Navigating the new Normal Successfully with NTT

In just a little over a year, NTT Ltd. has come about from a merger of 31 companies over 70 countries, bringing together 40,000 people from brands such as NTT Communications, Dimension Data, DTSI, Emerio, NTT Security and Training Partners into one company. What a year this has been!

Henrick Choo, CEO, Malaysia for NTT Ltd, takes on the challenge of elucidating NTT’s offering in the midst of this new pandemic normal and how the company will meet the remainder of the year head-on in Malaysia and beyond, for its clients.

Henrick Choo

Synergies and remote working

With the integration of NTT Ltd.’s companies, the company has created a global technology services provider that delivers a full breadth of industry-leading products, solutions and Managed Services that address clients’ business needs. On top of that, NTT Ltd. in Malaysia will benefit from NTT’s innovation centre in Japan as well as being able to make use of its full partnership network. The company chalks the success of phasing-in vis-à-vis different cultures and operations to the fact that all parties understand the vision of the integrated companies and see the upside of it. Furthermore, it actively promotes a diverse and inclusive culture in order to produce great products and solutions for its clients.

Notwithstanding, Covid-19 has interrupted virtually every business, forcing many companies to shift priorities and investments. Seemingly overnight, we are living in a “new normal”, with most of us working remotely. However, Henrick views this as becoming the accelerator for one of the greatest workplace transformations of our lifetime.

Following the SARS epidemic in 2003, NTT has worked with numerous analysts and consultants to implement its own business continuity model in the event of a pandemic. These processes have been tested to the full over the last quarter. The key question was whether business-critical functions could continue with over 90% of employees working from home.

Henrick surmises that NTT was able to implement these processes by increasing the use of its platforms and adopting automation to deliver services. Platforms are immune to Covid-19; people aren’t. This approach allowed the group to move over 95-percent of centrally delivered support functions to home working solutions within a two-week period, across the globe. Remote working has definitely changed processes that they are normally used to.

Decision making and employee engagement are all happening virtually. Virtual fatigue is a term that many employees are resonating with. It therefore becomes important to ensure that there is clear and effective communication to employees, that they are well engaged and that there are other activities for them to look forward to during the day.

Fifth data centre in Malaysia

NTT Ltd. has planned for a fifth data centre at the NTT Cyberjaya Campus in Malaysia (CBJ5) before the pandemic. It is forging ahead with the data centre, which is due for completion by end 2020. CBJ5 boasts a Tier 4 ready, compact and modular design, to provide clients with a flexible and scalable power and cooling solution. It is designed to meet the requirements of hyperscalers and high-end enterprises, especially those that require solid power management capabilities. In addition, CBJ5 is able to accommodate progressive power increments and cooling of up to 10kW/rack. This is revolutionary as it will allow NTT clients to maximise the power resources in their chosen data centre. NTT also have a mature network community coupled with Cloud infrastructure service. With that, the data exchange in its DC campus is in block of Terabytes and Gigabit per seconds in speed.

One step ahead in a 5G world

Inadvertently, cyberattacks are happening in the midst of this pandemic – what more, at machine speed, not human speed – especially with the development of 5G. 5G involves reviewing rules applied in filtering out malicious network traffic as the current rules used might not recognise the subtleties of the highly customised traffic possible with 5G. In addition, the explosion of Internet of Things (IoT) devices could also present difficulties for security statistics that have been used to monitor human subscribers – as opposed to machine subscribers (IoT devices). Thus, with increasing IoT devices being connected, it is crucial that these devices are also being monitored and secured as part of security enforcement.

In its 2020 Global Threat Intelligence Report (GTIR), NTT reveals that despite efforts by organisations to layer up their cyber defences, attackers are continuing to innovate faster than ever before and automate their attacks. In fact, attackers are leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning and investing in automation. According to its report, 21% of malware detected was in the form of a vulnerability scanner, which supports the premise that automation is a key focus point of attackers.

Due to that, NTT does not even talk about proactive security to clients anymore; instead it has pivoted to predictive security, which it believes will become essential for delivering an active cyber defence. As businesses move applications to multi-cloud environments and with an increase in remote working, remote access and consumption of voice and video services, organisations’ network and security infrastructure are under incredible pressure. To keep up, organisations will need the help of machines.

This enables organisations to predict when an attack is going to happen – and fast. Using 5G machine learning can also help generate a new baseline that would in turn identify what would be acceptable network traffic, and help reduce pressure on security personnel or experts in the enterprise. Embedding this level of intelligence into infrastructure and applications should therefore become a top priority for businesses when 5G comes around.

NTT’s solution in overcoming pandemic work challenges

In these uncertain times, many organisations have turned to NTT to ensure business continuity and security.  Organisations are experiencing strain on their network due to the dramatic shift in traffic patterns required to support the surge in remote access, voice and video infrastructure. Under business as usual conditions, the network is a critical asset that underpins the majority of modern business communications and the pandemic crisis has emphasised the importance of a secure, high-performing network.

The fact is that we may not go back to what it was. The remote secure worker trend is probably here to stay, especially given cost advantages and any recurring threat from Covid-19. That means moving from thick branch/thin remote to thick remote/thin branch. Investment in cloud-based ways of working may serve as a catalyst for economic growth. Enterprises will try to minimise single points of failure in supply chains, and those supply chains need to be secure, and operate all over the world.

While public cloud continues to grow, enterprise data centres still play a key role in most organisations for reasons such as data security and sovereignty, local data access, cost optimisation and low latency requirements. Organisations are therefore prioritising a balanced approach between on-premises and hosted private cloud infrastructure, and public cloud.

NTT can provide a single managed service covering the Cisco and Microsoft collaboration environment as well as other collaboration technologies through its Managed Cloud Platform (MCP). NTT’s MCP supports enterprise applications such as SAP S/4HANA and business productivity suite, to provide stringent performance requirements, including application level service level agreements (SLA). It also touts a modern data centre offering multiple layers of security equipped with robust backup and disaster recovery capabilities to ensure business continuity.

The local presence of its MCP also effectively addresses concerns on data sovereignty. Considering this and the modernisation of business applications in Malaysia, a secure and robust cloud ecosystem should be prioritised. With NTT’s leadership in networks and cybersecurity, customers can ensure the safe migration of their data between the data centre, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments. NTT also provides comprehensive Managed Services that can be easily extended to other hyperscale providers.

Agility and flexibility are critical for digital business, but hybrid IT environments are difficult to manage. With applications hosted on a combination of on-premises, private cloud and public cloud, keeping an eye on everything is not easy. With systems spread out across multiple environments organisations need a way to manage all of these from a single interface. With NTT’s Cloud Services, organisations will have the visibility required to gain insight into how all their systems work together. This helps them better understand which applications can be moved to the cloud and which need to stay in their existing environment. There is no one-size-fits-all cloud migration strategy but with NTT, clients are able to choose from multiple architectures from on-premise, to cloud and even multi-cloud.

Addressing security concerns among organisations have also been increasing.  There has been a significant increase in cyberattacks in the wake of Covid-19, as hackers seek to exploit coronavirus-related panic, along with vulnerabilities created by an increase in remote working. New forms of cyber threats are emerging with trends indicating healthcare and financial institutions as the primary targets. Healthcare industry need to be extra vigilant with the growth of 5G, especially when healthcare IoT equipment are being introduced.

Organisations need to up the ante to ensure their business are protected with sophisticated threat intelligence, detection, and response services, and are able to defend against malicious threats and activity that can bypass traditional security measures. Security needs to be proactive and this is where NTT comes in to provide organisations with the assessment, consultancy and management of their challenges.

These are the ways NTT supports its clients:

  •  Extend services to help minimise the impact of work disruption
  • Rapidly enable secure remote working for clients’ employees
  • Enable high-performance, scalable connectivity for business continuity
  • Manage security staff shortages and assign appropriate personnel, tools, processes and technologies to maintain the organisation’s security posture
  •  Transition to virtual and home working with remote customer experience agents
  •  Ensure critical components are on site using its Supply Chain Services

 Change is constant

There certainly has been a shift in emphasis and budgets. Covid-19 has thrust organisations to drive and execute their digitalisation strategy earlier than planned.  NTT is responsible and accountable for some pretty mission-critical services on behalf of its customers.  Consequently, the company spent a lot of time early in the outbreak to ensure that its disaster recovery and business continuity processes kicked in. In some cases, NTT had to reinforce some of the backbone technology to enable that.

At the end of the day, change is constant, it has always been that way. Henrick concludes that there is a need to find new ways to innovate the client’s business. Be creative and be prepared to shift strategies. Technology is primed to enable business continuity in the new hybrid workforce (remote, intelligent work environment), help businesses build new revenue channels and achieve much needed cost savings.

Businesses will be able to rise above disruptions and navigate the new normal through the power of the right partnerships. Every organisation is on a different journey, and at a different point in their evolution.

Wherever you are, NTT believes it has something that can move you forward.