strategic IT insights from the week

Strategic IT Insights Week Ending 08/21/2020

August 24, 2020

Industry Wrap  № 10.

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 ROI: Security, Enable Efficiency through Innovation, IT road map as a plain language collaboration platform,

Looking for details? Continue reading to see more.


We’ve all heard it, don’t reuse passwords. The importance of that rule is reminded with the recent attack on the CRA.

It is important to keep up with your “cyber hygiene “as well to ensure you don’t become a victim of digital fraud. The CRA temporarily suspended its online services on the weekend in response to the cyberattack. What is credential stuffing? And how can Canadians stay safe? A credential is a username and password, and stuffing is when essentially you have these usernames and passwords and you test them against very popular sites. Hackers who have acquired hundreds of usernames and passwords will turn to bots to see if the account details allow them access to anything.

It is convenient for us to use the same username and password. It is basic cyber hygiene to have a different username and password for your accounts with the emphasizes on creating a strong password which mixes upper and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, and avoid using dictionary words


63% of executives say that increasing productivity is the most important strategic goal, yet a lack of IT integration remains a major roadblock. Move to a simplified IT infrastructure to help facilitate this.

With artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and the internet of things (IoT), the line between the physical and virtual work environment is blurring, and the workplace is becoming more virtual. Organizations are transforming their structures and workflows to mirror the distributed nature of work, an effort, in turn, made possible by new technologies. Intelligent technologies such as AI, AR/VR, and the sensor technologies behind the IoT are changing business models, organizational structures, and, above all, the way workers collaborate and make decisions. Navigating the road ahead means aligning intelligent technologies and integrating them to work together to help executives increase employee productivity, acquire talent, and optimize for the future of work, whether it’s in a physical workplace or done remotely.


Here are 10 tips to tidy up and streamline your work from home deployments after a rapid initial roll-out.

Some IT department has not communicated their technology components for working from home well. So, before you independently kluge together an ad hoc application solution for downloading and sharing corporate documents using Gmail and Google Docs, ask your IT department for their recommendations and expectations. Here are my tips for improving application software that ensures an effective MVP for working from home.

1. Organization network access 2. Organization application access
3. Telephone 4. Video calling
5. Team Collaboration 6. Document management
7. Adequate Internet access 8. Reasonable network
9. Laptop 10. Printer



IT road map as a plain language Collaboration Platform

Imagine networks that can protect important data with VIP treatment, automatically recover from problems, while using the right amount of capacity. Networks are adapting to our dynamic environment

Without the right infrastructure, networks can get clogged, applications get glitchy and users become frustrated. For example, video can be bandwidth-intensive yet sensitive to delays – the frozen images, out of sync voices or dropped connections make for a sub-par experience. Even low-bandwidth applications can be susceptible to high-latency, impacting real-time communications or transactions. Using software intelligence like segment routing for efficient control, and hardware innovations such as ultra-fast speed with trustworthy systems, this set of solutions can help adapt to unpredictable network factors. Imagine networks that can protect important data with VIP treatment, automatically recover from problems, while using the right amount of capacity.

These days, flexibility is paramount, and Cisco offers a wide range of options plus the in-depth expertise needed to solve problems through different use cases, including for healthcare, education, utilities, cities, banking and service provider networks. A perfect example is Cisco’s flexible consumption models that have helped to elastically adjust to new traffic volumes with a software license.


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 08/14/2020

August 17, 2020

Industry Wrap  № 9.

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 Strategy to Enable Business Strategy, IT road map as a plain language collaboration platform, Filling the Gap, IT ROI: Security, Enable Efficiency through Innovation

Looking for details? Continue reading to see more.

IT Strategy to enable Business Strategy

Organizations require speed and innovation to thrive.  Simplifying your Operational Network can drastically improve agility.

Cisco has partnered with Equinix to help you manage your hundreds and maybe thousands of high-performing enterprise, web, and mobile applications, securely and with minimal latency, while also optimizing cost. Core to this partnership is the realization that the enterprise-wide area network (WAN) provides the foundation for cloud deployments and digitally transformative initiatives.

Most applications bridge both private infrastructure and public clouds. Cisco, in partnership with Equinix, gives customers a broad choice of solutions and deployment options to optimize their WAN architectures for applications that connect users, remote headquarters, branches, and the data center to cloud providers to:

Deliver the best quality user experience

Protect against cyber threats and meet compliance requirements

Reduce overall costs and operational complexity

Cisco is helping companies create agile, distributed, and secure connectivity for the needs of businesses, organizations, and their customers. By integrating Cisco’s cloud and SD-WAN solutions on the Equinix platform, customers have the speed and flexibility to connect to clouds, SaaS, PaaS, networks, and service providers, which helps us support business continuity needs and enables better end-user experiences.


IT road map as plain language collaboration platform

Take an organizational approach to IT to combat increased risk and complexities.

A review of hundreds of cloud deployments from customers and community showed 93% of reviewed infrastructure had misconfigured cloud storage services.  The impact of misconfigurations in enterprise cloud deployments can potentially spread beyond organizations and reach their clients and stakeholders. These types of cybersecurity flaws led to one of the largest data breaches the financial sector saw last year: the Capital One breach.

Widespread misconfiguration in cloud deployments can be traced back to the beginning of the cloud. When many companies began their cloud journey, deployment automation technology wasn’t widely available. What companies can look to in the near future in order to combat misconfigurations is the connection between DevOps practices and security.


Filling the gap between the Boardroom and Server room

The sudden departure of IT leaders can put a company’s tech goals in jeopardy. C-Suite involvement from the beginning can help avoid this.

Whether its fires, pandemics or a recession, leaders must keep the business running seamlessly. Advanced preparation extends to leadership decisions too. In the event of sudden tech leadership departures, organizations need to have a plan in place to continue to execute on short- and long-term tech goals. To prepare for the transition in the tech side of the house, organizations should:

Groom a tech leader in waiting

Keep the C-suite aware of what tech investments are underway

Re-evaluate tech goals in the context of the departure

How well a company overcomes a sudden tech leader departure depends on how informed leaders were kept of ongoing initiatives prior to the departure. Organizations need to have transparent conversations about business priorities, keeping all leadership informed of how IT infrastructure operates. Once a leader departs, it’s up to the organization to evaluate what triggered that departure, and what impact it may have on previously set goals.


IT ROI: Avoid Stops: Reliability and Security

7 recommendations you can implement to protect your organization’s data and privacy

The growth in size, number and sophistication of cyber breaches over the last 10 years has catapulted cyber threats to be one of the greatest threats of the 21st century. If you agree to follow security standards or privacy regulations in your contracts and don’t actually follow through on implementation, then you are leaving your business exposed to the risk of fines and lawsuits. Most boards have come to this realization by now, but the next question is: What should boards be doing to ensure their companies are doing the right things?

Ensure your organization has:

1. Appropriately assessed which privacy regulations it is required to adhere to.

2. Focused its efforts on risk.

3. The appropriate skills to assess and mitigate risk.

4. Determined which senior member of the team owns security and privacy.

5. Documented its information security and privacy program.

6. Conducted testing and auditing regularly (and is continuing to do so).

7. Documented an incident response and disaster recovery plan.

If the company is not delivering on its requirements, it is susceptible to loss of revenue, data breaches and potential lawsuits.


Enable Efficiency through Innovation

Driving key change initiatives are placing unprecedented demand on IT

In the race to digital transformation, businesses are embracing the benefits of automating IT.  From the network to the data center and beyond, automation is more important to organizations than ever.  Automated policy algorithms and analysis can reveal security blind spots that might otherwise lead to cyber-attacks. Predicting vulnerabilities and uncovering weak links in your infrastructure will enable speedy remediation back to a secure state, thwarting hackers and data breaches.

Automated Fault Management provides the key to identifying and resolving these issues, by combining automation and machine learning with Cisco’s anonymized data from over 30 million devices worldwide. If the data reveals a warning pattern in your network, we complete the following steps without human interaction:

Generate an email identifying an issue and directing it to the appropriate source

Open a case with the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC)

Launch an automatic list of remediation steps to solve the problem

In the space of a few years, IT automation has grown into a crucial time-saving strategy, that enables your IT teams to confidently rebalance resources, reduce risks, and accelerate innovation.

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 08/07/2020

August 10, 2020

Industry Wrap  № 8.

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: Enable Efficiency through Innovation, IT ROI, and Simplify Your Infrastructure.

Looking for details? Continue reading to see more.

Enable Efficiency through Innovation

Preparing you for the next normal. Simplifying your IT application layout makes hybrid workplaces more efficient.

With the year more than halfway done, we can all agree that many unexpected instances have occurred.  Cisco has been working hard to make sure Webex was there to enable the connections we’ve all come to rely on.  Cisco believes the future will be a blend of in-office and working-from-home, and they’ve created a blueprint to help you as we move into this future.

  • Empower the remote worker – Enable remote workers with personalized and engaging experiences; help them raise their game, wherever their work happens.
  • Safe return to the office – For employees heading back into the office, ensure a safe while still productive environment by providing touchless and intelligent experiences.
  • Develop meaningful customer relationships – Continue to nurture your customer relationships and ensure that they can reach you anyway, any time.
  • Make I.T. hum – Because IT is key to supporting the transition to this hybrid future, the right management and decision-making tools can make IT hum.

The next steps are preparing your workforce to be equally productive from wherever they are, being there for your customers when they need you most, and effectively managing this new collaboration experience.



Is your risk management strategy aligned with the business? or siloed?

Only four in 10 security leaders can answer the question, “how secure, or at risk, are we?” Business-aligned leaders are nearly five times more likely to collaborate with stakeholders on cost, performance and risk reductions than more reactive leaders.  Business-aligned leaders are also seven times more likely to automate risk management objectives to vulnerability prioritization practices.

Traditional cybersecurity metrics are technical and are accommodating to non-technical stakeholders.  The metrics boards look for, including financial risk, reputation damage, regulatory infringements, which are often forgotten by security teams.  The board wants to know:

  • How the digital infrastructure is defended
  • If the people who are authorized to take risk are also able to mitigate it
  • If all tools were used to their full capacity or if more is needed

To measure their ROI metrics, security leaders rely on mean time to detect, mean time to resolve and how many vulnerabilities were remediated monthly.  When speaking with stakeholders, security leaders could use benchmarking to communicate the organization’s overall security performance relative to peers.


Simplify your Infrastructure

3 steps to improve infrastructure resiliency to protect operations from significant disruptions

Infrastructure and operations leaders specifically struggle to meet the increased demand for at-home infrastructure support, as the majority of citizens are teleworking indefinitely and globally.

Follow these three steps to limit the impact of COVID-19 on I&O and improve infrastructure resiliency to protect your organization from significant disruptions.

1. Establish a workforce resilience program

To maximize workforce productivity during pandemics, establish a workforce resilience program that includes some basic guidelines. For example, limit demand that remote work inevitably causes on the help desk by using an online, internal collaboration community for employees to share problems or ideas or enabling the use of public cloud desktop as a service (DaaS) for telecommuters.

2. Build an infrastructure response plan

  • A shortlist of authorized personnel to remain on-site and ensure that critical infrastructure can still be accessed
  • Automation of daily tasks like system health checks, performance monitoring and more. Augment staff and contractors were needed to perform routine tasks.
  • Multiple points of contact at the operational support level to ensure that mission-critical IT services remain up and running. Have at least three workers assigned to each system.

3. Use scalable architecture to support business continuity

Organizations that can expect increased demand during a pandemic, like e-commerce vendors, must be able to scale up the capability to handle exponential workload increases in a relatively short time.

Taken together, these protective measures will have the additional benefit of aligning IT operations in traditional industries with those of internet-based organizations after the COVID-19 crisis is brought under control and the risk level drops.


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 07/31/2020

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.



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.


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.


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.


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%.


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 07/24/2020

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.


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



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.


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.


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


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.