Standardization: All-inclusive Backup Solution for Disaster Recovery

It is the basic need of all businesses to have verified and reliable backup plan. When each and every minute of downtime affects on business continuity and brings closer to disruption, it makes clear that company needs more than a simple backup plan for data protection.

Some companies purchase a variety of software from various sellers to design backup system. One product is used for virtual machines, others for servers and databases. When an organization has various backup applications, it requires multiple systems with specific features to handle backup plans. With the passage of time, lack of consistency makes it complicated to find out how processes, applications and mission-critical data are reported across the organization. Unnoticed incompatibilities in such vendor systems make backup attempts unsuccessful when disaster strikes. Standardization is the only solution to nip these problems in the bud.

Role of Standardization
Standardization is considered as all in one reliable solution for disaster recovery. Instead of keeping a number of individual applications, use software integrated tool that has the capability to consolidate your requirements for data protection in one platform. IT system providers offer fully compact solution by combining infrastructure, software and hardware to optimize disaster recovery operations and backups in an integrated way. There are many persuasive benefits of standardization approach:

Quick Recovery Process: For business continuity, standardized backup as well as recovery processes are selected. Consistent structure of backup and recovery extends across the data centre and assist in eliminating upcoming roadblocks throughout recovery procedures. Disastrous components (in the form of servers or software) are swapped out through their replacements.

Incorporated Power: Though standardization is perfect for simplification and centralization, it gives reliable outcome for data protection as well. Administrators are always in search of tools that can help them handle significant disaster recovery components. As they are fully equipped with standardized solutions, administrators are able to systematize virtual backups, make schedule of incremental backups, and design policies for data protection. Backups are designed to eliminate data loss and to make recovery of data certain.

Central Control: An IT admin may handle up to three backup systems having various options, controls, interfaces and settings. In centralized system, everything is present at one platform. Therefore, IT administrators can save time and work effectively to manage recovery options and backup to operate databases, virtual environment, and operating systems through a single tool.

Within Budget Approach: Disaster recovery approach seems more engaging when it is offered at reasonable rates. MSPs offer considerable upfront investments by leveraging the “pay-as-you-go” cloud cost model. Additional savings can be obtained through discount pricing to provide companies suitable deals so that they can support more devices.

When IT providers are able to regulate disaster recovery effectively, they will be prepared to get additional market shares in newer trends, such as virtualization, cloud computing, and data breaches.

Best Open Source Tools Perfect for Linux Administrators

System administrators rely on particular set of tools to meet their requirements. In Linux environment, there are many open source tools that are used to achieve desired set of goals. Some of these tools are as follows:

Adminer
Linux administrators often act as database administrators. Adminer tool is used to make management of data effective and stress-free. Adminer is user friendly tool that improves performance and gives more security than other similar tools. Another factor that has made Adminer first choice of administrators’ is its compatibility with PostgreSQL and MySQL, SQL server, and Oracle Database.

BleachBit
Admins are required to keep sensitive data secure and confidential at all times. BleachBit is also known as CCleaner and is a valuable open source tool for Linux that has gained reputation for its easy to use format. It helps system administrators to increase disk space by taking out sensitive data. BleachBit has ability to search files, folders, web browsers, databases and registry thoroughly without removing important files that are required to perform various functions.

FileZilla
It is the job of Linux administrators to use web server for uploading as well as downloading files. When it is your day to day duty to download and upload files, you must have a dependable tool for transferring files. As compared to other applications, FileZilla is lightweight, robust and reliable app that supports protocols such as IPv6, HTTP, SFTP and FTP. FileZilla supports administrators by making file management trouble-free using built-in file management capabilities. Built-in system allows administrators to systematize files in line, resume transfer, pause and revise files.

Open Source Puppet
This tool has given support to Linux administrators in performing all jobs. For instance, it is easy to arrange cron jobs to work across different Linux systems without setting them manually. Open Source Puppet is able to execute checks to make certain that system services, such as Apache are in working mode. Moreover, it helps in taking the initiative to begin services that are currently discontinued. Centralized aptitude of Open Source Puppet is really useful when administrators need to perform some mind-numbing actions, such as running commands on various systems. Instead of mentioning the same command on multiple systems again and again, Open Source Puppet allows you to run command once and it will keep on executing it on all other systems. As a result, administrators save loads of time and get rid of monotonous actions as well.

Webmin
Administrators need to use Webmin while managing Linux distro in web sphere. Webmin was designed to support UNIX; however, it is used in BSD and Linux systems to simplify management processes. Streamline interface is available to make everything convenient starting from accounts of users to domains management. Webmin is used as an alternative to Plesk and cPanels.

Though there are a number of other open source tools which are great for Linux administrators, the above five Linux open source tools are indomitable. Do you have a favourite Linux tool? If so, please share with us in the comment below.

Significant Linux Backup Practices Helpful For Administrators

Linux is an operating system that is preferred for reliability, security and steadiness. However, like other operating systems, it has issues concerning data protection due to:

Electrical surge
IT data breaches
Fire
Failure of hardware
Physical theft
For Linux administrator, it is important to have online backup plan to avoid downtime and loss of important data, money and time.

Planning before Backup
Planning is crucial stage to check various sections of strategy in detail. Ask some questions to find out your requirements for backup plan, such as:

What type of data you need to have backup?
What kind of backup will support your system?
Do you need incremental of full data backup?
How often you need to access to stored data?

Automate Tools
There are backup utilities that need to use command line to perform work. SPX is specifically made for Linux that gives opportunity to administrators to check backup jobs and restore systems to virtual environment or hardware within a few minutes. This automation is helpful in executing management tasks when disaster recovery plan is activated.

Backup Storage Needs Investment
If you have an online backup plan, you will need to revise your strategy for storage. Though backup software can compress all files to increase storage space, storage practices require handling copies of files. If Linux box is connected to NAS appliance or hard drive, you can develop solid foundation.

How to Cover Security Challenges?
While selecting data for online backup, you must keep in mind all of the security threats. For data protection, you may need to have lock-in key. Linux provides Seahorse as encryption tool to manage passwords, create Secure Shell keys, and PGP keys to improve security features.

Protection of Backups
It is counter intuitive to keep backups onsite because disaster can ruin years of hard work in a short time. There are two options available for security perspective:

Remove & Transfer
DVDs and tape are inexpensive and removable media that can be used for backup. Save copies of important data by using local backups. It might be a bit difficult to transfer data and swap out media, however, it gives satisfaction as important files are kept offsite.

Network Transfer
Network transfer is one of the easiest ways for offsite backups when you have given access to a distant server. Time required for transferring process depends on backup size, however, the process is fast and just like uploading files. Recovery time is improved through network transfer as there is no need to find and use physical media.

Backups Assessment
It is suggested to check backup plans and strategies on regular basis in order to avoid catastrophe. Automation is perfect to skip monotonous processes. If there is information that is worthy to save on a tape, disc or server, it definitely needs to be checked up time and again.

Importance of Reliable Help Desk System for Managed Service Provider Business

Help desk is the backbone of Information Technology, as it streamlines wide range of system management procedures and provides platform to meet the requirements of customers. Starting from task management to satisfaction of clients, help desk gives great benefits to MSPs.

Effective Management of Tasks
When an effective help desk system is used, it improves customer service by making the task easy and uncomplicated. Task management offers a variety of features to help MSPs design and make schedule of tasks, share tasks, assign to others. In other words, help desk gives an insight in to who is performing what kind of job. Therefore, management gets access to all tasks, and hand over workload to staff.

Ideal Management of Time
Customer service environment becomes a disorganized system when a lot of inquiries are received from customers. Management, as well as staff, cannot answer to these queries on time that makes clients frustrated. Through ticket option and tracking capability, help desk’s reliable tool will reduce the ratio of time lost, which is used by teammates to discuss and inform managers about all cases.

Customer Response
To make an impact on new clients, every company desires to have great customers’ feedback. You cannot make each and every client satisfied with your services. Instead of getting annoyed on negative comments, turn them into positive. Help desk has specific system that helps in getting feedback from customers in the form of a survey. Various help desk systems offer to organize feedback in emails or web formats. Many help desks are designed for automatic delivery if tickets are ended.

Assisting Clients Mean to Assist Themselves
Self-service is one of the most remarkable features of help desk. It gives an easy way-in to the issues and resources. Before ticket is delivered to the web hosts, the service provider will check web portal to find answers of their questions. It can be something like Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to get self-service information to reduce the number of tickets and load of work on staff. Moreover, clients will give satisfactory feedback as they are given instant response. Knowledge management is the latest and useful mode in customer service.

Get Support in Upcoming Years
In an infrastructure based on data management, the role of help desk system is inescapable. For instance, MSPs collect information and past objections in system to design best practices database to direct staff while managing frequent issues. It gives chance to the administrator to check the number of resources required for solving issues. Capability to scrutinize resources proves helpful when the company needs to make budget for next financial year.

Impression of Clients
Impression of clients about your business becomes a reality as you cannot ignore the power of WOM. Even if you are delivering satisfactory managed services, delay in customers service will affect your standing in the business world. Use help desk system for instant response to customers’ tickets and develop their confidence on your quality services.

Managed Service Providers and HIPAA Misconceptions

HIPAA is health insurance portability accountability act that checks how covered entities or healthcare providers maintain health sensitive information that is saved in their systems. Regulations are terrifying for service providers, as they are unaware of key factors. What are the responsibilities of service provider while giving service to healthcare department? When audit team finds compliance issues, who is liable to pay the fines? In this article, some of the misconceptions against HIPAA and MSPs are dispelled to bring to light the reality.

Complicated HIPAA Requirements
It is often assumed that requirements are tricky and cannot be understood easily. In fact, requirements are clear-cut and anybody can access them at government website, www.healthit.gov. It is good to learn more about HIPAA by using online services; however, it is better to work under guidance of HIPAA specialized third party. Basically, they support you and discuss various HIPAA aspects to make you HIPAA compliant. Web portal with tools, checklist, and online repository is provided with many other applicable documents. There are many third parties that offer their services to resell and in the process allow you to increase your profit.

Advanced Healthcare Needs
Healthcare practices have requirements which are similar to other businesses. In reality, healthcare department differs from other kinds of businesses in two ways only. First, there is no any tolerance for downtime, as lives can be lost. Secondly, they demand latest security system for getting information, as they keep record of highly sensitive information of patients. If these two factors are put aside, healthcare department works like any other business. When mandate of HIPAA is properly understood, MSPs will get to know that the requirements are not complicated at all.

No Rewards
It is one of the misconceptions that IT providers do not get reward for their services in healthcare industry. In fact, HIPAA compliant service providers get many benefits. It is a profitable system and gives more opportunities to IT providers, who are able to manage HIPAA compliance.

When managed service providers have close contact with their clients, they understand what the clients’ technology demands and develop more confidence to work efficiently. MSPs get benefits as clients have confidence in their service and provide them more opportunities to get new services.

As an MSP, have you ever considered listing the benefits you will be offered in the healthcare industry if you provide HIPAA compliant solution? In your area, how many service providers are specializing in HIPAA compliance?

Conclusion
In healthcare industry, there are a lot of misapprehensions against HIPAA. Reality is far from misconceptions, as it is profitable path where more opportunities and more references are waiting for you. In-depth understanding of HIPAA requirements will make service provider as HIPAA compliance champions. If you become an expert and manage HIPAA, you will have dominating position and more opportunities coming your way than other MSPs.

Key Points to Convince Clients for Software and Hardware Upgrades

Microsoft declared that Windows Server 2003 will get to an end on 14th July 2015. Expected date is over now, but Server 2003 is working perfectly and the challenge created by this software in different IT rooms is related to the challenge MSPs have to face while persuading customers to upgrade technology. It is necessary that old hardware and software should be improved on timely basis. Here are some selling points, which can help service providers convince clients to upgrade their technology:

Security is a Challenge
Due to security reasons, Server 2003 was conferring as time bomb. Microsoft has introduced no patches for 2003 Server, therefore, system will no longer be protected from Trojans, viruses, and data breaches. Though Server 2003 is still able to work, the use of unsupported software keeps all important data at risk. Remember that it is better to spend small amount on software and hardware upgrade than to suffer a serious data breach.

Easy to Avoid Failure
Generally, all moving parts of machines are prone to malfunctioning. In other words, whatever is connected to network is open to failure. Hard drives are the most vulnerable part of the hardware. It is the reason why most companies change hard drives and fundamental components to reduce the chances of failure. When hardware is upgraded at a suitable time, it minimizes annoyance for clients and service providers.

Productivity of Upgraded Technology
Though old components can work, they can create problems. Selection of new tools means you can get additional power to boost up. When graphics, memory, and video cards will be upgraded, the end result will be received in the form of highly responsive system, where users are able to carry on multi-tasks without any issue. In addition, software upgrades give access to latest tools and features so that IT users can work more professionally. For MSPs, productivity is crucial factor and basic selling point that compels clients to use upgraded technology.

Competitive Role of Companies
In business world, computers are excessively used and considered as moral fiber of production. Computers improve company’s reputation when these are used for server management, networking, and desktop virtualization. To flourish your business, it is necessary to have an updated IT based environment, with no threats of viruses, and data breaches. Moreover, upgraded system supports a business to dominate in competitive market.

How to Plan for System Upgrade?
Many clients do not show any interest to switch over to latest technology. When their attention is focused on issues, such as compliance standards, productivity level, and data breaches, they understand the importance of hardware and software transition. It is the responsibility of service providers to make the system upgrade process hassle-free for clients by planning smooth migration. MSPs must have the list of systems that need to be upgraded, and determine the perfect time for transition. There must be a well laid plan to check what will be upgraded, when to upgrade, and what amount of budget to allocate in order to perform these upgrades. If your transition plan is revised after four years, it will keep software and hardware up to date.

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