Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining: Business Benefits of Cloud Computing

Moving to the Cloud is a strategic, business-driven decision. Cloud Computing can offer a range of solutions to help drive business performance. Many businesses are migrating to Cloud Computing already. To ensure you get the most from your investment, you need to be able to determine how cloud solutions can help your business grow revenue, scale, accommodate teleworkers, let you move faster than your competition, and help you make your technology infrastructure costs more predictable.  Read on to gain an understanding of the many business benefits of Cloud Computing. Cloud Computing Saves on Upfront Costs Many popular Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions are available on a subscription basis.  You won’t be paying for hardware, systems software, database or other upfront costs.  In most cases these recurring subscription fees move your capital expense to an operating expense.  However, you will need to plan for customization, migration and integration services to make Cloud Services that are robust and dynamic. Cloud Computing Provides a Faster Time to Market You won’t be waiting on hardware to deliver for your new Cloud Service.  In many cases you can deploy new Cloud Services on demand.  Additionally, your Cloud Service Provider (CSP) is responsible for keeping the systems up to date with the latest updates and upgrades.  SaaS providers can upgrade features and functionality during regularly planned maintenance windows. This keeps your systems up to date with the latest functionality and capability. The Predictable Cost of Cloud Computing Monthly subscription services provide business owners a predictable IT expense.  License policies based on number of users, usage and other predictable factors...

Is Your Network Ready for the Cloud?

Moving to the Cloud requires a fast, reliable network to ensure high availability to Cloud applications and their data. Critical systems including Cloud backup, SaaS, VDI, VoIP and other critical systems need consistent broadband access to ensure employee productivity, compliance and keep customer service levels high. This begs the question, is your network ready for the Cloud? Network Assessment for Cloud Readiness When moving to the Cloud it is important to understand where you may have points of failure on your network before they happen.  Consider starting with a Network Assessment. By simulating peak loads for voice and data on your network, you can identify weaknesses in a controlled environment. By proactively monitoring your network, you can ping to measure packet loss, latency and uptime; also, you can identify bottlenecks for failure, allowing you to fix problems before they happen. Avoiding unnecessary downtime and/or data loss improves employee productivity and helps ensure compliance. Maintain Network Security and Compliance for Consistent Computing Access Malicious attacks, including cyber threats and unauthorized access to your network, will not only expose you to loss of critical data.  They may also degrade your network performance. Unauthorized network use by employees may also consume bandwidth that slows down your network. Unauthorized video streaming and access to unauthorized websites contribute to a slow network. Upgrade or Improve Network Performance There are many options to create an affordable wide area network. Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is an emerging option to create secure, reliable access to your Public or Private Cloud Services. This new technology, which provides centralized management and policy-based enforcement, makes it faster to...

Five Tips on Password Protection

Should you care about how your employees protect their personal passwords?  Depending on your password protection policy in the workplace, your employees may create passwords based on familiar passwords they use for personal use.  Cybercriminals often hack personal websites for privacy information, including username and passwords, so they can gain access to internal systems.  Offering tips to your employees on creating strong passwords may help you protect your valuable corporate data. Passwords are essential for keeping information safe. Since they are a fact of life, we need to know how to keep our systems secure. This takes individual and corporate responsibility. First, individual responsibility. What best practices can individuals establish to keep login credentials safe? Start with a Strong Password Create a strong password, instead of using easy guesses: Though they may be hard to remember, they are also hard for someone else to guess—and hack. Use combinations of capital and lower-case letters; if possible, include numbers and other special characters if your system allows. Numbers can replace letters (3 for “e”, @ for “a”, etc.). Avoid passwords using names of family members, pets, employers or favorite bands. Completely avoid default passwords like “password” or “admin.” Change Your Passwords Frequently Just like you change your smoke alarm batteries, you should change passwords even more frequently. According to a 2014 CompTIA Network+ training blog, change passwords every 30, 60 to 90 days or so. Even if a hacker or malicious site (“malware”) gets the old password, that password cannot be used.  Tagging a number to a previous password or using a similar password isn’t safe enough; the new password needs...

Is Your Network the Weakest Link for Data Protection?

Data protection isn’t just about reliably backing up your application data and files. It is also important to be able to rapidly restore data in the event of data loss. In addition to natural disasters, cyberthreat and human error drive the need for a solid data protection plan and reliable network performance. There are many aspects to keeping your data protected and your Network in compliance. Here is a short list of considerations: Networking and Broadband Connectivity Having a fast, reliable network and broadband connectivity helps you gain access to your online backups for rapid recovery of your application data and files in the event of a data loss. Without a reliable network, your time to recover may go from hours to days. There are many affordable ways to avoid unnecessary downtime, including Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Software Defined Networks (SDN) options for Wide Area Networking (WAN) and connecting to the Cloud. Without reliability your network may be the weakest link in your data protection plan. Network Security and Compliance Keeping your network security up to date is a critical component of your data protection plan.  Making sure all endpoints and servers are protected with Antivirus and Anti Malware threat detection with up-to-date threat definitions will help avoid loss of data due to cyberthreat.  Consider routine monitoring of your network to ensure your network is secure. Not only will this help prevent and detect any security breaches, monitoring your network will keep you in compliance with industry regulations including the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a standard for credit card processing. Employee Awareness of...

Migrating to the Cloud – How to Avoid Turbulence

Migrating to the Cloud can be bumpy if you are not prepared. Chances are you have already started migrating to the Cloud. Without realizing it, you may be accessing the Cloud by using mobile and web based applications and services that store and share your data from the Cloud. According to International Data Corporation, (IDC) public IT Cloud services (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) spending will reach $127 billion in 2018. The Cloud will outpace the total IT market at a rate of more than five times. With this shift, companies are migrating to the Cloud at a rapid pace, so it is important to plan your Cloud migration to avoid any unnecessary turbulence. Low Hanging Fruit for Cloud Migration Many applications lend themselves to Cloud migration. Communications and collaboration applications including Email, Voice and Web conferencing are great places to start your Cloud Migration. The Cloud can offer a secure, reliable and affordable alternative to maintaining these systems on premise. Along with providing additional capability, such as, File Sync and Sharing, previously unavailable from premise based solutions. Many companies have started their Cloud migrations with these subscription services to gain quick benefits from Cloud Computing. Planning Your Cloud Migration Moving your applications and their data to the Cloud, along with reliable data protection and online backup, should be carefully planned. First, determine which applications are candidates for Cloud Computing. When moving files, applications and back ups for data protection to the Cloud, consider your data volumes and network bandwidth. When this business infrastructure is in the Cloud you will need reliable connectivity to access critical information. Maintaining Security in...

New Year’s Resolutions for Your IT Systems

Are your IT Systems on the naughty or nice list? Do you proactively monitor your networks for compliance, cyberthreat and performance? Are your data back ups up to date? Have you begun your migration to the Cloud? Are you getting the most from your broadband network? Have you trained your employees on the risks of cybersecurity attacks and do they change their passwords regularly? Here is a list of things to add to your list of New Year’s resolutions for 2016. Proactive Network Monitoring Your networks should be periodically monitored to ensure application and operating system (O/S) patches are up to date. In addition, you should maintain your anit-virus definitions and keep your malware threat detection up to date. By doing so, you could prevent an unwanted cybersecurity breach and data loss. Worse, loss of reputation resulting from data leaks or loss. Beyond Backup There are a variety of remote back up and data protection solutions to ensure you can recover your systems to keep your business running. It is a good idea to test those backups periodically to ensure you can restore your data quickly. Many older tape backup solutions can be slow and unreliable. What’s more, there are many new file sync and sharing solutions allowing your employees to securely access information anywhere. We put more and more reliance on our applications to run our daily operations, so make sure your data is protected in 2016. Lift Your Business to the Cloud Cloud Solutions offer many advantages over premise based systems. Using subscription based services help ensure you are always on the latest version. What’s more, you...
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