Canada’s Best Managed: A Commitment to Quality and Innovation

April 1, 2017
March 31st was a significant day in the Best Managed Companies calendar – it’s the day we get together as a group, reflect, and celebrate the achievements of the past year. As a member of the Best Managed team, I am thrilled for all the companies that are involved this year. Long View being one of them. As the country’s preeminent business recognition award, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program celebrates excellence in private company management; specifically, those key attributes which contribute to a company’s long term sustainability. These attributes include corporate strategy, core competencies, culture and financial performance. Management continually leverages these and other disciplines to ensure they remain aligned with their customers, staff and the communities they serve. During the program’s twenty three history, Deloitte and our program partners have found that even the best corporate strategy can’t guarantee success. Sustainable, profitable growth ultimately depends upon those who must execute the strategy, and management’s commitment to demonstrate the company’s core values. Management consultants often refer to this as synergy; I prefer to call it teamwork. The past several months have been difficult – certainly unpredictable – for Alberta’s business community. Even those not directly vested in the province’s energy sector are impacted by the dramatic decline in energy prices. Companies such as Long View have witnessed turbulent times before, and have demonstrated their commitment to quality and innovation in uncertain times. Anticipating market trends as best they can, they continue to innovate while investing in both client relationships and staff. In this way, ‘Long View’ – like many other program members in Alberta – exemplifies the qualities of a ‘Best Managed’ Company. While no one can predict the future, companies based on a strong foundation, guided by principled leadership, are well equipped to navigate the sometimes challenging landscape. Now in its sixth year in the program, Long View has achieved ‘Gold’ status, and remains a valued member in this internationally recognized business award. Best Managed recipients are an elite category in the Canadian private company marketplace. On behalf of our program partners, Deloitte is delighted by Long View’s continued membership in the program.  
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Digital Transformation with Sean Culbert

March 17, 2017

Mr. Sean Culbert is Long View’s Microsoft OneCloud Business Development Manager and was interviewed on Radio NL Local First 610 AM Kamloops, BC ahead of his talk at the 2016/17 Technology and Innovation Speaker Series. The series took place at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops (March 17th) where he presented on ‘Innovate or Risk becoming Obsolete’.

Listen to Mr. Sean Culbert's interview:

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The Three Things You Can Think About Today to Get Ready for the Cloud

January 9, 2017
The cloud is not an all-or-nothing decision, nor a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s about finding the right place for the right application. Often, that means finding the right mix of workloads and applications that transcend all three areas of cloud – on-premises, private and public. When a company decides to move a workload to cloud, it is to solve a business problem – a fairly commonplace solution in today’s world. What is important are the steps taken to evaluate, select and manage the right cloud – or clouds – to meet the specific business need. Here are three things you can begin to think about today to get ready for the cloud:
  1. Where are you on the cloud maturity curve?
This is your Capabilities Maturity Model Integration Assessment. It’s a helpful starting point for understanding if you’re ready to move to the cloud. Ask yourself the following questions to see where you think your organization falls in the following 4 categories – People – Process – Technology – Business along the spectrum:
  • Are you still sitting on legacy infrastructure?
  • Do you need to standardize and consolidate some of your infrastructure?
  • Are you at the point where you can virtualize and optimize your infrastructure?
  • Can you begin to automate the infrastructure’s capabilities and move toward being more service oriented? This is possible if your infrastructure is virtualized.
  • Are you ahead of the curve and able to adaptively source? This means you can spread your workloads across multiple clouds.
When you understand where you are from a maturity standpoint, you can begin to look at location, delivery and consumption of your applications; or it may highlight some work that needs to happen before you can begin leverage the cloud.
  1. How do you want to deliver and consume your applications?
This evaluation assesses the application delivery and consumption platforms your business may choose. It is entirely workload dependent. Take an as example a legacy application of an oil company. They need to keep their data for 25 years to comply with Health, Safety and Environmental issues. It may make sense to keep the data on legacy infrastructure now, but in two to three years they may want to move it into converged infrastructure. Or, if the application is not heavily used it might be best to have it spun up into the cloud. With each workload ask yourself these three questions:
  1. Where do I need to deliver the application from?
  2. How do I want to consume it?
  3. From which platform?
  1. How do you want to manage it?
This piece evaluates service management, focused on the full scope of the service. This includes the application, the underlying infrastructure, and the cloud itself – the full stack. What will work best for you to support your entire infrastructure? The answer is related to the type of infrastructure you’ve decided on.
  • Legacy infrastructure might be best supported by legacy operations.
  • Converged infrastructure might be best supported by hybrid operations.
  • Cloud and converged infrastructure might be best supported by out-sourced operations.
If you don’t know the answers to these questions today, that’s okay! We can help you discover the answers. Building a roadmap to the cloud and developing a cloud strategy are essential to your success. We can work with you from start to finish. We pride ourselves on our experience and expertise in selecting the customized set of solutions that’s right for your business. See for yourself on January 11, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. EST during our webinar, Why the Public Cloud is Not Enough: Maximizing Your Cloud Investment, as we walk through a cloud and application assessment to share how your organization can become cloud-enabled. Register Now.  

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Why a Cloud Project Might Fail: Look at Your Network

January 3, 2017
  Have you heard the saying, “Your cloud is only as good as your network”? It’s true. Your network is critical to cloud computing. In fact, an incorrectly designed or improperly sized network means no cloud. There are countless stories of organizations that tried to move their workloads to the cloud, but failed. The reason: their network. Their current state simply wouldn’t support moving workloads to the cloud. Why Your Network is Critical to Cloud Projects The cloud – whether internal, private or public – relies on connectivity. The network plays a key role in the delivery and performance of cloud-based services, connecting the user to their application in the cloud, as well as enabling cloud-to-cloud connections. Often network inadequacies are related to:
  • Inefficient bandwidth
  • Limited network security
  • Poor visibility
  • Lack of control
  • Inconsistent user experience
Before beginning any cloud initiative, you need to look at your network readiness. It is important to determine how the network is configured, if it can be leveraged, or if there needs to be some architectural changes in order to support the cloud project. The likelihood of needing to optimize your network is high. We’ve found that an organization can see returns on investment into network upgrades in less than 12 months, depending on the technology and solution adopted. Consider this: the amount of data centre traffic dedicated to cloud-based services is expected to quadruple from 2016 to 2020, at which point it will make up three-quarters of all data centre traffic worldwide. Individual enterprises will be the ones driving that growth, so it’s essential that they have the right network in place to support this dramatic global transformation. You need a network to match your cloud. Running mission-critical business applications over the cloud requires a network that is:
  • Resilient and able to withstand failures.
  • Flexible in its ability to add or change endpoints.
  • Scalable in response to changing bandwidth needs.
  • Secure to ensure regulatory compliance.
  • High-performing, with service level agreements (SLAs) ensuring reliable access from multiple locations and device types.
Is your network “cloud-ready”? If you’re not sure and want to find out more about moving your applications and workloads to the cloud, join our free cloud-enablement webinar, Why the Public Cloud is Not Enough: Maximizing Your Cloud Investment, on January 26th, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. EST, to walk through a cloud and application assessment. Register Now. You can also read our eBook, Why the Public Cloud is Not Enough, for more information about cloud readiness and hybrid IT. Download Your Free Copy.  

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Disaster Recovery: Don’t Play Against the Odds

December 27, 2016
Business disaster can come in many forms and varying sizes – from a tiny software component malfunction to power outages, large-scale natural disasters, hackers and DDoS attacks. What’s shocking is that many organizations are unaware of the types of disasters they’re guarding against, if their applications are protected, and what the consequences are if mission-critical applications are unavailable. Effects of these disasters could range from a small interruption in service to total shutdown. And businesses are making a bad bet; according to the Aberdeen study Playing Russian Roulette with Poor Disaster Recovery:

“Businesses are betting on a 33% chance that they will experience no significant downtime while ignoring that 33% possibility that they will experience downtime that will lead to losses of over two million dollars.”

The consequences of losing are not worth playing the odds. A proper plan is needed to ensure an organization can recover in an event of total shutdown, as well as during other instances where a certain application may become unavailable or need to be restored.

 Understanding Availability, Disaster Recovery and Backup: 

  1. Availability provides granular recovery of a system by increasing its accessibility.
Take a web application as an example. This web application sits on an application server. Obviously, if something were to happen to the server, the application becomes unavailable. In order to ensure its availability, a second application server can be added so that if one server goes down, the other can guarantee the application remains accessible.
  1. Disaster Recovery allows for total restoration of an environment to its previous state.
In the event of a disaster, an organization can recover data from their disaster recovery site and restore all applications without a long service interruption. If an organization has ten application servers and only one of these fails, invoking Disaster Recovery is not a viable option. In this case, ensuring the availability of the application provides for faster recovery. However, if all ten servers are corrupted, Disaster Recovery will safeguard data and provide quicker restoration. 
  1. Backup delivers a replication of an application’s data from a secure copy.
Let’s say someone changed the coding in an application, which caused the application to stop working. High availability of this application won’t help since the other side of the system will also stop working. Since all other workloads are running normally, invoking a DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan) will also be of little help. In this instance, relying on the backup allows for the granular restoration of the piece of code that was altered. Want to take a deeper dive into disaster recovery, backup, and availability to see how you can use different types of cloud in an effective Disaster Recovery Plan? Download your free copy of Why the Public Cloud is Not Enough: Maximizing Your Cloud Investment with a Hybrid Solution to learn more.    
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Why Three Clouds Are Better Than One

December 19, 2016
Cloud computing is entering its second decade with continued hype and a few remaining misconceptions. Although more and more organizations are turning to the cloud to transform their business, the choice to adopt cloud technologies must be for the transformative outcomes cloud can deliver, rather than for the sake of following the trend. Choosing cloud technologies is not an all-or-nothing decision, nor a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s about finding the right place for the right application.

Your Options: Three Cloud Possibilities Defined

The Internal “On-Premises” Cloud: Data centres owned and operated by the businesses that use them provide an on-premises solution that can enable full customization and more control, which is ideal for mission-critical applications. Maximizing the efficiency of your data centres is the first step to “data centre Nirvana”, creating an “internal cloud” that provides the self-service, automation, agility and efficiency a public cloud can deliver. The Private Cloud: Managed by a third-party provider, a private cloud offers dedicated infrastructure for individual clients. When existing infrastructure investments cannot meet the demands of your organization, a private cloud can provide the scalability, customization and control capabilities your workloads require. In addition, the private cloud can provide the needed agility, security and guaranteed performance if your organization lacks the skill to manage cloud environments. The Public Cloud: Data centres are owned and operated by third-party service providers, and customers share from the same infrastructure pool. A public cloud, like Microsoft Azure and AWS, offers global reach, on-demand scalability and commoditized cloud services at a lower cost. However, limited customization is possible. Just like each company is unique, each cloud solution needs to be as well, tailored to the applications, changing demands and internal requirements of each organization. Every cloud solution requires a unique blend of elements – public, private and on-premises. We call it Hybrid IT.

Why Three Clouds Are Better Than One: Three Points of View

To understand the value of a hybrid solution, look at how certain application considerations affect your choices:
  1. Latency – The speed at which you are able to send and receive data from an application will dictate where your application will reside. If an application requires low latency, meaning faster data transfer, an on-premises solution is best practice. In a private or public cloud scenario, the physical distance between the user and the application could inhibit the necessary latency requirements.
  1. Customization – The nature of an application, its hardware requirements and the need for customization to meet business goals will dictate the type of cloud an application will live in. If high levels of customization are required, the public cloud will not suffice. A private cloud would be ideal to achieve customization requirements and cost-effectiveness.
  1. Data Sovereignty – Government compliance and industry or internal regulations may control where data can reside. It may be compulsory to use an on-premises solution or strict private cloud solution. As more public cloud service providers expand their global data centre footprint (like we saw with Microsoft’s new Canadian data centres), data sovereignty is becoming less of a barrier for public cloud access. However, sensitive data regulations may continue to dictate the type of solution an organization can use.
The right cloud solution is a hybrid cloud solution where applications have a host of considerations that need to be addressed. By looking at the examples of latency, customization and data sovereignty, it is clear one cloud cannot do the job alone. That’s why three clouds are better than one. Hybrid needs to be your strategy. In our eBook, Why Public Cloud is Not Enough: Maximize Your Cloud Investment with a Hybrid Solution, we explain that an effective hybrid cloud combines different cloud types across platforms. You can manage all resources across on-premises, private cloud and public cloud platforms, while blending various consumption models based on the needs of your organization, your workloads, and even the distinct facets of a single application. If you’re wondering how your organization can begin to implement hybrid IT, join our free cloud-enablement webinar, “Why the Public Cloud is Not Enough: Maximizing Your Cloud Investment, on January 26, 2017 at 1 p.m. EST, to walk through a cloud and application assessment with a Long View cloud architect. Register Now.  
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A Better Way to Understand Cloud Infrastructure

December 12, 2016
According to Ed Anderson, research vice president at Gartner, the foundation for staying relevant in this fast-paced world is a cloud-first strategy. However, the cloud is not a one-size-fits-all approach. The challenge is in determining what cloud technologies are the best fit for your organization and unique applications. For IT decision makers, choosing the right mix of cloud infrastructures requires an understanding of the different types of scenarios possible, and selecting the right partner to cloud-enable the business. Have a look at what we mean through this lawn-care analogy: As a homeowner, you know there are a variety of “to-do’s” necessary to keep your home well maintained. One of these is keeping a healthy, green, weed-free lawn. To properly care for your lawn you buy the necessary tools, like a lawnmower and weed whacker. Every week or so you cut and care for the lawn. If something breaks down, you replace or repair it. This is like a traditional infrastructure model, where you own the infrastructure and you do all the work to manage and maintain it. As time passes and your children get older, lawn care becomes the responsibility of your son or daughter. You pay to get the job done as part of an allowance. Your child regularly uses your lawnmower and weed whacker to do the job. If the lawnmower or weed whacker breaks, it’s your responsibility to fix it, but you continue to let your child handle the lawn care. This is how managed services work – you own the environment and pay someone else to manage it for you using your tools. Your children go off to college, and you’re older and tired of the headache of maintaining your lawn and the equipment. So you hire a landscaping service to come and cut the grass every week, using their own equipment, and you pay them each time they do it. This is like the cloud model – private or public. You don’t own any of the infrastructure and do not have to do any of the work. But you know when you look out the window that the lawn is cut and looks great. But, guess what… the landscaping company you hired doesn’t offer weed control. You find a different company that specializes in eliminating weeds. They come at different times to provide an application to make sure your lawn is weed-free. You understand that one size does not fit all, and because the landscaping company you hired is not the best at weed control, you need someone else to handle the task. This is like a hybrid cloud. You’re dealing with more than one vendor and getting everything done in a best-practice scenario. You’ve found the right place to look after each item you needed handled for your home’s lawn care. Long View’s Role: The Property Manager Finding the right service providers can be difficult. What’s even more challenging is managing all the pieces in a hybrid environment. At Long View, we know who the best guys are at “cutting lawns,” in “weed control,” and even in “snow removal.” Our role is akin to a property manager; we help you manage all the moving parts to ensure your cloud infrastructure is done in a best-practice scenario for your organization and unique business applications. If you would like to learn more about how to cloud-enable your business with the right mix of cloud infrastructure, read our eBook: Why the Public Cloud is Not Enough: Maximizing Your Cloud Investment with a Hybrid Solution.

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Why a One-Size-Fits-All Public Cloud Is a Recipe for Disaster

December 8, 2016
“Everything is moving to the public cloud.” We hear that comment a lot in our industry. We’re here to tell you that it’s really not true. Most companies are taking a public cloud-first approach. When the public cloud is not the right fit, companies look to an on-premises or private cloud solution to fill the gap.  Determining which workloads to put in which cloud becomes the challenge.  You need the right mix of workloads (applications) that transcend all three areas of cloud – on-premises, private and public – determined on a case-by-case basis. The public cloud-only approach will be a recipe for disaster. Think of it this way: Applications are like cookies (the baked goods, not the HTTP kind): If you want just one type, all you need is one good recipe that makes a dozen. However, if you want just one vegan/paleo/gluten-free cookie for “that friend”, then you need to make an entirely new batch so that your friend can have that one cookie – and there goes the economy of scale for the one-off situation. Changing just one cookie out of the dozen isn’t an option; it just doesn’t work like that. Similarly, if your entire team uses an application “out-of-the-box”, then the public cloud will work perfectly. Once you begin to configure and customize applications, however, integration with the public cloud can become problematic. Take the example of Exchange for email. If an entire organization only needs to be able to send and receive email, and manage a calendar using Exchange, “out-of-the-box” in a public service is the way to go. However, it’s unlikely this will be the case. Departments with varying job functions have diverse email needs which may require customization and application integration that the public cloud cannot deliver. Hybrid needs to be your strategy.  Another example: A manufacturing company has a department of workers whose job function is to be on the floor making products, but email is needed to receive HR notices, safety correspondences, corporate updates, and to communicate internally. “Out-of-the-box” Exchange would work perfectly, making this group of workers’ email requirements ideal for the public cloud. However, there are others – the architects, the designers, the sales people and so forth – that require a higher level of security, document storage and other restrictions (like data sovereignty or latency concerns that impact the end user experience) that aren’t as available in a public environment. An on-premises environment is a must in order to provide these individuals with the email features necessary to perform their jobs. If we apply a “one-size-fits-all” mindset to this situation, the manufacturing company is either going to cripple the people as a result of poor end user experience and lack of functionality or blow the budget by putting everyone’s email on-premises. Instead, two cloud environments – public and on-premises –  can be stitched together into a hybrid scenario, providing the customization and cost savings the manufacturing company needs to provide all levels of the organization with the right application. The reality is that a “one-size-fits-all” solution will not work for every organization. Your cloud solution needs to be as unique as your business applications are. It’s a matter of finding the right place for the right workload.   Our eBook Why the Public Cloud is Not Enough: Maximizing Your Cloud Investment with a Hybrid Solution details why businesses must strategically choose between on-premises, private and public cloud solutions on an application-by-application basis to successfully implement cloud infrastructure.

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Manage Conference Season (and Access) With Intune

September 6, 2016
As we carry out the summer months and head into the fall, conference season is upon us. Your employees will be traveling all over North America—maybe even all over the world—attending trade shows, networking, presenting, and gathering valuable insights to share with the rest of your organization. If your organization has already deployed Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), having employees in different time zones won’t affect their productivity or access to company data. If two VPs on your sales team need to coauthor a PowerPoint while in different cities, they can do it in real time, even from their smartphones and tablets. Your users can also access their documents and productivity apps from any browser with Office 365, so if they need to quickly print off a one-pager for a new connection, they can do so from any device with an Internet connection—including public computers. Most hotels have a business center where guests can use computers, and conferences or trade shows often have computer kiosks. Anyone can access these, anyone can download documents to these public computers—and then anyone else can see those documents if they’re left on there, which might include proprietary IP or other confidential information. Or your user might not sign out from their Office account, letting anyone else using that computer get access to their account. So what’s IT to do? How do you give your users the flexibility and productivity they need without compromising security?

Limit access with Intune

One straightforward approach: say “no” to unmanaged devices. It’s easy to limit email and OneDrive access to only devices that are managed by your organization using Intune, part of EMS. Intune is Microsoft’s cloud-based management solution for mobile device and application management. It helps you give your users the anywhere, anytime, BYOD access they need while on the road, but helps avoid nightmare scenarios where well-intentioned users accidentally expose sensitive data to the world. In this case, you simply visit the Intune dashboard and change settings so that only managed devices can be used to access email through Exchange Online, or documents stored on OneDrive for Business or SharePoint. That way, you can make sure that your strongly authenticated users will not accidentally leave corporate data on an untrusted computer—making sure your data is secure during conference season.
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Securely Issue Shared Tablets to Your Workers

August 30, 2016
  Task workers are increasingly making use of mobile technologies. Think of the last time you went shopping for clothes, or electronics, or went out to your local coffee shop, or a food truck. More and more, the people helping you see if an item is in stock or pay for your order are using tablets to serve you better. It makes sense: when task workers take technology with them around a warehouse or on a sales floor, they are more productive, more efficient, create a better customer experience, and have better customer interactions—which increases sales. From a user experience and customer engagement perspective, this is a huge improvement. From an IT perspective, however, this presents challenges: chiefly, how do you manage all these tablets?

Intune and limited-use mode

To keep the user experience simple (as well as users on task, and data secure), shared tablets are usually handed to employees in limited-use mode, so that a single line-of-business app is the only thing the employee can interact with. If a worker’s main task is completing transactions, that’s all they need to do on their tablet, and the applications available to them reflect that. If your organization has Office 365 with Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), you’re probably already familiar with Intune, Microsoft’s solution for mobile device and application management. Intune is also your go-to solution for managing shared tablets in limited-use mode. With Intune, you can bulk provision, secure, and centrally manage shared tablets configured to run in limited-use mode. This makes IT’s a job a lot easier: you don’t have to configure settings on individual tablets, and you don’t have to do anything differently than you would for devices not in limited-use mode. With Intune, your transactions, inventory, and other information are protected, no matter what your tablets are used for.
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