Introducing Tom Anderson – Head of GCP Practice at Netpremacy

13 June 2022

As Netpremacy continues to grow within the GCP space, we are delighted to announce our new Head of GCP practice, Tom Anderson. Our customers may be familiar with Tom as CloudCare Manager and general all-around Google technologies expert. Tom is no stranger to leading a webinar, acting as the go-to guy for customer queries and being an expert in the GCP field, making him the perfect fit to take on this new role. If you are yet to have the pleasure of working with Tom, here’s a bit more about him!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience at Netpremacy so far.

I’ve been a consultant working with cloud technologies for most of my professional career, despite graduating with a physics degree! Most of my early experience was in the delivery space where I wore several hats – from infrastructure engineer to solution architect, to cloud specialist. When I joined Netpremacy, I initially helped our commercial team with technical pre-sales across Google Workspace and GCP, before narrowing my focus to what I really enjoy – GCP! Since then, as an organisation, we then spent some time exploring an expansion of our Customer Success offering into GCP (something I spearheaded alongside my role). This led me to realise that my true home was back in Delivery – building products and executing amazing projects in the Google Cloud space.

What are you looking to bring to the role?

We have a brilliant team, there’s no doubt about that! I want to make sure we’re translating that passion and expertise into the projects that we deliver, by strengthening our governance, our methodologies and of course, our alignment with Google! We are already making headway in that space, but with a bit of refinement and moonshot thinking, we’ll set ourselves and our customers up for real success.

What are you most looking forward to about the role?

Working with some really cool technologies! Google is doubling down on innovative technology right now, with some really interesting products and feature announcements (including my favourites – serverless products!). We’ve got such an exciting opportunity to explore how to translate these technologies into solutions that help solve problems in the real world for our customers.

What can people expect working with you/Netpremacy?

The same things I’ve always been known for – honest opinions, constant attempts at humour and a tendency to favour simplicity (KISS principle anyone?).

When you’re not at work, what are your hobbies?

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    Hiking()

} else {

    Lego()

}

Finally, what’s your favourite thing about working at Netpremacy?

In order: the people, our office and free food Fridays.

Tom has a wealth of experience and we’re very excited to see where he takes the role in the future, congratulations Tom!

14 April 2022

In a highly competitive job market and with employees increasingly wanting to work in a place that resonates with their values, we brought together two change-making technology leaders and two inspiring Googlers to discover how IT leaders can impact company culture in their businesses. 

Netpremacy’s Director of Customer Success, Martin Russell, spoke to John Thompson, Group IT Director at Cazoo, Shaun Le Geyt, CIO at Parkinson’s UK, Alfred Biehler, Head of Innovation and Hannah Cassidy, Account Director at Google Cloud. Here are their key points from this thought-provoking panel session:

Continue to build on positive changes from the last two years.

Across the world, the IT team came to the forefront during the pandemic, facing a whole new raft of problems to solve and for many, a newly elevated position within the business. “Technology leaders now firmly have a seat at the table”, said Shaun Le Geyt, CIO at Parkinson’s UK. “We built a positive reputation for ourselves during the pandemic and we’ve established a great deal of trust and confidence. It’s up to us to keep maintaining these relationships and ensuring we get continued investment to support and level up our organisations”.

Nurture the potential in our teams.

All our panel agreed on the importance of seeing people as individuals with different skill sets and ways of communicating. Alfred Biehler discussed the possibility of missing potential if we overlook those that aren’t exactly like us. Leaders may inadvertently push our colleagues in the wrong direction if we don’t take the time to understand them, and their skills and goals. Diversity matters, and those businesses that don’t prioritise it will fall behind, according to research by Mckinsey. John Thompson added to this, emploring, “we need to bring humanity back into leadership model. If there was one piece of advice I would give tech leaders it would be to engage with their teams regularly. Make sure you’re speaking with them one-on-one- be that leader that makes time for people, understands their unique problems and raises them”.

Don’t underestimate early experiences for new starters.

John and Shaun discussed that the IT team often offers the first interaction a new employee has with the business when they start a role. Get it wrong, and a colleague might feel confused and isolated. Get it right, and you can showcase your business values and warmly welcome your new teammate. Both John and Shaun recommend having new starter equipment in stock in advance of people needing it if you know there will be a hardware delay, so they have everything they need to hit the ground running. Shaun added, “it might sound small, but even putting something like sweets into your new starter pack shows that there is a person that cares about their experience in the company and wants to welcome them.” Googler Hannah Cassidy explained the buddy system for new starters at Google. “Years on, buddies and their new starters stay in touch and have a great relationship.” In a highly competitive job market and increasing numbers of burnt-out staff, IT leaders thinking about how they can look after their new employees are those making a real business impact. 

Embody company values through technology.

Our panel discussed two values they found important: equity and trust. When it comes to hybrid working, it’s important to remember that not everyone can be based from home, explained John from Cazoo. “We need to make sure everyone is treated fairly and recognise the great employees that make up the company (for example, Cazoo’s car mechanics). Everyone needs to be supported in the most relevant way for them.” When it comes to hybrid working, Shaun and John discussed various ways they are trying to make the experience as positive as possible no matter where colleagues are based. From ensuring meeting room cameras are at eye level to avoid people physically looking up or down at one another to using Google Companion Mode to interact in meetings, it’s about making sure people are interacting through a place of equality. As for trust, the panel discussed the possibility of giving employees a budget for their tech equipment rather than dictating what makes and models people will get. “A budget like this means people feel trusted and more personally responsible for maintaining their equipment,” explained Alfred from Google. “It shows that you as leaders trust your people to make good decisions.” However, like any important decision, it’s critical to consider the context of your team and how you will set boundaries for what you can support before considering a budget like this. 

Understand that culture changes and requires ongoing care.

“We cannot predict what is around the corner,” said Alfred from Google. “We have to acknowledge the impact that a change in work location has on the culture we cultivated when before the pandemic”. Alfred explained that as leaders, we need to be ready to adapt and do what we can to nurture culture and appreciate its ever-evolving nature. Shaun added that “everything is about our people at the end of the day.” The more that leaders can put people at the heart of everything and understand their unique circumstances, the better chance we have to support and adapt processes and build a company culture that thrives.

Key takeaways

  • Appreciate individuality and nurture it.
  • Don’t underestimate the impact the IT team has on company culture.
  • Understand people first, then build your processes around them.

 

Interested in company culture and hybrid working? Join Martin Russell, Netpremacy’s Director of Customer Success at this year’s CIO Cloud Transformation Summit, where he’ll be discussing both. View the agenda and sign up here or view all our events

09 March 2022

Whatever working model your organisation decides to adopt in 2022, it’s highly likely that it will include an element of hybrid working and continue to elevate the importance of the IT team. Here, we’ll explore three key areas hybrid working will impact in 2022 – colleagues, customers and collaboration – and what to incorporate into a strategy for maximum impact in these areas.

Colleagues

It is undeniable that flexibility is on most employees’ priority lists when considering where they want to work in 2022. However, flexibility isn’t limited to allowing people to work from home now and again. “Companies have been engaged in an arms race to offer the best perks,” says Carolina Valencia, a vice president in Gartner’s HR practice who has conducted a recent global study into post-pandemic working. “But once basic needs are met, people are more powerfully motivated by feelings than by material features. Employees today want to be treated as people, not just workers.” That includes creating equal opportunities for training, mentoring and development regardless of where people are based, and ensuring high-quality interactions with colleagues even if you’re the only one not in the office. 

How to tailor your hybrid strategy

✔ Make flexible working your unique selling point to maintain and attract talent. How can you go the extra mile to ensure true flexibility in your organisation? Get to know your teams on an individual basis, and take time to understand what is important to them. Then, tailor solutions accordingly – from making sure everyone has access to the same quality equipment to exploring compressed hours.

✔ Welcome new employees with a hybrid-friendly onboarding process. Solutions like Google Chromebooks allow remote device management and create a unified experience for everyone.

✔ Consider training programmes to encourage a continuous learning culture. There’s no question that the natural learning and mentoring opportunities happening in person are invaluable, but to create parity and long term success for hybrid models we also need to consider manufacturing these moments virtually. 

Customers

Regardless of industry, the way customers behave and our interactions with them has changed forever. Expectations to be increasingly available, offer flexible communication channels and create personalised experiences are becoming ever more vital. As more happens virtually, organisations have increasing amounts of data to gain valuable insights into customer behaviour, but may not have the tools or knowledge to do so. On top of this, customer service agents are increasingly burnt out and dissatisfied, with less than 30% feeling empowered to do their jobs well. 

How to tailor your hybrid strategy

✔ Look for ways to offer flexibility and find new ways to connect with your customers. Whether that’s sharing your calendar and physical location or starting a regular Meet to get together (like Netpremacy did for our community of CSS customers), the key to interaction in 2022 will be to understand individual contact preferences.

✔ Empower your teams with reliable tools. With collaboration tools like Google Workspace, customer service agents can work from wherever they are, and you can enhance the experience for your customers with high-quality hardware for crystal-clear conversation.

✔ Capitalise on the influx of customer data that hybrid interactions have generated with a data strategy to understand your customers better.

Collaboration

Three areas that come up frequently in the conversation around why employers are keen to encourage the return-to-office are creativity, culture and collaboration. However, in a flexible workplace, how do we ensure employees only come together in person for the moments that matter? How do we value our own and our colleague’s time and the right to a work/life balance? How can we encourage our colleagues to come together when it’s more convenient for them to be elsewhere? Hybrid working offers us a new, improved model to create more meaningful, productive collaboration – but it requires a careful plan. 

How to tailor your hybrid strategy

✔ Categorise your work to choose the best way to collaborate. McKinsey has observed three broad categories of collaborative interactions: decision making, creative solutions and coordination, and information sharing. Depending on the category of collaboration and what you’re trying to achieve, they suggest which tasks require face to face time, and which don’t. 

✔ Create meaning for in-person meetings. “People need to understand why they should come into the office. By using the office for specific purposes, such as face-to-face meetings, we can make sure people are getting the most out of their time there”, said Gareth Thomas, Ocado Group’s Digital Workplace Manager, when we spoke to him at the end of last year. 

✔ Ensure the office is still fit for purpose. Consider more multi-purpose open spaces or meeting rooms. Review your hardware and ensure teams have access to high-quality equipment to offer the same experience whether customers and colleagues join meetings on-premises or remotely.

To summarise, hybrid working opens up a whole range of opportunities and a better future for many employees, but it isn’t without its challenges. Some ways of optimising your hybrid strategy – data strategies, learning platforms – are complex, but others – reviewing office hardware, virtual onboarding – are comparatively straightforward. Here at Netpremacy, we work with some of the most innovative companies in the UK to shape their hybrid strategies and help them to build creative, collaborative teams. To arrange an informal conversation, get in touch today. 

27 January 2022

In recent years the topic of sustainability has begun to dominate headlines, social media and the world of business. Consumers are demanding change and businesses are now responding. At the most recent COP26 summit, it was announced that financial organisations of a certain size, from 2022, will have to declare how they are going to reduce their carbon emissions, a concept we expect to trickle down to other sectors and scale organisations. Many companies are committing to reduce their carbon footprint, from developing a circular lifestyle of products to running more energy-efficient office spaces.

But what are the top IT and business leaders doing to reduce emissions for a greener future?

How could a cloud infrastructure reduce your company’s carbon footprint?

When people think about sustainability, cloud computing might not be the first thing that springs to mind. However, cloud infrastructure offers significant benefits on the topic of environmental impact. Essentially it all boils down to efficiency. Migrating to a cloud-based model opens up the opportunity to only use resources when you need them, this means less wasted energy when applications/resources are not in use. Then comes the advantage of scale. Cloud providers such as Google, run extremely efficient data centres designed with high tech heating & cooling systems, systems that would be near impossible to replicate for smaller on-premise infrastructures. These systems have been developed with sustainability in mind and are constantly evolving to progress even further, something many in-house teams would simply not have the capacity for. A study undertaken by Accenture in 2020 suggests that migrating IT functions to the public cloud could help reduce global carbon emissions by 59 million tonnes of co2 per year! To put that into perspective, that is the equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road; a pretty impressive statistic!

So, why choose Google?

Whilst other cloud providers are at the early stages of their sustainability journey, Google embarked on their mission almost two decades ago, announcing they had achieved a carbon-neutral status in 2007. Just a decade later in 2017, they became the first company to match 100% of their electricity usage with renewable energy purchases. Google, however, knows this is not enough. Planning to lead by example, the company has pledged to run completely carbon-free, 24 hours a day, in all regions and data centres by 2030. This aside, Google’s mission does not stop at internal changes, they are committed to developing accessible tools that allow businesses and organisations to decarbonize their digital applications and infrastructures.

What makes GCP different?

Cloud computing requires huge data centres that burn through energy, so there is no way it can be more sustainable than on-premise infrastructures right? Wrong! Even from the early days, Google built their data centres from the ground up, allowing them to control and develop new cooling technologies and operational strategies. Nowadays, Google’s renewable energy portfolio is one of the largest in the world. However, this is only the beginning, Google has recently adopted the concept of ‘carbon intelligent computing.’ This allows workloads to be dynamically moved to run in the most efficient data centre, at a time when the most carbon-free energy is available. Google’s commitment to efficiency within its own data centres alongside their tools for external cloud users has put GCP at the top spot as the greenest public cloud.

How could GCP help reduce your carbon footprint?

So we know what Google does and their plans for the future, but what does this mean for you and your carbon footprint? As mentioned, there are several ways in which Google is helping organisations reduce their carbon footprint through GCP, here are just a few to get you started.

1. Moving to the cloud

Let’s start from scratch! Moving from on-premise infrastructure to Google Cloud Platform already kick starts your journey to reducing your carbon footprint. As mentioned, by working within Google Cloud your cloud usage is already carbon neutral. So your first step is complete.

2. Use the Carbon Footprint tool

Late last year Google launched carbon footprint, a new tool that gives all GCP users the ability to see their gross carbon emissions associated with their Google Cloud platform usage. Integrated into cloud console, this tool enables users to measure, track and report on their emissions relating to the electricity usage of the cloud. Whilst net emissions will of course be zero on GCP, the cleanest energy is the energy you don’t use in the first place. With this in mind, having visual transparency into emissions allows companies to analyse their footprint by project, product or region to make improvements and changes going forward. And of course, for even deeper analysis you can export the data to BigQuery!

Google Carbon Footprint Tool

3. Google Region Picker tool

Back in 2020, Google published a CFE% (carbon-free emission) score for most of its regions, showing customers which areas were using the highest percentage of carbon-free energy so they could make an educated decision on where to run their applications from. In 2021, a pair of Googlers went one step further with the (open-sourced) release of ‘Google Cloud Region picker’; a tool that identifies the best Google Cloud region for an organisations applications based on carbon footprint, price and latency; empowering users to make informed decisions based on their business needs whilst considering the environmental impact. To make it even more accessible, Google added a ‘low CO2’ indicator to easily highlight regions with the lowest carbon impact inside cloud console location selectors.

Google Cloud Region Picker

4. Go serverless with products like Cloud Run

Google has a huge portfolio of serverless products, where infrastructure and scaling are all taken care of for you. Cloud Run is just one of those products designed to give you the flexibility and portability of containers without the headache of provisioning and managing the compute environment or clusters. But how does this impact sustainability? Aside from the obvious removal of provisioning machines, Cloud Run’s ability to auto-scale based on the number of incoming requests means if there are no requests, Cloud Run scales to zero and no resources are used! Another step to prevent unnecessary energy usage!

There you have it, just a few of the ways in which Google Cloud Platform can not only inform you of the carbon emissions but can help you make the next steps to minimising them. Unfortunately, climate change is no longer a distant threat. To find out more about how your business could benefit from cloud migration or take steps to reduce your emissions with GCP, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts today.

Get in touch to learn more info@netpremacy.com.

 

15 October 2021

Day 1 of Google Cloud Next kicked off on Tuesday with the opening keynote, led by Google Cloud’s CEO Thomas Kurian. We hosted a watch party in our offices for team members to share their thoughts on the new product launches, partnership announcements and how we can make sure that our customers are benefitting from Google’s latest updates and ideas. 


Key themes of the conference:

Understanding data with Google tools.

Google technology helps businesses tackle data problems to simplify how teams work with data and derive value from it faster. At the opening keynote, Thomas Kurian talked about how different industries are innovating using Google Cloud. The ability and speed to access purpose-built industry solutions are helping businesses to build robust execution plans, create great customer experiences, optimise business and modernise their infrastructure. 

Improving workflows & empowering your teams.

Just one of the updates that excited our tech teams were the significant enhancements to Google Workspace. Developers can now build applications and integrate with Google Meet, Chat and Spaces. Google released a new Jira integration for Google Chat and Spaces that will let users create new tickets quickly, see actionable previews, and monitor issues as they come into the app they’re already using for collaboration. Google also announced the integration of AppSheet into Gmail, allowing anyone—regardless of their coding experience—to reclaim time with custom, no-code apps and automations.

Investing in security.

Google also announced that they will be investing $10B in cyber security. On top of this, they released Google’s new Work Safer program for email, meetings, messaging and documents, helping businesses to collaborate and communicate securely in the new world of hybrid work environments. 


Latest initiatives:

Announcing the Tableau, Looker and Sheets partnership. 

This incredible new partnership brings together the top BI tools on the market, enabling continuous learning and experimentation for users that want a holistic view of their data. Tableau and Looker can integrate into Google Sheets, meaning teams can use familiar formulas to get insights faster. By leveraging insights from all three tools, you can analyse data and make quick decisions.

New capabilities within security.

To strengthen security and privacy in the workplace, Google announced four new capabilities:

  • Client-side encryption (CSE)  now available in Google Meet. Google also announced new tools to enable customers to manage their own encryption keys. This brings together Google Workspace and cyber security keys, making work safer with Google.
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP) for Chat is another layer of protection, without impacting the end-user, that prevents sensitive data and information from leaving an organisation. 
  • Drive labels are now generally available so organisations can now classify files stored in Drive based on their sensitivity level. Labels integrate with Google Workspace Data Loss Prevention, making it easier to manage external sharing, downloading, and printing of sensitive files. 
  • Improve your detection and response capabilities with Google Cloud and Cybereason. This new strategic partnership will provide Extended Detection and Response (XDR) tools to businesses for easier, faster threat detection. 

Go green with Google’s Carbon Footprint Monitor. 

Sustainability has been a core value for Google, which provides the cleanest cloud in the industry, for more than two decades. In 2017, ten years after becoming carbon-neutral, they matched 100% of its electricity consumption with renewable energy, and by 2030, they want to become completely carbon-free. Google uses technology to enable organisations around the world to transition to more carbon-free and sustainable systems. They launched their Carbon Footprint tracker that integrates directly into Salesforce. This new tool makes recommendations to reduce emissions and shows users their carbon footprint in the cloud, empowering their customers to act on this data to make simple, greener decisions. Learn more about Google’s solutions for climate change.


What that means for our customers:

The new features, updates and announcements focus on solving business challenges that leaders everywhere face, from reducing their carbon footprint to maximising data strategies to grow profit. We are excited for the latest insights around data and sustainability, which are key to our clients and will help their business strategy, not just IT.  

“In my opinion, one of the long-standing unique aspects of Google Cloud, especially in the enterprise, has been the theme of integrated tools and services. Google’s unique cloud-native suite of products and services have always led with developer-friendly, open standards, API’s and commitment to open source and resulted in an incredible user experience.

I am excited to see the continued drive for integrations from Google, two stand out exciting announcements are the Looker / Tableau / Google Connected Sheets announcements as well as the Carbon Footprint / Salesforce Sustainable Cloud integration.

Coupled with the announcement of Google Distributed Cloud and continued investment in Anthos / hybrid cloud we can continue to work with customers to pick the best tools and services to help solve our customers’ challenges.” – Guy Ellis, Professional Services Director, Netpremacy.


 

If you would like to watch the whole keynote and build your own content playlist, explore the Google Next ‘21 catalogue here.

02 June 2021

Alastair Lumley

Alastair Lumley – Digital Native & Finance Lead, Netpremacy

Last week I attended Google Cloud’s Financial Services Summit to learn from Google experts and others from across the industry on what the future holds for the Finance Industry. I discovered how Google Cloud is driving real change and helping to reshape the industry, from modernising more traditional businesses to supporting the challenger banks. 

Straight from the opening keynote, Google made it pretty clear that Financial Services are a huge focus area for them. They are currently dealing with some of the largest financial institutions globally, including HSBC and Deutsche Bank. This experience is helping them to shape and evolve their cloud services to better meet the needs of the industry. This had led to them becoming the only cloud provider to develop focused and dedicated services for the Financial industry,  two of which were launched at the summit – Lending Doc AI and DataShare.

Google also highlighted their three key focus areas within the financial industry; accelerating omnichannel experiences, using data and analytics to transform businesses and modernising core operations in banking and payments. These were covered in the different streams run on the day, including Banking, Capital markets, Insurance and Payments. We heard from Deutsche Bank on how cloud services have driven innovation, how PayPal used them to weather the Covid storm and how BNY Mellon constantly evolves, attracts the best talent and adapts to new challenges. You can watch the on-demand sessions here.

Event Round-Up

The key theme of the summit was how Cloud Computing is enabling the Financial Services industry to innovate and react to consumer demands and specifically how Google Cloud is the go-to strategic partner for the industry to drive this type of change. 

One session I found particularly interesting covered how Google and HSBC are currently working together to make banking more sustainable and lower their environmental impact. Work so far included evaluating supply chains, identifying where they are most economical and sustainable and exploring ways to improve this. Taking experience from both sides of the table – a global retail bank with vast knowledge of supporting businesses of all shapes and sizes, and combining that with Google who understands how to problem solve using innovation….one to keep an eye on! 

Another fascinating discussion was how banks are helping to improve the house buying process. The key learning was to avoid using technology for the sake of it and automate an existing bad process – we should use it to drive change.  The house buying process is one of the most complex and emotionally stressful purchases you’ll ever make so a lot of focus is now going into how can this become more enjoyable and how can technology play a pivotal role in this. 

There were many more sessions covered such as how we can activate a data strategy in insurance by leveraging Google’s products and its partner network to start and implement these projects, all the way through to how innovation in the financial industry can help innovation in other industries.

Key Takeaways

Financial organisations globally are leveraging cloud technologies to innovate and provide better solutions to challenges, better services to customers and become more economically and socially responsible. Google is actively helping drive this change and developing solutions focused on the financial services industry by engaging and supporting some of the largest institutions globally. 

Each journey is different and will have its own goals and outcomes, but the opportunity for any organisation to transform and drive change is there. From using data to improve customer understanding, fighting against fraud and leveraging scalable cloud infrastructure to meet spikes in demands, what is important across the board is the correct support, partner and technology along the way. 

That’s where Google and Netpremacy can help. By understanding what it is you want to achieve, helping define and build plans and strategies around the technology, you can reach your desired aims and objectives much faster, in a way that future-proofs your success. 

To hear more about how to transform your organisation, or to register an interest in our upcoming roundtable for Financial Services, email me

 

27 April 2021

Ian Meikle – Senior Google Cloud Platform Engineer, Netpremacy

Google Cloud resources are easy to use and readily available, but to protect confidential data and limit costs, you should regulate who can access them. Google recommends applying the ‘Principle of Least Privilege’ – only grant the minimum permissions required for a particular account on a particular resource and no more. Within GCP this is controlled using Identity and Access Management (IAM). More specifically, by the setting and application of IAM Policy.

As a Senior GCP Engineer at Netpremacy, I regularly advise our customers on how to get more from their existing GCP setup by following Google best practices and applying what we’ve learnt first-hand over the years. Here I’ll explain how IAM works, how you can use IAM Policies effectively, and the best practices to follow. This blog is for anyone starting with GCP who wants to ensure they are granting the right permissions to their staff. Alternatively, if you already have existing GCP infrastructure, this article will guide you through making it more secure.

Identity and Access Management

Resources and Permissions

IAM is concerned with identity and access. It defines who can do what within your GCP setup. The ‘who’ can relate to a real person through a Google Account or a Google Group. However, permissions may also be granted to Service Accounts associated with apps or other compute resources. This is often done to allow automation. The ‘what’ is a resource in GCP. This can be one of many things, such as a GCE VM or a BigQuery DataSet. Every resource has a defined set of permissions that allow creation, administration, deletion or passive access. These permissions are then grouped into Roles, and a Role is assigned to an identity through an IAM Policy. Policies are then applied to resources within a project.

GCP infrastructure is organised as a hierarchy (see image below). At the top sits the Organisation. Below that there are (optional) Folders that are used to group Projects. Resources are collected within a Project. Permissions are inherited as you move downwards so that an identity with privileged access at the Organisation level will have the same access to all resources within the hierarchy. Privileged access granted to a Folder will similarly filter downwards to the folders and projects that it contains.

 

cloud-folders-hierarchy

Roles

Permissions are closely related to API calls within GCP. As there are thousands of calls that can be made on nearly 200 different GCP services, permissions are grouped into Roles.

There are three types of Roles:

  • Basic Roles These are Legacy roles that grant you Owner, Editor or Viewer control over a resource. Basic Roles are quite broad and should be used sparingly.
  • Predefined Roles These are the most common type of IAM role and are usually associated with a specific service. For example, the roles/bigquery.dataViewer role grants 15 different permissions on a Dataset, Table or View within BigQuery that allow read-only access. Above this, there is the roles/bigquery.dataEditor, which includes permissions to create, update and delete Tables. Moving even higher is the roles/bigquery.dataOwner, which can create, update and delete Datasets.
  • Custom Roles If there are no Predefined Roles that match your needs then new, Custom Roles can be created. These can be useful if you have specific compliance needs, for example. Be aware that GCP Service updates may change the set of permissions required for resource operations. Whilst Predefined Roles will be reconfigured automatically to match any change, the management of Custom Roles is your responsibility.

 

Best Practices

Assign roles to Google Groups, not users. Whilst it is easy to grant an IAM role to an individual user, this is not something we recommend. Consider what happens when someone leaves the company or transfers to another business unit. If their user identity is tied to a resource through an IAM policy then that resource can be left orphaned, with potentially harmful effects. Google’s recommendation (that we would endorse) is to assign roles to Google Groups and then manage group membership via the Workspace Admin Console. This makes the transfer of ownership much easier and dissociates service operations from user management.

Align permissions to job responsibilities. Projects are the ‘base’ unit within the GCP hierarchy. IAM Policies should be developed so that projects sit entirely within the remit of a team or business unit. In this way, permissions are aligned with job responsibilities. Cross-project working can be permitted through VPC networking, though that is not discussed here.

Use IAM Recommender to stay on top of resource access management. Access requirements change over time, so permission management is an ongoing process. Google has provided an IAM Recommender service that monitors how a resource is being used over time and suggests how to enforce the Principle of Least Privilege. Recommendations are based on recent service access and a Machine Learning analysis of how the role may need to access the service in the future. The Recommender can be used interactively as part of an IAM review, or automated. Whilst every effort is made to prevent unexpected service disruptions, automation carries the expected caveats.

Conclusion

Resource access has to be managed, and IAM provides the tools and processes you need to do just that. For optimum security and to enforce best practices, you should protect your GCP environment against accidental modification by users with elevated access permissions. A way to safeguard against this is to apply the principle of least privilege so that only the appropriate group of people make changes. 

Google Groups helps you to create a clear distinction between user management and service operations. That means resource management happens in the right place without blurring the distinction between people and services.

Following the principle of least privilege is an ongoing process. Use IAM Recommender to help you stay on top of access rights and update permissions when needed.

For advice on using Cloud IAM or to book a GCP Health Check, contact us on info@netpremacy.com 

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02 December 2020

The energy and utility sector is something most of us take for granted. We pay them for warm showers and to heat our homes, and no doubt we will all be reaching for the thermostat over the long winter months ahead to keep us extra cosy. However, behind the scenes, these companies have to embrace digital transformation and harvest massive amounts of data in order to grow, evolve, and meet the demands of the future. 

The industry is constantly up against challenges; from pressure to reduce emissions, increasing demand, and providing competitive prices to their consumers. Google Cloud has a wide range of industry-leading and energy-specific solutions aimed at helping these businesses digitise faster, and respond to these demands. 

Why data is important for digital transformation

The most valuable asset many companies have is data, and in order to be successful, energy providers must adapt to change, stay current, and realise this. They need to be able to store, read, and analyse data properly, in order to gain a competitive advantage and solve complex business challenges. 

Google’s BigQuery can help businesses bring different data sets together in order to gain those insights, and Google’s AI-powered solutions are the key to unlocking analytics capabilities within your data sets. In this case study, you can learn how Energyworx, an energy supplier in the Netherlands, uses GCP and smart analytics to harvest their data to better plan for future energy demand, and find ways their customers can save on their electricity use. 

If you would like to learn how to use smart analytics to help your business grow and evolve, download our Smart Analytics White Paper here.

A deeper dive into AI and ML energy-specific solutions

Powerful AI models use data analytics to provide actionable insights, and these models can help inspections at scale. This is extremely useful for energy and utility companies who have large areas they need to monitor, such as energy grids, wind farms, or solar panels. Google Cloud’s Visual Inspection solution reduces inspection times without compromising on safety or accuracy and makes organisations more efficient and sustainable. 

Businesses also have the ability to build their own custom Machine Learning model with minimal effort and little to no Machine Learning experience. 

AES is a Fortune 500 global power company that distributes sustainable energy in 15 countries. Their asset inventory is phenomenal, with a value of over £33 billion. They use Machine Learning and drone technology in their wind farms to monitor, manage, and maintain their assets. 

This was the perfect solution, as it was in keeping with their greener vision and they were able to massively scale using Google’s powerful infrastructure. Learn more about their custom made solution powered by Google Cloud’s AutoML Vision here.


For most modern energy and utility companies, contributing to greater customer satisfaction is also an important identifier for success.

AI models like Contact Centre AI allows agents to assist with customer requests more efficiently, leading to shorter call times and improved outcomes, with much quicker resolutions. Learn more about Google Clouds CCAI and how companies are using this technology to modernise.

A smart future for the energy industry

Smart meters are the latest innovation to tackle the biggest challenges facing the industry today. By 2024, almost 77% of EU households will have one installed*. 

This new technology brings multiple benefits such as delivering automated, real-time readings, giving consumers access to their own data; and being able to identify faulty appliances, reducing downtime, and enabling repair staff to be efficient and effective with their time. They also improve the awareness of energy consumption, allowing individual households and businesses to reduce their energy use and generate savings.

Of course, with all new technology advancements, comes an influx of data. Energy companies need a scalable data warehouse to be able to import, process, and anaylse this data. Google Cloud’s BigQuery streams data in real-time and can predict business outcomes with powerful built-in ML models; plus it runs on Google’s infrastructure and is a managed service, meaning companies spend less time developing technology and can focus on their service instead. Read how Halsfund, the largest power company in Norway, uses GCP and BigQuery for the new smart meter network here.

Being a successful energy and utilities company today requires the right technology to solve big business problems. However, in order to truly succeed, you must make the right decisions for your business by making the most of the information you gather.

Now you know what you can do with your data, are you using it to the best of your advantage?

Speak to one of our data experts and we can help you implement this technology and show you how to use it. Contact us here.


*By 2024 almost 77% of EU households will have a smart meter installed, European Commission 

 

06 November 2020

Is this the Biggest Proof of Concept in History?

We recently created a study on the effect COVID-19 has had on businesses, and here are the results… 

Since the proliferation of Cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS), over the past ten years or so, the debate around allowing employees to live more flexible working lives through remote working has been ongoing. In recent years Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Office 365, Teams, and Zoom are making it increasingly easier for businesses to mobilise their workforce, collaborate with their teams, and continue speaking directly to their customers from any location, on any device.

Despite this, progress has been surprisingly slow. According to the Office of National Statistics, the percentage of the UK population mainly working from home in 2019 was 5.1%  compared to 4.3% in 2015 with only 30% of people having “ever” worked from home.*

That is until now,  in June 2020 at the height of the Pandemic the ONS stated 49% of workers reported working from home at some point in the seven days to 14 June, up from 41% the previous week.* As we head into a second lockdown we would like to think that businesses will be better equipped to work from home. 

Is this the biggest Proof of Concept in history?

If you asked the average Financial Services IT department 9 months ago to enable every member of staff to work from home tomorrow, or a retailer to close high street stores and transition to a 100% virtual shopping experience within days, they would have told you it can’t be done!. Yet this is exactly what they were asked to do. (and they did it)

 These businesses- thousands of them,  were forced into the biggest Proof of Concept in history.  While many would agree “The Concept ” has been proven, we should now ask what we have learned and what we will do differently? 

It’s time to ask yourself some questions. 

How confident are you that the platform is scalable enough, secure enough, reliable enough, easy to use, cost-effective at scale? How prepared are you for when something like this happens again?

• How has this changed your business? 

• Will this change your approach to remote working?

• Will you reduce office space? 

• Does this mean you can now hire from a broader talent pool if the location is no longer an issue?

• Will you offer more flexible working options in the future?

Will we go back to how we worked before?

No-one knows for sure but I believe the short answer is probably not. In a recent Netpremacy survey of UK knowledge workers 82.6% said that pre – COVID-19 lockdown, they were expected in the office every day

Fast forward to now.

47.8% said that they would be allowed to choose how to split their time between working from home and the office.

netpremacy covid 19 survey

39.1% said that they would now be working from home permanently. Leaving just 13% of the respondents having to go back to the office full time when the pandemic is over.

This is a big shift and if we listen to the  95.7% who prefer working from home and the 60.9% who felt like they were more productive, then,  I believe the majority will have to offer more flexible home working practices in the future. 

netpremacy covid 19 surveynetpremacy covid 19 survey

And those that don’t?… 

Well,  at the very least, now more than ever,  they understand how SaaS and the Cloud platforms such as Google Workspace, Teams, and Zoom, can help prepare for an ever-increasingly unpredictable future.

In our whitepaper ‘Three ways Google Workspace helps business thrive and plan,’  we outline how our customers have been using Google Workspace to thrive throughout this pandemic as well as plan for an increasingly uncertain future.

Download your copy here. 

Dan SullivanDan Sullivan is a Cloud and SaaS technology veteran currently working with Google Cloud Premier Partner and Google 2019 Work Transformation Partner of the year Netpremacy. With more than  20 years of technology experience, he has helped hundreds of businesses deliver game-changing business and technology transformations.

If  you would like to learn more about how Google Workspace can help your company adapt and thrive, please contact Dan on: dsullivan@netpremacy.com

 

*https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandwellbeing/bulletins/coronavirusandthesocialimpactsongreatbritain/19june2020 

24 September 2020

Adapting to a more digital world – Top tips to ensure you are set up to take your work home

 

Businesses around the world have been working remotely in a more permanent way for over 6 months now. To put that into perspective…that’s half of 2020. Now, in light of the Prime Minister’s recent announcement, it looks like working from home will continue long into 2020.  We are over the initial shock to the system, but we need to keep on top of keeping our employees happy and motivated and start putting into place measures that are more permanent. 

Netpremacy was born in the cloud, and working remotely is what we teach to other businesses across the country. Which is why we wanted to share our experience and best practices with businesses that were not traditionally used to remote working. Office culture has changed dramatically, however, employees’ mental health and wellbeing is important, as is keeping business running as usual. 

Working from home has benefits and struggles you should consider:

Benefits 

  • Increased productivity 
  • Reduced travel costs
  • Reduced office maintenance costs 
  • Good for the environment
  • Increased flexibility 
  • Good for the environment

Struggles

  • Difficult to unplug from work
  • Loneliness
  • Different working environments
  • Distractions at home
  • Affects mental health
  • Hard to stay motivated

 

Do you have the correct setup?

When the UK was sent home to work, it was done overnight in a panic. Businesses didn’t have a choice and had to ensure their employees were sent home to keep them, and the rest of the country safe. 

Now we have started to adapt, more businesses have decided that working from home benefits them in several ways. Businesses are making the decision to keep this a more permanent solution, and we need to ensure that our employees have the correct setup and working environment. This can have a major impact on a person’s physical, and mental health. There are some simple steps that should help you and your employees to work comfortably and effectively. 

Ensure that when working from home you have somewhere comfortable to sit, that supports your back and neck. Yes, it’s a novelty working from your bed, but how much goodwill that do your back in the long run? The answer is not a lot! 

Working from a clean, and clutter-free environment is another way to ensure employee happiness. Make sure the area you are working in is free from distractions such as the TV, and is a clean space, to keep your mind clutter-free, and to create a productive environment in which to work. 

 Having a consistent spot that you “go to” every day to work helps your brain associate that spot with getting work done. Choose the same spot for a few days and your brain will learn that when you’re in that spot, you’re focused.

Customise your working environment, so that you feel comfortable and at home- make it a place you WANT to go to – just like you would at your desk at work! 

Ensure that your MDM is set up correctly

Mobile Device Management is essential when working remotely, which is exactly why employers need to make sure that this is set up correctly so that company devices can be managed no matter where your employees are working. Through Google’s single console, your company is able to manage the entire enterprise mobility. This provides comprehensive protection whilst being easy to manage.

G Suite admins can now define custom rules that trigger on device events and have associated actions. When an event specified in a rule occurs on a device within your organisation with a G Suite Enterprise license, the corresponding action you have set will automatically be executed by Mobile Management.

• Easy for admins to enroll all company owned devices for MDM

• Easily enforce device-owner mode on multiple Android company-owned devices

• Not be dependent on the end-user to enable device-owner mode

• Gather info on each and every Android device/app accessing G Suite

Read more on how to ensure your MDM is set up correctly, or contact a member of our team who will be happy to help you get set up. 

Keep your teams secure 

Security is important, no matter where you are located. Luckily, much of the Google technology we use has many security features already built-in (learn more here). But it’s always a good idea to have multiple security procedures in place to keep your employees, and data, extra secure. 

The challenge of remote working, when it comes to security, is that if something does go wrong, your IT team is not there to fix any issues. However, by utilising the Google Admin Control allows you to manage devices remotely, which is useful in a time where everyone has been sent home to work. Another suggestion would be to allow only company approved apps to be installed in the work profile, so your employees are not using apps on the work profile that your business has not approved. It is also recommended to set up dedicated work profiles that are isolated from personal apps, and you should make sure data sharing is restricted. These simple steps can help to keep your employees and your company data secure. 

Setting up employee devices correctly is a fool-proof way of making sure data cannot be accessed by people outside your company. The data is encrypted, and in case the device is lost or stolen, it can be wiped remotely. The new Advanced Protection Programme is an added level of protection for users who are more likely to undergo security challenges. This uses security keys which prevents unauthorised access to your Google account and protects the user from harmful downloads. New updates and security features are automatically added, so it’s one less thing to think about. 

Employees are generally kept safe from phishing attacks, as Gmail has in-built features that cleverly identifies and flags them; however, it is good practice to train employees, making them aware of what to look for and how to handle these types of cyberattacks. 

Adhering to these suggestions will definitely help to keep your mind at ease, however, if you have any further queries or questions our support and security teams are available to help. 

Regular communication & human interaction 

It’s important to remember that everyone is in their own unique environment, which may make working from home more challenging. Some will have a dedicated office space, whilst others are working in a one-bedroom studio. Whatever your situation is, you need to make sure it works for you, whilst being able to communicate with your teammates. 

Regular communication is important to stay motivated, and to keep up the morale too. Schedule catch-ups with your co-workers, so you are on top of your workload, but also socialising with the people who you usually spend most of your working week with.

Probably the most obvious, but it does get overlooked more often than not – take your lunch break! It can be quite difficult to cut off from work when you are in your own home, so step away from the computer, clear your head, and refresh. If you can spend your lunch break outside, that’s even better.

Keep things fun

Office culture differs with each organisation. Distractions in the office may make things difficult to get things done. Equally, you may find it easier to focus in the workplace more than anywhere else. No matter what you are used to, this is your opportunity to make things fun and make it work around you and your workload. Perhaps suggesting an online office quiz, or meeting up virtually on a Friday afternoon for a virtual drink will help keep things fresh!

Being successful in a digital environment is not just about getting the work done. Balancing health, both physical and mental, whilst having the right technology to communicate, collaborate, and keep your data secure is the key to allowing your business to excel.

Contact us and speak to one of our experts today about the technology we use in order to thrive in a digital world and remember to look after your mental health in times of uncertainty!