Cloud computing is now at the forefront of business customers’ minds as a result of the pandemic and the need for remote working.
That’s according to David Thomas, MD of the Bluegrass Group, which consists of Bluegrass Computer Services and Bluegrass Professional Services. Bluegrass Group provides managed security, disaster recovery, strategy, implementation and design support, and various other services that are usually associated with managed services providers.
Prior to Covid-19, there had been an appetite for cloud computing – and many businesses were adopting software-as-a-service (SaaS) products. However, it wasn’t growing as fast as Bluegrass Group had expected it to because there was still doubt among many companies about how trustworthy the cloud was.
“They wondered if cloud providers could look after their data and whether the cloud vendors would be there for support and what their uptime was going to be like,” Thomas says.
Some businesses still decided to use cloud infrastructure services, and some of those would want to use the benefits of cloud computing to enable more of their workforce to work remotely.
Since the pandemic started, this has changed dramatically. As remote working has become crucial, Bluegrass has seen an uptick in the number of organisations moving to the cloud, with SaaS growing in popularity in particular.
Bluegrass is helping many of its customers with different areas of cloud computing support.
“So we start with Azure. We can provide them with a logical physical platform in the cloud so they can de-risk their offices by not having hardware there. Then you’ve got services like Office 365 – that could just be either just the Office products or also video conferencing with Microsoft Teams,” he says.
Then there are back-up solutions, and email protection. Bluegrass provides its customers with a Datto SaaS product which backs up Office 365 emails, as well as files from SharePoint and OneNote. In addition the company provides disaster recovery products, and other sales and marketing cloud services such as Salesforce and HubSpot.
Anything that the company provides to its customer, it also manages.
“If we give them an Azure platform, we will develop it, implement it, put their applications on there that they want, and we will then manage it. If they then had issues with one of their applications or Office 365, we take on the responsibility of contacting the third party to get the problem resolved,” Thomas explains.
Aside from cloud, Thomas sees the mobile workforce being a key area of growth. A healthcare client of Bluegrass’ required its nurses to move around with mobile technology, as this was critical to what they offer.
“In the South West, it’s a very spaced out environment and our hills get in the way, so it’s finding solutions which will enable a mobile workforce. So what we’re seeing here is the ability to leave your desk and go to somebody’s office or house and work from anywhere on any device,” he says.
Cyber security is another key area where Bluegrass offers support – this includes anti-virus, dark web monitoring, ransomware protection, data encryption, two-factor authentication, and it also can help organisations achieve Cyber Essentials certification. Security will of course be another key aspect of organisations’ pandemic strategies if they are allowing their staff to work from home, and Bluegrass may also see a rise in adoption of these services as it has with cloud computing.
Despite this, Thomas is wary of the damage the pandemic could cause many businesses, including its own clients. In order to help the community in the South West, he says the company is offering free advice about technology.
“If a company is struggling and needs any assistance, we’re telling them to come and ask – and that includes IT companies as well,” he says.