Taking the Long View -The forward-thinking IT company and Canada Partner of the Year reflect on their 20-year journey to the top

July 11, 2018
Published by MPN Canada on 11 July 2018 Do you want to build your cloud business? If so, check out this story about Long View Systems, the multi-Award-winning IT firm based in Calgary, Alberta. Founded in 1999, Long View emerged in recent years as one of North America’s biggest and best technical IT powerhouses. In 2017, they won the Microsoft IMPACT award for Enterprise Cloud Partner of the Year – Canada. And they were chosen runner up for the Global Hybrid Cloud and Infrastructure Platform Partner of the Year Award. This year, they won took the top prize: 2018 Canada Partner of the Year! A different vision Now don’t let their size or all the impressive technical accolades fool you; Long View is all about people. In fact, while most companies dream of getting acquired or going public, Long View takes a refreshingly unique view. Their goal is to be a 100-year company, not to get bought or acquired. No regrets careers They also believe in “no regrets” careers. They’ve invested in a business culture that enables employees to build prosperous lives and work in a dynamic environment. Because of this empowering approach, employees grow strong and healthy relationships with customers, partners, and their communities. “When you work in a great, healthy spot, you go back and contribute to your community in a positive way. That’s what we’re driven by.” Employees matter Case in point: Long View’s company’s management takes the time to go through a career/life planning process with its employees quarterly. Employees meet with their leaders to understand how they can develop and put a plan together charting their professional development. While this type of HR policy may seem touchy-feely to some (especially in the old macho tech industry), it makes a lot of business sense. After all, turnover is endemic in today’s talent marketplace. Principled approach Not exactly Gordon Gecko, right? Well, their business success demonstrates that growth and size do not need to come at the expense of ethics. With over 1100 employees working in offices in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto, Denver, and Houston, Long View’s clever solutions and flexible services attract diverse enterprise customers in both the private and public sectors. “We are honoured to be chosen as the Canada Partner of the Year and to be recognized for our accomplishments within the Canadian partner community.” – Brent Allison, CEO, Long View OneCloud Take OneCloud, to start. Despite the benefits, it’s often difficult for organizations to evaluate, select, and manage the right mix of cloud technology. OneCloud solves that problem by unravelling the complexity and providing a single, customized solution addressing cloud workloads that reside in both public and on-premises environments. “Azure is our first choice and our major provider for cloud. We also have our own geographical cloud in Canada and the U.S. for those unique applications that need more white-glove service. So, it’s about providing our clients with the right cloud for the right workload.” SyncSource Then there’s SyncSource. This Long View solution helps customers understand and procure the right software and hardware. Long View ensures customers utilize what they pay for through technology adoption programs with digital architects. By leveraging software asset management and optimization, they ensure their customers use licenses effectively and get the best technology ROI. “We’re progressing from a standard, value-added reseller into a true business solution provider. And we’re fully aligned and engaged with Microsoft as a key partner.” Security solutions Long View is also a security specialist with a range of solutions on offer. CyberWatch, its managed security service, includes remote monitoring, detection, and response services. CyberShield, another security solution, provides a compliance managed security service. This depth and specialty of service helps customers operating in multiple, rigorous regulatory environments protect their interests from modern threats. Service desk Finally, there’s good old-fashioned support! Its Gartner-rated service desk helps clients with their technology every step of the way—from deployment and training, to day-to-day use. Behind the scenes, they manage everything for their clients, empowering them to focus on more strategic business activities than managing updates. “In this mobile-first, cloud-first era it’s an exciting time to be a Microsoft partner in Canada. We are honoured to be chosen as the Canada Partner of the Year and to be recognized for our accomplishments within the Canadian partner community.” – Don Bialik, CEO, Long View Microsoft Partner of the Year Award For its excellence, Long View received the Microsoft Canada Partner of the Year Award—the top prize for any partner that’s celebrated every year at Microsoft Inspire! Highly prestigious, Country Partner of the year Awards recognizes the best of the best worldwide: companies put forward as examples of excellence for every partner. To give you a sense of Long View’s achievement, Microsoft received over 2,600 nominations from 115 countries across 39 global award opportunities. And there are over 100 Country Partner of the Year Awards as well. “We did this in partnership with Microsoft. They gave us direction, they gave us insight, they gave us wisdom. Right down to the executives, they kept mentoring us and guiding us through this transformation.”
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Rhonda Bashnick, CFO, On Leading With Passion and Courage

July 10, 2018
Complacency isn’t in Rhonda Bashnick’s repertoire. From her early career in the oil and gas industry, to her leadership roles in tax and finance at Shaw Communications when the Internet was in its infancy, Rhonda is always looking for the next big challenge. Now, her forward momentum has brought her to Long View, where, as our first female CFO, she is leading the team that will bring us into our next major phase of growth. On Passion and Team Building “I’m passionate about what I do,” says Rhonda. “I think that is my real strength.” That passion encompasses many aspects of her career, from the tech industry to finance to building the cohesive, high performing teams that are vital to the kind of work she strives to achieve. “That’s what I really love is building these great teams that can give operations that extra knowledge that they need to make the right decisions.” Rhonda sees her team not as a cog in the wheel, but as a partner with the company. “I want to build that finance team that doesn’t just deliver results, but that delivers the results and gives business insights that help drive the business forward.” This was Rhonda’s vision when she built Shaw’s first in-house tax group, and then went on to become the VP Finance: “I led a very large team there,” she recalls, “and I’m proud because I’d say we built a world-class finance team.” Now, building her team at Long View, Rhonda is pleased with the results. “I really enjoy working with the people here," she says. "I really see that we can work together and take this company to the next level.” On Being a Woman in Tech The seventeen years Rhonda spent with Shaw saw the advent of the Internet, VOIP and WiFi — an exciting time to work in tech, and an environment that suited Rhonda’s passion for forward movement. She admits, “Tech was always very interesting for me, and continues to be so, because it’s always evolving.” Being a woman in the tech industry, for Rhonda, isn’t just about passion — it’s also about representation. “Technology has changed our lives, and it’s going to continue to change our lives,” she enthuses. “ Technology impacts everybody. So we need leaders who represent the people who are being impacted.” On Leadership and Risk Over the course of her career, Rhonda has fine-tuned her approach to leadership. “First and foremost, it’s all about integrity,” says Rhonda. “Particularly in my role in finance, I always stand behind doing the right thing. People respect you for that.” And Rhonda reflects that respect back to her team members; she is intentional about being transparent, about sharing her passion and vision, and about acknowledging the team’s achievements. “It wasn’t me who did great things, it was the team. We did great things together. It’s about acknowledging that.” Integrity, respect and teamwork are cornerstones of Rhonda’s leadership, but another quality she both embodies and recommends to future leaders is courage. “Use the courage,” she exhorts. “Be bold. Keep reaching forward, keep moving forward. Take a chance. Because I look back and I think, if I hadn’t taken some chances over the years I would never be where I am today. And I love what I do, I feel privileged to have had the opportunities I’ve had, to work with the people I have, and it was all just taking that next step. Did I ever think I’d be a Senior VP at Shaw or the CFO here? No, I didn’t. It was just the next step.” On Long View and the Future Being the CFO at Long View wasn’t Rhonda’s plan. “I had actually retired. I was retired for about 17 months,” she recalls, “and initially I had said no.” But after meeting with Don Bialik, Long View’s Executive Chairman, she realized this was another risk she wanted to take. “I really like Don. I liked his passion for this company, his passion for the people here, and his vision for being a 100 year company, and I thought, I want to be part of that. I’ve still got some stuff left in me.” Rhonda doesn’t come out of retirement for nothing. She’s got big plans for her finance team. “Finance needs to make a big impact here at Long View,” she says.  “We’re taking this company to a billion dollars in revenue, and I want to be part of it. So that is my next challenge.”
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SCCM Cloud Management Gateway

April 18, 2018
  If you ask any SCCM administrator, they’ll tell the most obvious pain point around client management is how to deal with internet-facing clients.  In the early days of SCCM 2007, Microsoft developed a functional, yet complicated solution for internet-based client management, or otherwise known as IBCM….and no, not ICBM.  It required additional SCCM infrastructure to exist in the DMZ, while poking holes through the external firewalls to reach the internal network and SCCM hierarchy residing there.  This external infrastructure is also exposed to the Internet, as well as causes additional overhead and operational cost.  During those early days of configuring IBCM, there was not much supporting documentation from Microsoft or the community, and the SCCM admin usually would have to zigzag through the process.  Admittedly, Microsoft and the SCCM community have in the past few years put together comprehensive guides to implementing IBCM… and that is something this SCCM admin has been extremely grateful for.   Fast-forward nearly a decade later to SCCM 1610 Current Branch.  Microsoft releases a pre-release feature that has become a contender to the behemoth of IBCM: the Cloud Management Gateway.  In very elegant fashion, Microsoft simplified and modernized the notion of managing internet-facing devices through SCCM.  The hardware requirements to have in the DMZ and be exposed to the Internet was no more.  Instead, with the use of a new PaaS type cloud service residing inside a company’s Microsoft Azure tenant, communication between internet-based clients to the internal SCCM environment is now handled in a secure, certificate-based method.  Also, I might add that this is significantly easier to implement than an intercontinental ballistic missile … for those that are acronym-challenged.   CMG has some other side benefits besides the obvious connectivity feature to internet devices.  Combining the CMG service with another PaaS service, the Cloud Distribution Point, you then have a winning combination of actually deploying applications and software patches to our internet-facing client friends.  Then you have pure simple scalability.  Each PaaS service can support 4000 devices and provisioning another CMG service can be done very easily from within the SCCM console.   Some detractors would say that the requirement of an Azure subscription is a huge roadblock due to cost and overhead.  Perhaps network egress costs of content flowing to those internet clients is a scary thought.  I would say, yes proceed with caution, and that if you are really serious about leveraging Azure cloud in this manner, some math homework will be in order.   Just some quick calculations for outbound data transfer costs: Assume 10,000 clients x 100MB (machine policy request/once per hour) = 1TB per month Rate = $.14 per GB x 1TB = $140/mo.   CMG (PaaS Service Cost) (A2 VM) = $133.92/mo   Total: $357/mo   Let’s not be neglectful by leaving out the costs of applications/patching payloads.  Of course, for every enterprise, those numbers will vary, and this will be the additional homework for any SCCM admin or organization that should be willing to do if attempting to persuade the power-that-be of this type of solution.   For those companies that are truly trying to embrace the cloud-side of life, this new feature for SCCM Current Branch helps to adopt a truly modern workplace IT scenario.  CMG is truly a testament to Microsoft’s dedication of a long-standing (25 years folks!) toolset that continues to deliver for enterprise environments everywhere.
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Activate Digital 2018: More Than A Call To Action!

April 6, 2018
  During the #ActivateDigital2018 Conference in Guelph, Microsoft President Kevin Peesker and I gave an interview on where the digital evolution is heading in this country. In talking about our vision and the passion we share for Canada and its future as a dominant player in the emerging digital economy, we also discussed the responsibility all organizations have regarding the need to evolve from both a technological as well as a cultural standpoint. In fact, and in speaking about ICT professionals, Kevin went so far as to say that if you are a check the box on a menu service provider, you will need to look for a new career because this will not cut it in today’s fast-paced, highly complex world. The reason for this seismic shift is simple; customers are more advanced and technologically astute than they were in years past. Now I am not suggesting that clients have all the answers to their technological or digital questions. However, they know what they want to accomplish, and what they need to look for in a service provider, and it isn’t a product list. What they want is a partner – or technologist as Kevin put it, who has an organizational depth that can empower them to move their Business agenda forward with a digital transformation strategy. Of course, on the client-side of the equation, organizations must also go through a cultural shift regarding how they view their business model in the context of their digital future. One example Kevin gave during the interview was a Canadian financial institution who has been in existence since before Canada became a country. Specifically, their recognition that they were a technology company that provides banking services. In short, and in the new digital age, we are all technology companies because we all need to recognize that digital reinvention is not a case of “if” but rather “when” and that organizations will either transform or be “transformed” by this new reality. Unfortunately, not all companies are hearing the call. According to an HBR report “most incumbent firms are failing to adjust to the digital era.” This disconnect, or more to the point bridging this disconnect, is why the #ActivateDigital2018 Conference is so important. It is more than simply a call to action. It is a call to action that provides a means by which those in attendance gain access to this country’s biggest and brightest digital minds, and an unprecedented depth of resources that can facilitate the certain transition into the brave new digital world. Now you might be thinking that the conference has already taken place and that if you were not able to attend, you missed the opportunity. While I will encourage you to make plans to attend #ActivateDigital2019, you have access to Long View Systems’ deep knowledge and resources, including a series of eight 30-minute podcasts featuring the speakers and industry thought leaders who were at this year’s conference. In the end, the ACTIVATEDIGITAL 2018 Conference is not a one-time engagement but is a continuing and essential part of your growing knowledge base through your partnership with Long View Systems. We look forward to working with you to achieve your digital objectives!
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Are Your SCCM Clients Healthy?

April 5, 2018
Let’s face it.  Although System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is a great tool for software installation, patch implementation, and just down right making a System’s Administrator’s job a lot easier, it’s not perfect.  For all of the fore mentioned things to take place, one major component needs to be working spot on. The SCCM machine client. The SCCM machine client is what communicates between the computer and the Management Point in the SCCM infrastructure to allow software to be pushed from software Distribution Points to the workstation or server and either installs required software, such as patches or updates, or makes applications available for install to a certain collection of devices or users.  When there is a breakdown in communication between the client and the Management Point, the machine never receives these important updates, which could lead to the machines not working properly or possibly making them susceptible to virus attacks.  Needless to say, improper client remediation can possibly be a costly expense to a corporation, if not addressed immediately. Throughout the years, SCCM Administrators have had their struggles with finding the cause of faulty clients and performing a proper remediation. In most cases, it may be simpler to just uninstall and reinstall the client. But, what about the circumstances that can’t be solved by this method? Do you back up the data on the machine, re-image the machine, and start fresh?  Of course not.  That’s when you need someone with the knowledge and powerful tools to help you find out what the underlying problems could be.  These issues could range from a corrupt WMI to communications between endpoints.  But, how do you troubleshoot these types of issues and get down to the solution?  That’s where Long View Systems comes in.  Long View has top notch SCCM Consultants that have the expertise and tools needed to perform a total assessment of, not only your system client health, but your entire SCCM Infrastructure.  And the end of your SCCM Health assessment, your Long View Consultant will provide you a report, go over the issues that need to be addressed to provide the best SCCM environment possible, and give you step by step procedures on how they can fix the problems that plague your current infrastructure.   Jasper McLarrin, Systems Consultant, Long View Systems
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Modernizing Security Alongside Digital Transformation

March 12, 2018
Download our latest case study Modernizing security alongside digital transformation written in partnership with Microsoft.
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Data Centric Empowerment In The Digital Age

February 23, 2018
You have undoubtedly heard the famous quote; “what’s in a name.” In this article, I would like you to join me as I delve a little deeper into that question regarding Pure Storage and the evolution of data management. You see in this age of digital transformation; the word transformation takes on a very real and important meaning for a modern data storage company like ours in that we believe organizations must liberate themselves from managing their data and move towards truly leveraging it to transform their businesses. In other words, you can no longer look at data as something you store but, as a critical asset, in which you can turn it into intelligence and ultimately competitive advantage. Or as one of my associates put it; “Data is the new oil - it is the single most important asset that companies have today.” To maximize your return on such a valuable asset requires that you adopt what I call a data-centric architecture framework. Specifically, organizations have to put data at the core of their infrastructure in which they manage their “own” data-as-a-service environment, through the provision of rich storage services. These storage services are controlled and delivered to support production, development/testing, and analytics environments. In establishing your data-centric architecture, you need to: ·       Consolidate and simplify on flash; ·       Provide real-time accessibility with the necessary performance to power next-gen analytics and insights; ·       Create an on-demand and self-driving capability that transforms your storage team into a storage service provider for the organization; ·       Accommodate a multi-cloud environment, allowing you to manage data across private clouds, public clouds, or no clouds; ·       Ensure ongoing or continuous adaptability so that your data architecture is ready to support what the business will demand, including AI, advanced analytics, DevOps, containerization, and CI/CD.   Based on the above, when you think of Pure Storage, recognize that besides delivering a simple, don’t need to read the instructions evergreen data platform, we are helping everyone to turn their data into intelligence and advantage, and through it empowering innovators to build a better world. Now, this is what I call true digital (and business) transformation. The Pure Storage team is looking forward to meeting you at Long View’s ACTIVATEDIGITAL 2018 Conference on February 27th in Guelph to share more exciting insights into how we can empower you to put data to work for your organization!
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Eliminating Digital Ambiguity Through Virtualization

February 21, 2018
  This past September I wrote an article titled Charting our Path Forward: Recapping VMworld 2017. In it, I talked about how VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger who, in explaining how technology is “leaving the nest” as it becomes increasingly “woven” into the fabric of our everyday lives, laid out the following four-step cloud strategy: 1.    Make private cloud easy; 2.    Form deep partnerships with major cloud providers; 3.    Expand the VMware Partner Cloud Network; 4.    Offer a portfolio of cloud services. I had originally planned to dedicate this Spotlight article to expand on each of these four steps. However, it dawned on me that while I know the great insight and expertise that went into developing the VMware strategy, explaining what differentiates our approach to activating the multi-cloud/no cloud environment from other strategies will provide the proper lens through which to view our value proposition. Or to put it another way, share with you how VMware eliminates the ambiguities of computing in the new digital era and converting its promise into tangible outcomes for our clients. To start, it begins with pedigree. More specifically, VMware was the first commercially successful company to “virtualize” hardcoded processor intelligence, i.e., the x86 architecture that enabled us to understand the pathway in which software could be used to simultaneously run multiple operating systems and applications -- on a single server. In essence, transform a single x86-based server into a viable, virtual platform for business. What this means is that whether you operate in a private cloud, public cloud, no cloud, or a combination of these environments, VMware virtualization will increase IT agility, flexibility, and scalability while creating significant cost savings. This last point is particularly important in that some think that virtualization is synonymous with “the cloud.” Cloud computing is not the same thing as virtualization. Cloud computing describes the delivery or sharing of computer resources – including data, through the Internet on an on-demand basis. But you do not need to be in the cloud to virtualize your servers. Of course at the heart of a transformative virtual capability is not just technology. Considerations regarding security are what I referred to in my earlier article as being a “core component of our strategy.” In a future post, I will go into greater detail regarding VMware’s three-tiered approach to cybersecurity, which focuses on layering security technologies into everything we do. In the meantime, I invite you to meet with our VMware team to learn more about charting your organization’s digital path forward at Long View’s ACTIVATEDIGITAL 2018 Conference on February 27th in Guelph.
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Transform Or BeTransformed: The New Digital Reality

February 16, 2018
Back in December, I wrote an article regarding the Microsoft Tech Summit in Toronto, and how “it is an exciting time to be in technology.” Over the 2-days and 80 amazing sessions, everyone gained insight into the tremendous promise and prosperity of the emerging digital era. Regardless of the industry or sector, you are in, or whether you are part of the government or a budding SMB entrepreneur, the same digital promise holds true across the board. Given the breadth of its impact which permeates into all areas of our everyday lives, it is no wonder that digital transformation is one of the hottest topics globally. A testimony to this fact is that the World Economic Forum predicts that the digital economy will be worth over $100 trillion by 2025. However, with the great promise, there is an even greater responsibility for business leaders to be champions of what a recent Harvard Business Review article called “digital reinvention.” According to a study cited by HBR, only a minority of companies have taken the necessary steps toward reinvention, meaning that in conjunction with restructuring their businesses they are also investing “more money than their peers into an aggressive digital strategy based on new platform business models.” Based on the HBR reported findings, this means that “most incumbent firms are failing to adjust to the digital era.” In this context, these businesses would be wise to recognize that digital reinvention is not a case of “if” but rather “when.” Or to put it more succinctly the time is now, and organizations will either transform or be “transformed.” So what does digital transformation look like in a practical sense? As part of his presentation, at the Toronto Tech Summit, Arpan Shah spoke with Param Singh, who is the Chief Operating Officer at Mojio. For those unfamiliar with the company, Mojio’s platform provides drivers with simple, snap-in access to the data generated by their car through the company’s app. The app enables you as a driver to plan and record trips, share driving information and better understand the health of your car. Mojio’s ultimate goal is to provide a turnkey aftermarket “connected” car solution for consumers via their business partners, e.g., Mobile operators, Auto OEMs, etc. While Mojio experienced tremendous success at an early stage, and at a furious pace, the resulting avalanche of incoming data through their app threatened to overwhelm the company’s existing platform within the year. In Mojio’s case, digital reinvention or transformation came through management’s proactive decision to launch a second-generation platform 50 percent faster than anticipated, while avoiding an additional $1 million in estimated development costs. The key point that I want to stress here is that digital transformation is not a one-time event, but reflects an attitude of perpetual curiosity, an openness to new ideas, and an unquenchable desire to achieve more. For Mojio, this mindset has seen the company grow from a bold start-up to becoming the cloud platform of choice for the deployment of secure, connected car apps and services. In fact, Mojio, who is currently live in 5 countries, is now connected to more than 5000 unique vehicle models, with 500,000 paying subscribers who have driven 5,000,0000+ miles making them the leading platform in the aftermarket for connected cars. Similar to the Microsoft Tech Summit in Toronto, which is what I referred to as being a “great coming together of innovative IT minds and creative solutions,” I am equally excited about sharing how your organization can make digital transformation real at Long View’s ACTIVATEDIGITAL 2018 Conference in Guelph on the 27th of February.
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When It Comes To Security In The Digital Age, You Have To Play The Man Not The Puck

February 14, 2018
Given the title of my article, it is obvious that I am a hockey fan. However, and based on my recent conversation with Richard Stiennon who is Chief Research Analyst at IT-Harvest, and author of the book Surviving Cyber War, you don’t have to be a fan of the sport to understand the hockey-security analogy. For those of you who may not know Richard, he is the holder of Gartner’s Thought Leadership award and was named “one of the 50 most powerful people in Networking” by Network World Magazine. While Richard does not follow hockey, he readily understood my comment about playing the man instead of the puck from the standpoint of managing threats as opposed to managing risk. In his years of experience in advising top US government organizations and corporations in the private sector, he said that the clients who are the most vulnerable are those who solely focus their attention on trying to determine what data they should be protecting as opposed to identifying “the actors” who will perpetrate an attack. In other words, you have to protect yourself against the “who” not just the “what.” With hockey, coaches teach players to play the man (the who) and not the puck (the what), because if they focus on the puck, the opposing player will almost always evade them and get a shot on net. Having been in the security industry for many years, I can tell you with confidence that even the best protective measures be it with people or technology, will not protect you unless you understand the makeup of your security ecosystem. Specifically the people, the environment, and the technology. Once you have identified the external industry-specific actors who are likely to pose a threat and monitor their activity, you then have to build your security ecosystem, by asking the following three questions: 1.    Do you know what “normal” is in your environment from the standpoint of activity and access? 2.    Do you have control of your privileged access points? For example, the breach of an employee’s “personal” ID is not as bad as a breach involving a core system administrator’s ID. 3.    Do you know what’s connected, and more specifically do you know what’s running on your network – the advent of the BYOD employee is one thing that immediately comes to mind? When it comes down to it, security in the digital age is as much about having the right intelligence as it does having the right technology. Or to put it more succinctly, it is when we understand the source of the threat that we can protect against its risk. I will look forward to talking with you more about security in the digital age at our Long View ACTIVATEDIGITAL 2018 Conference on February 27th in Guelph.
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