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Multi-Cloud: 3 Reasons for a Managed Provider

Multi-cloud Provider: Due to the vast choice in public, private and hybrid cloud offerings, launched and launching, organisations don’t need to limit themselves to a single cloud environment. According to a study carried out by 451 Research, commissioned by Microsoft, 50% of organisations believed that independent providers, such as Serviceteam IT, are vital for future digital transformation. 2017 Microsoft Hosting & Cloud Study.

More than ever before, customers are looking to a single trusted advisor to provide transformation-oriented managed services and hybrid implementation. Customers are looking to service providers to not only transform IT but also transform their entire business – to rewire the building and support new requirements, all while keeping the lights on.

 -Melanie Posey, Vice President, 451 Research

While a multi-cloud strategy has the benefit of greater scalability and reduced risk, managing more than one cloud isn’t easy. That’s where a managed multi-cloud provider comes in handy.

Serious About Cloud?

Odds are if you are serious about the cloud, you’re already using at least one of Microsoft Azure, AWS, HPE Helion, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud or somebodies cloud. There are benefits to each of the many cloud providers, however, it’s not only just good practice to have more than one, it’s also probably a necessity as each has its own unique features. Quite simply, not one vendor has the perfect answer to absolutely everything. If that were the case, there would be no competition!

Why use a Multi-Cloud Provider?

Expertise: Simplicity is not always a characteristic of some of the providers. The multitude of platforms, and the depth of the options available, that allow you to support hybrid, multi-cloud environments requires considerable expertise. That’s talent that can not only be hard to find, but enormously expensive to recruit.

Control: There are still many organisations that resist moving resources to the cloud, quite often simply because of the fear of the unknown and that they will lose control. Quite the opposite can be the case with a managed multi-cloud provider. Due to the extensive monitoring and reporting, provided by Serviceteam IT, and pro-active design, delivery and maintenance, rather than less control, you get a lot more.

Security: Even though many of the providers have extensive resources for reliability and security, with some notable exceptions, nothing is perfect. Outages are an inevitability of any IT infrastructure, no matter where it is and who is responsible for it. However, any weakness can be mitigated with a multi-cloud design, especially regarding availability and service interruption. Security can be optimised with sensible pro-active processes and procedures and the implementation of Cloud Connect, restricted access mechanisms and user verification & authentication beyond merely passwords.

Having a managed multi-cloud solution provider can empower your precious IT staff, freeing internal IT teams from “fire-fighting” and tedious IT maintenance, in order for them to focus on more strategic, engaging projects that support organisational growth and delivery of business strategy.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101, use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Cloud Connectivity Providers Explained

Cloud Connectivity: It’s probably safe to say that enterprise, private and hybrid cloud are here to stay. These services have vastly improved the way in which we deliver resources, support new types of users, and create new types of business strategies. Continuing growth in adoption of public services means that even the most risk averse organisations are looking at the many ways to leverage cloud computing environments to help their businesses become much more agile. Spending on cloud network, infrastructure and platform could rise to around $203 billion by 2020, according to the IDC Worldwide Semiannual Public Cloud Services Spending Guide. Admittedly, the same report suggests that only around 5% of total worldwide technology expenditure in 2017, $122 billion, will be cloud related. Some of the rest of the $2.4 trillion will be from traditional in-house delivery, consumers (20%) and tellingly from software (20%). It stands to reason a proportion of the expenditure will be on Cloud Connectivity.

One of the main barriers regarding adoption is security, along with reliability, access and compliance related to data location. These issues raise the perfectly legitimate concern of “How do I create a cloud connectivity strategy that will allow me to leverage my on-premise investment and public architecture?”

What is Cloud Connectivity?

Cloud connectivity enables the interoperability between on-premise resources and public environments. The on-premise environment can be a branch office, the IT services division, a third party data centre with colocated equipment, or a major enterprise data centre. The obvious goal is to create an optimal cloud network strategy, where the business can adjust or scale according to demand whilst increasing security and availability coupled with decreasing expenditure.

Cloud connectivity uses a variety of secure, and high capacity (fast) connections, to enable organisations to integrate with cloud network, storage, compute, and end user environments. The greatest step forward has been the ease of creating these connections and how they can help transform a business. In the past, these connections were made manually and required a lot of know-how and administration. Today, major providers are offering far easier ways to integrate with your resources. Even further back, access to those resources was made available only via the Internet, which is inherently problematic from the perspective of security, availability and capacity. Think of cloud connectivity as the VIP entrance, avoiding traversing the Internet with everyone else.

Cloud Connectivity providers understand that you’ve made significant investment in your on-premise and data centre operations. They know that you’re probably not all that ready to rip everything out and move everything. This is why there have been some major initiatives regarding optimising the way businesses connect into the public cloud. These new solutions enable a far easier way to integrate on-premise resources with powerful cloud services. Ultimately, this helps businesses create faster, more reliable, and far more secure cloud network connections into their services using Cloud Connectivity.



Examples of Cloud Connectivity:


AWS Direct Connect

Amazon Web Services is easily the most popular. They support compliance-based workloads, integrate with complex storage environments, and even provide new types of workload delivery methodologies. More recently, Amazon has made it even easier to connect into its ecosystem without having to attempt to arrange a peering agreement between the customer network and the AWS public cloud network.

AWS Direct Connect enables a dedicated network connection between the customer network and an AWS Direct Connect location. It uses industry standard 802.1q VLANs, so that the dedicated connection can be partitioned into multiple virtual interfaces.. This allows you to use the same connection to access public resources, objects stored in Amazon S3 using public IP address space for example. Along with private resources, such as Amazon EC2 instances running within an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud using private IP address space. All whilst maintaining total network separation between public and private environments. Virtual interfaces can be reconfigured at any time and on the fly in order to meet your changing needs.

This kind of enterprise cloud connectivity comes with very real business benefits:

  • Bandwidth controls regarding cost and delivery
  • Higher Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for consistent cloud network performance
  • Fully integrated with all AWS services
  • Greater levels of business and data centre elasticity

If you’re integrating with an AWS environment, make sure to look at AWS Direct Connect. It allows your organisation to directly align with a specific strategy, which can be an all-encompassing extension into the AWS, or you can use a specific AWS service, such as integrating with Amazon S3 storage. The best part is that Direct Connect helps ease the adoption of your specific use case securely and privately.


Cloud Connectivity: AWS Direct Connect

Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute

Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute allows you to create private connections between Azure data centres and on-premise infrastructure inside your network, be it your data centre or a colocation. Microsoft ExpressRoute connections do not go over the public Internet. The connection architecture allows for far greater reliability, higher capacity (speed), much lower latency, and significantly more security than typical internet connections. Each Microsoft ExpressRoute circuit consists of two connections to two Microsoft Enterprise cloud network edge routers from the cloud connectivity provider and your network edge which requires optional dual BGP connections from the connectivity provider and your network side.

Using ExpressRoute connections to transfer data between on-premise systems and Azure can yield significant cost benefits. For example, you can establish connections to Azure at an ExpressRoute location, such as an exchange provider facility, or directly connect to Azure from your existing WAN network, such as a multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) VPN provided by a network service provider.

There are several benefits to using this type of cloud connectivity:

  • Data centre and services extension
  • Building an ecosystem for hybrid applications
  • Creating an architecture build on auto-scaling and provisioning
  • Integrating Active Directory services across multiple locations

With Microsoft ExpressRoute, you can establish connections to additional Microsoft services, not only Azure. These include services such as Office 365, Skype for Business and CRM Online. Connectivity can be from an any-to-any (IP VPN) network, a point-to-point Ethernet network, a VLAN via Smart Network or a virtual cross-connection through a connectivity provider at a colocation facility.


Cloud Connectivity: Microsoft Azure-ExpressRoute

Google Cloud Interconnect

Google Cloud Interconnect enables you to connect your infrastructure to Google, via enterprise-grade connections to Google’s cloud network edge. The connections are offered by Google Interconnect service providers in order to connect. Google Interconnect will enable your infrastructure to connect to Google Platform Services with higher availability and lower latency connections.

Google Interconnect allows Google Platform Services customers to connect to Google via enterprise-grade connections with higher availability and lower latency than existing Internet connections. Connections are offered by Google Interconnect service provider partners, and offer higher SLAs than standard Internet connections. Google also supports direct connections to its cloud network through direct peering. Customers who cannot meet Google at its peering locations, or do not meet peering requirements, may benefit from Google Interconnect.

The flexibility of the Google Platform with cloud connectivity enables many business benefits:

  • Great for data intensive applications
  • Lower latency access to platform services
  • Reduced cost with up to 50% reduction on Egress pricing
  • Direct peering at over 75 locations in 33 countriles

Google Interconnect links can be used to access any of the Google Platform resources: Google Compute Engine, Google Storage, Google BigQuery, etc. You can even extend your private network into your private Compute Engine network over Google Interconnect links by using a VPN tunnel between the networks.

Oracle FastConnect

FastConnect addresses one of the most important issues that affect migration to a cloud service: the unpredictable nature of the Internet. With FastConnect, you can create a high-speed, dedicated, and low-latency extension that allows you to reap the benefits of a true hybrid setup. It also offers better security than exchanging your data over the Internet.

Oracle Network Service also offers Site-to-Site VPN for Dedicated Compute customers. FastConnect is for all Oracle Cloud customers. Site-to-Site VPN securely extends your on-premises network to your dedicated Oracle Compute zone. FastConnect provides a high bandwidth connection between your data centre and Oracle services.

There are many benefits to FastConnect for cloud connectivity:

  • Get a faster and more secure connection to Oracle
  • Pay less for predictable performance
  • Get a redundant connection, so your traffic can quickly fail over in case of network failures
  • Connect your data centre to Oracle in a few simple clicks

If you are colocated in the same datacenter as Oracle, you can establish connectivity by provisioning direct single mode fibre cross-connects from your datacenter provider. It also offers better security than exchanging your data over the Internet. With FastConnect-Standard Edition, you are connecting your edge routers directly to the Oracle cloud network edge routers in the specific location and establish a BGP peering session directly with Oracle.

HP Enterprise Rapid Connect

HPE Rapid Connect enables you to bypass the public internet when it connects to HPE Helion Managed  Services. The new direct connectivity gives customers access to HPE’s portfolio of services when they need to build and consume computing workloads. It gives businesses more reliable and secure access, better performance and lower latency.

The flexibility of HPE Helion in tandem with Hyoer Converged Appliances is not to be ignored:

  • Great for extension of existing assets
  • Significantly improved latency between cloud network and on-premise
  • On-demand access to compute as an extension
  • Increasing availability at Ingress locations

HPE Helion is a portfolio of software, integrated systems, and services for computing, including distributions of OpenStack® and Cloud Foundry®. HPE Helion makes it easier for you to build, manage, and consume workloads in a hybrid IT environment that includes private and public clouds working in tandem with your on-premises systems.


And Finally . . .

There are many more Cloud Connectivity options, including BlueJeans, Box, Cisco, CSC, IBM, Salesforce, Sungard and VMware. Many of the Tier 1 network providers, whether they be Telecoms or Data Centre, can implement interconnects, known as XConnects, between their cloud network edge routers and your network edge. Additionally backhaul via VLAN through your existing Ethernet Fibre, depending upon provider, will be available.

Serviceteam IT can supply interconnects and backhaul from almost all of the providers, at wholesale rates, and link connections between different carriers and service providers together. Our Smart Network service is the most effective option for connecting.


With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Compare Office 365 Pricing: Making the Most of your investment

Office 365 pricing is competitive and the first choice for organisations that need a cloud-based suite of productivity and collaboration applications.

If you purchase new, or renew existing, Office 365 licences:

SAVE AT LEAST 5%

This includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, OneDrive for Business and the entire suite of Office 365 pricing.

Getting to know Office 365 pricing

Download Getting to know Office 365

Office 365 Pricing: Of course I’m someone who uses this suite in the office, and almost everywhere in fact. I’m not at all surprised to see so many other organisations choosing Office 365, even if you compare Office 365 pricing UK changes since 1st January 2017. Most organisations are aware that Office 365 gives you access to the core services, such as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business and OneDrive for Business. What many are not aware of are the components of Office 365 also contain fantastic automation, such as Flow, analytics tools, in the form of PowerBi, and even an application development tool, PowerApps. That’s not to mention the often forgotten things such as the self-learning audit tool, Delve, the chat platform, Yammer, and the media curation tool, Sway.

Having Microsoft Office available almost anytime, practically anywhere and on virtually any device makes it a great option for current users. They can build on their experience with Microsoft solutions with hybrid implementation, whilst also enjoying the flexibility of a cloud-based service being quickly adopted by users due to familiarity. Even organisations with no previous investment in Microsoft will find Office 365 has a lot to offer in terms of comprehensiveness, security, support and Office 365 pricing is still competitive with other services. Last year the Gartner Office 365 Survey revealed adoption of Office 365 is widespread. Key insights from the survey include:

Click the link for a free no obligation 30 day trial of Office 365 E5 for 25 users. Our Microsoft experts will be close at hand to help you make the most of the trial and unlock all the benefits. Call us on 0121 468 0101. When the trial has completed you can decide to continue and purchase the Office 365 subscription which is right for you. We can migrate your data and systems over so you’re ready to start using it straight away.

Office 365 Leads the Way

78% of surveyed organisations are currently using or planning to use Office 365. That’s a 13% increase on the previous survey in 2014. As a result, Office 365 is arguably the most popular cloud-based productivity suite.

The comprehensive suite of Office 365 applications continues to drive productivity, with Exchange Online for e-mail and calendar use the most popular, OneDrive for Business is second and Office 365 ProPlus, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. ranked third.

Is it plain sailing?

As the usage of Exchange Server on-site has hardly budged it suggests that hybrid deployments are proving popular. Due to Office 365 pricing being geared towards total adoption it’s actually more competitive to buy cloud licences than it is to add existing or upgrade new licences. However, hybrid implementation, customisation, Single Sign-On with Multi-Factor Authentication and general administration of the service are key areas where the experience can be improved. From my perspective I can only encourage organisations considering adopting Office 365 take these factors in to consideration. As a result, many organisations are taking managed on-boarding and migration support to overcome these obstacles. It’s a steep learning curve, as we’ve seen with our own customers.

 

Just because it’s ‘in the Cloud’, it does not make it easy to deliver from an operational and technical perspective. Decision makers are keen to take advantage of competitive Office 365 pricing and users of course are keen to adopt. More often than not, if the deployment has been done properly, users believe it’s easy to use, intuitive and safe. Before making a wholesale move to any new platform every organisation must carefully evaluate what’s involved for successful results. A managed solution can help you transform.

  • Compare Office 365 Pricing Plans:

With so many confusing options in the massive list of Office 365 subscription plans, rely on the expertise of a Cloud Services Provider (CSP) to match you with the right one. Office 365 Pricing is still competitive, however, in order to get the best Office 365 pricing only acquire licences appropriate for each individual user. You can find more on plans and pricing in our Compare Office 365 Plans.
Office 365 Pricing Plans Comparison

  • Prepare your Infrastructure:

While you should be focused on the broader business outcomes of an Office 365 deployment, a cloud managed services provider will be expected to focus on the detailed process of preparing your infrastructure for transformation. A cloud managed services provider will discover your infrastructure before any transition, troubleshoot during the delivery and support you fully following a successful completion.

  • Get Hybrid & Administration Right:

There is no doubt about it, hybrid implementations and administration of the services are challenging. By partnering with the right cloud managed services provider, you will receive crucial support and get hybrid & Administration with PowerShell right.

Office 365 Hybrid Deployment

  • On-board your Users:

Don’t leave your users out of the loop, engage them at the earliest possible opportunity, not when you have everything up and running. The right partner will help you evaluate a number of options to get all stakeholders on-side as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

 

User Office 365

  • Seamless Email:

Email is the core of workplace communication and, as a result, it is perceived as one of the toughest applications to move. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to make the transition as smooth as possible. Find a cloud managed services provider that can demonstrate they have successfully migrated TB of email, how tough it was and what they did to remedy the inevitable problems.

Relying on a cloud-based collaboration and productivity suite is now becoming the norm. As there is with any IT solution, there are ways to make the most of Office 365 to enhance productivity, however, there are equally as many ways to cause productivity to grind to a halt. A cloud managed services provider can help mitigate the risks, enabling you take full advantage of Office 365 today, save money with competitive Office 365 pricing and reap the results of everything Office 365 can offer tomorrow.

For more information on Office 365, download this Getting to know Office 365 eBook.  In order to offer our clients complete peace of mind, we’re a Silver Productivity Partner with Microsoft and use select partners for High Availability. Through our partnerships, you can choose from multiple service tiers to target specific requirements.

If you would like to save money on Office 365 pricing, new or renewal,  get in touch today: 0121 468 0101.


With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivitycommunicationcontinuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Build a Cloud-First Strategy with this Gartner Checklist | HowTo

Cloud First ChecklistThe business case for cloud services is evolving from the initial fascination with cost saving to a growing recognition of the dramatic role that the cloud can play in supporting the transformation of business. More agile, innovative business models. The recent cloud market forecasts make it easy to see a fundamental shift in how businesses are opening themselves up to cloud, according to this handy list compiled by IDC: Worldwide Cloud IT Infrastructure Revenue Grows 14.5% to $7.7 Billion Q2 2016.

Cloud now accounts for a significant percentage of IT spending as organisations are less resistant to adopt cloud services. Indeed, many are starting to take a cloud-first approach to managing their IT infrastructure.

So how do organisations begin to develop a cloud-first strategy? Gartner offers a pretty comprehensive checklist to help businesses identify what requirements they need to consider and how to set the framework for a successful cloud-first strategy. Some of the key evaluation factors they recommend are:

Business Outcomes and Financials

Understanding the strategic business and financial drivers for a given initiative is key to defining the appropriate sourcing model. Initiatives ought to align to an organization’s overarching strategic goals and associated enterprise architecture guidelines, as well as the organisation’s preferred commercial models, including capital expenditure (CAPEX) versus operating expenditure (OPEX).

Applications Suitability

A robust inventory of the existing application portfolio should be established to determine potential constraints and establish the right deployment model across bare-metal private, or public cloud.

Operational Impact

Moving applications, information and workloads to the cloud also warrants a relook at the operational and business processes. Given that the management model for cloud-based services introduces new tools and capabilities, it becomes essential to revisit and optimise the existing model. Operational readiness and the balance between internal and external duties must be analyzed before the transformation or tested through pilots.

Skills and Capabilities

As always, the skills and capabilities required, already available, as well as the ability to hire, build or enhance those skills within the existing organization (often required by cloud-first initiatives) or across external partners are important considerations for sourcing. Given the rapid growth in cloud-led services, there is already a huge gap in the market around qualified talent with hands-on operational expertise across areas like architecture, design and technical support.

Agility

One of the biggest organizational drivers to shift to cloud is to unlock greater agility and improve the velocity of innovation. It is essential to evaluate how the cloud service to be sourced balances freedom and control, enables flexibility and access, and can be seamlessly integrated into the existing operational model and fabric.

Security

Security risks posed by the location and type of data must be assessed by considering how access to the data and identities (i.e.: users, connected devices) will be controlled and protected.

Creating a cloud-first strategy takes considerable effort and expertise and should not be taken on lightly. While many understandably want to get into the cloud sooner rather than later, taking the time to thoroughly plan and walk through all of the proper steps will set your business up for greater success in the long term.

Want to know how a managed cloud provider can help you get your cloud-first strategy off the ground? Access your public cloud privately and securely via a dedicated Smart Network with Cloud Connect?

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivitycommunicationcontinuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Smart Network: Connect Cloud, Telephony, Sites & Internet with VLANs

A Smart Network allows you to use multiple services over a single connection, using secure VLANs to split the circuit. The benefit is the consolidation of voice, video, telephony, data and Internet services meaning you get a flatter, simpler, and easier-to-manage network.

How does it work?

Why do you need multiple connections for all your services when one will do? Smart Networks solve this problem.

A Smart Network is a business internet service that provides business-grade, end to end fibre. The line is uncontended, meaning there is no disruption from consumer peaks in the traffic. This means customers receive ultra-fast, symmetrical and fully scalable Internet connectivity that continues to serve your needs as your organisation grows, thereby future proofing your connectivity investment.

The clever bit is that you don’t need the entire capacity of your connection for Internet, you can split the circuit using secure VLANs and use it to deliver other services and applications, thus reducing infrastructure costs. The service provides uncontended and scalable bandwidth for all the critical services that your organisation needs – both now, and in the future. A Smart Network  connection delivered by Serviceteam IT allows your organisation to benefit from a customer first approach, and enjoy highly available support backed by proactively monitored Service Level Agreements.

  • Delivered via existing fibre: eliminate downtime
  • Uses spare capacity: efficient use of resources
  • Single connection: minimising complexity
  • Consolidated infrastructure: vastly reducing costs immediately
  • Each service has it’s own VLAN: totally secure and private
  • Delivered as a port per service: easy to manage
  • Totally scalable to the capacity of your fibre: future proofing your investment

A Smart Network enables your organisation to converge multiple services over one connection.

Flexible

One of the primary challenges for IT departments is in upgrading existing infrastructure. Smart Networks have flexibility & extensibility so that if your organisation grows, your network has the scalability to grow with you.

We consider a range of options to suit your organisation and budget. We offer a range of options starting from 10Mbps through to 10Gbps. If your business grows, your network has the scalability to grow with you.

Simple

A smart network provides business grade, end-to-end connectvity and nothing less. Connect with a simple plug and play installation process that reduces switching costs, and the technical and administraive burden.

 Secure

Enjoy peace of mind with secure private virtual cloud. Minigate both cost challenges and migration risks with flexibility and ensure business-critical functionons stay online around the clock with high avaliability backed by Service Level Agreements.

Fully Managed

Managed networks enable you to outsource the management of all, or certain specific parts of your networks to an expert partner. We offer bespoke management services to cover everything from set-up to operations.

Cloud Ready

We ensure that your connection is supportive of your organisation. It’s critical that underlying infrastructure can deliver high availability, security, mobility to enable your organisation is ready to take advantage of the cloud.

You can find more detail in the brochure: Serviceteam IT Smart Network. If you have any questions or need a little more information please get in touch.

Smart Network Infographic

Smart Network Infographic