strategic IT insights from the week

Strategic IT Insights Week Ending 07/31/2020

August 4, 2020

Industry Wrap  № 7.

And that’s a wrap! Next Dimension curates the most practical and useful tools and strategic IT insights from the web.

This week we shared articles across our social media covering the following topics: Simplify Your Infrastructure, IT ROI and,  IT Strategy to enable Business Strategy

Looking for details? Continue reading to see more.

Simplify Your Infrastructure

82% of businesses said they needed greater IT support during the pandemic, a move to a simplified IT model can help with this problem.

Workers need to know that their organizations can respond quickly and with agility to any event.  This was reflected in the top challenges cited by workers thrust into remote work situations: 82% mentioned the need for greater IT support; 77% worried about maintaining customer service levels and satisfaction; and another 76% feared a disruption of workflow and processes.

The huge shift in the number of employees working from home created changes like the loss of a joint kitchen and those watercooler-style exchanges.  It did end up empowering employees to adapt to the change; 67% have implemented social video conferencing “meetups” to compensate for lack of face-to-face social interaction, and 54% have implemented social chat channels.

Collaboration technology is critical as we move into the next iteration of work.  Together with modernized IT architectures, Cisco Webex has proven it’s worth many times over and stands ready to meet new challenges and changing work habits.

SOURCE: CISCO

IT ROI

The shift to remote work put a strain on IT, with 72% of businesses feeling unprepared.  Have you prioritized remote technology resources to sustain operations?

Returning to a pre-pandemic office scenario is a long way away, tech industry forerunners such as Microsoft have already pushed a full return to the office until the last quarter of the year, with similar policies rolled out at Google, Facebook and Twitter.  For 82% of the workforce at surveyed organizations, a return to company headquarters is expected in 12 to 18 months, on average.

The long tail of remote work put a strain on tech organizations, leaving business executives to support the backbone of distributed operations in the wake of hiring freezes, budget cuts and layoffs. The tech side of the C-suite is also expected to devote resources to supporting contact tracing and other tech tools designed to keep workers safe in a phased office comeback.

SOURCE: CIO DIVE

Rapid transformation resulted in the redistribution of both the workforce and the workloads.  Is it time to consider a simpler, more agile IT strategy?

Datacenter and cloud networking agility provides the ability to react quickly to changes and goes way beyond traditional measurements of speeds and feeds.  Here are some of the capabilities that Gartner uses to evaluate data center and cloud networking solutions. From hardware to network operating systems to management solutions are all drivers of agility and business resiliency.

In particular, these three use cases that are top of mind for many enterprises IT teams for evaluating data center networking solutions:

1. Enterprise Refresh/Build-Out Use Case. Includes switch hardware, Network Operating System (NOS), management, and automation integrations.

2. Agility Boost Use Case. Based on management platform independence, automation, hyper-converged infrastructure integrations, and public cloud integrations.

3. DevOps Driven Organization Use Case. Day 1 and Day 2 automation and data center platform integrations.

SOURCE: CISCO

More products, more problems? A complex IT system can lead to security flaws, moving to a simplified infrastructure offers more robust security.

As cybercriminals continue to find new ways to breach security defences, keeping your organization secure may start to feel overwhelming. Unfortunately, security teams that feel inundated by tools and disparate data can experience cybersecurity fatigue or the feeling that they simply can’t keep up with incoming threats. To avoid overwhelming security teams it recommends focusing on the threats your organization is most vulnerable to experiencing. Getting to know which threats most impact you and prioritizing accordingly is a great way to simplify your security approach, and may help when deciding which solutions are worth investing in.

With a solid foundation and a good understanding of what to prioritize, you may find it easier to incorporate relevant security solutions without adding undue complexity. Check out these tips on simplifying your security operations.

SOURCE: CISCO

IT Strategy to Enable Business Strategy

Two-thirds of executives are focused on cost optimization, another 34% said they are prioritizing operational efficiencies. What if both were possible?

Technology has become the backbone that supported company operations and making sure there were no distributed work and a smooth transition to digital processes wherever possible. For 72% of business executives the pandemic and the disruption, it introduced altered their priorities. Execs came into 2020 with planned digital transformation roadmaps that no longer matched the context businesses operate in.

Two-thirds of decision-makers honed their focus on cost optimization, while another 34% said they prioritized operational efficiencies, according to TBM Council data.

The shift is slated to impact global tech spend, according to Gartner projections. Worldwide IT spending will reach $3.5 trillion in 2020, marking a 7.3% decrease from 2019 levels. Amid the contraction, infrastructure as a service is expected to grow by 13.4%.

SOURCE: CIO DIVE

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strategic IT insights from the week

Strategic IT Insights Week Ending 07/24/2020

July 28, 2020

Industry Wrap  № 6.

And that’s a wrap! Next Dimension curates the most practical and useful tools and strategic IT insights from the web.

This week we shared articles across our social media covering the following topics: Simplify Your Infrastructure and IT Security: Avoiding Stops.

Looking for details? Continue reading to see more.

IT Security: Avoiding Stops

Ransomware attacks exploit unaddressed known vulnerabilities. It may be time to simplify your IT management models?

Organizations and their employees can fall victim to a variety of cyberattacks methods, including phishing campaigns, viruses, spyware and trojans.  The most problematic and pervasive type is ransomware.  Among different sectors, government agencies were the hardest hit by ransomware in the first quarter, accounting for 21% of all such attacks.  Other industries heavily targeted by ransomware were science and education, healthcare, and industrial companies.

To protect your organization and employees against ransomware and other forms of malware, web application firewalls (WAFs) can block potential attacks against web applications on the network perimeter, including attacks against remote access systems, such as Citrix Gateway

Here are some general recommendations for personal and corporate cybersecurity.

SOURCE: TECH REPUBLIC

Simplify Your Infrastructure

Staffing issues remain by far the #1 barrier to Digital Transformation initiatives.  Here are 3 ways to overcome these challenges

With business environments always modernizing it can cost a lot of time and effort with little return for IT.  Organizations that modernize data protection are 30% more efficient, and have 82% less production time lost when dealing with backup and recovery.  Why spend all this money on something that just backs up and restores data?  Any modern data protection solution must be able to release data trapped in legacy solutions, make it flexible and fluid across clouds without barriers, and be able to re-use this data to drive innovation.

Risk is a driving factor in any decision any data loss or treat can mean massive issues in brand, cost and security.  Modern data protection systems need to protect data automatically, no matter where or what the data is and you are subject to so many new compliance and governance requirements.

Here are 3 ways to overcome these challenges, plus protect and manage

1. Backup Modernization – advance from legacy systems

2. Hybrid and Mutli- cloud acceleration – reduce barriers for rapid cloud adoption

3. Data security and compliance – Mitigate Risk and Security Threats

 

SOURCE: VEEAM

Remote workers expand the attack surface area of your systems for the bad guys, here are suggestions on what to do about it.

Employees now have to manage the technology infrastructure of their home networks, including network security and patch deployment.  Endpoint security concerns have plagued IT and the coronavirus only highlighted the lack of end-to-end visibility.  If an employee is working from a personal device, IT has no visibility into patching needs.  The only way for you to grow your visibility is through policy.  Make sure only authorized computers can get on the corporate network.

Companies that have never operated remotely to full capacity might have less control for the first time, particularly for those in highly regulated industries.  As a result, cyber threats are expected to leak through the cracks.  Organizations have two response options:

  • Businesses fail to catch a threat when it comes about or they’re quickly trying to figure out how to do some of the automated patching, including Microsoft SCCM Patch Management.
  • Businesses hire a third party, such as a managed service provider, to manage updates for them if the attack surface is large enough.

While IT and their non-technical counterparts adjust to remote support, recommendations are a little bit of patience and understanding, because IT misses the ticket system too. Patching policies have not changed too much during the pandemic, but they have become more distributed.

SOURCE: CIO DIVE

Twitter’s sacred VIP accounts were compromised.  We are all susceptible.  Do you have a response plan?

The accounts of some of the most prominent users including Joe Biden, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates posted fraudulent tweets intended to lure people into Bitcoin related scams.  The growing consensus is that Twitter—the company, rather than individual users impacted—succumbed to a major hack.  While the technical details of the latest breach remain unclear, the leading theory is that hackers gained access to an administrative “panel” used by Twitter employees to manage people’s accounts.  It’s unclear who’s behind the hacking.  The perpetrators may have at least been partly motivated by money, given their public posts requesting that Twitter users send them cryptocurrency.

SOURCE: FORTUNE

A distributed workforce needs secure access to remain productive

The past few months have caused a huge transformation in our workplace, it is clear that everybody will need the technologies that can keep them safe and working continuously from wherever they are.  That is in part why the demand for Secure Access Service edge (SASE) is currently so high.  Companies like Cisco are delivering on SASE because it brings together the best of cloud-managed SD-WAN and cloud-delivered security into one solution, helping distributed workforces stay connected and secure.

Cisco SD-WAN Soars towards SASE, that the new release of Cisco SD-WAN provides the following main benefits:

  • Simple connectivity from SD-WAN to Umbrella Secure Internet Gateway: Employees gain complete security while on the enterprise network due to integration of Umbrella cloud security with Cisco SD-WAN.
  • Simple and flexible licensing models: Straightforward packages lets customers license and manage everything they need, together

SOURCE: CISCO

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strategic IT insights from the week

Strategic IT Insights Week Ending 07/17/2020

July 20, 2020

Industry Wrap  № 5.

And that’s a wrap! Next Dimension curates the most practical and useful tools and strategic IT insights from the web.

This week we shared articles across our social media covering the following topics: Filling the Gap Between the Boardroom and Server room, Simplify Your Infrastructure and, IT Reliability and Security: Avoiding Stops.

Looking for details? Continue reading to see more.

Filling the gap between the boardroom and server room

Evaluating IT Asset Management can achieve cost savings of 20%. IT and the Boardroom should collaborate on these 10 techniques.

When business executives come together to reduce operating costs they evaluate their IT spending and cost drivers. They calculate how IT costs impact the delivery of IT services, as well as their effect on business costs and revenue. They can achieve cost savings within IT and throughout the organization, by focusing initiatives on 10 IT cost optimization techniques:

1. Implement shared services

2. Adopt a cloud-first policy where appropriate

3. Consolidate enterprise data centers

4. Rationalize and standardize enterprise applications

5. Improve IT financial transparency practices

6. Focus on IT demand-side spending for greater business cost optimization

7. Implement robotic process automation

8. Evaluate IT asset management practices

9. Evaluate digital business transformation ideas

10. Optimize the workforce

“As you determine which of the top 10 suggestions you can initiate or continue to gain short-term cost savings, consider how you will also want to institutionalize IT cost optimization as an ongoing discipline,” says Irma Fabular, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner.

SOURCE: GARTNER

Simplify Your Infrastructure: why try to do this yourself

Gartner offers 4 steps to simplify your infrastructure and thrive in a cloud-first world.

Across industries, the cloud continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments of IT spend. In the new era of cloud, cost optimization will be crucial. Multicloud strategies will warrant provider independence and address concentration risk. The presence of in-house cloud skills will be a key indicator of enterprise agility, including the ability to distribute cloud services where customers want to consume them, on-premises and on the edge.

These four factors will impact cloud adoption in 2020 and the steps that you can take to thrive in a cloud-first world:

1. Cost optimization will drive cloud adoption

2. Multicloud will reduce vendor lock-in

3. Insufficient cloud IAAS skills will delay migration

4. Distributed cloud will support expanded service availability

As a new decade begins, businesses should consider how these trends will influence their cloud adoption and migration plans for years to come, taking steps now to prepare their IT infrastructure for the future of the cloud.

SOURCE: GARTNER

Smart Manufacturing: Deloitte offers a phased approach to improving operational efficiency.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put extraordinary stress on global economies and highlighted as perhaps never before the importance of maintaining an agile supply chain and efficient manufacturing operations. By scaling smart factories across locations, manufacturers can adjust their production processes and product mixes to the volatile supply-demand drivers among plants. A network of smart factories could drive organizations’ overall competitiveness in the form of improved efficiencies and competitiveness that could be critical in the tough economic environment ahead.

In the article below these items will be discussed:

  • Challenges associated with scaling smart factory solutions
  • Implementation components and techniques to address the challenges and lead to scaled adoption of the solution
  • Considerations to keep the scale successful

SOURCE: DELOITTE

IT Reliability and Security: Avoiding Stops

Forward-thinking organizations will continue to shift their priorities to protect the agile workforce.

 Even with security in question, not all businesses were not able to stop during the pandemic.  Taking the time to strategize deployments, and forecast project outcomes is an indication of good cybersecurity.  As companies hastily adopted tools to facilitate remote work, security, the IT component that often delays projects to ensure protection, had to keep pace.

Spending on network security equipment decreased by 12.6% from 2019 to 2020 as cloud-based security solutions increased to facilitate remote work. Spending on cloud security is expected to grow by 33.3% from 2019 to 2020. Some companies were forced to disable systems with the intention of re-enabling them later. But anytime a change is introduced to an environment, security is at risk. Prioritizing endpoint security and user authentication will take hold for the foreseeable future. Human behaviour and employee training will be emphasized as the physical security of an office are gone.

SOURCE: CIO DIVE

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter and never miss an update.  Prefer a weekly recap? Join our Community (on the right) and be notified when our Industry Wrap is published each week.


strategic IT insights from the week

Strategic IT Insights Week Ending 07/10/2020

July 14, 2020

Industry Wrap  № 4.

And that’s a wrap! Next Dimension curates the most practical and useful tools and strategic IT insights from the web.

This week we shared articles across our social media covering the following topics: IT Reliability and Security: Avoiding Stops and Simplify your Infrastructure.

Looking for details, continue reading to see more

IT Reliability and Security: Avoiding Stops

As technology decisions are made for remote work, here are 4 meaningful steps you can take to minimize privacy pitfalls.

Many businesses are shifting operations online.  If mismanaged, there are potential privacy pitfalls that will prove very damaging. With new regulations coming, the stakes for getting your pivot right are higher than ever before. These 4 steps can help you minimize pitfalls.

  1. Be mindful of how your vendors and partners use customer data
  2. When processing data, perform impact assessments to monitor risk
  3. Strive for clarity in your privacy policies
  4. Designate a Data Protection Officer (DPO)

Managing rapid digital transformation can mean taking risky actions.  In this current climate, depending on regulatory donations is an unnecessary risk for businesses when they can take simple, process-driven steps to support privacy.

SOURCE: HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

Even the Royal Military College is susceptible to attacks. Is it time to review your cybersecurity plan?

The website and email systems for Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. remained offline after a reported ransomware attack.  When asked if the military is concerned about the possibilities of sensitive information accessed through the cyber attack, they responded with “Unclassified military research usually ends up being published (publicly) so the unclassified stuff, even if it was affected, would be public anyway.”

David Swan, a former member intelligence officer in the Canadian Forces who is now the Alberta-based director of the Centre for Strategic Cyberspace and International Studies said the biggest damage would likely be an embarrassment, as well as loss of intellectual property through academic research.  “In this day and age, especially at a military college, there should be better threat awareness and readiness”.

SOURCE: IT WORLD CANADA

Here’s how to overcome the 4 key barriers to cyber hygiene success in your workplace.

IT policy, physical security, firewalls and other technical precautions are very necessary, but teaching employees what to and not to do makes a connection for a strong, secure front line defense to support all other security measures.  Cybersecurity training is clear but is not always easy and has many barriers when properly teaching security measures.  A lack of cybersecurity best practices can seem overwhelming, especially to a smaller organization with limited resources.  These are a few solutions that can help organizations be more secure.

PROBLEM SOLUTIONS
 I don’t know enough about cybersecurity There are a variety of great online learning resources created specifically with cybersecurity training in mind. Next Dimension offers a FREE cybersecurity course with tools for your organization.
 
It costs too much When it comes to cybersecurity training, the path to C-suite support is through  ROI (Return on Investment) and Risk Management.
 
I don’t have time The average amount of downtime caused by ransomware attacks in the second quarter of 2019 was almost 10 days. That’s 80 hours that each worker is stopped from doing their job altogether.
 
Company culture Developing a cybersecurity culture requires a message of accountability from the top in order to drive organizational behaviour change.

 

Working towards tighter cybersecurity is one of the best things a business can do to protect their employees, customers and their bottom line.

SOURCE: SECURITY MAGAZINE

Simplify Your Infrastructure

Simplifying the approach to IT creates an opportunity for increased agility moving forward.

To preserve and encourage technology investments, CIOs have to show how tech can alleviate business concerns.  While the adoption of a “digital workplace” accelerated, organizations tried to determine what areas to “cut without impacting business too bad,” Greene said. Creating financial agility early on allowed businesses to make more decisions for the second half of 2020.  The pandemic has given a great push for changes CIOs have long worked to drive, including more agile tech initiatives respective to the business.

The benefit is technology is seen as a growth engine. Organizations don’t want to cripple IT as it is what keeps businesses operating when everything is shut down.  The biggest push for the new generation of CIOs is going to focus on changing the portion of IT spend from non-discretionary to discretionary. The pandemic is going to challenge the stamina of executive technology leadership, and some CIOs won’t want to stick around to see the evolution through.

SOURCE: CIO DIVE

93% of orgs are deploying workloads across two or more clouds.  Here’s 3 tips to simplify your infrastructure.

As organizations embark on their digital transformation journey, it is very important they have a strategy in place to make most of the data, security, resiliency and application advantages of multi-cloud environments.  As Canadian businesses place a closer focus on multi-cloud solutions, here are some important considerations to make the most of a multi-cloud strategy.

Security. There is an inherent cybersecurity concern that comes from the lack of control and visibility into security practices in hosted cloud environments. Multi-cloud balances this concern by allowing organizations to select the right environment and level of security for each workload.

Flexibility and transparency.  Multi-cloud environments provide the ability to adjust through flexibility and transparency helping both IT teams and organizations in general, find true business value

Keep it Simple.  With the complexity that is layered over multiple clouds and multiple vendors, having one central hub for operations and management reduces complexity and can help lighten the load for IT staff/maintenance.

Transitioning to the cloud is one of the most important and fundamental steps in any organization’s digital transformation. The benefits are numerous, and with the future primed for the evolution and adaptation of emerging tech, multi-cloud provides an essential foundation for tomorrow’s workloads and workforce needs.

SOURCE: IT WORLD CANADA

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter and never miss an update.  Prefer a weekly recap? Join our Community (on the right) and be notified when our Industry Wrap is published each week.


backing up your O365 data

Backing Up Your O365 Data

July 9, 2020

Better Together Series

Episode 6: Backing Up Your O365 Data

Next Dimension and Veeam discussed the importance of Backing up your O365 data.  This informative webinar highlighted the various benefits of leveraging Veeam to backup your Office 365 data.  Next Dimension is hosting a Better Together Coffee Series; a number of short and informative early morning webinars focusing on how to leverage Veeam v10 to better improve performance and protection within your organization.

Click here to access the recorded webinar.

Below are some of the comments and insights that were shared via twitter during our Better Together Coffee Series focused on Backing Up your O365 Data:

  • Office 365 runs a Shared Responsibility Model.  What is under your role to protect?
  • What if you could turn back time? Veeam and O365 backup allows you to do just that.
  • If an employee leaves the company, O365 will only backup the data for approx. one month.
  • There are 25+ recovery options for Veeam backup for O365.
  • Veeam can increase bandwidth in O365 helping you achieve RPO/RTO objectives.
  • You can restore from the full org down to a single email when you backup O365 with Veeam.

That was a lot of ground to cover in just 30 minutes!  There are many other topics to discuss in the rest of the series including Veeam v10 launch features, reliability, how Veeam helps modern data center break free from legacy solutions, and security – hardening your data protection infrastructure against threats.  We also discussed resource planning and capacity management.  Access the entire Better Together Coffee Series with Next Dimension and Veeam.

click here to access veeam webinar


Is it time to check your IT Alignment?