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.

What is zero trust security and how can it be implemented?

To stay safe in 2021, the entire approach to network security must be reconsidered. If you want to find out more about zero trust security and how it can be implemented, read this >
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What are Microsoft 365 Managed Services?

Find out what Microsoft 365 Managed Services deliver and the benefits of outsourcing this IT operation in this article.
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What to look for in a new IT service provider

Are you looking for a new IT service provider? If so, read this blog post which shared 5 important things to look for when shortlisting potential partners >
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Tackle IT security risks with these 5 strategies!

How can you keep your organisation safe from IT security risks? Explore these 5 strategies to protect your organisation, people and data.
View case study >

What is IT outsourcing?

Find out more about IT outsourcing in this blog post where we explore what it is, the benefits and use cases, and how to get started. Click on the link >
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Six reasons why cyber crime is increasing, and what you can do about it

Why is cyber crime increasing and what threats do you need to protect your organisation from? Find out here >
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IT outsourcing FAQ

If you have a question our IT outsourcing FAQ will help. From "what can I outsource?" to "how can I measure performance?", get the answers here.
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Windows Autopatch

Please sir, I’ve forgotten my login!

In this post Head of Education Services at Cloud Business explores common ICT challenges school IT managers face, and how to address them.
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What is zero trust security and how can it be implemented?

In 2020, the global average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million (USD). On average it took businesses 207 days to identify the data breach, and 73 days to contain it. Regardless of the size or industry, all businesses are at risk of a data breach as they store valuable information, especially customer data. 

For this reason, businesses and security professionals alike are constantly searching for the best method of securing a network from all threats. 

Traditionally, most businesses use a castle-and-moat approach to security. This is where the focus of security is on the network perimeter and most of the security investment is in firewalls, proxy servers and preventing intrusion from outsiders. In theory this approach seems logical, however it has some key limitations. 

The castle-and-moat approach allows those within the network access to all data. This means that even if the moat is effective at keeping intruders out, it doesn’t stop users with compromised identities or insider threats. It’s also outdated as it was built for traditional networks and does not consider how networks have changed as businesses move to the cloud. 

Is your organisation at risk? Book a free cyber security health check with our expert team to find out >

Cyber security and hybrid work

With the workplace fundamentally changing, as hybrid work becomes the new norm, the traditional castle-and-moat approach is no longer viable. When all employees worked in an office space if a machine tried to access a network from outside the office it would raise a red flag. Now with employees working from home it is important to be able to accurately authorise and authenticate users, regardless of where they are physically located.

In order to overcome these limitations businesses must change the way they view network security; this is where the zero trust security model comes in.

What is the zero trust security model?

The zero trust security model assumes that there are malicious actors both inside and outside a network. Therefore, no users or machines are automatically trusted, and all requests must be authenticated and authorised. This verification is based on all data points, including user identity, device health, service or workload, classification and anomalies. Another key principle of the zero trust security model is least-privilege access. This states that users should only have access to the data they need to do their job, and nothing more. 

Why move to a zero trust security model?

The zero trust model greatly increases security and is a security model that considers how digital transformations have fundamentally changed businesses and their networks. This is particularly important as many organisations keep their data in the cloud, rather than on-premise. 

The modern network does not have clearly defined perimeters to protect, so the zero trust model moves the perimeter to each individual file. This model, especially the least-privilege access principle, significantly reduces the risk of an insider threat. As users can only access the data necessary to do their jobs it means they cannot access sensitive data that could be shared maliciously or accidentally. 

How to implement a zero trust security model in your business

There are multiple principles in the zero trust security model, and your business may already have implemented some of the necessary technology. However, transitioning to a comprehensive zero trust security model takes time and significant planning as it involves completely rethinking how a business views security. 

The key to successfully implementing zero trust architecture is to first take inventory of existing mechanisms and technology. It is important to consider how traffic flows through the network and what is currently controlling the flow. From there the business must implement the necessary technologies and policies in line with the zero trust principles. This includes identity access management, endpoint management, in-app permissions, data protection, and infrastructure and network security. Once your business has implemented all the necessary technology and policies it should be regularly reviewed and iterated upon to dynamically enforce policy changes.

The zero trust security model is a modern rethinking of what constitutes a comprehensive security solution for a business. It overcomes the limitations of the castle-and-moat approach and greatly reduces the risk of a data breach, even one due to an insider attack. However, the road to zero trust is not simple, and it takes time and expertise to ensure that all the potential benefits are realised. If your business is considering moving to a zero trust security model, and need some expert advice, please get in touch with our cyber security practice.

What are Microsoft 365 Managed Services?

Microsoft 365* doesn’t stand still. To maximise your investment, admins need to continually manage, monitor and optimise 365, as well as provide end users with support. 

This can be a significant drain on internal resource. That’s where Microsoft 365 Managed Services fits in. Outsourcing this element of your IT operations helps your organisation maximise return on investment in 365, and frees up your internal team to focus on core activities. 

In our experience, many organisations are paying higher than the market rate for internal teams to manage and support Microsoft 365. Or they’re over-staffed in order to meet fluctuations in demand. Shared managed services address these issues, typically saving 1 – 3 people in your IT team. 

What are the benefits of Microsoft 365 Managed Services?

As well as driving cost efficiencies, outsourcing Microsoft 365 management and support delivers the following benefits:

  • Increases uptime of your 365 environment: proactive and reactive management and monitoring minimises downtime, pre-empts and quickly resolves any issues.
  • Boosts end user satisfaction: faster ticket response and resolutions times, managed by a professional service desk team, equates to happy users.
  • Interoperability of solutions integrated with 365: highly qualified Microsoft analysts ensure workflows from different apps work seamlessly in your 365 environment.
  • Better security, governance & compliance: access best practice and support to ensure your 365 environment is secure, data protected and your organisation meets compliance and regulatory requirements.
  • Increases productivity, collaboration and user adoption: maximise return on investment with end user support that empowers your people to do more with their technology.
  • Boosts your IT team’s productivity: free your team from 1st, 2nd & 3rd line support, tenant level admin, and service, incident and request management, so they can be more productive in other areas.
  • Access Microsoft 365 expertise: service desk analysts and technicians continually update their Microsoft qualifications and training, so your organisation has access to these specialist skills.

Find out how much outsourcing Microsoft 365 management and support would cost, click here to get a quote >

Microsoft 365 Managed Services methodology

Best practice is to take a holistic approach to managing your Microsoft 365 environment. Here at Cloud Business we like to visualise it as a wagon wheel, where our service wraps around every element of 365 and the ‘spokes’ integrate different aspects of the service.

With this approach your Microsoft 365 environment is aligned with your organisation, users and operational goals.

Got any questions? Book a discovery call for a chat about your IT environment, challenges and goals, and to explore if our Microsoft 365 Managed Services can help you get more from your technology.

*formerly Office 365, the Microsoft 365 stack includes Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and other capabilities depending on your licensing plan. 

What to look for in a new IT service provider

A significant percentage of new customers come to us having previously outsourced their IT to another service provider. One of the main reasons for making the move is that the organisation requires greater coverage or a service expansion, and the incumbent IT service provider is unable to offer the services required.

Maybe your current IT provider only offers coverage during core business hours and your organisation needs 24/7. Or perhaps you’re expanding overseas and need global coverage with an IT provider who can negate any time zone challenges. Or your current provider only offers 1st line IT support and you need access to a wider range of technical skills and an outsource partner that can handle 2nd and 3rd line tickets as well.

Download our checklist to benchmark different providers. Based on the Service Desk Institute’s 4 * star accreditation, this will help you determine the quality of service you will receive. 5 things to look for when choosing a new IT service provider

#1: Track record

If you’re looking for a long term solution you’ll want to ensure the company you select is likely to stay the course. How long have they been around for? What’s their client retention rate? Do they provide services for similar organisations to yours? Have they grown during the time they’ve been in business? These are all valid questions for gauging how robust the business is, and any IT service provider with a solid track record will be happy to provide the answers.

#2: Customer focus

The service an IT outsourcing provider delivers has a direct impact on your business. For that reason you should partner with a company that’s invested in your success. By making your IT function more efficient, minimising downtime, helping your business innovate and driving cost savings, your organisation should be more productive and successful. Can they demonstrate how they’ve helped customers to be more successful?

#3: Do you want them to be part of your team?

Quality IT service providers become an extension of your team. Their service desk analysts speak to your users, their skills and expertise are at your disposal, the service they deliver reflects on your organisation operationally and reputationally. Are the people within the business, people you want on your team? Do they share your values, work ethic and understand your culture? As well as technical skills and capabilities these factors are important too.

#4: Custom solutions

Some IT service providers sell one-size-fits-all services and products, others will customise their solutions to fit your needs. Some will have a comprehensive range of IT services, effectively they can run your entire IT requirement for you, others specialise in cloud, service desk or cyber security. No solution is right or wrong, you just need to know what is best for your organisation. Not just today, but also in the future. Look for an IT service provider that is keen to understand your requirements and make recommendations based on your actual needs, rather than one who attempts to squeeze your IT requirement into their service model.

#5. Added value

What else can the service provider do for your organisation? Ask this question and see what the companies you shortlist have to say. IT providers deliver services and products to facilitate business operations, but they can also be a strategic partner helping your organisation achieve strategic goals and growth plans.

With so many IT service providers out there, offering such a range of different services and products, it can be a challenge to find the company with the best fit for your organisation. I hope the 5 pointers above will help you narrow down your shortlist.

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Tackle IT security risks with these 5 strategies!

IT security is a hot topic. Companies everywhere need to watch out for new viruses, incidents of ransomware and malware, with cyberattacks more of a risk now than ever. Here are 5 strategies for tackling IT risks.

As a business owner, you need to know that your IT security, networks, storage and devices are secure. Under GDPR and other regulations you also need to take every reasonable step to safeguard the data that you are entrusted with, and to keep your confidential information – such as financial and client details – secure.

Cyber threats can come from any angle. In the IT industry, these are known as attack vectors. Hackers and criminals can try and access your networks and secure data through internet connections, software, email, and even Excel and PDFs aren’t safe.

The question is, as a business owner, how do you reduce the risk of falling victim to a potentially crippling cyber attack?

Find out more about our Cyber Security Posture Assessment to understand your organisation’s security posture and reduce IT security risks >

The following steps don’t require an expensive outlay in technology or cyber security solutions – many ‘out of the box’ SaaS solutions can help shore up you defences without breaking the bank. Best practices like good password hygiene and cyber threat awareness raising exercises don’t need to cost your business anything, and could actually save substantial amounts of money and reputational damage if they prevent an attack. Have you implemented the following?

5 ways to mitigate IT security risks

 #1: Passwords

It sounds simple, even obvious, but whenever you, or your employees, leave a device – a tablet, phone or computer – alone for a moment, make sure it’s protected with a strong password. It is far too easy to assume you’re safe when working in an office with colleagues. But what if someone is looking to steal data? What if a client is in the building? Or a contractor that you don’t know?

Without a password, you are taking too much of a risk and haven’t taken a reasonable step to mitigate a serious and avoidable security risk.

An IT team or external provider should also make sure that the passwords on every device – including personal mobiles – that contain sensitive data are secure. Don’t make it easy for cyber attackers. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. In the world of passwords, longer more involved combinations are statistically far more secure. It sounds simple, but you run a much higher risk of a data breach without secure passwords.

If your office has public WiFi, you need to take the same approach with this password, and make sure it is changed every few months. Put a password policy in place for everything that constitutes an attack vector, therefore mitigating the risk of a cyber breach.

#2: Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

With smartphones we can work anywhere. Many professionals access emails and sensitive documents on the go, wherever they are, often over public WiFi.

Public WiFi and phone networks aren’t secure. Neither is the WiFi in your house or favourite coffee shop. Sure, network providers take every reasonable step to maintain high levels of security, but that doesn’t mean that cyber attackers haven’t found ways to implement attacks that steal data.

The only way to guarantee the security of your company’s data on-the-go is with a virtual private network (VPN). Once this is setup, your employees and anyone else who needs to access work email and files can do so through a secure network that can be monitored and protected. Again, maintain a password policy that changes every few months for an extra layer of security and be careful who is granted access.

#3: Multi-factor authentication

Another way to increase security is with multi-factor authentication. When logging in, a code can be sent to a registered mobile device. The person trying to gain access then needs to enter that code and the login sequence is complete. It is a common feature of financial service websites, the Government gateway and many other secure websites. 

It is recommended that you provide that extra layer of safety for your network and employees. It can involve two or more steps, depending on how critical the systems being accessed. 

#4: Remote lock-down/wipe

Finding out that your phone or laptop has been stolen is a nightmare. Especially when this is a company device full of sensitive information. 

Make sure you have a lock-down and wipe procedure in place that can be implemented automatically 24/7. Whenever possible, ensure this is something an employee can initiate themselves through access to a secure website or on another device they own, even if that is a personal phone or laptop. 

Wiping a computer or phone after it has been taken needs to happen quickly, which is why this isn’t something that should wait until the next working day. Even if a cyber criminal is able to hack the password you want to make sure there is nothing for them to find and potentially use to damage the reputation of the company.

#5: Use access prevention and controls

Do you know where all of your secure data is and who has access?

If not, then this is something you need to get serious about. In any company, there are always going to be files that need to be more secure than others. Know what they are, where they are and ensure there are ways to control and monitor access.

Set passwords and an access protocol around the relevant files and systems that are more sensitive. When access is granted, make sure any files that are downloaded are only accessed on secure work devices, or through the VPN. Have policies in place so that staff know they’re not allowed to send sensitive documents to personal devices.

Learn more about Identity and Access controls here >

Finally, provide regular training and cyber security awareness raising exercises so your staff understand the risks, adhere to cyber security policies, and know what to do if they suspect an attack or attempted breach.

Point them in the direction of our Cyber Security Vulnerability Quiz to test their knowledge and identify where further training could help. 

With these security measures, your data should be safer and risks of being hit with a cyber attack are reduced. Taking measurable steps to improve security will keep your company compliant under GDPR and other regulations designed to protect customer data. 

What is IT outsourcing?

Few businesses today can operate without a comprehensive range of IT solutions. For many, it would be impossible to communicate with customers, employees and suppliers, get work done or deliver products and services, without a robust IT infrastructure.

Maintaining and managing this infrastructure was once the exclusive responsibility of the IT department. However, in the last few decades, businesses have sought to streamline internal operations and drive efficiencies by using IT outsourcing providers, migrating to cloud platforms or using a combination of both. Many companies have also increased the amount of activities they outsource to specialised IT service providers, as the ROI makes a clear business case for doing so. Last year’s 2017 UK IT Outsourcing Study revealed that 35% of business respondents plan to outsource more IT activities this year (2018).

IT outsourcing is a solution many businesses are turning to, especially when it comes to managing IT services.

But what can you outsource? Essentially any IT function can be outsourced to an IT partner. From the total management of your IT department, to outsourcing a single component like your service desk. Infrastructure management, security & monitoring, IAM, service integration, end-user compute, etc. etc. are all functions that IT outsource providers can support your business with.

Find out how much outsourcing your IT service desk will cost your organisation. Use our cost calculator here >

Why outsource IT?

Reducing costs is one reason for outsourcing IT functions. With the emergence of cloud computing, IT is no longer something that needs expensive capital investments, on-site servers and hardware. Cloud platforms and services, such as software as a service (SaaS) solutions, have shifted the IT cost burden away from capital to an operational expenditure.

However, monitoring, managing all this technology comes at a price. Your IT team may now spend considerable time ensuring that performance is maintained and optimised, alerts are responded to, patches and backups are routinely performed and your users receive the IT support they need. As a result they may not be getting much time to focus on strategic IT projects or their core competencies and this can lead to low morale and high employee churn.

You may also be paying far more than necessary for these essential activities, and many tasks may be below your expensive IT professionals’ paygrade.

Benefits of IT outsourcing 

As well as driving down the costs, there are other reasons businesses choose to outsource IT. These include:

24/7 support – IT and network mangers like to go home at the end of a working day, but what happens if systems go down out of hours? Many businesses have employees and customers accessing their IT systems at different times of the day or night – working remotely, in different time zones, or if they are a B2C businesses. IT outsourcing can ensure that systems are monitored 24/7, and support is available in the event of any incident or query.

Quicker response times – most internal IT departments have limited resources in terms of staffing and capacity. Prioritising activities can be challenging, and balancing operational vs. strategic activities even more so. IT outsourcing ensures that incidents or planned activities are addressed in an acceptable timeframe, for example if IT support is outsourced your employers or other users have a dedicated service desk team dealing with any issues they have, not a network manager trying to provide support and at the same time patch systems or perform back ups and everything else that goes with that role. 

More expertise – IT outsourcing allows your business to access specialist support. Whether that’s analyst who has in depth knowledge of the systems you use, or a cyber security expert who can help ensure that your business balances risk, user experience and costs when exploring information security solutions. For most businesses having this level of expert support in house would be prohibitively expensive.

More cost savings – IT outsourcing saves companies money in a number of areas. The cost of IT infrastructure and technology is lower, especially when using cloud platforms. Solutions can be scaled according to your requirements, switching on and off services to reduce costs when demand is low. Staffing costs can be reduced, even when using onshore IT providers like Cloud Business. Potentially businesses can reduce their internal staffing levels, and the associated costs (holiday, sickness etc.) or use their team more strategically for revenue creation activities.

Strategic consulting – IT outsourcing providers can also support business objectives and strategic plans. With years of experience working across different companies and industries, as well as keeping current with the latest technology, they are well placed to advice IT directors and CEOs on their future IT requirements, aligning recommendations with the businesses’ objectives.

Getting started with IT outsourcing 

Deciding what areas of IT to outsource needs to be done the right way. Do you only want to outsource your IT service desk / support? Or are your company’s IT needs more extensive?

While IT outsourcing may appear to be purely an operational requirement, it can also be strategic. Managed Services can support your business goals, such as plans for global growth, new ways of working such as remote working, and support change and transformation programmes.

Focus on what you want to achieve before outsourcing any IT functions. Have a clear understanding of how you would want to work with an IT partner, the role they’re going to play in your business and the value you want to see. IT outsourcing providers use service level agreements (SLA), to ensure that all parties understand how their services will be delivered. It’s really important to make sure you have the right SLA in place to meet your needs. 

Depending on what you outsource, IT partners can improve operational efficiency, streamline communications, make it easier for staff to collaborate, improve security and make your company more efficient.

Please get in touch if you would like further advice or to discuss your IT requirements.

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Six reasons why cyber crime is increasing, and what you can do about it

There is a disconnect between Security and Operations within many companies, which can lead to a ‘SecOps Gap’.

In turn, this lack of coordination can lead to a loss of revenue, increased costs, and damage to a company’s brand, as well as the failure to meet regulatory requirements and big fines.

Get a free cyber security health check here >

The 6 key reasons that cyber crime is increasing are:

  1. The cost of data breaches continues, which has increased 29% to an average of $4 million per incident.
  2. Breaches caused via mobile devices.
  3. Malware embedded in legitimate applications, targeting poorly secured Wi-fi spots, stealing passwords, and more in their quest to steal information.
  4. Unauthorised products with weak security controls in the corporate cloud.
  5. Zombie servers.
  6. Known vulnerabilities that are not patched in time. 

What can you do to protect your organisation from cyber crime?

We recommend focusing on the following areas:

Security architecture: Do you know where your weak spots are? Penetration testing will help you understand where your vulnerabilities are, then deploy the right solutions to protect your network.

Vulnerability management: In an ever-changing threat landscape you can’t afford to stand still. On going vulnerability management services keep pace with new threats and identify new vulnerabilities so you can deploy appropriate solutions, or modify information security policies and procedures.

Identify & Access Management (IAM): Manage access levels and block hackers & unauthorised login attempts with a robust IAM strategy and the right tools to ensure your users can get on with work, without compromising security.

If you’re concerned about cyber security threats and the impact they could have on your organisation, book a free cyber security health check with our expert team.

Further details can be found here >

IT outsourcing FAQ

As a leading, global IT outsourcing provider we get asked many questions daily. We have compiled below some of them that we hope will help you make your IT outsourcing decision:

Why outsource Information Communication Technology (ICT) services?

Unless you are an IT or communications company, it is unlikely that ICT is a core competency for your business!

We strongly believe that you should outsource any non-core competencies, such as IT, Finance, Legal and Marketing. You can benefit from the expertise of others while you focus on your specialism.

What can I outsource?

You can outsource any function that is a non-core competency within your business!

In terms of IT, you can outsource either your entire technology department, or a single service such as service desk, end-user support, server maintenance, email management, application support, IT security, telephony system support, network management, hosting of servers, ICT projects etc. for example.

Does outsourcing IT means I lose control?

No, not at all!

We work with complete transparency, you will have 24×7 online access to your own personalised company portal, where you can monitor the status of any incidents, problems or changes raised across your business, with full reporting and access to a “live” person 24x7x365.

This in addition to regular face to face or conference call service review meetings, where all aspects of our service are discussed. Your outsourcing agreement will also include a Service Level Agreement which outlines the minimum service commitments you can expect from Cloud Business.

Can I outsource my entire IT department?

In short yes!

Your IT staff’s employment status is protected by Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations, generally referred to as ‘TUPE’.

Will outsourcing save our company money?

In almost all cases, yes! If you already have an in-house IT team, then we can demonstrate cost savings over the medium to long term, and also the very short term.

Naturally, you will achieve cost savings through the transition of service delivery to a blend of both remote and desk-side delivery. For example, if you require extended service hours, then an outsourced service will allow you to achieve this at a significantly lower price point than recruiting the staff in house. Whether your IT department are over-loaded or not fully occupied, outsourcing may allow you to economise more effectively.

How quickly can I outsource my IT?

If your company is without IT support, then we can implement our services within a week.

If you are moving from another supplier, we typically transition the service during the month of the incumbent suppliers contract end. All parameters are customer specific and bespoke to your requirements.

Based on your recommendation, what should we ‘not’ outsource?

If you have a bespoke application that is vital to your business, you can consider keeping this service in-house.

If your ICT and communications systems are failing on a regular basis, you may expect an improvement project ahead of smooth service delivery.

How do I measure my IT outsourcing provider’s performance?

We have rigorous set of market leading service reports and measures to help you measure and monitor this service. This coupled with 24×7 access to a full reporting suite, regular face to face service and performance review meetings, regular communication.

You should also only consider service providers that attained industry recognised certifications in the specific discipline you are looking to outsource such as Service Desk. This ensures all aspects of the service is benchmarked against a rigorous set of pre-defined standards and the best in the world. The Service Desk Institute is one such organisation.

What other standard measures should we consider reviewing?

  • The availability of your critical applications, e.g. email, database, business line
  • How available is your network
  • The number of calls answered within service level
  • The ongoing reduction in problem calls being logged
  • Financial trends such as cash flow
  • A measurement of downtime.

Got any more questions? Please get in touch if you need further help.

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Windows Autopatch

Please sir, I’ve forgotten my login!

Our experience in the education sector gives us some real insights into the key issues affecting IT departments in schools. It’s a challenging environment as on one hand there is a drive to equip schools with technology that will give students the best chance of meeting Government standards in maths, science and literacy; whereas on the other, schools have to manage tightening budgets and criticism that IT does not improve performance and results*. 

Key challenges of integrating ICT into education

As Head of Education Services at Cloud Business I share your pain! Talking to Heads of IT and Network Managers at schools on a daily basis I know that forgotten logins and updating software are the least of your concerns.

Are any of these challenges familiar…?

IT infrastructure

Many schools are faced with legacy issues as old PCs, laptops and servers are no longer fit for purpose. The problem is knowing where to invest IT budgets to get the best ROI, and having realistic expectations about the longevity of your school’s IT infrastructure. This is an education process in itself, as often members of the school Board do not appreciate that IT infrastructure is an on-going investment, here lies the reason for your legacy issues… Getting a high level of IT investment is the first hurdle; the next is keeping that investment current through replenishment.

Many schools are looking at alternatives to making large investments in IT infrastructure. For example, leasing IT equipment with a five-year replacement cycle and / or moving infrastructure into the cloud. Our experience with schools like Little Heath in Berkshire, whose ICT infrastructure is fully virtualised, is that there are clear savings to be made by reducing the total cost of ownership of IT estate, and moving to a more flexible and scalable virtual solution. This removes the problem, and cost, of running and updating platforms out of the school’s ICT estate.

Mindset challenge: For some School Boards the concept of reducing the school’s ICT estate and having monthly service fees for a virtual solution instead, is a hard to grasp. Network managers need to be able to demonstrate that the total cost of ownership of purchasing, running and maintaining IT infrastructure can be far higher than utilising virtualisation. If your school is looking to partner with an IT service provider, they will be able to provide you with this evidence.

Internet connectivity

Broadband connectivity continues to be a major challenge for schools, even after incentives such as the Harnessing Technology Grants that was available a decade ago. The difference between connectivity experienced in the home environment compared to school can be marked, with students and staff finding that poor performance prevents them from using technology effectively. We hear of teachers aborting attempts to get online during lessons and students making slow progress when using the school’s WiFi. Furthermore poor bandwidth also impacts on school admin systems such as payment and catering systems.

The problem is that many schools have insufficient bandwidth that causes overloading issues and WiFi blackspots. Many schools would benefit from new access points, continuous monitoring of the network and failover services to maintain connectivity at all times, ensuring that demand from end users is managed and bandwidth is controlled.

While an ICT technician could not be expected to do this, as well as managing all the other demands on their time; this is a key area that could be outsourced to a managed service provider and have a real impact on teaching and user experience within the school.

CPD and training

A report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)* published in 2015 suggests that investing heavily in school computers and technology does not improve performance and results. Controversial stuff. However, in defense of ICT suites around the country one of key problems for schools looking to accelerate learning with technology is training.

Or the lack of.

In a British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) 2011 report, 54% of secondary and 45% of primary schools thought that more than half of their teachers still needed training to use digital content; while 71% of primary and 68% of secondary schools thought more than half their staff needed training in learning platforms.

Training costs money, but it’s essential if the investment in technology is to deliver the results desired. While those teachers who deliver Computing Science in schools naturally require regular CPD, in an arena that is constantly evolving all staff need training to enable them to get the most out of technology.


Another important issue for schools is that of safeguarding students whilst also allowing them access to the Internet, email accounts and other digital networks. At Little Heath School, Cloud Business closely monitor network access as part of our network management service. A diligent and robust approach to security is required and also includes monitoring of Bring-Your-Own-Devices (BYOD). Many schools benefit from students using their own smartphones or tablets, rather than the school’s own equipment, and these need to become part of e-safety policies.

Schools may have robust e-safety strategies in place but should be aware of this rapidly changing landscape. Students are often the first to access to new digital technology and platforms before the school is even aware of them, and so safeguarding requires a very proactive approach.

If you school are looking to partner with an IT managed service provider – safeguarding and security should be high on the agenda.

How to address these ICT challenges

There are no easy answers when the solutions generally require funding, but there may be better ways to manage your IT budget and deliver value for your school, students and staff.

  • Virtualisation can be a very cost effective solution reducing the cost of ownership of desktop infrastructure, applications and servers, and removing the problem of legacy IT;
  • Leasing computers also offers many benefits, again removing the issue of outdated hardware;
  • Sharing technical support among a group of schools. We’re increasingly seeing schools with good IT provision supporting feeder schools and other partnership schools in this way;
  • Managed service desk is a good solution for those schools who do not have on-site IT support all the time, ensuring that IT issues are addressed quickly without disrupting teaching. It can also help free up IT departments’ time allowing those key members of staff to focus on more productive areas of their role;
  • Training is essential if you are to get value from your IT assets. If you can save money, and time, by using some of the solutions above you could focus more on training and supporting teachers in the classroom.

To talk about how Cloud Business can help your school implement, run and maintain IT in a cost effective, flexible and responsive way, please get in touch.

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