Month: June 2014

Relationship with MSPs integral to retailers’ success as they move to cloud

Businesses need to use cloud to develop a constant process of innovation

To date, retailers have used cloud to good effect, with cloud services facilitating greater agility, flexibility and rapid expansion into international markets. However, research from Accenture indicates that many still lack the ability to offer a seamless service to customers across all platforms, highlighting the importance of Managed Services Providers (MSPs) and the need to use cloud computing to better effect.

The Accenture Seamless Retail Capabilities Benchmark Study found that 81 per cent of retailers examined reported absent or underdeveloped capabilities in tailoring assortment, pricing and shopping occasion to customer expectations across channels.

Andy Wilton, Claranet’s Group CIO, comments:

IT systems are the bloodline to most businesses and, when these systems can no longer provide the right functionality, it can cause significant damage. Most businesses, and particularly those in the retail sector, are in constant flux, and have to adapt to changing market conditions and seek new ways to get ahead of competitors. Many have now established some of their IT in the cloud and it is important that they realise how to take advantage of its benefits to facilitate change.”

In moving to the cloud, companies have to decide how much managed support they want from their providers above and beyond the basic hosting service. At one end of the spectrum, organisations take a basic approach, just renting the IaaS and leaving the development and management of what is hosted in-house. At the other, end-users choose to have a fully managed solution. However, whatever the choice, there are two issues that need to be addressed – firstly how to migrate the existing IT services while ensuring business continuity and secondly, how to establish a continuous innovation team to take advantage of the flexibility that a cloud approach offers. Technology can keep pace with how the wider business is changing, but only if the right people are in place.

Organisations should look for MSPs that include specific support for application development, testing and deployment in a live environment, underpinned by strong service level agreements. These are all critical services for innovation that no longer have to be handled in-house.

This is necessary to ensure that any implemented service will cater to the requirements of a business and add value, whilst laying down a solid foundation that maintains control and provides flexibility. Having a bespoke design, that meets the business’s corporate requirements, will ensure minimum disruption and iron out potential problems. It also establishes a clear innovation path in partnership with the end-user.

Wilton concludes: “For many, choosing an MSP is the best option because it relieves the pressure on in-house teams as they adjust systems to changing operational demands from the wider business. Many business leaders have got used to the idea that IT will always lag behind the rest of the business. With cloud now mainstream, this is no longer the case.”

Learn more about Claranet’s retail solutions.

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Claranet announces senior management changes to drive ambitious growth strategy

  • Martin Saunders appointed to new role as Corporate Development Director
  • Neil Thomas joins company as Claranet’s new Product Director

Managed Services Provider (MSP) Claranet has announced a number of strategically important changes to the senior management team, designed to drive continued innovation within the business, and ensure market relevance for its products and services. Previously Claranet’s Product Director, Martin Saunders, has moved to the newly-created role of Corporate Development Director, while Neil Thomas has joined the company as its new Product Director.

Martin Saunders has over 18 years’ experience in the Service Provider industry, with particular expertise in cloud technologies and high-availability network services. Having joined Claranet in 2006, he has had direct responsibility for the company’s product strategy and successfully oversaw the development and launch of its award-winning IaaS platform, the Virtual Data Centre, and more recently the launch of Claranet’s communications offering following the acquisition of Star in 2012.

In his new position as Corporate Development Director, Martin’s remit will shift away from the product offering itself and will focus on the development of new acquisitions and partnerships, sales enablement and ensuring Claranet makes the most of its group-wide portfolio of services.

Commenting on his newly-created position, Martin Saunders said: “Claranet has a long-established reputation for innovation and service in the hosting industry, but we must be dynamic if we are to remain competitive. We have an ambitious growth strategy, both organic and by acquisition, and I look forward to using my extensive knowledge of the company and our strengths to support these ambitions in my new role.”

Filling the role left by Martin, Neil Thomas has stepped into the position of Product Director at Claranet. Having previously worked at Vodafone Global Enterprise as Senior Product Manager, Cloud Computing, Neil brings with him a wealth of managed hosting experience at the enterprise level that he will apply to the rapidly growing mid-market sector in which Claranet operates. Neil will be focused on driving innovation across the portfolio, especially in the managed hosting and applications services range.

Claranet has also appointed James Mitchell as Senior Product Manager for Unified Communications, an emerging service area for Claranet.

Neil Thomas, Claranet’s Product Director, commented: “The IT industry is currently undergoing a period of rapid change, which presents a number of challenges for our customers. With an already wide range of network, hosting and communications services, Claranet is well placed to respond to those changes the fast-changing IT industry, and there are significant opportunities for the business to improve and deepen the portfolio further. As Product Director, I intend to ensure that our product portfolio can continue to meet the needs of our customers today, whilst also anticipating the needs of the market five years down the line.”

Claranet’s UK Managing Director, Michel Robert, said of the new appointments: “If Claranet is to drive growth and increase market relevance, it is vital that we have the right skills in place to move the business forward. Martin has served the company incredibly well during his time as Product Director, but the time is now right to reposition his skill set to ensure that we are able to make the most of new technologies, identify new acquisition targets, and source new partners for our business. Equally important is that we can bring new blood into the business. Neil Thomas brings with him a unique set of skills, which will no doubt prove to be invaluable as we move on to our next chapter.”

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How worried should you be about botnets?

It seems there is a high-profile technology security problem in the news every week, and while this coverage is great for educating people, it can leave the public slightly jaded and unresponsive to internet security threats. In the wake of recent security breaches, eBay, Spotify and Office, amongst others, have called for their customers to address potential vulnerabilities by changing their passwords. Many people probably haven’t acted upon this advice, and it is this complacent ‘it couldn’t happen to me attitude’ which can ultimately result in security breaches.

This week I was asked to comment on an internet security situation which has been getting plenty of attention from the press. One publication ran with a front-page headline claiming you only had ‘Two weeks to save your computer from major cyber attack.’ Clearly the media sensationalises in order to gain attention and to sell, but do they have a point? I’ll try and explain what happened in this story and what you should do to ensure you are safeguarded.

I am the Managing Director for an internet hosting provider called Tagadab, a Claranet Group Company. Alongside many other service suppliers we worked with the FBI to help de-stabilise a botnet controlled by a major cybercrime syndicate.

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