Saturday, December 28, 2013

Understanding 5 Critical Misconceptions About Disaster Recovery Plans

Understanding 5 Critical Misconceptions About Disaster Recovery Plans
By Michelle Ziperstein

Would your company's IT department be prepared for a disaster? Do you have a disaster recovery plan that is up to date? These are key questions that any company should be able to answer in order to be prepared should a disaster arise. The Disaster Recovery Journal recently highlighted the 5 biggest misconceptions when it comes to disaster recovery. Here's what managers need to know to properly evaluate their company's disaster preparedness.

#1: Backup-as-a-Service and Recovery-as-a-service are not the same.

A good DR plan is about getting back up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible. While backups are one component of a DR plan, they are not the complete answer. Backups and Backups-as-a-Service take recoverable data and put it back together in a usable way. Companies may have their files backed up but have no way to access or run their files because they need the applications to do so. This is where Recovery-as-a-Service comes in.

With Recovery-as-a-Service, the entire application and all the data associated with it are protected as one complete picture. Using a Cloud-based Recovery-as-a-Service can help ensure the safe recovery and protection of each virtual machine (VM), virtual application (vApp) and piece of data within the application.

#2: A one size disaster recovery plan will not fit all applications.

Certain DR solutions may not fit every application. Some non- business critical applications can get away with only backups. This is an area where many companies are able to scale back their budgets and use backups only. Others require a Recovery Point Objective (RPO) or a Recovery Time Objective (PTO) with a shorter period of time like minutes or seconds for business or mission-critical applications. Although these may cost more, there are ranges of affordability linked to an RPO or RTO that each application requires.

Each application is evaluated to get the best RPO and RTO. Price is based on the rankings comparing all applications. The best DR plans have varying levels of protection and include services like cloud-based DR to backups for each application. Companies, who try to protect all of their applications the same way, are either paying too much or not protecting critical applications enough.

#3: Most IT disasters are not caused by natural events.

Most disasters occur due to a technological, human or random error and are not natural. Natural disasters such as a hurricane are easier to plan for as companies can run their entire data center remotely from a better positioned geographic facility. With today's advanced storm notification, companies have the time to manually move applications to a backup site with 24-48 hours notice.

Companies who use a more protected datacenter are ready for events that happen with no warning. If a virus corrupts your data and you rely on continuous replication, then the virus will be instantaneously replicated to your second site as well. Companies who use a complete DR solution are able to pick a point from before the virus hit to recover safely from. Recovery plans should allow companies enough time to catch a mistake before it replicates to the second site or backups.

#4: Your DR plan should include how to return to your primary IT environment

DR is not just about getting critical systems up and running as quickly as possible. It's also about fully recovering from an event or outage after your environment is failed back. Companies forget that falling back is an important part of the recovery process and it's often the least tested because of risks involved in messing with live applications. Though failing to a recovery environment is hard, failing back can be harder because systems fail back to previously used, unclean resources which may require prep work to successfully move the applications back. Rate of change and bandwidth needed for failing back must be taken into account or you could get trapped in your recovery environment. It is essential that a DR plan includes the resources that you will need to get back up and running in your primary environment.

#5: DR Testing should be a continuous to consider yourself prepared

Successful DR plans involve constant testing to ensure complete coverage. Tests where errors are uncovered are just as essential as tests where no errors are identified. It's easier to fix errors in a testing situation than to perform the same tasks in a high pressure situation. Applications change frequently so DR plans must be flexible. Having a comprehensive plan in place can ensure your company the best possible chance of being prepared no matter what comes your way.

Michelle Ziperstein is the Marketing Communications Specialist at Cervalis LLC. Cervalis' Data Backup and Disaster Recovery solutions provide a high degree of availability for mission-critical data to ensure business continuity for companies, and a suite of data center services to organizations nationwide.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michelle_Ziperstein

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

10 Cloud Computing Terms That You Need To Know

10 Cloud Computing Terms That You Need To Know
By Dan Barrowclough

The term cloud computing induces about 90% of the population into a state of confusion. However, this doesn't have to be the case. With the help of this brief glossary, you'll have no problem sorting your PaaS from your IaaS and more...

SaaS is an acronym standing for Software as a Service. SaaS refers to cloud applications run over the internet. The advantage of doing this is that cloud applications do not have to be installed or run on the user's computer. Popular examples of SaaS are web based email clients and twitter. Many people use SaaS services without realising.

PaaS is an acronym standing for platform as a service. PaaS refers to cloud platform services, in effect; this means that operating systems and associated services can be delivered over the internet as a cloud service.

IaaS is an acronym standing for infrastructure as a service. IaaS refers to the equipment needed to support IT operations being provided as a service over the internet. This equipment includes but is not limited to storage, servers, hardware and networking components. IaaS is sometimes referred to as HaaS or Hardware as a Service, although this is not as common as it once was.

A Datacentre is a (usually purpose built) facility used to house computing equipment and any associated components. Data Centre's usually contain climate control and back-up power supplies to ensure the efficient and continuous operation of the equipment housed within. Another feature of data centres is that they are highly secure, with high-level physical and digital security.

Online Backup or Cloud Backup as it's sometimes referred as, is the process of digitally backing up your documents or files over an internet connection onto remote hardware.

VoIP is an acronym standing for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is a method of transferring voice data over the internet to replicate a telephone service. VoIP is delivered as a service, usually from OTT (Over the Top) clients such as Skype. For a VoIP call to be good quality, a fast internet connection is needed.

SIP Trunks are, in effect, virtual phone lines that operate through your computer and broadband connection for use when making VoIP calls. They should be thought of as the virtual equivalent to copper wiring in the ground.

Cloud Hosting, sometimes referred to cloud server hosting is a service in which hosting is made available to clients over an internet connection. Cloud hosting differs from other types of hosting in one key way. Instead of being hosted on a single server, cloud hosting uses a number of connected servers to form a pool of resource that a number of clients can draw from.

Cloud App is an abbreviation of the term cloud application and is a term used to describe a piece of computer software that is not run or installed locally, but is instead delivered as a service across the internet. An example of this could be Microsoft Office 365, an internet based version of Microsoft office. For more information on this concept, please see SaaS (Software as a Service).

SLA is an acronym standing for Service Level Agreement. While SLAs aren't exclusive to cloud services, they are particularly relevant. A SLA is a contractual agreement between 2 or more parties and acts as a guarantee in regards to the level of service that is to be provided. In cloud computing, availability, reliability and security are 3 key areas to consider.

Thanks for reading the glossary; I hope it has been of some help.

For more information on any cloud computing services, please click on the link provided.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dan_Barrowclough

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mobile Apps That Make Smartphones Smart

Mobile Apps That Make Smartphones Smart
By Kim Cardle

Mobile applications development is similar to programming computers to perform tasks but on a smaller scale. However, many apps today do more than what computers can, for example, utilizing GPS to deliver locations and allowing branding solutions for numerous businesses.

With more people using smartphones for work, recreation and communication, there's a race to develop apps to make smartphones even smarter. For example, built-in (native) iPhone apps are enough to get some users by as they consist of maps, personal assistants, internet connectivity and a whole lot more. Apps available in the App Store comprise of additional applications to enhance utility functions, allow gaming, download of entertainment etc. But since iPhones are capable of processing so many more apps, developers are in demand by clients who need to market products and services on the same platform.

This demand has created job avenues for developers and designers alike while giving clients an opening to stay connected to potential customers. Smartphone manufacturers also profit as users enjoy what the phones have to offer and facilitate a demand, creating a win-win situation for all.

Applications are divided into services they provide. Clients connect with users through them by initiating projects that can be delivered through these channels. Take a look at what they are.

Multimedia apps

More than just a channel for entertainment, multimedia tools permit the sharing of videos, images and music between a phone user and his contacts. These apps tend to have many followers because they're easy to use and allow downloading and uploading of high resolution content. Most have built-in editing tools as well to completely change or enhance content.

GPS guides

Printed maps are becoming obsolete for many because they can't be updated continuously. They also don't contain sites immediate to a person's location. For instance, you're on a certain street and want to know where the nearest restaurant is. With an app, you'll get a list of places within a certain radius in seconds. The maps are pretty accurate and despite having to be periodically updated by the maker, still work faster than printed varieties.

Social networking

Almost every smartphone user is a member of a social networking website. Connecting to these sites through a computer or a notebook is obviously possible but most prefer carrying smartphones than larger gadgets. Staying connected with family and peers is important to many and apps allow this.

Branding

When an app is made by or made for a company, that company's brand image is enhanced and acts as a reminder whenever a phone user uses it. It's like having a banner with a customer at all times. Small wonder that so many companies are taking the mobile app route and optimizing applications to fit smartphones.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle apps are replacements for books and magazines because you can take them with you in a small package. Let's say you're waiting for a flight and have nothing to do for the next hour. You could read a book or browse the airport stores but for how long? Lifestyle apps are varied with reference books, information on practically any subject, how-to guides, cookbooks, comics, novels. You name it and you'll find it. Some apps also connect you with like-minded people from across the world by integrating with social networking sites.

If you are searching for the finest production media developers then Production Media is the best place to be. Check out their website for additional details.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Kim_Cardle

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cloud Computing Perspectives 1: The Business Owner

Cloud Computing Perspectives 1: The Business Owner
By James N Burns

The Challenge for the Business Owner

Leaving aside the technology for the moment then, let's take a look at some of the key challenges that a business owner might face.

1. Costs: Businesses, their owners and financial controllers want to reduce costs to improve profitability and run more efficient operations. Understandably, interest in this area is keen because of the recent tough trading conditions.

2. Accountability: In order to manage a business effectively and steer it in the right direction, a business owner needs to know who is using what, how much it costs, and whether it delivers a return on investment.

3. Business agility: In order to stay ahead of the competition and remain "master of its own destiny", a business needs to have fleet-of-foot in order to react quickly to new opportunities and market directions.

If we were to ask a business owner to summarise their perspective on this, we might expect to hear the following - does it sound familiar to your situation?

"Our IT is expensive and sluggish. I'm frustrated because it's holding us back from moving quickly with new ideas, and we're losing our competitive advantage."

The Solution
What is it about cloud that helps a business owner to overcome the challenges that we've raised above.

1. First, let's look at how cloud can help to reduce costs and improve efficiency:

  • Capital investment is reduced: with cloud, more IT is outsourced or rented on demand. This means that the need to purchase hardware (servers and all the supporting infrastructure) is reduced, resulting in a lowering of the amount of capital investment required to drive the business.

  • On a related note, capital wastage is reduced, because with cloud, you only need to pay for what you use. This is important because cloud makes it possible to more closely align IT spend with actual requirements at any one point in time - a very efficient way of procuring IT resources.

  • Improved IT automation and a smaller IT footprint allows your IT teams to do more with less. Headcount can be redeployed so that instead of spending time on repetitive tasks ("keeping the lights on") your IT department can work on more strategic work that is of greater value to your business.

2. Next, how does cloud help a business to capture IT accountability?

  • The centralised "worldview" of cloud allows you to see how much IT resource is being used by a particular project or business unit so you can get a better idea of ROI. With this information to hand, it is easier to establish which initiatives are making money, and which are draining resources.

  • A knock-on effect from this visibility is the improved planning that it encourages: now they can see the real cost to the business of the IT they consume, business departments are more conscientious in their consumption of resources.

3. Finally, cloud delivers what is often regarded as its ultimate advantage - business agility:

  • IT on demand: teams get the resources they need, when they need them, speeding up development and mitigating delays, and in doing so, shortening project delivery times.

  • Accelerated decision making: new or pilot projects no longer require capital expenditure to get off the ground and can be approved more quickly, while risk is reduced on more speculative initiatives, opening up the door to innovation and potentially the next route to success.

  • Improved delivery and economics of IT: gives your business the adaptability and fleet-of-foot to gain competitive advantage.

Next time, we'll look at cloud from the perspective of the IT department, but for now, let's give the final word to our business owner:

"We've realised that cloud is far more than just a cost-cutting exercise. Our cloud strategy has transformed our IT from something that was holding us back, to something that enables our organisation to reach its true potential."

Questions about cloud computing?

You're welcome to contact us, or you might like to take a look at the "Cloud Answers" section of our website: http://www.1steasy.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=James_N_Burns

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

What Is The Cloud and Why Do I Want It?

What Is The Cloud and Why Do I Want It?
By Kathleen Hurley

Your company's probably like most others - resources are thin, and providing service internally and externally is key. Doing more with less, as they say, is the order of the day, and in some cases, technology enables that to be very successful.

In other cases, technology almost seems like a tease. Great technical innovations come forward, but your company can't take advantage of them because of some business requirement - regulation, or industry orientation, or security requirement, or something else standing in the way of technology making a really powerful business impact.

The organization, and the world in general, are not out to get you. Rather, you need some creative thinking about how to implement the solution you want while staying inside the lines the business requires.

This issue is very common. The challenge of incorporating what has become an obvious cost-saver into a highly regulated and security-conscious industry looks at first glance like a no-go. But there are ways to leverage a Private Cloud topology or a Hybrid Cloud design to get the best of both worlds.

First, think about your storage. Does your flat file infrastructure require the same security as, say, your in-house accounting system? If not, it's possible to migrate that to a hosted solution and save thousands. Perform an inventory of your offered services and perform the same evaluation on your other IT service offerings.

What if it turns out that nothing can go to the cloud? In that scenario, we suggest two things. One is getting a second opinion. It may be that you're just not aware of some great opportunities in hosted solutions, and a seasoned IT services company could provide those for you. Do not pay for this service.

However, let's imagine you are right, and nothing can go. You're still not out of the cloud game! You do need to think about your external security, but take advantage of the Private Cloud. Dell in particular is making this almost out-of-the-box easy with the new Dell VRTX. Converged storage is useful in this scenario to the point of making this stupid. Just connect, virtualize, expose and go.

One thing to consider as you make your way down this path is cost. The business can easily see savings in the reduction of capital hardware expense, but you need to show the savings in labor to account for the increased operating costs. Your analysis needs to be thorough and precise, and you are sure to get your Cloud project off the ground!

If you have any interest in learning how Cloud Computing can benefit your organization, contact Fidelity Networks today. We provide the lowest prices coupled with Concierge Service for no-worries design and implementation. http://www.fidelitynetworks.net

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Kathleen_Hurley

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Whys and Wherefores of IT Managed Services

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By Ramy Krish

More and more organisations are choosing to hire specialised IT Managed Services suppliers showing that these services are gaining popularity. Perhaps you are wondering what exactly Managed Support Services are and whether you should be joining the bandwagon. It is quite possible that the primary reason organisations opt to outsource is that it is cost-effective however there are many other motivations and benefits which are not often mentioned.

Let us consider the needs that a company has when it comes to the provision of adequate IT Support for all their end-users. Typically, they will require at least a helpdesk that is preferably offered 24x7, proactive monitoring to provide alerts prior to the occurrence of issues and administration of all the hardware - servers, desktops, laptops, printers - software, et al. There is plenty more that goes into keeping the IT infrastructure functioning smoothly and all companies will not have the knowledge, time or skills necessary.

Is outsourcing the only course available? Of course not, there are a number of alternatives but one must check the viability of each of these solutions and choose whatever works best for your company. We will take a look in detail at a couple of options.

One method of providing the support is to hire qualified and experienced IT professionals who can manage the entire organisation's IT set-up. According to research, one IT person is sufficient per 40 personnel. Taking that at face value if a business were to have a one-man IT department in one of their smaller offices with less than 40 employees, they will face the following challenges. It is likely that he will get snowed under by the demands on his time as he faces certain time periods of constant demand. He will be forced to deal with dilemmas where he does not have the requisite know-how. If they do manage to get someone who is capable of handling the entire range of wide and varied IT problems, he will obviously come at a premium cost. There are the additional challenges of a lack of support when he is off on holiday or due to sickness or even when there are two pressing matters that he has to resolve.

Another method would be to partner with an IT company who sends in somebody as and when there is a need and pay them by the hour. This may seem to be an ideal situation however this too has its set of hassles. In this scenario, the arrangement becomes more profitable when the IT partner's resources spend more hours working on requests and hence, they could unnecessarily take longer to fix something. Additionally, as they are only called in for reactive support, the business find itself many times ending up with its systems going down and having to work against the clock to bring them up again whilst its entire set-up will not be receiving full, proper proactive support. There will be the costs associated with the loss of productivity of all employees affected by the downtime in addition to being billed to get everything back to normal. The total expenditure will end up being much higher than if the organisation had pre-emptively detected and rectified the issue. Also, as it is used only as a break-fix remedy, the supplier will have to wait for something to break prior to fixing it.

So, is there really a better alternative that works profitably for both the supplier and the outsourcer? Yes, we believe that the solution is to work with an IT Managed Services firm. Here, the payment is for a service and not for the number of hours that anyone has spent working for the business. Hence, the company can be certain that speed to arrive at and implement a resolution will be equally of the essence to the service provider as to the organisation when downtime strikes. Also, since they will be continually monitoring the IT infrastructure, quite a few glitches will be prevented before they crop up. The company will no longer be dependent on a single IT staff member's skill-sets and availability and they will find that their cost-savings will be the sum of having more uptime and reduced over-all spend on the service itself. When the business hands over the job to a specialist, they can rest assured that everything is in the hands of experts who are familiar with all the intricacies involved.

Now that you understand more about the options in the market, you must evaluate them based on your specific requirements and make the choice that suits you best.

Allied Worldwide is one among the top IT outsourcing companies in UK. Allied delivers bespoke and flexible IT support services and IT managed services to enhance operational effectiveness at a minimal cost.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Ramy_Krish

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Saturday, December 07, 2013

How Cloud Computing Benefits You

How Cloud Computing Benefits You
By Lea Williams

The new age of computer technology has had many innovations but none of which as disruptive and industry changing as cloud computing. This new step on the path of computer efficiency has equipped businesses with a new lens which they view their IT hardware and software requirements. Through media coverage and corporate advertisements much of the country is familiar with the idea of this mysterious cloud, but many still do not know what the benefits are of its use.

The encompassing idea for cloud computing can be simplified down to the one word of efficiency. This efficiency focuses in the use of resources to reduce costs; allowing for innovation, increase of speed and scalability, and conveniently allow for optimal resource utilization. All of which listed allow for businesses to create their own economies of scale and operate on a horizontal level. With the use of cloud resources these economies of scale can be created within any industry or business. Also, the size of a cooperation or its capacity requirements pose no issue for cloud computing, as there are essentially no bounds to how much information a cloud can secure.

Cloud Benefits:

Convenience / Location Independence: Often the most widely known benefit of cloud computing remains in it's ability to allow users to access server data, software, and network equipment wherever they are located worldwide. Provided they have internet access, this flexibility furthermore allows for operations to extend into the field beyond the reaches of traditional technologies.

Speed: Cloud computing increases speed in nearly all facets of business. With this technology companies are no longer impeded by the setting up of hardware and software, nor are teams of workers delayed in collaboration when located in difference geographic locations.

Resource Utilization: Businesses are able to increase or decrease their usage of services on the cloud as their individual markets fluctuate in demand. This flexibility allows for users to not be bound by hardware constraints, and furthermore encourages operating at higher levels of production.

Decreased Costs: The most important benefit of cloud computing, which all others can be directly linked to are it's ability to save companies large sums of money. The elimination of stand-alone servers and software allows for the redistribution of financial resources to other margin increasing activities. Also being these services are offered on a pay-per-consumption basis, businesses don't pay for capacity which they don't need. Also, the ability to have all data located together allows mangers the ability to better monitor all activity and budget accordingly.

For more information on cloud computing, check out SunGard PS, specialists in government cloud and e-government tools.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Lea_Williams

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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The Hidden Dangers of BYOD

The Hidden Dangers of BYOD
By Kathleen Hurley

There's a lot to be said about BYOD, and many authors have recommended that IT Managers and CIOs get on the BYOD bus or get left behind. That perspective holds, because, for one thing, the business isn't going to give you much of a choice.

But when you're in the position of gatekeeping information and information systems security for your company, you are probably well aware of the dangers unmanaged devices introduce to your network. From malware to viruses, data leakage to compromised accounts, to the need to support a million models of devices that are constantly changing, you probably see the hours you spend at work extending into infinity.

Take solace in the fact that you're not alone. Companies which have already implemented have faced down these challenges, and companies that are in the process of implementing are advised to take note from the experience and knowledge that's already out there. No need to re-invent the wheel, just start with what's already been established.

Make sure your mobile device security policy is up to date. You already have devices that are non-networked that are touching your stuff. Mobile phones, iPads, possibly even home computers if you run OWA or an SSL VPN. Your existing security policy should cover those items, outlining the responsibilities of the owner/end user and the responsibilities of the company. This evaluation will vary wildly depending on your company's practices. Do you allow ActiveSync and OWA for all users, at all times? Do you reimburse for internet access, cellular service, or insurance deductibles for damage occurring on work time? Do you even require your employees to carry insurance on their personal mobile products?

Add to your policy to cover data. It's no secret that end users often don't understand the security limitations of public cloud storage, let alone GMail or other cloud-based applications. Enhance your policy with an easy-to-follow, non-technical do's and don't's section. Highlight the problems your business could face if a user posts sensitive company or customer data to a public cloud or app. Make sure users area aware of the risks they are taking if they think their mobile device is a safe place to troll the seedier side of the internet.

Think about the costs. Your team has to support the devices. There's just no way around that. At least to the point of diagnosis, a BYOD device is no longer separated from the business as a 'personal phone' or tablet. Set appropriate expectations. If your existing volume is already putting a strain on your team, think about a mobile device management platform. If your biggest concern is security for lost/stolen devices, look at The Prey Project.

Consider your industry and corporate regulations. If you are supporting a company that is audited regularly, that has a strict IT governance, or that is subject to strict requirements like HIPPA, you are going to need to talk with your counsel before making decisions about BYOD. The risks are potentially too high for it to make sense, no matter how happy it would make your staff.

Fidelity Networks provides free Concierge Services designed to get you on the cloud, with a solid BYOD policy, with no pain and minimal expense. Visit http://www.fidelity-partners.com, or call 615-617-6127.

Kathleen Hurley, COO at Fidelity Networks, has over 15 years' experience as a business services CIO, a background as a small business owner, and more than a decade as a web developer. Kathleen says that her MBA in IT from the University of Wales and her BA in English allow her to do two things really well: read the directions and speak to fellow humans. Her dissertation was on Women in Information Technology and considered the international financial implications of an understaffed IT industry.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Kathleen_Hurley

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