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

Here Phishy, Phishy, Phishy….


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A couple of weeks ago, there was a mandatory ‘here’s how to help keep the company from falling prey to cyber attacks’ lecture at Cetus. We all trooped downstairs, cramming into one of our board rooms, mugs clinking and teas sloshing. One of the lovely ladies from Barclays came in to give us a word of warning- or forty- on how to spot nefarious activity and not fall prey to a scam. By the end of it we were all ready to delete our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, never use an ATM, and I seriously started questioning my role within social media. It was quite the terrifying afternoon. Between social engineering, ransomware and phishing, it’s a miracle we all aren’t in debt from scammers. But the most terrifying aspect was learning just how prevalent phishing attacks are.

Big ransomware scams make the news constantly- splashed across the news, Sharon from HR standing at the water cooler to share the details in whispers to anyone who passes by- but phishing is the bigger threat here. In reality, a ransomware attack usually only demands several hundreds of pounds from the organisation it invades, while a phishing scam generally scams thousands of pounds from the victim. Not only that, but it’s easier for the cyber criminal to carry out a phishing attack. Now that I’ve given you something short of a heart attack (sorry), let’s turn this around shall we? Here are a few key ways of keeping you off the phisherman’s hook.

Beware of the sender
It doesn’t really matter whether it’s personal or corporate, receiving an email either makes you want to go on an extended holiday or celebrate. At work you’re usually too busy opening and replying in record time to get on with the mountain of tasks that grows with every email. It’s fair to say that you don’t always check who the sender is. I mean, we’re all weary of any Arabian Prince trying to get into contact, but aside from that we’re pretty chill for the most part. If they’ve gone to the trouble of finding your email address (I still can’t figure out how people manage to find me) then chances are they really need to chat, right?

Depending on how much of a nightmare you are in life, you probably won’t know the hacker. So before you jump into your emerging pile of unopened emails, take a quick look. If you suddenly get an email from someone you don’t speak to regularly on the topic of something that you don’t normally think about, be slightly weary. Check the sender’s address- does it look a bit weird? Is there a random ‘0’ instead of an ‘O’? Could that ‘i’ actually be Vietnamese character ‘ỉ’? Is there an extra letter or number in the address that shouldn’t be there? If you see one of these little tricks, bonus points for your great eyesight, and definitely get the email checked out.

‘I get scammed with a little help from my friends’
Did the email check out, but you’re still not 100% sure if you need to detonate your computer immediately to avoid any viruses escaping through the network? Take a quick look at the list of people that received the email. Do you know them? Is it a strange group, ie the sales group being added one name at a time instead of the group link? The cyber criminal might be targeting a large number of people in your organisation, so if you see people on the list that you wouldn’t normally be in contact with, or from a department that has nothing to do with yours, be extra careful.

Bit of a dodgy subject line
Aside from Sharon’s bi-monthly suggestion for drinks in the pub across the way after work on a Monday night, you should really only be getting emails that directly relate to your job function. That is, unless you’re in marketing- we seem to get our noses into plenty of unrelated jobs. If you’re getting emails about things that you know you’re not privy to or they make absolutely no sense to you, don’t open it. If it’s not spam, it’ll be malware. If you do happen to open it (oopsie), check if the email is a reply to one that you didn’t send. Does the message match the subject line? A misalignment of the two should send up an army of red flags. Also, while we all have the office oddball that likes to reply to emails at 3am, is it normal to be receiving this email from this sender at this particular hour?

Attachments and hyperlinks of doom
We’ve all opened random attachments or clicked on hyperlinks that we weren’t quite sure about and sighed with relief when it was just a video of cats acting strangely. We know we shouldn’t, but that curiosity can’t be helped. Besides, it could be important, or cats, after all. A few things to check before you right click; did you expect the attachment? Is it a common file type that you would normally receive? Does it have a weird name, or strange symbols in the file name? If you answer yes to these, maybe don’t open it. It’s quite likely to be malicious.

Not quite what you were expecting?
If you receive an email that contains unsettling, startling or urgent content that requires immediate action on your part, it’s most likely a phishing attack. There have been so many of these popping up recently, panicking the nation. At the moment, a common scam is an email from your bank claiming that your account has been hacked and you need to login straightaway, or even move the rest of your funds to another account. For the Netflix lovers among you, there have also been emails being received saying that billing information needs to be updated. Don’t fall for it. If the email includes a link to login or change account details, be extra weary. Don’t use links, web addresses or phone numbers.

Keeping yourself protected from any cyber crime can be a scary business, but even more so when it’s something you could very well unwillingly stumble into. It takes more than trusting your spam filter to keep yourself safe, having a strong cyber security solution is crucial. We work very closely with Check Point to craft solutions that stand tall against phishing, ransomware bots and all kind of nasties, using their SandBlast advanced endpoint threat prevention. Have a chat with our experts to see how we can whisk some cyber security into your perfect infrastructure solution so that it’s one less thing you need to worry about.

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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, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, News, Our Upcoming Events, Technology, Uncategorized

Citrix Summit 2019 from a Citrix Platinum Partner Point of View


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There are very few events throughout the year that get us super thrilled here at Cetus/instrato. Even fewer that we prepare for months before the actual event (aside from IPEXPO, which is a whole other story). But when it comes to Citrix Summit, held every January, we get very excited.

As a Citrix Platinum Partner, we stay on top of what’s going on in the Land of Citrix to make sure that we keep things fresh and up-to-date for our customers. And we’re absolutely blessed with two huge events a year to sink our teeth into; Summit and Synergy. We loved Citrix Synergy last May (and my god, we got some exciting updates on Citrix Workspace) and we’re still going on about it in our office. Of course, leaving the wet and windy UK for three days to fly to the US is a major bonus too!

As always, this year’s Summit is being held in Orlando, Florida, from the 7th to 9th of January- what a way to start the new year! Unlike Synergy, which is for customers as well as partners, Summit is only an event for partners, like Cetus, who promote and sell the Citrix Vision. And as always, we’re sending a little group of top Cetusites to go, explore and bring back the very best of Citrix.

The event is three days of inspiration, information and networking to bring the Citrix game to 100. Crazily, we’re expecting over 300 hours of training and hands-on learning, which we’ll be incorporating into all things Citrix when we get home. The event is a great way to build relationships with the biggest and brightest minds of Citrix experts and business leaders. From the opening keynote, which is always one of our favourite moments, to the breakout sessions, having those nagging questions answered at a Round Table, or just getting immersed in the hottest topics in the world of IT solutions in the Citrix Talks panel discussions, it’s going to be a crazy week. It’s events like Summit that inspire us to look to the future and adopt the latest and greatest ways of working.

One of the best things about being a Citrix Platinum Partner is the ability to really consolidate what we learn at Citrix Summit and Synergy into the huge projects that we work on. Having that foundation on which we can build our expertise is priceless, but a fair portrayal of how much we value Citrix itself as our partner. We know that having the title of Citrix Platinum Partner assures us that we’re in the best of hands, which means that our customers are, too.

When it comes to instrato, we work exclusively with Citrix and Microsoft Azure to get the optimal combination for a cloud deployment, so the fact that Microsoft will be attending makes our little cloud-enthused hearts flutter. In fact, cloud and cloud-based applications features heavily in the session previews, further strengthening its position as the future of IT. No doubt those sessions will be popular, including Citrix Talks to discuss cloud transformation projects.

You can be sure that, once we shake the jet lag, we’ll be incorporating all the latest updates and features into the solutions we design. If you want to hear a bit more about what you can expect from Citrix (and Cetus!) in 2019, have a chat with one of our Citrix Platinum Partner experts, and register for the Summit update events we’ll be hosting when we get back. We’ll see you then!

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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, Cloud, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

Your Step-By-Step Guide to Cloud Migration


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So you’ve finally agreed to try out The Cloud. You’ve read plenty of articles that you may not necessarily understand. You’ve heard plenty of chat about the possibilities, the increased security, and the savings that go along with it. But where do you actually start in Your Journey To The Cloud? This week I’ve given up entirely on counting (if you’ve missed this disaster and this almost-disaster go catch up) and I bring to you your simple step-by-step guide to moving to the cloud. I’ll make it as easy as possible, I promise.

Decide what you’re looking for
First of all, there’s no point in throwing yourself into the IT cloud solution craze unless you know what you’re looking to achieve. The cloud may sound like an exciting upgrade, exotic almost, the solution to all of your problems- but you need to decide what those problems are first. Have a sit down with your team and decide what the cloud could do to improve the way that they work. To be able to spend one day a week in a café instead of the office, and have access to all of your files and applications without worrying about being hacked? Do you want almost-instantaneous disaster recovery options? Fire, flood, forgotten door keys; your data at a second location will only ever be a flick of a switch away- and sometimes that switch will be automatic anyway. There are so many reasons to move to cloud, and I’ve popped them all into a dedicated blog post right here, just in case you missed it.

Choose the right cloud provider
Just as important; you need to evaluate your options when it comes to your vendor and IT solutions provider options. Don’t just focus on the bigger, ‘mainstream’ ones; they might not necessarily provide what you require. At Cetus Solutions, we work closely with and recommend, Citrix and Azure. However, depending on what you’re looking for, we can add a few into the mix to design a unique, bespoke IT solution that works for you. While every vendor has its strengths and weaknesses, we combine several to make sure all of your boxes get ticked. We consider disaster recovery, scalability, and what capacity demands you have and will end up needing in the future. Then you need to think about cost. This is a complicated one, don’t just make up your mind from a pricing page. You need to consider how your applications will operate in the cloud and be weary of ‘hidden charges’ like bandwidth, API calls and messages sent.

Move your files and data to the cloud
It is so important to start your transition nice and easy. There’s no point in throwing everything you have into the air, hoping to catch a cloud unawares. That will just lead to a lot of headaches and potential disaster, and that’s not what cloud is all about. Begin small, by moving just your files and data to the cloud. It’s best to start off with your files because that’s how your business runs, and the way that they’re currently being stored might be outdated, unsecure and possibly even inefficient. Cloud-based file sharing requires only minimal change to your systems, but since it affects every department in your organisation, it means that you make a bigger impact with little effort or cost. I told you we’d make it simple. Your employees (and you, too) will love the ease in storing, coordinating and sharing all of the documentation that they need. And since it’s a mobile workspace, you will all be able to do all that across all of your various devices. Nice.
It’s monumentally to important to get this step right though; you have to find the best IT solutions provider that will make file transfer an easy thing. If your employees find it difficult, they will only end up turning to other personal apps to do the same thing. These ‘shadow IT’ options are a nightmare for things like security, and with the threat of GDPR looming, it’s a threat that could cost you more than just your reputation. Besides, business-class solutions like the ones we provide at Cetus Solutions are far more integrated to maximise workflow. It’s best to trust the experts.

Move your applications to the cloud
Ok, you’ve managed the first big step. To be honest, that was actually really only sticking your toe into the pool of possibilities with cloud, and now it’s time to jump right in. It will only get easier from here! (in theory, but I’m not making any promises) With all of your files and data being kept nice and safe and warm in the cloud, it’s time to move your applications to the cloud. The thing about your apps in the cloud is that instead of being distributed to your employees through old-fashioned CD roms that install what they need (isn’t that a laughable thought in this day and age?), cloud management is centralised. Think simple, think easy, think never-going-to-hear-moans-about-updates-again. Just patch it up once, update it once and everyone is on the same plane. Hurrah. Start with the least critical applications, and familiarise yourself with the process- not that there will be much of a difference. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Move your desktops to the cloud
Last critical step, I promise. It’s not even that complicated, really. With your data, files and now applications stored carefully in the cloud, it’s time to take a step back. No more installing and maintaining operating systems, software and apps one by one on every computer, because it’s time to transfer your desktops to the cloud. This is possibly the most exciting part; cloud desktops basically virtualise everything on your employees’ desktops as soon as they boot them up. And this includes updates; how awesome is that? Any update you can think of, you’ll never have to worry about again; Windows, apps, files, nothing. And with a desktop on the cloud, it’s like having the same desktop no matter what device you’re working from.

So there you have it. But then, what do you actually have? We like to call it a digital workspace; encompassing all the data and applications you need to get your job done, in one desktop that follows you wherever you go. The simplest way to move your systems to the cloud. Here at Cetus Solutions, we don’t do complicated and we don’t do out of date. If you’re thinking of moving to cloud, or even if you want a more thorough breakdown of exactly how easy it is to transition to the cloud, make sure to talk to one of our experts 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.

 

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

Skyscraper: When Cyber Security Goes Wrong


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It was one of the biggest blockbusters of the summer. Dwayne Johnson’s Skyscraper thriller grossed $304.1 million during the hottest summer in living memory. Honestly, it probably would have made more, but for the fact that half of the UK population was sitting in any available patch of sun with a beer in their hands. I was one of those people, although with fruity cocktails instead. That was when I wasn’t in the office writing witty blog posts on Citrix Workspace, of course. Alas, while I had every intention on going to see the film, I never got around to it. So it was my pleasure, two Saturdays before Christmas, to snuggle in my pjs and pop it on (I lead the most exciting life when I’m not in the office). Well. While it’s action-packed with an interesting futuristic spin, I couldn’t help but spend the whole movie pointing out, sadly to no one in particular (I’m going to have to get a cat), all the various cyber security blunders that Johnson’s character made. Not one to waste my breath, or a good writing idea, I’m going to lay it all out in this blog post so that you can giggle along with me. Before we go any further though, there may be a spoiler or two, you have been warned.

In a nutshell, Johnson plays ex-FBI hostage-negotiator-turned-private-security-expert Will Sawyer, who gets called to Hong Kong in order to assess the security of the world’s tallest skyscraper. The Pearl, 225 stories and a whopping 1,100 metres tall, needs an inspection of the upper residential half before it can be opened to tenants. Since we are, after all, living through the ‘IOT for all of the things!’ revolution, no matter how mundane the appliance, it’s no surprise that the Pearl was built with tech in mind. It’s basically a giant computer, full of safety features and automations that make living and working there slightly more exciting than your average building. We saw absolutely zero evidence of it, but I’m still sure the lights turn on and off by clapping your hands. Anywho, we see Sawyer being given a tablet that controls the entirety of the 225 floors and shooed out of the door to go inspect the offsite security centre that controls the skyscraper. The tablet, obviously, isn’t in his possession for long, as it gets robbed by a group of terrorists who succeed in burning down the $200 billion structure with it. The sad part is, if the IT department had deployed a better cyber security solution, it could all have been avoided. Typical.

Who needs an effective authentication method, am I right?! This was mistake number one. For some incomprehensible reason, the only way of unlocking the tablet that controls the entirety of the building is via facial recognition. That’s it. Sure, in cinematographical terms this looks the best. It’s impressive and futuristic, suave and savvy. It’s every nerd’s dream. And facial recognition as part of multi-factor authentication is really effective. In the blink of an eye, it can analyse billions of tiny little markers on your face to unlock your device. But who on earth would think that it would be enough? For god’s sake, just signing into my Facebook requires my password, mother’s maiden name, list of my three favourite chocolate bars (in order) and the promise of my firstborn. Truth be told, facial recognition alone was irresponsible, and about as effective of protecting all that important data as using ‘1234567’ as a password. Hell, put a photo of Sawyer in front of the camera and that would probably fool it. There are so many effective ways to authenticate identity (I wrote an entire post on it). Why not have a secondary form of authentication, like having a password activate on Sawyer’s smartphone? That would have been clever.

Mistake number two; not informing the IT department of the breach. Err, this should have been the first point of call when Sawyer’s tablet got robbed. Instead, being the idiot that he is, he threw caution to the wind and went running off to save his family. Just one minute on the phone to IT and they could have stopped the disaster that was about to unfold. A good cyber security solution would have removed access to the tablet in a couple of clicks, rendering the terrorists’ efforts moot. In fact, it would have taken no time at all to wipe the data clean from the device, essentially turning it into an expensive, albeit sleek-looking, paperweight. It does echo a current issue facing organisations in terms of cyber security; the majority of security breaches come from employees who, inadvertently or not, allow the threat to infiltrate the network. This can happen from clicking on a dodgy link in an email (it’s sadly not a video of cats acting strangely)- in fact, phishing attacks are more prevalent and more likely to scam large sums of money from an organisation. Realistically, in this situation, Sawyer seriously neglected his responsibility to inform the IT department. While he undoubtedly performed some incredible gymnastics and it was thoroughly enjoyable to watch, I would have loved to hear his rationale when all was said and done. I doubt he’d be hired to assess the security of a paper bag after that!

The moral of this story is, and I’m sure it’s what director Rawson Marshall Thurber wanted to portray; don’t let your organisation become the Pearl and burn down to the ground- make sure your cyber security solution ticks all the boxes. We work closely with Check Point to incorporate secure technology into our solutions, effectively avoiding the risks that we saw Sawyer facing in the film, and many more besides. Have a chat with our cyber security solution experts here at Cetus, and in the meantime book yourself in for one of our complimentary security posture reviews!

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, Citrix, Cloud, IT Solutions, Our Upcoming Events, Technology, Uncategorized

Citrix Summit 2019 For Dummies


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There are myriads of reasons to go to different conventions throughout the year. The chance to network with the biggest in the industry and get the first look at the latest innovations and methods can be priceless. In fact, a lot of organisations often insist that they do better after having attending key summits, or that they get their new and existing customers reaching out to them for the inside scoop.

In the world of cloud and IT solutions, the annual Citrix Summit is the event of the year. Held in Orlando Florida (so it could essentially become a mini holiday if you plan ahead), it’s where anyone who is anyone in the industry will show face. Not to be mistaken for Citrix Synergy in May, which is for partners like us as well as customers- but just as exciting as Summit. I’ve written plenty about the Citrix Vision for Citrix Workspace this year already. When it comes to fighting for the revered places, it usually comes down to the same three people who get to go, year in year out, with no questions asked. But this year you’ve been chosen. Why? You’re not quite sure, but let’s not ask any questions (it’s very likely that someone is having an extended Christmas skiing holiday this year). Gulp. That means you need to make sure you’re not on the top of your game and not make a fool out of yourself. What’s the weather like in Florida? Is there a particular dress code? Are we allowed to look vendors in the eye? As Cetus are a Citrix Platinum Partner, we’ve been around the block a few times. That is, if the block is a year, and a few times is exactly ten. So, we’ve rubbed what braincells we have to bring you the ultimate guide to survive those three fabulous days at the beginning of January.

Prepare for everything- even the disasters
It’s always best to prepare well ahead of time to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Make sure you know what airport you’re flying to, and how to get to your accommodation. Don’t leave it to someone else on the team, chances are you’ll all rock up on the day and no one will have a clue- leaving you all potentially driving around the city in a dodgy taxi at midnight, starving and tired. We’ve all been there, and it’s not the best way to start the trip!

A few weeks before Summit, have a quick look on Twitter or Google for the hashtag (bonus tip: it’s #CitrixSummit). Another fabulous hashtag, that isn’t exactly reserved for Summit but will also work in this case, is #CitrixPartnerLove. Go crazy, tweet a bit and get involved in conversations on Twitter, hopefully you’ll get the chance to introduce yourself before you even arrive. That’s one less box to tick! Second bonus tip: pack extra underwear.

One of the most convenient ‘features’ of Citrix Summit, and by far the best advice a seasoned Summit-goer would tell you would be to download the Citrix Summit app. It has everything you could possibly need to survive the event including an interactive timetable.

Get your networking hat on
Networking is the name of the game at Summit. It’s an opportunity to meet with plenty of people in a wide range of roles. To be fair, facing a sea of industry leaders can be a pretty daunting experience, but it’s best not to stick to your little group of comrades. Try to arrive earlier on pre-reg day and ‘happen to run into’ someone with the same lanyard and strike up a conversation- what are they most looking forward to? What do they expect to hear about? Where are the ladies? You get the idea.

Conference with participants going to the same seminars and workshops as you. Keep that social media involved as you go, it’ll be a great way to engage in even more conversations, and also serves as a way to show your boss that you didn’t ditch to go to Disney World. It’s great to talk to people from other organisations with more experience than you as well. As a Citrix Platinum Partner, we’re always having a chat with other UK-based companies. Also, big Citrix leaders will be mingling throughout the Summit, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled and prepare a good opening line to catch their attention. “The colour of that suit absolutely compliments the success you’ve had this year” is my favourite example. And most importantly of all, make sure that you say yes to every opportunity that arises!

Evaluate your daily strategy
The main problem with Citrix Summit is that there’s just so much material being squeezed into only three days. You could spend an entire day just making sure that you make the most of every opportunity. Between keynotes, Learning Labs, workshops and the Certification Centre, there’s a whopping 300+ hours of content, training and hands-on learning to get your teeth into. Before heading over to Florida, prepare a potential schedule for every day. Every morning, re-evaluate what you’ve already learned and what sessions could potentially be a reiteration, giving you more time to book in an extra session, Learning Lab or networking opportunity.

It’s always good to get goals, and it’s no different at Summit. What do you want to achieve from attending? What expert do you want to hear from? Is there an organisation attending that you’ve been looking into lately? Is there a topic that you could just use that extra bit of info on? Make sure to keep these in mind when you’re plodding through the days- it’s important to keep an eye on the bigger picture.

Dealing with post-Summit blues
We absolutely love Citrix Summit. In fact, pretty much anything Citrix-related gets us in a too-excited-to-sleep kind of mood. As a Citrix Platinum Partner, we make sure that we’re on top of what’s new and exciting in the world of Citrix. We want to offer the very best to our customers, both new and existing, keeping them ahead of their competition and helping their growth. That’s why we’re hosting a workshop throughout the country in January to share the knowledge we received at Citrix Summit. Make sure to register today for your spot!

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, IT Solutions, Uncategorized

You Say Cloud, They Say….


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Oh Good!
Oh God?!
Sign here!
Really?!
Can we help?
Are you sure?

The sun is out today on this bright and crisp November morning. I’d love to say ‘not a cloud in the sky’, but hey, I’m in Manchester so the sun is a brief visitor in these parts!
So lets talk clouds. It’s much more commonplace today for enterprises to state ‘We are Cloud-first’ and ‘We are on our way to the Cloud’, a mandate often received from C-level and the top echelons. But, I ask;

Why?
Why is this a common executive strategy?
Are such decisions made with full understanding of what this actually means?

What do senior execs really understand about the Cloud? Or what it could deliver to their business? Arguably they don’t nor shouldn’t need to as they have ‘people’ to do this… One would hope they are informed and speaking with understanding of the true value and commercial benefits of what a Public or Hybrid Cloud Platform has to offer. Are they? Do they also really understand that this may or may not be possible? And what about such cost implications? Or, could it be they know ‘everyone else’ is doing it?! Cloud platforms require experience and diligence to be successful projects.

I always ask a lot of questions…
The Cloud decision requires many answers…

I personally get it. Cetus of course get it too, delivering this experience via our instrato solutions stack.
So, my thoughts are this: (Oops! Do I need the social media caveat of ‘my thoughts are my own’? ) Public and Hybrid Cloud platforms are simply a means to an end. Let’s not over complicate this! It’s not the Millennium Bug, nor the end of the world as we know it. They are solutions to assist enterprises to become more efficient, deliver improved competitive advantage and, above all, assist in delivering an improved service to your customers.

With Cetus’s instrato, we see as many customers wanting to reverse out of the public cloud as we do those trying to step in. Why? Poor implementation, poor management, a lack of experience and understanding can result in significantly increased costs, yet these organisations could be missing out on huge business advantages.
As I eluded to earlier, both technical and commercial experience with such solutions is essential. There are many so-called ‘experts’ out there, but do many hold the credibility and the proof?!

Cetus’ instrato offers services from Cloud readiness assessment, Cloud business case justification, Cloud management services through to fully managed services to ensure your platform is under control and delivering the value you want- be it public cloud or a more tailored hybrid cloud platform to suit your desired business outcomes.
You too can be Cloud First or become Cloud aware. As a certain fast food vendor states ‘Have it your way’ so why wouldn’t you?

Cetus are fully equipped with tea, hobnobs and whiteboard pens! Oh, and we would like you to provide a whiteboard (please!) and perhaps some cups too. Allow us to come and show you how your organisation’s desire to be ‘Cloud-first’ can deliver great business benefit when well executed and discuss what tools we have to assist you.
www.cetus-solutions.com
www.instrato.co.uk

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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, Citrix, Cloud, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

The Citrix ‘Virtual Workspace’ Vision: What Have We Achieved?


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I don’t remember ever not having a computer at home. When my brother and I were little, somewhere in the rolling Irish countryside, that was technology; messing around in Paint for hours, until we were old enough to graduate to Tomb Raider (on keyboard) and whatever game demos my Dad got with his monthly PC Live subscription. If we were allowed to use the printer (that was a rare treat), we’d spend hours in Word making posters for our room, trying out every single option in WordArt and agonising over what colours we’d use- which would have absolutely no significance whatsoever since it printed in black and white exclusively. Then, as early teens, we got second-hand laptops to mess around in PowerPoint (I once did an amazing presentation on the benefits of having an allowance for my rabbit Poppy, graphics and all), and flex our creative writing muscles in Word. Back then, floppy disks were king (I still have some knocking about, storing god only knows what). Hell, I remember being 16 when my Mum bought my Dad a brand-new printer for his birthday; a super cool one that printed in colour and scanned documents and photocopied and printed wirelessly. It was amazing to have all of those features in one small device that was affordable for a modest family. And that was only in 2010!

For most of us, that was the reality until quite recently. Technology was just a cool little add-on, the ability to type out a document instead of writing it by hand, playing two-player videogames using only a single keyboard and mouse, being able to email Granny across the country- regardless of whether she’d remember how to access it or not. It was fun, but it wasn’t particularly useful. The workplace was the exact same (so I’m told); visiting the dusty clock-in machine at 9am, tapping away at an even dustier computer half the size of the desk, emailing people sitting just across from you, and finally kissing the clock-in machine goodbye at 5pm.

Last month was our Cetus Summit, a day of celebrating the achievements of the year just gone and anticipating how we can be even bigger and better in the year ahead. As part of the morning presentations, we had several vendors come and talk to us. One of those vendors was Citrix. For half an hour, they analysed a Citrix video from way back in 2001 that predicted the power and capabilities of a future workspace (if you want, you can find it here). It’s crazy to think that in 2001 we were still so behind on lots of techie features and gadgets that we couldn’t possibly imagine working without now. Anyway, since I’m betting you weren’t at that presentation, I’ve decided to do a bit of an analysis myself of Citrix Workspaces 2001 vs 2018 this week.

In the current future that Citrix had imagined (does that even make sense?), things are very 90s. Someone clearly didn’t get the memo about the segways, ripped jeans and I’d say fannypacks are the only thing from the 90s that we’d still see today (and they’re still a crime against fashion). Honestly, of all the changes since 2001, not wearing those god-awful suits is probably the best advancement. That and the awful Mercedes he drives- I swear, it’s the kind of car a drug kingpin would drive in the mid-90s. The scene is set; our protagonist, Jim, is evidently a high-flying business man, with a fancy office and no doubt an assistant. It’s the end of a workday and he’s particularly chirpy, but it’s not a Friday, so it must be a relaxed week at the office. Apparently it’s his anniversary as well, so that could be a contributing factor.

Telling no one in particular that he’s leaving work early (probably that assistant), he grabs his fancy PalmPilot-looking device and walks away, while his workspace gets transferred from his PC. Accessing your desktop via whatever device you choose is something that almost comes automatically in a virtual workspace in 2018. Indeed, Citrix Workspace makes it incredibly easy to access all of your apps, data and desktop, regardless of what kind of device. Move between your PC, home laptop, mobile or tablet, all thanks to your workspace. Getting into that God-awful Mercedes, our chirpy Jim is safety-first and pops his PalmPilot-mobile hybrid into its hands-free holder. Ever security-conscious, he accesses his device by using a fingerprint scanner. I’ve already covered multi-factor authentication (and how I feel about fingerprint scanners), and it’s no surprise that the Citrix vision of the future included biometric sign-on.

In any organisation, the ability for secure content collaboration is crucial. Jim clearly works for a huge multi-national company. On his way home, he gets a call from a colleague on the other side of the country. Some hiccup in a big deal means that he needs to try and make things happen before he can go for dinner. To fix the issue and speed the deal along, he needs to organise a conference call with colleagues in Seattle and Tokyo. Using his Citrix Workspace, he can securely call these different locations, while presenting and collaborating on documents in real time. It’s easy enough to transfer the conference call from Jim’s phone to his huge monitor- just the case of pointing his PalmPilot-thing at the screen and hey presto. I’m sure in 2001, this would have been a bizarre concept. Who would be too lazy to just turn the thing on? Nowadays, we don’t have the time to faff around with logins and transferring conference calls. With Citrix Workspace, this is a nifty little feature that’s sure to wow any newbies starting out, or even the CIO of a high-stakes partner. Honestly, try it out, you’d look terribly high-tech. Eventually Sharon, in Denver, fizzles in to add her expertise. Apparently she doesn’t have the same security clearances as the other three (is it the accent?), so Jim sets her a more limited visibility she has of the documents being collaborated on. This is also a pretty common feature of Citrix Workspace, but it covers far more than just a conference call. From a single network point, your IT department has access to, and can manage, every one of your users. That gives them the flexibility to automatically grant every user with unique levels of clearance depending on their job necessities. Sharon in HR doesn’t really need to know what’s going on in boardroom meetings, now does she?

During the conference call, they get interrupted by a failure. Now, here’s where Citrix were a tad bit off in their predictions for today’s technology. In the video, Jim can hear his colleagues as they question the foreboding ‘Switching to backup data centre’ flickering on the screen for a moment or two, before the rather more cheerful ‘Backup now active’ signals the return of the call. It’s not the case now that a failure would cut the call instantly until the WAN came back to life- thanks to SD-WAN, a failure of any kind would not even be noticed, simply switching to the secondary system component. In today’s workspace, Jim and his colleagues wouldn’t be the wiser, with zero stalling, pausing or loss of quality to signal the switch.

A lot was covered in that short seven-minute video. But it’s clear that in 2001 Citrix had a vision. It was a vision of revolutionising the workspace to make it bigger and better than ever before (and keep ill-fitting suits in fashion). And it’s a vision that continues to look to the future in order to start making advances towards it now. Here at Cetus, we’re big believers in the Citrix vision. So much so that we’re one of the few Citrix Platinum Partners in the UK. We believe that Citrix is the future of the workplace, and we want to work with you to unlock those possibilities. Our experts are Citrix-centric, so click over here to have a chat and see what Citrix Workspace can do for you.

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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, Cloud, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

It’s Halloween! Beware of Zombies!


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Well, it’s Halloween, so I thought it apt to draw attention to a blight of our modern age – Zombies! To be more precise: Zombie VMs!!

These modern terrors lurk, silently, in our data centres, consuming brains (aka CPU resource and RAM); with no clear purpose. At least, not a purpose that anybody can remember. They’re the product (or is it the cause?) of sprawl; long forgotten virtual machines, created for a particular purpose, but no longer used.

So what? You may, or may not be thinking. Arguably, in an on-prem deployment; they only consume power and minimal compute resource. There’s still a cost associated with them, but that’s also reasonably minimal. The other concern is that, being ‘forgotten’, they may present a security risk due to out-of-date applications and operating systems.
So here’s the main point: In a Public Cloud environment (e.g. Azure or AWS); Zombie VMs are also directly consuming your money. That’s definitely worse than them consuming your brains. The money lost to them could have been spent elsewhere; to increase profits, or to invest in more profitable activities.

What can you do about this horror? Run for the hills? Hide in a cupboard? No, the answer is to tackle them head on, otherwise they’ll spread as time goes by, making your problems worse. That’s where Cetus’ instrato can help you.

We call the solution: ‘Hybrid Cloud Orchestration’. It allows us to deliver a service that optimises your virtual machine estate; whether it be on-prem, in a co-lo, or on a hyper-scaler platform. Our service monitors your VM estate: to identify sprawl, and to automatically move your VMs to the most cost-effective location, or service provider instance. More importantly: our service pays for itself: both in the first instance, and on an ongoing basis.

To hear more about how we can help you to fight back against the Zombie threat, whilst saving a significant amount of money in the process: why not give us a call? We can conduct a free assessment that will demonstrate the potential savings that are awaiting you. There you go then: some good news on Halloween – not everything needs to be a horror story.

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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, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, News, Our Upcoming Events, Technology, Uncategorized, VMware

VMworld 2018 Keynote


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So here we are at VMworld 2018 in Barcelona for VMware’s 20th anniversary and the 10th annual VMworld in Europe. With just under 12,000 attendees, the relevance and importance of the VMware strategy in helping businesses of all sizes grow and transform is clear to see everywhere you go. Pat Gelsinger took to the stage to layout his views and VMware’s strategy highlights for the coming years. For those that have not made it to VMworld before, the main keynote is quite high level and is followed by a number of ‘showcase’ keynotes that focus on the core areas of the VMware portfolio such as Security, Hybrid Cloud and EUC etc.

Pat showed how VMware has constantly driven to help businesses bridge gaps between innovation silos and highlighted three key ‘acts’ in the VMware history:
1. Server virtualisation
2. BYO/EUC
3. Networking
The message that organisations need to deliver both profit, as well as look after its people was clear; a fully engaged workforce will lead to innovation and transformation, which will lead to a more profitable business.

Technology should be a force for good in the world and that is what VMware is driving for in everything it does (The Mercy Ships case study was very powerful). Pat spoke about four tech superpowers in the world today (Cloud, Mobile, AI/ML, and Edge/IoT) and how each of them reinforces and drives the others. VMware sees the application as a network that requires an end-to-end platform to enable it. The VMware vision image below has been consistent across four core strategies for a number of years now;
• Modernise Datacenter
• Integrate Public Cloud
• Empower Digital Workspaces
• Transform Networking and Security
The ability for an organisation to deploy hybrid cloud and digital workspace solutions that are integrated from a single vendor drives simplification and reduces costs.

vmworld 1.jpg

At Cetus our mission is to help our customers deliver on their strategic mission by delivering hybrid cloud and secure digital workspace solutions, we believe that every organisation must embrace technology as a force for change and transformation. The VMware portfolio from vSphere to NSX onto Workspace One and out to Vmware on AWS means we can deliver on our mission from a single integrated technology stack.

There were a wealth of announcements in the keynotes, and while I’m not going to try and cover them all here, I just wanted to pick a few highlights.

Security
Pat talked about how the security solutions we deploy today are broken, as bolt-on options that are chasing a bad situation without a fundamental shift in protection levels. This is shown by record spending on security solutions, and also a record number of breaches.

VMware started to address this with NSX, moving the security enforcement from the North/South boundaries to cover the bulk of East/West traffic, and as such the micro-segmentation market emerged. While this takes security to a new level, it is still based on set policies and known interactions between services within the datacenter. VMware is taking this to the next level with the introduction of vSphere Platinum Edition that integrates the app defence solution into the vSphere licence. The combination of AppDefense and NSX allows VMware to deliver what it has now coined ‘Adaptive Segmentation’, allowing admins to deliver a step change in the security paradigm. The Adaptive Segmentation concept follows three key steps:
• Learn
• Lock
• Adapt

Rather than chasing after threats, AppDefense learns an application’s intended state and behaviour, then monitors for changes to this state that indicates a threat. When a threat is detected, AppDefense can automatically respond. Leveraging this known ‘good state’ allows policy to lock down the datacenter (NSX offering network-level automation) and then adapt as needed to changes in state. This deep integration allows for a shift in the overall security paradigm.

The focus on security across the VMware portfolio is really beginning to shine and deliver real value for customers.

Any Cloud
All businesses are on a journey to a hybrid/multi-cloud world and the need to automate and secure this transformation is key. VMware is innovating in both the datacentre and EUC spaces to ensure this journey is seamless, secure and cost-effective for all.

In the datacenter space, the need for a seamless path to and from cloud/on-premises is the key to allowing an organisation to unlock the power of its investment in infrastructure services. The ability to deploy to either on-premises or cloud and move between them seamlessly as costs and needs evolve ensures IT can meet businesses’ needs at all times. This needs to be enabled via a ruthless drive for automation, which the announcements of VMware Cloud Foundation 3.5 addresses by ensuring that enterprise IT teams can deploy private cloud with the same management and automation as cloud. Cloud Foundation underpins the hybrid cloud, both on-premises and as part of VMware on AWS- truly enabling this seamless hybrid cloud. With new VMware on AWS regions opening over the next 6-9 months, the reach will be truly global. Checkout my follow up blog from the datacenter showcase keynote for more details.

The message was clear that the future of cloud infrastructure will be hybrid and that VMware has delivered a true end-to-end solution. The acquisition and integration of Cloud Health extends this capability by providing a cloud operations platform that allows customers to understand costs and compliance across multiple clouds.

Any App
The Workspace One solution has been the stable leader in the MDM space for many years and over the last couple has evolved into a complete UEM (unified endpoint management) solution that supports mobile, Mac, Windows and Chrome end points. Providing users a simple, consistent and secure access method for all applications and data on any device, while ensuring that IT retain control of the full lifecycle of the devices. One big announcement was a joint partnership with OKTA to extend the Workspace One Identity Management solution and provide full user/device lifecycle management and automation. IT can now truly step away from the job of deploying endpoints, allowing technology to provide a simple user-driven workflow.

Enhancements to the Workspace One solution continues to demonstrate this market-leading position. Look out for my follow up blog from the EUC showcase keynote covering items Like Workspace One Intelligence and what COPE stands for.

So this ran on a bit longer that I expected; lots to talk about in what was actually a rather uneventful keynote by VMware’s standards. Most of this due to them splitting out 6 ‘showcase’ keynotes over the two days that focus deeper into the entire proposition. Stay tuned for follow up posts from more sessions. In the meantime, we’re delighted to announce a free webinar on the key takeaways from VMworld that I’ll be hosting. Register here to get all the highlights from VMware and what to expect in 2019.

Register for the webinar

Blog, Citrix, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

How a Secure Digital Workspace Solution will Simplify Your IT


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A lot has changed since we were children. Children no longer spend all day outside harassing the neighbours and it’s not the norm for cars to stall halfway up every hill. You can book a train ticket on your phone, order a takeaway online and find your way around a foreign city without having to buy a map or ask for directions in the wrong language. In fact, there’s an entire industry of young people whose sole jobs are to create videos, write blog posts and take Instagram photos for their thousands, sometimes millions, of online followers. And these influencers make your entire month’s rent just by posting one sponsored photo. How crazy is that?

The idea of ‘work’ has changed just as much. When we were children, our parents (usually our fathers, because that’s how it was back then) would come home late from a 12-hour shift, exhausted and with frayed nerves, having spent the day in a grey room the size of a teacup doing nothing of particular note. And that’s if they were lucky; sometimes those 12 hours were overnight, so your mother would send you out to play into the freezing rain to give him a few hours of undisturbed sleep during the day before it started all over again. And that’s just how it was, day in, day out; barely making ends meet until they turned 60 and got to retire.

For the most part, that’s not the case anymore, thank god. Work is no longer a tedious, mind-numbing 12 hours; we’ve got robots for that! The idea of ‘work’ has moved from what we go to, to what we actually do. Realistically, what do you need to get done that absolutely can’t be accomplished in your pjs, on the couch, watching Jeremy Kyle reruns? Not a whole lot. And then there are those who can’t stand being in one place for more than a meeting, flitting from one building to another, one city to another, one country to another. And it’s (mostly) thanks to digital workspaces. IT has always been designed to make life that bit easier. From the humble eat-your-finger rotary phone and the computer the size of a closet, to Google Maps and Uber; IT brings with it an improvement- even if that’s ordering a McDonalds through your Deliveroo app instead of on the computer. Unless, of course, we’re talking about the iPhone; nothing really changes year in, year out, aside from how many functions you can squeeze into a jack, and how much more screen space there is for you to break when you drop the damn thing trying to charge it while listening to Spotify. Digital workspaces, such as Citrix Workspace, play into this idea of increased simplicity, ultimately reducing the challenges that have been known to cause issues for all those involved. IT management becomes far simpler for the IT teams, while delivering a better experience for your end user.

Work securely, even on the go
It takes more than sitting in an office to make the world around us tick. But with that freedom comes a security risk that no IT department wants to face. It’s in the name; a secure digital workspace solution is, well, secure. Users are able to access their apps, data and desktops securely from wherever their ‘office’ happens to be that day- be it a McDonalds, a petrol station or their sofa (wifi not included). And since the workspace is device-transferrable, you can trust that they’ll be safe, regardless of whether they’re using a company-supplied laptop or their own device. And that security also translates to any network.

For the IT department, it allows users to do their thing without having to manually intrude in their working days, while you manage and monitor what they do through one control panel. With a single sign-on, the secure digital perimeter will follow your users wherever they are, giving you the peace of mind of contextual access that guarantees that they won’t be accessing what they shouldn’t. Because unified endpoint management comes built-in, a lot of the usual day-to-day management can be done automatically, such as the actions that are to be taken when a user violates certain rules. It basically gives you powers of god, from wherever you happen to be working. Remote wiping a device? Setting it to out-of-compliance? Revoking the device? Sending a notification to a user to correct an issue? You have the power.

Control the risk for your user
Shadow IT is an issue that has exploded in the workplace in recent years. While we have been lucky to experience so much new and amazing software to make our daily tasks faster and easier, often it proves to be too complex for the end user. Instead of making use of these monitored, regulated technologies, users are migrating to free, unsecured software (such as Dropbox or Google Drive), essentially creating an even bigger problem that what you had in the first place. And the worst part is, your IT team probably doesn’t even know about them. Is it that surprising that users are the number one reason for a security breach in an organisation? Hardly.

A good digital workspace solution will have a better, easy-to navigate file-sharing system. Let’s face it, a lot of users aren’t the most technical, and don’t want to spend half an hour trying to share a document with Stacy from HR who sits two doors down. You’d be faster to print it and send via paper plane. At Cetus, we usually set our customers up with Citrix ShareFile. It’s super easy to upload your documents for easy backup (don’t you know how important it is?) and share with other users. Store, share and sync your documents quickly across all of your devices to collaborate with colleagues and customers alike. I particularly like being able to upload a document and be able to share it with someone externally, all by using a link. And it’s just as easy to give the access some parameters; requiring the other person to supply their email to view it, or only give them a certain window to access the documents.

And since security is incorporated into the very DNA of Citrix Workspace, IT will always remain in control. Use closed-loop analytics to track user behaviour and automatically implement security protocols, giving your users all of the flexibility to work effortlessly, while being sure that everything is safe.

Access your data, wherever
With all of this cloud business being so new, a lot of organisations are trying to leverage as best they can while still working in a largely-oblivious environment. As with all things that are brilliant and new, it can take a while to get your head around all the fabulous features of cloud. As a result, it’s not unusual to go searching across your hard drives, clouds, network drives and other solutions for one single document, before giving up and Skyping the person next to you in shame and asking if they’ve seen it recently. It’s a bit of a nightmare, the amount of times you have to ask the person beside you for a document on a daily basis counts as a conversation and it’s impossible to manage everything. Welcome to the world of cloud!

Make sure to find a secure digital workspace solution that allows a simplified access to your files, creating a seamless sync across all of your apps, cloud providers, devices, company servers and content management systems already in place.
Since organisations are all different, it’s important that your digital workspace solution molds itself to you. Your storage needs and requirements will vary from other organisations and industries. Whether you have to host your data on premises for regulatory reasons, or on the cloud, with a digital workspace you have the option to flex to suit the needs of your organisation through one workspace.

Make it easy with single sign-on
Possibly one of the best features of a digital workspace is single sign-on. Because it brings together your apps, data, services and all of your devices regardless of clouds and data centres, you no longer have to worry about managing multiple security protocols. Sign in once with your organisation credentials and you have full access to everything.

Your secure digital workspace solution should work for you, by increasing flexibility, visibility and managements of everything, making everyone happy from the end user to your IT team. As a Citrix Platinum Partner, we have the expertise to bring you the best that Citrix has to offer. Have a chat with our friendly specialists to see what we can do to give you all of the benefits a secure digital workspace solution has to offer, so that you can start working smarter.

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.