Q&A Series – Overcoming common IT challenges for schools – Darren Elsby

Darren is an integral member of the education team at Somerville. As Hybrid IT Consultant, Darren works with schools and educational institutions throughout Australia to provide fit-for-purpose hybrid solutions. With a career in IT spanning more than two decades working in technical, senior management and sales consultancy roles, Darren’s breadth of knowledge covers every aspect of the modern IT environment, including cloud, managed services, and network infrastructure solutions.

Q: Hi Darren, tell us a bit about your background and what your role at Somerville entails.

Darren: I joined the team at Somerville about 18 months ago after moving on from my role as Partner Business Manager at HPE. Joining Somerville was almost like coming back home in a way, because I’d worked with the team in the past when I was working for a different integrator prior to HPE.

What compelled me to join Somerville wasn’t just the people, the technology or the infrastructure, but also the fact that I can confidently put my hand on my heart and offer schools a true end-to-end solution. We have a model of shared responsibility and collaborate with every customer to address what they want to achieve, rather than just selling prepackaged solutions. That ultimately allows us to deliver the business outcomes that our education partners are seeking.

Q: What is front of mind for decision-makers in the education sector at the moment?

Darren: The core business of any school is to educate. But with compromised security and data breaches being a very real threat these days and students relying heavily on technology, schools are recognising the need for better, more secure IT solutions. IT requirements – both from a legal and operational standpoint – are becoming harder to manage internally, so there’s a move to adopting IT partners.

A few years ago, we were mainly dealing with IT managers, but in more recent times there’s been a pronounced difference in how schools are using IT – particularly hybrid IT – and it’s now being treated as critical to school outcomes. There also tends to be more stakeholders involved these days – in part because of the high level of complexity of a typical school IT environment.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges affecting schools when it comes to IT?

Darren: Security requirements for schools and businesses alike are increasing, and so educational institutions are going through a phase of “battening down the hatches” so to speak. For many, a primary concern is ensuring all their obligations are met when it comes to data protection and recovery in particular, because a breach would be detrimental to their reputation.

Most Schools typically don’t have the same level of corporate governance that you might see at a company, but nonetheless, they are very large enterprises and often underestimated in the market. Some have upwards of 2000 people on the ground, all with multiple devices that require connectivity. Then there’s the pressure of being available 24/7: parents want to be able to log in and see how their child is progressing, and the demand for apps mean schools need to be “always on”.

On top of that, most schools are generally required to have an audit of their IT systems every year, corporate responsibilities, so they also have compliance to think about.

Q: How does working with Somerville help address those pain points and drive better outcomes for schools?

Darren: At Somerville, we ease the burden on schools by establishing an ongoing partnership where we manage critical IT tasks so internal teams don’t have to, and we provide invaluable support. We don’t just push products; we encourage a dialogue to gauge what position a school is in, and cater an approach that works for that particular school. We typically recommend a hybrid model using the private cloud because of its reliable data recovery and business continuity aspects – but it depends on the situation.

The best outcome for any client – be it a school or some other organisation – is to have a strong partnership, so you can lean on someone you trust and have faith in their ability to resolve issues quickly.

Contact Darren today to learn more about how Somerville can help your school streamline IT operations, so you can focus on enhancing teaching and learning for better learning outcomes.

Delivering customer outcomes through partnerships: The new breed of Hybrid IT providers!

Confidence in cloud technology is continuing to grow due to the exceptional value and opportunities it provides. At the same time, customers are becoming increasingly concerned about the security of cloud services. As industry leaders, we need to encourage customers to adopt the many and varied technology options available while addressing their security concerns. This can be achieved through partnerships that focus on delivering great customer outcomes.Continue reading

Hybrid IT – no compromise

Too often the word hybrid is associated with compromise such as the hybrid petrol-electric car, but the essence of Hybrid IT is that there is no compromise. Hybrid IT cost effectively blends on premise IT infrastructure with Private-Cloud, SaaS, and Public Cloud into a seamless holistic user experience. 

The widespread adoption of Cloud computing over the last 5 years has fundamentally changed the way organisations use IT and with this change is an equally fundamental shift in the optimal design of organisational IT infrastructure.

With the average enterprise employee running applications in 1.8 public clouds and 2.3 private clouds, there is a significant operational reliance on corporate connectivity.  This operational dependence needs to be supported by highly resilient internal and external infrastructure.  This infrastructure also needs to support all the business applications that are hosted on premise, which is why a well-designed Hybrid IT solution is so important.

Most organisations recognise that the benefits of Cloud computing are not just that it is more efficient and easier to manage, it also fundamentally changes an organisations IT capability and options.  Like the internet itself, Cloud is specifically designed to maximise redundancy, at the same time it is also designed to maximise performance and efficiency.  This is a three-way combination that needed to be weighed off against each other in traditional IT. Cloud also enables the organisation to choose the best application for its requirements, rather than the best application that can run on the organisations IT environment. In a rapidly changing world this freedom to choose could be the difference between thriving and surviving.

Hybrid IT is specifically designed to take advantage of the benefits of Cloud, as well as ensuring the on-premise infrastructure and ‘last-mile’ of connectivity is appropriately designed and configured.  One of the remarkable things about Hybrid IT is that there are so many options. When designing a Hybrid IT solution that incorporates Cloud computing into your existing infrastructure there are a range of options to consider such as: Network Access, Unified Threat Management, Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, Business Continuity Protection, and Managed Services.

It is precisely because Hybrid IT has so many options that organisations can get the right solution for their organisations needs and budget. Hybrid IT also provides organisations with highly flexible application migration alternatives, giving them the ability to decide for themselves when is the best time to transition different applications between on premise, private cloud, SaaS and public cloud.

Subsequently a Hybrid IT solution is often designed with several iterations in mind.  This allows for an organisation to combine the right combination of on premise, private cloud, SAAS and public cloud to suit its current needs without compromising its future options.

Hybrid IT is the best option an organisation has to future proof itself in a rapidly changing world in which every aspect of the IT environment including devices, applications, data storage, connectivity and business continuity requirements continue to evolve in unprecedented ways.

The internal challenge for organisational IT teams is to keep up to date with this ever-changing range of IT options while also keeping abreast of the organisations changing business requirements.  Too often trying to master both things results in neither being done well. Which is why an increasing number of organisations are choosing to partner with a Hybrid IT provider that can collaborate with them to design the best solution for their needs.

Somerville has been partnering a wide range of clients to provide them with Hybrid IT solutions for many years.  We pride ourselves on delivering the right solutions and hardware and software to meet your organisations needs and budget. Please contact us via the enquiry form so we can discuss your organisations needs and create a solution that fits your organisations requirements, now and in the future.


About the Author

Craig Somerville is the founder and CEO of Somerville IT with over 30 years’ experience in the IT industry, Craig has spearheaded the growth of one of Australia’s leading providers of IT solutions to schools and corporates.

Preparing to Succeed In an Uncertain Future

When it comes to business, planning is everything. No matter how great your idea, how skilled your people, and how ripe your market, rushing in without consideration is unwise. Digital technology is throwing a spanner in the wheel of traditional business practice, though. The speed of change and magnitude of market disruption have left many organisations on the back foot, frantically adjusting plans that are outdated as soon as they’re written. So how do you prepare for something you can’t see coming?

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Cloud: The Future Is Clear

Cloud – the future is clear

Cloud computing has already irreversibly changed IT, but its real impact is still to come. Those that are still thinking that it is just another IT fad had better think again or be left behind.  The underlying benefits and economics of cloud computing are driving its adoption and these are only accelerating as it continues to improve and evolve.

While only five years ago vendors were still trying to explain the concept of Cloud to corporates, today nearly every enterprise has cloud, with hybrid cloud the preferred strategy for 85% of enterprises (download the RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report). What might surprise the enterprise employees is that on average they are running applications in 1.8 public clouds and 2.3 private clouds.

Not only is usage increasing but the challenges are also dissipating with concerns about security, and lack of resources/expertise falling significantly leaving managing costs as the primary concern, although that has fallen as well, just not as fast.  One of the ways to manage costs is to get the right balance between private and public cloud, which is why hybrid cloud continues to grow.

Given the significant cost advantages Cloud computing has over traditional IT, the increasing efficiency gains being generated from Hybrid Cloud are widening the cost/productivity gap between organisations that have moved to cloud and those that have not.  In some industries, this can be the difference between the organisation being competitive or obsolete.

Some IT commentators have likened the importance of Cloud to corporate computing to being on par with the introduction of the smart phone to mobile telephony.  Similarly thinking of Cloud computing as being a server at a different location is like thinking of a smart phone as a mobile phone with a touch screen – it is simultaneous true while completely missing the significance of the change.

The benefits of Cloud computing are not just that it is more efficient and easier to manage, it also fundamentally changes an organisations IT capability and options.  Like the internet itself, Cloud is specifically designed to maximise redundancy, at the same time it is also designed to maximise performance and efficiency.  This is a three-way combination that needed to be weighed off against each other in traditional IT.

Cloud also enables the organisation to choose the best application for its requirements, rather than the best application that can run on the organisations IT environment. In a rapidly changing world this freedom to choose could be the difference between thriving and surviving.

Not surprisingly Cloud computing has evolved, so have the options.  When incorporating cloud computing into your existing infrastructure you can choose or combine a range of options such as: Network Access, Unified Threat Management, Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, Business Continuity Protection, Managed Services.

Somerville has been helping a wide range of clients with their Cloud strategies, from taking their first steps all the way through to fully customised hybrid Cloud implementations.  We pride ourselves on delivering the right solution to meet your organisations needs and budget. Please contact us via the enquiry form so we can discuss your organisations needs and create a solution that fits your organisations requirements, now and in the future.


About the Author

Craig Somerville is the founder and CEO of Somerville IT with over 35 years’ experience in the IT industry, Craig has spearheaded the growth of one of Australia’s leading providers of IT solutions to schools and corporates.