Getting the Most from Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing adoption continues to outpace the growth rate of total IT spending. According to research firm Gartner, the market for public cloud services will continue expanding, with year-over-year revenue growth of 17.3%. Compare this to Gartner Growth expectation of total IT Growth of 1.4% and you can see how the market for Cloud Computing is maturing. Cloud Service Providers offer a wide range of solutions. According to CompTIA Trends in Cloud Computing, Cost reduction is the primary driver for VoIP, cited by 67% of companies with a VoIP implementation. Integration with other applications was cited as the second biggest driver by 36% of VoIP adopters. Here are a few tips to help realize the benefits of savings and integration of popular Cloud Services.   Manage Rogue IT Rogue IT is a term for technology deployed without the aid of a technology advisor. Cloud Computing empowers Line of Business (LOB) owners to rapidly deploy Software as a Service (SaaS) applications and to minimize the involvement of a technology advisor. Financial management, HR management, Call Center and Help Desk services are common SaaS application purchase decisions made by LOB owners. More often than not, LOB owners involve a technology advisor in the purchase decision for final approval and consultation. Cloud integration, security concerns, and the need to centralize technologies are common reasons to include a technology advisor. Without the input from a trusted advisor, the costs of Cloud adoption can increase, and the creation of silos from lack of integration can result. Navigate Cloud Security Concerns Due to the nebulous nature of Cloud Computing, Cloud Security can be a challenge...

3 Technology Trends Driving Business Outcomes

Many businesses turn to technology to find ways to reduce costs and overhead. Technology trends–Software as a Service, Internet of Things, Software Defined Wide Area Networking, marketing automation, and Cloud-based communications and collaboration–are top of mind with business owners who prioritize improving staff productivity and capability, and reaching new customer segments. Here are three technology trends to take advantage of to drive business outcomes. Software as a Service One of the more popular ways to access Cloud Computing is Software as a Service. To start reducing costs and improving employee productivity, first consider your Communications & Collaborations applications(email, chat, instant messaging, voice, audio, web and video conferencing). In addition, applications including marketing automation and call center applications are available as Cloud services to help businesses grow their top line by reaching new customers. Software Defined Wide Area Networking Companies are adopting Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) as an alternative to more expensive wide area networking infrastructure. SD-WAN can optimize performance of multiple providers of business-class Internet to match costly alternatives. This saves money while improving performance between your locations and ensuring consistent access to Cloud Services. Internet of Things Enhancements to the Internet, combined with low-cost sensors, and wireless connectivity allow businesses to connect, monitor and automate a wide range of devices. Smart metering can track consumption of energy, water and gas, provide insights into usage, and remotely control a wide range of equipment and machinery. Not only does IoT save costs, the data collected from these devices can also be used gain insights that improve business outcomes. Many technologies are at our fingertips to help businesses maintain...

The Importance of Maintaining Network Compliance

Last month’s blog provided information about ways to “Avoid Being Held Hostage by Ransomware.” Eight days later, on May 12, 2017, there was a global outbreak of the Wanna Cry Virus. With Cyber Threats on the rise, the importance of maintaining network compliance is top of mind with business owners and IT professionals alike. Industry compliance regulations, including PCI, HIPAA, and SOX, drive best practices in Network Compliance. However, most businesses today rely heavily on their systems to access Cloud Services, Voice, and Data Networks for mission-critical applications that run their business. What can you do to maintain network compliance? Automate Your Network Administration Keeping operating systems and network configurations up to date is a top priority for network compliance. Each device that connects to your network needs to have up-to-date operating system security patches, anti-virus definitions, and malware threat prevention in order avoid un- intended intrusion of your network. There are abundant tools and managed services to help your business stay up to date without adding to your internal labor cost. Proactively Monitor Your Network Monitor your network to identify any systems that are out of compliance. Proactive monitoring can also identify unauthorized devices connected to your network. You can monitor your network traffic to identify unusual use of network bandwidth. Aside from slowing down your systems, excessive bandwidth may be the result of a malware-infected device that is exploiting your network. Documenting Your Network Security Controls Achieving compliance with documented security procedures including password policy, systems maintenance, backup procedures, and compliance measures, is critical to following most industry compliance regulations. It is a  best practice to update...

What’s Your Cloud Budget?

Most companies rely on Cloud Computing for their business. Popular Software as a Service (SaaS) applications including Voice over IP (VoIP), Hosted Email, Sales Force Automation (SFA), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can all be rapidly deployed by a technology Advisor. In fact, a recent survey by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) confirms 80% of companies adopted some sort of Cloud solution for their business. Proper planning allows companies to get the most from their technology investment; so what’s your Cloud Budget? What do Companies Spend on Software as a Service? Leading technology research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) suggests nearly one dollar out of of every six is spent on packaged software; one dollar out of every five dollars is spent on applications that will be consumed via the SaaS model, a popular paradigm for Cloud Computing. This information could be useful in planning your technology budgets to see if your Cloud budget is in line with industry spending trends. Infrastructure as a Service Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), including Cloud Backup, website hosting and other application hosting services, are also available as Cloud Services. Industry research firm Gartner predicts the highest growth will come from Cloud system infrastructure services (IaaS) which is expected to grow by 36.8% in 2017. Companies turn to IaaS as a way to stay nimble and to fix technology spending. The Cloud Service model is utility based, only charging you for what you consume. What’s more, Cloud Computing may be considered an Operating Expense (OPEX) rather than a Capital Expense (CAPEX) because there is minimal upfront investment in equipment and contracting terms...

How to Avoid Being a Ransomware Hostage

Ransomware, spyware, phishing schemes, and other Cyber attacks are commonplace in today’s world of technology. According to a recent article in Forbes, ransomware attacks grew at an accelerated pace in 2016 with reports of 638 million attacks, almost 200 times more than the number of ransomware attacks in 2015. Most experts agree that Ransomware attacks will continue to occur–so what can you do to avoid being a ransomware hostage? Not All Ransomware is Created Equal Before you panic, find out what type of Ransomware you are up against. Scareware is a type of Ransomware that tricks you into thinking you have a bigger problem. A simple scan may quickly remove the pop from your browser cache and get you back on your way. Some ransomware is truly nasty — your entire system may be encrypted, meaning you will need to wipe your system and start over if you have a good backup. Otherwise, you may find yourself hostage to the cybercriminals to unlock your data. An Ounce of Protection is Worth a Pound of Ransom Data protection is an important element in minimizing the impact of Ransomware. Make sure your network security is fully compliant. Backup your data, update your antivirus definitions and make sure your security patches are up to date. Consider using Cloud Backup, Security as a Service, and Managed IT services to keep your network up to date. Having a strong offense to avoid ransomware is your best defense. Don’t Forget the Human Element Train your employees on a regular basis on the importance of staying vigilant against Cyberattacks and how to avoid being a hostage....

Migrating to the Cloud with Confidence

More and more companies are migrating to Cloud Computing to gain competitive advantage and reduce capital expense. According to CompTIA’s 9th annual Security Trends study, companies reported over 80% net usage of Cloud Computing. Over 59% reported moderate or heavy usage. What’s more, the survey found that 68% reported confidence in Cloud providers’ ability to provide a Secure Cloud Environment. An additional 17% responded they were very confident in the security of their Cloud environment. Let’s explore what drives confidence in the Cloud. How to Assess Cloud Provider Security There are many variables to consider when evaluating security of a Cloud Provider. According to the study, many companies evaluate their Cloud provider based on encryption–when moving data to the Cloud, it should be encrypted at rest and in transit. In addition, companies should consider the disaster recovery plans of their Cloud Provider. Some Cloud Providers adopt industry standards including SAS 70 to provide consistent, compliant cloud security. Industry standards are often used to evaluate a Cloud Provider. Identity and access management are also criteria for evaluating a Cloud Provider. Many companies also consider geographical location(s) of the Cloud Provider’s data center.   Consider your Compliance Requirements Many industries have specific requirements regarding handling data. For example, PCI provides guidelines for how companies handle credit card information. Healthcare, Financial Services and Governments (or companies doing business with Government) also have compliance requirements for handling data. Understanding your requirements is key to ensuring you migrate to the Cloud with confidence. Some data may require implementation of a private cloud environment. Also, a Private Cloud has additional security benefits, being a Cloud...
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