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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…

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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, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, Microsoft, Our Upcoming Events, Uncategorized

A Brief History of Azure


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You’d be hard pressed to imagine a modern world without Microsoft Azure. Since 2010, it has graced many a cloud strategy, promising to deliver an ever-expanding set of cloud services to help meet organisations’ business challenges. It’s safe to say that it provides full freedom to build, manage and deploy applications on a large scale, using plenty of tools and frameworks to achieve it. The inner workings of Azure were already in the planning stages in 2005. Hoping to bring disruption to internet services, Ray Ozzy, Chief Technical Officer and Chief Software Architect at Microsoft, insisted that Azure would bring “the effectiveness of a new delivery and adoption model” that would also create “the demand for compelling, integrated user experiences that ‘just work’.” 13 years later, and eight years after being released into the public domain, Azure has done just that.

When it comes to cloud computing, Microsoft offers all of the main categories that interest organisations; Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). Microsoft, being Microsoft, has had every opportunity to innovate, diversify and establish Azure as a top-level fixture in the industry. Announced in October 2008 with codename ‘Project Red Dog’, it wasn’t always one of the Big Players in the world of cloud. Microsoft intended on launching a total of five key categories of cloud services, with Azure in the hot seat for compute, storage and networking; while incorporating Microsoft SQL Services for databases; .NET Services for developers, Live Services for filesharing and Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services for SaaS offerings.

Take yourself back to 2010. It was the year that brought so many highs and lows for the country; Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, the engagement announcement of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and the brutal loss for England to host the 2018 World Cup (which evidently went to Russia). Originally called Windows Azure, it provided a service platform for SQL Services, .Net services and Live Services. Back then, the ‘cloud’ was a semi-obscure idea that some couldn’t really get their heads around. Honestly, the internet was a wacky idea in the 90s but in 2010 we’d largely accepted it as a fundamental human right, so being able to store data and access apps online wasn’t much of a stretch. But anyway. Because of that slight doubt, Azure didn’t know it, but it was on the cusp of a technological revolution- and it was at the right place at the right time to reap the rewards.

Unfortunately, in 2011 Azure had a slight hiccup. Still in its infancy, the documentation describing Azure services and capabilities was deemed incomprehensible, and its web-based interface was difficult to use. Thankfully, in May 2011 Scott Guthrie, former Corporate Vice President of the .Net platform at Microsoft, took over the Azure Application Platform team in order to shake things up a little and make some improvements. And he did! The user interface that was formerly a Silverlight application was changed to a HTML5 web portal, which improved things drastically and made the whole platform feel more like a systematised set of services. Adding support for quite a wide variety of programming languages, frameworks and operating systems (including, surprisingly, Linux) propelled Azure into a new, more innovative age. By 2014, Azure had made significant leaps in user experience. Becoming a cloud platform known for being robust and comprehensive for IaaS and PaaS cloud computing models. By continuing to expand its cloud capabilities, it has increased its support for open source software, making Azure the first choice for organisations that don’t even run Windows. In the years that followed, Azure has gone from strength to strength, developing significantly since 2008. The platform has seen only a few major outages in its history, creating an impressive reputation of reliability in a world where even five minutes of downtime can mean hundreds of thousands in loss of profits for organisations.

Back to 2018; Microsoft Azure enjoys a very mature, stable and reliable reputation as a secure public cloud provider, holding the title of second-largest IaaS and PaaS provider (behind Amazon Web Services) in the world. We are proud to work with Microsoft, obviously a huge name in the world of IT in its own right, but also with Azure. We regularly incorporate the platform as part of a business challenge solution as its flexibility and dependability are second to none. We hope this blog post has piqued your interest in the opportunities that Azure can open. 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, Continuum, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

How to Develop an Effective Cyber Security Strategy


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We thought 2017 was particularly bad for cyber security threats. WannaCry (on which I’ve only just gone and written a one-year update), Peyta/NotPeyta…. The monthly rate of ransomware attacks against UK organisations increased up to 10 times the rate of 2016. But 2018 is set to beat every record made in 2017. In January alone, there were 7,073,069 attacks on UK organisations, and that number is set to soar throughout the rest of the year. The threat that a cyber attack poses is only getting worse. There were constant instances of security breaches being plastered over the news in the first half of this year alone; Ticketmaster, University of Greenwich and Timehop are only a handful of high-profile examples. So it’s not really a surprise that security and risk management were rated the most important priority in 2018 for CIOs in NASCIO’s November 2017 survey.

Panicked? Sorry, you weren’t supposed to be. In reality, all organisations- big or small- should expect a security breach at some time or another. There’s no way of avoiding it, but there is a way of being prepared. I’ll stop waffling on and get to the good stuff; how you can develop a cyber security policy and improve your best practices so that when disaster strikes, you’ll already be sorted. Mostly. (And if you do happen to face/be facing a security breach I’ve got you covered)

If you’ve got software and systems, update!
It’s really a no-brainer; IT needs to be updated regularly. Maybe in the 90s or early 00s you could get away with only updating whenever you happened to fancy the latest version of Windows to replace your current Windows 95, but it’s not the case now. With the internet, automatic updates are here to stay- whether we find them an annoyance or life-saving. Windows 10 only has two major updates a year and countless little ones that improve so much about the platform- including its security. After all, it was a dodgy unpatched Windows system that started the whole WannaCry debacle. So guys, make sure you update!

Understand the cyber security risk in relation to your organisation
Your organisation depends on a lot of things. Digital processes, data, systems, and your employees mastering the trick of gossiping and doing their work. All of these (minus the employee issue) are vulnerable to being manipulated. The whole point of a robust cyber security strategy is to protect them against fraud, theft of sensitive data and business disruption- along with the risk to your reputation along with it all. Your entire organisation has to work together to protect these vital processes from the threat. Thankfully, here at Cetus, we understand just how important it is to keep everything ticking along smoothly. In fact, we offer a complimentary security posture review to ensure that your business has the necessary security that it needs. We analyse where your organisation is exposed to security risks and provide you with recommendations on how to address them. Our finished report will analyse your network traffic to detect security threats; malware infections, usage of high-risk web applications, intrusion attempts, loss of sensitive data…. The list goes on. It will also evaluate your organisation’s end-point security, focusing on mobile management, user rights management, advanced end-point protection, patch and user rights management, and enterprise file sync and share. Importantly, the report will assess any threats posed from within your infrastructure – east-west traffic, privileged user access and user access rights. Basically, your entire infrastructure will be analysed to make sure that as little of the bad stuff as possible can breach your systems.

Taking a look at your social engineering
This is an interesting one. If you’ve never heard of this before, it’s basically GDPR handling in the office. We’ve all been panicking as we worked towards the deadline on May 25th, but privacy protection doesn’t just end there. Social engineering can be the simple calling out of a password to another co-worker behind them, or the more serious incident of pulling up a website at work and volunteering passwords and other vital information that can end up in the wrong hands. Hell, someone on the end of a phone saying the right things with the right amount of confidence could potentially sweet-talk the more trusting to give out a piece of information- and sometimes that’s all they’ll need.

Perform regular data backups
I’ll try and keep this one quick because here at Cetus we rabbit on about them all the time. Backups are great. Should you have the misfortune of having a ransomware attack, having a copy of the data that’s held hostage can be a life saver. Firstly, you’ll know exactly what data the hackers have- or if they gained access to personal information that could cause problems-, and you won’t have to worry about data loss regardless of whether you pay the ransom or not. Backups; if you haven’t got them sorted what are you waiting for?! With so many types of backups to choose from, from tape to replication (we suggest keeping up with the times and trying out Continuum), there’s no excuse not to have that sweet disaster recovery/business continuity plan in place.

Lock everything up tight
There’s no point in having the best firewalls money can buy, along with the most secure cyber security solution, and cyber attack just-in-case plan of action if a criminal can just waltz through the front door and calmly collect all of your information on a USB. If your sever room (or server part of the floor as the case may be) isn’t locked up tighter than Alcatraz then eventually there’ll be a problem. Remember, not everyone in the office needs access to the servers!

These are the most basic points to note for a cyber security strategy. Cyber threats are real and preventing attacks will always be a better alternative to reacting to one after it has breached your infrastructure. One of the most important in the list is understanding the cyber security risk in relation to your business. Make sure to book a complimentary security posture review today, and take the biggest step towards securing your infrastructure or speak to one of our cyber security experts today.

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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, Citrix, Cloud, IT Solutions, News, Uncategorized

What is ‘New’?


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Have you ever tried to create something new? I don’t mean ‘fresh’; I mean actually ‘new’ – a thing that no else is doing that will make people pause and say “Oh! That’s different – tell me more…”

This Thursday we launch a new brand. It’s been under wraps for a few months now and is the result of several years of evolutionary growth. It’s a thing that seeks to make us stand out from the crowd; to capture the imagination of prospective clients; to define the next five years of significant growth for Cetus. We’re quite excited.

It’s called ‘Instrato’ – that’s the first ‘new’ thing we needed to come up with. It’s actually rather difficult to come up with a new brand name. A new brand needs to achieve two things: 1 – capture the imagination, and 2 – be an available domain name. Instrato ticked both boxes for us.

So – here’s the bit where creating something ‘new’ becomes really tricky. Instrato is a cloud solutions brand, but it’s a cloud solutions brand with a difference. The problem is that ‘cloud solutions providers’ tend to fall into two camps: Cloud Only & Hybrid Cloud.

They each have their limitations:

Cloud Only Providers – tend to have grown up as Microsoft Azure (or AWS) partners and are really good at provisioning Microsoft Azure instances – but not much else.

Hybrid Cloud Providers – are, well, just about every IT solutions provider out there. Their message is simple – add some cloud stuff and, hey presto! – you’ve got a ‘hybrid cloud’.

So why is Instrato new? In the above cases they are either: capable of building a cloud-only infrastructure or, capable of adding some cloud stuff to meet your current needs. That’s not the way we see it at Instrato.

To us ‘the cloud’ is a journey, who’s ultimate destination is SaaS. Not convinced? Then consider this question: “if you were starting up a brand-new business – would you even consider any form of ‘server infrastructure’?”. We don’t think so – you’d spend a lot of time finding a set of SaaS solutions (e.g. Office 365, SalesForce) to provide the business functionality you need without the associated hassle of an ‘infrastructure’.

Unfortunately, most businesses aren’t in the position of starting from scratch. Instead they have years of accumulated legacy infrastructure to deal with; users who are used to ‘desktops’; shadow IT solutions that just ‘appeared. This is why instrato is ‘new’ … we get that, to most organisations, the journey to SaaS is going to take a little time to complete. The challenge is to manage the bit in the middle: a near constant state of change as their organisation transitions individual applications to SaaS.

Instrato’s role in life is to make that state of near-constant change as seamless as possible from a user’s perspective; and as simple and cost-effective as possible from an IT team’s perspective. We do so by providing technology that addresses four specific business needs during the transition:

– Cloud Hosted Virtual Apps & Desktops (to provide an abstraction layer between your users and the underlying platform)

– Cloud Orchestration – to provide automated management and provisioning of an ever-changing hybrid cloud infrastructure

-Software Defined Networking – to provide resilient, secure, cost effective connection to your changing cloud portfolio

Cloud Analytics – to provide contextual, deep understanding of the traffic flowing across your evolving network.

We think that qualifies as ‘new’ – and we reckon that makes instrato pretty unique.
To hear more about how instrato can help you with your Cloud Journey – why not visit us at www.instrato.co.uk and see how our ‘new’ way of thinking about hybrid cloud can help your organisation to accelerate your cloud journey?

Directors-9619Paul Kiveal – Business Development Director
Paul works with business leaders, helping combine strategic objectives with innovative technical solutions, developing inspirational new IT platforms that transform the way technology powers organisations.

 

Blog, Citrix, Cloud, Continuum, IT Solutions, Security, Uncategorized

Top Trends in Digital Transformation for Your Business


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The tech world is fascinating. We’re always on our toes, trying to figure out how to use the latest innovation that’s been rolled out office-wide. We’re lightyears ahead of where we were only ten years ago. With that, it’s so easy to fall behind in what’s going on in the world of tech and all the great improvements that come with it. Hell, just go on a two-week holiday and you’ll come back to 2,000 urgent emails and a brand-new content collaboration system that eclipses the old one. There are new ways of doing everything, so god forbid you don’t pay attention. The trends in digital transformation change quickly, but these are the main ones your business needs to keep up with to stay ahead.

Cloud and hybrid cloud are taking over
It’s a bit like opening a tin of chocolates to yourself; you just can’t stop the outpouring of those delicious chocolates wrapped up in colour just constantly getting plucked out of the tin. There’s been a huge movement towards cloud in recent years. Everyone and their mother loves cloud and just can’t get enough of it. Business-wise, improving your IT infrastructure to respond to change just makes sense. With the exponential creation of data becoming an issue that has to be considered early rather than in hindsight, digital transformation surrounding cloud brings with it numerous benefits. Organisations love the dexterity of scalability; never needing to worry about what they have but knowing that there will always be room to grow or decrease depending on needs. Of all the cloud options, hybrid cloud is by far most popular, almost indispensable for most organisations, big or small. The ability to have that little bit more control over your data with on-prem data centres is the best first step into the wonderful world of cloud.

Importance of user experience
User experience will always be a major factor in digital transformation for businesses. It goes without saying that when your employees are happy, the higher productivity rises. And that’s what we all want, right? But user experience goes beyond just having coffee and chocolate digestives available downstairs. So what about the other niggly techy bits? Cloud sprawl can be a massive problem for businesses. Chunks of data here, there and those few spots you least expect it can quickly become a problem. We’ve (read: I have) already discussed how cloud sprawl can irritate your users enough for them to abandon your well-established IT infrastructure and turn to the world of shadow IT. A good IT solution will go above and beyond what the user wants and needs. Think of the basics; an email platform, a file-sharing platform, the ever-popular instant messaging app that allows your users to make quick work of small issues. The necessities, basically. Then think of what your users will want to ensure the smooth running of their work day. Now amalgamate and watch the productivity rise!

Remote workforce
We’ve heard it a million times before. Mobile workspace, digital workspace, modern workspace – whatever you want to call the ability to work from anywhere that isn’t the office – it’s the future of work. What’s new? Shockingly, there is more excitement around every corner in the tech world (I did say that it’s fascinating). The latest updates to Citrix Workspace were unveiled in May’s Citrix Synergy. It encompasses all of the usual things that you’d expect from a digital workspace; ultra-secure security, ultra-fast one-sign-in-works-for-them-all authentication, ultra-easy access to any of your files from any of your devices, clouds, networks. All that fun stuff. But the fun just doesn’t stop there. From collating collections of your favourite apps for quick sharing, universal search and – my favourite – using any screen as a presentation screen (no matter how big) just by using a QR code. I swear, it’s magic. And it really makes a difference.

Cyber security priority
WannaCry really wasn’t that long ago, but, even over a year later after the devastating attack, 66% of IT security pros have admitted that they haven’t improved their patch management systems. The biggest issue facing organisations when it comes to cyber security is the lack of progress and drive to be ahead of cyber threats. Terrifyingly, WannaCry was a Gen V-level cyber-attack. It’s terrifying because not only has tech advanced so quickly in so little time (the firewall is the cure for Gen II cyber threats), the majority of businesses are way behind. According to Check Point’s Cyber Security Generations Survey from March 2018, only 10% of IT security professionals are at Gen IV and, worse still, only 3% are at Gen V. If that doesn’t scare you, not much will. So it’s pretty clear; stepping up the digital transformation of your organisation is for absolutely nothing if you ignore the cyber security part of it because then you’re opening yourself up to more attacks. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, how much garlic you hang by the window or how much you trust that Starbucks Wi-Fi, there’s only one way to make sure that you’re protected.

Back up all of the things
Again, it’s one of those things that we hear over and over; backup is important. If there’s a fire; fire up (pun intended) your backup system. If there’s a flood; fire up your backup system. Attack of the tin-eating frogs; fire up your backup system. Backup is a major part of the digital transformation because it’s often overlooked. Everything is up and running and perfect and you just couldn’t imagine anything going wrong. There’s really no point in sorting out your backup after disaster strikes. And in this day and age, there’s no excuse – there are so many different types of backup and replication that can be used for disaster recovery. Here at Cetus, we favour replication – it’s the future of backup – and we proudly suggest our very own Continuum.

Digital transformation should be a top three priority for every organisation that wants to keep up and ahead of the curve. If any of the above sound too difficult for you, or if you need a bit of a refresh on any of them, why not have a quick chat with one of our experts to see what we can do for you? In the meantime, it’s worth looking into our
free business challenge consultation to help you navigate your business challenges, while here in the office we argue about the best tin of chocolate (it’s obviously Roses).

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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, 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.

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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, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

Are You Digital Enough?


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My excellent colleagues and I recently had a bit of an email debate about our
‘Mobile Workspaces’ proposition. It went something along the lines of:

– Our strategic vendors have moved away from ‘virtual workspaces’ to a much more, erm, modern ‘Modern Workspaces’ or ‘Digital Workspaces’ paradigm; so maybe we should update ours?

Taking each suggestion in turn; my response went something like this:

Modern Workspaces? Well, that just sounds like a new kitchen to me (sorry Microsoft) – or maybe your place of work has one of those cool chairs with no back; you know, the ones where you sort of kneel in the chair and look massively uncomfortable?

Digital Workspaces? Well, ‘digital’ isn’t a particularly new term. In 1897, the Oxford English Dictionary defined digital as “of or pertaining to a finger, or to the fingers”. So it’s not as modern as, say, tweeting or blogging. In modern usage, digital does imply the use of a computer, but that could imply a workplace comprising a desk and a desktop PC – hardy the epitome of a 21st century IT environment.

Digital is also a bit over used in my opinion. Organisations are clamouring to undergo Digital Transformation in order to become a truly Digital Company; Digital Currencies are seeing massive adoption; even the UK Government has a Digital Marketplace – that’s right: the UK Government. What this all means is that organisations and the general population are clamouring to ‘use computers’ – very leading edge I must say.

So, back to my point. Digital doesn’t imply modernity. I honestly believe that ‘Mobile Workspaces’ captures the essence of one of our core propositions. Your working environment allows you to access desktops, applications and documents on any device from any location. This simple principle has allowed hundreds of our clients to free their employees from their desks and to, instead, work from anywhere. As a result they have addressed countless business needs, including: agile working, acquisitions & mergers, property rationalisation, Total Cost of Ownership and Business Continuity. Not bad I reckon.

If you’d like to better understand how, like many of our clients, we can help your organisation to accelerate your path to becoming a Digital Company (through a process of Digital Transformation) using Digital … sorry; ‘Mobile’ Workspaces then have
a chat with one of our experts today. Please note that, unfortunately, we don’t currently accept Digital Currencies – but I’m sure my excellent colleagues will convince me that we should do so very soon.

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Blog, Cetus Solutions, Check Point, Cloud, IT Solutions, Our Upcoming Events, Security, VMware

WannaCry: What We’ve Learned One Year On


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It felt like the world was held to ransom. All over the globe – an astounding 150 countries in fact -, little red boxes popped up on computer screens, causing dread and havoc. ‘Ooops, your files have been encrypted!’ they read, asking for between $300 and $600 (£230 to £470) in bitcoin for the safe release of the files. On Friday May 12th 2017 nations of the world collectively gasped as these faced the most devastating and widespread cyber security incident at that time. Over 200,000 machines were affected, with the perpetrators scamming over $112,000.

In Britain, the NHS was hit the hardest. The little red WannaCry pop-up appeared at 1pm on the screens of only four trusts, demanding the ransom. By 4pm, when the ‘kill switch’ was accidentally found, it had spread to 16 trusts. The cyber-attack threat was officially ‘stepped down’ by NHS England a week later, but not before the affected reached a staggering 80 out of 236 hospital trusts as well as 603 primary care and affiliate NHS organisations. Public health in the UK was seriously affected, since the ransomware attack resulted in thousands of cancelled appointments, infected systems and the diversion of A&E patients to other hospitals.

In hindsight, and a little bit of digging, it was a disaster waiting to happen. The NHS had been warned as far back as 2014 that their level of cyber security just wouldn’t cut it. With a failure to undertake the most basic of IT security procedures, which included patching and updating software, as well as not putting a strategy in place to properly deal with a cyber security incident, it’s a miracle that it didn’t happen sooner. But it was a huge wake-up call, not only to the NHS but to businesses globally. No longer would cyber security rest on the hopes of a flimsy firewall that hadn’t been updated in several years – this is a real risk, with significant consequences. So, in the year since WannaCry, what exactly have we learned?

It’s horrifying to think that WannaCry was a Gen-V cyber threat, while according to Check Point’s Cyber Security Generations Survey from March 2018, only 10% of IT security professionals are at Gen-IV and, worse still, only 3% are at Gen-V.

According to a recent report by cyber security firm Tanium, most organisations would still be unprepared should another incident like WannaCry happen again. The survey of 500 frontline IT security workers in the UK is shocking; 40% admit that their organisation is even more exposed than last year. Only 31% confessed that their organisation had invested in new security systems since WannaCry. As I stated already slightly higher up, it was basic IT security procedures that were the gateway for WannaCry, yet a staggering 66% of the IT security workers admitted that they still hadn’t improved their patch management process.

The results are definitive; it’s time to start safeguarding against further, potentially more devastating, cyber-attacks.

It’s all about the patching
WannaCry sneaked through a Windows weakness where there was a lack of security. Shockingly, it had been discovered and there had been a patch for the offending loophole two months before the attack. I know having to update is a major pain, but guys, it just needs to be done. WannaCry was a Microsoft Windows ransomware, a software that locked the files by encrypting them. This particular ransomware was particularly nasty because it was network enabled, which allowed it to essentially spread like a virus throughout not only the local network, but the internet as well. What your organisation needs right now is a patch management solution in place to patch for known vulnerabilities as soon as they arise, so that no little malware buggers can infiltrate your systems.

Backup, backup again, and verify
Had your organisation been hit with the WannaCry malware and you’d had all of your data backed up, you’d have been laughing – for the most part. Regardless of encrypting malware potentially hitting you, backups are critical for all things disaster recovery and business continuity. Whether it be tape or cloud (like Cetus Continuum), all of your data needs to be replicated somewhere safe. Regardless of where you store it (and we really do suggest cloud), it should all be encrypted. Security is, after all of this, a priority.

Use all of the threat intelligence and prevention
If you haven’t heard, micro-segmentation is really in right now. Which is really great in the face of cyber security. Life may be like a box of chocolates, but your data centre needs to be more like a hotel and protect itself from east/west traffic. This next point is important; invest in some good threat intelligence and threat security. At the moment, we’re working with Check Point and VMware to highlight how merging Infinity and NSX can create the ideal security solution to protect you.

Figure out where you stand with a security posture review
There are hundreds of ways to fall foul of a cyber-attack in this day and age. With work no longer confined to the office, mobile workspaces have become all the rage – and for good reasons. Being able to work while on the field instead of having to wait to get back to the office, being able to work from home, or just simply being able to sort out an urgent matter when on holiday is revolutionary. And everyone’s trying to get into it. However, using some random Wi-Fi is always a risk. Honestly, you’ve not lived until you stand outside an O2 store trying to rob a second of Wi-Fi to send an email. In the rain. But how secure is that? A security posture review is essential to identify where your security has slipped. And it just so happens that we offer complimentary security posture reviews, where we analyse network traffic to detect a variety of security threats, evaluate end-point security, assess any threats that lurk in your infrastructure as well as other crucial little things. Have a chat with our experts to see where the danger can find a way in.

One thing is for definite; cyber security has never been so important, and making sure that your IT reflects that is the way to protect yourself as much as possible from an attack. It’s important to be proactive in your cyber security, or you’ll be reacting to a security breach instead.

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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

Minimising That Pesky Cloud Sprawl


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It’s one of the biggest challenges facing organisations when it comes to virtualisation; cloud sprawl. Unfriendly work portals and slow loading of documents would easily lead a whole department to seek an easier, faster way of sharing files and getting work done. And it’s a nightmare.

Picture this; you’ve just installed a new IT solution to connect the whole company. Now your employees can work from home, from a café, and sort out an urgent matter while on holiday. It’s simple to share large documents between each other. Everything is safe and secure, stored on company servers where you have full control over what data you have, who can access it, and where it goes. Except the whole system is a shambles. It’s not user friendly, employees have to spend minutes waiting to load simple documents, and everyone is just sick of it.

It’s easy for your employees to get caught up in the hype of cloud; once you start thinking about it, why wouldn’t the future be cloud-first? The result; they start storing sensitive files in free ‘cloud systems’; Google Drive, Dropbox and anything else that takes their fancy. It’s a GDPR nightmare.

We are talking about unregulated and unapproved cloud solutions that are used; from CRM to email to marketing automation to document storage. The consequence of these poorly managed, end-user cloud solutions and deployments results in redundant, fractured and inefficient cloud systems – and your IT department has no control over them. It’s an issue, and one that needs attention as soon as possible. So how do you go about minimising that pesky cloud sprawl?

Survey your applications
First of all, it’s crucial that you survey all of the applications and resources that your employees use to do their jobs. There are a lot, from Office 365 to Sharefile to SalesForce, and every other application under the sun. It’s important that these systems are accounted for. Administration access is another factor that needs to be refined. Often, too many employees have administrative access to your applications, making changes without the knowledge or consent of those who manage the whole lot – your IT department. Only a handful of employees should have access, and work closely with IT to approve changes following formal requests for new cloud resources.

Define your administrative role to virtual and cloud resources
Too many administrators are a big issue when it comes to virtual machines and cloud sprawl. Passwords, administration access, big ideas; when there are too many people trying to have their say and work semi-independently on a project, it’s easy to start getting confused. Assign a cloud sprawl manager to keep everything in check by managing the cloud that you have created. We’re talking no more of that crazy clutter that was taking up space in your physical data centre and the costs associated with it will be monitored, too. It’s just that easy.

Just as important is your actual cloud solution. Regardless of whether you’re considering public, private or hybrid, the trick is to avoid pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all cloud solutions. Your business is unique. It’s definitely worth your while to get an IT solution designed on the number of employees in your company and what you actually need out of your cloud solution. At Cetus Solutions, designing, building and supporting secure application and delivery platforms to fit your needs is our speciality.

Speak to one of our experts today to see how we can help you make the most of cloud.

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.