Initially unveiled to rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google Bard has been on a rapid growth trajectory since its launch in February 2023. And with brand-based transformations making headlines this month, it seems there’s only more competition and capabilities to come. Vapour CEO, Tim Mercer, unpicks the latest changelog and explores what’s to come for the generative AI model in 2024.

Hot on the heels of media speculation — spurred by noted app developer and occasional information leaker, Dylan Roussel, on X — Google officially announced Bard’s rebrand to Gemini this month. The new-look platform coordinates with its multi-modal AI model of the same name, which was rolled out in December last year, and claims to have broken ground by outperforming human experts on Massive Multitask Language Understanding (MMLU).

Why has Google Bard rebranded to Gemini?

Since its debut, Google’s AI tool has introduced a number of enhancements, including the ability to generate images from text. Now, in leveraging the name of the Large Language Model (LLM) powering the AI chatbot, the global giant looks to better reflect the advanced tech at its core, while curbing the confusion surrounding the growing number of AI-powered products in its portfolio. This includes, for example, Google’s Duet AI collaboration tools for Google Workspace.

What other changes will Gemini bring?

Beyond the name change, Google has evolved Gemini’s User Interface (UI) to reduce visual distractions, improve legibility, and simplify the navigation for consumers. The introduction of the gemini.google.com website domain marks a true ‘clean slate’ launch too. 

The chatbot will also launch Gemini Advanced, a paid version which utilises a more powerful generative AI model called Gemini Ultra, instead of Gemini Pro as standard. Rolling out in 150 countries to start, it’s set to be better at complex coding, logical reasoning, and creative collaboration queries. In the future, it will also grow its multi-modal capabilities, and be able to analyse more data simultaneously.

While core features of the standard plan remain intact, a new mobile app for Android will offer more streamlined access to Gemini for on-the-go queries too, as well as an option to replace Google Assistant. But with the former not yet capable of performing on-device tasks — despite its conversational slant and multi-modal capabilities — it’s unlikely to steal the march just yet.

A recent article from Computer World summarises the differences, stating that “the real problem with Gemini as the Android assistant is that Google's forgotten why a phone assistant actually matters — and what we, as actual users in the real world, need from such a service. Plain and simple, using Gemini in place of Google Assistant feels like having a square peg awkwardly forced into a round hole.”

Charting for growth in 2024 and beyond

Google isn’t the only AI titan to make such leaps, however. Competition is rife among Microsoft, Open AI, and several burgeoning AI startups right now too. It was only last month that Microsoft unveiled a slew of Copilot updates, including supercharged subscriptions with its Pro offering and the ability to create your own Copilot GPTs. Meanwhile, new embedding models and API updates are making their way to OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise the generative AI market is projected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2032.

Keen to harness AI the right way? Let’s talk about our complementary technologies and how they can take your business to new heights in 2024.

Transformational cloud technology firm Vapour has agreed a deal with Leeds-headquartered virtualDCS, to move its entire Veeam estate and hosting platform over to the channel specialist’s infrastructure.

All Vapour’s hosted servers and backups will be migrated over to the virtualDCS environment in a three-phased programme of work that will span the next six months.

Although technology agnostic, Vapour has frequently recommended Veeam solutions to clients as the business has grown over the last 10 years. But as the scope and scale of customer requirements continues to advance, Vapour wanted to supercharge its data protection strategy.

Collaborating with virtualDCS – a Veeam platinum partner and 2023 Veeam innovation Award winner  – will bolster Vapour’s ability to deliver greater resilience, technical support, and agile cloud growth for the market.

Elaborating on the partnership, Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer explained: “As we continually expand our cloud portfolio, we’re always looking for ways to provide additional layers of availability and security.

With access to virtualDCS’s multiple UK data centres we could now spin up an unlimited number of servers with ease, safe in the knowledge we don’t just have access to more hardware – we’ll benefit from the latest software releases too. The collaboration provides us with the most cost-efficient and energy savvy scalability strategy, for Vapour and customers alike.

“People familiar with the Vapour brand know we love solving technology challenges too. virtualDCS’s engineers will now act as an extension of our own team, meaning we can now offer real depth to our pre-sales support. And that’s before we think about the new services we’ll be able to offer when this initial six month project is complete.”

Jason Newell, channel director at virtualDCS added: "This is a fantastic partnership and mutual opportunity for virtualDCS, Vapour Cloud and their customers. By working together, we can deliver a range of comprehensive disaster recovery and Infrastructure services, which not only meet but exceed customer expectations.

The new partnership forges a resilient and customer-centric approach to business continuity and with virtualDCS now acting as an extension to Vapour’s technical team, their customers can benefit from world-leading Veeam services and data protection experts." 

With its HQ in Huddersfield, but colleagues across the country in Glasgow, Sunderland, Manchester and London, Vapour provides the hidden technology behind powerful business.

Industrial shredding specialist UNTHA UK is no stranger to Vapour’s cloud toolkit, having long been a user of the TeamsLink solution for savvy Microsoft communication. But impressed with the quality of the collaboration to date, the growing business has returned to Vapour once again, to further strengthen its Microsoft estate.

The engineering firm has been independently recognised for its progressive use of technology, having been hailed as a ‘leading light’ in the Digital Enterprise Top 100 hit list for 2022. And UNTHA UK’s pioneering use of Microsoft Dynamics functionality throughout its entire business, is one of the main reasons for this prestigious accolade.

Because their existing Microsoft partner could no longer provide the organisation’s licences, UNTHA UK turned to Vapour for alternative provision. But instead of simply supplying the licences ‘as is’, the Vapour team conducted a thorough audit and optimisation exercise, ensuring the licence types were fit for purpose for individual colleagues’ existing and future requirements. Not only does this align to the collaboration and productivity goals of the growing business, but it helps protect UNTHA UK’s budget too. There was an evaluation of the current licences base being used and changed in line with the UNTHA UK business strategy.

Vapour’s senior sales support James Wood explains: “We’re very transparent, as a business, about our approach to providing the best possible service to customers. We openly call on the expertise of our partner network where required, and the UNTHA UK project represented a fantastic opportunity to bring in our peers at CloudCoCo for the licensing support. The relationship still sits with Vapour, so UNTHA UK has a single point of contact, but the customer benefits from the involvement of true specialists in their respective fields. This is when things start to get very exciting.”

With a visionary roadmap of upcoming activity still to unfold, conversations are now ongoing regarding UNTHA UK’s even more progressive use of Microsoft Dynamics moving forward, with key considerations around backup and automation already underway. 

At Vapour, we’re as known for our people as we are our toolkit. Experienced, dependable and undeniably human, they’ve played an integral role in driving the company’s success since 2013. And this month, we’re delighted to be celebrating two major milestones that pay perfect testament to that remarkable journey.

During their decade of service, Carol McGrotty, head of digital transformation and innovation, and James (Jimmy) Wood, senior sales support, have made their mark on colleagues, customers, and channel partners alike.

With over 20 years’ experience, Carol’s first foray into the tech and telecoms space was a chance secondment role with NTL (now Virgin Media). Making the leap to join Vapour in 2014, she spent seven years as our head of operations, before being promoted in 2021.

From managing the technical, field and administrative teams to defining the operating model to run TechOps and business support functions, she’s now referred to as the ‘lifeblood’ of the Vapour team by many; a true ‘dot-joiner’.

As well as spearheading major projects including Vapour’s own strategic rebrand — a visual overhaul, as well as a mechanism to reposition the brand in a crowded space — Carol has delivered insightful talks with the likes of Mills & Reeve and Channel Live, as well as penned pieces for publications including WeAreTechWomen and TechBlast. She’s therefore a true ambassador for women in tech.

Meanwhile, Jimmy has remained a critical component of our customer care team. Hyper-focused on combating the smoke and mirrors that cloud the tech space, he’s built a career around demystifying. Stripping away the jargon, he ensures our solutions are simple, effective and understandable — because you don’t have to be a techie to appreciate the value of streamlined technology.

With his knack for translating complex concepts into plain language, he empowers our customers to make informed decisions and fully embrace the advantages of our user-friendly toolkit. Long gone are the days of tech being intimidating or exclusive. Recently, we were also proud to see him awarded a distinction in his Team Leader / Supervisor (Level 3) qualification.

Jimmy’s expertise doesn't end there, though. Keeping a constant eye on emerging tech, he actively contributes to shaping the future direction of our products and services too. His commitment to staying ahead of the curve has led to the implementation of cutting-edge features and improvements within our toolkit, ensuring our clients benefit from the latest advancements, while keeping our own business fresh.

Commenting on the duo’s milestone, Vapour CEO Tim Mercer said: “Challenging the status quo and pushing for better has always been a key part of our DNA. But that doesn’t just ‘happen’. More importantly, it doesn’t occur overnight. It takes a team of talented people — with grit, empathy, and dependability — to keep the wheels in motion.

“The success of Vapour is not merely a result of cutting-edge technology but is deeply rooted in the people who breathe life into our organisation every day. The past decade has seen us evolve, adapt, and thrive in a dynamic industry, and we owe much of that success to individuals like Carol and Jimmy.”

Carol's strategic vision and Jimmy's relentless pursuit of simplicity have been instrumental in propelling Vapour to new heights. And as we strive for further innovation and customer-centricity, we’re excited to see what the next decade will bring for the team. 

Curious to meet the wider Vapour collective? Meet the faces behind the business.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its mark. From virtual assistants to data analytics, biometric security features, fraud detection and medical diagnosis, its applications are vast and varied. And, as Tim Mercer explored in his recent thoughts on the ‘future CEO’, it won’t be long before it has earned a seat at the boardroom table too.

But what does the next phase of growth and innovation look like, until then? And with 2023 having ushered in a number of changes on a regulatory front, how might we expect the next 12 months to take shape? 

Rapid and somewhat unprecedented, AI progress has given rise to a number of concerns throughout the tech space. Can we really trust these burgeoning systems? How much does AI truly understand? And if you’re not concerned about sentience and security, you might be wondering whether the tech will have an adverse impact on your job long-term.

Those concerns may have even been fuelled by the emergence of Google Gemini more recently — reported to be the first AI model to outperform human experts on massive multitask language understanding (MMLU) and has outperformed ChatGPT’s free tool in widespread testing too.

Ongoing changes to AI regulation 

The reality is, the tool itself isn’t inherently bad. It’s about what we, as humans and handlers, choose to do with it that counts. Heard of Ross O’Lochlainn’s ‘IKE-AI effect’ theory? Similar to the ‘IKEA effect’, he predicted organisations would overestimate the value of ‘soul-less, average garbage’ content, just because they made it with AI. It’s a very different sector of course, but a trend that parallels the very fears we’re seeing in other spaces.

Nevertheless, prevailing concerns have caused such a ripple that countries across the globe have moved to regulate them more comprehensively. The European Union reached political agreement on the AI Act in December. Intended to ensure the safety of AI systems on the EU market and provide legal certainty for investments and innovation in AI, the Act will enforce harmonised rules for the development, market placement and use of AI systems in the EU, following a proportionate risk-based approach. 

Overseas, Canada implemented a voluntary code of conduct in October to govern how AI is developed within its borders. Companies that sign on to the code are agreeing to multiple principles to boost data transparency, address potential bias for accuracy, and more. And in China, regulations have long revealed a considerable interest in generative AI and protections against synthetically generated images, video, audio, and text. 

Is ongoing scepticism limiting AI’s potential?

We’re taking back control. But at what cost? There’s room to suggest this ‘hysteria hype’ could just be stifling competitive-edge and innovation.

Andrew Ng — Google Brain cofounder and Stanford professor, widely regarded as one of the pioneers of machine learning — recently weighed in on these concerns by way of experiment, in which he tried to coax ChatGPT into coming up with ways to exterminate humanity. In his newsletter, he shared how multiple prompts failed to trigger the ‘doomsday scenario’ so many are scared of. It’s a humorous example, but Ng isn’t the first AI luminary to doubt misconceptions either.

No matter your stance, or the regulatory backdrop, AI is here to stay. And these energy-intensive applications demand advanced hardware to power their workloads. Building data centres with greater power density therefore plays a key role in enabling transformation. But with increased capacity comes greater heat output. Of course, the liquid cooling solutions required to combat this represent a number of technical and environmental hurdles in itself. So, how can organisations keep pace? 

AI dependance is shifting data centre strategy

For firms utilising multiple AI tools, colocation services can be a holy grail this year. By renting rack space in specialised data centres, businesses leverage advanced cooling systems and expertise to manage high-power density workloads, as well as benefits such as physical security, redundancy, and 24/7 monitoring.

This, coupled with a hybrid cloud approach, facilitates seamless integration of multiple AI tools and technologies. Plus, it provides instantaneous compute resources closer to their end users while efficiently managing the escalating data volumes driven largely by AI dependence.

Even industries forced to hold their cards close to their chest — finance and healthcare, for example — are growing hungrier to embrace such approaches. If we’ve learnt anything in recent years though, it’s to avoid knee-jerk implementations at all costs. That’s unless spiralling budgets and mismatched workloads are what you’re aiming for this year (we doubt it). Learn more about what a successful cloud migration strategy looks like, to underpin any AI-related endeavours.

It’s uncertain, but it’s exciting — as long as we harness it the right way.

Did the cloud and colocation talk catch your interest? Talk to our experts to see how you can unlock the true potential of your infrastructure in 2024.

Given the ever-changing make-up of the modern workplace — not to mention the advancing role of AI and other progressive technologies — the skills and mindset of an effective CEO could begin to look very different over the coming years. Tim Mercer, CEO at cloud tech firm, Vapour, offers his thoughts…

The role of a CEO has never been straightforward. In fact, individuals seeking a linear career path with no unexpected hurdles to overcome, need not apply. However, people who demonstrate adaptability, foresight, resilience, and a strong sense of leadership – even during the toughest periods of change – could have what it takes.  

But as we look ahead to the years to come, the qualities and strengths of an effective CEO look set to evolve further still – for some, beyond recognition. 

A thirst for data

Decision making plagues the time of senior executives worldwide. In fact, Raconteur’s survey of 1000 senior leaders reported that 40% of C-suites’ time is spent on decision making – a challenge compounded, no doubt, by the fact 44% claimed to be suffering from data overload. Interestingly, an overwhelming proportion – 85% – of the same respondents, said they believed they could generate 20% additional revenue if technology aided the decision making process. 

Look back in time a little, and a 2019 Deloitte study revealed that 67% of execs were uncomfortable acting on data from advanced analytical systems, perhaps because they have relied on experience and gut instinct for so long. So, is the tide now changing? 

AI is influencing so much of our personal lives after all, which suggests a growing willingness to trust it – even if many of us still are merely ‘dipping our toes in the water’. Maybe the time has come to embrace AI and complementary technologies such as machine learning – they don’t have to make every decision, but they could at least augment the CEO’s decision making process. 

This doesn’t mean going ‘cold turkey’ and throwing decades of human intelligence out of the window. We know full well that data is open to interpretation, for instance, and this is where intellect and experience will still play a critical part. But, whether CEOs like it or not, we will probably have to allow AI a seat at the boardroom table, in the not-so-distant future. In some organisations, this could even change the composition of the wider board, with vacancies opening up for chief data scientists and the like. 

Evolving leadership styles

With the advent of such roles, thought should also be given as to how this may affect leadership styles. Will different types of leaders emerge? And will there be new routes ‘to the top’ as a result?

In truth, the backstories of CEOs have probably become much more diverse in recent times anyway. Some figureheads are true entrepreneurs – constant innovators. There are those with a far more sales-focused or commercial skill-set. Philanthropists with unswervingly strong ethics. Leaders with a ‘win at all costs’ mentality, who want to grow business ‘kings’. Others with a ‘follower’ style, who are more content simply not to lose. 

This diversity should be championed and encouraged further, because for too long, the CEO demographic has been dominated by white males from a superior schooling background. This needs to change. Only 7% of FTSE Top 100 CEOs are women, for example, and not one of these is a woman of colour. 

So, what will the statistics look like over the next five years? And how will small to medium sized businesses continue to shake up society’s perception of what is and isn’t acceptable ‘at the top’? When it comes to opinions surrounding how organisations are run, the public’s voice is getting louder. While the role of a CEO is absolutely a position of power, that power should not be taken for granted, or abused. 

A cultivating culture

While only a subjective viewpoint, it is my opinion that the days of leaders acting boldly and without consequence – shaping companies to suit merely their own persona – are long gone. Such approaches certainly seem to come under fire more often, with a softer, more cultivating style becoming increasingly common – especially among new millennial leaders. The priority to nurture and empower, with empathy, is surely more important than a desire to dominate. 

Think about the way ‘undercover bosses’ really learn about how a company works. The process is so often eye-opening because it affords the opportunity for CEOs to understand and consult with the workforce. And in today’s ever-changing world, the support of a capable team, helping to steer an organisation and its CEO through the turbulence of the unexpected, has probably never been so important. 

The role of an advisor

Every business would undoubtedly benefit from a trusted advisor too – an external confidante who can mentor and support this consultative approach to leadership. Data suggests that the number of executive professional coaches worldwide increased by 54%  last year, which implies a growing reliance on such a role.

Why? Because being a CEO can be lonely. You may have a capable senior management team (SMT). A reliable and high-performing board. But find the right advisor – someone you can rely on who has perhaps been in the same position as you, and/or who could offer a different perspective – and this has the potential to be game-changing. Maybe the whole SMT could even benefit from a leadership coach.

This won’t be a comfortable process for many – it can almost feel like a psychiatrist-patient relationship, with the leader asked to bear their soul, without judgement, in the search of support. For some CEOs used to wearing a mask that cannot slip, it might prove difficult to open up. 

But we are all human after all. We want people to follow us, as leaders. And maybe, as the world of work changes around us, it is more inspiring to follow a leader who is authentic, and real, than someone we cannot connect with. 

In truth, every CEO is different, and that is probably why the business environment is so diverse, and exciting. Some will conduct the role in only the way they know how, while others will treat every day as a school day and continue to adapt. Completely new C-suite execs will come onto the scene too, with fresh ideas and their own approaches. But in a world where tech – not to mention society – presents new challenges and opportunities on almost a weekly basis, this medley is probably exactly what we need. 

CommsVision made its much anticipated return to the famed Gleneagles Hotel, in the heart of Scotland, last week. Rich with three days’ worth of strategic insight, it played a leading role, as ever, in setting the tech channel up for success in 2024. 

Helping organisations measure their own progress and chart a course for future growth, the focus of the event centred around: 

The speaker line-up was more diverse than ever before too. From the many business dynamics influencing decision-making to culture’s competitive edge, and why consistency and authenticity are key for growth, thought-leaders shared insight on a whole host of topics. 

But, according to Vapour CEO Tim Mercer, there were three major standouts this year.

  1. Cally Beaton — media executive, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker.

Early in her career, Cally joined the board of the UK’s main commercial broadcaster, ITV, as the youngest and only female member. At a time when there wasn’t even a women’s toilet on the exec floor, there’s no denying she’s inspired professionals in the channel from the get-go. Naturally, her session at CommsVision was no different. 

Combining sharp wit and engaging delivery with unparalleled knowledge, she explored how cultivating braver and more authentic leaders is key for engendering personal and organisational change. Developing a more positive, agile, and inclusive environment means thinking differently. And, for want of a better phrase, to stop faffing and get on with it.

  1. Dan Cobley — tech investor and former MD of Google UK. 

Having spent over a decade at Google, serving as managing director of the giant’s UK & Ireland arm, Dan was responsible for helping companies large and small harness the true power of digital for ultimate commercial success. His expertise doesn’t end there though. Heard of the financial marketplace, ClearScore? It’s one of the fastest-growing ventures of Blenheim Chalcot, at which Dan is also the investor and managing partner.

His experience leading FinTech companies is therefore incredibly vast and varied. As such, he was perfectly placed to uncover the potential of disruptive technology such as AI and automation and explore how firms can use tech to scale rapidly and drive long-term growth. The key takeaway? Be terrifyingly open and bet on the future.

  1. Mandy Hickson — former Tornado pilot, author, and inspirational speaker.

Of the 3000 people who apply to fly Tornado jets in the Royal Air Force (RAF), only one will qualify. To put the scale of those odds into an even more astounding perspective, only five women in history have made the cut too. One of those women was Mandy Hickson, who served in a front-line Tornado GR4 squadron, playing an active role in the conflict in Iraq. 

Intelligent, thought-provoking, and incredibly engaging, she offered vivid insight into the leadership, teamwork and communication required to define and then realise specific goals in high-pressure situations. Drawing experience from her time in the RAF, she also brought attention to the value of open and honest post-project debriefs — something even the most forward-thinking businesses overlook.

Offering a concluding comment on the expo, Tim Mercer said: “It’s great to see the channel not only being more collaborative at events like CommsVision, but being more open-minded in approach each year too. These conversations will naturally have a huge impact on MSPs and resellers. But, above all else, it means clients gain access to a richer and more expansive set of products, services, and partnerships too.”

Catch more about the event, via Comms Dealer

As the third quarter of 2023 comes to a close, the tech world has once again proven its dynamism and innovation. From breakthroughs in artificial intelligence to advancements in sustainable tech, we’ve seen some exciting products and strategies take shape. Let's delve into the biggest tech news stories that have turned heads during this period…

  1. Google announced its AI assistant for Google Meet 

Google sent ripples of excitement through the tech community after its Cloud Next conference. The event saw announcements of new AI features for Google Meet, potentially transforming the way we approach meetings.

One standout feature is the real-time note-taking capability powered by Google's Duet AI. With a simple click of "take notes for me," this intelligent tool captures meeting summaries and actions items as the discussion unfolds, ensuring that you'll never miss crucial details

Even if you're late to the meeting, Google Meet has your back with mid-meeting summaries, allowing you to quickly catch up on what you missed. Now, this is something we’re excited to see. 

  1. Gartner predicts worldwide IT spending will total $4.7 trillion in 2023 

In July, Gartner forecasted that global IT expenditure would reach $4.7 trillion in 2023, reflecting a 4.3% rise compared to the previous year. With IT talent becoming increasingly scarce, CIOs are adapting by reallocating their budgets towards technologies that facilitate automation and enhance efficiency. This strategic shift aims to promote scalable growth while requiring fewer personnel in administrative, manual roles, and allowing businesses to recruit talent for strategic, value-adding jobs instead. 

  1. IBM announced its acquisition of hybrid cloud firm Apptio for a staggering $4.6 billion

IBM announced its plan to purchase Apptio, a software firm currently under the ownership of Vista Equity Partners, in a significant deal valued at $4.6 billion. Apptio specialises in delivering software for financial and operational IT management and optimisation, serving a diverse clientele of over 1,500 companies, which includes well-known technology giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.

  1. Apple stock hits record on the cusp of $3 trillion market value

Apple's stock achieved an unprecedented milestone, attaining a historic closing price and drawing closer to a market capitalisation of $3 trillion. The shares of the renowned iPhone manufacturer rose by 0.6%, reaching $189.25, thereby pushing Apple's market valuation to $2.98 trillion, according to data from Refinitiv. This signifies the second consecutive occurrence of record-high closing prices for Apple's shares.

This success reflects the power of brand consistency and customer experience. Apple sells recognisable products which have remained fairly unchanged from one model to the next. Yet, consumers and businesses still buy into it, year in and year out. With interesting in-store experiences, Apple conferences, exciting box opening events and more, the company has got something seriously right from day one. 

  1. Meta launches X (formerly known as Twitter) rival Threads 

Meta's recent launch of Threads marks a significant move in the social media landscape, directly challenging Twitter's stronghold on text-based conversations. Positioned as Instagram's "text-based conversation app," Threads bridges the gap between image-centric platforms and the need for straightforward, real-time communication.

With Mark Zuckerberg, Meta's CEO, at the helm, this strategic move demonstrates Meta's commitment to expanding its influence in the social media sphere and catering to users who have sought alternatives to Twitter's format. 

  1. PSNI data breach identifies thousands of officers and civilian staff 

On August 8th, information regarding the names, locations, and roles of police officers and personnel in Northern Ireland was publicly disclosed on the internet. The data was accidentally disclosed to the public by the police while they were handling a standard freedom of information (FOI) request. At the request of the PSNI and upon their awareness of the situation, the data was taken down after being publicly available for two and a half hours. 

This instance highlights the growing need for vigilance among employees at organisations, with human error still being the biggest cause of breaches. Data security is paramount in today’s day and age, and more emphasis needs to be put on comprehensive employee training, strict security protocols, and continuous monitoring to safeguard sensitive information and prevent costly mistakes from occurring.

  1. Microsoft joins competitors in the security service edge (SSE) arena 

Microsoft entered the highly competitive secure service edge (SSE) landscape by introducing a software suite designed to safeguard Windows, Azure customers, and various cloud-based enterprise assets. This new software is a component of Microsoft's Entra identity and network access suite, featuring two novel components known as Entra Internet Access and Entra Private Access. These components are dedicated to managing and enhancing the security of cloud-based resources. Together with Microsoft's pre-existing cloud-access security broker (CASB), known as Microsoft Defender for Cloud apps, these elements constitute Microsoft's comprehensive SSE offering.

  1. Automotive hacking is on the rise 

The advent of "smartphones on wheels" is introducing a new dimension of cybersecurity risks previously unseen on our roads. As vehicles become increasingly connected and equipped with sophisticated technologies, they also become potential targets for cyberattacks. 

From autonomous cars to modern electric vehicles, these smart machines are more reliant than ever on software and data-driven systems. Consequently, the potential for malicious hackers to compromise vehicle safety, privacy, and functionality has grown significantly. Addressing these emerging cybersecurity challenges is paramount to ensure not only the security of our roads but also the trust and safety of those who rely on these advanced vehicles.

With conversations in the tech sector revolving heavily around generative AI right now, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the industry over the coming month as 2023 draws to a close. 

Ready to leverage these tech advancements for your business? Contact the Vapour team today to discuss your unique IT needs and stay at the forefront of innovation in 2023.

For over 10 years, we’ve been plugging our toolkit with only the most sophisticated solutions the market has to offer. And recently, we were reeling with excitement over the news that two of our trusted partners — Veeam and Microsoft — are partnering to bring unprecedented speed and scale of backup and recovery experiences to customers. But why is the new Microsoft 365 Backup solution currently making headlines, and what benefits will it bring to SMEs across the UK? Let’s explore…

As business continuity strategies come into sharper focus, the tech world has seen rising demand for robust backup solutions. More specifically, customers are becoming increasingly aware of their shared responsibility to own and protect their critical data — a principle that has formed the bedrock of Microsoft’s Software as a Service (SaaS) offering for over a decade. The widespread adoption of Veeam’s Backup for Microsoft 365 solution, which is being used to protect over 15 million users today, is testament to this ongoing shift.

Safeguarding services including Microsoft Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business and Microsoft Teams, the critical data service offers peace of mind against everything from accidental file deletion and insider threats, to legal and compliance requirements, hybrid email deployments, and more. It also boasts the lowest recovery point objectives (RPO) — in other words, the maximum amount of data that can be lost after a disaster occurs — the broadest set of recovery options, and the flexibility to back up Microsoft 365 data to any location.

By integrating the existing solution with the newly-launched Microsoft 365 Backup, via their backup APIs — essentially protocols that allow different software applications to communicate with each other — Veeam is set to offer Microsoft customers new innovations and experiences that will enhance data protection, bolster ransomware recovery, and keep business operations running seamlessly.

“Microsoft has revolutionised the ways organisations communicate. And with every update, its proposition gets even more exciting,” said Tim Mercer, CEO of Vapour. “But let’s not forget that a comprehensive backup isn’t one of the tool’s in-built capabilities. Disasters can strike at any time and paralyse firms, irrespective of their size or the sector they operate in, which is why a third-party backup is an essential part of any business continuity plan.

“Serving over 400,000 companies across the globe with their data backup and recovery solutions, with 4.7/5 star distinction via Gartner Peer Insights, Veeam is the natural choice to bridge this gap for Microsoft. And, as a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (Microsoft CSP) — not to mention a Veeam partner — we’re the safe pair of hands customers need, to help manage their stack and make supplier relationships as headache-free as possible.”

With the integration already underway, general availability of Veeam’s updated offering is expected within 90 days of the Microsoft 365 Backup service being available.

Want to learn more about protecting your cloud and SaaS environments with our  wraparound Microsoft solution? Get in touch today.

As the vanguard of cloud technology solutions, Vapour’s industry-leading toolkit continues to spin tales of seamless integration, security, and scalability in the connectivity world — with the renewals of organisations from finance to design echoing the resounding success of our support. Here are some of the hottest services that made waves throughout our client base in Q2…

Both steadfast partners since 2014, telecommunications service provider Zest4 and leading construction firm Seddons increased their reliance on Vapour’s connectivity solutions this quarter. Tapping into Veeam’s private backup, the resilience of Zest4’s co-location facility further underpins its disaster recovery strategy and business continuity. Meanwhile Seddon’s renewal of WAN bolsters the firm’s TeamsLink-powered unified communications network, enabling streamlined communication for the growing, and increasingly flexible, workforce.

A creative force since 2016, design and printing specialist H. Charlesworth and Co Limited is empowered by Vapour’s primary and backup connectivity circuits — enhancing the reliability, performance, and resiliency of their network infrastructure. With the added reliability and flexibility of voice telephony, the organisation can foster seamless communication, enhance productivity, and deliver exceptional customer experiences too.

In the realm of call centres, UMI’s TeamsLink renewal bolsters the health of its communication ecosystem, enabling seamless collaboration, improving agent productivity, and enhancing customer experiences through features like MIFID II compliant call recording, advanced skills-based call routing, customised Power BI reporting and so much more.

Andrew Wright and Co Limited, an accountancy firm which is now three years into its partnership with Vapour, wholeheartedly entrusted our team with the auto-renewal of its phone channels and telephony service.

In the fast-paced space of retail, where every interaction shapes the customer's perception, a major UK fashion brand recognises the paramount importance of delivering a seamless customer experience. To achieve this, they have harnessed the power of Vapour's secure and scalable co-location infrastructure, providing a robust foundation to house their mission-critical applications, safeguard customer data, optimise their supply chain management, and elevate their online shopping experience to new heights of sophistication.

Keen to learn more about any of the technologies described here? Get in touch with one of our experts today.

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