Month: April 2014

There might be a strike on, but there's no signal failure with Claranet's Mobile Broadband

As someone who has always lived and worked in and around London, I love our Underground system and couldn’t imagine London without it. As my children frequently remind me though, you can love something but not always like it, and the tube is sometimes very difficult to like with its strikes and signal failures. Today is one of those days! I’ve just spent the last couple of hours fighting my way across London to attend the Amazon UK Summit in docklands (more on that in another blog post) and I’m not exactly feeling fresh and ready to network and absorb information.

I won’t comment on whether the RMT were right or not to call the strike, the media are doing a very good job of that already. My interest here is what part technology is playing in this situation, both how it’s causing it, and how it’s helping.

It’s not news that London Underground has been spending huge sums of money modernising the tube. The introduction of Oyster cards was a very visible example of this which has ultimately resulted in less need for ticket offices, but there has also been a huge amount of investment in train infrastructure and signalling as well. What I believe is less well known is how far this investment has pushed forwards the way the Tube functions, to the point now where signalling on a number of lines can now support driverless trains. Earlier this year, Boris Johnson (London Mayor) approved plans to order driverless trains with the unions promising “all-out war” over the plans. I expect LU’s march forwards with technology to be meet with stiff opposition from the unions, with the frequency and length of strikes increasing.

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Heightened awareness of data sovereignty post-PRISM good for cloud industry

Businesses are right to ask difficult questions about their Cloud Service Providers

Responding to research which has found that businesses are conducting more due diligence when provisioning cloud services and have a greater awareness of data sovereignty issues in a post-PRISM world, the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) and Claranet suggest that increased awareness of surveillance programmes may be providing the push that businesses need to better protect their data.

A global survey has revealed that businesses are conducting heightened due diligence on cloud suppliers and demanding more localised storage of their data in the wake of reports about US surveillance activities. The report suggests that 31 per cent of IT decision-makers have decided to move their business data ‘to where they know it will be safe’, while 52 per cent are now conducting greater due diligence on cloud providers than ever before.

Alex Hilton, CEO of the Cloud Industry Forum, said: In the wake of PRISM we have witnessed a significant amount of fear, uncertainty and doubt in the industry, but we don’t see the revelations as having made a material difference to cloud adoption rates in the UK. All the signs in the market are immensely positive: overall adoption stands at an all-time high at 69 per cent and is set to increase further to around 80 per cent this year. Moreover, research from Claranet, which was conducted post-PRISM, points to a marked increase in trust in cloud services, suggesting that in spite of reports of surveillance, faith in cloud as a viable delivery model continues to grow.

“The industry is weathering the storm, but if a by-product of the scandal is that businesses are making more checks on their cloud providers before taking the leap, then all the better. Cloud users should be seeking reassurance from prospective CSPs to understand how the service is delivered, where data is stored and ultimately who has access to their data. These are messages that we have pushed since our inception and since the formation of our Code of Practice for CSPs, so it’s encouraging to see end-users taking a more active role in securing their data,” he continued.

Michel Robert, Claranet’s UK Managing Director, added: In our experience, concerns about data location and security are anything but new. Data sovereignty has been a key issue for cloud users for quite some time, and to address these concerns Claranet provides in-country data centres: All users, applications and data always reside in the customer’s chosen country. That end-users are taking a greater interest in the security and location of their data is no bad thing and it’s important that CSPs recognise and address the changing needs of their customers.”

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Mixed approach to IT causing pain points, research finds

Claranet report finds half of businesses under-prepared for effective cloud service integration

Claranet’s latest annual cloud adoption trends report has found that businesses are struggling to properly incorporate cloud services into their broader IT estates, with around half experiencing integration and migration problems. With end-users increasingly using a blend of hosting and deployment models for their IT, the research suggests that they will need to work more closely with their cloud service providers to maintain a functional and fully-integrated whole.

Claranet’s third annual cloud adoption report, launched today, has found that while the number of UK businesses using cloud services has increased to 74 per cent, however, just one in five (18 per cent) cloud users were fully satisfied by their chosen method for migration. This dissatisfaction could be explained by a lack of preparation in some areas, namely understanding of regulatory constraints (only 47 per cent felt well-prepared), understanding the impact of legacy technology (53 per cent felt well-prepared), and understanding how to integrate new cloud services with existing on-premises solutions (just 46 per cent).

According to Michel Robert, Claranet’s UK Managing Director, having an effective strategy in place to manage the evolution to cloud is vital.

Robert said: We have seen that successful IT leaders are taking a flexible, iterative approach to technology that pays heed to business needs, and selecting the best tool for each job. This bottom-up evolutionary approach removes many of the risks of larger all-encompassing IT projects, which can sometimes be expensive, difficult to coordinate and less responsive to changing business requirements. But while the agility of cloud has lent itself well to a step-by-step approach to IT deployment, there are still challenges to address, to ensure successful migration and integration.

CSPs must therefore take a more active and consultative role in helping businesses integrate their services and plot their migration strategies. Increasingly cloud providers need to act more like business consultants, working alongside IT decision-makers to understand the needs of different parts of the organisation. No two migration and integration plans will be the same, so it is important to develop strategic partnerships to achieve the most effective results,” he continued.

Businesses predict that they will push even harder to move applications to the cloud over the next 18-months and this will test their cloud suppliers and their expertise in managing not only the day-to-day hosting challenges, but also in supporting how applications can be deployed, managed, and integrated into increasingly complex IT environments. IT decision-makers intent on a step-by-step strategy should therefore seek out providers that offer high standards in migration and integration, and have experience in managing and hosting a range of business applications effectively,” Robert concluded.

Download the full report here

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Claranet Research Report 2014 reveals change in cloud adoption

Having recently released the latest edition of our yearly Claranet Research Report, our third, I wanted to look back at its history and address some of the changes in attitudes that have occurred in that time.

We set up the Claranet Research Programme in 2011, shortly after I joined the company, with the aim of exploring the ways that IT leaders were configuring their technology in light of the rise of cloud.

At the time, cloud, in various forms, was positioned in the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’ in Gartner’s hype cycle. It was clear cloud was on the cusp of mainstream adoption, so we felt it made sense to begin a programme that monitored this changing approach to the consumption of IT, and tried to make sense of individual businesses’ strategic decisions.

Many of the findings we uncovered in our first report demonstrated a degree of scepticism toward cloud. The 300 IT leaders we interviewed could see the theoretical benefits of cloud technology but adoption was tempered by fears around cloud’s less understood characteristics. Just 54 per cent of businesses were using some form of cloud in 2011. By the 2013 survey this figure had grown to 74 per cent.

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Claranet acquires Dutch Cloud Services Provider NovaData

  • Deal cements Claranet’s position as the largest provider of cloud services to the mid-market in Western Europe
  • NovaData is latest in a series of acquisitions by Claranet in the UK and mainland Europe in the last 18 months

Claranet, one of Europe’s leading independent managed services providers, has acquired Dutch cloud services provider NovaData, as part of its continued expansion across Western Europe, creating the largest cloud services provider to the mid-market in the region. The acquisition of NovaData, which has annual revenues of €7 million (£5.,7 million) ,), strengthens Claranet’s position as the leading provider of managed hosting and application management services in The Netherlands.

Founded in 2008 and located in Eindhoven, NovaData is an IT services firm focused on mid-sized and large businesses and institutions. With a range of services that broaden and complement Claranet’s existing portfolio, NovaData is a natural partner for Claranet. It means that cCustomers in the region will benefit from the expertise of both companies and from a combined and expanded services portfolio. NovaData’s customer base comes from a wide range of industry sectors such as healthcare, business services and manufacturing.

A success story in the European technology market, Claranet has continued to grow from strength to strength since it was founded in 1996. Recently, the business has seen an intense period of rapid growth, with NovaData the latest in a wave of acquisitions made by the company over the last 18 months – with Star in the UK (November 2012), Typhon in France (December 2012), Echiron in Portugal (February 2014) and Grita in France (March 2014).

Charles Nasser, CEO of the Claranet Group, commented:

The acquisition is part of Claranet’s overall growth strategy, allowing us to expand our teams and our service offerings rapidly. NovaData is the third acquisition we’ve made in 2014 – which confirms our ambition to become the leading independent provider of managed services in Europe. Already a ‘leader’ in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for European Managed Hosting, the acquisition of Novadata strengthens now positions Claranet as one of the leading providers our for managed hosting and managed applications portfolio in The Netherlands.”

Ruud Joosten, Managing Director of Claranet Benelux BV, said:

We have been in discussion with NovaData about this acquisition for some time. By joining together two highly successful service providers that have collaborated together on several customer projects already, we expect our customers to benefit from our enlarged portfolios immediately.”

“By joining forces with The combination of Claranet and NovaData, we will creates new opportunities for our customers, our partners and our employees,” said Bert Verhoeff, MD and founder of NovaData. “They will all benefit from Claranet’s pan-European operations, its strong financial footing, and an expanded services portfolio,” he added.

As a result of this latest acquisition, the Claranet Group will have annual revenues in excess of €160 million (£135 million), circa 800 employees, over 4,500 customers and operations in 6 European countries (France, UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and Portugal).

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Notice re OpenSSL cryptographic software (Heartbleed)

A serious problem has been identified in the OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This bug impacts the security of data on any system protected by the vulnerable versions of this software. Please note that only 1.0.1 and 1.0.2-beta releases of OpenSSL are affected, including 1.0.1f and 1.0.2-beta1.

What action is Claranet taking to safeguard its customers:
Claranet is currently patching all servers within its own infrastructure and those of its managed application customers.
For Claranet managed hosting customers, Claranet advises that they contact its Support Desk and request this patching as soon as possible.
For Claranet colocation customers, Claranet strongly advises that they patch their servers.

What other action should affected users take:
Users affected by the bug are advised to upgrade to OpenSSL 1.0.1g.
For those users who are not able to immediately upgrade, they can alternatively recompile OpenSSL with DOPENSSL_NO_HEARTBEATS.
RedHat users should upgrade to the patched version of 1.0.1e.

Please note:
There is a small possibility that this bug may already have been exploited. For this reason, Claranet also recommends that new, private keys be generated, along with revocation and reissue of SSL certs for any affected customers and users.

Further information about this issue can be found at:

From keeping the lights on to lighting the way – the changing role of the CIO

In recent years the CIO’s role has changed from simply delivering an organisation’s IT, to performing an essential role, supporting and facilitating business strategy, directly contributing to the generation of revenue and profit.

With this change the CIO has also seen a shift in reporting lines. A few years ago the head of the IT department would report to the CFO/FD as IT was seen as overhead rather than part of the strategic outlook for the organisation. Increasingly CIO’s are now reporting directly to the CEO/MD. This shift clearly underlines the way in which businesses are viewing IT as a vehicle for helping an organisation achieve its goals.

CIOs are now not only being tasked with “keeping the lights on”, but also supporting customer acquisition and retention, and helping the organisation reach its revenue goals, while at the same time completing major enterprise projects and product innovation efforts.

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