Q1 – Why have Diamond implemented Technology Optimisation (TechOps)?
The technology industry is in the midst of significant upheaval and change. The advent of Cloud technologies has changed the fundamental ‘Client/Server’ architecture that businesses have been using for many years. Whereas in the past most small to medium sized organisations needs were more or less the same – today, every organisation has unique needs and therefore require a unique IT environment. With this change comes growing complexity, and a growing number of threats to the security of each organisations digital property.
Diamond for many years has provided Support, Maintenance and Monitoring as the foundation of our Managed Services agreements. But with the increasing complexity of our industry, in order to provide the best possible experience for our customers, we invested more time in technology optimisation. Or, to put it another way, we strive to be continuously improving our customer’s technology environment, to ensure that it conforms to industry best practices.
Industry best practices are changing more rapidly than ever. Cybercrime is increasing exponentially. It was on this basis that the TechOps team was conceived, with the goal of continually refining our customer’s environment to get the most value from their technology investments, and to ensure that risks are minimised as much as possible.
Q2 – What’s prompted Diamond to do this now?
As mentioned above, one of the key drivers for creating this team has been the changing and rapidly evolving technology landscape. Also, the feedback that we’ve received from our customers told us that although we have been proactive from a monitoring and alarming perspective, customers want more clarity on where they should be headed with their technology. They want us to be more proactive and provide timely advice and recommendations to maximise the value of their technology investments whilst reducing business risks.
Q3 – What is a practical example of how this will help my organisation?
There are many, many areas that we’ll be including in the TechOps process, but perhaps the best example is security. One of the challenges of being a Managed Service Provider is that each of our customers has different requirements and priorities. Whereas one customer might favour rigid security at the cost of functionality, other customers will favour ease-of-use over strict security practices. It’s important to note that there are no right or wrong answers, but it is essential that customers know where they stand. So, part of the discussions we have with our customers is where the organisation fits on this scale, and whether the current security posture is suitable.
Another great example is gateway security (or Unified Threat Management). Does the organisation require web content filtering, and if so, to what degree? Should staff be able to view Facebook, or should this be blocked? What if we blocked it now, but business begins to adopt a social media strategy that requires Facebook? Only through an ongoing, consultative process will we be able to effectively ensure that our customers technology is working optimally.
Q4 – Don’t vendors typically provide the right configuration ‘out of the box’? Why does that need to be changed?
There is no such thing as a ‘right’ configuration, as evidenced by the UTM example above. Each organisations needs are unique, and the configuration of technology needs to be aligned to the organisations requirements. In fact, in most instances vendors only enable the most basic features by default, and leave the more advanced features disabled.
Take Microsoft Windows Server for example. What a lot of people don’t realise is that many Microsoft security features like password policies (forcing password complexity, minimum password length, etc), are not enabled by default. Without a more consultative process, it’s difficult for us to judge which security features should be enabled (and to what degree). So, the new process will involve more dialogue, and configuring the environment to be more in line with the organisation’s needs.
Q5 – Why have you created a dedicated team for this?
We believe this new process is so important, that it requires focused, dedicated staff that work exclusively on technology optimisation.
Q6 – What are the outputs of this process going to look like?
There are two key deliverables that customers will be receiving as part of this new process:
- Alignment Report: Customers receive a report which outlines each area being considered, and whether the current environment is in alignment (green ticket), marginal (yellow triangle) or misaligned (red bomb). The report also includes details about why we’re reviewing this particular area, a technical overview of the area, and finally the Business Technology Manager’s recommendation on how the customer should proceed (if required).
- Roadmap for the future: Based on the information in the report, our Business Technology Manager will then provide our customers with a long-term roadmap for the organisations technology. This will include agreed milestones, future investments as well as potential future savings (such as expiring vendor/ISP contracts, voice contracts, etc).
Q7 – Does this provide closer engagement with our customers?
Yes! In order to make the necessary changes to the environment, we have even closer engagement with our customers to understand the organisations dynamic requirements. Our Business Technology Managers will work closely with the TechOps team, who will provide recommendations on changes and a more defined ‘roadmap’ for future technology expenditure.
Q9 – Nothings free – what does Diamond get out of this?
As a fixed price Managed Service Provider, one of the key benefits for our customers is that it’s in Diamond’s interests to keep the technology environment running as smoothly as possible. We have a shared goal of reduced downtime, unlike hourly rates providers who are actually rewarded when things are going wrong. The TechOps team was developed with a similar goal in mind. Our core objective with the TechOps process is to increase proactive time with our customers in order to reduce unexpected reactive time. This is again a shared benefit – Diamond has more predictable resourcing requirements, and our customers have happier staff and better productivity due to less reactive tickets being raised.