The two a&f co-owners respond to the most important questions about the cloud. And explain why it is worth it from the perspective of a&f.
We have been won over by the cloud. By why? What benefits do companies see if, for example, they move their editorial system to the cloud? In an interview, Stefan Schärer and Serge Dillier explain why we want to encourage companies to switch. And why the a&f cloud is located in the Green data centre..
a&f: Hello Stefan, hello Serge, please tell us a little bit about yourselves: who are you and what are your roles at a&f systems?
Stefan Schärer (SSC): My name is Stefan Schärer, I am Head of Sales & Marketing and co-owner of a&f systems ag, and also CEO of a&f systems gmbh in Germany. Having grown up in a printing family, I was almost born into the profession. I learned the craft of a typographer, however, soon after completing my apprenticeship, I moved to Sales where I took on responsibility for PrePress and PreMedia projects in larger companies within the midlands and was also able to build up and manage cross-media teams. I gained my business knowledge at the HF Medienwirtschaft und Medienmanagement [Higher Technical College of Media Studies and Media Management] in Bern. In 2010, I joined a&f as a Key Account Manager. In 2014, I then took over as director for all sales and for the Marketing department and since the start of 2017, I have been a joint owner and member of the administrative board.
Serge Dillier (SDI): I am Serge Dillier, Head of Applications and, like Stefan, also a co-owner of a&f systems ag. In addition to management of the Applications department, my responsibilities include support and management of projects in the field of editorial and publications. With my background as an ICT Manager (Federal Certification), I provide support to colleagues and customers with technical questions and technical concepts. I always try to be the «translator» between the customer and technical staff and to provide information at the required technical level.
a&f: What benefits do companies see if they choose the cloud?
SSC: The customer can safety outsource its editorial and publication solutions (incl. peripheral systems) and optimise disaster concepts. The benefits here are low investment costs, as well as planning and budget security. If necessary, we can provide a «full-service package» with suitable hardware, support, monitoring and backup, as well as software if required.
SDI: In addition, the scaling is simple and quick, wherever necessary. If a company receives a new project, along with a new journal or similar, no new hardware needs to be purchased. The customer can also forget about restores and backups, it simply increases the monthly rental costs. The same applies for temporary employees or training - such projects and increases can be planned without internal IT. With the cloud, a company benefits from new developments and updates. And it is also easier for employees to switch to a home office. There are no additional costs, for example, for VPN. Access is possible from anywhere in the world.
a&f: When choosing for or against the cloud, the increasing need for security must be an important factor. How can this be guaranteed in the a&f cloud?
SSC: Customer are asking for certifications more and more. The Green data centre is certified in accordance with ISO-27001 and structured according to the Tier IV standard. It has also just been recognised as the leading colocation provider in Switzerland. In addition to regular control systems, security is ensured through 7x24x365 proactive monitoring by a&f.
SDI: (High) availability is especially important for editorial and publication systems. Editors, layout artists, etc. want to access performance systems around the clock and seven days a week. In the cloud, the customer systems are monitored non-stop. If required, we offer 7/24 support and can resolve problems immediately. The customer can reach us at any time on the HelpLine. The customer no longer has to worry about security standards and the corresponding infrastructure – which also results in lower electricity costs (no operations with cooling systems etc.).
a&f: The rapid further development of technologies and the associated investment cycles in hard and software make modern server rooms indispensable. Who should be entrusted with looking after them?
SSC: Relevant knowledge is required to provide support for technologies and systems. A single person is not enough, there is no «Superman». Specialists with technical expertise are essential here. Absences such as holidays or illness must also be covered. This affects several weeks during the year.
SDI: By outsourcing to the cloud, responsibility can be easily handed over to us by the customer. Out technical specialists have received the best training and have proven experience gained over many years.
a&f: How do you look after the different requirements of the customers?
SSC: Our packages are adjusted individually to suit the specific industry and (customer) requirements. We evaluate the requirements for resources, capacity, scaling, modularity, etc. Based on this, we offer the customer a tailor-made service.
a&f: Why a computer centre in Switzerland? Why the Green data centre?
SSC: Switzerland has established itself as an outstanding location for IT, and now also for international companies. This is due, on the one hand, to our education system and the political neutrality and economic stability. On the other hand, the excellent level of security in Switzerland, our standards and laws. Switzerland also has the ideal infrastructure with regard to glass fibre networks, power supply and air, rail and road transport.
SDI: The Green data centre is the only one in Switzerland to meet all our requirements. It guarantees that all data stays within Switzerland. We have our own «private cage» there. This means we are not just partners; we are suppliers. So we can also ensure that your data is not just secured from the outside by firewalls etc. but also that no unauthorised party can access your hardware.
Serge Dillier (left) und Stefan Schärer (right)
Find more about our services here: