Test to Production: How to play…

The first and most obvious possibility is to utilise an “off-the-shelf” public cloud system. Public cloud is attractive to service providers, primarily for core attributes relating to scalability, speed of delivery, contract terms and price. However, while these benefits make for a compelling business case, public offerings possess serious limitations concerning their technological and support capability – factors crucial to catering for the individual complexity of clients, especially in production environments. Security anxieties associated with public cloud also plague this delivery type, thus restricting its appeal to MSPs whose customer bases are trusted to safeguard highly sensitive data.


Another alternative to service providers is to ally with a private cloud supplier. Opting for this on-premise path eradicates the principal drawbacks of public cloud, with greater levels of support, enhanced security and a superior proficiency in tackling the unique requirements of singular customers. Unfortunately, while private cloud appears to tick the right boxes for a stable, secure and tailored production environ, there remains substantial concerns with this method. From a technical perspective, scalability is hindered by both the extensive contract periods (3-5 years) and human resources burden connected with asset-owning deployments. Couple this factor with private cloud’s higher cost, and CTOs contemplating the move to a production phase are left with a business model fraught with risk and uncertainty.


Until now, the only other provisioning model available to IT decision makers was the adoption of a hybrid cloud. Aside from disputed interpretations of what a hybrid system actually means, the common notion of a combined on-premise/off-premise system fails to fully resolve the critical production challenges posed by the aforementioned public and private approaches. Sure, hybrid can partially counter the perceived security threats and meagre support levels of public cloud, as well as negate some of restricted flexibility and resource demands innate in private cloud. Nonetheless, the idea of managing two distinctly different systems and their connected contracts and SLA agreements will surely do more to deter service provider CTOs rather than inspiring them to embrace operational environments.


A complete approach…


Realising the test-to-production barriers presented by public, private and hybrid cloud, IIJ have a developed a service comprising a unique architecture finally capable of unleashing the true potential of cloud for service providers.


The market leader in Japan, IIJ GIO is built on the organisation’s world-class, global internet backbone and is purpose-built to accommodate any MSP’s existing infrastructure, regardless of complexity, to create a genuinely integrated public and private system. Implementing IIJ GIO offers service provider CTOs the perfect platform for a sustainable and profitable production phase, by:


  • Not charging for incremental internet traffic. As an ISP, IIJ can guarantee a flat rate service irrespective of usage increases, thus allowing MSPs total control and transparency of costs


  • Offering contract periods (minimum 1 month) which both reduce investment worries and facilitate desirable conditions for scaling up and down, depending on demand


  • Including a suite of pre-packaged SLAs that service providers can avail of to support their clients from day one, while also plugging any skill gaps



  • Removing obligatory purchases of storage and servers, IIJ GIO supplies service providers with their own private VMware environment. In addition to reducing the cost burden, service providers enjoy the flexibility of deploying IT resources as and when necessary



  • Protecting end-user’s sensitive data. IIJ accomplishes this security essential by allowing service providers to connect to their customers’ WAN via a dedicated line or an IP-VPN


Profit through partnership…


Considering the financial prize at stake, CTOs must move fast to secure the cloud demands of their current and future consumers. In partnership with IIJ, service providers can transform their own capability by confidently delivering “market ready” production environments, exceeding end-user expectations and building profitable businesses in the process.


Test to Production: Finding the Winning Model, Fast

For today’s organisations, the advent of cloud services represents the single greatest prospect for business transformation.


The big question for service providers is how to capitalise on this opportunity without succumbing to the costly pitfalls of cloud provision. With end-users demanding greater flexibility, elasticity and cost benefits, the world’s IT vendors have been forced to shift their focus entirely from the old world of on-site hardware and software deployments.


Adapting to change…


Ultimately though, the entities responsible for fully realising this change are the service providers whom organisations rely on to implement and manage their IT environments. In the past, this obligation was the remit of the traditional reseller. The model was simple: clients needed solutions and resellers sourced, installed and maintained them. In those days, the risks were clear and the profit from such ventures easily measured.


Now, with a generation of clients having enjoyed the immense rewards from virtualisation and more recently, software-as-a-service offerings, they are now looking to fully explore the operational experience of a cloud infrastructure.


In tandem with this demand, resellers and managed service providers have been forced to re-examine the viability of their current business setups, as well as their capability to build, install and manage such infrastructure environments.


Testing times…


A great deal of you reading this blog may have already engaged in a number of test deployments and will therefore, fully appreciate the stretch on technical and financial resources these endeavours incur. You, as service providers, also understand the broader obligations inherent in moving to a full production environment: tighter SLAs ushering in previously untested requirements, new levels of support resulting in even greater drain on resources as well as a need for higher levels of expertise.


Considering the high financial risk associated with any infrastructural investment and the potential operational disablement resulting from challenging SLA, support and skill necessities, one could easily conclude IaaS is a gamble not worth taking.


High stakes…


According to Gartner[1], worldwide IT spending is expected to reach $3.8 trillion in 2014. Of that, cloud computing services are projected to account for $209.9 billion this year and $555 billion by 2020[2]. Can IT service providers really afford to forego a market opportunity anticipated to grow by 164% over the next 5 years? The simple answer is no, and the consequences for those who neglect to pursue the considerable rewards of cloud services are an inevitable tale of lost opportunity, vanishing custom and an eventual decline.


While refusing the leap from test to production is not a fructiferous course for service providers, they and their CTOs are still left with a number of strategic challenges which must be addressed in order to deliver commercially viable cloud infrastructure to their existing and future clients.


MSPs and conventional resellers in these circumstances have a number of options available to them. Read more in the sequel to this blog: Test to Production: How to play….

[1] http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2643919

[2] http://www.business2community.com/cloud-computing/global-cloud-computing-service-market-expects-reach-555-billion-worth-2020-0961446

8.4.2014: Power to the User

With the end of support for Office 2003 and Windows XP rapidly approaching, we take a final look at how this event will impact organisations and most importantly, their employees.

Something we can all relate to…

You make your way to work on a Monday morning, knowing that the office has undergone a make-over at the weekend. A brief e-mail circular had been sent to staff members on Friday morning, alerting them to changes in workplace arrangement and decor as well as some new equipment to update ageing appliances. Considering the short notice and casual nature of this notification, you and your co-workers expect minimal modifications and business-as-usual as you prepare to exit the elevator and take your seats.

Conversely, you enter to discover an almost unrecognisable environment. Cubicles have been re-located and people are unsure as to where they should be sitting. Stationary is no longer stored in the same area. Managers are now situated in different quarters. Appliances such as printers and photocopiers have been less updated as they have replaced with completely new brands and models. As the clock approaches 9am and the floor begins to fill, there is a sense of chaos, uncertainty and disillusionment as scores of employees struggle to cope in their new, unfamiliar setting.

Giving change the respect it deserves…

The above example is in its totality, unimaginable. Individuals, regardless of their discipline or rung on the corporate ladder, can comprehend the significance of a stable physical environment and the role it plays in facilitating human interaction and activity. This understanding, however, often fails to extend to less established and palpable circumstances.

Over the past months, I have used this forum to draw attention to such a situation where people, many in positions of influence, may be misjudging the impact of environmental change. In less than two weeks, Windows XP and Office 2003 will no longer be supported by Microsoft, thus forcing a large quantity of organisations to upgrade their software to the latest versions.

While most companies will appreciate the more tangible risks of not moving from these versions (high support costs, security risks, etc.), many of them will underestimate the ramifications of the migration on their employees.

Same screen, different world…

Unfortunately for the near-billion Office and XP workers globally, millions will find themselves in a bewildering predicament on the morning of April 8th; one akin to the scenario outlined at the outset of this article (and yes, they too may be afforded very short notice of upcoming changes).

With 60% of the world’s entire workforce using Office as the platform from which almost every aspect of their working lives are organised and executed, you can begin to fathom a grand picture of utter despair when personnel switch on their screens post-upgrade. Confronted with a new interface, multiple additional features and functions and an entirely altered display, staff may simply shut down. Think about this in the context of larger, multinational firms and the outcome is exacerbated: mass disruption, disgruntled people, inferior output and a costly help-desk tsunami.

How to win…

My previous posts on this topic have considered the various training options available to businesses and the key drivers, advantages and shortcomings of each approach (you can read more about what I covered about successful Ms Office migration here and how to cut Microsoft migration costs here). But ultimately, it is all about putting power in the hands of users.

For companies to claim victory in their software upgrades, it is imperative that they provide their employees with two essential components vital to any satisfied workforce: communication and empowerment.

Communication should be ongoing; upcoming changes must be announced to staff well in advance with reasons and dates for implementation divulged. Workers, of course, will also require clear communication from management as to what support services are available and how to access them.

Intertwined with quality communication is the empowerment of employees. For this to be realised, those responsible for development of staff skills cannot afford to be complacent and assume their people will be able to handle software changes with zero or minimal support.

Training programmes will be an absolute necessity for organisations looking to prosper from their Microsoft migrations. This training has to be appropriate to the subject matter and provide employees with the knowledge necessary to thrive in a way that compliments their day-to-day roles. Crucially, learning platforms should not be allowed to become as disruptive as having no training at all.

User is king…

By recognising that a successful migration hinges on positive workforce response to their new environment, companies are taking the first and most critical step in their upgrade journey. Those who do not make the user central to their IT renovations will require an awful amount of Solpadine to relieve the headache of April 8th.

Learn more on how to make your Microsoft migration a success see our exclusive webinar. We also have a fantastic Microsoft upgrade training solution, MigrateEasy™ with an unbeatable offer for small, medium and large businesses

Operation Migration: Cut Cost by Upgrading Performance

So you think software upgrades are a waste of time and money? Time to think again as this could be L&D’s biggest opportunity to bring real and profitable change to their organisations. Choices…..


MoneyUtterances of the terms ‘upgrade’ and ‘migration’ within earshot of learning and development professionals will invariably summon bothersome thoughts of significant spending, workforce upheaval and administrative complication. While such projects are never straightforward, the current economic environment amplifies executive anxieties on the topic.

We all recognise the significant challenges facing today’s organisations; particularly the dual pressures inherent in decreasing operating costs while enhancing existing service and quality levels in order to remain competitive. Read More…

MS Office Migration: Why Fear Success?


Beneath the concerns and challenges lurks a huge opportunity for positive organisational change. Who dares…..

Very few people relish the prospect of change. Any change, no matter how significant, is ultimately defined by feelings of disturbance, conflict and a general sense of dread. The human response to the prospect of adjusting to new circumstances is commonly that of anger, unhappiness; even disillusion – “what’s the point?”

Like individuals, organisations and their key decision-makers harbour fear for the idea of change. Change in the context of today’s uncertain and ultra-competitive environment spells doubt and provokes unwelcome whispers of losses in efficiencies, productivity and most alarming of all, revenue. Conventional corporate wisdom tells us that altering our approach means changing what is already working well; this being a prelude to eventual failure.

However, this coming March, a significant percentage of the world’s IT bosses will have to face a common change in their respective software landscapes: a migration away from Office 2003 and/or Windows XP. Read More…