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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Cloud Cost Optimization - A Top Priority for SMBs, Midmarket Firms and Channel Partners

According to a series of surveys by Techaisle, cloud cost optimization (CCO) has recently become the top priority for SMBs and midmarket organizations. In 2023-24, cloud cost optimization has moved from being the 2nd priority in 2021-2022 to the 1st. Techaisle survey found that 59% of SMBs and 55% of upper midmarket firms are now focusing on optimizing their cloud costs, making it the top consulting services priority for 100% of firms surveyed. As the adoption of cloud services continues to grow, so do the accompanying costs, which can quickly spiral out of control if left unmanaged. This challenges organizations of all sizes to optimize their cloud costs. Cloud economics and cost optimization consulting are not only challenging for SMB and midmarket firms but also for channel partners. According to a parallel survey by Techaisle, 49% of channel partners have seen an increase in demand for cloud cost optimization consulting. As a result, 72% of partners are planning to offer these services to their customers.

Cloud cost optimization has become crucial for SMBs and midmarket firms to effectively manage their expenses, improve resource utilization, and keep costs within budget. By implementing strategic approaches to cost optimization, businesses are challenged to balance the value of their cloud investments with the need to control expenditure.

KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR CCO

In 2014, 80% of these firms viewed the cloud as a solution for increasing revenue, while only 20% used it to reduce costs. In 2023, the data flipped. The appeal of the cloud lies in its flexibility, adaptability, and ability to provide resources on demand. However, SMBs and Midmarket firms often end up paying for more resources than they use, leading to unexpectedly high cloud bills impacting their financial stability and hindering growth and investment.

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IBM’s Transformation of Watson into watsonx and Launch of QRadar Suite: Enhancing Security and AI Capabilities

I have been a regular attendee of IBM Think for many years. The recently held IBM Think 2023 was a defining moment in more ways than one. First, IBM presented a cohesive narrative around Open Hybrid Cloud, Security, AI, and Ecosystem that resonated with customers and partners. Second, IBM demonstrated its commitment to helping companies leverage AI by introducing watsonx. This platform includes foundation models, generative AI, and a governance toolkit. Finally, at its recent Think event, IBM emphasized the impact of ChatGPT and AI on businesses and demonstrated the capabilities of watsonx. The company also highlighted the importance of its partner ecosystem and announced plans to invest in and expand its network to double its revenues. In this article, I will discuss several strategic initiatives that are likely to make a significant impact. In particular, I will delve into the details of the new QRadar suite, the generative AI capabilities of watsonx, and IBM’s efforts to empower partner success.

The rise in remote work and global interconnectivity of devices has brought significant changes and challenges to cybersecurity. Organizations are dealing with complex IT systems that require better visibility, threat detection, and incident response capabilities. Adopting cloud technology, especially hybrid cloud environments, has further complicated the situation. Security teams need help to secure public-facing applications running in the cloud and ensure all applications are up to date.

There is a growing demand for gathering more security data to enhance visibility. However, data collection can be costly and complicated, particularly when transferring it between different cloud platforms. In addition, organizations deploy multiple security tools to protect their new cloud infrastructure, adding to the challenges faced by security professionals.

Organizations are setting up enhanced Security Operations Centers (SOCs) to address these challenges. However, SOC professionals often face overwhelming workloads and require user-friendly tools that can be integrated with different security products. In addition, manual investigation of threats slows down their response time. To address these challenges, IBM has introduced a range of security solutions, including the IBM QRadar Suite.

QRadar Suite: Overview

The QRadar Suite is a subscription-based (SaaS) offering that combines AI-enhanced versions of IBM's existing threat detection and response solutions into a comprehensive global product. It represents a significant advancement and expansion of the QRadar brand, encompassing all critical technologies related to threat detection, investigation, and response. The original QRadar technology was integrated into IBM's portfolio after the acquisition of Q1 Labs in 2011. The new QRadar Suite goes beyond traditional security information and event management (SIEM) capabilities, aiming to provide a unified experience for security management. Its goal is to assist organizations in managing extended detection and response (EDR/XDR) capabilities, SIEM functionalities, and Security Orchestration Automation and Response (SOAR) in cybersecurity.

In addition, IBM has enhanced the suite's capabilities via strategic acquisitions. For example, the inclusion of SOAR capabilities results from the purchase of Resilient in 2016, while the EDR capabilities are attributed to the addition of ReaQta in 2021. Additionally, the QRadar Suite includes a new product, QRadar Log Insights, a cloud-based tool for security log management and federated search and investigation.

Standout Elements: Unified Interface, Automated Investigation, and Flexible Purchase

The QRadar Suite stands out due to three key features: a unified interface, automated investigation capabilities, and flexible purchase options.

Firstly, the suite has been developed in collaboration with security analysts, resulting in a unified and modernized interface that centralizes capabilities and workflows across IBM QRadar and 3rd party solutions. The Unified Analyst Experience (UAX) centralizes insights across both IBM and 3rd Party security tools, not just IBM products. It does this through its “Federated Search” capability. This consistent interface assists analysts throughout their investigation, response, and threat-hunting workflows across EDR/XDR, SIEM, SOAR, and Security Log Management (SLM). In addition, it empowers them to navigate the attack chain swiftly and efficiently, enhancing their response effectiveness.

Secondly, the suite includes Threat Investigator, an AI-powered automated investigation feature that helps manage and prioritize threat alerts by providing comprehensive details about threats and recommending automated response actions for quick mitigation. By automating the data mining processes across various security systems, Threat Investigator reduces the manual effort required for alert investigation, enabling faster response times. The suite also combines essential threat detection, research, and response technologies. Built on an open hybrid cloud platform (OpenShift), it enables extensive interoperability with over 900 pre-built integrations and has a comprehensive partner ecosystem. Leveraging MITRE and SIGMA natively, the suite allows security teams to adapt and keep pace with attackers seamlessly.

Thirdly, it offers flexible purchase options. Customers can obtain individual components separately or as a comprehensive suite. While most components are delivered as a service through AWS, the SIEM component is initially present on the IBM Cloud. It becomes available on AWS at the end of June, allowing for streamlined deployment, enhanced visibility, and seamless integration across cloud environments and data sources. In addition, the modular design of the suite enables customers to start using it with their desired products and easily add additional components as needed.

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Cisco’s Unified Cybersecurity Strategy: XDR, Duo, Umbrella, and Partner Ecosystem

As the market becomes flooded with specialized security solutions, an important question arises: Who can effectively integrate and manage all these different solutions? Cisco is making changes to position itself as a leading contender. As a comprehensive solution provider, Cisco can fill gaps in the cybersecurity landscape and ensure a cohesive approach to security, especially cloud security. It is building and integrating its portfolio of offerings, for example, XDR, Umbrella, Duo, Talos, many others, and now Armorblox.

As threats evolve, security efforts have shifted from solely preventing incidents to investigating them quickly and anticipating future risks. With IT environments now comprising interconnected networks, communication tools, mobile devices, cloud applications, and more, security is a top priority. Techaisle data shows that security is an IT priority for 74% of small businesses, 85% of SMBs, and 100% of midmarket firms. Endpoint security is already relatively widely adopted by SMBs. In addition, security suppliers have made headway in gaining customers for mobile hardware and access control security services. While Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tools are helpful, their capabilities are limited to detecting and responding to threats on endpoints and servers. Prevention remains the best approach to security, but detection is essential.

Cisco’s new XDR technology presents exciting opportunities for business growth by leveraging its vast network infrastructure and customer data to tackle security challenges. To strengthen its position in the security industry, Cisco is streamlining its go-to-market strategy and investing in partnerships to unify its cybersecurity offerings. Its partner growth strategy includes upgrading firewalls and refreshing products for existing customers, offering competitive pricing and margins to win new business, and introducing new partner offers for Security Operations Centers, such as Managed Detection and Response using Cisco XDR.

Cyberattacks targeting small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have increased, particularly ransomware and DDoS attacks. Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) safeguards employee identities and credentials. However, only 16% of SMBs and 25% of midmarket firms use MFA enterprise-wide. Similarly, only 13% of SMBs and 16% of midmarket firms have adopted single sign-on. However, the intent to adopt is significantly higher. Cisco offers MFA and single-sign-on (SSO) through its Duo offering, introducing innovations such as passwordless and risk-based authentication and Verified Duo Push. In addition, Duo has made security more accessible by integrating its Duo Trusted Endpoints capability into all service tiers, allowing users to restrict access only from corporate-managed devices or devices registered with Duo. This helps prevent unauthorized access attempts from unknown devices. In the advanced tiers, users can also assess the devices’ health before granting access and block risky or non-compliant devices, such as those running out-of-date software.

Securing endpoints and servers is essential for organizations, but cybercriminals are finding ways to bypass these measures through covert attacks. Instead of directly targeting high-value assets in data centers, they gain access through laptops and move laterally through the network. As a result, relying solely on an EDR solution or a firewall is not enough to detect and prevent cyberattacks. To fully protect IT infrastructure, it’s necessary to integrate prevention, detection, and response technologies into a single solution. This is where Extended Detection and Response (XDR) comes in, providing a comprehensive approach to security.

XDR builds upon the concept of EDR and expands its scope. It goes beyond the endpoint and server by integrating data from various security tools, including firewalls, email gateways, endpoint, network, identity, DNS, public cloud tools, and mobile threat management solutions. While it is possible to connect these components manually, a comprehensive XDR solution is designed to function as a unified system wherein components are interconnected and work together seamlessly to optimize threat detection and response workflows. Cisco's XDR solution in one such system.

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Mitel's Customer Lifecycle Management: Streamlining Communication for Enhancing Customer Value and Partner Success

Mitel’s strategy is to provide more choice and flexibility than any other vendor. Unlike most communications vendors offering off-the-shelf solutions, Mitel’s unique approach provides customizable options for cloud, deployment, collaboration, and vertical applications. In addition, Mitel helps customers navigate their communications and collaboration journey through its Customer Lifecycle initiative.

Mitel understands the importance of CLM in adopting UC and has made it a critical initiative. Mitel provides partners and customers with extensive CLM, data, and analysis to effectively plan their communications and collaboration solutions as part of its business strategy.

Techaisle data shows that 47% of SMBs and 49% of core & upper midmarket firms are focused on business resiliency enablement to manage change and uncertainty. At the same time, 27% of midsized businesses are targeting investments for growth and long-term success. In response to increasing business operating costs, economic uncertainty, and rising interest rates, customers are seeking communication solutions that are both flexible, effective, and affordable long term. Further, the shift towards hybrid work has increased the requirements of unified communications (UC) systems connecting individuals in different locations. 32% of SMBs and 22% of upper midmarket firms’ employees are expected to be hybrid. Updating UC systems to meet these changing requirements can be complex.

Future-ready businesses are seeking communications solutions that are agile, adaptive, transformative, flexible, and empowering. Thus, many organizations require guidance on the most efficient ways to invest in and modernize communication solutions. This is where customer lifecycle management (CLM) comes into play. By aligning an organization's goals with the UC technology being adopted or upgraded, CLM helps streamline the UC adoption process, ensuring that communication solutions are optimized to meet business objectives. As a result, CLM helps organizations maximize business value for customers and future-proof their investment in UC.

Mitel's approach to CLM

Mitel has differentiated itself from its competitors in the communication solutions industry by adopting a customer-centric approach that provides flexibility and choice throughout the communications lifecycle. Its CLM approach is designed to support customers using on-premise, hybrid, or cloud solutions. It has two main strategies – UC (communication and collaboration tools) and migrations (moving customers from on-premise or hybrid solutions to the cloud) – to ensure customers receive value and flexibility, regardless of their current solution.

Mitel's CLM approach focuses on delivering customer value in three key areas. Firstly, it adds value to existing customers' businesses by understanding their needs through innovative analytics. Secondly, it targets vertical markets such as healthcare, hospitality, state, local, and education (SLED), which require a private or hybrid cloud model due to security and regulatory requirements. Lastly, its strategic partnership with RingCentral helps customers migrate to public cloud solutions when most appropriate per their needs.

Techaisle survey data reveals that organizations have unique communications needs with a mix of infrastructures: on-prem, public cloud, private cloud, or a hybrid solution. A one-size-fits-all approach is only viable for some. It is a customer choice issue. Today, on-premises UC solutions are dominant, with 88% of organizations using some on-premises UC solutions. However, 44% are combining on-prem solutions with cloud solutions. Cloud communications solutions are also on their long-term plans, with 47% either evaluating or moving their on-prem communications to the cloud. However, customer choice and complexity create decision inertia for 64% of firms. Hence partners become the guiding beacon to manage the customer communications adoption lifecycle.

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