Securing Tomorrow: Navigating Cybersecurity in 2024 (Amidst the Rise of Generative AI)

AI & Cybersecurity in 2024

As we plunge deeper into the digital era, the evolution of technology continues to shape the landscape of cybersecurity. 2023 has been a landmark year for the uptake and integration of Artificial Intelligence into our business, lives and technologies. However, now it’s time to look at cybersecurity in 2024

2024 will mark a significant milestone. The widespread adoption of generative AI technologies propelling us into uncharted territories. Not only are we learning about how to use these technologies and leverage them to make our business more effective and our work lives that little bit easier, but at the same time we are trying to understand how this technology should be legislated, managed and secured. While these advancements bring unprecedented opportunities, they also usher in new challenges. Especially with the escalating risks posed by malicious actors utilising AI to launch smarter, more efficient cyber-attacks. In this article, we delve into the future of cybersecurity and explore crucial measures businesses should undertake to fortify their defences against AI-driven threats.

2023 has been a year of seismic change in the IT landscape. Most of this initial change has been driven in part by the wave of generative AI products that have come to the market. Starting with the introduction of ChatGPT from OpenAI and then the race to get GenAI into every business and every consumer as quickly as possible. This is not the only change that has dramatically affected the market but it is the starting point from which most of the other shifts have occurred.

Because of this, when looking at what 2024 looks like, we need to consider these rapid changes. We can’t just look at today’s landscape. We need to consider what is the risks of the following 12 months are going to look like

The Proliferation of Generative AI:

Generative AI technologies, fuelled by machine learning algorithms, have demonstrated remarkable capabilities in various domains, from content creation to problem-solving. However, with great power comes great responsibility (“Ben Parker – Spiderman (just before he dies [SPOLIERS]”), and in the realm of cybersecurity, the advent of generative AI presents a double-edged sword. While businesses and individuals can leverage GenAI to increase their productivity, remove manual tasks or understand complex situations, Cybercriminals are increasingly leveraging these technologies to automate and enhance the sophistication of their attacks.

AI Cybersecurity event

AI-Driven Threats: A New Frontier:

The integration of generative AI in cyber attacks introduces a new level of complexity and efficiency. AI-driven threats can adapt in real-time, learning from defensive measures and continuously evolving to exploit vulnerabilities. From intelligent phishing schemes to adaptive malware, businesses now face a formidable adversary that can circumvent traditional security protocols with unprecedented agility. This enables bad actors to push RaaS (Ransomware as a Service) and enable less skilled individuals to trigger and deploy increasingly complex attacks on businesses with little to no knowledge of what the attack does or how it is written.

So how do we move forward? As a business what should you be doing to protect yourselves, your staff and your business from the wave of GenAI that isn’t hear to help you out? I have collated Five steps that I called the Business Imperatives for Cybersecurity in 2024:

Investing in AI-Powered Defence Systems:

To counter the rising tide of AI-driven threats, businesses must invest in cutting-edge, AI-powered defence systems. These systems should not only detect known patterns but also employ advanced machine learning algorithms to identify anomalous behaviour indicative of potential attacks. Your £10 a year subscription to a nearly free Antivirus or Antimalware platform is no longer enough, the companies who are not innovating in this space and failing behind and they are doing so quickly. In 2024, EDR/XDR – Endpoint Detection and Response or (X)Extended Detection and Response are now a minimum, for nearly all businesses from SME/SMB to Blue Chip a managed SoC (Security Operations Centre) or Managed Detection and Response (MDR) service is a must. The level of protection on your client devices has never been more important especially as the edge of the network dissolves and users and businesses embrace remote working.

Continuous Training and Skill Development

The human element remains crucial in the fight against cyber threats. Regular training and skill development programs are imperative to equip cybersecurity teams with the knowledge and expertise needed to combat evolving AI-driven attacks effectively.

When looking at what we do moving forward we have to start with the human aspect of protection “The Human Firewall” as I like to call it. Training your end users has and always will be the most critical line of defence a business has. Now I have said this before and I will undoubtedly say it again in one of these articles or at a keynote. If you fail to train your end users to not only use the technology in front of them or understand the risks they pose as users to the data and information security of the business you will undoubtedly risk a catastrophic failure. Users are the most risky part of your business, they move, they are forgetful and they tend to be overly sharing even when you have specifically told them not to be. What we will need to do as we step into 2024 is train end users to understand the risks of AI, what it does/doesn’t/can/cannot do with data.

Once they understand this you will need to wrap true security awareness training around this. The training will need to be broad but also deep to ensure that users do not fall into the trap of not knowing the breadth of the risks but also don’t end up receiving such high-level input they never really understand how deep that rabbit hole can go.

microsoft intune

Zero-Trust Security Architecture

Adopting a zero-trust security architecture is paramount in the age of AI-driven threats. Rather than relying solely on perimeter defences, businesses should implement robust identity verification, continuous monitoring, and strict access controls to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access. We need to build systems, services and business with Zero Trust at the core. When my team is asked to work on a solution for a customer or migration to the cloud, this is where we begin the days of trusting the perimeter of the network to defend us are gone. We need robust Zero Trust across every system, platform and service. If you don’t have Zero Trust you have too much trust!

Collaboration and Information Sharing

Cybersecurity is a collective effort, and businesses should actively participate in information sharing and collaborative initiatives. At Planet IT, I make this a core of what we do with regular information-sharing sessions, events and webinars (including this blog!). Building a strong network of industry peers and sharing threat intelligence can enhance the collective ability to thwart sophisticated AI-driven attacks. If you don’t know where to start with this reach out to [email protected] and we will get you connected with like-minded individuals across the UK and EMEA and help you build your network of peers.

Regulatory Compliance and Ethical AI Usage

Beyond technological solutions, fostering a cybersecurity culture within an organisation is paramount. Employees should be educated about the potential risks associated with AI-driven threats and encouraged to adopt best practices, such as vigilant email scrutiny, regular password updates, and reporting suspicious activities promptly. This starts from the first day they join your business and should be a continued journey throughout their time with you. The days of training once worrying later are gone. We must be keeping our staff as up-to-date as we are, bringing the business with you is the hardest part of the battle with AI and Cyber Security in 2024.

As we stand on the precipice of a future dominated by generative AI, the importance of robust cybersecurity measures cannot be overstated. Businesses must proactively adapt to the evolving threat landscape by embracing advanced technologies, fostering a cybersecurity-conscious culture, and collaborating with the broader industry. By doing so, they can not only defend against the rising tide of AI-driven threats in 2024 but also pave the way for a more secure digital future. Just remember, AI is Amazing but if you fail to understand it, properly protect it or secure it then it’s a disaster waiting to happen!

If you want to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you with your security and understanding of AI then please call 01235 433900 or you can email [email protected] or if you would like to speak to me directly you can reach out to me via DM or at [email protected].

AI & Cybersecurity in 2024

 

How to create and implement a cloud strategy

How to Create and Implement a Cloud Strategy

Cloud-based solutions are helping organisations achieve greater agility, efficiency, and innovation, and even increasing end-user satisfaction. That said, moving to the cloud is not always just as simple as clicking a few boxes and pressing go. It can be a drawn-out or complex process. Any cloud migration strategy requires careful planning and execution to ensure a successful outcome and avoid the typical major pitfalls. 

In this article, we will explain what your cloud strategy should include, why you need one, and how to create and implement one for your organisation.  

We will also share some tips and best practices from our experience as a Microsoft Solutions Partner specialising in Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and cloud migration specialist. 

 

What is a cloud strategy? 

A cloud strategy is a concise viewpoint on the role of cloud computing in your organisation. It defines what you want to achieve with the cloud, how you will get there, and how you will measure your progress and results. 

A cloud strategy is different from a cloud implementation plan, which offers the “how” rather than the “what” and “why”. A cloud implementation plan details the specific steps, actions, and resources needed to execute your cloud strategy. 

You need a cloud strategy because it helps you: 

  • Align your cloud solutions with your business goals and user needs. 
  • Communicate your vision and direction to your stakeholders and partners. 
  • Identify and mitigate the potential challenges and risks of cloud adoption. 
  • Optimise your costs and benefits of using the cloud. 
  • Monitor and evaluate your performance and outcomes. 

Cloud Strategy

What if you don’t prepare for the cloud properly? 

Without a clear and coherent cloud strategy, you may end up with: 

  • A complex and expensive technology estate that does not meet your expectations or requirements. 
  • A lack of coordination and collaboration among your teams and departments 
  • A loss of control and visibility over your data and processes 
  • A reduced ability to respond to changing market conditions and customer demands. 

So, where do you start? 

If you have to ask that question, then you probably need a helping hand.  

Feel free to call one of our Cloud Specialist Architects to get the plan rolling. Call 01235 433900 or email [email protected] and ask about a Free Cloud Readiness Assessment.  

Azure AD is becoming Microsoft Entra ID

Microsoft Entra ID

You may not yet be too familiar with Microsoft Entra, but it’s about to become a much bigger part of your Microsoft environment.

Microsoft Azure AD, the cloud-based identity and access management solution that powers millions of organisations, is becoming Microsoft Entra ID.

This change reflects Microsoft’s vision to provide a unified and comprehensive identity platform that helps you secure your organization, empower your employees, and enable your digital transformation.

With Microsoft Entra ID, you can benefit from the latest innovations in identity protection, governance, and management, as well as seamless integration with Microsoft 365, Azure, and other cloud services.

ID Protection: Prevent account compromise with machine learning.

ID Protection helps you detect and stop identity attacks in real time. It uses advanced machine learning to identify sign-in anomalies and user behaviour that indicate a risk of compromise. For example, it can trigger a Conditional Access policy that requires strong authentication methods for accessing sensitive resources. This way, you can protect your accounts from phishing, malware, and other threats.

Azure AD is becoming Microsoft Entra ID

ID Dashboard: Monitor your identity security posture with insights and recommendations.

ID Dashboard shows you the impact of your identity protections, the most common attack patterns, and your organisation’s risk exposure. You can view metric cards and attack graphs that show risk origins, security posture over time, and types of current attacks. You can also get recommendations based on best practices and industry standards. With these insights, you can further investigate your security posture in other tools and applications.

ID Governance: Automate access governance with workflows and self-service.

ID Governance helps you ensure that only the right identities have the right access at the right time. It automates the employee identity lifecycle to reduce manual work for IT and increase employee productivity. It also provides machine learning-based insights about identities and app entitlements. You can use workflows and self-service to grant and revoke access to cloud and on-premises apps from any provider and custom-built apps hosted in the public cloud or on-premises. This way, you can comply with organizational and regulatory security requirements.

Apple Software – Critical WebKit Vulnerability: CVE-2023-37450

Apple Vulnerability

Apple has recently released a number of security advisories to address a zero-day vulnerability in Safari, iOS, iPadOS, and macOS Ventura. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability (being tracked as CVE-2023-37450) to achieve remote code execution. It has been reported that this vulnerability is being actively exploited, which means that attackers are currently using this security flaw to gain unauthorised access to systems, potentially leading to data theft, system damage, or other malicious activities. It is therefore imperative that you check and apply these patches as soon as possible.

Apple Rapid Security Response

Apple has rolled out a new protocol, termed Rapid Security Responses, to expedite the release of critical security enhancements in between regular software updates for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. This approach allows for a more immediate response to certain security issues such as this one. Upon the application of a Rapid Security Response, a letter is appended to the software version number, indicating that the update has been implemented.

Who and What is Affected?

The vulnerability affects all devices running: iOS, iPadOS, and macOS Ventura that have not been updated to the latest security patches. This includes iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers. The exploit could be triggered by a vulnerable browser processing specially crafted (malicious) web content, leading to remote code execution.

How Can Attackers Exploit This Vulnerability?

Attackers can exploit this vulnerability by creating a webpage or web content that includes malicious code designed to exploit the vulnerability in Apple WebKit. They then need to trick the victim into opening this malicious webpage. This could be done through a phishing email, a message, or by compromising a website that the victim trusts and visits often. Once the victim opens the malicious webpage on a vulnerable browser, the malicious code is executed.

 

What Could Happen If This Vulnerability Is Exploited?

With the ability to execute arbitrary code, an attacker could potentially gain control over the victim’s device. This could allow them to install malware, steal sensitive data, create backdoors for future access, and more. In essence, the attacker could gain the same access to the device as the user, leading to a significant breach of privacy and security.

How to Patch This Vulnerability?

Apple has addressed this issue with improved checks in their Rapid Security Response updates. The patches were initially released for macOS Ventura 13.4.1 (a), iOS 16.5.1 (a), iPadOS 16.5.1 (a), and Safari 16.5.2. However, due to a bug in Safari, some of the updates were pulled. Apple has since released new fixes to address this issue.

 

To patch this vulnerability, users should update their devices to the latest software versions:

iOS 16.5.1 (a) and iPadOS 16.5.1 (a), released on July 10, 2023.

iOS 16.5.1 (c) and iPadOS 16.5.1 (c), released on July 12, 2023.

macOS Ventura 13.4.1 (a), released on July 10, 2023.

To check for updates, go to the settings of your device, select ‘General’, and then ‘Software Update’. If an update is available, tap ‘Download and Install’.

Connect the Classroom: Funded Wi-Fi For Schools

Connect The Classroom, Government funding for schools

The Connect the Classroom scheme is a government-funded program that provides funding for schools in eligible areas to upgrade their wireless network infrastructure. This funding can be used to improve the speed, reliability, and coverage of a school’s Wi-Fi network.

Just some of the benefits of the Connect the Classroom scheme include:

Faster and more reliable internet access:

A faster and more reliable internet connection can help students to access online resources more quickly and easily, and can also help to reduce the number of dropped connections during online lessons.

Improved collaboration:

A better Wi-Fi network can make it easier for students to collaborate on projects, and can also help teachers to deliver lessons that require students to work together online.

Enhanced learning experiences:

A better Wi-Fi network can open up new possibilities for learning, such as the use of virtual reality and augmented reality.

Improved Security:

Install the latest, most robust Wi-Fi network allowing you to take advantage of the best security solutions.

How to use the Connect the Classroom scheme

A school must be located in an Education Investment Area to be eligible for the Connect the Classroom scheme. Schools can apply for funding by submitting a proposal to the Department for Education. The proposal should include information about the school’s current Wi-Fi network, planned improvements, and the benefits the school expects to achieve from the upgrade.

How do I know if my school is eligible?

You can talk to your Planet IT Account manager, and we will find out for you, but basically:

All state schools in Priority Education Investment Areas (EIAs) are eligible to apply for funding.

Priority EIAs are schools in:

Blackpool, Bradford, Derby, Doncaster, Fenlands and East Cambridgeshire, Halton, Hartlepool, Hastings, Ipswich, Knowsley, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire Coast, Norwich, Nottingham, Oldham, Portsmouth, Rochdale, Salford, Sandwell, Stoke-on-Trent, Tameside, Walsall, West Somerset.

Schools in other EIAs with an Ofsted rating below ‘Good’ are also eligible to apply for funding.

Other EIAs are:

Bedford, Bolton, Bury, Cambridgeshire, Central Bedfordshire, Cornwall, County Durham, Coventry, Darlington, Derbyshire, Dorset, Dudley, East Sussex, Isle of Wight, Kirklees, Leeds, Lincolnshire, Luton, Manchester, Norfolk, North Northamptonshire, North Somerset, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Peterborough, Plymouth, Rotherham, Sefton, Somerset, South Gloucestershire, South Tyneside, St. Helens, Suffolk, Sunderland, Swindon, Wakefield, Wirral.

Priority Education Investment Areas (EIAs)

Map & detail source, click here.

So, what do you do now?

The Connect the Classroom scheme is a valuable resource for schools that are looking to improve their Wi-Fi network, as essential for modern learning. The Planet IT Education Specialists can walk you through the process.

Here are the steps you can take now.

  1. Talk to your Planet IT Account Manager to start the process and check if your school is eligible.
  2. Discuss the best Wi-fi solution for your school.
  3. Secure your quote to include with your proposal to the Department for Education.
  4. Once approved, install the upgrades.
  5. Enjoy the benefits of a faster, more reliable Wi-Fi network!

 

The Cloud: Your Ticket To Growth Or Your Ticket To Extinction?

The Cloud: Your Ticket To Growth Or Your Ticket To Extinction?

The cloud is no longer the future of IT. It is the now of IT. Businesses that don’t embrace cloud computing are putting themselves at a serious disadvantage.

Here are just a few of the reasons why your business will be left behind if you don’t embrace the cloud:

  • You’ll be less competitive. Cloud-based businesses can be more agile and responsive to change. They can also scale up or down their resources as needed, which gives them a significant advantage over businesses that are still using on-premise solutions.
  • You’ll lose customers. Customers are increasingly demanding cloud-based services. If your business doesn’t offer these services, you’ll lose out on potential customers.
  • You’ll be more vulnerable to security threats. Cloud providers have a team of security experts who are constantly monitoring their systems for threats. On-premise solutions, on the other hand, are often more vulnerable to security breaches.
  • You’ll spend more money. Cloud computing can be more cost-effective than on-premise solutions, especially over time. This is because you only pay for the resources you use.

If you’re still not convinced, consider this: a recent study by McKinsey found that businesses that adopt cloud computing are more likely to grow their revenue by 20% than businesses that don’t.

So, what are you waiting for? Embrace the cloud and start reaping the benefits today.

Here are some specific examples of how businesses in the UK are being left behind by not embracing the cloud:

  • A medium-sized business in Swindon is struggling to compete with larger businesses that are using cloud-based marketing and sales tools.
  • A manufacturing company in Reading is losing customers because it can’t offer cloud-based customer service.
  • A financial services company in Oxford is at risk of a security breach because it is still using on-premise servers.

These are just a few examples of the many businesses in the UK that are being left behind by not embracing the cloud. If you don’t want to be one of them, then it’s time to start planning your move to the cloud today.

Don’t miss out on the benefits of cloud computing. Embrace the cloud and start growing your business today. Contact me directly if you have any questions – [email protected] or DM me on LinkedIn

Microsoft Azure vs OnPrem

Critical Vulnerability in Fortinet FortiGate Firewalls: Immediate Action Required

fortinet

A critical security flaw was identified on Sunday 11th June 2023 in Fortinet FortiGate firewalls that could potentially be exploited by threat actors to achieve remote code execution.

 

IMPORTANT UPDATE from Fortinet June 12th: https://www.fortiguard.com/psirt/FG-IR-23-097

 

Details

This vulnerability, formally tracked as CVE-2023-27997, is reachable pre-authentication, on every SSL VPN appliance. In simple terms, this means an attacker could potentially execute arbitrary code on the system even without needing valid credentials. It is important to note that the details of this vulnerability are currently not fully disclosed, but Fortinet is expected to provide more information in the coming days.

Impact

The flaw could allow a malicious actor to interfere via the VPN, even if Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is activated. This poses a significant threat as it could potentially allow unauthorised individuals to gain access to sensitive information, manipulate data, or disrupt services.

In recent years, vulnerabilities in Fortinet firewalls have become a lucrative attack vector for cybercriminals. If exploited, this could lead to severe consequences including data breaches, operational disruptions, and potential reputational damage.

Recommended Action

Fortinet has released patches to address this vulnerability in FortiGate versions 6.2.15, 6.4.13, 7.0.12, and 7.2.5. We strongly advise you to apply these patches immediately to mitigate any potential risks.

We understand that patch management can be complex and time-consuming. However, in this instance, the severity of the vulnerability makes prompt action essential.

It is essential that you act on this immediately. If you’re not sure what to do, or if you think you may already be a victim, call the Planet IT security team now: 01235 433900

 

URGENT ALERT: Papercut Vulnerabilities

PaperCut Vulnerability

Two vulnerability reports were recently made public regarding high/critical severity security issues in PaperCut MF/NG. (Latest update May 9th)

It has been observed that multiple threat actors including nation states are exploiting unpatched servers in the wild.

While initial attacks were targeting critical infrastructure (primarily in the US), current threat actor activity appears to be more opportunistic, affecting organisations across various sectors and geographies. We are aware that this has become a particular threat to the Education sector here in the UK.

The first vulnerability is a ‘Remote Code Execution vulnerability’.

This allows an unauthenticated attacker to get remote code execution on a PaperCut Application Server. This could be done remotely and without the need to log in.

papercut hack

The second vulnerability is a ‘User account data vulnerability’.

This allows an unauthenticated attacker to potentially pull information about a user stored within PaperCut MF or NG – including usernames, full names, email addresses, office/department info and any card numbers associated with the user. The attacker can also retrieve the hashed passwords for internal PaperCut-created users only (note that this does not include any password hashes for users sync’d from directory sources such as Microsoft 365 / Google Workspace / Active Directory and others). This could be done remotely and without the need to log in

As more threat actors begin to exploit these vulnerabilities in their attacks, organisations are strongly urged to prioritise applying the updates provided by PaperCut to reduce their attack surface:

URGENT | PaperCut MF/NG vulnerability bulletin (March 2023) | PaperCut

It is essential that you act on this immediately. If you’re not sure what to do, or if you think you may already be a victim, call the Planet IT security team now: 01235 433900

 

2022 – The Big Technology Winners & Losers

technology winners

As some of you might know, once December comes around, I sit down and take a lookahead at the at the technology that I believe will shape our year.

That article will be released the first week of January so watch this space…

Before that though, I always think it’s a bit of fun to look back at the last 12 months and see how right or wrong my predictions last year actually were.

In a change from previous years, 2022 technology landscape wasn’t as dominated by COVID-19. Instead, we were impacted by other unforeseen challenges such as the war in Ukraine, disaster mini-budgets and the loss of our head of state.

Because of this, some of our forecasts were slightly delayed, but overall, our predictions were pretty spot on. I won’t go into the detail again, but if you want to review our 2022 predictions, click here.

But now, using the powerful tool of hindsight, who exactly were the winners and losers of 2022?

 

Winners

 

Public Cloud

Once again, it has been a huge year for all things cloud technology. IaaS, SaaS, PaaS have, as predicted, accelerated to a new high, despite the critics in the market saying they are unaffordable.

Our customers have moved to the cloud in mass. The key for everyone has been looking at the workload and refining it to be cloud ready. If this is achieved, then workloads are streamlined, and the cloud is undoubtably a success.

The other interesting side effect of the success of public cloud is that the big server producers are all coming out with Hybrid cloud products. This is focused on keeping them in the game for a few more years, with products that allow easy workload migration to the cloud, cross scaling and targeted cloud leverage.

This will only continue in 2023, but my takeaway from it all is that the writing in now on the wall for the traditional server and storage world. HCI and owned equipment for servers is not far behind it.

cloud computing

 

Working From Home

The big companies of the world (mainly in finance) tried to tell us working from home was going to die off in 2022. Did they really believe people would flood back to the office?

This of course did not happen. WFH is here and it’s here to stay, with the focus for IT being on flexibility. The modern employee wants the chance to work where suits them. We are now able to tap into a globally connected market of extremely talented people who have previously been excluded from roles due to geographic location.

With Teams, Zoom, Slack and all the other tools at our fingertips, there is now no reason to not allow complete working flexibility and allow a better work life balance.

This is something that we at Planet IT have openly adopted. Without a doubt, this has seen an increase in people’s overall wellbeing and general approach to work has only gone from strength to strength.

Linux in the Mainstream

Stop right there! STOP!

Before all the IT people of the world lynch me and say “Linux has always been…..” or “Linux is the greatest operating system…..” I am in no way saying that Linux hasn’t been a very viable business operating system for the last 10 years.

Ubuntu as a distribution has been very user friendly and, for a while, even companies like Dell thought it was the future of the desktop consumer OS. Then ChromeOS came along and diverted their attention.

What I am saying is that in 2022, we saw the release of hardware running dedicated builds of Linux which are finally disrupting the market. One of these devices was the Valve Steam Deck, which was so popular this year that pre order took 11 months to fulfil.

However, the key for me is the story behind the hardware which is an operating system free from license costs. This overcomes some of the core challenges Linux has had in the past, compatibility. With this move and Apple’s move in opposite direction, 2023 looks set to be the year more business adopt the platform.

Let’s be honest, most cloud platforms are built around Linux anyway, so it only makes sense!

 

 

Losers

 

Private Datacenters

Déjà vu?

Last year, I said the coffin was ready and that we were about to hold the final goodbye for the private DC. I was pretty spot-on in fairness.

Even though a few hold outs tried to sell a revolutionary approach to private cloud, the final nail in the coffin was the energy crisis. Costs increased and private datacenters had to increase charges to customers. Meanwhile, AWS, Google and Microsoft simply swallowed most of the cost. This left most customers the choice between turning kit off or moving away.

There will always be a place for niche private datacenters for specific use cases, but for 95% of business’ the cloud is the future.

 

Meta

Having an extensional crisis about what the Metaverse is and what their products mean, Meta (previously Facebook) have struggled this year. Loosing revenue from adverts, losing ground to other platforms and heavily investing in Quest and the Metaverse which most people remain skeptical about anyway.

This shift has seen the company slip in its standing and become a bit of an outlier. This alongside a shift by Gen X and Y to TikTok and other faster social platforms is leaving Facebook and Instagram looking dated and doomed to be the next Bebo or MySpace (Sorry Tom!).

Many will say this is a good thing. The power in the hands of these super tech giants with everyone’s data makes governments and individuals nervous. So maybe a few of them shrinking may not upset too many.

P.S I won’t talk about Twitter in this section … because by the time you read anything I put about Twitter, Elon will have made huge changes, maybe renamed or deleted the platform and it will certainly be out of date! 🙂

SaaS Security

Surprised to see this in the technology loser section?

Security, is so important. It is even more important when you’re a company like Last Pass who recently suffered a data breach. They are the last in a long line of companies whose platforms have been compromised in 2022. Therefore, we cannot but think that maybe these big companies need to take platform or software security a little more seriously. This is a common trend and definitely hits my loser list because it shows how even the biggest companies can faulter.

Do better next year big tech, please!

 

The Lightning port

Why!!!??!

Its 2022! Why am I still talking about a micro connector that replaced a 30 pin USB 1 standard?

I will tell you why… because finally the EU has stood up to Apple and told them to get rid! 2022 will be the last year that a £1,400 device comes with a connector which cannot provide fast charging, cannot offer fast data transfer and is proprietary!

Long live USB C or well USB 3.2 or USB4 or Thunderbolt 3 or 4, whatever the standard, just use the same port for a couple of years. This will certainly allow me to cut down on the number of cables I hold onto!

lightening port

Conclusion

2022, like 2021, and 2020, was a year of change. Technology moves at a lightening pace (except, erm, the lightening port). We had some big winners, some little winners but overall, tech developments are moving quicker than ever. While Moore’s law may be starting to fail, the ability of technology companies to innovate is not.

Do you agree with our technology winners and losers list? What tech impressed you this year? Or what did you see crash and burn?

Comment on my post or DM me on LinkedIn, or email me directly on [email protected] if you would like to debate our choices or even talk about how the Planet experts can help you in 2023

 

Why the move to an OPEX budget model in education might be driving your business manager up the wall

Education OPEX Budget

For the longest time IT in education has been on a hamster wheel of improvements tied to the yearly capital bids cycle. IT managers rush to get improvement plans and strategy budgets in for their cut off, knowing all too well that 50%+ will be dropped before they even make it to governors. The other 50% won’t make it through the process.

This capital expense programme is built from the necessities of the past. IT infrastructure had typically been the second most expensive item on a schools books after the building itself. No school, college or academy in the past could afford to stretch it’s upgrades over the operational spend of the business unless they committed to long terms lease agreements or payment plans. While good intentioned, these plans often leave the organisation dragging upgrade cycles to 5 years plus rather than their natural 3 years.

With all the changes that 2020 and 2021 have brought, this model has to change, and the main reason for that is the cloud.

The Time For The Cloud Is Now

Now this is not some fantasy of a cloud lead future. This is the reality of a world leaving behind the need for a private datacentre or server room and pushing for the convenience, security and integrity of managed public cloud.

This however leaves a challenge for all of those who are in financial roles in educational establishments. The model of spend once, wait 5 years before investing again, will not and cannot continue to work. Modern IT is mostly based around the per month or per usage model. Think Microsoft 365 and Azure, one is based on your user count or usage count per month and the other is based on the real-world usage of the last 30 days.

 

education servers

But we used to spread the cost..?

Now on legacy, I will grant that you could have purchased Microsoft services on a campus agreement. However, that is asking you to look into your magic 8 ball and hope you guess the right amount of usage for the next 12 months and then pre purchase Azure credits to cover that. This is a massively inefficient approach and misses the key benefit of cloud services – flexibility.

In a real world example you would expect an educational providers usage on a cloud based IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) to look something like:
• September – December (Mild Usage)
• Jan – Mar (High Usage)
• April – July (Diminishing usage as students slowly drop off timetable)
• then late July – Aug (Very low usage)
Now if you are paying for this upfront you need to work out what your average monthly spend should be and then try and guess how much you need to cover this.

This just won’t work, you will either hit your campus agreement renewal needing to pay overages or hit the renewal with hundreds if not thousands of wasted pounds. With Monthly flexible billing you don’t have this issue, you get a bill for what you actually use, now if it’s a critical system you can reserve the instance and gain some savings, but you have the flexibility.

 

This is a new approach for us. How best to do it?

Back to the question in hand and how does your organisation cover these costs?
Well to start with, your business manager needs to change how IT is funded in the budget. Moving the value that would have been placed on an infrastructure refresh into operational spend. They then need to find a way to increase this pot by 5-15% a year to cover cost increases. Now there is still a need for the capital bid, but these should be used for laptops, switches and firewalls and not servers and server licensing. With this shift IT becomes less of a burden as the spend is predictable and you are not looking at £500k investments every 5 years, but instead £80k a year spend on cloud services.

education budget
I often get asked how we work with our education customers to move to the cloud and for me the approach is simple; it’s about understanding. So many business managers have endured years of the CAPEX process and are used to the funding model. What our job is as technical professionals is to illustrate the savings in cooling, powers, facilitates and security that a move to the operational model brings and then work from there to deliver the best experience for the organisation.

If you are an IT manager today about to enter capital bids season, then think like this; bid for the money for your big server replacement but don’t propose legacy equipment and designs. Engage with Planet IT and we can support you in submitting a CAPEX to OPEX bid a support your move to the cloud.

 

Need more help to get it right?

2022 will be the year that most businesses make a major jump to the cloud. Don’t allow your educational establishment to be left behind and looking for answers, we have successfully worked with a large number of educational providers over the last 18 years to modernise and improve their IT for the better, we can do that for you too.

If you want to talk to one of our educational team about how we can help you with your capital bids or moving to the cloud, then please call 01235 433900 or you can email [email protected] or if you would like to speak to me directly you can reach out to me via DM or at [email protected].

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