Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Service in Scotland needed to reduce operating costs and reinforce its green credentials by virtualising servers. Bandwidth limitations at nine remote sites had reduced the potential for centralising support services. Using Hyper-V virtualisation technology, the fire service is consolidating physical servers by a ratio of 10:1 and reducing the amount of datacentre hardware, thereby improving its carbon footprint.
Have a read through the case study in full here.
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Last week I posted about how the cloud is going to affect IT departments in the future, thinking about how some roles are affected and the like, but this time I’m setting out a mini-manifesto for IT departments. This mini-manifesto isn’t for the IT departments that want to continue doing what they’re doing, it’s for those IT, IS, MI, ICT, (whatever TLA) departments that want to survive and add real value to their business. To be harsh it’s the for ones that want to get on the train of change not be run down by it.
Lets add some context. There are mega trends at work that are changing what IT is asked to do and by whom. Cloud computing is changing the tasks business IT people need to perform, a move from box patching to capability improvement, from break-fix to make-better; Consumerisation is changing who drives decision making, that sexy looking new PC vs. big grey box – the decision came from the user (who works in marketing and likes shiny shiny). To evolve I’ve created the following 5 imperatives that I think could drive modernised IT:
Be a guide not a gate keeper It’s a big scary world out there and whilst user interfaces and workflows have been improved there are still things in technology that go bump in the night. It’s now easy for anyone to go and buy some servers on their personal credit card, buy a web site, bolt in some database stuff and create themselves a business critical ecommerce system – no IT involved. It’s now easy to decide that you don’t like the clunky corporate email system that hasn’t seen investment since 1999, set a rule to forward everything to your favourite web based email of choice (or worse chain them together to circumnavigate policy) and use that wonderful web mail; use it on your PC; your phone; your laptop; your mums-friends-aunts-sons PC. Love sales? Don’t like your cumbersome CRM system? Easy give all your data to someone who appears trustworthy and get selling!
They all sound pretty poor to seasoned IT Professionals and I’ve probably just given all the security people a fit but it’s happening every day. The reason is that it’s become easier to work around IT than with them. That has to stop.
Being the guide is about knowing what the best options for your business are and directing the business accordingly. Lets take email as an example. Everyone uses email (give or take) but the top pain points are all addressed by cloud based email services: storage, availability and ease of use. No one likes having to clear down their email, no one likes it when they can’t access their email (also people don’t like it when they can’t get their email on their device of choice now), no one likes not being able to find things through search. Web based email takes care of all this but not all are created equal. Add in some of the other stuff that people like to have – one single corporate address book that updates automatically, single sign on (so they don’t forget passwords that someone has to keep resetting at £5 per helpdesk call)…you get the picture.
The role here is to guide the business to make a better choice, guide them to fully featured enterprise capable cloud email and not to a consumer focused solution that will eventually cause them and you pain through outage or even worse data leakage.
Make information available in appropriate ways One of the facts of life today is that people need information to do their jobs (yes everyone – as I write this I’m watching a team of builders throw up a block of flats, they keep waking me at 7am on weekends – any way they have an iPad that has their job details on, including the plans they’re building to, I just hope they have the scale right). As a result I believe we have a personal connection with data, we see it as our right.
Unfortunately not everyone spends their time thinking about the consequences of access to data but it’s something that IT professionals know is part of our job – it’s so ingrained it’s a cultural norm for us. Typically though we’ve controlled information by saying – No Bob you don’t need to see the CEOs Payroll details and we did this by preventing Bob’s access, physically stopping him from being able to access the information. With consumerisation and cloud though our data gets more mobility. Let’s say that Bob is actually the HR director and therefore he’s in a position to know our CEOs salary so he has the right to access the information; does his “right” to access the information extend to when he’s on a train, surrounded by people reading over his shoulder? Does that “right” extend to being able to download the information to a device without encryption and leave it on a park bench?
The logical answer is probably not but the people who make that choice are the business and they need to understand the risks and rewards of new ways of working. There are solutions that the new IT department will be required to put in place that will help secure information availability, not just access – luckily the toolbox is full of familiar kit. Need to secure emails so that sensitive info isn’t available on devices with weak encryption (but so that email still flows how your users want) – Rights Management in Exchange 2010 is your friend. Need to provide a secure desktop environement to use the HR system on a variety of devices – RDS, Citrix and Quest have solutions. Need to prevent Bob accessing the CEOs payroll data from his PC that faces an external window at street level (seriously what’s up with Bob!!) – Quest have a solution.
This imperative is about knowing what the right mechanism is to put in place to enable access to information, how the user wants it, with the security that’s just what the business requires. Not too little not too much it’s enabling access not preventing it
Promote inclusion, Prevent exclusion Can your users bring their own device to work? Are your users brining their own devices to work? If you said no then you probably work in a very secure part of the government where mobile phones are removed from people’s pockets when they walk in and placed into individual faraday cages. There’s an inevitability here – the horse has already bolted, sorry, move on. It’s not about stopping people using their devices – that will just p**s them off – use the above imperatives. Guide them to make a good decision about the devices they should buy for personal use, then ensure that they can access most of the information they need for their day to day work life on that device but be sure that the sensitive stuff is protected. Research shows they’ll be more productive (I won’t quote it – they’d charge me) but they’ll probably pay for their own mobile phone handset too because it’s such a personal thing – a part of them.
It’s not just about phones, it’s about any device. It could run Windows, Android, OSX, iOS, Chrome – in the future you won’t care, all you’ll care about is making sure that the person can do their work. That will mean securing their device, securing your network (which means moving to a model of not trusting your own network), securing your information and ensuring it all ticks along.
It is also not just about devices. Your users will be buying corporate resources on their credit cards because it’s easier to source a cloud service than it is through IT. So make sure you know the cloud. Make sure your curate the available cloud resources for your people, make it easier to take your recommendation by making your recommendation worth something. They want to setup forwarding of emails to xyz cloud email solution – just make sure they can’t forward the sensitive ones (see above “Control information availability”). They want to build their own e-commerce system, help them out by recommending one that secures passwords in an encrypted format not plain text – whatever your security standards are.
What’s the alternative. You buy the hardware, you mandate the decisions, you become viewed as the hard route.
Care about the business and the people in it You need to know what the business is doing – it’s not sexy, there are now spinning disks, no flashing lights, no cables – but you need to be as involved in where the business is going as Finance, HR and Marketing are. This one is obvious so we won’t spend much time here, but if you know your business as well as they know themselves and know technology better than they do then you’re onto a winner.
Let your IT people have play time (measure it) This should be very popular for the operational IT Professionals among you and slightly less popular within the operational IT managers. You need time to invest in the new things you want to be able to allow you business to do, your IT team will need to be focused on exactly what your users are – new shiny things that help us make money or feel good. As an IT Professional I believe you should be spending at least 10% of your time exploring technology, we work in the single most exciting field in the world – go play. If you think your job is about making Windows XP work really well for Bob then you’re in the wrong place or at least you will be soon – eventually your business will move on and without your skills being current you’ll be…lets not think about it. If you don’t know Windows 7 as a well as you know Windows XP by now then you should be panicking, downloading evaluations of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008R2, Hyper-V, System Center, Office 365, Windows Intune and anything else you can lay your hands on to get yourself up to speed.
If you’re an IT manager and you’ve not got a team that wants to upskill constantly then how are you ever going to move to a model of guidance, inclusion and information availability that makes your business love you?
The world is changing rapidly and IT needs to change to stay ahead so start with a step change in your organisation, kick off “project new dawn” (sounds very Tom Clancy) and centre on these key themes:
Simon is an IT Pro Evangelist specialising in Client and Cloud technology and doing lots of thinking about the future of the IT Profession. His TechNet blog contains his thoughts on much the same.
If you are missing any links or would like to review the presentations in the desktop stream you can access them all here:
Click here to view the recordings from the full TechDays webcast series on demand.
Modern desktopWhat page do you get to?a) Windows 7 TechCenter b) Windows 7 Deployment learning portal c) Windows 7 Application Compatibility List for IT Professionals
Practical deployment What page do you get to?a) Windows XP to Windows 7 Migration Guideb) Windows 7 deployment learning portal c) Springboard series for Microsoft Office
Desktop virtualisation What page do you get to?a) BlogTechNet UK Blog b) Simon May on blogc) Windows 7 virtual labs
Deployment with MDOPWhat page do you get to?a) Springboard series for MDOP b) Application virtualisation (App-V) c) Top 7 IT Pro pain point simplified with MDOP
The Dynamic Due, windows server 2008 R2 and W7 What page do you get to?a) Download Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Release Candidate (RC) b) Windows 7 Enterprise 90-day Trial c) The Springboard series blog
Today we’ll cover how you can take advantage of technologies where Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are better together to deliver the true experience to your users. Sign up here and tune in at 2pm today. This is the last in the desktop series, so as soon as the webinar finishes the competition to win the Canon EOS 1000D digital SLR camera will open! Make sure you have all your bit.ly links from the previous desktop webinars and get the vital last one today so that you’re all ready to win.
If you missed any of the previous sessions, you can view them all on demand here.
No one can fail to see how much impact the ideas of cloud are having on our organisations and as IT Professionals the most direct impact we feel is on us, on those we work with, on our IT Department. It doesn’t matter whether your “IT”, “IS”, “ICT”, “Information Management”, “IM” or whatever 2 or 3 letter abbreviations you have the cloud is starting to have an impact. Is it bad? Is it good? Two questions that only only time will reveal the answers to but there are changes afoot. It doesn’t matter whether your company has started to embrace cloud yet – eventually it will – in this article I’m focusing on how it’s going to change some of those specific roles in your IT Department.
Before we do that though lets just add some cloud clarity so that we know where we are. The cloud is any technology that enables on-demand rapid provision and release of resources that are highly available and shared between a group of users. For the purpose of this article we’re talking about resources shared between people who do not necessarily belong to the same organisation a.k.a the public cloud. Public cloud is arguably one of the top two technology trends affecting your IT Department today with the second being consumerisation – all those “unmanaged” devices that are popping up and you’re now being required to support.
You are now probably seeing demand for some of the following types of services:
And in addition you’ve probably started to notice that you’re being excluded from conversations. A macro level trend is going on around you, your users have started to be tech savvy enough to make IT decisions without you (or at least they think they have – you’ll obviously have to come to the rescue!) One of the interesting key words just before that bullet is demand the trend of consumerisation has had an impact here and your users are now demanding that you provide them with IT Services on their terms.
If this hasn’t happened to you yet it, will, it probably but someone forgot to tell IT. This trend is most apparent when information starts leaking from your organisation through people emailing stuff home to work on because they have better tools.
Think of a train hurtling down the tracks, if you’re in front of that train the futures not so bright…if you’re on it then it’s a better place. That analogy is very close to home for some IT departments – I say it’s time to get on the train rather than trying to stop the thing with your bare hands. So what does it mean for the life of some of our favourite IT Department people:
The helpdesker (a.k.a. Frontline support analyst)
As the first point of contact in the IT Department the helpdesk staff have always been a linchpin of the team, taking calls, taking flack. It’s part of the job. Most people start out here and learn one of the key skills that’s always seen them through the career they made: customer service. And you know what, this is a growth area with public cloud. Very few public cloud operators will provide end user support, they normally provide level 2 support (which tends to materialise in IT depts as level 3) meaning that they won’t answer user queries such as “how do I do x”, “I’ve deleted this email, how do I get it back”. These folks provide a 2nd key skill too – business knowledge – even if you’ve outsourced your helpdesk you’ll find that the best operators know your business better than the worst. I personally am starting to see a trend of “insourcing” where the helpdesk is being brought home.
The desktop technician (a.k.a. 2nd level support, a.k.a “Dave in IT”)
Desktop technicians are still seen as the face of IT by most end users, even if they don’t see them that often. Most avoid giving out their direct line for fear of being stalked by Sally in accounts who just cannot use Excel – I know I’ve been there for many (joyous) years. Again these folks know the people they help, they provide deep business knowledge and have early warning radar and they combine a level of technical skill that makes most users think of them as heroes but interestingly they don’t get many calls from the younger people in the organisation but they do spend time with them exchanging stories around the coffee/tea/water/cigarette machine/shed. And they’re friends with them on Facebook.
The desktop guys aren’t going anywhere though because the cloud doesn’t take the desktop away, you still need a machine to access it….well not so much. In the future the desktop guys will spend more time working on other peoples kit than the companies. They’ll spend more time ensuring people can work safely for the company with their own kit and less fixing problems as the end users naturally become more adept at fixing problems.
The server huggers
These guys have been the centre of the world for a good few years, they have the hard job – running the infrastructure – occasionally harbouring a small god complex (I am very much guilty). The folks need to make the biggest change to their world, if you are one you need to be learning new skills day after day to keep up. You need to know about virtualisation, what it is and what it isn’t (a magic bullet), you need to know about management technology, you need to know about public cloud platforms and infrastructures and the differences. You also need to start to understand cost models (yuck) and you need to know how to connect both public cloud and private cloud resources. You might not see this right now but people are going outside of your team to get hold of servers to do their job.
There are possibly people within your organisation using a personal credit card to setup a business critical ecommerce system, or store some data in the public cloud…without your governance. It will become impossible to do anything about it because it will be too business critical so you’ll need to focus on connecting and managing it and ultimately on governing it.
The IT Manager
You’re probably going to meetings and being asked for more by the business (or they might have stopped inviting you). Before it’s too late though you need to switch up what your team is doing, get them out from in front of the train and bear their whole weight down on making public cloud work for your business. Why? Because public cloud WON’T work for your business. Not in isolation, you’ve got to couple it to what you do already, those servers and services your IT department is already running at 99.999999% uptime (+ added LOVE). You’re role will be to become the leader of a group of trusted advisors to your business, a group of cloud savvy people who deeply understand the technology and who deeply understand the business.
Every aspect of the business is different the accountants want different things to HR who want different things to marketing and the security guy on the front desk. You can give the accountants systems that don’t require downtime and manual upgrades each year while TAX changes are made – the software provider will do that for you. You can give HR a web based payroll system whereby a huge data send isn’t required every month at pay run time (whilst everyone holds their breath). You can give the security guy secure cloud storage and offload the constant video encoding of security camera footage from his PC to the cloud.
There are countless more roles and countless better examples but the idea here is to show you that the world is changing. You don’t however need to be under the train since we’re at the right point to get in front and help our businesses make better decisions. There’s no need to loose the technical skills we hold so dear, they just evolve and theirs no need to learn new skills in business analysis or some other discipline it’s just about applying what you know already.
Really the public cloud is a case of learning about the technology and helping your business apply it…that’s the secret sauce. Try Windows Azure, Try Office365 and try what other people offer (then come back )
Simon is an IT Pro Evangelist specialising in Client and Cloud technology and doing lots of thinking about the future of the IT Profession. His TechNet blog contains his thoughts on much the same.
Fingers crossed for a continuation of this lovely weather for the weekend. Before you escape into the sun, take a look at this week’s round-up.
See you next week!
If you are, pay a visit to the SharePoint Guys and read their recent post, highlighting the ins and outs of Offline Working functionality in SharePoint Workspace 2010. You’ll also see how SharePoint Workspace 2010 works with SharePoint Server 2010.
Exciting Friday news – we’ve added two new courses to the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA), with another coming soon. The Microsoft Virtual Academy is an easy-to-access, free resource for IT professionals which provides content tracks of learning. Find out about the new courses below.
Microsoft Virtualization for the VMware Professional–The Platform The course covers Microsoft’s virtualisation offerings and strategy, datacenter planning, Hyper-V architecture, VM management, virtualised networking and storage, numerous other Hyper-V features, as well as advanced management with System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2. Also covered are the high-availability and disaster recovery considerations to keep your VMs up and running using Windows Server Failover Clustering.
The course is aimed at IT professionals who use VMware technology today and would like to compare the Microsoft offering. Throughout the course you will see how Hyper-V is both different and similar to VMware virtualisation through technical and terminology comparisons. By the end of this course you will have the tools you need to plan, design and deploy your virtualised datacentre or Private Cloud infrastructure.
2) Microsoft Virtualization for the VMware Professional - Management This course provides an overview of Microsoft’s comprehensive management suite, System Center, and is the second course in the three course program covering Microsoft Virtualisation. In the course we cover:
After completing this course you will understand how to centrally manage and automate a datacentre of any size, plus gain 54 points towards your next level.
3) Coming soon - Microsoft Virtualization for the VMware Professional – VDI. Keep your eyes peeled for details.
Tony Sutcliffe, TechNet Community Council member and IT manager, runs a great blog called Tales of the IT Helpdesk. Earlier in the week Tony dropped me an email to tell me he’d posted a review of the Office 365 JumpStart sessions (you may remember we featured them back in May). In addition Tony’s own thorough highlights you can find some useful links listed in his post.Take a look here.