Ntirety CEO Emil Sayegh Delivers Keynote at CAPRE Texas Data Center Summit

On October 2nd, Ntirety CEO Emil Sayegh was proud to be a keynote speaker at CAPRE’s Sixth Annual Texas Data Center Summit in Dallas. This was one of several successful CAPRE events Emil has participated in, and his presentation was followed by several thoughtful questions from the audience and an inspiring discussion. After his speech, Emil was invited to join other industry leaders for a panel titled, Life on the Edge: The Advent of 5G, Micro Data Center & Evolution of the Next Generation. There was much gained, shared, and learned about how the future is unfolding for cloud technology today and into the future.

Emil’s How Cloud Providers are Playing with Traditional Data Centers presentation covered how cloud providers are addressing today and tomorrow’s computing needs, and how that affects the end user in each data storage environment. Key topics included:

  • Whether or not all data belongs in the cloud, and what data should go to Amazon, Azure, Google, Hybrid, or remain on-premise
  • How end-users are approaching the various cloud offerings, including public, private, and hybrid
  • What Google, Azure, Amazon offer to clients that might not be offered elsewhere
  • How cloud solutions are making the impossible a reality
  • How end-users get over regulatory and compliance challenges during migrations
  • What factors affect big-picture cloud migration decisions
  • The hybrid cloud models that are working best in production environments

Did you miss seeing Emil speak at CAPRE or want a recap of his presentation?

IoT Evolution Expo: Build to Optimize, Not Compromise

In January, Ntirety had the honor of sponsoring the 2018 IoT Evolution Expo in Orlando, FL. The event is a digital haven for companies and organizations who wish to better understand and ultimately implement IoT solutions to enhance their business processes.

No Infrastructure Without Security

In our time at the expo, it was clear that this industry will see plenty of growth and widespread adoption in major industries like healthcare and transportation. But there is also widespread panic about potential data breaches and security issues, and vendors are unsure how to implement effective solutions from infrastructure to deployment that will help them be secure and compliant.

Many small and mid-sized companies came to the IoT Expo because they were either trying to get into the market or promote their existing solution as part of a larger ecosystem. The larger corporations wanted to see how they could integrate IoT and edge computing, or FOG devices, into their own solutions. But the market seemed to be divided at the expo between companies who wanted to own the intellectual property of the data and eventually build a platform, and companies who wanted the benefit from a connected platform but were willing to give up access to raw data in exchange for a simplified SaaS-delivered business model.

At the core of all these solutions is infrastructure. And many don’t want to worry with the server management business, or they lack the time, skills or expertise to manage this themselves. This results in security measures that are severely lacking. And everyone at the expo was concerned about security and compliance from the edge computing device all the way back to the datacenter.

A Better Way to Optimize

Several companies seemed to have, or are currently building, a solution that can hook into any platform, such as AWS, Google, Azure, and VMware. While this is ideal, many companies tend to stick solely with AWS. While the AWS platform can start off at a low cost, that will eventually increase exponentially, and many clients struggle with shrinking profit margins. And with providers as large as AWS, there is the unfortunate side effect of poor managed support, which means these companies end up self-managing or paying a separate company to manage basic monitoring and patching of servers. Calling on AWS or Google, or any other major provider for support, may usually only satisfy an immediate need but rarely focuses on the bigger picture of your solution, doing little to lower costs.

As the adoption of interconnected devices and networks continues to grow and be carried out in standard processes like billing, healthcare records, and more, there will eventually be more compliance and security challenges. With Ntirety, the real power comes from the fact that we are agnostic with platforms like AWS, Google, and Azure, while maintaining our own global datacenter network. And with our recent success in large global deployments such as Samsung’s smart TV network, we are poised to help enterprises understand the challenges with rapidly scaling a network and help avoid risks before they occur.

What Does Your CSP Really Know About Cloud Best Practices?

The cloud is the place to be. Gartner reports that over $1 trillion in IT spending will be affected by the cloud during the next five years, and worldwide spending on public cloud services will grow to $246.8 billion in 2017. Facts like these are why 74% of CFOs say cloud computing will have the biggest impact on their business this year.

It comes as no surprise then that a wide array of Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are vying to meet the demand. According to our own research, an estimated 75% of businesses that use at least one cloud outsource various IT responsibilities to a managed services provider.

But with the rise of cyber attacks, you need to be fully confident in your CSP’s ability to protect you in the cloud. This requires your CSP to measure up in several key areas. Here are 3 and how HOSTING approaches each.

1. Risk management and compliance

Many CSPs claim full compliance with HIPAA, PCI and other standards, but just how much responsibility do they really take for these claims? To minimize your risk, it’s critical that accountability is clearly defined.

Ask for proof of certifications and success meeting compliance obligations. At HOSTING; for example, we back all our services (colocation, cloud and managed servers) by our 100% audit assurance guarantee. We are, in fact, the only MSP to achieve full PCI/DSS, HIPAA/HITECH and SOC ⅔ compliance on all platform types.

2. Infrastructure management

Managing a cloud or hybrid infrastructure introduces new complexities and security vulnerabilities. Careful consideration must be given to best practices in all environments — whether public cloud, private cloud, multi-cloud, hybrid or hybrid multi-cloud.

While cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure are known for their flexibility and scalability, they fall short when it comes to delivering value-added security, compliance and support. In contrast, the approach at HOSTING is to combine the elasticity of these cloud services with customized, expert-driven managed services.

We offer unified system administration, security, DR, networking and application across all leading public and private cloud platforms. The advantage is end-to-end support and visibility through a single source — without expensive infrastructure costs or distractions from your core business.

3. Security

One point that’s easy to overlook when moving to the cloud is the shared security model offered by many CSPs. Essentially, this involves allocating responsibility for security controls across several different entities including you — the customer.

Before contracting with a CSP, be sure to identify who’s responsible for providing the security controls required by your specific compliance mandate. The last thing you want to happen after an infraction is to discover a control you thought your CSP covered was actually your responsibility.

To avoid this scenario, reference your regulatory framework to draw up a comprehensive list of security controls. From a responsibility standpoint, here’s a shortlist of security functions we cover at HOSTING:

  • Physical control of facilities and access
  • Encryption, data and network communication
  • Network security (firewall configuration and management, log management, IDS, web application firewalls, etc)
  • File integrity monitoring
  • Customer code security review
  • GRC (governance, risk management and compliance tracking)

Put Cloud Best Practices to Work

Moving to the cloud can reduce costs, improve service levels and drive growth — assuming you’re able to put cloud best practices to work for you. Consistently recognized by Gartner for inclusion in its annual Magic Quadrant for Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting, HOSTING stands out for its ability to execute and completeness of vision. Contact us to learn about our best practices-based approach to cloud services.

Public Cloud Control: How to Grab It and Where to Go with It

The use of public cloud platforms is soaring. Many organizations are turning to public cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure to manage explosive data growth. They are becoming core components of enterprise networks and in fact:

  • 41% of workloads are run in the public cloud.
  • Azure adoption grew 20% to 34% in 2017.
  • Gartner predicts worldwide public cloud services market to grow by 18% in 2017 to $264.8 billion.

Explosive data growth isn’t the only reason for surging public cloud adoption rates. In a recent survey, a majority of IT leaders reported they believe that public cloud security is better than their own and that it provides the most flexible and cost-effective solution. A public cloud solution also allows IT departments to take advantage of external expertise, innovation and performance.

But with the improvements in agility and performance, also come the complexities and distractions of managing complex infrastructure.

Drawbacks of the Public Cloud

While many cloud adopters cite security as a key driver, many might be surprised that although public cloud solutions offer many benefits, mainstream providers such as AWS and Azure don’t always meet expectations for delivering security, compliance and support.

As cloud technology advances and organizations put more of their workload into the public cloud, they are having a hard time staying abreast of the latest security tools and strategies. AWS and Azure provide organizations with more power and performance, but they lack critical capabilities for safeguarding data with cloud monitoring, security and compliance services while maintaining high availability.

Investing in these elements can be expensive for organizations, and that’s if they already have the expertise at hand. As cloud technology continues to develop rapidly, that expertise is becoming more limited in supply. While training can provide staff the expertise they need, it is both time-consuming and expensive.

Organizations need support resources now to help them manage the public cloud securely. When downtime can cost as much as $7,900 per minute, they also need reassurances that security and performance are as good as promised.

Bridging the Gap with Unified Cloud Hosting

Thanks to Unified Cloud hosting, IT groups can get out from under public cloud deficiencies to maximize performance and security while achieving the freedom to advance innovation. By combining the flexibility and scalability of cloud platforms with industry-leading managed services, a hosted unified cloud provides much-needed resources for bridging the gap by:

  • Managing risks in a fast-changing threat landscape.
  • Maintaining exceptional compliance with less impact on IT.
  • Providing 24/7 monitoring.
  • Ensuring an uninterrupted service for critical business applications.

With unified cloud hosting, IT staff are free from managing compliance, security and infrastructures. They no longer have to worry about the day-to-day state of their cloud environment or finding the expertise necessary to manage it. Instead, they are free to concentrate their time on big-picture IT projects that push their organization forward.

HOSTING provides public cloud management and cloud database services to organizations that choose Unified Cloud Hosting. Contact us to learn how to gain control in the cloud.

Business IT Alignment Checklist

Following is a checklist to ensure that you hit the mark as you work through the process of aligning IT with your overall business objectives.

1. Identify business drivers

 Assess which business objectives require IT enablement (e.g., new product, acquisition of another company, etc.)

2. Create IT vision

 Document the general guidelines or policy that guides the ideal way in which IT decisions will be made and the IT organization will operate. Include culture and, management style.

3. Identify the IT capability required to meet business priorities in the following areas:

 Strategy

 Process

 Infrastructure

 Organization

4. Access current alignment of the IT capability with the envisioned IT capability in these three areas:

 Investment

 Asset

 Organization

5. Identify alignment gaps in the three areas (investment, asset, organization)

 Identify the root cause of misalignment in each area

 Document the steps to close the gaps

6. Prioritize IT initiatives

 Consider constraints such as capacity, budget, disruption of business and which will deliver the biggest “bang for the buck”

7. Evaluate implementation options

 Use the list of initiatives to create an IT roadmap

 Include feedback from the business side to mitigate unknowns

8. Create migration plan

 Document a plan to include steps, deliverables, responsibility and timing

 Plan with flexibility

To find out more about the importance of IT and business alignment, discover signs your organization might not be aligned and learn the steps to alignment, download The Challenge: Aligning IT with Business Objectives infographic.

Business Alignment Criteria – 6 Key Areas

The alignment of business and IT objectives is a rising priority for many forward-thinking CIOs and technology departments. Executives are more interested in conversations about how- IT delivers value to the business and end user than just a technology discussion. Following is a deep dive analysis of six key areas where IT and the business should be aligned. We suggest you create a document that captures your action plan as it relates to these criteria and the suggested how-tos below.

Business Alignment Criteria 1: Communication

Success: IT and business departments understand each other goals.

How’s it done: Build programs (committees, executive sponsors, etc.) to bridge gaps and understand each other’s pain points and goals.

Business Alignment Criteria 2: Value Measurements

Success: IT metrics are associated with business objectives; e.g., server uptime vs. financial application uptime.

How it’s done: Create SLAs, formal reviews and assessments to provide accountability and visibility.

Business Alignment Criteria 3: Governance

Success: IT investments are aligned with business objectives.

How it’s done: Create steering committees that include IT and business leadership to review IT investment (e.g., new product investment alignment with sales incentive program) and organizational criteria (i.e., organizational structure and employee goals).

Business Alignment Criteria 4: Partnerships

Success: The organization considers IT to be a valuable partner.

How it’s done: Ensure IT has a visible role in strategic business planning and create shared goals and risks. It’s often helpful to assign a business sponsor or champion for IT.

Business Alignment Criteria 5: Scope and Architecture

Success: IT is actively engaged, transparent and seen as a supportive and flexible partner.

How it’s done: Engage in regularly scheduled conversations to address the need for change in current efforts, acquisition of emerging technology and the limitations of each from an IT perspective.

Business Alignment Criteria 6: Skills

Success: The organization and management team supports an environment that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship. Teams are motivated to build skills that support each other.

How it’s done: Create opportunities for cross-training, career crossovers and building a trusting, social culture.

For more details on business alignment criteria and step-by-step directions on how to create aligned objectives and how to map KPIs back to those objectives, download Aligning IT with Business Objectives – An eBook from HOSTING.

Moving From a System Focus to a Business Service Focus

To ensure alignment of business and IT objectives, it’s important that organizations take the essential step of moving from a system focus to a business service focus. To make alignment possible, IT must tie activities and capabilities to something meaningful to the organization and its customers. Having your IT department focused on Agile, ITIL, COBIT and ISO are beneficial methodologies but all speak to the importance of a service focus. Following are a few ways to clear out activities that may be consuming your staff’s time and start the shift toward thinking about things from an IT and business alignment perspective:

  • Business Service Focus Area: System Resources – Outsource lower level work such as data center management. Additionally, you can replace perpetual licenses with SaaS and subscription based licenses to eliminate the need for your staff to perform upgrades and other maintenance. This allows your staff to focus on transformative business objectives.
  • Business Service Focus Area: Network and Applications – If your applications aren’t globally distributed, consider using SaaS applications instead. For example, if you have an application that requires local hosting (non-SaaS), you are required to have networking and application infrastructure at each location to support it, maintenance, monitoring and people to fix it. If you use a SaaS application, you can globally distribute without a need for all the underlying infrastructure.
  • Business Service Focus Area: Automation – Look for opportunities to automate processes and areas to integrate processes into a DevOps framework. Move towards a continuous delivery cycle by focusing on integration, built-in testing, constant monitoring and analytics feedback. This reduces risk and helps you expose and/or reduce inefficiencies and hidden costs.
  • Business Service Focus Area: End-user Experience – Identify different and important end-user groups, such as consumers on your website or your internal finance department and align SLAs and KPIs the end-user’s goal. For example, instead of tracking web server ping time, look at how long your user is waiting to process an ecommerce order.

As you move from addressing systems resources down the list to addressing end-user experience, you’ll start to provide more and more value to the business. To learn more about how your organization can align with and deliver on objectives that move the business forward, download Aligning IT with Business Objectives – An eBook from HOSTING.

Business IT Alignment: Signs You’re Not Aligned

High on the list of priorities for forward thinking CIOs and technology departments is business IT alignment specifically as they pertain to strategic objectives. C-level executives are more interested in conversations about how IT delivers value to the business and end user than just a technology discussion. However, IT departments often feel out of the loop, unappreciated and “playing catch up.” And the business side often feels that IT isn’t paying attention to where the organization is headed. So, what does business IT alignment mean and why is it important? Check out the statistics below from a recent study:

“64% of executives think that IT must better understand business goals.”

“47% believe that business goals are going unsupported by IT.”

“32% feel that IT is investing in areas that don’t support the business.”

Source: Info-Tech Benchmarking and Diagnostic Programs

Unless there is a thrust toward alignment between IT goals and business goals, your company will continue to miss the mark in customer satisfaction, product development, efficiencies and cost savings. And your IT department will continue to suffer from lack of credibility, trust and results.

Signs Your Organization Isn’t Aligned

Reactive

Your IT staff learn of services problems from your customers instead of an internal source. This also means that data about the problems is likely not correlated or analyzed to resolve problems before they impact the customer.

Support Gaps

Your organization operates in multiple time zones (possibly global) and your support staff isn’t 24×7. If support isn’t dispersed, employees in some locations are left without support resulting in a loss of productivity during critical business hours.

System Focus

Your IT department is focused on and measuring the performances of systems (e.g. servers, network devices, storage, etc.), but isn’t measuring the performance of the services impacting the business and end-user (e.g. application, web, financials, etc.). While a system focus is great for internal IT monitoring, it doesn’t allow for understanding of the business and end-user experience.

Decentralization

While most organizations fall somewhere between centralized IT and decentralized IT, trending more towards decentralization often results in an abundance of overlap in responsibilities and tools. Not only is this inefficient, but is probably creating silos in your data. The result is a lack of visibility across your entire ecosystem. Without a clear picture, it’s difficult to proactively address issues, drive efficiencies or plan in an informed manner.

To learn more about business IT alignment and receive step-by-step directions on how to create aligned objectives that will impact your business in visible and meaningful ways, check out the webinar KPIs: Aligning Your IT and Business Objectives

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