All posts by Andrew Peddie

About Andrew Peddie

Andrew Peddie, BSc, CEng, MIET. Managing Director, First Hosted Limited. An engineer who has successfully built a number of new businesses, Andrew’s skills in sourcing and commercialising complementary technology products continue to provide value to FHL’s customers in terms of increased performance. Specialisms: Business Development, Sales Performance and Marketing.

Major risks of not choosing the cloud

Given recent high-profile media reports of cloud hacks, it’s no wonder business owners are nervous about putting their operational data in the cloud, but is this fear justified?

With more businesses accepting that not having business data in the cloud is a bigger risk than trying to manage it in house, it’s worth taking a closer look.

Not all “clouds” are created equal

Reports of cloud hacks affecting one billion Yahoo emails and iCloud’s private image store are obviously worrying, but in a business context, these events are much less frequent and rarely, if ever, related to “true cloud”.

It’s important to recognise that not all clouds are created equal.

So, what is the cloud exactly? It’s still computers, databases and the internet but it’s important to look at how it’s configured.

Traditionally, software has been operated “on-premise”, which is a single version of software on the company’s server, connected to the company’s network, on the company’s premises and supported by the company’s own people.

It is purchased and owned by a single owner who is entirely responsible for the upkeep of the system.

State-of-the-art “true cloud” solutions work differently. True cloud providers deliver an application which serves multiple customers. It’s always up to date, capable of being configured to specific needs, globally accessible, requires no IT skills to manage, cost-effective due to a subscription-based model and sits separate from client data meaning that it’s far more secure.

Then there are the “fake cloud” solutions which are a hybrid. The software, servers, network and IT skills are outsourced. It is still a single version of software, but just not on your premises, and so the benefits of “true cloud” are not being enjoyed while the risks associated with on-premise are still very real.

The issues around on-premise and fake clouds

Up until a decade or so ago, on-premise was the only way a business could buy software and customise it to its needs.

The issues of going down this route is that software can go out-of-date very quickly and having to rely on updates and IT people to maintain it can be very expensive and sometimes, upgrades cause problems.

It’s also typical for companies using on-premise software to become “locked” to a version of software and later identify IT requirements for software as a bottleneck and not the enabling force that they had hoped for.

Of course, on-premise systems that rely on human intervention and manual processes are less reliable than a properly programmed application.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for business owners to back-up financial data to a USB stick and companies to faithfully back-up their data onto magnetic tapes that turn out to be blank.

Fake cloud environments are a poor compromise. The only “benefit” to the customer is that other people are “hosting” and managing their application for them (and charging them handsomely for it!).

So, with the upsurge in so-called fake cloud environments, it’s now difficult to be 100 per cent certain where the data resides, how it is segregated, protected and backed-up and exactly who can access it, move it, write to it or delete it.

Why is not choosing the cloud such an insider fraud risk?

For most businesses, data is critical. Lose the data, lose the business. Data is so valuable that it is equivalent to money.

If you choose to go on premise, this is akin to keeping your money in a shoe box under your bed, and by going with a hosted provider or a fake cloud environment, this is like keeping a box of money under someone else’s bed! Only a true cloud solution is like putting your money in the bank.

Insider threats present a far greater risk when you choose a solution that isn’t true cloud.

For instance, when business software provider, Sage, experienced a data breach potentially impacting 280 firms, it turned out to be a disgruntled employee.

This is not an isolated case. CIFAS’s Employee Fraudscape 2016 report highlights that 153 organisations identified a total of 585 confirmed insider fraud cases in 2015. This includes 38 cases of unlawfully obtaining and disclosing commercial or personal data.

Whether employees purposely commit fraud or do so through negligent/accidental behaviour, the fact remains that on-premise servers offer insiders far greater access to the company’s valuable data.

Don’t be a technological dinosaur

Dwelling in the past is not an option for progressive business owners. A true cloud business solution could make the difference between success and failure, with non-cloud solutions proving higher risk and more difficult and costly to change.

For many businesses, not choosing the cloud could see them left behind by their competitors and quite possibly extinct.

Andrew Peddie is MD of cloud solutions provider FHL

Image: Shutterstock

Read the original article on RealBusiness

IT Success = Psychology and Planning

Installing a new business system or switching from old legacy systems is always going to be a challenge. It has been referred to as the business equivalent of heart surgery.

Understandably, any organisation embarking on this wants to get it right, but is success all about software and technology? How much of a part does psychology play? And what about the need for careful planning?

Wanting to change and being prepared for change are not the same thing. Often, it is not just the system that is changing, most often, everything is changing, from the structure, organisation, roles and culture through to working methods. If the outcome is to be successful, there are a number of factors businesses must consider.

The fear of change
Uncertainty, loss of control and a fear of greater transparency of roles and information are some of the psychological barriers people face when embarking on new business system projects. It is natural for business owners to remain circumspect, perhaps based on previous experiences or “what if it all goes wrong?” scenarios. The danger here is that the fears create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For many businesses these days, cloud-based solutions are most appropriate for their needs. Whilst it is good practice for a business owner to evaluate and manage risk, data security is commonly sensationalised to the point where fear of “hacking” and “cyber-crime” is irrational in the context of legitimate enterprise-class cloud business solutions. It can manifest itself as ‘fear of failure’ and stop the project before it starts!

So how can psychological barriers be overcome?
Change requires good leadership and significant change needs additional trust, support and confidence. A clear vision for the business needs to be well-communicated to key stakeholders if the project is to be navigated successfully.

Good research and frank discussion by business owners and (sometimes) key stakeholders is also important for addressing any potential psychological barriers before a project is attempted. Many technology firms are used to these situations and are available for face-to-face meetings with team members and customers where open dialogue and shared credentials help to lower barriers and engender trust.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail
As well as the psychological considerations of change, there are also practical aspects too. By the very nature of the project, implementing a new business system is likely to impact every area of an operation. Risks as well as rewards are real, and proper preparation and planning is important. It is one thing to know that a business needs to change in order to flourish, quite another to achieve a state of readiness.

When preparing for a project, it is prudent to prepare well, especially as disagreements between stakeholders about how the business currently works, could work and should work in the future are common. Businesses much document as much as possible, from organisational structure, definition of roles and workflow (current and future) through to accounting codes, products and services for sale and contact lists. It’s a lot of work but most organisations start to benefit immediately.

Once the business is prepared for change, planning can take place.

“Diligence is the mother of good luck”
When running a successful business, taking on more work is always going to be a challenge so it is even more important to plan well, set realistic budgets for time and money and adopt an AGILE approach.

When researching technology solutions, the business needs to make sure the chosen solution has a strong pedigree and is suited to its needs both commercially and functionally. It also needs to be secure, scalable and future proof.

In addition, choosing an implementation partner needs to be carefully considered. This will be a collaborative exercise and so the business should expect good advice from the partner – it is not about being sold to! The partner’s track record and certifications need to be properly checked before a short list can be drawn-up of the top two or three – these will then need to be visited. A good partner will be helpful and constructive, will warn of the pitfalls and have no problem in suggesting customers that can provide references.

What does success look like?
Success can manifest itself in many forms and ‘what success looks like’ must be determined from the start of the project and then measured. For some, simply having all their data in one place is success, for others, it’s having an e-commerce site that is linked to inventory and accounting, or being able to get business information via the internet instead of driving to the office.

To achieve project success, addressing psychological barriers and being well-prepared for change are absolutely key, and yet these factors are all too often overlooked by businesses as they embark on their IT journey.

Andrew Peddie is MD of cloud solutions company, FHL. For more than a decade, the FHL team has utilised the NetSuite technology platform to transform business, working with small family-owned companies and global PLC’s. With experience of more than 150 projects, Andrew has experienced many of the common pitfalls that businesses experience when undergoing change.

Credit to Ambition Magazine

Link to original article:

Cloud security – myths and truths

Even in this day and age, some businesses remain fearful of the Cloud. Are they right to be circumspect and untrusting? Is Cloud data an open door to hacking and cyber-crime or is this an irrational fear? We’ve all seen sensationalist media coverage around Cloud security involving celebrities, banks and even accounting software, so what is the truth?

Data security for a business is paramount and with so many companies feeling comfortable about moving their business to the Cloud, surely the Cloud cannot be as risky as we are led to believe? But how do we distinguish the myths from the truths?

Myth 1 – All Clouds are created equal

What is “The Cloud” really? It’s still computers, databases and the internet. There are so many different offerings of “Cloud” services that bunching them all together under one heading can be misleading. At a personal level, for example, most people don’t know where their data is anymore. So when you save your iPhone photos to iCloud or manage your Facebook profile, where does that information reside? Who takes care of it? What happens if you can’t access it one day or it disappears altogether? This may be a small risk to an individual but this level of uncertainty would be entirely unacceptable for a business.

Myth 2 – Cloud business systems employ the same level of security

Obviously, enterprise class business systems need to be far more secure than personal ‘data Clouds’. However, you can’t assume that all Cloud business solutions have the same level of security.

The measures different providers put in place can be worlds apart! ‘Best in class’ Cloud providers have extremely tight security measures in place, including:

  • Top quality data centre architecture that includes two geographically separate data centres.
  • Application security comprising industry standard SSL encryption and application-only access so that users can only access the application features and not the underlying database.  Audit trails, restricted user access, IP address restrictions and robust password policies are also key for making sure a business’ data is as secure as possible.
  • Continuous system monitoring by a dedicated security team so that any suspicious activity is quickly identified and dealt with.
  • Background checks on Cloud provider’s staff and strict physical access restrictions to the data centres.
  • ‘Best in class’ security certifications, providing independent verification of the system’s security credentials.

Research is a must here. Security is a primary consideration and so each business needs to conduct its own diligence.

Myth 3 – Choice of technology partner has little bearing on Cloud security

The term “Cloud Computing” is popular so it stands to reason that traditional software companies see a wider market for their applications if they, too, are “Cloud”.

Be wary of re-engineered applications, or as some people call them “fake Clouds” which could be something as simple as your own software running on someone else’s server. This is not solving the challenge of moving to the Cloud, this is just taking your server off your premises and moving it somewhere else.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of “true Cloud”, look for a partner who works only with true Cloud applications and does not volunteer for the onerous task of providing hosting.

Myth 4 – On-premise systems are so much safer

It’s interesting that so many business leaders still consider on-premise business systems as so much safer than Cloud solutions. Yet storing data on-premise is akin to keeping all your money in a shoe box under the bed.

Far too many businesses still have on-site servers that are inherently risky due to location, questionable back-up processes and defective security measures. Servers in unsecured places and business owners with data backed up to USB devices on keyrings are worryingly common.

And how many businesses test whether their servers could be restored if there was a devastating fire, for example?

Whilst cyber-crime needs to be protected against, how many business owners seriously protect themselves against threats from ‘insiders’? The malicious theft of data from a disgruntled employee, a fraudulent act from an unscrupulous insider and negligent/accidental behaviour that creates a security breach, are still far more common than cyber-attacks. An on-premise server offers ‘insiders’ far greater access to the company’s precious data!

It’s important to keep concerns about the Cloud in context. If the combined purchasing power of a global installed base can make best-in-class security and availability affordable to the majority, then surely anything that takes the risks out of a business is a good thing? Best-in-class Cloud software is out there and so perhaps it’s time to stop worrying about what could happen, and look to see what’s available now and how it could help your business?


First published on Compare the Cloud.


Top mistakes when choosing a cloud partner

Choosing a new or replacement business system can be a daunting task which is complex and fraught with risk. Cloud technology projects are no different. In fact, a project to implement a new cloud solution is like conducting open heart surgery on the business. The technology partner is the equivalent of the skilled surgeon who ensures the operation is a success with no loss of life and minimal side effects. With so much pressure on the business to ‘get it right’, it’s staggering how many companies put little thought into choosing their partner.

Read full article… 

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Reducing the cost of cloud application integration

Comms Business
September 2011
Circ: 15,010

A partnership has been launched that claims to provide a dramatic reduction in the integration cost of cloud applications.

The partnership sees First Hosted become the only UK distributor of QueCloud made by Queplix. The solution enables companies to securely integrate cloud applications such as NetSuite, Salesforce, LinkedIn and FaceBook with speed and simplicity.

The Queplix solution reduces the lifecycle total cost of ownership for data integration deployment by up to 75 per cent or more, compared to traditional ETL (extract, transform, and load) data integration tools.

The increased business efficiency and reduced set-up costs provided by QueCloud will benefit users, particularly as the most popular integrations, or applications blades, which connect businesses’ NetSuite world to any enterprise or cloud application, are available complete, off-the-shelf, often with no or a minimal set up fee.

Read more on Comms Business…