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Plenty of silver linings

Being able to access our resources from anywhere makes us more efficient, says Anton Cristina, CSL Data Center Services executive director.

Anton CristinaAnton Cristina

Locally, what is the take-up of cloud services?

In the local market, the adoption rate of new technologies or the provisioning of services derived from applications in the cloud is huge. The speed at which companies are changing and transforming their way of thinking and adopting new business models is unprecedented in Malta.

Until five years ago, the market still nursed doubts about the cloud. The local market had a tendency of being conservative and slow to embrace change, which is understandable given the experiences that conditioned our history as a nation. However, with millennials entering the workforce and taking leadership roles in business, we are seeing an accelerated rate of adoption of cloud computing.

Millennials are changing and transforming the Maltese economy as they want services to be faster, better, cheaper and presented in a simple way. Millennials do not over-complicate or over-analyse matters and neither do they try to demonstrate how intelligent they are – they want things to work fast and they want to do more during their lifetime. Moreover, they understand that cloud computing can help them achieve this.

What are the main advantages that cloud services offer to organisations in measuring productivity against the bottom line, with a focus on control, security and costs?

Cloud computing allows you to work from anywhere, anytime. With cloud based solutions such as Skype for Business, Slack, and virtual desktops, I can book a house on Airbnb, use Hopper to find the cheapest flight to my destination, connect my laptop or tablet to the local WiFi connection, and get everything done as if I was sitting at my desk in the office.

Millennials have created a sense of adventure. We want to be the Ferdinand Magellan of the digital age. We are curious about other cultures and want to travel without sacrificing our job. More importantly, the new generation of business leaders don’t want the experience of travelling to be hindered by what’s left in their bank account. The goal is to maximise the time we can spend with our loved ones.

Cloud based technology is giving us all an opportunity to achieve these goals. Looking beyond our personal goals, there are great benefits to the organisations we serve in having this kind of flexibility. Not only does it create an appreciation and a high level of engagement, but it also increases productivity.

Everyone has moments during the day when focus is at its highest point. There are a few specific hours in the day where you’re coming up with your best ideas and your efficiency is at its peak. It’s those moments when you’re able to do several hours of work in less than half an hour. For me that may be late at night, for someone else that may be in the afternoon. Being able to access our resources from anywhere gives us the ability to take advantage of these pockets of efficiency.

Worldwide, the cloud computing industry has grown from $46bn to over $150bn in 2014. In Malta, we are also seeing a significant upward trend. This is in line with the predictions that more than 50 per cent of information technology will be in the cloud within five to 10 years.

By moving to the cloud, businesses register savings on infrastructure costs, software licenses, technical support, and systems management. Moreover, they gain in speed and efficiency.

As a local company offering cloud services, how does CSL Data Center Services compete against big players?

Four years ago I restructured the business, took over a 2000m2 building and built three modular N+1 carrier neutral data centres. Through these, I created a private cloud services model and a shared cloud services model: Project Laya, named after my daughter.

Customers today want things faster, better and cheaper – our model delivers exactly that. Pro­ject Laya today hosts more than 200 virtual private servers and more than 2,000 hosted exchange mailboxes – we’re 25 per cent cheaper than the big players.

Besides being cheaper we provide technical support services to our customers during the on-boarding stage and steady state stage, while the big cloud players provide a portal through which the customers gain access to the VM’s and they have to do everything by themselves.

Also, our billing model is easy to understand and keeps customers in control of their monthly charge and its content. Moreover, with us the data is stored in Malta at our data centre – that means our customers know that their data resides in the Maltese jurisdiction which is governed by Maltese law and guarantees quick and easy access.

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