Central Networks and Technologies (Central) has recently announced the addition of two new members to its growing team. The recruitment of James Clarke as a technical engineer and James Robertson as a third line support engineer signifies Central's commitment to expanding its workforce and strengthening its capabilities to better serve its clients.

With the arrival of James Clarke, the firm gains a skilled technical engineer who brings a wealth of experience to the table. James started his career as an internal systems administrator and has since honed his expertise at various organisations, including Lima Networks and Frontline Consultancy and Business Services. His background in social housing and his extensive knowledge of cloud computing and virtualisation software Citrix make him an invaluable asset to the engineering team. James will primarily focus on project work, such as upgrading clients' Citrix environments and ensuring increased capacity to meet the growing demands of the industry. 

Also joining Central, James Robertson assumes the role of third line support engineer. With an impressive career spanning several decades, James brings a vast wealth of experience to the team. His previous role as a senior support and network engineer at Working IT Solutions and his speciality expertise as a senior engineer position him as a seasoned professional in the field. James will serve as a senior figure on the service desk, offering his expertise and guidance to the team while mentoring and upskilling other staff members.

"We are thrilled to welcome James Clarke and James Robertson to our team," said Nick Bowling, service desk manager at, Central Networks and Technologies. "Their extensive experience and commitment to excellence align perfectly with our company's goals. With their addition, we can continue to deliver exceptional technology solutions to our clients while further expanding our capabilities.”

Here at Central, people are at the heart of the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of everything we do.

We started out on our IT journey back in 1991, and our mission and ethos haven’t changed. We’re a family-run firm that pride ourselves on our integrity, honesty, and objectivity – and we make IT stress free by keeping it as simple as possible.

But it’s our employees who make this all possible. Get to know them more in our spotlight.

Name: Brad Jackson.

Job title: Service desk engineer.

Department: Service desk.

Sum up your role at Central in one sentence:

Providing remote and on-site technical support to our customers.

What three words would your colleagues use to describe you?

Positive. Friendly. Technical.

And what do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the different technologies that I get exposed to each day at Central.

Check your phone, what was the last emoji you sent?

Crying emoji 😭 (my football team lost 4-0).

Who was or is your biggest inspiration?

My parents — they always worked hard to make sure we had everything we needed.

You’re hosting a three-course dinner party, what’s on the menu?

Black pudding starter, steak and ale pie with thick cut chips and gravy for main, and cheesecake for dessert.

Back to Central, what makes the company stand out?

We have the resources and flexibility to be more agile when reacting to customers' needs, and can provide services that firms might not get at a larger MSP.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself we might not know:

I once unknowingly hiked a trail in Canada’s rocky mountains that had been closed due to attacks by a pack of wolves that had moved into the area.

What would the title of your autobiography be?

Permatired: The Dad Years.

Central’s mission is to ‘put IT at the heart of business’ – tell us more about what this means to you:

It means providing a reliable service to fit our customers’ unique needs, so they can be confident that their IT operations are in good hands.

Here at Central, we have over 30 years’ experience within the tech industry. We’re passionate about IT and doing a great job for our customers, and we pride ourselves on being a trusted partner that organisations know they can rely on – no matter the time of day, or level of support required.

Our mission is to put IT at the heart of business – ensuring only the right strategic solutions are implemented. And this is something we achieve by working with our network of best-in-class partners.

That’s why, in our partner-led blog series, we’re shining a spotlight on the innovative companies we work with – exploring what they do, how they work with Central, and their top tips and advice related to their specialist field.

Next up, it’s Jonathan Burgoyne, senior account director and EMEA team lead at Darktrace

1.  Tell us a bit about your organisation: 

Founded by mathematicians and cyber defence experts in 2013, Darktrace is a global leader in cybersecurity AI, delivering complete AI-powered solutions in its mission to free the world of cyber disruption. ~8,800+ customers of all sizes trust Darktrace’s technology to mitigate risk from the world’s most complex threats — including ransomware, cloud, and Software as a Service (SaaS) attacks.

2. And if you had to sum up your expertise in three words, what would they be?

Self-learning AI.

3. Describe your relationship with Central? 

We support Central and their customers when questions arise such as:

4. And how long have you worked together?

Central and Darktrace have been in partnership for three years (about a third of the time that Darktrace has existed). 

5. What is the cyber AI loop  and why is it important for organisations?

By leveraging self-learning AI that learns ‘you’ and your business ‘on the job’ without human resources to configure a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement and adaptive cybersecurity, organisations can stay ahead of the curve.

6. Share a top tip on how companies can make their cyber security strategy more robust:

People. Process. Technology.

It's not enough to just buy state-of-the-art tools or solutions. You need the right people with the right skills and well-defined processes to make sure these tools actually work and keep your company safe from cyber threats.

Best practice is to team up with vendors who can provide different functions, so there's no redundancy. This way, you're covering more bases and making it harder for attackers. It's like building layers of defence to protect your company's valuable information.

7. Describe what it’s like working with Central in one sentence:

An absolute pleasure. It’s awesome when a partner really ‘gets’ the mission and understands what customers are aiming to achieve, and they place trust in us by leveraging our solutions.

8. What are the biggest cyber security challenges facing businesses over the next 12 months?

Over the next year, organisation will continue to grapple with escalating MFA attacks, persistent 'hacktivism,' growing instances of crypto-jacking, increasingly sophisticated ransomware threats, and an imperative for proactive security measures to safeguard against these evolving cyber risks.

My colleague and Darktrace’s head of threat analysis, Toby Lewis, recently wrote an article that details more of our 2023 cyber security predictions. You can find it here, if you’re interested in reading more.

10.   And how has the cyber threat landscape evolved over the years?

It’s evolved in two key ways:

  1. The ‘good folks’ have more to look after. There are more ‘ways in and out’ now than there was historically, with the proliferation of cloud, SaaS, endpoint and hybrid environments. It means IT and security teams have more to protect with (typically) the same or less resource to do so.
  2. The ‘bad folks’ are getting better at what they do. Increasingly, they’re able to leverage AI and effective techniques at scale to exploit zero day vulnerabilities, social engineering and cause more damage — which can drive higher ROI for malicious activity.

11. Finally, what should organisations’ biggest priority be when investing in cyber security solutions? 

Ensuring your tech stack doesn’t overlap in the approach each solution takes towards cyber security and mitigating risk for your business.

If there’s a bunch of perimeter tools that focus on what perpetrators have done before and what they might do next (rules, signatures, training data-based technologies), then that will absolutely take care of a majority of the risk.

But it does leave a gap for businesses when management asks ”‘okay, but what if something (like ransomware) does get through these defences? How will we know it is happening? How will we respond to contain it, especially since the team can’t work 24/7?”

That’s where it becomes important to have something, like a Darktrace solution, that aims for the same end-goal — minimising cyber risk — from an opposite direction.

If you possess a solution that concentrates on understanding the typical behaviour of legitimate users within your organisation, then any unusual activity that strays from this established norm, regardless of where it occurs within your combination of on-premises and cloud systems, will trigger a system that is simultaneously attentive to both favourable (normal operations for your business) and unfavourable (recognised attack patterns) actions. This layered approach aims to provide a more thorough and comprehensive defence strategy.

If you have any questions about any of the content covered above, please do get in touch. And for more news and updates, be sure to follow Central on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Here at Central, people are at the heart of the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of everything we do.

We started out on our IT journey back in 1991, and our mission and ethos haven’t changed. We’re a family-run firm that pride ourselves on our integrity, honesty, and objectivity – and we make IT stress free by keeping it as simple as possible.

But it’s our people who make this all possible. Get to know them more in our staff spotlight.

Name: Finlay Grady
Job title: Helpdesk support officer
Department: Helpdesk

Sum up your role at Central in one sentence: 

Providing technical support and assistance to our customers over the phone.

What three words would your colleagues use to describe you?

Helpful. Funny. Dedicated.

And what do you enjoy most about your job?

Encountering new challenges that I can, in turn, learn how to fix.

Check your phone, what was the last emoji you sent?

The maple leaf 🍁.

Who was or is your biggest inspiration?

A specific example of an individual doesn’t spring to mind, but I’m always inspired by people who demonstrate determination and resilience, which is something that I often see in my line of work. Troubleshooting isn’t always easy, but it’s always rewarding to get to the crux of an issue and know you’ve played a hand in making something better.

You’re hosting a three-course dinner party, what’s on the menu?

I’m not a talented chef, but if I was, it would most likely be pan-fried halloumi, followed by Filetto Rossini, and sticky toffee pudding to finish.

Back to Central, what makes the company stand out?

Everyone in the team knows how to work hard together without taking themselves too seriously – it keeps things fresh and fun, for both colleagues and clients.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself we might not know:

I have no cartilage in my nose!

What would the title of your autobiography be?

I don’t think my autobiography would be a very interesting read – I’d probably title it 'boring” so everyone knows what they’re getting into from the start. Managing expectations!

Central’s mission is to ‘place IT at the heart of business’ and act as a ‘trusted technology partner’ for customers – tell us more about what this means to you:

Helping people truly understand the systems they have in place and become confident in using them, as well as staying ahead of the curve with the latest advancements in IT — whether that’s more effective pieces of kit, new ways to manage budgets, or anything in between — so we can remain knowledgeable and dependable for customers.

If you’d like to receive more news and updates from the Central team, why not head over to our Twitter page or connect with us on LinkedIn?

A robust and comprehensive cloud platform, Microsoft Azure has emerged as a leading choice for some of the globe’s most ambitious organisations. But with many firms lacking the expertise or internal resources to manage it, the infrastructure risks rapidly becoming a burden to already-stretched IT budgets. So, how can SMEs navigate this growing challenge?

Mike Dunleavy, client director at Central Networks, shares some actionable insights to prevent cloud costs from spiralling out of control — helping you optimise your tech estate and maximise the value of your investment — as well as guidance on the role a trusted managed service provider (MSP) can play in eliminating the headache…

Naturally, as usage and demand of Microsoft Azure increases, particularly as the solution matures, companies have seen their cloud estates evolve significantly. This is, for the most part, a good thing — offering great scope for scaling as requirements change, increased data security and compliance in a time where cyber attacks are at their pique, and reliable disaster recovery protocols to help keep applications running, amongst other advantages.

The challenge comes when organisations overlook resource ‘rightsizing’, and over-provision their teams with technology that’s no longer fit for purpose, unused, or completely idle — incurring unnecessary costs that could be deployed elsewhere, through complete lack of visibility and monitoring. Additionally, the absence of a well-defined cost optimisation strategy and lack of employee awareness can also contribute to unchecked spending.

Here’s a jargon-free run-down of the ways you can tackle the challenge:

Embrace Azure cost management and billing tools

To gain better visibility and control over your cloud spending, take advantage of the robust cost management and billing tools provided by Microsoft Azure. These tools offer features like cost tracking, budget alerts, and recommendations for optimising resource usage. By monitoring your spending and setting budget thresholds, you can proactively identify any potential spikes and take necessary actions to keep your expenses in check.

Leverage resource sizing and scaling

One of the key advantages of cloud computing is the ability to scale resources up or down based on demand. Properly sizing your Azure resources ensures you are only paying for what you need. Regularly analyse your resource utilisation patterns and adjust the sizing accordingly. Utilise features like Azure Auto Scaling to intuitively adjust resource capacity based on predefined conditions, ensuring optimal performance while minimising costs during periods of low demand.

Implement cost-effective storage strategies

Storage costs can quickly accumulate if not managed efficiently. That’s why assessing your requirements and classifying data based on its access frequency is key. Utilise Azure's storage tiers — such as hot, cool, and archive — to store information cost-effectively, while ensuring it remains accessible when needed. Implementing a data lifecycle management policy also enables you to automatically transition between storage tiers based on defined rules — optimising costs by keeping frequently accessed data in high-performance storage, and moving less frequently accessed information to lower-cost options.

Utilise Azure Reserved Instances 

If you have long-term resource requirements, Azure Reserved Instances (RIs) can help you save significantly on compute costs. This is because they provide discounted pricing for virtual machines and databases when you commit to a specific term. By strategically planning your resource needs and leveraging RIs, you can unlock substantial savings compared to pay-as-you-go pricing. And in today’s uncertain economic climate, where keeping a laser-sharp focus on costs is crucial, every penny truly counts. 

Continuous monitoring and optimisation 

Cost optimisation isn’t a one-time solution. Instead, it requires regular monitoring of Azure resource usage, performance metrics, and cost patterns to identify areas for improvement. Leverage Azure Advisor's recommendations and other cost optimisation tools to implement best practices and eliminate wasteful spending. Engage with your development and operations teams to foster a culture of ultimate cost awareness and accountability — encouraging them to make budget-conscious decisions when provisioning and managing resources in the cloud.

Lean on outsourced IT specialists for support

The complexity of the cloud can make cost optimisation feel like a time-intensive and headache-inducing process — particularly for enterprises without a designated IT division internally. Specialised MSPs can prove to be an invaluable extension of your team here.

Bringing rich expertise and industry experience, outsourced technical partners can assess your cloud infrastructure and identify areas where cost-saving measures can be implemented, without compromising service delivery. This includes rightsizing virtual machines, scaling resources based on demand, and leveraging RIs for long-term savings. By implementing cost management tools to monitor and track usage patterns, identify cost anomalies, and provide actionable insights for optimisation, they can also implement tagging strategies to allocate costs accurately and enable department-level visibility.

Taking a proactive and holistic approach to managing your future cloud costs in Azure, MSPs can also regularly review and optimise subscriptions, eliminate unused resources, and adjust configurations to align with evolving business needs. It’s all about striking the right balance between performance and cost efficiency in your Azure cloud deployments.

Of course, these services come at a cost, but the benefits of investing in a trusted specialist truly outweigh the ramifications of hiking tech stack costs that often fly under the radar.

Keen to continue the conversation? Get in touch, to see how Central can help your organisation manage spiralling cloud costs and get maximum ROI from Microsoft Azure. 

With over 30 years’ experience in sectors spanning social housing and charity, to manufacturing and education, you’re in safe hands with us.


Central Networks are a strategic technology partner. Excellent technology is a given, customer service, trust and long-term relationships are what drive our business. We support CEOs, Heads of IT, IT technicians and transformation directors to ensure technology provides an edge to their organisations.

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