January 7, 2020

Journey to The Cloud

There are many reasons that organisations move to the cloud; enhanced security, increased mobility, better data access and improved collaboration to name just a few.

However, you’re not reading this blog to find out why organisations move, you’re reading this blog to find out how organisations move. There are a number of steps involved in any successful cloud migration, but it’s important to realise that the success of this type of project isn’t just down to the migration of data. 

A successful move to the cloud is much more than just moving data; it’s an opportunity to transform the way an organisation works; how they interact with data, how they interact with each other and how they enable their teams to work with the best possible tools for the job. 

A successful move to the cloud involves true digital transformation, and this is an opportunity not to be missed.

5 Pillars of a successful move to the cloud

  • Setting Goals
  • Technical Configuration
  • Data Migration
  • Change Management
  • Ongoing Support

1. Setting Goals

At the beginning of a project like this, it’s incredibly important to ensure that there is buy in from senior stakeholders so that you can be sure the project will gain traction and progress as required. After gaining this, the next step is to set some goals for what you’re actually trying to achieve. There are often many ways to do the same thing, but there may well be a particular solution that can tick all the boxes, or you may require some custom integrations for tools you’re currently using. 

Mapping out these goals and priorities early on can make a big difference, as you may find that some features/functionality are an absolute necessity from day 1, but others may be suitable to add on day 2, or even on day 3. This allows you to better manage your project plan and your budget. So ask yourself, “What are we really trying to achieve?”.

2. Technical Configuration

Once you have a plan in place, and you know what solutions you’re going to be using, it’s time to set up your cloud environment and ensure that it’s configured correctly for your intended use from day 1.

Given the fast paced development of cloud computing solutions, we always recommend working with a technology partner to ensure an optimum set up. These types of solutions are always evolving with more features and functionality, so it can be very easy to overlook some key aspects which an official partner will be well aware of and can advise you around the best practices.

3. Data Migration

After configuring your new environment, it’s time to get your data moved from your existing system so that you can start utilising all your new functionality! The migration phase of your project can involve any/all of the following:

  • Email
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Files

This is a crucial step on your journey to the cloud, and one that is vital to get right first time. There are a number of different tools available that can help you migrate, depending on which system you are moving to and from. However, these tools inevitably incur licence fees for each user you need to migrate. Due to this, it is usually more cost effective to work with a technology partner, who will have access to their own tools and can carry out the migration for you. As well as cost effectiveness, you will also be gaining peace of mind, knowing that a team of experts are managing the transfer of your valuable corporate data - ensuring the project’s success, rather than trying to work it all out on your own.

4. Change Management

Having the right tools in place is an excellent start to a digital transformation project, and indeed that of any successful business. Although, it’s not the be-all and end-all. The tools that you put in place will inevitably be useless if your employees do not correctly adopt them and learn how to put them to best use. Many projects don’t see the same levels of success when users try to work in the same ways as they used to, only with shiny new apps instead of their previous programs.

To ensure that your investment is protected (or better yet, maximised), it is vital to put a thorough Change Management program in place. We recommend doing so well in advance of the start of your project, beginning with clear communications to all employees so that they know what to expect. This should go on to include why you are disrupting the way that they work, and more importantly, why it’s going to make their work-life easier.

Following these communications, it’s strongly recommended that users are provided with training on how to best use their new tools, as well as considering the change impacts that they can have on existing workflows. Due to the variety of tools available when working in the cloud, there are often many different ways to achieve similar outcomes, so it’s important to understand what works best for your organisation and establish best practices for users to follow. 

5. Ongoing Support in The Cloud

As cloud platforms are always evolving and updating to include new features and functionality, it can be easy to miss some key aspects that might actually be very helpful to your organisation. Because of this, it is strongly recommended to work with a technology partner who can provide support and advice throughout your journey to the cloud and thereafter. They will be able to offer guidance around best practice, 3rd party tools, what new features are coming to the platform, ensuring that users remain engaged with the tools and also provide help-desk support.

Summary

A move to the cloud brings a wealth of benefits to organisations who make the move, and in 2020, there will be more than ever who choose to do so. If the time is right for yours, following the 5 pillars outlined above will ensure you have as seamless a transition as possible, with a trusted technology partner by your side.

March 7, 2019

Cloud Myths

Since the term “Cloud Computing” was first coined in 2006, by then Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, there have been countless myths surrounding the concept. In this blog, we’re going to cover the 5 most common cloud myths that we encounter when speaking with customers about how to best store their data, including price, backups, encryption, security and physical locations.

If you can think of some other big cloud myths that we may have missed, please let us know in the comments and we can add them in below!

Cloud Myth 1: Cloud infrastructures are unsecured

Fact - it’s actually more secure for small businesses to use cloud services.

One of the most common misconceptions about cloud services is that they lack appropriate security measures. Many users think that any data stored in the cloud could be easily accessed by anyone, from anywhere. This is completely untrue. Cloud services providers like Google employ hundreds of security experts and spend millions of pounds each year, innovating to improve on security and offer new techniques such as two-factor authentication to keep your data safe.

Cloud Myth 2: Cloud services are expensive

Smaller organisations often can’t afford to have their own IT department, nevermind training them to handle online security threats. However, cloud providers offer services like multi-layered security systems and antivirus protection that keep their infrastructures safe from hackers but are also available at affordable prices through subscription services per user. Compare this to the huge setup costs and wages that are involved in running an in-house IT department and the value of a subscription service quickly shows its worth.

Cloud Myth 3: The cloud lacks proper encryption

Fact - Google encrypts all core G Suite data, inside and outside of Google.

Most people misunderstand how encryption is implemented to keep your data safe. For example, encryption is generally used for data in transition, where data is protected from anyone seeing it as it travels from one internet address to another. But encryption can also be applied to data at rest. This means that data is encrypted on a storage drive - like all data is when it’s stored within Google Drive.

Cloud Myth 4: You can always recover your cloud data

Fact - Cloud solutions are not natively designed for data restoration.

Cloud providers do offer different levels of data recovery services but not all solutions are designed to make all data available to customers. With many online services, the only built-in backup available for your data is the recycling bin, which is usually deleted automatically after 30 days. Having your data in the cloud does not mean that it is backed up - this data is still vulnerable to accidental/malicious deletion from employees and sophisticated cyber attacks. It is always our recommendation to use a cloud-to-cloud backup solution which provides automatic daily backups of your data and can restore any lost files at any time.

Cloud Myth 5: We need to have our data in our country

Fact - How data is secured is more important than where data is located.

When using Google Drive, data is stored and processed in several data centres around the world. Google's security practices are consistent across all relevant locations. Storing data in a particular country doesn't necessarily protect it from access by foreign governments. Microsoft was ordered to produce the mail content of a customer whose information was stored in Ireland. As well as this, localizing data in one country can also slow down collaboration and innovation.

Contact

If you would like to find out more about moving to and working in the cloud, or you would just like to learn more about G Suite and what it can offer your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via info@cobry.co.uk. We would be delighted to have a chat about how we could help.


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January 8, 2019

Chromebook Myths

While we at Cobry specialise in helping companies move to the cloud with G Suite, we also help companies with related hardware - whether it’s Jamboards, Hangouts Meet Hardware or Chrome Hardware, we can help. The last in that list, Chrome hardware, is an area we’re seeing growing interest in - not just with our clients but also further afield in companies large and small across the world. The strengths of Chrome OS devices like Chromebooks are hard to ignore and competitors of Google are increasingly modelling their hardware approach on how Google has done things. Despite all this, we encounter various misconceptions about Chrome devices so we thought it would be useful to try to tackle some of them here...

Myth 1: Chromebooks are only a fancy Chrome browser

Fact - Chromebooks can run Android applications locally on your device.

Chrome

Many people’s understanding of Chrome is that it is just an internet browser, but it’s so much more than just a way to browse the web. Chrome OS is a lightweight, cloud-based operating system built to tackle and vastly improve speed, security, simplicity and shareability. While the majority of actions will be carried out by using the Chrome browser, Chromebooks can also run applications locally through the use of Chrome optimized Android apps (available from the Play Store). These are available for a range of services such as Office 365, Linux, Adobe and many more. It’s also possible to run some non-Android apps, run Linux and save files locally when required.

Myth 2: Chromebooks are not secure

Fact - Chrome OS is widely considered to be the most secure operating system.

Security

Google Chrome was built with security in mind from day one; providing a range of great features like automatic updates (in the background so you can get on with your work!), end-to-end encryption and sandboxing to isolate applications from critical system resources. The best part about these security features is that they all come as standard with Chrome OS, so there’s no requirement for users to set them up or pay for expensive 3rd party antivirus solutions. As Chrome OS is cloud-based, it protects, contains, and resolves security threats all on its own.

Myth 3: Chromebooks only work when they’re online

Fact - Chromebooks offer offline access to G Suite and a variety of other offline applications.

Most of the work done in modern workplaces nowadays requires an internet connection, whether that be for researching, emailing or completing online forms, the internet has become an integral part of how we work. However, there are occasions when we find ourselves disconnected and have to push on with other tasks. In these increasingly rare occurrences, Chromebooks can function just like any other laptop by providing access to G Suite and other 3rd party apps offline. Then because Chromebooks are cloud-based, the next time you connect to the internet, all of your changes will automatically sync across your apps. This also means you’ll never have to work about version control ever again.

Myth 4: Chromebooks cannot run legacy applications

Fact - Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) can be used to provide access to legacy applications. This often results in the applications running much faster.

Many organisations who have moved to the cloud or are considering making the move, are often held up by waiting for their legacy applications to be made available in a cloud setup. This, in fact, isn’t a requirement. Organisations can begin utilising the speed and simplicity of Chrome OS to access these applications through VDI. Simply put, this allows for a desktop operating system (and the associated legacy apps) to be hosted on a centralised server, which users are then provided access to via Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop. VDI solutions will also often run much quicker on Chromebooks than regular on-premise machines due to their lightweight operating system. There is also another solution in development that allows Chromebooks of a particular spec to run Windows apps directly within Chrome OS. The Chrome eco-system is constantly developing to provide more features and increase usability for all.

Myth 5: Chromebooks cannot be properly managed

Fact - Chrome Device Management allows Enterprises to manage all of their Chromebooks from a centralised console.

Most organisations need to manage each device on an enterprise level to ensure all the proper software is installed and prevent users from installing harmful software or accessing things they shouldn’t have access to. Ease of management is actually one of the key strengths of Chrome devices and is one reason why some really big companies are adopting them. Enterprise customers can manage their entire fleet of Chromebooks by using Chrome Device Management (CDM) - an easy to use cloud management console. Chrome Device Management includes over 200 management policies, including policies that follow specific users across devices and policies that are device specific.

Chrome Devices

Although we’ve tackled several of the myths surrounding Chromebooks in this blog post, there is also a range of other cloud-connected hardware options available from Google. These reap the same benefits that Chrome OS provides, in short: speed, security, simplicity, and shareability. These are all prevalent within the Google ecosystem and can be found at the core of Chromebooks, Chromebits, Chromeboxes, Jamboards and Hangouts Meet Hardware; all of which are available directly from Cobry on our Chrome Hardware page.

Contact

If you would like any further information about Chromebooks, G Suite or the cloud in general, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via info@cobry.co.uk. We would be delighted to have a chat.


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