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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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Microsoft Azure achieves ISO Certification for Cloud Security

Microsoft Azure has taken a major step ahead of its rival cloud platforms with its continued commitment to security in the form of ISO 27017 cloud security certification.

Achieving compliance with the ISO27017 cloud security certificate dictated that Microsoft had to adhere to 44 different cloud risk and threat model controls. With these additional security credentials, Azure appeals to those enterprises and businesses with stringent data requirements. Alice Rison, Senior Director for Microsoft Azure adds that this is of particular interest to those in financial services, healthcare, life sciences, media and entertainment, and worldwide public sector. If your organisation is looking to establish credibility in security, then there’s no better way than to achieve compliance with ISO standards.

Furthermore, Microsoft has also taken this opportunity to update its privacy policy for enterprise products including Office 365, Azure, and Dynamics CRM. Most notably, Microsoft has agreed to not use any customer data it collects, to derive information from it for commercial purposes such as advertising. You can check if the changes affect you here.

Serviceteam IT consults with a number of organisations in a variety of sectors, many of whom have justifiable concerns about cloud security, especially for handling important data. It’s for this reason that we recommend and offer Azure as a secure and dynamic could services solution. To find out why we’ve recommended associated Microsoft cloud productivity products in the past; such as SharePoint or Office365, click here.

If data security to important to you, and you’d like to know how you can benefit feel free to drop us a line on 0121 468 0101.

 

 

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Get inventive when you select suppliers and partners!

At the risk of this becoming another rant, I’ll keep it brief. Many organisations and leaders of organisations bang on and on about how great they are. Some are even right to do so. But from my experience what an organisation says about themselves tends to only contain the good news, especially where organisations, due to their size and complexity, have to make functions, such as customer service, a ‘process’.

And that’s where it falls down. Massively. The process or the concept of having a procedure. We have many processes and procedures, especially regarding access, data security and engagement with client and customer information. What we also have is a clue and are able to think and act outside of those processes in a secure and dependable manner.

That takes inventiveness, dare I say innovation. And that’s difficult to build into a workflow, without the process itself ensuring the outcome to failure, because the procedures were broken. Bear with me here as I have an example for you.

We recently had a customer, who had followed all the required processes and procedures in order to fulfil a requirement. The exercise was lengthy and carried out to the extent even the greatest pedant would be proud of. They selected a supplier. Everyone was happy. Ah, but wait. Then the problems started to appear. Which eventually caused major delays.

Obviously we came to the rescue with inventiveness and innovation coupled with experience and a ‘can do’ attitude. I had to say that, otherwise what would be the point! However, what we should all be mindful of is what we’re not being told by our suppliers and partners; we should question that we’re being corralled in a process and not exploring all eventualities.

If what you are really after is a way to assess your needs and how to achieve your goals, one suggestion is to ask your prospective supplier to bring along an existing customer of theirs to your next meeting. You never know, you might learn something from a peer.

Otherwise, if all you’re after is a tick list you could try this, in order to understand your needs, the below are some of the things we’ll want to share::

Objectives to Achieve

  • Strategic goals
  • Organisational objectives
  • Departmental expectations
  • Technology skills
  • User needs and wants
  • User skills
  • Customer expectations
  • Personal and professional needs

Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Previous experiences
  • Fitness of incumbent
  • Utilisation of existing products and services

Peer and Consultancy Experiences

  • Peer, colleague or supplier experiences
  • Would you share your experiences
  • Consultancy required, technical or business

Selection Criteria

  • Make a list of what you want
  • Can the partners or vendors provide what you need
  • Are they the best at everything or are they just the cheapest
  • Who are you current suppliers for products and services
  • What do you like about the incumbent
  • What are the costs associated with the incumbent

Services and Partner Selection

  • Do you feel you could build a relationship
  • Will they be able to support you
  • Are they really with you for the journey
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Microsoft Office 365 or . . . . Google Apps?

Funnily enough I’m asked this question more and more frequently, “Which is better, Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365?”. Other cloud collaboration & communication services are available, however, this is my opinion and not an all encompassing review of the services.

My immediate answer is always, “Office 365”. Bear with me here and I’ll try to justify my response with some facts. Admittedly Google Apps, and then Google Apps for Business, was the first cloud based collaborative service, I’ll even concede it’s actually quite good. I still use my own Google Apps account for our family email for instance.

The original single concern for me regarding Google Apps for any business is the security of the information. In the early days, around 2008 to 2010, there were a multitude of security access issues such as all your Google Docs being open to any other Google Docs subscriber. Most unfortunate, and primarily no longer a real issue. But still not at all acceptable for a business where confidentiality and data security are not only imperative business expectations but in almost all cases, a legal requirement!

Sadly this does not really improve for Google Apps in 2015, moving in to 2016, as the fundamental difference between the respective Privacy Agreements is absolutely vast. In really simple terms Microsoft says that they will not scan your data or provide information to a third party. On the other hand Google’s policy regarding privacy is abundantly clear and state they can use information they collect from you for the purposes of advertising. Fundamentally, that is the Google business model as they have always been very open in how they earn their money. By reading your email and targeting advertising at you. Microsoft on the other hand are unequivocal regarding data security, privacy compliance and transparency. You can read more at the Office 365 Trust Centre.

The privacy and data security benefits of Microsoft Office 365 are further enhanced with the recent announcement that Microsoft will be building data centres here in the UK following the collapse of the Safe Harbour Agreement, deemed unsuitable by the European Union. Coupled to a real, financially backed, Service Level Agreement of 99.9% I wonder why any business would even consider anything else.

See, not a single product feature or price. Rest assured it’s competitive and in my humble opinion ever so much more feature rich and easier to use. Get in touch and we can evangelise further.

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It’s not about capacity, it’s what you do with it.

This week, BT had an outage. Hundreds of thousands of customers were left without internet or phone services. In the aftermath, it was discovered that the cause was a broken router, and this single point of failure was responsible for widespread disruption, and the loss of incalculable productive hours and revenue. Additionally, BT’s customer contact centre was unreachable thus leaving customers without any information about the fault, and without indication of how long it would take to get fixed. Even if your internet or telephone provider is a large enterprise organisation, it seems no-one is immune to internet outages, be it the result of malice or technical problems. These things are unavoidable, right? Wrong.

Unfortunately, many organisations opt for unsuitable connections, which are nothing more than re-branded residential-level services. Businesses are often presented with misleading information about what is important, and as a result there are competing priorities present within information technology purchasing. Let’s quickly run through them:

Bandwidth – The first thing that marketing usually focusses on is bandwidth or ‘speed’. This refers to the capacity by which your connection can send and receive information. There are an increasing number of internet or cloud based services that are business critical including, banking, email, invoicing, phones, CRM, or even the transfer of large files. All of which are likely to require a certain amount of bandwidth. If your internet is slow, then you’re at a disadvantage, and the decrease in productivity is painfully visible.

Security – Several high profile incidents involving data loss have caught the attention of the media recently. However there are hundreds of lower-profile incidents that have not made headline news. There are many ways for hackers to disrupt your business, from confidence tricks to hacking your phones and making expensive calls to premium numbers in the Solomon Islands. Many organisations have multiple different vendors managing different parts of the network, increasing vulnerability, and putting their organisation and customers at risk.

Resiliency – This is an important factor to consider and what was perhaps overlooked by many businesses during the BT outage. Networks have grown in complexity and network outages can be commonplace, sometimes lasting several hours. Investing in additional carrier networks that provide uninterrupted service when one network goes down can prevent damaging lapses in service which can end up costing the business in lost productivity, lost opportunities, and damaged brand perception. Even if someone puts a shovel through your main lines of communication, it’s important to know you can still keep in touch with your customers and other sites. And don’t say it doesn’t happen, because it does, with alarmingly regularity.

Ultimately it comes down to a responsibility towards your customers. If customer perception, brand reputation or loyalty is at all important to you, consider beefing up your network resilience, and avoid a recurrence of this weeks incident. Fortunately, Serviceteam IT wants to make this a thing of the past, and will draw upon years of experience to find a network infrastructure that works for you, with one point of contact if anything goes wrong. Find out how you can benefit, and email customerservice@serviceteamit.co.uk or call 0121 468 0101 with your query.