Month: January 2019

The Benefits of Hosted SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint is server-based software that you can use to centrally store all of your company’s files.

It makes it easier to find, organize, protect, and back up this data, and to comply with data control regulations such as HIPAA, SOX, and PCI DSS.

It can also increase collaboration between employees and make it easier for supervisors to monitor and manage their subordinates.

SharePoint is primarily used as a file storage system. Its file storage features include the ability to upload, download, move, copy, rename, delete, and search for files and folders.

The ability set permissions which allow you to dictate who can access which files and folders. And an audit trail which logs any changes made to any of the files and folders on the software.

SharePoint also has enterprise social networking and project management features, including “sites”. Sites refer to areas in the SharePoint software where teams of users can do the following:

  • Post files and messages for each other
  • Shared calendars
  • Task assigning and tracking
  • And management of personal profiles and blogs (where users can write about what they’re working on and how much progress they’ve made on these tasks, for example).

There are two main ways to deploy SharePoint: one is to host it on an onsite server at one of your offices. The other is to pay a hosting company to host it for you.

The benefits of IT hosted SharePoint

Paying an IT hosting company to host your SharePoint for you has a number of benefits, including:

Increased accessibility

Hosted SharePoint can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, smartphone, or thin client.

An onsite deployment of SharePoint, in contrast, may only be accessible from the same location as the underlying hardware. With hosted SharePoint, you can access all of the files that you would normally only be able to access at the office from anywhere, which can increase your productivity.

It also allows you to maintain a single, centralized database of all of your files that everyone in your organization can access, regardless of location. This makes it easier for employees in different locations to collaborate with each other, and also makes it easier to protect and back up all of your files.

Decreased IT management hassles

With hosted SharePoint, the hosting company will take care of installing and setting up the SharePoint software.

It will also take care of purchasing and maintaining the underlying hardware. In addition, some hosting companies will also perform the migration process for you for a small fee, and others offer “managed” hosting, in which they monitor, protect, update, back up, and support your hosted solution for you.

With your hosting company managing and maintaining your SharePoint deployment for you, you (and any IT employees you may have) can forget about basic IT management tasks and focus on other, more important areas of your business.

Increased security and reliability

Hosted SharePoint is generally more secure and reliable than an in-house deployment of SharePoint because hosting companies can afford to implement more advanced security and downtime prevention measures than your average business.

For example, hosting companies can afford to implement security measures such as:

  • Around-the-clock monitoring and alarm response
  • Enterprise-grade firewalls, IDS/IPS, and antivirus
  • In-transit and at-rest encryption,
  • And, at their datacenters, 24x7x365 security patrols, biometric access panels, locked metal doors, and server cages.

They can also afford to implement downtime prevention measures such as 24x7x365 monitoring and maintenance; redundant servers, networking equipment, Internet, and electrical power; RAID storage; uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) and backup diesel generators; and geographically-separated datacenters.

Easier compliance

Paying an IT hosting company to host your SharePoint deployment for you makes it easier to comply with data control regulations such as HIPAA, SOX, and PCI DSS. Since many hosted solutions come with so many security and data loss prevention features (firewalls, antivirus, encryption, backups, etc.) that they already comply with many of these regulations’ requirements with no further adjustments needed.

In addition, many hosting companies offer compliance hosting services, in which they’ll custom-build hosted solutions for you so that they fully comply with certain regulations.

To sign up for hosted SharePoint, simply contact your preferred hosting company.

HIPAA IT Compliance: A Quick Guide

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law from 1996 that requires most healthcare organizations to ensure the privacy and security of most of their patients’ information.

The three different types of healthcare organizations that HIPAA applies to are: healthcare providers (including hospitals and physicians offices), health  plans (including health insurance companies), and health care clearinghouses (including billing services).

It also applies to any person or organization that these three types of healthcare organizations share their patients’ data with—so-called “Business Associates”—including IT hosting companies like IronOrbit.

The law requires these organizations to ensure the privacy and security of any “individually identifiable health information,” which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines as “information that relates to:

  • the individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition,
  • the provision of health care to the individual, or
  • the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual, and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual. Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number).”

HIPAA requires healthcare organizations to protect this data by doing the following:

  • Implementing “reasonable and appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to prevent the intentional or unintentional use of disclosure” of this data
  • Implementing “technical policies and procedures that allow only authorized persons to access electronic” individually identifiable health information
  • Implementing measures to prevent unauthorized physical access to any IT hardware that contains or handles any individually identifiable health information
  • Keeping this data from being “improperly altered or destroyed”
  • Protecting this data from being inappropriately accessed when it’s being transferred via a network
  • Setting up an auditing system that logs activity on systems that contain this data

In addition to ensuring the privacy and security of patients’ information, HIPAA also requires healthcare organizations to do the following:

  • Perform risk analyses on a regular basis in which they consider all potential risks to patient data and implement or change their security policies, procedures, and measures to protect their data from these risks
  • Designate a privacy and security official that’s formally in charge of “developing and implementing” the organizations’ privacy and security policies and procedures
  • Develop, implement, and maintain privacy and security policies and procedures, and maintain records of these privacy and security policies and procedures for at least six years “after the later of the date of their creation or last effective date”
  • Train their employees to follow these privacy and security policies and procedures
  • Sign “Business Associate Contracts” with anyone outside of their own organization they allow to access their patients’ information
  • Notify affected patients, the HHS, and “prominent” media outlets within 60 days whenever a security breach occurs

Penalties for noncompliance with HIPAA can reach up to $1.5 million per calendar year per violated HIPAA requirement.

Organizations will not be punished if their violations that are not the result of “willful neglect” and they correct them within 30 days of becoming aware of them.

Employees of healthcare organizations may face criminal charges, and up to 10 years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000, if they knowingly make patients’ information available to people that aren’t authorized to access them.

HIPAA Compliance Hosting: Features and Benefits

Compliance hosting is when an IT hosting company customizes a hosted solution so that it complies with a certain regulation, such as PCI DSS or SOX.

HIPAA compliance hosting, of course, is a hosted solution that has been customized to comply with the IT requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Hosted solutions that can be made HIPAA compliant include hosted virtual desktops, hosted virtual and dedicated servers, hosted Terminal Services/Remote Desktop Services servers, and standalone hosted applications such as hosted EMR/EHR software and hosted SharePoint.

HIPAA, if you’re not familiar with it, is a federal law that requires most healthcare organizations (including healthcare providers such as hospitals and physicians’ offices, health insurance companies, and health care clearinghouses) to ensure the privacy and security of patients’ information.

Organizations can be penalized up to $1.5 million per year for every HIPAA requirement that they violate. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also publicizes violations and the resulting penalties on its website.

HIPAA Security and Data Loss Prevention Measures

A HIPAA-compliant hosted solution usually includes some or all of the following security and data loss prevention measures:

  • An authentication system that requires each person with access to the solution to select a unique username and password, and to have to log in in order to access the solution
  • Two-factor authentication (which requires users to log in with both a password and a temporary code that’s texted to their phone number after they’ve entered the correct password)
  • Automatically-enforced password strength requirements (including minimum length and the required use of symbols, numbers, and upper and lowercase letters), and requiring users to change their passwords after a certain number of days (usually 90)
  • Network and system security measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection, and prevention systems (IDS/IPS), network segmentation, spam filtering, content filtering, in-transit, and at-rest encryption, patch management, and antivirus software
  • Physical security measures at the hosting company’s data centers such as unlisted and nondescript buildings, locked metal doors, biometric access panels (finger and palm print readers and eye scanners), security guards, alarms, closed-circuit video surveillance cameras, server cages, and mandatory check-ins, IDs, and escorts for all visitors
  • Around-the-clock monitoring of the hosted solution’s security by the hosting provider’s personnel, who’ll immediately respond to any security issues that they find
  • A data backup system that automatically backs up all of the solution’s data on a regular basis
  • Logging of all user login attempts and other significant actions

In addition to making your hosted solution compliant with HIPAA, other benefits of HIPAA compliance hosting include:

Less IT management hassles

With HIPAA compliance hosting, most hosting companies will set up, manage, and maintain the hosted solution for you. They’ll purchase and set up the hosting hardware and software, deploy the solution, and implement and maintain all of the necessary security and data loss prevention measures. That includes authentication systems, network and system security measures, around-the-clock monitoring, and automated data backups.

Lower costs

It’s often more affordable for healthcare organizations to sign up for HIPAA compliance hosting than it is for them to deploy the solution in-house in a compliant way.

This is mainly because with HIPAA compliance hosting you’re sharing the hosting company’s security and data loss prevention measures.

These checks include enterprise-level authentication systems, data backup systems, 24x7x365 system, and network monitoring and alarm response, etc. with the hosting company’s other customers.

So, you only have to pay a small percentage of the total costs of these measures—while if you implemented a HIPAA-compliant solution in-house you’d be responsible for 100 percent of the costs.

Increased security

The security measures included with a HIPAA-compliant hosted solution not only make the solution compliant with HIPAA, they also protect your organization from costly and disruptive security breaches.

Increased accessibility

Hosted solutions such as hosted desktops and hosted applications can be accessed from anywhere from any Internet-connected computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Among other things, this allows healthcare workers to access their applications and files outside of the workplace. This means allowing doctors to complete some of their work from the comfort of home, for example. Or to access patients’ records and give a diagnosis or treatment advice if the doctors are unable to make it to the hospital or office.

This allows doctors to access their applications and files from a tablet that they carry with them rather than having to log in to a new PC in each different examination room. It also enables healthcare organizations to outsource some of their work to remote employees to improve quality or reduce costs.

For example, outsourcing the analysis of medical imaging tests to a doctor in another area because there aren’t any qualified specialists in the area or because the ones that are in the area are too expensive.

Increased scalability

 

Hosted solutions are scalable, which means that you can add (or subtract) any amount of users and resources such as vCPUs, RAM, and storage space to them (or from them) quickly and easily.

This makes it quicker and easier for healthcare organizations to supply new hires with IT resources they need to do their do their jobs.

It also makes it easier for healthcare organizations to add IT resources as they expand. As well as to reduce them when downsizing without getting stuck with a bunch of unused, expensive hardware.

To sign up for HIPAA compliance hosting, simply contact an IT hosting company that offers it and that’s capable of meeting all of your IT requirements and preferences.

onthenetPhone: Features and Benefits

onthenetPhone is IronOrbit’s hosted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service.

VoIP is a technology that allows you to make and receive phone calls primarily via the Internet instead of primarily via regular landlines (also known as the Public Switched Telephone Network, or PSTN) and/or mobile phone networks.

How to Use VoIP?

To use VoIP, you just need to be signed up for a VoIP service, be connected to the Internet, and have a specialty VoIP phone, a regular phone with a VoIP adapter, or VoIP software on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

The process of receiving and making a phone call with VoIP is basically the same as it is with a PSTN or mobile phone.

For example, to receive a call with a VoIP phone, you just pick up the receiver; and to make a call with a VoIP phone, you just pick up the receiver and dial. You can use VoIP to call and receive calls from PSTN and mobile phones.

VoIP also uses the same phone numbering system as landlines and mobile phones, so when you sign up for VoIP you’ll need to either select a new 10-digit phone number or reassign your existing landline or mobile number to your new VoIP account.

Is it Cost-Effective?

The main reason that many businesses select VoIP over a landline is cost. VoIP usually costs less than a landline because VoIP relies on a resource that you already pay for, the Internet; because VoIP uses a more efficient method of transferring audio data (packet switching instead of circuit switching); and because it’s usually a lot cheaper to transfer data over the Internet than the PSTN.

onthenetPhone, for example, comes with unlimited domestic calling, and its international calling rates are a fraction of those of a PSTN or mobile phone service.

onthenetPhone is a type of VoIP called hosted (or cloud-based) VoIP. With hosted VoIP, the VoIP provider deploys the VoIP solution in one of its data centers, and you access the solution via the Internet.

The alternative to hosted VoIP is onsite VoIP, which requires you to install and maintain at least some VoIP hardware and software (such as $1,000+ VoIP gateways) at one of your offices. The advantages of hosted VoIP over onsite VoIP include:

Less hassles

less work hassle with VoIP

With hosted VoIP, you don’t have to set up and maintain a lot of onsite VoIP hardware and software. In many cases, to begin using hosted VoIP, all you have to do is connect your VoIP phone to the Internet or download and install a VoIP client onto your computer, tablet, or smartphone. You usually configure your VoIP solution via the VoIP provider’s online portal.

More flexibility

hosted VoiP is more flexible

Because hosted VoIP doesn’t require the purchase of any expensive onsite VoIP hardware or software, it’s easier and less costly to switch back to a PSTN line from hosted VoIP than from onsite VoIP.

Increased accessibility

VoIP accessibility

Hosted VoIP can be accessed from anywhere and from any VoIP-compatible office phone, computer, tablet, or smartphone by default, while onsite VoIP may only be accessible from the single office where it’s deployed.

The anywhere-accessibility of hosted VoIP allows your employees to make and receive calls from their office number no matter where they are (such as when they’re traveling or providing services in the field), and allows businesses with multiple offices and/or a lot of employees working from home to provide VoIP access to everyone in the organization with a single VoIP deployment.

Making and receiving calls with hosted VoIP are the same processes as making and receiving calls with onsite VoIP. It’s picking up the receiver or picking up the receiver and dialing if you’re using a VoIP phone, and launching the VoIP software and selecting “Accept” or typing in a number if you’re using VoIP software on a PC, tablet, or smartphone.

Private Branch Exchange (PBX) Features

Moreover, another advantage that onthenetPhone has over regular PSTN landlines is that it comes with private branch exchange (PBX) features for no additional cost such as:

  • Auto-attendant menu system
  • Call detail recording (CDR)
  • Call groups
  • Call holding
  • Call monitoring
  • Call parking
  • Call queues
  • Call recording
  • Call transferring
  • Conference calling
  • Find me/follow me
  • Hold music
  • Time-based routing
  • Voicemail
  • Voicemail-to-email

Among other things, these PBX features will make your business as a whole seem more well-established and trustworthy to callers; make it easier for callers to get the assistance they’re looking for, potentially improving your customer service and increasing sales; and make it easier for supervisors to monitor and manage their workers’ use of the phones.

Furthermore, onthenetPhone also comes with free 24x7x365 technical support, a 100 percent uptime guarantee. You don’t have to worry about ever being unable to make or receive calls as a result of downtime. Plus,  it’s low-cost setup and migration support comes with the package.

To sign up for onthenetPhone, contact IronOrbit at any time at sales@Ironorbit.com or (888) 753-5060.

Why Call Centers Should Switch to Hosted Desktops

A hosted desktop is a Windows desktop operating system that you access via the Internet. You can access a hosted desktop from any Internet-connected computer, tablet, smartphone, or thin client.

In most cases, each user is assigned to a single, specific hosted desktop, and the desktop retains all of the user’s files and applications even after he or she logs out.

To sign up for hosted desktops, you usually have to contact an IT hosting company and ask them to deploy and set up the desktops for you. You usually pay for them by the month.

Call centers should consider replacing their current IT setup with hosted desktops for multiple reasons.

Cost

Because the main reason that businesses outsource their customer support operations to call center companies is to reduce their costs, it’s important for call center companies to be as cost-efficient as possible.

Hosted desktops can reduce a call center’s IT costs because they don’t require the purchase of any expensive onsite hardware or the hiring of any additional IT personnel.

Hosted desktops can be accessed from low-cost devices such as refurbished PCs and thin clients without a decrease in performance or reliability. Moreover, because hosting companies can provide hosted desktops to you at a lower cost than it would take you to deploy and maintain them yourself due to their economies of scale.

Manageability

Call centers tend to be difficult environments to manage, both for supervisors and IT administrators, because they usually involve large numbers of employees and desktops.

Hosted desktops make it easier to manage large numbers of call center employees and desktops. However, since unlike physical PCs they’re centralized onto a relatively small number of interconnected servers and are software-defined assets that are ready to integrate with a desktop management solution without any further customization.

Hosted desktops make it easier for supervisors to monitor their employees and set permissions and for IT administrators to perform management tasks such as security and performance monitoring, virus scanning, patch management, data backups, and remoting into computers to provide technical support.

Hosted desktops may also allow IT administrators to avoid having to perform these management tasks altogether if their hosting company is one that includes management and support services with their hosted desktops.

Security

Some call centers handle sensitive customer data such as payment card data, medical records, and social security numbers. Hosted desktops make it easier to protect this data from unauthorized access and inappropriate handling.

The centralization and virtualization of hosted desktops make them easier to protect, monitor, scan for malware, maintain an audit trail on, and disinfect than physical PCs.

And because hosted desktops are processed and stored on the hosting provider’s servers, call centers don’t have to worry as much about protecting end-point devices from cyberattacks and physical theft.

Scalability

Many call centers have relatively high employee turnover rates. Some also have to add or subtract large numbers of employees in a short period of time. They do it in order to fulfill the terms of a contract or to downsize once a contract has reached the end of its duration.

With hosted desktops, you can add or subtract as many desktops as you want at any time. This eliminates having to purchase or set up any hardware. Each desktop usually only takes a few minutes to deploy.

Ability to integrate telecommuters

Many call centers are hiring telecommuters these days instead of onsite workers in order to reduce their real estate costs. They also do it to hire more cost-efficient or higher-skilled employees that live too far away to commute or that prefer to work from home.

Hosted desktops make it easier for call centers to hire telecommuters. This is because they can be accessed from anywhere with any device. So, telecommuters can use their personal computer to connect to the hosted desktop. Call centers just need to provide telecommuters with their own hosted desktops in order to equip them with all of the IT resources they need to do their job.

Call centers can sign up for hosted desktops from IronOrbit by contacting us at sales@Ironorbit.com or (888) 753-5060.

How the Cloud Makes Backups Easier

It’s important for businesses to back up their electronic data, especially any data that would be difficult or impossible to recreate from nothing.

The loss of important data can result in lost customers and sales, lost productivity, and financial penalties and other sanctions. Both the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), for example, require businesses. This is to maintain certain records for a designated period of time.

In addition, maintaining accurate and comprehensive records usually makes it easier to prove your case to industry or government regulators. And also to resolve disputes (overbilling, contracts, services rendered, etc.) with customers and suppliers.

How to properly perform a cloud backup?

cloud backup

You should back up all of your important data at least once, and you should store this backup data on a different drive or disk than the one you store the original on. You also shouldn’t store the drive or disk containing the backup data in the same place as where you store the drive or disk with the original data. Nor should there be an open network connection between the two drives.

By following these best practices, you’ll ensure that your original and backup data won’t be lost in the same localized incident—for example, a burglary, an electrical fire, a ransomware/cryptovirus infection, or a natural disaster such as a flood, hurricane, wildfire, tornado, or earthquake.

Unfortunately, following these data backups best practices on a company-wide level when your IT is mainly onsite can be difficult and costly.

Cloud backup or physical storage?

First, you either have to purchase backup storage drives or disks or sign up for a cloud-based data backup service.

Both data storage hardware and cloud-based data storage are pretty affordable these days (you can easily find 5 TB consumer-grade storage drives for $100 online, for example). But, these costs can quickly add up if your business has a lot of data or if you want to back up your files to more than one backup drive or disk.

Consider an enterprise cloud backup solution

Second, you may have to purchase an enterprise backup solution that will allow you to assemble and back up data from all of the devices in your company, including servers, PCs, tablets, and smartphones.

Monitoring is vital

Third, you will have to continually monitor and maintain all of your storage hardware and/or software, as well as monitor and review the backups themselves to ensure that they are being performed correctly.

It’s usually easier and more cost-efficient to back up all of your company’s data when your company has a primarily cloud-based IT system. This is first because some cloud providers will back up all of your cloud-based data for you for no additional cost. Secondly, even cloud providers that charge extra for backing up your data (or that include the cost of the backups in the bill for your hosted solution, for that matter) usually charge less than it would cost you to back up your data yourself.

Cloud providers are able to perform backups for less cost than most businesses mainly because they can purchase storage hardware and software and bandwidth at a discount. It’s possible through bulk/volume buying programs and by buying low-cost commodity hardware directly from manufacturers.

At the same time, cloud providers are able to afford to use more advanced data backup measures than most businesses, including data deduplication, in-transit, and at-rest encryption, RAID drives, frequent data integrity checks, and offsite data backups to more than one location.

In addition, for businesses that want to handle their own data backups, backing up cloud-based IT systems is easier than backing up onsite systems. Since cloud-based systems are centralized onto a small number of interconnected servers and are easier to integrate with a data backup solution since they’re software-defined assets.

Hosted Virtual Desktop: What Is It?

A hosted virtual desktop is a next-gen Windows operating system that you can access from anywhere, with any device, via the Internet.

It can do anything a Windows OS on a local PC can do. You can use it to run all your applications, store all your files, send and receive email, and browse the web. Plus, it’s faster and more secure than your local PC.

When you use a standard Windows desktop, you can only work on a single device, in a single location.

Not so with hosted virtual desktops. You can access them from any location, whether you’re at work, at home, or anywhere in between. You can access them from any device you want, including:

  • Windows desktops & laptops
  • Apple computers (MacBooks, Mac Pros, etc.)
  • iPads & iPhones
  • Android tablets & smartphones
  • Linux computers

With hosted desktops, or Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), you have the freedom to work remotely. This technology eliminates the need to work on your office desk alone.

Hosted Virtual Desktops vs In-House IT

managed cloud services expert

With a traditional in-house IT, all assets, from desktops to servers, are onsite. Businesses with in-house IT solutions have a dedicated team of individuals responsible for resolving issues with the IT system and infrastructure.

Hosted desktops are the exact opposite of in-house IT. The IT hosting company will move your Windows applications into the cloud for remote access.

The process of shifting to a hosted virtual desktop involves installation of your OS on the server. This enables you to access your files, applications, and documents from any Internet-connected device.  So long as you have Internet access, you’ll be able to run applications with a hosted desktop.

Why Make The Switch?

More and more companies are now embracing digital transformation for a good reason: to reduce manual task and increase productivity. Having the ability to work anywhere helps you  accomplish tasks. Aside from flexibility, hosted desktops also offer these benefits:

Cost-Effective IT Solution

Hosted virtual desktop services no longer require you to purchase expensive PCs just to maintain workplace productivity. You can access hosted desktops even from an old PC. It doesn’t affect the user experience because your OS is stored on the server of your hosting provider. Managing email, applications, and file storage has never been this easy.

Improved Security

Hosting companies consider security a top priority. More often than not, the monthly fee you pay for a hosting company already includes patch management, data backups, and hosted virtual desktop security maintenance. That said, there’s no need to spend thousands of dollars on protecting your sensitive files and documents from threats.

Maintenance-Free

When your operating system is locally installed, you’re responsible for maintaining your PCs. A virtual hosted desktop spares you the headache of maintaining your servers and PCs because you can host your applications on the server of your hosting provider.

Hosted Virtual Desktops: The History

server hosting business

Virtualization existed even in the ’60s. However, it had some limitations that kept it from taking off. One was that hardware virtualization could only process one task at a time.

This meant that the rest of the tasks had to be queued in batches. Just like most inventions, it wasn’t long before experts came along to improve the functionalities of virtualization.

With the emergence of new features after a few decades, managing multiple computers became easier. Hence, the use of virtual machines. How did this innovation change lives?

Well, for one, it enabled businesses to increase efficiency, and address stability and security concerns. Imagine eliminating the burden of depending on one device. It’s a whiff of fresh air for everyone. You don’t have to think about the safety of your data, especially when machines have been compromised.

Imagine eliminating the burden of depending on one device. It’s a whiff of fresh air for everyone. You don’t have to think about the safety of your data, especially when machines have been compromised.

Sensitive data becomes impervious to natural disaster and human error because you’re not storing them on individual machines. It’s a clever way to ensure data is in good hands. You’re not using a shared network.

That said, only people who has access to your resources can view your files and applications. You decrease the likelihood of file corruption because employees access data from a separate operating system.  The VMware hosted virtual desktop is one of the providers that offer this feature.

The Rise of Hosted Virtual Desktop

Between the ’60s-’90s, you won’t notice any significant difference on hosted virtual desktops except gaining access to data, which is centrally stored. As the concept of hosted virtual desktops became popular in the late ’90s and early 2000s, the IT needs to kick the strategy up a notch to combat new security threats.

It’s a turning point for providers to implement cloud technology or cloud-hosted virtual desktop that will shield files and documents against complex security threats.

So when your files are stored in the cloud, you’re also reducing the likelihood of your sensitive data being hacked. Why? Simply because you could only access your files with an Internet connection.

In 2004, virtualization gained traction when new rules regarding management responsibilities were put in place. How did this come about? High-profile security threats paved a wider way for IT experts to come up with a more stringent rule that will not only increase the functionality of a hosted desktop but also create a security tool.

Providers are continuously releasing updates and revision up to the present. Each update will also require businesses to comply with the security requirement to cope with the changes in technology.

Who Can Reap The Benefits Of Hosted Virtual Desktops?

The primary purpose of hosted desktops is to remove time-consuming tasks by simplifying processes. Here are the key industries that can benefit from hosted virtual desktops:

Professional Services

If your company offers professional services, such as legal or financial, there are many ways your company can benefit from the hosted desktop software. You can migrate industry-specific applications into the hosted desktop software to streamline business operations and processes.

You don’t have to keep on reminding yourself to perform an upgrade because most providers will update the applications and software for you.

Law and accountancy firms store sensitive files, which require strict data management practices. An advanced personal hosted virtual desktop has the ability to store data in a specific data center governed by data protection laws. With security measures in place, it will be difficult for hackers to steal your data.

Healthcare

In 2017, WannaCry ransomware crippled the healthcare industry due to its unpatched system. With more than 230,000 Windows OS computers affected across 150 countries, such damages incurred billions. This hacking scandal only proves that you need to be one step ahead of cybercriminals.

Data breaches occur when unauthorized individuals can freely access your files when the staff connects to unsecured networks. Hosted virtual desktop providers can lock down files as a way of protecting your data from being stolen. Hospitals also have heaps of paperwork that medical staff has to carry to consultations or around campus. Why risk losing some of these essential files when you can reduce the paper trail by moving important files into the cloud?

New Businesses

Running a small or start-up company is no excuse to let data security to take a backseat. This is one misconception that has led many small businesses to fall victim to cyber crimes. Your files are important even as a startup.

A hosted virtual desktop for small business gives you a significant amount of savings because you’ll no longer have to worry about hiring a support staff to maintain your IT environment or pay upfront server costs.

Both of these services have a comprehensive hosted virtual desktop pricing and they can be outsourced at a flat monthly rate. Scalability is one of the stand-out benefits of hosted desktop service. You can also consider hosted virtual desktop free of charge, but it has some limitations.  It makes your IT environment more sustainable with the option to scale up or down your service.

Hosted virtual desktops help you streamline business processes to accomplish tasks in a timely fashion. You’ll also gain greater peace of mind because the minimal IT management responsibilities allow you to focus on other aspects of your business that matter.

Data Backup Strategy: Your 5 Minute Overview

You know that your business needs to be backing up its data, but you’re not sure about the best way to do it.

In this blog post, we’ll give you all the info you need to choose the best data backup strategy for your business.

Consider Your Business Requirements

The first step in any corporate data backup strategy is to consider what you need your backups for.

The main reasons to back up your business’s data are:

  • To keep from losing and having to re-do work
  • For compliance purposes
  • To keep from not being able to work because of lost documents and application file

Of course, in an ideal world, you’d just back up your entire IT in real-time, in several locations, with an infinite number of file versions, and be done with it.

But that wouldn’t be very cost-effective, even if your business could afford it.

As much as possible, you need to analyze your requirements for each type of data (financial records, CRM data, ERP data, marketing documents, etc.). You should consider things like:

  • How much of this data can I afford to lose in terms of time? (For example, if you perform backups every 4 hours, then you should be willing to lose up to 4 hours’ worth of data)
  • How fast do I need to be able to restore this data if the original copy gets lost?-How long do I need to keep this data for?
  • What’s the likelihood that I’ll ever need to retrieve this data?
  • Am I required by law to protect this data from deletion?

Types of Data Backup

data backup strategy

There are three different types of data backups:

  • Real-time
  • Periodic
  • Geolocation

Real-Time Backups

realtime backup

Real-time is pretty self-explanatory. You back up your data basically as soon as it’s created or edited – right up to the second, or as close to it as possible.
Real-time backups are great if you’d prefer not to lose any data, as you would if you backed up every hour, for example.

One downside to real-time backups is that they can be expensive and resource-intensive. You usually need a persistent network connection and high-speed, high-capacity storage drives.

Another issue is that real-time backups can also back up malware and maliciously encrypted and corrupted data, along with your other files. This can worsen security breaches and lead to the data loss that you were trying to prevent in the first place.

Periodic Backups

periodic backup

Periodic backups are backups that you perform after a certain length of time. For example: every hour, day, or month.

As mentioned, with periodic backups you accept the risk of losing any data created between one periodic backup and another.

But periodic backups are also cheaper and less resource-intensive than real-time backups. You can run them overnight to avoid overloading your networks and storage systems.

You can perform them on cheap yet reliable hard drives or tape drives since they don’t require the speed and I/O throughput of real-time backups. They let you cancel a backup in the event that all your production files are encrypted by a Cryptolocker-style virus.

If you’re like a lot of businesses, you may find that a combination of real-time and periodic backups works best for you:

  • Real-time backups for your most important and most actively-used files.
  • Periodic backups of your least important, seldom-used files. And as a hedge against malware, cryptoviruses, and corrupted files.

Geolocation Backups

geolocation backup

Geolocation backups is what I call it when you back up your data to a different domestic or international region.

These kinds of backups keep your data from being destroyed in a localized disaster like a natural disaster or power outage.

They also allow your employees to continue working in the event of a localized disaster. This usually only works as part of an overarching business continuity framework, though.

(You’ve backed up your data in a safe location- but do your employees know how to access it? Do they have access to their applications, too? What about desktops?)

Deciding on a Data Backup Strategy

types of data backup

So now you’ve thought about your business’s practical requirements for backups. And you’ve learned about the main types of backups and their pros and cons.

Now it’s time to formulate a corporate data backup strategy and put it into place.

Ultimately your strategy will depend on your business’s unique requirements. It’ll also depend on your budget and overall priorities as a business.

If you need any help, you can reach out to us or ask your questions in the comments section. We’ll be happy to provide advice based on our 20+ years’ developing our own highly-resilient storage network for our cloud platform.

Data Backup & Recovery – What’s the Best Strategy for Your Business?

You’re backing up your business’s data – but are you doing it the right way?

In this edition of CXO Tactical Advisor, we’ll explain why you shouldn’t be backing up just for the sake of backing up. You need to have a data backup strategy that aligns with your practical business requirements, and you to need to plan and execute it with diligence and exactness.

Video Transcript

James Elliott here, your Tactical CXO Advisor, with another in our practical series of [tips for] strategic IT deployments for your organization.

Wanted to start with a quick question: do you do backups? And the answer a lot of people give, yes, we have backups, but the real question is: do you have backups that work for your business?

And so today we’re going to be talking about a couple of real simple points:

  1. Practical business requirements
  2. The types of backups
  3. And, most important, restoration

Practical Business Requirements

data backup policy

First when we talk about practical business requirements, we don’t want to back up just for the sake of backing up, we want to back up and have meaningful backups that we can use for business.

A couple of examples of those is: one, we don’t want to lose time for our employees re-entering data, so we want to make sure that we have backups that cover day to day work.

We also want to have backups that cover potential loss where we have people at work but they can’t do their work because the system is down.

We also want to have what we call incremental backups and that’s going to deal with things like financial closings, operational closings for your ERP system.

Another consideration might be disaster recovery. So you want to have your data in a location where you can recover should something like an earthquake happen here in California. We definitely have a provision for that.

Just sit down and think about what realistically you can think of that you would need a backup for.

Types of Data Backups

data backup techniques

So now move to types. We’re going to talk specifically about each one of the types that goes with those topics.

First type of backup: realtime backup. So realtime backup is where the data is as close to real time is backed up on a drive or a mirrored system.

That data is basically available for retrieval in, say, 15 minutes time. So take the system down, you would transfer over and bring it back up.

The next type we have is periodic. So that would be end of day, end of month. But it basically allows you to go back and select a period of time where you can go and restore the data and know exactly what data to put in subsequent to that.

And the last type is what we call geolocation data. And that’s the data that’s located in a different geographic region, usually different for kind of risk. So earthquake-type data in LA you would maybe back up in Dallas, be worried about tornadoes say in Oklahoma. You may want to have your data located on the eastern seaboard.

Data Recovery: Real-Time Backups

data backup recovery

So moving down into our most important point, and that’s the restoration of data or what we call restore, very important.

The restoration of data is both planned for and tested. We want to make sure that you understand that restoring John Doe’s data because he lost a file last week is not what we consider a test of restoring data.

We want to actually write out scripts for each type of the data loss so that both the technical team and the employees on the floor know exactly how to resolve their work and get back to where they were prior to the event that occurred.

So have a script where we actually will pull the plug on the system and then we’ll want to restore over to the other data. And so we’re going to is basically simulate a drive failure for example on the primary database.

We’ll move over, switch everything over to the new system, and then we’ll bring it back up and then we’ll have users actually test their data.

So we’ll say, okay, we know at 1:10 in the afternoon, the system went down and we’re going to test our last entries and make sure that we capture exactly where we left off.

Data Recovery: Periodic & Geolocation Backups

data backup & recovery

Next we want to actually practice a periodic restore. So the same thing, at this point we’ll say we need to restore to last night’s data because we had a Bitlocker virus.

So we’re going to restore the system. Bring all the data backup online. Then we’re going to instruct our employees to gather all the information and work that they did so that we can reenter, basically recreate the day or part of the day or whatever the important part is.

And then the last is usually because of some sort of natural disaster, but it could also be an Internet outage or something like that. We want to test our geographical backup.

The most common way that geographic backups work these days is that we use a remote access solution where people that were in the building, say in LA, they had an earthquake.

They’ll be able to work on the system in Dallas, but there’ll be doing it from their home until we can restore business operations in LA. So it’s important that when we do that simulation, we make sure that we have already built a complete script.

We’re going to need to find a server. We’re going to need to turn on remote access, make sure that our Internet connection’s all up, test all that stuff, make sure that we’re ready for operation, and then turn it over to the remote users. You’ll want to test that process beginning to end.

Conclusion

contact ironorbit

Hope today’s information helps. Remember to reach out to your IT department and ask a couple of these questions and see what kind of answers you get back. Make sure that you include your questions down in the comments below, and I will get back to you directly. And of course we’d like you to like and subscribe to our future shows. We’ll see you next time.