Category: Managed Cloud Services

Why Alignment in Manufacturing is Less Important Than You Thought
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Why Alignment In Manufacturing Is Less Important Than You Thought

Business Optimization is more important than alignment in the new normal
Section 1

Author: John McMahon

Read time: 7min

 

There has been a lot of speculation and much written in recent days about the “new normal.” How much is going to change? How much is going to stay the same? Who are going to be the winners and who are going to be the losers? There are many unanswered questions. One thing is certain, however these challenges are resolved will have long-lasting implications.

How will you lead the recovery of your manufacturing firm in 2020? The answer to that question will determine the health of your business in the coming months, and even in the coming years. Fortunately, leadership principles don’t change because the marketplace is thrown into upheaval. Business optimization is going to be your friend in the latter part of 2020 and beyond. As a leader, you want the best for your team. Balance the needs of your employees with investor expectations. What are your capabilities and cost of streamlining technology? It’s a tightrope to walk. There is good news. Others have paved the way. The technologies involved are dependable and effective.

Lisa Caldwell, in an April 14, 2020, Forbes article entitled “Now, Next, Beyond: The Three Phases Of Manufacturers’ COVID-19 Recovery,” addresses some of these concerts.

 

3 Main Conclusions & Action Steps:

Now – Address the Most Immediate Challenges – Employees, Customers, Liquidity

Next – Ensure Business Continuity and Enterprise Resilience

Beyond – Building Greater Agility and Resilience into the Organization’s Ecosystem

 

business recovery and optimization

What are the business realities of your manufacturing company?

The Alignment of People, Processes, & Resources

There has been so much said about alignment in business circles. The literature is full of “the alignment of people, processes, and resources.” So much so that the phrase itself has lost much of its meaning.

Why?

Because talk of “alignment” has become more of a marketing tagline. Instead of a business reality. The reality is that you will never find alignment perfection. The reason is obvious. Employees will come and go. Markets will fluctuate. Customer expectations will change. Suppliers can become dodgy. And technology is always evolving. The old axiom of “get everything set up so that it is perfect and all will be well” is gone forever.

Patrick Tickle of Planview wrote an article in 2016 boldly declaring, “Alignment Is Dead … or at Least It Should Be!” He was right. He said, “Everyone becomes so focused on aligning to the plan that they cannot easily take advantage of opportunities or pivot when they encounter challenges.”

The new mantra of manufacturing firms needs to be “agility.”

·         Agile Workforce

·         Agile Processes

·         Agile Technologies

It reminds me of the old cowboys trying to hit a target while riding on horseback. If you can make split-second decisions in real-time, continuously aligning people, processes, and resources, you’re an agile leader of a forward-leaning firm that just might make it in the information economy.

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What's next for industrial manufacturing? Adopting disruptive digital "make and deliver" technologies.

Although Different,
Discrete & Process Manufacturing Have Similar Priorities

For the outsider looking in on the manufacturing industry, it seems like all manufacturing firms do the same thing…make stuff. But you know different, and so does the IronOrbit team. Each manufacturing firm falls into its own category. Each one is unique within that segment of manufacturing. No matter where your firm sits in that vast expanse of Manufacturing organizations, you have similar priorities to your competitors and colleagues.

  • Implement and Utilize ERP Successfully
  • Integrate Disparate Applications for Greater Efficiency
  • Keep Processes Dialed-in and Optimized
  • Manage Complexity
  • Attain Sustainable Market Leadership
  • Maintain Customer Satisfaction

 

One article isn’t going to solve each of the multi-layered challenges you face. Take a look at these objectives. Consider which ones you want to tackle first.

In part 2 of this blog (be on the lookout for our email invite) we will explore some ideas that can be helpful as you move forward.

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In the meantime

If you'd like some expert assistance in fully optimizing your manufacturing firm, give us a call

(888) 753-5060

Or click below to learn more about our Manufacturing solutions.

Manufacturing Solutions
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.

Managed Cloud Services: Why Are They Essential To Business Growth?

Managed cloud services are instrumental in surviving and thriving in a digitally-enabled marketplace. Recent advances in technology have changed the way businesses serve customers.

The Internet era makes it possible to complete transactions at your fingertips. For your company to stay relevant, it’s either you adapt or perish. A classic case of digital Darwinism. Technological evolution becomes the name of the game.

One of the major advantages of managed cloud services is its capacity to keep data safe and secure. Although the transformation to the cloud requires an investment, the pros outweigh the cons. In fact, data security is only one of the many benefits of managed cloud services.

What You Might Not Have Known About Managed Cloud Services?

Googling managed cloud services

  • It’s more secure and less hassle for you

You might think that a managed cloud is all about accessibility and storage. But, the best thing about a managed cloud services provider is that they also offer related services that are beneficial to your business.

Your data and other business assets are secure in a cloud environment. This means that you’ll no longer have to worry about updating your software on a regular basis. Your cloud service provider will take care of that.

Data backup is also a major concern for establishments. With a cloud-based managed services, backing up your data is automatic. As a business owner, you will have the peace of mind knowing that your data sits in a secure cloud environment.

  • It saves you time and money

The cloud managed services market also provides a cost-effective solution for small businesses.

Are you struggling with managing the IT aspect of your business? A cloud service provider will end the complex process. Hiring in-house experts to manage software security can be costly and time-consuming.

The fact that you save money in IT staff makes cloud services a smart solution.

  • It allows for digital collaboration

Cloud services promote collaboration in the workplace. You’ll have the ability to link your company data to the electronic devices of your employees.

Aside from linking your important files and documents, the cloud also syncs information. This means you don’t have to think about saving your documents. The system does it for you.

Each time you revise or change your documents, the cloud syncs them for you.  Cloud’s sharing capabilities are the stand-out developments in cloud technology. This is why many businesses are taking advantage of these perks.

Even if your employees are across the country, they don’t have to be present to attend meetings. Your staff can go over spreadsheets and make changes using of cloud-based applications.

Cloud managed services providers reduce paperwork and simplify business processes. If you have not tapped into cloud services, now is a perfect time.

Managed Cloud Services Are The Future Of Digital Transformation

Today’s digital landscape has changed for the better. And the best way to cope with these changes is to embrace the advancements of modern technology.

Technologies like artificial intelligence augmented reality, and blockchain relies on cloud-based technology. And there’s no doubt that managed cloud services market is the driver for going digital. 

Cloud was once perceived as a mere component of building the information superhighway.

But, due to the complexity of the IT environment, the cloud has become a multi-purpose solution for business growth.  

For managed cloud services to thrive, it has to depend on the expertise of support staff.

Managed Cloud Services Are Instrumental To Business Growth

If you are aiming for exponential growth, make it a priority to improve your processes. This will help serve clients better and using cloud can help you achieve this.

Cloud and managed services should act as your partner in digital transformation. It shouldn’t be just another item on your budget.

According to the most recent study conducted by IBM, 70% of businesses admitted that they were able to provide better service to clients and customers by opting for managed cloud services.

This is good news because it provides plenty of room for business growth. Managed cloud services let you simplify the processes of a traditional work environment. Technology has its own limitations, but it’s a critical component in your business.

Just when you have learned to adopt new technology, changes emerge to improve your business process. Managed services cloud computing addresses these rapid changes by giving you an ability to scale your workload.

As soon as the new technology becomes available, you can easily upgrade as needed. For start-up or small businesses, manage cloud providers can provide guidance and direction. This will help fledgling businesses meet their goals faster.

Choosing A Managed Cloud Services Provider

manage cloud services guy working on a laptop

When shopping for a managed cloud service, it’s essential to test each provider. Doing your due diligence will ensure that they meet your business needs.

Here are five steps to choosing the provider that’s right for you:

  • Know Your Requirements

Make a list of must-have services that a managed cloud service provider should offer. Because there are many services for you to explore depending on the goals you want to achieve.

It’s practical to choose a provider that can offer all services under one roof. Look for a provider that offers virtual servers, data centers, and private cloud.

  • Assess The Hardware Capability Of Your Service Provider

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for your company. Each company has unique needs based on your requirements.

This is why you have to determine the hardware capability of your service provider to find out if it works for you. Cloud service providers with strong reputations and wide approval are the best choice.

Furthermore, you will also need features like in-house IT services, 24/7 data management, and monitoring, reliable disaster back-up, recovery systems and more.

So, take time to ask the company about the features they offer, and if you have the option to customize them. Provide extensive details on your operations so you can get a reliable recommendation.

  • Check The Level Of Security

Don’t risk choosing a cloud service provider that lacks reliable security protocols. A weak prevent exposing sensitive data, applications, and other mission-critical resources to threats.

A good service provider should have strong security protocols to keep your data safe.

Hence, ask your cloud providers about their security protocols. This is how you’ll know if they can protect your data from human error, malicious attacks, and hardware failure.

  • Negotiate A Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Finally, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve signed up for the service you paid for.

Don’t forget to secure a contract for cloud-based managed services. This step is important to ensure that the work promised materializes.

With a contract-bound agreement, your service provider is more likely to maintain accountability. The services must include regular performance reporting, uptime and outages updates, and logging essential information like your bandwidth usage.

Therefore, an SLA is a critical way for you to assess the capability and reliability of your cloud service provider.

Managed cloud services can level up your business whiles simplifying laborious tasks.

Do you think your business can benefit from the cloud? Drop a comment below.

 

Decrease Downtime with the Cloud

One of the main benefits of cloud computing is that it’s more reliable than traditional in-house, onsite IT—reliable meaning that it is more consistently available and experiences less downtime and data loss. This is mainly because cloud providers can afford to implement more advanced reliability-assurance measures.

The main benefit of increased reliability, meanwhile, is that it helps you to prevent extremely expensive and disruptive downtime and data loss incidents.

Downtime is when an IT asset (such as a PC, storage drive, server, router, or application) or service (such as a cloud-hosted application) isn’t working correctly and cannot be accessed or used. Data loss, as you would expect, is when data is permanently lost, as when a storage drive that is not backed up fails or is infected with a cryptovirus.

Downtime and Data Loss Cost

cloud downtime cost

Downtime can result in lost productivity, lost sales, and lost customers. It can be especially expensive and disruptive if the asset or service is relied upon by many employees or customers, such as a CRM, PoS system, or e-commerce system.

Data loss can be expensive and disruptive, too, depending on what type of data is involved. Data that can be expensive to lose includes:

  • Internal documentation (training manuals, policies and procedures, etc.)
  • Sales and marketing documents
  • Financial records
  • Customer records
  • IT settings files
  • IT logs
  • Product designs/blueprints
  • Internally-developed code

Consequences of data loss include wasting all the time and effort that went into the creation of the data, investing more time and effort in recreating the data, productivity loss as a result of employees not having all of the data necessary to do their jobs, upset and/or lost customers due to the delays or inconveniences caused by the data loss, and lawsuits, fines, and/or criminal prosecution for the loss of sensitive data such as financial records, customers’ personal information, and healthcare patient records.

According to recent studies, downtime costs businesses an average of $7,900 per minute, or more than $450,000 per hour, and costs all businesses in North America $700 billion every year. Data loss, meanwhile, is estimated to cost US businesses $18.2 billion per year, and enterprises around the world $1.7 trillion per year.

How to Prevent Downtime

maintain cloud uptime

There are two main ways to prevent downtime and data loss.

One is to purchase IT assets and services that have a reputation for being reliable. To find out if an IT asset or services is reliable or not, you can try asking around, searching the web, and/or thinking about which assets or services that you’ve found to be the most reliable in the past (perhaps you’ve purchased many Dell PCs and found them to be more reliable than other PC brands, for example).

You will want to do more to protect yourself from downtime and data loss than just purchasing reliable IT assets and services, however, since even the most reliable assets and services can fail sometimes or be affected by forces outside of their control (for example, even a perfectly-reliable Dell PC can be stolen, accidentally dropped, or destroyed in a flood or fire).

The other main way to prevent downtime and data loss is to make all of the important aspects of your IT redundant—ensuring that there is at least one extra unit of each important aspect of your IT than is necessary for your IT to function normally. Some examples of redundancies include:

  • Backing up your data
  • Purchasing spare hardware (including PCs, keyboards, mice, monitors, routers, switches, servers, and storage devices), and either keeping them close at hand so you can quickly replace failed hardware with them, or integrating them into a fault-tolerant architecture so that IT workloads are automatically transferred to them after the other hardware fails
  • Signing up for and maintaining Internet access with two or more Internet service providers (ISPs) at the same time
  • Signing up for electrical power from two or more different power companies at the same time
  • Purchasing, installing, and maintaining uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) and diesel backup generators

These redundancies ensure that even if an important component of your IT fails, you will be able quickly to replace it with an identical component, minimizing your downtime; or your IT will be able to switch over to the backup component immediately and automatically, which will prevent downtime altogether.

How the Cloud Decreases Downtime

cloud uptime statistics

Now, as we mentioned at the top, the main reason that cloud computing is more reliable than in-house, onsite IT is that cloud providers can afford to implement more advanced reliability-assurance measures.

And the reasons that this is that case include:

  • That they can host the solutions of multiple customers on shared, singular units of hardware, with shared redundancies
  • That because IT hosting involves a lot of automation and doesn’t require a lot of direct human intervention, they can host, maintain, and support the IT solutions of hundreds or thousands of businesses with a relatively small staff
  • Because of their IT specialization and economies of scale
  • Because they can get discounts on hardware, software, bandwidth, and electrical power because they buy in bulk.

As a result, cloud providers can afford to purchase advanced, custom-built, highly-reliable IT hardware and software, and make all of the most important aspects of their IT at least N+1 redundant, while still providing hosted IT solutions at a lower cost than it would take businesses to install and maintain them onsite.

Why the Cloud Is More Secure than Onsite IT (and More Cost-Efficient, Too)

It’s generally more secure to host your IT assets in the cloud than installing or hosting them onsite.

This is mainly due to the fact that cloud hosting companies can afford to implement the most effective security measures and hire the most qualified IT security personnel.

Cloud providers have much larger IT budgets than the average business, and their operating costs are shared amongst their thousands or millions of customers.

These are the main advanced security measures that only cloud providers, for the most part, can afford to implement:

Custom-developed hosting platforms.

Cloud providers often develop and use their own ultra-secure or “hardened” hosting platforms (a process that can result in tens of thousands of dollars in software development costs), since many commercially-available server operating systems and hypervisors have known vulnerabilities and are well-known to hackers.

Well-protected datacenters

Most businesses won’t do much more to protect their onsite hosting hardware (servers, storage devices, networking equipment, etc.) than store it in a locked room or closet.

Cloud providers, on the other hand, protect their data centers from unauthorized access with measures such as 24x7x365 patrolling security guards, closed-circuit video surveillance systems, card readers or palm or fingerprint readers, and impenetrable steel doors.

Advanced network and system security

Cloud providers protect their networks and systems from unauthorized external access with measures that include:

  • Authentication systems
  • Firewalls
  • Network monitoring
  • DDoS mitigation software
  • Content filtering
  • Spam filtering
  • Antivirus
  • IDS/IPS
  • Patch management
  • And data encryption

While many individual businesses also protect their networks and systems with these types of measures, the ones that cloud providers use are usually more advanced, either because they’re the more expensive, top-tier versions of these products, or because they’ve been extensively customized or reprogrammed by the cloud provider in order to maximize security.

Extensive internal security controls

In addition to protecting themselves from external security threats, cloud providers also implement internal security controls.

This is mandatory to ensure that all of the correct security measures are implemented in the correct way; that security incidents such as malware infections are responded to correctly; and that all employees understand their IT security responsibilities.

These controls, in the form of security policies and procedures, are more comprehensive, more clearly defined, and more strictly enforced than those of the average business.

On-staff IT security specialists

Cloud providers can afford to hire $50,000+ per year IT security specialists. This includes chief security officers, security engineers, and information security analysts. These professionals have the knowledge and experience to be able to maximize the effectiveness of the cloud provider’s crucial systems. These include security measures, policies, and procedures.

It would cost a business at least several hundreds of thousands of dollars, and sometimes millions of dollars, to set up and maintain an IT security system that’s as advanced and comprehensive as that of a cloud provider.

But businesses that can’t afford to implement their own enterprise-level IT security system has an option. They can still afford to sign up for hosted solutions from a cloud provider.

They are sharing the costs of the cloud provider’s security measures with the provider’s thousands or millions of other clients. Which means they only have to pay a small percentage of the cloud hosting company’s total security costs.

The Benefits of 24x7x365 Technical Support

24x7x365 technical support is included free with all IronOrbit hosted solutions. Our technicians are available around-the-clock via phone, email, or online chat.

In addition, our technicians are all based in the United States and are either native English speakers or fluent in both English and Spanish.

Also, our technicians all have several years’ experience providing remote IT support and possess an in-depth knowledge of all of the IronOrbit cloud hosting solutions. These include Server Virtualization, Desktop Virtualization, and QuickBooks Hosting services.

Many of our technicians have advanced certifications, including CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, CCNA, CCNP, CCISP, MCITP, and MCSE.

In short, because our technicians are all available 24x7x365, are fluent English speakers, and are extensively trained, experienced, and skilled, any time IronOrbit users can request help from us.

Whether it’s two in the morning or two in the afternoon, they can always expect to be provided with IT support. We are prompt, highly-effective, and hassle-free.

IronOrbit technical support isn’t only unique in its unparalleled quality and around-the-clock availability, however. It’s also unique in that it’s all-inclusive, meaning that we will provide technical support for all of a client’s IT hardware.

All-Inclusive Features:

  • Computers
  • Tablets
  • Smartphones
  • Printers
  • Scanners
  • Monitors.

And software (like Microsoft Office, Microsoft Exchange, or Intuit QuickBooks, regardless of whether or not they are used in connection with an IronOrbit hosted solution.

Businesses can contact us for technical support with any aspect of their IT infrastructure that we can fix directly (via remote connection or by repairing or recalibrating something that’s on our end) or guide them through the process of fixing the problem themselves.

The reason we’re capable of providing all-inclusive support, meanwhile, is that, rather than hire technicians whose skill set and experience would only allow them to provide IT support for our hosted solutions.

At IronOrbit we’ve made a point of hiring technicians with the versatility and wide-ranging knowledge to be able to fix any problem with any device or application.

24x7x365 technical support is just one of the IT services that are included at no extra cost with all of our hosted solutions; the others include Orbital Security (firewalls, IDS/IPS, antivirus, and content filtering) and managed data backups.

And just as the IT services that come with our hosted solutions preclude businesses from having to hire any onsite IT personnel. Every aspect of an onsite IT infrastructure is capable of being replaced by an IronOrbit hosted solution.

We can manage the following aspects of your IT so you don’t have to:

  • Desktops
  • Applications
  • Email servers
  • Terminal servers
  • File servers

Our hosted solutions eliminate the costs and hassles associated with a business managing its own IT infrastructure. At the same time make its IT more secure, reliable, and accessible.

To put the costs and hassles of IT management and maintenance aside, businesses should contact us at (888) 753-5060 or [email protected] and sign up IronOrbit cloud hosting solutions today!

IronOrbit Managed Server Hosting Options

Hosted servers (servers that are physically located in a hosting provider’s data center, which companies manage and access via the Internet and typically rent on a month-to-month basis) are preferable to onsite servers because the former can be accessed from anywhere and don’t require the purchase of expensive hardware.

Businesses can use these web-based servers to host any IT solution they want—including applications, virtual desktops, email clients, databases, and websites.

The advantage of selecting IronOrbit hosted servers, meanwhile, is that our hosted servers come with 24x7x365 all-inclusive technical support, an enterprise-level IT security system, and managed data backups.

With IronOrbit Managed Server Hosting, businesses get around-the-clock IT support and thorough protection from security breaches, downtime, and data loss.

The five different varieties of Managed Server Hosting that we offer are:

  • Dedicated Server Hosting. A dedicated server is a single-tenant hosted server. Unlike with virtual dedicated servers, where a business’s virtual server is hosted on the same physical server as the virtual servers of other businesses, with dedicated servers businesses get an entire physical server to themselves. The main advantage of dedicated servers is that they generally have more processing and storage resources than virtual servers. It’s also required in some industries to host sensitive data like payment card information or medical records on single-tenant servers.
  • Virtual Dedicated Servers. With virtualization technologies, it’s possible to partition a single physical server into multiple, independently-functioning virtual servers. With virtual servers, businesses that only need one-fourth or one-half of a physical server’s processing and storage resources only have to pay for one-fourth or one-half of a physical server. And because virtual servers are scalable, businesses can also add users and resources to a virtual server at any time.
  • Terminal Servers. A terminal server is a server that’s running Microsoft Terminal Services. With Terminal Services, businesses can centrally host and manage all of their Windows-compatible applications. Hosted Terminal Servers from IronOrbit are ideal for businesses that want remotely-accessible applications, or that don’t want to deal with purchasing and managing their own onsite servers but that still want to directly manage their applications.
  • Citrix Servers. A Citrix server is a server that’s running either Citrix XenApp or Citrix XenDesktop. As with Microsoft Terminal Services, with Citrix XenApp businesses can centrally host and manage all of their applications. With Citrix XenDesktop, similarly, businesses gain the ability to centrally host and manage their virtual desktops, along with their applications.
  • Compliance Hosting. A compliance server is a server that has been customized to comply with data security regulations such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, SOX, and GLBA. IronOrbit Compliance Servers have been used by businesses in a number of industries—including retail, healthcare, finance, government, and manufacturing—to ensure compliance with their respective regulations.

To sign up for any of these types of IronOrbit Managed Server Hosting, businesses should contact us at [email protected] or (888) 753-5060 today!