With rapid technological advances and changes in how employees use technology to access information and do their jobs, demand for data centre services is increasing in today’s modern enterprise. The key to building more agile and efficient data centres is leveraging a multi-cloud approach.
A multi-cloud model enables businesses to keep some services hosted on-site and some hosted in various public and private cloud environments depending on specific operational, security, regulatory and cost requirements. This approach leverages the cloud for production, testing, development and disaster recovery purposes, while maintaining an on-premise server or secure private cloud for particularly sensitive information or to meet regulatory compliance rules.
Benefits of a Multi-Cloud Approach
There are several important benefits of a multi-cloud model in data centres that contribute to increased adoption in enterprises:
1. Avoid Vendor Lock-In: With the multi-cloud model, companies can take advantage of the benefits of both a private and public cloud environment without locking into a multi-year, single vendor contract for infrastructure services.
By leveraging a mix of third-party cloud providers in a full or partial manner, organisations can better respond to immediate needs and limit down time. Shared environments and multi-tenancy can dramatically increase efficiency and productive workflow provisioning at a much lower cost.
2. Fosters a Self-Service Environment: A multi-cloud approach automates the provisioning of new services, freeing up time for IT departments to focus on core competencies. This enables non-IT staff to manage technology needs without involving IT. Users will have direct access to business-critical resources, applications and data.
A shift towards automation and self-service IT models also increases speed-to-market by allowing staff to deploy their own workloads and applications in minutes instead of days or weeks. Businesses can also select from a catalogue of ready-made services, deployment options and cost structures. This makes it easier to determine whether to host business functions and projects on-site versus in the cloud.
3. Increased Flexibility: A multi-cloud model lends itself to greater organisational flexibility. By combining a private cloud with the resources of a public cloud, organisations can scale projects in response to changing demand or an unexpected uptick in workload. By taking advantage of workflow automation, companies can offload their user base to cloud-based computers during peak usage times.
As the integration of storage, networking and computing capabilities increases, the delivery methods of cloud computing will also grow. This will enable an even greater level of scalability and flexibility in data centres.
Disaster Recovery in a Multi-Cloud Environment
The evolution of the data centre and shift toward a multi-cloud environment can dramatically improve disaster recovery (DR) efforts. Using a multi-cloud approach can lower maintenance costs for organisations because they will only need to pay for routine data replication and storage. Data centre infrastructure will be simpler and easier to manage as the burden of supporting and paying for facility cooling and upkeep shifts to data centre providers.
Cloud computing, data replication and virtualisation play major roles in disaster recovery, enabling organisations to do more with increasingly limited resources. With multi-cloud, smaller organisations have greater access to affordable private and public cloud environments for enterprise DR needs.
Datacom is hosting a DR event in Sydney with partners AAPT and Equinix on March 20th so organisations can ensure they have a recovery and business continuity plan that will protect their critical assets. Secure you seat today.
From mom-and-pop shops to international organisations, most businesses strive to accomplish the same set of goals: control overhead expenses, boost employee productivity and deliver high-quality results. State government agencies are no exception.
When it comes to cost control and the crusade for better operational efficiency, state governments should follow the private sector’s lead, turning a critical eye to their internal print landscape. By reassessing expenses associated with printing, distributing and managing documents, many businesses have identified numerous opportunities to save time and money while optimising workflow.
For state governments, which rely heavily on paper-based processes, rethinking their current print strategy is a minor exercise compared to the major results it may yield. Here are a few of the unique challenges government agencies face with print and document management:
- Labour management: State agencies frequently hire temporary or contract workers for projects, both short- and long-term. Given the sensitive nature of government documents, public sector agencies must be exceptionally stringent when onboarding new employees, giving special print permissions only to those who require them and deprovisioning accounts as soon as contracts expire.
- Savings on both sides: With many state offices battling with lower amounts of funding, there are fewer dollars being budgeted for hardware maintenance, consumables and support. At the same time, limited funding means that these agencies may not have the ability to invest in sweeping print changes all at once — any roll-out would have to be strategically phased.
What makes state government tick?
Poor print management has negative consequences in any business. Within state governments, however, unmanaged printing can become an especially perilous situation. When poor document management is a bottleneck at the state level, constituents can be adversely affected.
Take, for instance, a flood that shuts down all of Brisbane, with multiple state buildings water-damaged and closed until further notice. Without a well-equipped print plan, government employees working remotely may be unable to access critical documents. Departmental communication could become disjointed and, as such, normal citywide operations along with it.
Beyond weather-related events, even a statewide construction project highlights the need for smarter printing. If a state recruits hundreds of temporary employees who require rapid access to specific application documents for the initiative, but has an outdated document management policy, onboarding will take much longer than expected. Neglecting to give certain contracted personnel print authorisation could delay the project and rack up extra costs from the start.
These common situations underscore the serious repercussions of a dated print arrangement at the state level.
Managed print services for state government
A managed print strategy enables state governments to eliminate costs and safeguard important data, all while keeping important initiatives on track. Taking the first step to considering a solution that replaces print servers, or allows for offline and mobile printing, would facilitate progress.
By reducing the number of servers that support government devices, maintenance and hardware expenditures will deflate. Perhaps more importantly, business continuity at the state level will be ensured, keeping state governments up and running to best serve their constituents.
Through work with some of the largest state agencies in Australia, Datacom’s Managed Print Services enable state governments to take advantage of operational and cost efficiencies in print despite budget and maintenance challenges. Interested in learning more? Datacom can help you determine which areas could be improved within your state government print setup with our no-cost assessment.
According to Datacom’s research, nearly half of conversations about your brand are likely to be taking place on your social media channels. Keeping track of these conversations is not just important for understanding what competitors are doing and customers are saying. It also allows you to see which of your services, programs or products are performing the best (or worst) so you can use this information to guide immediate (and future) business decisions.
All it takes is listening
The great thing about tracking mentions of your brand across a variety of online channels is that it can be done without engaging with your customers at all. Simply by listening, your organisation can pick up information that allows you to quickly react in a number of ways:
- Plan for more online advertising or awareness campaigns or order more print advertising to boost visibility of a program or event
- Disseminate more information about a service that your customers or constituents are confused about
- Update your website with information to fill knowledge gaps
- Order more inventory to meet greater demand or avoid or cancel ordering more if demand is too low
- Prepare to allow for additional resources to deal with a potential influx of questions, sign-ups or applications about a particular event or program
- Schedule an additional event or resources for an event based on how widely it is being talked about online
Real-word examples of how to quickly leverage social media insight
Depending on the arrangement you have with your social media services provider, you can get regular updates each day or each week to keep you on the pulse of how your programs, services, products and events are being discussed online. Consider these examples:
- One organisation ran a safety awareness campaign which included a free gift as part of the campaign, made available through an online registration link. Datacom monitored the online activity the week prior to, and the week following, the campaign. The registration link circulated before the campaign officially launched, which resulted in all the gifts being claimed. The organisation was able to find out quickly that all the gifts had been claimed through Datacom’s monitoring and were able to order another 5,000 to cater for the demand.
- One theatre wanted to track mentions of a major production at its venue and that of a rival theatre. The rival theatre’s show was being talked about on social media much more. However, when it came to posts which talked about the production and the venue at the same time, the main theatre’s show and venue were actually mentioned much more together than the rival theatre’s show. The theatre could then decide how it wanted to tweak its advertising or online messaging to grow or maintain its share of the conversation.
Tracking your brand online can provide immediate ROI by giving you the agility to react to fluctuating demand and customer enquiries and concerns. To learn if your organisation could benefit from this type of insight, take a few minutes to fill out our social media survey and set up an appointment with Datacom to discuss your needs.
Application packaging and deployment involve an array of cumbersome tasks such as gathering configuration requirements and categorising software — tasks that done incorrectly, delay time to deployment and cripple user productivity. With limited time and focus to give to this one area of your business, it’s easy to see how mistakes can happen. The path to easier and more successful application deployment and management is punctuated by three key characteristics: repeatability, quality assurance and more streamlined application approval. Working these traits into your application management approach can reduce your IT team’s headaches and get your users their applications faster.
Your organisation’s aim should be to use a set of standard processes for packaging everything from simple applications to complex ones. Application deployment requires installer packages. Sometimes they are deployed incorrectly to certain users or user groups. By leveraging a file format in a standard configuration that aligns with your application needs, you can deploy the file repeatedly the same way across the organisation to avoid faulty installations.
2. Quality assurance testing
Of course, attempts at repeatability need to be tested. This can be done through quality assurance testing before the application is officially installed. Performing a test install and uninstall of each application adds a bit more time to the overall application deployment process but avoids having to troubleshoot after the fact when a user realises his or her software is not working correctly. And if it isn’t working correctly for one user, it may not work correctly for others, increasingly the amount of effort and time to correct the problem.
3. Quicker application approval
So your applications have now been configured in a standardised way and tested before deployment. But how can new employees or employees changing roles or departments get quick access to them? One of the other cogs in the wheel of enterprise application management is that software distribution and policy deployment become a long process that includes filing a help ticket with the service desk, getting the manager’s approval for access and locating, licensing and installing the application. This often results in the user waiting days or weeks for an app he or she needs.
The key to solving this issue involves some additional repeatability: creating set application approval workflows that can be triggered when a user requests access to an app, whether it’s on a personal or corporate device. These workflows can include mandatory and optional software deployment and policy delivery requests. The employee can select the app from a portal and then have a request sent straight to the manager to approve, cutting many steps in the usual approval process.
Your business can enact these changes to application management and deployment or have them planned and managed for you by a managed operating environment provider such as Datacom. To learn about your options, check out our RACE to Application Management and RACE to Self-Service offerings.
Australia's IT outsourcing services market is expected to grow from A$7.6 billion in 2012 to A$9.3 billion in 2017, according to IDC. Part of this growth will include organisations leveraging a range of different suppliers to manage their IT environment to take advantage of services maturity and cost efficiencies. Yet, managing these suppliers is a big job for the average organisation, one that involves overseeing multiple billing configurations, SLAs and reporting metrics. One way to get better oversight across a range of varied suppliers is through using a service aggregation provider. This service provides a single contact for managing suppliers and an aggregated view of performance so you have more time to focus on your core business.
Service aggregation cuts the pain of managing a range of providers by delivering operational coordination, integration and assurance of service levels end-to-end. Organisations get a single point of contact for managing all suppliers throughout the service lifecycle to optimise performance. This includes procuring, maintaining and evaluating supplier contracts.
A service aggregation setup usually includes two components. The first is a unified services management team that provides oversight and drives maturity of service management processes. The second is the service desk, which works with the process owners and resolver groups to address areas of poor performance as well as manage continual service improvement. This combined team can manage services around incident management, problem management, change management, configuration management and capacity management to name a few areas. This service management occurs regardless of whether your business has one provider supplying desktop services while another provides network services.
Better performance tracking
With the information provided from the service desk on how your services are operating, in addition to information such as capacity plans, service aggregation offers your organisation an overall view of performance reporting across all suppliers. Defined processes are enacted so service delivery is documented and continually reviewed to ensure it matches performance outcomes. This performance tracking approach allows for day-to-day monitoring instead of monthly reporting so your business can make swift decisions to improve outcomes.
More time to focus on core business
Service aggregation helps define clear roles and responsibilities for all of your providers and establishes a framework by which the group can operate. It also helps pinpoint any gaps or issues between the service delivery of third-party providers and your own business. Instead of trying to manage a group of disparate suppliers, your organisation frees up internal staff time to focus on the core business and its strategic endeavours. The outcome is better performance for your business and a better working relationship across suppliers.
A funny thing often happens when CIOs and CEOs share their strategic plans for the upcoming year. Despite commanding C-level positions that underpin the vision and performance of the company, these two roles often don’t confer on their strategies as they are developing them. To marry IT strategy with business strategy, organisations require complete buy-in from everyone within the business, from the top down, to provide a clear understanding of how technology can solve key business pain points and further organisational goals. Below are a few tips for aligning IT and business strategy so C-levels can come to a common agreement on how to steer the organisation in the next 12 months and beyond.
1. Make lights-on go away
Naturally, these daily tasks are necessary to keep the business running but they shouldn’t be the focus of IT. However, all too often they are. A recent survey of CIOs in 24 countries including the Asia-Pacific region reported on TheCioLeader.com found more than half of CIOs spend 70 per cent or more of their time on daily technology management. Eighty per cent reportedly devote half their time or more to non-strategic tasks.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Better alignment of technology strategy with the business begins with prioritising revenue-generating projects, tracking the right performance metrics and talking to business units and customers to find out what they need. IT can also consider outsourcing non-critical functions that could free up internal staff time and reduce expenditures, in addition to engaging with third-party project management experts who can ensure you meet deadlines for top-priorities endeavours.
2. Show them the money
Top management cares most about either saving money or making money. If technology plans don’t demonstrate how the business can accomplish one or both of these goals, they will fall on deaf ears. Automating and speeding up business processes and reducing downtime are ways IT can demonstrate financial ROI. Anything that will boost productivity and business performance is worth considering. Think about drafting a business case template for IT initiatives that includes a business analysis of each technology investment, defining how it supports organisational goals, life-cycle costs, benefits, risks and expected ROI.
3. Balance commitment and flexibility
This tenet is presented in a 2011 article by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company called “Have you tested your strategy lately?” It applies to overall business strategy but also points to a place where IT needs to play. Technology in particular often necessitates an open, out-of-the-box approach to be applied successfully. And since technology can be a rapidly changing force, it’s important to leave wiggle room for trying out new trends and piloting new technologies as they emerge. IT departments that can show dedication to the overall business vision while getting things done will increasingly be given more leeway to pursue alternative technology approaches.
How has your business aligned technology and business strategy?
Considering a 1:1 program as you embark upon the new Australian school year? 1:1 programs can be a great way to facilitate individual, ongoing learning in the classroom and beyond. But you need to get real on the costs and steps involved in implementation. Using a holistic approach to planning your 1:1 program can help you control spend and develop an effective solution that meets all the needs of your stakeholders.
Managed services as a topic in and of itself doesn’t always get the attention topics such as cloud and mobility do. That’s largely because managed services covers such a large umbrella of technology services that it can often be absent from conversations about specific solutions. It’s important to relate these single solutions back to managed services because it changes the way they are consumed, designed and supported. Take note of the following predicted managed services trends for 2014 and how you can use them to improve business.
Enterprise Content Management
More than 60 per cent of midsize businesses are using Microsoft SharePoint to organise and share information, according to Forrester. TechNavio anticipates the global enterprise content management (ECM) market to increase to $9.6 billion in 2014. ECM can help businesses improve records management, search and e-discovery and document capture. A managed services provider can help integrate organisations’ disparate data and management systems to improve content workflows and accessibility. And as Ovum expects mobility, social media and cloud computing to transform ECM in 2014, business can take advantage of a managed services provider to help incorporate these additional capabilities into a complete ECM solution that fully allows anytime, anywhere access to content of all types.
Managed security services
This year will be a particularly busy one for the managed security services — or MSS — market, according to Gartner. The research firm predicts the MSS market to grow from $12 billion in 2013 to more than $22.5 billion by 2017. Increasing security threats brought about by BYOD and mobile apps and advanced persistent threats (APTs) coupled with a lack of internal resources to manage all these threats is driving the MSS growth. Australia already suffers from a lack of skilled IT resources, and the IT security realm is no different — a major risk when threats are continuously becoming more numerous and complex. The result will be more organisations enlisting the help of a third-party security service or managed services provider that can address incident response and detect APTs. In some instances, these managed resources will work with in-house staff and, at the very least, will educate internal employees on how to best protect the business.
Cloud services managed for you
As we’ve written before, consuming cloud through a managed services provider can help organisations leverage best-practice, enterprise-level technology and delivery methods. Having your cloud services managed for you by expert IT providers lowers risk and frees up internal IT staff time — it also makes the integration more seamless. With the recent rise in organisations using a multi-cloud approach — where businesses consume at least two different types of cloud services —, businesses will increasingly need a provider to procure, design and manage these different cloud service providers and platforms. This includes overseeing all the SLAs, performance metrics and billing for you.
Downtime of business-critical apps. Time spent on trouble shooting. Security breaches of the endpoint.
These are just a sampling of the issues that can crop up when an overtasked IT team tries to manage your business’s operating environment. These challenges speak little to how hard your staff works or how much expertise they carry. With all the other duties IT has on its plate, in addition to striving to be a more strategic arm of the organisation, it’s almost impossible to effectively perform all the steps necessary to have a consistently high-performing operating environment. Think about it: there’s OS and software deployment, software patching, configuration and change management and compliance management. These tasks are cumbersome — and when done incorrectly, they can mean serious risk of downtime and data loss to your business.
That’s why Datacom has developed its RACE to MOE suite for managing your operating environment more effectively. RACE — Rapid Access to Core Enablers — to MOE — Managed Operating Environment — includes five distinct products that together form a powerful managed operating environment:
- RACE to Standard Operating Environment (SOE)
- RACE to Endpoint Management
- RACE to Self-Service
- RACE to Application Management
- RACE to Database
Designed for separate deployment, these managed operating environment components fit together to ensure compatibility and encourage a user-centric approach to managing your operating environment. The products are available through a range of options and management levels, including installing them on supplied hardware or your hardware, managing them yourself, having our team manage them or having them managed through the cloud. We invite you to get in touch to learn more about RACE to MOE and see how your business can optimise operating environment management to reduce risk and have a more efficient IT department.
Unified communications once solely belonged to office desktops and laptops. While workers certainly needed a chance to communicate across departments and company locations, much of this collaboration was done at their desks. But now more and more Australian workers are using mobile devices at work, or bringing their own smartphones or tablets, spurring a need for unified communications solutions to be optimised for a mobile landscape. Enter mobile unified communications, or mobile UC. Mobile UC has started to take off thanks to the increased availability and stability of wireless networks and will no doubt evolve in 2014 and beyond. If you are in the midst of a mobility or BYOD transition or are planning one in the near future, here’s what to consider when it comes to mobile UC.
Fixed mobile convergence
The first step to mobile UC is typically fixed mobile convergence, which integrates public cellular services with private wireless networks. Control point-focussed, enterprise network fixed mobile convergence is currently used more often, and the most common implementation is mobile-to-mobile convergence, which provides the ability to transfer calls between networks to employees using dual-mode Wi-Fi/cellular handsets. This method basically identifies if the user is in the office and, if so, sends the call over wireless LAN. If not, the call goes to the person’s cell phone. This approach can limit costs as organisations can choose the least expensive option for routing the call.
Mobile UC on consumer devices
True mobile UC goes beyond sending a voice call to a cell phone. Here, presence comes into play, giving the user a directory of contacts and their availability on his or her mobile device. This ability lets the user make a voice call, send an SMS or email or start a conference. UC vendors are responding to the growing trend of enterprise mobility by enabling special mobile UC software on consumer devices using voice services and data connection.
There is also such a thing as a unified communications tablet making headway in the mobile UC realm. It’s a hybrid between a smartphone and a consumer tablet that integrates with the enterprise UC environment to deliver video conferencing, instant messaging, presence and other tools. These mobile UC devices can also support voice communications unlike regular tablets.
Giving frontline staff anywhere access to information
According to the IDC, enterprise productivity in Australia will increasingly be driven by unified messaging and mobile integration with email. The ability to tap into unified communications tools on a mobile device can “increase speed of responsiveness by giving frontline staff anywhere and everywhere access to corporate applications and information that will bring touch points closer to customers,” said Raj Mudaliar, IDC Australia senior analyst for IT services, in an article last year. Even if your organisation is not ready to take the leap to mobile UC, it pays to begin looking at your strategy to see if such a solution will make business sense in the next five years. Datacom’s unified communications team can assess your current communications infrastructure and business goals to determine the best mobile UC solution for you.