Cetus Solutions

Blog, Cetus Solutions, Citrix, IT Solutions, News, Technology, Uncategorized

IPEXPO 2018: A Newbie’s Perspective


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As part of the marketing department, I’m privy to a lot of the cool and interesting things we at Cetus get ourselves into. From Christmas parties to our workshops, and everything in between, I hear of all the things we do- sometimes I can’t sleep from the excitement (though that could be from the coffee I’m drip-fed in the office). So when I popped into an IPEXPO organising meeting last month I didn’t think too much of it. IPEXPO is a utopia for all things IT solutions, cloud solutions, cyber security…. If it has something to do with running the IT in your organisation, there will be a company there with more experience and knowledge than you could possibly need. We’ve been exhibiting at IPEXPO since 2011, so it’s something that I’d heard about since I started at Cetus in February. I piped up with the mandatory odd line to justify my presence while I practiced my ‘I’m-totally-contributing-to-this-conversation’ face as I fell into standby mode. That was, until Mike English, our Managing Director, mentioned something about blogs. That rebooted me up real fast. It was with shock, horror, and a tiny bit of excitement that my name was etched on the list to go to the event.

That excitement faded away completely as I stood in the middle of Euston Station. My first ever time in London (I’m a poor girl hauled out of the Irish countryside) and I was not prepared for it. People, everywhere. They swarmed around me, dragging behind suitcases and children alike, totally oblivious of the commotion that was ripping through my mind. I very nearly pulled a sickie there and then, but for the fact that I’d already let the Marketing Head know that I was on the train into London. Bugger. But Euston wasn’t even the worst part. It was dragging myself and five kilos of ‘just in case’ pages of collateral all the way to the ExCeL convention centre on the edge of the city. And I was going to have to use the transportation of nightmares that makes men cry, brakes souls and causes couples to break; The Tube. To be honest, the worst was just finding my way around King’s Cross as I tried to figure out where to buy a ticket, and what constituted the difference between the train and the Tube entrances. I was a human Sim character for about 20 minutes, wandering around in circles trying to figure out why I was there and how to get out.

Two hours*, a packed Tube and a cheerful Twirl bar later, I found myself at ExCeL. It’s a marvellous, imposing building, shoved at what feels like the other end of the world. If I thought Euston station was bad, I was in for a bigger shock. The convention space was packed with nerds as far as the eye could see. And the place was incredible. Flashing lights, red carpets- I felt like I was in Hollywood. The elaborate stands were stocked full of toothy smiles, chocolates, pens, and enough collateral to build the DLR line all the way back to Euston. And the room was massive.

I waded through the throng of matching t-shirts and rucksacks, trying to find my way to the Citrix Partner Zone to find our stand. We were delighted to be displaying alongside Citrix again this year, especially with the introduction of our new instrato brand. With instrato, we work with Citrix and Microsoft Azure to revolutionise the journey to the cloud. We were even more excited to introduce our new project to the thousands of delegates that were in attendance, getting to chat with them and see how instrato could make their cloud journey simpler. And when I finally rocked up to the stand, it was clear that it was catching the eye of plenty of people. Thank god the girls had all bought matching blouses in Cetus purple, it made them so much easier to spot in the crowd that had manifested.

This year, we were especially excited to have a speaker at the event. In April, we won the highly fought-after Lewisham and Greenwich NHS tender. It’s a big deal for us at Cetus, one of the most prestigious projects we’ve ever taken on. Six months later and we’ve well and truly sunk our teeth into it. With healthcare IT hugely under-reported on, it made sense to introduce the instrato project in the theatre. Thankfully, I had made it just in time for our speaker slot, held in the App Virtualisation & Mobile Workspaces Theatre, which was just behind our stand. As always, our Business Development Director, Paul Kiveal, gave a brief introduction to Cetus and instrato, as relaxed and well-spoken in front of the packed theatre as he is during team meetings. As much as Paul could have detailed what benefits and improvements we are delivering to the NHS, he handed the reins over to Justin Beardsmore, Chief Technology Officer for the Lewisham and Greenwich Trust, who was more than happy to talk in depth about the project and why the Trust chose to work with us. Impeccably dressed, he stood at the top of the lecture theatre watching the chairs getting filled up as delegates made their way in.

An experienced senior technology leader, Justin captivated the audience with the situation of the NHS and what we are doing to improve the lives of not only the working staff, but also the patients that rely on the service. Justin went into detail about the community NHS staff, those incredible people who work remotely to provide a top-tier healthcare service to patients who aren’t able, or don’t need, to attend hospital. As you can imagine, the paperwork and procedures that has to be completed for each patient, regardless of location, can really pile up, so an innovative solution has to be sought.

It was a quick and captivating 30 minutes, and it was a delight to see delegates coming up to Paul and Justin after the lecture for their know-how and suggestions for their own projects. Our stand was swamped directly after the lecture as well, whispers of our successful lecture having spread around the convention, and everyone wanted to find out more about our exciting Citrix-Azure-instrato partnership. Essentially a human lump of a paperweight at the stand, I decided against striking up conversations with delegates and scaring them away with my limited IT knowledge. I played ‘undercover blogger’ and wandered around the convention, popping into cybersecurity lectures and avoiding eye contact with everyone I met (god forbid I get kicked out for being too stupid).

Alas, it was only too soon before I got the dreaded ‘let’s go make our way to the Tube :)’ text and had to say goodbye to the ExCeL centre. Weary that our beds were still another six hours away, we piled into the Tube (why on earth is it so short?) along with hundreds of other delegates who decided rush hour was the prime time to leave before they came back again the next day to do it all over again.

Did you go to IPEXPO this year? We hope you managed to pop by our stand for a chat (I swear, everyone else is extremely intelligent and knowledgeable in IT) and found out more about instrato and what exciting projects we have planned. If you didn’t make it to London, or just didn’t have the chance to come say hi, we still have the same experts (minus Justin, I’m afraid) on-hand to talk through your upcoming projects, and they’re easily available here. As for us, we’re going back to the drawing board to start planning for next year, can’t wait to see you there.

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*It took me two hours because I can’t read CityMapper and I refuse to ask for directions. It should only take 30 to 40 minutes.

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, IT Solutions, News, Technology, Uncategorized

instrato or Lexus?


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Toyota is the world’s second largest automotive manufacturer, and in 2017 was standing as the fifth largest global company by revenue. So why did such a successful company create another totally new brand – Lexus, in a highly saturated and ultra-competitive marketplace?

Lexus was an idea from the Japanese car manufacturer, not to enter a new diverse market sector, but to show the world just how good they are at manufacturing high-quality vehicles, appealing to both existing and new customers alike. They believed they needed a fresh, more relevant brand which was built on their already trusted and proven heritage, a brand which appealed to a wider audience with perhaps a different use case. Strangely, many didn’t regard Toyota as a world-leading brand, so this perception had to change.

Toyota responded to their customers, bringing together many years of success, quality, experience and proven customer satisfaction in an exciting, new, forward-thinking premium brand.

We live in the Cloud-era; not a day goes by without the word Cloud in whatever context. We see large multi-national vendors placing their ‘cloud-bets’ with their entire reputation. I guess if they are, well it must be good, right?! I’d rather test such a theory, so we did and have been for several years… We’ve also seen a flurry of the new kids on the block, ‘born in the cloud’ they say! Such organisations claiming to harness the power of the public cloud, yet with limited experience and actual solution design heritage. Why would an organisation place all their commercial eggs in a basket of hope?!

Here at Cetus, we have been designing, building, implementing and supporting infrastructure solutions for almost twenty years and haven’t times changed eh, especially in our industry?! Cetus adopted Cloud strategies many years ago and have successfully built and run our own private cloud platform – Continuum C3 for over six years now for our customers; the public cloud providers were not the appropriate choice for this, not back then anyway, but watch this space…

Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS and Google Cloud are the alleged leaders today, the weapons of choice one may say.

As a true Solutions-House, Cetus actively respond to customers challenges and market forces, and we too must place our bets! Our solution stack is so, by design, a well-developed and focused set of products and solutions to drive business outcomes and address real business challenges. Enter stage right, the Public Cloud to our strategic catalogue and its time to refresh our thoughts!

Instrato is Cetus’s new fresh and relevant approach in the journey to the Cloud, ‘on-point’ and developed with a focused set of technologies, capitalising and leveraging Cloud Infrastructure combined with Cetus’s experienced 17-year heritage in delivering successful customer solutions. Cetus have delivered successful public cloud projects which, combined with the Cetus Team’s knowledge and experience, set us apart from many ‘new to the cloud’ organisations. “Real, proven and trusted experience is hard to find…” states a valued Cetus customer.

Instrato redefines Cetus’s approach to your journey to the cloud and the ultimate goal of SaaS. Instrato is a compelling set of technologies and solutions which, akin to Cetus, deliver on our proven experience and knowledge to assist customers into the world of the cloud. “We’re proudly letting the market know we have deep and unparalleled experience in the world of cloud computing, combining our years of infrastructure solution success to deliver to our customers” says Colleen O’Brien, Head of Marketing at Cetus.

So here we have it!
Instrato builds on our heritage and experience of listening to customers, designing successful solutions and delivering business outcomes by adopting and integrating Cloud and SaaS technologies! Experience counts…

This is a strange blog for me, this time I am discussing and marketing a fresh, new and exciting brand, Instrato, but just think about that should you step into a Lexus; it may be new but its built-on years of experience and proven success, wouldn’t you want that underpinning your business decisions in such a competitive world?
C’mon in instrato!
Find out more at hello@instrato.co.uk and visit www.instrato.co.uk

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, Press Release, Technology, Uncategorized

Cetus Has The Solutions!


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The MSN Circuit Rally Championship in association with MSVR, featuring the Michelin Cup and the Protyre Challenge is delighted to announce an exciting new sponsorship with Cetus Solutions which sees them installed as the Official Technology Partner for the 2018-19 Championship season.

Now entering its fourth year, the MSN Circuit Rally Championship has teamed up with rallying competitor and fan Mike English and his Cetus Solutions brand. Cetus design and build large scale network infrastructure solutions for larger companies, delivering secure application and data platforms.

As part of the partnerships, the Cetus Solutions logo will appear on all official MSN Rally Championship media and all new vehicle decal packs and, provide vital support to the championship as it expands its media and technology reach to bring the very best media coverage to all competitors.

Darren Spann, Championship co-ordinator, enthused: “I’m delighted to form this partnership with Cetus Solutions, it will help us maintain and improve our technology reach to keep us at the forefront of national rallying.”

Mike English Managing Director of Cetus Solutions commented:   “It’s an honour to be associated with the MSN Rally Championship and offer our support. The championship, now in its 4th year has a fantastic nationwide following and, is one of the most competitive series in the UK. We are delighted to be supporting this year’s championship.”

The sponsorship with Cetus Solutions is the companies first foray into Championship sponsorship, having sponsored the Cetus Stages at the Three Sisters Circuit for a number of years. With owner Mike English and Co-driver Andy Robinson signed up to compete in the championship, Mike sees it as the perfect partnership to get his brand out there and support the UK’s premier circuit rallying championship.

The news of the new partnership comes hot on the heels of entries opening for its fourth season, with registrations now open. Alongside a revamped Michelin Cup and a brand-new TV deal, there is much to look forward during the 2018-19 season.

The Championship kicks off in November with the Neil Howard Stages at Oulton Park, before heading to Cadwell Park and Knockhill Circuit before Christmas 2018. Resuming in January 2019, the Championship heads to Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Donington Park and Anglesey before returning to Cadwell Park for its finale in April 2019. Full dates are available on our website.

2018-19 MSN Circuit Rally Championship in association with MSVR, feat the Michelin Cup and the Protyre Challenge Calendar

  • Rd1 – 3 November 2018 – Neil Howard Stages in association with Graham Coffey & Co. Solicitors, Oulton Park.
  • Rd 2 – 18 November 2018 – North Humberside Motor Club Cadwell Park Stages. Cadwell Park.
  • Rd 3 – 8-9 December 2018 – Knockhill Stages. Knockhill.
  • Rd 4 – 19 January 2019 – Brands Hatch Stages. Brands Hatch.
  • Rd 5 – 16 February 2019 – Snetterton Stages. Snetterton.
  • Rd 6 – 3 March 2019 – Donington Rally. Donington Park.
  • Rd 7 – 17 March 2019 – Lee Holland Rally. Anglesey.
  • Rd 8 – 7 April 2019 – Cadwell Stages. Cadwell Park.

 

*All events subject to MSA approval.

Photo Credit: SMJ Photography

Further details on season four and the current season are available from the championship web site www.msnrallychamp.co.uk

For further detail on Cetus Solutions, please visit www.cetus-solutions.com

For further details about MSVR, please visit www.msvracing.com or www.msnrallychamp.co.uk 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, Check Point, Cloud, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

Cyber Criminals are at Gen-V; Are You?


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Since the dawn of the internet, we’ve learned that keeping our sensitive information under lock and key is important. Even more so nowadays, with the explosion of ecommerce asking for everything short of your National Insurance number. And nine times out of ten you can choose to save your card details for the next time you’re feeling too lazy to get out of bed to grab your wallet. If you really think about it, that’s probably not the best thing to do. But while putting our bank accounts at risk, you’d expect big corporations who have entire qualified, skilled and experienced IT teams to have a handle on their security, right?

Oh boy, could you be any more wrong. In a recent CheckPoint survey, 97% of the organisations that were assessed were not prepared for a Gen-V cyber attack. The thing is, cyber-attacks and security protections have evolved significantly in the last 30 years, but not at equal levels. Currently, organisations are at Gen-III. We fell into Gen-III in the early 2000s, when attackers learned to leverage vulnerabilities in the components of an IT infrastructure. This includes operating systems, hardware and applications. A fantastic example was the SQLSlammer worm. Since then, Gen-IV has emerged in 2010 as cyber criminals became more sophisticated, targeting the world of finance, where sandboxing and anti-bot were the main protections.

Back in 2017, the dreaded Gen-V cyber attack made a roaring entrance with the world-shattering WannaCry ransomware attack. We’re looking at large-scale, multi-vector attacks, using uber-sophisticated attack tools. It’s safe to say that we’re not in Kansas anymore. These attacks are major, generally using ‘state-sponsored’ technologies that can target networks across countries, companies and even continents. Cyber criminals are getting their hands on these technologies from simple leaks or as a result of reverse engineering, and cause major reputational damage for the organisations affected.

So what can be done? The risk of a security threat is omnipresent. No matter what you do, your organisation will be exposed in one way or another (unless you favour the slate-and-chalk method of working).

Check Point’s Infinity is one of the best ways to handle the stress of cyber security. Focusing on prevention instead of detection, it’s a hyper-aware platform that provides consolidated security across networks, cloud and mobile. Combining a single security platform, pre-emptive threat protection capabilities and a unified system for management. With the release of R80.10, it features plenty of clever capabilities and enhancements which include unique policy layers, security multi-zones and boosted performance, to ensure security management. With the move to cloud earmarked for most organisations, the integrated Check Point vSEC Cloud Security’s comprehensive portfolio integrates with both private and public cloud platforms, so you’re covered regardless of your cloud preferences.

Infinity also boasts an impressive threat prevention in the form of anti-ransomware technology that enables businesses to remain protected against even the most sophisticated ransomware and cyber extortion. If your organisation is big into mobile (whose isn’t?), SandBlast mobile has the intelligence to detect both known and unknown malware, effectively blocking it before it becomes a problem. You’ll never have to worry about poisoned wi-fi networks, ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks or SMS phishing. There are so many nifty features of Infinity that make it a clever investment for an organisation, no matter its size. Centre stage, it has centralised management and role-based administration that allows it to apply to all organisation use cases.

Gen-V will certainly not be the last upgrade in cyber security. As technology improves, expanding and intruding into more and more of our lives, the sophistication of cyber criminals will progress just as fast. It won’t be long until I’m writing about a major Gen-VI cyber-attack and its implications affecting another group of international organisations. So now is the time to start getting ahead of the hackers. We work hand-in-hand with Check Point to ensure that your infrastructure is at the highest level of cyber security so you don’t need to worry about that.

Speak to an expert

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, Cloud, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, Our Upcoming Events, Technology, Uncategorized

Hybrid Cloud Orchestration pt 2: Hyperconvergence


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And we’re back! Who’s ready for Hybrid Cloud Orchestration part two?? If you’re not in the know (hey, we have a handy Twitter that you can follow to keep up to date with all of our blog posts), I was challenged a couple of weeks back to write a blog post on the elusive topic of hybrid cloud orchestration. After some grumbling, hair-pulling and half the day chain smoking in the sunshine, I finally got into the mood*. Surprisingly, orchestration wasn’t something completely made up by one of our alabaster techies who live in the server room**. It is an actual thing, and it’s a cool one too. I got a bit too excited with it and decided that splitting it into two posts would be nicer for everyone involved. So here we go, hybrid cloud orchestration and hyperconvergence. Go grab a coffee/tea, sit back and do try to contain your excitement.

Quick flashback to part one (for those of you who didn’t do your homework- I see you); in a nutshell, hybrid cloud orchestration is the answer to complexity. Too many sheep, not enough fences is the basic idea. Cloud enablement, if you want something more technical. More organisation, less panicking. Your IT team just needs to throw single sign on, MFA, mobility management and automated hybrid cloud provisioning at it and the complexity should all go away. Kind of. I’d recommend having a chat with one of our experts before you go throw anything anywhere though.

So, what’s the story with hyperconvergence? It’s a fairly new trend, combining compute, storage and networking in a software-driven appliance. Like orchestration, its main goal is to reduce complexity, so they’re a match made in heaven, really. It also adds greater levels of automation. The thing with orchestration is that with time it can be moulded into an effective solution. Hyperconvergence is a bit more elegant, providing practical solutions for organisations who want to manage and scale their own hardware from in-house. Don’t get me wrong, hybrid cloud orchestration is amazing. I don’t know why every IT solutions organisation doesn’t employ someone to shout it from the rooftops. However, while it is fantastic, it doesn’t provide the same level of technical infrastructure as hyperconvergence.

When it comes to the private cloud bit of hybrid cloud; hyperconvergence is another way approaching hybrid cloud orchestration. It eliminates the need for local hypervisor maintenance, or thinking about the hardware compatibility by installing on metal. It allows the customer to manage their local resources just like any other cloud resource, while also abolishing the need for disordered orchestration tools that are scattered across your infrastructure. Combining orchestration and hyperconvergence reduces time-intensive deployments for your engineers, removing the issue of virtualisation compatibility between old and new hardware.

If talking cloud and hyperconvergence excites you, make sure to have a chat with out HCI-mad experts!

*Grumbling, hair pulling and chain smoking is for comedic effect, I LOVE MY JOB!
**I’m running out of techie stereotypes, sorry.

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

Blog, Cetus Solutions, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

Hidden Costs and How to Avoid Them


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I was hit by a ‘hidden’ car once. I’d just dropped my daughter off at nursery and was turning right onto the main road, when I was unexpectedly hit by a car that was ‘hiding’ behind a bus. Dramatic stuff.

Having swapped insurance details I pondered how to explain the incident to my insurance company. I was pretty sure that my ‘hidden car’ explanation would be received with a degree of scepticism; mostly because the car wasn’t hidden – it was obscured, and I should have checked properly.

And so it is with ‘hidden costs’. They’re not usually hidden; instead they’re more usually obscure, unanticipated or, perhaps, buried within so much legal jargon that only a very diligent artificial intelligence program would find them. They can include: cloud network costs, annual software subscriptions, unexpected dependencies on other technologies and consumption-based pricing – to name but a few.

So, let’s start by renaming this blog to: “How to anticipate, mitigate and manage obscure, poorly correlated, unclear or unexpected costs”. That’s more like it.
We’ve been helping clients to, erm … anticipate, mitigate and manage obscure, poorly correlated, unclear or unexpected costs for over 17 years now; and we’ve learned a few things in the process. Here are a few simple steps that can help you to do the same:

Build a ‘Real World’ Business Case
Most vendors will be able to point you to their own ‘TCO/ROI Tool’. You know the drill: enter some statistics about how much you pay people and, as if by magic, their product will save you money.

That’s not how we do it. We work with clients to produce a real-world business case that reflects their circumstances; identifies all real (i.e. saveable) costs; and turns their business objectives into a technology set that delivers on these. The result is a highly personalised business case that can be used internally to engage stakeholders at all levels.

Avoid Vendor Lock-In
Choose technology vendors who embrace the principle of open systems; who recognise that their technology alone will not be the answer to all of your problems. By choosing the right technology partner, you can retain control of how you deploy significant elements of your infrastructure solution as circumstances change. Take Citrix for example: they work with partners, such as Microsoft, to ensure that their products are able to integrate, and to be optimised post implementation; allowing their clients to react to changing business requirements as the years unfold.

Make Optimisation a BAU Activity
3 years is a very long time in today’s IT landscape. Decisions made at the outset of a project can be out of date before implementation has even started. From new hardware releases to Microsoft’s constantly changing Azure server instance portfolio; it’s important to prioritise your ability to adopt change as a routine business as usual activity. If you’re not optimising the configuration of your infrastructure then you’re vulnerable to unanticipated costs.

At Cetus, we offer solution lifecycle services that encompass all of the above: our design, implementation, support and ongoing management services allow you to relax, safe in the knowledge that no ‘hidden’ costs will derail your IT or business strategies. Why not give us a call and find out how we can help you to plan your IT future with confidence?

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Blog, Cetus Solutions, Citrix, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

When a User Leaves


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(Potential) door slamming, cardboard boxing, silent goodbyes; it can be a bit dramatic when an employee leaves the business. Even on good, moving-on-to-better-things terms, it can take its toll. Writing up job descriptions, endless interviews, the empty desk. There’s lots to do when the ex-employee closes the door. And that’s all well and good, but what about the IT side of things? It’s not simply a case of handing over a laptop and starting anew. Without realising it, you would be watching not only a good friend walk out the door, but a security breach too. A walking, talking security breach. Imagine the nightmare. With BYOD becoming more and more popular, you don’t know what devices they were using to work or what data they have stored where. Let’s be honest, if it wasn’t a stressful situation before, the recent enforcement of GDPR has only made it worse. And it’s not like you can ask them to take out all of their devices and go through all of their files, contacts and photos. The desk would be covered in personal and company phones and laptops, USBs, the company iPad and the slightly sicky, sort-of cracked personal iPad that has every indication of a child being given it to play with during a moment of parental weakness. There would be drama for the water cooler. Or, as we call it in the UK; the Hallway Stop n’ Chat. So, what should be done when a user leaves?

Regardless of how an employee leaves, they’re going to walk away with something. Whether it’s your business practices, how you like your coffee, or behind what book Lorna hides her chocolate, something’s going to go. In this scenario, it’s a case of looking at what’s sensitive and what’s not (Lorna needs a hiding place rota regardless). Back in the day, people would slip files into their briefcases and quickly waltz out the door, whereas nowadays it’s quick and easy just to copy a digital file, and none will be the wiser.

Before there’s even chats about Having Been Here Too Damn Long or the more popular I’ve Wasted My 20s At This Desk, it’s best to prepare for the worst. And even more so if you have, or are thinking of establishing, a BYOD policy at work. Start with an extensive, written BYOD policy. Sounds easy, but I promise you that it’s not.

Treat it more like a software development project- compile ‘what if’ scenarios. Include some ‘beta testing’; a period of time to review real-life situations before handing in the final copy. A few things to consider, since there is 100% going to be the office eejit that will take the mickey; ‘acceptable business use’ is just as important as the limits of ‘acceptable personal use’- you just know some yob is going to be playing Candy Crush if they find even the tiniest loophole. Decide what kind of apps you don’t mind being downloaded, and what apps you most certainly do. What company resources (think email, calendars and so on) is acceptable to have access to on a personal device? Obviously, harassing people on company time on a company device is a no-no, just make sure everyone else knows. Same goes with texting or emailing while driving. Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how much it isn’t to some people. Think security; what security requirements are needed before being allowed to connect to company networks? What happens of the device is lost or stolen? At this point, you may as well bookmark this post to come back to after doing the above. I’ll wait. Now that you have your policy defined – how do you enforce it? We use Citrix XenMobile and Citrix ShareFile to provide a centralised, single point of management for our mobile devices.

Right, with that niggly bit out of the way, let’s look at monitoring. Not the breach-of-privacy looking-over-shoulders kind of monitoring that will definitely end in tears and a lawsuit, monitoring where your data is going. That sounds much less dramatic. It is time for your IT department to shine. Set up shared company file servers for starters. There are plenty on the market, but I can say from experience that Citrix Sharefile is the best one (that’s mostly because it’s so simple even I can use it). With these file servers, make sure to set up protocols, such as who can access what files and how. With ease, IT can now monitor who is accessing those files and when. Likewise, copying anything from the company server onto a company or personal device is logged. Local devices are cool, until they’re riddled with company data. A big help in not letting too much data get downloaded is knowing the ins and outs of the applications and services that your users use. What kind of liberties do these apps allow? A central repository that can be monitored is a really good idea, adding a layer of security to company networks.

According to a report from Osterman Research, 67% of organisations don’t know if they can detect whether an employee is still accessing corporate resources. Think that’s bad? A whopping 76% can’t tell if a third party (like a contractor) has stopped working on their organisation’s systems and data. If that’s not scaring you, the thought of the fine for breaching GDPR because of some eejit who sees their chance and takes it should. But I’m not here to panic you (only a little, or you wouldn’t be reading all the way to the bottom). Like all well-established organisations, Cetus has had its fair share of employees leave for one reason or another (although thankfully far lower than the average tech company). Thankfully, we’re a team of experts that know exactly how to deal with it. If you haven’t sorted out some policies to prevent your sensitive data from walking out the door, make sure to have a chat with one of our experts. They’re only a phone call away and they’re sure to help you eliminate some of that stress.

We’ve helped hundreds of organisations to implement their mobility strategies and we’d love to share our experiences with you. We can provide everything to get you started from Business Case analysis (at no cost) to high level designs and implementation…

Speak to an expert

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, Cloud, Cloud Hosting, Technology, Uncategorized

Why Cloud Needs SD-WAN


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What a wonderful day it is when I get to write about two of my favourite things; cloud and SD-WAN. Both have been making quite a splash in the world of IT since their conception, but it’s only recently that they’ve been put together to create an easier transition to cloud.

Software-defined (that’s the SD part) wide area network (aaaand that’s the WAN part) is a particular application of software-defined networking (SDN- this is going to get complicated) technology that’s applied to WAN connections. The purpose of SD-WAN is to integrate every aspect and corner of an organisation. And cloud….well, it’s cloud. If you’ve managed to find this blog post without knowing what cloud is I think you may be lost. Try Googling ‘cat videos’ instead.

Cloud, cloud, cloud. IT departments just can’t get enough of it. And for obvious reasons; easier analytics, scalability, cheaper cost- I could spend all day going on about
how fabulous cloud is (and I have). It’s getting to the cloud that can be the problem.

Once upon a time, at the very beginning of the story of the internet, organisations would connect computers through an internal network to move data around the building. Then, with the ability to connect outside the building, came the problem. With business branches scattered across the globe, the ability to connect, share and collaborate has never been more important. But getting everything safely and securely from A to B can be an issue. Once you leave the confines of the building network, all bets are off. With the increase in cybercrime, the threat of sensitive information getting hacked, or- worse yet- having an unknown infiltrate the once-secure network through small gaps in your architecture becomes more likely.

The importance of the network might not always be clear. In fact, unless you really have enough time to sit and think about it, its purpose might never have crossed your mind. Being able to virtualise a number of network functions from a central point, creating an abstraction layer that is custom-built for each organisation and each user is the ultimate goal. But where does SD-WAN fit into all this? It’s been said that SD-WAN will be the vehicle to bring virtualisation to the network, and without it, virtualisation to the cloud or data centre will never be achieved. Think about it, in this day and age we live and work on the edge of the cloud. It’s not a fad, it’s here to stay. But what exactly is the ‘cloud’? Nothing more than several computers, storage and plenty of cooling systems that all connect together to the outside.

Digital transformation has become another big thing in the last few years. Organisations are falling over themselves to adopt or transition to this mass integration into all areas of their business, fundamentally changing the way they operate and deliver value to their customers. But all of these new ways of doing and thinking can’t be built on foundations that were designed and created well before the idea of cloud. SD-WAN allows a more agile take on digital transformation, creating a cost-effective infrastructure that enables the leverage for cloud. With this level of agility, sites and their teams are easier than ever to support, and it’s all thanks to SD-WAN.

Additionally, traditional WAN architectures haven’t been designed to support the fast-changing consumption model of apps efficiently. Legacy WANs are past their sell-by date. Plagued from being MPLS-based with low bandwidth per site, with limited visibility and, crucially, not built for cloud, time is up. Under current legacy WANs, when a user needs to access an app in the cloud, they will do a sort of shuffle around until they hit it. This can lead to wasted bandwidth, extra costs and higher packet loss and latency. Under the traditional WAN model, organisations tend to not be able to afford them when management can be rigid, complex and cause network changes to be lengthy, All in all, it results in numerous inefficiencies and an expensive operation model. Finding the right SD-WAN solution will eliminate all of these issues, while supporting the new app consumption model. This basically means that policies can be defined based on business intent, resulting in steering traffic to where the app actually resides without having to take unnecessary shuffles or compromising on security.

In essence, SD-WAN is cloud’s best friend. And with cloud fast becoming the future of most organisations, it will be your best friend too. Provisioning for SD-WAN will not only make your move to cloud easier, but also more efficient. Contact us today to hear what we can do to help your transition to cloud, or book a free business case assessment to see how your IT environment can be improved.

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, Cloud, IT Solutions, Our Upcoming Events, Technology, Uncategorized

Hybrid Cloud Orchestration pt 1: How it Works


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What?
You’d be scratching your head with all the fancy terms in the techie world. There are terms for everything you could think of; and plenty more that, quite frankly, you wouldn’t. In today’s episode of ‘Enhancing Your Vocabulary to Look More Knowledgeable in Front of Your Boss’, we’re talking about the fun that is Hybrid Cloud Orchestration. What is it? We’re about to find out. Do you need to know? Probably not, but we may as well discuss it so you can use it as extravagant conversation filler during meetings.

In ‘Explain Like I’m Five’ terms, hybrid cloud orchestration is cloud enablement. Imagine a hill, on which there is a flock of sheep. They’re all wandering about like the happy fluffy things they are. One will die, another will wander over for the greener grass from another hill and join the flock. To anyone wandering around the countryside on a nice Sunday walk, they won’t see anything wrong. Sheep, check. Hill, check. Everything’s hunky-dory. To the shepherd though, it’s all panic systems go. The sheep are everywhere, they’re dying off, new ones are joining the flock and none of them are tagged. It’s a disaster. What the shepherd needs is a field, a couple of fences. Something small, contained and organised. In this story, in case you haven’t figured it out, the sheep are applications like Office 365, the hill walkers are the user and the poor, panicked shepherd is the IT department.

Essentially, cloud orchestration is organising all of your applications and data- whether they’re on premises, in Azure, in a separate Salesforce application or Office 365 cloud by themselves- and make them easier to manage. End users won’t notice any difference, but IT departments will basically spend the rest of their careers on an in-office holiday. Hooray! That being said, it doesn’t mean that your IT department will become defunct. While it is estimated that by 2020 the typical SMB organisation will have deployed over 75% of their business applications to SaaS, in-house IT will need to evolve to cope with a largely SaaS-based application estate. At the moment, your organisation is working on an average of 17 SaaS applications, but by 2020 you’re going to be looking at 20. That’s 20 SaaS applications that need to be set up, protected from unauthorised access and use, along with all the other day-to-day administration bits that go along with them. Sounds like a handful, doesn’t it? But with cloud orchestration, poof, and the problem disappears. Your IT department can resume discussing their theories on reprogramming people and how much they hate sunlight. Sorted.

Yes, but how does it work?
Good question, because who would take my word on the ability to just eliminate work like magic? We’re big fans of Citrix here at Cetus and instrato, and we’re even bigger fans of their industry-leading NetScaler ADC that we use to make cloud orchestration possible. It doesn’t matter what kind of mess you’ve made of your hybrid cloud architecture; with this deployment and our amazing team of solution architects, we can create a simple Software Defined Network (SDN) architecture that sorts it all out.
Single sign on. Simple, effective and what end users dream about. No need to faff about with forty different passwords that all go out of date at different times of the month; just one easy-to-remember sign on and now half the day isn’t wasted by everyone involved by constantly requesting new passwords.

MFA. I hate acronyms, but I like this one. Multi-factor authentication. No, it’s not the same as single sign on. It’s close enough, just with few more steps; something you know (i.e. your password), something you have (your smartphone, one-time passcode etc.) and something you are (your fingerprint, retina scan or voice recognition- how futuristic is that? Imagine starting your day like you’re in Minority Report).

Mobility management is essentially the behind-the-scenes of ‘mobile workspaces’. It’s the glue that connects the mobile end user to the in-house IT team, helping to get the right balance between actual mobility and freedom, and the security to allow that freedom. Users expect to be able to work from anywhere on any device, but this can be a real headache for the IT department, especially if there’s a BYOD culture in the office. Mobility management solutions help to reduce the amount of administration that’s required, along with improving security without needing to go through each and every device that the user intends to work with.

Automated hybrid cloud provisioning sounds way too complicated for something so simple. It’s basically an automation that manages the cost effectiveness of the cloud deployment. Imagine a workload on Azure. The automated hybrid cloud provisioning can intelligently monitor the workload, and automatically move it on-prem if it can see that it would be cheaper or faster. See, simples.

As this took far longer than I thought, and there’s just so much more to say about hybrid cloud orchestration, be on the lookout for a part two, where I’ll fill you in on orchestration and hyperconvergence. Does that not sound like the best fun?

Expect to hear more of hybrid cloud orchestration, it’s definitely going to become a big thing. The challenges associated with it don’t negate the usefulness of orchestration, and if you’re looking at- or already have- cloud it’s something you should seriously consider to help ease your organisation’s automation. Luckily, we’re experts when it comes to all things cloud, so these challenges are minor blips.

If you want to keep up-to-date with what’s going on with Citrix, make sure to keep an eye on our events page where we regularly share workshops and webinars to keep you in the know!

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

Blog, Cetus Solutions, Citrix, Cloud, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

Citrix Workspace: Why You Can’t Work Without it in 2018


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It was the most exciting event in May; Citrix Synergy in Anaheim, California. Whether you were there or not, you were keeping up with the latest updates and newest toys. The opening keynote on May 8th was an event not to be missed. I watched it (ok, only the first hour), you most likely watched it, and we l were all amazed by the keynote. It was impressive even through a screen. If you really were paying attention, you’d have perked up at the impressive update of the Citrix Workspace App by vice president of product marketing Calvin Hsu. This technology is ground breaking. There are so many reasons as to why it’s the forefront of productivity in 2018.

To be honest, at first I wasn’t super-duper impressed. Instant, password-free access to logins from within the app from just one authentication? That’s nothing new. Accessing your files – from your hard drive, the cloud or even your network drive – on any device through the app; we’ve seen that before as well. But those are just the basics; the minimum that you’d expect from a workspace.

With everything we’ve been doing (and by ‘we’, I actually mean the techies that create all the magic technologies) to improve the lives of employees, it seems that we’re just adding more complexity to the problem. And that’s the issue; why bother with something new that has to be learned, that costs more, when you could just go back to the old way? The point of Citrix Workspace is to have all of your techie bits rolled up into one experience. In his demonstration, Calvin uses the example of on-demand television to explain why Citrix Workspace is an innovation. We have Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. And while they have the same premise, they don’t all offer the exact same things. And that’s what Citrix Workspace aims to achieve; to collect all of the cool features from other workspaces into just one.

As picky and cynical as I am, I was impressed by a few little tricks from the Citrix Workspace App. Collections of applications seems like one of those things that should have been a thing ages ago. It just makes sense to have everything together that you can locate and share with your users quickly and efficiently. How was universal search not a thing before Citrix Workspace? Again, it’s something that you’d just expect from a high-tech piece of software. Now you can search for your apps, data and your files. How innovative is that? Wanting to open a file from Photoshop in, well, Photoshop? That seems fairly obvious – you’d hardly be able to open the .PSD or .PDD in Windows Photo. But with nothing more than a web browser, Citrix Workspace can cleverly launch Photoshop to access the file through the file capabilities that have been built into the workspace. How rad is that?

And there are more surprises as you move from one device to another. On your mobile, one of my favourite little tricks is the attachments folder. Instead of having to remember what email has the attachment that you need and having to scroll all the way through your recent emails to find it, you can quickly and easily locate it in the attachments folder. Another nifty trick on mobile is the ability to integrate a thread of emails into Slack, essentially creating a new thread on a chat platform that’s easier to follow, read and reply to. But by far, the coolest part of Citrix Workspace on mobile is being able to use any screen as a presentation screen, just by using a QR code and the workspace hub. That’s the future of working on mobile.

At the end of the day, what do your end users want? The Citrix Workspace app is the future of productivity for your organisation. If you would like to speak to one of our experts about Citrix Workspace and find out how you can start improving productivity across your business, contact us today.

Speak to an expert

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.