The rate of change in today’s IT landscape has led to an increase in the number of technologies, cloud initiatives, data creation, and security holes. These increases, in combination with limited resources, time, and expertise, have led many organizations in search of a trusted advisor to cut through all the noise. As a solutions integrator, we are constantly having discussions with organizations about what problems they are encountering. We polled our team to find out what these were, and four common problems emerged:
1. Infrastructure sprawl
Infrastructure sprawl occurs when organizations do not have a clear strategy or vision for their infrastructure. In implementing piecemeal solutions without cohesion, organizations end up with overly complex environments lacking connectivity and with an overwhelming number of technologies and risk areas.
This increasing number of technologies, applications, and services has put a lot of pressure on IT departments to streamline their sprawling environments. There are a number of ways to approach this common problem including virtualization, cloud, and managed services. One of our systems engineers recently highlighted one option for simplifying a sprawling environment in this blog on Network Functions Virtualization, which details how network functions such as routers, load balancers, firewalls, and VPN termination devices can be run on virtual machines and existing hardware.
A trusted solutions integrator can facilitate in the simplification of sprawling infrastructure by evaluating technologies and leading companies to new, innovative solutions or away from legacy approaches that may no longer offer long-term value to an organization. Conversely, they can also advise where new technologies may not be industry proven and risk-free legacy approaches are perhaps the best route. Integrators can also assist in highlighting the differentiations between vendors and ensure you select the best technology for your IT environment.
Infrastructure sprawl is a common problem for organizations today.
2. Data residency and security in the cloud
Cloud infrastructure hosting requirements can be an overwhelming task for organizations to navigate alone. With strict compliance rules varying from province to province, industry to industry, and organization to organization, clients are looking for clarity to ensure their company’s data and sensitive information is protected.
Another common concern companies have is security in a public cloud environment. Many organizations are looking at public cloud providers for the number of options and features offered including fast deployment and low cost. They are also weighing these benefits heavily against the surrounding security concerns. We previously discussed 6 tips for satisfying concerns on public cloud on our blog which acts as a guide to encryption, cloud security models, key management, role based access control (RBAC) and two factor authentication, web security, and patch management.
Public cloud is a viable option, but it requires careful planning. Trusted solutions integrators can help organizations with the planning and development of a security architecture upon which to safely build an application in the public cloud.
3. Exponential Data Creation
The exponential growth in the rate of data creation in a number of industries is presenting a massive challenge for organizations and requirements can be complex in any environment, regardless of size. Companies are faced with questions around what data should be backed up, archived, and recovered in the event of a data centre outage or other incident.
In many cases, client data is growing at a rate of up to 30% year over year. This results in 3x the amount of data to manage in less than 5 years, and that’s only if no major projects are being added, which is unlikely in a 5 year period. Much of this data is undefined or holds an unknown value to the business. In addition, traditional management budgets are remaining stagnant, if not dropping, and the desire to move the data to online media mediums, for example disk over tape, drives up the cost of data management strategies. This leads to an inability to rationalize the cost versus value of the data that is being stored by an organization.
One of our solution architects previously discussed the 6 recommendations for comprehensive data protection management on our blog which outlines a number of concepts and tools to assist organizations with managing end-user data. These include properly defining your data and recovery objectives, constant data discovery, secure recoverability, and testing. A trusted solutions integrator can assist with all these elements of data management by providing you with the appropriate management solutions required to optimize the security, performance, and control of the data.
4. Lack of in-house expertise for security
In our 2015 security study, The Cyber Security Readiness of Canadian Organizations, it was found that IT decision makers believe cyber crimes are increasing in frequency, sophistication, and severity. The majority of companies reported the primary challenge to winning the cyber security war was a lack of in-house expertise.
Up until recently, security has been implemented by organizations as an afterthought. In order to implement an effective security policy, it needs to be done proactively and become a part of the company’s culture. Each team member needs to be trained in all areas of security, not just perimeter security. This hasn’t been the case and it has translated into a lack of knowledge for most organizations. It is only when a security breach occurs that outside consultants are brought in.
Trusted advisors can help companies proactively win the cyber security war by understanding how to prepare for, defend against, and respond to security threats. Additionally, by outsourcing your security operations, specialists can provide the precise technical expertise required when unexpectedly challenged with cyber-attacks. These services include 24x7 monitoring to help organizations sift through the vast number of security events to stop attacks and strengthen your network defences.
Win the cyber security war by proactively learning how to prepare, defend, and respond against attacks.
Solutions integrators need to work to establish a trusted advisor relationship with their clients. This can be done by not only assisting with short-term projects, but establishing a long-term relationship to build a thorough groundwork through strategic planning, workflows, and processes to help move an organization into the role of a technological leader in their industry. In establishing this kind of relationship, solutions integrators will provide options that are aligned with your needs in order to limit the time spent in evaluation stages.
In addition to time savings, clients are looking for valuable education and training around new technologies and value propositions. This education can come in the variety of formats including lunch and learns, seminars, blog posts, and knowledge transfer.
With the accelerating rate of change in today’s IT landscape, clients are relying on a trusted advisor to provide resources, guidance, and training around their organization’s infrastructure, security, and cloud initiatives.