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Should I Run my Business in the Cloud?

If you are still foggy about Cloud Technology, don’t feel too badly. According to a recent survey of one thousand adults by Wakefield Research over 50% of respondents believe that weather patterns have an impact on Cloud Computing! The reality is most of us are using the cloud whether we know it our not. Cloud Computing is a cost effect way for companies to have access to enterprise class infrastructure they may not be able to otherwise afford. The Cloud can lower capital expense for your business while helping you upgrade your IT Infrastructure. So What is Cloud Computing and How Can Cloud Computing Help my Business? Here are a Few Ways you May Benefit. Software as a Service Software as a Service (SaaS) is a popular cloud based model for getting access to enterprise applications. Instead of having dedicated software running on your company premise you can opt for a cloud based version of your software running across the Internet. In most cases the Cloud option has the same features and performance as the “on premise” counterpart. There are many applications available in the Cloud including Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Sales Force Automation (SFA), Email and even Office Productivity Applications (e.g. Word, Excel, Powerpoint). Cloud Backup Cloud Backup or Remote Backup is another option for your business. Many companies rely on tape backup for their business. Cloud Backup provides an additional option for offsite backup and storage. Your application data, files and other important IT assets are stored across the internet using Cloud Backup. In many cases Cloud Backup Technology can back up as quickly as your local...

Happy Data Privacy Day!

Data Privacy Day may not be a holiday for your IT Support Professional, however, it is an international holiday dedicated to education about Data Privacy. On this day many private, government and academic Data Privacy and IT Security Professionals get together and discuss key issues about Data Privacy. What is Privacy Data and What Does This Mean to Your Business? Privacy Data can include a combination of Name, Address, Birthday and Taxpayer information. It can also include other information you may have related to employee health records, personnel records, customer data, supplier data and more. Keeping this data protected and secure from data leaks and hackers is important. You may face fines, suffer damages, loss of reputation and even loss of revenue if Privacy Data is leaked from your company. What Can You Do on Data Privacy Day to Protect Your Business? It is important to educate your employees about Privacy Data and the Risk of Loss. In today’s world where social networking is acceptable in many workplaces, employees may not realize the risks of sharing Privacy Information. The more your employees are aware of Privacy Data and the Risk of Loss the better. How Can I Protect Privacy Data on My Company Network on Data Privacy Day? It is important to keep you systems in compliance with O/S Patches, as well as, up to date with the latest Anti-virus and Anti-malware definitions. It is also a good idea to monitor your network for unauthorized access. You should also maintain a current backup of all of your privacy data. If you have a data leak you may be required...

New iPad at work? Make sure it is secure.

New iPad at work?  Make sure it is secure. With the holiday season behind us,  as expected, many employees are coming to work with shiny new tablet computers including Android Tablets, Microsoft Windows RT Tablets and the new Apple iPad Mini.   Your company may have a “Bring Your Own Device” mobile device management policy that allows employees to use these devices at work and, in some cases, for work.  Maybe you made that year-end corporate purchase to outfit your staff with the new iPad.  Either way, you need to make sure your corporate network, applications and data stay secure as these mobile devices enter the workplace. Here are a few tips to make sure your mobile device policies are in place, so your employees can use those new iPads securely.   Review your Mobile Device Policy Does your company have a written mobile device policy?  If not, you should put that in place.  The top issues with mobile devices, such as a new iPad, are related to loss or theft.  Because these devices may have access to your corporate applications and data, including email, customer and inventory data, make sure your employees know what is acceptable use for these mobile  devices.  Is it ok to store corporate data on personal devices within your company?  Conversely, can employees store personal data on a corporate owned mobile device?  Either way, have a stated mobile device policy so you can measure compliance with your mobile device policies and procedures.   Proactively Manage Your New iPad You can secure your iPad in case of loss or theft by keeping an audit of the...

Getting More From Your IT in 2013

Getting More From Your IT in 2013 There are plenty of ways to get more from your IT budget in 2013. Mobility, remote support and cloud backup are a few technologies that will make your budget go farther. Let’s explore a few ways you can leverage these emerging trends to get more from your IT infrastructure. Mobility Mobility is a rapidly growing trend. Most analysts agree there will be as many shipments for mobile devices (e.g. smart phones and tablets) as there are for PC desktops, laptops and servers shipped in 2013. With more emphasis on mobility, companies need to address the security issues around lost or stolen devices. Mobile devices may have access to critical business applications or have corporate data resided on the smartphone or tablet. Companies may be subject to data leaks if these mobile assets are lost or stolen. If you have unintended disclosure of privacy information related to employees, customers or suppliers, you may be subject to fines due to breach of industry (e.g. PCI Compliance) or regulatory requirements (e.g. HIPPA). You may also lose goodwill with customers if you suffer a data loss. A data loss could also impact sales. By protecting these mobile devices with a proper mobility strategy, you can avoid the costs associated with a data leak. As they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Remote Support Many companies have turned to remote support models to monitor and manage their network environment. By remotely monitoring and managing your network and related IT assets, your IT Service Provider may be able to fix your IT costs...

2013 IT Trends

2013 IT Trends There are a number of driving factors that will influence 2013 IT trends. These trends include Mobility, Cloud Computing, Disaster Recovery and IT Security. These 2013 IT trends will influence IT budgets and plans, while enabling companies to take advantage of mobile computing, enterprise infrastructure, software as a service (SaaS), social networks and more. Here are some predictions for 2013. Mobility A top  2013 IT Trend is Mobility.  Mobility and mobile device management go hand in hand. Most IT industry analysts agree market growth of smartphones and tablet computers will outpace PCs in 2013. The IT Industry research firm IDC is now projecting that 172.4 million tablets will ship in 2013. Mary Meeker, former internet analyst turned venture capitalist noted 24% of Black Friday shopping occurred on a smartphone or tablet in 2012. Microsoft also hopes to get a large share of the tablet PC market with its recent release of Microsoft Windows 8 RT Tablet. This trend in mobility will drive the greater need for Mobile Device Management and mobile security as more corporate data will reside on and be accessed by mobile devices than ever before. Cloud Computing Another 2013 IT Trend is Cloud Computing.  In 2012 many companies turned to the cloud to access enterprise class infrastructure, remote support, online backup and software as a service (SaaS) for critical applications, such as email, sales force automation (SFA) and customer relationship management (CRM). Expect additional growth in cloud adoption from managed security solutions for anti-virus and anti-malware protection, as well as other data protection services. IT research firm Gartner predicts by 2015 ten percent...

Can Cloud Computing Help your Business?

Can Cloud Computing Help your Business? Cloud computing has rapidly become mainstream technology for large and small businesses.  From online backup to virtual servers to Software as a Service (SaaS) there are many benefits to using cloud computing.  Here are some of the many benefits your business may receive from cloud computing: Capital Expense vs. Operating Expense Cloud computing provides businesses access to enterprise infrastructure, without having to make the upfront investment in data center, network and server infrastructure build-out.  By using available cloud computing resources, businesses can subscribe to these services, instead of using precious working capital for an unnecessary up front investment.  As a result, business owners may avoid making high capital expenses.  Instead, the monthly subscription cost of cloud computing may be treated as an operating expense.  As always, consult your tax professional for your business’s specific issues. Predictable IT Costs Cloud computing subscriptions enable the business owner visibility into predictable costs for IT Services.  For example, online backup costs may be a function of the amount of data stored and bandwidth used each month.  Software as a Service (SaaS) Email or Sales Force Automation (SFA) services may be charged based on number of users each month.  Fixing these costs can be a huge advantage to small businesses. Improved Reliability Public cloud computing options may provide your business better IT Infrastructure than you can afford on your own.  By taking advantage of economies of scale, your company can tap into enterprise class data centers that are monitored, managed and maintained by 7/24/365 support teams.  What’s more, these facilities providing online backup, hosted exchange, SaaS CRM and...

Apple to Begin Shipment of iPad Mini Tablets

Apple to Begin Shipment of iPad Mini Tablets Apple Computer announced their newest tablet computer, the Apple iPad Mini  on November 2nd. Expect the Apple iPad Mini with WiFi with Cellular LTE support to begin shipping sometime this week. The Apple iPad Mini joins a variety of choices in tablet computing including Microsoft Windows RT Tablets, Google Android Tablets and the family of Apple iPads. Tablet computers are one of the fastest growing segments of PCs, so it is no surprise there is a wide range of choices. Here are some things you should consider when purchasing a tablet computer for your business. What is the intended business use of the tablet computer? Tablets are great for taking notes during meetings, one on one sales presentations, collecting data in the field, accessing patient information in the examination room and a variety of other tasks where the user is standing or sitting without a desk. Think twice if you expect your tablet to replace a desktop or laptop computer. For example, laptops are great for working on an airplane or taking work home or on the road. Don’t make your decision for a tablet computer as an “either/or” decision. Consider the business requirements the tablet computer will fill. Do I have a policy for handling corporate data on a tablet computer? One consideration when purchasing tablet computers is that they are more vulnerable to theft and/or loss. You should take precautions to ensure you have the ability to wipe corporate data from the device if it is lost or stolen. How will your business back up data from tablets? Employees...

Upgrading to Windows 8?

Upgrading to Windows 8? Microsoft started shipping their newest version of their flagship product Windows 8. According to Microsoft , over 1,000 new devices have been designed to take advantage of Windows 8. But what about upgrading your existing computers from Windows 7 or even Windows XP. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before you begin upgrading to Windows 8. Did I Backup my PC? Before you install Windows 8 you should verify that you have a recent and reliable backup of your application data and an image of your PC. These backups become vital if you need to reinstall your older operating system for any reason while upgrading to Windows 8. Is My PC Configuration Compatible with Windows 8? Systems requirements for Windows 8 are slightly higher than Windows 7. To upgrade to Windows 8 it is advised that you have a minimum configuration of 1 GHz or faster processor, 1GB (32-bit) or 2GB (64-bit) of RAM, and a DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver.  Keep in mind, these are the minimum requirements for upgrading to Windows 8. Are My Installed Applications Compatible with Windows 8 When a new operating system is released some application developers may be in catch up mode to ensure compatibility with the new O/S. While developers of your favorite software title are busy upgrading to Windows 8 you may experience performance issues and uncover some bugs. It is a good idea to test the software on a separate machine or install Windows 8 on a secondary hard drive for testing before you upgrade all of your...

IT Security Assesment

IT Security Assessment An IT Security Assessment is a great way to take an inventory of what your needs are in IT Security. Whether you must comply with regulatory requirements, including HIPAA and PCI, or are concerned about your IT Security, consider an IT Security Assessment as a starting point to see how your company is protected today. If you perform an IT Security Self Assessment, the Computer Technology Industry Association, CompTIA recommends you ask yourself some of the following questions: Data Types and Storage Do you store Private Health Information (e.g. HR records). If so, how many records? Do you store Personal Financial Information (e.g. SSN, date of birth, account Information, banking information). How many records? Do you store credit card data? How many records? What is the nature of your confidential intellectual property? Where do you do business – state, national, international? Where are backup devices (tapes, drives) stored? In a secured area? Company Information What is your tolerance for downtime (for the most critical applications)? Do you carry breach insurance? Do you carry liability insurance? Have you had a breach in the past three years? If so, what were the consequences? Security Processes Do you have written security policies and procedures? Do you perform internal audits? How often? Do you perform external audits? How often? Do you perform vulnerability checks? How often? Do you regularly review policies and procedures? Do you have an incident response plan? Do you have employees working from home? Do you have encrypted hard drives? Removable media? Do you control and log privileged access? Do you have a mobile device strategy? These...

Beyond Bring Your Own Device

Beyond Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Many businesses have adopted an IT policy of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to save money and provide employees with the flexibility of staying connected when they travel, work from home and spend time in the field.  The BYOD policy allows employees to use personal smart phones and tablets for business purposes. According to research firm Computer Economics, companies can save between $1350 and $3500 annually by adopting a BYOD policy.  In addition, employees can be more productive and have higher job satisfaction with a IT mobility plan. According to research by the Computer Technology Industry Association, CompTIA, security is the primary issue for IT Managers when it comes to mobility.  The number one risk cited is loss or theft of a mobile device.  Seventy percent of those surveyed implement mobile device password locking as part of their data protection plan for mobile devices. However, a four digit password in itself is not enough security, so there are a number of additional precautions companies should take to protect valuable corporate data. Here are a few recommendations you may consider to help mitigate risk from your BYOD policy: Have employees agree to a policy of notifying the company in a timely manner when a device is lost or stolen.  If the company uses technology to “wipe” corporate data from the mobile device ensure employees keep personal data separate or prevent company data from residing on the mobile device all together. Local laws may prevent an employer from wiping or “rooting” a mobile device upon loss, theft or employee termination.  If you do business in foreign countries be aware...
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