Lenovo DCG’s Ian Jeffs

Why now’s the time to have your head in the cloud

PCR talks to Lenovo DCG’s Ian Jeffs, UK GM about why companies should be driving ahead with a cloud initiative, to ensure a robust remote home working infrastructure

  1. What are the greatest challenges organisations are facing when instituting a remote work policy?

The shift to remote working this year has put security at the forefront of every organisation’s priority list. Working from home presents employers with a host of new security challenges as teams lose control of the security measures they had in place in the office. Whilst working remotely, the onus is placed on individual employees to uphold security measures. Yet research suggests that human error accounts for 52 percent of the root causes of security breaches, meaning that companies risk exposing sensitive data if they aren’t sufficiently protecting their employees. Allowing employees access to company data from potentially unsecure wireless network locations raises concerns about data encryption and the potential loss of sensitive company data.

For companies to uphold security standards in the long run, they must adopt robust remote access policies. Establishing a secure Internet connection is also critical and will reduce the vulnerabilities associated with unsecure or public Wi-Fi networks. Banning unsecure networks or simply installing VPNs will help organisations address the security challenges of remote working. VPNs are relatively straightforward to implement and mean that employees can work anywhere whilst still be shielded to increase security levels on all types of connections.

  1. What steps should businesses be taking to prepare for remote work as the new normal?

It’s clear that remote working is here to stay. From a security perspective this means that more than ever IT departments across all sectors must take the necessary steps to ensure their company’s staff are educated when it comes to adopting new technology in order to keep data secure. This begins by ensuring that all staff have been trained on the security best practices when working remotely.

Usability of technology is also an issue. Our research earlier this year found that organisations are placing business and shareholder goals above employee needs when adopting new technologies. The findings revealed that just 6% of IT managers consider users as their top priority when making technology investments. Not only does this have a negative impact on productivity, it also leaves companies vulnerable to security risks. When businesses implement new technologies without considering the human impact, many employees become overwhelmed due to the complexity and pace of change – all the more frustrating without access to any in-person support when the need arises. With all industries needing to adapt to the ‘next normal,’ businesses must place the needs of their people at the heart of IT decisions.

  1. Has the shift to remote working placed on emphasis on hybrid cloud solutions?

Since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve already seen an increase in companies adopting cloud-based solutions. Cloud data storage better enables metadata collection and enables scalable data storage. This also makes it possible for businesses to adopt globalised data storage plans, which means that data can be accessed in real time by anyone in the organisation, wherever they are in the world. As we continue to see the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in remote working, we can see a further need for dynamic data storage that enables efficiency and speed of access. This will potentially accelerate data storage strategies for some businesses, as the more staff who work at home increases the need for remote access to data.

A good option for small to mid-size businesses is to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy that uses both local data storage and cloud platforms. This is because wherever fast access to large amounts of data is required; the local provision of Storage Area Network (SAN) or other storage systems is still essential. The fusion of these two approaches make it possible to guarantee fast access to data whilst also ensuring the alignment of corporate infrastructure with the most relevant data storage solutions. Hybrid storage is also beneficial when it comes to archiving data, which is not needed on a day-to-day basis, yet businesses still wish to store it for future usage.

  1. How is Lenovo’s Data Center Group enabling customers to keep pace with evolving business needs?

As the UK workforce continues to work from home businesses need to make sure they adapt their hybrid cloud strategy, deploy edge to cloud environments and modernise their data centre infrastructure. Lenovo is addressing this by delivering an open platform of hyperconverged infrastructure solutions that enable customers to deploy and manage a full edge-to-cloud environment with simpler updates, easy scalability and a consumption-based delivery model.

Our range of new and updated hyperconverged infrastructure solutions and cloud services are suited to provide virtual desktop infrastructure, supporting the need for people to work remotely across many industries such as education and healthcare.

  1. Tell me about Lenovo’s partnership with NetApp?

Our partnership with NetApp is hugely exciting as it brings the best of two different technologies together. We originally announced a strategic partnership with NetApp back in 2018, which was aimed at co-developing our largest range of new Lenovo-branded storage products that combined NetApp data management solutions with Lenovo’s ThinkSystem infrastructure. Combining Lenovo storage hardware and NetApp software, partners can now help solve the specific business challenges faced by smaller companies and address their most common server and storage pain points. This capability will help these businesses increase productivity, acquire and retain customers, keep business up and running, and reduce costs.

  1. How will Lenovo’s new channel initiatives help partners address the simplification of hybrid environments of SMB and mid-market companies?

Up and down the country, the UK is home to a huge amount of successful small-to-medium-size business. With new ways of working and a more dispersed workforce, IT managers are looking for technology to help them transform and increase productivity.

We joined forces with NetApp to launch several new initiatives to help channel partners address the simplification of hybrid environments and enhance their competitive position in the United Kingdom. We’re bringing together the best in server hardware and storage and making a compelling offering for the UK channel. With our new initiatives our customers are launching competitively priced bundled server and storage offerings designed for SMBs and mid-market companies and aimed to solve their data management challenges.

  1. What are Lenovo’s Data Center’s future plans moving into 2021?

Looking ahead to the future we plan on doubling down on our channel-first strategy and enhancing our relationship with our channel partners. I also expect further collaboration between our different Lenovo groups in order to provide the best possible products and solutions for our global customers. Over the coming years we want to leverage emerging technologies, such as 5G and edge computing, to modernise all our solutions and help our customers modernise and transform their data centres.

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