Tag Archives: SMB

Will the G-Cloud be a success?

Since it’s full launch in October 2012, the G-Cloud framework has far from been a rip-roaring success. The brief for the G-Cloud gave it 3 major goals, all of which were a challenge in themselves. Primarily, the G-Cloud framework was designed to open the eyes of the public sector to the functional and cost benefits of cloud computing, whilst at the same time making it easier for public departments to find exactly what they needed without having to put out a full tender or competition. As a by product of this it was hoped that government (both national and local) would use the framework to buy from SMBs, and give a much needed boost in revenue to hundreds of companies up and down Britain.

So in short, the G-Cloud was designed to revolutionise the IT departments of the UK government, make the procurement of new technology more efficient and give a boost to the UK technology sector during a tough time for all businesses. It’s easy to see how any initiative, government led or not, would struggle to achieve any one of those goals, never mind all three. Having said that, the G-Cloud is still relatively new so it can’t be written off just yet.

The inspiration for the G-Cloud was to improve the speed at which new services could be procured, and existing services improved upon. There was also a feeling among critics that the typical providers from big business were expensive and didn’t always provide systems specifically designed for the job. This resulted in bad value for money as councils and government departments ended up paying a lot for something not particularly well suited to the job.

Despite all of this good intention, the G-Cloud has been slow to pick up momentum. Many suppliers who have made it on to the three incarnations are yet to earn a penny from doing so, and some, despite being on the framework, are waiting to be awarded with the pan-government accreditation necessary to do business on the G-Cloud. This is being put down to a combination of the number of applicants, as well as many suppliers underestimating the standards required. Despite this, the Cabinet Office claims three-quarters of all suppliers on the G-Cloud are SMBs.

Graeme Swan, of Ernst & Young, gave his thoughts on the G-Cloud in an interview with V3 magazine. He praises the cabinet office for their promotion and leadership of the G-Cloud initiative, but criticised the public sector, claiming “no one” uses it because “government departments don’t understand how to buy” from it, nor do they know how to integrate new services with their existing setup, citing a lack of “service-oriented-architecture” that would allow departments to pick and choose services without having to completely overhaul their infrastructure.

The latter point is particularly disappointing, as that is one of the main benefits of cloud computing; the ability to cherry pick features but without the painful integration procedure.†However, cloud computing is very much on the rise in general, and so it can only be a matter of time until the public sector embraces it. It remains to be seen whether this will this be as a result of the G-Cloud, or just a reflection of normal industry practices.

 

Asia Unprepared For Disaster: Symantec reveal SMBs in Asia have no DR

Studies have indicated that SMBs (small and medium sized businesses) in the Asia-Pacific region are simply not prepared enough to deal with IT disasters, as only 48% of companies have Disaster Recovery procedures in place.

Symantec found that 12% of Asia Pacific SMBs had no form of DR plan whatsoever and 44% of these did not consider computer systems critical to their business. A further 28% stated that disaster preparedness was not a top priority.

Such a lack of preparation is surprising considering the typical SMB experienced 5 outages within the last 12 months. The leading causes of this were cyber attacks, power outages, upgrades and employee errors.

The data at the heart of such SMBs is simply not protected. Less than half of all SMBs back up their data weekly and only 21% backup daily. Forty-five percent of businesses said that they would loose at least 40% of their data in the event of a disaster, and it is estimated that such an outage would cost their customers up to $45,000 per day. This is one of the main issues in that a disaster not only affects the vendor directly, but also their end clients.

The survey revealed that most businesses are not making disaster recovery a main priority until they experience some form of significant data loss. Fifty-four percent of businesses which have put some form of implementation in place have done so in the last six months. However only 28% of companies have actually tried and tested their disaster recovery procedures, which is critical to being prepared.

Findings also reveal that the cost of being unprepared is huge, placing an SMB under real risk of going out of business. The survey revealed that in addition to costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, any downtime often causes customers to take their business elsewhere.

ďDisasters are unpredictable and can happened due to natural causes, human errors or IT systems failures. SMBs which handle sensitive data such as customer records, credit card details or personal files, cannot afford to risk data loss incidents,Ē said David Dzienciol, Symantecís vice president for SMB and Channels, Asia Pacific and Japan.

ďThe research shows that SMBs still havenít recognised the tremendous impact of a disaster. Simple planning can enable SMBs to protect their information in the event of a disaster, which in turn will help them build trust with their customers.Ē

In India for instance it is thought that SMBs have yet to recognise the huge impact which disaster can have according to Vineet Sood, the head of channels and alliances at Symantec India.

SMBs must act quickly to put Disaster Recovery Procedures in place and ensure that data is secure, in any eventuality.

Business Continuity and Essential Integration of IT services.

Being prepared is the key for any organisation whether it is an SMB or a huge enterprise and is the difference between successfully managing a disaster and company closure.

Martin Kuhlmann a StorVault Country Manager claims that an integrated IT solution plays a vital role in protecting and restoring data.

Kuhlmann highlights that companies often donít want to even consider disasters and it is natural to consider that such an eventuality is not possible. SMBs in particular wish to remain positive in outlook, at their early stages and not consider the consequences of the worst happening.

However the range of disasters which can occur is vast, and can range from an earthquake to a computer virus. Implementing a solution is crucial for any business to continue operating, no matter what the cause of the disruption.

In addition new IT governance legislation is another factor, which is ensuring that businesses move to implement Disaster Recovery solutions.

When considering a backup and recovery solution there are certain criteria which are essential to bear in mind. It is imperative that the system is reliable, automated and easy to use as well as being able to handle large scale data growth.

The following criteria also need to be decided upon before deciding on a solution:

Data should be encrypted before and during transmission and should remain encrypted whilst in storage.

There should be the opportunity to monitor backups through a secure and centralised interface, and this should be accessible from anywhere on the web.

The solution should also be a broad platform so that data support is unified in a single solution which works across virtually every combination of platform and application.

Disaster Recovery in SMB’s

The latest research conducted by Symantec has revealed that the majority of SMBs have no Disaster Recovery plan in place. This survey involved over 1,288 businesses worldwide each containing between 5 and 1,000 employees.

Over 50% of companies surveyed have no disaster plan in place and 23% of companies donít even conduct backups on a weekly basis. This is despite 65% of these companies operating within areas susceptible to natural disasters.

Twenty nine percent of companies admitted they had experienced some form of data loss in the past. Such data loss was generally found to occur through humans error, hardware failure, a natural disasters or theft.

Statistics show that the average SMB experienced 6 computer outages within the last year. It appears that despite such figures many SMBs ďstill think it canít happen to them.Ē Says Bernard Laroche, senior director, SMB product marketing.

The main reason appears to be that SMBs simply donít recognise IT as an essential element of their operation (41%). Although such businesses may not always be using very sophisticated software they often underestimate their reliance on their IT infrastructure. Secondly the usual story is that companies donít tend to investigate a disaster recovery plan until some form of data loss has already occurred, and itís too late.

It is vital that SMBs on the whole become more familiar with exactly what data they have, where the data resides and what aspect of that data it would be that would be missed most.

A solution must ensure data resides offsite, is secure and available for recovery at any time. The options include tape backup, external media and Online Backup. Of course the main advantage of backing up online over the rest is the convenience, ease of use and automation the solution allows. The SMB should also ensure that which ever supplier they opt for offers security, monitoring and support. Furthermore the supplier should help companies conduct regular disaster recovery tests in order to ensure the solution is running smoothly.

The simple fact is that SMBs cannot afford to lose data and above all cannot afford to lose critical customer information.

Most small businesses do not plan for disaster recovery

A report published by security firm Symantec has found that 57 per cent of the world’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), could be at risk in the event of a disaster as they have no plan for recovery or business continuity.

The annual study shows that in 2011, the number of businesses without adequate disaster recovery planning has actually risen when compared to last year, when just 47 per cent of SMBs lacked an adequate plan of action.

SMBs were considered to be firms with under 1000 employees and almost 1210 businesses were questioned as part of the survey, with those organisations staffed by under 100 people being at the greatest risk.

Symantec’s Bernard Laroche, said that SMBs are showing that they are still unable to protect themselves in the event of a catastrophic event, whether it be severe weather conditions, downtime or data loss.

Forty-one per cent of the businesses who admitted to lacking a plan for disaster recovery went on to mention that they had never even thought about the concept of preparing for disasters. Thirty-six per cent said that they planned to create contingencies in the first half of the year.

Startlingly, it was suggested by 52 per cent of those without disaster recovery plans that IT systems are not intrinsically important to the operation of a modern business, which equates to a quarter of the total polled.

Mr Laroche said that this statistic alone was one of the most worrying unearthed by the study, particularly since the businesses questioned operate in various sectors and markets.

In the past 12 months an average SMB could expect to experience six periods of downtime, according to the study. Among the biggest threats to business continuity were power outages, natural disasters and the activities of cybercriminals.

Each day of downtime costs an average of £8000 for SMBs and serious data loss by customers and clients has also resulted, because of technical issues and halted services, with a third of respondents noting that this was the case.

Survey shows benefits of virtualisation for SMBs

A new study by a leading international virtualisation firm has found that data protection is the one of the most significant benefits afforded to small and medium sized businesses by virtualisation.

Over the last two years a third of all small businesses have suffered data loss as a result of data centre failures and as such, over half of all the respondents said that the protection and restoration of their data would be significant considerations throughout 2010.

The most worrying statistic brought to light by the survey is the news that a fifth of small businesses had been unable to recover any data after the failure of their backup systems, with a resultant loss of business occurring in most cases.

Only 47 per cent of respondents said that their business had renewed its disaster recovery program since 2007, whilst the remaining 53 per cent indicated that they did not have any firm policy governing data backup and protection.

A spokesperson for the author of the survey said that the desire of most small businesses to retain their current customer base was at odds with the lack of proper data backup and recovery plans in most, as the failure of a data centre and the loss of data could severely impact on their ability to retain existing customers.

The survey suggests that many businesses could benefit from virtualisation and backup using cloud computing. Business continuity is incredibly important for the relatively fragile SMB sector and of course the lower costs that cloud computing offers can instantly benefit small businesses.

Those businesses that were currently using virtualisation reported significant benefits via the survey. 73 per cent said that they had been able to cut down on the amount of time spent performing basic IT admin tasks, whilst 68 per cent said that they were now better able to deal with and adapt to changes in the market.

Those who had managed to improve their business continuity and data security were also more likely to have experienced growth and increased profitability as a result of virtualisation and cloud computing technologies.

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