IT Operational Excellence

When IT departments are tuned to run their best, they achieve more, spend less and drive success back into the organisations they support.

IT operational excellence is an approach that helps to ensure IT departments run efficiently and deliver great service. Without an operational excellence philosophy, IT departments lack vision and strategy, are slow to adapt and are more likely to be bogged down by trivial issues.

Achieving IT operational excellence isn't about implementing one particular framework. It is a mindset geared towards continuous improvement and performance that incorporates multiple principles designed to align team goals around delivering value to the customer.

IBRS can help organisations achieve IT operational excellence by revealing the most effective ways to leverage resources and identify the most valuable activities and differentiators in a given IT team.

Conclusion:

This month, discussions regarding changes to company structures and operations have been prominent. An increased demand for transformation and internal enhancements has prompted managed service providers to further develop their firms. Streamlining and redeveloping customer products and offerings to meet specific targets has been a particular focus, as well as using predictive techniques and tools to respond to customer needs. In an effort to meet demands, service providers require transparency with customers, and improved offerings for their clients and business partners. This will assist vendors when delivering products, services and support to their customers, and drive their productivity and growth.

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Conclusion:

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) implementation involves identifying whether VDI can be done internally or outsourced through a third party, seeking out and engaging a supplier, and finally, determining the cost-effective and efficient way to deploy the service.

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Conclusion: 

The need to have a disaster recovery (DR) plan that is understood, agreed, and jointly owned by all elements of the organisation is essential in preparing for a disaster event. An effective DR plan will focus on managing the risk associated with completing a successful restoration and recovery in a time, and to a level of effectiveness, acceptable to business.

To ensure the plan is effective at mitigating the risks associated with completion of restoration and resumption of services after a disaster event; the DR plan must also clearly identify how the plan is to be verified and therefore reduce the risk of not completing a successful disaster recovery.

The key focus of the DR plan must always be about the restoring delivery of business functions. The technical delivery may be from ICT services on-premise, outsourced providers, or Cloud. Regardless of technical delivery to business, the impact of an ICT disaster event needs a verified plan!

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Conclusion:

This month, discussions regarding an increased demand for disaster recovery, business continuity and work management solutions has been prominent. While the pandemic has triggered fundamental IT changes in an effort to resolve gaps and vulnerabilities, the accelerated rate of digital transformation and migration efforts has resulted in shortfalls when planning and establishing new work environments. Vendors have found difficulties maintaining business processes when unforeseen or extreme events occur. Combined with management solutions that cannot cater to all scenarios and a lack of clarity regarding customer responsibilities when responses to operational failures are required, difficulties have arisen for service providers. This requires vendors to provide more detailed and clearer disaster recovery and business continuity plans for customers, as well as specialised management tools and associated resources to implement solutions and responses. It is also critical for vendors to communicate with customers to facilitate the recovery of processes and ensure all business systems can be utilised in new and dispersed working environments.

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We all hear that data is growing at exponential rates, and so too is the demand and complexity of data management practices. But does this mean you need to obtain the highest levels of data management and buy into the most sophisticated tool?

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Contract management can be more than just record keeping. When done well, it can enable organisations to explore the best ways to optimise their investments when conditions change.

This capability proved essential for the Australian government when COVID-19 hit, with investments in all manner of services and infrastructure being needed almost overnight.

IBRS interviews ZEN Enterprise, an Australian niche contract management solution vendor, and the contract manager from a large Australian agency to tease out the benefits and challenges of advanced contract management in an age of rapid change.

IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

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Conclusion

With the growth of dependence on ICT for business to perform effectively, many organisations have increased risk associated with the ability of ICT to provide service continuity. ICT downtime means business is negatively impacted. Many organisations believe the DRP is a problem that is ICTs to solve. Whilst ICT will lead the planning and do a lot of the heavy lifting when a disaster occurs, it can only be successful with the assistance and collaboration of its business partners. It will be the business that sets the priorities for restoration and accepts the risk.

Both business and ICT need to be comfortable that the disaster recovery (DR) plan has been verified to ensure a reasonable expectation that recovery will be successful.

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Conclusion

This month, discussions regarding project investment have been prominent. In particular, increases attributed to the changing threat environment and the constant emergence of new technologies. The resultant digital initiatives help create new opportunities or mitigate issues that can have a cascading and negative impact throughout operations. A continuous cycle of project investment is beneficial to improve business processes, resolve operational difficulties, as well as accelerate digital transformation. By delivering more efficient and innovative operations, companies can address new and shifting technology goals and expectations.

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Conclusion

Low-code solutions expand the entry-level for application development by enabling non-developers (a.k.a. citizen developers) and developers alike to create applications visually. Low-code platform solutions allow citizen developers to develop applications using WYSIWYG tools to create functional prototypes of applications that digitise special – often narrowly defined – business processes. This can be highly disruptive without clear policies (see ‘Non-techies Are Taking Over Your Developers’ Jobs – Dealing with the Fallout’). In addition, to avoid the Microsoft access problem of creating fragmented applications and processes, the ICT group needs to be involved in the selection of a low-code platform that provides not only eforms and workflow capabilities, but also governance features to avoid the chaos that can ensue from unfettered development.

Low-code platforms can be viewed as offering a spectrum of capabilities, as detailed in ‘How to Succeed with Eforms Part 1: Understand the Need'. To provide a smooth transition along the spectrum of development capabilities, organisations may either:

  • introduce a second developer-focused low-code platform, since many citizen-developer-focused solutions have insufficient capabilities for developers.
  • adopt a single, low-code platform that provides both the simplicity needed for citizen developers and the power needed for developers.

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The Latest

28 April 2021:  AWS has introduced AQUA (Advanced Query Accelerator) for Amazon Redshift, a distributed and hardware-accelerated cache that, according to AWS, “delivers up to ten times better query performance than other enterprise Cloud data warehouses”.

Why it’s Important

AWS is not the only vendor that offers distributed analytics computing. Architectures from Domo and Snowflake both make use of elastic, distributed computing resources (often referred to as nodes) to enable analytics over massive data sets. These architectures not only speed up the analytics of data, but also provide massively parallel ingestion of data. 

By introducing AQUA, AWS has added a layer of specialised, massively parallel and scalable cache over its Redshift analytics platform. This new layer comes at a cost, but initial calculations suggest it is a fraction of the cost of deploying and maintaining traditional big data analytics architecture, such as specialised BI hyperconverged appliances and databases.

Given the rapid growth in self-service data analytics (aka citizen analytics) organisations will face increasing demands to provide analytics services for increasing amounts of both highly curated data, and ‘other’ data with varied levels of quality. In addition, organisations need to consider a plan for rise in non-structured data. 

As with email, we have reached a tipping point in the demands of performance, complexity and cost where Cloud delivered analytics outstrip on-premises in most scenarios. The question now becomes one of Cloud architecture, data governance and, most important of all, how to mature data literacy across your organisation.

Who’s impacted

  • Business intelligence / analytics team leads
  • Enterprise architects
  • Cloud architects

What’s Next?

Organisations should reflect honestly on the way they are currently supporting business intelligence capabilities, and develop scenarios for Cloud-based analytics services. 

This should include a re-evaluation of how adherence to compliance and regulations can be met with Cloud services, how data could be democratised, and the potential impact on the organisation. BAU cost should be considered, not just for the as-in state, but also for a potential future states. While savings are likely, such should not be the overriding factor: new capabilities and enabling self-service analytics are just as important. 

Organisations should also evaluate data literacy maturity among staff, and if needed (likely) put in place a program to improve staff’s use of data.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. IBRSiQ: AIS and Power BI Initiatives
  2. Workforce transformation: The four operating models of business intelligence
  3. Staff need data literacy – Here’s how to help them get it
  4. The critical link between data literacy and customer experience
  5. VENDORiQ: Fujitsu Buys into Australian Big Data with Versor Acquisition

The Latest

29 April 2021: Microsoft briefed analysts on its expansion of Azure data centres throughout Asia. By the end of 2021, Microsoft will have multiple availability zones in every market where it has a data centre.

The expansion is driven in part by a need for additional Cloud capacity to meet greenfield growth. Each new availability zone is, in effect, an additional data centre of Cloud services capability.

However, the true focus is on providing existing Azure clients with expanded options for deploying services over multiple zones within a country.  

Microsoft expects to see strong growth in organisations re-architecting solutions that had been deployed to the Cloud through a simple ‘lift and shift’ approach to take advantage of the resilience granted by multiple zones. Of course, there is a corresponding uplift in revenue for Microsoft as more clients take up multiple availability zones.

Why it’s Important

While there is an argument that moving workloads to Cloud services, such as Azure, has the potential to improve service levels and availability, the reality is that Cloud data centres do fail. Both AWS and Microsoft Azure have seen outages in their Sydney Australia data centres. What history shows is organisations that had adopted a multiple availability zone architecture tended to have minimal, if any, operational impact when a Cloud data centre goes down.

It is clear that a multiple availability zone approach is essential for any mission critical application in the Cloud. However, such applications are often geographically bound by compliance or legislative requirements. By adding additional availability zones within countries throughout the region, Microsoft is removing a barrier for migrating critical applications to the Cloud, as well as driving more revenue from existing clients.

Who’s impacted

  • Cloud architecture teams
  • Cloud cost / procurement teams

What’s Next?

Multiple available zone architecture can be considered on the basis of future business resilience in the Cloud. It is not the same thing as ‘a hot disaster recovery site’ and should be viewed as a foundational design consideration for Cloud migrations.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. VENDORiQ: Amazon Lowers Storage Costs… But at What Cost?
  2. Vendor Lock-in Using Cloud: Golden Handcuffs or Ball and Chain?
  3. Running IT-as-a-Service Part 49: The case for hybrid Cloud migration

The Latest

18 March 2021: Veeam released a report which suggests that 58% of backups fail. After validating these claims, and from the direct experiences of our advisors who have been CIOs or infrastructure managers in previous years, IBRS accepts there is merit in Veeam’s claim.

The real question is, what to do about it, other than buying into Veeam’s sales pitch that its backups give greater reliability?

Why it’s Important

Sophisticated ransomware attacks are on the rise. So much so that IBRS issued a special alert on the increasing risks in late March 2021. Such ransomware attacks specifically target backup repositories. This means creating disconnected, or highly-protected backups is more important than ever. The only guarantee for recovery from ransomware is a combination of well-structured backups, coupled with a well-rehearsed cyber incident response plan. 

However, protecting the backups is only useful if those backups can be recovered. IBRS estimates around 10-12% of backups fail to fully recover, which is measuring a slightly different, but more important situation than touted by Veeam. Even so, this failure rate is still far too high, given heightened risk from financially-motivated ransomware attacks.

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Risk Officers reporting to the board
  • CISCO
  • Infrastructure leads

What’s Next?

IBRS has identified the ‘better-practice’ from backup must include regular and unannounced, practice runs to recover critical systems from backups. These tests should be run to simulate as closely as possible to events that could lead to a recovery situation: critical system failures, malicious insider and ransomware. Just as organisations need to rehearse cyber incident responses, they also need to thoroughly test their recovery regime. 

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Maintaining disaster recovery plans
  2. Ransomware: Don’t just defend, plan to recover
  3. Running IT-as-a-Service Part 59: Recovery from ransomware attacks
  4. Ransomware, to pay or not to pay?
  5. ICT disaster recovery plan challenges
  6. Testing your business continuity plan

The Latest

28 March 2021: AWS has a history of periodically lowering the costs of storage. But even with this typical behaviour, its recent announcement of an elastic storage option that shaves 47% off current service prices is impressive. Or is it?

The first thing to realise is that the touted savings are not apples for apples. AWS’s new storage offering is cheaper because it resides in a single-zone, rather than being replicated across multiple zones. In short, the storage has a higher risk of being unavailable, or even being lost by an outright failure. 

Why it’s Important

AWS has not hidden this difference. It makes it clear that the lower cost comes from less redundancy. Yet this architectural nuance may be overlooked when looking at ways to optimise Cloud costs.

One of the major benefits of moving to Platform-as-a-Service offerings is the increased resilience and availability of the architecture. Cloud vendors, including AWS, do suffer periodic failures within zones. Examples include the AWS Sydney outage in early 2020 and the Sydney outage in 2016 which impacted banking and e-commerce services.  

But it is important to note that even though some of Australia’s top companies were effectively taken offline by the 2016 outage, others just sailed on as if little had happened. The difference is how these companies had leveraged the redundancies available within Cloud platforms. Those that saw little impact to operations when the AWS Sydney went down had selected redundancies in all aspects of their solutions.

Who’s impacted

  • Cloud architects
  • Cloud cost/contract specialists
  • Applications architects
  • Procurement leads

What’s Next?

The lesson from previous Australian AWS outages is that organisations need to carefully match the risk of specific application downtime. This new announcement shows that significant savings (in this case 47%) are possible by accepting a greater risk profile. However, while this may be attractive from a pure cost optimisation/procurement perspective, it also needs to be tempered with an analysis of the worst case scenario, such as multiple banks being unable to process credit card payments in supermarkets for an extended period.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. VENDORiQ: AWS second data centre in Australia
  2. Post COVID-19: Four new BCP considerations
  3. Running IT-as-a-Service Part 55: IBRS Infrastructure Maturity Model

Conclusion

This month, discussions regarding customer and employee experience solutions have been prominent. New remote working models have driven demand for products and services which support improved customer and employee experience solutions. Customer engagement services that can align business goals and needs with IT services and infrastructure are required to avoid the implementation of solutions that interfere with business processes. Data science tools, solutions and a combination of information from different sources can help vendors retain a focus on customer metrics that drive business growth. They also help to manage operations, supply chain issues and provide a greater understanding of changes underlying customer and employee behaviours.

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The Latest

20 March 2021: GorillaStack has released capabilities that allows it to monitor and apply governance rules to any external service that communicates with AWS EventBridge.

Why it’s Important

GorillaStack is one of the earliest vendors to address the complexities of Cloud cost management, having started in Australia in 2015 and moved to having strong growth in the international market. In May 2020, GorillaStack was acquired by the switzerland-based SoftwareOne.

Like its international competitors, GorillaStack moved from helping organisations monitor and optimise their Cloud spend, to monitoring the Cloud ecosystems for performance and security concerns. This recent announcement suggests that the next phase of growth for organisations in the Cloud cost optimisation space is not only to detect events in Cloud infrastructure, but also external services, and then apply rules to perform specific actions on those events. Such rules can not only automatically help reduce Cloud spend by enforcing financial governance directly into the Cloud infrastructure, but also helping to enforce security rules.

Who’s Impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

Cloud cost optimisation is already an important discipline for organisations with mature Cloud teams. Like software asset management (SAM), tools alone will not see organisations optimise their expenditure on Cloud services. An understanding of the disciplines required and setting up appropriate rules is needed. In addition, IBRS notes that many less-mature organisations have a ‘sprawl’ of Cloud services that need to first be identified and then reigned in before cost optimisations products can be fully effective. 

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. New Generation IT Service Management Tools Part 2: Multi-Cloud Management
  2. How to Get on Top of Cloud Billing
  3. Sourcing Monthly April 2020 – May 2020

The Latest

25 February 2021: Microsoft has announced a new industry Microsoft Cloud product suite. In short, Microsoft is pivoting to deliver vertical market Cloud offering for: Financial Services, Manufacturing, Non-profit and Retail on the back of the success with the Microsoft Healthcare Cloud. The primary purpose of these tailored industry solutions is to meet specific needs, breakdown silos and increase collaboration, productivity and efficiency within and across Industries.

Is this new or are we seeing a response to similar Cloud SaaS verticals from Salesforce and Netsuite?

Why it’s Important

Whether it is regulatory compliance or creating efficiencies, Microsoft is the latest to develop industry driven verticals offerings under the Microsoft Cloud banner. Whilst each MS Cloud solution addresses specific industry needs it also makes a concerted effort to take the existing Microsoft software products suites and add new capabilities to M365, Azure, Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Power Platform. 

This level of investment by Microsoft in Cloud specific solutions should reduce the need for industries to invest heavily in their own solutions and instead adopt a common off the shelf SaaS solution. But will this provide competitive advantage for industries or will it make everything vanilla over time. Microsoft is planning continuous engagement with Industry leaders to ensure constant innovation so the industry Clouds do not become a one size fits all, set and forget approach. 

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • CDO
  • Digital Supply Chain
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Software Architecture Leads

What’s Next?

Monitor the release of these industry specific Microsoft Cloud solutions in March 2021. As with Microsoft Power Platform products, much of the pricing remains a mystery for these Cloud offerings. By all means get access to release information and hopefully a private preview from March 2021 so you can see if the industry solution really meets your business needs.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Book at an advisory session to explore how Microsoft’s Strategy impacts your organisation
  2. Pros and Cons of Going All-In With Microsoft
  3. Google Workspace for Education - From Free to Fee
  4. Oracle’s new federal government Cloud capabilities

Conclusion:

This month, discussions regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous solutions have been prominent. As customers become aware of the potential benefits of adopting new solutions, vendors must be capable of clarifying the associated risks. This will allow vendors to respond to rising customer expectations, particularly when they require faster responses to change or have larger, more complex projects. When comparatively new solutions are sought after, but possess market gaps or perceived weaknesses, vendors must be prepared to cater to them and facilitate transparency with customers regarding the unknowns. This will assist with maintaining the integrity of offerings and supporting customer interactions. While the failure to adopt new solutions quickly can result in disadvantages in the market, vendors need to exercise caution. Premature adoption without sufficient strategic planning, analysis as well as transparency with customers can result in unforeseen and negative outcomes.

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The Latest

15 February 2021: IBM has unveiled the new Power Private Cloud (PPC) Rack solution which offers converged infrastructure with a focus on migrating legacy on-premises apps running on its POWER9/AIX systems to a Cloud-like infrastructure.

What’s Included

The PPC is effectively pre-built, pre-configured Cloud-like infrastructure for running containers. 

The PPC Rack consists of three POWER System S922 servers with 20 CPU cores, 256GB of RAM, and 3.2TB of local storage, the FlashSystem 5200, with a minimum of 9.6TB,  and twin SAN24B-6 switches with 24 Fibre Channel ports. The solution is pre-installed with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, IBM PowerVM Enterprise Edition, IBM Cloud PowerVC Manager, Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, and Red Hat OpenShift OpenShift Container Storage (OCS).

Why it’s Important

IBM’s new offer is effectively a container-centric, Cloud-like hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) similar to that offered by HPE, Dell, Lenovo, VMware, and Nutanix. More importantly, IBM is offering this at an easy target - its existing customers with legacy POWER9/AIX/i solutions looking to migrate to a Cloud-like environment with OpenStack.

For IBM clients, it presents a low-risk opportunity for extending the life of legacy applications, while modernising the environment. 

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

Organisations moving legacy solutions into hyperscale Cloud infrastructure (IaaS) to meet the objectives of ‘Cloud first’ strategies have found that the proposed cost savings are not always present, and operational risks due to skills shortages can emerge. The rise of next-generation hyperconverged offering Cloud-like management is a response to this challenge. 

IBM’s new offering shows how this grandfather of the industry, with a massive backlog of legacy solutions, will seek to re-secure its client’s investment in solutions, while smoothing the transition to Cloud-like architectures. 

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. VENDORiQ: Woolworths Selects Dell Technologies Cloud to deploy hybrid Cloud strategy
  2. Running IT-as-a-Service Part 49: The case for hybrid Cloud migration
  3. Running IT-as-a-Service Part 50: Hybrid Cloud migration – Where is the money saving?

The Latest

17 February 2021: Google Apigee announced the release of Apigee X, its latest edition of its API management solution.

Why it’s Important

IBRS has found that the topic of APIs has moved out of the boiler room to the boardroom. During a series of roundtables with CEOs, CFOs and Heads of HR in late 2019, IBRS noted that many of these executives were advocates for ‘API enabled enterprise solutions’. Upon further questioning, these non-technical executives were able to accurately describe the core concepts and purposes of APIs. Much of their knowledge had come from engagements with combined SalesForce / Mulesoft sales teams. During 2020, the demand for rapid digitisation of processes with low-code platforms further raised the profile of API usage.

Expectations for APIs are high. Meeting those expectations demands a structured approach to management of APIs, and the ability to report on their usage. 

Who’s impacted

  • CTO
  • Software development teams

What’s Next?

Consider how the topic of APIs - which many executives see as critical for evolving business functions, or even a building block of digital transform efforts, needs to be communicated within the organisation. Explore how the adoption of low-code platforms both within and tangential to the ICT group will further expand the use of APIs. If not already available, put in place a roadmap for the introduction of API management capabilities, factoring both governance issues and supporting technologies.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Architectures for Mobilised Enterprise Applications
  2. Running IT-as-a-Service Part 15: Traditional enterprise architecture is irrelevant to digital transformation
  3. IBRSiQ: Can IBRS advise on the pros and cons of best of breed combined EAM/ERP vs fully integrated ERP/EAM?
  4. The impact of Software-as-a-Service on enterprise solutions: Why you must run IT-as-a-Service
  5. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) Part 2: Planning the ERP strategy for modernisation
  6. How to succeed with eforms Part 4: Selection framework
  7. Making the case for enterprise architecture

The Latest

16 February 2021: Veeam continues to expand its footprint across the hyperscale Cloud vendors with the introduction of Veeam Backup for Google Cloud Platform. This follows its December 2020 announcement when Veeam announced the general availability of AWS v3 Backup and Azure v4 Backup. As a result, Veeam now provides backup and recover capabilities across - and just as importantly between - the three major hyperscale Cloud vendors. 

Why it’s Important

During a briefing with IBRS, Veeam detailed its strong growth in the Asia Pacific region. It also discussed its strategy for providing backup and recovery capabilities over the major hyperscale Cloud services: Azure, AWS and Google. The demand for Cloud backup and recovery is growing with greater recognition organisations adopting hybrid Cloud (the most likely future state for many organisations) demands more consistent and consolidated approaches to management - including backup and migration of data between Clouds. VMWare is seeing growth in its hybrid Cloud management capabilities as well, and the synergy between Veeam and VMWare productions is no coincidence.  

Who’s Impacted

  • Cloud architects
  • Business continuity teams

What’s Next?

Backing up Cloud resources appears to be a simple process. Taken on as service-by-service, this might be true. However, in reality the backup becomes increasingly challenging. As more and more applications are made up of a myriad of components, this leads to a rapidly evolving ecosystem of solutions. Hence, data recovery and restoration are also getting more complex. This is further exacerbated by the growing adoption of hybrid Cloud. 

Organisations need to explore backup and recovery based on not only current state Cloud architecture, but possible migration between Cloud services and where different integrated applications reside on different Cloud platforms.

Related IBRS Advisory

Conclusion:

While discussions regarding industry trends and customer priority shifts have remained prominent this month, vendor innovation in light of expected growth has also been a focus. In particular, managed service providers required to innovate beyond evolving technologies to include hybrid and integrated offering structures, effective business operations and external sources to support vendor growth. The need to access external sources for funding, skills, offerings and client base has become apparent. The demand for improved internal frameworks to allow for hybrid solutions, offering delivery and customer interactions has also been flagged. Accelerated activity in a critical and complex industry requires vendors to continue to provide high quality, innovative service provision frameworks in order to remain competitive.

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Observations: In theory, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) technology enables organisations to be nimble, providing flexible, remote working and (for some use cases) more cost-effective deployment of digital workspaces. Recent events and technology advances have tested this theory and spawned several major changes. The rush to cater for remote working has increased adoption to Cloud-based VDI for ‘burst workloads’, at least in the short term. The need to quickly address scalability issues for organisations that had previously invested in VDI has favoured increased sales of hyperconverged solutions.

Longer term, organisations are looking to leverage VDI to enable compute and data-intensive tasks while keeping information ‘inside the data centre’. Some organisations – especially in financial services – are looking to expand previous VDI experiments to transform workplaces and service delivery models.

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Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding expected industry trends in 2021 have been prominent. In particular, the growth of providers that support digital transformation projects and associated infrastructure, as well as security, Cloud services and automation tools. This growth is expected to be driven by industry shifts resulting from COVID-19 and the need to adapt to new operating environments and business processes. Vendors are preparing for heightened activity and expanding offerings to cater to customer needs. Customers will require integrated vendor services that respond to external issues, internal business changes, and the adoption of new technologies and frameworks to improve efficiencies.

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The Latest

8 Dec 2020: Veeam announced the general availability of AWS v3 Backup. This is a timely endeavour with the continuous growth of multi-faceted Cloud apps built in AWS that necessitates backup and disaster recovery solutions.

Veeam offers automated backup and disaster recovery solutions that provide additional protection and management capabilities for Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS. There are two options to consider:

  • Veeam Backup for AWS - protects data housed on AWS using its standalone AWS backup and recovery solution.
  • Veeam Backup & Replication™ - safeguards and consolidates AWS backup and recovery with another Cloud, virtual or physical, across different Cloud platforms with unlimited data portability. 

Why it’s Important

Cloud backups are no longer an option. Competition now requires additional redundancy and security for businesses. This ensures that their important data is available and retrievable if and when disasters strike.

Backing up Cloud resources appears to be a simple process. Taken on as service-by-service, this might be true. However, in reality the backup becomes increasingly challenging. As more and more applications are made up of a myriad of components, this leads to a rapidly evolving ecosystem of solutions. Hence, data recovery and restoration are also getting more complex.

Who’s Impacted

  • Cloud architects
  • Business continuity teams

What’s Next?

Tech management should explore which Cloud services, both IaaS and SaaS, need to be backed up. Establish strategies and choose the appropriate interplay between these services. For a growing Cloud usage or a forecast usage growth, evaluate how the services can be backed up reliably. This is possible through knowing beforehand the important parts that may be reconstructed into a recovered state if needed. 

Related IBRS Advisory

Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding managed service provider expansion plans, both locally and globally, have been prominent. A number of vendors are expanding bases and offerings, and acquiring skills in preparation for heightened customer demand across areas in the Asia-Pacific region, with a particular focus on digital transformation initiatives. The need for customers to transform and optimise operational frameworks as well as transition workloads has driven a range of mergers, acquisitions and site establishment projects in new markets. Customer demand for assistance with navigating and transitioning during difficult periods is high, but vendors must also prepare to accommodate shifts in buying behaviour resulting from the market growth which is expected to follow.

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Conclusion: In today’s marketplace, a successful business needs to position itself strategically to be a leader in the market by either delivering services better and cheaper than the competition, or by disrupting the status quo to deliver services in a different way that empowers the consumer. To achieve this, organisations need to ensure their procurement plans are aligned with the business strategy and, where appropriate, identify in the ICT sphere where procurement is important strategically.

Organisations therefore need to identify the value a supply chain delivers to the business strategy. In doing so, the executive needs to understand the procurement activities that provide an advantage to the business in the marketplace, and which procurements may lead to a broader alliance with the supplier where mutual gain is possible to all parties involved.

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IBRS advisor Dr Wissam Raffoul, who specialises in transforming IT groups into service organisations, said legacy tech stacks had a lot of 'single point failures' which could bring whole systems to their knees.

Full story.

IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

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Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding a heightened demand for managed security services have been prominent – in particular, around vulnerability and penetration assessments, mitigation frameworks, response and recovery protocols, as well as response consolidation and training. Customers have long recognised the need to ensure systems are protected from inappropriate access. However, internal business preparedness, recovery and continuity plans have caused vulnerabilities in the past. A greater number, frequency and awareness of security incidents have prompted vendors to integrate security services with a customer’s business operations and business preparedness plans, with a focus on response and continuity. This has resulted in the provision of high-quality offerings, delivery models and ongoing support, with an increased customer adoption and integration with existing business operations.

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Conclusion: To respond to the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia, organisations are left with no alternative but to improve their internal efficiency to continue meeting their committed service levels while facing a constant drop in headcount1. However, sustaining the efficiency gains once acquired requires high-availability and efficient services that meet business operations imperatives. This demands avoiding outages that require significant manual effort to recover services while dealing with possible embarrassment in the media. IT organisations should develop a risk profile for every critical service and alert the possible exposures to business executives. The focus of the risk profile is to avoid increased overheads while maintaining service levels. The outcome should be a mitigation strategy that is acceptable to business executives, clients, business partners and government agencies.

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Conclusion: All organisations need to identify the value of their procurement portfolio. That is, to document and regularly review the portfolio to understand both the criticality of the contracts to business and the triggers that decide whether the technology is meeting the need and when actions need to be put in place to limit the risk to the business in the acquisition process.

With an improved situational awareness of the procurement portfolio, organisations then need to ensure alignment with the business strategy. The alignment can only be achieved with regular independent reviews, and by effective governance processes to ensure that the risk associated with procurement planning is contained.

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Conclusion: At the start of 2020, businesses had carefully-devised strategies in place which had been put together the year before. The onslaught of the global pandemic has either put these strategies to the test or caused them to be scrapped completely. The coronavirus has imposed changes everywhere we look and across different industries. Some businesses were forced to close shop. Others have been on a path of fast-tracked innovation and transformation. Before the pandemic, organisational behaviour had been structured to usher in growth and expansion. Although these are still valid goals, another factor has been added and that is survival.

With an economic crisis looming, consumer behaviour will inevitably change. Building and rebuilding the business requires its executives to be resilient and agile. A change in mindset is key. Alternative perspectives are relevant in pivoting in this new normal. After the period of adjustment has set in, managing IT may look different from how things were previously done.

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IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

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Conclusion: As-a-Service solutions offer organisations agility, flexibility and scalability but the graveyard of unused software piling up should ring alarm bells. Neglected software utilisation and compliance will be factors that should drive a new Software Asset Management (SAM) investment. The impact of an unmanaged Cloud SaaS or IaaS solution will be quickly revealed during audits. At a time when management is a focus, this should be an easy win.

Organisations will need to quickly identify if they are running single or multi-tenanted instances and whether production and non-production environments are being managed efficiently for the purposes of SAM product selection.

Selecting a SAM tool should be proportionate to the cost of non-compliance. Unmitigated software licence costs can be eye-watering. Consider these factors when selecting your SAM product for Information Technology Asset Management (ITAM):

  1. Data points
  2. Software overspend
  3. Inefficiency
  4. Compliance

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Conclusion: In the modern world, no organisation has ICT entirely in-sourced. As a result, procurement, contract and vendor management have become strategic processes that allow organisations to align their ICT capability with the business strategy to achieve the desired outcomes, both now and into the future.

It is often the case that effective planning for the procurement of technology capability is compressed or constrained such that procurement is not able to effect ‘big step’ change. Or the commercial approach means the agreement is based on a fixed term, which results in the procurement not being a strategic exercise. More often than not, the procurement delivers constraints that limit the business’s ability to achieve the desired outcomes. These constraints limit the business’s ability to be agile in terms of elasticity, or how well it can respond to disruption in the market.

The technology options to meet business demand are not the same today as they were yesterday, and they will undoubtedly differ tomorrow. The challenge is to ensure ICT procurement is responsive to the business strategy, and that vendors share in the advantage a strategic alliance brings to the business. Procurement needs to be effectively planned and clearly aligned to the business strategy to ensure the strategy is delivered effectively.

This paper is the first in a four-part series on how to ensure procurement meets the business need, gain an understanding of strategic versus tactical procurement, and will define the steps necessary to avoid the pitfalls that cause procurements to under-deliver.

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Conclusion: This month, there has been an increased focus on the impact of external environments and customer demands on managed services providers and their offerings. An increased demand for hybrid working solutions, remote operations and connectivity solutions has driven a greater demand for associated services such as security, Cloud and platforms. Customers have been searching for targeted and combined solutions to help address business needs and increase operational efficiencies. For those vendors that put an emphasis on meaningful customer relationships and interactions, maintaining open and clear communications and the capacity to adapt to client needs is critical. A customer with a heavy reliance on legacy systems for key business processes may find this raises challenges or is simply no longer feasible in the current climate. Service providers must be ready to work with clients that need to adapt or completely overhaul in order to provide the necessary support in difficult times. 

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Conclusion: As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia, many businesses’ income has been reduced, approximately 800,000 people have been made redundant and the IT budget has been significantly cut. IT organisations are left with no alternative but to improve their internal efficiency to continue meeting their committed service levels while facing a constant drop in headcount. To survive under these budget limitations during the next two years, IT must focus on efficiency quick wins that opt to reduce costs, automate highly manual activities and mitigate critical risk that may lead to service breakdowns, which in turn require significant human effort to rectify. The quick wins should be implemented within 18 months to realise the desired effect. An efficiency improvement task force should be established to make it all happen. 

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Conclusion: In August 2020, IBRS ran a roundtable on the issue of Microsoft Support service, and specifically options for obtaining services in the most effective manner. 

The replacement of Microsoft's traditional Premier Support programs for its Unified Support program is well underway. For many organisations, the new program is a strong fit, offering a wide range of services and unlimited reactive support inquiries for a fee that is directly proportional to their Microsoft software and platform investment.  

However, for others, the program is not an ideal or cost-effective fit. During the roundtable, 16 peers shared their stories of how they have approached Microsoft support in the new era and a set of practical recommendations was developed. 

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Conclusion: The massive shift to working from home since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to upsides for employees: more flexibility, no commute and greater productivity. Many executives have been publicly extolling the virtues of remote working. However, a number of management, cultural and work design issues are now starting to emerge. Organisations need to review their current workplace design and practices and prepare for a hybrid home-office workplace post-pandemic.

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