What to Look for in a Work Computer

Short answer: the features that you need in a computer largely depend on the type of work that you do.

An architect who wants to generate 3D renderings of buildings, for instance, will need more processing power than a writer who simply wants to browse the internet and store Word files.

Although different professionals need unique features from their computers, there are some key items that you can look for when choosing a work computer.

The following guide will help you decide which features you need for your profession.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

A computer’s central processing unit (CPU) is one of its most essential parts. The CPU handles all of the instructions that software gives the computer. Without a good CPU, you’ll find that your work computer operates at a frustratingly slow pace.

At minimum, you want to find a computer with a dual-core CPU with a 2.5GHz speed. A dual-core CPU lets your computer focus on two operations simultaneously, so it comes in handy even if you just want to perform research online while taking notes on word processing software.

Related: Title Fight: Break/Fix vs. Managed IT Services

Today, many CPUs have four or eight cores, which makes them useful for analyzing large amounts of data and running multiple applications at the same time. AMD even makes a 16-core processor with an incredible speed of 4.0GHz.

Very few people need that much power, though.

You should only consider it if you make video games, edit HD video or perform other intensive tasks. The 16-core processor’s $950 price tag will keep most people away from this option.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

A computer’s random access memory (RAM) is nearly as important as its CPU. When your computer has an application or file open, it relies on RAM to store information. For instance, when you make changes to a Word document and save the file, the request happens with RAM before it gets sent to the computer’s hard drive.

Most people need 8GB of RAM for their work computers. If you need exceptional processing speed for video production, editing music or rendering graphics, then you should look for a computer with 16GB of RAM.

Hard Drive Storage Space

Computers store all of their long-term information in their hard drives. The amount of hard drive storage space that you have will define how many applications and files you can keep on your computer.

Related: 3 Types of Clouds: Which is Right for You?

The most important aspect of choosing a hard drive is knowing how much space you need for your operating system (OS) and software. If you primarily rely on cloud applications, then you may not need more than 16GB of storage. If you plan to use software stored on your computer, though, then you should look for a hard drive with at least 232GB of storage space.

Most people don’t need to worry too much about storing files on their work computers. If you ever run out of room on your computer, you can always use an external hard drive. You can buy an external hard drive with 4TB of space for about $200. Remember, though, that you still need enough room on your computer’s hard drive for your OS and software. You can run software from an external hard drive, but doing so often leads to poor performance that will make you inefficient.

Graphics Cards

If you work on video production, image rendering and other highly visual projects, then you should get a computer with a dedicated graphics card. The graphics card will handle much of the processing power needed to create and display your images.

Very few people, however, need additional graphics adapters. Most of today’s computers come with integrated graphics adapters that exceed work needs.

Trouble Choosing Workstations for Business?

Choosing a new work computer can feel like a challenging task. Once you know how you plan to use your computer, though, it becomes much easier to decide what features to look for while you browse your options.

It’s even more difficult when you consider that you’ll have to choose a machine that works for your entire office. Or, having to mix-and-match ones that work for people with different skillsets.

We’re here to help you keep your business running with the right technology. For any questions on the right computers, reach out to us. We’re happy to help.

How Expensive Is Downtime, Anyway?

If time is money, then how much money does downtime cost your business?

That’s a difficult question to answer. All companies have unique business plans and technologies. One thing is certain, though: downtime costs small businesses a lot of time and harms their reputations.

The damage that your company experiences depends on several factors, but you can expect downtime to harm you in the following ways.

Lost Revenue During Peak Hours

Most websites go down because their servers receive too many requests from internet users. As more people come to your e-commerce store, the server inches closer to capacity. Once it crosses the line, the server will crash and your store will go offline.

Suddenly, your business doesn’t have a way to sell its products and services to online shoppers.

That’s really bad news.

To make matters even worse, website downtime usually happens during peak hours when the most visitors come to your site. You have more people than usual trying to buy your products, but you can’t sell them anything because your website doesn’t work.

Since people do most of their shopping around 8 p.m., that’s probably when your website will fail. An hour of downtime, therefore, doesn’t mean that you’ve lost an hour of selling. It means that you’ve lost one of your most lucrative hours of selling.

The Cost of Reviving Your System

If your business struggles with downtime, then you probably don’t have an IT team that knows how to address the root of the problem. Since you don’t have the right personnel on staff, you’ll need to hire someone to revive your system and get everything back online.

Related: How to Create the Perfect BDR Plan

The good news is that most managed IT services are very affordable. The bad news is that you don’t have time to compare quotes. You need someone to solve the problem as quickly as possible.

In your rush to revive your system, you may choose a high-priced IT consultant that wants to take advantage of your situation. That person will probably solve your problem, but you’ll spend big bucks on the project.

Calculating the Cost of Downtime for Your Business

It’s relatively easy to talk generally about how expensive downtime is. In reality, downtime affects different companies in unique ways. The cost of downtime depends on factors like how many employees you have, how much of your sales take place online and how much you will have to pay someone to fix the problem.

A basic equation might look something like:

Cost of Downtime = Lost Revenue + Hourly Employee Pay + Recovery Fees

Unfortunately, not all factors related to downtime are easy to quantify. How do you determine the cost of:

  • Losing customers to your competitors.
  • Low employee morale.
  • Customer dissatisfaction.
  • Lost productivity while replying to angry customers.
  • Ripple effects in your supply chain.

No matter how much you think downtime costs your business, you’re probably wrong. The true cost is much higher.

Related: How the Cloud Fits Your Business

Defeating Downtime for Good

Instead of worrying about how much downtime will cost your business, hire an IT company that offers network, business continuity, security and help desk services. Having a team of professionals on your side will help you avoid downtime. If downtime is unavoidable, the team at GB Tech can minimize its impact on your business.

Contact GB Tech to learn more about avoiding downtime and scheduling maintenance outside of busy hours. With the right approach, you can protect your business while your competitors suffer the consequences of unplanned downtime.

How to Create the Perfect BDR Plan

Disasters come in many forms. From cyberattacks to hardware malfunctions, many things can end up taking down the network. Your perfect BDR plan prepares your business for these possibilities.

With a plan in place, everyone will know exactly what to do, you’ll know of the resources on hand, and who they should contact in the emergency. You don’t have a way to guarantee that a disaster never strikes, but the right BDR plan can minimize the impact and risk of the situation.

Start With the Vital Functions of Your Business

Your organization doesn’t need every single system recovered before you can resume operations. Look at the business processes and the infrastructure to see how much needs to come back up before you can resume limited operations.

This bare minimum baseline gives you a target for the recovery process.

Prioritize all of your business processes and systems similarly. It might take some time to get everything running again, but everyone will end up being able to get at least some work done during the process.

List the Available Resources for Disaster Recovery

What resources do you have access to help before, during and after the disaster?

Many of the tools and techniques require specialized knowledge, with a lot of the effort falling on your IT department. Emergency management personnel also play a key role in this process, but you may want to consider keeping a managed services provider on-hand for extra assistance during this stressful period.

Related: How the Cloud Fits Your Business

Keep the BDR budget in mind as well. You can’t schedule the perfect time for a disaster, so you have to account for the increased prices of urgent purchases.

Develop a Business Impact Report

It’s not enough to know that a disaster will negatively affect your business. You need a data-driven report that will explain exactly what gets impacted during various types of emergencies. This report acts as another prioritization tool, as you can address the areas that lose the most money during unexpected downtime first.

Related: Hurricane Harvey and Other Disasters: Why Your Business Needs a BDR Plan

Create a Communication Chain of Command

Miscommunication can lead to a slower recovery process. Everyone involved in the disaster recovery team should know who they need to contact and when. Have backup contacts for each step, so no one misses out on key information. Some disaster recovery and emergency management solutions can automate notifications and information sharing in these situations.

Test and Implement Disaster Recovery Solutions

Your BDR plan may look great on paper, but that doesn’t mean much when you try to restore a backup and it doesn’t have half the data you expect it to. When you implement disaster recovery solutions, have regularly scheduled tests and drills that run everyone through the complete process.

Related: How to Prepare Your Business for Unexpected Disasters

Not only do you ensure that the backups and other solutions work properly, but you also get staff members used to what they should be doing in a time-sensitive emergency.

Frequently Evaluate Your BDR Plan

The BDR plan that you use when your company first started out may not be suitable for your changing business needs a decade later. Review your BDR plan on a regular basis to ensure that recovery priorities are correct and all of the information is up to date. If you add new disaster recovery solutions, update the policies and procedures to account for that.

Did You Know? 21% of small-business owners without a written disaster plan said they don’t have one because it’s not a high priority for them.

Add in a review period following disasters so you can collect feedback and make any changes necessary to the current plan. You don’t want the same problem area coming up each time there’s unexpected downtime.

Disasters may come your company’s way throughout the years, but a strong BDR plan means that you’re ready to minimize the downtime.

Talk to GB Tech

When it comes to planning for disaster recovery, it’s best to plan well in advance. You should trust an expert in backup and disaster recovery to help you create a seamless plan for your business.

Questions? Reach out to us today, and we’ll have all the answers you’ll need.

Web App Security Best Practices – 2018 Edition

The typical web application has three vulnerabilities in it, according to the White Hat Security 2017 report. If the app gets breached, companies pay an average of $141 per record compromised in the attack.

This cost quickly adds up and has the potential to make companies go out of business, so it’s essential to follow the latest web app security best practices.

Without further ado, here’s a general list of the 2018 best practices for web application security.

Revisit Your Security Review Processes

App security solutions and processes are not set-it-and-forget-it. The available methods for fixing vulnerabilities and protecting your web apps change each year. If you’re still using older tactics, then you can’t defend against the latest types of attacks.

Schedule some time to go over your security review processes and bring them up to date as necessary.

Integrate Security Tools with Development Solutions

Your web app security measures shouldn’t come after the fact, especially if you have a fast-paced development cycle. When you have the security features running alongside automated building, you can reduce the risk of a vulnerability making it through into the final build. For teams using agile development methodologies, you also avoid waiting until the product is built to start working on the security side of things.

Use Container-Native Tools

Containers get held up as an excellent method to solve a lot of challenges in web application development, but your security tools may not be capable of protecting them. In some cases, limited visibility into the container makes it difficult to discover vulnerabilities.

Related: Why Secure Application Development Is a Necessity

Sometimes, the sheer scale of the containers exceeds what the solution can do. Container-native tools exist exactly for this environment.

The Principle of Least Privilege

You probably follow this principle for user accounts and other aspects of IT, so don’t forget about it when it comes to web applications. Focus on getting the application to use the fewest possible privileges to limit the attack surfaces available.

Change the Way You Use Cookies

Cookies give attackers an enticing attack surface that could give them access to sensitive information. If you choose to use cookies for your web application, limit the risks through encryption or prevent data storage in this form in the first place.

Related: Why Secure Application Development Is Critical to Conscious Companies

Document Your App Security Plan

A big part of security best practices is full security documentation. However, it’s still one that’s often overlooked. The advantage of documenting your app security plan is to have a top-down, comprehensive understanding of everything involved in protecting this software. You don’t lose this knowledge if key personnel leave your company or change positions. Instead, you build upon this document and optimize it with each iteration.

Focus on Priority Vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities come in many types, and some are more important than others. You should address a vulnerability that’s nearly impossible to exploit later. A security hole that exposes your main customer database, on the other hand, should be at the top of the list.

Balance the possibility of a hacker using the vulnerability against the damage that they could cause if they do. You have limited resources, although companies keep increasing cybersecurity budgets each year. This best practice helps you allocate your budget and proactively address these concerns.

Companies push for faster development cycles every day, which leaves app security lagging far behind. The best practices of 2018 acknowledge this challenging environment and put measures in place that can adapt to it.

And, if you need a refresher, we’re always around to talk to.

Your Quick-Start Web Application Security Checklist

When building a web application, keeping the data of you and your customers secure should be high on your list of priorities.

Unfortunately, not all web developers know about the best practices for cybersecurity — and if they do, they may not be bothered enough to spend time implementing them. According to recent surveys, 94% of web applications have at least one high-severity vulnerability, and 25% of them are susceptible to eight of the top 10 security flaws.

Leaving these vulnerabilities unpatched not only exposes your customers’ sensitive information, it puts your business at serious legal, financial and reputational risk.

For these reasons, developers need to pay close attention to the security of their websites.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the 6 most important factors that you should take into account when practicing secure web development.

1. Authentication and Passwords

Most websites use passwords to differentiate user accounts, but not all of them do so securely. Test your application’s password change and reset functionality, and make sure that all passwords are sufficiently long and complex.

Related: Why Secure Application Development Is a Necessity

Consider using measures such as CAPTCHA and multi-factor authentication. These make it more difficult for hackers to brute-force their way in and use stolen passwords.

2. Authorization

Once users have logged in, you must make sure that they are prevented from accessing unauthorized data and files. For example, users should not be able to view an unauthorized web page simply by entering it into the browser.

Make sure that sessions expire after a period of time. Also be sure that your website’s cookies are set only for the appropriate domains.

3. Secure Transmission

SSL certificates are how websites create a secure connection between the website’s server and the user’s browser. Your site’s SSL certificate should be currently valid and not expired.

Related: Why Secure Application Development Is Critical to Conscious Companies

Web pages that send and receive sensitive information, such as login forms, should use HTTPS and not HTTP. Make sure that HTTPS is also used for transmitting credentials and session tokens.

4. Input Validation

Two of the biggest website security exploits, cross-site scripting and SQL injection, occur because many sites fail to validate the input that users enter. In both exploits, the attacker inserts malicious code as part of the input, which the website server then accidentally executes.

Related: 5 Ways to Make Your Applications More Secure

In order to guard against these two vulnerabilities, your web application should validate and sanitize all input from the user.

5. File Uploads

If your application allows users to upload files to the server, you need to validate and sanitize them just as you would with any other input. Create a whitelist and blacklist of acceptable and unacceptable file types, and scan all files for viruses and malware. Place limits on how large the file can be and how often users can upload them.

6. Denial of Service

Like a crowd of angry protesters outside a building, denial of service (DoS) attacks attempt to flood your application’s server with illegitimate traffic. They do it to bring it down and prevent legitimate users from accessing it.

Distributed DoS attacks, such as the 2016 Dyn attack, assault your servers with traffic from thousands of different machines, making it much harder to block the attackers. If your application is important enough to be the target of a DoS attack, consider using multiple data centers in different geographical locations and working with a dedicated DoS mitigation service.

Need Some Help?

Keeping your web apps secure is important, but it’s not always easy. Choosing to partner with a web application security expert can help keep your software secure without sacrificing functionality.

If you’d like some help on your next project, just let us know – we’re more than happy to help.

5 Ways to Make Your Applications More Secure

For any company, the security of applications should be a key concern — especially with the cost of cybercrime rising so rapidly. With one study estimating that attacks will have cost businesses over $2 trillion by 2019, it’s no wonder that companies around the world are starting to really invest in application security.

It’s important to remember, however, that this security isn’t something that can be layered on during the final stages of development. Robust security requires effort and attention at all stages of the software development lifecycle. With that in mind, here are five ways that you can make your applications more secure.

1. Establish a Secure Mindset

Security should be in focus from the very beginning, even when gathering requirements for your application. Don’t neglect to consider security in addition to features and functionality. By examining potential misuses, vulnerabilities and risks at this early stage, you ensure that security is foundational to your finished product.

You’re also establishing a healthy mindset regarding security for future development.

2. Perform a Threat Analysis

In simple terms, a threat analysis identifies the assets which are most crucial to protect (for example, any assets storing transaction information should be a priority). Then, the analysis evaluates any vulnerabilities (for example, places where these assets interact with other assets or users).

With a sensible estimate both of the importance and the level of risk, you can rank threats so as to prioritize those that pose the greatest danger and those that are the most likely candidates for exploitation. You can undertake a threat analysis at any stage of development.

However, you should consider it early in the process to maximize its benefits.

3. Review and Test Code

Before deploying any code, it is vital to review it for any vulnerabilities that might have been introduced during development. You can do it during the testing and implementation stages. You can also review the code manually, although this requires a high level of expertise and an intensive amount of work. For this reason, most people prefer automated reviews.

Penetration testing is important, and it essentially involves exposing your application to a number of common attacks. This may reveal vulnerabilities which you can then address in accordance with your threat analysis.

4. Implement a Gate

A review gate is a way of ensuring only code that has passed certain parameters is deployed. The gate usually comes towards the end of the development life cycle. It sets out certain criteria that the software must fulfill in order to pass — whether that’s an automated code review or satisfactory results from a penetration test. This approach ensures that a security-centric mindset is there from the very beginning. It also provides a goal for teams to work towards.

5. Train Your Staff

A well-trained body of staff is an invaluable resource to any business. Be sure to train your team members to the latest standards in secure design. If you do that, you can avoid bad, non-secure practices throughout your development cycle. Providing specific training in secure development best practices also creates a culture in your workplace where security is prioritized and valued.

Conclusion

With high-profile leaks routinely causing embarrassment, loss of revenue and damage to reputation to companies around the world, security should be central to the development practices of all businesses. Listed above are a number of ways to start making your applications more safe and secure.

These steps, however, represent only some starting points on the road to robust and reliable security. Rather than navigating that road alone, many companies prefer to hire a managed security provider, who can oversee the entire development process, identify vulnerabilities and ensure peace of mind regarding the security of the finished product.

 

How Cloud Adoption Unlocks Unlimited Business Innovation

The cloud has made sweeping changes in the technology world that will be felt for years to come. Many companies rely on these solutions for critical business operations.

It’s not exactly a small operation. The public cloud services market hit $246.8 billion in 2017.

Now that cloud technology is more mature, organizations that held off on early adoption are in a position to benefit from innovation.

Here’s how they’re doing it.

Bring Your Own Device

Trying to configure network access for dozens of different mobile devices and laptops strains your IT resources. When you’re using a cloud-based system, you have less to worry about for user access.

Most cloud services are designed for anytime, anywhere access, so it doesn’t matter what hardware they use. Staff members get to use the systems that they’re most comfortable with, so you end up seeing a productivity boost as well.

Remote Work

The cloud removes the requirement for employees to stay anchored to a desk. Since nearly any device is fair game for accessing the public cloud resources, they can move away from their workstations.

You could have people working effectively when they’re on business trips or at field offices thousands of miles away. Each office could use the same tools as everyone else, giving remote workers the same access to tools that in-house staff members have.

Collaborative Environments

Many cloud platforms have APIs or native integration with third-party services. You can expand the capabilities of these services and make collaboration easier between departments. A multidisciplinary team can bring together their available resources and put them in place to speed a project along.

Multiple team members can work off of the same file and see the changes take place in real time. A centralized database configuration gives you greater visibility into the information that your organization has available. \

It also cuts down on the amount of data entry work that your staff does. When you have a strong cloud adoption strategy, they no longer need to take data from one application and type it into another one manually.

Eliminates Maintenance

Your IT staff has plenty of responsibilities that fill up their days already. They don’t always have time to handle all of the proactive maintenance that helps to optimize your infrastructure.

Cloud-based services use their own hardware to power the platform, rather than one of your own on-site servers. The IT technicians don’t need to worry about maintaining the hardware or dealing with many equipment issues that are related to that cloud service.

Reduces Upfront Costs

Deploying a completely new platform or application can take up a lot of your IT budget. You have to worry about licensing fees, ongoing support costs and the price associated with the hardware to run everything. The cloud service provider shoulders the equipment expenses. While you do have a monthly bill to worry about from the cloud services, the consistent ongoing costs are easy to handle compared to one massive upfront payment for hardware.

Cloud adoption is front and center for many organizations these days. It’s no longer a slowly developing market. Instead, it’s mature and ready to act as the basis for the next round of technological innovation.

So the question is… are you prepared to embrace the benefits of these cloud-based solutions?

 

Why Secure Application Development Is a Necessity

With news of devastating cyberattacks constantly in the headlines, secure software development is more important than ever. Yet, far too many applications remain vulnerable to exploits by malicious actors.

According to a 2016 survey, for example, 97% of Java applications use code with at least one security hole. Another study found that security vulnerabilities were present in at least 90% of web and mobile apps.

For the good of both you and your customers, security must be a priority at all stages of the software development lifecycle. Below, we’ll discuss how and why to incorporate security into your application development processes.

How to Bake Security Into the SDLC

The software development lifecycle (SDLC) traditionally consists of a series of key phases. They span from requirements gathering and design to testing and maintenance. Whether you use the waterfall (sequential) development model, or you prioritize speed and flexibility with the agile methodology, security can and should be a preeminent concern during this process.

Some helpful guidelines for making security a priority are:

  • Developers should be trained on the principles of secure programming. One good place to start is to check your applications for common vulnerabilities, such as the OWASP Top 10 security risks for web applications. OWASP also provides a reference guide for secure coding practices that developers should consult at regular intervals.
  • Keep the development tools and technologies that you use as up-to-date as possible. The massive 2017 Equifax data breach, for example, was caused by a vulnerability in the Apache Struts web application development framework that the company should have already patched.
  • Include automated application security testing as part of your testing processes.

Related: How to Prepare Your Business for Unexpected Disasters

Regulatory Considerations for Application Development

Beyond the standard best practices for secure development, companies in certain industries must take special care to protect their applications and data from unauthorized breaches.

For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires health care organizations to secure patients’ protected health information (PHI). Companies that suffer a data breach must report the attack soon after its discovery. They may face financial penalties if the information was not adequately protected.

Another security standard, PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), regulates how organizations may handle and store customers’ payment card information.

Related: Why You Must Never Neglect Software Testing

The 12 PCI-DSS requirements include the installation of a firewall and the encrypted transmission of cardholder data across open networks. Failure to meet these guidelines may result in harsh fines and even the revocation of your company’s ability to process credit cards.

The Role of MSPs During Software Testing

You may feel overwhelmed by the potential vulnerabilities and security flaws that you need to account for. But rest assured that you don’t have to go it alone. A growing number of companies are relying on managed security providers (MSPs) to assist them with application security testing during the development process.

By working with an MSP, you can focus on your core business functions while leaving the security tests to the experts. MSPs will subject your application to a variety of both automated and manual tests. Automated vulnerability scanners can immediately identify a number of weaknesses and flaws, while manual “penetration tests” evaluate the software’s resiliency to attack.

Partnering with an MSP can give you high-quality, efficient and timely security tests so that you can keep pace with your development schedule without sacrificing software quality.

How the Cloud Fits Your Business

In the past, only large corporations considered moving their systems to the cloud. Today, cloud computing can fit any size business. In fact, migrating to the cloud offers a variety of benefits for organizations of all sizes. With an effective migration plan, organizations of all sizes can use the power of cloud computing to accelerate growth.

Cloud Computing is Becoming a Necessity

Small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) are facing the same type of heavy competition as their larger brethren. Cloud computing is revealing itself as a significant competitive advantage for SMBs and has moved from a viable alternative to a necessary tool.

Financial Benefits: Cloud Computing Will Tie Some Benefits Directly to Cost Savings

  • When you use cloud storage and cloud services, you naturally experience economies of scale. And, your computing resources can easily adjust to workload variations.

 

  • Your power consumption will automatically decrease, and you will spend less on managing a large number of onsite systems.

Related: 3 Types of Clouds: Which is Right for You?

  • Personnel costs will drop significantly. Often, the largest share of the IT budget goes to maintaining staff. When you migrate to the cloud, some of the personnel savings you experience locally will help to pay for your cloud services. In addition, your IT staff can then concentrate on doing more strategic tasks and acquiring new skills.

 

  • Migrating to the cloud doesn’t require any capital outlay. This is a definite advantage for SMBs that need to find capital for increasing their in-house operations.

 

  • Your SMB will only pay for the power you need. Maintaining flexibility in in-house systems typically requires the acquisition of more computing power than is needed on a daily basis. It’s critical to be able to handle failures or emergencies, as well as quick increases in sales. With cloud computing, the systems can be adjusted easily and only on an as-needed basis.

 

  • Cloud computing is a great way to level the playing field against larger competitors, allowing an SMB to acquire a larger market share.

Competitive Benefits: Some Benefits of Cloud Computing Will Give SMBs More Capabilities That They Can Apply to Win Against Competitors

  • Gathering and analyzing business data provides a significant competitive advantage through more accurate and faster decision making. The use of cloud computing provides the cloud storage and power needed to store and analyze a meaningful amount of business intelligence.

Related: What Does the Modern Cloud Look Like?

  • Information gathered by AlertLogic and Microsoft indicate that businesses using cloud computing have actually experienced a lower rate of security problems than those using in-house data centers. Besides that, 94 percent of SMBs have seen better security due to keeping systems, spam filters and antivirus programs up to date.

 

  • Cloud computing demonstrably provides more uptime, as 75% of SMBs report improved availability after migrating to the cloud.

Well-Planned Migration Is Critical

Migrating to the cloud effectively requires careful planning. While many SMBs report better security when cloud computing is used, it’s still up to the individuals planning the migration to ensure that security is at the top of the list of requirements. These are the most critical considerations for your migration.

  • Start small: Don’t try to migrate all of your systems at one time. Start small to get experience in completing the migration.

 

  • Choose cloud service providers carefully: Make sure you’re working with trusted and reliable suppliers of both cloud technology and the cloud support services you’ll need to make the migration successful.

 

  • Diversify passwords and user permissions: The migration is an excellent time to ensure that all the access points to your system are secure. Enforce secure passwords and restrict permissions to the greatest extent possible, and educate employees on the need for security.

 

  • Confirm backup procedures: Ensure that the cloud technology supplier you work with has a backup configuration that will allow you to access files from previous versions in the event of a problem.

Related: The Managed Services Pre-flight Checklist  

Next Steps

If you’re not one of the 66% of SMBs that see technology as a key success factor for meeting business objectives, now would be a good time to revisit that issue. As digital transformation affects more of the business community, using cloud computing will only become more critical for success.

 

3 Types of Clouds: Which is Right for You?

If your business doesn’t have a solid plan for backing up data, you’re tempting fate. Not only are your physical hard drives and servers limited by finite space, but if they crash you may be in serious trouble.

Cloud storage is becoming the go-to approach for keeping your data secure and always accessible. The cloud doesn’t require any physical equipment on your side and there are many different platforms and pricing tiers.

In other words, there’s bound to be a cloud service that meets your needs.

The three general types of cloud storage services are public, private and hybrid. But do you know enough about your options?

Find out what makes each cloud setup unique and the pros and cons for business use.

Related: What Does the Modern Cloud Look Like?

Public Cloud

Public cloud storage is owned and operated by a third-party provider, managed in a remote data center and delivered over the internet. You use a subscription service to manage pricing and service levels. Multiple businesses (“tenants”) share these remote resources to efficiently and reliably support applications and data for online, testing and development services.

Pros: Public cloud services are usually very cost-effective because you are sharing costs and maximizing reliability across more servers. You benefit from the latest and greatest technology without having to purchase it, house it, or manage it.

This type of storage is also scalable, so you can buy more as your business grows. Public cloud services have end-to-end encryption to keep your data safe. The off-site data center location gives you extra redundancy for your working and backup data.

Cons: The public cloud service will be owned and operated by a third-party provider, so the terms and conditions could change. That can affect the cost, level of service (storage or bandwidth) or performance you expect.

You are also limited in which data and applications you can locate in the shared public cloud. After all, it’s, not a dedicated environment. You’ll lose a certain amount of control and security with public cloud storage, in exchange for savings and simplicity.

Related: How Does the Cloud Work, and How Does It Benefit Your Business?

Private Cloud

Private cloud storage is just as it sounds: a totally private storage center. The data center can be located on-site at your business or hosted remotely with a service provider, but the equipment and software are not shared with any other entity. Government, financial and healthcare organizations often favor private cloud for their business-critical operations.

Pros: With total control over the infrastructure and application resources, you have increased security and flexibility with a private cloud setup. Private cloud servers are the perfect solution for securing and scaling critical customer and financial systems to meet compliance demands. You can also customize a private cloud to your specific IT requirements.

Cons: With greater control comes greater expense. A private cloud server requires additional  maintenance, whether you pay a provider or hire dedicated staff for the extra oversight. Hosting servers on-site also increases your risk of threat from natural disasters or internal breach.

Related: From Obscurity to Ubiquity: How the Cloud Became A Tech Essential

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud solutions strike a balance between public and private clouds. You can operate certain critical systems on your dedicated server and handle  high-volume, lower-security activity on a remote public server. Many businesses use a public server for general access applications and private cloud storage for daily internal operations and reporting.

Pros: A hybrid cloud model allows you to mitigate the higher cost of a private cloud setup by utilizing public cloud options for less critical applications or data. You can enjoy the efficiency of the public cloud alongside the control of the private option. The hybrid setup also allows for greater operational flexibility. Hyprid clouds do that by balancing or sharing resources during seasonal activity peaks that may temporarily overload private cloud capacity.

Cons: Operating resources across two different environments can make data backup and recovery more complicated depending on how you split your storage. You will also need to monitor multiple security protocols and carefully organize your operational processes to ensure full coverage, performance and availability.

Cloud computing and storage is a convenient and increasingly common way to more effectively manage diverse applications and data for businesses of all sizes. Combined with managed IT services, cloud computing options can create a seamless network solution.

Related: The Managed Services Pre-flight Checklist