Tech leaders from throughout the UK gathered at The Chambers in Leeds last month, for an invite-only forum exploring the innovations that will disrupt the market in 2022.

Vapour hosted the intimate event at the prestigious city venue, to bring together some of the most pioneering thought leaders from the communication and cloud tech spaces. And a hand-selected number of customers were also asked to attend for an exclusive insight into where the market is going, and the impact the innovations could have on their businesses.

Leading the line-up was Fortinet’s Steve Mulhearn exploring the advances in the SD-WAN environment, and the emergence of SD-WAN 3.1 for organisations who really want to future-proof the resilience of their security and networking infrastructure. 

Next up was Content Guru’s Edward Winfield and John Funning. They explored the paradigm shift in customer service – particularly since the onset of the pandemic – and the changes that savvy organisations must make if they’re to retain their reputation and market share. Ed shared industry data which evidences individuals’ falling tolerance for poor service levels, and some surprising statistics regarding the ever-evolving need for businesses to offer omnichannel options when communicating internally and externally.

Logic Monitor’s Samkit Shah and Antony Hawkins delved a little deeper into the technology behind Vapour’s much-talked-about new Application Monitoring as a Service solution. But rather than relying on a PowerPoint presentation, the duo shared a live demo of the platform in action – showing how organisations can use AMaaS to see more, know more, and do more.

Vapour’s very own head of transformation and operations Carol McGrotty also took to the ‘stage’, to encourage the audience to understand how the implementation of technology, processes and people, can liberate business growth. She spoke honestly about the journey we have been through and the lengths we are going to, to push for continuous improvement – however major or marginal the gains.

To conclude the afternoon, there was an impromptu showcase of some extremely hot technology – the world’s only bonded and truly mobile router, built here, in England. While the event was not designed to have a sales focus, the audience lapped up this product introduction, and showered the trio of surprise guests from Albeego with questions about the device – which relies on multiple encrypted connections to a network, so the user’s data is never exposed to the ‘raw’ wireless environment.

Commenting on the day, Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer said: “We’re here to join the dots for our customers – and we believe in being straight-talking. We’ve also missed the opportunity to spend time, face to face, exploring how we can solve today’s – and tomorrow’s – business challenges, together.

“The timing therefore felt right for our latest innovation forum – it’s been a while. But we wanted it to be exclusive, rather than a mass gathering. The day ran like clockwork, and the level of conversation in the room was inspiring. So much so, we started planning the next event before we even got home.”

To discuss any of these topics in further detail please contact Vapour on 0333 200 1142 or complete our contact form to request more information.

To express an interest in attending Vapour’s next innovation forum in the summer, please email Greeta Sagris – gs@vapourcloud.com

Two disruptive cloud tech firms – both headquartered in Yorkshire – have announced an industry collaboration to supercharge the digital transformation solutions delivered to clients.

Managed IT specialist CloudCoCo, based in Leeds, will strengthen the cybersecurity offering provided by us here at Vapour. And in return, we will enhance CloudCoCo’s infrastructure with the addition of security-first SD-WAN connectivity – a cost-effective, scalable cloud technology that integrates network and user security, with ease, for high performance remote working.

The alliance signals the latest in a series of strategic partnerships for us – as an organisation that has never shied away from joining forces with the industry’s brightest talent, when approaching customers’ digital transformation projects.

“Organisations – certainly in the larger SME market and above – don’t expect or want a vendor to be a ‘jack of all trades’ anymore,” explained CEO Tim Mercer. “They seek to place their trust in a small number of proven experts who will listen carefully to the brief and deliver exactly what the business needs. Partnerships, in this environment, are therefore key. But they have to be carefully formed, between specialists whose technologies, standards, and cultures, are on a par, with no exceptions.”

With both companies closely aligned with enterprise cybersecurity giant Fortinet, the credibility of the two brands was clear when discussions to partner first began.

“We’re here to demystify cloud technologies to make the impossible, possible,” Tim added. “You can only do that by remaining straight-talking and customer focused at all times, and sometimes going against the grain. We’re not afraid to do that, and neither is CloudCoCo. I think both companies – and the teams within them – are respected for their honesty, so we’re a good fit when it comes to devising solutions, together.”

Like Tim, Mark Halpin’s cloud-first vision was also dismissed when he too left the corporate world to set up CloudCoCo. Fast forward three years, and the business now has more than 1,000 customers, £27m turnover, and has recently acquired managed service provider IDE Connect and Nimoveri IT Support.

“I was told I was cloud cuckoo for believing the managed IT sector had become slow, unresponsive, boring and broken, so in April 2018 I left my long-term job and built a company of agile, fiercely passionate, and supremely talented cloud, cybersecurity, connectivity, hardware and hosted voice professionals,” explained Mark.

“Tim and I share a similar back story and many values too – not least a passion for delighting customers with the help of progressive people and powerful technology that doesn’t have to be complicated. This partnership could mean great things for both our respective teams. CloudCoco has an unlimited ambition in terms of growth, so the future starts now.”

Vapour is also forecasting 25% revenue growth by the end of the financial year.

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.

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

Known for helping organisations unleash the power of cloud computing, whatever their size, we’ve put our heads together to give companies a much-needed boost during 2021.

SAVE ON INDUSTRY-LEADING CLOUD TECHNOLOGY… IN THREE EASY STEPS!

1.Vapour’s secure cloud servers 

State-of-the-art cloud hosting with 99.999% uptime, in our secure, private, ISO27001-accredited data centres.

Benefit from three months’ half price on any IaaS bundle and achieve increased security, resilience, scalability, performance and support from cloud-specialist engineers:

Small Hosted server bundle2 Core CPU, 4GB RAM, 40GB SSD£38 per month*
Medium Hosted Server Bundle4 Core CPU, 8GB RAM, 80GB SSD£78 per month*
Large Hosted Server Bundle8 Core CPU, 16GB RAM, 200GB SSD£159 per month*
With storage of only £0.05 per 1Gb and free migration*excludes licenses

2. Industry-leading Veeam cloud backups

Recover the data you need, quickly and with minimal fuss, if the unexpected happens, to reduce downtime and maintain BAU.

Backup workload typesCost per unit
Workstation£3.00
VM£5.00
Physical server£8.00

And now save even more:

12-month contract50% off for 3 months
24-month contract50% off for 6 months
36-month contract50% off for 9 months
Includes free migration!

3. Microsoft 365 backups

Microsoft 365 usage exploded in 2020, but why do so few businesses backup their accounts?

We can help, now for only £1.50 per user.

Resellers can also contact us to explore additional savings.

Commenting on the launch of these special bundles, sales manager Alec Stephens said: “We don’t typically push price-led offers, as our OpEx budget-friendly models are packed full of value and customers are often hoodwinked into ‘deals’ that end up not-fit-for-purpose.

“But so many organisations came to us last year because they didn’t have the cloud infrastructures they needed – and business continuity and disaster recovery is hard to deliver in retrospect! We know that IT decision makers need to achieve more, with less, so we want to ensure their budgets work harder. And, rather than focusing only on short term projects, we can help deliver future-proofed infrastructures, with quick turnaround.”

Offers end 31 March 2021.

To discuss any of these promotions, please call 0333 200 1142, email sales@vapourcloud.com or complete our short enquiry form.

Jason is the latest Vapour colleague to step into the spotlight, and did you know, he nearly became an accountant rather than a cloud specialist?! In this quickfire Q&A he talks tech, trust and not taking himself too seriously…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

Many moons ago when I was training to be an accountant, I started to use PCs and learnt to program.

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

A BBC Micro Model B at Primary School

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

I think you need a good work ethos, the ability to bounce off other members of staff and a commitment to building solid customer relationships. A great sense of humour helps too!

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

There are a lot of businesses that sadly claim to be able to deliver something, when in reality they can’t.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

We have a great close-knit team which gives us the ability to understand and deliver customer requirements efficiently and professionally. I think this in itself creates a crucial sense of trust and enhances our relationship with them.

Complete the sentences:

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

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is... nothing! I’ve just upgraded my iPhone, so I don’t plan to buy anything else at the moment.

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

The biggest misconception in the channel is that... the space is crowded with organisations doing the same thing. I actually think there are too many players BUT not enough doers.

By the end of 2020, our tech will have made organisations far more... flexible in the workplace.

IT consultancy PrimeTel has joined forces with Vapour Cloud to bolster its UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) proposition.

With more than 50 years’ combined technology and telecoms experience, PrimeTel’s directors have built a business which helps facilitate clients’ digital transformation projects across data, security, hosting and voice. The company’s consultative approach sees them advise and support on the procurement process, when customers don’t know exactly where to turn.

Having met Vapour at an industry event in 2019 – and learning about the team’s Avaya strengths – PrimeTel’s discussions with the cloud specialist unfolded at pace.

Fast forward to 2020 and the two unified communications players will now collaborate on projects whereby the customer is looking to move from an on-premise legacy telecoms system to a flexible, cloud-based Avaya solution.

“When a customer approaches us with their scenario, it’s our job to get to the heart of their requirements. Sometimes there’s a clear spec for the project, whereas other times, businesses don’t understand exactly what is possible,” explained PrimeTel’s director Scott Aldridge.

“It’s important that we remain partner agnostic, to ensure we recommend exactly the right solution for the brief at hand,” he elaborated. “However, we do need a strong portfolio of best of breed suppliers that we can ‘plug in’ as our customers’ projects take shape. With their own private cloud network and Avaya engineering skill-sets, Vapour was extremely attractive in this respect.”

And the timeliness of this partnership approach cannot be underestimated, added Scott.

“The voice market is continuing to change at pace,” he said. “And the newfound yet widespread acceptance of remote working means we don’t see this pace slowing, any time soon. We were on the lookout for an Avaya expert, able to deliver projects from end to end, if the customer needs that service wrap. We’ve found that in Vapour.”

Vapour’s sales manager Alec Stephens added: “We’ve long talked about the power of collaboration in the channel. This can be a complex space – which is moving faster than ever – and customers need to know that they can move forward with their projects confidently, so that their investments are protected for the long term.

“Sometimes, the best way to deliver what is truly the right solution for a customer, is to join forces and combine expertise. This PrimeTel partnership fits this brief entirely.”

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