IT Cloud Solutions Interview

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IT Cloud Computing Solutions – Interview With Doug Miller

I interviewed Doug Miller with Brightworks Group. Doug provides IT Cloud Computing Solutions to small businesses. The services that his company provides can meet CMMC Level 3 certification.

IT Cloud Computing is the latest in technology. You logon to your computer and access all your programs through the Internet. IT providers are stating that they can solve you money by customing your IT needs. Today I interviewed a Cloud Computing Company. Here what he had to say.

DISCLAIMER: The Nancy Byerly Show does not endorse this company.  This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee, or other group or individual.

Nancy Byerly (00:04):

Hello and welcome to today’s show. I’m so happy you’re joining us. I have a special guest today. His name is Doug Miller. He’s with bright works and they provide digital transformation and cloud it services in a wide range of industries. So Doug, welcome to today’s show

Doug Miller (00:22):

Nancy. Thanks so much for having me on today. I really appreciate it.

Nancy Byerly (00:26):

I’m so happy that you’re here. So tell me this. Why is it such an expensive hassle for so many companies?

Doug Miller (00:35):

It really is it, I mean, you have it, have it dead on. And a lot of it has to do with how things evolve. Number one and number two. It’s I tell people it’s a lot like electricity. I mean, that’s how it ought to work. It ought to be just like walking into a room and flipping a switch and you don’t think about it. Right? But, but none of us run our own electricity plants. We have a public utility.

You Should Not Do IT Yourself

I have companies that provide that stuff to us. We don’t try and do it all ourselves and too many businesses, tiny and mid-sized businesses try and do it themselves. And they really don’t have the resources. And on the other side, they’re reaching out to professionals who might be technically pretty sharp but don’t have any better understanding of business than my less than one-year-old grandson has. There, their recommendations, their suggestions, and their very way of doing things is often a real obstacle to businesses rather than helping a business.

Nancy Byerly (01:47):

That’s a, that’s a great you’re right on the point there, I used to run a small it company and my one of my former lives and I’d worked with attorneys and they’re probably the ones that were the most and untechnically savvy, but yet they weren’t the ones that needed the most protection of all of them. So,

Doug Miller (02:03):

Oh yeah, absolutely. And you know, we find with so many of our customers that you know, we’re, we’re not usually their first it company. They come to us because of the experience they had with somebody else that wasn’t service oriented, the didn’t understand business. And didn’t understand that at the end of the day, they don’t care how firewall works. They don’t care how an application works. They just want it to work and work reliably.

Nancy Byerly (02:37):

That is so, so true. So a lot of my companies are smaller type contract companies. A lot of them that I deal with are mom and pops. They’re, you know, they may have less than 50 employees on, on average. So how can a small company transition to working remotely effectively?

Doug Miller (02:56):

Yeah, I think the first is to understand that you need to get out of the infrastructure owning business. We’re at a point now with it that you don’t have to have that, you know, closet that has your old style phone system, two or three generations of old wiring, a water heater that’s about to break and your server all sitting in one place. Right? I, I can’t tell you the number of small businesses I’ve walked into that, that that’s exactly the picture and that’s their, their idea of how it is delivered.

You No longer need the IT Infrastructure on Site

That’s not how it should be delivered going forward. Over the last several years, we’ve heard, and we’ve talked with a lot of people about moving to the cloud. And of course we’ve gotten a lot of pushback from again, particularly smaller businesses. I’m not sure I trust it. And, and I’m always kind of amazed by that because I mean, here’s somebody that has an infrastructure in a purpose-built data center with all the security around it, a full-time engineering staff, all these other things, and somehow your $3,000 server, that’s now eight years old sitting in a room is somehow more secure and better than that.

Doug Miller (04:28):

It’s not, you have to get past that. Okay. Now I’m not saying go out and just sign up for any cloud service. You have to partner with people who understand what’s in your best interest, but the first step is, is being ready to move past that traditional infrastructure approach.

Nancy Byerly (04:49):

Well, I think a lot of, a lot of times when you look at it, how do you know which who to trust? That’s the, that’s the big issue when you’re really looking at it in today’s days, especially in my government contracting side of the house, where a lot of the contractors have to worry about security and systems and they have to be in compliance and the government regulations tend to be overwhelming in government contracting.

Doug Miller (05:13):

And I, I think that’s the next step, right? Beyond being willing to make the leap is understand that this is number one, a relationship you need to talk to a lot of different providers and talk to their customers and begin to understand who really can you trust, who is delivering the kind of services and who fits with your philosophy and approach, right?

Evaluate Them

Beyond that, you need to evaluate them, do they actually understand compliance? There’s a lot of different kinds of compliance out there. So on the one level, there’s the general understanding of what compliance is. But beyond that, you know, we’ve, we’ve heard incredible things like providers telling people, well, I don’t need to understand about sec compliance. We understand about HIPAA. Those are not the same thing. You, you, you can’t equate those two things, right? You can’t say, Hey, NIST 801 71 is the same as not NIST 801 71, right?

Doug Miller (06:32):

There are different things understanding the compliance that a financial services oriented businesses subject to versus the compliance that a manufacturing company working with DOD subcontractors, those are different things. They have different audit requirements. They have different enforcement bodies, there’s different regulation. So talking to a talk, first of all, talk to your friends, right?

Talk to Your Friends

Talk to other people in your industry, talk to other business owners, who are they working with, get their recommendations. I’m here in the Midwest, I’m in Indianapolis. And one of the things that’s been really great for the development of our business over the last decade is Indianapolis is a relationship town much more so than any place I’ve ever been. People don’t work with people that their friends don’t know, and that’s how you generally make connections. That philosophy, I think extends well beyond Indianapolis in the Midwest, take that time and, and seek out those connections, but definitely learned to see do they understand we’re we work primarily with highly regulated industries?

Doug Miller (07:59):

My background is in financial services and healthcare. The last few years we’ve worked increasingly in the engineering and manufacturing areas, which isn’t another area that I came out of. I used to work for an industrial robotics company that did DOD work.

Experienced in Compliance

And so I, I understand those kinds of different compliance requirements because I’ve had to comply with them. I’ve had to put up with them myself. The other thing that I think is important is to make sure that you understand that whoever your provider is that they too are taking care to operate in a way that is secure and compliant themselves. Too often it providers, they may be good desktop people, but they don’t have a larger experience. And we’ve all just seen what the solar winds attack that even big companies can be subject to pretty serious security problems. So understanding making sure that, that your provider, the people that you’re working with can articulate in writing what they’re doing to protect themselves as well as you is really important.

Nancy Byerly (09:23):

Well, trying to find an it company, that’ll talk the language common language that anybody can understand is almost impossible.

Doug Miller (09:30):

It’s very difficult. And it actually, it’s maybe a little hard to see, but our, our catchphrase from the day that we started the company was human-focused it. And the reason I did that, I I’ve been in this industry literally since the 1970s, I grew up. My very first computer was a Heath kit. My dad and I built on a breadboard, right. We w I grew up with technology and, and I saw what was happening, right. That the divide between it and business and understanding that just grew and grew and grew and grew. And through my experience particularly working for consulting firms, I got very frustrated at the poor quality of service delivery, the spinning of technical terms and the focus on technology, as opposed to the focus on people in business technology exists for one reason. And that’s to help people achieve that.

Nancy Byerly (10:37):

That’s simple. It is that simple, but daddy, they don’t get that. They don’t, you know, I always tried to talk at the most common level that that person that you’re talking to, I’ve always tried to do that because I could sit there and throw acronyms out all day long if I want it to. But that doesn’t mean anything to the person you’re talking to, unless they understand and can comprehend what you’re discussing.

Doug Miller (11:00):

Exactly. It doesn’t help. And it, it doesn’t meet the, what that person is trying to do. Fortunately, I think we’re starting to see again, through the evolution of different software as a service offerings and the maturation of the industry resources that smaller businesses could not lay hands on in the past. They now can, right? It’s, it’s entirely possible to get a completely cloud-based subscription-based accounting system, whether that’s something as simple as QuickBooks online, up through net suite for, you know, more larger companies that really doesn’t require a system administrator right there.

Private vs Public Cloud Data Centers

You don’t need that, that it person there all the time. In fact, our work is increasingly shifted from, you know, how do we tweak the application? Because that’s all in the cloud to do things like helping companies manage their software portfolio as a service application, right? That’s the problem used to be; hey, my ERP doesn’t work. The problem today is we signed up for a bunch of stuff, and nobody knows how many subscriptions we have.

Nancy Byerly (12:30):

That’s true. That’s true. Everything is gone, such a subscription based, which I I’ll be honest. I’m dead set again. It seems like my it budget every year seems to go up and up and up because you got to have all these, everything is a subscription based service. I would love to see somebody put everything into one package deal in Selma.

Doug Miller (12:51):

Well, you should mention that we actually have basically done that. We have an offering called complete cloud. And the intent behind the complete cloud is to do exactly what you’re talking about. How do we really turn this into a utility and bring it all into one easily affordable thing? Complete cloud is designed. It’s actually a private cloud, right? So that’s the first thing.

And a lot of your listeners may not really understand the difference between public cloud and private cloud. So public cloud is a multi-company using a huge infrastructure. That’s used by companies like Amazon or, or Microsoft, where you can go, you can go online, and you can sign up, and your stuff is somewhere. You don’t know where, but it’s somewhere, right. And whatever hardware that you’re using in their cloud is actually shared with other people. And while it can be inexpensive, though, often it isn’t evident.

Doug Miller (14:07):

It turns out that the billing isn’t nearly as inexpensive there as a lot of people think you also run into potentially security issues. You don’t know who else is on the same hardware that you’re on. You run into problems of, of utilization. If somebody happens to really start running something, that’s using up a lot of computer resources, your application could be adversely impacted and that’s public cloud. Private cloud is as simple as we, your company signed up with our complete cloud service. You’re actually running on your own hardware. We put hardware in the data centers that only you use. It’s not shared with anybody else. Okay? You don’t have to buy it. You don’t have to buy a server, but only you are using it, right? Your subscription entitles you to be alone on that hardware. We’re, we’re taking all of your stuff.

Doug Miller (15:09):

And I don’t mean just servers. I mean, your endpoints as well, and we’re virtualizing it, and we’re putting it in the data center in a private cloud environment. We’re then providing all email; all of your Microsoft licensing. We’re giving you security. We’re giving you your phone. So VoIP Telefony we’re giving you email security, email archiving, and essentially everything you need to run it for you for a single per user per month cost. Oh, that’s great. And that cost is cost-competitive and often less expensive than if you were trying to take care of it. You by buying your own equipment and having some vendor worked for you.

Nancy Byerly (16:00):

Yeah. That’s, that’s really great. I’m glad you did you do that. I might have to check that out.

Doug Miller (16:05):

It’s pretty cool stuff. And one of the great things about it, too, particularly for your audience is these data centers that were in there. They’re the sort of data centers where if you show up and you’re not supposed to be there, you’re going to have a bad day. These are [inaudible] compliant data centers. We can run DOD applications in them. So if you’re subject to something like a cybersecurity or cybersecurity maturity model certification, this is literally a turnkey C M M C level three. You don’t have to worry about it anymore. Simply go on to our platform. You’re done. You don’t have to worry about it. We’ll provide all the audit documentation and everything.

Nancy Byerly (16:48):

Do you go up to CMMC level five?

Doug Miller (16:50):

Are certain things about five that we can’t handle quite yet. And generally the customers we’re going after aren’t required to do five because they will typically be subs of primes, things like that. Do I think we’re going to eventually cover five? Yeah, probably, but the demand for it is just not as high yet. And obviously nobody’s having to exactly comply with CMMC yet, but they are having to comply with big chunks of NIST 801 71, you know? So this again is a, a sort of turnkey solution to that. And then of course the other part of it is you can access it from anywhere you need. You’re dealing with the pandemic. All of your people are working from home. No problem. You can securely and compliantly access your infrastructure, your files, everything from your home PC.

Nancy Byerly (17:46):

Well, that’s great. That’s what a lot of people right now, what does a company need to do when they’re considering moving to this new planet,

Doug Miller (17:54):

Again, finding a vendor that has these capabilities vetting them, but also internally understand that there has to be a plan when we are moving a customer from their traditional environment to this new environment, it’s a forklift upgrade, right? We’re, we’re changing everything and we’re doing it over a weekend.

Migration Over The Weekend

Our, our migrations actually happened over a weekend. Now there’s a good long, 60 to sometimes 90-day preparation process. So that’s one thing, right? Coming to us 10 days before you’re due for an audit, not going to work, we’re not going to be able to save ya. You’ve got a plan, understand and be ready, that technology and good to technology. Well, it doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive.

It Can Be Less Expensive than What You Have Now.

And in fact, we, we really get a kick out of helping people reduce their, it spends, it takes an investment. Many companies are used to the idea of spending a lot on a capital expense once every five or eight years and then not really spending a lot on it. Those days are kind of over, not just because of the subscription component but also because things are moving so fast, particularly on the security front. If you’re not doing the things necessary to keep up on the security front, you’re going to be a target. And you’re going to be subject to regrettable things happen, which again, if you’re dealing with government contracting, that’s a real problem.

Nancy Byerly (19:41):

It is a real problem. I mean, I can’t tell you the number of times my information’s been hacked as a former military person. I I’m tired of getting notices that somebody in the VA forgot to took their computer home and had all that data on it. Yeah.

Doug Miller (19:57):

Oh, it’s insane. And, you know, moving to it’s again, one of the reasons for the platforms we’re talking about the, the end devices that our customers are using, literally have no data on them. So if you lose one, you’ll leave it in your car.

No Big Deal if Some Steal it.

Somebody steals it. There’s nothing on there that anybody can get. It’s all been centralized and protected back in the data center. And so we have to start thinking of those kinds of approaches just small investments in things pull this out real quick, but I’ll hold this up the flash drive. That is actually a YubiKey. Okay. What that is, is a factor or multifactor authentication device. Any account that I sign into on my computer requests that I touch this little circle. If I don’t touch that little circle, I can’t sign it. Can’t get into an email. Can’t get into my accounting system.

Doug Miller (21:05):

Can’t get into any of our systems at all. I’ve got to have that plugged in to my computer and be able to touch that little circle. So even if somebody hacks my accounts, they can’t get into my stuff. I have to be able to touch that little circle that costs about $20 investing in multifactor, whether it’s that or on your phone security applications. Don’t rely on texting use of phone authenticator, but I get it. It’s a pain to have to take that extra two seconds step, but it’s a lot less pain than having to deal with the implications of somebody encrypting all of your data or getting in and stealing important information. And I know a lot of small businesses feel like they’re not a target. You are

Nancy Byerly (21:58):

Any, anybody’s a target anymore. It doesn’t matter who you are, large, small, you’re a target. So, so if somebody was interested in contacting you for more information to find out about the services that you provide, where would they reach out to you at?

Doug Miller (22:13):

A couple of ways. We have a website as all companies do Brightworks group.net which provides a lot of information. We also have a very active presence on LinkedIn both for the company and myself.

Linkedin

You can look us up at Brightworks group on LinkedIn or myself, Doug Miller on LinkedIn, always happy to chat with people. We post a lot of content, so, we’ve got a lot of information, a lot of articles. You know, if you’re not ready to have a talk, there’s plenty of stuff that you can look up and read and learn about from what we post online to try and help people out.

Phone

If you’re an of my generation and a little bit older and you like the phone, just give us a call (317) 983-5000. And I, I’m a, I’m a phone guy. I like phones. So don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Nancy Byerly (23:11):

I’m also a phone person that I do do a lot on email, but phone is a lot easier for me. A lot of times, especially when you’re talking different things, it’s easier to explain over the phone than through a lengthy email that’s for sure.

Doug Miller (23:24):

Sure. Absolutely. I’ve, I’ve laughed a lot during the pandemic, right. As everybody’s moved to zoom, and I tell you, two thirds of the zoom meetings I’ve had could have easily been a phone call and there was no real value in the video. Part of it was, you know, just pick up the phone, we have this whole big network we built just use it, right?

Nancy Byerly (23:48):

Yeah. That’s for sure. Well, thanks for being on today, Doug. I’m so happy to find out about your services. I’m served that my listeners will be too. And until next week as always, please be safe.

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