IT time wasters: Why you should take a second look at your email archiving

clock in trashNo matter how hard you try, it’s seemingly impossible to solve the problem of an overloaded inbox. Organizing the endless onslaught of emails is a daunting task, and just isn’t a high priority for most users.

IT, of course, sees it all a little differently. It’s not just a matter of storage and security, but compliance as well. If your company is audited, or your lawyers need specific emails because of a pending legal case, how will they access those important documents?

For some organizations, emails can only be retrieved with a great deal of effort and no small amount of detective work among stacks of tape backups. Others stick to external hard drives and other manual backup practices, carrying out archiving so ineffectively that it could take hours — maybe even days — to access the emails needed.

How can organizations take a smart and effective approach to email archiving? How can they pull up important old emails no problem while minimizing the time they spend backing up everyone’s correspondence? By reviewing your backup procedures and enacting a few new practices, you can put this classic IT time waster to bed once and for all. (more…)

5 ways technology can increase sales for brick and mortar retailers

shopping mallThe majority of U.S. retail sales still occur in brick and mortar stores, but maybe not for long. Online shopping has drawn dollars away from big box stores, which continue to struggle to attract customers given the convenience and discounts online retailers have to offer.

The giants of e-commerce are also swaying business in their favor through ever-shifting pricing, big data analytics, and a restless approach to capitalizing on technology. But physical stores are starting to catch up, increasingly adding new technology and methods to better serve customers. While some are taking a piecemeal approach and adopting new technologies as they go, the stores that stand a chance of competing with online retailers will look to integrate solutions for a better overall customer experience.

Consider these five ways technology can get shoppers offline and back to your business. (more…)

3 roadblocks to big data ROI

big dataBig data is offering answers to everything from the best ways to treat patients in a hospital to ensuring every airline flight arrives on time. Some organizations have built their success on big data. Netflix, for example, has found wide viewership for its award-winning original series in part because its data shows exactly what its viewers want to watch. Amazon too has an uncanny ability to predict what its customers want to buy, even to the point of shipping products before they’re purchased.

The era of big data is now, and while making sense of it is one of the biggest challenges facing organizations, big data offers companies large and small a window into their business, customers, and future. Organizations that think they don’t have anything to learn from big data are letting the competition jump ahead, propelled by insights that offer a competitive advantage.

Pursuing big data initiatives can help your organization make better strategic decisions and answer the most important questions about your industry. But before jumping into big data, or even if you have already, realize that with big data collection comes potential challenges. As you pursue a big data initiative, try to avoid these three major obstacles: (more…)

Is converged infrastructure the answer to Windows Server 2003 migration?

Win2k3As their responsibilities multiply, IT professionals can add another line to their resumes: multi-tasking to an extreme. IT’s workload balloons with company growth as servers and networks expand in size, volume licensing becomes increasingly complicated, and complex silos of information swell. Yet administrators must maintain optimal speed and storage, often on a shoe-string budget.

And now many IT professionals are also planning for Windows Server 2003’s end of support. The clock is ticking, and they must consider a number of factors for the migration, including hardware upgrades, software licensing, and whether current applications and systems will still function as needed after the migration.

In an effort to manage their Windows Server 2003 migration, lower costs, and condense their IT footprint, some organizations are investing in converged infrastructure (CI) solutions. Converting to CI offers a number of advantages for small to medium-sized organizations, as it frees up IT teams to more effectively manage software and hardware systems, especially as Windows Server 2003 approaches end of life. (more…)

Intrusion prevention systems: The must-have piece to your network security puzzle

intrusion prevention system (IPS)Network security is not a one-and-done process. Organizations can no longer install a few firewalls and expect their data to remain safe from breaches. If IT managers didn’t know this already, they learned it from the Target point-of-sales attack and the Heartbleed bug — just when we thought our information was safe, hackers developed new ways to snake through our systems and steal valuable data.

The only way to get ahead of these thieves is by changing the way organizations look at network security. Too many take a patchwork approach, implementing just a piece or two of a larger puzzle. One piece alone puts your organization at risk, but when you connect many systems and measures together, you complete the security picture.

One of the more important puzzle pieces that too many organizations still don’t have in place is an intrusion prevention system (IPS). The IPS operates on the front lines of network defense, working in tandem with intelligence gathering systems that comb logs for suspicious activity, application security tools that detect and thwart attacks on vulnerable applications, and data protection systems that keep your most sensitive information locked down.

And while it’s just one part of a comprehensive security plan, IPS is a must-have in today’s era of larger, more frequent, and more damaging breaches. Yet other tools are still in use as a first line of defense against intruders, including firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDSs). Here’s a breakdown of why IPSs should be an integral part of your larger security ecosystem. (more…)

Improving IT security: Why you need to consider Next-Generation Firewalls

IT-firewall

Firewalls can be the star performer in your inventory of security controls. A good firewall not only provides ways to manage user, application, and system behavior, but it also offers multiple avenues for controlling network traffic and can help companies cut back on vendor sprawl.

Yet in order to achieve optimal functionality, organizations must say goodbye to the firewalls of yesterday and welcome the new wave of Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs). As Gartner put it, “The firewall market has evolved from simple stateful firewalls to NGFWs, incorporating full stack inspection to support intrusion prevention, application-level inspection, and granular policy control.”

Traditional stateful firewalls are just not as effective as they were in the past due to the increase in intelligent adversaries seeking financial gain over defacement, their lack of specificity for network traffic types, and their inability to control traffic based on other factors, such as geographical region, application, or identity.

NGFWs offer several compelling functional advantages over stateful firewalls that can help organizations overcome these challenges. (more…)

You’re overdue for a data protection checkup

Stethoscope-on-KeyboardData is among the most valuable assets for any organization. And collecting, storing, and securing internal and external information only grows more important as the amount of data flooding in continues to rise.

Securing that data from hardware failure, natural disaster, malicious activity, or erroneous deletion can be challenging, especially if your data protection systems and processes aren’t functioning at their highest level. Given the speed with which data stores grow every day, it’s important to periodically audit and reassess your current data protection systems and determine whether an upgrade, refresh, or consolidation could better assist your organization in guarding your content.

Here are the four areas to review when evaluating your data protection solution. (more…)

3 things to know about Symantec’s new licensing offering

Earlier this month, Symantec released its new Enterprise Subscription Agreement (SESA). Today I’ll answer your three most pressing questions about the announcement and provide information to help you understand and leverage the new program.

1. What is the Symantec Enterprise Subscription Agreement?

The SESA is a three-year contractual licensing agreement for Symantec security products available to organizations with 250+ users. The agreement allows organizations to optimize security spend, standardize on solutions from one trusted vendor, and simplify license management.

2. What’s included in the Symantec Enterprise Subscription Agreement?

The Symantec Enterprise Solution (SES) is available as part of the SESA. SES combines products to provide multiple layers of protection for mobile, endpoint, and mail and web infrastructure.

The solution integrates a number of key security products to protect your data wherever it resides. It includes three main layers of defense. (more…)

State of the hybrid cloud: Report from EMC World 2014

The message last week at EMC World 2014 was loud and clear: The mega trends of mobile, social, cloud, and big data have organizations of all sizes, in every industry, racing to develop next-generation applications and better leverage big data analytics to redefine their overall enterprise and IT strategies.

The culmination of these mega trends and the opportunities and threats they introduce across all industries is what’s being called the Third Platform of IT.

It starts with new mobile applications that emerge daily, changing the way organizations interact and transact. These applications support more users and generate more information than their predecessors, leading organizations to redefine themselves with software, and transform data centers into fully virtualized and automated private clouds. At the same time, they’re also running certain applications in a public cloud.

Tasked with providing more strategic value to their organizations’ bottom lines than ever before, IT is seeking ways to become more efficient, agile, and cost-effective, meaning this hybrid cloud is where almost all applications will eventually live.

Suggesting a significant move toward adoption of a hybrid cloud model, the Economist Intelligence Unit published a report that found 63 percent of business executives plan to increase reliance on corporate IT to deliver both internal and external IT resources.

The announcements coming out of EMC World further support the prevalence of these themes and the movement toward hybrid cloud solutions. Here’s a recap of some of the big ones. (more…)

Please touch: New uses for interactive digital signage

Attention is at a premium. Video, audio, status updates, texts, articles, and more all vie for our attention every waking hour. With so many diversions, many industries are finding that they need new ways to reach their audiences. How can educators engage students, for example? How can retailers attract customers? How can a museum instruct visitors, or a hospital connect with patients?

Quite simply, it’s got to be interactive. And with users now accustomed to swiping and tapping their way through touchscreen interfaces, they expect hands-on experiences. Now retailers, schools, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and hotels are investing in a number of devices to provide exactly that through interactive digital signage.

Here are a few examples of interactive digital solutions and how they’re being put to use in various sectors.

Interactive whiteboards. Forget old-school chalkboards and traditional dry erase boards. Demand continues to grow among K-12 educators, as well as corporations, for digital whiteboard solutions, such as Sharp’s AQUOS Board. Instead of erasing and losing lecture notes after each lesson, teachers can now capture the writing on the wall and email students a screen shot of the day’s notes, diagrams, and assignments. (more…)