How is the market shaping the way technology is consumed, leveraged and delivered? One truth always remains – it’s all about the money baby! No matter the industry, business is always looking for ways to provide products and services better, faster, cheaper.
So what technology platforms are progressive businesses embracing? Virtualization. More specifically – virtualization in the cloud.
Why? Why are 90% of your peers looking to virtualize their servers in the cloud? There are several reasons:
- Conserve Capital – Replace aging servers with a pay-as-you-go cloud delivered virtual machines.
- Resource Constraints – Not every organization has an IT department that can engineer, build and maintain a virtual environment. Look for a cloud provider that has engineers to assist in augmenting your IT staff’s skill set.
- Skill Attrition – Organizations struggle to retain IT talent. Outsourcing virtual services to a cloud provider helps reduce staffing stresses while maintaining high quality services.
- Office Move – Physical moves generally mean downtime. And downtime costs money. Virtualization cloud services can keep your business email, applications, desktops and servers available while you move furniture and re-build your local network.
- Control – Better manage and control the timing of software updates. Virtualization allows you to delay when you have to upgrade your critical legacy applications.
- Scalability – Be sure the server investment you make today will scale to accommodate capacity and storage needs in the future.
- Availability – All businesses need Fortune500-like, 24x7 accessibility to their information. Cloud delivered services are accessible by any Internet connected device.
- Business Continuity – True business continuity means that if your primary facility (physical or virtual) falters, your business does not. Virtualization technologies make this more affordable.
- Speed to Market – When your team has a great product idea and needs a test/dev environment stat - spinning up a VM is the fastest way to keep a project moving. Virtual environments can be provisioned quickly without waiting for physical servers to be purchased and delivered.
- Cost Saving – Virtualization can be cheaper per user, cheaper per GBYTE stored and cheaper per processor. Virtual environments consume less energy and better scale to more end-users per support technician.
So, with so many business drivers to consider, it’s understandable why 9 of 10 businesses are looking at virtualization providers in the cloud to assist with their specific challenge(s). Fandotech is purpose built to serve your virtualization needs. Review our suite of Cloud-Deploy solutions.
Mobile devices – including Smart Phones – have become an invaluable productivity tool for employees on-the-go as well as a huge security risk for the companies they work for! Users are able to compose and check emails on the fly, download and review documents, and even conduct video conferences from anywhere. At the same time companies are exposed to risk as private emails and confidential documents are stored on mobile devices and discussed on commuter trains and in coffee shops.
In a recent study, 30,000 mobile devices are left in New York City cabs each month. That works out to about 1000 a day – and each incident could spell disaster for you and the company you work for.
So how can employees take prudent steps to secure their devices and minimize the company’s exposure?
Below are some simple steps that people can take to protect not only themselves, but the companies they work for.
- Check to make sure you have your device with you before you do anything! Anytime I get out of my car, walk out of my house or office, or do anything I do the three tap. I tap both my side pockets for my phone and keys, and I tap my back pocket for my wallet. If for some reason I am missing any of those items, I retrace my steps until I find them.
- Don’t leave your mobile device laying on a desk or a tabletop. In public places it is too easy for someone to run by and grab it before you notice what is going on.
- Be aware of what’s around you! You wouldn’t advertise your social security number or your ATM pin, so why let people know what you’re doing on your mobile device. Just think of how easy it is to look over a shoulder of someone and read their text, or watch them access their secure banking app.
- Put a password lock on your mobile device. A simple step that stops 99.9% of people from accessing your data when you don’t want them to. For optimal security, remember to change the password on a regular basis.
- Password protect your most important apps. There are applications out there that allow you to password protect any app you want. Think of it as a second layer of to penetrate before they can get to your important data. Things you would definitely want to secure would be Microsoft Office, your email and your text applications.
- Encrypt the SD card. Some phones allow extra storage with the addition of an SD Card. These phones also allow you to encrypt that card for extra security in case someone manages to take it from you.
- Use a tracking application. If you happen to have misplaced the device, these awesome applications can pinpoint them as long as they have an active connection. A large number also allow you to remotely wipe the phone in case you are unable to recover it. Peace of mind when you need it most.
What if you’re one of the 1000 people each month to leave your device behind in an NYC cab? The most important thing to do if you lose your phone or mobile device is to stay calm. Assuming you’ve taken the necessary precautions to enable your device to survive theft and hacks; 1) track the device location, 2) initiate remote locking down or content wipe of the device and 3) alert your company IT department. Often they will be able to help by stopping issues before they start. It also gives them the ability to lock down data before it can be lost or tampered with remotely.
Spending a few minutes now to set up the right security can save you hours of leg work later.
When backing up your virtual, physical or hybrid environment there are a variety of deployment types; agent-based, hypervisor-based, agentless and storage-based. (Download our pros and cons guide to these four types). When it comes to where to store your data however, deployment type does not dictate repository.
You need to pick a storage location based on your business requirements, including compliance mandates and vendor compatability with current product sets. With the cost of bandwidth steadily decreasing while the risk of a local-only storage strategy grows, it's not hard to see why Symantec reported that 93% of IT executives are at least discussing cloud backup services. Below is a high-level list pros and cons for local and cloud storage.
- Access to data. Everyone has some onsite storage presence. Local storage options allow easier access and faster restoration of data.
- Overall faster recovery for full or large datasets. Local LAN speeds and local tape speeds can offer significantly faster restoration for full or large datasets. Ideal for bare metal restore of full image backups.
- Catastrophe takes building out, your backups go with it. If it's your job to manage the company's disaster recovery plan, the potential for this to be a Resume Generating Event (RGE) is significant. Even if you've been taking tape backups home, your job is now dependant on the fidelity of those tapes and the ability to restore them.
- Build as you grow. Means more capital expenses as opposed to operating expense from the cloud side. Say you have 1TB of total data backed up go through an acquisition adding to that 2, 3, 4TB of data... Now you need a backup system to accommodate that change.
- Complex to manage. And complex to extend.
- Data not physically separate from the primary data source. Having your backup solution in your production data center or it's in your production closet creates an obvious issue when a physical event is to blame for an outage.
- Convenient. If you've got connectivity to your cloud provider network, your data is available.
- Highly available data.
- Virtually infinitely scalable. As technology needs expand and contract organizations that build out their own facilities may find themselves with either an over-built or under-built site sooner rather than later. Leveraging a cloud provider allows you to expand and contract services as your business backup needs change.
- Pay as you go. Pay-as-you-go subscription model allows for fixed billing that only changes when you add or remove live systems from the disaster recovery site. This keeps costs constant just like a utility bill avoiding unforeseen spikes or recurring maintenance fees.
- 3rd party maintenance
- Facility management
- Storage infrastructure
- Data center resources
- Easy sharing of data.
- Support for more dataset revisions.
- Slow initial full backup seeding. Say you're doing a backup of a 500GB file server over a WAN to a cloud provider. The speed to completion is going to depend on connection speed.
- Speed dependent on connection to provider. How big a pipe do you have? Perhaps your using a secondary WAN connection for you backups but it's probably not as big as your primary. As your pushing your data from your production facility to your cloud provider you may need your secondary circuit to be larger than your primary to fulfill your backup strategy.
- Increased bandwidth costs. Although the cost of bandwidth continues to drop over time it's still a cost to consider when strategizing how much data you need to store in the cloud.
- Data retrieval. Say you cancel service. How do you get your data? With local storage you take your tapes and if you need to retrieve you reinstall application and go forward. When it comes to cloud storage; Who owns the data? If you cut ties with your cloud provider, do they keep your data indefinitely? Do they delete the data? Be sure to verify the logistics for data retention, data retrieval and cancellation of service before engaging with a cloud provider.
Security is on my mind a lot these days. Fandotech relies on industry experts like Symantec, Cisco Systems, SonicWall, Fortinet and our parent company – Industrial Defender – just to name a few, to make sure we are getting the right solutions to our clients.
Since my days at Cisco Systems where they introduced the SAFE Architecture that outlined the need for defense in layers we have seen that this policy-based discipline applied to IT security is becoming a requirement for every end-point. The industry used to concentrate its security efforts in the large data centers in a defend Fort Knox style of protection. But the fact is that now every Desktop system can get a virus simply by going to a perfectly innocent website and looking up your favorite recipe and, because their security was not good enough, the recipe comes with a sweetener you did not want – a virus.
Symantec has a must-do list of security checks:
- Use IPS (Network Threat Protection). Threats today are web –based. The Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) stops threats before they can infiltrate a machine. IPS stops vulnerability exploits, Drive-by-Downloads and Fake AV installation. Typically provided on a firewall device.
- Optimize any end-point protection settings in use regularly. These settings should be optimized by checking in with the vendors and updating the set points as recommended.
- Keep browser plugins patched. Attacks have moved to the browser. It’s critical that attackers not be able to use Microsoft® Internet Explorer, or Adobe® Reader/Acrobat/Flash vulnerabilities to get on a system. Use each vendor’s auto update or software distribution tools to install patches as soon as they become available.
- Block P2P usage. The simplest method for distributing malware is hidden inside files be shared on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. Create and enforce a no-P2P policy, including home usage of a company machine. Enforce the policy at the gateway and/or desktop.
- Turn off AutoRun. Stop Conficker/Downadup and other network based worms from jumping from USB keys and network drives without changing company polices on Open Shares. Learn more about preventing a virus from using AutoRun.
The threats keep changing and we have to continue to update and adapt. There are strategies that can help better protect your organization. Request a network security assessment. We’ll review your network posture and daily processes to identify areas of vulnerability.
Two weeks ago Fandotech joined in a panel discussion moderated by the CT-GMIS. Fandotech was invited to be part of a network of service providers that will work together to support a state-wide network of end-users.
What is CT-GMIS? The Connecticut Government Management Information Sciences is part of the International GMIS community with the expressed mission,
… to provide an organizational structure and network with associated activities, which may be used by all State, County, and Local government agencies and educational institutions which are members in order to help them in their information and automation endeavors and with associated projects and problems.”
GMIS provides a forum for exchange of ideas, information and techniques that can be leveraged to serve and benefit the many. Formerly the CEN, Connecticut’s initiative is aptly re-named the Nutmeg Network as the former CEN has had significant additions to include more government functions.
Joined by our colleagues and fellow vendors Comcast, AT&T, Fibertech, Total Communications, Atrion, Sertex, ChimeNet and others, we gathered to discuss available technologies and services that could strengthen Connecticut’s state-wide technology backbone.
What is Fandotech’s value-add to the Nutmeg Network?
Fandotech can attach its Data Centers directly to the Network. Once we’re part of the Nutmeg Network, Fandotech can be an intranet resource for backup, disaster recovery and restoration, business continuance and virtualization services. As part of the network Fandotech would serve as a source of information technology capitalization. Across all industries there just isn’t enough budget for all the services we need to acquire and then maintain over time – Connecticut’s Nutmeg Network members are no exception. Our relationship with the SMB market means we are constantly upgrading and maintaining our enterprise-level infrastructure to serve our clients. These services and products can be economically provided to the GMIS community. Network members do not have to manage R&D initiatives and associated costs. When the SMB market upgrades the Nutmeg Network reaps the benefits!
The value-add flows both ways. Since Fandotech services the highest technology denominator – all clients benefit! We operate an enterprise-level service delivery business. We treat our collective business as an enterprise. SMB benefits from our conversation and concerns securing education, police and fire and other government agencies. SMB and Government agencies and departments alike face similar IT challenges.
- Challenge #1 is funding for today’s technology.
- Challenge #2 is funding the required upgrades two… three… four years out!
- Challenge #3 is guessing how many servers or storage you'll need over the next three years without over buying.
Solution? Acquire a service from Fandotech that will scale, grow or contract, as your business demands change and as technology evolves. Fandotech uses the collective economic leverage and momentum of all our clients to identify security, compliance and change management needs. Such mandates push us to consistently and constantly re-invest in infrastructure, people, training, software, research and development – using pooled capital to benefit everyone.
Surfing the web? Knowing what not to click will protect your email, your device and your company!
Surfing the web for information is an integral part of many business processes. But along with this business necessity comes a responsibility to stay away from free downloads and pop-ups that aren't safe.
Fandotech's general rule for protecting computer systems and environments against viruses, malware and tracking software is "if it's free, it's not for me".
These free, readily available downloads and pop-ups include:
- Free System Cleaners and Tuners
- Free Screen Savers
- Free Games
- Free Music Downloads
- Free Coupons
- Free Tool bars
- Free Surveys
Hackers and scammers will often try to entice with promises of 'free stuff,' but these applications exist only to give someone unauthorized access to your computer, your business data, and your personal information.
The first line of defense is to educate your staff and end-users about the potential risks involved with downloading questionalble applications.
That having been said organizations are getting serious about how they approach their security posture with email security, spam prevention and email virus protection solutions such as:
- Antispam protects your inbox by keeping unwanted messages out. By stopping spam before it enters your network, you’ll save on server storage.
- Antivirus protects against email born viruses. Gateway security can stop infected messages long before they become a problem within your environment.
- Encryption is necessary when sending sensitive personal data and/or financial information via email. An easy-to-use encryption solution will ensure your data is safe end-to-end.
Find out more about our suite of security solutions for business.
Find out what's new on the hardware scene and how to determine what processor is right for you.
Aaron chats about the latest in technology releases and what it means for business.
Tablet and Phone News:
- Surface: Microsoft is making its own hardware – “Surface”. Comparable to the Transformer Prime, Surface will come loaded with Windows 8.
- Nexus 7: Google releases Nexus 7. This new tablet will be in direct completion with the Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble’s Nook tablet. Nexus 7 runs on the newest processor, Integra 3 giving users a quad core processor in a 7 inch tablet. It comes in two flavors, 8GB and 16 GB. Aaron recommends the 16 GB since you can’t expand the storage on the device. The screen is high definition rendering quality closer to that of the latest iPad.
- Transformer Infinity: New Transformer is due to release. The Transformer Infinity hits stores end of July/beginning of August.
- Galaxy S3: Great phone if you’re looking to upgrade to an Android smartphone. Its 4.3 inch screen is very bright and has excellent contrast, even in the daytime. Coolest differentiating feature? Near field communication. Currently not in the features list for the next iPhone release, this technology is revolutionizing how we pay for things and Google Wallet is leading the charge. How does it work? Subscribe to Google Wallet. Link Google Wallet to a credit or debit card. The App on your phone leverages near field communication technology enabling your Google Wallet to pay for your purchase by swiping your smartphone at the checkout. Wallet is protected by pin code. If your phone is stolen you can have it completely wiped with one phone call or one secure click.
- Windows 8 is coming! Microsoft looks to roll out a completely united application setting interface from the tablet to the server. The phones will follow August/September. The Windows 8 phone will be equipped with Office. Users will be able to completely edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher etc. documents on their phone. The implications of this feature for business development professionals are huge! With the right hardware, PowerPoint presentations can be outputted from your phone to a conference room screen. No more lugging laptops to meetings.
- New Android operating system, Jelly Bean, coming soon!
June Hardware Highlights:
- AMD announced that they are surrendering to Intel and are no longer in the enthusiast chip market.
- NVidia release the 600 series; 690 is one of the fastest video cards on the market now, the 680 is nice too and the 670 has been much improved from its previous iteration the 570.
- All Bluetooth devices work with all phones – the question is does the Bluetooth work for you? Aaron sports the Jawbone Era and raves about its ability to help him manage incoming calls from both his personal and professional cell.
- Galaxy S3 is out amidst rumblings of the new iPhone but no word on how large it would be. They’re saying the new form factor is going to be larger to compete with the 4.7 inch screen which seems be the emerging standard. Aaron loves his Galaxy Note but admits it’s pretty large for the average user.
- Thinner laptops are still on the rise but you’ll notice that the Ultrabook title is no longer being used in such a broader sense. The term, having recently been patented, is leaving developers grasping for new ways to talk about these slim laptops.
- The Intel Core i7 is currently the fastest processor in the consumer market. The Corei7 Ultrabook-esque laptop is like having desktop power in a quarter-inch think laptop. Aaron takes a nostalgic hardware detour – how amazing is it to come from “luggables” to a laptop so thin you could lose it under a stack of paper!