Cloud – Azured
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Azured makes it easy…To protect the home office.?

When we consider home office security, we’re talking identities, devices and data. There’s a whole lot of stuff going on around our kitchen tables at the moment that should probably be a bit more secure than it currently is…

You can imagine the challenges… Your Finance Director needs access to your accounting software – and that contains some supersensitive data. Your Sales Director has a client presentation and needs to access the client’s history. Your CEO doesn’t have the right permissions to see the data they need. And then there’s Geoff the admin assistant, who can log in – and access EVERYTHIING… And he hasn’t updated his anti-virus software since 2008. You get the picture…

We’ve put together a short video to explain how our smorgasbord of solutions provide enterprise grade security – within the budget of SMEs.

And that’s not all folks… we’re offering a free security assessment in February and March. No obligation, naturally. But if we can help, you can bet your meatballs we will.

PS. If you do like the sound of a free security assessment, drop us a message and we’ll be in touch.

CASE STUDY: Hyve Group?

No one works in isolation in any business, but in the aptly named Hyve Group plc, a FTSE 250 international trade show organiser, the need to join forces is intrinsic. The company operates a highly collaborative environment sharing ideas and opportunities between teams. With 1,200 workers in 13 countries focused on delivering innovative and dynamic events around the world, its need for a flexible, collaborative IT environment made it a strong candidate for digital transformation.

“Azured deliver more, for less. An environment that is more cost effective – and a service with greater security that is more reliable and easier to manage. Our global team, operating in 13 countries, went home Friday evening and came back Monday morning and everything was in place, ready for us to start working.”

Keith O’Hara, Group Technology and Information Director, Hyve

The challenges of multi-platform identity migration – with unreliable data…

As a consequence of growth through acquisition Hyve’s international footprint was made complex by different IT architectures. They naturally ran multiple applications – some shared, some not – and inevitably maintained multiple identity platforms, with all the complexity that implies for user, device and application identity management.

Hyve approached Azured to lead the project, knowing that it has specific and deep expertise in identity migration – one of the central challenges of the project. Acting as lead architect for the transformation, Azured assembled a team of project specialists whose knowledge and skills are not normally found in-house among client IT departments.

In crafting the solution, the core objective was that everyone on Hyve’s creative teams around the world should be able to use a single sign-on to virtually all the applications they need, from all the devices they use during the transition and after completion.

Given the complexity of the existing state, it would be a tall order for any specialist IT consultancy, but is firmly in the home territory of Azured. The confused state of the identity data made it unfeasible to consolidate into an existing directory services system.

Shaping a seamless single sign-on solution

Azured suggested it would be more favourable to migrate into a new hybrid identity platform (both on-premise and cloud-based). To do so would also be consistent with the planned move to cloud-based infrastructure for applications available across the enterprise.

To manage the migration, Azured would need to analyse the source platforms and remediate its data, removing duplicates (typically multiple identical objects in different identity platforms), cleaning up incorrect entries, deleting obsolete identity objects – for all its people and devices, current and past. It is a challenge that appears more straightforward in the description than in practice, when you bear in mind that each one of Hyve’s people might have more than fifty applications for which her log in needs to work, and consequently multiple objects relating to that identity must be migrated.

The Azured approach is marked by its attention to the device identities as well as the users of those devices. As an object of the user’s identity, everything she uses has identity data that must be recorded and moved into the new platform for it all to work as seamlessly as the brief required, namely, a single sign-on experience to everything: devices, networks, applications, permissions.

To guarantee all would be operating perfectly on the Monday morning after the migration, Azured created a simulated environment in a lab. The team focused on the critical applications first, analysing each device type (laptops and desktops) to understand the relationship between the user and the device, its operating system, and the applications the user needs to access.

Azured used a combination of scripts and software to iteratively interrogate the identity data, remediating it where it was inconsistent with the new platform in a lab simulation. The lab approach refines the migration process by continually analysing devices, applications and identities to arrive at a stable setup.

Streamlined. Secure. Cheaper? Sorry, did you just say, cheaper?

The migration was completed in a year, with the switch over achieving the Azured target of 72 hours downtime over one weekend, with critical systems such as mail and messaging only being off-line for a few hours overnight.

The identities for all Hyve’s people and its devices are in the new identity management system giving them uninterrupted access to all the applications they need. While holding all identity information in the new system Azured was also able, during the transition, to make accessible legacy applications whose server identities still reside in the old system. Azured were able to demonstrate that it was more cost effective to leave some of the legacy applications in the old world – having remediated it, than to migrate them to the new environment, saving Hyve significant sums of money.

The success of the project can be in part attributed to the technical solution, but also to the management of the project team and the relationship between Azured and the Group IT Director at Hyve. Hyve kept Azured operating at arm’s length, allowing the team to analyse, test, simulate and craft the solution to the IT brief, free from outside influence.

The net result for Hyve is not only a more easily managed identity system within a cloud-based IT architecture, but greater flexibility, more security, and ease of use to enable its people to collaborate more effectively between teams and across borders. The control the organisation now has over access and permissions is far greater, giving them a stronger sense of security and reduced risk.

Microsoft’s security evolution?

Microsoft traditionally had left security to its partners and as someone who has been involved in the Microsoft stack for almost 20 years, I’ve been in an interesting position, watching their approach transform and change in line with business conditions.

But this isn’t the first time Microsoft has evolved their position…

When Hyper-V, Microsoft’s “free” enterprise grade hypervisor, was initially released, the product was only used by the most die hard of Microsoft organisations (read: bundled within their Enterprise Agreement) and cost-conscious of small businesses. It seemed to be years behind the clear market leader at the time, VMware.

At the time I knew of only a handful of big customers that had taken the plunge into Hyper-V (with its management friend, VMM) and I would only hear of problems emanating from their support teams, citing; a lack of functionality, “undocumented features” and an absence of those quality-of-life features we had taken for granted from VMWare. Simply stated, the early days of Hyper-V were troubled.

Yet, Hyper-V persevered, with Microsoft’s development team putting in the work over the years to overcome the seemingly insurmountable challenge that lay in front of them. Work that would later form the foundation for Azure’s hypervisor layer and a staple for businesses running on-premises virtualised workloads.

With an aggressive pricing strategy (free) and a slow but steady iterative cycle, the immature product eventually narrowed the gap between its market leading bigger brother. Today the differences between the big players have narrowed with Hyper-V providing the majority of what an average customer needs, minus the premium price of the market leader; a tough proposition to resist. 

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win” – Nicholas Klein

Why do I tell this story? Because I see an all too familiar parallel with Microsoft’s security story. The quiet development of services (with a focus on identity and reporting), building upon Microsoft’s existing capability within Mobile Device Management (MDM) and recognising their position in most organisations as the binding glue between services (Azure AD and ADDS). A quiet development that would see Microsoft’s outward view of security evolve as it moved from security being an optional bolt-on (EM+S) to an intrinsic part of their service (Microsoft 365).


Coupled with the billions of investment they put into their ongoing security efforts, it became relatively easy to see why Microsoft had become an “overnight success” within the field and has the established security providers more than a little bit uncomfortable.

But here is why I think Microsoft’s security story is going to be successful for the average punter: Microsoft’s journey will mirror your own.

Microsoft has targeted the average organisation, not just the fortune 500 or the big 4 banks. It’s developed its offering for everyone, no matter how small, with a service that grows with you, allowing you to chose what works, discard what doesn’t and all the while providing bigger businesses with what they need. They did this by solving the problems you’re going to face, and doing it at a price that will get your attention. 
That’s why Microsoft’s Security offering not only will work, but why it IS working.

This article was written by Anthony Koochew, Founder & CEO of Azured in Australia. Anthony is an Architect with over 10 years of experience helping clients realise the most value from Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and EMS. View Anthony’s full profile. You can read the original post, and more from Anthony and the team over in Australia, here.

Small steps to digital transformation?

For SMEs thinking about digital transformation, making small changes and taking small steps is a good strategy to take. This approach provides greater control and flexibility…and, well, feels a whole lot less overwhelming, too. As Chris Sims, Managing Director of Commercial and Marketing at BT, puts it “You can avoid developing things your customers don’t want and you’ll find it easier to respond to market changes as they arise“. Wise words, those.

https://business.bt.com/insights/the-future-is-now/ten-ways-to-drive-digital-transformation

#digitaltransformation #cloud #remoteworking #securenetworks #SME #BT

10 ways to digitally transform your business?

Digital transformation may sound a lot like hard work. And it can be. But it can also solve a whole host of problems for many years to come. The swift move to remote working has highlighted the true value of digital technologies…some businesses have flourished in the new world, but others haven’t fared so well.

Managing Director of Commercial and Marketing at @BT, Chris Sims, believes “there’s never been a better time to start the process of digital transformation”. And we quite agree.

Chris has put together a brilliant post on how to digitally transform your business which is a great starting point for anyone looking to begin their journey…

Think security. Think big.?

Security is a big thing for us. That’s one reason why we like partnering with Microsoft. They live it and love it as much as we do. Since 2010, the folk over in their Digital Crimes Unit have collaborated with law enforcement and other partners on 23 malware disruptions…with a staggering 500 million devices rescued out of the hands of cybercriminals.

We think that’s pretty impressive.

If you’re wondering if your security is fit for purpose, get in touch to arrange a free AzuredUK security assessment. We’ll even send you a list of things to consider beforehand so you get the most out of your session. Unfortunately, you’ll have to supply your own biscuits…

Partnership, collaboration and how to do it – by BT and VMware VeloCloud?

We’re only, ahem, 20 days into January but the two words that I’m seeing again and again are partnership and collaboration. In this short clip, Scott Cowling, Director of Network Services at BT, and Sanjay Uppal, of VMware and co-founder of VeloCloud, talk about their strong partnership and how it is key to the successful delivery of impactful solutions for their customers.

The full webinar about the benefits of cloud and the right SD-WAN strategy is here.

Global Skills initiative supports digital recovery?

The last 11 months have brought about drastic change and multiple challenges on a global scale. Nobody really knows what things will look like six months on from here. But one thing’s for sure, the world will never go back to how it was pre-Covid-19.

As a response to this, Global Skills was launched in June 2020 with Microsoft, LinkedIn and GitHub collaborating on an initiative to help 25 million people worldwide gain the digital skills needed in a Covid19 economy. In just seven months, the initiative has reached more than 13 million learners – from 231 countries and territories.

We think that’s worth shouting about!

Read the full article on the Microsoft blog.

Enter Cloud and SASE?

Technology has become increasingly democratic and accessible. Consumers are more savvy and are using tech differently. Services like Facebook and Gmail have shown the world that whether you’re at home, work or anywhere in-between – you can enjoy the same experience. And the more consumers know and understand, the more questions are being asked and expectations are being raised.

And the industry responded. Enter cloud and SASE.

Read Anthony’s full article.

It’s time to get SASE!?

Secure Access Service Edge (or SASE – pronounced “sassy”) is an emerging cybersecurity concept. Gartner predict that by 2024, 40% of companies will be looking to adopt SASE. So it’s going to be an exciting few years! For businesses looking to move their systems over to the cloud and improve their network security, it’s time to get SASE. Read Anthony’s full article.

I’ve been sharing an article from my colleague, Anthony, who describes it as “a collection of technologies and ideas (old and new) built upon a central assumption that users will be disparate, services will be cloud delivered and identity is king”.

#Networking #Security #WorkingFromHome #Gartner #AzuredUK #SASE #Cybersecurity #Cloud #CloudFirst