Himesh Patel is the head of IT for Greater Anglia. He’s been leading the IT organization through operational transformation, including how their data is protected. Patel is responsible for IT operations, including IT infrastructure, network, security applications, and end-user compute.
Patel has a lean team of ten people providing IT services for 3,000+ personnel. The team does everything from managing the IT systems and applications to responding to support calls. There is always an on-call rotation, which means if the person on-call doesn’t have the necessary skill set, there may be a delay in the restores.
Patel is always looking for ways to better use the lean team’s time given its IT estate has grown significantly over the last five years. Patel says, “The best way to relieve my team is to deploy better tools and technology, better manage services, or potentially hire temporary fixed-term contractors."
Greater Anglia is well along in its cloud journey; it relies on cloud services for around 80% of its IT infrastructure. The initial priority was to remove any on-premises file share services and move that type of data to Microsoft 365 and Azure. The organization had to rapidly implement a hybrid work model, so Patel also wanted to eliminate the requirement of using VPNs to the corporate network to access key resources.
But the question of security still loomed large. Patel explained, “If you've got anything on-prem, yes, it's secluded, segregated, you can protect it a lot better. Once it gets into that cloud environment you could have multiple points of failure with a multitude of solutions. We want to ensure our cloud data is always easy and efficient to manage and protect.”
Of course, on top of that, the team also had to keep in mind government regulations from the UK Department for Transport (DfT). In fact, Greater Anglia has an IT security plan that they work on with DfT to ensure that any new technologies meet their regulatory requirements. There are rail-specific regulations that must also be followed such as retaining data for seven years, and of course, retaining long-term contractual data.
Another challenge is that employees still use email as a repository archive and the IT team is often asked to retrieve emails going back several years. Not only is it a challenge for eDiscovery, but Patel worries about data governance. He wondered, “How do we cross-check things that were last used, never been touched or archived through our policies, or documents that have been duplicated?”
The Greater Anglia environment used Veeam with cloud Infrastructure via 11:11 Systems (formerly known as iland) and Veritas to protect their data for Microsoft 365 accounts and their data centers and remote offices, respectively.