Insight Acquires Veeam Software

Insight Partners announced earlier this week that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Veeam Software, one of the leaders in Backup solutions that deliver Cloud Data Management.

Under the ownership of Insight Partners, Veeam will become a U.S. company, with a U.S.-based leadership team, while continuing its global expansion from offices in 30 countries and with customers in over 160 countries.

Following an investment from Insight Partners at the beginning of 2019, the acquisition, which is expected to be closed in Q1 2020, will enable Veeam to accelerate its Act II (Veeam’s evolution into Hybrid Cloud), help the company expand into new markets and continue its growth trajectory whilst growing its share of the U.S. market

Veeam have reassured all partners that there will be no change in day to day operations and they are still 100% committed to those like TruStack.

Bill Largent, CEO, Veaam said ‘It’s business as usual, only now we will have a greater opportunity to ensure we continue to innovate and deliver the solutions and support you have come to expect from everyone at Veeam.’

TruStack Technical Pre-Sales Consultant, Ian Sanderson said ‘It’s quite interesting the takeover by Insight. Veeam being a Russian company meant they were locked out from a lot of US accounts due to their heritage. However, the buyout means that 2 of the Directors have stepped down and are being replaced with a new American board of Directors which will now enable them to get into certain accounts they couldn’t get into previously.

Veeam as we mentioned have communicated to the channel that it is business as normal, and we fully believe this.

However, what is interesting is that unlike other buyouts that we have seen, Insight are continuously investing money in Veeam and their products which can only be beneficial for both IT providers like TruStack, and end-users.’

Any questions, TruStack are happy to answer.

Extended Security Updates for Windows 7

As you will already know, Microsoft has now ended ongoing support for Windows 7, but many businesses are still running with this now outdated operating system.

For some, critical apps and legacy systems make updating Windows 7 near impossible. For others, budgets and planning have hampered migration before the 14th January 2020 End-of-Support deadline arrived.

You may have joined us on the webinar back in September when Ian Sanderson, Technical Pre-Sales Consultant ran through what considerations and options you had before the deadline in January.

These included recommendations such as Virtual Patching until the time was right to upgrade.
However, if you’re facing the prospect of continuing with Windows 7 without traditional support, Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) are here.

It is important to note that Windows 7 ESU includes security updates for critical and important issues only as defined by Microsoft Security Response Centre (MSRC) for a maximum of three years after January 14, 2020. There will not be an ESU offering or an extension of support for Office 2010.

Paid for on a per device basis, these updates are available to Windows 7 Pro, Enterprise, Ultimate and Education license holders.

Not only will you have the reassurance of continuing with supported devices, you’ll also give yourself the freedom to make the switch to Windows 10 at the right moment for you. We can of course help with this when the time is right.

For more information on End-of-Support you can watch the on-demand version of our webinar here, or read about it here.

ESU is only available until January 2023.

SD WAN in 4 Minutes…

Struggling to get your head around SD WAN? Don’t quite understand what benefits it can give to you and your business?

Why not watch our explainer video with Senior Network Consultant, Ross Phillips who will break it down into what you need to know.

Trend Micro Security Predictions for 2020

The year 2020 has seen a transition to a new decade. So has cybersecurity. Gone are the days of networks isolated behind a company firewall and a limited stack of enterprise applications.

The Trend Micro security predictions for 2020 reflect experts opinions and insights on current and emerging threats and technologies. The report paints a picture of a possible future landscape driven by technological advances and evolved threats to enable enterprises to make informed decisions on their cybersecurity posture in 2020 and beyond. The future looks complex, exposed, and misconfigured — but it is also defensible.

Download the PDF below to get an insight into cybersecurity 2020.

Trend Micro Security Predictions 2020

Top Tips for Office 365 Security and Availability

Have you already moved, thinking of moving, or currently migrating to O365 and unsure of what security precautions you should be taking? We run through the basics that all administrators should be implementing.

  1. Use multi-factor authentication. This is the best mitigation technique to use to protect against credential theft for O365 users. There are a number of different vendors that offer this, whether in the form of physical or virtual tokens.
  2. Enable unified audit logging in the Security and Compliance Centre. This will give you the ability to view activity per user across all 365 apps. 
  3. Ensure Azure AD password sync is planned for and configured correctly, prior to migrating users.
  4. Disable legacy email protocols, if not required, or limit their use to specific users. Legacy protocols do not support modern authentication methods with MFA. The protocols include IMAP, POP and SMTP. These protocols can be disabled tenancy wide or per user, if you need to use legacy protocols for certain users.
  5. Configure Conditional Access. This gives you the ability to block access from certain countries and enforce MFA etc. When studying audit logs, you will see most attacks come from certain countries. Is there ever a time any of your users need to access O365 from China or other well-known sources of attacks? If the answer is no then utilise conditional access to reduce the attack surface of O365.
  6. Implement Cloud App Security. When data is uploaded to the cloud how do you know its safe virus/malware free? With cloud app security data is scanned and can be quarantined reducing the risk of a user downloading an infected file. Without this level of protection, you are relying on perimeter security if the user is inside the corporate network, then endpoint security which is the last defence. We recommend a layered approach to security, adding multiple layers will increase the chances of a zero-day threat, and potentially stop a threat before it even enters your network.  
  7. Managed anti-spam. Not only does this reduce the volume of spam, malicious content etc, it can also give your employees access to emails if/when Office 365 goes down.

You can find more out about our services here.

TruStack Gives Tech Pledge to New Charity Partner

IT experts TruStack Ltd have pledged to fundraise over £7,000 to help parents with premature and sick babies, inspired by the cost of special software that keeps track of young ones’ progress.

The company, based in Cramlington, wants to raise £7,000 in the coming year for new charity partner The Tiny Lives Trust, who support the Neonatal Unit at Newcastle’s RVI Hospital.

That is the same amount that it costs annually to run vCreate, a secure video messaging service that allows clinical teams to send updates on children to their parents when they can’t be together.

The partnership between TruStack and Tiny Lives came about after the charity helped two of the company’s directors through difficult times.

Both Paul Watson and Russell Henderson were supported by Tiny Lives, and the pair have been wanting to pay the charity back ever since.

Paul’s daughter Niamh, now 18, spent over a month in the Neonatal Unit when she was born five weeks prematurely, weighing just 3lbs.

Dad-of-two Paul said: “I am so grateful to the charity for what they did for us back then, I can’t think of anyone better to support.

“They do vital work supporting people through the toughest of times and we want to help in any way we can.

“Being a company focused on IT, if we can raise as much money as it costs for them to use such a wonderful piece of technology, we will be very happy.”

Paul and Russell make up two of the six directors of TruStack, which provides a range of IT services for businesses across the North East and beyond.

These include cloud computing, infrastructure design and implementation, data centre services, managed services, unified communications, Cybersecurity solutions and managed desktop services.

Amongst its clients are many of the North East’s Top 200 companies – including Muckle LLP and Collingwood Business Solutions – as well as big names across the UK like the Natural History Museum and Vertu Motors.

Russell’s son Mattie, now 10, spent around seven weeks in the RVI when he was born.

Russell, 41, said: “I spent a lot of money on parking, just being at hospital every day, and at the end of the stay Tiny Lives footed the bill. It was amazing they did that and it has always stuck with me.

“I have wanted to do something for them for a while, so I am really pleased TruStack is able to partner with them now.”

Rachel Hardwick, corporate fundraiser for Tiny Lives, said: “This technology is amazing. It means the hospital is able to give updates to families about their babies even if they aren’t there for whatever reason.”

She added: “This partnership means so much to us. It feels extra special when we have people supporting our charity who have been helped by us in the past. It is like we are completing the circle.

“More than 750 families receive our support at the RVI every year and it just wouldn’t be possible without businesses like TruStack.”

TruStack was formed after the merger of SITS Group, PCI Services and Pivotal Networks earlier this year.

Its head office is on the Northumberland Business Park, Cramlington, with a branch office situated at the Evolve Business Centre, Houghton-le-Spring.

For more information call 0191 250 3000.

What Is The New Veeam Universal Licencing Model?

Our very own Veeam Vanguard, Ian Sanderson is going to take you through the new Veeam Universal Licencing model, which is now replacing Veeam Instance Licencing.

Ian, for those that don’t know, what was Veeam Instance Licencing?

So Veeam Instance Licencing was brought out in April of this year. At the time the premise was great, however it was confusing for everyone. It was difficult to work out how many licences you needed, what edition was required, and there was a question mark around perpetual socket-based licencing, would it go away? However, it was a great model to help protect workloads in a Hybrid IT world and where data mobility is often very common.

So, what exactly is the new Veeam Universal Licence and how does it look?

Basically, Veeam stated that they wanted to make licensing easier for all customers and enable them to expand to hybrid and multi-cloud environments with no additional costs and no additional licenses to buy with one type of license for multiple products. So, as you will see from the diagram above, the licence edition has gone and all Veeam Universal Licences, apart from Starter Edition now have the same features as Enterprise Plus. The consumption is one licence for each workload with the same type of license.

One of the main benefits of moving customers to the Enterprise Plus edition is customers will be able to take advantage of things like scale out back-up repositories, as well as storage integration in Veeam Backup and Replication.

In summary this is a great move by Veeam. It’s a simplified licencing model for the hybrid IT world we now live in.

End of Life Support

Pre-Sales Technical Consultant – Ian Sanderson

Just in case you missed it, Ian Sanderson gives his take on End of Life Support products that we all know and love.

You may be aware of some of the VMware technologies which are going end of life at the start of 2020:

  • vSphere 6.0
  • Horizon View 6.x
  • Some older versions of SRM

So, how do you maintain a supported solution in your environment? The simple answer for this is. If you are running any of these older software versions, upgrade to the latest versions. However, we want to talk to you about other considerations you might not have thought about.

With Microsoft, it’s the same idea, these are all going end of life in January 2020;

  • Server 2008 R2
  • Windows 7
  • Exchange 2010
  • Office 2010
  • Small Business Server 2011 which incorporates Server 2008 and Exchange 2010

There are several options here, like we say you can upgrade these. However again, there are other points to consider.

Let’s look at Office 365. Office 365 is on a lot of IT managers and IT directors’ radars. It’s making waves into enterprise and the smaller customers and is a compelling option especially when you are looking at licence renewal. You might be buying Open Value Subscriptions for licencing; however, Microsoft really want you to move to Office 365. That gives you Exchange online and Office applications to name a few. It also means you can decommission some on premises servers like Exchange and SharePoint. In doing so, it’s taking care of a lot of the potential problems that are on the list of software that is going End of Life. Again, it’s not the right option for everyone, but it is worth considering.

So, what does this mean for you?

It means no vendor support on the products which we have mentioned and no security updates or software updates, but it doesn’t mean these solutions are going to stop working on those dates when they go End of Support. There are still organisations running XP!

However, there are some considerations if you are not upgrading these older versions of software.

The first one is if you have a requirement to comply with accreditations such as Cyber Essentials Plus. If you aren’t running a version of software receiving the latest security update, that’s going to be a fail. With Cyber Essentials Plus, you must demonstrate that your security posture meets the requirements of the Cyber Essentials plus assessment.

We won’t go into too much detail on this post, however, on the networking front you need to look at Firewalls. If you have client VPN connections, there are solutions to tighten security from the likes of Gemalto to allow Two Factor Authentication to ensure that you are hardening your layers of defence.

On the application layer, Exchange, Office, Horizon, if you keep those up to date then you will be helping to minimize risk, however there are products to wrap around that as well which will help with your defence in depth strategy. Third party patching solutions from Ivanti which not only patch the operating system but also patches other third-party applications such as Chrome and the WebEx Plugin. Or you have Trend End Point manager as well to help protect those applications.

Another solution from Trend Micro is Virtual Patching. It relies on the global defence network to analyse emerging threats that are out there like the WannaCry’s, Petya’s or any other ransomware attack. With this information it will create a virtual patch to mitigate the threat and minimise risk of an emerging threat infiltrating the application layer of your environment until you have time to implement a hot fix from the vendor to permanently resolve the issue.

Before you can even think about a defence in depth strategy or upgrading those systems which might be End of Life, it is a good idea to assess your estate to establish a baseline of what it is you have. As we mentioned earlier on Horizon View, if you just click upgrade it might have a major impact on the rest of the environment. Once you have assessed, you have a few different options and you can formulate an upgrade or migration plan, or you can do nothing and accept the risks.

How can TruStack help?

It can be hard enough finding time to run business as usual, never mind picking up additional projects. We can assess your environment to find out what you have and identify what is at risk. This includes the outer perimeter of your network, all the way to the centre where the data lives. Based on our findings we would then compile a report on what we believe you should focus your attention on, what’s End of Life and what to upgrade.

We can also proactively monitor the environment, identify problems before and as they occur and even patch and upgrade those systems basis to minimise risk. If you would prefer someone else to look after your environment entirely then we offer a full managed service where all of this would be taken care of you.

Veeam Vanguards Attend Summit – Ian Sanderson

What is a Veeam Vanguard?

A Veeam Vanguard is someone that is committed to excellence in delivering Veeam solutions. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone with a public presence doing blog posts etc, it could be internal champions at a workplace. There are a lot of Veeam partners who have staff members that design and deliver solutions everyday – they make up some of the Veeam Vanguards. There are roughly 70 Vanguards worldwide and about 5 or 6 in the UK so it’s a pretty prestigious position to hold! Each year you must apply to get into the programme and to do that you have to demonstrate what it is you have done to deserve to be in the programme. For example, do you promote Veeam, are you an internal champion at work, or do you work for an MSP and deliver core Veeam services.

What are the benefits of being a Veeam Vanguard?

One of the main benefits is the private chat channel with all the other Veeam Vanguards. It is a place where you can discuss any challenges, or ideas you may have with an exceptionally talented group of people. You get direct access to product management within Veeam and our opinions are listened to a little more closely on the direction that products are heading, they certainly appreciate our feedback.

As part of this you went to the Veeam Vanguard Summit – what exactly is that?

The Veeam Vanguard summit is an event that Veeam host once a year. They gather all of the Vanguards from around the world to a particular location, this year it was in Prague, and deliver 2.5 days of solid content where you can interact with the product management team to get an idea of what Veeam’s roadmap is and what products they are working on. As you would expect from an event like this there are a lot of NDA’s and general updates on special features and new products that are due to be updated soon. It is also an opportunity to catch up with your virtual Vanguard peers, in person and shoot the breeze.

Is there anything that you can tell us from the event that isn’t under NDA?

There is! Veeam version 10 is imminent and is currently in Beta, due to be released in Q1 2020. There are a couple of new features in there which our customer base has certainly asked for. There is NAS back-up, so the ability to back up files from a file server or NAS device. There is continuous data protection which as the name suggests allows you to protect virtual machines with near zero-time difference between the protected copy and the live copy. Veeam backup for Office 365 will be introducing the ability to backup to Object based storage as well, so things like Azure Blob, AWS S3 or S3 compliant storage.

I’m guessing there is quite a lot that you can’t tell us?

Yes, there are quite a few things that I can’t say – if I could give a hint, take a look at Veeam’s messaging at the moment. They are marketing themselves as a full cloud data protection company, its not just your VMware environment anymore. I’m not sure when the NDA is going to be lifted on those ones, but I can keep you updated.

North East IT Company Stacked for Success

Three of the North East’s most well respected and forward-thinking IT Services Businesses have announced their intention to merge and form a new business. SITS Group, PCI Services and Pivotal Networks will merge to form a newly incorporated company called TruStack LTD.

The turnover of the new business will exceed £10M with significant growth plans in terms of turnover and additional services post merge.

All three companies operate across a multi sector UK wide client base and share the same ethos of high-quality customer experience whilst delivering a range of complimentary services that will benefit many of the existing customers.

All three companies provide very similar services such as cloud computing; network design, implementation and support; data centre services; managed services; unified communications and Cybersecurity solutions with a strong shared emphasis on client retention and customer service.

Existing clients include Muckle LLP, Collingwood Business Solutions LTD and many of the North East’s Top 200 companies.

The Directors of TruStack namely Joe Olabode, Richard Common, Paul Watson, Phil Cambers, Russell Henderson and Geoff Hodgson look forward to exciting times ahead.

In a joint statement, the Directors said: “There is clearly a very similar positive culture between all of the businesses. It makes sense to merge and the joining of the businesses will, in turn, benefit our loyal and longstanding client base who will get access to an even wider pool of commercial, administrative and technical services. We have spent many months performing due-diligence on all sides and we are delighted to announce this merge. We would like to thank all parties involved in making this deal happen, including legal advice from Ward Hadaway and financial advice from Clive Owen and Haines Watts.”.