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The CIO Is Dead. Long Live the CIO. The Cloud Redefines the Role of the CIO

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CIOs see role evolving towards operational responsibilities, more internal consultancy and less IT infrastructure administration

Based on recent research gathered from 100 EMEA CIOs across enterprise-sized businesses the cloud is causing CIOs to fundamentally evolve their roles, and will continue to do so in the next few years as they move from being technology-focused to more strategic consultants/mediators. 

Click here to read more...  The Cloud Redefines the Role of the CIO


BYOD - Opening the floodgates or harnessing potential?

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How charities can minimise risk when employees and volunteers want to use their own mobile devices

Today, employees want to make their own decisions about which phone or computer they use both in their personal life and at work. This is becoming a huge problem for organisations of all sizes – even for large and relatively wealthy corporations. Charities are particularly vulnerable as they often cannot justify providing paid staff with the latest technology unless it is proven to bring significant benefits. Yet, in many ways the need for security is more acute for charities, dealing as they do with the financial and highly personal details of often vulnerable people as part of their operations.

SaintGroup looks at what considerations should be make to minimise the risks of the increasing consumerisation of IT.

Click here to download.  BYOD - Opening the floodgates or harnessing potential?


SaintGroup successfully completes two upgrade projects for Marie Curie Cancer Care

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Helping Marie Curie to provide a better service

SaintGroup’s Professional Services team has recently completed two projects at Marie Curie Cancer Care, competently managing risk and demonstrating our commitment to mutual success.

Project 1: Domain Controller Upgrade

This project was the upgrade of Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Active Directory schema and associated operating system of all 27 Domain Controllers across the Marie Curie estate to Windows Server 2008 R2, which was delivered across multiple sites throughout the UK.

The challenge for SaintGroup was to upgrade live systems that are the sole gateway for users onto the network – if these systems are not up and running, users cannot access network resources and key business systems are unavailable.  SaintGroup had to deliver this work out of hours, working to a maximum 12 hour downtime window and required careful planning and coordination with the site contacts, and also regular update meetings with the SaintGroup Change Authority Board to ensure that the project delivery met expected standards.

The additional Group Policy functionality presented by a Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory will deliver real benefits in the ability to administer the desktop environment.  It also prepares the domain for a future Windows 7 upgrade, which Marie Curie may embark upon in the near future.

It is also important to note that despite the project carrying significant risks to not only Marie Curie users but also the Marie Curie Service Desk, no increase in support calls were raised throughout the entire project. This is a massive achievement, and illustrates how we ensure that at all times, the risk to the Service Desk is of paramount importance, and project success relies on this.


Microsoft Launches... Are you ready?

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SaintGroup takes a look at some options and considerations before embarking upon an upgrade

The long awaited launch of Microsoft’s re-imagined operating system Windows 8 is now a reality. It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I am unashamedly a huge fan! I have now been using Windows 8 for over three months and it remains my only device. This is complemented with the new office 2013, which provides a huge step change in functionality and performance.

Nevertheless this article is not a “call to action” on driving an Operating System upgrade, moreover, I hope to highlight the choices to you and your business relating to the services available in driving your end user device strategy and ensuring you are providing the most suitable and practical options for your end user community.

For those who take even a passing interest in the Technology media, it is clear that the recent Microsoft product launches are getting a lot of attention, indeed some are highlighting this is the most important launch period in Microsoft history, and certainly the Microsoft marketing machine is in full swing, with visible campaigns for Microsoft Surface, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8… but let me come back to Windows 8!! 

Before focussing on the variety of options, let me pose a few open questions - what are the business drivers for your organisation? Is there an appetite to embrace new or different solutions? Is user productivity and collaboration key for your business? Are you holding back due to the perception of high investment costs? What are the options around your end users device solutions? Where does the user device (phone, tablet, laptop and/or desktop) fit in? How do the end user solutions fit within your IT strategic roadmap?

Clearly the answers to these and others will be particular to your own business environment and for this reason SaintGroup would never suggest you take a one size fits all approach. As the answer will likely be it really does depend! Additionally it is necessary to consider a few of the influencing factors:

• Your current IT landscape in terms of current end user device estate and datacentre server estate.
• Line of Business and Desktop applications in use.
• Other infrastructure initiatives in flight or planned such as an MS Exchange deployment or a Unified Communications project.
• Legacy Systems implications.
• User community location and blend (Office, Remote or Home and Hybrid workers).
• Is it important to address industry trends such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)?
• What Security considerations should you consider?
• Do you have the Wide Area Network capacity necessary?
• Business appetite to look towards Service Provider hosted solutions.
• Is now the right time to embrace cloud services, such as Office 365, which could add value to the productivity for your organisation?

External factors also play their part in the decision making process with a key upcoming milestone being the end of support for the XP operating system in April 2014. Market indications remind us that a typical desktop deployment project can take 12 months from decision to completed deployment. So the reality is April 2014 is truly not far off!

So what options are available to you?

Full Blown Desktop OS Upgrade

The decision related to the desktop Operating System should be is less about the choice between Window 8 versus Windows 7, but more about the Desktop Services your business needs. Ensuring the applications in use are still required and able to be re-deployed seamlessly to the appropriate users is key. In addition, consideration of the user experience that ensures personalisation setting from the old to the new is migrated. Fundamental to any successful Operating System project is providing the clarity of process to ensure a repeatable approach and delivering minimal business disruption. 

If this means taking a customer on XP to Windows 7 journey that is fine, if however a customer wants to drive the collaboration, productivity and performance benefits that Windows 8 will bring and also embrace the wave of new devices now available in the market SaintGroup are able to guide you through the feasibility of doing that also.

Hosted Desktop

For some organisations applications access cannot be easily accommodated across the organisation due to technology limitations. A hosted desktop solution can deliver important applications to employees no matter where they are located; additionally the end user can use a variety of devices beyond their traditional desktop computer. The user will be able to log onto their “desktop session” from any location with internet access and on virtually any device, from PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and even thin clients.

Currently, your confidential company data resides on individual PCs, laptops, and other devices. Shifting the delivery of your apps to a hosted desktop model maintains all of your data in a central location. Confidential company data and files no longer reside on individual PCs and devices, giving you control in case of loss or theft. Employees simply log into one place to access everything.

The latest technologies provide a great experience even under low bandwidth situations. In reality, hosted desktop has a relatively small bandwidth requirement and can operate effectively even on a 3G mobile data connection.

There are a number of options within the broad subject of Hosted Desktop:

• Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) - provides a fully hosted and centrally managed operating system with business and office applications installed in that remote session.
• Remote Desktop Service (RDS) – provides the ability to remotely access and use specific hosted corporate applications. 
• Cloud Services cover a multitude of options; Microsoft Office 365 is an excellent example and provides a feature rich office email and collaboration solution experience.

SaintGroup is ready and prepared for End User Services conversations; we understand the approach, challenges and considerations of both Windows 7 and/or Windows 8, the benefits and constraints, the impact on the server estate, devices considerations. We are ready with our Systems Management capability with Systems Centre Configuration Manager to be able to support Operating Systems upgrades with Systems Centre 2012.

As for Windows 8 and its readiness for the Enterprise, there are conflicting views in the market right now. Personally I think the feature set of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, coupled with Windows Server 2012 and Office 2013 is incredibly powerful, but for some customers, getting there will take time and SaintGroup’s focus is on supporting you on that journey.
SaintGroup delivers a range of Managed Services tailored to suit the customers’ business drivers and works in partnership as the trusted advisor with our customers to support their transformation journey, built around the core needs for:

• Data Centre Optimisation
• End User Compute Optimisation
• Business Productivity Services

Let SaintGroup take the complexity out of your infrastructure, if you would like to understand how SaintGroup can support your business transformational journey, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Defining A Service Catalogue

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SaintGroup has an established and well defined Service Catalogue that defines the ranges of services available to customers that can meet specific service requirements, or that can be combined to offer a full and comprehensive Managed Service.

This article provides more detail on the purpose and the importance of having an up to date and accurate Service Catalogue.

Federation of Small Businesses Press Release

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Federation of Small Businesses turns to PEER 1 Hosting and SaintGroup for colocation services.

The UK's largest campaigning group for the self-employed and owners of small firms now has a trusted colocation provider for its critical IT operations.

Olympics? SaintGroup will not play games with your Infrastructure

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SaintGroup is ready, set and good to go to meet our clients’ service needs during the Olympic period of 27 July-12 Aug 2012 and 29 Aug-9 Sept 2012 respectively.

With Canary Wharf Group and Deloitte’s undertaking an IT, telecoms and transport infrastructure ‘Stress Test’ in May – which involved companies across the capital (representing about 21,000 staff) testing business’s IT and telecommunication capabilities and how easily their staff could work flexibly – the rise in flexible working, travel disruption and staff unavailability is both expected and planned for.

IT Transformation Projects

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Niall O'Regan discusses the questions to ask before starting an IT Transformation Project

SaintGroup is regularly asked by customers and prospects how technology can be used to help drive their organisation forward. As part of this we often have conversations with those who have chosen their technology before their actual requirements are truly mapped out. This carries a number of risks. The primary of those is the inability to truly measure success of any project because the goal is not defined at the outset.