Securing the Airwaves: How can the Cloud be better?

Securing the Airwaves: How can the Cloud be better?

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Cloud Hosting

data archiving

When establishing your IT environment, either on premise or cloud hosted, all organizations should always give serious consideration to the security. But how secure is the cloud? There’s numerous pieces of hardware in a datacenter where your information is travelling through or being stored. How can it be more secure?

When considering the cloud, the main fact is that while some of the methods and tools used to secure a network and data in the cloud are different as a physical server, the basic principles are exactly the same. Also, because the cloud runs in data centers staffed by experts from numerous technology specialties, data stored there is secured by the best people available in the industry today.

Security in the cloud is achieved through the implementation of technologies, infrastructure, and policies like any other network. Those used to secure datacenters, however, are suited to agile, large-scale environments and are certified by independent third-party auditors. Compliance with these audits show that datacenters are using the best tools and equipment available at the enterprise level that SMBs can take advantage of at scale.

Datacenters can be certified to show they are compliant with HIPAA regulations for systems that handle sensitive healthcare information – this is absolutely necessary for HIPAA-compliant cloud storage. When companies handle information like birthdays, addresses, and credit card data, they are also audited for PCI compliance too.  Any datacenter which has been audited and certified according to these standards absolutely proves it has the procedures and technical acumen to provide the best security to protect even the most sensitive business information.

Firewalls are the de-facto security for any network, including cloud hosted networks. A firewall is a hardware or software system which applies screening and rules to all the traffic of a network. Data passing in or out of your Cloud environment is inspected and filtered by the firewall based on a set of configurable rules, blocking dangerous traffic, and allowing the correct data in. This is what provides the network barrier between your systems and other systems in the data center. The rules governing a firewall must be managed closely, to meet changing threats and maintain security, a process best handled by managed service experts.

Businesses of all sizes, including Enterprise and SMB level, have been using the Cloud for years, and among users of every size cloud hosting is only increasing in every industry. Private businesses and governments are moving workloads of varying levels to the cloud, even with increasingly stringent security needs. This change is driven largely by lower costs, and the increased performance, and agility advantages delivered by cloud computing. A benefit central to this confidence is the realization that service providers offer experience and expertise which are far beyond most organizations, particularly those not dedicated to IT services, network security or data management. Committed, professional management is a major part of what makes any environment secure and efficient, cloud or on premise.

An expert managed service provider like SOS Technology Group provides the most benefit to any business, allowing anyone to benefit from the scalability and low cost of the cloud while providing the leading edge security needed today for any compliance needs. Contact us for a no cost assessment today.

Total Cloud: A Virtual Dream to A Virtual Reality

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Cloud Hosting

wi-fi security

Small- to mid-sized business owners enjoying rapid growth face a challenge—how to scale their organizations rapidly without incurring dramatic cost increases to overhead.

One way to meet this challenge is to establish a virtual workforce with a cloud based environment.  With this kind of platform, employees, many of whom might be located across the country, or even around the world, can work from wherever they wish. This eliminates the need for you to lease more office space and constantly move into larger offices as your business grows. A virtual workforce can reduce other costs and could even increase productivity by keeping your overhead expenses low and employees happy.

A sales team and field service team probably already work largely on a remote basis. Hiring other types of employees to extend your virtual team opens up the possibility for hiring more experienced and talented individuals. What’s more, employees are rapidly choosing to work virtually if they can, leading to a direct quality of life increase for employees, and this makes retention of quality people easy.

Some managers think that, in regards to productivity, they can’t measure what they can’t see, but most teams are already collaborating virtually, when using email or instant messaging platforms; they might be in the office next door or in another city. The technology for virtual cooperative work has existed for quite some time. Still, it takes effort to make virtual connections work. It is absolutely critical to promote and foster quality virtual interaction so that no employee is an island. This is a common challenge when organizations move to a virtual workspace, but one that can be addressed with thoughtful engagement during the migration from physical to virtual.

Another key component to a virtual workspace is a consistent environment. An environment that is identical to a physical workstation is preferred, with as little deviation as possible from a traditional PC workstation. A bring-your-own-device policy, with the appropriate cloud infrastructure, is a great way to achieve parity, as each employee is able to customize their work experience to a degree, and maintain a level of comfort and familiarity with their equipment. Windows PCs, MacBooks, tablets or even smartphones – however an employee works best, a virtual workspace can be adjusted to fit their needs.

BYOD, as bring-your-own-device is also known, can reduce overhead, as system requirements are significantly lowered with a virtual desktop and some employees may even agree to purchase their own workstation hardware, if they absolutely need features that are not necessarily provided beyond a baseline minimum requirement.

Cost savings, overhead reductions, consistent uptime and increased employee happiness are just a few of the benefits of going to a virtual workstation environment. Reach out to us today for an assessment of your IT to elevate to the Total Cloud today!

 

No Hardware – No Problems

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Cloud Hosting

Beginner’s Guide To Cloud Storage

No hardware, no problems

 

Not too long ago, a virtual desktop environment was too cost prohibitive for many organizations. This offering has grown so quickly and become so cost effective that it is a right size for almost every company doing business today.

An SOS TotalCloud appliance acts like a physical desktop, except that it is centralized in a data center and streams to the appliance. The appliance can be just about any physical device with network access, along with significantly lower hardware requirements than business class PCs, for both maximum uptime and maximum service life.

When virtual desktops were first offered, some companies attempted migration without a clear understanding of the impacts to business requirements and true cost. As a result, many of those early adoptions did not succeed. Now, virtual infrastructure is much more refined, with the primary focus shifting to include not only data and security concerns, but also resource consumption, hardware uptime, and usable hardware life cycles. Speaking to that last point, the hardware on an employee’s desk becomes a non-issue: it is simply an almost disposable device, at a price point that matches, as it is basically just ‘streaming’ an active desktop. It’s not doing any real work, since that is taking place in the cloud. With the correct interface, any device, mobile or tablet becomes a consistent workstation for every user.

Applications are the lifeblood of a great many businesses. Whether it’s industry specific software or MS Office standards, software is how everything is getting done. When looking at a traditional desktop environment, all users must connect into the main network to install or update an application, shifting their schedules around the inevitable downtime that comes with either updating existing hardware, or rolling out new hardware & software for a new addition to the team. On the SOS TotalCloud, these changes are being whitelisted, and automatically installed to all users at once on off hours, with no impact to anyone. This same method is used for upgrades as well, so keeping everyone on current versions is seamless, and no longer dependent on expensive and constantly aging hardware.

Hardware expenses certainly add up over time. It’s reasonable to expect to replace roughly a third of existing systems every calendar year on a 36 month warranty-backed lifecycle. At anywhere from eight hundred to a thousand dollars per system, this cost impacts every company’s bottom line. Also included are servers, with an on average 5 year lifespan. The infrastructure required by today’s economy is very impactful, and rarely predictable.

Looking at SOS TotalCloud, these costs reduce dramatically, practically overnight. Say goodbye to the mystery of unanticipated costs. You’ll know exactly how much it costs to replace a TotalCloud appliance, or to bring on a brand new one, ready to go from Day 1, for the same price every time.

 

Fixed costs, 99.9% uptime, reduced IT expenditures without the mystery. SOS TotalCloud works.

 

Infrastructure as a Service

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Cloud Hosting

data archiving

There are some major advantages to utilizing infrastructure-as-a-service, especially for businesses concerned with up-time and scalability as they grow in their respective markets. IaaS goes beyond simply virtualizing infrastructure, by also adding a software management layer with single pane of glass administration to allocate resources, both external and internal, and to maximize support.

‘Going to the cloud’ is a phrase you’ve no doubt heard before. But does the experience live up to the hype in technology circles and current best practices? These questions are important enough to have decision-makers question whether they can really benefit from the Iaas model.  The Benefits include:

Cost savings – At the first sight, any good look into long term cost-savings are not that obvious. However, cost saving is going to be tangible, although not necessarily direct. Overall costs are bound to go down- you will require less people, streamline your operations and have time and resources to focus on business growth.

Cutting edge technology – Because of their own competitive market constraints, datacenters and data architects are feeling the pressure to always provide the latest and greatest at an easy-to-adopt cost platform.

IaaS saves IT staff time – In examining time savings, it is important to factor in the benefits of automation that some service providers offer. In some cases, automation will not only offset the operational costs, but also optimize the way your data is loaded and saved. This automated optimization can save a lot of money in direct storage and compute costs, as well as the time spent on data prep by your staff.

Focus on business growth – The savings in time and resources, along with the added benefit of knowing fixed costs of expansion of employee needs, enable an important shift in focus, allowing your team to keep critical business imperatives front-and-center.

Scalability and elasticity – IaaS provides an extraordinary level of flexibility and scalability in response to an enterprise’s requirements.  .

Support for Disaster Recovery (DR)/Business Continuity (BC) – IaaS services provide high-level, consolidated DR/BC solutions, further reducing costs and increasing manageability.

The current generation of IaaS providers is all-in on managing complexity by helping businesses optimize with the help of machine learning and the latest developments in artificial intelligence, as well. This last generation includes self-optimizing analytics infrastructure in the cloud, adapting to ever-changing data needs from across many different industries and verticals. These technologies aim to abstract away the vast complexity of components and configurations required to maintain a robust infrastructure allowing companies to instantly utilize their data, processes and environment, no matter what size they happen to be. Easy migration and rapidly decreasing costs make a cloud infrastructure as a service a viable option for everyone looking to increase efficiency, create turn-key growth and forecast costs for IT to a level of predictability not yet seen. SOS is proud to offer this option to our clients and new friends. Contact us to learn more and to organize a complimentary assessment.

Office 365- The Best Option for Business Email

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Cloud Hosting, IT News

Since the early 1980s, Microsoft is the premier choice in business software. Certain industries might use proprietary software specific to their products or services, but it’s almost impossible to find a company that doesn’t use a word processor, spreadsheet or presentation planning software in their daily operations.

On-premise servers have been a significant barrier to entry for smaller organizations that required a stable and secure email platform that was also easy to use and familiar to current and new employees alike. Another server was needed to share files and folders to everyone in the company, along with other essential services. This is no longer the case with Office 365. However, Microsoft makes it a bit difficult to understand the exact difference between the packages it offers, by constantly improving and expanding its business functions and security features.  Sorting through the available options to find the ones essential to your business can be a daunting challenge in of itself.

 

Here’s a brief breakdown of the packages available:

 

Office 365 Business Essentials: $5 per user per month.

 

Includes:

  • Web based version of Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook & Access)
  • Web based services (Exchange, Sharepoint, OneDrive, Teams & Skype)
  • There are no additional security features offered at this level.

 

Office 365 Business: $8.25 per user per month

 

Includes:

  • Web based version of Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook & Access)
  • Web based OneDrive & Teams (Free Tier)
  • Desktop downloads of Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook & Access)

 

Office 365 Business Premium: $12.50 per user per month

 

Includes:

  • Web based version of Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook & Access)
  • Web based services (Exchange, Sharepoint, OneDrive, Teams & Skype)
  • Desktop downloads of Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook & Access)
  • Additional Security features such as two-factor authentication, and secure encryption in transit

 

Determining which of these plans fits your business best begins with assessing factors like the number of users you have, which features those users will need on an individual basis, and just how beneficial some of the newer Microsoft products might become.

 

Another huge benefit to Office 365 is the ability to upgrade at any time, so it makes sense to start with a smaller plan with fewer features to be decisively cost-effective as your business needs change or your organization grows. Along with the feature to subscribe to small business focused apps like Microsoft Invoicing or Connections, which are included in Office 365 Business Premium, this is truly a robust platform that gives control of services and pricing back to the user.

 

SOS helps thousands of users across the nation get the most from Office 365, and ensuring that migrations to the platform occur seamlessly with as little downtime as possible. If you’re thinking of making the jump, contact us today to consult on getting the most from your IT services.

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