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Decisions Decisions…

October 27, 2014
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KEY QUESTION #2: HOW SHOULD SMBs
IMPLEMENT THESE SERVICES?
DEPLOYING ON-PREMISES IS POSSIBLE, BUT…
The traditional approach for SMBs is to deploy the communications capabilities that they will need on-premises using software installed on servers and/or appliances, all of which is managed by internal IT staff or consultants. While this is a viable option, it presents SMBs with a number of disadvantages:
SMB’s tend to have higher costs than enterprises because SMB’s underutilize IT staff and the on premises infrastructure is being used at the capacity of servers or appliances.
The alternative for smaller SMBs is to use a part-time IT staff person, such as an office manager who is charged with maintaining the on-premises communications capabilities. The problem is that a part-time IT staffer is unlikely to be as well versed at maintaining servers, applying patches and generally maintaining the necessary skill set to address problems as they arise.  This person will not be available on a 24×7 basis to deal with issues as they
occur.
For most SMBs, managing on-premises communications and collaboration systems does not have the expertise and so the organization is using outside resources. This results in higher opportunity costs because the organization is diverting resources away from activities that might generate more sales or create competitive advantage for the organization.
On-premises management of communications and collaboration capabilities by an SMB will mean that the organization may miss out on new and innovative ways of making employees more productive.
BENEFITS OF DEPLOYING IN THE CLOUD
There are a variety of benefits associated with deploying messaging and related
services using specialist cloud providers instead of managing them using on-premises
infrastructure:
Lower Costs
One of the most important benefits of the cloud for email, telephony, collaboration, security, mobility or other IT-related services is its lower cost of ownership. This is true for enterprises, but it’s especially the case for SMBs.  Osterman Research cost modeling of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for various messaging and collaboration services have demonstrated that delivery of these services are normally lower when delivered via the cloud. There are several reasons for the typically lower TCO for cloud-based services, including lower labor costs, the lack of up-front costs and the ability of the cloud to enable smaller organizations to operate on a more level playing field in the context of per-seat costs of service delivery.
More Predictable Costs
Cloud messaging and collaboration services offer more predictable costs than on premises because the cost per seat is fixed over the lifetime of the service. Cloud providers are responsible for unforseen problems that could create additional costs than on premises deployments.
Reduced opportunity costs
 Most decision makers understand that finding and retaining qualified IT staff is not all that easy, especially in a good economy.
As a result, in-house IT staff members should be used in a manner that allows them to provide maximum benefit to their employer, while also giving them a satisfying work experience that will motivate them not to go elsewhere. Using cloud-based services frees IT staff members from the requirement to constantly monitor servers or appliances to ensure continuous uptime, freeing them for work that is not only more interesting to them, but also more compelling for the business.
Faster deployment
Deploying a cloud service is normally much faster than deploying an on premises solution, allowing faster ROI because    hardware and software infrastructure is already in place; and, there are experienced experts readily available to ensure a smooth migration.
Minimal Disruptions in Service
Because leading cloud providers offer a carrier grade infrastructure-something very few SMBs can afford-disruptions are dramatically lowered.
Access to external expertise
A cloud provider can offer access to well-trained technical support staff that are available on an around-the-clock basis and that can typically resolve problems quickly and with minimum impact on their customers. The continual service advantage should not be minimized when considering cloud providers. Because few companies operate on an 8-to-5, Monday through Friday schedule, and many issues arise outside of business hours, it is just as critical to have access to service expertise at 2:00am on a Saturday night as it is during normal business hours. This allows users to have their issues resolved quickly and without the cost and burden of maintaining in-house staff to manage a help desk, etc. In short, a specialist will almost always offer better service and support when resolving problems.

Next week: How Do SMB’s Choose the Right Cloud Provider??

NOW WHAT? WHAT’S NEXT!

October 17, 2014
smbs

Over the past month PayLab Plus has engaged in the conversation of “What is the Cloud Anyway”! History of Cloud Technology, Security, Compliance and Characteristics.  Today many SMBs have unlimited possibilities to compete and play in the game and on the court with growing their business migrating to the cloud.  So not to bombard you with a long step by step because I get you want to get on with your day here is the first of many “What’s Next”….

KEY QUESTION #1: WHAT IT CAPABILITIES DO SMBs NEED?

BUSINESS-GRADE EMAIL - Given the importance of email in the context of overall corporate communications, choosing a business-grade email provider is arguably the most critical communications-related decision that SMBs can make.

VOICE SERVICES – A number of SMBs, particularly smaller ones, use mobile phones or residential lines as the initial telephone interface for incoming calls. This is especially true for companies that cannot afford a full-time receptionist and an on-site PBX to manage and route incoming calls.SMBs should implement a business-grade PBX capability that includes a number of key features, such as an automated attendant that will enable callers to route their calls to the appropriate department, extension dialing, voicemail delivered to email, and find me/follow me functions that will permit calls to be routed to individuals’ mobile phones if they are out of the office.

REAL TIME COMMUNICATIONS AND COLLABORATION – Another important capability for most SMB users is real-time communications and collaboration in the form of instant messaging and online meeting capabilities.

SECURE FILE-SHARING CAPABILITIES – An important capability for any information worker is a way of transferring files efficiently—and, preferably, independently of email.

BACKUP SERVICES- The ability to backup data on a regular basis to protect against data loss is absolutely essential for any organization. Best practice for corporate backup of email and other data stores includes regular backups, as well as geo-redundancy – the backup of data to multiple, geographically separate data centers. This will ensure that a natural
disaster, fire, power outage or other disruption in one data center will not destroy customer backups or impede their ability to recover data from them quickly.

DISASTER RECOVERY AND BUSINESS CONTINUITY - Continuous access to email and email data stores is critical. Outages of even a few minutes can create numerous problems for individual email users, as well as the business processes that rely on email as their transport infrastructure. Email systems that do not operate as close to 24×7 as possible cost organizations in a variety of ways, including the loss of employee productivity, time lost in resolving email outages, lost business opportunities, and a variety of less tangible consequences, such as damage to a company’s business reputation.

WHAT’S NEXT?…How do SMBs implement these services? I look forward to being with you next week. Be productive and successful!

SMB’s, It’s Time To Upgrade Your Customer Service!

October 13, 2014

Are first impressions important to your business?  Do you talk to your customers on the phone before meeting them in person or maybe you never meet them in person?  As an owner of a small to medium size business you must know how crucial it is for your business to sound professional.   Let me explain….

Have you called a company and you were put on hold in SILENCE? Didn’t that feel like you were waiting forreevvvverrrrrr???  Then you start to get a feeling of frustration and then maybe your mind wonders to “who are these people on the other end of the phone?”  Instead, you can have hold on music to a feel good song and while your waiting you can enjoy yourself just a little bit more until that person comes back on the phone.

Maybe you are the one on the other end of the phone and you’re trying to find the right person to take this customers call or you’re not at your desk and your phone rings?  Why not have a system that will find your cell phone or tell your customers what to press to get to the department they want and save you both valuable time.

Don’t risk losing customers over an easy fix.  In no time you can sound like a big company with small prices.

Your business (and customers) can’t suffer any longer, call us! 888.413.9186

While you’re at it, check us out at www.Paylab-Plus.com/Ringcentral-voip.html and watch a video on how we can help!

RT @SecurityHIT: Will @facebook interest

October 8, 2014

RT @SecurityHIT: Will @facebook interest in consumer #health affect #privacy? | http://t.co/gQ0gPNGvXd http://ow.ly/CrTwR

RT @DataBreachToday: Bond insurer MBIA i

October 8, 2014

RT @DataBreachToday: Bond insurer MBIA investigating potential data leak at subsidiary http://t.co/xPPpzxTD4U

Performance, Productivity, Reliablility And So Much More….

October 6, 2014

Characteristics

Cloud computing exhibits the following key characteristics:

  • Agility improves with users’ ability to re-provision technological infrastructure resources.
  • Application programming interface (API) accessibility to software that enables machines to interact with cloud software in the same way that a traditional user interface (e.g., a computer desktop) facilitates interaction between humans and computers. Cloud computing systems typically use Representational State Transfer (REST)-based APIs.
  • Cost reductions claimed by cloud providers. A public-cloud delivery model converts capital expenditure to operational expenditure.This purportedly lowers barriers to entry, as infrastructure is typically provided by a third-party and does not need to be purchased for one-time or infrequent intensive computing tasks. Pricing on a utility computing basis is fine-grained, with usage-based options and fewer IT skills are required for implementation (in-house).The e-FISCAL project’s state-of-the-art repository contains several articles looking into cost aspects in more detail, most of them concluding that costs savings depend on the type of activities supported and the type of infrastructure available in-house.
  • Device and location independence enable users to access systems using a web browser regardless of their location or what device they use (e.g., PC, mobile phone). As infrastructure is off-site (typically provided by a third-party) and accessed via the Internet, users can connect from anywhere.
  • Maintenance of cloud computing applications is easier, because they do not need to be installed on each user’s computer and can be accessed from different places.
  • Multitenancy enables sharing of resources and costs across a large pool of users thus allowing for:
    • centralization of infrastructure in locations with lower costs (such as real estate, electricity, etc.)
    • peak-load capacity increases (users need not engineer for highest possible load-levels)
    • utilisation and efficiency improvements for systems that are often only 10–20% utilised.
  • Performance is monitored, and consistent and loosely coupled architectures are constructed using web services as the system interface.
  • Productivity may be increased when multiple users can work on the same data simultaneously, rather than waiting for it to be saved and emailed. Time may be saved as information does not need to be re-entered when fields are matched, nor do users need to install application software upgrades to their computer.
  • Reliability improves with the use of multiple redundant sites, which makes well-designed cloud computing suitable for business continuity and disaster recovery.
  • Scalability and elasticity via dynamic (“on-demand”) provisioning of resources on a fine-grained, self-service basis in near real-time(Note, the VM startup time varies by VM type, location, OS and cloud providers, without users having to engineer for peak loads.
  • Security can improve due to centralization of data, increased security-focused resources, etc., but concerns can persist about loss of control over certain sensitive data, and the lack of security for stored kernels.Security is often as good as or better than other traditional systems, in part because providers are able to devote resources to solving security issues that many customers cannot afford to tackle.However, the complexity of security is greatly increased when data is distributed over a wider area or over a greater number of devices, as well as in multi-tenant systems shared by unrelated users. In addition, user access to security audit logs may be difficult or impossible. Private cloud installations are in part motivated by users’ desire to retain control over the infrastructure and avoid losing control of information security.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s definition of cloud computing identifies “five essential characteristics”:

On-demand self-service. A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service provider.

Broad network access. Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and workstations).

Resource pooling. The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand.

Rapid elasticity. Capabilities can be elastically provisioned and released, in some cases automatically, to scale rapidly outward and inward commensurate with demand. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear unlimited and can be appropriated in any quantity at any time.

Measured service. Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service.

—National Institute of Standards and Technology
Paylab Plus supports Wikipedia

What Everyone Ought To Know…About Cloud Security

September 29, 2014

Organizations use the Cloud in a variety of different service models (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) and deployment models (Private, Public, and Hybrid). There are a number of security issues/concerns associated with cloud computing but these issues fall into two broad categories: security issues faced by cloud providers (organizations providing software-, platform-, or infrastructure-as-a-service via the cloud) and security issues faced by their customers.The responsibility goes both ways, however: the provider must ensure that their infrastructure is secure and that their clients’ data and applications are protected while the user must ensure that the provider has taken the proper security measures to protect their information, and the user must take measures to use strong passwords and authentication measures.

What you need to know:

Identity management 
Every enterprise will have its own identity management system to control access to information and computing resources. Cloud providers either integrate the customer’s identity management system into their own infrastructure, using federation or SSO technology, or provide an identity management solution of their own.
Physical security 
Cloud service providers physically secure the IT hardware (servers, routers, cables etc.) against unauthorized access, interference, theft, fires, floods etc. and ensure that essential supplies (such as electricity) are sufficiently robust to minimize the possibility of disruption. This is normally achieved by serving cloud applications from ‘world-class’ (i.e. professionally specified, designed, constructed, managed, monitored and maintained) data centers.
Personnel security 
Various information security concerns relating to the IT and other professionals associated with cloud services are typically handled through pre-, para- and post-employment activities such as security screening potential recruits, security awareness and training programs, proactive security monitoring and supervision, disciplinary procedures and contractual obligations embedded in employment contracts, service level agreements, codes of conduct, policies etc.
Availability 
Cloud providers help ensure that customers can rely on access to their data and applications, at least in part (failures at any point – not just within the cloud service providers’ domains – may disrupt the communications chains between users and applications).
Application security 
Cloud providers ensure that applications available as a service via the cloud (SaaS) are secure by specifying, designing, implementing, testing and maintaining appropriate application security measures in the production environment. Note that – as with any commercial software – the controls they implement may not necessarily fully mitigate all the risks they have identified, and that they may not necessarily have identified all the risks that are of concern to customers. Consequently, customers may also need to assure themselves that cloud applications are adequately secured for their specific purposes, including their compliance obligations.
Privacy 
Providers ensure that all critical data (credit card numbers, for example) are masked or encrypted (even better) and that only authorized users have access to data in its entirety. Moreover, digital identities and credentials must be protected as should any data that the provider collects or produces about customer activity in the cloud.
Legal issues 
Finally, providers and customers must consider legal issues, such as Contracts and E-Discovery, and the related laws, which may vary by country.

Compliance

Numerous laws and regulations pertain to the storage and use of data, including privacy or data protection laws, Payment Card Industry – Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA), and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, among others. Many of these regulations mandate particular controls (such as strong access controls and audit trails) and require regular reporting. Cloud customers must ensure that their cloud providers adequately fulfil such requirements as appropriate, enabling them to comply with their obligations since, to a large extent, they remain accountable.

Business continuity and data recovery
Cloud providers have business continuity and data recovery plans in place to ensure that service can be maintained in case of a disaster or an emergency and that any data loss will be recovered.These plans may be shared with and reviewed by their customers, ideally dovetailing with the customers’ own continuity arrangements. Joint continuity exercises may be appropriate, simulating a major Internet or electricity supply failure for instance.
Logs and audit trails
In addition to producing logs and audit trails, cloud providers work with their customers to ensure that these logs and audit trails are properly secured, maintained for as long as the customer requires, and are accessible for the purposes of forensic investigation (e.g., eDiscovery).
Unique compliance requirements
In addition to the requirements to which customers are subject, the data centers used by cloud providers may also be subject to compliance requirements. Using a cloud service provider (CSP) can lead to additional security concerns around data jurisdiction since customer or tenant data may not remain on the same system, or in the same data center or even within the same provider’s cloud.

The Cloud has been quite beneficial for personal and business use and that comes with needing the knowledge of knowing how to keep yourself and business safe.

Are you Safe?

Paylab Plus acknowledges and supports Wikipedia

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