Changing Data Centres

Changing Data Centres

Traditional data centre’s are undergoing many revolutionary changes as we head to the 2020’s

Hybrid cloud infrastructures, hosted servers, virtualized servers, and new methods to save energy and reduce costs in the data centre create an ever-challenging array of decisions for today’s data centre managers

It’s no secret that traditional, on-premise data centres still rule enterprise IT. According to a recent TechRepublic CIO Jury, 100% of tech leaders still run on-premise data centres but, cloud is catching up in a big way.

According to Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends report, cloud spending continues to grow and it’s on track to catch up to traditional data centres spending. Citing IDC data, Meeker noted that cloud investments had grown over the past few years as traditional data centres spending shrank. If the trend continues, the two markets could eventually match one another in spending.

Spending increased in both private and public cloud, the report noted. In the public cloud market, the major players continued to dominate — Amazon Web Services (AWS) led the pack, followed by Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and IBM, in that order.


Cloud is leading to new innovation in infrastructure and the way enterprise IT gets work done. New software delivery models mean products are being delivered through the cloud, often with a subscription model. Experiences are becoming more personalized and products are becoming more intelligent as well, the report said.

Software as a Service (SaaS), especially, will see a big boost, with many organizations turning to the model. According to another report from BetterCloud, some 73% of organizations said more than 80% of their business services and applications will be SaaS by 2020.

The growth of the cloud at this rate creates new opportunities for business, Meeker’s report said, but it also creates new concerns. While data security is still the top concern, questions about compliance and lock-in fears are increasing dramatically, the report said.

However, the question about lock-in is a complex one. While enterprises desire the unique proprietary tools that the major vendors are building out, that same R&D could be making lock-in even worse, as TechRepublic writer Matt Asay has argued.

Still, cloud availability continues to go up, while the major vendors continues to drop their prices, making the cloud an even more attractive option for big business.

The 3 big takeaways for cloud services, as we see it:


  1. Data centres are still the norm in enterprise IT, but cloud spend could soon catch up, according to Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends report.
  2. Public and private cloud spending both increased, but concerns are shifting from security to compliance and lock-in, the report said.
  3. Cloud growth is also enabling innovations in edge computing, elastic databases, containers, and microservices, which are changing the way IT thinks about infrastructure.
By Conner Forrest (TechRepublic)

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

Data Centre Managed Services

Data Centre Managed Services

Five network security market trends that matter for Managed Services

It’s no secret that organisations of all sizes are changing the way they run their businesses.

The move toward a digital economy, combined with the need to be “always on,” means that anything that can save time and simplify workflows is in high demand. Now, more than ever, seamless delivery — whether it’s music, email or network security — is where opportunity lies. For channel partners, this opportunity translates into managed services. If you haven’t yet shifted your network security business to the revolution that is managed services, here are five trends that demonstrate why now is the time to make your move:-

1. Rise of the Virtual Data Centre

Traditional customer premises equipment (CPE) will come under increasing pressure as software transformation greatly reduces, and in some cases, eliminates the need for devices on site. In 2015, we saw the rise of the virtual data centre; in 2016 we are seeing its operationalisation in the enterprise come to fruition. Channel partners who set up their businesses to capitalise on this shift as part of their managed services strategy will see demand heat up. Whether you partner to make your virtual data centre happen, or invest in establishing one yourself, put it on your agenda for immediate consideration.

2. Avoid Lock-In

Make no mistake, technology “lock-ins” are stumbling blocks to your managed services success. Because change is constant, your customers are demanding flexibility, and they’re looking to you to help them remain agile to prepare for future industry shifts. The bottom line is that your customers want more openness and customisability, which means channel partners need to be even more selective with their partnerships, only aligning with vendors who enable them to offer best-in-class solutions and managed services that address the dynamic requirements of their clients.
In 2016 and beyond, channel partners who follow this trend, catering to customers with open solutions and services that are seamless, scalable and flexible to customers’ business needs, will hold the competitive edge.

3. Customisation Is Key

What we’re seeing in 2016 is that professional services and DevOps are taking a front seat for channel partners as customers look for turnkey solutions and the ability to customise their environments. Vendor innovation will always be key, but channel partners can also benefit from placing a high priority on innovation.
This is especially true as the channel competes with the technology giants of the world who already have a huge and growing stake in managed services. As a channel partner, your agility and the insight you possess from your customer relationships can empower you to deliver on-point, customised network security services—something that the larger players, who more commonly compete on commoditisation, simply cannot manage.
In 2016, your managed services offerings can and should be differentiated by the value add you deliver. Often, customisation is the value you can bring to the table to gain a foothold against larger players.

4. Be Automation Aware

Customers are looking to automation as the next cost reduction lever to eliminate legacy IT. As your clients’ most trusted advisor, the onus is on you to assess the automation capabilities that your vendors bring to the table—and the automation expertise that your in-house experts have to offer.
Make a checklist of how you can move automation to the forefront for your customers, delivering it as a powerful managed service that supports their goals. As you hold strategic quarterly or monthly client meetings, discuss how you can help your customers meet their software transformation milestones. Discovering ways to save time and costs should be a never-ending conversation.

5. Vertical Market Transformation

In 2015, we saw the adoption of SDN (software defined networking) and NFV (network function virtualization) grow in small- and medium-size enterprises. In 2016, the channel will continue its move to open, integrated and seamless stack solutions, making SDN and NFV solutions more accessible than ever before through pre-designed and tested solutions, purpose-made for vertical markets.

Don’t fall behind the adoption curve. Now is your opportunity to ride the wave and adapt your managed services playbook to these top network security market trends.

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

Interim Consulting Demand

Interim Consulting Demand

IT contractor demand at highest point for over a year

IT Consulting and Interim management skills are at the highest demand in more than a year now that post Brexit has kicked off.

Demand for freelance IT contractors rose to a 14-month high in March 2017, according to the REC national index. The demand has been fuelled by several factors, including a lengthy list of IT skills that appear to be in increasingly short supply within the salaried permanent workforce. Brexit uncertainty could also be working in freelancers’ favour as employers are more likely to engage freelancers for IT contract jobs on a limited timeframe rather than the lengthier commitment of hiring new permanent staff. Additionally, those already working in permanent positions could be unwilling to take a chance on jumping ship in such uncertain waters.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “Economic uncertainty about future prospects is having a detrimental effect on employees’ willingness to risk a career move at this time. “Many [employers] are [therefore] reporting an increasing number of white collar jobs as hard to fill, including within the IT and the financial sectors.”

[REC = Recruitment & Employment Confederation]

Contractors and those who are willing to change employers are reportedly reaping dividends as skills on the scarcer side are attracting premiums in the current climate. The skills most in demand can vary from one month or even one week to the next however, so when you actually secure a contract can have a major bearing on whether you also manage to secure premium rates.

Digital generalists, UX/UI experts, and those with experience in the gaming field were particularly scarce in February for example. In March a variety of different IT skills were at a premium, including Java developers, Dev Ops, IT security, software developers, software and embedded software engineers, Ruby software developers, and PHP software developers.

The REC said: “Our concern is that Brexit will make the problem worse, particularly if onerous restrictions are imposed on people coming from the EU to work.”

It is a problem for employers, but for IT contractors a lack of skills in the general workforce means more opportunities.
“Experience and knowledge/exposure to Business Transformation related programmes are on the increase too,” stated Craig Ashmole, Founding Director of Interim IT consulting firm CCServe Ltd. “There are some high profile programmes in the City of London that have increased over the last 12 months driving PMO or Portfolio Management”.

Source: Consulting Hub

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

Microsoft Azure Hybrid Cloud

Microsoft Azure Hybrid Cloud

Microsoft Azure launches 3 new tools to speed migration to hybrid cloud and optimize deployment

In a Microsoft blog post, the company detailed three new tools to aid in cloud adoption: Cloud Migration Assessment, Azure Hybrid Use Benefit, and Azure Site Recovery

Microsoft launched three new resources for the enterprise focused on getting companies to the cloud faster, and saving them money once they get there, the company announced in a blog post on Wednesday.

Most of the companies Microsoft executives work with are considering a hybrid cloud approach to their infrastructure, according to the post, written by Microsoft’s general manager of cloud platform marketing Mike Schutz. In order to best assist companies in understanding the size of their environment and how they can plan financially for a move to the cloud, Microsoft released three new tools focused on cloud migration and economics.

SEE: Build your own VM in the cloud with Microsoft Azure (Tech Pro Research)

Here’s a breakdown of the three new tools and what they can offer businesses.

  1. Free cloud migration assessment

This assessment will help customers more easily find and better understand their current server setups, to help them determine the cost and value of moving to the cloud, the post stated. Once the servers are discovered, the tool can analyze their configurations, and give the user a report of the potential cost drop of moving to Azure.

Additionally, data center administrators can export the results of the assessment into a customized report, the post said. For those looking to gain some extra funding for a cloud project, the report could provide some valuable data and statistics for your conversation with the CFO.

  1. Azure Hybrid Use Benefit

This tool is intended to save users money on their cloud deployments. According to the post, customers can activate the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit in the Azure Management Portal, which could save them up to 40% on their Windows server licenses, by optimizing what resources you’re using. The post noted that it is available on Windows Server virtual machines in Azure, to all customers.

“Use your on-premises Windows Server licenses that include Software Assurance to save big on Windows Server VMs in Azure,” the tool’s web page said. “By using your existing licenses, you pay the base compute rate and save up to 40 percent.”

  1. Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery is meant to ease the process of migrating virtual machines to Azure. Applications running on AWS, VMware, Hyper-V, or physical servers can be moved. Additionally, a new feature in Azure Site Recovery will “allow you to tag virtual machines within the Azure portal itself,” the post said. “This capability will make it easier than ever to migrate your Windows Server virtual machines.”

Other features include automated protection and replication of virtual machines, remote monitoring, custom recovery plans, recovery plan testing, and more.

By Conner Forrest a Senior Editor for TechRepublic
Picture from Microsoft

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

CISO moves to the top

CISO moves to the top

The CISO moves from the basement to the boardroom

A growing threat landscape has changed the role of the chief information security officer in the past decade. Here’s why this position and its evolution are vital in the modern enterprise.

“With the recent ransom virus affecting so many global businesses the executive boardroom stakeholders now have their attention”, stated Craig Ashmole, Founding Partner for London based Interim consulting firm CCServe. “Talking with a Security consultant colleague on the train the other day, he said that the insurance firm he’s engaged with did not feel the need for a CIO or CISO role until the resent infamous Ransom virus. That’s now all changed”

The rapidly expanding cybersecurity threat landscape has driven the chief information security officer (CISO) out of the basement and into the boardroom in many enterprises. While these tech professionals were traditionally seen as security enforcers, they have now clearly got the attention of the executive stakeholders and are taking a seat at the table as strategists helping the enterprise avoid cybercrime.

“The CISO’s role has changed from a pure technologist to understanding what the business is trying to do, and to make sure security is part of the business strategy, not an afterthought,” said Steve Martino, CISO and vice president of information security at Cisco. A 2016 Cisco study found that business leaders today believe that cybersecurity is a prime growth enabler, reinforcing the need for those in charge of security to increasingly think in business terms.

Cyber threats have changed dramatically in the past decade in terms of sophistication and volume, Martino said. That change has been driven by two factors: Organizations becoming more connected through the Internet of Things (IoT), and cybercriminals shifting from making political statements to cybercrime as a business.

This changing landscape and added responsibility means CISOs need to develop a new set of soft skills, including learning how to talk with a line of business leaders about risk, privacy, user experience, and balancing the trade-off of security with features.

“Five to ten years ago, the C-suite really didn’t have a relationship or a dialogue with the information security team or leader,” Martino said. “Today, we do. In order to be effective, you have to have this business context, and be able to have a business dialogue with many different functional leaders.”

That means understanding what the different parts of the business—finance, sales, marketing, etc.—prioritize, and be able to translate risk issues to their language.

“CISOs need to have that business knowledge and multi-lingual capability to be able to translate what you’re trying to get across in terms of risk to the business owner,” Martino said. “Both are required to be effective at the speed of business, and earn the respect and trust required.”

Developing new skills

Training is helpful for CISOs who have been called to report to the C-suite for the first time, said Gary Hayslip, an ISACA expert on cybersecurity, the former CISO for the City of San Diego, and the current CISO at Webroot. “It’s a different view of risk, and on the use of resources and costs,” he said. “You have to start really getting into the strategy of where the organization is going.”

Hayslip recommends finding another C-suite member who has reported to the board before, and partnering with them to learn how the board meetings typically proceed, and what the individual board members are like, what they look for as a group, and how they process information.

“If you’re a CISO dealing with the C-suite and it’s relatively new for you, don’t be scared—ask a mentor so you can start learning about what they look for, so you make sure when you do report to a board, the information you’re presenting is relevant to the discussion,” Hayslip said.

It’s key to remember that the CISO does not own the risk—the business does, said Forrester analyst Jeff Pollard. “CISOs are now transferring ownership of risks back to business units,” Pollard said. “Instead of the CISO possessing the power to stop the business in its tracks, they are advising and coaching business unit leaders on the risks and security ramifications of decisions but the business owns the risk and makes the decisions.”

Don’t be the barrier factor

Rather than becoming a barrier, this new model allows CISOs to work with, instead of against their colleagues, Pollard said. However, the CISO does need to be flexible, and understand that the security system in place must be resilient. “You’re going to take breaches,” Hayslip said. “There is no totally secure network. If you factor that in, you can start looking at where your risks are, how your teams are trained, and what policies are in place.”

If the CISO is overwhelmed with projects, it can be helpful to determine which departments you are serving, who the stakeholders are, and what is critical to them, Hayslip said. That will help you create a more narrow list of issues to tackle. It’s often wise to start with cyber hygiene, he added: If you have basic security policies and patch management, antivirus, and firewalls in place, updated, and managed, it builds a strong foundation for your organization’s cyber health.

CISOs also have an opportunity to redefine their role as a business strategist during the digital transformation, Pollard said. To prove their value, they should spend time mapping the firm’s technology touchpoints, foster security champions across the company, and get involved with customer-facing activities like product design and development, he added.

“We’re in this transition as an industry from being a technologist and a protector to being a business enabler,” Martino said. “In order to cross that chasm, the CISO has to earn a place at the table, by bringing business relevancy, and helping the business get to their goals faster.”

By Alison DeNisco  (TechRepublic)

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe