Cloud consultancy – what does it actually deliver? [Q&A]

Daisy Cloud Consultancy

We put David Robinson, Lead Architect for Modern Workplace, in our Cloud Architecture and Delivery Team, on the spot to explain the whys and wherefores of cloud consultancy.

Who are you?

I am David Robinson, a Lead Architect at Daisy specialising in Modern Workplace Technology and Solutions. I have worked as an IT Architect at Daisy for over 10 years, leading the design and delivery of customer IT transformation and transition projects. These include dedicated, private cloud, hybrid cloud and cloud only platforms to provide server and end user desktop hosting, enterprise applications and configuration, backup and data protection, high availability and resilience, IT compliance and security and end user device management.

What has prompted Daisy to launch some packaged cloud consultancy services?

We work with many organisations, from all types of industries and while every single one of them is unique, there are commonalities in infrastructure, in their objectives and in the challenges they face.

Because we have been designing, implementing and managing cloud infrastructure from before the days it was called “cloud”, we have extensive knowledge and experience to apply. We’re able to deliver a framework to evaluate an organisation’s current environment and recommend the right path to achieve what they need.

Is there much need for consultancy in mid-market organisations?

Yes, and enterprise organisations too in fact. Especially with COVID-19 forcing new ways of working, we’ve seen an uptake in cloud adoption and organisations want to be sure they are making the right choices based on solid analysis and best practice, so that they reduce the risks associated with cloud environments.

What is really interesting is the number of organisations who have already embraced the cloud (in its various forms) but are not seeing the results they expected. In some cases, because services were mis-sold or misunderstood and in others because of the speed in which decisions needed to be made. We’re being approached by organisations who are now at the stage where they can take stock and with our help, make positive changes to maximise their cloud investments and start to see the results that they were expecting.

We’re also finding that people are fed up of hearing that cloud is the future and what they really need is help understanding what’s right for them. We’ve produced guides and FAQs and lots of collateral but sometimes, you just need to sit down with a client and listen. That’s where having a company like Daisy to talk to can really help.

Is the cloud right for everybody?

No, not necessarily. There are loads of businesses that run critical infrastructure on legacy technology or work in an environment where they need to closely control their data, who has access, where it is stored and so on. But there are different types of cloud and ways to embrace cloud advantages but still retain on premise control.

There is still the need to assess and understand an organisations compliance and security requirements, there is still the need to understand the cost of cloud and there is still the need to understand the performance requirements of the applications and solutions that are to be hosted in the cloud. Modern cloud environments are evolving constantly with solutions that address all these concerns and, in most use cases, the benefits of cloud can be realised, with Daisy’s help.

Your latest consultancy packages are around Microsoft 365. Why do organisations need help with that?

Microsoft 365 (M365) is a suite of cloud productivity services and applications from Microsoft, that also combines these capabilities with managed Identity, Windows Desktop, End User Device (EUD) Management, Security, Compliance and Service Management. M365 solutions are designed for both small and medium sized businesses and extend to providing productivity, management and security for the Enterprise. The adoption, configuration, and on-going management of M365 is a complex set of activities and components and this is where the consultancy packages from Daisy can deliver real value, using the extensive experience that Daisy has in designing and implementing Microsoft 365.

Microsoft 365 Adoption Assessment

Our Microsoft 365 Adoption Assessment is designed to help customers get the most out of the technology, as there’s a lot it can do to help fit in with your existing environment and the way you want to use it. Customers may want certain features but not know what pre-requisites are required to turn those features on, such as the correct licensing and some underlying technology to support the Microsoft 365 services.

For example, a customer might want to implement self-service password resets (SSPR) so that users can go to a Microsoft 365 portal and reset their own forgotten password based on security questions. But to make this work, they need to have a certain hybrid identity configuration in place and the technology that supports that (Azure Active Directory Connect) needs to be a certain version and have certain options selected. Our report will highlight this and suggest best practice recommendations for enabling most of the juicy features that Microsoft 365 offers.

Our consultancy assessment enables us to have conversations with the customer, identify traditional methods they are using for laptop builds (as another example). Where traditionally this may be the system centre configuration manager (SCCM) from Microsoft, now the report will look at how SCCM will coexist with the likes of Autopilot and Intune (with new Microsoft 365 features). Customers may not realise how SCCM and autopilot can coexist or what licensing requirements are needed to make use of these features.

We are really just doing a current state assessment and providing the customer with a report and roadmap of what they could have moving towards cloud and Microsoft 365 and how they can best get there (at a high level).

Why can customers not just buy the Microsoft 365 licences and away they go?

They could of course do it themselves, but Daisy offers the expertise to ensure the pre-requisites and enablers are in place and configured correctly so that Microsoft 365 works the way they need it to work and that it co-exists with their existing traditional on-premise technologies.

We leverage our blueprints and standard designs to influence the configuration setup and our experience of making the most out of Microsoft 365 and cloud services, is built into the blueprints and standards, therefore we already know how to make things work.

Market research as well as the interest in our services, tells us that there are a lot of organisations out there who are not making the most of the Microsoft 365 features available to them. We can provide sound guidance on how and what the customer requires to achieve what they need to, from using the technology.

Some organisations may well have the time and expertise to do it themselves, which is great. One thing that they need to make sure they get right, is the security. Cloud based solutions, such as Microsoft 365 have introduced the need for security and IT teams to re-think how they control and manage the new risks that using this technology presents.

Microsoft 365 Security Assessment

Our Microsoft 365 Security assessment is designed to help the customer understand the risk posture that is associated with their existing or new implementation of Microsoft 365. The assessment, which covers Microsoft 365, identity, applications, information and devices, will review a businesses security requirements to identify where there are existing security and compliance risks.

Microsoft provide a suite of security solutions to address these risks. However, it is often the case that these are not being used effectively and therefore environments could be exposed to threats.

For many organisations, the rush to cloud-based solutions for collaboration and information sharing, has resulted in the potential exploitation of that information. The changes that are required to maintain security control have not been realised or could be significantly improved to remove the threats.

Working with a provider such as Daisy, who has the relevant expertise to manage and consult on Microsoft 365 security, ensures those organisations can meet their security requirements to protect their assets and business.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The thing I love the most about my job is that I’m always learning. There is constant evolution in the technology industry and there is always something new that I can begin to understand and then start to master. My drive to learn more and to update my skills and knowledge has stood me in good stead, and the support from Daisy in that quest has been invaluable. Of course, it really goes without saying, the Daisy team is also second-to-none. The level of expertise within the team and the desire to do the right thing for the customer all contribute to making the job so rewarding.

About the author

David has worked in the IT industry for more than 20 years, beginning his IT career with a multinational technology corporation and in a first line support role, developing his career through project delivery, and then as an IT Architect.  

David now heads up the modern workplace function of Cloud Solution Delivery as a Lead Architect, where he also mentors Solution Architects that are responsible for the design and delivery of modern workplace solutions.