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Craig Aston Celerity Cloud Expo Europe 2020

Craig Aston Celerity Cloud Expo Europe 2020

NAYOKA OWARE [00:00:09] Hello and welcome to the London Tech Show 2020 by CloserStill Media right here at Excel London. I’m Nayoka Oware Worry and I’m joined by my co-host.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:00:18] Hello, I’m Andrew McLean and we are joined here by the cool, calm, collected cloud and cyber security celebrity from Celerity Craig. Welcome.

CRAIG ASTON [00:00:32] Thank you Andrew.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:00:35] And you are the COO at Celerity.

CRAIG ASTON [00:00:39] That’s right.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:00:40] But you’ve just won an award as well.

CRAIG ASTON [00:00:42] I did win an award last year for a CFO more than a CFO of the year.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:00:45] So you’re a man of many, many skills.

CRAIG ASTON [00:00:47] I’m a man of many roles, certainly.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:00:50] So just for the sake of the audience who don’t know, I mean, there won’t be many, but that don’t know. But tell us who you are, who Celerity are and what you actually do.

CRAIG ASTON [00:00:59] OK, so Celerity, we’re a northern based reseller and MSP. Came out of supplying large enterprises with big pieces of infrastructure. And we’re now moving more into managed services on the data protection side and also around cyber security. Big customers in the public and the private sector. We’re a trusted pair of hands. We do what we say we’ll do and particularly important in protecting your data on cyber security.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:01:26] Thanks for that Craig, thank you. Do you think that organisations are transforming their IT quick enough to support digital transformations?

CRAIG ASTON [00:01:34] Absolutely not. No. Digital transformation is on everybody’s agenda. Data is the new oil, as everybody says. And actually learning how to use that data and the digital transformation journey that everybody’s on to actually be able to do that. The the IT in the background needs to keep up, particularly with organisations moving to cloud as well. Actually transforming what’s there is as important as building the new stuff because you’ve got to keep the business running while you’re trying to transform. Digital transformation is hard. It’s really hard. And organizations all over the place are finding it hard. We’re finding it hard. It is it’s a difficult thing to do. But in order to do that, you’ve got to transform the base IT so you can get to the data, organise the data, protect the data, find the data, and then use the data to develop to deliver the digital transformation outcomes that you’re looking.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:02:26] You talk about digital transmission being hard. Can you share with us one of the challenges you faced?

CRAIG ASTON [00:02:31] Oh the challenges to digital transformation? People, finding people who are who are actually able to do it. And people then leads to culture, trying to digitally transform a business and taking people who’ve been working in the same way for 20, 20 odd years and getting them to transform and become a digital business is hugely difficult. Getting boards to actually invest in it, invest properly because it does a lot of the time it actually takes big investments to see somewhat small, small benefits. But my view is if if businesses don’t digitally transform, they’re not going to be here in in a small number of years. If you, the best example ever was Kodak. Kodak, who who invented the digital camera and then put it away in a drawer. And then while everybody else was doing it, they they effectively died. So the challenges are challenges are like any transformation project, but multiplied because it’s harder to find the people and it costs a lot of money.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:03:28] If your client is resistant to change, is there a specific strategy you use? Can you tell us what that is?

CRAIG ASTON [00:03:34] Shock, I think is one of the one of the things you use. You have to you have to paint the picture as to what would happen if they don’t transform properly. I think it then moves from shock into into painting the picture and showing the journey and kind of kind of selling the dream. What does this really look like? What are the big benefits that can come if you do digitally transform properly? Case studies are always really, really useful. Other organisations and a lot of time they don’t have to be ones that you’ve done. It’s just showing you’ve got the expertise by looking in the market at businesses that have transformed. And it’s yeah it’s just trying to get them to get on the journey. Sometimes one of the hardest parts of getting organisations to start. Actually that first step and actually starting to commit to a plan is one of the biggest things. And the plan has to be agile. You you will probably end up doing something quite different at the end to what you thought you were going to do in the first place. Because as you’re doing it, you’ve got to you’ve got to keep changing the plan.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:04:32] It’s it’s, I was I was speaking one of your colleagues who was on one of our shows, Dave Taylor, and the guy has the most awesome beard I’ve ever seen.

CRAIG ASTON [00:04:44] He does have a good beard.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:04:45] He gives Brian Blessed Blessed, a run for his money. I mean, he is great. And he was he was talking about digital transformation. But I asked this question. I’m gonna ask you the same question. We’re, part of this show we are at today, Techerati, Tech London is Cloud Expo Europe. And cloud was a very interesting thing six, seven years ago. Nobody knew what it was, but everybody wanted to be involved with it. Now it’s kind of matured now. Do you think that part of the issue that people have with this digital transformation is that there isn’t really a definition of what that is. Everybody knows they have to be involved in it, but no ones entirely sure.

CRAIG ASTON [00:05:18] That’s exactly true it’s absolutely right. And it can mean it can mean different things to different organizations. And you’re right, cloud is exactly the same cloud can mean anything from paying by paying on a utility model to having a fast, agile deployment model for your applications. And it’s anywhere in between. I think you’re right. Digital transformation is the same. And it does depend on your business. If I look at how our market, how our digital transformation will work as an IT business and as a service provider would be very different to how, for example, your business would work go where it’s a media business. And that would be very different then again to a retail business.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:05:56] The voice the voice is interrupting us. It’s interesting because when we started when we started Disruptive, we kinda had the angle that we were able to go directly to everything tech. Because we weren’t coming from anything legacy. But the more companies I speak to, the more I realised that there is so much legacy and it’s not a bad thing, but it’s so ingrained in the companies and it’s an incredibly difficult thing to get your head around. I mean, you’ve got people that got data centres with servers on, I don’t know if it was you that told me this story, but there was data centres. And they’ve got servers on and they don’t actually know what these servers do.

CRAIG ASTON [00:06:38] It’s absolutely true that that’s that’s the same all over the place. I think there’s a there’s an absolute acceptance now that hybrid cloud or multi-cloud are where we are. It’s not going to actually happen whereby everything can move to the cloud. There’s a there’s an acceptance that about 20 to 25 percent of of workloads have now moved to the cloud and that will continue. But there will be a level where it stops just because it’s either too hard or too expensive and uneconomic to do it. And also, there are you’re starting to see workloads coming back from the public cloud into private cloud. And on premise solutions, which I dont think I don’t think anybody probably thought would happen quickly. It’s all gonna go to the cloud. And and it’s actually just it’s it’s not working like that. I think from Celerity’s point of view we’ve said that for a long time. We have actually had that hybrid cloud message right from the start. The next bit that’s interesting is managing the cloud and managing all that data that is in the various clouds that you’ve got there. And that’s managing and securing that. And actually, yeah, as you said, not knowing what your servers are doing, that’s one thing. Not knowing where your data is in the cloud and whether you can get it back on, whether it’s secure is another thing completely. And that that gets into GDPR and all the difficulties of data protection and data security. It’s it’s a it’s a minefield and it’s difficult. And from our point of view, it’s quite good that it’s difficult because we need organizations to understand that you need expertise in this. And this is where we’ve got expertise. But you’ve also got the big vendors are there as well. So if you look at what IBM did, buying Redhat, very sensible move, I would say paid a lot of money for it, but it as a multi-cloud management platform, as a Linux platform. It’s up there with the best. So it’s making them relevant in that multi-cloud area. And I think trying to stay relevant for these big IT vendors, it’s incredibly difficult and they are diverging and they’re starting to go in different directions, which is it’s gonna be an interesting few years, I think, from that.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:08:37] Well, let’s just use a scenario, right? So I run a company, let’s let’s say a Daniels’ fruit and veg, something like that. And I’ve got all these these systems and ordering systems and things all over the place. This is been going of 20 years. I’ve had different people coming in, different IT people, different marketing people. And it’s all over the place. GDPR just come in and I phone up. I say Craig Craig. I don’t know how secure this stuff is. I have no idea. I know I need to transform and I need to put I need to be selling my my vegetables online. But how do I go about even starting?

CRAIG ASTON [00:09:17] Take some quick wins I think will be the first thing. Look at look at your staff, look at your staff and whether they understand how to keep data secure. One of the things we do is a managed phishing service and that will be where it will actually fire fake phishing emails to the staff and see what they do. And then you can you can have reports based on how they actually actually react to those phishing emails and that then can lead to education. So you can actually educate your staff to be able to do that.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:09:43] Come on. Come on. So you see, you you’ve gone with the management and you’ve set up this system whereby you’ve got phishing emails and you’re going to send them out the staff. What’s happened? I just want to know like well how, how have most companies kind of.

CRAIG ASTON [00:09:56] They they they react well actually because it’s very quickly turned from this is an exercise we’ve done into and we’re going to educate you and actually the big thing about that is you’re not only educating them in their business life, you’re actually educating them in their personal life as well, because you’re you’re showing them what to look for. The funnier ones are when the CEO opens the mails.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:10:18] I was going to ask that, I was going to ask that.

CRAIG ASTON [00:10:20] Because they’re always set up where the people who know this is happening is very small. It’s normally it’s normally either IT or compliance and they don’t tell anyone. And then this goes out and happens. We do it ourselves. We absolutely do it ourselves. And and and yeah, I’ll admit I got caught by one. I absolutely got caught by one. And it’s and it’s it’s dead easy to be to be actually caught by one of these things. I think other quick wins in there. If you look at actually perimeter security, just looking at what’s actually trying to get in, there are solutions you can put in place where you can buy a service. So you just see whether people are trying to attack you. And that’s one thing. The other side of it is actually thinking when, not if. So actually accept that you are going to be attacked at some point and making sure you have a plan in place and robust procedures to be able to get to get your data back. And that’s more around backing up your data and making sure it’s backed up in such a way that it’s clean. And then you’ve got a clean copy that you can then at least go back to so you don’t you don’t lose everything. That’s a that’s becoming a bigger and bigger area. And and actually what’s called air gap, where you where you actually have a completely separate system which you backup to on a less regular basis, it gives you a point where you can go back to. And then the point is you need to be able to go back to somewhere to start again. It’s going to become bigger and bigger.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:11:40] I’ve just got one more question and I’ll give you back to Nayoka. Yeah you’ve been using this hashtag, see I am cool down with the kids. You’ve been using the hashtag when not if. Which is cool. Now GDPR has kind of come along and more and more people are saying, you know, we have to notify but but data breaches that necessarily data getting lost. Sometimes it’s some that the printer machine or some stupid can get hacked or be infiltrated. But what I’ve always wanted to know is whether the reality of what you see on the news, which is, oh, this company’s kind of had a problem and this company’s kind of problem, but it’s like one every two days. Or actually do most companies that have security problems at least once in their lives.

CRAIG ASTON [00:12:28] I think. I think a lot of a lot of employees have problems. There’s a there’s a really horrible stat around for small, medium businesses. Over 50 percent of them go out of business in the year following an attack. Which is which is a real chastening thought. So I think I think a lot of organisations do get hit. I think there are many organisations who don’t even know that they’ve been hit. The the ICO from the GDPR point of view is certainly showing its teeth, but it tends to be showing its teeth at the higher end. I think the biggest, biggest problem here is, is small and  medium businesses and the ransomware. So the ransomware around, I think there’s a lot of organisations who are getting hit paying the ransomware, and just nobody nobody ever gets told. We know we know of customers we’ve had where they get hit. And the only way they can get their business back but running is to actually pay the ransomware. And it’s it’s highly sophisticated, scary, really really scary stuff.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:13:31] Craig, finally, what is Celerity’s focus for 2020?

CRAIG ASTON [00:13:34] Our focus to 2020. We’re looking at we’re looking at technical debt is what we’re looking at this year. And it feeds into the digital transformation being supported by IT transformation. What do we mean by technical debt? We mean there are any number of businesses who have spent years not spending on their old technology because they’ve naturally assumed they’re going to move to cloud and they’re now actually looking at it and going, actually this is either too hard or it’s going to cost us too much. And therefore, we’re going to have to go and look at some of these older technologies in order to support that technical transformation. That’s that’s a big focus for us this year. And it’s trying to strive to advise customers on the best way to do this in the multi-cloud world, because you have a bunch of different answers. And it’s it’s not easy for organisations that aren’t used to looking at IT to actually be able to answer these questions. So so that’s a massive focus for us this year, trying to trying to help our customers get to the stage where they can digitally transform and they can use the real the real power of digital transformation.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:14:37] Thank you, Craig. Thank you for your time.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:14:39] Thank you, Craig. Much appreciated for you coming here to the studio. And thank you for joining us.

CRAIG ASTON [00:14:45] Thank you, Andrew. Pleasure, as always.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:14:47] Thank you very much. Until next time.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:14:49] Thank you so much for watching us during the London Tech Show, we appreciate your support.