Month: June 2012

Cloud-First Policy Sets Higher Security Standards

In a blog post a few weeks back, we discussed the government policy of “cloud first.” The policy required government agencies to consider and evaluate the cloud for IT-related purposes. Of course, with anything government-related security is of the utmost concern. Therefore, the success of the policy hinges on the new government program FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program), the goal of which is to evaluate security of cloud service providers for agencies enacting the cloud first policy.

According to the program’s website, it is “a government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.” It aids the cloud first policy by setting a standard for basic security requirements that cloud service providers will have to meet before receiving any government contracts and aiming to accelerate the adoption of cloud technology. Cloud service providers (CSPs) can submit their company to be authorized by FedRAMP. Authorization requires four steps: 1) a security assessment, 2) leveraging the authority to operate, 3) ongoing assessment and authorization, and 4) accreditation by a third party (3PAO).

According to Steven Van Roekel, the U.S. chief information officer, the federal government aims to switch most of their processes to the Cloud because it is often more secure than performing the same functions in-house. This stems from the fact that the Cloud offers users the chance to maintain consistency in their computing practices: “The key to security is consistency. When you’re in these disparate federal systems you don’t have as many consistent guidelines or controls as companies do on one system,” Van Roekel said.

FedRAMP has produced a list of 160 security controls that 3PAO should look for when evaluating the CSP. They were selected from a NIST catalog of controls and are specified for the low and moderate impact information systems. The controls are broken down into the following categories:

  • Access control
  • Awareness and training
  • Audit and accountability
  • Assessment and authorization
  • Configuration management
  • Contingency planning
  • Identification and authentication
  • Incident response
  • Maintenance
  • Media Protection
  • Physical and environmental protection
  • Planning
  • Personnel security
  • Risk assessment
  • System and services acquisition
  • System and communications protection
  • System and information integrity

Each of these categories has several controls and guidelines within it that specify various standards for CSPs. For example, under the physical and environmental protection category, there is a section that pertains to emergency shutoff; it specifies that the service provider must define emergency shutoff switch locations.

If FedRAMP is able to standardize cloud security practices, it may give the Cloud the final push it needs to dominate the IT world. At IronOrbit, we provide highly secure, customizable cloud solutions for SMBs. Our Orbital Security offers multiple levels of threat management to ensure that the network and your data are always protected.

A Win-Win Partnership With The Cloud

Chances are your clients are asking you about Cloud Computing more frequently, and not providing cloud services could lose you clients. But do you really have the time to get the necessary training or the financial resources to invest in pricey equipment? Whether you’re an IT Manager at a company or an independent IT service provider, partnering with the right provider may be your best choice.

The ideal partnership can make your job easier and more efficient by alleviating the more tedious tasks (like server maintenance, software upgrades, security, etc.) so that you can focus you attention on other IT tasks that require your attention. Your client or the company that you work for will reap such benefits as: reduced costs, mobility, better network security, among others and you will be offering cutting edge solutions without with no extra effort.

In-house IT Managers

Odds are if you are an in-house IT manager reading this, you are doing so because your CEO instructed you to look into cloud computing as an option for your company; or maybe you are here of your own volition because you know your company needs to be on the cutting edge of technology in order to stay competitive in today’s market and feel that cloud computing will help with that. Maybe you are tired of managing servers and working on miscellaneous IT maintenance when your time could be focused elsewhere. But where do you start? You already have to do a million other things tech-related (such as fixing printer issues, dealing with password issues, etc.), you probably feel a bit overwhelmed, especially if you are the only IT person on staff.  The thought of outsourcing has crossed your mind, but you are not willing to give up control to some third party.

Independent IT Service Providers

If you are here as an independent IT service provider, you are probably considering the cloud because you want to retain your current clients, many of whom are probably inquiring about cloud computing. But, realistically, leveraging cloud computing on your own proves to be a daunting task: you would have to invest hundreds of thousands upfront in equipment and time in learning how to properly make use of it. It seems almost impossible to become a hosting solutions provider.

When you partner with IronOrbit, we ease those burdens. You can continue to provide all the IT support for your customers while providing them with our customizable cloud solutions. Additionally, you can become an enterprise-level hosting provider.

A Partnership That Works For You!

At IronOrbit, we strive to create lasting partnerships with IT managers that are mutually beneficial to all parties involved. We want to work for you, not compete with you. When you partner with us, you retain control of your company’s IT without having to worry about every little tedious task. We help migrate all your important data to the cloud, virtualize your desktop and maintain all the servers. Now you will have time to concentrate on other technology-related tasks. Additionally, you can make up to $40 per month per desktop by simply referring your company to IronOrbit. To ensure that everyone is happy, we have created a partner benefits program that offers IT specialists incentives for choosing IronOrbit as your partner for your cloud computing needs.

Whether you are an in-house IT manager for a small business or an independent IT service provider for a huge corporation, we have the partnership program for you. We provide our clients with other benefits for partnering with us such as:

  • Earning up to $40 a month per desktop or as much as 40% off MSRP.
  • Eliminate IT spending on Hardware, Maintenance & Security & Microsoft licensing. It’s all covered and more!
  • Disaster Recovery & Ensure Business Continuity- 100% uptime!
  • Sharply reduce & fix your IT costs.
  • And much, much more!

To find out more, visit our Partners page.

Meeting Regulatory Compliance Standards With Cloud Computing

By now you have probably heard of the regulatory compliance act known as HIPAA, even if you aren’t in the healthcare industry. But did you realize that other industries outside of the healthcare field have similar regulations in place? Here are some of the common regulatory compliance acts and laws that make sure businesses in various industries are acting appropriately and working to protect the privacy of their clients:

  • HIPAA: Protects the private information of healthcare information.
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI): Protects the confidentiality of credit card information.
  • BASEL II: Addresses the security of personal financial information stored by financial institutions as well as the transmission of financial information.
  • FERPA: Safeguards the scholastic records of students from being disseminated without their consent.

Cloud computing, especially the customized cloud solutions provided by IronOrbit, is a great way to ensure your business’s compliance with industry regulations. Our customizable cloud services and stringent security features ensure that no matter what industry you are in, your cloud will abide by your industry standards.

Full Control Through Cloud Solutions

At IronOrbit, we offer cloud solutions tailored to your company’s needs. Our team of specialists can design private, customizable clouds that are compliant with the standards of whatever industry your business is in. With our cloud solutions, you retain full control over the data you store; all we do is save you the headache of maintaining the servers they are stored on.

Less Worries, More Secure

At IronOrbit, we are extremely proud of our security measures. Our unique approach to security ensures that the sensitive data you store on the cloud is protected. By partnering with True Defense, we are able to provide our clients with Unified Threat Management, which provides a barrier between your private network and any threats, such as spyware, malware or hackers. We have also developed the revolutionary Orbital Security approach, which includes physical and environmental safety precautions at our data centers, operational security, logical and system security and backup and disaster recovery. Our goal is to protect your network so that you don’t have to worry about privacy issues.

Increase Your Business IQ With The Cloud

You’ve probably heard the phrase “you can’t know where you’re going without knowing where you’ve been.” While this usually refers to acknowledging a person’s past, the same idiom can be applied to businesses: you can’t grow your company without looking at the past. Analysis of past data is a crucial step for businesses looking to grow, but it can be an extremely daunting task, especially for smaller businesses. That’s where business intelligence (BI) comes in handy. At its core, business intelligence is software, applications and tools used to analyze a company’s data and turn it into information that can be used to make decisions in the future. The main reason companies should consider integrating BI solutions into their practices is that it provides them with insights into the future. By gathering and analyzing data, companies can make better decisions, get an idea of trends, improve their sales and figure out what areas they need to improve. There are several different types/functions of business intelligence that each reveals something different about the business world.

The one major problem with business intelligence is that the programs needed to conduct the research are often extremely large and complex, and are therefore difficult and costly to maintain. For companies wishing to engage in BI functions and processes, the cloud will be a huge asset. A study by Gartner revealed that almost one-third of the businesses they surveyed already use or plan to use SaaS programs or other cloud computing features to augment their BI functions. Some (17%) are replacing at least some of their BI systems with cloud solutions. Hosting BI tools and software on a cloud platform offers businesses several benefits, ones that are typically associated with cloud computing and with virtualizing business tools:

  • Cost: While Gartner states that there may be no significant long-term savings associated with moving your BI applications to the cloud, companies almost always save when it comes to the cloud. Since cloud computing is typically based on a pay-as-you-go model, you don’t pay for data you don’t use. Moving your BI tools to the cloud can also save you money in terms of IT support costs; since your data and applications are virtualized, you don’t have to have someone working on-site to maintain it.
  • Time: Deployment of necessary software is faster when conducted through the cloud.
  • Support: Purveyors of cloud technology generally provide tech support with their services. That way, if you encounter a problems with the software you need to conduct an analysis, someone is there to help you.

At IronOrbit, we specialize in building and maintaining custom cloud solutions for our clients. By virtualizing your desktop and hosting your applications with IronOrbit, you can perform all the BI procedures necessary to keep your business on the right track, but for a fraction of the price of what it would cost to do it on your own; our services start as low as $1/month and we guarantee we won’t hit you with any unexpected charges. Additionally, we offer 24×7 tech support as part of our list of services. If you have a problem with your virtualized software, our techs are available to help any time of day or night.

Access Granted: Remote Tech Support

As you have probably noticed by now, technology sometimes fails. And it usually fails at the most inopportune times, like when you are trying to prepare for a major presentation or you are finalizing a report that is due the next day. If you use technology at your business, chances are you going to need technical support somewhere down the line.

Despite the moments of sheer panic that nearly every person has experienced due to technology fiascos, many businesses fail to see the need of technical support. According to Erik Eckel at TechRepublic, having insufficient tech support is one of the 10 biggest mistakes a company can make, and that companies, especially small businesses who don’t have the budget to hire an in-house IT specialist, need trusted partners “who are proficient with current technologies and willing to help learn their industry’s operations requirements.”

A branch of tech support that is growing rapidly in popularity is remote tech support (usually used for software issues, not hardware). Here’s how it usually works.

  1. Call IronOrbit at (888) 603-9030, and our staff will provide you with an access code.
  2. Access the portal on our site (provided by staff), and enter your name and the aforementioned code.
  3. Once you hit “enter,” a connection will be initiated (you may be prompted to download a plugin).
  4. You will then be asked if our technician has permission to access your screen and enable sharing control of your mouse and keyboard.
  5. Once they have control, all you have to do is sit back and wait as they take care of the problem (although you do have ultimate control over your computer and can end the session at any time).

Our knowledgeable staff of IT specialists is here to help you, whether that’s by coming to your business or helping you remotely. We can provide remote support for a wide range of problems: virus removal, system maintenance, spyware removal, printing issues and many more. Best of all, these services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So if you are having trouble accessing Microsoft Word at 3:00 AM and are panicking because the proposal you are working on needs to be submitted at 8:00, just contact us.

Maintaining a Positive Balance: Hosted Accounting Software

A lot of SMB owners wear many hats: they are the CEO, they work on publicity, they interact with clients, etc. In some instances they even act as the accountant. That’s a lot of stuff to worry about. That’s where business management software programs such as Sage 50 Accounting come in handy. These programs allow businesses to streamline their processes and activities without having to hire someone to do it. Now, you might be thinking to yourself “I’ve never even heard of Sage 50.” But, chances are you have, you just know it as Peachtree Accounting. The program, owned and published by the UK-based software company Sage, was renamed for its 2013 release.

Sage 50 has several features that make it ideal for SMBs. There are multiple versions of the software available, and are selected based on your company’s needs. All of the current versions come with some of the same basic features, such as:

  • Accounts payable
  • Accounts receivable
  • Cash flow management
  • Financial reports and statements
  • And many more

One of the main problems with business management software is their price. It costs a pretty penny to invest in and license these programs, and in today’s tough financial situations, many companies are looking for ways to save money. It can also be a hassle to set up and maintain these programs. With IronOrbit’s application hosting, we have taken some of the worry out of working with these programs. Applications are stored on our servers located in state-of-the-art data centers. By virtualizing your applications, you can get all the benefits of these programs without the large upfront costs and the hassle of maintaining them. There are several advantages of having your applications hosted by IronOrbit.

24×7 IT Support

We know that problems can arise outside of the typical 9:00-5:00 office hours. When you choose IronOrbit, you are provided with complete, fully-trained IT support every day, any time of day. That way if you encounter an issue at 2:00 AM and need it fixed so you can make payroll on time, our techs available to help you, no matter if it’s a computer-related problem, a software problem or any other kind of problem.


Since security is important, especially when dealing with your business’s finances, all of our services are backed by our Orbital Security feature, designed to provide you with the highest levels of protection:

  • Physical and environmental security: The server your cloud is housed on resides in our ultra-safe data centers, which are protected by 24×7 security monitoring. They are equipped with temperature controls, fire suppression and redundant power sources.
  • Operational security: Our employees are trained in the latest security and privacy procedures. Access to private information is restricted to authorized personnel.
  • Backup and disaster recovery: Backing up your data offsite is critical, just in case there is a breach or system crash at your business. By partnering with True Defense, we provide you with comprehensive backups of your system every day.
  • Logical and system security: Our clouds are protected by the strongest firewalls and robust detection systems available. Our security team constantly monitors all equipment to make sure they are able to detect any new threats. If they detect a potential problem, our team does their best to ensure that it is blocked before it can spread to any of your vital data.

Anywhere Enabled

By virtualizing your applications with our cloud solutions, they become “anywhere enabled.” This means that you and your employees can access them from anywhere, any time. This allows you to ensure all your company’s bills are paid on-time, even if you are out of the office.

When you virtualize your Sage 50 accounting software with IronOrbit, you can help ensure that your company maintains a positive balance and stays in the black.

New Jobs: A Surprising Advantage of Cloud Computing

By now, you have probably started to see the practical benefits of cloud computing for your business: it increases mobility, saves you money, allows for fast data recovery, etc. Some experts are extending the benefits of cloud computing beyond the walls of your business by suggesting that cloud computing can help create jobs. You may be thinking to yourself that cloud computing would eliminate jobs because it drastically decreases the need for an in-house IT provider, or even removes the need altogether. There are, however, some fascinating predictions being made about the future of the job market and how it will be influenced by cloud computing.

Let’s first go on the record by saying cloud computing is not going to single-handedly change the job market. But it can definitely help. One Forbes article does a good job of illustrating this. Worldwide, there are more than 3 billion people who are employed. An IDC study commissioned by Microsoft predicts that the number of jobs created by cloud computing will be somewhere in the vicinity of 14 million by the year 2015, which represents only ½% of the global workforce. Of those 14 million jobs, “only” 1.17 million will be represented in America. While that doesn’t sound like much on a global scale, it’s a start, a start that those 1.17 million people are sure to be thankful for.

Of course, the field seeing the biggest growth in terms of job numbers is the IT industry. Since the demand for cloud services is increasing drastically, it makes sense that the need for IT experts to implement and maintain cloud technology will grow as wellAccording to a study from the Sand Hill Group, companies selling cloud services have the potential to create 472,000 jobs in the U.S. and abroad over the next five years.

While the biggest percentage of jobs created is sure to be seen in the IT industry, the cloud is also likely to create jobs in other industries ranging from healthcare to education to sales (although some industries will see much more growth than others). How, you might ask. One way that cloud computing helps create jobs is that it saves the company money; when a business migrates its data to the cloud, it no longer has to worry about expensive servers, renewing software licenses or other costly technology expenses. Instead, it can focus on other areas, such as hiring new employees; while not all companies will surely hire new employees at the first sign of cost reductions, it’s safe to assume that most will at least consider it some time down the road. Another way that cloud computing will help the future job market, according to the IDC study we previously mentioned, is through IT innovation. Improvements and advancements in technology lead to business innovation, which increases revenue. Increased revenue usually means an increased demand, which, in turn, leads to a need for more employees. Additionally, people are no longer limited by geographical location. Since the cloud allows an employee to access a company’s data infrastructure applications from anywhere, a company (if they so choose) can hire a promising candidate from a totally different area and not have to pay for relocation or be confined to hiring locals.

 At IronOrbit, we focus on providing our customers with customizable cloud solutions. We understand that the cloud has the potential to revolutionize the way companies conduct business, so we offer several tools that help in that process: managed servers, virtualized desktops and hosted applications, just to name a few. All of these solutions allow you to forget about the intricacies of running your company’s technology and focus on growing your business.

4G And The Cloud: A Perfect Pair

4G is currently the fastest and most advanced form of wireless technology available right now. The speed and efficiency that has come to be synonymous with 4G has had a profound effect on cloud computing. But before we get into that, we should probably start at the beginning, and define what 4G is.

As with all things technological, there does not seem to be a cohesive definition of what the term 4G means. An acronym, 4G stands for fourth generation wireless, but beyond that the definition gets hazy. Google the phrase “what is 4G” and the search yields thousands of results, each with a slightly definition; the one thing they all seem to agree on is the fact that it is the successor to 3G (although that much is fairly obvious, even to the least tech-savvy). The underlying idea behind most definitions (and the one most people probably associate it with) is that 4G is the most advanced (for now) form of wireless communication technology available. In 2009, the radio-communications division International Telecommunications Union (ITU-R) convened and established a set of standards for 4G. According to the organization, only two technologies (WiMax 2 and Long-Term Evolution Advanced) were worthy of being called 4G.  In the end, however, so-called “4G” devices all offer the same benefits: they are faster and offer a broader range of services than their predecessors. They are generally more secure than previous embodiments as well. Because of all of its capabilities, 4G figures to have a profound impact on the economy. Deloitte predicts that between 2012 and 2016, U.S. investments in 4G will range from $25-$53 billion, which could lead to a GDP growth of $73-$151 billion and create 371,000-771,000 new jobs.

4G has greatly influenced cloud computing. According to the Deloitte report, when 4G networks are combined with cloud computing, “the capabilities of these technologies working in concert can enhance the functioning of the entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem.” Loosely translated, if a company uses both 4G and cloud computing technologies, they can be on the cutting edge of the business world. The single greatest influence that 4G has on the cloud is in terms of speed; it allows cloud providers to deliver a cloud system to the end user quickly and efficiently. While you know that the cloud drastically increases your mobility by granting you to access your company’s data and applications from wherever you are. When accessed via a 4G network (which allows the user to download ten times the amount of data per second than its predecessor) the speed and efficiency at which you can access those important files is greatly increased. Quick access also has a direct effect on the storage capacity of a cloud. Since the user can access a cloud quicker than on an older network, the provider can leverage larger applications and larger data sets for them. Additionally, collaboration is greatly increased because employees can access the same files and same applications quickly, without much delay. While 4G and cloud computing can work just fine independently of one another, they work best as a pair.

With customized cloud solutions from IronOrbit, your business can capitalize on the benefits that come with 4G technology. Using your 4G-enabled devices, you can quickly access your data and desktop from anywhere, any time of day.