Remaining relevant in a changing world – Rick Vanover – Ep28

One of the biggest challenges we face in technology is constant change. Change is not bad of course, but it presents challenges, from upgrading operating systems and applications, to integrating the latest technology advancements, to responding to new business problems and opportunities.

But it is not only those implementing and managing technology who are affected.

Technology vendors are equally effected, the IT industry is full of stories of companies who had great technologies but have then been blindsided by a shift in the needs of their customer base, or a technology trend that they failed to anticipate.

It was with this in mind that I visited Veeam’s, VeeamON conference.

Veeam are a technology success story, a vendor who arrived into the already established data protection market and shifted how people looked at it. They recognised the impact virtualisation was having on how organisations of all types where deploying their infrastructures and how traditional protection technologies where failing to evolve to meet these new needs.

Veeam changed this and that is reflected in their tremendous success over the last 9 years, today they are a $600M+ company, with 100’s of thousands of customers. But the world is now changing for them also, as we start to move more workloads to the cloud, as we want more value from our data, as security starts to impact every technology design decision, and of course as we all live ever more digitally focussed lives, our needs from our systems are changing hugely.

How are Veeam going to react to that ?, what are they going to do to continue the success they’ve had and to remain relevant in the new world that much of their market is shifting into ?.

For this week’s podcast, I look at that very question and discuss Veeam’s future with Rick Vanover, Director of Technical Product Marketing & Evangelism, Rick is a well-known industry face and voice, and we had an excellent conversation looking at Veeam’s future aims.

We discuss their repositioning as an availability company, look at how Veeam are developing a range of solutions to give them an availability platform and how this platform will allow their customers to build a strategy, to not only protect their critical data assets, in a range of different data repositories, but will also allow them to move their data seamlessly between them.

We also take a look at some of the big announcements from the show and pick out our top new features.

In my opinion, Veeam’s strategic vision is a good one, the ability to provide organisations with the data protection they need regardless of data location and the ability to move data between those locations is important, but, as ever, remaining relevant will be dictated by their ability to execute that vision.

Hope you enjoy the show.

To find more about Veeam you can of course check out their website www.veeam.com and engage with them on twitter @veeam and if you want to catch up with Rick, he can also be found on twitter @RickVanover.

Over the next couple of weeks we will be looking more at availability and protection, as we talk with the wider technology community as well as industry analysts on how they see the evolving data market.

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Thin Clients, are they still a thing? – Tony Main – Ep27

The IT world is a funny place, we love a bit of innovation, sometimes it’s new and revolutionary, sometimes something whose time has come and sometimes, some just keep coming back and remaining relevant, but maybe relevant in new and different ways.

One such technology is the focus of this week’s podcast as I am joined by Tony Main of Italian thin client vendor Praim.

I’ll be honest, I was a little sceptical of how interesting talking about thin client tech would be, hence the title. Let’s face it we like our devices, we become attached to them, be it a smartphone, Mac, or like me, my Surface Pro, and when that device does everything I need and I have full freedom to connect to what I want from where I want with my flexible and portable device, what on earth would I want with a device the doesn’t do anything!

The more I thought about it, the more fascinated I was to speak with Tony to find out if, why and how thin client devices still have a place in a modern IT infrastructure.

We recorded this episode a couple of weeks ago, but coincidentally, thanks to the global news that is the WannaCrypt ransomware outbreak, this episode became quite timely as we touch on how thin client tech can be a key component in a data security plan.

Do thin clients have a place in modern IT, during this episode we explore that very topic.

But we start out looking at the history of thin client devices, from relatively dumb low power endpoints to the modern high powered, flexible thing we see today.

We look at how the modern technology shift to data mobility, ensuring our data doesn’t reside on any one device, plays very much to the strength of thin client.

Tony shares how the maturity in VDI technology is also changing how organisations view their desktop and application deployment methods making thin client a more attractive proposition.

We discuss how key data trends such as analytics and security, are things that sit well with a thin client model and Tony shares some use cases showing how people are adopting thin client. This includes how a move to mobility of experience, rather than device is also making thin client an interesting option.

We wrap up discussing how Praim are looking at the secure desktop market, taking what they know from thin clients and helping organisations repurpose desktops to extend their life, provide a better experience and deliver a more secure and manageable solution.

Are thin clients still a thing? – Have a listen to the show and then why not share your thoughts on twitter with me @techstringy or a leave a comment with the show notes.

Why not go and find out a bit more about Praim on their website here at https://www.praim.com

You can also follow Praim on twitter @PraimSrl

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Rise of the bots – Ian Finch – Ep26

Shouting at Siri, arguing with Alexa or cursing Cortana the idea of talking at technology, whether on your phone, laptop, tablet or even a specialist device like an Amazon Echo, is becoming increasingly commonplace and is only going to become more common.

The development of voice technology is just another example of the evolution of the human and computing interface. An interface long based around monitor, keyboard and mouse, but as smartphones have shown and latterly tools like the Amazon Echo, those interfaces are evolving, the idea we can now talk to a system to get the information we want, is beyond just a cool bit of tech, it is actually a hugely efficient way of us interacting with our IT systems.

The development of voice is not the only change however. Another of those developments is the topic of this week’s podcast, as I chat with Ian Finch of Mando Group about Chabot’s.

The conversation was inspired by an article we had seen posted on LinkedIn which talked about how the retail sector was increasingly using bot technology to provide a better customer experience.

In this episode we explore just that, but we don’t just focus on the technology, Ian points out that the value of bots is about what the technology enables and how bots are part of a much bigger focus. A focus on optimisation, allowing our systems to work better, providing our people with tools to be more effective or giving our customers help and support in working with us, whether it’s to buy a product or service an enquiry, an optimised system not only provides us with a business benefit, but also our customers with a much better experience.

Ian provides some brilliant examples of how bots are helping us to greatly improve some of the historically poor experiences we have as users of technology. We have a look at how bot technology is helping to solve the issues of the much maligned exhibition app, or how it is helping a utilities company make their site less “sticky” for their users who need help, because let’s face it, the last thing you need when you have a query is a website that wants to keep you hanging around for ever!

We also chat over a couple of great examples of business process automation and how taking time to look properly at our processes and find how smart uses of technology like bots is delivering significant business benefits, allowing business processes to be more accurate, better quality and a lot more profitable.

We started the chat discussing Mando Groups new offices, not only because they looked great, but also because their office design was a reflection of the discussion we had about optimisation, the entire office design to enable a more effective work environment, not only for their own staff, but to help their customers see just how optimisation can be hugely effective.

Ian provides some great insights, which I hope you find useful.

You can follow Ian on twitter @ianfinch

You can follow Mando Group @mandoagency

Or on their website here http://www.mando.agency/

You can of course find me here @techstringy

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At your data’s service – Dave Sobel – Ep 24

I think we all accept that as individuals, businesses and organisations, the way we see our data is changing, more than ever we see it as an asset and like any asset we see it as something to treat carefully, ensuring it is stored properly, secured, protected and of course something we are getting value from.

A big part of this shift is driven by the technology industry itself, tools, technologies and services are now available that allow us to use our data in ways that previously we had not been able to.

However, it is not just that these technologies exist that is driving this change, but it is how much more readily available these tools and services now are and this is mainly due to a new breed of service providers.

This is the focus of this week’s podcast, as I’m Joined by Dave Sobel, Sr. Director of Community and Field Marketing at SolarWinds MSP.

Dave has a wide experience in the technology industry, having both operated his own service provider and now with the provider of a global platform used by service providers and end users around the world.

In this episode, we talk about how the way we use our data is changing and how this is driving not only great new opportunities for business, but also creating a new breed of service providers and platforms to support new and inventive ways for us to make the very most from our data assets.

We talk about the evolution of what we think of as a computer from mine and Dave’s shared Commodore 64 experience to modern voice interfaces and how this evolution is changing how we collect and use data. But even with this change, we look at how the data and the information is the only thing that matters, that those devices are no longer that important to us.

We also discuss how the technology conversation in organisations is changing, how today technology decisions are not just with IT, but with application and service owners who are asking how to gain more insight from the data they collect and how technology can drive success in their parts of an organisation.

Finally, we look at security, how the complex security challenge is also driving a new breed of services and the things that you should consider before you take a new service into your organisation.

Dave also shared the difference between security advice from non-experts and those that truly understand the threat, summed up brilliantly in the graphic below.

I think Dave provides a great insight into the changing data market and the part that service providers play in allowing us to do the very best with our valuable data assets.

I hope you enjoyed it.

If you want to follow Dave online you can find him on twitter @djdaveet

His company SolarWinds MSP can be found here

You can of course contact me in all the usual places.

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Weaving a data fabric – Mark Carlton – Ep 23

Regular readers of my blog are probably familiar with the idea of the NetApp data fabric.

This fabric defines NetApp’s strategic direction for data management. How to plan, develop and deploy a solution suitable for a modern organisations data needs, not only the needs for today but also those for the mid and long term.

What I like about this data fabric approach is that it allows us to move away from thinking about “traditional” storage deployments, that you may associate with a vendor like NetApp, or It’s well known competitors’ like Dell-EMC, HPE, IBM and even the new kids like Pure, and to have a much broader data management conversation that encompasses cloud, analytics, software defined, security and privacy.

By shifting this focus, NetApp have been smart, but importantly for us as consumers of storage, they have allowed us to be smart as well, by focussing on the data and not on where it’s housed or the technology it lives on.

Recently a friend of mine from the NetApp A-Team, Mark Carlton, Mark Carltonwrote an excellent blog post “Top 4 questions about the value of the NetApp data fabric” in which he discussed the practicalities of this strategy, looking at its component parts, as well as some great examples of customer deployment.

It was such a good article, I thought I’d ask him onto this weeks Tech Interviews, so we could discuss in more detail his take on and experience of this data fabric strategy.

We not only discuss NetApp’s implementation of this, but also, and maybe more importantly, how the fabric has grown beyond a NetApp centric view and how 3rd party tools from the likes of Varonis, Veritas and Veeam are integrated into this fabric to enhance it further, making your data management solution more insightful, more complete.

Enjoy the conversation with Mark and then ask yourself, are you planning a data fabric strategy that allows you to meet your businesses ever changing needs? Because in the end, it’s all about the data!

If you want to follow up with either myself or Mark on this episode, you can find Mark on twitter @mcarlton1983 or of course me @techstringy

Don’t forget you can read Marks’ excellent blog post here “Top 4 questions about the value of the NetApp data fabric”

If you want more data fabric musings, then I wrote this piece about data fabric a little while a go, Data Fabric – What is it good for?

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Availability as part of digital transformation – Michael Cade – Ep 22

There is no doubt that the world we live and work in is changing, in our personal lives we expect an always on experience and ever more digital interaction with the world. Let’s face it, who doesn’t get frustrated by having to type in 4 digit pins down the local shop, instead of been able to just touch the terminal with your card, phone or watch.

This is not just in our consumer lives. In our work lives expectation is the same, not only in the way we expect to work with technology, but also in the way our businesses expect to operate, that doesn’t matter if that’s how we interact with our customers and suppliers, or the way in which we design our supporting IT systems, it’s important to realise in all of these instances we can not and do not tolerate downtime.

But what does that mean, what does that mean to us as either IT professionals, or those trying to navigate their organisations through the trials and tribulations of our journey to a more digital way of working.

That’s the subject of this week’s podcast, as I’m joined by Veeam’s Michael Cade to discuss how this move to a more digital world is impacting the way we must treat our technology.

Michael has been talking to me for some time regarding the importance of system availability, as our businesses evolve and become more digitally driven, so I thought it was time to get him on the show to discuss why availability is so important and what we need to consider.

In this episode, we discuss exactly what we mean by digital transformation, how this is driving our reliance on communications and technology and the problems not been able to access them bring, not just to consumers, but to our organisations and the impact that has on customers and our ability to do business.

Although “backup” may not be the “sexiest” of technology trends, the importance of system availability is as critical today as it ever has been, possibly even more critical as we become increasingly dependent on our ability to access technology.

For more information on the topics Michael covered you can check out the following resources;

Science Museum Our Lives In Data

The Veeam Technical Blog Page

The Veeam Executive Blog

IDC Digital Transformation Whitepaper

And you can follow Michael on twitter @michaelcade1

Or his blog at vzilla.co.uk

If you enjoyed the show, then why not subscribe you can find us in all good homes of podcast. Thanks for listening

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The Future is Bright, The Future is Data – Matt Watts – Ep 21

The idea that our data is critical to the future of our organisation isn’t a new one, the focus around managing it, protecting and securing it underlines its importance to any modern organisation.

But protecting our data and ensuring we maintain its privacy and security is not the only important focus we should have.

You don’t need to look around the technology industry too much to hear phrases such as “data is the new gold” or “data is the new oil”, but like any good marketing phrase, it is based on a degree of fact.

As marketing-y as those phrases are, it would be wrong to dismiss them. The image I chose for this blog post suggests, “if the future is digital, the guy with the most data wins”,  However, I think that phrase is only partly correct.

It is certain that the modern organisation is becoming increasingly digital, transforming into one that is relying on data and digital workflows for its success, however when it comes to data, it’s not how much data you have, it’s what you do with it and learn from it that will determine who really wins.

That’s the focus of this week’s podcast as I’m joined by NetApp’s Director, Technology and Strategy, Matt Watts.

Matt is in an interesting position, working for one of the world’s largest “traditional” storage vendors and charged with helping them to develop a strategy for dealing with challenges faced by organisations in a world where “traditional” storage is seen as something less valuable.

Maybe to the surprise of many, Matt agrees, while NetApp have great products, they fully accept that the future isn’t about IOPS, Capacities and flashing lights. All that really matters is the data.

In this episode, Matt provides fascinating insights into the modern data world, how extracting valuable information from data is a significant advantage to an organisation, how 3rd party companies working with storage vendors is critical to the future of data management and how companies like Microsoft, Amazon and IBM with Watson are commoditising machine learning and artificial intelligence to a point where, organisations of all sizes, can take advantage of these very smart tools to give them insights and understanding that just a few years ago was out of the reach for all but the very wealthiest of companies.

We also look at how building an appropriate data management strategy is crucial in enabling organisations to access tools that can allow them to take full advantage of their data asset.

Have a listen, Matt provides some great information to help you to get the maximum from your data and be the person not with “the most data” but the one with “the most information from their data” that wins.

Enjoy the show.

To find out more from Matt you can find him on twitter @mtjwatts or follow his blog at watts-innovating.com (check out the article “Your Supermarket knows more about you than your Doctor) and to find out more about NetApp’s own data management strategies check out the “Data Fabric” section of their website.

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