Surviving the Pandemic Requires Renewed Commitment to Cloud & Data

If we were to vote on the most overused word in 2020, “unprecedented” would be at or near the top of the list. And while we may be tired of hearing it, the fact is we’re all doing our jobs in a radically different way than we were in 2019. 

In the same spirit, we’re holding our first “cloud native” .conf event. We always want attendees to walk away with practical information they can put to use immediately to help their organizations get a competitive advantage. We will focus on sharing the ways we’ve helped our customers meet the challenges of the pandemic, from the realities of remote work to the increased focus on digital commerce and associated challenges not only to their IT and security infrastructure but to their viability as a business. 

We’ve seen our customers significantly increase the pace of their digital transformation plans and their focus on the fastest way to achieve it — the cloud and of course, Splunk. We’ve been talking about the value of cloud for years, but in 2020, any doubt went out the window as we witnessed 10 years worth of e-commerce growth in just three months.

At .conf20, you’ll learn the three major ways Splunk is addressing the challenges of the pandemic, the meteoric increase in digital transformation, the necessity of accelerating your cloud migration strategy and how data ties it all together.

We’ve Expanded Our Data-to-Everything Platform to Address Broadbased and Complex Data Processing Needs

According to Splunk’s recent report, The Data Age Is Here. Are You Ready?, 80% of organizations say data is critical to success. (I have no idea what business the other 20% are in.) We’ve gone way beyond the traditional logging capabilities of Splunk Enterprise so that our customers’ data can help them achieve the outcomes that matter most to them. We’re focusing on expanding the core platform beyond the index to power customers’ digital transformations through the data age.

At .conf20, you’ll learn about how we’re expanding our platform centers in five major categories:

  • Stream Processing enables insights and analytics much earlier in the data lifecycle
  • Machine Learning delivers AI-based insights for every type of user, from the practitioner to the data scientist
  • Scalable Index lets customers ingest, store, and deliver flexible schema-at-read analytics on massive volumes of data
  • Federated Search and Analytics deliver insights via a single-pane-of-glass against all your data, wherever it may live
  • Collaboration and Orchestration enables users and teams to leverage data as they naturally operate 
     

The New Splunk Cloud Experience Is Going Cloud Native

We’re making fundamental changes to the feature sets, operating models and architecture of our system to make our entire portfolio cloud-first. All Splunk customers will get the benefits of the cloud, including being able to take advantage of innovative new features as soon as they’re available. In just the last nine months, we’ve deployed more than 50 new capabilities across nine releases into Splunk Cloud.

This shift is not only about technology, but also encompasses business-model changes in pricing and packaging. This is the largest architectural change in Splunk history. It’s taken a tremendous amount of work from many, many people. But it will bring tremendous value to our customers. – Read more

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The 5 Most Commonly Asked Questions About Cloud Solutions

We believe there are many reasons to migrate your organisation’s applications to the cloud, not least of which are cost savings, streamlined operations, redeployment of resources, reskilling of your internal teams and talent retention.  

In this blog, I answer the five most common questions I get asked about moving applications to the cloud, so you can make an informed decision about whether it’s the right thing for your organisation.  

1. Is it secure and where is my data? 

“Is it secure?”  is one of the most commonly asked questions about the cloud. But as the cloud has become universal in organisations, the nature of the question has changed. 

Every year, major cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft spend billions to make their cloud services stable, robust and secure. Security measures and compliance certifications are available for all to see, and Microsoft’s cloud offering is as secure as it gets in terms of compliance, governance and physical security.  

The result? Today, almost everyone accepts that the cloud is secure. The conversation now is less around how secure it is and more around data control. It’s essential that organisations understand where their data lives, where it may go and who can access it in order to feel comfortable with moving to the cloud. 

A lack of understanding around how the cloud works is a barrier to adoption for many organisations. In the UK, law firms are amongst some of the most cautious adopters of cloud solutions, largely because of questions about where confidential client data will reside and who can access it.  

There needs to be an understanding that, by its very nature, the cloud exists in multiple locations – and your data can too. Azure, for example, for resilience can have multiple copies of data in multiple locations. And this conversation isn’t always an IT-led discussion; it needs the business to decide in which country their data should be reside, and whether they are comfortable with it potentially leaving UK soil. The cloud gives customers choice here, different services having different options about where data is stored, but it’s important that well informed decisions are made in this regard. 

Organisations need to know what they are letting themselves in for and understand how data will be stored and accessed which needs a complex, but not impossible, discussion about trust and understanding. In our experience, anyone who truly understands the options and how the cloud works has been confident in making an informed decision based on facts not fear.  

2.  Will all my IT staff be out of work/redundant? 

Generally, there isn’t a direct correlation between adopting cloud services and IT staff being let go.  We prefer to see this as freeing up IT staff to focus on more strategic tasks. 

Whether they’re in retail, manufacturing, healthcare or any other sector, businesses are trying to be ‘the best’ and provide the best service to their customers. IT should enable them to do that. It should be a supporter and enabler for a business to do its job and operate at its highest level. And for organisations that are held back by inefficient, outdated IT systems, embracing the cloud is one way to make improvements. 

Few organisations today choose to use physical servers; they are costly, require office space and need people to maintain and manage them. Solutions like O365 and Exchange Online are making delivery of common IT services easier, better and lower cost, and like it or not, the requirement for on-premise skills will reduce as cloud adoption becomes the new norm. As IT evolves, the skillset of IT teams needs to evolve with it, or face being left behind.  – Read more

Trial by Fire: Making the Mobile Workforce Work

My Post (11).pngMore people than ever are working remotely, and about one-third say the coronavirus pandemic was their first chance to do so. As companies return to a new normal, they are considering how to manage workers who are not in the office, and mobile workers add a unique challenge.

The term “remote worker” includes work-from-home employees and mobile workers. Most employees who work remotely do both. Using your phone for a video meeting, messaging from the grocery store or checking email on your laptop through a café’s mobile hotspot are all forms of mobile work. When you get back home and connect through VPN, you are working from home.

All workers need secure, remote access to co-workers, files and data, but mobile workers face another layer of complexity. When they go from computer to phone or tablet they need their data to sync, and they need a seamless experience from desktop app to mobile app. There are also the fundamental requirements of secure access, a quality wifi signal, video and audio. That is the ideal state.

The coronavirus pandemic exposed a lot of things that were less than ideal in our ability to work remotely. We’ve experienced co-workers unable to hear or be heard when their phone audio cut out, or headphones failed, or they dropped altogether because of dead batteries or bad connections. We’ve seen workers struggling to get necessary data or access tools and dashboards when on a mobile connection. And we’ve had IT leaders worry about privacy, even basics like screen protectors, for people working on the go.

As organizations transition to a new normal following the stay-at-home orders, they will need a strategy to sustain remote workers and their mobile needs, and that should center around three common business principles:

Plan and Invest

Employees need the right equipment to work from home and collaborate, both hardware and software. IT managers should plan for any additional software licensing and equipment purchases. It’s not just a corporate issue — consider the many schools that were unable to teach because students lacked computers and wifi. Identifying needs and planning for future investments is the way resilient organizations will manage through the uncertain months — or years — ahead.

Make the Best Use of Your Technology

For a tech geek like me, it’s easy to assume everyone knows how to use all the remote tools and is comfortable with them, but that’s not always the case. Even though remote connectivity is easier and more secure than it’s ever been, there are still a lot of steps, a lot of interactions and interdependencies. I’ve made some quick internal videos for Splunkers where I explain some of the basics and also some best practices.

You also need to make sure that remote workers’ tools are working optimally. For every computer issued and every software license granted, the IT team should have a policy and governance to track hardware and software updates. An employee on the go with expired software is not productive. It’s also absolutely vital to be able to monitor your network for potential issues and security threats, which can be done through cloud-based applications with both desktop and mobile versions, easily accessible through a company’s single sign-on. – Read More

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