Success stories

Our customers come in all shapes and sizes.

We work with organisations from all walks of life, with different ambitions and requirements. Explore how we’ve helped them reimagine everyday, and align technology with their culture and business goals.

The second digital transformation revolution

The second digital transformation revolution is here! What tools and strategies does your organisation need to be part of it?
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Employee wellbeing: a key consideration for future technology adoption

Is employee wellbeing at the core of your business? As companies look to enhance their technologies and develop their operations, wellbeing of workers should be at the heart of transformation – find out how >
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remote working connected collaboration

Keeping remote employees connected and collaborating successfully

Remote working doesn't equate to a loss of productivity or lower levels of collaboration. With the right technology employees can work successfully.
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network infrastructure

Is your network cloud ready?

Discovery and planning is a vital part of any cloud migration project and one factor that needs to be addressed is 'is your network cloud ready?' Find out here
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What the modern workplace should look like in 2020, and why it doesn’t

What should the modern workplace look like in 2020? Like a stock photo illustrating productivity, collaboration and agility? Click here to learn more.
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What makes a good IT services provider?

How do you know if an IT services provider offers a good service? Read this post to understand the things they do, and don't do.
View case study >

How to get started with Microsoft Azure

In this post our Microsoft Azure experts share best practice to help you get started with Microsoft Azure. Learn how to get the most out of the platform
View case study >

The second digital transformation revolution

Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s Vice President for Modern Work, recently told The New Yorker that the Covid 19 pandemic has created the right conditions for a ‘second digital transformation’.

The first revolution, driven by the PC, digitised paperwork and emptied filing cabinets into servers. Physical location was still important as computing technology was local, on-premise. Since then, cloud computing has emerged and in recent years adoption has accelerated rapidly, laying the foundations for this second revolution – the digital workplace.

Digital transformation in 2021 is all about Work from Anywhere (WFA), especially for information workers. Flexible work is here to stay, with the predominant trend being ‘hybrid work’ where employees yo-yo between office and remote working. In its Work Trend Index research, Microsoft found that 70% of workers want flexible remote work options to continue (post-pandemic), while over 65% need more in-person time with their teams. In response, 66% of business decision makers say they are exploring redesigning physical spaces to accommodate hybrid work models.

Digital transformation in 2021 is people-centric

A key difference in this second digital transformation revolution is that the focus is on people. It’s about the employee experience and engagement: enabling seamless transitions between office and home, ensuring an equal experience wherever someone is working, creating innovative collaborative spaces (blending virtual and physical) and using data to monitor work patterns, employee wellbeing and performance.

So, if your business or organisation is going to be part of this digital transformation revolution, what tools do you need?

Your digital transformation toolkit

The basics

Microsoft’s Work Trend research uncovered an anomaly, “Even after a year of working from home, 42% of employees say they lack essential office supplies at home, and one in 10 don’t have an adequate internet connection to do their job. Yet, over 46% say their employer does not help them with remote work expenses.”

While technology barriers were frustrating during the first lockdown and ‘stay at home’ directive, everyone was in the same boat. Now, as employees transition to hybrid work, there is a danger of inequalities developing between those working remotely and those working in the office.

Ensuring everyone has the right technology to work from anywhere, promotes digital equality. Desktop virtualisation, broadband support and high-quality audio-visual technology help to level the playing field and support seamless transitions between the physical and virtual workplace.

High performing laptops and tablets are also a vital part of an employee’s hybrid work toolkit. In 2020 many people ‘put up’ with their home PCs and devices, often sharing these resources with other family members, and struggling to work on devices that weren’t designed for corporate use. Long term, if employees are expected to work from home for part of the week, they need corporate devices.

Device as a Service has thrown companies a lifeline, turning what was traditionally a CapEx investment into OpEx. Solutions, such as Surface as a Service, provision employees with corporate devices and accessories for a fixed monthly fee. Add ons, like IT support, can also be part of the package. Learn more here >

Workplace technology

To enable a seamless transition between remote work and the physical office, cloud apps like Microsoft Teams come into their own. We’re now all familiar with integrated tools for file sharing, instant messaging, time and project management, online meetings and calls.

Other technology to support hybrid work includes e-signatures so employees don’t have to be in a physical space to sign, or have documents signed. And to ensure that employees and guests can access and use physical workspaces safely, we need room and desk booking technology, visitor management apps and virtual scheduling tools.

Collaborative technology

Creating the right virtual and blended environments for collaboration is a significant challenge. Face-to-face contact – whether it’s a brainstorming session in a meeting room or a quick chat in the breakout area – promotes collaboration. We need to provide employees with opportunities to collaborate wherever they are, and make sure that people not in the physical office space are included.

Good quality audio-visual tech is a must. Remote workers joining a meeting online need an equal experience to those in the room. This involves provisioning meeting and conference rooms with the right equipment, and providing individuals with high quality webcams, microphones and headphones. Is it fair for a remote sales person, who needs to hit their target every month, to conduct online prospect meetings using their phone earbuds and camera when their colleagues working in the office have access to state-of-the-art audio-visual tech?

Digital whiteboards also help ensure individuals are not excluded when working from home. These capture everything on the whiteboard which can then be sent to remote workers. Even better are real time tools like Microsoft Whiteboard, which integrates with Teams meetings. This means that meeting participants can collaborate on the same whiteboard. A useful feature, Ink Grab, can also convert physical images like photos of notes or a physical whiteboard, into a vector-type image on the virtual whiteboard.

Other technology to promote impromptu collaborative moments includes ‘always on’ screens positioned in shared spaces which allow team members to see who’s in the space and chat to them. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) tools could also play a role in the hybrid workplace. Think of how game developers use the technology to provide immersive experiences for gamers and apply it to a meeting scenario or brainstorming session.

The use of your company Intranet also becomes important to help employees collaborate. Simple ideas like a skills directory hosted on your Intranet, join up distributed teams and individuals. Our own experience, at Cloud Business, has highlighted the importance of this. Our acquisition of another technology company in late 2019 meant that when the pandemic hit we were still in the process of integrating our teams. Coupled with a recruitment drive during 2020 we now have many employees who have never met their immediate colleagues in person, and certainly not the wider team.

Skills directories allow employees to identify the people they need to collaborate with and make connections that would normally occur naturally in an office environment.

Business intelligence

There are three trends identified by Microsoft that point to the need for more meaningful insights to support decision making, employee engagement and wellbeing, and improve performance. They are:

  1. Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call – in general, business leaders have thrived during lockdown compared to many of their employees who have struggled.
  2. High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce – in a global survey, one in five respondents say their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance, 54% feel overworked and 39% feel exhausted.
  3. Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energised – 60% of people between the ages of 18 and 25 in the workforce say they are “merely surviving or flat-out struggling”.

Fortunately, most organisations already have the data needed to identify, monitor and manage problems with employee engagement, stress and overwhelm, performance and productivity. As the stats below show, data can be easily accessed from the workplace technology you deploy. Creating user-friendly dashboards for leaders and managers is an effective way of providing them with the real picture of how the workforce is doing.

Microsoft compared collaboration trends in Microsoft 365 between February 2020 and February 2021. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Time spent in Microsoft Teams meetings has more than doubled (2.5X) globally.
  • The average meeting is 10 minutes longer, increasing from 35 to 45 minutes.
  • The average Teams user is sends 45% more chats per week and 42% more chats per person after hours, with chats per week still increasing.
  • The number of emails delivered to commercial and education customers via Microsoft Exchange Online in February, when compared to the same month last year, is up by 40.6 billion.
  • Microsoft has seen a 66% increase in the number of people working on documents.

Data can also be used to monitor working patterns and ensure employees have the right technology, and environment, to perform at their best. Then other tools can be deployed to help nudge employees into better working patterns or behaviour, tackling both wellbeing and performance issues.

Putting people at the heart of digital transformation

As IT professionals and business leaders you hold the keys to many of the tools to create the right environment for a successful (second) digital transformation. However, in our view, being led by the technology is the not right approach.

Instead focus on your people. Find out how they’re doing, what they need, what hybrid work looks like for them, who they need to collaborate with, and how they need to use physical and remote spaces. As stated above, you probably already have the data needed to take a temperature check of where your organisation and people are today. Combine this with research, surveys and polls to map out what technology your people need to thrive going forward.

If you need help doing this, we’d be delighted to share our expertise. We’ve been spearheading flexible work strategies for many years and can help you develop a roadmap to navigate our current digital transformation revolution. Please get in touch if you’d like an informal chat >

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Employee wellbeing: a key consideration for future technology adoption

Even before Covid-19 disrupted our everyday working lives, employee wellness programmes were growing in importance in businesses of all shapes and sizes. And with good reason.

Statistics from the UK’s Health & Safety Executive show that in 2019/20, pre-pandemic, there were an estimated 828,000 workers affected by work-related stress, resulting in an approximate 17.9 million working days missed. That’s a huge amount of lost productivity and strained working relationships.

Employee wellbeing shouldn’t be an after-thought in the workplace. The pandemic has shown us many things; one being that the resilience and flexibility of workers has been key to continuing to achieve bottom-line results. It’s clear, say leaders at Deloitte US on techtarget.com, that employees who feel less stressed perform better, and are more engaged and satisfied with their work. The pandemic has also increased our reliance on technology and accelerated adoption of IT solutions that enable remote working.

Technology and employee wellbeing (best practice)

So how do businesses embed employee wellbeing at their core? And how do emerging technologies and IT trends fit in? Here are a few ideas from us:

  • Companies should look to give tech and HR managers the opportunity to work alongside business leaders to create a holistic strategy that embeds employee wellbeing into everyday work life. Encourage everyone, from the CEO down, to discuss and understand the link between wellbeing and success. Buy-in from the entire company is vital.
  • Given how interwoven work and technology have become (both WFH and in the office), it’s key that IT leaders are central to addressing the complex challenges of stress-free working. Machines are great at aiding productivity, but tech can also add to employee stress, providing a 24/7 link to work and no escape from an ‘always on’ mindset. Consider introducing an ‘unplug lunch hour’ and/or enforcing a 5.30pm watershed for emails. Importantly, leaders should be seen to adhere to these new wellbeing initiatives themselves, achieving their own improved work/life balance and leading by example.
  • Provide remote user support to avoid worker IT frustration and stress. Flexible working, training, and learning is here to stay, but you don’t want technology to get in its way. Wherever your team are based, you should also provide access to ergonomic equipment and furniture, promoting healthy bodies as well as minds. Support such as this signal to your workers that they are valued, visible and appreciated – all great building blocks towards better performance and higher staff retention.
  • Invest in technologies such as the newly launched Microsoft Viva to help you nurture employee wellbeing and development. Described as the “first employee experience platform to bring tools for employee engagement, learning, wellbeing and knowledge discovery, directly into the flow of people’s work”, it could prove to be an extremely useful tool for your future wellbeing strategy. Microsoft Viva enables employees to access company resources directly from their screen and explore a wide variety of training and professional development through its learning platform. Watch out as it evolves through 2021.

It’s our experience that once the process of looking closely at employee wellbeing begins, a whole raft of ways in which technology can combine with empathy to improve the health and happiness of workers becomes visible. People are your power: invest in their wellbeing and you’ll see a positive return in everything from the bottom-line, to retention, to sick days.

For more information on how we can help businesses keep wellbeing front of mind when planning technological developments, speak to us today.

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remote working connected collaboration

Keeping remote employees connected and collaborating successfully

Whether your organisation is considering giving employees the flexibility to work remotely even when social distancing restrictions no longer apply, or if you’re currently unable to offer a Covid safe workplace, there are ways to boost productivity and collaboration remotely.

Here we share how to leverage technology for short term and long term successful remote working.

Develop a strategic plan

Does your organisation have a long term strategic of how technology can support your business goals and ambitions? If not, you may find that some of the decisions made about the technology needed to facilitate remote working during lockdown, are not aligned with the direction the business is taking.

We recommend taking stock and exploring what systems and applications you have or need that support business goals and the modern workplace. Then develop a strategic plan that factors in the technology needed to support remote working, hybrid working practices, and provides your organisation the agility needed to respond to unexpected change.

XaaS, everything as a service

In many cases the businesses that successfully transitioned to remote working and business as usual back in March, had already embraced SaaS, PaaS and IaaS models. This gave them the flexibility to scale up, or down, the services they required such as providing more users with access to collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams.

The benefits of the ‘as a service’ model are well known. A shift from capital to operational expenditure (capex to opex) often leads to lower total cost of ownership. Organisations get access to up-to-date technology, with fast implementation times and maintained by service providers that can leverage the economies of scale. Pay-as-you-go provides scalability to meet business requirements and react quickly to change. And they free up your IT team so they have more time and resources to focus on other projects and priorities.

Central digital hub

One of the problems we’ve seen companies struggle with over the last few months is how to keep employees connected with a distributed workforce. This is not just about ensuring employees can communicate and access information, but also have a sense of belonging that is easier to achieve in a physical office environment.

Companies that do this successfully often have a history of remote working and therefore have the tools and well-established processes to promote unity across the workforce. If your organisation has had remote working thrust upon it because of current events, you may not have had time to develop and optimise the infrastructure needed. In fact, it probably hasn’t been a priority with everything else the IT team has had to deal with.

As a result you may now find that different teams have adopted their own tools and processes to keep connected. Perhaps the Marketing department is on Slack, while Sales has discovered Yammer and Finance are relying on a weekly Zoom session.

While there is no right or wrong, and a combination of different tools for different types of communication can work successfully, a central place for all your people to connect and access company information is vital.

A modern corporate intranet creates a central digital workplace to engage employees, promote collaboration and unite a remote workforce. Intranet solutions powered by SharePoint can also help you maximise your investment in Microsoft 365. Content can be aggregated from SharePoint sites so that employees have a single view of the information they need. It can also be used to signpost employees to other collaboration tools, such as Yammer communities for different interest groups or integrate with Microsoft Teams.

24/7 IT support

Proactive and reactive IT support is more important than ever. Remote workers can only get the most out of the technology provided if they have back up should something go wrong or they get stuck. Over the last few months we’ve seen the following trends develop:

Increased demand for IT support: initially we experienced a dramatic spike in demand for support as users unfamiliar with some of the remote working tools they were given, needed more help. This has now levelled off but we’re still seeing higher ticket volumes than this time last year.

Out-of-hours IT support: with many employees continuing to juggle work and family commitments, the IT Service Desk is often required into the evening to support employees working outside of normal business hours.

Self-service support: tech-savvy employees know that if they experience a problem they can often find a solution on the internet. This has increased demand for self-service IT support solutions like ChatBots, and Knowledge Banks. Community forums are also on the increase, perhaps to replace that knowledgable colleague who employees might have previously called on when in an office environment.

If you need guidance to help you navigate the next few months, or to support long term digital transformation ambitions, do get in touch. You can book a free discovery call with one of our digital productivity consultants or speak to any of our subject matter experts about leveraging your technology.

network infrastructure

Is your network cloud ready?

In the excitement of migrating to the cloud and transforming your organisation into a high performing digital workplace, some important factors can get overlooked. Not least your network which will be critical performance and security once you’ve migrated.

Insufficient network coverage will quickly scupper that dream of increased productivity and flexibility. If your network is not fit for purpose, users may find accessing the cloud problematic and cloud applications will not perform at their best. Moreover, if cloud migration is part of your organisation’s growth strategy, network limitations will make it hard to scale on demand.

As part of our cloud assessment workshops we explore cloud readiness and whether the network is robust enough to ensure a successful cloud migration. You can find out more about these workshops here >

Network considerations for a successful cloud migration

Analyse the applications you plan to migrate

Different applications have different network requirements demanding on how much data they move across the network. High bandwidth might be critical for some, whereas delay and latency may be more of a factor for others.

Don’t forget remote employees and sites

What level of connectivity is required by users working from remote sites, such as regional offices, from home or elsewhere? Do they need to move large amounts of data across the network and therefore require high bandwidth?

Legacy on-premise applications

Applications that are either staying on-premise or will be migrated at a later date, still require network resources. However network configurations designed for on-premise platforms don’t work well in the cloud, and vice-versa. On-premise systems work well with a static network limited to a physical location but the cloud requires flexibility to manage all the network resources available universally. Network virtualisation can help you overcome these challenges.

Back up Internet Service Provider

Continuous service becomes vital when an organisation migrates to the cloud so a back up ISP is essential.

Network resources for cloud migration

You’ll also need to allocate network resources to the cloud migration to ensure a successful process. Legacy applications like on-premise email systems need a large amount of networking resources, so it’s vital that you have capacity.

Network security

The virtual and highly distributed nature of the cloud presents some challenges when it comes to security. Cloud resources not only need to be protected but it’s also vital that they’re available as more business functions are moved to the cloud. Your cyber security strategy, policies and tools must now be aligned with the cloud, as well as any hybrid solutions.

Network monitoring

As well as security considerations it’s also time to think about how you’ll maintain and monitor network performance throughout the cloud migration project and beyond. Now’s the time to find out whether your corporate LAN network monitoring tools can be integrated with a public IaaS, to give visibility on network performance inside of the cloud. Alternatively, cloud-focused network performance monitoring platforms may be an option.

If you want to understand whether your network is cloud ready, book a cloud assessment workshop with our cloud migration team. This workshop is tailored to your organisation’s requirements and cloud strategy, and will provide you with a roadmap with key recommendations for decision makers and stakeholders. Click here for more details, or get in touch directly to discuss next steps.

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What the modern workplace should look like in 2020, and why it doesn’t

You may have noticed that we’ve re-energised our blogging recently with more content about the digital workplace, and increasing productivity, collaboration, agility and all those wonderful benefits digital transformation can deliver.

Find out how to turn your organisation into a digital workplace fit for 2020 by downloading our guide here >

Every time we publish a blog we need to find a photo to illustrate the article, something that will inspire people to click on a link, and something that reflects the modern workplace. Here are a few examples of the kind of imagery that comes up when you search for ‘digital workplace’, ‘productivity’, ‘collaboration’ and other buzzwords. 

modern workplace 2020 digital transformation

Stock libraries are full of photos of people fist bumping and high-fiving each other as they seamlessly collaborate on projects, using multiple devices and drinking lattes in their supercool offices. The reality for many ‘modern’ workplaces is very different, it’s not so easy to find photos that reflect this experience but they’re usually of someone with their head in their hands staring at a laptop screen. 

modern workplace 2020 tech problems 

If this is a more accurate reflection of your office experience, it doesn’t have to be this way.  

While you may not have breakout areas, hotdesking, brainstorming spaces and other office interior design features that make your office worthy of a stock photo shoot, you can still have a productive and collaborative workplace with staff high-fiving each other over their laptops.  

The modern workplace is a digital workplace where your office exists in the cloud as well as in your premises. The digital element can overcome many of the physical challenges you may face that are barriers to productivity and collaboration. Such as an office that doesn’t have space for colleagues to work together on projects without having to book out a conference room or go off site. Or an office that can’t support your employees’ multitude of working styles, with some requiring total silence for specific tasks and others thriving in a busy and noisy open plan space. 

Digital transformation, in the form of migrating your documents, communication and systems to the cloud, can create workspaces for all these requirements – and resolve many of the productivity, communication and collaboration issues businesses face. 

Here a few common ones that you’ll probably be familiar with: 

Them and us: many departments within the business exist in silos where staff have no visibility of how they’re all contributing towards the business’s goals and all play a supportive role in helping other departments function. The ‘them and us’ mentality results in poor communication between different departments and employees, and a focus on individual targets not the overall business strategy. 

Communication and collaboration tools like Microsoft Yammer can provide a platform for employees to engage across the entire organisation.

Employee satisfaction: when systems aren’t joined up or the workplace isn’t fit for purpose your employer satisfaction rates can take a nosedive. Giving employees the right tools to perform at their best improves engagement and retention. So if your sales director can’t access the data they need from finance to set targets for next quarter, or if you’re Millennials and Gen Z employees are frustrated that they can’t use their own devices at work; you’ve got a problem.  

Conflicted versions: another bugbear for many employees is when they update a spreadsheet, document or system to get an error message that there’s a conflicted version. Then they must compare both versions and update manually, deleting one copy while praying that they’re not deleting the wrong one. Frustrating. Even worse is when you don’t know you’re using an out-of-date version, such as when you receive the ‘latest’ version from a colleague who then fails to copy you in when a new version is created. The impact of that could result in clients receiving the wrong information, erroneous brand content being shared in the public domain, and systems becoming increasingly conflicted without anyone knowing. 

Time wasting meetings: let’s face it, many meetings take too much time. Even when they’re constructive, on a personal level attending a meeting can take you away from other work for a significant chunk of time. Travelling to the meeting, waiting for the coffee order to be distributed around the boardroom table, comfort breaks or trying to dial into the legacy conferencing system can all waste time. 

Firefighting IT issues: many IT departments feel overwhelmed by the amount of firefighting they do and lack of time and resources they have to invest in more strategic work. Providing IT support for everyone else in the organisation, and customers, is a significant drain on the IT department and one that can be reduced by migrating to cloud solutions. Of course, people will still make mistakes, forget passwords and have other IT issues, but the cloud migration does reduce your maintenance burden – with the cloud company monitoring, maintaining, upgrading and patching their applications.  

Digital transformation can help address all the problems highlighted above, making your workplace look a bit more like this: 

modern workplace 2020 digital transformation-2

Cheesy I know, but if you would like a few more happy faces and a productivity boost in your office, get in touch to discuss how we can help transform your organisation into a digital workplace. Or download our free guide below to learn more about the benefits of digital transformation. 

What makes a good IT services provider?

With numerous IT services providers on the market, it can be hard to identify the right IT company to work with. Not all providers offer the same level of service, and unfortunately not all IT companies can be described as ‘good’.

Use our checklist to benchmark your current provider against SDI 4 star accreditation, or use it to shortlist IT outsourcing providers if you’re planning to move your service desk.

So how do you know if an IT service provider is good? As well as looking at reviews and testimonials from their customers and asking for recommendations from trusted associates, here are a few things that differentiate the good providers.

3 things good IT services providers do, and 3 things they don’t

Good IT service providers DO

Understand their customers and their users – these providers will take the time to understand your organisation, business objectives, challenges, IT function and requirements before proposing how they can help you. Their on-boarding process is customer focused too, ensuring that by the time their services go live they have a complete understanding of how their services will impact your business and users.

Offer specialist services – there are so many different aspects to IT that to provide a comprehensive outsourcing solution an IT service provider has to have a large team of skilled IT professionals, with numerous specialisations. While providers like Cloud Business can offer a range of services because of our internal capacity, we also specialise. For example, we’re though-leaders in the Managed Services arena, we’re digital transformation experts, we have a market-leading cyber security team and we’re Microsoft Gold Partners with extensive experience in deploying Modern Workplace solutions.

Add value – increasingly business leaders understand how IT is not purely an operational function but can also be a strategic partner in achieving business objectives. Good IT services providers also understand this and will work with your organisation to align their services with business strategies and goals. Great IT services providers will go a step further and look at where they can deliver even more value, working with your organisation and IT team as a strategic partner.

Good IT services providers DON’T

Try to fit your organisation to their business model – while Managed Services are more cost effective because providers are able to offer multiple customers the same services, good providers align their services with your organisation not the other way around. Good providers won’t force their customers to pay for services they don’t need because they’re part of a ‘package’. Instead they’ll offer a variety of options that can be tailored to your needs.

Offer general IT services – the saying ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ is very true in IT. For many IT services providers it’s not possible to have, and maintain, the skills needed to provide a vast range of IT services. IT is constantly evolving with new technology and threats impacting how services are delivered. Keeping up-to-date on such a diverse range of specialisations is not feasible unless the provider has large team of specialists.  

Stick to Service Level Agreements – good providers deliver more than the bare minimum. They are constantly looking to enhance their service and go above and beyond SLAs by doing more for their clients. Instead of just monitoring IT systems and responding to incidents, they will be exploring ways to make your IT more efficient, driving cost savings and increasing performance.

Is your IT service provider good? If you want to benchmark the IT support your organisation currently enjoys, download our checklist to rate it against industry standards. Click here >

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How to get started with Microsoft Azure

Not sure how to get started with Microsoft Azure? Well good news, it can be easier than you think. By thinking about things like goals, security and budgets before you start using Azure, you can ensure you’ll get the most out of it. Here are several tips for getting started with this cloud platform.

Make room for failure

Like anything new, getting set up on Azure takes some getting used to. So don’t just throw any old workload into the cloud. If it fails, the results could be counter-productive and costly. Instead, think about the workloads that have room for trial and error and use these as you get used to the platform.

Consider corporate policies

Your company rulebook may have something to say about moving data and apps to the cloud. Before you move anything here, make sure you know the rules and if there’s anything you need to do before you begin setting up Azure. 

Set your goals

What do you want to get out of Azure, exactly? Whether it’s reducing running costs or improving IT infrastructure, knowing what you want will help guide your actions in the cloud.

Find out yourself how Azure could transform your business by booking a free Azure consultation. This session with one of technical experts will be based on your needs, and take all of the above points into consideration. Book an initial discovery call here >

Work out your budget

Along with knowing what your goals are, you should get an idea of the budget you have to achieve them with. Take a look at your current IT budgets and spending patterns. Then think about what it would cost, and what you could save, by moving certain aspects of this to the cloud.

Develop your identity strategy

What access you do you want to give, to who, and when do you want to give it? Think about your users. Among them you may have:

  • On-premises users
  • Mobile users
  • IT admins
  • B2B partners
  • B2C customers

Active Directory (AD) used to be the way for authentication. But this was for a time before the cloud. Azure Active Directory (ADD) offers an updated approach. Here are some differences between the two you should know about:

AD

  • Made for on-premises devices and software
  • Works best with single-platform Windows
  • Used mainly for directory services via DNS
  • Hierarchal structure: forests, trees, OUs and GPOs
  • Authentication mainly via Kerberos

ADD

  • Made for the cloud
  • Works cross-platform on any browser
  • Used mainly for identity services via HTTP and HTTPS
  • Flat structure: no forests, trees, OUs or GPOs. Has domains, users and groups
  • Authentication via multiple protocols

When you’re starting your cloud journey, you may want to enable users to access your platform with their existing AD or Office 365 credentials. Later on, you may need to put some controls in. With ADD, you get flexibility in setting out which users get access to your applications, and how much access they get.

Think about security

If an unwanted or malicious guest gets into your cloud, how do you get rid of them?

No industry is entirely bulletproof from cyber-attacks, whether they’re using the cloud or not. Although Azure employs a lot of best practices for dealing with intrusion, it’s up to you to come up with a security strategy.

Do you send an alert to the intruder and shut them out as soon as you spot them, or do you wait until they start doing something suspicious? Do you run your data centre within your organisation, or ask a Microsoft partner to do this for you?

Be aware it’s not easy

Remember: the cloud doesn’t run itself. It needs:

  • Architecture design
  • Database administration
  • Network management
  • Backup monitoring
  • Operating system patching

Can you handle all of this in-house, or would it be better to let a third part supplier handle this? There’s never any shame in asking for help.

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