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!

Therefore, 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

cloud computing and disaster recovery hero

The cloud can help your business grow in 2018

Since its conception, the cloud has helped businesses of all shapes and sizes access a range of solutions and resources that were previously unavailable to them.

These benefits can directly impact an organisations growth in a number of ways.

Reduced costs and growth management

Overall, the cloud is much more cost-effective than traditional infrastructure solutions, especially for SMEs, as companies only have to pay for the resources they use. The cloud also eliminates the need for businesses to make extensive plans and predictions around their growth in order to ensure that their infrastructure can cope with it.

Prior to the cloud, a business would have needed to purchase the equipment outright in an effort to forecast this growth or continually add new resources to cope with it. Furthermore, in some cases, for an effective disaster recovery solution, they’d also have to create a duplicate infrastructure or rely on tape backups, which brings additional issues itself.

The cloud eradicates all these issues while freeing up cash flow, this means the company can manage their budget more effectively while investing these savings in other areas and avoiding concerns over unexpected growth.

Reduce staff costs

Maintaining a traditional infrastructure also comes with an additional expense, with organisations having to employ a third party or additional staff to maintain the equipment. With a cloud solution, this isn’t an issue as the infrastructure provider monitors and maintains the solution outright. Once again, this means a business can focus its attention and finances on other areas.

Few organisations can match the security and infrastructure investment of a cloud provider.

Productivity

As long as you have an internet connection, the cloud enables you to access your data through on the move. This is perfect for employees that have to work at home or on the move as they can make the most of their time as they travel.

Not only this, but it can also help employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance which can help to improve moral overall.

Quick wins for developers

Similarly to above, if you’re a software developer you can also access new customers across the globe and offer free trials before they purchase. This can dramatically reduce your sales cycle and encourage growth.

To find out more about the solutions we offer and how we can help your business grow, contact the team on 03453 888 327 or email enquiries@virtualDCS.co.uk

An introduction to Big Data – the basics, the benefits and the security.

‘Big Data’ is a concept so prominent that it has implications for everyone, from your Grandma to your CEO.

With the data centres of today occupying an area of land equal in size to almost 6,000 football fields, the world of technology is thriving. Advancements in cloud technology along with the easy access to the Internet has made the accessing, analyzing and storing of data simpler than catching a bus. So it only makes sense for all of us to have a working understanding of the concept.

A basic definition:

Big data s

‘Big Data’ is everything everyone in the world does that leaves a digital trace (or data trace) that can be used and analysed. Collecting data isn’t a modern advancement, we as humans have been collecting and sorting data as far back as 18,000 BCE. However, since then a few changes to the way collect it have been made. The speed and ease that we now gather the data at makes all the difference in the quantity we collect…and it’s this data that is shaping our world.

With the majority of the world now owning a mobile phone, laptop or tablet, we’re living more in the digital realm every day; from listening to music, taking pictures, talking on the phone and countless other activities. Using these technologies leaves a trail of data which is open to being analysed and accessed at the touch of a button.

One other significant change is the kind of data we analyse. It used to fit neatly into tables and spreadsheets, things like sales figures and wholesale prices. Now data analysts can look at ‘’unstructured’’ data such as photos, tweets, emails and voice recordings. So not only has the speed of accessing data improved the format is now wider as well. This you may find both interesting… and maybe a little scary.

 

The benefits of ‘Big Data’

The link between ‘Big Data’ and businesses show very real and truly remarkable benefits, helping companies to better understand and target customers. Using data, retailers can predict what products will sell, telecom companies can predict if and when a customer might switch carriers, and car insurance companies understand how well their customers actually drive.

Big data is also optimising business processes. Retailers are able to improve their stock levels based on what’s trending on social media, what people are searching for on the web or even weather forecasts. Supply chains can also be optimized so that delivery drivers use less gas and reach customers faster.

 

Security

With the benefits this brings it demands high levels of security to protect it. As naturally, with the big benefits it provides, losing this data can result in big losses and it’s our job to protect it.

So what’s the solution? Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) with Veeam Cloud Connect keeps your data protected, recoverable and accessible no matter what. When paired together with virtualDCS, there is no defence so efficient.

 

To speak to someone about protecting your data or for a free Veeam Cloud connect trial, get in touch on 03453 888 327 or fill in the form below.

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