Discover the highlights from our online event series ConnectIT LIVE 2020 and find out how you can watch ConnectIT on-demand.

Last week we proudly brought together customers, colleagues and vendor partners as we held our first ever online event series ConnectIT LIVE 2020.

Over the course of five days, some 25 leading speakers delivered thought-provoking content to online audiences from across the UK with the aim of uniting the industry and inspiring new thinking for your digital transformation strategies.

Audiences were taken on a virtual journey of digital discovery with topics spanning across the IT lifecycle. From the shifting threat of cybersecurity to the role of smart devices, cloud and modern IT approaches in the Covid-19 era and beyond. And ConnectIT LIVE acted as a platform for some exciting solution launches including CloudTeaming, a new approach to Azure Managed Services developed by Trustmarque.

While our much-loved XPO conference events have brought the industry together for over 30 years, this is the first time Trustmarque has run a digital event series and we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that contributed. Keeping the industry connected through these challenging times is highly important to us so we hope that you found ConnectIT to be a valuable source of information, inspiration and collaboration.

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ConnectIT LIVE highlights

Modern Devices and SaaS for remote working

“I am not a millennial or Generation Z but I still expect to have my kit connected anytime, anywhere from any device,” Rob Rance, Client Solutions Specialist at Dell Technologies, kicks of ConnectIT on the power of connected devices.

Dell Technologies kicked off the week with a session on workforce transformation with modern devices – something that has recently enabled their 120,000 strong workforce to work remotely from home. They gave an introduction to the new Dell client portfolio, including some pretty slick developments like the new XPS and Latitude series, as well as the Precision 5750, the world’s lightest and thinnest 17” work station boasting AI optimisation.

Dell Client Solutions Specialist Rob Rance also talked about the talent gap and global skills shortages in the technology sector, particularly in areas like AI. He expressed why Dell is keen to lead the Green agenda within the tech sector, revealing their goals for the use of 75% renewables by 2030 and 100% renewables by 2040.

Snow also touched on how the rapid deployment of new hardware and software has enabled a fast transition to remote working in light of Covid-19. In an era when both devices and SaaS have been “spun up to meet demand”, they stressed the importance of having visibility of your technology and revealed key considerations when deploying SaaS applications.

A spotlight on Cyber Security

“We know that humans are the weakest link and users don’t always understand the risk they bring to an organisation.” Paul Down, Senior Director of Sales, EMEA for Proofpoint’s Security & Awareness Training

Tuesday was dedicated to all things security with Trustmarque’s Cyber Security Practice Lead James Holton facilitating the conversation with leading cyber vendors. Trustmarque’s Cloud Practice Lead Neel Dev delivered a session on cloud security perimeters and both Sophos and McAfee also shared their latest thinking on cyber risks and mitigation strategies.

Forcepoint delivered two sessions looking at both network security in the public sector and how to understand user behaviour and its effect on cyber security. User accountability was also a key theme for Proofpoint who delivered a detailed session on the importance of cyber awareness training. For example, did you know that almost 100% of threats are human activated.

Highlighting the need for extensive user training, Paul Down, Senior Director of Sales, EMEA for Proofpoint’s Security & Awareness Training, commented: “Nothing will compromise your computer or infrastructure unless a human interacts with that threat. We know that humans are the weakest link and users don’t always understand the risk they bring to an organisation. That’s why we have a people-centric approach to reducing risk.”

Dan Beck, Data Protection Specialist at Trustmarque, discussed why native protection for Office 365 alone is not enough and back-up is essential – highlighting a strong case for a more comprehensive back-up strategy and solutions such as safeGUARD.

Advances in Modern Datacentre design

The the key cloud and datacentre solution providers including Red Hat, IBM, Nasuni and VMware led the modern datacentre discussions looking at topics such as automation and heterogenous storage.

Following the recent introduction of VMware Cloud on AWS, we were proud to welcome Tim Hearn – Director of VMware Cloud on AWS for Northern Europe. Tim spoke about VMware’s commitment to helping customers meet the ever-increasing need for agility and hybrid cloud solutions.

He commented: “The pace of change for organisations needing increased agility is vast in the current climate -a move and change by utilising cloud capability is part of the solution. VMware wants to be able to support any application and to enable customers to move applications and workloads between on-prem or in the cloud. We want to make it really easy for customers to start to use cloud services, to help customers to extend, move or to share their world across an on-prem world and a cloud world”.

Nasuni also gave an interesting perspective on weathering the current storm and why organisations need to review their infrastructure strategy to overcome the challenging times ahead. According to Andy Hardy, Vice President of EMEA and APJ, new levels of agility, resilience, and especially cost control will be required from your datacentre resources as we move through and beyond the challenges of 2020.

How to harness the power of your data

With data growing exponentially, both on-prem and in the cloud, it was no surprise that several presenters were keen to talk about how organisations can harness the power of their data to drive performance, customer service and operational efficiencies. Dell Technologies discussed the importance of having a “data first strategy” and also gave an insightful session on data harvesting at the edge, which explored the trend towards edge computing where data is generated.

Meanwhile Trustmarque’s resident Microsoft PowerBI expert, Paul Brady, Principal Consultant, Data & Applications, revealed some Power BI Hacks everyone should know about. For example, he highlighted new end user functionality that enables users to “personalise visuals” with active alerts and subscriptions. This allows end users to swap out visuals and fields and create their own personalised view of a report, which Paul said “truly creates self-service BI for end users”.

Ammy Singh Head of Solutions at BedRock gave a joint presentation with Dick Wall, Trustmarque’s Healthcare BI Solutions Architect, where they discussed how healthcare providers can leverage efficient data management to deliver better outcomes.

Trustmarque innovation

We know that 2020 has been a challenging year for customers across the board and we have been working hard to develop new solutions and services to meet the shifting landscape of digital transformation and remote working.

Our team revealed some exciting new projects we’ve been working on, including Trustmarque Virtual Desktops for Health, a new remote access solution for healthcare professionals, co-created with the NHS to enable employees to work safely from home.

Trustmarque’s cloud team also launched CloudTeaming, a new approach to Azure Managed Services that goes beyond the scope of a traditional MSP (managed services provider) to expand the capabilities of your team through a range of agile partnerships that can be dialed up or down as and when needed. As part of CloudTeaming, Trustmarque’s Chief Cloud Architect Nathan Kitchen, revealed Cloudmarque, an open source cloud reference architecture that gives customers access to a world of information best practice and DevOps methodologies.

Nathan gave a lively presentation using striking visuals and demonstrations of the Cloudmarque platform. He also displayed a creative way to bring the proposition to life, bringing LEGO Transformers to the stage as an effective metaphor for the complex “building blocks of cloud”.  If you missed the presentation, we certainly recommend watching for a bit of cloud inspiration mixed with childhood nostalgia.

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Missed a session or want to share content of interest with your colleagues?  All of the webinars from ConnectIT LIVE are now available to watch on-demand. Click the button below to access anytime.

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By Katherine Murphy, content enthusiast