You trust your IT department. They implement new technology for you, they fix things when they break, and they advise you on what tech you need as you expand your business. But there are many IT support services that a typical internal IT department isn't set up to do on their own, or doesn't always do well—and these services matter. Here are four must-have IT services that are best left to a specialized contractor:
Virtualization refers to the use of "virtual machines," which is when a single server is configured to run as if it were several smaller servers. That allows it to smoothly and efficiently dedicate its processing power and memory to a variety of separate tasks or programs. In effect, it acts as several independent machines at once. This is one of the most basic IT support services, as it saves money over purchasing separate servers for each system, and eliminates the security concerns and slowdown that come with dividing a normal server's attention.
Business continuance is also known as disaster recovery. The objective with business continuance is to prepare secure, redundant backups not only of data, but of whole systems so that your operation can recover rapidly if you suffer damage to key servers, data loss, or a large-scale disaster such as a fire or hurricane. In some industries, business continuance is a must in order to meet regulations and security standards. But in every industry, regardless of regulations, it's a smart investment.
Data Lifecycle Management
This process is also known as data storage architecture, referring to the design and usage of the systems that store your business's data. Businesses today use vast amounts of data and must securely and carefully back everything up. This can mean huge costs for data storage, as well as the perennial problem of needing to acquire more and more machines for the purpose. Data lifecycle management involves making the best use of your existing storage space and designing new storage intelligently, so that you get the longest possible lifespan out of your investment.
Information security is essential in every industry today, but many companies are woefully behind the times. There are several elements to information security:
- Protection against external threats – Hackers and viruses are what keep many CEOs awake at night. There is a shadow industry devoted to hacking corporate data in search of trade secrets and sensitive information. Keeping your systems secure is a must.
- Protection against data loss – System failure and human error can cause loss of data. A smart backup system with easy, fast recovery options eliminates the risk.
- Policies for how data is handled internally – Hackers are not to blame for the majority of data breaches—carelessness is. Professional IT support services can review your information policies and implement new procedures to make sure that the staff treats data with the care it deserves.
Have you ever turned to an outside IT provider? What did they do for you?
When someone steals your credit card information, you can quickly have the card closed, so you're not exposed for too long on the Black Market. If you have your Social Security number stolen, that's a whole different nightmare. In a story featured on NBC News this spring, a Ponemon Institute study has shown just how badly security breaches have affected the healthcare industry. Medical records are becoming a hot commodity in the Black Market, and criminal hacking attacks have gone up 100% since 2010. However, there are many reasons for why so many breaches have occurred. Here are several of the biggest culprits:
· Employee Negligence: It's not that healthcare employees are not doing it on purpose, but the healthcare industry lends itself to pressure and priorities. An employee is more apt to worry about the care and status of a patient rather than the security of that patient's information. However, one single lost laptop with unencrypted data could result in a serious data breach.
· A Number of Different Parties: In the study, the Ponemon Institute estimates that as many as ten different entities could have access to your information from a single hospital visit. If there is a hiccup on any level, there could be a breach. This could be from the ambulance center that initially received your call, the medical center itself, the doctor's practice if he or she is out of network, a medical facility's third-party vendor, or your health insurance company, just to name a few.
· Unsecured Devices: The fact that a good majority of healthcare professionals use their own personal devices has one Hospital Chief Information Security Officer very scared. As quoted in a McKinsey Report called Risk and Responsibility in Hyperconnected World: "Most devices have no security applications on them at all. Anyone can just get in and manipulate whatever they want." Nearly 88% of medical facilities allow their staff to use their own devices, but only 38% take any measures to make sure their secured.
There's no question that the digitalization of medical records has enabled quicker, more efficient care. However, the benefits of digitalization are only fully realized when that information is protected by superior network security solutions. As a managed services, VDI, DR and Vendor Neutral Archiving Solutions provider, we have helped countless medical organizations provide better care and become more efficient without sacrificing on security. Contact us today to learn more how we can help you prevent a data breach and remain compliant.
Could your business survive an outage where you lost access to critical applications and data? Many cannot, but very few businesses pay close attention to how they can better prepare themselves for an outage. The statistics will vary, but most suggest that less than half of all businesses have disaster recovery planning in place. One Gartner survey had it at 35%. Some businesses do not have the means and others see it as a luxury rather than a necessity.
However, a single hour of downtime could cost a company as much as $90,000 in lost productivity and sales. How long could your company afford to be down at that rate? Here are three scenarios where disaster recovery with a viable server backup solution and adequate testing is essential:
Mother Nature Can Be Cruel
September is right at the heart of hurricane season, and although experts predict a weak season, the possibility of a natural disaster is always there. A natural disaster could cause power failure, structural damage and other negative effects that could impact your business. Do you need extra motivation? Pick up a copy of the newspaper and you'll read about extreme weather occurrences in our nation all year-round. 80% of businesses that suffer a significant outage from a natural disaster close for good.
We Are All Human
Because we are all human, we all make mistakes. Accidentally deleting a critical piece of data could be detrimental to a business's operations. Mismanaging a device or a configuration error could result in a network outage. It's for these reasons that adequate data backup and disaster recovery planning is necessary to negate our manmade mistakes.
Technology Fails Too
Your network consists of many different components – all of which you need to be running correctly at all times. A single glitch could disrupt your whole network. For example, 23% of all network outages are due to router failure according to one Cisco report. Hardware failure is by far the number one cause for an outage among companies, and one that can affect anyone.
Given the consequences and potential for an outage, it's important for businesses of kinds to look into disaster recovery services. It might mean the difference between the life and death of your company. We encourage you to contact our network experts today to learn how we can help you stay protected against an outage.
Every business needs to back up and protect its data and manage its available data storage, but many don't have a good system for doing so. However, when it comes time to choose a storage option, many companies are not sure what to look for. Here are some of the things to consider when deciding what type of recovery and backup is right for your business.
The system should . . .
- Provide all-in-one storage management – Many growing businesses rely on a number of different products, storage methods, and vendors to build their data storage infrastructure. That can be a real headache to manage, especially when some systems are on Linux/Unix and others are not. The best program works across all kinds of machines and operating systems to unify your storage management. That gives you a greater level of control and confidence in your backup and recovery methods.
- Reduce costs – Efficient management of storage infrastructure reduces the costs of operating, backing up and restoring that infrastructure. Without unified storage management software, data gets duplicated and multiple backup methods and services add up to bloated costs. A quality system allows you to hone down your backup and recovery infrastructure without sacrificing effectiveness.
- Protect more data – Backup and recovery should work fast. It should create backups as often as possible each day, on multiple servers. That means less data loss in the event of a system crash and recovery.
- Offer Intuitive display – Effective storage solutions should monitor all systems from a single administrative point of access, and the display for that point of access should be intuitive and clear. That means you will be able to see, at a single glance, exactly how much of your infrastructure is backed up and whether everything is working normally. Tivoli Storage Manager is one of several solutions that offers this option.
- Make backups easy – The most valuable system will consolidate a number of disparate administrative processes into a single easy interface, meaning that creating backups is easier and takes less time and employee expertise. That translates to more reliability and less time (and money) spent on each backup.
- Allow You to Back up anything – With a good infrastructure, you can back up anything that connects to your network: that means individual user accounts, laptops, servers, file systems, databases, even complex entities like virtual machines. It can all be backed up – and the right system may enable you to back up in the cloud, as well.
- Make Recovery pain free – If something damages your business's data infrastructure, whether it is a cyber-attack or a natural disaster, recovery should be quick and painless—and include the option of bare machine recovery.
What's making you consider a new backup and recovery system?
In today's highly computerized world, it's impossible to stay ahead without using technology. If you're running a small business, it's safe to assume that you don't have a lot of money to hire a lot of IT managers. You have someone to call if you need any significant computer repairs or work done, but when it comes to the day-to-day management of your business' network, everyone is pretty much on their own. It can be difficult to keep up with your regular duties and also maintain your computer network, but you don't have to be an IT wiz to keep everything running smoothly. If you keep the following advice in mind, you'll be able to keep everything organized and running well.
Be aware of possible performance issues
Computers make life much easier, but they aren't perfect. Sometimes computers can have problems for seemingly no reason. A program may crash, the Internet may be slow for a few hours, but these small problems usually aren't cause for an alarm. Tell your employees to inform you of any computer problems they may be experiencing. A few isolated incidents won't be anything to worry about, but repeated problems could be a sign that something is wrong with the device, or your programs and networks.
Use "business-grade" equipment and programs
A lot of owners make the mistake of using computers and software made for regular consumers to run their small business. Others simply pick out whichever computers, mobile phones, or laptops are the cheapest and use them for their work. However, consumer networking products essentially lack the enhancement and features that you need to properly run a business. They rarely have the correct programs for administration and management, and the ones that do aren't prepared to handle the needs of a small enterprise. Programs and software like NetApp and the Tivoli storage manager are designed for businesses, and can help you much more than any other consumer oriented product would.
Plan ahead for downtime
Maybe the newest update for an essential program ended up causing problems for your computers. Or maybe a power outage caused your computers to restart, and it's taking a long time to get everything up and running again. Either way, problems that affect your computers and network are bound to happen, and you need to be prepared to handle any down time they may cause. A simple malfunction or network problem could take you anywhere from a few minutes to a day to fix, and you want to make sure that you can have everything working again as soon as possible. Know who you can call for emergency IT work, and always make sure that you have your data backed up.
If you own a small to medium sized business, you may think that there isn't much to worry about in terms of the safety of your information. After all, why would a hacker or cyber criminal go after your business when they could be targeting other larger and much more profitable companies? Unfortunately, that false assumption ends up costing business owners a lot of time and money.
A report from the cyber security firm Symantec showed that in 2012, 31% of all cyber attacks were committed against businesses with fewer than 250 employees. Cyber attacks are on the rise, and everyone needs to take precautions to protect their data. Security network services can help you keep your data secure, but many small business owners don't see the point in using them, which is a big mistake. Here are some of the ways that small businesses are vulnerable to cyber criminals:
Lost or stolen devices
Mobile phones have come a long way over the past decade, and now it isn't uncommon for people to use their phones for work. Most people don't view their smartphones as actual computers, and that line of thought has the potential to be dangerous. Your mobile phone should have as much protection as your work laptop or computer, but since most people don't bother to set security standards on their phones or install security programs, most smart phones are very vulnerable to hackers.
Your own employees
There is a big elephant in the room when people discuss the important of cyber security for businesses, and it's the fact that the average employee can pose a significant security risk. A disgruntled or upset former employee could send crucial data to competitors, or could simply cause problems on your business' network. Worse yet, it's much more likely for a current and happy employee to cause problems. They could accidently download malware or spyware when they open an e-mail or click a link. They may not properly set a password for their computer and could leave it vulnerable to hackers. Your employees need to be educated on the basics of cyber security so that they don't make a mistake that could harm your company.
Is your backup plan assisting you as you work through the phases of Meaningful Use?
A lot of companies are going through business transformations to ensure they remain relevant to their Clients and in their industries. What IT challenges are you facing in your transformation?
Click here to watch Solutions II's President and CEO, Todd Bowling, discuss Solutions II's Business Transformation during IBM's PartnerWorld Leadership Conference last week.
When it comes to competition either across the world or via the internet marketplace, can smaller companies afford to compete globally with larger corporations without outsourcing important business functions such as IT? What are your thoughts in regards to the three questions, posed to address, this issue referenced on CFO.com?
While outsourcing can be a growth vitamin, small to-midsize companies must ask three questions before taking the plunge.
Global competitors, the Internet marketplace, and higher customer expectations have raised the bar for small to-midsize businesses (SMBs). The products and services delivered by smaller companies have to meet or exceed not just their comparably-sized peers, but also those of larger corporations with vastly greater resources. In many areas, these smaller companies simply cannot hope to compete using a do-it-yourself approach.
Instead of focusing on the cost advantages associated with moving jobs overseas, smaller businesses are using outsourcing to punch above their weight in critical business functions, including IT, transportation and logistics, and procurement. For smaller businesses, there are three questions that need to be answered when defining targets of opportunity for outsourcing…
Here’s the article: http://tinyurl.com/byvc9kv
Here’s an interesting point of view on the TCO on Cloud Technology from an article on CFO.com:
Q: I’m a finance officer, not a technologist. Can you guarantee that the total cost of ownership for the cloud is lower than what I’m already spending for my on-premises IT?
A: That depends upon what you’re already spending. Do you know?
According to Forrester senior analyst Dave Bartoletti, most companies are not all that good at knowing how much it really costs to run an application because IT departments “are still seen as cost centers.” The company buys the servers, the storage, and the applications, and flips the switch. “What does it cost to run?” Bartoletti asks rhetorically. “Who knows? You just depreciate the assets over a certain amount of time and after they’re fully depreciated, you buy more.” Even organizations that account for staff costs, maintenance, energy — all the indirect spend that goes into producing a service the business needs to run — will probably not be able to cost out individual applications with any degree of accuracy. How much, for example, does your e-mail cost? “If your CIO can’t tell you it’s x, y, z, per box,” Hotels and Resorts CIO Mike Blake tells CFO, “that’s a problem.”
“Enterprises are making significant investments in cloud technology in pursuit of lower costs,” says Dave Zabrowski, founder and CEO of Cloud Cruiser, a provider of cost analytics for cloud consumers, but “if you can’t see what you’re spending, there’s a good chance you’re spending too much.”
And that problem, that financial black box, has been the bane of the finance officer’s life in the IT age. The cloud, if nothing else, presents an opportunity to open that black box, although it doesn’t do so by itself.
To read the full article on FAQs for CFOs on Cloud Technology go to: http://www3.cfo.com/article/2012/7/the-cloud_cloud-faqs-for-cfos