Cloud Migration Strategies That Small Business Owners Should Adopt

Post on : August 9, 2017

Now that public clouds have defined their value-add to the small business owner, the majority of small businesses are planning their migration strategies to either replace or supplement their on-premise IT requirements.

In a recent survey conducted by Xero, “results showed that 71% of small business owners have at least one quarter of their business running in the cloud, a significant increase from only 23.5% reported in a survey conducted 18 months ago.”


1. Migrate Email Services

The complexity and time commitment to running an Exchange server onsite is daunting. Small business owners, more than anyone, should look to moving their mail services into the public cloud. The two major players are Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite. Both come with their advantages and disadvantages, but remain a good choice for many reasons.

  • Lower costs – cloud computing leverages economies of scale. The hardware resources of your single mail server are probably under-utilized. Mail servers deployed in public clouds are fully utilized and therefore reduce the cost for the small business owner. Essentially you are paying for what you use. Other cost savings include hardware, maintenance, and power usage, and rack space.

  • Optimized for mobility – Both Office 365 and G Suite include apps across all major mobile platforms. These apps allow quick and easy access to email and files. This caters to a small business that may not be tied to a desk all the time.

  • Scalable – As your business grows, so does the requirement for on-premise hardware. The small mail server that accommodated 5 employees probably struggles to keep up with 50. In the cloud, you normally pay a fee per user. All the other concerns regarding hardware optimization are taken care of by the cloud provider.


2. Replace Your File Server

Depending on your requirements, you could potentially use an online file repository. Again Microsoft and Google are two of the major competitors in this space with some additional competition from Dropbox and Box. If your files remain unchanged and are smaller in size, you can easily increase accessibility and collaboration for your team simply by placing these files in one of these online services.

These services normally allow you to configure permissions. This prevents the wrong person in your organization from accessing a document not meant for their review.


3. Hosted Applications

Your application server may be replaced by migrating these services into Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure. You can custom build a virtual machine to your exact requirements, and host your specific application in the cloud. You will leverage greater up-time and provide increased reliability of your hosted services — all of which should make your customers very happy.

Companies providing services to customers in different parts of the world (Europe and Asia Pacific) may consider hosting their service in regional data centers that comply with data sovereignty and retention laws. Both AWS and Azure give you the choice of where to host your new server.

What Now?

We would love the chance to discuss your thoughts on cloud migration strategies for small businesses and maybe even learn what strategies have worked for you and your team. If there are any questions, put them in the comments below or give us a call and we are happy to help where we can.

Why the Most Successful Small Business Owners Outsource Their IT Needs

Post on : August 9, 2017

While living abroad, I spoke to a business owner in Portugal who changed my way of thinking. He mentioned the struggles of running a startup and then stated it was extremely important that a small business run as well as a Fortune 500 company.

Think about that for a second. As a small business owner, you are competing with large, multi-national companies and an uncountable number of smaller businesses, all vying for the same customer. If you are to compete and grow your business, you have to spend your precious time on meaningful activities.

Therein lies the struggle! Most small business owners have to manage every aspect of their business — sales, marketing, IT support, and even janitorial. When your responsibilities take time away from your core business activities, you have stopped competing. This essentially means you are losing business in that very moment to one of your competitors.

What should you do?

Outsource some aspects of your business where it makes sense. Let’s discuss the IT requirements a small business may have.

Instead of spending time on hold with technical support, or just “dealing” with a broken computer or printer because you don’t have time, consider using a managed service provider to take care of these items for you.

In addition to fixing your immediate IT problems, a managed service provider can help your business run more like a Fortune 500 company.

A good service provider will ensure that all mission-critical systems are being backed up and test restore functions on a regularly scheduled basis. In addition to backup software, a service provider will make sure your network is secure and protected from viruses and other attacks.

You could do this work yourself, or worse hire an employee to perform these functions for you, but this puts you at a competitive disadvantage. Your cost is too high. By using a managed service provider you leverage and pay for only a portion of the resource that you need.

Think like a Fortune 500 company and outsource activities that are not core to your business whenever possible. This should help you focus more on your customer and hopefully take business away from competition that isn’t similarly focused.


What Now?

We would love the chance to discuss your thoughts on outsourcing your IT needs to a managed service provider. If there are any questions, put them in the comments below or give us a call and we are happy to help where we can.

Three Ways Healthcare Professionals Can Protect Against Ransomware Attacks

Post on : August 3, 2017

To be blunt, the healthcare industry has become a favorite target of ransomware attacks. According to the 2017 Global Threat Intelligence Report (GTIR) published by NTT Security, 77% of all detected, global ransomware cases were in just four industries — and the healthcare industry was unfortunately listed.

If you are a healthcare professional, you have no choice but to deal with this threat. According to a recent US Government interagency report, “more than 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred daily since January 1, 2016. This is a 300-percent increase over the approximately 1,000 attacks per day seen in 2015.” These attacks are encrypting protected health information (PHI).

Things are even more complicated when you consider how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) view a ransomware attack and the responsibilities of healthcare professionals under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). In a recently published fact sheet on the topic HHS stated that “unless the covered entity or business associate can demonstrate that there is a ‘…low probability that the PHI has been compromised,’ based on the factors set forth in the Breach Notification Rule, a breach of PHI is presumed to have occurred.”

That’s right, HHS presumes a breach of PHI under HIPAA in the event of a ransomware attack. Before panic sets in, you need to know that there are very important and critical steps that every healthcare professional needs to take to secure all PHI and comply with HIPAA requirements.


1. Implement good backup and disaster recovery policies

Imagine if your practice was affected by a ransomware attack. You could lose access to your patient records, financial data including outstanding receivables from various insurance companies, upcoming appointments with patients, and other mission critical data.

Having multiple and redundant backups of this data is critical — not to mention a requirement under the Security Rule for HIPAA covered entities. Even further, you need to constantly verify the integrity of all backup files and test the that they can be restored.


2. Deploy advanced security and antiviral solutions to prevent and catch these attacks early

A layered approach is the most effective method to stopping ransomware before it encrypts your data. A quality firewall installed and configured correctly can tease out ransomware and deter sophisticated attacks. Today’s ransomware can morph its code to pass right under many detection algorithms. A good firewall will utilize advanced network monitoring and analytics to detect and quarantine potential threats.

Installing antiviral software on every networked machine in your office is also extremely important. In addition to looking for recognized definitions, this software will also utilize behavior-based detection methods.


3. Train all Personnel and Medical Staff

Ransomware attackers have adopted advanced techniques to convince everyone at your medical practice to click on a link that opens the door for malware to infect the machine. From phishing attacks to malvertising — where attackers infuse their ransomware into legitimate online advertising and webpages that are often frequented by your office staff — there is a constant threat that somebody accidentally clicks on a bad link.

Security awareness training will help your staff to be safer online and thereby reduce the threat of a ransomware attack. Educating employees about the seriousness of malware and helping them to avoid common pitfalls will lead to a safer network.


What Now?

We would love the chance to discuss your thoughts on the matter and maybe even learn what strategies have worked for you and your team. If there are any questions, put them in the comments below or give us a call and we are happy to help where we can. Stay safe out there!