Digitally Speaking
Pepper, the humanoid robot talks AI

Justin Price
December 10, 2018

Logicalis recently attended IBM’s Think London event where Pepper the Robot was our honorary guest. With people lining up to talk to Pepper, we battled through the crowds to ask a few questions about the hot topics of the day, such as implementing AI. 

Q. Hi Pepper! Can you tell us about Think London?

IBM Think London was an incredible event where technology met humanity. There were a range of industry leaders and experts there to advise people on topics such as choosing the best fit cloud model for your business, leveraging data better, and innovating faster.

I was delighted to join my friends at Logicalis at the show, informing visitors about how they can modernise infrastructures, transform the way IT is delivered, and unlock the value of data. As ‘architects of change’, Logicalis were able to give me lots of examples of where they have delivered solutions and services that take advantage of the benefits driven by cloud, mobility, big data analytics and AI.

Pepper the humanoid robot at the Logicalis stand at IBM Think London

Q. There was a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence at the show. Can you tell us a bit more?

Everyone is talking about Artificial Intelligence currently and the hype around it in the media is extraordinary. Logicalis recently released its sixth annual global CIO survey  which revealed that nearly a fifth (19%) of CIOs claim their organisations are already using AI. Moreover, 66% said that AI will be in use within their organisations within three years. In reality though, only 4% of organisations have successfully deployed AI.

Exciting times, yet the report also sounded a note of caution about how to make the best use of AI. You need a partner with strong capabilities and know how to help you implement it correctly. And it’s worth noting that, outside of the IT department, the business area most likely to use AI is customer service (17% say it is in use here). Old style chat bots have got nothing on AI in its purest form – technology that is able to learn and adapt independently based on context. Like yours truly…

Q. What sectors are driving AI adoption? 

Last year financial fraud losses in the UK totalled £768 million. AI is a powerful tool that can provide financial organisations with the ability to combat this fraud challenge; from automating risk analysis, detecting and investigating fraud, assisting regulatory intelligence and automating IT functions.

AI can also provide retail organisations with a range of benefits including personalised shopping experiences, dynamic pricing or the use of real time tracking to optimise logistics.

Given the potential of AI, it’s not surprising that many businesses want to introduce it into their organisation to increase competitive advantage.

Thank you for chatting with us and giving us an insight into the event Pepper!

Want to learn more about implementing AI?

Join our live webinar on Wednesday 19th December at 11am to hear Justin Price, AI Lead and Chief Data Scientist and Scott Hodges, Solutions Architect discuss how to deliver a scalable AI strategy.

You will discover:

  • The main challenges businesses face in implementing AI 
  • How to put AI into practice inside your organisation
  • Powerful Artificial Intelligence and machine learning use cases
  • Practical advice for an AI-ready infrastructure

Register now



CIOs: Agents of Innovation

Gary Lomas
November 19, 2018

The role of the CIO is shifting dramatically away from day-to-day activity and ‘keeping the lights on’ towards a long-desired strategic focus, according to the findings of the sixth annual Logicalis Global CIO Survey. The global survey of more than 840 CIOs has identified long overdue, significant change in the role of CIOs across Europe, the Americas, the Far East and Australia.

Key Findings:

  • Innovation accounts for around 25% of the modern CIO’s role, with strategic activity (including innovation) accounting for around half of the role.
  • 94% of respondents spend between 10% and 50% of their time on innovation and other strategic activities, 38% spend at least 30% of their time on this area.
  • 73% of CIOs are measured on system availability and 62% on their success in reducing the cost of IT and risk mitigation
  • 22% of IT is now managed by external suppliers, and 24% is outside the corporate footprint.
  • 31% delegate day to day IT tasks due to lack internal resources or know-how

With great(er) power comes great(er) responsibility

This time last year we were hearing from CIOs that their roles were dominated by day to day IT management. In the 2017-18 survey, the majority of CIOs were spending between 60% and 80% of their time on ‘keeping the lights on’ and remained frustrated in their desire to spend up to 70% of their time on strategy.

It seems that their progress towards that goal over the last 12 months has been significant. Today, 94% of these IT leaders spend between 10% and 50% of their time on innovation and other strategic activities, and 38% spend at least 30% of their time on this area. On average, innovation accounts for around a quarter of the modern CIO’s role, with strategic activity (including innovation) accounting for around half of the role.

But, with this shift comes a seeming increase in expectation when it comes to measurement. Tellingly, half of CIOs (50%) now see their performance measured according to their ability to deliver service innovation and more than a third (35%) are expected to make a direct contribution to revenue growth – perhaps through digital transformation and by enabling product and service innovation through digital technology.

Against this backdrop it’s no surprise, then, to see CIOs more willing to seek outside help to manage day to day IT.  Overall 22% of the average CIO’s IT estate is now managed by third parties. What’s more, CIOs’ success in taking on a more strategic role appears to be enabling new, more agile and adaptable approaches to organisational innovation.

The way organisations think about innovation is changing, with strategies for innovation now most commonly about enabling small scale, everyday experimentation. Over a third (34%) of organisations now take that approach, with the large-scale projects that once dominated now accounting for less than a quarter (23%).

CIOs are playing a crucial role in this new approach to innovation.  When asked what role they play in organisation-wide innovation, 32% said they played a leading role, while a further 51% pointed to an enabling role. Innovation isn’t for all it seems, though, with an unlucky 13% admitting to playing only a peripheral role and 4% playing no role at all.

How CIOs are now spending their time

Positive signs for the future

These findings complement a number of key takeaways in a recent survey of CIOs by Gartner (2019 CIO Agenda: Secure the Foundation for Digital Business). It reports that digital progress has reached a tipping point where a half of respondents say their organisation’s business model has already changed or is changing. 95% of the Gartner respondents believe security threats will increase and calls for CIOs to: “Build relationships with the business and other stakeholders while communicating the value of IT for digital business”, something the Logicalis survey shows they are doing as “agents of innovation”.

We’re delighted to see CIOs enjoying success in taking on a long-desired more strategic role – no doubt helped by their increasing reliance on trusted third parties to take on more of the heavy lifting associated with day to day activities.

Most importantly, this shift seems to have enabled CIOs to take central roles in innovation. This is essential given that digital technology now sits at the heart of innovation, not just enabling better service delivery, communication or collaboration, but defining entirely new business propositions.

There is still a long way to go if organisations are to realise the full benefits of digital transformation. But the fact that CIOs and technology leaders are central to this innovation – rather than struggling to keep up – can only give us real optimism for the future.

The results of the global survey of more than 840 CIOs can be accessed here:

Category: News

Jen Molyneux
November 16, 2018

This week saw the publication of CRN’s A-List, an annual guide that lists, in the words of the publication, “some of the movers and shakers that make up the channel elite”.

We’re delighted that two of our management team have been included, Managing Director Bob Swallow and COO Natalie Matthews (hot on the heels of her Women in Channel award), giving their views on on a variety of topics, ranging from who they would have play them in a film of their life, to their guiltiest pleasure, to the biggest untapped opportunity facing the channel.

Among the highlights were one Logicalis executive nominating Ray Winstone to play them in a film – your guess as to which of the two said this – and Natalie’s admission that her love of scented candles and roses may draw comparisons to Elton John! Bob identified the development of talent as the biggest opportunity for the channel, whilst Natalie cited doing digital transformation properly as a cause to get behind.

It’s a glowing endorsement of Logicalis UK that two of our executives were invited to take part, and you can find out more about what Bob and Natalie had to say – the full list is here.

Category: News

Richard Simmons
November 5, 2018

Nowadays, when it comes to digital, employee expectations are at an all time high and, with the industry-wide skills gap proving a difficult problem to solve, often the greatest challenge faced by organisations is not only sourcing the right people, but keeping them.

If your employees are motivated and committed, then individual targets are more likely to be met and business objectives are more likely to be achieved. If not, then your workforce, and available skill pool, is likely to dwindle. In the current climate, attracting and subsequently retaining talent is one of the biggest dilemmas faced by businesses of all sizes.

This is why user experience should be the driving force behind any changes to your digital landscape.

‘The Workplace’- A new definition

There’s no getting away from the fact that things are changing. ‘The Workplace’ used to be similar to an engine room where any and all work was completed. Employees came in at 9am and left at 5pm each day, completing all their assigned tasks whilst staring at the same four walls.

Then along came agile technologies, empowering employees to leave the office and enabling them to work with a level of flexibility that had never been achieved before. They can work at any time and from anywhere. ‘The Workplace’ is no longer a desk in an office. It can be anything an individual would like it to be; whether that is a cafe, the family living room or a park bench. And what’s more, time constraints are a thing of the past. Of course, the dreaded deadlines are still unavoidable but working hours are no longer dictated by a lack of efficient technology.

All in all, the ability to offer some form of flexible working has become an important part of attracting your workforce. In fact, a recent report conducted by global recruitment expert Hydrogen discovered that 81% of people look for flexible working options before joining a new company. The same report also found that 88% of technology professionals consider flexible working to be more important than other benefits and 60% of those questioned would chose it over a 5% salary increase. It’s no longer optional for businesses – if you don’t invest in the technologies to support flexible working initiatives then potential, talented candidates will look elsewhere.

And flexible working doesn’t just play a role in the hiring process, agile technologies and the new workplace can also help businesses to retain talent.

If employees can work flexibly, they can better manage their work/life balance. They can choose to work longer – and at a more flexible rate – if they wish meaning that more experienced generations will be able to educate and pass on specialised skill sets to the younger, up and coming workforce. And, thanks to agile technologies, they will no longer have to be there physically to do so.

In fact, with flexible working initiatives, if employees are coming into the office it will often be because they’ve chosen to or because they would like to meet others there. As a result, ‘The Workplace’ is transformed into a social hub, where relationships are formed and maintained, rather than a space where deadlines have to be met. Better relationships with co-workers leads to happier employees who are more invested in the company culture and so less likely to leave.

Listening to the data

There are the obvious benefits associated with flexible working initiatives for employees but installing agile working technologies also enables businesses to capture informative data.

You see, in our online world, every single action generates data. Every website visited, every message sent, every document created has a record somewhere. For businesses, this data can be used to measure employee activity and ensure that any facilities and services are meeting the standards of today’s workforce.

After all, at the heart of this new digital workplace is user experience. By monitoring the data that they are able to collect via agile technologies, businesses can essentially listen to their employees needs and ensure that they’re supporting them.

And, if you can work out which environments produce the best results in your workforce then you can look to emulate this elsewhere. For example, if there is a room in the building where people prefer to meet or are able to work more productively, data will reveal this. This intel can then be used to influence and optimise the whole office space so that your business can make the most out of its environment. So agile technologies are not only changing the ‘workplace’ as a concept, they can also be used to change it physically.

The re-definition of ‘the workplace’ has opened up a whole host of opportunities for businesses and for employees alike. Empowering your workforce and granting your people an element of choice by enabling them to work how they would like to is important for both attracting and retaining talent. As is also updating physical spaces to improve employee satisfaction and – as a direct result – productivity. After all, your workforce is your most valuable asset and if you invest in them then your entire business will reap the rewards.

Category: Analytics

IT Leaders' Summit

Dean Mitchell
October 25, 2018

Last week, we sponsored Computing’s annual IT Leaders’ Summit which took place at Carlton House, London. The summit provided an opportunity for senior IT executives across all industries to discuss how they can drive digital transformation in areas such as the cloud and Artificial Intelligence.

Richard Simmons, our Head of European AI & IoT Practice presented to a packed house and hosted a round table; here’s a quick recap of our day.

The hype of AI

Artificial Intelligence has become the latest focal point in the conversation around data insights. Yet, contrary to the volume of noise surrounding it, according to industry studies only 4% of organisations have actually deployed AI*, with most of these businesses still in the early phases of AI adoption and facing unexpected challenges. Richard took to the stage to bust some myths and to provide the facts about AI that have been overlooked in the hype.

“AI is not the answer to everything. It needs more data, it requires more resources, you need the right foundations in place and your infrastructure has to be ready, otherwise there is a huge amount of inefficiency” he said. “You cannot underestimate the time it will take to develop and build. It can take weeks, even months, to get an AI strategy up and running and a massive 80% of an AI project’s time is spent in the data preparation phase.”

Richard also highlighted the extremely long training times required. This is partly due to the different sets of skills needed to fine-tune and deploy it – the skill set of the person managing an AI project will be vastly different to the skill set of the person building it.

“After you have worked on a business strategy, then spent a long time preparing the data, you have to experience all that pain again. Because the more data you give an AI project, the more accurately it performs.  If you want to really drive value from the data you have, the project is never ending. AI is not a quick fix.”

Opening the discussion

Following Richard’s presentation, our over-subscribed (it’s almost like it’s a hot topic!) IT leaders round table began, where we discussed the key factors and approaches to be considered to deliver a scalable AI strategy.

The discussion started with the question ‘who on this table has deployed an AI project in their company?’. Out of 29 people, only five IT leaders said yes. Those who responded with yes reinforced that their projects were in the early phases and were starting small before they scaled up.

“It can take a lot of time with very little return at the start of an AI strategy. So, it can be hard to encourage the rest of the business to support the project when they can’t see the rewards. This is why starting modest and breaking it down into smaller projects can help. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew” agreed Richard.

Sharing is caring

We are currently seeing a great push for data sharing across businesses, a concern that was raised during the discussion. As Richard said, AI operates most efficiently when it has been fed a lot of data therefore it would make sense for businesses to share already processed and interpreted data with others in a similar sector. So why aren’t businesses doing this?

“There isn’t always a desire to share what you’ve worked so hard on. If you do share your data, there is a huge risk that the person you’ve shared it with will implement it and use the data better. If you share your work, get ready for the competition to begin.”

Who owns the data?

One topic that dominated the round table was the ownership of data within a business. Many of those who sat at the table expressed the desire to be a data-run business, but getting to that stage wasn’t as easy as they hoped. According to Richard, if a company wants to be data led and to use AI efficiently, there needs to be a “new culture built internally. Every part of the business needs to work with data in mind, not just the IT department and those involved with the AI process.”

This is where data ownership is a necessity. It was mentioned that whilst employees may be really interested in deploying AI, no one was excited about the management, governance and upkeep of the data needed for the AI to work efficiently! To combat this, one person said that their company recently wrote a data strategy – from compliance, to governance, to how the company values and uses data – in order for every employee to be on the same page.

As a final note, Richard said “getting every part of the business on board is vital, but it will take work. This culture change to a data driven enterprise will not happen overnight, it should be on going just like the AI project itself.”

Is your business ready for AI?  Is your infrastructure?  Find out how Logicalis UK and IBM can help you overcome AI infrastructure limitations and access an IDC expert infrastructure readiness report – Finance or Retail and Manufacturing.  

Logicalis UK would like to thank Computing for hosting us at the IT Leaders’ Summit and to those who joined us at our panel session and the round table.


Jen Molyneux
October 22, 2018

It was a night of celebration for Logicalis UK at the inaugural CRN Women in Channel Awards, as two of our five shortlisted employees walked away with the top prize in their category.

These awards recognise the achievements of the entrepreneurs, leaders and exceptional employees who act as role models for young females considering a career in this fast-paced, dynamic industry. We were therefore delighted – but not surprised – to see Wendy Paine recognised as Technical Employee of the Year and Natalie Matthews crowned Role Model of the Year.

Natalie, who is Logicalis UK Chief Operating Officer said “it was an honour to be shortlisted, and to be joined by four of my colleagues is testament to the progress that Logicalis is making to address gender equality.” Natalie’s win was not only an acknowledgement of her role as COO but also to her commitment in encouraging other women to succeed in IT through mentoring.

Bob Swallow, MD at Logicalis UK is delighted that Natalie has been recognised “Natalie has been an incredible mentor and role model to so many people in Logicalis. Since taking over as COO in 2016 no-one has delivered more in terms of the development of our people and in more than 40 years in the industry I haven’t met anyone who made a greater positive impact on people.”

Following CRN’s announcement that Wendy had been awarded the Technical Employee of the Year, she tweeted “I’m humbled and proud to be chosen from a group of fantastic women.”

Wendy Paine Gary Lomas WiC Awards 18
Wendy Paine, Technical Employee of the Year, and UK Sales Director Gary Lomas at the CRN Women in Channel Awards


Wendy’s outstanding work as team leader for Technical Integration Services at Logicalis UK is one of the many reasons she was awarded Technical Employee of the Year. In response to Wendy’s win, Mark Best, Services Director said “Wendy takes on challenges with such confidence. She takes ownership, is diligent, conscientious and caring for her team and is an example of the power of women in business.”

Joining the nominees at the event was Gary Lomas, UK Sales Director at Logicalis UK who said, “it was refreshing to attend an IT event that was 80% female as opposed to the usual 80% male.”

“To have five employees nominated and two winners is brilliant, especially considering the size of our business compared to some of the other winners. Logicalis is privileged to have these individuals working for us” Gary added.

Everyone here at Logicalis would like to congratulate all our shortlisted employees: Jane Emerson, Fanni Vig, Natasha Darbyshire, Wendy Paine and Natalie Matthews.


Category: Women in IT

Jen Molyneux
October 18, 2018

“The art of the possible with technology is incredible. We need to give the younger generation the opportunity to be able to envisage what is possible in the world with IT’s help.” We talked to Natasha Darbyshire, Head of IT at Logicalis UK, who has been nominated for Manager of the Year.

Starting out

Natasha’s interest in the IT industry started early on in her career. Whilst studying for her degree in marketing and advertising, she worked part-time with her father for an IT Systems Integrator. Being Managing Director of the company, Natasha’s father provided ample inspiration for her.

“It was a cool and fun environment to work in, especially at 19. I saw my father work hard, and I saw the hard work pay off when the company won big deals and they celebrated. I got the chance to see first-hand how technology was changing and improving businesses and this early exposure to the technology sector was crucial to driving my career later on.”

Falling into IT

On completing her degree, Natasha moved from New Zealand to London. She started her first full-time role as a sales rep in a company with its headquarters in New Zealand, which “felt a bit like home.”

However, four weeks into the role, Natasha was able to identify all the inefficiencies and the lack of automation within the company. Eager to stay working in the company but aware of the need for change, Natasha delivered a report on how to fix the problem and proposed implementing a new software system.

“Within a week of giving the report in, I was working on a solution that improved productivity by 75%. We then implemented the same solution in the Australian and New Zealand branches of the company. I was thrown into the deep end, but it cemented my passion to improve business through technology.”

Driving change at Logicalis

Natasha’s fellow CRN award nominee and colleague, Natalie Matthews, saw the potential in Natasha and believed she would fit the bill for the role of Head of IT.

“I never pictured myself in that role and I had to consider the offer of promotion before I accepted it. Not because I didn’t want it, but because I had never imagined myself as Head of IT. But I saw Natalie work her way up to COO and it inspired me, along with other women in Logicalis UK.”

Tech is changing

When asked what the one thing Natasha would do to encourage more women into the IT sector, she says “give it the ‘Apple’ effect. IT is becoming sexy, but old stereotypes of the IT industry are still intact.”

To encourage the younger generation to consider a career in technology, Natasha believes we have to provide them with more opportunities to see the more inspiring side of technology.

“The art of the possible with technology is unbelievable. We need to invite young people to trade days to open their eyes, so they envisage what is possible in the world with IT’s help. They need early exposure to the excitement, like I had.”

Top tips

“Be inquisitive. Ask your questions without any fear, because no question is a stupid question. I have often had to ask many very technical people to explain to me in non-technical language what they mean, and that’s not a weakness.”

The CRN Women in Channel Awards will be announced on the 18th October. Good luck to all of the nominees!


Category: Women in IT

Jen Molyneux
October 16, 2018

IT never seemed like a weird place for a woman to work. I saw the industry as an opportunity for myself.”  We met up with Wendy Paine, team leader for Technical Integration Services at Logicalis UK, to talk all things tech.

Wendy is one of only 14 women in EMEA and 28 worldwide to hold a double HPE Master ASE certification and has been nominated for the Technical Employee of the Year Award.


During the late 70s and early 80s, Wendy’s grandmother worked at GEC-Marconi in the IT department managing their backup. In those days it was regarded as fairly unusual for a woman to work in that role.

“From an early age, I often went to work with my grandmother and it sparked my passion for all things tech. Because of this, IT never seemed like a weird place for a woman to work. I saw the industry as an opportunity for myself”.

The shining moment

Wendy has worked her way up from hardware support roles, to solutions and software design, before embarking on the mission of becoming a consultant.

Throughout her long and successful career, there is one project that particularly shines. Wendy worked as part of a team on a transformation project for an oil and gas company in Kazakhstan which successfully reduced the company’s datacentres from 36 to 3 and provided many cost savings and efficiencies.

During the project Wendy realised that individual expertise is key in securing big deals, but certifications and qualifications really helped customers to trust people’s knowledge and capability. She encouraged companies to invest more in their employees to help them gain certifications and went on to win an award for her work.

“The award encouraged me to push harder in my career because I proved I was capable to succeed. As a woman working on this project in an emerging territory, I think I stood out more.”

The technical talk

In her role at Logicalis UK, Wendy leads an all-male team. When asked if she finds this challenging at times, Wendy said “I think there is a perception that women can’t do tech heavy jobs because they may not understand what’s involved. I’ve worked hard in my career to build up my knowledge and become an expert in what I do, gaining respect and trust in the process.”

Like in any career, Wendy knows you have to believe in yourself in order to succeed, perhaps even more so when you’re in the minority in your industry. “I still find it hard to believe in my ability and I’m not always confident, but I can talk tech and I’m proud of that” she said.

Leaders at Logicalis

Being one of the only females has been the norm throughout Wendy’s working life. She once attended a tech conference of 1,200 people where only 35 attendees were female, and this was not a rare occurrence.

“I think the lack of women in IT is a big is issue for businesses. Logicalis helps to combat this by actively helping women to achieve their goals. The company does not subscribe to the perception that IT is just for men and working here you feel encouraged to strive in your career.”

Top tips

“It’s so important to find a job doing something you love. If you love it then you are passionate about it, and if you are passionate about it, you believe in what you say. So take the time to explore the IT industry and figure out what suits you. There is a huge variety of jobs under the umbrella of technology to try.”

CRN’s Women in Channel Awards will be announced on the 18th October. We wish all of the nominees good luck and have our fingers crossed!

Category: Women in IT

Jen Molyneux
October 15, 2018

We are encouraged to have a voice, be innovative and not be afraid to speak up. It’s all about feeling part of the company and the team we work for.”


We talked to Jane Emerson, Client Director at Logicalis UK, who has been nominated for Sales Employee of the Year.


Starting out in tech

Jane’s career in IT started at IBM where she joined as a sponsored student through the University of Nottingham. After graduating from university, Jane started full time at IBM where she worked for 10 years, with 2 years spent in the US on secondment. Following her time at IBM, Jane worked for a further 10 years at a business partner of IBM, before joining Logicalis UK.

Talking about what inspired her to pursue a career in tech, Jane said “initially it was what IBM had to offer; education combined with a practical experience and a breadth of career choices. It seemed like an industry with opportunities for me.”


Learning from the big deals

Throughout Jane’s career, there have been challenges, but these have often been met with success. The most complex project she undertook was the deal between Unilever and IBM in 2015, worth £32m.


“The hard work from the IBM, Logicalis and Unilever team led to the ultimate success of the project. It was inspiring to have the opportunity to work on a successful deal which resulted from amazing teamwork and partnerships.”


“It taught me that maintaining and keeping the customer happy is key – people buy people.”


Changes at Logicals UK

Jane has been at Logicalis UK for just over 8 years and during this time she believes there have been too many positive changes to list. She said, “nothing is more certain than change and it’s a must in our industry if we are to keep that edge and survive.”


One change that Jane thinks is worth highlighting is the increased number of women in management roles at Logicalis UK.


“I don’t think women get treated any differently to men here and that’s the key to its female employees progressing within the company. I am often the only woman in the room and I don’t even notice. We are encouraged to have a voice, be innovative and not be afraid to speak up. It’s all about feeling part of the company and the team we work for.”


Despite changes at the company, there is one aspect that remains central and constant; “the people and the passion. When we pull together, there is no better team.”


Top tip

“Treat people as you want to be treated yourself. IT is a small industry so never forget that. If you believe in yourself and believe in others, you can be a great team player.”


CRN’s Women in Channel Awards will be announced on the 18th October. We wish all of the nominees good luck and have our fingers crossed!

Category: Women in IT

Jen Molyneux
October 11, 2018

“It is a wonderful moment when you realise the only thing holding you back in your career, is yourself.” Here we meet Natalie Matthews, COO of Logicalis UK, who is shortlisted for the Role Model of the Year Award.

Introducing Natalie

Natalie’s career began at IBM as a trainee Personal Assistant on their Youth Training Scheme. Following this, Natalie joined a small business and worked her way up to become part of their Senior Management Team, which was later acquired by Logicalis. During the acquisition, she was offered the role of VP of Operations at Logicalis UK, a proposal she was surprised by. “When I think back to my first day with IBM, with little education and no experience in tech, it would have seemed like a near impossibility that I would hold such a position in a well-known IT company” she said.

As VP of Operations, Natalie consistently demonstrated her ability as a leader. Two and a half years ago, her hard work paid off and she was appointed as Chief Operating Officer. Today she is responsible for over 80 employees in Operations, HR, IT, Marketing, Operational Development, Vendor Management and Marketing, and has recently taken over responsibility for Maintenance Sales.

Turning negatives into positives

During her career, Natalie has always had a fear of public speaking, a skill that is required in her job. However, she learnt to overcome this by being honest about her struggle and through this approach, Natalie has helped others who shared her fear.

“It has been overwhelming to see how many people also find public speaking a daunting task. But by sharing my experience, I encouraged others to be open about their struggle.”

To offer further help, Natalie launched an intensive two-day public speaking training course at Logicalis, which was available to anyone who wanted to improve their skills and confidence.

With success comes challenges

Like any successful career, there have been challenges. “Initially, being the sole woman on IT company boards was intimidating and I often felt inferior. I was in awe of strategic thinkers who could imagine great company visions and I wished I could be more like them” she said.

However, feeling inferior is now a thing of the past. Nowadays, Natalie views being a woman as a benefit.

“I realised that I bring something different to the group and started noticing my own strengths; my ability to implement change, develop people and bringing a simplistic approach to strategies. It is a wonderful moment when you realise the only thing holding you back, is yourself.”

Changing Logicalis UK

When Natalie started at Logicalis UK thirteen years ago, there was only a small percentage of female employees. She has made it her ongoing mission to change this and uses her position to identify and mentor those with potential to develop their careers.

“The number of female employees, especially managers, has increased dramatically during my time, which makes me very proud. To see my fellow colleagues flourish is extremely rewarding. IT can often feel like a man’s world, but it needs diverse skills and fresh ideas, which women can bring.”

Talking about the importance of being a mentor she said “if every woman in IT mentored a handful of female colleagues and encouraged them to rise up the ranks, we would see a revolution in the tech sector.”

Top tips for women in IT

“Don’t hold back. The strategy that I have applied throughout my career has been to say yes to every opportunity and challenge to push myself. You need to be yourself, not someone that you think people want you to be. Just have confidence in your ability.”

CRN’s Women in Channel Awards will be announced on the 18th October. We wish all of the nominees good luck and have our fingers crossed!

Category: Women in IT

Jen Molyneux
October 4, 2018

The current statistics of women who work in IT aren’t wholly optimistic. According to Women in Tech, only one-in-six tech specialists and only one-in-ten IT leaders are women.

In the coming months, leading IT channel publication CRN is aiming to understand this problem of gender diversity in their Women in Channel debate. They are asking the big questions; is our education system failing to encourage women to study tech subjects? Is there a work culture that discourages women from joining or progressing in IT businesses?

Yet, whilst the figures of women currently employed in IT are not excellent, there is certainly no shortage of talented females in tech. Alongside their debate, CRN are also hosting the Women in Channel Awards which will recognise the individuals who are influencing, challenging and reshaping the tech industry.

At Logicalis UK, we are not in short supply of female employees who are reworking and challenging the male-dominated tech industry. We are extremely proud to announce that five of our employees have been shortlisted for the awards.

Meet our nominees

First up is Natasha Darbyshire, Head of IT, shortlisted for Manager of the Year. Natasha is currently leading a digital transformation programme of works covering everything from Logicalis UK’s core infrastructure and networking, through to collaboration technologies, back-office systems, data analytics, AI and IoT.

Second up is Logicalis UK’s Chief Operating Officer, Natalie Matthews, who has been shortlisted for Role Model of the Year. With over 25 years of experience in IT which began with IBM’s Youth Train-ing Scheme, Natalie has developed from a PA to a Senior Leadership position, often finding herself as the only woman on the board of various companies.
Our third nominee is Wendy Paine, TIS Team Leader shortlisted for Technical Employee of the Year. Wendy is one of 14 women in EMEA and 28 worldwide who hold a double HPE-MASE certification and currently manages an all male team of 23 at Logicalis UK.

Nominated for Sales Employee of the Year, our fourth nominee is Jane Emerson, Client Director, who has been at the company for eight years. In this time, Jane has facilitated vital collaboration between teams and customers, resulting in winning new clients and expanding Logicalis UK’s engagement with their client portfolio.

Last but certainly not least, our fifth nominee, Fanni Vig has been nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year. Fanni has been leading the Data and IoT Business Unit within Logicalis since its creation three years ago. Within this time, Fanni’s team has delivered a 150% top-line and a 300% bottomline growth, resulting in it becoming one of the most profitable areas within the wider group.

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on 18 October 2018 at the Hilton London Bankside Hotel. Congratulations and good luck to all of those who are shortlisted and we look forward to an evening of celebrating – we’re keeping our fingers crossed!

Category: Women in IT

Scott Reynolds
May 10, 2018

As the benefits of hybrid IT have become clear, it has evolved from a temporary state to the chosen environment for many organisations looking to thrive.

Every organisation, regardless of size or sector, has a digital strategy. In fact, it’s hard to believe that IT once lingered on the fringes of business operations and decisions when today it is front and centre – a driving force behind both individual projects and overall business objectives.

And for the vast majority of organisations, it’s difficult to speak about digital strategy without mentioning cloud.

In fact, cloud’s ever-growing role and potential benefits are so widely publicised that it can feel almost unavoidable. After all, if your competitors adopt ‘cloud first’ strategies and you chose not to- don’t you risk getting left behind?

But, cloud doesn’t have to be all or nothing…

Enter hybrid IT

With hybrid IT, organisations can bring in cloud-based services that will run in parallel with their existing on-premise hardware. This may not necessarily be a new concept. However, its full potential is rarely realised.

Instead, more often than not, hybrid IT is built into digital strategies as a stepping stone to cloud and, as such, considered the transitional phase on a much bigger journey. It’s useful, but it’s also temporary… Simply a vehicle to get you and your organisation where you need to be by enabling you to join the elite and become a ‘cloud first’ company.

And it’s true, hybrid IT is a very useful tool for organisations looking to make the first small steps into a new cloud-centric world. You can test the waters by investing in new cloud-based technologies, without being all-in.

But hybrid IT can also open up the door to a whole new world of possibilities, enabling businesses to operate in- and therefore reap the benefits associated with- both on-premise and cloud environments.

Many organisations have started to realise this and- as a result- the concept of hybrid IT is transitioning from a temporary phase to a preferred way to do business. In fact, according to Gartner, by 2020 90% of organisations will have adopted a hybrid infrastructure.

But what are the key drivers behind this shift?

The best of both worlds

Traditional IT or cloud technologies… it used to be a one-stop choice that organisations had to make. And once you made it, all your application workloads and databases were assigned to one environment. You were effectively tied into that environment until you actively decided to change and, with significant effort and probably financial cost, you made steps to convert.

But, by using hybrid IT, organisations no longer have to commit to a single environment. They can have the best of both worlds and benefit from aligning specific workloads and applications to specific platforms. hybrid IT grants:

The scalability and cost efficiency of cloud technologies

There’s no doubt about it, scaling a traditional infrastructure can be very expensive. By making the most of hybrid IT- and utilising the public cloud and private cloud environments, businesses can upscale IT operations quickly and at minimal cost – which is particularly useful for shorter-term projects. But, it doesn’t stop there… with hybrid IT, organisations can also downscale their operations. In effect, everything can be driven to reflect the actual demands being placed upon the business, saving both resource and money.

And if organisations are saving resource in those areas, it leaves more room for innovation. The exciting new projects that often have to be pushed aside due to more pressing concerns, such as keeping the lights on, can become a reality.

The security and consistency of traditional IT

IDC recently discovered that the number one barrier to adopting cloud-based technologies continues to be security concerns – with 72% of business leaders agreeing it was a real issue. Whether these fears are well founded or not, the fact remains that- sometimes- public cloud may not meet an organisation’s strict security requirements. Hybrid IT grants peace of mind, enabling organisations to benefit from cloud technologies while keeping their most valuable and sensitive data on premise.

Hybrid IT is also often used in disaster recovery strategies. In our digital world, suffering an IT outage is every organisation’s worst nightmare. Why? Because the downtime that organisations suffer as a result can have a devastating and lasting impact, both financially and in terms of future reputation. By having primary data copied and stored in two different locations, organisations can recover faster while keeping downtime to a minimum.

Above all, hybrid IT gives organisations the freedom to make their own choices. It merges the best of old world technology with new world thinking. And, just as digital is no longer the sole territory of IT departments, it’s set to infiltrate the boardroom and play a key role in all future business decisions.

After all, hybrid IT is an enabler, allowing business leaders to make the right digital decision for their business, whether that is traditional IT, cloud-based technologies or a mixture of the two.

Contact us to find out more about Hybrid IT and how we can help you leverage it

Originally posted on Information Age, 24 April 2018


Category: Hybrid IT

Ismail El Kadiri
April 4, 2018

Over the past decade or so, numerous planning and analytics solutions have come out in an effort to catch up with the complex business environment. Most solutions compete around speed, scalability, visualisation capabilities, scenario modelling and excel integration. Our recent Global CIO survey revealed that analytics is still considered ‘very important’ or ‘critical’ for driving innovation and decision-making across the business.

Traditionally, planning tools have been aimed at the department of Finance. Budgeting and forecasting needs, P&Ls, balance sheets and cash flows have been the bread and butter of planning and reporting solutions. However, this only scratches the surface of what can be achieved in the world of business planning. We are in an era when a truly successful planning practice is not solely based upon financial-focused analytics, but also includes customer, sales performance and workforce analytics.

Planning and analytics for the entire business

Although Finance is usually the right strategic area to begin implementing any planning solution, it should just serve as a starting point. A truly successful planning solution should incorporate your operational planning, giving you a more accurate and all-encompassing view of your business.

Apart from Finance, almost all business functions can benefit from agile planning processes and data analytics with payroll, sales and asset management at the top of the list.

Payroll analytics to decrease manual work

Payroll planning can be a very complex and frequently it’s a manual task for modern organisations. HR employees responsible for payroll face multiple components that influence the complexity of the payroll process, such as NI adjustments, complex bonus schemes, salary increases and benefits. Taking into consideration ongoing government changes, regulatory updates and HR related modifications, payroll can prove to be a stressful and time-consuming process.

The most effective way to evolve a historically manual process and increase the speed and accuracy of payroll planning is through data. By taking advantage of analytics, you can create timely, reliable payroll plans to put employee and business insight into action.  You can benefit from faster processes and a uniform view of the data and simplify analytical processes, that HR employees might not be able to execute.

Accurate sales forecasting with planning analytics

Sales is another department of an organisation that can greatly benefit from planning analytics. For most organisations, sales planning and forecasting is their life-blood – as it directs the efforts of each department and helps define the overall strategy. Therefore, it is crucial to set realistic and accurate targets based on existing data.

With agile planning and analytics, businesses today can forecast sales volumes and adjust cost and price centrally to see the bottom line impact of the Sales department. More than in any other part of the organisation, this is the ideal area to take advantage of seasonality forecasting, what if scenario modelling and phasing. This will result in successfully steering sales activities, maintaining margins and delivering value, both to the client and the business.

Asset Management simplified through planning analytics

Often the biggest hurdle that companies face when managing their assets is the volume of data that needs to be collected, analysed and maintained. Increasing cost pressure, complex structures in supply chains and rising risks due to complex procurement mechanisms are just part of the challenge for modern businesses.

Effective and flexible networking of data is crucial in order to make fast and accurate decisions. With advanced planning and analytics, organisations can apply profiles to the assets to plan for depreciation and asset control.

At Logicalis, we have a holistic approach to planning analytics, moving beyond finance and helping you take data-driven decisions for the entire business.

Talk to our team of experts and discover how to make start your planning journey.


digital transformation

Tim Wadey
March 19, 2018

What is your approach to Digital Transformation and is your business structured for it?


All modern companies are looking at digital transformation, and the key decision they need to make is whether to “become digital” or to “do digital”. “Becoming digital” is deciding to turn the whole business or business unit digital, re-engineering from the ground up to take full advantage of the benefits of technology across the value chain. “Doing digital” implies taking specific processes, maybe a customer interaction or a B2B transaction process, and making it digital. Depending on which of these options a business chooses to take, the approach and qualities of the Digital Transformation function will change.

Digital transformation has grown as a concept over the last few years, but in general, is taken to mean building additional business benefit on the data and data processes that a business owns. This can mean finding efficiencies through process improvement and automation, new opportunities buried within the value of corporate data or new digital routes to market. A full transformation embraces all of these and more; the emergence of a connected environment, now known as IoT, is opening new opportunities with every technological development.

Becoming Digital: starts with a solid digital business culture

If a business has chosen to “become digital”, the leadership team needs to embrace the objective and fully support the change initiative. That said, the scale of investment and impact of the programme means that a single point of oversight is essential. In some businesses this might fall to a CIO, in others a Chief Digital Officer, however, these leaders will need support from a team with excellent project and technical skills. In addition, the cultural change will require consideration throughout the process. Probably the most critical attributes that the transformation leaders will need to have are a clear vision of what digital looks like, the skills to understand how it will be delivered and, most importantly, the drive to sustain a multi-year transformational programme.

In many ways, the Digital Transformation Officer will have to lead the senior team through this programme, and these qualities combined with the soft skills to enable this leadership will eventually determine the success of the programme. This role is well suited to an interventional style – enabling the business to focus on BAU while the digital programme is delivered in a defined manner. There have been well-publicised initiatives similar to this in major UK retail banks and across industries, like the airlines, where all aspects of customer interaction have become fully digital.

Doing Digital: requires greater focus on technical skills

Alternatively, if the choice is to “do digital”, the transformation challenge is much more bounded. In this case, the challenge is more to do with having the technical understanding and project management skills to deliver tightly defined digital projects. While these transform the particular process involved, they do not require wholesale change across the business. For most organisations, this will be the chosen option as there is less risk and disruption in such an iterative approach. We are seeing programs like this often linked to IoT initiatives across our customer base.

Clearly the CEO will take a close interest in any of these initiatives, however with the choice to “become digital” he or she is betting the company and as such will want the transformation leadership to be part of his senior team and empowered to drive the vision to a conclusion. In choosing to “do digital”, the CEO contains the risk to particular areas and should use his management team to direct these initiatives through a skilled and technically able programme manager. Whatever the approach, there will be a material cost and the benefits realisation after go-live needs to be driven and measured with similar control and vigour.

No matter what direction you choose to take, speak to one of our experts to help you through your digital transformation journey.

professional meeting

Natalie Goodwin
February 20, 2018

Digital Workplace is not a one size fits all approach

“Workplace of the Future’’, “Digital Workplace” and ‘‘Future Digital Employee Experience” are definitely the latest buzz phrases in the HR world! Today we work anywhere at almost any time. We work in cafeterias, airport waiting areas, cars, with mobile devices, desktops, laptops, tablets, and the list goes on.

Delivering a great digital workplace in today’s business environment is tricky and one of the most important things a business can achieve – not to add the support of simultaneous communication across different devices and regardless of geo location.

Nonetheless, not many businesses have identified the appropriate tools and processes to create an effective and user-friendly modern workplace. If one takes into consideration the diverse and geographically scattered organisations, it is easy to understand why businesses should have a tailored approach, focusing on retaining talent, ensuring employee wellbeing and engagement, which are all greatly supported by the collaboration tools employees are given.

Digital Workplace in 2018 is all about Engagement, Experience, and Empowerment

Increasing Employee Engagement
Engagement means all employees can feel connected and part of the same team, no matter where they are located.

Engaged employees can increase a company’s performance by up to 202%
(Article by -Engage for success, the importance of employee engagement, Aug 2016).

With advances in technology, from software defined WAN to tailored applications, co-workers are able to stay in constant communication and feel a part of the team, whenever they are based. The easy to use, natural interfaces of UC application tools today allow employers to maximise adoption and bring measurable engagement through the built-in analytics capabilities.

Elevating Employee Experience
Gen X, Gen Y and now Gen Z talent represents a massive shift towards a more collaborative, connected and faster paced workplace, in which self-expression is encouraged, and autonomy, recognition and global awareness are core terms of employment.

The changing dynamic of a digital savvy workforce means organisations must address and tap into analytics and consider harnessing ‘as a service’ delivery models to raise the bar on talent acquisition, as well as to offer employees a productive, engaging and enjoyable work experience.

A recent study Deloitte completed with Facebook found that only 14 percent of companies believe their internal processes for collaboration and decision making are working well, and 77 percent believe email is no longer a viable tool for effective communication.

A great example of this is organisations starting to redesign their recruitment experience to resemble the consumer experience on e-commerce and social media platforms. They have examined how people search for common items, such as cars, music or major purchase and are now looking to weave that into their online recruitment campaign.

Digital Workspace Employee Empowerment
Employees feel trusted when they are given the power to work when and where they want. When non-desk workers feel included and part of the team, they’re more productive. Every business wants empowered employees, because they have been shown to be more satisfied in their roles, and thus more productive. Investing in your business’s digital workspace and enhancing your employees work experience is one way to make that happen.

Most organisations today are likely to have a ‘digital workspace’ of some sort, and it will only grow in the years to come. Competitive advantage increasingly comes from providing the right set of collaborative tools letting employees use technology in the way they want to and a business culture that puts people first.

Exclusive roundtable: The Future of Work in 2018
Join us and Fuze on March 21st at the Sky Garden for an exclusive roundtable dinner to discuss the future of work in 2018. In this session we will look into how employees’ demands create a complex environment for IT leaders, but on the same time are an opportunity to drive innovation and bolster productivity.

In particular, we will go through:
– The role of technology as the enabler of the future of work
– How to increase user adoption as well as workforce mobility and productivity
– How to reduce application sprawl and shadow IT

So bring your questions to the table and let’s see how we can help you get ahead of the changing working landscape.

Category: Collaboration

series of padlocks on brick wall, data privacy related words on the rights side

Tim Wadey
January 28, 2018

Data Privacy on the spotlight!

Data Privacy Day may not be an official holiday for your IT department, but it definitely should remind you that you need to focus and do more to protect confidential data.

The Data Privacy Day was first introduced in 2009 by the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) in response to the increasing number of cybersecurity attacks and data privacy breaches, emphasising the need for effective data protection regulations and transparent processes for collecting and using personally identifiable information (PII).

Examples of PII that fall under data protection regulations are:
• Name;
• Social Security number, full and truncated;
• Driver’s license and other government identification numbers;
• Citizenship, legal status, gender, race/ethnicity;
• Birth date, place of birth;
• Biometrics;
• Home and personal cell telephone numbers;
• Personal email address, mailing and home address;
• Security clearance;
• Financial information, medical information, disability information;
• Law enforcement information, employment information, educational information

If one considers the sources that PII can be collected from and how many new are added on a daily basis – big data, the internet of things, wearable technology – it is easy to understand why data privacy has become increasingly challenging. And let’s not forget the ransomware attacks, which are the latest major data privacy challenge.

Despite the size of the recent ransomware attacks, the majority of organisations still don’t have structured processes in place to prepare themselves and keep confidential data safe. Although there are effective steps for protection against ransomware threats, their number has significantly increased and companies delay to announce in fear of negative publicity.

In order to stop such actions from happening and improve the current data privacy practices, the European Union is introducing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect in May 2018. This is the biggest shake up of data protection laws in the last 20 years.

What is GDPR?

GDPR is the latest set of regulation law framework across the EU that aims to increase data privacy for individuals, and gives regulatory authorities greater power to take action against businesses that breach the new data privacy laws. GDPR also introduces rules relating to the free movement of personal data within and outside the EU.
In particular, GDPR involves:
• Obtaining consent for processing personal data must be clear and must seek an affirmative response.

• Data subjects have the right to be forgotten and erased from records.

• Users may request a copy of personal data in a profile format.

• Parental consent is required for the processing of personal data of children under the age of 16.

As a result, organisations need to be extremely aware of these changes as they can face very strict fines in the cases of non-compliance. Can your organisation afford to be fined up to £20 million for failing this data privacy regulation or 4% of annual global revenue, as required by the new General Data Protection Regulation?


24% are unaware of the incoming data protection legislation, while one in three companies believe that GDPR isn’t relevant to them.*

Get Started with a GDPR Readiness Assessment

In response to the fast approaching data protection regulation, Logicalis UK Advisory Services team have developed a GDPR Readiness Assessment that will allow us to help you understand and frame your thoughts on your journey to compliance.

The Logicalis GDPR Readiness Assessment will help you answer a key question – Where am I on my journey to data privacy compliance, today? By investigating elements of your organisational landscape, we will produce an ‘as is’ assessment, where we will be able to gauge where you are on a standardised maturity curve, considering all things around cybersecurity and data protection.

Get in touch with our Advisory Services to discuss how we can help you in your journey to GDPR Readiness.



*London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 

man working with servers, IT gear

Dean Mitchell
January 18, 2018

In the previous blog post on Capacity Management, we explored why IT projects fail and what you can do to prevent it.  What is even more important is to understand why, when it comes to securing your business, product alone isn’t the answer.

 Ransomware, data breaches, insider threats, phishing scams… we’ve all seen the headlines. And, although these words, once reserved for IT departments, are becoming a part of everyday vocabulary, that doesn’t make them any less concerning. They have the power to derail your entire business- everything that you’ve built- within seconds.

Nowadays, cybercrime is big business, and you can guarantee that for every security solution churned out by vendors, someone, somewhere is creating a brand new malicious code to target other vulnerabilities you didn’t even know existed within your organisation. Add to that modern working habits, with more and more businesses needing to adopt cloud and IoT for day-to-day operations, to keep up with their competitors, but subsequently increasing the potential attack surface, and you soon see that organisations are under siege from all angles.

To state the obvious; cybersecurity is no longer optional.

And this is something that all CIOs are more than aware of. In fact, in our 2017 global CIO Survey, security was cited as the number one concern when it came to an increase in the use of cloud services, with 70% of respondents citing it as a challenge.

So the problem is common knowledge, but what’s the solution?

Well, if your automatic answer is ‘by investing in security products’, then you’re not alone. Many business leaders define ‘security strategy’ as lots of different solutions coming together to work as one protective shield. Each solution is built to defend against a single threat vector, so various email, cloud and web products all become separate pieces of a much larger security puzzle.

Given the sheer volume of security products readily available, it’s no surprise that this puzzle doesn’t come cheap and that certain pieces aren’t as effective as others. But, surely the more products you deploy- effective or otherwise- the more significant your overall security capabilities and the better the protection for your organisation. After all, it’s better to be safe, and slightly out of pocket, than sorry… right?

 It’s an easy trap to fall into.

In reality, a growing number of point solutions patched together is no longer an effective strategy. Instead, this method compounds complexity and creates the very vulnerabilities that it is meant to be mitigating against.

This is because security devices raise an alert for each threat that they detect- that’s how they work. And when you have multiple tools in place, each detecting multiple threats, the chances are that alerts will be going off almost constantly. This is fine; it shows that the solutions are working.

But, it’s unlikely that a single organisation will have the manpower needed to deal with each alert simultaneously. Instead, overwhelmed and underresourced IT teams will probably try to prioritise and as a result many of the alerts, and therefore threats, are ignored, making your organisation vulnerable.

So, when it comes to protecting your business, spending thousands and thousands of pounds worth of your budget on product alone is futile. It’s clear that the ‘best of breed approach’ has had its day, with an increasing number of organisations coming to the realisation that it’s not about how many solutions you have in place, it’s about how you’re using them.

 A problem shared is a problem halved

To simplify things, you can strip your security strategy back to three key areas that all need to be done well; threat insight, vulnerability management and managed endpoint security.

Then, you need to make sure that the solutions you have within these areas are being used correctly. The easiest way to do this, and to make the most out of your resources, is to undertake a collaborative approach.

Take the heat off your own IT team and share the security burden with a partner who can help you to plug the gaps with managed solutions like:

–       Managed SIEM/SIRM- A Security Incident Event Management service working in conjunction with a Security Incident Response Management service will provide optimal threat insights. It will solve the biggest and longest headache for your internal IT team- the one that began when you started installing security solutions… External engineering teams will analyse and, effectively, filter the never-ending stream of alerts so that, before they even reach your team, they are prioritised in terms of risk to your business and have clear actions on how to stop them in their tracks.

–       Patch management- By combining patch management services with existing vulnerability scanning in a single service you can achieve optimal vulnerability management. Believe it or not, this service will fill any gaps in your security wall automatically. This is because networks will be regularly scanned for vulnerabilities with any intel gathered then being rolled into a patching program. Obviously, this will significantly reduce the time between when a vulnerability is identified and when it is patched.

 –       Security device management- This incorporates all endpoint security, including antivirus solutions, firewalls and device control, as a single managed service. Delivered via software on laptops, desktops and servers, the service can also detect rogue devices attaching to the network and provide web filtering.

The bottom line is that cybersecurity is not about product. It’s about people, processes and technology working coherently to manage risk and protect your organisation. Often, working collaboratively with providers who can manage your security can be the better option. They will have the resourcing and the skillset to help you deal with any potential threats, while offering more peace of mind.

Today, a third of CIOs see security as the most prominent barrier towards digital transformation. Outsourcing can change that by granting your internal IT teams the gift of time… time that can be used to pursue other areas of your business’ IT strategy.

Talk to us to find out how we can help you.


Originally posted on CBR, 21 November 2017


Category: Security

Alastair Broom
December 13, 2017

Ransomware is a hot topic at the moment and the “attack du jour” for cybercriminals.   The code is easy to obtain and campaigns simple to execute thanks to the industrialised infrastructure that supports it.  The result – a rapidly growing market that is already estimated to be worth in excess of $1 billion.

Criminal gangs provide “ransomware as a service” with everything from code provision through to the monetisation of the attack making it easy to both execute and profit from.  Other types of cyber-attacks may involve complex, time-consuming or risky steps for the criminals but ransomware profits are immediate, usually via Bitcoin payment into the criminal’s wallet.

The traditional approach to cyber security has been to deploy more and more technology to protect against the evolving threat.  This has led to uncontrolled technology sprawl creating a security management nightmare.  Throwing more technology at the problem implies more resources to manage the estate and security resources are hard to come by.  According to research by the recruitment company

Despite the increased level of sophistication and frequency of ransomware attacks, by following the steps described below, organisations can significantly reduce their risk.

Step 1: Security Awareness Training

Although technology plays an important part, the majority of malware and ransomware attacks involve a user doing something they shouldn’t, such as clicking on a malicious web link, opening an email attachment or installing a new application.  Usually this is due to a lack of understanding of the security risks associated with such actions.  Phishing, a form of social engineering is a common technique used to get ransomware inside an organisation, effectively duping users into downloading malicious code or otherwise opening up the organisation’s network to cyber-attack.

Many organisations provide basic security training as part of company induction or as one-off exercises to address audit requirements.  However, security training should be a regular part of users’ development and regularly updated.   Training should be delivered at a pace and frequency that fits in with the employees’ work schedules with progress monitored and tested for effectiveness as part of the program.  Security awareness is a critical part of any organisation’s security program and is fundamental to several security frameworks such as the UK National Cyber Security Centre’s “10 Steps to Cyber Security” program

Step 2:  Vulnerability Management

Most malware infections, including ransomware, compromise our systems due to vulnerabilities in the operating systems and applications.  All too often, these vulnerabilities remain unpatched for months or even years allowing criminals to exploit the same flaws time and time again.

In 2015, of exploited vulnerabilities have had a patch for more than one year and it doesn’t look as though that’s changing.  In addition, IBM research shows that when new vulnerabilities are discovered, the average time taken for hackers to exploit them has decreased from 45 days ten years ago to 15 days today.

Effective vulnerability management is critical in ensuring that existing vulnerabilities are dealt with and new ones are patched quickly before they can be are exploited.

Step 3:  Web Protection

Almost all ransomware is delivered across the web.  Regardless of whether the initial infection is via email or a malicious/compromised web site, the malware will normally attempt to contact a remote server to download additional software such as exploit kits or encryption software.  Web security solutions can be used to detect this suspicious activity, preventing the dangerous malware payloads from being downloaded – even if the initial infection is successful.  Modern web security solutions make use of advanced threat intelligence to identify malicious domains and web servers and prevent the malware from receiving its instructions.

Step 4:  Endpoint Protection

Ransomware infection inevitably happens at the endpoint.  Typically, a laptop, PC or server will be compromised and used to propagate the malware throughout the network.  Traditional signature-base anti-malware solutions are largely ineffective against modern malware due to rapidly changing code and the time taken by security vendors to identify new malware variants and create and distribute signatures.  Behaviour-based endpoint protection is much more effective in dealing with modern malware as it will identify malicious behaviour such as file substitution and registry changes rather than looking for a specific malware fingerprint in an ever increasing signature database.

Step 5:  Security Analytics

Steps 1 to 4 above will provide an effective defence against ransomware and malware in general.  However, it is impractical to expect your systems never to be breached so it is imperative that you have visibility into the activity in your environment and the ability to identify breaches and react when they occur.  This visibility and identification is provided by a Security Incident & Event Management (SIEM) platform.  This software will ingest logs from your security infrastructure, servers, routers etc. and search for suspicious activity that could signal a breach.  SIEM provides a “single pane of glass” view into disparate technology overcoming many of the problems associated with the technology sprawl mentioned earlier and enabling security events to identified so they can be dealt with quickly.

Ransomware is a plague that threatens the availability of the data we rely on for our businesses to operate.  If successful, ransomware attacks can bring organisations to their knees and result in substantial financial loss in ransom payments, system restoration, clean-up and the growing impact of regulatory fines. Following these 5 steps will significantly reduce the risk of ransomware attacks.   Logicalis can help you with solutions to address each of these steps helping you navigate to a more secure environment.  For more details, please feel free to contact us.

Category: Security

Dean Mitchell
December 5, 2017

Whether part of a large, international enterprise, a medium-sized organisation or a small startup, in this day and age, undertaking new IT projects is essential.

Businesses need to adopt new technologies in order to get all the benefits associated with new, innovative IT projects. However, it’s more than that… In our fast-moving digitally-competitive world, if you don’t adapt, you get left behind.For all organisations, it really is survival of the fittest, and the fittest are those who embrace new technologies and invest in new innovative IT projects. Think about it- how can you stand up to your competitors if they’re constantly three digital steps ahead?

Undertaking new innovative IT projects has become the key focus of CIOs everywhere. You can spend weeks, even months pushing a project through the planning stages; going over the specific schedule and timings, working out the breakdown and total costings and redefining the objectives. But what happens if it then falls down?

Failure isn’t something that anyone wants to experience. When you’re a CIO who’s spent huge amounts of time and energy working on getting a proposed project through all the usual barriers to implementation, failure can be even more difficult to accept. And, obviously taking the size of your organisation into consideration, the larger the project, the larger, and more expensive the problem, if it does fail.

A recent global study from Fujitsu found that on average organisations lose £483,690 for every cancelled digital project. That’s a lot of money for a single project, especially for an outcome that could have potentially been avoided.

Why do IT projects fail?

Well, it all comes back to resourcing. When times get tough, CIOs have to throw their efforts into ‘keeping the lights on’, rather than implementing the exciting and innovative new projects that are designed to give their organisations the upper hand against competitors.

Often this will mean that they are working with limited resources from the offset, when it comes to new IT projects and to try and combat this, projects will be run in series, rather than parallel.

However, the fact is that, a lot of the time, various projects rely on the same elements or components. Each project will have a benefit realisation target, which will be recognised upon completion.

If there is a slippage during the implementation of the first project in the series, then the benefit realisation target is not met on time. This then has a knock-on effect; it results in resources being tied up for longer than initially planned which, in turn, affects all the other projects in the series. How can you start a new project when all your assets are tied up somewhere else? Simply put: you can’t, and this is what leads to stalled, and even failed, projects.

But why are resources so far and few between?

Interestingly, a recent independent survey discovered that 22% of CIO’s see a lack of skills as the biggest barrier to achieving their objectives. This came ahead of money, culture, alignment and even technology.

So, even if you have the correct amount of solutions and technologies in place to complete a project, often it’s the human skills needed to implement them that are tied up; stalling projects and leading to their failure.

Why? Well, both the business landscape and our working habits have changed dramatically over the last decade or so. Whereas previous generations might have secured a job in their 20s and stayed with the same company until retirement, now it’s more common to change jobs every 2 or 3 years. And when people leave, they take their specialist in-house knowledge and their skillset with them, creating a lag or gap.

Add to this the fact that technology is constantly changing at an ever-increasing speed and the problem only becomes more exacerbated. In order to keep up, often employees are more focused on, and therefore more skilled in, one sort of technology or in one area.

However, this means that when they leave the company, their absence is strongly felt. The cyber security skills gap is something that everyone has heard of; it’s well documented. But, the truth is that this skills gap is IT industry-wide.

In fact, according to figures released by Indeed in October, since 2014 demand for software developers and machine learning engineers has increased by 485% in the UK, with there now being an average of 2.3 jobs available for every qualified candidate. It’s no wonder that many organisations are feeling the pinch on the skills front!

All in all, resources are tight. There is very little wiggle-room- especially when it comes to human expertise and technical talent.

You need to focus on keeping business operations running as usual before you even start thinking about additional projects. But you need these additional projects in order to avoid falling behind your competitors in the innovation stakes. And with the speed that technology is changing, you ideally need to be undertaking multiple new innovative projects simultaneously.

So what can be done?

Simply put, there just are not enough resources to do everything.

Or are there?…

It’s true, you can’t just pull extra time and technical know-how out of thin air, or magically create an immediately accessible pool of skills where there isn’t one. It’s clear that, this time, the answers aren’t going to be found within your organisation- so why not look somewhere else?

Talk to us to help you with all the extra resources you need to invest in innovation while ‘keeping the lights on.’ It no longer has to be a dreaded choice, with the need to keep the business running as usual, stifling any form of innovation. Instead, by collaborating, you can have it all.


Originally posted on Information Age, 14 November 2017

Mark Rogers
November 21, 2017

Mark Rogers, CEO Logicalis Group, digs into the Logicalis Global CIO Survey 2017-2018 to pick out some of the major topics arising from the survey of 890 CIOs in 23 countries.

The big themes emerging from this years survey break CIO priorities down across three areas that could be mistaken for business as usual: Simplify, secure and engage. But, on the contrary, each has its part to play in a much loftier goal – digital transformation.

Indeed, the headline from the 2017-18 survey is this: CIOs say a massive infrastructure overhaul must be coupled with culture change if organisations are to unlock the benefits of digital transformation.

Digital ambition versus digital reality

That headline finding stems from CIOs’ assessment of their organisations’ digital footing.

The survey tells a story of real digital ambition amongst CIOs, but of limited progress in delivering digital transformation. To use tech adoption bell curve terminology, only 5% of respondents call their organisations digital innovators right now, while 49% characterise their organisations as part of an early majority.

That’s not a significant change on last years’ figures – and the reality is most CIOs see their organisations as partly digitally enabled at best.

Crucially, however, they contextualise those rather cautious views with a realistic and pragmatic assessment of the barriers to digital transformation – and it is their ambitious plans to overcome those barriers that give rise to the ‘simplify, secure, and engage’ triptych:


For almost half (44%) of respondents to this year’s CIO survey, complex legacy technology is the chief barrier to digital transformation.

In simple terms, the job of maintaining and managing those complex environments – in the face of ever more draconian security threats, and business demand for ever more open architecture – is huge. So, legacy complexity doesn’t just slow down or prevent digital projects, it also prevents a refocus on higher level, strategy activity, like digital transformation.

That is clearly not lost on CIOs, who understand very well the urgent need to simplify existing systems – indeed, 51% said they planned to adapt or replace existing infrastructure as a means of accelerating digital transformation.

It’s not hard to envisage CIOs making greater use of cloud services and third party support as a means of both simplifying those systems and handing off some of the management burden associated with them.


It’s no great surprise to see security high on the CIO agenda given the nature of the cyber threat landscape – and no great surprise either to see ransomware top of the threat list for CIOs. Ransomware [] is the biggest threat according to 71% of CIOs surveyed.

More surprising though, is the fact that one in three CIOs admit security concerns have led to the curtailment or cancellation of IT projects – a fact that must surely amplify the impact of security issues on digital transformation.

With that in mind, it is small wonder that so many CIOs (31%) see increased security investment as crucial to digital transformation – and not just to weathering the next cyber threat storm.

I’m in little doubt that CIOs’ security focus will drive an increased demand for services like Cisco Umbrella [Link] as organisations adopt multi-layered security solutions capable of defending against an ever-evolving array of cyber threats.


Perhaps most interesting, CIOs see organisational culture as a key barrier to digital transformation. That is, legacy technology brings with it a legacy relationship between business and technology, a ‘separateness’ that is incompatible with a digital model that puts technology at the heart of every aspect of the business.

In response, CIOs want to engage with line of business (LOB) to drive culture change. They want to be the digital ambassadors who create a new relationship between business and technology, and who foster an environment in which digital transformation can thrive.

Analytics offers a case in point. Back in 2015, 63% of CIOs ranked analytics as ‘very important’ or ‘critical’ to driving business innovation.

Two years later the same barriers to delivering those benefits remain complex systems and siloed data, but so is business engagement – the lack of a clear brief from the business as to what is required from analytics is still an issue for 41% of CIOs.

Crucially, though, they are responding: 54% of CIOs are working with LOB colleagues to bottom out requirements and 38% are setting up working groups to unravel complexity.

Those plans to tackle analytics suggest that CIOs are successfully adapting to a changing environment for business IT, an issue we first highlighted in 2015. []. The big question is whether they will be successful in replicating the approach as they seek to unlock the benefits of wider digital transformation.

In my view, the CIOs that are successful in tackling these three big issues will be those looking outside for help. The majority still spend between 60% and 80% of their time on day to day IT management – an issue that, in itself, is a barrier to change.

That’s partly because so much IT remains in-house. Only 25% outsource 50% or more of their IT – a situation that must surely change quickly if CIOs are to free themselves from the everyday and be digital change makers, not change managers.

Read the full Logicalis Global CIO Survey 2017-2018 here.

Justin Price
November 8, 2017

Year by year we are generating increasingly large volumes of data which require more complex and powerful tools to analyse in order to produce meaningful insights.

What is machine learning?

Anticipating the need for more efficient ways of spotting patterns in large datasets on mass, Machine Learning was developed to give computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.

Today, it largely remains a human-supervised process, at least in the developmental stage. This consists of monitoring a computer’s progress as it works through a number of “observations” in a data set arranged to help train the computer into spotting patterns between attributes as quickly and efficiently as possible. Once the computer has started to build a model to represent the patterns identified, the computer then goes through a looping process, seeking to develop a better model with each iteration.

How is it useful?

The aim of this is to allow computers to learn for themselves, knowing when to anticipate fluctuation between variables which then helps us to forecast what may happen in future. With a computer model trained on a specific data problem or relationship, it then allows data professions to produce reliable decisions and results, leading to the discovering of new insights which would have remained hidden without this new analytical technique.

Real-world Examples

Think this sounds like rocket science? Every time you’ve bought something from an online shop and had recommendations based on your purchase – that’s based on machine learning. Over thousands of purchases the website has been able to aggregate the data and spot correlations based on real buying users’ buying patterns, and then present the most relevant patterns back to you based on what you did or bought. You may see these as “recommended for you” or “this was frequently bought with that”. Amazon and Ebay have been doing this for years, and more recently, Netflix.

This sounds fantastic – but where can this help us going forward?

Deep learning

This is distinguished from other data science practices by the use of deep neural networks. This means that the data models pass through networks of nodes, in a structure which mimics the human brain. Structures like this are able to adapt to the data they are processing, in order to execute in the most efficient manner.

Using these leading techniques, some of the examples now look ready to have profound impacts on how we live and interact with each other.We are currently looking at the imminent launch of commercially available real-time language translation which requires a speed of analysis and processing never available before. Similar innovations have evolved in handwriting-to-text conversion with “smartpads” such as the Bamboo Spark, which bridge the gap between technology and traditional note taking.

Other applications mimic the human components of understanding; classify, recognise, detect and describe (according to This has now entered main-stream use with anti-spam measures on website contact forms, where the software knows which squares contain images of cars, or street signs.

Particularly within the healthcare industry, huge leaps are made where scanned images of CT scans have been “taught” how to spot the early sign of lung cancer in Szechwan People’s Hospital, China. This has come in to meet a great need as there is a shortage of trained radiologists to examine patients.

In summary, there have been huge leaps in data analysis and science in the last couple years. The future looks bright for the wider range of real world issues to which we can apply more and more sophisticated techniques and tackle previously impossible challenges. Get in touch and let’s see what we can do for you.

Category: Analytics, Automation

Dean Mitchell
October 24, 2017

Overspending on resources?

We can all agree, it’s nothing new. In fact, it’s an issue faced by business leaders almost every day. In our increasingly digital world, overspending on technical resources, alongside the human resources (or skills) to back them up, is common.

If you view over-provisioning as a necessary evil, you’re not alone. A recent independent study discovered that 90% of CIOs feel the same way, with the majority only using about half of the cloud capacity that they’ve paid for.

But, why pay for resources that you’re not going to use?

Well, it’s no secret that over provisioning on IT resources is better than the alternative. Understandably, you’d rather pay above-the-odds for ‘too many’ functional digital systems, than risk the outages associated with ‘too few’. A 2015 study by Populus discovered that almost a third of all outages on critical systems are still capacity related, proving that over provisioning is not the only problem here.

It can seem as if organisations are stuck between a rock and a hard place: do you spend thousands and thousands of pounds from your (already) tight budget and over provision, or do you make an upfront saving and risk becoming one of the 29% of companies experiencing business disruption, downtime or worse when the demand on your services exceeds the resources you have in place? How do you optimise costs without risking future, potentially devastating, strain on your resources?

Enter IT Capacity Management…

In a nutshell, IT Capacity Management gives you a snapshot view of all your business resources against the demands placed upon them. This enables you to ‘right-size’ your resources and ensure that you can meet current requirements without over provisioning and over spending.

The level of demand placed upon business resources is constantly fluctuating. That’s why Capacity Management models should run alongside your current operations as part of your ongoing business strategy. It’s one way to be proactive when it comes to resourcing.

However, it doesn’t stop there… Capacity Management also enables you to prepare your business for the future. It continually measures the performance and levels of use of your resources in order to make predictions, which will enable you to prepare for any future changes in terms of demand.

What can Capacity Management do for your business?

There are a number of benefits to having IT Capacity Management included in your company strategy. It gives you visibility of your entire IT infrastructure, including all physical, virtual and cloud environments. The importance of this should not be underestimated; it can enable you to:

● Optimise costs. It’s simple- if you have a clear view of all your resources, you can see where they’re not required, which means that you won’t feel the need to purchase them “just in case”. Capacity Management can be seen as a long-term investment- especially given its ability to predict future trends based on current performance.
● Easily adjust IT resources to meet service demands. With the ability to see exactly which of your services are being placed under the highest amount of pressure in terms of demand, you’ll be able to adjust your business plan accordingly to relieve some of that pressure- allowing you to even out the playing field by ensuring that one service area isn’t being drained whilst others are idle. You’ll be able to add, remove or adjust compute, storage, network and other IT resources as and when they are needed.
● Deploy applications on time. You’ll be able to reserve IT resources to be used for new applications when needed, resulting in a faster time to deployment.
● Reduced time and human resources spend. Imagine the hours being spent by your employees to plan and calculate capacity usage and availability. By implementing a real, ongoing plan which can run in the background, you free up more time for your employees to pursue higher value tasks.

Capacity Management solves the age-old problem of optimising costs for today’s CIOs. While this has always been a priority for organisations, our new digital landscape has redefined its meaning and its importance. Working habits and IT business structures have evolved to include mobile working, shadow IT, unimaginable amounts of data and complex technological advancements that need a certain skillset to deploy. Therefore, it is impossible to view everything simultaneously and manage all resources accordingly, unless you deploy the correct tools and have the right strategy in place.

Capacity Management should be a key element of any business strategy. It’s a model built for your business’ resourcing needs, both today and in the future.

If you’d like to find out more about the Capacity Management and Cost Optimisation services that Logicalis provides then, contact us today.


Originally posted on Information Age, 18 October 2017.

Sara Sherwani
September 27, 2017

Throughout history, I don’t believe we’ve ever seen as much change as we do in the world of Technology! Just to think that in 10 years’ time we’ ve had more iPhone releases than Henry VIII had wives.

Taking a page out of some of tech giants books, be it Apple to Salesforce, it’s clear that innovation is at the centre of what enables the industry to move at the pace it does. It would be fair to say that 3 major trends currently dominate the industry:

1.Service, service, service – Many big players in the hardware product space recognise hardware is fast becoming a vanilla commodity. You’ve got a number of vendors such as Cisco, Oracle, Ericsson, Nokia, HP scrambling very quickly over a number of years to enable value added services on top of the hardware to increase margins.

 “Services are enabled by the specific knowledge, skills and experience you bring to the table which often drives business value through improved margins.”

Sometimes when I think about how you can build your brand of service that you deliver to customers, I like to compare it to food (one of my favourite subjects).

What keeps you going back to your favourite restaurant? Let’s take for instance McDonalds. It could be the quality of the food, but ultimately you KNOW you will get a fast, efficient service and a smile when they ask ‘would you like fries with that?’. The point being, it’s the trusted customer experience that underpins successful services, remember this bit – I’m going to allude to this part later on.

2.Business process design driven by cost reduction, optimization and automation – Ultimately, we use technology to enable us to make our lives simpler. Traditional IT has become so entrenched in complexity and with that has come high cost. Many businesses of all sizes are certainly looking at their balance sheets with scrutiny and seeking to utilize the benefits of IT innovation to gain a competitive advantage. The principles of globalisation, business process optimization and automation are all relevant now as we transform traditional IT to achieve the ultimate goal of simplicity.

3.Data driven customer experience being an investment for the future – Products in the world of data analytics are booming as businesses recognise the power of data in enabling intelligent business decisions. Some proven examples of boosting business value are how Telcos are using customer location data to pinpoint relevant marketing text messages.

Imagine you’re at the airport, where intelligent systems will pick up your location and send you a text to see if you want to purchase international data plan while you’re away. So instead of sending you random marketing messages, geo-location marketing becomes targeted and relevant. Through this intelligent marketing Telcos have been able to generate 40% more revenue than expected in that portfolio.

Keeping up with the pace of change within the industry can be overwhelming, unless you harness the key themes that I mentioned earlier which will be sure to relate to business value. Contact Logicalis today to learn how you can implement an agile business model and use its benefits to increase your business value.

Andrew Newton
September 8, 2017

Shadow IT is not a new concept, but certainly is a big issue for many organisations today. Companies of all sizes see a significant increase in the use of devices and/or services not within the organisation’s approved IT infrastructure.

A Global CIO Survey  found that IT leaders are under growing pressure from Shadow IT and are gradually losing the battle to retain the balance of power in IT decision-making. The threat from Shadow IT is forcing CIOs to re-align their IT strategy to better serve the needs of their line of business colleagues, and transforming IT to become the first choice for all IT service provision. However Shadow IT continues to apply pressure to many CIO’s and IT leaders who do not have clear visibility of the use of Shadow IT within their organisations and therefore cannot quantify the risks or opportunities.

So is Shadow IT a threat to your organisation or does it improve productivity and drive innovation?

Based on Gartner’s report, Shadow IT will account for a third of the cyber-attacks experienced by enterprises by the time we reach 2020. However, some customers have told us:

  • “Shadow IT is an opportunity for us to test devices or services before we go to IT for approval,”
  • Shadow IT allows us to be Agile and use services that IT don’t provide so we can work more effectively

One of the most important aspects of Shadow IT is of course the cost. What are the costs to the business from the hidden costs of a security breach, potential loss of data and for those with regulatory compliance requirements, the possibility of large fines and loss of reputation in their respective markets?

With an ever changing and expanding IT landscape and new regulations  such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect in May 2018, managing and controlling data whilst ensuring complete data security should be top of the priority list. Therefore understanding the key challenges of Shadow IT is fundamental in order to manage it effectively.

Shadow IT – The Key Challenges:

    • Identifying the use of Shadow IT
      Arguably the biggest challenge with Shadow IT is visibility within the organisation. How can IT leaders see who is using or consuming what and for what purpose? If you can’t see or are aware of it, how can you manage it?
    • Costs of Shadow IT
      Controlling costs is impossible for Shadow IT spend if there is no visibility of what is being used. Not just the direct Shadow IT purchases present a challenge but the consequences of a security breach as a result of the use of Shadow IT in fines, reputation damage and future loss of business.
    • Securing the threat to your business
      One of the biggest areas of concern and quite rightly is the security threat to the business from the use of non-approved IT sources.  Not only does this have the potential to add to the organisation’s costs but also could result in the loss of data, again with the potential risk of considerable fines.
    • Managing Shadow IT without stifling innovation
      The wrong approach to managing Shadow IT, such as the “total lock down messaging”  can send signals to the organisation that IT are controlling, inflexible and  unwilling to listen with the possible result of driving Shadow IT under ground and in cases actually increase its use , thus increasing risks and costs.

Shadow IT is a complicated issue, but your response to it doesn’t have to be. Contact us to find out how we can help you manage Shadow IT, be forward thinking and fill the gaps within the current IT infrastructure.

Anis Makeriya
August 21, 2017

It’s always the same scenario: someone giving me some data files that I just want to dive straight into and start exploring ways to visually depict them, but I can’t.

I’d fire up a reporting tool only to step right back, realising that for data to get into visual shapes, they need to be in shape first!  One correlation consistently appearing over the years is that time spent on ETL/ELT (Extract, Transform and Load [in varying sequences]) and the speed of exit from reporting layer back to data prep share a negative correlation.

Data preparation for the win

‘80% of time goes into data prep’ and ‘Garbage in Garbage out (GIGO)’ have existed for some time now but don’t actually hit you until you face it in practical situations and it suddenly translates into ‘backward progress’. Data quality issues can vary from date formats, multiple spellings of the same value to values not existing at all in the form of nulls. So, how can they all be dealt with? Data prep layer is the answer.

Often with complex transformations or large datasets, analysts find themselves turning to IT to perform the ETL process. Thankfully, over the years, vendors have recognised the need to include commonly used transformations in the reporting tools themselves. To name a few, tools such as Tableau and Power BI have successfully passed this power on to the analysts making time to analysis a flash. Features such as pivot, editing aliases, joining and unioning tables and others are available within a few clicks.

There may also be times when multiple data sources need joining, such as matching company names. Whilst Excel and SQL fuzzy look-ups have existed for some time, the likes of dedicated ETL tools such as Paxata have imbedded further intelligence that enable it to go a step further and recognise that the solutions lies beyond just having similar spellings in between the names.

All the tasks mentioned above are for the ‘T’ (Transformation) of ETL and is only the second OR third step in the ETL/ELT process! If data can’t be extracted as part of the E in ETL in the first place, there is nothing to transform. When information lies in disparate silos, often it cannot be ‘merged’ unless the data is migrated or replicated across stores. Following the data explosion in the past decade, Cisco Data Virtualisation has gained traction for its core capability of creating a ‘merged virtual’ layer over multiple data sources enabling quick time to access as well as the added benefits of data quality monitoring and single version of the truth.

These recent capabilities are now even more useful with the rise in data services like Bloomberg/forex and APIs that can return weather info, if we want to further know how people feel about the weather, then the twitter API also works.

Is that it..?

Finally after the extraction and transformation of the data, the load process is all that remains… but even that comes with its own challenges. Load frequencies, load types (incremental vs. full loads) depending on data volumes, data capture (changing dimensions) to give an accurate picture of events and also storage and query speeds from the source to name a few.

Whilst for quick analysis a capable analyst with best practice knowledge will suffice, scalable complex solutions will need the right team from IT and non-IT side in addition to the tools and hardware to support it going forward smoothly. Contact us today to help you build a solid Data Virtualisation process customised to your particular needs.

Alastair Broom
August 9, 2017

It’s common knowledge that there is a global shortage of experienced IT security professionals, right across the spectrum of skills and specialities, and that this shortage is exacerbated by an ongoing lack of cyber security specialists emerging from education systems.

Governments are taking action to address this skills shortage, but it is nevertheless holding back advancement and exposing IT systems and Internet businesses to potential attacks.

Because of this, and despite the fear that other industries may have of Artificial Intelligence (AI) the information security industry should be embracing it and making the most of it. As the connectivity requirements of various different environments become ever more sophisticated, so the number of security information data sources is increasing rapidly, even as potential threats increase in number and complexity. Automation and AI offer powerful new ways of managing security in this brave new world.

At the moment, the focus in AI is on searching and correlating large amounts of information to identify potential threats based on data patterns or user behaviour analytics. These first generation AI-driven security solutions only go so far, though: security engineers are still needed, to validate the identification of threats and to activate remediation processes.

As these first generation solutions become more efficient and effective in detecting threats, they will become the first step towards moving security architectures into genuine auto-remediation.

To explore this, consider a firewall – it allows you to define access lists based on applications, ports or IP addresses. Working as part of a comprehensive security architecture, new AI-driven platforms will use similar access lists, based on a variety of complex and dynamic information sources. The use of such lists will under-gird your auto-remediation policy, which will integrate with other platforms to maintain consistency in the security posture defined.

As we move into this new era in security systems, in which everything comes down to gathering information that can be processed, with security in mind, by AI systems, we will see changes as services adapt to the new capabilities. Such changes will be seen first in Security Operations Centres (SOCs).

Today’s SOCs still rely heavily on security analysts reviewing reports to provide the level of service expected by customers. They will be one of the first environments to adopt AI systems, as they seek to add value to their services and operate as a seamless extension to digital businesses of all kinds.

SOCs are just one example, the security industry will get the most out of AI, but they need to start recognising that machines do best at what people do best. Any use of this technology will enable the creation of new tools and processes in the cybersecurity space that will protect new devices and networks from threats even before a human can classify that threat.

Artificial intelligence techniques such as unsupervised learning and continuous retraining can keep us ahead of the cyber criminals. However, we need to be aware that hackers will be also using these techniques, so here is where the creativity of the Good Guys can focus on thinking about what is coming next and let the machines do their job in learning and continuous protection.

Don’t miss out: to find out more, contact us – we’ll be delighted to help you with emerging technology and use it to your benefit.

Category: Security

Scott Reynolds
July 25, 2017

The amount of data that businesses generate and manage continues to explode. IBM estimates that across the world, 2.3 trillion gigabytes of data are created each day and this will rise to 43 trillion gigabytes by 2020.

From transactions and customer records to email, social media and internal record keeping – today’s businesses create data at rates faster than ever before. And there’s no question that storing and accessing this data presents lots of challenges for business. How to keep up with fast growing storage needs, without fast growing budgets? How to increase storage capacity without increasing complexity? How to access critical data without impacting on the speed of business?

It’s increasingly obvious that traditional storage can’t overcome these challenges. By simply adding more capacity, costs go up for both storage and management. And manually working with data across different systems can become an administrative nightmare – adding complexity, and taking up valuable IT resource.

So, what can you do? It’s likely that you’ve already got an existing infrastructure and for many, scrapping it and starting again, just isn’t an option. This is where flash and software-defined-storage (SDS) could be your saviour. Flash and tape aren’t mutually exclusive, and by separating the software that provides the intelligence from the traditional hardware platform, you gain lots of advantages including flexibility, scalability and improved agility.

So I could add to what I already have?

Yes. Flash and tape aren’t mutually exclusive. Lots of businesses use a mix of the old and the new – what’s important is how you structure it. Think of it like a well-organised wardrobe. You need your everyday staples close at hand, and you store the less frequently worm items, also known in the UK as the summer wardrobe (!), where you can access them if you need them but not in prime position.

Your data could, and should work like this. Use flash for critical workloads that require real-time access and use your older tape storage for lower priority data or lower performance applications.

But won’t it blow my budget?

No, the cost of Flash systems has come down over the last few years and the lower costs to operate make savings over the long term. It’s been proven that the virtualisation of mixed environments can store up to five times more data and that analytics driven hybrid cloud data management reduces costs by up to 73%. In fact, we estimate that with automatic data placement and management across storage systems, media and cloud, it’s possible to reduce costs by up to 90%!

So how do I know what system will work for me?

Well, that’s where we come in. At Logicalis we’ve got over 20 years of experience working with IBM systems. Our experts work with clients to help them scope out a storage solution that meets their needs today, and the needs they’ll have tomorrow.

We start with a Storage Workshop that looks at the existing infrastructure and what you’re hoping to achieve. We’ll look at how your data is currently structured and what changes you could make to improve what you already have – reducing duplication and using the right solution for the right workload. We’ll then work with you to add software and capacity that will protect your business and won’t blow your budget.

If you want to hear more about the solutions on offer, feel free to contact us.

Category: Hybrid IT

Scott Reynolds
July 12, 2017

£170m lost on the London Stock Market just over a week, and untold damage to the “World’s Favourite Airline”. That’s the cost within the UK to the International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways, after BA’s recent ‘Power Outage’ incident.

“It wasn’t an IT failure. It’s not to do with our IT or outsourcing our IT. What happened was in effect a power system failure or loss of electrical power at the data centre. And then that was compounded by an uncontrolled return of power that took out the IT system.” Willie Walsh (IAG Supremo) during a telephone interview with The Times.

Willie has since inferred that the outage was caused by the actions of an engineer who disconnected and then reconnected a power supply to the data centre in “an uncontrolled and un-commanded fashion”. Could this then actually have something to do with the IT outsource after all, and did a staff member go rogue, or was it down to poor training and change control…?

For me what this highlights is the need to place greater emphasis on availability and uptime of those systems that support critical parts of a business or organisations services and offering. Along with robust processes and automation where possible to minimise the impact of an unplanned outage.

All businesses should expect their systems to fail. Sometimes it can be a physical failure of the infrastructure supporting the data centre (Power, UPS’s, Generators, Cooling etc.). It can be the power supply itself. Computing, Storage or the Network equipment can fail. Software and systems can suffer an outage. Plus it can also come down ‘Human Error’ or poor maintenance of core systems or infrastructure.

Coping with a Power Failure

Even if you have two power feeds to your building, and even if they’re from two different power sub-stations, and run through two different street routes, those sub-stations are still part of the same regional and national power grid. If the grid fails, so does your power. No way around it, except to make your own. Power Surge’s are handled by monitoring the power across Cabinet PDU’s, Critical PDU’s, UPS’s, Generators & Transformers, while assigning Maximum Load to all cabinets to make sure that we do not overload our customers systems.

Recovering from a Disaster

Recovering from a disaster is something that all organisation plan for, however not all have a Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan as there are some that consider High Availability (HA) to be more than sufficient. However HA only provides a localised system for failover, whereas DR is designed to cope with a site failure.

The challenge with DR for many of our customers is the cost;

  • First you need to prioritise which applications workloads you want to failover in the event of a disaster.
  • Second you need to purchase and manage infrastructure and licensing for these workloads with continuous replication.
  • Third you need a 2nd location.
  • Fourth you need a robust DR plan that allows you to recover your workloads at the 2nd location.
  • Then lastly (which is considered harder) you’ll need to fail back these services once the primary site has been recovered.

This can be an expensive option, but this is also where things like Cloud DR-as-a-Service can help minimise any expenditure, and the pain associated with owning and managing a DR environment.

Reducing the impact of an outage

Minimising the impact of any form of physical failure should be a priority over recovering from an outage. Workflow Automation can help a business maintain uptime of applications and services. This can be defined as a policy where services can be moved to other systems locally, or all services can be re-provisioned to a DR location or a DR platform in the event of outage caused either by a power issue or human error. Helping a business minimise the risk and the impact of outage.

I’ll let you come to your own conclusions as to whether British Airways should adopt a robust change control, automation or DR policy. Logicalis can assist and provide you with a number of options custom to your particular needs so that you are not the next press headliner.

Richard Simmons
June 20, 2017

I have a confession to make, I love to read. Not just an occasional book on holiday or a few minutes on the brief, or often the not so brief, train journey into and out of London but all the time. Right now has never been a better time for those with a love of reading! The rise of digital media means that not only can you consume it pretty much anywhere at any time but more importantly it is making it easier for more people to share their ideas and experience.

Recently I came across a book called “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations” by Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman., which I not only found fascinating to read but has also helped to shape and change the way I view many of the challenges we are facing both in business but also in our personal lives. The premise of the book is that often he would arrange to meet people for breakfast early in the morning, to do interviews or research stories but occasionally these people would be delayed. These moments, rather than being a source of frustration, became time he actually looked forward to as it allowed him to simply sit and think. And looking at the world, he believed we are living through an age of acceleration due to constant technology evolution, globalisation and climate change. He argues that these combined are the cause for much of the challenges we currently face.

The key point about this acceleration is that it is now reaching a level in which society and people are struggling to adapt. Within the technology world we talk about disruption a lot, a new business or technology arrives that can disrupt a sector or market, the competition struggles to adapt and eventually a status quo is resumed. For example Uber has undoubtedly caused a huge disruption in the world of transport, and governments are currently working through how they can better legislate for this new way of operating. The challenge will be that new legislation can take 5-10 years to agree and implement in which time Uber may well have been replaced by autonomous cars.

So what we are experiencing now is not just disruption but a sense of dislocation, the feeling that no matter how fast we try and change it is never enough. In this environment it will be the people, businesses and societies that are able to learn and adapt the fastest which will be most successful . For business we are constantly shown how being more agile in this digital world can drive efficiency, generate new business models and allow us to succeed but I feel often what is lacking is the guidance on how to get there. We have a wealth of different technology which can support a business but what is right for me? What should I invest in first? And how do I make sure that I maximise the value of that investment?

My experience with many of our customers is that they understand the challenges and also the opportunity, but simply do not have the time to think and plan. When they do have time the amount of choice can be overwhelming and actually daunting. In a small way this is the same challenge I face when looking for new books to read, I can go online but with so much to choose from how will I know what I will enjoy? The opportunity that digital media provides with more authors and contents can actually make finding and choosing something that you think is valuable much harder.

In Logicalis, we understand the business challenges that you face and discuss with you the different technology options that could support you, recommending those that can deliver the biggest value in the shortest time frame. Contact us to find out how we can help you keep up to speed with emerging technology and use it to your benefit.

Alastair Broom
May 16, 2017

What if I told you, that Ransomware, is on its way to becoming a $1 billion annual market ?

Eyebrows raised (or not), it is a matter of fact in 2017 that Ransomware is an extremely lucrative business, evolving in an alarming rate and becoming more sophisticated day by day.

But, the question remains, what is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a malicious software – a form of malware – that either disables a target system or encrypts a user’s files and holds them ‘hostage’ until a ransom is paid. This malware generally operates indiscriminately with the ability to target any operating system, within any organisation. Once the malware has gained a foothold in an organisation, it can spread quickly infecting other systems, even backup systems and therefore can effectively disable an entire organisation. Data is the lifeblood of many organisations and without access to this data, businesses can literally grind to a halt. Attackers demand that the user pay a fee (often in Bitcoins) to decrypt their files and get them back.

On a global scale, more than 40% of ransomware victims pay the ransom, although there is no guarantee that you will actually get your data back and copies of your data will now be in the attacker’s hands. In the UK, 45% of organisations reported that a severe data breach caused systems to be down on average for more than eight hours. This makes it apparent that the cost is not only the ransom itself, but also the significant resources required to restore the systems and data. What is even more alarming, is that in the UK the number of threats and alerts is significantly higher than other countries (Cisco 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report). Outdated systems and equipment are partially to blame, coupled with the belief that line managers are not sufficiently engaged with security. Modern and sophisticated attacks like ransomware require user awareness, effective processes and cutting edge security systems to prevent them from taking your organisation hostage!

How can you protect your company?

As one of the latest threats in cybersecurity, a lot has been written and said around ransomware and potential ways of preventing it. A successful mitigation strategy involving people, process and technology is the best way to minimise the risk of an attack and its impact. Your security program should consider the approach before, during and after an attack takes place giving due consideration to protecting the organisation from attack, detecting Ransomware and other malware attacks and how the organisation should respond following an attack. Given that Ransomware can penetrate organisations in multiple ways, reducing the risk of an infection requires a holistic approach, rather than a single point solution.  It takes seconds to encrypt an entire hard disk and so IT security systems must provide the highest levels of protection, rapid detection and high containment and quarantine capability to limit damage. Paying the ransom should be viewed as an undesirable, unpredictable last resort and every organisation should therefore take effective measures to avoid this scenario.

Could your organisation be a target?

One would imagine that only large corporations would be at risk of a Ransomware attack, but this is far from the truth. Organisations of all industries and sizes report Ransomware attacks which lead to substantial financial loss, data exposure and potential brand damage. The reason is that all businesses rely on the availability of data, such as employee profiles, patents, customer lists, financial statements etc. to operate.  Imagine the impact of Ransomware attacks in police departments, city councils, schools or hospitals. Whether an organisation operates in the public or private sector, banking or healthcare, it must have an agile security system in place to reduce the risk of a Ransomware attack.

Where to start?

The first step to shield your company against Ransomware is to perform an audit of your current security posture and identify areas of exposure.  Do you have the systems and skills to identify an attack?  Do you have the processes and resources to respond effectively?  As Ransomware disguises itself and uses sophisticated hacking tactics to infiltrate your organisation’s network, it is important to constantly seek innovative ways to protect your data before any irreparable damage is done.

With our Security Consultancy, Managed Security Service offerings and threat-centric Security product portfolio, we are able to help our customers build the holistic security architecture needed in today’s threat landscape.

Contact us to discuss your cyber security needs and ensure you aren’t the next topic of a BBC news article.


Category: Security

Neil Thurston
April 25, 2017

Hybrid IT is often referred to as bimodal, a term coined by Gartner some four years ago to reflect the (then) new need for the simultaneous management of two distinct strands of work in a Hybrid IT environment – the traditional server-based elements on the one hand, and the Cloud elements on the other.

Since then, the two strands of the bimodal world have blended in various different ways. As they have engaged and experimented with new technologies, organisations have found that certain workload types are particularly suited to certain environments.

For example, DevOps work, with its strong focus on user experience elements such as web front ends, is typically well suited to cloud-native environments. Meanwhile, back end applications processing data tend to reside most comfortably in the traditional data centre environment.

The result is a multi-modal situation even within any given application, with its various tiers sitting in different technologies, or even different clouds or data centres.

The obvious question for IT management is this: how on earth do you manage an application which is split across multiple distinct technologies? Relying on technology to provide the management visibility you need drives you to traditional tools for the elements of the application based on traditional server technology, and DevOps tools for the cloud native side. Both sets of tools need to be continuously monitored. For every application, and every environment.

A new breed of tools is emerging, allowing you to play in both worlds at once . VMware vRealize Automation cloud automation software is a good example. Over the last three years, VMware has developed its long-standing traditional platform, adding Docker container capabilities, so that today vRealize is a wholly integrated platform allowing for the creation of fully hybrid applications, in the form of ‘cut-out’ blueprints containing both traditional VM images and Docker images.

This multi-modal Hybrid IT world is where every enterprise will end up. IT management needs clear visibility, for every application, of multiple tiers across multiple technologies – for security, scaling, cost management and risk management, to name just a few issues. Platforms with the capability to manage this hybrid application state will be essential.

This area of enterprise IT is moving rapidly: Logicalis is well versed, and experienced, in these emerging technologies both in terms of solution and service delivery, and in terms of support for these technologies in our own cloud. Contact us to find out more about multi-modal Hybrid IT and how we can help you leverage it.

Category: Hybrid IT

Fanni Vig
April 20, 2017

Finally, it’s out!

With acquisitions like Composite, ParStream, Jasper and AppDynamics, we knew something was bubbling away in the background for Cisco with regards to edge analytics and IoT.

Edge Fog Fabric – EFF

The critical success factor for IoT and analytics solution deployments is to provide the right data, at the right time to the right people (or machines) .

With the exponential growth in the number of connected devices, the marketplace requires solutions that provide data generating devices, communication, data processing, and data leveraging capabilities, simultaneously.

To meet this need, Cisco recently launched a software solution (predicated on hardware devices) that encompasses all the above capabilities and named it Edge Fog Fabric aka EFF.

What is exciting about EFF?

To implement high performing IoT solutions that are cost effective and secure, a combination of capabilities need to be in place.

  • Multi-layered data processing, storing and analytics – given the rate of growth in the number of connected devices and the volume of data. Bringing data back from devices to a DV environment can be expensive. Processing information on the EFF makes this a lot more cost effective.
  • Micro services – Standardized framework for data processing and communication services that can be programmed in standard programming language like Python, Java etc.
  • Message routers – An effective communication connection within the various components and layers. Without state of the art message brokerage, no IoT systems could be secure and scalable in providing real time information.
  • Data leveraging capabilities – Ad hoc, embedded or advanced analytics capabilities will support BI and reporting needs. With the acquisition of Composite and AppDynamics, EFF will enable an IoT platform to connect to IT systems and applications.

What’s next?

Deploying the above is no mean feat. According to Gartner’s perception of the IoT landscape, no organization have yet achieved the panacea of connecting devices to IT systems and vice versa, combined with the appropriate data management and governance capabilities embedded. So there is still a long road ahead.

However, with technology advancements such as the above, I have no doubt that companies and service providers will be able to accelerate progress and deliver further use cases sooner than we might think.

Based on this innovation, the two obvious next steps that one can see fairly easily are:

  • Further automation – automating communication, data management and analytics services including connection with IT/ERP systems
  • Machine made decisions – once all connections are established and the right information reaches the right destination, machines could react to information that is shared with ‘them’ and make automated decisions.

Scott Hodges
April 18, 2017

Attending a recent IBM Watson event, somebody in the crowd asked the speaker, “So, what is Watson? ” It’s a good question – and one isn’t really a straightforward answer to. Is it a brand? A supercomputer? A technology? Something else?

Essentially, it is an IBM technology that combines artificial intelligence and sophisticated analytics to provide a supercomputer named after IBM’s founder, Thomas J. Watson. While interesting enough, the real question, to my mind, is this: “What sort of cool stuff can businesses do with the very smart services and APIs provided by IBM Watson?”

IBM provides a variety of services, available through Application Programmable Interfaces (APIs) that can developers can use to take advantage of the cognitive elements and power of Watson. The biggest challenge to taking advantage of these capabilities is to “Think cognitively” and imagine how they could benefit your business or industry to give you a competitive edge – or, for not-for-profit organisations, how they can help you make the world a better place.

I’ve taken a look at some of the APIs and services available to see some of the possibilities with Watson. It’s important to think of them collectively rather than individually, as while some use-cases may use one, many will use a variety of them, working together. We’ll jump into some use-cases later on to spark some thoughts on the possibilities.

Natural Language Understanding

Extract meta-data from content, including concepts, entities, keywords, categories, sentiment, emotion, relations and semantic roles.


Identify useful patterns and insights in structured or unstructured data.


Add natural language interfaces such as chat bots and virtual agents to your application to automate interactions with end users.

Language Translator

Automate the translation of documents from one language to another.

Natural Language Classifier

Classify text according to its intent.

Personality Insights

Extract personality characteristics from text, based on the writer’s style.

Text to Speech and Speech to Text

Process natural language text to generate synthesised audio, or render spoken words as written text.

Tone Analyser

Use linguistic analysis to detect the emotional (joy, sadness etc) linguistic (analytical, confident etc) and social (openness, extraversion etc) tone of a piece of text.

Trade-off Analytics

Make better choices when analysing multiple, even conflicting goals.

Visual Recognition

Analyse images for scenes, objects, faces, colours and other content.

All this is pretty cool stuff, but how can it be applied to work in your world? You could use the APIs to “train” your model to be more specific to your industry and business, and to help automate and add intelligence to various tasks.

Aerialtronics offers a nice example use-case of visual recognition in particular, they develop, produce and service commercial unmanned aircraft systems. Essentially, the company teams drones, an IoT platform and Watson’s Visual recognition service, to help identify corrosion, serial numbers, loose cables and misaligned antennas on wind turbines, oil rigs and mobile phone towers. This helps them automate the process of identifying faults and defects.

Further examples showing how Watson APIs can be combined to drive powerful, innovative services can be found on the IBM Watson website’s starter-kit page.

At this IBM event, a sample service was created, live in the workshop. This application would stream a video, convert the speech in the video to text, and then categorise that text, producing an overview of the content being discussed. The application used the speech-to-text and natural language classifier services.

Taking this example further with a spot of blue sky thinking, for a multi-lingual organisation, we could integrate the translation API, adding the resulting service to video conferencing. This could deliver near real-time multiple dialect video conferencing, complete with automatic transcription in the correct language for each delegate.

Customer and support service chat bots could use the Conversation service to analyse tone. Processes such as flight booking could be fulfilled by a virtual agent using the ‘Natural Language Classifier’ to derive the intent in the conversation. Visual recognition could be used to identify production line issues, spoiled products in inventory or product types in retail environments.

Identification of faded colours or specific patterns within scenes or on objects could trigger remedial services. Detection of human faces, their gender and approximate age could help enhance customer analysis. Language translation could support better communication with customers and others in their preferred languages. Trade-off Analytics could help optimise the balancing of multiple objectives in decision making.

This isn’t pipe-dreaming: the toolkit is available today. What extra dimensions and capabilities could you add to your organisation, and the way you operate? How might you refine your approach to difficult tasks, and the ways you interact with customers? Get in contact today to discuss the possibilities.

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