Striving for 100Gbps: The Move to Modernise IT Networking

100 gbps it infrastructure

The pulse of any business lies within its IT network infrastructure. Businesses voyage through the digital terrain, searching for swifter and more dependable connectivity. Consequently, transitioning from 1 Gigabit to 10, 25, and 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps) is crucial for backbone networks. 

The demand for bandwidth continues to skyrocket due to data-intensive applications, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). Traditional networks, constrained by their limited capacity, require assistance to match this exponential surge.  

Subsequently, high-speed backbone networks, operating at velocities of 10, 25, and even 100 Gbps, became essential lifelines for seamless digital connectivity among devices, applications and users. 

Whether streaming high-definition content, conducting real-time analytics, or supporting pivotal operations, the need for velocity has never been more critical.  

The Imperative of Modernisation  

Modernising IT network infrastructure is not merely about staying abreast of current trends; it’s about safeguarding the future of your enterprise. Primarily because outdated technology and insufficient bandwidth in legacy systems impede progress and growth. By embracing 10, 25, and 100 Gbps backbone networks, businesses can unleash the full potential of their digital ecosystems. 

Fuelling Productivity and Efficiency  

Firstly, a vital advantage of a contemporary network lies in its capacity to boost productivity and efficiency. With accelerated data transfer speeds, employees can access information instantaneously, collaborate seamlessly and execute tasks briskly. This enhanced agility augments operational efficiency and empowers teams to respond swiftly to market dynamics and customer demands.  

The Emergence of Power over Ethernet (PoE++)  

Concurrently, with the shift towards high-speed networks, there’s been a surge in demand for Power over Ethernet (PoE) solutions. PoE technology powers networked devices like IP cameras and wireless access points via Ethernet cables.

The advent of PoE++ (IEEE 802.3bt), capable of delivering up to 100 watts of power per port, heralds a new epoch of connectivity wherein devices are not solely interconnected but also powered via the network infrastructure. This convergence of power and data streamlines deployment, reduces costs, and lays the groundwork for a scalable network ecosystem. 

 

IT network, high speed 100gbps

The Cost of Inaction  

While the merits of modernising IT network infrastructure are abundantly clear, the consequences of inertia can be dire. Organisations that neglect to invest in high-speed backbone networks risk lagging in the digital race. Outmoded systems are susceptible to outages and hardware failures and suffer from performance bottlenecks that can stymie innovation and impede competitiveness.  

Furthermore, in an era where downtime translates to financial losses and reputational damage, the potential toll of network failures can be staggering. From disrupted operations to tarnished brand image, the repercussions of a faltering network extend far beyond mere inconvenience, underscoring the urgency of proactive investment in IT infrastructure.  

In Summary  

The significance of modernising IT network infrastructure cannot be overstated. As enterprises navigate the complexities of the digital age, the necessity for high-speed backbone networks has become indispensable. By embracing 10, 25, and 100 Gbps networks, harnessing the potential of PoE++ and proactively investing in modern infrastructure, organisations can chart a course towards a connected future characterised by agility, efficiency, and innovation.  

If you are reviewing your Network, then feel free to reach out to one of our experts at 01235 433900 or via email at [email protected], who will be able to help you understand how proper network design takes place. Alternatively, you can contact me directly via DM or at [email protected]. 

Read more… The Crucial Role of WI-FI Design

Abstract image of WI-WI Network

The Crucial Role of WIFI Design

Abstract image of WI-WI Network

Connectivity is the lifeblood of business operations and the importance of a robust WI-FI network in business environments cannot be overstated. From facilitating seamless communication to supporting critical business applications, a well-designed WI-FI infrastructure is essential for ensuring productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

However, achieving optimal WI-FI performance requires more than just installing a few access points haphazardly throughout the office space. I have seen my fair share of this over my time auditing sites. It demands careful planning, strategic placement and meticulous configuration. A lack of structured planning can indeed lead to pitfalls. It’s essential to approach the process methodically to ensure optimal performance and security.

The Pitfalls of Poor WI-FI Design

Deploying or upgrading WI-FI networking without proper design considerations can lead to many issues that impede productivity and frustrate users. Here are some common pitfalls associated with inadequate WI-FI design:

Dead Zones and Coverage Gaps:

With proper planning, specific areas within the office may be able to handle better coverage, leading to dead zones where employees struggle to connect or experience slow speeds. Likewise, these coverage gaps can hinder mobility and limit the flexibility of workspace utilisation. Modern devices make this even worse, as they are super sensitive to poor WI-FI signals or need help with roaming when the signal is not maintained.

Interference and Congestion:

In environments with multiple WI-FI networks and other wireless devices and electronic equipment, interference and congestion can degrade signal quality and throughput. This interference can result in unreliable connections, dropped packets, and sluggish performance, especially during peak usage hours.

Security Vulnerabilities:

A poorly designed WI-FI network may inadvertently expose sensitive corporate data to security risks. Weak encryption, inadequate access controls, and misconfigured settings can create vulnerabilities. This can pose significant security risks including cyber-attacks.

Scalability Challenges:

As the organisation evolves, an inadequately designed WI-FI infrastructure may struggle to scale effectively to accommodate increasing users and devices. This can lead to bandwidth limitations, network congestion, and degraded performance over time.

What is SASE?

The Benefits of Proper WI-FI Design

On the other hand, investing resources into proper WI-FI design yields a multitude of benefits that enhance the user experience and support business objectives. The Benefits of Proper WI-FI include:

Optimised Coverage and Performance:

WI-FI designers can determine the access points’ ideal placement and configuration by conducting a thorough site survey to ensure comprehensive coverage and optimal performance. This minimises dead zones, reduces signal interference, and delivers consistent connectivity across all areas. Planning for both coverage and density is key.

Coverage refers to the area where Wi-Fi signals are available. It’s essential to provide adequate coverage throughout the facility. Likewise, consider the physical layout, including walls, floors, and obstacles. Adjust access point (AP) placement to minimise dead zone. Finally, think about “high-traffic areas” such as conference rooms and lobbies that require strong coverage to accommodate users.

Density relates to the number of devices connecting to an AP. High-density areas need careful planning to ensure that the deployed technology meets the end user’s needs in that location. For instance, Conference Rooms require high density during meetings but may be empty at other times. Whereas, open workspaces need high-density coverage due to the numerous users.

Improved Reliability and Stability:

A well-designed WI-FI network employs advanced techniques such as channel optimisation, band steering, and roaming assistance to mitigate interference and maintain stable connections. This enhances reliability and ensures seamless roaming for users moving between different office areas.

Enhanced Security and Compliance:

Proper WI-FI design incorporates robust security measures, including strong encryption protocols, authentication mechanisms, and access controls, to protect against unauthorised access and mitigate security threats. By adhering to industry best practices and compliance standards, organisations can safeguard sensitive data and mitigate the risk of data breaches.

Scalability and Futureproofing:

A scalable WI-FI design anticipates future growth and technological advancements, allowing the network to expand seamlessly to accommodate evolving business needs. Organisations can future-proof their WI-FI networks and avoid costly redesigns or upgrades by implementing scalable architecture and infrastructure components.

A reliable and high-performance WI-FI network is essential for driving productivity, collaboration, and innovation in today’s digital workplace. Organisations can mitigate the risks associated with poor connectivity and deliver an exceptional user experience to employees, clients, and partners by prioritising proper WI-FI design during deployment or upgrade initiatives. From optimising coverage and performance to enhancing security and scalability, the benefits of investing in proper WI-FI design are clear: a connected workforce empowered to thrive in the digital age.

If you are reviewing your Network and Wireless, then feel free to reach out to one of our experts at 01235 433900 or via email at [email protected], who will be able to help you understand how proper WI-FI design takes place. Alternatively, you can contact me directly via DM or at [email protected].

Read More…

WormGPT

The Top 5 Reasons Cloud Migrations Fail

Abstract image of cloud migrations fail

The notion that public cloud costs are exorbitant and prompting a mass return to on-premises solutions is a prevalent topic in cloud migration discussions. Yet, this assertion doesn’t align with reality. Contrary to the narrative, AWS and Microsoft have observed substantial increases in their subscriber bases over the past year. 

The driving force behind these claims often stems from particular interest groups. Hardware vendors and private data centre owners, keen on safeguarding their market share and relevance, may be behind this narrative.

In the digital age, the appeal of the public cloud is indisputable. It presents scalability, flexibility, and efficiency, fundamentally reshaping organisational operations. Nevertheless, many businesses need help with their cloud adoption journey despite its potential, leading to frustration and setbacks. From insufficient planning to cost mismanagement, there are numerous challenges organisations must navigate when venturing into the public cloud. 

 Common Challenges in Cloud Migrations

1. Inadequate Planning:

Rushing into cloud adoption without a coherent strategy often results in chaos and inefficiency. Organisations must assess their existing infrastructure, understand their business needs, and outline their objectives before migrating to the cloud. Please do so to avoid disjointed deployments, incompatible systems, and heightened complexity.

2. Insufficient Security Measures:

Security remains a top concern for organisations contemplating cloud adoption. Overlooking or underestimating the importance of robust security measures can leave sensitive data vulnerable to breaches and cyber threats. While public cloud providers offer various security features, organisations must implement additional layers of security, such as encryption, access controls, and regular audits, to mitigate risks effectively. 

3. Poor Cost Management:

Effective cost management is often overlooked during the transition to the public cloud. While cloud computing promises cost savings through pay-as-you-go models, it also introduces the risk of overspending. With adequate monitoring and optimisation strategies, cloud costs can stay manageable. Factors like resource overprovisioning, idle instances, and governance lapses can significantly inflate the cloud bill. Organisations must implement robust cost management practices to avoid cost overruns, including usage monitoring, resource optimisation, and leveraging cost optimisation tools.

4. Vendor Lock-In:

Vendor lock-in poses a significant concern for organisations relying heavily on a single cloud provider. This dependency can restrict flexibility and impede innovation. Additionally, rapid advancements in cloud technologies may leave organisations locked into outdated or incompatible systems. Organisations should consider adopting a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud approach to mitigate vendor lock-in risks, allowing them to leverage services from multiple providers and avoid reliance on any single vendor.

Pharma and Life Sciences IT Support Your Trusted IT Partner for the Pharmaceuticals, Clinical Research organizations, Biotechnology and Medical Device companies

5. Skills Gap:

Successful cloud adoption necessitates skilled personnel proficient in cloud technologies and best practices. However, many organisations need help to recruit or train personnel with the requisite expertise, leading to difficulties in managing and optimising cloud infrastructure. Inadequate expertise can result in costly mistakes, performance issues, and underutilisation of cloud resources. Investing in training and development initiatives for existing staff or collaborating with experienced cloud service providers can help address this challenge.

Summary

In conclusion, while the public cloud presents numerous advantages, organisations must approach cloud adoption with meticulous planning, robust security measures, and effective cost management. By addressing common pitfalls such as inadequate planning, security lapses, and cost mismanagement, organisations can fully harness the potential of the cloud to drive innovation and growth.

For personalised guidance on transitioning your business to the public cloud, contact one of our experts at 01235 433900 or via email at [email protected]. Alternatively, you can contact me directly via DM or at [email protected].

Read more… Microsoft Azure 

image with Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop logo

Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop to Modernise and Revolutionise Your UX

In today’s fast-paced digital world, delivering a seamless user experience remains a top priority for IT Managers. The surge in remote work, BYOD and multi-device policies have increased the demand for efficient and secure virtual desktop solutions. This demand is a direct consequence of the shift toward a decentralised workforce. Enter Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) by Microsoft—an innovative cloud-based service. It revolutionises how organisations manage their desktop infrastructure and applications. By removing the complexities and challenges associated with legacy products. With a cloud-first approach, Microsoft assumes the responsibilities, leaving you to get on with your job!

 

Azure Virtual Desktop To Revolutionise Your UX

Gone are the days of grappling with the complexities of on-premises desktop management, or battling Remote Desktops, XenApp/ XenDesktop.

AVD brings forth a new era where desktops and applications are hosted in the cloud. This enables the users to enjoy a consistent and personalised experience from any location or device. Whether corporate-owned or a personal device, this centralised approach simplifies administration and offers scalability and flexibility to suit business demands.

Flexibility: AVD empowers users to access their desktops and apps remotely, fostering collaboration and productivity. Each user gets the same experience regardless of the device. This means that you can push applications and experiences to users on devices previously excluded from accessing your system, i.e., Apple iPads and Chromebooks.

Performance: Leveraging the robust infrastructure of Microsoft Azure, AVD ensures high-speed access to applications, regardless of the workload demands. This means you are leaning on one of the biggest providers in the cloud space.

Security: With features like Azure Active Directory integration and multi-factor authentication, AVD strengthens data protection, mitigating security risks associated with endpoint devices.

Management Simplicity: IT managers can centrally manage and deploy virtual desktops through the Azure portal, streamlining administrative tasks and reducing overhead. Leveraging tools like Nerdio to wrap around your AVD deployment can simplify this.

Cost Optimisation: By adopting a pay-as-you-go model, organisations can eliminate upfront hardware investments and optimise resource utilisation, resulting in long-term cost savings.

Real-World Applications Azure Virtual Desktop for UX

Across various sectors and organisations are leveraging AVD to transform their user experience:

Education: AVD facilitates seamless access to educational resources, enhancing the learning experience for students and faculty alike. If your education provider is looking for a BYOD, this is a great way to remove the hardware dependence on the process.

Healthcare: Healthcare providers rely on AVD to ensure secure access to patient records and critical applications, even in remote settings. Using Zero Clients from 10Zig, you can access the desktop experience quickly and securely, and it indeed follows users around.

Finance: Banks and financial institutions use AVD to enable remote work while maintaining compliance with industry regulations. Challenges around compliance and regulation have often been a barrier to progress, but not with Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop leveraging the secure framework Microsoft Azure is built on and the protection of AVD, you can truly drop the legacy systems.

Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop

 

Best Practices for AVD Implementation

To ensure a successful AVD deployment, you should look to adhere to these best practices:

Assessment and Planning: Conduct a thorough assessment of infrastructure and user needs to design a tailored deployment strategy. Planet IT can help with this through our Free assessment of your DaaS solution and asses how to get you ready for the cloud.

Pilot Testing: Evaluate AVD performance and compatibility through a pilot program before full-scale deployment. This is best done with around 5% of your workforce, which includes users from across the spectrum of skills, roles, and use cases.

Security Measures: Implement robust security protocols to safeguard sensitive data and ensure compliance with regulations. Working with our team, we can understand your needs and translate them to Microsoft’s compliance and protection.

User Training: Provide comprehensive training and support to help users adapt to the new virtual desktop environment. This can be done via workshops, 1 to 1 sessions, training videos, and so much more. With a team of experienced trainers, we can help you maximise the experience and get all users ready to work.

Continuous Improvement: Monitor performance metrics and user feedback to optimise the AVD environment over time. This is critical with all aspects of Azure, and even more so when you are looking to make the most of Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop.

To Conclude

Azure Virtual Desktop offers a compelling solution for organisations seeking to modernise their desktop infrastructure and enhance user experience. By embracing AVD and following best practices, you can unlock new opportunities for innovation and productivity while ensuring a secure computing environment for your workforce.

If you want to talk to our experts about how we can help your business review its environment and plan to move to the cloud. To find Out how Azure Virtual Desktop could make all the difference, please call 01235 433900 or email [email protected]. If you want to speak to me directly, you can contact me via DM or at [email protected].

 

Read More…

Cloud Security Posture Management

Cloud Security Posture Management

Cloud security posture management (CSPM) is both a practice and a technology designed to detect and prevent the misconfigurations and threats that lead to sensitive data breaches and compliance violations.

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

 

WEBINAR RECAP: Ransomware in the real world. Is your IT Department ready to be attacked?

Ransomware in the real world

Last week, we hosted a Webinar to ask businesses if their IT department is really ready for a ransomware attack.

Over 50% of businesses will be victim of Ransomware in 2022, and the average bill to rectify an attack, considering downtime, people time, device cost, network cost, lost opportunity, ransom paid, and more… will be over £1.3m!

Did you miss it? Or would you like to watch it again? Well, the good news is that we recorded it and you can check it out here:

 

Your Questions, Answered.

A sign of a good webinar is the quality of the questions asked at the end. We had too many questions to be able to answer them all in the time allowed so James and Kosta have answered anything we didn’t have time for during the session.

Remember, if you you would like to find out more about Sophos MTR, have any questions around cybersecurity or need advice for your IT team, please reach out to James directly, [email protected], or call one of the team 01235 433900

 

What about false positives within Powershell and ps1 files, repositories like PSGet, NuGet etc – these constantly get flagged in our org with Defender Endpoint!

We would suggest if these are trusted internal tools they should be excluded from Scanning based on their HASH values or path. If these are dynamic libraries then in Sophos central we would create a policy for staff allowed to use these system tools and restrict all other user access to these tools.

 

How much Sophos will be responsible in case of a Ransomware attack?

If your business only has the Sophos Endpoint products, firewalls or email products in the case of an attack Sophos will provide remote support but hold no responsibility as the configuration and management of the platform is the responsibility of the business. However if the MTR service is in use then the business does have a level of protection from Sophos and the remediation services are covered under your contract.

 

How do we get the board to take cybersecurity seriously? We’ve covered the basics in terms of controls, but anytime I try to increase budget to add additional controls – it gets pushed back.

The best option to get senior management / board to take ownership of cyber security and cyber insurance is to use the scare factor of examples like our cyber victim where all senior management, directors and the board where removed from their posts under gross negligence as part of the work that took place to recover the business. Many of these have struggled to get new roles following the merger of the business because of the legacy association with such a large scale failure.

Michael Davey

What are the biggest cybersecurity threats right now?

The biggest threat remains ransomware and this continues to appear in different forms and flavours but ultimately the goal remains the same and that is to disrupt system usage.

 

Am I spending enough, appropriately on information security-related tools and controls? (Is there a network security or information security tool I should buy?)

There is no golden figure for how much to spend on protection but what you need to do is take a risk based assessment on what protection you have in place and make sure you are covering the full stack and have a solution in place for every risk in the system.

 

Not convinced that cyber insurance provides any real cover

Cyber Insurance is only going to work for you and your business if you have the right tools in place to protect the business in the first place as with car insurance they wont pay out if you are negligent , it is up to you and your business to make sure you have the correct protection in place.

 

Who would you recommend in terms of cyber security insurance providers?

We don’t directly recommend providers.

Cybersecurity health check

If you have someone in your team who is a disgruntled Employee and may be leaving the company and they leave a logic bomb on your network without you knowing it would Cyber Security Insurance cover this or would it then be void as its happened within your own team? What would be the legal response to this?

This is a very loaded question. In most cases, Cybersecurity Insurance will protect against this provided you have all other requirements in place. If however this disgruntled employee was part of your security team, that may raise questions around your employee vetting process and you may need to lean on your employee terms and conditions, specifically your computer misuse act should you need to follow up with legal proceedings.

 

Is the standard Sophos Endpoint not enough either?

We would recommend Sophos Intercept X as a minimum for protection in 2022.

 

Are there any courses that you would recommend for Cyber Security specialisation?

We would recommend you look at CISSP and then anything linked to business solutions you have in place.

 

Are the MTR team UK based?

Sophos MTR is a global follow the sun team. There is a UK team as part of this but to enable truly 24/7 support this is covered by a global team.

 

How do we get the board to take cybersecurity seriously? We’ve covered the basics in terms of controls, but anytime I try to increase budget to add additional controls – it gets pushed back.

The best option to get senior management / board to take ownership of cyber security and cyber insurance is to use the scare factor of examples like our cyber victim where all senior management, directors and the board where removed from their posts under gross negligence as part of the work that took place to recover the business. Many of these have struggled to get new roles following the merger of the business because of the legacy association with such a large scale failure

 

For us, the major deficiency we see today is not with attacks via known end points or servers but the chances of unknown devices being attached to our networks. This is an area which I feel very few companies or vendors are addressing well and cost effectively so I’d love to know if this is an area you guys both Planet and Sophos are investigating/investing in?

There are a number of NAC product’s that have surfaced over the years to try and fill this gap. What we are seeing the the solution for most business now is to terminate all VLAN’s on the firewall and use the synchronised security aspects of the Sophos XGS firewall to remove unwanted network traffic in controlled sectors, with only trusted devices being able to route traffic.

 

Is webinar recorded?

Yes, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/qLPPw4kndy4

 

 

The tech that should shape your business in 2022

technology trends

All the way back in January 2021, I wrote an article about what technology trends would shape your business in 2021. Looking back on those predictions, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that for many of our customers these technologies certainly did just that. If the pandemic continues to rear its ugly head some of what I said last year will still echo very true this year. You can read that article HERE.

However, the show must go on. For 2022 I am looking forward to what the new normal has become and how the technology we leverage every day can and must adapt to fit this need. Alongside this, I am exploring the tools, advancements and innovations that will change the way your business operates.

I always want to take these opportunities at the start of the year, to introduce or to develop your understanding of the technology trends we as a leading IT provider are seeing coming over the horizon. Ultimately these are what your business should and will be looking into and adopting to keep your business is safe, secure and able to compete in today’s busy market.

 

Cloud Services

Here we go again… Another year, another year of the cloud. I may have said this last year, and for that matter the last 2 years before that. Cloud Services, be that in the form of IaaS (Infrastructure as a service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) or SaaS (Software as a service), will change your business in 2022 regardless of if you want to let it.

The reason I say this is because we are no longer in an IT landscape where as a consumer you can choose how to run many of the platforms or software your business uses. Your ERP or MIS, most of these platforms are or have completely moved to SaaS or PaaS offering in 2022.

Take Sage for example, the development of this product as nearly completely killed-off on premise or as a standalone. The focus is on the delivery of the cloud hosted version. That may be with Sage directly or one of their key partners.

cloud technology trends

The bad news for IT managers who are cloud adverse or cloud sceptical?

Now is time to change your mind and move with the industry or risk getting left behind with systems and solutions that will only age and cause you greater issues down the road.

Continuing on the vain on SaaS, Microsoft continue to also drive services across to Microsoft 365 in favour of the cloud hosted, forever updated version of their tools vs the previous on premise products, I’m looking at your Endpoint Manager (Intune). This product is going from strength to strength. However it is doing so off the back of SCCM and ultimately galvanising the features from this well-established platform but developing them on Microsoft’s Cloud service. This leaves the on premise version to simply hook into the cloud and co-exist rather than get any substantial upgrades itself.

With businesses that implemented cloud services in 2020 and 2021, they saw an decrease in running costs of up to 50% and an increase in uptime and productivity up to 99.99%. This makes the cloud space one that from a CFO point of view cannot be ignored and from the position of the wider business can only make day to day IT services better.

If you take anything from this about Cloud service, let it be this; They are here to stay. They are the key focus for all software vendors and it’s a case of be onboard or be left behind.

 

A New World for Back-Up and DR

Building off of what I have said above about Cloud Services, the world of back-up and Disaster Recovery is also dramatically changing. This is twofold; you no longer have all your data sat locally on servers, storage and systems, which a local back up can collect and protect. Also, the fact that now, if your data is in a public cloud provider with a 99.99999% uptime guarantee, are you really going to move this data from them to a private datacentre or back to on-premise?

This change is making many businesses have to rip up their back up and DR strategies. For many IT Managers, Business Owners and Businesses, this is causing some hard conversations.

My take on the situation is simple.. Look at what you have now and where your business will be at the end of 2022. If your data is mostly moving to PaaS and SaaS solutions then you need to ensure that as data is moved that each of these providers or systems has a solid separate back up in place. Now for a platform like Microsoft Azure this does not need to be off platform but it needs to be in a different location. So with Azure we would look at Geo Redundancy or even multi-Geo Redundancy leveraging the technologies and services of Microsoft to back up your data to their other datacentres across the globe. If the system is 3rd party hosted like Sage, which I mentioned above, then you need a tool and a location which is away from this provider to store your data. For this I would always recommend looking at AWS, GCP or Microsoft Azure as the level of protection and guarantees you get from these providers is 10 fold that of a private or local storage solution.

If we look at wider IaaS and Infrastructure backup solutions and DR these also need to change. The first thing I will say on this is that tape back up’s are going the way of the dinosaur. (To be honest they should have gone a few years ago). While the logic of having a removable magnetic tape sounds like the right decision for all businesses. In the past few years we have seen that these devices don’t hold up in a DR situation and if they do, they are often too slow to react.

The best solution a business in 2022 can implement is to have an immutable back up in place. This is based on technology and tools that allow for near instant recovery. As we have seen time and time again businesses cannot support multi-hour or day outages in a disaster. Traditional back up technologies and techniques are beginning to leave business’s vulnerable to large periods of downtime in a true disaster situation.

If you are thinking about how your business should be protected in 2022, why not reach out to the team and we can talk you through in detail the cloud era back up approach to support your business.

human firewall

The Human Firewall

I said it last year and I will say it every year until I go blue in the face! We need to invest as much time into training our staff to ensure they can be safe and secure when using the systems and solutions that as a business we expect them to use. That is why in 2022 The Human Firewall continues to be one of the key areas of development we believe all business should be investing heavily into.

By this we mean training your staff to know what is safe and is not safe in the digital world and how to prevent risks to the business.

Now with this there has never been a one size fits all approach. There is however a logical approach which will prevent your business being open to risks that exist on your doorstep. We can teach our staff in 2022 to stop, deal with and report these problems. By doing this, then we increase the ability of a business to be robust and secure and remove the guesswork from the technology we need to ensure a business is safe. This coupled with MFA massively reduces the risk of account credentials being compromised.

For me as we enter 2022, the Year of the Human Firewall (2021) continues and I am now campaigning for the decade of the Human Firewall! So please go and train your staff and protect your business!

 

Silicone…. Oh Silicone

For some reason I have left the doom and gloom to last, but it has to be said that what ultimately will shape many businesses in 2022 is the continuing silicone and chip shortages. We are now 2 years into this problem and it is not getting better. We have all felt it. Consumer devices like the PS5 and Xbox Series X which where like gold dust for another Christmas. Servers and Laptops which are still being delayed by months at a time. We will all continue to feel the pain while the chip making industry rushes to fix the supply and demand issue.

As a cautionary tale for 2022, if your organisation is looking at a large refresh or even a big project this year which is time critical, think and act early when it comes to device purchasing.

We have seen wireless access points being delayed by 365 days from certain vendors in 2021. If your new office space or move is critical then this could cause you serious issues. Alongside this you have to think that every business will be in the same boat in 2022 so don’t be the one who gets caught out by lead times. I would also say don’t hold your breath for a new car any time soon as it seems the motor industry, with its love hate relationship with technology providers, has finally realised it’s not good to be at the bottom of the queue!

 

To stay ahead of the trend…

In conclusion 2022, like 2021 and 2020 before it is going to be a very different year to the 10’s that proceeded it. Cyber criminals and the threat landscape changing everyday, new vulnerabilities and risks appearing on a daily basis, for systems which are integrated in all of our lives and with potentially dramatic effect. However as business owners, technical professionals or employees we need to switch our approach and ensure we are using these changes to make our business ready for this continually changing landscape as we move forward. Think forward, think ahead and don’t get caught out by 2022 as I believe it will be a huge year for IT change.

 

If you want to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you in 2022 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 LinkedIn or at [email protected].

2021 – The Big Technology Winners & Losers

2021 Best and Worst Technology

Just over a year ago, I sat down to write a technology review of 2020. We had just seen the single biggest transformation that had happened to global businesses in the last 20 years!

The digital acceleration forced upon businesses as COVID-19 hit and government lockdowns continued changed the way that businesses needed to operate. Those who had failed to invest in their IT systems very quickly came unstuck. Businesses looked at their IT teams and demanded their systems be brought up to date.

(If you missed it, you can still read last year’s article HERE)

Entering 2021, I knew it was going to be the year of the cloud, and it very much has proven to be. The global silicone shortages impacting chip production alone assured this. For many business the only choice has to been to go to public cloud and leave the traditional on-premise infrastructure behind. Because of this, and what has turned into a challenging year for different, but somewhat the same reasons as 2020, here is my list of the 2021 winners and losers…

Winners

 

Public Cloud

Both Microsoft and Amazon have this year continued to gather businesses in their ever growing datacenters. This proves that business are finally coming around to the fact that some things can be done better if you let the industry giants do it. I have long believed the future was public cloud. 2020 proved this point with 2021 then accelerating this at a rate that was far beyond anything we thought possible. Business who were steadfast against the cloud removed barriers to get into Microsoft, Amazons and Google’s systems.

Public cloud will in my option continue to be one of the biggest drivers in 2022, with many businesses having an approach of either on-premise with hybrid cloud or full public cloud in 2022. The focus on compliance and data security by the big three continues to make private cloud a challenge to uptake for many businesses as they struggle to complete with the tools and level of protection that Amazon, Microsoft and Google can invest in. Just remember, when moving to Public Cloud that it is a shared responsibility model!!!

Public Cloud

 

Intel

What a difference a year can make! 12 months ago Intel was a shell of its former glory and was looking like a Marvel hero at the end of Infinity War (*Spoolers the hero’s don’t do well in that movie).

With the desktop processor being stuck on an architecture which AMD and Apple had long since surpassed limited to core counts and feeling like it could be a tough 2021 for big blue. Well this all changed with the return of a titan in Pat Gelsinger, after his stint with VMware. Pat returned to put Intel back on the path that he had started them on some 8 years before and successfully accelerated the new chip design out the door.

Dubbed “Alder Lake” the new Intel desktop processor line-up moves away from the traditional design to mirror that of Apple with E and P Cores (Efficiency and Performance). The focus being that E cores can use less power and thus make your laptop battery run for longer. The P cores can be activated to drive the system forward when it needs to complete some heavy compute tasks. These processors were released under the 12-Generation banner and have received praise from across the technology landscape. Windows 11 has specifically taking advantage of the core design and then have shown an experience well above that of the AMD processor with their all power core design.

This has been a good year for Intel and with Pat back in charge, I think we are likely to see them continue to battle Team Red for years to come.

 

Microsoft Windows 11

Windows 10 will be the last operating system you ever need, said Microsoft in 2015.

Well, 6 years later we are all upgrading to Windows 11, a very well thought-out and great overhaul of the Windows operating system. We now have some of the best features of MacOS and Linux with the trusted platform of Windows 10 providing its core.

I am a massive advocate of Windows 11, even if the naming convention is getting a little stupid (but then they could have called it Windows 21 then we all would have been in a much worse place).

In my review of Windows 11 I warned that early upgrades for business can be risky and that Windows 11 offers some challenges. Well I am glad to say, 3 months on my daily driver still remains on Windows 11 and my home device has even been given the upgrade with no real issues to speak off.

I think Microsoft have placed Windows 11 in a great position to be the operating system for businesses and home users in 2022. Hopefully by the later part of 2022 most devices will have moved from Windows 10 and we will finally see the death of Windows 7 (well, a man can dream right?)

windows 11 launch

Losers

 

Private Datacenters

On the exact reverse of the rise of public cloud we continue to see the need for private data center hosting reduce.

Many businesses are asking the question; “what can you do better that AWS, GCP or Azure?”. In the past, this difference was a clear winning feature for private cloud, however as time moves on the realisation that what are ultimately smaller players in the hosting market aren’t able to compete with the uptime, security, financial protection and costs that public cloud offers.

While I still strongly believe there are use cases for private cloud, I think the salesman’s arguments of it being “safer” than the public cloud have all been proven to be subjective and businesses should ultimately choose the best solution for them.

Apple

Second year in a row for Apple in this category, and no it’s not Apple Hate!

Apple have been hit pretty hard this year by two factors: the chip shortages and then a lack of interest in the products in a year where many people upgraded midterm.

2020 has seen Apple’s shares drop quite heavily against the backdrop of a lack of device production and thus device sales. Hopefully for Apple this gives them a kick to invent something new or dramatically different in 2022. As the company that coined the phrase “Think Different” it’s about time they did exactly that.

Apple macbook

Onsite Infrastructure

The downturn of on premise infrastructure continued in 2021 with devices being hard to source due to the chip shortage. Add this to the move to the cloud and we can easily see the onsite infrastructure requirement drop down to a new low. However, we expect this to come back with a vengeance in 2022 as kit becomes available and business adjust to a hybrid approach.

Unfortunately for on premise infrastructure this is being held back considerably by the global supply issues and less so by peoples want for the technology.

 

There has been many more winners this year, with business firing on all cylinders in 2021. However, we have also seen that this year some of the losers have taken a much bigger hit than expected.

I think the major take away for 2022 is that the IT landscape was changed by 2020 in a major way. The needs and wants of business have adjusted and now, as IT professionals, we need to fit around the needs of 2022 and onwards and stop looking to legacy for the solutions.

Whatever 2022 brings I am excited to be at the forefront of matching our customers to the latest and greatest technical solutions.

Virtual Roundtable Recap: Facing and Overcoming IT Challenges In Education

Education IT Event

This week, our panel of special guests came together for an educational virtual round table event. Our panellists discussed the challenges they have faced in their education provider and how as IT professionals, they overcame these challenges.

We also opened the floor up to our selected guests so that the panel could try to help them with their challenges.

Our panel included:

David Higgs, Security and Service Experience Centre Lead at Imperial College London

Mike Pearce, ICT Network Manager at St. Cuthbert’s Roman Catholic Academy Trust

Graham Rivers, ICT Network Manager Moulsford Prep School

James Dell, Head of Technical Architecture and Education specialist at Planet IT

 

Discussion Points included:

  • The challenges encountered when delivering IT solutions to their organisation
  • How our guests overcame these challenges and turned them into successes
  • New trends & technologies critical for educational IT in the next 12 months
  • The ever increasing threat of cyber attack
  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
  • Hiring and building a team on a budget

 

Did you miss it? Or would you like to watch it again? Well, the good news is that we recorded it and you can check it out here:

Remember, if you you have any questions or challenges that you dafe in your Education IT career, then please reach out to James Dell and he would be more than happy to talk you through the solutions he found to any similar obstacles. Call 01235 433900 or email [email protected]

 

Backup Webinar Recap: The Uncomfortable Truths

Backup webinar recap

This week, we hosted a Live Webinar based all around the Uncomfortable Truths about your Backups.

Our resident Backup guru, Michael Davey was joined by Arcserve expert, Steve Butterfield and between them they covered

✅ Microsoft 365 data protection

✅ Immutable storage & Ransomware Protection

✅ How are you storing your data & the 3-2-1 rule

✅ Scaling your infrastructure with Backup & DR

✅ How to combat storage creep

 

Did you miss it? Or would you like to watch it again? Well, the good news is that we recorded it and you can check it out here:

Your Questions, Answered.

We received lots of questions throughout the webinar. Unfortunately we weren’t able to answer them all during the live session so we have compiled them all and asked Michael and Steve to answer them again.

Remember, if you you would like to find out more about backup in general or speak about your own backups specifically, get in reach out to your Planet IT account manager, call 01235 433900 or email [email protected]

 

Would cycled tapes not be immutable being out of the drive most of the time?

Tape and especially WORM tape were the original air-gapped / immutable storage

While out of the drive then tapes are largely immutable outside of extremes involving strong magnets, But you do have to put them in the libraries to use them which brings two issues,

1. They are available to be overwritten while in the library.

2. They require manual intervention to remove/replace.

However, definitely a big improvement over no airgap.

 

What is the licensing model? Is it based upon per user for 365 and per source TB for onsite storage?

Universal licensing which runs on your own hardware or VM covers all data sources including O365 and so is

licensed per TB of protected data, no limits on retention and can be any mix of Physical machines, Virtual machines and O365

Per user licensing is also available and may be of interest if you are adding it to existing Arcserve licensing.

Per user or per TB licensing is available from our cloud (SAS Offering )subject to a max of 100 users per TB for capacity based licensing )

 

The reason people do Full backups is because incremental backups all depend on the previous ones , isn’t that a disaster waiting to happen with incremental forever ?

Our Incrementals act and restore like Full backups, they do not depend on any other incremental backup therefore one “Broken” incremental affects neither the incremental before or after it.

 

What is the most common security breach you see that can also impact backups?

I think Michael answered this but a stat for you from Sophos “The state of Ransomware 2021”

37% of the 5400 respondents surveyed were hit by Ransomware in the last year

Ransomware is still the major threat

 

 

A pretty bold statement was made “Completely Ransomware Safe” Can you back this claim with something factual?

Like Unsinkable ships, Completely ransomware safe is conditional on the type of attack i.e. Nothing is completely safe if Physical access is allowed for instance , however we believe that our Ransomware capability is the strongest and most complete in the industry and we are the only backup vendor to offer a Money Back Guarantee.

For 0365 backup only do we need an onsite appliance?

You have choice, You can purchase Arcserve UDP and have it protect O365 in the following ways

  1. An Appliance running on Prem or in hosted Colo
  2. Software running on your own hardware, VM or in your own public or private cloud instance
  3. Software as a service running from our Cloud based from our Datacentre in Manchester or AWS in London ( Other Geo’s are available )

While On-Prem may seem an odd choice to some for a cloud based service, do remember the 3-2-1 rule and the fact that even in the event of an Internet or Azure outage you could still access your data locally. The main thing is it is held elsewhere so we would always caution against any service backing up O365 which is hosted in Azure

 

 

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