Most channel partners are happy to put the 2020 year in the rearview mirror and concentrate on new money-making, customer-satisfying strategies for a post-pandemic world. As this group starts to claw their way back to what business was like before the pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns are still bringing serious challenges to channel partners in North America especially when it comes to data protection.
If there is one thing business has learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and the many stay-at-home orders from governments is that it has put a major strain on business continuity. It has also made the IT department reach new levels of anxiety as so many of its workers are now remote.
As the business world settled into this new mix of remote and workplace operations in 2020 and 2021, they began to put serious thought to modernizing its data protection plans. There are five main reasons for this, according to Veeam 2021 Data Protection Report, are:
The acceleration of cloud.
Modernization of IT environments.
Loss of data/failed backups; and
These five factors have led to many channel partners seeking new ways to modernize data protection in a post-pandemic world.
Dave Russell, vice president of Enterprise Strategy at Veeam, (the co-author of the report along with Jason Buffington, Veeam’s vice-president, Solutions & Product Strategy) pinpointed ransomware along with overall cybersecurity as top priorities for CIOs in a post-pandemic world.
“CIOs are looking for features and solutions that can overcome ransomware. At the end of the day, we are not a security company, we have hired a CSO, but it is fair to say the everyone in the data centre and everyone in the company has a role to play in security, but if you think about the greatest security vulnerability it is with the employees and fishing attacks,” Russell said.
A modern data protection approach, Russell suggests, must have best practices around digital hygiene.
Digital hygiene, Russell adds, is not specific to Veeam but can include items such as creating different passwords and separation of key resources and data on different networks so not everything can be compromised or access at the same place.
“Cybersecurity would still be a concern even without the pandemic. IT is still scared about cybersecurity because they do not know what the threats look like and how they evolve and change. In a post-pandemic world cybersecurity jumps to the top,” he said.
If there is another reason beyond the five mentioned for developing a modern data protection strategy in a post-pandemic world, Russell believes it is digital transformation. COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on digital transformation. According to the Veeam 2021 Data Protection Report, there was a massive increase in digital transformation speed in 2020, with 54 percent of organizations accelerating their digital transformation plans. Meanwhile, organizations already into their digital transformation journey ramped up their investments in this area. For example, 91 percent of organizations in the first few months of the pandemic increased cloud services usage in support of the many remote workers that were now in their midst.
Russell commented about an intersection of digital transformation that occurred in 2020, where some put their heads in the sand and took a pause because of COVID-19, while others saw it as perfect timing to “double down” on digital transformation.
Modern data protection does have a major role to play in digital transformation as it improves the overall data connection, accuracy, capture and protection. “And it surfaces up data to the cloud for sharing. We know that digital transformation will be backed on data and so it has to be protected.”
DRIVING THE RIGHT OUTCOMES
The ultimate outcome for business is to ensure peace of mind. Russell speaks to building confidence in an organization to deliver data at any time, any place and on any device. Currently, the spend on backup and data recovery versus cloud and SaaS solutions has a seven times gap. But the heightened state of ransomware in the wild has now made modern data protection a board-level discussion. From Russell’s experience, approximately five percent of data has been recovered. “The situation could become worse,” he said, “if they never had to recover their systems.” The issue stems from the IT team knowing there is a problem, but the business side not being up-to-speed. “There’s an old joke. What is your DR plan? It’s an updated resume,” Russell added.
HOW DO YOU GET THERE?
Russell envisions organizations making high probability type bets, as stated earlier in this article, ultimately prioritizing defending against ransomware. “That’s the big disaster other than a hurricane.”
One area is data protection-as-a-service or DPaaS for managed services providers in the channel community. Another is Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service or DRaaS. Both offer the ability to reduce IT costs while providing always updated solutions and peace of mind knowing that disasters can be averted.
A best practices approach can certainly work in this area especially for enterprise backup for physical and virtual servers. One thing to look for is a solution that is purpose-built with an onsite backup appliance and secure replication to the cloud. By implementing this type of as-a-service solution organizations will get the benefit of leading-edge technology, data deduplication, encryption, cloud storage and multiple retention capabilities.
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has put more focus on digital transformation and the as-a-service market not just in North America, but also in Europe.
The Jolera Interview Series talked to one of the top leaders at Veeam Software in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East (EMEA) in Riccardo Sbarboro, the head of professional services for Veeam in EMEA about the state of the as-a-service market in Europe and surrounding areas. Sbarboro, who has been in the IT sector for more than two decades, said the market in Europe for as-a-service has become a real revolution since the COVID-19 crisis. Sbarboro, who is based in Milan, Italy, only knows too well what COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown did for the Italian region.
According to Rabo Research, Italy’s gross domestic production volume shrank by about 17 percent and it is believed that the economy will not fully recover until the year 2025. This on top of the more than 100,000 deaths because of COVID-19.
But those companies that took to the cloud immediately and provided remote working solutions or were well on their digital transformation journeys more than weathered the storm in Italy.
“In these days, all the companies have IT at their core now. And they are speeding up their innovation plans, while still limiting upfront costs. The anything-as-a-service business model, for many partners, are showing benefits,” he said.
One of the many challenges Sbarboro and his team at Veeam faces covering Europe, Middle East and Africa is that this region is the greatest melting pot of languages and culture in the world.
“In EMEA there are many groups with diverse cultures and differences,” he added.
At Veeam, the organization realized from the start that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to be a tough period for all involved and they put their focus on health and social interactions with staff, partners, and customers.
“I was lucky to be at Veeam during this time because we made it easy to grow in the difficult months. Veeam was fair and supportive and did not make it all about business,” he said.
One of Sbarboro’s many duties is running the channel partners at Veeam for the EMEA region, and this has provided him with great perspective on how COVID-19 has impacted the channel in many countries. Those partners that aligned with Veeam have experienced some of their best quarters in their history, even during the pandemic and lockdowns.
“Those that invested in digital transformation and Veeam benefitted because our offerings are 100 per cent aligned to that. We are aware of this particular situation and the impact is real, but those who reacted sooner and stayed on the right side of innovation were safe,” Sbarboro said.
For Sbarboro it is too early to talk about lessons learned from COVID-19. He says in an emergency you try to survive and minimize the impact and then look back on anything you may have learned later on.
“We are not there yet, but one of the things I’m sure about is those companies that were ready with as-a-service and digital transformation activities better sustained their business and the communities around them than those that did not.”
One of the strategies Veeam adopted was to enrich its portfolio of solutions by strengthening partnerships with leading providers in the as-a-service market. The partnership with Jolera has enabled Veeam in Europe, Middle East and Africa to continue to support its position as a 100 percent channel-driven organization while enhancing the technical skills to deliver value-added and reliable professional services for Veeam product portfolio implementations.
Jolera was one of a select few that were chosen by Veeam to be part of its Accredited Service Partner program also known as VASP.
“VASP is the special forces for projects about data management. We had several hundred applications, but just 50 were selected and Jolera is one of them. Jolera was since the beginning of this process one of the most promising partners we had, and the deeper the analysis the more the capabilities and the technical knowledge was evident. We are very happy to have found such a partner and we are looking forward to develop further this relation,” Sbarboro added.
Also, during the Jolera Interview Series, Sbarboro spoke about his passion for mentoring and coaching and about a unique endeavour called the Gentleman’s Ride in Bergamo.
Kevin Peesker has been at the helm of Microsoft Canada for three years now and, in that time, has spearheaded the subsidiary’s transformation into an as-a-service power. He has also taken a significant number of channel partners along with him on this ride.
But he is not stopping with the channel. Peesker is also driving an agenda to skill-up Canada’s future leaders by investing in a digital literacy agenda that focuses on three key areas: students, new entrants in the workforce, and current jobseekers. He believes that this will not just transform business, specifically small business, but also key sectors such as healthcare.
The current COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown that occurred throughout Canada may have put a halt to several industries but that was not the case for Microsoft Canada and many members of the channel community.
“We are in an incredible industry,” said Peesker during the Jolera Interview Series. “The impact on Canada and globally that we are making will be memorable.” But, Peesker added that this journey is a two-way street, and while he and his team at Microsoft Canada are fully engaged, it’s time for everyone to get involved and participate.
It’s clear that this journey is an as-a-service endeavour. According to Peesker, the as-a-service market has become a value-driven engagement that brings about consistent annuity revenue streams for business while delivering a better level of service to customers.
“It’s a proactive way to engage in the mid and long-term. Microsoft has moved to this model at scale globally. In Canada, the vast component of our revenue is as-a-service, more than 70 percent. We are committed to providing a scalable development of offerings and innovation that gets into the hands of the customer as soon as possible,” Peesker added.
Microsoft Canada surveyed 670 business decision-makers across Canada. Some of those polled are from companies with ten employees or fewer to large enterprises. It looks like most Canadian business leaders, big and small, agree with his optimism. Approximately 69 percent of Canadian business leaders recently surveyed by Microsoft Canada say they are confident that their business will survive the pandemic into 2021, and just over half (54 percent) believe their organization will be able to adapt to whatever the upcoming year might hold, this includes a second wave of the pandemic.
“There are several bright spots from this research. I’ve been calling it our Darwinian moment. Those organizations that have leveraged the benefit of technology are not just surviving but thriving. In contrast, those stagnant organizations or those that did not respond to digital transformation have been impacted. Those that put in place a digital strategy, anchored by cloud and data, were able to scale when the pandemic hit their business,” Peesker said.
Also, during the interview, Peesker talked about one of his passion projects: Digital literacy in Canada along with artificial intelligence, the Microsoft Surface, and find out what Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, said to Peesker about flexible, hybrid work strategies.
Tiffani Bova, the Global Customer Growth Innovation evangelist for Salesforce has done it all in the computer industry. She was one of the first women channel chiefs, for Gateway Computers, Bova then transferred her skills to the field of market research for Gartner Group. It was there that she made bold predictions such as “Cloud Service Brokerages”, which aggregated multiple cloud services from a single source. She also furthered Gartner concepts in the market such as every company would become an IT company and Bi-Model IT.
And Bova continues to think beyond the near term and into the future of the IT industry. Today, Bova says the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has become a catalyst for digital transformation.
The 2019 member of the World’s Top Management 50 Thinkers list, Bova said during the Jolera Interview Series, in the face of a terrible crisis, digital transformation and the as-a-service solutions market is leading the way.
“The as-a-service market has cracked the front office and into customer facing resources such as sales, marketing, and customer service. These areas are now using as-a-service technology and cloud in special ways; in light of what’s going on,” she said.
Just a year ago, digital transformation and the as-a-service market was looked at as a “nice to have” or put in place for cost reasons or if an organization was modernizing its data centre.
COVID-19 is driving all this acceleration, she added. Bova described the pandemic as “a black swan event” in the world that has moved businesses to help people work from anywhere; safely. This activity also includes new ways to service customers, while also modernizing the supply chains.
“Do I think COVID-19 is the ultimate catalyst for all those that did not make an investment in digital? Yes! And, for those that were slow to adopt digital fully it too accelerated their progress over the last year. All because of the pandemic,” Bova added.
While at Salesforce, Bova continues to make strategic bets on where the industry is heading. For example, a new piece of research from Salesforce indicates that there are three areas that will dramatically change the way people work.
Health and safety of employees;
Providing up-to-date tools and capabilities for people to do their job; and
Staying connected with customers.
The best-selling author of Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break your Business, Bova believes businesses need to work on stabilizing their business while developing a path for workers to return to the offices – and in many cases back to actual work – safely. From there, the business also needs to focus on a get back to a growth strategy that sets the right tone and message for an already weary base of people that have gone through the pandemic.
“It’s amazing how quickly we’ve all rallied around the employees to keep them safe and productive. But it will be time to begin to put people in place in each area and these people should be from all aspects of the business,” Bova said.
Also, during the interview Bova talked about new ways to improve customer experience, her take on diversity issues and what’s in store for the channel and IT overall in 2027.
Toronto, December 9, 2020 — Jolera Inc., a leading multi-national IT service provider, announced that it has recently renewed its SOC 2 Type II certification for its controlled, secure and efficient operations. The certification further reinforces Jolera’s commitment to maintaining a secure and compliant environment to protect customer data.
“Earning this attestation puts Jolera in a new league of benchmarked process and controls maturity – this is a very advantageous position relative to security and operational controls,” said Manish Govindaraj, Chief Operating Officer at Jolera. “This reinforces our commitment to providing our partners and customers the confidence that their data is being handled in accordance with industry standards and that we are operating in a very controlled, efficient and secured manner.”
SOC 2 Type II certifications are given to companies that follow a set of standards encompassing security, availability, processing, integrity and confidentiality of customer data. The SOC 2 Type II certification provides information on the service organization’s system and the suitability of the design and operating effectiveness of controls.
The SOC 2 audit was completed by an independent accounting, tax and business consulting firm. The auditing process examined the controls, procedures and personnel involved in Jolera’s operations for adherence to industry best practices. Upon completion, it was determined that Jolera’s service complied with audit controls and provided a secure service with high availability as of the report date of December 9, 2020.
Jolera offers MSPs & IT solution providers next-generation managed services enabling them to create world-class experiences for their clients. We are dedicated to innovating the way organizations integrate IT with their business, providing organizations with live actionable insights to help them succeed. Our partners receive award-winning solutions built on over 20 years of experience servicing businesses worldwide.
The Canadian Business Unit Leader and National Director of Services for Dell Technologies Canada, Marc Mondesir describes himself as a customer advocate, but most importantly a problem solver.
Since the start of Mondesir’s career at Dell Canada in 1998, he has always focused on helping customers remove obstacles to better achieve their goals. Some of those obstacles can be more daunting than others such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, while others more traditional, like digital transformation. But regardless of how challenging the obstacle can be, Mondesir always works in customer’s point of view rather than basing his strategy purely on his past successes.
And the marketplace today admittedly is like no other time in modern history because of COVID-19. In the last 200 days or so of the pandemic, Mondesir has had to switch gears in terms of his customer approach. He has been positioning digital transformation as a competitive advantage for business for five years, but the pandemic and subsequent lockdown has accelerated that push to transform.
“Digital transformation has gone from providing a competitive advantage to a necessity. And as-a-service solutions compliment that as it helps the customer consume in a flexible way,” he said during the Jolera Interview Series.
Mondesir displays a large quote on his LinkedIn page: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” That quote is from Mahatma Gandhi, Indian social activist.
“I take this quote seriously, and it’s an ode to being anti-consumption, and it speaks to the sign of the times. Things are complicated now with politics, diversity, inclusion issues, and it can be overwhelming. Words are like jet fuel, and it sparks a lot of emotion in people. What I tell myself is happiness is to focus on what you can control. You can look at the world’s problems, but what can I control? I can control my actions and show up every day, and this quote reinforces that.”
Mondesir has his own take on diversity too within the industry. Certainly, he says, there are inequities in pay and power, but there is also an unconscious bias that both fascinates and scares him too.
“There’s a quote out there that ‘software is eating the world,’ and it’s true. Software is everywhere, and it is automating a lot of the aspects of our lives. Software is a series of algorithms. People program those algorithms to interpret the world, so the person who builds these algorithms, if they have inherited biases, may end up coding them into the software. What does that do to the fabric of our society? Could we find ourselves going back to the drawing board in terms of the progress we have made this far?”
During the interview, Mondesir also talks about Dell’s innovation, the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and reflects on his time running an all-ages dance hall.