Cloud leaders

Enterprise Cloud Adoption Part II – Lessons from Cloud Leaders

While early cloud adopters blazed a trail with their migration towards OpEx spending models and reduced infrastructure investment, many made costly strategic mistakes. And as the rest of the world races to catch up, the same mistakes are still being repeated.

But there are some best-practice principles which can help your business avoid mistakes and maximise return on your cloud investment.

1. Start with security

Moving data to the cloud is relatively easy – but if it is not properly secured, you risk potentially disastrous consequences. Losing data creates problems with customers, partners and regulators with long-term implications.

Because of this, successful cloud deployments have security as one of the foundational principles. This means that data is secured edge-to-edge to properly protect against loss or theft.

Successful cloud adopters build security strategies around three key factors:

Risk and compliance – ensuring security standards can be monitored, understood and managed consistently across the entire estate. Leaders will use automation to accelerate and scale monitoring to ensure their growing cloud estate is properly protected.

Security controls – leaders will adopt hybrid tools that provide comprehensive, consistent protection for systems in the cloud and the local data centre. All of their security processes are upgraded to deal with this new hybrid operating model.

Governance – Cloud technologies may change the way your IT systems work, but the same compliance rules still apply. Leaders upskill their employees to ensure they are equipped to deal with this new reality. They will also deploy tools capable of enforcing compliance requirements across all systems, regardless of location.

2. Build a transformation blueprint

It’s a well-worn cliché, but those businesses who carry out the most planning are also least likely to make basic mistakes with their cloud deployments. Leaders are effective at building an effective strategy and governance capabilities.

Their blueprints will include a business-driven and unbiased business case for their projects, underpinned by return on investment. They will also refine and improve communications and oversight, and they recognise the need to develop a culture that embraces change.

3. Evolve your operating model

Cloud technologies should allow your business to do more work, faster and with less friction. However, leaders have realised that the new ways of working demanded by cloud platforms deliver the greatest agility benefits.

Existing processes are not optimised for the cloud, so leaders will evolve their operating model accordingly. Service operations will be adjusted to become more proactive. Platform operations are restructured to develop new enterprise standards and policies and to leverage cloud-native tools. Pipeline operations have a clearly defined process for building, deploying and retiring containers – preferably using automation tools to accelerate the continuous integration and delivery pipeline.

4. Invest in your people

One of the biggest barriers to cloud success is skills, particularly as there is currently a global shortage. Leaders will invest heavily in attracting and retaining the brightest talent. They will also spend to upskill their existing workforce, helping to plug gaps in knowledge and experience so they can continue driving their cloud strategy forwards.

The staffing strategy looks beyond current requirements too, developing a pipeline of talent to support succession planning and reward the highest performers. They can also call upon their partners to provide additional guidance and advice sand to impart knowledge to the in-house team.

Avoiding common cloud pitfalls is harder than it looks. However, these four concepts are all used by cloud leaders to help them realise the maximum return on their investments. To learn more about successful enterprise cloud adoption, please give us a call

Microsoft 365

Office 365 becomes Microsoft 365 – but is your data any safer?

It has been two years since Office 365 was rebranded as Microsoft 365, but for most subscribers, the service itself is almost the same. This is great for headline productivity and admin continuity – but it also means that the shared responsibility operating model remains the same too.

Under this model, Microsoft is responsible for ensuring application and infrastructure availability to deliver a platform capable of supporting your mission-critical operations. But this also means that your business is wholly responsible for protecting any data stored on the platform.

Indeed, the Microsoft Services Agreement still states:

We recommend that you regularly backup Your Content and Data that you store on the Services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services.

Are we totally on our own?

Microsoft 365 does include some basic data recovery functionality, designed to help first- and second-line tech support agents resolve low-level issues. The platform includes a snapshot recovery mechanism that provides a 30-day roll-back window.

This means that your helpdesk will be able to recover deleted, corrupted or ransomware-infected files quite quickly and easily. However, the 30-day limit is non-negotiable, it cannot be extended natively on the Microsoft 365 platform. This means that if corruption goes unnoticed for 31 days or more, it will be impossible to recover the lost data using the tools supplied by Microsoft.

An unacceptable risk

Clearly, this 30-day window represents an unacceptable risk for highly regulated industries. But in the era of digital transformation – and GDPR – permanent loss of data is similarly undesirable. Losing sensitive information could result in a massive fine that threatens the very future of your business.

Because of its inherent value, your business needs to have the same quality of safeguard in the cloud as you do in your on-premise data centre. This means you will need a proper recovery solution in place that offers granular disaster recovery provisioning – and a 31+ day retention window.

Data in the cloud, backup in the cloud

You rely upon Microsoft 365 to provide flexibility and scalability – so it makes sense to take advantage of the cloud for backup and data recovery too. WTL Secure Cloud Backup offers unlimited data retention as standard and multiple recovery options.

You can restore all of your Microsoft 365 data, including Exchange mailboxes, SharePoint assets and any files stored in OneDrive. Data can be restored directly to Microsoft 365 or exported to any of the popular Office formats (.pst, .msg, .zip etc) for import into another system.

Importantly, WTL Secure Cloud Backup is an air-gapped backup provision. If your Microsoft 365 data is infected or encrypted by ransomware, your air-gapped files cannot be compromised – and you always have a copy that can be recovered whenever it is required.

Microsoft does not have any intention to offer “true” disaster functionality in the 365 platform. Your business will need to identify and deploy a suitable backup solution to plug this mission-critical gap.

To learn more about WTL Secure Cloud Backup and how it will properly secure your Microsoft 365 data,  please get in touch

 

Return to work

The return to the office – a personal view

Who knew we’d be continuing the remote working theme, some 15 weeks after the start! We’re all too aware of how time flies, but the relative ease of our transition to the ‘office at home’ environment, has made the best part of this last four months ‘business as usual’ here in WTL.

For some, the move has been seamless, however for others, it’s been fraught with making the best use of a shared space and probably awkward at best! So whilst all of the above is true, I for one will be looking forward to the return date and all the comforts of the office space that comes with its familiar corners nooks and crannies, to strategically place files, folders and documents, knowing they will still be there, a day, a week or a month after, without the annoying search for them, post an anonymous tidy up!!

Heading towards normality seems painfully slow, but missing the office banter, favourite mug, colleagues on tap for a quick response, are just a few of the benefits that will flood back amongst many others and make it all worthwhile sometime soon.

Fingers tightly crossed for there to be no second spike in the pandemic, is what we’re all hoping for and so we massively acknowledge the fantastic effort and bravery, of the key workers across all sectors of the health services, the vital food supply chain industries and related distribution networks that keep our world moving and thriving – we thank you and many more, without reservation.

There are so many pieces of the ‘jigsaw’ to mention every area, suffice to say that each individual, in every business, has an important part to play in some respect! Every person at WTL has another person relying on his or her function to make ends meet. This is no different whether small, medium, large or enterprise, someone will be relying on someone else, for a result to be a success. Keep up your spirits and morale for everyone’s sake, but looking after yourself, your own well-being and mental health is the first priority.