What is your UC Plan Missing?

The term Unified Communications (UC) encompasses a large scope of solutions. From instant messaging platforms, video conferencing, and file sharing programs, to mobile applications. The common denominator of UC solutions for the enterprise is the platform’s ability to increase productivity, flexibility, and collaboration in the workplace. Increased collaboration includes internal team collaboration− between marketing and the call center for example− as well as communication with external audiences such as partners, supply chain companies, vendors and customers.  

The UC industry continues to evolve with a number of marketplace consolidations. Chris Wilder from Moor Insights and Strategy, cites consolidation in the space, such as the merger between Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent in addition to Cisco Systems’ numerous acquisitions, as part of this trend. He believes marketplace consolidation will continue to be a transformative force on the UC market (Source: Forbes).  Moving beyond traditional unified communications solutions like Microsoft’s Skype, Slack, and Google Hangouts, UC technologies will continue to expand particularly into the mobile space.  Here are some other important trends to keep in mind if you’re considering re-invigorating your UC strategy.

  • Moving beyond the hype! Real benefits of Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC)- WebRTC technology makes it possible to extend features like voice and video into any desktop or mobile web browser. It allows for peer to peer, encrypted communications in the browser. What does that actually mean? In a nutshell, WebRTC lets users streamline voice and video calls and tie into screen sharing and multi-media instant messaging tools all at once. It is an open source alternative to proprietary technology used by traditional UC vendor applications. It can run on top browsers, including Chrome and Firefox and soon Safari (if the rumors are true!). The fact that Slack and even Facebook messenger are now supporting WebRTC technology points to the fact that it’s gaining traction as a viable alternative protocol of new communication and collaboration apps.
  • Consider mobile device management- With the proliferation of consumer video and voice applications (Youtube, Facetime, Skype) it’s no wonder employees expect the same high-quality experience from all applications at all times− whether they are using a tablet at home, in a client office, or they are on the corporate network. A user could even be a laptop on free WIFI at the airport; regardless, they want a seamless experience. Individuals want a unified and intuitive user experience, where mobile devices and smartphones are reliable and the primary means of business communications.  

This brings a new set of challenges, including ensuring communications are secure and real-time application performance is high, even when it’s out of the control of the IT department (public WIFI). Many companies are turning towards cloud-based hosted Mobile Device Management Solutions (MDM) for help. Not only are these providers delivering the networks and bandwidth to run these applications, they are taking it a step further to ensure the end-user experience is high. Providers can help set up a secure platform that allows users to exchange sensitive corporate information on mobile devices and through UC platforms seamlessly.

  • Embedded UC into more applications− The emerging WebRTC standard and standard session initiation protocol (SIP), makes it easy to see the massive productivity potential of UC-enabled apps. For instance, what would happen if you were able to integrate secure, instant messaging capabilities into your CRM system like SalesForce? Or, if you could allow VoIP calls to be made directly from those applications after double-clicking on a contact (even ones accessed on a mobile device)? In this same example, imagine if a customer support manager could make a call to a customer directly from SalesForce. And then, they could record and archive that interaction by linking that CRM record to an enterprise DropBox account. What would that do for productivity? The potential synergies with UC and the applications that employees use most are exponential.

With application performance, Quality of Service (QoS) and security challenges that come with enterprise communication, many believe that Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) will also continue to be an area for expansion.  It’s easy to make the case, considering employees are becoming more dispersed and workforces are becoming more mobile and global every day. A cloud and hybrid service model looks promising in helping to deliver the performance, security and scalability required for competitive enterprises.

Is Security as a service right for your business?

With the growing complexity of IT environments and increased security threats, it’s no surprise that corporate spending on information security products and services continues to rise. In fact, Gartner predicts that worldwide spending on information security products and services will reach $81.6 billion in 2016. That is an increase of 7.9 percent over 2015 numbers. Gartner also expects secure web gateways (SWGs) to maintain growth of 5 to 10 percent through 2020. This is due to the fact that companies depend on this infrastructure to support detection and response approaches of IT security management (Source: Gartner).

The TCO for security products (i.e. firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDSs), IP-VPNs, end-point threat protection, authentication and vulnerability assessment) can be a barrier for many small to mid-size organizations. The total lifecycle costs for security products should include the product costs as well as technical support and maintenance. Faced with these challenges, many organizations are looking to complement their internal IT teams. Support and services from security vendors is one way to build a tighter and more scalable corporate security framework. Security-as-a-Service solutions (on premise or cloud) are in high demand because these services combine the very best of detection and response strategies along with the right mix of tools and expertise.

If you’re considering adding a security-as-a-service partner to your governance and control framework, consider these recommendations:

  • Go beyond compliance– Keeping pace with the latest regulatory compliance requirements is necessary from a legal standpoint. However, it may leave your company behind the eight ball when it comes to protection from current vulnerabilities. Keep in mind, a compliance approach vs. a risk-based program can leave you reliant on out-of-date benchmarks and risk assessments and as a result vulnerable to unwanted threats. Not only that, even if you’re not focused in healthcare or financial services industries, there are reasons to be aware of continuous rule changes. Regulations from Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or the USA Patriot Act, can have downstream impacts on your business.
  • Focus on detection and response– We’d like to think that we can thwart threats with the right security solutions. But, investment in modern security equipment can only take you so far. Many believe security threats are a consistent and growing cost of doing business. Based on a study by the Ponemon Institute, the average total cost of a data breach increased to $4 million in 2016. Researchers believe the biggest cost of a data breach is lost business due to a loss of trust. This means that while you cannot defend your organization entirely from security holes, you can certainly make it worse by not being proactive, responsive and transparent if and when a breach is exposed. (Source: Formtek). While the concepts of security and transparency generally don’t belong in the same sentience, in the case of responding to a data breach, they do. It is imperative that organizations have the security framework in place (SWGs, encryption and endpoint security solutions) to eliminate the threat as well as a communication plan in place should breaches happen. Open communication with consistent and responsive messaging will go a long way in rebuilding trust from stakeholders and show the underlying health of the company’s security policies.
  • The forecast is cloudy– Cloud-based options offer simplified and reliable data security programs. Not only that, security services can be delivered either as stand-alone features−such as deploying a Cloud-based IAM solution− or as part of a larger integrated SaaS package. Depending on the size of the enterprise, some organizations utilize a mixture of legacy and web-architected cloud and on premises applications. Because of the nature of cloud, these Security-as-a-Service options are highly scalable meaning they can expand as the business grows, or as regulations and compliance rules change. In general, cloud-based vendor security options can also reduce IT costs by minimizing capital investments and driving consistency in costs overtime. Network intrusion detection and web application security cloud services provide up-to-date protection of the network and firewall protection. These are critical for minimizing exposure to risk and data breaches. Another consideration for cloud-based security is encryption options. Many providers that offer cloud-based encryption services can encrypt data in-transit, in-use, and at-rest for public and private cloud web applications. If considering cloud-based encryption options, be sure to ask if this protection also extends to behind-the-firewall intranet applications.

When considering Security options, it’s important to keep in mind that services can be added to ‘fill the gaps’ in an organization’s overall security strategy. Cloud-based Security services, legacy and web-architected cloud and on premises applications, and other managed vendor security services can be used in sync to alleviate the burden on internal IT teams. The right mix of Security-as-a-Service options will help to reduce costs across your organization. These services also offer greater flexibility and a stronger position in meeting regulatory requirements, defending against security breaches, and responding to vulnerabilities.

The Future of Hybrid Cloud: Greater Flexibility and Unified Management

If you are skeptical about the hybrid cloud revolution and wondering if it’s here to stay, it’s time to look at new partnerships grabbing news headlines. Dell and EMC’s shareholders recently approved the proposed $67-billion-dollar merger; this is no doubt one example of hybrid cloud moving more and more into the mainstream (Source: ZDNet). It’s clear IT service providers are banking on the growing demand and adoption of these multi-cloud, hybrid environments from mid-size and enterprise organizations.

Flexible options in the future

Industry insiders believe Dell’s merger with EMC is in part setting the stage to help customers bridge the gap between legacy IT infrastructure and the modern cloud infrastructure. The idea is that Dell and other IT providers are looking to give customers greater control and flexibility of their IT infrastructures. In this scenario, customers have the ability to run certain workloads in the cloud− and probably more and more overtime- and mission-critical applications will run on traditional in-house systems or on private clouds. The next frontier is in providing ways to transfer data and workloads seamlessly between on-premise, private and public clouds as needed. This is happening through partnerships like EMC and Dell, as well as from services from managed service providers, built-in APIs and Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) platforms.

To this end, Microsoft Azure also recently announced the Azure Logic Apps, Microsoft’s Integration iPaaS platform that will sync these environments more closely (Source: Microsoft blog). They are working to offer a comprehensive hybrid integration platform so customers can connect traditional on-premise systems and cloud applications. Another example is AWS offering an iPaaS platform using TechConnect; they also rely on third parties for enterprise-to-cloud integrations. Select managed service providers can also furnish private cloud infrastructure with direct links to the AWS public cloud.

Benefits of the hybrid cloud

A primary factor driving the adoption of the hybrid cloud is the ability to seamlessly move existing applications between these multi-cloud environments.  Top benefits achieved in hybrid computing are increased flexibility to deliver IT resources, improved disaster recovery, and lower IT capital expenses. However, setting up your environment to realize these requires proper planning:

  • Re-architect for the cloud- With a more flexible application architecture, ideally you can redesign the application to use it in the cloud the same way you would run the workload in your own on-premise data center.
  • Map out a unified management plan- As mentioned earlier, vendors are working to offer a single set of management tools for IT groups to be able to effectively set up and use these hybrid architectures. Many providers are blending SaaS and on-premise–based management tools to monitor, configure, provision, and manage cloud infrastructure and applications. According to a report by IDC, by the end of 2017, over 80% of enterprise IT organizations will commit to hybrid cloud architectures (Source: IDC).This encompasses multiple public cloud services, as well as private cloud and/or non-cloud infrastructure resources. With management tools and policies built around data security, performance, and availability, organizations can essentially replicate the network applications for the cloud without requiring many changes. As hybrid cloud adoption increases it will become progressively important for service providers and cloud providers to offer more business-level automation software around these offerings.

In the ever-increasingly complex world of on-premise and cloud infrastructures, users need simplified and cost-effective cloud systems management software to regulate these environments. SaaS-based offerings and API-based integrations that link public cloud management services with on-premise tools, dashboards, and portals, will close the gap for IT managers. With a more flexible environment that enables the seamless transfer of workloads and more automated management tools, organizations can truly optimize the full range of resources and as a result control costs and increase competitiveness.

 

 

Things to Consider Before Switching to SD-WAN

The expectation of anytime anywhere access to bandwidth-intensive enterprise applications, including the growth of cloud services, has put a tremendous strain on traditional WAN infrastructures. Not only that, as remote offices have become the norm and mobile devices, video and real-time applications continue to increase, many believe legacy enterprise WAN has reached its breaking point.

 

Some see the introduction of Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) as the answer to this increased strain on Wide Area Networks (WAN). Software-defined WAN is an extension of Software Defined Networking (SDN) because it uses software and virtual network overlays to take advantage of available WAN connections. It also centralizes control of and visibility into the entire WAN fabric and thus lowers the cost and complexity of WAN management. SD-WAN technology applies policy-based routing of traffic across multiple WAN connections. It essentially pushes data on the most optimal route across the network. Packets travel the network to and from different branch locations, taking the best route, to avoid latency issues and network slowdowns. SD-WAN offers many significant benefits:

  • Lower costs- enterprises can rely more on lower cost, public broadband and less on MPLS networks.
  • Flexible management and reduced complexity- SD-WAN routes and reroutes traffic based on the current state of the network, as configured by policies.
  • Greater redundancy options- Predetermined routes are created and data is automatically re-routed from primary to secondary Internet connection. 

Although SD-WAN offers more agile internet connections at a lower price point, it’s important to remember that not all SD-WAN solutions or service providers that offer it, are created equal. If your organization is considering moving away from a traditional WAN, it’s important to consider possible limitations of the technology and how it may impact your business.

 

Bandwidth lock in 

Calculating the potential return on investment of adopting a SD-WAN seems relatively straight forward at first. Because software defined WAN uses public internet broadband and minimizes the need for private circuits, most companies report significant cost savings. Companies surveyed by IDC estimate a20% cost savings with SD-WAN, compared to traditional WAN deployments. (Source: IDC July 2016).However, consider the fact that your organization may be locked into a multi-year deal on private circuits. Downsizing could trigger severe penalties or fines for early termination. This and other service-level changes could further impact ROI, meaning it will take longer for your SD-WAN technology to pay for itself.

Challenging transitions

Just like any changes involving the enterprise network, transitions can create complications very quickly−especially when manual processes are involved.  Configuration mistakes will happen and, unfortunately, they’ll probably happen at severely inopportune times. Consider network automation tools and testing tools that help you maintain a logical IP network and the capabilities to manage the underlying infrastructure of the network. There are generally three types of software-defined WAN solutions and each has its advantages: Controller-based solutions auto-discover and configure network devices and can help in this transition period. Second, appliance-based overlay solutions create a virtualIP network between the vendor’s appliances across any network, combined with management tools.

Last, advanced automation and change control solutions enable and manage SD-WAN and the underlying infrastructure through existing hardware.

If you’re evaluating software-defined WAN solutions, look for one that gives you centralized control of your networking environment. With a central point of control, you’ll have simplified access to management, policy setting, analytics and reporting of the SD-WAN fabric, which will be critical during the transition and once the SD-WAN is fully deployed.

Models for growth?

Another factor when evaluating SD-WAN technology is how the architecture will scale with your business overtime. For instance, what options are there for adding remote offices or changing your network? Also, consider where your controller software will run.  In the cloud, as a virtual machine in the local network or in the datacenter? There are several SD-WAN products on the market and many are incompatible, so it’s important that part of your evaluation process includes looking at the potential long-term commitment to the vendor or service provider.

Many software-defined WANs give enterprises the ability to deploy a wide area network on-premise or cloud. Before selecting a vendor, ask the provider if they offer a pay-as-you-grow subscription model for cloud-based management.

Also, consider your organization’s long-term needs in terms of overall network efficiency. Some software-defined WAN solutions have analytics capabilities and allow administrators to analyze enterprise network traffic. Some also provide real-time and historical performance data to identify and address service issues. While network analytics may be too advanced during your initial SD-WAN deployment, don’t get stuck with a solution that has limited capabilities because of a shortsighted evaluation process.

If your organization is looking to improve performance of applications and services in the cloud, as well as improve connectivity and reduced complexity of remote office networks, an SD-WAN architecture offers many benefits for forward-thinking enterprises.  

3 Ways Unified Communication Has Changed The Remote Workforce

The trend of working from home offices or remote locations has definitely been gaining speed over the past few decades. According to a recent Gallup poll, 37% of individuals work from a location outside of the corporate office at least once per week. This is a significant gain from the less than 10% two decades ago. If you consider the number of people that work solely from a home office, the number of remote workers jumps up to a staggering 50%. Given the increased momentum of the remote worker trend, cloud providers are taking a closer look at unified communications and collaboration tools to enhance the productivity of mobile workers and the businesses they serve. With the constant innovation and enhancement of the technology and applications available to the remote workforce, unified communications is paving the way for remote collaboration and productivity.

UC is More Cost Effective Than Ever Before

In the past, unified communications and the full range of features that fall under it’s umbrella were reserved for enterprises with a large IT budget and “think outside the box” decision makers. However, as more UC providers enter the market and collaboration tools become a mandatory business functions rather than a nice-to-have feature, the cost of deploying and managing a UC solution is within reach of even the smallest of companies. Remote workers are reaping the benefits of years of improvements to communication and collaboration tools.

Face-to-Face Collaboration from Anywhere

One of the biggest challenges with remote teams is the lack of personal interaction between members. But as the cost of unified communications comes down, the number of price competitive video collaboration tools continues to rise. In years past, the only way a company could truly leverage a video conferencing solution was to invest thousands of dollars into large telepresence systems. As with the rest of UC, the latest options for video communication no longer require you to be connected to a particular room system to enjoy face-to-face communication. Instead, UC providers are shifting video platforms to accommodate mobile devices and internet browsers which opens the door to a more collaborative and easy to manage opportunity for remote workers.

Integrated Apps for Better Team Collaboration

Until a few years ago, email threads with multiple people and seemingly endless back and forth conversation were the norm in remote collaboration. We can all agree that while email certainly has a solid place in the world of business communications, it doesn’t effectively facilitate team collaboration. Take that a step further and think about the Word documents with endless versions for revisions or the painstaking process of saving files in various formats to accommodate for employees using older versions of a particular application. Apps like Google Drive, Box and Dropbox allow teams to collectively share files and collaborate on documents in real-time. Chat, IM&P and calendar sharing tools are also integrated into UC solutions, giving team members the ability to quickly engage with other members based on availability.

The future for unified communications and its effect on the remote workforce is guaranteed to bring about even more technological innovation and integration. As the cost of the technologies become more manageable across the board, it stands to reason that we will see a dramatic uptick in businesses of all sizes shifting from antiquated, disparate systems to a more unified way of working – even with teams scattered across the globe.

3 Virtualization Options That Can Strengthen Security

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock PhotosVirtualization has been around for a long time, and many have enjoyed its proven business benefits. With virtualization, businesses can increase energy efficiency, reduce power and operating costs, boost productivity, respond more quickly in a disaster, and much more. 

However, there are some businesses yet to embrace this “new” technology for fear of encountering unknown security risks. This is a common misconception. While virtualization cannot prevent all attacks, it can actually strengthen security when proper solutions are put in place. 

Here are three virtualization options businesses should consider and how each can minimize risk and enhance security. 

1. Server Virtualization

Server virtualization creates several virtual servers from a physical server and utilizes specialized software to maximize resources. 

When it comes to security, virtualized servers place data in a centralized location, which makes activity easier to manage and monitor. This also means suspicious activity or compromised applications are simpler to spot and correct.  

In the event of malware, virtualized servers also have the ability to separate applications that have been impacted from other applications, helping to better stop the virus in its tracks. Finally, virtualized servers offer the opportunity to build a highly efficient intrusion detection system, which can strengthen the security of the overall network. 

2. Network Virtualization

Like server virtualization, network virtualization creates and decouples multiple virtual networks from the foundational network hardware. For businesses transitioning to an overall virtual environment, virtual networks are able to better communicate with and support related systems. 

Known for its flexibility, network virtualization can create a more secure mobile environment. With the move to a more mobile workforce, virtualization offers team members an efficient and secure way to connect to company resources. It also allows administrators to centrally manage and monitor activity and provide secure access to those on the go. 

In addition, the actual foundation of a virtual network can enhance security. The network is made up of multiple tiers, and each tier can be protected by firewalls. This effectively cushions the network in three layers of protection. 

3. Desktop Virtualization 

Desktop virtualization uses a hypervisor, or specialized software, to deploy and manage virtual machines. 

Used in tandem with a server, company administrators are able to perform security updates, software upgrades, and more in a centralized place. Human error is greatly decreased, which also helps protect the network and systems. In addition, there is the opportunity to customize security settings to help meet changing and unique company needs. 

3 Ways to Reduce Virtualization Risk

There are risk factors when integrating any new technology. Here are a few virtualization best practices to help prevent potential issues. 

  • Use Authority. Strict access policies can reduce the number of users with permission to critical applications and can further protect a network. 
  • Unplug. Unused or obsolete virtual systems can pose a risk and should be removed from the network. 
  • Update. It’s important to remember that although servers, networks, and desktops may be virtual, they still require regular maintenance and updates to work properly. 

Overall, security should not be a barrier for adoption. There are far too many benefits that businesses can realize with virtualization, and when used properly, a stronger and more secure network and systems can be one such advantage.

 

Selecting the Optimal SIP Trunking Solution

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock PhotosWhen choosing a Session Internet Protocol (SIP) trunking solution for VoIP communications, two main options are available. Single-solution SIP trunk offerings bundle the SIP trunks and the data circuit for a one-stop-shop experience. Over-the-top solutions, on the other hand, separate data streams from the network, offering content over the circuit while the carrier continues to provide the access to the Internet.

Which option should a business choose? Both options present advantages and drawbacks; in truth, the right solution for each organization will depend on its individual requirements.

Consider the following when selecting an SIP trunking solution.

Simplicity

For some organizations, having one call to make when issues arise is paramount. Implementing single-solution SIP trunking eliminates the finger-pointing and back and forth that can happen when multiple vendors are involved with a deployment.

However, moving to an over-the-top offering will mean embracing the idea of change and being willing to move on from current vendors—unless the current vendor is willing to offer services individually. Keep in mind, too, that though single-solution offerings give the appearance of one vendor controlling the entire network, the reality is that most communications ultimately involve other networks not under the vendor’s control. 

Flexibility

Sometimes the stability and simplicity of working with one vendor is comfortable, but when a problem occurs that can’t be fixed in one area, having a single provider for all services might leave a company feeling stuck or forced to end its relationship with that provider. With over-the-top implementations, companies can terminate service with vendors where problems occur without affecting other services provided by different vendors.

Pricing

With a single-solution provider, there is usually only one monthly bill to pay and monitor. In addition, working with a single-solution provider might yield discounts or beneficial bundled pricing structures.

However, shopping around for individual providers who offer both the data circuit as well as the SIP trunking setup can lead to competitive prices that could be better than single-solution options.

Quality

At times, a single-solution provider deployment will result in a higher-quality experience because the network and content are under the complete control of one provider. Compatibility issues associated with layering products from different vendors can be eliminated when one vendor is providing the entire solution.

On the other hand, a single-solution provider might be adequate at providing all services, but providers specialized in either the data piece or the SIP trunks might individually be superior to the combined offering due to their focus on just one piece of the puzzle. A generalist company, like a telephone company, may provide several adequate services but not excel in any particular area.

Resiliency

Theoretically, single-solution providers have some redundancies built into their network to guarantee a degree of resiliency that over-the-top providers may not be able to offer. However, the separate circuits that create redundancy in the networks are usually provided by the same vendor, which can weaken resiliency. OTT providers in theory could create stronger resiliency by deploying circuits and media from different providers.

Deciding whether to use a single-solution offering or an OTT offering can be difficult. What it comes down to are these two questions: What is most important to the business? Which solution will best help the business achieve that?

Platform-as-a-Service: Mutual Benefits for IT and Developers

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock PhotosDevelopers have discovered that PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) is a powerful tool that allows them to streamline application development, and they often turn to public PaaS or sometimes rogue cloud solutions to harness the power of PaaS.

IT departments — tasked with maintaining control of company assets, security, and data — tend to be more mistrustful of public PaaS and certainly will lock down any attempts to use rogue solutions. A private PaaS, on the other hand, offers a middle ground that can give developers the power and tools they need while allowing IT to maintain control and protect company assets.

Specifically, there are six areas where IT might discover benefits of deploying a private PaaS solution:

Efficiency. Developers and IT each plays a critical role in getting applications to market, and they must work as a team to achieve that goal. Sometimes that teamwork can become bogged down in tickets and requests for changes. A private PaaS can automate the creation of the application environment, can configure files, and integrate code—all of which allows developers to create and fine-tune their own environments without having to involve IT. 

Dialog.  IT and developers can communicate online about application-related issues, including scaling, resource requests, and application restarts. While PaaS creates efficiencies and reduces some interaction by giving developers independence in environment creation, the remaining interactions between IT and developers are more productive because details about programming languages, runtimes, and frameworks are streamlined.

Reliability. A private PaaS can provide in-depth visual presentation of information about the application and what is happening with it, allowing for easy monitoring; more importantly, IT has the ability to react quickly to problems.

Security. The infrastructure layer of a Private PaaS is closely protected, but security extends beyond the infrastructure level. Businesses will want to analyze how the PaaS handles security with hosted applications, which could create an additional layer of security around individual applications.

Neutrality. Users of a private PaaS shouldn’t be locked in to one vendor’s offerings. They should choose a PaaS that will work with any vendor stack, cloud, IaaS, or hypervisor. The PaaS should be flexible enough to work with public clouds, other private clouds, or a hybrid solution.

Control. One benefit of a PaaS is that it exists on company premises, giving IT the control it needs to ensure all levels of security. Administration rights are controlled by IT for applications hosted in the cloud.

A private PaaS solution provides a mutually beneficial middle ground for developers and IT that facilitates the company’s ultimate goal of speeding the application development and deployment process.

Disaster Recovery Plans Ensure Business Continuity

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock PhotosModern companies breathe and live on files and data that are stored on servers while all work is done via the company network. If the company network went down, what would happen if no disaster recovery plan was in place?

No plan = No business

The business world abounds with stories of how disasters can lead to business collapse. These catastrophes often happen because of the lack of foolproof disaster recovery plans. When the disaster happens, the damage is too grave to overcome, and the companies affected may never be able to recover.

How unlikely is it that a disaster will happen? Power outages are often announced, but natural disasters, software and hardware failures, computer viruses, or human errors can happen any time and cause a business irrecoverable damage.

For some business owners, planning for something that may never happen is difficult to prioritize, but planning and not needing the plan is better than being unprepared if the unexpected were to happen.

The following points can help businesses craft a customized disaster recovery strategy that meets their requirements.

Make disaster recovery a day-to-day priority.

A proactive mindset means that individuals should think that disaster can happen any time and when least expected. Chief executives and senior officers must treat disaster recovery as a top priority in their boardroom agendas to prepare their companies to respond effectively to any eventuality—if it were to happen now or five years from now.

Craft a disaster recovery plan; train and communicate with all concerned.

Disaster recovery planning can be a daunting task with countless scenarios to analyze and various options to consider. The disaster recovery objective and mechanics must be made clear to all participants.

While the IT department is expected to be the lead group, all the other units in the organization are stakeholders as well. The IT head and unit managers need to come together to outline a chain of command and identify key personnel to take charge in emergency situations.

All participants must understand their assigned roles through continuing trainings and clear lines of communication.

Do regular and realistic testing.

The effectiveness of a disaster recovery program resides in its ability to respond positively to emergency situations. Rigorous testing done on a regular basis and under realistic conditions or simulated circumstances of actual emergencies is crucial to determine whether the plan is able to stand up to the most disruptive disasters.

Invest in fail-proof backup and redundancy systems.

The primary functions of a backup system are security and accessibility of data following a crisis. Off-site or third-party backup systems provide fail-proof protection for data— especially if disaster happens on-site like in cases of fires, floods, earthquakes, and internal theft. Similarly, establishing redundant servers for critical data in secure off-site locations provides an alternative access to data for faster recovery.

Establish a theft recovery plan.

Theft is a real threat that can wreak havoc on a company network–especially in today’s bring your own device (BYOD) environment. Laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices that employees use at work can get stolen, lost, or misplaced. Thanks to theft recovery solutions, lost computers can now be located and recovered. Data delete options also enable companies to remotely delete sensitive data on stolen computing devices.

Planning for the unknown minimizes unwanted surprises. The lack of a disaster recovery plan is a recipe for possible business failure. For companies that come prepared with a disaster recovery system that not only works in theory but also works in practice, they can continue to do what they are doing – business as usual – even after a disaster.

Securing Your Virtual Environment

virtual securityThe article talks about securing all your virtual environment. A person can accomplish this by abiding to Traditional agent-based security, agentless security or Light-agent security. Learn more about security platform that allows the best protection and includes the three main ways to protect your technology.

Read the full article here:
http://vmblog.com/archive/2014/07/09/securing-your-virtual-environment.aspx