Workshop

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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, 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!

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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, IT Solutions, News, Technology, Uncategorized

IPEXPO 2018: A Newbie’s Perspective


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Hybrid Cloud Orchestration pt 2: Hyperconvergence


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

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

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

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

If talking cloud and hyperconvergence excites you, you’ll be delighted to know that we’re hosting several cloud events with Citrix and Microsoft Azure in September. You’re more than welcome to join us, the more the merrier- just make sure to register today!

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

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

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

The Importance of Analytics


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For a lot of people, analytics can be boring. When you have something like a hybrid cloud solution, you just want it to work and let you get on with what you need to do. Monitoring and responding to security and performance issues are important, but can be tedious. And let’s face it, if something is tedious, chances are you’re just going to put it on the long finger and hope that the last half an hour of the work day will be enough to get it sorted. To help with all this, let me introduce you to Citrix Application Delivery Management.

NetScaler is a highly intuitive piece of software, providing centralised network management, automation, analytics, orchestration (not quite sure about hybrid cloud orchestration? I’ve already written a great blog on the subject)…. All of these tools can help you to support the various applications deployed across your hybrid cloud and containerised infrastructures. You might find yourself asking these questions; is whatever Alan is doing on the network any different from what he would normally be doing? Does a particular workload normally speak to this other workload? Has user experience changed over time? What applications and data are being used the most? These are all questions that, for one reason or another, can be important to ask. With Citrix Cloud Analytics, our clients can ask these important questions (and plenty more). By deploying Application Delivery Management, it is possible to gain a deeper insight into what is happening in your hybrid cloud environment.

The world of business is ever-changing and always innovative. There are new and cool apps appearing every day, promising to not only make your tasks easier, but also keep you customers happy. That’s why it’s so important to embrace digital transformation. This digital transformation is changing the way that applications, much like the ones you use every day, are being developed and deployed. The last thing you want is application downtime, since it will cost you money, and lots of it. One of the biggest innovations in the world of tech? You guessed it; cloud. This wonderful, futuristic phenomenon allows the much more simplistic deployment of applications and data centres. And Citrix Application Delivery Management will help you to embrace all of the possibilities of cloud to make that big job of analytics as easy as possible. Who knows, you might be able to actually go on holiday for once and leave the crucial job of monitoring to your assistant. I swear, it’s possible.

There have been so many changes in recent years in application architectures, which have been prompting the need for changes in application delivery services technology. With increasing demands, applications have become much more complex, which results in more complicated availability and troubleshooting. Add in the cloud, and all of this becomes more difficult. Thankfully, Citrix Application Delivery Management is here to meet the needs of your IT team. We’re all trying to move to transform our IT infrastructures by moving to cloud. And with that, Application Delivery Management  provides much more control and visibility.

Citrix Application Delivery Management allows you to proactively manage user and application security threats, improve application performance and support continuous operations through actionable insights collected across Citrix offerings. It has been enhanced to provide valuable insight into the performance and security of your application delivery infrastructure from an application perspective, defining how they map onto the ADC configuration. This makes it easier for you to determine the state of an application, and therefore use an application-centric approach to easily collaborate with application owners. With its new application health score, Application Delivery Management summarises how well an application is performing based on an industry-standard APDEX scoring. This allows you to investigate instances of user satisfaction as well as other performance metrics and assessments of security threats.

If you’re looking for seamless integration with many leading orchestration platforms that you deploy to automate your data centre infrastructure, NetScaler has it all. More and more data centres are moving towards the cloud, working towards a fully SaaS-based infrastructure model (and I bet yours is too). With that, automating all of those supporting services will become more important. Citrix Application Delivery Management is API-driven, enabling orchestration and analytics across a lot of third-party platforms. It also allows easy management and orchestration of containerised services as well as automating NetScaler lifecycle management and provisioning. That’s a lot of automation that should make your life that much easier. You’re welcome.

Citrix and cloud go hand in hand, and we’re delighted to announce that we’ve teamed up with Citrix and Microsoft Azure as part of our upcoming workshops. Make sure to register today discover how to leverage the cloud to boost your organisation. Only three more weeks to go!

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

 

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

Hybrid Cloud Orchestration pt 1: How it Works


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you want to learn more, come to our Citrix and Microsoft Azure workshop this September to see how it can help you conquer the power of hybrid cloud.

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

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

WannaCry: What We’ve Learned One Year On


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minimising That Pesky Cloud Sprawl


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog, Security, Uncategorized

What Would You do in the Case of a Cyber Attack?


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A cyber attack. You’d get shivers down your spine just thinking about it. As more of our lives- both personal and professional- are being moved online, the threat of a cyber attack increases, and with it the repercussions it would entail. We all have firewalls, anti-virus software, a few bulbs of garlic by the window, all to keep the bad from coming in. But eventually, regardless of what measures you take (most IT professionals would not recommend the garlic), there will be a breach. Speaking in statistics, 83% of businesses believe that the complexity of their organisational structures and IT infrastructure is putting their company at risk. And just think about what you have online; so much of your personal life, and your business. While both are sensitive (though I personally don’t really mind if my chocolate-eating habits become public knowledge), the latter could really affect your business reputation. While we all know that an attack is a real possibility, a lot of businesses haven’t really put much thought into it, and haven’t put a contingency plan in place.
So, what should you do in the case of a dreaded cyber attack?

Don’t panic- find out what happened
First of all, breathe. Until you know exactly what has been hacked into, there’s no point in fearing the worst and losing your cool- you’ll need it going forwards. Now, it’s important to find out what exactly caused the breach, and fast. Speed is a priority, and might just be what saves your reputation. What data has been compromised? How much data has been compromised? It’s also vital to determine whether you’re looking at a malicious attack or a technical glitch.

Secure your systems
Now that you know what exactly you’re dealing with, you need to contain the breach. You might think that the first call of action would be to shut everything down. Push that big red button, sound the alarms, go into lockdown. This may not be the best idea though; the hackers could sense that you’ve cottoned on and that could in turn make it harder to identify the culprits. Using another device, change your passwords and logins- the hackers may have installed software to track and record your movements. Implement a firewall on the affected machine to prevent it from broadcasting outside of your building. If you try and track down the source of the attack it may leave you open to further attacks. This is where good business continuity comes into play; even ten minutes of system downtime can be extremely costly, so switching over to an unaffected back-up can help minimise financial impact. So, does your IT solution include business continuity? Have a chat with our experts at Cetus to alleviate that worry.

Call in your legal army
As soon as you discover a breach, call in your army- of legal defence. If you don’t have a company lawyer, now is definitely the time to get one. There are plenty of legal issues to be considered, including whether or not to inform the regulator. In The UK, we have the Information Commissioners Office (or the ICO, who are spear-heading the GDPR movement in the country). Protecting your organisation from claims of malpractice is paramount. This includes how you will be informing those customers of yours that are affected. Clearly, having legal defence to point you in the right direction is crucial. At this point, it’s important to begin keeping detailed records of everything that happened and your steps to resolving the issue. Everyone who is participating in the incident response needs to keep detailed, ongoing accounts of what steps are being taken and why, as well as any costs incurred as a result of the attack. Things of particular importance to note; all incident-related communications, the identity of the systems, services, accounts, network and data affected by the breach. Don’t forget to record all of the information that is related to the amount and the type of damage that has been inflicted.

Stay alert- it might not be over yet
This is the last thing you want to hear, but realistically, it might not be the end of the nightmare. I know you just want to start putting things back together and start healing, but with the variety of scams at the moment, you might not know what you’ve fallen into. Depending on the nature of your attack, there might be more suitable incident plans to minimise damage. Ransomware attacks are the most common forms of attacks recently, as criminals scare you into paying them for control over your computer. Get in contact with your leading anti-virus firm, they always keep on top of the latest attacks- you might not be the only victim. Just make sure to keep your other devices secure- the hackers are also able to attack tablets and smartphones!

Hearing the word get out
Be prepared- you might be in the press spotlight after the attack. This is another reason why it is so important to work quickly and ensure that you take all the necessary steps to detail what you do to contain the breach and how you work towards minimising the damage. You’ll need to have a tailored statement ready as soon as possible- if you don’t have an internal PR department it would be worth investing in external support. But before the press even start reporting on the story, it is wise to inform your affected- or potentially affected- customers. It’s not a nice prospect, but the sooner your affected customers know that their data was part of the breach, the sooner they can take measures to protect themselves.

Learn from the attack- investigate!
You’ve made it, hopefully with minimum breach and your reputation still standing. But now is not the time to celebrate- it’s time to learn from the incident. Carry out a full investigation, determining how it occurred, its affects and any remedial factors that would prevent it from happening again.

And there we have it. While a cyber attack isn’t on anyone’s wishlist, these are some of the best ways of dealing with the aftermath. Not in the middle of a cyber attack right now? Come talk to one of our experts today to complete a complimentary security posture review, where we will analyse network traffic to detect a variety of security threats including malware infections,
evaluate end-point security with focus on mobile device management,
assess any threats posed within your infrastructure such as east west traffic, and more.

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, IT Solutions, Our Upcoming Events, Security, Uncategorized, VMware

When ‘Traditional’ Approaches to Security Are No Longer Enough…


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Security attacks are without doubt increasing in sophistication and frequency. With the average time to detect a breach over 200 days(!) the damage an attack could cause is frightening… Simultaneously, for many organisations their IT infrastructure and networks are becoming increasingly complex – with 83% of businesses believing the complexity of their organisational structures and IT infrastructure is putting their companies at even greater risk for security breaches.

In recent years, the number of high-profile data breaches compromising sensitive information has continued to rise. Although breaches were achieved in different ways, the majority exposed the fundamental weakness of the perimeter-centric network security model: after all, once the perimeter is breached, it is difficult to stop threats from moving laterally (east-west) throughout the data centre. These attacks have proven that investing in perimeter firewalls is insufficient and that more investment is needed to secure east-west (server-to-server) traffic.

One solution is virtualisation. Virtualisation abstracts the underlying infrastructure from the applications running on top of it, giving IT departments full visibility into the data path. Abstracting applications from the infrastructure provides the ideal enforcement point to compartmentalise applications through micro-segmentation of the network. This allows simplified security-policy creation and management. It also helps reduce the overall application infrastructure attack surface and provides the ability to effectively prevent threats from breaching the data centre. Leveraging abstraction in the data centre also protects the infrastructure from any compromise.

In our attempt to help more organisations improve their security posture, we are proud to announce that last year Cetus Solutions earned VMware’s highly sought-after specialist competency in Network Virtualisation. VMware, who pioneered the term software-defined data center (SDDC), awarded Cetus with the accolade after demonstrating technical competency, experience and expertise in delivering NSX solutions.

VMware NSX is the network virtualization and security platform for the software-defined data center. VMware NSX brings security inside the data center with fine grained policies tied to the virtual machine they protect. Essentially, with NSX, IT departments can programmatically create, snapshot, store, move, delete, and restore entire networks with the same point-and-click simplicity and speed of a virtual machine—delivering a level of security, agility, and availability never before feasible with hardware-centric or traditional operational approaches.

Our Managing Director, Mike English, had a few words on the achievement;

“We are delighted to have secured the Network Virtualisation competency from VMware. In the last twelve months, we have seen an uplift in conversations centred around data center security and particularly micro-segmentation. VMware NSX’s capabilities makes this level of protection economically and operationally feasible for the first time for a lot of customers. By gaining this competency, it shows our commitment to helping customers define, deliver and manage their security strategy in line with their business requirements.”

With the threat landscape increasing ‘traditional’ security approaches are failing to effectively secure a modern organisation. Now is the time to revaluate your approach to security. Our free-of-charge security posture review 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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