How small businesses can ensure security in the cloud

Trend Micro SaaS vs. securityThe small and medium-sized business (SMB) landscape is defined by its competitiveness. These dog-eat-dog dynamics force business leaders to trim costs, improve worker productivity, and create new, sustainable business models. That’s why almost 90 percent of businesses want a cloud environment and adoption is expected to double in the next four years.

But many small business owners remain on the sidelines, wondering if moving some processes and applications to the cloud is worthwhile. And many of the businesses moving to software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions are making the same mistake, regardless of the industry: failing to improve their cloud security. Though we’ve come a long way in terms of protecting the cloud, risks always exist.

For some, SaaS might not even be necessary, and you won’t have to worry about the risks. But if you use SaaS applications or are considering them, an additional security layer on top of the built-in controls of your SaaS solution is smart thinking. (more…)

4 of the most frustrating private cloud challenges and how to solve them

Private cloud headachesCloud adoption is now the norm as nearly 9 out of 10 companies prefer cloud solutions, but many IT professionals are still asking, “Which cloud computing environment is best for my organization?” Interestingly enough, many organizations are using the “cloud” now and may not realize it — a private cloud, better known as an on-premises computing environment that’s supplied, deployed, and maintained internally.

Of course, discussions about cloud migration typically revolve around moving to a public cloud environment, in which computing services are offered and maintained by a hosting provider (e.g., Microsoft’s Azure or Amazon Web Services). Many organizations opt for a hybrid cloud environment that gives organizations the best of both private and public clouds.

So there’s a choice to be made: Should you stay in a private cloud or migrate to a public cloud? What about a hybrid cloud? While a private cloud does offer some benefits (a more secure computing environment, increased performance, and direct access to resources), there are disadvantages as well.

Let’s review the common headaches most organizations have with private cloud environments, and how public cloud offerings can give your organization some relief. (more…)

5 ways to strengthen your Office 365 security

Office 365 securityOffice 365 (O365) ups the ante of productivity, giving users the power to work from anywhere. Whether with Word, Exchange, SharePoint, or Skype for Business, Microsoft’s O365 suite allows users to access sensitive data remotely without a VPN. In the era of Bring Your Own Device and vanishing perimeters, that flexibility and ease of use is a big boost to productivity.

But that “always on” mentality can be problematic for IT, as sensitive data can be exposed if IT or users don’t follow the right protocols. Convenience shouldn’t come at the cost of security for your organization.

Luckily, there are some easy steps IT can take to tighten up O365 security without limiting productivity. Here are five ways you can improve your organization’s security posture while giving users the O365 functionality they need.

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We all hate latency. Here’s what some IT departments are doing about it.

mobile cloudSometimes latency is a matter of life or death.

That’s what first responders in Arizona’s Maricopa County realized when their 911 system couldn’t supply crucial data quickly enough. When an emergency call came through, operators updated a cloud-based system with details on where the emergency was, who was involved, and what was wrong. (more…)

Imaging and provisioning is easier with Windows 10. Here’s the story.

Replacing one laptop or tablet is easy enough, right? Sadly, as you might know all too well, it can turn into a multiday process that stunts productivity and extends downtime.

In the past, replacing a laptop meant IT had to physically touch it to upload the latest image. This traditional method of provisioning and imaging just takes too long and is too labor intensive.

Now imagine replacing 1,000 laptops with 1,000 tablets — how do you deploy and manage those, and how can they be better imaged? (more…)

4 best practices for sidestepping cloud migration challenges

cloud migrationWhether you’re the head of IT at an enterprise company with 100,000 users, or at an elementary school with 50 users, this much is true: Migrating to the cloud can be a frustrating and stressful undertaking. But it’s one that’s well worth the time and investment. The advantages in moving your environment to the cloud far outweigh any trouble getting there.

But how can you complete a cloud migration without all of the downtime, bugs, and slow user adoption that many organizations experience? The answer is simple, but not always put into practice.

Let’s go through some cloud migration best practices that make the transition less of a headache. (more…)

Why you should leave the client-server era behind for good

server to cloudFlashback to 2008: 88 percent of businesses preferred an on-premises server solution. Merely six years later, in 2014, the preference flipped: 87 percent of businesses wanted a cloud-based solution. The reasons are many: improved bandwidth infrastructure, lower pricing on subscription-based solutions, and convenience. Moving to the cloud just makes IT’s job easier. (more…)

3 simple ways to protect your AWS account

cloud securityThe head of global security programs for Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently said the biggest fear at AWS wasn’t a malicious attack or harmful coding, but a customer’s inadequate security protocols. Amazon stands by its security of a customer’s data at rest, but takes no action to prevent a user from maliciously – or accidentally – deleting any resources on an account.

AWS follows a shared responsibility model for its security — Amazon manages the security of the underlying infrastructure while customers control what security they administer in their AWS account. Yet some customers simply aren’t doing enough to safeguard their AWS assets. Even more bewildering, the tools and best practices available to increase the level of protection are incredibly easy and quick to implement.

Here are three simple things you can do to make sure your AWS account is better protected: (more…)

The 3 most common questions we hear about Office 365 deployment

Office 365 DeploymentYour organization has purchased Office 365 (O365). Now what?

If you’re tasked with deploying O365 and are unsure what to do next, you’re not alone. From uncertainty about which workloads to move, to a lack of technical expertise, many IT professionals we’ve spoken with have run into roadblocks in the way of completing an O365 migration. And pressure from the C-suite to move to the cloud doesn’t help.

Based on our recent conversations, we put together a list of the three most common questions we’re asked about O365 deployments. In addition, we’ll be conducting a free webinar to demystify the process and delve into the core technical components of a deployment. Take a look at the questions below and sign up for one of the webinars to kickstart your O365 deployment.

We bought O365, but how can we deploy it? How do we best consume the service?

It’s common for organizations to have under-deployed O365 assets – they just don’t know the best way to make use of their new services or conduct the deployment. Some companies, because they question the security of the cloud or simply hesitate to enact such a drastic change, simply sit on assets they’ve bought.

An O365 deployment can be accomplished either by an organization’s own IT department or with the help of a Microsoft partner that can help “turn on the lights” for your O365. When you consider your deployment options, investigate Microsoft incentive programs that help offset the costs of deployment.

With Microsoft set to offer new incentives in the coming months – details of the next incentive round will likely be announced in June – organizations that start planning now will be better prepared to qualify for them. These plans will provide a roadmap that can help you or a partner actually conduct the deployment.

What workloads should we move to the cloud?

While executives are pushing their organizations into the cloud, IT departments have to worry about the nuts and bolts: In the cloud, which workloads can be effectively run and which information can be properly stored?

The most common O365 workload we see moved over to the cloud is Exchange, followed by Lync and SharePoint. Lync is actually fairly easy to deploy in the cloud for organizations that run it on premises already. These are the most common workloads, but all Office products – Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, Access, and OneNote – are available through certain O365 licensing.

What skills and tools do we need to deploy all the necessary workloads?

A full O365 deployment is a daunting task simply because many organizations lack the tools or technical expertise required. Even planning a deployment can be overwhelming, and many IT professionals realize they need help in both the planning and the migration. Deploying from old infrastructure and servers (like soon-to-be-retired Windows Server 2003 components) presents its own set of difficult challenges that can stifle progress.

For some organizations, a lack of manpower in the IT department or the preliminary cost of a deployment are hurdles they cannot overcome. So when organizations rely on a Microsoft partner to help with deployment, they receive a new level of technical knowledge and different processes that help vault them past these common issues.

How to get your O365 cloud deployment off the ground

Once you have the basics down — whether you want to deploy yourself or with a partner, what you plan to deploy, and what resources you need — it’s time to take a closer look at the technical requirements. In our O365 webinar, we’ll look at everything from the core components of O365 to identity management to migrations of Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync.

If you’re a corporation, education institution, Texas education institutiongovernment agency, or Texas government agency that needs help deploying your O365 services or even figuring out how your organization can best take advantage of the service, register today to secure your spot in the webinar, and feel free to leave a comment below with any questions.