Riding the Information Wave: IoT and Big Data Analytics

Max Chan, Vice President, Global Information Solutions, Avnet Technology Solutions Asia Pacific

IoT and its uses in actionThere have been a number of exciting developments around the Internet of Things at Avnet lately.  First, we kicked off the calendar year 2016 announcing a newly created role of vice president, Internet of Things in the person of Eric Williams, who will steer the company’s global IoT strategy. The previous year, Tim FitzGerald who had led Avnet’s Cloud Solutions business, was appointed vice president of digital transformation. These key appointments underscore our steadfast commitment to investing in the right resources to capitalise on the opportunities in the rapidly growing IoT market.

Read More…

Posted under Big data, Internet of Things (IoT), IT infrastructure

Effective security is more than an insurance policy – it’s a business enabler

Christian Curtis, sales director at Avnet Technology Solutions UK takes a look at how to sell the business benefits of IT security

Security is vital; the threat landscape has evolved beyond lone hackers or small groups breaching networks. Cyber crime is organised, it is big business and has spawned a huge underground economy. Attacks are often targeted, sophisticated and inherently malicious.

We understand and recognize that security is essential and that not everyone who wants to access a corporate network has good intentions, however, the doom mongering can be overwhelming. Security solution companies and channel partners could and should adopt a more positive approach to selling IT security. It is not an easy task and regular stories in the industry and by the media around high profile breaches tend to reinforce the fear and dread message in people’s minds. That said, selling security only on the merits of negativity seems counter-productive and unnecessary.

Read More…

Posted under IT infrastructure, Security

Now is the time to consolidate corporate data

Miriam Murphy, senior vice president, enterprise business group at Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA

Miriam Murphy, senior vice president, enterprise business group at Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA

Now is the time to consolidate corporate data says Miriam Murphy, senior vice president, enterprise business group at Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA.

As data volumes surge, Miriam believes organisations need to implement a centralised data management system to handle the information economy.

Today’s C-level executives are working hard to deal with the challenges of new trends such as BYOD, Mobile Device Management (MDM) and cloud computing causing an explosion of data. According to IDC, the big data market will reach €11.8bn ($16.1bn) this year. To harness the power of big data, I believe companies need to consider enterprise-wide consolidation to address business demands, including cost efficiency, increasing productivity, security and flexibility. These market needs will lead to the transformation of the data centre which is something partners and resellers need to be aware of so they don’t miss out on growth opportunities.

The consumerisation of IT, increasing numbers of users, more devices and increased mobility are affecting the way companies approach their data centre strategies, with the increasing volume of corporate data pushing the storage environment to a new level. During Q3 2013 the storage market generated 101% more storage capacity than the same quarter in 2012. This ever-increasing capacity of corporate data amount of data needs to be backed up and securely stored, so that it is easily accessible to employees. Because of these trends, companies are searching for storage solutions to meet real life business demands – it’s not simply “one size fits all”. According to Gartner, the importance, role and functionality of the data centre is set to change over the next five years. The questions we as a global value added distributor are asking are: which storage solution will be able to cope with both current and future storage demands? As data volume is only going to grow, which solution can most effectively solve key business demands?

Today, IT departments are being asked to do more with less, increasing availability and responsiveness while cutting costs. However, according to recent research from KPMG, 42% of executives admit that integrating data technology into existing systems and/or business models is their greatest challenge. On speaking with our partners and end customers, it seems that by consolidating data into one centralised database, you are assured a holistic view of global information, which is manageable from a single location. In addition, with so much information being accessed from numerous geographies, it’s ineffectual for data to be shared and duplicated across multiple databases. With one, centralised system, no redundancy is allowed; there is one place to add, update and remove data, maintaining data integrity and assuring simplified data administration.

By centralising corporate data, productivity can be improved and training is a much quicker and simpler practice. With all processes in the same place and format, users have just one system to understand, which saves time on training and improves efficiency in retrieving data. There’s also no time wasted waiting for synchronisation across different geographies and instant changes can be made to information which lowers occurrences of data duplication and inaccuracies.

Indeed, the data centre is the central point of an IT infrastructure, the place where all sensitive, confidential information is gathered. Therefore, it’s a place where security solutions need to be extremely efficient. By approaching data management with a single corporate database, not only are updates synced but so are all security measures, from one central location. By employing a preventive approach and only giving certain staff authorised access to update security measures, businesses can reduce the chance of successful hacking attacks.

Market and industry trends are changing the world of work, driving companies to not just improve but to transform their approach to business processes and data centre management. I believe that by implementing a centralised data system, companies will be able to address the need to store increasingly large volumes of corporate data, while meeting business needs such as increased productivity and reduced costs. Partners and resellers need to start educating end users about preparing now for the continuous surge in data volumes by putting an effective, reliable and flexible management strategy in place.

Posted under IT infrastructure

SaaS and the cloud: the channel should look to service provider models

Director Cloud Practice (EMEA)

Kevin Collins, Director Cloud Practice (EMEA)

SaaS (Software as a Service) and the cloud is in a state of flux at the moment with traditional hardware vendors delivering converged solutions to service providers who in turn are looking to grow their IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). At the same time independent software vendors are looking to move their products to SaaS to meet increasing customer demands.

 

Gartner recently reported that 71 percent of organisations in 10 countries have been using SaaS for less than three years. According to the research, investments in SaaS are expected to increase across all regions; 77 percent of respondents expected to increase spending, while 17 percent planned to keep it stable.

Licence to SaaS

The interest in SaaS comes with end users seeing the benefit in not holding onto a lot of software licences for long periods of time. They now want to be able to use the right quantity of licences ‘on demand.’ If they’re increasing the size of their workforce, they want to easily be able to upscale their licences. The industry is beginning to look to a ‘pay-as-you-go’ approach through SaaS – something service providers have been doing for years and have had plenty of success implementing.

 

Dispelling SaaS myths

Implementing the SaaS model is not necessarily a ‘cheaper’ solution but what it can do is focus finances exactly where they’re needed. A company can reduce licence expenditure in ineffective areas of the business while trying out a new system more cost effectively: they don’t have to fork out lump sums up front. This dynamic approach to software usage allows a company to try out whole new business models utilising specific software solutions for say – six months – and still keep a grasp of IT expenditure.

 

I believe SaaS is on a journey right now – we have started with IaaS which is becoming more mature; customers are running this quite happily now in a number of key areas such as test and dev, DR and big data analysis. This will lead to larger PaaS (Platform as a Service) requirement as partners start to write their own software that end users will consume as SaaS.  Business partners are beginning to evolve their business strategies. While offering IaaS they are becoming aware that the real opportunity is with the applications and application integration. Some partners will switch their focus to building applications in the cloud, while others will integrate these disparate applications into a cohesive business solution; it is this area that is largely untapped and very interesting.

 

Look at LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Mail and Twitter – they’re all managed independently and all have their own interfaces. Now here is the challenge, could you synchronise all the contacts across these applications? Probably yes. Could you segregate it so LinkedIn and Facebook entries were keep apart but were all in your Gmail? With tags maybe. Would it be robust and reliable? I doubt it. Could it be done reliably by everyone without any IT skill? Realistically no.

 

Moving forwards in the Big Data business world, we really can’t work in those silos. Therefore as SaaS matures there is going to be a great opportunity for business partners to integrate those applications and build connectors which will enable data to flow more freely and securely between them. This won’t be a short term process – it’ll be over the next five to ten years.

 

Key benefits

Essentially, with SaaS, management overheads decrease considerably as the interface must be intuitive and therefore less complicated to use. It should be as easy as setting up a personal Gmail or Yahoo account and managing that on a daily basis. You can offload the software complexity to experts who manage it for you and the interface is something you just ‘plug in’ and use.

 

Key challenges

A key challenge is security. Let’s take your Google account again; what are the consequences of letting the world see your personal calendar as a friend of mine did. No big deal until I pointed out that I could see a party he had three months ago, which included his address on the invite and he was telling the world he was about to go on holiday for two weeks “so help yourself”. Now map that mistake onto your business, multiply it by your staff count and overlay your compliance and you can see the risk you are taking. This is where your companies IT staff will deliver their value in the future. Far from being redundant in this new SaaS world they will be there to work with the business partner to not only deliver on the SaaS that is being demanded by the business but also ensure it is done in a compliant, secure and efficient manner.

 

Learning from service providers

In the future it will become more important to remove yourself from the traditional ‘solutions sell’, or in other words, you sell a solution, move on to the next piece of business, returning in two years to hopefully repeat the process.

 

It’s a ‘hands on’ approach now, which is new to some partners in the channel. It’s about being in touch with the customer every single month and being flexible enough meet customer needs. Similar to the way a service provider works, resellers are dealing with smaller amounts of money up front but over the long-term, continuous billing can be rolled out to reduce customer churn and improve loyalty. Resellers offer the scalability service providers need. This isn’t going to be a quick win. Resellers need to work with trusted and experienced partners to help them to migrate slowly from traditional solution sales today to an annuity based XaaS business in the future.

 

Read our second blog in the SaaS series to learn ‘top tips for selling SaaS’ coming up next week.

 

Posted under Cloud Computing

Converged infrastructure: how to address business challenges rather than talking tech

Technical Architect

Evan Unrue, EMEA Technical Architect Team Leader (VCE)

The IT infrastructure landscape has been changing for some time. Organisations are starting to explore the concept of delivering IT as a service either internally or externally to customers. One of the first steps down this path is setting up an infrastructure that is repeatable, where defining true utilisation and the cost of delivering resource can be measured.

By using the converged infrastructure approach, organisations are able to massively reduce the risk around infrastructure architecture, reduce time to service delivery and man hours involved in maintaining their infrastructure.

Key Benefits

A transformative approach to data centres leveraging converged infrastructure allows organisations to reduce complexity and risk in architecting solutions, also mitigating interoperability challenges in the planning phase. When organisations can buy their infrastructure in an appliance fashion, where the vendor has taken ownership of the complex plumbing, this allows businesses to focus on better aligning IT resources to business demands.

Typically when taking the à la carte approach to building and maintaining a data centre using silo technology stacks, larger organisations can churn 70% of IT spending simply by keeping the lights on and systems running. When IT budgets are under pressure, the challenge is in finding available budget for investing in new software and services which can really differentiate a company from its competition.

Mid Market Organisations

Converged infrastructure still plays a role in the mid market; its value is in allowing customers to promptly meet service and application requirements, while ensuring reduced design complexity and swift deployment. When the bespoke approach to infrastructure delivery is undertaken, the requirement to manage skills and interoperability across all technology stacks drives complexity. Converged infrastructure, on the other hand, enables mid market organisations to leverage an appliance approach focusing on sizing for the appropriate resource and scale, not on the nuts and bolts of how it’s held together.

When dealing with larger corporations, CXOs look to ensure rapid deployment of applications and services. This could be the difference between gaining a competitive edge or not. If a competitor gets to market first but your organisation drags its heels for six months due to the required IT rollout taking too long, your organisation is at a disadvantage. Quick delivery is key in staying ahead of the game. The mid market is slightly different in that although these companies still need to remain competitive, they often have far less robust IT teams, so simplicity of design, management and support become more of a driving factor.

Challenges

Looking at why people buy IT, private companies purchase technology to make money. In the public sector, it is to deliver services. When looking at repeatable architecture, with reduced risk and time to deployment, organisations can reduce the air gap between business and technology and stay better aligned to these objectives.

When it comes to the channel, the challenge is lining up the right skills at the right time to ensure the procurement cycle is not lengthened where it need not be.

Many partners understand how to deliver data centre solutions today and do it well. There are also many customers with a good grasp of the various technology stacks involved in IT infrastructure. However, opting for the bespoke approach to building a data centre can leave an infrastructure exposed to organic growth and hardware sprawl driving unnecessary complexity.

When leveraging converged infrastructure, you can define a building block of infrastructure design to support “X” number of users and you can understand that the power, cooling and management costs in maintaining and managing that building block are “Y”. This allows you to gain real control over the cost of delivering services, be it internally or externally.

The mid market is seemingly further along in terms of what percentage of their IT estate is virtualised, as typically there is less to virtualise. However, often this degree of virtualisation is underpinned by unbalanced infrastructure where they have remediated their existing physical estate to accommodate virtualisation. Most converged platforms are designed and taken to market specifically with virtualisation in mind, meaning that as their estate grows, they will be well equipped to deploy new servers without worrying about the infrastructure ‘falling over’.

Most mid market organisations started small; however, technology needs are constant and evolving. This growth, when driven across an unbalanced and organically grown infrastructure, culminates in infrastructure bottlenecks. Ultimately, whether on physical or virtual infrastructure, the application requirements remain the same, so when we drive the same number of applications on less hardware, we again expose ourselves to risk. Converged infrastructure allows these companies to manage the disruption that this growth creates, whilst providing balanced architecture and simple design practice to meet business demands.

Summary

The nirvana for any organisation is for IT to be an enabler, not a constraint. Taking a converged infrastructure approach can remove a lot of pain, as it’s designed with architectural simplicity in mind. In my opinion, the ability for an organisation to progress in the volatile markets of today will depend on organisations defocusing on data centre plumbing and better spending time exploring how they can differentiate themselves by rapidly bringing new services to market, giving them the edge they need.

Posted under IT infrastructure