4 biggest challenges for IT Managers today

happy birthday virtualDCS - cloud computing expertsvirtualDCS has recently celebrated its ten year anniversary, and for us it’s been both a time of reflection and a time for looking ahead to what the next ten years might bring.

We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved so far. What started out as a few conversations in a coffee shop is now a thriving business with 16 staff, including five recruited in the past 12 months as part of our major growth plans. Our team is like a family and we have very little churn, which for our clients means continuity and the guarantee of a familiar friendly face.

We’ve had 50% growth year-on-year for the past five years, with one of our customers being a very large retailer with £2bn turnover across 500+ stores. Having enabled their back end systems, that £2bn now goes through our infrastructure.

Another big highlight for us has been working with interesting organisations, like the Royal College of Physicians, getting involved in their businesses and understanding how they work.

Innovation remains at the core of what we do, so we’re always thinking about how we can solve our clients’ future problems.

From being the first UK provider to offer Veeam Cloud Connect (now one of the largest in Europe) and the first VMware Service Provider Enterprise partner, virtualDCS has continued to innovate and push boundaries.

Plans for this year include being the first provider to release a fully customer driven 365 solution – so watch this space!

In this blog post we’re going to explore some of the key challenges that we see IT Managers facing now and in the future – and look at how they could potentially be solved or mitigated.

(1) Data governance, security and privacy

big data security - cloud security

According to Forbes, 2019 will be a critical year for data governance, security and privacy. This has always been a key concern for IT Managers, particularly around cloud based solutions – and it’s one we take very seriously in everything we do. But with Brexit on the horizon, data security concerns have come into sharp focus.

Ransomware is another concern we are hearing more and more about. Businesses have always protected against viruses, but with increasing numbers of office smartphones and BYOD “bring your own device” policies, corporate IT becomes more difficult to protect.

Many businesses are now using our Veeam cloud backup service to give them that air gap, which means if Ransomware is on their network, it can’t reach ours and corrupt their data.

For more information and advice on this, you might find these posts useful:

We’ll also be exploring cloud solutions risks Vs benefits in detail in another blog post soon, so do look out for that. 

(2) Cloud network issues

SaaSAlso in the top five Forbes 2019 ‘industry’s biggest challenges’ list are cloud network issues. Digital transformation has seen many organisations moving their workloads into the cloud. But building the right cloud network to support your data processing requirements is also vital.

It’s important to find a strategic partner who can work across your whole business and advise you an appropriate IT infrastructure model, rather than one who simply seeks to sell you a flashy “off the shelf” solution you don’t need.

A key differentiator of virtualDCS, compared with other cloud hosting providers, is that we are not exclusively wedded to the cloud. We have a mix of customers with both on premise and cloud based setups. This provides an interesting challenge for a techy like our Operations Director John, and gives our team variety which keeps everyone interested in different types of projects. But crucially it also gives us an insight into how we can really make a difference and fully understand a client’s architecture.

For example, when J R Rix & Sons asked us to migrate its 30+ physical servers onto the cloud to deliver lower operating costs, we knew exactly what needed to be done. We migrated the servers to a VMWare vSphere platform consisting of three high-spec hosts using HP Proliant servers and an expandable HP fibre channel storage solution, initially with three disk shelves.

 

Rix IT Manager Paul Codd said:

“This allows us to vMotion across the hosts when demand for CPU/RAM is needed without any impact on our users, specifically the successful outcome we were seeking. … Additional benefits included a power reduction to the server room, which helped to reduce our carbon footprint and lower our operating costs.” 

“One of the most satisfying aspects of this project was that we achieved all we had set out to accomplish with virtually no down time.”

Our approach is to work in partnership with our clients to ensure that their infrastructure is also ready to exceed the service currently demanded by their business.

(3) Quantity of data versus GDPR

cloud computing and big data storage

When we talk to CIOs and CTOs, a lot of their current issues are around the

quantity of data they have to manage. Storing data is cheap, so the tendency has been to hoard it. You can buy a 1TB USB flash drive for just for a few pounds. Consequently, companies have tons of data in lots of different places.

But with GDRP you can no longer hoard data without reason. And with cyber security issues frequently resulting in data being extracted from these companies, the financial penalties are huge. Potentially it could bankrupt a company that doesn’t manage its data carefully.

Basically it’s all a big headache that needs cleaning, organising and securely storing. You can do this yourself, but most companies now choose a specialist partner who can do all this more cost effectively and more securely than they can.

(4) Managing backups for multiple operating systems

Businesses are increasingly running multiple operating systems and environments, with more Apple Macs being used as part of the mix. Apple Mac virtual machine users have had to use Apple’s own cloud backups or a separate system for disaster recovery. Of course this equates to additional cost, time and management, with all the complexities that integration between various systems can bring.

We knew there had to be a better way. So we developed integrated apple failover protection for Veeam, becoming the first company globally to offer Veeam Virtual Apple Mac Replication. Our system removes all the costs and hassle of separate disaster recovery backup systems. It provides complete control over all data, effective protection and flexible backup using Veeam Cloud Connect.

For us, the next ten years will see us become more internationally focused. Brexit will probably generate challenges for some of our clients, but the global nature of cloud computing makes it easy to accommodate and diversify.

We will continue to research the best solutions for our clients. For example we’re already heavily involved with Microsoft Azure, but we expect to see huge growth in that are in the next five to ten years.

As a company we will continue to innovate the technologies and we’ve tried to stay quite specialist with that, hopefully that will continue.

If you would like an informal no obligation discussion about finding solutions to your current IT challenges, call us today on 03453 888 327 or email enquiries@virtualDCS.co.uk

Simple 5-Step Disaster Recovery Planning Process for SMEs

The start of a new year is a great time to review your IT infrastructure and plan ahead for future business challenges.

Business Continuity

Effective Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning are vital to protect against major outages and other disasters.

How robust are your Disaster Recovery plan and systems?

In a previous blog post, we discussed some of the concerns around protecting your data, post-Brexit. If you’re reviewing your systems in line with a post-Brexit world, it makes sense to look more widely at where and how you back up your data, and the process you have in place for Disaster Recovery.

One of the big challenges for small and medium-sized businesses is achieving similar levels of resilience and continuity as larger organisations, with fewer resources. Limitations on budget, time, staff and the technology available can all make parity difficult to achieve.

This is where cloud technology comes into its own. With the right partnerships in place, enterprising SMEs can utilise a multi-cloud strategy to ensure Business Continuity while making intelligent use of their resources. 

Cloud hosting ensures you have access to your data from anywhere, and backing your data up through a trusted third party platform like Veeam will give both your team and your customers additional confidence in your business resilience.

On-site server continuity

Key steps for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning

1) Define your needs

Make sure you are clear from the outset on your specific recovery needs. Which applications, systems and data are business critical? Next, identify the recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs).

For an RTO, specify when the clock starts ticking and consider what tolerance could be accepted for an outage. For an RPO, how current is the data before the disaster?

Once you have these, organise each recovery set into logical groupings around similar recovery objectives. You now have an overview of all your business critical technology and datasets organised into workload recovery tiers. This can then be used as a framework to begin discussions with potential cloud service providers.

2) Assign responsibilities

The internal roles and responsibilities for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity should be clearly defined and understood. Who would be available to recover the data and initiate a Disaster Recovery plan?

Each person that will be involved should know what they need to do, who they need to communicate with, and the full chain of command. Chaos often accompanies a disaster, so the ability to calmly and confidently react to rapidly changing circumstances is vital. The time it takes to reach and notify the relevant people should be built in to the overall execution process.

3) Find the right partner

The majority of businesses don’t have the in-house expertise to create a comprehensive and robust Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan. This is why it is important to engage a provider who can also act as your strategic partner. The right provider can help you craft a bespoke plan of how your business would utilise various cloud services to cover your needs.

Not all cloud based hosting and Disaster Recovery systems offer the same level of security. And choosing one of the larger well-known cloud service providers isn’t necessarily the best option. Smaller service providers often deliver a much more personalised service. Look for a UK-based partner that specialises in Disaster Recovery and back up.

Read more on this in our blog post ‘Finding the right Disaster Recovery provider’.

Disaster recovery4) Choose the right level of support

By this stage you should have a clearer understanding of how much help you need and how much you can manage internally. Balancing the limitations of your time and staffing against the limitations of your budget, set out a clear plan with your service provider about what (and how much) input you need from them. Budgeting more than you expect to spend is a prudent approach to guarantee resilience for your business.

5) Select a suitable technology platform

If your business is harnessing a cloud approach, Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) should be a key component of your IT infrastructure plan.

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is defined as “a cloud computing and backup service model that uses cloud resources to protect applications and data from disruption caused by disaster. It gives an organisation a total system backup that allows for Business Continuity in the event of system failure.

DRaaS is often offered in conjunction with a Disaster Recovery plan (DRP) or Business Continuity plan (BCP). DRaaS is also known as Business Continuity as a service (BCaaS).”

Our experience in the industry has led us to believe that Veeam offers the best and most cost effective cloud solution for most SMEs, which is why we recommend the Veeam DRaaS solution to our customers.

Veeam’s affordable and efficient image-based replication delivers image-based Disaster Recovery for ALL applications and operating systems.

The benefits of working with virtualDCS for your DRaaS include highly secure protection with our ISO 27001 accreditation and a guarantee of UK-based data centre locations only. We can deliver rapid and immediate recovery with increased flexibility over your data protection, depending on your needs.

Veeam cloud connect replication free trialFREE 14-DAY TRIAL

We also offer a free 14-day trial of our DRaaS solution.

To access your free trial or for more information, call the team on 03453 888 327 or complete the contact form here.

 

 

Andrew Low joins virtualDCS in the Cloud

The cloud experts have started the New Year with a bang, welcoming Andrew to the ever-expanding team, in his new position as Business Development Manager.

Andrew has joined virtualDCS as a result of massive company growth throughout 2018, with the team’s innovative Veeam Cloud Connect solutions at the forefront of this development, after the company became the first Veeam service provider globally to offer Virtual Apple Mac Replication.

Andrew Low

Left to Right, Peter Bowers and Andrew Low.

“I am thrilled to be joining the virtualDCS team, and I’m looking forward to working with one of the oldest dedicated cloud computing companies in the marketplace.

I’ve seen first-hand how the team offers quality cloud solutions, with excellent customer service and I’m looking forward to helping more organisations experience the benefits of both the cloud and working with virtualDCS”, commented Andrew.

With over 25 years of experience within the IT sector, Andrew has worked in business development roles in a variety of service-based organisations, previously working with the virtualDCS directors at ICM Computer Group plc.

Having just exited his most recent role at the helm of a tech start-up, in which he was one of the early shareholders, it was a ‘no brainer’ to welcome Andrew into the virtualDCS family.

Peter Bowers, Sales Director for virtualDCS said: “We’re really excited to welcome Andrew to the team as a result of another fantastic year.

Not only will he be assisting with the business’s growth strategy, but he will also be ensuring that our company values and customer service remain high for all of our customers as we continue to expand our reach and services in 2019 and beyond.”

About virtualDCS
virtualDCS provides innovative, quality Cloud Computing and Disaster Recovery solutions to businesses worldwide. The team works in partnership with clients, listening to their business concerns and providing cloud solutions that exceed expectations.

For more information on Andrew, virtualDCS and its services visit www.virtualDCS.co.uk, email sales@virtualDCS.co.uk or call 03453 888 327.

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