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

Windows 7 to Windows 10: Migration Best Practices


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So, you’re thinking of migrating to Windows 10 before the Windows 7 end of life cut-off date. As much as your operating system isn’t always something you ponder, letting go of Windows 7 has proven to be a difficult step for a lot of users and, let’s face it, you too. But, with extended support ending in January 2020, it’s no longer something that organisations can ignore. In fact, the longer migration is left the more stressful it will be. It’s important to realise that the times are changing; Windows 10 isn’t a traditional migration by any means. Microsoft has labelled it the ‘final’ OS, by rethinking the old system of new versions every three years. This new ‘evergreen’ method eliminates the need to constantly create something better and new, by updating automatically twice a year indefinitely so that you don’t need to think about it.

While organisations can still enjoy the security of the extended support for a little while longer, it is imperative that a migration to Windows 10 gets completed before the deadline. Forgoing the update will result in an unsecure operating system. Microsoft will no longer offer technical support, software updates, security updates or fixes. Your organisation will be at greater risk for viruses and malware, leaving you open to not only significant fines, but the risk of cyber criminals exploiting the lapse. But why migrate to Windows 10 specifically? Aside from the obvious evergreen operating system, Microsoft has also officially pledged that organisations that adopt Windows 10 are unlikely to face any compatibility issues. To help you embrace the new possibilities of Windows 10, here are the best practices to make your migration as smooth as possible.

This is a transformation, not a migration
Windows 10 is unique in terms of Windows OS as it brings with it an opportunity for organisations to rethink how they do Windows management, by using new modern management features. These offer IT departments the chance to manage PCs in a way similar to mobile devices, which is significant as it allows them to manage all end-user computing devices, regardless of operating system, with the same set of tools. Modern management also allows for anywhere and anytime management, even if they’re off the domain- and it’s easier, lightweight and more modern in terms of management overall.

Pick the right version of Windows 10
With the new version of Windows, Microsoft has made three versions available for customers to choose from.
1. The Windows Insider Program (WIP) offers users the opportunity to be an early adapter of the latest features that will eventually be incorporated into the mainstream version. It’s a way for users to get a sneak peek into what’s in store.
2. The Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) is optimal for users with devices that do not change and are fixed in function, such as point-of-sale (POS), kiosks, bank teller devices and PCs attached to manufacturing or healthcare devices. This version is exclusive to organisations and is not intended for mainstream PCs.
3. The most common version deployed is the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC). This is the one whose target audience is business computers for production and is designed for the most common scenarios. Each SAC release is available for 18 months, its first pilot stage for three.

Getting the right team together
The vast majority of organisations have already successfully completed other Windows migrations in the past. This Windows 10 migration is slightly different, due to the potential impact to a broader audience, so it will require a strong cross-team effort to achieve the desired results. Your team should be made up of a project manager, a technical lead, representation from appdev, and user business units so that their interests can be included. To make sure that the migration runs smoothly, the team should be committed at least part time for three to six months (or even longer), depending on the size of your organisation, the complexity of the project and priorities.

Use standardisation to reduce complexity
PC computing can become fairly complex due to the variables of device types, application updates and user-injected activities constantly changes the makeup of what generally becomes a standard configuration. Migrating to Windows 10 is the best time to eliminate any unnecessary configurations that add to the complexity. Make the most for your IT team erasing needless applications, reducing the number of device types and minimising the variability of user configurations.

Consider different approaches to your Windows migration
There are several ways that you can handle a Windows migration.
PC refresh
This is the first choice for new PCs since there’s no legacy technology to worry about. It can however, cost a bit more, as the OEM image often includes bloatware and is generally incomplete for most users.
In-place upgrade
These are usually popular for Windows 10 since Microsoft made the upgrade process far simpler and easy to manage. Just remember that legacy application capability issues and less than ideal configurations get moved as part of the process.
Re-imagining
Extending the life of PC assets, re-imagining resets the image to a known-good state that has to be tested and vetted properly. It can, however, be expensive as new images need to be created for existing PCs and can take several weeks.
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)
For the last option, VDI allows for high degrees of standardisation in a secure way from a centralised infrastructure. VDI migrations are ideal for organisations whose users have an identical application need, such as call centres or with remote agents. A slight downside, VDI does require infrastructure, which some customers find challenging.

Embrace unified endpoint management
Possibly the most significant opportunity to arise from the Windows 7 end of life is the possibility to adopt a modern IT management style that will not only positively affect your users, but your organisation as well, by leveraging unified endpoint management. It provides numerous benefits across physical devices, while enhancing security through modern configuration management of user policies, which handles the deployment of applications and manages OS patch management activities. This approach allows organisations to manage Windows with the same skills being used today on mobile while unifying activities across all EUC environments.

Sounds good? Here are the minimum hardware requirements to run Windows 10 smoothly; a 1GHz processor, 1 GB (32-bit) RAM, 16GB of hard disk space, a Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with a WDDM diver, and- obviously-, a Microsoft account and internet access. Basically, they’re the same as for Windows 7, but with a processor that supports PAE, NX and SSE2.

There is so much more to an organisation than its operating system, but then it’s such a critical part. Here at Cetus, your organisation’s IT is our priority, and with the Windows 7 end of life coming ever closer we’re the best choice for your Windows 10 deployment and support. Make sure to have a chat our experts sooner rather than later, and make the switch to Windows 10 the easiest you’ve ever experienced.

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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, Featured, IT Solutions, News, Press Release, Uncategorized

A New Future For Cetus


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It has been a long time coming. Ask anyone at Cetus; the old HQ was getting a bit, uhm, cramped. There was the nightmare that was the car park situation, with only ten spaces for the whole team of us Cetusites who could appear in droves at any moment- god forbid we have any vendor or partners in, things would get particularly messy-, the morning commute became a tad more frustrating before the first coffee of the day. Even with a department reshuffle within the building last October, which included boardroom tables moving from one floor to another, we’ve all ended up having to sit on each other’s laps at some point. But that is all set to change.

Cetus has been growing at an exponential rate and our old building in Salford Quays just couldn’t keep up. With the introduction of our sister brand instrato last summer, we’ve been setting ourselves bigger and more ambitious goals, which we just couldn’t achieve from such a tiny building. You know what they say; ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’. Except it was the opposite; from our little square building- more fitting for an episode of Blue’s Clues than an IT solutions firm extraordinaire- Cetus HQ was just not reflective of the huge projects and exciting challenges that we had going on.

After months of meetings behind closed doors and whispers in the hallways, we can finally publicly announce our flashy new Cetus HQ. Located near the Trafford Centre just outside of Manchester city, it’s two floors of sleek new desks, modern meeting rooms and, most importantly, a bigger kitchen. You know that it’s a Cetus building, with our logo and distinctive ‘Cetus purple’ everywhere. Not to gloat (too much), we have more parking spaces than we could shake a stick at, the sleekest boardrooms for the world-conquering that we get up to, plenty of break-out spaces to use for impromptu discussions without having to use an entire boardroom and lots of hot desks for the various Cetusites/vendors/partners that come to soak up all of that Cetus magic. And it’s all packaged in 360 degrees of windows for all of that sweet, sweet vitamin D.

The whole project is the epitome of the teamwork and make-things-happen attitude we have at Cetus. The mammoth task of getting Cetus into our new home had members from every department working day and night on all of the finer details to make the dream a reality. And all while making sure that all the daily tasks and huge projects continued as normal. Now that’s multitasking.

So, what does this mean for our extended Cetus family- the very people and organisations that give us the reason to get up in the morning? Now, we finally have the room to think. Cetus is made up of geniuses, whether they’re techies, sales people, Marketing or administration. With the space to think, plan and execute the strategies that we spend so much time working on, we can work on bigger things. The Cetus team is growing, and this building allows us to do that without compromising the well-being of the existing team.

With an emphasis on collaboration, we’re looking forward to having the brightest minds from our partners and partner vendors come in and work alongside us. With all of the teamwork, space to think and sparkly new everything, the motivation at Cetus is at an all-time high. More than ever, we’re ready to prove that what we have at Cetus is more than just some IT solutions to help your organisation run smoothly. We are part of your IT, from development stages to building and deploying your perfect solution, and we remain part of your IT long after it goes live. This new building and everything that comes with it is not just for us, it’s for all of those organisations, IT teams and end users that make up the wider Cetus family. This is a new chapter in Cetus history, and it’ll be the biggest yet. So strap in and join us for the latest crazy ride.

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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.

 

Cloud, Microsoft, Technology, Uncategorized, VMware

Prepare Your Business for Windows 7 End of Life


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Why would you ever change a good thing? Because of end of life, that’s why. Grab your tissues, we’re delving into the topic that’s provoking international furore and mourning; the painful issue of Windows 7 end of life. When it comes to desktop and laptop operating systems for both personal and professional use, Windows 7 has been number one since its release in 2009. Originally intended to be an incremental upgrade to Microsoft Windows, especially after the disaster that was Windows Vista three years prior, it maintains hardware and software compatibility. A major improvement to its predecessor, Windows 7 quickly won the hearts of every computer user worldwide. Sadly, tech hard- and software are not designed to last, and it was only a matter of time before it would see end of life. Though Microsoft has tried to ease the public into the idea of something bigger and better with the release of Windows 8 (which didn’t go down as well as expected) and Windows 10 (which just isn’t Windows 7), the truth is, frankly, hard to swallow.

“But why?” you sob, “We don’t have to let it go, no one would know!” Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that. Well, it could, but it would open your organisation to all of the nasties that would just love the chance to infiltrate your system. The main problem here is support. You might be surprised to hear that mainstream support for Windows 7 ended all the way back in 2015, which means that Microsoft hasn’t been releasing feature update and service packs since then. That might give you some hope, but alas, I’m here to dash those completely. The only reason that you’ve been safely able to use Windows 7 up until now was thanks to the security patches released through the extended support period, which will end on the 14th January 2020.

Technically, you could continue to use Windows 7 after the extended support period, but the risk of a cyberattack would be significantly higher, and you’d have to ask yourself if it would be worth the risk. Microsoft won’t be taking any responsibility for any security breaches that happen to a Windows 7 operating system after the end of life date, and any breach could land you in deep water (and a deeper fine) in terms of the new GDPR regulations. The issue with end of life is the loss of the security updates that fix vulnerabilities that hackers exploit. Any new computer viruses and malware being created would be far more advanced compared to the old security patches. Why put so much money and time into protecting your business data only to leave your organisation wide open to any cyber attack that happens to be the goût du jour? You might think that 14th of January is miles away. And it is, but in terms of IT it’s not long at all.

So, if ever it was time for a spring clean, now would be it! The more time you have to plan, the less disruption your IT team and end users are likely to experience, which is likely to happen if your software is incompatible with your new operating system. Compatibility is likely to be an issue here, as is old hardware (oh look, a new reason for your printer to refuse to cooperate) and your legacy systems. Since it’s effectively changing the very foundation on which your laptops and desktops rely on, it’s important to make sure that your systems remain interoperable with one another. Some applications might have newer, more compatible versions available which will work flawlessly on your updated operating system. Another option is to move your legacy applications to a virtualised computing environment, easing the change. Before jumping straight into an OS change, it’s important to have a strategy in place to prevent everything from going a bit pie-shaped and cause any more tears. The good news is, if you’re relying on a cloud-hosted system, upgrading your operating system shouldn’t be much of an issue at all.

With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft has introduced the ‘evergreen’ Windows as a service model. This is a complete revolution in terms of OS, and it has launched the idea of a ‘final’ desktop release. Instead of having to migrate to new versions every three years, Windows 10 will continuously update every six months or so, providing continued support and patched security. With shorter release periods (only 18 months now), Windows 10 can’t be treated like a traditional version. To make things that much easier, it’s now possible for an in-place upgrade, meaning that you don’t need to migrate your data and reinstall all of your programs. Windows 10 provides plenty of new features for users when compared to Windows 7, such as Windows Autopilot, which automatically provisions and enrols your device when you sign in, provided that you’re connected to the internet.

January 14th next year will be an incredibly sad day for the millions of Windows 7 users who have so far refused to move on. We’re expecting a world-wide shortage of tissues, ice cream and Windows 10, a resounding wail of “Not Windows 7! What is this Windows 10 malarkey?” reverberating in the crisp January air. Here at Cetus we know that change is scary and unwanted. We feel the pain of saying goodbye to Windows 7, but know that when it comes to your organisation, we will help ease all parties into the next operating system step. Make sure to have a chat with our experts, who will provide the tissues during this painful time, and every other OS change in the future. If you want the most in-depth info and latest tips, make sure to register for our exclusive hands-on workshop with VMware in May.

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

 

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

When 2019 Comes


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It was the mid-nineties, ‘IT’ was the new ‘data processing’, and we’d started using a new gadget called a ‘modem’ to connect our business to the outside world. They were exciting times; technology was changing how we communicated; and we could access technical information at any time. So … I decided that it was time to enlighten my team with a broad-thinking; almost visionary statement: “this Internet thing is really cool … but it’s just for techies”.

In hindsight; it ‘might’ be argued that my statement was, perhaps, a little bit short of ‘visionary’. In fairness; my comment was based on the, then, limited capabilities of CompuServe; which was nothing more than a chat group and download site for technical documents.

And so, with my ability to predict the future firmly and clearly established; it’s time for me to get to the topic of this blog: Top Predictions for 2019. As we, Cetus, look forward to the year ahead; we’re keenly aware that a number of technological drivers will affect the nature of our business. Here’s a few of the key drivers that we are gearing up for 2019:

1. The Internet. I’d better address this one – the Internet will continue to be quite popular in 2019. There, that’s that one put to bed.

2. Windows Desktops. Once the direct target of our VDI marketing efforts (due to its total cost of ownership and unpredictable user experience); the ability of Windows 10, in particular, to deliver a well-managed user environment has put Windows 10 back on the ascendancy.

3. Hybrid-Cloud. It’s been around for quite some time now, and many solutions providers are saying that it’s the future apparently. We beg to differ. Hybrid-Cloud is the ‘now’. You need look no further than Office 365 and SalesForce to see that we have been hybridising our clouds for quite some time now. 2019, however, will see the adoption of IaaS and PaaS, from the likes of Microsoft Azure and AWS, increasingly be the first choice of organisations across all sectors, public and private. 2019 will continue to favour solution providers who recognise that the resulting complexity is a feature not a failure of hybrid cloud; and who provide solutions that embrace and mitigate the complexity, rather than amplify it.

4. SD-WAN. Strongly related to the increasing adoption of the hybrid-cloud model; Software Defined WANs will see significant growth due to their ability to provide: increased resilience, lower price point and better performance over traditional WAN deployment methodologies.

5. Gen-V Security. Also referred to as Next Generation Security – the ability to deploy advanced threat protection that integrates boundary protection, endpoint protection and community threat intelligence is becoming a business necessity, rather than a nicety. Throw in Analytics and Micro-segmentation and you’ll soon realise that technology is providing a robust response to today’s multi-threat cyber security environment.

6. Virtual Workspaces. You might think that this is just the latest marketing term for VDI. We see it rather differently. Virtual Workspaces encompass more than just the desktop; we deliver a workspace that sees the desktop as merely a means to an end; namely a way of accessing applications and data. A Virtual Workspace now, more than ever, must be mindful of the desire of organisations and users to access their workspace using any device; from any location and at any time.

7. Automation. Our principle partners; Citrix, Microsoft and VMware all recognise that the increasing complexity of today’s IT environments require a more open approach to integration. This manifests itself as an increasing focus on cross IT element automation; relieving the IT function of large swathes of BAU activities, allowing them to focus on business innovation.

The above are all encapsulated by our 2019 Solutions Portfolio. By working closely with our primary vendor partners; we are able to draw down their strategic visions, and to combine these with over 17 years of delivering Secure Application and Data Delivery Platform solutions. The result is that we now have hundreds of customers who count on us to help guide them through turbulent times; who see us an extension of their IT teams; and with whom we have the genuine pleasure of travelling into 2019 as partners.

To hear more about how we can help your organisation get ready for the challenges of 2019; why not keep an eye out on our events page to hear all about our upcoming Citrix events?

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Citrix, Microsoft, News, Press Release, Uncategorized

Citrix Platinum Partner, Cetus Solutions, to Showcase New Brand at IPEXPO 2018


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Citrix Platinum Partner, Cetus Solutions, will be showcasing, instrato, its Hybrid Cloud Solution stack at this year’s IP Expo.

Officially launched in July of this year, instrato focuses on delivering high-quality cloud deployments for organisations that are looking to move to the cloud as part of their digital transformation strategy.

Cetus Solutions is one of the UK’s leading Citrix Platinum partners and multiple award winners with over 17-years’ experience in delivering tailored solutions to customers.

As one of only three partners who hold all four esteemed Citrix Specialisations – A Citrix worldwide recognised standard achieved by only the technical elite – Cetus design and deliver Secure Application and Data Delivery Platforms embracing Citrix’s Networking and Digital Cloud Workspace solutions.

instrato brings together Cetus’ experience and successful business outcomes in building hybrid cloud infrastructure solutions.

This experience, while not born in the cloud, was born from unparalleled solution experience and industry knowledge. instrato delivers one of the most prominent and proven hybrid cloud solutions for Citrix and Microsoft Azure platforms.

Cetus has exhibited at IP Expo since 2012, and as an established Citrix partner will be exhibiting this year in the Citrix Partner Zone on stand K26, demonstrating the company’s experience and knowledge in Citrix’s Workspace, Networking and Analytic solutions.

Plus, Cetus’ customer, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, will be speaking at the event on 3rd October at 13:40 in the App Virtualisation & Mobile Workspaces theatre. Justin Beardsmore, the Trust’s CIO, will be explaining why L&G NHS Trust chose to work with Cetus to deploy over 6,000Citrix virtual workspaces on Microsoft Azure as part of its modern workspace strategy.

For more information on this release, please contact Colleen O’Brien: 0161 848 4315

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

instrato or Lexus?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blog, GDPR, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

Is The Password Dead?


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My boyfriend was amazing me last weekend when he showed me how he could unlock his brand-new Google Pixel 2 using just his voice. I was seriously impressed until he laughed and showed me the index scanner on the back that actually unlocked it. To be honest, it’s a perfectly useless piece of hardware since I know his pin code anyway. Which isn’t much of a win- I just get full access to the albums upon albums of stupid memes that he stores for later consumption.

These days, it seems as though you’d need to live and work in the Pentagon to keep your data safe. And even then, you’d probably be safer by having a photographic memory and never writing or typing anything. Ever. For the entirety of your life- and chances are, you’ve ballsed that one up already, right? If not, there you go, cyber security problem solved. You can tell that annoying antivirus update pop-up reminder where to stick it because you JUST DON’T NEED IT. However, if you don’t have the privilege of a) living in the Pentagon or b) having a photographic memory, then keeping your data safe can be a smidge harder (and I’m betting that’s most of us). Back in the old days of computers and the internet, simple passwords were enough to keep sensitive data safe. Nowadays, the opportunities for cyber criminals to exploit this information are too good for these less-than-moral people to miss out on.

But, as with the Google Pixel 2, we’re quickly catching on to the fact that a simple password or pin number isn’t enough, especially when it comes to our accounts online. According to password management company Dashlane, a single email address can be registered to a whopping 130 passwords. This tells us that some people either have too much time on their hands or a terrible memory, or both. Let’s be honest, when we have a password that we can remember, has a capital letter, a special character AND contains more than eight letters, we all use the same one for the random things around the web. Deliveroo, Amazon, Tesco Delivery; so many things are online now and they all require an account. And it’s not much better in the workplace. ‘For security purposes’, passwords get changed every three months or so at work, but it’s just a case of using a particular word and going up the number line each time we get that annoying notification. I am definitely guilty of this (I wait until the absolute last minute to message around to all of our IT support techies to get it changed. So they all end up knowing my new password. I like to call it ‘herd immunity’). And 42% of workers admit to sharing their passwords with co-workers. So, in the age of GRPR and a heightened awareness of cybercrime, we have to ask ourselves; is the password dead?

A recent Verizon report states that two thirds of data breaches are caused by stolen passwords or misused credentials. So basically human error. And it’s not like we can remove that problem until AI progresses enough to create robots that can do the work for us- wouldn’t that be convenient? Maybe robots are the answer, but not in the short term.

Passwords are a lot like mayonnaise. You wouldn’t consume it on its own (or at least not more than a tablespoonful or two straight from the jar at a time), but it’s a nice little addition to a dish. So what would be the ‘piece de resistance’? We have biometrics that are starting to become popular. Even I managed to fall into the ‘high tech’ phenomenon of having a thumb scanner on my ancient iPhone. And how many times has NatWest bothered me about getting their banking app? “It’s so much safer!” they say. “I don’t trust mobile devices!” I scream back. “WE’VE NEVER HAD A SECURITY BREACH!” they holler. “I WILL NOT BELIEVE IT!” I finish. I’m paraphrasing, of course, the conversation I had with my, considerably older, banking agent. Shocked that a twenty-something would have so little faith in technology, he took out his fancy phone to show me. Needless to say, I won that argument. As it was, it took me a while to get into the idea of biometrics. Realistically, all it takes is some criminal genius to sever your finger to access your bank account. I don’t know about you, but having someone steal my money after stealing my thumb is, quite literally, adding insult to injury.

So what about removing the password altogether? I’m not suggesting we scrap the whole thing, of course. But multi-factor authentication has become something of interest recently. Microsoft shocked the world in May when they announced in a blog post that they were trying to rid the world of passwords for good. Promising a future where end users will never have to deal with passwords while also vowing that user credentials will never be ‘cracked, breached or phished’ seems too good to be true. But apparently, with 47 million users worldwide, Windows Hello is very much a thing. And it only needs one authentication method; facial recognition (luckily, you’re slightly less likely of having your face severed), fingerprint or retina scan. If you are absolutely adamant that fingerprint scan is the way you want to go, you can buy a tiny little USB device to plug into your laptop, a bit like the connection bit of a wireless keyboard. I’ve said it before, but starting my day like Tom Cruise in Minority Report sounds pretty cool. I might just start getting out of bed at the first alarm every morning. My ultimate favourite feature of Windows Hello is Dynamic Lock. It’s a fancy name for something pretty simple; essentially, your computer detects when you’re out of reach and automatically locks itself. And by ‘you’, I mean your phone. So you’ll never have to worry about fire drills, emergency pee breaks, or having your laptop stolen out of the window by sleuths with fishing rods. True peace of mind.

What makes Windows Hello so secure? If you use facial or fingerprint recognition, Microsoft does not transfer the raw data over the internet. So that’s already a huge chunk of potential Mission Impossible criminals who won’t be able to make latex copies to break in. Apparently, Microsoft doesn’t even store the raw data, creating a digital abstraction instead that can only be interpreted with a machine. And what user information does get transferred across the internet gets encrypted to almost-Pentagon standards. And all you need is the Windows 10 Anniversary Update- easy!

So, what do you think? Will you be chucking that little black notebook full of usernames and passwords? (Maybe burn it instead) Or will you insist on keeping the same password you’ve used since you had to put your social media profiles on private? Either way, you might be interested in hearing what our experts 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 Hosting, IT Solutions, Microsoft, Our Upcoming Events, Uncategorized

A Brief History of Azure


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

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

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

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

Back to 2018; Microsoft Azure enjoys a very mature, stable and reliable reputation as a secure public cloud provider, holding the title of second-largest IaaS and PaaS provider (behind Amazon Web Services) in the world. We are proud to work with Microsoft, obviously a huge name in the world of IT in its own right, but also with Azure. We regularly incorporate the platform as part of a business challenge solution as its flexibility and dependability are second to none. We hope this blog post has piqued your interest in the opportunities that Azure can open. If you want to keep up-to-date with what’s going on with Citrix, make sure to keep an eye on our events page where we regularly share workshops and webinars to keep you in the know!

 

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

Blog, Citrix, Cloud, IT Solutions, News, Uncategorized

What is ‘New’?


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

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

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

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

They each have their limitations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blog, Citrix, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, News, Uncategorized

Citrix Summit 2018


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This week, I’ve been in Anaheim at Citrix’s annual partner conference – Citrix Summit. The event provides an opportunity to hear from Citrix’s executive leadership team about the vision and strategy for the year ahead, share industry perspective and innovation, and attend a range of interactive breakout sessions that focus on how Citrix technology can be applied to initiate change, transform organisations and solve real-world challenges to improve the way people work.

For me, Citrix Summit always proves to be invaluable. In the busy nature of every day work life, it can often be challenging to find time to fully embrace and evaluate new concepts, approaches and innovation. With the industry moving at pace, this is just one of the reasons why I love Summit… it provides an opportunity to hear, see, discuss the future of the workspace among friends and peers.

With Citrix experiencing plenty of change within the last year – including former CEO Kirill Tatarinov’s departure – I was apprehensive to see how the Citrix story had evolved. However, from the opening keynote it was evident was that Citrix’s technology focus on ‘people’ has filtered through to the top.

David Henshall proved to be a welcomed and refreshing leader – addressing critics from early 2017 head on by acknowledging that some negative press that Citrix received was justified yet by no means acceptable to the business. He continued to discuss how Citrix has turned around to end the year on a series of records including; record revenue numbers, record cash flow, record profits, record share price and record innovation – with 122% increase in new patents filed in over a year, an 80% increase in product releases, and 4 analyst leadership positions for EFSS, Mobility, UEM and Networking.

More exciting to see was Citrix’s secure digital workspace vision, which in my opinion, is superior to any other vendor in this space. Simple, secure and unified. Visionary enough that people understand the direction, development and investment Citrix are moving into the future, yet real enough that customers can get on board with that vision today and accelerate their cloud strategy to achieve benefits and eliminate / manage challenges right now.

“The cloud is not a destination… It’s the beginning of a new journey.”

Citrix’s products have evolved into solution areas; Citrix Workspace, Citrix Networking and Citrix Analytics with people-centric embedded security at the centre. The benefits of using Citrix technology together as a unified solution rather than separate products is core to the Citrix story and it’s because of this integration why Citrix stands out among many vendors. With the workspace, networking and analytics solutions integrating together to provide an unrivalled workspace where user experience, security and choice are of upmost importance. And, on integration… Microsoft corporate vice president for Enterprise Client & Mobility, Brad Anderson, joined the keynote to describe a deeper integration and partnership between Citrix and Microsoft than ever before.

As a Citrix Platinum and specialist partner, we are so excited for 2018. This year there is promise of faster, focused innovation and upmost support to accelerate customers to benefit from Citrix Cloud Services. It’s not about workloads… It’s about people. And we look forward to helping you enable your people, with Citrix, in 2018.

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