Started as a one-person IT consultancy business, today Optimising IT takes care of IT strategy, solution deployment, and support, when nobody in an organization has the skills to be trusted with such a task. Their customers are typically Small-Medium Businesses (SMBs) with 20-300 staff members operating across sectors of professional services, construction, education, charity, and financial services, and the company has also done some work for the local government.
Many companies use Optimised IT to help with an issue when they don’t know their options or where to start. Every case is unique, hence, Todd Gifford, the Technical Director at Optimising IT, offered to guide us through their experience and a couple of their client cybersecurity journeys using NordLayer.
Make security deployment for SMBs as easy as possible
Since the pandemic, the demand for IT strategy upgrades has increased as businesses needed to evolve overnight to ensure continuity. Luckily, a significant chunk of Optimised IT’s customer base already had the right technology, allowing it to deliver the transformation quickly.
On the other hand, fully office-oriented enterprises with only desktops at their disposal needed to reinvest in end-user computers quickly, while the supply was quite limited. Not thinking long-term further complicated the complex challenges businesses were facing. As a result, security became a secondary concern.
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“Only 10% of UK businesses have active cybersecurity programs or risk management programs — most people think a working computer is good enough. But that computer has no actual application of security controls.”
In comparison, Optimised IT went fully remote a couple of weeks before the general lockdown in the country. A lot of what the company did was already in the cloud environment, so as long as the wifi connection worked, they could continue operating and delivering services and projects without changing anything in their setup.
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“We as a company always wanted to bring other people on the journey towards the hybrid way of working the way Optimising IT had — enabling consistently sound experience regardless of where employees are located.”
However, every customer has different issues, knowledge, and requirements to achieve a strategy aligned with business needs when reaching out to a managed IT services provider. Choosing a solution suitable for both the client and convenient for the service provider is the main challenge when looking for a most fitting outcome.
Effective and affordable instead of expensive and bespoke
Clients that turn to Optimised IT end up on two different ends of the spectrum. One approach is to take full ownership of the company’s IT life cycle. The other approach is to provide specific niche capabilities and support organizations that lack the IT skills in the areas they need it.
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“Roughly 80% of organizations that refer to Optimised IT wants us to hand down all ownership of their IT, while the rest come to us because they lack exact IT knowledge and want some help for achieving specific outcomes.”
Customers come with varied requests — it can be creating an entire end-user computer networking security strategy or performing a modern workplace transition out of an on-site setup.
There are a few ways to approach client requests within the three main pillars the service provider functions in; setting up a client, interconnecting people to the cloud, and sorting out end-user devices.
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“Our job is to figure out whether we need access to scan company devices 24/7 to ensure they are relatively secure or decide that buying some software instead of devices is the right solution.”
Optimised IT presented 2 use cases of their recent customers to illustrate how they fulfilled their needs with a single solution.
NordLayer application to different uses of Optimising IT customers
A: global software developer needs to appear local
Client A is a software development business, a startup headquartered in the UK that does work for government agencies. Most of the team is located in the UK, with the developer team spread across the globe.
They operate in macOS/iOS environments, using G-suite for productivity purposes only. OneLogin SSO is the primary user management solution throughout the company, and they do not have a dedicated IT team.
Local and global teams must appear on the same public IP address.
Need to increase network security for developers outside the UK and mitigate the region-specific risks and challenges.
Optimising IT could have built a bespoke solution using a technology stack and hosting an appliance of the cloud, but this would have been needlessly expensive.
Instead, they chose to deploy a simple, straightforward, and affordable solution. NordLayer provides a private server at a very reasonable monthly cost, allowing businesses to create their own dedicated public IP address.
Working with OneLogin, this is a cost-effective and easy-to-use agent that works with Mac and iOS devices for access control.
Optimising IT utilized NordLayer infrastructure for tunneling and creating the private IP address. The deployment involved 14 people, and the whole process from start to finish took up to 2 days.
B: local e-commerce retailer looking into global markets
Client B is an e-commerce premium footwear brand mainly operating in the United Kingdom. The entity is London-based and has staff in Germany and Italy to cover its talent gaps.
The organization primarily operates in Microsoft and Office365 environments using Azure AD as its SSO user management platform.
The customer’s target audience covers the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other global markets they trade in.
A web testing tool for the London-based team IP address to appear in a relevant country of choice, as opposed to always being in the UK to check and test:
Country-specific user interface.
Deploying NordLayer was even more straightforward. Optimised IT tuned the IP address according to company requirements, and integrated Azure AD. The solution was solved and deployed in a single day.
A variety of challenges — one straightforward solution
The trend for customers moving forward with security and remote work strategies is clear — soon, more businesses will be using SaaS applications, migrating to 100% cloud environments, and connecting via VPN as the office density remains low.
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“We see an unstoppable globalization process — more UK customers have global presences, operating under different jurisdictions. The tendency is strong with a hybrid workforce, so potentially we will see more examples like our discussed companies, not less of them.”
For an MSP service provider, it’s essential to have a set of tools it can deploy across different technology types, giving companies everything they need from a security perspective. Therefore, speed and simplicity are key.
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“The whole process of onboarding to NordLayer and getting through to the point where we can deliver a solution to a customer — understanding the process of building the platform, deploying, configuring, and integrating among all those different technologies vendors found the solution very straightforward.”
The coaction of simple solutions and managed IT service providers to provide approachable security solutions to small and medium enterprises helps achieve desired security outcomes for companies.
Government legislation is becoming increasingly likely to be formed around standard security capabilities for SMBs worldwide. Soon enough, what is considered a recommendation, will become a requirement. Therefore, a timely IT strategy must be implemented as soon as possible regardless of the business needs or level of support.
Pro cybersecurity tips
Cybersecurity for some SMBs might seem like an invincible challenge charged with overwhelming questions about where to start and what to do to ensure business security. With years of experience and expertise in creating IT strategies for organizations, Technical Director of Optimising IT Todd Gifford shares the critical focus points for small and medium enterprises:
NordLayer can be an easy answer to the cybersecurity challenge on your hands. Unlike complicated and expensive solutions, it’s the most straightforward answer to many security problems SMBs face. Whether your business operates as an MSP partner or your company decides to handle challenges yourselves, NordLayer can help your business.
Are you looking for cybersecurity tools that you could offer to your clients? Join NordLayer’s partner program and make their cybersecurity journey easier.