Solutions Blog

Why Companies are Turning to Mobility Managed Solutions (MMS)

By Richard Arneson

If mobility isn’t one of the most used words of the past ten (10) years, it’s got to be a close second. And mobility is no longer just about using Smart phones or tablets to purchase Christmas presents and avoid trips to the shopping mall. Mobility is transforming the way businesses operate, how their employees collaborate, and, ultimately, how it can generate more revenue. With the rapidly increasing implementation of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), companies need to ensure that connectivity is fast, reliable and provides seamless, highly secure connectivity. And with the Internet of Things (IoT), companies can now offer customers immediate value and utilize advanced data analytics to better understand buyers’ tendencies and purchasing behaviors.

With so much at stake, it’s critical that companies carefully develop a mobility strategy that helps employees optimize their time and ultimately deliver bottom line results. Following are some of the many reasons why companies are turning to MMS providers to ensure they’ll get the most out of their mobility solutions.

Skillsets

Counting on your existing IT staff to have the necessary skillsets in place to create, then implement, a mobility strategy could end up costing your organization considerable time and money. Having them attempt to ramp up their mobility education is fine, but it lacks one key component―experience. You wouldn’t have a surgeon with no prior hands-on experience operate on you or a loved one. Why do the same with your company’s mobility strategy?

Resources

Lack of experience goes hand-in-hand with poor time management. In other words, the less experience, the longer it will take. And pulling existing IT staff off other important key initiatives could mean putting projects on hold, if not cancelling them altogether. And the time it takes to remediate events that have occurred due to the lack of empirical knowledge will only exacerbate the issue.

Security

With the ever-increasing demands for mobility solutions and applications, ensuring that company data is critically protected can’t be overlooked or handled piecemeal. Doing so will leave you in reactive, not proactive, security mode. Mobile security is being enhanced and improved on a regular basis, but without the needed expertise on staff, those security enhancements could fall on deaf ears. Also, an experienced Mobility Managed Solutions provider can help you set needed security policies and guidelines.

Maximizing Employee Productivity

One of the key reasons companies develop and enhance mobility solutions is to help ensure employee productivity is maximized. Not conducting fact-finding interviews with different departments to understand their existing and evolving demands will mean your mobility strategy is only partially baked. And trying to retro-fit solutions to address overlooked elements will result in additional time and unnecessary costs.

Monitoring

Mobility solutions aren’t a set-it-and-forget-it proposition. They must be managed, monitored and optimized on a regular basis. Updates need to maintained and administered. And as with any new technology roll-out, there will be confusion and consternation, so technical support needs to be prepped and ready before trouble tickets start rolling in.

Best Practices

There are a number of best practices that must be considered when developing and implementing mobility solutions. Are you in a heavily-regulated industry and, if so, does it adhere to industry-related mandates? Have mobile form factors and operating systems been taken into consideration? Will roll-out be conducted all at once or in a phased approach? If phased, have departmental needs been analyzed and prioritized? Have contingency plans been developed in the event roll-out doesn’t perfectly follow the script you’ve written?

Costs

Lacking the mobility experience and skillsets on staff could mean unnecessary costs are incurred. In fact, studies have shown that companies utilizing a MMS provider can save anywhere from 30 to 45% per device.

Experienced Expertise

Each of the aforementioned regarding mobility solutions are critically important, but all fall under one (1) primary umbrella―experience. You can read a book about how to drive a car, but it won’t do you much good unless you actually drive a car. It’s all about the experience, and mobility solutions are no different. Hoping you have the right skillsets on staff and hoping it will all work out are other ways of saying High Risk. Hope is not a good mobility solutions strategy.

If you have questions about your organization’s current mobility strategy, or you need to develop one, contact GDT’s Mobility Solutions experts at Mobility_Team@gdt.com. They’re comprised of experienced solutions architects and engineers who have implemented mobility solutions for some of the largest organizations in the world. They’d love to hear from you.

GDT hosts VMware NSX Workshop

 

On Thursday, June 28th, GDT hosted a VMware NSX workshop at GDT’s Innovation Campus. It was a comprehensive, fast-paced training course that focusds on installing, configuring, and managing VMware NSX™. It covered VMware NSX as a part of the software-defined data center platform, including functionality operating at Layers 2 through 7 of the OSI model. Hands-on lab activities were included to help support attendees’ understanding of VMware NSX features, functionality, and on-going management. Great event, as always!

 

Protection for your own backyard

By Richard Arneson

An 18-month-old study by the Ponemon Institute, an independent research and education organization that works to advance privacy management practices for businesses and government agencies, discovered that, even though malicious insiders compose the largest, most costly source of security breaches, over seventy-five percent (75%) of businesses largely remain unprotected from them. That’s astounding, especially considering the exponential growth of IoT and BYOD. Actually, though, that growth is part of the issue, and it’s due to two (2) issues—there is reduced visibility into these devices and security-related resources haven’t adjusted accordingly. Sure, everybody loves anytime, always-on connectivity, but without a secure Network Access Control (NAC) solution, you may need to include “…and anyone can hop on our network” after anytime and always-on.

Many organizations make their decision easier by selecting the same vendor they’re already using for their infrastructure. Or, worse, they’ve taken a We’ll get to that later, let’s first just worry about getting everybody connected approach. The former gives the illusion of security, even though it can be fraught with security gaps, but the latter doesn’t even suggest illusion, but delusion.

ClearPass – the secure gateway

Aruba, the 16-year-old, Santa Clara-based wireless networking company purchased by HPE three (3) years ago, developed ClearPass to provide NAC and cybersecurity policy management that discovers, profiles, authenticates and authorizes any device—IoT, BYOD, or otherwise–that needs to access customers’ networks. In addition, it can integrate with Aruba’s IntroSpect behavioral analytics solution, and it can be deployed in any network, regardless of vendor.

Whether networks are accessed through wireless, wired, or a VPN solution, ClearPass can meet those needs while providing real-time data that can be utilized to create policies to satisfy the most mobile of workforces.

ClearPass Guest

Designed to meet the needs of facility visitors, ClearPass Guest provides secure, automated guess access to accommodate wireless or wired networks, regardless of mobile device. Whether a self-registration or sponsor-involved option is selected, credentials and pre-authorized access privileges can be enforced for short- or long-term guests. Credentials can be delivered by text, email or printed badges, and can be set to automatically provide access for a specified amount of time.

ClearPass Onboard

Regardless of the mobile device used—Windows, IOS, Android, macOS, Chromebook, and others—ClearPass Onboard can automatically configure and provision them, and ensures they’re securely connected to the network. ClearPass Onboard is a perfect way to address BYOD security, allowing administrators to easily configure wireless, wired or VPN settings, and apply per device certificates and profiles to ensure users can securely connect to 801.11x-enabled networks. In addition, it greatly enhances the ability to troubleshoot device- and user-based policies. As a result, workflows are streamlined, which allows IT helpdesk personnel to better automate processes to alleviate IT burdens while also enhancing the user experience.

ClearPass QuickConnect

ClearPass QuickConnect is another great security solution for BYOD environments. It addresses one (1) of the most challenging and complicated aspects of remote access—configurations related to 801.11x access. A user-driven configuration wizard can be accessed from anywhere, which walks them through step-by-step procedures for configuring SSIDs or 802.11x settings, regardless of the device being used.

It’s no wonder they’re a leader in IoT and BYOD security

Enterprise-grade security, greater controls, a customized guest access portal, multi-vendor capabilities, automated device provisioning to address IoT and BYOD initiatives, industry-leading and first-to-market features, proofs of concept—these, and many others, are the reasons Aruba ClearPass delivers clear, unique and proven differentiators in the world of IT security.

Got questions on security related to IoT and BYOD? Call on the Security experts

To find out more about how to secure your IoT and BYOD initiatives, contact GDT’s tenured and talented security analysts at SOC@GDT.com. From their Security- and Network Operations Centers, they manage, monitor and protect the networks of some of the most notable enterprises, service providers, healthcare organizations and government agencies in the world. They’d love to hear from you.

 

Read more about network security here:

Gen V

Sexy, yes, but potentially dangerous

Tetration—you should know its meaning

It’s in their DNA

Rx for IT departments—a security check-up

When SOC plays second fiddle to NOC, you could be in for an expensive tune

How to protect against Ransomware

GDT Lunch & Learn on Agile IoT

On Tuesday, June 19th, GDT Associate Network Systems Engineer Andrew Johnson presented, as part of the GDT Agile Operations (DevOps) team’s weekly Lunch & Learn series, info about the wild world of IoT (Internet of Things). Andrew provides a high level overview of what IoT is and what can be done when all things are connected.  As more and more devices get connected, the ability to draw rich and varied information from the network is changing how companies, governments and individuals interact with the world. 

Why this market will grow 1200% by 2021!

According to an IDC report that was released in 2017, it was predicted the SD-WAN market would grow from a then $700M to over $8B by 2021. They’ve revised that figure. Now it’s over $9B.

SD-WAN is often, yet incorrectly, referred to as WAN Optimization, but that’s actually a perfect way to describe what SD-WAN delivers. The sundry WAN solutions of the past twenty-five (25) years―X.25, private lines (T1s/DS3s) and frame relay―gave way to Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) in the early 2000’s.

MPLS moved from frame relay’s Committed Information Rate (CIR)―a throughput guarantee―and offered Quality of Service (QOS), which allows customers to prioritize time sensitive traffic, such as voice and video. MPLS has been the primary means of WAN transport over the last fifteen (15) years, but SD-WAN provides enterprises and service providers tremendous benefits above and beyond MPLS, including the following:

Easier turn-up of new locations

With MPLS, as with any transport technology of the past, turning up a new site or upgrading an existing one is complex and time consuming. Each edge device must be configured separately, and the simplest of changes can take weeks. With SD-WAN, setting up a new location can be provisioned automatically, greatly reducing both time and complexity.

Virtual Path Control

SD-WAN software can direct traffic in a more intelligent, logical manner, and is also, like MPLS, capable of addressing QoS. SD-WAN can detect a path’s degradation and re-route sensitive traffic based on its findings. Also, having backup circuits stand by unused (and costing dollars, of course) is a thing of the past with SD-WAN.

Migration to Cloud-based Services

With traditional WAN architectures, traffic gets backhauled to a corporate or 3rd party data center, which is costly and reduces response times. SD-WAN allows traffic to be sent directly to a cloud services provider, such as AWS or Azure.

Security

SD-WAN provides a centralized means of managing security and policies, and utilizes standards-based encryption regardless of transport type. And once a device is authenticated, assigned policies are downloaded and cloud access is granted―quick, easy. Compare that to traditional WANs, where security is handled by edge devices and firewalls. Far more complex and costly.

…and last, but not least

SD-WAN can greatly reduce bandwidth costs, which are often the greatest expense IT organizations incur, especially if they’re connecting multiple locations. MPLS circuits are pricey, and SD-WAN can utilize higher bandwidth, lower cost options, such as broadband or DSL.

Does SD-WAN mark the end of MPLS?

Given the stringent QoS demands of some enterprise organizations, and the fear that SD-WAN won’t be able to accommodate them, it’s unlikely that SD-WAN will totally replace MPLS. And some organizations are simply averse to change, and/or fear their current IT staff doesn’t have the necessary skillsets to successfully migrate to SD-WAN, then properly monitor and manage it moving forward.

Call on the SD-WAN experts

To find out more about SD-WAN and the many benefits it can provide your organization, contact GDT’s tenured SD-WAN engineers and solutions architects at SDN@gdt.com. They’ve implemented SD-WAN solutions for some of the largest enterprise networks and service providers in the world. They’d love to hear from you.

Calculating the costs, hard and soft, of a cloud migration

When you consider the costs of doing business, you might only see dollar signs―not uncommon. But if your organization is planning a cloud migration, it’s important to understand all costs involved, both hard and soft. Sure, calculating the hard costs of a cloud migration is critically important―new or additional hardware and software, maintenance agreements, additional materials, etc.―but failing to consider and calculate soft costs could mean pointed questions from C-level executives will embarrassingly go answered. And not knowing both types of costs could result in IT projects and initiatives being delayed or cancelled—there’s certainly a cost from that.

When you’re analyzing the many critical cloud migration components―developing risk assessments, analyzing the effects on business units, applications and interoperability―utilize the following information to help you uncover all associated costs.

First, you’ll need a Benchmark

It’s important to first understand all costs associated with your current IT infrastructure. If you haven’t calculated that cost, you won’t have a benchmark against which you can evaluate and compare the cost of a cloud migration. Calculating direct costs, such as software and hardware, is relatively easy, but ensure that you’re including additional expenses, as well, such as maintenance agreements, licensing, warranties, even spare parts, if utilized. And don’t forget to include the cost of power, A/C and bandwidth. If you need to confirm cost calculations, talk with accounts payable―they’ll know.

Hard Costs of a Cloud Migration (before, during and after)

Before

Determining the hard costs related to cloud migrations includes any new or additional hardware required. That’s the easy part―calculating the monthly costs from cloud service providers is another issue. It has gotten easier, especially for Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers. AWS offers an online tool that calculate the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Monthly Costs. But it’s still no picnic. Unless you have the cloud-related skillsets on staff, getting an accurate assessment of monthly costs might require you incur another, but worthwhile, hard cost―hiring a consultant who understands and can conduct a risk assessment prior to migration.

During

Cloud service providers charge customers a fee to transfer data from existing systems. And there might be additional costs in the event personnel is needed to ensure customers’ on-prem data is properly synced with data that has already been transferred. Ensuring this data integrity is important, but not easy, especially for an IT staff that is not experienced with prior cloud migrations.

After

Other than the monthly costs you’ll incur from your cloud provider of choice, such as AWS or Azure, consideration must be given to the ongoing maintenance costs of your new cloud environment. And while many of these are soft costs, there can be hard costs associated with them, as well, such as the ongoing testing of applications in the cloud.

The Hard-to-Calculate Soft Costs

If they’re not overlooked altogether, soft costs are seldom top-of-mind. Determining the value of your staff’s time isn’t hard to calculate (project hours multiplied by their hourly rate, which is calculated by dividing weekly pay by 40 (hours)), but locking down the amount of time a cloud migration has consumed isn’t easy. Now try calculating one that hasn’t taken place yet. There might be a cost in employee morale, as well, in the event the cloud migration doesn’t succeed or deliver as planned.

Consider the amount of time required to properly train staff and keep them cloud-educated into perpetuity―today’s cloud will look a lot different than future generations.

The testing and integrating of applications to be migrated takes considerable time, as well, and several factors must be considered, such as security, performance and scalability. Testing should also include potential risks that might result in downtime, and ensuring interoperability between servers, databases and the network.

Also, there’s a far greater than 0% chance your cloud migration won’t go exactly as planned, which will require additional man hours for proper remediation.

There are also soft costs associated with projects that are put on hold, especially if they delay revenue generation.

If questions exist, call on the experts

Here’s the great news―moving to the cloud, provided the migration is done carefully and comprehensively, will save considerable hard and soft costs now and in the future. Calculating the costs of a cloud migration is important, but not an easy or expeditious venture.

If you have questions about how to accurately predict the costs of a future cloud migration, contact GDT’s Cloud Experts at AWSTeam@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.

A Fiber Optic First

By Richard Arneson

It’s one of those “Do you remember where you were when…?” questions, at least for those at least fifty-years-old. And it didn’t just affect those in northern, hockey-friendly states. People as far south as Texas stopped their cars at the side of the road and began honking their car horns, then breaking into The Star-Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful while passing motorists sprayed them with wet grime. It was Friday, February 22nd when radios nationwide announced that the impossible had occurred at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY—the United States hockey team, comprised primarily of college-aged amateur athletes, had just defeated the Soviet Union Red Army team, considered by most familiar with the sport as the best hockey team of all time.

The closing seconds, announced worldwide by legendary sportscaster Al Michaels, became arguably the most well-known play-by-call in sports history:

11 seconds, you’ve got 10 seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? YES!”

Legendary for several reasons

The game, which Sports Illustrated named the greatest sporting event in American history, is legendary for other reasons, as well. The TV broadcast of the game actually occurred later that evening during prime time on ABC, and was part of the first television transmission that utilized fiber optics. While it didn’t deliver the primary TV transmission, it was used to provide backup video feeds. Based on its success, it became the primary transmission vehicle four (4) years later at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Lilliehammer, Norway.

Why fiber optics will be around―forever

It’s no wonder fiber optics carries the vast majority of the world’s voice and data traffic. There was a time (late 1950’s) when it was believed satellite transmission would be the primary, if not exclusive, means for delivering worldwide communications. It wasn’t the Olympics, but a 1959 Christmastime speech by President Eisenhower to allay Americans’ Cold War fears that was the first delivered via satellite. But if you’re a user of satellite television, you’ve certainly experienced network downtime that comes with heavy cloud cover or rain.

And wireless communications, such as today’s 4G technology (5G will be commercially available in 2020), requires fiber optics to backhaul data from wireless towers back to network backbones, which is then delivered to its intended destination via…fiber optics.

The question regarding fiber optics has been debated for years: “Will any technology on the horizon replace the need for fiber optics?” Some technologists (although there appears to be few) say yes, but most say no―as in absolutely no. Line of sight wireless communications are an option, and have been around for years, but deploying them in the most populated areas of the country―cities―is impractical. If anything stands between communicating nodes, you’ll be bouncing your signal off a neighboring building. Not effective.

Facebook will begin trials in 2019 for Terragraph, a service they claim will replace fiber optics. Sure, it might in some places, such as neighborhoods, but is only capable of transmitting data to 100 ft. or less. It’s the next generation of 802.11, but, while it’s capable of transmitting data at speeds up to 30 Gbps, it’s no option for delivering 1’s and 0’s across oceans.

Fiber is fast, it’s durable, and it lasts a long time. Yep, fiber optics will be around for a while.

Did you know?

  • Fiber optics can almost travel at the speed of light, and isn’t affected by EMI (electromagnetic interference).
  • Without electricity coursing through it, fiber optics doesn’t create fire hazards. And add to that fact―it’s green, as in eco-friendly green. And it degrades far less quickly than its coax and copper counterparts.
  • Fiber is incredibly durable, and isn’t nearly as susceptible to breakage than copper wire or coaxial cable. Also, fiber has a service life of 25-35 years.
  • There’s less attenuation with fiber, meaning there’s a greatly reduced chance it will experience signal loss.
  • With Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM), the fiber’s light source can be divided into as many as eighty (80) wavelengths, with each carrying separate, simultaneous signals.

Call on the experts

If you have questions about how optical networking can help your organization get the most out of optical networking, contact The GDT Optical Transport Team at Optical@gdt.com. They’re comprised of highly experienced optical engineers and architects, and support some of the largest enterprise and service provider networks in the world.

Migrating to the Cloud? Consider the following

First, follow Stephen Covey’s unintentional Cloud Migration advice

Stephen Covey, in his 1989 bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, lists “Begin with the end in mind” as the second habit. But in the event you’re considering a cloud migration for your organization, Covey’s second habit should be your first.

Yes, you must first fully understand the desired end results for moving to the cloud before you do so. Whether it’s cost savings, greater flexibility, more robust disaster recovery options, better collaboration options, work-from-anywhere options, automatic software and security updates, enhanced competitiveness in the marketplace, and better, safer controls over proprietary information and documentation, you need to ensure the precise goals are outlined and communicated so everybody in your organization understands the “end in mind.” There needs to be a carefully considered reason prior to your journey. You don’t get in the car and start driving without knowing where you want to go; why would you do it on your cloud journey?

Prior to any cloud migration, you must do exactly what you would prior to any other type of journey―go through your “To-Do” checklist. Without this level of scrutiny, your cloud migration will gloss over, if not totally exclude, key elements that need to be considered ahead of time. But not checking off necessary considerations prior to a cloud migration will be far more defeating than not packing your favorite pillow or a toothbrush. Trying to correct problems from a poorly planned cloud migration can cost considerable time, expense and credibility.

The following will give you an idea of the key questions that must be asked, and carefully considered and answered, prior to beginning your organization’s cloud journey.

What’s your Cloud Approach?

Will you be utilizing a public or private cloud model, or a combination (hybrid) of the two (2)? Will you maintain certain apps on-premises or in a data center, and be using more of a Hybrid IT approach? The answer to these questions involves several key elements, including, to name a few, existing licenses, architectures and transaction volume. And considering the “6 R’s” regarding Cloud migrations will greatly assist in helping you develop the right Cloud Approach:

Remove

Empirically speaking, it’s not uncommon for organizations to discover that as much as 20-30% of their current applications aren’t being utilized and are prime candidates for total shut down.

Retain

Determine which applications should remain managed on-prem. For instance, certain latency- or performance-sensitive applications, or any that involve sensitive and/or industry-regulated data, might not be right for the cloud. There are several applications that are simply not supported to run in the cloud, and some require specific types of servers or computing resources.

Re-platform

Which applications will benefit by moving to, once migrated to the Cloud, a different platform to save time and hassles related to database management. Amazon Relational Data Service (Amazon RDS) is a database-as-a-service (DBaaS) that makes setting up, operating and scaling relational databases in the cloud much easier.

Re-host

Often referred to as “lift and shift”), moving certain applications to the Cloud can often more easily be accomplished with existing automation tools, such as AWS’s VM Import/Export).

Re-purchase

Which current applications can be replaced and utilized in the Cloud (SaaS)?

Refactor

If scaling, enhanced performance, or adding new features can be accomplished via a Cloud Migration, they might need to be re-factored or -architected.

What’s the Prioritization Order of Applications that will be Migrated?

It probably won’t come as a surprise to hear that the least critical applications should be migrated first. Start with applications that won’t leave your entire organization hamstrung if down or inaccessible, and work up from there. Subsequent, more critical application migrations will benefit from the prior experience(s).

Are Security Concerns being considered?

Think about each of the network security demands and policies that must be closely monitored and adhered to. How will they be affected from a cloud migration? Think about any industry-related requirements, such as HIPAA, PCI and those mandated by FERC or the FTC? As data migrates to the public cloud, so changes in governance strategies will probably need to be addressed.

Are the Needed Cloud Migration Skillsets on staff?

Trying to retrofit existing IT personnel with a slew of quick-study certifications will leave one important element out of the equation―experience. Think of it this way; you can read a book about swimming, but it doesn’t really mean much until you get in the water. So, if your staff has only read about cloud migrations, you’ll probably want to turn to somebody who’s been in the cloud migration water for years. And doing so will help educate your staff, even provide them with the confidence to test new approaches.

Have costs been carefully considered?

Ask IT personnel why they’re moving to the cloud, and if “to save costs” isn’t mentioned first, it soon will be. Yes, moving to the cloud can save considerable costs (if done correctly), but no two (2) environments are alike when it comes to the degree of savings moving them to the cloud will deliver. In fact, some legacy applications might cost more if moved to the cloud. And additional bandwidth and associated costs must be taken into consideration, as well. Also, make sure you understand how licensing for each application is structured, and whether the licensing is portable if moved to the cloud.

Call on the experts

Moving to the cloud is a big journey, and doing so could be one of the biggest in your career. The question is, “Will it be a positive or negative journey?” Turning to experienced Cloud experts like those at GDT can point your cloud migration needle in a positive direction. They hold the highest levels of Cloud certifications in the IT industry, and can be reached at AWSTeam@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you Cloud-Ready?

Let’s face it, moving to the cloud is sexy. It’s the latest thing―at least as far as the general public is concerned―and proudly stating “We’re moving everything to the cloud” sounds modern, cutting-edge, even hip (if you want to impress people at a cocktail party, inform them that the concept has actually been around for fifty (50) years. The Cloud’s real impact, however, was felt in the late 1990’s when Salesforce came onto the scene and began delivering an enterprise application to customers via their website). Yes, everybody, it seems, wants to move to the cloud.

While many might feel their organization is cloud-ready, the truth is most are not. It seems and sounds so simple to move applications to the cloud (you just log into a website and start using the application, right?), but a lot of preparation, interviews and fact-finding must be conducted ahead of time.

The following are a list of questions you should ask yourself prior to a cloud migration. If companies don’t ask themselves, and be able to answer, the following questions, their cloud migration will leave them wondering if moving to the cloud was such as great idea in the first place.

Why are you moving to the Cloud?

If “Because it’s the thing to do” is your answer, even if you’re too embarrassed to state it publicly, it’s time to give the question deep-diving, considerable thought. And “Because it will save costs” isn’t enough prep, either. The Cloud offers many benefits, of course, but to fully realize them requires extensive knowledge regarding how to get them. If cloud migrations are completed correctly and comprehensively, your organization can enjoy greater flexibility, more robust disaster recovery options, capital expenditure savings, more effective collaboration, work-from-anywhere options, automatic software and security updates, enhanced competitiveness in the marketplace, and better, safer controls over proprietary information and documentation. But to get any or all of those, your current environment first needs to be risk assessed.

Have you conducted a Risk Assessment?

Risk assessments are a critical component of cloud migrations. Consideration needs to be given to:

  • Savings, both in costs and time
  • How the cloud solution can, and will, be right-sized to meet the unique demands of your organization
  • The role automation, if needed, will play in your cloud deployment
  • How staff resources will be managed, including any previous cloud expertise and skillsets you have on staff
  • The ongoing monitoring of the cloud solution, and the ability to analyze usage and make necessary adjustments when needed (and they will be needed)
  • Security needs, including compliance with any industry-related regulations, such as, to name a couple, HIPAA and PCI
  • How sensitive data will be protected
  • Disaster recovery, including backups and auto-recovery
  • The ability to satisfy Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs)

Failure to consider and satisfy any of the aforementioned could mean your cloud migration is doomed to fail. Again, a detailed, comprehensive risk assessment is a critical component that must be conducted prior to building a cloud migration strategy.

How will moving to the cloud affect business operations, not just IT?

Thinking outside the IT box is critically important. Interviews with key stakeholders from all business units―finance, marketing, accounting, project management, sales, DevOps, HR, etc.―need to be conducted to determine and understand their practices and goals, and how the cloud migration will affect, and enhance, them. A thorough analysis of the current environment needs to be conducted to understand how departments work interdependently. IT infrastructure, security, application dependencies and cost analysis needs to be considered for each.

Are my applications Cloud-Ready?

It’s important to understand which applications are well-suited to move to the cloud, including related options for each. Some applications should be moved to the cloud, some should be in a private cloud, and others shouldn’t, or can’t, be moved at all. Each organization has unique needs and requirements, and all need to be incorporated into a migration plan that both organizes and prioritizes them so desired results can be achieved. For instance, certain mission-critical applications probably shouldn’t be migrated first, as their downtime might bring the entire organization to a grinding and costly halt.

Call on the Experts

The many benefits of moving to the Cloud are achievable, but getting there requires a level of expertise and associated skillsets that most organizations don’t already have on staff. If you have questions about moving to the Cloud, regardless of the size of your organization and its associated infrastructure, contact the GDT Cloud experts at AWSTeam@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.

Reasons to Outsource Software Lifecycle and Adoption Management

It’s one of the most overlooked elements of operating an IT organization, even for those responsible for thousands of assets nationally or worldwide—the management of software lifecycle and adoption. Let’s face it, IT departments are focused on putting out fires or working on solutions that will help shape their company’s future. Managing software contracts―often dozens, even thousands of them―can easily fall under the “Yeah, we really should get a better handle on those” or “We’ll get around to it when we get around to it” categories.

Managing software lifecycles, including adoption, might be on the backburner of many organizations because they don’t have anybody on staff who really understands the many benefits they’d enjoy if they had a detailed plan for carefully managing them. Now that vendors are decoupling software from related hardware, it’s critical to have a software licensing and adoption plan in place.

Some of the many reasons companies should consider outsourcing the management of software lifecycle and adoption

Expertise

IT organizations that currently manage―or would like to manage in the future―their software lifecycles in-house might not fully understand the complexities involved. It’s rare for companies to have somebody on staff that has the level of expertise in place to help them fully realize the benefits of managing software lifecycles. Using a managed service provider (MSP) that has a practice solely focused on this critical IT element can save you time, resources, and, of course, unnecessary expenditures. To successfully accomplish this requires in-depth understanding of, to name a few, use rights, metrics surrounding software licenses, and volume purchasing agreements. And if nobody is closely monitoring those contracts, any remediation and/or financial penalties due your organization could go unnoticed.

Software Audits

It’s not uncommon for software companies to conduct audits to confirm that their customers are complying with licenses and ensure that unlicensed software isn’t being utilized. Often companies don’t tackle this issue until they’ve already been audited, and, in many cases, expensively penalized. And preparing for audits ahead of time will uncover valuable information, as well, including how many licenses a company currently holds compared to what it needs.

Adoption, including the alignment of software with key business processes

A key adoption element is ensuring that software utilized is properly aligned with an organization’s various business processes, and uncovering why adoption barriers might exist. A managed services provider worth its weight will conduct interviews with key personnel from different business units to ensure software demands are being properly addressed. In doing so, they can also help you embed any product features to meet the demands of different business units.

Knowledge Transfer

If you select a managed services provider to manage and monitor your software lifecycles and adoption, make sure they provide extensive training sessions for end-users, including Train the Trainer sessions for in-house personnel. Don’t just rely on their expertise, learn from them.

Cost Savings

Professionals whose sole focus is on software licensing can help customers achieve economies of scale that they probably haven’t enjoyed in the past. Software adoption needs to be closely monitored and understood to ensure investments are optimized and software is right-sized. And an MSP specializing in software licensing can help you understand why and how software licensing can be migrated to more economical and less cumbersome Enterprise Agreements (EA).

Call on the experts

Developing a comprehensive software lifecycle and adoption management plan is a lot for organizations to take on in-house. Relying on experts to deliver those benefits can save time, headaches, and considerable savings. Turning to tenured professionals whose sole focus is on software lifecycle and adoption management will free up valuable IT resources to work on those forward-thinking initiatives they were hired to deliver in the first place. For more information about software lifecycle and adoption management, Contact the SLAM (software lifecycle and adoption management) professionals at SLAM@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.