The so-called 2020 problem is a label given to the ceasing of support for some of the more popular Microsoft products.
If you have; Windows Server 2008 R2, Small Business Server 2011, Exchange 2010, SQL Server 2014 SP2, Office 2010 and Windows 7 then it’s a problem. Except it isn’t a problem at all; it’s the normal process we all subscribe to in the technology world. Of course your IT team will be able to keep that old enervated server, with the sticker saying ‘do not restart’, ticking over until they get around to upgrading it, only this time, GDPR, yes I know, I know, I’ve grown tired of hearing it too and I may as well add Brexit too, just to get it out of way, but GDPR means we need to make sure we’re secure and up to date - unsupported software isn’t. Even if you have a team of gurus ready to jump into action should anything happen, inevitably there comes a point when maintenance becomes costlier than the upgrade with added risk and no guarantee of a positive outcome.
The not so 2020 solution.
Gone are the days where your beige tower, sat collecting dust, with its own serial mouse and keyboard stacked on it, is left to tick over until it calls it a day. But that doesn’t mean you need to get cash-hungry Consultants in, who will suggest you need to replace almost all your infrastructure, whilst presenting eye-watering numbers few budgets would accommodate.
In the world where digital transformation is passé, these issues will constantly rear their head unless you’re prepared. Having a strategy in place to renew the software and hardware is one solution, it requires time, resource and technical knowledge, but often it’s been the only way to guarantee your infrastructure integrity and thus your businesses. But these days it’s not.
We’re more familiar with SaaS (Software as a Service) but perhaps less familiar with the other aaS’s, like DaaS (Device as a Service), IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service). Or even ITaaS (IT as a Service). Subscribing to a license for a software package now feels to be the norm, yet only a few years ago (it would seem to me anyway) owning the media to a version of a software was the go-to method. Just like with our music or movie collections that have shifted from owning tapes, CD’s or even MP3’s to subscription and streaming.
A similar shift has taken place to more service focused IT strategies. Ones with lower initial cost and depreciation for your IT services in a flexible monthly fee. There are scenarios where this works and somewhere it doesn’t in full, but for some of the most used software on the planet, the scenarios are tried and tested. And they work.
The 2020 solution.
The solution really is simple; tell someone else how you’d like it to be done and let them manage it, with auditable reporting.
Transitioning your focus from infrastructure and operations based on service-orientated computing once seemed restrictive. The technological advances have clearly shown the future potential of service computing but the benefits of its current potential need to be realised now.
Web services have previously been the focus of ‘service computing’, with the likes of Office 365 only seemingly having its potential tapped into on a wider scale recently. An example is the introduction of machine learning with Cortana, which can now schedule meetings for you. These features, which on the face of it are small, can save not just time but focus.
Microsoft has expanded Office 365 into Microsoft 365. In short; Office 365 is the suite of office applications, Word, Excel etc. And Microsoft 365 includes all that plus operating systems, security, mobile device management and other options, along with the frequent feature upgrades. With changes like this, you can purchase one license that covers everything a person could need in most organisations. It also gives you the scope you may require for developing your workforce into a more collaborative one too. Tools like OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams, Delve and Yammer all have great potential, but they need to be driven and championed. With the right service provider, you can develop collaborative solutions using tools you already have. No big software upgrades, overhauls or changes required, just tap into their extensive product knowledge.
So, assuming that’s the software, and in-depth knowledge of it, covered thanks to SaaS, what about the laptops and workstations that need to be replaced constantly? We then look at our options with DaaS. Now before I explain, one thing to remember is there’s also a shift, thanks to SaaS, from your traditional VDI setup with terminals on every desk to a more bring your own device and hot desk style of working. A simple change of giving people a laptop and putting docking stations on desks creates a workplace freedom that nurtures other positive workplace traits and device options can be flexible too.
DaaS is not just a laptop on a lease or hire purchase, it is the lifecycle management of your device. A comprehensive strategy that your service provider will take care of. No limitation of operating systems and not limited to a single vendor either. DaaS is taking your objectives and translating them into a tailored solution that fits your people. A laptop in your hands ready to login and start work. That clumsy employee who manages to spill the first coffee of the day over it, it’s not a problem, it’s backed up and your service agreement says another one will be there by morning, again ready to login and start work. Moving a laptop to another person’s possession who needs a change of local applications, just tell your service provider, done. You decide to increase or decrease your asset consumption, not a problem. DaaS has so many advantages beyond the financial flexibility and internal resource it releases.
So, we have our device and everything we need to use on it. But the fastest pace of change is in your infrastructure. Ageing hardware, increasing resource demand from business growth, software demands and the endless list of other tolls on your infrastructure make this the area of greatest pain.
Making a change from on premise to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) can seem daunting but it shouldn’t be. Big hitters like Microsoft Azure and AWS as well as many other public and private clouds have given us a huge level of competition in this market, which has driven it’s cost right down. Only a few years ago, to migrate to the cloud required a big budget, the benefit was worthy in certain scenarios, especially if your demand had lots of ebb and flow. For example, if you need to double your resource a few times a year but the rest of the year you’re ticking over in comparison. But now the cost of cloud has meant the simple ebb and flow of staff can make it a cost saver.
There are many different iterations of IaaS, but the key area relative to this article is Managed IaaS. This means you subscribe to whatever resources you use, to keep it simple let’s assume storage and compute, then you have a support contract. Within your support contract will be your SLA.
This means you only need to pay for what you are using. If you have 100 TB and 10 servers one month but 200TB and 20 servers the next, the monthly fee can flex to match. Then should an issue arise your support provider can take care of the headache. But most importantly, you’re always on the latest infrastructure with guaranteed performance and best of all, don’t have to worry about software updates.
Using technology as a service gives you more flexibility than ever. You have the control of your devices, your infrastructure and all the bits in between. You can choose to move a small area of your infrastructure to IaaS or change your next order for laptops to be DaaS. It doesn’t require a full review or massive project and can slowly reduce the internal resource requirement for IT overall. You can choose a provider who will do the leg work and tell you exactly what and how it should be done. Whether your requirement is to reduce costs, reduce internal resource overhead or to consolidate a complicated infrastructure, you can begin to adopt technology as a service and see how easy it is.
I’ve summarised a lot of information in this article and if you need to know more please feel free to give me a call on 0113 387 1070 or drop me an email to discuss.