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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...

Internet Browser Security Tips

Internet Browser Security Tips Left unprotected, Internet browsers including: Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari are increasingly vulnerable to software attacks and may be a place where malicious software, aka Malware can infiltrate your PC and ultimately breach your network security. There are many things you can do to proactively protect your PC and ultimately protect your data. Here are some tips for avoiding malware and other vulnerabilities from your internet browser. Keep Your Internet Browser Current Software publishers routinely release new versions of their internet browsers. Many times these new versions include security patches and updates designed to protect you from attack. While these publishers put their best foot forward into the newest version of their internet browser, they may retire older versions. When they retire these old browsers, they may no longer provide security updates and support. By consulting your IT support professional you can protect your company assets and also receive better performance with enhanced Internet experience. Keep Your Internet Browser Updated Software companies publish security patches to keep current and prior versions of their Internet browsers safe from known security vulnerabilities and attacks. By applying these updates as they become available, you minimize your risk of attack. As a policy, you should keep your operating systems and other applications current with security patches to ensure network compliance and avoid unnecessary and unintended interruptions or data loss. Review and Configure Your Internet Security Options Most Internet browsers provide options to configure Internet security and Internet privacy settings. The highest levels of security may limit the number of sites you can visit. Lower...

Maintaining Network Security

Maintaining Network Security: For many companies, network security is necessary to achieve compliance for PCI, HIPPA and other regulatory requirements. Keeping your computer and wireless network secure is a good policy to protect your company’s critical data. Without proper network security, your network may be vulnerable to computer virus and malware attacks and unauthorized access by computer hackers. Here are five tips to help you maintain network security. Audit Network Regularly Performing a periodic network scan may identify unauthorized computers and other devices that may have connected to your network directly or via wireless access. Your properly configured network, firewall, routers and wireless access points will prevent unauthorized intruders, however, regular audits ensure compliance to your network security policies. Keep O/S Patches Up To Date Your network is as secure as its’ weakest link. Make sure all PCs are up to date with Operating System O/S security patches. This helps prevent computer viruses and malware from exploiting your operating system and entering your network. Keep Antivirus and Malware Definitions Current In addition to your O/S patches, confirm that your Antivirus and Malware definitions are up to date. This further protects your PC from exploits and helps maintain the security of your network. Establish Policy for Mobile and Wireless Devices Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a trend providing employees the benefits of using their mobile devices at home and in the workplace. Employers are relieved from the burden of having to purchase additional mobile devices, such as tablets and PCs. It is important to ensure these devices maintain the same security standards of company owned desktop and laptop computers....

Considering the Cloud For Backup

Considering the Cloud for Backup? Many small to medium business (SMB) owners are turning to online backup or remote backup, generally referred to as cloud backup, as a top way to take advantage of cloud computing. According to a recent survey by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), most companies turn to the cloud to cut costs and reduce capital expense. Because of the advancements in internet bandwidth, combined with the economies of scale from the cloud, remote backup can be a reliable, affordable and practical solution for most SMBs. When you evaluate cloud backup, here are a some things to consider: Security and Compliance There are public cloud and private cloud options available to meet your security and compliance requirements. If you need to comply with PCI, HIPPA or other regulatory requirements you may need to rely on a private cloud solution. This means your data is physically separated from other companies storing their data in public cloud alternatives. If you require a private cloud solution expect to pay more. Cost This leads to us to the topic of cost of cloud backup. There are a wide range of affordable options for cloud backup. Most cloud backup solutions charge by the amount of data stored. This makes them easy to compare. Office documents and spreadsheets are easy to compress and take up less space, as compared to, images, photos and data bases. Depending on the amount of data you are backing up in the cloud, you may incur additional charges for bandwidth. You may also need to consider the costs of a network upgrade and additional internet connectivity,...
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