Magazines

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February 2017

2017 – the year the data centre gets smart?


No need to tell everyone that the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are going to be playing an increasing part in all our lives, whether we like it or not, over the coming years. Less certain is how much of what goes on in the consumer world will infiltrate the business environment. Data centres run by robots (and no jokes that some of them are already!), employees connected to the workplace with VR technology implanted in their brains, and every single movement by humans and machines measured, monitored and analysed, to ensure that there’s no wastage, whatever the task.

No one seems to read books any more, but, for those of you who do, and might just have read Orwell and Huxley, you may well find that what’s going on is disconcertingly close to the story lines of such classics as ‘1984 and ‘Brave New World’. Neither book ends happily.

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February 2017

IoT in the Gotthard Tunnel

To mark the start of operations on the 11th December, Laurent Moureu, General Manager at ALE Switzerland GmbH points out the Gotthard Base Tunnel is not just a major engineering feat. It is also one of the first major global engineering projects to incorporate advanced IoT technology to transform the delivery of essential services. It uses a web of IoT devices to manage passenger and vehicle safety 24x7 in one of the world's most challenging operational environments.

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February 2017

DCIM: the next generation

DCS talks to David Lee, Managing Director of MPL Technology Group, about the company’s work in the IT and mission-critical infrastructure arena.


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Winter 2017

It’s easy to obtain the impression that the road to digitalisation requires a wholescale ‘trashing’ of traditional technologies and approaches to business, and the exclusive use of new, smart thinking. While there’s no doubt that the journey to becoming a digital business is much easier achieved with a blank piece of paper, than a whole stack of legacy kit and mind-sets, whatever the starting position, the foundation of any 21st century organisation remains a reliance on traditional IT components – compute, networks and storage. 
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Winter 2016

Divide and conquer, unite and thrive?


Seems like everyone has an opinion as to just how catastrophic, or not, will be the after effects of either Brexit and/or Trump’s election as the US President. Having thought long and hard about both scenarios, and read plenty of negative and positive opinion, conclusion number one is that neutral, objective advice is very hard to come by. Either Brexit will be a disaster, and UK citizens will be walking around in sack cloth and ashes for years to come, or we’ll all be driving around in expensive (obviously non-European) cars, unable to spend all that money we are making as the UK thrives while Europe nose dives into a never ending recession. As for Trump, he’s either going to upset so many folk that, sooner or later, a third world war will start; or he’ll teach the rest of the world just how great, and self-sufficient, the USA can be. 

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November 2016

Making the most of managed services

Following on from our recent Managed Services & Hosting Summit, we asked some of the event sponsors for their thoughts and advice on how this market is developing. The full article will be appearing in the November issue of our digital publication, Digitalisation World, but I thought it worth sharing some of the sound bites in DCS:

“End-customers shouldn’t be fearful of a perceived “loss of control” from outsourcing elements of their current, internal IT function. Just ensure that safeguards are clearly built into formal agreements and relationships, to enable you to hold your service provider to account.”

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November 2016

When data centres turn to the dark side

Exploring the murky world of Shadow IT in the data centre

The rise of easy-to-access and, often, cloud-based consumer technology poses a significant threat for data centres and their customers. 

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October 2016

Managed services – the final assault?

The recent Managed Services and Hosting Summit 2016, organised jointly by IT Europa and Angel Business Communications, publisher of DCS, was a major success. There was a buzz of activity at the event all day long – whether in the conference or in the sponsors’ exhibition area, showing that managed services has definitely moved from the ‘disruptive’ phase to become mainstream.

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September 2016

A picture paints a thousand words


So, post-Brexit Armageddon has been, at the very least, postponed for the summer holidays. Once the politicians return to work mode, we’ll all be able to understand a little bit more about what is, or isn’t going to happen, but for now, the general business mood seems to be rather positive – with some economic statistics to back up this feeling.

Right now, of rather more concern for the majority of businesses is the apparent extraordinary growth of IT security problems. Ransomware might be at the top of the pile at the moment, but hardly a day goes by without some new hacking/security breach revelation, often based on a new kind of security attack. Those who predict that the wars of the 21st century will largely be fought in cyberspace, rather than physically, will, hopefully, take little satisfaction from being proved right.

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September 2016

The calm before the storm?

Having been involved in a couple of recent research projects around some of the current emerging/buzz technologies (ie IoT, Cloud, SDN, Big Data and the like), I was a little surprised that the results of the initial surveys on which the projects were based revealed that the vast majority of IT and data centre end users seem to be more than happy with their current IT/data centre environments.

Given the pace of change, both now and into the future, and the many demands being placed on IT/facilities around not just the topics mentioned above, but also BYOD, security and compliance, I was near-on amazed that the level of confidence was quite so high.

On the face of it, such confidence should be a reason to celebrate – no matter what is thrown at it, the data centre and the IT it houses are well able to cope. However, drilling down into the research surveys a little further, it seems that only a minority of end user actually have any concrete plans around issues such as Cloud, SDN, IoT and other emerging technologies. So, while it’s great news that IT professionals are happy with their IT and data centre infrastructures right now, I would suggest that this situation may well change dramatically over the coming months, as they realise that they cannot afford to ignore these game-changing technologies. Companies who do not take on board these opportunities might just struggle to stay competitive, and their IT and data centre personnel may not be quite so content, in the near future!

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September 2016

True convergence - will it ever happen?

Earlier in the summer, Angel Business Communications, working alongside the DCA, organised the latest in its highly successful series of Data Centre Transformation events. Professor Ian Bitterlin, Visiting Professor Leeds University & Consultant Critical Facilities, and a well- known figure in the international data centre industry, gave the first Simon Campbell-Whyte Memorial Keynote in Manchester. As ever, Ian gave an entertaining overview of the many issues that the data centre industry faces right now – highlighting many of the misunderstandings and pessimistic outlooks that tend to overshadow the industry as it appears to be losing the battle between data growth and data centre costs and efficiency or, to use Ian’s chosen word, ‘effectiveness’.

Ian’s key message was that the data centre industry is very far from meltdown, so long as data centre owners, operators and users understand some basic best practices. The primary issue that needs to be addressed is increased utilisation of the IT assets that are housed inside a data centre. Average present usage rates are no better than 10 per cent, but there’s no reason why this figure cannot reach 60 per cent in the future. Alongside this simple measure, Ian also suggested that refreshing IT assets on no more than a two year cycle would lead to further significant energy savings, as vendors are constantly reducing the power requirements of their hardware units.

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Summer 2016

If memory serves, the poet Thomas Hardy wrote a poem entitled ‘The Convergence of the Twain’ which described the creation of the Titanic and the ‘creation’ of an iceberg,  and the eventual coming together of these two objects, with disastrous consequences

Right now, it would appear that the respective creators of the facilities and ICT functions of any organisation must be big poetry fans, as they seem scared stiff of the anticipated consequences of the convergence of their separate domains. 

Happily to report, where an iceberg + The Titanic led to a major catastrophe (that’s the movie as well as the original event!), the coming together of data centre facilities and ICT is something not only to be wished for but also acted upon. Our recent DTC conference covered many, many data centre topics, but the overwhelming conclusion from listening to the many of the presentations and subsequent debates is that, until such time as facilities and ICT seek to understand and help each other, the idea of an optimised data centre will remain nothing but a pipe dream. 

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Summer 2016

It's all about freedom of movement

In an ideal world, politics and Digitalisation World should never meet, except that it would be difficult, and somewhat naïve, to pretend that the technology we discuss operates in some kind of a vacuum away from the real world. After all, the endless discussions over data compliance and security are very much mixed up with the political landscape, and the social impacts of technology are very hard to ignore, although it’s probably not DW’s place to start moralising over whether replacing more and more humans with more and more machines (as has been happening since the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions of the late 18th century onwards) is, overall, a good or bad thing for any particular society.

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June 2016

Looking backwards and forwards

First up – congratulations to all our DCS Awards winners (see Page 14). We had a great evening in the City of London celebrating the achievements of the many companies and individuals who make the data centre industry the success that it so clearly is. End user projects were recognised, along with the whole range of technologies that can be found in today’s modern, optimised data centre (most of them are getting there!), and the vendors who brought these new ideas to market.

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June 2016

It’s all about customer service, no matter how clever the technology

Regular readers of my DW column might think that I have some kind of an obsession with IT security. I’d like to state here and now that it’s not IT security itself with which I’m obsessed. There is, nor ever will be, any such thing as 100% total security, so my obsession, if that is what it is, is actually about what happens when things go wrong. 

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June 2016

Storage takes centre stage - again

Veterans of the storage networking industry will be familiar with the fluctuations in the fortunes of this technology. One minute it seems to be the most important part of the whole IT stack, the next minute it’s little more than an IT commodity, barely worth any consideration. Right now, thanks to a perfect storm of other IT developments around such issues as Cloud, Big Data and Compliance, storage networking is near enough centre stage as folks have come to realise that data is the lifeblood of any business, and not the IT infrastructure that supports it. In other words, IT is not the be all and end all, but the enabler, that allows data to be created, accessed, stored and retrieved in the most cost-effective and dynamic environment for any particular application. In order for this idea to work properly, the IT infrastructure has to become all but invisible – ie not be an obstacle to data use.

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May 2016

What’s in a name?
That which we call a 'CSP' 

Receiving a press release that included the abbreviation ‘CSP’ in the headline, I fully expected to be reading all about Cloud Service Providers. But, no, in this instance, CSP stood for Communications Service Providers, a rather different part of the ICT (hopefully this abbreviation is well understood?!) community.

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May 2016

Cloud continues to cause 'chaos'

While the whole Cloud/Managed Services debate has moved on from the level of ignorance that allowed a UK government minister to ask, in all seriousness, what was going to happen to all the redundant data centres if IT was moving to the Cloud, there is still a substantial amount of uncertainty surrounding the subject. With AWS and Azure making moves on Europe, at the same time as one or two existing Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are getting out of the game, end users could be forgiven for scratching their heads, holding a finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing, and then deciding to use a pin to select their CSP from a long list of possibles. Some are offering little more than the bare data centre infrastructure, some are offering the full works, from nuts to soup, and many others are somewhere between the two.


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April 2016

Spring is here - and it’s time to kick some tyres

While the global IT event calendar is so busy that hardly a day goes by without some ‘must-attend’ event taking place somewhere on the planet – whether organised by a vendor, a trade association, The Channel, an analyst house, or a dedicated media organisation – the major spring events are coming thick and fast right now. 

We know that DCS does an excellent job of keeping you informed of the major technology and hot topic trends that currently dominate the data centre landscape, there’s no doubt that a day or two out of the office, spent talking with vendors and your peers at a trade conference and/or show, is time well spent. Face to face meetings are a great way to cut through the hype of the social media channels, the seemingly endless surveys reported on in the news and the impression that magazines can give that ‘everybody is doing this’, to understand the reality. And that reality is often quite comforting – not everyone has yet got to grips with Big Data, Cloud, Internet of Things. Indeed, it seems that, despite many years of education, even some of the most basic data centre practices concerning such technologies as power and cooling, asset management and the like, are not as common as might be supposed in terms of their implementation. That’s the ‘good’ news.

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April 2016

IT benchmarking – a barren land?
On the eve of the UK’s major data centre and cloud exhibition, and not long after a major data centre event in the US and Germany’s major CeBIT event, it seems like a good time to ask how do end users understand what their peers are up to in terms of their respective IT journeys? Clearly, there’s a great deal of secrecy, as organisations who think that a key application or their overall approach to IT is providing a major business advantage are reluctant to tell others just why they are so successful. Set against this, how can any organisation be completely confident that what it is doing is ‘as good as it gets’ – isn’t there always the need to talk to others to understand what they are doing?

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March 2016

Perception versus reality
A couple of recent incidents have served to put in focus some of the issues that need to be addressed as businesses across the globe take the digitalisation road. First up, suffering from a particularly virulent form flu (turns out it was swine fever, but no jokes, please!) I was not able to book an appointment to see my GP in anything like the near future, so settled for a phone call.

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March 2016

London reclaims data centre top spot
Courtesy of CBRE, some news on the European data centre market:

London saw the most demand for colocation data centre space across Europe in 2015, displacing Amsterdam from the top spot, according to the latest data from global real estate advisor CBRE.

In 2015, London outperformed its European counterparts with 26MW of customer IT power sold during the year.Its Q4 total of 10MW marked the highest quarterly take-up in any European market for two years. Underpinning this trend is ongoing momentum from IT infrastructure firms as they continue to host directly from London, having served the market from Dublin. These companies are responsible for the vast majority of transactions as they continue to dominate the European landscape. Furthermore, ongoing prospects for London remain strong. Large numbers of enterprise firms can now accesscloud services as IT Infrastructure companies have started to provide on-off ramps across data centres in London. The major markets of Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris (FLAP cities) enjoyed an overall healthy yearwith 62MW of take-up during 2015.

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March 2016

Remember ILM?
Once upon a time, the storage networking industry came up with the idea of Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) – the idea of managing information or data from its creation to its deletion (not, of course, that anyone would be foolish enough to ever delete anything!). 

For some reason, the idea never really took on. Maybe it was the fact that, despite all the marketing hype, you couldn’t actually buy an ILM solution off-the-shelf – I was an idea not a technology; or maybe it was the fact that data management requires the involvement of employees right across the company, from apps, through networking and security, to storage networks. Of course, in that dim and distant past, technology silos prevented the meaningful cooperation that was a prerequisite for ILM to work. (I remember talking to a storage networking professional at the time, asking him why the different departments didn’t talk to each other, and the response was a laugh, followed by the suggestion that the day the storage folks talked to the networking folks would be the day that hell froze over, or some such sentiment!). 

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February 2016

Keeping the customer satisfied

In the rush to embrace the Cloud, managed services, Big Data, IoT and any other new IT developments, it can be easy for businesses to lose sight of the main reason that they are in business (presumably): to serve their customers. Done properly, and the digital relationship between seller and buyer can be every bit as good as, if not better, than a face to face transaction.

Find out more about this and other features in our February 2016 digital edition from Digitalisation World


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February 2016

Sorting the hype from the reality

While our news headlines suggest that all businesses are rushing headlong to embrace one or more of the latest hot technologies or ideas ((Digital transformation spending to surpass $ billion; Public Cloud services market to reach $204 billion; Analytics and algorithms continue to grow; Public cloud storage spending will double), the excellent article from Freeform Dynamics Tony Lock (see Page 8) does a great job of putting the endless IT hype into a very sensible, realistic perspective.

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February 2016

Be confident in Cloud
At a time when the global financial markets are in potential free-fall (apparently triggered by the low cost of oil, and Chinese turmoil; but wasn’t the last cliff-falling moment caused by the price of oil being too high?!), 2016 could be a(nother) nervous year for us all. This will be particularly disappointing as the ICT and data centre sector had gained significant momentum during 2015 and, prior to the Davos-inspired (?) doom and gloom, 2016 was looking to be more of the same – optimism and investment in a bright future for Cloud, Big Data, data centres large and small, and the Internet of Things. Let us hope that the financial meltdown being predicted at the time of writing by those media organisations who love to celebrate the bad, rather than the good, does not materialise into large black clouds that will signify a return to the turmoil of the recession we thought we were leaving behind.

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Winter 2015

The best of times, the worst of times?

WITH APOLOGIES TO ONE OF MY FAVOURITE READS, this phrase, as so often, seems to sum up rather neatly the current state of the data centre and ICT industries. It is the best of times because so many positive changes are taking place – new technologies, new ideas, new companies all having a significant impact on the way that the data centre and the IT infrastructure it hosts will operate in the future. Cloud is almost old hat, but Big Data is gaining significant momentum and the Internet of Things is still in its infancy, but promises major change for the good.

It is the worst of times because we seem to be rushing headlong into this new, ‘ultra-tech’ world, where less and less people truly understand what is happening, and how it all works, and, perhaps most alarmingly, we seem to be making it easier and easier for the bad guys to cause mayhem. Physical files under lock and key require a very determined burglar, and a very energetic one if they want to steal files from multiple companies; computer files seem to be vulnerable to anyone with the knowledge and determination to carry out online security hacks and attacks.

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December 2015

Big really is better
The question that Bettina Tratz-Ryan asks in our lead news article: ‘Can IoT improve sustainability?’ is a timely one – and not just because of the recent environmental gathering in Paris. Closer to the IT world, visits to recent data centre events have uncovered a significant trend towards more intelligence in these IT hubs and, most importantly, useful intelligence that can be used to improve their performance.

Traditionally, data centre owner/operators have used basic spreadsheets, or even pencil and paper, to map the IT assets within their facility. Inevitably, such a manual approach leads to a high degree of inaccuracy/lack of updating, and provides only very basic information on which future data centre planning decisions can be based.

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November 2015

Size does matter

The news that Dell plans to acquire EMC should come as no surprise in an age when consolidation and convergence (both in the ICT department and amongst the vendor community) is the order of the day. Less obvious is the desirability of the creation of fewer and fewer, larger and larger ICT providers – a trend which seems to be growing, as many a start-up company with some smart technology is quickly ‘hoovered up’ by a Tier 1 vendor keen to plug a gap in its portfolio that, apparently, has to offer one seamless end to end ICT solution for end users.

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Issue 2

The events of the past few days have served to highlight the role that risk assessment plays every day in all our lives. The understandable emotional response is one of horror and fear – horror that such attacks (on the Russian airplane, and the citizens of France, not to mention events further afield that seem to receive rather less coverage in Europe at least) happen at all, and fear that there are more atrocities to come.
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November 2015

When will consolidation come to an end?

For those that subscribe to the view that, true to its utility moniker, the ICT landscape will end up being dominated by half a dozen or so huge, global corporations providing all our compute needs – whether those of private individuals, public bodies or enterprises – the news that Dell plans to acquire EMC should come as no surprise. The acquisition is just one of many logical next steps that need to happen before the true utility computing model reaches maturity.


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Winter 2015

Anyone who thought that storage networking has become little more than a footnote in the brave new world of clouds, Big Data and the Internet of Things, had only to visit the recent VMWorld Europe event (and I presume the same held good in other regions) to realise that approximately two-thirds of the exhibiting companies were very much focused on…storage networks. Okay, so a visit to a Cloud or IoT event might produce a rather different result, but the point is that, for anyone interested in any aspect of the information and communications infrastructure that is the essential foundation of all the clever things being done right now in the digital age, storage is a critical component. Similarly, the daily security catastrophe stories appearing on a news programme, website or in a good old-fashioned newspaper might have been avoided with a more judicious application of ICT – not just security software, but the storage and networking ‘plumbing’ as well. 
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Issue 1

Welcome to the first issue of Angel Business Communications’ new, flagship publication, Digitalisation World.

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At a time when end users from all areas of the enterprise – not just the ICT function, but business development, marketing, human resources, sales, engineers and many others – are struggling to come to terms with the pace and direction of technology change, now seems a particularly good time to launch a digital magazine that brings together the many, increasingly interlinked subjects that need to be understood as organisations head towards digital transformation. 


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October 2015

The drive to digitalisation

If there is one certainty about digitalisation, it’s the fact that doing nothing is simply not an option, regardless of what type of business you work in, or how irrelevant you think that digital technology is to your company.

For example, at the most basic level, digital communications are a great way of keeping in contact with your (actual and potential) customer base. Yes, most of us are fed up with the endless spam emails, the phone calls telling us that the banks owe us millions in mis-sold insurance policies of one kind or another and the texts telling us much the same (the banks do seem to have done an awful lot of mis-selling!); but I suspect that this is a manageable price to pay for all the positive interaction we have – special offers, new product announcements and the like.


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September 2015

With the latest security horror story, courtesy of the Carphone Warehouse, fresh in everyone's minds, I can't help but return to the CIF/Cloud Security roundtable that DCS reported on back in the spring - with the overwhelming conclusion being that, while there would never be anything called 'absolute security', the vast majority of organisations have a long way to go in terms of ensuring that their IT security is anywhere near 'best-in-class'.
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September 2015

The European small and medium business (SMB) cloud services market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 per cent by 2018 (from €18.9bn to €30.1bn), according to findings from the latest European SMB Cloud Insights™ report from Odin. Now in its fifth year, the Odin annual report identifies critical trends within the cloud computing industry and its impact on SMBs within the European market.
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Summer 2015

THE IT SPACE is in danger of overheating right now - there's so much activity, so many companies all trying to position themselves as the only supplier you'll need to meet all your business needs - despite the fact that we're in the era of open, eclectic solutions, where end users should be able to pick and choose a range of services and technologies from different suppliers and have them work all together. No sooner has the buzz around the Cloud and Managed Services started delivering real benefits to end users, and judicious use of the real technologies behind Big Data is also reaping rewards, than the goalposts are moved, or more accurately, widened, to encompass the Internet of Things (IoT) and the whole idea of digitalisation.
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June 2015

Just a month ago, in the May issue of DCS, I wrote that the IT landscape was changing very quickly, and that end users needed to make sure that they were up to speed on their Clouds, IoT, Big Data and the like so that they did not get left behind.
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May 2015

The IT world is moving at a very fast pace right now, leaving end users with plenty of tricky decisions to make. As the news pages make clear, the Cloud is continuing to dominate the business landscape right now, and right on its heels comes the Internet of Things - including the world of wearables. As the digital world dawns (or at least becomes mainstream), the trick is to decide what makes sense to your business (both your employees and/or your customers) and what doesn't.
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