POSTED ON June, 30 2020

In a year when business plans are changing day to day, businesses are assessing on a more regular basis how they are performing. 

Strategic planners are discussing where they can improve on efficiency while keeping a close eye on costs. They are looking at their IT infrastructure which has been tested in every way possible over the past few months in these unprecedented times. Flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances is something that all organisations need, and many are without. A key question being raised right now is “should we move to the cloud?”. Many are fearful of the cloud as it takes the control off site and away from them. The key questions they are asking are how secure it is, how their user experience will change and how will moving to the cloud affect the cost of running their business.  

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These are all excellent questions! To put this into context, data is exploding over the last number of years and it is predicted by 2025 the world data volumes will increase to 175ZB. Traditionally much of the data in existence has not been used for any value or benefit, however, computational capabilities in the cloud are now enabling organisations of all sizes to leverage the data they have in new innovative ways. There are a lot more cutting-edge approaches to leveraging this data with deep learning and new AI approaches, so processing power is vital in order to facilitate this level of research. A 2018 survey from data centre firm Equinix revealed that 64pc of the Irish respondents believe moving their company's business functions to the cloud is in the foreseeable future. Irish businesses expect their data volumes to surge by 72pc, according to a 2018 survey of more than 1,200 IT leaders across EMEA. 

 

Let’s start at the beginning. For those of you not aware, Cloud migration is the process of moving data, applications or other business elements to a cloud computing environment. Business leaders recognise the enormous benefits that Cloud can offer including increased business agility, lower IT Infrastructure costs, increased productivity, and reliability to name just a few.  However, as we said above not all of us fully understand Cloud and have concerns. 

It is important to recognise that existing systems that companies have may still have value and can be married with newer cloud-based technologies to provide quick, affordable and comprehensive IT solutions tailored to your needs. From a cost perspective you pay for what you use. You no longer have the capital expenditure associated with a physical server. Infrastructure is moved to the cloud.  

 

Business strategy can vary significantly by enterprise – even within a single industry. It is crucial that, as the enterprise architecture and technology innovation leader, your cloud strategy aligns with your organisation’s business strategy.” Gartner 

 

What are the key elements to consider around the end user when migrating to the Cloud? We will take a look at 3 key areas: user identity, user security and user experience. When it comes to Identity, cloud offers a lot more protection around applications and services that will require modern authentication. Identity is important as 81% of breaches are caused by credential theft. People reuse passwords because it is easier for the user. 73% of passwords are duplicates. 80% of employees are using non-approved apps for work.  

 

The second key area is User Security, in the Cloud key features include: 

  • Single sign on, very helpful for those who have multiple work applications.  
  • Self-service Password reset (SSPR) - Network Operation Centre’s have advised 25% of support queries are from users who need to reset their passwords. Having SSPR eliminates this support request where users can reset passwords themselves.  
  • Password protection – users can reset their password and use something that is secure. Passwords can have certain elements included in them to make them more secure than someone using a password that they use for every app they use, work related or not.  
  • Password-less login (Microsoft hello) as a user being able to login to my device using facial recognition or fingerprint. More convenient and works very well 
  • Two-Factor (2FA) or Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is an additional security layer for your business – helping to address the vulnerabilities of a standard password-only approach. If a user from your organisation is travelling and login the MFA kicks in, it is fast and secure.   
  • Device Auto Enrolment –a user laptop at home breaks, and you have no new devices available for the user, they can use another device they have from home to login to their Microsoft account and have access to all they need for work purposes. It makes the process more efficient than waiting for a device to be order, delivered and set up.  
  • Self Service encryption recover – this means the user is secure where they are and efficient. The user works smarter and can do their job effectively.  
  • Vulnerabilities and risky accounts detention – if the user account has been compromised, it will flag to IT and it won’t let them login to sensitive information.  
  • Risk based conditional access policies. Most users have a normal behaviour that can be tracked, when they fall outside of this norm it could be risky to allow them to just sign in. You may want to block that user or maybe just ask them to perform multi-factor authentication to prove that they are really who they say they are. 

 

When it comes to user experience, users can access their work applications easier and more securely. Working from home has become the norm for many right now. INNOVATE understand that every organisation in every sector is different and their team assess each client on how the Cloud could affect their business and what would work best for the end user. They take into consideration the type of client, Web or full Client. Where are the users accessing the information from? Is it a local desktop, remote desktop or windows virtual desktop?  It is about building consistent experience across multiple devices.  

  • Bring your own device  everyone in your office can work off different devices depending on what the user prefers to use giving the user a consistent experience. 
  • Central Software deployment  allows you to keep all devices in sync. If you login to outlook on your tablet or on your desktop, you have the same information on both  
  • Password-less login  

 

From a management point of view, if you move to Microsoft Azure, you have access to the reporting platform Power BI, a tool that can help unlock decision making in your business Power BI puts information about your business to the forefront for key business decision making. In 2020 Gartner considered Microsoft a key player for BI and analytics, moving the platform above its competitors in terms of completeness of vision and from an ability to execute perspective. 

 

One of the key features of Power BI is its ability to gather information from multiple data sources and multiple data types and putting all this information together. Across your business you can use Power BI to report within all your departments. In the case of INNOVATE, they use Power BI for Marketing, Sales, Projects, Service and Finance. Each department requiring different analytic support. 

Azure reporting

One such report they give their customers is an Azure monthly cost insight report which gives them an analysis of their monthly azure costs and what the drivers of those costs are, enabling them to identify potential savings and to be confident they can have control when their data resides in the cloud  

 

The benefits certainly outweigh the risks when it comes to moving to the Cloud. A worthwhile exercise is to assess your data needs and ask are you ready to move? If you would like to engage with a member of the INNOVATE team to understand your suitability of moving to the Cloud and how it could benefit your organisation, contact ask@innovate.ie www.innovate.ie  

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