Last week Trustmarque’s valued customers and partners tuned in to watch ConnectIT LIVE 2.0, the second instalment of our 2020 online event series.

With the latest lockdown in England taking hold and the devolved nations each following tight Coronavirus restrictions, it was important more than ever to bring together the industry virtually to work together and shape our evolving digital transformation goals.

Across three days, speakers from Trustmarque and our market-leading vendor partners, brought thought-provoking content and debate on topics ranging from network security to managing cloud subscriptions and boosting employee productivity.

With so much content, we’ve tried to drill it down to six things you could learn from ConnectIT LIVE 2.0. You can catch up on all the ConnectIT sessions on-demand now.

Manage the rise of as a service subscriptions

ITaaS is booming. The rapid transition to remote working and the need for immediate business continuity has seen SaaS (software as a service) subscription models become the de facto way of licensing this year.

But with so many apps and services now sitting in the cloud, and no single point of purchasing authority, how do you best manage your IT subscriptions? That is exactly what Mark Lillywhite, Solutions Consultant at Snow Software, addressed in a presentation alongside Trustmarque’s ITAM Consultant Damien Masterson. They discuss the challenges brought on by the rise in shadow IT and how Snow can help you put some “security and boundaries in place” to improve visibility and cloud control.

Flexible purchasing models extend beyond software, and DaaS (devices as a service) is gaining popularity. Trustmarque’s Customer Success Manager, Cymon Skinner revealed Trustmarque’s new DaaS offering: Microsoft Surface as a Service. From reduced operational spend to increasing the pace of innovation, Cymon shares the many reasons to switch to a DaaS approach. He also reveals the powerful benefits of combining Microsoft 365 with Microsoft Surface, to give your end-users the full potential of the Microsoft cloud.

How to leverage hybrid infrastructure for hybrid workplaces

As work shifts from home to the workplace and on the go, and data moves from core to edge to cloud in an increasingly IOT world, hybrid infrastructure is crucial to achieving an agile business model.

VMWare shared how they aim to lead the way in hybrid cloud and application management. Chief Technologist for Cloud Platform, Lee Dilworth was keen to reveal how Cloud Foundation has evolved to meet the demand for dynamic application hosting on and off premise. He said VMware has shifted from being seen as a company that virtualises infrastructure to being the company that offers the platform to land any application on. Their goal is to provide the tooling, management, simplicity and platform to enable companies to run and consume applications from any location.

Lee referenced that developers can now spend less time managing their environment, and more time on the reason the platform exists: to run applications, and to run them in a secure, stable, reliable way.

Nutanix also talked about infrastructure innovation and how to ensure a successful VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) project by removing the “Nine layers of desktop Hell”. The key is to simplify and streamline the traditional end user computing experience. They recommend moving from a hardware-centric approach to an agile software and end user-centric approach.

It’s time to reach the full potential of the Microsoft cloud

“A Modern Workplace uses technology to adapt and embrace the changing needs of business and employees” Seb Burrell, Trustmarque

As Microsoft’s premiere cloud solution and the fastest growing product in Microsoft history, Microsoft Teams was a big focus throughout ConnectIT. Many of the presenters were quick to cite recent data from Microsoft which shows that usage of Teams has grown to 115m daily active users in 2020.

Paul Hunt, Trustmarque’s Principal Consultant for Office 365, revealed his favourite features in Teams and how to manage changes in Microsoft 365 with a look at the best communication methods. Trustmarque Customer Success Manager James Brennan focused more on accessibility and improving employee productivity and wellbeing through Teams. And Data Protection Specialist Dan Beck explained why Back-up and DR for Microsoft 365 is essential to protect remote workers, apps and data.

We’ll reveal the full round-up of Microsoft Teams tips and tricks in our next blog.

In addition to Microsoft 365, presenters also touched on the higher value capabilities of the wider Microsoft cloud, including how to take advantage of business analytics, performance and cognitive services in Azure and RPA. Trustmarque’s Customer Success Manager Seb Burrell shared how Power Platform can help you achieve automation and business process improvement. He looked at key features in the Common Data Service and enablement for Citizen Developers.

N365 can help achieve a joined-up NHS

NHS IT leaders have had to deal with similar challenges to other organisations during the Pandemic: supporting staff to work remotely, enabling front line staff, and setting up new initiatives and emergency response solutions like NHS Nightingale.

According to Trustmarque’s Modern Workplace Practice Director Lee Walton, the thing that is fundamentally going to change how NHS employees work in the future, is the productivity toolset delivered through the N365 deal. This goes beyond the benefits already achieved through the mass deployment of Teams, to reach the full capability of Microsoft 365. He talked about how N365 can help the NHS achieve its vision for Integrated Health and has the potential for services like Virtual Clinics in Teams.

Lee commented: “N365 gives access to Office 365 and M365 cloud capabilities to support secure and productive agile working and replicates the capabilities that lots of orgs outside of healthcare have had.”

While there is a ‘one NHS approach’, Lee went on to acknowledge “there are different levels of maturity and enablers in achieving that vision”. In his presentation, he sets out different scenarios and starting points to highlight how different healthcare organisations could define their N365 strategy.

Secure your network, users and data in a remote working world

“Complexity is the enemy of security and simplicity is its greatest ally,” Nick Lines, Microsoft

The traditional security perimeter no longer exists as hardware, apps and data extend from your company network to remote workers and cloud. Shifting and opportunistic cyber security threats have been a common and intense challenge in 2020.

According to Fortinet’s Senior Director of Solutions Marketing, Patrick Grillo, the main risk to security is scale. He said while remote working is not a new concept, the mass transition has placed immense pressure on security teams. He outlined the different types of remote workers and the different approaches needed to stay protected.

However, Elizabeth Green, Cyber Resilience Specialist at Dell Technologies, thinks the current security conversation is a device protection story. She said data suggests organisations are finding it difficult to secure the home network and Dell attributes this to an influx of IOT devices – notoriously difficult to secure. Elizabeth revealed Dell’s return to work solutions and how to “leverage threat intelligence to reduce risk and build a greater level of digital trust”.

Microsoft aimed to somewhat quell any security fears and assured that Microsoft Security provides a seamless experience and protection across all platforms. However, Nick Lines, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Security, did still acknowledge the growing threat landscape. He discussed research that suggests 82% of organisations plan to add additional security resource in response but that conventional security tools have not kept up with the pace. A reason why Microsoft has invested some $1bn in security this year.

Nick also highlighted how remote working needs a new security approach. He commented: “You can’t use the security tools you had pre COVID-19, when people were predominantly working on-premise. And you can’t pretend the home office and the dining room table is just another work location. People are using different tools, devices and applications.” To deal with these new data sources, and the subsequent explosion of data, Trustmarque’s Cyber Lead James Holton said data classification and data policies are essential to data loss prevention.

Forcepoint were keen to stress the importance of your people firewall. Vaughan Evans, Public Sector Team Leader, said it’s important not to just set-up security barriers but to get buy-in from employees and turn security into a positive conversation.

The future of IT must be sustainable

“We live in a world of connected devices and striving for real-time experiences. That is not going to decrease with 5G coming in. The problem is that comes with a hefty environmental price.” Mateo Dugand, HPE

The pace of technological change has the potential to change the world for better or for worse, if sustainable IT does not become a business imperative. That was the message from HPE and Citrix who both spoke about the need for sustainability.

Both vendors laid out some hard-hitting facts about the environmental impact of the industry, stating that there is a correlation between technological growth and deconstruction of environmental resources. For example, research shows that in Europe IT represents 10% of all business electricity.

HPE went on to share some ambitious targets including a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. They revealed how sustainable, efficient and circular IT can bring business benefits that extend from lowering CAPEX to recovering end-user value, reducing energy and waste. And ultimately achieving an improved IT infrastructure.

Citrix’s Lead System Engineer Stephen Twynam also spoke passionately of the importance of IT sustainability, and ensuring that our actions today do not limit the range of social, economic and environmental opportunities for future generations.

Thanks to all the ConnectIT partners

Thanks to everyone who helped to make ConnectIT and ConnectIT 2.0 a success this year. And thanks to those who tuned in live.

We’re in IT together.

Catch-up on-demand now

Watch all the ConnectIT LIVE 2.0 presentations and discussions on-demand now. If you’d like to discuss any of the topics, talk to your Account Manager or email [email protected]

Watch ConnectIT on-demand

By Katherine Murphy, content enthusiast