Every year, Vapour pledges to fundraise for a worthy cause. So, for the next 12 months, the company will dig deep for the charity committed to preventing premature birth – Borne.

And all sights are set on the boldest target yet – a staggering £23,000!

From sponsored treks to corporate auctions, the team will leave no stone unturned on the mission to fill the coffers. In fact, a jam-packed agenda of activities will be revealed as the weeks unfold, with something for every single colleague to get involved in.

“Ever since the company was founded, we’ve been determined to exist for far more than commercial gain,” explains CEO Tim Mercer. “And over the years, we’ve learnt that giving back isn’t just the right thing to do – it brings us together as a team too.

“That’s why some of our fundraising efforts will centre on pushing ourselves and taking on personal challenges or feats of endurance. At the other end of the scale, we’ve also come up with ideas that are, quite frankly, pretty daft, so we can have fun at the same time as doing something good.”

Reflecting on the reasons for choosing Borne – an organisation dedicated to saving lives, preventing disability, and creating lifelong health for mothers and babies – Tim adds: “Our families are what we seek to protect the most, and with premature birth an ongoing problem that nobody understands, there seemed no better cause.

“It is the leading reason for childhood mortality in the world today. More significant than infection, trauma or cancer, it affects some 15 million babies across the world every year – including nearly 60,000 in the UK. So, we want to do our bit to help stop babies being born too soon. And we hope we can drum up a fair amount of support for our varied efforts.”

Follow Vapour on social media to watch the team’s fundraising efforts unfold:

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Cloud technology specialist Vapour has welcomed five new faces into the team as the straight-talking firm pursues its ambitious £7m growth targets.

Bolstering the sales team is business development manager Dan Needham, who joins the business from Manchester-based Cloud Technology Solutions (CTS). With a strong enterprise background – particularly in the SaaS environment – his area of expertise is the more unusual technical sell, with a key focus on people-led digital transformation projects.

He’s joined by fellow business development manager Mark Taylor – a technology agnostic salesperson who comes from a more varied sales background, as Vapour pursues its mission to boost the efficiencies, scalability and security of UK organisations.

Sales support coordinator Becky Pritchard completes the new line up of faces added to the commercial team. Having previously worked for Next Generation Security, and Safe & Secure IT Solutions, she has a strong account management skill-set.

The growing complexity of Vapour’s cloud toolkit – enhanced in recent months with the development of a dedicated SD-WAN proposition for hybrid working, to name just one new solution – has seen the company appoint David Parsons as solutions engineer. A talented cloud specialist with 13 years’ experience working for Managed Service Providers (MSPs), David bridges the gap between Vapour’s sales and engineering teams, and has fast become the ‘go to’ voice for ultra-technical projects – particularly for clients completely rethinking their cloud-first networks of the future.

The fifth addition to the business is cloud UC engineer Ronnie Paton – a former military serviceman who developed a career in the telecoms space upon resettlement into civilian life. He supports the presales team with their growing workload, as well as helping to look after Vapour’s cloud communications solution.

The hires coincide with Vapour’s relocation to Heritage Exchange – a converted textiles mill on the outskirts of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. The extensively refurbished space was purposefully designed to give the growing team a fresh and more collaborative workplace on their return from extended periods of working from home.

Commenting on the hires, Vapour’s head of transformation and operations Carol McGrotty, said: “We’ve been extremely open about our plans to expand to become a £7m business by the end of our 2021 financial year, and people will prove crucial to this. We’re as known for our team as we are our toolkit, so these five hires have been made at pace, but with extreme precision.”

CEO Tim Mercer added: “Now everyone is talking about cloud-first infrastructures, we’re a safe pair of hands, making the complex simple, clever and powerful. We’ve worked hard to hand-select talented individuals who care as much about busting jargon as our existing committed team.

“And things seem to be paying off. We recorded as much monthly recurring revenue in Q1 of 2021, as we did in the first half of 2020, and it’s double the amount we achieved in the second half of last year. I don’t think that’s bad, given economic turbulence caused by the pandemic.

“There are three product launches on the horizon too, so we need to be ready for the next chapter of growth.”

It’s David Parsons’ turn in the spotlight this month. Get to know our solutions engineer, as he shares why Acorn had him hooked on IT from such a young age, and why he believes problem solving is key for a career in tech.

59, 58, 57…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

I entered the technology industry in my first job – working for a dictation company transitioning customers from tape to digital devices and software management of the recordings.

And what is your earliest memory of tech in your life?

My Dad got me interested in computing from a very young age, loading software from tapes onto an Acorn – now I feel old!

What’s the one quality you need to thrive in this environment (especially at Vapour)?

Anyone who has been successful in technology has a drive to learn and to challenge themselves. Exams and training are useful, but an individual’s initiative to work out a problem on their own and learn from it, is what really makes a good engineer stand out.

And what is the one thing you would change about the tech sector?

Investing in technology is a lot like investing in people – you cannot invest once and expect everything to run smoothly for years. Demands and expectations are always changing, as is the landscape and what is available. So, a continuous development approach is vital to avoid being left behind, or being hit with an unexpected problem and avoidable costs when things do go wrong.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

We have a clear vision of the sort of company we want to be.  Our focus is always on the customer, finding solutions to real problems and delivering the best levels of service.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is... the internet.

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is... a new TV.

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is... Amazon.

The biggest misconception in the channel is that... Product and price are everything.  Finding a partner you can work with to build the right solutions and a high level of service, is far more important.  The art of IT is not in the product, but in the delivery and support of it.

By the end of 2021, our tech will have made organisations far more... intelligent and mobile.

We’ve been teasing followers on social media for weeks, and now we can officially reveal that Vapour has a new ‘home’.

The move to a bespoke space in a converted textiles mill in the heart of Huddersfield felt very fitting, as we prepared for the post-pandemic return to work. For months we’d been speaking to colleagues about what they most value about the workplace, and the surroundings we enjoy – as a team – was a consistent theme.

With most employees looking for a hybrid way of working moving forward, we therefore thought that our office would benefit from a different layout, with a more open plan space driving collaboration and communication when we’re physically working alongside one another.

But mindful of the walls physically dividing up our square footage until recently, we began the hunt for somewhere fresh. We sought character, personality and vibrancy, as well as the more functional convenience of location and the facilities offered nearby. And following a four-month refurbishment programme, what was once a dark, tired space, is now a bright, airy and welcoming environment we’re proud to call home.

Commenting on the move, Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer said: “We’ve boosted the team by 16% in the last six months, and our recruitment plans show no sign of slowing. So, there’s never been a more important time to think about the attractiveness of our office, from an employability perspective.

“Our core space is open plan and features different styles of workstations, to suit colleagues’ varied working styles. As well as more formal, private meeting spaces, there’s also a relaxed seating area for customers and colleagues alike, and a social hub which represents almost a third of our footprint.

“We’ve thought carefully about the décor, down to the artwork on the walls and the soft furnishings. I think people have started to expect something different from their surroundings, following a prolonged period of time working from home, and the vibe we’ve created reflects that.”

Now that the Government’s Covid-19 guidelines are easing, we look forward to hopefully seeing you at our new HQ soon. If you’d like to plan a visit, please let us know – we’re only a few minutes from the M62!

It’s Ronnie Paton’s turn in the spotlight this month. His entrance into the world of tech started with cable TV and fast-forward to 2021, the next 4K offering is on his wishlist. Learn all about our new recruit and cloud UC engineer, in his quick-fire Q&A.

Ronnie, your time starts now…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

It all started when I completed a course surrounding the installation of cable TV, as it was just being rolled out in the UK.

And what is your earliest memory of tech in your life?

I am of an age that means I can remember the world without the internet. And so, my earliest memory of tech is military radios – if you could call them technical?

What’s the one quality you need to thrive in this environment (especially at Vapour)?

The ability to listen to what is being said and explain the solution to everyone at a level they understand, is key.

And what is the one thing you would change about the tech sector?

The use of TLAs (three letter acronyms). I believe they’re over relied on, and that some people try to confuse others by using them to hide their lack of knowledge of what they are explaining.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

Vapour has the ability to build a comms platform around the customer’s needs, rather than the customer having to work around the comms platform.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is... the telephone.

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is... a 4KApple TV.

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is... YouTube. Without it, lockdown would’ve been very boring for sure!

The biggest misconception in the channel is that... everything is difficult, therefore it must be expensive.

By the end of 2021, our tech will have made organisations far more... flexible and secure.

A recent Tech Nation report exploring the topic of diversity revealed that 77% of UK tech director roles were filled by men, and only 19% of the workforce are women.

There’s no doubt there’s still more that needs to be done when it comes to encouraging a fairer gender split throughout the digital landscape.

It’s a subject that’s close to our hearts too and one championed by Vapour’s head of transformation Carol McGrotty. Selected for WeAreTechWomen’s ‘Inspirational Tech Advocate’ Q&A, she discusses how we can all take responsibility for being more inclusive, and why you don’t necessarily have to have a specific degree to be successful in the tech sector.

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

As head of transformation for disruptive cloud tech firm Vapour, I’m responsible for looking at the business at a higher level and piecing together all our departments to achieve true company growth.

The business is almost eight-years-old now and I’ve been here since just after its inception. I’m process-driven and people-orientated, so I’m passionate about making sure we keep playing to our strengths, exploring what we can do even better, and getting our culture and values right so we can drive forward collaboratively.

2. Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Definitely not! I originally wanted to be a midwife when I left school. Thankfully, I can look back and say things have really worked out for me and I’m proud of the role I play now.

I’ve spent 20 years in the telecoms tech sector and once I was learning the trade, I soon felt like I was contributing to something. In terms of Vapour, I could see its vision when I joined, and I wanted to make my mark and build an exciting career for myself with a progressive company.

3. Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

It’s probably more of a personal one, but I can be quite harsh on myself. For example, I can make ten decisions in a day, nine of which are successful but for that one that perhaps didn’t go quite according to plan, I’ll dwell on it. I have to tell myself that nobody has all the answers, and as long as my decision was considered and well-intended, I can learn from it.

4. What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Moving from operations manager to head of operations and compliance was a defining moment. It was a huge shift in mindset because I was responsible for an entire department. It also led to one of my biggest successes to date – completing a scale up programme, in association with Barclays Bank and Cambridge Judge Business School, alongside Vapour CEO Tim Mercer and sales manager, Alec Stephens.

5. What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Finding a role that’s not ‘just a job’ and instead something I can add value to. I’m a big advocate for taking on a role that feels ‘right’ and being part of a company that shares the same vision, and invests in its employees. Thankfully, that’s what I’ve got with Vapour. 

6. What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Technology is forever changing so it’s important to be agile to stay ahead of the curve and provide customers with the support they need – which constantly evolves. Having a flexible approach when offering solutions is so important in this sector, alongside not being afraid to take on fresh challenges and being calm under pressure.

7. Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I do feel there are obstacles. Fortunately, I’ve never felt this but I’m well aware that females in our sector have experienced difficulties when it comes to breaking through. The numbers speak for themselves in terms of how many men are in technology compared to women, so this has to change.

When it comes to career guidance, are girls provided with the information they need to truly engage with the prospect of enjoying a career in tech? We have a responsibility to support this via jargon-free explanations as to what it means to work in digital, underline the vast benefits and really get across the impact that employees make. 

8. What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Exploring apprenticeships or accelerator programmes could be great places to start for companies. We also offer job visits to try and spark interest in people progressing a career in technology.

It’s about providing ways to help attract a wider talent pool and that’s where culture comes into play. If an organisation is committed to building an environment that’s forward-thinking and inclusive, it’s more likely to get a greater level of diverse applicants when its next job vacancy comes around.

9. There is currently only 15% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Role models and strong influences that young girls and women can look up to are so vital. We’re seeing more females on boards and in director roles now which will definitely help. It needs to continue though, and we all have a part to play in this.

10. What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, e.g. podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Well, of course WeAreTechWomen’s resources are fantastic! I’d also recommend Disruptive.Live for in-depth interviews and Technology Reseller is a really engaging publication. Let’s not forget the ‘Between the Eyes’ podcast either that’s hosted by Tim [Mercer]. He invites guests to talk on his show about everything from business development to wellbeing.

The hybrid world of work is here to stay and brings a raft of benefits with it. But we can’t forget the data security risks that come with being away from the usual corporate setting.

And, to celebrate the launch of our SD-WAN solution for hybrid workers, we decided to team up with One Minute Briefs in a bid to educate the nation around some of the cyber risks which lurk with remote work.

Enlisting the help of One Minute Brief’s 33k-strong online community (otherwise known as OMBLES), we set about creating posters which highlight the cyber risks associated with hybrid working – if organisations don’t better protect their colleagues’ devices.

Of course, we’d highly recommend using Vapour’s new hybrid working solution, which integrates endpoint and network security through state-of-the-art SD-WAN technologies, to reduce organisations’ exposure to cyber threats, regardless of where employees decide to work from one day to the next.

The OMBLES were inspired too, and not only did the campaign feature amongst Twitter’s ‘trending’ charts – alongside National Tea Day and The Queen’s 95th birthday – but it generated over 200 entries, 76.6k impressions, and reached around 6.6 million people.

The level of creativity was sky-high, and it took us a while to settle on a shortlist of just 20 – never mind our eventual winner. But do you agree with our selection? Find out more about our SD-WAN solution, here.

Cloud technology disruptor Vapour has launched an SD-WAN solution – powered by Gartner Magic Quadrant leader Fortinet – to integrate endpoint and network security for the hybrid workplace.

Deployed as a software licence – with three levels of support available on a ‘price per user per month’ basis – the solution facilitates endpoint visibility and management, secure remote access for employees irrespective of location, and automated threat intelligence and response.

Mindful that IT leaders are seeking zero-touch provisioning, this technology is even simpler to roll out, as no hardware installation is required. The service has been 12 months in the planning.

With transparent visibility to each endpoint, the solution gives IT teams full control over individual compliance, and ensures that endpoint-borne risks such as firewall weaknesses or unsecure home routers will not pose a threat to corporate networks.

Security workflows are automated for proactive ongoing management, and dynamic controls mean the SD-WAN technology ‘fixes itself’, based on colleagues’ security posture, and the speed, performance, and traffic on the network at a given point in time. Potential security threats are also raised, and incidents contained almost instantly.

Commenting on the timeliness of the launch, Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer said: “We all know that the traditional 9-5 is long gone, with employees seeking increasing flexibility from their working day –especially when it comes to location. Many people are keen to remain at home, some are hungry to return to the workplace, and others want the fluidity to decide from one day to the next.

“Hybrid working is definitely the future, but this isn’t the easiest to manage from a network security perspective. This is exactly why we’ve launched this solution – it’s powerful technology designed to liberate businesses, as they move forward in a post-Covid world.”

Vapour’s market research revealed that most organisations are reliant on VPNs only, but the cost and time associated with managing this approach to network security means the solution is usually available for a limited number of senior colleagues alone.

Vapour’s senior network engineer Salim Ramzan added: “The beauty of our software-focused solution to secure hybrid working, is that it is technically brilliant, but operationally effortless. Even the ‘Lite’ version of the licence includes functionality that I predict 40% of IT leaders don’t currently have.

“That’s the benefit of investing in a security-first cloud architecture – security lies at the heart of it, rather than it being an afterthought. For example, a sandbox feature automatically identifies potentially malicious inbound content, sends it to Fortinet and explores its validity, in seconds, before allowing it to land in the recipient’s inbox. If the sandbox is dissatisfied with the outcome, the content is held and the IT director is alerted so that they can investigate it further, in a secure environment, if they wish.”

Further information on Vapour’s Lite, Premium and Pro licences, can be found at vapourcloud.com/SD-WAN-hybrid-working

Vapour has signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant – a promise to ensure that those who serve – or who have served – in the armed forces, as well as their families, are treated fairly.

The pledge means that Vapour recognises the value that serving personnel, veterans and military relatives bring to the country, and commits to helping members of the armed forces community access the same services and opportunities as any other citizen. Vapour is therefore also a proud forces friendly employer.

The move is perhaps no surprise given the company’s support for the armed forces over the years, which has included fundraising for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, for example.

Commenting on the promise, Vapour’s soldier-turned-CEO Tim Mercer said: “There are so many transferrable skills and qualities that you can bring from your military career to the civilian workplace – and I’m not the only person to have evidenced this within our own company.

“From teamwork and camaraderie, to leadership, lateral thinking and problem solving under pressure, I could go on and on. Veterans are enriched by their service, but some face a number of challenges after leaving too. As a business, signing up to the covenant is just one thing we can do to support those who have served for our country.”

The Armed Forces Covenant is an agreement between the armed forces community, the nation and the government. It encapsulates the moral obligation to the military, their families and the bereaved.

The first quarter of 2021 has flown by, as we’ve seen our rebrand, investments and new appointments taking over the news! So, let’s look back at the last three months in the media, to see whereabouts we hit.

Our new direction and hat-trick of collaborations

Data Centre & Network News noted our trio of powerful new industry collaborations that’ve been 12 months in the making. From further enhancing our existing relationship with firewall partner Fortinet, to cementing our relationship with Veeam and signing a new deal with TechData, it’s clear we’ve been hard at work behind-the-scenes. We also added new solutions – Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and UC+C analytics – to our growing toolkit, investing £350k in the cloud technologies powering the UK’s most ambitious businesses.

Two new hires and head of transformation move

February saw our new ‘appointment and promotion’ announcement circle the news, as we progress towards our £7m turnover target for the year. Our long-standing operations lead, Carol McGrotty, made the transition into her new role as head of transformation, following 20 years in the telecoms industry. She didn’t wait around to add to her team either, with two new starters welcomed onboard quickly, to enhance Vapour’s technical capacity even further! Read the full story over at UK Tech News.

How to overcome 5 key tech challenges for 2021

Vapour’s sales manager, Alec Stephens, spoke to Techerati to offer his thoughts on the challenges businesses are set to face in what will be a pivotal year for most. His expert advice delved deep into fixing issues caused by legacy systems, remote working, and why your insights may drop as your tech stack evolves. Want to know how bringing multichannel comms into one ecosystem makes it far easier to explore workplace analytics? Then this isn’t one to miss!

The UC Summit with JCT600

Our CEO, Tim Mercer, featured in UC Summit’s annual conference and expo, exploring Vapour’s digital cloud transformation for automotive retail giant, JCT600. With JCT600’s IT manager, Chris Gensmantel, they highlighted some of the key challenges of transitioning a 50-site business to a managed cloud service, and what this meant for their mission to be not just the biggest, but the best in a competitive market. Click here to watch the session, on demand.

Joining forces with The ICC Group

Channel EYE reported on our new partnership with The ICC Group (ICC), as we broke the news that we’ve joined forces to respond to the rising demand for next generation managed services in their customer base. The collaboration means that when ICC customers want to embark on a digital transformation journey – or even a cloud-first overhaul of their communications infrastructure – we’ll work together to deliver the perfect solution.

Stay tuned for more news from Vapour HQ, as 2021 unfolds!

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