Copeland News - July, 2016
We welcome you to the Summer Edition of CDS News. It has been an interesting time. Security concerns continue as Crypto-Locker-like virus activity continues to interrupt business activity. With everything going on in our world today, Disaster Recovery plans are being laid out and implemented throughout the country. Removing older in-house Exchange Servers and older "Pop" based email continues to be popular as businesses adapt to Office 365's Exchange Online at an aggressive rate.
That being said, if you think of anything today or in the future that you would like to discuss as it applies to your situation, never hesitate to drop us a note. We are here to help and serve you in any way we can.
In this issue of Copeland News
Being ready for a disaster is critical today in business. Business continuity is a "must have" in terms of being ready for those things we really would rather not think about.
When we think of disasters, we tend to think of disasters brought to us by nature, such as flooding and earthquakes. However, manmade disasters are of importance as well, such as explosions, accidents, fires and flooding (caused by malfunctioning equipment).
Some quick facts of disasters and how they threaten business are:
- Statistically in the US, 1 in 4 small and medium size businesses hit by a major storm do not reopen.
- Small businesses lose an average of $3,000 after closing due to a major storm.
- 84% of small businesses do not have disaster recovery insurance.
What plans have you laid out if your business was threatened by a disaster? How would your business continue to operate through this period, providing goods and services to your customers?
A Disaster Recovery plan must include your Business Systems, as your systems are the backbone of the organization. A plan can be coordinated to take snapshots of your systems at predetermined times throughout the day, and move these snapshots up to our colocation "cloud" facility under your company umbrella, all automatically. In the event of a disaster, these snapshots can be brought back online easily, and your users can access these systems either from your current locations or from remote locations.
Disaster Recovery cannot be ignored. There has been "multitude of businesses" who have not survived a Disaster – all because of the lack of planning and foresight into the challenge.
For your benefit, please engage us here in a Disaster Recovery discussion. This work can be done thoughtfully and proactively before disaster strikes and not reactively at a time when it is not clear what pieces are even left to reassemble.
Servers in the Cloud – Next Step
The methodology of Server usage in your organization continues to change over time.
Separate servers were the main attraction in a server room back in the late 80's and 90's, as application servers and "file and print" servers were where we all needed to be.
Fast forward to a few years ago. These separate servers are brought together virtually, so that one physical box could be the home of many logical servers – perhaps application instances and "file and print" instances.
Today the trend of change continues, as these servers are now being placed "into the cloud". Your business servers no longer need to reside at your premises. Moving these servers to the cloud brings continued advantages, which includes:
- Cost benefits by not having to purchase new servers every 3-6 years.
- Cloud servers support "mobile strategy" natively – your team can reach these servers no matter where they are.
- Reliability increases as there is no hardware to maintain or replace.
- Energy savings – you no longer need to have in-house servers to keep powered up.
- Minimize downtime – as downtime is a costly proposition to any business.
- TCO – Total Cost of Ownership across that 3—6 year period, when you include "everything on-premises servers require" will always weigh-in on the side of "cloud" servers.
The next time your servers are up for review – a "Servers in the Cloud" strategy should be considered. Ask us about the details of a "Server in the Cloud" strategy, and how that makes sense as a possible "next step."
Is WIFI simply WIFI?
This idea of connecting to the digital world "wirelessly" has become very mainstream. WIFI access points, whether they are in your office, in your home, or in a public location need to be managed.
Over the last three years, how people use the Internet has changed. When WIFI access points came to be, folks were connecting to search and review web pages and to fetch email. Each of these cases, generally speaking, are low-bandwidth requests. An access point in many cases has to handle many simultaneous connections to manage that kind of use.
However, things started changing. Folks today use Facebook on their smartphones and tablets, which now will automatically "stream" videos on your phone, whether you were asking for this or not. Likewise, with the popularity of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now, everyday users are now expecting to stream these services to their devices. These services are high-bandwidth requests.
Today the conditions in which a WIFI Access Point will be used must be taken into consideration when composing a plan. Some things to keep in mind for WIFI include:
- Consumer-based WIFI is designed to handle a few simultaneous connections and not a high number like you would find in a public area. For commercial applications, be careful to seek out commercial WIFI products.
- The router behind an Access Point is also important. Today, the number of simultaneous connections to the Internet continues to thrive, which means the router needs to also handle these connections. In commercial applications, be cognizant to the fact that older routers just do not have the horsepower to manage a high number of connections. Upgrades to SonicWall TZ400, TZ500 or TZ600 should be considered.
- Bridging WIFI access points can be done, but one has to be careful. Bridging of an access point to another access point provides connectivity without running additional cables. However, bridging (as it applies to high-bandwidth needs) can cause over-saturation of the bridged connection, causing slow-downs and freeze-ups.
- WIFI signals have trouble traversing around metal structures as well as "block walls."
- One of the latest WIFI specifications today is 802.11-ac. Older 802.11 specifications should be considered for upgrade.
The reality today is that folks are using WIFI very differently than just a few years back. Keep all these points in mind when you contemplate a new WIFI connection. For many WIFI access points that are currently running, these systems should be reviewed and upgraded to support the expanded needs of WIFI of today.
If you have any questions on WIFI and how you intend on using it, please reach out us as we can help you devise a plan.
Did You Know?
Office 365 and specifically, Exchange Online, has been popular across many business sectors in replacing older on-premises Exchange Servers as well as older POP email services. Once Exchange Online is implemented into an organization, then other services like OneDrive for Business and Yammer can be entertained and brought online. You can learn more about Office 365 and contact CDS on this very important resource.
Desktops in your organization need an upgrade plan. Many companies use a 1/5 refresh rate, which means that each year over a 5 year cycle, 1/5 of all desktops and laptops are replaced keeping your resources running streamlined. This plan is well received as it ensures that major capital is not required to purchase new PC's and laptops across the entire enterprise – all at the same time.
Many business have forgone the Windows 10 upgrade for PC's currently running Windows 7, as Windows 7 will be supported for many years yet. However, if you want to upgrade to Windows 10 on the home front, or choose to do this in business, July 29 is the end of the Windows 10 "free upgrade" offer from Microsoft. As with any upgrade, users need to review what is used on the given PC (software and hardware) before moving into the Windows 10 world. While Windows 10 is a solid O/S, there have been some issues where software upgrades are required and some hardware like printers and scanners may need replacement.
Mobile Management of devices has been a concern for many companies today. With so many handheld devices and smartphones use amongst our associates, how do we best manage the device and the content that is on it? Microsoft "Intune" is just that – a mobile management tool which is linked to Office 365. Please learn more about Microsoft Intune.
Your website may not be "Google Search" ready for the mobile world. Google is now penalizing companies who do not have a site that works across all devices. Your site can be realigned using "Responsive Design" coding which means the site arrangement changes based on the screen size and type of device. Consider reviewing your website and asking us for a "Responsive Design" freshen up, which will be what Google wants to happen as prospects search for your site in Google Search.
CryptoLocker style emails – emails looking for ransom by encrypting all files in a system is still very prevalent and consuming. Warn all of your user-base to not open attachments or click on links on emails that have not been verified by the user as trusted. When a user is sent a message with attachments or links from anyone from the outside, a phone call should be made or separate email should be sent asking if the user sent such a message intentionally.
Wire Transfer emails – be aware of emails that may come in your company's direction that may look like they are coming from someone internally – typically a "higher up" in the company requesting bank information to initiate a bank transfer. These emails may look and act like these came from a person "in the know" – complete with standard company signatures and so on. However, many companies are being fooled by these fake emails and bank information is being compromised.
Companies are spending resources on Mobile Apps for their customers and prospects. Consider the idea of having your own company's App available in the Apple and Google Store, ready for download and install by the end user. Apps that focus on providing additional functionality to the user is key to the success of your own App. Screenshots of a recently developed App developed by CDS that is an example of what we can do can be found at Apple's App Store or Google Play.