Q&A with Tom Raftery, Global VP at SAP

MEDIA 7 | September 19, 2019

Tom Raftery, Global VP at SAP is an Innovation Evangelist, Futurist, and international Keynote speaker. Prior to joining SAP, Tom worked for a number of companies at Group IT Manager/CTO level, and as an Industry Analyst. Tom is a global thought leader and ranks among the top 10 Internet of Things influencers in the world. 

MEDIA 7: If I were to say to a bunch of people who know you, ‘Give me three adjectives that best describe you’, what would I hear?
TOM RAFTERY: 
I would like to think that I am a good communicator, maybe smart and hopefully generous. You will have to ask people other than myself though. They would be a better judge.

M7: What is the role of a technology influencer in driving environmental sustainability?
TR: 
The role of someone like me would be to raise awareness of the issues that are happening and potential solutions to them, particularly technological solutions. A lot of people are busy in their day-to-day lives and they might not be aware of some of the more pressing environmental issues that are happening in the world and that might impact them. So, raising awareness with people, of the importance of these issues, and the potential technological solutions to them is the role I think that influencers should be playing.


"Raising awareness with people, of the importance of environmental issues, and the potential technological solutions to them is the role that influencers should be playing."

M7: SAP is celebrating the 10th anniversary of strategic sustainability this year. What are the initiatives being taken by the company to help the world run better and achieve the UN sustainable development goals by 2030?
TR:
We are involved in a lot of different projects in this front. We work for example, with Vestas Wind Systems who are the only global energy company dedicated exclusively to wind energy. We help them with their backend systems to help optimize the delivery of windfarms and turbines to windfarms, so that they are keeping their costs down and deploying the windfarms with the highest efficiency. We work with Munich Re and the European Space Agency. Munich Re are one of the largest reinsurance companies in the world and for them, they need to predict, and try and mitigate the damage of natural disasters. We use data from European Space Agency to help Munich Re do that.

We work with Brazilian company, Stara who are an agricultural company. They manufacture agricultural equipment, and the work we do with them is what’s called precision agriculture. Precision agriculture means that we can help their machines be far more precise in things like spreading fertilizers, spreading seeds to make sure that the seeds don’t overlap, the fertilizer doesn’t overlap and you’re doing it row by row. You have to sow the seeds and spread the fertilizer very accurately to avoid an overlap. Because if you have overlap with fertilizer, it can reach toxic levels and damage the plants that you are trying to help. If you have overlap in seeds, you can have excess competition between the seeds and then you get reduction in yield. Whereas if you are optimizing using precision agriculture, you are massively reducing your inputs and you are maximizing your outputs. So, you are able to feed more people with less land and less resources which obviously, as we are reaching higher population levels year-on-year, this becomes more and more important.

We work with NGOs like this one in Africa, called Elephants, Rhinos and People which was founded to preserve and protect the wild elephants and rhinos in Southern Africa. We work with local people to make sure that it’s more profitable for them to protect wildlife than it is to be poaching wildlife. We put collars on elephants and rhinos with geo-tracking in them. We use drones, to track the elephants and rhinos and if they start approaching borders of the parks that might expose them more to poaching. We send off alerts and help move them back into places where they are safer. Since we started the initiative in that area, no elephants rhinos, or humans have been harmed since the deployment of the tracking.

We work with Swiss Federal Railways, the largest energy consumer in Switzerland and they are also an energy producer - they produce electricity. So, we work with them to help reduce the peak loads, the peak demand for electricity by flattening their load which then means, they don’t need to build extra generation plants, reducing their carbon footprint and making their organization more efficient.


"Making our workforce aware of what we are doing as our external constituents is important for our employees to feel engaged and part of something important."

M7: You have been on the SmartCitiesWorld Advisory Board. How does SmartCitiesWorld help in developing smart cities of the future?
TR:
The SmartCitiesWorld is a publication. It raises awareness of smart cities initiatives that cities can take to make the cities run better, reduce their energy requirements, reduce their footprint, increase their air quality, reduce noise pollution, and lots of different initiatives like that. So, as a publication, it’s primarily responsible for raising awareness and helping cities find better ways to increase quality of life for their constituents.

M7: How does SAP embrace an innovative culture in the company?
TR:
Obviously, as a technology company it is very important for SAP to embrace an innovative culture in the company and what the company typically does is, it spends a lot of money on research and development and it does a lot of communication internally and externally highlighting the innovative solutions that we have come up with for our customers. And making our workforce aware of what we are doing as our external constituents because it’s important for our employees to feel engaged and part of something important. And as a consequence, every time, every year, we run this survey internally on how happy our employees are working for SAP. And our rate of employee retention is extremely high.

It’s not unusual in Europe to talk to SAP employees who have been working for the company for 10 or more years, which in the technology industry is unusual. So, that’s how we embrace the innovative culture and we talk of the things that we do, we work closely also with our customers because we do a lot of co-innovation projects with our customers where we take our customers into our co-innovation centers and we talk through their problems with them and come up with innovative ways to solve any particularly gnarly issues that they might have.


"A lot of people are busy in their day-to-day lives and they might not be aware of some of the more pressing environmental issues that are happening in the world and that might impact them."

M7: What is your favorite part of working at SAP?
TR:
I started working for SAP in September 2016, so it’s just over 3 years ago now. And, prior to working with SAP, I had worked primarily with startups and small companies. I have never worked with a global mega vendor before. So, I was wondering what it would be like and I had my doubts, and if you would ask me in 2016, I would have said, “Yeah, I’ll probably last about three months with SAP”. But, three years later, here I am. And, a lot of that is down to the fact that the company is so big, and it has close to 100,000 employees, it means there are always people I can approach, if I need help in any country or in any industry. Because my role is across industry. So, if I need to talk to somebody who is in the transportation industry, I can just go straight to the transportation business unit and talk to people there. If I need to talk to people in the hospitality industry, same story. If I need to talk to people in the airline industry, the mining industry, the electricity industry, we cover all industries, we cover all regions globally. And, there’s a culture within SAP of helpfulness which is great. Apparently, it’s unusual. For me, it’s the norm if people bring up and ask me for help, I would say, “Yeah sure, absolutely, no problem.” And that’s the way most people in SAP are! You pick up the phone or send an email, and they are happy to help, no matter what. Apparently, that’s not the norm for big companies, but it is the norm for SAP which is great and that’s why I love working for SAP.  

M7: When did you start working, how old were you, and what was it?
TR:
My first job was when I was 14. I worked on a building site where I was a builder’s mate, helping raise the scaffolding on the building and also help ferry bricks that were delivered to the site from the ground up to the brick layers on the top floor. So, that was my first job.

ABOUT SAP

SAP is a global software application vendor. SAP is the market leader in enterprise application software, helping companies of all sizes and in all industries run at their best: 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system. Our machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics technologies help turn customers’ businesses into intelligent enterprises. Our end-to-end suite of applications and services enables our customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and make a difference. With a global network of customers, partners, employees, and thought leaders, SAP helps the world run better and improves people’s lives.

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Blue Planet Automation Accelerates CSP Adoption of 5G and Multi-Cloud

Blue Planet | September 28, 2022

Blue Planet, a division of Ciena has added new software enhancements to its intelligent automation product portfolio, helping communication service providers (CSPs) accelerate their digital transformation and quickly monetize innovative digital services built on 5G and multi-cloud infrastructure. These enhancements deliver end-to-end observability and control to automate service lifecycle management, improve operational agility and optimize customer experience. The latest software innovations across the Blue Planet intelligent automation portfolio address multiple CSP digital transformation challenges and opportunities: 5G automation: The emergence of 5G standalone, network slicing and multi-access edge computing (MEC) allows CSPs to monetize their network in new ways by delivering innovative slice-based services and offering true digital experiences. Blue Planet is providing new 5G automation capabilities that include: An open, productized 5G network slicing solution that incorporates end-to-end orchestration and observability for zero-touch lifecycle management – automating design, activation, assurance, and modification – of slices, including sub-slice management, across the radio access network (RAN) to the core. Dynamic inventory for visualizing the optimal placement of physical and cloud-native resources as well as the end-to-end 5G service topology to help CSPs plan and deploy their 5G resources quickly and efficiently. Multi-Cloud extensibility: Open cloud-based approaches are critical to increasing scale and agility, as well as enabling elastic connectivity models with cloud providers. New Blue Planet multi-cloud enhancements include: Broad Kubernetes support that enables the intelligent placement and orchestration of cloud-based network functions (CNFs) and applications in distributed multi-cloud environments. As a truly cloud-native platform, Blue Planet can be deployed in any public or private cloud and can be consumed in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. As a key player in the multi-cloud ecosystem, Blue Planet has recently joined Nephio, a new Linux Foundation open-source project seeded by Google and focused on Kubernetes-based intent-driven automation of network functions and the underlying infrastructure that supports them. Low-code usability: Low-code technology helps CSPs improve operational agility by empowering them and their system integration partners to design and build new service types and applications for end customers with minimal IT and vendor support. New Blue Planet low-code enhancements include: A single set of integrated development tools across the Blue Planet portfolio to accelerate the onboarding of new network resources and declarative templating abilities that simplify the modeling and creation of new services. "With the rise of 5G and cloudified services, CSPs’ network and service operations will become even more complicated, making automation a necessity. Blue Planet has been making steady incremental progress to enable CSP automation, with its vendor-agnostic, modular, programmable take on service lifecycle management. This latest product upgrade from Blue Planet, with its focus on simplicity for the customer, provides telcos with an opportunity for growth and to engage with the digital economy,” said Francis Haysom, Principal Analyst, Appledore. "Digitization is accelerating for CSPs as they modernize their operations to deliver innovative new services more quickly and cost-effectively,” said Rick Hamilton, At Blue Planet, we are laser-focused on creating intelligent automation capabilities that help our CSP customers digitize operations and deliver exciting new digital services to improve the customer experience.” Senior Vice President, Blue Planet. You can learn more about these new and enhanced features by visiting Blue Planet this week at Digital Transformation World (DTW) 2022, September 20-22 in Copenhagen, Denmark, where Blue Planet is participating in the ‘Supercharged edge-aware marketplaces’ Catalyst demonstration. About Blue Planet Blue Planet provides proven software solutions that accelerate digital transformation through intelligent automation. With more than 200 deployments worldwide, our modular, vendor-agnostic product portfolio enables real-time visibility and control to manage changing network operating environments. Backed by a global team of delivery specialists and an ecosystem of partners, Blue Planet is a division of Ciena that combines expertise across IT, network, and business operations to enable the agility necessary for creating differentiated end-customer experiences.

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CLOUD SECURITY

Prisma Cloud Delivers Context-Aware Software Composition Analysis to Secure Deployment of Open Source Software

Palo Alto Network | September 23, 2022

Open source software is a critical component of cloud-native applications, allowing developers greater speed and modularity without having to reinvent the wheel each time they code. However, as the Unit 42 Cloud Threat Report, 2H 2021 found, open source software can often contain known vulnerabilities, which can open organizations up to significant risk. Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ: PANW), the global cybersecurity leader, today introduced the industry's first context-aware software composition analysis (SCA) solution to help developers safely use open source software components. The integration of SCA into Prisma® Cloud further demonstrates why Palo Alto Networks is the leading provider of cloud-native security. Traditional SCA solutions are standalone products that can produce a large number of alerts but lack the runtime context to help fix vulnerabilities. With the addition of SCA to the Prisma Cloud platform, developers and security teams can proactively surface and prioritize known vulnerabilities that impact the application lifecycle (i.e., code, build, deploy and run). Prisma Cloud SCA delivers deep dependency detection and remediation of vulnerabilities in open source software before applications reach production. It can also help developers prioritize remediation based on software components that are already in use. These capabilities are not possible when SCA solutions are deployed as single point products. "Developers leveraging open source software should be able to build applications with the confidence they aren't opening the organization up to risk, With the average application consisting of 75% open source components, SCA on Prisma Cloud is key to protecting the organization from code to cloud and empowering developers to build with speed." Ankur Shah, senior vice president, Prisma Cloud, Palo Alto Networks As a complete cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP), Prisma Cloud is context-aware at every stage of the application lifecycle to provide a unified view of risk across organizations' cloud environments. Where current approaches to cloud security rely on siloed products that provide intermittent visibility without remediation, Prisma Cloud approaches cloud security with a comprehensive, prevention-first framework. With 188% increase in cloud incident response cases over the past three years, this shift in approach has become mandatory. A complete code-to cloud CNAPP needs to incorporate the following five key principles in order to keep organizations safe: Security from code to cloud — protects applications at every stage of the development lifecycle — from code, build, deploy and run. Continuous, real time visibility — uses real-time and contextual security analysis of cloud environments to help prevent misconfigurations, vulnerabilities and threats. Prevention-first protection — stopping attacks and defending against zero-day vulnerabilities to drive down mean time to remediation. Choice for every cloud journey — aligning security needs with current and future cloud priorities by supporting a breadth of cloud service providers, workload architectures, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines, integrated development environments (IDEs), and repositories with a unified platform Cloud scale security — consistently secures applications as cloud environments scale. In addition to SCA and to further increase the safety of cloud-native applications, Prisma Cloud introduced a software bill of materials (SBOM) among other capabilities for developers to easily maintain and reference a complete codebase inventory of every application component used across cloud environments. Implementing SCA and SBOM ensures Prisma Cloud aligns with these principles. "Buyers looking for cloud-native security solutions need to keep the requirements of microservices security protection in mind. The 'bolted-on' and 'whack-a-mole' approaches are a thing of the past," said Frank Dickson, program vice president, Security and Trust at IDC. "Security should be embedded throughout the application development life cycle. This means that buyers need to fundamentally change their approach to security, although they need to continue to protect their run-time environments, they must also embrace solutions that embed security in the application development process, an approach referred to as 'shift left.' Shift left requires one to think less about security products and more about continuous security processes." About Palo Alto Networks Palo Alto Networks is the world's cybersecurity leader. We innovate to outpace cyberthreats, so organizations can embrace technology with confidence. We provide next-gen cybersecurity to thousands of customers globally, across all sectors. Our best-in-class cybersecurity platforms and services are backed by industry-leading threat intelligence and strengthened by state-of-the-art automation. Whether deploying our products to enable the Zero Trust Enterprise, responding to a security incident, or partnering to deliver better security outcomes through a world-class partner ecosystem, we're committed to helping ensure each day is safer than the one before. It's what makes us the cybersecurity partner of choice.

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