Archive | May 2012

Software to cost up to a third more – are you affected?

Whilst many of us are winding down for a well earned break over the extended bank holiday, our specialist software licensing team are bracing themselves for one of the busiest periods of the year – and this year is proving to be one of the busiest ever!

On top of the spike traditionally created Microsoft’s financial year end, we are also dealing with the additional demand created by Microsoft’s proposed increases to their UK volume licensing prices. As one of Microsoft’s Large Account Resellers (LAR) we have been asked for our viewpoint by the media and advice from our customers at an increasing rate.

You can see a recent article here Microsoft volume licensing costs to increase up to 33.5% and detail on our website here

It is all to easy to suggest that this news has been out in the market for many weeks now and everybody should have developed a strategy to deal with it – but is very apparent to us that the news is still landing for some of our clients or decisions are still yet to be made. It is our aspiration to try and make sure that we help avoid any unnecessary anguish for current and prospective clients by helping them develop a strategic approach to these changes and their software assets as a whole.

If you are still unsure of your options or just need some advice and guidance on our software solutions, feel free to contact me directly, contact your account manager or email

“Is my data safe – are my systems secure”. Knock once for Yes and twice for No

IT security infrastructure and associated services aim to deliver the secure computing outcomes expected by enterprise organisation. Put simply via effective use of polices, process, IT security platforms, intellect and a little bit of luck organisations and their customers trade and interact in a secure manner.

But do they really? If 2011 was the year of the hack, 2012 is already becoming the year of the advanced attack. The security threat is no longer one of simple endpoint viruses or malware (even though they still exist), but one of advanced threats and attacks with a level of sophistication that makes them difficult to detect. The term APT (advanced persistent threat) seemed to be a marketing term to sensationalise and align real focus to the new wave of multi vector attacks. But no sooner had we branded them, the innovation within the attacks in question has increased.

The new kid on the block is allegedly “Flame“, a virus claimed to be the most complex malware ever found. Threat analysts worldwide have positioned “Flame” as potentially another nation state style malware vehicle that steals carefully selected data (Stuxnet was allegedly another), with a level of sophistication that may take years to analyse and understand.

In the past, this could be ignored as one of those IT systems, or technology based problems that the IT team should solve (and are paid to solve) so deemed less of a priority amongst the non technical community. But with so many high profile names (including Government bodies) now regularly appearing on BBC news apologising for data loss means it may not only be happening by stealth within your organisation, it may be happening as you read this blog (as the best malware isn’t designed to be easily found).

Does that mean it’s time to admit defeat and prepare your apology (and potential resignation letter). Absolutely not – now is the time to challenge even your most secure environment and ask yourself that worrying question “Is my data secure”? Can you really answer “Yes” with confidence?

Enjoy the Queens Jubilee weekend (and keep safe)

Until next time.

Colin W

Twitter: @colinwccuk

Facebook – Will this brave new world be the right new world

Last Friday was one of those days that will be remembered in the history of modern IT. The one they have all been waiting for finally happened. No, that is not England winning a major football tournament in the post millenium era(sadly still waiting for that one), Facebook the poster child of the brave new social networking world has finally gone public. The share buying frenzy has started with industry watchers polarized on whether Facebook is a “must have stock” or a “wait and see if it’s a must have stock”.

For me whatever happens to the Facebook stock (and I hope for all of our sakes its good things), it is impossible to avoid the impact of Facebook on our social, professional and technical lives. It’s now our social communications norm, its now important to HR professionals within companies as any employee evaluation tool, its fast becoming the “marketing persons” dream platform and from an IT and networking perspective is forcing IT & networks systems to move and manage data at levels previously unimagined. Big data is another of those “buzz phrases” those in the know discuss at length but often struggle to point to easy to digest examples of Big Data at work. Facebook and the data generated and manipulated by its 800m users is a real world example of big data at work, doing work. With my networking, security and visual collaboration hat on imagine the daily challenge faced by Facebook to keep the data used by 800m users, secure, accessible, resistant to failure and available at high speed – 24x7x365. 

Now that’s how I like to see modern technology at work, solving highly complex problems, empowering the end user – but almost invisible to them. Maybe the Facebook share frenzy is justified after all.
Until next time.
Colin Williams

Twitter: @Colinwccuk

Are the exceptions of the PC era becoming the new assumptions of the Cloud era?

Last week, I spent some time in the US with one of our strategic software partners, Citrix. As an organisation, they have been on an impressive spree of acquisitions and product development that has resulted in a diversified portfolio that spans: online services; desktop and application virtualisation; cloud networking; cloud platforms and more recently file sharing. Not bad for a company that a decade years ago was known for mainly one product with revenues less than $1B!

One of the straplines that Mark Templeton (CEO, Citrix) used for his keynote was “the exceptions of the PC era are becoming the new assumptions of the Cloud era”. Clearly with a business focused on Mobile and Cloud you can understand why he feels that such a prediction should come true!

But it was noticeable to me during the week that the 4,000 or so attendees (less than 10% from EMEA) were embracing this message with the level of appreciation and hoopla that our rather less inhibited cousins from across the pond can sometimes exhibit! 🙂

We are undoubtedly going through a period of change in the way we consume and use technology (you only have to read through the variety of topics we have covered in the blogs more recently) despite this, most European businesses and public bodies have endured tough times in recent years. But, regardless of how painful the recession and however far-reaching its effects, technology has retained its power to cut costs and support business transformation – when implemented properly. Shiny devices and cloud computing may grab the headlines, but nowhere has the transformation of IT been more tangible and important to end users than in the workplace arena.

That’s fundamentally why we believe our clients are on the journey to a ‘contemporary’ workplace – it’s about getting modern and staying modern. However, we do appreciate that it’s also about the appropriate use of technology and what’s right for one type of company may not meet the needs of another. However, as with most industry inflection points, it becomes less of a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ will such a transition takes place? If the amount of investment, energy and innovation being driven by corporations such as Microsoft, VMware, Apple and Citrix continue at the pace we are currently experiencing, it could be here sooner than we may think!

If you’d like to take a look first hand at how Mark sees the future for his organisation meeting the industry challenge you can check it out here.

Is an Ultrabook the answer?

I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting a single device to lug around the place. It needs to be light, powerful, have a great screen, look good, last for hours etc. I remember when the tablet was first muted and asked then which item(s) I already had it would replace. Having had an iPad for a while now, the answer is, it hasn’t. I still have a Smartphone (would be difficult but not impossible to use the iPad for this but you’d need big pockets and skin the thickness of Dom Joly) and my Notebook.

On occasion I take all three devices with me when I need to do some ‘proper’ work, specifically creating in addition to reviewing. When travelling overnight and especially abroad, I have left the Notebook at home a few times and this has made a very positive difference to the holdall weight but there’s always that nagging doubt…

On the face of it, the Ultrabook does appear to combine the functionality of the Notebook while coming closer to the weight and battery life of the Tablet. The new Intel Ivy Bridge processors will further improve matters in the battery life department and Windows 8 will support touch, perhaps the single biggest USP of the iPad (as well as ‘instant on’). Oh, and that screen…

I’m eagerly awaiting my first Ultrabook and although it won’t be loaded with Windows 8 when received, it will provide a strong pointer to the future. If you’ve never had an iPad then this is probably the ideal solution but if like me you have, it will be a tougher call.

Client computing has become sexy again and whether you love or hate Apple, we should all probably thank them as it’s their innovation and design that is driving the competing manufacturers to produce better products.

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