Regulatory maze: Rolling out a pan-European cloud

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Regulatory maze: Rolling out a pan-European cloud

By Bertus van Rooy, CIO at Ricoh SA

Cloud Computing is universally considered one of the biggest enablers of business growth in Europe today. So much so that Neelie Kroes, VP of the European Commission, who is responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, recently said that she wanted Europe to be cloud active rather than simply cloud friendly. Kroes then went on to describe how the EU is confident in the cloud’s ability to drive growth for SMEs across the EMEA region, further develop its high tech business environment, deliver savings for governments and ultimately create a more efficient European economy.

However, there are still challenges for businesses that wish to embrace the cloud, especially those that span multiple countries. A number of laws exist across states regarding what data can be stored or shared with other areas of a business, both locally, within the national operation, as well as overseas. This means that companies often find it challenging to set up a single cloud service for all of their operations since many countries do not permit certain data to be housed outside national borders. This presents significant headaches to pan-European and pan-African businesses looking to use the cloud within their own operations.

However, Ricoh – a specialist in business document processes – is an example of one such company which successfully navigated this regulatory maze to deploy a unified cloud environment across its European and African operations.

Ricoh firmly believes that the cloud sits at the centre of the future workplace, with businesses becoming more mobile and flexible than ever before. Recent research by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Ricoh, shows that business leaders believe there will be a shift towards more decentralised employee decision-making, increased collaboration between business divisions and an increase in customer led innovation by 2020. As such, businesses need to manage information more effectively and efficiently; making sure it’s available to whoever needs it, when they need it, while at the same time ensuring it remains secure.

It was with this future workplace in mind that Ricoh Europe and South Africa began its cloud journey in 2011. Its vision was to create a single pan-European/African environment to manage all its information securely, while also enabling its employees to access enterprise applications securely from anywhere across the region. Ricoh’s aim was to centralise its IT infrastructure and to reduce duplication of data through the provision of a more efficient IT and business process environment.  Furthermore, at its heart was the drive to contribute towards the company’s sustainability goals of reducing its carbon emissions by 87,5% by 2050 compared with 2000 levels.

In addition to the benefits, a project of this scale also brought challenges, most notably the need to navigate the different national regulations governing data security across the European Union and South Africa. Ensuring compliance with each country’s laws was critical in moving the project forward.
To ensure the delivery of a secure and robust infrastructure while also overcoming the challenges posed by a lack of standardised regulation across Europe and into Africa, Ricoh is completely transparent about where its servers are located and where certain data is stored. Furthermore, since data privacy legislation in Germany is recognised as the most rigorous in the region, Ricoh benchmarked its cloud standards against German legislation. By adhering to Germany’s strong emphasis on protecting the individual’s right to know what information is being collected, by whom and for what purpose, Ricoh is meeting the most stringent test of data storage. 

Ricoh’s operations across Europe and South Africa are now integrated within the cloud with back-office systems based on standardised processes and a single sign on for users. With this infrastructure in place, Ricoh is able to manage its information better, allowing employees to access it from anywhere, so they can collaborate remotely and safely, while also making informed real time decisions - benefitting customers and employees alike.

Today, Ricoh has a scalable, flexible and agile IT platform for Ricoh in Europe and South Africa.  It will remove more than 1 000 servers across EMEA and will result in a reduction of 16,8k tonnes of CO2, the equivalent to emissions from 3 350 cars. It will also support the company’s move to centralise its IT infrastructure for all its operations across the region, with the aim of creating a more efficient IT environment for employees and clients.
At Ricoh we are fortunate in that we specialise in creating more efficient and connected business infrastructures on behalf of our customers, so we have many of the skills to manage a project of this scale. However, for other, non-specialist, businesses both large and small, the rollout of cloud across their cross-border operations is currently an onerous task.

About Ricoh
Ricoh is a global technology company specialising in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems and IT services. Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group, operates in more than 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ending March 2012, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 1,903 billion yen (approx. 23 billion USD).
The majority of the company's revenue comes from products, solutions and services that improve the interaction between people and information. Ricoh also produces award-winning digital cameras and specialised industrial products. It is known for the quality of its technology, the exceptional standard of its customer service and sustainability initiatives.
Under its corporate tagline, imagine. change. Ricoh helps companies transform the way they work and harness the collective imagination of their employees.

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For further information, please contact:

Ricoh South Africa
Bertus van Rooy
Tel.: +27 (0)11 723 5162

Michelle Oelschig
Tel: +27 (0)83 636 1766

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