Why IT could be your biggest business advantage in 2022

In 2017, when Hurricane Irma was closing in on the Florida panhandle, owners of Tesla cars were surprised to discover that the batteries that powered their vehicles suddenly had 40% more range than normal, which proved to be extremely useful for escaping the storm. The unexpected boost in power was thanks to an upgrade feature that Tesla temporarily allowed on cars in that area which was sent electronically to each vehicle. 

This boost was a welcome development for Tesla owners, some of whom, despite the overall quality and reliability of the cars, still suffered from what is called range anxiety, since the car-owning population as a whole, still hasn’t quite come to terms with cars that operate without petrol. There was also some concern expressed by those who saw the invisible hand of Tesla passing over the privately owned cars of Florida citizens as some sort of breach of individual liberty. 

The point here, though, is one of scalability. Tesla, as a product of the Agile age serves as a compelling symbol of car ownership, in a number of ways that can all be brought back to a discussion of hybrid cloud. Successful deployment of a cloud platform that is both agile and hybrid will likely be a key success factor for the growth or recovery of organisations throughout 2022.

Size is not as important as flexibility

Organisations have had to learn that in a high-speed, always-on economy, size is not as important as flexibility. The capacity to respond to opportunity or crises in an instant is what customers want and expect, and nothing more will do. Customer loyalty is fleeting and hinges largely on the most recent experience.

This sets up a challenge for organisations that may have grown up and built their infrastructure around longer timelines. In the last two years, for example, every company has had to learn a great deal about how to keep working and selling with employees based from home and a marketplace that has had to essentially shut its doors. Some companies pivoted from manufacturing their main products to creating equipment such as PPE in support of pandemic relief efforts. As they contemplate a possible end, or at least a diminishing of the pandemic’s spread, many of them face the prospects of reducing their office space, some of which may be on multi-year leases – on account of a changing workforce.

“Migration to hypercloud such as Microsoft Azure is no longer a problem, there’s a multitude of tools that help to automate the process.” – Jakub Wolinski, Cloud Services Manager, Dicker Data

Cloud technology has been written and talked about extensively, of course, but what is key to any organisation’s strategy may be the invisible as opposed to the visible. It might be easy to calculate compute and data storage needs based on day-to-day activity, but what about an unexpected surge? Peak demand based on a social media event, a cybersecurity incident or even an outage? What about recovery from a ransomware attack? What strategies are in place to not only recover from ransomware, but to do so in a timely basis (MTTR)? These might not sound like the most immediate cloud-based priorities, but so long as a company runs on its data, they are.

Being able to scale up or scale down on demand in a manner similar to the Tesla example ensures that peak demand for data and management can be addressed without wasteful spending on fixed allocation, cloud sprawl, or transfer costs, as discussed here. This kind of dynamic ability didn’t exist in earlier eras – we worked with what we had. But now it exists and is a key imperative for establishing a well-managed hybrid cloud, ideally in conjunction with a service provision company.

The SME opportunity

So how does a SME or small enterprise business make the most of the opportunities of agility? Primarily by ensuring the platform upon which it operates can support agility, and this means going to hybrid cloud. By pairing the security of on-premises with the versatility and scalability of a managed public cloud, the business is much better positioned to make changes such as setting up a new location, a new manufacturing line, or a new product. 

The physical potential that hybrid cloud delivers subsequently impacts thinking and strategy at board level. Business expansion decisions, for example, should start with the CIO who is able to dictate the pace of change based on an IT infrastructure that is now quick and easy to deploy, rather than having IT hold the organisation back due to legacy systems, attitudes, and abilities that are hard to change and which throttle the business. Having the capacity to scale up or down, open a new location, or move to another market isn’t a reactive feature. It forms part of a business strategy that should involve all layers of an organisation, including the executive. Its security and its functionality are critical business issues and not just an IT problem.

“Cost and security are always the top concerns but planning cloud migration has to be seen as a key business decision.” – Harris Schneiderman, Enterprise Sales Director – Hybrid Cloud Practice, HP Enterprise.

This mindset should be the fuel of SMEs, who have neither the size nor the age of larger organisations that can simply state, “that’s how we’ve always done it.” When one looks at Tesla, or SpaceX, another Elon Musk creation, you see companies that went up against extremely large, century-old organisations and by approaching a problem with a better idea, and by not accepting a tradition that relied on process over productivity, was able to surpass them or at least make a dent in their market share. This is the advantage that SMEs have – they are small enough to remain agile and innovative, and have access to the technologies, including hybrid cloud, that will enable the vision to become a reality.

But one further point to make about Tesla, SpaceX, and thousands of SMEs around the world, is that they didn’t do it alone. Their management knew to partner up with companies that could deliver necessary products and services as well as operate as a trusted advisor. This is a type of synergy that large companies cannot do quite as well, given their labyrinthine procurement and vendor management processes.  It forms a triangle, a rule of three for business success: agile technology (hybrid cloud), agile thinking (internal) and relationships with agile vendors who bring tools and advice to the table.

For more information about how Somerville can play a significantly beneficial role in your organisation’s agility, please contact us.

Learn more

Download our white paper “Proactivity and Planning: the key to cloud and IT modernisation” to learn more.

 

How misplaced activities and bad cloud practices are costing billions

When people search for wasteful habits in their organisation, they will often look at the moving parts. With questions like “why does this machine work like this?” and “why is this person moving this box from over here to over there?” and “why are these meetings taking so long?” it seems that waste happens when people or tools are doing things in a wrong or less effective way. And that can be true. But there’s also a great deal of waste that comes from doing nothing, especially in the cloud. 

Many organisations go into the cloud without a full awareness of what they are actually getting into. With no centralised strategy, and with excessive faith placed in their vendor’s promises, a company’s leadership can satisfy itself that it has sufficient resources in their hybrid cloud setup to allow for secure storage of data along with resiliency for scaling up and scaling down in accordance with immediate market demands.

“Cloud transformation is not just an IT project, you have to involve other business units like Finance, HR, Vendor management, Change management. I also recommend you create a governance board or Cloud Business Office (CBO) to involve all of these teams in the decision-making process.” – Harris Schneiderman, Enterprise Sales Director – Hybrid Cloud Practice, HP Enterprise.  

The devil is in the details 

But like getting a bad data plan from your phone company, the devil can be in the details, and those details can lead to excessive costs that simply appear on the bill and are paid by someone who has no knowledge that things should be otherwise.

Cloud-based IT application testing is a good example. As Mary Shacklett, President of Transworld Data writes in Information Week:

“The virtual operating systems that are deployed in the cloud for application testing are paid for by the hour, minute or second. This is beneficial for developers during testing because the spend is less than if they had to deploy virtual OSs in their own data centres, where hardware and software is capitalized and expended for over years. However, cloud testing becomes a significant cost drain when the application developer completes testing and forgets to de-allocate the test OS that is now idle, and that continues to be charged for. When this happens, the test OS becomes a wasting asset.”

In this case, it’s not so much the cloud environment that is costly and wasteful, but instead a bad habit on the part of a developer. This does not mean the developer is to blame. Most wasteful mistakes made by people in any area of any organisation have roots that are deeper than the initial activity. This developer might be overloaded with other priorities, with little time to think clearly or run a post-test checklist or might have been interrupted with another priority while actually running through the de-allocation process. So, the test OS stays active, burning steadily, yet invisibly, through a company’s money.

Cloud complexities

Secondly, the major hyperscaler-players offer optimisation tools, but these may have proprietary limitations that will not extend into hybrid cloud or multi-cloud environments, thus leaving the door open for undetected waste due to the complexity of monitoring such a multifaceted environment.

As a third example, there is cloud sprawl. As its name might suggest, cloud sprawl happens when an organisation loses visibility over its cloud instances and providers. This again is more of an institutional problem than an actual improper action. When organisations neglect to coordinate and centralise their cloud management strategy, people inevitably revert to working within their own silos, with no time or even inclination for thorough communication practices.

This is amounting to billions of dollars in wasted costs in cloud alone. You can add more to this figure if your organisation is paying for more storage or processing than it needs with no way of accurately tracking usage or costs. Processing, by the way, includes transfer costs – one of those incidental costs that are necessary but are counted separately. They are like the cloud equivalent of an airline’s carry-on luggage surcharge. And there is also the idea of overprovisioning. Quite simply paying for more than you need.

Unknowingly wasteful 

Billions of dollars are being spent on cloud-based activities that are essentially the act of doing nothing. In most cases there is nothing illegal or unethical about what is happening – it is simply the result of an organisation’s left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

This unknowingness factor applies to individuals too. For example, when a consumer downloads an app to their phone, tries it for a week, grows tired of it and then deletes it, it may feel to that individual that the entire affair is over and can be forgotten. But deleting an app from a phone does not delete the data that was supplied at sign-up. Even if no money was ever paid in terms of subscription fees (during a free trial, for example), the person’s email address, data and password still live on in the servers of the app’s company ready to be used for other marketing purposes, to be re-sold, or even stolen in a breach. The point being for individuals and organisations alike, just because the cloud is invisible and activities that happen there can be easily forgotten by humans, they are not forgotten by the machines that administer those activities, who may still be generating revenue from them.

People are busy with their jobs and their lives and cannot be expected to remember intricate details such as accounts or processes that remain active in the cloud even after their usefulness or reason for being have been forgotten. 

But this amounts to digital waste, and worse, comes with a hefty price tag. Being forewarned about such possibilities and being guided on how to mitigate and eliminate excessive and wasteful costs is the type of service that a qualified cloud services provider can and should deliver. It’s part of the advisory role that promises that we are going to look after the customer and not just the customer’s data.

“Make sure your IT provider understands your long-term business objectives.” – Jakub Wolinski, Cloud Services Manager, Dicker Data

 

For more information about how Somerville can play a significantly beneficial role in your organisation’s life, please contact us.

Learn more

Download our white paper “Proactivity and Planning: the key to cloud and IT modernisation” to learn more.

 

Danny Thien takes out Sales Excellence (Partner) Award

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At the recent ARN awards, Somerville’s Danny Thien has won the Sales Excellence (Partner) Award which recognises standout individuals who contribute to customer, company and channel success. He was up against 10 other strong contenders in this category so it’s a fantastic achievement for both Danny and Somerville!

“Danny wins this award in recognition of his work in building Somerville’s software licensing team from the ground up, with the business growing rapidly over the past five years. The additional revenue Danny has helped generate since joining Somerville has made it viable for the company to substantially expand its software sales division.”

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Q&A with Mahmoud Nour

Mahmoud-Nour-Somerville

Experienced, professional, wizard…these are just a few of the words used to describe Mahmoud Nour, Software Sales Specialist in our Melbourne office. But, of course, there is so much more to Mahmoud than his excellent work at Somerville. Read on to find out more!

 

Q: What are three words you associate with your role at Somerville.

Fun, challenging and exciting.

Q: What’s one of your secret skills?

Patience and knowing how to get the right information.

Q: What was one of your earliest jobs? And the biggest thing you took from it?

Working as a youth worker and Cross Culture speaker. The biggest thing I took from it: people like to listen if you talk honestly from your heart.

Q: Do you follow any sports? 

I like basketball and Ping Pong.

Q: What’s been one of the highlights (or funniest memories) from your time at Somerville?

Our yearly get togethers—there are always funny moments when we are together.

Q: What was your most beloved song from your younger days?

“I love you more than I can say”  – Leo Sayer.

Q: What’s something you’re most proud of in your life?

Helping needy people, especially refugees in Africa with Education and Health programs.

Q: What was your favourite food as a kid? How about now? 

Pasta and Pizza — still the same.

Q: What’s something on your bucket list that you can’t wait to do? 

Two things: I want to get more certifications, and I also can’t wait to visit and spend time with the refugees. 

Q: What was the last book you read? 

“Don’t be sad” by Aid al-Qarni – it talks about how to be positive in life.

Q: If you won $10million on the lottery, what would you do/how would you spend it?

5 Mil goes to my wife—she will likely spend it on people in need. The other 5 Mil—I will create projects in poor countries and visit to be part of them.

Q: What’s the next country you’d like to visit and why?

Turkey, because it is beautiful and has great history—I haven’t visited it yet.

Q: What’s one of your favourite hobbies? 

Reading and learning, getting to know people from different cultures, learning about their culture and language, and lately supporting refugees & needy people everywhere I can.

Q: What’s something about you that surprises people? 

People are surprised when they learn that I speak seven languages. Also, people don’t think I am African, they think I’m Asian, Lebanese, Egyptian or Latin American.

Why SD-WAN is winning the conversation about next-generation network infrastructure

SD WAN Australia

Digital transformation is tough, especially when it’s accelerated and intensified by the additional pressures of the pandemic, the shift to remote working, and the explosive growth in the adoption of multiple cloud services.

Yet despite those pressures, 69% of company boards say they will speed up their digital business initiatives, according to one recent Gartner survey.

This increased pace of digital business, however, has rapidly exposed lingering issues with legacy networks that were generally designed in hub-and-spoke fashion for a time when company data centres were the main home for applications and data.

The transition to multi-cloud environments has changed that, spreading company resources and applications across multiple locations. Organisations are aiming to rebalance the flow of data across new networks that legacy management systems simply can’t control.

Recognising their exposure to this change, businesses are scrambling for next-generation technologies that will allow them to support both legacy networks and evolving new environments that have become too unwieldy to manage using disparate conventional technologies.

Faced with these architectural challenges, enterprises are warming to the possibilities posed by new architectures such as software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs). This approach lets them implement consistent application, network, user and security controls across increasingly complex IT environments.

Adoption of SD-WANs increased significantly during 2020, as companies recognised the need for a flexible network topography that would let them maintain control over a network that extended into remote workers’ homes and the cloud, virtually overnight.

Some 43% of WAN managers surveyed in TeleGeography’s latest WAN Manager Survey said they had installed SD-WAN solutions on at least part of their network, and 25% were rolling it out. That’s a big jump from pre-pandemic figures in which just 18% had installed SD-WAN and 32% were still researching the technology.

By shifting network controls to a software-controlled model, SD-WAN brings both flexibility and integration into networking conversations that were previously limited to technical discussions about protocols, bandwidth, latency and interconnectivity.

IDC has called SD-WAN the “backbone of digital transformation”. The research firm lauds its ability to address key transformation blockers including performance and latency issues, management of multi-cloud environments, deployment of new services, resolving legacy network infrastructure bottlenecks, and avoiding interoperability issues.

“Latency considerations run high on the priority list when building out a network, especially with a shift towards hybrid cloud and multi-cloud architectures,” explains Jason Bordujenko, Global Head of Channel of Solution Architecture with Megaport.

“Organisations using traditional hub and spoke networks often run into performance challenges by forcing cloud traffic to traverse paths that may not be optimised to achieve the required performance and availability for a given cloud service workload.

“As services stretch across different clouds and disparate geographies, not only does network traffic greatly expand, but service quality increasingly depends on the quality of connections between components of the service.”

Although SD-WAN was initially positioned as a flexible way to route traffic between sites, recognition of its greater value has changed that dynamic significantly.

Respondents to the TeleGeography survey report their changing motivations for SD-WAN deployment include improving site capacity, supporting alternative access solutions, and improving performance. This has led to reduced costs and provisioning time, and improved security.

Towards a fully integrated network

SD-WAN also facilitates the deployment of consistent security architectures such as secure access secure edge (SASE). This framework tightly integrates networking and security functions such as security gateways, cloud access security brokers (CASB), zero trust network architectures, firewall as a service, data loss prevention, intrusion detection and prevention systems, domain name system (DNS) security and threat intelligence services.

While SASE coordinates this broad range of security capabilities, SD-WAN provides the controls that apply them across multi-cloud environments.

This means companies can lean on SD-WAN to boost resilience and security by, for example, enforcing multi-factor authentication (MFA) access controls across legacy and cloud-based resources, or enabling micro-segmentation of networks based on organisational units.

Yet companies don’t necessarily have to walk the SD-WAN road by themselves. Network service providers are embracing new network architectures that use SD-WAN capabilities to ensure compliance with service level agreements (SLAs) for network uptime, application optimisation, and resilience.

“We choose particular services that are best suited for customer requirements,” explains Craig Somerville, Founder and Managing Director of IT service provider Somerville – which use a range of network services and technologies to deliver resilient backbones to support customers’ digital transformations.

Using a ‘one network’ approach, Somerville integrates complex networks linking cloud providers with multiple business sites and bring it all together through a centralised, secure gateway into a streamlined network that is easier to understand and manage.

“We’re reducing the attack surface by streamlining the complexities of the traditional networks and tightening the attack window, regardless of the underlying network infrastructure complexities you use,” Somerville says.

Recognising the expertise of service providers in aggregating and managing core connectivity, TeleGeography found that 40% of enterprises are pursuing co-managed solutions. These involve service providers handling the deployment and management of the multi-cloud connectivity, while providing a customer portal through which enterprises can view network analytics, add applications, and manage network and access policies.

Ultimately, this is the value proposition that managed network specialists bring.

“By using diverse connectivity offerings,” says Somerville, “we can offer complete uptime for businesses and that additional level of resilience that customers are looking for.”

Want to learn more?

Read more in our whitepaper “A New Network for a New Normal: How to Build Resilience into your Connected Infrastructure”. Click here to read.

Learn how to build resilience into your connected infrastructure

How to build resilience into today’s enterprise by integrating security and networking services

The shift to remote working during the pandemic has increased the demand for bandwidth. But as companies accelerated their digital transformations, it became clear that maintaining business resilience will require much more than faster connections.

Many legacy networks were already feeling the squeeze before the pandemic. The adoption of cloud platforms resulted in the decentralisation of applications and data resources, testing the limits of conventional hub-and-spoke network designs that have dominated for years.

“The whole network architecture is actually changing quite rapidly,” says Andrew Milroy, a cybersecurity advisor with Singapore-based consultancy Veqtor8.

As the pandemic took hold, Milroy witnessed how the transformation imperative caused companies to rework their connectivity strategies almost overnight.

“A lot of pressure is put on traditional network architectures and networks that were predominantly private. A lot of organisations have invested a lot of money in them.”

However, those networks “are no longer fit for purpose as we do more and more in the cloud and people work remotely”, Milroy continues. “So people are bolting on little bits to try and make it work – meaning that most large organisations have hybrid IT environments at the moment. It’s a real mess.”

That complexity is creating new challenges for companies trying to manage their networks. For example, a myriad of technologies now obscures the visibility of multiple IT environments that often span a number of private clouds and public cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers.

“For most companies, there’s a limit to what you can do when you’ve got a lot of legacy infrastructure to manage,” Milroy explains. “Just keeping up with the demand on the network is a real juggling act for companies that need the performance, uptime and security to meet their nonstop requirements around compliance.”

Reinventing network security

As well as increasing the performance demands of the typical enterprise network, the shift to multi-cloud digital transformation is complicating the enforcement of security policies across enterprise networks.

“The days are gone where you have your infrastructure locally behind a firewall,” explains Osh Ranaweera, Network Manager IT Service provider Somerville. “Once you’re part of the public internet, every device and every piece of network equipment you’re using is exposed to the outside world.”

Cloud environments each have their own security profile and methods of access control. That makes ensuring a consistent user experience – and consistent security policies – across these environments simply impossible without taking a step back for a broader view of security requirements.

There is good news, however: newer, more intelligent network environments offer a range of options to support those requirements by streamlining the way remote workers and cloud workloads are secured.

“Modern network automation and orchestration approaches deployed in cloud architectures dynamically adapt to changing network conditions and workload transitions,” notes Nicholas Harders, APJ Solutions Director with Aruba.

“They provide a level of network resilience far superior to what is possible with more traditional network management and operational tools.”

That automation is increasingly helping enterprises automatically deploy secure, intelligent digital workspaces that encompass business applications, security controls, and management services.

Such services can be sourced and integrated into the cloud with relative ease, says Simon King, Director of Systems Engineering with Cisco ANZ. Cloud-based malware detection, data loss prevention, remote browser isolation and passwordless authentication can be readily applied across hybrid networks using cloud services, King says.

“The ability to offer this level of security in a speedy timeframe is possible due to the enhanced, automated connectivity possible for existing IaaS and platform-as-a-service environments,” he explains.

“Overall resilience will be enhanced by increasing overall security of the environment using cloud-based security, while using profiles and central policy to enforce consistent protection wherever the network reaches.”

This new security model is becoming more widely accepted. “IDC’s research shows an increasing number of IT and line-of-business decision makers ranking investments in digital infrastructure resiliency as priority or top priority technology investments for the next two years,” says Mary Johnston Turner, IDC Research Vice President for the Future of Digital Infrastructure Agenda.

“As organisations begin planning for sustained support for hybrid work models, deeper digital engagement with customers and suppliers, and continued economic and social disruptions around the world, digital infrastructure resiliency is rising in its strategic importance to many enterprises.”

Increasing visibility and control over enterprise networks support growing efforts to improve security with platforms that have integrated a broad range of capabilities into a coordinated network defence.

Go where the skills are

Deeper integration of security and networking services is helping managed network providers elevate their customers’ security while letting them focus on outcomes, not on the details of security. These services include software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) and broad secure access secure edge (SASE) frameworks.

“What we use the internet for is rapidly changing, and from a security point of view, the internet itself has been heavily compromised” explains Somerville Founder and Managing Director Craig Somerville. “The security, end-to-end connectivity and resilience requirements over the top of that commodity platform is where the value is – and we are layering those technologies to ensure 100% availability for remote workers.”

Yet despite the undisputed importance of better network security, many enterprises will struggle to build the base of internal security skills necessary to add value to network services – and that, says Somerville, is where customers need the most help.

“Securing a network has become complex and challenging,” he explains. “As we adopt newer security technologies, there is a lot more knowledge required to be able to effectively implement and have visibility of them. Broad skill sets are already a challenge in most organisations, and will continue to be.”

For example, improving network resilience and cybersecurity were key goals for leading pipeline infrastructure solutions provider Interflow, which recently worked with Somerville to overhaul its network architecture.

The project also saw Somerville breathing new life into Interflow’s security practices with the implementation of firewalls, managed network services, and a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. The latter was built around the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s Essential Eight Maturity Model and 37 strategies to mitigate cybersecurity incidents.

“Somerville helped us step up from our original solution into an enterprise-grade, site-to-site networking solution,” says Interflow’s IT Technical Services Manager Daniel Bogos. “That delivered a high level of cyber resiliency, and oversight and management across all of our networks. It’s robust, and we don’t even have to think about it.”

Want to learn more?

Read more in our whitepaper “A New Network for a New Normal: How to Build Resilience into your Connected Infrastructure”. Click here to read.

Learn how to build resilience into your connected infrastructure