The Importance of Maintaining Network Compliance

Last month’s blog provided information about ways to “Avoid Being Held Hostage by Ransomware.” Eight days later, on May 12, 2017, there was a global outbreak of the Wanna Cry Virus. With Cyber Threats on the rise, the importance of maintaining network compliance is top of mind with business owners and IT professionals alike. Industry compliance regulations, including PCI, HIPAA, and SOX, drive best practices in Network Compliance. However, most businesses today rely heavily on their systems to access Cloud Services, Voice, and Data Networks for mission-critical applications that run their business. What can you do to maintain network compliance? Automate Your Network Administration Keeping operating systems and network configurations up to date is a top priority for network compliance. Each device that connects to your network needs to have up-to-date operating system security patches, anti-virus definitions, and malware threat prevention in order avoid un- intended intrusion of your network. There are abundant tools and managed services to help your business stay up to date without adding to your internal labor cost. Proactively Monitor Your Network Monitor your network to identify any systems that are out of compliance. Proactive monitoring can also identify unauthorized devices connected to your network. You can monitor your network traffic to identify unusual use of network bandwidth. Aside from slowing down your systems, excessive bandwidth may be the result of a malware-infected device that is exploiting your network. Documenting Your Network Security Controls Achieving compliance with documented security procedures including password policy, systems maintenance, backup procedures, and compliance measures, is critical to following most industry compliance regulations. It is a  best practice to update...

What are Managed Services and Why Should I Care?

A managed services provider (MSP) takes on the responsibility for a company’s technology and infrastructure by proactively providing a defined set of IT services for a fixed monthly fee. This approach is preferred by businesses over the traditional Break/Fix services delivered on an hourly rate when needed. By emphasizing high availability and reliability, Managed Services align the MSP’s business model with a company’s business objectives. In contrast, the break/fix model addresses problems when they occur. According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, the global managed‐services market will grow to $193B by 2019, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.5%. Information Technology as a Service According to the fifth annual Trends in Managed Service published by CompTIA, “The central tenet to the MSP model is a provider-customer relationship based on a contract backed by a service level agreement.” This approach provides IT services similar to other utility models.  Many Managed Service Providers (MSPs) rely on remote monitoring and management technologies to deliver a range of core IT services in a scalable and proactive manner. This approach streamlines the process for proactively identifying and resolving issues with IT infrastructure.   What to Expect from an MSP CompTIA research indicates it is common for a managed service provider to include desktop and network management, applications management, and remote help desk in their service level agreements (SLA). Security (including firewall management), server management, storage, network monitoring, Business Continuity/DR, Backup as a service (Cloud Backup), Email, and Virtual desktop are often available as managed services. Benefits of Managed Services The managed service approach is favored by business for a variety of reasons. Managed services...

Does Your Business Have a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan?

Most businesses need a Backup and Disaster Recovery plan.  Disasters like fire, flood, earthquake, and more can bring your systems to a halt. Systems including order processing, invoicing, emails, call center, and business phone are critical for daily operations. Without a Backup and Disaster Recovery plan, organizations that encounter a disaster run the risk of going out of business. Here are some tips for getting your Backup and Disaster Recovery plan in place. Consider Risk of Downtime Understanding your business risk in the event of a disaster–and related downtime, data loss and other factors–is a good place to start. Factor in loss of productivity from your employees. This can be quantified by calculating employee salaries, wages and overhead for every hour of downtime. You can also calculate loss of revenue if you are unable to process orders, have to disrupt manufacturing, or lose the ability to fulfill customer demand. Also, add in any long-term damage from loss of reputation if you were to suffer a long-term outage. These costs easily add up to impact your company’s bottom line in the case of a disaster recovery scenario. Build  Your Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan Not all data is mission critical. Some systems may be more critical than others to get your company back operationally. Determine which systems are most important to your daily operations. Decide how much risk you are willing to take in terms of hours, days or weeks of downtime. Systems that keep your employees productive and revenue flowing in your business may need to take priority. You may need redundant failover for phones, email and order processing...

The Benefits of Fixed-Price IT Managed Services

More and more, we hear of security breaches that are derailing business’s activities, whether such problems are malicious software (“malware”) designed to grab privacy information from an employee, a computer crash or even a natural disaster such as an earthquake. A data breach can put customers’ personal information in peril, thereby causing embarrassment and even costing steep fines. This is why it is important to hire a reputable IT managed service provider before you need one. Businesses rely on their IT systems to do day-to-day business, and most of the time, things go as they should. But what about when they don’t? Proactive IT Support is Worry Free Taking a proactive approach to IT assistance is key. Before you need one, find a reputable IT provider. With your IT provider, draw up a managed service agreement/service level agreement so you know what services they will take care of – remote and local backup, recovering lost and corrupted files, network security updates and even unforeseen computer repairs. Keeping systems up to date will help prevent downtime. Proactive IT support converts the unexpected costs of reactive problem-solving into the more stable, budget-friendly cost of preventive maintenance and support. With fixed-price IT support, there are no surprises that can play havoc with the company’s budget and productivity. Aligning Your IT Service Delivery Costs With Business Value By fixing IT Service costs with an IT Managed Service agreement,  your service provider has incentive to proactively ensure everything is working smoothly. Instead of billing by the hour related to problems, a fixed-priced arrangement covers most incidents. It is in the best interest of your...

Migrating to the Cloud – How to Avoid Turbulence

Migrating to the Cloud can be bumpy if you are not prepared. Chances are you have already started migrating to the Cloud. Without realizing it, you may be accessing the Cloud by using mobile and web based applications and services that store and share your data from the Cloud. According to International Data Corporation, (IDC) public IT Cloud services (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) spending will reach $127 billion in 2018. The Cloud will outpace the total IT market at a rate of more than five times. With this shift, companies are migrating to the Cloud at a rapid pace, so it is important to plan your Cloud migration to avoid any unnecessary turbulence. Low Hanging Fruit for Cloud Migration Many applications lend themselves to Cloud migration. Communications and collaboration applications including Email, Voice and Web conferencing are great places to start your Cloud Migration. The Cloud can offer a secure, reliable and affordable alternative to maintaining these systems on premise. Along with providing additional capability, such as, File Sync and Sharing, previously unavailable from premise based solutions. Many companies have started their Cloud migrations with these subscription services to gain quick benefits from Cloud Computing. Planning Your Cloud Migration Moving your applications and their data to the Cloud, along with reliable data protection and online backup, should be carefully planned. First, determine which applications are candidates for Cloud Computing. When moving files, applications and back ups for data protection to the Cloud, consider your data volumes and network bandwidth. When this business infrastructure is in the Cloud you will need reliable connectivity to access critical information. Maintaining Security in...
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