Cloud Based DataVaulting

After the recent Hurricane Sandy, I started to play out the scenario if we would be able to continue “business as usual” in the event of a super storm or major power outage.  I’m happy to say that we would be OK, primarily due to proactive planning, risk assessments, disaster drills and our cloud based back-up.  But not every business is that prepared. Forrester recently reported that nearly 40% of small and mid-sized businesses plan to employ a cloud based backup within the next two years.  While it’s great to hear they are preparing to go to the cloud- what are they using today?

In business today, data is king. Access to records, files, data and reports are the backbone of almost every business.  Over the next decade, the amount of data will be 44 times bigger than it was in just 2009 (IDC 2010 Digital Universe Study). And while we depend more and more on our data, data loss can literally shut you down.  A study by the Ponemon Institute showed that 84% of respondents expressed increased concern or anxiety due to the loss of data. It seems unnecessary for businesses today to worry when a solution is available – Cloud Based DataVaulting.

In Cloud Based DataVaulting, you eliminate the conventional notions of changing out tape that were associated with data vaulting of the past. Cloud Based DataVaulting is designed to offer backup efficiencies unavailable with traditional backup architecture by allowing you to store less data — reducing the amount of backup assets you buy, manage and maintain.  This holistic data management solution encompasses traditional and innovative technologies in a single common platform, protecting everything from laptops to data centers. By utilizing the cloud for your backup, you eliminate the need to install, manage and upgrade multiple point solutions to ensure your data is protected and easy to recover.

Besides peace of mind, the advantages of cloud based data vaulting are plentiful.  It’s completely scalable, so as your backup needs grow, you don’t have to implement new solutions or buy equipment, you’ll find improved reliability and speed of recovery, reduced costs, higher security and encryption, more efficient use of IT resources, stronger compliance safeguards and your data is available- regardless of your location.

Before you make the switch to a cloud based back-up solution, there are some important questions to ask: How often is the data backed up?  Is the data compressed before transmission to help reduce bandwidth expenses? Is the back-up done efficiently?  This efficiency means that you are only continually backing up new and changed documents.

I only hope more companies realize the benefits, especially in a time of a major weather event or disaster, of cloud based solutions.  The 84% who are worrying could breathe a little easier.

@ddbrown

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Email Encryption – Are your sensitive emails at risk?

Email has become the standard method for communication, but how secure are your emails? Is that confidential content secure while it traverses your internal network? While it’s inflight to the intended recipient through the internet and as it reaches their systems?

Whether it is personal information, your latest sales forecasts, or confidential client communications, when it traverses the internet to your recipient it may be at risk of being intercepted. A breach of information caused from one email alone being intercepted with sensitive content could have disastrous implications both financially and legally.

The Datotel cloud based email encryption solution, is an easy to implement policy based platform that can protect you and your organization from this type of risk.

Predefined rules are set up to automatically enforce security and compliance policies based on: sender or recipient identity, email attributes or attachment types, or alphanumeric phrases and formats (such as those commonly found in bank account or social security numbers). The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is automatically applied to all of those emails that fit those defined parameters.

Further to those rules, Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption can also be enforced between any two given organizations – protecting all communications between both parties. Email communications not requiring either AES or TLS encryption are sent and delivered as normal.

Working seamlessly with Microsoft Exchange and the end user Outlook client, this solution is very simple to both get up and running from an administration and end user standpoint.

Delivered cost effectively as a cloud solution, there is no capital upfront investment required and it can be deployed in a short amount of time.

Why take the risk of having your communications compromised?

@ddbrown

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What is Your BYOD Plan?

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is very much a growing topic of conversation and practical reality in many organizations today.

It used to be the sole responsibility of the IT Department to define and issue the standardized technology devices for each employee, be that a laptop, PC or smart phone. But with the increasing consumerization of technology, those same employees now expect to have the same devices and capabilities that they use in their personal lives at work. Employees are now driving the decisions and timeframes for technology – as opposed to waiting on the IT department.

This trend has both positive and negatives for the organization and employees that you should be aware of when considering a move to BYOD.

One of the many sighted benefits to the employer is the shift of expenses and capital outlay from the organization to the employee. The employee tends to purchase a more powerful and capable device than the organization would otherwise have issued them. Furthermore, with the high frequency in new hardware versions being released by the manufacturers, employees tend in general to upgrade more frequently too.

As for benefits to the employee, they now get to use the device of their choice as opposed to the standard issue company laptop and phone, their morale is understandably increased and as a result productivity is positively impacted.  Layer in an employer subsidy for the monthly fees or data plan and the employee sees the additional benefits of utilizing their own device.

However that same flexibility results in an increase in the number of variations of devices to be supported, posing a daunting challenge for the help desk to make sure that not only are the end users kept up and running, but that each device type and configuration isn’t causing a security issue.

Indeed, compliance requirements such as SSAE16, PCI, HIPPA or PPI may exist for the organization that need to be adequately addressed in a BYOD policy. Whether it is through the system architecture, individual platform mechanisms or data protection policies, these standards need to be kept in mind and thought about well ahead of rolling out an initiative such as this.

With corporate data being accessed through a non-company device, the question of ownership and control needs to be addressed. With the loss of control it becomes harder for the organization to dictate what devices can be used for (such as social media, online shopping, etc.) and what rights the organization has to manage that device. Can they remote wipe or disable the device? And in that event what happens to the employee’s personal data? Sound policies addressing those and other security questions need to be developed and agreed upon prior to rolling out a BYOD approach.

Establishing these policies should not be a stuck point in implementing a BYOD environment. There are technical solutions such as desktop virtualization, unified Mobile Device Management (MDM) platforms and other such tools that can be used to ensure that, from a technical standpoint, the impact of a BYOD approach doesn’t introduce anymore security concerns than if the device was owned and managed by the organization.

In any event, whether you decide to formally adopt BYOD or not, you may inadvertently be supporting it already, so it would be worth spending some time considering the ideal approach for your organization.

If expectations are set clearly and the platform developed ahead of time there is no reason a BYOD plan can’t be beneficial and positive for both the employee and organization.

@ddbrown

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It doesn’t have to be that way…

I get the opportunity to visit many organizations and learn about their business models, their particular approach to the market place and gain insights into how they tick. Often, technology is seen as a necessary component to making it all work, but is viewed as a back office function that is demoted to a cost center (and an expensive one at that). The constant need to upgrade hardware, keep team members trained on the latest versions of software and renewing maintenance contracts are a necessary evil to keep it all going. To top it off, technology is often challenged to keep up with the speed of business, can be inflexible and is positioned to be more reactive than proactive.

I’ve found this to be particularly true in the non-profit sector. Now this is a sweeping statement, but from my experience, the typical environment has elements of multiple platforms merged together to meet the organizations overall needs. The average age of the equipment is older than that found in the typical enterprise and, due to budget limitations, purchasing new hardware and carrying out the necessary upgrades is impractical. This all has the unfortunate result of creating higher operational costs to keep it all going and puts the team responsible for IT decisions in a more reactive role than a proactive one.  Throw in challenges and concerns for compliance with regulations from HIPAA to PCI and the overall protection and security of their organizations data.  This IT predicament can impact organizational performance, responsiveness, expenses and ultimately, the organizations ability to deliver on their mission.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Through outsourcing the IT function, or certain routine operational elements and functions such as email, backups and monitoring, the headaches can be removed and the organization can be assured of a stable platform backed by service level agreements —  at an overall lower total cost of ownership.

By outsourcing these types of functions, instead of spending 80 percent of the management time in a firefighting mode, that time can be spend on furthering the mission. Whether that is rolling out tracking and reporting functionality to help donors better understand how their dollars are being spent or moving forward with initiatives like game changing mobile fundraising approaches.

There is a new way to build and manage the infrastructure for these non-profits enterprises that can take IT from a necessary cost center to a transformational advantage.

@ddbrown

Posted in Cloud Computing, General, Managed Services | Tagged , , | Leave a comment
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