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BUI is an Azure Expert MSP for the 4th year running

The Azure Expert MSP certification is a hallmark of excellence that acknowledges our end-to-end cloud capabilities.

BUI has been recognised as a Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Services Provider (MSP) for the fourth year in a row!

“When we first achieved Azure Expert MSP status in 2020, it was a significant accomplishment for our company and a key milestone in our longstanding relationship with Microsoft,” says Ryan Roseveare, our Global CEO. “Since then, we have diversified our range of cloud solutions to help customers leverage the speed, scale, and security of Azure to enable innovation and sustainable growth in their own businesses.”

“We are thrilled to have renewed our Azure Expert MSP certification for the fourth consecutive year,” continues Roseveare. “As the premier Azure designation for Microsoft partners, this accreditation is an acknowledgement of the depth and breadth of our cloud-management capabilities and our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of customer service.”

The Azure Expert MSP certification is a hallmark of excellence

Microsoft launched the Azure Expert MSP programme in 2018 as a way to showcase the most skilled and capable Azure managed services providers. To participate in the programme, Microsoft partners must pass an independent audit of their people, processes, and technologies – and prove that they can deliver high-fidelity Azure managed services and world-class technical support to customers. BUI was evaluated in September this year.

“We underwent an intensive third-party review of our teams, our Azure methodologies and frameworks, our competencies, our corporate performance, our customer successes, and much more,” explains Dhiren Boodhia, our Group Governance and Compliance Manager. “These annual audits are always in-depth, but this year’s assessment was particularly comprehensive – and we excelled in all areas. We are delivering outstanding work for our customers and this Azure Expert MSP re-certification is a testament to the passion and dedication of everyone here,” says Boodhia.

Willem Malan, our Chief Technology Officer, agrees. “There are more than 400 000 Microsoft partner organisations around the world and only 132 of them are currently certified as Azure Expert MSPs.

Globally, BUI is in the top tier of Microsoft partners with the necessary expertise and experience to design, deploy, manage, secure, and optimise business solutions on Azure,” says Malan. “Whether it’s a straightforward lift-and-shift migration or a complex digital transformation project, we can support customers at every stage of their Azure journey, and beyond.”

Recognition of our end-to-end Microsoft expertise

In addition to our credentials as an Azure Expert MSP and Microsoft Solutions Partner for Microsoft Cloud, we’re proud to be a Microsoft Security Experts MXDR Partner, a member of the prestigious Microsoft Intelligent Security Association, and a three-time Microsoft Country Partner of the Year holding 10 Microsoft Advanced Specializations including Cloud Security, Infra and Database Migration to Microsoft Azure, and Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop.

“We have earned our standing as Azure experts because we’ve invested in our people, our business, and our relationship with Microsoft,” continues Malan. “We’re enabling our cloud teams to develop cutting-edge technical skills. We’re expanding into new markets. And we’re working closely with Microsoft as the cloud landscape changes. We’re doing all of this to ensure that our customers continue to receive the best possible advice and support – and the right Azure solutions for their business needs.”

The BUI Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE) plays an important role in this regard, notes our governance and compliance head. “The Azure administrators, architects, consultants, developers, engineers, and security specialists in our CCoE are Microsoft certified professionals adept in the principles of the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework. We follow Microsoft’s established codes, guidelines, and best practices on every Azure project to make sure that our customers’ connected environments are well-managed and fully optimised for performance, security, and compliance,” says Boodhia.

Re-certification as an Azure Expert MSP validates our exceptional cloud-management capabilities and gives our current and future customers peace of mind, says chief executive Roseveare. “With more than two decades of success in the technology sector, a global footprint, and verified Azure experts specialising in everything from cloud infrastructure to cloud security, BUI is a trusted Microsoft partner equipped to deliver impactful results and real value for business organisations from Day 1, and every day thereafter. We look forward to our continued collaboration with Microsoft, and to helping our mutual customers achieve more with Azure,” Roseveare concludes.

Need a hand managing, optimising and protecting your Azure environment?

From foundational support and monitoring to full-scale management and continuous optimisation, our cloud experts are here to help you achieve more with Azure.

Explore our Azure managed services today.

Three awards for BUI as Microsoft SA honours top partners

We scooped three prestigious accolades at the 2022 Microsoft South Africa Partner Awards.

We’re excited to announce that we won the Azure Infrastructure Partner of the Year Award, the Modern Work Partner of the Year Award, and the Security Partner of the Year Award at the FY22 Microsoft South Africa Partner Awards on 28 September 2022.

The gala dinner and prizegiving ceremony took place at the Marriott Hotel Melrose Arch in Sandton, where members of the local Microsoft Partner ecosystem gathered together, in person, for the first time since 2019. Microsoft SA’s awards evenings in 2020 and 2021 were held virtually as lockdown protocols remained in place at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Celebrating innovation

The Microsoft SA Partner Awards are presented annually to acknowledge the partner organisations that have excelled in delivering Microsoft solutions over the past 12 months. Award submissions are reviewed by a panel of judges and entries are evaluated in terms of partner competencies, cloud transformation, entrepreneurial spirit, and sales performance, among other factors.

This year, Microsoft SA CEO Lillian Barnard praised partners for pushing beyond all limits to modernise, transform, and enable success for enterprises in South Africa and around the world. In her opening speech on the night, Barnard remarked: “Let me start first by just expressing my gratitude on behalf of the Microsoft company for all that you’ve done in our markets, and in our business. The work that you continue to do in our country is just simply inspiring. You are driving digital transformation and innovation, and you are doing this with a deep sense of commitment.”

Driving transformation

BUI was named Azure Infrastructure Partner of the Year for its proven success in helping customers modernise their infrastructure and migrate their applications and data to the cloud. “We’re always thrilled to receive this award,” says Managing Director Ryan Roseveare, highlighting the ninth time that BUI has won this award.

“This accolade is a tremendous achievement in recognition of our team’s focus and positive outcomes. It’s also a validation of our consistency, our high standard of work, and our dedication to our customers. We’re actively driving digital transformation by helping businesses to become more agile and more resilient with Azure’s extensive range of solutions,” adds Roseveare.

Enabling productivity

As the Modern Work Partner of the Year, BUI was acknowledged for enabling performance and productivity with Microsoft’s comprehensive set of cloud-powered tools for the modern workplace. “From Office 365 to Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Viva, we’re empowering customers with the technology they need to communicate and collaborate effectively in remote and hybrid scenarios,” says National Sales Manager Paul Wallett.

“We’re also supporting our customers as they adapt to new ways of working, and making sure that they’re able to leverage the full power of the cloud and the Microsoft resources at their disposal to take their enterprises to the next level,” he continues. “The whole BUI team is invested in creating real value for customers – by delivering cutting-edge business solutions and world-class service.”

Accelerating security

Roseveare is thrilled to take home the Security Partner of the Year award yet again – especially after the recent expansion of BUI’s security portfolio. “In an environment where the right skills are harder to find than ever before, we’re putting more energy and focus into our security solutions and services – because customers are looking for trusted partners to help them protect their digital environments. From our own Cyber SoC and MDR facilities, and as part of Microsoft Security Experts, we’re helping businesses to manage and strengthen their cyber defences,” he says.

“We’ve earned our reputation as a leader in the security space by combining talent and technology,” notes Wallett. “Our security operations division includes some of the most highly skilled and highly certified professionals in the country, and we’re constantly innovating with the Microsoft stack to offer our customers bespoke solutions to accelerate their security.”

With three new Microsoft Partner of the Year awards to celebrate, Wallett and Roseveare are quick to praise the BUI team. “I’m so proud of everyone,” says Wallett. “It’s rewarding to receive these accolades and to be acknowledged in our industry, but none of it would be possible without the dedication shown by our people every day.” Roseveare agrees. “It’s wonderful to see the team’s efforts honoured by Microsoft. We look forward to another year of collective success as we continue to support customers through every stage of the cloud journey,” he concludes.

Improve your cybersecurity posture with an expert partner.

Cybercriminals are targeting enterprises big and small to try to gain access to sensitive, confidential, or proprietary data and resources.

How are you protecting your IT environment? Stay ahead of threat actors by choosing a managed detection and response service from BUI.

Helping enterprises become more agile with Azure

BUI is proud to be recognised as a Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Services Provider (MSP) for the second year in a row.

As the first South African company to achieve this status in 2020, and the only SA-based Microsoft Partner currently holding this prestigious accreditation, we are part of an elite group of cloud specialists trusted to provide world-class managed services to Azure customers.

Launched in 2018, the Microsoft Azure Expert MSP programme is a global initiative to highlight Microsoft Partners with proven expertise in end-to-end cloud management. Approximately 100 organisations have been granted the Azure Expert MSP badge to date. We achieved re-certification after a rigorous independent audit of our people, processes and technologies in July 2021.

“When BUI became an Azure Expert MSP for the first time last year, our teams were acknowledged not only for their superior technical abilities, but also for their commitment to service excellence,” recalls Chief Technology Officer Willem Malan. “Since then, we have focused on expanding our Azure credentials and our portfolio of Advanced Specializations to offer our customers the best possible advice and support throughout their cloud journeys. As we celebrate our Azure Expert MSP renewal, I’m so proud of the team whose focus and passion have helped us retain our place among Microsoft’s top cloud partners,” says Malan.

Committed to excellence

In the past 12 months, BUI has earned Microsoft Advanced Specializations in Adoption and Change ManagementIdentity and Access ManagementMicrosoft Windows Virtual DesktopTeamwork DeploymentThreat Protection, and Windows Server and SQL Server Migration to Microsoft Azure, and been selected to join the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association (MISA).

“We are actively strengthening our alignment with Microsoft, while distinguishing our company in terms of skills, experience, and customer successes,” explains Malan, citing the BUI Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE) as a key enabler in this regard.

“Our Cloud Centre of Excellence is an important business unit – for us, and for the customers we serve,” agrees BUI CCoE Lead Dhiren Boodhia.

“With a dedicated group of cloud experts, including Azure architects, DevOps and cybersecurity specialists, we’re helping customers move to Azure in a secure, fast and consistent manner. With these tried-and-tested frameworks in place, we can deliver scalable, cost-effective solutions for our customers, and ensure they have the expert guidance they need every step of the way,” says Boodhia.

The Azure Expert MSP badge is awarded only to those Microsoft Partners with demonstrated abilities in high-fidelity managed services on Azure.

“The accreditation comes with a lot of prestige, but it’s not a one-and-done accomplishment,” notes Boodhia. “You aren’t given the badge forever: you have to earn it every year. The BUI a2zManaged services team is truly committed to end-to-end cloud lifecycle management, and the Azure Expert MSP badge is our assurance to customers… Yes, we can build, deploy, migrate, optimise and manage your business solutions in the cloud. Yes, you’re in expert hands. And we will help you to harness the full power of Azure,” he concludes.

Johannes Kanis, Cloud and Enterprise Business Group Lead at Microsoft South Africa, comments: “Our partner ecosystem is an integral enabler for customers at every stage of their digital transformation journey. Through its investment in building deep Azure skills, knowledge and competency, BUI is delivering innovative, impactful solutions that enable customers to become more agile and resilient. The Azure Expert MSP re-accreditation is a rigorous process and BUI has continued to demonstrate its commitment to helping customers achieve more with Microsoft cloud technology.”

We’re here for every step of your Azure journey.

From assessment and planning through to deployment, optimisation and management, our Azure experts can help you to achieve more value from your cloud investments.

Make your digital transformation a success with a trusted partner, and thrive in a cloud-first world. Book an Azure Discovery Workshop to explore the platform and its possibilities.

Delivering customised productivity solutions for modern enterprises

We’re proud to announce that we’ve earned the Teamwork Deployment Advanced Specialization from Microsoft in recognition of our premier capabilities in the deployment of Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Yammer workloads for customers.

This is the sixth advanced specialization we’ve achieved since September 2020, after similar accomplishments in Adoption and Change ManagementIdentity and Access ManagementMicrosoft Windows Virtual DesktopThreat Protection, and Windows Server and SQL Server Migration to Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft 365 teamwork solutions play a critical role for enterprises, notes Chief Technology Officer Willem Malan. “With these cloud-powered tools, business teams are able to meet, chat, call, and collaborate online, and they’re able to do it securely – from their offices, factories, warehouses, and dining-room tables – as they adjust to the hybrid and remote-work scenarios we’re seeing today,” he says.

Enabling secure collaboration in the new world of work

Microsoft Teams, in particular, has emerged as a powerhouse platform for business communication and co-operation, observes Malan. “There are about 145 million daily active users on Teams, across locations and time zones around the world. It’s a very comprehensive shared online workspace, and Microsoft continues to introduce new features to help people carry out their daily tasks and stay in touch with their colleagues, clients, and service partners, no matter where they’re based. From one-on-one conversations to group calls and company-wide video conferences, Teams delivers the rich functionality required for seamless collaboration in diverse environments,” he explains.

As enterprise leaders look to the cloud for efficiency and scalability, they must remember the importance of people-centric change, advises Malan. “You have to choose the right tools for your people and their specific needs. You have to make sure that those resources are configured and deployed correctly. And you have to give your teams the training and support they need to adopt and embrace the new technology, as quickly and easily as possible,” he adds.

The Teamwork Deployment Advanced Specialization not only validates our expertise in this area, but also demonstrates our commitment to delivering innovative, customised solutions for the modern workplace.

“We’re excited to help our customers embrace the Microsoft productivity suite. From flexible communication and collaboration with Teams to email and calendaring with Exchange Online and content management with SharePoint Online, our specialists are empowering business organisations to become more productive every day,” concludes Malan.

Give your teams the tools they need to stay secure and productive.

Microsoft Teams is a shared virtual space geared for modern communication and collaboration.

See how one of South Africa’s top digital banks uses Teams to ensure business continuity.

What’s your plan for System Center 2019 EOS?

System Center 2019 – the latest version of Microsoft’s data-centre management and monitoring application – gives you the tools to govern data centres running Windows Server 2019 and enables hybrid management and oversight with Azure.

Released in March two years ago, the System Center 2019 product suite falls under Microsoft’s Fixed Lifecycle Policy. End of Support (EOS) dates for System Center 2019 Data Protection ManagerSystem Center 2019 Operations ManagerSystem Center 2019 OrchestratorSystem Center 2019 Service Manager, and System Center 2019 Virtual Machine Manager are confirmed: Mainstream Support ends on 9 April 2024 and Extended Support ends five years later, on 9 April 2029.

Microsoft has outlined its road map for System Center 2019 and Update Rollups – with features, enhancements, and fixes – are currently being issued a few times a year.

Microsoft has also outlined its cloud-first strategy, and is increasingly investing in Azure to provide system management capabilities for Windows Server and Linux virtual machines and hosts. Inside Microsoft itself, System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) has been dropped in favour of an Azure service: the company uses Azure Monitor to address operations support for its own applications.

With the System Center 2019 EOS dates on the horizon in 2024 and 2029, you may not feel hard-pressed to re-evaluate your on-premises data centre immediately. But as you build out your business systems – to empower your teams for the new world of work and to drive your digital transformation initiatives – it’s important to invest in future-ready technology.

Here are some of the most compelling Azure resources to weigh as alternatives for your System Center 2019 toolkit.

Backup and disaster recovery with Azure

Two Azure services offer similar capabilities to System Center’s Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) and Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM).

Azure Backup can back up your physical machines on-premises, virtual machines in Azure, or virtual machines running on hypervisors on-premises. Storage options include locally redundant, geo-redundant and zone-redundant storage for long-term data recoverability.

Azure Site Recovery enables multiple disaster recovery options for your entire site by replicating groups of virtual machines in these scenarios:

  • Enterprise to Enterprise (between your primary and secondary sites)
  • Enterprise to Azure (from on-premises to Azure virtual machines)
  • Azure to Azure (from Azure VMs in one region to Azure VMs in another region)

With Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery, you can prepare for unplanned outages and be ready to respond and recover as quickly as possible.

Management and monitoring with Azure

The management and monitoring capabilities provided by Azure Automation, Azure Monitor, and Azure Arc-enabled servers are comparable to System Center’s Operations Manager (SCOM), Orchestrator (SCO), and Service Manager (SCSM) software.

Azure Automation allows you to automate, configure, and install updates across hybrid environments. By automating frequent and time-consuming management tasks, you can reduce operational errors and boost efficiency.

Azure Monitor collects and analyses telemetry data from on-premises and Azure environments to help you monitor your infrastructure, applications, and networks. With end-to-end visibility and deeper insights, you can quickly identify and resolve problems.

With Azure Arc-enabled servers, you can extend the Azure resource manager framework to allow for the creation of Azure resources for operating system environments (OSEs) hosted outside of Azure. In this way, on-premises servers can be managed via the Azure portal and other Azure tools.

With Azure AutomationAzure Monitor, and Azure Arc-enabled servers, you can leverage Azure’s scale and power for more comprehensive control and oversight.

Security with Azure

Azure Security Center offers security management, monitoring, and alerting capabilities to Windows and Linux virtual machines, including:

  • Management of Microsoft and third-party endpoint protection software on OSEs
  • Monitoring and notification of potentially malicious activity on OSEs
  • Threat intelligence and OSE misconfiguration warnings based on data gathered by Microsoft
  • Anomaly detection to highlight potential cyberattacks

Azure Defender can be integrated into Azure Security Center to offer additional capabilities. Azure Defender for Servers (applicable to physical servers and VMs) includes:

  • Management of just-in-time VM access to limit inbound traffic to Azure VMs except when requested and required
  • Analysis of network and application usage to help limit unwanted network traffic and application activity
  • System call alerts for Linux servers

With Azure Security Center and Azure Defender, you can manage and secure your Windows and Linux VMs, and improve your overall security posture.

Migrate to modernise

Microsoft will end Mainstream Support for System Center 2019 in less than three years. And in 2029, Extended Support for the suite will cease, too. We expect forthcoming updates and any additional features to focus on improving on-premises capabilities and further integrating System Center with Azure’s range of services.

If you plan to keep using System Center 2019, then be sure to bookmark these online resources to stay up to date with developments and announcements:

And if you want to explore your options for cloud-powered transformation, or data-centre migration to Azure, then book a workshop with us:

We can help you design a migration strategy, create a road map for implementation, and guide you and your teams through a seamless and secure Azure migration process. Get in touch to learn more.

Get maximum value from your Azure investment.

As a Gold Microsoft Partner and Microsoft Azure Expert MSP, we’re able to deliver innovative cloud solutions that work for you.

Take a look at our customer success stories to see how we’ve transformed enterprises in South Africa and around the world.

BUI earns fourth advanced specialization from Microsoft

We’re proud to announce that we’ve earned the Threat Protection Advanced Specialization from Microsoft in recognition of our proven success in deploying Microsoft Threat Protection, Microsoft Cloud App Security, and Azure Sentinel workloads.

The Threat Protection Advanced Specialization is the fourth such Microsoft accreditation that our company has earned in recent months: BUI also holds advanced specializations in Adoption and Change ManagementWindows Virtual Desktop, and Identity and Access Management.

“Security has always been a core focus area for us,” explains Chief Technology Officer Willem Malan. “We strive to give customers the best technology, the most comprehensive guidance, and the most innovative solutions to help them protect their digital estates from evolving threats. The Threat Protection Advanced Specialization is not only an acknowledgement of our premier technical capabilities, but also an indication of our commitment to value-driven service,” he says.

As cyberattacks become more sophisticated and more frequent worldwide, it is imperative for customers to be proactive about security, continues Malan. “To safeguard your business effectively, you need the right expertise and the right resources. BUI specialists are already leveraging next-generation tools for threat detection, investigation, and remediation to provide holistic security services to customers. Beyond that, we are actively expanding our range of Microsoft competencies and pursuing new opportunities to deliver even greater support to businesses that are adapting to remote-work and hybrid-work scenarios in the pandemic era,” he adds.

BUI was the first South African company to achieve Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Services Provider status, and joined the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association (MISA) last year. Top-tier cloud and security skills, as well as collaboration within the wider cybersecurity industry, enable us to better serve our own customers, states Malan.

“Advanced specializations, including our latest one in threat protection, position us to deliver relevant, cutting-edge solutions for complex workplaces. And industry associations, like MISA, provide us with important insights into global security trends. As security advisors and partners, we are making sure that our customers receive unrivalled service and support at every stage of their journey with us,” he says.

Malan describes Azure Sentinel, Microsoft’s cloud-native security information and event management platform, as a crucial part of the modern security stack. “It’s an incredibly powerful tool for continuous, real-time visibility across the IT ecosystem. And it’s a single pane of glass that brings structure and simplicity to security operations. Our customer deployments have been very successful, and the results speak for themselves: reduced risk exposure and faster threat detection and response,” he explains.

SEE HOW WE DO IT | Take a look inside the BUI Cyber SoC

As business organisations search for scalable, cost-effective ways to protect their networks, servers, endpoints, databases, applications, and users from cyberthreats, Malan believes two factors will determine the technology partners they choose: reputation and expertise. “We have a longstanding and award-winning relationship with Microsoft, and customers trust us to deliver the right solutions for their needs. For more than two decades, we’ve helped enterprises to design, deploy, and manage their IT assets securely. We’re excited to continue this tradition as we engage with customers who want to protect and defend their critical systems and data,” he concludes.

Learn how to protect your business from evolving threats.

Register for our 15-minute security webinars this March and get relevant advice and tips from our specialists.

Browse through our webinar topics and register to secure your spot. It’s quick, easy, and free! Just sign up, and show up.

BUI secures Identity and Access Management Advanced Specialization

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve been awarded the Identity and Access Management Advanced Specialization from Microsoft in recognition of our proven expertise and experience in deploying Microsoft Identity workloads with Azure Active Directory.

Microsoft introduced the Identity and Access Management Advanced Specialization in November last year. The accreditation acknowledges Microsoft Partners who have demonstrated premier technical capabilities and the highest standards of service in delivering secure, unified access management solutions for customers.

“Identity and access management is an essential part of an effective security strategy,” explains Willem Malan, our chief technology officer. “As enterprises continue to embrace digital transformation to enable the new world of work, the ability to manage user identities and safeguard access to business assets is more important than ever before. We are committed to helping our customers leverage the full power of the Microsoft cloud to streamline and secure user access,” he says.

Remote productivity remains a key focus area for organisations around the world, especially as coronavirus protocols continue to impact the way work is done. “Enterprises are solidifying and expanding their remote-work strategies to allow not only employees, but also suppliers, vendors, and external collaborators to access corporate assets from home, or indeed wherever they are,” notes Malan. “And that means making sure their identity and access management systems are robust enough to handle the intricacies of the modern workplace,” he adds.

One of the biggest challenges for customers, continues Malan, is giving the right people the right access to the right resources – at the right time, every time. “Enterprises need to be able to control, protect, monitor, and review user access across the board, but that can be difficult without a central control plane. Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory is a richly featured platform that puts identity at the core of access management to reduce the complexity and cost of safeguarding the business environment.”

The Identity and Access Management Advanced Specialization is our newest Microsoft accreditation, and complements our existing Windows Virtual Desktop and Adoption and Change Management capabilities. “We have amplified our abilities to provide even more support to our customers with comprehensive, cloud-powered solutions to make user authentication seamless and secure,” concludes Malan.

Let’s talk about identity and access management solutions for your business.

Whether you’re just getting started on your cloud journey, or looking to modernise your identity management systems, we’re here to help.

Contact us to learn more about using Microsoft Azure Active Directory to achieve your business productivity and security goals.

BUI earns prestigious Microsoft Azure Expert MSP status

It’s official! BUI has been named a Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Services Provider (MSP). We’re extremely proud to be the first South African company to achieve this distinction, which is currently held by only a select group of Microsoft Partners worldwide.

What is an Azure Expert MSP?

The Microsoft Azure Expert MSP programme recognises Microsoft Partners with the proven expertise and capability to deliver the highest quality of managed end-to-end Microsoft Azure cloud services, from initial planning and design through to implementation, operation, and optimisation.

“This is a fantastic achievement for BUI and a win for our customers,” says Managing Director Ryan Roseveare. “This is an acknowledgement of our skills and competencies around Microsoft Azure and benefits our company and our customers. It shows that we are in the top tier of globally recognised Microsoft Partners, and that we are highly successful when it comes to managing modern cloud environments. As more and more South African businesses explore cloud-based solutions, the need for Azure specialists grows. We’re proud to rank among the best, and to support local companies.”

Roseveare’s sentiments are shared by Technical Director Willem Malan: “Now, more than ever, I think customers are looking for the best partners to support them through digital transformation. We have attained Microsoft Azure Expert MSP status and that is certainly a validation of our abilities, but more importantly, it’s an assurance for our customers. It shows that we’re equipped to provide truly world-class service, and to deliver Azure cloud services at scale for enterprises across the board.”

To participate in the Azure Expert MSP programme, Microsoft Partners must meet stringent requirements defined by Microsoft and independently evaluated by third-party auditors.

“The process is rigorous,” explains Malan. “Our teams have been assessed on everything from technical aptitude to customer deliveries, and we’re delighted with the positive feedback received. We’re fortunate to have so many talented, passionate people who are committed to delivering business value for our customers,” he says.

“We congratulate BUI on their Azure Expert MSP recognition and look forward to working alongside them, to help more customers make the move to the cloud as a critical enabler of digital transformation. It is a digital transformation journey that for many has accelerated exponentially, as the need for remote working has increased. Our partners are a cornerstone of the Microsoft ecosystem, now more than ever, as we navigate towards a post COVID-19 business landscape that creates hybrid workplaces that are secure, cost efficient and streamlined,” says Lillian Barnard, Managing Director of Microsoft South Africa.

“We’re honoured to have earned this prestigious accreditation, and we look forward to helping more customers benefit from the security and scalability of Microsoft Azure,” concludes Roseveare.

Securing Your Remote Workforce During Lockdown, And Beyond

Managing cybersecurity for an increased remote workforce requires careful consideration of the people and protocols throughout your business.

South Africa’s nationwide COVID-19 lockdown has made remote work a business necessity. And while you may have supported a handful of work-from-home employees before the pandemic, a rapid transition to a fully remote workforce is likely to test your capabilities. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when you pivot from a traditional, physical hub to a virtual workspace, but there is one critical concern that should guide your actions: cybersecurity.

Effective cybersecurity requires both visibility and control. When your day-to-day business operations are centralised, it’s simpler for IT personnel to safeguard data and resources. They’re able to monitor networks, supervise hardware and software usage, and help govern employee behaviour to insulate your company from cyberthreats. They’re gatekeepers and guardians with defined perimeters, 360-degree views, and the power to manage endpoints and end users alike.

But what happens when your employees have to work remotely from their homes? What happens when they use household wi-fi, personal devices, and public applications to keep in touch with colleagues and complete job-related tasks? And what happens to your corporate security posture when it’s suddenly linked to domestic ecosystems that you cannot see and do not own?

The digital landscape has been changed by COVID-19. The threat landscape has been changed as well. One of the biggest challenges for cybersecurity teams right now is the protection of remote workers (and workloads) in a fluid environment where the risks have been greatly amplified by the current social and economic circumstances. While businesses are grappling with the coronavirus fallout on all fronts, cyberattackers are looking for novel ways to exploit systemic vulnerabilities and individual fears. Security measures that factor in technological and human considerations are more important than ever before. You need to look at your protocols and your people as you adjust your defensive strategy for the continuing lockdown, and the future beyond it. Our remote-work checklist will help you to close the gaps and strengthen cyber hygiene…

#1 | Have you instituted a remote work policy?

Few organisations were equipped to transform their employees into remote workers at the pace required for sustained productivity after South Africa’s lockdown announcement in March. Travel limitations and retail restrictions also made it difficult to purchase new corporate hardware for personnel to use at home. As a result, there are several remote-work scenarios in play: staff using company-owned devices; staff using their own devices; staff using borrowed devices from friends and relatives; or a combination of these.

A comprehensive policy that outlines the terms and conditions of remote access to corporate resources, as well as the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved, can reduce the risk of costly disputes in the event of a security incident. Your business may also have additional legal obligations regarding the handling of personally identifiable information and intellectual property in such circumstances, and you may need to consult an expert for guidance on the applicable local and international laws.

#2 | Have you educated remote workers about device security?

Make sure that your employees understand the importance of system updates, program updates, and software patches as part of a healthy cybersecurity routine – and be prepared to offer additional support to those who do not usually perform these tasks on their own.

You can also put device maintenance and protection under your corporate umbrella with a cloud-based endpoint management platform like Microsoft Intune, which gives you the ability to manage and secure company-owned and employee-owned Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS devices.

#3 | Have you mandated antivirus software for remote machines?

Check that all devices used by remote workers have adequate firewalls and up-to-date antivirus software installed. This is particularly important for the smartphones, tablets, and laptops that employees use personally and professionally.

Windows 10 has Windows Defender Antivirus built in, and if your IT teams are monitoring endpoints with Intune or a similar solution, then you may have additional functionality to improve the cyber safety nets around remote devices.

#4 | Have you enabled secure remote connections?

Your employees’ home office environments may be shared by their spouses, partners, children, roommates, or even tenants. And their home networks may support web-enabled appliances like smart TVs, or IoT automation systems like lighting control, or wearable technology like fitness trackers, in addition to their own portable devices. Every connected item is a potential gateway for cyberattackers.

You can buffer corporate resources against this wider threat landscape by enforcing the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and remote desktop applications. Make sure that remote workers do all they can to safeguard their home wi-fi routers as well, in terms of physical security (making it tamper-proof) and cybersecurity (changing its default password out of the box).

#5 | Have you made MFA compulsory for remote workers?

Implementing multi-factor authentication will help you to maintain control over core system access and protect sensitive business data. The extra steps that remote users have to take to verify their identities are essential security checkpoints for your organisation – and additional obstacles for malicious actors.

Phishing attacks are increasing as cybervillains move to exploit the public demand for coronavirus-related news and information. And you may already know that around 80% of data breaches are linked to compromised, weak, or reused passwords. Enabling MFA can help you to secure every employee login, no matter where the employee is located.

#6 | Have you given remote workers a dedicated IT support team?

You have to account for the fact that technical aptitude differs from person to person, and that remote work in itself may be daunting for employees who are more comfortable in a communal office where the IT department is a few metres away. Make sure remote staff know who to contact for everyday troubleshooting and emergency intervention, so that they don’t have to look for workarounds and quick fixes that could compromise their cybersecurity, and by extension, your company’s as well.

SEE HOW WE DO IT | Step inside the BUI Cyber Security Operations Centre

The COVID-19 pandemic may have pushed you to explore remote productivity earlier than you’d planned – but if you make cybersecurity the guiding principle for your remote workers today, then they’ll be better prepared to face the digital environment of the future.

Secure remote work has been our way of life for many years here at BUI.

We’ve embraced the idea of the modern workplace, and we’ve helped many of our customers to do the same. Neil du Plessis, our cloud solutions security architect, will discuss rapid deployment for remote work in our webinar on 27 May 2020.

He’ll be covering key areas including secure connectivity, secure collaboration, and business productivity options for small and medium-sized enterprises, with a special focus on Microsoft Teams.

Bold Plans, Big Ideas, And The Birth Of BUI

A company milestone in 2020

Managing Director Ryan Roseveare reflects on five key success factors as BUI celebrates 20 years of innovation.

Ryan Roseveare remembers walking through a Sandton shopping mall with a cellphone in his hand and hearing hushed chatter from the people behind him. “Look, that guy’s got one of those new cellphone thingies,” someone had whispered in amazement. It was the dawn of the new millennium. The world was still getting used to novelty items like mobile phones. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn were on the distant horizon. And digital technology was evolving at an unprecedented speed.

In the year 2000, Roseveare and his good friend, Willem Malan, were working at an IT firm that was struggling to adapt after a takeover. “We saw a very dynamic business deteriorate into a complete mess. It became very clear very quickly that the focus was on the stakeholders instead of the people.”

As the corporate carnage continued, Roseveare and Malan weighed their options. “We knew we didn’t want to do mundane IT. And we knew we wanted to put people first. We soon realised that starting our own business was the best thing to do,” he says. And so, BUI was born.

They started small and focused on their strengths, gradually building up a customer base in Johannesburg before taking on projects from around the country. It was a year before they could afford to move the business out of Roseveare’s house and into a corporate space. But the lessons learned in those first 12 months proved invaluable, and Roseveare believes their success comes down to five key factors…

Creating new opportunities

Johannesburg had been BUI’s main hub since inception, but satellite staff had been supporting customers elsewhere, too. With increasing demand in the Mother City, and a desire to broaden the company’s range of solutions, Roseveare approached Living Tech, a leader in managed services. “We were looking to establish a hub in Cape Town, and we were also looking to expand our capabilities,” he explains.

The acquisition of Living Tech ticked both boxes: BUI gained a metropolitan office in the Cape and a new business arm to leverage in service of a growing customer base. Roseveare was determined to make the integration as smooth as possible for Living Tech employees. “For two years, we didn’t change anything. We didn’t even change the coffee!” It was a thoughtful approach that created an opportunity for new faces to become familiar ones, and for teams to learn each other’s rhythms and routines. And it worked. “We have a very close-knit community,” he says.

Collaborating with peers

BUI’s expansion and continued success didn’t go unnoticed. “We had multiple corporates courting us, trying to purchase us, and we turned down a lot of offers,” confesses Roseveare, adding that he and Malan had similar concerns about BUI losing its unique identity. It was a proposal from First Technology Group CEO Arnold Sharp that finally made them reconsider.

“When Arnold came to us, he understood who we were, what we were doing, and how we worked – and he didn’t want to change us. He wanted us to retain our independence, but benefit from belonging to a bigger family,” remembers Roseveare. BUI joined the First Technology Group in 2015. “It was a positive move. It’s given us more strength, more credibility, more reach, and an ally who appreciates our philosophy.”

Being part of the First Technology Group also enabled greater collaboration within the local IT industry. BUI has had a strategic relationship with Ascent Technology since 2017. It’s an accord that Roseveare attributes as much to their shared mission as to their shared status as First Technology relatives. “I think we’re kindred spirits, as far as businesses go. And our agenda is the same: to transform our customers’ IT, modernise them, and make them secure. It makes sense for us to work together to deliver more value to the people we serve.”

Choosing the right partners

Delivering value to customers is one of BUI’s fundamental principles, and technology vendors and partners have always been chosen with this core tenet in mind. “If you’re going to pin your flag to someone else’s mast, then you better choose wisely,” advises Roseveare. “We’ve been selective. We’ve chosen good partners, and good platforms, and we’ve got it right the first time.”

Going all-in with Microsoft was a key decision, and a natural one. “It was a Microsoft world when we started BUI. That worked in our favour, because we knew the market and we had the expertise. But we also saw how technology was changing society. We knew we’d have the chance to innovate alongside one of the most innovative companies in the world,” says Roseveare.

BUI also has longstanding relationships with Cisco and Palo Alto Networks. “For us, end-to-end consulting means having advanced capabilities,” explains Roseveare. “It means knowing which complementary products and services would best suit a customer’s needs. And it means mastering the skills required to develop seamless, integrated solutions.”

Concentrating on people

Aptitude is important, says Roseveare, but attitude is paramount. “We’ve got an eclectic bunch of individuals here, and our offices are open, interactive places. We talk, we share, and we encourage friendly rivalry. But there’s a golden thread in our business: everyone has the same drive, and the same passion to be the best.”

The company culture is something that Roseveare set out to establish from Day 1. Working from the spare room of his Parkhurst home, he had the dual responsibilities of new parent and new business owner. Malan, likewise, was balancing his home life with the demands of entrepreneurship and a commute of more than 100km every day. “He used to spend half his salary on petrol and the other half on food,” chuckles Roseveare. “It took a lot of energy, but we did it. We planned, we prepared, and we executed.”

Their personal experiences informed their team-building techniques over the years. “We’ve built a people-focused business with a specific culture around agility, flexibility, excellence, and positive outcomes – for BUI and for our customers,” explains Roseveare. The results speak for themselves: dozens of elite technical specialists; a trophy cabinet full of industry accolades; and an enviable list of clients in diverse sectors. “We’re just warming up,” he quips.

Calculating for the future

BUI will continue to focus on managed cloud services, cyber security and networking, especially in the local market, where skills shortages remain a challenge for even the largest enterprises. Roseveare is also committed to expanding the company’s footprint internationally.

“We’re putting a lot of focus into growing our customer base in sub-Saharan Africa,” he says, adding that cloud-centric solutions make sense in developing countries where infrastructure and capacity constraints may be obstacles to productivity.

He has similar plans for the BUI base in the United States, but he’s being purposefully methodical about scaling up in a foreign environment. “We’re ambitious about our growth. We do want to become a truly global business. But first, we need to make sure that what we’re doing here can be replicated successfully overseas.”

After 20 years at the helm, Roseveare has every confidence in BUI – and his team. “The people in this company… They’re the ones waking up at dawn to solve problems for customers. They’re putting everything they have, and more, into making BUI a success. Without them, nothing would happen. It’s that simple.”

BUI is an official Microsoft Partner in South Africa, and an award-winning leader in identity and security solutions.