Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Spot The Difference? By Jon Towers

Earlier this month, David Lawrence and I ventured to the ‘deep south’ to London for an IT Service Provider Conference hosted by GFI software. Investing three days and two nights in attending the confe


Earlier this month, David Lawrence and I ventured to the ‘deep south’ via Heathrow Terminal 5 for a London IT Service Provider Conference hosted by GFI software.


This was an not only an opportunity to update ourselves on some of the latest developments in the information technology world but also to meet with the heads of similar quality IT Support companies located all around the UK. Plus we were meeting with the software development teams (not just sales teams) of a number of good quality IT service vendors – some we knew already, some we didn’t.


Meeting with such people was a fantastic occasion to share ideas and to hear what experiences others are having in delivering best of breed service and IT help to a broad range of businesses and organisations. On the first evening, over a glass or two (!) of refreshing Moretti beer we compared some of the current challenges and fluid changes in the world of IT. We also met a couple of nice people from other IT companies from Wales and England and shared some anecdotes and experiences with them too.


The hosts of the whole event, GFI MAX, did us proud in producing some fabulous content, interesting speakers and broader business ideas throughout the following two tightly-packed days.  There were insights in how we could further add value to our customers IT experiences using some brilliant tools and some newer technologies that are being offered as a service or as a cloud platform.


One growing service that we have been putting in place for a broad variety of customers is called GFI Cloud – although from October 1st, the name will change but more about that in a moment… GFI Cloud is ideal for an SMB business that has a smaller IT staff or where time to achieve things is a scarce resource for the IT Manager. The GFI Cloud service is really a ‘platform’ for delivering functions or services that would traditionally take up lots of IT time to install, configure, manage and maintain.


The GFI Cloud platform starts with IT Asset Management – i.e. keeping track of your IT estate of hardware and software, what’s where, which department connects to what and how and what it performs. And the best bit? That comes absolutely free of charge! Now it might be true that nothing in life is free but this is free – save for the chance to introduce you to the other services you can use (not for free) through GFI Cloud.


And these other services have been rapidly growing in the past two years or so. They come with a pedigree too as they’ve been engineered using the proven, award-winning technology from GFI Software’s traditional on-premises software applications – and in some cases they’re much better! GFI Cloud now offers a single interface fr a busy IT Manager or Systems Administrator to stay on top of their antivirus protection, web protection, server monitoring, remote control and patch management processes.


In short the GFI Cloud platform makes life easier by streamlining all of these typically disparate processes and pulling the view of them together into one, simple, web-based console – a single ‘pane of glass’ – a much overused IT term but it applies perfectly here! This cloud service is very similar to some of the existing, compelling toolsets that Grant McGregor already uses to manage and service our smaller business clients’ IT systems and it helps us to make more effective use of our engineers’ time when providing proactive IT support.


Happily the conference wasn’t all technology and terminology. There was an excellent Dinner & Drinks event on the middle evening at which our hosts had organised for pinball machines, 1980s Video Games (like PacMan, Space Invaders and Galaxians) to be available to play by some of the massed geeks in attendance. For the rest of us (I’m not a geek!), GFI laid on some more sociable entertainment in the form of three celebrity ‘lookalikes’. And it was very difficult to spot the difference thanks to that Moretti!


A very convincing ‘Patsy’ from Ab Fab was working the room and getting snapped in countless ‘selfies’ and mobile photos like the one below, whilst ‘Delboy’ was offering us one of his many ‘top notch watches’ or his own brand of dodgy Peckham technology. ‘Mo Farah’ made up the trio encouraging us to join him in doing the ‘Mobot’.

Spot The Difference? Spot The Difference? That's right - David's the one in the specs!


I mentioned earlier that from 1st October the name of GFI MAX is scheduled to change. This is not because of any trade sale or change in ownership. It is simply being renamed LogicNow and separated from the on-premise solutions - or traditional software applications that live on your own servers – these will stay under the GFI brand name. The re-focus is to show that there are different segments of customers in the market using different forms of the GFI products and services and it should also help make communications more clear and unambiguous.


Investing three days and two nights in attending the conference and meeting with some great new industry contacts has certainly energised David and I… We helped one or two new IT friends with business improvement ideas that we’d already had to work out for ourselves and, in turn, we benefitted from the wise counsel of other new acquaintances who offered us their hard-earned lessons. It all helps as we continue to strive to improve our own business service quality and performance and to help our customers as business managers and IT professionals to find the right tools and techniques – not just to save their organisations money and time – but to genuinely make their lives easier and better.


The GFI MAX and Cloud brand names may be changing somewhat but otherwise, I’m pleased to say that it’s the same good people behind it, working out of the same places and (in my humble opinion) providing the same great technology solutions – better in some cases – rather than just some convincing ‘lookalike’. BFN Sweetie!


This time next year Rodney...we'll be millionaires! This time next year Rodney...we'll be millionaires!