cloud based solutions west midlands

Stimulate innovation with your choice of Oracle infrastructure

Digital transformation is all about doing things differently, using data to develop new solutions to changing customer demands and operating requirements. So it makes perfect sense that your Oracle infrastructure must also drive innovation if it is to help you achieve your strategic objectives.

To enable innovation at speed, your chosen infrastructure must have these four features:

  • Built-in automation
  • Thin-cloning technology
  • Ability to scale out smoothly
  • Access to data across your entire IT estate

But why do these features matter so much?

1. Deploy new projects faster

The faster you can bring new products and services into production, the faster you can begin generating a return on investment – or serving your customers better. Choosing infrastructure that offers built-in automation reduces deployment time – and the risk of costly human error. This means your team can focus more time and resources on innovation instead of preparation, staging and deployment activities.

2. Shorten development cycles

Thin-cloning technology allows you to duplicate large volumes in seconds, perfect for rapid development and testing. And because your team is working on clones, there’s no risk of corruption in your production databases during testing, which means that innovation cannot affect operations until you’re satisfied everything is working correctly.

3. Unlimited, seamless scalability

Your data estate will only ever continue to grow – as will the demands placed on it. You need infrastructure that can scale capacity and power without disruption or downtime, automatically, to prevent bottlenecks that would otherwise stifle innovation.

4. Improved decision making

Access to data is critical to making informed decisions – and with the ability to view information across your entire estate, you have all the context required to make the smartest choices. Equally important is speed – the faster you can access that information, the quicker you can make strategic decisions that could have a significant impact on operations.

Ultimately you face a choice – do you want infrastructure that maintains the status quo (and potentially limits innovation potential), or do you want a platform that facilitates and encourages new ways of working? Because your choice of technology will have a significant impact on the performance and potential of your Oracle-based systems. Selecting the right provider could have an exponential impact on your digital transformation programs.

Ready to learn more about how to choose the Oracle infrastructure you need to support your most ambitious digital transformation efforts? Give the WTL team a call  today for advice.

Data Management Service Birmingham

Meeting The High Availability Requirements In Digitally Transformed Enterprises

Heavily reliant on access to their data, digitally transformed organisations need infrastructure that is always available. So, what should you be looking for as your business begins its digital transformation journey (or prepares to take the next step)?

Here are five factors to consider as identified by IDC:

1. Solid-state storage

All Flash Arrays (AFF) offer highly performant storage and improved availability over spinning disk alternatives. AFFs also have the advantage of increased density, allowing for more storage to be packed into the same physical footprint.

When combined with NVMe technology, AFF arrays are even faster, further reducing the total cost of ownership and delivering the high levels of performance and availability needed for mission-critical operations.

2. Scale-out design

Cloud platforms have proven the importance of scalable computing, both in terms of containing costs through pay-as-you-use billing and by allowing businesses to grow and shrink resources as demand changes. Scale-out designs are therefore an essential aspect of high availability computing, allowing your business to draw upon additional resources whenever required in a non-disruptive manner.

A scale-out infrastructure allows for similarly non-disruptive upgrades. By connecting newer nodes to the environment, you can seamlessly migrate workloads using data mobility tools, removing older technology from the ‘pool’ once complete. You can stay at the cutting edge of HA computing without affecting operations.

3. Granular management for multi-tenant environments

As infrastructure density increases, businesses are forced to consolidate workloads. Although this maximises the value of hardware investments, it also increases the ‘blast radius’ – the potential damage caused to other applications and servers when one of the tenants fails.

To ensure high availability, operators need systems that allow them to better manage the environment on an application-by-application basis. They can then configure the storage to better manage each workload and its requirements – and limit the impact of any failures.

4. Support for the hybrid multi-cloud

The majority of businesses (80%) are now using hybrid cloud operations, often with multiple providers. To ensure seamless high availability operations, they will need a unified control plane that provides visibility across all their assets, no matter where they are located.

This will almost certainly involve a shift towards software-defined infrastructure, allowing for increased automation of platforms like Kubernetes and Ansible. These enhanced API controls allow operators to better understand their environment and simplify management across the multi-cloud.

5. Automated storage management

With hybrid multi-cloud operations, the IT environment is only becoming more complex. It is now almost impossible to meet high availability SLAs while relying on manual processes.

Instead, operators should be looking at tools that allow them to automate storage management using policies and artificial intelligence. These tools not only accelerate management and deployment but can also be used effectively by IT generalists, reducing the need for costly, hard-to-hire storage specialists.

Smarter storage for high availability applications

These 5 tips are just the starting point for high availability infrastructure design. However, this should be enough to help you start asking the right questions to ensure you get the platform your business needs.

To learn more about building a high availability storage platform for the future and how WTL can assist, please give us a call.

Data Management Assessment West Midlands

3 Security Issues That Will Affect Your Digital Transformation Outcomes

Digital transformation is supposed to make business faster and more efficient. But if those changes come at the expense of security, any gains made could quickly be reversed.

According to research by HPE, those businesses that achieve a successful operating model have security built into the very foundation of their transformation model. Their security efforts are focused on three key areas:

1. Risk and compliance

Infrastructure as Code methodologies has evolved with the specific goal of accelerating development. The software development pipeline can be automated, allowing new applications and code to be delivered quickly.

For digital leaders, the pipeline is accompanied by a robust logging and monitoring solution that automatically scales alongside their environment. This allows them to embed security into their processes and to assess compliance with necessary protocols – without decreasing development velocity.

Leaders’ systems continuously monitor the production environment, conducting compliance and pipeline checks and automatically notifying stakeholders of issues that require remediation.

2. Security controls

Traditional security controls do still work in the cloud – but the way they are implemented must change. On-premise tools, however, do not work because they are not designed for use in a hybrid or cloud-native estate.

HPE cites the example of endpoint security, where locally installed anti-malware periodically updates itself from a central repository. In the cloud, where machine images spin up and down as required (sometimes for just a matter of minutes), this model does not work because the updates do not complete in that narrow timeframe. This leaves elements of the environment unprotected because they do not keep pace with changes in the threat landscape.

Leaders apply their proven security controls using hybrid tools that can cope with the realities of the cloud model. They will also integrate these tools across their entire ecosystem, such as scanning container images at the end of the development pipeline to improve security compliance standards across the organisation.

3. Governance

The spin-up spin-down approach to resource usage may be completely different to the traditional three-tier data centre architecture, but the compliance requirements of your business do not change. Approaching governance using the same techniques as on-premise applications will create risk for your cloud environment.

Cloud transformation leaders understand the fundamental differences in approach and retrain their security teams accordingly. Rather than attempting to create a hardened perimeter that protects corporate resources, these organisations ensure their staff can think in terms of zero-trust operations that creates a network of secure devices.

How can you catch the leaders?

It is clear from the example of cloud transformation leaders that successful change is a combination of technology and culture. These organisations balance business objectives with risk objectives, ensuring that rapid development and deployment do  come at the cost of data security.

At the most basic level, leaders can put in place the people, processes and tool changes necessary to deliver compliant, consistent security across their hybrid estate. And it is precisely this balance that your business will need to achieve to contain risk in the cloud.

To learn more about building security into your cloud digital transformation strategy, please give the WTL team a call today.

Cybersecurity Solutions West Midlands

Has the pandemic caused a digital transformation IT security nightmare?

As the pandemic eases, businesses are reviewing what has happened over the last two years. For many, work-from-home orders have accelerated their digital transformation efforts. They will have rolled out new technologies to facilitate remote access in a matter of weeks – far faster than their original digital transformation timetables would have expected.

Although the roll-outs have been impressive in terms of speed, security has been something of an afterthought. Functionality has been prioritised over every other factor to ensure employees remain productive.

This may have helped businesses survive lockdown – but it has also created a serious hidden problem.

Lack of coherent strategy

Corporate IT has been moving toward a hybrid cloud model for some time. The need to enable remote working simply accelerated adoption, often without applying the usual strategic security checks and implementations.

Given that virtually all cloud platforms operate on a shared responsibility model (they secure data stored in the cloud, you secure it everywhere else), this could be leaving your business dangerously exposed. Insecure endpoints or cloud-based applications are an open invitation to hackers.

Shadow IT

In the early stages of lockdown, many employees began choosing tools to help them keep working – often consumer-grade applications. Zoom became the go-to tool for video-conferencing – only later did security researchers discover how insecure the platform actually was.

In the meantime, users continue to rely on unsanctioned apps without the knowledge of the IT team. This shadow IT means you have no control over the apps, and you cannot properly secure data in them either.

Regaining control

These threats are very real: 82% of businesses report at least one data breach as a result of digital transformation. This means that you must act to close the security gaps in your current strategy by:

  • Extending your security strategy to address the specific issues surrounding the cloud and third-party systems. Where does your responsibility end and theirs begin? What must be done to plug the gaps?
  • Prioritise secured systems first. When selecting workloads for migration to the cloud, choose those which have already been secured. This will help you avoid amplifying existing security issues in the new environment.
  • Apply modern cloud infrastructure principles such as compliance as code and policy as code which can be used to automate security in the hosted environment.

Digital transformation projects are supposed to accelerate organisation speed and flexibility – as many businesses have realised in the past two years. However, given the magnitude of risks you currently face, the focus must now shift to securing systems against cyberattacks – even if that means slowing the pace of change temporarily.

For more help and advice about securing your systems in the cloud, and how WTL can help you avoid disaster,  please get in touch.


Containerisation – Building a Resilient Future

Cloud platforms have forever changed corporate IT. Infinite scalability coupled with a pay-as-you-use billing model allow dev teams to accelerate deployment and deliver improved services faster without significant capital investment.

Now the introduction of containers is set to change the game again. With the  containerisation of business computing workloads being seen as the next step forward in building a highly adaptable digital transformation strategy.

What are containers?

Server virtualisation was a radical data centre evolution, increasing resilience, reducing risk of data loss and helping to generate a greater return on hardware ROI. Virtual servers were also the essential element in early cloud projects.

Also known as cloud-native applications, ‘containers’ take virtualisation a step further. A container is a fully self-contained application that includes everything it needs to run – settings, libraries and dependencies.

Deployed directly onto the cloud platform, containers are managed at runtime using a controller program, like Docker Engine, rather than a VM hypervisor or guest operating system.

Why is containerisation  so exciting?

Traditional virtual servers are relatively heavyweight. Every machine is a fully provisioned system, with a full operating system and applications to run your code. You have to license the OS and software and manage and support the servers just like any other machine in your infrastructure.

For a small deployment this approach is fine. But as you scale, the licensing and management overheads become prohibitive. Containers like Docker and Kubernetes operate on a slightly different principle.

Containing nothing more than the application and its dependencies, you immediately avoid the problem of OS and application licensing.

The next stage in your digital transformation

For the digitally transformed business, speed of operations is a strategic priority. The fact that creating and destroying containers is quick and simple is a step towards that goal.

As demand on applications increase, you can automate the deployment of new containers. And you can do so without having to manage a guest OS. Stripping away layers of software also provides direct access to underlying hardware, allowing you to optimise your resource usage and bring cloud bills back under control.

Containers provide a roadmap for the future of your applications. Defining a standardised container structure built around open APIs will help when choosing where your application will be run. This is particularly important as businesses move towards multi-cloud operations. Done right, you will be able to move platforms and providers with minimal disruption.

Optimisation of resource usage is a hot topic. The on-demand nature of cloud platforms makes it easy to spin up processing resources as required. But when using non-cloud native applications this can be costly and wasteful.

Engineering lightweight, efficient containers helps to reduce overheads and prevent wasteful consumption of cloud processing resources. Adopting a cloud-native approach to future application design will help to control costs and free up budget for investment in other strategic projects.

To learn more about containerisation, its benefits, and how to prepare your cloud applications for the demands of the future, please get in touch.

Useful Links

The Doppler – The State of Container Adoption Challenges and Opportunities