Microsoft the digital transformation cool kids? – Andy Kent – Ep68

I recently attended a fascinating event with the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) and Microsoft. BIMA exist to drive innovation and excellence across the digital industry. One of the ways they do this is via community events and forum to help give industry leaders an opportunity to share ideas with their peers.

I personally believe forum like these should play a central part in an IT strategists role, the opportunity to share ideas with and learn from peers in your industry is essential in helping to gain the understanding needed to develop modern business strategies. The benefit of involving yourself in communities regardless of your sector should not be underestimated, that ability to build relationships with others who face the same challenges and opportunities is incredibly valuable.

One of the other things communities like BIMA do well is engage with influential organisations who are shaping the way industries develop and BIMA have done that recently for thier members with a series of roadshows with Microsoft. So, when I was invited to the recent event in Liverpool, I was fascinated to understand what Microsoft were doing in the digital agency space and how their technology was shaping the way digitally focussed organisations are innovating and bringing new solutions to market.

What I found however was the technology Microsoft discussed was the same as that they were sharing with all other types of businesses, their cloud vision of how Azure and Office 365 allows quick and easy deployment of technology and services that only a few years ago were out of the reach of most organisations.

Why was this message the same? While we may assume “digital” companies are ones focussed on marketing and media creation, the reality is most organisations are rapidly becoming digital businesses and starting to transform our organisations with technologies that only a few years ago were unavailable to most, cognitive services, AI, machine learning, deep analytics capabilities, bots and business intelligence just a few examples of the kind of technology that can transform the way we operate.

The event covered some fascinating topics and on this weeks podcast I share some of that with you, with my guest and one of the organisers of the BIMA event, Andy Kent CEO of Angel Solutions and the chair of BIMA Liverpool. Andy joins me to discuss the event, the technology Microsoft shared and how the new Microsoft is helping companies transform the way they do business.

We begin with a look at BIMA and the part they play and value they bring to the digital community.

We discuss the new Microsoft and ask if they are now the technology “cool kids” and how their change in attitude is encouraging people to engage with them and explore how technology can help them and their organisation.

We chat about some of the technology highlights Andy had from the show, how he sees AI as having a huge transformational effect and how Cloud is commoditising access to this kind of technology so that all organisations can benefit, big or small.

We look at some of the smart technologies Microsoft are now embedding into their more familiar tools and allowing that intelligence to do much of the “heavy lifting” for the end user, but how that does not replace a skilled and experienced professional, but does help keep them focussed on the high value work they do.

Finally, we look at how advances in technology has also advanced customer expectations and how theses advances are allowing organisations to do new things with and ask new questions of their data.

Andy shares with enthusiasm both the technological direction of this “new” Microsoft as well as the value that community has played in his business life.

If you want to find out more about Andy and the work that Angel Solutions do you can find them on twitter @angel_solutions.

You can find also find Andy on twitter @AndyCKent

If you want to know more about BIMA check out thier website www.bima.co.uk

Thanks for listening.

Advertisements

Building a modern data platform – Out on the edge

In this series so far we have concentrated on the data under our control in our datacentres and managed clouds and protected by enterprise data protection tools.

However, the reality of a modern data platform is not all of our data lives in those safe and secure locations. Today most organisations expect mobility, we want access to our key applications and data on any device and from any location.

This “edge data” presents a substantial challenge when building a modern data platform, not only is the mobility of data a security problem, it’s a significant management and compliance headache.

How do we go about managing this problem?

The aim of this series is to give examples of tools that I’ve used to solve modern data platform challenges, however with edge data it’s not that simple. It’s not only the type and location of data, but also the almost infinite range of devices that hold it.

Therefore, rather than present a single solution, we are going to look at some of the basics of edge data management and some tools you may wish to consider.

Manage the device

The fundamental building block of edge data protection is maintaining control of our mobile devices, they are repositories for our data assets and should be treated as any other in our organisation.

When we say control, what do we mean? In this case control comes from strong endpoint security.

Strong security is essential for our mobile devices, their very nature means they carry a significant risk of loss and therefore data breach, so it’s critical we get the security baseline right.

To do this mobile device management tools like Microsoft Intune can help us to build secure baseline policies, which may, for example, demand secure logon, provide application isolation and in the event of device loss ensure we can secure the data on that device to help minimise the threat of data leak and compliance breach.

Protecting the data

As critical as ensuring our mobile data repository is managed and secure, protecting the data on it is crucial. We can take three general approaches to controlling our edge data;

  • No data on the device
  • All data synchronised to a secure location
  • Enforce edge data protection

Which approach you use depends on both the type of data and the working practices of your organisation.

For example, if your mobile users only access data from good remote links, home office for example, then having data only within our controlled central repositories and never on the device is fine.

That however, is not always practical, therefore a hybrid approach that allows us to cache local copies of that data on our devices may be more appropriate, think OneDrive for Business, Dropbox or build your own sync tools such as Centrestack.

These tools allow users access to a cached local copy of the data housed in our central data stores regardless of connectivity, with managed synchronisation back to these stores when possible.

This provides up to date data copies for users for convenience, while we maintain a central data repository ensuring the authoritative copy resides under our control.

Enforce Data Protection

However, this hybrid approach relies upon users placing the data in the correct folder locations and if they don’t this then presents a data security and compliance risk.

To overcome this we can ensure we protect all of the data on these devices by extending our enterprise data protection solution, for example we can use Veeam Agents to protect our Windows workloads, or a specialised edge data tool such as Druva InSync, which can help us protect edge data on a range of devices and operating systems.

This goes beyond synchronisation of a set of predefined folders and allows us to protect as much of the data and configuration of our mobile devices as we need to.

Understand the edge

While ensuring the device and data is robustly protected, our modern platform also demands insight into our data, where it is, how it is used and importantly how to find it when needed.

This is a real challenge with edge data, how do we know who’s mobile device has certain data types on it? If we lose a device can we identify what was on it? The ability to find and identify data across our organisation, including that on the edge, is essential to the requirements of our modern data platform.

Ensuring we have a copy of that data, that is held securely and is indexed and searchable, should be a priority.

Druva InSync, for example, allows you to do compliance searches across all of the protected mobile devices, so you can find the content on a device, even if that device is lost.

Centralising content via enterprise backup, or synchronisation tools also provides us this capability, how you do it will depend on your own platform and working practice, doing it however should be seen as a crucial element of your modern data platform.

In Summary

The importance of having our data controlled even when it spends much of it’s time on the very edges of our networks is crucial to our modern data strategy. When it is, we can be sure  all of our business security and compliance rules are applied to it and we can ensure it’s protected, recoverable and always available.

Managing the data on the edges of our network is a difficult challenge, but by ensuring we have strong management of devices, robust data protection and insight into that data, we can ensure edge data is as core a part of our data platform as that in our datacentre.

This is part 5 in a series of posts on building a modern data platform, the previous parts of the series can be found below.

modern data platform
Introduction

modern storage
The Storage

031318_0833_Availabilit1.png
Availability

control
Control

 

 

what the cloud can bring
Prevention (Office365)

 

Getting on my bike for Marie Curie

This isn’t something I normally use this site for but I hope you won’t mind me making an exception on this occasion to share a challenge that Mrs Techstringy has “encouraged” me to join her on this year!

My wife works for the Marie Curie Charity here in the UK, they do incredible work helping to care for those with terminal illness who require end of life care. As you can imagine the work can be very challenging, in fact helping those and those close to them deal with terminal illness, is perhaps some of the most challenging circumstances you could be faced with.

Through a range of services from nursing support to hospice care, this incredible charity takes on this challenge daily, providing crucial services and support for those who need it, every day of someone’s life matters – from the first to the last and the charities role is to ensure that is the case.

All these services are provided for free, but of course aren’t free to provide, as Mrs Techstringy says, “Marie Curie is an amazing charity and working for them has given me an appreciation of just how much money needs to be raised for us to be able to continue to support as many people as possible”.

Over the last 5 years my wife has supported several charities, primarily through cycling events, be they local, national, long and even longer rides including riding through Vietnam, raising thousands of pounds and acting as a constant source of inspiration to me as I’ve watched her take on these epic challenges.

After a year working with Marie Curie she knew her next challenge would be something to help support the work they do, to do that she has decided to take on the Prudential Ride London event, a 100 mile ride around the UK’s capital city. Her inspirational examples of taking on long cycling challenges to raise money for great causes has rubbed off as she has “inspired” me to join her and having never really done any long distance cycling, 100 miles seemed a sensible place to start!!

We are a couple of months away from the event, training is well underway, I rode my first 100km event a couple of weeks ago (well thanks to some suspect measuring 106km) we are taking on hilly midweek rides with a long ride at weekends and spending a bit of time down the gym on the cycling machines, my bottom has adopted the relevant resistance to time in the saddle, so with a few more weeks of training to go, we should be ready to take it on.

Why am I sharing this? well of course, not only has my wife’s willingness to spend many hours in a bicycle seat inspired me to want to have a go, but the incredible work this fantastic charity does in providing end of life care has also inspired me to want to help and see if I can do a bit to financially support this great work.

How can the techstringy.com readers and listeners to the Tech Interviews podcast help? Well of course some heartfelt good lucks on this page or on the twitters would be wonderful, but of course what would help Marie Curie is if you’d be able to contribute on our Just Giving Page to help us towards our target of £1100.

Every penny you donate will make a difference so please, if you can help we would both really appreciate it, and if you can’t, that’s no problem, a good luck message will help with those hours in the saddle.

Thanks for letting me steal some space on my blog site to share this personal adventure and if you can help, that would be marvellous.

Right, where’s my bike!?

For more on Marie Curie and the amazing work they do visit mariecurie.org.uk

To find out more about the challenge visit the Prudential Ride London Event page.

If you can help us to support the charity financially then please visit our Just Giving Page.

Managing all of the clouds – Lauren Malhoit – Ep67

As the move to cloud continues we are starting to see a new development, with organisations no longer relying on a single cloud provider to deliver their key services, many now opting for multiple providers, from their own data centre to hyperscale big boys, multi-cloud environments are becoming the norm.

This multi-cloud environment makes perfect sense, the whole point of adopting cloud is to provide you with the flexibility to consume your data, infrastructure, applications and services from the best provider at any given time, which would be very difficult to do if we only had a single provider.

However, multi-cloud comes with a challenge, one rather well summed up at an event recently by the phrase “clouds are the new silo’s”. Our cloud providers are all very different in the way they build and operate their infrastructure and although when we take services from one provider we may well not notice or care, when we start to employ multiple vendors it can quickly become a problem.

How to avoid cloud silo’s is seemingly becoming a technology “holy grail” engaging many of the world’s biggest tech vendors.  This is only good news, as we move into a world where we want the freedom and flexibility to choose whichever “cloud” is the best fit for us at any given time, then will will only be able to do this if we overcome the challenge that comes with managing and operating across these multiple environments.

Taking on this challenge is the subject of this week’s podcast with my guest Lauren Malhoit of Juniper Networks and co-host of the excellent Tech Village Podcast.

Lauren recently sent me a document entitled “The Five Step Multi Cloud Migration Framework” It caught my attention as it discusses the multi-cloud challenge and provides some thoughts on how to address it and it is those ideas that form the basis for this week’s show..

We open the discussion by trying to define what multi-cloud is and why it’s important that we don’t assume that all businesses are already rushing headlong into self-driving, self-healing, multi-cloud worlds. We chat about how a strategy is more likely to be for helping a business start along this road, rather than managing something they already have.

We explore how multi-cloud doesn’t just mean Azure and AWS, but can equally apply to multiples of your own datacenters and infrastructure.

Lauren shares her view on the importance of automation, especially when we look at the need for consistency and how this is not just about consistent infrastructure, but also compliance, security and manageability.

We also ask the question, why bother? Do we really need a multi-cloud infrastructure? Does it really open up new ways for our organisation to operate?

We wrap up looking at the importance of being multi-vendor, multi-platform and open and how that openness cannot come with a cost of complexity.

Finally, we discuss some use cases for multi-cloud as well as taking on the challenge of people in our business and the importance of how a multi-cloud world shouldn’t be seen as a threat, but as an opportunity for career growth and development.

I hope you enjoy what I thought was a fascinating conversation about an increasingly pressing challenge.

To find out more about the work Juniper are doing in this space you can look out for forthcoming announcements at Juniper.net as well as check out some of the information published on their Github repo’s.

To find out more about the work Lauren is doing you can follow her on twitter @malhoit or her blog over at adaptingit.com

Also check out the fantastic Techvillage Podcast if you are interested in career development and finding out about the tech world of others in the IT community.

Juniper also have some great resources for learning about designing a multi cloud environment check out the original white paper that inspired this podcast The Five Step Multi Cloud Migration Framework and you’ll also find some great info in this post Get Your Data Center Ready for Multicloud

Until next time – thanks for listening

Wrapping up VeeamON – Michael Cade – Ep 66

A couple of weeks ago in Chicago Veeam had their annual tech conference VeeamON, it was one of my favourite shows from last year, unfortunately I couldn’t make it out this time but did catch up remotely and shared my thoughts on some of the strategic messages that where covered in a recent blog post looking at Veeam’s evolving data management strategy ( Getting your VeeamON!).

That strategic Veeam message is an interesting one and their shift from031318_0833_Availabilit2.jpg “backup” company to one focused on intelligent data management across multiple repositories is, in my opinion, exactly the right move to be making. With that in mind, I wanted to take a final look at some of those messages as well as some of the other interesting announcements from the show and that is exactly what we do on this week’s podcast, as I’m joined by recurring Tech Interviews guest, Michael Cade, Global Technologist at Veeam.

Michael, who not only attended the show but also delivered some great sessions, joins me to discuss a range of topics. We start by taking a look at Veeam’s last 12 months and how they’ve started to deliver a wider range of capabilities which builds on their virtual platform heritage with support for more traditional enterprise platforms.

Michael shares some of the thinking behind Veeam’s goal to deliver an availability platform to meet the demands of modern business data infrastructures, be they on-prem, in the cloud, SaaS or service provider based. We also look at how this platform needs to offer more than just the ability to “back stuff up”

We discuss the development of Veeam’s 5 pillars of intelligent data management, a key strategic announcement from the show and how this can be used as a maturity model against which you can compare your own progress to a more intelligent way of managing your data.

We look at the importance of automation in our future data strategies and how this is not only important technically, but also commercially as businesses need to deploy and deliver much more quickly than before.

We finish up by investigating the value of data labs and how crucial the ability to get more value from your backup data is becoming, be it to carry out test, dev, data analytics or a whole range of other tasks without impacting your production platforms or wasting the valuable resource in your backup data sets.

Finally, we take a look at some of the things we can expect from Veeam in the upcoming months.

You can catch up on the event keynote on Veeam’s YouTube channel https://youtu.be/ozNndY1v-8g

You can also find more information on the announcements on Veeam’s website here www.veeam.com/veeamon/announcements

If you’d like to catch up with thoughts from the Veeam Vanguard team, you can find a list of them on twitter – https://twitter.com/k00laidIT/lists/veeam-vanguards-2018

You can follow Michael on twitter @MichaelCade1 and on his excellent blog https://vzilla.co.uk/

Thanks for listening.