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Going digital to grow your business  

Going digital to grow your business  

Digital TransformationExpert VoiceStrategyTop Stories

Today, businesses are more dependent on technology than ever. Digital Transformation is at the forefront of CIOs’ minds and companies are having to digitalise to meet increasing consumer demands. Experts from DH2i, StorCentric and PDI Software offer their insights into the technologies that SMEs should consider enabling their digitalisation goals for the year ahead. 

Worldwide IT spending is projected to total US$4.5 trillion in 2022, an increase of 5.1% from 2021, according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc.  

Despite the potential impacts of the Omicron variant, economic recovery with high expectations for digital market prosperity will continue to boost technology investments. 

“2022 is the year that the future returns for the CIO,” said John-David Lovelock, Research Vice President at Gartner. “They are now in a position to move beyond the critical, short-term projects over the past two years and focus on the long term. Simultaneously, staff skills gaps, wage inflation and the war for talent will push CIOs to rely more on consultancies and managed service firms to pursue their digital strategies.” 

We hear from three industry experts who provide further insight into how digitalisation goals can be achieved in 2022…  

Don Boxley, CEO and Co-founder, DH2i  

In 2022, SMEs can best achieve their Digital Transformation goals by leveraging Kubernetes and software-defined perimeter (SDP) enhanced stateful containers to make multi-cloud their architectural standard for deploying containers. 

Why? SMEs get the vision of multi-cloud – the ability to use workloads across different clouds based on the type of cloud that best fits the workload. But this vision has typically depended on a VPN to connect multiple cloud environments. That’s a problem because traditional VPN software solutions are obsolete for the new IT reality of hybrid and multi-cloud. They weren’t designed for them. They’re complex to configure and they expose ‘slices of the network,’ creating a lateral network attack surface. 

In 2022, SMEs will look to a new class of containers with integrated SDP security to eliminate these issues and disrupt the current deployment model for multi-cloud. This new SDP-enhanced container will enable SMEs to build smart endpoint multi-cloud container environments that can seamlessly span clouds without the added costs and complexities of a VPN and with virtually no attack surface. The combination of Kubernetes and SDP-enhanced containers will enable SMEs to build multi-cloud Kubernetes clusters with unparalleled portability. This new multi-cloud deployment standard will make it easy for SMEs to switch from one public cloud vendor to another. 

This will be particularly true for the stateful database container use case. With SDP-enhanced database containers, SMEs will be able to achieve database-level high availability (HA) and Disaster Recovery (DR) with automatic failover in Kubernetes. This will enable them to deploy stateful containers to create new and innovative applications while also improving operations with near-zero RTO to more efficiently deliver better products and services at a lower cost. 

Surya Varanasi, CTO, StorCentric 

Massive data growth combined with significant changes in the way we work today and a rapid rise in cybercrime has driven increased challenges for SME IT managers. In 2022, it will be critical to respond to these demands and to pursue and achieve Digital Transformation strategies that enable SMEs to store, manage and protect data at scale. The best way to do this will be to start with the right data storage foundation.  

To start, SMEs need to seek a data storage foundation that enables them to support a mix of workloads. The storage should allow for flexible configurations and simplified expansion to meet a wide variety of capacity and performance requirements. Next, SMEs should seek a solution that provides multi-protocol support. Certainly, at a minimum, the storage must support block (iSCSI, FC) and file (NFS, CIFS/SMB). However, given the increasing SME desire to run cloud-native applications, backup and restore critical data, as well as archive data in the cloud, S3 object storage support has become a must-have as well.  
 
Today’s Digital Transformation strategies would be remiss if data protection and business continuity were not at the top of the list of considerations as well. This is especially true in an era when SME IT managers are not just concerned with equipment malfunction, but also insider threats and external cybercriminal activity, such as ransomware attacks. So, capabilities such as immutable volume and file system snapshots that deliver secure point-in-time copies; object locking in a bucket or object-level protection for specified retention periods; and pool-scrubbing to detect and remediate bit rot and data corruption are essential. 

Mark Carl, Chief Security Officer, PDI Software  

Any Digital Transformation journey is tied directly to cybersecurity. In 2020 and 2021, SME convenience retailers learned first-hand how Digital Transformation could help them thrive, even during the largest economic disruption of the century. Those that had already embraced Digital Transformation were able to adapt on the fly and manage the rapidly changing market dynamics. 

These retailers had the agility to move wherever consumers (and suppliers) wanted to go. But that technology investment has only escalated the urgency to protect the digital infrastructure and all the valuable data that drives c-store success. 

As retailers grow increasingly dependent on data-fuelled insights to power their offers, promotions, and loyalty programmes, cybersecurity will be even more critical in 2022. Unfortunately, the proliferation of ransomware will also continue to be a serious threat. 

That’s because a lot of the rapid technology adoption during the pandemic forced retailers to make trade-offs with cybersecurity, and now those bills are coming due. Convenience retail has been one of the industries hit hardest by ransomware attacks. The highly distributed business model, numerous endpoints connected to the Internet and a relative lack of onsite IT staff have combined to make c-store chains a prime target. 

The good news is that if you know a ransomware threat looms on the horizon, you can at least prepare for it – even if you can’t necessarily prevent it. Here are four key things to know: 

  1. If you’re using anti-virus tools, that’s good – but they’re no match for today’s sophisticated cyberthreats. 
  1. If you’re subject to industry regulations and compliance mandates like PCI, you simply can’t afford a data breach. 
  1. If you don’t have 24/7/365 coverage, your business isn’t adequately protected. 
  1. If you don’t have in-house cybersecurity resources or expertise, you need ways to supplement your efforts. 

You can fight back by working to prevent an attack and implementing the tools to detect potential threats and respond to them in real-time before they impact your business. In many cases, it might make good business sense to outsource your cybersecurity efforts. 

Doing so can give you access to the latest security tools and around-the-clock monitoring from a team of cybersecurity experts – freeing you up to focus on what you do best. After all, your Digital Transformation journey will only be as successful as your cybersecurity strategy. 

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