How is Your Network Health?

Your network is the backbone of your IT Infrastructure. Your network health is also an integral part of your defense against Cyber threat. Cloud Computing, Communications and Collaboration, Data Protection, and Digital Transformation put more reliance on your network.  This begs the question, how is your network health? Ask yourself these three questions to find out the answer… How Well Does Your Network Perform? You rely on your network to communicate with your employees, customers, prospects, and suppliers. What’s more, your network links your company to public and private cloud services and applications that are critical to your business operations. Performance bottlenecks from social media, streaming applications, faulty hardware, and lost connections can impact your employees’ productivity. Offsite backup and other IT functions also rely on your network. Ensuring network health keeps systems running smoothly and available when you need them. How Secure is Your Network? Network security is an imperative for businesses of all sizes. Your business may face additional compliance requirements–for example, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Data protections standards are rapidly evolving, which could increase your responsibility and exposure to fines and penalties. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the European Union’s data protection rules, could apply to your business regardless of your location. Keeping your network in compliance through monitoring, endpoint protection, content filtering, and other network security detection and protection technologies is a good start. Train your employees on the implications of phishing emails and how to identify one. Teach them to avoid malicious links in unsolicited scam emails. Underscore the importance of a strong password and steps to take to keep...

Can A Business Continuity Plan Save Your Reputation?

Reputation Management is a hot topic in the boardroom these days. Having a solid business continuity plan could make or break your company’s ability to survive a data breach or other systems failure that could tarnish your hard-earned reputation. Company news about data loss, systems downtime and other unplanned interruptions occur with regularity. According to technology research firm Gartner, a business that has a catastrophic data event has a two-year survival rate of just 6%. Surprisingly, your company can avoid these scenarios by having a solid BC/DR Plan. It is no surprise that recent research by MarketsandMarkets forecasts the spend on DR as a Service (DRaaS) to grow from $1.68 Billion in 2017 in revenue to $11.11 Billion by 2020. Read on to find out how a Business Continuity Plan could save your business. Understand Your Business Continuity Risk and Exposure A great place to start with Business Continuity planning is a review of your company policies and procedures. Your business continuity policies should — in addition to identifying the technical standards for managing your company’s applications, data, and related infrastructure — should identify acceptable risk, what your employees will do in a disaster recovery scenario, and identify any compliance requirements. It is important to understand what information is most important and to consider the risks of suffering a data loss. What would be the impact to your revenue, productivity and reputation? If you could not access your information, or it was subject to data breach, how may that impact your customers’ trust and your business’s reputation? An Ounce of Planning is Worth a Pound of Cure Ensure you...

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...

Rethinking Wide Area Networking

There is a shift in how businesses use technology. New applications, including Voice over IP VoIP phone systems, Cloud Based Email, File Sync & Sharing all require solid network infrastructure. According to a recent report from the Enterprise Strategy Group, Demonstrating SD-WAN Business Value: Rethinking WAN for a Modern Age, distributed organizations with multiple Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) locations may need to reduce unnecessary deployment and management of network infrastructure. Elements of infrastructure, such as head-end devices or appliances at branches, can be replaced with simple appliances supported by Cloud-based services. Here is a highlight of ESG’s findings: Simplify your Wide Area Network Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) technology can act as an enabler for Hybrid WAN technology by combining multiple transports, such as MPLS networks and business-class broadband networking. Managing your network can be streamlined by centralizing policy management, monitoring, and systems for troubleshooting. What’s more, reducing dependency on specific network suppliers and transport mechanisms results in the flexibility to find lower-cost alternates without compromising service levels. Minimize Operational Expense By using a zero-touch deployment model, companies can reduce truck rolls by remotely managing installation, configuration updates, and troubleshooting. Like Software as a Service (SaaS) works for application deployment, SD-WAN can remove the complexity of managing a Wide Area Network (WAN) for Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) environments. Reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of Your Wide Area Network Implementing SD-WAN technology is expected to save costs related to bandwidth by providing more flexible networking options. In addition, by reducing the operating expense of service delivery related to installation, configuration, operations, and management additional costs will be...
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