Cloud Computing Defined

The demand for Cloud Services continues to climb. Recent forecasts from International Data Corporation (IDC) predict worldwide spending on public Cloud services will grow at a 19.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) – from nearly $70 billion in 2015 to more than $141 billion in 2019. This report cited Software as a Service (SaaS) as the leading consumption model for Cloud Services. In addition, Telecommunications is expected to be the fastest-growing vertical industry with a worldwide CAGR of 22.2% over the forecast period of 2014-2019. To avoid the hype associated with fast-growing technologies, it is important to gain a fundamental understanding of what defines Cloud Computing. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides guidance to help understand Cloud Computing. According to NIST, there are five characteristics for an offering to be considered a Cloud service: Cloud Services are Rapid Elastic A Cloud Service should automatically scale resources as needed. This provides businesses agility by growing as the need for additional capacity arises. This elasticity avoids the need for a business to build in excess capacity for unpredictable workloads, a capacity that may go unused at off-peak times. On-Demand Self-Service In addition to rapid elasticity access, Cloud Services should be simple so any user can quickly provision additional resources when needed. Removing the friction to ordering, provisioning, and configuring Cloud Services when needed empowers the workforce and avoids unnecessary downtime, while improving employee productivity. Broad Network Access Business Class Broadband networks provide affordable access to Cloud Services. Access across the Public Internet allows a common interface for multiple devices including laptops, tablets and smartphones. This provides employees the...

Achieving Network Peace of Mind

By proactively monitoring and managing your Network infrastructure, you can avoid the hassles of downtime due to bottlenecks, security intrusions and more. By having the latest data at your fingertips, you can make the best decisions based on the current status of all the devices connected to your network. Proactively managed devices including desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, routers, switches and firewalls all contribute to the overall health of your network. By monitoring your network for performance and auditing your devices for compliance, you can keep things running smoothly. Moving to Managed Services Managed services offers a fixed-price model to manage your network and IT infrastructure. A managed service provider will proactively audit the assets on your network, monitor performance, and remediate or escalate issues as part of a fixed-price service agreement.  Because the cost of service delivery is fixed versus billable hours, the managed service provider has incentives to keep things running with minimal interruption. A managed service agreement often includes onsite and remote support options in addition to remote monitoring and management. As a result, you have a trusted source to call when problems arise. Is Your Network Worry Free? By having a consolidated asset inventory of your entire network, your managed service provider can isolate issues that cause your network performance to degrade. This helps avoid jitter, packet loss, and data delay for networking infrastructure. Desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets can be checked to ensure they are in compliance and free of malware, viruses and other sources of network intrusion.   Benefits of Managed Services   The managed service model provides a predictable cost to the business...

Are Public Cloud Services Right for Your Business?

Every day more companies realize the cloud offers them brand new ways to solve their business problems. Public Cloud services are available for a wide range of solutions, including Communications and Collaboration, CRM, Contact Center, Email, File Sharing, Network Management, Cloud Storage, and more. What to Expect from Public Cloud Services According to a 2015 Whitepaper on Cloud Definitions by IDC, “Public Cloud services are shared among unrelated enterprises and consumers; open to a largely unrestricted universe of potential users; and designed for a market, not a single enterprise.” Public Cloud Services offer an affordable alternative to Private Cloud Services dedicated to a single company or extended enterprise. According to the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Cloud Services include the following characteristics:   Shared, Standard Services – Build for Multitenancy, among or within the enterprise Solutions Packaged – A “turnkey” offering, pre-integrates required resources Self-service – Provisioning and management typically via a Web portal Elastic, Resource Scaling – Dynamic, rapid and fine-grained Ubiquitous (authorized) Network Access – Typically accessible via the Internet Standard UI Technologies – Browser, RIA clients, underlying technologies Published Service Interface/API – Web services other common internet APIs Considerations for Public vs. Private Cloud Private Cloud Solutions provide a company dedicated resources and additional access to the Cloud Infrastructure. This capability could be important for regulatory compliance or high availability solutions. Private Cloud tradeoff includes Cost versus Control over Public Cloud Services. Data residency may also be a factor in your decision for Public Cloud Services versus Private Cloud Services. With all these variables that will likely change over time, it is important to...

Findings Link Network Security to Human Error

How secure is your network? A recent study by CompTIA links human error as the primary cause of security breaches. In fact, human error is at fault 58 percent of the time, as compared to technology error occurring 42 percent of the time. This survey of over 1500 business and technology executives points to the need to teach staff the importance of Network Security. Common Cybersecurity Threats Today’s businesses rely on a number of Cloud Services to maintain competitive edge, agility and efficiency. These applications run on a variety of devices including tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices. Failure of employees to keep up with threats from social media and mobile malware can impact the security perimeter of your business. The more your employees know of the risks, the more likely they are to follow policies and procedures to help avoid compromise. Network Security Risks Big companies are big targets. Larger organizations may have big databases of customer information that may entice hackers to strike. However, larger organizations may have sophisticated threat detection to identify security breaches so they can respond quickly to a cyber attack. Alternatively, threats at smaller companies may go undetected. While the amount of data may not be as large, hackers may view smaller organizations as easy targets. What’s worse, smaller organizations may be less likely to recover from a privacy breach. Security Training for Your Staff There is a range of topics to address within your company. It is important for your team to understand the range of threats that can compromise your company data. Antivirus, Malware, Phishing and even SMS Phishing (SMISHING) are...

The Internet of Things (IoT) You Should Care About

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term that describes everyday objects that have network connectivity, allowing them to send, receive and act on data. One day, everything that can be connected will be connected. According to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) the number of “things” connected to the Internet will reach 50.1 billion by 2020. As the Internet of Things makes its way into our lives, what do you need to know to take full advantage? Internet of Things (IoT) in the Workplace Devices connecting to the Internet can provide a number of benefits and savings to business.  Smart controllers can regulate heating, cooling, lighting and more. This technology may cut energy costs and save you money. Hospitals can keep better track of pharmaceuticals, avoiding shortages while minimizing inventory. The Internet of Things can even collect data from mobile devices to see if online shoppers make it into your store to check prices or buy. With all of this data being collected and acted upon, it raises a number of issues around security, privacy and connectivity. Internet of Things is Built on the Cloud Windows powered desktops and laptops, while Android and IOS powered tablets and smartphones. It is expected that the Internet of Things will run on the Cloud. Cloud Services will deliver functionality, collect data, and eventually connect machines to other machines to analyze and take action on data collected by Internet of Things. Your business will need robust connectivity and a secure network to take full advantage of the Internet of Things. Securing Internet of Things Articles have already emerged about zombie refrigerators attacking...

Does Your Business Have a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan?

Most businesses need a Backup and Disaster Recovery plan.  Disasters like fire, flood, earthquake, and more can bring your systems to a halt. Systems including order processing, invoicing, emails, call center, and business phone are critical for daily operations. Without a Backup and Disaster Recovery plan, organizations that encounter a disaster run the risk of going out of business. Here are some tips for getting your Backup and Disaster Recovery plan in place. Consider Risk of Downtime Understanding your business risk in the event of a disaster–and related downtime, data loss and other factors–is a good place to start. Factor in loss of productivity from your employees. This can be quantified by calculating employee salaries, wages and overhead for every hour of downtime. You can also calculate loss of revenue if you are unable to process orders, have to disrupt manufacturing, or lose the ability to fulfill customer demand. Also, add in any long-term damage from loss of reputation if you were to suffer a long-term outage. These costs easily add up to impact your company’s bottom line in the case of a disaster recovery scenario. Build  Your Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan Not all data is mission critical. Some systems may be more critical than others to get your company back operationally. Determine which systems are most important to your daily operations. Decide how much risk you are willing to take in terms of hours, days or weeks of downtime. Systems that keep your employees productive and revenue flowing in your business may need to take priority. You may need redundant failover for phones, email and order processing...
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