Jun 052011

DavCo enlisted RedZone Technologies – a key sponsor of the CIO Executive Series – to help DavCo become fully PCI compliant within a secure remote network. 

Watch Stacy Duncan, IT Director at DavCo and James Crifasi, CTO at RedZone Technologies as they share how they successfully implemented SonicWALL solutions to achieve PCI compliance for DavCo.

Apr 082011

My meetings with CIO Executive Series members continued this week and yielded more interesting findings.  I wanted to share them with you.

CIO Questions on Email Security
I had an interesting conversation with a CIO this week that had just bought 4 physical servers for essentially an Exchange 2010 upgrade projects. Overall he has 100 users in 1 location. Why did he buy 4 physical servers? What about virtual systems? This was certainly one of my questions, but he was very concerned about security and HIPAA concerns for his organization. Having spent so much time in the compliance and security area, HIPAA is just another part of the same coin so we started discussing the elements of Exchange and security which was his main concern. The security design we discussed related to the Exchange upgrade were the following.

  1. Websense Questions.   He has two Websense servers. 1) URL management and 2) Email security related to SPAM, AV, Malware, etc.
    His primary concern with to offer User Self Service Spam Management. He also wants to segment and allow some people to manage their own email and others not
  2. Sonicwall SSL VPN.
    Goal – For remote users wants TSE, Citrix, OWA proxy, integrated with AD, Text based 2 factor auth
  3. AD security check and AD health check
  4. HIPAA contextual scanning of messages
  5. Encryption and key management system

CIO Cloud Email – Politics and Finances
A CIO in the Group had his chief tech call me to get a quote on Cloud Email. Overall 500 users and north of 10 locations. Unbeknownst to the chief tech, I had already discussed the possibility of looking at Cloud Email in conjunction with the planned upgrade to Exchange 2010 over lunch several weeks ago. I knew this request was going to come across the bow. The chief tech was very nice and said to me that he didn’t want me to spend much time on the quote because he didn’t think they would do it anyway and all he wanted was some quick numbers. I kindly said that there is really nothing quick about Cloud Email and that he really needed to run for the hills with any provider that treats it as a commodity transaction. The planning required for Cloud is just as intensive and in some cases more so than On-prem even though vendors want you to believe otherwise. The bigger story here is that I am not really convinced that Cloud email for this long time friend and client is a good fit since his IT org is very very lean and he swears that email management is no big deal and hardly takes and management cycles from his team. What I have told him is that Cloud Email pricing has changed a bunch since the last time he looked at it 3 years ago…in a Southward direction. As a part of doing due diligence, on migrating to Exchange 2010 it is a no brainer to look at 3 options, but also to pay attention to politics, financial realities as well listed below.

On-premise traditional Exchange 2010 Upgrade

  • Off-prem Cloud Email (multi-tenant) Total and Partial Outsourcing Options
  • Off-prem Cloud Email (single-tenant) – Partial Outsourcing

In summary, politics plays a big issue with cloud. I have seen it already play out with a 1200 seat rollout that has made me a firm believer with a CIO that I thought would be one of the last to consider it. Politics is an issue since IT staff will think that their job may be in jeopardy. Exchange drags a massive eco system of other systems with it, but at the end of the day it is still a plumbing system and it doesn’t help a company make money. I believe that Cloud email will not replace jobs but allow lean teams to focus on apps that support the business directly. In addition, the financial realities are significant since the Cap Ex versus Op Ex realities are real.

Cloud Email and the VoIP Killer
In a meeting with a member of the CIOES Group this week we discussed his goal of moving email to the cloud. I love having these discussions because it opens up a Pandora’Box of possibilities and rarely results in a black and white inflection points unless you discuss VoIp. There is nothing that can kill a move to Email Cloud quicker than integrated VoIP Systems. I shared with him that I have a 29 question form for Cloud vendors I use when I have clients considering a move to the Cloud. I shared with him that it helps me to broker the best deals for my clients. If you have VoIP, the Vendor must answer the following key questions so you can understand how routing between the phone system and the email system happens.
         a.   Will they support a 3rd party foreign connector from the customer premise to the hosted environment?
         b.   Will they allow outlook forms to be loaded into the organizational forms folders?
         c.   Will they allow Exchange admin rights for the connector install?
         d.   Will they allow Send as/Receive as rights on the exchange server/information store?

Craftsmen Versus Operational Plumbers
I had a wondrous conversation with a CIO yesterday. It reminded me of a blog that I wrote  a year ago on craftsmanship. The CIO I met with recently relocated to the Washington, DC area. They had also worked in New York City and also a southern state. He said each area has a certain regional feel and shared with me his observations. In New York City he said people were only concerned with your ability to deliver. In the southern state, the most important thing was the relationship. In DC, he commented that it is who you know or how well you are connected. What frustrated him was meeting a CIO randomly in the food line of a restaurant and asking the fellow CIO if he knew of any recruiters that he could call since he is new in town. The other CIO said he wouldn’t share the name of the recruiter. Crazy isn’t it that the CIO wouldn’t share this information. He was afraid that giving him the name of the recruiter he used he would diminish the pool of talent available to his own organization. Amazing.

What I loved about meeting this man was the organizational culture that he is creating. He told me he currently has 20 open positions that need to be filled. He said, “Our corporate culture values high quality relationships. Deep corporate values focused on Collaboration, Craftmanship and People who want sky above them, love what they do, and want a feeling of empowerment.” It reminds me that when you lead with values you immediately differentiate yourself.

How many of you can relate to his pains? ….a summary of which is below.

  • He wants a valuable Local CIO Network.  
  • He needs a local Recruiter. 
  • He needs Cloud Application Deployment Options in the USA.  
  • He needs and valuation of Staffing Needs  (W2 positions, Cloud Application, MSP, local project VAR)
         o    What do you need to get to the next level?
         o    What structure do you need?
         o    Assessment of people
         o    Review core business that needs Craftmen versus Operational Plumbing
  •  Network Managementt – Needs Sys Ops staff, shorthanded, doesn’t have a NOC. Comprehensive Monitoring, Reporting and Forensics (Security and network alerting)
                   • Apps
                   • Database
                   • O/S
                   • Network Device
  • Security – Architecture, Design, selection and placement of products to handle: IDP, packet inspection, reporting, forensics, etc. No packets, IDP, Sys monitoring.
Feb 102011

Peter Silva, Technical Marketing Manager with F5 and I discuss Virtual SSL VPNs that run on VMware. I love SSL VPNs because they have revolutionized remote access and secure remote access control. Peter discusses how you can leverage your investment in VMWare with virtual SSL VPN appliances from F5. Peter is a great speaker and evangelist for elegant architecture and design. We discussed a very tactical important area to be aware of when it comes to leveraging your Virtual Infrastructure investment.