All posts by Featured Articles

Citrix appoints 30-year tech vet Bob Calderoni as interim CEO

7 Oct, 2021

Citrix has named board chairman Bob Calderoni as interim CEO and president, replacing David Henshall, who had held both roles since 2017.

The changes will take effect “immediately”, the company said in a statement, which also thanked Henshall for his service.

Henshall’s tenure at the company covered its transition to the cloud and “significant” improvements to products and SaaS offerings, the firm said. His work was also “instrumental” in helping the company and its employees navigate the pandemic. He has also held CFO and COO roles since joining the company in 2003.

“The entire Board thanks him for his contributions over nearly 20 years,” said Calderoni.

“We remain focused on transitioning the business to SaaS as we work to securely deliver a unified work experience for our valued customers. I look forward to leading the company into its next phase of growth and success, and I am confident that this will be a smooth leadership transition.”

Calderoni brings over 30 years of executive experience in the technology sector, including seven as a director of Citrix. He has previously worked as interim CEO, holding the position from 2015 to 2016, before Henshall’s appointment. The company’s lead independent director, Nanci Caldwell, called him a “natural choice” to lead the Company at this time.

“Bob knows our products, markets, customers and culture,” Caldwell said. “The board is confident he is the right person to drive the company’s continued transformation and deliver value to our shareholders.”

In a final note, Henshall also praised Calderoni, referring to him as a “strong leader” who is deeply familiar with Citrix.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished together and confident that the company will continue to innovate and deliver for all stakeholders under Bob’s leadership,” said Henshall.

There were further changes at board level, with Dr Ajei Gopal departing the company after four-years. This was to avoid any potential conflicts of interest that could arise due to him holding both president and CEO positions at another company, Ansys, where Calderoni is also a board member.

Is it cloudy in manufacturing?

22 Jul, 2021

More than a quarter of IT directors in manufacturing are concerned about slow performance when running applications in the cloud, according to new research from label design and management software provider NiceLabel. However, eliminating issues around performance and legacy systems integration would spark a faster migration, with 50% ‘much more likely to move their applications to the cloud’ as a result.

How manufacturing approaches its use of cloud deployments will be subjective. As Rohit Gupta, senior product manager at Cognizant, tells IT Pro, some businesses are further along their cloud path than others: “Some manufacturers have taken Industry 4.0 very seriously and have made an effort to implement technologies at scale to adopt it. However, most manufacturers have taken Industry 4.0 one step at a time, first trying to prove the benefits of each technology they implement so they can scale up confidently further down the line. The era of scaling up will arrive when Industry 4.0 is truly realised but we’re not fully there yet.”

IoT and 5G will usher in a new level of connectivity all manufacturers can benefit from and cloud is an essential partner, albeit one that will need to be integrated with a range of new and legacy technologies.

The manufacturing cloud

In the past, manufacturing operations management (MOM) applications were deployed within a manufacturer’s site. With little network capacity, businesses had a very insular approach. As Industry 4.0 continues to develop, and a new age of connectivity expands, MOM applications can move to the cloud, if this is viable.

Speaking to IT Pro, Maddie Walker, Industry X practice lead at Accenture UKI, explains that bringing manufacturers increasingly into cloud environments is the future of their businesses. “Firstly, Industry 4.0 has brought connectivity to the factory floor,” she says. “For example, you have market leaders using digital monitoring and maintenance technologies and automating processes to speed up decision making. You also have leading companies deploying full robotic automation in production. By embedding AI and analytics into operations, and evolving with robotics and digital twin technologies, manufacturers are augmenting their human workforces with technology and providing greater insights.”

Another critical trend is composable IT architectures and how they connect with cloud and hybrid data centre deployments that might be in place. “By identifying available resource pools, the IT architecture will be able to assess, review and determine the availability and utilisation of all IT resource pools – ensuring that there is compute and storage space for operations,” explains Andreas Rindler, managing director at consultancy firm BCG Platinion. “Meanwhile, dynamic resource sharing will mean that the architecture can optimise the utilisation and provisioning of the right resources where and when needed, speeding up processes.”

And the use of digital twins is also expected to expand across manufacturing rapidly. Estimates from Juniper Research put spending on digital twin technologies to be over a third (34%) of total spending by manufacturers this year.

Smart manufacturing

The creation of the smart factory has been a long time coming. Today several technologies are converging to make the manufacturing landscape more intelligent. 

Walker explains that data and analytics are at the core of the smart factory: “Combining IoT with data analytics tools on the cloud allows manufacturers to receive key information at pace and provides them with a detailed picture of where efficiencies can be made across their suite of smart manufacturing products. It’s these insights that allow factories to be ‘smart’ – by linking humans, machines, and products across the value chain and decisions can be made quickly.”

Even with a range of mature and semi-mature technologies available, the manufacturing space can seem sluggish compared to other sectors or industries. Mark Yeeles, vice president of industrial automation at Schneider Electric UK&I, believes the slow pace of digitisation is not entirely the manufacturers’ fault. “Most accounts, several digitisation efforts have yet to achieve their anticipated benefits,” he says. “However, we can’t place all the blame on the technology for not reaching its full potential. The technology is there – frequently, the complexities that operate within running a business or factory that hold it back. 

“For example, many factories and the automation machinery within them aren’t always brand new, made by a singular brand and interconnected by a cutting-edge operating system. Embracing this fact and helping customers to connect by using [technologies] such as the Cloud can help them to scale up and garner greater intelligence to make better business decisions and improve operational efficiency.

There is little doubt that the cloud will have a profound and long-lasting impact on every aspect of manufacturing. As Gupta says, the future is cloudy: “The era of scaling up will arrive when Industry 4.0 is truly realised but we’re not fully there yet. The number of manufacturers currently using cloud in any sophisticated way is minimal because the industry has been slower to keep up with the digital world. However, this will very quickly change as the adoption rate of cloud in manufacturing is staggering – 94% of companies already use a cloud service in some form (according to Flexera). This tells us that there is a lot more to come, and soon, so watch this space.”

Manufacturers can see that the cloud will underpin their businesses, but cost and updating legacy systems are slowing the adoption of Industry 4.0. However, investments must be made to take advantage of the range of technologies integrated to create a smart factory. 

Eric Stoop, CEO of manufacturing software specialist EASE, implores leaders across manufacturing businesses to embrace the cloud now: “While this is understandable, especially as the pandemic continues, history shows us that those who take action in difficult times come out the other side stronger. Manufacturers should view any cloud technology spend as an investment in future profitability rather than a cost that impacts the bottom line in the short term. “

5G, IoT, AR and AI will all influence how a factory will operate not in the distant future but tomorrow. The manufacturing space has a range of new technologies to deploy. The hesitancy evident in some quarters is understandable as any change in the manufacturing industry has always been traditionally slower than in other sectors. However, change is accelerating and manufacturers who can embrace the new technologies and integrate them seamlessly will create next-generation factories.

AWS launches Amazon Detective for investigating security incidents

1 Apr, 2020

AWS has announced the general availability of Amazon Detective, the company’s automated security service. 

Amazon Detective works with machine learning and statistical analysis to build visualised maps of security threats in a customer’s cloud. Rather than a security team compiling all the relevant data to analyse and conduct a lengthy investigation, it automatically pulls data from services like CloudTrail and customer logs. 

The information is then run through AWS GuardDuty which compiles a graph that details all interactions across the customer’s infrastructure. Everything is run from the Amazon Management Console and, according to AWS, in just a few clicks your IT team can have a detailed report of the problem and where it has come from. 

The graph model is also continuously updated as new data becomes available from the customer’s AWS resources, allowing security teams to spend less time looking through constantly changing data sources and freeing them up to work on remediation. 

The service is being offered with no upfront fees but customers will pay if they need to upload data from AWS CloudTrail and other AWS services they use. 

“Even when customers tell us their security teams have the tools and information to confidently detect and remediate issues, they often say they need help when it comes to understanding what caused the issues in the first place,” said Dan Plastina, VP for security services at AWS. 

“Gathering the information necessary to conduct effective security investigations has traditionally been a burdensome process, which can put crucial in-depth analysis out of reach for smaller organisations and strain resources for larger teams. Amazon Detective takes all of that extra work off of the customer’s plate, allowing them to focus on finding the root cause of an issue and ensuring it doesn’t happen again.”

The service is available from today in Europe, the US, South America and parts of Asia, with more regions coming soon, the company confirmed. 

Organise your life with Trello

13 Feb, 2020

To do, doing and done: that’s Trello in a nutshell. The tool is based on Kanban, a project-management and development method named after the Japanese word for “billboard”.

That’s a fair description of what Trello looks like: just as a community noticeboard will be covered in notices of events, jobs and announcements, so a Trello board holds lots of small “cards”. Each one usually details a single task, with your various cards grouped into lists to help keep everything organised.

Here’s a practical example of how Kanban works. When editors on our sister site Expert Reviews want to cover a product or news story, they create a Trello card and place it in a list entitled “Ideas”. Once the feature has been commissioned, the card is dragged onto the “Writing” list. When the copy is received, the card is moved into the “Editing” list, after which it will go into the “Publishing” list and so on. 

What makes Trello so powerful is that there’s no requirement to follow a particular workflow. You can create as many lists as you like and structure your Trello board to suit your needs. That flexibility has helped Trello gain more than 50 million users, including large organisations from Adobe to UNICEF – as well as individuals seeking to stay on top of their personal projects. If you haven’t yet considered Trello, it’s time you did. Here’s how it can help you to organise your life.

Creating your account

Getting started with Trello doesn’t have to cost a penny: you can create a free account here. You’ll see that there are also Personal, Business and Enterprise plans at various prices, but for individuals and small businesses the free service may be all you need. It offers an unlimited number of personal boards, cards and lists, and allows you to attach files of up to 10MB to your cards. It also lets you create up to ten team boards, which can be shared between users.

Being signed up to the free service doesn’t limit your ability to connect to other boards, either. If you use Trello both at work and home, your login gives you convenient central access to all of the boards to which you’ve been granted access – including both paid-for and private ones. 

Setting up a personal board is easy. Once you’ve logged in, you just need to click the plus icon at the top of the interface and give your new board a name when prompted. Your board will immediately appear. If, later on, you want to remove a board from your account, you must first close it (by selecting Show Menu | More… | Close Board…). You can then delete it by clicking the menu button on your Trello dashboard, followed by More | Delete Board….

New boards appear empty, with a prompt to create your first list. Enter a title for this and then move on to create as many additional lists as you need. When you’ve finished, click the “X” to close the new list dialog. Don’t worry if you’re not sure at first exactly how to structure your board as you can always reorganise things later. You can reorder lists by simply grabbing their headers and dragging them around, and you can add extra lists via the “Add another list” button that appears at the right end of your board. 

Now you’ve got at least one list, it’s time to populate it with some cards. You can do this by clicking the three dots at the top of a list and selecting “Add Card…” – or you can click the “Add a card” link at the bottom. Once you’ve named a card, you can click into it to give a more detailed description, add notes, attach a file or link and so on. One particularly useful feature is the ability to set deadlines and reminders for individual cards: to do this, click “Due Date” from the “Add to card” menu. Once you’ve got several cards in a list, you can drag them into any order you like, and drag them between lists as needed.

You can also create new cards by email, which can be convenient if you quickly want to add an item to your board while you’re out and about. To make use of this feature, you’ll need your board’s unique email address: to find this, click More and pick “Email-to-board Settings”. Copy the address shown and save it in your contacts for convenient access later on. Note that this address is unique to you, so if other people have access to the board, they will need to use their own address.

You can now create a card by simply sending or forwarding any email to this address; the contents will be added to a new card, along with any attachments up to an overall limit of 10MB. You can set which list emailed cards are added to by clicking List under “Your emailed cards appear in…” and picking from the menu. If you want more control over Trello via email, plugins are available for G Suite and Outlook, which allow you to customise new cards from within your email client.

When a card reaches the end of its workflow, you can archive it from the main dialog menu that opens when you click on it, or from the context menu that opens when you right-click. Archiving a card removes it from the board, but it won’t actually be deleted unless you click the Delete button that appears on archived cards. You can review, restore or purge archived cards from the list that appears when you click Show Menu | Archived Items. 

Use Trello Power-Ups

There are plenty more clever things you can do with Trello, courtesy of the plugins it calls “Power-Ups”. If you’re on the free plan, you can add a single Power-Up to your boards, while paid users can enable as many as they like.

As an example, if you use Slack to communicate with your colleagues, activating the Slack Power-Up allows you to click and drag Slack content directly onto a card. Other supported platforms include Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and Mailchimp. In fact, just about any popular business tool will happily integrate. 

Integrations can also work in the other direction. Every Trello board has a calendar, which records the due dates applied to your cards. You can incorporate these into Outlook or Google Calendar using the Calendar Power-Up: to enable it, point your browser here and click Add Power-Up.

Once it’s enabled, return to your board and click on the gear icon, followed by Calendar Settings. Click “Enable sync” and copy the calendar address from the iCalendar Feed box. In Outlook, you can now open your calendar, click Open Calendar in the Home tab, click From Internet… on the menu that appears and paste in the address you copied. Events from your Trello calendar will now appear alongside those already in your Outlook calendar. You can hide them by unticking the Trello calendar in the sidebar’s My Calendars section.

Google Calendar users, meanwhile, simply need to click the three dots beside “Add calendar” in the sidebar, then paste the copied calendar address into the URL box and click to save their settings.

Save time with Trello templates

We’ve mentioned that Trello can be adapted for any type of workflow, but if someone else has already developed a board that serves your needs, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Click here and you’ll find a broad selection of ready-to-use boards for jobs such as managing a marketing calendar, planning a trip, generating ideas in the early stages of a project and propagating a corporate overview.

Note that, although a template may be free to integrate, it might rely on Power-Ups. The Learn A Language template for example – created by the CEO of Duolingo – uses the Google Drive and Calendar Power-Ups, while the Etsy Order Fulfillment template uses the Dropbox, Custom Fields and Power-Ups. As we’ve noted, free users can only use a single Power-Up so you may need to create your own workaround, or subscribe to a paid plan to take full advantage of Trello’s potential.

Automating Trello

A lot of what you do in Trello will be repetitive – and we don’t just mean dragging cards from one column to another. For example, it’s likely that you will have weekly or monthly maintenance tasks to perform, and when you create cards of a certain type you might want to give them all default due dates. However, rather than laboriously doing this for every single card, you can apply automation using Trello’s Butler Power-Up.

Simply put, Butler works on the principle of triggers and actions, as its developer Oscar Triscon explains: “Imagine having an assistant that can be instructed to react to your actions on the board. You tell him: ‘When I move a card to the Done list, please mark the due date complete in a card, add a green label and post a comment saying ‘@board I got this’.’ Then, every time you move a card to Done, those actions are performed on the card – as if by magic. You can set up rules just like that one using Butler, which is built into every Trello board. Importantly, you don’t need to know any computer programming: the rules are entered in plain English.”

There’s plenty more you can do with Butler: it lets you add buttons to cards and boards, create schedules and manipulate due dates. So you can, for example, configure it to create a series of standard cards at the start of each day or week, or add a button to your dashboard that organises all of your tasks by deadline. 

It’s worth keeping in mind that free account users only have access to basic Butler actions, such as setting due dates, creating checklists and moving cards automatically. Paid subscribers get the full feature set, but Personal users can run only 200 commands per month performing up to 2,000 operations, while those on the Business and Enterprise plans get much higher limits.

Connect Trello to other apps

If Trello’s built-in automation doesn’t do quite what you want, you can use the IFTTT automation platform to expand its capabilities using third-party tools such as Evernote, Pocket and the Google Assistant. Get started by heading to and clicking Connect. Read what rights you’ll be granting IFTTT and, if you’re happy with them, click “Log in”, followed by Allow.

You’ll also need to connect the third-party services you want to integrate with Trello, assuming you haven’t already done so. To do this, click in the search box at the top of the screen, enter the name of the service you want to use – we’ll use the Google Assistant for this example – click Services and again click Connect to log in to your account.

Once you’ve connected both Google Assistant and Trello to IFTTT, you can then use the former to control the latter. Go here and click Connect and then customise the commands you can speak to your Google Assistant to create a new Trello card (see screenshot opposite). The “$” in the preset commands represents a spoken variable, which will be used as the title of the card you create. So, if you said “Okay Google, add tax return to the Trello list”, the card would be titled “tax return”. Scroll further down the screen, choose which board and list you want new cards to appear in, then click Save.

Convert Post-it notes to Trello boards

If you’re currently relying on a forest of Post-it notes for your project management needs, the transition to Trello shouldn’t be too difficult – after all, a Trello board already looks like a wall covered in notes. What’s more, 3M (the firm behind the ubiquitous yellow stickers) has built a handy feature into its free Post-it app for Android and iOS that lets you capture and digitise up to 200 notes at a time using your phone or tablet’s camera and export them directly to Trello. Download it here.

It’s also possible to send captured content to PowerPoint, Excel and Dropbox, or export it as PDF. You can scan things other than Post-it notes, too – but the app is optimised for square content so rectangular notes will be squashed. 

Microsoft overhauls its privacy policy amid EU concerns

18 Nov, 2019

Microsoft has said it will be updating its privacy provisions for commercial cloud contracts after a report from EU regulators last month questioned the company’s ability to comply with data laws.

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), an independent authority that oversees the application of GDPR, launched an investigation in April to assess whether the company’s contracts with EU institutions violated the rules.

The results of that investigation, released in October, raised “serious concerns” about Microsoft’s ability to provide appropriate safeguards for the processing of data done on behalf of the EU bodies it services.

In a statement on its website on Monday, Microsoft said: “We are announcing today we will increase our data protection responsibilities for a subset of processing that Microsoft engages in when we provide enterprise services”.

Last year the company worked alongside the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security to amend contractual terms of a services agreement after authorities raised similar concerns about the lack of technical safeguards for the processing of data.

Monday’s privacy policy update is designed to extend those amendments across all commercial cloud contracts globally for both the private and public sector, the company explained.

“We will clarify that Microsoft assumes the role of data controller when we process data for specified administrative and operational purposes incident to providing the cloud services covered by this contractual framework, such as Azure, Office 365, Dynamics and Intune,” the company said.

“This subset of data processing serves administrative or operational purposes such as account management; financial reporting; combatting cyberattacks on any Microsoft product or service; and complying with our legal obligations.

“The change to assert Microsoft as the controller for this specific set of data uses will serve our customers by providing further clarity about how we use data, and about our commitment to be accountable under GDPR to ensure that the data is handled in a compliant way.”

Microsoft will remain the data processor when providing its services, fixing bugs, operating security services, and providing software updates, the statement added.

The policy overhaul comes just days after the company committed to applying the California Consumer Privacy Act to all US states once it comes into force in January 2020, although it has no legal obligation to do so.

The company expects the new policy terms to be applied to all commercial cloud contracts by the beginning of 2020.

View from the airport: Commvault GO 2019

22 Oct, 2019

Data and backup specialist Commvault devoted a large part of its annual GO conference redefining itself in the eyes of its partners and customers. Inevitably, there was a lot of buzz about what this ‘new Commvault’ actually meant.

The first and most obvious part of that mission was the company’s subtle rebrand, something it clearly hoped would serve as the signifier of a new chapter, and a move away from the recent stagnancy into which it had slipped. With slight changes to the colours and typeface – it improves the aesthetic somewhat. I have to say, though, it was a little underwhelming.

The second, more important aspect, was to use the event to address the growing unease among customers and partners. Our discussions with partners, by and large, suggest this was a moderate success, and there was certainly a sense of energy lacking in Nashville last year, beyond that emanating from the music scene.

This excitement was perhaps encapsulated most by the launch of Metallic, a standalone software as a service (SaaS) venture that pointedly departs from the Commvault brand and forges its own identity. I wasn’t the only one confused as to why Metallic wasn’t released under the wider product umbrella. The rationale was that it grew from within the company like a startup, with its own dedicated team, and that certainly adds up. Yet, reading between the lines, it’s clear the firm recognises it has work to do in addressing a set of issues tied to the Commvault identity.

Connotations that its technology is hard to use, that pricing is too high and confusing, and that Commvault itself is something of a throwback compared to the new kids on the block, are – as one partner put it – three fairly “crippling” attributes. This isn’t to say Commvault hasn’t moved to address these, with Mirchandani stressing numerous times the ‘complexity’ notion is a “myth” that he’s now striving to bust, given recent changes to the platform.

The firm as a whole must now face the reality of the hand it’s been dealt. It’s good, then, that we saw evidence of a strategy that could pave the way for a change in its fortunes. Recent changes to its channel programme, and new hires in the form of industry veterans Mercer Rowe and Edison Peres, should go some way towards addressing the barriers resellers face.

The new venture, Metallic, of course, smacks of a gimmick, but it actually addresses a gap in the market, and seemingly trumps alternative SaaS backup options. Its distribution, too, will be entirely channel-led, starting with select US partners, with successes fed back into Commvault’s existing programme.

Moreover, the broader idea to integrate data management with storage management was the real cornerstone of Mirchandani’s long-term vision. Following the Hedvig acquisition last month, Commvault laid out its ideas for the future, but we’ll have to reserve judgement on this front until a solid model for integration is released.

Broadly speaking, these sorts of ideas and announcements were what I expected to see from Commvault after a shaky 12 months; something shiny to get the conversation going, but reinforced with a sense of substance that partners, who deal with the technology day-in and day-out, can shout about too. 

Recognising the realities of an increasingly multi-cloud landscape was reassuring, as was Mirchandani’s statement that Commvault is happy to work with existing Hedvig customers who use rival backup services, such as those offered by Veeam. It must be said that there’s a risk that Commvault’s confidence, as it follows through on its strategy, may again slip into a familiar sense of complacency.

Persistent repetition, for instance, that Commvault sat at the pinnacle of the Gartner magic quadrant, as well as Forrester’s equivalent, grew fairly tedious. After all, Commvault’s standard of technology has never been a problem, rather, it’s the many elements that coalesce around it.

Q&A: Scott Murphy, Ingram Micro

17 May, 2019

The UK Cloud Summit is now in its third year. What made Ingram Micro put the event on in the first place and how has the event itself evolved in that time?

The UK Cloud Summit 2019 is the perfect opportunity to showcase the great advancements our partners in cloud solutions have made over the past year – which we’re excited to recognise at our Gala Awards ceremony – and to acknowledge the evolving technologies that will take us into the future of cloud.

To those that joined us last year at The Institution of Engineering and Technology in London, we thank you for being part of an exciting year for us and invite you to join us again in 2019 for an even bigger event and year.

The UK Cloud Summit 2019 promises to be a game-changing event in the UK, as we bring together over 300 executives, industry disruptors and fellow thought leaders. You can find more information and sign up here

Why should people attend this year’s event?

This year’s Cloud Summit will be over two days and brings together both our cloud and advanced solutions partners to discover new, disruptive technologies fueled by the cloud (Infinite Possibilities), explore ways that they can benefit from category-leading cloud solutions (Infinite Ecosystems), and grasp the challenges of transforming their business in the digital economy (Infinite Growth).

By attending, people will: 

  • Gain actionable tactics from practical learning sessions
  • Network and idea share with top industry experts
  • Discover the latest cloud solutions
  • Hear world-class speakers explore the infinite possibilities of cloud
  • Learn how to streamline cutting edge SaaS, IaaS and IoT technology
  • Discover how CloudBlue accelerates XaaS monetisation

What industry trends and changes have you witnessed in the same period?

With the surge of AI, IoT, Big Data and other emerging technologies, we are ensuring that we not only have the people with the right expertise, but also the capability to deploy these solutions through our platforms. Ingram Micro Professional Services is then there to support partners in their conversations with end-users and to enable them to deliver these solutions from start to finish.

Conversely, what opportunities have you witnessed/harnessed? Either as a company or in terms of your customers?

IaaS continues to explode. We’ve seen our Azure Accelerate Elite partners drive growth of over 270% YoY, however, we see SaaS also continuing to accelerate.

Cyber Security isn’t something new however more and more clients are looking at this as a key priority, whether it’s securing the cloud or simply securing business. Ingram has invested heavily in this area to transform how we bring value to channel (VAD to Solution Provider).

Ingram Micro Services is a key focus area for us and our partners. Whether that be Professional or Managed Services or other services such as Financial. All of which continue to grow across our partner base.

Can you provide a bit more detail for those not familiar with your company?

Ingram Micro Cloud (IMC), a division of Ingram Micro UK Ltd, was established in 2014 to help its partners realise their share of the cloud market opportunity. Ingram Micro Cloud is a master cloud service provider (mCSP), offers channel partners and enterprises access to the leading global Cloud commerce platform, expertise, solutions and enabling programmes that empower organisations to realise their potential in the digital economy.

Ingram Micro Cloud is the leading Cloud aggregator in the UK and powered by CloudBlue, a foundational cloud software and services platform destined to transcend every aspect of the new, as-a-service economy.

What does cloud mean to you and what benefits do you think it brings to businesses?

I heard an expression which for me sums up the cloud well. Cloud is an experience, not a destination. Initially might sound anti-cloud however it’s about supporting clients on their digital transformation journey. Benefits include enabling clients to win more business, drive differentiation and reduce complexity from daily IT tasks across AI, ML, Big Data and IoT by harnessing the power of the cloud.

Are there any stumbling blocks to success?

Businesses require correct tools, people, industry knowledge, systems and training programs to capitalise on the digitalisation opportunity. This lends itself to an immense challenge for the channel to fulfil yet with the right mCSP partner, solution and business plan it’s possible to embrace the infinite potential of Cloud to infinite reality.

How is your company helping customers address key challenges in these areas and take advantage of opportunities?

We are helping in a number of ways:

1.              Training

Upskilling and training staff is key to ensuring growth in 2019 with fresh and more advanced technology emerging via the channel. While talent can be difficult to obtain with the challenge of a digital skills gap in the UK, current staff can acquire new skills as well as perfecting existing abilities, helping fill these skills shortages.

Making one employee proficient in multiple roles increases their value to the business by enabling them to take on extra tasks with new technologies should they be required to. We provide a number of technically and commercially led training and enablement for our partners across a number of solution areas and cloud categories. Whether a fundamental level or advanced in knowledge, we have a team of experts on hand to help upskill our customers’ businesses.  

2.              IaaS

While many organisations still perceive IaaS as a colossal move from what is considered a ‘traditional IT infrastructure setup’, IaaS is critical to realising the intelligent future of the cloud. Building confidence in selling IaaS, such as Microsoft Azure, and championing the innovation and growth it can bring – without being afraid of new technology – will be important this year and beyond. We’re supporting our partners with key advanced workload packages and plays to help deliver solutions quickly and easily in-market with a host of Solution Architects and consultants. In addition, supporting partners to find new opportunities across IaaS Lifecycle service categories. 

3.              Understanding vertical specialisation

Getting to know your own vertical is something that often gets little attention. It’s not only knowing about the sector, but it’s also knowing the surrounding environment too. Make sure you become an expert in your specialisation while also considering the global and international factors that affect economies and sectors and analyse the impact of customers, competitors and suppliers on that vertical.

Get under the skin of what makes your customers – and their industry – tick. We’ve recently created a series of 8 vertical eBooks to help understand the challenges and opportunities across industries such as manufacturing, finance, retail, media legal, healthcare telecommunications and education.

How do you think the cloud landscape has evolved in the past five years?

With a generation of millennials and centennials being born into a world of digital technology, their positive attitude to the escalation of AI, robotics and automation reflects an understanding of its potential to make working life easier, safer and more productive. Due to their familiarity with cloud-powered applications and collaborative tools, the younger talent is helping to push digital transformation drives of organisations across the world.

What do you think has driven this shift?

Their progressive attitude is proving essential in encouraging employers to embrace the future and ramp up investment in the technologies that can harness the power of AI and robotics and improve the modern workplace by enabling flexible and remote working for all staff.

What other trends and patterns do you see around cloud computing and related technologies?

Adoption of cloud-first strategies, cloud consolidation and Hybrid partnership motion across businesses.

Partner to Partner collaboration across ISVs, MSPs and VARs will help build more robust and commercial solutions which are transforming industries. Focus across IoT, AI and cyber security are where we see the best opportunity. Supporting clients on their digital transformation journey and ensuring complimentary cloud solutions are bolted together is where we see our channel partners succeed.

What technologies will be driving business change and success five years from now and why?

Key tech plays we believe will drive success in five years from now is IoT, AI and cyber security and UCC. These are the areas we see as transforming the cloud sector an opportunity for the channel to maximise.

IoT is empowering businesses to improve customer experience and make better-informed decisions based on connected “things”. AI is much more than just automation of processes and the real opportunity to leverage AI is across the IT environment to improve efficiencies and reduce risk. UCC for us is empowering people to collaborate, regardless of location to accelerate wider relationships.

Do you have anything else to add? 

Ingram Micro is dedicated to making partner transformation simple and by leveraging the Cloud Awesomeness Roadmap which highlights four key stages of partners in their cloud adoption journey we’re striving to bring value to our partners, vendors and clients with practical, business generating initiatives. Across three key unique investments in people, platform and portfolio we’re helping more partners win in the digitalisation era.

5 reasons you should attend the UK Cloud Summit

2 May, 2019

It’s now less than a month until the UK Cloud Summit takes place in London so if you haven’t already registered for the event, now is the time to sign up.

This two-day event is a must-attend for those looking to find out how to start driving or continue to drive business success using cloud and related technologies. 

“Discover new, disruptive technologies fuelled by the cloud (Infinite Possibilities), explore ways that they can benefit from category leading cloud solutions (Infinite Ecosystems), and grasp the challenges of transforming their business in the digital economy (Infinite Growth),” said Scott Murphy, director of cloud and advanced solutions and Ingram Micro in the UK and Ireland.

“You’ll learn about the extraordinary shift that’s taking the channel in a bold, new direction. Where the unknown becomes known. Where your business can leap forward in cloud enablement, and where the infinite potential becomes infinite reality.”

So, if you’re still thinking about attending the summit – which takes place on 21 and 22 May at the Landmark Hotel in London – here are some compelling reasons to attend:

1)Hot topics discussed and debated

There’s even more to talk about now the summit is in its third year. That’s why we’re pleased to have the event running across two days rather than one.  By expanding the duration, it means we can do even more topics justice.

Indeed, there are 18 sessions across the two days, with three learning tracks – Infinite Possibilities, Infinite Ecosystem and Infinite Growth – so that we really can quench your thirst for knowledge.

There will be plenty of talk, as well as answers to questions around cloud generally, AI, analytics, BI, blockchain, cyber security, IaaS, IoT, SaaS, XaaS and more.

2)Feast on more than just information

While we know the main reason you would want to attend the summit is to feed your hunger for knowledge, we also know how important it is to relax in between the two days.

It’s also important we take time to reflect as individuals and as an industry collective on our achievements and successes.

That’s why, this year, we will be hosting a luxury gala dinner in the spectacular Grand Ballroom. In addition to a delicious dinner in a fantastic setting, we will also host our first partner awards and recognition ceremony.

3)Myths debunked

The world of technology innovation moves at a rapid pace and it can be very easy to get swept along in the sea of hype. But jumping on the next big thing for the sake of it rather than with a reasoned business case can be a very dangerous thing indeed for businesses.

That’s why, in addition to talking about myriad of benefits on offer, we will also be talking honestly about the challenges and how you can best overcome them or navigate your way away from them altogether.

4)Networking opportunities galore

More than 350 like-minded individuals will be attending the event. That’s a fantastic opportunity to network, exchange ideas and opinions and bounce ideas off of one another.

It’s very often the connections made through networking opportunities like this that really give you the insight and additional support you need to drive your business into its next phase of success.

5)World-class speakers

This year’s event is hosted by Alex Hilton, CEO of the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF). He’ll be joined by some really engaging keynote speakers who will all give their perspective on the world of cloud. That’s in addition to some really enticing breakout sessions that offer deeper dives on certain subjects.

Nimesh Davé, executive vice president of global cloud at Ingram Micro will be joined by other industry luminaries such as:

  • Alexis Conran, TV presenter and former conman, best known for presenting The Real Hustle
  • James Chadwick, director of channel sales at Microsoft
  • Ronan McCurtin, vice president of northern Europe at Acronis
  • Richard Agnew, vice president of EMEA at Code42
  • Tim Britt, head of UK channel at Dropbox Business
  • Scott Murphy, director of cloud and advanced solutions at Ingram Micro
  • Leigh Schvartz, head of cloud and MSP offerings at Fujitsu


Innovation: The financial industry’s best-kept secret?

18 Apr, 2019

The financial services sector (FSS) has reached a tipping point; should it stay the same and hope for the best or should it embrace disruption and associated technologies and emerge different, stronger and better from its legacy cocoon?

But do FSS firms really need to change at all? Perhaps what does need to change is how they are perceived. Indeed, with a reputation of being not just slow, but reluctant to change, FSS organisations have actually been innovating all the while behind the scenes. Their downfall, perhaps, lies in not shouting loudly about it as many other sectors have done.

So, why are those in the industry now starting to talk much more openly about technology and the impact it can have not just on operations, but the customer experience?

We have reached the point where banks, in particular, must consider and position themselves not just as financial entities, but as lifestyle brands too, according to Bharat Bhushan, CTO of banking and financial markets at IBM’s Financial Services division.

“The industry has been innovating in a pull and a push manner. Our ability to interact with our banks using mobile devices doesn’t sound like an innovation, but it isn’t that long ago that we were walking into branches and checking ATMs. Now, people can check their balance several times a day while waiting for trains/planes etc.” he says. 

“It’s important to distinguish between the incumbents and the challengers. FinTech has been one of the reasons for banks to innovate – if they don’t innovate, their lunch will be eaten.”

The devil is in the detail when it comes to moving innovation from theory to reality, though, with execution becoming the real differentiator, according to a recent blog post by Bhushan.

“An organisation with a culture of innovation, collaboration and true customer focus will be able to maintain differentiation and identity in the digital world as they do in the physical world. The winners will use their digital capabilities to draw intelligence from data in real-time and use it to drive behaviour change or, convenience,” he added.

Turning adversity into opportunity

With an industry changing almost beyond recognition, despite historic innovation, many FSS organisations feel somewhat unsettled.

Indeed, most of those in the sector entered 2019 feeling less certain about the future than ever.

“[This uncertainty can be] quite uncomfortable for some organisations. They’re thinking ‘we’ve got to change, but we don’t really know where to start.’ We really try and structure the way we help companies by looking at those opportunities. Sometimes they just need a bit of help to figure out how to combine the technology with the business aspects and the user side of things. We can help them get started on the road and often getting started is the hardest bit,” adds Holly Cummins, worldwide development lead of the IBM Cloud Garage.

“Once companies see they can innovate and nothing terrible happened that is a seed for something that can then ripple out through the organisation and help them innovate in other ways. It’s testing the water and seeing what happens and that takes away a lot of the fear.”

In engagements with businesses, these pilots or test cases are dubbed ‘minimum viable products’ according to Cummins.

Cummins adds: “We worked on a project years ago with a bank that had quite a large budget set aside for something. It was really innovative around allowing their customers who collected loyalty points to pay with them…

“We tried something smaller. Everybody said it was wonderful, it was innovative but they didn’t want it – their partners just weren’t able to digest it – even though everybody agreed it was great. So, even though the project failed in one sense, the bank was actually delighted as they hadn’t wasted money and knew what to do differently if they tried it again. A good thing came out of something that could be perceived as a failure or negative.”

It will be the types of organisations that turn negatives into positives that, ultimately, win out.

Open banking, for example, means the industry has much more to gain than it stands to lose.

“When everyone becomes digital, the big challenge for financial institutions is how to differentiate themselves from the nearest competitor. That’s where the magic will start to happen,” Bhushan adds.

“Open Banking requires a cultural shift in a financial institution. Once you form a culture where you are not just behaving like a bank… Open APIs and banking are a fundamental shift from a very closed industry to one on its way to becoming an open platform.

“Historically, you and I have been generating data for these banks for the last 60/70 years since computers were used. That data belonged to the bank. But with open APIs, that data belongs to us. Regulations like GDPR have helped empower that.”

Levelling the playing field

Advanced technologies are now no longer the preserve of large enterprises or those with infinite pots of cash. Now, all organisations can benefit from the speed and scale of subscription-based services that deliver business-level results in almost a consumer-friendly consumption model. 

“Financial institutions need to address how ideas are generated and executed. It’s about failing fast. They should be using the cloud, for example, as a fundamental mechanism. Cloud and everything that goes with cloud is fundamental to that change,” according to Bhushan.

“DevOps in itself is a big shift for some banks – globally not just in the UK. The idea of bottom up and top down innovation [is very new].”

Continuous delivery is an important weapon to have in your arsenal as an FSS organisation, according to Jim McKay, worldwide solutions architect at IBM SoftLayer.

“Ultimately, it’s about how quickly Solutions can be developed. How can you evolve the [old] ways to become more agile? And that’s really where we’re seeing the opportunity for cloud,” he says.

The cloud and emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning serve as both a catalyst for and a reason to change for the financial industry. Customers, ultimately, expect the same – if not greater – level of tech sophistication they’re used to in their consumer lives when it comes to everyday tasks such as banking.

Every element of work carried out in the FSS is being transformed by technology and AI represents a $16 trillion opportunity, according to IBM’s Tiffany Winman reporting on all the industry news and views coming from IBM’s Think 2019 event earlier this year.

It’s an opinion industry experts share, with analyst firm Gartner suggesting that AI implementation grew by 270% in the last four years and 37% in the last year alone. This, says Winman, is helping firms digitally reinvent themselves and using AI to reduce costs, create new revenue streams and enhance the customer experience.

But there remains some fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) around AI, with concerns specifically focused on job loss or displacement.

“IBM’s approach to AI is not to replace humans, but rather to create augmented intelligence that helps amplify human cognition,” Winman wrote.

“Companies should ask: How do you leverage technology to help humans do what they do, better? And how can technology bring value in such a way that it allows them to do higher value things?”

Rob Thomas, IBM General Manager of Data and AI, has another way of looking at it, saying at Think 2019: “AI is not going to replace managers, but managers who use AI will replace the managers who do not.”

Thomas said AI was the “new electricity” which should certainly serve as a warning to those who are still in any doubt as to the transformative powers it possesses for businesses of all sectors but, specifically, the financial industry.

Partnering remains key to success

Like every other industry, it’s important for those in the FSS to recognise they don’t have to go it alone. 

“Banks need to open up to the idea of partnering with other companies and find the right balance between investing in FinTech or partnering. Finding that balance of using FinTech to innovate incrementally or in a process means we finally have a win/win scenario,” Bhushan says, adding its an innovation inhibitor if those organisations are so proprietary that they simply can’t – rather than won’t work with anyone else.

Blockchain, for example, is a key innovation that offers much to FSS firms. However, up until recently, its brilliance had gotten mixed up and somewhat lost in the hype surrounding crypto currencies, according to Bhushan.

“I’ve certainly seen a shift [in that thinking] now,” he says. “Blockchain works really well when you have multiple parties. In a mortgage situation, for example, you can have the land registry, banks – all of them participating in the Blockchain. But, it needs all of those parties to come to the table and agree to the standards.”

The real 21st century currency 

Against the backdrop of disruption and innovation, those in the FSS are facing the same security threats – often intensified – as many other industries.

“Cyber security is as much a business problem as a technology one. Every employee is a cyber security manager,” Sean McKee, senior manager of cyber threat management at TD Bank, told delegates at Think 2019.

“What can an organisation do to prepare? Your plan is not worth the paper it’s written on if nobody knows how to use it… TD Bank did a five month workup for a two day test. The president of the US bank immediately saw the results of their decisions,” he continued.

McKee outlined four key steps to effective implementation:


  1. Exercise and test your strategy and plan. Come to a cyber range and bring your playbook

  2. Technical security controls testing (ethical hacking committee)

  3. Resource for success. It takes a long time to produce a proper exercise

  4. Continuous improvement

Security and resilience can often be seen as more of a burden than compliance in the FSS sector, but it can also unlock many positives, according to Bhushan.

“I think security can be a very empowering mechanism to enable trust between you and your customers and partners at all levels,” he says.

“In the 21st century, information is money. So, by being secure you are actually accelerating the trust your suppliers and partners have in you and accelerating business results.”

In a world that is travelling in all sorts of different directions at 100 miles per hour, the temptation to simply hit the pause button to take stock can be incredibly tempting. However, by embracing the cloud, continuous development and DevOps, FSS firms can continue to keep the lights on, defend against threats and innovate, too.

“Organisations can no longer look to their competitors to decide what to do next. Innovation and reinvention is key to existence in this rapidly changing world. Delivering customers’ needs with agility and pace is vital. Organisations should start on their journey by exploring how data and AI together can uncover the value hidden in their data and then deliver features with simplicity,” Bhushan adds.

“Digital is a prerequisite and a journey, it is not the destination. Creating magical experiences that consumers will pay for is the end game.”

Why DevOps is the future of your business

21 Feb, 2019

If you’ve spent any time at all in the IT world, you’ll likely have heard about DevOps and how it’s the future of enterprise software development. Companies both large and small have adopted DevOps processes and methodologies as part of their organisation, chasing faster development cycles and greater application stability.

For the uninitiated, DevOps is a software development method that involves merging development and operations teams together. The goal is to shorten the time it takes to build, patch, and update software by monitoring and testing it as it’s being built. This allows problems to be caught earlier, leading to a shorter time-to-market.

Multiple advantages

DevOps has a number of advantages over traditional software development approaches like the waterfall method. The first and most obvious is speed; DevOps can radically accelerate development cycles, which means software can be delivered to users faster.

“Reducing the time between inception and value when delivering services is the key benefit,” says Guy Smith, CDW’s head of technology solutions. “In addition, bringing application developers closer to the operational challenges of running a live system can provide a useful feedback loop that results in applications that are designed to be operated, with consideration for proper abstraction, state handling, failure tolerance, and simple scaling.”

Because it’s also based around smaller and more frequent releases, users can also get used to new changes gradually, rather than having to acclimatise to lots of new things at the same time. It’s also easy to roll back to a previous version in the event of an unexpected bug and ensures that fixes for said bug can be issued faster. This shouldn’t be required that often, though, as DevOps generally has a lesser failure rate than waterfall development.

In many ways, DevOps is the cornerstone of digital transformation. Among the most common goals of a digital transformation project is for the company to become software-driven, with an agile approach to both its strategy and its IT, and DevOps is essential for all of those goals. Without being able to rapidly iterate on the software and apps that a business creates, it can’t be truly agile or software-driven, as it will constantly be behind the curve and slowed down by clunky, outdated methodologies.

Many major organisations have already embraced DevOps as a way to speed up their software pipelines; Companies like Hertz, American Airlines, Accenture and more have all implemented DevOps methodologies, using them to drive greater efficiencies, faster workloads and more frequent releases.

‘Digital Disruption’ dives into the findings of a roundtable with industry experts about the future of technology in the workplace, and looks at the strategies needed to thrive in an era of unprecedented change.

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An agile world

DevOps isn’t just applicable to IT, however. It’s closely tied to the agile movement, and many of its principles are effective across the business as a whole. Take the Scrum method, for example; this framework involves taking a project-based approach to solving business challenges.

A cross-functional team is created, made up of members from every relevant area of the business. The team establishes the end goal of the project, then works towards accomplishing this goal in a short series of ‘sprints’ lasting from two to four weeks, in which a small series of tasks are devised, planned, completed and tested.

The idea is to break a project up into more manageable chunks, with regular testing and monitoring throughout the process. Although this is generally applied to software development, it can be equally suited to projects like marketing campaigns, IT refreshes or quarterly reporting efforts.

Implementing DevOps can be extremely beneficial for a business, but it can be a rather daunting undertaking too, especially for a mature, established organisation that already has a more traditional development structure in place. As with any major organisational change, it’s crucial to ensure that the implementation is meticulously planned out beforehand and carefully managed during the roll-out itself.

“Be really clear about what problem you’re trying to solve and exactly how the new model will improve service delivery to users,” Smith says. “It’s very easy to get sucked into the dogma and fashion of DevOps/Agile but it isn’t always the appropriate approach or done with the end-user in mind. In addition, clear expectations need to be set about where responsibility lies, not just with ‘make stuff live faster’ but how real world problems such as bugs, operational issues and security incidents will be dealt with at 3am.”

Are you ready for DevOps?

One of the most important elements of moving to a DevOps approach is making sure the culture and management style of the organisation is ready to support it by obtaining buy-in from all the necessary stakeholders within the business and establishing a set of guiding principles that everyone is on board with. Beyond that, however, there are a number of technical tools which comprise the foundation of a successful DevOps organisation.

Version control systems, for example, are the bedrock of DevOps. One of the most essential principles of DevOps is rapidly deploying code, testing it to see if it works and then rolling it back and trying again if it doesn’t. By using a version control system like Git, CVS or Team Foundation Version Control, this process is made infinitely easier, allowing you to easily track iterations of code and work collaboratively on them without having to manually shuffle between multiple near-identical files.

Similarly, code-sharing platforms like Github or the aforementioned TFVC are a must-have for any DevOps team. Close collaboration is essential for speedy software releases, and the ability to have an entire DevOps team collaborating simultaneously on one piece of code will make the process much, much faster. Modern code-sharing platforms will also integrate with a swathe of other tools to help speed up and automate your workflows.

Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) tools, for example, are another essential part of the DevOps toolchain that work in concert with code-sharing platforms and version control systems. Tools, such as Jenkins, are designed to automatically assemble and test a new build of a piece of software every time a developer commits a change to the version control system. This ensures that developers working on different features don’t accidentally break each others’ work when they commit changes to the main branch, resulting in fewer bugs and faster working releases.

Another key pillar of DevOps is Infrastructure as Code. This principle involves treating the various components of infrastructure – such as VMs, networks, and so on – in the same way as the code that’s running on it. New environments are spun up according to a pre-set template using the same version control model as the code itself, which means all your environments will be identical unless expressly designed to be different.

DevOps teams will need to spin up new test environments quickly and often, and spinning them up and administering them manually can mean that, over time, you’re left with a large number of environments which are all subtly different to each other. This can often lead to deployment issues, but using Infrastructure as Code platforms like Puppet prevents this by ensuring consistency across your environment.

Every organisation is different, and building the right DevOps toolchain can be a tricky business. Working with a skilled partner, however, can dramatically reduce the complexity and hassle of implementing a DevOps structure. CDW can offer not just the toolsets you need to get your DevOps pipeline moving, but also the expert strategic guidance to help make your DevOps journey a success from the word go.

“CDW can help you navigate the challenges of delivering services quickly, cost-effectively and securely whilst focusing on user-need,” explains Smith. “We have a significant breadth and depth of products, in-house expertise and partner relationships that allow us to think ‘outcome first, approach/tool second’ and provide solutions that offer true business benefit.”

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