. Everyone wants to leverage the value that cloud brings.”

“It’s important to focus on trends – increasing digitization and cloud adoption. That is what we should be learning to facilitate. We are living through a constant state of change and uncertainty and this requires us to be creative and flexible.”

Frederic Schepens, MTN GlobalConnect, agrees that cloud adoption and digitization are vital for the future, but this may take longer as Africa is still developing, from both a demographic and economic perspective. 

“Automation is certainly something that is badly needed. MTN is fast-tracking our digitization projects all through cloud enablement, for ourselves and customers. Everyone deserves a digitally-enabled environment.”

“Agility is needed in these times. As an industry we can do a lot of good to support all these changes with good robust infrastructure, and by facilitating the digitization process,” Schepens said.

Etisalat’s Ali Amiri also believes the global pandemic has placed a spotlight on the cloud, pointing out the reliable cloud platforms available for video-conferencing.

“I think this crisis brought the focus on cloud. Most of the collaboration platforms that we use are cloud-based. Organizations that are well-established have fewer concerns in terms of security and remote working. That is why readiness is important, and it is thanks to the cloud.”

Cloud computing represents the catalyst and the enabler of the important technological shift that was already well underway before COVID-19. And it’s likely to be key to business resilience in the aftermath of the pandemic.

SES Networks’ Elias Zaccack says the satellite operator has already embraced cloud, but wants to enable their customers to do the same.

“Without dismissing the severity of COVID-19, we are seeing is a lot of opportunities.  One of those opportunities is digitization. A lot of countries are moving a lot faster to digitization and cloud adoption.”

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