A cloud policy is essential for any organisation’s ability to remain secure and grow competitively — and the responsibility for developing one remains squarely with you, not your cloud services provider. While a cloud policy is needed regardless of delivery model, SaaS used without clearly defined user guidelines in particular leaves the door open for employees to consume public cloud services that could be putting data at risk without you knowing it. Consider some of the findings revealed in a recent survey of 500 leading companies by Symform:
- Nearly 20 per cent of surveyed organisations have no established security policies or standards for departments using or considering cloud computing.
- Of the 39 per cent who claimed their organisations are not using cloud solutions and have no established policies, nearly two-thirds of this group allow employees or teams to use cloud services. Even more frightening, over one-third of the group allow employees to store organisational data in cloud solutions.
- Nearly 70 per cent are against storing credit card information in the cloud, yet have no policies in place to prohibit workers from doing so.
Unfortunately, the presence of cloud policies does not guarantee proper enforcement. A Symantec-sponsored study showed:
- 81 per cent of IT executives claimed their organisations had cloud security policies that stipulated clear-cut consequences for violating these policies, yet 55 per cent of surveyed end-users said they “didn’t know these policies from Adam" and 49 per cent of end-users were unaware of any consequences.
- Some enterprises have completely blocked internal access to Dropbox and iCloud, commonly deemed as insecure for corporate data, instead of putting policies in place to control their use.
The surveys and studies speak volumes. But the questions remain: Where to start in a cloud policy — and what to include? As experts in cloud services, we’ve developed a four-step methodology to help organisations of all sizes develop their own cloud policies.
1. Codify all the steps necessary to deploy a solution. When departments or individuals in your organisation express interest in cloud solutions, you must have a framework for evaluating these cloud services. Establish a process for obtaining all the technical information, such as understanding:
- Everything the cloud initiative entails
- Methods for accessing the cloud data
- The necessary governance and security
- What test resources and pilot individuals and/or departments are appropriate
- What IT resources are necessary to launch and maintain the cloud initiative
- The resources the requestor and IT need post-launch
- How and when the cloud initiative will be evaluated post-launch to ensure performance
2. Ensure the cloud solution address “The Top 5”. The criteria above address the request and how IT will support the new cloud computing initiative. But IT’s role isn’t solely understanding and supporting cloud solutions. As the experts, the IT department must perform due diligence on the proposed cloud service to ensure it meets “The Top 5”, meaning the cloud initiative is:
Remember: The requestor is focused on solving a problem. IT’s role is to ensure that solution cuts the mustard.
3. Determine how well the cloud solution considered can achieve the objective. Once the project is fully understood, extend IT’s technical expertise to determine if the requestor has found a solution that fully addresses the need, or if the solution will require customisation in order to meet the basic objectives.
4. Delineate employee access rights and possible workflows. Most requestors err on the side of allowing more access than needed. While this may not be a large concern for small initiatives, or ones handling non-sensitive data, cloud solutions that involve highly sensitive information should be limited to authorised personnel only.
WAN optimisation focuses on making the enterprise wide area network faster so your workforce can better access applications and data. As it’s an often-used term, WAN optimisation might seem like a single, standard approach to improving network performance, but it’s designed and implemented differently by different network management providers. To fully capitalise on the benefits of WAN optimisation, consider these factors before you use your solution.
- Your mobile users
Once upon a time, you only had to worry about optimising performance for a network accessed by users onsite. The rise of enterprise mobility now necessitates WAN optimisation that considers mobile users. The challenge here is the less-than-desirable virtual private network connections used by mobile workers, such as DSL and wireless, which present issues around latency and lower bandwidth and might negate the benefits of WAN optimisation. The right network management provider should be able to source and implement a solution that works across mobile VPN clients and integrates into the operating system management environment to ensure compatibility and performance to truly tap into the benefits of WAN optimisation.
- Application performance monitoring
The benefits of WAN optimisation don’t negate the need to monitor your enterprise applications’ performance on the network. You still need to ensure your WAN optimisation solution integrates with the performance monitoring tools to give a more accurate picture of application response time. This integration will usually involve synching critical TCP/IP network information with application performance monitoring tools to show the end-to-end response times between clients and servers over an optimised link. The right network management provider will be able to configure this integration to give you additional benefits of WAN optimisation.
- Budget needs
Even with the improved speed and performance benefits of WAN optimisation, it can be quite expensive, pricing out at several thousands of dollars a month. However, a trusted network management provider can give options that don’t involve increasing pricey bandwidth. There are certain options that provide fixed monthly costs or reduce costs by decreasing the number of network links. A network management provider might offer optimised networks that it maintains and manages and allow customers to access them on a consumption basis. This shifts costs from capex to opex so you can get the benefits of WAN optimisation without breaking the budget.
Despite the modern digitisation of most business practices, printing is not going away any time soon. Seventy-five per cent of organisations use printing services on a daily basis and up to 10 per cent of an organisation’s IT budget alone is spent on print-related activities. However, in an age where companies are pursuing a variety of tactics to save time, boost productivity and eliminate costs, making the switch to managed print services (MPS) is emerging as one of the more attractive — and secure — solutions.
Due to the evolving technology space and a higher demand for a more efficient print model, the managed print services market is growing rapidly. In the Asia-Pacific region specifically, the managed print services market is estimated at $2.2 billion and is forecasted to grow by more than double the global average of 39 per cent from 2010 to 2015. Because of the dramatic cost-saving capabilities — companies can save up to 30 per cent of print costs, on average —, the managed print services transition isn’t limited to larger firms. Midmarket businesses currently trail behind large enterprises in managed print services deployment, but more than one third of these organisations are considering a transition in the next year — for good reason.
Meeting the demands of a new workforce
From the start, managed print services boost operational efficiencies and streamline print communication so IT managers can devote time to more critical, strategic business issues. On a more complex level, managed print services satisfy the need to align printing solutions with newer enterprise technology concepts such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Today’s young generation of employees has grown up with mobile technology, forcing firms to adapt most of their internal and customer-facing processes to fit this mobile workforce.
As employees print from multiple devices, seamless print operations will become a necessity; in the average office, the employee to printer ratio is 4:1, but the optimal ratio is closer to 10:1. Instating managed print services simplify this problem by enabling printing capabilities for more employees, from any device. Simpler printing eliminates the number of print-related help cases — which account for almost 40 per cent of help desk interactions — again, freeing up your IT staff to focus on more critical projects.
This new generation of employees is also more ardent in their feelings about sustainability and working for businesses that are environmentally conscious. For a 750-employee organisation, printing alone requires colossal amounts of electricity and emits up to 85.7 tons of carbon. Managed print services combat these issues by reducing print redundancies to minimise waste and reduce a hardcopy fleet’s carbon emissions by up to 60 per cent.
Addressing modern security vulnerabilities
While a mobile workforce generates new businesses capabilities, the increase in server access points and printer connections can also mean more enterprise security risks. Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), for example, is a component embedded in nearly 7,000 different kinds of devices – printers, routers, mobile devices and media players — that allows them to automatically recognise each other’s network presence and communicate. According to Rapid7, around 40 to 50 million network-enabled devices are at risk due to UPnP vulnerabilities.
These risks can be hard to pinpoint, but managed service providers can implement security processes like data encryption and image overwrites and use tools to identify exposed UPnP network endpoints, essentially marking those that could be exploited remotely. As organisations’ IT staffs decrease in size and IT managers begin to focus on more complex, business growth tasks, they will have less time to dedicate to constant monitoring of gaps in print protection. Outsourcing this maintenance and preventive action will likely emerge as the most sensible option for these new business models.
As technology demands evolve for businesses of all sizes, managed print services fulfil the growing need for efficiency, security and cost savings in the enterprise. Though many businesses are just starting to contemplate outsourcing their printing components, managed print services is well positioned to be one of the more effective, reliable models of the future.
Mathew Frederickson joined Datacom Systems WA in 2008 to establish the Managed Print Services division, an area that has evolved to become a critical component of the Datacom Systems service suite.
In March 2013, he became the National Manager - Managed Print Services, in charge of Datacom’s national print strategy across the company’s six Australian locations. Prior to starting work at Datacom, Mathew served as Facilities Manager for Imagetec Solutions and as an Account Manager at Mutlifax/DDS.
As cloud computing has evolved from competitive advantage to necessity, there are a few givens that organisations considering or already using cloud services should know. Most come down to knowing the responsibilities of your organisation and your cloud services provider so you can enable a more secure cloud computing experience that cuts business risk while offering true scale.
1. Your organisation remains ultimately responsible for cloud security. This lesson doesn’t mean cloud services that claim to be secure, SAS 70 Type II-compliant aren’t required to live up to their advertising. It simply means that no cloud solutions, no matter how focused on security, can keep your organisation’s data safe if the IT department doesn’t set and enforce cloud computing access policies, as well as compliance standards specific to your industry and geography. Of course, certain cloud services may cater to industries and regions.
Even so, the onus falls squarely on you as the customer to ensure compliance and access control. A good cloud services provider can walk you through some of the policy-related questions you’ll need to ask to ensure the right people are accessing your cloud.
2. All data is not created — or stored in the cloud — equal. Depending upon the sensitivity of certain data, cloud solutions may not be available. Between industry standards and regulations, data containing customers’ or employees’ birthdates, government ID numbers, passport numbers and similar information may not be appropriate for your cloud solutions. Consult the legal and compliance departments early on in the cloud computing process if the initiative may involve any data one could reasonably construe as highly sensitive and that might need to remain in-house on your own servers. Your next step, once you’ve categorised the importance of your data and what information can be stored in the cloud, is to work with your cloud services provider to determine what gets stored where and who has access to it.
3. A great cloud computing experience requires a great cloud services relationship. Many organisations fumble the opportunity to recognise cloud services providers as new business partners. Like any major on-premises solutions, cloud services providers require a solid relationship with your business, including the IT department, in order to create cloud solutions that adapt to — and perhaps lead — your organisation’s business evolution. Choosing a cloud services provider that has a local presence will give insight and access to your cloud operations and the people running them.
4. You’re never stuck with an inflexible cloud solution. Once cloud solutions are up and running, the IT department should constantly capitalise on the opportunity to prove their value over an on-premises alternative. Regularly evaluate cloud solutions’ performance and the changing business landscape. Because cloud services provide incredible agility, there’s no reason your IT department shouldn’t stand at the vanguard of improving cloud solutions. The strong partnership with your cloud services provider will prove priceless as the IT department provides the path for business managers to have input and buy-in to the cloud solutions with the goal of providing even greater ROI.
These cloud computing lessons offer a blueprint for building successful cloud solutions across the enterprise. Knowing the cloud computing areas where other organisations have fumbled will help your business be more in-tune with what it takes to ensure a secure, strategic cloud solutions delivery.
Here's Part II in our Q&A with Datacom Director Mark McWilliams on the managed payroll market in Australia and how SaaS and cloud are becoming game-changers in the industry.
Q: Cloud seems to be an increasingly viable option for running payroll — what benefits does a cloud model provide?
A: Cloud is really about the commercial model. Running a system like payroll in the cloud commercial model is very powerful — as long as the provider embodies cloud principles in its contract. These characteristics and benefits include:
- On-demand self-service: The client can unilaterally provision new capabilities as needed without human intervention.
- Broad network access: Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin- or thick-client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, laptops, and PDAs).
- Resource pooling: The provider’s system resources are pooled to serve multiple clients using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to client demand.
- Rapid elasticity: Capabilities can be rapidly and elastically provisioned, in some cases automatically, to quickly scale out and rapidly released to quickly scale in. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be purchased in any quantity at any time.
- Measured service: Cloud systems automatically control and optimise resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., number of employees, reports generated, pay slips produced). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and client of the utilised service.
Q: What factors should organisations consider when deciding whether to enter into a fully-managed or partially-managed (SaaS) BPO agreement?
A: There are essentially four key factors to consider when it comes to outsourcing payroll. The first is the organisation’s size and complexity. Does your organisation do the same type of pays, or is it varied? If the answer is the latter, it might reduce your risk and overall costs to fully outsource due to the multiple award configurations, employee types, shifts and so on.
The second factor centres on the knowledge of your internal payroll team. If you have a strong internal team with ingrained knowledge, it may be better to retain that team in-house and opt for a partially-managed, SaaS solution. The third factor, which is also related to your payroll staff, is whether or not you are legally able to migrate your payroll to a service provider at all.
The fourth, and likely most important factor, is which outsourcing option will truly accelerate optimisation of human capital management in your organisation. For instance, if you have an internal team that’s highly motivated and they want to run with it, let them run your payroll through the SaaS option.
Q: What are some of the key traits organisations should look for in a managed payroll provider?
A: Stability is No. 1. Don’t choose a fly-by-night organisation. Clients need to know that the organisation is robust and will continue to pay your people without risk of downtime. The provider needs to be a specialist in the area with sufficient local critical mass to understand what’s happening in the market, both nationally and locally. For instance, in the Victorian public health system, which Datacom Business Services has served for the last 40 years, an understanding of federal and local laws and what’s going on reduces the risk that people will get paid late or incorrectly.
The other key consideration is whether the provider has a robust system with a solid future development roadmap. Basically, is the platform going to reach a point in the near future where support ends? SAP, the technology DBS will use to run payroll and human capital management, has a roadmap out to 2020, for instance.
Q: In terms of a forecast for the industry, where do you see payroll heading in the next five years? Will organisations continue to keep payroll in-house or move to a business process outsourcing model or an as-a-service model?
A: Between 2010 and 2015, the human resource outsourcing market (fully-managed) will grow in Australia and New Zealand from $1.3 billion to $1.9 billion in revenue, according to IDC figures. Human Resources Outsourcing (HRO) is one of the fastest-growing outsourcing segments, due to grow around 13 to 14 per cent for the next three to five years. So, it’s fair to say that the industry is going in the direction of outsourcing, in both the fully- and partially-managed capacity.
Learn more about managed payroll and human capital management.
Datacom Systems (Asia) Sdn Bhd and KUB Malaysia Berhad are set to provide a more extensive range of IT services and solutions to Malaysian businesses, specifically the public sector, after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Andrew Goodwin, Executive Director of Datacom Systems, and Dato’ Wan Mohd Nor Wan Ahmad, Group Managing Director of KUB Malaysia Berhad, signed the MoU, with Datacom Group CEO Jonathan Ladd in attendance.
The partnership will allow both organisations to collaborate and leverage one another's aligned IT and business service offerings. Core IT focuses will include cloud, data centre and other infrastructure services.
Here is some media coverage on this new partnership:
Datacom recently presented on mobility in the workplace at the Evolve Security Conference held in Melbourne and Sydney. Our mobility expert Kurt Nasarenko, who is based in our Brisbane office, gave two back-to-back sessions in the consumerisation stream. His first, “Beyond the Buzz: Increasing Business Performance through Practical Mobility Solutions,” covered how organisations can align mobility with business needs. His second session, “Practical Mobility Solutions [Case Study]: How Organisations are Using Mobility to Increase Business Performance Now,” demonstrated how organisations Datacom has worked with have used mobility to solve their business issues and drive productivity, competitive advantage and revenue.
Kurt stressed in his first session that a mistake many organisations make is expecting mobility to somehow improve the organisation without a defined tie in to specific business processes. A key question organisations should ask themselves before they embark on the path to mobility in the workplace, according to Kurt, is, “How are we going to optimise our business and how are we going to optimise our processes? Think about the needs of the business, how mobility can solve the problem.”
Kurt made a point that getting caught up in the technology of mobility can throw an organisation off course in relation to how mobile solutions can solve real problems. The focus, he said, should be outcomes, such as reducing operating costs and time to market. Organisations should first identify passive needs they might have and the compelling reason they should implement a mobility solution now. After thorough analysis of the problem and how mobile technology could solve it, Kurt advised organisations design the solution, implement, support and then review and refine it.
In his second session, Kurt presented three case studies of organisations for which Datacom has implemented mobility solutions. For one organisation, Kurt’s mobility team developed a “fatigue calculator” app for a field service team that worked long hours in a dangerous environment. Formerly, the 800 workers had to report back to base to have their fatigue assessments. The app was able to help reduce the number of back-to-base visits by 6,000 and cut costs by $300,000 per annum.
In another example, a state government agency was using manual forms for data collection, which was a slow process that led to a lot of errors. Kurt’s team implemented an ink-on-glass mobile app that allows integrated data fields and workflows to better manage process. As a result, the process execution was reduced from weeks to hours and the amount of errors and incorrect form submissions decreased by 80 per cent.
As with any new technology implementation, Kurt explained a mobility solution will necessitate cultural change that will include some resistance to the new way of doings things — even if employees themselves instigated the change in the first place. Choosing a few key evangelists who can spread the benefits to others and even pilot test the mobility solution is helpful in the change management phase, Kurt said. By embracing these champions, the true benefit of the mobility solution to the business will start to emerge.
Learn more about how to get started with a mobility solution that aligns with your business needs.
Network management isn’t just a WAN optimisation or a one-off system configuration. A valuable network optimisation provider will truly manage your network, offering a range of additional solutions and services, budget-friendly options and best practice implementation and support.
- A valuable provider will handle more than just traditional network management
Not only should the provider offer WAN optimisation, load balancing, wireless configuration and desktop and router configuration, it should also offer the full gamut of network management services for other technology needs. Can the provider optimise the network environment for cloud, disaster recovery and unified communications? A network management provider that “does it all” means you can go to a single source for all your network management needs.
- The network management team knows how the network was designed
Many providers keep their network management design and implementation teams separate, which can cause a knowledge gap if a network issue arises. If the network management team doesn’t know how the switches, routers and other components were configured, it will have a harder time fixing the problem. Looking for a provider where the design and network management teams actually talk to each other — or, better yet, are one in the same — will save you trouble down the line, as you’ll have a cohesive approach to the development and support of your network setup. Only consider network management providers that use design best practices and adhere to industry standards.
- They have their own data centres
Network management providers that offer their own data centres can provide a range of different solutions through them, such as disaster recovery, in addition to benefits such as high-speed links between data centres and more secure optimisations. Data centre nodes allow the provider to offer active sites between which customers can load balance so that if one site goes down, it can leverage the other. A network management provider with their own data centres also means customers are fully protected by having all fibres that run in one direction on one side of the data centre to reduce risk if there is an incident or outage at one location. Network management providers with their own data centres can also offer lower-cost solutions, as they can lease and light their own fibre and create multi-plexes at each end to allocate as much bandwidth as is needed while keeping prices down.
The public is engaging online with government like never before. A 2011 Australian Government Information Management Office report shows the number of individuals using social media in government communications grew to 47 per cent in 2011 from 36 per cent in 2009. And Nielsen's “Online Ratings State of the Nation Report” shows that more than a third of the 11.3 million Australians that visit Facebook each month use the site to engage with government.
Datacom wants to make sure you are as prepared as possible for a growing citizenry that prefers communicating and expressing themselves online. We invite you to register for our social media training taking place on June 20th and August 20th in partnership with social media consultancy Digital Infusions. The one-day event will teach you how you can effectively participate in social media without having an active presence for your council by listening and the steps to take once you're ready to begin engaging with the public. We have limited seating available so we urge you to secure your spot today.
In the meantime, we encourage you to learn more about how to use social media in government in our video "The Power of Listening"— first presented at the Social Media for the Public Sector Conference Datacom sponsored in Sydney in March — below. Your council can learn how to use social media in government by just listening, which allows you to pinpoint what the public is saying about your council and its services and where online it's being said. This knowledge allows you to shape policy and programs that speak to the true needs of the communities you serve.
Do you know how much is at stake if your organisation loses data due to insufficient Windows XP or Office 2003 security updates or support? Take our risk assessment to learn.
Thirty per cent of SMEs are still running Windows XP and Office 2003 — and almost half don’t know support for both of these products will end in less than a year.
While you can still run Windows XP and Office 2003, you will no longer receive security updates or support after April 8, 2014. Even if you plan to upgrade to the new Office 2013 now, it’s not compatible with Windows XP. With these pressing security and compatibility issues, plotting your migration strategy now will help protect your business from risk of data loss and downtime. Here are some questions to ask to begin executing your Windows XP and Office 2003 upgrade plan.
1. Are my applications compatible? Prior to upgrading from Windows XP, you will need to see if your software will be compatible with your new operating system, whether it’s Windows 7 or Windows 8. That’s a process you don’t want to hold off on until right before you upgrade, as it can lead to significant downtime if it turns out that your apps aren’t compatible. And it’s not just Microsoft apps you have to worry about — explore the relationship with the apps you use that rely on the underlying Windows operating system and plan for remediation and compatibility testing.
2. Does my hardware fit? If you’re upgrading your operating system, you should consider if your workstations are optimised or whether you need to arrange for procurement of new ones. Knowing the hardware you will need now will help in forecasting your budget and also guide decisions around whether hosting certain applications in the cloud makes better sense.
3. Is it time to incorporate additional desktop services? Don’t narrow your Windows XP upgrade scope to just an operating system refresh. You could also use the occasion to take advantage of software asset management, volume licensing services and desktop support. Incorporating these services into your desktop migration strategy could help lower total cost of ownership, reduce business risk and improve IT management.
4. What user training will I need to conduct? If you’re upgrading to Windows 7 or 8 or Office Standard 2013, you’ll need to make sure your end users get up to speed before completing deployment. Choosing a few evangelists to test-pilot the new products and then arranging for training and post-deployment support through a managed services provider can ensure a streamlined approach.
To help you transition out of Windows XP, Office 2003 or both, Datacom is offering four different discounts on select Microsoft products, including Windows 8, if you purchase by June 21. We can also help your organisation take advantage of holistic desktop services to streamline your deployment and align your desktop strategy with your business needs.