Author: missybeaudelot

Blog, Microsoft, Technology, Uncategorized

Future Decoded – The Microsoft Security Story


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Change has been the only constant in 2016 – with Brexit, and a change of prime minister, notably creating a great deal of noise and uncertainty around the future of the UK economy. With 44% of UK business leaders indicating their current business models will not exist in 5 years and predictions intensifying that we are entering the fourth industrial revolution, it is increasingly apparent that as businesses we must understand change, explore transformation and adapt in order to avoid extinction.

So, it came as no surprise the key theme of Microsoft’s annual UK event Future Decoded was centred on digital transformation. Whilst Microsoft’s core mission remains unchanged – to empower every organisation and every person to achieve more – the first day of Future Decoded focused less on the things we know that Microsoft do consistently well – providing rich user experiences, suites of applications, and intuitive interfaces, and instead cemented their strategy around security and proved how Microsoft are enabling business and digital transformation.

But it wasn’t just Microsoft’s strategy around security that took centre stage. During one of the opening keynotes, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, formally launched the government’s new National Cyber Security Strategy, which sets out decisive action that we will be taking to protect the UK economy, the privacy of British citizens, whilst encouraging and equipping industry to prevent damaging cyber-attacks.

The Chancellor recognised that cyber security is one of the greatest threats to business around the world – with the global cost of crimes estimated at in excess of $445 billion. However, the Chancellor predicts that this new strategy underpinned by £1.9 billion of investment will position the UK as one of the safest places in the world to do business – perhaps a compelling reason for businesses to remain in the UK instead of fleeing in the aftermath of Brexit.

“If we want Britain to be the best place in the world to be a tech business then it is also crucial that Britain is a safe place to do the digital business,” The Chancellor said, “Trust in the internet and the infrastructure on which it relies is fundamental to our economic future.”

With data the currency of today’s world, a predicted 1 million new devices coming online per hour by 2020 and Microsoft opening UK data centres that deliver world-class reliability and data residency earlier this year, I was interested to explore how Microsoft’s security strategy has evolved. I was not disappointed.

During a breakout session, Microsoft illustrated exactly how they have upped their game, and integrated their products to create a solution which is seriously cool, effortlessly delivered, and oh… it’s available today when using EMS, Intune and Windows 10. Sophisticated security built on principles around user ‘identity’, facial recognition and multi-factor authentication, and integrated access and control policies, resulting in a solution that presents itself as simple, seamless… and can be completely self-provisioned by any end user (seriously it looked idiot proof… perhaps even I could replicate the demo – perhaps that’s a vblog for another time!)

Security has been one of the many, and important, focus areas at Future Decoded. Make sure you follow Cetus Solutions on LinkedIn, where over the next few days I will be posting additional blogs around some of the product announcements and updates, forward thinking around big data and AI, workspaces, Skype for Business, and migrating to Windows 10.

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Blog, Cetus Solutions, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, Uncategorized

The Sat Nav Got Me Lost!


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I recently loaned my mother my car to take some friends away for the weekend, I showed her how to put an address into the sat nav and sent her on her way… When she (finally) returned I asked how her weekend was and if the car was ok and I was a little surprised by her response.

“It’s useless… it got me lost, I should have gone in my car, I wish I had my map” which was fully supported by all her friends who continued to berate my car…. my surprise was two fold… firstly how did they get lost with a sat nav and secondly how the sat nav had now led this group of people to say how useless my whole car was.

In my job I rely on my sat nav and use it to guide me around the 20,000 miles of business travel I take on each year and I can honestly say it has yet to fail me. This got me thinking, how can this intelligent woman not see the benefit of this fantastic technology….

The answer; a poorly managed roll out of the technology by the individual pushing the technology on her (in this case me…. her son.) This one, initial poor experience has led to my mother swearing blind she will never use a sat nav again and disliking the whole vehicle!

This got me thinking of just how important that first user experience is in all walks of life and especially in the world of IT. The success or failure of any technology project is judged when it is rolled out to the end users or customers, the whole solution has to work and work well… if there is a slight hiccup that will be the focal point and getting back on track is like navigating spaghetti junction.

The leading edge technology, advanced security and huge time savings your new IT solution delivers are all insignificant if that end user experience is not close to perfection. Ensuring that initial user experience is positive enables the most valuable marketing tool of word of mouth to spread and ease the transition to the new way of working.

At Cetus we focus a great deal of our time engaging with customers before any technology decisions have been made… ensuring we get a true understanding of what you as an organisation are looking to achieve and we can then discuss how technology can help you get there.

Once the technology and project has been decided the impact on the user base becomes the priority and focusing on the least disruptive and easiest transition for the end users is at the heart of the project. The Cetus implementation methodology is tried and tested and is one that has saved many project and programme managers a lot of sleepless nights (or wrong turns!)

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Blog, Current Vacancies, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

Why is an Elephant?


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Why is an Elephant? A question I once posed to my English teacher as he boasted he was well educated and stating (unlike his students) he could answer anything we threw at him.  The relevance and purpose of the question was nonsense of course, but hidden here in plain sight is the real question, Why?

Why do we do what we do?  (What is our purpose?) The question Why? Must be the ultimate question of all.

The now infamous line from The Matrix “Why why why Mr Anderson” shouts agent Smith! (I just like that film!).  And the all too common question for any extreme athlete; Why do you do what you do; Why put your life at risk?  Why do people buy electric cars from a non-profitable company (Elon Musk – Tesla) a chap who also designs reusable rockets, is building a mission to Mars and manufactures solar roof tiles? Why indeed?

A question applicable to one and all and not many can answer immediately without thought. A very defining question indeed.  We all have choices and many have an inbuilt desire to achieve and succeed in what we choose to do as humans, a competitive instinct is a great thing so how can we as employers and commercial organisations harness this to benefit their productivity and competitive edge? A question from a question and the subject matter goes on. But this doesn’t answer the Why question…

“Because I love what we do here, I love the people and I can make a difference” is often heard here at Cetus and we are ever so proud to hear that too!  A more personal and popular response.

From our inception in 2001, Cetus openly published our values, our core ethos to: Think differently, Deliver better, Forge bonding relationships (partnerships), be the best at what we do, be thought leaders.  This is where the Why? of Cetus began.

We set out to compete with System-Integrators by design and be different in our approach; it was (and still is) all about our customers, listening and understanding are key.  “Vendor neutrality and a commercial approach with a technical toolkit’ was also early messaging as it’s all about the customers need and desires, not just what stuff we thought we could sell for a profit.

Jump to the present day, much grey hair and indeed more wrinkly, I sit as part of a team who have amassed an unparalleled wealth of experience and knowledge which underpins our Why?

Encapsulated more recently in our updated messaging ‘Inspire. Transform. Together’ is the Why? of Cetus.  Deep within the DNA of Cetus is a core set of values attributing to the Why?

Think differently
Challenge thinking
Designing value
Create innovative solutions
Challenge the status quo
Challenge the boundaries of IT

This is why we do what we do.

Here at Cetus, for over 15 years we’ve been enjoying challenging thinking.   We inspire IT professionals to think differently, not just about the here and now, but by delivering strategic empowerment to effect change to improve business outcomes.  Competitive advantage and driving productivity are outputs and products of what Cetus do, but working with individuals to grow and enhance an organisation’s abilities is a core part of our enjoyment, we simply love working with people!

I have an inbuilt desire to solve problems at work and in my private life. Since I could use a screwdriver I have always taken things apart and reassembled them.  But I love working with people, I love asking questions and understanding people and their drivers and the fact I can influence change and the development of others.

At Cetus, we have built this into our platform from day one, it is something I have passionately worked on all my career and for me, success comes in many guises but the most satisfying is the development of people, giving people a chance to improve and better themselves. Naturally in turn, this promotes success within any individual too. “You can go fast alone, but can go faster together”!

Another Why question this time from the film IRobot:
“Why is it that when Robots are stored in an empty space they will group together rather than stand alone?” This one is intriguing and who knows, with the anticipated growth of AI and Machine Learning, perhaps we’ll find out in our lifetime one day.

Cetus are always looking for energetic, inspiring and thought provoking people to join our Team.  If you think you know your Why?, then simply give us a shout as you have most likely found a great place to be… Cetus Solutions.

Mike.pngMike English – Managing Director
Since forming Cetus in 2001, Mike drives change and development to ensure Cetus empower and deliver real value to our customers, enabling successful business outcomes.

 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

Back in the Desert…


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I’m currently looking out at a beautiful ocean, waves lapping in the golden sand desperately trying to disconnect and enjoy that valuable downtime and relaxation we all seek, I’m sure you  know what I mean! Picture it with me.!

I sit here, iPad in hand, writing away, yet this doesn’t phase me as it’s what we all do as driven individuals. Some may read a book, listen to music, I do too but this is modern relaxation, right?!

As I sit back reflect and muse, I look at my son, sitting next to me, earphones in, foot tapping away, ‘Linkin Park’ he says, iPad in hand and hopefully not racking up a large data roaming charge. He’s now 17 and I say to myself, where has the time gone?

Indeed, where has the time gone? The first generation iPhone hit our streets in 2007, the iPad only in 2010, now, both smart phones and tablets are widely adopted and simply part of our daily lives, in such a highly productive world, could we live without them?

Wow its hot today! I’m fully connected to the rest of the world from a beach with Wi-Fi (just say that back to yourself!) and our expectation is exactly that, connectivity. Our connected world has shaped and transformed us all.

My reflecting soon takes on the topical subject of Brexit, a deep conversation over to my right. My thoughts meander to Cetus and how Brexit is naturally influencing our thinking.  I go back to an analogy I used back in pre recessional times around 2008/9, which was derived from a strategy for growth and embracing change. “Let us stop worrying about trying to get out of the desert and start trying to live in the desert, as this is how it is …” referring to the recession of course. Initially some of my colleagues looked at me somewhat deranged and wondered what words I had just spoken!

IT Managers were expected to deliver more with less; reduced resource and restricted budgets were the norm, yet with an expectation to deliver at least the same or indeed a much improved service.

It was crucial for Cetus to embrace change and adapt to a weaker economy, in this case unplanned change thrust our way and beyond our control. We adopted the strategy and challenge for growth through the recession and holistically changed the way we worked with our customers, working to understand not just IT stuff but real business challenges.  We aligned ourselves as a surrogate partner and an extension of our customer’s teams, becoming more of a true business enabler.

What does Brexit mean to Cetus?  This answer would require more time than I’ve got on this sandy beach I’m sure, I could try and lose my passport I guess…  However, here we are once more, Cetus are ever analytical yet un-phased and more importantly embracing the changes en-route.  I do believe the word ‘uncertainty’ is heavily overused as a smoke screen to many.

“Working closer with customers to deliver enablement, increasing agility and productivity, allowing customers to focus on what they should be doing” A mantra Cetus have adopted from day #1.  In camp Cetus, no hill is too steep to climb. This, is certainty.

Like the impact of the smart phone, technology moves at a staggering pace. And it is all too easy to get giddy over the latest and greatest, but how does such technology impact and transform commerce? How can Cetus deliver value to customers to improve their service delivery when they have ever decreasing budgets and resources?

Cetus invest heavily into a continuous development programme of technical and awareness training, complimented by our extensive experience and deliver this to you, we love the challenge! Check out our latest inspiring workshops and case studies on our website to see why we love what we do.  Our new website will keep you abreast of inspirational and thought leadership subject matters, case references and use-cases together with our popular workshop series.

Finally, just reflect on your journey home, what will you be using technology for over the next decade as we approach the ten-year anniversary of the smartphone and the impact it has had on productivity in our lives. Will we finally get to use the area of our brains we have so much to learn about?!

More sunscreen…

Delivered via Cetus Mobile Workspace powered by Citrix

Mike.pngMike English – Managing Director
Since forming Cetus in 2001, Mike drives change and development to ensure Cetus empower and deliver real value to our customers, enabling successful business outcomes.

 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, Current Vacancies, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

It’s Value, But Not As We Know It…


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To be honest, I’ve never been much of a Treky, but the new Star Trek film had me reminiscing about years gone by. And, having recently returned to the IT reseller channel after a 20 year journey through the land of systems integrators and vendors, there’s lots to reminisce about!

It was obvious that things would have changed, but even in the fast paced world of technology it’s amazing how much the market has moved on. And as a Sales and Marketing professional, I can see the impact runs deeper than just the changing dynamics of the IT sector.

A new landscape
Cast your mind back to the IT market of the 1990’s (if you are old enough!) and you find a land of plenty. Prospective customers actively seeking out information on new products, their enquiries fulfilled by sales and marketing teams focussed on features and specifications. When demand outstripped supply, adding value was rarely more than an afterthought for IT vendors and resellers.

Fast forward to the present and the situation could not be more different, with an increasingly congested IT market where it is difficult to stand out from the crowd. And the growth of the web, with powerful search engines and a proliferation of content, has caused an irreversible change in buyer behaviour that dilutes the effectiveness of traditional marketing techniques.

As personal experience will tell you, bombarding people with email or telephone calls rarely delivers results. People now buy differently, they do their own independent research, identify different potential solutions to their problems, and produce a shortlist of suitable suppliers, all through the use of the web. Search engines mean they can discover all they need to know without speaking to pesky salespeople!

Behaviour change
This new behaviour is known as ‘inbound marketing’ and has dramatically changed the interactions between customers and suppliers. The customer no longer needs to speak to a salesperson for product information, so the first time they engage is at the end of the process when they are ready to buy. In principle this is good for everyone, it’s an efficient use of time and resources, but it has a couple of key problems.

Firstly, the quality of the end result is dependent on the customer’s research uncovering the best possible solutions, and in today’s time pressured environment that isn’t always the case. And conversely, it’s more challenging for suppliers to get their voice heard and add enough value to earn their place in the buying process.

So, in the brave new world of inbound marketing, how do IT resellers add real value?

Creating value
The answer lies in the customer’s expectations of their suppliers in this new world. They expect suppliers to inject new ideas they can’t discover for themselves, and to challenge their thinking with insights that are directly relevant to them. In turn, this demands that suppliers build a detailed knowledge of their customers, the markets they operate in and the stakeholders they serve.

This is a real challenge for many IT resellers, who are naturally focused on the technology sector rather than their customers markets. But the prize for meeting the challenge is early involvement in the buying process, bringing the opportunity to shape thinking and influence strategy – in short, the chance to add value.

So for IT resellers to add real value for their customers, they need a detailed knowledge of the vertical markets their customers operate in, a clear focus on business outcomes, and a proven ability to deliver tangible benefits. Coupled with a tailored approach for each individual customer that is relevant, personal and compelling.

Our DNA
Here at Cetus we’ve thrived in the changing IT market of the last 15 years, largely because the ability to add real value for our customers is embedded in our DNA.
But don’t take my word for it, let us prove it!

Just contact us and give us the opportunity to ‘walk the walk’. Alternatively, if you want to learn more about working with Cetus, take a look at the Who we are  section of our website, or register for one of our upcoming Inspired Leaders Programme events.

Directors-9688Gary Hyman – Sales & Marketing Director
Gary’s core focus is to find potent solutions that help customers confront specific business challenges, equipping them to enrich the lives of their customers and stakeholders.

 

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The Dog Deleted My Homework


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Information used to be about ‘stuff’.  You could touch it, pass it to someone else, or hide it if you didn’t want to share it. Such was the case with my homework.  I (being of a certain age) would ‘share’ information with my teachers by writing it on paper and passing it to them.  I also had to hide it so that the dog didn’t get his paws on it and destroy it – after all you only really get to use that excuse once.  I wonder what the modern equivalent of that old excuse is: “the dog hacked my e-learning account and deleted my homework” maybe?

Anyway, back to the point.  I’ve been thinking about security in a data-centric world and recent attacks.  As always, they ‘attacked’ the network but the target was the data.  For example: 

CryptoLocker, having breached your network security, is an attack on data at rest (think – the dog didn’t just delete my data; he re-wrote it in an indecipherable language.)

Edward Snowden didn’t sneak into a filing room to take covert pictures of paper documents – he simply downloaded 20,000 documents onto memory sticks without leaving a trace.

Take ATMs, thousands of security experts focus on keeping the cash in the ATMs until such time as an authorised user (you and me) asked for our bit of it.  But by exploiting the short lifetime of encrypted data in transit, hackers at this year’s Black Hat security conference have managed to convert an ATM into a very generous slot machine.

And then of course there is Project Sauron…

For a long time security has been a network-centric challenge (control access to an increasingly vague perimeter).  But if you step back and look at the bigger picture; it’s not about access, but rather it’s about the ‘stuff’ (aka data).  By taking a data-centric view; you can redefine how you think about security as it’s really only vulnerable in three states:

At Rest:  On whatever media, data at rest is vulnerable to being accessed through channels other than those anticipated
In Transit: During transit data is vulnerable to redirection and interception
In Use:  Applications are vulnerable to being fooled into disclosing information using techniques such as SQL Injection and Cross-Site Scripting

With this in mind, securing your data becomes less about an ever increasing arms race to deploy better and better network protection; and instead becomes a more considered response.  Put simply: Encrypt all data at rest, deploy micro-segmentation technologies to prevent interception, and use technologies (in the case of our solutions, from Citrix Systems) to centralise and then secure the delivery of applications and data.

At Cetus Solutions we take a strongly data-centric viewpoint.  If you bake in data security in a way that protects data in each of the three states above then, for the most part, you can stop worrying about the borders/perimeter; and instead build an inherently secure, data-centric infrastructure.  What’s more, by simplifying and standardising how users gain access to sensitive data, you can make their lives much easier as well.  Never a bad thing that.

Anyway, I must go – my bank just emailed asking me to follow a link to confirm my PIN number and password, and I’d hate to keep them waiting…

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PS – That’s my dog – his name is Charlie.

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Cetus launch new website


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Welcome. Our new website is a statement. A reflection of our people, our customers, our business and the love of what we do. We’ve compiled a thought provoking résumé of Cetus Solutions and the experiences we have enjoyed over the last fifteen years. Here we will deliver thought leadership, stimulating news, facts and innovation.

“We’re a team of amazing people who strive for excellence for our customers.” said Mike English, Managing Director. “Business is challenging every day, our enthusiasm is borne from designing and delivering the solutions to your problems.”

“As Cetus progress within our fast paced industry, our new website is a proud reflection of our commitment to our customers and partners alike.” continued Mike.

Our journey is far from complete.
#InspireTransformTogether

For further information please contact marketing@cetus-solutions.com

 

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The Shrinking Safari Park


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We recently gathered to review our business strategy (please don’t press ‘back’ – this isn’t an article about business strategy!) and during our review of the trials and tribulations of our competitors and partners; an image came into my head. I imagined a vast safari park, filled with lush vegetation and inhabited by a diverse, well fed population of animals. As is the case, predators would occasionally make a kill, however balance was maintained because all the animals had space and food. All in all a functional ecosystem is maintained.

I then imagined the safari park shrinking; forcing the animals closer and closer together. As the perimeter closes in, the inhabitants are forced to compete over an ever diminishing food and water supply. How might this safari park look after one, two, five or ten years?

When I joined Cetus 10 years ago the technology landscape was vast. Cetus operated largely in the area of “Infrastructure Solutions Provider”; and all was good. We were, of course, aware of other ‘beasts’ who operated in the wider sphere of IT such as; telephony companies, data centre providers and application developers. Our task then was simple; maintain our focus on delivering transformational data centre and end-user computing projects; whilst seeking to incorporate the latest generation of innovations from the likes of Citrix, VMware and Cisco.

But over the intervening years the pace of change has dramatically changed. When coupled with ever shrinking IT budgets; organisations like us must learn to live with the very real threat of extinction.

Why?
Take VMware for example. As one of the first VMware partners in the UK some 15 years ago, we were able to adopt and become experts in this new technology. We did this over, maybe, 3 years; and we’ve now enjoyed the benefits of this partnership for some 15 years.

Contrast this with the storage marketplace over recent years. Back in the time of plenty before the financial crisis hit in 2008, new companies sprouted up on an almost weekly basis, using venture capital to launch exciting new flash-based storage products. But now, less than 10 years later, many of those companies are disappearing in front of our eyes, as a result of newer hyperconverged technology swallowing up their intended market.

Meanwhile our competitive ecosystem is changing. Now, you can sell Office 365 licenses and, hey presto, you’ve just sold SharePoint and Skype for Business, running on Azure; removing the opportunity for another specialist partner (with whom we’ve never previously competed) to provide complimentary telephony and SharePoint services. Unintended consequences? Maybe. Or, you might argue, you’ve saved the client money by simplifying and consolidating their infrastructure.

My choice of Office 365 as an example was somewhat deliberate. Behind the name sits a perfect example of the pervasive nature of ‘the Cloud’. By leveraging a simple productivity suite licence choice, Microsoft are land grabbing a huge slice of the infrastructure space. Where previously the likes of us would have sold and implemented the supporting Exchange and Windows file server infrastructure; we now simply hand this element over to Microsoft to absorb into their Azure infrastructure.

So what is life-like in our ‘shrinking safari park’? We’re seeing competitors and vendors facing four stark choices: stagnate (go extinct), go bust (go extinct very quickly), merge (seek safety in herds) or be agile (Darwinian survival).

It’s not a very relaxing space to be: if you rest on your laurels for any significant time you’ll end up as prey. It is, however, one of the most exciting and invigorating times to be working in IT, and the team here at Cetus are all acutely aware that our survival lies in our ability to remain relevant to our clients.

 

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#CitrixPartnerLove is accelerating the growth of transformational IT solutions across the UK


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Earlier this year, at Citrix’s partner conference there was an overwhelming theme of #CitrixPartnerLove throughout – and that hashtag is certainly not going away! Today, Citrix has announced changes to their partner programme which as a result will enable Cetus to provide an increasing amount of value to our customers.

The latest changes reflect Citrix and Cetus’ joint ambition to transform the way that mid-market businesses work. “Over the last 15 years, Cetus has seen a growth in the traction of transformational IT solutions to mid-market customers. We envisage that this next wave of improvements to Citrix’s partner programme will accelerate our ability to help more UK customers solve the challenges they face around virtualization, mobility management and networking.”Explained Claire Gibson, Head of Marketing at Cetus Solutions. “The programme will enable us to take a compelling commercial offering to our customers, whilst continuing to do what we do best – transform the way people work.”

Cetus has provided transformation solutions for many customers, including Sunderland City Council. Sunderland engage Cetus when seeking to improve the way they delivered public services whilst reducing costs and encouraging economic growth in the region. 

“Sunderland City Council required a dynamic and efficient infrastructure that could create a cutting edge, service-oriented IT environment within the council, as well as supporting local businesses with scalable, on demand IT services.” Claire elaborated “At the same time, the council needed to create an infrastructure that adhered to strict governmental IT security standards, retaining governance of information and intelligence.”

Reflecting on the success of the project, Sarah Reed, Assistant Chief Executive at Sunderland City Council mentioned “We’ve transformed an entire community with leading-edge technology, driving innovation and streamlining communication.”

“The enhancements to the partner programme over the past year – in Citrix specialisations – has made it easy for customers to identify Citrix partners with the level of competence and expertise required to successfully implement a transformational solution across multiple technologies.” Said Claire Gibson. “The latest changes to the partner program will enable us to increase our investment in helping more mid-market businesses transform their IT and experience the results like Sunderland City Council”.

This year, Cetus was recognised by Citrix with the “Outstanding Achievement” award, for not only being one of a handful of the UK’s Platinum Partners, but also one of the first organisations globally to achieve the elite ‘Citrix Specialisations’ across all four disciplines for technical training and competence.

Mark Beaumont, Head of Channel, Northern Europe at Citrix commented: “I’m delighted to recognise Cetus Solutions, winner of the outstanding achievement award at this year’s Citrix Partner Accelerator event. This award demonstrates Cetus’ continued commitment to Citrix, and adds to recent success in securing all four Citrix specialisation accreditations.” 

“Smart partnering is vital to Citrix’s success, so it is really important that we highlight the amazing contributions that partners such as Cetus Solutions have made – from managing the sales cycle to designing and implementing cutting-edge digital transformation projects.”

#CitrixPartnerLove is here to stay.

 

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Microsoft WPC: Day 1


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From the very outset of today’s opening keynote at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) the notion of making computing personal resonated, with Cortana introducing the journey that Microsoft has been on over the past twelve months prior to Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, even stepping foot onto the stage.

Microsoft’s vision remains unchanged; to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more, however what is apparent from today’s keynote is the role in which Microsoft, and partners, are playing in empowering businesses across the world to achieve digital transformation.

Often, I find the term ‘digital transformation’ over-used, a buzz-term that lacks any sense of meaning other than ‘transform your business using our technology.’ Today, I heard Microsoft’s definition and it’s one that I like a lot; it’s not monolithic and closed business application packages that take half a decade to customise and deploy, and another for employees to begrudgingly learn how to use. When Microsoft speak of digital transformation reference systems that requires a level of intelligence tailored to the individual business and users – systems that have the ability to learn, expand and evolve as the world and business changes.

Together with their partners, Microsoft are focused on enabling businesses to experience the subsequent benefits that come from fundamentally changing business outcomes, empowering employees to make better decisions, optimising business operations and ensuring that every business process is intelligent within their digitally empowered organisations.

After hearing from many CEO’s around the world about what digital transformation means for their business, Nadella summarised suggesting “Leadership in today’s age is about driving successful change” After which, he went on to unveil three of Microsoft’s focus areas surrounding digital transformation, to ensure that together, we are able to support customers in successfully driving and implementing change within their respective businesses.

Reinvent productivity and business processes
Within the keynote, and within this blog, Nadella discussed how by removing the barriers between productivity tools and business applications, we are able to support our customers in reinventing business processes whilst taking a people-centric and platform-centric approach – meaning that IT are able to deliver what the user wants and needs in order to work productivity in context to their role, from a platform that will drive lucrative business outcomes. 

Enable computing to be more personal
There is a clear focus on making computing more personal and to an extent combining both digital and physical experiences to drive better outcomes. A great example of this was shown in relation to the cognitive services Microsoft have developed. During the demo, Nadella showed how a speech algorithm has been created to transform McDonald’s’ drive-through experience – something simple, yet very cool and a clear improvement to business processes for McDonalds.

When looking at personal computing no digital transformation outcome is going to be complete without having the right device at the edge. There was evidence again that Windows 10 is not just a device operating system for a single device, it is an operating system for use across all devices. And for the first time ever, I saw a HoloLens being demoed in a way that served a purpose within a real business environment – showing it as a mixed reality training tool for an aircraft engineer. Again, this was a great demonstration of how technology is changing, and benefitting organisations around the world who are deciding to go digital.

Build out the intelligent cloud 
Finally, the third focus for Microsoft was very much to build the intelligent cloud platform to take advantage of scalability and flexibility, combined with the power of intelligence and security. The ability to connect all your solutions whether it be Office 365, Dynamics 365, alongside Microsoft Azure and third-party technologies to provide an unparalleled cloud platform.

Reflecting back to the start, Nadella asked the question “What if we could personally stitch together and connect disparate worlds and processes… bring them together seamlessly?” In the pursuit for digital transformation, technologies are leveraged to drive change and achieve business outcomes, and different teams need to be engaged to create heightened value and tailored intelligence associated with digital transformation. This is where Microsoft partners like Cetus Solutions can help customers accelerate their time to value and drive the adoption of transformational IT solutions that piece together to create a seamless solution for users – and as a result, fulfilling Microsoft’s vision to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.

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