Time to change security – “no time for more of the same.”

 

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

Colin W

@colinwccuk

 

An update from our 2016 Associates

lord-banner

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.productive-meeting

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. mo-running

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!

 

An update from our 2016 associates

priya banner

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.

post office.jpg

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.

job crowd.jpg

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.

There is no “Agile” outcome if the network “isn’t”.

I must start this blog with an apology (sorry) – the grammatical form of the title would have me struck down by my primary school English teacher, however I can find no other way to convey my meaning. “Agile” is the current next big thing and rightly so for many organisations whether development, operations or both. If speed of development (application), accelerated time to market and potentially reduced development costs are the primary aims of the enterprise, “Agile” delivers immense value.

But the euphoria seems to drive a mushroom cloud of activity involving selected internal operational and technology areas, for example servers, storage and compute. It’s clear “Agile” discussions ignite wholesale changes in those common areas, but has been slow to affect others most notably networking & security – and there lies a problem. At present application development teams, IT operations functions and most importantly the line of business teams are proactively gravitating towards each other as the “Agile” train pulls into the station. The cultural, emotional and operational shift required to make “Agile” a reality is now very real with green shoots of benefit now starting to appear.

But I challenge the effectiveness of the current “Agile” momentum due to a major elephant remaining in the room – network readiness. At present I view first hand many organisations with “Agile” transformation a fundamental element of their corporate manifesto but continuing with a network that may be highly reliable and functional but one not lubricating or accelerating the agile journey. Does this instantly fast forward to a software defined networking discussion – my heart says no but finally my head overrules with yes. Software defined networking is NOT networking without hardware – unless everything we know is physics is to be rewritten or eliminated that will never happen. But it is networking optimised by the use of software to increase programmability (and therefore personalisation) and automation (and therefore consistency and efficiency).

The benefit software defined ideals deliver to networking outcomes are many fold but must notably security benefits, speed and consistency of change which in turn makes the network agile. Surely this must signpost a notable change of priority, to shift network transformation further up the business technology priority list to enable tangible business value – if your network is not agile “is the business truly delivering agile operational or workload outcomes”.

Agile development is here to stay and with businesses now operating at warp speed agile is helping to drive organisations into the brave new ever changing world. But a network however stable, ridden with complexity and human latency MUST now change to be the optimum transport of digital change. It’s time to ask your organisation if the network is really making the business agile – if not, now is the time for change.

Computacenter can help.

Until next time

Colin W

Twitter: @colinwccuk

 

An update from our 2016 Associates

banner

In the spirit of alternating between Service & Sales associates, and following Bryony’s blog earlier this month, I now have the chance to get you caught up on what the Sales Associates have been up to.  For anyone that has met me, my approach to telling this story will come as no surprise, we are going down a sports route!

Jessica closed off by talking about her rotations with Inside Sales, Bid Management & her Sector, TMT & Retail. I would like to take the opportunity to echo her comments in particular with respect to Bid Management.  I too had the dawning realisation that I was owning and driving a bid for a real customer!  Scary stuff but to pull out this blog’s first sporting reference, punch bags are all good, but you learn a lot when you take one on the jaw!

ali

This leads me onto one thing I feel compelled to do, June saw the very sad passing of a legend, icon, champion, and visionary in and outside of the ring.  Muhammad Ali is somebody I spent a lot of time watching over the last 10 years, and the world is a less talented place today than it was last week as I write this.

My blog will cover off three recent experiences the programme has given me; my time in sector, returning to my old department, Group Partner Management, and sharing the opportunities at Computacenter with university students.

Spending time with different Computacenter people, at numerous & varied customers has been a really insightful learning opportunity.  Not only is what our customers do very different, the ways in which they work, the people we engage with and their goals and objectives are equally if not more different!  The Associate programme is a great platform in allowing you to experience these differences and get an appreciation of the intricacies and nuances to overcome in the sales role. Much like the NFL quarterbacks of today, the small gaps they throw into, all the while being chased down by 300+ lbs defenders, selling is complex, with lots of moving parts. It’s making sure they all come together on time, that’s the key.

quater back

My most recent rotation took me back to Group Partner Management where my Computacenter journey started.  This allowed me to really push myself into new areas of the technology stack.  Workplace coupled with Unified Communications stand out to me as areas in which I really grew my understanding.  I really appreciate the effort the teams made to help us as a cohort meet with both the GPM specialists, and the partners themselves.  Equally, it’s always nice to see my former colleagues and catch up, however I’m not sure my ankles will ever look the same after one particular 5 a side session, you know who you are!

red card

The recruitment process for the 2017 intake of Associates is about to begin.  I had the real pleasure of joining Nathan & Lowri from the Service Management programme at my alma mater, Nottingham Trent University, for their graduate careers day. It was hard to believe we are already six months in!  We spent the day selling to students the great opportunities here at Computacenter and got really some really positive interactions from students throughout the day, and we look forward to seeing some come through the recruitment process in the coming months. I am excited to be helping the next group of Associates through their programme, joining team Computacenter!

The programme is really flying by, up next, our presentations to Kevin James & senior sales management before heading out to grow our understanding of the Solutions business.

Next up we’ll be hearing from Priya.

Promote business champions to lead technological adoption in your workforce

In my last blog, we began to uncover the value a super user can bring to modern working environments and the need to bring these unknowing super users out of the shadows. Modern IT service desks should be the central hub for technological innovation within the workplace and empower users with the knowledge, technology and support they need. This will allow your workforce to solve their own day-to-day IT issues and champion wider innovative solutions throughout their career.

A recent example of where this has worked is with Hays Recruitment who wanted to provide employees with a broader choice of engagement channels to interact with IT service teams. This was in a drive for increased productivity enabled through the minimisation of system downtime. Hays has historically been positioned as the leading digital recruitment agency, being the first in the industry to adopt truly digital recruitment selection and placement. Revenue generation at Hays is dependent on the productivity of its 2,200-plus UK sales consultants, and with technology playing an ever-increasing role in the selection and placement of client’s, employees’ IT queries and issues need to be dealt with quickly.

At the end of 2015, Hays became an early adopter of Computacenter’s Next Generation Service Desk (NGSD) solution. The NGSD offering was well positioned to manage the business needs of Hays, providing a consumer-like, user-centric experience with anytime, anywhere IT support and knowledge delivered via an intuitive online portal and mobile app.

Although the NGSD solution can be integrated and laid on top of existing infrastructure, the success of the solution was not simply a golden bullet. Instead, Computacenter and the team at Hays needed to create a desirable business environment that would encourage the whole workforce to truly understand the capabilities of the technology, adopting the behaviour into their working norms. In order for this to take place, we offered a new approach to service desk deployment asking internal employees to agree, nominate or suggest business champions for each team, division or office.

The business champions are a perfect depiction of Computacenter’s overall approach to solution deployment, focusing on customer-centricity. The champions’ involvement in the concept formulisation stage are a vital aspect of the success of a modern service desk deployment, as they can tailor internal communication and drive behavioural change, whilst integrating unique capabilities that will benefit their internal workforce. Stephen Gerhardt, IT Production Services Director at Hays believes this was a key to its success, “The business champions helped drive the piloting and testing phases, and remain a great conduit for feedback from the user base.”

Through implementing the solution, a number of success factors were achieved including:

  • 60% of IT support transactions at Hays Recruitment now happen online
  • An average of 1,180 web chats and 370 self-logged incidents per month
  • Hays does not display or offer the help desk phone number anywhere within the Hays ecosystem, replacing that with an NGSD widget
  • Staff outside of the UK can log an incident at any time instead of having to wait for the service desk to open at 7am

By providing relevant and responsive support 24 hours a day, Hays are able to maximise the time that staff spend on revenue generating activities, which helps to drive profitable growth. The user-centric support experience will also contribute to greater staff retention and satisfaction moving forward.

Service desks have been involved in business operations for decades and have been doing a reasonable job at coping with operational IT service issues. By bringing exceptional user experience, combined with popular consumer features and a fully engaged workforce, an effective and streamlined service desk will transform productivity and efficiency whilst encouraging innovative developments in workplace technology. This enables the service desk and the workforce itself to move from an operational technology to a enablement experience, in relation to driving change and hosting innovative solutions.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will explore the implementation techniques that allow the NGSD proposition to differentiate itself from market norms. To find out more on the rapid implementation that we rolled out with Hays, see the full case study here.

An update from our 2016 Associates

bryony banner

First of all I would like to thank Hollie for the previous blog.  The Services University was a great day and I’m sure everyone else enjoyed it just as much as I did.

I can hardly believe that I have already been at Computacenter for almost 5 months.  Everyone said the time would fly by and believe me it has.  It seems like only yesterday that we arrived, in our new suits, on January the 11th.  When I said to my friends that I was becoming a Service Management Associate, I got a sea of blank faces.  Even now I’m not sure they really know what I do!  I think this is down to the fact that you can never really know what day you are going to have when you turn up at the office.  This is what I really like about this job.  The variety.

So before I carry on to tell you about my time so far at Computacenter, I will tell you a little bit about myself.  Prior to starting at Computacenter, I lived in both Germany and the Netherlands before completing my degree in London.  I recently returned from a 5 month backpacking trip through Asia and Australasia.  So stepping into the Associate Programme was certainly stepping into the unknown!

But one of the really great things about working for Computacenter is you don’t necessarily have to have an IT background.  All of us Service Management Associates have varying degrees and backgrounds from History to Geography.  But this doesn’t hinder, rather enhance discussions and conversations.  It is also nice to know that you are not the only one who is learning about the difference between Linux and Unix or Mainframes and Iseries.

TFL logo

All of us Service Management Associates are now on our second Home Account Rotation.  We have all been placed on varying accounts.  Myself on TFL and others on accounts such as NHS Worcester, UBS and VISA.  Although these are all very varied accounts, I think all of us would agree that it is nice to be getting our hands dirty and learning more about what it will be like to become a Service Manager at the end of the Associate Programme.

I have really enjoyed the time that I have spent so far on TfL.  I am able to get involved in the day to day events that take place on the account.  From the daily service reviews to implementing new reporting methods.  It is great to feel part of the team and put some of the theory that I have learnt into practice.  Even though I am on the same account for a couple of weeks I am still learning from different areas, from the scheduling function, to the engineering function and also from different service providers on the account.

How could I complain whilst working in a location with this for a view?!

view

Whilst talking to other graduates on similar service management programmes this afternoon, I realised what an opportunity we have with Computacenter.  We are lucky enough to be able to rotate around not only different accounts but also different areas of the business, meaning 18 months down the line when we become Service Managers, we really do understand the internal processes.  We are able to learn from all of the people that we meet and build those all-important relationships for the future.

We have one week left on our home account rotations, before moving on to our Commercial and Governance Rotation.  I am looking forward to learning about a new area of Computacenter and how this will help me in the future.  Furthermore it will give all of us Service Management Associates a chance to work together again.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, next month we will hear from Alex Griffin.