Things to Consider While Re-purposing Workstations

You might be interested to re-purpose your workstations from time to time to get more RAM, up to date CPU, and more storage capacity. Is it logical to replace a few years old workstation even if it is working without hardware problems? Most of customers do not know exactly when they should re-purpose workstation. Here are some guidelines to check what type of computers can be used in a company and how to boost up performance.

In order to perform particular jobs, servers are usually configured with various components. NAS requires enough space for storage, whereas database server requires more RAM. These are tailored to perform particular tasks, therefore, it is complicated to re-purpose workstations.

If you have changed old SQL database server and selected new model for high performance, old database server can be used for finance or marketing department by making some minor changes. Storage and RAM are the two upgrades that are based on simple procedure, but can improve performance level.

Less valuable upgrades are related to RAID card and CPU. A few servers may have system for CPU upgrade; however, most of them need new motherboards, which means to upgrade PSU and RAM as well. If you need to boost up performance, instead of upgrading the motherboard, buy new system to meet your needs.

It is simple to install new RAID card; however, old servers do not offer sufficient cooling to keep this hot-running RAID cool. It is important to match RAID card with hard drives to get required performance. Many customers prefer to re-purpose server without changing hardware. They get required results by using software (like FreeNAS).

Just like servers, workstations need to configure to carry on various tasks. Case capacity of workstations gives great benefit when these are selected for re-purposing. Unlike rack server, it is much easier to improve performance of components in tower case. Increasing storage capacity through controller cards is much faster.

If you are interested to have more storage (for mechanical drives), make certain that there is enough cool air through the case. Usually heat is unnoticed as it is difficult to measure, but it damages computer hardware more frequently. Sensors are used in a lot of workstation boards to check level of heat.

Nowadays, laptops are used as preferable system to work in most departments. Laptops do not offer re-purposing like desktops due to various reasons. First of all, laptops cannot work just like desktop computers. These are good to be used for designing PowerPoint slides, web browsing and email. You might be able to upgrade the laptop’s RAM and hard drive, otherwise, laptops are not easy to upgrade.

It is good to evaluate risks as well as benefits associated with re-purposing of computers. If your company has replaced old systems and you need to use them in other departments to save some money, keep in mind that IT experts will need time to arrange old these systems to work. Conversely, a new system can start working as soon as it is deployed. In addition, warranty is a compelling factor which leads to buying new systems, as laptops need frequent repair services.

Managed Disaster Recovery Fundamentals Are Significant For Business Continuity Vendors

Many companies are facing difficulties due to unsatisfactory disaster recovery solutions. Some companies do not have appropriate strategies, whereas others are missing basic elements to execute recovery plan. Most of the companies are exposed to downtime without having proper strategies.

In order to find out satisfactory solution against downtime, IT vendors need to follow five basic rules:

Stress-free Deployment
When different companies are observed to find out the reason of inadequate disaster recovery plan, major drawback is noticed in the form of complexity. Planning, execution and supervision in an IT environment requires enough investment in staff resources, money, and time. These resources are a luxury for many. For business continuity, it is required to have managed solution to make recovery plan simple and trouble-free. Service providers must keep current management very simple, with automated processes that can make data recovery more effective when disaster occurs.

Full Service
It is the responsibility of the service providers to manage each and everything. They are liable to provide disaster recovery plan, schedule backups, handle execution, and guide testing. Vendors have all loads on their shoulders to improve DR plan and business continuity. Such a full service is also known as “White Glove Service”. As a result, clients can get time to pay attention on other business objectives.

Powerful Integration with Present Infrastructure
For managed disaster recovery system, clients must be empowered with correct tools. Though it is the responsibility of MSPs to take the burden, organization must be supported with the right tools so that clients can make the management aspects simpler. These tools have capability to change the company’s IT environment.

Access & Control System for Clients
Managed disaster recovery is concerned to be a very delicate task. It is the responsibility of the MSP to offer a fully compact managed service and at the same time allow its clients to have some power over the disaster recovery process. In this regard, clients are given access to certain tools to check out DR plan, recover files and folders. Even if a white glove service is selected, clients may require expertise and the ability to carry out recovery options by themselves when, especially, in emergency situations.

Cost Efficient Disaster Recovery Solution
To lessen the burden of disaster recovery management, companies need to pay an amount on regular basis. DR solution should be priced in range of target market. For MSPs, selling a solution means to make it affordable for customers to maintain business continuity. MSPs should provide reasonably priced solutions and at the same time stay profitable. This can be achieved with the help of cloud computing. Through the cloud, companies are able to scale up or down resources as needed, allowing payment for only what they actually have used.

In disaster recovery market, DRaaS is a rapidly developing segment. Researchers have reported that the DRaaS market will be more than $5.7 Billion USD by 2018. This is a very encouraging news, and MSPs should try their best to get the piece of the action from this market.

Guidelines for Managing Software Audits

Software audit is usually carried out by large scale companies. When customers pay for software, it is their right to ask questions and get satisfactory response. There are basically two kinds of audits, known as:

Software Assessment Management or SAM
Legal Contracts & Compliance or LLC

SAM is a kind of audit that makes certain whether customers are in compliance or not. If the answer is negative, the company is expected to work with its customers to achieve the target. SAM is also known as “self-audit”, as customers are directed to fill forms to provide detail of software and evaluate it with other software they have purchased earlier.

Many companies are given licensing agreements or deals to fulfil their compliance mandate. Customers, who have used SAM audit process, state that it is supportive when they make fair attempts to becoming compliant. Your contribution in self audit is voluntary; however, if you choose not to participate, an alternate form of audit is offered.

LLC is activated when customers reject SAM. As compared to self-audit, LLC is not free and is taken seriously as someone has accused your business for software piracy. It is your right to consult with an attorney if LLC is issued to your company. Such type of audit is controlled by Business Software Alliance (BSA), which is an anti-piracy leading group that can be hired by software companies to carry out all-encompassing audits. It is something serious as penalties per title violation are more than $150,000.

What are Effective Practices?

Don’t Postpone
If you realize that your company is getting out of compliance, it is good to start the audit process as early as possible. Software audit becomes more considerate when customers are serious about compliance issues.

Do not Presume Authenticity
There are many fraudulent sellers that get benefits from companies by selling pirated software. It is more critical that customers do not even know they are using pirated software till audit exposes the truth. It is necessary to select only certified resellers to avoid such situations.

Keep Record of Receipts
Always keep record that you have purchased laptops or other devices with specific software. During an audit, you need to give proof that your software is legally purchased, and covers retail and OEM licenses.

Software Inventory
In some cases, you might not be able to get record of all of your software in use in the company. If so, you must perform inventory process to find out installed software. It helps in finding breaches in compliance.

Work with Sellers
It happens that companies do not keep all software in full compliance. Auditors understand this and they do not take it seriously and anticipate that your company starts working with sellers to become fully compliant.

Software audits are very important and help companies to become compliant and avoid legal suits. For instance, Microsoft assumes that if customers have Volume Licensing contracts or Enterprise Agreement, they are considered as complaint. Usually audits for small and medium sized companies are issued through Selection or Open licensing agreements.

How a Cloud Can Cover Needs Of Healthcare Industry?

Whenever data breaches or breakdown of cloud system occur, concerning people assume that the cloud is an insecure way of keeping bulk of data. Propensity of cloud system for breach does not let companies to rely on this system for hyper sensitive data. Fact is that, each cloud is developed with some specific purposes. There are cloud systems that are developed to handle important and sensitive information only. If you assume cloud cannot protect sensitive data from breaches, the reality is far from your assumption. For data protection, it is ridiculous to avoid the cloud; in fact, it is a matter of searching the right cloud to meet your needs.

You may have some know how about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA); if not, you must be familiar with the word HIPAA. Basically, HIPAA is a sequence of codes that are responsible for formation, transmission as well as access of ePHI (electronic protected health information). Basic purpose of HIPAA is to keep important information of patients safe. As far as HIPAA compliance is concerned, healthcare providers are required to check data protection system and cloud is considered as fast and affordable method to address specific needs. For an IT provider, it is necessary to understand HIPAA requirements if they plan to serve the healthcare industry.

Protection & Access
It is simple to keep copies of data and transfer duplicate data to the cloud. The question arises, how valuable information will be protected from data breaches? What are the safety measures to keep information safe offline? Covered entities are liable to restrict physical access and make sure that information is encrypted in motion and at rest. It is absurd to think all clouds give same functionality. Always search for a provider that permits to encrypt information onsite. Data center selected for the protection of ePHI must give digital, as well as, physical safeguards to avoid unauthorized access.

System for Backup and Data Recovery
According to CFR 164.308, all covered entities must have backup, as well as, recovery plan in case of a disaster. In this regard, the cloud gives an advantage in the form of data protection, as offsite backup data is easy to recover when something unexpected happens with the onsite data backups. Additionally, many clouds are developed for fast recovery that is the foremost requirement of HIPAA. In addition to data backup, covered entities must be able to function in emergency conditions. For healthcare providers, it is highly beneficial to select a cloud designed to perform various functions to cover issues, such as data breaches, disaster recovery, and business continuity.

In short, the cloud is a perfect way to cover various features of HIPAA; however, it cannot deal with all aspects of data protection. For some people, HIPAA is more than a mess. In reality, it is nothing more than a set of safekeeping standards. For MSPs and VARs, it is essential to have in-depth knowledge of HIPAA before giving invincible service to the healthcare industry.

High Traffic Environments: Backing up your Server in the Cloud

Server backup can be tricky. The backup cloud must support all kinds of operating systems and applications. It should be remembered that servers operate in a high traffic environments. They are always connected to the remote backup server in the cloud via the Internet and continuously service the data requirements of the end user. The server platform can include all flavours of Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac OS X, AS-400, Solaris or all kinds of applications such as Exchange/ Outlook, Lotus Notes/Domino, Groupwise, SQL, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, IBM DB2, Sharepoint or more.

Agentless server backup is preferable. The agentless software requires only a single instance installation of the agent on a network. All servers connected to the network can then be identified and the agent can be configured to accept backup requests from the servers. The entire backup process can be managed and controlled from a single console.

IT Administrators can schedule backups and decide on the granularity of the backup. For instance the IT Administrator can decide that Windows and Linux systems must be backed up continuously and other systems may be backed up as per a fixed schedule. A single backup can be the backup of all data in a server, a share or volume or directory. The backup may also be of a single file or registry. Backups can also be scheduled to start and stop within a specific backup window.

Multiple servers can be backed up in parallel. The multi threaded backup application ensures that the software can process large volumes of data and support concurrent backup and restore requests. The only limiting factor would be the amount of bandwidth that is available with your organization.

The data being backed up to the server can be compressed or deduplicated using compression algorithms that have been tested and proven. The lossless algorithms can reduce the size of the raw data being transmitted from the server and common file elimination protocols can ensure that the same file is not transmitted twice. Versions of files may be stored with appropriate version numbers for ease of discovery. Retention policies can be specified to ensure that only relevant and active files continue to be stored in expensive storage media and other files are relegated to cheaper storage systems to save on costs.

Backup Technology’s Backup for Servers is high performance software that is designed to operate efficiently in high traffic environments with many of the features that have been discussed above. For more information please visit,

Data Protection Strategies Important For MSPs

Protection of data is becoming one of the serious issues for MSPs. To provide maximum data protection to small and medium sized companies, service providers need to place security at top of the list. Due to new technologies, systems and devices, important data is vulnerable to serious threats. It is the need of the hour to create policies for the security of data to tackle such threats.

Inform Clients on Security Policies:
Many companies do not advertise managed security services, but it helps in providing information to clients for data protection policies. Select reliable source of publication for latest information. Check Twitter and LinkedIn to get an idea of latest trends. In case your clients are not well informed about your security policies, chances are they can find out from your competitors. As a result, clients will figure out how to get some IT solutions from your competitors.

Train Staff on Trending Security Threats:
New threats are coming into sight daily. To cope with such threats, companies need to educate their staff. Workers must have intimate information about Phishing scams, malicious mails, lateral attacks, and malware that start off through guest access.

Standardize IT Solutions:
To minimize the risk of data breaches, it is necessary to select only standardized technology solutions. A firm that is working with an enterprise-level PSA solutions can get maximum benefit by selecting standardized solutions. For example: access rules, liabilities, and planning for disaster recovery can be established by IT managers by selecting standardized apps. It has the ability to improve exposure, as well as response time whilst offering a medium to check performance level.

Avoid File Sharing Services?
Due to P2P technology, it is common to borrow applications and files. This feature gives way to data breaches. When file sharing services are used, it becomes difficult for users to avoid malicious code that get confidential information, as well as breach copyright ownership. Instead of avoiding such services, MSPs can demonstrate that they are following data protection policies to handle such situations:

– Inform clients what type of risks are linked with P2P and file sharing networks;
– Use firewall and perimeter network defense systems to block programs related to file sharing;
– Keep on observing the network to make certain that unofficial file sharing networks are not running;
– Have some restrictions where staff is permitted to save important data.

Plan for Patch Management:
Microsoft has fixed a particular date of each month for patch management. All recognized flaws are fixed at that particular date so that programs and operating systems work in a safe environment to give productive end results. In May 2015, about 46 vulnerabilities were noted* in Windows Server, Silverlight, SharePoint, Desktop Windows and Adobe’s Flash.

MSPs have thousands of software applications, and each of these software has gateways for intruders. In order to patch up such holes which lead towards data breaches, patch management technology is used to maintain security level. There are many companies that do not consider this tiresome process as important to execute each month. MSPs must have all-inclusive priority based strategies for patch management.

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