Now landed back in the UK after yet another very impressive VMworld event (3.30am start for a 5.50 flight – ouch!). It has been a whirlwind few days of executive meetings (a number of really fundamental catch ups), extremely concise and well-formed session content from the VMware team (congrats to all) and potentially our best customer event yet (every year we invite a number of our key customers to spend time with us at VMworld – with nearly 200 people at the Computacenter event I think you can say it was a success).
This VMworld may prove to be a watershed event. VMware reinforced the perspective a software defined future is no longer optional but instead the “new normal” – now. The business agility and operational flexibility essential for ongoing success through the current ever changing digital age is forcing enterprise IT environments to “act like code” to deliver services, consistently at warp speed. Common to other VMworld events, the VMware team demonstrated the technology is ready (and it has been for quite a while), but human inertia continues to stall the growth of the software defined enterprise as the very last few points of concern are digested and overcome.
NSX (the VMware advanced software defined networking layer) is moving from the background to a centre stage role in the VMware enterprise transformation strategy. As the digital data transport layer that simplifies and optimises traditional networking, delivers a policy based pathway from private, through hybrid to public cloud and back plus enhances security along the way – NSX may offer VMware one of the real keys to the enterprise kingdom. But this event wasn’t all about networking, major enhancements to core VSphere to make it enterprise robust but cloud ready arrived on mass and the additional light shone on the devops world with greater support for containers, workflow and API driven operations ensured a welcome and steady stream of impressive announcements.
The arrival of such a blur of product updates and developments are timely. I noticed a change in attitude and tone with the mass of attendees at this VMworld cramming into the rooms of the “how” sessions no longer deliberating over “why and when” – I think they are now ready!!
Does this sign post a VMware only world to realise the enterprise software defined IT dream, definitely not with the vendor village of eco system partners and past and present competitors all offering valuable services and solutions to enable effective completion of the software defined jigsaw puzzle. But it is clear VMware are leading the charge as they have been for many years and present a compelling end to end, top to toe story of software led transformational business change.
I think the needle has now shifted and the brave new world of enterprise IT still running on high performance hardware, but defined dynamically by software is now upon us and will deliver the hybrid cloud digital super highway that will propel businesses forward both now and into the future. Job well done VMware, the stage is now set for partner, customer and industry cast members to act.
Until next time
Chief Technologist Computacenter UK. Networking, Security and collaboration.
Hello everyone, and welcome to the first blog entry from the new graduates in Project Management. The first ever Computacenter graduate scheme in Project Management began in August this year, and this blog will run over the coming months to provide updates to the rest of company on our exciting journey through our eighteenth month scheme and into Project Management.
There are six new graduates on this scheme- all coming into Computacenter from a range of universities around the country- who will each write blogs over the coming months on our progression at the company. This first blog entry, as well as giving a general overview of the Grad Scheme, will highlight some of my experiences so far and what I’ve enjoyed the most since starting here at the beginning of August.
Time really has flied since the six of us started here just over two months ago. By now, we are all starting to find our feet and after information overload to begin with, different bits are starting to become clear and more and more of the acronyms are starting to make sense. I remember within the first week wondering what on earth any of this all meant, but pieces of the puzzle are clicking into place now and I’m looking forward to learning more and more about the business as the programme continues. Some of the best advice that I was given upon starting and would certainly recommend to any other new starters is to ask as many questions as you need to; there really are no stupid questions at Computacenter, and people are always willing to help you out with information or point you in the right direction. While all six graduates have been set a similar 18 month plan, our experiences and first impressions have all varied greatly already. From visits to customer sites, to the different people that we have met with, it already feels like we have done a huge amount considering we are only just over two months into our Computacenter journey.
What has become evident to me since starting here is the wide range of opportunities that are available from the start. These opportunities are opened up not only by the structure of our programme, but also by the people that we interact with every day. Already I have met a range of people across Projects, Sales, Consultancy and many other departments, that have all been genuinely willing to help us out, introduce us to more people and sacrifice their own time for our benefit.
One of the best examples of this has been on my sales rotation a few weeks back. This was a a two week period of shadowing within the sales department, where I sat in on calls and meetings, met with customers and gained a general overview of the sales division and where they fit into the company. On my second day with sales I was invited to a day with a major UK Bank in Hatfield, where we were providing an update on a particular solution. Over the course of this day I was given an insight into the customer and gained a great understanding of how groups including sales, projects, configuration and supply chain services interact and engage with each other. This day helped me to be able to apply all the information that we have been taught to an actual engagement with the customer. To gain this exposure less than a month into my time at the company was a great learning experience for me, and I hope there is more of this to come.
Overall, these first two months at Computacenter have been fantastic. I’ve already learned a great deal and met some brilliant people. I hope that the coming months are as varied and as exciting as the first have been, and that hopefully I will get to meet and work with some of you in the near future. The next blog will be written by Ollie Lamont, another one of the graduates, who will provide another update on our journey through Computacenter. Thanks very much for reading.
This time last year I was sat reading Glen’s blog giving advice on how to apply, along with some helpful tips around the Associate Programmes. This must mean that it’s the time of year again where we starting looking to bring new talent into Computacenter via the Sales and Service Associate Programmes. Normally in this blog you would hear from either a Service Manager or a Sales Associate, however this month you will hear from both Callum and myself, in a combined article to give you an insight into the later stages of the recruitment process and some helpful tips.
I’m going to touch on the face to face interviews and the first evening of the assessment centre before Callum goes on to talk about the second day. Together we will cover the tasks that you need to complete, some essential advice and what we learnt when we went through the same process 12 months ago.
The face to face interviews are going to be with a member of Senior Management and also a current Associate. This is a competency based interview, and therefore it is important that your answers are detailed and that you can accurately demonstrate what you have done. Although face to face interviews are a daunting prospect, it’s important just to be yourself because everyone else is taken.
Remember; they want to see your personality, hear what you have done which has led you to this point and why you think you would be an asset to Computacenter. At the end of the face-to-face interview the senior manager will leave the interview and you will get the opportunity to talk to the current associate around the programme and any other questions you may have. This is a great opportunity to gain some further insight into what you might be doing a year from now.
Once you have completed stages 4 and 5, it is time to pack your overnight bag and travel to Hatfield for the two day assessment centre. It’s a great experience, and a real positive about our application process is that Computacenter allow time to really get to know you before making such an important decision around your future.
On arrival you will meet some of the other applicants, a great time to meet some of your potential future colleagues as well as some of the current associates before a briefing session that will give you a better insight into the next 36 hours. There will be a dinner with the senior management who will be involved in the 2 day interview process, which allows you to get to know your assessors before you’re in an interview scenario. This shows how invested the senior executive team at Computacenter is in the Associate programme, something the successful applicants will come to realise quickly once you start!
More importantly this is a great opportunity to sit down over dinner and ask some questions of the leadership team, so think carefully about what questions you ask and the answers you give as you are being assessed from the outset. One final piece of advice; enjoy the networking afterwards, but know your limit!
I will now hand over to Callum…
So, thanks to James’ tips, you’ve had a great evening with the other candidates and have started to impress the assessment panel. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and get some breakfast in the morning, because trust me you’re going to need that energy today at our Hatfield head office.
This is your chance to really shine – with multiple opportunities to demonstrate your capabilities in different areas vital to Sales / Service Management, and prove that you’re right for the role!
You’ll be given a group task, where you’ll need to demonstrate your ability to be part of and maybe even lead a team, and then present back to the assessors as a group. You will also be set a topic for, and, having been told your stance, be given the opportunity to debate it against your fellow applicants – remember here that subject knowledge isn’t the most important thing – the assessors will be looking more for skills such as calmness under pressure, logical thinking and ability to listen to others and communicate effectively.
Next it’s time to outshine the other candidates with the individual assessments. First you’ll have to put pen to paper again for another written and numeracy test – you’ve all had similar tests earlier in the process though, so don’t panic!
As if having dinner with him last night wasn’t enough, you will have 10 minutes one-to-one with our CEO Mike Norris. In this time, you have the opportunity to ask Mike just three questions, so make them count! Mike takes time out of his busy diary to meet each of you, so try and make your questions interesting, meaningful, and memorable.
Your panel interview will be with 2 or 3 members of the leadership team, where they will try to find out a bit more about you, why you want the role, and why you think you’re suitable for the role. The advice I’ll give here is to be honest and open, and try to pull on experiences from your academic, social and extracurricular life wherever possible. We aren’t just trying to recruit people that are perfect for the Associate programme, but want people that will suit Computacenter too.
The last chance you’ll get to impress the assessors is the famous “Why Me?” presentation. They’ll give you 5 minutes to use as you wish – make sure you leave a lasting impression and that they come away convinced that you are right for the Associate programme.
Come to the assessment centre prepared and ready to engage, but most of all try to enjoy it. At lunch, and throughout the day, current Associates will be on-hand, so don’t be afraid to chat to them and get some further advice.
Once the assessment centre’s finished, those that are successful will get a call from Mike Norris with the presumptive close of “see you in January”!
Thank you for reading. If you have any questions around applying for the Programme or the Programme in general, then please don’t hesitate to drop either of us an email.
Most importantly, enjoy it and good luck!
Service Management Associate
I have spent nearly 30 years in this frenetic but captivating IT industry. The mainframe presided over an era of computing where machine ruled man – we stood in awe of the immense power but in reality were not truly sure, capable or “ready” to harness it. The mini computer or baby mainframe followed and even with so much potential and an audience with the desire to unlock the magic within, missed the mark with the result a short lived tenure. But all was not lost and the door soon opened to a world of IT in the eighties kick started by IBM and Microsoft that still underpins the mode we embrace today. The personal computer (PC) and eventually the PC networking era signalled a change from intelligent IT systems and intelligent humans interacting in a less than harmonious existence to the computer and human in lock step. For the first time there was no dominant IT system looking down on the subordinate human, but a computer driven by the person for the person – personal computing was born. And with vastly simplified networking between computers and devices the intelligence of PC based IT systems, driven by human creativity delivered real value that was enhanced exponentially by the sharing that occurred amongst IT system users
But why the rambling, chronicle – a common thread throughout those heady and ever changing times was the need for continual learning and the creation of seemingly infinite knowledge. It was hard to academically and intellectually absorb so much unknown, with the emergent IT concepts nothing previously discussed or envisaged. It was that painful effort to know and then by knowing “do” (not always well, but still “do”) that helped to drive IT as an industry to where it is now, fundamental to both social and business outcomes.
However I fear things are starting to change and through this current time window, not all of the change is for the better. The availability of just enough knowledge and insight delivered via the world’s great search engines (invaluable) and the accessibility of “just enough” knowledge in digital form at every juncture may well have resulted in a state of “knowledge” malaise across the IT community. With an ageing population still coupled in many areas to an internal knowledge set from a previous era but with a depth of tacit experience that will be invaluable to future generations and a incoming worker population from the digital era bought up on the stable of “just enough” infinitely available knowledge we have a recipe for confusion (and in some cases failure).
This modern mode of “just enough” knowledge with a lacking human investment in really “knowing” to the level of depth required, may force IT through a period where the struggle for skills reaches a level more acute than it is today. Let me say at this stage I am not inferring laziness or delinquency on the part of the IT community I am also a part of. But I am worried the profoundly new skills required for the next 3 to 5 to 10 years have been underestimated by many (many are soft and emotional skills) therefore the long run up required to realise them no longer exists.
If you are an IT professional to any degree, ask yourself “do I have the technical understanding and tacit knowledge to remain effective and productive over the next five years?”. Many will answer “yes” but based on a cursory review of everything their undertake today remaining constant and relevant – however I fear it will not as we may embrace a greater level of IT, process and operational change in the next five years than the previous ten or fifteen.
There has been no better time (how many times have we said this) than now to reskill, “right skill” to lead the IT industry of today into an unknown but potentially lucrative tomorrow. It will require inspirational leadership, a relentless focus on learning and a maniacal desire to turn all of the learning into “new, relevant knowledge”. And that knowledge may be created and unlocked via a healthy amalgam of older experienced heads coupled with younger energised hearts – surely a recipe for long term success. Who knows, maybe this is the secret sauce we have always been looking for?
This brave new world won’t happen if we stand back and watch and wait – it’s time to get involved.
Until next time.
Chief Technologist Computacenter UK – Networking, Security.
(Doctoral student Worcester university 2016)
I haven’t scribbled a blog for a while. Rather than bombard the web with yet more content and conjecture to add to the mass already present, I need a “discussion catalyst” to compel me to write. And it arrived on the front page of the Times newspaper today proclaiming “500m users hit by the biggest hack in history” (due to recently released findings from a 2014 attack).
I mentioned in previous blogs and commentary that those no longer sensationalist, but instead factual headlines may sadly continue with each one correctly announcing a breach bigger than the last. It’s time to rethink information security because the rules of the game have fundamentally changed. As an IT industry with extremely competent security professionals the time has come for hard conversations, which discuss difficult problems that drive and deliver far reaching change. The legacy approach to design, implement and support information security platforms should not be fully jettisoned overnight but a failure to understand the efficacy of the whole solution to deliver “known, measured and maintained (or enhanced)” levels of security can no longer be accepted as valid or sound behaviour (I apologise if this is overly hard hitting).
There are numerous highly viable reasons why a multi-vendor security infrastructure and security software environment can deliver secure business / IT workload outcomes. But any environment with siloed platforms that do not inform or update each other via vendor proprietary, industry standard data exchange layers or leverage other platforms that correlate and represent actionable information may be as useful as no security layer at all. I am not advocating a single vendor security environment (although it can unlock a number of notable advantages) but I am leaning to a “greatly reduced” vendor environment as the complex web of devices pervasive across many enterprise IT estates, delivers a false sense of security can be the perfect landing zone for an attacker.
Add to that, the importance and non-negotiable educational requirement to formally enhance the knowledge of IT system and application users of the “responsibility and accountability” they personally hold to protect the digital assets they interact with daily. Almost without exception the major hacks and attacks originate from an inadvertently compromised user (tricked or bribed) with the end result a valid way in for an attacker to undertake the reconnaissance necessary to undertake the main attack. It’s time for all IT users to change their level of understanding and intimacy with IT security outcomes with the result a major step towards helping the wider enterprise security programme to operate effectively.
The Times newspaper headline displayed the passport picture and details of Michelle Obama – as we continue to discuss the growing importance of digital identity with a passport one indelible example of an identity deemed more important than most, a system attack that successfully obtained the personal details of one of the most highly protected individuals in the world highlights that no one is safe and everyone is a potential target.
IT security 2020 is required today and required now. It starts with an understanding of current IT and digital assets, gap analysis of posture aligned with compliance, platforms and systems that interact together, user education and greatly increased end to end visibility of the whole estate. I could go on as the steps required are many fold, but they are not steps we don’t already know or shouldn’t be undertaking today. No change is unacceptable, more of the same is unacceptable. Sadly we can be sure that the next big breach will be bigger than the last but ideally no one wants to the star of the headline.
Time for security change – change is now
Until next time
First off, thank you kindly to Priya for passing the baton (Olympics reference done) and teeing me up for this month’s Associate update. With the last 6 months capped off with our Half 1 presentations and a third of the programme complete, Priya and the vast majority of past associate bloggers were definitely right in saying that time is flying.
I thought I’d give a quick insight into the mind of a CC graduate one year out of university, mainly for those of you applying and to quell a popular a rumour about what happens after leaving university. As I waved goodbye to my final exams and started what my friends and previous graduates had called my last “proper” summer holiday, I started to prepare for years of looking back and ruing the fact that I’d finally have to work over the months of July and August. I can say with all honesty that this hasn’t been the case here at CC, and silly as it might sound, working hard, being challenged and engaging with all the different areas of the business has been infinitely better than lounging around a house for 3 months. Whilst every grad will look back to university fondly, the Associate Programme has been amazing to date and the “summer blues” that people talk about are nowhere to be seen.
This last month has been the first of our solutions rotations where we spend a month learning about a specific technology area, how this benefits our clients, and how we deliver these solutions to our customers. I was with the Workplace and Collaboration team this month, an area that has a direct and visible effect on the end user and in which Computacenter are market leaders. The key takeaway here was that the workplace is transitioning more and more towards becoming “digital”, with users demanding a more consumer like and flexible experience from work. As is often said, “Work is a thing you do, not a place you go” and seeing some of the collaboration technologies that are making that phrase a reality has been fantastic. Our customer experience centre does a great job of showcasing the vast amount of options for collaboration there are in the workplace now. With each business requiring different solutions to meet their workplace needs, our vendor agnosticism means that we can offer exactly what is required on a case by case basis and this rotation has really brought to life the value Computacenter add in being able to do this.
Looking beyond the technology, seeing the sheer scale of the transformation projects that Computacenter undertakes has been eye opening. Managing the deployment of tens of thousands of different devices, to different user groups, to different locations all across the UK and Europe not only showcases our logistical capability, but also shows that we’re able to tailor solutions like no other organisation.
We have many rotations ahead and the programme is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint (although somewhat of a marathon done at sprint speeds, maybe a 10K? Olympics references aren’t my forte) and we’re learning more and more with each passing day. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Workplace and Collaboration team again for getting us involved and giving us an insight into the changes that are happening within the digital workplace.
So to sum up and once again echo previous bloggers, time truly does fly here at CC. It won’t be long before we start to welcome the next round of Associates, who are already well under way with the application stages.
Next month we’ll hear from James and Callum who’ll talk about the latter stages of applying to the programme, so keep your eyes peeled for some insights and maybe even some tips on making it through!
Thanks for reading and for those bidding to become next year’s Associates, good luck!
The last 6 months have flown by, and without a doubt the programme has been an incredible journey. It is quite surreal to think I only joined Computacenter on the Associate Programme in January, as the saying goes ‘how time flies when you’re having fun’. I had the pleasure of meeting our new Industrial Placement students last week– a warm welcome to you all! I thought I would use this opportunity to reflect on the past 6 months and provide some tips for our new talent.
The feeling that time has gone quickly, really became apparent this month when we presented back to our Programme Sponsor at the end of H1 (Julie O’Hara for the Service Management Associates / Kevin James for the Sales Associates). With the wealth and depth of information to learn, and a new company to settle into, it was crucial to ASK! From something that needing clarifying, to understanding the meaning of an acronym (the million and one of them), everyone I have met along the way has been more than willing to help. The H1 review was a great opportunity to reflect on both my professional and personal journey with CC, coming from a not IT background I have surprised myself with how much I know now that I would have stared blankly at in January.
One of the best experiences so far has been the exposure to customer accounts. Last Tuesday I was involved in the launch of the Tech Bar as a pilot into Post Office. This was a really exciting experience being immersed into the Service Management Team at Post Office, who put me straight in the deep end of communicating the benefits with their end users, both a nerve wracking and exciting experience! It was great to meet the CIO, who was a huge advocate of this addition. My involvement here indicated that businesses are aware that IT is changing the way we live. Slowly but surely this is becoming more apparent in the work environment, with customers changing the face of IT using more engaging approaches that are accessible to their users.
Many of you will have seen that Computacenter were recognised as one of the Top Job Crowd Companies to work for as a Graduate. Along with a few associates, representing the Programme on this night was definitely a top highlight of the last 6 months (not just for the champagne I must add)! It is a testament to those that have been involved in the Programme and who have helped with our development, the culture of the company is one that has welcomed us and made us part of the team! Although the next 6 months will be challenging with new rotations, and new learning to come, it is evident already that the support around us is endless from our buddies, coaches, mentors and surrounding teams.
This week we welcome our new Graduates with Projects Practice to CC! Don’t let the pressure of trying to impress everyone become stressful, be enthusiastic and positive! Step outside of your comfort zone, take every opportunity to learn and understand how the company works (people love to talk about what they do, make the most of it)!
The next 6 months bring exciting times for all! Thanks for reading, next month we shall hear from Henry Lord.