Easier, more streamlined business. Changing your business to run more efficiently through technology.

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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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IT Support Birmingham Business Catalyst

We’re proud to announce our partnership with Marketing Birmingham and the Business Catalyst, the city’s strategic marketing partnership and the driving force behind its growing reputation as a place to visit, meet and invest. Serviceteam IT has been chosen as an IT support Birmingham Development Partner offering organisations and investors in Birmingham Cloud, Connectivity, Continuity and Communication services.

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Prepare for winter with Cloud Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

We can all agree that winter is almost here, given the weather in the UK this last week or so. Hats and gloves were out. I even had to listen to my daughter complain she was cold on the way to the Christmas Market in Birmingham. Obviously, she was not prepared for the cold, wearing a coat designed for spring! Just goes to show that planning, even with instruction, is not always adhered to.

More foresight than goes into my daughters personal winter planning should be applied to your organisations Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, BCDR.  Business Continuity is an all-encompassing concept that should address everything. Business operations, to high-level risk management, security and a whole lot more. Regardless of the forecasts for this winter, being prepared for bad weather is always better than being, well, left out in the cold.

Failure of critical systems is almost inevitable in a technology driven world. I say almost, as virtually everything can be mitigated, with a well thought out plan executed properly. External factors, such as weather, are obviously uncontrollable. The outcomes are not out of your control. It is important to approach Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery as a proactive rather than a reactive incidence. Take a minute to run your business resiliency plan through a review process. Failing that, at the very least, have a plan!

Business Continuity - Serviceteam IT

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

To ensure any Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan is appropriate, it’s critical to make regular updates to you overall plan as regulations and business needs change. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery strategies need to be updated every time there is a change in IT structure. New systems brought online, old systems deprecated, new users, key personnel leaving. There is no doubt, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery is a continuous process. Seriously, I’m someone who has a generator in my garage so I can run my lights, my boiler pump, my fridge and my router. I am not a caveman. Sitting in the dark with candles is not romantic. Experiencing ‘blitz’ conditions is not exciting.

Start with the right ‘stuff’

Obviously, your strategy should at least include a hosting or service partner that can act as a second location for your IT operations. I don’t mean someone with lots of desks, filled with those awful tiny little computers running Windows XP and a telephone with a circular dial on it. Technology has actually progressed so much I would hope a large proportion of your operational IT is flexible. For example, the office is inaccessible because we’ve had that 3cm of snow. No problem, everyone in the contact centre can work from home through a browser to a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) application. All their applications, call queues and Telephony is in the data centre.

Ah, but perhaps your data centre is unavailable because an especially large tree fell on the power systems. Work with me here. Once again, no problem. Your services, applications and your data are all synchronised securely to a third party with Virtual Machines pre-configured. All for the cost of a handful of Starbucks per day. You really can enable critical core infrastructure in minutes. Your IT partners should be able to support your range of platforms, operating systems and provide your most important capabilities. The phone rings, it gets answered. An email arrives, it gets dealt with. Someone wants to buy something, wow, they can.

Audit those applications

Oh dear, sadly the previous point requires that your existing circumstances can actually take full advantage of business resilience? Okay, why not examine your applications and requirements thoroughly? Are they able to behave flexibly? If not, what scope of work is required to re-architect them to do so? By auditing your needs, you can safeguard against a failure in the event of a disturbance. I’m of the belief that these can almost always be done at least cost effectively, if not always painlessly.

Benchmark what you have now

There is no easy way of saying this, it really is imperative that you undertake complete testing of your infrastructure, processes, people and all their dependencies. How long does it actually take to recover from a disaster? What is the nature of the disaster? For example, do you have servers and storage devices that are replicated, respond quickly, can be accessed easily and completely secure? What hurdles do you encounter in your simple day-to-day? What steps do you need to take to eliminate them? If you understand what your baseline performance is, you can better track and monitor any changes in overall operations required.

Partner with experts

This to me is the most obvious of all of the elements of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery. Primarily due to the fact that Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery is complex, time consuming, expensive and completely unforgiving should you get it wrong if you go it alone. Make sure you work with experts, or at the very least don’t work with people who are unable to grasp the importance of getting it as close to right as is humanly possible. When the pressure is on, you want smart options and insights and it is really important to work with a team that has both experience and capability in these areas.

Don’t send your business out dressed for a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery spring this winter.

If you have any questions, or would like to speak to someone regarding Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, please get in touch. Birmingham Research Park, 97 Vincent Drive, Birmingham, B15 2SQ. 0121 468 0101.

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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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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