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Unified IT newsletter

March 2021 edition

Welcome to News from the Frontline. As an experienced, and no doubt ‘over-worked and under-resourced’ IT Professional, you will find this newsletter full of the kind of stories and articles that will help you, at a glance, stay up-to-date and informed on all things Unified IT, ICT, and cyber security  in general!

 

I’m Edward Zarzour – GM Enterprise Service Management at Fusion5.  My team work with companies from every industry across Australia and New Zealand to optimise their time, increase their efficiency, and support their efforts in keeping their businesses and people secure, connected, and running seamlessly. 

 

In this edition you’ll find:

 

  • Cyber Security in the age of “Work From Home”
  • De-mystifying Microsoft Licensing
  • Unlock maximum Ivanti value – Free Health Check
  • Ivanti named Leader by Gartner for IT Service Management Tools – what this means for you
  • Passion for Hyper Automation – Blog
  • ITSM and CRM – ‘same same but different’ – Blog
  • Self-check for Device management, IT Security, Patching Strategies
  • How To: Build a Business Case, Prove ROI or conduct TCO analysis
  • Webinar: How to resolve 80% of issues before users report them

Cyber Security in the age of "Work From Home"

The era of working from home

Protecting against the daily barrage of password attacks, phishing emails, email viruses and other cyber security threats imposed by cyber criminals is a constant challenge, as you well know. Relying on the humans in your company to stay alert to avoiding these traps isn’t an ideal security strategy (although training employees is a good idea too!) 

In the six months to Dec 2020, these are just some of the attacks our customers experienced, and how we helped them develop prevention protocols (based on Essential 8 best practice): 

Ransomware Attack  a customer was asked to pay more than 450K AUD after there on premise CRM system was compromised. We helped them move the system to our datacenter and restored their data from the last clean backup they had. 

Certificate Expiry  we have had several P1 issues logged with us where customers reported a loss of service, this invokes a major incident response and we quickly established the root cause being an expired certificate on their side. Through our robust asset management systems we are now helping them manage their assets better, certificates being one of them. Automatic expiry notifications are triggered to remind them to renew certificates they own and ensure no loss of service occurs due this completely avoidable reason. 

 

Fake email  Phishing email frequency and sophistication are on the rise, one such email was sent to a company’s Accounts Payable teams lead to them paying a fake invoice into a hackers email account.  They only became aware of the fraud when the genuine supplier notified them that their real invoice was overdue.  After discovering the fraud, they contacted Fusion5 to help avoid such breaches in future. We worked with them on a business level and technical level. As a swift response, we implemented Microsoft Defender and Microsoft ATP (Advanced Threat Protection). Of course these are not a complete barriers against phishing attacks but are forming a part of our multi-layered approach we are continuing to work with them on, around application hardening and application whitelisting which is the ultimate defense against such attacks. 

Finally we ran an awareness session on how to check for tell-tale signs in the email body for it’s content, attachment and link authenticity, without needing IT’s help. 

Brute force attacks  over a 24 hour period, one customer had 34,000 attacks, luckily they all failed due to our implemented security measures These are very common attacks targeting custom ports in customer networks and web servers that open up your mission critical applications (like ERP, Payroll and CRM) to the internet.  We have many security layers to monitor for these types of events, and immediately launch corrective actions. Setting up a WAF (Web Application Firewall) is a quick win and requires minimal effort. We can also immediately configure VPNs (secure tunnels) to divert all traffic via robust Network Security Groups (NSG) until the threat is isolated. We can also provide geo-based blocking if you do not do business with users from certain countries. 

Summary: 

Having employees and devices scattered to the four winds, working from home, their campervan, or another country, has introduced a range of new challenges for IT & Security departments everywhere.  The five top things to consider focusing on, based on our experience, are: 

 

  1. Hyper-automation – Imagine if you had bots that you can train to share your workload, your very own assistant to do the repetitive manual security tasks? Do you think you can free up sometime now to focus on your high value projects? Absolutely! We are yet to meet a customer that is NOT interested in doing more with less :) 

  2. Minimising disruption  Don’t you hate it when a message pops up while you are in the middle of doing something on your computer or when you get an email form IT asking you to follow some instructions to do something? We are helping customers make this a thing of the past. The result is a much more personalized experience, we know what you have and where you are right now, and we don’t have to bother you with the technical details. 

  3. Robust Asset Discovery – knowing who has what, when it was purchased, if it is still under warranty, what problems happen to you frequently and where that asset is right now so we can immediately access it to help you, is what this is all about. What it also means, is that when audits happens you don’t need to waste weeks searching for everything and reconciling dozens of spreadsheets with stale data. 

  4. Protecting you from known vulnerabilities – patching devices no matter where they are is becoming a must and soon patching of everything must be done within 48 hours once a vulnerability is published by the software vendor. How do you stack up in your ability to do this? 

  5. Resolving problems before you report them – “Please log an IT ticket” is something our customers’ users are getting sick and tired of being told to do; what about you? We are very excited to show you a Next Gen approach to how IT tickets are raised. Please register for our upcoming webinar to find out more 

  6. Zero passwords  80% of all security breaches occur due to compromised credentials on sure way to gain control is to minimise the need for passwords. This is a paradigm shift and the reason why the zero trust methodology will gradually be adopted.  

De-mystifying Microsoft Licensing

One of the most common complaints we hear from businesses regarding their licensing is: it’s so complicated!  It’s not surprising.  A quick Google search for “M365 Licensing” brings up literally hundreds of summaries and explanations – some of the contradictory, and many of them as complex as the licensing itself!

Our specialists are charged with understanding all the intricacies of Microsoft Licensing and Azure Consumption, with the sole purpose of helping businesses like yours save money, control access and usage and optimise their Microsoft spend. 

In addition, we have created the Fusion5 Marketplace, which is a self-service portal that allows you to manage your licensing requirements, in real-time, giving you total control over your Microsoft Licensing spend.  There are always specialists on hand to provide advice – especially in cases where you might qualify for bundled discounts, or there are savings you could make by taking advantage of as yet unpublished structures and offers.

To date we have saved our customers over $2 million in licensing fees. If you feel your current Microsoft EA / CSP supplier or POR (partner of record) is not adding value when it comes to optimizing your Microsoft Licensing, you can find out more about how Fusion5 looks after its customers on our website, or feel free to drop me a line – I’m happy to have an initial, confidential chat about any concerns you might have.

Unlock maximum Ivanti value – Free Health Check

There’s nothing worse than paying for something you’re not using, or not realising there is far greater benefit you could be getting for your investment!

We’re offering you FREE Ivanti Health Checks throughout 2021. Quick wins realised by those who have already taken up these offer include:

Mobile self service – there are several new features for a better user experience, these include more robust landing pages and simplified navigationUsers can submit issues and approve requests from their mobile phones without having to check emails, how easy is that! 

Mobile analyst – there are several new features to allow IT folks to fix issues and complete tasks will they are on the go.  

Microsoft Teams Bot – your users can just use Teams to speak to IT, they can report an issue, check status of a ticket or ask to chat to a human agent too! All without having to go to the self service portal, sound like something you would love in your organisation? 

HR, Facilities and SecOps  packages are available for download from the Ivanti MarketPlace. If you still interact with your business services, facilities, Human Resources and Payroll through emails and SharePoint sites, this pre-configured content will allow you to have everything run smoothly on a single ticketing platform. Get faster responses and single employee portal to go to for everything! 

 Non-windows applications and devices – Did you know you can discover, secure and manage all your IT assets in one place?  

Product Catalogue  Add-On – Our customers are thrilled when we share with them this new add-on that plugs into their exiting service catalogue. It makes everything easier, quicker and more transparent.  Any assets can be ordered through this product catalogue even non-IT work related assets. 

Non-windows applications and devices – Did you know you can discover, secure and manage all your IT assets in one place? Is pushing out software and patching it not running as smoothly as it should? Well let us do a health check for you :) 

Mobility & Zero Trust    Your mobile phone and tablets needs a refresh? You finding that your users are connecting them to in-secure WiFi’s at home without VPN? MobileIron is now part of the Ivanti portfolio, let us have a chat about your Mobile Device Management strategy, drop me a line. 

In addition to these wins, many customers have unearthed valuable insights into other IT PMO projects they have on the go. Especially non-service desk related projects. The are delighted to know we have amazing M365, cyber-security, Azure and identity management and automation resources that they can easily access through our PartnerPlus program. 

The best part is – you don’t need to do anything, so your time isn’t taken up! Once you arrange access, we’ll do the rest, then provide you with a full report on the efficacy of your:

  • Ivanti Service + Asset Manager (SaaS + On Premise)
  • Ivanti Xtraction
  • Ivanti Voice
  • Ivanti Endpoint Manager
  • Ivanti Identity and Automation
  • Ivanti Neurons
  • Ivanti Security Controls

Simply contact our practice manager Gellu Brotan  to arrange your free health check and get a prioritised list of recommendations. 

 

Ivanti named Leader by Gartner for IT Service Management Tools – what this means for you

With so much at stake around reputation, loss of revenue through cyber-attacks or inaccessibility of systems, knowing that you are working with partners that are highly rated in the industry, can help give you (and your stakeholders) a sense of security – a feeling that you’re in safe hands.

In October 2020 Gartner released their latest magic quadrant and Ivanti has rightfully claimed a stake in the leader’s quadrant. For years Ivanti has been a challenger and smart buyers saw the unique value proposition back then, it great to see that Ivanti is now a confirmed preferred ITSM solution.

If you’re wanting to know more about how Ivanti can help you and your business, I’m happy to chat, or, if you’re already convinced and are trying to sway a decision maker, I suggest forwarding them a copy of the Gartner Report!

Time

Passion for Hyper-Automation

 

As the General Manager for our Enterprise Services practice, I see businesses struggle with delivering and supporting technical services to their users, customers, and employees all the time. I see their budgets getting slashed, I see them outsource when projects fail and I see them wanting to take back control after a breaches or serious incident occurs.

IT should not purely be perceived as a cost center or a compliance overhead, we have innovative ways to help you start changing this paradigm in your organisation. 

IT and security can really empower your business to stay safe, connected and efficient - if you get it right. This is my passion. Bringing these two worlds together and demonstrating how hyper-automation in Managed Services, IT and security can deliver real business value while positively impacting your bottom line and productivity.

Hyper-automation empowers you to automate nearly any repetitive task that business users execute, but then it takes things to the next level by automating the automation! With the right tools in place, they will start dynamically identifying business processes ripe for automation, then create bots that will make it happen.  The outcome is simplified experiences for users which make them happier and more efficient, safer and more secure systems that are free from the perils of ‘human error’, and more time freed up for IT to focus on big picture projects that make business owners happy!

My team’s motto is “making things simple”. We love taking complex ecosystems, concepts, requirements, and technologies, breaking them down to their core purpose, then helping you to re-connect them in meaningful ways, that benefit your team, your stakeholders, and your business.  This includes everything from device management, cyber security, identify management, patch management, moving systems to the cloud and more!

I’m not kidding – hyper-automation really inspires me as I believe wholeheartedly it is key to delivering successful IT services to business.  If you want to know more, or simply want to have a genuinely geeky IT heart to hear about the virtues (or pitfalls?!) of hyper-automation, drop me a line.

ITSM and CRM, ‘same same but different’? 

We have seen an influx of activity around customer experience and support, many organisations are trying to see if they can consolidate systems, or at least evaluate their options. The premise of this line of thinking is that both methodologies seek a better user experience and a 360 degree view of the customer (or user), now whether that user is internal (employee) or external (customer/consumer) these lines are being blurred. 

 

Of course it depends what industry you are in but at the core of it the success criteria are very similar:

 

  1. Ability to support your users with an omni-channel model
  1. Ability to support your users and service them regardless of where they are geographically
  1. Ability to execute securely and reliably and automate the processes as much as possible (an example of this is an online service catalogue and/or a product catalogue).
  1. Your organisation offers and supports a range of products and services, these services can be consumed by different audiences and can have different service level agreements by product or service.
  1. Proactive problem or case management, having analytics to identify issues before they occur.
  1. A modern and easy user experience is paramount
  1. Solutions that offer a low code platform are highly desirable

The list above can easily be found in the functional requirements of either a CRM or ITSM project. So in a lot of ways ITSM and CRM are the same but things start to diverge and require specialised core functions when one of three things surface:

1. Seeking mature and modern sales and marketing functions:

For this you need a robust Customer Experience & Collaboration loop, ideally you also need end-to-end flows to/from other core applications (connected by Power Apps perhaps), it is all about your customers’ journey. This level of transparency may not be required to support ALL IT functions and processes, also as your IT level of maturity increases your ITSM needs will growth and will inevitably need a home of their own, a single source of truth, outside of the CRM boundaries. 

Good CRM platforms and end to end discussions inevitably lead to e-commerce and ERP discussions that also involve finance systems, which figuratively speaking can open up a can of worms if un-anticipated or if you currently have legacy systems or heavily customised systems. 

This is to be expected, because here you are looking at modernising how you do business in the front office processes, close to your customers, however, the back office processes will absolutely need to be transformed and modernised too to achieve maximum synergy. Back office is all about your ability to execute and deliver promptly, otherwise the customer may not come back. 

The Fusion5 Customer Engagement and Relationship Management team have a long list of successful Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM implementations, and more than a few accolades to boot. If you need an informed opinion to help, reach out to them from their page on the Fusion5 website.

2. You seek mature and modern sales and marketing functions:

Managed services have an extremely complex and dense ecosystem behind the scenes, it is not an easy feat trying to hide the complexities from your customers or markets you are targeting, how can you be successful and ‘sell’ to your customers effectively and more importantly with a minimum cost of goods or services (to your organisation)?

There are a lot of risks in this sector there are many rules, regulations, humans, bots, software, hardware and infrastructure entities involved. This makes it a no brainer to adopt ITIL, ISO and IAITAM methodologies, these are well established practices on how to optimally run technical services and manage / support physical and virtual assets from procurement to disposal. Typically CRM systems have no such context and require heavy customisation to try to fit these models.

One interesting model is Service Integration and Management (SIAM) which makes sense to organisations that work with a large number of partners and suppliers to deliver their products and services for their users / customers. The fundamental principle of this model is that your organisation should be able to transition partners and suppliers in and out at will with minimum disruption to operations.

We envisage a shift to adopting this methodology over the next couple of years and some market disruptions will also follow as there are not many software vendors out there that are aligned to this methodology in their technology platforms out of the box, in some cases complete code re-writes / implementations will be necessary.

3. An appetite for a best of breed approach exists or eventuates:

 

Your IT infrastructure should be like a large orchestra with many talented individual musicians, the best of the best, playing together in synergy in every performance, time after time. All your applications, each with their core capabilities and business outcomes, can be connected as necessary to achieve the same effect, with minimal friction as your organisation does business and grows.

If you are in an industry that requires mature IT service and asset management capabilities it makes sense to NOT merge your CRM and ITSM practices and platforms, instead select the best (in context of your requirements and needs) of both worlds plus a business partner that understands what you are trying to achieve, to give your organisation that end-to-end capability. This will positively affect your bottom line, ability to execute and business agility, which in turn gives you better control and minimises your operational risk. 

There is another noteworthy point to consider in this scenario: single platform vendors are great and have numerous benefits but such platforms take years to mature to truly offer the breadth of capabilities niche vendors offer. It is easy to get lost or feel like you have to choose one platform over another. A best of breed approach keeps your options open, indefinitely. If you pre-maturely go ‘all-in’ on a single platform, vendor lock-in can become a real risk and can easily become more expensive and less flexible than a best of breed approach.

How To: Build a Business Case, Prove ROI or conduct TCO analysis

Have you got some big audacious goals for your IT Team and business for 2021, but are struggling to pull together a business case that your Management Team will approve? Or perhaps you’re trying to prove ROI for a proposed investment, or need some help rationalizing the Total Cost of Ownership?

Meet Chris Haggerty – a Unified IT Specialist who has been helping IT Professionals make informed decisions and achieve desired business outcomes for many years.  Extremely business-focused and an advocate for your success, he will help you start the right conversations and work with you to map out optimal solutions that meet your needs, and fit with the budgets you have to work with.

Chris speaks your language, he knows it is all about RISK, COST and CONTROL so just drop him a line and start a conversation.

Webinar: How to resolve 80% of issues before users report them

As you might have guessed, the answer has something to do with…hyper-automation! Ivanti Neurons is a hyper-automation platform that will empower you to:

 

  • connect all your cloud and on premise IT and security tools together 
  • efficiently discover, manage and secure company devices (no matter where they are!)
  • meet and support the IT expectations of a multi-generational remote work-force
  • mitigate security risks with early intervention and continuous vulnerability management.
  • and of course, enable you to resolve 80% of IT issues before users even report them!

Join us to learn how Ivanti Neurons (which can be rolled out in less than one week, FYI!) could help you and your team be heroes for your business.

Ivanti Webinar Series - 23 March

How to resolve 80% of issues before users report them

Register now