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Busted! Top Cloud Security Myths


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In the lead-up panic to GDPR enforcement on the 25th of May, I thought I’d go ahead and clear up a few of the cloud security myths that have been knocking around lately. As it is, according to Steve Morgan in the Cybersecurity Business Report, malware is projected to cost the world a whopping six trillion dollars a year- and that’s by 2021. And with cloud hosting getting more popular by the day, it’s nice to know where your priorities should lie while you’re trying to sort out your GDPR compliance. So, here we go! I’m counting again (if you missed that disaster on reasons to move to cloud in 2018), so we’ll see how it goes.

1. The cloud is still a new concept, and is therefore insecure.
It’s been over fifty years since the idea of cloud became an actual thing. And it was around then that the distrust started surrounding the concept. It’s an understandable worry- data in your control is far safer; you know exactly where your data is, how it got there and who has access (in theory- but we’ll save that for a further point). The point is, the cloud isn’t new. Neither is encryption or the risk of malicious people hacking in to cause chaos. As issues surrounding these breaches have come up, cloud providers have kept up and ahead, upgrading and designing new cloud solutions to ensure continuous improvement of cloud.

One of the advantages to cloud hosting is the investment cloud providers make into security. Since your data is being stored with a cloud provider, it’s up to them to update all its firmware and configuration changes. I don’t know about you, but I’m not very reliable when it comes to updating my malware or firewall. It’s so easy to ignore that annoying notification that pops up on the bottom right-hand corner of your screen when you boot up your laptop first thing in the morning. Cloud providers have much greater expertise in the area of data hosting, and they have the technical staff to deal with any issues that arise. Isn’t that one less headache to worry about?

2. On-premise hosting is best.
You gently brush your fingers down the server casing, cool to the touch, like a whisper shared only between the two of you. You know your server, it knows you. Stored in this piece of tin is not only data, but years of intimacy between you, an intimacy that you have been relying on for so long.

Except you can’t actually rely on it.

There’s a weird concept that when your data is stored on-premise it’s safer. I understand how, in our current GDPR-focused reality, being able to see exactly where your precious data is being housed can help quell fears. But in reality, on-prem hosting brings with it a whole other host of issues- issues that are your responsibility to deal with.

Take, for example, the destruction of your building. Fire, flood, paranormal activity- you get the idea. Everything goes, and it stays goes- er, gone. Then you have the possibility of questionable back-up processes, that aren’t questionable until you actually need to rely on them and realise that they haven’t been done in the last month. Oops. Then you have to ask yourself if the security measures that you’ve put in place are up to a high enough standard to protect all of your data.

And while you’re so worried about protecting yourself from the threats of the outside, what about that troublesome employee that you’ve finally gotten rid of after years of problems? Or an accidental or negligent security breach? These are far more common than getting hacked, but they could have the same disastrous consequences for your business.

3. All cloud systems provide the same levels of security.
There is a difference between a personal ‘data cloud’ and a cloud business system. One would understandably have to have far more stringent levels of security; I’m sure you can guess which. At the same time, you can’t assume that all cloud business solutions employ the same levels of security, and it’s important to make sure that you have a checklist for the kind of security measures that are required.

A ‘best in class’ cloud provider would normally have a top-quality data centre architecture that would be geographically apart (see ‘fire, flood, paranormal activity’ of the above point). Access is a big one; a good cloud provider would ensure plenty of application security that would comprise the industry standard SSL encryption. Restricted user access; does this person work for your company, and if so, are they allowed access to the data that they’re looking for? On your checklist should also be a dedicated security team who would identify and deal with any suspicious activity. And, of course, look out for ‘best in class’ security certifications to make sure that you’re in the right hands.

So that’s the myths of cloud covered. Now, imagine this; it’s gorgeous outside, you don’t fancy sitting in your grey office for the day, and your boss agrees to let you get your work done from home. Except you don’t. You find the nearest Costa/Starbucks/Café Nero with free wifi and big bay windows to let the sun in, and you plonk yourself there for the day. With your tiny laptop, you have all the power that you’d have if you were sitting in your office building. You’re able to connect to your company desktop through Citrix, and you’re able to write and edit the documents you were working on back at the office, thanks to Office 365.

Still not sure what exactly you should be worried about? Come speak to one of our experts about our free-of-charge security posture review. It will provide you an opportunity to discuss your endpoint security challenges, as well as your wider cyber security posture with regards to perimeter, data centre and cloud components.

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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

Seven Reasons to Move to Cloud


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You might think that the whole hype around storing your data in the cloud will die out in 2018- especially with GDPR enforcement just around the corner. You’d be wrong.
The truth is, cloud hosting is only going to get bigger, and you’d better start getting on board! Not quite sure exactly why cloud hosting is revolutionary (and here to stay)? These are the seven reasons why you need to move your data to the cloud in 2018;

1. Flexible monthly costs.
For most organisations, an IT department- or just a room for data storage if you’re not in need of an entire department-, is one of those niggly necessities that come with running a business.. For starters, there isn’t a need to invest in a pricy mini data centre that you need to find a spare closet for (and don’t forget that you’ll need a great aircon system too- that’s an expensive closet). Installing in-house servers, data centres, additional desktop software, back-up servers…. It all adds up. Fast. But with cloud hosting, that’s an issue from days gone by. One of the biggest benefits of cloud is the reassurance of flexible monthly costs; instead of having to spend a big chunk of money on the cloud in one go, it’s easier on everyone to set up a handy monthly payment plan. So you pay for what you need, not for extra storage that won’t get filled up for a time.

2. Easy management.
Yes, easy management. Since you’re paying for a provider, all of the nightmarish installation and maintenance that comes with a roomful of tetchy technology fall onto them. You’ll never have to toss and turn all night over an IT problem, because it will all be magically fixed by morning (in theory). Regardless, with all the competition of new technologies and plenty of solutions to choose from, cloud vendors work far harder to ensure that your experience runs smoothly and that your data remains secure.

3. Flexible scalability.
Your business is fluid. We get that. One day it’s the end of the month with all of the reports to write and file away safely, the next it’s the week before Christmas and everyone is too busy chatting around the box of Roses to do much work. Maybe you’re growing as a business and need that extra bit of space? You’ll love the cloud so. Just scale up or down depending on your needs, it doesn’t matter. Cloud hosting provides the flexibility for you to access and add new features without the need to buy more hardware. What’s not to love?

4. Automatic updates.
Yep, automatic. We know that a reminder to restart your laptop for an update at 9:30am when you’ve just gotten into the office is a nuisance. Since the cloud is outsourced to a provider, any updates won’t affect you, ever. Which means that you just have to focus on what you do and let us work on the rest.

5. Affordable redundancy.
This could technically go under ‘costs’, but I can’t count to seven* and this is cool enough to have its own little paragraph. So, where does your resilience cost lie? How many back up servers do you have, and are they separated by 25 miles, nice and safe in the case of a flood or fire? All of these clever back up solutions can cost £12 million to buy, cable up and run. Which are acceptable costs for big organisations, but not so much for smaller ones. With a public cloud provider, instead of renting a big chunk of server all for yourself, you can share it with other small businesses to split the cost. Since you’re just renting a space in the cloud to store your data, unless there is a disaster it’s not actually running through to your desktop. Sharing is caring, and saving you money.

6. Disaster recovery.
Technology is finicky. Printers misbehave for fun, computers freeze for the craic, servers decide to give up on you out of the blue. You can never be quite sure about the physical box of cables sitting in front of you, and the smallest disaster could wipe all of your data in a second. Everything just gone. Which is why cloud hosting is business continuity made easy. Should disaster strike, the cloud makes it even faster to get back up and running- if you even notice it at all. The beauty of cloud is all the backup that runs seamlessly in the background. If something were to occur, provided your backup solution calls for it, your data stream would simply switch over to another bandwidth and you’d be none the wiser. That peace of mind really is priceless, isn’t it?

7. The beauty of mobile workspace.
We’re always talking about it, but it really is something. In this day and age, to be able to look out at the snow, make yourself a big mug of coffee and ring your boss to tell him that you’ll work from home today is a miracle. In fact, aside from not needing to get out of your sweatpants for the day, you may as well be in your office; you can easily access your custom applications in the cloud and crack on. And if your job needs you to be out in the field with clients, you can bring your entire desk with you in just a smartphone or tablet. That is great customer service and chances are your sales will increase. If you’re looking for a boost in productivity and revenue, then the cloud is definitely for you.

It doesn’t get more concise than that, and if you’re still not convinced of the benefits of cloud, there’s always the option of hybrid cloud. Whichever you’re thinking about, or even if you want to start your journey to cloud, Cetus Solutions is here to help transform your IT challenges into solutions.

*I can absolutely count to seven.

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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, Uncategorized

The Sheep with No Legs, a World of Many Clouds


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Industrial revolution? The next technology wave? The new age of computing? Just exactly where are we? Automation, augmented reality, big data (too much data), analytics, the drivers for DevOps, AI, machine learning and IoT all have commercial merit and compose strong business cases to deliver that USP or unique value to your business. Long gone are the days of a ‘steady as she goes’ business, the fight for supremacy, the competitive edge and more so survival, will never leave us.

My team and I here at Cetus have been presenting the merits of “The Journey to the Cloud” and building solutions on Cloud platforms since 2010, that seems an age considering the average age of a sheep is only ten years!  Does this mean we’ve not got long left for the Cloud?!

Today we live in a world of many Clouds. I presented this at our recent annual Cetus Summit to my team, I like it! Public, private, hybrid, even bespoke clouds are all too common platform choices alongside regular physical platforms. Many Clouds depicts choice, agility and flexibility. After all no two customers are the same and differentiating business outcomes define organisational stature, a mantra deep in the core of Cetus DNA.

As many organisations have started their cloud journeys and are embracing the utility base computing model, delivering computing like the flick of a light-switch analogy, what constraints are we starting to see?

One must be open and adaptable to the X-as a service model, utilising computing technology the same way your utilities at home are consumed.  I have the little house-spy that monitors consumption of ‘Gaz and Lekkie’ so like it or not, I’m used to a consumption model.  So, it’s actually very easy for us to embrace right?!

Public Cloud adoption whilst both worldwide and dominating, delivering new ways of service delivery is, believe it or not, still in its infancy and does carry constraints.  Let’s go back to the world of many Clouds. Hybrid Cloud platforms, designed and developed specifically for you, your business, your requirements and your desired business objectives, how does that sound? Indeed, much more flexible right?!

But, yes, there’s always a but! What we are starting to see is big data continuing to grow into ‘colossal data’ and it just keeps coming and, we’re really only at the start of the IoT revolution too.  Analytics is almost imperative for management of large volumes of data for organisations to gain the crucial value of their data. Interestingly for the first time in years, hardware vendors are reporting increased sales in high powered edge computing, powerful desktops and laptops. Why? What’s driving this? Simplicity, Data and Analytics. Data can be generated too fast and too large to transport efficiently to the cloud, no doubt costly too, analytics engines need efficient data access and fast processing to produce crucial and meaningful real-time results.

So, the tin-vendors are seeing increases in edge computing sales, meeting demands for high productivity and driving computing efficiency, organisations striving for speedy real-time information at source on a more common well managed Windows 10 device. It’s not unusual for analytics engines to be local to the data, factories, plants, branch offices etc. I recently had the pleasure of understanding how a leading F1 team handles valuable car data and analytics in a matter of seconds, incredible!

So, what next? If i could give you that answer id most likely be ‘up there’ with Elon Musk and some dude named Gates!

The world of many Clouds is upon us, allowing companies like Cetus to design and develop the most flexible, tailored, agile and powerful computing solutions in our heritage. Solutions which embrace on-premise, SaaS, public and hybrid cloud platforms, together in a single managed service or consumption model, this is realism, right now, exciting times!  The increase in edge computing power arguably further stretches the cloud to the desktop, I like the phrase ‘where digital and physical worlds meet’ and forms part of the hybrid or the many-clouds solution.

A further recent debate I had discussed that Cloud is the future’… yet edge / physical computing is on the increase.  Will we see cloud saturation? Will real-time demands and the all-crucial analytics overload bandwidth and public cloud platforms driving a return to local, on premise computing?  The tin-vendors remain buoyant, selling truck-loads of servers to the world of many clouds and now similarly increasing edge computing sales… perhaps a leading indicator?

Will we see a computing singularity? I’d suggest its right here, right now…

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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 Hosting, IT Solutions, News, Technology, Uncategorized

Citrix Summit Tech Series – Smart Deployments


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It has been two months since I attended Citrix Summit and the amount of cloud conversations that we are having with our customers has rocketed. The majority of which are hybrid cloud / multi cloud conversations; or customers that have started the journey and are now looking to increase performance or management. 

Citrix Cloud is really resonating with our customers – both large and small. I will pen a blog specifically on this subject later in the month, but today I want to touch on two features of the Citrix portfolio and show how they are enabling our customers to make the transition to cloud hosted desktop and application delivery.

The first element of the Citrix solution that I wanted to cover is Smart Scale. Smart Scale is a component of the Smart Tools set that comes as part of Citrix Cloud. It allows the Citrix administrators to intelligently control the power state of the virtual desktop estate based on the required usage.

Let’s consider it in the context of a 500 concurrent user deployment for a typical 9am – 5:30pm company in the UK who wants to move to Azure. Without Smart Scale (or a lot of static manual work) they would need to pay Azure costs for 500 virtual machines for the full 744 hours a month, on the presumption the month has 31 days. Now think about how many hours are those desktops actually providing user services? Consider 2am in the morning, or perhaps on a Saturday afternoon whilst the match is on…! Using Smart Scale we can power down (and therefore not pay for) desktops that are not in use, and power them back on as needed to meet demand.

 Let’s talk through the math…
No Smart Scale:
500 virtual machines x 744 hours per month = 372,000 hours of cost per month
With Smart Scale:
The requirement is only 136,200 hours of cost per month!
That is with 10% of the desktops on 24×7 (37,200 hours) and 90% of desktops on 10 hours a working day with assumed 22 days per month average (99,000 hours)

As you can see, the power of Smart Scale to save costs – over 60% – when hosting desktops in the cloud is a very powerful enabler.

Now let’s couple this with the second element of the Citrix Portfolio that I wanted to talk about – Citrix Workspace Environment Management or WEM (yes another acronym sorry!) WEM is based on a late 2016 acquisition from Citrix of a company called NorSkale. 

I will write a review on WEM as whole at some point, however for now I wanted to focus on one key area – resource optimisation. WEM provides the ability to reduce RAM and CPU usage within a virtualised desktop environment by up to 70%. If we consider this reduction again in terms of costs when hosting desktops in the cloud (or on premise) we can get more users on that Azure instance type and further reduce costs.

If we combine these two technologies with the rest of the Citrix portfolio then we can start to significantly reduce costs and help our customers make that move to the cloud a reality, while maintaining end user performance and business security at the same time.

Want to hear more about this, Citrix Cloud and all the announcements from Summit? Speak to one of our cloud experts today.

robRob Sims – Senior Solution Architect
Rob helps customers to understand their business challenges, and guides them to leverage technology as a mechanism for change.

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

Citrix Cloud: The Coping Mechanism for Digital Disruption


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In most organisations at least one commonality exists; nobody likes unnecessary complexity. And, perhaps contrary to many stereotypes, least of all the IT department. So much so, many organisations that I have spoken to recently have prioritised simplification and automation among the highest business objectives for 2017; in order to increase their businesses agility, improve their ability to react to changing requirements and demands, and to speed up the time to value when delivering IT initiatives. 

This comes as many businesses are admittedly struggling to keep up with the constant pace of workplace change, innovations in technology, and the increasingly digital landscape in which we operate. Whilst business leaders recognise the value that digital presents including; improved productivity, effectiveness, engagement and profitability; standing in the way of achieving these objectives is complexity.

As a result, many find themselves in a state of digital disruption, with the organisations failing to react to changing workplace landscapes, user demands and organisational pressures quick enough to sustain a competitive advantage in challenging markets whilst maintaining the level of security required in today’s modern workspaces.

In addition, for many organisations it is becoming increasingly complex for their IT department to manage mobile workspace infrastructure – with vast amounts of different applications to install, ever-changing user bases to account for, challenges in forecasting capacity, both known and unknown security threats, constant installing of updates and investing in infrastructure to meet changing and unpredictable user and business demands.

This is where Citrix Cloud comes in. Citrix Cloud is a secure, evergreen SaaS like control plane that unites and integrates all of the Citrix technologies to deliver a unified administration, user experience that overcomes the challenges presented by the digital landscape – delivering workspaces the way you want that are “Secure by Design”. It has quickly become the fastest and most flexible way to securely deliver applications and data to any device, over any network, whilst simplifying the management of your secure digital workspace in the process.

In Jan 2017, I was fortunate enough to attend Citrix’s annual partner conference, Citrix Summit, and saw first-hand how and why Citrix Cloud is going to be a game changer for businesses in 2017. Quite simply, Citrix Cloud enables customers to cope effectively with digital disruption by removing complexity and empowering IT departments to say yes.

Over the past few weeks we have been running a collaborative series of workshops with Citrix SE’s to share insight and recommendations with organisations about preparing for the transition to Citrix Cloud and Hybrid Cloud strategies. Due to the positive feedback from these sessions, we added a number of additional dates for March. So if you would like to explore the features and benefits of using Citrix Cloud services, understand Citrix’s vision and roadmap for 2017 – including their strategic alliance with Microsoft “Better Together” – then we would love you to join us at one of our upcoming events.

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Rugby Union… Who is more important the Forwards or the Backs?


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Spending the afternoon with some old school pals the conversation led onto rugby (as tends to happen with the group)…with a Kiwi, an Irish man and some Englishmen in the group when the question of who the best player of all time comes up there is always heated debate. The destructive running of Jonah Lomu, the legendary game control of Brian O’Driscoll, the boot of Jonny Wilkinson – the argument goes round and round and finally the conversation leads to the unsung heroes…

The forwards that set the whole platform for enabling some of the poster boys of international rugby to succeed… Richie McCaw, Brian O’Connell and recently for England Maro Itoje all come out as those stalwarts of the pack that put the team on the front foot. Without securing the ball, making the hard yards and carrying out lots of unseen work the back line will not function. To the none expert pundit (like me) a lot of the work of the pack in rugby is in fact “invisible” yet without it the output of scoring the points would not happen and quite often these players will have the game of their careers by being “invisible!”

This week I was away at a conference where the main topic of conversation was around IT infrastructure… The debate of on premise, or cloud or hybrid infrastructure solutions was an area of keen debate and the desire to have easily manageable infrastructure solutions that can be deployed and scaled quickly without disruption, in other words, made “invisible” to the business and customers was taking front stage.

This did get me thinking of how a direct comparison can be drawn between the unseen work of the forwards in rugby to a well-managed and deployed IT infrastructure. Taking the comparison one step further, the applications that are delivering the core business function to the end user can be compared to the back line that are kicking the points and scoring the tries. It is all too easy to blame the pack in rugby for not getting the service out to the backs and this is why the Tries are not flowing freely. When applications are running quickly and as they should no thought is put into the infrastructure that they are running on, it is taken for granted, it is invisible and yet when things start to creak and groan all end users become experts and point the finger firmly at the IT team and their infrastructure.

In the modern world of IT infrastructure the customer has a great deal of choice as to what shape that platform takes: traditional on premise servers, converged infrastructure, hyper converged infrastructure, private cloud, hybrid cloud and public cloud… there is no blanket right or wrong answer it is making sure you have a full understanding of what platform / platforms you need to deliver the correct service to the end users (or try scorers) is in place to maximise their productivity and success.

When Cetus first engage with any customer they spend a great deal of time discussing and helping set up your pack…With knowledge and experience across the breadth and depth of infrastructure solutions Cetus are perfectly positioned to help you make sure the decisions you are making now are the best for your business. We can help you ensure you can continue to offer an excellent IT infrastructure to ensure your business applications are running to optimal performance to help the business deliver its key goals (or score its Tries.)

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Our agile infrastructure solutions are built on the pretence of making IT infrastructure invisible – giving you the ultimate flexibility and scale to respond rapidly to your changing business needs and demands. With the intention of lowering risk to your business and lowering your total cost of ownership – allowing your IT team to focus on important business initiatives and driving innovation throughout the business, knowing that their infrastructure solution is ready for anything.
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Take a look at our Agile Infrastructure solutions

 

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The Future is Cloud First


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Will you still be relevant after cloud? Will your business still be able to compete in the market you operate in? These are the questions that businesses have to consider, adapt and plan for in today’s technology-transformed landscape, and the reason why an increasing amount of businesses are adopting a “why not cloud” approach to their IT strategy.

Over the past few years, cloud adoption has prevailed in the context of both business and personal usage – with reportedly over 84% of UK businesses having formally adopted cloud services. Gartner analysts predict that by 2020, a corporate ‘no-cloud’ policy will be as rare as a ‘no-internet’ policy is today, but in actual fact we believe that most UK-based businesses are close to that stance today.

It therefore comes as no surprise that cloud services have dominated the conversations that we have had with our customers for many years, but notably the conversations have changed – further echoing the rate of adoption and acceptance of cloud in the workplace.

From demystifying the cloud, to leveraging the cloud.
When cloud services were in their infancy, much of our time was spent demystifying the cloud – educating businesses about what cloud was all about, and helping them transition into being ‘cloud-ready’; however it has become an increasingly different conversation. Today, we are talking about how businesses can leverage the cloud to optimise their business outcomes, and remain relevant and competitive in a challenging economy.

After all, the risk of not keeping up can be costly. Whilst businesses may be able to delay cloud locally, within their immediate environment, change and transformation cannot be stopped – particularly where there are positive outcomes to be achieved. With cloud looking like an inevitable infrastructure choice, the key for businesses is identifying the optimum point to adapt and change –whether that be to a public, private or hybrid cloud environment.

Determining the right cloud for your business – public, private or hybrid.
It’s not always IT departments leading the decision-making process anymore. We are seeing an increasing amount of instances where the board are making the decision of cloud-first strategy independent of technology and delegating to the IT department to implement. To some extent, end users are also driving the decision for cloud by dictating what they need to work more productively. The most important decision does however remain with IT… which cloud is best for my business?

This decision creates many ‘nice’ but important considerations for IT. Many of the problems that non-cloud solutions create – including over-provisioning against user demand – may be alleviated by cloud, however the declining price of cloud can in actual fact create a conundrum for many.

An example of this is AWS announcing their 51st price reduction earlier this year – many IaaS providers are ultimately forced to drop out of the market as they are unable to achieve the economies of scale to be able to provide the same level of service at a competitive price point; reiterated by IDC who predict that 75% of IaaS provider offerings will be redesigned, re-branded or phased out in the next 12-24 months.

Whilst this means that the cloud provides attractively priced solutions, it also means that a strategic decision to go public cloud can introduce risk if you back a single cloud provider directly. Choosing a hybrid cloud can protect you from this risk, and optimise the DR of your cloud based services in the process.

Whilst consuming services of a top-right Gartner magic quadrant provider may drive down your costs, and potentially improve the levels of service, this can cause the problem of an inability to maintain a direct relationship with your cloud provider. So how do you build a relationship with AWS for example?

That’s where Cetus come in.
Cetus has been a driver of the transformation of cloud services. We have been at the forefront of getting customers “cloud-ready” and have organically evolved to empower customers to thrive using cloud services. We still design, build and support, the difference is the flexibility and expertise we provide when helping you determine where you want your IT services to reside.

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