How to pick the best colocation option for your company’s needs

serversOrganizations considering colocation should be wary of big promises not documented in a contract, and costs much lower than other providers. As in most situations, a colocation data center offering that sounds too good to be true probably is.

Colocation has become a competitive landscape, and data center providers are offering superb benefits for seemingly great prices: metered power, attractive space costs, and endless connectivity. But there are specific aspects of these three components that need to be studied and questioned.

Before signing the dotted line, take a closer look at power, space, and connectivity. You should also investigate the best way to make the physical migration to a colocation data center and how to optimize your colocation benefits, especially if you’re expanding to new markets. (more…)

7 reasons why colocation makes sense for your business

colocation data centerData centers are a lot like cafeterias for most organizations — a necessity, but not something they want to manage. Frankly, most organizations are not in the business of making sandwiches or building and managing data centers. Owning and operating an in-house data center is just not aligned with their core business.

Compared with operating an in-house data center, leveraging colocation services from a data center provider offers numerous benefits that have driven steady adoption of these services over the years. Here are seven reasons why you should consider colocation data center services for your organization. (more…)

How many laptops has your company lost this year?

How many laptops has your company lost this year?It’s 11 o’clock. Do you know where your laptops are?

A misplaced laptop is no surprise to IT – many a laptop has been left in a public place or lost in plain sight on shelves or in drawers. And unfortunately, employees moving into a new job with a different company have been known to take their laptop with them. On average, 10 percent of IT hardware assets are in a state of purgatory, leaving no trace but a record in the books.

But is this a cause for panic? What’s the true cost of a few missing laptops to a business, especially one with increasing revenue and growing profit?

The real – and hidden – cost of lost laptops

Fact: Laptops are relatively cheap. Another reality: The content on those laptops is an organization’s lifeblood. If an employee loses a laptop, organizations can be faced with the loss of financial documents and information, HR records, regulatory filings, and valuable intellectual property. In addition, lost content could put an organization at risk of falling out of compliance with HIPAA or the SEC. (more…)

Cyberattackers had a great 2014. Here’s how to stay ahead of them in the second half of 2015.

Symantec Internet Security Threat Report 2014 was a banner year for cyberattackers, but not security. The high-profile data breaches of last year prove that antivirus is not enough, and the numbers of spear-phishing and web-based attacks, malware targeted at virtual machines, and ransomware continues its climb to historic levels.

Symantec highlighted the various methods hackers are using to attempt to steal company data in the 20th edition of its Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR). After a thorough reading of this April report, it’s clear that businesses of all sizes are at risk: (more…)

How to optimize your SMARTnet agreements

Cisco SMARTnetIT managers, take a second and think about your organization’s management of your Cisco SMARTnet agreements. If a hardware unit fails and needs replacing, how soon must that occur? When are your contracts up for renewal? If an emergency arises and you pick up the phone to call Cisco, do you know what service level your contract entitles you to?

While you think, ponder this astonishing fact: Cisco reports that 82 percent of all organizations that call into Cisco’s Technical Assistance Center (TAC) have incorrect information about their SMARTnet contracts and coverage.

Many customers have relayed uncertainty and confusion regarding management of their SMARTnet contracts to SHI. The disconnect between their contracted benefits and their understanding of those entitlements stems from four main issues: multiple SMARTnet contracts supporting a single organization, varied end dates, unaligned service levels, and SMARTnet purchases made through several different vendors.

Here’s another stat all IT professionals should know: 30 percent of all Cisco products are going end of life in the next three years, according to a recent SMARTnet webinar. Now is the time for organizations to start planning ahead and budgeting for the future. (more…)

Assessing security: How one health care provider stepped up its security outlook

healthcare securityWhen the federal government offers incentives to support a change, many organizations sprint to meet the benchmarks that trigger the payoffs. That was the goal when, in 2009, the government offered grant money to spur the adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs). Since 2009, 80 percent of doctors and 60 percent of hospitals have converted to EMRs, and $28 billion has been paid out to health care providers for converting paper files to digital.

A large health care provider in the Midwest was among them. Serving more than 200,000 patients, the organization had thousands of medical records on file that needed to be digitized. The company ramped up the push for electronic records to meet the government incentives, including its requirement to use only electronic records for Medicare and Medicaid patients by the end of 2013.

But as the company, like many providers, rushed to meet these new EMR requirements, it found the cyber security requirements were changing far faster than other technologies.

The organization knew it needed to ramp up security — and quickly — to continue to meet its responsibility to its patients and their privacy, and to continue to meet health care privacy rules and HIPAA requirements, while maintaining the security of the entire system. But with IT resources tied up in the switch to EMRs, how could the organization best upgrade its security? (more…)

Why it’s time to rethink what drives your IT security program

intrusion prevention system (IPS)In the past, IT security was like insurance, viewed as an expense, not a revenue generator. That perception left IT with minimal dollars allocated to securing networks, data, and other assets. But with the increase in threats, ranging from malware to data and identity theft, security has become a priority for all organizations.

Over the past three decades, businesses have developed structured security programs as federal and industry regulations became more prevalent. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) are some of the well-known guidelines that have advanced compliance-based security.

But regardless of the industry guidelines, both compliance controls and the threat landscape have evolved, introducing a new requirement to address: risk. Security can no longer simply check the box of compliance as it could in the past. Risk is the new basis for every effective IT security program. (more…)

3 vulnerability and assessment tools that will strengthen your IT ecosystem

snapshot-syndromeDig up your high school yearbook photo and you’re likely in for a laugh — the clothes, the hair styles, the glasses are distant memories for most of us. That snapshot of 18-year-old you is unlikely to be confused with who you are today.

And yet when it comes to IT, many organizations often find themselves the victim of a kind of snapshot syndrome, the common misconception that our environments exist in the state in which they were last measured or assessed. In reality, most infrastructure, policies, and processes are in a continually dynamic state, and just like current you compared to your high school yearbook photo, only a few undergo limited changes. (more…)

IT time wasters: IT procurement and managing the long tail

clock in trashIT departments are centering their sights on key software and hardware initiatives for 2015, aiming to increase productivity and enhance the entire IT environment. But there’s a pervasive obstacle to those plans that often steals IT’s focus from these goals and robs them of the time to implement them. That IT time-waster is managing the multitude of vendors that an organization works with.

Most IT departments aim for an 80/20 distribution for vendor management: 20 percent of all vendors representing 80 percent of IT’s total spend, with the other 80 percent of vendors representing only 20 percent of the spend. Typically, the biggest players in the IT market – organizations like Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and IBM – are an organization’s strategic suppliers and fill the top 20 percent. All other vendors represent the long tail. Here’s what that breakdown tends to look like: (more…)

How to make professional services work for you

professional servicesIn his classic book “Flawless Consulting,” Peter Block lays out the three ways that a consultant interacts with clients: as an expert, a pair of hands, or a collaborator. As Block points out, when a consultant is the expert, all the responsibility rests on his shoulders, and when it’s just a pair of hands, it’s of little value to the customer. But if the consultant and client collaborate to solve a problem, everyone gets the best outcome and the most value.

Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than in IT. Companies approach professional services organizations (PSOs) when they face an IT problem they can’t fix on their own, whether because they don’t have the skill set internally, can’t spend the time, or don’t have the resources needed to solve the problem. The best of these relationships are true collaborations. The customer has a clearly defined problem and the PSO helps the customer develop and implement a clearly defined solution.

But too often organizations approach professional services with only a vague sense of the problem, like the need to “configure hardware” or “fix a performance issue.” The timeline is hazy, the goals uncertain, and the outcome poor. These projects often take longer and cost more than if the organization brought specific needs to the table from the start. It impacts the effort required on the part of the consultant, and even how the professional services are purchased.

Here’s how to ensure a strong collaboration with a PSO and get the job done on time and on budget. (more…)